Thoughts on Psalms 1 & 2.

1888 35 It was an important question put by Philip to the eunuch, "Understandest thou what thou readest?" And the eunuch's answer was not less solemn, "How can I except some man should guide me?" It was an acknowledgment of incompetency to understand without a teacher, a quasi-confession of the great fact, whatever may be the vain boasting of human learning, that the unassisted mind of man is totally inadequate to apprehend the truth of God.

The truth is the declaration of God's will and power, first as Creator and Ruler, then of His mind, yea of Himself; the Son being the expression of it when He became flesh. But this makes known the truth about man — "without strength." God has used human words, and His wisdom has shaped them to convey His meaning. We recognise the vehicle, it is our common speech. The words are of every-day use and employed about earthly things. God has used them for heavenly things, and this use exalts human language to the highest place among earthly gifts. Was not language formed for this purpose specially, that man might know and be a channel for the truth?

But none can understand the divine things spoken of save as guided by the great and only teacher — the Holy Spirit. This was the eunuch's difficulty; Philip was the Spirit's chosen instrument for teaching him.

A great part of the Bible is a record of facts, but not merely a record. And because it is more than a narrative of facts, the history is momentous and all-important. For each event has an import only revealed in the light of Christ. Every thing in that book is in connection with Him, "and without Him was not any thing made that was made." By His Spirit He preached to the disobedient in the days of Noah. He is the Anointed King of Israel, and the Head of the church; and these comprise His rejection and exaltation, His sufferings and glory. Spiritual things are contained therein to be discerned only by the spiritual. As mere history, the record is most interesting, and the natural mind can in some degree appreciate it — save where infidelity and the base corruption of the world have vitiated its perceptive power. A man whose mind has not been thus degraded will, though unconverted, admit the historical accuracy of the Bible, and in measure may apprehend the righteous government of God in Israel; if educated in the literature of the world, he may speak glowingly of the beauties of Hebrew poetry, of the fervour and sublimity of the prophetic writings; but he has no capacity to go beyond the mere letter. Not even the believer, though the babe has an unction from the holy One to know all things, can reach the hidden but intended meaning and instruction to be conveyed in the least fact or circumstance by his own unaided mind, but only as he is taught of God; and no one is savingly taught of God without being born of God. As born of God he can receive instruction, but there must also be the teaching of the Holy Spirit. Not everywhere does the full meaning of the written word lie wholly on the surface (save the glad tidings to the lost, where he that runs may read). The eye must be opened by grace to see beneath. It may be only a simple relation of an apparently unimportant event; but in every circumstance there is an earthly vessel containing a heavenly truth. Our discernment of it is another matter, but the portraiture of divine truth in human frames is characteristic of God's book, and is very observable in the Old Testament. Let us never forget that it is God's relation of events on the earth which are overruled by Him, and written not because it was history, but because it is intended to convey to the church the treasures of His wisdom and grace. The whole together is the revelation of God's thoughts about Christ, and we need like the eunuch some one to guide us. In short, to understand the divine word we need a divine Teacher.

This is nowhere felt more than in reading the Psalms. Their great theme is the First-Begotten, the rejected King in conflict with the enemy; first suffering, then conquering; suffering because Ho would be joined to the godly remnant of Israel, who also are victors at the end because they are joined to Him. We have the psalms of David, of Asaph, and of others, written no doubt at various times, but all arranged in divine order, as well as each one inspired by the Holy Spirit, to set forth the experiences of Him who went through them all as a man here below.

A human application of them has led saints in this period of grace to take the sword and go armed into battle; not seeing the Lord's meaning when He said, if a man had no sword let him sell his garment and buy one. The disciples misunderstood and foolishly boasted of having two swords. Was not the Lord's meaning plain when He said, "It is enough?" If our warfare were with flesh and blood, would two swords be enough? Nay, the weapons of our warfare are not carnal. Not the material sword to resist the world, but an intimation that the sword of the world would be unsheathed against them, a warning from the Lord that they would have to meet the world's fiercest enmity. Peter failed to see, and in the garden used the sword of which he boasted against the high priest's servant. The Lord then spoke plainer, "Put up thy sword," and at once healed the servant's ear. Thus He rebuked by word and deed the fleshly impulse of Peter. Alas! how many saints notwithstanding the teaching of the Lord have followed not His teaching but Peter's example. And we are all exposed to the danger, the folly of going down to Egypt for help, of trusting in an arm of flesh.

Righteous judgment upon the wicked, the enemy, and ultimate deliverance and triumph of the godly, is the burden of the Psalms. The godly, however, pass through great suffering before the day of triumph comes. While they wait for their victory, another and different warfare is now waged, it is carried on with different weapons. In rebuking Peter the Lord was disclosing a new principle, which was henceforward, during the day of grace, to guide the spirit and mark the conduct of those who bear His name. In the Psalms the sword is not "put up"; it is invoked and held over the head of all enemies, and this according to the will and purpose of God. While waiting, the Psalms record the exercises of a godly man suffering from the power of the wicked, and patiently enduring till the day of triumph. To these sufferers it was never said, "that ye resist not evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also" (Matt. 5:39). And again, "they that take the sword shall perish with the sword" (Matt. 26:52). Their warfare is with flesh and blood. Mingled with their cries of distress are the words of unwavering faith and confidence in God while calling upon Him to take vengeance upon the oppressor, which is not the Spirit of grace teaching us to love our enemies, save the pious expressions of dependence upon God, and the assurance of His mercy, and of ultimate deliverance, which saints of God can use at all times. We feel that the Psalmist is not on christian ground. The invocation of judgment is not christian prayer, and to rejoice in the destruction of human enemies is not christian feeling. The Psalms contemplate an aspect of God towards the ungodly different from that which is being declared in the gospel, now that He is not judging, but calling sinners to repentance and saving all who believe. "For God sent not His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him." Almost the latest words of the Lord upon the cross give the character of this current time, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Stephen, the first martyr, if his be not the first christian death, echoes with his dying breath the prayer of his Lord and Master, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." Grace and love are the characteristics of saints now, such as we do not find in the Psalms. It is clear then that, while we can legitimately and profitably use largely the words of piety and faith found in them, as a whole the psalms are not expressions of christian standing or of our proper hope. They are for the special use of another family of God, whose proper experiences will be in harmony with the dealings of God when He is judging the earth, as ours are, or should be now, in this day of sovereign grace, during which He is not judging, but calling out a heavenly people.

"Blessed is the man." This MAN all through the Psalms is ever foremost in the mind of the Holy Spirit. He, though joined with the godly remnant in all their sorrows and afflictions, Who supplies them with words of true confession and of prayer suited to their circumstances, yet stands apart from them in the purity of His life, in the absolute holiness of His Person. And the wonderful truth seen in the Psalms is the place He took in His perfect integrity in the midst of a remnant, who, though morally separate from the ungodly of the nation, yet in themselves were obnoxious to divine judgments. We may say — Who is He? — not that we are ignorant of Him, but in wonder that this Perfect Man could and would identify Himself with a sinful, though sorrowing and repentant remnant. He is the perfect, but meek and lowly, Man of Nazareth.

When He at His baptism entered publicly into relationship with them, John the Baptist seemed surprised. "Comest Thou to me?" Taught of God the Baptist knew that He was no mere man; but not till He came up out of the water, and the Holy Spirit like a dove was seen descending from heaven and abiding upon Him, did John know that "The same is He that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost." Then John owned Him to be the Son of God. By His baptism, He before God, and in the sight of Israel, associated Himself with those who went into the Jordan confessing their sins. No wonder that the Baptist was astonished at His taking such a place and choosing such companions. But He came to take this place. "Suffer it to be so now" — an answer which, while pointing to the righteous necessity of His being there, expresses His grace and His humiliation, but withal the consciousness of His own dignity.

"Now," it was the hour when Israel's Messiah appeared among them, the first public step for their re-establishment in the earth according to the counsels of God in righteousness. This their special blessing is now delayed because Israel rejected Him, and a yet greater purpose is being carried out, which being fulfilled, Israel will come again to the front, and Jehovah will make a short work in righteousness.

But there is more than grace in Christ their Messiah thus joining Himself with sinners confessing their sins in the waters of the Jordan. "For thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness." Divine justice could not otherwise be vindicated. In grace He had to take their place and to bear their judgment. To be a propitiation for the sin of the world, to meet the case of the outcast Gentile, did not necessitate His association with those who were baptised in the Jordan confessing their sins. To Israel it was necessary, for they had broken the law whose claims could not be set aside; the judgment must take its course. And if judgment upon the guilty had been the only question, there would have been no need for the advent of Christ. Judgment like the deluge upon the antediluvians would have swept them all away. But there was a prior question; there were promises which were before the law and could be no more set aside than the law. If Israel alone had to pay the penalty of the broken law, who could inherit the promises? On the other hand, if they were put in possession of the promised blessings, ignoring the law, what becomes of the judgments and righteous character of God? God provided a MAN Who could reconcile, and has reconciled the claims of promise and of law; Who even as to His human birth and genealogy was the only One Who could legally and righteously occupy the place of representative. He is the rightful heir of David's throne, and the king was the governmental link between God and Israel. He only could morally and divinely bear the penalty and judgment of God's law, but Who also could win back the forfeited promises, and establish them in a better form and on fuller ground than before appeared, or was possible. To do this was the counsel of mercy and peace; but the way of doing it was in fulfilling all righteousness, not merely submitting to the claims of a broken law, but establishing the truth of God. He who represented Israel (the remnant) went into their position, even into the Jordan, subsequently took their infirmities and bore their diseases (Matt. 8 compared with Isa. 53), and ultimately bore their stripes and their sins in His own body on the tree, that through Him all their promised blessings might be assured, while at the same time God was taking vengeance upon them for their iniquity and rebellion. To cast down after lifting up their king (as it were, God breaking the kingly link between Himself and Israel) was judicial dealing on the nation. He the rightful King was cast down, and cut off from His inheritance as Son of David (for a time); under the righteous government of God He had nothing, though the Heir of all things.

He Who suffered all this alone fills up the ideal of the blessed Man of the first Psalm; yet for higher reasons enjoyed none of the promised stability and blessedness — in fact, none in more marked contrast.

1888 51 His was a lonely and a despised path. All through it He was bearing Israel's strokes, not making atonement; that was only on the cross when He made His soul an offering for sin. On the cross were the heaviest strokes surely, but there was atonement also, there was blood-shedding which gives a vicarious, a substitutory value (we may say) to all that He then endured for Israel. The healing power of the stripes is because His blood was shed. He died under the claims of a broken law, and thus declared the inexorable justice of God; in His death He was fulfilling righteousness and establishing truth. But it is His blood that brings redemption (Eph. 1:7). Christ had died having been made sin, and from a dead Christ the atoning blood flows. The soldiers saw that He was dead, but one of them pierced His side and the precious blood flowed, without which there could be no remission. As on the passover night, not the dead lamb within but the blood without was the salvation of Israel. His blood was shed for the purposes of grace. His death was the completing of that righteousness of which His baptism was the initiation.*

Precious blood! What makes His blood so precious to God? Is it because He was that holy thing born of the Virgin? Because He was that perfect blessed Man, who always, day and night, meditated in the law of God? Who always did the things that pleased His Father? Yea, it is precious because He, the spotless One, was made sin, and bore the full weight of God's wrath against sin even to death, He paid the full penalty and glorified God. The offering was accomplished, He had dismissed His soul. The law can demand nothing after death; and the redeeming blood flowed not from a dying Christ, but from a dead Christ. The vindication of righteousness, the honour of God's law, was proclaimed by the cross, and could not be added to when He died.* The blood was shed after that. It is the blood of Him who thus glorified God, therefore it is precious to Him. It is precious to God because He can now remit sin and righteously forgive. Christ is the wisdom and the power of God, as well as the infinite expression of His love.

[*God's righteousness in justifying us who believe, and in exalting Christ to His own right hand, with its blessed results for us, is not forgotten of course.]

To return to our Psalm; it speaks not of His divine glory as Son of God, nor of His official glory as King of Israel — that is in the second psalm — but His own personal character, of moral glory as the perfect Man. "Blessed is the Man." Yea, blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven; and believers in Christ know that this blessedness is of a higher character than what we could have had in creation purity as Adam before he sinned. It is more blessed to be joined by the Spirit to Christ, than to have been maintained in Adamic innocence and goodness. It is this superior blessedness that led Paul, with his eye fixed upon the immense fact, that believers had died with Christ and were risen with Him, so that in the power of resurrection life we might live to God after a holier sort than an innocent but unredeemed man could know — that led him to thank God that we, having been the slaves of sin, had now obeyed from the heart the form of teaching into which we were instructed (Rom. 6).

But this Man of the first Psalm is perfection and needed no forgiveness. His blessedness is peculiar to Himself. His is not the innocence of the first Adam, who (as created) knew no evil, but the perfection of the last Adam, Who in divine purity lived in the midst of sinners, and delighted in the law with cognizance of all and condemned sin. He meditates in the law day and night, no intermission, uninterrupted communion with God in His law. The law implies the presence of sinners; the law is not made for the righteous. This perfect Man is in the midst of sinners, and alone among them. When the Lord was here, there were a very few who clave to Him. In our Psalm He alone is looked at till we come to the last verse. All others were walking in the counsel of the ungodly, standing in the way of sinners, sitting in the seat of the scornful. It was on their account that law was there. He does not ignore the law because it could not touch Him — had nothing to say to Him as it had to all others; He delights in it. To other men it imposed a check, placing a barrier against their wills. To Him it is the expression of God's will as to what a man should be, and He, both in nature and in life, fully answers to it, and finds joy in it. Yea, it is the expression of His own will, in perfect accord with the will of God.

This perfect Man is not in heaven contemplating the divine attributes, nor is it the enjoyment of the works of God in the peaceful garden of Eden, but He is in the midst of sinners, surrounded with evil, yet delighting in the law which pronounces the judgment of God upon sinful men. These are the circumstances in which the perfect Man is found. All outside Himself is imperfect and evil, He alone walking in perfect obedience. We hear the same perfect wondrous Man in the Gospel, "I do always the things that are pleasing to Him" (John 8:29). Consider Him in the midst of evil: how unlike the first man, who with everything in his favour failed at the first testing, and entailed death upon his race, sin, death, and judgment, the heirloom of his family.

This blessed Man will have His reward. "He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf shall not wither and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." As man He receives this reward. And we may notice here that the remnant (just named in the last verse) have the same character of blessing though He alone in its fulness; and indeed their blessing is given to them for altogether a different reason, as Jeremiah declares (Jer. 17:7-8), "Blessed is the man that trusts in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreads out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat comes, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought neither shall cease from yielding fruit." This looks onward to millennial peace and joy. Israel restored will enter into the joy of their King, their prosperity will take its colour from His joy. The land itself shares in blessing described in the same way, no doubt if a figure for man, it is literal for the land, "And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed; it shall bring forth new fruit according to its months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary; and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine" (Ezek. 47). When men and the land are so blessed, then will the tree of the first Psalm flourish. It is His portion as the perfect Man, theirs as those who trust in Him.

"The ungodly are not so." Nebuchadnezzar on the throne was a tree (see Dan. 4:22), but his leaf faded. For a brief moment prosperity shone upon him; where is he now and his glory? "But are like the chaff which the wind driveth away." Alas! it is the ungodly in Israel the Psalm speaks of, and the prophet Hosea (Hosea 13:3) pronounces the same judgment upon Ephraim, "Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud, and as the early dew that passeth away, as the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney."

The day is coming when He shall flourish as the tree, and the chaff be driven away by fiercer winds than the ungodly have yet known. What day is that? Not that day when the dead shall stand before the great white throne, but when Christ comes to judge the living. Its commencement will be when He appears with His saints, and will continue till the wicked are consumed from off the land, for they "shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous." The Psalm goes beyond this judgment and gives a glimpse of the godly remnant who will then be the congregation of the righteous. "All thy children shall be taught of Jehovah" (see Isa. 54:13-14, also Isa. 65:20). No sinner shall endure among them. At that time the "Blessed Man" will have the joys and prosperity described under the figure of the tree planted by the rivers of water.

The flourishing tree of this Psalm is no symbol of the gospel in its dispensational aspect. For the preacher now, like the prophet of old, may indeed cry, "Who hath believed our report?" Christendom outwardly receives, virtually denies, the gospel. Christendom as read in its most popular writers teaches "another gospel which is not another." Its doom is near, its last stage is being developed, whose features are becoming plainer with awful rapidity. And then "I will spue thee out of my mouth." Neither the worldly spreading of the christian name nor the saving power of Christ's name in the hearts of believers are referred to in this Psalm by the flourishing tree, but the earthly glory of Christ when the earth is purged (Matt. 13:41-43).

Three classes are before us in this Psalm. The perfect Man, the ungodly, and the righteous. In the first there could be but One. His perfection is intrinsic, and is in absolute contrast with the ungodly. Then the righteous, the associates of the perfect and blessed Man. These have a relative righteousness, and He calls them the excellent of the earth, in whom He delights (Ps. 16:3). These will rejoice in the day when the "tree" shall flourish, and will share in His prosperity. These take their character from Him. He is the "tree" whose leaf never fades; they are, through their association with Him, "trees" of righteousness. And when they are established in the land and have become a nation, they too will delight in the law of God. The clean water will have been sprinkled, the new heart will have been given (Ezek. 36). For then will have come the acceptable year of Jehovah, "that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of Jehovah, that He might be glorified."

Grace has given us a better portion; yet it is not less grace that will thus exalt Israel in the coming day. As the prophet said and the apostle repeated, "And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." Not so the perfect MAN. He needed no grace, He never failed. And looking at the demands of law and of government, which being God's government must be according to inflexible justice, none but He could be entitled to the full blessedness of the first Psalm. He delighted in the law, and God delighted in Him.

Where is a more striking contrast between the prosperity of the righteous and the destruction of the ungodly than the stable tree and the driven chaff? Eternal doom is not the thought here though it does lead our thoughts on to it. The final triumph of righteousness and the putting down of all ungodliness for the earth is the theme of these two Psalms, and declares the righteousness of God in government. Hence grace as proclaimed in the gospel is not found here. No call to repentance (Ps. 2:10 is rather a warning), no promise of forgiveness to the guilty on his confession, nor of restoration to a failing saint. Righteousness and reward are linked together, so also are ungodliness and judgment. Man's probationary term had not yet expired, he was not yet proved to be lost and dead, and therefore the time was not yet come for the fullest display of grace. Man's utter ruin and God's richest grace are revealed together. Two great facts, the second death and eternal life. The law contemplates neither. It tested man declaring what he should be and making bare what he is; it therefore necessarily takes its form from man's condition. It is holy, just, and good, and demanded that righteousness which Jesus the blessed Man and He alone did present to God.

"For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous." Here the righteous (not one but many; in the Sept. the word is plural) are distinct from "the Man." Jehovah knows their way, but the way of the ungodly shall perish. The knowing and the perishing placed side by side as here means destruction for the ungodly and preservation for the righteous; yea, a moral approval of the righteous, but does not rise to the height of God's delight in the blessed Man.

1888 67 The second Psalm brings us at once to the time of the end of man's rule when Jehovah has risen up to take vengeance upon the despisers and slayers of His Anointed. The King — God's King — is come to sit upon His own throne, and He finds the whole world in arms against Him. "The heathen rage and the people imagine a vain thing; the kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together against Jehovah and against His Anointed." The Gentile and the Jew unite and say, "Let us break their bands (the bands of Jehovah and His Anointed) asunder, and cast away their cords from us."

There was a little picture of this confederacy when the priests and Pilate and Herod were united against Christ. For then the kings of the earth had their representative in Pilate, and the rulers of the people both ecclesiastical and secular in the priests and Herod. They then imagined a vain thing against Him, though in crucifying Him they seemed to succeed.

But the full expression of the hatred and confederacy is yet to come. The intermediate time between the presence of the blessed man here below as in the first Psalm and His advent to take vengeance is passed over. Christ is now hidden from the world and seated on His Father's throne. The second Psalm opens with the aspect of the world when this present exceptional period of grace is closed. But the chief point is the condition of the Jew; the heathen and the kings of the earth fall under a heavier judgment inasmuch as they are the aiders and abettors, yea the rulers of the Jews in their last and greatest rebellion against Jehovah and His Anointed. For both these names have special reference to Israel. If Jehovah were the only name of God, if Anointed and Son of David were the only names of Jesus, there would be no salvation for Gentiles. The Syro-Phoenician woman had no blessing while calling upon Him as Son of David. When she said Lord, there was a leading word; when she took the place of a dog, she had the blessing she sought. Here in this Psalm truly, is the Anointed King Whose authority and power extend over all the kings of the earth, but He is established in Zion. Zion is the central point, the place of His throne (see Ps. 48).

All take counsel together. How vain! Not less vain when He came to save, not to judge; though only believers can see how necessary is His death to victory and salvation. But when He comes to judge, the enemies will see how vain their thought to set at nought His authority and power. "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh, Jehovah shall have them in derision. Then shall He speak unto them in His wrath, and vex them in His sore displeasure." Rage as may the kings in their impotency, the rulers are but grasshoppers before Him, and Jehovah says "Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion." The speakers change, and Messiah Himself takes up the word. "I will declare the decree, Jehovah hath said unto Me, Thou art My Son: this day have I begotten Thee. Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron, Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel."

The Lord Jesus when down here had this relationship of "Son," and spoke from it. No word more frequent in His mouth than "My Father." And this not only referring to His Eternal Sonship — the Son co-equal with the Father — but to His humanity. He was as Man the Son of God, "That holy thing." Jehovah, long before Messiah's birth, declared Him to be the Son of God; and when He came, He lived and spoke in this conscious relationship. The decree is His universal supremacy. "Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession." The Lord Jesus takes this place of universal authority and of possession, as Son saying, "All things are delivered unto Me of My Father." And when about to leave this world for a season He said to His Father — a greater work than taking the kingdom of this world and sitting on the throne of David being then in view, the formation of a heavenly people — "I pray not (I ask not now) for the world" (John xvii), in evident allusion to the promise of Jehovah in this Psalm. Not then, nor yet has He asked. The hour approaches when He will ask; for there is a term to His longsuffering and patience, and then comes the judgment. "Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron, Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." This power is His now, though not yet put forth in judgment. "All power is given unto Me in heaven and on earth" (Matt. 28:18). The judgment of the world is committed to Him (Acts 17:31). And when He comes to put forth that power, even the saints — the overcomers — shall under Him shepherd the nations with a rod of iron (Rev. 2:26-27). For the present this power is manifested for the purposes of grace and salvation; and this present period (though iniquity was never so rampant, and rebel man never so defiant of God), — yet this present is the time of God's greatest joy. For of all the ages of the world never was such grace seen, never were such blessings conferred as God is now showing; and this is His joy. He gave the Lord Jesus power and authority for this end, viz. His joy. "As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him." When all the "given" ones are with the Lord, then will come the judgment of the enemies. The Psalm looks onward to this judgment of the quick when the heirs are taken out of the scene.

What a gracious time is the present! For the decree of judgment is enrolled among the immutable counsels of God, and not less sure than the exaltation of the Son as King in Zion. But His exaltation to the throne of universal dominion is delayed, and the judgment of the ungodly is held in check that the authority which the Lord Jesus has may be used in giving eternal life to those whom the Father brings to Him. Is not this patient waiting? The longsuffering of the Lord is salvation. And "salvation" is the word which gives the character of this present day, as judgment will of the coming day. For then there will be unsparing retribution upon those who have taken counsel against Him and who will be taken, as it were, red-handed in their guilt. None escape; Israel and the Gentile, the people and the heathen, all who are confederated in rebellion will feel the power of God's King when He sits on His throne in Zion. It is grace while He is on the Father's throne.

The same scene and the same parties, contemplated in the Psalm, appeared to the Seer, who foretells the same judgment. "Associate yourselves, O ye peoples, and ye shall be broken in pieces: and give ear, all ye of far countries; gird yourselves and ye shall be broken in pieces; gird yourselves and ye shall be broken in pieces. Take counsel together and it shall come to nought; speak the word and it shall not stand; for God is with us." The people — the bulk of the nation are in league with the heathen, but He is with the little remnant; and because they can say "God is with us" the prophet challenges the confederacy of the wicked with scorn. "Associate yourselves," let Israel and the Gentile join hand in hand, nevertheless "ye shall be broken." At the same time there is a warning word to the godly, "Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy: neither fear ye their fear nor be afraid" (Isa. viii). The nation is to be in league with the Beast of the West, whose protection they seek against the King of Assyria — the overflowing scourge. But though the Assyrian is to oppose Israel and their allies, all are as one in opposition to God's King. And at His hand they all are to meet their doom.

Awful is the character of this confederacy as given by the same prophet. It is an alliance with a power which is of Satan; its diabolical source unsuspected, hidden from their eyes. "Wherefore hear the word of the Lord, ye scornful men that rule this people which is in Jerusalem. Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death and with hell are we at agreement, when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us; for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves" (Isa. 28:14 etc.). They knew not that the Dragon had given his power to the Beast; but such is the fact, and God by the prophet declares the people to be associated with death and hell — reveals it to those among them who have ears to hear. It is a warning that all the scorners and the heathen shall be overthrown with an irretrievable destruction. "The hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place."

The Holy Spirit — the Spirit of Christ in the Psalmist — again takes up the word, "Be wise now therefore, O ye kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve Jehovah with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little."

Alas! vain is the call to wisdom.. The coming day will find Israel and the nations, as the prophet predicts. It will be hell and earth in league against the King appointed by God. The North, the South, the Beast and Israel apostate may be all embroiled; but each is opposed to Christ. It is according to God's ways to give warning. Not one lost soul (at least within the limits of Christendom) but has heard at one time or another the warning voice of Him who must punish the wicked, so that all are without excuse. Even Judas the traitor was warned, but had no ear for it, no heart to feel the Master's sorrow. "Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall deliver Me up." Captive of his own covetousness and baseness, Judas heeds not the word, his hard heart is untouched. The sop is given and reveals him to the other disciples, and Satan enters into him. Too late, for ever too late to retrace his fatal path, Satan possesses him. Then, not before, the Lord dismisses him, and bids him do his evil work quickly. And immediately he went out — went out into the "night," but carrying a night of far blacker darkness in his own soul. Even he was warned. The warning and then announcement of sure judgment is even now already gone forth to the actors in the last days. "Be wise now therefore, O ye kings." They are counselled to serve Jehovah with fear, yea to kiss — pay homage to — the Son. The nations that share in millennial blessedness are not to be brought through Christ to the knowledge of the Father as He is revealed to us now. To Christ, the exalted Man, they must bow, Who in His own Person is the revelation of the majesty and power and rule of God, until He delivers up the kingdom to God even the Father (1 Cor. 15:24). There was a glimpse of this glory of the kingdom on the mount of transfiguration. It was too much for the three disciples, who were overpowered and became heavy with sleep. The Lord prayed that we might behold even higher glory. He will soon be revealed; we shall not sleep then but be fitted to gaze upon Him in all His glory and brightness.

It is not yet the day of His magnificent glory; He is still waiting on the Father's throne, and while there, we honour Him even as we honour the Father, but the world disbelieves and dishonours Him. In the day of His revelation, all flesh, kings and slaves, princes, judges, and common people, all together must pay homage to Him. For every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess Him; every creature in heaven, on the earth, and under the earth, all shall confess Jesus Christ to be Lord. And His Lordship, His universal rule as the exalted Man, is to the glory of God the Father.

Grace bows our hearts now, and with joy we confess His name! Judgment will in that day break the proud spirit of the enemy. When His wrath is kindled but a little — the beginning of His judgment, they perish from the way. "And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and Jehovah alone shall be exalted in that day" (Isa. 2:17).

1888 81 As in the first Psalm we find the righteous apart from the blessed Man and from the ungodly, so here we find them a distinct company apart from the anointed, and from the raging heathen and the people. "Blessed are all they that pat their trust in Him." But if the same three classes appear in the second Psalm as in the first, how notable the different character in which each appears. For the perfect and blessed Man of the first is the exalted Man and crowned King of the second; the ungodly, the sinners and the scorners of the first have made way for the confederated kings who take counsel together against Jehovah and against His Anointed; they are the leaders of the scornful men and their representatives. The "righteous" of the first (ver. 6) are seen in the "blessed" of the second. Introduced in these two Psalms they all are in view throughout the book, save the closing scene where, in the great hallelujah of praise from blessed men and renovated creation, the wicked are nowhere.

Why are they called "blessed?" Why, the same word as applied to the perfect Man? Not because they are perfect as He, but because they trust in Him. His blessedness is the fruit of His own perfection, theirs is also due to Him for He overshadows them with His wing. "Trust" suggests the thought of a time of trial, sorrow and patience, and prepares us somewhat for the sudden transition from the glories of the second Psalm to the trouble with which the third opens. And the wonderful fact is that He who is the object of their trust is Himself deeper in the trouble than they possibly could be. But He must have pre-eminence in suffering as in righteousness and glory.

Theirs is the blessedness of the sorrowing remnant who are admitted to share in little measure the trouble of Him in whom they trust. As the second bridges over the space from the blessed Man here below to the scene of His glory hereafter, so the third takes us back again to the sorrows of His lonely path. For though a few clave to Him, in the depths of His sorrow He was truly alone. They little knew the sorrow that was breaking His heart. Even when told of the inevitable cross (through His grace), they could not receive it. The sources of His sorrow were beyond their ken, although the prophet had declared it; "behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith Jehovah hath afflicted me in the day of His fierce anger" (Lam. 1:12).

While kings are bidden to submit themselves to Him, they that trust in Him are pronounced blessed. Though He went down to the depths, despised, mocked, and cut off from His inheritance, still to trust in Him was the sure and only way to this blessedness. When the Lord was here, His disciples trusted in Him up to a certain point. But when they saw Him in the hands of the priests and the rulers, then they all forsook Him and fled. Death was a strain upon their trust which they were not prepared for; and indeed it is too great a strain for faith short of resurrection-faith, which however was not then given to them. Resurrection must first be a fact: after that faith builds upon it. For the moment, every hope was gone from their hearts and sorrow filled the vacant place. The two going to Emmaus tell their griefs to each other, and to a stranger (supposed) lament and say, "We trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel." Others of them return to their fishing. But when death was, as they imagined, stamped upon all their hopes and expectations, their hopes appear again in a brighter and eternal aspect. Jesus appears to them alive from the dead, and the glory of the kingdom, yea, and every other glory, is firmly established in power through His resurrection. It is an immovable basis, the necessary basis; for as it behoved Christ to suffer these things (even death) to enter into His glory, so must He also rise. The foundation of trust in Him cannot again be shaken. Its security is the death and resurrection of Christ, but this is not named in our Psalm. Messiah's exaltation is the theme, and whatever the pathway, though it be through deepest troubles, it is Jehovah's decree and must be accomplished. And as surely will those who trust in Him be blessed.

It is the godly remnant who are here in view. The "righteous" in the first Psalm, and the "blessed" in the second. They are called "blessed," not because of aught in themselves, but because they trust in Him. Under the first name "righteous" we read that Jehovah knows their way. Their path of sorrow as depicted in Psalms that follow was known to God; and this contains a store of comfort to the tried and suffering remnant. Jehovah watched over their way for the sake of the blessed Man Who trod the same path, going before them, and thus leading them through it. The way is appointed, and known to God; the termination is blessing, and that also is decreed. To the understanding heart the closing verses of each of these Psalms embody a sure and certain promise which is abundantly performed when we see at the close of the book the righteous remnant exalted as a nation, and their enemies destroyed.

We know that all blessing is connected with faith both in the coming day for Israel as for the believer in this present time. Christ is faith's object for them as for us. But of us it is said, "Whom having not seen, ye love; in Whom though now ye see Him not, yet believing ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith even the salvation of your souls" (1 Peter 1:8-9). This is our present blessedness. They (the remnant) shall receive their salvation when they see Him. In the tremendous scenes of the coming day they will say, "Lo, this is our God, we have waited for Him, and He will save us; this is Jehovah, we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation" (Isa. 25:9). He comes not only to execute judgment upon the heathen and upon the guilty people, but also to bring salvation to the trusting ones. All the past will be reversed (see Isa. 61 and Joel 2:21-27). They will rejoice not merely in their change of circumstances, however great and marvellous, but even as while waiting they trusted and are blessed, so when they see they will shout "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord." They will joy in Him. The blessedness of trusting characterises them before deliverance comes. What will it be when He comes and accomplishes the promises of God for them?

This blessedness has special reference to the godly remnant in the last days. But as it is a blessedness which accompanies faith, we and all saints in all times can partake of the blessing which faith brings. And for ourselves, the trust here spoken of is not so much the faith that reveals the Saviour to the sinner — though that faith need not be excluded — as the trust and confidence in the Christ of those who wait for His coming, and who are rejoicing in hope of the glory of God (Rom. 5). And we know how blessed it is to trust in Christ, surrounded as we are by enemies who, for a little while, are even now in their impotency raging against Christ, if not against His person (there are some who do) yet against His truth. But is not the denial of the truth an implicit denial of His person? To trust in Him is our strength, victory and present joy. We wait for Him, not to be preserved through the judgment, not to triumph over foes on the earth, but to be taken away hidden in the Father's house while He is purging His kingdom and taking away all things that offend. We shall be there till the tempest be overpast.

These two Psalms are introductory to the whole book. They present the person of Him who is the constant theme throughout, either in His own person, or by His spirit in the remnant. In the first Psalm, His inherent perfection as a Man; then in the second, His official glory and power as King in Zion. The rest of the book tells first of His sufferings, and of the righteous to whom He joins Himself; then of His final exaltation and their consequent triumph. The perfection has appeared, and His sufferings are past. The glory has not yet appeared. Be is not yet manifested as the tree with the unfading leaf (save to the redeemed who look with the eye of faith). He was and is still to unbelieving Israel as a root out of a dry ground. The Gospels give us historically the circumstances in which He was found. For the Jew He had no form nor comeliness, no beauty that they should desire Him. He was despised and rejected. Therefore He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. The Psalms unfold these sorrows, not in the form of an historical record, but as the experiences of His soul. Some are incommunicable, all are as to their depth and intensity, but some as to their nature, as when forsaken on the cross, made sin and bearing its judgment. For who but He could bear it and afterwards rise from the grave in victory? His suffering of death from the hand of God is infinitely apart from the sufferings of the remnant and from ours. In what He endured from man the godly remnant have a share, and the church now has fellowship in His sufferings as the object of the world's hate. Paul tasted of, yea, gloried in them, more perhaps than any other man; yet not even he knew them as did Christ. The suffering remnant as seen in the Psalms have not Paul's faith and hope and joy. Their sufferings have an element peculiar to themselves. Messiah went through all. To believers now, it is a privilege to suffer with Christ. To the remnant it is righteous and governmental discipline. And through the suffering partaking of this governmental character, in grace went Christ, the perfect man, the future King. "In all their affliction He was afflicted" (Isa. 63:9), yea in it was more afflicted than they. It is beyond the capacity of mere man to feel as He felt. The remnant of Israel are called to taste of His sorrows and experiences as far as they are capable, and which it is necessary they should under the disciplining hand of God. And they are given to feel in measure with Him that they may feel aright and that He may form their thoughts and words, their prayers and confessions, and supply them with faith and confidence i.e., He communicates to them all that in their circumstances is acceptable to God.

But how infinitely acceptable was His own life and obedience! Although in the same circumstances as they, there shines out, in all His own immaculate purity, His perfection. He was separate from sinners, yet He wept not only for them, but with them, and made confession of sins for them as if they were His own; so intimately did He join Himself to His people. He took upon Himself their burdens and bowed under them. He bore their stripes and they are healed. He was cut off and had nothing. Consider Him, the perfect man yet sorrowing, the righteous man yet bearing judgment, the blessed man yet going to the cross, the true king yet cut off from His inheritance. The prophet said His name should be called "Wonderful." His presence in this world was wonderful; His words, His deeds and beyond all else His death proclaim Him "the Wonderful:" we bow in adoring love and praise.

What more fitting introduction to these experiences of sorrow and humiliation than the perfection of His humanity and Jehovah's decree that He should sit upon His throne in Zion?

In that day many crowns will be His, "and on His head were many crowns" (Rev. 19:12). He will be crowned as the perfect man, the leader and chief of the godly remnant, the head of the church. These He wears now. Soon He will sit upon the throne of Israel in Zion, soon He will be crowned King of kings and Lord of lords, when the glorious prophecy in Psalm 72 shall be literally accomplished. But there is one glory which takes precedence of all these, it is the greatest and brightest of all. These crowns bespeak His relations with man, with the creature. The highest is His because He as man vindicated the name of God in a world of sin and blasphemy. Divine judgment is not set aside, but the full tide of mercy's living waters flows fully and freely. He abased Himself even to a malefactor's death to secure the vindication of a just and holy God which is a higher thing than man's redemption and necessarily takes precedence. And the Holy Spirit notes His deep self-abasement for this end, and on account of which He is highly exalted. "Wherefore" says the apostle "God also hath highly exalted Him and given Him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow of things in heaven and things in earth and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:7-11).

Saints, holy angels bow now; in His humiliation even demons feared the power of the name of Jesus. Believers bow and worship; unbelievers still reject. Soon they will be compelled to confess Him Lord of all. That name is the glory of heaven, and though now rejected by the world, shall soon be its boast also. "O Jehovah our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth" (Ps. viii).

Many crowns! and with the glory and honour, with the shining forth of His majesty then will be the tokens of His grace. "In the midst of the throne and of the four beasts and in the midst of the elders stood a Lamb as it had been slain" (Rev. 5:6). His humiliation, sufferings, death will shine as brilliants set in crowns of gold. R. Beacon.