The second book, of which our Psalm is the last, closes with the blessing of the whole earth: "The prayers of David … are ended." It supposes and treats of the relationship of God with Judah just at the end of the age when forced to flee. The third book is not so much connected with the personal history of Christ as either the first or the second. It is occupied with Israel, and the circumstances of Israel are entirely different from Judah's because they were not in the land when Christ was there, and so they had no actual part in His crucifixion. The second book is more historically prophetic than the first, and not so much the sufferings of Christ.
In Psalm 72 we have the Solomon reign, not the Davidical state. The true Son of David is, no doubt, much greater than Solomon. Here Christ is King. This takes us back to Psalm 2. Jehovah's determination is to set His kingdom in Zion. The kingdom is not confined to this setting up of the King. In Matthew 13:43 we have the "kingdom of the Father." There we get its heavenly character, not setting aside the kingdom on earth, which is to be established; but it goes farther and higher. "Every scribe instructed … brings out of his treasure things new and old." The scribes had the old things concerning the kingdom, but they stumbled at the Christ having to suffer. If they had received Christ, man would not have been proved to be such a sinner. But they hated both Him and His Father, and so proved there is no good in flesh. There would have been something good in flesh if they could have received Him. The kingdom was not set up then through their not receiving Him. Two things came out after that: the mystery of the kingdom of heaven, and the church. What is the kingdom? It is very simple, if we take the word as it is. It is the sphere of the reign, or where the King reigns. if I take the word church as "assembly," which it really means, I can never confound "church" and "kingdom." Compare the word "reign" with "assembly," and the difference is easily seen.
Another thing, often not understood, is the difference between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God. If the kingdom of God had been accepted on earth, it would not have been the same as now, not the actual form of the kingdom of heaven. Matthew takes up the change in consequence of the King's rejection, and speaks also of "the Father's kingdom" for the heirs who follow Christ in His rejection; because He takes it from His Father when rejected. He is set down, not on His own throne (and so the judgment in this Psalm brought in), but for the present on His Father's throne. Divine righteousness is shewn in God's setting Him there and justifying us according to all He had accomplished. There was righteousness due to set Him on the throne of God. That is what we have. "I have glorified thee on the earth, I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do; and now, O Father, glorify thou me," etc. Christ then sits down there; and there is no judicial kingdom at all now - it is postponed, and known only to faith. The kingdom of the world is not become that of our God and of His Christ. The kingdom of heaven is likened to a sower, etc. He has altered the ground on which He deals with the people - He sows; He brings something with Him, instead of seeking something from man. The King is obliged to take this mysterious character of sowing in the world. Then, mark, He does not sow only on Jewish ground; as to outward nearness to God, that was gone. God does not look for fruit. He is going on ground that is settled by judgment. Therefore He is not seeking fruit from man. This goes against man's good opinion of himself. Man is cut down as the good-for-nothing tree, spite of all culture from God. The trial has been made of all men in the Jew. All flesh is grass; and the grass is withered. He sows; He is not exercising His royal title in sowing. It is a new work, different in kind. All are given up (Matt. 12) and He sows (Matt. 13). The field is not the Jewish people, but "the world." God goes outside guilty Judah to begin a fresh work everywhere. The time of the harvest is the judicial time of the kingdom - not the sowing time. Christ lets all go on as if at the beginning, and He saw nothing of the corruption; but then He begins a judicial character. Personally He deals with it on earth. That is the kingdom in the mysteries of it, or hidden. Its outward character is a great tree; the sowing is in the world. Pharaoh was a great tree, and the Assyrian was another. Christendom is now a great tree - an influential power in the earth. It is ruled from heaven, if it be the kingdom of heaven, but the sphere is this earth. The sowing - the field - the harvest - the search for the treasure or the pearl - the net - are not in heaven, but on earth.
96 When the joy of the kingdom is spoken of, it is the kingdom of God. "The kingdom of God (not of heaven) is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost." The kingdom of heaven is dispensational; the kingdom of God is sometimes a moral thing. Another thing connected with the kingdom is power and not merely law. There will be "the law written in their hearts," but the kingdom brings in power. It is the setting up of a person in the character of king. The kingdom spoken of in the gospel is in "mystery" during this time; but the thing predicted by the prophets is "a king shall rule in righteousness." It is the kingdom in manifestation. Power and righteousness were entirely in contrast when Christ was here. He said, "This is your hour and the power of darkness." There was Satan's - power, but righteousness in and as to Christ. judgment had not then returned to righteousness at all. It was the close of all hope of it for the time, when Christ was rejected. Up to that moment it might have been looked for; but this was the setting aside of God's kingdom from the earth. The Son tame and they said, "This is the heir: come let us kill him," etc. Christ is not taking possession of the kingdom on the earth now. He is not sitting on His own throne at all yet. It is the Father's throne where He is. He is perfectly accepted in divine righteousness, which is now being ministered by the Holy Ghost to faith, and which is better than any other portion, but there is no execution of judgment. If He had executed judgment when He went away, there would have been no dealings in grace. He must have extinguished the wicked from the earth at once.
The word is, "Sit on my right hand until I make thy foes thy footstool." There He is sitting down and doing nothing as to the kingdom, but sowing, etc., in this mysterious way. Meanwhile the mustard-tree, in which the birds of the air (the emissaries of Satan) may lodge, is being produced; the leaven is spreading in the three measures of meal (that is, formal doctrine extends itself through Christendom). At the close Christ brings in the execution of His power. This has nothing to do with the church. Instead of His having immediate power on earth, He is "expecting till his enemies be made his footstool." During this time of waiting the church is being gathered; and when He comes in judgment His glorified ones come with Him. He has accomplished righteousness before this gathering began, and sent down the Holy Ghost, by whom we have the revelation of that righteousness. "We are made the righteousness of God in him." This divine righteousness is established on the throne and revealed to us in the gospel and therefore by faith.
97 As High Priest, Christ has gone up within the veil (which indeed is rent), having finished the work for His friends, and waiting for the due moment to put down His enemies. Until He comes out, the Jews do not know that the offering is accepted. Here are the king and priest, represented by Moses and Aaron (Lev. 9:23), but they stand without till His coming out; and while He is within, to them as a nation He is unknown (to the Jews). The Holy Ghost is sent down to make us know it is accepted. Such is the place the church has - pre-trusters in Christ while unseen in heaven. Righteousness is gone as to earth, but is in the person of Christ exalted on the throne in heaven; and there we know it and are made it in Christ by the grace of God. Compare 2 Corinthians 5 with John 16. While the kingdom is in abeyance, the Holy Ghost has come down to make us know the righteousness of God in Christ, which is fit for the throne of God. We share that righteousness; we do not sit on the throne of the Father, where He now is. This seat He has by virtue of His personal title as the Son of God, and God Himself indeed.
The kingdom of heaven in mystery takes in all Christendom's professors as well as true Christians. Now there are no signs of the kingdom. What sign is it for a king to suffer? But if we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him. Suffering is no sign of a kingdom at all, but it is likeness to the King. The same thing that made Him suffer on earth made Him glorified in heaven. So is it with us. But instead of His reigning over the church, the church will reign with Him.
He is the Bridegroom of the church, not the King of the church. His right and power will be put forth for the earth. Adam could give names to everything brought before him (a proof of his dominion, such as is often shewn in the giving of a name; for example, Nebuchadnezzar giving new names to Daniel, that of Belteshazzar, etc.); but when Eve came, he called her Isha, from himself, Ish because she was part of himself. He gives her the same name, even as God called their name Adam. We have the same place as Christ Himself, and when we shall see Him, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. We could not now see Him as He is, and live; but then we shall be like Him, and therefore can see Him. "We shall appear with him" - "be glorified together with him." The heavenly saints are to be like Christ and be with Him for ever. We shall take the heavenly places, which spiritual wickedness has now (Eph. 6). We shall be "caught up to meet the Lord in the air." In the parable of the talents, in Matthew 25, there is no allusion to the rule of the kingdom; while in Luke, the use of the pounds is rewarded with cities to reign over. In Matthew, all the servant's reward centres in the joy of their Lord."
98 Jude speaks of the Lord coming with ten thousands of His saints. So in Revelation 19:14, "The armies in heaven followed him on white horses." The saints come with Him when He comes to,. execute judgment. (So chap. 17:14). They are associated with Him in the glory He brings, as also in what is much better, in the Father's house. While He is on the Father's throne, the church has no throne, but suffers with Him. When He takes His own throne, we shall be with Him, and share His glory when He appears. It is wonderful to be associated with Him in His glory, but better to be associated with Himself It is better to be thinking about Himself than about Him as a King or a Lord, important as this too may be. When Christ comes to reign, there will be human righteousness perfect, because Christ will execute it; but now it is divine righteousness, ministered by the Spirit in grace (2 Cor. 3) - grace which associates us in the effect of divine righteousness. When He comes back as King, at first it will be the David character of reign. So Psalm 101, "I will sing of mercy and of judgment" (always mercy comes first).
This Psalm states prophetically the character of Christ's kingdom. When He takes the kingdom, all will be judicially set up in righteousness. It will be seen by all that God has laid hold upon this mighty One for His people's salvation and the world's blessings. There will be real righteousness here below, but human as to its measure, and divinely ministered. It will be Messiah and the new covenant. The law will be written on their hearts. The law never required the death of Christ; this is entirely outside and above all that the law could righteously demand. By the grace of God He tasted death. Did the law require an agony from the blessed and holy One? What did that prove? Man's righteousness? Divine love was in it; God (not law) "made him to be sin for us." It was the unspeakable, unfathomable, love of God who was glorified in it about sin. For God to be glorified, everything in God was to be made good in spite of sin, yea, and in respect of sin. No doubt, the elect angels have been kept by divine power; but what a scene for angels to witness - the way men treated Christ in this world! When Daniel prayed there was an order given to answer him, and the angel could not for three weeks, because opposed by the prince of Persia. What a scene is this world! Is wickedness God's glory? Is misery His glory? No wonder one of old said, "This was too hard for me until I went into the sanctuary of' God." When I see the end of these men, that will set it right, of course. God will justify righteousness by judgment, which, long severed, will then return to righteousness. Where, how, would love be manifested, if all His enemies were destroyed now? The cross glorifies God above all law. The announcement of the Man who was God, dying for sinners, is that righteousness? No, it is beyond right; it is love - infinite, divine, and sovereign love.
99 Psalm 94. God does not strike until there is conscience awake in the hearts of those stricken. With the remnant there will be tabrets and harps, wherever the grounded staff shall pass. Then the Solomon reign begins, "He judgeth among the gods," that is, those to whom He has given power. "In his days shall the righteous flourish." Then the kingdom is set up in power. Psalm 72, "Prayer shall be made for him continually," that is, the desire of all the people is expressed, that the king should prosper.
Psalm 67:7: "All the ends of the earth shall fear him and Psalm 72:19, "Let the whole earth be filled with his glory." It is the close of all the prayers of him that had the promises as to the blessing on earth. Verse 20.
The execution of judgment, on those found to be His enemies when He appears, is different from the time when God will judge the secrets of men's hearts - that will be for the heathen as well, who have not had special testimony about Christ, but are judged by law's work written on their hearts.
100 While things are not set right on earth, we are getting the full fruit of divine righteousness. While to be oppressed in the world, as He was, is the portion of faith; those who are gathered have the full heavenly blessing. When Christ was suffering for sin, it was not to bring in government on earth, but to work out divine righteousness, by which we might have association with Him. His suffering from God for sin was to make infinite grace flow out.