Andrew A. (Andrew Alexander) Bonar.

Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms online

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while bursting fountains heaved it up from below.'* Still, He
knew the issue : " For the joy set before Him he endured the
cross." He could sing in the gloom, "/ shall yet praise him,
the salvation of my countenance, and my God I" The mar-
ginal reading is, " His presence is salvation ;" but verse 11 is
against this. The meaning is, I shall praise Him as He who
shall change my marred form, and give me beauty ; who shall
change my humiliation into exaltation ; who shall in my case,
and then in the case of all my people, exchange the wilderness
and its parched sands for the kingdom and its rivers of pleasure.
The sorest pang of Christ, arising from reproach and scorn,
was that which he felt when they cast suspicion on the love
and faithfulness of his Father (ver. 10), " Where is thy God?"
In proportion as sanctification advances, his members feel this,
too, forgetting their own glory, and intent upon his. In the
primary use of the Psalm, this taunt would be felt by David
when his enemies insinuated that though God had anointed
him king, yet He could not bring him to his kingdom : or even
if "the sons of Korah"f wrote this Psalm, (as Hengsten-
berg thinks), there would be the same feeling in them in
regard to this taunt flung at that devoted leader, whose cause
they espoused, coming to him at Ziklag. (1 Chron. xii. 6.)
But the Holy Ghost founded on these circumstances a song
of Zion, which was meant fOr Zion's King, and all his princes
in their passage to the throne and kingdom. The Lord Jesus
might specially call it to mind, and sing it with his disciples
on that remarkable day when, at Ccesarea Philippi (Matt, xvi,
1 3), he asked what men were saying of him ? On that day,

Lynch's Narrative of Expedition to
of " deep unto deep — noise of tliy

* The various cataracts of Jordan (s
Jordan) might give origin to the figur

t " The sons of Korah " have their name prefixed to fourteen Psal:i:s.
Herein is free sovereign grace ! The descendants of the rebel arc spared (Numb.
XX vi. 11), and honoured. We find them "porters" and " over the host of the
Lord," 1 Chron. ix. 19, for they were Levites of the family of Kohath. Some of
them came to David at Ziklag, 1 Chron. xii. 6, luid these may be specially the
'• sons of Korah "mentioned here, viz., Elkanah, Jesiah, Jaser, Joshobeani, and
Azarecl. Their after history, too, is interesting, grace still shining in it
throughout, in the days of the later kini^s.

The speaker.


Hermon was iu sight, and Jordan's double-fountain close be-
side him, and some '^ Little Hill " near them, some "Mizar,"*
that, by contrast, called up to mind the Hills of Zion. On
that day, it may be, the Head of the Church made special use
of this Psalm, and embalmed it in the hearts of his disciples,
who would never afterwards fail to sing it (even as we do), with
double refreshment in the thought that it had comforted the
Master, expressing, as it does,

The Righteous One in his weariness looking up to the Father
for refreshment.


1 Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation !

O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man !

2 For thou art the God of my strength : why dost thou cast me off?

Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

3 O send out thy light and thy truth : let them lead me ;

Let them bring me unto thy holy hill and to thy tabernacles.

4 Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy :

Yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, God, my God.

5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul ? and why art thou disquieted

within me?
Hope in God : for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my
countenance, and my God.

Many ancient and modern writers make this Psalm a part of
the former. They have failed to see that the strain is now
more gladsome and hopeful. The hart is now hounding on
to the water brooks. The psalmist is claiming his right to
refreshment, and anticipating it as at his very lips. The gloom
of "night" (xlii. 8) and of "mourning" (ver. 2) is to be ex-
changed for favour or " light " (ver. 3), and " truth," i. e., the
fulfilment of the promises made to him (Aben-Ezra) shall

* Tucker has made an interesting suggestion, though it will not bear exami-
nation : "I will remember thee concerning the land" (Q). God's past mercies
displayed there, at the miraculous passage of the river Jordan, and the getting
possession of the land even to Hermon ; and then " The Little Hill " would be
Zion itself, only gi-eat because the Tabernacle is there. The construction of
the Hebrew refuses to yield this sense.


soon shew that he has not been " forgotten" (xHi. 9) ; and soon
his God shall be his jubilee-song, "joy of his joy," and the harp
shall celebrate the well pleased countenance of " Eloi, Eloi/' my
God, who once seemed to stand afar of

To Christ and to his members, the highest gladness (spoken of Christ and
verse 4) comes from The altar, with its accepted sacrifice.
Christ risen, and Christ ascended, are pointed out therein ; and
it is in his resurrection and ascension that we see the sacrifice
accepted, and our hearts learn true joy. No doubt this same
source of joy is to be opened up to us more fully still when He
appears the second time " without sin " unto salvation, and all
enemies are put under him. He, too, shall rejoice afresh in that
day, drinking of the coolest of the longed-for water brooks. Let
us, meanwhile, read and sing this Psalm in happy confidence, as
The Righteous One's claiming his right to full refreshment.


To the chief Musician, for tlie sons of Korah. Maschil.

1 We have heard with our ears, God, our fathers have tokl us,
What work thou didst in their days, in the times of old.

2 How thou didst drive out the heathen with thy hand, and plantedst them ;
How thou didst afflict the people, and cast them out.

3 For they got not the land in possession by their own sword,
Neither did their own arm save them :

But thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance.
Because thou hadst a favour unto them.

4 Thou art my King, God ! command deliverance for Jacob.

5 Through thee will we push down our enemies :

Through thy name will we tread them under that rise up against us.

6 For I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me.

7 But thou hast saved us from our enemies, and hast put them to shame that

hated us.

8 In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever. Selah.

9 But thou hast cast off, and put us to shame ; and goest not forth with our

armies !

10 Thou makest us to turn back from the enemy ; and they which hate spoil

for themselves

11 Thou hast given us like sheep appointed for meat ;
And hast scattered us among the heathen.

12 Thou sellest thy people for nought, and dost not increase thy wealth by

their price.


13 Thou makest us a reproacli to our neighbours,

A scorn and derision to tliem that are round about us.

14 Thou makest us a byword among the heathen, a shaking of the head

among the people.

15 My confusion is continually before me, and the shame of my face halh

covered me ;

16 For the voice of him that reproacheth and blasphemeth ; by reason of the

enemy and avenger.

17 All this is come iipon us; yet have we not forgotten thee,
Neither have we dealt falsely in thy covenant.

18 Our heart is not turned back, neither have ur steps declined from thy

way ;

19 Though thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons.
And covered us with the shadow of death.

20 If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a

strange God,

21 Shall not God search this out ? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart.

22 Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long ; we are counted as sheep

for the slaughter.

23 Awake ! why sleepest thou, Lord ? Arise ! cast us not off for ever.

24 Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and forgettest our affliction and our op-

pression ?

25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust : our belly cleaveth unto the earth.
2G Arise for our help, and redeem us for thy mercies' sake.

There is apparently a series commencing here and extending
to Psalm 1., wherein the Head is addressed, and the various
phenomena of his actings described, by the members of his body.
This Psalm, committed to " the Sons of Korah," is the cry of
David and any other true followers of the Lord, in times of
trial, when the witnesses prophesy in sackcloth. It is not so
much a national Psalm, as one for the Church Universal, inas-
much as verses 17-22, humbly protest (what Israel as a nation
could not) firm, unfaltering adherence to his name ; and in Kom.
viii. 36, are applied by Paul as expressive of the believer's state
in a persecuting world. The Maschil is a musical reference.

It is the cry, or appeal, of the slaughtered sheep to their
Shepherd. They begin by recalling to mind his great deeds in
behalf of his people coming out of Egypt. They lay all the
stress of that deliverance on Himself, on his holy arm alone.
(Ver. 2.)

"Tiiou (nril^j didst drive out the heathen,''' &c.

This " Thou" is emphatic, quite similar to the use of the


pronoun in Ezekiel xxxvii. 3, " Thou (HjnSt), and none else,
knowest ;" and then verse 5, " I (''JN), and none else, will cause
the Spirit of life to enter into you." Or like the pronoun (Rev.
iv. 11), "For tlioii {(S\j), and none else, hast created all things."
Then in verse 5, there is an emphatic S^H, " God, thou art
he, my King."

Not less significant is that other monosyllable (ver. 9), —
" But (P|J^) tliou hast cast off." —

A A^eZa^-pause (ver. 8) had for a moment brought the harp
to silence ; and when its strings are touched again, it is to
breathe forth lamentation. It seems to reverse the case stated
in Leviticus xxvi. 44, where, after long tribulation, there is
hope of the removing of the calamity introduced by S]J«}\ which
the Jews have marked on this account as " a golden ^)^,"
speaking as it does of a change to prosperity. All different
here ! The tide has ebbed, and no prospect of its coming in
appears ! We are sold for the most trifling sum, as if the
master were only anxious to get his sheep off his hand. (Yen
12.) We are a by-word (ver. 14), and are put to shame by
" the enemy and the avenger," whom thou couldest so easily
still. (Psa. viii. 2.)

And yet the sheep own no Shepherd but Jehovah. Their
protest is without reserve.

" Tliou Jiast broJcen us, (and laid us helpless,) in tliejilace of dragons,
And covered us with the sJiadoiv of death,
If tee have forgotten the name of our God —
Or (if) ive have stretched out our hands to a strange God" —

We are cut off from the society of our fellow-men, we are
thrust out into dens and caves, we flee to where serpents are
the only inhabitants, we are lingering on the brink of the grave.
Yet we can appeal " If we have forgotten !" This " If" is a
form of strong asseveration. It is the same form as our Lord
employs in Luke xix. 42, " If thou hadst known" — then would
blessing have come. It is like Exod. xxxii, 32, " Yet now, if
thou wilt forgive their sin." It is like Psa. xcv. 7, " To-day,
if ye will hear his voice" — then ye shall enter into rest.

Having made this protestation, they add, "Shall not God
search this out ?" Heknoweth all things ; He knoweth that


we love Him ; He knoweth that " our belly is grovelling on
the earth," like the serpent.

" Awake, xchy steepest tliou, Lord ?" (Ver. 23.)

Hope dawns. Their God shall hear. He allows them to
awaken Him, and they in a manner cry through the curtains of
his Pavilion, " Up ! why sleepest thou ?" (Prayer Book version.)
The Banner of the Deliverer appears through the gloom. The
sleeping Saviour awakes at the cry of his disciples, and is about
to arise and still the storm " For his mercies' sake" (ver. 26),
— for the sake of the tender love he bears to them. In the
Latter Day we shall see, what is meant by this arising, in its
full glory.

Such is this Psalm —

The cry of the slaughtered sheep to the Shepherd.


To the chief Musician upon Shoshannim, for the sons of Korah. Maschil. A Song of loves.

1 Mt heart is inditing a good matter :

I speak of the things which I have made touching The King !
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.

2 Thou art fairer than the children of men ! grace is poured into thy lips !
Therefore God hath blessed thee for ever.

3 Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O Most Mighty, A\ith thy glory and thy


4 And in thy majesty ride prosperously — because of truth and meekness and

righteousness ;
And thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things.

5 Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies :
Whereby the people fall under thee.

6 Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever ! The sceptre of thy kingdom is a

right sceptre.

7 Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness:

Therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above
thy fellows.

8 All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia.
Out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.

9 Kings' daughters were among thy honourable \von:.en :
Upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir.

10 Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear;
Forget also thine own people, and thy father's house;


11 So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty :
For he is thy Lord ; and worship thou him.

12 And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift ;
Even the rich among the people shall intreat thy favour.

13 The king's daughter is all glorious within : her clothing is of wrought gold :

14 She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework.

The virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee.

15 With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought : they shall enter into

the king's palace.

16 Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make

princes in all the earth.

17 I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations :
Therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever.

The appeal made to tlie Shepherd, by the sheep led to the
slaughter, is heard. Here is what Hengstenberg would call
a " matter-of-fact reply." The Shepherd at the bleating of his
flock appears in glory to help them ; but appears in the character
of a Mighty Conqueror. The Lamb is the Lion of Judah.

The title given to this Psalm corresponds to its glowing
words and theme. " Upon Shoshannim," the lily- instrument,
some Temple instrument of music, peculiarly adapted for the
celebration of themes that were fresh and bright and beautiful.
"For the sons of Korah," and " To the Chief Musician" —
the services of the Chief Singer, and the help of the whole choir
of singers are put in requisition. It is also " Maschil," what
calls for skill in the musician as being the product of great
skill in the Singer of Israel who writes it, whether he were
David or Solomon, and whether or not the occasion of its
composition were the marriage- festi^dties of the royal Court.
And once more ; it is " A song of loves ;" or rather " of the Be •
loved" viz., the Bride. At least the word " /IIT'T" may mean
this. It is used in Jeremiah xii. 7, as a term for Israel while
Israel was God's Beloved (God's Spouse), and He the Husband ;
and so it corresponds to Jedidiah, " Beloved of Jehovah," just
as Shulamite does to Solomon. If so, it is a Song concerning
The Bride, as well as concerning Ihe King, the Bridegroom.

" My heart boils with goodly words.
My work is for the King !
My tongue is the ]3en of a ready roriter ! " (Ver. 1).

Abrupt and fervent surely — the Holy Spirit thus using the



faculties and feelings of the human instrument to indicate the
exciting nature of the subject.

" Thou mi, beaidijied tvith beauty among the sons of men! "
The verb employed has an unusual form, and might be ren-
dered '' Beautiful, beautiful art thou," (Alexander).

" Grace is poured upon thy lips.'"
Everything that is attractive, everything that is graceful
in character and form, in feature and expression, is meant by
" grace." It is not what we usually call by that name ; it is
a term for what fits with the person and draws the eyes of others
to him. It is thus used (Prov. iv. 9), " She shall give to thy
head an ornament of grace, a crown of glory shall she deliver
to thee" — wisdom so clothing the person with moral beauty.
It is thus, too, in Psalm Ixxxiv. 11 — "The Lord will give
grace and glory" — the ornament of beauty, the crown of glory.
All this, in full perfection, is found in Messiah's person ; all
that is fitted to attract and fix the soul's gaze ; all that is beauti-
ful in excellence ; all that is drawing in holiness and majestic

Now comes verse 3,

" Warrior ! gird thy sivord upon thy thigh, (Horsley).

This is "The Mighty One" whom Isaiah (ix. 5) calls "The
Mighty God." He is the "1133 who goes forth to victory, and
yet acts in behalf of " meekness and truth and righteousness "
(see Rev. xix. 15), or more literally, "m hehalf of riieekiiess
and truth ;" the doing which in such a cause is " righteous-
ness." "On his thigh," we find a name in Rev. xix. 16 in
perfect keeping with the ")'l3^ here, " King of kings, Lord of

" Thine arroics are sharpened !
The nations Jail iinder thee !
They (thy arrows) are in the hearts of the King's enemies ! "

He reaches the Throne, and sits down, his enemies made his
footstool. Messiah, thus seated on the throne in visible ma-
jesty, is addressed in verses 6, 7, by the name " God ;'

" Thy Throne, God, is for ever and ever.'''

" Thy God hath anointed thee, God!" (Comp. Heb. i. 8,9, in the
Greek, and undoubtedly the true rendering of the Hebrew.)


Everything is ready for the Marriage : " myrrh and aloes and
cassia" (Song iii. 6) have been prepared for this day of Espousals,
brought out of "palaces of ivory" to help the joy, or in other
words, to complete the mirthful arrangements of this day of
heavenly gladness.

" Out of the ivory palace, the sound of the harp ('•2ID) inaketh thee glad,' '
(taking >3Q to mean " stringed instruments." — Tholuck.)

The " King's daughters" who are in attendance "precious
ones," i.e., of high value, seem to be like the " daughter of
Jerusalem" in The Song ; and especially does this portion of
the Psalm remind us of Song vi. 8, 9, " The threescore queens,
fourscore concubines, and virgins without number." We sus-
pect that both in that Song and here also, these represent the
Angelic hosts. They are natives of that heavenly country — not,
like The Bride, brought into it from a far foreign land. Tfie
Bride, or Queen, is the redeemed Church, made up of Jew and
Gentile saints, the one Body of the redeemed who are referred
to in Hebrews xi. 39, 40.

In this view we find no difficulties left. " Be it," sings the
sweet singer, " Be it that thy princesses who fill thy court are
of highest rank, such as are Kings' daughters, yet pre-eminent
stands The Queen in gold of Ophir ! No rival to her ! She is
honoured, and worthy of honour, above all ! "

A pause follows. The Bride is addressed in prospect of this
day. It is, q.d., " Wilt thou not, since this is thy glorious
destiny, be willing to leave all former relationships ? Wilt
thou not, O daughter, be as Rebecca going to Isaac ? This
Mighty One is thy Lord ; be thou as Sarah to Abraham."
(Gen. xviii. 12 ; 1 Pet. iii. 5, 6.)

But the scene is not yet sufficiently set before us. The sweet
singer touches his harp again to a lofty strain, to describe the
splendour of dominion possessed by the Bride in right of the

" Tlie daughter of Tyre shall he there loith a gift.
The nch among the people (D^) sImII entreat thy favour." (Ver. 12.)

This tells of the Glorified Church, the Lamb's Wife, ruling over
a subdued world, in the millennial days. "T^/re" is taken as a
sample of Gentile nations, and is elsewhere referred to as acting


a part in these happy times (see Isa. xxiii. 18) ; while "the
rich among the Peoj)le" are the Jeius in their restored pros-
perity. The glorified Church reigns with Christ over the na-
tions upon earth. The glorified Church is with Christ on his
throne, wherever that may be, while he rules the people and
nations under the whole heaven, Gentile and Jew, Tyre and
The People.

" The virgins her coinj)anions" are, we think, the same as
verse 9 and as Song vi. 8, " virgins without number," namely,
the angelic hosts. These participate in the joy of this scene,
even as they sympathized with the birth of the Bridegroom at
Bethlehem. As for her she is all splendour, and "gold era-
broidery" is her vesture, i e., the richest and the rarest fabric
of creation.

And (not to dwell too long on verses that tempt us to linger
at every step), at last comes the final strain. The Queen, or
Bride, is addressed in verse 16. It is, like Genesis xxiv. 60
and Ruth iv. 11, the expression of a wish for the after fruit-
fulness of the Bride. The Glorified Chiu-ch, reigning with
Christ, is to see her prayers answered and her labours crowned,
in the blessings which shall be poured on Earth in those glad
millennial days.

" Instead of thy fathers," those who filled earth in thy former
days " shall be thy children.'" Earth shall have its new gene-
rations, generations of holy men, — " whom thou mayest make
princes in all the earth" — every one fit to be a prince, the
weakest among them as David, and the House of David as the
Angel of the Lord.

" So shall the nations j^rcdae thee for ever and ever ! "
This ends the loftiest Epithalamium ever sung. It is what
Milton would call

" The nnexpressive nuptial song,
In the blest kingdom meek of joy and love."

It is Earth taught by Heaven to sing heaven's infinite love to
man. It is a prelude to the New Song. Every clause in it is
melody, and every thought in it is sublimity ; but it is just
such as we might expect to be breathed forth when the theme
on hand was —
Messiah the Mighty One appearing as King and Bridegroom.



To the chief Musician. For the sons of Korah. A Song upon Alamoth

1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed,

And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea ;

3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled,

Though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High.

5 God is in the midst of her ; she shall not be moved :
God shall help her, and that right early.

6 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved : he uttered his voice, the

earth melted.

7 The Lord of hosts is with us ; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

8 Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the


9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth ;

He breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the
chariot in the fire.

10 Be still, iind know that I am God :

I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

Before the dawn of that day of the Bridegroom and the Bride,
the Marriage-feast, earth shall shake with commotions ; wars,
rumours of wars, earthquakes, famines, pestilence, all combin-
ing to make men perplexed. But here we find the same
Mighty One giving strength to his own in these perilous times.

The title is peculiar, "on Alamoth," suggesting "a choir of
virgins, " as if this Virgin-choir were selected to sing a Psalm
that tells of perils and fears and alarms abounding, in order to
shew that even the feeble virgins may in that day sing without
dread because of " The Mighty One" on their side. They
and the " Sons of Korah" join in this lofty strain of confi-
dence. We all know how Luther used to sing this Psalm
in times of peril and alarm, and many have done the like in
all ages.

They sing of Jehovah " a very 2^resent help," or more lite-
rally, " He is found a help most truly," iW^i, being the same

Online LibraryAndrew A. (Andrew Alexander) BonarChrist and His Church in the Book of Psalms → online text (page 14 of 42)