Psalms (Book 2)

In the second book, the remnant is viewed as outside Jerusalem, and the city as given up to wickedness. This is seen throughout it. The covenant connection of the Jews with Jehovah is lost, but God is trusted. When Messiah comes in, all is changed. We have further, more distinctly, the exaltation of Christ on high as the means of their deliverance, and His rejection and sorrow when down here. It closes with the millennial reign of Messiah in peace under the figure of Solomon. The spirit of the godly man is tested by these circumstances. And, as all hope of finding good in the people is given up, the soul of the believing remnant is more entirely looking to God Himself and attached to Him. It is with this that the book opens.

The godly man had been going with the multitude to the house of God, but that is all over. He is driven away, and his cry is from Jordan—the land of the Hermonites, and the hill Mizar. All God’s waves are gone over him. It was terrible to see an enemy in possession of the sanctuary, and the true one of Jehovah cast out and His name blasphemed. The heathen, as stated in Joel, had come in in power, and taunted those who had trusted in Jehovah’s faithfulness with the cry, “Where is thy God? “(Joel 2:17). It was, of course, a dreadful trial (so with Christ upon the cross; and with Him yet more, for He declared He was forsaken); so that what God was to them by faith was put to the test. This faith is what this psalm now expresses. The heart of the godly pants after God. It was not merely for His blessings; they were gone. The preciousness of what He Himself was, was only so much the more vividly brought out. The main distress was the cry “Where is thy God?” But if the saint is not in Jerusalem, God is the confidence of the saint. Faith says, “I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.” The heart too can appeal to Him (v. 9), and, under the pressure of the repeated taunt, hope in God Himself, and He will be the health of the countenance of him that trusts in Him. The reader will remark that in verse 5 it is the help of God’s countenance: in verse 11 He becomes the health of the countenance of him that trusts in Him. This making God Himself to become everything by the deprivation of all blessings, and the exercise of faith in it casting the soul entirely on God Himself, is very precious.

The enemy in Psalm 42 is the outward enemy and oppressor —the Gentile. Though in circumstances, of course, and not in the depths of atonement, it is interesting to see the analogy in verse 3 with what the Lord said upon the cross. Psalm 43 is a supplementary psalm to the former: only that here the ungodly nation, the Jews, are before us, and the deceitful and unjust man, the wicked one; though the Gentile oppressor be yet there (v. 2). We know they will both be there in that day. From the Jewish nation being now in the scene, the return to the holy hill and tabernacle and altar of God are more before the mind of the remnant. Verses 3, 4 form the groundwork of the book. {Ps 44}

Psalm 44 gives a full and vivid picture of the state of the nation, as in the conscience of the remnant. They had heard with their ears. Faith rested in the memorial of all the old mighty deliverances wrought by God, and how He had put them in possession of the land by His power, not theirs (v. 1-8). In verses 9-16 their present state is recounted. They are cast off and scattered. The enemy and avenger is among them; they scattered among the heathen—sold of God for no price (v. 17-22). Yet they have, in no wise, swerved from their integrity. On the contrary, it is for His sake they are killed all the day long, and counted as sheep for the slaughter. (Note, the moment Messiah was rejected, this began in principle: compare Rom. 8:36). Verses 23-26 contain the appeal to God to wake up to redeem them for His mercies’ sake. Why should He forget them for ever? We have still God, not Jehovah, in this psalm; for they are outside. {Ps 45}

Psalm 45 introduces Messiah, and, as we shall see, changes everything. I know not, interesting and full of bright energy as the psalm is, that I have much to note upon it, by reason of its force being so very plain. It will be remarked that it is Messiah in judgment and taking the throne. He had already proved that He loved righteousness and hated iniquity—was fit to govern. He is saluted as God. Yet His disciples (the remnant) are called His fellows (compare Zech. 13:7, where He is seen in His humiliation and smitten, but owned to be Jehovah’s fellow). I apprehend the queen is Jerusalem. Tyre and others own her with presents. She is gloriously received into the chambers of the king himself. This, I apprehend, is the force of within. She is in the closest relationship with the king. The virgins her companions are, I suppose, the cities of Judah. The glory of Israel is no longer now their fathers. The presence of Messiah (the fulfiller of promise) has eclipsed the depositaries of promise of old. Instead of fathers, they have children to be made princes in all lands. The coming in of Messiah in glory and judgment, brings in the full triumph and glory, amongst the nations, of Jerusalem and the Jewish people. The psalm is full of Messiah, and exclusively, yet as man, and God is only alluded to as his God. But Messiah is God. {Ps 46}

Psalm 46. The remnant, now that Messiah has appeared in glory, can celebrate what God is in favour of His people, and with the special knowledge acquired through what He has been for them in trouble. There may be yet an assault: indeed according to prophecy I believe there will be. But as the whole effect of Messiah’s coming in blessing was celebrated in Psalm 45, so here the great result in divine government. The spared remnant have Jehovah with them as the God of Israel (v. 7). For here Jehovah is again introduced as a present thing. Here it is specially (and suitably, after what we have been studying, needs not to be said) as refuge and deliverance. Earth, mountains, and waters may tremble, or swell and roar: His people need not fear. God is with them. Nor is this all. He has His city on the earth, where He who is the Most High dwells, and has His tabernacles gladdened by that river which, everywhere in these descriptions, is the sign of blessing; as in the heavenly Jerusalem, and in the earthly in Ezekiel—nay, in paradise, and in figures, in the believer, and in the assembly, who calls to the water of life him who thirsts. But even then the river is there. God is there—the sure and best of answers to the taunting demand “Where is thy God?” She shall not be moved, but helped right early.

Verse 6 gives in magnificent abruptness the great result. All is decided. Then they say, “Jehovah Sabaoth is with us.” The God of the whole people is the refuge of this feeble remnant (v. 8, 9), they summon the earth to see what the works of Jehovah are, what is come of the impotent rage and violence of men; for He will be exalted among the heathen and exalted in the earth. The place of faith is to be still and wait on Him and know that He is God, as the remnant of Jacob will with joy—that Jehovah of hosts, the God of Jacob, is with them. {Ps 47}

Psalm 47 only pursues this deliverance to its bright results for Israel according to God’s glory in the earth. Jehovah is now a great King over all the earth (compare Zech. 14). He subdues the nations under Israel and Himself chooses their inheritance. This is triumphantly celebrated from verses 5-9, and the association of the princes of the peoples now owning God, with the people of the God of Abraham. He is specially Israel’s (the remnant’s) King, but if He is, He is King of all the earth. In these verses God Himself is celebrated, but He is the God of Israel. It is the celebration of the earthly part of the millennial glory of God: Israel owned in the delivered remnant being the centre. I apprehend verse 9 should be “have joined themselves to the people.” {Ps 48}

Psalm 48 completes this series. Jehovah is fully established as Israel’s God in Zion, now the praise of the whole earth, the city of the great King, and in whose palaces God is well known as a refuge. The kings were assembled; they found another sort of power there than they thought of, marvelled, were troubled, and hasted away. The power of the sea was broken by the east wind, and Jehovah’s hand manifested there too. The psalm beautifully refers to the beginning of Psalm 44, where they had said in their distress, We have heard with our ears… the mighty works of the fathers’ days. Now they say, As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of Jehovah Sabaoth, the city of our God. They do not now say, as in Psalm 42, “I had gone with the multitude,” but now cry to thee from Jordan; but in sweet and unendangered peace, “we have thought of thy lovingkindness, O God, in the midst of thy temple.” God’s name they had trusted, but now His praise was according to it. He had come in power. It was so to the ends of the earth. He calls on Mount Zion to rejoice because of these judgments, with the joyful assurance that this God is their God for ever and ever; their life long will He guide and bless them. It is an earthly blessing, and death, the last enemy, is not destroyed (v. 11-14). {Ps 49}

Psalm 49 is a moral conclusion for all, founded on these judgments of God. Wealth, elevation, all that is exalted in man, is nothing. Man expects to endure, gives his own name to his lands, blesses himself, is praised by posterity, and spoken well of as prudent and wise, seeing he has done well to himself. They are laid in sheol like sheep. The hope of the man of the world does not last; he leaves the world he was great in; his reputation, which lives, is nought for him, deception for others. Satan’s power is for this life; there is no deceiving after it. Man in honour without understanding is like the beasts that perish, but the righteous remnant trusts in God: his soul is redeemed from the power of the grave. God shall accept him. The preservation on earth, or heavenly blessing is left somewhat vague here. The immediate hope would be of preserving life; but it would meet those that might be slain with the fullest and securest hope. It is even so in Luke 21:19, “gain your souls,” and in Matthew 24:13. The ambiguity is preserved there too designedly. {Ps 50}

In Psalm 50 we enter on new ground—God’s judgment of the people. Jehovah the mighty God summons the whole earth; as in Psalm 51 we have their confession of killing Christ.

The introduction of Psalm 50 is magnificent, but requires little comment, God shining out of Zion the perfection of beauty. Only remark that the first two verses are the thesis; from verse 3 is the bringing it about. But heaven is called in to stand by, a witness of righteousness, and the earth; but the judgment is the special judgment of the people. In verses 5, 6, He takes up and accepts and gathers the remnant, His “godly ones,” who have now entered into covenant with Him by sacrifice. It is in view, I apprehend, of their seeing Christ whom they had pierced, that these words are uttered. The heavens (though in result God be seated in Zion) bring in their display of the righteousness of God; distinct in itself note, from His judgment. This is general. It is not in itself the judgment of God. I doubt not, He shines forth in glory therein, but in a particular manner. We can say it is the glorified saints who display this, of course with Christ Himself; yea, so fully that they shall judge the earth. It is not judgment through secondary causes: God is now judge Himself—hence gathers His saints too. In verse 7 the people are judged. God does not want sacrifice, He wants righteousness. He will not have wickedness, nor, now, the wicked among His people. So we read in the very same way in Isaiah 48 and 57. Man fancies God is such as he himself is; but all shall be set in order before Him. This is God’s judgment. {Ps 51}

Psalm 51 is the true remnant’s confession. They have fully entered into the mind of God (see v. 16). There is true and complete humiliation for sin before God, yet confidence in Him. He is looked to cleanse and deliver, with the true faith of God’s people. The whole sin of the heart and nature is acknowledged, and the dreadful crime of Christ’s death owned (v. 14). The humiliation is accepted, but with the sense of God’s cleansing being perfect. He creates too a clean heart. He prays that that Spirit (which Haggai declares abode with them after all their faults, and in spite of the Babylonish captivity), might not be taken from him, nor he lose the sense of the presence of his God. Persons have found difficulty in this verse; I see not any. No good could have been wrought by the Old Testament saints without the Holy Ghost: withdrawn from them, all their joy and comfort ceased and gave place to darkness. This he prays might not be. There cannot for a moment be a doubt that the Spirit wrought in the Old Testament saints. The question is, whether He was present in the same manner, and dwelling in them, in virtue of Christ’s work and glory, uniting them to a risen Head in heaven. This, of course, could not be. The work was not yet wrought, the glory not yet entered into by the man Jesus. The New Testament is clear on this point. He was not; but He must have wrought in and with the saints. He acts in everything good; the agent in all divine action in the creature, as in the creation He moved on the face of the waters, but specially in the hearts of men for any good that is there, and to be the source of joy and strength to the saints. So in the prophets and others.

An intelligent saint now could not say what is said in this psalm (v. 11); he knows God will not take His Spirit from him. He might indeed perhaps in anguish say it, and with a true heart, and be heard; but not intelligently. This repentance of Israel, as so constantly taught in scripture (see Acts 3), is the path to Zion’s blessing there. Will God accept their offerings? In these two psalms we have the separative judgment in Israel connected with wickedness, sin against Jehovah—a judgment which is real deliverance for the remnant; and now (when He has appeared) the full confession, and that even of having shed the blood of the Saviour.

These two psalms complete the setting, as to circumstances, of the whole scene before us, which forms the groundwork of this book. The series of psalms now commences (as we have seen in other instances), to supply and unfold the expressions of feeling for the remnant under these circumstances. It will be found, accordingly, that it is not so much trial by being in the midst of evil, as from seeing it dominant and prevailing in the place even that belonged to Jehovah. Hence in general, they are addressed to God and the Most High, the God of promise —not to Jehovah, the God of present covenant blessings, for they are out of the place of them. When otherwise, I purpose noticing it in its place. After all this is gone through up to the full inshining of hope, the position of Christ exalted on high, and once suffering in Israel as that in virtue of which He could help and deliver them, is brought out. This (with the application of it to the remnant and the employment of David’s last appeal in his sorrow, as now fatigued with years, to Israel’s own state at the end) ushers in the millennial reign of Christ under the figure of Solomon.

In Psalm 52 we find faith as regards the power of the wicked man, who was in presence of the godly. The goodness of God endured. God would destroy the proud and deceitful man, while the righteous would abide. It reminds of Shebna—not enemies from without nor even the beast, but within among themselves—the Antichrist of power. {Ps 53}

In Psalm 53 we have the wicked in general, the whole mass of the people, all, save where grace had come in. It is the same as Psalm 14, but does not speak of Jehovah, but of God, for the remnant are no longer in the place of covenant relation. Hence here it is not God is in the generation of the righteous, but the utter ruin of those encamped against them—the public judgment of the external enemies. Those who are in great fear are the ungodly Jews (see Isaiah 33:14; 8:12; and 10:24). In Psalm 14 they despised the poor who trusted in Jehovah. There they were outwardly together. This is not so now. God has put His enemies to shame—not the proud ungodly the poor of the flock. The desire of the full salvation of Israel out of Zion as a centre, not merely God’s deliverance by judgment from enemies without, is then expressed. The power which comes from heaven and destroys the faithless oppressor, is a distinct thing from the establishment of the result of covenant power in Zion according to promise. {Ps 54}

Psalm 54 is the cry to God to deliver according to the value of His name, the subject of trust. The double character of the enemies is spoken of—strangers, enemies from without; and oppressors, the proud within, who hunt for the life of the poor. When deliverance comes, then the name of Jehovah is introduced (v. 6, 7). The name of God is the revelation of what He is. This is what is trusted. Jehovah’s name, that of their covenant God, will be praised when they get back into the place of association with Him.

Psalm 55 is a distressing picture of wickedness in Jerusalem. The speaker is outside, but has experienced this wickedness in the treachery of his dearest friends. His resource is in God: Jehovah will save. He is looking back, I judge, at all that he had experienced in Jerusalem. Wickedness went about her walls. Wickedness, deceit, and guile were in her midst, nor departed from her streets. He would fain have fled from it all. The enemy was without, the wicked within; but they charged the godly with wickedness, and utterly hated them; but worst of all was the heartless treachery of those within, those with whom the godly had gone in company to the house of God. Still his trust was in God, for where else should he seek help? {Ps 56}

Psalm 56 expresses the sense of the bitter and relentless enmity of the wicked, but the tears of the godly are put in God’s bottle. God is owned as the Most High, the title of promise but not of covenant (that of covenant is Jehovah); and here the remnant are cast out. But the word of God is a sure trusting place. It carries the truth of God as its basis to the soul, and contains all the expression of His goodness, and ways, and faithfulness, and interest also in His people. Hence there is no fear of man. The soul of the godly was delivered from death; he had escaped and fled, and now he looks to God that his feet may be kept, that he may walk before God in the light of the living. As the expression of the tried heart driven out, but so escaped, it has a most clear and distinct place. {Ps 57}

Psalm 57 looks more at the evil and the feet being kept, leaning on the word. This psalm, while crying to God in the same spirit and circumstances, and under the same title, is more the expression of confidence in God as a refuge. His wings are a covert till the evil be overpast, and full deliverance is looked for by His gloriously putting an end to the trial. God will send from heaven and deliver. Hence the end of the psalm is more triumphant than that of Psalm 56. He will praise among the peoples and various tribes of the earth, for God’s mercy and truth are great. God’s publicly exalting Himself above heaven and over all the earth is looked for. No help was on earth, none to be looked for; but this cast more entirely on God, and thus brought out a fuller confidence in His safeguard, and in the final display of power in deliverance. So it ever is. God would send from heaven. How this directs the remnant upwards, and links them with a heavenly deliverance. Then Jehovah is praised. {Ps 58}

Psalm 58. All righteousness was silent in Israel. The wicked were such and nought else. The godly man looks for judgment on them, for, let favour be shewn to them, they will not learn uprightness. In the land of uprightness will they deal unjustly (Isaiah 26:9, 10). They cannot, says David of the same, be taken with hand; one must be fenced with iron to touch them (2 Sam. 23). Hence the godly looked for judgment—the only possible means, by God’s own testimony, of removing the evil; for patience had been fully exercised towards them, hut when even God’s hand was lifted up they would not see. And the vengeance of deliverance would come, and men would say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous; doubtless there is a God that judgeth in the earth (see Isaiah 26:9). This is the meaning of these terrible judgments: they establish the government and righteous judgment of God in the earth. Grace has taken us out of the world; we are not of it, as Christ was not of it. Christ will, as to our deliverance, even from suffering, come and take us out of the evil, so that we have in no way need to seek the destruction of our enemies. But for the persecuted remnant, it is the only and promised deliverance; and not only that—it establishes God’s government of the earth. {Ps 59}

Psalm 59 gives more the external enemies. The same wickedness is found there, but the might of human power with it. But they also must be judged, that wickedness may be set aside. Nor was it the sin of Israel against them that brought the heathen on them (however God might chasten them for sin against Him, so that He was justified). The suffering remnant look therefore for the intervention of Jehovah to judge them. And Jehovah shall judge all the heathen. They are not destroyed, but scattered, yet practically, as power, consumed; and many, as we know, slain.

This psalm speaks of no restoration of blessing. It is judgment, and judgment going on and not yet finished. And this judgment of the proud and wicked enemies will go on. Though rising up in rage to a head of wickedness, they will be sore smitten and consumed. All the heathen are concerned in it, but I apprehend that it is especially the apostate power animated of Satan—partially the king of Daniel 8 perhaps. It will be remarked here that, the moment it is in contrast with the heathen, the name of Jehovah is introduced. The personal address is still under the name of God, for the people are still outside (see v. 3, 5, 8 for Jehovah, and 1, 9, 10, 17 for the personal address). Note, the result is, that God rules in Jacob unto the ends of the earth. Verses 14, 15 are, I apprehend, a challenge. Let the heathen be as hungry dogs about the city, the believer will sing of Jehovah’s power. It is at the close of the tribulation.

This psalm presents another phase of the connection of Israel and Messiah, and shews how David became the fitted instrument whom God had attuned to tell Messiah’s and the remnant’s sufferings. “Slay them not, lest my people forget.”54 Now, this is not the language of the king, as such, but of Jehovah. The only case where “my people” is used is 2 Samuel 22:44, or Psalm 18:43, where Christ is the speaker. But when Christ is born, He is called Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins. Now Jesus was the personal verifying of that which was said of Jehovah. In all their affliction He was afflicted, as in Isaiah 63. It is Jehovah who gets the tongue of the learned (Isaiah 50). So that “my people,” where not directly of Jehovah which is frequent, is Christ entering into the sorrows of Israel, but in the love of Jehovah to them—no doubt as man (or how could He have actually suffered?) but still in the sympathies of Jehovah—yet, and because He is Jehovah, perfectly entering into them. It is thus He wept over Jerusalem, saying, “How often would I have gathered thy children together! “But that was Jehovah. Hence, though He can say “we,” because He graciously takes a place among the children, yet, in saying “we,” it brings in all His own value and excellency into the cry. “I” and “me” may often take up the case of an individual of the remnant; but in case of such an expression as “my people,” we clearly get One who stands in another position—not merely David. He says (like Moses) to Jehovah, “thy people” ever, and that is all right, but One who, in whatever sorrow, could say, as Jehovah, when spoken of by the Spirit, “my people,” and enter into their griefs with divine sympathy, and a righteous call for divine judgment. I apprehend that, though the enemies are the heathen, yet their complete intimacy and affinity with the wicked among the Jewish people is clearly intimated here. The same thing is found in Isaiah 66. They are all melted into one system and state of wickedness. {Ps 60}

In Psalm 60 the remnant acknowledge God’s having cast them off. Their only hope is, that He will turn to them again. This is exactly the point of Israel’s righteousness as a nation: no going for help elsewhere—no spirit of rebellion. They accept the punishment of their iniquity. Still God had put His ensign among the faithful in Israel. He was their Jehovah-nissi. They now look to Him. The end of the psalm is God asserting His title to the land of promise. Victory will be to Israel through Him. {Ps 61}

Psalm 61. The main point of all these psalms is trust in God when all is against the godly One. The more all circumstances are adverse, the more God is trusted in; but Christ shines through all as taking the dependent godly one’s place. Many of the psalms of this book were, it is very likely, composed when David was driven out through Absalom.

This confidence in God which calls Him to hear is expressed in Psalm 61. It is not an appeal of the godly man against enemies, but the sinking of his heart as cast out; but, when at the end of the earth and his spirit overwhelmed, he cries to God and looks for a rock higher than himself from this flood. Thus his confidence was restored. It was a known God whom he thus trusted, whatever his then sorrows. In verse 5 he applies it to present certainty of having been heard. The vows he had sent up Godward had reached His ear above; full blessings would rest upon him, and in those blessings he would perform them. Verse 6, doubtless, as to the occasion of it, was David, but it looks, I apprehend, clearly to a greater than he, and the abiding life into which He entered as man; and though the godly remnant be thus driven out and their spirit overwhelmed within them, yet the fact that the King had been so would be a cheer and a security to their hearts: His song would become theirs, His having sung it a relief to them when they might have sunk in despondency. Though the being driven out is the occasion and is felt, the psalm does not refer to wickedness, but to nature, the human heart being overwhelmed. {Ps 62}

In Psalm 62 confidence is more expressed. It is not looking from an overwhelmed heart, but a free looking up, so that one is not overwhelmed. His soul waits on God, has none else indeed, but does not desire any other. There is a “how long? “as well as a waiting. God will certainly come in at the right time, and then it will be known to whom power belongs. The psalm is spoken individually and may be in the mouth of any one of the godly remnant. How long would they imagine mischief against a man? What was their object? Why have him thus in hatred, and by falsehood seek to root him out of his place—the place of God’s blessing, in which He had placed the godly in Israel? But this, I doubt not, has special application to Christ as the One who was indeed in this place, and against whom all their malice was directed to cast Him down from His excellency. He invites also the people (Jewish) to trust in God, to pour out their hearts before Him, and, putting Himself with them in this place, says, not only, “my refuge is in God,” but He is “a refuge for us.” In saying “my” He shews that He had it; but these maschilim (the wise) shall instruct the many and turn to righteousness many of them.55 Above all did that truly understanding One do so. They were not to trust in the great and violent ones of the earth. Power belongs to God, and with Him is mercy. They may trust in Him as a God of righteousness, and walk uprightly and not be turned aside by the prosperity of the wicked; for the Lord (Adonai) will reward every man according to his works. It is the desire to cast down the poor of the flock (because the wicked after all have the consciousness that the excellency of God is with them, and specially with Christ), which draws out this psalm, which expresses the faith of the saint, and the warning to the people to trust God and not the mighty. They are exalted in the earth; but true elevation from God is with Christ, and those who thus walk, who fear God and obey the voice of His servant. {Ps 61}

If Psalm 61 has been the cry of depression, Psalm 62 the confidence and encouragement of trust in God, Psalm 63 is the longing of the soul, still as cast out and far from the sanctuary (so we can speak of heaven, for we have seen the power and glory there by faith); but having, by faith in the lovingkindness itself, praise as its portion even in the wilderness, marrow and fatness to feed upon. It is a beautiful psalm in this respect; for it knows God; praise is thus begotten in the soul and for all times. There are two points: first, a most sweet word— because God’s lovingkindness is better than life, his lips praise God, though life in the wilderness be sorrow; secondly, because He has been his help, therefore he will rejoice in His protection. Verse 8 describes the practical result—his soul followed hard after God, and God’s right hand upheld him. There was the longing to see the power and the glory as he had seen it; the present satisfying of the soul as with marrow and fatness, and that in the silent watches of the night, when all outward excitement was hushed and the soul left to itself. Those that sought the soul of the righteous to destroy it should go down into hades, but the king shall rejoice in God. Those that own His name should glory, but the false ones who departed from Him should be put to shame. It is again the king, and applies to Christ in a higher sense than to the remnant. For Him it was the desire to see the glory from which He was descended; for the Jew it was in the temple; for us, a Christ who has been revealed by faith to us, who have seen the glory and sanctuary into which He is entered.

There is a difference between Psalm 84 and this psalm: — that is the desire to revisit the sanctuary of God; this, desire after God Himself. There the tabernacles of Jehovah, a covenant God, are amiable; here God Himself is a delight when there are no tabernacles to go to.56 {Ps 64}

Psalm 64 chiefly speaks of the unceasing crafty hatred of the enemy and cries to God: God will shoot at them suddenly. The result of this judgment will be that all shall fear and declare the work of God, for they shall wisely consider of His doing. Then (for judgment is now come) the righteous shall be glad in Jehovah, for His covenant name is now taken, the judgment having removed the power of evil. The upright in heart glory. Thus judgment introduces the millennium. {Ps 65-67}

In Psalms 65-67 we have the bright side, the bright and joyful confidence of the saint who is conscious of being heard, and who, though not yet in the blessing, counts upon it; whereas up to this it has been the sense of the power of evil, or the cry to God and waiting upon Him. Still in Psalm 65 the door of praise is not yet opened. Praise is silent in Zion; still it surely would not be silent, the vow now made would be performed. There God was the hearer of prayer if praise was yet silent, and all flesh would come to Him. But confidence is very bright here. As to the actual state of the people and the remnant (indeed, the remnant alone enter into their case) iniquities prevailed against them. Still confidence is unshaken, God would purge them away. Blessed the man that Elohim chose (for all was grace) and made to dwell in His courts. They would be satisfied with the goodness of His house. The thing was sure and gave satisfying joy. In verse 5 we have the judgment in favour of the remnant by which the blessing would be introduced—terrible things in righteousness. God is the blesser of the earth in every place. The end of the psalm is the celebration of the earth’s blessings, when God comes in in judgment in favour of His people. At the door of Zion, as yet eating the fruit of their sins outside, the plea of the remnant is, that as yet praise was silent in Zion, but it was ready; God had only to bring in the judgment and deliverance, and it would wake up; and Elohim would do this, He who was the one blesser and orderer of the whole earth.

Psalm 66 celebrates this intervention in righteousness. Men are called to see God’s works, but (v. 6) it is the very same God who once delivered Israel before out of Egypt. Verse 8 calls upon the nations brought into connection with God, to bless the God of the remnant, that is, of Israel. They had been brought through every kind of sorrow and oppression, to prove and try them as silver, but now they would go before Him and praise Him. They had cried, been righteous, were heard, and found mercy; their prayer was not turned away, nor God’s mercy from them. Thus after the sorrows (seen clearly now as the way and hand of God with them), to the righteous there is arisen up light in the darkness. They can pay the vows uttered in their distress, and tell to others the blessed and sure deliverance of the Lord who cares for the righteous, and has indeed heard their cry. But it is a deliverance by terrible acts of righteousness on God’s part, the display of His intervention in judgment in the government of this world. We see, as indeed in so many other psalms, how it is in the Jewish remnant, though not a sparrow falls to the ground without Him, that God displays His government of this world; as it is in them, which is the subject of the next psalm, that the blessing of the world takes place. {Ps 67}

Psalm 67 closes this short series by looking for the blessing of the remnant, not only as the righteous and merciful answer to their cry, but as the way of spreading the knowledge of God’s ways to all nations. “God be merciful to as, that thy way may be known upon earth.” Thus all the peoples will praise God, and the earth be judged and governed righteously. The earth will yield her increase, God’s blessing will be upon it, and He will, as the own God of the godly remnant that have trusted in Him, bless them. The result is summed up in the last verse—“God shall bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear him.” For the repentant Jew is the way of blessing, life from the dead for the world. {Ps 68}

Psalm 68 follows on these psalms, being the celebration of the introduction of Israel into the position spoken of in them. Still it has a complete and individual character of its own. It begins with the formula employed when the camp broke up in the wilderness under the guidance of God, the pillar rising up and going before them. So it is now. God takes this place at the head of His people. It is thus introduced suddenly with great majesty. Let God arise—so His enemies are scattered before Him: as wax before the fire, the wicked perish at His presence. The righteous may be glad and rejoice before God, yea, exceedingly rejoice. He shall appear to the shame of the mighty wicked, and the righteous poor will be glorified. Thus the purport of this psalm is most clear. But the character of Him who thus interferes is further most beautifully unfolded. He is a father of the fatherless, a judge of widows. He makes the solitary to dwell in families, the rebellious in a dry land. Judgment is the true and gracious deliverance of the blessed God. And now His people can celebrate this goodness.

History is then recapitulated (v. 7). Such was He when He brought forth Israel from Egypt. At Sinai the earth shook at His presence. But He refreshed the heritage of His weary people, when He had prepared of His goodness for the poor. But now present facts told that tale still more to their hearts. Adonai’s word went forth. The glad tidings were chanted by Israel’s daughters in a great company (v. 11). Kings fled apace. What a sudden and complete deliverance it was! The quietest home-stayer divided the spoil, for it was the Lord’s doing. Then Israel came out in all her beauty, though they had been lying in poverty and wretchedness.57 In all the pretensions and striving of the nations, this is God’s will. God challenges these pretensions of human power; “Why leap ye, ye high hills?” —the seats of human power. Zion was God’s hill, He would make it His perpetual abode. For the sake of His remnant He scattered the kings. In the midst of them He would dwell. But whence all this deliverance? The Lord had ascended on high, received gifts as man and for men; yea, even for rebellious Israel, who was now in question, that Jehovah might dwell among them.

This brings out praises to the God of their salvation; for their God was the God of salvation. Oh! how could Christ witness that? But they were still mortal men down here. The deliverance was earthly and temporal, though of saints. But He would be their guide always, even unto death. But He would destroy the wicked. What was really the occasion of all this burst of joy (of which the heart was too full to tell quietly the occasion) is now however drawn out; yet the exultation still casts its light and joy over it. Israel was set up again in power; her enemies destroyed; the beauty of her temple-order restored. The tribes would come up, the kings bring presents. God had commanded strength, and they look to His strengthening what is wrought. The subjection of every enemy or mighty one follows. Princes would come out of Egypt, and Ethiopia stretch out her hands to God. The kingdoms of the earth are all called upon then to sing praises to Adonai. Strength is to be ascribed to God; but His excellency, that in which He is exalted, is over Israel, and, in the clouds of His dwelling-place is power, His strength watches over His people. It is the full restoration of Israel’s blessing and glory, and indeed much more than restoration; and this consequent upon the exaltation of the Lord to receive gifts as man.

But, while it is the intervention of God in the power of judgment, for the blessing of the remnant and putting down human power and every haughtiness of man’s will—“God’s arising” before His earthly people and His enemies fleeing— there are some points in it, which are brought out by this, which it is well to notice. First, the use of Adonai. His name Jah is introduced (v. 4 and 18), but it is always Adonai as spoken of. It is not the covenant name of relationship, though Jah recall it, but power in exercise, Lordship—divine Lordship— but still Lordship. It is what Thomas owned when he saw the Lord, it would seem; not, tell my brethren “I ascend unto my Father and your Father” etc. It is God; but as the Lord manifested here in power as Psalm 2:4; only there He is not redescended. Hence here we have His ascension as a past fact. It is not that God gives, but He who is Adonai has gone up and received gifts as, and in respect of, man. In His Adam (last Adam) character He has received them, having led the enemy captive (Acts 2:33-36); here clearly the ascended man, though much more, and as head having received the gifts “in Man”—the human head of glory—He shed forth the gifts (Acts 2, Eph. 4). But though as, and for, and in, man, yet there was also a special object added, yea, even for the rebellious, that Jah Elohim might dwell among them. Here the remnant, the Israel of our psalm, comes in. Hence the apostle does not quote it, but stops half-way at His receiving them for man.

In the following psalms we find the humiliation of this blessed One. What a contrast! Yet how far indeed from being less glorious or of feebler interest in the eyes of us who have learned and know who He is. {Ps 69}

Psalm 69. The state of soul of which this most important psalm is the expression demands the utmost attention and patient inquiry. We have all along seen the remnant of Israel before us, or Christ associated with that remnant. It is the case here. He who speaks is doubtless, first of all, David; but evidently a greater than he. The state described is this:— He is in the deepest distress, sinking in deep mire, has to weigh before God the foolishness and sins which have been the occasion of it. He is in the midst of numerous and mighty enemies, who are such without a cause. Whatever sins may be dealt with, personally He has been faithful. The zeal even of God’s house has eaten Him up, and He is suffering reproach for the God of Israel’s sake. Hence He prays that this may not be a stumbling-block to others, seeing that One so faithful to God should find such distress and trouble. Yet He is not forsaken of God. On the contrary His prayer is to Jehovah in an acceptable time. He looks to be heard in the multitude of God’s mercies and the truth of His salvation. His complaint is of His enemies; yet He sees Himself smitten of God, and among those whom He has wounded. His desire is for vengeance against men; it is not the testimony of grace.

If we look at the godly man in the remnant of Israel, all this answers perfectly. He acknowledges his sins—all the sins of his nation. Yet he suffers reproach and causeless enmity for the name of the God of Israel: and the more faithful he is, the more he suffers it. Faith yet makes him know that he prays in an acceptable time (we have seen this to be the character of the last psalms) to the God of Israel. Yet he is in the deepest distress. His eyes fail while waiting for God. His care for the good of Israel, his submission to injury, only makes him their scorn. He looks for the destruction of his adversaries and persecutors, for whom no mercy is of avail (they will it not); assured that Jehovah hears the poor and despises not His prisoners. All creation is to praise Him, for God will save Zion and build the cities of Judah, that they may dwell therein and have it in possession. The seed also of His servants shall inherit it; and they that love His name shall dwell therein. All this is exactly and precisely the position and feeling of the godly remnant—the maschilim.

But in verse 21, and indeed, though of more general application, in verse 9, we have what has been literally fulfilled in Christ. The use of verse 22 in the epistle to the Romans leads us to the same conclusion; and many other verses, though applicable to others, have their fullest application to Christ. Yet He is not speaking as forsaken of God at all. Yet, though His life is referred to, His sufferings on the cross, as we have seen, are reached in the description given of them; yet there is no trace of grace and mercy flowing from them. They are man’s part in them, not God’s forsaking; and judgment on man sought, not righteous grace announced. Yet withal trespasses are confessed before God, and the persecutions are of One whom God has smitten. Hence, I cannot but see in this psalm, after His righteous life, in consequence of which He suffered reproach (and which He rehearses as regards the great principles which had governed it), Christ entering in heart and spirit into the sorrow and distress of Israel, into which, as to God’s government, they had brought themselves; yet not the forsaking or the rejecting—that was Christ’s alone as bearing and expiating sin. Still, they are smitten of God and wounded by Him; and into this Christ could enter, because He (in the highest and fullest sense, though it be not the general subject of this psalm in general) was smitten of God. The subject is the persecution by the Jews, but the persecuted One was smitten of God, and felt how terrible was the wickedness that taunted and reproached Him who had taken that bitter cup, which we too had filled by our sins. Christ was smitten of God upon the cross, and felt the reproach and dishonour then cast upon Him.

As regards the trespasses recalled to mind in verse 5,58 I apprehend they are in connection with the government of God as to Israel; and that, though the fact of smiting is referred to, its expiatory power is not at all treated of in this psalm. Only judgment is sought for; that is not the fruit of expiation (compare Psalm 22). But it gives to us, for that very reason, a fuller apprehension of all the personal sufferings of Christ at that time; not that which stands wholly and entirely alone— His atoning and expiatory work. Were this only revealed, it is so immensely great, it would have eclipsed His personal sufferings as a man, as such, gone through at that time; and this it is, blessed be God, which we have in this psalm—what accompanied the great act of the smiting of God. {Ps 70}

Psalm 70 embodies the desire of the Spirit of Christ in connection with His sufferings from man, (but expresses itself, as in the remnant in that day); that His enemies may be confounded—those that say, Aha, aha, as they did when He was on the cross; that those that seek Jehovah may rejoice, and be glad and rejoice, and those who look for His deliverance say, Let God be magnified—that is, enjoy that deliverance. For this, He, as on earth, is content to be poor and needy, and nothing else, to the end. Still He trusts in Jehovah; He is His help and deliverer. He is assured He will come. He asks He may not tarry. Any saint of the remnant could say it doubtless; but it is a summing up of the principle on which the Spirit of Christ speaks in them, and of His personal association with their sorrows, and thus in principle furnishes a key. It will be remarked that from Psalm 69:13 the covenant name of Jehovah is introduced. {Ps 71}

Psalm 71, founded, I suppose, as much of this book, upon the flight of David on the rebellion of Absalom, presents, I apprehend, the sum of all God’s ways with Israel from the commencement of their history, and the display of His faithful care, with the appeal not now to leave them at the last. Christ, I doubt not, in spirit enters into it (see v. 11) as in every case, but it cannot personally apply to Him. The close of His life witnessed exactly similar trials, only faultless and deeper ones; but its application is to the old age of Israel, who will be brought up as from the depths of the earth through the faithful grace of the Holy One of Israel. {Ps 72}

Psalm 72 introduces us, not to David in suffering and conflict, but to the full reign of peace and royal blessing. It is the Son of David we have here, the source and securer of millennial blessings. I know not that this psalm requires much explanation by reason of its clearness. It is the king to whom God gives His judgments, and who is at the same time the king’s Son, the Son of David, in His reign of righteousness and peace, as Solomon or Melchisedec. His kingdom has the full extent of promise, but all kings fall down before Him. Blessings of every kind accompany this reign of righteousness. The expression “prayer shall be made continually for him “shews simply, that the blessings enjoyed through Him raise the desire and request for His glory and continuance in power. While literally spoken of Solomon, I think it would point out Christ reigning as a true man upon earth. Verse 17 shews, I think, it is not uncertainty of duration, but the effects of His rule on the hearts of all that are under it. There will be a prince of the house of David in Jerusalem, I suppose: still this, I think, looks beyond him.

This closes the Book. We have seen in it the godly ones cast out; their distress and confidence in this position; this ending in the certainty and confidence of restoration; and then Messiah’s deliverance and exaltation and previous humiliation —the glorious and yet humbled person being thus brought out— and then the human royal rule established in Israel. This ends the dealings with the remnant in the land, looked at as apart from the rest.