The Psalms


The five Books of Psalms are divided thus:—

First, from Psalm 1 to Psalm 41;

Second, from Psalm 42 to Psalm 72;

Third, from Psalm 73 to Psalm 89;

Fourth, from Psalm 90 to Psalm 106; and

Fifth, from Psalm 107 to the end.

The subjects of each are different, and may be thus briefly distinguished.

In the first book the Jews are not driven out, but go up to the temple, and mix with those in the land. The name of Jehovah always occurs. He is in recognised relationship with them.

In the second book they are driven out, and only a small seed is left. The Gentiles combine with the nations against the godly who flee to the mountains. It is Judah driven out. “God “is used here, except when hope is expressed.

In the third book it is not Jews in Jerusalem, or driven out, but all Israel are taken up. The ways of God with the people, as such, are found here.

The fourth book begins another range of subjects. While they own Jehovah the dwelling-place, the bringing of Christ into the world again is celebrated; the progress of His coming in glory; His sitting between the cherubim; and the nations coming to worship.

Then the concluding or fifth book is a review of all, winding up with a chorus, which consists of thanksgivings for the blessings brought in, of which Israel is the earthly centre around and under the Messiah.

Book 1.—Psalms 1-41.

There are two great subjects laid hold of from one end of scripture to the other, founded on the relationships in grace: the government of Grod; and the church of God. When I speak of the church of God, I speak of His grace, that which stands only in grace; and when Christ reigns, the church reigns with Him, the weakest and feeblest saint is taken up, and put in the same place with Christ. Grace is conferred on those who least deserve it. There is also the government of the Father for those in the church, but this is quite different from the government of God in a general sense. It is true that gracious principles come in there; but the church is the body of Christ, members of His body, etc. To be His brethren is another relationship. God’s government of this world is quite a different thing from that. It is interesting for us, because we have a personal association with the Lord Jesus in His humiliation and His glory, and there is nothing connected with Christ but should interest us.

The immediate government of God is brought out in connection with Israel, and the Book of Psalms has a peculiar character in relation to this. The Psalms express the feelings and thoughts of those who find themselves in the circumstances that give rise to them. When under government, the power of evil must be set aside, in order for those who are separate from it to get free of their sufferings. With us it is quite different. We leave the evil, and rise into the glory. There is also the difference of reigning and being reigned over. The government of God for earth is entirely connected with Israel—our home is elsewhere. They are on earth, and government is connected with earth.

In Israel God gives certain laws. Now grace reigns through righteousness which Another has accomplished. There will be righteousness on earth when He comes again. Now it is exactly the contrast. Righteousness is only in connection with heaven now. Christ is exalted in heaven, but rejected on earth. The principle on which all God’s dealings with the Jew go is government, although you find mercy put first.

Two things are connected with the Jews in Psalms 1 and 2; God’s law written on their hearts (Ps. 1), and their Messiah coming to them, God’s king set up on God’s throne (Ps. 2). These are two fundamental principles connected with God’s people on the earth.

In Psalm 1 we have the effect of godliness, present blessing; and in Psalm 2 the place Christ has as King.

In the first is the application of God’s government on the earth, on the godly and the ungodly ones. There will be the cutting off of the ungodly ones like chaff, and those who remain are the godly. There is a godly remnant in the midst of the ungodly, and the ungodly are to be cut off. That is the basis of all we have in the Book of Psalms.

The first characteristic of the godly ones is in contrast with the ungodly. They delight in the law of Jehovah. They have tasted the sweetness of the principles in God’s word, and know a Christ come down from heaven. The law characterises all the moral condition of the godly man (Ps. 119). The remnant in the latter day are associated in character and circumstances with the remnant who believed and followed Christ at His first coming. The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, which is spoken of as a present thing. The godly are in the midst of the ungodly in the presence of judgment, which brings in the day of the Lord.

Psalm 2 is the time when the judgment is ending, and government is made good by the power of the Son exercising His wrath. “Be wise now therefore, O ye kings,” for if the Son’s wrath be kindled, all will be over with you. This has nothing to do with the gospel of God’s grace. The kings of the earth are not in relationship with the Father and the Son, but in rebellion against Jehovah and His Christ. It is a direct question of judgment—the closing scene—distinctly brought to the last day, the day of Jehovah. He is setting up the king of Israel, never mind what the kings of the earth do. God’s king shall laugh at them. When Christ was born into this world, God had this purpose in view; and when the King is brought in, the eye will be turned to Him who was before born into the world. He is to be set up King in Zion, and He is to have the heathen for His possession. But what does He do? He breaks their bands in sunder. I can understand this if it is government, but not if it is gospel. Matthew 10 shews the gathering out of a remnant, and passing over this time to the end, when the Son of man will be there. All connected with the gospel is left out, and the kingdom is the subject—those “worthy” (Matt. 10), not sinners. It is the witness of the kingdom that is carried on to the time when He comes.

In John 17 Christ says, “I pray not for the world” (I ask not for the heathen now), “but for those whom thou hast given me out of the world.” He is gathering these now, but He will have the heathen. He is asking for those who are to be with Him, the results of redemption-work; nothing about the world, not even breaking the nations to pieces. Again, in John 20, He says to Mary Magdalene, “Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended,” etc. The time was not come for Him to be King, but He wduld make His brethren know the relationship into which He brought them. He was not coming to take the kingdom yet, but He would give them the same place that He had.

Revelation 2:26, 27 alludes to this psalm. Under the government of God there is law for rule (Ps. 1). Psalm 2 declares that, in spite of all the world, He will bring His Son in again, and set Him King. In the one psalm we get what are the principles of His government, and in the other what are His counsels. The godly ones are exercised amongst these ungodly ones who are in power.

Then, remark that Psalms 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 express the exercises of the godly. In these psalms we find the righteous remnant in the presence of the judgment, looking for the Lord’s coming to sustain their faith, and make good His word: but they go through all sorts of trials. Christ is not yet reigning, evil not yet judged; yet the trials and exercises of the godly remnant before God’s judgment on the ungodly help their faith. God is standing back, as it were.

Psalm 8 is of another character. Jehovah is to be glorified in this earth, and His glory above the heavens. He has never been so yet. The Father’s name is glorified in the hearts of His children, but Jehovah is not glorified universally. 1 Corinthians 15 shews Christ as the Head of the new creation; government in the kingdom is to come in, and, as in Colossians 1, it is to be as Head of the church, He will take the kingdom as Son of man. Psalm 8 presents Him as thus coming. It is not yet fulfilled. “We see not yet all things put under him, but we see Jesus,” etc. He is now gathering the church, who, when He comes, comes with Him. The only thing in which I can separate myself from Christ is, where He became sin. Looking at His glory is looking at our own.

In Luke 9:21, 22, being rejected as the Christ, He therefore would not set Himself up as the King. Then He takes another name— “Son of man,” and as such He must suffer. He drops for the time the title of Christ, as in Psalm 2, which sets Him forth as the anointed King, and takes the title of Psalm 8— “Son of man.” But He must suffer. “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die,” etc. As Christ they may say nothing about Him then. As Son of man He is to have all under Him, not only is He to be King in Zion. That will be accomplished too; but, according to Isaiah 49:6, He is to have the Gentiles also. He is to be over everything; and as a man He is to take all things. God will gather together in one all things in Christ, we being in the heavenly part, and Satan under our feet. In the Psalms we get the Christ we are associated with, but not our association with Him. The scheme of the government of God has never yet begun. It has not yet been the new covenant, but the old. Christ is to be King, and this is prophetically, not historically, given in Psalm 2; He is also Son of man in Psalm 8, which is prophetic.

Psalm 9 looks at the wicked as not yet put out. The time is not come for righteousness to be made good. Divine righteousness is accomplished through His death, but govern-men in righteousness not yet established. Psalm 2 is not fulfilled, only the opposition of the kings, etc. In Psalm 10 there is distress for the remnant until the interposition of God comes.

Psalms 11 to 15 disclose feelings of the remnant; but there is confidence in God in time of trial. Christ puts into their hearts just what they want in the circumstances. Psalm 12 is the extremity of their distress—a godly man scarcely to be found. Psalm 13 is deeper distress of soul because of a sense of its being from God. The faith of God’s people cannot go on for ever; they cry, “How long?” “Art thou treating us as if given up? If it goes on thus, I shall faint under it!” Psalm 14 is the character of the wicked to be cut off, as Psalm 15 is the character of the remnant who stand. The practically godly remnant will have the blessing when Christ comes. There is in Psalms 9, 10, the history of the tribulation— the fact of judgment; and then in Psalms 11, 12 and 13, their condition, thoughts, and feelings; and Psalm 15, the character of those on the holy hill, in contrast with the wicked set forth in Psalm 14.

In Psalm 16 Christ is the link between Jehovah and the remnant. He is passing through this world so as to be able to speak a word in season to the remnant in the last day. He could not go and associate Himself with them in that way without the atonement being made. We have the figure in Aaron going into the holy place on the day of atonement. We are associated with Him within. Isaiah 53: “We hid as it were our faces from him “is the expression of the Jews in the latter day, linking themselves with those who rejected Christ when He was here the first time.

In this first book of the Psalms the godly remnant are not driven out of Jerusalem. This applied to Christ personally. He was on this side Jordan, with the poor of the flock, He was walking with them—His path in life. There is more personal association of Christ with the remnant in the latter day. There is more appeal to Jehovah in this book than to God, which characterises the second book. Jehovah is the title God has especially connected with the people of Israel, the seed of Abraham; and their relationship with Him in the land is thus acknowledged. It is better to read “Jehovah” instead of Lord, which we have very vague and undefined in our minds generally, though it is a most blessed title.

In Psalm 16 Christ, before taking His place on high, has experimentally “the tongue of the learned.” “In thee do I put my trust.” This is quoted in Hebrews 2 to prove Christ’s humanity. There are two things make perfection in a man— dependence and obedience. They were in Christ, the contrast of what was in Adam when he sinned. His heart could be moved with compassion, and not only could He shew His power to work miracles, but He could take this place of the dependent and obedient One, and it is there the heart gets food.

God has His food in the offering, but there was the meatoffering, and part of the peace-offering, which the priests ate. He says, “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.” Then we feed. The Father has given us the very object He delights in for the object of our affection.

In this psalm He first definitely takes His place with the excellent of the earth. He is thus the comfort of His people in sorrow; and when we have peace, He is the food of our souls—the heart has the perfect good to feed on. He is the object before the soul—He is properly the food of our souls, not in glory, but in humiliation, as here. “I am the true bread that came down from heaven.” It does not say, the bread that went up to heaven. Then His flesh is needed for life, we must know Him as dead. We cannot feed on Him as the living and glorified Christ, but as the dead Christ. What draws out our affections to Christ is, what He was down here, going through all the difficulties, making His passage through everything about which He has to intercede for us now.

“Thou hast said to Jehovah, Thou art my master.” Now I take the place of a servant; I am my Master’s—I am taking the place of dependence, leaning on Thee, looking to Thee. Christ is the Jehovah of the Old Testament, not excluding the Father and the Spirit (John 12; Isa. 6). “My goodness extendeth not to thee”; I am not taking a divine place now. He became a babe—was growing in wisdom and favour— anointed to service—has the tongue of the learned; then comes fellowship with the excellent. He takes His place as identifying Himself with them (Phil. 2); that is, “to the saints that are in the earth, and the excellent, in them is all my delight.” If His soul disclaimed the one, it had joy in the other. The saints cannot have a sorrow, a difficulty, that is not mine. Proverbs 8: “My delights were with the sons of men.” In the first movement of spiritual life in them, however poor and feeble they are, He goes with them; they are the excellent, it is not what they had, but what they were. During His life He was going with them—at the cross He went for them, they could not go there. If they begin to live for Him, He lives with them; not one difficulty on the road but Christ has gone before in it; and as to sin, that He has borne. “When he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them.” He met the lion on the way, and destroyed him that had the power of death. Every step that the Spirit of God in a man treads through this world, Christ has gone. I cannot get into a trouble that Christ has not been in before.

“Thou maintainest my lot.” This is just what the poor saints will want in the future day. Could the Man of sorrows say that? “Thou maintainest my lot; the lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places.” Yes, He knew who had given Him all. “The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and of my cup.” Jehovah was His portion, and always He could say it. This truth of Christ’s entering into all our sorrows, when the Spirit of God works, He going into it, and as to our sins, helping against them, is immense comfort. I get all the sympathies of Christ in this way.

There is not a step of the path of life that Christ has not trod, Jehovah shewing Him the path of life up to blessing. “Thou wilt shew me the path of life.” There was enough in Christ, and He did draw out the affections of the Father as a Man down here (of course as the eternal Son also) in this path of life. How dependent for everything! He does not say, “I will rise up,” but, “Thou wilt shew me.” He passes through death in dependence on His Father; there was the blessed perfectness of a Man with God; and at the close of His career, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He came from God and went to God, etc. He could go back unsullied1 to the throne of God, and take man back with Him into the glory out of which He came: there is manhood now in the presence of God.

Matthew 3 gives John’s baptism. They came to him, confessing their sins— “fruits meet for repentance.” The beginning of all excellence is to confess we have none; “fruit” was confessing they brought forth none. The instant the Spirit of God is working, Jesus goes to be baptised with them (not having any sin to confess, of course, but) doing His Father’s will. He takes His place with them. He had come for that, and the consequence is that He takes His place after death and resurrection to praise in the midst of the congregation.

“Thou wilt shew me the path of life.” It is most blessed to hear Christ saying that. It is the path of holy death in verse 10: how did He find that of life? Adam found the path of death in his folly and his self-will, but back from it never! The tree of life was never to be touched in the garden of Eden; he had taken the other path. These two trees set forth that which men are always puzzling themselves about—responsibility, and the gift of God which is life. All that man does ends in death, but it is too late to warn of this now, for he is “dead in trespasses and sins.” But Christ came, bringing life into a world that drove Him away, where Satan, the prince of it, reigned, and everything was bearing the stamp of his guilty dominion. In this place of death Christ makes out a path for us. He is shewn by His Father “the path of life.” He was “the Life”; but then the path of life had to be tracked through the place of death, where no one thing testifies of God—one wide waste, where there is no way. Christ has Himself gone there before. It is for the Christian I am speaking now; the gospel shews He gives it to those who believe. He had to make out the path of life through a world of sin and wretchedness, in obedience, up to God. It must be through death, if for us, because we are sinners.. Now he says, “If any man serve me, let him follow me.” We must take up the cross. The cross to Him was atonement; that was the path. As He came for us, it must be by the cross. He has gone through it perfectly and absolutely.

What is the consequence? The end is, “in thy presence is fulness of joy.” He would rather die than disobey. Notice, death is gone to us, the end is gained: we have to tread this very same path that He trod, up to His presence, where there is “fulness of joy.” Why all this? It was for His Father’s glory, doubtless, but it was for these “excellent of the earth.” His identifying Himself with them involved this.

Psalms 17, 18, shew the results of His thus taking His place with them. Psalm 17 is the controversy with man in the path; “Let my sentence come forth from thy presence”; and the end is, “I shall behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness.”

Psalms 16, 17, give us two great principles of divine life— trust and righteousness, or integrity; and we find them running all through the Psalms, and any godly person’s life, as well as that of the Jew: but this does not give the foundation fully on which we stand, according to the New Testament. You do not find in Psalm 17 the foundation of God’s righteousness at this time. Souls in the condition of having divine life, but not knowing their standing in divine righteousness, find the suitability of the Psalms to express their experience.

In Psalm 16 it is divine life in dependence, obedience, and communion. The first characteristic of divine life is trust— Christ putting His trust in Jehovah. As a man He does it. We see Him praying, the true expression of dependence; and in Luke’s Gospel this is especially brought out. Then another principle of divine life is the consciousness of integrity, there may be both these—trust in God and consciousness of integrity, without peace with God. Job said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him”; and he pleaded his own righteousness against God. “Till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me.” He had the consciousness of sin and the sense of righteousness, integrity in himself at the same time. The soul cannot be at peace in this state. Job was wrong in making a righteousness of his integrity.

This second principle of divine life we have in Psalm 17. It is the kind of righteousness the Jews will have in the latter day—the same which they had of old. God stays up the souls that trust in Him until they see Christ. Having a promise, they trust, but cannot say, “I have the righteousness of God.” Christ having taken up their condition, and borne it, they have the consciousness of integrity through him; and it is the stay of their souls, but not peace. They will find such utterances as this, “Out of the depths have I cried unto thee,” suit their own experience; they will be comforted by finding the word of God giving expression to their thoughts and feelings; it will be a prop and stay to them in the midst of their exercises, but they will not get peace in it. This Psalm 17 applies to the remnant surrounded by their enemies—ours are spiritual enemies. Here is the reality of enemies pressing round Christ. The remnant will find every imperfectly formed feeling of their hearts has been perfectly gone through and expressed by Him, He having put Himself in their place. In trusting, and in the consciousness of integrity, He has been before them.

In the Psalms mercy always goes before righteousness, and they never meet till Christ appears at the end to the remnant. It cannot be said, “Righteousness and peace have kissed each other” until the perfectness of redemption is known. I may get hope, but I cannot get peace until I get righteousness. It may be said, “Righteousness and peace have kissed each other” for the Jew when Christ comes again. A Jew under law would put righteousness before mercy—that is the law—and Israel stood on that ground. They had made the golden calf before the law was given to them; then God retires into His own sovereignty, and, to spare any, mercy comes in. It was the resource of God when wickedness came in. They have been going about to establish their own righteousness, they would not have Christ who is the end of the law for righteousness, etc., and when they come back, it will be on the ground of mercy and hope.

We, on our proper ground, are not like those who refuse to believe until they see Him; we have the end of our faith now, even the salvation of our souls. We know that righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Christ has gone into the holy place, as the Holy Ghost has come out to us, the proof of it, and we are certain Christ is received within, the full accomplishment of divine righteousness. Romans 3:20: “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified.” But it is said, “In Jehovah shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” It is not “shall” to us, but “being [that is, having been] justified by faith.” God had been forbearing in mercy with the Old Testament saints, because He knew what He was going to bring in. Now it is declared. It was not declared then.

“Not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things,” etc. “To declare at this time his righteousness.” They could say, “being fully persuaded that what God had promised he was able also to perform.” I do not simply believe that He is able, but that He has raised up His Son from the dead. I may trust He will help, but not be conscious of being helped yet; that was the patriarch’s portion. Yet I do not expect Him to do it, but know that He has done it; it is the ministration of righteousness. I have the knowledge of accomplished righteousness; righteousness is declared to faith. I am not merely hoping for mercy, trusting, and having consciousness of integrity. They could not judge sin in the same way when they had not righteousness as a settled question, which it now is for ever for those who believe. The Spirit of God now demonstrates righteousness to the world by setting Christ at God’s right hand. Christ said, “I have glorified thee on the earth”; God says to Him, “Sit thou at my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool.”

As regards the believer now, righteousness is on the right hand of God for him. The aifections ought to be more lively now that there is the certainty of accomplished righteousness.

There is another thing connected with righteousness here; righteousness is appealed to on the ground of promises, as well as that mercy goes before it. In their state there must be alternation of feeling, in the sense of hope in His mercy— trusting in God; in the consciousness of sin—down in the depths. Yet they will find One has gone down into the depths for them. The Spirit of God in Christ going through all these things shews that not one place, from the dust of death to the highest place in glory, but He has been in—sins and all having been gone under.

The weakest saint now knows more than the apostles could when Christ was on earth. They trembled and fled at the cross. We feed on that which frightened them—a dead Christ. When once founded on righteousness, our position is so different. It is sad to see a saint crouching down on the other side of divine righteousness, instead of having on the “helmet of salvation,” having communion with Him in the efficacy of His death.

There is another thing to mark in these Psalms—the character of hope running all through them. Christ looked onward to being in the presence of God, where is fulness of joy; this was the reward He looked for as the end of trusting in God’s love (Ps. 16).

The reward of righteousness is glory: “I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness.” Christ looked to return into the same glory He had left for the path of humiliation down here; the reward for it would be glory as a crown. The reward of walking with God in communion is joy in His presence (end of Ps. 16); the reward of faithful walk is the place in glory (end of Ps. 17). It is the same difference for us. Paul looked for the crown of righteousness, but his highest hope was to win Christ.

Christ will come to set everything to rights in power; judgment will return to righteousness, and all the meek of the earth shall see. This has never been known yet. When Christ comes in power, judgment and righteousness will go together. Power will be given to the Judge, who will act in righteousness. The great hindrance to our understanding the Old Testament scriptures is our putting ourselves into them. God’s faithfulness, of course, is always true; but when the Spirit of prophecy speaks of the people, and state of the people (for example God hiding His face from them), we know it does not apply to us literally. He cannot hide His face from us. His face is shining on us in Christ. Does He hide His face from Christ?

Psalm 18. Here are Christ’s sufferings even unto death. The death of Christ is the ground of all Christ’s dealing with the people from Egypt to glory.

Psalm 19 is the witness of creation and witness of the law (v. 7, etc.). Whatever man touches he defiles; but the heavens maintain the glory of God—they are what man cannot reach. Law is broken. Man cannot change it, but he has broken it.

The Psalms that follow, namely, Psalms 20, 21, and 22, are all connected, and shew the result of the position Christ takes in Psalm 16, where He takes the place of caring for “the excellent of the earth,” etc.; as though saying, The old world, the people in the flesh, I have done with, and now all My delight is with the excellent. These are they who have received Him. The connection of that, as we have seen, is that He must go through death. He must be the resurrection Man. There must be atonement. Peter was reproved for desiring this to be avoided. Flesh cannot go there; Christ alone can and does. “Whither I go thou canst not follow me now.” The moment He has to do with us, it must be Hades, or death. He cannot bless man with union with Himself in the flesh. In the millennium He governs; and we are blest now, but it is all in virtue of this—He has died and risen; therefore we are told to reckon ourselves dead. The life has come into the world that had power to go through death; the life has gone through death, and risen out of it.

Psalm 20. The remnant sympathise; and, looking on Him in His trouble, pray for Him.

In Psalm 22 the excellent of the earth come to this terrible conclusion—that they must give their Messiah up as to the flesh. They never could understand how it was to be. In the history we know the result of this when He was on earth; they all forsook Him, and fled. Then mark, we have the character of His sufferings brought out—sufferings from man. They hated Him. “Their soul abhorred me,” as Zechariah says. The history of the Gospels is that they would not have Him. They sent a message after Him, “We will not have this man to reign over us.” All this was from the hand and heart of man. One betrayed Him, another denied Him in the hour of trial, even of His disciples. Then look at the priests: what heartless indifference and unrighteousness in Pilate, who was afraid of the Jews, and washed his hands to be clean of His death! Christ looks round for companions, but finds none, for righteousness, none! for sympathy, none! for intercession, none! Mary at Bethany was a single exception; a gleam of light was there in the midst of the darkness. She, spending her heart on Him, was an appropriate witness to the Son of man—the Son of God! All except that was darkness. The more perfect His feelings, the more He suffered. It was a deep mire in which He was standing. He had to prove the wickedness of the human heart, that it is open and complete enmity to what is good. Such is flesh. Christ experienced what it is on His own person. The result of all that suffering from the hand of man is judgment on man. (See Ps. 16.) “Thou hast given him what he asked of thee.” (See Heb. 5 also: “He was heard for his piety.”) “Thine hand shall find out all thine enemies.”

There are two very distinct characters in Christ’s sufferings. There was His suffering in the world, and especially in connection with Israel; and there was this other—He came to give His life a ransom. “This is my blood of the new covenant, shed for many”: and it is outside all dispensation. We “were by nature children of wrath”; all are one as to that condition. There was a ministration “of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises,” etc., and the Gentiles were the objects of mercy; but through Christ’s coming into the world there was the end of promise. There are blessed promises made good to us as Christians, and God will fulfil all He has said for earth, but this will be in the world to come. Christ came as the vessel of promise. He came into the world, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. Then there was a third party: “As many as received him,” etc. The world knew Him not; His own received Him not. But some did receive Him; these were born of God. It was a new thing, not from the first Adam. Every Christian knows we are born anew. It is no modification of the first Adam, but a new life. “The life was manifested, and we have seen it,” etc.; and in chapter 2 of John’s epistle it is said, “which thing is true in him, and in you.” In chapter 1 of the Gospel he had said, “the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.” John the Baptist drew attention to the “Light”; the Light comes into the world, and the world knows Him not. Then, again, He comes among the Jews with everything to attract; but they saw nothing in Him to desire Him. This gives a double character to Christ’s coming into the world. He was connected with all who came of Adam, being born into the world. He was the Life and the Light of men. He did not receive life—He was it. He was the Life from heaven. God has given to us life, and that life is in His Son; not life in ourselves. This divine Person comes into the world, “God manifest in the flesh.” This is the first thing—He tries human nature, that is, the world and the Jews. He was a minister of the circumcision, bound to come because of the promises.

Christ’s coming as God manifested in the flesh tests man. Then, secondly, He became the last Adam (I am not now speaking of Him as Head of His body, the church, but as risen man) the Head of everything, the First-born from the dead. In the last Adam—Christ—we have the Man of God’s counsels; as Zechariah has it, “the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of Hosts.” This is a different thing from His merely testing the old thing, which, even in Him, ends in death. True, He said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Even then He could speak of resurrection, and in that resurrection He becomes the Head of a new thing, and He will be that for ever. This new position He never took on the earth. It was in resurrection. We could not have had it with Him without death— “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone,” etc. Such is the essence and centre of all our relationships with God. If man could have had connection with God in the flesh, on this side death, it would prove flesh good for something. It is the best thing it could be if it could delight in God; but all testimony shews us this is impossible.

Christ was here in perfect graciousness, speaking as never man spake, bringing out all His resources to meet the need of men; but the result of all this is entire and utter rejection. The history gives us Him presenting divine grace and graciousness, but His rejection in consequence. Not only has man broken God’s law—that he had done already, made a calf, etc.—but now the question was raised between the display of God’s heart and man’s heart. He says, For my love I have hatred “they hated me without a cause.” That is the whole history of the flesh—God was reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them. It is this gives the true character to the world now. Christ has been here, and has been rejected. The people were prepared by prophecy, promise, etc. Messiah came in by the door, was feeding the hungry with bread, doing all things well, as some were constrained to acknowledge; but they would not have Him.

John begins with His rejection; there is no genealogy given by him. The other Gospels give us the history of His rejection, but in these three verses of John I we have the results of what is told in the rest. The Jews are treated as a reprobate people; Christ is taken up as the rejected One. This is the starting-point with John, but grace is brought out. The result of man’s treatment of Christ will result in judgment on man.

The result of His atoning work is exactly the opposite. Why did He suffer from man? It was for righteousness. When He suffers from God, is it for righteousness? Just the opposite. He suffers for sin under the wrath of God. He was made sin! Aye, and He suffers for sin. The moment He was made sin, He had to do with God about it. He was absolutely alone in this; there were none to look on, man could not contemplate. We have not such an expression as that we have in Psalm 20, “Jehovah hear thee,” in this Psalm 22. The disciples were even as the world—they could not go there. The ark must stand in the midst of Jordan until the people are over. There was Satan’s power, God’s wages against sin. When He appeals to God for deliverance, He is not heard on the cross. He tasted death for every man. He must drink the cup of wrath—it is between God and Himself. If He had had the least comfort from God, He would not have drunk the cup. Man had nothing to do with it. If man had been there, it would have been damnation; He must be alone when suffering from God. In the thought of this suffering from sin He prayed against it. Could He say of that, “My meat is to do the will”? etc. No! not on the cross. This was the power of death, and in prospect of it, in the garden of Gethsemane, He said to His disciples, “Tarry ye here and watch”; and to God, “If it be possible, let this cup pass,” etc. Then He takes the cup from His Father’s hands. When on the cross He cries “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? “He is forsaken of God. His soul drinks the cup of wrath due to Him when He is made sin. We have His thoughts and feelings expressed where the facts are going on. In the Psalms we have the privilege thus of knowing how He felt when under them. Psalm 22 gives, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” His feelings—the fact was atonement.

All that was closed in the death of Christ, and now it is another thing, a new thing. He comes out free, discharged, clear of all He bore on the cross, and is the resurrection chief, the heavenly Man according to the counsels of God. It is into union with Him we are brought by faith—a place of unmingled and perfect grace is the result. Verse 19 shews what was the peculiar character of Christ’s sufferings through the place He took in this world, and then the place before God which results in this full blessing to us.

“Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.” He was transpierced, not saved from it, so as not to be on it; when on the horns of the unicorns (a figure expressing the awful suffering of that moment), He was heard, “Thou hast heard me from the horns,” etc. “He hath appeared once in the end of the age to put away sin,” etc. All is judged, and this new resurrection Man is now in the presence of God, instead of the sinful man cast out of the presence of God; the risen man heard from the horns of the unicorns. Then He came to give testimony of the place into which we are brought as delivered. Angels had never seen such a thing as this! God had now a new character as Saviour—the Saviour-God. Christ had thus manifestly revealed it. It is not now responsible man; which has been gone through and settled in the death of Christ. Man would not have Him; then there must be judgment on enemies (not only wicked people): this is the result. Now God says, “I am going to do something in the second Adam.” “What is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead,” etc. “And you who were dead in trespasses and sins” hath he quickened, etc. “Not of works,” etc. “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” There is the responsibility of Christians.

This new name of God, Saviour, so often mentioned in Timothy, is made known by that Man who is set at His right hand by divine power, giving new life. God came down in the person of Christ, who went into death and rose again. He is the Saviour. What is the first thing He does after His resurrection? He comes and tells His brethren of the full deliverance He has wrought. He comes to tell them, You are saved—you are brought before God—by virtue of this that I have done. Then He says to Mary Magdalene, Touch me not; I am not here among you as a King, but “I ascend unto my Father, and your Father.” He puts them into the same relationship as Himself. “I will declare thy name unto my brethren; in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.” When He has told them of the blessedness of being saved, the full joy of the deliverance, He is not going to let them praise alone. The first thing is to reveal the new relationship, and then to praise in the midst of them. What is the character of His praise? Can a single note jar in His praise? If He praises, it must be in the power of a full redemption, a finished complete deliverance; and everything not founded on this does not answer to His note of praise.

Speaking of our answering to God on the ground of this redemption, what position are we to take? We can take none but what He has taken. He comes and declares His name to His brethren, and He leads the praise Himself, so that we must in worship acknowledge the full blessing into which He has brought us. We have to follow Him in His praise in this new relationship, not in flesh but in risen life. People say, But I must be humble! Nothing is so humble as following Christ, and He has left sin behind—death behind; and, blessed be God for it! there is no other position for us.

“Ye that fear Jehovah, praise him.” This goes on to the end of verse 24. But we come in verse 25 and following verses to millennial time— “in the great congregation,” when all Israel shall be satisfied. Not only they are meek, but they praise Him. “They shall praise Jehovah that seek him.” People now are often sorrowful and unhappy in seeking, but not then. Verse 27. All Israel will not do, but “all the ends of the world shall remember, and turn to Jehovah.” Verse 31. “They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness, etc., that he hath done this “(borne their sins).

All this latter part (v. 25-31) as we have seen refers to millennial blessing on earth; but we know our position is spoken of as “sitting in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” He has suffered from God, and there is not a word of judgment afterwards; He has suffered for sin, and exhausted it. He is the exalted Man, and as such He will execute judgment as the result of His being rejected of man. As to the saints— “the excellent”—His connection with them is the key to all the blessing for us. Two things are connected with this: first, unbounded grace; and, secondly, the place we are practically set in—a new footing. We have new life from God; we are not of the world, and should be nothing in the spirit of grace, because not of it.

Psalm 23. Jehovah is the Shepherd, going before the sheep in the path. We cannot say Christ was a sheep: He is Jehovah; but He emptied Himself—went before them—passed through every difficulty and trial yet more than the sheep.

Psalm 24. The consequence is that He is found to be the very Jehovah; the One who in humiliation was trusting is received on high, and owned in His glory.

Psalm 25. Here another point comes in. Up to this there is no mention of sins; they are a tried remnant, but there are no sins confessed till now. This is what makes the great difference for any soul. That they are sinners is a farther part of the history. But atonement and grace come out in Psalm 22. The remnant, before they trust in Christ, cry to Jehovah. There is not integrity lost, but sins are confessed. Christ has combined the expression of confession and trust together. They can look for mercy, expect mercy, and confess their sins. They will be trusting, and yet not knowing how they can trust. The soul is brought into the thorough and deep consciousness of what God is—despairing and hoping (we are the same when under law) alternately. The state of the Jews will be this—not having the application in the conscience of what the cross reaches. All needed is brought out in the cross; but what the cross has done in bringing out to light righteousness and love is not seen all at once. With us it is often by little and little that the blessed picture seen in Christ makes its way into the soul. Then it is all light; but darkness may come in afterwards. At first there is only reckoning on the blessedness of Christ. When that reaches the conscience it brings bitterness: what at first attracted the heart did not reach the elements of good and evil. When it reaches these, it does not minister peace, because the man has not learned the thing to which it applies in his own soul. It is a wonderful thing to see Christ coming, and saying, “My sins.” Christ made Himself one with me, taking all my debts upon Him— my Surety! He has gone down into the depths. “My iniquities”; any one of the remnant might say that. There is the remnant’s voice in it, but there is Christ’s first. He has taken them. They suffer from them, never for them—it would be eternal condemnation if they did. “He was wounded for our transgressions,” etc.

In this psalm there is confession of sins, and sense of integrity (v. 5). “On thee do I wait all the day,” etc. Integrity, coming back with the consciousness of sins, but confidence of pardon: “Pardon mine iniquity, for it is great.” God brings in the question of living righteousness, and therefore gives the consciousness of sins: “For thy name’s sake pardon mine iniquity, for it is great.” This is strange reasoning, according to man’s thought: men say it is a little sin, but when taught of God we see how great it is.

Another thing is, truth is in the man, because he feels the sin is great; he has given up any thought of justifying himself, “My iniquity is great.” If God docs not forgive me for His own glory’s sake, He cannot do it at all; and not one spot of sin will He leave, for the comfort of my own heart, or the glory of His name. So we see for Israel by-and-by in Isaiah 44:22, etc. They are made to rest in absolute mercy, in sovereign grace. Grace is perfect in getting rid of the sins.

The psalms following Psalm 25 give details of these experiences, as they are going through this time of trial. Psalm 26 gives the other side of the repentant soul, not confidence in grace, but integrity. In Psalm 27 Jehovah is the desire and refuge, as He had bid them seek. In Psalm 28 evil is felt, judgment looked for, in separation of heart to the Lord. In Psalm 29 the mighty are reminded of the Mightiest. In Psalm 30 trust in prosperity is contrasted with Jehovah, who is above the power of death. From Psalm 31 Christ could quote the words of departing confidence in His Father (not Jehovah only), though it be about the godly and redeemed remnant. Psalm 32 is the answer to Psalm 25. “Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” “Covered “is an allusion to the mercy-seat covering. Sins are put away, no more to be remembered. This is held out before them as hope. They will have the consciousness of forgiveness when they see Him. “In whose spirit there is no guile”; in the forgiveness the guile is all gone.

Psalm 33 follows this up with the joy of full deliverance by Jehovah’s intervention, and Psalm 34 shews the soul praising at all times because of the unchanging God who governs all. Psalm 35 appeals to His judgment against cruel crafty persecutors, as Psalm 36 sees good and evil in His light, followed up by Psalm 37, which exhorts the godly to wait on Jehovah in meekness, undisturbed by the passing prosperity of the wicked. Psalms 38, and 39 own Jehovah’s chastening because of their sins; but they are open before Himself, and silent with man, but cry for His help. The latter goes farther and more deeply than the former, the vanity of man being realised rather than their personal feelings.

Then we have the introduction of One who changes all in Psalm 40. “I waited patiently,” etc. Here is the reason why the remnant should trust Jehovah. He has been delivered from the horrible pit and the miry clay (shewing resurrection). There are some special psalms connected with Christ round which others seem clustered; this is one of them. Here is Christ’s actual connection with the people on earth, not only in their sorrows, but bearing their sins, so that all who looked to Him might be blessed with Him. “I, poor and needy, the Lord thinketh upon me.” “Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee.”

Christ did not take one step to save Himself. He might have had twelve legions of angels, but He was waiting upon God. He appeals to God as Jehovah, not Father, because that relationship had not been brought out as now it is. The Jew did not know the Father as He is now revealed, and Christ was taking the place of a godly Jew among them, therefore He takes up the relationship known to them. One or two verses often bring out the subject of the psalm, and the rest are the development of that. What He did in the position He was in is the great point here—what He went through—what He felt. The grand principle is that He waited on Jehovah. He is undertaking the cause of the poor remnant, goes through all their sorrows, and bears their sin. In the last it is for them, not with them; and He gives them the comfort of being taken up to the same position of praising with Himself. “Many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in Jehovah.”

Then there is the great central truth: “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire”: “Mine ears hast thou digged!” “He taketh away the first that he may establish the second.” Christ came to do God’s will. Everything centres in Christ. All blessing is connected with relationship to Christ, whether outcast reprobates (Gentiles), or God’s people who had broken the covenant. All is set aside; and Christ, who says “Lo, I come to do thy will,” becomes everything.

“Mine ears hast thou digged” is not the same thing as is spoken of in Isaiah 50, “He wakeneth mine ear.” It has a peculiar character. He is offering Himself before He came. In Philippians 2 we read that He becomes a man, taking the form of a servant, having ears, doing nothing but what He was told, listening to every word that came out of God’s mouth. “By every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God doth man live.” He had ears to receive it. Christ had no desire to do anything different from God’s will. God’s will was His motive. Never to stir but as another will guide you is perfect-ness as a man. Christ waited for the expression of His Father’s will before doing anything. Christ on earth was in the form of a servant. How did He get there? By putting off all the glory of having a will—offering Himself before He came. It was His will to come: His love brought Him. “Lo, I come to do thy will.” This was will, but it was the Father’s will. He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. He told His disciples, in going forth, to say, “Peace, and if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it; if not, it shall turn to you again.” So it was with Him. He was obedient, because He offered Himself to obey. There was nothing but obedience (power, of course, in Him); He is in the place of perfect obedience. The first word is not from God, “Do you go,” but from Christ, “Lo, I come.” In the counsels of God it was written in the book. This gives us a knowledge of Christ, His intercourse with God, before He came. Here is Christ, the divine person, the source of all the blessing, taking the place of obedience. He is the Servant now! What is He doing for us? Bringing out God to us, to our eye. He has brought God right down to our heart.

“I have preached righteousness in the great congregation.” He made perfectly good God’s character in the world, and this cost Him His life. He went out to all the people, declared God’s faithfulness, was not hindred, did not hide and got into “miry clay “in consequence, under all that could press a man down. Christ has not failed to bring all that God is to us. How we want it in a world that has got away as far as it can from God, with its artifices, etc., like Cain! Others talked about the thing, but Christ was the thing. In every word and act they might have seen the Father, if they had had eyes to see. Christ can say, I know the world, what it is; I have gone through it all, like Noah’s dove, and never found an echo: now you come to Me! I will give you rest. There is never any rest for a human soul, but in Him. One then learns of Him in the meekness and submission of His soul.

Psalm 41 closes the book with the blessedness of him who considers the poor, not the proud but poor, of the flock, as having God’s mind. This Christ understood fully, as He was it perfectly, and availed Himself of a sentence in it about one who was as far from this mind as could be. But as the wicked do not triumph in the end, so Jehovah favours, even upon the earth, the despised for whom plots are laid, upholds them in integrity, and sets them before His face for ever.

Psalm 4

David, the instrument that God employed to give us the Psalms, as also the other Psalmists, passed through the circumstances of which they speak. Hence there are found in them more experiences than prophecies. They are all prophetic no doubt, but at the same time characteristically give us experiences. It is the Spirit of Christ which by means of the prophet thinks and speaks of these experiences. The prophet meets with like circumstances, and the Holy Spirit gives him to express his feelings. One knows the circumstances which occasioned several of the psalms; but the Spirit of God has an object to which the circumstances correspond. The first verses of the psalm contain ordinarily the summary.

David, seeing his glory defamed, figures the Messiah here. The circumstances are like those of Jesus before Herod. David is in a strait. The proofs of the power of God with respect to Israel fail him; he was also according to man in despair. All the authorities were against him. He had lost all with those who followed him. The Amalekites had swept everything away. David had nothing left but the Eternal. The soul and the church find themselves in like circumstances.

The latter half of verse 6 is the answer to the demand, “Who will shew us any good? Jehovah, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.” When the soul rests entirely on the Eternal and has nothing but God, it enters into peace and joy. It is easy to bless God when the circumstances are as we wish. But if God leaves us there, He leaves us far from Him, preoccupied with the things that perish. Eden is now impossible. If man is content with what he finds here below, he is content with death, with that which passes away. The soul is ever pushed to the point of saying, “Who will shew us any good?” There is nothing that abides as the stay of the soul. One finds oneself outside Eden; God seems not for us; Satan is against us. One must be driven there to understand that all around is far from God, without seeing any good in self or any resource outside it.

If God reveals Himself to the soul, it feels its condition, and that, instead of escaping from God, it must find Him. Outside Him is no rest. It is then the soul can say, “Lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.” If the soul withdraws from God, it occupies itself with things here below as its object. God exercises discipline to recall from such a state. Faith finds in Him the same answer. When the soul gets back to God, it no more has other resources or other desires. It says, Lord, lift thou up, etc. It is entirely satisfied with being in the light of God’s countenance. When in the midst of hankerings and difficult circumstances the soul turns to God, a great work is already done in the heart. Sin is come into the world, and there is nothing that is not infected with it. God can find nothing in the world to enrich us with, nothing that does not fill the hand of death which seizes all. He gives and makes known Christ, and thus sets apart the godly for Himself with the confidence that He hears us (v. 3). Thus by Him we learn the truth as to all.

The moment Christ is thus recognised by virtue of the Holy Spirit, the heart attaches itself to Him, and finds its treasure in Him, seeing that there is nothing good in itself. The more one sees in man the ignorance of spiritual things, the more also one feels the necessity of knowing what we are. This discovery of the state of our souls makes us understand that all is vanity by the revelation of that which fixes and attaches us to God in His unchanging goodness. For as Christ has been judged for all that was evil and vain in us, so God discovers to us all that He is in our favour. We have always the assurance, founded on Christ, that God will lift on us the light of His countenance. There is in Him no variableness nor shadow of turning; and we know that He has before Him the Beloved, and has chosen us in Him, and we cannot seek peace in vanity.

After creating all, God rested from His work; but sin has spoiled it all and turned it into vanity, so that God cannot any longer rest there. There is one only man, Jesus, in whom He finds His good pleasure. He does not change the world, but chooses the Beloved before His face. There is the rock of our assurance—Christ and His work on our behalf. Faith finds its rest and peace in God, whatever be the difficulties. To enjoy the favour of God and the light of His countenance is our sole good. This goes deep into the heart—whether we are content with all if God lifts upon us the light of His face. There is what gives uprightness.

If I look to the countenance of God, the opinions of men do not shake me. If we think there is any good thing in us, we are still in rebellion against God. The world is content to receive good things from God; but the moment they cease, the heart’s rebellion and ingratitude are manifest. It is in Christ alone that God has all His complacency, because the world is all alienated from Him. He is also our Beloved, for He has reconciled us to God. The Sop of God loved me and gave Himself for me. The Beloved of God is my Beloved.

Am I content whatever the circumstances provided that God lifts upon me the light of His face? If we are not, there is still in us something which the Holy Spirit condemns. If the heart acts on the circumstances, happiness is lost when they change, and one cannot say, Lord, lift Thou upon me the light of Thy countenance. When the heart is attached to Christ, we find in Him all that can be conceived, yea, all that God can reveal of blessedness. A Christian ought not day by day to desire any other thing than Christ. Then we enjoy the light of God’s countenance shining on us and reject all that is inconsistent with Him and His glory.

Psalm 8

In Psalm 1 we saw the righteous man, delighting in the law and the normal results of the earthly government of God as to just and unjust. Then Psalm 2 declared that, spite of all the world, He will bring in His incarnate Son, and set Him as king on the holy hill of Zion; the latter exhibiting the counsels, as the former did the governmental principles, of God. Psalms 3-7 express the exercises of the godly amongst the ungodly who are in power. In these psalms, consequently, we hear the righteous remnant looking for the Lord’s coming in judgment to sustain their faith and make good His word; but they pass through every sort of trial, for the circumstances suppose that Christ is not reigning over the earth, and that evil is not yet judged. God is standing back as it were; nevertheless He turns these trials of circumstances and exercises of heart of the godly to their profit, a blessing much deeper than if the judgment fell at once on the ungodly.

Psalm 8 is of another character. Jehovah is to be glorified in the earth, as well as His glory to be set above the heavens. As a whole, we know this has not been yet. The Father’s name has been declared, and is now, to the hearts of the children. The Son of man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. But never yet has the name of Jehovah become excellent in all the earth. Our psalm announces that it is to be universally glorified here below. It will be when Christ takes the government of the universe. But this depends on His coming (1 Cor. 15), when the dead saints rise, and the living saints are changed. He is head over all things to the church, which is His body (Eph. 1). This we do not yet see with our eyes; but we do by faith see Jesus already crowned, the witness and pledge of all the rest (Heb. 2). The church meanwhile is being gathered. When He enters on the kingdom, we shall come and reign with Him. The only thing in which, as a Christian, I can separate myself from Christ, is where He was made sin. To look at His glory is to look at our own; and He, the glorified man, is exalted above all creatures, and has dominion over all the works of God’s hand.

From Luke 9 we learn, that, being morally rejected as the Christ or Messiah, Jesus would not set Himself up as king. Then He takes another title— “Son of man,” and as such, He must suffer. He does not permit that He should be proclaimed any more as the Christ of Psalm 2, but falls back on the name of “Son of man,” as in Psalm 8. He must suffer before the glory, and be exalted in heaven, before He takes the earthly crowns. “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” As Son of man, He is to have all things under Him, and not merely the throne of Zion. That is to be accomplished too; but, according to Isaiah 49, He is to have the Gentiles also. Yea, God will gather together in one all things in Christ, whether things on earth or things in heaven; and we shall be the heavenly Eve of the last Adam—the Lord from heaven. In the Psalms we find the Christ we are associated with, but not our association with Him. The scheme of divine government there supposed has not yet begun. Christ is to be king, and this over the earth. Psalms 2 and 8 are prophetic. He has not yet broken the nations with a rod of iron. His anger is to fall on the rebellious kings before the predicted reign of blessing commences. We are now, as it were, associated with Aaron in the sanctuary, before He comes out to the deliverance and salvation of His earthly people.

Christ’s Association Of Himself With His People On Earth
Psalm 16.

I need hardly say that there are many aspects in which we may consider the character of our Lord Jesus Christ; for He is the summing up of all possible beauty and perfection in Himself. But He is more than this. He is the means and measure by which we can judge of everything besides. If I want to know God, I must learn Him in Christ. If I want to know what man is in perfection, I learn it by Christ. In a word, all real truth is learnt, and learnt only, in or by Christ. Whether it be man, or sin, or death, or life, or love, or hatred, all is manifested in Christ, or by Christ. Hence the importance of having the soul occupied with Christ, of feeding on Him, since He is the only transforming power, and the only standard of excellence, and the light by which all things else are made manifest.

It is not the joy of deliverance that is presented in this psalm, nor the work by which deliverance is accomplished; but rather the Deliverer in His humiliation and walk on earth, drawn out as the attractive object of our souls. For Christ is an object in a double way. He is an object in glory to attract cur souls upward from the earth, as it is said, “seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God.” But He is no less an object in His humiliation as presenting the embodiment of all moral excellence before God, and that in a world through which we are called to pass.

If we contemplate Christ in glory, this gives us the definite-ness of that hope to which we are predestinated, for we are predestinated to be conformed to the image of God’s Son. “We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” This awakens the energy of hope, of joy, and gladness. If we are delivered from death, through the blood of Christ, we are also planted in Him as the objects of God’s delight. Christ’s position before the Father, and His relation to Him, mark our position and relationship through infinite grace; for He says, “I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” We are like Him in the sight of His Father, and our praises should not jar with His.

“We wait [it is true] for the hope of righteousness by faith”; not for “righteousness by faith,” because we have that, or rather in Him are that; but we wait for the hope that belongs to it; and we know what that is, for it is that which has now in glory. And we are to be “changed into the same image from glory to glory.” Christ is our righteousness, and we have it, or rather we are it; “we are made the righteousness of God in him.” But we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness. The Spirit was sent down to witness that Christ is glorified; and hence He becomes an object to us in the glory.

It is not good for the soul only to contemplate Christ as an agent, important as this is in its place. No question, if I am feeding on Christ, dwelling on Him with admiration and delight and joy, as the object of my soul, it pre-supposes a knowledge of Him as an agent accomplishing redemption by His death, and having taken His place on high for us, and so maintaining the integrity of our position before God and our communion with Him. But if I am looking at the priesthood of Christ, precious and necessary as it is, He is still before me, more as an agent than the object of my soul. As priest, He is a servant in grace. To see Him girded thus for service doubtless draws out the affections, and gives power and energy, and brightens our hearts all along the road. But then all manner of exercise of heart comes in here; because Christ deals with us in this according to what we practically are The priesthood of Christ has to do with weakness and infirmities, with the ever-varying exercises of the soul: and hence it is said, “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Righteousness ever abides in God’s presence, and hence the ground of the restoration of communion when it has been lost. If any man sin, we are not driven to a distance but the soul is restored because Christ has prayed for us. It is not that we have to ask Him to intercede, or to exercise His priesthood for us, but that He has done so; for the movement of grace is always on His heart. The priesthood of Christ is for those who are righteous, who are redeemed, in order to carry them on through the wilderness of this world. He is their Advocate, constantly carrying on their affairs, and the Holy Ghost is spoken of by the same title (for “the Comforter” is indeed the Advocate).

Thus Christ applies, in divine wisdom, to the heart, all that we have by virtue of His intercession. He is perfectly cognizant of all that is in us, and knows how to meet it. It is not the idea that I am going to glory, but that, God having set me in perfect righteousness, He teaches me by the priesthood of Christ to discern between good and evil according to His light, or according to His nature. I am utterly dependent in my condition, and He feeds me day by day with manna as I need. As He said of Israel: “Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live. Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years,” Deut. 8:2-4.

He never forgot Israel for a single day, because all their supplies in the wilderness depended on His remembrance and faithful care; and His care as our High Priest and Advocate is the same to us now. In all this Christ is an agent; but in this psalm He is an object—an object in His humiliation, and, more properly, the food of our souls. He is not our food in glory, but in humiliation. We feed on Him here, as a living and dead Christ. Christ does not say in John 6, “The bread of God is he” which went up to heaven; but “He which cometh down from heaven and giveth life unto the world.”

That which especially draws out our affections is the tracing of Christ’s passage through this world, through everything down here about which He has to deal with us. When He was on earth, the Father could delight in Him in the beginning of His path, on account of His inherent excellence; and at the close, because of His developed perfection. He could say, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”; and God has given us for delight, the very same object in which He delights. What do we say then? Why, in weakness and poverty, it is true, yet surely, with unhesitating confidence, we say the same! We cannot indeed reach His perfectness in our thoughts; but then the very sense we have of the poverty and weakness of our apprehensions is because the Father has shewn us something of His perfectness.

The Father, in communicating His own delight, does not say, This is My beloved Son in whom you ought to be well pleased, but in whom I am well pleased. How marvellous that the Father should tell us what His thoughts are about His Son, and what His delight is in Him! It was not what was true about Christ that attracted the poor woman in Simon’s house (Luke 7:37-50), but it was the beauty and attractiveness of Christ Himself that absorbed her heart. She loved and admired Him for what He was, before she knew what He was for her. When she knew this, she could reflect upon it, and this would give the ground of constancy to her affections and delight. Jesus commended all she did—her tears—her affection—her silence; because all were drawn forth by her contemplation of Himself.

But, before we can properly feed on Christ as our food, we must know Him as our righteousness. Some are attracted to Christ for a while, and have joy in Him, but for the want of a knowledge of righteousness lose their joy, and know not how to find it again. Righteousness sets us in peace before God, and then we have fellowship, and can speak of it; as the apostle says, “truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” And on the same ground we have fellowship one with another. Connected with this there are three things: 1st, Walking in the light as God is in the light; 2nd, consequent fellowship and communion one with another; 3rd, being perfectly cleansed by the blood. When the soul has the sense of being perfectly cleansed by the blood of Christ, and His death is thus entered into, there is the ground for feeding on Christ, and occupancy with Him as our object. And this the Lord reckons on as a result of His love. He says to His disciples, “If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go to the Father.” He reckons on their affections making them glad on account of His joy; and He only refers to His joy, to shew how He looks for their sympathy to be engaged with what concerned Himself. This however cannot be until salvation is known. But Christ should be our object; and dwelling on what He is, the food of our souls.

Two things form perfection in the creature before God: dependence and obedience. Independence is sin—necessarily so. All effort after a freedom of this nature is but an attempt to break away from the sense of creature-dependence on God. The action of our own will is sin.

When Christ became man He took the character of a dependent, an obedient one. His Father’s will was not only His guide in all He did, but His motive in doing it: and this was His perfection. Observe the place of dependence He takes in verse i of this Psalm: “Preserve me, O God! for in thee do I put my trust.” It is beautiful to see His obedience, and beautiful to see it in dependence too.

Whenever the Father has His rightful place in our affections, He has it in everything. “Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” Take the example of a child in pleasing a father: love makes it a matter of perfect indifference to the child’s heart as to what the thing is that is to be done; it is done to please its father, and this is motive enough for anything. And how does the heart look back with delight, and trace this in Christ, in all His ways in His pathway through this world! He had all power, but never used it to serve Himself. From the manger to the cross it was the embodiment of the word, “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God!” Because He was above all evil, He was able to go through all evil, unassailable by it; while at the same time He was capable of touching and dealing with those who were in it.

In the words, “I said unto Jehovah, Thou art my Lord,” Christ takes the place of the servant to God; and there is not a step in the path of life—divine life—but He trod it, in order to shew it to us. Surely it was enough to draw out the delight of the Father to see the Son, as man, walking down here, in everything dependent upon His pleasure, and in everything obedient to His will. And we know indeed that it was so, from the opened heavens at the baptism of John, and from the voice from the excellent glory— “this is my beloved Son.” In everything He manifested a blessed and perfect dependence. He came out from the Father, and carried back into His presence, a man with the stamp of the same blessed perfectness which He had with the Father before the world was.

He says, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life”; and He passed through death in dependence on the Father. Adam found the path of death in his folly; but back to the path of life he never could get. The trees of knowledge and of life to this day are perplexing the minds of men; but no reason nor philosophy of man can reconcile responsibility and the gift of life. Man cannot make it out. From the beginning he has tried to stand in responsibility, whenever the mind has been awakened to acknowledge the claims of God, without a knowledge of His grace. But in everything he has failed; and all that he has done by it is to earn death. Christ comes into the place of ruin and death, and makes out and shews us the path of life—that “path which the vulture’s eye hath not seen.” He was the life; and He tracks a path for us in the wild waste— “in the wilderness,” as it is said, “where there is no way.” He finds it and shews it to us, and we have to learn to tread it in dependence and obedience. To Him it must be through death; therefore He says, If any man will follow me, “he must take up his cross.” Christ would rather die than disobey; there is His perfectness. We have to tread in the same steps; but Christ before us is the One we have to look to, to think on, to feed upon, in this wild waste of sin and death. It is not the quantity we do that marks our spirituality; but the perfectness with which we present Christ.

“In thy presence there is fulness of joy.” There are two parts of blessedness—being with Christ, and being like Christ. If we were constantly before God in the consciousness of being unlike Him, it would only distress. But we shall be with Him and like Him; and the consciousness of this is blessedness. With Him we shall enjoy the Father’s countenance; crowned and sitting on thrones, but delighting to cast our crowns down before Him, and to say, “Thou art worthy” —our souls being filled with the excellency of Him who is in the midst.

The saints, the excellent of the earth, with whom Christ associates Himself, are all His delight. No matter how feeble or how failing; He says they are the excellent, and His delight is in them—not in their state, it may be, but in them. And He must have them with Him. “Father, I will that those whom thou hast given me may be with me where I am.” He would have them with Him! He will be in company with them in the glory, in the presence of His Father, where is “fulness of joy.” And oh! may it rest on our minds in what way Christ associates Himself with the excellent down here; and may our hearts dwell on God’s delight in Him, and on His perfectness down here, that we may make it our delight to trace His footsteps, weigh His words, and feed on Him.

Thoughts On Psalm 16

As Psalm 15 gives the character of those who will have their portion with Christ in His kingdom, when God sets Him as King in Zion, so in Psalm 16 Christ Himself seems to say, I have come down from that place God Himself had assigned Me, and taken My place in the pathway of faith—the very same that you are in—the place of rejection, of sorrow, of suffering, the place that the godly remnant find themselves in. Therefore is His cry to God. He used not His own divine power to escape any suffering; and, remember, it was not suffering for sin, not chastening, but the path of faith—as He says, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life.” Therefore had He His ear opened morning by morning. He fully entered into the sorrows of the wilderness. There is not a sorrow comes upon a saint, not a trial of faith in which we can find ourselves, but Christ can fully sympathise with us in it. If we only set our foot in the narrow way (it is with the new nature He sympathises), then we find this blessed One has been before us. It is astonishing how much we are sustained by circumstances, how we lean upon the circumstances that the Lord never had in His path. Much of our joy is derived from a thousand things that Christ never had joy in, and that gave Him not a moment’s sustainment. We may find ourselves losing, or in danger of losing, not a few things by faithfulness. What then? We shall only be brought nearer to the Lord Himself. If the path becomes rougher than ever it was before, surely we shall find only the more of the sympathy of Him who has trodden it in all its roughness. Therefore can He be called “the Author and Finisher of faith,” because He has run the whole course of faith. He has suffered every kind of suffering and trial that besets the path. We may each one of us have this or that peculiar trial or sorrow. Ours is but a taste of that which He drank to the dregs—like a shade of that which in its real depth of grief He knew. The contradiction of sinners beset Him on every side.

We may know somewhat of it in any little measure of faithfulness we shew. We may be called to give up father and mother, or, as the Lord says, to “hate father and mother,” etc. But what had He to comfort Him from any such sources? Everything like a prop here was gone, yet could He say in the face of all that, “The lines are fallen to me in pleasant places, yea, I have a goodly heritage. Thou wilt shew me the path of life.” Suppose death comes, Jesus could say, “My flesh also shall rest in hope.” Hezekiah knew and said in his trial, By all these things men live, and in all these things is the life of the spirit.

There is chastening, and the like, needed by us; but Christ never sought to do anything but to please God. His sufferings therefore proceeded only from His walking in the path of life. All that could try faith came upon Him, while He was without anything which we have so fully that could sustain nature. Still we find Him in death trusting in God. “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither,” etc. The path of life was perfectly opened out to us in Christ. There is a deep joy in entering in spirit into Christ’s paths. The remnant enter into it in Psalm 20. The thorough realising of what Christ was as a man down here. There is nothing lays hold on the heart, nothing feeds it, like that. Every sorrow that the heart of any can go through, as walking in the path of righteousness, Jesus knew in His path. This renders His sympathy so peculiarly sweet. Any exaggeration would be dangerous on this subject, thus taking away our portion. It is true fellowship with Christ’s sufferings that gives the energy of hope. This is drawn out by the glory being unfolded to us by His sufferings. I am more and more struck in reading the Psalms thus as connected with the Jews.

When I look at the church, I can only say it is nothing but sovereign grace that picks up wretched sinners and links them with Jesus, giving them the same place, the same portion, “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” I can only gaze with wonder and adore. It was the counsel of God from everlasting—His sovereign grace. I cannot then talk of God’s government or His dealings with us, since no principles of government could make us members of Christ’s body, etc. It was all sovereign grace. The church is the fulness, the body, of Christ. Once lay hold of that, and what is the consequence? It draws out wonder, admiration, worship.

But that is not all; there is another thing for us. What mercy to know that my salvation is secure! But now as set free from anxiety about myself I am to be occupied with Him by whom all this wondrous work was wrought. I find there is not a sorrow or difficulty in the pathway of life which He is not interested in. This is other knowledge than the knowledge of salvation. It draws out trust and confidence and love, as Job says, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” We find Christ Himself going through it all—not suffering for sin indeed, but for righteousness. Only on the cross did He know what it was to suffer for sin—our sins. There indeed He knew the forsaking of God. If I suffer as a saint, I find the full sympathy of Jesus. If for sin, the Lord has no sympathy with sin, though He Himself needed to suffer for us, and thus to become known to us not as the Bread that came down from heaven only, but giving His flesh for the life of the world (John 6). Do you thus feed upon Him? Do you know Him as thus made the food for your souls, that which turns into the substance of life? Then feed on Him. This is what the knowledge of Him leads to. It is another thing from the energy of hope. The effect of being occupied with the glory, where Christ now is, is to enable us to overcome the difficulties that obstruct our way and to reach forward.

Occupation with His walk as a man shews us the path of godliness. We see Him taking it in His baptism. When those whose eyes were opened to see the principles of the kingdom (conscious that they were bearing anything but the good fruit) took the place of confession, Jesus was there. The One who had so fully taken the place as man as to say to God, “Thou art my Lord,” says also of the saints, “In them is all my delight.” We find this in Hebrews 2— “He is not ashamed to call them brethren, for both he that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified are all of one.”

“Being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself,” etc. His state was not having a will to do something or other that must be stopped; no, He could say, “Lo, I come to do thy will.” Such is christian obedience, and true liberty, not to require checking in our wills, but to have the same kind of obedience as Christ’s. He stands alone in His sufferings in our stead. Nothing equals the glory that 3$6 will have as the Saviour of sinners. Other glory we sharo with Him, but in that He is alone. In His walk He sets us an example. In His trust in God, etc., He never takes a single step to get the reward of obedience, but asks of His Father, as in John 17, “Father, glorify thy Son,” etc.; and here, in the simplest confidence, “Thou wilt not leave my soul,” etc. Patience with Him had its perfect work. He never stirs even when they told Him, “he whom thou lovest is sick.” He waited patiently till the right time; and now His desire for His people is that they might have His joy fulfilled in themselves— that joy which He knew when He said, “My meat is to do the will,” etc. He trod the path of sorrow and rejection here, but He had joy in that very path, as He says, “The lines are fallen to me in pleasant places.”

In Psalm 22 we get the cry of the Lord at the cross. No suffering for sin till then, but the great principle of the communion of Christ with the sorrows of the new nature in the saints was true before then.

In the measure in which we enter into the path, we get communion with Christ. The affections of Christ more known to us, we become better acquainted, as it were, with the heart of Christ. This is not a question of safety, but of growing up unto Him. The heavens were opened over Him when He took the place publicly of identifying Himself with those who were in reality the godly. When we get into that place, the Spirit of God can lead us into the understanding of these things—taking of the things of Christ, and shewing them unto us. But if one say, I am not there, cannot we delight in tracing Christ in it? Even if we are not walking in the place as we should be, it is most blessed to trace His walk in it. It is our privilege to walk in it, our highest privilege here; and so only shall we be fully able to enjoy our proper portion, Christ, as led and taught of the Spirit.

Psalm 25

There is something to touch us in seeing a soul open out to God without yet enjoying deliverance. It knows well that he who waits on God shall not be confounded; but peace is not there though seen from afar. We must remark the manner in which God receives this opening of heart. He takes cognisance of all that passes in the soul: fear, hope, sins, deliverance. God would have us understand that He occupies Himself with it all.

The Psalms, because of their prophetic character, are the expression of the Holy Spirit’s operation in the soul before it finds peace. They do not give the definitive answer of the love of God. There is in our hearts a depth of hardness, of insensibility, of levity such that it is needful God should take pains with them to fix them and bring them down to the feeling of their incapacity. God fixes the soul by the sense of its wants. We are so miserable that the only means of giving us the idea of God’s love is by fixing the heart through its wants on the contemplation of what God is; so that where the sense of want fails the love of God is totally unknown, as if it did not exist.

In verses 7-11 there is a deep principle. It is only when we are thoroughly convinced that our iniquity is “great” that we feel the need we have of God and of His pardon. One might think of a little iniquity that one had just to remedy oneself, or that God might pass it over. The heart of man upsets everything. He puts the uprightness of Jehovah before His grace, His truth before His mercy, and thinks that, if a man walk as he ought, God will be good toward him. That is just the contrary of what is said here. “Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O Lord. Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will he teach sinners in the way. The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies. For thy name’s sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great,” v. 7-11. Jehovah who is “upright” loves uprightness; but before all He would have the wretched sinner know Him as “good.” The ill-enlightened soul that knows its faults up to a certain point desires to arrive at enjoying the goodness of God by its own uprightness. It is the proof of a state of heart which knows not God and which hardens itself against all the history He has given of man’s heart, as well as of Himself, in the word. Hardness of heart rises against the grace of God, and nothing more hinders grace from acting than the thought that, if one is upright, God will be good; and this, because the heart is neither lowly nor softened, and pride is not yet destroyed therein.

Man wishes that one should not speak to him of his sins. The action of the Holy Spirit, on the contrary, makes one own and confess sin in detail. We can speak of sin in general, or yet more of the sins of which we are not guilty; but otherwise a man does not speak of his own sins. Did not Peter say to the Jews, “Ye denied the Holy One and the Just,” although he had done so himself in a manner still more shameful? Why did he speak of that sin without blushing? The Holy Spirit alone could give him to do so through Him who came by water and blood. Paul when converted and in peace speaks freely to the Lord Jesus of the sins he had done against His name and saints. An unconverted man can speak of evil or of other sins than his own, having no confidence in God’s grace for eternal life or remission. A thief may blame a drunkard; but no one naturally speaks of his own sins, because the conscience avoids being upright before God. Men would hide their sins and shew their good qualities; they would pass as honest good sort of people, and get rid of God. In that case one has no need of the goodness of God. People will try to meet the goodness of God by a certain uprightness; but there is no true confidence in God, and every hope of rendering worship to God in this state of things is a fraud. God begins with what we are; He takes us such as we are; and man will not have it so.

God presents to us in the Bible the most extraordinary things. He lays out all His counsels and all His resources for the evil state in which man is found. We see then all the efforts and the pains God has taken to put Himself in relation with the heart of man. It is the greatest hardness of heart to see, without being thereby touched, all that which God has done, and the action of His Spirit in those who are saved. One sees hearts with God’s goodness out before them, yet abiding far from Him, such as they are. The hard heart sees all that and goes its own way. The heart that is thus has not yet received the least seed of life.

But one may also be convinced of sin and seek to recover before God the place one has lost. This soul believes that there is some means other than pure pardon. It has not yet true relations with God. It cannot any longer seek the world; it observes the Lord’s day; it attends meetings, and rests on the like. But then the soul is not convinced that God is love, any more than it is in the presence of God with a true knowledge of itself. Not being humbled, it chooses itself a way to arrive at God, and cannot say, “I wait on thee,” as in verses 5, 21. It is when we are convinced there is no question of getting to God, but that we are in His presence and lost, that we can say, “For thy name’s sake, O Jehovah, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great.” There is no more thought of bettering the conduct in order to get to God; there is no more a way to pave. We no longer desire then to avoid God, but we see ourselves before Him such as we are. If God is revealed, we have to understand that which He is Himself, and then comes the knowledge of His grace. It is a question of knowing what God is in respect to the sinner who is always in His presence. God is always “good,” and He will not sanction the wickedness of man in leaving him quiet though hardened. Instead of reproaching with the sin, God brings to the conviction of sin in making it felt that He has seen the sin, that He has thought of it, and that He has found a means of pardoning and of teaching sinners the way they should follow.

“For thy goodness’ sake,” “for thy name’s sake”: there is ground on which the soul founds its confidence. Impossible that God should fail His own name (John 17:6). He is “good and upright.” What does the goodness of God to a trembling and miserable sinner? It does not cast up to him his misery, but takes cognisance of it to inspire him with full confidence and give him courage. God would deny Himself if He failed in His goodness in this case. God cannot do otherwise; He sees to His own name, His glory, His truth, His grace, in a word to all that He is, as we read in the father of the prodigal son (Luke 15:20-25).

God makes us understand that He occupies Himself with our sins long before we ourselves were occupied with them. If the goodness of God is occupied with them, it must be that He is so to get rid of them altogether, and He has given Jesus for this purpose. To blot out our sins completely—there is what God’s goodness would and must do. But if one would arrive at pardon by progress in holiness, it is to choose the road for oneself. God puts the sinner at his ease in His presence by shewing him his sins on the head of Jesus. His glory would not be complete if the believer were not justified. It is a salvation accomplished for ever that God presents to us, and the soul is in peace. All this is for His name’s sake.

If the soul is assured of the goodness of God, would it love to keep some sins? No; the conscience set free from the thick layer of old sins becomes more delicate. If we are truly quickened, what we find in ourselves after our conversion is much more painful to us than the sins were before conversion. But Jesus is dead, knowing what we were and because of what we are. Such as I am, God loves me; His name is here in question, and His name in goodness. God has condemned sin in the flesh (Rom. 8:3), in that Christ, having become man, was made sin for us (2 Cor. 5:19-21). He has been sacrificed for us (Heb. 9). The name of God who is love is thus revealed by everything that God has done for us in Jesus.

God is upright also, and He teaches the sinner and leads him. This comes after pardon. The first is He is good; then comes truth, though man’s heart thinks the inverse. If we are in relation with a God of goodness, how will that appear? Up to what point should He be manifested to us? He will shew in the ages to come the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness toward us through Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:7). God has before Him the most wretched of sinners (take the robber on the cross); and what will He do to display to the angels, etc., in heaven the riches of His goodness? He will take us, once wretched, and set us in the same glory as Christ Himself.

It is in us God shews what He is. You who say you are most feeble and miserable, it is you God would choose, if He would shew the immense riches of His grace. He cannot stop in this goodness; and it is not humility to put limits to His goodness by saying we are too little and unworthy. He forgives for the sake of His own name (1 John 2:12). He restores and leads for His own name’s sake. He begins, continues, and finishes up to heaven itself and always for the sake of His name (Phil. 1). There is the only thing which makes the soul upright, sincere, and open before God, because there remains no subject of fear with regard to sin, and there is never uprightness in the heart till our consciences have seen and felt what we are before God as sinners pardoned. The moment that the soul says, “For thy name’s sake, O Jehovah, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great,” it cannot but be that God manifests Himself. One then makes progress in Him, and one finds the sweet assurance that God is ever good and upright for the sinner.

Psalm 40

There are some special Psalms connected with Christ, round which others seem clustered. This is one of them. Here is Christ’s actual association with His people on earth, not only in their sorrows, but at length bearing their sins, so that all who looked to Him might be blessed with Him. “I am poor and needy, yet the Lord thinketh upon me.” Christ did not take one step to save Himself. He might have had twelve legions of angels, but He was waiting on the Lord.

He appeals to God as Jehovah, not Father, because this was not then brought out, as it is now. The Jew did not know the Father as He is now revealed; and Christ was taking the place of a godly man made under the law amongst them. Therefore He is spoken of in terms suiting the relationship known to the Jews.

One or two verses often bring out the subject of the psalm, the rest being the development of it. What He did in the position He took up is the great thing here—what He went through, what He felt. The grand principle is, that He “waited patiently for Jehovah” —the relationship in which Christ as a man was standing on the earth as connected with the remnant of Israel.

It is clear that the different names of God have a most important meaning, because they are the revelation of what He is to all. If I call Him Father, I own what He is to me as His child. If “Jehovah” be employed, it is what He is in caring for and keeping His earthly people, whom He had called out in order to shew His ways in government. If “God Almighty” be used, it is as protector of His pilgrims as Abram, Isaac, and Jacob in going from one country to another, or abiding in presence of hostile races in Canaan. For us it is Father. “Holy Father, keep through thine own name,” etc. It is important for us to know our position, as well as to see what position Christ was in when expressing these Psalms. In Matthew 5 He says, “Be ye perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect.” He teaches us that we are to shew forth grace and not law, as the Father was doing in Himself. Therefore we have to act after the same character: and nothing else suits those who belong to the kingdom of heaven and have the revelation of the Father’s name.

Here, in Psalm 40, His heart is with the poor remnant. He undertakes their cause, going through all their sorrow and bearing their sins. In the last it is for them, not with them; but He gives them the comfort of being taken up to the same place with Himself, putting a new song into their mouths, as Jehovah had into His. “Many shall see it and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.” But, moreover He says, in verse 6, “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.” These are all put aside. “He taketh away the first to establish the second.” Christ came to do God’s will. Everything centres in the Son. All blessing is connected with relationship to Him, whether for outcast reprobates (Gentiles), or for God’s people, the Jews, who had broken the covenant. The Levitical system vanishes away as not meeting God’s desires any more than man’s need. Christ, who says “Lo, I come to do thy will,” is everything. Then He “preached righteousness in the great congregation.” This cost Him His life. He made perfectly good God’s character in the world—went out to all the people—declared God’s faithfulness—did not hide His righteousness within His heart, and got into miry clay in consequence, that is, all that can press a man down. “I have glorified thee on the earth.” “I have not concealed thy loving-kindness and thy truth from the great congregation.” “Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me,” for I have been declaring what Thou art in faithfulness; withhold not Thou Thy tender mercies from Me. Then He goes farther (v. 12), for He came to suffer not only with but for us. “For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me.” Not merely our there, but “mine.” If speaking amongst the remnant He might have said our; but when taking them on Himself, standing alone for their deliverance, He says “mine.”

Next, there is judgment on the enemies alluded to in verses 14, 15, in contrast with verse 16: “Let all those that seek thee rejoice,” etc. It is no more clouds and darkness, fearing the Lord and walking in darkness, not knowing such a thing longer, but rejoicing as well as seeking; for He has met all against us. When we are not rejoicing in the salvation of the Lord, we have not found it; we may be seeking it, but have not found it.

In the Psalms we have the thoughts and feelingsz of Christ expressed, when the facts are going on. We have the privilege thus of knowing how He felt when under them. “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? “His feelings are here. The fact was atonement. When suffering from God He was absolutely alone—none to look on. When He appeals to God for deliverance, He is not heard (on the cross). “He tasted death for every man.” If He had had the least comfort from God, He would not have drunk the cup. Never was He so precious to God. Never was obedience so perfect as at that moment. Divine love was mightier than all the sufferings— mightier than sin—mightier than death, Satan, or wrath of God. It was not so with Peter, who was full of joy when going out of the world; and Stephen says, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit,” without any suspending of the favour of God. There was no wrath on them: Jesus bore it all for them—for us. The effect of the cross is a throne of unmingled grace, and it will be open to all in the millennium.

In Psalm 23 Jehovah is the Shepherd; we cannot say Christ was a sheep. He is Jehovah, but still He emptied Himself— went before them—passed through every difficulty and trial.

In Psalm 24 He is Jehovah received on high.

In Psalm 25 sin is confessed. This is what makes the difference for any soul in the present time. The remnant, before they trust in Christ, cry to Jehovah. How can I go to Jehovah when I have been sinning? How can a man trust Jehovah with a bad conscience? Here is combined the expression of confession and of trust together. They can look for mercy. God never allows absolute despair in His people, though it is often very like it. In Judas it was absolute; and he went out and hanged himself. Then all is brought out to meet this state in the cross. If there were only love where would be the righteousness? If righteousness only, where the love? Both are combined in the cross. When the cross comes in, all is perfectly clear. The righteousness is proved to be as great as the love, and the love as great as the righteousness. This is often not known all at once; but by little and little the blessed picture seen in Christ makes its way into the soul. Then it is all light; but then the man finds darkness comes in perhaps. At first there is only reckoning on the blessedness of Christ, and, when that reaches the conscience, it brings bitterness. What at first only attracted the heart did not reach the elements of good and evil—it was all joy; but when light reaches these, he finds it does not minister peace, because he has not learnt the thing to which it applies in his own soul. The state of the Jews all through these psalms is this—not having the application in the conscience of what the cross teaches.

It is a wonderful thing to see Christ coming to the cross, and saying, “mine iniquities.” Christ made Himself one with me, taking all my debts upon Him; my surety, He has gone down into the depths. “Mine iniquities!” —any one of the remnant might say that. There is the remnant’s voice in it; but there is Christ’s first. He has taken them. They suffer from them, never for them. If they suffered for them, it would be eternal condemnation. “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities.” “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.”

God brings in the principle of living righteousness, and therefore gives the consciousness of sins. “For thy name’s sake pardon mine iniquity; for it is great,” Psalm 25. This is strange reasoning according to man’s thought— “for it is great.” Men plead that it is a little sin; but when taught of God, we see how great sin is. Another thing is, truth is in the man, because he feels the sin great, he has given up any thought of justifying himself. My iniquity is great: if Thou dost not forgive me for Thine own glory’s sake, Thou canst not do it at all. And not one spot of sin will He leave, for the comfort of my own heart or the glory of His name. In Isaiah 43:22, etc., Israel are made to rest in absolute sovereign mercy. Grace is perfect in the getting rid of our sin in Christ.

Thus Psalm 40, “I waited patiently,” etc., gives the reason why the remnant should trust Jehovah. Messiah has been delivered from the horrible pit and the miry clay by the path of resurrection. Then there is the great central truth— “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire,” etc. The Levitical system vanishes as inefficacious. “Mine ears hast thou digged.” It is not here the same as Isaiah 50, where “he awakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned. The Lord God hath opened mine ear,” etc. This has a peculiar character. It is His offering Himself before He came. So in Philippians 2 we read He becomes a man, taking the form of a servant, having ears, doing nothing but what He was told, listening to every word that came out of God’s mouth. “By every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God doth man live.” He had ears to receive it. Christ had no desire to do anything different from God’s will: this was His motive. Never to stir but as another—God—will guide you, is perfectness as a man. Do you say, What! am I never to do what I like? Oh! I answer, you want to have your own will, which is sin.

Christ waited for the expression of His Father’s will before doing anything. Christ on earth was in the form of a servant. How did He get there? By putting off all the glory of having a will of His own—offering Himself before He came to do God’s will. His delight was to come; His love brought Him. “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God.” If that was His will, it was the Father’s will. He “learned obedience by the things which he suffered.” He told His disciples, in going forth, to say, “Peace… And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again.” So it was with Him. He was obedient. He offered Himself to obey, and there was pure and constant obedience all through. There was power, of course, in Him, but He came into the place of perfect obedience. The first word is not from God, Do you go, but “Lo, I come”: it was from Christ, “in the volume of the book it is written of me.” This gives us a knowledge of Christ and His intercourse with God before He came. Here is Christ, the Son of God, a divine person, and the means of all blessing, taking the place of obedience on earth. Nay, He is the servant now, too: what is He doing for us? Bringing out God to us, to our eyes; yea, He has brought God right down to our hearts. “I have preached righteousness in the great congregation,” not concealed thy faithfulness, etc. Christ has not failed to bring all that God is to us. How we want it in a world that has got as far away as it can from God, with its artificers like Cain and his seed!

Others might talk about the thing, but Christ was it. In every word and act they might have seen the Father, if they had had eyes to see. Christ can say, I know the world—what it is; I have gone through it all high and low; I have traced it all through, and, like Noah’s dove, never found an echo. Now you come to Me: I will give you rest. There is never any rest for a human heart but in Him. One then learns of Him in the meekness and submission of His soul.

“Let all those that seek thee rejoice,” etc. “But I am poor and needy: the Lord thinketh upon me.” I and the others— I have taken the sorrow for them, and they must rejoice. Can you say, “Let the Lord be magnified”? He says, I have taken it all on myself, I have done it all. “By the obedience of one many shall be justified.” If you have not been broken down to feel your iniquity is great, you cannot have peace; you are mixing up something of your own. If you get Christ instead of yourself, because you yourself are so bad, then you can say, The Lord has put away my sin; I am accepted in the Beloved. Are you emptied of yourself so as to say, Christ is everything for me? He has been made sin: is righteousness between you and God now, instead of your sins? Whence did it come? By the love of God flowing in through the Spirit. By Him He says, “Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” All the emphasis is on “no more.” They are not to be brought up another day. Only believe in Christ and rest in grace so truly divine.

Book 2.— Psalms 42-72
Especially Psalms 45 And 68

In the Second Book of Psalms we see the remnant entirely cast out of Judaea; this gives a different character to their state. In the First Book we have seen it was the exercise of patience in the midst of evil that characterised them. That is now over, and they are as a whole cast out, with the exception of a few. The woman flies when the abomination is set up. The extremity of evil has arrived, and they are looking for judgment to work out deliverance for them.

As a general thing, we find more connection with the person of Christ in the First Book. When in the world, He remained in Jerusalem for a time, then He went out; and when He went back, it was to be crucified and slain. Thomas dreaded this when he said, “They sought of late to stone thee, and goest thou thither again?” Christ had been declaring God’s righteousness, in the great congregation, not “refraining his lips.” They rejected Him for it; but, before man was allowed to lay his lawless hands upon Him, God gives a public testimony to every part of His glory. In the raising of Lazarus there was testimony to Him as Son of God; riding into Jerusalem on an ass, there was testimony to Him as Son of David; and then when the Greeks come up, there is testimony to Him as Son of man. All this led to His crucifixion, and, in the end, to the judgment of the Jews.

Psalm 42 is the utterance of those cast out of Jerusalem. Compare verses 5, 9, etc.

Joel 2:17 shews they have got back again after this, and after the destruction of the beast. Those in Zion are calling for a fast, but the putting down of enemies is not finished. In Ezekiel we read of the Northern and Eastern armies coming up, and they find the Lord there. Sennacherib represents the northern army, not the beast.

Joel 2:20, “His stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up, because he hath done great things.” “Fear not, O land, for the Lord will do great things.” There is not only apostasy judged in the beast, but there is the government of the Lord Jesus coming in over the rebellious nations. Thus there are two characters of judgment. He overcomes the beast (that which was antagonistic to what was in heaven) making “war with the Lamb”: that which is apostate from what is heavenly goes in rebellion against what is heavenly. Christ comes from heaven and breaks that. Then there is the great northern army: Gog comes up and finds Him there. There are those feeble Jews there, and what are they to do? The man of the earth has all in his hand; but God is going to prove He is God of the earth as well as of heaven. It seems to the tried remnant as if God had forgotten them; but no! He is there to destroy this army, as well as the apostate king who had been already consigned alive to the lake of fire. The Lord comes and says, “Here I am,” and the enemies are destroyed on the mountains. But the same feeling has come out in this case as in the other: they say “Where is thy God?”

There is more historically brought out in this book of the Psalms, and not so much of Christ’s sufferings (there is that too in Psalm 69), and more of His sitting in judgment over them. There is the entire dominion of evil allowed, and then the coming in of power to set it aside. Here you have “God” more than Jehovah. The Unk is broken, for they are out of the land. See the difference between Psalms 14 and 53. In the one it is Jehovah, in the other it is God: contrast also Psalm 14:5; 53:5—the “righteous” and “him that encamped against thee.”

Psalm 43 refers to the apostate Jews, as Psalm 42 to the rebellious Gentiles, from whom they are suffering. Psalm 44 goes back in spirit, “We have heard with our ears,” etc. They did not see, because driven out; but they hear. It is the past contrasted with the present desolation. Verse 9 is their condition; verse 11, “sheep appointed for meat”; verse 17, sense of integrity; verse 23 is not Jehovah, but Adonai.

In Psalm 45 Messiah comes in; in Psalm 46 all is entirely changed. Psalm 47 is a call anticipative of victory. Psalm 48 is descriptive of how it comes about that the King is there. What they said in Psalms 42-44 you get the answer to in Psalm 48. All they have heard of they now see. It comes to pass again, and more than ever. “We have thought of thy loving-kindness, O God, in the midst of thy temple” —just what they are longing for in Psalm 42. “According to thy name.” They praise according to what they know He is—they can trust. “Thy right hand is full of righteousness.”

These titles of God, Almighty, Most High, and Jehovah, are connected with God’s government on the earth. The first is connected with Abraham; the second with Melchisedec coming to Abraham. It is a picture of God’s taking possession of heaven and earth in Christ—Christ being King and Priest— Priest on His throne. He will gather together in one all things in Christ in heaven and earth. We know God as Father, who hath “blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” We shall reign with Him; we are associated with Him in suffering (little though we have) and we shall be in the glory. Christ is to inherit all things, and we with Him; but the best part is to be with Himself, being children of the Father. Now Christ is sitting within the veil in heavenly places, we in Him, and we shall be associated with Him when He comes to take possession—we shall come out with the Great Heir of all things.

In Nebuchadnezzar’s history we find God spoken of as the “Most High.” In Psalm 91 whoever dwells in the secret of the Most High (not Father) is safe. Then Christ addresses Jehovah, and in verse 9 the remnant speak and Jehovah answers. All this is when God takes the government of the earth; but He is our Father. Now we may be put to death, and yet not a hair perish. Now is the time to suffer. He is not yet taking to Himself His great power and reigning. Blessed that it is so, because now is the time of His long-suffering; the joint-heirs are being gathered. He will reign, the Prince of peace. Melchisedec was praising from the Most High God and praising for Him. So it will be in Christ, in whom centre all titles of glory. As Jehovah He will be faithful to His promises.

In 2 Corinthians 6 He who is Jehovah says, “Ye shall be my sons and daughters” —I will take a new character towards you. When we have the Father’s name as now, we have the Father’s house also in prospect.

In Psalm 45 Christ is making good His title as God’s King. In Colossians 1 we see His rights as Creator to be heir of all, and as Son of man in Hebrews 2. Here it is the King. In Deuteronomy 32 the Most High, in dividing the lands, makes Israel the centre for the government of the earth. As the church is the centre of blessing in heaven, Jerusalem is the centre on earth.

There are two things to remark in connection with this: first, it is part of Christ’s glory; and, next, God wills that this world is to be made, under Christ’s rule, a place of peace. It is not so now, though “the powers that be are ordained of God.” Christ Himself said, “Thou hast no power against me, except it be given thee from above”; and there was no worse use of power than Pilate’s, when he verily washed his hands of Christ’s blood.

When the Lord was rejected, the world was not set right. It was more wrong than ever. When Christ went on high, the Holy Ghost came down. Does He set the world to rights? No! He does not interfere with the evil, but says, “be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Grace comes in, but God does not take His great power and reign. Christ granted the request of the Syro-phcenician woman; but this was an exceptional case of going beyond the children.

It is not an exception when the Holy Ghost comes down: grace is the character of His acting. The proving of man has been closed, Christ is accepted in heaven, and, by the Holy Ghost’s coming down, the barriers (confusion of tongues occasioned) are not broken down; but grace overrides those barriers in the gift of tongues. Christ will take to Himself His great power and reign, and He will set things to rights. Many think to set things to rights now, some with Christ and some without; but they will not do it either one way or the other: Christ Himself will do it. If I stop at redemption truth, I am as it were making Christ to act on the world, but He is not; He is in heaven, and links saints with Him up there.

All Christians are saints, not sinners. In ourselves we are all sin; in the flesh is no good thing; but we are not in flesh, but in Christ. When we come in by that door, Christ, we come to sit down in heavenly places. If not come in there, we must remain on earth. Heaven is opened: firstly, for the Holy Ghost to testify of the Son of God on earth; secondly, for angels to minister to Him as Son of man; thirdly, to let Him forth in judgment on the white horse (Rev. 19); fourthly, for a man full of the Holy Ghost, Stephen, to look straight up into heaven; and so should we.

Psalm 45 is earthly: Christ is judging enemies. The King, Messiah, is God; but He is man also. “Thou lovest righteousness and hatest wickedness “applies to His humanity. Hebrews 1 quotes it, where He says He “makes his angels spirits.” He makes them such; but unto the Son He saith (He does not make Him anything)” God, even thy God anointed thee above thy fellows.” Directly there is His manhood, He has fellows. A poor remnant is there ready to suffer with Him. Zechariah 13. See contrast there: God calls Christ His fellow in His humiliation. Verse 5, “I am no prophet,” but I was man’s slave from my youth. He came to be our servant as man. Verse 6. The Jews—He was wounded by them. Then (v. 7) Jehovah speaks, and, passing over His humanity, calls Him His fellow.

The kingdom is founded and is taken in a man. All the figures of Oriental splendour are used in speaking of it. It is Jerusalem on earth that is meant in the Psalms. The Lamb’s wife is the heavenly Jerusalem. The king’s wife is the earthly Jerusalem.

Verse 10. “Forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house.” That is what the Jews would not do in the time of grace. It was what Christ Himself did when on earth. “Who is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked round about on them that were about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren.” Under the old covenant they will get nothing. They cannot take the blessings even on the ground of promise— all has failed. They must come in as a Ruth to take shelter under the shadow of the God of Israel. They have no more title than a Gentile. Christ came as a minister of the circumcision, and they rejected Him, so that they have no claim to anything. God will accomplish all on His own account, but they must give up claim entirely, and come in on the ground of grace. Verse 9. “King’s daughters” are companies of Judah.

Verse 16. “Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children.” If you look to your fathers, you have no claim—you must break with all the old thing. You must come in, not as the mother of the Messiah, but as the daughter. As to the old, you have lost everything: God in His faithfulness must do it. In Romans 3:7, “God’s faithfulness glorified by my lie” is the true interpretation of that passage.

Psalm 46 is a strain of great confidence, spite of threats and danger. In God is their refuge and deliverer. God is there, whatever men say; Jehovah Sabaoth is with us.

Psalm 47 anticipates Jehovah’s reign as a great king over the earth, but withal Israel’s king specially.

In Psalm 48 Zion is celebrated as His city and the answer is triumphant to the distress of Psalm 44 and to the circumstances of Psalms 42, 43.

Psalm 48 is “an improvement” of all.

Psalm 49 closes the little series from Psalm 42 (not the book, which does not close till Psalm 72).

Psalm 50 and 51 are distinct in their character.

Psalm 50 is God summoning all the world—pleading with His people on the ground of wickedness. He will not accept their ceremonial offerings, but the ground of His controversy is their not keeping the law.

Psalm 51 is confession of sin, and goes a great deal farther than David’s confession, when Nathan went to him and charged him. It is the nation’s confession of their guilt in the death of Christ, not only their breach of the law. You have the same thing in Isaiah 40—the flesh is grass, etc. There is failure; and He takes them on the ground of their being distinct from those worshipping idols, yet guilty of idolatry. From chapter 49 onwards it is controversy concerning Christ.

There is a difference between the Jews and the ten tribes, which are Israel. Israel were never guilty of rejecting Christ. They have been cast out for their rebellion and idols. Zechariah 13:9, Jews; Ezekiel 20, ten tribes.

In Psalms 51-68 we have the thoughts and feelings of the remnant—the expression of their cry to God and their confidence in Him.

Psalm 52 is the expression of faith in God as to the lawless one in power; as Psalm 53 about the wicked Jews in general, the many, for God remained what He is, if they can no longer call on Him as Jehovah (cf. Ps. 14). Psalm 54 is a cry to God for deliverance by His name from strangers and oppressors alike, when His name of Jehoveh should be praised. Psalm 55 from without deplores the wickedness in their Jerusalem, yet God is trusted, Jehovah shall save. Psalm 56 speaks of the tears of the righteous sufferers in God’s bottle, but owns Him in hope as the Most High, the name of millennial supremacy, and trust displaces fear: in God and in Jehovah would he praise His word. Psalm 57 follows up in the sense of evil, counting on God as a refuge, but triumphing in the end. Psalm 58 owns that nothing but divine judgment can meet the case, and so looks for the unsparing but just vengeance of God in the earth. Psalm 59 pursues this judgment on the outside enemies who shall be scattered by God’s power.

Then in Psalm 60 the remnant acknowledges that God had cut them off, but pray for His turning to them again, and are assured He will tread down their enemies. Psalm 61 is a cry of depression, but of trust in God that He will hear, if they cry from the end of the earth; as Psalm 62 is a still stronger expression of confidence in Him, and this growingly. Compare verses 2, 6.

In Psalm 63 we see that they are able to find blessing when cast out. When there are no dispensed blessings, they look to God through all the tribulation, longing to go up to the sanctuary. All dispensed blessings fail, but the source cannot dry.

In Psalm 64 the crafty enemy is brought before a God of judgment, and then the righteous rejoice in Him.

Psalm 65 shews praise waiting there. When He has accomplished the victory, praise will flow out. All nations shall be blessed. Their faith had reached the point—trusting, when in circumstances which are against us, is real faith. But once the great deliverance is achieved there is no stint of praise.

Psalm 66 sets forth God’s righteous interference; and men are called to come and see His works (v. 5), to come and hear what He has done for the soul. (Verse 16) He has turned away neither the remnant’s prayer nor His own mercy.

In Psalm 67 the blessing of the remnant is viewed as the way of making God’s way known to all nations; so that all the people should praise God, and all the ends of the earth fear Him.

Psalm 68. Here we have Christ in glory, as Psalm 69 is Christ in suffering, upon which the glory is founded.

There is a remarkable connection between the beginning of Psalm 68 with Numbers 10. The ark going before, instead of being in the midst to be guarded and honoured by the people, God bends to their need by going before them to find out a place in grace, and He meets all their enemies. (Verse 33) Israel’s enemies are scattered by Him. The Lord is coming at their head when there is no help.

It may be well to notice the character of judgment here. There are two kinds of judgment, sessional and warlike judgment. In the end of Revelation we have the two kinds. In chapter 18 we have the destruction of Babylon by God; in chapter 19 Christ executes warlike judgment; in chapter 20 is sessional judgment. “I saw thrones and they sat on them.” In sessional judgment we are with Him, as indeed the saints are seen on high from chapter 4.

The Messiah that appears is Jehovah, and then they not only mourn for sins that they have done, but they mourn for Him, etc. “They shall look on him whom they have pierced,” etc., and say, “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of Jehovah.” They never see Him till then. They call on Jehovah about all the sorrow, and when the Messiah comes, they find it is Himself. With us it is the same. The deepest sorrow is not that we have sinned, but for Him. It is the consciousness of what we have done to Him that grieves us most. When we have received Him, repentance has lost its legal character. It is for love to Him, and all the sweetness of His love poured into the heart makes it see what sin is, and detest itself for not having received Him fully. Then the soul is free to understand the real relationship that exists between us and Him. There is not merely the consciousness of deserving righteous judgment, but self-loathing, and sense of His judgment more and more. They crave His interference, and it comes.

Daniel 7:21. The horn wars with the saints, and prevails against them until the “Ancient of days,” Christ, shall come. God cannot let evil be paramount. “As wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.” He comes in the character of judgment. “Through the voice of the Lord shall the Assyrian be beaten down … and in every place where the grounded staff shall pass,” etc. (Isa. 30:31, 32.) It is for the deliverance of the poor despised remnant, and it is the proper character of judgment when He will come to be glorified in His saints, etc. It will be the execution of judgment, not the distinguishing character of it, which goes on now. There is to be a judgment of the quick, as well as of the dead. “The wicked perish at the presence of God.”

Verse 9. “Plentiful rain whereby thou dost confirm thine inheritance when it is weary.” We are not the inheritance, we are heirs. Israel is the inheritance. We have the same He (Christ) has Himself—peace, love, glory. He has the preeminence. “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” We see this Psalm is prophetic of His taking His place in power, not only in title. The Lord gave the word— great was the company of those that published it. This is a company of women [feminine noun] publishing victory like Miriam, not proclaiming glad tidings (v. 11).

Verse 12. Warlike judgment: “though ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove,” etc. He is coming to take His place in Zion.

Verses 14-17. God has magnified Himself: it is no use for you to magnify yourselves; God has done it, and there is an end of you.

Verse 18 is the deliverance of Israel in that day by Christ who ascended on high—“received up into glory,” 1 Tim. 3:16. Wonderful to say of Him who is going to execute judgment, He is “received up.” “He that ascended is the same that descended,” etc. It is Christ Himself. The law set up the middle wall of partition. Christ broke it down by His death. It could not be broken down in any other way. We see, first, the incarnation of Christ; next, we have a man rejected, spit upon, who could say, “before Abraham was, I am”; and then He goes up on high.

In Philippians 2 this blessed One comes down taking the form of a man—this was the first way of His, emptying Himself. He proved He had power in the man to deliver this world of all its misery, healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out devils; but He did it all as a servant; and then, lastly, He humbled Himself, and became obedient to death—the death of the cross.

It is “received gifts in the man.” Part of this is quoted in Ephesians 4, shewing its application to the church. The last part, “for the rebellious also,” refers to what will be the portion of the remnant when Jehovah God will dwell among them. These delivered ones, the fruit of the travail of His soul, became the vessels of His power against Satan. It is only after the cross that Satan is called the god of this world; but the church is now the vessel of the agency of God against Satan by the Holy Ghost sent down, the witness of grace, not of judgment (though judgment was within, for example, on Ananias and Sapphira). We are all (believers) the living witnesses of Christ’s victory, while Satan is going about in the world. How far do we realise this?

Verse 21. “Enemies” are to be destroyed. The church does not call for judgment on enemies, but the Jews look for the destruction of enemies, because they are to remain here. There is to be glory recognised—complete deliverance for them. Christ is gone on high as Son of man. He is set in a divine place at the right hand of God, and we are made partakers of the divine nature, and sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. So too we are to be caught up to meet Him above, instead of being like the Jews delivered by the execution of those who despise us here below.

Here it is the joy and deliverance of Israel on earth. The beauty of holiness reappears on better and more enduring ground—Messiah’s grace and the new covenant, not their own vain pledge to the old. The tribes come up to the sanctuary, kings bring presents, princes come from Egypt, Ethiopia stretches her hands to God. “Sing unto God, ye kingdoms of the earth; O sing praises unto the Lord; Selah: to him that rideth upon the heavens of heavens, which were of old; lo, he doth send out his voice, and that a mighty voice. Ascribe ye strength unto God: his excellency is over Israel, and his strength is in the clouds. O God, thou art terrible out of thy holy places: the God of Israel is he that giveth strength and power unto his people. Blessed be God.”

Verse 34. He has taken His place in the “cloud” again. The “cloud” is indicative of His presence, the Shechinah and the pillar of cloud by day. And on the mount of transfiguration they “feared as they entered the cloud.” Christ will come in the clouds.

Psalm 69 is the righteous One, not here forsaken of God in atonement for sin as in Psalm 22, but crushed under man’s hatred and reproach, enemies without a cause in the face of the zeal for God’s house that has eaten Him up. Yet all is taken from God’s hand; and as He owns Himself smitten of God, so He looks and prays for vengeance, not grace.

Psalm 70 expresses what the Spirit of Christ in the remnant will then desire in respect of both foes and friends; as Psalm 71 gives the link with God’s dealings from the first, and prays for His faithful care at last, in order that their lips may shew forth His praise. Finally Psalm 72 presents their desires fulfilled in the reign of peace and blessing under the true Son of David on the earth.

Psalm 63

God wants every thought and desire of our hearts. That is the effect of His coming down to us, and is very blessed. There is another thing, and even a better, that is, His lifting us up to Him where He is. When God meets our thoughts, wants, and feelings, it is His answering according to the measure of our need; in the other He surpasses all the desires of our hearts and minds. See it in Psalm 132 when certain blessings are asked, and each desire is surpassed. See verses 8 and 13; verse 9 answered in verse 16; verse 10 in verse 17. There is trial of faith: He suffers His people to hunger, etc., that they may know the value of being fed by Him as He will. There is personal relationship between the saint and God— “mine and thine” in John 17—which connects itself with what He is for us.

To Abram God said (Gen. 15), “I am thy shield,” because he wanted protection, “thy exceeding great reward.” It did not go beyond Abram’s want—he wished an heir. This is different from his delighting in God. What God is bringing us to is to delight in Himself. See Abraham in Genesis 17:17: “I am the Almighty God.” This is quite another thing. It was God’s revelation of Himself to Abraham. True, all kinds of blessing are connected with it; but it is a higher thing, because it revealed God, and led him up to communion with Him, while the other threw him back on his own need and wishes.

It is a different thing to have the joy of the relationship, and to have the fruits of it. “O my God, early will I seek thee.” There is activity of soul thus seeking God. The soul athirst for God seeks—there is diligence in seeking God for Himself—the mouth is open for everything. The Psalm does not speak of seeking for water; when a man is thirsty, he seeks for water; but here it is more thirsting for Him who gives the water.

The conscious relationship was founded. “O God, thou art my God.” The more he enjoyed God, the more it was felt to be a dry and thirsty land—not dry because of the weariness of the way. What does it matter, the dry and thirsty land, if I have the living water in my soul? I do not think about the dryness then. It is not being at home yet either. It is the wilderness in Romans 8. If I know I am to be in the same glory with Christ, what will affect me here? What! people going to be with the Lord in glory; and yet the slightest thing can upset me now! I feel the wretchedness, because I have got the glory—I am not acquiring it, but seeking it because I have it. Think of a person who had seen heaven—knowing all the blessedness of it—going through such a world as this! That is what it was to Christ. What made Him feel it was the joy? “Because thy loving-kindness is better than life,” this world is a wilderness.

“Thy loving-kindness is better than life”; but it brings death upon one. No matter: “In everything give thanks.” What! in sorrow? Yes, to be sure, we have the key to the joy in having Himself. “Thy loving-kindness is better than life; therefore will I praise thee while I live.” “My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness.” What! in the desert? Yes, that is the very place, because God Himself is His portion. “My mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips.” Now we often praise, when we are not very joyful (there is a certain pressure on the heart), and it is right to do it at all times; but here the heart is so full of the blessing that it is pressed out of him. We learn from Psalm 42 that the health of my countenance is the effect of the light of Thy countenance. The heart is lifted up above the sorrow because occupied with God Himself.

In Psalm 63 the soul is in the state in which Psalm 42 ends. It is not an oppressed heart looking out for what would make him joyful, but rejoicing because the spring is there. “Therefore I will bless thee while I live.”

There is help in God (see v. 7) for the difficulties of the way. It is not here the enjoyment of God Himself, but His protection. Do I look forward to my life to come? I defy any one to know anything but that His window is open. God, then, is the only certain thing. I have no certainty that there will be a to-morrow, but there is God. Because the heart is in heaven, we can rejoice in the thing itself we have got for all times. “Jehovah is my Shepherd: I shall not want.” It is not, He has put me in certain circumstances, and I shall be happy there; but it is something to depend on, to know He is my Shepherd. Then there is earnestness of purpose in following after. (Verse 8.) So Paul: “I press toward the mark,” following hard after Him in a “dry and thirsty land.” Paul in prison was pressing on toward Christ, and rejoicing in the Lord; he had nothing else to rejoice in. In nothing too should we be terrified by adversaries, which is to them an evident token of perdition (v. 9, 10); as on the other hand Christ and they that are His alone shall be exalted for ever (v. 11).

Psalm 72

The second book, of which our Psalm is the last, closes with the blessing of the whole earth: “The prayers of David … are ended.” It supposes and treats of the relationship of God with Judah just at the end of the age when forced to flee. The third book is not so much connected with the personal history of Christ as either the first or the second. It is occupied with Israel, and the circumstances of Israel are entirely different from Judah’s because they were not in the land when Christ was there, and so they had no actual part in His crucifixion. The second book is more historically prophetic than the first, and not so much the sufferings of Christ.

In Psalm 72 we have the Solomon reign, not the Davidical state. The true Son of David is, no doubt, much greater than Solomon. Here Christ is King. This takes us back to Psalm 2. Jehovah’s determination is to set His kingdom in Zion. The kingdom is not confined to this setting up of the King. In Matthew 13:43 we have the “kingdom of the Father.” There we get its heavenly character, not setting aside the kingdom on earth, which is to be established; but it goes farther and higher. “Every scribe instructed … brings out of his treasure things new and old.” The scribes had the old things concerning the kingdom, but they stumbled at the Christ having to suffer. If they had received Christ, man would not have been proved to be such a sinner. But they hated both Him and His Father, and so proved there is no good in flesh. There would have been something good in flesh if they could have received Him. The kingdom was not set up then through their not receiving Him. Two things came out after that: the mystery of the kingdom of heaven, and the church. What is the kingdom? It is very simple, if we take the word as it is. It is the sphere of the reign, or where the King reigns. If I take the word church as “assembly,” which it really means, I can never confound “church” and “kingdom.” Compare the word “reign” with “assembly,” and the difference is easily seen.

Another thing, often not understood, is the difference between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God. If the kingdom of God had been accepted on earth, it would not have been the same as now, not the actual form of the kingdom of heaven. Matthew takes up the change in consequence of the King’s rejection, and speaks also of “the Father’s kingdom” for the heirs who follow Christ in His rejection; because He takes it from His Father when rejected. He is set down, not on His own throne (and so the judgment in this Psalm brought in), but for the present on His Father’s throne. Divine righteousness is shewn in God’s setting Him there and justifying us according to all He had accomplished. There was righteousness due to set Him on the throne of God. That is what we have. “I have glorified thee on the earth, I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do; and now, O Father, glorify thou me,” etc. Christ then sits down there; and there is no judicial kingdom at all now—it is postponed, and known only to faith. The kingdom of the world is not become that of our God and of His Christ. The kingdom of heaven is likened to a sower, etc. He has altered the ground on which He deals with the people—He sows; He brings something with Him, instead of seeking something from man. The King is obliged to take this mysterious character of sowing in the world. Then, mark, He does not sow only on Jewish ground; as to outward nearness to God, that was gone. God does not look for fruit. He is going on ground that is settled by judgment. Therefore He is not seeking fruit from man. This goes against man’s good opinion of himself. Man is cut down as the good-for-nothing tree, spite of all culture from God. The trial has been made of all men in the Jew. All flesh is grass; and the grass is withered. He sows; He is not exercising His royal title in sowing. It is a new work, different in kind. All are given up (Matt. 12) and He sows (Matt. 13). The field is not the Jewish people, but “the world.” God goes outside guilty Judah to begin a fresh work everywhere. The time of the harvest is the judicial time of the kingdom—not the sowing time. Christ lets all go on as if at the beginning, and He saw nothing of the corruption; but then He begins a judicial character. Personally He deals with it on earth. That is the kingdom in the mysteries of it, or hidden. Its outward character is a great tree; the sowing is in the world. Pharaoh was a great tree, and the Assyrian was another. Christendom is now a great tree—an influential power in the earth. It is ruled from heaven, if it be the kingdom of heaven, but the sphere is this earth. The sowing— the field—the harvest—the search for the treasure or the pearl—the net—are not in heaven, but on earth.

When the joy of the kingdom is spoken of, it is the kingdom of God. “The kingdom of God (not of heaven) is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.” The kingdom of heaven is dispensational; the kingdom of God is sometimes a moral thing. Another thing connected with the kingdom is power and not merely law. There will be “the law written in their hearts,” but the kingdom brings in power. It is the setting up of a person in the character of king. The kingdom spoken of in the gospel is in “mystery” during this time; but the thing predicted by the prophets is “a king shall rule in righteousness.” It is the kingdom in manifestation. Power and righteousness were entirely in contrast when Christ was here. He said, “This is your hour and the power of darkness.” There was Satan’s power, but righteousness in and as to Christ. Judgment had not then returned to righteousness at all. It was the close of all hope of it for the time, when Christ was rejected. Up to that moment it might have been looked for; but this was the setting aside of God’s kingdom from the earth. The Son tame and they said, “This is the heir: come let us kill him,” etc. Christ is not taking possession of the kingdom on the earth now. He is not sitting on His own throne at all yet. It is the Father’s throne where He is. He is perfectly accepted in divine righteousness, which is now being ministered by the Holy Ghost to faith, and which is better than any other portion, but there is no execution of judgment. If He had executed judgment when He went away, there would have been no dealings in grace. He must have extinguished the wicked from the earth at once.

The word is, “Sit on my right hand until I make thy foes thy footstool.” There He is sitting down and doing nothing as to the kingdom, but sowing, etc., in this mysterious way. Meanwhile the mustard-tree, in which the birds of the air (the emissaries of Satan) may lodge, is being produced; the leaven is spreading in the three measures of meal (that is, formal doctrine extends itself through Christendom). At the close Christ brings in the execution of His power. This has nothing to do with the church. Instead of His having immediate power on earth, He is “expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.” During this time of waiting the church is being gathered; and when He comes in judgment His glorified ones come with Him. He has accomplished righteousness before this gathering began, and sent down the Holy Ghost, by whom we have the revelation of that righteousness. “We are made the righteousness of God in him.” This divine righteousness is established on the throne and revealed to us in the gospel and therefore by faith.

As High Priest, Christ has gone up within the veil (which indeed is rent), having finished the work for His friends, and waiting for the due moment to put down His enemies. Until He comes out, the Jews do not know that the offering is accepted. Here are the king and priest, represented by Moses and Aaron (Lev. 9:23), but they stand without till His coming out; and while He is within, to them as a nation He is unknown (to the Jews). The Holy Ghost is sent down to make us know it is accepted. Such is the place the church has—pre-trusters in Christ while unseen in heaven. Righteousness is gone as to earth, but is in the person of Christ exalted on the throne in heaven; and there we know it and are made it in Christ by the grace of God. Compare 2 Corinthians 5 with John 16. While the kingdom is in abeyance, the Holy Ghost has come down to make us know the righteousness of God in Christ, which is fit for the throne of God. We share that righteousness; we do not sit on the throne of the Father, where He now is. This seat He has by virtue of His personal title as the Son of God, and God Himself indeed.

The kingdom of heaven in mystery takes in all Christendom, professors as well as true Christians. Now there are no signs of the kingdom. What sign is it for a king to suffer? But if we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him. Suffering is no sign of a kingdom at all, but it is likeness to the King. The same thing that made Him suffer on earth made Him glorified in heaven. So is it with us. But instead of His reigning over the church, the church will reign with Him.

He is the Bridegroom of the church, not the King of the church. His right and power will be put forth for the earth. Adam could give names to everything brought before him (a proof of his dominion, such as is often shewn in the giving of a name; for example, Nebuchadnezzar giving new names to Daniel, that of Belteshazzar, etc.); but when Eve came, he called her Isha, from himself, Ish because she was part of himself. He gives her the same name, even as God called their name Adam. We have the same place as Christ Himself, and when we shall see Him, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. We could not now see Him as He is, and live; but then we shall be like Him, and therefore can see Him. “We shall appear with him” — “be glorified together with him.” The heavenly saints are to be like Christ and be with Him for ever. We shall take the heavenly places, which spiritual wickedness has now (Eph. 6). We shall be “caught up to meet the Lord in the air.” In the parable of the talents, in Matthew 25, there is no allusion to the rule of the kingdom; while in Luke, the use of the pounds is rewarded with cities to reign over. In Matthew, all the servant’s reward centres in “the joy of their Lord.”

Jude speaks of the Lord coming with ten thousands of His saints. So in Revelation 19:14, “The armies in heaven followed him on white horses.” The saints come with Him when He comes to execute judgment. (So chap. 17:14). They are associated with Him in the glory He brings, as also in what is much better, in the Father’s house. While He is on the Father’s throne, the church has no throne, but suffers with Him. When He takes His own throne, we shall be with Him, and share His glory when He appears. It is wonderful to be associated with Him in His glory, but better to be associated with Himself. It is better to be thinking about Himself than about Him as a King or a Lord, important as this too may be. When Christ comes to reign, there will be human righteousness perfect, because Christ will execute it; but now it is divine righteousness, ministered by the Spirit in grace (2 Cor. 3)—grace which associates us in the effect of divine righteousness. When He comes back as King, at first it will be the David character of reign. So Psalm 101, “I will sing of mercy and of judgment” (always mercy comes first).

This Psalm states prophetically the character of Christ’s kingdom. When He takes the kingdom, all will be judicially set up in righteousness. It will be seen by all that God has laid hold upon this mighty One for His people’s salvation and the world’s blessings. There will be real righteousness here below, but human as to its measure, and divinely ministered. It will be Messiah and the new covenant. The law will be written on their hearts. The law never required the death of Christ; this is entirely outside and above all that the law could righteously demand. By the grace of God He tasted death. Did the law require an agony from the blessed and holy One? What did that prove? Man’s righteousness? Divine love was in it; God (not law) “made him to be sin for us.” It was the unspeakable, unfathomable, love of God who was glorified in it about sin. For God to be glorified, everything in God was to be made good in spite of sin, yea, and in respect of sin. No doubt, the elect angels have been kept by divine power; but what a scene for angels to witness— the way men treated Christ in this world! When Daniel prayed there was an order given to answer him, and the angel could not for three weeks, because opposed by the prince of Persia. What a scene is this world! Is wickedness God’s glory? Is misery His glory? No wonder one of old said, “This was too hard for me until I went into the sanctuary of God.” When I see the end of these men, that will set it right, of course. God will justify righteousness by judgment, which, long severed, will then return to righteousness. Where, how, would love be manifested, if all His enemies were destroyed now? The cross glorifies God above all law. The announcement of the Man who was God, dying for sinners, is that righteousness? No, it is beyond right; it is love—infinite, divine, and sovereign love.

Psalm 94. God does not strike until there is conscience awake in the hearts of those stricken. With the remnant there will be tabrets and harps, wherever the grounded staff shall pass. Then the Solomon reign begins, “He judgeth among the gods,” that is, those to whom He has given power. “In his days shall the righteous flourish.” Then the kingdom is set up in power. Psalm 72, “Prayer shall be made for him continually,” that is, the desire of all the people is expressed, that the king should prosper.

Psalm 67:7: “All the ends of the earth shall fear him”; and Psalm 72:19, “Let the whole earth be filled with his glory.” It is the close of all the prayers of him that had the promises as to the blessing on earth. Verse 20.

The execution of judgment, on those found to be His enemies when He appears, is different from the time when God will judge the secrets of men’s hearts—that will be for the heathen as well, who have not had special testimony about Christ, but are judged by law’s work written on their hearts.

While things are not set right on earth, we are getting the full fruit of divine righteousness. While to be oppressed in the world, as He was, is the portion of faith; those who are gathered have the full heavenly blessing. When Christ was suffering for sin, it was not to bring in government on earth, but to work out divine righteousness, by which we might have association with Him. His suffering from God for sin was to make infinite grace flow out.

Psalm 84

This Psalm is the expression of the desires of those who had long been deprived of the joy of being in the courts of Jehovah during the captivity. It is the expression of the joy of seeing them again, and of taking the road which leads there, even by the valley of weeping, of Baca. The church also moves forward toward the tabernacle of God, but it is that which is not made by human hands.

The subject of each Psalm is ordinarily expressed at the beginning in the first verses. The tabernacles of Jehovah are His house. The faithful is there at home in His rest. One cannot find oneself at rest when the object of the heart is still beyond the point we have reached, even if the place we have stopped at be the most desirable in the world. The first thing which is here presented to us is that the house of Jehovah is the Israelite’s resting place (v. 1-4). “Blessed are they that dwell in thy house; they will be still praising thee.”

But blessed also is “the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways,” that is, the ways to Jehovah’s house. Verse 4 contains our joy in hope; verse 6 contains actual experience along the way. Passing through Baca, they make it a spring; the rain also filleth the pools [or, with blessings]; “they go from strength to strength, appearing [each] in Zion before God.” When we begin our course here below, we know God, we learn also more to know Him; it is a feeling which grows and strengthens by communion. God has thereby bound the hearts of Christians. It is the manifestation and accomplishment of His love. The more I know the perfectness of God, the more I know His love, the more also I feel how precious He is to my soul. If my knowledge of God is separated from the knowledge of the love of God, I have not the life of God. The highest perfection of God is manifested to the heart by the first visit He makes to the heart of sinners, and in this respect it cannot be known more by the most advanced child. Here below the heart of man does not answer to the praise of God. One could not praise Him in the streets of a town: the heart of man is enmity against God. The children of God together enjoy God and prepare to go into a world without an echo to raise the voice of the gospel. It is the desire of the converted heart that God may be praised; and he will be fully satisfied in the house of God. Impossible to find repose of soul till God is praised unceasingly by those that surround Him.

“Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee.” If I have a difficulty, I in my feebleness have need of strength to sustain me in patient endurance. Peter without this strength denied Jesus. We may be weary when we act in our strength, for what is the strength of the flesh? When we act in the power of God, it is impossible. No creature can separate us from the power of God or the love of God. What is stronger? Jesus ever dependent was the strongest, and overcame the world. God has set our rest at the end of a path that we are treading; and it is good for us in order that we may make the experience of our own heart. It is those who are already redeemed who are on the road toward the rest of God. The word of God renders the thing surer than any other testimony could. It is a defile to pass on the other side of which is the glory. Into this defile we must go down. One may there lose sight of the glory; and the way be difficult; but we have the certainty that it is the road to the glory. God has told us that in this road we shall be despised by the world and in conflict with Satan. He has told us these things before that, when they come, we might believe His testimony to be true.

Here below we find not the rest but the way; but the way should be in our heart. Thus the valley of Baca, a ruined earth, is changed into a fountain. If we are in communion with God, every difficulty becomes the occasion for the display of the glory of God (2 Thess. 1). The timid child finds joy in the assurance of its mother’s love when some danger presents itself. We are often overwhelmed because our strength is not in God, who would have His grace sufficient for us; which is more precious than the removal of the thorn in the flesh. “The rain also filleth the pools.” It comes not from the earth but from heaven, to which we should be attached and whence we may expect everything. There is no such source of refreshment here below that I may know that God takes extra care of me, to give me water and manna and strength, and in a word everything. It is a blessing that we should be thus brought low: He has not done so either to the Egyptians or to the Canaanites. We ought to live on that which cometh out of the mouth of God (Deut. 8:2-5).

The effect of these things is to make one “go from strength to strength.” The difficulties are meant to make us know new strength on God’s part. We are not actually capable of enjoying all that there is in God. Also all is not yet given us. God gets more place in our hearts. The empty or hard places of the heart are manifested; and God has to fill or clear them. The Lord God of hosts, that is to say, the God who governs all things, He who is faithful to His promises, and who has all things at His disposal, the God of His people, God ever the same. God presents Himself in three different ways: Jehovah or the Eternal, God of Jacob, and God of hosts. “Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed.” There is that assurance, the pledge of divine favour. God regards us in Christ; and all that we ask of Him in the name of Jesus He will do. Better be a doorkeeper in the house of God than dwell in the courts of the world. If our confidence is in man, we shall find ourselves sooner or later where man will fail us; and there is what Satan waits for in order to sift us. To trust in God is the hardest thing, as it lays the flesh under our feet, and self can gain nothing by it, but it is inexpressible joy for the heart.

Thoughts On Psalms 91 and 102

The thing we have to learn is Christ. We may learn a good deal in ourselves, but all that is for blessing will be in Christ. This is what the apostle means (Heb. 6:1) when he speaks of going on to perfection. It is vain to learn the first principles over and over again; if we have learnt that, let us go on to learn Christ—learn Him in all His characters, and in all our exercises. To know Christ is to know Him in all His various glories. At one time we have to look on Him as Jehovah; at another, as a suffering Man.

Here comes a testimony concerning the Most High. We have in this verse 1 a general truth: the person that dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Verse 2. The words of Jesus are brought out: I will say of Jehovah He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him will I trust. The apostle, in Hebrews 2:13, refers to this and other parts in the Psalms as the words of Christ. The apostle declares, I will put my trust in Him, to be our Lord’s expression whilst walking in the midst of trial on the earth. Then (v. 3-13) we come to the testimony of the Spirit concerning Jesus. Verse 9. This was true in its perfectness of the Lord Jesus; it applies in all its extent only to Him. In verse 14 we get the declaration of the Father, “because he hath set his love upon me.” This was true, and true only of Jesus. He was the only One who set His love on God. We love Him because He first loved us. In our Lord’s sufferings we learn the principle and fulness of love.

“The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me, but that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do.” He was shewing this principle of love to the Father. There is deep blessing in seeing our Lord thus. “Wherefore God hath highly exalted him” (Phil. 2:9).

He knew His name. God’s greatness is shewn by despising nothing. His love is so great that not a sparrow falleth to the ground without His knowledge. Christ always trusted Him (Psalms 20, 21). In the case of Jesus is the practical exhibition of this truth—He dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High; in us in measure. Being one with Christ, we are able to appropriate this to ourselves. All His actings on earth came from the perfectness of communion with the Father. The promise was, He shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I do always those things that please the Father, and abide in His love (v. 2). What He calls for is complete recognition of Himself, then come all the promises. The one thing we have to do is to own God in all His fulness. Imperfectly, but in principle, we dwell in the secret of the Most High. Why we are often in trial, etc., is because we are not dwelling in the secret of the Most High. Verse 4, “He shall cover thee with his feathers,” etc. As His power covers and shelters us, so His truth is our shield and buckler. God’s truth always comes to us in Jesus. Just so far as we are in the secret of the Most High, we are under the shadow of the Almighty. If we are going our own way, we shall have chastening and trial, and in mercy too. What we have to seek is to make the Lord our habitation. He leadeth us forth in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

This psalm (102) is one of peculiar strength and blessedness to the believer, as it brings, in one point of view, the identity of Christ in spirit with His suffering people, and, on the other side, His identity with Jehovah. His being Jehovah is the basis of all hopes that belong to the Jews, and to the saints consequently. Our Lord’s sufferings become the earnest of glory to those that are His. The triumph of Christ comes to be the pledge of deliverance and blessing to them. This makes the testimony of His deliverance, when suffering for us, so blessed, because the earnest of ours. “In the day when I call, answer me speedily.” The craving of the godly soul in trouble is the Lord’s hearing him: this is their anxiety, for otherwise there would be wrath in the case. Of this the resurrection of Jesus was the great witness.

In this psalm our Lord enters into every protracted suffering of His people. In all His sufferings, as a righteous man on earth, He could say, “I know that thou hearest me always.” I watch, etc.—the very opposite of ease. Verses 9, 10: I never find the deepest sorrow of our Lord spoken of exclusive of indignation. “Thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down.” The lifting up here spoken of was true of Jesus with the Jews. For what nation is so great? who hath God so nigh unto them? etc. Jesus is looked at as the Messiah, as coming in the flesh, most exalted, as Head of the people, yet He had to be “cast down” for the indignation that was come upon this people. He never took the headship, but took the casting down. The Spirit of Christ in us always takes portion with sorrow. “My days are like a shadow that declineth.” Then comes the assertion of strength, of all comfort, the perpetuity of Jehovah; “Thou, O Lord, shalt endure; thou shalt arise, and have mercy on Zion,” etc. Here is contrasted the way in which Messiah was cast down in the lowest degree of suffering, and, in the midst of it, the certainty of Jehovah’s taking mercy on His people.

If Zion be set up, all the nations who disbelieved that it would be set up “shall fear thy name.” Then comes another positive declaration: He shall appear in His glory. How Jehovah is to appear brings out the identity of the suffering Messiah with Jehovah. The people which shall be created, etc.—they shall be new creatures then. Messiah’s prayer (v. 17) will be then regarded, and fully answered; it was not apparently regarded during His sufferings on earth. The great statements in this psalm are, Messiah cast down, but Jehovah faithful and will build up Zion. He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and will look down from heaven on what takes place on earth. Then comes in the repetition of the sufferings of Messiah, next His glory, not merely taken in consequence of suffering, but in virtue of His glorious person. The secret of all our strength is this unfathomable mystery—Christ’s being Jehovah, and His identity with the sufferings of His people. It is just the portion of the church to know the glory is His, that He is the Jehovah-God who founded heaven and earth, and to understand how He was on that earth cast down, was bruised, was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and to rest in the happy consciousness of the perfect sympathy of Christ in all our trials, in all that in which wrath may appear to us. In all our sorrows and troubles we must find, whilst under them, wrath, although we know it is chastening in love; it produces in us, not merely the sorrow of the world, but sense of the displeasure of the Lord under them, and we shall be looking out for His hearing our cry, just as a child grieves to see the frown of a tender parent, because of his displeasure shewn in it.

Thus should we, not only on account of the trouble it brings us into—then we are thinking of ourselves instead of God. The great comfort of the believer is, that the Lord Jesus having passed through all this trial is itself a witness to us of the love of God in them; and thus we are more than conquerors, not in carelessness, knowing that nothing shall separate us from the love of God. We may ourselves be the occasion of chastisement—then must there be humbling, but love in it surely. One learns in Christ, having gone through all, the faithfulness of God in all the exercises we may have to pass through. We (believers) must take everything as coming from God: otherwise we do not give sufficient value to our sufferings, but give value to ourselves in them. When wicked men cut our Lord down, He took it all as coming from God: “Thou hast cast me down,” etc. Faith always looks to the great source, and not to casual instruments.

Psalm 93

I have passed over the third book, as it treats more of the detail as to the state and condition and circumstances of the whole people of Israel in the last day. There is not so much of Christ in it, Christ as an object of course there is always, but not so much the expression of His experience when on earth. It is not merely the residue of people in Jerusalem where Christ walked amongst them, nor driven out of Jerusalem, but the whole nation, not exclusive of the Jews, but taking in all. Psalm 73, “As for me my feet were almost gone.” They are in perplexity until God arises in judgment. Then when He arises all is gone! As soon as the glory comes in they will be blessed. Verse 24, “Thou wilt guide me with thy counsel and after the glory receive me,” and as Zechariah says, “After the glory, hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you.” There is a difference for us, we get it before the glory, and when He who is our life shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory. They will not come into blessing till after the glory, because they have not received Him in humiliation. From Psalm 73 to Psalm 89 we have the future character of Israel; their unfaithfulness, tempting God, etc., and in the last Psalms 88, 89, entire failure. Psalm 88 is failure under law, utter darkness of the law on man’s spirit. Psalm 89 is failure of David’s family, king as well as people, but the godly remnant, in this state of darkness, in and where all is gone, find Jesus who is set before them in this character of Messiah. In the fourth book we see the coming in of God in the way of deliverance very remarkably. He is bringing in again the “first-begotten into the world,” therefore the preface is “Jehovah reigneth.” The everlasting gospel comes after, but the general announcement and subject of the book is the reign of Jehovah. Jehovah has never been reigning in the actual exercise of power until this time comes in. His ways and dealings with men have not been on that footing. He is King always, of course, but He has not taken the position of reigning over man, either in connection with Adam, or in the giving of promises, or law. In one sense God has all in His hand, and He says, “do my prophets no harm,” but He has never taken His great power and reigned yet. The patriarchs were patterns of faith, having no possession in the land. Man was set up as king in David; then because of Israel’s failure under the kings, their dominion transferred to the Gentiles, (Nebuchadnezzar). Power committed to man, there is no knowing what he will do. Nebuchadnezzar made an image and called on the people to worship it, instead of God, and then put those who owned God into the fire. When Christ was on earth, things were not set aside, He said, “Give to Csesar the things that are Cassar’s.” Christ became a servant amongst them. Pilate represents the emperor who has God’s appointed authority.

Here our position is “Do well and suffer for it,” because the rule of the Gentiles is going on instead of Jehovah’s reigning. That you see goes on, until the two things meet again, when the mystery of God has gone on to the open apostasy, and power comes out under the form of Babylon, the “mother of harlots.” All the nations in opposition to God’s government will then meet up in open rebellion and nothing can bring in blessing but the Lord coming in judgment. Jehovah reigns. The place of the saints, now suffering with Him, will be to reign with Him then. We shall be called up before He comes, and when He comes to reign we come with Him to reign with Him. He will reign over the earth; but saints gone up will reign with Him. The character of our association with Christ is like that of Paul, who got his soul into the glory whilst it was in heaven. Peter had seen Christ’s sufferings, he shared the sufferings and anticipated the glory. Paul had the sufferings and entered into the glory by faith, he was filling up the measure of Christ’s sufferings. You get from him not the fact of glory revealed merely, but our being with Him, the rays of the glory when it is revealed.

Psalm 90. Remarkable the way in which this book is introduced. The eye is on Jehovah coming in, and faith looks back to see the way they have been led. “Jehovah, thou hast been our dwelling-place.” Psalm 91 shews what that dwelling-place was. Turning to Jehovah as coming up, He had been their dwelling-place. To Him a thousand years were as yesterday when it is past. He had come to deliver, but Psalm 91 gives Christ, He that dwelleth. He takes His place amongst these people whose dwelling-place Jehovah had been. He takes up the names of Abraham’s God (Most High and Almighty), going farther back than Israel to whom He was known as Jehovah, to Abraham the root of the olive-tree. “Blessed be Abraham of the Most High God,” looking on the prosperity of God’s people on earth. God Almighty is a name God took in connection with coming out of the world, and He that knows the secret place knows where to look. God as a Father watches us, but it is not that we shall always escape suffering, we have something better than promise of that kind. We may indeed pass through the fire, but not a hair of our head shall perish, but here it is personal deliverance promised, and if we look for that we shall make terrible mistakes. “Lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.” God will take as much care of the remnant as of Christ. Whoever gets the “secret place of the Most High shall abide,” etc.

Christ says, I will take Jehovah for my refuge, not as the God of the earth yet, and Jehovah comes in as Most High. Verse 9. Israel speaks, “Because thou hast made,” etc. Verse 14. Jehovah takes it up, “Because he hath set his love on me, therefore will I deliver him.” Christ took the place of refusing to be the Jehovah on earth, that He might suffer as Son of man. He dropped His title of Psalm 2, that He might take the place of suffering and claim of Psalm 8, and this is Jehovah’s approval and reward.

Psalm 92. He is in the place where praise flows forth to this great Deliverer. We get the character of the Most High brought out. Then the Lord reigneth (Ps. 93), the floods have lifted up their voice, etc. “Who is this that we should obey him,” the ungodly say: “The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters,” etc., and so it will be they rise against Him, but He wakes up as the Judge of the earth, and puts an end to it all. As He stilled the waves on the lake when they thought He was asleep on a pillow, so now He stills the raging of the nations.

Psalm 94. The remnant in distress calling for judgment. He comes in as the Judge of the earth. He has that character, not Saviour, yet the meek of the earth will be delivered. Wheresoever the grounded staff shall pass, it shall be with tabrets and harps, Isa. 30:32. In order to their getting the blessing they must look for the cutting off of enemies. The “throne of iniquity” must be put down, and the rightful king set up. Can Jehovah reign with Antichrist? If not, vengeance must be executed to put down his throne. Verse 20.

In the Psalms that follow we get the progressive introduction of Jehovah or Jesus (as Lord) into the place of government. In Psalm 102 the sufferings of Christ on earth are contrasted with the glory into which He comes.

Psalms 95, 96 to 99. His going on from one step to another to bring in deliverance. Psalm 95, a solemn appeal to the Jews, the sheep of His pasture, at the closing moment, “to-day, if ye will hear,” etc., the solemn to-morrow is not come. Psalm 96. The last appeal to the Gentiles; leave your idols and come up to worship Jehovah. Psalm 97. Celebrated prophetically, see the quotation of this Psalm in Hebrews. “Worship him,” that is Christ, worship Him. Nothing more shews the divine Person of the Lord than these Psalms. Here it is Jehovah in the Psalms, and in the quotation it is applied to Christ. He is here coming to judge the world. Psalm 98. It is done. In Psalm 99 He goes a step farther; not only does He display His power, but He takes pleasure in Jerusalem, and He is sitting between the cherubims in the temple.

Then comes Psalm 100, not summoning them from their idols, but inviting them to join in the joy of the whole earth at Jehovah being established. Israel sings this Psalm. Thus we get the whole cause of the First-Begotten coming into the world again, in these few Psalms; then turning back to the human part in Psalm 101 He comes in as Son of David. He announces prophetically the principles on which He will govern when He takes the throne as Man on earth.

In Psalm 102 the question is raised, How can He who was cut off have a part in this reign? It enters in a peculiar way into Christ’s sufferings, as cut off out of the land of the living (not atonement), but how can He who was cut off have part in this land of the living? It takes in the whole scene prophetically. He had been lifted up as one chosen from amongst the people to be Messiah, but cast down, the lowest of the low; God’s wrath against Him. Though He came as Messiah, with all the blessings in His hand, He is cast down. “Thou shalt arise and have mercy on Zion,” referring to the last days, and then (v. 15) the world is brought in when Israel is blessed. “He weakened my strength by the way”; cut off at thirty-three years, how could He come in to reign? Now we get the answer of the Spirit. “Thy years are throughout all generations”; it is Jehovah Himself. We get that at the very time when He is cut off; in the midst of all the glory He breaks in “but I am cut off,” the answer breaks in as suddenly, “Thy years are throughout all generations.” The very Jehovah that founded everything (Heb. 1:10), “Thou Lord, in the beginning has laid the foundations of the earth.” It is exceedingly beautiful to get the two together in this way; the casting down and the lifting up. If Christ is the centre of our hearts, we take an interest in all that concerns Christ Himself. He appeals to His disciples, “If ye loved me ye would rejoice because I go to my Father,” you would be glad of my going away because of what concerns me. If you love self, you will want to keep me. The moment we have got peace and are free to think of something besides self, every ray of glory we can perceive in connection with Christ brightens up the interest of our souls in Him. There is no place where Christ speaks of His desolateness on earth as in this Psalm, where He is declared to be the Jehovah. How beautifully the Spirit of God brings out the loveliness of Christ’s heart in the world! His very love isolated Him: He must feel for others; He must feel the sorrow of seeing them rejecting His love. Dreadful to go through a world so dead to its own mercies, in rejecting Him!

There was no sorrow that He had not to go through, even to His disciples turning away. Suppose all is very sorrowful with us; if there is any success of the gospel it cheers our hearts, but there was no such comfort for Him. He said to His disciples, Tarry ye here, and watch with me: poorly indeed they watched, for they went to sleep. He was alone in His sorrow, and alone in His joy. “I have meat to eat that ye know not of.” Christ’s perfectness was the very reason of the way He felt all the path down here. There was everything that could add to the cup of human sorrow. Now, when all the brightness comes in, He says, “I had to be cut off”; this very one, who is Jehovah!

What a wonderful way the Spirit of God brings these divine truths before us! Speaking of being cut off, why it is the Jehovah! How it breaks in upon all the routing of our thoughts, that such an object should have come in! Surely it is enough to take us out of ourselves. The thread that leads us to it is, the interest that Christ takes in all this. It puts us in a place where innocence could not have put us. God Himself has come into all the evil, bringing in grace above all the evil. That it is which gives the exhaustless source of all blessing; it is in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He is presented to us to deliver us out of all the wretched routine of this world’s thoughts, being Himself the object for the affections of our hearts. God the Father has given us the very object to delight in, that He Himself delights in; one who went down into it all, that is the reason we can have communion with Him. God is the only One who could come into such a scene. An angel would have fallen in taking it; it would have been a fall for any creature to have come into it!

God’s Comforts The Stay Of The Soul
Psalm 94.

Psalms 90-100 are connected together, and seem to me to describe the dealings of the Lord with the Jews, etc., in the latter day, on the earth. But I am not going to speak of that now. We may often derive comfort from principles which we find in such portions of the scripture, revealing to us, as they do, God’s character, etc.; but it is important to know the mind of the Spirit in the primary sense, as we shall then be able to discern what God is teaching us through them with a great deal more clearness and certainty.

The two principles which form the basis of what is dwelt on here are, that the workers of iniquity are allowed to lift up their heads and flourish, but that Jehovah is, and will be, Most High for evermore. There is the clear perception of this throughout. Under the temporary exaltation and prevalence of wickedness, the godly are in a very tried state, the righteous suffer; but vengeance belongs to God (not to the sufferer): therefore the cry in verses 1, 2.

To such a height are the workers of iniquity allowed to go, that, in the consciousness that Jehovah’s throne could not be cast down, the question comes in, “shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law?” (v. 20). So completely has wickedness got place in the earth, that there is a sort of inquiry raised, whether the throne of iniquity could subsist in companionship of judgment with the divine throne. The answer is, judgment is coming— “Jehovah our God shall cut them off,” v. 23. Judgment shall return to righteousness in the place of trial and suffering.

The point on which I would dwell a little at present is the consolation of the saints during this time of trial—God’s “comforts.” In the first place we have the assurance, “Jehovah knoweth the thoughts of men, that they are vanity,” v. 11. Then “Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Jehovah,” etc. (v. 12, 13).

As to the pride and purpose of man, it is settled in a word. The “thoughts of man “are not only inferior to God’s wisdom but they are “vanity.” This settles the whole question. All that begins and ends in the heart of man is “vanity,” and nothing else. Whatever the state of things around, though there may be a “multitude of thoughts within,” as ‘what will all this come to?’ ‘how will that end?’ and the like— every barrier we can raise, all our strength, all our weakness, whatever the wave after wave that may flow over us—Jehovah’s thought about it all is, that it is “vanity.” All is working together to one object—God’s plan, that upon which His heart is set—the glorification of Jesus, and ours, with Him. Every thought and every plan of man must therefore be “vanity,” because it has not this, God’s object, for its object; and God’s object always comes to pass. There cannot be two ends to what is going on. Let men break their hearts about it, all simply comes to nothing, the end of it is “vanity.” God’s object is, that “all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.”

Take a man of the world—the shrewdest calculator, the ablest politician, or the greatest statesman: a poor bed-ridden saint is wiser than he, and more sure of having his plans brought about; for the heart of the simplest feeblest saint runs in the same channel with God’s; and though the saint has no strength, God has.

In this Psalm we find, first, the tumult of the enemies; and then, that God has done it. So with the saint constantly in trial: he sees the work of Satan, then God’s hand in it; and he gets blessing. All the present effect of these dealings of “the wicked” is, “Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Jehovah, and teachest him out of thy law; that thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit be digged for the wicked.” The pit is not yet digged, the throne of iniquity is not yet put down. If, in chastening, the power of the adversary is against us, the Lord’s end in it all is, to give “rest in the day of adversity,” etc.

I speak not merely of suffering for Christ—if we are reproached for the name of Christ, it is only for joy and triumph and glory to us; but of those things in which there may be the “multitude of thoughts within,” because we see that we have been walking inconsistently and carelessly in Jehovah’s ways. Still it is, “Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Jehovah,” etc. Jehovah does not chasten willingly, without a needs-be for it. And when there has been failure or inconsistency that brings chastisement, He turns the occasion of the chastisement to the working out of the heart’s evil that needed to be chastened. Jehovah in chastening, throws back the heart upon the springs which have been the occasion of the evil. The soul is hereby laid bare for the application of God’s truth to it, that the word may come home with power. It is taught wherefore it has been chastened; and not only so, but it is brought into the secret of God’s heart—it learns more of His character, who “will not cast off his people, neither forsake his inheritance,” v. 14. What God desires for us, is, not only that we should have privileges conferred upon us, but that we should have fellowship with Himself. Through these chastenings, the whole framework of the heart is brought into association with God. And this stablishes and settles it on the certainty of the hope that grace affords.

Look at Peter after the enemy had sifted him, though his fall was most humbling and bitter, yet by it he gained a deeper knowledge of God and a deeper acquaintance with himself, so that he could apply all that he had learned to his brethren.

The Lord gives our souls “rest from the day of adversity” by communion with himself, communion not only in joy but in holiness. We are thus brought into the secret of God. Circumstances are only used to break down the door, and to let in God. God is near to the soul, when He, in the certainty of love, comes within the circumstances, and is known as better than any circumstance.

Jehovah never chastens without occasion for it, and yet “Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Jehovah.” There is not a more wonderful word than that! I do not say that a man can say this always while under chastening, for, if the soul is judging itself, there will be often anxiety and sorrow; but the effects are blessed. What we want is that all our thoughts and ways and actings of will should be displaced, and that God should be everything. All chastening must have in principle the character of government in it, for it is His dealing with His people in righteousness (as it is said, “If ye call on the Father who without respect of persons, judgeth according to every man’s work,” etc.), not in the sovereign riches of grace. It is God’s allowing nothing in the heart inconsistent with that holiness of which the believer has been made partaker. It is indeed most blessed grace that takes all the pains with us, but that is not the character it assumes.

What we exceedingly need is intimacy of soul with God, resting in quietness in Him, though all be confusion and tumult around us. When the man here had God near his heart, though iniquity abounded, it was only the means of making God’s “comforts “known to his soul; as it is said, “In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul,” v. 19. Our portion is not only to know the riches of divine grace, but the secret of the Lord, to have intimacy of communion with Him in His holiness. Then, however adverse the circumstances, the soul rests quietly and stedfastly in Him.

If, brethren, you would have full unhindered peace and depth of fellowship with God and one with another, if you would meet circumstances and temptations without being moved thereby, it must flow from this: not merely the knowledge that all things are yours in Christ, but acquaintance with God Himself, as it is said, “being fruitful in every good work, and increasing by the knowledge of God.”

May we, through grace enabling, let God have all His way in our hearts.

On The Psalms, Especially 110

The character of the fourth book of Psalms is marked by the bringing in of the “only-begotten” into the world again. But first He is cut off, and He who was cut off is Jehovah the Creator. The fifth and last book is the only one which speaks of Christ as Melchisedec. This is the first psalm which speaks of Him as man after the restoration. He now takes His throne as Priest. The last psalms are the hallelujahs.

After Psalm 102, which is the centre of book 4, we find the people repassing all the ways and dealings of God, when they gather round Him their centre, the Messiah. All the blessings cluster round Him in this character of Melchisedec. Psalm 103 is a review of God’s moral dealings with the people; Psalm 104, of dealings with creation, celebrating Jehovah, God of Israel, in connection with creation. In Psalm 105 we have God’s positive, special favour to them as His people, and in Psalm 106 their failure under it. “Gather us from amongst the heathen” refers to the last day, etc. There is a summary of all God’s dealings with them, as to forgiveness, creation, special favour, and their failure and cry to be brought forth in mercy.

There is one remarkable feature to be noticed in these psalms; namely, the manner of their connection with Christ. Psalm 102 shews the way in which He was the poor man cut off, yet Jehovah; and Psalm 103 begins, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, … who forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases.” There is especial interest in seeing how this is connected with Christ in the Gospels. Jehovah is the One who forgives and heals. This is just what the Lord does with the paralytic. It was an example of God’s governmental dealings with man. He healed the palsy, and besides, He forgave the sins. They say, “Who is this that forgiveth sins also?” He proved that He was the Jehovah who forgave them and healed their diseases. The Gospels, while most simple (the first three especially) in many ways, have the greatest depth in them, if you get below the surface. They shew what He was, if searched into; and it is most blessed to see who He was that thus walked amongst men, going about doing good. In the Epistles the Holy Ghost gives the explanation of the value of Christ’s work, and until I get peace I want that which will settle me on that point; and when settled there, I can turn back and see who He was, and the heart finds more food than even in the Epistles. We find Christ Himself. But there is also much relative to Christ in the Psalms and in special connection with the remnant of Israel. He calls Himself the Son of man in the passages about the paralytic referred to; but what He did proved Him to be the Jehovah of the Psalms. We have in them either His own experience; or He is in sympathy with those there (that is, in connection with the remnant).

The fifth book has a peculiar bearing, because it rehearses the circumstances of the remnant, after their restoration. It is their retrospect of all that has gone by. Hence it begins with this formula (107) “Give thanks unto the Lord, for his mercy endureth for ever.” That was the set phrase for the celebration of the faithfulness of God in Israel. David used it when he brought the ark back (1 Chron. 16); and again they used it when they came from Babylon (Ezra 3). “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,” etc. This refers to Israel brought back, and goes back to their history in the wilderness— deliverance from Egypt; “they that go down to the sea in ships,” Ps. 107:23. Israel is being brought back; and it ends in God’s setting “the poor on high from affliction.” What we get as a sort of preface to the book is that all these are gathered from different places, in the midst of humbled circumstances. They are minished and brought low—enemies are in the land; and the result of all is, that God pours contempt upon the proud, and iniquity in the earth is entirely cleansed.

In Psalm 108 is praise in taking possession. “Through God we shall do valiantly”—“Thou art the glory of their strength.” The subject then turns back to Christ’s sorrow in the wilderness, Antichrist literally being represented by Judas. See how Christ got Himself in spirit into the very same circumstances in which they will be in the latter day.

There are but few of the psalms apply wholly and entirely to the Lord in His personal sorrows. Psalm 22 applies thus exclusively to Christ, as also Psalm 102, but not many others. Those referring to His glory at the end of course are different. There are a great many in which some passages apply to the Lord and others to the remnant. For instance, Psalm 69 (“They gave me gall for my meat, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink”), refers to Christ; but the subject of Psalm 69 is first Israel. In verse 5 He speaks in the name of His people. The one in whom the Spirit works takes up the sorrows of the remnant. It is the Spirit of Christ; but some are the expression of what Christ Himself went through. In Psalm 22 you have not only what exclusively belongs to Him, but atonement—that which man could have nothing to do with, except in needing and getting the blessing of it. When we find His Person as Creator and His atoning work, we find Him alone; but in all others, others could come and do come into them. No sorrow was like His, even that besides His sufferings in making the atonement. Psalm 69:26 shews how others are brought in. “They talk to the grief of those whom thou hast wounded.” This is the same psalm in which He speaks of “reproach hath broken my heart”; and we all know the accomplishment of that in the Gospels. Yet in the other verse there were some who, however insignificant, had a part in it.

There is a character of suffering flowing from the activity of divine love. There is another kind—anxiety and distress for sin, both of which we may go through, not in atonement as Christ did, whose alone it was to be there. But Israel will feel the distress of their sin in the last day. What is the foundation on which He can sympathise with sinners now in any way? Atonement.

In Psalm 22 you get, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” “I cry in the day time and thou hearest not,” etc. But in this Psalm 69, which approaches nearest to that, we get the suffering very different in principle. “Save me, O God, for the waters,” etc.; “but as for me, my prayer is unto thee in an acceptable time,” though going up to death; whereas in Psalm 22 He is forsaken, bearing divine wrath for sin. There are dogs around and “my soul like wax,” He says, “but be not thou far from me.” He is far from Him, entirely alone. He could not then speak of “those whom thou hast wounded.” He does bring in the church at the end of Psalm 22: “in the midst of the church will I sing praise.” The judgment being completely and fully borne, and atonement made, He sings praise to Him who heard Him, resurrection being the proof of it.

In Gethsemane, in prospect of the cup, He experienced man’s weakness and the power of Satan. He sweat great drops of blood, and cries to His Father, “Father, if it be possible,” etc. He had not got the cup then, though He was thinking of it. The moment He has got the cup He says, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” The remnant may dread the wrath of God for sin; but they never endure it: He has endured it for them.

We may go through and feel the reproach of Christ in our little measure, a privilege Paul had, in scourges, reproaches, etc. He was wonderfully like his Master; but would he have thought it a privilege to bear the wrath of God for sin? The power of Satan and the power of wicked men might be all let loose upon us; but that would not be like the suffering in atonement. The sorrow and suffering on account of sin He can feel with us, for He felt it in bearing it, and so could say, “Out of the depths have I cried unto thee”; but in the activity of divine love He can feel with us, and we with Him. The other thing into which we can never enter is what He endured for us. The historical circumstances of Christ were just what Israel will have to go through in the latter day— circumstances in a smaller sphere, but in greater depth of feeling. He went through all in spirit and through some in fact. Psalm 109 is Judas’ betrayal personally, but not confined to Judas— “them.” “Let them be before the Lord continually, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth,” v. 15 — “them that speak evil,” etc. (v. 20). What a wonderful provision God has made for the comfort of the remnant in that day! Suppose them reading these words! Christ made the atonement and has put words into their mouths, expressing for them their cry, speaking of their sins, etc., and they will say, “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him,” and thus they will be encouraged to think He will hear them. These two things will give them encouragement when they find out their sin; otherwise they might say, What will become of us? and get into despair.

When all come up, as recorded in Matthew, asking what authority had Caesar, the Lord puts a question. There was a solemn process going on between them and God; they were with “the officer” in the way. Then He refers to this Psalm no speaking of His exaltation on high (Man. 22:44), “Sit on my right hand until I make thine enemies,” etc. This is the time He is sitting there—doing nothing for Israel, though He is their great High Priest within, and “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance”; but their whole condition, since the day of the cross till He comes again to earth, is that He is doing nothing for them. This is not the time that He is making His enemies His footstool, but He is gathering the joint-heirs, while He is sitting on the throne of God. How remarkably this comes in as connected with making our peace! “When he had by himself purged our sins”; that was part of His divine glory. He could not sit down without it, and the work is complete; “He for ever sat down,” referring to completeness in perpetuity. Every believer has immutable, unchangeable perfection before God in Christ. He sits on the right hand of God, and, consequent upon His sitting down there, He has received the Holy Ghost. There is now no true christian state, but that of unclouded assurance in the presence of God—absolute brightness there. There is no continual cleansing with blood; the water is for practical purifying. Thus in 1 John 1, “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” refers to our place or standing before God.

Remark, Jehovah says in verse 1, “Sit thou on my right hand until I make thy foes thy footstool.” He is not treading them under His feet. When He comes forth, we come with Him, not to triumph upon them; that He does alone, and the time not come yet. Our actual condition will then be with Him. It is now by faith with Him. We have association with Him as a heavenly Christ. Now they are giving a place to this Jehovah on earth, who was the rejected man. “The Lord send the rod of thy strength out of Zion.” We are going back to the fulfilment of Psalm 2. He has set His King in Zion. “Thy people [Jehovah’s people] shall be willing,” etc. (v. 3), but not before the day of His power. They were not willing in His weakness; a little remnant were, and they became the nucleus of the church. But now “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power,” that is in contrast with “sit thou on my right hand until I make,” etc. In verse 3 “dew of thy youth,” means of these youths, the generation just come in, and “the womb of the morning “is the opening of the new day just coming in. The people that shall be born are the dew of the morning. The Jew elsewhere is compared to dew, and to a lion too—strength, and not tarrying for man. “The Sun shall arise with healing in his wings” for this earth; that is, in the “day of the Lord.” We shall be with Him in the heavenlies then. We watch for the Morning Star; it is those watching in the night who see this.

The Lord in verse 5 is not the same as Jehovah, it is Adonai. “The Lord shall strike through kings in the day of thy wrath.” It is not the day of His wrath now at all, but when that time comes He will strike through kings. The beast will be destroyed first—Gog and these kings; no human power will stand before Him. “He shall wound the heads” (it is rather the head) over a great country (v. 6).

“He shall drink of the brook by the way,” etc. (v. 7). This is according to the grand principle of God’s moral government. Those who humble themselves shall be exalted, while those who exalt themselves shall be abased. Christ was always the dependent One. He drank of the brook by the way. He took whatever refreshment God sent Him—took it as He could get it by the way. As Christ wept over Jerusalem, so He went out really in heart giving it up, finds a poor Samaritan, and He says, “The fields are white unto harvest.” He had meat to eat, He drank of the brook by the way, in perfect subjection He took it as He could “by the way.” He did not keep what He had to save Him from the sorrow of the way; but He emptied Himself, to be entirely dependent.

“The head over a great country “is a follower of Nebuchadnezzar. What will he have when the humbled One comes in? He will be smitten. He has exalted himself, and he will be abased; and that other Man, who humbled Himself—took only what God gave Him, He shall be exalted. It is a future scene.

How blessed that God should give us Christ’s history in this way! If I look at Him as in the bosom of the Father, as Jehovah come in moral glory, the One who was humbled, if I look at the springs that moved His heart, His sufferings under the hand of God, His glory in the latter day, what food it gives me! “He that eateth me, even he shall live by me,” and “If ye abide in me, ye shall bring forth much fruit.” He brings us by faith into another world altogether, where striving together, and jostling one another up and down, are unknown.

The Lord’s walk on earth is good for us. If we believe on Him, we must then abide in Him. The first thing He will do for us, when He comes for us, will be what He speaks of in John 17, “Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory.” May we learn in dependence on the Lord what will never have an end, the depth and blessedness of what is in the Son; and so walk with Him as that the Holy Ghost need not occupy us with ourselves, which He must do if we walk badly!