Heads of Psalms: Book 4

J. N. Darby.


In this book we have God as the God of creation (so Sovereign of all things, and before all, wonderful truth!) in connection with Israel, and Israel placed as the special object in the midst of creation in blessing; because Jehovah was their God, the Creator of the ends of the earth; and He as Jehovah the Creator had made them the object of purpose in the midst of creation and providence.

The Church had a higher place, that is, union with the Creator in the person of Christ, so as to be thereby above the creation, though, as looked at in its own character, its members stand as first-fruits and heads of all created things.

The direct sufferings of Christ actually as man, in the midst of, and becoming head of, a creation belonging to, but indeed departed from, Jehovah His Elohim, are entered on,* and Himself revealed as the eternal Creator in Psalm 102; and His association with the Jews in their covenant relationships with Jehovah, knowing and confessing Him as the Most High, according to His secret counsel towards Israel, is taught in the beautiful Psalm 91.

{*Compare Hebrews 2:5-10.}

308 In this book it is invariably Jehovah that is spoken of; for from its nature, even when speaking of creation, its object is the identification of Jehovah, Israel's God, with the power of creation and the celebration of His glory. In Psalms 103, 104, we have Messiah's praises for Jehovah in Israel, and Jehovah magnified in creation. Though Israel be blessed in creation, and its centre here below in purpose, yet is there a covenant of Jehovah with the earth on which its blessings depend; so that it is just as in alliance with this name that Israel can thus appeal to the full blessing of this Jehovah the Creator.

In the midst of a blessing of Israel, flowing from the bounty of Jehovah the Creator and God of providence and government, the Gentiles (not the Church, that being above) necessarily come in. (See Ps. 96.)

Let us take these Psalms in detail successively. Psalm 90 is the Spirit of Christ in Israel appealing to these great truths in the time of, and out of, their distress and humiliation. He who created all things has the power, and is their God. It is by His anger they are consumed, not by man's power or will. He could say "return," when He turned to destruction. It is the appeal of faith in the enlightening power of the Spirit of Christ, righteous in its reference to God, and going on the ground of His Almighty power, which indeed was the source of the whole blessing to come in. It was real humiliation for them. Nothing but divine power could restore them, ascribing all supreme glory to God, and righteous in owning His hand and their estate. The secret of God was with them, was in their cry; it was the cry of prophetic faith, consequently that which can draw all from God's power as above our evils supremely. "Return, O Jehovah, how long?" Faith always reckons also on the unchangeable fidelity of God to Himself, and therefore to the relationships He has by grace put Himself into with others; and therefore, whatever the failure of man in his responsibilities, looks up out of this to what God is: "Jehovah, thou hast been our dwelling-place to all generations."

Egypt, Babylon, or the wilderness, made no difference in this: and the Spirit, which could sing in the wilderness, "Thou hast guided them by thy strength to thy holy habitation," could recur to the blessed truth across all the circumstances of an exercised people, or the rebellions which were the occasions of them. The Psalm then takes up this character of the Lord.

"Adonai, thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations." This Adonai is clearly Christ: we shall see the discussion of this point. (Ps. 102.)

309 Verse 2, He was God from everlasting before creation.

Verse 3, He by His divine power turns man to destruction, and again says "return."

On these three heads they pray in the acknowledgment of His hand upon them, to satisfy them with His mercy, to let His work appear and His glory to their children. "The beauty of Jehovah their God be upon them," for faith rises in its hopes (see the intercession of Abraham), and lastly, "establish the work of their hands;" for it is a Jewish supplication properly. This is a full preface to the book. It takes up the highest or most abstract character of Adonai as eternal Creator, though applying it to covenant mercy.

I add a few words on the moral condition of Israel as using it. It addresses the Lord at once as the God who had always been the dwelling-place of the nation; He who was God before the world was, whose power could turn man to destruction, and whose word recalls him. Israel was before Him in ruin — his misery felt as caused by his iniquity — all before Him; his days passed away in His wrath — terrible yet now humbled condition — a true state of soul wrought of God, though not fully knowing God. He prays that, in the sense of their ruin, marked in the shortening of their days — their state of vanity, they may learn the wisdom of reference to God. Praying, "Return, O Jehovah," that He their Lord might repent Him, casts them entirely on mercy, desiring it early, owning (another point of truth) the affliction as of Him, that His work might appear to His servants, and the beauty of Jehovah their God be upon them. Such is the prayer of the Spirit in Israel looking for blessing; humbled, but calling on the name of Jehovah, the name of covenant and perpetuity as their God, yet in mercy, but in benediction on the work of their hands. It is a prayer properly to Jehovah on His power, as known amongst them, revealed to them of old by that name, faith applying its covenant obligations to their present circumstances. This psalm then is more abstract and speaks from a higher ground, yet more especially Jewish, but Jewish in what Jehovah their God is rather than in relation to circumstances. Nothing to me can be more calm, confident, and beautiful — the confidence of righteous humility in faith: the Spirit of Christ — than this psalm.

Psalm 91. This beautiful psalm descends in one sense to a lower ground, taking the revealed names of God in connection with Messiah and Israel. We have first the two names by which God made Himself known to Abraham: one, the great title of millennial supremacy, used by Melchizedek; the other, the power given as a security to them that trust in Him.

310 But there is a knowledge of the secret place of the possessor of heaven and earth which is given only in grace. "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty:" such is the announcement of Abraham's God, the God of promise and covenant. Messiah answers that He will say of Jehovah, He is His refuge, His fortress, His God. This is the secret place of the Most High. The promises of almighty security consequently are attached to it. In verse 9 Israel regard Messiah as having taken their God for His God, and declare with joy His exaltation and security. In verse 14 we have Jehovah's announcement of His mind as resting in Him who set His love upon Him. Thus this psalm has descended from the abstract and fundamental supremacy of Creator to the place of covenant relationship resting in promise to Abraham, in accomplishment of blessing in the millennium, when the Melchizedek blessing shall come upon him that through Jesus shall know the secret of the Lord*; and the security of the power of the God of promise shall keep them through, while Israel bless Messiah, because He, the heir indeed of the promise and centre of the blessing, has taken their God as His God, shewing that the secret of the Lord was theirs and for them. The psalm has tacitly assumed the existence of the evil and the judgment on it.

{*From Morrish edition}

Psalm 92 is the joy and song of Messiah in the full result of blessing which hangs on, and is the answer to, these two names of the Lord, Jehovah in blessing and covenant faithfulness, and Helion, the Most High, as the source and securer of all blessing, possessor of heaven and earth.

It is spoken on the result of the true confidence in Him expressed in the last psalm, the great result explanatory of the allowance of the temporary exaltation of evil; and as it explains its temporary exaltation and the glory of Jehovah and triumph of Messiah, so it introduces Him declaring this triumph, and chanting the blessings flowing to the righteous, and their joy and gladness consequently in the Lord's house, witness of the uprightness and fidelity of the Lord. In a word, as the former psalm introduced all the personages in this great scene, and Messiah's identification with Israel and dependent confidence in Jehovah, this chants the great result in blessing and the joy to Him and the righteous, and the glory to the name of Jehovah through it all. The exaltation of the wicked had only served as the occasion of the display.

311 These three psalms are a sort of preface; they enter into no details, and are founded on no detail of circumstances, but announce the eternal source, dispensation, and joy of the blessing.

Psalm 93. The Spirit now proceeds to treat the subject, not the principles, of the glory. Jehovah reigns, clothed with majesty, clothed with strength, whereby the world is stable.

This throne is not thought of merely now, nor a new acquisition of power, though its exercise may be new; it is of old, and He the Lord from everlasting.

The waves of creature force have lifted themselves up, but the Lord on high is mightier; next the people of God have had the testimonies of God always sure but now assured, and further declaring, as His judgments and law do, holiness becomes His house. There is the rule of the kingdom for rejecters, and for inmates: mighty power, which sets aside all their pretension; and holiness, the character and law of God's house for ever.

This hangs on the great, now revealed, fact — Jehovah reigns.

It is the establishment of God's throne, and the full revelation and confirmation of His character. In scorn and rejection, their name cast out as evil, they had rested on His testimonies, the sure path of holiness; and now that power was brought in, and judgment returned to righteousness, they could with joy and triumph sing, "thy testimonies are very sure: holiness becometh thy house to length of days."

Psalm 95. The Spirit of Christ enters here into the circumstances to which the glory is an answer, and gives us the temporary exaltation of the wicked, and the appeal of the Spirit of Christ under the exaltation and prevalence of wickedness, and His righteousness vengeance is called for, not here exercised by Him, for He speaks as participating in the sufferings, as in sympathy by His Spirit in them a fellow-sufferer, appealing withal in His righteousness to God, giving sympathy in their sorrow, brought about by sin, and the efficacy of a portion in His righteousness, a claim upon God. This appeal brings in judgment.

Vengeance belongs to God (not to the sufferer). Thus it calls for divine glory, "lift up thyself." This is the great prophetic testimony, "Jehovah alone shall be exalted in that day."

312 Then the occasion, "how long, O Jehovah, shall the wicked triumph?

Then the special triple character of the wickedness: "They break in pieces thy people, thine heritage," as Jesus says in His prayer, "for they are thine."

Their moral wickedness, "they oppress the weak."

Their despite of God Jehovah, "Jehovah shall not see, nor the God of Jacob regard it." It is not merely God generally, but God where He reveals Himself and claims submission.

Next we have to remark the actual prophetic circumstances. First we have the wicked among the people — infidels of the Jewish nation; next in verse 20 we have the question, if iniquity is to be settled on the throne associated with the divine authority? It reckons on the establishment of the divine throne already revealed to the intelligence of the Spirit. If vengeance then be not exercised, the throne of wickedness and the divine throne will be in fellowship. But in reply to the spirit of infidelity, the Spirit of Christ appeals to the creative glory of Israel's God. "He that chastiseth the heathen" is an appeal to what the pride of the Jewish infidel would admit; then he must see it in them (compare Rom. 3, the argument at the beginning); next as to the pride and purpose of man, it is settled in a word — it is vanity. The meaning of the permission of the evil is given in verses 12 and 13 (compare Rev. 3:10). And it is rested on this, that though proved, the Lord will not cast off His people nor forsake His inheritance, but judgment shall return to righteousness, long in the place of trial and suffering.

In verses 16-19 we have the support of the Lord under, and in, the deep sense of the evil, and the appeal as to the impossibility of the Lord's tolerating a joint throne of iniquity; and consequently the judgment follows in a confidence first expressed by Messiah Himself, verse 22, and then associating all the people with Him, verse 23.

As to verse 13, it seems to me to imply preservation from, but during, the days of affliction (compare Isa. 26:20). The throne of Antichrist being established at Jerusalem, the appeal of verse 20 has wonderful strength.

In Psalm 95 we have the remnant fully convinced now, and assured of the deliverance of glory: so that in fact the Spirit of Christ summons the people finally to the joy of the revelation of Jehovah and His worship. This address of the Spirit of Christ is exquisitely beautiful. It summons the people finally, in the spirit of prophecy, to come and rejoice in the Lord, to enjoy His deliverances, to own Jehovah, by reason of His greatness, His relationship with them, His power, their ancient history; proposing to them this real sabbath of rest which now remained to them, even now to-day after so long rebellion — after all — if they would only believe. It is the last address of the Spirit in the remnant to the nation, "To-day if ye will hear his voice."

313 Psalm 96. This summons is addressed to the peoples and nations, not Jews, as Psalm 97 is the song so called for; Psalm 98 is the call for the Jews to sing, as Psalm 99 is again the song. Here the summons is to all the earth. But though the summons is to all the earth, yet Jerusalem is the centre, and the Jews are called upon as instruments of the summons; Jehovah is the subject of the song. Earth and creation now revived, as from the dead, in the restoration of Israel and the reigning of Jehovah, are brought forward as the objects of benediction and scenes of joy. He is to be feared above the gods, for He made the heavens. All the kindreds of the peoples are called to come up and own this Jehovah the Creator, whose glory is in Israel, to worship in His courts there in the beauty of holiness. All the earth is to fear before Him; not only are they called to come up, but the great declaration "Jehovah reigneth" the LORD is King is to go through the nations, and the world itself will be established immovably by the reign of Jehovah, and He will judge the peoples righteously. Then the universe is called on to rejoice at this display of His righteous power. Thus, while Israel is placed centrally as the place of Jehovah's covenant, the whole creation is summoned into joy, for He is the Creator as well as Israel's God, and moreover in power judges the earth to maintain the blessing.

Peoples are in relationship, but not Israel. The "goiim" are addressed, but the "ammim" judged. His coming is announced as the means and introduction of all this.

Psalm 97 is the most perfect answer to Psalm 96; the new song which never could be sung before — the glory of the Lord manifested — everything melting before it, confounding judgment pronounced on the gods of the heathen. The heavens whence He comes declare His righteousness; and therefore it is secured in power (there was none on earth to present to Him); and all the peoples see His glory. This is Zion's joy as the manifestation of her Lord; practically, as a prophetic instruction in Zion, it is the righteous remnant who will enjoy it. Light is sown for the righteous, however dark the circumstances and adverse the power for the time. The manifestation of righteousness in the heavens at the coming of the Lord the Christian can fully explain. Jehovah is now high above all the earth. "What shall the recovery* of them be but life from the dead?" The centraling, extension, and introduction of righteousness declared in the heavens are remarkable points in these Psalms.

{*From Morrish edition.}

314 Psalm 98. As Psalm 96 was millennial joy introduced into the earth and among the Gentiles (these two things being united in the title and name of Jehovah's power — the possessor of heaven and earth, and whose union we have seen to be the great object of these Psalms, and the Jews the providential centre), this psalm introduces the providential centre, and calls on them to sing as those in whose behalf the Lord has recently appeared. Jehovah alone in power has gotten the victory. Jehovah's interference recalls what is properly Jewish, and we find it distinctly revealed, when the conflict is the subject of the prophecy as in Zechariah 9. This interference is here celebrated. It is not judgment from heaven but on earth; so it is not now "the heavens declare his righteousness," but He has shewn it in the sight of the heathen. It is not a call on the Jews to go forth and shew the glory and greatness of Jehovah to the heathen, but to the celebration of Jehovah's deliverances and salvation in their behalf now manifested. "He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel." Grace, and faithfulness to promises founded in grace, are the celebrations or songs of Messiah, and the salvation of their (Israel's) God has been seen to all the ends of the earth. This salvation, it seems to me, is specially after the manifestation of Messiah from heaven; and, they being accepted, the exercise of Jehovah's power in their favour upon earth (as already noted from Zechariah) on till Gog is destroyed. Hence the Jews call on the heathen to celebrate, not Messiah or the Jews to go and summon them with the declaration of the subject of their joy, but Jehovah is styled the King. The character of the joy and its celebration is Jewish joy, as constantly seen in the Psalms, and in the temple worship. Hence also the heavens are not called on to rejoice, nor so much creation as the world, its inhabitants, and the symbols of mightiness and strength, though in terms of the creation. The coming of Jehovah to judge the earth is still the great theme, but here as before it is the settled throne, not the warlike judgment and destruction by Messiah in power.

315 As Psalm 97 is to Psalm 96, so Psalm 99 is an answer to, and in full correspondence with, Psalm 98.

Jehovah is sitting between the cherubim, great in Zion, and high above the peoples. The king's strength is celebrated, and executes judgment in Jacob. So "exalt ye Jehovah our God, and worship at his footstool." The Spirit too in Israel recalls, with the understanding of grace, His ancient dealings with them in the distinctive acceptance of His saints, and dealings of judgment with them on account of their ways. Creation and universal joy and peace are not as much brought forward, as the covenant and habitual and well-known blessings of Israel in mercy and truth, made theirs by Jehovah's power in their deliverance. It seems to me also somewhat further on in point of time than 96 and 97, which are more widely prospective on the first manifestations of the incoming of Jehovah's power, which, be it noted, acts on apostate Gentiles when the Jews are in rebellious union with them.

Psalm 100 is Israel's introduction of the Gentiles into the temple, that they may rejoice with them, His people; a most lovely psalm: Israel blessed, at length recognizing grace. They are to know that Jehovah, He is Elohim, the Creator of Israel, they His people and sheep of His pasture. Creative grace made them so, and appropriated them to be so, and thankful hearts (no longer undertaking in rebellious strength, or murmuring in proud weakness) can well own and declare the mercy which has now set them in well-known grace, that they, witnesses of grace, may, in the spirit of it, introduce others to their blessings. What a change in Israel, what a restoration of them indeed! And how is grace manifested in it, how lovely its character in them now, in contrast with them of old! Nothing can be more beautiful than the spirit and revelation given in this Psalm. Paul brought Greeks into the temple, and was sent far off to the Gentiles, but he was a pattern for those who hereafter should believe on Him: in him first, Jesus Christ shewed forth all long-suffering, but these could, with him, also now tell the peoples that His mercy was everlasting, and that Jehovah was good. This closes this half or chapter of this book, what follows presents to us Messiah's part in it.

Psalm 101 gives Messiah's conduct of His royal house and land.

316 Psalm 102. A magnificent and most wondrous contrast of His humiliation among them, and divine creative glory.

In Psalm 103 He blesses Jehovah as the head, and in behalf of Israel.

In Psalm 104 it is as the glorious Lord of creation — characters we have seen so much united in this book.

Psalm 105 is a song of remembrance for Israel according to promise.

Psalm 106 is of intercession as guilty under the law, and protracted providential mercies of Jehovah their God, closing with the doxology of certain and unfailing reliance.

We will trace them a little more fully.

We have first in Psalm 101, the blessed voice of Him who alone knows how to reconcile mercy and judgment, to exercise judgment in mercy towards His people, and to make the fullest and most necessary judgment subserve to the purposes of mercy. Here Messiah owns these great principles in Jehovah, and sings to Jehovah in the consciousness of the fulness of these principles of government in Him — their efficacy and goodness before Jehovah — the maintenance of the light of truth and grace by them in Jehovah's house. He proposes, in the expression of conscious rectitude and perfection, His way before Jehovah, whose way it is. In effect it is the detail of the government of the house in the scene which the former Psalms disclose, as, by introducing Messiah, we are, as in every one of these books of Psalms, introduced to the fellowship of His sufferings. Here Messiah, identified with the Jews, proposes this righteousness as His way of government; and, always a servant, in that character looks for power — the manifested power of the presence of Jehovah. Jehovah need not be afraid to come nigh unto Him: He will walk within His house with a perfect heart (compare 2 Sam. 23:1-7, and compare ver. 5, and what follows specially); and besides, as His king in the land, purge it of all iniquity, and rid of evil doers the city of Jehovah. He is Jehovah's servant in the accomplishment of these things — such in peace and judgment within the land, Immanuel's land; and now waits only for Jehovah to be set up in it. For Christ is set king in Zion by Jehovah, and as His king; so that it is even Jehovah's kingdom when Christ's.

But for the introduction of these blessings, it needed other sufferings of Messiah. For the blessing of the earth and the redemption of Israel, He must suffer even to death. Messiah therefore is introduced in Psalm 102 as looking to the Lord, and crying to Him from all the consequences to Himself of the redemption of creation and the sin of His people (compare fully Heb. 2); and, nota bene, the sin of Israel forces Messiah into the position which sustains her (what marvels of grace and depths of wisdom!); and not only so, but into the place of far deeper counsels of grace and glory.

317 This deep and wonderful psalm takes up the suffering of Christ as the pivot of the whole Jewish blessing — the accomplishment of the divine counsels, and the glory and revelation of the divine perfection and excellency of Christ Himself. Messiah presents Himself in the midst of Israel before Jehovah, as utterly desolate, and under the reproach of His enemies all the day, but therein with a sentiment of its source far deeper — "Thine indignation and wrath." He had been exalted into the place of Messiah, for so He speaks here, as "one chosen out of the people" — Jehovah's elect, His servant whom He upholds; and now, cast down, He is under indignation and wrath, His days are as gone. But He has identified Himself, as we have seen in Psalm 91, with the name and promises of Jehovah; He, as a shadow, gone, for the reproach too, and fidelity of Jehovah, but with this word, Jehovah is for ever; His support and faith perfect when there was nothing but Jehovah, and this is the essence and difficulty of faith in which Messiah was perfect, as in everything. On this ground of the stability abstractedly of Jehovah, and His remembrance, He turns to the promise and consequent necessity of the benediction of this, whereon His name was set before men.

The humiliation of Messiah, as the occasion of His necessity and cry of faith, is just the spring of hope for all the ruin into which He is entered (and out of which the cry comes), as to the redeemed people only when consequently united to Him in this cry, and faith understanding the ruin. Long time He had held His peace, but He would arise and have mercy upon Zion, for the time to favour her was come, for His servants take pleasure in her stones; they also think of the thoughts of Jehovah towards her, and their heart is identified with what Jehovah's heart and promise was identified with. This was a time of blessing. Thus by the manifestation of His faithfulness (for she was as in the dust, but that Jehovah had a title of His own and exercised it), the heathen would fear the name of Jehovah, and all the kings of the earth His glory, for it was manifested. Thus Messiah put forth, and His heart finds rest in, the faithfulness of Jehovah towards the object of Jehovah's especial regard — the place and the city He had chosen for Himself; and He rejoices over the glory and blessing, by that faithfulness, of the scene and subject of His tears, who would have so often gathered her children. But entering into the heart of Jehovah towards it, He must for its accomplishment enter into all its responsibility and ruin, and in this the Psalm presents Him. Further, when Jehovah builds up Zion, He will appear in His glory in behalf of the poor destitute, He hath looked down from heaven to loose those appointed to death, for such was the critical state of the people of Jehovah there at this time, and this that His name might be fully declared in Zion, and His praise in Jerusalem; so that the peoples and nations should be gathered there to serve Jehovah.

318 In verse 23 and the beginning of 24, the voice of Messiah again is heard reciting His own part in the sorrow, and presenting His case for Him. He had weakened His strength in His journey, and shortened His days. He, fearing, cries "O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days," submits to the power of death, as made liable to it and bowing under it but appealing to Jehovah against it. But as, when the humiliation of Messiah was declared, the glory of Messiah and the faithfulness of the promises were announced; so when He bows His head before Jehovah in death in perfect submission (for entreaty to Jehovah against, is when real, perfect submission to), the answer of the divine glory of His person at once breaks forth. He was Eternal — He might die, but He was Eternal; — He was the Creator, however He had taken the responsibility of the creature. The creature would be folded up as a garment, and be changed by Him; but He was the existing One, and His years would have no end. Further, as the Messiah, the children of those that served Him would continue, and their seed would be established before Him.

I have gone very simply through the thread and connection of the Psalm, but if studied by the Spirit in faith, it is wonderful in presenting the humiliation, and that even to death — the glory and divinity of the Lord Jesus — the Creator in the ruin of His creature — as the power of redemption, and this, withal, in the accomplishment of His ordered promises on earth, of which Zion is the centre, Jehovah the name of faithfulness, power, and truth.

319 I add some additional notes.

We have here the circumstances of Christ connected with all this Jehovah-blessing. He is Jehovah. It begins with the suffering of Christ (resuming all this position from the first two psalms), instead of blessing in the midst of Israel. He is a suppliant in the midst of creation (but note this is the salvation of the nation, for He has identified Himself with it), suppliant to Jehovah, for this psalm is all of Jehovah the God of the Jews (having title to the earth also, nothing could exceed His descension and κένωσις), still strange as all that might be, as He declares, for His faith and truth fail not, Jehovah endures for ever. This faith is in the sufferings of Christ, the pillar of the nation; He holds them up, while they reject Him, the evidence of their evil, even though against Him, being the occasion of His intercession and effective sufferings. Then saith He to Jehovah, "Thou shalt arise and have mercy upon Zion." The set time was come: utter desolation, no help but the memorial of it presented by the Spirit of Jesus. So (for Jehovah was interested in it) the heathen would fear Jehovah's name. Observe how He keeps up the thought of identifying Jerusalem and Jehovah, even in her dust. Then comes a revelation, "when Jehovah shall build up Zion, he shall appear," etc. In mercy to the destitute, He hath looked down from heaven for this — to declare the name of Jehovah in Zion (such was the manner of it): and the peoples and the kingdoms are gathered together to serve Jehovah. If this be all so; if He hears the destitute and delivers; if this be the name of Jehovah and His glory in Jerusalem, how concerning the Lord? His strength was weakened and His days shortened. He cried in this position to His God not to be cut off; then the glory of the Lord bursts forth in all its splendour, "Of old thou hast laid the foundation of the earth." Creation hangs on this smitten poor one. He made it. Creation shall change — shall be rolled up — renewed — but "Atta hu!" He exists ever the same. Such might have been His work, but His nature was eternal existence. His years in time shall have no end. Such is the rejected Messiah. Not only shall Jerusalem be the scene then of His praise, but all creation shall welcome the return of the Lord in blessing, relieved by these very circumstances. In the midst of it, the children of His servants should have an abiding portion — those honoured who honoured Him — and their seed shall be established before Him. Thus is the power of this blessing of Jerusalem and creation, fully revealed in the person of Christ; His sufferings seen.

320 In Psalm 103 we have the answer to all this in praise, telling what Jehovah is. It is Messiah praising in the midst of the congregation, and praising on the ground of a universal blessing, co-extensive with the efficacy of His sufferings; and the scene, the fall and ruin into the centre and depths of which His sufferings entered; and withal, with the competency to bless in return of the principles and glory of Jehovah which were dishonoured by, and in question therefore in, the state of ruin into which Messiah had entered, that He Jehovah might be glorified. Of this the centre is Jerusalem, though it is recognized (as we know more fully) that He has set His throne in the heavens. In this great transaction and its result man is manifested to be but grass: so in the same scene in Isaiah 40 the same discovery is made. But in His dealings with Israel the faithfulness, patience, healing mercy, consideration of their feebleness and low estate, deep interest in His people, mercy and righteousness that failed not, are all brought out to light before the children of men. He had shewn His ways in intimacy to Moses (see Ex. 34 and Deut. 32), and His public acts accordant with them to all Israel; and this is remembered in Messiah's song, thus shewing the eternal character of Jehovah, "the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever." But through Messiah's mediation and suffering for the necessary glory of Jehovah, the full tide of His righteousness and compassion can flow towards them in forgiveness, healing and blessing; and all their sins were put far away from them, and they were renewed in strength. This, to wit Israel, being the centre of revealed display of these dealings and the whole character of Jehovah, creation is brought in as chorus of His praise. The throne in the heavens is seen and known. The great truths of the Church's place there remain unrevealed (that is, our portion), but creation and providence are brought forth in all their parts in the fulness, or summoned to the fulness of praise. Jehovah's throne is in the heavens, His kingdom rules over all; faith ever recognizes the title, but this celebrates its accomplishment and existence. The angels, all the hosts of Jehovah of hosts, His ministers that do His pleasure, all His works in all places of His dominion delivered and rescued from evil, are summoned to join in the praise of Jehovah now glorified in them — praise now easy, because they now enjoy the fulness of blessing of all that He is, and reflect that glory and the enjoyment it conveys. He has struck the chord note on which all the harmony hung, and whose soul was the centre as the procuring cause of all the harmony, and, as feeling it all, in love and delight could best lead in, and resume in His own perfection all that had been displayed in it. The Jehovah that could delight to bless, and the sufferer that could obtain the blessing according to Jehovah's glory, again sounds that sweet and powerful and abiding note "Bless Jehovah, O my soul!" What exquisite music in the sound of that voice, which has thus knit the blessing of the heaven and the earth, and harmonized the glory of Jehovah with the ruined creature, and brought praise and joy out of the discord of banished sin!

321 The first five verses are the expression of Messiah's soul in the midst of, and representing, the people. Verses 6 and 7: His Spirit opens the door to Israel's praises in old remembrances, how Jehovah once began. In Israel it then answers in the consciousness of all the dealings which after long patience has established them in the latter days, and His glory in the midst of them. Verses 19-22: from this centre all the blessing connected with it, and powers displayed in the result, are called on to praise and bless; and lastly, as we have seen, the Spirit of Messiah resumes the blessing, calling on His soul to bless. Further, in the comparison of verse 3 with Matthew 9:2-6, we learn who it was in all His humiliation that presented Himself in the day of their humiliation to His ruined people.

In Psalm 104 we have still Messiah, in spirit recognizing the glory and excellence of Jehovah in reference to creation; creation, moreover, not in its final renewal, but in its providential governance. As we have seen in the humiliation of Messiah, the mind of Jehovah passing through circumstances the most contradictory for the accomplishment of His glory (He "for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, making the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings"); so here we see, in the midst of the ruin which sin has introduced, Jehovah has never let go His hand, but controls and orders all providentially (for we must note that where there is no evil there is no occasion for providence, properly so called), and not in the unity and essence of God, but as Jehovah, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. The God of creation, government, and relationships of mercy and judgment with His creatures, He continues the display of His power in the midst of, and in spite of, the evil. In Him, (though man failed in it committed), this issues not in the putting away and non-existence of evil, but in majesty — supremacy over it, and the understood and necessary dependence of all things on His providence and government by which evil is restrained and repressed. This, as committed to man, found its place in Noah, but there was failure here as everywhere. But Messiah now celebrates this power and majesty in Jehovah in the scene of creation, and prays for the putting away of the wicked, consuming of sinners out of the earth, and the non-existence of the wicked, and that thus place be made for the unhindered enjoyment of creation and Jehovah's glory manifested and exercised. His soul therefore passes through all the details of creation, celebrating the power and providence of Jehovah, and prays that sinners may be consumed out of it, and thus completes the two parts of Psalm 102. As this owned Him as God, so in Psalms 103 and 104, Messiah owns Jehovah as to the two subjects of that psalm — creation and the Jews. If we compare Psalm 19 we see there the glory of God simply in creation, and the perfection of the law abstractedly shewn; here, the glory of Jehovah governing and supreme, His glory very great in the midst of all things evil, existing perhaps in judgment if needed, but glorified in all, and ministering blessing to man. In this state of things Messiah recognizes Jehovah, "the young lions seek their meat from God;" in all this the spirit of Messiah praises Him. There is still a work remaining for Him who, in the midst even of disorder, sees that the earth is Jehovah's, and His glory in it, as a righteous Jew would; the destruction of sinners out of it. Such is the view of the righteous soul of Messiah, in spirit viewing the position of Jehovah in the midst of a world where effects witnessed indeed misery, but where faith saw Him in the midst of it. This desire of the destruction of the wicked belongs to the providential government of the world; not to the present position of the children — they are to grow together to the harvest: but by faith we can have meditations of Him in the providence which precedes it, which are sweet, and most sweet to the soul. It is of a glory which shall endure for ever, despite the evil and the efforts of wicked men.

322 I think we learn plainly from this psalm, that, though the desire of Messiah (a desire accomplished by the righteous government put into His hands) be that the wicked should be consumed out of the earth, yet that the accomplishment of the glory of Messiah in the earth, leaves the principles of the result of the fall, in their existence the occasion of the display of Jehovah's ways and character — labour and toil and the like, until the evening; and that it is not the display of the Second Adam in simple blessing, when God shall be all in all.

323 In Psalms 105 and 106 we have, as closing this scene of creation and Israel's joy, the dealings of Jehovah with Israel: first, in the supremacy of grace and according to pure promise; and, secondly, the government which acts in evil, consequently in grace, for God cannot govern where grace has not come in; and here specially it is His people as to, and notwithstanding, their multiplied offences and faults. This is not the period of the final rest of the Jews, but it is the period of their restoration according to covenant and promise. Their final rest is when Messiah, present in glory, has gathered even all the scattered ones from the four winds to enjoy the fulness of His blessing and repose; when their eyes shall see the King in His beauty, and the inhabitant of Zion, unhindered in all the land, sees the land which is farthest from it in peace. This is the proper and full gathering of Israel according to Matthew 24; and it would seem, though more generally, Isaiah 11 and 27. What precedes is partly judgment on them, partly destruction of the nations, and constitutes the great acts of royal session in order to bless them in peace, as found in Zechariah 13 for example, and Ezekiel 20; not simple restoration in blessing, but the dealings of God with them, purging them, and acting for that purpose.

Psalm 105 takes up the simple purpose of promise, and that God has remembered His covenant. His judgments are in all the earth now, and He is Jehovah their God. (Compare Isa. 26.) The Lord has acted in their favour, according to His promise, to give them the land of promise. Their history, accordingly, is pursued of old in judgment on Egypt, and pure fidelity of grace towards them, taking up the facts between the Red Sea and Sinai, which were pure grace, and the gift of the land which was pure grace according to promise also. The law is merely introduced as an honour and blessing at the end founded on the grace, and all from Sinai onward through the desert entirely omitted; for the praise and blessing are founded on Abraham, not on Sinai, and end in hallelujah.

In Psalm 106 we have the confession of the people's part and ways, and God's patience with them, resting on this word "he is good," and the technical term of Israel's hope in her misery and guilt — "his mercy endureth for ever." It is still the Spirit of Christ — Messiah in the people. Hence note the need of Jesus being anointed as a man with the Holy Ghost, that by the Spirit He might speak, act, feel as a man placed in this place by God. Every Jew having His Spirit would, more or less, have the same feelings, desiring therefore this favour towards His people, viz., to be visited with His salvation, the good of His chosen, the gladness of His nation, that He may glory with His inheritance. All these desires for Israel He takes up, the confession of their sin, as then and from their fathers, for indeed as their fathers had done, so did they; and Messiah as He bore, so must He enter in confession into all their sin. "We have sinned with our fathers." He recites the wonders in Egypt (a proof of grace) only to shew they were not understood — the Red Sea soon forgotten — the evil of the quails later — and all that passed in the desert, omitted in the former Psalm, in two great chapters (viz., their forgetfulness of the true God who had done so much, and their making and following false gods) introductive however of the revelation of the everlasting priesthood — this, of their own heart in Horeb, in their journey in the desert, through Moab, and after the great second act of grace bringing them into the land, the same thing with the heathen there. Therefore came in this great principle, not only had He chastised them when with Him in the desert, but when now before the world they followed it, He gave them up to it, He gave them into the hand of the heathen, and they that hated them ruled over them. But the Spirit goes on to notice, in His divine patience again and again, "the Lord delivered them," and they provoked Him afresh. Nevertheless when the cry of His people arose, He heard and regarded their affliction; He remembered His covenant, and repented according to the multitude of His mercies, and made them to be pitied of those that carried them captive. On this covenant, on this mercy shewn, the Spirit of Messiah pleads in the people; the spirit of grace and supplication confessing iniquity, but appealing to faithfulness and grace, to bring them from among the heathen now to give thanks to His holy name, and triumph in His praise; and, as the apostle speaks, making their requests known with thanksgivings. Faith adds, in blessing, its confidence in Him who is the ground of its confidence, "Blessed be Jehovah God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting," and calls on the people to respond, closing again with hallelujah. The connection and principle of these two Psalms is exceedingly beautiful and instructive in the ways of God; the faith of His people, and the distinction of supreme grace and faithfulness to it, and the song of righteousness and mercy, the dealings of the Lord reclaiming His righteousness in government which hangs all on grace, and that in the midst of evil — Amen. May we also triumph in His praise, in the name of Father to us given; who has loved us perfectly to present us in the glory of Christ, and who chastens, in patient faithful mercy, those He loves, that we may triumph in His praise — most blessed and highest of all positions for a creature, for it is above creation. (Compare Eph. 2:7.)

325 Grace leads them to the possession of the law, and their experience previously under the law as their covenant forces them to the experience and necessity and glory of grace to triumph in His praise. I think I see Messiah much more amongst the people in this book. Compare Psalm 78, where the fathers to the children declare the truth; but there it is all through "they"; here, "we." This is also because they are now actually in the midst of the circumstances.