Andrew A. (Andrew Alexander) Bonar.

Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms online

. (page 26 of 42)
Online LibraryAndrew A. (Andrew Alexander) BonarChrist and His Church in the Book of Psalms → online text (page 26 of 42)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

And thy wrath, up to the measure of thy fear ?

Who knows, or cares for, thy wrath in a manner suitable to
what is demanded by thy perfection, O to knoAV it so as to
be led thereby to wisdom —

" Cause us to hioiv (it), numbering our days !
That we may bring our heart to wisdom.'"

(c) But in verses 13-17, he sings of The days of the Res-
titution of all things — days when " the Lord returns," that is,
" turns back from his wrath," and comforts his sen^ants — days,
when the dark night is past, and when " at morning" {lip'^2,
ver. 14) the Lord satiates his own, so that they are evermore
rejoicing — days like what Jesus speaks of, John xvi, 20-22,
that make anguish no more remembered — days when the
Lord's work appears in power, and his glory is unveiled — days,
when the " beauty (Dyj, see Psa. xxvii. 4,*) of the Lord," his
well-pleased look, rests on all his people, and on earth at
large. Of such days the times of David and Solomon were a
type, and the times of Immanuel on earth and his apostles
were so far a specimen. But the fulness is still a thing hoped
for, to be brought us at the Lord's appearing.

The meeker than Moses, Christ on earth, could use this Psalm ^Z^., ^^ ""«■
in sympathy with us. As in Psa. cii. 3, 10, 11, he mourns
over sin, and the results of sin, which he by imputation was
made to share, so here he might speak as one of us throughout.

This very ancient Psalm, " The prayer of Moses, the man of
God," has for its burden
Man's sin and frailty leading to the cry for the better days.

* The Targum has here — " Let the sweetness of the garden of Eden be upon





1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

2 I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress :
My God ; in him will I trust.

3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the

noisome pestilence.

4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust :
His truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night ;
Nor for the arrow that flieth by day ;

6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness :
Nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand ;
But it shall not come nigh thee.

8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold, and see the reward of the wicked.

9 Because thou hast made the Lord which is my refuge, even the Most High,

thy habitation ;

10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy


11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy


12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a


13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder :

The young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.

14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him :
I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.

15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him :

I will be with him in trouble ; I will deliver him, and honour him.

16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

" Incarnate God ! the soul that knows
Thy name's mysterious power.
Shall dwell in undisturbed repose
And fear the trying hour."

The Messiah, of whom former Psalms have sung, and to whom
every sweet singer of Israel had regard, is here prominently
before us. In contrast to the utter failure of man in himself,
here is Messiah's safety in his God. Besides (in the wonted
manner of all these holy songs for the Church in all ages),
Messiah's seed are included, who, though as reeds in them-
selves, are as the cedars of God in their Head.


The imagery is taken from Israel's history. Thus, verse 1 ai
speaks of " the Almighty," the " ShaddaV who spoke to Abra-
ham, Gen. xvii. 1 ; verse 5, the Passover night, and David's escape
from the pestilence ; and the same again, in another aspect, in
verses 6, 7, 8. Not to speak of the reference in verse 2 to the
Tabernacle and its Holy of Holies, verses 3, 4, allusion is made
to Jehovah as the eagle (Deut. xxxiii. 12) who bore up Israel.
Not less so verses 11-13, where the scorpions of the desert,
and the beasts of " the waste, howling wilderness" are in view,
as well as the flints and the pit-falls of the desert, needing an
angel-hand to do the service done by the angel of the covenant
in the Cloudy Pillar. Even verse ] 5 abounds in such refer-
ences ; the "calling" and "trouble" resemble Psa. Ixxxi. 7,
where Israel's distresses are the theme ; the " delivering," too,
and then the "glorifying" remind us of Israel made glorious
in the eyes of the nations ; while the " length of days" sends
us back to such promises as Deut. xi. 21.

The Psalm, then, may be viewed as gathering round Messiah
and his seed all the Lord's gracious and glorious interpositions
in behalf of his own from the beginning ; and all the Lord's
promises. It is Christ who realises verse 1 to the full, (as
Satan seems to have known when he used this Psalm in the
temptation, Luke iv. 10, 11) —

" He wlio sits in the covert of the Most Iligli
Shall spend the night {i. e., his darkest hours) under the shade of the

Almighty ;
Saying to Jehovah, ' He is my Refuge,'' £c"

Let US simply notice that "ip5< may very naturally be rendered
as the present part, " He sits, saying to Jehovah." Christ's
people, in their measure, may be thus described ; for does
not faith confidingly " sit in the covert of the Most High,"
going in by the rent vail ? And in the measure they so do, in
the same measure they claim and they enjoy the blessings after-
wards set forth. It is interesting to notice in verse 6 the 121
and the 2tpp which Hosea xiii. 14 alludes to, when telling that
at the resurrection morn he will be plague and destruction to
death. The putrid plague-fever often comes on in the night
while the patient is asleep ; the solstitial disease seizes in
heat of harvest upon a man in open air, and cuts him off, per-

Christ and lii:


haps ere evening. It is safety from perils like these that is
spoken of All these blessings are derived from and rest on
verse 1, the position of Him that claims them " under the
coveH of the Most High." Hence, verse 9 brings this pro-
minently into view again, and in the Hebrew the form of it is
peculiar. The speaker says,

" Because thou, Lord, aH my confidence /"
and forthwith a voice from heaven* seems to reply, " Yes,

" Tliou hast made the Most High thy habitation." (Psa. xc. 1.)
And that same voice utters the blessing onward to the end. It
is the Lord's own voice, for verse 14 has the words of Deut.
vii. 7 —

" Because he has set his love on me,

Iherefore tdll I deliver him.

I toill set him on high

Because he has hiown my name."

The tenor of the Psalm reminds us of John xvii., when the
Lord prays down his own privileges and blessings on his dis-
ciples. How like is this last clause to John xvii. 6-25, where
the Incarnate Son describes his disciples (ver. 14) by that
same feature, " They have known thee."' The " length of
days," in verse 15, con-esponds to Isa. liii. 10, "He shall
prolong his days," but tells here of resun-ection and eternal life
to Messiah's seed as well as to himself.
One thing still let us notice —

" / tvill shew him my salvation."
This salvation is the full redemption — all the glory purchased
by the Saviour as well as all the grace, " Salvation" is here
used as in Psa. 1. 23, in Rom. xiii. 11, 1 Thess. v. 8, Heb. ix.
18, 1 Peter i. 5, and many other passages. It tells of the day
that is yet to come, when Rev, xii. 10 shall be sung, and all
the unknown glory of the New Jerusalem and its King shall
burst on our view. " All these promises," says Bishop Horner,
" have already been made good to our gracious Head and Re-
presentative. Swift fly the intermediate years, and rise that
long-expected morning, when He who is gone to prepare a

* " A voice from heaven," remarks Tholuck, " seems to accompany the pro-
mise of God."


place for us shall come again and take us to himself, that
where he is we may be also I"

Augustine speaks of this Psalm as, " Psalmus iste de quo
Dominum nostrum Jesus Christum tentator tentare ausus est."
And ^\ e may say of it, that it exhibits
More than Israel's blessings resting on Messiah and his seed.


A Psalm or Song for the sabbath-day.

1 It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord,
And to sing praises unto thy name, O Most High :

2 To shew forth thy lovingliiuduess in the morning, and thy faithfulness

every night,

3 Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery.
Upon the harp, with a solemn sound.

4 For thou. Lord, hast made me glad through thy work :
I will triumph in the works of thy hands.

5 O Lord, how great are thy works ! and thy thoughts are very deep.

6 A brutish man knoweth not, neither doth a fool understand this.

7 When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity

do flourish ;
It is that they shall be destroyed for ever.

8 But thou,- Lord, art Most High for evermore.

9 For, lo, thine enemies, O Lord, for, lo, thine enemies shall perish ;
All the workers of iniquity shall be scattered.

10 But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn :
I shall be anointed with fresh oil.

11 Mine eye also shall see my desire on mine enemies.

And mine ears shall hear my desire of the wicked that rise up against me.

12 The righteous shall flourish like the palm-tree : he shall grow like a cedar

in Lebanon.

13 Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts

of our God.

14 They shall still bring forth fruit in old age ; they shall be fat and flourish-


15 To shew that the Lord is upright. He is my rock, and there is no unright-

eousness in him.

When we have arrived at the eternal Sabbath, this " Song or
Psalm for the Sabbath-day " shall be enjoyed in full. In other
words, when the last words of Psalm xci. are accomplished, " /
will shew him my salvation," then shall this Psalm have its
most fitting place, sung, as it shall be, in the stillness and calm


of the eternal day, when works are over — works of creation,
works of redemption, aye, and works of providence, too — when
Pharaohs are sunk in the deep, and when no sound but of psal-
tery and harp breaks upon Sabbatic quiet — sung, too, by the
Lord ofihe Sabbath, not only at the beginning of his " glorious
rest," but oftentimes, as the ages to come roll on — sung in
memory of the past ! Glorious, glorious anthem ! taken up by
every member of Christ, by every harper present in that con-
gregation of the saved, by every sweet singer of the new song !
The Chaldee paraphrast ascribes the original to " the first man
Adam," forgetting that he could not refer to " ten-stringed
instruments," nor to "Lebanon." Jewish writers generally
refer it to Moses, in whose lips certainly the reference to the
"palm-tree," such as he might see at Elim, and to the "cedar
on Lebanon," and that goodly mountain he longed to see, would
be quite appropriate. It is handed down for the Church in all
time, whatever may have been the circumstances in which it
was first given, and whoever may have been the penman.
The tiienies of It is tuucd, we noticcd, to the strains of the eternal Sabbath.*

the Pbalni. ... .

But still, it is no less suitable for every Sabbath now, inasmuch
as every Sabbath speaks in type of the " rest remaining for the
people of God." A redeemed soul will sing it gladly as he
awakes on the Lord's day ; our day of rest on which Jesus
finished his work of resurrection, and which he seems, by his
own act, to have set apart as " The Lord's day."' The dawn
of day, after dark night, the dawn of day without toil be-
fore him, cannot but seem a sweet type, or emblem of the
Lord's " lovingkindness" appearing in salvation after a night
of sin ; while the bright day that follows, with its hours of en-
joyment and peace, presents as true an emblem and specimen
of the everlasting "faithfulness" that upholds his lot, fulfilling
all the promises that mercy gave. And hence, at morning
(perhaps over the morning lamb on the altar), " He shews forth
God's loviny -kindness," and at evenings, (Heb. /IvvS) (it may
be, over the evening lamb,) he praises the Lord for realising
all his expectations, proving himself a "faithful" God. He
uses every instrument of praise that tabernacle or temple could

* The Talmurl is quoted h\ some writers as entitling it, " For the future age,
all of which shall he Sabbatli."


furnish, aye, adding one to all the other instruments, namely,
]i^iirT, " solemn heart-musing," to accompany the harp. For
this seems the only plain sense of f^'^SH v^. It is upon the
heart-strings, so to speak, as well as hm'p-stvings.

But what thoughts are these that call forth such emotions?
Verses 4, 5, 6, are the answer. The Most High's D^':'y9, Q''U^5?P-
n'll^nD, "works, deeds, thoughts" — his plans, and his plans ac-
complished, in creation, redemption, providence. The "brutish
ma7^," the carnal man, "a man-hrute'" (Alex.), understands
not these ; but the Lord's spiritual ones do, beholding his glory
in every act, and perceiving height, depth, length, and breadth
of love, as well as holiness, in them all.

One of these mysterious plans and mysterious works of God
has ever been his dealings with his foes. He lets them prosper
long. But the Sabbath (every Sabbath that leads us to the
sanctuary where we consider iheir latter end, and see persecu-
tors buried in their Red Sea), and especially the great Sabbath
that fulfils all, comes to remove the veil from this part of the
Lord's ways. The Lord is seen in the end all the more illus-
triously exalted ;

" But thou, Lord, art height (Di")Q)./w'' evermore ! " (Ver. 8.)

Thou art found exceedingly exalted, nay, placed on the pinnacle
of exaltation — height, or exaltation in the abstract !

Another of God's wondrous ways has been the trials of his
own. But the Sabbath clears up these too. Indeed, every
Sabbath gives a specimen of this, when the godly worshipper
goes forth to the sanctuary, anticipating the refreshments of
the final rest, and saying as the day advances —

" But my liorn slialt thou exalt as the unicorn (or reem) ;
I am anointed with fresh oil." (Ver. 10.)

These anticipations, no doubt, are only foretastes of the enjoy-
ments and revelations of the eternal Sabbath; but they are
tokens of its bliss. That clause, "anointed lu'ith fresh oil,'^
is peculiar, the word being '•/i ^3, a term used in Numbers and
Leviticus {e.g., ii. 4, 5), for "soaked in oil," copiously drenched
in oil. And this abundance of refreshment, this overflowing
of anointing oil, leads on the singer to other refreshings, as
plentiful and as desirable —


" Tlie righteous shall flourish as the palm-tree*
He shall groxo like a cedar on Lebanon,''^ (his root fixed).

Is this the Lord Jesus? Is He the Righteous One ? It may-
be, he is referred to as the model Righteous One, the only true
full specimen of God's palms and cedars, though his mem-
bers in him come in for their share. Indeed, is not He the
true Adam, who takes up this Sabbath-song with all his
heart and soul ? On His resurrection morning, and on the
morning of the resurrection of his own, it suits him more than
any other.

If Sabbaths now are days of grace to men, what shall that
great Sabbath be ? what shall saints be then ! If now it
be said,

" They are planted in the house of the Lo7'd I
They flourish in the courts of our God!" (Ver. 13.)

how much more when the "house of God" is the "palace" of
the Great King ! — when the earthly courts are superseded by
the heavenly, even as Israel's typical courts were supplanted
by the spiritual.

In " old age" we expect such fearers of the Lord to be found
like Simeon and Anna ; but what shall be their growth after
ages on ages spent in the eternal Sabbath in the kingdom !
"Fat and flourishing .'"fertile and vigorous, as those described
by Isaiah Ixv. 20. (Fry,)

All this — ruin to the enemies of God, everlasting blessedness
and increase to his own — shall prove the truth of what in all
ages had been sung, in confidence of faith, Ps. xxv. 8. It shall
" Sheic that the Lord is upright." (Ver. 15.)

It shall prove that Jehovah's ways, as well as his words, are
all on the side of holiness. It shall be permitted to each indi-
vidual soul in the kingdom to appropriate Him as his own —

* Jarchi says, " bearing abundant fruit," as the palm yields its precious
dates. Tholuck quotes from Schubert's Journey — " The open country wears a
sad aspect now ; the soil is rent and dissolves at every break of wind ; the green
of the meadows is almost entirely gone. The palm-tree alone preserves its
verdant roof of leaves in the drought and heat." Nor are we to forget the
growth of the tall palm, a growth that can be marked. In the case of the cedar,
its roots and its age, as well as its strength, are all to be considered.


" He is my rock" (as the Head said in Psa. Ixxxix. 26), " and
no unrighteousness is in Him."

Such is the close of this Sabbath-song, which has been en-
titled by Dr Allix, "A prophecy of the happiness of the Jews
in the great Sabbath of which Paul speaks in Hebrews iv.,"
but which might better still be described as

The Righteous Ones Sabhath-song, anticipating fnal rest
and prosperity.


1 The Lord reigneth ! He is clothed with majesty !

The Lord is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself:
The world also is established, that it cannot be moved.

2 Thy throne is established of old : thou art from everlasting.

3 The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice ;
The floods lift up their waves.

4 The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters,
Yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.

6 Thy testimonies are very sure : holiness becometh thine house, O Lord,
for ever.

From the lips of unfallen Adam might have come the joyful The theme.
exclamation, " The Lord is King I" It was true then, yet
true no less when he looked on creation fallen, and himself and
his posterity I'uined. " God reigneth \" was the rainbow of
hope. So, also, in every age, God's people have called this
truth to remembrance, and have been of good cheer amid frown-
ing providences. But still, their King was invisible, and his
plan of government involved in obscurity. Our Psalm refers
to all this, but to more besides.

We have heard the Sabbath-song of the redeemed in the
day of " The Rest that remaineth." Now, the Eternal Sab-
bath is contemporaneous with the Kingdom. The saints glori-
fied shall enter on the enjoyment of the former in all its mani-
fold phases of positive rest ; the saints still on earth shall have
their share in the latter when it comes, reigned over by the
reigning saints, and by the King to whom these are kings (Rev.
i. 6). This is the theme of the Psalm before us.

282 PSALM xciii. — Messiah's kingdom stii-ling

When the Lord by a prophet anointed Jehu king, we are
told how those around him blew the trumpet, saying, " Jehu
reigneth !" (2 Kings ix, 13, ^bD as here.) So the Lord's
anointed Messiah is proclaimed king by every voice and heart
in his dominions —

" The Lord is King /"
His robes are not mere show, nor is his strength merely the
power of armies attending him.

" He is clothed icith majesty !
The Lord is clothed !
He hath girded himsel/ icith might .'"

Nor is this all that is to furnish matter of wonder and delight
and praise. This enthronization of Jehovah in our nature has
intimate connection with our world's felicity.

" The loorld also is established ;
It does not totter T (See Psalm Ixxxiii. 5.)

That is, if we may be allowed to give a paraphrase of the

" It is made stedfast now, after all its shakings ;
It rests from all its commotions, and totters no more.""

The throne of Jehovah (once seen in Exod. xxiv. 10 for a few
hours), is now stretched over earth, according to God's ancient
purpose, and as they look up to it, they sing,
" Thy throne was established of old,
Thou thyself art from eternity.'''

From the height of that immovable throne, the saints, in com-
pany with their King, look down on enemies made their foot-
stool. They sing of the past — how these foes gathered together
— " The floods, Lord, lifted, up their voice ;" but in a mo-
ment the universe was witness of their impotency —

" TIieLord is glorious in the lieight {iv h'^ieroTc, Lukeii. 14,
xix. 38),
More than the voice of majestic waters,
Than billows of the sea."

The Kingdom has come, the Kingdom so often prayed for, so
ardently desired, so long expected ; and its coming has realised
every hope.


" Thy testimonies are most true." (Ver. 5).

Our Joshua (Josh, xxiii. ] 4), can call all to witness that not one
thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord God
spoke, (compare Rev. xxi. 5, and xxii 6). All the glorious
things spoken, and all his promises, have been verified, himself
being "faithful and true," (Rev. xix. 11). And the character-
istics of his happy government are unlike those that marked
all former dominions on earth. His palace, or " house," (see
Psa, xcii. 1 5), is not like the gay, loose courts of earthly kings
— holiness is there ; it is holiness only that would be suitable
there. And, it is added,

" Lord (all this shall remain) to eternity^

The Septuagint translators felt there was such a real connec- connection
tion between this and the foregoing Psalm, that they entitle ceding i'»aini
it, " E/'s rriv riiii^av toZ (sa(3^arov ots xccTujzigTai r] jr\" " For the Sab-
bath-day, when the earth has been settled" — referring, evidently,
to the title of Psa. xcii., " A song for the Sabbath-day." But
we prefer describing it with a reference to Rev. xi. 15, as being
Messiah's hingdom stilling the uproar of the nations.


1 O Lord God, to whom vengeance belongeth,

O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew thyself!

2 Lift up thyself, thou judge of the earth ! render a reward to the proud.

3 Lord, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph ?

4 How long shall they utter and speak hard things ?
And all the workers of iniquity boast themselves ?

5 They break in pieces thy people, Lord, and afflict thine heritage.

6 They slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless.

7 Yet they say, The Lord shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob

regard it.

8 Understand, ye brutish among the people : and ye fools, when will ye be

wise ?

9 He tliat planted the ear, shall he not hear ? he that formed the eye, shall

he not see?

10 He that chastiseth the heathen, shall not he correct ?
He that teacheth man knowledge, shall not he know ?

11 The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity.


12 Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out

of thy law ;

13 That thou majest give him rest from the days of adversity,
Until the pit be digged for the wicked.

14 For the Lord will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his in-


15 But judgment shall return unto righteousness : and all the upright in heart

shall follow it.

16 Who will rise up for me against the evildoers ?

Or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity ?

17 Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence.

18 When I said, My foot slippeth ! thy mercy, O Lord, held me up.

19 In the multitude of my thoughts, within me thy comforts delight my soul.

20 Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth

mischief by a law ?

21 They gather themselves together against the soul of the righteous,
And condemn the innocent blood.

22 But the Lord is my defence ; and my God is the rock of my refuge.

23 And he shall bring upon them their own iniquity.

And shall cut them off in their own wickedness; yea, the Lord our God
shall cut them off.

vuh*the'^re"°" "^^^ Kingdom, then, and its King, have been anticipated, or

Online LibraryAndrew A. (Andrew Alexander) BonarChrist and His Church in the Book of Psalms → online text (page 26 of 42)