Andrew A. (Andrew Alexander) Bonar.

Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms online

. (page 31 of 42)
Online LibraryAndrew A. (Andrew Alexander) BonarChrist and His Church in the Book of Psalms → online text (page 31 of 42)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

hour when Judas was on his way to Gethsemane to betray him ;
for Matt. xxvi. 38 tells us that Jesus spake of being " sorrow-
ful UNTO DEATH " which is the form of the expression here,
" broken in heart unto death" H/TID/ 1ZD Hl^pp. (See on Psa.
Ixxix. 1 ] , for the force of HJl^Q.)

We must not pass verse 18 without remarking that there is
an allusion in its tone to Num. v. 21, 22, 24 — the unfaithful
wife. Her curse was to penetrate into her bowels ; " the water
that causeth the curse shall enter into her ;" and such a curse
comes on unfaithful Judas, who violates his engagement to
the Lord, and upon Israel at large also, who have departed
from him as a "wife treacherously departeth from her husband,"
and have committed adultery against the Bridegroom.

After this manifestation of Jehovah's abliorrence of all Mes-
siah's foes, from Judas downward, the Saviour looks again to
the Father, committing all to him.


" And thuu, Jehuvah, mi my Lord .'" (Ver. 21.)

To us it is sweet consolation to be able to say, " My Beloved
is mine, and I am his !" Was it less so to the Son of man ?

" Ad for me, for thy name's sake /"

Father, glorify thy name ! Glorify thyself even in my con-
tinued suffering (ver. 22-25). For again he cries,

" For poor and needy am I {i^hti, even I whom thou hast ah-eady
And my JieaH is wounded within me.
Like the declining shadow I go away (night is near),
I am tossed to and fro as the locust" (the storm has begun).

Blasts from hell, and from earth, drive me about, as brisk winds
do the locusts, seeking to sweep me into the deep.

Once more (vers. 26-28) prayer arises from him who said
in verse 4, " / am jprayer ;" and after this, praise. For he
sees deliverance on its way, and ends with praise to the " Ood
of his praise" (ver. 1) as he began, adoring the grace of Jeho-
vah, who rescues the helpless one, standing at his right hand.
And in this " Salvation" is included glory and blessedness,
the glory and the blessedness of the kingdom. The harp is
soon to sing of this theme in louder notes ; and, therefore, it is
no more than indicated at the close. What a Psalm !
MessiaJis prayers and praises for judgment on Judas and
Judas-like men.


A Psalm of David.

1 The Lord said unto my Lord,

Sit thou at my right baud, until I make thine enemies thy footstool

2 The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion :
Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.

3 Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy ]jo\ver ;

In the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning,
Thou hast the dew of thy youth.

4 The Lord hath sworn, and will not repeat,

Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedec.


6 The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his

6 He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead

bodies ;
He shall wound the heads over many countries.

7 He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head.

" The right hand of the 'poor !" was heard in the closing lines ^^"1^;^"^'
of the last song — " the right hand of the Poor One," viz., the
Messiah on earth in his humiliation. But look up now ; this
" poor and needy One is exalted ! The Lord has " saved him."
We see no Judas now ; but we see Him whom Judas betrayed,
and whom Israel agreed in rejecting, exalted to the right hand
of God.

" Jehovah said to my Lord, ('•J'TJ^)
Sit at my right hand."

An oft-quoted passage — because it contains a memorable truth . * Quotati.
We find it quoted by Messiah himself to lead Israel to own
him as greater than David, Matt. xxii. 41. It is quoted in
Heb. i. 13, to prove him higher far than angels. It is brought
forward by Peter, Acts ii. 84, to shew him Lord as well as
Christ. It is referred to in Heb. x. 12, 13, as declaring that
Jesus has satisfactorily finished what he undertook to accom-
plish on earth, " The one sacrifice for ever," and is henceforth
on that seat of divine honour " expecting till his enemies be
made his footstool" — the day of his Second Coming.

In verse 1, We have the personal glory of the exalted Mes- Tiiepu
siah declared by the Father. He sits in highest honour (see
1 Kings ii. 19; Psa, xlv. 9) till the day arrive for still farther
honour, viz., the utter prostration of his foes, who shall be made
his footstool, alluding (Josh. x. 24) to the five kings. Then
the land shall have rest.

In verse 2, The Father's promise to him of the subjugation
of all his foes. The " rod" is HIOp, not a sceptre, but a rod of
chastisement, like that of Moses, used in bringing j udgment on

* Luther, in his " Familiar Sermons," uses the Hebrew words as a summary
of abundant consolation and a fit watchword for Christians, " Sheb limini" Sit
at my right hand.


In verse 3, The promise of a people, loving, holy, spotless,
and more than man caa number.

In verse 4, His office as Royal Priest, specially exercised in
bringing this innumerable people to himself and then blessing
them. He is Melchizedec, but over a mighty kingdom, and
he intercedes for and blesses his Abrahams.

In verses 5, 6, Details are given of his leaving the right hand.

And verse 7 is a summary of his whole career.

But, we should notice, in verses 5, 6, how the prophetic tele-
scope is shifted. Hitherto (ver. 1-4) our eye had been fixed
on the Exalted Son, while David rehearsed in prophecy what
the Father would do for him "in the day of his power" —
that is, the day referred to. Rev. xi. 17, when he takes to
himself his great power and reigns, the day of his Second
Coming. But now, in verse 5, we are guided to the Father ;
for it is he who " shall send Jesus," (Acts iii. 20 ; 1 Tim. vi.
15). And it is with our eye on the Father that we are to
read verse 5.

" The Lord ('•J'Ti^ Chaldee, ' Shecinah') at thy right hand," (0 Jehovah).
See verse 1.
Or, perhaps, more correctly still, in the manner of adoring joy
and hope,

" The Lord (Adonai) is at thy right hand !
Be has smitten thvngh kings in the days of his wrath !
He vdll contend with the nations,
He hath smitten The Head of earth in all its extent ! "

This last clause, which speaks of a usui-per who claimed a
right to our world, is the contrast to verse 7, wherein His own
exaltation over earth is proclaimed by " lifting up the head"
(see Gen. xl. 1 3, 20, &c.).

" Of the brook in the way he shall drink :
Therefore shall he lift up the head."

We may now turn back to discuss some of the difficulties of
this magnificent triumphal song. We shall notice two — one
in the description of his army, verse 3 ; the other in the sum-
mary of his career, verse 7-

We read in verse 3, " Thy people shall he free-gifts to thee,
in the day of thy power" — themselves presenting themselves


as living sacrifices. The allusion is probably to the many/ree-
will-offerings brought to Israel's altar, — all of which, as well
as their meat-offerings and drink-offerings, declared that God's
people were a people who gave up themselves to him, soul,
body, and spirit without reserve. And there was an old type
in Judges v. 2, Barak's army — like this great assembly from all
tribes, while those that were like Meroz perished with the foe.
This army, this host of the Lord, may be specially meant of
Israel as a nation, at Christ's Second Coming ; but if so, it is
Israel as afterwards the centre-point of union to the converted
nations of the whole earth. There may be reference, also, to
that other part of the Lord's host on that day, his glorified
saints " who attend upon him," and reign with him over these
nations of earth, and over the twelve tribes of Israel. But the
full reference is to all these multitudes together, gathered to
Shiloh at his Coming. These shall be arrayed as priests: fes-
tively adorned ; for,

" In the beauties of holiness,"
is an expression taken from Exodus xix. 6 and xxviii. 4 (com-
pare Prov. xxxi. 25, rvij^b ITn). It is used frequently, and
always seems to refer us back to the dress of the priesthood,
or Levites ;* so that we are to understand Messiah's host as
then manifested to be " a nation of priests," to offer up earth's

praise and service.

" Old of the tvomb of the morning
Is the dew of thy youth."

Thy " youth-like soldiery are as dew for beauty" (Hengsten-
berg) ; some say also, in perpetual succession ; and we must
add, for number too. But, is there not this other idea— they
come suddenly as the dew appears, seen all at once under the
light of the new-risen Sun of Righteousness ? And may we
not adopt yet another from Hengstenberg, " all begotten from
above" — as Job xxxviii. 28 might lead us to remember ? The
metre version of Tate and Brady has thus expressed some of
these views : —

* 2 Chron. xx. 21 ought to be rendered, " He set singers .... according
to the beauty of holiness ; " i. e., he set them in the beautiful robes worn by
the tribe of Levi. (See Keil.)


" Shall all (redeemed from error's night)
Appear as numberless and bright
As crystal drops of morning dew ^

But now let us briefly notice verse 7, " ^e shall drink of the
brook by the way." Ancients and moderns have all been at a loss
how to decide the true meaning. The idea, so common among
us, that the clause foretells Christ's sufferings, is very rarely
found among old interpreters.* The words were understood by
Junius and Tremellius long ago as meaning, " He shall steadily
press on to victory, as generals of energy act, who, in pursuing
routed foes, stay not to indulge themselves in meat or drink."-f-
Hengstenberg and others substantially approve of this view.
While a few hold that allusion may be made to Samson at
Ramath-Lehi (as if the words spoke of Christ having a secret
spring of refreshment when needful), most seem inclined to
take Gideon as the type that best expresses the idea. Pressing
on to victory, Messiah, like Gideon, " faint yet pursuing'^ as
he passed over Jordan, shall not desist till all is won. " He
shall not fail nor be discouraged till he has set judgment in the
earth." Perhaps the fidl idea is this : — His career was irre-
sistibly successful, like that of Gideon ; for he allowed nothing
to detain him, nor did he shrink in the enterprise from any
fatigue, nor did he stop to indulge the flesh. If we take it
thus, there is both the Humiliation and the Exaltation of the
Son of man contained in the words ; and Phil. ii. 8, 9 supplies
a commentary.

* It was current, however ; for Antonius riamiuius:, 1576, adopts it, and
commenting on the Latin, not the Hebrew term, says that the Psalmist has used
the word torrent, " ad significandum vim et magnitudinem gerumnarum."
Some wished to understand it of " drinking of the blood of the slaiti ;" others,
of his slaking his thirst as a poor pilgrim passing a brook. One saw in the
words the very brook Cedron, and another was inclined to think it might be
" the waters of truth and holiness." We think, nevertheless, that most readers
will agree that the probable meaning lies in a view of the passage much less

•f See also the oldest version of the metre Psalms : —

" Yea, he, through haste for to pursue his foe.
Shall drink the brook that runneth by the way."
And Amyrald, "He shall not give his foes even a moment to recover breath.
He himself shall just, as it were, lift his helmet and hastily drink of water from
the running brook." Tholuck, "He sliall combat without stoppage."


And thus the harp sings of David's Son and David's Lord.
May we not entitle the Psahn,

Messiah, at the Right Hand, expecting till his enemies he made
his footstool ?


1 Praise ye the Lord.

I •will praise the Lord with my whole heart,

In the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation.

2 The works of the Lord are great,

Sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.

3 His work is honourable and glorious :
And his righteousness endureth for ever.

4 He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered :
The Lord is gracious and full of compassion.

5 He hath given meat unto them that fear him.
He will ever be mindful of his covenant.

6 He hath shewed his people the power of his works.
That he may give them the heritage of the heathen.

7 The works of his hands are verity and judgment ;
All his commandments are sure.

8 They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness.

9 He sent redemption unto his people .

He hath commanded his covenant for ever.
Holy and reverend is his name.
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom :

A good understanding have all they that do his commandments :
His praise endureth for ever.

An Alphabetic Psalm. It may be sung now, in the same
manner that it might be sung long ago in the temple ; but it
is fit also for that day described in Rev. xix. 1, 3, 4, the day of
many " Hallelujahs," such as this Psalm begins with and
reiterates. Messiah might sing it on earth and in the king-
dom, and so may each of his members.

The plan is simple. In verse 1 we hear of " The assembly (the
confidential meeting) of the upright,^' whether such assemblies
as meet now, or that great multitude that shall meet at the Great
Day in the kingdom, "The Congregation." In verse 2 we have
the theme of praise, Jehovah's works, which engages the atten-
tion of all in these meetings, " The ivories of Jehovah sought

Tlie contents.


out according to all their wishes,'^ (Hengst.). They find " ma-
jesty and glory" therein ; they find (ver. 4) " He has erected
a memorial for his luonderful works," i. e., made them as cer-
tainly to be remembered as when men erect a memorial edifice.
At verse 7 the unchangeahleness of his ways is the leading
thought, occurring in verses 8 and 9 again. And then this
sweet song of Zion closes with (ver. 10) the solemn expression
of entire satisfaction in the Lord and his ways.
It is worth noticing that verse 10 sings,

" The beginning of wisdom is Jehovah's fear. ^'

Job had declared that truth to the sons of men in the earliest
ages, xxviii. 28. In after days, Solomon (Prov. i. 7) declared it
with all the authority of his unparalleled wisdom and greatness.
But here, Messiah and his members may be regarded as singing
it, not on earth only, but in the kingdom — in " The assembly
of the upright." They shall tell for ever of all true wisdom
being found in the Lord, Never till they knew Him did any
of them know ought that could satisfy ; but in knowing Him,
all found eternal life. Out of this Fountain of Wisdom they
drink for evermore. "Holy and fearful is his name!"
Herein lies wisdom — they that know that name (and Messiah
came to reveal it all) are for ever blessed. Such shall be
Ihe Hallelujah of Messiah and his metiibers in reviewing
the past.


1 Praise ye the Lord.

Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord,
That delighteth greatly in his commandraents.

2 His seed shall be mighty upon earth :

The generation of the upright shall be blessed.

3 Wealth and riches shall be in his house :
And his righteousness endureth for ever.

4 Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness:
He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.

6 A good man sheweth favour, and lendeth : he will guide his affairs with


6 Surely he shall not be moved for ever : the righteous shall be in everlast-

ing remembrance.

7 He shall not be afraid of evil tidings : his heart is fixed, trusting in the


8 His heart is established, he shall not be afraid, until he see his desire upon

his enemies.

9 He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor ;

His righteousness endureth for ever ; his horn shall be exalted with honour.
10 The wicked shall see it, and be grieved ;

He shall gnash with his teeth, and melt away : the desire of the wicked
shall perish,

Another Alphabetic Psalm. The 111th celebrated the cha- Thedistinguish-

■* _ ing theme.

racter and ways of the Lord ; this song celebrates the bless-
ings of those that are his, and speaks of the many points in
which God's people are like God. Like the last, it is a " Hal-
lelujah" song, fit to be sung by Messiah, and by each of his
members, here on earth and hereafter in the kingdom. It tells
of the reward of those that are the Lord's, while its description
of their character prevents any mistake as to the persons meant.

From verse 1 the features of character which mark the true The contents.
fearer of God are noticed, carrying us back to verse 10 of Psalm
cxi. It is Messiah who exhibits these in perfection ; he is
" mighty," Hi^J, far above that conqueror mentioned in Gen.
X. 8.

In verses 2, 3, the blessing, which follows this character as the
shadow does the substance, is spread before us ; and as a crown-
ing element of blessing, the clause, " To the upright ariseth
light in dai^hness," intimates that all the darkness of the up-
right, his trials, sorrows, temptations, will end in light. It is
a precious clause, applicable to Christ's day of sorrow, and ap-
plicable to each member's, telling us of present deliverances
prepared for the righteous, and of the grand deliverance when
" the light" of the Day of God appears (Mai. iv. 2).

In verses 4, 5, the features of likeness to God are spoken of.
Of these, Messiah is the great exemplar ; metxiful and gra-
cious (Exod. xxxiv. 6), and righteous.

" Hap2yy the man ! (Isa. iii. 10.)
He shewetli Javour and lendeih !"

Inverses 6-8, his sure, unchanging bliss is proclaimed. He



is " never moved ; " he is remembered by God for ever, as the
high priest had the names of Israel ever on his heart. No
tidings can overwhelm him ; he is fixed for ever.

In verse 9 his " cups of cold water " are spoken of. " He
gave to the poor ;" for as Christ did (Acts xx. 35), so each mem-
ber has ever counted it more blessed to give than to receive.
And this " righteousness," i. e., righteous conduct, is not for-
gotten ; it is recorded in the book of remembrance, (see ver. 3,
and 2 Cor. ix. 9).

In verses ]0, 11, his triumph is proclaimed. He is exalted ;
the wicked is for ever fallen. This is the day of Glory — the
time of rewards. How verily true of Christ the Head ! " His
horn exalted."

And thus every holy stream pours itself at last into the
ocean of glory, meeting it on the day when Messiah and his
members are glorified together. And this is the burden of
this Psalm which the righteous might often sing in their dwell-
ings in joyful anticipation —

The recompense of Messiah and his seed.


1 Pkaise ye the Lord.

Praise, ye servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord.

2 Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and for evermore.

3 From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the Lord's

name is to he praised.

4 The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens.
6 Who is like unto the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high,

6 Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the

earth !

7 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the


8 That he may set him with princes, even M'ith the princes of his people.

9 He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of

Praise ye the Lord.

The Jews have handed down the tradition, that this Psalm,
and those that follow on to the 118th, were all sung at the


Passover ; and they are denominated " The Great HalleV
This tradition shews, at all events, that the ancient Jews per-
ceived in these six Psalms some link of close connection. They
all sing of God the Redeemer, in some aspect of his redeeming
character ; and this being so, while they suited the paschal
feast, we can see how appropriate they would be in the lips of
the Redeemer, in his Upper Room.* Thus —

In Psa. cxiii., he sang praise to Him who redeems from the
lowest depth.

In Psa. cxiv., he sang praise to Him who once redeemed
Israel, and shall redeem Israel again.

In Psa. cxv., he uttered a song — over earth's fallen idols —
to Him who blesses Israel and the world.

In Psa. cxvi., he sang his resurrection-song of thanksgiving
by anticipation.

In Psa. cxvii., he led the song of praise for the great congre-

In Psa. cxviii. (just before leaving the Upper Room to go to
Gethsemane), he poured forth the story of his suffering, con-
flict, triumph, and glorification.

Our Psalm, then, begins with a twice-repeated invitation to l^^^^^^^^^^^^
all God's servants to join in praise. It is sometimes true, that
for the soul, " solitude is best society ; " but in the matter of
praise, the reverse may be oftenest held. The society of kin-
dred souls is the best help to each individual soul ; every voice
in the great multitude touches the heart-fibres of yonder sweet
singer, as the wind does the ^Eolian harp. Hence it is that so
many Psalms begin with " Hallelujah ! " calling on others all
around to praise — not that the " harper harping with his harp"
means to delegate this blessed duty to others, but he seeks to
tune his own soul by hearing their voices ascend. The warmth
of their hearts fires his own.

The persons invited (ver. 1), to praise, are ''Jehovah's ser
vants;" all those (as Nehemiah i. 10 expands the wordg)
whom he has redeemed. The time (ver. 2) for praise is specially

* The term used in Matt. xxvi. 30, is \i(j.vri6a\7ic,^ the word used in Heb. ii.
12; and by the Sept. for XXT\T\ and ^Xy occasionally.


" henceforth," from the date of this redemption. The place
(ver. 3, 4) where it is to be celebrated is all the earth, not
Israel's land alone ; for all nations are to hear what Jehovah
has done on the theatre of that land. The object of praise
(ver. 5) is Jehovah, he to whom they sang at the Red Sea,
" Who is like unto thee?" (Exod. xv. 11.)

" Who is like to Jehovah our God ?
Ee who is exalted high, as to his dwelling (o h b-^riXoii Ttaroixuv. — Sept.)
He who stoopeth low as to his beholding ! (ra, rai'^rhva, stpo^oov. — Sept.)
In heaven, and in earth ! " (Ver. 5, 6.)

Then follows the special subject of celebration (ver. 7, 8, 9)
— what He does for the fallen. Hannah's song in 1 Sam. ii.
5, 6, 7, 8, seems kept in view, as well as God's own words to
David, 2 Sam. vii. 8, 9, all to furnish suitable language to ex-
press redemption-acts. And the long " barren woman " of
verse 9, while it reminds us of Sarah, Eebecca, Rachel, Ma-
noah's wife, Elizabeth, who all in the end were filled with joy,
may point to one and the same period of the world's history
for its full and final illustration, as does Isaiah liv. 1. Isaiah
seems expressly to alluds to this Psalm as receiving its ful-
filment to the full when Messiah's work of suffering (Isa. liii.)
issues in illimitable blessing to Israel and the world. The re-
demption celebrated includes glory as well as grace ; for we
have princes (ver. 8) spoken of, and these " sit" with them, be-
coming associates of the noble — thus highly exalted, though
once fit for the lowest hell. It is an expression parallel to
Hannah's " throne of glory " (2 Sam. ii. 8). And lo ! the once
barren one of the house " sits a joy ful mother of sons." Whether
we look upon the speaker as Christ praising the Father, or as
the Church of Christ, and every member of Christ praising
the Father because of Christ, the theme cannot be mistaken.
It is

Praise to Ilim who redeems from the lowest depth.



1 When Israel went out of E

Online LibraryAndrew A. (Andrew Alexander) BonarChrist and His Church in the Book of Psalms → online text (page 31 of 42)