Scripture Notes.

p. 108.


Psalm 69:4.

Great care is necessary in the interpretation of this psalm; for while there are parts that apply exclusively to our blessed Lord, there are verses that manifestly include with Him the believing remnant. Speaking, however, generally, the psalm gives us the Messiah suffering from the hands of man, and hence it is that atonement is not found here, and that judgment upon His adversaries is the consequence of His rejection and death. In Psalm 22, on the other hand, where we find Him suffering from the hand of God ("Thou hast brought Me into the dust of death"), and therefore atonement, grace flows out as the result of His death, and so in ever-widening circles. While, however, these are the characteristics of the two psalms, they undoubtedly have their points of contact, inasmuch as in both the activity of Satan is discerned through the expressed enmity of man. In the verse to be considered there are two things; the hatred of the enemies of Christ seeking to compass His destruction, and His own action as shown by the words, "Then I restored that which I took not away." The question is as to what these words signify. The answer is found, we judge, in Leviticus 6. There, in the account of the trespass-offering for sins which, though sins against a neighbour, are yet described as a "trespass against the Lord" (v. 2), we read that he who committed the trespass must "restore that which he took violently away … he shall even restore it in the principal, and shall add the fifth part more thereto, and give it unto him to whom it appertaineth, in the day of his trespass-offering." (vv. 4, 5.) In this way amends was made to the neighbour, while for the trespass against the Lord the suited offering made atonement. Now in the death of Christ this offering (though it be not seen in the psalm), as well as every other, had its fulfilment; and it is this which affords an instructive and beautiful contrast. From Luke 10 we learn that Christ was pleased to become Israel's neighbour, and it was against Him that Israel committed "trespass." According to Leviticus, therefore, it was Israel who should have made amends and offered the sacrifice; but what could Israel do when, on the way from Jerusalem to Jericho, he was lying stripped, wounded, and half dead? Israel's Neighbour saw and had compassion upon him in his helpless condition, and Himself, though the One sinned against, undertook to do what was requisite for the trespasser. It was thus that He restored that which He took not away, and, in addition, as we know, became the trespass-offering. They that hated Him without a cause were more than the hairs of His head; they that would destroy Him, being His enemies wrongfully, were mighty; but, instead of exacting from them the penalty of their trespass, He took their place and offered Himself as their trespass-offering. How unutterable His love and grace! In its full result the fulfilment of this scripture will not be seen until Israel is restored to blessing in the kingdom.


Isaiah 29:9-14.

It is essential to observe that verses 11 and 12 of this scripture are an illustration. As a consequence of the moral condition of the nation those who should have been the guides of the people had lost, under the judicial hand of Jehovah, all spiritual discernment and knowledge. The spirit of deep sleep had closed their eyes; the prophets, rulers, and seers were all alike blinded. The effect was that if they had a vision none could interpret it. The vision was like a sealed book which the learned man could not read because it was sealed, and which the unlearned did not attempt to open because he could not read. The learned and the unlearned are not any particular persons: they simply represent the general inability to understand the word of the Lord which might be contained in a prophetic vision. The next verse (13th) explains the cause of this judicial blindness. Two things are charged upon the people - charges which should be pondered by God's professing people in every age; first, that their worship consisted in outward rites, that while they drew near to the Lord with their mouth, and honoured Him with their lips, their hearts were far from Him; and, secondly, that their worship (see Matthew 15:9) was regulated by human precepts instead of the divine word. The next verse gives the consequent action of Jehovah: "Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid:" (See Matthew 11:25.) It is a solemn warning for all, as we are thus reminded, that the understanding of the word of God, together with spiritual wisdom and knowledge, can only be retained by those whose hearts are kept in the presence of God (the "true heart" of Hebrews 10:22), and who are, at the same time, walking in subjection to, and are governed by, the revealed mind of God. To teach for commandments the doctrines of men, and thus to make the word of God of none effect by their traditions, was, as the Lord Himself, citing from this chapter, warned the Pharisees, the sum of their iniquity, and the cause of their corrupt moral condition.


John 17:20-23.

The oneness in verse 21 is that resulting from the common possession of the same nature and the same life in the power of the Holy Ghost; only the Lord here prays that this oneness may be expressed. All believers are included in this prayer. Up to verse 19 His own disciples, those at that time with Him, were specially in view; but now He says, " Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me though their word." Looking onward, therefore, from that moment, down to the end of the day of grace, the Lord embraced every one who should receive the testimony of the apostles, whether oral or written; and His desire, as thus presented to the Father, was, "that they all may be one;" that is, that their essential oneness might be exhibited; because it is added, "that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me." The manifestation of the oneness of all believers would thus be used to convince the world of the divine mission of the Son. The character of the unity is described in the words, "As Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us." It is the oneness of perfect fellowship. (See 1 John 1:3.) The answer to this prayer is seen for a brief moment in Acts 4:32-34; but will, alas! never more be repeated.

The oneness of verses 22, 23 is the oneness of a common glory, resulting from all being glorified together with Christ. We learn, as also from many other scriptures, that Christ, in His infinite grace, will share with His people all the glory which He inherits as Man in virtue of redemption. The object is, "That they may be one, even as We are one: I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and halt loved them, as Thou hast loved Me." It is, therefore, a displayed unity in glory with Christ (see Col. 3:4; 2 Thess, 1:10), the effect of which, when beheld, at the appearing of our Lord with His saints in glory, will be to cause the world to know (not believe, but know) that the Father had sent the Son, and that He had loved the saints as He had loved Christ. What an unfathomable expression of grace and love lies in these requests of our Lord! And what humiliation becomes the saints of God as they recall their otter failure, while waiting for the glory, to express their essential unity before the eyes of an unbelieving world!

E. D.