Scripture Notes.


Psalms 45-48.

Few readers of the Scriptures can have failed to apprehend the connection in this interesting series of Psalms. In Psalm 44 the faith of the remnant rests upon the memorial of God's past deliverance of His people; "We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work thou didst in their days, in the times of old." (v. 1.) Their present condition was in complete contrast: "But thou hast cast off, and put us to shame; and goest not forth with our armies." Still, amid all the exercises of soul thus occasioned, faith cries, "Arise for our help, and redeem us for thy mercies' sake." (v. 26.) Psalm 45 gives the answer to this cry in the introduction of Messiah, who brings deliverance from enemies, and whose kingdom is for ever and ever. (vv. 5, 6.) This is followed by the celebration of His marriage with His earthly bride - Jerusalem - now robed "in gold of Ophir" (v. 9), and the consequent acknowledgment of the place of supremacy and blessing into which the bride has thus been introduced. Nothing could surpass the beauty of the details of this bridal psalm. Proceeding to Psalm 46, we find, as the result of Messiah's coming, that God is the refuge and strength of His people, a very present help in trouble. He has proved Himself to be so in power, as may be gathered from Zechariah 14. The sixth verse may possibly point back to this, if it does not refer to a subsequent attack on Jerusalem after Messiah has come. In either case God shows Himself to be His people's refuge and strength; and thereby so encourages their hearts, that they cry, "Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed," etc. (vv. 2, 3.)

There is also positive blessing in connection with Jehovah's presence in Jerusalem. "There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God," etc. (v. 4. Compare Ezekiel 47, Rev. 22, etc.) Well, then, might the cry be raised, "God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her [as in the margin] when the morning appeareth;" for the advent of Messiah will be indeed the dawn of the morning without clouds. (2 Samuel 23:4.) Verses 6, 7 recall the deliverance, and celebrate the results; verses 8, 9 give the desolating effects of Jehovah's interposition in judgment, and the universal peace that follows. God Himself speaks in verse 10, calling upon all to know, by the works He has wrought, that He is God, and declaring that He will be exalted everywhere among the Gentiles on the earth. In verse 11 the remnant again lift up their voices in their chorus of praise: "The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge."

Psalm 47 points out the consequences in government for the whole earth. Not only is Jehovah once more in the midst of His people, but He is also "a great King over all the earth." (vv. 2-7.) He "reigneth over the heathen: God sitteth upon the throne of His holiness," etc. (v. 8.) In Psalm 48 we find that now Messiah's authority has been established over the whole earth, "beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King." (v. 2.) God is still known in her palaces (a word that marks the splendour of the city) for a refuge; for notwithstanding the display of His glory and power, the kings of the earth (such is man as the tool of Satan) were assembled, but only to be driven away by the fear that seized upon them when they beheld the signs of His presence and glory. The ships of Tarshish too were destroyed by that same east wind which once drove back the proud waters of the Red Sea.

Thus delivered and blessed, the remnant now say (the allusion is to Ps. 44:1), "As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God: God will establish it for ever." (v. 8.) Their own eyes have now witnessed Jehovah's intervention in power on behalf of His people, and thus their fathers' report was abundantly confirmed. Their hearts were therefore filled with thanksgiving, and overflow in praise and testimony (vv. 9-13); while their faith, strengthened by what they have witnessed, enables them to say, "This God is our God for ever and ever: He will be our guide even unto death." Nothing will ever more separate them from His presence and care. This is the truth of Romans 8: "If God be for us, who can be against us?" E. D.


2 Timothy 2:7, 5.

"Remember Jesus Christ raised from among the dead, of the seed of David."

The sevenfold forms of service in this chapter have often been noticed. The first three characters of the Lord's labour seem to be especially emphasized in these verses, and the Lord Himself presented as the great Exemplar of His servant. He pre-eminently was faithful as soldier, athlete, or husbandman. The apostle tells Timothy how to consider what he says in bidding him to "call to mind Jesus Christ" - David's seed - whose holy separation, obedience, and labour as Man on earth, an obedience unto death, is attested by His resurrection. Avoiding or resisting every entangling alliance "with the affairs of this life," refusing every unlawful aid in His strife against sin, and He was ever about His Father's business. He "rendered to Caesar" his things, rejected the praise of men and their desire to make Him a King. He refused the testimony of demons to His divinity, or the temptations of their prince. He Himself, the Firstfruits to God, of His own labour, now, after first labouring, "is a partaker of the fruits." C. H. H.


1 Corinthians 9:27.

Two things have to be insisted upon in this much-debated scripture. First, that the meaning of the word castaway must retain its proper force. It is adokimos - signifying something that will not stand the test and is rejected; as, for example, in 2 Tim. 3:8: "Reprobate concerning the faith;" i.e., men who, tried by the truth, are to be refused. Secondly, it is of equal importance to maintain that the apostle had no thought of the possibility of his being a castaway. What he says, in other words, is, that if he were only a preacher - a preacher whose life did not express in some measure the truth he proclaimed, one who was governed only by his own will and inclinations - he might then be a "reprobate." Or, to borrow the language of another, "I am not merely a preacher, but a liver; lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." And again, "If Paul himself had been preaching only, not living, he would have been a castaway. But he was not that; and he states how he was living, that he might not be." What we have then in this passage is, that even a preacher of the gospel may be lost; that the evidence of his being a true Christian does not lie in his being a preacher, but in his walking as such; even as the same apostle writes to the Romans, "If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." (Romans 8:13.) E. D.