Scripture Notes.

p. 278.


Psalm 118:14.

Whether this scripture is a quotation from Exodus 15:2, or whether it is a repetition only of the same words, it is impossible to say. The point to be observed is their beautiful applicability to Israel's new deliverance, a deliverance as wonderful and complete as when they were brought out of Egypt and through the Red Sea by their Redeemer God. It is the voice of the remnant in this Psalm, and of the remnant now brought through their final trials into blessing, looking back upon their past circumstances and celebrating their deliverance. The Lord Himself gives the key to its interpretation in the allusion He makes to the Psalm in Matthew 23:39. The first four verses take up the well-known chorus of Israel's praise, and the fifth gives the occasion of the rehearsal of the enduring character of the Lord's mercy, "I called upon the Lord in distress: the Lord answered me, and set me in a large place." The distress had been caused, will be caused, if taken in its prophetic form, by the nations who will be gathered against Jerusalem, as we read in Zechariah, in the last days. Israel's case will then be hopeless to man's eye, and would be hopeless but for the intervention of Jehovah, "The Lord helped me." (v. 13.) Hence the burst of praise, as in days of yore, when standing on the banks of the Red Sea, "The Lord is my strength and song, and is become my salvation." Two or three other interesting features may be noticed. Suffering as they will from the hands of man, they yet recognise it as chastening from the Lord (v. 18, compare Heb. 12), and the effect of the chastening is to open their lips in praise in the Lord's house. (vv. 19-21.) Moreover, they connect their deliverance with the once rejected, but now glorious Messiah: "The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the Lord's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes," etc. (vv. 22-24.) The reader will find the study of the whole Psalm both interesting and profitable.


Hosea 9:15.

No language could more forcibly depict the moral corruption into which Israel had fallen than the words, "All their wickedness is in Gilgal." Gilgal, it will be remembered, was the place where the twelve stones taken out of Jordan were set up, the place of circumcision, after Israel had crossed the Jordan (Joshua 5); the place, too, where their camp was pitched, and to which they had to return after every battle. It was significant therefore in every way of death to the flesh, of the end of the first man, speaking now of its Christian meaning; for it was there that the truth of the Jordan was made good practically, just as that of the Red Sea was realised at Marah. Here then it was that Israel, forgetful of the import of Gilgal in their history, practised their iniquities in connection probably with idolatry, giving rein to, instead of circumcising, the flesh in all its inclinations and lusts. It was this which led the prophet to say, "All their wickedness is in Gilgal." Another illustration of the same kind is found in chapter 4: "Though thou, Israel, play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend; and come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Bethaven, nor swear, The Lord liveth." (v. 15.) We refer now only to the use of the word Bethaven. There was a city of that name lying to the east of Bethel; but on several grounds, it is clear, we judge, that the Spirit of God uses the name here for Bethel. The reason is most solemn. The meaning of "Bethel" is the house of God (see Genesis 28); but it was in this very place that Jeroboam set one of his golden calves (1 Kings 12), and thereby seduced Israel into apostasy. (Compare Amos 7:10-13.) It could therefore be no longer truly called "the house of God," and hence it is termed by the prophet Bethaven, "the house of vanity." The leaders of Israel were thus linking their idolatrous rites with the very places which ought to have reminded them of God, of His grace, and His claims. This aggravated in every way their iniquity. The application to our own day is as easy as sorrowful.