Andrew A. (Andrew Alexander) Bonar.

Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms online

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cry "Abba, Father," and yet also to realise him as Jehovah —
taught us, also, thereby what real life is, — he next points out
the results. He shews us, in verses 12, 13, 14, the holy issues
or effects of the fear of the Lord, — the lips, the life, the pur-
suit of the heart, all tending in a holy direction. After this all is
safety to them (ver. 15-21), while " the Lord's face is with evil
doers," as the Pillar Cloud was with Pharaoh, to destroy them.

The prophetic reference of this Psalm is in the close. There
the anointed eye of David, and the Son of David, and all the
seed of David, beholds the final end of these trials. The
righteous arrive in the kingdom, not one bone broken, — even
as Christ came down from the cross, not a bone of him broken,
to shew the inability of his foes really to injure him. They see
the wicked slain, and the haters of the Righteous One " pro-
nounced guilty" and made desolate. Is not this leading us up
to the throne whence the sentence goes forth, " Those mine
enemies bring hither and slay them before me ! Depart, ye
cursed ! "

The harp of David thus celebrates.

The Righteous One's experience of the Lord's love under
the cross*

* Dr Allix : — " This Psalm coutaiueth the praises which the Messias gives
to his Father for having delivered him out of all his sufferings." Horsley :
" Messiah exhorts to holiness and trust in God, by the example of his own
deliverance."



Prophetic
reference.



118 PSALM XXXV. — THE UTTERANCE OF THE RIGHTEOIFS ONE



PSALM XXXV.

A Psalm of David.

1 Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me:
Fight against them that fight against me.

2 Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for mine help.

3 Draw out also the spear, and stop the way against them that persecute me :
Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.

4 Let them be confounded and put to shame that seek after my soul :
Let them be turned back and brought to confusion that devise my hurt.

5 Let them be as chaff before the wind : and let the angel of the Lord

chase them.

6 Let their way be dark and slippery : and let the angel of the Lord perse-

cute them.

7 For without cause have they hid for me their net in a pit.
Which without cause they have digged for my soul.

8 Let destruction come upon him at unawares ;

And let his net that he hath hid catch himself: into that very destruc-
tion let him fall.

9 And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord : it shall rejoice in his salvation.

10 All my bones shall say, Lord, who is like unto thee ?
Which deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him.
Yea, the poor and the needy from him that spoileth him ?

11 False witnesses did rise up ; they laid to my charge things that I knew not.

12 They rewarded me evil for good, to the spoiling of my soul.

13 But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth :
I humbled my soul with fasting ;

And my prayer returned into mine own bosom.

14 I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother :
1 bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother.

15 But in mine adversity they rejoiced, and gathered themselves together:
Yea, the abjects gathered themselves together against me, and I knew

it not.
They did tear me, and ceased not :

16 With hypocritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed upon me with their

teeth.

17 Lord, how long wilt thou look on ?

Rescue my soul from their destructions, my darling from the lions.

18 I will give thee thanks in the great congregation : I will praise thee

among much people.

19 Let not them that are mine enemies wrongfully rejoice over me :
Neither let them wink with the eye that hate me without a cause.

20 For they speak not peace :

But they devise deceitful matters against them that are quiet in the land.

21 Yea, they opened their mouth wide against me,
And said, Aha! aha! our eye hath seen it.

22 This thou hastseen, Lord : keep not silence : Lord, be notfarfrom me.



REGARDING THOSE THAT HATE HIM. 1 1 9

23 Stir up thyself, and awake to my judgment! even unto my cause, my

God and my Lord !

24 Judge me, O Lord my God, according to thy righteousness ;
And let them not rejoice over me.

25 Let them not say in their hearts, Ah ! so would we have it :
Let them not say, We have swallowed him up.

26 Let them be ashamed and brought to confusion together that rejoice at

mine hurt :
Let them be clothed with shame and dishonour that magnify themselves
against me.

27 Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause :
Yea, let them say continually. Let the Lord be magnified,

Which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant

28 And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the

day long.

There is this link of connection between this Psalm and the
preceding, that in both we find " tJie bones" referred to ; in the
former as " not broken" (ver. 20), in the latter as " rejoicing"
(ver. ] 6). In both, too, we find the angel of the Lord acting as
the Lord's instrument. In the former the angel acts to protect
and preserve (ver. 6), because the whole song is one of the
Lord's care ; but in the latter the angel acts in the way of
vengeance, as an instrument in inflicting the Lord's wrath (ver.
5, 6), because the burden of the Psalm is an awful intercession
against those who hate the righteous without cause.

Throughout this is an awful Psalm. Let us read it as the
words of the Lord Jesus, and what do we find ? We find Him
praying to the Father for help, and then consenting to the
doom of his relentless, impenitent foes ; yea, rather pronounc-
ing the doom with his own lips, even as when He shall say to
the barren fig-tree, " Cut it down," and to those on the left
hand, " Depart." It is in that spirit He says : —

" Let them be confounded.
Let tliem be turned hack.
Let tliem be as chaff,

Let t/ie angel of the Lord smite them down.
Let their way be dark.
Let the angel of the Lord cJiase them." (Ver. 4, 5, 6.)

This is their sentence, uttered by the lips of the Judge. It is
not the wish of one who is revengeful ; it is the utterance of
justice, compelled by the state of the parties to speak in stern
severity. Our Lord himself quotes verse 19, "the)/hctte me



The plan.



120 PSALM XXXV. — THE UTTERANCE OF THE RIGHTEOUS ONE

without a cause," in John xv. 25, on the last evening he spent
with his disciples before he suffered. For then he found
himself in the very situation so strikingly described in verses
1 1, ] 2 ; — false witnesses rising up, — men rewarding his whole
career of kindness by spoiling his soul.

What a deeply affecting picture do verses 13, 14, 15, give
of the Saviour's life for us. It may have been literally realised
at Nazareth ; Christ may have put on sackcloth when he
heard of some one in sickness, fasting for the dying man whose
soul he longed to save — none the less that the man was a foe.
Jesus acted as if the man had been " friend or brother ;" yea,
he felt such grief as men usually feel only when a beloved
" mother" dies. And so he felt for all this miserable world.
But now, says he, when the day of my calamity has come,
they do not sympathise with me : —

" They rejoice and gather together.
Tliey gather against me, tJce abjects I
Even those whom I knew not, tear me, and cease not.
Tlie vile, who mock for a cake (parasites), gnash their teeth at me."
(Ver. 15, 16.)
His cry ascends ; his pleadings up go before the righteous
Father, *' Lord, bring back my soul from desolations caused by
their ruinous plots. The vehement appeal (ver. 23), " My God,
and my Lord !" may have been in Thomas's thoughts on that
memorable occasion, John xx. 28. We have the answer in
verses 26, 27 :—

" They are ashamed ; they are clothed with shame."
This answer carries us forward to the day when they who re-
jected Him shall have as their portion " shame and everlasting
contempt ;" while they that favour his righteous cause —

" Shout for joy, and are glad ;
They cry continually. Let the Lord he magnified f
Whose pleasure is the prosperity of his servants."

Sence" ^^ ^°* ^^^^ *^^ " Hallelujah" of the glorified redeemed ? Is

not this their shout of joy, when sorrow and sighing flee away?
And, once more, is not this the sound of the Lamb's harp and
voice we hear, when amid this jubilee of bliss he says, —
" And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness,
Of thy praise, all the day long."



REGARDING THOSE THAT HATE HIM. 1 21

Throughout the endless day of eternity the Lord Jesus shall
himself speak the Father's " praise," and shall put marked
emphasis on his "righteousness" — that righteousness which
shall have been exhibited both in the doom of those who hated
the offered Redeemer, and in the salvation of those who re-
ceived him. There is nothing in all this wherein his own
may not fully join, especially on that day when their views of
justice shall be far clearer and fuller than now. On that day
we shall be able to understand how Samuel could hew Agag
in pieces, and the godly hosts of Israel slay utterly in Canaan
man and woman and child, at God's command. We shall be
able, not only fully to agree in the doom, " Let them be con-
founded," &c., but even to sing, " Amen, Hallelujah," over the
smoke of torment. (Rev. xix. 1, 2.) We should in some mea-
sure now be able to use every verse of this Psalm in the spirit
in which the Judge spake it, we feeling ourselves his assessors
in judging the world, (i Cor. vi. 2.) We shall, at all events,
be able to use it on that day when what is written here shall
be all accomplished : —

The awful utterance of the Righteous One regarding those that
hate Him without a cause.



PSALM XXXVL

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David the servant of the Lord.

1 The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart,
That there is no fear of God before his eyes.

2 For he flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to

be hateful.

3 The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit : he hath left off to be

wise, and to do good.

4 He deviseth mischief upon his bed ;

He setteth himself in a way that is not good ; he abhorreth not evil.

5 Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens ; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto

the clouds.

6 Thy righteousness is like the great mountains ; thy judgments are a great

deep.
O Lord, thou preservest man and beast.

7 How excellent is thy loving-kindness, O God !

Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy
wings.



122 PSALM XXXVI. — LOOKING UP TO THE GOD OF GRACE

8 They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house :
And thou shall make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.

9 For with thee is the fountain of life : in thy light shall we see light.

10 O continue thy loving-kindness unto them that know thee ;
And thy righteousness to the upright in heart.

11 Let not the foot of pride come against me, and let not the hand of the

wicked remove me.

12 There are the workers of iniquity fallen ! They are cast down, and shall

not be able to rise.

The title. He whom the Holy Ghost employs to write in these strains of
elevated thought and intense feeling, is one not ashamed of his
God. It is David ; and as in Psalm xviii. 1 , so here he de-
scribes himself as ''Servant of Jehovah." Perhaps it was
specially appropriate to use this designation in a Psalm that
shews us so fully the apostasy of men and a world in rebellion.
David glories in being " Servant" to Him whom men desert
and despise.

The plan. Like Balaam (Numb. xxiv. 3 □^^J^ speaking in the Lord's

name to Balak, so the Psalmist, in a kind of irony, represents
*' transgression" as uttering its oracle to the wicked. The first
verse reads thus : —

" Transgression utters its oracle to the wicked in my heart ! {i.e., my
heart thus apprehends their meaning,)
There is no fear of God before his eyes ! " — (Rengstenberg*)

And then he states seven features of the man who has no fear of
God. All this prepares the way for the contrast, Jehovah's
character and thoughts towards us, verses 5-9. Nor is he done
till he has shewn us the Fountain of life, surrounded by the re-
deemed, and then pointed to the ruin of the lost, " Yonder
are they fallen/' (ver. ] 2), — scenes that carry us forward to the
Great Day and its issues.

What a Psalm is this ! David, and David's Son, and every
member of the household of faith, must always have found it
congenial ; it is such a picture of earth, and such a glimpse
of Godhead-glory and grace. It suggests the deliverance of
all creation, " man and beast," and streams of bliss in reserve

* Tholuck renders it, "A divine oracle says from the depth of my heart,
concerning the wickedness of the ungodly" — adopting in substance the version
of Symmachus and Luther. All agree that QJ^J is very peculiar.



FROM AMID A WORLD LYING IN WICKEDNESS. 123

for us. It abounds in allusions to Old Testament history — al-
lusions that make it more fragrant and savoury ; as when verse
7th sings of Jehovah's care of " man and beast," thereby
calling up before us the ark of Noah, and the rainbow that
spanned it after the flood ; or when verse 8 sings of " the river, ^'
as if to remind us of the streams that watered Paradise (" a
hver of thy pleasures" ]1V!) ; or when "the fountain" is spoken
of, as if to send our thoughts to Deut. xxx. 20, Israel's foun-
tain. It is such a song of Zion as can be appreciated only
by meditation deep and frequent — such solemn meditation as
will try to gaze up to those heavens (verse 5), wherein mercy
dwells ; penetrate those clouds in which faithfulness is hid ;
climb and explore the massy mountain-heights of justice {hills
of God, worthy of his greatness, glorious and immense) ; cast
the line into the fathomless deep of his judgments, {i.e., his
providential dealings) ; and feel drawn by that grace that leads
men to the shade of the Almighty wings, and then to the
rivers of pleasure which flow from the fountain of life. If
asked to describe what we see in this Psalm, we would say,
We see here

The Righteous One looking up to the God of grace from amid
a world lying in wickedness.



PSALM XXXVII.

A Psalm of David.

1 Fret not thyself because of evildoers,

Neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.

2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green

herb.

3 Trust in the Lord, and do good ;

So shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.

4 Delight thyself also in the Lord ; and he shall give thee the desires of thine

heart.

5 Commit thy way unto the Lord ; trust also in him ;
And he shall bring it to pass.

6 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment

as the noonday.

7 Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him :

Fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way,
Because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.



124 PSALM XXXVII.— THE HEART QUIETED BY DISCERNING

8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath : fret not thyself in any wi.se to

do evil.

9 For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they

shall inherit the earth.

10 For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be :

Yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.

11 But the meek shall inherit the earth ;

And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

12 The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his

teeth.

13 The Lord shall laugh at him : for he seeth that his day is coming.

14 The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow.

To cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright con-
versation.

15 Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be

broken.

16 A little that a righteous man hath, is better than the riches of many

wicked.

17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken : but the Lord upholdeth the

righteous,

18 The Lord knoweth the days of the upright ; and their inheritance shall be

for ever.

19 They shall not be ashamed in the evil time : and in the days of famine they

shall be satisfied.

20 But the wicked shall perish.

And the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs :
They shall consume ; into smoke shall they consume away.

21 The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again : but the righteous sheweth

mercy, and giveth.

22 For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth ;
And they that be cursed of him shall be cut off.

23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord : and he delighteth in

his way.

24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down :
For the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.

25 I have been young, and now am old ;

Yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.

26 He is ever merciful, and lendeth ; and his seed is blessed.

27 Depart from evil, and do good ; and dwell for evermore.

28 For the lord loveth judgment, and foi'saketh not his saints.

They are preserved for ever : but the seed of the wicked shall be cut otlf.

29 The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever.

30 The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talkcth of

judgment.

31 The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.

32 The wicked watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to slay him.

33 The Lord will not leave him in his hand, nor condemn him when he is

judged.



BETWEEN THE GODLY AND THE WICKED. 125

34 Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit

the land.
When the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.

35 I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green

bay tree.

36 Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not ! yea, I sought him, but he could

not be found.

37 Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright ! for the end of that man is

peace.

38 But the transgressors shall be destroyed together : the end of the wicked

shall be cut off.

39 But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord : he is their strength in

the time of trouble.

40 And the Lord shall help them, and deliver them :

He shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust
in him.

There are seven alphabetic Psalms, and this is one of them. ^|.^,cture!''
It is a song of Zion, in which precious truths are stored up in
the memory by the aid of the alphabetic beginnings of each
verse. But, as usual, there occurs one irregularity (viz. y is
omitted), to prevent us, perhaps, attaching too great importance
to this form of structure.

The two-edged sword gleams bright here ; justice and mercy
ride together over the field of earth. It is a song suitable for
the Church and the Church's Head alike, and for every age of
the Church's history. And yet how exactly some verses suit
special scenes. Thus, verses 31, 82, is a full-length portrait of
the Just One — word, thought, deed j while Antichrist might
be said to have sat for his picture in verses 85, 36. " I saw
the wicked," &c.

Our Lord seems to quote this Psalm in Matt. v. 2 : " Blessed
are the meek — they shall inherit the earth." And in this
Psalm *' the little while" is spoken of, that " little while" of the
Church's patient waiting, now so well known to us :

" Yet a little icliile and the icicked shall not 6e."

" And the ineek shall inherit the earth." (Ver. 10, 11.)

Verses 37, 38, describe the final reward, *' The End," of the
perfect man, and the final doom, " the end," of transgressors,
on the Great Day, when He comes who has " His reward with
him." And so it closes with ascribing all victory to the Lord
alone. (Ver. 39, 40.)



Christ and liis
Church.



126 PSALM XXXVII. — THE HEART QUIETED BY DISCERNING

The title is simply, " of David," and this much we may re-
mark regarding the penman's style in it, that in very many
portions his own history supplied striking exemplifications of
his doctrinal statements.

In verses 1-6 we have the Lord's treatment of His oivn.
He lets them be proved and tried, while the wicked prosper.
David's adversity in the day of Saul's authority, and Nahal's
history, might be referred to as illustrating these verses.
" Dwell in the Land" may send us to Gen, xxvi, 34, or to 1 Sam.
xxvli. 1, 2, by contrast. Notice how it is faith and hope
together that are recommended in verses 5, 6, and remark that
"judgment'^ may well be rendered " The decision of thy cause
in favour of the right," just as in Isaiah xlii. 3, 4 ; John xii.
31, and xvi. 11, it signifies the decision of the controversy
pending between God and us, against the great Accuser.

In verses 7-15 we have The Lord's treatment of his foes.
Instead of complaining of our burdens, and anxieties, and
cares, and fears, and instead of throwing them off in stoical
indifference, let us " roll them on the Lord" (as ver. 5), and
then "Wait — be silent" — q.d., standing still at the Red Sea,
till God opens the way. " The meek" are they who bow to God's
will ; they shall as surely " inherit the earth," as ever Israel
entered into possession of Canaan. This is a promise repeated
in verses 1 1 , 22, 29, 34, as if to reiterate, " that though you
have little of earth and earth's good things now, all shall yet
be yours, and the ungodly be gone for ever."

From verses 16-22 we have God's blessing on the substance
of the godly, and his curse on what belongs to the wicked.
This is seen in the godly enjoying sufficiency at all times, and
in their being able (ver. 21) to give to others also; whereas
the ungodly are blighted, yea so reduced (ver. 21) as to be
found " borrowing," and unable to repay. All this is a fore-
taste of the future day described in Matt. xxv. 34, 41, and to
which reference is made in these words,

" For the Lord's blessed ones shall inherit the earth,
And his cursed ones shall be ctit off."

In verses 23-26 we have contrasts that even now distin-
guish the lot of these two classes of men. The godly are



BETWEEN THE GODLY AND THE WICKED. 1 27

directed ; lifted up when calamity has overtaken them (ver.
24) ; never forsaken (ver. 25).

" / have never seen the righteous forsaken (of God),
Nor (have I seen) his seed (forsaken) even when in greatest poverty ."

Nay, so far from this, the righteous is enabled to shew kind-
ness to others (ver. 26), and leaves blessing to his seed. " For
(says one) so far is charity from impoverishing, that what is
given away, like vapours emitted by the earth, returns in
showers of blessing."

From verses 27-33 we have an implied invitation to join
the godly, whom the Lord so cares for, in cherishing all that
is holy. Things are said which in their full sense are realised
only in the person of the Righteous One.

In verses 34-40 we arrive at the final issues of things.
Wait — that " wicked one" who is so " terrible" (V'lV), shall
soon disappear — that Saul, that foe of yours, that Antichrist,
the Church's foe ! And fail not to mark the perfect, " For to
the perfect there is an end," a,n r)'nni^. This "ri."'']nX" is
what Baalam speaks of in Numb, xxiii. 10, the end in the latter
day, the resurrection time.

And now let us revert to several expressions, in which we
find a marked likeness to our Lord's mode of speaking when on
earth. We noticed at verse 22, the resemblance to Matt. xxv.
34, 41, the " blessed" and the " cursed ;" but not less remark-
able is the five times repeated " inherit the earth" for our
Lord quotes it in Matt. v. 5, when promising still future bless-
ing. Add to these the " little while'' of verse 1 0, as used by
the Lord in John xvi. 16-19, and also " the end" as parallel
to our Lord's " end of the age" in Matt. xiii. 19. With all
these expressions before us, may we not say that the Master
himself is the chief speaker of this Psalm ? It is as pro-
perly the lips of David's Son that utter it, as it is the pen of
David that writes it. And this is the theme of it —

2he Righteous One quieting our heart by teaching us to
discern between the godly and the wicked.



Christ the
speaker



128 PSALM XXXVIII. — THE LEPROSY OF SIN ABHORRED.



PSALM XXXVIIL

A Psalm of David, to bring to remembrance.

1 Lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath : neither chasten me in thy hot dis-

pleasure.

2 For thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore.

3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger;
Neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin.

4 For mine iniquities are gone over mine head : as an heavy burden, they are

too heavy for me.

5 My wounds stink and are corrupt, because of my foolishness.

6 I am troubled ; I am bowed down greatly ; I go mourning all the day long.



Online LibraryAndrew A. (Andrew Alexander) BonarChrist and His Church in the Book of Psalms → online text (page 12 of 42)