Andrew A. (Andrew Alexander) Bonar.

Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms online

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as it does again verse 9. By him " the stout-hearted were
made a prey ; they slept deep their sleep ;" by him who could
give foes the same " rebuke" that he gave to the swelling
waters (Psalm civ. 7), causing the warrior and his war-chariot


to be alike motionless and dead in the silent camp. Ah, it is
*' Thou" (pPii^) who art to be feared, Thou {nPii^) alone ! And
we might have noticed also, there is significance in using the
name " Salem," (ver. 2). It reminds us of the reign of Mel-
chizedeck, and hints at the slaughter of the kings, whom God's
Abrahams overcome.

And ever shall it be thus. Ever shall it be an unanswer-
able question, " Who shall stand before thee when thou art
angry V (verse 7), down to that great and terrible day when
all earth, at the sight of thy throne, shall ask, "Who shall be
able to stand V (Rev. vi. 17). And then shall verses 8, 9, be
fulfilled most emphatically —

" Out of heaven thou Tiast proclaimed judgment (]n, see Dan. vii. 10,

Earih fears, and is at rest ! (HtOp^') like Josh. xiv. 15, and Isa.

xiv. 7.)
Wlien God arises to judgment,
Saving all the meek of earth. Selah."

Is not this the day when the Saviour comes to reign ? — the
day when the results of things shall best be seen — the day
when every saint with anointed eye shall see that events all
tended to the glory of their God — the day when they shall
sing better far than now,

" Surely the wrath of man praiseth thee.
Thou girdest thyself with the remnant of wrath ; "

turning it to use, even every particle of it ?

Vow, then, and perform the vow, O Israel ! a people near
to Him (Num. ii. 2). Bring a gift to him that is the true
object of fear, to him who has cut off, as in a time of vintage
("iiJll, as Rev. xiv. 18), the breath, the life, of princes; to him
who is terrible to earth's kings. If this Jehovah be for us,
who can be against us ? Let us even now sing this

Song to the Mighty One, who is the fear of Israel and of



To the chief Musician. ToJeduthun. A Psalm of Asaph.

1 I CRIED unto God with my voice,

Even unto God with my voice ; and he gave ear unto me-

2 In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord :

My sore ran in the night, and ceased not: ray soul refused to be com-

3 I remembered God, and was troubled :

I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah.

4 Thou boldest mine eyes waking : I am so troubled that I cannot speak.

5 I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times.

6 I call to remerab>-ance my song in the night :

I commune with mine own heart : and my spirit made diligent search.

7 Will the Lord cast off for ever ? and will he be favourable no more ?

8 Is his mercy clean gone for ever ? doth his promise fail for evermore ?

9 Hath God forgotten to be gracious ? hath he in anger shut up his tender

mercies ? Selah.

10 And I said. This is my infirmity.

But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.

11 I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy

wonders of old.

12 1 will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.

13 Thy way, God, is in the sanctuary ! Who is so great a God as our God ?

14 Thou art the God that doest wonders : thou hast declared thy strength

among the people.

15 Thou hast with thine arm redeemed thy people, the sons of Jacob and

Joseph. Selah.

16 The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee : they were afraid :
The depths also were troubled.

17 The clouds poured out water : the skies sent out a sound :
Thine arrows also went abroad.

18 The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven : the lightnings lightened the

world :
The earth trembled and shook.

19 Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters.
And thy footsteps are not known.

20 Thou leddest thy people like a flock, by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

" For Jeduthun," the choir over which Jeduthun and Heman
presided (1 Chron. xvi. 42). They are to sing now a plaintive
psalm. Asaph's harp's strings are moaning to the chill night-
wind. Instead of triumphing in the Mighty One, whom all
must fear, Asaph is full of unkindly fears, fears arising from
clouds around his soul. Our Lord on earth had such changes
in his soul as we find in this Psalm. One day, under the


opened heavens at Jordan ; another, in the gloom of the howl-
ing wilderness ; one evening, ascending the Transfiguration-
hill ; another, entering Gethsemane. And so with every mem-
ber of his body. Not that the love of their God varies toward
them, and not that they themselves feel that love exhausted ;
but providences and trials of strange sort, and temptations
buffeting the soul, hide the sun by their dark mists.

We find, verses 1-4, The time of darkness pictured to us
most pensively and plaintively. " In the night my hand was
stretched out, and grew not numb, " (Alexander). And the
" Selah " in the midst of it, verse 3, seems to give us time to
observe the dismal plight of the soul.

In verses 5-9 we have reviembrance of former days, leading
to the profoundly melancholy question — " Has El (the Mighty
God) forgotten to be gracious."

" Hath he in anger shut the spring
Of his eternal love ?

And another "Selah" leaves us to pause and ponder.

At verse 10, The cause of this darkness. " This is my sick-
ness," (Jer. X. 19). My present circumstances of body, and
the oppressive providences around, have averted mine eye
from God's love. Tholuck renders it, " This affliction of mine
is a change of the right hand of the Most High ;" but we prefer
another view, viz., after having mournfully admitted " This is
my infirmity," the thought flashes in, " The years of the right
hand of the Most High I" Yes, let me recall what he has done !

At verse 11, The light breaks — God is seen, still mighty to
save. Asaph is taught by " the years of the right hand of the
Most High," seeing " his way in the sanctuary ; " and in such
past ^'wonders" as Exod. xv. 11. He sees God redeeming "the
so^is of Jacob " from their Egypt exile, and doing it so as to re-
mind us of "Joseph "once separated from his brethren, but after-
wards the head of them all, (11-15). A " Selah" again bids
us ponder, and the Psalm closes by recounting some of his
wonders in providence. " God's way in the sanctuary" (ver.
13) suggests composing thoughts regarding his "Way iro the
Sea." (Ver. 19.)

There is a day coming when we shall, Avith Christ our Head,
sing of the Church's safe guidance to her rest, in such strains


as these, remembering how often by the way we were ready to
ask, " Has God forgotten to be gracious ?" We are taught by
the harp of Asaph, in moments of despondency, to " remember
the days of old," and assure ourselves that the God of Israel
liveth — the God of the Passover-night, the God of the Red
Sea, the God of the Pillar-cloud, the God of Sinai, the God of
the wilderness, the God of Jordan, — the God, too, we may add,
of Calvary, and the God of Bethany, who chali lead us r.s he
led Israel, even when earth shakes again, till that day when he
comes to east some light on " his v/ay that w?.s in the Sea, and
his paths that were in the great waters, and his footsteps "
that were a mystery. Asaph has been the instrument of the
Holy Ghost to cheer us here, by bidding us look on this pic-
ture of
The Righteous One under the cloud recalling to mind the
Lord's former


Maschil of Asaph.

1 Give ear, O my people, to my law : incline your ears to the words of my


2 I will open my mouth in a parable : I will utter dark sayings of old :

3 Which we have heard and knovv-n, and our fathers have told us.

4 We will not hide them from their children,

Shewing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord,
And his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.

5 For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel,
When he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to

their children :

6 That the generation to come might know them, even the children which

should be born ;
Who should arise and declare them to their children :

7 That they might set their hope in God,

And not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments :

8 And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation,
A generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not

stedfast with God.

9 The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows,
Turned back in the day of battle.

10 They kept not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in his law ;

11 And forgat his works, and his wonders that he had shewed them.

12 Marvellous things did he in the sight of their fathers,
In the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.


13 He divided the sea, and caused them to pass through ;
And he made the waters to stand as an heap.

14 In the daytime also he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a

light of fire.

15 He clave the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink as out of the

great depths.

16 He brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down

like rivers.

17 And they sinned yet more against him, by provoking the Most High in

the wilderness.

18 And they tempted God in their heart, by asking meat for their lust.

19 Yea, they spake against God ; they said. Can God furnish a table in the

wilderness ?

20 Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams

overflowed ;
Can he give bread also ? can he provide flesh for his people?

21 Therefore the Lord heard this, and was wroth :

So a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against
Israel ;

22 Because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation,

23 Though he had commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors

of heaven,

24 And had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of

the corn of heaven.
24 Man did eat angels' food : he sent them meat to the full.

26 He caused an east wind to blow in the heaven :
And by his power he brought in the north wind.

27 He rained flesh upon them as dust, and feathered fowls like as the sand of

the sea :

28 And he let it fall in the midst of their camp, round about their habitations.

29 So they did eat, and were well filled : for he gave them their own desire.

30 They were not estranged from their lust. But while their meat was yet

in their mouths,

31 The wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them,
And smote down the chosen men of Israel.

32 For all this they sinned still, and believed not for his wondrous works.

33 Therefore their days did he consume in vanity, and their years in trouble.

34 When he slew them, then they sought him :
And they returned and inquired early after God.

35 And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their


36 Nevertheless they did flatter with their mouth,
And they lied unto him with their tongues.

37 For their heart was not right with him, neither were they stedfast in his


38 But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed

them not :
Yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his

THAT god's ways ARE NOT OUR WAYS. 233

39 For he remembered that they were but flesh ;

A wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.

40 How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the

desert !

41 Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of


42 They remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from

the enemy.

43 How he had wrought his signs in Egypt, and his wonders in the field of

Zoan :

44 And had turned their rivers into blood ; and their floods, that they could

not drink.

45 He sent divers sorts of flies among them, which devoured them ;

And frogs, which destroyed them.

46 He gave also their increase unto the caterpillar, and their labour unto the


47 He destroyed their vines with hail, and their sycamore- trees with frost.

48 He gave up their cattle also to the hail, and their flocks to hot thunder-


49 He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and

By sending evil angels among them.

60 He made a way to his anger ; he spared not their soul from death,
But gave their life over to the pestilence :

61 And smote all the firstborn in Egypt ;

The chief of their strength in the tabernacles of Ham :

52 But made his own people to go forth like sheep.
And guided them in the wilderness like a flock.

53 And he led them on safely, so that they feared not :
But the sea overwhelmed their enemies.

64 And he brought them to the border of his sanctuary,

Even to this mountain, which his right hand had purchased.

55 He cast out the heathen also before them, and divided them an inheritance

by line.
And made the tribes of Israel to dwell in their tents.

56 Yet they tempted and provoked the most high God, and kept not his tes-

timonies :

67 But turned back, and dealt unfaithfully like their fathers :
They were turned aside like a deceitful bow.

68 For they provoked him to anger with their high places,
And moved him to jealousy with their graven images.

69 When God heard this he was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel :

60 So that he forsook the Tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which he placed

among men ;

61 And delivered his Strength into captivity, and his Glory into the enemy's


62 He gave his people over also unto the sword ; and was wroth with his in-



63 The fire consumed their young men : and their maidens were not given

to marriage.

64 Their priests fell by the sword ; and their widows made no lamentation.

65 Then the Lord awaked as one out of sleep,

And like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of vnne.

66 And he smote his enemies in the hinder part : he put them to a perpetual


67 Moreover, he refused the tabernacle of Joseph^ and chose not the tribe of

Ephraira :

68 But chose the tribe of Judah, the mount Zion which he loved.

69 And he built his sanctuaiy like high palaces,
Like the earth which he hath established for ever.

70 He chose David also his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds r

71 From following the ewes great with young

He brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance.

72 So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart ;
And guided them by the skilfulness of his hands.

" Maschil," referring to the music. " By Asaph," who wrote
Psalm Ixxiv.

See Jesus in the ship, teaching parables. Compare him
that day by the sea-side with the Singer here, whose words,
though neither new nor dark, are yet meant to convey hid-
den meanings. From verse 2, compared with Matt. xiii. 34,
35, we are led to conclude that Asaph here was directed
to foreshadow Messiah, the Prophet, disclosing the mind and
ways of God, where these were hidden from the gaze of the
common eye. There is throughout this Psalm a " concealed
background of instruction" (Hengst), intimated at verse 2, just
as Jesus, in speaking very obvious and plain things about the
seed and the sower, the leaven and the mustard-tree, meant all
the while to lead disciples to a " concealed background of in-
struction" — God's ways tovf ard man, and man s toward God.

We can easily believe that our Master, in using this Psalm,
would not hesitate to fisy, veice 3, " We have heard," identify-
ing himself ^A^th us ; for Le does so in Psalm xxii. 4, " Our
fathers," yours end mine ; and he does so in the Prayer he
taught us, " Our Fr.ther in heaven," mine and yours. On the
other hand, in raying, verse 4, " We will not hide them from
their children," is he not assuming the tone of Godhead ? for
it is the very same voice we hear in Gen. xviii. 19, " Shall I
hide from Abraham the thing that I do ?"

He brings before us most affectingly God's ways in contrast

THAT god's ways ARE NOT OUR WAYS. 235

to man's ! Thus, verse 5, Ood's mercies to the infant nation.
Prophets, priests, Levites, Moses, the Tabernacle, all are implied
in " He set up a testimony in Israel ;" and all was meant to
make permanent among them the knowledge and love of the
glorious Jehovah. This was an act of grace ; for verse 8 recalls
the perverseness of their fathers, "stubborn, rebellious, not
right, not stedfast with God." Truly, His ways are not our
ways ; and soon that after generation shewed their fathers' cor-
ruption, refusing to face Anak (ver. 9 ; see Num. xiii. 33, and
xiv. 1-4), and to go whither God would.

But, again, His guiding mercies from, Egypt onward (ver.
17). How numerous ! every one how marvellous ! all so unde-
served, all so constant ! The Red Sea divided, the cloud, the
smitten rock ! Yet they provoked the Most High !

Again, His un-upbraiding mercies (ver. 1 8-29). The history
of the manna shews this — instinct with wonders of Grace ! for
see how the everyday shower comes to a people most ungrate-
ful, and forgetful, and unbelieving ! " Bach man did eat," as
Exodus xvi. 16 ; each had his omer every day.

Again, His chastising mercies (ver. 30-33). He tries them
with fatherly chastenings, and for a time the wayward children
feel. But these, too, avail not. Shall he then leave them ?
No, he has more kindness in reserve for them.

Again, he sings of His long-suffering mercies (ver. 3-1-41).
Amid frowardness, hov/ very pitiful ! how tender ! how sym-
pathising !

" For Tie remembered tlM tliey ivere bid flesh,
A wind that passeih away, and cometh not again.
And all this ivhile they insulted him." (" Set a mark on Israel's Holy
One." — Hengst.)

But to deepen the contrast, he sings of his judgments on
their foes (ver. 42-53) ; and then of Canaan-mercies to them-
selves, (ver. 54- 58) ; and of Canaan-chastisements, (ver. 58-
64). What a God ! What a people ! How glorious in grace
the One ! How low sunk in sin the other ! How low must
mercy condescend in helping such a people !

But he has still another note to the praise of grace. His
mercies in the days of David (ver. 65 to the end), when the


Lord arose, resolved to throw down every barrier to his love,
smiting foes, and erecting his tabernacle on its fixed seat at Je-
rusalem, and giving to his people David, the type of a better
David yet to come —

" And he built his sanctuary, like lofty palaces ;
Like the eaHh, he has established it for ever.'' (Ver. 69.)

This is ever to be a renowned spot, " morally gigantic "
(Hengst.), and not to be as Shiloh, forsaken for ever. There
are great things to come, awaiting that very spot. The type
of the scene in David's days is not yet realised in full. At
verse 70, the Singer has his eye on what Ezekiel (xxxiv. 23)
has foretold, — the David and the Tabernacle of that coming
day, when our " Beloved," led up from the Bethlehem manger
to the throne, shall feed Israel and Jacob, with upright heart
and skilful hand — dealing prudently, exalted, extolled, and
very high. Grace shall reach its zenith then. Our earth shall
bask under the hot noonday sun of grace, grace no more
thwarted and slighted, no more forgotten and denied, no more
disbelieved and hated. Come quickly, Faithful and True
Witness ! Come quickly, and be again among us, not King
only, not Priest only, but
Messiah, the Prophet, shewing us that God's ways are not
our ways.


A Psalm of Asaph.

1 O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance !

Thy holy temple have they defiled ; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps.

2 The dead bodies of thy servants have they given to be meat unto the

fowls of the heaven,
The flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth.

3 Their blood have they shed like water round about Jerusalem ;
And there was none to bury them.

4 Wc are become a reproach to our neighbours,

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

5 How long, Lord? wilt thou be angry for ever? shall thy jealousy burn

like fire ?


6 Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee,
And upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name.

7 For they have devoured Jacob, and laid waste his dwelling place.

8 O remember not against us former iniquities :

Let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us : for we are brought very low.

9 Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name:
And deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name's sake

10 Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is their God ?
Let him be known among the heathen in our sight,

By the revenging of the blood of thy servants which is shed.

11 Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee !

According to the greatness of thy power, preserve thou those that are
appointed to die ;

12 And render unto our neighbours sevenfold into their bosom
Their reproach, wherewith they have reproached thee, O Lord.

13 So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever :
We will shew forth thy praise to all generations.

Another of the " Asaph-Psalms" — the cry, evidently, of
widowed Zion in the ear of the righteous Judge ; such a cry
as our Head (Luke xviii. 7) describes the Church at large as
raising in the Latter Days. It suits alike the Church in Israel
in Asaph's time, and the Church scattered over earth in these
Last Days, and not less will it suit Israel in the days of their
final tribulation, (Zech. xiv. 1, &c.).

It tells of martyrdom (1-3), with a remnant left behind,
appealing to the Lord with somewhat of the awful power we
feel to be in the cry of the souls under the altar (Rev. vi. 9) —
q. cl., " Pour out thy wrath on Antichrist (see 2 Thess. i. 8),
and on the nations that know thee not and that persecute thy

" Even as they poured out the blood of thy servants." (Ver. 3.)

When they confess (ver. 8) "former iniquities," is not this in
the lips of Israel an acknowledgment of their forefathers' unbe-
lief, when Jerusalem rang with — " His blood be upon us and
upon our children V It includes this, no doubt, and their
idolatry, too, presenting the long-expected cry spoken of in
Lev. xxvi. 45, on hearing which the Lord shall arise, and as
" they are brought very low," shall fulfil Deut. xxxiii. 1 6,when
he seeth that their power is gone. "Let the avenging of thy
servant's blood be known," (ver. 10).


When (ver. 11) we hear them plead, " Let the sighing of
the prisoner come before thee," we call to mind Manasseh in
his Ass}Tian dungeon. We seem to see Israel taking Manasseh 's
position, and obtaining Manasseh's wondrous pardon. Nor
are they like IManasseh only, but are, besides, " children of
death," TMy\t2r\ ""^Zl, that is, exposed to a continuing death ;
*0T r\iy\'i2r\ is more than n)12 just as " vex^uffig'^ is more than
" 6avarog" (see Beza on 2 Cor. iv. 10). And then there is " the
reproach" that lay upon them, the essence of which (like the
" reproach of Egypt," Josh. v. 9, Num. xiv. 1 3) had been,
" Is God able to accomplish his promises ? Where is their
Ood?" (Ver. 36.)

Melody from freed souls bursts on our ear at verse 1 3. The
old pastures, Sharon, Carmel, Bashan, are repossessed by the
long-lost sheep ; and this is the burden of the praise of these
ransomed of the Lord, returning to Zion with songs and ever-
lasting joy :

"And we are thy people, and sheep of thy pasture .'
We vill give thee praise for evermore ■'
We iriU record thy praise to all generations ! "

We, too, belonging to the Church at large, shall join in this
hallelujah, and take part in this eternal song to the faithful
Jehovah — that same incarnate Jehovah who once wept on the
Mount of Olives, over Jerusalem ready to become heaps. With
them, therefore, let us join in raising this

Cry of widowed Zion to the Righteous Judge.


To the chief Musician. Upon Shoshannim-Eduth. A rsalm of Asaph.

1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock !
Thou that dwellest between the cherubim, shine forth !

2 Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh,
Stir up thy strength and come and save us.

3 Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine ; and we shall he saved.

4 O Lord God of hosts, how long wilt thou be angry against the prayer of

thy people ?

5 Thou feedest them with the bread of tears : and givest them tears to drink

Online LibraryAndrew A. (Andrew Alexander) BonarChrist and His Church in the Book of Psalms → online text (page 22 of 42)