Psalms 42-72

Book 2

Especially Psalms 45 and 68

J. N. Darby.

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In the Second Book of Psalms we see the remnant entirely cast out of Judaea; this gives a different character to their state. In the First Book we have seen it was the exercise of patience in the midst of evil that characterised them. That is now over, and they are as a whole cast out, with the exception of a few. The woman flies when the abomination is set up. The extremity of evil has arrived, and they are looking for judgment to work out deliverance for them.

As a general thing, we find more connection with the person of Christ in the First Book. When in the world, He remained in Jerusalem for a time, then He went out; and when He went back, it was to be crucified and slain. Thomas dreaded this when he said, "They sought of late to stone thee, and goest thou thither again?" Christ had been declaring God's righteousness, in the great congregation, not "refraining his lips." They rejected Him for it; but, before man was allowed to lay his lawless hands upon Him, God gives a public testimony to every part of His glory. In the raising of Lazarus there was testimony to Him as Son of God; riding into Jerusalem on an ass, there was testimony to Him as Son of David; and then when the Greeks come up, there is testimony to Him as Son of man. All this led to His crucifixion, and, in the end, to the judgment of the Jews.

Psalm 42 is the utterance of those cast out of Jerusalem. Compare verses 5, 9, etc.

Joel 2:17 shews they have got back again after this, and after the destruction of the beast. Those in Zion are calling for a fast, but the putting down of enemies is not finished. In Ezekiel we read of the Northern and Eastern armies coming up, and they find the Lord there. Sennacherib represents the northern army, not the beast.

Joel 2:20, "His stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up, because he hath done great things." "Fear not, O land, for the Lord will do great things." There is not only apostasy judged in the beast, but there is the government of the Lord Jesus coming in over the rebellious nations. Thus there are two characters of judgment. He overcomes the beast (that which was antagonistic to what was in heaven) making "war with the Lamb": that which is apostate from what is heavenly goes in rebellion against what is heavenly. Christ comes from heaven and breaks that. Then there is the great northern army: Gog comes up and finds Him there. There are those feeble Jews there, and what are they to do? The man of the earth has all in his hand; but God is going to prove He is God of the earth as well as of heaven. It seems to the tried remnant as if God had forgotten them; but no! He is there to destroy this army, as well as the apostate king who had been already consigned alive to the lake of fire. The Lord comes and says, "Here I am," and the enemies are destroyed on the mountains. But the same feeling has come out in this case as in the other: they say "Where is thy God?"

82 There is more historically brought out in this book of the Psalms, and not so much of Christ's sufferings (there is that too in Psalm 69), and more of His sitting in judgment over them. There is the entire dominion of evil allowed, and then the coming in of power to set it aside, Here you have "God" more than Jehovah. The link is broken, for they are out of the land. See the difference between Psalms 14 and 53. In the one it is Jehovah, in the other it is God: contrast also Psalm 14:5; 53:5 - the "righteous" and "him that encamped against thee."

Psalm 43 refers to the apostate Jews, as Psalm 42 to the rebellious Gentiles, from whom they are suffering. Psalm 44 goes back in spirit, "We have heard with our ears," etc. They did not see, because driven out; but they hear. It is the past contrasted with the present desolation. Verse 9 is their condition; verse 11, "sheep appointed for meat"; verse 17, sense of integrity; verse 23 is not Jehovah, but Adonai.

In Psalm 45 Messiah comes in; in Psalm 46 all is entirely changed. Psalm 47 is a call anticipative of victory. Psalm 48 is descriptive of how it comes about that the King is there. What they said in Psalms 42-44 you get the answer to in Psalm 48. All they have heard of they now see. It comes to pass again, and more than ever. "We have thought of thy loving-kindness, O God, in the midst of thy temple" - just what they are longing for in Psalm 42. "According to thy name." They praise according to what they know He is - they can trust. "Thy right hand is full of righteousness."

83 These titles of God, Almighty, Most High, and Jehovah, are connected with God's government on the earth. The first is connected with Abraham; the second with Melchisedec coming to Abraham. It is a picture of God's taking possession of heaven and earth in Christ - Christ being King and Priest - Priest on His throne. He will gather together in one all things in Christ in heaven and earth. We know God as Father, who hath "blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." We shall reign with Him; we are associated with Him in suffering (little though we have) and we shall be in the glory. Christ is to inherit all things, and we with Him but the best part is to be with Himself, being children of the Father. Now Christ is sitting within the veil in heavenly places, we in Him, and we shall be associated with Him when He comes to take possession - we shall come out with the Great Heir of all things.

In Nebuchadnezzar's history we find God spoken of as the "Most High." In Psalm 91 whoever dwells in the secret of the Most High (not Father) is safe. Then Christ addresses Jehovah, and in verse 9 the remnant speak and Jehovah answers. All this is when God takes the government of the earth; but He is our Father. Now we may be put to death, and yet not a hair perish. Now is the time to suffer. He is not yet taking to Himself His great power and reigning. Blessed that it is so, because now is the time of His long-suffering; the joint-heirs are being gathered. He will reign, the Prince of peace. Melchisedec was praising from the Most High God and praising for Him. So it will be in Christ, in whom centre all titles of glory. As Jehovah He will be faithful to His promises.

In 2 Corinthians 6 He who is Jehovah says, "Ye shall be my sons and daughters" - I will take a new character towards you. When we have the Father's name as now, we have the Father's house also in prospect.

In Psalm 45 Christ is making good His title as God's King. In Colossians 1 we see His rights as Creator to be heir of all, and as Son of man in Hebrews 2. Here it is the King. In Deuteronomy 32 the Most High, in dividing the lands, makes Israel the centre for the government of the earth. As the church is the centre of blessing in heaven, Jerusalem is the centre on earth.

There are two things to remark in connection with this first, it is part of Christ's glory; and, next, God wills that this world is to be made, under Christ's rule, a place of peace. It is not so now, though "the powers that be are ordained of God." Christ Himself said, "Thou hast no power against me, except it be given thee from above"; and there was no worse use of power than Pilate's, when he verily washed his hands of Christ's blood.

84 When the Lord was rejected, the world was not set right. It was more wrong than ever. When Christ went on high, the Holy Ghost came down. Does He set the world to rights? No! He does not interfere with the evil, but says, "be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." Grace comes in, but God does not take His great power and reign. Christ granted the request of the Syro-phoenician woman; but this was an exceptional case of going beyond the children.

It is not an exception when the Holy Ghost comes down grace is the character of His acting. The proving of man has been closed, Christ is accepted in heaven, and, by the Holy Ghost's coming down, the barriers (confusion of tongues occasioned) are not broken down; but grace overrides those barriers in the gift of tongues. Christ will take to Himself His great power and reign, and He will set things to rights. Many think to set things to rights now, some with Christ and some without; but they will not do it either one way or the other: Christ Himself will do it. If I stop at redemption truth, I am as it were making Christ to act on the world, but He is not - He is in heaven, and links saints with Him up there.

All Christians are saints, not sinners. In ourselves we are all sin; in the flesh is no good thing; but we are not in flesh, but in Christ. When we come in by that door, Christ, we come to sit down in heavenly places. If not come in there, we must remain on earth. Heaven is opened: firstly, for the Holy Ghost to testify of the Son of God on earth; secondly, for angels to minister to Him as Son of man; thirdly, to let Him forth in judgment on the white horse (Rev. 19); fourthly, for a man full of the Holy Ghost, Stephen, to look straight up into heaven; and so should we.

Psalm 45 is earthly: Christ is judging enemies. The King, Messiah, is God; but He is man also. "Thou lovest righteousness and hatest wickedness" applies to His humanity. Hebrews 1 quotes it, where He says He "makes his angels spirits." He makes them such; but unto the Son He saith (He does not make Him anything) "God, even thy God anointed thee above thy fellows." Directly there is His manhood, He has fellows. A poor remnant is there ready to suffer with Him. Zechariah 13. See contrast there God calls Christ His fellow in His humiliation. Verse 5, I am no prophet, but I was man's slave from my youth. He came to be our servant as man. Verse 6. The Jews - He was wounded by them. Then (v. 7) Jehovah speaks, and, passing over His humanity, calls Him His fellow.

85 The kingdom is founded and is taken in a man. All the figures of Oriental splendour are used in speaking of it. It is Jerusalem on earth that is meant in the Psalms. The Lamb's wife is the heavenly Jerusalem. The king's wife is the earthly Jerusalem.

Verse 10. "Forget also thine own people, and thy father's house." That is what the Jews would not do in the time of grace. It was what Christ Himself did when on earth. "Who is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked round about on them that were about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren." Under the old covenant they will get nothing. They cannot take the blessings even on the ground of promise - all has failed. They must come in as a Ruth to take shelter under the shadow of the God of Israel. They have no more title than a Gentile. Christ came as a minister of the circumcision and they rejected Him, so that they have no claim to anything. God will accomplish all on His own account, but they must give up claim entirely, and come in on the ground of grace. Verse 9. "King's daughters" are companies of Judah.

Verse 16. "Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children." If you look to your fathers, you have no claim - you must break with all the old thing. You must come in, not as the mother of the Messiah, but as the daughter. As to the old, you have lost everything God in His faithfulness must do it. In Romans 3:7, God's faithfulness glorified by my lie is the true interpretation of that passage.

Psalm 46 is a strain of great confidence, spite of threats and danger. In God is their refuge and deliverer. God is there, whatever men say; Jehovah Sabaoth is with us.

Psalm 47 anticipates Jehovah's reign as a great king over the earth, but withal Israel's king specially.

86 In Psalm 48 Zion is celebrated as His city and the answer is triumphant to the distress of Psalm 44 and to the circumstances of Psalms 42, 43.

Psalm 48 is "an improvement" of all.

Psalm 49 closes the little series from Psalm 42 (not the book, which does not close till Psalm 72).

Psalm 50 and 51 are distinct in their character.

Psalm 50 is God summoning all the world - pleading with His people on the ground of wickedness. He will not accept their ceremonial offerings, but the ground of His controversy is their not keeping the law.

Psalm 51 is confession of sin, and goes a great deal farther than David's confession, when Nathan went to him and charged him. It is the nation's confession of their guilt in the death of Christ, not only their breach of the law. You have the same thing in Isaiah 40 - the flesh is grass, etc. There is failure; and He takes them on the ground of their being distinct from those worshipping idols, yet guilty of idolatry. From chapter 49 onwards it is controversy concerning Christ.

There is a difference between the Jews and the ten tribes, which are Israel. Israel were never guilty of rejecting Christ. They have been cast out for their rebellion and idols. Zechariah 13:9, Jews; Ezekiel 20, ten tribes.

In Psalms 51-68 we have the thoughts and feelings of the remnant - the expression of their cry to God and their confidence in Him.

Psalm 52 is the expression of faith in God as to the lawless one in power; as Psalm 53 about the wicked Jews in general, the many, for God remained what He is, if they can no longer call on Him as Jehovah (cf. Ps. 14). Psalm 54 is a cry to God for deliverance by His name from strangers and oppressors alike, when His name of Jehovah should be praised. Psalm 55 from without deplores the wickedness in their Jerusalem, yet God is trusted, Jehovah shall save. Psalm 56 speaks of the tears of the righteous sufferers in God's bottle, but owns Him in hope as the Most High, the name of millennial supremacy, and trust displaces fear: in God and in Jehovah would he praise His word. Psalm 57 follows up in the sense of evil, counting on God as a refuge, but triumphing in the end. Psalm 58 owns that nothing but divine judgment can meet the case, and so looks for the unsparing but just vengeance of God in the earth. Psalm 59 pursues this judgment on the outside enemies who shall be scattered by God's power.

87 Then in Psalm 60 the remnant acknowledges that God had cut them off, but pray for His turning to them again, and are assured He will tread down their enemies. Psalm 61 is a cry of depression, but of trust in God that He will hear, if they cry from the end of the earth; as Psalm 62 is a still stronger expression of confidence in Him, and this growingly. Compare verses 2, 6.

In Psalm 63 we see that they are able to find blessing when cast out. When there are no dispensed blessings, they look to God through all the tribulation, longing to go up to the sanctuary. All dispensed blessings fail, but the source cannot dry.

In Psalm 64 the crafty enemy is brought before a God of judgment, and then the righteous rejoice in Him.

Psalm 65 shews praise waiting there. When He has accomplished the victory, praise will flow out. All nations shall be blessed. Their faith had reached the point - trusting, when in circumstances which are against us, is real faith. But once the great deliverance is achieved there is no stint of praise.

Psalm 66 sets forth God's righteous interference; and men are called to come and see His works (v. 5), to come and hear what He has done for the soul. (Verse 16) He has turned away neither the remnant's prayer nor His own mercy.

In Psalm 67 the blessing of the remnant is viewed as the way of making God's way known to all nations; so that all the people should praise God, and all the ends of the earth fear Him.

Psalm 68. Here we have Christ in glory, as Psalm 69 is Christ in suffering, upon which the glory is founded.

There is a remarkable connection between the beginning of Psalm 68 with Numbers to. The ark going before, instead of being in the midst to be guarded and honoured by the people, God bends to their need by going before them to find out a place in grace, and He meets all their enemies. (Verse 33) Israel's enemies are scattered by Him. The Lord is coming at their head when there is no help.

It may be well to notice the character of judgment here. There are two kinds of judgment, sessional and warlike judgment. In the end of Revelation we have the two kinds. In chapter 18 we have the destruction of Babylon by God; in chapter 19 Christ executes warlike judgment; in chapter 20 is sessional judgment. "I saw thrones and they sat on them." In sessional judgment we are with Him, as indeed the saints are seen on high from chapter 4.

88 The Messiah that appears is Jehovah, and then they not only mourn for sins that they have done, but they mourn for Him, etc. "They shall look on him whom they have pierced," etc., and say, "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of Jehovah." They never see Him till then. They call on Jehovah about all the sorrow, and when the Messiah comes, they find it is Himself. With us it is the same. The deepest sorrow is not that we have sinned, but for Him. It is the consciousness of what we have done to Him that grieves us most. When we have received Him, repentance has lost its legal character. It is for love to Him, and all the sweetness of His love poured into the heart makes it see what sin is, and detest itself for not having received Him fully. Then the soul is free to understand the real relationship that exists between us and Him. There is not merely the consciousness of deserving righteous judgment, but self-loathing, and sense of His judgment more and more. They crave His interference, and it comes.

Daniel 7:21. The horn wars with the saints, and prevails against them until the "Ancient of days," Christ, shall come. God cannot let evil be paramount. "As wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God." He comes in the character of judgment. "Through the voice of the LORD shall the Assyrian be beaten down … and in every place where the grounded staff shall pass," etc. (Isa. 30:31-32.) It is for the deliverance of the poor despised remnant, and it is the proper character of judgment when He will come to be glorified in His saints, etc. It will be the execution of judgment, not the distinguishing character of it, which goes on now. There is to be a judgment of the quick, as well as of the dead. "The wicked perish at the presence of God."

Verse 9. "Plentiful rain whereby thou dost confirm thine inheritance when it is weary." We are not the inheritance, we are heirs. Israel is the inheritance. We have the same He (Christ) has Himself - peace, love, glory. He has the preeminence. "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." We see this Psalm is prophetic of His taking His place in power, not only in title. The Lord gave the word - great was the company of those that published it. This is a company of women [feminine noun] publishing victory like Miriam, not proclaiming glad tidings (v. 11).

89 Verse 12. Warlike judgment: "though ye have hen among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove," etc. He is coming to take His place in Zion.

Verses 14-17. God has magnified Himself: it is no use for you to magnify yourselves; God has done it, and there is an end of you.

Verse 18 is the deliverance of Israel in that day by Christ who ascended on high - "received up into glory," 1 Tim. 3:16. Wonderful to say of Him who is going to execute judgment, He is "received up." "He that ascended is the same that descended," etc. It is Christ Himself. The law set up the middle wall of partition. Christ broke it down by His death. It could not be broken down in any other way. We see, first, the incarnation of Christ; next, we have a man rejected, spit upon, who could say, "before Abraham was, I am"; and then He goes up on high.

In Philippians 2 this blessed One comes down taking the form of a man - this was the first way of His, emptying Himself. He proved He had power in the man to deliver this world of all its misery, healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out devils; but He did it all as a servant; and then, lastly, He humbled Himself, and became obedient to death - the death of the cross.

It is "received gifts in the man." Part of this is quoted in Ephesians 4, shewing its application to the church. The last part, "for the rebellious also," refers to what will be the portion of the remnant when Jehovah God will dwell among them. These delivered ones, the fruit of the travail of His soul, became the vessels of His power against Satan. It is only after the cross that Satan is called the god of this world; but the church is now the vessel of the agency of God against Satan by the Holy Ghost sent down, the witness of grace, not of judgment (though judgment was within, for example, on Ananias and Sapphira). We are all (believers) the living witnesses of Christ's victory, while Satan is going about in the world. How far do we realise this?

Verse 21. "Enemies" are to be destroyed. The church does not call for judgment on enemies, but the Jews look for the destruction of enemies, because they are to remain here. There is to be glory recognised - complete deliverance for them. Christ is gone on high as Son of man. He is set in a divine place at the right hand of God, and we are made partakers of the divine nature, and sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. So too we are to be caught up to meet Him above, instead of being like the Jews delivered by the execution of those who despise us here below.

90 Here it is the joy and deliverance of Israel on earth. The beauty of holiness reappears on better and more enduring ground - Messiah's grace and the new covenant, not their own vain pledge to the old. The tribes come up to the sanctuary, kings bring presents, princes come from Egypt, Ethiopia stretches her hands to God. "Sing unto God, ye kingdoms of the earth; Oh sing praises unto the Lord; Selah: to him that rideth upon the heavens of heavens, which were of old; lo, he doth send out his voice, and that a mighty voice. Ascribe ye strength unto God: his excellency is over Israel, and his strength is in the clouds. O God, thou art terrible out of thy holy places: the God of Israel is he that giveth strength and power unto his people. Blessed be God."

Verse 34. He has taken His place in the "cloud" again. The "cloud" is indicative of His presence, the Shechinah and the pillar of cloud by day. And on the mount of transfiguration they "feared as they entered the cloud." Christ will come in the clouds.

Psalm 69 is the righteous One, not here forsaken of God in atonement for sin as in Psalm 22, but crushed under man's hatred and reproach, enemies without a cause in the face of the zeal for God's house that has eaten Him up. Yet all is taken from God's hand; and as He owns Himself smitten of God, so He looks and prays for vengeance, not grace.

Psalm 70 expresses what the Spirit of Christ in the remnant will then desire in respect of both foes and friends; as Psalm 71 gives the link with God's dealings from the first, and prays for His faithful care at last, in order that their lips may shew forth His praise. Finally Psalm 72 presents their desires fulfilled in the reign of peace and blessing under the true Son of David on the earth.