Psalms (Book 5)

In the fifth Book the people are looked at as brought back, and a general survey of God’s ways taken, with a kind of divine commentary on it all, ending, as all His ways surely will, in praise. {Ps 107}

Psalm 107 is a kind of heading or introduction to all this. It celebrates the enduring of God’s mercy for ever—that blessed formula of faith—in the unchanging goodness of Jehovah in all ages from the display of grace in David’s time. It is restored Israel’s part especially to chant it. The psalm celebrates the two parts of that deliverance in which the mercy has been shewn. They are redeemed from the hand of the enemy; they are gathered back from east, west, north, and south. This is the double character of the restoration of Israel—deliverance in the land, and the gathering from amongst the heathen on every side. But the proper theme of the psalm is the goodness of Jehovah. The various circumstances of deliverance of every kind (and that as an answer to the cry of distress of man who has brought himself low by his folly) are gone through, with the desire that men would praise Jehovah for His goodness, His wonderful works for the children of men. Israel is he in whom it may be fully learnt. It goes on to their chastisement in the land after their return, but adds the complete ruin of the pride of men as the result. He pours contempt on princes, and sets the poor on high from affliction, giving him families like a flock. The great result of God’s government is then shewn: the righteous rejoice; all iniquity has its mouth stopped. Whoso is wise and will consider these ways of God will understand the lovingkindness of Jehovah. It is to be remarked how entirely the goodness of God, here rehearsed, is shewn in temporal things. It does not for that cease to be His goodness and to have its sweetness, but it gives very clearly the character of the ground on which these teachings go. {Ps 108}

Psalm 108 is a psalm of a peculiar character, being composed of the ends of two others, the earlier and the latter parts of which, the cry of deep distress, and the answer to the cry in faith and hope, have been here put together. The former part of this, the end of Psalm 57, expresses the fixed assurance of the godly heart, who can now give praise and will praise among the peoples (ammin), united now in relation with Israel and in the various races of people. But all the results of God’s favour are not yet produced, and the same faith, taking up Psalm 60, leaving out the cry of distress, celebrates the going out of Him whose mercy is above the heavens, to bring into subjection all those who are yet in possession of different parts of the territory of Israel.

It may be remarked here that the general character of this, as indeed of the previous book, as far as regards the position of Israel, is that of the people being restored by God to the land and delivered, but not free yet from attack, nor in possession of all the promised land; so that there is thanksgiving and praise, for God has interfered, and the state of Israel is changed; but there remains the need of help and securing against enemies yet undestroyed, and the full blessing of God in peace. A very few psalms at the end are of unmingled praise, and only praise called for. This state of deliverance, and yet full security waited for, is expressed at the end of Psalm 107; as to final deliverance, the fact only is stated.

The connection of the two parts of this psalm is not without interest. The first part praises Jehovah for what He is as known to the heart in faith; but God in contrast with man. His mercy is great above the heavens and His truth reaches to the clouds, mercy being as ever first as the root of all. The second part begins with looking for Jehovah to rise up as God above the heavens and His glory above all the earth. He is to take His place and vindicate His name as God, that His beloved may be delivered. Verse 7 brings out the answer of God, taking up in detail all Israel’s rights as His. Thus Jehovah has war with the nations possessing their land, but it is in Israel, and through God they will do valiantly. Hence here it is God, not Jehovah, because it is not the covenant relation, but what He, who is so, is in contrast with man whose help is vain. {Ps 109}

Psalm 109. It is certain that this psalm applies to Judas; but we shall see, in reading it, that we cannot apply all of it exclusively to him. And this is a help to us, to understand the way in which the psalms are written. There is the general condition of the saints in the latter day, and that even in a way which cannot apply to Christ personally at all, as Psalm 118:10, 11—passages of general application to the righteous, and others which may be, and some with prophetical purpose and exactitude, applied to Christ, and the circumstances in which He was. All this has to be before the mind, and divine teaching sought. I have said that the application of the psalm was not exclusively to Judas. The greater part of it is in the plural number. Up to verse 5 from the outset, the enmity of the wicked, of the band of Jews hostile to Christ, and hostile to the godly remnant, is spoken of. Judas was a special instance of this wicked hatred against Christ. But I have no doubt of the general application of even this part, and that the judgments called for are general, and no prophetic revelation that Judas had wife and children or anything of the sort. Verse 20 makes indeed the generalisation of the application of these deprecations certain. So we can have no doubt that the blessed Lord stood in this sorrow, but I have none the less, that it is merely as taking in grace the place of the remnant, and that the psalm applies to the remnant, who go through similar sorrows. Verses 30, 31 shew it. Still it is most certain Christ entered fully into it—and this is of the deepest interest to us—nay, that His being in it gave it its true character.

Psalm no, though of the very highest interest, is in application so simple that it needs but brief comment. The despised and poor man, hated for his love, is David’s Lord, and called to sit at the right hand of Jehovah. It is of deep interest to see how in Isaiah 6 Adonai is Jehovah of hosts in the fullest sense, and in this psalm, being David’s Son, sits at the right hand of Jehovah, and strikes through kings in the day of His wrath. Compare Psalm 2. All the truth, in regard to the assembly of association with Him on high is passed over, and the psalm passes from the session of Christ at God’s right hand to the sending the rod of His strength out of Zion. This shews how entirely all is Jewish in these psalms. Note, further, it is the answer to His rejection on earth. It is not His coming from heaven to destroy Antichrist. What is in view is His having already taken possession of Zion, and the rod of His strength goes out thence. This answers to the whole position of this book, where we have seen the Jews restored, but the dominion of Israel or of Christ in Zion not yet made good. But the people are now willing (Amminadib) in the day of His power (see Song of Songs 6:12). Alas! how different in the day of His humiliation! That was depicted in Psalm 109. But this is the morning of a new day, in which we have not fathers, but the children of grace. Then we have the certain. oath of Jehovah for Christ sitting thus a priest on His throne on earth. This is promise and prophecy. The day too of His wrath is looked forward to. Adonai, who is at Jehovah’s right hand, has a coming day of wrath—one already noticed, when His enemies are made His footstool. While sitting at the right hand of Jehovah, it is not so. It is then the time of mercy, the accepted time. Christ has been heard and exalted, and His work amongst men is the result of His atonement in grace. Now the time of wrath is come, in which the judgment written will be executed. I suppose in verse 6 it is “the head over a great country” —the head of power in the earth, not Antichrist, nor even the beast. These are destroyed on His coming from heaven. Self-exalting man is brought low. Christ, who in humble dependence on His Father took the refreshment given Him according to God’s will on the way, shall have His head high exalted in the earth. These psalms give the groundwork of the whole scene. What now follows is a review of the circumstances, and indeed from of old, and such as are to come, with reflections (so to speak) on them, and praise as to the result. {Ps 111-113}

Psalms 111-113 go together as a hallelujah in reference to Jehovah’s ways with Israel in their deliverance. First, Psalm in, the works of Jehovah, glorious in themselves, He has made to be remembered by His mighty intervention in righteousness; yet shewing Him full of compassion, mindful of His covenant also. He has shewn His people the power of His works, to give them the heritage of the heathen: moreover, His works last. The occasion of the praise, a knowledge of His name, is that He has sent redemption to His people. Jehovah being such, the fear of Him is the beginning of wisdom. This gives good understanding in our walk. Faith knows this. The Lord’s appearing in judgment will indeed prove it to the world. Psalm 112 οn the other hand, gives the character of those who fear Jehovah, and the blessing that comes upon such when the government of God is made good. This shews how impossible it is to apply these psalms to the position of the saints now, though the exercise of faith and piety may be often in the spring of it the same. Still then, it is the deliverance of Israel which brings out Jehovah’s name (v. 9, 10). {Ps 113}

Psalm 113 is more general and full universal praise, but on the same occasion. It is from this time forth for evermore. It is now wide spread over all the earth; but He is Israel’s God who dwells on high, yet looks down so low, but to exalt those He loves, to set them with the princes of His people, and fill the hopeless with joy in their habitation. {Ps 114}

Psalm 114 is of the highest style of poetry, but is important to us as directly connecting the ancient deliverance of Israel out of Egypt with the present deliverance of the people, and seeing the same Jehovah in both calling the earth to tremble at the presence of Jehovah. It was right in those days. At Jacob’s deliverance then, the sea fled and Jordan was driven back. What was this? Was it affright before the presence of man? The earth was now to tremble before Him who appeared for the deliverance of His people then, and for their sakes turned the sea into dry land, and the flint stone into a springing well. {Ps 115}

Psalm 115 gives the true and full ground of this deliverance, as seen in the heart of faith. It is not that they, but that Jehovah may be praised, specially in His mercy, and then His faithfulness to promise. The godly one, that is, the Spirit, then refers to that cry which was the bitter grief spoken of in Joel, and referred to in Psalms 42, 43. Why should the heathen say, Where is now their God? So in the same spirit Moses— “the Egyptians shall hear of it, and what wilt thou do to thy great name?” What a blessed boldness of faith! This character of sorrow shews, how it was on the cross and in those last sorrows that Christ came into this character of sorrow. For the Jews practically said this to Him then, but never could have done so before. The believing Israelite’s answer is, Our God is in heaven.

He then contrasts Him with idols. And Israel, the house of Aaron, and all that fear Jehovah, are called to trust Him. This last would open the door to all Gentiles who sought Jacob’s face. It then recites, what we have seen to be the ground these psalms go on, that He had been mindful of, and would bless them; yea, increase them more and more, them and their children. They were the blessed of Jehovah, the maker of heaven and earth. Heaven was His, the earth had He given to men. This marks how distinctly the earthly blessing is the scene before us, for He has not given us the earth, but the cross in it; and heaven, and what is there, as our own things. We seek the things which are above, not the things which are on the earth. So, in even almost a stronger manner, the dead do not praise Jehovah; but we (says the Spirit in them) will praise from this, the time of their final deliverance, for evermore. We say “to depart and to be with Christ is far better.” {Ps 116}

Psalm 116 celebrates this deliverance when they were at the very point of death. Jehovah had heard them, and they would walk before the Lord in the land of the living. In this view it is a continual recital of the gracious mercy of Jehovah: they were brought low and He helped them. It drew out their love to Him. Such was Jehovah’s character. He preserves the simple. The soul so sorely tried could return to its rest. The death of His saints was precious in His sight; and now, before all His people, in the courts of Jehovah’s house, in the midst of Jerusalem, he would pay the vows made in his distress when he called on Jehovah. He would offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving. The quotation of the apostle shews how these psalms can be used as containing holy principles of life for every saint. In spite of suffering and trial, trust in Jehovah opened the mouth of the believer. The passage does not apply to Paul, nor did he say in his haste that all men were liars, though there be something like it in “all seek their own;” but the general and important principle the apostle can adopt. The word, translated “haste,” is not haste in the sense of moral defect, hastiness, but in distress—rather sudden distress or alarm from the pressure of circumstances, and hence hasting away. {Ps 117}

Psalm 117 is the calling the other nations and peoples to come and praise Jehovah, who will be now King over all the earth. They join and are brought happily into this relationship, Jehovah being made known to them by His ways with Israel. Merciful kindness is here, as ever, first; and truth enduring for ever, which no failure has made to fail. This, as the last, is a hallelujah. {Ps 118}

Psalm 118 is also, though not formally so, rendering praise and thanksgiving as promised, connected with, or rather founded on, the known formula—His mercy endureth for ever. The same that in Psalm 115 were called to trust in Jehovah are now called to praise Him. From verse 5 the Holy Spirit speaks in the person of delivered Israel, and speaks of this faithfulness of Jehovah, and now, He being on their side, man need not be feared; Jehovah is better than man, Jehovah better than princes. Verses 10-18 unfold the circumstances and dealings through which Israel has passed. All nations had compassed them; in Jehovah’s name he would destroy them. They are quenched as fire. Verse 13, the enemy had thrust sore at them that they might fall; Jehovah helped them. The result in rejoicing and joy is chanted in verses 14-17. Another aspect of their trial is given in verse 18. It was withal Jehovah’s chastening, and He had chastened them sore, but not given them over to death, which was the power of the enemy for them. Thus we have the full character of trial, as we have seen it even in Job: instruments, men, even all nations; next, the enemy by them, and acting on the spirit, thrusting sore at the soul; but behind it, and before it too, is God chastening, but not giving over. This is full of instruction for us in many circumstances we pass through, where all these elements are found in what we are passing through.

Now the gates of righteousness are open before Israel. The turning to this at once, as the result of trial, is beautiful: he will go in and praise Jehovah. It is withal the gate of Jehovah, and the righteous enter into it. Israel there will praise, for Jehovah has heard him and become his salvation; but further and deeper truth comes out here. There is no restoration of Israel without Messiah, and Israel now owns Him once despised. “The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner. This is Jehovah’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes.” We see, in the expression “our eyes,” who is the real speaker, and, though the voice had been one, who they are that now take part in the psalm of praise. This is the day Jehovah has made; it is His day, the blessing of His people in connection with Messiah, and His people rejoice in it. And now they cry, Hosanna to the Son of David, the Jehovah of Israel; and say, Blessed be he that comes in His name. This gives us the witness from the Lord’s own teaching, who it is that speaks in the psalms, and to what time it applies; for the house was left desolate, and they were not to see Him again till they said, Blessed be he that cometh. So that it is Israel, that is, the remnant, who speak, and in the day of their repentance, under grace, when they are to see Messiah again. They bless Him that comes out of the house of Jehovah. Jehovah is the God of strength, He has given Israel light; and now worship and sacrifice are offered to Him that has delivered and blessed. Now they say, Thou art my God, and praise and exalt Him.

The psalm closes with the well-known verse of Israel’s thankful praise: “Give thanks to Jehovah, for he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever,” with which it had commenced. Thus the spiritual apprehension of God’s dealings, the coming to worship Jehovah in righteousness, and the owning the despised and rejected Messiah, are all unfolded in connection with the deliverance and blessing of Israel, and the full manifestation of Jehovah’s nature and character. Various verses of this psalm are quoted at the close of the Saviour’s trials; no psalm indeed so often, as connecting Him with the sorrows of, and promises to, Israel. {Ps 119}

Psalm 119 is in general the law written in the heart. This gives it an important place in the series of psalms. It is found distinctly connected too with Israel’s sorrows in the last days and their previous departure from God. The different divisions of the psalm shew, I think, each a different phase of the exercises of heart connected with the law being written on it, though the general principle runs of course through it. I will very briefly notice the main bearing of each.

The first part presents to us naturally the great general principle. It is the third general “Blessed is the man”—the return of the soul in trial and distress to the great truth of Psalm 1, where the effect is seen under the immediate government of God. Psalm 32 gives the blessedness of forgiveness; this, of the walk with God on the return of the wanderer in spite of all difficulties and contempt. We have indeed another special blessing at the end of the first book, where Christ is so fully brought in. In the last psalm of that book he is pronounced blessed who understands His position, be it in Himself or in those who walk in His footsteps; for the first psalm supposed blessedness under the government of God, making good all His will towards the just, and the reverse seemed to be true. In fact, as we know, to man’s eye this wholly failed (bringing in a heavenly and divine righteousness and redemption). Hence true blessedness was shewn in discerning, in understanding, the position in which that true blessed One was as rejected by men—that true poor man—taking Himself practically the place He describes as blessed, as we have seen in the sermon on the mount, while the great truth of the law in the heart is laid down. Yet the circumstances also come out in this first part—“forsake me not utterly.”

Secondly the word associates with God. Not only is one blessed who keeps it, but it is cleansing: the desire of the heart is positively fixed on it (see the connection of Jehovah and His word, v. 10, 11).

In the third part we find very distinctly the leaning on divine mercy in trial, connected with the law in the heart. The godly Israelite looks to Jehovah’s bountiful dealing, but with a view to hearty obedience (v. 17). Verse 19 shews his state; verse 21, as we have seen in all this book, Jehovah’s intervention, already known in deliverance, though not in complete blessing; verses 22, 23, the contempt the poor remnant undergo. Jehovah’s law had been his delight and comfort under it.

In the fourth part the trial is more inward. His soul is cleaving to the dust, but he looks to divine relief according to the word. His desire looks to the effect of that living water from God. He has been open before God—has declared his own ways: so it ever is. He desires all way of evil to be removed by God from him. He has held fast by the word— looks that God should not put him to shame. But he is looking for enlargement of heart, that he may run freely in God’s ways. Such is the sure effect when under the discipline of God. A soul who has found delight in His will and holiness is yet looking to run in liberty. Though in the heart, the word here referred to is more of an outwardly expressed will, like Zacharias and Elizabeth, a beautiful moral expression of the remnant. With the Christian it will be more absolute and inward, more holiness than testimonies (though it may begin by them perhaps), whether in his first divine calling or under discipline. It is for him walking in the light as God is in the light—not the “ordinances and commandments of Jehovah.” Yet it is in principle essentially the same. To apply this psalm directly is to lower the divine standard of thought for the saint now. But the nature of the moral exercise may be most instructively used; just as subjection and confidence in trial is always right, though the forms of it in the Jew are wholly below the Christian’s (compare with this Philippians, where we have christian experience).

The fifth part looks for divine guidance and teaching in the ways and law of God; the sixth, for manifest mercies in that path, that he may have courage before adversaries and hold fast the law of God. In the seventh, having been quickened by the word, he reckons on it, for God had caused him to trust it as His; so that now he leans on all its assurances. In troubles, when there was no outward cheering of nature, it sustained his heart. This brings him to the eighth. Jehovah was thus his portion. He had sought Him, judged himself, turned his feet to Jehovah’s testimonies. He reckoned on Him, and would thank Him in the secret watches of the night, when his heart was left to itself. He was the companion of those that feared Jehovah. This brightens up his thoughts, and he sees His power in mercy around. This is a beautiful picture of the working of the heart.

The ninth brings out the circumstances of the psalm. In the comfort of the last part he can look with God’s eye and mind at these circumstances. These are much before our view (that is, feelings about them) in this part of the psalm. Jehovah has already dealt well with him according to His word, and he looks for divine teaching to understand the mind of God well. He had been under discipline: but before this he had gone astray, but now had got into the spirit and path of obedience. He sees the proud lying against him, and their heart fat as grease (no link in state or obedience with Jehovah); and sees how good it was to have been afflicted, that he might learn Jehovah’s statutes. Nothing marks more the setting right of the soul than this—the turning to Jehovah’s will—“Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” —and counting all good that leads to this, and gives God’s will as authority, and morally its place in the heart.

The tenth part has two main thoughts. Jehovah is his Creator—has formed him. He looks to Him to guide His own poor creature as a faithful Creator. Those that fear Jehovah will be glad when they see Him, because they hope in His word. Secondly, he knows that thus in very faithfulness He has caused him to be afflicted, and now looks for mercies to come unto him, and the proud to be ashamed, and that those that fear Jehovah may turn to him. All this is linked with soundness in Jehovah’s statutes.

In the eleventh the cry becomes more urgent. He is under the pressure of trial, his soul fainting for deliverance—looking for Jehovah to execute judgment, for he is walking in Jehovah’s precepts. And the proud persecute him wrongfully—they heed not Jehovah nor His law.

But, twelfth, creation is a witness to the abiding faithfulness of God; His word is settled in heaven, where nothing can reach or shake it. But for Jehovah’s law, which sustained his heart, he had perished in the pressure of affliction. In truth, how precious to have the word in such a world! We have more than commandments. But we can say, I have seen an end of all perfection. Another and more confident thought grows up out of all this exercise—“I am thine.”

In the thirteenth he expresses his own internal delight in Jehovah’s law, and its effect in spiritual intelligence.

In the fourteenth it guides his path. Afflicted and oppressed, he looks for comfort to Him whose judgments he has taken as his path in spite of enemies and their snares.

The fifteenth gives the horror of vain thoughts, and looking to God as his hiding-place, with his rejection of evildoers. He looks to Jehovah to uphold him, that he may not be ashamed in his hope; and looks with solemn trembling on the sure judgment of the wicked.

In the sixteenth he presses more earnestly the interference of Jehovah in deliverance. The way in which the wicked have made void Jehovah’s law only makes him cling the closer to it. It was time for Jehovah to work.

The following parts all bring out the effects of his strong attachment to Jehovah’s law and testimonies, its value in every aspect for his heart; the trial he was in still in this path of righteousness; and how he would walk in Jehovah’s ways when set free; his grief at transgressors. He looks for teaching, quickening, keeping; and recalls the everlasting character of God’s testimonies; so that he held fast, though oppressed by the wicked.

The last part is more general as a closing one, though in the same spirit. It sums up, so to speak, the whole. It desires that the cry of the oppressed delighter in the law may come up before Jehovah; asks for understanding according to His word —for deliverance according to it; and assures praise when taught His statutes. His tongue will speak of His word. He has the sense of their righteousness—looks for the hand of Jehovah to help, because he has chosen His precepts. Jehovah’s salvation has been longed for (man not trusted in). Jehovah’s law has been his delight, not his own will, nor the prosperous man’s ways. He looks for life, that he may praise, and that Jehovah’s judgment may help him; for the power of death and evil was before him. He owns finally his having gone astray, and looks for Jehovah as the Shepherd of Israel to seek him, for he has not forgotten His commandments. Such is the moral state of Israel in the last days when (in their land, I apprehend) the law is written in their heart, but full deliverance and final blessing are not come. The psalm is, in fact, the moral development of the hearts of those that fear God in the circumstances prophetically brought out in Psalm 118. {Ps 120-134}

We now come, Psalms 120-134, to the songs of degrees, which depict, I doubt not, the outward circumstances of the same period, when Israel is in the land, but the power of Gog not yet destroyed. The first of this series begins with the statement of the cry sent up by the godly in his distress to Jehovah who heard. The special charge here is deceit and falsehood. Judgment should come on it. But it is against the godly himself, not the violence and oppression done to Jerusalem, or the apostate oppression of the people. His woe is to dwell in Mesech, and among the tents of Kedar. Wrong is in their hearts; and, when the godly spoke of peace, they prepared for battle. It does not seem to me to be the oppression of Antichrist, or the beast at Jerusalem, but to apply to those who in the land found themselves where the last hostile power which had pretended to favour them,67 and had led many to apostatise for quietness and prosperity, now shewed himself as only a deceitful oppressor. {Ps 121}

In Psalm 121 Jehovah is assuredly declared to be his protection. He who never slumbers nor sleeps—He will not suffer his foot to be moved. The general intention is plain. I am not quite sure what is the force of verse 1, unless to identify Jehovah, the Creator of heaven and earth, with the hill of Zion,68 and the city of the great King. However this may be, Jehovah (as the great security) is the subject of the psalm. This is very distinct, and His name reiterated for the purpose. He is referred to in the double character, Creator of heaven and earth, and the Keeper of Israel, especially of the godly: Jehovah would preserve him in all circumstances and for ever.

Psalm 122 celebrates Jerusalem. The saint is glad to go there. The tribes go there; the thrones of judgment, of the house of David, are there. His brethren and companions, and the house of Jehovah, the God of Israel, their God, made his heart cling to it. It is a restoring of the associations with Jerusalem, recalling the old and establishing the new ones.

The series then returns (Psalm 123) to their sorrows and resource. Blessing is not fully come; but Jehovah is looked to in the heavens, but as the God of Israel; the remnant say “our God “now. But they are filled yet with the contempt of those that are at ease and of the proud.

The power of the enemy had been just now (Psalm 124) fully displayed against them—the godly in the land who trusted in Jehovah. But they had escaped, but only by Jehovah being on their side, or they had been utterly swallowed up, by the last power of the enemy, I apprehend, when the apostate beast and Antichrist were gone from the scene. {Ps 125}

Psalm 125. The position of those who trust in Jehovah is celebrated, in virtue of this intervention of Jehovah, who would now protect them for ever, and they abide for ever. Peace would be on Israel. Those that turned to their crooked ways— Jehovah would lead them forth with the open evildoers in judgment. The rod of wickedness would not rest upon the lot of the righteous. There would be an exclusion of the rod of wickedness (what represented the wicked as a tribe), separation from its mischief, that the righteous might not go astray. All this, I apprehend, refers to the last inroad of the final power of Gog, or the last condition of the Assyrian, perhaps to Daniel 8 (only that that gives its whole character, not merely its final one); also to the final king of the north, who comes in after the wilful king in Daniel 11. {Ps 126}

Psalm 126. The heart of the godly now finds its centre in Zion, when deliverance has been learnt; for so it will be (compare Isaiah 29:4, 7). How low she was brought, according to Psalm 124! (Isaiah 29:4. Compare Isaiah 17:12-14, and other passages). It was a dream—so full, so unlooked-for, the joy. The very heathen now owned Jehovah’s hand. But the godly look for the full blessing, and the captivity to be turned again in the fulness of possessed blessing. Still God had manifested Himself; and to the faithful, who had taken up His testimony in sorrow, and when it was shame and reproach, it was now a harvest of joy. So it ever is; for full joy only comes through sorrow: for the testimony of God is in a world of evil.

These full blessings thus sought, the building the house, the keeping the city, the desired abundance of children, are all (Psalm 127) Jehovah’s doing and gift, or man labours and watches in vain. The blessing is distinctly Jewish.

A numerous progeny are distinctly God’s gift: happy the man that has his quiver full of them (Psalm 128). The blessings spoken of are declared to be the portion of whoever fears Jehovah. It is present temporal blessing—blessings out of Zion; and, the desire of the godly’s heart, Jerusalem in prosperity all their days. Although the direct object be the remnant, the godly Gentile, so fearing Jehovah, owning Israel’s God, would, as a principle, enjoy the blessing, and rejoice with His people. {Ps 129}

Psalm 129 recurs now with joy to the sorrows and trials through which the children of Zion have gone. But Jehovah is righteous, and has cut asunder the cords of the wicked. The haters of Zion (for Zion is here always the central thought) are withered, without resource, and without being desired. {Ps 130}

Psalm 130 takes up another subject, of the place of which we have found clear traces before—the sins of Israel as between the people and God. It is not, however, now merely legal distress. Confidence in Jehovah characterises it, though accompanied by depth of distress and humiliation. This is the effect of the connection of the sense of sin and of mercy in the soul. Mere legal distress is more selfish in its terror, though admirable for destroying confidence in self and throwing on mercy; conviction with the sense of mercy is more the sense of wronging the God of goodness. It is a deeper work after all. Here there is forgiveness with Jehovah that He might be feared, and the soul waits on Jehovah, though it has cried out of the depths. There is desire, grace being looked to, as well as waiting for Jehovah, verse 6. The groundwork is stated in verse 7, while verse 8 shews confidence in the full results. Verse 4 is the upright acknowledgment of where the need came from, grace meeting that need; verse 7, that which can be reckoned on in Jehovah; verse 8, the full counting on it for Israel, that is, redemption, not from troubles, but from iniquities. {Ps 131}

Psalm 131 briefly states the humble absence of all self-confidence, that so he has walked. Israel is now to trust in Jehovah and for ever.

Psalm 132 is, in some respects, a very interesting psalm. It is the restoration of the ark of the covenant to its resting-place, and the promises of Jehovah, in answer to the supplication of His servant. It is founded on David’s bringing the ark up to Zion. This, as we have seen in the historical books, has a very important place. It was grace acting by power when Israel had so completely failed that the bond of the people with God, so far as it was founded on the people’s responsibility, was wholly broken, and the ark gone into captivity, and Ichabod written on all.69 But now, in a fuller and more lasting sense, a habitation was found for the mighty God of Jacob, where the godly would worship low before His footstool. The fruit of David’s body, the Messiah of Jehovah, was to sit on His throne, and that for evermore. Jehovah was entering into His rest— He and the ark of His strength. Before (Num. 10:35, 36), if He arose it was to scatter His enemies, and then He returned to the many thousands of Israel. But now, and this is what characterises the psalm, the enemies were scattered, and Jehovah arose to take His rest in Israel. The sovereign election of God is seen, verse 13; and, then, it will be remarked, that the promise, in answer to the supplication, goes each time beyond the request (compare verses 14, 15, 8; 16, 9; 17, 18, 10). This is of the highest interest as shewing the grace of the Lord, and how His love surpasses all the hopes of His people, His interest in them. {Ps 133}

Psalm 133. The people are now dwelling together in unity. It is as the anointing of Aaron, which, poured on the head, gave the odours of divine favour on all, as the abundant dew of the lofty hills, but which brought, however high its source, its refreshing power where God had ordained blessing and life for evermore.70 I see no need to seek for any mountain of a like name near Hermon, but the contrary.

Psalm 134 closes the series by calling on the servants of Jehovah to bless Him. Night and day should furnish praise to Him, and in the holy place holy hands be lifted up to bless. Jehovah was there, His servants there to praise Him. Jehovah, who made heaven and earth, blessed now (not simply from heaven, but) out of Zion. It is the place of blessing Jehovah, and Jehovah blessing. I should be disposed to count the last verse rather the voice of Christ as the Son of David, something in the character of Melchisedec, who said, Blessed be the most high God, and blessed be Abraham of the most high God, only specially in connection with Jehovah (as Zech. 6:13) blessing the godly remnant out of Zion. The last verse is a kind of answer to the call of the preceding ones; the Spirit of Christ in the remnant calls on Jehovah’s servants to bless Him, and they from Him bless the godly one. {Ps 135, 136}

Psalms 135 and 136 celebrate Jehovah, who has delivered Israel and now dwells in Jerusalem, and give thanks to Him whose mercy has endured for ever—the Creator of all things in goodness who first delivered them, and remembered them to redeem them when brought low. {Ps 135}

Psalm 135 is a very characteristic Psalm, giving a remarkable key to the interpretation of the book, and linking it with the early statements of Jehovah as to His relationship to Israel, so as to bind together their history in one whole. The subject is Hallelujah—praise the name of Jehovah. He is good: it is pleasant to do it; for He has chosen Jacob and Israel for His peculiar treasure. He is then (v. 6) celebrated as the Almighty God, doing what He pleased, daily disposing of creation; then as He who executed judgment on the oppressors of Israel, and freed them, and drove out the heathen and gave them their land. Now comes His name in connection with Israel and in contrast with idols; and the two passages, in one of which He first took up Israel for ever under the name of Jehovah, and, in the other, prophetically announced their deliverance when they should have wholly and utterly failed, are cited from Exodus 3:15, Deuteronomy 32:36. The first takes the name of the Lord God of their fathers, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, when He sends Moses to deliver them, and declares this is His name for ever, His memorial to all generations, and then promises deliverance and bringing into the land; then He takes the name of Jehovah. The second is in the prophetic song of Moses, when he has drawn out to them their picture as apostate, their spot not the spot of God’s children, when they forsook God who made them, and provoked Him to jealousy with strange gods, and Jehovah hid His face from them, and, but for the fear of man’s pride, had made the remembrance of them to cease from among men. Then, when they should be helpless and hopeless in themselves, Jehovah would judge His people, and repent Himself concerning His servants, execute judgments on the heathen, and then make them rejoice with His people. So that these two verses give the first deliverance and purpose of God, and the judgment and ways of God in the last days, to which the psalms have brought us. Thus they give a clear key to the application of the psalms themselves. Then we have (v. 15-18) the present judgment of the idols spoken of in Deuteronomy 32, and to which they had fallen away. The psalm closes with the summons to those already generally specified—the divers parts of Israel and all that fear Jehovah—to bless Jehovah; the house of Israel, of Aaron, of Levi, and all that fear Jehovah; and this now out of Zion, even Jehovah, of whom now they could say that He dwelt in Jerusalem. {Ps 136}

Psalm 136 may be considered as the answer to this summons. It is characterised by the formulary, as often noticed, the expression of Jehovah’s unchanging goodness to Israel in spite of all: “His mercy endureth for ever.” It celebrates Him as Creator, God of gods, the Deliverer of Israel, who had led them through the wilderness, as Him who by power slaying mighty kings had given them the inheritance of the land; and who, finally, remembering them in their low estate, had redeemed them from it, and now supplied every living thing with food, the God of heaven. This, in a certain sense, closes the historical psalms.

We have then a kind of supplementary series :—first, of their characteristic sorrows and Jehovah’s ways in the latter days, and then of millennial praises. These sorrows are from Psalm 137 to Psalm 144—the latter, however, being the expectation of deliverance and blessing. Psalm 139 also has a peculiar character, as will be at once seen. {Ps 137}

Psalm 137 refers, and alone does—to give the full history of Israel’s sorrows—to Babylon, which has only a mystic fulfilment in the latter days, but has its importance, because at that time was the closing of the period of the divine presence in Jerusalem, and the setting up of the power of the Gentiles. But faith could not content itself in a strange land nor sing the Lord’s songs there; for they were not a heavenly people— hence they turn to Jerusalem, which faith never forgets. Babylon is to be destroyed and her judgment is desired; Edom’s enmity not forgotten. The object of the psalm is to bring out their attachment to Zion in their captivity; there was no separation of heart from it in the strange land. {Ps 138}

Psalm 138 gives the ground of faith—God’s word; and now the godly turns to own it in worship; and when that word reaches the kings of the earth, they shall turn and praise Jehovah and sing in His ways. Nor is His truth all. Though so high, He has respect to the lowly; He revives, protects, and perfects all that concerns the believing righteous. “His mercy endureth for ever.” {Ps 139}

Psalm 139 shews the complete exercise of heart that belongs to God’s ways. Though the faithfulness of God perfects all His purposed blessing, not a thought escapes God. There is, morally speaking, no staying in His presence; but there is no getting out of His presence, nor where He sees not, though conscience might be glad to flee. But this brings in another aspect. He knows all, because also He has formed all. This connects us with the taking perfect notice of us in goodness. He cares for us, watches over every member that is formed, as He knows our every thought; if He does, He has His own too, and these are precious to us. This is just the change and working of faith. It begins necessarily by conscience under God’s eye; for it brings us into His presence, and then gets at God’s thoughts, who has formed us for Himself, and then unfolded boundless spheres of His own blessing and ways. God watches over him in the silence of sleep: waking, therefore, he finds himself with God.

But, further, this connection with God is a perfect breaking with the wicked: God will slay them. And he calls on them to depart from him. Therefore he looks at the wicked with horror, because of what they are to God—for himself, that he may be searched throughout, that no wickedness may remain in him. This psalm goes far in the relationship of man’s spirit with God, though it looks to the external judgment of the wicked and uses language which becomes verified in the assembly figuratively, and which is so also in the resurrection. The great direct point in it is the full searching out of man’s heart, as it will be then, as it must be ever. But this searching, when we are under our own responsibility, is, Whither shall I flee from Him? But when we are God’s workmanship (that is, when grace and power have come in), God’s thoughts become precious to us, and we can ask to be searched, known, and tried—the more the better, that, emptied of self, we may be able to enjoy God. Then also we look for leading. The will is broken, as the thoughts are judged, and our desire is to be led of God. We see at the same time the character of the psalm connects it with the latter day. “Surely thou wilt slay the wicked.” It looks for judgment, and has hatred and horror of the haters of God.

The five following psalms go over ground which we have trodden over in detail: only they apply to a restored Israel, still in conflict, and not fully blessed. {Ps 140}

Psalm 140 looks for deliverance from the evil and violent man. Israel is in connection with Jehovah, but compassed about by the proud. {Ps 141}

Psalm 141. Having learnt the government of Jehovah, the godly looks for his words and thoughts to be kept of Jehovah, that Jehovah may bless him. Smiting he will accept as discipline. He looks for acceptance for his prayers. And even in the judgment coming upon the proud (Israel, I apprehend), he looks to it as breaking them down so as to hear His word. It is such a psalm as David might have penned when pursued by Saul. He looks for judgment on the wicked, but that calamities may arrest some. {Ps 142}

Psalm 142 looks to Jehovah alone as a refuge. {Ps 143}

Psalm 143 specially for mercy and goodness, that in the midst of the persecution of the enemy, and the pressure on the godly, Jehovah would not enter into judgment with him, but shew His lovingkindness. As the servant of Jehovah, he begs to be taught and guided. Thus these psalms are all of one in deep distress; but they look, in relationship with Jehovah (not cast out, and knowing Him only as God), for the cutting off of the enemies. {Ps 144}

Psalm 144 blesses Jehovah as the source of strength. Its plea for the destruction of the enemies is, What is man? Why should Jehovah make account71 of such a worm, and delay bringing in blessing by thus lingering in judgment? Deliverance is thus looked for, for the full true final blessing of Israel. Happy the people in such a case: happy the people who have Jehovah for their God! Directly, the psalm applies to David himself, who is named in it, and owns God, as subduing his (David’s) people under him, as the source of royal power. I do not see that it brings in any personally in the latter day. Did it so, it would be “the prince”; for there will be a human house of David on the earth. But it is the bringing in of the people into that state of subjection under Christ, when they will be willing in the day of His power, when in the day of Jezreel they will appoint themselves one head, when the day will be great, when Jehovah will utterly scatter the power of the enemies of Israel, give them a new song, and bless them. Messiah will surely be their head; but it is prophetically spoken of by David in person. The true Beloved will be their sure head. {Ps 145}

Psalm 145 goes on in thought into the millennium, after the distress is over, and the full deliverance can be celebrated. It is Christ in spirit—perhaps even in person—as in the midst of Israel, leading the praises of Jehovah, and awakening them amongst men. Hence, though only expressing purpose, it is a dialogue in its character. First, he expresses his own purpose of praising Jehovah, and for ever and ever. One generation should do it to another. “I will speak.” One sees his heart is full of praise, and he speaks of it (v. 5). “And men shall speak of the might of Jehovah’s terrible acts. And I will declare thy greatness. They shall speak of the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness.” Then he breaks off most beautifully to speak of the goodness: for still out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. All Jehovah’s works shall praise Him. The saints bless Him. Their subject shall be the glory of Jehovah’s kingdom and His power, to make known to the mass of mankind His acts, and the glorious majesty of His kingdom, and that an everlasting one. Then in verses 14-20 His character is spoken of. Verse 21 returns to the purpose of heart of the leader of praise. It is as man Christ speaks here—“my God.” Jehovah is looked at as King. In general, the outward acts and greatness are more in the mouth of the rest—what Jehovah is in the leader’s, though he does celebrate His wondrous works. Still the greatness and excellency and majesty of Jehovah are that which we see his heart full of, as verses 3, 5, 8-10; and so, in general, His gracious ways and character (v. 14-19). It is to be remarked that there is the leader who speaks in the psalm, the saints (the Jewish remnant), and the world in general, the sons of Adam. It is of the highest interest in this way; because we have Messiah fulfilling the word, “My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation.” And how full in heart He is of His praises! Jehovah’s kingdom is set up; the Messiah in the midst of Israel first, then the preserved saints, and then, through their leading, all the world join in His praises, for His greatness, goodness, and wonderful works. {Ps 146}

Psalm 146 introduces the full final praises: the first, the outpouring of the heart in praise to Him as the God of Jacob, celebrating what He is, and the comfort of trusting Him, the Creator, the Helper of the oppressed, the Comforter of the lowly, the Lover of the righteous, who turns the way of the wicked upside down. He shall reign for ever, even Zion’s God to all generations. The character of this praise, after what we have gone through, is most simple. {Ps 147}

In Psalm 147 the saints take their place now in Jerusalem and Zion to say what He is. He is their God; He builds up Jerusalem and gathers together the outcasts of Israel, healing the broken in heart and binding up their wounds. In verses 4, 5 His greatness is celebrated and His goodness and judgment; in verses 7-9, His goodness in blessing the earth; in verses 10, 11, His pleasure, not in animal strength, but in them that fear Him. In verse 12, the song of praise returns to celebrate His ways towards Jerusalem again; in verses 15-18, His dealings with the seasons in power; in verses 19, 20, His shewing His word and judgments to Jacob as He had not done to any nation. They might have seen the creative and providential power of Jacob’s God, but His mind and laws were His people’s. {Ps 148}

Psalm 148 calls first on heaven, and all in it, to take their part in the great Hallelujah, and praise Jehovah who had created and sustains them in their place; and then on the earth, with all in it, to join in praising Him whose name alone is excellent, and His glory above the earth and heaven, but who exalts the horn of His people, the praise of His saints (the godly ones we have seen throughout, but who now are fully Israel), a people near to Him. The great Creator whom heaven and earth must praise is the God of Israel, and Israel His people. {Ps 149}

Psalm 149 calls upon Israel to praise. The creation and Israel we have seen all through to be co-ordinate (the new creation and the assembly), and to form the sphere of the Psalms. Still it is now in the congregation of the saints. Israel’s relationship is double: Jehovah has formed him for His praise; He is King in Zion. The reasons of praise are then given. Jehovah takes pleasure in His people; but we learn who have this place. He beautifies the meek with salvation. Then he can say, Let the saints be joyful in glory; but if the high praises of God are in their mouths, the sword of earthly judgment and vengeance is in their hands to execute it on the nations and peoples, to bind the mighty ones who had once oppressed them. It was the judgment written. Such honour have all His saints. The persons here in view are thus evident, as is their position: the meek in Israel now delivered, and the Lord Jesus, King in Zion, execute judgment on those who had oppressed them. Such is indeed, as said, the judgment written, and confirms the view I have taken of the last two books: only now it is complete in its statements. The millennium itself is not described. The Psalms are the introduction to it, and by their connection of Christ, as seen in the Gospels, and the remnant of Israel, with the last days, throw the greatest light on the Gospels themselves. {Ps 150}

Psalm 150 is a general closing summons to praise Jehovah— only, remark, it is now freely in His sanctuary, as well as in the firmament of His power—in His sanctuary, with all the various instruments of the temple—praise for His mighty acts, praise for His own excellent greatness: everything that has breath is called to praise Him. It is a loud and chorus-like termination, full of power and energy, suited to the Jewish state and temple service.

Here we close this most interesting and instructive study, as to which I could hope only to give the outline of general principles, which might enable the reader to use the book; not its varied and beautiful contents in detail—this would have required volumes, both on the prophetic connection of its contents, and on the exercises and feelings of faith, so far as we can apply them to saints now.

13 This so distinctly characterises the Psalms that there are very few indeed even of those which are prophetic of Christ, where the remnant is not found. In the second book they are not, because that element is distinctly presented as the primary subject in the first: the connection being moral through His entering into their sorrows in grace, this is easily understood. And it is necessary to remember this, to account for various passages in which they come in, though partly applicable to, or used by, Christ. See pp. 46, 47, 48, 50, and 51.

14 It is in the point of death that the sufferings of Christ, whether for righteousness’ sake, and that which He underwent to be able to sympathise with them when they suffer under the government of God, on the one hand, or atonement on the other—the latter prefigured in the burnt and sin-offering (compare Heb. 9), the former the expression and testing of perfectness in the meat-offering—meet. Christ suffered onward up to death. Then He also made atonement for sin. Some of the remnant may suffer unto death, as faithful under the trials of this government; but then, like Christ, they will obtain a better resurrection. Of course, the atoning part is exclusively His.

15 I here use Israel as contrasted with the Assembly and Gentiles. We shall see Judah distinguished from Israel when we enter into details.

16 Compare Isaiah 48:22; 57:21.

17 Hence the intimacy of feeling and peculiar interest of the Psalms. They are the beating of the heart of Him, the history of whose circumstances, the embodying of whose life, in relationship with God and man, whose external presentation, in a word, and all God’s ways in respect of it, are found in the rest of scripture.

18 Compare I Peter 1:11

19 The state of the prodigal till he met his Father—the state of every soul, where the God who is light and love has been revealed in Christ; but redemption-work, and acceptance in Him are not known—there is confidence, but not peace.

20 I think it will be found that the first two books are somewhat distinguishable from the last three. The first two are more Christ personally among the Jews; the last three, more national and historical. And so Psalm 72, the last part of the first two books, closes with the Solomon reign.

21 Hence it is too that in the Romans we find experiences, because the soul is brought through the process which brings it into liberty; while in the Ephesians we find no experiences, because man is seen first dead in sins; and then united to Christ exalted to God’s right hand. The Epistle to the Philippians gives us, almost exclusively, proper christian experience.

22 Union belongs to the assembly’s position alone, and is by the baptism of the Holy Ghost. By one Spirit we are all baptised into one body. He that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit. Union in scripture is not attributed simply to life. (Compare John 14:20.)

23 Psalm 8, while it is the great result, is a mighty change in the position of Christ according to the counsels of God, which forms the basis of all that follows. It is referred to in John 1, in contrast with what Nathanael says, which refers to Psalm 2. It is found in Luke 9 and parallel passages, and quoted in Ephesians 1, 1 Corinthians 15, and unfolded in Hebrews 2. In the close also of John’s Gospel, we have the three characters noticed on which these psalms are founded. God vindicates in testimony His rejected Son. He raises Lazarus, and the Son of God is glorified thereby. He rides into Jerusalem as king of Israel. Then the Greeks come up, and He says, The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified; but thus, to take this place in God’s purpose, He must suffer and die. In chapter 13 consequently He begins His heavenly place. Psalms 1, 2 are in fact an introduction to the whole book. For His glory as Son of man, though prophesied of here when entered into, is another sphere of glory. Still He is owned as such, as He ever called Himself such down here.

24 But they are viewed as in the last days with the judgment at hand,

25 1 Peter makes the same distinction, chapter 3:14; 4:14.

26 More specifically in the Jews. The remnant of the Jews are spared and pass through the tribulation when two-thirds are cut off in the land (Zech. 13). The judgment of the ten tribes is outside the land, and the rebels do not enter into it (Ezek. 20). Israel is the general term of promise as applied to the nation.

27 The Lord, but not the word Lord which represents generally Jehovah in the English version; but that which gives the Lord as an official relative title.

28 See Matthew 17:24-27, already when here below. This may seem in a measure anticipation: still, He revealed the Father’s name to them.

29 Leviticus 9:22-24 strikingly shews this. The acceptance of the sacrifice by God was not manifested till Moses and Aaron had come out after going in (v. 24)—Christ as priest and king. Then the people worship, but Aaron blessed from the offering before. We know by the Holy Ghost come out that the offering has been accepted, while the priest is yet within the veil. And hence the full value of divine righteousness.

30 I do not mean by this that none of the psalms do. We know this is not so, as Psalm 22 notably shews; nor that no sentence is found in psalms which are not wholly of Him which does express feelings He had. I have referred to several in the course of these notes and stated the principle of their application already; but I here speak of the psalms I am treating of (Psalms 3-7).

31 The littleness of man compared with the creation on high, gives occasion to the revelation of God’s counsels in man.

32 Compare John 1:49-51.

33 *Not once did they understand what He said to them.

34 Psalm 3:6.

35 Psalm 3:8 (here “thy people,” the same practically).

36 Psalm 2:8.

37 Psalm .7:7.

38 Psalm 7:8.

39 These names are not without importance. One is the abiding name of God in Israel, His memorial for ever; the other, the millennial name of God introduced by the judgments spoken of in the psalm. Compare Psalm 91 and Genesis 14:19, 20.

40 Ammim3 v. 11. Leummim3 v. 8.

41 Here in the plural. The difference is sometimes important, because, as Paul says, there is that wicked one.

42 Had not liked to retain God in their knowledge.

43 In Revelation 4 are found the characters of the seraphim as well as of the cherubim, as prefacing, I believe, the judgments there, as characterised as being according to the holy nature of God as well as governmental. It is true the application of Isaiah 6, where alone the seraphim are found, is to a governmental judgment, because grace preserved a remnant. But the incompatibility of Jehovah and uncleanness— with man in himself—is what the prophet sees.

44 The quotation in Hebrews 2 is literally from the LXX of Isaiah 8.

45 Compare as to a special aspect of this, John 12:23, 24; and the Lord’s consequent place, in chapters 11, 12, 13, as we have seen, had given testimony to His place according to Psalm 2. See note, p. 52.

46 Thus, becoming man, and through glorifying God in His work as man, He has also title under God’s gift over all flesh.

47 This is the passage quoted in Hebrews 2—”I will put my trust in him.”

48 The more we study the cross, the more we shall see that every question of good and evil was brought to an issue, and the immutable basis laid for perfect blessing according to what God is in righteousness and grace and majesty too, for the new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. We come by the blessed testimony that it meets all our wants; but in contemplating it at peace, we see man in absolute sin, hating and rejecting God in grace and goodness; Satan’s full power—the disciples fled in fear, and all the world else in his power against Christ; man in absolute goodness loving the Father and obedient, glorifying God in the very place of sin where it was needed, and at all cost; we see God in perfect righteousness against sin as nowhere else, and perfect love to the sinner. Innocence was conditional blessing. This is completed in perfectness, and its value can never change. It is everlasting righteousness. Hence the blessing of the new heavens and new earth is immutable. We have had an innocent Eden; a sinful world; and shall have, besides the reign of righteousness, new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness

49 And this is known by the Holy Ghost sent down when He had ascended on high. The new heavens and new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness will be the full result, while it is the manifestation of the just ground of unbelieving man’s final condemnation.

50 Christ in His lifetime uses naturally the term Father; on the cross, at the close of the hours of darkness, “my God, my God “(in dying,

51 The only possible sense it could have as to Him was the deliverance of His soul at that moment as a fact, from the curse He bore for us, in which He had perfectly glorified God as to our sins, and as made sin for us. But the Lord does not use it. But though He had as a fact yet to die, its bitterness and sting were past.

52 What thief would, if hung, revile another thief hunt; by his side? But the condemned thief did so to Christ.

53 Although the dry tree be in the full sense lifeless Israel, yet, as the remnant, so long rejecters of Jesus being the Messiah, are mixed up with the nation, they go through the sorrows in heart and spirit which come upon the nation, though not its final judgment from God. For them Christ had done that; He died for the nation. But all short of that they go through, and feel in bitter sorrow and anguish, in some sort, more than before the judgment comes, because they feel the sin that is bringing it. Hence it was that Christ, who did know the cause and looked forward to the judgment which He did go through (undergoing the oppression without apparent deliverance, for His hour was come to be reckoned with the transgressors), could enter fully into their case. Though He entered into it in love, yet the righteousness which threatened Israel was before Him.

54 If the title be right, David was not yet king de facto, and the Spirit of Christ in him spoke anticipatively of the title of the anointed one; but evidently in view of another epoch. Note too here all Israel is in view of the desires of faith, though no deliverance even of the Jews be yet accomplished.

55 Compare Daniel 12:3 and Isaiah 53:11; not “justify many," but turn to righteousness, and bear, etc.

56 For Christ and for the new man, the world is a desert, without anything in it to refresh the soul. But divine favour being better than life, we can praise while we live; our soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness. The saint is not in the sanctuary, but has seen God in it. His desire is after God Himself. Christ could literally say this. “He hath seen the Father”: we have seen Him in Him.

57 The force of the word is much disputed; its sense, I suppose, is evident. It is used for the stables of sheep or cattle.

58 Further, as already remarked, in no case is the assumption of sins or their confession, on the head of the victim, the act of expiation. It is the assumption of that which had to be expiated.

59 This, if noticed, makes many psalms easy to understand, which would otherwise be difficult; because sorrow and distress follow after the confidence, but it is really what the spirit passed through in reaching it.

60 This supposes, of course, truth in the inward parts, conversion.

61 Some, as Venema, translate, “because of my casting away or down “instead of “from my youth." Rosenmüller gives both. Compare Psalm 129.

62 Compare the connection and remarkable contrast with John 15.

63 Christ, however deeply feeling what was before Him, was just the opposite of this struggling of will, being perfect in subjection (John 12 and Gethsemane). Peter would have resisted, but Christ took the cup as His Father’s will.

64 This in Isaiah 30:32, where the grounded staff, that is the decreed rod, was to pass, it was with tabrets and harps.

65 Note, there is no bringing in of’ me ‘in connection with indignation and wrath, as in Psalm 22, though Christ realises it in spirit. But personally He is lifted up and cast down. It is a key which opens up much in the psalms.

66 The difference of a reference to the promises to Abraham, and those to Moses, the blessings of which depended on the faithfulness of the people, is a marked feature in all the renewals of mercy to the people and the faith that referred to one or the other.

67 I do not refer here to Daniel 9 but to Daniel 8.

68 A hill is used as a symbol of exalted strength, a high hill as the hill of Bashan. This is the Lord’s hill.

69 The three principles of government had been brought out in Israel. First, direct responsibility to God under priesthood. That had failed under Eli, and that was Ichabod. It was over with Israel on the ground of their own responsibility. Then God intervened by a prophet. That He could still do; it was a sovereign act. But that failed; so did royalty as set up by the people. Then we have royalty as power in grace, as it will be in Christ, and the lost ark brought back. This is what we have in this psalm.

70 This is one of the two places where life for evermore, life eternal, is spoken of in the Old Testament; the other is Daniel 12 s both as accomplished in the time of blessing to come. In the New Testament, I need not say, it is fully revealed in Christ, and he that believes in Him has everlasting life.

71 Compare Psalm 8, grace’s view of it, and Job’s impatience (chap. 7:17, 18) against discipline, God’s taking notice of men’s ways in government.