Psalm 22:22-31; 150:6; Revelation 5:9-14
It is impossible for the intelligent creature, placed originally in happy relationship with God, to find permanent satisfaction in anything beneath him, whatever resources may be apparently at his disposal. This is why man in his fallen condition has hunger in his heart, which nothing seems able to appease. The world proposes to cure this painful malady, but the very number of its panaceas witnesses against its proud pretensions, and those who have tried them bitterly complain that they have spent their money for that which is not bread, and their labour for that which satisfieth not. Solomon asks, “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has babbling? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes?” And he supplies the answer: “They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.” And he adds, “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it gives his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder” (Prov. 23:29-32). And wine is but a figure of the best of earthly joys, which never satisfy, and are only vanity and vexation of spirit.
It was never intended, we repeat it, that man should find his enjoyment in the things beneath him. The streams of earth are not able to yield happiness to a heart that is formed to find its delight in God Himself. The Lord says to the woman at the well of Sychar, “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:13-14). God has no thought of leaving his poor deceived creature forever in this dry and thirsty land. He has sent His Son to lead the heart of the wanderer back to the Fountain of life and satisfaction.
But this satisfaction lies in the knowledge of God, as He has been revealed in Jesus, who was here seeking the lost. Only in that which He came to bestow could true satisfaction be found. He was here making the Father known, that man might be brought, not only to find every need of his heart met by this wonderful revelation, but that he might become a worshipper of that Father in spirit and in truth. And for this He not only came into this world, but laid down His life.
And the Father was seeking worshippers, those who would worship Him in spirit and in truth. He wanted His poor creature to know Him in His true character, so that he might no longer be under the power of darkness, but in the light, where only life and satisfaction of soul are found; and that he might be there with his cup of happiness full to the brim and his heart flowing over in praise and worship.
In Psalm 22:3 the Lord is said to dwell in the praises of Israel. He dwells in the midst of a people who have all their joy in Himself. Also, the Psalmist says, “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving. This also shall please the Lord better than an ox or bullock that has horns and hoofs” (Ps. 69:30-31). The Lord delights in the happiness of His people, and that happiness is expressed in a song, which sets forth His excellencies, as they are known by those who stand in the light in which He has made Himself known in Christ. But as it is in redemption God comes to light, so the first song we get in Scripture is the song of Moses and the children of Israel on the wilderness banks of the Red Sea. And you will find that their song is but a celebration of the triumph of Jehovah over the might of the enemy, and of the confidence of the people in Him as their Deliverer. He must be known to be praised, for His praise is simply the setting forth, as I have said, of His excellencies, and those excellencies come into view in the work of redemption. Hence until He is manifested as the Redeemer of a people we have no singing in Scripture.
But it is only in Jesus and in the redemption wrought by Him that God has been perfectly declared, therefore it is only by Him that we come to praise in all its perfection. When heard “from the horns of the unicorns” (Ps. 22), He says, “I will declare Thy name unto My brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise Thee.” As delivered from the miry clay of death, and as having His feet planted upon the unshakable rock of resurrection, He declares the Father’s name to His disciples, saying to them, “I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and unto My God, and your God.” Then the “new song” that has thus been put into His mouth He sings in the midst of His own. We follow in that song.
He says, as it were, “I will let My disciples know what Thou art and I will make known Thy name to them; in the way in which I know Thee they shall know Thee.” We are in His life, and in His relationship to the Father. All that we had done and all that we were, as in the flesh, gone for ever from before God, and with the cry of “Abba, Father” on our lips we gather around the Son and follow in His song of salvation. Therefore between His singing and ours there is no jarring note. We are with Him on His side of death and judgment, and in the sunlight of the Father’s love, and “as He is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17).
But in Psalm 22 the circle widens to the whole assembly of Israel in the day of His glory. He says, “My praise shall be of Thee in the great congregation.” All Israel shall yet join in His song of praise. And again, we read, “They shall praise the Lord that seek Him”; and “All the kindreds of the nations shall worship before Thee.” The whole world shall take up the strain, and every soul shall celebrate the virtues of the Lord in deathless song.
But not only shall the earth resound with His praises, but heaven itself shall not be silent in that day. The last five Psalms anticipate this day of Israel’s redemption, and of the gladness of the heart of the whole creation. And there in Psalm 148 from the heights above to the depths beneath redeemed creation is summoned to join together in His praise. These Psalms are called “Hallelujah Psalms,” because they all begin with the word “Hallelujah,” and end with the same, They are called to praise Him:
FROM THE HEAVENS:—In the heights, all His angels, all His hosts, sun, moon, stars of light, heavens of heavens, waters above the heavens.
FROM THE EARTH:—Sea monsters, deeps, fire, hail, snow, vapours, stormy wind, mountains, hills, fruitful trees, cedars, beasts, cattle, creeping things, flying fowl, kings of the earth, all people, princes, all judges of the earth, young men, maidens, old men, children. Let them praise the name of the Lord: for His name alone is excellent; His glory is above the earth and heaven. Then in Psalm 150 we have every manner of musical instrument taken up for His service, and the subject closes with a call to “everything that has breath” to praise the Lord: HALLELUJAH!
In that day the Devil will be bound in the Abyss. Now he has almost unlimited control over the elements of nature, and though God is above all, and overrules Satan’s activities for His own glory and for the good of His people, nevertheless the forces of nature do not always set forth, in a public way, the true character of God. Antichrist will bring fire down from heaven, and by the power of the Devil will do great signs and wonders; but in that day of which the Psalm speaks everything will move only at the command of God, and therefore will set forth His praises. When the Lord was here in humiliation He had to rebuke the winds and the sea (Matt. 8:26), but in this day which shall be so full of His praises there will be no occasion for His rebuke, for the stormy winds shall fulfil His will, like everything else (Ps. 148:8). All the forces of nature will wait upon His word, and will move only to do His pleasure, so that heaven and earth will unite in the praises of the Lord.
A vision of this glorious day was accorded to John in Patmos, and we have the record of that vision in Revelation 5. The book of divine counsel was in the hand of Him who sits on the throne, and the question was raised as to who had power to give effect to all that was written therein. None but the One who at all cost to Himself had accomplished redemption could do this. The Lamb who stood in the midst of the throne and of the living creatures and elders was the only One who could take the Book and open the seals. But when He does so the song begins. The living creatures and the elders declare Him, because He is Redeemer, to be worthy to take the Book and to open the seven seals thereof.
And John says, “I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the living creatures and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever, And the four living creatures said, Amen. And the four-and-twenty elders fell down and worshipped Him that liveth for ever and ever.” What is this but the fulfilment of Psalm 148? I may say it is the fulfilment of all those five “Hallelujah” Psalms.
What a day that will be, when everything in heaven and earth shall he headed up in Christ! When no jarring note shall be heard in the whole creation! When the Father’s kingdom shall have come, and His will shall be done on earth as it is done in heaven! When the heavenly Jerusalem, radiant with the glory of God, shall descend from heaven, and to the earth, so long afflicted by the presence and power of sin, shall bring life, and healing, and health! When the Father shall receive the worship He seeks, and when the Son shall be honoured as the Father is honoured! When the name of Jesus shall be excellent in all the earth, and the vast universe—redeemed creation shall, like a well-tuned instrument, peal forth the praises of the Father and the Son!
His praise has already begun in the Church. Let us therefore with our whole hearts offer to Him continually this acceptable sacrifice. HALLELUJAH!