Andrew A. (Andrew Alexander) Bonar.

Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms online

. (page 16 of 42)
Online LibraryAndrew A. (Andrew Alexander) BonarChrist and His Church in the Book of Psalms → online text (page 16 of 42)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

And be clear, in regard to the judgment pronounced by thee on the law-

He finds nothing in the terms of the -law too strict, nor
aught in the penalty annexed too severe. The use of '^"^^^
may be a reference to Exod. xx. 1, where the Ten Command-
ments are called DnH'in.

It is as if God had printed the diary of David, and, in order
to humble him, handed it to the " Chief musician," that all
Israel might know his bitter repentance, and might say, in
substance, what Augustine writes, (" I^on ergo cadencU ex-
eriiplum propositum est, sed si cecideris resurgendi. Tu hoc
amas in David, quod in se edit David V) " It is not an ex-
ample of falling into sin that is set before thee, but of rising
if thou hast fallen. Dost thou love in David that which David
hated in himself?"

1 . Deep groans for pardoning mercy, from the pit of pollu-

tion. (Ver. 1, 2.)

2. Confession of sin, and acknowledgment of the Lord's

righteous law. (Ver. 3, 4.)

3. An awful gaze upon the source of all actual sin. (Ver. 5.)

4. Deliverance from falsehood, folly, and guilt, must come

from God alone. (Ver. 6, 7.) " Purge me from sin with
hyssop," as the leper is purged,

5. The voice of a reconciled God heard again. (Ver. 8.)

Perhaps it was the idea of Resurrection that suggested
" hones rejoicing."

6. On the foundation of thorough forgiveness, prayer is made

for thorough and constant holiness. (Ver. 9, 10.) " Re-
new to me the gift of a fixed (P3ij spirit."

7. He seeks permanent holiness, as well as permanent fel-

lowship. (Ver. 1].)

8. The joy of full salvation (i. e., of both pardon and holiness)

is sought, and the presence of the Holy Spirit, the true
and natural equipment for future usefulness. (Ver. 12.)
" U'pholdme with the Spirit, who is generous" — princely.



9. Efforts are to be made for the good of others. (Ver. 13.)

1 0. Sorrow for having, in days past, injured others is expressed.

(Ver. ]4, first clause.)

11. Closing strain of adoring gratitude. (The last clause of

verse 14, and 15, 16, 17.)

1 2. A closing prayer for the glory of God in the land and in

the earth. (Ver. 18, 19.)
This desire for God's glory, the unfailing mark of a soul in
communion with God, is expressed in terms that indicate hope
as well as faith. " Be favourable to Zion for thine own sake,
as a fruit of thy free-will," ''JJiiJ"!!!. This is the sense ; as if
he said, " I have given thee cause to forsake my kingdom and
people, and even to abandon Zion, where thine ark stands ; but
wilt thou not rather shew free grace ?"

" Build the walls of Jerusalem /"

Make thy people in Jerusalem strong against their foes ;
build up * this city which I took from the Jebusites and am
seeking to beautify, though my sin might provoke thee to give
it back to the Canaanite again. Make Zion and Jerusalem
strong in their bulwarks as thou wilt yet do in the latter day.
(Psalm xlviii. 11.)

" Then shall tJiou be pleased with sacrifices of righteoxisness."

In that spot where thy name has been blasphemed by me
thou shalt yet again be honoured, if instead of judgment thou
sendest us victory and peace. We shall testify of thee to all
lands by the " sacrifices according to just rule and measure "
(Levit. xix. 36), and by " bullocks," as our D''13 " calves of thank-
offering." (Hosea xiv. 3.) This city Jerusalem shall be a
place wherein atonement is proclaimed, and thy praises sung
by thy forgiven ones, whose contrite, broken hearts shall be a
dally thankoffering. (Ver. 17.)

This last result was specially attained under Solomon. But
in addition to what we have stated as the primary meaning, is
there not a look into the future ? Is not the strain to this ef-
fect : — Hasten Zion's final glory, and then shall there be no

* "Build" signifies here as in Mieah iii. 10; Prov. xxiv. 3; Josh. vi. 26;
2 Chron. viii. 2, fortifiiinfi and ornamenting.


more scandals to give the enemy cause to blaspheme, no more
backslidings, no more falls ; then shalt thou be fully honoured
as the God of atonement and fully praised with the calves of
our lips. Hasten the day of Jerusalem's glory under the true

Such is this Psalm of David —
The broken-hearted sinner's cry to the God of grace.


To tlie chief Musician. RFascliil. A Psalm of David, wlien Doeg the Edomite came and told
Savil, and said unto him, David is come to tlie house of Ahiraelech.

1 Why boastest thou thyself in mischief, O mighty man?
Tlie goodness of God endureth continually.

2 Thy tongue deviseth mischief; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.

3 Thou lovest evil more than good, and lying rather than to speak right-

eousness. Selah.

4 Thou lovest all devouring words, O thou deceitful tongue.

5 God shall likewise destroy thee for ever.

He shall take thee away, and pluck thee out of thy dwelling place,
And root thee out of the land of the living, Selah.

6 The righteous also shall see, and fear, and shall laugh at him —

7 Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength !

But trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in
his wickedness.

8 But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God :
I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.

9 I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done it :

And I will wait on thy name ; for it is good before thy saints.

This Psalm was originally written when Doeg informed Saul ''"^ position,
against David. In arranging the Psalms it was natural to
place it after the last, inasmuch as the assaults which it de-
scribes would no doubt be repeated in some shape on the occa-
sion of David's fall, and even after his restoration to the full
sunshine of divine fellowship. The enemy of the Woman's
Seed has never in any age been at a loss for matter of calumny
and reproach, nor will he cease till the Lord come and he be
finally cast out.

In verse 1, "the 'mighty man" is I'ilD^ even as Nimrod is Tiie contents.


called in Gen. x. 9, the very antithesis in character to "■^^3^"b^?,"
" the miglity God," (Isaiah ix. 6,) who is to destroy him.

In verse 5, closed by the significant Selah, the true rendering
of the middle clause is, " He will pluck thee out of The Taber-
nacle;" not only referring us back to such cases as Korah, or
any rebels whom the Lord thrust out of the holy camp of Israel,
but pointing us onward to the time when " ihe Tabernacle of
Ood shall be tvifh men." On that day thou shalt have no place
among the blessed ones ; they shall see thee uprooted with
ease, and shall enjoy the " laugh" of Him who sitteth in the
heavens (Psalm ii. 4), and of Wisdom whom thou didst despise
(Prov. i. 26), but who then mocks at thy calamity. Men will
not then say of the Son of God (as they could say in the day
of his bumiUation), but shall say of his ruined foes, —
" Behold tJie man /" (Yer. 7.)

All along their history true Israelites could adopt and ap-
propriate the words of verse 8, but they shall sing it better
still on the day of Antichrist's final ruin, when they become
" The Olive tree" again. (Rom. xi. 17.) At the same time it
is David's Son, Christ himself, who best of all could sing this
Psalm, and best of all could appropriate these words : —
" I am a green olive tree in the house of God." (Ver. 8.)

He being indeed the true Israelite who " continued in God's
goodness" (Rom. xi. 17, 22), the tender love of his God ever being
as dew on his branches. He will, on the Day of his Appear-
ing, give the key-note of praise over foes overthrown for ever,
raising the " Hallelujah" of Rev. xix. 2, — "Because thou hast
done it." Nothing less than this result is what we look for and
expect ; and Christ along with us is looking for that display
of the Divine character, " ivaitmg for thy name," (a,s in Psalm
Ixxv. 1) when it shall be discovered in judgment acts. Thus
viewed, this Psalm may be entitled,

The hope of the Righteous One when everywhere spoJcen



To the chief Musician. Upon Mahalath. Maschil. A Psalm of David.

1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.

Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity : there is none that
doeth good.

2 God looked down from heaven upon the children of men.

To see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God.

3 Every one of them is gone back ; they are altogether become filthy ;
There is none that doeth good, no, not one.

4 Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge,

Who eat up my people as they eat bread ? They have not called upon God.

5 There were they in great fear, where no fear was :

For God has scattered the bones of him that eucampeth against thee .
Thou hast put them to shame, because God hath despised them.

6 Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion !
When God bringeth back the captivity of his people,
Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.

The unknown instrument " Mahalath" (.derived from the
Ethiopic root " to sing"), is here fixed on as the one to be used
by " the chief Musician." And the music is to be selected
with care, for this Psalm is, like some others, one that has the
mark " Maschil."

The state of earth ought to be deeply felt by us. The world
lying in wickedness should occupy much of our thoughts. The
enormous guilt, the inconceivable pollution, the ineffably pro-
voking atheism of this fallen province of God's dominion,
might be a theme for our ceaseless meditation and mourning.
To impress it the more on us, therefore, this Psalm repeats
what has been already sung in Psalm xiv. It is the same
Psalm, with only a few words varied ; it is "line upon line, precept
upon precept ;" the harp's most melancholy, most dismal notes
again sounded in our ear. Not that the Lord would detain us
always or disproportionably long amid scenes of sadness, for
elsewhere he repeats in like manner that most triumphant me-
lody. Psalm Ix. 6-12; cviii. 6-13; but it is good to return
now and then to the open field on which we all were found,
cast out in loathsome degradation.

There is one variation of some interest. It is in verse 5.
The words of Psalm xiv. 5 are referred to, but altered to ex-

This Psalm (



Compared with
Psulni xiv.


press much more of triumph and victory on the part of God's
despised ones ; for the two passages run thus : —

Psalm liii.

" Tliere were tlieij in great fear where no fear was,
For God has scattered the bones of the encamper against thee.
TIiou hast put them to shame !
For God has despised them /"

Psalm xiv.
" There were they in great fear,
For God is in the generation of the righteous.
You slmmed the counsel of the poor,
Because the Lord is his refuge."

Besides substituting " Elohim' for Jehovah throughout, the
changes in the Psalm before us seems made on purpose to de-
clare emphatically the complete overthrow of the ungodly.
" Thou" is emphatic in verse 5, and like Isa. xxxvii. 22, the
verse expresses victory over the ungodly. The term employed
in verse 6 is to be noticed. In Psalm xiv. 6 it was, " O that
the salvation, nyili;^, were come ;" in this Psalm it is " salva-
tions," "niyii.*y' full, entire deliverance. On these grounds
they may be right who suggest that Psalm xiv. (which see),
may be read as the report of the Son of man regarding earth
at his First Coming, and Psalm liii. as his description of its
state and prospects at his Second.* There is here certainly more
said of the full victory ; so that while we gave Psalm xiv. the
title of " The Righteous One's view of earth and its prospects,"
we are inclined to state as the contents of this —
Ihe Righteous One's view of earth, and the victory of Ood's

* Ryland says, " Psalm xiv. refers chiefly to God's enemies and their alarm ;
this Psalm to God's people and their interests. The former contemplates
judgments, the latter, deliverances.



To the chiel' Musician. On Neginotli. Mascliil. A Psalm of David, when the Ziphims came
and said unto Saul, Doth not David hide himself with us ?

1 Save me, O God, by thy name, and judge me by thy sti-ength.

2 Hear my prayer, O God ; give ear to the words of my mouth.

3 For strangers are risen up against me, and oppressors seek after my soul :
They have not set God before them. Selah.

4 Behokl, God is mine helper : the Lord is with them that uphold my soul.
6 He shall reward evil unto mine enemies : cut them off in thy truth.

6 I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O Lord, for it

is good.

7 For he hath delivered me out of all trouble :

And mine eye hath seen his desire upon mine enemies.

The title is such as we have already met with, " On NeginotJt'
and " 3Iaschil ;" and the occasion when it was first written is
mentioned as the time when the men of Ziph informed against

The burden of this Psalm is simply — to what quarter should
one look for help in the time of trouble ? Wholly to the Lord.
" Save me by thy name" (ver. ]), reminds us of John xvii. 11.
We are kept by the putting forth of God's perfections in our
behalf, truth, mercy, love, power, wisdom, holiness. Our Lord
was so kept by the Father, when he prayed in the words of verse
1, using them as his own, and giving his Church an instance
in himself of that safe keeping. The Selah-^OM^e of thoughtful-
ness in verse 3 is beautifully followed by " Behold''' of verse 4.
It is q. d., silent prayer followed by confidence of an answer.

It is in verses 6 and 7 that the future dawns on our view.
David, David's Son, and all who follow David's Son, may exult
in the prospect of that sacrifice of thankfulness to be offered.
When delivered out of all distress, we shall look with triumph
on our enemies ; for as Calvin remarks (quoted by Hengsten-
berg), " Only let the eye be pure, and we can piously and holily
refresh ourselves with the manifestations of God's justice."
That will be the time of the hallelujah in Rev. xix, 1— i, all re-
sulting from his name glorified, his name manifested as
" good." (Ver. 6.)

We have therefore in this short Psalm,
The Righteous One's help found in the Lord's name.



To the cliief Musician. On Neglnotli, lla>cliil. A Psalm of David.

1 Give ear to my prayer, O God ; and hide not thyself from my supplication.

2 Attend unto me, and hear me : I mourn in my complaint, and make a

noise ;

3 Because of the voice of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked :
For they cast iniquity upon me, and in wrath they hate me.

4 My heart is sore pained within me : and the terrors of death are fallen

upon me.

5 Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath over-

whelmed me.

6 And I said. Oh that I had wings like a dove ! for then would I fly away,

and be at rest.

7 Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. Selah.

8 I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.

9 Destroy, O Lord, and divide their tongues : for I have seen violence and

strife in the city.

10 Day and night they go about it upon the walls thereof:
Mischief also and sorrow are in the midst of it.

11 Wickedness is in the midst thereof : deceit and guile depart not from her


12 For it was not an enemy that reproached me ; then I could have borne it :
Neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me ;
Then I would have hid myself from him :

13 But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance!

14 We took sweet counsel together, and walked into the house of God in


15 Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell :
For wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.

16 As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me.

17 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud :
And he shall hear my voice.

18 He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me :
For there were many with me.

19 God shall hear, and afflict them, even he that abideth of old. Selah.
Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God.

20 He hath put forth his hands against such as be at peace with him :
He hath broken his covenant.

21 The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his


His words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords.
12 Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee :

He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.
2,3 But thou, O God, shall bring them down into the pit of destruction :

Bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days.

But I will trust in thee.


The title is the same as that of some former Psalms, " on Ne- 1'"= tme
ginoth," " Maschil," and then " of David." We may read
these strains as expressing David's feelings in some peculiar
seasons of distress, and as the experience of Christ's Church in 'J"'ie membeis

' ^ and their Hea

every age ; for we find much, very much, that accords alto-
gether with humanity in a state of intensely stirred emotion, .
and affection wounded to the quick. Yet still it is in Jesus,
the Man of Sorrows, that the Psalm finds its fullest illustration.
His was the soul that was stirred to its lowest depth by scenes
such as are described here. The quotation of Psa. xli. 9 by our
Lord, is almost equivalent to a quotation of verse 13, they are
so similar as to words.

It is the wickedness of the wicked that raises this mournful The feeiing


cry, and makes him say,

" I mourn in mxj complaint ;" or, " give free course to my sorrow." (Ver. 2.)

It is not unlikely that our Lord, possessed as he was of true
humanity, might often give utterance to this expressive wish
(verse 6), " that I had wings as a dove," when seeing the
turtle-dove fly out from the olives of the Mount of Olives over
guilty Jerusalem, the city wherein He saw "violence and
strife" — " wickedness, deceit, and guile, never absent from her
streets." Either there, or standing on some of the hills around
Nazareth, He might witness the home-loving dove's swift
flight,* and hear its peace-suggesting note, and be led to this
utterance of strong feeling, not at all unfit for Him who so re-
joiced in the thought, " And now I am no more in the world !
Now I come to thee, Holy Father," (John xyii, 11). He to
whom he was thought to bear so close a resemblance (Matt,
xvi. 14), the weeping prophet Jeremiah, gave utterance to his
wounded feeling in strains that naturally took a similar form,
" Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging-place," though
only that of the wayfaring man ! (ix. 2). But the melancholy
Psalmist here rises a degree beyond this —

" / would remain in the desert," (Ver. 7.)
And then there is the Selah-pavise, as there is in the middle of Seiah.

* Paxton says, the dove, when flying to its resort, never rests on trees or the
like, as other birds, but uses one wing till the other rests.

The Invitation
to share in it.


verse 19, iudicatiug the calm, solemn state of soul lu which
these things were uttered.

The prayer in verse 9 reminds us of Babel, where the lan-
guage of earth was divided that pride might be humbled for
ever, and its aims irretrievably baffled ; while verse 1 5, " go
quick to hell," at once recalls the doom of Korah and his com-
pany, who rejected the true High Priest, and the Lord's King
in Jeshurun. Our Lord describes Israel in verse 13, " his own"
nation (John ill), though, especially, Judas, one of his trusted
ones who owned him as Master ; and " mine equal" sig-
nifies, " Thou who wert by my side on terms of equality, as if on
a level with me." He permits them to perish in unbelief, they
having rejected the true Priest and King. He no longer acts
the Intercessor's part towards such, but stands over them as a
Judge, pronouncing their doom. And then in verses 16, 17,
we hear him express his confidence of full deliverance. " The
twelve legions of angels," whom He might at any time have
called to his help, have arrived, or rather He sees them on
their way.

" For there are many ivith me.

God heareth and anstcereih,

Yea, He sits enthroned for ever !" Selah. (Ver. 19.)

It is a glance at future redress for every wrong, in the Day of
Vengance and the Year of the Redeemed. In prospect of this,
verse 22 invites us to cast our burden upon the Lord, whatever
that burden be, even if it be the crushing weight of persecu-
tion, and reproach, and treachery. The Lord will " provide"
as Joseph did. Gen. xlv. 11, and as 1 Kings iv. 7. " The godly
shall not be tossed about for ever ;" the Lord shall arise to hurl
the foe into " the pit of destruction" (" the lake of fire" of Rev.
XX. 1 5), in which Antichrist sinks for ever.

In the last verse there is something of an enthymeme ; for
while the clause, " TJce blood g and deceitful men shall not live
half their days" predicts and pour trays their doom, as cut off
by untimely judgment, the responsive clause, "And I luill
trust in thee," tells of no proper converse, no judgment in favour
of the godly. But it nevertheless contains in it the equivalent
to a declaration that his lot shall be the reverse of the bloody


and deceitful. It is equivalent to saying, We go different
ways — they on the broad road, where ruin overtakes them
speedily, and I on the safe road of faith in thee, where I shall
soon meet with Him whom unseen I loved, and in whom I
believed, though as yet I saw him not. Does not, then, this
Psalm depict —
The Righteous One's weary soul resting in the certainty of
ivhat the Lord ivill do.


To the chief Musician. Upon Jonath-elem-rechokim. Michtam of David, when the Philistines
toolc him in Gath.

1 Be merciful unto me, O God : for man would swallow me up !
He fighting daily oppresseth me.

2 Mine enemies would daily swallow me up :

For they be many that fight against me, U thou Most High.

3 Wliat time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.

4 In God 1 will praise his word.

In God I have put my trust ; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.
6 Every day they wrest my words : all their thoughts are against me for

6 They gather themselves together, they hide themselves,
They mark my steps, when they wait for my soul.

7 Shall they escape by iniquity ? In thine anger cast down the people, O


8 Thou tellest my wanderings :

Put thou my tears into thy bottle : are they not in thy book ?

9 When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back : this I know,

for God is for me.

10 In God will I praise his word : in the Lord will I praise his word.

11 In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can_do unto


12 Thy vows are upon me, O God : I will render praise unto thee.

13 For thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt not thou deliver my

feet from falling.
That I may walk before God in the light of the living ?

The reason why fear gains ascendancy in a believing soul on
occasions of danger and trouble is sententiously expressed by
Augustine, " Magnltudinem mali vides, jiotesiatem tnedici


non vides." " Thou seest the magnitude of the evil ; the
power of the physician thou dost not see." The faith which
penetrates the unseen reaches the case. This Psahn, in verses
1, 2, sets forth perils and evils in their magnitude, every day
felt, every day repeating their vigorous assaults ; but verses
3, 4, declare the remedy.

" In the day ofm.yfear, I will trust in thee." (Ver. 3.)

This is nothing less than the voice of the Master, of him
who said in John xiv. 1, 27, " Let not your heart be troubled,
believe in God ; " " Peace I give unto you ; not as the world
giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled,
neither let it be afraid."

" God I will extol— his Word." (Ver. 4.)

I will rest my heart in God ; I will praise God (2 /JlJJ^j as in
Psalm xliv. 9, and as in verse 10 again) ; I will praise God with
a special reverence to "his Word" — his promises, which are
not like those of the world.* David might refer to the Lord's
special promise to him of the seed that was to come, — a pro-
mise that of course implied his preservation in order to its ac-
complishment. The Son of David had his eye on that same
promise in another of its aspects, its implied engagement to

Online LibraryAndrew A. (Andrew Alexander) BonarChrist and His Church in the Book of Psalms → online text (page 16 of 42)