Andrew A. (Andrew Alexander) Bonar.

Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms online

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that hears that song, shall he not be counted a blessed man ?
a thousand times blessed ? But the man himself shall cast his
crown of bliss at the feet of his Lord — " Bless the Lord, O my
soul ! " ending as he began this

Song of a redeemed, one by the Redeemer's side.


1 Bless the Lord , O my soul !

O Lord my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and

2 Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment :
Who stretchest out the heavens like ii curtain :

3 Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters :

Who maketh the clouds his chariots : who walketh upon the wings of the
wind :

4 Who maketh his angels spirits ; his ministers a flaming fire :

5 Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for


6 Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment : the waters stood above

the mountains.

7 At thy rebuke they fled ; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away.

8 They go by to the mountains ; they go down by the valleys.
Unto the place which thou hast founded for them.


9 Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over ;
That they turn not again to cover the earth.

10 He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills.

11 They give drink to every beast of the field : the wild asses quench their


12 By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing

among the branches.

13 He watereth the hills from his chambers : the earth is satisfied with the

fruit of thy works.

14 He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of

That he may bring forth food out of the earth,

15 And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to

And bread which strengtheneth man's heart.

16 The trees of the Lord are full of sap, the cedars of Lebanon which he

hath planted ;

17 Where the birds make their nests: as for the stork, the fir-trees are her


18 The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats ; and the rocks for the


19 He appointed the moon for seasons : the sun knoweth his going down.

20 Thou makest darkness, and it is night, wherein all the beasts of the forest

do creep forth.

21 The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God.

22 The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in

their dens.

23 Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening.

24 O Lord, how manifold are thy works !

In wisdom hast thou made them all : the earth is full of thy riches.

25 So is this great and wide sea.

Wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts.

26 There go the ships : there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play


27 These wait all upon thee, that thou mayest give them their meat in due


28 That thou givest them they gather : thou openest thine hand, they are

filled with good. -^

29 Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled :

Thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.

30 Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created : and thou renewest the

face of the earth.

31 The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever : the Lord shall rejoice in

his works.

32 He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth : he toucheth the hills, and

they smoke.

33 I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live : I will sing praise to my God

while I have my being.


34 My nieclitatiou ot him shall be sweet : I will be glad in the Lord.

35 Let the siuners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no

Bless thou the Lord, O my soul. Praise ye the Lord.

The theme ilia
tiiiKuished fro
the preceding.

One of our poets has said —

" The song of woe

Is, after all, an earthly song."

It is not perpetuated in heaven, nor in the glorious kingdoin ;
for there praise, " from blest voices uttering joy," fills the
many mansions. Last Psalm shewed us this coming joy, aris-
ing from spiritual sources — the soul enjoying God, bathing in
his holy love, knowing him, obeying him, serving him, blessing
him, seeing him as he is, and for ever with him. This Psalm
calls our attention to the glory of our God displayed in the
Ttiaterial world already, and yet to be displayed in it more fully.

The key-note, "Bless the Lord, my sold!" is that on The tontenta.
which it is raised. The same redeemed soul that, with anointed
eyes, saw Jehovah in Redemption works, beholds him here in
Creation scenes — in the scenes of the old and new earth. With
the Book of Genesis (chap i.) in his hand, he surveys the first
day's handiwork (ver. 1, 2),* God's mantle of light, and some
folds of it thrown over the new-made earth. Unlike the array
of earthly monarchs, " glory and majesty' (symbolised by
light) are his robe, the skirts of which adorn the earth, which
is his footstool.-f- Then the second day's work (ver. 3-5) — " He
maketh his upper chambers with waters;" that is, the very
waters in the clouds are the beams on which the floor of the
upper chamber of his palace is laid. — He makes tvinds to act
for him as angels, and lightnings to do the office oi servants.l

* Not that the writer keeps close to historical arrangement ; for, as Augus-
tine says, on Psa. cv. — " Libera est laudatio a lege narrantis et texentis his-

f The eastern upper chamber was for retirement and refreshment ; God is
spoken of as having such an Aliah, built up in bright isther on the slender
foundation of rainy clouds. (Tholuck.)

X In Heb. i. 7, the argument is, that angels are truly no more than the
mere handiwork of the Creator ; for he says that he uses winds for angels,
flames of fire for ministering ones, and vice versa. Thus angels are classed
with other common material agencies employed by God, and no higher.


The third days work, wherein the platform of our earth was
cleared, is celebrated from verses 6 to 18 — " As for the deep,
thou coverest it 0) as with a garment" (see Hengstenberg),
Does not this mean that, on the third day, the Lord^rs^ shone
on the waters that covered earth, and stood above the hills,
then, the voice from The Glory commanded these waters to their
beds? And thus it was that springs began to flow among the
hills, and have flowed ever since, wild asses coming to drink,
birds among leafy trees, overhanging the brooks (pHy^, verse
12), uttering their cheerful notes, " living their life of music"
— the Lord condescending to care for every creature, yes, and
for every blade of grass, and for the olive that yields oil for
man, and for the vine, and the corn ; for the cedars, too, and
the pines or cypresses on Lebanon, where little birds and
stately storks alike find nestling ; while goats and jerboas sport
among the rocks below. Over this scene, the fourth day's
creation casts its beams (ver. 19-24). Sun and moon go
forth to regulate man and beast, by interchange of day and
night. And the ffth day's creation scene is not forgotten
(vers. 25, 26) — the wonders of the sea ; the living creatures of
the immense ocean. If man has found use for that ocean, and
has floated his ships upon it, in so doing he has discovered
some of the uses to which the Lord's treasures hid there for
him may be aj)plied ; at the same time, how feeble man's
work appears, when you observe that the Lord has constituted
these mighty waters the home and native abode of such mon-
sters as " LeviatJian whom thou hast made to take his pas-
time therein." As for the sixth day's work, it was introduced
at verses 21-23 — man and beast. As the Psalm is not histori-
cal, but a review of creation by one of the created ones who
inhabit that earth, hence it may be that man and beast were
introduced when singing of the uses of sun andinoon to us —
all the rather, because man's workmanship, " the ships," could
not be spoken of without previously introducing man himself

Providence is creation continued from hour to hour, from
age to age ; and of this, verses 27, 28, 29 sing, casting in the
thought of " creation subject to vanity" (ver. 29).

Every spring we have a specimen of the Creator's power, to


renew the earth. It may be, in part, to this annual renewal,
when winter is over and gone, that verse 30 refers. Even if it
be so, however, it contains, besides, the promise and prosj^ect
of earth's final renewal at the "Times of Restitution of all
things ; " for then only shall we know the meaning lodged in

the words,

" Thou makest 7iew the face of the eaiih.'"

If, at verse 24, the adoring exclamation spontaneously broke
from the beholder's lips, " O Lord ! how manifold are thy
works ! in wisdom thou hast made them all I" it shall yet
again burst from admiring witnesses of that New Creation.
And then shall that chorus be heard from heaven and earth
together ;

" The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever !
'The Lord shall rejoice in his ivorks ! " (Ver. 31.)

They shall say of him in their songs —

" It is He who looked (tO"'3,(2rTj on earth and it trembled !
He toucheth the mountains, and they smoke."
One shall cry to the other —

" While I live, I will sing to the Lord ;
During the whole period of my existence (eternity) I ivill praise my God.
Sweet, as it rests on him, shall my meditation be I
I (''3JJ^ though no one else should) will rejoice in the Lord."

At last has come that " New Earth, wherein dwelleth righteous-
ness ;" for "sinners are consumed (as in Num. xiv. 35), the
wicked are no more." Even in anticipation now we cannot
but join in the " Bless the Lord, O my soul I" and the " Hal-
lelujah''' that closes this celebration of the Lord's glory —
The glory of the Lord revealed in Earth created and Earth


1 O GIVE thanks unto the Lord ; call upon his name :
Make known his deeds among the people.

2 Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him : talk ye of all his wondrous works.

3 Glory ye in his holy name : let the heart of them rejoice that seek the



4 Seek the Lord, and his strength : seek his face evermore.

5 Remember his marvellous works that he hath done ;
His wonders, and the judgments of his mouth ;

6 O ye seed of Abraham his servant, ye children of Jacob his chosen.

7 He is the Lord our God : his judgments are in all the earth.

8 He hath remembered his covenant for ever,

The word which he commanded to a thousand generations.

9 Which covenant he made with Abraham, and his oath unto Isaac,

10 And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an ever-

lasting covenant,

11 Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your in-


12 When there were but a few men in number ; yea, very few, and strangers

in it.

13 When they went from one nation to another, from one kingdom to another

14 He suffered no man to do them wrong : yea, he reproved kings for their


15 Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.

16 Moreover he called for a famine upon the land : he brake the whole staff

of bread.

17 He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant :

18 Whose feet they hurt with fettei-s: he was laid in iron :

19 Until the time that his word came, the word of the Lord tried him.

20 The king sent and loosed him ; even the ruler of the people, and let him

go free.

21 He made him lord of his house, and ruler of all his substance :

22 To bind his princes at his pleasure ; and teach his senators wisdom.

23 Israel also came into Egypt; and Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham.

24 And he increased his people greatly ; and he made them stronger than

their enemies.

25 He turned their heart to hate his people, to deal subtilely with his servants.

26 He sent Moses his servant; and Aaron whom he had chosen.

27 They shewed his signs among them, and wonders in the land of Ham.

28 He sent darkness, and made it dark ; and they rebelled not against his


29 He turned their waters into blood, and slew their fish.

30 Their land brought forth frogs in abundance, in the chambers of their


31 He spake, and there came divers sorts of flies, and lice in all their coasts.

32 He gave thejp hail for rain, and flaming fire in their land.

33 He smote their vines also and their fig-trees ; and brake the trees of their


34 He spake, and the locusts came, and caterpillars, and that without number.

35 And did eat up all the herbs in their land, and devoured the fruit of their


36 He smote also all the firstborn in their land, the chief of all their strength.


37 He brought them forth also with silver and gold :

And there was not one feeble person among their tribes.

38 Eifypt was glad when they departed : for the fear of them fell upon them.

39 He spread a cloud for a covering ; and fire to give light in tlie night.

40 The people asked, and he brought quails, and satisfied them with the

bread of heaven.

41 He opened the rock, and the waters gushed out ; they ran in the dry

places like a river.

42 For he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham his servant.

43 And he brought forth his people with joy, and his chosen with gladness :

44 And gave them the lands of the heathen : and they inherited the labour

of the people ;

45 That they might observe his statutes, and keep his laws.
Praise ye the Lord.

The first fifteen verses were written at the bringing- up of the
Ark, 1 Chron. xvi. They tell that it is sovereign grace that
ruleth over all — it is a sovereign God. Out of a fallen world
he takes whom he pleases — individuals, families, nations. He
chose Israel long ago, that they might be the objects of grace,
and their land the theatre of its display. He will yet again re-
turn to Israel, when the days of his Kingdom of Glory draw
near ; and Israel shall have a full share — the very fullest and
richest — in his blessings, temporal and spiritual. In these
days shall this song be sung again —

" Ogive thanks unto the Lord, call upon his name !
Make known among the Gentiles his ivorkinys," £c.

Inviting, in such strains (ver. 1-8), all Israel to tell of their
redeeming God among the nations ; " He, the Lord, is our
God" (ver. 7). They recount his benefits, from the days of
Abraham onward to their entering in peace upon possession
of Canaan — the type of the more blessed rest remaining for
them and us under the true Joshua. The Covenant (ver. 8, 9)
was the sure foundation of this favour manifested toward them ;
and that same Covenant (ver. 42) was the Lord's reason for
putting the cope-stone on the work. It is " grace, grace,"
from beginning to end. And the repeated call on saints to
" make God's deeds known" breathe a missionary spirit, and
should be so felt by us who know the great deeds of Calvaiy
and Pentecost. Home, also, well remarks on verse 2, "Sing
— talk, — music and conversation are two things by which the
mind of man receiveth great good or a great deal of harm.

God's S'

The contents.


They who make Jehovah the subject of both will enjoy a heaven
on earth/'

1. The Psahn, then, selects incidents that may best touch the
heart. Thus Israel's insignificance, teven after becoming a na-
tion, and their weakness, and wanderings (vers. 12-15). They
went " from the kingdom," a land promised to them, (ni)7pDD)
" to a foreign people."

" From kingdom unto kingdom,
Sojourned a little band :
From, place to place compelled to stray —
Strangers in a strange land." (Barclay.)

Yet they are " anointed ;" the oil of him who set them apart
is on their head ; and therefore they are safe (ver. 15). He
has separated them for himself, and made them " his prophets"
— teachers of his will to other nations of earth.

2. Joseph's History is next selected as a theme ; for there
Jehovah is seen casting down and lifting up ; using, too, a
despised instrument to be a glorious deliverer. There is some-
thing graphic in the language of verse 16, "He called for
famine," representing it as his waiting servant, (Home).
Scarcely less so is the literal rendering of verse 17, " He sent a
man before them" — but hoAV ? To man's eye there appeared
no sending ; but it was to emerge from this, " Joseph was sold
for a servant." Here again is grace — grace flowing in un-
thought-of channels (vers. 1 6-2 -i).

3. Egyptian bondage follows, but only as introducing re-
demption — redemption by power, and redemption that pro-
claimed Jehovah's wrath on the rebellious (vers. 25, 26). We
see Jehovah removing from the rebellious resisters of his will
the blessing of light, the blessing of water for their thirst, the
blessing of domestic comfort, the blessing of fertilising rain, the
blessing of the increase yielded by the vine and fig, the grass
and grain, nay, the blessing of health and of life (27-36). On
the other hand, his blessing rests, in sovereign grace, on his
redeemed (vers. 37-43) — the blessing that is the reverse of
these inflictions on Egypt, besides strength, security from foes,
guidance, providential supply of food and water.

" He brought forth his people with rejoicing,
J J is elect with the song of joy."


But all this — not for their sakes — only because of his holy co-
venant. " Grace, grace," pervades his ways ; and grace leads
them into possession of their inheritance (ver. 44) ; but leads
them thither to glorify their redeeming God, even as shall be
the case at their final return —

" For the sake of having his statutes observed,
And his laws preserved.
Hallelujah P'

Whether we consider the sweet singer here to be David, or
David's Son, who sat in the pillar-cloud over Israel's tents,
the theme is the same.

The Lord glorified in his redeeming acts toward Israel.


1 Praise ye the Lord. give thanks imto the Lord.
For he is good : for his mercy endureth for ever.

2 Who can utter the mighty acts of the Lord ? who can shew furth all his

praise ?

3 Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that doeth righteousness at

all times.

4 Remember me, Lord, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people :
O visit me with thy salvation !

5 That I may see the good of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness

of thy nation,
That I may glory with thine inheritance.

6 We have sinned with our fathers, we have committed initjuity, we have

done wickedly.

7 Our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt;
They remembered not the multitude of thy mercies;
But provoked him at the sea, even. at the Red Sea.

8 Nevertheless he saved them for his name's sake.
That he might make his mighty power to be known.

9 He rebuked the Red Sea also, and it was dried up :

So he led them through the depths, as through the wilderness.

10 And he saved them from the hand of him that hated them.
And redeemed them from the hand of the enemy.

11 And the waters covered their enemies: there was not one of them left.

12 Then believed they his words ; they sang his praise.

13 They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel:

14 But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert.

15 And he gave them their request ; but sent leanness into their soul.


16 They envied Moses also in the camp, and Aaron the saint of the Lord.

17 The earth opened and swallowed up Dathan, and covered the company of

Abiram ;

18 And a fire was kindled in their company ; the flame burned up the


19 They made a calf in Horeb, and worshipped the molten image.

20 Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth


21 They forgat God their Saviour, which had done great things in Egypt,

22 \Yondrous works in the land of Ham, and terrible things by the lied Sea.

23 Therefore he said that he would destroy them,

Had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach.
To turn away his wrath, lest he should destroy them.

24 Yea, they despised the pleasant land, they believed not his word :

25 But murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the


26 Therefore he lifted up his hand against them,
To overthrow them in the wilderness :

27 To overthrow their seed also among the nations,
And to scatter them in the lands.

28 They joined themselves also unto Baal-peor, and ate the sacrifices of the


29 Thus they provoked him to anger with their inventions : and the plague

brake in upon them.

30 Then stood up Phinehas, and executed judgment : and so the plague was


31 And that was counted unto him for righteousness unto all generations

for evermore.

32 They angered him also at the waters of strife, so that it went ill with

Moses for their sakes :

33 Because they provoked his spirit, so that he spake unadvisedly with his


34 They did not destroy the nations, concerning whom the Lord com-

manded them :

35 But were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works.

36 And they served their idols : which were a snare unto them.

37 Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils,

38 And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their

Whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan :
And the land was polluted with blood.

39 Thus were they defiled with their own works,
And went a whoring with their own inventions.

40 Therefore was the wrath of the Lord kindled against his people,
Insomucli that he abhorred his own inheritance.

41 And he gave them into the hand of the heathen ; and they that liatod them

ruled over them.


12 Their enemies also oppressed them, and they were brought into subjec-
tion under their hand.

43 Many times did he deliver them ; but they provoked him with their

And were brought low for their iniquity.

44 Nevertheless he regarded their affliction, when he heard their cry :

45 And he remembered for them his covenant,

And repented according to the multitude of his mercies.

46 He made them also to be pitied of all those that carried them captives

47 Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the heathen.
To give thanks unto thy holy name, and to triumph in thy praise.

48 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting:
And let all the people say, Amen. Praise ye the Lord.

We are still traversing the same field We are still listening The th.^K
to the gracious acts of the Lord toward one nation of his ran-
somed — namely, Israel. It is another portion of their history
that is reviewed, but there is as much of grace, sovereign grace,
in this portion as in the first. And hence it opens, like the
former, with praise and adoring wonder —

" Hallelujah ! praise ye the Lord !
For lie is good ! for his mercy is for ever.
Who can tell the mighty deeds of the Lord ?
Who can shew forth all his praise ?"

The only mode in which the creature can even attempt aright xi.e pian.
to shew forth his praise is, by continued and ever increasing
service — " Blessed are they that keep judgment, and they that
do righteousness at all times." So great has the Lord's favour
to his Israel been, that the sweet singer, whoever he be —
David, as in 1 Chron. xvi., or David's Lord, in his day — while
remembering that favour and singular love, exclaims (ver.
4, 5),—

" Remember me, Lord, tvith the favour o/ (shewn to) thy peojjle !

Visit me with thy salvation ! (such as was wrought for them.^

That I may see the good of thy chosen ones.

And may rejoice in the joy of thy nation,*

And glory with thine inheritance.''
If the type afforded such matter for praise, what shall the an-

* Here the term >S^ is applied to Israel. It is only so used when Q^ has
preceded it, says Hengstenberg. It may also, in such cases, imply that God's
people (Qy) are, in themselves, no better than Q^i!l- I^"t "^S^ though they
be by nature, they are thine.


titype ? If that kingdom of Israel furnished such proofs of
Jehovah's love, what shall The Kingdom that is yet to come ?

To magnify the Lord's grace, confession is made of Israel's
sin — forgetfulness, ingratitude, selfishness (vers. 6-15) ; and
then of rebellion, idolatry, murmuring unbelief, lust, and lewd-
ness ; persevering unbelief, neglect of duty, conformity to the
heathen world (vers. 16-39). Scene upon scene is brought

Online LibraryAndrew A. (Andrew Alexander) BonarChrist and His Church in the Book of Psalms → online text (page 29 of 42)