There are some special Psalms connected with Christ, round which others seem clustered. This is one of them. Here is Christ's actual association with His people on earth, not only in their sorrows, but at length bearing their sins, so that all who looked to Him might be blessed with Him. "I am poor and needy, yet the Lord thinketh upon me." Christ did not take one step to save Himself. He might have had twelve legions of angels, but He was waiting on the Lord.
He appeals to God as Jehovah, not Father, because this was not then brought out, as it is now. The Jew did not know the Father as He is now revealed; and Christ was taking the place of a godly man made under the law amongst them. Therefore He is spoken of in terms suiting the relationship known to the Jews.
One or two verses often bring out the subject of the psalm, the rest being the development of it. What He did in the position He took up is the great thing here - what He went through, what He felt. The grand principle is, that He "waited patiently for Jehovah" - the relationship in which Christ as a man was standing on the earth as connected with the remnant of Israel.
It is clear that the different names of God have a most important meaning, because they are the revelation of what He is to all, If I call Him Father, I own what He is to me as His child. If "Jehovah" be employed, it is what He is in caring for and keeping His earthly people, whom He had called out in order to shew His ways in government. If "God Almighty" be used, it is as protector of His pilgrims as Abram, Isaac, and Jacob in going from one country to another, or abiding in presence of hostile races in Canaan. For us it is Father. "Holy Father, keep through thine own name," etc. It is important for us to know our position, as well as to see what position Christ was in when expressing these Psalms. In Matthew 5 He says, "Be ye perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect." He teaches us that we are to shew forth grace and not law, as the Father was doing in Himself. Therefore we have to act after the same character: and nothing else suits those who belong to the kingdom of heaven and have the revelation of the Father's name.
76 Here, in Psalm 40, His heart is with the poor remnant. He undertakes their cause, going through all their sorrow and bearing their sins. In the last it is for them, not with them; but He gives them the comfort of being taken up to the same place with Himself, putting a new song into their mouths, as Jehovah had into His. "Many shall see it and fear, and shall trust in the Lord." But, moreover He says, in verse 6, "Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required." These are all put aside. "He taketh away the first to establish the second." Christ came to do God's will. Everything centres in the Son. All blessing is connected with relationship to Him, whether for outcast reprobates (Gentiles), or for God's people, the Jews, who had broken the covenant. The Levitical system vanishes away as not meeting God's desires any more than man's need. Christ, who says "Lo, I come to do thy will," is everything. Then He "preached righteousness in the great congregation." This cost Him His life. He made perfectly good God's character in the world - went out to all the people - declared God's faithfulness - did not hide His righteousness within His heart, and got into miry clay in consequence, that is, all that can press a man down. "I have glorified thee on the earth." "I have not concealed thy loving-kindness and thy truth from the great congregation." "Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me," for I have been declaring what Thou art in faithfulness; withhold not Thou Thy tender mercies from Me. Then He goes farther (v. 12), for He came to suffer not only with but for us. "For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me." Not merely our there, but "MINE." If speaking amongst the remnant He might have said our; but when taking them on Himself, standing alone for their deliverance, He says "mine."
Next, there is judgment on the enemies alluded to in verses 14, 15, in contrast with verse 16: "Let all those that seek thee rejoice," etc. It is no more clouds and darkness, fearing the Lord and walking in darkness, not knowing such a thing longer, but rejoicing as well as seeking; for He has met all against us. When we are not rejoicing in the salvation of the Lord, we have not found it; we may be seeking it, but have not found it.
In the Psalms we have the thoughts and feelings of Christ expressed, when the facts are going on. We have the privilege thus of knowing how He felt when under them. "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" His feelings are here. The fact was atonement. When suffering from God He was absolutely alone - none to look on, When He appeals to God for deliverance, He is not heard (on the cross). "He tasted death for every man." If He had had the least comfort from God, He would not have drunk the cup. Never was He so precious to God. Never was obedience so perfect as at that moment. Divine love was mightier than all the sufferings - mightier than sin - mightier than death, Satan, or wrath of God. It was not so with Peter, who was full of joy when going out of the world; and Stephen says, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit," without any suspending of the favour of God. There was no wrath on them: Jesus bore it all for them - for us. The effect of the cross is a throne of unmingled grace, and it will be open to all in the millennium.
77 In Psalm 23 Jehovah is the Shepherd; we cannot say Christ was a sheep. He is Jehovah, but still He emptied Himself - went before them - passed through every difficulty and trial.
In Psalm 24 He is Jehovah received on high.
In Psalm 25 sin is confessed. This is what makes the difference for any soul in the present time. The remnant, before they trust in Christ, cry to Jehovah. How can I go to Jehovah when I have been sinning? How can a man trust Jehovah with a bad conscience? Here is combined the expression of confession and of trust together. They can look for mercy. God never allows absolute despair in His people, though it is often very like it. In Judas it was absolute; and he went out and hanged himself. Then all is brought out to meet this state in the cross. If there were only love where would be the righteousness? If righteousness' only, where the love? Both are combined in the cross. When 'the cross comes in, all is perfectly clear. The righteousness is proved to be as great as the love, and the love as great as the righteousness. This is often not known all at once; but by little and little the blessed picture seen in Christ makes its way into the soul. Then it is all light; but then the man finds darkness comes in perhaps. At first there is only reckoning on the blessedness of Christ, and, when that reaches the conscience, it brings bitterness. What at first only attracted the heart did not reach the elements of good and evil - it was all joy; but when light reaches these, he finds it does not minister peace, because he has not learnt the thing to which it applies in his own soul. The state of the Jews all through these psalms is this - not having the application in the conscience of what the cross teaches.
78 It is a wonderful thing to see Christ coming to the cross, and saying, "mine iniquities." Christ made Himself one with me, taking all my debts upon Him; my surety, He has gone down into the depths. "Mine iniquities!" - any one of the remnant might say that. There is the remnant's voice in it; but there is Christ's first. He has taken them. They suffer FROM them, never FOR them. If they suffered for them, it would be eternal condemnation. "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities." "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God."
God brings in the principle of living righteousness, and therefore gives the consciousness of sins. "For thy name's sake pardon mine iniquity; for it is great," Psalm 25. This is strange reasoning according to man's thought - "for it is great." Men plead that it is a little sin; but when taught of God, we see how great sin is. Another thing is, truth is in the man, because he feels the sin great, he has given up any thought of justifying himself. My iniquity is great: if Thou dost not forgive me for Thine own glory's sake, Thou canst not do it at all. And not one spot of sin will He leave, for the comfort of my own heart or the glory of His name. In Isaiah 43:22, etc., Israel are made to rest in absolute sovereign mercy. Grace is perfect in the getting rid of our sin in Christ.
Thus Psalm 40, "I waited patiently," etc., gives the reason why the remnant should trust Jehovah. MESSIAH has been delivered from the horrible pit and the miry clay by the path of resurrection. Then there is the great central truth - "Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire," etc. The Levitical system vanishes as inefficacious. "Mine ears hast thou digged." It is not here the same as Isaiah 50, where "he awakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned. The Lord God hath opened mine ear," etc. This has a peculiar character. It is His offering Himself before He came. So in Philippians 2 we read He becomes a man, taking the form of a servant, having ears, doing nothing but what He was told, listening to every word that came out of God's mouth. "By every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God doth man live." He had cars to receive it. Christ had no desire to do anything different from God's will: this was His motive. Never to stir but as another - God - will guide you, is perfectness as a man. Do you say, What! am I never to do what I like? Oh! I answer, you want to have your own will, which is sin.
79 Christ waited for the expression of His Father's will before doing anything. Christ on earth was in the form of a servant. How did He get there? By putting off all the glory of having a will of His own - offering Himself before He came to do God's will. His delight was to come; His love brought Him. "Lo, I come to do thy will, O God." If that was His will, it was the Father's will. He "learned obedience by the things which he suffered." He told His disciples, in going forth, to say, "Peace … And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again." So it was with Him. He was obedient. He offered Himself to obey, and there was pure and constant obedience all through. There was power, of course, in Him, but He came into the place of perfect obedience. The first word is not from God, Do you go, but "Lo, I come": it was from Christ, "in the volume of the book it is written of me." This gives us a knowledge of Christ and His intercourse with God before He came. Here is Christ, the Son of God, a divine person, and the means of all blessing, taking the place of obedience on earth. Nay, He is the servant now, too: what is He doing for us? Bringing out God to us, to our eyes; yea, He has brought God right down to our hearts. "I have preached righteousness in the great congregation," not concealed thy faithfulness, etc. Christ has not failed to bring all that God is to us. How we want it in a world that has got as far away as it can from God, with its artificers like Cain and his seed!
Others might talk about the thing, but Christ was it. In every word and act they might have seen the Father, if they had had eyes to see. Christ can say, I know the world - what it is; I have gone through it all high and low; I have traced it all through, and, like Noah's dove, never found an echo. Now you come to Me: I will give you rest. There is never any rest for a human heart but in Him. One then learns of Him in the meekness and submission of His soul.
"Let all those that seek thee rejoice," etc. "But I am poor and needy: the Lord thinketh upon me." I and the others - I have taken the sorrow for them, and they must rejoice. Can you say, "Let the Lord be magnified"? He says, I have taken it all on myself, I have done it all. "By the obedience of one many shall be justified." If you have not been broken down to feel your iniquity is great, you cannot have peace; you are mixing up something of your own. If you get Christ instead of yourself, because you yourself are so bad, then you can say, The Lord has put away my sin; I am accepted in the Beloved. Are you emptied of yourself so as to say, Christ is everything for me? He has been made sin: is righteousness between you and God now, instead of your sins? Whence did it come? By the love of God flowing in through the Spirit. By Him He says, "Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." All the emphasis is on "no more." They are not to be brought up another day. Only believe in Christ and rest in grace so truly divine.