Andrew A. (Andrew Alexander) Bonar.

Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms online

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" He (and not ourselves) made us
Bis people, and the flock lohom he feeds." (Ver. 3.)

And of this psalm for all nations, this thanksgiving for redemp-
tion, this utterance of every heart and lip on earth and in
heaven, this song of the whole family of God, of the glorified
from their place, and the saved nations on earth in theirs, the
burden is that old and well-known ascription to Jehovah —

" Jehovah is good — (1 John iv. 8, ' God is love).'
His mercy endurethfor ever,"

sung at the altar long ago, 2 Chron. v. 13, and vii. 3, and 1
Chron. xvi. 34, Ezra iii. 11, and Jer. xxxiii. IJ. To this they
add —

" And his truth is from generation to generation."

He has fulfilled all he ever spoke ! He will continue for ever
fulfilling all he has begun to fulfil ! He who is " full of grace
and truth," is no doubt the leader of this song (Psa. xxii. 22),
though He be not mentioned specially ; and it is just such a
burst of rapturous delight and gratitude as will respond to
the invitation from the throne. Rev. xix. 5-7. We therefore
call it —

2'he heartfelt thanh-igiving of the Great Congregation led by



A Psalm of David.

1 I WILL sing of mercy and judgment : unto thee, O Lord, will I sing.

2 I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come

unto me ?
I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.

3 I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes :

I hate the work of them that turn aside ; it shall not cleave to me.

4 A froward heart shall depart from me : I will not know a wicked person.

5 Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut oft'.
Him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.

6 Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land.
That they may dwell with me :

He that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me.

7 He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house :
He that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight.

8 I will early destroy all the wicked of the land ;

That I may cut off all wicked doers from the city of the Lord.

We descend into the valley again. The Righteous One is before
us. proposing to himself the rules of rectitude that shall be ex-
hibited in his kingdom. We may suppose him pacing the valley
of Jehoshaphat, while still only on his way to the kingdom. The
Psalm that follows (cii.) lets us hear his complaints, and shews
us his comforts ; and the series proceeds, till we reach the end
of the cviii., where we rest under the banner of victory.

The first note of the Psalm guides us to Jehovah's true cha-
racter, the grace and yet the holiness of his blessed name.
" Mercy and judgment I icill suty .'"

This is Israel's " Arma virumque cano." Israel's theme of
praise is never man, but always Jehovah, It is " A Psalm of
David ;" and therefore let us take it as David's utterance
when anticipating the establishment of his throne in Jerusa-
lem — but as typical of David's Son, when he shall receive that
kingdom foretold in Isa. ix, 7, as well as now while he presides
over the Church, which is " His house," (Heb. iii. 6).

The whole Psalm may be used by a believer. When he re-
calls " that night to be remembered" in his history, his time
of escape from bondage, he will sing of " mercy and judgment,"
and not less when he reviews the way God has led him since,

A new si'iies.


mingling chastisements with forbearance. And, then, his de-
sires and his resohitions as to the way he is to follow, resemble
what is here breathed out by his Head. Still, it is of Christ
that every clause speaks most fully. David could use it only
in the measure in which a believer can.

" The 'perfect way," in verse 2, reminds us of faithful Abra-
ham (Gen. XV. ]), whose seed, Christ, obeys what was then
enjoined ; nor less are we reminded by nbpti^J^, " / will deal
prudently," or " walk wisely," of David, in 1 Sam. xviii. ] 4,
15, exhibiting a type which was more than fulfilled by him of
whom Isaiah (liii. 1 3) has sung in lofty strains. If he asks,
like one wearying for a friend that seems to tarry, " When wilt
thou come unto me ?" it is no more than the language which
David would be inclined to use in his wanderings, and even at
Hebron, when still the kingdom was only half his own — " When
wilt thou give me my promised kingdom ? when wilt thou come
to one with that glory wherewith I am to come to my own ?"

He sees that day as if already come, and tells how he shall rule,
from verses 3-7. May we not say that the germs of the Book
of Proverbs are here — germs unfolded in the sunshine of Solo-
mon s reign ? There can be no doubt of the similarity in many
characteristic expressions (even such as using the word '•iiti^'^p,
ver. 5, occurring nowhere else again but Pro v. xxx. 10) ; and,
indeed, these verses sketched what that great book of practical
wisdom expands, the rules of holy living, by which every subject
of Christ's kingdom shall be guided — the principles of Divine
jurisprudence that shall be applied to the details of govern-
ment in every province and in every house. With truth to
which Absalom was a stranger, he could say, " Oh that I were
made judge in the land, that any man that hath any suit or
cause might come to me, and I would do him justice," (2 Sam.
XV. 4), Eising early and standing beside the way of the gate,
Absalom feigned to be eager for the interests of justice and
of his fellow-men, even as Antichrist can still pretend ; but
Christ shall sit on the throne of judgment for ever, the true
antitype of every faithful judge who, at morning, sat at the gate —

From morning lo morning will I destroy all the icicked of the land,
Cutting off from the city of the Lord all the workers of iniquity.


Terrible words ! the words of that same Jesus who, in expound-
ing on the Mount of Beatitudes the law which he came to
obey, declared his purpose to cast off all unholy pretenders to
his favour, " Ye that work iniquity, depart from me," (Matt.
vii. 23). And thus shall he sit on " the throne of David" (Isa.
ix. 7), to order it and to settle it, and to rule earth at large.
Then shall it be well known, that to " sing of mercy and
judgment" (ver. 1), was to sing of Christ ruling " his own
house." And thus the Psalm presents us with

The Righteous Ones rules of holy government.


A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed, and poureth out his complaint before the

1 Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my cry come unto thee.

2 Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble ;

Incline thine ear unto me : in the day when I call answer me speedily.

3 For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned as an


4 My heart is smitten, and withered like grass : so that I forget to eat my


5 By reason of the voice of my groaning my bones cleave to my skin.

6 I am like a pelican of the wilderness : I am like an owl of the desert.

7 I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top.

8 Mine enemies reproach me all the day ;

And they that are mad against me are sworn against me.

9 For I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping,

10 Because of thine indignation and thy wrath : for thou hast lifted me up,

and cast me down.

11 My days are like a shadow that declineth ; and I am withered like grass.

12 But thou, O Lord, shalt endure for ever ;
And thy remembrance unto all generations.

13 Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion,

For the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come.

14 For thy servants take pleasure m her stones, and favour the dust thereof.

15 So the heathen shall fear the name of the Lord,
And all the kings of the earth thy glory.

16 When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory.

17 He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.

18 This shall be written for the generation to come :

And the people which shall be created shall praise the Lord.

19 For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary ;
From heaven did the Lord behold the earth ;

300 PSALM cii. — Messiah's comi'Laint and comforts

20 To hear the groaning of the prisoner ; to loose tliose that are appointed

to death ;

21 To declare the name of the Lord in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem ;

22 When the people are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the


23 He weakened my strength in the way ; he shortened my days.

24 I said, O my God, take rae not away in the midst of my days!
Thy years are throughout all generations :

25 Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth : and the heavens are

the work of thy hands.

26 They shall perish, but thou shalt endure : yea, all of them shall wax old

like a garment ;
As a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed :

27 But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.

28 The children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be estab-

lished before thee.

The Greek lawgiver, Zaleucus, exemjDlified his own laws, even
in their sorest penalties, by bearing half of his son's justly-de-
served doom; and men read of the deed, and praise it. But our
Lawgiver, God over all, has cast into the shade every such act
of homage to law by the infinitude of suffering he in our nature
endured, to honour the law of heaven and save the doomed
transgressors. The twinkle of a taper bears more proportion
to the blaze of the ever-burning sun, than this one act of
Zaleucus, dictated by partiality for his own family, does to the
honour rendered to law and justice by our Divine Redeemer,
out of love to that holy law. In this Psalm we may see him,
of whom Psa. ci. sang, giving honour to those rules of rectitude
which there he proclaimed. For here we see the Righteous
One, the Lord Jesus, laying the foundation of his kingdom of
redeemed ones, by fully satisfying the demands of justice in
their room.

It is Christ, in the days of his humiliation, that is before us.
The title has been thus versified,

" This is the mourner s prayer when he is faint,
And to the Eternal Father breathes his plaint," (Keble).
The simplicity of the Hebrew is most expressive — " The prayer
of the needy one luhen he is overwhelmed, and poureth out
his complaint before the Lord." The "needy one" is Christ,
who, " though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, that
we through his poverty might become rich." A believer, also,


can take it up, for much of it expresses what the members may
often feel while taking the same view of the Father's face that
Christ sought.

His doleful complaint occupies from 1 to 1 1 verses, resem-
bling closely the deep pathos of Psa. xxii. Many of the allu-
sions add depth to the words, conveying the idea, that all that
was ever sorrowful in other men is to be found in this one " Man
of Sorrows." Hannah's and David's sorrow, that took away all
appetite for food (1 Sam. i. 7 ;* 2 Sam xii. 17), and even Saul's
blank horror (1 Sam. xxviii. 20), are to be found in him —

" Ml/ heart is smitten, and withered like grass,
So that Ihaveforcjotten to eat my bread" (Ver. 4.)

At such cost He purchased for believers on his name the pri-
vilege of " eating their meat with gladness and singleness of
heart, praising God," as exemplified in the men of Pentecost
(Acts ii. 46). He is like " the pelican of the wilderness''
(sometimes seen at the Lake of Galilee, or by the shore of the
Waters of Merom,)when it has left its companions in their desert
resorts, and lingers alone, drooping and dying ; or like " the owl
in desolate places," sometimes haunting ruins, sometimes sitting
on some hollow tree forlorn, even at noon-day, as travellers have
observed in Palestine (see Narrative of Mission to the Jeius,
chap. V.) ; or, like some solitary sparrow, separated from the
happy company of its fellows, mournful on the house-top.f
He is like Job in the ashes, tears mingling with his drink,
cast away, or cast down low now, and yet once lifted high (vers.
9, 10), his days like the shadow.

But, as an angel strengthened him in Gethsemane, so the
thought of his Father's purposes supports him here. At verse
] 2 he looks upward, as if he said, " But, Father ! I do not

* Daniel's, too, chap. x. 3. Some have supposed Daniel the writer of this
Psalm, the Holy Spirit using him in the days of the captivity, as a fit penman
for a subject that touched upon many circumstances like his own.

f Waterston, the naturalist, however, fixes on the " Passer solitarius," which
is known in Egypt and Syria, and in the south of Italy. This bird is like a
thrush in size, shape, habits, and has a sweet plaintive note ; but never asso-
ciates with others of its species, not even with its own mate, except in breeding
time. It is seen sitting solitary on house-tops, warbling, it may be, its plain-
tive song.

Tlie contents.


distrust thee (comp. Psa. xxii. 3) ; thou art to me the same as
from all eternity ; thou art Jehovah ;

" Thy memorial is from generation to generation" (Ver. 13.)

That is, thy name manifested by deeds of love, and left on re-
cord for after ages, never changes.

" It is thou that shalt arise (QJlpJ^ ^n^

Online LibraryAndrew A. (Andrew Alexander) BonarChrist and His Church in the Book of Psalms → online text (page 28 of 42)