The Psalms

Leslie M. Grant

Book 1
Psalm  1
Psalm  2
Psalm  3
Psalm  4
Psalm  5
Psalm  6
Psalm  7
Psalm  8
Psalm  9
Psalm 10
Psalm 11
Psalm 12
Psalm 13
Psalm 14
Psalm 15
Psalm 16
Psalm 17
Psalm 18
Psalm 19
Psalm 20
Psalm 21
Psalm 22
Psalm 23
Psalm 24
Psalm 25
Psalm 26
Psalm 27
Psalm 28
Psalm 29
Psalm 30
Psalm 31
Psalm 32
Psalm 33
Psalm 34
Psalm 35
Psalm 36
Psalm 37
Psalm 38
Psalm 39
Psalm 40
Psalm 41
Book 2
Psalm 42
Psalm 43
Psalm 44
Psalm 45
Psalm 46
Psalm 47
Psalm 48
Psalm 49
Psalm 50
Psalm 51
Psalm 52
Psalm 53
Psalm 54
Psalm 55
Psalm 56
Psalm 57
Psalm 58
Psalm 59
Psalm 60
Psalm 61
Psalm 62
Psalm 63
Psalm 64
Psalm 65
Psalm 66
Psalm 67
Psalm 68
Psalm 69
Psalm 70
Psalm 71
Psalm 72
Book 3
Psalm 73
Psalm 74
Psalm 75
Psalm 76
Psalm 77
Psalm 78
Psalm 79
Psalm 80
Psalm 81
Psalm 82
Psalm 83
Psalm 84
Psalm 85
Psalm 86
Psalm 87
Psalm 88
Psalm 89

Book 4
Psalm 90
Psalm 91
Psalm 92
Psalm 93
Psalm 94
Psalm 95
Psalm 96
Psalm 97
Psalm 98
Psalm 99
Psalm 100
Psalm 101
Psalm 102
Psalm 103
Psalm 104
Psalm 105
Psalm 106
Book 5
Psalm 107
Psalm 108
Psalm 109
Psalm 110
Psalm 111
Psalm 112
Psalm 113
Psalm 114
Psalm 115
Psalm 116
Psalm 117
Psalm 118
Psalm 119
Psalm 120
Psalm 121
Psalm 122
Psalm 123
Psalm 124
Psalm 125
Psalm 126
Psalm 127
Psalm 128
Psalm 129
Psalm 130
Psalm 131
Psalm 132
Psalm 133
Psalm 134
Psalm 135
Psalm 136
Psalm 137
Psalm 138
Psalm 139
Psalm 140
Psalm 141
Psalm 142
Psalm 143
Psalm 144
Psalm 145
Psalm 146
Psalm 147
Psalm 148
Psalm 149
Psalm 150

Psalms 1-41 (First Book)

Introduction

Psalms, like Job, is poetic, a collection from the pens of various writer inspired by God, — David and others, some named, some apparently not. Yet they are arranged in perfect order by the overruling of the Spirit of God. These psalms are in the original divided into five books — first, from chapter 1 to 41; second, chapter 42 to 72; third, from chapter 73 to 89; fourth, from chapter 90 to 106; and fifth, from chapter 107 to the end. Their subject matter compares beautifully with the five books of Moses. Indeed, the Numerical Bible (F.W.Grant) shows all scripture to be based on this order of five subjects, which is wonderfully appropriate, for number five is the number that indicates God with man, as our four fingers alone would express man's weakness, while adding the thumb makes the hand strong.

How full of comfort are the Psalms in dealing with the feelings of the heart in circumstances of every kind, bringing the answer of God to every need of the soul. Preeminently they speak of Christ, and here we find His own feelings in concern for the glory of God and for the blessing of souls, in suffering as the lowly Man of sorrows, as persecuted by men, in suffering the anguish of the cross; of anger too against the wickedness of man, — indeed feelings as various as the circumstances with which He deals. To consider its feelings is a marvelous balm for the feelings of our own hearts.

It must be remembered, however, that the Psalms are written generally from a Jewish point of view, and the blessing of Israel, together with her afflictions, sorrows and chastening, is most prominent in the book. Thus, it is prophetic of the history of Israel through all her troubles until she is established in the glory of the millennial kingdom. Yet this does not in any way detract from the spiritual blessing to be found there for ourselves: it is a book of infinitely sweet value and comfort for our souls.

Psalm 1

THE TRULY BLESSED MAN

How beautifully the book begins with the man who is truly blessed! It speaks preeminently of Christ, though not confined to Christ, for others follow Him in the path of faith and devotion. But only He is perfect in the qualifications of this psalm. The first verse is negative in showing the blessed man's separation from the evils so common in the world. His walk (speaking of energy of action) is not in the counsel of the ungodly. Standing does not require action, but it does indicate association, as Judas stood with the enemies of the Lord (John 18:5). The blessed man stands apart from the path of sinners. Sitting in the seat of the scornful would indicate that one is comfortable in the company of those who are guilty of scorn and contempt for the Lord of glory. Peter sat with the enemies of the Lord briefly, but of course he could not be comfortable.

Verses 2 and 3 are beautifully positive. Some people tell us not to mention the negative at all, but God mentions it first. Why? Because the whole world is in a state of evil, and it must first be established that the believer is not of this world. Then the positive things provide the evidence as to why he is not of this world. "His delight is in the law of the Lord" (v. 2). The law here is not confined to the five books of Moses, which are rightly called "the law of Moses," but includes the entire word of God as revealed at the time this psalm was written.

The blessed man meditates in the law of God day and night. Some eastern religions advocate "meditation," but their practice is not meditation at all, but the effort to rid one's mind of everything, good or bad, and leave him in a state, of nothingness. How much better to meditate on God's word!

Verse 3 tells the results of meditation on the word of God. The individual will be like a tree planted by the rivers of water. The water speaks of the word of God (Eph. 5:26), and flowing water denotes the power of the Spirit of God in making the word vital and precious to us. More than this, the tree is a fruit tree, producing fruit in its proper season, for there are times of rest also as the fruit is developing. Fruit is primarily for God, while the leaves speak of the profession of faith, and these in a devoted believer do not wither, as they do in one who is merely a professor with no reality. Revelation 22:2 speaking of the tree of life (symbolizing the Lord Jesus) says, "The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations." Thus, the outward profession or declaration of God's glory in Christ, will have wonderful effect in the outward condition of the Gentile nations in the millennium.

"And whatever he does shall prosper." How absolutely true this is of the Lord Jesus. While His sufferings and death seemed to be His defeat, this was a sacrifice that He accomplished that has prospered amazingly in the salvation of countless souls. Let us therefore not be discouraged by any troubling setbacks, for whatever God enables us to do for Him will prosper. "Your labor is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Cor. 15:58).

THE UNGODLY (vv. 4-6)

How dreadfully in contrast are the ungodly seen to be in these three verses. Matthew 13:30 speaks of believers as "wheat," and Peter is shown to be "wheat" in Luke 22:31; but the ungodly are "like that chaff which the wind drives away" (v. 4). When grain was threshed in the threshing floor, doors were opened at both ends to allow the wind to blow through and take away the chaff, while the wheat remained because of its heavier weight. The chaff was of no value, and unbelievers have no moral weight.

When judgment falls, as it must eventually do, the ungodly will have no standing before the bar of God. Nor will such sinners be included in the congregation of the righteous (v. 5). Verse 1 has shown us that the godly are even now separated from the ungodly. Can the ungodly expect to inherit the same blessedness as the righteous in eternity? Impossible! Only their being with the righteous would be unbearable misery for them, and God would not allow the righteous to be traumatized by the presence of ungodly enemies of the Lord Jesus.

"For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish" (v. 6). The One who takes full account of all mankind knows the way of the righteous. Their history on earth has given time to prove their consistent "way" to be commendable and worthy of a full reward. But the way of the ungodly (being consistently corrupt) shall perish. They have nothing of value to be rewarded, and all they have done, whatever pride they may have taken in it, will be banished into eternal oblivion. Their personal end will be worse than this.

Psalm 2

THE WORLD IN OPPOSITION TO GOD

The end of Chapter 1 has spoken of "the ungodly," which emphasizes only the fact that they leave God out of their lives. However, Psalm 2 goes much further, showing the nations of the world raging and plotting "against the Lord and against His Anointed." For man does not only choose to be ignorant of God: he is an enemy of God (Rom. 5:10). This has been true all through man's history but will become more bold and defiant at the time of the Great Tribulation, when God will allow their hateful opposition to so develop as to boldly challenge the true God and His Son Jesus Christ, who is God's Anointed King.

The people plot a vain, futile thing (v. 1), as though they can possibly banish God from His place of sovereign power and glory! Even today the nations are actually throwing aside the truth of the word of God as being of no serious consequence, so that after the Lord takes believers Home to heaven at the Rapture, the kings of the earth will be fully readily to "set themselves" in determined hostility against God (v. 2). God's anointed King also, who has once been cast out and crucified, will be the Object of their hatred, for they know they have not really gotten rid of Him. Though they rejected Him from the earth, He has been received in heaven, though they don't like to admit it.

What do they plot together to do? To break the bonds and cords of God's restraining power in pieces (v. 3). Though God's activity in restraining evil is not seen, yet it is felt by men in their consciences, which many deeply resent, trying hard to silence their consciences and to refuse any reference to God's word, which they say is an intrusion into their private rights! They consider this an effort to bind them by cords when they want to be free to do as they please; In this matter the nations — people, kings and rulers unite together with the intention of doing away with the authority of God.

GOD'S RESPONSE (vv. 4-6)

Though the hostility of the nations against God and His Anointed Christ) is both concerted and determined, "He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision" (v.4). Well might the God of heaven and earth laugh at their stupidity! For they are like little children gathering against their national government to tell the authorities, “We are canceling all the laws you have ever enacted and will refuse to obey anything you say." Of course, this would be only laughable, for they have no ability to carry out their schemes. But is amazing how long God bears with this evil before summarily judging it.

However, God's patience is not indifference, and when His time comes, His judgment will suddenly fall. "Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure" (v. 5). The solemnity of His speaking then will strike terror into their souls, though little need be said of the details of His judgment, for the most important thing (the thing that will affect them the most deeply) is declared in verse 6, "Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion." Here is absolute, indisputable authority! God has decreed that Zion (in Jerusalem) is the earthly center of His authority, where His Son will reign in pure righteousness. However strongly the nations may object to this, they will all eventually bow to the One they once rejected and crucified.

THE SON OF GOD SPEAKS (vv. 7-9)

The words in this section come directly from the lips of the Lord Jesus, who had not even yet been born, so that they are prophetic. "I will declare the decree; the Lord has said to Me, "You are My Son, Today I have begotten You." The last five words clearly refer to the birth of the Lord Jesus in Bethlehem. But the first four words establish the fact that the One who was born in Bethlehem existed as the Son of God before that time. For it is certainly not said that He became the Son of God by being begotten. This One who has been the Son of God from eternity, is the One who has been begotten of God in Manhood at a certain time — "this day". In fact, the announcement of this marvelous birth was made at the very time by angels (Luke 2:8-12). False christs have risen since that time, claiming to be Christ when they were grown men. But it was vital that Christ should be announced at the time of His birth, — "this day." In verse 7 therefore the reality of the Godhead and Manhood of Christ are clearly set before our eyes.

The Lord Jesus also records God's words to Him, "Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession" (v.8). As the true Man of God's counsels, the Lord Jesus would not be denied anything He asked of God — even all the nations and the entire earth. Satan offered to the Lord Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if He would worship him (Matt. 4:8-9), but the Lord would receive nothing from the father of lies. He will yet receive far more than Satan offered, from the hand of God. Indeed, by His great sacrifice on Calvary He has already bought the whole field (the world) (Matt. 13:44), though Satan, as a usurper, still acts as "the god of this world" (2 Cor. 4:4). But God will cast him down, and give to His own Son the inheritance that He has earned by His great sacrifice (Rev. 11:15).

But what of the enemies who seek to resist the Lord Jesus? While He has been wonderfully patient with them for centuries, His patience will give way to His righteous judgment. As God says to Christ, "You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel" (v. 9). What awesome power will thus be manifested by the Son of Man who was once rejected and crucified, but now exalted and magnified. His future complete victory is absolutely assured.

GOD'S APPEAL TO SOBER REASON (vv. 10-12)

"Now therefore, be wise, O kings; be instructed, you judges of the earth (v. 10). Now, while there is still opportunity for repentance, let the great men of the world consider the declared testimony of God to the fact that the Lord Jesus will certainly reign over all. If only men would "serve the Lord with fear," then they would also "rejoice with trembling," — rejoice because it is the Lord they trust; tremble because of having to give account to the God of heaven and earth.

"Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little" (v. 12). How foolish for people to say they believe in God, but not in the Lord Jesus! It is God who tells them to "kiss the Son." The kiss speaks of reconciliation: "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (2 Cor. 5:19). Thus, God does the reconciling by virtue of the sacrifice of Christ, but how many respond to this great kindness of God? To kiss the Son therefore is to respond positively to the urgent invitation of God through the Apostle Paul, "We implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God" (2 Cor. 5:20). If so, "Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him."

Psalm 3

CONFIDENCE IN GOD'S SUFFICIENCY (vv. 1-4)

This psalm is ascribed to David, written when he was fleeing from Absalom his son. Following the Psalm that speaks of nations and rulers setting themselves against the Lord, it considers the fact of a godly man being subjected to the enmity of others claiming authority; for if people are against Christ they are also against believers. In this case, what is the resource of help for the child of God? The answer is clear and plain. But before the answer, the distress of the sufferer is seen: "Lord, how are they increased who trouble me. Many are they who rise up against me" (v. 1). David was not thinking only of Absalom, _but of the great number whom Absalom had influenced to follow him. Absalom's uprising reminds us of the treachery of the coming Antichrist, who will at first obtain the favor of the Jewish remnant, then will turn against them, exalting himself to the place of claiming to be God (2 Thess. 2:3-4).

As many said of David, "There is no help for him in God," so the chief priests, scribes and elders of Israel mockingly said as they watched Christ on the cross, "He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him" (Matt. 22:43). Thus, men mistake God's patience for indifference or indulgence. But God's time is not man's, and in His own time He will intervene, as He did after Christ had been crucified and buried. What a deliverance then when Christ was raised from among the dead!

Thus, verse 3 shows the simplicity of faith in David's declaring that, in contrast to the sneers of wicked men, the Lord was a shield for him, that is, His protector even in the midst of His sufferings, but also "my glory," the Object of David's pure delight. Others could not discern what David did, that when he was persecuted, God was still his cause of rejoicing. Besides this, the Lord was the One who lifted up David's head, that is, he caused David to triumph over his enemies. Even before that triumph became manifest, his moral triumph was vital and precious, far above the understanding of the unbeliever.

His prayer of verse 4 was the prayer of faith, with simple confidence that God would hear, and of course God did hear "from His holy hill," that is, from the place of high exaltation where holiness is untainted by the emptiness of human thought. Being absolutely holy, God loves what is good and abhors evil. How good for us to have our hearts lifted up to contemplate the Lord Jesus on His holy hill. The sight of his glory melts away all that is contrary to the holiness of His blessed character. Well might the word say "Selah," — pause and consider.

RESTING IN FAITH (vv. 5-6)

Having cried to God with the assurance that God hears him, David is no longer troubled in spite of the number who rise against him. He may lie down and sleep (v. 5), not the sleep of exhaustion, but of quiet rest, -resting in the Lord. When he awakes, the calm confidence of faith remains with him, for the Lord is his Sustainer. Even ten thousands of his enemies will not inspire fear in his heart (v. 6), just as he was not afraid of Goliath and all the armies of the Philistines because his trust was in the living God.

ASKING FOR GOD'S INTERVENTION (vv. 7-8)

In verse 4 he had cried to the Lord for his own protection. In the full confidence of this now, he requests defeat for his enemies (v. 7) —in fact realizing the answer to this in advance, "For You have struck all my enemies on the cheekbone, — an infliction that would render them not so "cheeky"! In fact, this prayer of David was fulfilled more completely than David had really wanted, for he had desired that Absalom should be spared (2 Sam. 18:5), and he was not. Did David expect that Absalom's followers would be destroyed, but not their leader? Of course, David wanted mercy for Absalom because he was his son, but this was not to be, for God is no respecter of persons.

"You have broken the teeth of the ungodly." Of course this is figurative of breaking their power of devouring those whom they considered enemies, such as is seen in Psalm 22:13, "They gape at me with their mouths, like a raging and roaring lion," and also in Acts 7:54, after Stephen had been arrested by the religious leaders of Israel , and he had spoken to them faithfully as regards their entire history of refusing the testimony of God, culminating in their rejecting and crucifying the Lord of Glory. They bitterly resented having themselves exposed in this way as actual enemies of God, and "gnashed at him with their teeth." When men's teeth are broken, they certainly lose their ability to gnash with them, much as they would like to. God has given people teeth for a good purpose, that is, to chew their food to make it digestible, but men always seem to use their God-given abilities and privileges in ways totally opposed to the reason for their having them.

The eventual triumph of the Lord is certain: "Salvation belongs to the Lord" (v. 8). That triumph also includes the blessing of all His people, for they are just as secure from defeat as is their Lord. Selah!

Psalm 4

CONFIDING IN GOD (v. 1)

This psalm, in common with many others, continues to show the kindness of God in the face of trial and persecution. It is addressed to the Chief Musician, who is certainly the Lord Jesus, as is indicated in Hebrews 2:123, where the Lord is speaking, "In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You." it is he who takes the lead in the musical offering of praise to God. The first verse is directly addressed to the Chief Musician, a prayer in which the psalmist recognizes that he is speaking to the "God of my righteousness." Thus, the Chief Musician is God.

This prayer too relates to the previous answer from God, who had before relieved the psalmist when he was in distress. For this reason, he can count on the mercy of the Lord in hearing his prayer (v. 1). Do we not also find that as the cases of God's answering our prayers multiply, this increases our confidence that He hears when our need drives us to pray?

PLEADING WITH MEN (vv. 2-5)

When one confides in God, is it not consistent that he pleads with men? Thus the psalmist turns to address the sons of men (v. 2), asking how long they will continue to turn his glory into shame. He gloried in the faithfulness of God, and they (as many do today) considered it vain to trust in God, and would put to shame anyone who stood on God's behalf. "How long will you love worthlessness and seek falsehood?" It is virtually astounding how much time people will take for things that have absolutely no lasting value and for things that are actually false! Does experience with such things not teach them that there is no true satisfaction in them at all? How long indeed!

"But know that the Lord has set apart for Himself him who is godly" (v. 3). Why is there such a difference between the godly and the ungodly? Because the Lord has set apart the godly as His own possession. If the ungodly would only consider this serious fact, they might cease to turn to shame the glory of the believer. The psalmist is not ashamed to insist before unbelievers that the Lord will hear his prayers. Such an appeal should surely speak solemnly to every believer. Thus, the psalmist advises them to "tremble and sin not" (Num. Bible), for they are facing more serious matters than they realize. In the dead of night let them meditate within their own hearts and be still (v. 4). For the constant whirl of activity on the part of great numbers of people is really an effort to silence the serious probings of conscience, and they need some time of silence before God to search their own hearts. If they would do this it might lead them to judge their sinful ways and turn to the Lord.

Then they might indeed offer acceptable sacrifices to God — not the sacrifices of the wicked, but the sacrifices of righteousness (v. 5), which are explained in Psalm 51:17, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart — these, O God, You will not despise." Consistently with this, they are urged to "putyour trust in the Lord." This is a decided action of faith, not merely one act of faith, but an attitude permanently adopted.

FAITH RESPONDING TO QUESTIONS (vv. 6-8)

"There are many who say, 'Who will show us any good?" (v. 6). People uselessly look for some good in the promises of political candidates, for their hopes are always cast down to the ground. Many have become disillusioned and see no prospect of better times. Who is it they trust? If only men, of course they will be disappointed. But sadly, they look no higher! The psalmist is not so pessimistic. He looks up with the simple prayer, "Lord, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us." Is there any doubt that God will answer the simplicity of faith that so depends on Him?

The answer is immediate: "You have put gladness in my heart, more than in the season that their grain and wine increased" (v. 7). When temporal blessings increase, people are generally extremely happy, but the sense of the nearness of the Lord gives gladness far more deep than can ever be known by the increase of material riches, and this is true even at a time when one suffer a great lack of material things, as the prophet Habakkuk declares with no uncertainty, "Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls — yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation" (Hab. 3:17-18).

For this reason, the psalmist can confidently say, "I will both lie down in peace and sleep, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety" (v.8). This is not the sleep of exhaustion, but that of confiding faith. Those whose riches increase may more likely lie awake at night worrying about how to preserve their wealth or how to spend it. The believer can depend on the Lord to lead him in the use of what he may be entrusted with, and he does not need to worry about thieves stealing it.

Psalm 5

AN APPEAL TO THE GOD ABOVE (vv. 1-3)

In Psalm 4:2-5 David had appealed to the ungodly to turn from evil and put their trust in the Lord; but in Psalm 5 there is a clear change, for here he appeals to God against the ungodly. This surely intimates the fact that the ungodly have refused the appeal of the grace of God and no hope is held out for them. Many Christians have recoiled from approving of this Psalm and of others that call for God's judgments on the ungodly, for the Lord's own words are contrary to this when he was crucified, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do" (Luke 23:34), and Christians are told, "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink" (Ro. 12:230). In fact, in Matthew 5:44 the Lord goes further than this, saying, "Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you."

What then of these psalms that call for the judgment of God upon enemies? The answer to this is implied in Luke 9:54-55, where James and John asked the Lord if they should command fire to come from heaven and consume the disbelieving Samaritans. They considered they had a good precedent for this in referring to Elijah calling down fire from heaven to consume two captains and their cohort of 50 men each (2 Ki. 1:9-12). The Lord's answer was, "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of." They were in a different dispensation of God, not the dispensation of law, but of grace, since "grace and truth" had come "by Jesus Christ." So long as grace was proclaimed, judgment must be held in abeyance. Yet judgment must eventually come for those who refuse the grace of God, and Revelation 6:9-10 records a cry to God by martyrs for retribution against those who have murdered believers. Certainly, this will be perfectly right then.

In fact, this is implied in Psalms 4 and 5, that when grace is refused, judgment will eventually fall. So that today, while we ought to bear long with being treated badly, and continue to pray for enemies, yet it is a comfort to know that evil will not always be allowed to prevail, so that there is reason for us to patiently endure.

This psalm is addressed to the Chief Musician, that is, the Lord Jesus, with the earnest entreaty that He should give ear to David's words and consider his meditation (v. 1). Certainly, he could have fullest confidence that the Lord would do so. Though David may not have understood the significance of all he wrote, yet verse 2 indicates that he is really addressing the Lord Jesus, who is both his King and his God. This same truth is often evident in the Psalms.

Verse 8 of chapter 2. has spoken of David's lying down in peace to sleep, in confidence of the Lord's safekeeping. Now in the morning (v. 3) he commits himself afresh to the Lord's preserving mercy, looking up above the level of circumstances that surrounded him.

FOR GOD IS A GOD OF TRUTH (vv. 4-6)

Can David have confidence that God hears him? Yes indeed, for he bases his confidence on the very character of God, who takes no pleasure in wickedness, and cannot allow evil any place in His presence (v. 4). His patience with evil is not by any means indulgence, nor indifference. Proud boasters will not stand in His sight. Workers of iniquity can only expect hatred for the character of hatred they have formed, and those who speak falsehood must reap the results of this in destruction (v. 5). "The bloodthirsty and deceitful man" is the one whose wickedness does not stop short of murder and uses every kind of crafty artifice to conceal his evil; but the Lord will expose this, for He abhors such characters (v. 6).

IN CONTRAST, THE TRUE WORSHIPER (v. 7)

How beautiful is the difference in one who has the true fear of God before his eyes! He comes boldly into the house of God in the multitude of God's mercy. Though he gains entrance only by God's mercy, yet in the confidence of that mercy he is at perfect liberty, so that his worship is spontaneous and real. In New Testament language, he worships the Father "in spirit and in truth" (John 4:23).

PRAYER FOR A RIGHT WALK BEFORE ENEMIES (vv. 8-9)

Having been in the presence of God as a worshiper, the psalmist wants no contrary attitude when he walks before men, but calls upon God to lead him in His righteousness. Surely every believer should desire and pray for a walk consistent with his worship. God delights to make His way straight before our eyes, — a way that turns neither to the right or to the left, but goes straight on toward the Lord Jesus in glory. Let our eyes be set on Him and we shall not deviate from single-hearted devotion to the Lord. Such a path would be a clear reproof to those in whose mouths there is no faithfulness and whose inward motives were only those of destruction. How did David know these motives? Because they manifested themselves by their words, their throat being a virtual sepulcher.

PRAYER FOR DELIVERING JUDGMENT (vv. 10-12)

As we have seen, the psalmist no longer prays for men of determined wicked character but prays that God will bring upon them the judgment they deserve. "Let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions" (v. 10). Certainly, this will eventually take place, for it is the only answer of God remaining where grace is refused and rebellion persisted in.

Such judgment of the ungodly, however, will mean the deliverance of the godly from the clutches of evil men. Then those who trust the Lord will greatly rejoice, not only that they have been delivered, but because the honor of God's name has been vindicated. Believers thus have reason to shout for joy, not only because they have been defended, but because they love the great Defender: they rejoice in the Lord (v. 11). For they recognize that it is He who blesses the righteous, both delivering them and surrounding them with His favor as a constant shield (v. 12).

Psalm 6

PERSONAL SOUL TROUBLE (vv. 1-3)

Psalm 5 was accompanied with flutes, but in Psalm 6 the harp, a stringed instrument, is indicated, for the strings are more appropriate for the deep feeling of anguish that so moves the psalmist, David again. Though enemies have evidently occasioned the pain and distress he suffers, yet he realizes that the hand of God is behind this, so that he is dealing directly with God, not with enemies.

He knows that God's anger is righteous and His hot displeasure that which David deserved, but it so reaches the depths of his soul that he cries out for mercy (v. 2), pleading that he is weak and hardly able to bear the anguish he suffers. There seems to be physical suffering involved in this too, for his bones (the framework of the body) are troubled as well as his soul (v. 3). There is no doubt that these things are applicable to the suffering of Israel when under God's governmental discipline, but we do not yet read of the broken confession of sin such as is seen in Psalm 32 and Psalm 51. Thus, the root is not fully met in this psalm, as it will be when the Lord Jesus appears to Israel at the end of the Great Tribulation, and "they will look on Me who they have pierced" (Zech. 12:10). Then they will mourn in deepest repentance, even husbands and wives apart, that is, affected by intensely personal humiliation and repentance. Meanwhile their trouble now leads them to cry out, "0 Lord, how long?" (v. 3). For the distress that God causes Israel to suffer because of their sinful state is not the actual repentance for having rejected and crucified their Messiah. Their distress has continued for centuries, but will come to its conclusion only when they receive the Lord Jesus when He comes in His great power and majesty, for this will bring about genuine repentance.

PLEADING FOR DELIVERANCE (vv. 4-7)

Such words as those of verse 4 have been continually on the lips of orthodox Jews for years: "Return, O Lord, deliver me!" Many cry for the return of their Messiah, though they he not realized that their only Messiah is the Lord Jesus. If they had realized this, they would have been long ago delivered.

The psalmist pleads to be saved for the Lord's "mercies sake," which is not a claim of keeping the law. Will the Lord delay until death overtakes the sufferer? How could he have any remembrance of the Lord then? Today believers know that even death does not in any way cancel the work of God's grace, but Old Testament believers did not have a clear revelation of this. "In the grave who will give You thanks?" But though the body of the believer may be in the grave, his soul and spirit will be with the Lord, where there will be continual thanksgiving to Him.

Yet meanwhile the psalmist becomes worn out with his groaning and his bed is drenched with tears. Yet these are not tears of repentance, but those of feeling his deep distress (v. 6). "My eye wastes away because of grief." Of course, this is figurative. He grief caused his sight to be impaired, that is, when pain becomes great, we fail to discern things as they really are (v.7). The eye becomes old because of enemies. Just as old age weakens the France, so his discernment was weakened because of the constant pressure of his enemies. The pressure of spiritual enemies will have similar effect on us if we neglect to have on "the whole armor of God" (Eph. 6:11).

FINALLY FAITH ANSWERS THE ENEMIES (vv. 8-10)

At last David realizes in some measure the truth of James 4:7, which tell us, "Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." His anguish has led to submission, so he can bid his enemies to depart (v. 8), and the psalm ends with the confidence that God has heard his prayer, with all enemies being put to flight., not only being defeated, but being put to shame suddenly,— just as suddenly as will be the appearance of the Lord Jesus in glory.

Psalm 7

A REFUGE ONLY IN GOD (vv. 1-2)

This psalm is said to be a meditation of David in which he sang directly to the Lord concerning the words of Cush, a Benjamite. We have no account of the work of Cush, though we know King Saul was a Benjamite, and the psalm sounds as though it has reference to David's suffering when hunted by Saul. It is good, however, that neither in his history nor in his psalms does David speak directly against Saul, for he was careful to give honor to God's anointed king.

Thus, in verse 1 he speaks of "those who persecute me," but he is appealing directly to God for his protection, for in God only could he trust to save him; for he felt threatened as exposed to being torn as a lion would tear him, rending him in pieces with none to deliver (v. 2).

UNMERITED PERSECUTION (vv. 3-5)

In Psalm 6 he realized that God was dealing with him by means of enemies because of his own poor condition, but in Psalm 7 the persecution is without cause, just as Saul's persecuting David was not because of any fault on David's part, but only the enmity of Saul to blame. Saul had said to his servants, "There is not one of you who is sorry for me or reveals to me that my son has stirred up my servant against me, to lie in wait, as it is this day" (1 Sam. 22:8). But this was a lie: David was not lying in wait for Saul, but rather hiding from Saul who wanted to kill him.

Thus, David could say, "If I have done this: if there is iniquity in my hands: if I have repaid evil to him who was at peace with me, or have plundered my enemy without cause, let my enemy pursue and overtake me; yes, let him trample my life to the earth, and lay my honor in the dust" (vv. 3-5). He would not refuse any just recompense for evil, if he was guilty of it, and would gladly appeal to God as the Judge of the matter. Indeed, how many of God's faithful servants have suffered unjustly at the hands of wicked men, and how many even suffer martyrdom!

PLEADING FOR THE LORD'S INTERVENTION (vv. 6-8)

At the time of the end, when suffering such as this afflicts the people of God, we read of martyrs crying out, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" (Rev. 6:9-10). So also, in this psalm the cry is made, "Arise, O Lord in your anger: lift Yourself up because of the rage of my enemies; rise up for me to the judgment You have commanded!" (v. 6). At the present time, as we have seen, this is not our prayers, for as long as the day of grace lasts, we should pray for our enemies.

When the Lord does arise to come to His people, however, the congregation of the people will surround Him in worshiping adoration. But He will not remain on the earth, so it is said, "For their sakes, therefore, return on high" (v. 7). Just as the Lord Jesus ascended to heaven after His resurrection, and as He told His disciples previously, "I tell you the truth, It is to your advantage that I go away (John 16:7), so it will be to Israel's advantage that He returns on high to govern from that place of perfect truth.

The Lord shall judge the peoples" (v. 8). All the nations shall be involved in this. Judgment does not necessarily mean punishment, but vast numbers will then deserve the punishment that justice must inflict. The psalmist then invites the Lord to judge him, but "according to my righteousness," for he has learned to judge himself. This will be true of the godly remnant of Israel at that time, who have not been guilty of the charges of evil men against them.

THE RIGHTEOUS VERSUS THE UNGODLY (vv. 9-10)

The psalmist pleads now that the wicked should be put in their place and the righteous given their proper place (v.9). Today the wicked challenge the righteous, but this will come to an end, as the psalmist requests. "But establish the just." The wicked seek to establish themselves, but will be put to shame, while the just are firmly established by God. "For the righteous God tests the hearts and minds." Those who stand the test will be established: those who fail will fall under judgment. Thus, the godly in Israel will say, "My defense is of God, who saves the upright in heart." This will be the eventual outcome of the Great Tribulation for redeemed Israel.

GOD'S GOVERNMENT (vv. 11-13)

The confidence of the psalmist indicated in verse 10 is fully justified in the fact that "God is a just Judge." He governs in pure righteousness, and therefore "is angry with the wicked every day" (v. 11). He does give opportunity to the wicked to "turn back," but if he does not turn back, then God's sword is sharpened to be "sharper than any two-edged sword" (Heb. 4:12), even discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart. Who can escape the penetrating power of such an instrument?

"He also prepares for Himself instruments of death" (v. 13). God can use for Himself whatever means He desires to accomplish the judgment of His enemies. Korah and his rebellious company were swallowed up by the earth which God caused to split apart (Num. 16:3132). Or Elijah, depending on God, called down fire from heaven to consume two companies of fifty men each, who came to arrest him (2 Ki. 1:10-12). Thus, God's arrows are made into fiery shafts: His government is firm and decided.

THE WAY AND END OF THE WICKED (vv. 14-16)

The character of the wicked is exposed in his actions: he "brings forth iniquity," for he conceives trouble (v. 14). This is no sudden slip into wrongdoing, but premeditated intention to cause trouble, so that it is accompanied by falsehood, the deceit that seeks to conceal his motives by well-planned actions such as Absalom used when plotting the overthrow of his father David (2 Sam. 15:1-12). The coming antichrist will be of this character (Ps. 55:12-14), but just as Absalom virtually prepared a pit for his own downfall, so the antichrist will fall by his own proud plotting against the Lord. He will fall into the ditch he has made (v. 15). His violent dealings will come back as violence against himself (v. 16).

THE SONG OF VICTORY (v. 17)

Thus, the Great Tribulation will eventually issue in great blessing and great joy for the remnant of Israel. Their praise will not be according to their preferences, however, but according to the Lord's righteousness. Their song of praise will rise to the One who as "the Lord Most High." a title peculiarly fitted to His exaltation in the millennium. He will reign in absolute righteousness then, a contrast to the compromising of righteousness so common in present governments.

Psalm 8

THE LORD'S GLORY ABOVE THE HEAVENS (v. 1)

This psalm looks forward to the millennial glory of the Lord Jesus, when Israel, in lowly humility, will look far above the confines of their earthly inheritance, to behold the true Messiah in His excellence, not only in heaven, but "above the heavens." All the earth will respond to the excellence of His name, though at present the world has cast out His name as a worthless thing, and only the few who have been redeemed by His blood give that name the honor that is due.

NEWBORNS STRENGTHENED: THE ENEMY SILENCED (v. 2)

Since all believers will be taken to glory at the rapture, it will be a new work of God that gives new birth to those who are driven by tribulation to trust in the Lord Jesus. Mature Christians will be gone from the earth, therefore those newborn will be virtually "babes and nursing infants" (v. 2). But the power of God will be with them: they will be given strength and wisdom to speak with firm decision in such a way as seems miraculous. But the Lord Jesus on earth spoke these telling words, "Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 18:3).

Thus, God will use the weakest, most dependent of His creatures to challenge and defeat the boasted power of the enemy and the avenger. How great indeed He is! — and His greatness will then be manifested in such a way as to completely subdue all opposition.

THE SON OF MAN CROWNED WITH GLORY (vv. 3-5)

But now we are to witness a far greater marvel. David considers the tremendous contrast between the awe-inspiring works of God in creation — the moon and the stars, etc., and man in his insignificance. Here are huge heavenly bodies circling in space in marvelously orderly arrangement, while in comparison man is hardly a speck on a small planet. Indeed, "what is man?" (v. 4. Why should God take interest in a creature so small? But this manifests the wisdom and grace of God in a marvelous way. He is interested in the smallest details of His creation.

But David speaks of "man" and "the son of man." it was man (Adam) who was first "made a little lower than the angels." Angels are spirits, but man was given the limitation of a human body — indeed a body amazing in the details of its composition, but still of a lower order than that of angels.

But the Lord Jesus was the full answer to the title of "Son of Man," and of the dignity spoken of here — "crowned with glory and honor," though in a small measure this was true of mankind generally at the beginning, — mankind as represented in Adam, though Adam of course was not a son of man. Adam, when he sinned, in some large measure lost the dignity of the honored position that God gave him to begin with, but man is still in outward control of earthly creatures. At first he had full authority over animals; but later God told Noah that the fear of man would be implanted into the hearts of animals, not that man now would rule over animals (Gen. 9:2).

THE EARTH SUBJECT TO MAN (vv. 6-8)

While Adam was given dominion over the earth (Gen. 1:28), this is only typical of the authority that rightly belongs to the Lord Jesus, the Son of Man, who will take that full authority publicly at the introduction of the millennium. Domesticated animals are first mentioned — sheep and oxen — then "the beasts of the field," that is, wild animals. Birds of the air and all sea life are added to these. These will all be perfectly subject to the Lord Jesus in the age to come. They were subject to Adam before he sinned, though God did not tell Noah they were subject to him, but rather, "The fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea" (Gen. 9:2). If this were not so, man would be in continual danger of being destroyed by animals, of course it is God himself who has given the animals this instinctive fear of man.

AN ASCRIPTION OF LASTING GLORY (v. 9)

Verse 9 is a repetition of verse 1, "0 Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth." Yet it is not a mere repetition. Verse 1 is introductory to the millennium, when this wonderful truth is first realized. Verse 9 at the end is a beautiful testimony to the fact that the great honor of the name of the Lord will remain fresh and marvelous through all the thousand years of the reign of the Son of Man.

Psalm 9

In common with a few other psalms, this psalm, together with Psalm 10, is an acrostic, each verse beginning with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, in order, though apparently six letters have been dropped out. Of course, God has a reason for this, whether we understand it or not. In Chapter 10 however, we shall see an evident reason. Psalm 9 is addressed to "the Chief Musician, the Lord Jesus, and uses the expression, Death for the son, which reminds us of the Passover in Egypt, when the firstborn sons of the Egyptians were killed when the blood was not on the doorposts.

UNMINGLED PRAISE (vv. 1-2)

Though the righteous judgment of Gold is seen in this psalm, yet it begins with vibrant praise, untainted by any foreign element. Thus, the end is seen from the beginning. Many psalms follow this pattern. The rejoicing end is found' first, then the exercises that have led to this end. The psalmist praises God with all; his heart: nothing can intrude upon this worshiping adoration. He gladly declares all the wondrous works of the Lord, whether in creation, in redemption or in the new creation. All these are works of majestic power and grace. Therefore, he will rejoice and exult in the Lord personally, and sing psalms to His name. Again. he gives to the Lord the title, "Most High," showing that the end in view is the millennial glory of Christ, a glory that will never give place to any other.

DELIVERANCE FROM THE ENEMY (vv. 3-6)

During the Tribulation, the King of the North will devastate lsrael in coming through that country and proceeding toward Egypt, Libya and Ethiopia (Dan. 11:40-43). But he will "turn back" (v. 3) when he hears news from the east and from the north, and will rush back to Israel with great fury, but it will be only to meet his end with none to help him (Dan. 11:44). His army will "fall and perish at Your presence," for at Jerusalem the Lord Jesus will go forth to destroy the King of the north and his armies. Thus He will maintain the right and the cause of the godly remnant of Israel (v. 4), sitting on the throne, judging in righteousness. It is not necessary to think that this means literally sitting on the throne when judging, but His going forth will be with the calm deliberation of One who is in perfect control of all the circumstances.

The nations — the northern enemy and others beside — will be fully rebuked and destroyed for their wickedness, their name blotted out forever (v. 5). As to the enemy (v. 6) his "destructions are finished forever," and You, that is the Lord Jesus, have destroyed cities so that even their memory has perished. Babylon the great is clearly one of these (Rev. 19:21).

THE HOLY ONE DWELLING IN ZION (vv. 7-12)

"But the Lord shall endure forever" in contrast to the sudden demise of the enemy. Though it may seem that this preparation has been delayed for years, yet in His own time He will judge the world in righteousness. Today evil seems to have the advantage, but faith may wait his time, when He will administer perfectly fair judgment for the peoples, — not only for Israel. Nor only this, but He "will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble" (v. 9). He will deliver Israel from their enemies, but he Himself will be their refuge. Being delivered is wonderful, but having the Lord Jesus Himself as our sanctuary refuge is much better still. Let us too find our great rejoicing not only in His great salvation, but in Himself personally.

Those who have been awakened by God to know the name of the Lord Jesus will put their trust in Him, that is, definitely and permanently deposit their very interests in this One who is more than worthy of their trust (v. 10). For they realize that he does not forsake those who seek Him.

Thus, those who dwell in Zion (the millennial name of Jerusalem) are bidden to sing praises to the Lord (v. 11). This is surely true for all who have put their trust in Him: how can they refrain from willing, wholehearted praise and thanksgiving? And if really praising the Lord, then we shall be glad to "declare His deeds among the people." For He does indeed remember His own "when He avenges. His personal glory involved in this, and the glory of God, yet His heart is concerned too about the liberation of those who trust Him. "He does not forget the cry of the humble."

THE TRIAL OF EXPERIENCE (vv. 13-14)

It seems strange that after such praises to God for His intervention and blessing, the psalmist is seen pleading for the Lord's mercy. But this is often the case in the Psalms. The experiences are recorded after the end in view has been declared. This is for our encouragement in realizing that, however trying our experiences may be, God has from the beginning decreed the end in greatest blessing. The psalmist deeply feels the trouble occasioned by those who hate him and pleads for God's consideration, -the God who lifts him up from the gates of death. But he asks for this not only for his own relief, but that he might tell all God's praise in the City of Zion, and rejoice in God's salvation.

GOD'S EFFECTIVE GOVERNMENT (vv. 15-17)

God knows how to turn man's evil back upon himself. He did this with Haman in the Book of Esther (Esther 7:6-10), and it will be so with nations who attack Israel in the tribulation period (Dan. 11:40-45). This is perfectly righteous government (v. 15). Nations will be caught in their own net, and will find in painful experience that God is revealed in the judgments He executes. It is significant that here we find the word, Meditation. Men might well think seriously upon this principle of government. In fact, "Selah" is also added, — "pause and consider."

"The wicked shall be turned into Sheol, and all the nations that forget God" (v. 17). Though their end is decided, this is not yet the final end — the lake of fire. Sheol is simply the unseen. Death separates spirit and soul from the body, so that they (the spirit and soul) are then in an unseen state, no longer allowed any place on earth. The Old Testament does not dwell on the subject of the lake of fire, for this awaits the solemn results of the Great White Throne, when all unbelievers will be found guilty and banished to the lake of fire (Rev. 20:11-15). Notice, however, that "the nations that forget God" will suffer the same fate as the wicked. Simply the fact of forgetting God — leaving Him out one's life — is decisive as to his eternal judgment.

THE NEEDY REMEMBERED: MAN'S FRAILTY EXPOSED (vv. 18-20)

How frequently it seems the needy are forgotten and opposed by men and nations who consider themselves to be strong. But the needy will not always be forgotten and they have title to an expectation that will not perish (v. 18). It is the Lord who puts into their lips the cry, "Arise, O Lord, do not let man prevail" (v. 19), for there is no possibility that He will not answer. Indeed, the word "man" can be rightly translated "frail man" (Numerical Bible). His boasted strength is nothing but frailty.

"Let the nations be judged in Your sight" — not only individuals, but the mass of united nations. They will be put in fear and brought down to realize that they themselves are "but frail men" (v. 20). They have no more power than the needy they despise. Well might we 'pause and consider."

Psalm 10

This psalm continues the message of Psalm 9, not even having a separate title. Though it continues an acrostic pattern, yet only verses 1 and 2 indicate this until we come down to verse 12, so that there are ten verses in which the acrostic pattern is dropped out. Some have thought this to be a blemish, questioning if it could be really the word of God, but God is wiser than man, and this omission has pure wisdom in it.

AN EARNEST CRY TO THE LORD (vv. 1-2)

Verse 1 begins with the letter "lamed," following that of chapter 9:18 (caph), and this embraces the first two verses. The agonizing cry to the Lord is that which will issue from the lips of the godly remnant of Israel in the tribulation period. They will be so affected they will not understand why the Lord seems so far off in the time of their greatest trouble. Of course this is because the nation has wandered far from the Lord for centuries, and they will not even then have realized that their true Messiah is the Lord Jesus, whom they rejected.

THE WICKED ONE (vv. 3-11)

These verses no longer speak in the plural — "them" and "they," but of one outstanding enemy. Nor is this enemy from among the Gentile nations, but from inside the nation Israel. It seems apparent that, because of the wickedness of this challenger to the throne of God, the six letters of the Hebrew alphabet have been dropped out of the sequence here, and only resumed when verse 12 says, "Arise, O Lord." Verses 2 to 11 therefore describe the antichrist who will arise in Israel, claiming to be God (2 Thess. 2:3-4). He "boasts of his heart's desire," that is, because he aspires to be God, he boasts that he is God (v. 3). " He blesses the greedy and renounces the Lord." Those who will join with him in oppressing the poor in order to enrich themselves will be fine people in his eyes. This greed will be accompanied by his denial of the Father and the Son (1 John 2:22), the renunciation of the God of Israel, Jehovah. Not only will he be against Christ (antichrist), but will renounce Israel's God of the Old testament.

Boasting of his self-sufficiency, this deluded slave of Satan does not at all seek God: God is not in his thoughts (v. 4). How contrary is this to the purpose for which mankind was created! "Man's chief end is to glorify God," but here is man sunk down so low as to not even recognize a Being greater than he is!

"His ways are always prospering" (v. 5). This will be true for a few short years, and his popularity will so strengthen his pride that when his end comes it will be all the more devastating. God's judgments will be of no significance to him because of his shortsighted pride. He will have enemies, but will haughtily sneer at them because he thinks himself so established in his exaltation that he will not be moved from it: adversity will never overtake him (v. 6). It seems amazing that a man will build up his pride to such an extent within the short space of three- and one-half years! But this same evil pride is in the heart of every man until he us born again by the power of the Holy Spirit of God.

"His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and oppression" (v. 7). This does not necessarily mean his language is that of using curse words, for we read of this same man, "The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart" (Ps. 55:21). His cursing is rather that of speaking derogatively of others, especially of God. He is one who curses God, uses deceit among his friends, and oppresses the poor. "Under his tongue is trouble and iniquity." This may not at first appear to men, but it underlies all that he says. How terrible and indictment!

Verses 8 to 11 then emphasize the deceit that is characteristic of his every activity. While verses 8 and 9 are literally true of some men, they may be figurative of the antichrist, for he will be able to do such things by proxy, that is, having servants to carry out his evil designs. But God will hold him responsible for the evil his servants do by his direction. Many men are subtle enough to keep from being recognized as the source of wickedness by the manipulation of their deluded servants.

"He has said in his heart, God has forgotten; He hides his face; He will never see" (v. 11). Thus, it is clear he knows there is a God, but thinks God is unable to take account of what the deceiver is doing. What an awakening it will be when he is caught red-handed in his fight against God, and with the Beast to be consigned to the horror of the lake of fire! (Rev. 19:20). How dreadful an end for this haughty challenger of the God of creation!

THE LORD ARISING TO JUDGE (vv. 12-28)

The acrostic sequence is resumed in verse 12 because the intervention of the Lord is indicated. He will patiently allow the antichrist to have his way until he erects "the abomination of desolation," an idolatrous image to the Roman Beast, in the temple area of Jerusalem (Rev. 13:14). This will be a bold challenge to the authority of God, so that His judgment falls very swiftly after this. God will indeed arise to cause three- and one-half years of tribulation, such as the world has never before seen. He will certainly not forget the humble, and His answer will come swiftly and solemnly to those who renounce God, thinking they can avoid giving an account to Him (v. 13).

God has for long been a patient Observer (v. 14), but patience is not indifference, as the world will learn by terrible experience. God will repay in perfect righteousness, and the helpless, who have committed themselves to Him, will find Him a helper indeed — a Helper of the fatherless, those who have no one on earth to depend upon.

"Break the arm of the wicked and evil man" (v. 15). We read the answer to this in Zechariah 11:17, "Woe to the worthless shepherd, who leaves the flock! A sword shall be against his arm and against his right eye. His arm shall completely wither, and his right eye shall be totally blinded." Sudden and dreadful will this judgment be! God has given us two eyes, the right being the eye of faith, but his right eye is blinded.

"The Lord is King forever and ever" (v. 16). The challenge of the antichrist will have been utterly silenced and nevermore will any such challenge be raised. Christ will reign for the thousand years of peace, and for eternity nothing can change His title of all authority. The nations that dared to attack His land will have perished, and the psalmist thankfully expresses the appreciation of the humble, that the Lord has heard their prayer, and also that He will prepare their heart for the unmingled blessing that will be theirs (v, 17).

Thus, in perfect righteousness He champions the cause of the fatherless and the oppressed over "the man of the earth," that all oppression may cease (v. 18). The dreadful end of the man of sin will mean greatest relief and blessing for the whole world.

Psalm 11

THE LORD A STRONG REFUGE (v. 1)

While, in chapter 10 it is the godly remnant of Israel calling unitedly for God's protection, in Psalm 11 individual exercise is more apparent. The psalm is again devoted to the Chief Musician, the Lord Jesus, in whom the psalmist finds full confidence. He has put his trust in the Lord. Will he listen to those who advise him to "flee as a bird to your mountain"? (v.1). Satan wants to put the believer in fear. He employed this method in seeking to intimidate Nehemiah through the suggestion of Shemaiah (Neh. 6:10-11), but Nehemiah was not deceived. He answered, "Should such a man as I flee?" Also, Satan influenced Pharisees to try the same deceit on the Lord Jesus, telling him, "Get out and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill you" (Luke 13:31). It must have been Herod who was behind this attack, for the Lord called him a fox in replying, telling the Pharisees to tell Herod that the Lord would continue His work in God's appointed way. Thus, David in this psalm chooses rather to trust in the Lord than to give in to fright.

THE ENEMY THREATENS (vv. 2-3)

While the psalmist is not intimidated, nor moved from his confidence of faith, he is fully aware of the threats of the enemy, the bending of their bow with arrows ready to be released. Yet the enemy is cowardly: he does not want to be observed in his crafty evil: he shoots in the dark, evidently hoping his arrows will find their target.

The enemy particularly strikes at the foundations. He has assaulted the very foundation of the Church of God continually, yet the word is absolute, "Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands" (2 Tim. 2:19). That foundation is Christ (1 Cor. 3:11), But in Psalm 11 the plural is used, — "foundations," for this speaks of the fundamental truths connected with creation; for instance, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen. 1:1) Evolution wants to attack and destroy this fact. Also, the marriage relationship established by God in Genesis 2:24 is attacked by the wicked boldness of adultery and of homosexuality. Thus the family relationship, one of God's established foundations, is put under the destroying hand of wicked men and women. "What can the righteous do?" (v.3).

THE THRONE OF THE LORD (v. 4)

The righteous can look up! However, evil seems to prosper in its destructive ways, "the Lord is in His holy temple: the Lord's throne is in heaven." He is in perfect control of all the circumstances of earth. "His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men." He is cognizant of every detail of men's activities, and he allows the evil of men to continue up to the point of His completing His test of them. Let us remember that God is testing the ungodly by bearing long with them. But they fail the test, and the results will follow.

THE TRIAL OF FAITH (v. 5)

The ungodly having failed the test, they are cast aside in judgment, while the righteous continue to be tested. Why so? Because "the trial of your faith" is "much more precious than of gold that perishes" (1 Peter 1:7). Through the process of fiery trial, faith is proven and made more beautiful, while the wicked are shown up in their actual character, which character the Lord hates.

RIGHTEOUS RECOMPENSE (vv. 6-7)

The eventual end of the wicked is likened to the judgment that fell on Sodom and Gomorrah — "coals, fire and brimstone and a burning wind" (v. 6). The torment of literal fire is dreadful, but it symbolizes that which is worse, the torment of bearing the judgment of God for eternity. Is this cruel and unfair, as some men protest? No: it is because the Lord is righteous (v. 7) that He judges as He does. He loves righteousness and the light of His countenance rests complacently on the upright. Thus, the ungodly reap what they have sown, and the righteous reap what they have sown. Certainly, this is fair and just.

Psalm 12

WORDS OF PRIDE AND FALSEHOOD (vv. 1-4)

This psalm is again "to the Chief Musician," but on an eight-stringed harp," therefore to be sung in spite of its painful message. The psalmist cries out for the Lord to help because godly and faithful men have practically vanished from Israel (v. 1). How true this has been in the history of the Church also! For a time, there are those who stand with firm decision for the truth of the Word of God, but when they pass away, there seem to be none who follow in their steps. Rather, they are succeeded by those who can only use idle, useless words, words that may not in themselves be wicked, but empty of profit. Instead of giving faithfully the pure Word of God, they use flattery to bolster the pride of one another, speaking with a double heart, that is, not with single-heated honesty, not with simplicity, but with duplicity (v. 2). They know how to twist the truth to make it mean the opposite of what it says.

"May the Lord cut off all flattering lips and the tongue that speaks proud things" (v. 3). This will certainly be true in the end. People flatter others because they like to be flattered themselves, so that they bolster the pride of one another. Their tongues are able to manipulate the truth to please themselves, forgetting that the Lord has given men tongues in order that they may speak truth. Rather than recognizing God, however, they think their tongues are their own, to be used in the interests of falsehood, as though they can manufacture truth out of falsehood. This horrible doctrine is popular today, because people do not want any lord over them.

THE WORDS OF THE LORD (vv. 5-8)

Eventually, though it may seem long, the oppression of the poor and the sighing of the needy awakens a response on the part of the Lord: ""Now I will arise, says the Lord" (v. 5). He will set in safety those who have felt themselves in constant danger from the threatening words of the ungodly. The judgment of God by the word of His mouth will be sweeping and withering as the Great Tribulation comes to its close.

Yet meanwhile, "the words of the Lord are pure words" for those who simply bow to His will. Will we not be preserved by these? What a refuge for our souls when evil threatens from every side! For His word is "like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times." Of course, His word requires no purifying, but silver requires purifying seven times in order to be only a symbol of the word of God. Seven speaks of completeness, indicating that God's Word is completely pure. What a contrast to the contemptible words of boastful men! While men's words quickly perish, God's words are kept forever, preserved from all the attacks of the enemy, preserved from "this generation" of evildoers, so that the truth of God's words will abide for eternity (v. 6).

But for a very short time wicked doers "prowl on every side" because vile principles and practices are exalted among the sons of men. They dare to call evil good and good evil.

Psalm 13

SOLITARY DISTRESS (vv. 1-2)

We are not told what caused David to write this psalm that at this time found him so depressed; but it may have been while he was an exile hunted by Saul. While his faith was in the Lord, yet faith wavered in feeling the Lord had forgotten him, and the time seemed so long that he feared it might be lengthened forever (v. 1). Such experiences are indeed a trial of faith, and especially since there is no indication of failure or sin on David's part. Yet the believer today may be lifted high above his circumstances if he only takes to heart the truth of the word of the Lord Jesus, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee" (Heb. 13:5). If it seems He has left us, this word is sufficient to negate such a fear.

Yet the psalm is surely prophetic of the distress of the godly remnant of Israel in the Tribulation period. In fact, the same words, "How long, O Lord," are in the mouths of the martyrs under the altar in Revelation 6:10, though they will have been killed at that time. But here the psalmist asks, "How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily?" Though the time seems interminable, yet it is God's wisdom that delays the answer, not only because He is patient toward the ungodly, but because He knows how needful it is for His servants to have prolonged exercise of heart in order for faith to be both tested and strengthened.

POSITIVE PRAYER (vv. 3-4)

Though his distress has occupied him in verses 2 and 3, he rises sufficiently above this to pray in more positive confidence to the Lord his God, "Consider and hear me, O Lord my God" (v, 3). Thus, he does not give way to his despair, but looks up with confidence that God will enlighten his eyes, that is, give him discernment of the reason for his trial. May we too have confidence in God to give us discernment as regards whatever matters may test us.

The psalmist here is asking for God's intervention, to preserve him from sleeping the sleep of death, lest his enemy claims he has prevailed against him. Of course, the Lord would not allow the enemy to prevail, for it is God Himself who will always prevail. If David was moved in any way from the path of faith, then the enemy would rejoice, but it is God who preserves the child of God from being moved, and this will be beautifully proven when Israel passes through the Great Tribulation.

LIFTED UP IN PURE BLESSING (vv. 5-6)

The prayer of the psalmist has its answer in these concluding verses, as though it were a resurrection from among the dead. His trust in God's mercy lifts up his heart to rejoice in God's salvation (v. 5). Honest prayer will always have such results, and faith is accompanied by rejoicing.

Then the joy expresses itself in singing to the Lord (v. 6), because of His bountiful dealings. What a contrast are these two verses to the first two! The reason is clear, for verses 3 and 4 find him crying to God in simple, confiding prayer.

Psalm 14

EVIL AND FOLLY AFFECTING ALL HUMANITY (vv. 1-4)

In Psalm 13 the psalmist has found the Lord had dealt bountifully with him. But now he may look around him to consider the condition of men generally. What a sight it is! "The fool has said in his heart — no God" (v. 1). Even though he is a fool he does not really believe that there is no God, but tries to persuade himself of this foolish premise. His very actions show that he has no respect for God, and that he would rather banish God from his thoughts. This one fool here spoken of primarily refers to the coming antichrist, who will take the place of God in people's minds (2 Thess. 2:3-4). But he is not alone, for the word "they" follows, showing there are many others of the same character "they are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none who does good." Many 4111 object to this sweeping declaration, for they say that at least there are some things they do that are good. But what motives lead an unbeliever to do what he thinks is good? Actually, the fact of the difference between men is because of God's interposing by His grace to save souls. Otherwise, their motive will always be selfish, which is not good in the sight of God.

Thus, the Lord observes from heaven the character and activities of all the children of men. He discerns what men do not discern, for mankind generally are full of pride, no matter how debased they may be. Are there any who understand and seek God? None whatever, until God by grace works in their hearts. "They have all turned aside, they have together become corrupt" (v. 3). They influence one another, but not for good. God's estimate of people generally is that "there is none who does good, no not one." The only remedy must come from God.

GOD WITH THE RIGHTEOUS (vv. 4-7)

While man is thus totally defeated, God is not. The question is asked, "Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge, who eat up My people as they eat bread, and do not call on the Lord? (v. 4). When one is born again, he marvels at the ignorance of unbelievers, for the truth of God is clear and simple to a believing heart. Yet there are many who are proud of their unbelief and treat believers with contempt and scorn. In their ignorance, "they do not call on the Lord." But the believer may be in calm rest and confidence while unbelievers will be "in great fear," though too proud to admit their fearfulness (v. 5). Why are they in great fear? Because "God is with the generation of the righteous." The ungodly cannot understand the source of the believer's confidence, for the unseen God is with the righteous. In fact, is it not true that people's fear causes them to lash out at the poor who trust God, trying to shame them? "But the Lord is his refuge."

In verse 7 it is not fear that moves the psalmist, but a longing desire for the public intervention of the Lord in the affairs of men: "Oh that the mar salvation of Israel would come out of Zion!" It may be a question if David fully understood what he was asking for, but "the salvation of Israel" is the Lord Jesus Himself, as Luke 2:28-30 intimates. And Amos 3:16 is the answer to David's desire, "The Lord also will roar from Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem," and Zechariah 14:3 speaks similarly, "Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations." This will take place near the end of the Great Tribulation.

At this time the Lord will fully bring back the captivity of His people. Jacob will rejoice — Jacob the name of a faltering, undeserving people. And Israel will be glad, — Israel the name God has given in pure grace to that nation, — "a prince with God." What an answer to the fool's claim, — "no God"!

Psalm 15

THE QUESTION (v. 1)

With the opposition of unbelief completely set aside, now the question is asked, "Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? (v. 1). We have seen God with the generation of the righteous (Ps. 14:5), now it is the question of who is with God, abiding in His tabernacle, the blessed sanctuary of His presence; and in His holy hill, the position of dignity above the level of surrounding nations. This refers to the great blessing of millennial glory, the blessing belonging to all who are of the true Israel of God.

THE ANSWER (vv. 2-5)

Each of these qualifications is possible only for those who have been born again by the word and Spirit of God. How marvelous it will be when all Israel exhibits such characteristics! First, it is imperative that one walks uprightly and works righteousness, speaking the truth from his heart (v. 2). Thus, his walk, his works and his words are right. One is reminded of 2 Timothy 2:22, where an obedient vessel is instructed to first of all follow "righteousness."

The second qualification is that of the person's attitude toward others: he does not backbite, he does not do evil to his neighbor, nor take up a reproach against his friend, that is, he does not take the word of someone else in speaking against a friend. In his eyes a vile person is despised, that is, not hated, but treated as of no value, therefore avoided (v. 4). On the other hand, "he honors those who fear the Lord." he is known by the company he keeps. If he promises something that in the end will hurt him, he does not change his mind, but keeps his promise. Of course, this is only right and honorable.

If he lends money, he does not charge interest (v. 5). Exodus 22:25 explicitly warns Israelites against charging interest when lending money to the poor. Of course, it is only proper business to expect interest from a bank, as Luke 19:23 tells us, but if one is in need and requires monetary help, it is certainly cruelty to charge him interest. By faith a believer would be glad to lend without such a stipulation, and in fact may be glad to give without restrictions (2 Cor. 9:7), not expecting anything in - return.

"Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent." Ungodly judges have often been guilty of taking bribes from wealthy men to pervert the judgment of the innocent. The true believer refuses bribes intended to influence him in one way or another.

Such things as these are characteristic of those who have been born of God. One who has such character will never be moved. They will abide in God's tabernacle and in His holy hill. This will be true for the godly in Israel during the millennium, and in a higher way still for all believers of the present age, for they will enjoy the presence of the Lord for eternity in the place of highest exaltation.

Psalm 16

THE PERFECTLY OBEDIENT ONE GOD HIS RESOURCE (v. 1)

This is the first "Michtam" psalm, that is, a golden psalm, lustrous in referring directly to the Lord Jesus. For though David wrote it, the words are clearly inspired by God, for David could not have understood all the things in the psalm, as applying to him. The first verse might well apply to him, but not the second and third, nor the tenth, which is shown in Acts 2:27 to apply directly to the Lord Jesus. In fact, Peter applied this whole section (Psalm 16:8-11) to the Messiah.

The Lord Jesus is not seen as God in this first verse, but as the totally dependent Man, calling upon God to preserve Him, for in His lowly path of service on earth he did not at all make use of His divine power for His own protection or welfare. He rather depended on His God and Father for everything. He did use His power for the blessing of others, as in the case of His raising Lazarus from death, but even from the danger of His dashing His foot against a stone, He was preserved by angels (Ps. 91:12), not by His divine power. He was indeed the leader of faith, One who trusted God implicitly for everything, and thus a perfect example for believers. He made no show of His great power when taken to a cliff to be thrown down, but in lowly faith walked through the midst of the crowd, preserved by God (Luke 4:28-30).

TAKING THE LOWLY PLACE FOR HIS SAINTS (vv. 2-3)

"I have said unto Jehovah, "Thou art My Lord." He took the place of fullest subjection to the authority of God. Believers also know the Father as Lord and they know the Son as Lord, yet how faulty is our subjection to His authority! His subjection was perfect. This too helps to explain the latter part of verse 2, "My goodness extends not to You." For God was not the Object of His goodness in His humanity. God was the Object of His obedience and His goodness went out to others.

The goodness of the Lord Jesus was in His humbling Himself for the sake of the blessing of "the saints who are in the earth, the excellent in whom is all my delight" (v. 3). This great humility of the Lord Jesus is marvelous. Not only does He call believers "saints," but "the excellent," so that He can fully identify Himself with them. Certainly, they are not saints and excellent through natural birth, but this is what He had made them in His work of new birth in their souls. The Father has expressed Himself in having great delight in His beloved Son (Matt. 3:17), but to have the Son express His delight in believers is wonderful indeed.

THE LORD HIS PORTION IN CONTRAST TO OTHERS (vv. 4-6)

In contrast to the excellent, there are those who "hasten after another god." Not knowing the true God, they will find their sorrows multiplied (v. 4). As to these the Lord Jesus totally refuses "their drink offerings of blood." The drink offerings of wine in Leviticus 23:18 speak of the joy the offerer has in the burnt offering, but drink offerings of blood indicate the cruelty of idolatrous worship in carelessly shedding blood and attaching a religious significance to this in order to justify their evil. The Lord Jesus would not even take on His lips the names of such idolaters. Thus verse 4 is negative, showing the Lord's refusal of idolatry.

Verses 5 and 6 are beautifully positive, however. The Lord was both the measure of Christ's inheritance and of His cup (Numerical Bible). Believers can rightly say that the Lord is the measure of their inheritance, but only the Lord Jesus could say that the Lord was the measure of His cup. For the inheritance is what is given from God, while the cup speaks of how much we enjoy of that inheritance. Christ alone enjoyed God in perfection. Our cup of enjoyment is sadly lacking comparatively.

"The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance" (v. 6). The Lord is here speaking of the pleasantness of His being identified with the excellent of the earth, for the saints are a vital part of His inheritance (John 17:6), How marvelous it is that we are of such value to Him!

THE EXPERIENCE OF FAITH (vv. 7-8)

All the path of the Lord Jesus on earth was ordered by the counsel of Jehovah (v. 7), in answering faith. Surely, we are reminded here of Isaiah 50:4-5: "The Lord God has given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He wakens me morning by morning. He awakens me to hear as the learned. The Lord God has opened my ear; and I was not rebellious, nor did I turn away." Thus, the eyes of the Lord were ever turned upward to God to depend fully upon His counsel and leading.

Yet He adds this, "My reins also instruct me in the night seasons." The meaning of the reins is "the kidneys,' which are typical of the guiding influences in our inward parts. For the kidneys filter the blood to strain out any impurities from the system. Not only did the Lord Jesus depend entirely on His God and Father for counsel and direction, but the inward motives of His heart were always right and therefore dependable. This should be true of Christians also, but alas, how feebly so in the most godly!

The same may be said of verse 8. Only the Lord Jesus could say, "I have set the Lord always before me." Though we may honestly set Him before our eyes, yet too frequently our eyes turn away and we slip into disobedience; but His one Object was the glory of God, from which He never swerved in the least degree. Recognizing God as at His right hand, he would not be moved, never shaken, never undecided. A believer might say, "I shall not be greatly moved" (Ps. 62:2), but how little it takes sometimes to move us from the path of simple faith.

THE WAY AND THE END (vv. 9-11)

"Therefore, my heart is glad and my glory rejoices." His confidence being fully in God, He has reason to rejoice. Not a thing is said about His sorrows here, though the fact of His death is evident in what follows: "My flesh also shall rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will allow Your holy One to see corruption" (vv. 9-10). Peter quotes this as referring directly to the Lord Jesus (Acts 2:25-28)

At death the soul and spirit Of the Lord Jesus left His body and were in the presence of the Father, though in Sheol (or Hades—the Greek equivalent). Sheol is not a place, but the condition of the soul and spirit in being separated from the body, just as death is not a place, but the condition of the body as being separated from the soul and spirit. Thus, the soul and spirit of the Lord Jesus, though in Sheol for three days, were not left there, but in resurrection were reunited with His body Speaking of the body of the Lord Jesus then it is said, "Nor will you allow your Holy one to see corruption." Death brings corruption to others, but not to Him. "The path of life" has led Him into fullness of joy in the presence of God, now at God's right hand enjoying pleasures forevermore (v. 11). Precious Lord!

Psalm 17

THE APPEAL OF THE SINLESS ONE (vv. 1-5)

This psalm is said to be "a prayer of David," but it cannot be true of David personally, but only of the Son of David, the Lord Jesus, so that here the King is the great Representative of His people. As such His prayer will be fully answered, for it is based upon the perfection of His own character. His cause is perfectly just (v.1), and His prayer comes not from deceitful lips, as too often may be the case with others, but from the lips always speaking truth. Will He be vindicated? Absolutely: and not merely by men, but from the presence of God (v. 2). He pleads too, "Let Your eyes look on the things that are upright," that is, of course, to look with full approval, as we know that God always does, while always refusing the things that are evil. In this prayer therefore there is perfect confidence that God will answer just as in the very way He is asked. God often answers our prayers differently than we prefer, but His prayers were in every detail perfectly in accord with the will of God.

God had tested His heart (v. 3) in His entire life on earth. Not that God needed the test to prove the perfection of His Son, but it was a test carried out for our sakes, to prove to us who the Lord Jesus is, the One totally free from sin. God visited Him "in the night," the time of greatest vulnerability, but God found Him not in the least vulnerable, finding nothing even of a questionable nature. For He had purposed that His mouth would not transgress. For words are a striking index of what the heart is. "If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body" (James 3:2). This was absolutely true only of the Lord Jesus.

In His connection with "the works of men" (v. 4), surrounded by every form of evil work, He was not in the least influenced by them, because it was His constant habit to live by the word of God's lips, as Isaiah 50:4-5 assures us. Thus, He was kept from the paths of the destroyer. When Satan tempted Him, He had not the slightest inclination to submit to such temptation, but in each case answered Satan with the word of God (Matt. 4:1-10). But together with this purpose of dependence on the word of God is his expression of dependence in His prayer, "Uphold my steps in Your paths, that my footsteps may not slip." Would His footsteps slip? Absolutely not! But His prayer is an example for us, for our footsteps are in danger of slipping.

FOR DELIVERANCE FROM THE ENEMY (vv. 6-12)

We have seen in the first five verses that in Christ the enemy had nothing to work on, as the Lord Jesus says in John 14:30, "the ruler of this world is coming, and has nothing in Me." But Satan was the great persecutor who would seek every means he could to thwart the testimony of the Lord. For this also the Lord Jesus depended on the faithfulness of God. "I have called upon You, for You will hear me, O God" (v. 6). He had not the slightest doubt as to God's hearing Him; yet in lowly dependence He pleads, "Incline Your ear to me, and hear my speech." Again, this is a precious example for us. We ought to have the same full confidence in the living God.

"Show Your marvelous lovingkindness by Your right hand, O You who save those who trust in You" (v. 7). He does not only consider Himself in this confidence of faith, but all who put their trust in God. They too will experience God's lovingkindness, in the measure in which they trust Him. Of course, the measure of the Lord Jesus was perfect in its fullness, which is far above ours. But the salvation here is said to be "from those who rise up against them." Satan has many cohorts who seek the harm of believers, so that the Lord Jesus considers all His own in desiring their deliverance too from the power of the enemy.

"Keep me as the apple of Your eye" (v. 8). The sensitivity of the pupil of the eye symbolizes the reality of God's sensitivity to anything that touches his beloved Son, for "the Father loves the Son" (John 5:20). In fact, this is true of all believers as is indicated in the Lord's words to Israel, "he who touches you touches the apple of His eye" (Zech. 2:8).

"Hide me under the shadow of Your wings, from the wicked who oppress me, from my deadly enemies who surround me." How wonderfully true this was in the Lord's history on earth! Nothing in His surroundings was a protection for Him: His protection came from God, whose wings overshadowed Him continually. Peter wanted to protect Him from the soldiers of the Pharisees by using his sword. But the Lord Jesus refused such protection, saying, "Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My father has given Me?" (John 18:11). Even when He was taken to be crucified, He was still under the shadow of the Father's wings, and His deadly enemies could do nothing but what God permitted in His sovereign wisdom.

"They have closed up their fat hearts; with their mouths they speak proudly" (v. 10). The fat speaks of their insulating their hearts against any proper human feeling; and the words of their mouths only express the pride that emphasizes their self-importance. Thus, what issues from their mouths expresses the wickedness of their hardened hearts.

Though in verses 8 and 9 the Lord is speaking personally, using the pronoun "me", in verse 11 He again speaks of "us" as being surrounded by enemies. This was true when the Lord was on earth, for His disciples were those who continued with Him in His afflictions, and it will be true in the tribulation period, when the godly remnant of Israel will suffer, and He, though in glory, will stiffer with them, as is seen also in Isaiah 63:9, "In all their afflictions He was afflicted." In fact, this truth is witnessed in Acts 9:4 when the Lord Jesus, speaking from heaven asked, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" For the Lord felt the persecution of His saints as being done to Him.

The Numerical Bible renders the end of verse 11, "They fix their eyes to bow I us I to the earth." speaking of the determination of the enemy to intimidate the saints of God. This is emphasized in verse 12, "As a lion eager to tear his prey, and like a young lion lurking in secret places." But all this power of the enemy was defeated by the Lord Jesus as easily as He defeated the lions in the case of Samson, David and Daniel. Whether the lion was bold in his attack or subtle in lurking secretly to attack when least expected, the Lord was always in perfect control.

JUDGMENT FOR ONE: BLESSING FOR THE OTHER (vv. 13-15)

These verses look on to the eventual result for both the ungodly and the godly. "Arise, O Lord"(v. 3), and again there will be the full Imo response to this prayer from perfectly holy lips. For the Lord will arise, to shake terribly the earth, confronting and casting down the wicked. By this solemn judgment He will deliver His true Servant from the wicked, who are God's sword (See J.N.D's trans.), for God uses even the wicked to accomplish His ends, allowing them to persecute believers for a wise reason. They think they are having their own way, but they are merely tools in God's sovereign hand.

Similarly, verse 14 is rightly translated, "From men [who are] thy hand, O Jehovah." The sword is a weapon that hurts, but the hand of God has blessing in it, however it may appear otherwise. But such men who are God's hand, have their portion only in this life: the future is banished from their thoughts, while for the time being God allows them to fill their greedy bellies with present "treasure," such as the rich man of Luke 12:16-19, who told himself, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry." He did not consider what God 111 might have to say to him, "Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?" (v. 20).

In the same way these men who live for the present find themselves deprived of all they had confidence in, leaving it all to their children. But beyond death, what of their souls? This matter is not dwelt upon here, as it is in the case of the rich man of Luke 16:22-23, of whom we read, he "died and was buried, and being in torments in hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off." He was reminded then that he had good things in his lifetime: he had lived for these things and left God out of his thoughts. At death the tables were turned, and torment was not only temporary, but eternal.

But verse 15 is a marvelous contrast, "As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness." Above all, this is true of Christ when awakening from death, the dreadful death of the cross. His many sorrows have given way to the eternal joy of being in the Father's presence, seeing His face in righteousness, for God in perfect righteousness has raised Him from among the dead. Righteousness has triumphed over the bitter enmity of Satan and men in their unrighteous pride. The One who was on earth deprived of the satisfaction of being rightly honored by men, is now satisfied in having awaked in resurrection and manifested as in the likeness of God. This is true of Him preeminently, for He is God, but it will be true of all believers also in a lesser respect, when they are caught up to be with the Lord. "We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (1 John 3:2). What an awesome difference between the end of the unbeliever and that of the believer!

Let us notice that true satisfaction is not found in any way in present circumstances. We shall only be satisfied when we see the Lord Himself, awaking in His likeness. In the meanwhile, it is good if we learn, as Paul did, to be content with whatever circumstances the Lord has given us on earth. Paul wrote, "I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content" (Phil. 4:11). To be content is a learning process, which none of us can do without, but satisfaction is not learned through trying circumstances, but will be furnished to us absolutely and perfectly only by being in the presence of the Lord and being like Him. Wonderful anticipation!

Psalm 18

This psalm now dwells upon the manifestation of God in His approval of the Lord Jesus, It is written in the words of the Lord Jesus and inscribed to "The Chief Musician," who is Himself. David spoke these words to the Lord when he had been delivered from both his outside enemies and from Saul. But the words are far more applicable as being those of the Lord Jesus than as those of David. David is clearly a type of Christ.

GOD THE ROCK OF HIS STRENGTH (vv. 1-3)

This first section reminds us of Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning. God." Here is the Source and the Basis of all blessing, and the dependent heart exclaims involuntarily, "I love You, O Lord, my strength" (v. 1). There is barely a mention of dependent prayer in this chapter, but rather it emphasizes the full answer of God to the prayer of Psalm 17. The Psalmist is delighting in the One who accomplishes all things for him. God is His "Rock," the solid foundation of all blessing; His fortress," His unfailing protection from every evil; His deliverer, He who saves Him from every surrounding enemy; "my strength," the Source of the power that rested upon Him continually; "my shield," His personal defense from every attack of the enemy; "the horn of my salvation," speaking Hof power in saving from harm and danger; and finally "my stronghold," another symbol of His perfect protection. Thus, all of these emphasize the greatness and power of God on behalf of the Lord Jesus. In some small measure David could speak thus as to himself, and believers may do the same.

Verse 3 is more correctly translated, "Upon Jehovah do I call, and from my enemies I am saved" (Numerical Bible). Thus, as we have observed, the psalm contemplates God's work rather than an appeal to God, as was seen in Psalm 17.

IN VIEW OF DEATH (vv. 4-6)

These verses can be true in full measure only of the Lord Jesus. He speaks from the viewpoint of His experience of suffering now passed. The pangs of death and the floods of ungodliness pressed upon Him as on no other, for these floods involved the inundating horror of the guilt of all mankind when this blessed Sufferer "bore our sins in His own body on the tree" (v. 4) "The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me, the snares of death confronted me" (v, 5), Sheol is the unseen state of the soul and spirit as separated from the body. But while it meant deep sorrow, it was not permanent, "For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption' (Ps. 16:10).

Verse 6 looks back to record His distressed call to God which brought a clear response. God heard Him from His temple, His dwelling place. Hebrews 5:7 tells us that "in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from (out of) death," He "was heard because of His godly fear," This psalm also looks at the whole experience as having already been accomplished, with God's answer fully revealed. This is often the case with prophecy.

GOD INTERVENING (vv. 7-18)

"Then the earth shook and trembled" (v. 7). At the very time of the death of the Lord Jesus there was an earthquake (Matt. 27:51) which spoke deeply to the heart of the centurion and no doubt to many others, At His resurrection on the first day of the week, there was another "great earthquake" (Matt. 28:2). How could anyone dare to think that God was not speaking to Israel? Man had done all he could in persecuting and killing the Lord Jesus: now God in His sovereign power intervenes to show man how impotent he really is. The foundation of the hills quaked and were shaken because God was angry. Certainly, His anger smoked greatly against those who had killed His Son, but though He expressed this at the time, He did not bring upon them the judgment they deserved, but has waited in patience for men to be brought to repentance.

These verses remind us of the way God intervened for Israel when coming out of Egypt, and also of the way He will yet intervene in the judgment of the world eventually, but they have a direct bearing on His intervention following the death of the Lord Jesus, and His raising Him from among the dead. "Smoke went up from His nostrils, and devouring fire from His mouth; coals were kindled by it" (v. 8). This is the fire of God's holiness, expressed by His word, as indeed that word was proclaimed diligently by His disciples after His resurrection. "He bowed the heavens also, and came down" in great compassion and power, though His presence was in some real measure veiled, so that unbelievers did not discern it, Verse 10 is figurative. Cherubim are connected with the government of God, swift in its execution as indicated in "the wings of the wind." The inscrutability of His dealings is emphasized by darkness being made His secret place, with His canopy of dark waters and thick clouds.

In spite of the darkness being made His secret place, there was "brightness before Him," that is, that anyone should discern by clear evidence that God was working in the thick clouds, with hailstones and coals of fire (v. 12). When hailstones do dreadful damage and volcanic eruptions spread terror among men, then men at least speak of such things as "acts of God," though sadly they fail to respond to God in faith, but rather in bitter resentment.

"The Lord thundered from heaven, and the Most High uttered His voice" (v, 13). Such a voice is certainly heard, though He Himself is not seen. The thunder is often accompanied by hailstones and lightning, clear evidence also of the greatness and majesty of God. Men may lift up their voices in protest to His sovereign actions, but "who can thunder with a voice like His?" In the final analysis, His voice will totally subdue the combined voices of all mankind.

"He sent out His arrows and scattered the foe, lightnings in abundance, and He vanquished them (v, 14). He did not need His sword for this, for His arrows, speaking of long-range warfare, were able to strike their mark without error, just as Ahab was killed by an arrow shot at random, but directed by the hand of God (1 Ki. 22:34).

"Then the channels of the sea were seen" (v. 15). The sea is symbolical of the nations, so that their workings will be fully exposed in the day of God's judgment, just as will be the foundations of the world, shaken in such a way as to provide no foundation at all, for God will rebuke them with merely the blast of the breath of His nostrils. Man would not be able in the least to use his breath as a weapon, but God can use the most unlikely means of accomplishing the greatest judgment of the wicked. We have been told of an atheist who boldly challenged God (if there is a God) to meet him in conflict in certain wooded area. He went there and returned to boast that if there is a God He was afraid to meet the challenge of the atheist. But in the woods a tiny insect had lit on him, and being poisoned, he died in great pain a few days later. Thus, he found in experience that "God is not mocked."

How complete was the judgment of the enemies of the Lord Jesus when God "sent from above, He took me; He drew me out of many waters" (v. 16). This was in resurrection. He had endured the agony of the "many waters" of being judged for our sins, now God intervenes to change the sorrow into unspeakable joy. The enemy thought he had triumphed over Christ, but his short-lived triumph was turned into humiliating defeat. God delivered Him from His strong enemy, the enemy being outwardly too strong for Him, for "He was crucified in weakness" (2 Cor. 13:4). "They confronted me in the day of my calamity" (v. 18). At the very time He was offering Himself to God in sacrifice, His enemies took advantage of the occasion to heap abuse on Him. "But the Lord was my support." His own disciples forsook Him, and only God was His resource.

APPROVED BY GOD (vv. 19-27)

"He also brought me out into a broad place" (v. 19) In resurrection the Lord Jesus is now far from constricted, but in the place of greatest liberty, having been delivered by God because of His pure delight in His Son. Believers too are delivered, not because God delights in them personally, but because of His delight in His Son, who represents them in His pure grace. We can certainly not say what He says in verse 20, "The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands." God has rewarded Him in resurrection because of the perfection of his character and His work. Indeed, only this perfection could qualify Him for being the one sacrifice for our sins.

God has recompensed Him because He has kept the ways of the Lord and has not wickedly departed from His God in the least way. For all God's judgments were before Him as His constant meditation, and not one of His statutes was ignored by this blessed Man of God. Verse 23 may be properly translated, "I was also perfect with Him, and kept myself from perverseness being mine" (Numerical Bible). Certainly, perverseness was all around Him, but He was not influenced by this evil enemy. He stood out rather as the only One who would stand for simple truth in every detail of His way. Verse 24 practically repeats verse 20, to emphasize its truth for our sake, for we could not assert this as to ourselves. He alone could be recompensed because of His righteousness, because of the cleanness of His hands in the sight of God.

Verses 25 and 26: God will deal with men according to their own character, whether it may be for good or evil. For He will save the humble people and bring down the haughty looks of men. These verses speak of men generally: those who take the place of true humility will be saved, while the haughtiness of others will bring them down to humiliation.

THE JUDGMENT OF THE NATIONS (vv. 28-42)

We have seen the Lord Jesus rewarded now in resurrection; and though the time is long, He will soon take His place as Judge of the nations. "For You will light my lamp; the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness" (v. 28). Thus, in contrast to the deep darkness of His sufferings on the cross, God would bring about pure light by which the Lord Jesus will judge in righteousness and truth. By the power of God he will run against a troop and leap over a wall (v. 29). The power of the enemy, though a troop in large number, cannot resist Him, and obstacles such as the walls of Jericho will be no hindrance to Him.

However, men may criticize God for His delay in judgment or for the way in which He judges, yet, "As for God, His way is perfect" (v. 30). Man's way is always crooked and perverse, a great contrast to the way of a sovereign and all-wise God. Vitally connected with His way is "the word of the Lord," proven through all the ages as stable, solid, dependable in every way. And, when His judgment is about to fall, how wonderful is the comfort of His word, "He is a shield to all who trust in Him." Thus, His judgment is not against believers, but on behalf of believers.

"For who is God, except the Lord (Jehovah)? And who is a rock, except our God?" Men may choose gods of their own today, but when judgment falls they will be faced with the solemn fact, "There is one God," the God who has been made "manifest in flesh," the God to whom they find themselves responsible, the one solid Rock of ages who remains when all else fails.

As previously too in the psalm, the Lord Jesus speaks as the perfectly dependent Man in saying, "It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect" (v. 32). Just as God's way is perfect (v. 30), so He makes the way of the Lord Jesus, as Man, perfect. Just as the deer surmounts the obstacles of hills and rock by the amazing agility of its feet, so the Lord Jesus is set on high places, above the level of the world, and in the power of an endless life is taught by God to make war and easily bend a metal bow that might be used against Him (vv. 33-34).

Also, God has given him the shield of His salvation, that is, the protection of His saving power; and He is held up by the right hand of God (v. 35). This surely tells us that everything is dependent on the infinite power of God. If Christ as Man was dependent on Him, how much more so are sinful creatures such as ourselves! But this is followed by an amazing statement, "Your gentleness has made me great." Certainly, it was the gentleness of God to give His Son to come into the world, and it was His gentleness that acted in great power in raising Christ from the dead. Now because of God's gentleness, Christ is exalted at God's right hand, and will judge the world in pure righteousness.

It was impossible for His feet to slip with such a God laying out the path before Him (v. 36), because every step of His feet was in perfect obedience to God. In all of these things Christ is seen as the only One worthy of being entrusted with the judgment of the world.

Thus, from verse 37 to 44 He is seen in actually judging for God: it is prophetic; the past tense being used as though the judgment was already accomplished. Can there therefore be the least doubt that it will take place just as God foretells it? "I have pursued my enemies and overtaken them; neither did I turn back till they were destroyed" (v. 37). Of course, this contemplates the latter part of the Great Tribulation. "I have wounded them, so that they could not rise; they have fallen under my feet" (v. 38). Thus the Lord Jesus accomplishes the victory fully, yet He credits God with having armed Him with strength for the battle (v. 39) and with subduing under Him all who oppressed Him. Necks that had stiffened themselves in stubborn rebellion had been given by God to the Lord Jesus, who destroyed such enemies (v. 40). They cried out„ but to whom? Men who never pray may pray when terrible trouble comes, and "even to the Lord" whom they have habitually hated, but their cry is not one of repentance, and how could they expect their hated adversary to answer them? (v. 41).

"Then I beat them as fine as dust before the wind: I cast them out like dirt in the streets" (v. 42). How complete, how withering will be the judgment of the ungodly in that day when God arises to shake terribly the earth. This is not the Great White Throne judgment, but the earlier judgment of the nations, before the millennium. Details of this are found in many scriptures, both in the Old and New Testaments. On the other hand, the Old Testament does not reveal to us the judgment of the Great White Throne, as the New Testament does. In contrast also, the judgment of the nations, spoken of here, is not that of individuals, as is the Great White Throne, but of nations as such, though certainly individuals in the nations will share in the horror of the judgment.

RULING WITH A ROD OF IRON (vv. 43-35)

Having accomplished God's judgment, the Lord Jesus is seen as being delivered by God from the strivings of the people and made Head of the nations, a universal rule. None of the nations will be exempted from His authority (v. 43). Those at a distance from Israel, and in this respect foreigners, will hear of His glory and come to submit to Him, for while they have sought to be neutral and avoided publicity, they will find that neutrality is impossible (vv. 44-45). It will be very clearly established that if they are not for Christ, they are against Him, for God gives Him the place as the only Ruler of the nations. All will then be brought to the light of His rising, no longer able to practice evil in seclusion. It appears that these are not born again, but are driven by fear to submit to the Lord Jesus, and so long as there is no apparent rebellion they will be allowed to remain as subjects in the kingdom, just as there are those in the present day outwardly believers and therefore in the kingdom of heaven, yet not born again.

PRAISES FOR THIS GREAT DELIVERANCE (vv. 46-50)

How appropriately The psalm closes with praise to God, for such praises will continue through the millennial age in such contrast to the foolish nonsense that issues now from men's lips to the effect that God is dead! "The Lord lives" will be the vibrant, triumphant cry of the people (v. 46). "Blessed be my Rock! Let the God of my salvation be exalted." Thus, Christ brings back to God the honor of which men have sought to strip Him. Christ is the living witness to the greatness and authority of the living God. Well may the Lord Jesus announce, "Let the God of my salvation be exalted," as will be fully true in the millennium. For it will be manifest then that it is God who avenges the Lord Jesus and subdues the nations under Him (v. 47). All those who rise against Him will find Him exalted high above them; and from "the violent man," the antichrist, He will be delivered, and will totally overthrow him (v. 48).

"Therefore I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the Gentiles (the nations), and sing praises to Your name" (v. 49). This is true now "in the midst of the assembly" of the saints (Ps. 22:22), but in the millennium it will be true among the nations.

While it is true that the Lord Jesus is the One whom God has entrusted with the great work of bringing the nations into subjection to Him, it is also true that God has given "great deliverance" to the King, enabling Him to accomplish a complete victory over His enemies. This is seen as mercy to God's Anointed, "to David and his descendants forevermore" (v. 50), for believers (called descendants) are blessed with the same blessing that is His for eternity. In all of this the reality of the Manhood of Christ is greatly emphasized. This does not in the least depreciate His deity, rather it serves all the more to make us marvel at the fact of One taking so lowly a place, yet in whom all the glory of God dwells.

Psalm 19

THE VOICE OF CREATION (vv. 1-6)

A new series of psalms is appropriately introduced in this psalm, going back to creation and its message for mankind. If people will not hear it, they are indeed "dull of hearing" as well as blinded by their own sin. On a clear night the vast array of stars presents a clear witness to the power and wisdom of a sovereign Creator. How are all the stars and planets maintained in their proper orbits if there is no God to order and direct them? Sir Isaac Newton had a capable man make a moving replica only of our solar system, so that when a crank was turned the planets, sun and moon moved in their correct orbits, of course all connected by machinery. He had a scientific friend who was an atheist, and this friend came in one day and was fascinated by this machine. He turned the crank to observe its amazing results. He immediately asked, "Who made this?" Mr. Newton replied, "Nobody." His friend was angry at such a reply, and demanded, "Of course somebody made it and I'd like to know who it is." So, Mr. Newton told him, "Yes, someone made it, but it is only a small and imperfect replica of a far greater system of sun, moon and planets, and you tell me that nobody made the great original, but that somebody made the replica!" This had a profound effect on his friend, which we may hope resulted in his conversion.

But though God is not seen, His work clearly declares His glory. As to the astronomical heavens, the solar system and all the constellations of stars, we are told they extend for millions of light years, wonder of there is any end to them. Light is said to travel at 186,000 miles per second, so a light year is the time that light takes to travel in one year at that great speed! Such distance is so staggering that it is hopeless to try understand how many miles is involved. But there has to be a capable mind in control of all this, a mind therefore that is infinitely higher than human thought can comprehend.

Every day and night the voice of creation speaks in unmistakable language (v. 2), so that if one refuses such clear witness, he is willfully ignorant: he has no excuse. In darkest heathendom their voice is heard, as is intimated in Romans 1:19-20, where creation is seen as a clear testimony, a testimony that people realize condemns the sin in which they indulge themselves, "so that they are without excuse." Thus, there is no place in the world that lacks a testimony from God (v. 4).

The sun arising is a marvelous witness. Because in past ages people did not know of the rotation of the earth, some thought it was a different sun arising every morning! But the wonder of it should impress all mankind deeply indeed. The sun is here likened to a bridegroom coming out of his chamber "and rejoices as a strong man to run a race" (v. 5). How greatly we are indebted to the warmth and light of the sun! For this reason, foolish people have become sun worshipers, giving no credit to the great Creator and Sustainer of the sun.

But the sun is clearly created to symbolize the Lord Jesus, as Malachi 4:2 implies, "To you who fear my name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings." The time of this arising will be the beginning of the millennium, which will be a day of wondrous blessing for the world, as is pictured in verse 6 of our chapter. The sun is a wonderful friend, but it can be a withering enemy in a dry land without water or shade Thus the Lord Jesus is a wonderful friend, but if one decides to be His enemy, he will expose himself to the results of this folly. How much more wise for one to take to heart the lessons that God's creation clearly teach!

THE TESTIMONY OF GOD'S WORD (vv. 7-11)

"The law of the Lord" in verse 7 is not confined to the ten commandments, but embraces all that God has revealed in His word as a perfect ruling principle. When it is received as such by any individual, this is conversion, for by nature we are not subject to God, but sinners in a state of self-will. The word of God has power in it to bring about conversion, a total change. Yet when one is converted, he does not stop there. By continuing in hearing the testimony of the Lord, he finds that testimony to be "sure," and basing his thoughts on the absolute certainty of scripture, he may be absolutely sure of his eternal salvation: he is given wisdom far above "the wisdom of this world," though by nature "simple," that is, lacking in wisdom.

More than this, "the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart" (v. 8). Where else could we find instruction that had in it no possibility of mistake? A little experience with the word of God surely convinces us that here we have absolutely pure truth, every detail perfectly right. This fact expands the heart with pure joy, and of course is vitally connected with the following phrase, "The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes." It is free from the least mixture, for it comes from God, and by this the eyes are enlightened: we see more clearly than we possibly could without it.

"The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever" (v. 9). While the first four references to scripture are objective, this one is subjective, "the fear of the Lord," for it has to do with the actual reception in our hearts of the truth of God. It produces a healthy reverential fear of God, which is clean in its character and results, and the results endure forever. Wonderful assurance! Then "the judgments of the Lord" are connected with this, judgments that apply to specific circumstances, with decisions that appeal to those who have the fear of the Lord, as being "true and righteous altogether."

Thus, our proper response is emphasized strongly in verses 10 and 11. The Lord's judgments are "more to be desired than gold," in fact "than much fine gold." Sober wisdom recognizes this great value, apart from our feelings. But it is added, "Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb." that is, they appeal to our taste, which is, in essence, to our souls, as well as to our intelligence. Honey is symbolical of the ministry of the word of God, which is sweet, but not as sweet as the word itself. What others may give from scripture cannot be depended on the same as what scripture itself says.

The value of the word is further seen in verse 11, for it warns the servant of the Lord, so that he may be preserved from danger. Where else could we find so effective a guard against spiritual danger? While the warning is against what is dangerous, the same verse assures us of the positive results that they may achieve in the heart: "in keeping of them there is great reward." This is a clear fact here and now, and in the future will be proven marvelously true for those who keep them. Thus, the Lord gives us wonderful testimony that should deeply affect every heart, first the testimony of His creation, then the testimony of His word.

THE RESPONSE TO GOD'S TESTIMONY (vv. 12-14)

In view of the perfection of God's creation and the perfection of His word, we can well understand the question, "Who can understand his errors?"(v. 12). If we ask a child why he did something wrong, he is not able to answer such a question, for he does not understand his errors; and adults are no different. We do not understand the significance of our mistakes. But we have secret faults also which we do not like to have exposed, but the day will come when "God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ" (Rom. 2:16). How much better now for us to judge them and echo the language of David, "Cleanse me from secret faults."

But much worse than this are "presumptuous sins" (v. 13), for they involve the deliberate willful indulging in what we know is wrong, and when once we launch out in such a course, it is not long before such sins take control of us. May the Lord indeed preserve us from this dreadful danger. It is not usually sins of ignorance that cause us the greatest trouble, but sins we know are sins, yet we give way to them. The Lord knew we needed His preserving mercy for this, when He gave His disciples the prayer of Matthew 6:3, "And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil."

When God answers the prayer of verses 12 and 13, then David may say, "Then I shall be blameless, and I shall be innocent of great transgression." Does not every believer desire this to be true of him? This is the negative side, while verse 14 gives what is beautifully positive, — "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord my strength and my Redeemer." David knew that these two are closely related, for the words will not be right if the meditation of the heart is not. "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matt. 12:34). Yet even when the heart may be generally employed in appreciation of the Lord, we are so treacherous that we may allow unwise words to slip from our mouths. Well might we take to heart the earnest prayer, "Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my mouth" (Ps. 141:3).

Thus, David speaks first of the words of his mouth, and secondly of the meditation of his heart, though we may think that the latter should come first. However, if we make a habit of watching our words, this will encourage a sweeter meditation of our hearts. For this too we need the strength of the Lord, our Redeemer from all that is contrary to good words and meditation.

Psalm 20

GOD FOR CHRIST (vv. 1-3)

This psalm is preeminently true of Christ, and written from a Jewish viewpoint. The Numerical Bible translates these beginning verses, not "May the Lord," but "the Lord shall, "or "He shall." Why is this? because the psalmist is speaking of Christ, whom the Lord would certainly answer in the day of trouble (v. 1), this being fulfilled when He raised Christ from the dead. "The Lord shall answer you in the day of trouble." This is a contrast to His being forsaken in the three hours of darkness when He was on the cross, for there God was "far from helping" Him (Ps. 22:1). But after redemption was accomplished, God answered Him by raising Him from the grave. "The God of Jacob" defended Him, sending help from His heavenly sanctuary (v. 2), and strengthening Him 'out of Zion," that is, God's chosen city, meaning "sunny," for it contemplates Jerusalem particularly as redeemed from all adversity.

"He will remember all your offerings and accept your burnt sacrifice. Selah." What were Christ's offerings? He was the fulfillment of the burnt offering, the meal offering, the peace offering, the sin offering and the trespass offering. All these were involved in His one great sacrifice of Calvary. Specially mentioned here however is "your burnt sacrifice," for this is the aspect of His offering as being devoted entirely to God. God has proven His acceptance of this by raising the Lord Jesus from death.

HIS DELIVERANCE AND THAT OF HIS PEOPLE (vv. 4-6)

God has indeed granted the Lord Jesus according to His heart's desire, fulfilling all His purpose (v. 4). His heart's desire beautifully involves His people too, so that verse 5 says, "We will rejoice in your salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners." This uniting of the Lord with His saints is seen in many psalms, and is surely intended to move our hearts in thanksgiving. The Old Testament does not of course reveal all the blessings that result from the great sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, many of which are personal. Here the psalmist speaks of corporate blessings for Israel, though not even all these are recorded here. Still the godly in Israel will in the millennium set up their banners in the name of their God. The "we" mentioned here then give voice to their conviction that the Lord would fulfill all the petitions of the Lord Jesus. Indeed, they also will share in the answer to His petitions.

We have seen the psalmist's confidence that the Lord will fulfill all the petitions of the Lord Jesus. Now he adds the conviction that "Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed; He will answer Him from His holy heaven with the saving strength of his right hand" (v. 6). God has indeed answered Him from heaven in a far greater way than David contemplated in this verse, for God has received Him up in the heavens to sit at His right hand, and Israel will eventually have the joy of worshiping the One God has exalted as they have never before worshiped Him.

ISRAEL GIVING GOD HIS PLACE (vv. 7-9)

Though in the past Israel had put their trust in chariots and horses, they found themselves totally defeated. Finally, though only after great tribulation, they will remember the name of the Lord their God (v. 7). What a change that will be! Then their enemies, who have trusted in the armaments of war, will find themselves broken down, falling to the ground, while Israel will have risen to stand upright. This is figurative resurrection, — "life from the dead" (Rom. 11:15). Calling then only upon God, "Save, Lord," there will be no question as to the answer, not only from God, but from the King. His petitions to God have been answered, and He, from His holy heaven, answers the prayer of all His faithful subjects.

Psalm 21

In this psalm we find the King now established in His proper place of authority, as will be true in the millennium. No one but the Lord Jesus could possibly have this place.

THE KING'S MIGHT (vv. 1-3)

Since the Lord Jesus has become true Man in every proper respect, the strength of God is His. In this he rejoices, and in the accomplished salvation of God, which will be so fully demonstrated in "the age to come" (v. 1). This is clearly prophetic, as though His heart's desire were already given Him (v. 2), but only when He reigns will this be completely fulfilled. It is impossible for God to withhold the request of the One whom He calls "My beloved Son." Well might we heed the "Selah" added here -"pause and consider." God has met Him with the blessings of goodness, and has set a crown of pure gold on His head. The gold speaks of divine glory, for Christ is not only Man, but the eternal Son of God.

THE GLADNESS OF ETERNAL HONOR (vv. 4-6)

Verse 3 looks back to the very time He was facing death. At that time He asked life from God (Heb. 5:7), and God gave it to Him in resurrection — "length of days forever and ever" (v. 4). In one respect this is true of David also and true of all believers also, who are blessed with eternal life in Christ; but the language here contemplates only One — One who is King. His glory is great in God's salvation, and God has placed upon Him honor and majesty (v. 5), making Him most blessed forever (v. 6). "You have made Him exceedingly glad with Your presence." This reminds us of Psalm 16:11, "In Your presence is fullness of joy." His close fellowship with the Father is a vital reason for His joy.

HIS MANIFESTATION (vv. 7-13)

Even in being manifested in His glory we are reminded that the King trusts in the Lord. Such is the true place of Man, — dependent on the living God. He recognizes too that His remaining unmoved is through the mercy of the Most High (v. 7). Thus, though the King Himself will be seen, the power behind Him is unseen. This of course will be true throughout the 1000 years of peace. All that would oppose this is found out and judged. The King's right hand of power will expose those who hate Him (v. 8). They will be made as a fiery oven in the time of His anger. Who indeed can resist the fire of his wrath? They will be swallowed up and devoured (v. 9).

Even their offering will be destroyed from the earth, and their descendants from among the sons of men (v. 10). Thus, not only individuals, but whole houses shall be judged, for the enmity of a man extends itself to his family, and the Lord Jesus will discern the extent of the evil influence and fully judge it.

Though we cannot judge the thoughts of others, God does discern that these enemies intended evil against the Lord Jesus, and the day is coming when "God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ" (Rom. 2:16). They may not have been able to perform their evil intentions against the King, but they will be judged for their wicked plans. God will make them turn their backs in confusion, sending His arrows (His long-range warfare) to accomplish His ends.

The psalm concludes with a fitting ascription of praise to the Lord the great King by those who gladly identify themselves with Him. He will indeed be exalted in His own strength, which will cause singing and praise from the lips of His redeemed saints.

Psalm 22

This psalm stands out as emphasizing the sin-offering aspect of the sacrifice of Christ. Though David possibly went through an experience in which he felt forsaken by God, yet he was never actually forsaken, and the psalm cannot be actually true of him, but only of the Lord Jesus. Here we find feelings of deepest anguish such as are not spoken of at the time of His actual suffering on Calvary. How much we would miss if we did not have the Old Testament to consider!

The psalm is inscribed, "to the chief musician concerning the hind of the dawn." The hind is peculiarly sensitive and one writer tells us it refers to "the early light preceding the dawn of the morning, whose first rays are likened to the horns of a hind." Are we not reminded then that the deep pain and agony of the Lord Jesus on Calvary was the dawn of a new day for countless multitudes?

ALONE (vv. 1-11)

"My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (v. 1). This was the most dreadful aspect of the sufferings of Christ on the cross. He spoke these words at the end of the three hours when the world was enveloped in darkness from noon until 3.00 p.m. (Matt. 27:45-46). Many have wondered what He meant, for this is such a contrast to His own words in John 16:32, "Indeed the hour is coming, yea, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me." This was perfectly true until the time when the darkness fell, a darkness that signified the withdrawal of the light of God from this sinless, faithful Son of Man. Then He was forsaken by God. He asked, "Why?" Did He not know why? Yes indeed, for He answers this Himself. But He asked "why" in order to awaken us to consider this amazing question.

His agony was deeper than we could possibly understand, crying in the daytime and in the night (v. 2), for He prayed in agony even before His crucifixion (Luke 22:41-44), but how much greater was His agony in the three hours of "the night." In verse 3, however, He provides the answer Himself, "But You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel." What does He mean? He had voluntarily offered Himself a sacrifice for the sins of mankind, and God, being absolute in holiness, could not show the least fellowship with the sin the Lord Jesus was bearing on that cross. In fact, since the Lord was willingly bearing our sins, God must punish Him just as He punishes sin. How deeply must the heart of God the Father be affected as well as the heart of the Lord Jesus!

Verse 4 refers to the fathers in Israel, who had always found God responsive to their prayers. Never was one of them forsaken by God, but their cries to Him were answered. He delivered them, as He did not deliver His own Son from the agony of the cross. Thus, He says in contrast, "I am a worm and no man, a reproach of men, and despised by the people" (v. 6). F.W. Grant in his Numerical Bible writes concerning the word "worm," "The word (tolaath) applies especially to the coccus from which the scarlet dye of the tabernacle was obtained, of course by its death: in that way, how significant of the One before us! But only as suffering under the judgment of sin could this be true of him" (Psalms — p. 99).

At a time when he was voluntarily offering Himself as a sacrifice for our sins, surely, He was worthy only of men's profound thanksgiving and adoration. Yet their attitude was one of hatred and despite, as verse 7 shows, "All those who see Me ridicule Me." The history of the cross shows this to be true. The chief priests and scribes were foremost in this bitter animosity (Mk. 15:31), and even the robbers who were crucified at the same time joined in this cruel abuse (Matt. 27:44) until one of them was suddenly changed and confessed his own sin as deserving judgment, and confessed Jesus as Lord (Luke 23:39-42).

But in verses 9 and 10 the Lord Jesus appeals to the fact of His own birth by the intervention of God — we know, a virgin birth. When God had so intervened in man's affairs to prepare a body for His Son, could this whole matter have ended by death and oblivion? Certainly not! He says, "From my mother's womb You have been my God." Could this change now that He is crucified? "Be not far from Me, for trouble is near, for there is none to help" (v. 11). Thus, He expresses the agony of His heart, yet it was true that God was far from Him in those hours only, and there was no one else to help. The solitary anguish of this was confined to Him alone.

In the section following this He is also alone, though His sufferings from men are emphasized. We can understand better what He endured from men than the greater agony of His being forsaken by God. But it is well that we learn something of men's hatred toward Him, though it is not to be compared to the awesome judgment from God for our sins. But this subject will be considered in a following study, Lord willing.

SUFFERINGS FROM MEN ADDED (vv. 12:21)

In this section the Lord Jesus is also alone, though His sufferings from men are emphasized. We can understand better what He endured from men than the infinitely greater agony of His being forsaken by God. But it is well that we learn something of men's hatred toward Him, for it reminds us that this was dreadful indeed, though only minor compared to the awesome judgment from God for our sins.

Some of His enemies are likened to bulls, wildly attacking and tossing their victims by their horns. Such was the character of the high priest and Pharisees; while another simile, that of a raging and roaring lion, shows this vicious, devouring character of the enemy of which Satan is the chief example.

Of course, verse 24 is figurative, describing something of how He felt during His ordeal, — poured out like water, His bones out of joint and His heart melted like wax. This continues in verse 15, His strength dried up like a potsherd, and His tongue clinging to His jaws. But then He adds what God has done, "You have brought Me to the dust of death." For men could not take His life from Him (in. 10:17-18), though they were guilty of crucifying Him. Laying down His life was a divine work. He laid it down of Himself, and it was just as true that God brought Him to the dust of death.

Verse 16 speaks of dogs surrounding Him. This refers to crowds of unbelievers gathered by the spectacle of a suffering Victim and adding their insults like yelping dogs. Though it was the executioners who pierced His hands and feet in crucifying Him, the crowd is considered guilty of this infliction. He was also so emaciated as to speak of His bones being visible (v. 17). And here, centuries before the Lord Jesus was crucified, He speaks of His enemies dividing His garments among themselves. This was fulfilled at the time of the cross (in. 19:23-24). including their casting lots for part of His clothing.

However, in verse 19 the pivotal word, "But" comes from His lips,— "But You, O Lord, do not be far from Me; O my strength, hasten to help Me!" God could not answer Him in verses 1-6, for He was then bearing sin, and He could not be spared that suffering. However, verses 19-21 are totally different. After His work of atonement was complete, then God delivered Him "out of death," and therefore from the sword of the enemy. Never again would "the power of the dog" have any effect on Him, nor "the lion's mouth." nor the horns of the wild oxen." So that verse 21 ends, "You have answered Me." This is in His resurrection from among the dead. Weeping has endured through the night, but joy comes in the morning.

NOT ALONE (vv. 22-31)

How marvelous it is now that the Lord Jesus has those He calls "My brethren." to whom He declares the name of the Father (v. 22). Indeed, on the very day of His resurrection He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, and gave her this wonderful message, "Go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God" (in. 20:17). He does not say, "Our Father" or "our God," yet He most graciously identifies Himself with His brethren. Forty days later He did ascend to His Father, yet at the same time it was true, "In the midst of the assembly I will praise You." This is true today, as Hebrews 2:12 affirms; for though He is bodily in heaven, yet He has assured us, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20). He is in truth the Leader of the worship of the assembly today, and all who fear the Lord (which certainly includes Gentile believers) are bidden to praise Him (v. 23).

But the descendants of Jacob are specially singled out at the end of verse 23, and called also the "offspring of Israel," for they will have special reason to glorify the Lord. Though the nation Israel has been guilty of despising and abhorring the affliction of the afflicted One, they will then learn that God has not done so. Though they "hid as it were, their faces from Him" (Isa.53:3), God has not hid His face, but "when He cried to Him, He heard" (v. 24). What profound effect this will have on Israel when eventually they turn back to the Lord!

Verse 25 goes beyond verse 22, for it now considers the praises of the Lord Jesus "in the great assembly." This is not the Church, the present Assembly of God, but refers rather to the great assemblage of Israel and the nations at the dawn of the millennium. As to this He says, "I will pay My vows before those who fear Him" (that is, those who fear God). He had vowed to greatly bless Israel, and this vow could be fulfilled only by His willingly sacrificing Himself. Now raised from the dead, His vows are completely paid, as Israel will yet fully understand. "The poor shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek Him will praise the Lord." For their hearts will live forever (v. 26).

Not only Israel, but "all the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before You. For the kingdom is the Lord's, and he shall reign over the nations" (vv. 27-28). As yet, this is far from being accomplished, for man's rebellion is still being allowed to express itself strongly; but how great a change will take place when the Lord Jesus claims the kingdom that is rightly His! Of course, the Great Tribulation will be necessary to awaken people to the actual condition of their guilt and to realize that they desperately need the rule of One who is perfectly righteous. It is amazing to think that since the cross of Christ, God has waited so long in patience before His judgment falls and Christ will be accorded his proper place in reigning over all the world. He has indeed lengthened out the day of grace! But His patience is not indifference, and the prophecy here is absolute truth.

"All the prosperous of the earth shall eat and worship: all those who go down to the dust shall bow before Him, even He who did not keep alive His own soul," (as is the proper translation). The point here is that he willingly went into death for the sake of mankind, and therefore many indeed will worship Him, while even those who go down to the dust will bow before Him. Many will be taken in death during the Tribulation, but all will bow to Him who is Lord of all.

"A posterity (or a seed) shall serve Him. It will be accounted of the Lord for a generation" (v. 30). This is the answer to the question of Isaiah 53:8, "and who will declare His generation?" During His life on earth He had no seed, but in resurrection, "He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand" (Isa 53:10). Because of the value of His sacrifice, His children will be a great multitude. In fact, the results would be such that this generation would become messengers to following generations (a people yet unborn) of the righteousness of God in Christ, and thus the blessing of His great work would spread, as it has done immeasurably, and will continue till the dawn of the millennium, because "He has done this" (v. 31).

Psalm 23

It has been well observed that Psalm 22 presents Christ as "the good Shepherd" giving His life for the sheep (in. 10:11), while Psalm 23 shows Him as "the great Shepherd of the sheep" brought up from the dead by "the God of peace" (Heb. 13:20). As we see Him raised and now seated at the right hand of God, this gives marvelous confidence to speak decidedly and firmly these words of precious assurance. Actually, the psalm is written from Israel's viewpoint, describing the blessing of the godly remnant of that nation when they at last realize that Christ is indeed their Messiah. No doubt the psalm was a great comfort to Jewish believers even during Old Testament times, though they could not understand its full import; and it is also a comfort to all believers today, for they can see in it a picture of even higher blessing than is seen on the surface; for the Church is blessed "with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Eph. 1:3). The literal blessings given to Israel therefore become the picture of spiritual blessings given to the believer today. We may thus receive fully as much joy from the psalm as Israel can.

HIS TENDER CARE (vv. 1-3)

There are just two sections in this psalm, the first dealing with the tenderness of the Shepherd's care on which the sheep may fully depend. The first verse is most precious in speaking of the personal relationship of the sheep to the Shepherd, — "The Lord is my Shepherd." This gives confidence to add, "I shall not want." He meets every need: nothing is lacking to the soul who trusts Him. The sheep is one of the most dependent of animals, always needing a shepherd. The Shepherd does not always keep them on the move, but makes them "lie down in green pastures (v. 2). This is after thy have been feeding, when they need time to ruminate, to digest what they have eaten. Spiritually speaking, just as sheep, we need time to meditate on what food we have received from the word of God. The pastures too are green, not hard to lie down on, the very color indicating restfulness. At proper times we need such rest.

But the sheep need water too, and the Lord leads to still waters, which are deeper than those rushing down the mountain side. This water is more essential even for our souls than water is for our bodies; and the Spirit of God ministers to us "the deep things of God." (1 Cor. 2:10).

"He restores my soul" (v.3). The sheep may wander and be exposed to hurtful damage, needing the shepherd's care to restore their physical health. But the wandering believer needs his soul restored, and the Lord Jesus is ever concerned as to this necessary work, such as is seen in 1 John 2:2, "If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous," who restores us if we sin.

When the Lord restores, as is indicated in His washing the disciples' feet (Jn. 13:3-10), He also uses the towel to dry their feet. Does this not compare with another most needful work, "He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake"? For if the Lord left their feet wet, they would only more quickly accumulate defilement. He wants us to learn by our failure not to fail again. Yet, thank God, if we do fail again, He is still our Advocate with the Father.

PRESERVATION FROM ENEMIES (vv. 4-6)

The threat of adverse circumstances is always present to try the believer, as is illustrated in the case of sheep exposed to the danger of enemies, of noxious weeds, of rough terrain. We "walk through the valley of the shadow of death" (v. 4). This is not walking through death itself, but the valley of its shadow, which is the world, which has always the shadow of death hovering over it, and is seen as such by the believer in the Lord Jesus more clearly than men of the world see. The psalmist does not minimize the danger, but is fully aware of it, yet he can confidently say, "I will fear no evil." The reason for this is immediately added, " For You are with me." A realization of the presence of the Lord is a most wonderful comfort for the believer. How can we possibly fear if we see Him walking beside us?

"Your rod and your staff they comfort me." His rod is that of firm authority. A shepherd may use the rod for destroying or scattering enemies; thus, the believer does not need to fear his enemies. We are told also that in cases of a sheep being determined to wander, a shepherd may use his rod to break the sheep's leg, so that it may learn to be obedient. In such a case even chastening results in comfort.

This Great Shepherd also prepares a table for us at the very time that enemies may be surrounding (v. 5), just as a shepherd finds good pasture for the sheep, watching over them at times when enemies seem ready to attack. He would not have us so concerned about the danger of enemies as to forget to feed on the word of God.

"You anoint my head with oil." It is said that when sheep have made their way through underbrush, their heads may be cut or bruised, so that the shepherd uses oil to alleviate any suffering. But altogether apart from any such dangers, the Lord has anointed all believers with the Spirit of God (1 Jn. 2:27), to enable them to understand the truth of the word of God, and to walk in subjection to the Lord Jesus in living faith and devotion. This provision of His grace is so abundantly sufficient that we may well say, "My cup runs over." This is far more than enough to satisfy us.

If we have proven the Lord Jesus sufficient for our present need, are we not thus encouraged to have fullest confidence also for the future? "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life" (v. 6). Thus, our future even on earth is secure in the reality of His unfailing goodness and mercy. But the eternal future is not only secure, but full of the greatest blessing imaginable, — "I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." David had not been privileged to build God a house, and though the godly in Israel in a future day will greatly enjoy the house of the Lord in Jerusalem, both David and we shall dwell in the Father's house in glory for eternity. The blessing of this will be beyond our present ability to even understand. What a contrast to "the valley of the shadow of death"!

Psalm 24

HIS KINGDOM ESTABLISHED

We have seen that Psalm 22 presents Christ as "the good Shepherd" who gives His life for the sheep, and Psalm 23 portrays Him as "the great Shepherd of the sheep" in His constant care for them in scenes of trial. Now Psalm 24 refers to the time when "the Chief Shepherd shall appear" (1 Peter 5:4), and claims all the earth as His. This psalm therefore clearly refers to what is future.

THE CREATOR AND THOSE WHO DWELL WITH HIM (vv. 1-6)

"The earth is the Lord's and all its fulness" (v. 1). The earth here is distinguished from the world, which evidently indicates that "the earth" or "the land" refers particularly to Israel, while "the world and those who dwell therein" is a wider sphere that includes all nations, for all will bow to the authority of the Lord Jesus when He claims His kingdom.

"He has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the waters" (v. 2). Naturally, the sea is not a stable basis for establishing anything, but just as God "hangs the earth on nothing" (Job. 26:7), so He is able to do many things we consider impossible. In the day of the glory of the Lord Jesus, there will be such a change in people's relationships that the basis of them will appear to us absolutely miraculous. Thus, God sees fit to overthrow all man's natural thoughts, and show both His amazing power and His matchless grace.

The question is posed in verse 3, "Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?' This is not a question of entering into heaven, but of entering into the earthly blessing of the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus. The answer is certainly most discriminative. "He who has clean hands and a pure heart" indicates that the hands must be free from works that are evil and the heart must be uncontaminated by evil thoughts. Of course, only God can discern the actual state of the heart, though it will always manifest itself in some way. Similarly, idol worship may be outwardly covered for a time, but cannot remain so. Swearing deceitfully may sound convincing to people, but God knows immediately the falsehood of it, and the deceit will eventually be manifested.

He shall receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation" (v. 5). Blessing is a general term for that which brings happiness to the heart. This comes from God, and so also does righteousness, for we have no righteousness of our own. God gives it on the basis of faith, for faith is counted as righteousness (Rom. 4:5), and faith is "the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8).

"This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face. Selah" (v. 6). the name Jacob is to remind us that Israel has come from Jacob, who fully admits himself to be unworthy of the least of God's mercies (Gen. 32:9-10), but was blessed by the pure grace of God. Whatever Jacob's failures were, he still did seek the face of God.

THE MANIFESTATION OF THE KING (vv. 7-10)

"Lift up your heads, O you gates.! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in" (v. 7). The gates of men's hearts have been for centuries closed to the true King of Israel, and the nation Israel has been specially guilty in this regard. What a change will take place when the Lord Jesus comes to assert His own rights! The gates of the city of Jerusalem will be opened wide at that time to receive Israel's true Messiah; and the doors are spoken of as "everlasting." Why? Because He will take His place of supreme authority for eternity: nothing can ever again challenge this King of God's appointment.

"Who is this King of glory?" The answer is clear and decisive: the King, the Lord Jesus, is Jehovah strong and mighty, Jehovah mighty in battle." The reason for asking the question is that men might be challenged to recognize that the Lord Jesus is no less than Jehovah. In fact, the declaration is made the second time, with the same question again asked (vv. 9-10), for the matter is one of the greatest significance. If people will not face this, they are guilty of insulting Jehovah, and the consequences of such unbelief must involve eternal destruction.

Psalm 25

GOD'S GRACE THE ONLY RESOURCE OF THE BELIEVER

This psalm is entirely a prayer, except for verses 12 to 15, which is a statement of fullest confidence in the grace of God. Since Psalm 24 has decreed the fact that the Lord Jesus will take His throne over the universe without fail, then it is He who can be addressed in confident prayer as the Dispenser of the grace of God for every occasion.

A FAITHFUL CREATOR (vv. 1-3)

Because the Lord of hosts, the King of glory is so high in His exalted majesty, the psalmist must "lift up" his soul in confidence (v. 1). Just as Thomas called Jesus, "my Lord and my God" (in. 20:28), so David calls Him "Lord" in verse 1 and "God" in verse 2. And since Satan tries hard to make us ashamed of Him, how important that we should pray that He might keep us from being ashamed. Peter succumbed to that temptation because he thought he would never be ashamed. In that measure his enemies triumphed over him, and he wept bitterly. Thank God he was recovered by the grace of the Lord Jesus and later spoke unashamedly and boldly for Him. But if we truly wait on the Lord, He will preserve us from being ashamed. In fact, those who ought to be ashamed are those "who deal treacherously without cause" (v. 3). The day will come when they will indeed be ashamed, though at present they are not honest enough to be ashamed of their evil ways.

CLINGING DEPENDENCE (vv. 4-7)

"Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths" (v. 4). This is not a request for even a right way, but for God's own way. We surely cannot learn His ways and His paths anywhere but in His word. Nor can we trust ourselves to learn this rightly apart from God's own leading. Thus, it is added, "Lead me in Your truth and teach me"(v. 5). We need not only to be told God's truth, but we need God to teach us, and His teaching does not involve only instruction, but His disciplining hand to restrain misguided thoughts and to encourage true thoughts. "For You are the God of my salvation: On You I wait all the day.". Salvation from sin is absolutely essential if there is to be any proper relationship to God, and He Himself is the source of salvation.

"Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your loving kindnesses, for they are from of old" (v. 6). All the past history of Israel has proven this, so that the Psalmist appeals to God's sufficiency as has been evidenced in the past. Of course, God will answer such a prayer as this; and He will answer too the prayer that follows, "Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions" (v. 7). Where there is faith that depends on Him, He will certainly not remember against us the sins of our youth, nor in fact will He remember against us our transgressions, though these involve the knowledge of the law that forbids what we have been guilty of.

Thus, though the psalmist prays that God would not remember his sins, he asks, "according to Your mercy remember me." not for the sake of any commendable thing found in him, but for the sake of God's goodness. This surely calls to mind the prayer of the robber on the cross, "Lord, remember me" (Luke 23:43),. For he had first said, "we receive the due reward of our deeds, but this Man has done nothing wrong" (Luke 23:41). He acknowledged that he had no claim upon Christ at all, but depended on His mercy.

GOD ACTING FOR HIS OWN GLORY (vv. 8-14)

We have observed that this section is no longer prayer, but a declaration of the character and actions of God, except for verse 13. Because He is good and upright, He therefore condescends to teach sinners as to His own way (v. 8). Does this not remind us of the words of His enemies in Luke 15:2, "This man receives sinners and eats with them." They would not have said this if he had been a sinner Himself, but they objected to His showing compassion to those they considered did not deserve it. However, though they did not deserve it, He acted according to the goodness of His heart. He was certainly not identifying Himself with their sinful actions, but manifesting the compassion that sought to lift them out of their sinful condition to trust His own pure love and grace.

"The humble He guides in justice, and the humble He teaches His way" (v. 9). The humble are those who take their true place before God, not hiding their sinfulness. Only in such an attitude are people really teachable, and in submission of heart to Him will they learn His way.

He has only one way, "the way of peace," or "the way of the Lord," the way that leads to the glory of God. But He has many "paths," all of which are mercy and truth (v. 10). He may lead one believer in a path of trial and sorrow, another in a path of general pleasantness, but more often in a path that is a mixture of these, and every path He appoints for His saints is attended by "mercy and truth," a great contrast to the hardness and falsehood of, the paths of large numbers of unbelievers. At this time too believers were looked at as "such as keep His covenant and His testimonies." Of course, this was the covenant of law under which Israel was placed in the Old Testament. There were those whose hearts were concerned about keeping this covenant, though certainly not one could keep it perfectly; and therefore, the Psalmist adds his prayer of verse 11, "For Your name's sake, O Lord, Pardon my iniquity, for it is great." In fact, this shows that the Psalmist could not claim to be keeping God's covenant nor His testimonies.

Yet God knew how to pardon the sinner, and rather than expect total obedience to law, He instead led David to say, "Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses" (v. 12). One who fears the Lord will certainly, as in verse 11, confess his sins to Him, and God will honor his giving Him His place of supreme honor. "He himself will dwell in prosperity, and his descendants shall inherit the earth" (v. 13). Of course, the present-day child of God will have higher blessings than this, for we have "an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven" (1 Peter 1:4). Our prosperity now may not be in temporal blessing, but spiritual prosperity is far better.

"The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant" (v. 14). Such a secret is not perceived by unbelievers, but the secret of His presence and blessing is to be enjoyed by those who fear Him. God has hidden such things from the wise and prudent and has revealed them to babes, those who are simply dependent and trusting. "His covenant " in this case apparently does not refer to the covenant of law, for this was known by all Israel, but it must be "the new covenant" that speaks entirely of what God does, not requiring anything but faith on the part of the people.

DEPENDENCE IN TRIAL (vv. 15-20)

Is it not the realization of God's sovereign covenant of grace that causes David's eyes to be "ever toward the Lord?" (v. 15). And this is a great necessity in view of the many snares that are set by the enemy to entangle us. Only the Lord can pluck our feet out of the net.

The prayer of the psalmist becomes all the more urgent as he cries to God to turn Himself to the afflicted and desolate sufferer. The trial drives him to the Lord, as is the reason for all of our troubles. If we are driven to the Lord there will be joy found as a result of the trial. His troubles were enlarged, so that he cries for deliverance (v. 17). It is sometimes the way, that when we seek deliverance, it seems the trouble only increases, but God knows how much we can stand, and will not add more than is necessary for our good. Was there any doubt that God looked upon His affliction and his pain? Not at all. It was God who was measuring it in perfect wisdom. David adds, "and forgive my sins" (v. 18). It is impossible for God to ignore such a prayer.

But his personal condition is not all that troubles him. "Consider my enemies," he says, "for they are many." Our enemies today are not people, but "spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12) for which we require "the whole armor of God." Their hatred is more cruel than that of all David's human enemies, and their methods more deceitful. Their main object is to undermine faith in the living God, as we see in Satan's first temptation in Genesis 3:1-5, by which Eve was deceived. Every false religion has this seducing character, with evil spirits behind it. If we realize the hatred that is in their smooth talking, we should recoil from it with godly fear.

With real reason then do we need the prayer of verse 20, "Keep my soul, and deliver me; let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You." Not only is the preserving of the body a necessity, but more importantly, the preserving of the soul, for Satan's temptations are addressed generally to the soul, seeking to move our emotions to disobey the truth, just as he made Eve to feel that God was not fair in withholding from her something that was "good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to' to be desired to make one wise" (Gen. 3;6). Let us be always on our guard to see to it that we are not deceived by things that appeal to our feelings. In fact, let us remember to pray that we might be delivered from enemies as those who tempt us in such ways.

THE END IN VIEW (vv. 21-22)

Two characteristics of a believer are seen here as preserving him, integrity and uprightness (v. 21). God is the Author of these. Integrity is the simplicity of honorable motives, and this will guard against the duplicity of evil spirits. Uprightness is a contrast to underhandedness, the firmness of decision in acting rightly. This will not be swayed one way or the other, for one who stands upright does not lean either way. "For I wait for You." Thus, there is no forcing of oneself, but the faith that waits on God to manifest things as they are.

Psalm 26

SEPARATION FROM SINNERS

This psalm emphasizes the path of separation from evil, which is at all times vitally important for the believer. Too frequently believers think too lightly of being associated with evil, except in its grossest forms. But we should certainly be on our guard also against its deceitful forms, which are often the subtle and dangerous work of evil spirits.

PLEADING HIS OWN INTEGRITY (vv. 1-3)

It is true that God honors the integrity that honestly honors Him, and He will certainly answer such a prayer as that of the psalmist in verse 1, and will judge in his favor when he knows the prayer is honest, though generally it is wiser for us to appeal simply to the pure grace God rather than base our appeals on our integrity. if we have not been guilty of evil and are accused of it, we naturally desire to be vindicated. Yet even the Lord Jesus was not publicly vindicated while He was on earth, though His resurrection was a perfect vindication from God. David says, "I have trusted in the Lord; I shall not slip." Actually, this could be perfectly true only of the Lord Jesus, for we know that in some things David did slip. though generally God preserved him from serious evil.

In verse 2 he invites the Lord to examine him. One cannot honestly do this if he is careless as to his walk and ways, but David even pleads that the Lord would try his mind and his heart. What was his mind set on? Today we are told, "Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth" (Col. 3:2). Do we ask the Lord to judge as to whether we are doing this or not? Are we willing to have the desires of our hearts tested by God's measure of wisdom and truth? We should not likely invite this unless we are purposed to "keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life" (Prov. 4:23).

REFUSING BAD ASSOCIATIONS (vv. 4-5)

When one honestly walks in the truth, the negatives of verses 4 and 5 are to be expected, "I have not sat with idolatrous mortals, nor will I go with hypocrites; I have hated the assembly of evildoers, and will not sit with the wicked." Let every believer separate fully from such evils.

SANCTIFIED TO GOD (vv. 6-8)

We have seen that refusing bad associations is absolutely essential to a walk of faith. It should be evident to any believer that religions such as Mormonism and so-called Jehovah's Witness groups are full of idolatry and hypocrisy, and many other religions are following in the same direction, some not so glaring but nevertheless seductive. Let us be careful to avoid all that dishonors our God and Savior Jesus Christ.

If we are indeed separated from an ungodly world, there is something more positive to occupy us: we are sanctified to God. To enter God's presence our hands must be washed in innocence. This reminds us of Deuteronomy 2:6, where elders of a city near to which a man had been murdered, were to wash their hands to affirm the fact that they no part in the crime. Pilate washed his hands, declaring himself innocent of the blood of the Lord Jesus, but immediately afterward he involved himself in blood guiltiness by giving up the Lord Jesus to be crucified (Matt. 27:24). Thus, his washing his hands was mere hypocrisy. But let us rather be true to fact in figuratively washing our hands, or "lifting up holy hands" (1 Tim. 2:8), that is, displaying works that are clean from any defilement. This is imperative if we are to have any contact with God's altar, which speaks of Christ as the only way of approach to God.

Such approach will be always in a spirit of thanksgiving (v. 7), with the precious exercise of soul to "tell of all Your wondrous works." This being the third section of the psalm, it holds the same significance as the Book of Leviticus in which the praises of God predominate.

Therefore, verse 8 is most appropriate in closing this section, "Lord, I have loved the habitation of Your house, and the place where Your honor dwells." David was not a priest, therefore he could not enter the sanctuary of God, but from the outside he could appreciate the fact that God dwelt in the tabernacle. But today, every believer is a priest (1 Peter 2:5), and even the way into the holiest of all has been opened to us through the veil rent at the crucifixion of Christ, so that we are told in Hebrews10:19-22 to have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, a wonderful provision for true worshipers. This is significant of our worship being actually in heaven, the place where God's glory dwells. How wonderful therefore to have our hearts lifted high above the earth, into the very presence of God! This is of course the exercise of spiritual discernment, realized by faith alone.

TESTED BY HIS WALK (vv. 9-11)

In contrast to the sacredness of the Lord's presence, the psalmist prays for his preservation from being gathered with sinners and men of blood (v. 9). Indeed, he does not fail the test, for he discerns that mischief is in their hands; even the right hand, which should minister positive blessing, is instead full of bribes to seduce others into evil ways. In the face of this, he is fully purposed to walk in godly integrity, and on this basis asks for God's redeeming grace to deliver him.

THE ASSURED RESULT (v. 12)

Thus, he stands in an even place, solid ground that enables him to stand upright. Nor is he alone, but in the congregation, he will bless the Lord. Thank God He has others who give Him the place of supreme honor, and together their praise to Him will issue in resounding praise forever.

Psalm 27

THE HEART'S DEEPEST DESIRE

Though Psalm 26 has indicated that separation to God is the reason for separation from evil, yet its emphasis was more on separation from evil. Now Psalm 27 emphasizes the positive side of separation to God. Psalm 26 began, "Vindicate me," while Psalm 27 begins, "The Lord is my light and my salvation." How much better to begin with the Lord!

THE LORD, THE SOURCE OF ALL BLESSING (v. 1)

Without the light there is no discernment for the path, so that many indeed are those who walk in darkness, not knowing where they are going. But the believer knows Christ as the Light, He who gives understanding, making our way clear before us. "For the path of the just is as the shining light, that shines more and more unto the perfect day" (Prov. 4:18). He is also our salvation, delivering us from our sins by reason of His great sacrifice of Calvary, and from the many difficulties that press from every side. When we have found this to be transparently true, then what reason is there for fear of anything or anyone? Indeed, added to light and salvation is the fact that the Lord is the strength of our life, strength infinitely greater than the combined power of men and Satan. Though our own strength fails us miserably, we may say with Paul, "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13).

PRESERVED IN CONFLICT (vv. 2-3)

A walk of faith in the Lord Jesus will always awaken the opposition of enemies, Satan and people energized by Satan. David found himself often attacked by human enemies, and when simply depending on God, he was enabled to defeat them without real difficulty. Our enemies today are "spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places," that is, Satan's angels who seek constantly to undermine our faith in the Lord Jesus. But if we have on "the whole armor of God" (Eph. 6:11) we shall be enabled to stand against them and defeat their evil intentions. They will stumble and fall.

"Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear." When all the Syrian army surrounded Elisha's house, he remained in calm peace, when his servant was greatly alarmed (2 Ki. 6:14-15). Elisha prayed to the Lord to open the eyes of the young man (v. 17), who then saw the mountain full of horses and chariots of fire arrayed in protection of Elisha. Does the believer today not have just as protective safeguards against the opposition of evil spirits? There is no reason for our hearts to fear, but rather to always have full confidence in the Lord, however threatening may be the attacks of the enemy.

PREFERENCE FOR GOD'S HOUSE (vv. 4-6)

Above every other consideration, David desired "one thing" of the Lord, and purposed to seek after this, that he might dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life. Yet the temple was not built at this time, nor would David be allowed to live in it if it had been built; for he was not a priest. It seems that God gave David a deeper view of the meaning of the house of God than what was merely literal, just as today we know the house of God is the Church of the living God, those redeemed by the blood of Christ and indwell by the Spirit of God. Certainly, now every true believer dwells in the house of God: it is his proper home at all times. In fact, he is blessed far beyond the blessing of the priests of Israel, who were never allowed in the holiest of all, except the high priest once a year. But we are invited to have "boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus" (Heb. 10:19). Why? Because His sacrifice of Calvary has caused the veil to be torn from top to bottom, thus opening the way for the entrance of all believers. It is their proper dwelling now.

We may question, if we are living always in the house of God, will we have any time for such activities as gospel work, shepherding, etc., but such things may be maintained while we are in God's house: indeed, everything consistent with the glory of His name has a place there.

But the most important object is to "behold the beauty of the Lord," for this will have the most vital effect on all our service for His sake. Also, when we appreciate His beauty, we shall have questions that can be answered only in His presence. The Lord Jesus, at the age of 12 years was found "in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions?" (Lk 2:46).

"For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret of His tabernacle He shall hide me: He shall set me high upon a rock" (v. 5). David had said before, "all the days of my life:" now he says "in the time of trouble." Do we not learn from this that all the days of our lives are a time of trouble and testing? Because of this we continually need the secret of the presence of the Lord. Different words are used for this: "His temple," "His pavilion, "the secret of His tabernacle." In times of trouble do we seek and find the pure comfort and encouragement of such a hiding place? Linked with this is our being "set on high upon a rock," for in God's presence we shall always find our feet planted on solid ground. In fact, Christ is the Rock, and though we may at times tremble on the Rock, yet the Rock never trembles.

TESTED BUT CONFIDENT (vv. 7-10)

How different is the language in these verses to that of those previously! For instead of praise, it is the language of earnest entreaty in distress. But this is often seen in the psalms, and indeed after one has found unspeakable joy in the presence of the Lord, his heart lifted up to heaven, he will soon be reminded that his feet are on earth, and will find it necessary to be tested as to how fully he had entered into the joy of the sanctuary of God. Thus, Numbers follows Leviticus, for Leviticus introduces us into God's immediate presence, but Numbers is the book of testing in the wilderness, where prayer is a very real necessity. "Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice! Have mercy also upon me, and answer me" (v. 7). Such language comes from a distressed heart, and we shall have many occasions of this kind, even after deeply enjoying the blessedness of the Lord's presence. God had said, "Seek my face," for this is the only resource to be trusted in trouble. The heart of the believer answers, "Your face, Lord, will I seek" (v. 80, for he knows there is no other true refuge for him.

David pleads that God would not hide His face from him or turn him away in anger (v. 9). Today the believer knows that God will not do either, though if our condition is that of disobedience, we can expect to find ourselves deprived of practical fellowship with God. But the psalmist reminds God that in the past He had been David's help, and on this basis makes the earnest request that God may not leave nor forsake him. Yet the reality of his faith shines through when he adds, "0 God of my salvation."

This faith is further emphasized in verse 10, "When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me." There is no evidence that David's parents ever forsook him, but even if this took place, and that he could not depend on his closest relatives, he knew he would still find the Lord reliable. Thus his faith triumphed.

THE WEAK DEPENDING ON THE STRONG (vv. 11-14)

Now David has passed the test, for he has learned that the Lord is perfectly dependable even when closest natural relationships fail. So that he is prepared to truly learn the Lord's way. From whom will he learn this? Only from the Lord Himself, whom he invites to teach him (v. 11). The Lord's way may not be always easy, but in that way alone we can expect to have His sustaining grace and blessing. "Lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies." This is a path that is plain to faith and in that path alone shall we be fully delivered from the attacks of the enemy.

In God's path too we shall be preserved from the vicious wills of adversaries (v. 12), many of whom had risen up against David, false in their accusations, and virtually breathing out violence. Thus, Satan attempts to put us in fear, and the believer must be on guard continually, to seek the presence and blessing of the Lord. We too, just as David, may easily lose heart if our faith wavers, rather than remembering that we shall "see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living" (v. 13), not only in heavenly glory, but even now with enemies surrounding us.

How needful and precious is the message with which the psalm closes, "Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!" (v. 14). A spirit of quiet confidence is of vital importance in genuinely waiting on the Lord. Good courage is really only normal for one who waits on the Lord. And thus too the Lord strengthens our hearts when we are naturally weak and helpless. But it was necessary also to repeat the words, "Wait, I say, on the Lord." We shall never lose by obeyimg this injunction.

Psalm 28

THE LORD MY ROCK (vv. 1-2)

The first five verses of this psalm are a prayer of supplication; the latter verses a declaration of the Lord's faithfulness. As is usual in the psalms, the first section considers God first, — the Lord the Rock of solid strength, faithful and true (v. 1). David desires the Lord to speak, not to be silent, for if he has no encouragement from God, he might become as those who go down to the put, — not that he would be among them, for he was a believer, but sometimes we might be like the unbeliever because we are not in communion with the Lord in a practical sense.

There is evidence of sincerity in his earnest supplication, crying to the Lord in his distress, lifting up his hands toward God's holy sanctuary. We read in 1 Timothy 2:8 that in the Assembly today men are to lift up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. This is more than simply literally lifting up the hands, but having a character that is expressed in works of holiness, for if our hands are stained by questionable works, our prayers will also be badly affected. If one prays publicly and his works are known to be bad, how can anyone have confidence in his prayers? Similarly, in praying toward God's holy sanctuary, a sense of God's holiness should certainly be impressed on our souls, so that our prayers should be without hypocrisy.

DELIVERANCE FROM THE WICKED (vv. 3-4)

When one is transparently honest in his prayers, then the hypocrisy of the wicked become abominable to him, so David pleads, "Do not take me away with the wicked and with the workers of iniquity, who speak peace to their neighbors, but evil is in their hearts" (v. 3). How can a true believer endure an association of this kind? Sadly, sometimes believers may be deceived by the smooth words and speeches of a deceiver, as was the case with Gedaliah when Ishmail came to him (Jer. 40:8). Johanan warned Gedaliah that Ishmael planned to kill him, but Gedaliah refused the warning and was soon murdered (Jer. 40:13-16; 41:1-2). If Gedaliah had prayed as David did in this psalm, he might have been preserved from an untimely end. We may excuse ourselves from responsibility on the ground that someone deceived us, but if a believer is deceived, it is his own fault, for communion with the Lord will preserve from all deception.

David asks that the wicked may bear the results of their ungodly deeds and according to the wickedness of their objectives. In our own day of grace, we may not pray for such judgment on enemies, but rather that they may be saved, but when the day of grace has ended, the godly remnant of Israel will then rightly plead for the judgment of the ungodly, for it will be right then to ask that God will render to them what they deserve (v.4).

CLEARLY MANIFESTED AS ENEMIES OF GOD (v. 5)

Though God has borne long with evil doers, patience is not indifference, and patience must eventually give way to awesome judgment, when once the evil is exposed as being altogether incurable. The Great Tribulation will bring clearly to light the determined guilt of mankind, the stubborn rebellion that refuses every advance of kindness. Men will have no regard for the works of the Lord nor the operation of His hands. Since they reject every effort on His part to build them up, the only alternative is to destroy them. Does this mean He is no longer a merciful God? Not at all! Rather, it is mercy on His part to act in judgment against evil: it is mercy that relieves His creation from the tyranny of wicked men — men who despise mercy as though it were weakness.

THE EXPERIENCE OF THE FAITHFUL (vv. 6-7)

In contrast to the destruction of the ungodly, the believer is greatly blessed by the Lord, who has heard the voice of his supplications and in quiet confidence of faith recognizes the Lord as his "strength and shield" — strength by which to meet the attacks of the enemy, and a shield of perfect protection. Simply trusting in Him, the psalmist says, "I am helped" (v. 7), so that he greatly rejoices and his heart expands with singing praise to the Lord.

THE WEAK WITH THE STRONG (vv. 8-9)

Thus the soul of the psalmist quietly settles down in the assurance of the strength of God being his resting place, as we see both the strength and refuge in verse 8, and it is specially the refuge of His Anointed, that is, the Lord Jesus, the Representative of His people, as David was the representative of Israel in his time. In lowly confidence he depends on God to save His people (v. 9) and bless His inheritance, for His people are His inheritance. As well as saving, he desires shepherding for them, the guarding, guiding, encouraging of His hand; and their being sustained without fail. Thus, the psalm comes to its close with the confidence that God will graciously shepherd His flock and bear them up forever. This is manifestly accomplished in the person of His beloved Son.

Psalm 29

In this psalm the storm of God's coming judgment is dramatically emphasized, His voice of awesome majesty bringing everything into submission to Him.

THE LORD EXALTED ABOVE ALL (vv. 1-2)

Those mighty on earth are bidden to give glory to the One who is infinitely mightier than they. Glory and strength belong to Him, and the day is coming when this will be fully acknowledged by all the great ones of the earth, who will then give to the Lord the glory due to His name, for they have for centuries ignored the glory to which His creation bears unmistakable testimony. But then only will they have learned to "worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness." In the past, holiness has been far from men's minds, and if there is no understanding of God's holiness there can be no true worship; for holiness involves the love of what is good and hatred of evil, and it is beautiful only to those who recognize its character.

HIS VOICE OF AWESOME POWER (vv. 3-9)

In the millennial age the voice of God will be heard with no uncertain sound "over the waters" (v. 3). The surging might of the ocean's waves will be no match for the overpowering voice of God. The waters symbolize "peoples, multitudes, nations and tongues" (Rev. 17:15), and all of these will be subdued by the voice of the Son of God, who, as the God of glory, will speak like thunder. While on earth, He did not need to speak like thunder to subdue the raging sea, but with calm simplicity, saying "Peace, be still" (Mk. 4:39), and there was a great calm. But the nations of earth will require a voice of thunder before they are ready to listen to the Lord Jesus, and He will make them feel their utter impotence then. For His voice is powerful (v. 4) and full of majesty, as will be proven then for all creation to recognize.

"The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars, yes, the Lord splinters the cedars of Lebanon." The cedar is a majestic tree, and speaks of the elite of mankind in their proud exaltation; but the Lord by His voice breaks them down, as indeed He will humble all the pride of man. Verse 6 shows that the Lord has not been speaking of the literal cedars in verse 5, for he makes them "skip like a calf," showing that man's pride will be exchanged for a willing response to the sovereign work of God. Lebanon and Sirion also will be the subjects of God's gracious and powerful dealings, responding as a young wild ox, though they are outside the bounds of Israel, therefore spoken of as "wild".

"The voice of the Lord divides the flames of fire" (v. 7). He knows exactly how to bring His fiery judgments upon every object of judgment in such a way as to meet the condition. For His judgment is perfectly discriminating, dividing between one and the other in clear discernment of what measure of judgment is appropriate in every case.

"The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh" (v. 8). The name Kadesh means "apartness," but however one may isolate himself. even in a lonely and desolate wilderness, there will be no escape from the judgment of God in the coming day. Some may claim to be "neutral," but God will show that none can be actually neutral, rather that they are either for Him or against Him. They will indeed be shaken by the voice of the Lord in that day.

But beautifully, it is added, "The voice of the Lord makes the deer to give birth" (v. 9). The same voice that judges the ungodly has power to give life to the deer, and of course by implication to every soul who submits to His sovereign government. Besides this His voice "strips the forests bare." Does this not remind us that "all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account?" (Heb. 4:13). When one is born again, he welcomes this exposure to the eyes of God, though such stripping is not so welcome to the unbeliever. It may seem strange that added to this is the statement that "in His temple everyone says 'Glory!'" But when our hearts are truly laid open before God, we shall so value the sanctity of His presence — His sanctuary — that we shall respond with glad rejoicing, to glorify the One whose voice accomplishes great things.

THE SUBLIME OUTCOME (vv. 10-11)

The majesty and dignity of the Lord is now emphasized, His sitting enthroned at the Flood. Just as he was in perfect control in regard to the flood of Noah's day, so he will sit enthroned when the awesome flood of God's judgment sweeps over the whole earth at the time of the Great Tribulation (v. 10). He will sit as King forever, subduing everything before His face.

Yet, while He alone gains the victory, He will not enjoy it alone. Rather, He "will give strength to His people" (v. 11). They will have found by painful experience that they are pathetically weak, but in depending on the strong One, they will find wonderful strength; and He will also "bless his people with peace." What marvelous peace, after centuries of trouble! Today the whole world is crying out for peace, but it has eluded them because they have refused the one Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus.

Psalm 30

No history is given us of "a song at the dedication of the house of David," so it is a question of what house this refers to. If it refers to the house of God, it could not be the temple, for it was built by Solomon, not David. But it is a song of thanksgiving, primarily for God's grace to David, but with some shining through of the exercises of the Lord Jesus in His trial of faith.

GOD HIS SUFFICIENCY (vv. 1-3)

David had many enemies, but found the Lord perfectly faithful and dependable in lifting him up above every hostile activity, not allowing his foes to rejoice over him (v. 1). Yet, it was not as though the Lord's goodness was automatic, rather it was enjoyed as a result of David's crying out in prayer (v. 2); for it is only then that he says, "And You healed me."

Thus, he adds, "0 Lord, You brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit (v. 3). He had no doubt felt himself swallowed up in death, though he was not literally dead, but was kept alive rather than being brought down to Sheol. But the Lord Jesus was not saved from dying, for it was necessary that he must die for the sake of others; but He was saved "out of death" (Heb. 5:7), His body brought up from the grave. This followed His "offering up prayers and supplications with vehement cries and tears," as indeed was true in the garden of Gethsemane (Mk. 14:32-39).

WITNESSING IN SONG (vv. 4-5)

The knowledge of the glory of God gives rise to a testimony of praise and thanksgiving (v. 4). But this is true only on the part of saints, for the ungodly world understands nothing of the true greatness of God.

Moreover, there is a special reason for giving thanks, that is, at the remembrance that He is supremely holy, loving what is good and hating evil. This cannot be appreciated by the ungodly, for they love to do evil and "despise those who are good." But when one is born again this is changed completely, and holiness becomes a most precious gem for which to thank God unfeignedly.

"For His anger is but for a moment" (v. 5). Certainly, holiness requires anger against sin, but that anger is limited by the grace of the heart of God. Comparatively, it is only "for a moment," but His favor (or grace) 'is for life," that is, with no limitation. Precious, eternal favor!

Just as God's anger is but for a moment, so "weeping may endure for a night." The night of the Lord's absence from the earth, through which even today the saints of God must pass, is a time of trial of faith that may cause weeping. How much more so the night of the Great Tribulation, which will cause unspeakable sorrow and weeping to the godly in Israel.

"But joy comes in the morning." This will be wonderfully true for Israel, when the Sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings" (Mal. 4:2). The dark night will give place to the brightness of the coming of the Messiah of Israel to bless his people with the light of the perfect day. For believers today, it is the night of Christ's absence, when there are many trials of faith that may cause weeping, but the rapture will introduce the joy of the new beginning of another day. Wonderful prospect!

THE NEED OF CORRECTION (vv. 6-9)

How common it is that prosperity seems to encourage us to make our prosperity our confidence, to such an extent that we are sure we "shall never be moved." it is the same principle that animated the rich man of Luke 12:16-21, who said, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry." yet the very day he so spoke, the Lord told him, "Fool! This night your souls will be required of you."

In fact, the psalmist recognized that it was God who had made his mountain to stand strong (v. 7), and evidently because God had done this, he thought that now he was secure in his prosperity. But though God had done it, this did not mean that he was no longer in need of constant prayer and dependence on the Lord Himself. Thus, we may too easily deceive ourselves! Because of this lack of dependence, we are told, "You hid Your face, and I was troubled." The Lord is always jealous of our affectionate communion, and if we neglect this genuine communion He will see 'to it that we are troubled by the hiding of His face. Thus, we are troubled enough to "cry out to the Lord" (v. 8).

Such an experience also reminds us that there is merely a step between us and death, and the question arises, "What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise You? Will it declare Your truth?" (v. 9). It is natural to think this way, though having the knowledge of Christ raised from the dead surely changes our viewpoint greatly, so that the fear of death is taken away. Also, if we consider this verse with Christ as its Object, the profit in His blood is infinitely great beyond our understanding. Though brought down to the "dust of death," He is now exalted above all heavens.

A TRIUMPHANT EXPERIENCE (vv. 10-12)

This experience is triumphant because it begins with an earnest prayer, "Hear me, O Lord, and have mercy on me; Lord, be my helper".

(v. 10). There is no question as to God's answer, so that David speaks confidently, "You have turned for me my mourning into dancing: You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness" (v. 11). David's mourning was not only because of the oppression of enemies, but because of his own failure, yet the grace of God surmounted this, not only to give relief, but to fill him with joy and gladness. The sackcloth of sorrow and humiliation was exchanged for the beautiful clothing of gladness.

The end result of this is beautifully appropriate too. The lips of the psalmist are opened to sing praise to the Lord his God (v. 12). Is this not always the proper result of all true experience? — a wonderful contrast to being silent in mere self-commiseration. "0 Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever." This is no mere temporary, passing experience, but eternal. Blessed consideration!

Psalm 31

DELIVERANCE FROM THE ENEMY

This psalm will have its special appeal to godly Israelites who pass through the Tribulation, because of the many enemies who will threaten them; yet believers today have spiritual enemies — spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places, and it we realize the dangers of their constant subtle attacks, we shall much more appreciate the importance of such prayer as characterizes this psalm.

Since David puts his trust in the Lord, not only trusting Him for certain needs, but as it were depositing his trust in Him as a settled matter, then there is no reason whatever to be ashamed (v. 1). In fact, he can appeal to the Lord's righteousness for his deliverance, not simply to His grace, for it is an unrighteous thing for the enemy to attack one whose trust is in the Lord. He takes the lowly place, asking the Lord to "bow down" His ear to him (v. 2), realizing it is condescension on God's part to even listen to David. He wants a speedy deliverance from God, his Rock of refuge, and we know God will not delay this longer than necessary, but will act in His own time and way.

David's confidence is in the Lord as his rock and his fortress. The rock is the solid basis of his very existence, and the fortress is his all encircling defense. "Therefore, for Your name's sake, lead me and guide me." David does not ask this for his own sake, but for the sake of the name of the Lord. Since the Lord alone is his rock and fortress, this is reason for his confidence in God to go before him as Leader and to guide him also as he goes on his way.

DEPENDENCE (vv. 4-6)

Depending on the Lord as his stronghold, the psalmist pleads to be delivered out of the net secretly laid for him by enemies. We too need to be preserved from the wiles of the devil (Eph. 6:11), with which he seeks to entangle the saints of God, and we shall be preserved if we honestly depend on the Lord. "Into Your hand I commit my spirit" (v. 5). This was true even while David was living; but the Lord Jesus said the same words as He was about to die (Luke 23:46). His body went to the grave, but His spirit departed into the presence of God. Just as truly as God cared for the spirit of the Lord Jesus at that time, so He cares for the spirits of the all His saints at all times, this being absolutely true since He has redeemed us, that is, He has set us free from the bondage of sin. The means of His doing this is not told us here in the Old Testament, but we know it is by the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19). Then it is added, "0 Lord God of truth." In His redeeming us, there was no compromising of truth, but the truth was perfectly carried out in this great work.

Those who have the opposite character of observing lying vanities (or worthless idols) are anathema to the godly, and this will be specially emphasized when the lie of the antichrist is being pressed upon the people in the tribulation. However, with steadfast decision the psalmist says, "But I trust in the Lord."

PRESERVED AND BLESSED (vv. 7-8)

Dependence rightly leads to rejoicing in the preserving mercy of God — God who has observed the troubles of His servant and has understood his adversities, not allowing him to be shut up to the will of his enemy, but on the contrary, setting his feet in a large place. The enemy seeks to bring him into bondage, but God gives him wonderful liberty. For Israel the large place will be blessing in the millennium. But for the Church of God the large place is that of heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Blessed liberty indeed!

THE BITTER TRIAL OF FAITH (vv. 9-13)

As is often the case in the Psalms, the end in view is seen as accomplished (in verses 7 & 8) before the way to that end is shown us. What an encouragement to faith! Now we see that the way to that end is a severe test of faith. God does not minimize the feelings of His own in passing through the furnace of affliction, and the psalmist cries out for the mercy of God. He is so troubled his eye wastes away with grief (v. 9). Both his soul and his body feel the excessive weight of deep affliction. At times the body may suffer when the soul is not affected, or the soul may suffer when the body does not, but when both are afflicted the anguish becomes excruciating.

No doubt the time seems longer than it is to the sufferer. He speaks of his life spent with grief and his years with sighing (v. 10). In contrast to this Paul writes, "Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2 Cor. 4:17). Very likely Paul's suffering was just as severe as that of David, but his eyes were fixed on the glory, not on present experiences, so that his heart was lifted high above his afflictions. This always makes the sufferings seem light and less protracted. However, the psalmist speaks of his strength failing because of his iniquity, Paul knew something of this when he wrote Romans 7, but this was no longer true of him when he wrote 2 Corinthians, for then he knew that the question of his iniquity had been settled by the sacrifice of Christ. But the remnant of Israel will experience this distress during the tribulation, and especially in realizing their guilt in having previously rejected and crucified their Messiah.

At that time they will find themselves exposed to the contempt of many enemies, but also even of their neighbors and acquaintances (v. 11). For when taking a stand for Christ, the true Messiah, they will incur the bitter anger of their own Jewish friends and neighbors as well as the enmity of Gentile unbelievers. Even those who saw him outside would keep away from him, not wanting to be seen with one who was on the side of God's Messiah. "I am as a dead man out of mind" (v. 12). Such loneliness of exercise is surely painful; but how true this is concerning the Lord Jesus, whom the world considers as dead, in spite of every clear testimony that He is raised and glorified.

The psalmist says he was "like a broken vessel," unfit for any use. But of course, he is simply expressing his feelings, for the Lord makes all His own fit for His own use. "For I have heard the slander of many; fear is on every side" (v. 13). But while hearing such slander, there is no reason for the believer to listen to it. How much better to have his ear tuned to listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd, the voice that will have the final say, no matter how bold and forceful are the voices of the ungodly, — no matter how they take counsel together, thinking that the power of numbers will thwart the power of God! Indeed, though their plotting may result in the taking away of the believer's life, that victory will be short-lived, as is wonderfully proven in the history of the Lord Jesus, crucified by men, but raised by the power of God.

SECURE IN THE HAND OF GOD (vv. 14-18)

He has spoken of the ungodly and their evil scheming. Now the psalmist says, "As for me" Whatever men may do or be, he will simply trust in the Lord (v. 14), being persuaded, "You are my God." When this is so, what are all the enemies? "My times are in Your hand" (v. 15). To know this surely gives quiet peace in the midst of whatever circumstances, with the true confidence that his prayer will be answered, "Deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me."

"Make Your face shine upon Your servant" (v. 16). This is just what God has done in the sending of His Son into the world, "for it is the God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6).

For us today, having this treasure in earthen vessels, we have no reason to be ashamed or discouraged. Rather, with all confidence and boldness we call on the name of the Lord (v. 17), while those who are ignorant of His grace may well be ashamed and be reduced to silence in the grave. For there are many who do not hesitate to indulge in brazen falsehood, and their lying lips will be put to silence, however proudly, insolently and contemptuously they speak against the righteous.

A SONG OF VICTORY (vv. 19-24)

The heart of the psalmist expands with purest joy in contemplating the perfection of the victory the Lord has gained over every enemy on behalf of those who fear Him. There is no measure of the greatness of God's goodness which He has laid up for those who trust Him, "in the presence of the sons of men" (v. 19). There is no reason to hide from the sons of men the fact that we trust the Living God: It should in fact be evident in all our conversation and conduct. Yet God will hide believers in the secret of His presence from all the scheming plots of men. Why is this secret? Because the world does not understand it. Outside of that secret place is "the strife of tongues," the bitter, conflicting arguments of those who depend on their own empty reasoning.

More than this, the secret place is "a strong city" in which the Lord has shown His marvelous kindness (v. 21). There is no possibility of the enemy penetrating the walls of this city, though the psalmist had thought for a time that he was cut off from before the eyes of the Lord. But that fear was only brief, for God heard the voice of his supplications (v. 22). In His own time God always triumphs.

Therefore, he urges all saints to love the Lord (v. 23). Do they not love Him without being told to? Yes, of course, but the heart of the psalmist evidently desires that love to express itself more and more fully. The New Testament tells us, "We love Him because He first loved us" (1 Jn. 4:19), so that the more we enjoy His own love for us, the more will our love toward Him be expressed. "For the Lord preserves the faithful, and fully repays the proud person." The godly are preserved and fully delivered from the pride of those who would oppress them, who then find themselves bearing the bitter results of their pride. Since all is brought under the Lord's gracious control, it is surely fitting that believers are told, "Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord" (v. 24). Thus, the Lord gives the victory and in so doing identifies Himself with his own.

Psalm 32

CLEANSED AND BROUGHT TO GOD

This is the first of the "Maskil" psalms, of which there are thirteen altogether. Maskil means "giving instruction," and Psalm 32 deals with the proper relationship of the individual established with God. We can expect the other Maskil psalms to proceed from this point. In order, these are Psalms 42, 45, 52, 53, 54, 55, 74, 78, 79, 88, 89 and 142.

HAPPINESS — RIGHTEOUSNESS IMPUTED (vv. 1-2)

David was well qualified to write on this important subject. He does not say, "Blessed is he who keeps the ten commandments," for this would allow no blessing for anyone. But when he was faced with his own sin, he finally broke down in confession, and was assured by God through the prophet Nathan that his sin was forgiven (v. 1). Indeed, his sin was also transgression, the breaking of a known law, so that he had no semblance of excuse. It was no sin of ignorance: in fact, it was more serious than transgression: it was iniquity. Sin is positive, transgression is comparative, but iniquity is superlative; and David's guilt was absolute wickedness. Our greatest difficulties do not come from sins of ignorance, but from deliberately doing what we know is sin. yet one of the most difficult matters for us is to candidly confess our guilt.

However, verses 1 and 2 speak first of the blessedness of forgiveness, that is, of God's work of grace, before speaking of David's miserable experience. It is God who forgives, God who covers sin, in contrast to the natural efforts of men, of whom we are told, "He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy" (Prov. 28:13). Though David had not been taught the means of having his sins covered, yet God covered them by virtue of the one sacrifice of Christ on Calvary, which of course was well known to God in advance.

Though there could be no denying the fact of David's dreadful guilt, yet the Lord in marvelous grace did not impute iniquity to him (v. 2). Certainly the only way this could be true was by the Lord Jesus bearing that iniquity in His great sacrifice, and elsewhere we read that instead of God imputing iniquity to believers, He imputes righteousness to all "who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead" (Rom. 4:22-25).

But it is important also to observe a qualification of this matter: "and in whose spirit there is no guile." This contrasts with the deceit of attempting to cover up our sins, for it involves a frank, honest facing of our guilt before God, that is, being laid bare in His sight. The Lord Jesus spoke of Nathanael as one "in whom there is no deceit" (in. 1:47), indicating that he was not guilty of covering up his sins.

CONFLICT AND DELIVERANCE (vv. 3-5)

But David had been guilty of serious deceit, and refers to this in verse 3. He had kept silent, not confessing his sin to God; but God laid on his heart a virtual unbearable burden. How could his conscience rest when he had been guilty of adultery and murder? Being king, he could slip out of this stigma before the people, but he could not avoid having to do with God. His bones, the very framework of his body, he felt to be growing old through his long, protracted groaning. Both day and night he felt God's hand laid heavily on him (v. 4), so that his strength was dried up as "the drought of summer."

Added to this verse is the word "Selah," that is, "pause and consider." For it is not David alone with whom God works in this way, but every believer should seriously consider it when God uses means of bringing to our attention any act of disobedience, so that we might face it in honest confession.

Finally, David says, "I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden." Actually, he did not do this until God sent Nathan the prophet to him, to tell him a parable of a rich man who had mistreated a poor man (2 Sam. 12:1-4), and David pronounced the sentence of death against the man. Nathan told him, "You are the man!" (v. 7). Thus, David knew that justice would require his death, and was broken down in sober confession before God. There was no sacrifice provided in Israel for such a sin, as David intimates in Psalm 51:16, and being cast only on the mercy of God, he says, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart You will not despise" (v. 17). Therefore, he could say with full confidence, "You forgave the iniquity of my sin." Again, the word "Selah" is added, for we are to pause and consider the marvel of God's grace in His full and free forgiveness of a repentant sinner.

GOD HIS SANCTUARY (vv. 6-7)

But God does not merely forgive a sinner and leave him to himself. Rather, God becomes a sanctuary where one may find refuge from himself and his sinful tendencies. He may pray in simple confidence to the God who has forgiven him "in a time when You may be found," that is, in a time when the heart of the sinner is laid bare before Him. And he finds God's presence a wonderful protection from "the floods of great waters," the judgment that is naturally incurred through man's sin. God has become his hiding place: God will preserve him from trouble, and surround him with songs of deliverance, in fullness of joy Selah!

INSTRUCTION FOR THE WAY (vv. 8-9)

Just as Numbers follows Leviticus, so we should be prepared to walk on earth in obedience to God when wie have been so greatly blessed in His presence (as Leviticus teaches). Thus, the secret place is followed by the place of testimony. We may fully depend on the One who has blessed us, to guide and direct us aright. He promises this, that he will instruct and teach us in the way we ought to go (v. 8). Though we see no observable means of His guiding, yet He will guide us with His eye, a symbol of the leading of the Spirit of God. A master may only look at his servant, and the servant discerns by the look in his master's eye just what he wants. So we should be so accustomed to obey the Lord that in being near to Him we shall discern His will.

If we lack in this discernment, is it not because we are like the horse or the mule? (v. 9). These have to be controlled by a bit and bridle, for the horse may be too anxious to rush forward and the mule too stubborn to go when it should. Thus, we may too easily depend on our own instincts, whether to be too forward or too backward, instead of simply depending on the Lord. When once we have learned by experience the natural wickedness of our own hearts (as David had to learn by experience), how can we ever trust our own instincts for anything? This would be to lapse back into confidence in the flesh, which has already proven so futile.

REAPING WHAT HAS BEEN SOWN (vv. 10-11)

This is the fifth section of the psalm, — a Deuteronomic lesson. The result of the life of the wicked is "many sorrows" (v. 10). While the godly may have trial and sorrow, yet this is wonderfully tempered by exceeding joy which God gives even at times of deepest distress. We may sorrow, but not as those who have no hope, whose sorrows can never be relieved unless they turn in faith to the Lord Jesus. "But he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him." How good to recognize that mercy constantly surrounds us, guarding us from the deceitful attacks of the enemy. Indeed, in the measure in which we trust the Lord, so we shall find ourselves protected by His mercy. Thus, the simplicity of faith in Him brings marvelous results.

Well might we therefore respond to the sweet invitation, "Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; and shout for joy all you upright in heart" (v. 11). Thus, the psalm begins with the assurance of forgiveness, then adds the assurance of God's preserving the believer from trouble, and of teaching him in the way he should go, with deepest joy resulting.

Psalm 33

JOY SUSTAINED FOLLOWING REPENTANCE

This psalm shows that the results of true repentance are lasting, for such results give a true view of the greatness of God and his having all things under His sovereign control. Thus, God having been given His true place, there is every reason for unfailing joy and refreshment of heart.

GOD ALONE EXALTED (vv. 1-3)

Just as Psalm 32 ended with rejoicing in the Lord, so Psalm 33 begins in the same strain (v. 1). Should joy with us be merely temporary? This might be true if we had no solid, lasting basis for joy, but the believer is told, "Rejoice in the Lord always: Again, I will say, Rejoice" (Phil. 4:4). For his joy is based upon the Lord, who has marvelously worked to bring about eternal blessing to those who repent of their sins and trust this One who is absolutely faithful. "Praise from the upright is beautiful." Praise from the deceitful is empty flattery, but from one whom God's grace has made upright, praise issues from the heart, and God counts it beautiful.

Thus, praise honors God above all. Why is the harp mentioned here, or an instrument of ten strings? (v. 2). Because praise has a wide range of harmonious melody. The low notes are necessary to accompany the high ones. Even in the areas of lowest experience of sorrow and distress there may be true, heartfelt exultation. All the notes in between are necessary too to provide a sweet harmony of praise and adoration to Him who is worthy of far more than all the honor the whole universe can give. Thus there is a wonderful range of material in the Word of God concerning the Lord Jesus in all His relationships, His character and His many works, to move our hearts in adoration, both in personal worship and collective worship, including the breaking of bread.

Also, it is added, "Sing unto Him with a new song; play skillfully with a loud noise" (v. 3). This anticipates the millennium, when Israel will find reason far beyond the Old Testament for singing. The new song will however be sung before that time in heaven (Rev. 5:9), because of the great number from all nations who have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. It will be newly sung in heaven, though it is even now sung by believers on earth, members of the body of Christ, who delight now in singing the song of redemption (Col. 3:16). In heaven angels had never sung that song, for they needed no redemption, but when Christ brings His many saints to glory, that song will break forth there as never before.

WITNESSED BY GOD'S WORD AND WORKS (vv. 4-9)

"For the word of the Lord is right, and all His work is done in truth" (v. 4). These are absolutely reliable witnesses to encourage our adoration of His person. To know God's word is always right is a precious basis indeed for faith, and to know that all His work is done in truth surely encourages us to turn away from the works of men to have unshaken confidence in the One who acts in perfect truth.

More than this, "He loves righteousness and judgment" (v. 5). He is not a Mere judge who acts in righteousness, but He does so because He loves this. There are some who act rightly out of a sense of duty merely, but surely every believer should follow the example of the Lord Himself in loving righteousness and proper judgment. It is because of this pure love that "the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord." This will be fully true in the millennium, though not yet.

But verse 6 goes back to the beginning of creation, "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth." Even the heavens, — space itself — is a creation of God, created simply by His word; and the billions of stars created also by the breath of His mouth. We may feel that it must have taken ages of work for God to bring about the creation of so vast a number of heavenly bodies; but He speaks of it only as a mere matter of expelling His breath!

The way in which God has designed the earth — our present habitation — is amazing also, for over 70% of the earth's surface is water, yet it does not overflow the land. God gathers the waters together, for all the seas connect with one another. It is as though God designed the earth in such a way that it formed storehouses for the waters to be laid up (v. 7).

These marvelous facts surely call for the deep consideration of all mankind (v. 8), to cause us to fear the Lord with reverent awe and admiration. "For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded and it stood fast" (v. 9). All the visible creation was brought into being momentarily, just by the voice of the Lord. It was no process, but immediate creation. Scientists have recently advanced the theory of the big bang" to explain the suddenness of the appearance of matter, but they have no idea of what it was that exploded to cause the big bang. Yet we need not think there was any noise that accompanied God's word when He created all things momentarily.

TRUTH REALIZED (vv. 10-12)

Having established clear witness, the Lord shows that His counsels are to be realized for what they are: all opposition to them is rendered impotent. The counsel of the nations is brought to nothing, the plans of mere men being exposed as those of mere men, and brought to nothing (v.10). For God's counsel stands forever, His plans outlasting all generations (v. 11).

Verse 12 refers plainly to Israel, the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance. Of course, there are those who criticize His choice of such a nation — a nation that has failed so badly since He has chosen them. People take up the objection that God must not have known how evil the nation would prove to be. But of course, God knew perfectly well. What other nation would have proven better? Not one! For all are the same as Israel as regards their sinfulness (ro. 3:9) Why did God then choose them? Because He is God and has a right to choose whom He will. Though they have failed, yet He will restore them amazingly, and they will indeed be greatly "blessed." Also, other nations will be blessed through Israel, for God’s power and wisdom will accomplish marvelous things.

THE WEAKNESS OF THE CREATURE (vv. 13-17)

Though in His counsels God brings His own to a place of highest blessing, yet He also looks down from heaven to see and take full account of the condition and needs of the inhabitants of the earth. That condition is one of utter weakness and of dependence on power high above the earth (vv. 13-14)). But it is He Himself who fashions their hearts, everyone in a different way (v. 15), yet all utterly dependent. For the very activities of people's hearts are just as diverse as the appearance of their faces. But all their works too, which are their own responsibility, He fully considers. Indeed, it will be their works for which even unbelievers will be called upon to give account at the Great White Throne (Rev. 20:11-12).

History confirms what the word of God declares in verse 16, "No king is saved by the multitude of an army." While "the Syrians filled the countryside," and Israel encamped "like two little flocks of goats" (1 Ki. 20:27), the Lord told Israel He would deliver the great army into their hand (v. 28), and Israel killed 100,000 foot soldiers, so that Ben Hadad, king of Syria, was far from being saved by his own great army. He went into an inner chamber to hide ((v. 30). This is only one of many occasions that prove the truth of this verse.

Just as a mighty man has confidence in his own strength, which in the long run fails him, so he may also trust the strength of a war horse, but this is a vain hope, for eventually he will find even the great strength of the horse to fail him. So people choose many methods of self-defense which only prove to be useless in preserving them, because they are not depending on their Creator. But we all seem to be very slow in learning this most elementary lesson, that the strength of the creature in any form is pathetically weak and we require the strength of God to preserve us.

THE WEAK DEPENDING ON THE STRONG (vv. 18-22)

Though no deliverance is found in verses16 and 17, how blessed is the change in these following verses. Why? Because "the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him" (v. 18). This is the type of fear that drives them into His presence, and His eye of perfect discernment both inspires and approves them. For their hope is not in His justice, but in His mercy. It was this that Jacob depended on when he prayed, "I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant" (Gen. 32:10). Can God possibly ignore such a prayer? No: He delights in the confessed weakness and failure of a believing heart and His mercy is fully extended to them.

It is He alone who delivers their soul from death and keeps them alive when they have no apparent means of sustenance (v. 19). Thus, He is both our Savior and our Preserver. Therefore, when one realizes his own abject weakness and depends rather on the strength of God, he may rightly use the language of the apostle Paul, "when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Cor. 12:10).

If we really depend on God, then we shall not be in a rush to get the answers we deeply need, for His wisdom works together with His power. He may wisely delay an answer to our problems, and therefore it is essential that we learn well the lesson, "Our soul waits for the Lord" (v. 20). In order to prove His power, we must learn to quietly wait for His wisdom: in this way He sees fit to test the reality of our faith, then He proves Himself to be our help to enable us and our shield to protect us.

How rightly it follows then that "our heart shall rejoice in Him" (v. 21), for this joy is the result of trusting in His holy name. And in bowing to Him the psalmist asks for what he has confidence that God will answer, "Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us, just as we hope in You." This hope is not in any way doubtful, but a hope "sure and steadfast" (Heb. 6:19), that is, the confident anticipation of future unfailing blessing; and His mercy is the compassion of His care in all our present circumstances.

Psalm 34

THE LORD WITH US, GOVERNING GRACIOUSLY

The occasion of this psalm was a painful one in David's history. He had feigned himself to be insane to escape possible hard dealings from the Philistine king. Being in the wrong place, he resorted to wrong actions, but he no doubt had confessed and judged this failure before God, or he could not have written in the way he did in this psalm. While God in His wise government, dealt faithfully with David in making him feel the shame of what he had done, at the same time He showed the grace of His heart in drawing him to bless the Lord.

THE LORD WORTHY OF PRAISE (vv. 1-4)

"I will bless the Lord at all times" (v. 1). At the time he was deceiving Abimelech David was certainly not blessing the Lord, but at least now he was able to say this truthfully, for the Lord had used the occasion of his failure to bring about blessing in the end, as He does in the case of all believers when they judge themselves. David's soul, not only his intelligence, made its boast in the Lord, and when those who were humble in heart heard this they would be glad, for such dealings of God are an encouragement to the humble (v. 2). Therefore, David invited them to magnify the Lord with him and exalt His name together (v. 3). Just as there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents, so David expects others to share in his praise to God when he had repented of his sad failure. For God is certainly glorified by the exercise of His forgiveness.

While David had certainly not consulted the Lord in his going to Abimelech and deceiving the king, yet afterward he says, "I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears" (v. 4). He had been fearful, and for this he needed the Lord, who never disappoints the faith that honestly seeks Him.

GOD'S SALVATION (vv. 5-10)

Again, he identifies with him others who look to the Lord (v. 5). They are radiant or enlightened. For the light manifests everything as it actually is, so we are enlightened when facing facts as they are, not when deceiving. Only when facing facts honestly will our faces not be ashamed.

In verse 6 David refers to himself as being a poor man who cried out in his distress. "The Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles." For he fully realized that he was really helpless to save himself, but that the Lord alone was able to deliver him. In fact, "the Angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them" (v. 7). Generally, if not always, when the name, "the angel of the Lord" is used, it refers to the Lord Jesus Himself, who is preeminently the angel or messenger of God, as Malachi 3:1 declares.

Knowing thus the perfect protection and care of the Lord, David invites others to find this out for themselves, "Oh taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him" (v. 8). It is sadly true that there are some who taste and yet go no further to drink in the precious word of God (Heb. 6:4-8). But these are those who have cultivated a taste for corruption, and cannot discern how superior is the goodness of the Lord above the corruption of the flesh. They deliberately choose evil rather than good.

Verse 8 has been addressed to everyone, with the urgent initial word, "OH;" now believers are addressed just as urgently, "OH, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him"(v. 9). We have been told, "Blessed is the man who trusts in Him;" now that trust is to be evidenced by fearing Him, giving Him the place of dignity and honor that causes a true reverential fear, with no light, unsubdued attitude such as is common among men.

Even "the young lions lack and suffer hunger" their strength is not sufficient to supply their needs; but those who dependently seek the Lord shall not lack anything that is good for them. Of course, it is the Lord who decides what is good.

HOLINESS IN GOD'S GOVERNMENT (vv. 11-16)

David addresses "children" in verse 11, for it is those who take the children's place who are teachable, as is implied in the Lord's words of Matthew 18:3: "Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." For it is in that kingdom that we become learners. "I will teach you," not the deep truths of scripture, but "the fear of the Lord." Without this we shall never learn the deep truths of the word of God. But the fear of the Lord involves the realization of His holiness which is needed to keep us in our place.

"Do we desire life? — the life that is vital, spiritual, unfailing? (v. 12). If we have many days of this kind of life, we shall see good, but only on condition that we keep our tongues from evil and our lips from speaking deceit. Before James writes of the evils that a hasty tongue may be guilty of (James 3:5-10), he assures us, "If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body" (James3:2). Such perfection (or maturity) should be cultivated by every child of God.

Also, "Depart from evil and do good" (v. 14). We are not only to abstain from evil, but to depart from it, that is, to have no association with it, leaving the very sphere where it is practiced. This is a negative, but a positive is immediately added, "and do good." Do we take advantage of the many opportunities we have for doing good? If so, we should not have time for useless pursuits. "Seek peace and pursue it," or, as Romans 12:18 tells us, "If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men."

"The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous (v. 15), that is, approvingly and encouragingly, for the eyes speak of the Spirit of God, guarding and guiding His saints. "His eyes are open to their cry." He never fails to hear the honest entreaties that call for His help. But on the other hand, "the face of the Lord is against those who do evil" (v. 16). We have known "the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6), and in that face is pure truth, so that evil is abhorrent to it. Those who choose evil will have their very remembrance "cut off from the earth." This has special reference to the earthly blessings that are the portion of believers on earth in the millennium.

TRIED, BUT PRESERVED (vv. 17-18)

But though the righteous are not cut off with the ungodly, yet it is necessary that they should be tried. In their trial they cry out and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles (v. 17). Thus, the trial itself serves a good purpose, — that of casting souls dependently on the Lord to prove the value of His deliverance. We learn also through trial to "have a broken heart" (v. 18), which is so precious to the Lord that He is specially near to us in such experiences. Does it not also have deep effect on us to be reminded of the Lord Jesus in His facing the unspeakable sorrow of the cross, when He said, "Reproach has broken my heart, and I am full of heaviness"? Only when we have a broken heart will we properly value such words of the blessed Lord of glory. The trial of faith also leads to "a contrite spirit," a spirit that will save us from many pitfalls.

GOVERNMENTAL RECOMPENSE (vv. 19-22)

In God's wise government He allows the afflictions of the righteous to be many (v. 1:9), but His goodness toward them is fully equal to the need, delivering them out of them all. Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:18, "The Lord will deliver me from every evil work," though this deliverance did not mean he would not suffer. In fact, the evil work of Satan led to Paul's execution in prison, but by this very means he was delivered.

"He guards all his bones; not one of them is broken" (v. 20). This was literally true of the Lord Jesus (John 19:36), and in a different way true of believers; for the bones are the framework of the body, and the basic standing before God of all believers will be maintained intact through every tribulation.

On the other hand, "evil shall slay the wicked" (v. 21). He may think he has control of things through his evil actions, but like a boomerang they come back on his own head and he becomes the victim of his own wickedness. "And those who hate the righteous shall be condemned." It is God who has the sole right to condemn and He will bring such a recompense on those who hate the righteous. Thus, He defends those who trust him, by the condemnation of the enemy.

In contrast to this, "the Lord redeems the soul of His servants" (v. 22), that is, He redeems them from all that is contrary to them; and "none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned." Precious assurance!

Psalm 35

AN APPEAL FOR RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENT

The language of this psalm is by no means that which Christians today are expected to use. For we are privileged to live in the day of grace, when we may rightly prefer the language of the Lord Jesus, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do" Luke 23:34), or that of Stephen when he was martyred, "Lord do not charge them with this sin" (Acts 7:60).

But it will be perfectly right for Israel, during the Great Tribulation, to call to God for judgment on His enemies, for the day of grace will have passed, and the long patience of God will have come to an end. He bears with evil until He has exhausted every avenue of patience and men show themselves determined to defy the living God. In view of this we can well understand the cry of the godly for judgment on their enemies. Indeed, God puts such words into their mouths.

GOD'S POWER INVOKED (vv. 1-6)

The overflowing attack of the wicked against Israel will cause the godly to realize their abject helplessness, so that they cry out for the exertion of God's power on their behalf (v. 1). They are not equal to the fierceness of the fight and require power greater than their own to face the enemy. They desire the "shield and buckler" for their defense (v. 2), but also the spear to take the offensive against the power of evil, to stop those who pursue the righteous (v. 3). They also want God's assurance for their soul's comfort, in His saying, "I am your salvation." Thus, they desire His word to accompany His intervening power.

Their prayer will certainly be answered by the end of the Tribulation, "Let those be put to shame and brought to dishonor who seek after my life" (v. 4). We can little imagine the feelings of shame that will press upon those who have boldly and arrogantly persecuted the godly, thinking they had control of all the circumstances! They will indeed be turned back and brought to confusion, "like chaff before the wind" (v. 5).

"Let the angel of the Lord chase them." In their confusion they will run from the horror of a divine infliction, but finding no escape, they find instead that their way is dark and slippery, so that they proceed, terrified, to the destruction that is the result of their conniving ways.

THE PLEA AGAINST THE ENEMY (vv. 7-10)

Having no cause for it, the ungodly had a net hidden in a pit to catch the righteous, and were caught in their own net. This is the same result that Haman received by his building a scaffold on which to hang Mordecai. He was himself hanged on it! (Esther 7:9-10). Destruction came on him unexpectedly, as will be the case with the ungodly at the end of the Great Tribulation (v. 8)

In beautiful contrast, just as the Jews rejoiced after Haman's tragic end, so the godly will rejoice in the Lord and in the marvel of His great salvation when Christ is exalted as King of kings as the millennium dawns (v. 9). "All my bones," the very framework of the body, will respond, "Lord, who is like You, delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him, yes, the poor and needy from him who plunders him?" (v. 10). The tables will be so turned that Zephaniah 3:12 declares, "I will leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of Jehovah" (J.N.D.Trans.).

A RETURN TO PLEADING (vv. 11-18)

Though the psalmist has expressed genuine confidence in verse 9 and 10, yet in this section he returns to pleading with God on the basis of his giving no occasion to the enemy to persecute him as though he was guilty of wrong. They accused him of things that he knew nothing of (v. 11). In fact, he had been conscious only of doing good to his enemies, but they were rewarding him evil (v. 12). Even when they were sick, he humbled himself in prayer on their behalf. This attitude can be only that of one whose trust is in the Lord, for enmity on the part of one usually leads to bitter enmity on the part of those who are affected by it. But here David desired the blessing of enemies as though they had been friends or brothers, or even as his mother (v. 14).

Yet in his adversity they rejoiced (v. 15). No doubt the kindness and truth of his character was offensive to them, as was the case of those who persecuted the Lord Jesus. Those who are faithless themselves cannot endure the company of those who are faithful and gracious, for they feel condemned, resenting what they consider to be a "holier than thou" attitude. This is painful enough when one person engages in such persecution, but David says that "they gathered together." This was certainly true of the Pharisees in their plotting against the Lord Jesus. "When the Pharisees heard that He (the Lord Jesus) had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together" (Matt. 23:34). Of course, they did this to consult with one another as to the way in which they could attack the Lord.

"They tore at me and did not cease." If this was true of David, how much more of Christ! Because religious leaders could not endure His faithful teaching, they tried every artifice by which to attack Him. They could outwardly keep the feast of the Passover, yet indulging at the same time in ungodly mocking! (v. 16). David felt the fact of enemies gnashing their teeth at him, but the Lord's persecutors went further than this in spitting in His face and beating Him (Matt. 26:67).

"Lord, how long will You look on?" (v. 17). David knows the Lord sees this persecution, but cannot understand why He takes so long to intervene. However, the Lord has "long patience," which people too often mistake for indifference. But when David asks the Lord to rescue him from the destructive power of his enemies who are as vicious as lions, his pleading gives way to thanksgiving in verse 18; and this is not only in private, but "in the great assembly" and "among many people." For the triumph of the Lord, when it comes, will be so widespread as to affect great numbers.

SIN CRYING OUT FOR JUDGMENT (vv. 19-23)

David returns to his pleading, to ask God not to allow his enemies to rejoice over him, nor to wink with the eye in hatred toward him, for he is certain that he has given them no cause for this (v. 19). There is no peace even in their words, but in subtle deceit they plot evil devices against those quiet in the land, those who do not even stir the waves (v. 20). But evil cannot rest where good is being done.

"They also opened their mouth wide against me, and said, `Aha, Aha, our eyes have seen it"' (v. 21). Such men look for anything suspicious and add their imagination to it, using such contemptible methods by which to accuse the innocent. Of course, David knows the Lord has discerned all this (v. 22), and desires that God would speak out and not be far from His servant. He felt that God should quickly vindicate him. There was no vindication for the Lord Jesus all the time He was on earth; but God has vindicated Him by raising Him from among the dead, and that vindication will be known by Israel when He returns in power and glory. Today it is far wiser for believers not to plead for vindication in the sight of their enemies, but to wait quietly on God, who will eventually vindicate every believer.

TRUE JUDGMENT DESIRED (vv. 24-28)

Verse 24 is more rightly translated, "Judge me according to my righteousness, Jehovah my God" (Numerical Bible). Of course, it is not a prayer suitable for us today, but the godly in Israel will pray this way when oppressed in the Tribulation period. We know that the judgment of God is always according to truth, and we may patiently wait for God to bring everything to light.

The psalmist was concerned about what his enemies might say (v. 25), and even "in their hearts." What if it was true that they said these things? Did that make any difference in the final analysis? But he might have had fuller confidence that God would indeed answer his prayer of verse 26, for this is actually a prophecy of God's intervention on behalf of the godly. On the other hand, verse 27 is really a prophecy of the great blessing of the godly: Then restored Israel will speak gladly of God's righteousness and His praise "all the day long," which will mean the whole day of millennial glory, the thousand years of peace (v. 28).

Psalm 36

THE WICKED REFUSING A FAITHFUL GOD

This psalm is devoted "to the Chief Musician" who is Christ, with its exposure first of the callous enmity of the wicked against God, but then declaring the perfect faithfulness and truth of His own was as appreciated by those who are not blinded by evil, but who value truth and righteousness.

THE REBEL (vv. 1-4)

"An oracle within my heart" is evidently a God-given message that deeply affected the heart of the writer (v.1). It is "concerning the transgression of the wicked," which is not a matter of mere disgust, but of genuine sorrow, realizing that man's wickedness is the result of having "no fear of God before his eyes." It seems strange to a believer that a person can be so blinded as to adopt such an attitude of unbelief, and it is deeply sad.

"He flatters himself in his own eyes" (v. 2). How utterly blinded a person is to flatter himself! For he knows that he is actually sinful, and much more sinful than many others are, but, ignoring this, he seeks every means possible to justify himself while despising others, even "when he finds out his iniquity and when he hates." When he finds he is guilty of iniquity and his hatred of others comes to the surface, he knows well how to cover up rather than to frankly confess his evil.

Thus, his words are wickedness and deceit" (v. 3). Rather than facing his guilt, he adds to it by resorting to the contemptible wickedness of covering it by falsehood. He may have at one time been relatively wise, and perhaps had actually done good; but he puts a complete end to wisdom and goodness. Usually a person does not begin his history by determining to be evil, and at first may be relatively decent in his ways, but he gives in to the evil desires of his own heart in one or two things, and this very soon leads to more gross evil, until one becomes a complete victim of his evil character.

Even in the hours of night his thoughts devise wicked plans by which to gain his own ends (v. 4). "He sets himself in a way that is not good." It is not only that he slips into evil, but rather that he deliberately sets himself in a way that is not good. He can certainly not plead ignorance or weakness when his guilt comes to light, for he has planned to act wrongly. "He does not abhor evil," which abhorrence should certainly be the attitude of every believer. Indeed believers are often shocked at the cold, heartless wickedness of such unbelievers.

PRESERVED BY GOD (vv. 5-9)

How marvelous is the contrast in this section to the subject of the first section, for there we see the exposure of the actual condition of the wicked, while in verses 5 to 9 the character of God is revealed in all its pure blessedness, that which supplies blessing for mankind far beyond all that we could ask or think. His mercy is in the heavens (v. 5), that is, it is stored up where nothing can corrupt it. His faithfulness reaches to the clouds. What may be cloudy or obscure to us is no deterrent to the exercise of His faithful grace and care.

His righteousness is like the great mountains (v. 6). Here is the absolute stability of His character, which does not compromise righteousness in the slightest degree. Who else could show pure mercy and perfect righteousness at the same time? But God's mercy and righteousness are proven beautifully in the marvelous sacrifice of His own Son — righteousness judging sin without any lessening of the judgment, so that mercy might be shown to all who believe in this wonderful Savior.

No wonder His judgments are said to be "a great deep." They show far deeper wisdom than man could possibly imagine. Then it is added, "0 Lord, You preserve man and beast." Thus, God cares for man in tender concern, but also the beast, for beasts are given by God for the blessing of mankind. God is the great Preserver of both.

"How precious is Your loving-kindness, O God!" (v. 7). Such loving-kindness is so uncommon that it is found nowhere else, so that it gives us every encouragement to put our trust under the shadow of His wings. Wonderful place of comfort and rest! And the provision of nourishing spiritual food is abundantly satisfying, — not satiating, but satisfying (v. 8). Our thirst too is perfectly met by the fresh, refreshing water of the river of God's pleasures. It is no stagnant pool, but the water of life flowing in unhindered consistency, always available, just as a springing fountain that is so welcome to a thirsty traveler. Added to this is the lovely assurance, "In Your light we see light." There is no spiritual light save in Him who is "the light of the world."

FAITH REWARDED (vv. 10-12)

Well might the psalmist desire God's loving-kindness to continue, and also that the feet of the wicked might not come against him. Indeed, he knows God will make them fall, to never rise again.

Psalm 37

GOD CAUSING THE RIGHTEOUS TO INHERIT THE EARTH No prayer is found in this psalm, but God's declaration of the blessing of believers, though it is primarily believers in Israel, looking forward to their being blessed in the millennium, when they inherit the land God has promised them. Actually, believers today may greatly benefit by this psalm, but their inheritance is far higher — reserved in heaven for us (1 Peter 1:4).

PERPETUAL BLESSING FOR THE RIGHTEOUS (vv. 1-11)

Verse 1 recognizes that evildoers may prosper and grow rich in the world, so that there is danger of believers becoming envious of them. Should a believer use the same dishonest methods they do to gain their ends? No indeed! How much rather be content to be poor than to succumb to dishonesty! For the wicked will very soon be cut down, just as grass becomes withered and is cut down in a very short time (vv. 1-1). What a contrast this is to the perpetual blessing of those who trust in the Lord! Thus, verse 3 urges, "Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness." True trust in the Lord will always encourage one to do good. In such a case there is no doubt of one's being preserved in the land, (not being rooted out as Israel has been in the past), and being fed there as in quiet resting places.

But trust in the Lord will lead further, to "Delight yourself also in the Lord" (v. 4). In finding in Him our undivided pleasure, we shall without fail be consistent with His own pleasure. If our delight is in ourselves, then our desires would be selfish, but when one's delight is in the Lord, it is His pleasure that we will desire.

Added to this is the exhortation, "Commit your ways to the Lord, trust also in Him, and he shall bring it to pass" (v. 5). In practical experience we need this daily, for each day has its special needs, and only the Lord can be depended on to rightly guide us, so that we do not make false steps. When we once commit our way to him, He expects us then to have confidence fully in His leading, not being fearful, but trusting Him for every step, with confident assurance of faith. When this is so, "He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light and your justice as the noonday" (v. 6). How good indeed are the eventual results of the faith that consistently confides in the faithfulness of the Son of God.

Then when we have known in experience the faithful grace of our Lord, we may quietly "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him" (v. 7). This is true soul-prosperity in the face of trials that may threaten to upset us. No matter how prosperous the wicked become, there is no real reason to fret or feel unfairly treated. Faith can always rise above such things. If wicked schemes succeed for ungodly men, this is only temporary. it may raise our anger to see wickedness prospering, but we should regard this as a test for ourselves, as to whether we have the self-control to cease from anger and forsake wrath (v. 8). We ourselves will not profit by fretting, but rather suffer harm from such an attitude.

For there is no doubt whatever that in the end "evildoers shall be cut off" (v. 9). We need only the eye of faith that looks beyond the present, and is content to "wait on the Lord," for in His own time He will cause those who wait on Him to "inherit the earth." of course it is godly Israelites who are specially in mind here; for believers of the present age look forward to an inheritance in heaven.

For it is only "a little while and the wicked shall be no more" (v. 10). How swiftly and how totally the tables will be turned! Though one may then look carefully for those who at one time prospered so greatly, their place will be gone, never to be regained.

"But the meek shall inherit the earth" (v. 11). Those who had forced their way to the top will have been reduced to the bottom, while the meek — those who did not at all force themselves — will receive a blessed inheritance in which to "delight themselves in the abundance of peace." May we learn well to be "meek and lowly in heart."

THE SWORD OF THE WICKED DESTROYING THEM (vv. 12-15)

This section is confined to the subject of the wicked, their guilt and its solemn results. They plot against the righteous as the Pharisees plotted against the Lord Jesus (v. 12). Their hatred is so deep that it moves them to gnash their teeth. Why is this so? It is certainly not because they are harmed or threatened by believers. Rather, it appears clear as can be that the godly character of believers is a testimony that grates on their consciences, and they resent being exposed by a testimony so contrary to their own character.

But the Lord laughs at the folly of such people, for he knows that a day of retribution is coming (v. 13). They may be fearful of the future, but choose to ignore it nevertheless. Drawing their sword, they are confident of victory, or they may bend their bow; but God will turn their sword against themselves, to pierce their own hearts, and their bows will be broken in their hands. Thus, the pride of man defeats his own ends!

THE BLESSING OF THE RIGHTEOUS (vv. 16-20)

What seems to the wicked only a little that the righteous has, is in reality much more than the abundance the wicked gather in their lifetime (v. 16), for what the righteous has is eternal, but the wicked loses all he has gained in his life, Figuratively his arms shall be broken, that is, his ability to use his arms for gaining what he wants will completely fail him (v. 17); but since the righteous trusts in the Lord, not in the strength of his own arms, the Lord will uphold him.

"The Lord knows the days of the upright" (v. 18), that is, He takes account of every day, so that the upright may have perfect peace in entrusting each day to Him. In fact, "their inheritance shall be forever:" The accumulation of days will only add up to an eternity of blessing. Therefore, in the time of evil they shall not be ashamed (v. 19). Such times will not be few, but how can they ever affect one whose inheritance is eternal? Even in days of famine they shall not lack, but find calm satisfaction.

In contrast, the wicked shall perish (v. 20). Their apparent prosperity is only for a moment. Every enemy of the Lord will find this true, for they are like the bright splendor of grass in the meadows, withering very quickly, dried up to be fuel for the fire and vanishing in smoke.

THE WAYS OF THE RIGHTEOUS AND THE WICKED (vv. 21-29)

The character and actions of the wicked are in this section contrasted to those of the righteous. The simple fact of borrowing and not repaying is wickedness (v. 21), but how many there are who are guilty of this! But the righteous show mercy, not only lending, but giving: he can well afford to do this since he has an eternal inheritance. For those who are blessed by God shall inherit the earth, that is, the godly of Israel; but others, righteously cursed by God, will be cast off (v. 22).

Though Romans 3:12 tells us, "There is none who does good, no, not one," yet here in Psalm 37:23 it is declared, "the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord" ((v. 23). In Romans the fact is stated that none can be called good in an absolute sense, but in this psalm, it is the case of those who are comparatively good considered, that is, those who seek to honor the Lord in their ways. When this is so, the Lord will order their steps, protecting them from harm. Such a person will delight in the Lord's way. It may be that he will suffer falls, but he will not be totally cast down, for the Lord knows how to restore any wandering believer (v. 24), His hand being stretched out in tender compassion, as is seen in Matthew 14:29-31 when Peter, walking on the water, began to sink, and called out to the Lord. The Lord immediately stretched out his hand and rescued him.

David looks back over his entire history, from youth to old age (v. 25), and declares that he had never seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging for food. How significant an observation indeed! Rather than begging, the righteous are constantly merciful, and lend, and such lending is without insistence on being repaid! Such a character will have its lasting effects on his descendants, who will therefore have cause for profound thankfulness (v. 26).

In view of what the psalmist has already written, he might well admonish us, "Depart from evil and do good," for only this will entitle us to "dwell forevermore" (v. 27). He adds what has already been established, that "the Lord loves justice." This being so, He will not forsake His saints: rather, he will preserve them forever, while the descendants of the wicked will be cut off (v. 28). And again, we are reminded that the righteous shall inherit the land and dwell in it forever (v. 29). Why should this be repeated so often? Because of our naturally doubting minds, and God desires that we should fully accept the truth of what he says.

THE WAYS OF GOD (vv. 30-40)

If we have seen the ways of men in the previous section (both of believers and unbelievers), now we see the ways of God with men. Verse 30 shows God's working in the heart of a believer to move him to use his mouth to speak wisdom and to talk of justice. "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matt. 12:34) Thus, what one speaks indicates his character, as indeed is shown in verse 31, "the law of his God is in his heart." And when the heart is right, the steps will not slide, rather they will progress steadily and certainly.

Also, the Lord is in perfect control when the wicked narrowly watch the righteous to seek his destruction (v. 32). His evil intentions are thwarted by the Lord Himself, who will not leave the believer in the hands of the ungodly (v. 33). If the ungodly pass judgment against the child of God, God will not condemn him, which is the one matter of importance. We might well echo Paul's words, "With me it is a very small matter that I should be judged by you or by a human court." (1 Cor. 4:3).

Because we need it, we are often told in scripture what verse 35 repeats, "wait on the Lord, and keep His way." This is in view of the fact that the wicked are entrenched against the righteous. The righteous can well afford to wait on the Lord rather than to foolishly take matters into their own hands. In waiting they will eventually be exalted to inherit the land (the land of Israel), and they will see God's cutting off of the wicked (.v. 34), without their help.

In verse 35 the psalmist tells us that he has witnessed wicked people enjoying great power, like a tree spreading out to large proportions, seemingly entrenched so as never to be depreciated. But "he passed away. and behold, he was no more" (v. 36). Some wicked kings reigned for several years, others only for a very brief time, but all died. In fact, the longer they reigned, the more they added to the stench of their memory.

Now we are bidden to take full account of the blameless man and to observe-the upright. For he may be ignored by great numbers, his very character dismissed as being too lax in fighting for his own rights, but in contrast to the one who spreads himself, the end of his pathway is peace (v. 37). "But the transgressors shall be destroyed together" (v. 38). Their bonds formed for selfish ends will be found to be bonds that unite them in destruction, cut off from the earth.

"But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord." he knows how to deliver them from any adversity or enemy. And in the midst of trouble he is their strength to enable them to bear whatever trial He may allow them to have (v. 39). If help is needed, He will supply it; if deliverance, He will not fail them in any way, both delivering and saving them (v. 40), simply because their trust is in Him.

Psalm 38

THE RIGHTEOUS TRIED BECAUSE OF THEIR OWN SIN

Psalm 37 has in some measure seen the righteous being tried, but because of the opposition of the ungodly. Psalm 38 emphasizes the trial as resulting from the sin of the believer himself. The New Testament shows that there will be governmental results of an unpleasant character if believers are disobedient. In fact, "the time is come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?" (1 Peter 4:17).

CONVICTION (vv. 1-4)

Because lie is deeply convicted of the guilt of his own sin, the psalmist is dreadfully alarmed in having to face God about this. We can understand this if we consider that it is only in the New Testament that we find the clear knowledge of being justified by the grace of God because the value of the sacrifice of Christ. But without this knowledge of perfect redemption, the anguish of conscience because of sin is deep indeed. The psalmist feels God's wrath as a terrifying rebuke and the heat of God's displeasure (v. 1). It seems to him that God's arrows are piercing him deeply and that God's hand presses him down (v. 2).

Because he has no realization of a purged conscience, as New Testament believers have found (Heb. 10:2), his very bones, the framework of the body, seem to have lost their strength and his iniquities have virtually gone over his head as waters enveloping him (vv. 3-4). The whole experience is too heavy for him to bear. Of course, this is true: there is only One who could possibly bear the burden of iniquity, and thank God the Lord Jesus has willingly done this for us at Calvary.

HUMILIATION (vv. 5-8)

This experience is indeed a humiliating one. Anyone who has had to face the guilt of his past knows something of this, for it crushes our pride down to the dust. Such wounds are foul and festering (v. 5), repulsive even to the sufferer. Troubled, bowing down and mourning with no respite (v. 6), he bears this bitter distress. His loins, where physical strength is normally centered, are full of inflammation and there is no soundness in his flesh (v. 7). "Feeble and severely broken," he groans because of the turmoil of his heart. It seems he is having difficulty expressing what he really feels.

REFUGE ONLY IN GOD (vv. 9-15)

At least in this section there is some measure of relief when the psalmist bows before God, where his desire will surely find an answer (v. 9), though his heart falters, his strength fails and the light of his eyes becomes dim (v. 10). He feels deeply the fact of his closest relatives and friends showing no sympathy (v. 11), while enemies are seeking his life by laying snares and secretly planning deception continually (v. 12).

He is wise in not fighting back, but as a deaf man does not apparently hear, or like one mute who has no answer. Why is this? He answers it simply, "For In You, Lord, I hope. You will hear me, O Lord my God" (v. 15). Thus his only hope and confidence is in God.

SEVERE TRIAL (vv. 16-20)

But God will not answer without putting His servant under trial. This trial began because of the sin of His servant, but it was increased by the hatred of enemies. It was not his sin the enemies hated, but his faith in the living God. If his foot slipped, they took advantage of this to mock his faith and magnify themselves, though their sins were more gross than his (v. 16). "For I am ready to fall," he says (v. 17). Will he fall? No, no more than Peter would sink when he began to sink (Matt. 14:29-31). And though his sorrow was continual, yet he would declare his iniquity and be in anguish concerning it (v. 18). This in itself is half the battle, so that the trial is about to bear fruit in blessing, even in the face of his enemies being strong and vigorous, and though the number of those who hate him is multiplied (v. 19). Of course, it was painful for him to consider that he had adversaries who made a practice of rendering evil for good, but this was only part of the trial that God allowed him because in reality of truth he followed what is good (v. 20). Notice in all of this that while he honestly confesses before God his guilt in dishonoring Him, yet his guilt did not include any bad actions toward others.

A FINAL APPEAL TO GOD (vv. 21-22)

It seems hardly necessary that he should appeal to the Lord not to forsake him. Certainly, God would not forsake one whose heart is opened before Him; but we can understand why he would plead thus with God when we consider his anguish in going through the bitter experience he has faced (v. 21). Was God far from him? No, not at all, though he had felt so. And the time has seemed so long that he asks, "Make haste to help me, O Lord my salvation!" Indeed, when the full answer eventually comes, we shall not then feel that the suffering was too long, but rather will gladly realize with Paul, what we should be able to say now, "Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2 Cor. 4:17).

Psalm 39

MAN'S FRAILTY

There are just two sections in this psalm (verses 1-6 and 7-13), but both are occupied with man's low condition, the first with the emptiness of his life and the second with God's judgment as to it, with no real relief such as the New Testament provides: in fact at the end, the psalmist says, "Remove Your gaze from me" rather than, "Look upon the face of Your Anointed" (Ps. 84:9). Thus, it ends on a negative note.

THE EMPTINESS OF LIFE (vv. 1-6)

David here faces the exercise of considering both his present temptations and his eventual end. Because our words express what is in our hearts, he was concerned to guard what issued from his mouth, specially while the wicked were present (v. 1), for they know how to use a man's words against him. Keeping silence gave him occasion to think soberly, and this stirred up sorrow within him (v. 2). While musing the fire burned (v. 3. Is it not important that we too take time to meditate rather than letting our tongues loose?

However, the time comes to speak, but not at first to men, rather in prayer to the Lord: and what he says is a very important example for us, "Lord, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am" (v. 4). What a contrast to the many who want to pride themselves on their imagined energy and ability? if we think we are proficient, let us consider the measure of our days. Old age exposes the futility of our proficiency! And sickness often comes before old age, so that our frailty is always present, however strong we may think we are. As verse 5 indicates, our age is as nothing, supposing it is 100 years! — and "every man at his best state is but vapor," as is confirmed in James 4:14, "For what is your life" It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away."

Another simile is used in verse 6, everyone walking like a shadow. Of course, a shadow has not substance, and similarly, our lives have no lasting substance, for we are here and gone. We occupy ourselves with temporal things, which are really in vain. We heap up riches. What for? Whoever inherits them will find the same experience of futility!

GOD'S JUDGMENT TRUSTED (vv. 7-13)

But if we find that our condition is one that requires discerning judgment, there is only One who can discern and judge properly. The psalmist then turns to the Lord in whom alone he can have hope (v. 7). He desires to be delivered from all his transgressions (v. 8). Can God, the Judge of all, be consistent with righteous judgment in delivering one from his transgressions? Though David desired this, he did not know the truth of the Book of Romans, where it is plainly declared that God "might be just and the Justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus" (Rom. 3:26). This is simply because of the great value of the sacrifice of Christ.

Verse 9 begins as did verse 2, referring to David's keeping silent, and he gives the reason here, "Because it was you who did it." he realized God was speaking to him in the adversities he bore; and he asks that God would remove His plague from him (v. 19). Whether this was physical or psychological, or both, we are not told, but when David realized that God was rebuking him for his sin, all confidence in himself melted away like a moth. But also, it told David that, not only he, but every man is vapor. Thus, personal experience is valuable in giving us a true perception of the character of all mankind.

This section closes with prayer, with David entreating that God would hear him, and not only hear, but respond rather than be silent (v. 12). "For," as he says, "I am a stranger with You, a sojourner, as all my fathers were." Is this not a most precious word for us? If we are made to feel as strangers in the world, how good to know that God is a Stranger here too! This was certainly proven when God came down in the person of the Lord Jesus, even His own people not receiving him (John 1:11). All of David's believing forbears were strangers too, but they had the fellowship of God!

Finally, David says, "Remove your gaze from me, that I may receive strength, before I go away and am no more" (v. 12). He has found that God can find no good in him, therefore, let God no longer even look at him. This is only the negative side of the subject, but if he is to find strength, it will not be in God's observing his sinful condition. In fact, the positive side is seen in Psalm 84:9, "0 God, behold our shield, and look upon the face of Your Anointed." Rather than God's looking at us, how good it is for Him to look upon the face of the Lord Jesus as our Substitute. This will indeed give us regained strength, even before we leave the scene of present trial.

Psalm 40

THE PERFECT OBEDIENCE OF ONE

This psalm is very clearly the burnt offering psalm, just as Psalm 22 is that of the sin offering and Psalm 69 that of the trespass offering. The burnt offering all went up in fire to God, signifying that Christ's sacrifice of Calvary was primarily all for the glory of God. Thus, the Lord Jesus is seen here as totally obedient to God. By His obedience even unto death, "many will be made righteous" (Rom. 5:19). Wonderful indeed are the results of His devoted obedience unto death! Untold millions will be proven the recipients of the marvelous grace of that sacrifice.

UNDEVIATING OBEDIENCE (vv. 1-12)

The aspect of the offering of Christ in this psalm is different from Psalm 22. No mention is made of the agony of His being forsaken by God, just as in John's Gospel (the Gospel of the burnt offering) the cry of His abandonment is not mentioned. The emphasis is rather on Christ's obedience to God, which was pure delight to the Fathers' heart. Indeed, at the same time that God abandoned the Lord Jesus during the three hours of darkness when He suffered for our sins, the heart of the Father deeply valued the obedience of His Son in the work of His sacrifice. Then the psalm begins with the words of the Lord Jesus, "I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined to me and heard my cry" (v. 1).

He does not dwell at all on the anguish of His sufferings, though He mentions the fact that He had been in a horrible pit (v. 2), from which God Himself had released Him. The horrible pit was a place from which naturally one could not extricate himself. This required the intervention of God, who raised the Lord Jesus from among the dead and set His feet upon a rock, establishing His steps, the rock is a contrast to the miry clay, and speaks of Divine stability. "Who is a rock, except our God" (Ps. 18:31). And just as clearly, "that Rock was Christ" (1 Cor. 10:4). Being God, He is certainly the Rock. But in this psalm, He is considered rather as the perfectly obedient Man whom God rewards for His obedience.

God too has put a new song in His mouth, for in resurrection Christ is the head of a new creation, so that the song is that of praise for redemption accomplished. How true it is too that many have seen and discerned the truth of this marvelous work, and moved with godly fear. This is the fruit of the travail of His soul (Isa. 53:11). Those who thus respond in making the Lord their trust are called "the blessed" (v. 4). They have learned that "the proud" are a contrast to the Lord Jesus in His lowly sacrifice: how can they respect such pride? They have learned the truth as it is in Jesus, and cannot approve those who turn aside to lies.

"Many, O Lord my God, are Your wonderful works which You have done; and Your thoughts toward us cannot be recounted to You in order" (v. 5). God's works both in creation and redemption are certainly beyond our ability to count, and deserve our wondering admiration.

As in nearly the entire psalm, it is the Lord Jesus speaking in the 6th verse. God did not require from Him the offering of animal sacrifices as He did from Israel in the Old Testament. Rather, God had opened His ears. The opened ear speaks of his willingly hearing and obeying the voice of God. Rather than burnt offerings and sin offerings, the Lord Jesus says, "Behold, I come; in the scroll of the book it is written of Me, I delight to do Your will, O my God, and your law is within my heart" (v. 8). This surely means that He Himself came to replace all the animal offerings by His accomplishing the will of God, as none other ever could do. Of course, this involved the offering of Himself in sacrifice. Was there any law that required Him to do this? No! He delighted to do the will of God, even though this involved suffering more dreadful than any suffering that might be endured by any others. Of course, the Lord Jesus did not delight to suffer. In fact, He pled with the Father to allow Him to be spared that agony, but added, "nevertheless, not my will, but Yours, be done" (Luke 22:42). He willingly did the Father's will, though this involved setting aside His own will. Certainly, His will was perfectly right, but He gave up His own rights in favor of what would please the Father.

During His life on earth He could say, "I have proclaimed the good news of righteousness in the great assembly." Thus, prior to the offering up of Himself, He faithfully honored God by His consistent proclamation of the truth of His word. He had not refrained His lips, as some would who were not prepared to suffer for the sake of the truth of God. He had not hidden God's righteousness within His heart, — that righteousness that reveals everything as it really is, thus in many cases making men uncomfortable.

He had declared God's faithfulness and His salvation. How true this was of all His pathway of service on earth! God's faithfulness is vitally important as being totally dependable (v. 10). Therefore, we may fully depend on the truth of His salvation, — a salvation deeply needed by all mankind, yet which they commonly ignore. In fact, this salvation involves His loving-kindness and His truth. If men could have the loving-kindness without the truth, they might accept this, but in God's salvation both are absolutely necessary, and they form a beautiful combination.

Having such a basis for prayer, surely He will have a complete answer to His request of verse 22, "Do not withhold Your tender mercies from Me, O Lord; let Your loving-kindness and Your truth continually preserve Me." Certainly the Lord Jesus knew perfectly well that this would be true, but it is precious nevertheless that His dependence on the living God is so clearly expressed.

For it is in view of the sufferings of the cross that He speaks in verse 12: "For innumerable evils have surrounded Me; My iniquities have overtaken Me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of My head; therefore My heart fails Me." He felt and confessed these innumerable sins as though they had been His own, though personally "He did no sin" 1 Peter 2:22), and "in Him there is no sin" (1 John 3:5). But on the cross, He suffered for the sins of tremendous numbers of people, and the agony of that suffering is beyond any ability we have even to understand, let alone enter into.

CONTRASTING RESULTS (vv. 13-17)

"Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver Me: O Lord, make haste to help Me" (v. 13). It is interesting that this last section of the psalm is repeated in Psalm 70. In that case, since it follows Psalm 69, the trespass offering psalm, it emphasizes the fact of the Lord's resurrection after His great sacrifice, as it does also here in Psalm 40, following the burnt offering. We know this prayer is perfectly answered today in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Thus, the results of His great sacrifice are seen in His being raised from the dead, totally defeating the power of the enemy. The result therefore for those who refuse the Lord Jesus is confusion and destruction, as verses 14 and 15 show. Those who sought His life thought they had gained the victory when they crucified Him, but His crucifixion was their own terrible death-knell, for God raised Him from the dead. Their mocking words, such as "Aha, Aha" (v. 15), came back as a devastating boomerang to utterly confound them.

But what of the results for those who seek the Lord? They have perfect reason to rejoice and be glad in Him (v. 16)., just as we are told in John 20:20 on the very day of His resurrection: "Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord." Every believer loves His salvation accomplished by means of the cross and His resurrection; so that we never tire of continually responding, "The Lord be magnified," — for we have a vital part in the value of that salvation. Though by nature we are "poor and needy" (v. 17), yet we remember that the Lord of glory became poor and needy on our behalf, and it is those in such need, not the wealthy and self-sufficient, whom the Lord delights to think upon. He is their help and their deliverer, and he will not delay His help any longer than necessary.

Psalm 41

THE CROSS, AS SEEN BY FAITH AND BY UNBELIEF

At the end of Psalm 40 we have seen the results of the sacrifice of Christ as regards unbelievers and as regards believers. Now in Psalm 41 we learn how the believer responds to the shame of the cross, and on the other hand, how the unbeliever regards it.

SPIRITUAL UNDERSTANDING (vv. 1-3)

These verses apply to every believer in the Lord Jesus. They are happy because they have understanding as to the One who "became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich" (2 Cor. 8:9). The depth of the poverty of the Lord Jesus is seen only in the agony of the cross, and only in understanding its message is true happiness found (v. 1).

"The Lord will preserve him in time of trouble." Even in the Great Tribulation, those who turn to the Lord will be preserved, being kept alive and blessed on earth (v. 2). If this is true for tribulation saints, how much more so for believers of the present time whose inheritance is not on earth, but in heaven. In that case, they may not be kept alive on earth, but they will be kept alive in heaven. Whatever the case may be, the Lord will not deliver any believer to the will of his enemies. This is negative, but is followed by the positive assurance, "The Lord will strengthen him on his bed of illness; You will sustain him on his sickbed (v. 3). Surely this contemplates a condition of things that causes afflictions such as illness, so that circumstances may be far from favorable; but in the circumstances the believer is promised the sustaining grace of God.

THE ENMITY OF UNBELIEF (vv. 4-9)

In these verses the Speaker is the poor Man Himself, the Lord Jesus, who speaks from the viewpoint of His voluntary poverty. While believers have understood concerning Him (v. 1), unbelievers have only disdain for the One who has come in lowly grace with the wonderful object of bearing away the sin of the world (John 1:29). He pleads in verse 4, "Lord, be merciful to Me; heal My soul, for I have sinned against You." This may be translated, "I have borne sin toward You," but in any case, He himself personally had not sinned, but as in Psalm 42:12 He confessed the sins of others as though they had been His own. He has taken the responsibility for them in His sacrifice on the cross; and sadly, He was regarded even as a criminal by unbelievers.

His enemies spoke of Him, "When will He die, and His name perish?" But they went further than this" they deliberately murdered Him, and thought by this that His name would perish (v. 5). Did this happen? Far from it! In resurrection His name has been highly exalted. When on earth men conspired against Him as in the case of the Pharisees seeking to trap Him in His words, they would afterward falsely report His words. Thus, their hearts continually gathered iniquity (v. 6).

"All who hate me whisper together against me" (v. 7). This was the character of the religious leaders of Israel when the Lord was working many miracles of grace. They were plotting continually to put Him to death, though they could not accomplish this until God's time. They imagined that Christ had "an evil disease" (v. 8), for He had acknowledged that He was the Son of God. and they thought this a horrible evil. How blinded they were! When he laid down in death, they were vainly confident that He would "rise up no more." In fact, they were so determined the He would not rise that they sealed the grave and set a watch of four soldiers at a time to make sure He did not come forth!

Such were His enemies: but more sadly still He says, "My own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me" (v. 9). Of course, this was Judas, who did not do this out of personal hatred, but out of contemptible greed. Thus, this section (from verse 4 to verse 9) expresses the attitude of unbelievers toward the poor Man of verse 1.

The wickedness of enemies (manifest or covert) is emphasized in this psalm, though nothing is said of how the Lord's heart was affected by the fact that in the hour of his great sorrow, even His own disciples "forsook Him and fled." Thus, the extreme loneliness of His sufferings was complete. May believers at least today be more deeply concerned to "consider the poor Man", and willingly identify themselves with Him, though He is still "despised and rejected by men."

"By this I know that you will be pleased with me, because the enemy does not triumph over me" (v. 11). It was impossible that the enemy could triumph over Him, for God had before announced, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matt. 3:17). So that His triumph over the enemy was the proof that He is God's beloved Son. In all His pathway on earth God upheld Him in His integrity, and in resurrection He has set Him before His face forever (v. 12).

How beautiful is the ascription of praise to God that closes this psalm, or rather, that closes the first book of 41 psalms, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen."

Psalms 42-72 (Second Book)

ISRAEL'S RUIN AND FUTURE REDEMPTION

The first book of Psalms has dealt especially with the subject of God's greatness and faithfulness, above all seen in the Person of His beloved Son as the Source of all blessing for mankind, so that it is truly the Genesis group of Psalms. Now the second book compared with Exodus, showing Israel up in a state of ruin and departure, and showing God's sovereign grace and power in redeeming them, as will be fully accomplished by the end of the Great Tribulation. Thus, the activity of enemies is prominent in these psalms, with the antichrist heading this activity.

Psalm 42

THE CRY OF LONELY DISTRESS

Just as Exodus begins with the people of God suffering great distress under Egyptian bondage, so this book of psalms begins with a crying out to God for His intervention in the sorrows that afflict His people. Psalm 42 is addressed to the chief Musician, who is Christ, but is called "a contemplation of the sons of Korah." Korah was swallowed up by the earth opening, but the sons of Korah did not die in his rebellion (Num. 26:11). Thus, they picture the future remnant of Israel, sons of a rebellious father, but brought in faith to God through tribulation.

AN APPEAL TO GOD, HIS ONLY RESOURCE (vv. 1-5)

There is no doubt that the trial of lonely suffering is the reason for the psalmist's thirsting for the living God, for sadly, this thirst needs to be awakened. We do not long for water until we are thirsty. Thus, it is God who brings us down to such a point of thirst by allowing hard circumstances. In the heat of the day a deer pants for the water brooks (v. 1). Water symbolizes the word of God (Eph. 5:26), and when flowing (as does the brook), this emphasizes the energy of the Spirit of God in making God's word vital to the soul (John 7:38-39).

This thirst is very real, for it can be satisfied with nothing less than the living God (v. 2), nor is the psalmist afraid (as were mere religionists) to come and appear before God: In fact, he deeply desires this, but while longing for God's intervention, he speaks of his tears being his food day and night. No doubt this contemplates the suffering of the godly remnant of Israel in the tribulation period, suffering that is unabated for what seems a long time. They let it be known that their trust is in God, but this causes the mockery of unbelievers. If there is a God, where is He? is their question (v. 3. For He does not seem to be helping them at all. But God works in His own time and in His own way.

These things cause him to pour out his soul in agony (v. 4), for he remembers that he had gone with a crowd to the house of God. For the temple will have been rebuilt before the middle of the tribulation period, with sacrifices being resumed for a time until the beast of Rome stops this recognition of the God of Israel (Dan. 9:26-27) at the middle of this seventieth week of Daniel. Of course at this time the remnant will not clearly recognize Christ as their true Messiah, but will have been awakened to realize that they must expect the Messiah to come. Thus, they could go to the temple with the voice of joy together with a crowd who kept "a pilgrim feast." Certainly some of the crowd would be there because it seemed a proper thing, not because of faith in the living God. But when this observance is canceled, the few who are true believers will be deeply distressed.

"Why are you cast done, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me?" (v. 5). Surely he felt that since his trust was in God, there was no proper reason for him to be cast down. So he encourages himself to hope in God, with the confidence that he would yet praise Him for the help of His countenance. Just to look into the Lord's face would mean wonderful help to him, for that face looks with genuine compassion on His own, but also with approval of every responsive action for His sake, that is, action moved by faith in the living God.

DISTRESS AGAIN EMPHASIZED (vv. 6-11)

Though faith has lifted up the psalmist to a height of confidence and assurance, yet in experience he is plunged again into depths of distress, as will be true for the remnant of Israel in the tribulation period. Again he speaks of being cast down, this time speaking directly to God, telling Him his problem (v. 6). Yet a ray of hope penetrates his soul as he says, "Therefore, I will remember You from the land of the Jordan, and from the heights of Hermon, from the hill Mizar." Jordan is the river of death, flowing as it does into the Dead Sea. How vital it is that we should apply the death of Christ to our own circumstances! Hermon speaks of the "ban" against evil, that is, God's faithful; judgment of all evil, which will be the outcome of the tribulation. The hill Mizar means "the hill of littleness," for God's work brings all mankind down to their proper level, just as Saul of Tarsus was brought down, to be called "Paul," which means "little." This takes time to learn, calling for genuine patience.

"Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls. All Your waves and billows have gone over me" (v. 7). It is as though the depths of suffering go deeper and deeper, yet is recognized as the work of God behind the scenes, the sound as it were of a waterfall, or waterfalls combining in alarming its victims. Thus, the psalmist felt that all God's waves and billows had gone over him. Such will be the feeling of the remnant of Israel in the Great Tribulation, yet it is only their feeling, for the fact of suffering all God's waves and billows is true only of one Sufferer, the Lord Jesus Christ, who bore this alone at Calvary.

The Lord will command His loving-kindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me — a prayer to the God of my life" (v. 8). The future daytime of the millennium will indeed prove the reality of God's loving-kindness, but even in the night of trial there may be singing, as was true on the night of the Lord's betrayal to His enemies (Mk. 14:26). This was virtually a prayer also, "to the God of my life," for though death may be imminent, God's end in view is life.

Again, though he has confidence that God is his Rock, he questions God as to why he has forgotten him (v. 9). For the enemy still oppresses, causing him to mourn. He feels as though his bones are virtually broken, for his enemies continually reproach him with the mocking question "Where is your God?"

Finally, he repeats his question to his own soul (v. 11), "Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me?" But he knows the One who answers, if he does not fully know the answer, "Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God."

Psalm 43

DELIVERANCE FROM ANTICHRIST SOUGHT

As did Psalm 42, this psalm contemplates the Tribulation period, but Psalm 42 seeks deliverance from the enemy nations, while Psalm 43 deals with the enemy within Israel, that is, the false christ, who will be the head of an ungodly nation, Israel itself. Today we are faced with a similar situation, not only having enemies of Christianity to contend with, but enemies of the truth of God under the guise of being Christians, set to undermine the pure truth of the Word of God, as is told us in 1 John 2:18, "Even now many antichrists have come."

When the psalmist says, "Judge me, O God" or "vindicate me" (v. 1), it is evident he seeks God to judge as to all the circumstances in which he is found. Are those deceivers who pretend to be true leaders going to triumph over the godly" Certainly God knows the entire condition of things, and His patience will come to an end with such conniving wickedness. Actually, the time of the antichrist's exaltation will be very brief, no more than five or six years, yet it will seem long to the godly remnant. The antichrist will be "a man of deceit and iniquity," of whom we read, he "opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, showing himself that he is God" (2 Thess. 2:4). It is shocking to think that the majority in Israel will welcome such a deceiver as their Messiah!

Of course, five or six years of continual suffering does not seem a short time when one is passing through it, and the psalmist pleads that actually God is the God of his strength: why does it seems as though God has cast him off? (v. 2). Is there a reason that he is mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? Of course the immediate cause of his mourning is the enemy's oppression, but he knows that there must be a cause behind that — a cause for which God allows such a thing. This is true, but he does not perceive the reason.

Therefore, he pleads, "Send out Your light and Your truth! Let them lead me" (v. 3). Actually God's light and His truth are always operative in the history of the believer, but often we do not discern it, and want it to be more manifest in our experience. In fact, he adds, "Let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your tabernacle." This will certainly be true, though the time seems long. "Then I will go to the altar of God, the God of my exceeding joy" (v. 4). With the future being so clearly positive as this, should we at present be cast down? In fact, "on the harp I will praise You, O God, my God." The harp, with its ten strings, speaks of the full range of worship, embracing every aspect of our lives, so that our souls are filled with the joy and adoration of the Lord.

Thus, the future being settled, with its unspeakable joy and blessing, the psalmist may well question as to why he is cast down and his soul disquieted (v. 5). There is no proper reason for his depression. He realizes this and advises himself to "hope in God," for his trial is of short duration: He would yet praise God, who is Himself the help of his countenance, and his own God. How true this will be for the godly remnant of Israel when the Lord Jesus takes His place of total authority over them and the nations in the millennium.

Psalm 44

REMEMBERING PAST DELIVERANCES

In this psalm the faith of the godly remnant of Israel is stirred by the remembrance of God's grace to Israel in early days, His delivering them when they were without strength; though the circumstances then were far different than those of the Tribulation will be. But if God was sufficient then, can changing circumstances ever find him to be insufficient?

THE POWER WAS GOD'S ALONE (vv. 1-3)

Through their fathers Israel had heard of God's great power "in the days of old" (v. 1), though they might have learned this more fully by reading God's Word. Now that they were in great trouble themselves, could they count upon this power to deliver them? God had driven out the nations who occupied the land of promise (v. 2), for it is certain that Israel had not the power to accomplish such an object. It was God who planted Israel in the land and afflicted those who had usurped the land that God had purposed to give to Israel. While Israel used their swords in conquering the land, it was not their swords that accomplished the victory (v. 3). This would have been impossible if God had not been their strength. It was God's right hand, His arm, and the light of His countenance that made all the difference, because of His sovereign favor to Israel.

DELIVERANCE COMING FROM GOD (vv. 4-5)

God being recognized as King, in total authority, His Word of command will stand. He commands deliverance for Jacob (v. 4), and therefore, through His power, the weak nation will trample those who rise against them (v. 5). This is spoken in fullest confidence: there will be no doubt about it.

DEPENDENT ONLY ON GOD (vv. 6-8)

Israel will not trust in his own armaments, for they would prove useless in the end (v. 6), but in depending only on the living God they have been saved from their enemies (v. 7), who are fully put to shame with all their opposition and hatred. It will always be Thus, when we depend simply on the God of Jacob, and we, as well as they, have reason to boast in God all day long, and praise His name forever (v. 8).

BUT PRESENT PAINFUL TESTING (vv. 9-14)

In total contrast to the previous verses, this section returns, as do the previous psalms, to consider the deeply painful circumstances that try the faith of the godly. For Israel, in spite of God's previous kindness to her, has departed from the path of simple faith, and the godly must feel the results of this out of love for their own nation. They feel God has cast them off and put them to shame, not supporting their armies, but rather leaving them to flee from the enemy (v. 9). Then to add to such humiliation, the enemy has taken spoil from them (v. 10).

They were like sheep, dependent and helpless, given up as food for the enemy (v. 11), and scattered among the nations, this being literally true, for now for centuries Israel has been a people dispersed in every direction. they felt God was selling them, but receiving no payment for them. Little did they understand that God was going to be highly honored and glorified through the dreadful experiences that Israel endures, For their eventual restoration will mean that God has profited tremendously.

Meanwhile, Israel feels the reproach of neighbors, not only by distant enemies, but being scorned and derided by those around them. The nations made her a byword, shaking their heads in derision. Today this is clearly true, for there are many who even dare to claim that Israel is the cause of all the trouble and terror the world is suffering. Of course this is stupid ignorance, but inspired by Satan in his hate toward God.

DRIVEN TO CLING TO GOD (vv. 15-21)

The continual dishonor and confusion causes deepest exercise of soul (v. 15), and he says, "the shame of my face has covered me," this stemming from the reproach and reviling of the enemy (v. 16), who is also called an "avenger," for while one of this kind has no real reason for hostility, he likes to think he is right in avenging what he imagines to be wrong.

But, appealing to God, the remnant claim they have not forgotten Him or dealt falsely with His covenant. No doubt this is true, though not for all Israel, so that the godly will be suffering both from the outside enemy and from their brethren according to the flesh. They feel the pain of the adversity more deeply because they do not feel they deserve it. Neither in heart had they turned back nor in their steps had they faltered from the path of truth, yet they found themselves severely broken and covered with the shadow of death (vv. 18-19). They could understand such affliction if they had forgotten the name of God or had been led astray by idols (v. 20), but would not God search this out? He knows the secrets of the heart (v. 21). But they must learn a deeper lesson.

In all the deep distress of Israel which seemed more than they could understand, there was one most vital lesson that God desired to press on their hearts. That is, He intended the godly to feel the pain of the disobedience of all the nation Israel since they were part of that nation. This is the truth of eating the sin offering, which was the duty of the priests in Israel (Lev. 6:24-29); and which was beautifully true above all in the Lord Jesus, who was perfectly without sin, yet felt the sin of His people as though it was His own.

PLEADING FOR A LIMIT (vv. 22-26)

"Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter" (v. 22). Since they were identified with the Lord, they were treated the same as He: they were figuratively "killed all the day long." Actually, when suffering for Christ's sake, we should rejoice and be exceedingly glad (Matt. 5:11-12); and if we are counted as sheep for the slaughter," we should remember that the Lord Jesus "was led as a lamb to the slaughter" (Isa. 53:7), and it is really an honor if we are privileged to endure treatment similar to His. But Old Testament believers did not have the actual knowledge of the sacrifice of Christ, and did not have Matthew 5:11-12 to rest upon. So instead of rejoicing, they cry to the Lord to awake! and to arise! (v. 23). Such a cry is only from lack of faith, for "He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep" (Ps. 121:4).

But feeling that the Lord was hiding His face from them, they assume He is forgetting their affliction and oppression (v. 24). Thus, though faith shines through occasionally in all these exercises, yet experience has so loud a voice that faith is often obscured. Their soul was bowed down to the dust, their body clinging to the ground (v. 25). How difficult it is for us to find grace to rise above our circumstances!

Verse 26 is another plea for God to no longer delay an answer to their evident distress. Why He is silent when they are so oppressed seems too difficult for them to understand. "Arise for our help, and redeem us for Your mercies' sake." No doubt they little realize that it is not only redemption by power they need, but redemption by blood, only to be found at Calvary.

Psalm 45

THE GREAT DELIVERER INTRODUCED

The previous psalms have cried out for deliverance from the power of the enemy, and this deliverance is seen in Psalm 46. But more important than the deliverance is the One who delivers, and in Psalm 45 it is Thus, the glory of the Messiah Himself that is emphasized. The psalm is addressed "to the Chief Musician," who of course is Christ, and "among the lilies" which generally grow, in the valleys, Thus, emphasizing the lowly character of this wonderful Person, with His purity and beauty. It is "a contemplation of the sons of Korah," the man who died in his rebellion, though his sons did not. (Num 16:21-36; Num. 26:11). They picture therefore, the sons of a rebellious father, the very character of Israel in the last days. It is truly "a song of love."

THE KING'S PREEMINENCE (vv. 1-2)

Well may the psalmist's heart overflow in his spontaneous composition concerning so great a King (v. 1). This can be no other king that the Lord Jesus, for it speak of the King. The tongue of the writer is moved by his heart as he realizes how infinitely fairer is this King of glory than all the sons of men (v. 2). "Grace is poured upon Your lips." How true this was in all His life on earth. When He spoke in His own city Nazareth, we are told, "all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth" (Luke 4:22). The result of His life and His death was that "God has blessed You forever," raising Him from among the dead and seating Him at His own right hand (v. 2).

CONFLICT WITH ENEMIES (vv. 3-5)

But the proclaiming of grace is followed immediately by the execution of judgment, for His grace has been despised and rejected by the world. What a contrast therefore, between the first two verses and the third! "Gird Your sword upon Your thigh, O Mighty One, with Your glory and Your majesty" (v. 3). Of course this is a prophecy of that which has not yet taken place, for it looks on the end of the Great Tribulation. The day of grace has been marvelously lengthened to about 2000 years. Still, God's patience will eventually come to an end, and Christ will "ride prosperously because of truth, humility and righteousness" (v. 4). This reminds us of Revelation 19:11-16, where the King of kings comes forth on a white horse, to completely subdue His enemies under His feet.

Where grace is rejected, truth will triumph, and humility will be rewarded, for the suffering humility of the Lord Jesus will then be realized by the world to have been strength, not weakness. Righteousness too will be displayed in all its purity as perfectly carried out by the King of glory.

When the judgment of God must be poured out upon a rebellious world, the right hand of the Lord Jesus will teach Him awesome things. For people will be filled with awe and wonder at the sight of His great conquests. Revelation speaks of the sword of His mouth, but Psalm 45:5 adds to this the sharp arrows by which the people fall under Him. Thus, when the Lord arises to judge His enemies, there will be both short range and long range warfare. He can overcome from any distance as easily as at close range.

MANIFESTED AS BOTH GOD AND MAN (vv. 6-8)

The grace of the King's lips and the might of His glory in subduing all things under Him is now followed by a declaration of the glory of His Person. Hebrews 1:8 quotes God's own words to His Son, as verse 6 of our chapter declares, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom." When God addresses Him as God, who can dare to dispute this great truth? Those who do so will find the same dreadful end that Satan, the father of lies, will suffer!

The deity of Christ being first established, now in verse 7 the perfection of His true Manhood is insisted on. His history on earth has proven Him to have loved righteousness and hated wickedness, as the Man of purest character. Therefore, God, who is said to be "Your God," has anointed Him with the oil of gladness above His companions (v. 7). Thus, though He is absolutely and eternally God, He is just as truly Man, but a Man above every other man, though some are said to be His companions. Of course, these are believers, who have been identified with Him because of the value of His sacrifice on their behalf. Philippines 2:9 shows Him to be highly exalted and given a name above every name, as a result of His willing sacrifice on Calvary.

"All Your garments are scented with myrrh, aloes and cassia." His garments symbolize the habits that characterized Him in all His life on earth, producing a fragrant odor that attracts a glad response. Myrrh speaks of suffering under pressure, as is seen in Smyrna (Rev. 2:8-11), and the sufferings of the Lord Jesus, even before the cross, were such as to deeply affect our hearts when we think of the lowly patience with which He met these. It may be difficult to discern the significance of the aloes and cassia, but at least the mention of them should stir us to more deeply appreciate the fragrance of His entire life and character.

"The ivory palaces" may remind us of Solomon's making "a great throne of ivory" which was overlaid with gold (2 Chron. 9:17-19), yet we know of no actual palaces of ivory to which this might refer. Is it possible these palaces may speak of heaven? We can think of no other scriptures that might aid us in coming to any decision about this matter.

EARTHLY RELATIONS (vv. 9-12)

This section shows the earthly relations that Lord Jesus will have in the millennial age. No doubt this earthly is a picture of the heavenly, for the Lord Jesus will have His heavenly bride the Church in heaven with him, but though he will not remain personally on earth, there will be honorable women to celebrate His preeminence, and Israel will be the queen dressed in gold from Ophir (v. 9). The honorable women will include kings' daughters from among the Gentiles.

In verse 10 the queen is addressed as "daughter." Thus, she is both daughter and bride at the same time. For she has been born again by His sovereign grace and power, and is Thus, His daughter; but she has also been betrothed to Him as his bride (the earthly bride). Similarly, though the Church is His bride (the heavenly bride), every individual is by new birth His child. Both relationships (child and bride) are precious, each teaching a different line of blessing and responsibility. Now this daughter (as the bride) is enjoined, "Consider and incline your ear; forget your own people also and your father's house." Just as any young lady, being married, is to leave her natural relationships and her father's house, so Israel, born again, is to put her natural relationships in the background, and to be devoted to the Lord, the King. This will be beauty in the eyes of the King, for "He is your Lord, worship Him" (v. 11). If this will be true as regards the earthly bride of Christ, how much more true of the bride who has a heavenly inheritance, the Church.

To this great celebration "the daughter of Tyre will come with a gift (v. 12). Tyre was the maritime nation that had contact with all the nations, so that likely the mention of her is intended to imply that many nations will join in celebrating the victory and preeminence of the blessed King of kings. Also, even "the rich among the people will seek Your favor." It is usually the poor who seek the favor of the rich, but in comparison to the wealth of the Lord Jesus, the wealth of the richest will be only poverty: they will need something more than natural wealth.

MANKIND WITH GOD vv. 13-17

We have seen the truth of Christ's earthly relationships, now one more marvelous is presented, a relationship to God which has been established by the Lord Jesus for the blessing of those redeemed by His blood. It has been made clear that the queen in this chapter is the earthly bride of the Lord Jesus. But this is only one aspect of the dignity with which she is blessed. She is also "the King's daughter" (v. 13), referring to the fact that she has been born again, just as believers today are blessed with new birth, and Thus, are children of God, as well as being unitedly betrothed as the bride of Christ. We cannot depend on any earthly relationship to illustrate these two distinct truths together, though earthly relationships can illustrate, separately, the blessing of both facts.

First however, "the King's daughter is all glorious within"(v.13). Some translators have thought it necessary to add the words "the palace," but this involves a painful lack of discernment, for it is God's view of her that is emphasized here, just as is true in 1 Peter 3:4, speaking of a godly wife, whose adornment should be "the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God." It is new birth that makes this wonderful difference in her from others. But also, her clothing is of "wrought gold" as mined from the earth , but worked upon by an expert. This is a reminder of 1 Corinthians 1:30: "But of Him (of God) you are in Christ, who became for us wisdom from God — and righteousness and sanctification and redemption." Thus, God's workmanship gives believers this beauty on the outside as well as inwardly.

She is therefore, brought to the King in robes of many colors (v. 14), just as Joseph's coat of many colors (Gen. 37:3) indicated the many various virtues of godliness, primarily seen in the Lord Jesus. The bride has also companions who are virgins, no doubt Gentiles who are drawn by the grace of God to share in the blessed privilege of faith in the living God. It is the pure grace of God that brings them to come with gladness and rejoicing to enter the King's palace (v. 15).

"Instead of your fathers shall be your sons, whom you shall make princes in all the earth." (v. 16). It is the bride addressed here, including all true Israelites. In the past they had made much of their fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; but in the future they will have more joy in their sons than in their fathers, for their sons will have such faithful character as to be made princes in all the earth, for they will be virtually sons of the King.

But verse 17 ends the psalm with God's declaration to the King, His beloved Son, "I will make Your name to be remembered in all generations," for in the thousand year reign of this Sovereign there will of course be many generations, all living at the same time, for the godly will live through the entire millennium. "For as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of my people" (Isa. 65:22). Through all that time His people will not grow weary of praising Him, nor indeed for eternity!

Psalm 46

GOD FOR US

The glory and majesty of the King having been established in Psalm 45, now we see the perfection of the deliverance and blessing He brings to His people Israel, He Himself remaining among them (v. 11).

GOD SUFFICIENT (vv. 1-3)

Just as Psalm 45:6 is clearly addressed to the Lord Jesus, calling Him God, so Psalm 46:1 speaks of the King of kings as "God." Seven times in this chapter the name "God" appears, and in every case it refers directly to the Lord Jesus. Though Israel will then be going through the throes of the Great Tribulation, the godly remnant will greatly value this precious assurance. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (v. 1). During this time two-thirds of the nation "in all the land" shall be cut off and die (Zech. 13:8), yet the one-third remaining will be encouraged to use such language as this psalm puts in their mouths, "Therefore, we will not fear" (v. 2). If in the face of the greatest horror the world has ever seen, the godly can have such confidence, how much more should we, in view of the very minor afflictions we may have to face!

"Even though the earth be removed." This may be rendered "the land" rather than "the earth." for it speaks of the nation Israel as it has been for centuries removed from their homeland. The mountains being carried into the midst of the sea signifies the authorities in Israel being assimilated by the sea of the Gentiles (Rev. 17:15), as has been true for centuries, and in the tribulation will be true in the sense that Gentile powers will be the chief influence in the politics of Israel. How deeply affected will the godly be through such shaking events!

It might seem that Israel can never be recovered, and even some Christians have entertained such thoughts. But God has before furnished the remnant of Israel with such scriptures as Psalm 45, that they might express their firm confidence of faith in their true Messiah, the Lord Jesus, before ever He reveals Himself in judging the world. The waters of the nations will roar and be troubled, and the mountains, typically the governments of the world, shake with their inability to control the agitation of the masses of men.

THE DELIVERANCE (vv. 4-7)

In contrast to the heaving, roaring seas, "there is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High" (v. 4). The seas symbolize the commotion and trouble of the whole world, its waters not even fit for human consumption, its waves battering against each other, with no rest, no calmness of peace. But the river comes from above, flowing in one direction, with its fresh, pure water to refresh a weary land. This no doubt refers to the river spoken of in Ezekiel 47:1-12, flowing from the temple in Jerusalem down to the Red Sea, healing the waters of the sea. This awaits the coming millennium, and is figurative also of the river of water of life proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb (Rev. 22:1) to bless the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem. Of course this speaks of spiritual refreshment and blessing that will have no end.

But in Psalm 46 it is the city of God on earth spoken of, made glad by the constantly flowing river of God's blessing. "God is in the midst of her" (v. 5). This is the same God who says, "Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20). Thus, the Lord Jesus will have the same place of central importance in Israel as He does now in the Church of God. No wonder "she shall not be moved" as she has been in many centuries past.

"God shall help her just at the break of dawn." What a relief for the constantly beleaguered city of David! The Great Tribulation will be the darkest time of the night for Israel and the world. But the dawn will come quickly. "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning" (Psalm 30:5). "The Sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings" (Mal. 4:2). His coming to Israel in power and glory will be the answer to the sorrows they have long endured. This is the introduction of the Millennium of settled peace.

How much is involved in the few words of verse 6! "The nations raged," and today we already see that rage increasing, particularly in the middle east, with Israel at its center. "The kingdoms were moved," practically every nation affected in such a way as to take part in the agitation that will prevail. "He uttered His voice." For centuries there has been no intervention by God, and what a shock it will be when the Son of God suddenly speaks in awesome power and majesty! But the first effect mentioned is that "the earth melted," that is, the land melted, for it refers particularly to the remnant of Israel left in the land after two thirds have been cut off in death. Their hearts will be melted down in deep repentance, as Zechariah 12:10-14 tells us, "They will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for His only son." They will realize as never before that Jesus is the great Messiah whom Israel had rejected, and will be melted down in profound repentance that will move the whole remnant of Israel. What reason indeed for the addition of the word "Selah," — pause and consider! How marvelous an answer to all the sorrows that have engulfed that nation for centuries!

GOD GLORIFIED (vv. 8-11)

When Israel is delivered, then they will have time and leisure to consider the marvel of God's work of judgment and purification He will make on earth (v. 8). Great edifices that men have built to celebrate their skill and their pride will be brought down to the humiliation of total desolation. Indeed, if peace is to be established, it must be by means of judgment, and the Lord Jesus alone will have power to put an end to wars (v. 9). Today there are many who organize to demand of governments that war must not be engaged in; but their methods are hopelessly futile. It is like ordering the waves of the sea to cease their tumult! Only One could successfully do this, as the Lord Jesus did in Mark 4:38-39, which is a picture of His eventually speaking peace to a world of tumult. All the implements of war, the bow, the spear, the chariot, He will render inoperable, whether by cutting or by fire. Then Israel will not learn war any more. Wonderful relief!

"Be still and know that I am God." Who is God? The very One Israel rejected when He came in grace. Now He will be exalted among the nations, and also in Israel, "the land." Now verse 11 repeats verse 7. Why? Because verse 7 is initial, but verse 11 indicating that the presence of this great God and Savior is permanent. Wonderful grace!

Psalm 47

"THE PEOPLE OF THE GOD OF ABRAHAM"

The deliverance of Israel having been beautifully seen in Psalm 46, now the great resulting blessing of the nation is described, blessing that is the answer to God's promise to Abraham centuries ago. Again, the psalm is inscribed to the Chief Musician, the Lord Jesus, and with the sons of Korah chiefly in mind, the sons of a rebellious father, as is the character of Israel today, therefore, the recipients of pure grace.

ISRAEL, GOD'S CHOSEN PEOPLE (vv. 1-5)

The words of this section are put into the lips of Israel in view of their millennial blessing. They bid all peoples to clap their hands in approval of God's goodness to Israel, to shout to God with the voice of triumph. Nor is there any doubt as to the significance of the name of God, for He is called "The Most High" and "a great King over all the earth" (v. 2), perfectly descriptive of the glory of the Lord Jesus in the Millennium.

Certainly, He will subdue the peoples of the earth, but more explicitly He will subdue them under Israel (v. 3). The nations have treated her as "the tail" but she will be the head in that day, a complete reversal of her place in the world. Besides this, it is the Lord who will choose their inheritance for them (v. 44). Other nations today are making every effort to displace Israel from the little space of land she has been claiming, but she will have obtained more in the coming day. For the Lord calls them "the excellence of Jacob whom He loves." However undeserving Jacob has been, God's counsels of pure grace stand inviolate: no nation will ever displace them when God gives them their inheritance.

"God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet" (v. 5). In Psalm 46 we see God coming down to Israel to deliver them: now we read of His going up, and with a shout of victory. For having established peace on earth, He will return to heaven to reign over the earth. This verse reminds us that God has come down to suffer and die, and having accomplished redemption, He has gone up in triumph.

ISRAEL'S TESTIMONY TO THE GLORY OF MESSIAH (vv. 6-9)

The adoring worship of Israel to the Lord Jesus will continually resound after this. "Sing praises to God, sing praises" (v. 6). Then also, "Sing praises to our King." Of course this King is the Lord Jesus, which is as clear as can be in verse 7, "For God is the King of all the earth." Just as in Psalm 46, where seven times the name God refers to this blessed Savior, so it is in Psalm 47, eight times. Seven is the complete number, and eight denotes a new beginning, Thus, in each case the number is appropriate. Little wonder that verse 7 adds, "Sing praises with understanding." Israel was before far from understanding that their Messiah must be God himself: now what a difference!

"God reigns over the nations" (v.8). Christ is the perfect representation of God. At present He sits on His Father's throne (Rev. 3:21), but then He will sit on His own holy throne, for it will be clearly manifest then that He is both the eternal God and the sinless Son of Man in one blessed Person. "The princes of the people have gathered together, the people of the God of Abraham" (v. 9). God has not forgotten His promise to Abraham (Gen. 15:5), though Israel's history has been far from commendable, and unworthy of such a promise. Now the nation, once scattered and separated, will be gathered together in a unity that will remain intact. "For the shields of the earth (the land) belong to God." The only protection for Israel will be that of the living God, the Lord Jesus. Though they have sought other protectors, all will have failed. The Lord alone remains "greatly exalted."

VICTORY OVER THE LAST ATTACK ON ISRAEL

Psalms 46 and 47 have seen the triumph of the Lord over all those enemies that congregate against Israel in the Great Tribulation period, so that Israel will not see evil any more. But there will be another attack against that nation after peace has been established, as Ezekiel 38-39 shows, The prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal from the far north, and others with them, Persia, Ethiopia and Libya, will see Israel now as "a land of unwalled villages," a people "dwelling safely, without walls and having neither bars nor gates." Because Israel will have no armaments, no defenses at all, these nations will be very confident of their ability to destroy them and rob their country of all their possessions. But Israel will totally depend on their Messiah and will not be disappointed (vv. 4-8).

God will intervene by turning these enemies against one another as well as sending an earthquake, with pestilence and bloodshed, flooding rain, great hailstones and brimstone (Ezek. 38:18-23). Israel will remain calmly at peace, with no need to defend themselves. At that time, how greatly will they marvel over their years of folly in rejecting their Messiah!

Psalm 48

THE ENDURING CITY OF GOD (vv. 1-3)

Jerusalem will have wondrous reason indeed to celebrate the greatness of God, their Lord (v. 1). The very God they had dishonored for centuries will be the Object of their adoring worship. The center of His choosing will then prove worthy of His choice, "the city of our God in His holy mountain," an elevation observable by the whole world. Today Israel's right to the city is strongly challenged, but the city then in Israel's hands will be the joy of the whole earth (v. 2).

Then Mount Zion is spoken of as being "on the sides of the north." The north is the direction speaking often of mystery and from which the cold winds of atheism blow. From the far north will come the vicious attack of Gog and Magog, to be fully repelled by the great King of the city Jerusalem. For Jerusalem will be fully prepared for this, with her possession of "the sides of the north." "God is in her palaces; He is known as her refuge" (v. 3). What more safe place could ever be known?

ATTEMPTED CONFLICT (vv. 4-7)

These verses do not speak of the conflict in the tribulation period, but afterward, when many kings assemble (v. 4) with the object of appropriating Israel's possessions. They accomplish no such object, but will learn by their attack that Israel is perfectly protected by a sovereign power. They can only marvel at this and become deeply troubled, fear leading them to seek to hasten away (v. 5). They will find by painful experience that it is worse than useless to think of subduing Israel when their Messiah is reigning. In fact, their judgment will be far more dreadful than the psalm shows, for it is seen in all its awesome character in Ezekiel 38 and 39. But Psalm 48 simply dwells on the reality of the protection of God over His people, so that the enemy is rendered helpless to do anything against them.

Fear overtakes the enemy, and pain as of a woman in birth pangs (v. 6), and the ships of Tarshish are broken by an east wind from God (v. 7). Thus, all those things that the enemy depends on for warfare are become totally ineffective.

REALIZATION IN EXPERIENCE (vv. 8-11)

Israel then will have a clear object lesson to show them that what they have heard of the faithfulness of their God is now demonstrated so that they see it (v. 8). For Jerusalem will then be rightly called "the city of the Lord of hosts," or "the city of our God." "God will establish it forever." At that time Israel will have thought on God's loving-kindness, — a meditation that was foreign to them for centuries before, but now, "in the midst of Your temple" they will be at leisure to restfully ponder the reality of the loving-kindness of their Messiah, the living God (v. 9).

Only at that time — never before — will the praise of the Lord be "according to His name." His name will be so perfectly revealed to Israel that they will respond with suitable praise from hearts overflowing in adoration, "Your right hand is full of righteousness" (v. 10). The right hand is the right hand of positive power, and that power will be exercised in pure, unlimited righteousness. Mount Zion (meaning "sunny") is bidden to rejoice, for this is God's center of the whole earth, to have her rightful place only in the coming millennium. And "the daughters of Judah (meaning "praise") are encouraged to be glad because of the Lord's judgments. Is Judah especially spoken of because it was she who had been guilty of the crucifixion of the Messiah? What a change for them then! Having been broken down in repentance, her unbelief will be replaced by exultant gladness!

PROVEN BY CLOSE INSPECTION (vv. 12-14)

Is Zion fully suitable as God's center of His dealing with the world? Let all who will check out this matter take plenty of time to walk (not ride) about Zion, count her towers (points of observation), mark her bulwarks (the strength of her protection), consider her palaces (the wealth and beauty of her resources). Such inspection and consideration will unfailingly move the observer to tell of it to the following generation (v. 13), and there will be many generations to be told in the space of 1000 years.

Being the center of the great King, the very focal point of the city will be the King Himself, and He, the blessed Lord Jesus Christ, is the Object of verse 24, "For this is God, our God forever and ever." it only follows that the correct translation of the last phrase is, "He will be our guide forevermore," not only "until death," for no believer will die even at the end of the millennium. For many centuries Israel has considered herself wise enough to order her pathway correctly, so that she has needed no outside guidance. It will have taken many centuries to break down such self-confidence, but when she finally learns the truth, she will fully understand that she needs God's guidance forevermore, not only at times, but at all times!

Psalm 49

A RECAPITULATION

Though Psalm 48 has brought us to observe the fullness of blessing of Israel in the millennium, Psalm 49 is addressed to all peoples, showing that not everyone will enter into that marvelous blessing. Very clearly the difference between a believer and an unbeliever is shown, and everyone on earth is urged to consider this intensely serious matter.

AN ELEMENTARY FACT (vv. 1-4)

"Hear this, all peoples" (v. 1). the psalmist is drawing attention to a fact that has been established and often commented on in practically all the preceding psalms, for though scripture is clear as can be that a decided difference is made between believers and unbelievers, yet people generally ignore this, and even at funerals are given the impression that after death everyone goes to heaven. Therefore, "all the inhabitants of the world, both low and high, rich and poor together" (v. 2) are summoned to listen to sober wisdom.

For the mouth of the psalmist speaks wisdom. He has learned to meditate in his heart on that which gives understanding (v. 3). Nor is it a legal commandment of which he speaks, but a proverb that should command the attention of all who are wise in heart (v. 4). If it seems to be a dark saying, it is nevertheless set to music on the harp, to appeal not only to the intellect, but to the heart.

"I" IN CONTRAST TO "THOSE" (vv. 5-12)

Well might a believer question, "Why should I fear in the days of evil?" Even when he feels the shame of the iniquity of his heels (v. 5), for he does not trust in himself, but in the living God. It may seem that those who are rich and increased with goods are secure (v. 60), but the child of God is far more secure than they are. They may boast in the multitude of their riches, but what kind of riches do they have? All the wealth they have is useless as to redeeming one precious soul; or securing the ransom of anyone from the guilt of his sins (v. 7). Yet the poorest believer is able to communicate to others the good news that Christ has paid the full ransom price of their redemption, and that they will be perfectly redeemed by receiving Him.

For the redemption of their souls is costly." Only the great sacrifice of the Lord• Jesus was able o accomplish such a redemption — a cost infinitely beyond the ability of any other to pay. The proper translation of the last phrase is not, "it shall cease forever," but "it must be let alone forever," that is, such a redemption must be left forever in its solitary dignity, — alone as the only means of redemption.

"So that he should continue to live eternally, and not see the Pit" (v. 9). This refers specifically to those believers in Israel who will have their part in the earthly blessing of the nation in the millennium. They will not die at all. Redemption for believers today does not guarantee that they will not die, but it does guarantee that they will live eternally, though they may die, only to be raised again to live forever.

Meanwhile, it is evident that both wise men and fools die and leave their wealth to others (v. 10). Unbelievers generally suffer the disease of thinking inwardly that their houses will last forever, that is, they give no thought to the solemnity of death and what comes after (v. 11). They attach their names to their lands, as though they were going to own their lands forever. But the honor given a man during his life is like a flower that blooms, then withers (v. 12), or like a short-lived beast, perhaps strong for a time, then perishing.

RESULTS REALIZED (vv. 13-20)

Though scripture Thus, makes clear the folly of the way of the ungodly, it is only the wise who will discern this and take to heart the lessons so evident in the scriptures. In spite of the foolishness of the way of unbelievers, their posterity will remember and approve their sayings. What value is it to accept the opinions of one who ends in the fires of hell?

"Like sheep (as though they had no spirit) they are laid in the grave (v. 14). Instead of their feeding on Christ, the living bread, death feeds on them. How ominous an expression! When the morning comes, it is evident the upright have dominion over them. Therefore, let the upright never entertain the least envy of the present prospering of the ungodly. What appeared to be beauty on earth is totally consumed in the grave, far from their favored earthly dwelling.

But in infinite contrast, the believer declares "God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, for He shall receive me. Selah" (v. 15). The believing Israelite is reminded Thus, that he will enter into all the blessings of the millennial reign of Christ, as seen in Psalm 48. Well might we therefore, "pause and consider" — "Selah!"

Certainly, a believer has no reason to fear when the ungodly become rich, for those riches are very transitory. Indeed, we should rather feel sorry for them, for if this is all they have, they shall never see the light, but are like the beasts that perish (vv. 16-20).

Psalm 50

A RIGHTEOUS GOD REQUIRING RIGHTEOUSNESS

In the previous psalms we have seen the full external deliverance accomplished, especially as regards Israel. Now two psalms deal with the matter of complete internal salvation, Psalm 50 declaring God's absolute righteousness, while Psalm 51 shows man frankly confessing his sin, so that the latter is the proper result of the former. But Psalm 50 makes the matter clear that, since God is righteous, He requires righteousness in man, though since man does not have righteousness by nature, he must depend on God to supply it for him.

THE SUMMONS OF GOD (vv. 1-6)

The psalm begins with three titles of the great Creator — The Mighty One, God, Jehovah" (v. 1). This God of infinite majesty and glory has spoken, calling the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. The millennial glory of Christ is clear in this message, as both expressions show — "the rising of the sun" and "out of Zion," called "the perfection of beauty" as it will be only in the millennium. "God has shined," "Our God doth come" clearly indicates that the Lord Jesus is God. Though He has kept silence for centuries, then He will not, but will speak in such power that none will be able to ignore it. Fire and tempest accompany His advent. He will summons the heavens and the earth to witness the judgment of His people, and particularly calls for the gathering of Hi saints together, — "those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice (v. 5). It is plainly the godly in Israel of whom He speaks, for it is only Israel "to whom pertain the covenants" Rom. 9:4), then they, by faith in the sacrifice of Christ, will have virtually made a covenant with God in submission to His authority. Also, the heavens will declare God's righteousness. How? By the heavens having received the Lord Jesus back in token of His having righteously obtained eternal redemption by His sacrifice of Calvary. Thus, it will be evident that "God Himself is Judge" (v.6) — God as revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. It is such a fact that calls for a "Selah," pause and consider.

THE NEGATIVE SET ASIDE (vv. 7-13)

Since God is absolutely righteous, there are things that seem right to men that God firmly refuses. Thus, he speaks again to His people Israel, demanding their serious attention, again insisting, "I am God, thy God (v. 7). How valuable were their sacrifices of animals to Him? Though such sacrifices were commanded in Exodus and Leviticus, this was not because God desired such things, but to simply illustrate that these were all symbolical of the one future sacrifice of Christ (v. 8). Israel ought to have realized at least that they were only symbols, though of what they were symbols they were no doubt ignorant.

Was God in need of their bulls and goats? (v.9). In fact, all the beasts of the forest are His, and the cattle (the domesticated animals) on a thousand hills (a great understatement indeed! (v, 10). Birds of the mountains too, and wild beasts of the field (in contrast to the forest) belonged to God (v. 11). Did He need the few animals they might sacrifice?

Did Israel think that God depended on them to supply food for Him? If He were hungry (which of course He is not), would He think of appealing to them? (v. 12). Did they not consider that the world and everything in it is God's? Would God (like them) eat the flesh of animals or drink their blood? (v.13).

THE POSITIVE HEART OF THE MATTER (vv. 14-15)

What then did God really expect from them? Simply thankful and dependent hearts (vv. 14-15). The sacrifice of honest thanksgiving and the honesty of paying their vows were things that God rightly expected. Today, under grace, we are told not even to make vows (Matt. 5:33-34), but when Israel made vows, they were guilty if they did not keep them. Now God makes it clear to them that He does not in any way depend on them, but instructs them to depend on Him, saying, "Call upon Me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me" (v. 15). Thus, God totally takes away from Israel all title to have confidence in what they could do for God, and shows them to be altogether dependent on His pure goodness. In fact, He would Himself send them trouble, so that they would call upon Him, and when He delivered them, they would glorify God — not do something for Him! How important it is that we give God His place of absolute righteousness, absolute truth, absolute authority, absolute goodness! It is really only selfishness that thinks otherwise, for if we desire the least credit for accomplishing anything, even though we may think it is for the glory of God, we are in effect robbing God of that which is totally His own.

THE WICKED FAILING THE TEST (vv. 16-21)

Only two verses (14,15) have been necessary to describe the character of the person God approves, but much more is said as to the evidence against the wicked. Too often people put on a religious appearance that deceives others, but certainly does not deceive God. He says to such people, "What right have you to declare My statutes, or take My covenant in your mouth? (v. 16). One may easily declare to others what God says to them, but with no intention of acting on what he teaches. This is contemptible arrogance, for the person himself hates instruction and casts God's words behind his back (v. 17).

Such people will easily take part with a thief if they see any prospect of personal profit, and will not avoid participation with adulterers. Thus, the question of his associations means nothing to him (v. 18). He will give his mouth to evil, having no concern as to guarding his lips, but speaking what is harmful and framing deceit, that is, deliberately planning deception (v. 19), even against closest relatives (v. 20). Such is the case of "deceiving and being deceived," for people of this kind deceive themselves into thinking they are right, and that God is indifferent to their gross evil! But God's patience is not indifference. How stupid men are to think that God is altogether like them! (v. 21), just because for the time God has kept silent. If only they would both read and take to heart the Word of God, what a difference this would make. But the day will unfailingly come when God will rebuke them, setting in order before their eyes the gross evil of things they had considered of no importance. Does this not remind us that at the Great White Throne the books will be opened (Rev. 20:12) with their records of all the guilt of mankind? How devastating a shock for those who thought they were getting away with evil deeds!

WHICH END? (vv. 22-23)

How vital it is for people to consider serious facts. In forgetting God, they are guilty of a dreadful crime, and in danger of being torn in pieces by His own powerful hand, from whom none can deliver (v. 22). What are they urged to consider? That those who offer praise to God rightly glorify Him. This is true of all believers, and only of them, for they alone give God His rightful place.

But such genuine offering of praise is properly accompanied by the rightful ordering of one's conduct (v. 23). Such an one is shown the salvation of God. Salvation is shown to be Thus, absolutely essential, but in the psalms this salvation is not explained as it is in the New Testament.

Apart from new birth, neither genuine offering of praise nor true ordering of conduct are possible, though this fact was not clearly taught in the psalms, nor could be, for the Lord Jesus had not yet come. But those who responded to the Word of God, as in this psalm, were born again, little as they understood this.

Psalm 51

CONFESSION OF BLOOD-GUILTINESS AND FORGIVENESS We have observed God speaking in Psalm 50, declaring His greatness, His righteousness and truth. Now Psalm 51 is entirely prayer to God. Giving God His place, David takes his own rightful place as utterly sinful and dependent on the mercy of God. In Psalm 50 God had said, "Hear, O my people, and I will speak" (v.7), for He was speaking particularly to all Israel. Therefore, in Psalm 51 David's confession pictures the eventual confession of Israel as to their guilt in shedding the blood of the Lord Jesus, their Messiah. No doubt at the time of their restoration at the end of the Great Tribulation, they will use the language of this psalm in penitent confession before God.

INTENSE CONVICTION (vv. 1-4)

The inscription of the Psalm shows the occasion that prompted David's prayer. It was not until God sent Nathan to David to expose his guilt that David finally broke down in confession. Of course his confession involved both his guilt in adultery and that of bloodshed, for he knew he was guilty of the death of Bathsheba's husband, — but he only mentions bloodshed in this chapter (v. 14), for it is symbolical of Israel's guilt in the murder of the Lord Jesus, and this is by far the most serious sin of their history.

"Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your loving kindness" (v. 1). Though David was under law, he could not appeal to God's law in this case. There was no sacrifice provided by God under law to meet such sin as David had committed. There were sacrifices for "sins of ignorance," but David had deliberately sinned, being fully aware of the wickedness of what he did. Being king, according to the law he ought to have passed the sentence of death upon himself! Just so, if Israel now were to appeal to the law which they claim to honor, that law decidedly condemns them to death. It offers no hope whatever!

Instead of appealing to law, David's plea here is according to God's loving kindness. How much more wonderful is God's loving kindness than God's law! God's very nature is involved in the multitude of His tender mercies, and when this is the plea, we can fully count on God's answer. This prayer of David really looks forward to the New Testament revelation of God's love revealed in the person of His beloved Son, for the only way by which God could blot out David's transgressions was by means of the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. Though that sacrifice had not yet taken place, it is by that sacrifice alone that any Old Testament believer was forgiven and justified before God David speaks of his transgressions in verse 1, then in verse 2 of his iniquity and his sin. Sin is positive, transgression comparative (because it is against a declared law) and iniquity superlative, which indicates a will set on wickedness. Just as David, so Israel is guilty of all of these; but all mankind is just as guilty (Rom. 3:10-19). All have need to be washed thoroughly from iniquity and cleansed from sin. All must be taken away or there is no salvation at all.

David's confession was manifestly deeply felt (v. 3), pressing on his conscience continually; above all because his guilt was primarily against God. Of course, he knew he had sinned against Bathsheba and also against her husband (v. 14), but when he says, "against You only " he puts his finger on the most vital point, for he knew he had to deal directly with God about this matter. He could not now apologize to Uriah, and he had already taken Bathsheba as his wife. There was no way he could remedy what he had done, not even by confession. But he did have to deal with God, for he knew that God would be perfectly justified in this matter (v. 4), though David was found guilty.

DELIVERANCE FROM EVIL (vv. 5-8)

If deliverance from evil and from judgment is to be fully known, it is important to go back to its source, the fact of our being first born as sinners. In the book of Romans this question of inherent sin is not considered until chapter 5, because it is necessary first that man should face that for which he is responsible. He is not responsible for having a sinful nature, but he is responsible for allowing it to express itself in sinful acts. We all know this, much as we might like to excuse bad actions on account of having a sinful nature. But we know it is not an excuse, and here David refers to it rather as going to the root of his guilt (v. 5), to judge himself rather than only what he has done.

He says, "In sin my mother conceived me." He is not speaking of a sinful act, but of the fact that, since his mother had a sinful nature, she could only give him the same nature. For this reason he speaks of truth in the inward parts, that is, it is vital to probe the root of the matter, to honestly judge this, that the nature itself will be restrained from pressing itself. The teaching of scripture concerning this self-judgment is found only in th New Testament (Romans 5,6,7,8, so David did not fully understand it though he did face facts honestly at this time, which is the first step in finding deliverance from the power of the sinful nature, the flesh, and leads to a recognition of God's work in making one to know wisdom (v. 6).

"Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean" (v. 17). Hyssop was used by Israel to sprinkle blood on the door posts of their houses on the night of the Passover (Ex. 12:22), and is mentioned also in Numbers 19:6 in connection with the sacrifice of the red heifer. It is seen as the lowliest of plants in contrast to the lofty cedar (1 Kings 4:33), and therefore, in our psalm suggests our being brought down to the lowest place in the judgment of the flesh David does not suggest washing himself, but asks God to do this, with the result that he would be "whiter than snow." How marvelous indeed is God's work! He asks too that God would replace David's hearing of temptation with the hearing of joy and gladness (v.8), "that the bones you have broken may rejoice." The bones are the framework of the body, Thus, the person (not his actions) is judged in totality.

INTERNAL CLEANSING (vv. 9-13)

Following the judgment of the person comes the reference to his actions, — sins and iniquities, which David desired hidden and blotted out, which only God in pure grace can do (v. 9). For this section brings us into the sanctuary, the presence of God, where it is required that one be totally sanctified. Thus, God's creatorial work is necessary to make a difference in the individual, renewing in him a steadfast spirit (v. 10). When this is true, there is no possibility of one being banished from His presence, or of his losing the gift of the Holy Spirit (v. 11). It is clear that David did have God's Spirit as enabling him for his duties as king, and David realized that his sin was such that he deserved to have the Spirit taken from him. But he could still count on the grace of God to maintain him in spite of his guilt. Blessed grace indeed!

David asks that God will restore to him the joy of God's salvation, — not salvation itself, for he had not lost this in spite of his shameful failure. But one away from God cannot be enjoying God's salvation, and this joy required restoration. He asks also to be upheld by a willing spirit, which seems to be the correct translation of this last phase of verse 12, that is, that Word would work in him a spirit of willingness to obey Him. How much better is this than a selfish spirit of wanting our own way!

Only when this is true will we be rightly able to teach transgressors God's ways (v. 13). Those who have been guilty of transgression and have been truly recovered by the grace of God are by this means equipped to do effective work with others who are involved in sin and transgression. God uses them, sometimes amazingly, in the conversion of sinners.

WHEN SACRIFICE FAILS (vv. 14-17)

David's appeal is directly to God, for as he declares in this section, he can find no relief in sacrifices (v. 14). Only God can deliver him from the guilt of bloodshed, the God of his salvation. Such deliverance will result in David's singing aloud of God's righteousness in contrast to his guilt. The Lord could open his lips to show forth His praise (v. 15).

God did not desire sacrifice. In fact, there was no sacrifice available under law for the sin of adultery or of murder. Can we dare to think of giving up something in order to deserve the salvation of God? Mere pride may think so, but such a thing is repulsive to a God of truth and of grace. If we want to speak of sacrifices, verse 17 gives us the only instruction we need as pleasing to God, — a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart." This is just the opposite of the pride of trying to appease God by giving Him some material offering. God would absolutely despise the latter, but will not despise a contrite heart.

ISRAEL BLESSED FINALLY BY GOD (vv. 18-19)

These concluding verses of the psalm make very clear the fact that the special lesson of David's sin and restoration is typical of Israel's long years of guilt followed by forgiveness and restoration. God will do good to Zion, His center of blessing for the whole world in the millennial day. The walls of true separation to God will be rebuilt around Jerusalem for the pleasure of the Lord (v. 18). Only at that time will literal sacrifices of animals be pleasing to God. For before this time, it was not that God despised the sacrifices in themselves, but rather the motives of pride involved in their offerings. He Himself prescribed the sacrifices originally, and as such there was only good in them. But Israel had taken pride in offering them as though they were making God their debtor! The sacrifices were intended as symbolical of the one sacrifice of Christ, a public observance to focus attention on that one sacrifice in its various aspects of glory to God and of blessing to man.

Psalm 52

THE MAN OF SIN IDENTIFIED

Doeg, though an Edomite, is shown here as picturing the antichrist who will be Jewish. Does this not indicate that the antichrist will be untrue to his Jewish heritage, but acting as an Edomite, which speaks of the activity of the flesh? Thus, though one's true blessing comes only from God, yet the pride of man is determined to exalt itself as though he himself is God.

HIS LAWLESSNESS (vv. 1-7)

Though Doeg was not himself an authority in Israel, he had enough might to be able to murder the priests of the Lord (1 Sam. 22:18-19), and David speaks of his boasting in evil as a mighty man (v. 1). Such will be the pride of the antichrist, who will do his own will, not in any way restrained by the law of God, in spite of the established fact that "the goodness of God endures continually."

His tongue is his most powerful weapon, able to twist truth so that it appears to be commending falsehood. What James says of the tongue is particularly true in the case of this champion of evil: "The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell" (James 3:6). It can be guilty of not only arrogant domination, but of the most despicable deceit, both of which will be prominent in the antichrist, "the man of sin," for his tongue devises destruction, like a sharp razor, cutting deceitful hatred (v. 2).

Since he will be a destroyer, God will likewise destroy him forever. Though he exalts himself above all that is called God (2 Thess. 2:4), he will enjoy this prominence for only a few years before being captured with the Beast at Armageddon and thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 19:20) without the need of a trial, and even before Satan is brought to the same end. How dreadful a result of his daring to claim to be God!

THE BELIEVER: WHAT CONTRAST! (vv. 8-9)

Two verses show the wonderful contrast in the prospect of the believer to that of the enemy of God, for the psalmist speaks here as representing the godly remnant of Israel who have not in any way identified themselves with the lie of antichrist. "But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God" (v. 8). Through the grace of God he bears constant fruit, the fruit of the Spirit of God (of which olive oil speaks). The reason is found in the same verse, "I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever," Just as there is no cessation of God's mercy, so there will be no cessation of the simple trust of the believer. For his permanent dwelling is the house of God, as Psalm 23:6 confirms, "I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

Such trust in the mercy of God cannot but issue in praise to Him, which is also said to be "forever." The simple words are added, "Because You have done it." God had both judged the enemy and provided great blessing for believers: they had done nothing to deserve it, but simply by faith had received His blessing. "And in the presence of Your saints I will wait on Your name, for it is good" (v. 9). Thus, in spite of the persecution of the antichrist, the saints of God have been preserved, and in precious unity with them the psalmist calmly waits on the name of the Lord. What wondrous rest!

Psalm 53

REFUSING GOD

The fool tries to persuade himself there is no God. But the reason he does this is evident. Together with many others, he has corrupted himself. He prefers abominable iniquity to doing good, and he hopes he will not be answerable to any God. What futility! The antichrist will think he has succeeded in his rebellion, but for how long? No more than a few years! But at that time the general condition of mankind will be the same: "there is none who does good" (v. 1). Of course in an absolute sense this is true of mankind in all ages, though generally this fact is ignored or refused by mankind. God is a deeply interested spectator of mankind, observing closely the doings of every individual. But their sinful nature is such that they do not understand nor seek God (v. 2). All have turned away from Him, becoming corrupt, Not one actually does good (v. 3). This is true of all people by nature, and to change this requires a definite work of God in giving new birth, as the New Testament shows.

IGNORANCE LEADING TO INIQUITY (vv. 4-5)

To believers it seems surprising that the workers of iniquity are so lacking in intelligence as to treat others as mere objects for persecution, and have no interest in calling on God (v. 4). We should expect this to lead one to only hate his very existence. But the very character of such people produces in them great fear when there is no outward reason for fear (v. 5). But "God has scattered the bones of him who encamps against you," that is, their defense is torn apart and they are put to shame, -"because God has despised them." How terrible to be the object of God's contempt!

LONGING FOR COMPLETE SALVATION (v. 6)

The psalm ends with the same words as Psalm 24, with the ardent desire for the salvation of Israel to come out of Zion. This must await the future coming of the Messiah at the end of the Great Tribulation. "The Lord also will roar from Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem" (Joel 3:16). This will mean the complete salvation of Israel from their captivity, so that Jacob, the once humiliated servant of the Lord, will rejoice, and Israel, the newborn "prince with God" will be glad. Thus, the restoring grace of God will be magnified, and the renewing power of God also.

Psalm 54

GOD'S NAME THE ONE REFUGE

The previous psalms have shown something of the trial of faith occasioned by the pressure of evil, emphasized by the antichrist, and this psalm indicates the cry of the godly to the only One able to meet the power of the enemy.

GOD'S POWER SOUGHT (vv. 1-3)

While salvation of the soul from sin is dependent on the pure grace of God, yet verse 1 does not speak of grace, but of God's power, or strength, because this salvation is from the power of the enemy. God's name is mentioned here (v. 1) because His honor is involved in this matter, then His strength is desired by which the godly remnant will be saved from their enemies. The urgency of this prayer is seen in verse 2, and in verse 3 the cause of the prayer. Strangers had risen against the psalmist, for sadly, not only were Gentiles strangers, but too many Israelites were strangers to God, as king Saul was proving to be through his persecution of David, type of Christ. They had not set God before them, which folly would lead to much more folly.

DEPENDENT ON GOD'S HELP (vv. 4-7)

Though the enemy considers the godly as being alone in their trial, with no one to help, the psalmist is confident that God is his Helper, that He will maintain his cause in perfection (v. 4). He will bring righteous judgment on those who narrowly watch for signs of weakness or fear on the part of their intended victims, by cutting them off through the simple truth of His Word (v. 5).

How good and proper then is the response on the part of the godly, "I will freely sacrifice to You; I will praise Your name, O Lord, for it is good" (v. 6). Such is the joyful celebration of God's deliverance from trouble, with the believer witnessing His righteous recompense to his cruel enemies.

Psalm 55

THE APOSTATE

This psalm plainly centers around the bold insolence of the antichrist, with his character being shown up more strikingly than before, and his judgment being as clearly declared. Also, the deep distress of the godly when this man gains his authority is most apparent.

CALLING UPON GOD (vv. 1-3)

The earnest supplication of the Psalmist is itself the evidence that God will answer, for it is impossible that He should ignore the prayer of faith, and especially so in cases of deep distress (v. 1). The psalmist's restless moaning (v. 2) is because of the voice of the enemy, for the words of antichrist will be powerful in their poisonous deceit (v. 3), oppressive and troubling. The ungodly, led by this wicked one, will have bitter anger and hatred toward the godly. This is true in all ages, but will be intensified in the Great Tribulation.

LONGING FOR ESCAPE (vv. 4-8)

Thus, the Lord will allow the godly remnant of Israel to suffer the unspeakable anguish of being oppressed by men of their own nation, with the terrors of death threatening them (v. 4). The evil will have increased so greatly as to cause fearfulness and trembling, with virtually overwhelming terror (v. 5). Inside the very city that God chose as His earthly center the conditions will be such that God is totally displaced. Normally the believing Israelites would consider Jerusalem above their chief joy (Psalm 132:6}, and desire to dwell there. But now the psalmist says, "Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest" (v. 6). God will answer that desire by providing a place in the wilderness where the godly may fly away (Rev. 12:14), to be preserved from the judgments that will fall on Jerusalem at that time — "a time, times and a half a time" — the three and a half year Great Tribulation. Thus, "I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest" (v. 8). In fact, the godly will be called at the time to "flee to the mountains," not even taking time to gather their possessions to take with them (Matt. 24:15-18).

THE HOLY CITY CORRUPTED (vv. 9-11)

The evil inside the city at that time will be virtually indescribable, so much so that the city is not even named. Matthew 24 speaks of this time as that when the image to the beast of Rome will be set up in the temple area, so that violence and strife will predominate. The psalmist calls on God to divide their tongues, that is, to set the enemies against one another, which is a normal result of evil (v. 9). Day and night the wicked will go around on its walls, so occupied with terrorizing others that they take no time even to sleep (v. 10). Iniquity of the worst kind will be in the midst of the city, the bold adoption of absolute idolatry in the city that God ordained as His Center; and trouble cannot but follow. Destruction, oppression and deceit will be blatantly emphasized, for this entire situation will be one last, determined attack of the enemy against the God of heaven and earth (v. 11).

THE CHAMPION APOSTATE (vv. 12-15

Now the head of this bold attack is exposed. The antichrist will not have at first taken the position of an enemy, but rather will pose as a believing Jew, so much so that many will be deceived by him into giving him the place of the Messiah of Israel! The psalmist here speaks as representing the godly remnant of Israel, showing how cunning this "man of sin" will be in deceiving the people generally. The godly will feel it deeply that he will use them to advance to a place of honor in Israel, then having gotten this place, he will turn against them with cruel persecution. Thus, his total dishonesty is the chief feature of his character. 1 John 2:22 tells us, "Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son."

One can expect the opposition of a manifest enemy (v. 12) and may be ready to protect himself from harm. But one who acts as a companion, walking and conversing as a friend, and especially professing faith in the living God (vv. 14-15) is hardly expected to reverse his entire direction and prove himself a vicious enemy of both God and Israel!

Since the antichrist has taken most cruel advantage of his victims by his despicable falsehood, he qualifies himself as the outstanding champion of wickedness in opposition to his Creator. Therefore, he, together with the Roman beast, will be thrown into the lake of fire without the necessity of a trial! (Rev. 19-20). This eventual judgment is what is indicated in verse 15: "Let death seize them; let them go down alive into hell, for wickedness is in their dwellings and among them." The fact that the plural "them" is used indicates that the antichrist is the leader of many more, who, though not cast into hell at the same time, will suffer that dreadful end when they are exposed at the Great White Throne (Rev. 20:11-13).

GOD WITH US (vv. 16-18)

"As for me" (v. 16). How complete a contrast to the character and end of those committed to ungodliness! "I will call upon God, and the Lord shall save me." Though the evil has risen to such heights that escape from it seems utterly impossible, yet God remains the solid Rock on which the godly may fully depend. They do what God elsewhere instructs them to do: "Call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me" (Ps. 50:15). Though an answer may be delayed for a time, this is only a test of faith to move the heart to continue in prayer, "evening morning and at noon," "And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them (or, "as to them")? Thus, the psalmist speaks confidently, "He shall hear my voice" (v. 17).

Verse 18 therefore, speaks as though the deliverance were already accomplished, "He has redeemed my soul in peace from the battle that was against me, for there were many against me." Redemption involves the liberation of the soul from the bondage of cruel oppression, and in this case a bondage inflicted by "many."

EVIL RISEN TO GREAT HEIGHTS (vv. 19-21)

Though verse 18 has declared an accomplished redemption, these verses return to make even more clear what it is that God has to judge. He will hear and afflict the enemy, for He is the ancient of days, the One who abides from eternity. He alone has the right not to change„ but they are required to change if they expect God's blessing. Because they do not change from their deceptive character, they have no fear of God, no inclination to honor Him (v. 19).

They are represented by the antichrist, who has put forth his hands against those who showed no hostility to him (v. 20). His covenant –his committal to fellowship with the godly remnant — he had broken, for his words were smoother than butter, but only covering the war that was in his heart, for those words were actually drawn swords ready to destroy his friends (v. 21).

THE END IN VIEW (vv. 22-23)

Thus, the godly are encouraged to cast their burden on the Lord, with the assurance, "He shall sustain you" (v. 22). Wonderful indeed is the certainty that "He shall never permit the righteous to be moved," though passing through tribulation more dreadful than had ever before been known on earth.

On the other hand, the same eternal God who defends the righteous will bring down to the pit of destruction the bloodthirsty and deceitful men who have sought the destruction of the godly. Being bloodthirsty, they show themselves against mankind: being deceitful, they expose their hatred toward God. Such men, including the antichrist, will not live out half their days. His prominence will be very short lived. In contrast the believer says, "But I will trust in You" (v, 23).

Psalm 56

THE PEOPLE'S STRENGTH FOUND IN GOD'S FAITHFULNESS

The time of suffering seems interminable to the oppressed saints of the Tribulation, so that their prayer pleads for the mercy of God. Not only now the deceiving antichrist is in view, but "men" generally, for just as Jews have suffered for centuries in foreign lands, so they will suffer when seeking refuge in lands outside of Israel when they are virtually forced out of their homes. "Fighting all day" their enemies will oppress them (v. 1) and hound them. No doubt this is simply because they are Jews, not being welcome wherever they go. Nor is it a small minority that show this hostility, but "many" (v. 2).

Verse 3 is however most precious, a verse that every believer at all times may find a vital comfort: "Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You."

ENEMIES TURNED BACK (vv. 4-9)

This simple trust in God always leads higher: "In God I will praise his word." The simplicity of faith moves the heart in praising the One who is faithful; and if in verse 3 the psalmist admits his fear, in verse 4 he says "I will not fear" the reason being that he has put his trust in God. This being true, "what can man do to me?"

In verses 5 and 6 some of the details of the enemy's oppression are seen. "All day they twist my words; all their thoughts are against me for evil. "They gather together, they hide, they mark my steps, when they lie in wait for my life." Of course their hiding here is with a view to making a surprise attack.

But their iniquity will not enable them to escape the judgment of God (v. 7). He will fully answer the prayer to "in anger cast down the peoples." Though He is patient in carrying out His judgments, the length of His patience will call for even greater anger than if He had not patiently dealt with the guilty.

"You number my wanderings; put my tears in Your bottle; Are they not in Your book?" There is no doubt such tears are in the book of God's remembrance (Mal. 3:16, but the book is not always opened, so that the psalmist desires his tears to be kept in a bottle where they will always be a reminder of the suffering of saints on earth. Then again he expresses his firm confidence that when he cries to Him, his enemies will turn back. He knows this, for God is for him (v. 9).

GOD GLORIFIED (v.v. 10-13)

It is precious to observe that through all the trying exercises of faith, all the oppression of the enemy, all the deep distress the psalmist feels, the most important result is that God is glorified. "In God I will praise His Word, in the Lord I will praise His Word" (v. 10). Both the greatness of God is involved in this, and the covenant relationship of the Lord, that is, His glory and His grace.

"In God I have put my trust: I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" (v. 11). Certainly when one has put his trust in God, there is no reason whatever to fear, because God cares perfectly for His own glory. This being so, how utterly impotent man is!

The godly will fully realize that vows made to God are no light matter: they are binding. Yet the entire Old Testament has proven that Israel could not be trusted to keep their vows, for which reason the Lord Jesus told Jewish believers not to make vows at all (Matt. 5:33-37). But when Israel is restored to the Lord, the Jews themselves will realize that the only One who has kept His vows is the Lord Jesus, so that they are dependent , not on their vows, but on the One who has perfectly glorified God in His vows, especially His vows as to doing God's will in His great sacrifice (Heb. 10:7). Thus, being dependent on their faithful Messiah, they will have reason to render praise to God (v. 12). For it is God, not their own integrity, that has delivered them from death, keeping their feet from falling, and has given them strength to walk before Him in the light of the living (v. 13).

Psalm 57

PRESENT PROTECTION AND FUTURE DELIVERANCE

The occasion of this psalm was that of David’s hiding in a cave from the oppression of Saul. He is seen crying to God for protection in his present sufferings and expressing confidence in God's eventual grace in delivering him.

GRACE FOR THE PRESENT NEED (vv. 1-5)

David does not appeal to God on the ground of his integrity, but on that of God's mercy (v. 1). for he trusts in God, and this is the one real claim on such mercy. He practically considers himself as a helpless chicken seeking the shelter of the wings of the mother hen because great danger threatens. But he counts also on the passing of such calamities. Thus, his prayer is "to God Most High," whose greatness is high above the power of the enemy, and who will perform all things for him (v. 2). How good to have such calm confidence of faith at the very time the evil threatens!

"He shall send from heaven and save me." From the place of highest authority and power God delights to send His salvation. God's very actions would be a reproach to the persecutor (v. 3). Notice, David does not even mention Saul' s name, for he continued through his history with Saul to show deep respect for the position of Saul as king. But he had confidence that God would send forth His mercy and His truth, — mercy toward David and truth to defeat his enemies.

"My soul is among lions; I lie among the sons of men who are set on fire" (v. 4); for it was not only Saul who oppressed him, but many who followed Saul: they were as lions, strong and 'ready to tear in pieces; and set on fire, as is written of man's evil tongue, "it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature, and it is set on fire by hell" (James 3:6). Thus, their teeth are as arrows and their tongue a sharp sword. Those members therefore, that God has given to men to be used for good have become tools of wickedness by the cunning manipulation of the enemies of God.

Though under severe persecution, the psalmist, lifting his eyes above the level of man's evil, gives God His proper place of being exalted above the heavens, His glory infinitely above all the earth (v. 5). What pure, precious rest this confidence gives to the soul!

SALVATION ASSURED AND BORNE WITNESS TO (vv. 6-11

Since the psalmist then finds great blessing from God in the present, he may have fullest confidence also for the future in spite of the enemy preparing a net with the object of ensnaring him (v. 6). Though his soul is bowed down in distress because of a pit they have dug for him, he sees clearly that they are caught in their own trap. Thus, it must always be for those who oppose the God of glory, as Haman learned to his utter dismay and shame (Esther 7:6-10).

My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast" v. 7). This is a true result of new birth, for the motives of the heart are purified by faith, though the details of conduct may not always show the same unvarying steadfastness. But new birth produces results in the heart that issue in genuine praise to God. Thus, the psalmist urges himself to "awake," for his glory is in the Lord. Lute and harp also are bidden to join in this glad celebration of the glory of God, and David affirms, "I will awaken the dawn" (v. 8). Is this not the dawn of a new day for Israel? — and therefore, implying that the Lord Jesus Himself speaks through His servant David.

Verse 9 therefore, looks on plainly to the coming millennial age. "I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples: I will sing to You among the nations," At the present Israel is suffering among the nations, being troubled and distressed, but how great a difference when the Lord Jesus is given His place of absolute authority, and nations respond to the joy and worship of the people who have known continual pain and sorrow for centuries.

"For Your mercy reaches to the heavens, and Your truth unto the clouds."(v. 10). Marvelous indeed is the mercy that has no limit, the heavens themselves bearing witness to its all-embracing value. While clouds speak of some measure of obscurity, the pure truth of God obliterates this obscurity, to make clear His Word to those who trust Him. Thus, the psalmist concurs with the fact that God is to be exalted above the heavens, His glory above all the earth (v. 11), and when God has His true place, there is rest. This short psalm then is lovely in the way in which it disposes of the many calamities that will threaten the godly remnant of Israel, and causes them exultant praise to the living God.

Psalm 58

GOD MANIFESTED IN JUDGMENT

When righteous judgment has utterly failed in the hands of men, then certainly judgment must be recognized as God's prerogative. This may be primarily seen in Israel, but Israel is only a sample of all nations, so that what is written here of the wicked is just as applicable to Gentiles as to Israel. Also, God is just as truly the God of the Gentiles as He is of Israel, though Gentiles may not acknowledge Him.

THE CAUSE (vv. 1-2)

These verses clearly present the reason for God being manifested in judgment. Did the sons of men who were set in the place of judgment, speak righteousness? Indeed, righteousness was virtually silent: they did not speak it, nor did they have the honesty to judge uprightly (v. 1). "No, in heart you work wickedness" (v.2). It was in their heart that the evil began, and their hands soon followed by acting in violence against the innocent, weighing it out in accordance with their own deceitful schemes.

HATEFUL HOSTILITY (vv. 3-5)

"The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies" (v. 1) This is actually true of all mankind, and if not arrested by the intervention of God in grace, the evil will not only continue, but increase, for it is only the goodness of God that leads men to repentance (Rom. 2:4). Those who resist His goodness will continue to develop increasing evil. The poison of their very nature will spread in hatred toward God and toward others too. Nothing will appeal to their sense of decency or honor. Their ears are deaf as that of a cobra that is unmoved by charmers, however capable they may be.

FULLY EXPOSED FOR JUDGMENT (vv. 6-11)

Vicious enemies gnashed with their teeth against the Lord Jesus (Ps. 35:16), but such teeth will be broken in their mouths (v. 6). As young lions these enemies sought to devour the godly, but their fangs will be broken by the Lord's intervention. They will flow away as in a swift river (v. 7). When they bend their bow, they will find it ineffective, for the arrows will be as though cut in pieces, falling to the earth before being shot. Or, like a snail that melts in the sun, they would be rendered helpless. Or, like a stillborn child, dead before its time (v.8).

Before your pots can feel the burning thorns, He shall take them away as with a whirlwind" (v. 9). This is evidently an encouragement to the godly, that before they may feel the burning pain of the attacks of the wicked, God will take the wicked away with a sudden catastrophe, for His burning wrath will exceed theirs. Instead of the fire burning believers, they will have cause to rejoice in seeing God's vengeance against their enemies (v. 10). The symbolic language here is most striking, "He shall wash His feet in the blood of the wicked." The result of this will be that those who observe these things will say, "Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely He is a God who judges in the earth" (v. 11). They may not have thought so before, but when they observe God's work they will be fully persuaded of this.

Psalm 59

THE JUDGMENT OF THE NATIONS

Though a great deal in the previous number of psalms has emphasized the persecution of enemies within Israel, this psalm more specifically speaks of the nations that attack Israel. The psalm was occasioned by the persecution of Saul against David, though Saul was not a Gentile, but was virtually acting as a Gentile against his own people Israel.

THE CAUSE OF DISTRESS (vv. 1-5)

David is no doubt the mouthpiece of the godly remnant of Israel as he cries for deliverance from his enemies, for there is special reference here to "those who rise up against" him (v. 1). While David was feeling the pain of Saul's persecution, the Lord used this occasion to widen the whole matter to apply the attacks of the enemies of Israel at the time of the end, when the workers of iniquity, or bloodthirsty men, will make the most determined effort of history to exterminate Israel (v. 2).

Such evil is implied in verse 3, when the enemy will "lie in wait," having made secret plans for Israel's extermination. This will include "the mighty," for just as today many strong nations are proclaiming that Israel is the cause of all the troubles of the world, so this attitude will be even more developed to cause great alarm in that suffering nation.

David personally could say, "Not for my transgression nor for my sin, O Lord" (v. 3), for Saul's persecution altogether stemmed from Saul's jealousy, However, Israel cannot claim innocence as David did, yet the enmity of the nations will not be on account of Israel's wrongdoing, but because of hatred toward God and jealousy of Israel because they are God's chosen nation. Thus, though Israel certainly has faults, yet their being attacked will not be attributable to any fault of theirs (v. 4), so that the psalmist pleads, "Awake to help me and behold." He appeals to God as the "Lord God of hosts." Because he keenly feels what it is to be in the minority, exposed to the attack of large numbers, he remembers that God is "the Lord God of hosts," that is, of numbers beyond comparison (v. 5). This verse too makes clear the fact that David is not merely thinking of Saul's enmity, but of God's punishment of all the nations. It will only be at the time of the Great Tribulation that "all nations" will be gathered, with Israel as their focal point, to receive their just judgment from God. At that time the prayer will be fully appropriate, "Do not be merciful to any wicked transgressors," — though at present we pray rather that they may be saved.

VICIOUS OPPOSITION (vv. 6-8)

"At evening they return." This may particularly refer to the armies of the king of the north, after having attacked Israel like a whirlwind (Dan. 11:40) — at the time of the Great Tribulation, — passing through to subdue Egypt, Libya and Ethiopia, then returning when hearing troublous news, then surrounding Jerusalem in bitter hostility. Growling like a dog, they "go all around the city," belching with their mouth (vv. 6-7).

The fear of Israel will be great indeed as they realize these nations are bent on the total destruction of their tiny nation. In the [past an Arabian monarch declared that Israel was a cancer in the Arab side, and the only remedy for a cancer was its complete extermination. At this future time the climax will have been reached, and these hostile armies will be seeking to carry out this exterminating process. "Swords are in their lips; for they say, "Who hears?" They will have no sense whatever of a divine Observer, thinking they are free to do their own will without fear of resistance.

"But You, O Lord, shall laugh at them: You shall have all the nations in derision" (v. 8). How graphic a way is this of describing the Lord's response to the concerted hostility of many nations! It shows their hostility to be ridiculous, as though it could accomplish anything whatever. As Psalm 2:4-6 declares, "He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure. Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion."

JUDGMENT ACCORDING TO GOD'S HOLINESS (vv. 9-13)

The psalmist may be calmly at rest in waiting for the Lord, the true strength of His people. He is confident that God is his defense, and will come in due time to meet him in mercy, and then allow him to witness his desire upon his enemies (vv. 9-10). For there is an important reason for the delay in God's judgment, as is implied in the words, "Do not slay them, lest my people forget" (v. 11). The enemy is Thus, often allowed to continue for some time in bitter animosity, so that Israel would not forget the actual wickedness of their character and the great power of God's intervention when the time came. For the time being, the words applied, "Do not slay them," but this would not apply later on, as verse 13 indicates. Meanwhile they would be scattered and brought down by the power of God, who is indeed Israel's shield.

The sin of their mouth and the words of their lips (v. 12) expose them for what they really are, so that they are taken in their pride, caught by means of their own folly. They do not realize that cursing and lying are a very evident exposure of their guilt. Consequently the time will come when they are consumed by the wrath of God, their end coming swiftly and surely. Then they will know that God rules, not only in Jacob (among Israel), but to the ends of the earth. Well might this be attended by a "Selah." pause and consider!

EXPERIENCE: TRYING AND GOOD (vv. 14-17)

Verse 14 repeats verse 6, but now from the viewpoint of Israel's experience, which, however deeply felt, is quickly to be replaced by the experience of God's power. The enemy growls like a dog, wandering up and down, their hunger unsatisfied, but their howling just as ineffective as that of hungry dogs.

How wonderful, therefore, in actual experience, to have the heart lifted up to triumphantly sing of the power of God! — power infinitely high above that of the feeble enemy (v. 16). Together with power, however, is God's unfailing mercy to Jacob, failing as Jacob is, — mercy that will be fully revealed "in the morning," when Israel's night of sorrow and distress gives place to the joy of the sun arising with healing in His wings (Mal. 4:2), that is, the coming in glory of the blessed Lord Jesus. They will look back to remember that in the day or trouble the Lord Jesus had been their defense and refuge. God also is spoken of as their Strength, to whom they sing praises, their defense, and their God of mercy. Thus, their deep trial of faith ends in triumphant joy.

Psalm 60

GOD'S DISCIPLINE AND ITS EFFECTS

The inscription of this psalm is unusually long. Addressed to the Chief Musician (the Lord Jesus), it is "set to the lily of the Testimony," which reminds us of Psalm 45, the lily speaking of beauty in lowly circumstances. The occasion was when David fought against Mesopotamia and Syria, and when Joab returned and killed 12,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt. This speaks of the judgment of the flesh, and being in the Valley of Salt indicates it to be a judgment preserved for the welfare of Israel. Thus, the psalm deals with the fact of God's discipline putting the flesh in its place, so that He might bring resulting blessing to His people.

UNDER CONVICTION (vv. 1-3)

These verses show the depth of conviction that God's discipline awakens in believers, as they feel they have been cast off and broken down, so that they realize that their suffering is not really as serious as the fact that God has been displeased. Thus, they feel the distance from God that has been incurred by their own sin, and long for restoration (v. 1). "You have made the land tremble," that is, the land of Israel. Indeed, all through the centuries and at the present time, the land is trembling from constant unrest, and there are many breaches, for it shakes as though attacked by an earthquake (v. 2). God's people have been shown hard things, so that they drink the wine of confusion (v. 3). All this humbles them to the dust.

AN APPEAL FOR DELIVERANCE (vv. 4-5)

Though Israel's disobedience has earned them the sad condition of being called "not" God's people (Hos. 1:9), yet the godly remnant at the time of the end will be able to call themselves "Your people" (v. 3), for God will have then accomplished such a work in their souls that they may rightly say of themselves in addressing God, "Your beloved." having the unshaken confidence that God has given them "a banner," a standard of truth to lead them, because they fear Him (v. 4). Thus, the truth of God will triumph over all their past failure and rebellion, and they will be blessed. This will lead to the deliverance of those truly beloved of God. He will save them by the right hand of His power (v. 5).

POSSESSING THE LAND (vv. 6-8)

Deliverance for Israel will mean their eventual possession of the land according to God's speaking in His holiness. His holy government has accomplished its proper results, and He rejoices to distribute every part of the land to His people according to His pure grace and holiness. First, He divides Shechem (v. 6). Shechem figured greatly in the history of Abraham. Its meaning is "shoulder," speaking of the bearing of responsibility. It was the first place of Abraham's dwelling when in the land of Canaan (Gen. 12:6), and indicates the willingness of Israel in the millennium to be subject to God, a necessary result of the Abrahamic covenant. Shechem was on the west side of Jordan, while the valley of Succoth was on the east side. Its meaning is "booths," reminding us of the feast of tabernacles, when Israel was to dwell in booths (Lev. 23:33-42), typical of their secure dwelling in the millennium without material means of protection. Thus, Israel on both sides the Jordan will be greatly blessed by God's apportioning them their inheritance.

"Gilead" (on the east of Jordan) "is Mine, and Manasseh is Mine." Half of Manasseh was west of Jordan and half on the east, but God will allow no suggestion of a division of that tribe. "Ephraim also is the helmet of My head." Though Ephraim was separated by Jeroboam from Judah, yet God will restore her and bless her with greater blessing than she has ever had before. "Judah is My lawgiver," for out of Judah Christ has come.

Moab and Edom are not so favorably mentioned, for Moab speaks of lazy, self-satisfied religion (Jer. 48:1), and Edom of the flesh (the same name as Adam, with the vowels changed. But the Lord will bring these down in subjection to His own wise government. On the other hand, the Philistines will have a changed attitude, to "shout in triumph," because the Lord Jesus will change everything for them.

IN WEAKNESS DEPENDING ON GOD (vv. 9-12)

"Who will bring me to the strong city?"(v. 9). This is a city in Edom, evidently Petra, the rock city. Why is this such an object? No doubt because the judgment of Edom, the flesh, is one of the most important matters when the Lord judges the nations. The flesh is in all of us, and we certainly are to side with the Lord in genuine self-judgment. He had in effect cast Israel off because of the activity of sin in the flesh, and in the past therefore, did not go out with their armies.

They are certainly not now to have confidence in meeting the enemy unless God Himself gives them help from trouble (v. 11). Experience will then have taught them that at long last they are moved by the grace of God to appeal only to Him.

In such a case, not only will they be protected and preserved, but "will do valiantly, facing the enemy without fear, for it will be God Himself who actually treads down their enemies (v. 12).

Psalm 61

THE KING'S VOWS

This psalm is clearly the language of the Lord Jesus as the one fully dependent Man, who, in contrast to Israel, perfectly fulfills His vows (v. 5), and therefore, receives a worthy inheritance from God.

THE KING IDENTIFIED WITH THE REMNANT (vv. 1-4)

In these verses the King speaks as representing the people, who cry out to the Lord in the midst of overwhelming circumstances. Though Israel has been scattered to "the end of the earth," this blessed Intercessor takes His place with the godly who are so scattered, and pleads on their. behalf, "Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I" (v. 2). Of course, He speaks as the truly dependent Man, not as He does in His prayer of John 17, where He speaks as the Son of the Father, and therefore, fully equal with the Father.

For God had been a shelter for Him, a strong tower from the enemy (v. 3). This of course was true for Him personally when on earth, and will be true of Him in His identifying Himself with the godly in Israel even through the Tribulation.

But He adds, "I will abide in Your tabernacle forever: I will trust in the shelter of Your wings" (v. 4). A tabernacle is a tent, which in this case is certainly not a temporary dwelling, and reminds us of Revelation 21:3, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them." This is plainly not temporary, for the whole context refers to the eternal state. Rather than heaven being a place of elaborate mansions where we may indulge in lazy opulence, it will be characterized by joyful activity and service. "His servants shall serve Him" (Rev. 22:3).

PRAYER ANSWERED (vv. 5-7)

"For You, O God, have heard my vows; You have given Me the heritage of those who fear Your name" (v. 5). While Israel made vows as to keeping the law, these were all very soon broken, and the only One who can be trusted to keep His vows is the Lord Jesus, He has done this for the sake of those who fear God, above all in His going willingly to the cross. He had said, "I have come to do Your will, O God" (Heb. 10:9). No one else could ever do this, but He has perfectly fulfilled His vows to accomplish that marvelous work, so that he has rightly deserved from God the inheritance of those who fear God's name. He delights to be identified with them, considering that He has "a goodly inheritance" (Ps. 16:6).

"You will prolong the King's life, His years as many generations" (v. 6). Isaiah 53:10 speaks similarly, "He shall prolong His days." This is in contrast to every other king who ever reigned, whose days were always limited. Christ when on earth never did reign, but in resurrection "all authority is given" to Him in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18), and His days shall have no end, as verse 7 assures us, "He shall abide before God forever." Notice that while it is the Lord Himself speaking in verses 1 to 5, it is a different voice in verses 6 and 7. No doubt this is the voice of the King's people, the remnant of Israel. Verse 8 returns to record the words of the king, "So I will sing praise to Your name forever, that I may daily perform My vows." While He has perfectly performed His vows in regard to His work of sacrifice to accomplish the salvation of His people, yet He has also vowed, "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Heb. 13:5). Thus, every succeeding day we may have absolute confidence in Him who can never fail to keep His vows. How wonderful a Savior King!

Psalm 62

THE PATIENCE OF FAITH

How insistent is the Word of God that we learn to have the genuine patience that waits only on Him for His intervention in His own time. This psalm emphasizes this as many psalms have done before.

GOD THE ONLY SOURCE (vv. 1-2)

In contrast to men's loud clamor for their own rights when trouble arises, the believer may silently wait on God, the only One through whom salvation comes (v. 1). All others are completely set aside while He remains the solid Rock and He Himself not only One who saves, but "my salvation," just as Simeon said of the child Jesus, "my eyes have seen Your salvation" (Luke 2:30). With God as the Object of the psalmist, he might well say, "I shall not be greatly moved" (v. 2). He does not say, "I shall not be moved," as the Lord Jesus says (Ps. 16:8), for the frailty of man cannot generally speak with such absolute confidence as regards himself, but he knew that God would preserve him from being greatly moved.

CUNNING HOSTILITY (vv. 3-4)

As the Lord Jesus was constantly attacked on earth by hostile religious enemies, so His followers will be the object of the enmity of such characters today and in the coming Tribulation period. "How long?" (v. 3) is a question often on the lips of believers, but the eventual outcome is immediately added, "You shall be slain, all of you like a leaning wall and a tottering fence." Their boasted wall by which they seek to separate themselves as holier than others, will collapse when they are judged. (Compare Jude 19).

Just as the Pharisees consulted together with the object of casting the Lord down from the position of moral dignity that they envied, so will it be in the Tribulation: Christ and His followers will be attacked in the same vicious way by those who delight in lies (v. 4). "They bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly." One striking example is of those who came to the Lord Jesus (Luke 20:20-25), pretending to honor Him by saying, "Teacher, we know that You say and teach rightly, and You do not show personal favoritism, but teach the way of God in truth." Thus, with their mouths they virtually blessed Him, but their object was to have Him cursed. Of course the Lord Jesus discerned their falsehood, and silenced them by His wise answer.

GOD, THE PERFECT REFUGE (vv. 5-8)

Well may the psalmist encourage himself, "My soul, wait silently for God alone"(v. 5). It is the presence of God in the sanctuary that answers every need. While we can expect nothing but opposition from the world, we may expect every necessary help from Him. Verse 6 therefore, repeats verse 2, except that it ends, "I shall not be moved, rather than "I shall not be greatly moved." Apparently it is the Lord Jesus now speaking, but on behalf of His people, whose confidence is in Him.

"In God is my salvation and my glory"(v. 7). Not only is salvation from enemies found in God, but also He inspires the vital rejoicing of His people. They glory (or boast) in Him, along with their Messiah. For He is the Rock of their strength and their refuge, In that perfect sanctuary refuge they are safe from all the attacks of the enemy, Is it not therefore, the voice of the Lord addressing His people in verse 8, "Trust in Him at all times," "pour out your heart before Him. God is a refuge for us, that is, for Christ and His people.

MAN TESTED AND FOUND WANTING (vv. 9-12)

Those who put their trust in men may well consider verse 9, "Surely man of low degree are a vapor, men of high degree are "a lie." Which is better? The first barely appears, then disappears, but the second is gross falsehood, utterly undependable, and therefore, just a mere vapor too. Both are found, when weighed in the scales, to be lighter than vapor. How withering a denunciation! Thus, to follow prominent men is folly, and to favor one because he is humble and of little honor before men, is just as useless.

How many think they can gain their own ends by oppressing others or by robbing others! But this selfish greed always defeats its own ends (v. 10). Thus, whatever it may be that man trusts for his welfare, if it is not the Lord, it will accomplish only his own hurt. In fact, if by whatever means riches increase, we are warned not to set our heart on them, In fact we are told elsewhere, "For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven" (Prov. 23:5).

Not only has God spoken once (v. 11), but the psalmist has had it confirmed to him twice (if not more) that power belongs to God. How significant it is that man has such a nature (sinful indeed) that he thirsts for power over others, and if so, God is not really in all his thoughts, for he is determined to rob God of what belongs to Him. Such men also forget mercy completely, but are implacably cruel. How marvelous it is that the One who has supreme power is also a God of abundant mercy. Because this is true, He can be trusted to discern righteously and render to all according t their work (v. 13).

Psalm 63

LONGING FOR GOD'S SANCTUARY

When it is seen that all mankind is set aside and that only God is to be trusted, how appropriate it is for the heart to yearn for the presence of God, and especially when circumstances are those of the drought of desolation. Thus, David writes this psalm when in the wilderness of Judah. GOD HIS ONE OBJECT (vv. 1-4)

When feeling our own weakness, how good it is to recognize God as "my Mighty One," — the One therefore, sought early with no delay. Do we not echo David's appealing words, "My soul thirsteth for You; my flesh longs for you in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water"? (v. 1). The soul is the center of the spiritual emotions, while the flesh in this case is simply his bodily condition, not the matter of the sinful nature.

"In the sanctuary" (v. 2) is where God's power and glory are properly seen, for though His greatness is manifest in creation, yet its significance is not learned by observing creation, but in the secret of the presence of God. But power and glory are marvelously tempered by loving-kindness that is better than life (v. 3), which deeply moves the heart to praise such a God. Indeed, as long as he lives it is his intention to bless God and to lift up his hands in God's name.

FAITH CONFIRMED: THE ENEMY STOPPED (vv. 5-11)

Thus, the thirst of the psalmist is met and his soul satisfied as with pure abundance, so that his lips are opened with joyful praise (v. 5). Even in the night watches when darkness tests the exercises of the heart, the remembrance of the Lord becomes a sweet meditation (v. 6). God has been his help, therefore, in the shadow of God's wings he will rejoice, sheltered, protected from every evil influence (v. 7).

In contrast to Peter, who at one time "followed afar off" (Luke 22:54), David says, "My soul followeth close behind You." Can we be content with anything less than this? When we are close to Him, then we experience the reality of His right hand upholding us (v. 5).

Thus, with faith fully confirmed in its comfort and joy of the Lord's presence, it clearly follows that all the power of the enemy is brought to nothing (v. 9). Satan and his hosts who seek to destroy the very life of the believer, will go down to the lower parts of the earth, falling by the sword of the Word of God, to be a portion for jackals, symbolical of a violent death„ just as jackals feed on the carcasses of dead animals (v. 10).

In contrast, the King (the Lord Jesus) shall rejoice in God, together with all those who give Him the place of honor He deserves (v. 11), while the mouths of all who are false shall be stopped.

Psalm 64

THE VANITY OF EVIL DOERS

Though we have observed in sections of various psalms that evil doers are engaged in a vain show, yet this entire chapter emphasizes this strikingly. The second (and last) section of the psalm shows their judgment, however.

THE WICKED HOLDING POWER (vv. 1-6)

These verses bring to mind the way in which wicked men will prosper in power over others during the tribulation, but the same evil has been evident over and over again in history. Evil men never learn by the experiences of others, and they do not even take to heart the evident lessons that their own experience ought to teach them. Many have been the occasions in which the godly have cried out to God to hear them in their meditation and to preserve their life from the fear of the enemy (v.1). Also, the enemy takes advantage of his present power to plot secretly against the godly (v. 2), exposing their rebellious character in all their works, — that is, their rebellion against God and His truth.

They "sharpen their tongues like a sword" (v. 3), with the object of cruelty toward others, not realizing that they must eventually meet the One out of whose mouth goes a sharp, two-edged sword (Rev. 19:15), the sword of the Word of God (Eph. 6:17), its object being, not cruelty, but pure justice. The arrows of the wicked are bitter words, cunningly framed against the righteous and timed to seek to take them by surprise (v. 4). They have no conscience to fear the horror of their evil or its results.

Rather than fearing evil., they encourage themselves to practice it, plotting together in secret, thinking that no one will observe them (v. 5).

Such is their gross ignorance or God. They devise iniquities (v. 6), with the confidence that their scheming is virtually foolproof. Thus, their inward thoughts and their hearts are far from open and aboveboard, but deep and out of sight. But though believers may not discern what is behind the scenes, "all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account" (Heb. 4:13).

THEIR HUMILIATION (vv. 7-10)

While they have suddenly shot their arrows at believers, God will suddenly shoot only one arrow at them to accomplish far more than they have accomplished: they are mortally wounded and stumble in greater humiliation than they have sought to cause others (vv. 7-8), Their own tongue will expose them to the punishment they have sought to inflict on others, just as it was told the unfaithful servant in Luke 19:22,"Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant." Then "all who see them shall flee away," for their judgment will be a salient warning to those who have any inclination to follow their example.

In fact, at that time "all men shall fear" (v. 9), for God will have exposed the utter vanity of those who oppose themselves as well as God. Thus, when God humiliates such opposers to the dust, those who have survived will declare the work of God because they will wisely consider what He has done. For God will have worked in the hearts of many who then pass through the Great Tribulation and are therefore, called "the righteous" in verse 10, who have every reason to be glad in the Lord. another designation is also given them, "the upright in heart," whose boast is in the Lord. In all of this the Lord is seen to triumph and the vanity of man brought down to lowest humiliation.

Psalm 65

GOD WITH US

The presence of God come down in grace is clearly emphasized in this psalm, whether to Israel or to Gentiles, so that it is anticipative of the wonderful blessing to be introduced in the millennium.

ZION, THE EARTHLY CENTER OF BLESSING (vv. 1-2)

When we read, "Praise is awaiting You, O God, in Zion," does this not infer the longing in the heart of the psalmist for the establishment of millennial blessing at the end of the tribulation? Zion means "sunny," and that name for Jerusalem is particularly used in reference to its being established in the millennium under the authority of the Lord Jesus, of whom we read in Malachi 4:2, "But to you who fear my name the Sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings." Thus, the bright day of glory will be introduced by the coming of the Lord Jesus in all His beauty and dignity.

"And to you the vow shall be performed." This is certainly not Israel's vow, for she has failed in every vow she has made; the Lord Jesus alone is the Performer of His vow to accomplish redemption by His own sacrifice and to bring Israel into subjection to His authority.

But not only Israel, for verse 2 indicates that "all flesh" — that is, Gentiles too, shall come to Him, for it is He who hears prayer, even of the nations whom Israel may think of as being godless.

THE HINDRANCE AND THE HELP (vv. 3-5)

In verse 3 David speaks as representing his nation Israel, "Iniquities prevail against me." This is in contrast to the Lord Jesus Himself prevailing in verses 1 and 2. But when the guilt of sin is honestly confessed before God, it is added, "As for our transgressions, You will provide atonement for them." The book of Leviticus shows in picture the absolute need of atonement for sin, but David could not at this time have understood that atonement can be possible only by the Son of God Himself being offered in sacrifice.

Today we know this marvelous atonement has been made once for all, and Israel will learn the value of it when they are turned back to God at the end of the tribulation. In fact, the Day of Atonement (Lev. 23:27) which was held yearly in Israel, is symbolical of that great (then future) event. While atonement was made by the Lord Jesus in His one great sacrifice, yet Israel will learn this only in a future day.

Thus, the iniquities that have prevailed to hinder any blessing to Israel have been removed by the help of One whom God has chosen to draw near to Him, which is certainly the Lord Jesus (v. 4), for the psalmist is not speaking here of more than one person, though in the latter part of verse 4 there is a decided change, "We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, of Your holy temple." Because the one Man has entered in first, He has prepared the way for others also who would have no title there apart from His representing them. They will be satisfied because His representation is satisfactory to God.

"By awesome deeds in righteousness You will answer us, O God of our salvation" (v.5). Such awesome deeds Israel will witness particularly at the end of the Great Tribulation when God intervenes on Israel's behalf to judge the nations in righteousness. He will then be fully recognized as the God of their salvation. For this is plainly prophetic, as is the expression, You are the confidence of all the earth." Such a fact will be fully true then, though it is certainly not the case now. In fact, it is added, "Ind of the far-off seas," which refers to the far-off nations (Rev. 17:15). How wonderful indeed will be the accomplishment of so great a work in all the world!

GOD MANIFESTING HIS POWER (vv. 6-8)

While verse 6 is literally true, the mountains being established by God's creatorial power, it will be true figuratively also when He introduces the millennium, for the mountains symbolize governmental authorities which will be established then in contrast to the instability of human government today. God will clothe them with power, they have never had before.

For He, the Lord Jesus, is the One who "stills the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves, and the tumult of the people" (v. 7). The seas as we know, symbolize the nations (Rev. 17:15), as is clearly implied in this verse also. What welcome relief it will be when He utters His voice of subduing power, "Peace, be still"!

Nor will this be true only of those nations surrounding Israel, but those in the most distant parts of the world: they too will learn to fear the living One whose signs of power and majesty will be manifest everywhere. He will make both "the outgoings of the morning and evening rejoice" (v. 8), that is, from the beginning of the thousand years of peace there will be constant rejoicing until its end — the morning and the evening of that great day of blessing for the while world.

THE EARTH BLESSED (vv. 9-18)

This section more particularly speaks of the blessing of the land itself. The Lord will water it in just the way that will enrich its fruitfulness most fully (v. 9). The curse will be largely removed and "the river of God" will be full of water. Psalm 46:4 refers to this river, which makes glad the city of God, and Ezekiel 47:1 shows the river to begin "under the threshold of the temple," its volume gradually increasing till it reaches the Dead Sea, and heals the waters of the seas, so that "a great multitude" of fish are found there, though at present no fish can live in those heavily salted waters. God will also provide grain that will flourish through the benefit of the waters.

Not only is the river a blessing, but the highest ridges will receive needed moisture abundantly through showers that soften the ground, — not a pelting rain, but gentle showers that promote growth (v. 10). "You crown the year with Your goodness" (v. 11). This evidently refers to the blessing of every year during the millennium, so that there will be continual reason for thanksgiving. The wilderness, dry and desolate, will be revived by rain. "The little hills" speak of lesser governments, rejoicing then rather than being criticized as they are today. Contented flocks will fill the pastures, and the valleys prosper with the growth of grain, so that the land will figuratively "shout for joy" and sing praise to God.

Psalm 66

GOD'S DISCIPLINE, PERFECTLY FAIR

If God most abundantly blesses His land, as we have seen, He is a God who does not ignore the failures or wrongs of the people, whether the people of the world or His own people, but exercises discipline to meet every case in righteousness and grace. This is seen in this psalm, and also appreciation of such discipline in giving Him appropriate honor.

HIS POWER (vv. 1-7)

Since discipline is a necessity for mankind, the power to carry this out is first emphasized, and in the millennium all the earth will shout for joy in recognizing the glory of the power of God. For His works then will impress all mankind with their awesome wonder (vv. 1-3), and the power of His enemies will be so broken that they submit themselves to His supreme power. His discipline will bring them down indeed. So that, whether enemies or friends, all the earth shall then worship Him and sing praises to His name (v. 4).

All mankind is therefore, invited to come and see the works of God which cannot but inspire awe in every observer (v. 5). The illustration is then taken from Israel's past history, of God's turning the Red Sea into dry land when Israel came out of Egypt, and of their passing through the Jordan River on foot as they entered the land of promise (v. 6). Will there be any less amazing miracles when God liberates Israel from their bondage of self-centered rebellion and from the many enemies they have made through sinful practice?

"He rules by His power forever" (v. 7). Though He has been patient with man's evil for centuries, not exerting His power in manifest judgment, He will then have taken to Him His great power to reign in absolute righteousness and authority over all the earth. Of course, it has always been true that "his eyes observe the earth," but then it will be evident to all the nations that God is taking an active interest in all that transpires, and He will not allow the rebellious to exalt themselves.

ISRAEL'S TESTIMONY (vv. 8-12)

We have seen that "all the earth" is addressed in this psalm (vv. 1,4), and in this section it is evidently Israel adding her testimony for the sake of all the earth. For not only does God discipline people of the world, but also His own people Israel. They can address the nations therefore, not as being superior to them, but as being subjected to the same disciplinary dealings of God (v. 8). Thus, they can, without pride, encourage all people to bless God and make the voice of His praise to be heard. For it is He, not their own integrity, that has kept their soul among the living at a time when tremendous numbers will have been cut off in death (Zech. 13:8). God will not allow the feet of the godly to be moved (v. 9), though the test through which they pass in the great Tribulation will be severe indeed, the discipline of it likened to the heat of the refining of silver (v.10).

"You bring us into the net" (v. 11) as fish are so restrained by captivity, and then "laid affliction on our backs," for this was necessary in order to arrest the willful ways of a people who will not learn without severe discipline. Though men would virtually ride over their heads, the psalmist looks beyond the immediate enemies to realize that God was actually causing this trouble as part of His discipline. "We went through fire and water," two contrasting elements, both a blessing to man in some respects, but in other circumstances both hard to bear. But all of this discipline worked for Israel's blessing, "You brought us out to rich fulfillment."

THE KING'S VOWS FULFILLED (vv. 13-15)

Though in the previous verses we witness the words, "we" and "us" and "our," this changes in verse 13 to "I." Plainly it is now the :Lord Jesus speaking, that One who has rightful access into the house of God, but because He represents others, He brings burnt offerings, reminding us of his own wonderful sacrifice on Calvary. He also adds, "I will pay You my vows," that is, His vows fulfilled in the sacrifice of Himself, since Israel's vows had utterly failed. He had spoken these vows when He was in trouble. Does this not remind us of John 12:27? — "Now is My soul troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour? But for this purpose I came to this hour." His vow would stand absolutely, no matter how great the trouble by which it must be fulfilled.

In verse 15 the Speaker says He will offer many sacrifices of fat animals, of rams, bulls and goats. Why does He say "sacrifices" rather than the one sacrifice that He made on Calvary? Because that one sacrifice is so marvelous that many sacrifices in the Old Testament were required to give some needed illustration of the great value of that one sacrifice. Every sacrifice in the Old Testament is significant of some aspect of the sacrifice of Christ, — the ram for instance, speaking of the devotion of the sacrifice, the bull the strength of it, and the goat its substitutionary character. Indeed, there are many more aspects than these. "Selah" (pause and consider!).

HIS TRIAL AND VICTORY (vv. 16-20)

Though all the earth is addressed in verses 1 to 8, yet now in verse 16, it is "all you who fear God" who are called upon to hear, for if the previous call has not been effective in reaching everyone to move them to fear God, at least some will fear Him, and it is these only who will appreciate what God has done for the soul of the Lord Jesus. For He continues to be the Speaker to the end of the psalm, and we are dependent on Him who has proven totally faithful to God through the midst of the trial of discipline. However badly Israel has failed the trial. Christ has not failed, and He is now their Representative, and ours. We know He was a man of prayer through His life on earth, but He particularly cried to God in view of the cross (Heb. 5:7), praying to be delivered out of death (not from dying). Thus, he exalted God with His tongue (v. 17), and was heard, a matter in which all others fail at least in some measure.

"But certainly, God has heard Me." Every prayer of the Lord Jesus was perfectly answered by God,

including that which involved His being raised from among the dead. In fact, this was vital as regards the blessing of all those whom He has graciously represented, whether the godly remnant of Israel or all the members of the body of Christ, the Church.

Well might the psalm end with the beautiful ascription of blessedness to the eternal God, who did not (in fact could not) turn away from the prayer of the One who rightly obtains mercy from God on behalf of those who trust Him as Savior. How greatly we are blessed in Him!

Psalm 67

COMPLETE BLESSING AND REST

This brief psalm of only seven verses (the complete number) is beautifully pictorial of the great blessing that awaits both Israel and the whole earth in the time of Christ's thousand year reign. It is inscribed "To The Chief Musician" (the Lord Jesus), both a psalm and a song of vibrant joy. The mercy we have seen given to Christ in Psalm 66:20 is now seen as depended upon by "us," which no doubt indicates Israel when the millennium dawns.

That mercy and blessing for Israel is connected with God causing His face to shine upon them. Well might the verse end with a "Selah." pause and consider, for God's face shining is certainly His being manifest in His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus, illustrated in His transfiguration, when "His face shone like the sun and His clothes became as white as the light" (Matt. 17:2), and confirmed in 2 Corinthians 4:6, "For it is God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." Believers today enjoy this blessed shining forth of God's glory in the face of Jesus Christ, and Israel will experience this great joy when the millennium dawns.

In Christ therefore, God's way will be known on earth and His salvation will be known to all nations (v. 2). For Christ is God's Way (John 14:6) and He is God's Salvation (Luke 2:30).

If in verse 3 the psalmist speaks first of "the peoples" (Israel) praising God, he widens this to say, "Let all the peoples praise You." Then specifically he speaks of "the nations" being glad and singing for joy — an amazing change indeed for those who have been cold both toward the Lord Jesus and toward Israel! For they will witness the wonderful fact that this great King will judge the people in absolute righteousness, ruling in perfect equity the nations on earth. Throughout all history there has never been anything like this. The best of rulers have failed in many ways, while the majority of rulers have very manifestly sought to carry out legislation that will benefit their own country above others, or in many cases that which will be to their own personal advantage. Simple, unselfish righteousness never has been practiced. Democratic elections have not improved such a situation, for "government of the people, for the people, and by the people" is a principle that only increases the determination of people to oppose one another, and while they may talk of what is right, yet righteousness is not their prime consideration. How great will be the relief when the Lord Jesus takes His place of supreme power!

Verse 5 repeats what verse 3 has emphasized, but this time adding what will be the precious result of praise given by both Israel and all people, "Then the earth shall yield her increase" (v. 6), for blessing comes from "God, our own God." While it is true that believers are His, it is God's delight to have us know that He is ours. Wonderful grace indeed! Then when Israel will be manifestly so greatly blessed, this will cause all the ends of the earth to fear Him, their own God (v. 7). May the Lord indeed hasten that day!

Psalm 68

UNDER A NEW HEAD

A central verse in this psalm (v.18) beautifully indicates its main theme. Christ is seen (following His sacrifice and His resurrection) as ascended on High, the Head of a new creation, and therefore, the Source of all blessing for mankind, blessing that takes many more verses to describe than are needed in Psalm 67.

GOD GOING BEFORE (vv. 1-6)

"Let God arise." When God Himself arises, the first creation must give place completely to Him. There are those who think that God Himself is limited by the principles of the creation He first brought into being. But of that entire creation we are told, "They will perish, but You remain; and they will grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed. But You are the Same, and your years will not fail" (Heb. 1:11-12). Those who have taken advantage of the principles of the first creation to establish their own self-importance, and by this means show themselves enemies of God, will be scattered and flee away (v. 1), as mere smoke driven by the wind or as wax melting before the fire. h is impossible for the wicked to endure the presence of God, but the righteous will have reason to rejoice exceedingly (v. 3).

"Sing to God, sing praises to His name" (v. 4). As God He is supreme, figuratively riding on the clouds, that which appears to obscure, but which is perfectly subject to His control. But also "by His name Yah," meaning "He who is," that is, the self-existent One. These names themselves give us cause for deepest admiration and adoration.

Yet being so infinitely great, it is wonderful to observe that He is "a Father of the fatherless, a defender of widows" (v. 5). For, being the Head of a new creation, the Lord Jesus is tenderly concerned for the pure blessing and welfare of all those who have part in that creation. As Head He provides counsel, direction, nourishment and wisdom from His holy habitation. Those who have been solitary He sets in families, providing the fellowship that their hearts rightly crave, Also, those who have been in bondage He not only liberates, but changes their poverty into prosperity (v. 6). On the other hand, those whose attitude is rebellious are deprived of all fruitfulness, for they have refused all part in the new creation.

WHAT HAD GOD DONE IN THE PAST? (vv. 7-12)

In this section it is clearly recounted that God did not introduce a new creation because of Israel's failure, though their failure does indicate the fact that they could not be blessed on the basis of the first creation. But even under the dispensation of law, God's faithfulness and grace were clearly evident. He had gone out before His people, — marching with measured, decisive strides (v. 7). There had been no failure on His part: The earth shook before Him and the heavens dropped rain, and even Mount Sinai itself was moved by the presence of God (v. 8).

Thus, Israel being under law did not mean that God was withholding blessing from them. In fact, He sent a plentiful rain, confirming His inheritance (the nation Israel) when it was weary (v. 9). They are called "Y our congregation," for God blessed them wonderfully when they were under law, providing even for the poor because of His great goodness (v. 14).

Besides this God gave His Word to Israel, as He had not done for any other nation; and it was so clear that the company of those who proclaimed it was great (v. 11). Moreover, this produced remarkable results: kings of armies fled, such as is seen in the book of Joshua, and even those who remained at home (women) shared in the spoils of victory.

SANCTIFIED FOR THE SANCTUARY (vv. 13-19)

While we have seen truth being declared as to Israel under law, now Israel herself is addressed. She has known God only in His great power and compassion. Now she is to know Him in both His holiness and His pure love. Lying down among the sheep folds reminds us of Reuben in Judges 5:15-16. At a time when Israel went to war, the tribe of Reuben preferred the laxity of lying down among the sheep folds, typically of choosing the company of the people of God at a time when the enemy was threatening. Though Israel had taken this way out of responsibility, yet God would deal in such grace with her as to make her "like the wings of a dove covered with silver (v. 13). The dove reminds us of Christ as the heavenly offering, and Thus, Israel will be identified with Him whose love and sorrow are emphasized in the dove, but its wings covered with silver, the lovely symbol of redemption.

As in the days of the Judges, the Almighty scattered kings (cf. v. 12) in the land of Israel, and brought about purity "as white as snow," so He will do for Israel in a coming day (v. 14). For many kings will be gathered together against Israel at the time of the Great Tribulation, when the Lord Jesus will come in power and great glory, to scatter them, and to provide a miraculous purity as white as snow for Israel.

Verse 15 is more correctly translated as a question, "The mount of God, is it Mount Bashan? a mount of peaks, mount Bashan?" (Numerical Bible). Mount Bashan is here contrasted to Mount Sinai (v. 8), and yet is not the perfect answer to the condition of Israel that is exposed by the law of Sinai. Bashan means "the shame of them," and this only indicates the confessed guilt of Israel, which of course is the designed reason for the law. But the question of verse 15 indicates that we have to go further than Bashan to find full relief and blessing.

The peaks of Bashan therefore, look askance or "fume with envy" on the mount God has desired for His abode, where He will dwell perpetually (v, 16). What is this mount? It can only be Mount Zion, though it is not named here, (and not until Psalm 69:35). Its name means "sunny," and indicates Jerusalem when the Lord Jesus comes to dwell there, "The Sun of righteousness" arising "with healing in His wings" (Mal. 4:2). Why is Zion not mentioned till the end of Psalm 69? Is it not because Psalm 69 shows the sacrifice of Christ as being the necessary basis of all blessing for Israel?

"The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of thousands; the Lord is among them as in Sinai, in the Holy Place" (v. 17). Thus, as in the case of the giving of the law on Mount Sinai, there was manifest angelic activity (See Galatians 3:19), so it will be when Mount Zion is given her place of exaltation.

Verse 18 now emphasizes the basis of all this glory in Zion, that Christ is risen and ascended on high. He has led captivity captive, and has received gifts to distribute to men. "Captivity" is the state of bondage in which Israel has been held for centuries, but for them will only be relieved when the Lord Jesus returns in power and glory. But the verse is quoted in Ephesians 4:8 as having a clear application to the Church of God today, that is, immediately following the resurrection and ascension of the Lord; so that spiritual gifts are seen in all the present dispensation, with emphasis on apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Eph. 4:11). Thus, though Psalm 68 indicates the blessing of Israel, the Church has anticipated Israel in the fulfillment of this great blessing, in fact, having enjoyed this for near 2000 years before Israel finds its answer in Mount Zion.

Then it will be true indeed that they will bless the Lord who daily loads them with benefits, every day throughout their thousand years of peace, for they will then recognize the Lord Jesus as "the Mighty One," their salvation (v. 19). Again "Selah" is added, "pause and consider," for how marvelous will be the consideration that He is God!

ENEMIES SUBDUED (vv. 20-23)

The Mighty One who, being ascended on high, saves and blesses men, is seen also as prostrating all His enemies because to Him belong the issues from death (v. 20). He is greater than death, so clearly evidenced in His resurrection, therefore, certainly greater than every enemy. Not only their hands and feet (actions and walk) will be broken down, but their heads, their very thoughts and intellect will be struck down, no matter how hoary with age has been their experience in evil (v. 21).

The Lord will deal with Bashan (the result in humiliation of the work of law in Israel's heart), for though Israel has been brought low, as the law was intended to accomplish, God would bring Israel again from the depths of the sea, a wonderful and complete restoration. Israel would dip her foot in the blood of her enemies, and even their dogs would benefit by the destruction of those enemies (vv. 22-23).

ISRAEL NOW WITH GOD (vv. 24-27)

Enemies having been disposed of, Israel's eyes are directed to the goings of God, the Mighty One, in the sanctuary. Thus, being introduced into the very presence of God, all is seen to redound to the praise of His glory (v. 24). Singers go before the musicians, for their song has a message, while the musicians add the notes, from low to high, of sweet rejoicing, including maidens playing timbrels (v. 25). They delight to bless God in being gathered in congregations, not simply individually, for a blessed unity has been established by the power and grace of God. He indeed is "the fountain of Israel," the source of all refreshment (v. 26).

Why "little Benjamin" is singled out as the leader may be a question, with the princes of Judah being mentioned secondly. Why the princes of Zebulon and Naphthali are the only others mentioned is a question also that no doubt has an answer wiser than we discern (v. 27).

THE CONQUEST OF ALL THE EARTH (vv. 28-31)

Since Israel has been so greatly blessed in her established relationship to God, then certainly this involves the conquest of the whole world by the same Lord who subdues Israel. Israel's God has commanded the strength of Israel, with the resulting prayer on Israel's part that God may indeed strengthen the work of His grace on their account (v. 28).

Though for centuries there has been no temple at Jerusalem Israel's revival will necessitate the building of the temple, which will be the very center of all God's dealings on earth. Kings of the nations will bring presents to the Lord, as is declared in Zechariah 14:16, thereby acknowledging their submission to His sovereign authority (v. 29). Not that all will gladly submit at first, for "the beasts of the reeds and the herd of bulls with calves" will require the rebuke of God's power to subdue them (v. 30), but eventually all will submit themselves with pieces of silver, for silver speaks of atonement, therefore, this submission will involve the acknowledgment that the atonement accomplished by Christ on Calvary is the basis of blessing for them. Of course the beasts and herds of bulls are typical of men who have degraded themselves like beasts. On the other hand, those who delight in war will be scattered as a virtual nonentity. Even Egypt and Ethiopia will be drawn to submit to the King of Israel, receiving their blessing directly from God. (v. 31).

RESULTING CLOSING PRAISES (vv. 32-35)

Well may all the kingdoms of the earth be admonished to sing praises to the Lord, who is God, a fact so clearly established that it can be no longer contested, as even Israel today dares to contest it (v. 32). For now He will be seen to ride on the heaven of heavens, in other words, in absolute control of all the universe (v. 33). His mighty voice will be heard in every corner of the universe (v. 33), a voice that subdues everything under His authority.

How fully then will people respond to the demand, "Ascribe strength to God' (v. 34), realizing indeed that "His excellence is over Israel," the nation they will fully acknowledge as God's center of the earth. "His strength is in the clouds," that is, His strength is so great that it is in measure obscured from the observation of men. They know it, but it is far beyond their full knowledge.

When Jerusalem will be given its eventual honor of being recognized as "the holy city," there is no doubt that those who visit there will be impressed with its awe-inspiring character, and even more so with the sanctuary of the temple and its holy place. But the psalmist looks higher than this, to address God Himself as being more awesome than His holy place, a God worthy of deepest reverence and adoration (v. 35). He will be known then as indeed "the God of Israel," who condescends in amazing grace to give "strength and power to His people." "Blessed be God!"

Psalm 69

SUFFERING: THE SOURCE OF SALVATION

This psalm and Psalm 22 are more frequently quoted in the New Testament than are any other psalms. Both are typical of the offering of Christ, Psalm 22 emphasizing the sin offering aspect of His sacrifice, and Psalm 69 the trespass offering aspect. While this psalm However dwells much on the fact of the Lord's suffering under the hand of God, it does not go so far as Psalm 22:1, which speaks of His being forsaken by God.

SUFFERING, AND LINKING HIMSELF WITH OTHERS (vv. 1-6)

Verse 1 of this psalm reminds us of Hebrews 5:7, speaking of Christ, "who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from (out of) death, and was heard because of His godly fear." He was not saved from dying, but saved out of death by resurrection. However, the agony of His suffering is surely emphasized here. as He feels the floods of the waters of judgment at the time of His sacrifice on Calvary. It is not the literal water, of course, but He deeply felt the floods of God's judgment as overflowing Him (v. 2), judgment because of our sins, which involved His being weary with crying, His throat dried, His eyes failing while waiting for the intervention of God in resurrection power (v. 3).

To add to the fact of suffering under God's hand, He is also conscious of the hatred of those who have no right cause for hatred, yet were so numerous as being more than the hairs of his head (v, 4). Those mighty in the world united in seeking to destroy Him without cause. Also He speaks of restoring what He had not taken. Thus, it is plainly seen that He speaks of being the true trespass offering, for that offering required restitution for any harm done, with the fifth part added to it (Lev. 5:14-16), Though Christ had absolutely no wrong of His own to confess, yet He has taken the place of guilty sinners in offering Himself in sacrifice, and has Thus, made full restoration (and much more — Romans 5:9) on our behalf.

In verse 5 then it it evident that the Lord is speaking as representing all believers, whose foolishness and sins God well knows. thus, He allows no reason that those who wait for God (believers) should be ashamed or confounded, but just the opposite. Beautifully also, He addresses God not simply as His God, but the God of Israel, —Israel with whom He has graciously identified Himself.

FEELING THE ENMITY AGAINST HIMSELF (vv. 7-12)

This section goes back to the Lord's suffering before the cross, suffering from the hands of enemies. In these verses then He was not suffering from God, but suffering from men on account of His pure devotion to God. For His sake He had borne reproach; the shame of persecution had covered His face (v. 7). To His own brethren (according to the flesh) He had become a stranger, an alien to His mother's children (v. 8). John 7:3-5 records the slighting words of unbelief that His brothers spoke to him; for they did not believe in Him until after He had been sacrificed on Calvary.

His zeal for the house of God had virtually consumed His soul, the house of God involving all the interests of God in the world; so that He Himself bore the reproaches with which men reproached God (v. 9). Why did He suffer from men? Because he rightly represented God, against whom unbelieving men have strong antipathy. He wept and chastened His soul out of true concern for even His enemies, but this only increased their reproach (v. 10). He wore the clothing of mourning and repentance (sackcloth), and His very name became an object of contempt, just as today men dare to use His name in cursing (v. 11). Even those who occupied places of honor (sitting in the gate) spoke against him, as did the scribes and Pharisees; and in the lower ranks, He became the song of the drunkards. Thus, by all levels of society he was despised. But this very fact only increases the respect and honor that believers give to Him.

GOD HIS REFUGE (vv. 13-18)

Well might this section begin with the word "But," for now no matter how great the suffering, God is infinitely greater, and to Him in perfect confidence the soul of the Sufferer is lifted up. At the time of acceptance, atonement having been made on the cross, then his resurrection is the answer of God. In the abundance of His loving-kindness God answered Him, saving him out of death and exalting Him to His own right hand (v. 13). This was deliverance "out of the mire," deliverance both from those who hated Him and from the deep waters of God's judgment (v. 14). Though He did sink in the deep waters, they did not overflow or swallow Him up. Instead of the judgment consuming Him, He consumed the judgment fully, Thus, taking it completely away for those whose place He had taken in death (v. 15).

Though His soul went into Sheol (or in Greek, Hades), God would not leave Him there: the pit would not shut her mouth on Him. Certainly God would answer Him (v. 16), for it is God's very nature to do so: His loving-kindness is good. He asks God simply to act in consistency with his own nature and character: He delights in the multitude of God's tender mercies (v. 16). Certainly therefore, God would not hide his face from His own loved One when He was in trouble. He would hear speedily and deliver Him from all His enemies (vv. 17-18).

HIS HUMAN FEELINGS (vv. 19-21)

Because the Lord Jesus is truly Man, He felt as keenly as anyone else could the reproach, shame and dishonor that contemptuous men dared to show Him — indeed worse persecution than they would have shown to actual criminals. But such evildoers were all before the eyes of God, not realizing that he was taking full account of every word and action. "Reproach has broken my heart," the Lord Jesus says, "and I am full of heaviness" (v. 20). He looked for comforters, but even His own disciples had forsaken Him and fled: there was no-one to sympathize with Him. The utter loneliness of this is deeply pathetic. When, to fulfill scripture He said, "I thirst," they callously gave Him vinegar to drink (v. 21)

RIGHTEOUS RETRIBUTION (vv. 22-28)

The words here continue to be those of the Lord Jesus, though we may wonder why, in this case, He prays for the righteous judgment of God against His oppressors, while in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 23:34, His words from the cross were, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." The answer should not be difficult. In his heart there was truly the spirit of grace that honestly desired their forgiveness, and some at least have responded to such grace and are saved. But what of those who refuse the grace of forgiveness? They must in result suffer the consequences of their gross folly. Therefore, the Lord Jesus is perfectly right in calling for retribution on those who persist in their hateful persecution of their sinless Victim.

Their very table in which they trust would become a snare to them, and their prosperity a trap (v. 22). Because they have closed their eyes, then they would indeed become blind, and their loins, symbolical of strength, would be shaken continually (vv. 22-23). God would pour out His indignation on them (v. 24). This direct infliction from God is witnessed in the seven last plagues of Revelation 15:1, and when about to be poured out, called "the bowls of God's wrath" (Rev. 16:1).

Those who have been guilty of rejecting the Lord Jesus will find their dwelling place completely desolate, even their tents not occupied with any dwellers., "for they persecute Him whom You have struck, that is, God had struck Christ on account of our sins, but instead of showing appreciation of the willing sacrifice of Christ for their sakes, they had added their own persecution to God's judgment. How dreadfully contemptible! "And they talk to the grief of those You have wounded" (v. 26). This involves the identification of believers with the Lord in His being wounded, for unbelievers themselves see believers as identified with Christ, and therefore, they persecute them also.

Verse 27 is more correctly translated, "Impute iniquity according to their iniquity; and let them not come into thy righteousness" (Numerical Bible), that is, place the iniquity squarely upon their shoulders, where it belongs. How true for everyone who refuses the one and only sacrifice for sin that God can allow. If Christ has not borne their sin, they must themselves bear it.

"Let them be blotted out of the book of the living" (v. 28). This is not the book of life for only believers are in that book and can never be blotted out (Rev. 3:5). But by death unbelievers are blotted out of the book of the living, and cannot be written with the righteous.

VICTORY (vv. 29—33)

"But I" the psalmist writes, though poor and sorrowful, depends on God's salvation to set him up on high, victorious over every enemy. This gives him a song of praise and thanksgiving to the name of God (v.30), a response far more pleasing to the Lord than the outward offering of an ox or a bull, for the Lord seeks the response of our hearts rather than gifts that may have little heart in them. Not that He despises gifts if they are moved by heartfelt appreciation, but He seeks our hearts first.

"The humble shall see this and be glad" (v. 32). Those who have learned to take the low place will recognize in this the faithfulness of God, whose honor they are genuinely seeking. "For the Lord hears the poor and does not despise His prisoners" (v. 33). They may have no ox or bull to give, but this makes no difference to Him, because He looks on the heart.

GOD'S END ACHIEVED (vv. 34-36)

Not only the humble and the poor will be blessed in praising the Lord, but the end result will be that both heaven and earth will praise Him, as will be beautifully seen at the dawning of the millennium, and the seas will be added, with everything that moves in them. For there will be multitudes in heaven in that day, and on earth, which is typical of Israel, and the seas, the Gentile nations. They will all join in praising God (v. 34), "for God will save Zion and build the cities of Judah" (v. 35). The bitter enmity of nations against Zion and Judah will be marvelously changed into praise because of God's blessing to the city of God (Zion) and the nation that has so long been hated. Jews will dwell there in peace, possessing the land God promised them. Their descendants, from generation to generation, will inherit that land, with no fear of ever being dispossessed. For they will love the name of their God, the Lord Jesus Christ (v. 36).

Psalm 70

RESULTS CONTRASTED

It may seem strange that this psalm is a repetition of verses 13-17 of Psalm 40. Mere unbelief may scoff at this, but God is wiser than men, and the reason for the repetition is implied in the expression found in the inscription, "To bring to remembrance." Psalm 40 is the burnt offering psalm, and we have noted that Psalm 69 is that of the trespass offering. Since both of these emphasize the value of the sacrifice of Christ, is it not becoming that God would a second time bring to remembrance that marvelous sacrifice and its results? This at least should satisfy us that its inclusion here is appropriate, though we may be sure that God has more than this to teach us, slow as we may be to learn.

It is the cry of Christ we hear in verse 1, in view of the fact of His being brought down to the dust of death. Did God make haste to deliver Him? Yes, for he was in the grave only three days, then raised by the power of God. Thus, God's deliverance of the godly One is seen in beautiful contrast to the shame and confounding of those who sought His life (v. 2). They were turned back and confused when told by the soldiers of an angel rolling away the stone to expose an empty tomb! (Matt. 28:11-15). Their caustic words, "Aha, aha"(v.3) came back on their own heads. The contrast in those who sought the Lord is again recorded in verse 4. Rejoicing and glad, they say continually, "Let God be magnified." But the reminder is pressed upon us in verse 5, "I am poor and needy; make haste to help me, O God." Never shall we forget, in eternity, that the blessed Lord of glory has in great grace come down to become poor and needy on our account. This was absolutely essential before God answered Him in resurrection and exaltation to his own right hand.

Psalm 71

ISRAEL REVIVED

This psalm gives, not only the results on behalf of Christ, but on behalf of Israel, results of the value of the sacrifice of their blessed Messiah, for it contemplates Israel on resurrection ground, identified with Christ.

CONTINUAL PRESERVATION (vv. 1-5)

The prayer in this psalm reminds us of that of Psalms 69 and 70, but in this case the words are those of restored Israel, not of the Lord Jesus. Because the godly had taken refuge in the Lord, they may well have confidence that He would not allow them to be ashamed (v. 1). And because God is righteous He would deliver believing Israel, causing them to escape from whatever snares were laid for them (v. 2).

The Lord would without fail be their strong refuge, a rock of safety, continually available, for God had given the commandment to save them, being their rock and fortress (v. 3). While the wicked were still plotting against their lives, the unrighteous and cruel man was unchanged in evil purposes, yet God could be depended on to deliver the godly from all these (v. 4). For the Lord God Himself was their hope, their confidence even from their youth (v. 5).

ISRAEL GOD'S WITNESS (vv. 6-11)

It is God who has established Israel as His witness, whatever the nations may think of this. But from the time of Israel's birth as a nation (v.6), they have been witness to the fact of a Superior Power overshadowing them, so that their praise is continually of God. "I have been a wonder to many," she says, for any careful, serious observer cannot but be impressed with the way in which Israel has survived continual persecution while suffering for her failures also. The world does not understand this, but it is a testimony to the truth of the living God, and in spite of Israel's failure, God is still her refuge, so that her mouth may be filled with praise to Him (v. 8).

The psalmist pleads, "Do not cast me off in the time of old age" (v. 9). That nation was young and vigorous when brought as a child out of Egypt, but the weakness of old age is evident in the Tribulation period. While God would deeply test her then, will He cast her off? Certainly not! The enemy will continue his persecution, both speaking against them and lying in wait for their life, considering that in the time of their great weakness, God has forsaken them, and therefore, they (the enemy) have no reason to fear pursuing and capturing them (v. 11). But at the time of Israel's greatest distress, God will intervene.

DRAWING NEAR TO GOD (vv. 12-15)

In the midst of their Great Tribulation the godly will be moved deeply to draw near to God, the only source of help to those in utter weakness. Their cry will be earnest and urgent, "My God, hasten to my help" (v. 12), and God will certainly answer them by confounding and consuming their adversaries, covering them with reproach and dishonor. The godly then have reason to "hope continually" (v. 14), with their praise increasing. Thus, they may tell, not about their righteousness or even their faith, but of God's righteousness and His faithfulness, on which they may fully depend for salvation. The next expression, "For I do not know their limits" is more correctly translated, "for I do not know how to reckon it" (Numerical Bible), that is, human intellect is not sufficient to reckon the value of God's righteousness; for it is beyond human understanding, and yet to be understood in a very real measure.

THE PLACE OF CREATURE WEAKNESS (vv. 16-18)

Though their understanding is feeble, yet it is sufficient to convince them that if they are to be sustained at all in their pathway, they must go "in the strength of the Lord God" (v.16), for their strength is just as feeble as is their understanding, and they must depend on strength totally outside of themselves. Also, their own righteousness has no place of recognition. "I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only." Thus, they are brought back to taking the creature place which they had really left through their own self-confidence.

This reminds them too that God has taught them from their youth, that is, from the very time they became a nation in Egypt, though the teaching was long and arduous, hindered by their own folly and rebellion again and again. As they look back on their own history, they have great reason to declare God's wondrous works, works that involved marvelous patience (v. 17). Now also, when age has multiplied their failures and has caused great multiplication of God's mercies, can they not depend on Him to never forsake them? (v. 18). The evidence is so clear from the past that we should have no question whatever as to the future. This moves the psalmist in his desire to declare God's strength to the new generation and His power also to generations to come. For the godly in Israel will continue through the millennium with its many generations.

ISRAEL WITH GOD (vv. 19-21)

The language changes in these verses from prayer to a declaration such as verse 18 virtually promised, for Israel is seen now fully with God and realizes the wonder of the height of God's righteousness by which He has done great things on behalf of His redeemed saints, "0 God, who is like You?" The very question reduces all others to utter insignificance.

They will never forget that God has shown them great and severe troubles because of their own foolish rebellion, but just as he had allowed the troubles, so will He send a reviving, bringing them up from the depths of the earth, the earth which had become a virtual grave to a people dead in sins. "What will their acceptance be but life from the dead?" (Rom. 11:15).

Not only will they be revived to enjoy a new and vital life, but their greatness will be increased on every side, with the pure comfort of divine love. All nations will recognize their greatness then, though having held them in contempt for centuries!

A SONG OF VICTORY (vv. 22-24)

The psalm ends with a song, celebrating the victory of the Lord, with vibrant praise (v. 22). The accompaniment of the lute (or psaltery) is mentioned, indicating that there was both the song of the human voice and the stringed instrument employed in this praise. The faithfulness of God is prominently celebrated, for faithfulness eventually triumphs over every enemy. The harp is mentioned too, though we may not fully realize its significance spiritually.

But the lips are emphasized in verse 23, for "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." This is the expression of the soul, which the psalmist says, "You have redeemed." Thus, as so often in scripture, the song is connected with redemption (note Exodus 25).

If the singing cannot continue all day, at least they may "talk of Your righteousness all the day long" (v. 24). For the victory of God has been complete in totally confounding the enemy, bringing all to shame who had sought the harm of Israel.

Psalm 72

EARTH'S SALVATION COMPLETE

Though Israel's revival and God's victory has been celebrated in Psalm 71, it remains to spell out the results in blessing for Israel and the whole earth which will be enjoyed in the 1000 years of peace that will follow. This psalm is a prayer for Solomon, not of Solomon, for David wrote it (v. 20). Solomon's name means "peaceableness", for he is a type of Christ reigning in the millennium, after His warfare (typified in David's history) has subdued all enemies. Thus, it is appropriate that David should write in this way on behalf of Solomon, showing the great blessing that will attend the millennial reign of the Lord Jesus.

PEACE BASED ON RIGHTEOUSNESS (vv. 1-4)

In contrast to the rule of all previous kings, that of the Lord Jesus will be one of perfect righteousness. What wonderful relief for a world so torn by the cruel authority of unrighteous men! It will be God's righteousness manifested in the reign of the Lord Jesus, who is called here both "the King" and "the King's Son," for while he reigns as King, He will be known also as "Son of David" (v. 1). "He will judge Your people with righteousness and Your poor with justice" (v. 2). Only then will the poor be properly considered, though meanwhile in the Church of God it is insisted by the Spirit of God in the apostles, "They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also (Paul) was eager to do" (Gal. 2:10). Thus, today, though public government does not care properly for the poor, the Church of God is made responsible to do so, though of course in a very limited sphere.

"The mountains will bring peace to the people, and the little hills by righteousness" (v. 3). The mountains speak of higher governmental authorities, and the little hills, lesser authorities. The very presence of the Lord Jesus at the introduction of His kingdom will so affect the governments that they will also act in righteousness (v. 3). Thus, by His authority justice will be brought to the poor of the people, and salvation to the children of the needy (v. 4), breaking in pieces the oppressor.

CONSISTENT PROSPERITY (vv. 5-11)

Men's fear of the King of kings will continue through the millennium — "as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations" (v. 5). His rule of peace will be like the refreshing rain that waters the earth, to make it being forth welcome fruit (v. 6). How different than a pelting deluge that inundates all before it, as the rule of some despots have been! in Christ it is wonderful to see absolute power combined with the gentleness of tender compassion.

"In His days the righteous shall flourish" (v. 7), though having been long oppressed while the wicked prospered. "Abundance of peace" is a most descriptive expression. But "until the moon is no more" no doubt reminds us that the moon is typical of the nation Israel, that which reflects the light of the Sun (the Lord Jesus). Will Israel come to an end? Yes, for after the millennium, in the eternal state, there will be no more nations as such, but we are told, "The tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people" (Rev. 21:3). We shall remember also, we are told "there was no more sea" (Rev. 21:1), that is typically, no more nations. Division of 'various nations originated because of man's sin, so this will be entirely reversed. The Church of God however originated in God's eternal counsels, so it is seen in the eternal state as "a bride adorned for her husband" (Rev. 21:2). While that city, the New Jerusalem, is named for the Bride, the Church, yet all believers in heaven, from Adam onwards, will have their part in that city, because they "are written in the Lamb's book of life (Rev. 21:27).

"And He shall have dominion from sea to sea." This cannot be the Dead Sea, for Israel's boundary goes far beyond that, so that it seems to mean from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf. "And from the River to the ends of the land"(v. 8) is no doubt the Euphrates River to the western bounds of the land of Israel, which is seen in Genesis 15:18 in God's promise to Abraham. Israel has not yet possessed all that land, but will do so in the millennium.

Even those living in the wilderness will not be isolationist, but will bow before the Lord Jesus: all enemies will "Lick the dust" (v. 9). Kings of Tarshish and of island areas will bring presents, whether they have previously been friendly or not (v. 10). In fact, "all kings shall fall down before Him; all nations serve Him (v. 11).

FULLNESS OF BLESSING (vv. 12-20)

Because of the faithfulness of the Messiah, the cry of the needy and the afflicted will be heard and answered by complete deliverance (v. 12). They will be spared and saved (v. 12). In fact, added to this is the assurance of their life being redeemed that is, brought back from the bondage of oppression by means of the only redemption price allowable by God, that is, the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus on Calvary (v. 14). Their blood will be precious in God's sight, just as was the blood of Abel (Gen. 4:10). This will be true whether their blood is actually shed or whether the enemy only plotted their death, Verse 5 is translated in the Numerical Bible, "And he shall live; and to him shall be given the gold of Sheba; and prayer shall be made for him continually: all the day shall he be blessed." It seems that the verse has a close connection with verses 12-14, that is, the godly remnant of Israel shall not only be spared, saved and redeemed, but "he shall live," receiving a new life —eternal life, —and also given the gold of Sheba — that which speaks of the preciousness of the knowledge of Christ as the Son of God. How deeply valuable this will be to them then, since Israel had first rejected Christ because He said He is the Son of God! Added to this blessing, we are told, "prayer shall be made for him continually." that is, Christ will Himself intercede for the godly continually. How wonderful it is that believers today know the blessedness of all these benefits even now, and godly Israelites will know them most sweetly in a coming day! "All the day shall he be blessed, the entire day of the millennium.

Verse 17 then returns to speak plainly of Christ, whose name shall endure forever, for He is the One on whom the godly depend. "His name shall continue as long as the Sun," which we have seen is "forever," and men shall be blessed in Him, the only One in whom there is real blessing. So that all nations will voluntarily call Him blessed.

Little wonder indeed that the psalm ends with a beautiful ascription of glory and honor given to the Lord God of Israel, who only does wondrous things (v. 18). His glorious name will be blessed forever, with the whole earth being filled with His glory. The heartfelt response to this is "Amen and Amen" (v. 19).

Verse 20 does not mean there will be no more psalms written by David, for there are a number of these. Evidently it seems to mean that David's psalms do not go beyond the subject of Psalm 72.

This completes the Second Book of the Psalms, in which we have seen a great deal that compares with the second book of Scripture, Exodus, where we find deep exercises of soul on the part of a people suffering in bondage, crying to God for His delivering mercy, which leads soon to His intervening for them in marvelous kindness, with no compromising of righteousness, but in answer to genuine repentance, leading them through deep waters, to find themselves established in peace on resurrection ground, to sing the song of redemption.

Psalms 73-89 (Third Book)

Psalm 73

GOD'S HOLINESS AND SUFFERING OF THE RIGHTEOUS

This psalm begins the third book of Psalms. the first eleven of which are psalms of Asaph. The third book (the Leviticus section) has much to say about the sanctuary and the need of the sanctuary for the suffering people of God. Now in Psalm 73, though lack of faith may question God's allowing the prosperity of the wicked and the suffering of the righteous, yet the last is shown to magnify the wisdom and the holiness of God, and indeed also his love.

PERSONAL BEWILDERMENT (vv. 1-3)

Though the evidence was perfectly clear that God is good to Israel, yet Asaph himself was in a quandary. As he says, his feet were almost gone, his steps had very nearly slipped. Why? Because he saw the prosperity of the wicked (v. 3). Though he was a believer in the goodness of God, he was envious of those who could boast of wealth and prominence. Certainly there have been many who have followed his lead in this natural bent. But it is a very real test for everyone. What is the motive behind this envy? It is plain, palpable selfishness! How much better to be objective in considering this matter! — that is, to regard it from God's viewpoint rather than our own.

CONTRARY TO NORMALCY (vv. 4-5)

Even in the death of the ungodly there appears to be no suffering such as many others have (v. 4), but they seem to remain as firm in their rebellion against God as they have been through all their life. Though decidedly wicked in their character, yet so frequently they avoid the troubles that afflict men generally. Of course, this is not true of all the wicked, for some suffer great trouble on account of their sins even on earth; but there are many who keep God out of their lives and live in selfish pleasure with practically no adversity. Job spoke of this to his three friends (Job 21:7-17), none of whom could give him any answer as to why such men were allowed to live out their whole lives in selfish pleasure.

PROUD CORRUPTION (vv. 6-9)

Because God is patient in not bringing swift judgment on their ways, their pride is only increased, as it were a necklace to adorn their stiff necks. God's patience is mistaken for indifference, and violence is a major part of their life (v.6). "Their eyes bulge with abundance; they have more than heart could wish" (v. 7). No doubt God allows this as a test, and they don't realize it, therefore utterly fail the test, scoffing at the oppression of the poor, rather than feeling that attitude to be one of wickedness (v. 8). They speak contemptuously of those they consider lower than themselves, and even "against the heavens," as though they were superior to God! (v. 9). "Their tongue walks through the earth," free to go where it pleases in mockery and self-will.

OTHERS INFLUENCED BY SUCH EVIL (vv. 10-14)

When people see the prosperity of the wicked, they are emboldened to follow them in their evil ways. It was so even amongst God's people Israel. What shortsighted folly! "Waters of a full cup are drained by them." They take advantage of the opportunity to drain a full cup of water, being concerned only for their own welfare, but thinking that God does not know (v. 11). They question insolently, "Is there knowledge in the Most High?" For since God does not intervene to indicate His displeasure, they brazenly think they are getting away with evil. They conceive God to be no more intelligent than they are!

Such are the ungodly, who are always at ease, increasing in riches (v. 12), while Asaph felt he had cleansed his heart in vain, washing his hands in innocence. He saw no good results of his innocence, such as the wicked apparently reaped from their evil. "All day long" he had been plagued, not only during the day, but again when a new morning broke (v. 14). it seemed incessant, but God sent it to be a necessary "trial of faith," — a faith that will triumph no matter how severe the trial.

THE END, AS TO GOD'S GOVERNMENT (vv. 15-20)

Could Asaph possibly join, as others did, with the wicked in their endeavors? — that is, if he spoke as did the ungodly, he realized he would be untrue to the generation of God's children. How painful was his predicament! His conscience and his faith in God would not permit him to adopt the attitude of the ungodly, yet in standing apart from them he could not expect to prosper as they did. Trying hard to understand this, he found it too painful for him — until he went into the sanctuary of God. He deeply needed God's presence if he was to find any answer to his problem, — and there he found an unexpected but perfectly righteous answer. He then understood their end (v. 17).

Their prosperity was only temporary and brief. They may think that death is the end, but the New Testament tells us, "It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment" (Heb. 9:27). Though God may be patient in reference to settling His accounts, yet he will do so with unerring accuracy.

"Surely You set them in slippery places." Prosperity is not as secure as men think it to be, but is only a slippery slope, leading to destruction (v. 18), for it is God who has set them on this slippery slope, they thinking it safe, but eventually finding it only to be leading to destruction. When death comes they are brought to desolation in a moment (v. 19), and utterly consumed with terrors. To quote from the Numerical Bible, "Their prosperity, while it deceives them, is but the image of a dream, vanishing when men awake; — is but this, when the Lord arises and shows it is their folly and shame." That is, the ungodly awake suddenly when death comes, to find that the Lord has virtually awaked after long patience, to show himself as despising the image of their dreams.

GOD'S DISCIPLINE (vv. 21-26)

Though the ungodly are judged, believers are disciplined, or "chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world" (1 Cor. 11:32). Asaph learned this by his experience. His heart was grieved, his mind torn with vexation, which he admits was foolishness and ignorance (vv. 21-22). In fact, he realizes that his attitude had been like that of a beast, moved only by instinct and not by the reasoning power that ought to characterize a man.

"Nevertheless, I am continually with You." In spite of his questionings, Asaph realizes that God does not leave him, as is true of every believer. Is not God's presence sufficient for him, no matter what problems may arise? God was holding him by his right hand, though he little understood the reality of this, and faith realizes "You will guide me with Your counsel" even in the midst of his distress at present, then "afterward receive me to glory" (v. 24). What a contrast to the "end" of the wicked when death overtakes them!

Well may the heart therefore look far above the present apparent circumstances to find its rest and contentment in the living God! "Whom have I in heaven but You?" This is surely clear and elementary for a believer, therefore it should follow, "There is none upon earth that I desire besides You" (v. 25). Though his flesh and his heart fail, as his experience had taught him, yet he could confidently say, "But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." What comparison is there between the few short years of his life and "forever"? Certainly it is the eternal issue that really counts!

SUMMING UP (vv. 27-28)

Thus, Asaph finds a perfectly satisfactory conclusion. As to those who prospered in the world, but with hearts far removed from God, they shall perish, for God Himself will destroy all those who choose falsehood rather than His favor.

In contrast, Asaph finds it good to draw near to God. In God's presence he does not need to compare his circumstances with those of others. Rather, putting his trust in the Lord, he finds true pleasure in declaring all God's works to others (v. 28).

Psalm 74

PLEADING FOR DELIVERANCE

This psalm is that of Asaph too, but in contrast to Psalm 73, there is no envy of the wicked expressed, but rather a longing desire for deliverance from the wicked, who have gone so far as to invade God's sanctuary (v. 3). The wicked are seen then as they actually are the enemies of God who are causing suffering to the godly, and from whom the godly are pleading to be delivered.

THE CAUSE OF THEIR CRY (vv. 1-3)

Because the believing remnant of Israel feel as though they are cast off perpetually (not forever", but it seems interminably), they attribute this to God's anger smoking against them, though they are the sheep of His pasture (v. 1). They feel their troubles to be, not only the persecution of enemies, but the disciplining hand of God, which is the proper way for a believer to feel his afflictions, for it is only God who can give a proper answer.

They ask that God will remember His inheritance, — as though He could ever forget! God had purchased and redeemed them, as Exodus 15 had clearly recorded, and had brought them to Mount Zion to dwell in His presence. Certainly He did not forget His own gracious work among His inheritance, nor did He forget Mount Zion, the center of His own dealings with His people. The desolations now caused by the enemy in the sanctuary were so foreign to God's ways that the godly were deeply frustrated. Yet we must always remember that God uses the most cruel and offensive ways of the enemy to discipline His people — for then we stop to listen!

THE ENEMY'S ACTIONS (vv. 4-9)

"Your enemies roar in the midst of your meeting place" (v. 4). Notice, they do not say, "our enemies," but realize that this is much more serious, for God's own enemies have found their way into that which is God's property, setting up their own business as signs of their conquest. This was similar to those who were buying and selling in the temple in the Lord's time, and whom He threw out. Rather than using axes to cut down trees outside, they were using them to break down the carved work of the sanctuary (v. 5). For they have come, not simply to take possession, but to destroy, both breaking down and setting on fire that which was built as the dwelling of God, defiling it. This was not only done on the spur of the moment, for they had previously said in their hearts, "Let us destroy them altogether" (v. 8). It was a planned project in bitter enmity against God, and "all the meeting places of God in the land" had suffered this burning destruction.

Pathetically, the godly add, "We do not see our signs," signs which in the past had encouraged their faith in the living God, but were lacking now because of their own lack of faith. Nor could they consult a prophet of God, for God had not raised up such a man. Also, among the people, no one had knowledge of how long this state of affairs might continue (v. 9).

WHERE IS THE GLORY OF GOD? (vv. 10-11)

Deeply troubled, Asaph cries, "0 God, how long?" For what matters most in this affliction is the question of God's glory. Will the enemy never be stopped from blaspheming His name? (v. 10). Why has God withdrawn His hand as though He were not concerned? They plead with Him (unnecessarily) to take His hand out of His bosom to destroy the enemy. God will do this in His own time and in His own way, for He cares for His own glory more rightly than we do.

GOD IN CONTROL OF NATURE (vv. 12-17)

Has God not proven Himself absolutely dependable in the past? Yes indeed. He has been Israel's King from all past ages, working salvation in the midst of Egyptian oppression (v. 12). The mighty sea that barred their escape from Egypt was divided by God's superior power, causing Israel to marvel at their deliverance. He broke the head of the sea serpent in the waters, speaking of the satanic power by which they were threatened.

"You broke the heads of Leviathan in pieces" (v. 14). Leviathan is evidently a crocodile, in this case referring to Egypt (see Ezekiel 32:2), The heads of that nation were broken to pieces, and in effect given as food for people who inhabited the wilderness. In one respect, when Israel was brought out of Egypt into the wilderness, they could feed on the results of God's victory over Egypt.

"You broke open the fountain and the flood" (v. 15). When Israel was in need of water, God broke open the fountain, giving water from a rock! He was able also to sweep away the opposition of enemies as though by a a flood, thus, the water He gave proved a blessing to Israel, but devastating to their enemies. He also, dried up mighty rivers before them, such as the Jordan.

"The day," the time when all is clear and open, "is Yours;" and "the night," when all is obscure and men think they can get away with evil doing, "also is yours" (v. 16). Both day and night are alike to God: He has ordained them as they are, and is in perfect control of them. He has "prepared the light and the sun." All nature is His own creation, subject to His authority and constantly ministering to mankind. He has set the boundaries of the earth, allowing the sea to come so far and no farther (v. 17). In fact, God has ordained Israel's boundaries, and no doubt also the boundaries of other nations, so that they are not so independent as they like to think. Added to this is the declaration that God has made summer and winter, another matter that man cannot change.

GOD WILL RECOMPENSE (vv. 18-23)

With God's authority over all nations thus established, is it possible that He should forget the contemptible reproach of His enemies against Him? Of course, he will remember, though the recompense will be in His own time. What foolishness indeed is man guilty of in blaspheming the name of the Almighty! (v. 18).

Asaph pleads for the life of God's turtledove, that it should not be delivered to a wild beast. The turtledove is a picture of helplessness, but a clean bird, symbolizing the poor and oppressed of Israel, whom God will certainly not forget "Have respect to the covenant; for the dark places of the earth are full of the haunts of cruelty" (v. 20). This is certainly not the covenant of law, for under law Israel could expect no favor from God; but the New Covenant is altogether a promise of blessing from God to Israel, with no requirement on Israel's part (Jer. 31:31-34). God will have respect for this, no matter how dark and full of cruelty are the haunts of evil men.

How perfectly good God is toward the oppressed, who will not return ashamed to the place God has set his name, but will rather be filled with praise to His name (v. 21). "Arise, O God, plead Your own cause (v. 22). Thus, the godly will long for God's intervention, but they may do so with fullest confidence if only they realize the greatness and faithfulness of their Creator. Though He is patient even with the daily reproaches of foolish men, He does not forget the insulting voice of His enemies; and. their tumult, constantly increasing, will certainly receive its righteous recompense in His time.

Psalm 75

CHRIST REPRESENTING AND REVEALING GOD

It appears very clear that the voice heard in this psalm is that of the Lord Jesus, though in the first verse he uses the plural pronoun, "we," for He represents the godly, who gladly join with Him in His ascription of praise to God. The psalm celebrates the Lord's taking the throne of His glory, judging in absolute truth and faithfulness, thus abasing the ungodly and exalting those who willingly bow to His authority.

THE KING JUDGING UPRIGHTLY (vv. 1-5)

Uniting with the godly in Israel, the Lord Jesus as their recognized King, gives thanks to God, for the day of His manifestation as King of kings and Lord of lords will indeed be cause for profound thanksgiving (v. 1). The wondrous works of God throughout the Great Tribulation will bear clear witness that His name is near indeed. Christ will Himself be the blessed manifestation of God's glory, so that His name will be evident to, and honored by all the world.

How clear is the evidence that Christ Himself is no less than the eternal God; for He says, "When I choose the proper time, I will judge uprightly" (v. 2). He has borne patiently with the world's evil for many centuries, but it is He who decides the proper time to take the throne to judge in perfect righteousness, in contrast to all who have ever reigned before him. Then the land (of Israel) and all its inhabitants will be "dissolved" (v. 3), a. reminder of Psalm 46:6, "The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the land melted." Thus, the hearts of the people will melt in self-judgment, as Zechariah 12:10-14 plainly declares. But this dissolving will not be eradication, rather the humbling preparation for the Lord's power and grace in setting up its pillars firmly. Thus, Israel, after her breaking down, will be lifted up and established firmly by their true Messiah.

What power His Word will have then, when He says to the boastful,

"Do not deal boastfully" (v. 4) and to the wicked, "Do not lift up the horn." Who will be able to resist His incisive Word? The horn speaks of the assuming of power, but the Word of the King will prove any such assumption of the wicked to be false (v. 5). Their speaking with a stiff neck, that is, in obstinate rebellion against the truth, will be swept into the discard.

HIS TESTIMONY OF DISCRIMINATING JUDGMENT (vv. 6-10)

Rather than being put down by the enemy, the godly will find themselves exalted. But exaltation will not come from the east, the west, or the south. Why is the north not mentioned? Because at this time (the tribulation period) the king of the north will be Israel's attacker. Where then are they to look for help? In whatever direction they look, the help will not come from there (v. 6). For "God is the Judge" (v. 7), and God (their King) is of course, Christ, He who knows how to put one down and exalt another, His judgment will be thoroughly discriminating, abasing those who exalt themselves and exalting those previously humbled.

What a cup of unpleasant drugs will the wicked then be forced to drink! — a cup given them from the hand of the Lord (v. 8). The wine being red symbolizes the dreadful bloodshed that will take place at that time, — in fact blood to the horses' bridles through the whole land of Israel (Rev. 14:20). The bridle is that by which the war horse is controlled, and the bloodshed will be so dreadful as to be beyond man's control. Thus, the judgment of this true King will clearly distinguish between the godly and the wicked, so that the godly will have occasion to "declare forever, I will sing praises to the God of Jacob" (v. 9). Though Israel has been like Jacob in her wanderings, God is still "the God of Jacob:" His grace is that which stands out in regard to that nation, for they will appreciate grace at that time, while the ungodly recognize no need for grace. "The horns of the wicked" therefore will be cut off: all their assuming of power will be taken away. But the horns of the righteous, the assuming of power in communion with the King of kings, will be exalted. It is certainly not that they have sought power for themselves, but are given it by pure grace. Thus, those who seek power for themselves will be left destitute of it, while those who take the place of meek submission to the King will be given power they did not seek. The Lord will fully trust them not to abuse the power with which they will be entrusted , for they depend simply on Him.

Psalm 76

Since we have seen in Psalm 75 the Lord Jesus exalted to the place that is rightly His as King of kings, it follows in Psalm 76 that mankind is put in his place of complete nothingness. Indeed it is this subjugation which, when submitted to, works for man's greatest blessing.

THE REIGN OF PEACE BEGINS (vv. 1-3)

The re-uniting of Judah with Israel is beautifully seen here. God (the Lord Jesus) is known in Judah, and no less great in Israel (v. 1). And Jerusalem is called "Salem" once again, which means "peace," the place of God's dwelling, which is also named "Zion" here, which, meaning "sunny," is a name given to Jerusalem as being greatly blessed in the millennium (v. 2). Taking control in that city, the Lord Jesus "broke the arrows of the bow, the shield and sword of battle" (v. 3). What marvelous relief when all these instruments of war are totally demolished! Little wonder that the word "Selah" is added here —"pause and consider." Long centuries of warfare are quickly brought to a permanent end!

MIGHTY MEN HUMILIATED (vv. 4-6)

How clear it will be then that Christ is "more glorious and excellent than the mountains of prey," that is, the mountains around Jerusalem that have for centuries been a prey to the nations. He will not depend on the mountains for His support, for He is personally infinitely greater than they (v. 4). The stout-hearted (those who boast in their strength) had been plundered, reduced to nothing more than a dead sleep (v. 5). The hands of the mighty had become useless. For the rebuke of the God of Jacob had stripped them of every means of warfare — "chariot and horse," — and nothing will remain of their assumed power.

WRATH FROM HEAVEN (vv. 7-9)

Though Israel has before feared the power of the enemy, then they will realize how great the change, "You, Yourself are to be feared." When once His anger burns, who can possibly stand in His presence? (v. 7). For His judgment is heard from heaven, a sphere outside of man's general conception, strange, mysterious, awe-inspiring. "The land feared and was still," that is, Israel (the land), brought to fear God deeply, can do nothing but be quiet (v. 8). For it is God (the Lord Jesus) who arose to judgment, to deliver all the oppressed of the land. Of course, this means the judgment of the oppressors and deliverance for their victims.

ALL THE EARTH SUBDUED (vv. 10-12)

"Surely the wrath of man shall praise You" (v. 10). How is this so? The fact that God allows man's wrath to exert its utmost venom against

God, only serves to show how great God is in defeating it. Nor will God allow man's wrath to go beyond a certain limit, for whatever remains of man's wrath God will restrain from exerting itself as it might desire.

If making vows to God, people are told to pay them, for a vow is nothing if it is not kept (v. 11). In fact, the Lord Jesus in the New Testament tells us not to vow at all (Matt. 5:34-37), though the Old Testament allowed this. Will the Old Testament principle then apply in the millennium? It seems from this verse that this will be so, and if so, paying them will be the most vital matter. At least it will be expected that people will willingly bring presents to the One who ought to be feared. They will certainly have reason for this since they will know then that He gave Himself for them at Calvary.

On the other hand, those who have expected honor from men will be cut off (v. 12) Whether princes or kings, how many then will find an awesome end to their pretensions!

Psalm 77

GOD'S WAY IN THE SEA AND IN THE SANCTUARY

The deep exercise of soul on the part of the psalmist here reminds us of the way in which Job was affected by the afflictions God allowed to try hint Mt just as Job had his eyes first on God's way in the sea, so hard and unexplainable, then at last God's way in the sanctuary, so Asaph found both experiences to be necessary in order to understand God as he ought.

THE CAUSE OF DISTRESS (vv. 1-3)

Asaph speaks of crying to God and being given the confidence of God's hearing him (v.1). But then he returns to dwell on the way in which he had been affected by the trouble that was pressing upon his soul. In that trouble he sought the Lord (v. 2), stretching out his hands without ceasing during his nights of distress, and at the time refusing to be comforted. Why was this? In seeking the Lord, did he neglect reading God's Word? If we neglect that Word, how do we expect God to comfort us?

Actually, he "remembered God and was troubled," rather than comforted. But God is "the God of all comfort" (2 Cor. 1:3), and even the first five books of scripture could have given Asaph that comfort, but instead he complained and his spirit was overwhelmed. If our resources are only in ourselves, we shall be overwhelmed too. Yet this is an experience that many believers find to be a very real trial.

ASAPH'S CONFLICT WITH HIMSELF (vv. 4-6)

Evidently when Asaph wanted to sleep, he thought that God was holding his eyes open, though it was his own worry that caused this, for he was virtually fighting with himself, being so troubled that he could not speak (v. 4). Yet he had considered the days of old, the years of ancient times, no doubt wondering why God did not intervene for him as He did for Israel long ago (v. 5). Also he remembered the time when he himself had cause for singing even in the night (v. 6). Why did this not continue? As Job had done, so he meditated in his heart, but this brought no answer to a distressed heart. If meditating on the truth of the Word of God, how much more fruitful this would have been! Searching our own hearts will only lay bare the helplessness and sinfulness of these hearts, and thus such employment will result in raising the questions of verses 7-9.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS (vv. 7-10)

Thus, we are faced with deeply pertinent questions. Can we for a moment believe what is suggested in the questions, "Will the Lord cast off forever? And will He be favorable no more? (v. 7). No believer, even Job, could entertain such thoughts, though they may in distressing moments suggest themselves to his mind. The knowledge of who God is surely testifies strongly against His withdrawing His favor from any believer.

The second two questions (v. 8) though similar, have a different application, "Has His mercy ceased forever? Has His Word failed forevermore? Favor (or grace) is the positive bestowal of blessing, while mercy is the compassion shown in circumstances of need. Can we imagine God ceasing to show mercy when one is in dire need? But more vital yet is the suggestion that God's Word (not merely His promise) would- fail forevermore! This strikes sharply at God's very nature. Is he true or not? Rather, His Word will not fail for a moment, let alone forever!

Then the third set of questions would again, if entertained, bring God's nature into question. "Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies? (v.9). Is it possible for God to forget? Is he God, or not? Has He become so angry that He has cut off all possibility of showing His characteristic tender mercies? Men may become so angry as to lose control of themselves, but God's anger is always consistent with His love. Because He loves good, He is angry with 'what attacks good, and his anger is perfectly wise, for it is anger against evil, and therefore active on behalf of good. Always it has in view the greatest good of believers.

Little wonder therefore that Asaph realizes that his questioning is the result of his own infirmity (v.10). After all, how can he depend on the feelings or experiences of one who has barely lived for an extremely short time, that is, himself? — especially when he considers the years of the experience of the right hand of the Most High. How great an understatement is this! At least, we should give God credit for knowing a little more than we do!

GOD KNOWN BY VITAL EXPERIENCE (vv. 11-15)

Looking back at God's ways in the past, — long before he was born,

Asaph then remembers God's works, indeed His "wonders of old" (v. 11). This would include creation, then God's dealings in the flood, His choosing and blessing Abraham, raising up the nation Israel, and showing His power in their deliverance from Egypt, bringing them through the wilderness into the promised land, and many other marvelous works of power and grace. Today we can add to these the wonders of the New Testament, the incarnation of the Son of God, His life of great goodness, His sacrifice of infinite value, His resurrection and ascension back to heaven.

How infinitely precious it is to meditate thus on all God's work and to speak of His deeds! (v. 12). The contemplation of all these wonderful works is more than sufficient to fill our hearts with eternal praise. For though we shall see in verse 19 God's way to be "in the sea," so far as our experience is concerned, yet in verse 13, we are beautifully assured, "Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary." Certainly only in God's presence, in the calmness of the sanctuary shall we truly learn God's way, and realize that none could possibly be so great a God as our God, the God who does wonders. If this could be said in the Old Testament, how much more in the New! Creation and its resulting blessings are marvelous indeed, but redemption by the blood of Christ and its blessings are far more wonderful still. And at the time of which the psalm speaks, God will have declared His strength among all the peoples of the earth (v. 14). With His arm he will have redeemed His peoples, the sons of Jacob and Joseph (v. 15). For though the work of redemption was accomplished at Calvary, and believers of the present time enjoy it, yet only as the millennium is introduced will Israel also partake of the blessing of redemption. Jacob is mentioned to indicate their unworthiness of the blessing, while Joseph indicates the place of blessing to which God will elevate His people.

GOD'S WAY IN THE SEA (vv. 16-20)

Verse 16 reminds us of Israel's passage of the Red Sea, when the waters responded to God's action; but the main purport of this section has to do with His actions during the Great Tribulation, when creation itself will tremble because of His intervention. The clouds pouring out water (v. 17) are seen in contrast to a gentle, refreshing rain. The water symbolizes the Word of God, which is of great blessing to the earth that drinks it in, but a deluge of water is devastating, as is God's Word in judgment. The lightning flashes accompanying this can be virtually terrifying, together with the thunder of the voice of God, causing the earth to tremble and shake (v. 18). Thus, in the Tribulation His way is in the sea, too obscure to be understood by mankind, in contrast to His way in the sanctuary (v. 19). But as in days of old, He led His people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron (v. 20), so He will lead them through the Tribulation by sovereign power, whether or not any individuals arise as leaders at the time.

Psalm 78

A RESUME OF GOD'S WAYS WITH ISRAEL

This psalm gives a striking overview of Israel's history from the time of her birth as a nation until the time of David, particularly showing the gracious way in which the Lord dealt with them and their general response of disobedience and self-will in whatever circumstances they were found. Yet with all their departure and sin, God's grace is seen to triumph in the end, for "He shepherded them according to the integrity of His heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of His hands' (v. 72).

GOD'S ABUNDANT PROVISION (vv. 1-8)

It is God who bids His people to give ear to His law, little as they have done so in the past (v. 1), and to incline their ears to hear His words. Asaph is His mouthpiece here, who opens his mouth in a parable, but we look far higher than Asaph for the Source of this parable, in which dark (or enigmatic) truths are involved (v. 2). They had heard something of these from their fathers, so that Asaph was not actually telling something new, but emphasizing the significance of the history of Israel. For the significance of the things we are acquainted with is often lost in spite of our knowledge.

Children also should be well informed of Israel's history (v. 4), for it certainly manifests the praises of the Lord, and young hearts should learn early to be worshippers, learning the strength of the Lord and the wonderful works He has done. For early in their history God established a testimony to Himself in Jacob, appointing a law in Israel, in fact a law far wiser than any laws adopted by the nations (v. 5). In commanding their fathers, He made it clear that His laws should be taught to the children, that the following generation might be also fully informed and be the means of passing this on from one generation to another (v. 6).

This was to be done that each generation might set their hope in God, not forgetting His marvelous works, but truly keeping His commandments (v. 7). Thus, with such positive obedience, they might be kept from the negative character their fathers had shown of stubborn rebellion (v. 8). For they were a generation that had not rightly set its heart, their spirit being not faithful to God. Why should this have been, when God had so greatly blessed them?

THEIR WAYS A CONTRAST TO GOD'S GOODNESS (vv. 9-16)

The sons of Ephraim are emphasized in this section, though being armed and carrying bows, yet turning back in the day of battle (v. 9). Clearly Ephraim represents all Israel in this case, but why? Ephraim had been greatly blessed and exalted as the preferred son of Joseph, though Manasseh was the first-born. Joshua, who led Israel into the land, was far from Ephraim (Num 13:8), and Ephraim had every encouragement to be faithful to the Lord. In fact, of Joseph we read, "His bow remained in strength" (Gen. 49:24), a total contrast to Ephraim turning back, though armed. Thus, those most greatly blessed in Israel, when tested by the attack of enemies, turned back, deserting the testimony of God.

Not only was this failure in keeping the covenant of God, but it was stubborn refusal to do so (v. 10). Thus, our troubles do not come generally through ignorance, but from stubbornly doing what we know is wrong. Why did they forget God's works and His former wonders? (v. 11). Because they had no regard for God Himself!

Some of these wonders are detailed in verses 12-26, things that were marvelous indeed. In the land of Egypt there were the ten plagues God sent, in which Egypt had suffered while Israel was protected (v. 12). Then God divided the Red Sea, making the waters stand upright, being a wall on either side of a passage, so that Israel might pass through unscathed (v. 13). How could Israel ever forget such a miracle? Then through the wilderness God led them with a cloud going before during the day and at night with a pillar of fire (v. 14) Thus, every day they were privileged to witness the miraculous intervention of God.

Not mentioned in the list of wonders God wrought for Israel was the daily provision of manna from heaven for their sustenance, an amazing and protracted miracle; but His provision of water from the rock is noted in verse 15, water in great abundance, reminding us of the water of the Word of God, a necessity more vital than is the need of literal water, and which God has provided for us today, little as we may avail ourselves of it. Verse 16 enlarges this to "streams out of the rock," for this abundance, coming from the rock, reminds us that the pure water of life comes from the One of whom we read, "that Rock was Christ" (1 Cor. 10:4). Thus, in verses 15 and 16 the abundance of water is emphasized. How deeply we need the Word of God! — and also as running water (or living water), which involves the Word made vital to us by the Spirit of God (John 7:38-39).

REBELLING IN SPITE OF GOD'S PRESENCE (vv. 17-32)

Instead of such grace producing serious repentance and faith, Israel only sinned more against God by haughty rebellion, though it was evident that God is "the Most High" (v. 17). They tested God by demanding food — not to enable them to survive to serve the Lord, but to satisfy their own lusts (v. 18). In haughty contempt they question whether God, having brought water from the rock, can prepare a table in the wilderness, providing bread for them (v. 19). They as much as said, "Water is one thing, but we want more than that."

Can we wonder that such callousness awoke the fury of the Lord? -and the fire of His anger was kindled against Jacob (v. 21). The reason is given simply, "Because they did not believe in God, and did not trust in His salvation (v. 22). This was in spite of the fact that He had opened the doors of heaven to rain down manna for them to eat (vv. 23-24). This was an amazing miracle, continued throughout their wilderness history, which should certainly have' awakened the deepest thanksgiving on Israel's part. But how callous is the natural heart of man! The manna is called "the bread of heaven" and "angels' food, " showing how unusually wonderful was this provision.

Besides this; because they wanted flesh, God brought an east wind then a south wind that rained feathered fowl on the camp all around their dwellings (vv. 26-28). Without even stopping to give thanks to God, the Israelites devoured these birds voraciously (v. 29). , while God gave them their desire, yet when the food was still in their mouths, His anger was so kindled against them that He "struck the people with a very great plague" (Num. 11:33), evidently directed particularly against the strongest of them (v. 31), those foremost in the rebellion. Yet in all this experience, Israel continued in sinful rebellion, showing no faith in the wondrous works of God (v. 32).

UNDER GOD'S DISCIPLINING HAND (vv. 33-39)

This section seems to connect more with the Book of Judges, rather than the wilderness. But the same malady is still seen in Israel. God consumed their days in futility and their years in fear (v. 32), as a result of their persistent sin. When however He went so far as to kill Israelites, then those living were awakened to seek Him and return from their evil (v. 34). "Then they remembered that God was their Rock, and the Most High their Redeemer" (v. 35). But how long did this effect remain? Rather than their being deeply affected, they only flattered God and lied to Him. This was true many times during the Book of Judges. Though outwardly repentant, "their heart was not steadfast with Him, nor were they faithful in His covenant" (v. 37).

Yet in spite of God's being fully aware of their actual condition, being full of compassion, He forgave their iniquity (v. 38). Simply the fact of their outwardly acknowledging their wrong was enough to move Him to deal in such mercy toward them. This reminds us of the parable of Matthew 18:23-34, where a servant, unable to pay his debt to his master, pled for mercy and was forgiven. But then he demanded from a fellow servant the payment of a very small debt, and refused the plea for mercy by the fellow servant. What then? The master rescinded his forgiveness to the first servant, for he had proven himself to have no real regard for the mercy shown him. If he did, he would have had mercy on his fellow servant. In fact, God many times turned His anger away from Israel during the Book of Judges, for in the kindness of His heart He remembered they were only flesh, "a breath that passes away and does not come again.

THE WAY AND THE END (vv. 40-64)

This section does not follow chronologically, but is a more complete resume of Israel's history through the wilderness and into the land. In fact, their oftentimes rebelling in the wilderness is mentioned first, again and again tempting God, limiting the holy One of Israel (vv. 40-41), So soon after their liberation from Egypt, they did not remember the power of God in His great work of redeeming them from the bondage of the enemy..

We are reminded in verse 40 of how often Israel provoked God in their wilderness journey after they had seen His great work of power in liberating them from the bondage of Egypt, with great signs and wonders, such as turning Egypt's rivers into blood, sending swarms of flies to harass them, and frogs, which did much damage, caterpillars and locusts to destroy their crops, hail and frost and lightning storms (vv. 42-48). Thus, the fierceness of God's wrath was leveled dreadfully against Egypt, giving their lives over to the plague, destroying the firstborn of that nation, before delivering Israel (vv. 49-51). Just the remembrance of this judgment against Egypt should have so affected Israel that they would realize they were dealing with a holy and righteous God.

But more than that, God's goodness to Israel in delivering them, as dependent sheep, to guide them in the wilderness (v. 52), was surely ample reason for their responding in devoted obedience. He led them on safely after the Red Sea had overwhelmed their enemies (v. 53), bringing them through the wilderness to His own holy border, that is, the land He had prepared for them, the mountain of His holiness. As He had promised, He drove out the nations from that land, allotting Israel an inheritance as He Himself had planned, that the tribes of Israel should take permanent possession.

Yet in spite of such manifest gracious care on the part of God for the welfare of His people, they dared to test and provoke the Most High God. On the negative side, they did not keep His commandments (v. 56), but on the positive side, they deliberately turned back to act unfaithfully as did their fathers. Though pretending to honor God, they were guilty of cold-hearted deceit.

Certainly God's anger was provoked by their high places so soon established in the land (v. 58). These were places of worship — ostensibly the worship of God at first, but contrary to God. Why the high places? It speaks of the proud desire of people to claim a higher position than others in their professed worship, instead of taking the lowly place of unworthy but thankful worshipers of God, just as today people are proud of the highest steeple they can erect on, a so-called "church," They may say at first that it is really God they are worshiping, but they almost immediately add the "carved images" spoken of in the same verse (58). This was idolatry, not the worship of God at all. On account of this God certainly had a right to be moved to jealousy, for they were robbing Him of His glory!

Certainly when Israel boldly practiced idolatry, the fury of God was awakened, so that the awful expression is used, He "greatly abhorred Israel," so that He forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent in which He had set His name (vv. 59-60). His strength had previously been seen in His power on Israel's behalf, but now that strength was "delivered into captivity" (v. 61), and Israel (His glory) given into the hand of the enemy. Of course, this refers to the captivity of Israel and Judah at the end of the history of the kings. At this time His people were given over to the sword, suffering dreadfully at the hands of their enemies, because God was furious with His own inheritance (v. 62). Their young men, rather than protecting the nation, were consumed by fire, leaving the maidens without hope of marriage. Their priests too fell by the sword, and their widows made no lamentation, because the people had become so insensitive to God's dealings that they no longer could think soberly (vv. 63-64). Terrible affliction!

THE VICTORY OF GOD'S GRACE (vv. 65-72)

The condition of Israel having proven utterly hopeless, the time comes for the Lord to intervene in absolute sovereign grace, and the victory is soon accomplished, — not by Israel, but exclusively by the Lord of Israel. It seemed to Israel that the Lord was sleeping, thus, He awoke as though He had been asleep — "like a mighty man who shouts because of wine" — a striking metaphor indeed! But the intervention of the Lord Jesus at the end of the Great Tribulation will be sudden and not expected by the world. He will beat back His enemies and put them to perpetual reproach.

But this work of sudden judgment will be immediately followed by the establishment of the King of God's choice in absolute authority. And the man earlier so greatly exalted because of his faithfulness to God, that is Joseph, is set aside, just as in many instances the first becomes the last. Joseph and his son Ephraim (for whom the ten tribes were named) are displaced by Judah (vv. 67-68). Is this because of Judah's faithfulness? No indeed, for Judah had been grossly guilty in selling Joseph into captivity. Thus, he illustrates the total failure of the flesh. But Judah had afterward completely broken down in repentance when Joseph revealed himself to the brothers (Gen. 44:18-34), thus illustrating the fact that Israel can be blessed only after they give Christ His place of total authority, being humbled in broken repentance before Him. God loves Mount Zion because it signifies the eventual pure blessing He will provide for His people Israel in the millennium.

"And He built His sanctuary like the heights, like the earth (the land) which He has established forever" (v, 69). "Like the heights" speaks of what is superior to Israel's "high places," above the natural level, where yet He may dwell among His people. Thus, it is like the land (Israel) which He has established forever. Of course, this is prophetic.

But most vital is His choice of David (v. 70) as the ruler of His people. David (clearly a type of Christ,) who was a shepherd before being given the place of king, a servant before becoming a ruler. David's care for the sheep greatly helped to qualify him to be trusted in ruling the people, for he learned to take and keep the lowly place of serving the needs of the people rather than lording it over them. In this marvelous virtue, the Lord Jesus exceeds the example of David. This is indicated in verse 72, "So He shepherded them according to the integrity of His heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of His hands." For this certainly refers to the grace and wisdom of the Lord Jesus, "the Son of David." It is rather significant too that David did not write this psalm, but Asaph.

Psalm 79

PLEADING AGAINST THE INVADING ENEMY

This psalm is very similar to Psalm 74, for both speak of the invasion of enemies, even defiling the temple, the sanctuary of God. This moves the psalmist to consider that Israel has given occasion to the enemy, and that there is pleading also for God's mercy in view of this failure. But the end will yet show forth God's praise.

THE REASON FOR THEIR CRY TO GOD (vv. 1-4)

Whether Philistines or other nearby nations, some have been able to overcome any oppression of Israel to keep them from entering the sanctuary in Jerusalem. This is far more serious than simply attacking and defeating the forces of Israel, for God was being challenged (v. 1). Together with this, Jerusalem had been laid in heaps and God's servants killed, their bodies left to become food for birds and beasts (v. 2). Blood had been shed as though it had been water in all the vicinity of Jerusalem, the population so decreased that there were none left to bury the dead, and the enemy caring nothing for this (v. 3). This heartless cruelty had moved their neighbors to reproach them rather than to help them, treating them with scorn and contempt simply because they had been so reduced (v. 4). Such is the cold hearted compassion (?) of the ungodly.

GOD'S ANGER: HOW LONG? (vv. 5-7)

If the persecution of the enemy was due to the anger of God against His people, then must that anger be perpetual? .(v.5). Must His jealousy burn like unquenchable fire? Why not pour out that anger instead upon the nations that manifest cold ignorance of God? — those kingdoms that refuse to call upon the name of the Lord? (v. 6). For they have devoured Jacob, and laid waste his habitation (v. 7). Of course, God was fully aware of all this, and would in His own time deal with those nations, but just now he was dealing with Israel.

"FOR THE GLORY OF YOUR NAME" (vv. 8-10)

The appeal in these verses would certainly not be ineffectual, for they pray, not only for their relief, but making an issue of the glory of God's name. They ask, however, that God would not remember against them their former iniquities (v. 8). The answer to this is clearly seen in Hebrews 8:12, "Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more." But this will be only the result of Israel's receiving the Lord Jesus as the One who died for them and rose again. Meanwhile, they have been brought very low and continue to cry to Him for salvation, which God delights to provide for His own glory, in making atonement for these sins (v. 9). Asaph at this time knew nothing of what would be involved in that atonement, but the important matter was that it should be for God's own name's sake.

For why should the nations say, "Where is their God?" (v. 10). They may say this for a limited time, but not interminably, for since the blood of God's Servant has been shed, He would in His time, avenge this.

ISRAEL'S FAILURE ISSUING IN GOD'S PRAISE (vv. 11-13)

Groaning under bondage and helpless, Israel can depend only on the greatness of God's power (v. 1). When shut up to this, it is the best thing for them, and they will be preserved though appointed by the enemy to die. But God has been reproached, and the oppressors will suffer a seven fold judgment in God's appointed time.

But now, Israel, called "Your people' and sheep of Your pasture" will give thanks to God forever (v. 13), and they will show forth His praises to all generations. If they have thought their sufferings were long drawn out, what have those sufferings been compared to the eternity of their praise? Today believers have reason also to praise the Lord Jesus unceasingly.

Psalm 80

REVIVAL THROUGH THE MAN OF GOD'S RIGHT HAND

This psalm is a prayer throughout, but beautiful in its confidence that the Shepherd of Israel will fully answer it according to His truth and faithfulness. While the suffering of the nation is fully evident, yet most beautifully evident is the answer to all their sufferings in the person of the Lord Jesus, the Man of God's right hand. Three times the desire is expressed that God would make His face to shine. Thank God we know today He has done this in giving His beloved Son, "for it is God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, who has shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ"(2 Cor. 4:6). That shining then is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.

A CRY OF THE SHEPHERD (vv. 1-4)

This psalm again begins with a plea for God's salvation, but going back to Joseph and Benjamin, whom God had before led like a flock. This may seem rather strange after Psalm 78:67 had set Joseph aside; but though Joseph will not be honored in the eventual leadership of Israel, yet the lessons of the past will not be forgotten. As God had before worked on behalf of Joseph, so He is entreated to work again. He dwells between the cherubim, that is, the two cherubim whose wings overshadowed the mercy seat, signifying the throne of God. They plead for Him to shine forth, as indeed will be true for them when He comes in great glory to introduce the millennium; but true for believers now, who know the shining of His face.

The two sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, are mentioned, but Benjamin, Joseph's younger brother, inserted between them. Thus, the lessons taught in each of these are not to be forgotten. Joseph was the sufferer, who was raised to the throne, typical of Christ. Ephraim, his name meaning "fruitful." speaks of the positive results in blessing of God's dealings with Israel. Benjamin, meaning "the son of my right hand," is a type of Christ reigning in glory, and he is spoken of before Manasseh (the firstborn), whose name means "forgetting," for this is negative, speaking of Israel's eventually forgetting all their past history. Why? Because they now have Christ. Consider Philippians 3:13-14).

God is pleaded with to restore Israel (v. 3), which indeed He will do at the end of the Great Tribulation, for His face shining speaks of His glory revealed in the face of the Lord Jesus, who will appear on Israel's behalf in that day, They will indeed be saved then. Meanwhile the psalmist sorrowfully questions how long the Lord God of hosts will be evidently angry against the prayer of His people. If it is true that God was angry against their prayer, then the prayer could not have been sincere, but hypocritical; for God will certainly answer the prayer of faith.

BROKEN AND MISERABLE (vv. 5)

The psalmist feels that Israel's food and drink has been tears in great measure (v. 5), and that it is God who has given this. A second cause may be from their neighbors or enemies, but behind it all, Israel can only rightly recognize that God is dealing with them. Today we witness these very things in the nation Israel, with their neighbors and they striving against each other and their enemies ridiculing, laughing and mocking (v. 6). Of course, the nation feels this, but will eventually realize they have brought it on themselves by their disobedience to God, and especially because of their rejection of the Lord Jesus their true Messiah.

Again they plead for God's restoring grace (v. 7), using the expression "God of hosts." In verse 3 they had said only, "0 God," emphasizing God's power, but "God of hosts" emphasizes the fact that, while Israel is few in number, God is the God of multitudes, and therefore able to control far greater numbers than those of Israel. But they can be saved only by God's causing His face to shine, that is, through the intervention of His beloved Son.

ISRAEL SET APART TO GOD (vv. 8-11)

A further appeal is made by Asaph to God on the basis of God's sovereign grace and power in bringing Israel from Egypt to establish them in a land that He Himself had fully prepared for them. The figure of a vine is used for Israel, a vine planted by God after His casting nations out of their land that Israel might have her own place to grow and bear fruit for God (v. 8). For the vine is good only for bearing fruit, as Ezekiel 15 bears witness. Indeed, if it does not bear fruit, it is thrown in the fire (John 15:6). Fruit, (speaking from a scriptural viewpoint) is for God, not for people's enjoyment.

But God caused Israel to take deep root and fill the land (v. 6), even covering the hills with its shadow, and the mighty cedar trees (v. 10). The cedar stands in total contrast to the clinging vine, yet. Israel's prosperity at one time was such that the greatest men of earth were subdued before it. Verse 11 shows that Israel's influence had been felt by the nations (the sea), and to the river, the Euphrates, her eastern border. Now this was all past.

TRAGIC RUIN (vv. 12-16)

"Why have you broken down her hedges, so that all who pass by the way pluck her fruit?" (v. 12) The answer for this is found plainly stated in Isaiah 5:2: "He expected it to bring forth good grapes, but it brought forth wild grapes." It was not true to character, for the wild grapes speak of rebellion, as that of a wild animal. Thus, God sent the bear out of the woods and the wild beast to devour it. The plea therefore is made for God to return, to look down in compassion and to visit the vine and the vineyard which His own right hand had planted (vv. 14-15), and also "the branch that You made strong for Yourself." This branch is the line of David, which had been made strong, but now was exposed to the burning flame because of human failure, and were perishing at the rebuke of God's countenance.

GOD WITH US (vv. 17-19)

The answer to all Israel's distresses is now perfectly announced, though there is still the language of dependent prayer, yet it is the prayer of confidence in the certainty of the answer. "Let Your hand be upon the Man of Your right hand." Though this was the meaning of Benjamin's name, Benjamin was only a faint type of the Lord Jesus, and this is clearly seen in the expression, "Upon the Son of Man whom You made strong for Yourself' (v. 17). This title was one that the Lord Jesus continually applied to Himself, though God, when speaking to Him, did not use this expression, but rather, "You are My beloved Son" (Luke 3:22). But Christ is the Man of God's counsels, who will act fully for God in bringing Israel back to Him.

What will be the result? "Then we will not turn back, from You" (v. 18). This is no longer self-confidence, but confidence based on God's faithfulness, who has decreed that Israel will be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation. It will be His own sovereign power by which they are preserved. "Revive us, and we will call upon Your name" is therefore a prayer of confidence in God's work of revival.

"Restore us, O Lord God of hosts; cause Your face to shine, and we shall be saved" (v. 9). This is no effort to restore themselves, but dependence on God's doing so. Also, in verse 3, when asking God to cause His face to shine, the psalmist had addressed Him, "0 God;" in verse 7, with a similar request, he had said, "0 God of hosts;" now in verse 19 it is rather "0 Lord God of hosts," indicating the additional thought of God's covenant relationship with Israel, — "Lord God." And again the request to cause His face to shine reminds us that only in "the face of Jesus Christ" will they see "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God." They will be saved because the Savior will come on their behalf.

Psalm 81

THE NEW WAYS CONSISTENT WITH NEW LIFE

All things having become new for Israel by the shining forth of God's face, there will be indeed great rejoicing before God, and with this the exercise and purpose of heart to manifest this newness of life in the ways that will glorify God. Thus, this psalm appropriately follows Psalm 80.

THE YEAR'S BEGINNING (vv. 1-3)

The joy of this psalm seems to connect with the feast of trumpets, which in a very real sense was the beginning of the civil year in Israel (see Leviticus 23:23-25), for it indicates a new beginning for the nation. The Passover was at the beginning of the year but from a different viewpoint (Ex. 12:2), for it indicated family blessing for the nation (celebrated in their houses), rather than civil rejoicing in the nation publicly. The feast of trumpets symbolized the regathering of the nation, which will take place in connection with their receiving the Lord Jesus as their true Messiah.

They will realize then then that God (the living God as revealed in the Lord Jesus) is their strength, and they sing joyously to Him. A psalm of praise will be accompanied by suitable musical instruments (v. 2). This is not the same level of worship that is to characterize the Church of God today, of which the Lord Jesus told the woman at the well„ "The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him" (John 4:23). Musical instruments are not needed for this worship, and in the Old Testament they were only symbolical of spiritual worship. But in the coming day the public joy of Israel will be attended by such accompaniments.

"Blow the trumpet at the time of the new moon" (v. 3). The moon symbolizes Israel, having light that is the reflection of the Sun of Righteousness (the Lord Jesus), but being "the new moon" it speaks of Israel being renewed by the grace of her Lord, no longer in a state of decadence. Being new, the moon is also "full," the recipient of the fullness of the grace of God. The day is called "our solemn feast day," typical of the day of Israel's renewal. Though the Church has occasion today for greater joy than Israel, yet we will also greatly rejoice in Israel's joy.

AS A TESTIMONY (vv. 4-5)

The feast day to be held at the time of the new moon was decided upon by God many centuries before, in fact given as a statute to Israel very soon after her liberation from Egypt. (Lev. 23:26-32) as a prophecy of her eventual great blessing„ "a law of the God of Israel (v. 4). Thus, God established this in absolute decision long before Israel's many failures and rebellion, so that those bad experiences could not hinder the accomplishment of God's purpose (v. 5). At that time Israel heard a language they did not understand, just as they did not understand the vital significance of what God had counseled.

REMEMBRANCE (vv. 6-7)

Israel is now reminded that it was God who had "removed his shoulder from the burden," that is, the burden of slavery to the Egyptians. His hand "freed from the baskets" refers to the baskets of produce Israel had been required to fill for their captors (v. 6). When in such bondage, the people cried to God and in pure grace he delivered them (v. 7). He answered them in the secret place of thunder, which seems to connect with the glory cloud that went before them. And He proved them in sending plentiful water for their needs at Meribah, from the smitten rock.

THE TEST THAT SHOWED THEIR FAILURE (vv. 8-12)

In view of such goodness on God's part, it surely ought not to be difficult to Israel to gladly listen to the admonishing of such a God (v. 8). Is it hard to be told by the God of infinite grace and power, that Israel should allow no foreign god among them? (v. 9). It is only rational and right that they fully approve this and act on it. For He is "the Lord God," who brought them out of the bondage of Egypt. In fact, He also promised them, "Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it" (v. 10). All they needed was to gladly accept blessing from Him, and He would fully supply all their needs.

But in cold rebellion (not merely failure) they would not pay any attention to God's Word, but refused God Himself, not only His Word (v. 11). In fact, to refuse His Word is to refuse Him. What could they expect as a result? God gave them over to their own stubborn heart (v. 12). They would have to learn by hard experience the utter folly of walking in their own ways.

WHY NOT WALK WITH GOD? (vv. 13-16)

The heart of God breaks forth in earnest desire for His sinful people: "Oh that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways" (v. 13). Sad to say, it will not be until they learn the futility of their own ways that Israel will finally walk in God's ways. If they had only listened before, then God would soon have subdued their enemies and turn His hand against their adversaries (v. 14). The enmity occasioned by their own rebellion against and departure from God would no longer be present if only they would turn in faith to Him.

In fact, the haters of the Lord would at least outwardly submit to Him, whether the submission was true or not. But their present condition would have results forever (v. 15). If Israel had only submitted to the Lord, He would have fed them with the finest of the wheat. There would have been no desolation to stunt the growth of the wheat, but every provision for its prosperous growth. Honey from the rock may be a puzzle to us, but its symbolic meaning is the important matter. The rock is typical of Christ. (1 Cor. 10:4), and honey the sweetness of the ministry of God's Word, which would certainly have preserved them from wandering. Yet, what Israel has missed for many centuries they will finally enjoy when they turn to the Lord after the Great Tribulation.

Psalm 82

GOD JUDGING AMONG THE JUDGES

In the previous psalm God has returned in grace to the nation Israel, which necessarily means the judgment of those who persist in evil. This judgment begins with those who have misused the place of judgment, those called "gods" because they were responsible to represent God in judgment.

UNRIGHTEOUSNESS CHALLENGED (vv. 1-4)

"God stands" that is, He is taking decisive action as "the Mighty One" in judging among the gods. The Lord Jesus refers to this psalm in His words, "He called them gods, to whom the Word of God came (and the scripture cannot be broken)" (John 10:35). These "gods" were plainly responsible to represent God in standing for his Word in their relationship to the people. God is here seen judging among those who failed in properly judging among men. They were judging unjustly, showing partiality to the wicked (v. 2). Thus, they proved themselves to be wicked also. Rather than favoring the wicked, they ought to judge on behalf of the poor and needy, delivering them from cruel oppression. Today there is glaring injustice, not only in Israel, but in Gentile courts of law, and also even in the professing Church of God. Sad, sad guilt! How the heart longs for the coming of "the Just One!"

URGED TO DELIVER THE NEEDY (vv. 3-4)

Rather than favor the wicked, the judges ought to judge on behalf of the poor and needy, defending them from the persecution of the wicked (v. 3), delivering them from the hands of cruel oppression. This same exhortation is needed today in many of our courts of justice, and even in the professing church of God, where those in outward honor are too often guilty of oppressing the common people.

THE ACTUAL CONDITION (v. 5)

In contrast to the judges' responsibility shown in verses 3 and 4, the reality of their actual condition is shown to be that of gross ignorance -"they do not know, nor do they understand." Is this a normal condition for a judge? Instead of walking in light, as open and aboveboard, they walked in darkness, seeking to hide their actual condition from men, but by this very fact only exposing it the more fully. Nor was this evil confined to a small number, but "all the foundations of the earth are unstable." Sad to say, the condition is that of mankind everywhere. Only the intervention of God in pure grace can make any difference.

THE FALL OF THOSE IN HONOR (vv. 6-7)

God had called these judges "gods," for they had been set to represent Him. In their outward position they were greatly blessed as "children of the Most High," but they would "die like men," reduced to the level of sinful men, and falling as princes who dishonor their own position as well as dishonoring God.

GOD HIMSELF WILL JUDGE (v. 8)

How can a condition such as was true in Israel ever continue? Thank God there will be an end to it, but only God Himself can bring about true justice. He will arise and take His own place as Judge of all the earth. Abraham gave Him this place (Gen. 18:25) and God will take it publicly in due time. Indeed, He will "inherit all nations, not only as Judge, but as "Possessor of heaven and earth."

Psalm 83

VICTORY OVER THE LAST ASSAULT

The certainty of Israel's deliverance from enemies both from without and from within has been fully established, so that this psalm refers to the last effort of the enemy to accomplish his evil designs against the nation that has so long been an object of his hatred. But the Most High gains the total victory over the confederacy of evil.

REBELLION (vv. 1-4)

The last attack of the enemies of God against Israel will be determined and vicious, such as calls for the urgent pleading on the part of the godly that God would no longer keep silent. They realize that these are not only their enemies, but more importantly, God's enemies, for the reason Israel is hated is because they are God's chosen people (vv. 1-2). The tumult at the end of the Great Tribulation period will be more pronounced than ever before. Even today the nations surrounding Israel (mainly Moslem) are becoming more and more united in their hostility against her very existence, and as verse 3 tells us, they will take crafty counsel against the people whom God has chosen.

At present Israel is accused of cruelty against the Palestinians, and

the Palestinians respond with suicide bombings etc. They make no secret of the fact that they would like to see Israel totally annihilated, and together with others similarly minded, they will purpose together, "Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more" (v. 4). How utterly vain a proposition! Isaiah writes to that nation, "For as the new heavens and the new earth shall remain before Me, says the Lord, so shall your descendants and your name remain" (Isa. 66:22).

ALLIANCE AGAINST GOD (vv. 5-8)

A list of some of these opposing nations who band together is given us now, though some may not be easy to place; but there will no doubt be a reviving of these former enemies of Israel in the last day. The Numerical Bible (Page 819 of Psalms) at least shows that they are in close proximity to Israel and all around her: "Edom, Ishmael and Moab in the south, Ammon and Amalek on the east; the Philistines and Tyreans on the west coast; and Assyria to the north." Of all of these, the most significant is Assyria, the King of the North, who will eventually come like a whirlwind against Israel (Dan. 11:40), to cause desolation and destruction such as never has been before. One sad fact is that these enemies have in the past been close relatives of the Israelites, and Lot is mentioned in verse 8 as linked with them, though he was the nephew of Abraham.

TREAT THEM AS PREVIOUS ATTACKERS (vv. 9-12)

The psalmist now entreats God to act toward these enemies as He did in the case of Midian years before (Judges 6-8), when Gideon's faith was so greatly rewarded in the judgment of this formidable enemy.

In verse 9 the psalmist pleads with God to deal with the enemies of Israel as He did with Midian in the days of Gideon, and in fact previously, when Barak defeated Sisera and his armies (Judges 4-5). Since God has so thoroughly defeated these previous enemies, would He not also defeat those coming against His people at the time of the end? For they said, "Let us take for ourselves the pastures of God for a possession" (v. 12). At the time of the end it seems the attackers will be more determined and vicious than ever before, but how vain is their self-confidence!

PROVE TO THEM THEIR WICKEDNESS (vv. 13-15)

This prayer now will surely be fully answered, "0 my God, make them like the whirling dust, like the chaff before the wind" (v. 13). When grain was trodden in the threshing floor, the wind blew through the opened doors on either end, and took the chaff away, the grain symbolizing believers, but the chaff, unbelievers, useless for all practical purposes. But not only are unbelievers blown away: they are exposed to the flame of frightening fire, which is the direct judgment of God, or to the storm of God's wrath, as an irresistible tempest.

THAT MEN MAY RECOGNIZE GOD (vv. 16-18)

Yet the punishing hand of God has not only condemnation as its object, but recovery if it may be possible. If only men may be ashamed enough to seek God's name, there would be good results for them (v. 16); but whether they do or not, the very fact of His dealing with them will have its proper results, — on the one hand true blessing, or on the other hand their eternal dismay (v. 17)

Even in being put to shame and perishing, all unbelievers will eventually know that God alone is the Lord, the Most High over all the earth (v. 18). They may even have been earth worshipers, but they must leave the earth and find that God is infinitely greater than the inanimate objects they have been worshiping.

Psalm 84

THE FACE OF GOD'S ANOINTED IN HIS HOUSE

This is "a psalm for the sons of Korah," that is, for renewed Israel, sons of a rebellious father, undeserving of the least of God's mercies, but receiving the greatest of God's blessings by pure grace. Their hearts are so deeply wrought upon by the Spirit of God that they find unspeakable delight in simply being in His tabernacle.

THE LIVING GOD (vv. 1-2)

When everything around is stagnant and decaying, the whole earth having proven to be under the sentence of death, the psalmist is drawn to the one vital exception to this degradation, that is, the tabernacle of the Lord of hosts. For every renewed heart cries out for that which is vital and living, and the dwelling place of God is the one location where Israel will find blessing in the coming day. If so for Israel at that time, how much more should believers now be drawn to desire the dwelling of God, that is, the Church, which is "a spiritual house" composed of all whose faith is in the Lord Jesus. Beyond this also, the courts of heaven's glory are set before us as an object of our great desire, that is, to be with the Lord forever. If the earthly tabernacle will be "lovely," how much more the Father's house to which we shall soon be brought!

Thus, we are told, "My soul longs, yes even faints for the courts of the Lord" (v. 2). Have we not had enough in this world that is so contrary to the sweetness of the presence of the Lord Jesus? For it is not only for the dwelling place that the heart cries out, but for the living God Himself, whom we know to be fully revealed in His beloved Son.

THE DESIRE ANSWERED (v. 3)

It is recorded as a fact "well known in history that small birds lived undisturbed within the precincts of the temple" (Numerical Bible). But the sparrow and the swallow are symbolical of Israel, for the sparrow is the social bird, found together with others in inhabited areas„ therefore picturing Israel in her desire for fellowship, but which has been greatly denied her for many years because of her independent attitude. But eventually, as verse 3 indicates, she will find a house, a permanent dwelling. The swallow, on the other hand, is the restless bird, always on the wing, symbolizing the restlessness of the nation Israel, and great numbers of Gentiles also, who need the quietness and permanence of resting in the presence of the Lord. She may lay her young there too, and in fact on the altars of the Lord. How good it will be for Israel in the day of her recovery, to both rest herself on the value of the sacrifice of Christ and to have the same resting place to share with her children.

How striking it is too that the psalmist addresses the Lord as "my King and my God." Of course, the King is the Messiah, the Lord Jesus, so that the verse clearly declares that Christ is God. This will be marvelous in the eyes of Israel, since they had rejected Him as being the Son of God, which title they knew would prove Him equal with God (John 5:18). How wonderful will be the change in their attitude in that day!

DWELLING IN GOD'S HOUSE (v. 4)

Pure happiness therefore is found in the permanence of dwelling in the house of God. It will be so for the godly of Israel in the millennial earth: and it us so for believers even now, and in the future prospect of being forever in the Father's house in glory! Not only will they praise the Lord, but "they will be still praising You:" there will be no end to the praise of redeemed souls.

THE WAY TO THE END IN VIEW (vv. 5-7)

Verse 4 has shown the wonderful end in view for Israel, now we must be reminded of the way by which God leads to that end, a way that is rugged and demanding, which requires more than human strength, so that we are well reminded that it is blessed to have our strength in God (v. 5). Yet there is a state of soul required for this, that is, that in our heart are the ways, or the highways, which is a more correct translation than "set on pilgrimage" as in the New King James translation. The highways are in contrast to the "byways," which may lead us away from the main track, though it may less attract the opposition of the enemy. The highways lead straight on to the desired end, and the simplicity of heart that is not detracted from the end in view is surely most desirable.

It is not the easy path: in fact it will lead "through the Valley of Baca," that is, the valley of weeping, for a faithful believer will find this world indeed a valley of tears. Yet, does this need to discourage him? Absolutely not! Rather, by simple faith in the living God lie is able to turn the weeping into an occasion of true refreshment, a well, or spring (v. 6). Thus, refusing to be discouraged, he purposes to be encouraged through his trials, just as Paul turned his imprisonment to an occasion for his being a blessing to others (Phil. 1:12-14). Added to this, "the rain also covers it with blessings." If we think of rain being annoying, let us think again that rain is necessary for our welfare, so that it speaks of God adding "grace upon grace."

Thus, "they go from strength to strength" (v. 7). Every severe trial is means of strengthening them for the next one. ,, they realize that the strength is not in themselves: it is their dependence on God that strengthens them, for He will never fail them. Thus, the present need is fully met, and the future also is secure: "Each one appears before God in Zion." Not one of those whose strength is in God will fall by the wayside: every cm will appear in the place of God's dwelling.

WITH GOD (vv. 8-12)

Having such clear assurance of blessing from God, the psalmist prays in blessed confidence to the "Lord God of hosts." Though his fellowship may be greatly limited in practical experience, yet his trust is in the One who is not limited, but is the God of great numbers. Also, he addresses God as the "God of Jacob," for he realizes that he is no more worthy of God's mercies than Jacob was (Gen. 32:10), yet may depend utterly on God's faithfulness, which was what Jacob realized was his only source of help and blessing. How much better to follow the example of one who honestly confesses himself a failure in the presence of God than to accept the example of one who prides himself on his goodness without repentance or faith!

"0 God," he says, "behold our Shield, and look upon the face of Your Anointed" (v. 9). It is Christ who is their Shield, their only Protector, and it is Christ who is God's Anointed. Are we not deeply thankful to have God look away from our faces, and instead to look upon the face of His own beloved Son? For we are accepted only "in the Beloved," and this is perfection.

"For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand," that is, better than a thousand days anywhere else. Just to be in His presence is unspeakable joy. The psalmist would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. A doorkeeper is not popular with people, for he is responsible to see that those who ought to be out are kept out, and only those admitted who ought to be in. But even the least appreciated work in God's house is far better than dwelling in the tents of wickedness. Of course, tents too are temporary in contrast to the permanency of the house of God.

"For the Lord God is a Sun and Shield," a sun giving warmth and light, and a shield for protection. This is what our blessed Lord is. Then what He gives is added, first, grace to sustain and bless us in all our earthly path, and then glory in the future eternity (v. 11). If thus both the present and future are provided for, then it follows that absolutely nothing that is for our good will ever be lacking, that is, for those who walk uprightly. Well might the psalm be closed with the precious exclamation, "Oh Lord of hosts, blessed is the man who trusts in You!" (v. 12). May we all learn to deeply value the sweetness of the presence of our Lord!

Psalm 85

RESULTS OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF SALVATION

The blessing is shown to be so great in Psalm 84 that it is only normal to expect some appropriate response to this, and this is what Psalm 85 furnishes. This again is a psalm for the sons of Korah.

GRACE RECEIVED (vv. 1-3)

Just as believers today have been marvelously blessed by the grace of God, so it will be for Israel in the coming day, so that their hearts will overflow with thankful appreciation, thankful for God's favor to His land and for His bringing back the captivity of Jacob after centuries of trouble and sorrow (v. 1). His pure mercy will have forgiven all their iniquities, covering all their sin. This does not mean a mere "covering up," but rather a covering provided by the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus at Calvary, for they will have realized that He is indeed their true Messiah, whose death many years previously is the only possible means of a righteous forgiveness. Because ,of true faith in the One they had before rejected, all the wrath of God will be taken away, and all the fierceness of His anger, for Christ will be seen then as the One Mediator between God and men.

Verse 4 may sound as though the forgiveness has not been complete, and that there might be still occasion for God's anger. But does it not rather express the fact that Israel can no longer trust herself, and is therefore pleading that God will continue to preserve them from the folly of their past years? They desire a full sense of God's mercy, that they may not again be reduced by the enemy. We may be sure that God desires us to be so fully assured of His salvation that there would be no reason for our using such language as that of verses 4-6. But we can understand Israel speaking thus since their long history has been one of disobedience, and they do not want to lapse again into the same unprofitable condition.

PREDICTED ACCOMPL.ISHMENT (vv. 7-9)

Verse 7 might be better rendered that God would show them His mercy and grant them His salvation, so that the soul seems to be emerging from any shadow of doubt that may remain. Then verse 8 is more encouraging still, "I will hear what the Lord God will speak, for He will speak peace to His people and to His saints." This attitude of hearing is surely vitally important, for before they had turned away their ears and refused to listen. Now at least the writer is listening, though he presses upon the people that they must not turn back to folly, for he is sure that God's salvation is near to those who fear Him, that glory may dwell in their land (v. 9). Thus, it seems that the psalmist has been gradually emerging from a state of some measure of doubt to one of more firm confidence in God's saving grace. Certainly it will be true for Israel that it will take time for them to emerge into the light of settled peace with. God, for we all by nature have slow, stubborn hearts in learning the wonders of the grace of God.

FRUITFUL EXPERIENCE (vv.10-13)

Thus, Israel is brought to experience the pure blessing of God. They will realize that mercy and truth have met together (v. 10). Truth is not compromised in God's showing wonderful mercy to those who did not deserve it. In the past Israel has sought peace at the expense of righteousness, now they find there can be no peace without righteousness. The only way that righteousness and peace can kiss each other is by virtue of the value of the sacrifice of Christ, which will be a marvelous fact for Israel then.

"Truth shall spring out of the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven" (v. 11). This surely reminds us that though Christ was buried, He has risen again, springing out of the earth. Thus, truth has triumphed over falsehood. More than this, Christ is glorified now in heaven, the very exemplification of righteousness looking down upon His redeemed people. This surely reminds us of John 16:8-10, where the Lord Jesus speaks of the Spirit of God convicting the world of sin, righteousness and judgment: "of sin because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father and you see Me no more." The sin of mankind has given the Lord Jesus His suffering, but righteousness has raised him.

When Christ is received as the One who has given Himself in a sacrificial death for His people, and as having been raised again and glorified at the right hand of God, this becomes for Israel the perfect basis for fruit bearing. He Himself is the Source of all fruit for God, who gives what is good (v. 12), that the land will again yield its increase. The same is true for believers today, but in a spiritual way, not necessarily literal.

"Righteousness will go before Him," in contrast to the many leaders who have come and gone, for in none of them has righteousness been accomplished: now righteousness will be the established path of believing Israel, who will walk before God in simplicity of faith (v. 13). The footsteps of the Lord Jesus will provide the pathway for Israel's waLuke Those footsteps have been seen wonderfully in the four Gospels, which will surely be a delight for the nation then to study.

Psalm 86

A PRAYER OF DAVID

This prayer of David does not present David as a type of Christ, but as representing the godly in Israel. The entire psalm is given to prayer, for the writer feels his total insufficiency in regard to facing the many occasions of trial he must encounter.

PLEADING (vv. 1-2)

Because David feels totally helpless, poor and needy, he pleads with God to bow done His ear, and to preserve his life. He appeals to the fact that he is godly, not "holy" as some translations give, for "godly" implies his dependence on God, and God can certainly not ignore the needs of any who depend on Him. "You are my God," he says, implying that he recognizes no other god at all; and in this confidence he desires God to save him, His servant who trusts Him simply.

GOD, HIS ONLY SUSTAINER (vv. 3-7).

The psalmist feels the need for God's mercy so deeply that he cries to Him without intermission — "all day long," He longs for rejoicing rather than depression, realizing such joy can be found only in God. and he has good reason to lift up his soul to Him. For he knows the Lord is good and ready to forgive (v. 4). This being true, he has every reason to count on God's abundant mercy, which is available to all who call on Him (v. 5).

He prays then as one seeking most earnestly the mercy of God (v. 6), not only in prayer but in supplication. In the day of his trouble he will call upon God, for he has full confidence that He will answer him.

FRUIT IN WORSHIP (vv. 8-9)

Confidence in God's faithfulness thus being fully attained, the heart is readily drawn out in adoration of the One who is the only satisfying Object for any heart. With the Lord as His Object, how clear it is that those reputed as "gods" are of no consequence, and whatever "works" may have been done on earth, there are none that can be compared to God's works (v. 8). How could anything be in any measure like the marvel of the work of God in giving His Son to a death of terrible judgment for the guilt of mankind? "For if the works of His creation are great, how much greater the work of redemption! And God will yet work marvelously in bringing rebellious nations to bow to His beloved Son (v. 9) to become worshipers, glorifying the One they had before despised! For in person He is great, and in His actions the things He does are therefore wondrous (v. 10). The evidence that He alone is God has been clear enough for faith through the ages, but in that coming day they will have to confess that that evidence is overwhelming.

THE WAY OF FAITH (v. 14)

If one is a true worshiper, then he will truly desire the grace of God's presence to guide all his footsteps. Thus, the heart being lifted up to God, he will have proper concern for his feet. The psalmist therefore deeply desires that the Lord will teach him His way (v. 11), with firm purpose of heart to walk in the truth. He asks God therefore, "Unite my heart to fear Your name." This is in contrast to a divided heart, that is, one part for the Lord and another for self. This is really double-mindedness, and James 1:8 tells us, "a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways." On the other hand, if we are fully for the Lord, we shall not easily be led astray.

In fact, with our whole heart we shall praise the Lord and glorify His name. But praise will be greatly compromised if we are double-minded: we shall not be giving the Lord His proper place, nor shall be deeply concerned as to eternity, as the psalmist was to glorify God's name forevermore. For he appreciated the greatness of God's mercy toward him in delivering his soul from the depths of sheol. Sheol is the condition of the soul and spirit in separation from the body. Thus, this scripture infers resurrection, the deliverance of the soul and spirit from the condition of death.

WITH GOD (vv. 15-17)

In the very presence of God the psalmist finds Him to be "a God full of compassion and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in mercy and truth" (v. 15). Wonderful resting place for faith! To be in the shelter of God's presence is far more blessed than any other place one could desire.

"0 turn to me, and have mercy on me!" Though this does not exude the confidence that God has turned to him, yet it does show the earnestness of faith that desires God's present favor. Thus, though such scriptures do not supply the unshaken faith that is manifest in the New Testament, they do show the longing of the heart that has been awakened by the work of the Spirit of God. "Give Your strength to Your servant." He realizes he has no strength in himself, When the words are added, "and save the son of Your maidservant," it seems to indicate the revived faith of the humble remnant of Israel as in the subjective state of a maidservant, and desiring blessing for her son; that is, Israel revived will take this lowly place. "Show me a sign for good," he says, for "the Jews seek a sign."

Psalm 87

GOD'S TESTIMONY TO HIS SERVANTS

This brief psalm is "for the sons of Korah," — that is, the sons of a rebellious father, as is true of Israel. Its message is unusual, which makes it difficult to interpret, but it bears faithful testimony to what God Himself has established as His own center of dealings on earth, to encourage His servants in their devotion to Him.

ZION, THE FOUNDATION (vv. 1-3)

Zion is the name particularly ascribed to Jerusalem in the millennial age, its name meaning "sunny". it is God's choice above every other location as His center, or foundation. In the New Testament we read, "No other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 3:11). Christ Himself is the Center, or Foundation of the gathering of His people, and gathering on any other basis is an offense to God, though, sad to say, many prefer to gather on a denominational basis, as though such a foundation is a preferable substitute for the one Foundation God has established, It is the same principle as that of Israelites deciding they wanted a center in Bethel or in Dan rather than in the place of God's appointment (1 Kings 12:28-29), "The Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob" (v. 2). The gates speak of the entrance into the great blessing of the sunny City, Certainly God would not despise the many cities of Israel, the dwellings of Jacob, but all of these should pay allegiance to His declared foundation, and this will be fully true in the millennium. Well might we be told, "Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God!" (v.3). At present Jerusalem is held in disrepute by the nations, who would be shocked in unbelief if told that the day is very near when they will recognize Jerusalem as the one true foundation on earth of blessing to all the world.

THE TESTIMONY (vv. 4-6)

God's mentioning Rahab (that is, Egypt) and Babylon as those who know Him (believers) is no doubt significant. Egypt will eventually be recovered to God and greatly blessed in the millennium. "in that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyrian — a blessing in the midst of the land" (Isa. 19:24). But in great contrast, Isaiah tells us in ch. 24:22, "I will rise up against them, says the Lord of hosts, and cast off from Babylon the name and remnant and offspring and posterity, says the Lord." And the following verse makes very clear the fact of the absolute destruction

of Babylon. This testifies therefore to God's perfect justice, on the one hand, in restoring, and on the other hand, in stem judgment, thus showing God to be both a God of wonderful grace , but of justice also.

It seems, however, that when speaking of "this one being born there" in the case of Philistia, Tyre and Ethiopia, this is what men generally consider important, that is, the citizenship of men of prominence.

Verse 5 speaks of two different people being born in Zion, no doubt indicating Zion's special importance, and particularly so when it is added, "and the Most High Himself shall establish her." For this is God's Center. Therefore in verse 6 we have, not the records of man, but the record of the Lord when He registers the people. In this case it would seem He is referring to the Messiah when He Himself says, "This one was born there." It may be objected that Christ was born in Bethlehem, not Zion; but in the eventual outcome of things, God counts Him to have been born in Zion; that is, though born first in lowly obscurity, He is given the first place of highest dignity as is rightful citizenship, just as, because of who He is, He is called God's firstborn. He has displaced Adam from that position.

SPONTANEOUS WORSHIP (v. 7)

Thus, God reverses men's thoughts and gives the highest place to the One who seems lowest, and who will dare gainsay Him? Rather, the result is the music and singing that celebrates the conviction that "all my springs are in You." What pure comfort and peace this gives!

Psalm 88

MAN'S HOPELESS CONDITION NATURALLY

The distress and suffering of this psalm has led some to consider it must be the language of the Lord Jesus, but in great contrast to such Messianic psalms as 22, 40, 69 and 102, this psalm closes with no relief, while the psalms of a suffering Messiah all end with great blessing as a result of the sufferings. Therefore Psalm 88 seems to be the language of one who recognizes there is hope only in God, yet is going through the agony of learning by experience the hopelessness of man's condition naturally, that is, that the flesh profits nothing.. This involves God's dealings with man to reduce him to his proper level. Apart from God's salvation in Christ, where should we be?

UNDER THE HAND OF GOD (vv. 1-7)

This section reminds us of Psalm 90:9, "All our days are passed away in Your wrath." These are not the sentiments of a gross unbeliever, but those of one who realizes his need of One greater than himself, but One who has been moved to anger by the waywardness of this poor sufferer. He knows that only the Lord is the God of his salvation, and for this reason cries to Him day and night. It may seem God does not hear, so that he urges, "Incline Your ear to my cry" (v. 2). He feels his "soul is full of troubles," and that death is imminent, so that he is counted with those who go down to Sheol — that condition of the soul and spirit as separated from the body. This is an experience that reminds us of Romans 7, where the corruption of the flesh is seen as only deserving of death, and the victim cries out, "Who will deliver me from the body of this death?" (Rom. 7:24).

Certainly, in such a condition he has no strength (v. 4), feeling "adrift among the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave." But his feelings are so aggravated that he exceeds the truth in saying, "whom You remember no more, and who are cut off from Your hand" (v. 5). How good it is that our feelings decide nothing as to what is true! Yet God allows men to express their feelings in order that, when the eventual end arrives, they realize how foolishly they have been influenced by such feelings.

"You have laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the depths (v. 6). Actually, this is not true, for the lowest pit is for those who reject God and His grace altogether. However, though he feels God's wrath to lie heavily upon him, again it is not true that God has afflicted him with a His waves (v. 7). For only One could rightly say, "All Your waves and billows have gone over Me," for this refers to God's judgment of Christ at Calvary for our sins.

UTTERLY DEPENDENT (vv. 8-12)

This experience of the psalmist brings about such a state that he finds himself bereft of help from any quarter, his acquaintances having forsaken him, so that he feels himself a prisoner, shut up, unable to come forth (v. 8). His eye (his discernment) becomes virtually blinded by his affliction (v. 9). His calling daily upon the Lord seems without effect. He feels swallowed up by death, and wonders if God will work wonders for the dead. Would he yet, though dead, arise to praise the Lord? (v. 10).

In spite of his utter desolation, he recognizes that God is a God of lovingkindness and faithfulness, though he practically despairs of that lovingkindness applying to him in his desolation (v. 11). How little he realizes that God in His wisdom brings us down to the lowest extreme of misery in order to lift us up out of the miry clay to set out feet on a rock. For it is true that God's wonders are to be known in the dark and His righteousness in the land of forgetfulness (v. 12). Israel will prove' this when they are brought down to the depths of hopelessness, when the King of the North and his armies surround Jerusalem with the intention of totally annihilating the suffering Jews. For it is then that the Lord Jesus will appear to them and change their cry of anguish to one of exultant victory! But our present psalm shows nothing of this deliverance, but only the experience of total hopelessness.

NO SANCTUARY FOUND (vv. 13-14)

The poor sufferer feels his need of a place of refuge, but finds none. He knows that the Lord is his only hope of safety, but his cries to God seem to be in vain, even in the morning, when it would seem most likely that an answer would come (v. 13). In desperation he pleadingly questions why God would cast him off, hiding His face from him (v. 14). Of course, God had not cast him off, though he felt that way.

THE EXPERIENCE OF A FALLEN CREATURE (vv. 15-18)

The trial has oppressed him for a long time, as he says, "I have been afflicted and ready to die from my youth" (v. 15). In fact, he considers he is suffering God's terrors and is utterly confused, as he may well be if he thinks he is suffering the wrath of God. For this reason some have thought the psalm is the language of Christ, who alone suffered the wrath of God in His great sacrifice, but not so the psalmist, no matter how strongly he felt about his sufferings. God's terrors had not actually cut him off (v. 16).

In verse 17, whether it is the terrors of God he is speaking of as surrounding him all day, or whether it was enemies whom he considered were virtually representing the terrors of God, it amounts to the same thing, for others were not only of no help to him, but only aggravated his condition of hopelessness. Thus, the psalm ends with no suggestion of any alleviation of the misery of the sufferer. It is the very picture of the hopelessness of a fallen creature apart from the intervention of God.

Thus, it appears to be very clear that this is not a psalm of the Messiah and His sufferings, for His sufferings always end in the unspeakable joy of redemption being accomplished.

Psalm 89

HELP ONLY IN THE ETERNAL GOD

How wonderfully in contrast is this psalm to the previous one; rather than hopeless misery, it is full of vibrant joy and victory. Of course, the only reason for this is God's intervention, which turns sorrow into joy, grief into gladness. This involves "the sure mercies of David," referring to the resurrection of Christ from among the dead, bringing life and incorruptibility to light for the sake of a failing people whose faith is in the living One who became dead and is alive forevermore.

GOD'S COVENANT (vv. 1-37)

If Israel is to expect blessing from God, they must go back to God's covenant, not that of law, but that long preceding law, the covenant of God to Abraham, and confirmed to David (v. 3). This will indeed produce the singing of the mercies of the Lord forever (v. 1)., the making known of God's faithfulness to all generations. Sadly, this had not been true of Israel throughout her history, and is not true now; but it is a prophecy of what will be true in the millennium, when all generations then will have made known to them the wonders of God's faithfulness. But believers today may well anticipate that time by presently magnifying the name of the Lord.

"For I have said, Mercy shall be built up forever; Your faithfulness You shall establish in the very heavens" (v. 3). This too is prophetic, though the basis of it is laid already in the covenant with Abraham, confirmed to David, God's chosen. In this David certainly typifies Christ, who in His resurrection is said to "see His seed" (Isa. 53:10), that is, those becoming His children through the value of His redemption. His throne will be built up to all generations (v. 4).

"And the heavens will praise Your wonders, O Lord: Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the saints." Though we do not read in the Old Testament of the saints who will inherit heaven, yet no doubt they are involved in the prophecy, for certainly all the heavenly company will find great delight in praising the Lord for His wonders in relation to the eventual blessing of Israel. And though there will be multitudes in heaven, none can compare with the blessed Lord of glory (v. 6).

For He is God, greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints (whether in heaven or on earth), and to be held in reverence by those who have the privilege of being in His presence (v. 7). Then the psalmist breaks forth in unfeigned adoration of Him who is "Lord of hosts:" "Who is mighty like You, O Lord?" (v. 8). He does not say "as mighty as You," for only He is mighty at all. None others are really mighty in any way. They may be mighty compared to others, but in contrast to Him, they have no might whatever. "Your faithfulness also surrounds You," like an armor that is impenetrable, impossible to be compromised.

"You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves arise, You still them" (v. 9). The Lord Jesus did this literally when on earth (Mk. 4:39); and the sea of the raging nations He will completely subdue eventually, yet in the meanwhile He is ruling them behind the scenes, allowing them to go "thus far and no farther," and ordering events in such a way as to indicate His sovereign authority over them. Rahab is mentioned, that is, Egypt, the first of the nations to have held Israel in bondage, and her being broken to pieces as one who is killed. Thus, she is made an example for all of the enemies of God, whom He scatters with His mighty arm (v. 10).

"The heavens are Yours, the earth also is yours, the world and all its fullness, You have founded them" (v. 11). This was true long before men existed, but will be recognized by all mankind in that day when the Lord asserts His sovereign rights. North and south are mentioned, — north with its cold winds of adversity and often mystery; and south with its pleasant circumstances, both being clearly known in a coming day as under the control of the living God. Tabor (meaning, "You will purge," and Hermon ("devoted") sing for joy at his name (v. 12). When God's purging has taken place this is accompanied by the devotion that sings together in harmony. How different from the woeful depression of Israel during so much of her history!

How true also it will be for Israel then, that God has a mighty arm! (v. 13) — an arm of strength, high in its abilities above all others. Then it will be clearly seen by all mankind that righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne — so striking a contrast to all the previous thrones of kings of the earth (v. 14). But along with righteousness and justice are the gentle qualities of mercy and truth. Thus, all the attributes of God will be beautifully evident in the millennial reign of the Lord Jesus. Well might we be told, "Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound!" Why? -because "they walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance" (v. 15). This will be particularly and manifestly true in the thousand years of peace, the millennium, yet it is spiritually true now for all those who know Christ as Savior, for the Church anticipates the great blessing of Israel, not in a natural way, but spiritually.

Verses 16 to 18 continue the subject of the rejoicing of Israel in the person of their Messiah, the Lord Jesus, when they are brought to Him in the day of His millennial glory. They rejoice continually in the name of the Lord, and in His righteousness they are exalted, that is, when He reigns in righteousness. The glory of their strength then will be seen to be in Christ (v. 17), for by His favor (His grace) their horn (power) is exalted. Their protecting shield is from the Lord, for their King is provided by the Holy One of Israel (v. 18).

If God is the Holy One of Israel, Christ is just as truly God's Holy One (v. 19) of whom God said, "I have given help to One who is mighty; I have exalted One chosen from the people." David had been chosen from the people, and is clearly a type of the Lord Jesus, of whom the scripture speaks, "With My holy oil I have anointed him" (v. 20). This took place at the time John the Baptist baptized the Lord Jesus in Jordan and the Spirit of God, pictured by the holy oil, descended on Him, thus anointing Him for the ministry he came to accomplish, both as King and Priest.

With Him the hand of God will be fully established, and the Lord Jesus, taking the place of dependent Man, would find His strength in the living God. The enemy could not in any way gain the slightest advantage over Him (v. 22), nor would the son of wickedness be allowed to inflict Him. For God would beat down His foes before His face and render a plague to those who hate Him. This was a general fact, though there was an exception in the Lord's sufferings from wicked men on the occasion of the cross of Calvary. But even those sufferings from men God limited and He brought them to an end when they had sufficed to bring glory to God. However, this scripture is prophetic of the eventual beating down of all the Lord's enemies at the time of the end.

In contrast, God's faithfulness and mercy would be with Him, so that in God's name His horn (His power) would be exalted (v. 24). "Also, I will set His right hand over the rivers" (v. 25). Not only would His right hand of power subdue His enemies, but would provide refreshment for the need of His people.

He alone would have the right to address God as "My Father, My God, and the Rock of my salvation," though others may in a different measure follow Him. For the Jews knew that when He called God His Father, He was "making Himself equal with God" (John 5:15) It is in an infinitely lesser degree that believers call God their Father.

"Also I will make Him my Firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth." It is not a question of His being the firstborn in point of time, but in point of importance. As the firstborn in human families was the prime heir of the father, Christ is rightfully the sole heir of God His Father, having been given the rights of the firstborn. In a lesser sense, believers become heirs of God also — "joint heirs with Christ" (Rom. 8:17). This is entirely by grace because He delights to share His place of glory with them.

God's mercy and God's covenant would stand firm with Him, never to be broken, as Israel broke their covenant of law (v. 28). The objects of His grace too (His seed) God would make to endure forever, a reminder that those who are His are eternally secure (v. 29). "His throne as the days of heaven" is a testimony to the eternity of His rule.

But verses 30 to 32 indicate that it is the millennium involved here, not the eternal state, for though mankind will be comparatively obedient in the millennium, with Satan bound so as not to deceive the nations, yet there may no doubt be infractions that call for discipline as is shown in Zechariah 14:17-19 as regards the nations, and this verse in Psalm 89 evidently indicates there may be cases of disobedience in Israel that will call for discipline from God. Thus, they may be in some measure unfaithful, but not so with the Lord Jesus, from whom God will not take His lovingkindness, for God's faithfulness will remain inviolate whatever may be the failure of His people. How could He ever alter the word that has issued from His lips? Indeed, He who cannot lie has sworn to David by His holiness (v. 35).

David's seed shall endure forever and his throne as the sun (v. 36). Of course, this can refer only to the Lord Jesus, the Root and Offspring of David. The enduring character of the sun and the moon are a witness to the greater durability of the throne of the Lord Jesus, — witnesses in the heavens, observable by all mankind.

THE CONTRAST OF MAN'S OPPOSITION (vv. 38-52)

Verse 37 had ended with the word "Selah," pause and consider. We might deeply consider God's faithfulness, when now we are faced with a totally contrasting condition occasioned by man's cold rebellion. At the present time, in contrast to the future, God has cast off and abhorred even His anointed (in this case David after the flesh) and has shown fury toward him instead, renouncing the covenant (that of law), and casting his throne (his authority) down to the ground (vv. 38-39).

God's having broken down all the hedges in Israel speaks of His having removed all that separated Israel from the nations, so that there was no longer any separation from evil influences. Strongholds brought to ruin shows their defenses gone. Passersby take advantage of his plight to plunder him of his possessions, and his neighbors show contempt for his condition (v. 41). Instead of gaining victory over his enemies, he finds them being exalted at his expense, so that they rejoice while he suffers defeat (v. 42). In battle his sword does him no good because God no longer sustains him as He does those who depend on His faithfulness (v. 43).

That in which he once gloried is lost, for God has intervened, not in saving power, but in disciplining judgment, casting down to the ground the throne of his lost authority (v. 44). Thus, his days have been shortened, and he is covered with shame rather than with the covering of the grace of God (v. 45). Dreadful indeed the debased condition of a nation once so honored and blessed by God! Again the word "Selah" is added, "pause and consider." Israel may well do this before

asking the question, "How long, O Lord?" (v. 46). For the reason is that their condition is more important to be considered than is the length of it, though Israel is more concerned about its length, questioning, will God hide Himself forever? Thus, it seems for they feel their time is short and their trouble long. God has prolonged His wrath because Israel has prolonged her disobedience.

They ask, "Remember how short my time is" (v. 47). Why had they themselves not remembered this when they chose to depart from the Lord? They even question whether God's creation of mankind has been futile! Actually, this questioning is because they themselves have been living futile lives, and they need only to judge this, Verse 48 similarly raises a question that we ought to deeply consider before daring to choose our own way, "What man can live and not see death? Can he deliver his life from the power of the grave?" Because "time is short" (1 Cor. 7:29), we should be the more diligent not to waste it.

But it generally takes distress to awaken the concern of our souls, and question as the psalmist did, "Lord, where are Your former loving kindnesses, which You swore to David in Your truth?" No doubt those loving kindnesses had been evident when David was living, but not so now that Israel had shown no appreciation of them.

On the other hand, the psalmist urges the Lord to remember the reproach they were bearing from their enemies. Thus, on the one side the removal of God's loving kindnesses, and on the other side the reproach of enemies were matters now that caused deep distress and misery. But the reproach was not merely against them, but as they say, with which they have reproached the steps of Your Anointed. Thus, their sin had not merely brought reproach against them, but against the Lord.

This has been so with Israel for many years. Yet the psalm ends beautifully (v. 52) for the Lord triumphs marvelously "forevermore." "Amen and Amen!"

Psalms 90-106 (Fourth Book)

Psalm 90

GOD'S ETERNITY AND MAN'S FRAILTY

This psalm begins the fourth book of psalms, in which the first man is seen as replaced by the second Man, under whose hand the world is established. Necessarily there are a number of psalms that lead up to this final result, and Psalm 90 emphasizes the brevity and frailty of the first man, — man in the flesh, the descendant of Adam.

THE LORD THE SOURCE OF LIFE (vv. 1-3)

How dependent man is seen from the beginning! Their only real refuge (or dwelling place) that has ever been theirs is the Lord Himself (v. 1). Wonderful as is the truth of this, man does not appreciate it, preferring to wander in his own way, deviating from one bypath to another. But the fact of his dependence does not change. For who is his Lord? One who existed before the mountains were brought forth, before He saw fit to form the earth and the world. Though Israel did not realize who this really was, there is no doubt that Moses is speaking of Christ the Lord. He is the Creator, and verse 2 makes it very clear, "from eternity to eternity You are God." No other can ever claim this place. Thus, the psalm that emphasizes man's frailty begins with emphasizing the eternal glory of the Lord Jesus.

MAN, SENTENCED TO DEATH (vv. 3-6)

God has seen fit to return man to the dust (v. 3), though some had lived at one time to close to 1000 years, — now not often much over 100. But with the sentence of death upon them, God tells them, "Return, O children of men." Return to their former condition? Not at all, but return to God. For if He shortened their days on earth, yet to Him even 1000 years was like "a watch in the night," come and gone, or like grass, grown up, then cut down and withered. Indeed, "what is man?"

GOD'S HOLINESS INVOLVED (vv. 7-10)

"For we have been consumed by Your anger" (v, 7). Why should God's anger and wrath be against us, and cause us to be terrified? This is anger of a pure and righteous character, by no means the losing of temper. But we generally have little sense of the dreadful enormity of our sins, both public and secret. Do we not ourselves have anger against anyone who would viciously ham our children for no reason? — or against children who would deliberately despise their parents? Thus, if we harm others who are God's creatures, or if we despise God and His Word, is it not only right that God should be angry with us?

Thus, all our days are passed away in His wrath (v. 9), for sin continues predominantly in all those who are "in the flesh," not renewed by the power of the Spirit of God. "We finish our years like a sigh." Then, though Moses himself (who wrote this psalm) lived 120 years, he writes of a normal life being seventy years. Of course in Genesis there were those who lived over 900 years, but God shortened this greatly by the time Moses wrote. Now, some may be given strength to live 80 years, yet the extra years are accompanied by "labor and sorrow" (v. 10). In other words, there is no encouragement given to wish for an extended life, and certainly this is specially so in the case of one redeemed by the blood of Christ, who is glad for the prospect of entering into the Lord's presence. At any rate, "it is soon cut off, and we fly away." Some do live for over 100 years, but however long life is, it is still short!

A PRACTICAL RESPONSE (vv. 11-17)

If we take to heart the serious lesson of the power of God's anger, which actually exceeds man's knowledge, this will instill in us a deeply reverent fear of God (v. 11), issuing in the appropriate prayer, "So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (v. 12). Since our days are short, we need grace from God to number them, that is, to keep them under close observation, so that we do not lose the lessons each day is intended to teach. It is such exercise by which we "gain a heart of wisdom."

In verse 3 God has said, "Return, O children of men;" now the psalmist adds, "Return O Lord. How long?" (v. 13). Actually, our time, as we have seen, is very short, though we may think it long. But our blessing is totally dependent on the Lord, and this moves the psalmist to ask Him to have compassion on His servants by returning to bless them. In fact, the heart of the psalmist is drawn out in earnest entreaty, " O satisfy us early with Your mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days" (v. 14). How true this would be if we sought the Lord early, then our days would not be spent as "passed away" in God's wrath. But there is recovery, which is desired with its gladness in contrast to all the days of God's wrath. This will be experienced in proportion to the measure in which we recognize the work of God appearing to us, — for indeed it has appeared wonderfully in the great sacrifice of Christ on Calvary, but this will not appear to Israel until the day they are brought to bow the knee to the Lord Jesus, when they will indeed realize His work to have been wonderfully accomplished many years before (v. 16). Israel, redeemed and renewed, will have God's glory revealed also to their children. Marvelous day indeed!

But there will be wonderful results from this too. Though the nation has never before known the preciousness of verse 17, at that time they will be invested with "the beauty of the Lord," just as believers today are seen by God to be "in Christ," for His beauty is put upon us in place of the ugliness of sin. Then after the psalmist speaks of God's work, he is free to pray that God may "establish the work of our hands." For God's work has made a wonderful difference to the work of those who are redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. All the world will be amazed at the marvelous change in Israel's works, as indeed even today many are amazed at the difference God's grace makes in the works of one who is saved by His infinite grace.

Psalm 91

THE SECOND MAN

If we have seen in Psalm 90 the evanescence of the first man Adam and his race, Psalm 91 rather introduces to us the second Man, the Lord from heaven. For while Psalm 90 ends with restoration of the dependent creature, it encourages us to go onward to witness the basis of this restoration, presenting the only One who can accomplish this.

The psalm does emphasize the truth of the Manhood of Christ, but as a Man faithful and devoted above all others. However, believers can take great comfort in this also in the fact that they may in their limited measure be faithful and devoted too, since they are linked with Him by pure grace. For God has established every believer as being "in Christ," and the Spirit of God within us leads us to be like Christ in whatever measure.

THE ONE WHO ABIDES (vv. 1-2)

The Lord Jesus has proven in all his life on earth that His dwelling place (though not having where to lay His head) was actually in the secret place of the Most High. Where else could a Man find the ability to do what He did and to speak as He did? (v. 1). In the measure in which believers find the secret of God's presence (limited as it may be) we too shall enjoy the shadow of the Almighty, — which was the place of His dwelling unceasingly.

He could therefore speak of the Lord as "My refuge and My fortress," referring to His being always in the protecting hand of God. The psalm is remarkable in this way, that the Lord Jesus is seen simply as the One dependent on God for His protection, but in no way taking the offensive against the enemy, unless verse 13 is an exception. Yet even in this, the treading upon the young lion and the serpent, He showed no exercising of amazing power, but defeated Satan simply by His referring to the Word of God (Matt. 4:4,7,10). Later, at the cross, "He trod all His foes beneath His feet by being trodden down." This was indeed taking the true place of dependent Man.

GOD'S ANSWER (vv. 3-8)

The simple reality of the faith of the Lord Jesus cannot but bring the results described in this section, which begins with the word, "Surely." And God did deliver Him from the snare of the fowler (v. 3). Satan tried every subtle means of tripping Him up, as he does with believers generally. but there was no possibility of Satan's success in the case of the Lord Jesus. Both God's feathers and God's wings are seen in verse 4, the feathers speaking of comfort and the wings of protection. Thank God these are always available for believers, but for Him they were not only available, but never lacking in any degree. For God's truth was His shield and buckler. It was His unvarying practice to meditate on the truth of God's Word, that Word which is unfailing in its ability to protect and uphold the one who depends on it, and Christ's dependence was unchanging.

"Terror by night," with its hidden insinuations, or "the arrow that flies by day," the deliberate, vicious outward attacks, would have no influence on the calm courage of faith that always characterized this blessed Son of Man (v. 5). In both cases, whether the attack was underhand, or whether it was bold and open, they never took the Lord Jesus off guard.

"Nor for the pestilence that walks in darkness (v. 6). This is threatening disease that is symbolical of spiritual influences of darkness which attack unawares. "Nor for the destruction that lays waste at noonday." Again, this refers to bold, open attacks in which the enemy thinks his power can overcome. But none of these things made any difference to the Lord Jesus. His defense was always from God; and in the measure that believers are dependent on the living God, they too need have no fear. Though great numbers may fall on one side, and greater numbers still on the other, and it would seem inevitable that the believer too will suffer the same fate, yet God's protecting hand will keep safely those who depend on Him, and this particularly true of the Lord Jesus (v. 7), since His dependence on God was unchanging. Then, whether on the right hand or on the left, He would see the reward of the wicked" (v. 41 8). Indeed, in the long run, He will Himself sentence the wicked to the judgment of eternal fire!

GOD, A SANCTUARY REFUGE (vv 9-16)

Though in the midst of a hostile environment, the Lord Jesus made God His refuge, in fact His permanent dwelling place (v. 9), so that it was impossible that evil should befall Him, nor that any plague would even come near, for to come near Him it would have to come near to God, His dwelling place (v. 10).

Also, God would give his angels charge over Him in all His pathway on earth. They would bear Him up so that He would not even dash his foot against a stone (v. 11). This indicates the ministry of angels, not ministering spiritually (for the Spirit of God does this), but caring for the temporal needs of believers (Heb. 1:14), and in this case, the Lord Jesus Himself (v. 12).

Satan knew scripture well enough to quote this verse to the Lord in tempting Him to throw Himself down from a pinnacle of the temple (Matt. 3:6). But he left out the four words, "in all You ways." It was not the way of the Lord Jesus to tempt God thus, and He answered, "It is written again, "You shall not tempt the Lord your God" (Matt. 3:7). In fact, also, Satan did not mention the following verse in his temptation of the Lord, "You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, the young lion and the serpent You shall trample underfoot" (v. 13). Of course Satan knew that the lion, the cobra and the young lion and serpent were all symbolical of Satan himself, so he would rather ignore such a verse! It is a striking fact that he knows from scripture that his end is destruction, yet continues his evil course in bold and hostile defiance of God Himself. The complete fulfillment of this prophecy will take place only as Revelation 20:10 shows us.

Beautifully, God says as to Christ, "He has set His love upon Me" (v. 14). And certainly when this was the case, there would be no doubt that God would deliver Him from all His enemies and from the sorrow of the grave, and in contrast "set Him on high," above all heavens, in complete authority over all creation. For He, more fully and perfectly than any others, knows God's name, as is indicated too in Luke 10:22, "No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him."

"He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with Him in trouble; I will deliver Him and honor Him" (v. 15). How perfectly true this was, as is indicated too in His prayer of John 11:42, "And I know that you always hear Me." Though God did not deliver Him from dying (for this was an absolute necessity in order that sin might be atoned for and banished), yet He did deliver Him "out of death" (Heb. 5:7) after he had accomplished His great work of redemption. God was with Him in trouble generally always, though the one exception was when for three hours on the cross, He was forsaken by God (Mt, 27:46). But the psalm (91) does not contemplate His great work of redemption at all, as Psalm 22 does. But thank God He has been delivered from all His sorrows and is honored by God with "long life" — a life that never ends (v. 16). Thus He is shown God's salvation, and believers also enter into this, by grace.

Psalm 92

PRAISE FOR TRUTH SHOWN TO BOTH GODLY AND UNGODLY

This is "a psalm for the Sabbath day," indicating the sabbath-rest that comes from God's righteous dealings in blessing to the saints of God in judgment of the ungodly. However, this is not the full outburst of praise that is found later in the psalms as a result of the perfect sacrifice of the Lord Jesus. For while the Lord deserves praise for who He is and for His coming into the world, yet this was not enough to deal with the guilt of man, as the Lord Himself says, "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain" ((John 12:24). But in our psalm, though it does not refer to the redemption accomplished by Christ Jesus, it does draw the heart to the Person who was to accomplish that redemption, and He is certainly worthy of our praise.

JEHOVAH'S SUPREME GLORY (vv. 1-5)

Every believer can gladly echo verse 1, It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High." For not only does such praise gladden the heart of the believer, but much more importantly, it glorifies God. At the beginning of the day, — the morning —how becoming it is that we declare His lovingkindness, for it has been evident in preserving us through the night. Then at the end of the day we may well reflect on His faithfulness which has been unfailing (v. 2).

The "instrument of ten strings" can produce lovely music, depending on the hand that plays it; but it is symbolical of the full range of adoring praise that can be produced from full hearts, the low notes reminding us of the deep sorrows of the Lord Jesus in going to the depths of the sufferings of Calvary's cross, and the high notes denoting the height of His present glory, ascended on high above all heavens. All the notes in between also are part of the perfect symphony of the entire history of our blessed Lord. Could anything have so harmonious a sound (v. 3) as that life and death, resurrection and exaltation of the One who gives the Father such delight?

"For You, Lord, have made me glad through Your work; I will triumph in the works of Your hands" (v. 4). Thus, it is made clear that the emphasis here is not on the fact of music being played well, but on the fact of God's work giving occasion for gladness of heart and worship. His work is mentioned first, then His works. Does this not impress us that God's great work of grace in the sacrifice of His beloved Son is that which first gives us occasion of gladness? This stands out above all other works as that which draws hearts in adoration of the blessed Son of God. But when once we have known such sovereign grace, we learn also to triumph in all the works of His hands, because we understand them better; whether His creation, His incarnation, His perfect life on earth, His resurrection, His ascension, His present exaltation, His High Priesthood, and much, much more. So that we adoringly tell Him, "0 Lord, how great are Your works!" Your thoughts are very deep" (v. 5). His works bear clear witness to the fact that His thoughts are very deep, more deep than we can comprehend.

ENEMIES TO PERISH (vv. 6-10)

But many are so dense that God's greatness means nothing to them. They are called "senseless" or virtually beasts, understanding nothing but what they see, or "fools" who say in their hearts, "no God" (v. 6). They may for a time "spring up like grass," and have many to take sides with them; but it is only that "they may be destroyed forever" (v. 7).

God allows the wicked seeming prosperity with the intention of destroying them forever. Wickedness loves to flaunt itself, but suddenly it is dashed down from its proud height of self-confidence (v. 7).

In great contrast, "You, O Lord, are on high forever." His height of glory can never be challenged or changed. On the other hand, His enemies shall perish. "All the workers of iniquity shall be scattered' (v, 9). Though they have gloried in having many others to support their rebellion, they will be left isolated from one another, to receive alone the solemn judgment they have earned!

"But my horn You have exalted like a wild ox." (v. 10). The believer, though in the minority, will have his horn (speaking of power) exalted to compare with that of one of the strongest of animals, thus a great contrast to the humiliation of the wicked. Added to this, the godly have been "anointed with fresh oil." the oil of the Holy Spirit of God. Wonderful blessing indeed!

BLESSING FOR THE RIGHTEOUS (vv. 11-15)

The eventual end of all these things for the righteous is seen now. The writer, having been anointed by the fresh oil of the Spirit of God, will see the end in view of his enemies, and will hear of this as well (v. 11): it is not necessary that the end be described, though elsewhere we do read of this.

But "the righteous shall flourish as the palm tree" (v. 12). It is understood that everything about the palm tree is useful in some way, a beautiful picture of the born again believer. The cedar of Lebanon, while in some cases it pictures the glory and pride of man, would in this case picture the beauty and glory with which God invests the believer. Man in the flesh may pretend to have such greatness, but it does not belong to him, though in new birth the believer may rightly be clothed in such dignity, without the danger of being puffed up by his own importance. Being planted in the house of God (v. 13), a proper and wonderful dwelling for the child of God, he will flourish with lasting fruit.

In fact, even in old age, which will be true of many who live through the millennium (one thousand years), they will still bear fruit for God. How good for us to remember that in old age we do not need to become sterile and useless (v. 14). The freshness of our new life in Christ is such that age does not affect it as it does our natural frame.

But there is a better reason for this than merely our own prosperity, for the Lord so designs it to declare His uprightness and His stability as the Rock of ages (v. 15).

Psalm 93

GOD EXALTED: MAN SUBDUED

This short psalm is very clearly prophetic of the millennial reign of the Lord Jesus, who is Jehovah, a great King over all the earth. What marvelous relief will it be for Israel when this takes place!

HE REIGNS (vv. 1-2)

While it has been always true that the Lord Jesus reigns, yet in the millennium this will be demonstrated in no uncertain way to all mankind. For while on earth the Lord Jesus was not clothed with majesty, but with the humility of devoted service, which itself is most marvelous in our eyes, yet the beauty of His glory and excellence will in His kingdom be displayed wonderfully, "girded with strength" (v. 1). Only in that day, now not far distant, will the world be established, far beyond the possibility of ever being moved.

"Your throne has been established from of old: You are from everlasting" (v. 2). As we read elsewhere of the Lord Jesus, "from everlasting to everlasting You are God" (Ps. 90:2). Thus, His throne is eternal because He is eternal. He has always been in perfect control of the creation, which is the work of His own hands. But in the millennium He will take the throne of "the Son of Man." This psalm does not however speak of His Manhood, but establishes the fact that because He is God, He has full title to the throne.

OPPOSITION ONLY CONFIRMING HIS AUTHORITY (vv. 3-5)

Verses 3 and 4 return to consider what will take place before the advent of the millennium. The floods of ungodly men, determined and bold as they will be in the Great Tribulation, lifting up their voice in strong opposition to the Lord of glory, will find that the Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, than the mighty waves of the sea" (v. 4). The sea, which is typical of the Gentile nations (Rev. 17:15) will be totally subdued and silenced, by His mighty voice. For His testimonies are very sure, in contrast to the noisy claims of all the nations. Holiness too, a contrast to the filth of the world, adorns His dwelling forever, and proves to be also a contrast to the proud assertions of men, who are cut off almost immediately.

Psalm 94

THE RIGHTEOUS CRYING FOR RELIEF

This entire psalm is devoted to an appeal to God for help because of the persistent persecution of the enemy, and we may well be reminded of the words of the Lord Jesus in Luke 18:7-8, "And shall not God avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily."

THE PLEA (vv. 1-2)

In earnest entreaty the psalmist addresses the "Lord God, to whom vengeance belongs" (v. 1), for God is the only One who has any right to exercise vengeance. If man tries to avenge himself, he will always go beyond what is perfectly just and right. We can never be trusted to make perfectly fair judgments in our own case. We may think too that judgment ought to be carried out more quickly than it is, but God knows better than we both the time of judgment and its character. Interestingly, the psalmist adds, "shine forth," though possibly he did not understand the force of what he wrote. Has God "shone forth"? Yes, in the incarnation of the Lord Jesus, in whose face all the glory of God is shining (2 Cor. 4:6). Is not the shining of that face the full answer to the need of saints of God who endure days and months and years of suffering?

"Rise up, O Judge of the earth; render punishment to the proud" (v. 2). No doubt just now the Lord sits in calm consideration and control of all the evil that fills the world. But He will indeed answer this prayer in His own time, and the judgment of the proud will be devastating.

THE CRUELTY OF EVIL (vv. 3-7)

Because of the gross cruelty of evil seeming to have the ascendancy, the psalmist cries, "How long?" (v. 3). He refers then first to the enemy's words, speaking insolent things, as though their speech would conquer (v. 4). Many men have this subtle ability, deceiving as it is, but causing them to boast in the carrying out of their devices of iniquity. Directing such attacks at the people of God, they virtually break them in pieces (v. 5), daring thus to afflict those whom the psalmist calls, "Your heritage."

They have no heart whatever to spare the widow from their cruel persecution, and even fatherless children they would not hesitate to murder. They even refer to God as being as ignorant as they are, considering that He does not know what they are engaged in (v. 7). Notice that He is spoken of as "the God of Jacob" here. Do they consider that because Jacob was not the best type of character that therefore his God was no to be considered? But God's character is not like theirs!

BUT GOD! (vv. 8-13)

Well might foolish men be admonished to wake up and understand at least elementary facts. If they are fools, when will they be wise? (v. 8). The evidence of their responsibility to God is in their own ears and eyes. They can hear: an amazing fact, but where did their hearing come from? They can see: how did they receive this amazing ability? Are they so senseless as to think that their Creator, who gave them these organs, does not Himself have the ability to hear and see? (v. 9).

Many also recognize that nations are dependent on a living God, yet do not stop to think that God will also correct man's ignorance (v. 10). Moslem nations implore the intervention of God on their behalf when in serious straits such as war, but do not care to have their cruel and evil actions reproved or corrected by such a God. If He teaches man knowledge, will man not stop to listen? For apart from God's teaching, the thoughts of man are always futile (v. 11).

On the other hand, the complete opposite is true of those who receive God's instruction. They are blessed by the Word that God Himself has given (v. 12). God gives them rest, no matter how severe adversity may prove to be, while the pit is dug for the wicked (v. 13).

TESTED BY EXPERIENCE (vv. 14-19)

The psalmist knows by experience that the Lord will not cast off His people, but God sees fit that the experience is given to prove this true of all believers. They are "His inheritance," whom He can certainly never forsake (v. 14). Judgment may seem to be on the side of unrighteousness in the present day, but it will fully "return to righteousness," and the upright in heart who have patiently waited for this, will gladly follow (v. 15).

The question arises in the heart of the Psalmist, "Who will rise up for me against the evil doers? Who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity? (v. 16). In whatever direction he looks, the answer is not there. There is only one resource: "Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul would soon have settled in silence" (v. 17). Even though some might be willing to help, their inability forbids them, and even when one finds only his foot slipping, the only dependable answer to his need is in the mercy of the Lord (v. 18). Therefore, with the eye set singly on Him, though there are a multitude of anxieties pressing on the soul, the Lord's comforts furnish, not only relief, but genuine delight.

SOUL EXERCISE (vv. 20-24)

Verse 20 appears to have special reference to the bold iniquity of the "lawless one," the antichrist who makes laws to enforce his wickedness. Can this possibly have any fellowship with God? Many rulers have attempted this kind of evil, claiming to have God supporting them! What ignorant folly! "They gather together" (v. 21), to find strength in numbers, but it is "against the righteous," thinking they can overwhelm them by such tactics, and by their vicious words with which they condemn innocent blood. Thus the godly in the Great Tribulation period will go through fire and water.

Yet, rising above the circumstances of deep trouble, the godly will say, "But the Lord has been my defense, and my God the rock of my refuge" (v. 22). Christ is the Rock, whom they will recognize then. And the answer of God is given in no uncertain terms, "He has brought on them their own iniquity, and shall cut them off in their own wickedness" (v. 23).

Psalm 95

GOD'S "TESTIMONY OF SALVATION AND JUDGMENT

This psalm is a testimony, not to the Lord's coming, but to the pressing need of obedience to Him in view of His taking His place of supreme glory. He will yet provide salvation for the godly, and bring judgment on those who harden their hearts.

THE GLORY OF THE CREATOR (vv. 1-5)

Well might Israel be called upon to sing and shout joyfully to the Lord, He who is the Rock of salvation, as they contemplate just the fact of His great power and majesty as Creator of all things (v. 1). The psalmist invites them to "come before His presence with thanksgiving," for He is not an unapproachable God, but One who delights in His creature's appreciation of His presence (v. 2). He is the great God, and He (Christ) is them great King above all so called "gods" (v. 3). Should we not gladly respond to the great privilege of giving honor and worship to the Living God and to His beloved Son, the great King?

"In His hand are the deep places of the earth," places too deep for us to understand; and "the height of the hills are His also" (v. 4). Then certainly nothing in between is excluded as His possession. Since He made it, and the sea also, He made it for Himself. If He has allowed man to be in possession of it at present (Ps. 115:16), yet we must remember this is allowed us only as a sacred trust. Indeed, how much control does man actually have over the boisterous sea? — or even over the land? (v. 5). Since God's hands have formed the dry land, He continues to control it as He will.

TO BOW OR NOT TO BOW (vv. 6-11)

Since God is infinitely great, it is only fitting that we are exhorted to "worship and bow down" (v. 1), — to kneel before our Maker. For if He is Israel's God and Israel the people of His pasture, the character of a sheep is that of submission, which should be true of everyone claiming to believe God (v.7). Yet there is a striking warning immediately given, applicable to the very day this was written, "Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion" (v. 8).

This refers primarily to Israel's long history in the wilderness, when they acted, not as sheep, but as wild donkeys, determined to have their own way. However, these verses are quoted in Hebrews 3:7-11, in warning those Jews who had at first taken the place of Christians, but were drawing back because the path of faith was not as attractive to them as they had thought it would be. How solemn a warning indeed!

Israel's fathers had tested God and tried Him in spite of seeing His work for forty years (vv. 9-10). Though every test or trial had proven and will prove God absolutely faithful, Israel hardened their hearts against His faithful grace. For forty long years of patience, He was with them, and finally declared, "It is a people who go astray in their hearts, and they do not know my ways." They could dare to test God, yet seemed to have no realization that God was rightfully testing them during all their long wilderness journey. Now it was time they should be prepared to hear the results of God's test.

Then His solemn sentence is delivered, "I swore in my wrath, They shall not enter into My rest" (v. 11). Of course this primarily referred to rest in the land of Canaan, for many died in the wilderness, in fact all who came out of Egypt except Joshua and Caleb. But Hebrews 3 applies this to the future rest, and this has a serious voice for everyone who takes the outward place of being a Christian. Because they take that place, they consider themselves Christians, and yet have never known what it means to be born again. For if one truly has the new life that is found in receiving the Lord Jesus as Savior, that life will manifest itself in the true submission of heart to Him whom he recognizes as Lord of all.

Psalm 96

GOD'S GLORY REVEALED

This psalm is clearly prophetic of the millennial glory of the Lord Jesus, manifested then as never before. Thus it speaks clearly indeed, so that no believer can mistake it.

HIMSELF! (vv, 1-3)

What singing indeed will break forth when the Lord Jesus comes to take His rightful place, singing directly to Him. No doubt "all the earth" typifies all Israel (the land), God's earthly people, who will gladly bless His name and publish His salvation "from day to day" through all the thousand years of peace (vv. 1-2). But it is not to be confined to Israel, for they are told, "Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples" (v. 3). Thus, the blessing is to be shared by all the world. They are to be drawn primarily by the matchless glory of His person, attended by the wonders of His works.

IN CONTRAST TO ALL IDOLS (vv. 4-6).

The challenge of idols is seen now to be completely silenced, for God's greatness is infinite, high above all else, and He is greatly to be praised and given the reverential fear that no idol can ever be given (v. 4). All these so-called "gods" are idols (literally "nothings!") "But the Lord made the heavens" (v. 5). If He made the heavens (all the starry hosts of heaven), it is manifest He made earth too, for earth is only one of the planets of the heavens. "Honor and majesty are before Him: strength and beauty are in His sanctuary" (v. 6). Honor and majesty are therefore glories with which His kingdom is introduced; and being introduced, then marvelous strength is seen in His sanctuary, coupled with beauty, a most becoming combination, not found together in any mere kingdom of men.

THE GLORY DUE HIS NAME (vv. 7-10)

The families of the people are summoned therefore to give the Lord glory and strength (v. 7). It is impossible to exaggerate the greatness of His glory, and the glory due His name is infinite, but with this in view, how can we give Him anything less, and be content with it? Yet the kindness of God is involved with the invitation to bring an offering and come into His courts (v. 8). Of course, He is worthy of far more adoration and worship than we, or all creation combined can ever give, but He still delights in whatever measure of honor we give to him, and we are blessed through this.

Our worship too is to be "in the beauty of holiness," not in the ugliness of forced subjection. Holiness involves the love of what is good and the positive rejection of what is evil. Well therefore might all the earth "tremble before Him" (v. 9). If the earth here speaks of Israel (the land), yet Israel is to say among the nations, "For the Lord reigns" (v. 10), and the whole world is now firmly established, when before it was "like the troubled sea when it cannot rest." Now at last the kingdom of the Lord Jesus being established, "it shall not be moved." Before this wonderful result could be accomplished, it will be necessary that God will "shake terribly the earth," during the time of The Great Tribulation, so that it will seem the earth is completely moved out of its place; but when the proper time arrives, He will Himself also bring quietness and settled peace, judging the peoples righteously."

ALL NATIONS TO RESPOND (vv. 11-13)

All creation will be wonderfully affected when the Lord Jesus receives- His rightful place. But the heavens rejoicing is typical of all the multitude of saints in heaven at that time, for the Church of the living God (composed both of those believers who have died and those who are still living at the time of the rapture), will have been "caught up to be forever with the Lord"; and not only they, but with them a tremendous number of believers who had died "in Christ" during the Old Testament, and who share the heavenly city together with the Church. Besides this, there will be martyrs who have been killed during the Tribulation because of their testimony for Christ, but raised from the dead by the time the Tribulation ends (Rev. 20:4). Thus, there will be multitudes in heaven who will join in the celebration of the victory of the Lord Jesus. The earth (or the land) speaking of Israel, will overflow with gladness; the sea (the nations) will roar in worship (v.11). "The field" is the world (Matt. 13:38), which will rejoice with all that is in it (v.12). Then "all the trees of the woods" are mentioned, typically every individual, thus nothing left out of the great celebration of the triumph of true King.

"For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with His truth" (v.13). Wonderful relief for a world torn by the vicious cruelty of unrighteousness and persistent falsehood! This of course is the coming in glory of the Lord Jesus, which will be at least seven years following His coming to translate all present-day believers Home to His presence. We today gladly anticipate both of these aspects of His coming.

Psalm 97

THE EARTH SUBJECT AND BLESSED

This psalm also celebrates the reign of the Lord Jesus in the millennium and His subduing all things under Him.

THE LORD SUPREME (vv. 1-5)

When He reigns, "let the earth (the land) exult," and "let the multitude of isles rejoice." Nothing on earth is left out (v. 1). Yet "clouds and darkness surround Him" (v. 2), reminding us that His glory is so great that it is is not perceived in all its fulness, but is rather to be deeply respected by all creation. "Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne," a solid foundation indeed, never known in any of the kingdoms of men. "A fire goes before Him" (v. 3). There is no possibility of the enemy attacking Him, for the fire burns them up before they ever see Him. "His lightnings light the world" (v. 4) — not the "light of life" in this case, but that which causes the world to tremble. Of course this is the introduction of His reign, so the Great Tribulation comes to an end, with the mountains (governmental authorities) melting like wax. Why so? Because of the presence of the Lord of the whole earth (v. 5).

IDOLS REMOVED (vv. 6-9)

"The heavens declare His righteousness" (v. 1). it will be known then to the world that the Church and all true believers of every age, who have died, and have been raised, are now greatly blessed in heaven, declaring the pure righteousness of God in His having redeemed them from their sins. "And all the peoples see His glory" — that is, for peoples on earth, who will have their eyes opened to recognize Christ as the King of glory.

This being so, all who worship idols will be put to shame, for idolatry will be utterly banished (v. 7). Instead, "all you gods," that is, the authorities in the nations, are bidden to worship God's Messiah. Zion, a renewed Jerusalem, will hear and be filled with gladness; and the daughters of Judah, the freshly awakened remnant of Israel, will greatly rejoice because of the Lord's judgments (v. 8). What marvelous relief after centuries of trouble and sorrow!

"For You, Lord, are Most High above all the earth; You are exalted far above all gods." Thus the psalmist addresses the Lord Himself, giving to Him directly the honor that rightly belongs to Him. May every believer be glad to do the same.

HIS HOLINESS (vv. 10-12)

Not only is it becoming to magnify the greatness of the Lord, but to recognize His holiness is a vital matter too. If we love the Lord, then it is deeply necessary to hate evil (v. 10). For holiness in its essential meaning is the love of what is good and the hatred of evil. This in fact denotes the character of God. His nature is love and light, that is, what He is in Himself apart from all circumstances. Character refers to what He is in relation to circumstances, and it is this that is impressed on us in these verses. Because of the holiness of His character, He preserves the souls of His saints, delivering them out of the hand of the wicked.

Psalm 98

He "has made known His salvation," that is, though it was not publicly known in the world for centuries (in fact known only by those who had received Christ as Savior), it will be known by the whole world in that coming day. "In the sight of the nations" His righteousness will then be wonderfully revealed (v. 2), a righteousness so completely superior to any conception of righteousness on the part of man. Though for centuries it seemed to Israel that God had forgotten them, they will realize then, "He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness to the house of Israel" (v. 3). Thank God He has a longer memory than people give Him credit for! And His goodness to Israel will affect "all the ends of the earth" in witnessing the wonder of His salvation, a salvation that will include Gentiles as well as Israel.

RESPONSE FROM REDEEMED ISRAEL (vv. 4-6)

It is Israel particularly that is bidden to shout aloud to Jehovah, that is„ "all the land," — break forth and sing for joy. Verse 4 speaks of the people as a whole, then verse 5 — "Psalm unto Jehovah with the harp, with the harp and the voice of a psalm" evidently refers to the ministry of the Levites, for they used the stringed instruments in the worship of God (2 Chron. 5:12). Then verse 6 infers the ministry of the priests, who used trumpets and rams' horns (Josh, 6:4). So that in these 3 verses Israel is prominent.

THE WHOLE WORLD PRAISING (vv. 7-9)

But the praise is taken up by the entire world. "Let the sea roar, and all its pillars, the world and those who dwell in it" (v. 7). The sea is typical of the nations (Rev. 17:15). The rivers too, (sources of refreshment) are bidden to clap their hands, and the hills (typically governmental authorities) will have reason to rejoice before the Lord (v. 8).

Why? Because "He is coming to judge the earth," not to punish, but to use discerning judgment in ruling in perfect righteousness. This will be true as regards the whole world generally, but just as true in regard to all the people of the world. "Come, Lord Jesus!"

Psalm 99

VICTORY OVER EVIL

This psalm also looks on to the end of God's ways with man, emphasizing His gaining the victory over every enemy and reigning in righteousness.

THE LORD REIGNS (vv. 1-3)

The people may well tremble in recognition of the awesome power and glory of the One who once was crucified, but now exalted (v. 1). The Old Testament tabernacle is referred to in His dwelling between the cherubim, those who celebrate the just government of God's King. The land too might well be moved to give Him the place of supreme honor.

For He is great in Zion, that is, in the renewed Jerusalem, for Zion is Jerusalem's particular name in the millennium (v. 2). Being high above all the peoples, He is entitled to have them praising His great and awesome name (v. 3). "For He is holy," a character lacking as in men's kingdoms generally, but this is an honor that is shared by no other.

LOVING JUDGMENT (vv. 4-6)

"The King's strength also loves justice." He loves to discern what is right and good in contrast to the evil that is so common (v. 4). In reigning He has established equity, equal justice for all mankind. Not only has He established such principles, He has put them into execution. Men often have good laws, but cannot enforce them: how completely in contrast to this will be the authority of the Lord Jesus, who will allow no infractions of His edicts. This surely gives good reason for mankind to exalt and worship the Lord our God in His absolute holiness.

Moses and Aaron are spoken of as "among His priests." Moses did not have part in the priesthood in Israel, at least officially, but in moral character he was indeed a priest, always concerned about interceding for the people and for the glory of God among the people. Then Samuel is added as "among those who call upon His name" (v. 6), for he also was an effective intercessor (1 Sam. 12:23).

ON BEHALF OF THOSE SANCTIFIED (vv. 7-9)

Thus, Israel was a people sanctified by the call of God, set apart from the nations for God's pleasure. He spoke to them as He did to no other nation, — "out of a cloudy pillar" (v. 7). This was before the days of Samuel, who only followed to confirm God's special call of the people. They only of all the nations were called to keep God's testimonies and His ordinances. Though they were not without fault in the way they carried this out, yet God does give them credit for the obedience they did show.

Because they were His, He answered them, being a "God who forgives," for they were often greatly in need of forgiveness. Because He loved them he took vengeance on their deeds, not on them personally (v. 8), but He did use needful discipline. Therefore again they are told to worship Him, and again, because He is holy (See Psalm 97:12).

Psalm 100

ENDURING PRAISE In the previous psalm the praises of the Lord have been building up to this final ascription of honor and glory to the eternal God, which is shown to be, not simply final, but eternal. All lands are bidden to shout with joy to the Lord (v. 1), and to serve Him also with gladness, — how much higher than the servitude that is virtually enforced, either by commandment or by the pressure of conscience (v. 2). Nor is there the same uncertainty of fear in this coming into the Lord's presence, but with joyful singing.

"Know that the Lord (that His, the Lord Jesus), He is God" (v. 3). Is it necessary that we be told that "it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves"? Yes, such words are necessary to rebuke the pride of "self-made" men, — a pride that even dares to assume to be God, as the Beast and the antichrist will do, and as the Pharisee "prayed thus with himself, "God, I thank You that I am not like other men" (Luke 18:11).

How much better for us to be content that we are "His people and the sheep of His pasture!" This is an honor that we do not deserve, yet which God has given us. This being so, we are invited to "enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise" (v. 4). In His presence we indeed learn that "the Lord is good; and His mercy is everlasting." Nor is that mercy inconsistent with His truth, which endures to all generations (v. 5). Well might we unceasingly praise Him!

Psalm 101

FAITH IN PRACTICE

This psalm introduces a new series of psalms, and reminds us of Psalm 1, with its refusal of the walk, the stand and the sitting of the ungodly, while highly commending the faithfulness of the godly.

PERSONAL RIGHTEOUSNESS (vv. 1-3)

The "blessed man" of Psalm 1 is the same who speaks in this psalm. It is Christ, the One who can speak of His own integrity and wisdom in no uncertain terms, as no one else can do. He is a true King, singing of mercy and justice which He alone can dispense to His people. He has full occasion to thus sing praises to God, for He represents His people in perfection (v. 1).

Who else could say, "I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way" (v. 2)? We are told "David behaved himself wisely in all his ways" (1 Sam. 18:14), but this was limited, and not perfect. Yet he is a type of the perfect King. Interestingly, however, the Lord asks the question, "0, when will you come to Me?" For it seems long indeed that the Lord Jesus is called upon to wait for God to establish Him as King, just as David had to wait for take the throne of Israel, though anointed long before (1 Sam. 16:13). But the Lord could say also, "I will walk within My house with a perfect heart." Not only did He behave wisely in a perfect way, but His heart was perfect, and in His house His own people can fully witness that He has a perfect heart.

He would set nothing wicked before His eyes (v. 3). Blessed it is to see this firm decision of faith on the part of the true King, for being holy in character, He loved goodness, and hated evil; not that He hated the evildoers, but He hated their work.

DEALING WITH OTHERS (vv. 4-8)

When the King takes His throne of absolute authority, He will allow no perverse heart to remain in His presence (v. 4). He will not in any way be identified with wickedness, as some are willing to do even though they may not themselves stoop to acts of wickedness. Even one who secretly slanders his neighbor will be found out and destroyed, — banished from the presence of the King. He would discern and judge one who had a haughty look and a proud heart. Such men think they can virtually force their way through anything, but how humiliating it will be for them to have to face this King!

In beautiful contrast to the evil that has prospered in the many kingdoms of men, His eyes will rest in genuine complacency on the faithful of the land, and will find delight in having them dwell with Him (v. 6). While this is wonderful, it still will not compare with the great blessing of those who are given a heavenly inheritance, and the sweetness of our Lord's presence in the glory. But they and we are encouraged to walk in a perfect (or mature) way in faithful service to Him.

On the other hand, those who work deceit or who speak falsehood shall find themselves banished from His presence, being put to shame with no hope of recovery. In fact, when the Lord Jesus takes the throne, it will be early in His reign that He destroys all the wicked of the land, rooting out all things that offend. The city of the Lord (Jerusalem) will thus be purged from all evil doers. Wonderful relief for a groaning creation!

Psalm 102

CHRIST, BY SACRIFICE UNITING GOD AND MAN

Though Psalm 101 has shown Christ to be the perfect and only King for Israel, Psalm 102 shows Christ to be afflicted and overwhelmed, as no king might be expected to be; but pouring out His complaint before the Lord, He takes the place of lowliest submission, even to the death of the cross, the only way by which man could ever be brought into thof. Surely therefore our hearts can only be deeply affected by His sorrows and the wonderful results for ourselves as well as for the glory of God.

PRAYER AND ITS CAUSE (vv. 1-7)

The agony of the Lord's prayer here reminds us of His agony in the garden of Gethsemane as He anticipated the more dreadful agony of the cross. He pleads, "Do not hide Your face from Me in the day of My trouble" (v. 2). In one respect God did not hide His face from Him; though when it was necessary that He should bear sin in His own body on the cross, then for three hours God did hide His face from Him, a terrible exception to the general rule that God heard Him always. He did pray with strong crying and tears to Him who was able to save Him "out of death," and was heard (Heb. 5:7). Not that He was saved from dying, but "out of death," by resurrection.

In the Gospels we do not read of the deep feelings of the Lord Jesus in His day by day sufferings, but here we read that His days were consumed like smoke and His bones burned like a hearth. Once we do read of Him groaning when faced with the death of Lazarus (John 11:38), but the feelings of the groaning is indicated in verse 5 of this psalm.

"I am like a pelican of the wilderness" (v. 6). the pelican is a water bird, but here out of its proper habitat. So the Lord Jesus, accustomed to the refreshing joy of the Father's presence in heaven, found it a foreign experience to be in a wilderness world, so contrary to His rightful place of perfect circumstances. "Also, like an owl of the desert," speaking loneliness in circumstances of no provision.

But more than this, "I lie awake, and am like a sparrow alone on the housetop" (v. 7). the sparrow is the social bird, found in companies. The Lord Jesus surely desired company, but even when with His disciples, we read of Him that "He was alone praying" (Luke 9:18). His disciples did not enter into His thoughts, so that His exercises were solitary. Similarly, the house speaks of fellowship, but where fellowship was desired it was lacking. How little we understand the loneliness of the path of the Lord Jesus in the world!

MANY AGAINST HIM (vv. 8-11)

But not only was loneliness His portion. He had to face also the active opposition of enemies, those who relentlessly sought to put Him down, and these, sad to say, the religious leaders of the day, confident of their own ability and their own assumed rights. We know they sought every means of victimizing the Lord of glory, using grossly deceitful words. While we read of these attacks in the New Testament, we do not read there of how He felt about them, as we do in Psalms like this one, for here He speaks of eating ashes like bread, and mingling His drink with weeping (v. 9). Having been accustomed to the perfection of heavenly glory, then everyday life on earth was distressing to Him, and this the more so because of God's indignation and wrath; — not against Him, but against the sin on every hand that He felt as though it had been His own (v. 10). Whatever suffering He endured on earth He realized as being permitted by God. He felt that God both lifted Him up, and then cast Him away. Why did He feel this? Because He had come to identify Himself with the condition of Israel, and thus to feel the shame and disgrace of the sin of which Israel was guilty. Verse 11 shows how He felt the evanescence of His condition as Man on earth, — His days like a shadow, and withering like grass.

ZION'S RESURRECTION (vv. 12-14)

What a change is seen in verse 12 as compared to verse 11! It is God Himself telling His Son, "But You, O Lord, shall endure forever, and the remembrance of Your name to all generations." We today have witnessed the fact that Christ has already arisen now beyond all possibility of such sorrow and anguish as He has once borne. Yet while He has been raised up from death, He has not yet had mercy on Zion (v. 13); but no possibility of doubt remains that the time to favor Zion will come, as this verse prophetically states.

"For Your servants take pleasure in her stones" (v. 14), the stones symbolizing believers, solid and stable (see 1 Peter 2:5). "And show favor to her dust." Man was made from dust originally (Gen. 2:7), emphasizing his insignificance, as Abraham recognized (Gen. 18:27). But to those who who confess their insignificance God delights to show favor. When this is seen to be true, then even the Gentile nations will fear the name of the Lord (v. 15), and the kings of the earth will give Him glory. He will build up Zion, for this vital matter is connected with His appearing in glory.

GOD'S WAY WITH THE WEAK (vv. 17-22)

God shows marvelous kindness to those who acknowledge their weakness and destitution. Everyone is in that condition of total weakness, but their pride keeps them from admitting it; but facing the truth honestly will always receive the kind consideration of the eternal God. He cannot disregard their prayer (v. 17). This is written too for a future generation, that those who are yet to be created may bow to their own failure and humiliation, and genuinely praise the Lord (v. 18). Verses 19-22 therefore speak prophetically as though this had already happened, — "He looked down from the height of His sanctuary; from heaven the Lord viewed the earth." What an encouragement for those who feel the sorrow and helplessness of their depressed condition! For God hears the groaning of the prisoner and those appointed to death.

How great a relief this will be for the suffering remnant of Israel! But as well as being relieved, they will be given an Object that greatly delights their hearts, for the name of the Lord Jesus will be declared in Zion, with all Jerusalem echoing His praise. For then, instead of being scattered to the ends of the earth, "the peoples are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the Lord" (v. 22).

GOD WITH US (vv. 23-28)

But we hear a different voice now speaking of weakness in a different way than is seen in the previous section where mankind is seen to be utterly weak. It is the Lord Jesus speaking in verse 23, saying that God weakened His strength. Of course He was willing for this, taking the place of a Man, dependent and weak. In fact, He also says, "He shortened my days," for Christ lived on earth less than half the normal time of which Psalm 90:10 speaks (70 years). Now He is recorded as praying, "0 my God, do not take me away in the midst of my years (v. 24). Yet from a natural standpoint this was actually the case, and we can understand the Lord's not desiring to die practically in His youth.

But in the same verse God answers Him (as Hebrews 1:10-12 confirms), "Your years are throughout all generations." His death on earth did not affect this at all. In fact, His years had no beginning, and will have no end: of old He had laid the foundations of the earth (v. 25). He Himself was from eternity, but not so the creation, which he Himself had brought into existence, — both earth and the heavens.

But even the earth and the heavens as they are now, will not continue. they will perish, while He Himself is unchangeable (v. 26). they are only like a garment with which He virtually clothes Himself for a brief time. Thus creation grows old, and 2 Peter 3:7 prophesies its destruction by fire, then also of "new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (2 Peter 3:13). It is the Lord Jesus himself who will accomplish this great change (v. 26).

He Himself remains "The Same" in contrast to all creation (v. 27) Just as His years had no beginning, so

they will have no end. Also, the eternity of His person guarantees the eternal blessing of the children of His servants. They will be established permanently as dependent on Him, many of them living throughout the thousand years of peace.

Psalm 103

THE PRAISE OF THOSE RESTORED

Unhindered praise will rise from the hearts of those redeemed and blessed in the millennium, as this psalm shows beautifully. The psalmist calls on his own soul to bless the Lord, and all that is within him. Being so greatly blessed then, how could they ever forget His benefits? And how can we today forget the great blessing with which God has blessed the Church of God? Sad to say, we know our own memories are too short as to these things. May the Lord stir us to a greater appreciation of our many spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus our Lord!

AS SAVIOR (vv. 3-4)

Our first most vital need was that of a Savior to save us from the guilt of our sins. But sins here are called iniquities, that is, greatly aggravated guilt, and no matter how great, they are forgiven to those who receive the Lord Jesus as Savior. But at this time also, the Lord will heal all their diseases, so that in all those thousand years bodily disease will be banished (v. 3). We read in Hebrews 6:5 of those who tasted "the powers of the age to come," which shows us that the limited measure of bodily healing at the beginning of Christianity was but a small foretaste of what will be true in the coming age, the millennium. All believers now do not (and are not expected to) enjoy this freedom from disease, as they will in heaven, and as believers will in the millennium. There are some who teach that bodily healing is in the atonement, and that therefore every believer should be free from disease of any kind, but Matthew 8:16-17 shows that the Lord Jesus fulfilled the scripture, "He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses" when He was healing on earth, not in His sacrifice.

The lives of the remnant of Israel will, in the millennium, be fully redeemed from destruction, and crowned with lovingkindness and tender mercies (v. 4). These blessings then will be clearly manifest, not blessings "in heavenly places in Christ," such as believers enjoy today, but their mouth will be literally satisfied with good things (v. 5), with no lack, no deprivation of any natural blessing. Their youth will be renewed wonderfully, as Isaiah 65:22 confirms, "As the days of a tree shall be the days of My people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands."

Those who have before been oppressed will find that the Son of God will execute righteousness and justice for them (v. 6), in perfect accord with His own ways made known centuries before to Moses (v. 7). Moses was given grace to understand God's ways, which involves His character working always behind the scenes; while the children of Israel witnessed His acts, little as they may have understood His ways. But God always acts consistently with His character, and Israel in the millennium will be strongly reminded of God's dealings with them from the very first of their becoming a nation.

HIS OWN CHARACTER (vv. 8-10)

Thus these verses emphasize the marvelous character of the eternal God, which shall deeply impress the hearts of His people Israel. They will certainly have found then that He is merciful and gracious (v. 8), and has proven Himself to be "slow to anger and abounding in mercy." Though it is sometimes necessary that He should strive with man because of man's stubborn pride, yet He graciously limits that struggle, and does not keep His anger forever (v. 9). In fact, Israel will fully acknowledge then, as believers do today, that he has not dealt with them as they deserved, nor punished them according to the enormity of their guilt (v. 10): they will be humbled, but adoring.

IN VIEW OF CREATURE WEAKNESS (vv. 11-18)

Now we must be reminded that there is an infinite difference between our own frailty and the greatness of the One who shows marvelous mercy toward those who are so far below Him. But that distance is used only to emphasize the greatness of that mercy, — mercy as high as the heavens are above the earth (v. 11). Also, the immeasurable distance between east and west is utilized by God to illustrate the total and absolute removal of our transgressions (v. 12). What tender compassion moves the heart of our God and Father in reference to our own utter infirmity!

He is indeed a true Father, deeply concerned about the welfare of His children, — more so than any earthly father (v. 13). "For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust" (v. 14). We too easily forget that we are dust, and unseemly pride seeks to exalt itself, but God does not forget, and has mercy on our weakness.

But though we do not seriously enough consider it, man's days are like grass, and even the most outstanding of men like the flower of grass. The flower fades even before the grass withers away. The winds of circumstance pass over it, "and it is gone." If he thinks he is strong while he is young, yet what of old age? "The longest life is short, fading ere scarce begun." Generally also, man is soon forgotten: "its place remembers it no more" (v. 16).

But in wonderful contrast, "the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him." There is no cessation of His gracious consideration of man's dependent weakness. His mercy and His righteousness extend to "children's children," — indeed to many generations in the millennial age (v. 17). But added to this is "to such as keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to do them" (v. 18). This is not God's covenant of law, which none have kept at all, or could keep, but the "new covenant," which involves God's putting His law "in their minds and writing it in their hearts" (Jer. 31:33), so that in the millennium Israel will gladly respond to God's commandments. Thus man's weakness, when dependent simply on the power and grace of God, will become true strength.

GOD GOVERNING (vv. 19-22)

Man, having been reduced to his proper level of weakness and dependence, God is now seen to have His place of ruling over all. At that time everyone will recognize that "God has established His throne in heaven" (v. 19), and His kingdom will manifestly rule over all. What a relief for a world so torn by rebellion and confusion!

Angels also, who in contrast to man's weakness, excel in strength, are bidden to bless the Lord. But how well to observe where their strength comes from: -they "do His Word, heeding the voice of His Word" (v. 20). But this resounding worship widens to include all the hosts of the Lord and His ministers who do His pleasure (v. 21). Does this not include the innumerable host of stars besides the sun, the moon and planets? Though not given personal will and intelligence, their motions bear witness to the greatness of their Creator, doing just what He pleases. And "all His works" join in the chorus of unending praise. Well might we echo with the psalmist, "Bless the Lord, O my soul!"

Psalm 104

ALL CREATION EXALTING HIM

This psalm expands on Psalm 103, emphasizing the great power of God in all creation. Of course, this is perfectly true now, but in the millennium it will be more fully manifest to all mankind, for they will have learned to give God His place of infinite majesty.

ABOVE ALL (vv. 1-4)

Again, the psalmist calls upon his soul to bless the Lord, and draws attention to the greatness of His glory, — "clothed with honor and majesty" (v. 1). Of whom else could it possibly be said that he has covered himself with light as with a garment? Indeed, in this case the light is so bright that it blinds our feeble eyes, but causes the more devoted worship. "He stretches out the heavens like a curtain" (v. 2). We marvel at observing the heavens, as to how they are maintained in calm, majestic beauty, with the clouds moving and changing continually but having no effect on the heavens themselves.

In fact, strange as it may sound, "He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters" (v. 3). these are "the waters above" (Gen. 1:7), waters borne in the clouds, which are virtually made "His chariot," which we can only observe, for we certainly do not ride in these. Nor can we "walk on the wings of the wind," as does our great Creator and Redeemer.

More than this, He "makes His angels spirits, His ministers a flame of fire." Thus, angels are far above our natural understanding, spiritual beings, not hampered by a bodily condition, but moved by the flaming fire of holiness.

THE EARTH ESTABLISHED: WATERS SEPARATED (vv. 5-9)

These verses confirm the Genesis record of God's preparing the earth for man's welfare. We may wonder as to the earth having foundations when we understand it to be a great ball speeding through space; but God knows what He is doing and He establishes what we cannot, the foundations being so solid that nothing can change it 'forever and ever" (v. 5)

As is implied in Genesis 1:9, the deep waters covered the entire world, a fact that science cannot dispute. In fact, here we read "the waters stood above the mountains" (v. 6), and that it was the rebuke of God's word that changed this condition. What a voice of thunder indeed! (v. 7). The Numerical Bible translates verse 8: "Mountains ascended; they went down the valleys unto the place that Thou hast appointed for them." Evidently this speaks of mountains rising to cause waters to run into the valleys. The emerging earth was to be a suitable place for men's dwelling.

Though at the time of Noah's flood, this process may seem to have been reversed for a brief time, yet it was not permanently reversed, for God had set a boundary for the waters that they might not return to cover the earth (v. 9), as God tells Job, "I said, 'this far you may come, but no farther, and here shall your proud waves must stop" (Job 38:11).

FRESH SPRINGS OF WATER (vv. 10-15)

However, the dry land is by no means sufficient to sustain man. The need of fresh water is of great importance, both to meet man's thirst and to enable the land to bear fruit to relieve his hunger. Marvelously, these fresh waters abound in the mountains and in the valleys (v. 10), and not only for the good of mankind, but also for the beasts, — even the wild donkeys that symbolize man in his natural state of independence and self-will (v. 11). The birds of the heavens are noted for the sweetness of their songs, for they picture those redeemed for a heavenly inheritance, who may well sing for joy (v. 12).

>From "His upper chambers" — the clouds, He waters the hills, satisfying the earth with abundant provision (v. 13). If the earth is satisfied, then surely we also ought to be. All these things are true now, but will be more beautifully evident in the millennium.

He also causes grass to grow for the domestic animals, for He does not despise any of His creatures, but shows constant kindness toward them. Other forms of vegetation also He provides for the service of man, thus bringing forth food from the earth (v. 14). Thus, wine is produced to make glad the heart of man, — the wine typical of redemption by the blood of Christ; and oil, picturing the Holy Spirit of God, who makes our face shine. Also, bread, typical of Christ the bread of life, by whom man's heart is strengthened (v. 15).

In regard to all these things, there are many hindrances today to our sustained enjoyment of them, but in the millennium these hindrances will be removed, so that the wonder of all God's provision will be clearly evident.

EXPERIENCES OF GOOD (vv. 16-18)

The trees of the Lord are full," for they partake of the fulness of God's provision, and picture mankind in various ways (v. 16). The cedars are specified, the most prominent of trees, speaking of man's great honor and glory. But the trees are a provision of God for birds (v. 17), the stork being mentioned as living in the fir trees (evergreens), which are not affected by the changing seasons. "The high hills are for the wild goats," whose feet are well adapted to the rugged conflict that rocks present (v. 18). Rock badgers choose cliffs as an effective refuge from predators.

WISE GOVERNMENT (vv. 19-23)

Above all the various experiences of His creatures, God reigns in sovereign wisdom and power. The phases of the moon mark off the months, and these have an effect on all mankind (v. 19). The sun is spoken of as "going down" before we read of its rising (v. 22), for we find in experience that times of trial and darkness so frequently precede the times of light and joy. God makes the darkness (v. 20), and the beasts of the forest emerge, expecting to find food when their prey is unaware. But God has ordained this so, for He cares for the cruel, predatory animals as well as for the weak and helpless.

Young lions, strong and vigorous as they are, are not therefore independent of outside help, but actually "seek their food from God" (v. 21). If He did not make provision for them, they would go hungry, just as is true in our own case. But in contrast to man, "when the sun arises, they gather together and lie down in their dens." And God has so ordered matters also, that "man goes to his work and his labor until the evening" (v. 23). This is normal, though not by any means always practiced today, though in the millennium the abnormalities will surely be largely corrected.

GOD'S FULL CONTROL (vv. 24-30)

Not only does God rule: He is in complete control of all His works. All that takes place is by His sovereign direction, for He is Master of all. Indeed, His works are tremendous in number, beyond our powers of contemplation; and His manifest wisdom is more than amazing (v. 24). The earth is full of His possessions; but the life in the seas (not to be easily observed by man), is astounding in its "innumerable teeming things" (v. 25). Science tells us that the combined weight of all humans, animals and birds is much less than the weight of the world's insect population. (And it would take quite a few mosquitos to equal the weight of an elephant!) But if we add the weight of all these together, it would be almost nothing compared to the weight of the population of the seas! For the seas occupy about 75% of the surface of the earth, and they are deep also, with residents at every level, while animals and men are confined to one level, and even birds must come down to one level to sleep.

One reference only to a foreign object is made, an object man has introduced, that is, the ships which make use of the great expanse of waters. But neither the ships or their owners are in control of the seas. Rather, "they reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end" (Ps. 107:27). What a contrast to the calm, sublime control of the Master of the universe! But of all the life in the seas, Leviathan alone is designated, a sea monster, but not designed for work, rather spending his life in playing! Why? Because God ordained it so.

However, the creatures He has made, whether on earth or in the sea, depend on Him for their food. How much do all the creatures of the sea require in the way of food for even one day? But God supplies their needs and they have no lack (vv. 27-28).

If He see fit, however, to limit their sustenance, He sometimes does this, and they are troubled (v. 29). In fact, He does this with man too. Then ultimately He takes away their breath, and death relegates them to the same dust from which they originated. Yet, as easily as He makes a creature die, He by His Spirit is able to create another to take its place, thus renewing the face of the earth (v. 30).

GOD'S REST (v. 31-35)

Confusion and disturbance are banished when the God of glory takes His rightful place, and His glory endures forever (v. 31). He will indeed rejoice in His works, as we are told in Zephaniah 3:17, "The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing."

However, what seems far from rest is noted in verse 32, "He looks on the earth, and it trembles; He touches the hills, and they smoke." This sounds fearful, but it is only so for unbelievers, as we see indicated in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-8, "Since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled, rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Thus, the believer may well say, "I will sing to the Lord as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being" (v. 33). Verse 34 is therefore rightly translated, "My meditation of Him shall be sweet" Eastern religions emphasize meditation, but they mean by this that one should get into a state of clearing his mind of everything, so it is really a blank. How important that we have the proper Object of meditation! With Christ as the Object, meditation is truly sweet, otherwise it is emptiness. Gladness is found therefore only in the Lord.

The whole area of our lives will be therefore swept clean by the eventual judgment of God against those who persist in sin and wickedness (v. 35), and this is rest indeed, drawing out the response of the individual, "Bless the Lord, O my soul! Praise the Lord!"

Psalm 105

GOD'S WAYS WITH HIS PEOPLE

Both this psalm and Psalm 106 deal with God's ways with His people Israel, giving an interesting summary of their history. But Psalm 105 is confined to Israel's history in being delivered from the bondage of Egypt, a stirring picture of the deliverance of believers from the bondage of sin.

THE TRUE GOD (vv. 1-7)

If we are to understand God's ways with Israel, we must first know something of God Himself, and we surely have sufficient evidence as to His glory, if we only listen to it. How well He deserves our giving thanks to Him; and this will be specially realized by Israel in the millennial age. His deeds should certainly be made known among the peoples, the Gentile nations (v. 1). Singing is also advised (v. 2), for singing is the language of a redeemed people (Ex. 15); and speaking of His wondrous works is only becoming when we are the recipients of the blessing of those works.

Well may they glory too in His holy name, — not only in the power of that great name, but in the holiness of it. It will surely be true also that the hearts of those who honestly seek the Lord will greatly rejoice (v. 3). In seeking the Lord, they will also seek His strength (v. 4). Though under law God's face was hidden from them, then they will "seek His face evermore." Even Moses could not, under law, look upon God's face (Ex. 33:20), but all the glory of God is seen now shining "in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6), and this will be a wonderful reality to believers in the millennium.

Though those in the millennium have not previously been present when God's marvelous works were accomplished in liberating Israel from Egypt, yet they are told to "remember His marvelous works." Of course they can do this just as we can remember all the events of the history of the Lord Jesus in His incarnation, His life of great goodness, His sufferings and sacrifice on Calvary, His resurrection and exaltation to God's right hand. We can remember because we have God's Word for all this. "His wonders and the judgments of His mouth" may thus be remembered too. But the "seed of Abraham, God's servant, are addressed, and also called "You children of Jacob, His chosen ones" (v. 6). No doubt this has direct reference to Israel in her being blessed in the millennium, but even today all believers are classified as children of Abraham: "If you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to promise" (Gal. 3:29). Because we have faith, we are seen as Abraham's children; and because believing Israelites are unworthy of the least of God's mercies, they are looked at as Jacob's children, -chosen in spite of being totally undeserving. Israel will be able to speak this way firmly and decidedly only when restored to God in the millennium, and voice the unshaken conviction, "He is the Lord our God: His judgments are in all the earth" (v. 7), for this fact will only then be clearly and fully demonstrated.

HIS COVENANT KEPT (vv. 8-12)

"He remembers His covenant forever' (v. 8). This is certainly not the covenant of Sinai which demanded the obedience of the people, and which the people broke immediately when placed under it. Rather this covenant in verse 8 is "the word which he commanded for a thousand generations," therefore age-lasting. It is the covenant God made with Abraham (Gen. 25:18), which was unconditional, not in the least conditional on the obedience of Israel (v. 9). He again affirmed the same covenant to Isaac (Gen. 26:4), and confirmed it to Jacob (Gen 28:13-14), in spite of Jacob's wandering away. For it was an everlasting covenant (v. 10), dependent therefore only on the faithfulness of God. He promised to give Israel the land of Canaan at a time when they were strangers in the land, and very few in number (v. 12).

PRESERVED (vv. 13-15)

Even when the sons of Israel were wanderers, going from one nation to another, the preserving mercy of God was with them, delivering them from any possibility of oppression, even reproving kings for their sake (v. 14), such as was true in the case of Abraham when he failed in his energy of faith, denying his proper relationship to his wife (Gen. 12:17-20), and a second time also (Gen. 20:2-3). Abraham was a prophet of God, as were others who were sons of Abraham, and God showed special care for them in spite of their own weakness and failure.

GOD TRYING HIS PEOPLE (vv. 16-22)

But if God preserves His own, He tries them also. It was He who sent a famine in the land, reducing the very provision of necessary food to an alarming level (v. 16). But He had sent His servant Joseph to Egypt beforehand, though as a slave sold to a foreign master. Nor was he without the personal trial that this involved. He was put in prison, his feet hurt with irons (v. 18). But God's trials are limited, and Joseph was unexpectedly released from prison, and became the deliverer of Egypt from the pains of famine, and very soon the deliverer of his own family from the same afflictions. The king of Egypt made him ruler over all his house (v. 20). The trial of Joseph's sufferings had well qualified him for this unusually great prominence, both in keeping control of the country and teaching wisdom to elders (v. 22).

GOD WITH THEM THROUGH EXERCISE (vv. 23-25)

Israel is seen now come into Egypt, at first gladly received by Pharaoh and his people, until their number increased so that they became stronger than the Egyptians. This moved the Egyptians to hate them, and Pharaoh devised deceitful means of decimating them, giving orders that every boy born to Israelites must be killed.

Then the Lord sent Moses, who had been born in Egypt, back to that country for the purpose of delivering His people from their bondage; and Aaron, his older brother, was chosen to support Moses (v. 26). God also led them in performing signs and wonders that proved they were sent by God. Darkness is mentioned first (v. 28), though it was not the first of the plagues, but the ninth, yet from the very first the darkness in the hearts of the Egyptians was evident. The turning of the waters into blood was the first plague, followed by the infestation of frogs (vv. 29-30). Flies then are mentioned here, and lice afterward (v. 31), though Exodus 8:16-20 has a reverse order.

Hail and flaming fire are next noted (v. 32), though two other plagues actually intervened before these were sent. The locusts without number are mentioned (v. 34), which ate up the vegetation of the land. We may be sure that God has good reason for changing the order of these plagues in this report, little as we may understand it.

GOD'S VICTORY (vv. 36-45)

Finally, God brought about a decisive action that Egypt could no longer resist, for He destroyed all the firstborn of Egypt while Israel was protected by the blood of sacrifice on the doorposts and lintels of their homes (v. 36). Thus, Egypt was ready to expel Israel from their coasts. But it was God who brought them out, having before instructed Moses to tell the people to ask "from the Egyptians articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing" (Ex. 12:35). There is no doubt they were entitled to this, for they had worked as slaves for many years, and the Egyptians made no objection to providing these things for them (v. 37).

In fact, "Egypt was glad when they departed" (v. 38), for God put His fear into their hearts. It is not mentioned here that Pharaoh changed his mind after they left and attempted to recapture them. But this foolish attempt ended in humiliating failure, he and his army being drowned in the Red Sea.

An equally miraculous provision of God was manifest in a pillar of cloud leading Israel by day, and a pillar of fire by night (v. 39), which is symbolical of the leading hand of God by His Spirit for believers today. Israel did not depend on their own knowledge of the terrain they had to pass, but simply followed God's direction. The believer does not need to know in advance where he should travel, but rather may depend fully on the guidance of the Holy Spirit, however little he may understand it.

God provided them with food also. Quail are mentioned, another miraculous provision, and also bread from heaven (v. 40), the manna, which did not fail them through all their wilderness journey. As to water, a great necessity, God opened the rock, out of which abundant waters flowed, like a river. We should expect that Israel would be so amazed at all these miracles of mercy that they would never again complain, though, sad to say, they soon forgot the wonder of all these interventions of God, not responding as they should.

But Israel's poor response did not in any way affect God's promised Word. He remembered this, as He remembered Abraham His servant. Therefore He brought out the people with joy (v. 42), His own joy being reflected in some measure in their joy, which was real in spite of being marred by their limited obedience.

"He gave them the lands of the Gentiles" (v. 44), for He had recorded long before that those lands were to be Israel's, and the Gentiles were therefore only usurpers. Even today the Gentiles still fight with the intention of regaining Israel's land, but their efforts will fail. We are told too "they inherited the labor of the nations." for they benefited by the improvements that Gentiles had made in the land. It was no use for the Gentiles to resent this, for God was in control of all these matters.

But one vital object of God's kindness to Israel was "that they might observe His statutes and keep His laws (v. 45). Just so, God's grace to us today has the object of encouraging our devoted obedience, though we fail just as sadly as Israel did. Nevertheless the psalm ends, "Praise the Lord!

Psalm 106

GOD'S JUST AND PATIENT DISCIPLINE

The patience of God's dealing with Israel's constantly recurring disobedience is wonderfully shown in this chapter, a patience that continued through all Israel's past history and continues still after so many centuries, for He works constantly now behind the scenes, dealing with them in discipline, but rather than bowing under His hand, they stubbornly pursue their own willful course, If only they would read this psalm, we should think they might honestly turn back to Him, but they will not do this until they experience the horrors of the Great Tribulation.

THE LORD, THE ONLY SOURCE OF GOOD (vv. 1-5)

Well may the psalmist praise the Lord, and encourage others to give thanks to Him for His goodness. "For His mercy endures forever" (v. 1). As we see in this entire history, His mercy endured through all of it, and has since endured unchangeably, as will be so fully demonstrated when Christ will be revealed to "turn away ungodliness from Israel."

It is a pertinent question, "Who can utter the mighty acts of the Lord? Who can declare all His praise?" (v. 2) Only the Word of God can possibly fulfill such a request, but that fact should certainly impress itself deeply on every human heart. Only this work of grace in hearts can possibly produce the results of verse 3, which will be true when Israel is restored to God. Then they will have learned to keep justice and act in righteousness consistently.

Thus, verse 4 quotes the language of those redeemed saints of God, "Remember me, O Lord, with the favor You have toward Your people." This favor is otherwise known as "grace," a contrast to Israel's obligations under law, for it is God's acting entirely on His own in goodness toward Israel. it is added, "0 visit me with your salvation," a fact that will be fully true when Israel is at last broken down in repentance when seeing the Lord Jesus, therefore released from their bondage to sin after centuries of slavery.

What a sight it will be to witness the great benefit to the elect of Israel at that time in contrast to their former misery! Every individual will rejoice in the gladness of the nation — God's nation, finding pure delight together with His inheritance, that is, the many whom Christ has inherited at that time. Today believers rejoice in "the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints" (Eph. 1:10), though this inheritance is on a higher level than that of restored Israel.

THEIR SIN REQUIRING HIS SALVATION (vv. 6-12)

But now the psalmist confesses what has kept them so long from the great blessing God had reserved for them: "We have sinned with our fathers" (v. 6). Yes, their fathers had sinned, but their sons were no better. Notice, there is no palliating of sin here, and no excuse. Rather, he speaks of it as "iniquity," and wickedness, certainly not "sins of ignorance," but deliberate rebellion. Even in Egypt, where the Lord worked miracles for them in causing the Egyptians to suffer to the point of thrusting Israel out of the country, it is saddening to see that their fathers did not understand God's wonders, and not only failed in appreciating them, but rebelled even by the sea, as God was leading them out (v. 7).

In spite of this, God saved them for the sake of the glory of HIs name, by His great power opening a way through the sea (vv. 8-9), leading the host of Israel through on dry land. Thus He saved them from the bondage of Egypt. How deeply and vitally ought all the people to be impressed in such a way as to never forget' it! Thus they were saved from the hand of their enemies (v. 10), who were swallowed up by the waters that returned when Israel had crossed over, not one enemy remaining (v. 11). Believing God then, they sang His praise (Ex. 15).

GOD SANCTIFIED WHEN ISRAEL FAILED (vv. 13-33)

But the song was soon replaced by selfish complaining. Forgetting the marvelous works of God, Israel ignored their need of having the counsel of God (v. 13), giving way rather to selfish lusts, and that "exceedingly." Rather than simply in faith asking God for food, they bitterly blamed God for not giving it to them. What did God do then? "He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul" (v. 15). For when they got what they wanted, they showed no thankful spirit for it; and if we lack this spirit of thankfulness, our soul's condition is lean indeed!

That leanness became more aggravated too when their envy of Moses and Aaron surfaced in the rebellion of Korah, Dathan and Abiram (vv. 16-17). This is recorded in Numbers 16. Korah, Dathan and Abiram were suddenly swallowed up by the earth, and 250 of their followers were consumed by fire (v. 18).

Verse 19 does not follow a chronological order, but rather a moral order, for it was much earlier that Israel made a golden calf in Horeb, worshiping this man-made image (Ex. 32:1-6). Thus, they challenged God's glory and changed their own glory — for they were human beings, not animals, but they foolishly reduced themselves to the level of animals, which is true of animal worshipers (v. 20).

"They forgot God their Savior" in spite of the great things He had done for them, — wondrous works, awesome things (vv. 21-22). On this account, in speaking to Moses, God threatened to destroy Israel, but Moses stood in the breach, interceding for Israel, as a very striking type of Christ, the "one Mediator between God and men."

Since forgetting God, it only follows that they would despise the pleasant land, just as today, if we do not give the Lord Jesus His place of absolute authority, we shall think lightly of the marvelous inheritance He has communicated to us — in our case a heavenly inheritance. Verses 4-25 evidently refer to Israel's complaining and refusing to enter Canaan after receiving the report of the 12 spies (Num. 14:1-14).

The result of this was that nearly all of those who had come out of Egypt were overthrown in the wilderness, not being allowed to enter the land (vv. 26-27). This was another dreadfully serious disciplinary action of God, yet, though lasting for many years, it did not change His great love for Israel and his counsels for their eventual blessing.

Another matter that called for rigid discipline is noted in verse 28, the question of evil associations, recorded in Numbers 25:1-3. If we despise what God has provided for us, we shall easily be enticed to fall under the influence of unbelievers and their false gods. Again God sent messengers of death and discipline to the guilty nation, and 24,000 died in the plague. This too was arrested by a mediator, Phineas, who acted with firm decision for the Lord in killing both an Israelite and a woman of Midian, when they boldly came together into the camp of Israel (Num 25:6-8). This earned God's clear approval of Phineas, whose action stopped the plague in Israel (vv. 30-31).

"They angered Him also at the waters of strife" (v. 32). On that occasion Moses was angry too (Num. 20:10-12), but he did not restrain his anger sufficiently to carefully obey the Word of the Lord, and Moses was told therefore that he could not enter the land of Canaan. Of course Israel was to blame for this just as much as Moses was. It was their rebellion that moved Moses to speak rashly (v. 33).

FAILURE IN THE LAND (vv. 34-39)

In the land the history of Israel continued in the same disobedient way, where we are told first that which is negative. God sent them in with orders to destroy the inhabitants (v. 34). Why was this? Because the iniquity of the Amorites had become full: they were given up fully to gross idol worship, and only their destruction could satisfy God. People would protest, "But what of the children who are not responsible for this evil? The answer is simple. If the children died under the age of responsibility, they would be infinitely better off in being taken to heaven, rather than being left to learn the ways of idolatry, with its resulting eternal judgment.

But Israel foolishly allowed the wicked nations to remain in the land (at least in many cases), with the result that the Jews themselves mingled with these ungodly Gentiles, learned their works and served their idols (vv. 35-36). If we tolerate wickedness, it will not be long until we embrace it; and thus eventually Israelites went so far as to sacrifice their sons and daughters to demons (v. 37). For our foolish actions will very quickly appeal to our children, and their blood will be on their fathers' hands. In many cases they were guilty of literally shedding the blood of their children, justifying themselves by claiming that they were offering sacrifices to God, while actually they were sacrificing to demons. So the land was polluted with blood (v. 38), and they defiled themselves by their own wicked works, playing the harlot by their own deeds, — that is, perverting the blessings God had given them, to serve their selfish lusts.

JUST RECOMPENSE (vv. 40-46)

In perfect justice the wrath of God was therefore kindled against His people. They had so polluted His inheritance that He was caused to abhor it. He gave them into the hands of Gentiles whom they considered worse than themselves (v. 41). The book of Judges records many cases of their being subjugated by nations who hated them, which would not have been the case if they had been obedient to God. The Lord was as much as saying, "Very well: if you refuse to obey Me, then you will be compelled by Gentile nations to obey them." Which would be preferable to them? For of course their enemies oppressed them and enforced their subjection (v. 41).

Marvelously, when they were brought low by these enemies, this moved them to cry out to the Lord, and the Lord heard their cry and delivered them. This occurred many times because God remembered His covenant (with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), and acted toward them in great kindness, "according to the multitude of His mercies" (v. 45). In fact, besides the many occasions of delivering them, He worked in the hearts of their captors to move them to pity Israel (v. 46).

PRAYER FOR GOD'S VICTORY (v. 47)

God's salvation will be complete for His people Israel, for He will fulfill the prayer of this verse, and gather them back from their dispersion among the Gentiles. He will gain the triumph on their behalf, to cause lasting thanks and praise to His holy name.

ETERNAL ADORATION (v. 48)

"Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting: and let all the people say Amen." Eternity will ring with the resounding theme, 'Praise the Lord'

This brings to a conclusion the 4th section of the Book of Psalms, in which the hand of God has been seen dealing with a failing and disobedient people, showing that in spite of their constant failure, His great mercy endures forever. The fifth and last section, we shall find to be much longer that any of the others, and it will surely serve to add to the many reasons for our constant and eternal adoration of the living God, as revealed in the person of His beloved Son.

Psalms 107-150 (Fifth Book)

A MAGNIFICENT SUMMARY

Here we reach the fifth and final section of the Psalms, which, like the Book of Deuteronomy, is a beautiful summing up of all that has gone before. It celebrates the unvarying goodness of the Lord under many and various circumstances, bringing about a sweet harmony of blessing that appeals to all the wise in heart (See Psalm 107:43)

Psalm 107

HARMONIOUS CONSTANCY

Many and various conditions of need are addressed in this chapter, declaring the distress of mankind from many viewpoints and the marvel of God's intervening grace to meet the need and more than meet the need, for "He sets the poor on high, far from affliction" (v. 41).

ISRAEL AT LAST IN UNITY (vv. 1-9)

Well might the godly be urged to give thanks to the Lord for His great goodness, as Israel will certainly do when gathered back to their land in peace. "For His mercy endures forever" (v. 1), mercy that has not failed them through all the centuries of Israel's failure. Such goodness is more than amazing. This indeed will fill the lips with glad response, of all those "redeemed of the Lord," for then will they have been redeemed from every enemy and gathered out of the many lands in which they were scattered for centuries, — from the east, west, north and south" (vv. 2-3)

In these verses they are seen as wanderers, solitary and depressed, having no settled dwelling, lacking the fellowship for which man was first designed (v. 4). Lacking food and drink, that is, the spiritual nourishment which all mankind requires, faint and ready to die (v. 5). Finally, the depth of their distress moves them to cry out to the Lord. Nor was this in vain: "He delivered them out of their distresses" (v, 6). And He exchanged their solitary or desolate way for "the right way." We may interpret this for our own good by remembering that the Lord Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6). if Christ is our Object, we are in the right way. This leads also to a proper end in view, — "a city for a dwelling place" (v. 7). the right way always leads to the right end.

This moves the heart of the psalmist to exclaim, "Oh that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!" And he comes right down to the individual in this matter, "For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness."

PRISONERS DELIVERED (vv. 10-16)

This is another character in which we see Israel depicted, for after being brought to the promised land, it was not long before they were captured and imprisoned by enemies. Thus, sin makes us, not only lonely, but actual slaves of our own guilty actions. We sit in darkness and the shadow of death, "bound in affliction and irons" (v. 10). Who is to blame for this? Not merely the enemies, but our own sinfulness, "because they rebelled against the words of God, and despised the counsel of the Most High" (v. 11). Thus, God Himself brought them down to depths of despair with no hope of help from anyone.

Again, in this case, when they finally cried out to the Lord in the midst of their trouble, "He saved them out of their distresses" (v. 13), lifting them out of the darkness and from the threatenings of death, and breaking their chains of bondage. Well might the words of verse 8 be repeated now in verse 15, "Oh that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!" For believers now it is also true that God has broken the gates of bronze and cut the bars of iron in two. What we found impossible to do to release ourselves, God has done by His matchless grace in Christ Jesus, the Great Deliverer.

ATHEISTS RECOVERED (vv. 17-22)

This section considers another serious involvement in which Israel had sunk. They had become a foolish nation. Fools are those who leave God out of their lives, such as in Psalm 14:1 and in Luke 12:16-20. Psalm 14 shows the result of this refusal of God: "they are corrupt, they have done abominable works." Because of their folly, God sees to it that they are afflicted. Because of their refusal of the food of God, they soon abhor all manner of food (v. 18), and they draw near to the gates of death. How many atheists, when reduced to such a condition with death staring them in the face, are shaken to the depths of their souls! If this drives them to cry out to the Lord in genuine concern, then certainly God will graciously save them out of their distresses (v. 19), but it is important that His Word is the means of healing them (v. 20), for if men refuse the Word of God, they are left in their misery. But the remnant of Israel is contemplated here, who will be fully delivered from their destructions.

Again, it is pleaded with very real reason, "Oh that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!" (v. 21). After being sunk in the folly of atheism, Israel will surely most gladly "sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare the works of the Lord in subdued thanksgiving, with hearts overflowing with joy in adoration of their Lord v. 22).

SEAFARERS (vv. 23-32)

Another striking characteristic of Israel is seen now, that of those "who do business in great waters." Israel has for centuries been scattered among the nations (the great waters), and show themselves as traders seeking their own gain. Have they found the nations to be friendly? Far from it! Rather, the Lord has pursued them, and at His command the strong wind rises on the waters (v. 25). Even dispersed among the Gentiles, they have not found rest for the sole of their foot. What monetary gain they may make is only at the expense of their peaceful existence. The waves of the sea (Gentile opposition) mount up to heaven, then go down to the depths, their constant turmoil causing their souls to melt (v. 26). Reeling to and fro and staggering like a drunken man, they finally come to their wits' end (v. 27).

At last, crying out to the Lord, they find the Lord infinitely gracious in bringing them out of their distresses (v. 28). He calms the storm, which speaks of His eventually subduing the surging turmoil of the nations (v. 29), which will be at the end of the Great Tribulation. At long last Israel will be quiet from fear of evil, and their gladness will be overflowing. Thus, God brings them to their desired haven, the most welcome peace of the millennium.

Verse 31 is therefore a repetition of verses 8, 15, and 21. What reason indeed they have for profound thanksgiving to the Lord! In fact, in verse 32 all the assembly or congregation of the people is to be involved in the praise and exaltation of the Great Deliverer!

GOD'S GOVERNMENT IN GENERAL (vv. 33-43)

This section goes back now to recount the ways of the Lord in governing and disciplining His people, and in His marvelous grace lifting them up in great blessing. Even in a very fruitful land He is able to turn rivers into a wilderness and water springs into dry ground, and by this means may turn man's confidence in his prosperity into desolation and misery (v. 33). Why? Only because of man's wickedness. On the other hand, He also, in His own time, and for His own glory, turns a wilderness into pools of water and dry land into water springs (v. 35). If people have felt the pain of being greatly deprived, sufficiently to make them cry to God, He accomplishes such ends in His matchless grace. Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness thereby find the peace of a settled dwelling place, an established city. This will be so for Israel literally on earth, but how much more wonderful for the Church of God, then brought to glory to inhabit the "New Jerusalem."

Verses 37-38 indicate the quiet prosperity of Israel when settled in the millennium. Fields and vineyards will yield a fruitful harvest, and the people will multiply greatly, and with no decrease in their livestock. Of course this will not be literally the case with the inhabitants of heaven, but it is symbolical of the perfection of blessing to be enjoyed there, — blessing that is beyond the realm of our present understanding.

Again, in verses 39-43 the message of the psalm is summed up, going back to speak of Israel being diminished and brought low through oppression, affliction and sorrow, the result of their sad disobedience to God. Even princes become the object of His contempt, being reduced to the level of wanderers without direction (v. 40). Yet, where there is the faith that calls on God, the poor, in contrast to princes, are set on high, leaving affliction behind. Their families are made like a flock, united and protected by Shepherd care (v. 41). the righteous see this and rejoice, and the protests of iniquity are silenced.

Well might the psalm close with the salutary observation, "Whoever is wise will observe these things, and they will understand the lovingkindness of the Lord" (v. 43). How sad it is that there are so few who show this refreshing character of wisdom! But at least some do.

Psalm 108

SALVATION BROUGHT TO ISRAEL

Various writers have observed that the first part of this psalm (vv. 1-11) is identical with the end of Psalm 57 (vv. 7-11); and verses 7-13 repeats the end of Psalm 60 (vv. 6-12). Of course, there is a wise reason for this, whether we understand it or not. It does celebrate the salvation of Israel at the end of the great tribulation, and their entry into the thousand years of peace.

ISRAEL THE FIRSTFRUITS (vv. 1-4)

It will be fully true of Israel in that coming day that their heart will be "fixed" no longer vacillating and undependable, but fixed on Christ, the nation being the first fruits of the earth, that is, preceding the Gentiles in her lasting blessing. The spiritual blessing that this pictures is of course even more deeply precious to believers today, the musical instruments typifying the deeper joy of hearts responding to the great grace of God. "Among the peoples" (v. 3) indicates that Gentiles will be drawn to share some measure of blessing with Israel. This is not so in the Church of God today, for the path of the Church is one of separation from the nations, who do not recognize our Lord as Lord of all, But at the time of Israel's restoration we shall greatly rejoice from our heavenly Home, because of the grace of God having so changed both Israel and the nations.

PRAYER FOR DELIVERANCE (vv. 5-6)

But if the end is already seen in the first section, now we go back to be reminded of the way to the end. The psalmist gives God His place of supreme exaltation, then uses this as a basis to seek the deliverance of God's beloved ones. When people take such a place of submission before God, there is no doubt of the swiftness of the answer. How is it possible that one who is rightly called "Your beloved" could have his prayer ignored? "Save with Your right hand, and hear me" (v. 6).

THE LAND POSSESSED (vv. 7-9)

The answer to the prayer of verse 6 is now given in the words taken from another psalm — Psalm 60:6-12. It is the wisdom of God that orders this. He has spoken in His holiness — holiness that distinguishes things as we might not, but in perfection of wisdom. First of all, He Himself will rejoice, then He mentions two places in the land, — Shechem and Succoth, the first on the west side of Jordan, the second on the east. While we might not think them to be suitable representatives, yet God does, thereby implying that all the land is involved in His designing it for the blessing of all the nations.

Shechem means "shoulder," assuring us of the fact that in the millennium Israel will rightly bow their shoulder to the yoke of the Lord Jesus (v. 6). This submission as accompanied by Succoth, which means "booths". reminding us of the feast of booths, when Israel was to dwell in booths as a picture of their being so blessed in the millennium that they will need no protection from either weather or predators.

Gilead means "a heap of witness," while Manasseh means "forgetting" (v. 7), which two seem contrary to one another, for a witness is intended not to forget (v. 8). But we may well rightly forget what is behind in order to press forward (Phil. 3:13-14); but at the same time, we have clear witness to the fact that the coming of the Lord is near, and this we are not to forget. Then Ephraim follows, meaning "fruitfulness," an appropriate result of forgetting and remembering in this case. As a helmet for the head, it is both a crowning virtue and a protection for the mind. Judah is owned as God's lawgiver, for his name means "praise," indicating that the spirit of praise is a basis of true obedience to law, — not the bondage of the law of Moses.

Moab means "what father?" and stands for the easy-going sensual religion that is most questionable as to its reliability and becomes merely a "washpot" for washing away what is not of God. Edom is the same name as Adam, speaking of mere fleshly religion and only worth being trampled underfoot by God's shoe. Philistia means "wallowing," speaking of the same character as the sow that was washed returning to wallowing in the mire (2 Peter 2:22) — therefore a mere professor of Christianity with no reality.

THOUGH WEAK, TRUSTING GOD (vv. 10-13)

Who will bring me into the strong city? Who will lead me to Edom?" (v. 10).

It would seem that 'the strong city" naturally suggests Jerusalem, though Edom is mentioned in the same verse. Edom was not a city, but a country. But the psalmist depends on God to lead him there. This surely can be only to vanquish Edom, that is, to put the flesh in subjection. For with ourselves, our worst enemy is the flesh, that is, ourselves, and only the living God can defeat it when we face it honestly and depend on His pure grace (v.11). In the past, because of our own sin, God did not "go out with our armies," and they had found the help of man to be useless. But they have confidence that God will now tread down their enemies (v. 13).

Psalm 109

THE UNGODLY CAUSING THEIR OWN MISERY

This psalm stands out, even among the imprecatory psalms, as calling for the most severe judgment of the ungodly, showing the reason for this judgment as being the reaping of what they have haughtily and foolishly sown, — practically digging their own graves.

A RIGHTEOUS BASIS OF APPEAL (vv. 1-5)

Because God is righteous, He will always recognize the appeal made to Him by those who practice righteousness. Indeed, we may well discern the words in this section as coming from the lips of the Lord Jesus, as well as from His servants who suffer for His sake. The appeal is that God would not be silent, but open His mouth to answer the deceitful mouth of the wicked, who have falsely accused the righteous without cause (vv. 2-3). In fact, the case was more serious than this, for their hatred was in return for actual love shown to them. What can the righteous do but give themselves to prayer? (v. 4). We certainly cannot but marvel at the history of the Lord Jesus on earth, in His showing genuine love toward everyone, and receiving hatred in return (v. 5).

A CALL FOR RECOMPENSE (vv. 6-15)

Though God in mercy has delayed judgment, yet it must come, and verse 6 will be fully answered, "Set a wicked man over him, and let an accuser stand at his right hand." This accuser may be rightly translated "Satan," for the ungodly, having rejected the Lord Jesus, have actually chosen His adversary as their advocate, who they will find after all to be their accuser! How foolish is the pride of unbelief! Under judgment he will be found guilty, and whatever prayer he has ever made will become sin (v. 7).

As regards the wicked, the psalmist pleads, "Let his days be few." And they will be few indeed, though he may live on earth a hundred years. For what is this compared to eternity? "And let another take his office." Peter quotes this in Acts 1:20 as applied to Judas, when Matthias was chosen to take his place as one of the apostles. Judas is elsewhere seen to be compared to the coming antichrist, and the psalm may well be applied to this champion of wickedness, though the New Testament does not tell us if antichrist will have a wife or children, as verse 9 and 10 of this psalm indicate of the wicked man. Yet it may be that this psalm is the answer to that question.

However, after the antichrist is taken and thrown into the lake of fire, it would seem that there would be little time for his children to be vagabonds and beggars v. 10), for the introduction of the millennium evidently takes place soon after this, and during the thousand years of peace, we can hardly think of beggars being active. It is likely, however, that the psalm includes many others besides the 41* antichrist, so that the statements here may be of a general character, thus the call for judgment is not to be confined to one man in particular.

Because the wicked are here seen as continuing in the evil way of their father, they are identified with the evil for which their fathers are judged (v. 14). Wicked motives are responsible, which we see in the case of Jezebel and of Athaliah (9:30-35; and 2 Kings 11:13-16). Thus, the prayer of verse 15 is answered, "that He may cut off the memory of them from the earth.

THE MORAL REASON (vv. 16-20)

The moral reason, such as is seen in both Jezebel and Athaliah, is now noted clearly. The antichrist will be such a character as they, with no heart or showing mercy, but a determination to persecute the poor and needy, with willingness to even murder those who have genuinely broken hearts before God. Such people love to curse others, but are totally dense as to realizing that the curse might recoil on their own heads (v. 17). But so it will be, and blessing will be as Am far from him as it is from his own lips. Cursing is the cold criticism of others with no heart for their blessing in any way, and with this character the wicked clothe themselves (v. 18). Since this is what he chooses, then let it saturate his whole being, leaving him actually a useless entity, yet not only useless, but repulsive (v. 19), girded continually with the curse he loves.

Verse 20 clearly indicates that it is Christ who says, "Let this be the Lord's, reward to my accusers, and those who speak evil against my person."

POOR AND NEEDY (vv. 21-25)

The ground of the psalmist's appeal for mercy from God is that he is poor and needy, therefore totally dependent on God's mercy (v. 22). His heart is wounded, he feels like merely a shadow, though lengthening, yet come and gone (v. 23). His knees become weak, his flesh feeble, while his enemies consider him a reproach, and shake their heads. All this is of course deeply felt, and there is only One to whom he can turn.

BE THOU WITH ME (vv. 26-31)

Having a large number against him, he actually needs only One with him, thus he seeks help and salvation from the Lord his God (v. 26). This is not only for his own relief, but that the enemies may know that God Himself has intervened (v. 27). "Let them curse." he says, "but You bless." When they arise, it will be for their own shame in the end, but the servant of the Lord will rejoice (v. 28). It will be perfectly true that the accuser of the godly will be eventually "clothed with shame," their own actions leading to their covering themselves with disgrace (v. 29).

The man of faith, in contrast, will greatly praise the Lord, and with a multitude of others, for his loneliness of exercise will be tremendously changed, to find in the end great numbers to join him. For God will stand at the right hand of the poor to save him from those who condemn him (v. 31).

Psalm 110

CONFIRMED AS KING AND PRIEST

If there has been deep exercise of sorrow and distress in Psalm 109, the answer to this is now beautifully seen in the exaltation of the Lord Jesus to His rightful place of majesty as King, and also to His position of great grace as God's High Priest

GOD'S APPOINTED KING (vv. 1-3)

Though indeed Christ is King, yet in these verses He is not yet seen as reigning, but sitting at God's right hand waiting for the time when God will make His enemies His footstool (v. 1). This embraces all the time from His resurrection and ascension, through all the present age of grace, until the end of the great tribulation. So that He is not on His own throne, but on the throne of His Father (Rev. 3:21). Therefore, at the present time His is ruling in the midst of His enemies. His enemies are still allowed to live, but in the midst of them He is still ruling, that is, overruling all their opposition (v. 2).

Yet the day of His power is coming, and then His people will show themselves willing to be subject (v. 3). Then too "the beauties of holiness" will be manifest — "from the womb of the morning," that is, the dawning of the day of millennial glory, when Christ will be revealed in the dew of His youth, that is, the freshness of the power of the Spirit of God, as fresh and powerful as His earliest days. Thus He will be established as King.

A PRIEST FOREVER (v. 4)

But Israel will require a King who is also Priest, and a priest of Aaron's line would be totally unacceptable, for all in that line ended in death. Therefore, God has not only declared, but sworn that Christ is "a Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek." Hebrews 7 furnishes a striking commentary on this Melchizedek priesthood of Christ. Melchizedek was both a king and a priest (Gen. 14:18), as was never the case with priests of the line of Aaron, nor were any kings of Israel allowed to be priests. This honor was reserved for the Lord Jesus, and that, not before His death, but after His resurrection, thus never to be ended.

FUTURE MANIFESTATION (vv. 5-7)

Though it is true that Christ has already been declared, at His resurrection, as priest according to the order of Melchizedek, He still awaits the day of manifestation before the whole world. The Lord is at His right hand, and in the day of His wrath He will execute kings (v. 5), so that not one will be left to challenge the kingly authority of the Lord Jesus. It is still future, but there is no doubt as to its eventual establishment. "He shall judge among the nations" (v. 6), and leave many dead bodies, with the heads of many countries being executed. In all of this the record appears to show that it is God who is specially in command, in pure righteousness honoring His Son by exalting Him above all the nations.

The figure of His drinking of the brook indicates the source of His refreshment (v. 7). It speaks of the Word of God (the water) being energized by the Spirit of God (for it is flowing), thus refreshed and strengthened, He may well lift up His head in triumph over every enemy.

Psalm 111

THE LORD KNOWN

This psalm and the two following begin with the words, "Praise the Lord," for they signify the dawning of the millennial day, when the works of the Lord will be so manifest that they will fill hearts with praise.

THE WHOLE HEART (vv. 1-2)

Of course, it ought to be true today that believers should thank God with their whole heart, but this is generally feeble at best, and will be more full in the day of His glory, when the whole earth will bask under the sunshine of His love. Both in private and in the assembly of the upright the praise will be more full than ever before (v. 1). For the greatness of His works then will impress themselves deeply on the hearts of those who find delight in them. It may not be that all will find the same delight in God's works, but they will have no excuse if it is not so (v. 2).

HIS TWOFOLD CHARACTER (vv. 3-4)

Now His work is seen to be honorable, glorious and righteous (v. 3), for the perfection of His truth cannot be in any way compromised in order to show His goodness, but His grace and compassion are all the more beautifully seen when pure righteousness is given its proper place (v. 4). Thus, His wonderful works of grace will be remembered throughout the millennium.

THE HERITAGE ASSURED (vv. 4-5)

Verse 5 is more correctly translated, "He has given the prey to those who fear Him" (Numerical Bible), for this speaks of the results of the conquests of their enemies. By virtue of God's covenant, they are conquerors. Thus the Lord declares to His people the power of His works. We have seen His glory and majesty in His works (vv. 2-3), and His grace in those works in verse 4; now His power is added to this, and by this power He gives His people the heritage of the nations (v. 6).

PROVEN BY TESTING (vv. 7-8)

Truth and judgment are now added as regards the works of God (v. 7). Where truth is acted on, is there any possibility of failure? No indeed! The certainty of what God does has been proven by testing: all His appointments are sure, and therefore standing fast forever, — maintained in truth and uprightness (v. 8).

GOD'S GRACE: MAN'S RESPONSE (vv. 9-10)

Thus, the manifestation of God to His people is complete. They have been fully redeemed: His covenant with them stands firm forever (v. 9). Well indeed might it be said, "Holy and reverend (or awesome) is His name." On His side therefore there is great majesty. On the side of believers (v. 10) there is lowly subjection and obedience, for the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and true understanding is the possession only of those who obey His commandments (v. 10). This is not the ten commandments of the law, but commandments that are not grievous (!John 5:3), such as are summed up in 1 John 3:23, "This is His commandment, that we should believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment." This attitude backs up the assertion, "His praise endures forever."

PSALM 112

PRAISE FOR THE BELIEVER'S SECURITY

The psalmist here praises the Lord that it is he Himself who sustains the believer in his permanent relation to Him, prospering him according to His own heart of goodness.

THE UPRIGHT (vv. 1-2)

The man who fears the Lord is truly happy: he delights greatly in His commandments, a contrast to the attitude of people under Moses' law, of which Peter says, "which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear" (Acts 15:10). For Israel then (in the millennium) will be under the New Covenant, which involves God's writing in their hearts His laws of kindness and truth. Then "his descendants will be mighty on earth" (v. 2), instead of degenerating into a state of self-will as they have under Moses' law. They are called "the upright" and as such will be blessed.

HIS TWOFOLD CHARACTER (vv. 3-4)

In Psalm 111 the twofold character of the Lord has been seen (vv. 3-4), now similarly such character is seen in the man who fears the Lord. Wealth and riches shall be in his house because of his righteous character which is as light arising in darkness (v. 4). In the present day of grace, we are not promised wealth and riches (except spiritually), but the godly are promised this in the millennium.

PRESERVED (vv. 5-6)

"A good man deals graciously and lends." He does not tenaciously hold on to what is his, without concern for the needs of others (v. 5), but guides his affairs with discretion. his giving is not indiscriminate, but considerate and wise. Because of such considerate character, he will not be shaken from his confidence, but will be in everlasting remembrance (v. 6)

UPHELD THOUGH FRAIL (vv. 7-8)

Though there may be evil reports against a godly man, and he recognizes his own frail vulnerability, he would not be afraid, for his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord. Why is his heart fixed? Because it is established in faith. Though he feels his frailty, yet he will not be afraid, for the cruelty of enemies will be fully defeated by God's intervention.

GOD'S GOVERNMENT (vv. 9-10)

But not only do we see the negative side, that is, that the godly will not be overtaken by fear. Rather, the positive goodness of their character is emphasized in verse 9, that is, scattering wealth to many others, the poor in particular. God is thus over the godly in approval, and over the ungodly in disapproval. The righteousness of the godly endures forever: his horn (his bestowed power) shall be exalted with honor (v. 9). On the other hand, the wicked in witnessing that honor, are vexed, and in rebellious rage gnash their teeth, as the ungodly in the lake of fire will do. All they have desired perishes!

Psalm 113

THE GLORY OF HIS NAME

Though in the last section of this psalm God is seen in His great kindness to those in need, the emphasis here is more directly on the glory of His name, of which the last section is simply a result.

HIS NAME ONE (vv. 1-3)

The mention of the name of the Lord is enough to bow the heart of His every servant in lowly praise and adoration. In each of these three verses His name is mentioned, for His name is the expression of His nature. The Lord Jesus in His prayer of John 17 speaks beautifully in saying, "I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given me out of the world" (v. 6), Every detail of His life manifested God's name. Also He says, "I have declared to them Your name" (v. 26). Thus, both His words and His character bore witness to the glory of God's name.

"From the rising of the sun to its going down" no doubt refers to the millennial age, when Christ the Sun of righteousness will arise (Mal. 4:2), to bless that whole dispensation with the goodness of His presence. That age will come to an end, but will give place to something even better, for the Lord's name will certainly be praised for eternity.

HUMBLING HIMSELF (vv. 4-6)

The greatness of God's humbling Himself is here insisted on. Who is the One who humbled himself? The One who is high above all others, His glory above the heavens (v. 4). Who could possibly be like Him? (v. 5). Even to consider created things, whether in the heavens or on earth, requires Him to humble Himself (v. 6). How much farther than this the New Testament goes, in declaring that the Lord Jesus, being in the form of God, came down to become a Servant, being found in fashion as a Man (Phil. 2:5-8). This required humbling of Himself. Then, as Man He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, not an ordinary, death, but the death of the cross.

TO EXALT AND HONOR OTHERS (vv. 7-9)

He has humbled Himself that others might be exalted, and these the lowliest of people, the poor raised from the dust and the needy from the ash heap, a burned-out existence. And these He has seated with princes (v. 8). Marvelous grace! This will be specially known in the great blessing Israel will experience in the millennium. The barren woman will find a home, that is, Israel, having become barren and desolate through her years of disobedience, will be restored to a settled place of dwelling, "like a joyful mother of children." Well might the Lord be praised!

Psalm 114

DIVINE POWER

Psalm 114 is an unusual psalm which dwells only briefly on Israel's exodus from Egypt, specially emphasizing the passage of the Red Sea and of the Jordan.

GOD KNOWN BUT NOT NAMED (vv. 1-4)

Israel went out of Egypt, after centuries of bondage to a people of strange language, that is, Egypt was not its proper dwelling, and he must be separated from that association. But in their being separated from Egypt, they found association with the living God. Though God's name is not mentioned in this section„ yet "Judah became His sanctuary and Israel His dominion" (v. 2), that is, Judah (meaning "praise" became the dwelling of God. Only when we separate from the world (Egypt) can we be blessed in having God dwell with us, and He dwells amid the praises of His people. Israel (meaning a prince with God") thus became the sphere of His dominion, just as the Church today is the sphere of His special authority.

The passage of the Red Sea and Jordan are referred to in verse 3. These were obstacles that only the power of God could overcome, each speaking of death in a different way, but no problem to a God of resurrection. "The mountains skipped like rams, the little hills like lambs" (v. 4). The mountains signify higher authorities or governments and the little hills, of lesser authorities. These were so affected that they could offer no opposition to Israel's newfound liberty.

THE DELIVERER (vv. 5-8)

Now the question is raised as to why the Red Sea and the Jordan were so affected, and also the mountains (vv. 5-6). The answer is immediately given. The presence of the Lord intervened to cause the earth to tremble, and He is called "the Lord God of Jacob," taking the part of one totally undeserving, weak and dependent (v. 7). But the result here mentioned is not one of judgment, but of supplying refreshment for a weary people, the rock being turned into a pool of water, the flint into a fountain of waters. Such is His delivering grace.

Psalm 115

GOD ABOVE ALL

How rightly is the glory of God contrasted to the emptiness of idolatry! Men may mock at the very thought of one God, living and eternal, but it is much more correct to despise the idols that men embrace, as is clearly seen in this psalm.

GIVING THE LORD HIS PLACE

The psalmist completely disclaims any honor that may be given to Israel, expecting no flattery from the lips of One who is alone entitled to honor and glory. Yet Israel will be involved in the blessing resulting from God's being glorified. How? Because of His great mercy to them and because of His truth, for He has promised they would be greatly blessed, and they can depend on the truth of His Word (v. 1). We can understand why the Gentiles say, "So where is their God," after centuries of Israel's suffering because of disobedience (v. 2). They believe in one God. Then why does He not intervene for them in their affliction?

Verse 3 gives the simple answer, "Our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases." He is above the level of their trials, and if He pleases to delay an answer to their troubles, this is simply heavenly wisdom.

GENTILE IDOLS IN CONTRAST (vv. 4-8)

But Gentiles are foolish enough to consider that, because a God of heaven does not manifestly intervene to give them whatever blessing they want, therefore they manufacture gods of their own out of material that the God of heaven has created. They give them mouths, but what for? — because they do not speak; and eyes that are sightless. But it is just as well for them, since their idols cannot see what their worshipers are doing! Similarly, their deaf ears are preferable to having a god that can hear their evil words, — noses too that discern nothing, hands that can do nothing, feet unable to waLuke Who do such people think made them in the first place? — and made them capable of these various functions? But they foolishly degrade themselves to the level of their worthless idols — unable to use rightly the members of the body with which God has blessed them.

GOD A REFUGE (vv. 9-11)

What a contrast for the believer! Israel is bidden to simply trust in the Lord, who is both their help to sustain and their shield to protect (v. 9). While the nation generally is first addressed, then the priestly family, the house of Aaron, is singled out (v. 10). If they needed this urgent admonition, so do believers today, who are all priests. Because our faith becomes too weak, we require the stirring up of our souls to constantly trust the Lord for every step of the way. And it is added, "You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord," for even pure minds need to be stirred up by way of remembrance, to deeply consider that He is their help and their shield.

EXPERIENCE TEACHING (vv. 12-13)

The past experience of the Lord's being mindful of us is surely reason to affirm, "He will bless us," and again Israel is thus assured, and the house of Aaron, and all who fear the Lord, whether small or great. Thus all Gentile believers are included.

GOD WITH MAN (vv. 14-18)

Though we may apply these verses to believers in the present time, yet their fullest application is to be found in the millennium, when the Lord will certainly increase Israel more and more (v. 14), and as Creator of heaven and earth will bless them increasingly (v. 15).

While it has been true in all ages that the heavens are the Lord's, but the earth has He given to the children of men (badly as they have abused it), this again will be emphasized in the millennial age (v. 16). Men meanwhile have attempted to build into the heavens — though getting only as far as the moon, and then unable to establish any civilization on it. But the Lord will display His own greatness in having multitudes to share the blessings of heaven with Him, while the earth will be inhabited by a people redeemed by the blood of Christ and content to be blessed with material blessings while giving the Lord Jesus the honor due his name.

But the dead know nothing of such blessings, and as such they do not praise the Lord (v. 17). Those however who share in the resurrection of the just will have infinitely greater blessing in the presence of the Lord. But this psalm, in common with the Old Testament, does not consider this great subject: it must be left for the New Testament. Meanwhile, those who are blessed with earthly blessings, will praise the Lord "from this time forth and forevermore."

Psalm 116

ISRAEL RESTORED

This is different language than that to which Israel has been accustomed for centuries. What a change in their heart's condition is manifested in her words here, which are prophetic of this wonderful day of her restoration when she is brought to the knowledge of the Lord Jesus!

GOD THE CAUSE (vv. 1-2)

Though Israel does not love the Lord now, she will be changed indeed when eventually she is brought to the point of crying to Him in earnest supplication. Certainly, He will hear, for this is what He has desired to hear all through her history (v. 1). Since He has inclined His ear to her, she is now purposed to call on Him as long she lives (v. 2). This can only refer to her future restoration at the beginning of the millennium.

TRIBULATION AND DELIVERANCE ((vv. 3-6)

What is the reason for Israel's finally calling on the Lord? "The pains of death" faced her, "the pangs of sheol" were so threatening with their trouble and sorrow that this drove her from her previous indifference to realize there was no help in anyone but the Lord (v. 3). Then her imploring cries were not only for bodily deliverance, but for that of her soul (v. 4).

Of course, the Lord answered, for His very nature is gracious, righteous and merciful (v. 5), He preserves the simple, not the double-minded, but those who will face facts as they are. Being brought low, they acknowledge it, and may fully depend on the One who hears and answers prayer.

RETURNING ((vv. 7-9)

The deliverance brings a return to the place of rest once left for the sake of seeking empty vanity that has only occasioned distance and unrest. Well might they welcome such a return, for the Lord in delivering them has dealt bountifully with them (v. 7). How deeply will the godly be affected by the grace that has delivered their soul from death, taken away the tears from their eyes and kept their feet from falling (v. 8). This millennial blessing is in contrast to the present condition of the world as "the land of the dying." What a transformation this will be for the inhabitants of the world then! — for death will be unusual, only occurring in unusual circumstances.

UNPLEASANT EXPERIENCE (vv. 10-11)

"I believed, therefore I spoke." This is a proper order. Speaking ought to always come from faith. But it is added, "I am greatly afflicted," for considering the condition of things around us from the viewpoint of faith will surely cause the soul to be afflicted (v. 10). Connected with this too is verse 11, "I said in my alarm, All men are liars;" (a more accurate translation than "I said in my haste"). It was not haste at all, for faith was being exercised, and there is no doubt about the fact that all men are liars. Can anyone dare to say he has never lied? But such a consideration is alarming and certainly sufficient to alert us all to the need of being delivered from such guilt.

IN GOD'S PRESENCE (vv. 12-15)

When I face the truth concerning myself together with "all men," I shall find the Lord answering in pure grace, so that we know it is only right that we render some return to the Lord for all the great benefits with which He has supplied us (v. 12). But the answer is not in giving material presents to the Lord. Rather, it is in receiving from Him the cup of salvation and calling on His name (v. 13).

When the Lord Jesus was asked, "What shall we do that we may work the works of God," He answered, "This is the work of God that you believe in Him whom He has sent"(John 6:28-29). The best gift we can give to the Lord is our giving Him His place of supreme honor.

Verse 14 is clearly connected with this: "I will pay my vows to the Lord now in the presence of all His people." Such vows are not those of promising something material to God. The vows of the Lord Jesus are seen in His offering Himself as a sacrifice on behalf of sinners, and His vows were perfectly kept, as Israel's vows were not. But if the value of His sacrifice moves one to purpose to give Him His place of supreme honor, this will in its measure be counted as keeping a vow. "All His people" will witness the value of this.

It may seem strange that verse 15 is added here, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints," but it reminds us of the most precious of all deaths, that of the Lord Jesus, which should move every heart in adoration of Him. It is actually because of the value of His death that the death of every one of His saints is precious. This too adds its voice to the witness that the works of law are of no value as a present to God. the death of His saints is of deeper value to God than all their so-called good works.

GOD'S VICTORY (vv. 16-19)

Therefore, the godly remnant of Israel realizes her place of complete servitude to the Lord, not as under a legal commandment, but as having been totally loosed from bondage (v. 16), therefore free to serve in the liberty of love. Their sacrifice is therefore no longer of legal bondage, but of voluntary thanksgiving, as they call upon the name of the Lord.

Verse 18 is a repetition of verse 14, which we have seen had to do with, not a fleshly vow, but of the awakened sense of firm decision to give the Lord Jesus His place of absolute authority, of honor and dignity. For they are brought by grace into the courts of the Lord, in the midst of the holy city Jerusalem. There indeed praise continues to the Lord without cessation.

Psalm 117

THE WHOLE EARTH TO RESPOND

But if Israel is so greatly blessed in the coming millennial age, it will be no less true for Gentiles, and in this very short psalm it is to be evident that Gentiles will share in the privilege of worshiping the Lord, the Source of all their blessing. "For His merciful kindness is great toward us"(toward both Jews and Gentiles), and His truth endures forever, then realized as such by a changed world.

Psalm 118

THE LORD ETERNALLY FIRST

The psalmist in this case writes as representing the godly in Israel brought through the tribulation and blessed in the millennium, for though we have seen Gentiles blessed in Psalm 117, they are blessed through Israel, and we therefore return to witness the great blessing of Israel as the true representative of God in the coming day.

HIS PERPETUAL GOODNESS (vv. 1-7).

Though we have before witnessed throughout all the previous psalms the emphasis on the lovingkindness of the Lord, it is a subject that never grows old, and needs to be repeated over and over again because of the dullness of our minds and hearts. God is good and "His lovingkindness endures forever:" it knows no change for eternity. Why do we need to be told this? Because we have a natural propensity to complain, whatever our circumstances may be. The world around us finds it popular to protest almost everything that arises.

How many will say, with Israel, "His mercy endures forever"! Then the house of Aaron, the priestly family, is singled out as bidden to use the same language; and certainly, all who fear the Lord will echo such praise (v. 4).

The psalmist then speaks as representing the nation, "I called on the Lord in distress: the Lord answered me and set me in a broad place, that is, delivering him from the confinement that sin had occasioned, a confinement similar to that of prison. Thus, his bondage gives place to liberty, and he realizes the Lord is on his side (v. 6). Certainly, then he has no reason to fear, for man can do nothing to thwart the Lord's protection. If the Lord is for me (v. 7). along with others who give Him His place of honor, not only will enemies be helpless, but they will be totally subdued.

MEETING OPPOSITION (vv. 8-12)

If the opposition is strong, the Lord is stronger, and to trust in Him is far wiser than to put confidence in any man, including the most honorable (vv. 8-9). Verse 10 particularly refers to nations coming in the tribulation period, to surround Israel with the intention of obliterating them, but in simple confidence the godly will be able to say, "in the name of the Lord I will destroy them" (v. 11). Though like swarms of bees they threaten Israel unmercifully, yet their fiery animosity is only like a fire of thorns, quenched without difficulty. For the name of the Lord has no problem in quenching the violence of fire (v. 12).

A REFUGE IN GOD (vv. 13-19)

The violence of the enemy virtually drives the godly into the refuge of the Lord's presence, and this being so, there is reason for the believer to thank God for the oppression. Thus, the help of the Lord is learned in precious reality (v. 13). In fact, human weakness is virtually turned into strength, as Paul writes, "When I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Cor. 12:10). For the weakness that drives one into the Lord's presence becomes strength spiritually. "And He has become my salvation" (v. 14) The soul is lifted out of its bondage into the liberty of deliverance.

This liberty issues in "the voice of rejoicing and salvation," even when yet in tents, temporary dwellings (v. 15), for it is the virtual celebration of the valiant activity of the right hand of the Lord. In fact, scripture speaks of the right hand of the Lord as referring to Christ Himself, the executor of God's counsels. He is exalted, and certainly does valiantly (v. 16).

Verse 17 is particularly applicable to the godly remnant of Israel when entering the millennium. Many will have died during the great tribulation — in fact two-thirds of Israel "in all the land" (Zech. 13:8), but one-third will be brought through the fire, refined as silver, and to live on earth throughout the thousand years. They will indeed "live, and declare the works of the Lord" (v. 17). It will be true, however, that the Lord will have "chastened me severely," he says, for the tribulation will be a time of painful trial, but he will be preserved from dying (v. 18). For the introduction of the millennium will be the opening of the gates of righteousness, through which the godly remnant of Israel will pass, with the wonderful privilege of praising the Lord (v. 19).

TESTED ON EVERY HAND (vv. 20-26)

These gates are the property of the Lord, and it is He who welcomes the righteous in entering (v. 20). It is not that they have any righteousness of their own that gives them title to enter, but rather because God has answered them and has become their salvation. Apart from His salvation, they would have no title there whatever, but His salvation is perfect, and they may well praise Him (v. 21).

This immediately involves the blessed person of Christ, "the stone which the builders rejected." Centuries before, Israel had been building, but when the "chief cornerstone" was presented to them, they not only refused Him, but persecuted and crucified Him. Now, after centuries have passed, He will become the chief cornerstone (v. 22), the One in fact who introduces the glory of the millennium, so that He stands out above all others, the corner stone from which the whole building receives its character. Manifestly this is the Lord's doing, for it is far above what man would ever conceive (v. 23). Then verse 24 refers specifically to the millennium as "the day the Lord has made," a time for fullest rejoicing. Of course, people commonly use this verse as referring to any day they choose, for it is true enough the Lord has made every day, but the millennial day particularly fits the case here.

"Save now, I pray, O Lord; O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity" (v.25). This is a prayer that cannot but be fully answered, for the time will have come for it to be completely appropriate. And the One who comes in the name of the Lord (that is, Christ Jesus) will be both welcome and blessed (v. 26). For the

godly will have their place in the house of the Lord, and from there will affirm their welcoming blessing.

MAN WITH GOD (vv. 27-29)

Finally, the end is reached when man realizes that he needs only the living God as His support. "God is the Lord, and He has given us light." Indeed, "God ts light," so that the light is in Himself, not independent of Him. But how wonderful will be the light of His presence, after years of wandering in darkness! And the godly in Israel will never forget the blessedness of what is meant by binding the sacrifice to the altar, that is, the wonderful value of the sacrifice of Christ — His perfect work — based upon the altar, typical of the glory of his person. In the binding, the person and His work are bound together, a cause for unending praise and worship. In Christ they will have found the perfect answer to all their ages long aspirations, for they will say, "God is the Lord," and also„ addressing Christ, "You are my God, and I will praise You: You are my God, I will exalt You" (v. 28), After having rejected Him, at the time of His presentation to them as the lowly Man of sorrows, yet with every evidence that He is God, they will then realize that He is indeed the Son of the eternal God, in other words, God manifest in flesh, Well may their hearts overflow in thanksgiving: "Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever" (v. 29)

Psalm 119

GOD'S WORD THE BASIS OF ALL MILLENNIAL BLESSING

This longest of all psalms emphasizes that all the blessings of renewed Israel in the millennium are connected with their willing obedience to the Word of God, and the answer to all their trials is found in that same precious Word. Almost all the verses speak of that Word in some way, as "Word, saying, way, path, testimonies, judgments, precepts, statutes, commandments, law." It is noted in our Bibles that there are 22 sections in the psalm, each beginning with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, in succession.

ALEPH

RIGHTEOUSNESS IN HARMONY

Happy indeed will Israel be in their millennial blessings! They walk in the way of the Lord's law, — not the ten commandments, but as the New Testament tells us, "the law of liberty" (James 2:12), which involves the new birth. Only those born again will keep His testimonies, seeking the Lord with their whole heart (v. 2). They respond willingly to His commandment to keep His precepts diligently, not succumbing to iniquity, but choosing God's ways (vv. 3-4).

True, fervent desire is evident in verse 5, "Oh that my ways were directed to keep Your statutes!" If so, the psalmist would not be ashamed when observing all God's commandments. Rather, he would praise the Lord, not in mere ritual, but in uprightness of heart, willingly learning God's righteous judgments (v. 7). Thus he has firm purpose, "I will keep Your statutes." If so, it is impossible that God would forsake him utterly (v.8).

BETH

CLEANSING FROM EVIL BY THE WORD

The young man is here mentioned because at the outset of a believer's path he needs this vital instruction. It is not here the cleansing of his sins that is considered, but the practical cleansing of his path. Sins are cleansed only by the blood of Christ, and God does this work for a believer; but the believer is responsible to cleanse his path, which involves a daily, practical separation from evil principles. The means of this is clear: it is the Word of God taken to heart that enables one to act with such effect (vv. 9-10)

The new born soul can rightly claim that with his whole heart he has sought the Lord; and consistently with this, he earnestly prays, "Oh let me not wander from Your commandments" (v. 10). How is this to be accomplished? By the individual's hiding God's Word in his heart. How good indeed to learn the verses of scripture, not merely by memory, but by heart! This will, certainly preserve us from sinning against God (v. 11).

Such simple, clear facts move the heart also to bless the Lord (v. 1), who can be depended on to teach His statutes. This being so, our lips are also opened to witness to others, declaring all the judgments of God's mouth (v. 13). And just

as the Lord Jesus Himself says, "I delight to do Your will, O my God' (Ps. 40:8), so the believer may say, "I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies as much as in all riches" (v. 14). Not that the believer can say that he actually does the will of God, as Christ does, but he has the same attitude toward God's Word as Christ has.

Thus, the heart is moved to take time to meditate on God's precepts, not merely to acknowledge them as true; and to contemplate God's ways, not merely to observe them (v. 15). Such delight in God's statutes will cause one to remember, not to forget (v. 16).

GIMEL

A SOJOURNER, BUT BLESSED

The prayer here, "Deal bountifully with Your servant" will certainly be answered fully in the millennium (v. 17), and many will live through the entire thousand years, during which they will be privileged to keep God's Word. The desire is expressed also, "Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law." For believers then will realize their total dependence on God's intervention to enable them to discern the precious truth of His Word. Interestingly, he speaks of himself as a stranger (or sojourner) in the land (v. 19). For the millennium is not his final rest. God's rest can be only when His final work is done in judging at the Great White Throne, and establishing the world in settled peace. Yet though only sojourning in the world, he needs God's commandments to order his brief life — brief though 1000 years!

"My soul breaks with longing for Your judgments at all times" (v. 20). Obedience will not be automatic, but requiring serious exercise that penetrates the soul. In contrast, the proud stray from God's commandments, and can well expect God's rebuke, being justly under a curse (v. 21). Any part in such reproach and contempt is deeply objectionable to a believer, who asks that this should be removed from him (v. 23), a desire he bases on the fact of his keeping God's testimonies.

Even princes, those considered dignitaries, would calmly sit to speak against the godly. Of course, this can hardly be the case during the millennium, but no doubt prior to its introduction. But instead of retaliating resentfully, the faith of God's servant is evidenced in meditating on His statutes (v.23). In God's testimonies also he finds delight and appreciated counsel (v.24).

DALETH

FINDING STRENGTH IN WEAKNESS

Verse 25 describes most graphically the condition of one reduced to a state of utter helplessness, — "My soul clings to the dust." In such a state there is nothing that one may do for himself, so that rather he can only depend on the Lord to revive him according to God's Word. Thank God that one Resource remains when all else fails! For revival we may surely have confidence in the God of resurrection and in the truth of His Word.

"I have declared my ways, and You answered me" (v. 26). To receive God's answer, the declaration of our ways must simply be honest, which surely does not put us in the light we might prefer to have! And God's answer will certainly be for our correction, with instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). Thus the psalmist asks, "Teach me Your statutes."

Nor is this all, for he desires that God will make him understand the way of His precepts (v. 27) — no doubt in contrast to the "ways" the psalmist has confessed in verse 26 — ways that we have seen required an answer from God. If God makes one understand, this will certainly encourage meditation on His wonderful works.

"My soul melts from heaviness"(v. 28), that is, the burden of his weakness is so great that it becomes overpowering. Where will he find strength but in the Word of God? Anything contrary to this is "the way of lying," and we might all well pray to have this removed from us (v. 29), that we might be given God's law graciously. Thus, in contrast to "the way of lying" it is "the way of truth" the psalmist has chosen. "Your judgments I have laid before me:" it is this that engages his full attention.

Thus, in clinging to God's testimonies, the heart of the believer may depend on the Lord that he is not put to shame. Running in the course of God's commandments involves the energy that is fully decided: it leaves no room for other pursuits, for it depends on God to enlarge the heart (v. 32).

HE

FOR GOD IS THE RESOURCE

If God is really the teacher, we may have confidence that we shall be taught in such a way as to keep His statutes consistently to the end (v. 33). In His presence we find understanding that enables us to keep His law —that is, the law of liberty, not the law of Moses. In fact, the whole heart will be involved in observing this deeply appreciated law (v. 34).

Again, it is evident in verse 35 that the psalmist cannot trust his own energy, for he desires that God will make him walk in the path of His commandments. Of course, if we ask for this, we should certainly have the purpose of heart to submit to God's working. Actually, delighting in the path is only normal for a believer. Thus, God also is asked to supervise the inclinations of the heart to His testimonies, and not to covetousness (v. 36), for only those testimonies will keep us from selfishness.

Similarly, in verse 37, we need the activity of God in our lives to turn our eyes away from looking at worthless things, for the eye affects the heart. The New Testament provides a beautiful positive to take the place of the negative in this verse: "Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of faith" (Heb. 12:2). The last phrase of the verse "and revive me in Your way" surely indicates that there has been failure for which revival is needed, that is, the eyes have been drawn by vanity, which may all too easily allure us.

Then follows the deeply needed request, "Establish Your Word to Your servant"(v. 38), for scripture should not be merely an intermittent enjoyment, but so deeply established in our souls as to be our constant source of instruction, correction and guidance, and specially so for one who is devoted to fearing God. As well as asking that his eyes be turned from vanity, he now asks that God may turn away his reproach. Of course, reproach comes from others, and he admits he dreads this, and can only depend on the Lord to nullify it (v. 39). "For Your judgments are good" in contrast to the reproachful judgments of the ungodly. Every believer may well echo the words of verse 40, "I long for Your precepts", for these will revive us when we fail.

WAW

OVERCOMING

The many mercies of the Lord, as well as His one great salvation are found here as the basis of the confidence of the child of God (v. 41). Thus, by God's Word, he will overcome the reproaches of men. This Word being his only source of help, it is understandable that he desires that that Word should never be taken out of his mouth (v. 43). It is by this that he answers his oppressors, and his only hope is in the ordinances of God.

"So shall I keep Your law continually, forever and ever" (v. 44). No less than this can possibly satisfy him. Thus he will walk at liberty, seeking God's precepts. For self-will and self-seeking are actually bondage, not liberty. But true liberty gives courage to speak of the testimonies of God even before kings, the honorable of the earth (v. 46), with no suggestion of being ashamed, but finding delight in God's commandments, which a believer loves (v. 47). His hands also, as well as his words, would be occupied in obedience to those commandments, which he respects and loves, so that it is no burden to meditate on God's statutes.

ZAYIN

REST, THOUGH IN AFFLICTION

Verse 49 reminds us of the words of the repentant thief who was crucified with the Lord Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom" (Luke 23:42), It may seem unnecessary to ask the Lord to remember, but we know that He makes allowances for the weakness of our faith. The Word of God had caused the palmist to hope, and the Lord certainly could never forget that. In fact, it was his comfort in his affliction: it had not only given him hope, but life, the life that is life indeed. Though the proud had him in great derision, he was at rest in firmly resisting any temptation to turn aside from the law of God. For he remembered God's judgments of the past and in those he found genuine comfort (vv. 51-52).

Being comforted himself by the truth of God's Word, it is understandable that indignation had taken hold of him because of the wicked who turn totally away from the law of God. This indignation is comparable to the anger of the Lord Jesus when the Pharisees showed their hardness of heart in not even answering His question, "Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy?" (Luke 6:9). Thus, their contempt for the Word of God and their cruel attitude toward a crippled man rightly drew forth His anger. This was not anger for the way He Himself was treated, but because God's Word was opposed and man's need despised. But God's statutes were the subject of the psalmist's songs, songs which lift the soul above the level of circumstances, though those circumstances were in scenes of transitory pilgrimage.

"I remember Your name in the night, O Lord" (v. 55). Thus, not only when conditions were light and clear, but with darkness pressing around, the name of the Lord was a sustenance and refreshment for him, that he would keep God's law whether people were watching or not. This had become his constant possession, which is in fact the case for all who keep God's precepts.

HETH

OUTWARD RELATIONSHIPS

Though the latter part of this section emphasizes the outward relationships of the believer, it begins with the realization that his most vital relationship is with the Lord Himself, who is his prime portion. Because of this he has the purpose to say he will keep God's words (v. 57)

Entreating God's favor with his whole heart (v. 58), desiring God's mercy in accordance with His Word, will have vital effect on all other relationships. It will also lead us to think about our own ways (v. 59), an unpleasant but necessary occupation, for if considered from God's viewpoint, this will turn, not only our eyes, but our feet into obedience to his testimonies.

Nor will there be hesitation, but firm purpose immediately to keep God's commandments (v. 60). If we give ourselves time to delay such obedience, this is not faith, but a dangerous risk. In fact, what relationship do we have with the wicked? They have cords with which to bind their victims, and if we have been bound in any way by such cords, then relief is found only in not forgetting God's law (v. 61), which the New Testament tells us is "the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25), in contrast to the bondage by which the wicked are determined to enslave their victims.

At midnight (a most unlikely time) the psalmist speaks of rising to give thanks to God (v. 62). Even his sleep is not so important as is the practice of thanksgiving, — thanksgiving in this case because of God's righteous judgments. Just as we should gladly welcome the fellowship of all those who truly love the Lord, so he speaks of being a companion of all those who fear Him and who keep His precepts (v. 63). He recognizes that the earth is full of the Lord's mercy, though in general people do not consider this (v. 64). But in appreciation of such manifest mercy, the psalmist desires that God would teach him His statutes.

TETH

GOD MAKING ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD

Whatever the circumstances, all believers may wholeheartedly say that God has dealt well with us (v. 65), just as His Word has assured us. Having such assurance, it is only normal to desire to be taught good judgment and knowledge, for the truth of God's commandments is such that we may surely fully believe them (v. 66).

Surely, we all know the truth of verse 67 (at least the first part): "Before I was afflicted, I went astray." The affliction was most necessary, and certainly works together for good to those who love God, leading them to keep His Word. With utmost confidence concerning God, we may gladly say, "You are good" (v. 68). This is in contrast to all others, as the Lord Jesus told a ruler in Israel, "No one is good but One, that is, God" (Luke 18:19). If the ruler had only realized that Jesus is God, he would not have addressed Him as he did. But since God is absolutely good, therefore it follows that He does good. And this being true, are our hearts not moved with deep desire that He might teach us His statutes?

"The proud," that is, those who think they are good, have forged a lie against others whom they think not so good as they. But in the final analysis, will a lie ever hurt us? No! For God makes all things work together for good to those who love Him, so that our hearts may be fully free to keep God's precepts. This very attitude gains a complete victory over all the falsity of the enemy. In fact, the word, "Thessalonians" means "victory over falsity." The young assembly there had gained such a victory because, as Paul assures them, "When you received the Word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe" (1 Thess. 2:13).

"Their heart is as fat as grease" (v. 70), that is, those who were proud of themselves had virtually insulated their hearts against the truth of God, which leaves people grossly obtuse. How great is the contrast in the believer, who delights in God's law! In fact, he fully recognizes that it has been good for him

to be afflicted, for the affliction serves to teach him the statutes of God (v. 71).

For God's law is itself wealth beyond silver and gold multiplied by thousands (v. 72). Surely every believing heart agrees with this!

YOD

RECOGNITIONS

The psalmist here recognizes and considers the actions and ways of God with him, — his first consideration being that of the fact that it is God's hands that have made him (v. 73), fashioning him in a distinct way, for every individual is distinct, not cast in the same mold at all. Amazing fact! For the works of men are so limited that they would be helpless to imitate the great variety of God's works. But the psalmist also recognizes how limited his understanding is, and pleads with God to give him at least sufficient understanding to learn His commandments.

Those who fear God will be glad to recognize one another and enjoy their fellowship, because their mutual hope is in the Word of God (v. 74), and they have full confidence that His judgments are right. This involves the recognition that it is God's faithfulness that sees fit to send affliction to His servants. Yet along with the affliction he desires God's merciful kindness to be his comfort (v. 76). These are not contrary one to another, both being fully in accord with the Word God has spoken.

Such tender mercies are a felt need to enable one to really live in accordance with God's law in which he delights (v. 77). If anyone is to be ashamed, let it be the proud who do not hesitate to act in falsehood, treating the godly wrongfully. But rather than responding with resentment to such treatment, the psalmist is purposed to spend his time more wisely in meditating on God's precepts. This is certainly an example we should diligently follow, as is implied in verse 79, "Let those who fear You turn to Me." Others should recognize that the godly are wrongfully used, and they will do so if they know God's testimonies.

With simple, earnest desire the psalmist ends this section with the prayer, "Let my heart be blameless regarding Your statutes, that I may not be ashamed."

KAPH

FACING TRIAL FROM MAN

The psalmist here is seen to be deeply affected to the point of fainting (v. 81), but by grace realizing that his one hope is in the truth of God's Word. The trial by means of the cruelty of enemies seems to him to be greatly prolonged. His eyes fail to find the help they need in searching the Word of God, so that he questions when God will comfort him (v. 82). He had become like a wineskin in smoke. The wineskin was for holding the wine that makes glad the heart of man, but its purpose had been defeated by such obscurity (of smoke) that he felt dried up and unable to function properly. "Yet," he says, "I do not forget Your statutes (v. 83).

In verse 84 he questions as to the fact that his days are so short, and yet God does not intervene for his defense against those who continue to persecute him. But if we look at things from the viewpoint of our limited days, we fall short of having a proper viewpoint. For one day is with the Lord as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. Yet we all have great difficulty in accepting the viewpoint of God.

He continues to speak of the way he is treated by the proud, who have dug pits for him, in complete ignorance of God's law (v. 95). Though all God's commandments are faithful, the ungodly completely ignore this fact and persecute the godly wrongfully. He appeals therefore to his one source of hope, "Help me!" (v. 86). Is this in vain? Certainly not. Though he feels the enemy has almost ended his existence on earth, yet he has confidence that God can revive him, for he appeals on the basis of God's lovingkindness (v. 88). Nor does he plead this only for his own comfort, but in order that he may keep the testimony of God's mouth.

LAMED

WITH GOD, WHO GOVERNS

If in the previous sections the trial from man is emphasized, this section

shows that, being with God, the believer is perfectly safe, for He is the God who governs in perfection. In fact, His Word is settled forever in heaven, the place of rule, a wonderfully calming assurance. And His faithfulness endures to all generations. How precious a resting place! The earth has remained because God established it. So that both heaven and earth continue according to the ordinance of God. They are His servants (v. 91).

The psalmist realizes too that unless God's law had been his delight, he would have perished in the affliction the Lord allowed to try him. how true for us too, that if we neglect the Word of God, present results can be calamitous. But when one has purposed to live by the truth of God's Word, he will not forget those valuable precepts (v. 93). It is by these that one really lives, for God is the life-giver.

May we ever take to heart the truth, "I am Yours." If this is so, then God has exclusive rights over every aspect of our lives. He will save us also from all the opposition of the enemy and all the temptations that try us, just in the measure in which we realize this wonderful fact, that we belong to Him. The wicked are a constant menace to the safety and welfare of the people of God, actually desiring their destruction. But faith can rise high above any fear of such evil, by simply considering God's testimonies (v. 95).

The psalmist had in experience seen the consummation (or the end) of all perfection; that is, the perfection that man seeks always has an end, a limit, but this is in contrast to the commandment of God, which is "exceedingly broad." Just as eternity has no limit, so it is with the Word of God. We may think God's Word is limited to 66 books, but actually the 66 books bear witness that the truth of God's Word is infinitely great. Many have borne witness to the fact that, though they have searched scripture for years, they still find gems of truth that had never occurred to them before. God's Word is like a living tree that continues bearing abundant fruit interminably.

MEM

WISDOM THAT OVERCOMES

We have already seen in various ways the truth expressed in verse 97, "Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day." But the psalmist adds, "You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies" (v. 98). Thus, however weak and dependent we may be otherwise, the truth of God so nourishes the soul that the believer finds a wisdom that is far higher than the world understands. The source of the world's wisdom is so empty that it gives no sustaining help to its devotees, while God's commandments remain "ever with me" to lift the soul above the level of mankind generally.

Unbelievers, taking the place of teachers, only manifest their ignorance compared to their pupils who learn directly from the Word of God. Sadly, there are many teachers of this kind who think they are well informed, but have not the slightest knowledge of what the God of glory says! But if God's testimonies are our meditation, we shall understand more than teachers of advanced age, — particularly so when one keeps God's precepts (vv. 99-100). The Word of God provides for us, not only intelligence, but incentive to obey.

This involves too the energy to restrain our feet from any evil way (v. 101). We shall not depart from God's judgments when we realize it is God Himself who has taught us, not merely one who claims to be representing God (v. 102). God's words thus become sweeter than honey in our experience (v. 103). True understanding being communicated through God's precepts renders the soul firmly decided to hate every false way (v. 104)

NUN

COMPLETE OBEDIENCE

The believer does not walk in darkness because he has God's Word as a lamp to his feet and a light to his path (v. 105). A lamp is a confined light, and this is applied to the details of his waLuke The light is for all his path, so that the believer is well provided for. Verse 106 however, is not the language of a believer today, as it will no doubt be in the millennium. Yet it does represent the purpose of heart that should characterize every believer. Though "afflicted very much" (v.107), this is no deterrent, but a means of stirring the believer to desire genuine reviving in consistency with the Word of God. And he is moved to pray that God will accept the freewill offerings of his mouth. Is there any doubt that such a prayer will be answered? Indeed, it is accompanied by the desire that God would teach him His judgments. Of course, God will answer this too.

Verse 109 is rather striking. To have one's life continually in his hand tells us of the frailty and brevity of life, as though it was dependent on the puny strength of one's hand! Yet his weakness is not such that it interferes with his remembering God's law. Even the snares laid by the wicked are ineffectual, for they do not succeed in leading him away from God's precepts (v. 110).

He had accepted God's testimonies as a heritage forever. How good to have this attitude toward the truth of God! It is a heritage, the possession of the believer, forever. Well might they therefore be "the rejoicing of my heart." Based on this absolute certainly, it is only normal that we should gladly incline our hearts to be obedient to our God forever, "to the very end" (v.112).

SAMEK

THE REBELLIOUS DENOUNCED

The number of those who cannot be trusted is greatly multiplied today, and the attitude of the believer toward them is to be that of refusing all fellowship with them (v. 113). Being double-minded, they will commend goodness at one time, and in the next breath condemn it; or condemn evil at one time, then side with it when it suits their purpose. But the believer may fully say at all times, "I love Your law," the law that invariably loves good and hates evil.

Though dangers from the hosts of evil lurk on every side, yet God is a perfectly safe hiding place away from the danger, or a shield in the very face of it (v. 114). The believer's hope, (settled and secure) is in God's Word, which is forever settled in heaven.

He firmly therefore bids evildoers to depart from him, for he has chosen to keep the commandments of God (v. 115). He counts on God to uphold him, for this is consistent with God's Word. In this is true life, being dependent on God to preserve him from being ashamed of his hope (v. 116).

"Hold me up," he prays, "and I shall be safe." Being dependent on the hand of God to uphold him, he will be safe and enabled to observe God's statutes continually (v. 117). On the other hand, those who willingly stray from His statutes may expect to be rejected, for their deceit is not only a manipulation of the truth, but deliberate falsehood. God discerns the inward motives. He puts away all the wicked of the earth like dross. It is not merely that He purges the dross from the silver, but rather that there is no silver in them whatever: they are all dross (v. 119).

But the very fact that God disposes of the dross is an added reason for the believer to love His testimonies. The judgment of the wicked thus serves to strengthen the faith of the godly. It produces such a healthy fear of God in a saint that he trembles at the contemplation of so great a Creator, and his soul is subdued by the holy fear of His judgments.

AYIN

DELIVERANCE SOUGHT FROM EVIL DOERS

But the believer is seen as still in the midst of oppressors who seek his destruction. Therefore, he is kept in prayerful dependence on the One who alone can sustain him. He has consciously sought to act in justice and righteousness, and asks that he be not left to the will of his oppressors. Can he count on God being His surety? Yes indeed! (v. 122), and the result of this is always good. those who are proud are always seeking to oppress the godly, so their resource is in God alone. He finds that his eyes are not enough to sustain him in seeking God's salvation and His righteous Word (v. 123). The eyes speak of discernment, and if we depend on our own discernment we shall indeed fail. Therefore, he needs God Himself to deal with him according to His mercy, not according to His righteousness, though His righteousness will always be involved in His dealings. But God's mercy is necessary if we are to be taught God's statutes.

"I am Your servant," he says (v. 125), and this being so, he must depend on God to give Him understanding in order to know His testimonies. It is impossible for him to counteract the contempt of enemies who consider God's law as void; therefore, he affirms it is time for God to act. There is no doubt that God will act in this matter, but the time of acting is altogether His to decide.

"Therefore, I love Your commandments more than gold, yes, more than fine gold" (v. 127). It is his utter dependence on God that moves him to love God's commandments more than all earthly riches. God's precepts he recognizes to be right in every matter, and all that is contrary he hates.

PE

VALUED REVELATION

In rightly considering God's testimonies, David finds them wonderful, for a believing heart cannot but wonder at the wisdom, grace, righteousness and pure truth of all that God has seen fit to reveal. And when one recognizes this, the whole heart is engaged in desiring to keep these testimonies (v. 129).

Marvelous too is the light that results from the entrance of God's words (v. 130), a matter that the "wise and prudent" do not discern, but which "the simple" understand. This speaks of the simplicity of faith in contrast to the duplicity of mere human reasoning. "I opened my mouth and panted," that is, he longingly desired his mouth to be filled with the precious food of the Word of God, and so deeply that he virtually panted with desire for it. God's commandments were the object of his deep longing (v. 131).

"Look upon me" (v. 132). This seems a contradiction of Isaiah's prayer, "Look away from me" (Isa. 22:4), but each of these cases considers the matter from a different viewpoint. Isaiah was considering the fact of his being naturally sinful, so that he did not expect the Lord to even desire to look at him, rather, to look upon the face of God's Anointed (Ps. 84:9). But in our present verse the psalmist desired the Lord to look upon him in his circumstances of need, to show mercy to his afflicted servant. This was, and is, God's custom toward those who love His name.

Also, he asks that God would direct his steps by His Word. Every believer needs this too, whether we realize it or not. If this positive blessing is ours, the negative influence of iniquity will have no dominion over us (v. 133).

The psalmist now prays also to be redeemed from the oppression of man. This is not redemption from the guilt of his own sins, which is the obtained blessing of every believer today, but rather the practical liberation from the oppression that men seek to deliberately impose on believers. The reason for his praying thus is that he may keep God's precepts — a worthy object indeed.

"Make Your face shine upon Your servant" (v. 135). This is actually what God has done in sending the Lord Jesus to this world, as 2 Corinthians 4:6 tells us, "It is God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." Israel will recognize this when by grace the nation is broken down in true repentance to receive their blessed Messiah. Then they will indeed have a heart to learn God's statutes.

Then too they will be so affected that "rivers of water" will run down from their eyes in considering that men do not keep God's law (v. 136). But it is only after we are saved by God's grace that the unutterable sadness of men's unbelief causes us such sorrow. Well may we mourn over the unbelieving condition of countless thousands of mankind who refuse to bow to the authority of the gracious Lord of glory!

TSADDE

TRIAL FROM ENEMIES

Though in this section the psalmist feels the pain of the trial that comes from outside, yet he begins with the firm confidence that the Lord is righteous, a contrast indeed to the enemies, and therefore a precious basis for appealing to Him. His judgments are upright, not influenced by change whether to the right hand or to the left. His testimonies given as commands to be obeyed are righteous and very faithful. Wonderful anchor for the soul!

"My zeal has consumed me, because my enemies have forgotten Your words" (v. 139). However feeble our zeal may be, when the object of that zeal is the Lord Jesus, it kindles a consuming fire in the soul., particularly when there are enemies to contest the truth of God's words. For to the believer God's Word is very pure, untainted by the least adulteration, and the very nature of one born again is to love that Word (v. 140).

Every believer surely sympathizes with the expression of verse 141, "I am small and despised," that is, considered of no account. Yet in contrast to the haughty pride of unbelievers, "I do not forget Your precepts." For God's righteousness is not temporary, but eternal, and His law is truth, never compromised by the slightest error or deceit.

In spite of the trouble and anguish that so frequently overtakes the believer (v. 143), God's commandments continue unfailingly to delight his soul, so he is not given over to depression and discouragement.

Verse 144 is very similar to verse 142, though in verse 142 it is God's personal righteousness that is seen to be everlasting, while in verse 144 the righteousness of His testimonies is shown to be consistent with His character, therefore everlasting. The psalmist then asks for understanding, no doubt as regards these testimonies, by which he could really live.

QOPH

EXERCISES OF FAITH

If faith is to have real power in a believer's life, this must require serious exercise of heart, and thus the psalmist cries out with his whole heart, concerned that the Lord will hear him, and purposed that he will keep His statutes (v. 145). In fact, he cries out for salvation, though he does not say from what, which seems to indicate that he is simply feeling his own helplessness, whether from personal problems or those occasioned by others. This salvation would strengthen him to keep God's testimonies (v. 146).

His soul was in such exercise that he rose from sleep before the dawn to cry for help, for his hope was in God's Word (v. 147). In fact, through the night he lay awake with the same concern to meditate in the Word if God. Can there be any doubt that the Lord would hear and respond to the voice of his supplications? Certainly not; for He is a God of lovingkindness, and would surely revive His exercised servant according to His justice, which is just as involved as His loving-kindness (v. 149).

Some drew near who follow after wickedness, but this is only hypocrisy, for in point of fact, they are far from God's law and therefore from God (v. 150). But the Lord is near, for the sake of all those who draw near to Him in truth, who recognize His commandments as truth. For concerning His testimonies, every believer can agree that God has founded them forever, whether he has known this for a long time or not.

RESH

PURPOSED TO OVERCOME

With firm purpose to overcome evil, the psalmist prays confidently, "Consider my affliction and deliver me" (v. 153). He surely has title to pray thus, for 44 he did no forget God's law. He speaks as depending on God to be his attorney to plead his cause, but further than this, to redeem him, that is, to liberate him from any bondage that may have been imposed on him. Then also he asks that a work be done in him, that is, to be revived in consistency with the Word of God (v. 154).

"Salvation is far from the wicked" (v. 155). They recognize no need of salvation and have no interest in seeking God's statutes. They are so blind they have no idea of the greatness of God's tender mercies. But the psalmist has full confidence in those mercies, and counts on God therefore to revive him (v. 156) in accordance with His judgments.

He does not underestimate the strength of his many persecutors and enemies, but will at the same time not allow them to intimidate him, as they design. to do in order to turn him from obedience to God's testimonies. This is the faith that overcomes the world (1 John 5:4).

The treacherous character of the ungodly (v. 158) is a matter of disgust to him, for such men have no intention of keeping God's Word, which is the only safe refuge for anyone. Certainly, God fully answers such a prayer as that of verse 159, "Consider how I love Your precepts." Yet the weakness of the flesh is such that for the third time in this section he asks the Lord to revive him, this time, according to His lovingkindness. The first time (v. 154) he asks according to God's Word, and the second time, according to His judgments (v. 156). Thus, he admits his own weakness and need, yet this is the true character of the overcomer. He ends the section by affirming that absolutely all of God's Word is truth, and every detail of God's judgments endures forever. What a contrast to the ill-considered judgments of men!

SHIN

PERFECTION FOUND IN THE WORD OF GOD

It is pathetic to think of princes persecuting one who seeks to walk with God. For princes are those in positions of dignity (not necessarily authority). There is no cause for their persecution, that is, the psalmist has given them no cause for this, but the reason is that their dignity is threatened by the example of lowly faith on the part of believers that does not seek honor from men. For the heart of a believer does not stand in awe of the arrogant exaltation of men, but in awe of God's Word (v. 161).

It is God's Word that gives perfection of rest, and in it the believer finds great treasure (v. 162), so that he might well rejoice. Having such a positive possession in his hands, how can he ever accept the hopeless negative of lying? (v. 163). In fact, he hates lying, and emphasizes this by the fact of his abhorring it, which involves intense hatred. Seven times a day (a complete number) he praises the Lord because of His righteous judgments (v. 164)

"Great peace have they who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble" (v. 165). How good to know this perfection of peace in a world that cries out for fear, but lives in constant war. But such peace is only known by those who love the law of God. It is this that preserves them from stumbling.

The hope of the believer is placed decidedly in God's salvation, and of course such hope will never be disappointed (v. 166), for it is attended by the purpose of heart to do God's commandments. Not only does he bodily keep God's testimonies, but he does so in his soul, which involves his inmost affections and motives, which is emphasized in his affirmation that he loves those testimonies exceedingly.

Thus, God's testimonies and precepts are not loosely regarded, but kept as permanent possessions. How could a believer ever give up such riches in glory? Indeed, he adds, "all my ways are before you." The very object of the ways of his feet has in view the pleasure of the God before whom he walks.

TAU

SEEKING GOD IN TROUBLE

It may seem strange that in this last section of the psalm the psalmist is crying out for the intervention of God in his troubles, rather than ending with exultant joy of accomplished blessing. But it is the language of Israel in view of their sufferings just before the gracious deliverance God will give them at the time of the end, therefore holding instruction that should appeal to Israel in time of suffering, and also for the help of believers now who have not found the full knowledge of deliverance from the power of indwelling sin.

Four times the word, "let" is used in desiring God's intervention, for the psalmist knows that only what God allows will be effective. Of course, God would fully allow his cry to come before Him, and He is glad to give His saints understanding according to His Word (v. 169).

In verse 170 the cry is increased to supplication„ and deliverance is asked, also according to God's Word. How can a prayer like this ("according to His Word") ever be ignored? For God's Word will stand when all else fails. So that verse 171 is not prayer, but a declaration of a proper response, "My lips shall utter praise, for You teach me Your statutes." And if praise is awakened toward God, then there is a message for others involved, "My tongue shall speak of Your Word" (v. 172). In fact, it is the righteousness of God's commandments that should speak to people everywhere. He desires the hand of God's grace and power to be his help (v. 173). The human hand is a marvelous instrument, and if so, how much more the hand of God! And that hand will certainly not fail one who has chosen God's precepts.

As the godly remnant of Israel pass through the tribulation, they will indeed cry out, "I long for Your salvation, O Lord." Though they may know very little of what the New Testament teaches, yet what they know of the law of God will be their delight (v. 174).

At the time of the Tribulation, death will be all around the godly remnant of Israel, for "in all the land, says the Lord, that two thirds in it shall be cut off and die." Thus, it is understandable that they will plead, "Let my soul live, and it shall praise You " (v. 175). The answer to this prayer is beautifully recorded in Romans 11:26-27, "And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written, The deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them when I take away their sins." This is true in spite of two-thirds of the nation dying in all the land. For Romans 4:28-29 tells us, "He is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God." These will be able to say, "Let Your judgments help me."

Yet the godly in Israel will deeply feel the shame of their departure from God for centuries, as having gone astray like a lost sheep. —For I do not forget Your commandments," just as a sheep does not forget its proper home.

Psalm 120

SOLITARY DISTRESS

This psalm is "a song of ascents," as are those that follow, up to Psalm

134. We may therefore expect the truth in them to gradually ascend to a final higher plane. But this first one begins with a very low note, the psalmist in deep distress crying out to the Lord. Yet, it is with the confidence that the Lord has heard him. It may be that in verse 2 the deliverance he seeks is from the lying lips of the antichrist, who will have great power given to him for a brief time in the tribulation period. Though at first, he will consort with the godly, this friendship is mere hypocrisy, for when he attains authority, he will change his attitude toward them to one of hatred.

"What shall be given to you, or what shall be done to you, you false tongue?" (v. 3). What a question with which to search the conscience of a deliberate deceiver! Of course, the answer to this is found in Revelation 19:20 — "cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone." Dreadful end indeed! Yet verse 4 does not seem to indicate the direct judgment of God, as does Revelation 19:20, and may refer rather to the sharp arrows of human opposition, while coals of the broom tree seem to be less also than God's judgment.

The psalmist is deeply distressed that he dwells in Mesech, meaning "a drawing," and among the tents of Kedar, meaning "darkness" (v. 5). This seems to indicate his being in circumstances that tend to draw the heart away, and therefore issue in the darkness of uncertainty. When this will be so among the exercised remnant of Israel, certainly they will feel they have dwelt too long in proximity to the Antichrist, who actually hates peace, though he may deceitfully claim to want it (v. 6). If a believer speaks out in such circumstances, he will find a war on his hands (v. 7). Thus, the psalm ends with little relief.

Psalm 121

AN APPEAL TO HIS KEEPER

In view of such distress, the psalmist apparently looked first to the hills, the high elevations where Zion is situated, the place of Israel's blessing. But he asks, "From whence comes my help?" (v. 1). However, the hills will not answer this question, and he firmly declares, "My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth." Thus, if one highly regards the hills, he must remember that God made the hills, and all heaven and earth.

"He will not allow your foot to be moved" (v. 3). Of course, the foot reminds us of our walk, which God will not allow to be moved away from the path of obedience. He is the Keeper of Israel, and the watch he keeps is never interrupted by sleep or any other consideration. Slumber may be intermittent and rather brief, but not even this is possible for the Creator of the universe. He is unceasingly vigilant as regards the welfare of all believers.

How good to have the firm assurance, "The Lord is your Keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand" (v. 5). Of course, as the Keeper He is our protector: as the shade He intervenes between us and the heat of oppression or of hard circumstances. Thus, the sun is not to be feared by day, as it is by many in lands of excessive heat. The sun speaks of supreme light, therefore typical of God revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ (Mal. 4:2). He would have a right to exert His punishing power, as He will do over those who oppose Him, but for believers His influences are sweet, as is the sun in normal weather. The moon typifies the nation Israel, made to reflect the light of God's glory, but in some cases, it can also be a source of trouble. Yet God will keep Israel from harming its own people who trust in Him.

Thus, He kindly preserves the godly from all evil, not merely preserving from bodily harm, but preserving the soul from being overwhelmed by opposition (v. 7). From the very beginning of the millennium ("this time") and without ceasing He will preserve their going out and their coming in. Certainly, believers today may count on the same preserving care, whatever may be the affliction they encounter — even the pain of death — for in this case He preserves in death, though not from it.

Psalm 122

THE HOUSE AND THE CITY – RESTORED

How full of joy the godly in Israel will be when they are invited to go into the house of the Lord (v. 1). At this time the temple will have been rebuilt, as is seen in the latter chapters of Ezekiel, and the very fact of God's restoring this center of His dealings will deeply affect those who have long looked for this divine work, and their feet actually stand within the gates of a revived Jerusalem (v. 2).

The city will be built, no longer as loosely comprising both godly and ungodly together, but compacted together, a unity so in contrast to the discord seen in cities today (v. 3). And the tribes of Israel as "the tribes of the Lord," who give that city the honor of their presence, at least by valid representation. There the testimony of Israel will have its place, which involves the Word of God, which will be honored and exalted in the hearts of the people, as they gladly give thanks to the name of the Lord.

Thrones are said to be set, or established there for judgment, thrones of the house of David (v. 5). Of course the throne above all is that of the Son of Man, but He Himself tells His disciples, "Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matt. 19:28). No doubt these twelve thrones will be in heaven, where believers reign with Christ, but there will also be thrones in Jerusalem, where some who have proven trustworthy will be given the place of judging for God, that is, discerning God's mind in whatever cases, and acting thus for Him. Certainly, there will be no more bitterly fought court cases, but calm, decisive action for God's honor.

Well might we now "pray for the peace of Jerusalem" (v. 6), which prayer will be fully answered then. Those who love Jerusalem are here prayed for, that they may prosper. Yet that peace cannot come to them until they finally receive "the Prince of Peace," the Lord Jesus. When they do so, then peace will certainly be within their walls (v. 7), and prosperity within their palaces, those dwellings from which authority is maintained.

"For the sake of my brethren and companions, I will now say, 'Peace be within you— (v. 8). Those who have previously despaired for ever having peace because of constant strife and turmoil, will be greatly blessed by this wonderful message of peace — peace within the city, just as peace now is in the soul of one who trusts the Lord Jesus as Savior.

Then the basis of seeking the good of brethren and companions is emphasized in verse 9, it is "because of the house of the Lord our God." When God's house is established in Jerusalem, this is the very reason for His goodness being known and enjoyed by the restored remnant of Israel.

Psalm 123

GOD ALONE SUFFICIENT

Even after seeing God's house established in the millennium, we return in this psalm to consider again the circumstances of sorrow and suffering that will befall Israel before they are established in blessing after the tribulation. For the trial of faith then will be so great that they need many scriptures to furnish the help they will need at that time. Being on earth, they lift up their eyes to the One who dwells in the heavens (v. 1).

Servants find it necessary to look to their masters for direction, and a maid to her mistress. Taking this place of subjection, the godly servants of Israel will realize they must look to their Lord God continually until they are blessed by His mercy (v. 2).

Thus, they plead earnestly for that mercy, for they find themselves "exceedingly filled with contempt." This is explained further in verse 4. Their souls will be filled in such a way as to virtually overwhelm them, by the scorn of those who do not suffer because they do not stand for the truth of God. But it is only the present ease and contempt of proud men: it will not continue.

Psalm 124

ESCAPING THE SNARE

This psalm certainly answers the pleading of Psalm 123. For the Lord was on their side, which makes all the difference in any dispute. If it had not been so, then they had been swallowed up alive. For the threats of the enemy of God are very real, and in their anger, they will not have mercy. The waters of man's enmity would be sufficient to overwhelm them apart from the intervention of God. This is strongly emphasized in the first five verses.

But verse 6-8 stand in calm superiority over such threats, and the psalmist rightly blesses the Lord, who has not allowed the enemy any advantage, but has rather provided an escape as a bird from the snare of the fowler. If the outcome had seemed uncertain to those who were in danger, it was not uncertain to God, who will not suffer the righteous to be moved. So the psalm closes on a victorious note, "Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth."

Psalm 125

FULLY PROTECTED

The absolute certainly of abiding blessing for the Israel of God is here emphasized. Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, steadfast, unmovable, abiding forever. The mountains surrounding Jerusalem are symbolical of the perfect protection of the people of God by His supreme power. It is added "from this time forth and forevermore (v. 2), indicating the special care of God for Israel from the beginning of the millennium, not only through that thousand years, but for eternity.

The land will be allotted to the righteous, therefore the scepter (or rule) of wickedness will have no place there, for if it did, there would be the danger of the righteous being so influenced as to have their hands defiled by iniquity (v. 3). How important for believers to recognize that their only real protection from serious failure is in the recognition of God's authority.

Verse 4 can certainly not fail to have a positive answer from God, "Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in heart." On the other hand, it is just as certain that those who turn aside to follow crooked ways will be led by the Lord away with the workers of iniquity. Though they may not engage themselves in wicked opposition to God, yet in ignoring Him they expose themselves to the folly of being classified with the most guilty. Some may even criticize hypocrisy, but this will not save them from having their portion appointed "with the hypocrites" in the lake of fire (Matt. 24:48-51).

Thus, those who turn aside to crooked ways, though they may not themselves be positive "workers of iniquity," can only expect the Lord to lead them away with such enemies of God. In wonderful contrast is the last sentence of the psalm, "Peace be upon Israel."

Psalm 126

THE FULLNESS OF GOD'S GRACE

Though verse 1 may have had a small measure of fulfillment in the return from the captivity in Ezra's day, it will only be perfectly fulfilled when Israel Is restored in the millennium. The wonder of that return will be so amazing that they will find it hard to believe, feeling as though they are dreaming (v. 1). Filled with laughter and singing, they will be recognized as never before among the nations, who will no longer be filled with animosity, nor even with envy, but will rejoice to say, "The Lord has done great things for them" (v. 2) The same words will be on the lips of the returned remnant of Israel, with the addition, "and we are glad" (v. 3). Though verses 1-3 are prophetic, verse 4 returns to record the prayer that leads to the fulfillment of prophecy, but only briefly, for the results of tears being sown (v. 5) are then immediately reported. No doubt the tears are occasioned by the failure and sin of Israel, which brings some at least to genuine repentance.

These are not selfish tears, as is the case of Esau in Genesis 27:34, for his were not tears of repentance, but of selfish concern to receive the blessing he had before practically forfeited by selling his birthright. But tears of genuine concern for the blessing of others (and this would include all Israel) are of great consequence, when the seed of the Word of God is sown. It is of course that seed that produces the sheaves of grain that will cause rejoicing. This has direct application to the reviving of Israel in the last days, but believers today may well take this to heart in seeking the eternal blessing of those who are lost apart from their receiving the truth of the Word of God.

Psalm 127

THE LORD ALONE DEPENDABLE

When the house of Israel is first spoken of in verse 1, it is understandable that the psalm is of (or for) Solomon, who was used by God in the building of the first temple in Israel. To begin with, the plans were all made by God, and He prepared the heart of Solomon and all the workers, so that the building was really that of God. When David planned to build a house for God, the Lord told him he would not do so (2 Sam. 7:5-11), but rather that God would build David a house.

Now we are told that "unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it"(v. 1). The pride of man moves him to want to do something, — something even for God; but this is not submission to Him who is Himself the Builder. "For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God" (Heb. 3:4). Ezekiel 40-43 provides God's plans for the temple of God in the millennium, and then it will be fully acknowledged that the Lord is the great Builder.

Similarly, "unless the Lord guards the city, the watchmen stays awake in vain." Thus, the temple and the city will be entirely under the control of the Lord of glory. The prophecy of Haggai deals clearly with the house (or the temple), while that of Zechariah emphasizes the Lord's perfect care for the city. We may think our labors are most important, but they are empty and vain if not in accord with the Word of God. Thus, people will rise early and sit up late, but their object of temporal gain is defeated and they "eat the bread of sorrows" (v. 2).

People may not realize the vanity of their existence until its end is seen. But rather than making us slaves to hard labor, the Lord delights to give His beloved sleep. Such rest is necessary if we are to find strength and direction for any proper spiritual occupation.

When we learn to take true rest in serving the Lord, there will be good results, as verse 3 indicates. Israel will be greatly blessed with children in the millennium, and will learn indeed that the children are a heritage from the Lord, a reward for dependence on Him. Today not every godly believer is so blessed, but often that deficiency is made up by the comfort of having spiritual children; and any imbalance that is characteristic of the day of Christ's rejection will be wonderfully corrected in the coming glory.

Then children are likened to arrows in the hand of a warrior, useful for gaining victories over enemies. "Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them" (v. 5). There are some who criticize those who have more than one or two children, but God does not. It is said of Susannah Wesley that she had 22 children, and taught them all to read by using the Word of God. Her son, John Wesley was greatly used by God in the salvation of large numbers; and her son Charles was given grace to write more hymns than anyone else on record, — many of them very excellent hymns.

Thus, the many children of believers have no reason to be ashamed, as this verse declares, but shall speak with the enemies in the gate." Their enemies may bring charges against them in the gate, that is the place of judicial judgment, but they may boldly face them without fear of being defeated.

Psalm 128

THE FEAR OF THE LORD IS WISDOM

It is marvelous grace that plants the fear of the Lord in human hearts. Some do not have it, others do, but the blessing of this is wonderful, for it moves the heart to walk in the ways of the Lord, which is a precious privilege indeed. Labor then will not be mere "works of the flesh," but that which is moved by the knowledge of God; and in feeding on His Word, the soul is truly happy (v. 2): all is in proper order. The context shows that this will be true in the millennium, the wife like a fruitful vine and children like olive plants all around the table; for the fruitfulness of the millennium will not be so marred by sin as it is today. "Thus, shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord" (v. 4).

Verse 5 shows this to be true particularly in that coming day, for Zion is the special name given to Jerusalem in the day of her great restoration. "May you see the good of Jerusalem all the days of your life." And life then will not be short, "for as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people" (Isa. 65:22), that is, 1000 years. Well indeed it might be said, "Yes, may you see your children's children" (v. 6). "Peace be upon Israel."

Psalm 129

GOD'S HAND OVERRULING

This psalm returns again to consider the afflictions of Israel by the hand of enemies, not only once or twice, but "many a time" (v. 7). They will certainly not forget this even after being established in their millennial blessing, and will all the more give honor to the Lord for having preserved them from the attacks of enemies. They could not prevail, because God prevails. "The plowers plowed on my back; they made long their furrows." While this may be figurative for Israel, it was actually literal for the Lord Jesus, who was inflicted by metal tipped whips, the scourging of hateful enemies (Matt. 27:26). But God had cut in pieces the cords of the wicked, that is, rescuing Israel from the severe damage the enemy sought to inflict. Certainly, the Lord Jesus Himself bore far more than Israel suffered.

Eventual judgment is certain. All those who hate Zion (Israel in her exalted state) will be put to shame and turned back to their own shameful resources (v. 5). Verse 6 refers to sod covered roofs, from which grass might begin to grow, but just as it quickly withers, so the ungodly will seem to prosper at first, but very soon wither to nothing.

This is in contrast to the fruitfulness of grass growing in good soil, which is an ample reward for the work of the reaper or the binder of sheaves. But those who make a good show at first, then wither away cannot expect observers to tell them, "The blessing of the Lord be upon you: we bless you in the name of the Lord."(v. 8).

Psalm 130

FINDING REDEMPTION

In this psalm it is not enemies that cause the cry of distress, but it is worse, for it is out of the depths the psalmist cries to God (v. 1). The depths have to do with his own sin, for God makes us more deeply feel this than opposition from without. For it is well said that our worst enemy is ourselves. The psalmist therefore pleads that God's ear would be attentive to the voice of his supplications (v. 1).

The psalmist knows well that his sins deserve a solemn judgment, and if God marks these as against the guilty individual, how indeed could he stand? ((v. 3). But he has confidence that God is a forgiving God, though in the Old Testament we are not clearly taught the basis of this forgiveness, that is, the truth of the atoning sacrifice of Christ. God cannot ignore the guilt of mankind, for this would be unjust; and only the sacrifice of His beloved Son could possibly satisfy the claims of righteousness in redeeming a sinner. This is not of course developed here. Yet forgiveness by God has the vital effect of producing godly fear of Him (v. 4).

Meanwhile, the soul waits for the Lord, and has placed his confidence in God's Word (v. 5), yet this waiting is not merely passive, for it is added, "more than those who watch for the morning„" that is, there is a longing expectancy involved (v. 6), which is emphasized by using the expression twice.

The psalmist then appeals to Israel to "hope in the Lord," for He is the only prospect worth considering, and with Him is abundant redemption. Who else could possibly furnish the redemption Israel so desperately needs? Indeed, they have waited long for this, but they themselves are to blame for the long delay, because they have rejected the only Lord who could meet their need. But His mercy is mentioned before His redemption. Man's pride may rebel against the suggestion that he needs mercy, but such pride will have to be broken down if he is to find redemption from the guilt of sin. But at last, "He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities" (v. 8). Wonderful accomplishment of grace.

Psalm 131

THE MORAL RESULT

When finally Israel's pride is humbled to acknowledge and receive the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, their attitude will be permanently changed, as this psalm shows us, from one of proud self-exaltation to that of lowly submission and faith in the living God. Nor is this a mere outward change, but that of the heart (v. 1). "My heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty," What a contrast to the condition of Israel for centuries past! :"For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God" (Rom. 10:2).

More than this, "Neither do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me." Because men do not give God credit for being great enough to accomplish things that are higher than man's understanding, they in their unbelief occupy themselves with ambitious endeavors to explain the mysteries of the universe by means of human intellect. This is total folly, but strongly advocated everywhere today, When God works in men's hearts to subdue the pride of the nation Israel, they will give up such vain pursuits, and instead thank God for His superior power and wisdom.

Then indeed the godly in Israel will have reason to say, "Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me," — not like a great intellectual! It will have taken a long time to complete that weaning, due to Israel's rebellious character, but then there will be the meekness of true understanding, no self-importance, no self-assertion, but the submission of faith that clings simply to the Lord, dependently, like a little child with its mother.

Well might the psalm conclude with urgent advice, "0 Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever" (v. 3), that is, from the introduction of the millennium and with no cessation.

Psalm 132

ZION AND ITS KING

Though this psalm, is not designated as a psalm of David, it seems evident that David is the writer, though he speaks of himself in the third person, as in verses 1 and 10.

THE BASIS OF THE COVENANT (vv. 1-5)

"Lord, remember David and all his afflictions." It seems evident that David speaks here in the third person because God, in moving David's writing, was considering him as a type of Christ. This gives the vow of verse 2 far more significance, for only the vows of the Lord Jesus can be fully trusted: they will be perfectly fulfilled, as is evidenced in His having vowed to do God's will (Heb. 10:7), and His carrying this out in the face of most agonizing suffering by His sacrifice on Calvary. Having done this, there remains no doubt that He will perfectly carry out all that He has purposed concerning Israel.

Thus the Lord Jesus will not relax or have rest until He finds a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob, that is, finding in Israel a place where God can dwell in perpetuity (vv. 2-5). He has laid the foundation for this in His great sacrifice of Himself, but the final, full results are yet to be accomplished in Israel, as they will be in the millennial age.

PAST UNPLEASANT HISTORY (vv. 6-7)

Very briefly in this section it is recorded that Israel has been estranged from God, which indicates that they cannot trust their own resources, therefore are dependent on the vow of the Lord. "We heard of it at Ephrata" (v. 6). Because away from the Lord, they were not aware of His Word, but had by some means heard of the vow of the Messiah. Ephrata evidently refers to Kirjath Jearim, which means "the city of the woods," a place of obscurity. There they are exercised to go to God's tabernacles and to worship at His footstool.

LET THEM RETURN TO HIS HOUSE (vv. 8-10)

The house of Israel had failed to be a fit dwelling for God for centuries: now it is fully prepared, and He is asked to come into such a resting place, — He and the ark of His strength, which is a symbol of the Lord Jesus. Priests who have been for years lacking in Israel, will then be restored and clothed with righteousness, and those who are godly will shout for joy (v. 9).

"For Your servant David's sake, do not turn away the face of Your Anointed" (v. 10). Of course, in this David is a type of Christ, for whose sake God cannot in the least turn away His face from His Anointed, who is clearly Christ also.

CONDITIONAL PROMISE (vv. 11-12)

Verse 11 of course refers to God's promise to David personally, that of the fruit of David's body He would set One on David's throne. It was through the virgin Mary that this prophecy was fulfilled (v. 11). But verse 12 imposes a condition upon David's sons, that required them to keep God's covenant. If they would do so, those sons would continue to sit on David’s throne, Of course, we know that David's sons very soon forsook God's covenant, so that for centuries there has been no-one to continue on the throne of David. But God has overcome this great difficulty, for the throne of David will yet be occupied by "Great David's Greater Son," the Lord Jesus, who came from the line of David, actually through His mother, the virgin Mary, who married Joseph, who was of David's line also, thus giving Christ His official title as well as the actual title.

"For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling place (v. 13). This of course is the city of David, though its special significance will be seen in the millennium, when it will be manifestly the center of God's dealings with the whole world. "This is My resting place forever" (v. 14). Though Israel has for centuries suffered sorrow and privation, then God will abundantly bless her provision and satisfy her poor with bread (v.15). Her priests, who have been notoriously unfaithful, will be clothed then with salvation, a deliverance more wonderful than could have been imagined; and the people will be filled with joy (v. 16).

In verse 17 "the horn of David, symbolizing power, will develop wonderfully, for it speaks of the power of the Messiah, the Son of David. A lamp of renewed light in Israel will be manifested by God's Anointed, the Lord Jesus, while His enemies will be clothed with shame. On the Messiah the crown of glory will

flourish (v. 18).

Psalm 133

THE PRIESTLY MEDIATOR

The glory of the King of Israel has been emphasized beautifully in preceding psalms, but now it is more pressed upon us that this exalted King is also the Priest of God, the only Mediator between God and man; and the influence of this Priest will be such as to draw the people of God together in lovely harmony. He is the Center of all true unity.

The goodness and pleasantness of this unity is emphasized, as will be marvelously true in Israel's blessing in the millennium, a great contrast to their previous history (v. 1). Aaron is typical of the Lord Jesus (v. 1), and the anointing oil refers to His being anointed by the oil of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:16) at the beginning of His public service. Christ is therefore the Center of the unity of the Church, and the Spirit of God is the power of that unity, The oil begins at the head, then runs down on the beard and the edge of His garments, indicating the Spirit's complete empowering of the Priest, who is the great Representative of all believers, who therefore are bound together in unity, We should surely therefore be concerned to practically carry out the truth of this unity, as Ephesians 4:2-3 tells us, "With all lowliness and gentleness, with long-suffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace".

"As the dew upon Hermon." Hermon is a majestic snow-covered mountain, a reminder of the Great White Throne, its name meaning "banned," thus speaking of the ban of God upon evil. The Spirit of God is totally opposed to evil of any kind, which is the only actual cause of disunity. The dew is another symbol of the Spirit of God, bringing gentle refreshment. The dew descends on the mountains of Zion, — Israel in her future blessing in the millennium. "For there the Lord commanded the blessing — life forevermore" (v. 3). This being true -life forevermore," — then the precious unity accomplished by the Spirit of God in Israel, will be permanent also.

Psalm 134

IN THE SANCTUARY

This is the last "song of ascents," which shows the end fully accomplished, so that it requires only a brief treatment. "Behold," we are bidden, that is, consider what is becoming at this time. Of course it supposes the millennium having been introduced. Servants "who by night stand in the house of the Lord" are specially singled out (v. 1). We are not aware of priests serving by night in the temple; so that this may teach us that in the millennium God will be served just as effectively in the night as in the day.

But this service is designated as simply that of blessing the Lord, first in verse 1, then emphasized in verse 2, where they are told to lift up their heads in the sanctuary in blessing the Lord. Then verse 3 concludes the psalm by transferring the blessing to the Lord's servants, the blessing of the Lord who made heaven and earth. This blessing is said to proceed from Zion, the center of God's dealings with the world in the millennial age. But it is important to observe that the holy city of Zion is the home of God's sanctuary then.

Psalm 135

SUMMONS TO RENDER PRAISE

This psalm is clearly prophetic of the millennium, when the praise of the name of the Lord will be beautifully emphasized as never before.

THE LORD DOING AS HE PLEASES (vv. 1-7)

How worthy indeed is the Lord of far more than all the praise that is given Him! For He is absolutely supreme over earth and heaven. Those first bidden to praise Him are His servants, those who take the place of total submission to His authority (v. 1). Then those are mentioned who strand in the house of the Lord and in its courts. Those must be servants also, so that verses i and 2 may refer to the same persons.

Then one reason is given for praise, — "for the Lord is good." This is certainly not the only reason, but it is fundamental to all that is connected to men's welfare on earth, and the psalm later lists many reasons. Then just singing praises to His name is pleasant. While the objective (:the Lord is good") is first noted, then the subjective (it is pleasant") rightly follows. "For the Lord has chosen Jacob for Himself" (v. 4). Why? Because He has a right to do what He pleases. We should realize too that He has chosen that one nation to be an object lesson for all mankind. In the history of that one nation He demonstrates what all nations are like, and demonstrates also the marvelous grace that moves His heart in recovering sir -al people from the guilt of disobedience to Him. He has spent centuries of patient labor on that nation, with the result of great blessing for them. Therefore, they are rightly "His special treasure."

Verse 3 has said, "the Lord is good;" now verse 5 adds, "for I know that the Lord is great." and therefore above all so-called gods in the world. This is not just an adopted opinion, but a matter of established knowledge, which will be fully evident in the millennium. Man has sought to accomplish great things, but has always sadly failed. Not so with the Lord. Whatever He pleases He does (v. 6), both in heaven and on earth or in the seas.

Man attempts to accomplish many ambitious projects, such as he has in mind now, of sending manned space flights to Mars. But he has not been able to establish a civilization even on the moon. How will he do so on Mars?

Also, by amazing power God causes vapors to ascend from the earth. Thus, water (which is heavier than air) is rendered able to ascend above the air; then, returning to its former state, it descends in the form of rain, accompanied by lightning. What man would even have thought of a thing like this occurring before he witnessed it? It is God's prerogative to perform miracles, and we are always surrounded by such miraculous acts of God, though we become so accustomed to them that we tend to forget the marvel of them.

Wind is also most marvelous in its accomplishments (v. 7). invisible but amazingly powerful. A cool breeze on a hot day can be most welcome, but a hurricane or tornado is not so much appreciated! Of course, some would object, saying that the winds are only the result of certain conditions prevailing. But who arranged these conditions? Can a man introduce conditions to cause many tremendous activities of the wind?

THE DELIVERER (vv. 8-12)

But God, who can accomplish anything He desires, has shown Himself seriously concerned about the welfare of mankind, and specially Israel as the prime sample of mankind. They need deliverance from this present evil world, as Israel 10-1 did when in bondage to the Egyptians. And God showed His miraculous power in destroying (not indiscriminately) the firstborn of all the inhabitants of the land, "both man and beast" (v. 8). To single these out was itself a miraculous action, but le it was a significant warning to all that nation, so that Egypt was anxious to give Israel their demand to be delivered from their bondage.

Verse 9 goes back to mention the other signs and wonders that were done previous to the judgment of the firstborn in Egypt. Thus, Pharaoh and all his servants were totally vanquished. Following this, as Israel left Egypt, the Lord gave them victory over many nations whose kings were mighty in the eyes of the world. Sihon and Og are particularly mentioned, who were defeated before Israel took possession of the land of Canaan; then the kingdoms of Canaan fell rapidly before Israel when they entered the land (v. 11). Thus, it was God who gave the land to Israel as a heritage (v. 12). The miraculous power of all this should surely deeply impress us.

RETURNING TO HIS PEOPLE (vv. 13-14)

Having accomplished Israel's deliverance, the Lord returned to bless them as never before. As such, His name endures forever, and His remembrance for all generations. Never more will they forget their Maker, for He has become their Redeemer, now judging (or administering justice) to them in perfect equity (v. 14). Such judgment is in pure consistency with His compassion. Blessed indeed is such a unity of justice and compassion!

IDOLS: FUTILE AND FALSE (vv. 15-18)

In striking contrast have been the idols of the nations, made by men's hands, whether silver or gold, what appears to be most valuable, yet has no life whatever (v. 15). Men give them imitation mouths, but with no ability to speak. Of course, now man is able to use electronic means to put words in their mouths, but everyone knows the words do not actually come from the idol. Simulated eyes are just as useless (v. 16), as are the ears; and they have no breath. It is amazing that people will bow down to such "nothings" and worship them! Why? Because man is built to be a worshiper, and because he refuses to worship God, he will worship anything he invents to take the place of God.

In fact, this section ends with the withering denouncement that "those who make them are like them." They are devoid of wisdom and devoid of ability to reason rightly. They have degraded themselves to the status of empty "nothings." And this is true of all those who trust in such vanities (v. 18).

ISRAEL WITH THE TRUE GOD

When idols are refused and the true God recognized, there is abundant reason indeed for intelligent worship. Israel is bidden to bless the Lord, then specifically the house of Aaron, the priestly family, and added to this the house of Levi, those who are servants of the Lord (vv. 19-20). And this is widened to include all who fear the Lord, so that this will be true among Gentiles also in the millennial age. Yet God's center is seen to be in Zion, which means "sunny" or Jerusalem "the foundation of peace" (v. 21). Well might the psalm end, "Praise the Lord" — a wonderful end in view!

Psalm 136

CONFIRMING THAT GOD HAS GONE BEFORE

The millennium will furnish a clear confirmation of the exclusive glory of the Lord Jesus with its constant reminder that His mercy (or loving-kindness) endures forever. All will redound to His praise and glory without ceasing.

THE LORD HIMSELF (vv. 1-3)

Of first importance is the fact of who He is, which always precedes what He has done. To begin with, He is good, in contrast to all others, for "there is none who does good, no, not one" (Rom. 3:12). Because it is God's very nature to be good, therefore everything He does is good, even though it may mean dreadful judgment for the ungodly. "His mercy endures forever." This is repeated in every verse of this psalm, for it is a fact that needs to be learned well, and will be learned in the millennium.

The second verse speaks of Him as "the God of gods," that is, no matter how great others may appear to be, he is infinitely greater than they. Also, He is named "the Lord of lords." Whatever authority others may have, His authority is infinitely higher than theirs.

IN HIS WORKS OF WISDOM (vv. 4-9)

He alone does great wonders (v. 4), causing the wondering adoration of every honest human being. In wisdom He has made the heavens (v. 5), embracing a host of planets and stars which man has found impossible to number, yet all in constant movement and maintaining an order that is astonishing. This too demonstrates His loving-kindness, however feebly we may discern it. Then also He "laid out the earth above the waters" (v. 6). For the surface of the earth is said to be over 75% water, and at one time the earth was completely submerged under the waters, until God spoke, saying, "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear" (Gen. 1:9). Such miraculous power can have no source but the living God.

Having accomplished this on the third day, God then set great lights in their place on the fourth day, the sun to rule by day (v. 8) and the moon to rule by night (v. 9). Of course, if man had been allowed the place of making decisions as to what should be done, these works such as God has done would never have entered man's mind.

IN DEALING WITH HIS PEOPLE (vv. 10-16)

We have seen God's great works of power connected with creation: now His works of grace toward His people are considered, which are connected with redemption. To redeem Israel, He first struck their enemies by the death of the firstborn in that country (v. 10). This too was a manifestly divine work, as was that of bringing the great host of Israelites out from their bondage (v. 11), with a hand and arm infinitely stronger than human.

And certainly, the dividing of the Red Sea was a mighty work which the Egyptians failed to recognize. For Israel passed through the midst of the sea v. 14), while Pharaoh and his armies were drowned (v. 15), having deceived themselves into thinking that, since Israel could pass through unharmed, they could too! Then the great miracle of God's leading His people through the wilderness is remembered. This is amazing, for there must have been about two million people who were sustained by God in traveling for about 40 years!

THE NATIONS SUBDUED (vv. 17-22)

Next is celebrated Israel's entrance into their land by the defeat of great nations and kings (v. 17). But it was not Israel's power that accomplished this. Apart from the power of God, they could have accomplished nothing. In these verses, however, it is only those kings (Sihon and Og) initially defeated who are mentioned (vv. 19-20), and their land given by God as a heritage to Israel.

WEAKNESS DEPENDING ON GOD'S STRENGTH (vv. 23-26)

Thus, we are strongly reminded that any blessing for Israel is totally dependent on the strength of God. He remembered Israel in their low estate, not because they had done anything to merit His favor. He rescued them from their enemies. This will be especially true as they are brought into the millennium, and will be given ample food for their need, as well as "all flesh" being thus supplied. This is implied in the last verse, "Oh give thanks to the God of heaven," not only the God of all the earth, or of Israel, but a God whose glory extends to all the heavens, as will be fully acknowledged in that coming day.

Psalm 137

SAD AND SOLITARY

God will not allow the psalms to end, however, without some consideration of the lonely experiences of Israel when in the captivity of Babylon. For the remembrance of the painful experience will make all the more welcome the deliverance the millennium celebrates.

THE CAUSE (vv. 1-3)

Well indeed may we understand the sorrow and distress of the godly of Israel when captured and taken to Babylon, though it was their own sin that led to this affliction. In that foreign land they sat down to weep, when remembering Zion, the city God had chosen as their center. How could they play their harps? Instead, they hung them on the willows. It was only distressing to be asked to sing one of the songs of Zion in that strange land. Could they pretend to be joyful when their hearts were full of anguish? Those who plundered them would add insult to injury by demanding that they sing with mirth one of the songs of Zion. Apparently, they thought that the Jews should treat Israel with the same contempt that their captors did!

NOT FORGETTING (vv. 4-6)

But those who had captured them had no knowledge whatever of the Lord, and it was His song that meant much to them. How could they sing this in a foreign land? (.v. 4). Jerusalem was God's established Center. But Christ Himself is God's Center today: Can we possibly forget Him? Such forgetting would be as senseless as the right hand forgetting to act normally (v. 5). And it would negate the ability to speak rightly for the Lord. Let us never think of forgetting our true Center, the Lord Jesus, who is Himself the gladness of our joy. We know the enemy will take advantage of every opportunity to induce us to forget Him. Indeed, the Lord Jesus knew this, and thus made wonderful provision for believers in introducing the Lord's supper, saying, "This do in remembrance of Me" (Luke 22:19).

REMEMBER JUDGMENT (vv. 7-9)

But there is another matter of remembrance, which will engage the hearts of the Jews at the time of the tribulation. Today we do not use the language that they will then, for we are told to love our enemies. But at that time the judgment of God will be imminent, and those who have afflicted Israel will be called to account. Edom, a type simply of the flesh, demanded the complete destruction of Jerusalem (v. 7). Certainly, God could not forget this.

On the other hand, Babylon (meaning "confusion") is typical of the mixture of religion with self-seeking, and this evil must eventually be destroyed. It may seem strange that we read, "Happy the one who takes and dashes your little ones against the rocks!" But it is solemn that the children are involved in their fathers' wickedness. However, their early death is actually a mercy, for they will then be in heaven, as was surely true also when Noah's flood destroyed the whole world. How many little ones who died in the flood will have been welcomed in heaven!

Psalm 138

THE LOWLY DELIVERED AND HONORING GOD'S WORD

This psalm stands in remarkable contrast to the previous one, which was filled with sorrow and distress. Here all is great blessing, for which the psalmist gives unmingled worship and praise to God.

UNITED PRAISE (vv. 1-5)

The psalmist voices the praise of all the redeemed of Israel in the coming glory of the millennium. Their whole heart will be involved in this adoration, nothing like the half-heartedness that has so characterized the nation for centuries (v.11). Now they will sing, even "before the gods," that is, the elders of Israel who were responsible to represent God (John 10:35).

The temple is not in existence now (2006), but will be in that day, and Israelites will have their faces toward that temple in worshiping the Lord. Two specific reasons for the worship are noted here —:"for Your loving-kindness and Your truth." The world may not think of these as being exercised at the same time, but they will be perfectly united then, as they always are in God's dealings, but not recognized as such by Israel for centuries. Inseparably connected with these is the truth of the words, "You have magnified Your Word in accordance with all Your name" (v. 2 — Numerical Bible). God's name is infinitely great, so His Word is not above it, but consistent with it, that is, His Word is also infinite — unlimited —for its truths can be expanded again and again without any damage to its message.

Consistently with this, the Lord also hears the cries of His servants, giving them boldness with strength in their souls. How much better is this than physical strength! But the eyes of the psalmist look around also, to see in that day all the kings of the earth praising the Lord (v. 4). Today none of these kings are free to publicly praise the Lord Jesus: what a change in that quickly coming day! But it will be the words of His mouth that influence them. In fact, they go farther to sing of the ways of the Lord in appreciation of the greatness of His glory (v. 5).

A GOD OF CLEAR DISCERNMENT (vv. 6-8)

The greatness of His glory is high indeed, but in spite of such greatness, He has true regard for the lowly, while fully discerning the pride of evil men (v. 6). How good it is that He clearly distinguishes between these classes of men. The lowly today walk in the midst of trouble, and this will be increased in the tribulation, but God will revive them wonderfully (v. 7), while those who cause trouble will find the hand of God stretched out against them. Their wrath will become as nothing when this takes place, and that same hand of power will save the godly from all adversity. But he not only saves: He brings the entire circumstances of the redeemed into a perfect state, so that they will adore Him for His enduring mercy, they being the work of His own wise and capable hands (v. 8).

Psalm 139

MANIFEST IN GOD'S PRESENCE

We have read in Psalm 138:8 of the works of God's hands. Now the psalmist considers God's works in the details of his own existence, and because God is Creator, He therefore penetrates those details fully and perfectly. Nothing is hid from Him, including the very thoughts of the heart.

GOD'S OMNISCIENCE (vv. 1-6)

The psalmist felt himself searched out fully in the presence of God — such a searching that he himself had been unable to accomplish. Every movement was known by God, whether sitting or rising. He not only knows, but understands the thoughts passing through every mind. He understands them better than we do (v. 2). Of course, it is staggering to think that this is so in regard to the untold millions of people He has created!

Whether active or whether lying down, we are always subject to God's comprehension (v. 3), and our activities are always under His observation. Every word that issues from our lips is perfectly known by Him who has said, "By your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned" (Matt. 12:37). For our words are an index to the condition of our hearts, and the great Judge of all takes full account of these as well as our actions. If we keep this in mind, we shall surely be preserved from much evil.

"You have hedged me behind and before" v. 5), that is, God puts limits that we cannot ignore, whether we want to go forward or reverse our direction and return to a previous condition. Thus, His hand is laid upon us to preserve, to guide or to restrain, as He sees fit. The very knowledge that this is so is too wonderful for the psalmist to understand: it is high above his ability to search it (v. 6).

HIS OMNIPOTENCE (vv. 7-12)

Though men are often determined to get away from the presence of God, this is a hopeless pursuit. An airplane may take them off the surface of the earth for a brief time, and some have reached the moon, only briefly too. Now they want to get to Mars! But they forget that God made Mars too, and this would be only a very short trip into the nearby heavens, but God is there also to limit their aspirations as He sees fit (v. 8).

The psalmist has written, "If I ascend into heaven, You are there.". Now, in the other direction, "If I make my bed in hades, behold, You are there." Hades is the condition of the soul and spirit as separated from the body by death. But the rich man of Luke 16:19-31, in that condition, did not escape the ordeal of having to do with God, whom he had ignored during his life. Or if one goes so far as possible over the sea where there are no inhabitants, even there God's hand will lead him, His right hand of power will hold him (vv. 9-10). Or if he seeks the obscurity of darkness, this is not darkness to God, for light and darkness make no difference to Him. He is the Creator of darkness, just as He is of light. Though men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil, it is folly for them to try this means of hiding from God.

MANIFEST TO GOD (vv. 13-18)

Everything about every individual is perfectly known to God, for He formed even the inward parts or kidneys, as the original really is, sometimes called "reins" because of being in driving control. The kidneys filter impurities from the blood, just as we are responsible to filter out all that is inconsistent with truth. God has made us with this ability, whether or not we use it rightly. But from the womb of one's mother, God is active in forming the individual (v. 13), and this fact awakens the praise of the psalmist's heart, for he is "fearfully and wonderfully made." Indeed, every detail of the human body is amazing, so that we may well agree that we know this very well.

Certainly, one's frame was not hidden from God, for his Creator had acted in secret with marvelous skill "in the lowest parts of the earth' (v. 15). This may be a reference to Adam's being formed from the dust of the earth (Gen. 2:7). It certainly must have taken some skill to accomplish a matter like this! And the Lord knew perfectly the substance of every individual long before this formation took place. He did not have to experiment to find what may be successful, but in His book (of course figuratively) everything about the person was written down long before his being in existence. How little indeed can we understand such wisdom!

Well might the psalmist exclaim, "How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!" (v. 17). We know those thoughts only by His Word, and millions of people have been able to echo the psalmist's words since that time. Those thoughts are numberless, for they are like the sand. How could they possibly be counted? The very attempt to count them would put one to sleep; but even his sleep would not deprive him of the presence of the Lord (v. 18).

THE CREATURE FAILING AND AT ENMITY (vv. 19-24)

Abruptly the psalmist turns to consider the wicked, for though they have been made by God, just as were the righteous, they have turned willfully against Him, becoming His enemies. They have been a blot on the creation of God, and the writer calls to God for their destruction. We should not pray for God's judgment against enemies today, for we live in the day of grace, and we ought rather to pray for our enemies, that the Lord Jesus might so deal with them that they may be saved before it is necessary that the judgment of God overtakes them. But the time will come, after the present-day Church of God will be raptured into the presence of the Lord, when He comes for us, that it will be perfectly consistent with truth to ask for the destruction of God's enemies. At that time there will have been great numbers of precious souls awakened to put their faith in the Lord Jesus. They will not have a heavenly inheritance, but will be saved for earthly blessing in the millennium. The time of God's dreadful judgment will have arrived. Yet notice here that it is not for personal reasons the judgment is desired, but rather because these enemies are arrayed against God. They speak wickedly against Him (v. 20), and take His name in vain. God has dealt long and patiently with them, not being willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But they have resisted His pleadings, setting themselves in determined opposition to His gracious overtures.

It is for this reason that the psalmist hates them. It seems these enemies have gone beyond the point of even desiring any change, so that there is no alternative but judgment. When it is said, "I hate them with perfect hatred" (v. 22), does it not infer that the hatred has matured rightly? Since they are God's enemies, then the believer is expected to consider them his enemies also.

In fact, he is willing before God to have the motives of his heart searched out. Thus, the great difference between the believer and the unbeliever is clearly and definitely established, so that there can be no possibility of compromise between the two. This is good for the believer to consider. He does not trust his own knowledge of his heart, but honestly desires to have God search him and know his heart. He is glad to take sides with God in judging his thoughts and discerning if there is any wicked way in him. For he wants to be led in the way everlasting, making the present consistent with eternity.

Psalm 140

THE LORD ONLY SUFFICIENT

This psalm again returns to the consideration of the psalmist's testing by the adversity occasioned by wicked men. Why is this so often found? Is it not because such wicked enemies are a picture of the many attacks of evil principles against God's people? — and we must not be ignorant of Satan's devices.

PLEADING FOR GOD'S INTERVENTION (vv. 1-3)

David had many occasions in which he needed the hand of God to deliver him from evil men; and if we were watchful, we too would realize something of the many occasions when the enemy is attacking us by subtle suggestions, by insinuations, by efforts to make us afraid or discouraged. May the Lord give us grace to discern that these are not merely unpleasant or trying circumstances, but are designed by Satan to drag us from a path of simple faith by making us reason with ourselves as to the pros and cons of any situation we may be faced with. This rationalization is not faith. Thus, spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places (Eph. 6:12) are arrayed against us, and if we do not discern this, we are likely to be deceived by such subtle attacks. "They continually gather together for war" (v. 2), for evil spirits know how to unite their forces in such a way as to deceive us unless we have the Lord's presence as our protection. "They sharpen their tongues like a serpent," just as Satan used his sharp tongue in speaking to Eve in the garden of Eden (Gen. 3:1-5), with the deadly poison of asps underlying his words, and not perceived by Eve, so that she allowed the entrance of the poison of sin. Well might we be told here, "Selah," — pause and consider.

A PLEA FOR DELIVERANCE (vv. 4-7)

"Keep me,. O Lord" (v. 4). Keeping thus has its positive side, being kept in God's hand; then the negative, "from the hands of the wicked." And "preserve me" is similar. If we are preserved for Himself, we shall also be preserved from the violent enemies who are purposed to make our steps stumble. People who are proud are used by evil spirits to lay snares for the righteous, and cords by which to bind them to evil purposes (v. 5). Or they spread a net by the wayside. In this case, let the believer stay on the way, not turning to either the right or the left side. If we are watching, keeping near the Lord, we shall be given grace to avoid the enemy's traps. Thus verse 6 has in it preserving power, the psalmist recognizing the Lord as his God and expecting Him to hear his supplications. For God the Lord is the strength of his salvation, covering his head, as is seen in Ephesians 6;17, "Take the helmet of salvation," a true protection for the mind in the day of battle (v.7).

HOLINESS OPPOSING EVIL (vv. 8-10)

Then the psalmist asks nothing but what is consistent with the will of God, for certainly God will not grant the evil desires of the wicked, nor back him up in the schemes that are wicked. If the wicked can only get some backing, they will be exalted, which is most unseemly. While the head of the believer is covered by God„ "as for the head of those who surround me", the servant of the Lord, "let the evil of their lips cover them" (v. 9). The thoughts of their heart therefore will be exposed by the folly of their lips. But then the severe judgment of God is added to this, "Let burning coals fall upon them: let them be cast into the fire" (v. 10). The ultimate of this is the lake of fire, from which there is no release.

TESTED (vv. 11-13)

Thus, men are tested with serious and contrasting results. The slanderer and the violent man (v. 11), being discerned as against the Lord Jesus, slandering Him and acting in violence toward His servants, will certainly not be established in the earth, and there being no place in heaven for them, how devastating will be their overthrow! In great contrast, "I know the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and justice for the poor" (v. 12). Only these will stand the test, and will therefore give thanks to the Lord, claiming nothing as of themselves, yet "having all things." Wonderful indeed for them to dwell in God's presence forever!

Psalm 141

SEPARATION FROM EVIL MEN

This psalm contemplates the righteous, first willingly separating himself from the wicked (vv. 1-5), then having this separation confirmed by the intervening judgment of God (vv. 6-10).

THE FAITHFUL PLEADING (vv. 1-5)

David cries to the Lord to sustain him in his purpose to be preserved from the temptations of evil men (v. 1). He wants his prayer to be recognized by God as incense, that is, the genuine worship of a heart set on honoring God. This dependence would be as the evening sacrifice (v. 2). He was concerned also that his lips might be preserved from unwatchful failure, asking that God should set a guard over his mouth, for he did not trust himself to do this (v. 3). Deeper still, he is concerned that his heart might be kept from any inclination to succumb to evil, to practice wicked works with men who work iniquity. Such is his purpose not to be identified with such men in eating with them of that which was considered delicate, attractive food (v. 4).

Though the psalmist desires to be kept from the ways of evil men, yet on the other hand, he would not even object to the righteous striking him (v. 5). This was far better than the ungodly pampering him. For such faithfulness on the part of a godly person is actually kindness. A faithful rebuke is "an excellent oil." A believer ought always to be open to receiving reproof for his wrongs, though it is only the righteous who can administer this in any proper way. "Let my head not refuse it." Indeed, if we have done wrong in any way, we should welcome the faithfulness of a godly believer to reprove it. But his own failure does not change the fact that his prayer remains against the deeds of the wicked. Of course, our prayers should also include a true self-judgment of our own wrongs.

GOD SEPARATING BY JUDGMENT (vv. 6-10)

Verse 6 appears to make a difference between the wicked and their judges (or leaders), indicating a more violent judgment for the latter, and thus leading the wicked to at least listen to the psalmist's words, which are sweet in comparison to the words of leaders who have misled them. But verse 7 returns to consider the feelings of the remnant of Israel as the judgment of God is about to come to their rescue. They feel that their bones are scattered at the mouth of sheol. Of course, this is not literal, but it seems to them that God is virtually plowing up their souls, like the cultivating of the earth.

However, there is an answer, and the psalmist knows where his eyes should be, taking refuge in the Lord God, who will certainly not leave him destitute (v. 8). It is God only who will keep him from the snares laid for him by the wicked, and from the traps of the workers of iniquity. And God completes the separation by causing them to fall into their own nets, while the godly escape safely (v. 10), now totally separated from the ungodly.

Psalm 142

GOD THE REFUGE AND PORTION

This psalm is all prayer, voiced by David when in the cave, hiding from enemies. There are many such prayers in the psalms, for there are many occasions when believers are threatened by spiritual enemies. And certainly, it is wise to make our supplication to God (v. 1). If we have any reason to complain, let that complaint be poured out before the Lord, not before others who can do nothing about it anyway (v. 2). Times may come when the spirit is overwhelmed, but how good to have confidence in the perfect knowledge of the Lord as to all our pathway (v. 3). Enemies may secretly set a snare, but God sees this. The psalmist may look to the side to find no-one to help or even to acknowledge him. No refuge is found, no-one to care for his soul (v. 4).

While he makes such a complaint to the Lord, his faith overcomes his fear as he realizes that, as he says, "You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living" (v. 5) Not only does God protect him, but God Himself is the satisfying portion of his life. He really needs nothing else. This being so, he can only expect God to attend to his cry when he is brought low by the strong opposition of persecutors (v. 6). As he says, "They are stronger than I," but what actual difference does this make when God is his portion? The distress he suffered is typical of the deep trial of the godly remnant of Israel at the time of the great tribulation, which is felt to be the bondage of imprisonment. We know their prayer to be brought out will be fully answered by the God of all grace (v. 7). The result will be just as he says, "That I may praise Your name," while also, "the righteous shall surround me," and he will find God dealing bountifully with him. Before the deliverance, he was surrounded by enemies. What a change indeed to be surrounded by the righteous! Thus, the psalm ends with a clear note of assurance of God's preserving goodness.

Psalm 143

PLEADING BASED ON GOD'S RIGHTEOUSNESS

David here sets aside his own righteousness, and bases all his petition on the righteousness of God, so that there is no doubt as to the outcome, his own soul revived and his enemies destroyed.

HIS PETITION (vv. 1-2)

He earnestly entreats the attention of the Lord to his situation, not desiring any recognition of his own rights, but depending on God's faithfulness to answer him (v. 1). And he couples this with God's righteousness, not in reference to God's judgment of his personal condition, but of the attitude of his enemies both toward himself and toward God. In fact, he knew that if God made an issue of David's faults, there would be no hope for him, nor would there be hope for anyone living if put in such a position of judgment, for not one could be said to be righteous. While we do find believers in the Old Testament referred to as "the righteous," this refers only to what they are designated by God in view of their faith being counted as righteousness.

THE ENEMY OPPOSING (vv. 3-6)

Of course, the enemy will take every advantage of the failure of a believer to accuse and vilify him. But the enemy's attacks are far more sinful than are the failures of a believer on account of weakness. For Satan is given over to determined willful opposition to the truth of God and to the blessing of mankind. Wicked men seem not to discern this at all, for they persuade themselves that believers are even more immoral than they are! No doubt the psalmist is considering particularly how he feels because of the enemy's persecution, — his life being crushed to the ground and dwelling in darkness like those who have long been dead (v. 3), for of course this was not literal. He felt overwhelmed in his spirit (v. 4), being distressed in his heart.

"I remember the days of old" (v. 5) — of course days when he was not so oppressed and the works of the Lord in goodness toward him were evident. At least he could meditate on these, which were an encouragement even in his trial. Thus, he lifted his hands to God in leading. His circumstances were like those of a dried-up wilderness, so that his soul thirsted for God.

SEEKING REFUGE (vv. 7-10)

Because his spirit fails, he pleads with God to answer him speedily (v. 7). He evidently felt that God was hiding His face from him, and he did not want to be like those who go down to the pit. But we know that God was not hiding His face from him, though testing him by prolonging an answer. "Cause me to hear Your loving-kindness in the morning" (v. 8). This should be the desire of every believer as each day begins, though no doubt it has special application to the dawning of the millennial day, when Israel will find greatest joy in the loving-kindness of the Lord. The psalmist can depend on this, for, as he says, "in You I trust." But as well as having a heart delighting in the loving-kindness of the Lord, he asks that the Lord would cause him to know the way in which he should walk, — no doubt for the whole day he was now facing. Well might we ourselves echo such a prayer, for on our own we find ourselves helpless to discern and to walk in the way of true blessing, and it is good to lift up our soul to Him.

Certainly verse 9 will be fully answered by God when Israel cries to Him at the end of the tribulation period. God will indeed be a shelter. Then follows another similar prayer, "Teach me to do your will, for You are my God." The one objection to this is that we have wills of our own in which we have too much confidence. How we need the help of God to do His will! In principle, all true believers have submitted to God's will, but as to the details of life, it is another matter. His Spirit is good, so that we can depend on this, though even our own spirits may too easily deceive us. "The land of uprightness" no doubt refers to the land of millennial promise, when Israel inherits her proper possessions.

THE EXPERIENCE EXPECTED (vv. 11-12)

Though in the form of prayer, yet this is virtually a prophecy of Israel's great blessing as she enters the millennium. The remnant of Israel will be revived as never before, for the sake of the glory of God (v. 11). She will be fully brought out of the troubles that have seemed interminable, not because she deserves it, but because of God's righteousness in keeping His promise to bless her in her then repentant state. As to all who have opposed her, it will be mercy from God to cut them off (v. 12). What a relief from the constant enmity of many Gentile nations, when this is taken away by the intervening power of God! "For" the psalmist adds, "I am Your servant." This will be fully seen to be true throughout the thou-

sand years of peace.

Psalm 144

GOD, THE HELPER OF ISRAEL

As we near the end of the Book of Psalms, it is appropriate that the honor given the Lord should be increasing more and more, and this psalm shows Him as the all-sufficient answer to the need of His dependent people.

GREAT IN POWER AND MIGHT

David is no longer pleading for deliverance from enemies (except very briefly in verse 11), but celebrating the greatness and goodness of the Lord in His sufficient grace for all his need. He blesses the Lord, his "Rock," the solid foundation on which his faith rests. It is God who trains him for battle, just as He trains believers today in view of defeating the power of evil spirits who seek to deceive us. The "Rock" and loving-kindness are perfectly united in the person of our Lord, who is also our fortress, our high tower, exalted above the level of enemies, and our shield, our protection against all adversity. How well it is that we take refuge in Him! Yet the end of this verse, "who subdues My people under Me" shows that it applies to the Lord Jesus as the Man of God's choice, depending on God for His overruling power and grace.

But the question is a striking one; "Lord, what is man that you take knowledge of him? or the son of man that You are mindful of him?" (v. 3). Man is so insignificant a being that millions of men can be dispensed with in a very short time, as the flood of Noah bears witness; yet it is a marvelous fact that the Lord of glory has become Man, and indeed "the Son of Man." So, though Adam and his descendants are of little account, the Lord Jesus, the Son of Man, is infinitely higher than all other men, the sovereign Ruler under whom His people are subdued.

Verse 3 has asked, "What is man?" Now verse 4 answers, "Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow," — for this is again considering mankind generally, not a striking representative, as is portrayed in Christ Jesus.

DELIVERANCE SOUGHT AND FOUND (vv. 5-10)

"Bow down Your heavens, O Lord, and come down!" (v. 5). This is both a prayer and a prophecy. Bowing the heavens and coming down is perfectly true of the Son of God who once came in gracious childhood. But this is prophetic too of His coming down to Israel in the time of their deepest need, coming in judgment against their enemies, touching the mountains (typical of higher authorities), causing them to smoke, flashing like lightning to scatter them, bringing destruction by the arrows of His swift judgment. He will stretch out His hand from high above to deliver Israel from the waters of the "overflowing scourge" (Isa. 28:18) that will sweep from north to south at the time of the end. Thus "foreigners" will be exposed, their words false and even their right hand displaying that falsehood (vv. 7-8).

Israel's deliverance, will awaken "a new song" with "a harp of ten strings," the full and overflowing range of the octave. What a contrast to the distress of being persecuted! For God gives salvation to kings, and especially to David His servant, the clear type of Christ (vv. 9-10).

THEIR INHERITANCE POSSESSED (v. 11-15)

This is still prophetic, as the psalmist asks for deliverance from the hand of foreigners (v. 11), practically a repetition of verses 7 and 8. But it is the issue that is particularly emphasized in verses 12 to 15, the great, abundant blessing furnished them in the millennium. Their sons will be as plants grown up in their youth, well developed while still young; their daughters not wanderers, but as pillars, stable and solid, a credit to proper family life, "sculptured in palace style," that is, wrought upon by the forming power of the Spirit of God to be fit as residences for the King (v. 12).

Their barns will be full, the Lord having caused consistently prosperous crops (v. 13), typical of the spiritual abundance with which the Lord blesses His people today, as is true also of the sheep producing by thousands, that is, the fruitfulness of the gospel, bringing thousands of souls to a knowledge of salvation in Christ. Oxen speak of those who labor for the Lord, bearing their burdens well, to protect against any "breaking in or going out" (v. 14. Those who would break in are enemies trying to enter in among believers to damage their testimony. But those who will be within at that time will be preserved from "going out," though today there are those who seem to be the Lord's yet manifest their falsehood by "going out" (see 1 John 2:19). Also, today it seems that constantly we witness outcries in our streets, protesting against almost everything, but what a relief in the millennium, when there will be no outcry in the streets.: "Happy are the people who are in such a state".

Psalm 145

This psalm looks forward to the great joy of the millennium, and is alphabetic, each verse in the original beginning with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, though one of these is omitted for divinely wise reasons. The speaker here is very likely the Lord Jesus, who leads the praises of His people (Ps. 22:25).

THE POWER OF GOD (vv. 1-7)

The praise awakened here is not like that of many who may have been sincere, but could not sustain such praise "forever and ever." If the Lord Jesus speaks as Man, He gives God the place of King, though this does not affect the fact that the Lord Jesus will reign as King, for He is "Lord of lords and King of kings" (Rev,.19:16). Yet in 1 Timothy 6:15-16 it is God as such spoken of as "King of kings and Lord of lords," so that the Lord Jesus, when He reigns as King will rightly say, "I will extol You, my God, O King (v. 1). Through every day of the millennium this will be true. It will be universally recognized then that "Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised," and in fact it will be so impressive that the conviction will be brought home to many at last that His greatness is unsearchable. Of course, believers know this now, but it will be publicly known then.

Every generation then will praise the works of the Lord, each passing it on to the succeeding generation, willingly declaring God's mighty acts (v. 4). Then the psalmist personally says he will meditate on the glorious splendor of God's majesty and on His wondrous works. If this is true of Christ personally in that great day, it is surely as the Representative of His people that He speaks.

Others however are said to speak of the might of God's awesome acts (v.6), while He declares God's greatness. While men may recognize and speak of what the Lord does, only Christ can rightly declare the actual personal greatness of God. Then His people unitedly shall utter the memory of His great goodness (v.7), that is, they will well remember the great goodness of God in the way He has dealt with them in bringing them out of the tribulation and establishing them in millennial blessing.

THE LOVING-KINDNESS OF GOD (vv. 8-13)

But the power of God does not in any way lessen His loving-kindness. He remains marvelously gracious and full of compassion. Indeed, Israel's history has shown this, and it will be wonderfully manifest to them in their entering their promised thousand years of peace. They will recall their past history in which God has been "slow to anger and great in mercy" (v. 8). His goodness will be manifest to all (not only Israel), and certainly if any refuse Him they are refusing His goodness. On His part, "His tender mercies are over all His works" (v. 9). If men refuse this, they are choosing their own doom.

Verse 10 speaks directly to the Lord, "All Your works shall praise You, O Lord, and Your saints shall bless You." The fact is true that His works praise Him, and the response from saints is consistent with this fact. But only saints are included in this blessing. They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom, and talk of Your power (v. 11). Of course, this is only to be expected when they witness the glory of His kingdom. No doubt it is the saints of Israel specially referred to who will bear witness to "the sons of men" (others outside Israel) of the mighty acts of God and the glorious majesty of His kingdom (v. 12). Nor will they confine their thoughts of the kingdom of God to the millennium, but recognize that God's kingdom has been operative all through the history of the ages, for it is an everlasting kingdom, though found in a different form than that manifested in the millennium (v. 13).

GOD THE RESTORER (vv. 14-21)

Since God is both powerful and gracious, He exercises this power and grace in upholding, raising up and restoring those who fall and are bowed down (v. 14). So that all those who look expectantly to Him, however helpless in themselves, will find Him faithful in providing their food at the time of need (v. 15). It will be most manifest in that coming day that God opens His hand to satisfy the desire of every living thing, which of course means humans, animals, birds, fish and insects. (v.16). Thus, the millennium will be overflowing with abundance.

Nor will God compromise righteousness in thus meeting His creatures' needs, though they are undeserving of this consideration. For the cross of Christ has wonderfully established His righteousness as united to the grace of His great heart. Of course, Israel did not know anything about the cross at the time this was written, but God did. Thus, He is perfectly justified in fulfilling the desire of those who fear Him (v. 19), hearing their cry and saving them. Thus, He will preserve all who love Him for the blessing of the thousand years of peace. No longer then will grace be offered to the wicked, but destruction will be justly meted out (v. 20).

The blessed result is seen then in the Lord Jesus speaking the praise of the Lord, leading the praises of "all flesh" to bless God's holy name forever and ever (v. 21).

Psalm 146

HONORING THE MIGHTY ONE

The last five psalms now all begin with "Praise the Lord," a fitting conclusion to a book that has addressed the deepest needs of souls, drawing out the innermost feelings and providing the answer to every personal need. This psalm first celebrates the greatness of the power of God in His creatorial majesty and His tender care for His creatures.

HE HIMSELF (vv. 1-2)

The Living God is on the throne, worthy of the unceasing praise of all creation, including that of each individual believer, as the psalmist says, "0 my soul"(v. 1). "While I live, I will praise the Lord" (v. 2). How long is this? Believers will live for all the thousand years of the millennium. And such praise will go beyond this, into eternity, and the heavenly company will join.

HIS HELP CONTRASTED TO MEN'S (vv. 3-10)

No matter how dignified or capable may be the princes (or rulers) in Israel, the nation is warned not to put their trust in them, nor in any individual, who will be merely "a son of man," no better than his fathers were. As such, he will come to an end on earth, his spirit departing, so that all his plans will perish (v. 4). How different than the one "Son of Man," who died and rose again He who is Himself "the God of Jacob!"

Therefore, how happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, for he will know Him as his own God, placing his hope entirely in Him, whom he knows is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea with all its inhabitants, — He who keeps truth forever (v. 6). This will be fully displayed in the millennium, as it will be seen then that He has executed justice for the oppressed and provided food for the hungry, as also liberty to the prisoners (v. 7).

Though Israel has for centuries been blinded to the truth concerning their Messiah, He Himself will open their eyes; and those bowed down in a state of deep depression He will raise up, for He loves the righteous (v. 8) More than this, He watches over the strangers (evidently Gentiles), and relieves the fatherless and widows, while turning the way of the wicked upside down (v. 9). Wonderful therefore is the conclusion, "the Lord shall reign forever — Your God, O Zion, to all generations." And the millennium will end just as it began, — "Praise the Lord."

Psalm 147

IN RELATION TO HIS PEOPLE

Again, as so often before, the Lord confirms the reality of His loving relationship with Israel, that relationship which remains beautifully throughout the thousand years of peace.

THE LORD HIMSELF (vv. 1-6)

Well might we praise the Lord, "for it is good to sing praises to our God." Thus, Israel knows the Lord Jesus as their own God, though they had long refused Him because of His claim to be equal with God. Now the pleasantness and beauty of praise to Him is deeply impressed on their hearts. He builds up Jerusalem, gathering together the outcasts of Israel, healing the broken hearted and binding up their wounds (vv. 2-3). He has indeed come near to them in His tender compassion, nevermore to leave them.

"He counts the number of the stars, and calls them all by name." Stars are typical of the great number of humans who are destined for a heavenly inheritance (Heb. 11:12). Even today the Lord calls His own by name! (John 10:3). He is great indeed and mighty in power! (v. 4).

His understanding is infinite — absolutely unlimited. Our own understanding is so greatly limited that we cannot understand how it is possible to have an unlimited understanding. Yet if we take our place of nothingness before God, bowing down to the dust, He most graciously lifts us up (v. 5) In contrast, those who want to exalt themselves in wicked contempt for God, He will cast down to the ground (v. 6).

FINDING PLEASURE IN HIS OWN (vv. 7-11)

Singing to the Lord with thanksgiving is a normal and good response to His grace. The harp is mentioned here also, its ten strings giving a full range of harmony that is free to express itself in adoration of the Lord. If He covers the heavens with clouds, it is in order to prepare rain for the benefit of the earth, even making grass to grow on the mountains, where it may be of no benefit to man, but He cares for animals too, providing food for them. The young ravens may seem of no significance to us, but He cares for them also (v. 9).

Men may take pleasure in the strength of a horse, specially a war horse, but that strength is no pleasure to God, nor in fact does He place any confidence in the strength of a man's legs. But he does take pleasure in the faith of every person who renders Him the reverential fear of his heart, and thus expresses the believing anticipation (or hope) of His mercy.

PRESERVING JERUSALEM IN SEPARATION (vv. 12-14)

Jerusalem is bidden to praise the Lord. What a change for that city that today is "spiritually called Sodom and Egypt" (Rev. 11:8), and is attacked bitterly and incessantly by nearby enemies. Realizing eventually that the Lord Jesus is both their Lord and their God (v. 12), they will have found the bars of their gates strengthened and their children blessed in the security of a safe haven. Here is true,

precious separation to God from the previous depredation of enemies. The continual pressure of hatred and warfare is gone forever, exchanged for peace within their borders, and the finest wheat given them.

THE EARTH SUBJECT TO HIM (vv. 15-18)

The Lord speaks to the earth with firm decision, and it submits to His working. Snow is said to be like wool, a covering to keep the earth warm when cold weather comes (v. 16). If frost is called for, He provides it, or hail, at a time when He sees fit. He can give such cold that no-one can stand before it (v. 17). Just as simply, He can by His Word melt snow and hail, the wind aiding this to cause waters to flow. Similarly, He can harden the hearts of those who harden themselves against Him, then can melt them down by His great love.

ISRAEL WITH HIM (vv. 19-20)

But the truth of God's Word is particularly declared to Jacob, a weak, undeserving creature of dust. God's statutes and judgments are declared to the same nation, but called, by grace, Israel, "a prince with God." Yet it is made clear that she is in a most favored position, for God has not dealt with any other nation as He has with her; and His judgments have been made known to them as to no others (v. 20). "Praise the Lord!"

Psalm 148

FULLEST PRAISE OF HEAVEN AND EARTH

Praise continues to increase and resound, which will culminate in Psalm 150; but every sphere is to be involved in this glad harmony of thankful praise to God, seen in the coming day of glory.

THE HIGHER SPHERE (vv. 1-6)

The heavens and the heaven of heavens are spoken of here, for heaven will be greatly rejoicing over the blessing of the renewed earth. Angels will join in this spontaneous praise, then all the hosts of heaven, including sun, moon and stars, the number of which is beyond our comprehension. "The waters above the heavens" are no doubt those spoken of in Genesis 1:7, when God called the firmament "heaven," that is, the heaven that is in close proximity to the earth, the atmospheric heaven.

Though these are not intelligent creations of God, yet they are His creation, and the very fact of this creation is material for praise to God. "He commanded and they were created" And not only is His creatorial power celebrated, but His establishing and sustaining power that keeps them "forever and ever' (v. 6). His decree can never fail.

THE LOWER SPHERE (vv. 7-12)

The earth now is called upon to praise the Lord. It may seem strange that great sea creatures are first summoned, life that is so largely hidden from man's view, yet which is far more abundant than all the inhabitants of the land. "All the depths" is added here, intimating that there are depths beyond our observation or even our own understanding that call for praise to the Lord (v. 7). Verses 8 and

9 also consider conditions that are not in themselves intelligent, but which nevertheless affect mankind remarkably, — fire and hail, no doubt the fire of lightning primarily; snow and clouds, actually amazing creations of God, and stormy wind sent at certain times to fulfill the Word of God. Then mountains and all hills, everyone fulfilling its function as God directs. All of these creations will be seen to magnify the name of the Lord Jesus when He establishes His millennial kingdom.

Following this the animals of the earth will praise Him though unintelligently, this even including creeping things and flying fowl, things created before man was (v. 10). But if those things praise Him, what of mankind? Great numbers today refuse to give honor to their Creator, but "kings of the earth" are then called upon to do so, "and all peoples," including princes, those in places of dignity, and judges, those in authority; but not excluding any, for "young men and maidens, old men and children" are no less bidden to join in this great symphony of praise to the living God.

PRAISE TO HIM WHO IS WORTHY (vv. 13-14)

All who have before been exalted are brought down to nothing, that the Lord alone should be exalted, He is worthy of the fullest praise of all creation. His glory in connection with the heaven and then the earth has been emphasized in this chapter, since that glory is seen "above the earth and heaven." This is prophetic of the millennium., and linked with this ascription of praise to Him is the exaltation of "the horn of His people," the horn speaking of power now communicated to His saints, particularly the children of Israel, "a people near to Him." Can any place be more precious than this?

Psalm 149

THE SUBDUING OF THE NATIONS

This psalm again begins with praise to the Lord for the grace of God to His people Israel, then ends with the people subduing the nations by judgment.

MAKER AND KING (vv. 1-2)

Praise is to take the form of a new song, completely new in a world whose songs have been anything but true praise to God. It is true in "the assembly of the saints" now, if we consider the assembly to be "the Church of the living God"; but it will only be true publicly as such when the Lord Jesus reigns as King, For only then will Israel rejoice in their Maker", recognizing Him as both Creator and King, that is, the Lord Jesus (v. 2).

SAVIOR (vv. 3-4)

Beautifully, however, added to His creatorial power and His supreme authority is the wonder of His saving grace. The dance, the timbrel and harp are used to accompany the song of praise. "For the Lord takes pleasure in His people: He will beautify the humble with salvation" (v. 4). This salvation is not just deliverance from enemies, but investing His own with pure beauty.

EVIL FULLY JUDGED (vv. 5-9)

The joy of the saints will not be clouded by the necessity of evil being judged, rather, evil having already been judged, will be cause for deeper joy. Saints will be joyful in glory, and will sing on their beds, in rest and relaxation. The high praises of God will be in their mouth and a two-edged sword in their hand (v. 6). These may sound contrary to one another, especially for Christians, who at present are to love their enemies, but in the final analysis of the matter, the praise of God and the judgment of evil will be fully consistent.

Believers then will altogether take sides with God in executing vengeance on the nations (v. 7), with punishment in perfect accord with justice. Kings and nobles will be bound with chains in contrast to their present exaltation by unbelieving activities (v, 8). The judgment is actually that of God, but the saints will be used by God to execute the judgment written, according to God's written Word. "All His saints" at that time will be given this honor of executing judgment, with no abatement in their praise to the Lord (v. 9).

Psalm 150

RESOUNDING, ETERNAL PRAISE

Every verse in this psalm gives praise to the Lord more than once, thus the book of Psalms closes with overflowing praise, no suggestion of need or of trial now, for all creation will join in adoration of the One who alone is worthy.

After the introductory "Praise the Lord," then we are told to do so in His sanctuary. There will be an earthly sanctuary then (the temple) and a heavenly sanctuary, where the Church is gathered, with all heavenly saints. Verses 3, 4 and 5 then emphasize the accompaniments of that praise, the trumpet, lute and harp, timbrel and dance, stringed instruments and flutes' loud cymbals and clashing cymbals, all speaking of genuine spiritual worship in various ways. "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord."

THE END.