Andrew A. (Andrew Alexander) Bonar.

Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms online

. (page 32 of 42)
Online LibraryAndrew A. (Andrew Alexander) BonarChrist and His Church in the Book of Psalms → online text (page 32 of 42)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Every tear dropt on the golden altar would appear golden, The to>ie.
because the gold shone through ; and common things presented
in sanctuary-vessels would become sacred. So it is with events
of history referred to in these songs of Zion. Even if they
were not wondrous in themselves, still they could not fail to
be felt as unlike all other events, because so exquisitely cele-
brated on the harp of Israel.

This Psalm sings of the past, and of the future too. The The contents
past extends from verse 1 to verse 6, the time

" Wlien Israel, of the Lord beloved,
Out of the land of bondage came.''''

When we ^nd in verse 1, as in Psa. Ixxxi. 5, Egypt spoken
of as a land where the people were of a " strange tongue," it
likely that the reference is to their being a people who
Id not sjjeak of God, as Israel could ; even as Zepli. iii. 9 tells
of the " pure lip," viz., the lip that calls on the name of the
Lord. In verse 2, " Judah " (Sept. ihvhaia) is followed by a femi-
nine verb, both to shew that it was not the land, but the people,
and also to remind us of their helplessness at that time. It is,
q. d., the " daughter of my people." And in the same verse,
we hear of "His sanctuary," as in Psa. Ixxxvii. 1, without
naming the person, because the heart is full of him. God
dwelt in the camp, making the hearts of the people his " Holy
place," and taking the tribes as his Kingdom ; while the Red
Sea and Sinai testified of his presence and power. What a



privilege to have such a king ! What a blessedness to be
dwelt in by the Holy One.

There is a future time when the like shall occur again, and
the question be again asked, " What aileth thee, sea, that
thou fleest?" For (ver. 7, 8) the closing verses seem to be
parallel to Haggai ii. 6, and Heb. xii. 26, when all the earth
shall be moved at the presence of him whose presence so af-
fected Sinai, and the Red JSea, and Jordan. Augustine also —
" Ilia quoque miracula, cum in illo populo fierent, pr^sentia
quidem, sed non sine futurorum significatione, gerebantur."
And Dr Allix says — " Tis a meditation upon the coming out
of Egypt, and upon the several miracles which changed the
order of nature ; from whence the sacred author lifted up the
minds of his people to the thoughts of their redemption, when
the Messiah, appearing for their deliverance, will cause the
same changes in the world." See Micah vii. 15-17, Isa. xi.
15. And on that day they shall come forth from the crushing
dominion of a power that has trod Jerusalem under foot,
*' whose tongue thou shalt not understand, " (Deut. xxviii. 49).

Whether in the lips of Jesus at the passover table in the
upper room, when using this as part of the great Hallel, or
in the lips of any of his members, the song is one of
Praise to Him vjho has redeemed, and luill again redeem,
his Israel.


1 Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us.

But unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake.

2 Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God?

3 But our God is in the heavens : he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.

4 Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands.

5 They have mouths, but they speak not : eyes have they, but they see not :

6 They have ears, but they hear not : noses have they, but they smell not :

7 They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk

Neither speak they through their throat.

8 They that make them arc like unto them ; so is every one tiiat tni.stLth

in thcni.


9 O Israel, trust thou in the Lord ! He is their help and their shield.

10 O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord ! He is their help and their shield.

11 Ye that fear the Lord, trust in the Lord ! He is their help and their shield.

12 The Lord hath been mindful of us : he will bless us ;

He will bless the house of Israel ; he will bless the house of Aaron.

13 He will bless them that fear the Lord, both small and great.

14 The Lord shall increase you more and more, you and your children.

15 Ye are blessed of the Lord which made heaven and earth.

16 The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord's :
But the earth hath he given to the children of men.

17 The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence.

18 But we will bless the Lord, from this time forth and for evermore.
Praise the Lord. ,

The missionary, Adoniram Judson, was arrested in the midst
of ambitious schemes, and led to lay himself at the feet of his
Lord by the first verse of this Psalm, " Not U7ito us."

This " Not unto us " has reference to the undeserving cha-
racter of the recipients. Our God gives liberally ; and withal
he gives as none other gives ; for (as Milton sings) he gives,
" With his good upbraiding none."

It is this divine peculiarity in his giving that ought more than
all else to induce us to hasten to his throne with our thanks
and adoring praise. His " mercy and truth" (ver. 1) are the
Jachin and Boaz of the redemption-scheme ; his grace, or love,
or mercy, prompting the gift of his Son, and his truth, or ad-
herence to every word he ever spoke, to every law he ever
gave, to every attribute of his character, are the reigning mani-
festations of his name. In giving praise, therefore, should not
his redeemed continually refer to " mercy and truth" — to
" grace and truth that came by Jesus Christ ? " It is thus we
give him " glory in the highest."

But contrast Jehovah with any other god. Why should the
heathen say, "Where, pray, (htJ) is your God?" Take up
Moses' brief description in Deut. iv. 28, and expand it as is
done here. Idols of gold and silver have a mouth, but give
no counsel to their worshippers ; eyes, but see not the de-
votions nor the wants of those who serve them ; ears, but hear
not their cries of distress or songs of praise ; nostrils, but smell
not the fragrant incense presented to their images ; hands, but
the thunderbolt which they seem to hold (as Jupiter Tonans


in after days), is a brutum fulmen, they cannot launch it ;
feet, but they cannot move to help the fallen. Ah! they
cannot so much as whisper one syllable of response, or even
mutter in their throat ! And as man becomes like his god,
(witness Hindoo idolaters whose cruelty is just the reflec-
tion of the cruelty of their gods), so these gods of the hea-
then being " soul-less, the worshippers become soul-less them-
selves," (Tholuck).

Happy Israel ! trust in Jehovah —

" For to all such an aid he is,
A buckler and defence." (Oldest version.)

" Their help" means " the help of such as do so."* Some
understand it as if a chorus uttered these words in reply. In
either way the sense is clear. Israel at large ! house of Aaron !
all fearers of God ! trust him alone ; for all of you can say
verse 12, 13.

In verses 14, 15, the latter-day blessing of Israel is referred
to. Their God whom they praised pronounces blessing, a
creation-like blessing (Gen. i. 28), upon them, by the mouth
of his High Priest, we may suppose ; and in that case,
how appropriately uttered by the Lord Jesus on the night
he was betrayed, while using these words at the passover

table :

" May Jehovah add to you (Deut. i. 11),
To you and to your children 1
May you be blessed of Jehovah,
Maker of heaven and earth .^"

It is like Melchizedec blessing Abraham in the name of the
Most High God, " possessor of heaven and earth." They who
receive the blessing respond in the closing words —

" As to the heavens — tJie heavens belong to Jehovah !
And it is he thatgiveth earth to the children of men ! "

Ay, and it is he who will give earth, in its renovated beauty,
to the children of men. To him we owe all things. Should
he not be praised — praised on his own earth ?

* See note on Psalm xxviii. 7.


" It is they that are not dead who will praise Jehovah,
A nd not those that go down to silence (Isa. xxvi. 14) :
And as for us, let us bless Jehovah (112^ ^i^J^i^)
From henceforth and for ever / Hallelujah /"

What a fervent act of praise ! — a song, in defiance of idols.
Praise to Jehovah, the sovereign source of blessings
manifold to all that fear his name.


1 I LOVE the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications,

2 Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him

- as long as I live.

3 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon

me :
I found trouble and sorrow.

4 Then called I upon the name of the Lord ; Lord, I beseech thee, deliver

my soul !

5 Gracious is the Lord, and righteous ; yea, our God is merciful.

6 The Lord preserveth the simple : I was brought low, and he helped me.

7 Return unto thy rest, O my soul ; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with


8 For thou hast delivered my soul from death,
Mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.

9 I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.

10 I believed, therefore have I spoken : I was greatly afiflicted :

11 I said in my haste, All men are liars.

12 What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me ?

13 I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.

14 I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people.

15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.

16 O Lord, truly I am thy servant ;

I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid : thou hast loosed my

17 I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the

name of the Lord.

18 I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people,

19 In the courts of the Lord's house, in the midst of thee, Jerusalem.
Praise ye the Lord.

If the greatest wonder that eye shall ever see, ear ever hear, The key-note
and the heart of man and angel ever conceive, is the sacrifice
of God manifest in the flesh, "Deity expended upon human


weal !" it need not seem strange to us that the harp of Zion
returns again and again and again to this theme. This is the
theme before us here, for this Psalm is Christ's resurrection-
song, sung by his own lips in the upper room at the passover,
in anticipation of the darkness of Gethsemane and Calvary
passing away into glory,

Paul, in 2 Cor. iv. 13, 14, furnishes the key-note — "We hav-
ing the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, / believed,
and therefore have 1 spoken (Psa. cxvi ] 7), we also believe,
and therefore speak." We, says Paul, go on with our testi-
mony as Jesus did, believing, as he did, that the Father will
raise us up at last in glory, though at present we " bear about
with us the dying (rrjv vsx^uaiv, the nnipH of Psalm cxvi. 15)
of the Lord Jesus."

It has been noticed by Hengstenberg (who beautifully speaks
of the speaker here as uttering " thanksgiving with the tear in
his eye"), that there is a resemblance to the tone of this Psalm
in Hezekiah's writing, when he had been sick, and was recovered
of his sickness (Isa. xxxviii,). It may be that Hezekiah's case
was meant to furnish a living type of the Saviour in some de-
tails. It is also most true that in a certain sense and measure,
every member of Christ can sing, "i love the Lord," and say it,
too, in the very style of the original writer. " I love ! because
the Lord has heard" — so transported with joy and love, "as
at first to express his affection without declaring its object,
thinking all the world must know who is the person intended
— like Mary Magdalene, John xx. 15," (Home). Still it is
the Master, rather than the disciples, who speaks here. The
Lord Jesus is the true Hezekiah, who alone can appropriate all
that is written here, having passed through sorer pangs, and
gotten a more real resurrection, than Hezekiah could celebrate
when he went up, on the third day, to the house of the Lord.
Christ ti.e It is Christ only who can say, in the full sense of the word,

the very first syllable of the Psalm ; for the words run in the
original thus, " I love ! because the Lord has heard my voice,
my supplications !"

" / love !" C^n^im, like isrr^yM, Rev. iii. 17. " I have so done, and
d.. 8.. still").



It is not, " I am well pleased that the Lord has heard ;" no,
it is far more. It is as if he pointed to Deut. vi. 5, " Thou
Shalt love the Lord "—ni^, HiH'' n^Hi^l exclaiming, " I have
done so, and ever will \" And then, as the proof of this love
(not as the cause, comp. Luke vii. 47), he adds, " For see, the
Lord has testified to my love by hearing my prayers." Yes ;
those tears and strong cries, to which reference is made, Heb,
v. 7, were proofs of his love to the Father ; and the Father's
hearing and helping was proof of his love to the Son.

" And I will call so long as I live.'"
Literally, "during my days," p^l, as in 2 Kings xx. 19, Isa.
xxxix. 8 (Hengst.) Is there not an implied reference to his
intercession ? and does not the phrase remind us of Rom. v. 1 8,
" saved by his life," and of Heb. vii, 16 ?

Israel might use these words at their paschal table, reckon-
ing Egyptian sorrows and bondage as a kind of tomb, and re-
calling the flight from Egypt, and the passage through the
Red Sea, when all human help had failed. It was like a re-
surrection — a passage up from the grave. Still, all was but
an imperfect shadow of God's Israel, his beloved Son. The
world was his Egypt, his place of bondage, his scene of suffer-
ing ; and, on the night he left this Egypt's tasks and bricks
for ever, all help of man failed him — not even a disciple
offered him sympathy. It was he, therefore — it was he alone
— who could so truly sing, as verse 11,

" I said in my haste" {i. e., while hastening from Egypt, like Israel on

the passover night),
" All men are liars ;"
for the term is altogether a passover-night one, ^311. It is not
trepidation of mind, it is not irritation, it is not alarm, it is not
tumult of soul, that the term indicates ; but it is the flight or
hasty escape of Israel on that memorable night. See this dis-
cussed in Psa. xxxi. 22. The old metre version of Tate and

Brady is right —

" For in mtj flight all hopes of aid
From faithless man were lost."

Christ and liia

The contents.


And so the Targum has ""ipiyD^, " in my fleeing." Bishop
Patrick and some others have noticed this to be the true sense.*
These remarks help us to the scope and j)lan of the psalm.
The Saviour begins (ver. 1-4) with the Lord and his benefits ;
then (ver. 5, 6) celebrates some attractive features of his cha-
racter, " Gracious is Jehovah," while still he is " righteous"
" and our God sheweth mercy," (Dn^Q.) ; and this he does
by " Keeping the simple," i. e., those whom Satan might easily
beguile. And now he gives a fuller history of his suffering
and deliverance (ver. 7), " I was brought low," and how the
Lord permitted not the enemy to triumph over him in the
awful hour of his tremendous woe ; "He helped me," (ver. 7, 8).
He seems to reveal to us some of the thoughts that upheld
him — some of "the joy set before him" that enabled him to
endure. They were such as these — paraphrasing the words a
little (verses 9, 10, 11)—

" / sJiall yet walk before Jehovah
In the lands {iy\1~\'i^'2) of the living,'''' {i. e., the regions of glory, not

the abodes of the dead).
" / have full confidence ! That is the reason why I Jiave so often declared

my resurrection^

Not that I had no temptations to the contrary. I was more
afflicted than other men.

" ^ (''J^^) ^^^^ greatly afflicted."
Yes ; and forsaken too, so that

" I said, in my hastening away,
All men are liars."

All that is man disappoints expectation (ver. 8) ; ^O, as in
Jer. XV. 18. But now, taking up the drink-offering cup, and
pouring it on the altar as a thanksgiving-token-f- (ver. 12, to
the end), he looks up to the Lord, and expresses his entire

* Ilorsley gives " in ecstasy of despair," quite as far from the true meaning
as is Barclay's " agony to fulfil the law," and Bishop's Home's " hurry and tre-
pidation." But see Psa. xxxi 22.

f Uengstenberg maintains that commentators have no ground at all for
saying that there was a cup of thanksgiving at the passover supper. Mede has
suggested the alhit^ion to the driak-ofi'cring.


satisfaction in Him, uttering' thanks, praise, blessing, vows,
while looking forward to the results of all, in a people freed
and gathered into glory ; for this is contained in the oft-repeated
words, (equivalent to " Our gathering together in him," 2
Thess. ii. 1),

" In the presence of all his peopled

This is twice declared (ver. 1 4 and 1 8), in peculiar language —

" / mil pay my vows to the Lord,
Tea, I will in presence of all his people ; (or, in presence of— let me do

it — all his people.)
Precious fare theyj in the sight of the Lord ;
Even the death which belongs to his saints.^' (V^^D^^ nm^n)

This last line of the verse is quite peculiar. The word for
death is peculiar, corresponding, as we noticed before, to the
Greek vix^uaig (like nniQri in Psalm Ixxix. 11), while it cannot
be construed with ■lp\ " precious," because of the gender. We
may, therefore, connect the "precious" with "his people" (as
we find in Psa. Ixxii. 14, Isa. xlii 4), and may understand the
next clause as a declaration that even such suffering, such
death-like pangs, are no proof that Jehovah has forgotten his
people — "even in regard to their death-like suffering, they
are precious in his eyes."* Everything that concerns his
people is of interest to him, every hair of their head is num-
bered. With his eye on such a passage as this, well might
Paul rapturously exclaim — " All things are yours, the world,
life, death !" (1 Cor. iii. 22, 23.) Shall not all this bind me to
thee ? " I am thy servant." Who shall separate me from the
love of God ? Hallelujah. (Ver. 19.) Such is

The Redeemer's Resurrection-song of Thanksgiving.

• There is a simpler way of overcoming the difficulty. It is to take ■1p>

as the noun (neglecting the masoretic pointing), and punctuate it ")p">, " price,

honour, glory," as in Joh xxviii. 10, Dan. vii. 14. We might then render
the verse, —

" A precious thing in the sight of the Lord
Is the death which befalls his saints."




1 O PRAISE the Lord, all ye nations ! Praise him, all ye people !

2 For his merciful kindness is great toward us : and the truth of the Lord
endureth for ever.

Praise ye the Lord.

with " The presence of all his people !" Our gathering together in

him ! This was heard in the close of the former Psalm. So
now we seem to be introduced for one brief moment into that
assembly where the Redeemer stands leading their praise.
What a Hallel ! from " all nations" and " all tribes" (D''D^l),
as in Rev. v. 9.

" Loud as the sound of seas,
Through multitudes that sing."

The plan. They celebrate, as in Psalm cxv. 1, and often at other

times, the mercy, the tender love of God which to usward is
TQJ, " mighty," prevailing as did the deluge-waters over the
mountain-tops (Gen, vii. 24, ')"1^^1), and also his truth, going
hand in hand with truth in man's redemption.

Paul quotes this short song in Rom. xv. 11 (this heavenly
catch which seraph might cry to seraph, or one redeemed to his
fellow), to remind us that the Ensign on Calvary was set up
for all nations. Gentiles as well as Jews. Let us, then, from
time to time, recall this song to mind, and therewith exhort
one another to praise. In so doing, we are using words which
the Master used in the upper room, and which he will use
again when " he drinks the new wine with us in the Father's
kingdom." For it is He specially who is the speaker in the
Gall on the Great Gongregation for praise.


1 O «ivE thanks unto the Lord ! for he is good : because his mercy endur-

eth for ever.

2 Let Israel now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.

3 Let the house of Aaron now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.

4 Let them now that fear the Lord say, that his mercy endureth for ever.

PSALM cxviii. — Messiah's conflict and triumph. 351

5 I called upon the Lord in distress : the Lord answered me, and set me in

a large place.

6 The Lord is on my side ; I will not fear: what can man do unto me ?

7 The Lord taketh my part with them that help me :
Therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me.

8 It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.

9 It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.

10 All nations compassed me about : but in the name of the Lord will I de-

stroy them.

11 They compassed me about ; yea, they compassed me about :
But in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.

12 They compassed me about like bees ; they are quenched as the fire of

thorns :
For in the name of the Lord 1 will destroy them.

13 Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall : but the Lord helped me.

14 The Lord is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.

15 The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous :
The right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly.

16 The right hand of the Lord is exalted : the right hand of the Lord doeth


17 1 shall not die, hut live, and declare the works of the Lord.

18 The Lord hath chastened me sore : but he hath not given me over unto


19 Open to me the gates of righteousness : I will go into them, and I will

praise the Lord :

20 This gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter.

21 I will praise thee : for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.

22 The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the


23 This is the Lord's doing ; it is marvellous in our eyes.

24 This is the day which the Lord hath made ; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

25 Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord : O Lord, I beseech thee, send now


26 Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord :
We have blessed you out of the house of the Lord.

27 God is the Lord, which has shewed us light :

Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.

28 Thou art my God, and I will praise thee : thou art my God, I will exalt


29 give thanks unto the Lord ; for he is good : for his mercy endureth for


Luther wrote on his study-wall, "The 118th Psalm is my The tone.
Psalm, which I love. Without it, neither emperor nor king,
though wise and prudent, nor saints, could have helped me,"



Christ uses it. Still remembering that there is reason to believe that our
Lord used these Psalms, which formed the " Great Hallel/' on
the last night he sat with his disciples at the passover-supper,
and now specially remembering that this was the hymn they
must in that case have sung just before " He went to the Mount
of Olives," every verse will appear lighted up with peculiar

" What pleasing seemed, for Him now pleases more."

The plan. The plan of it is as follows : — In verses 1-4, " Oh let Israel

say," &c., the Saviour is calling upon others to help him in

Christ in it. P^aise ; at verse 5 begins his thanksgiving narrative ; while
verses 6, 7, states a holy axiom, verified in his own case, and
left for the use of all his own, to this effect —

" Let Jehovah be with me ! I fear not.
What can man do to me ?
Let Jehovah he with me, among my helpers I
Then I will look in triumph on mine enemies."*

Believers. In all this, every member of Christ can join, even as in Rom.
viii. 31 we find Paul, and those in whose name he speaks, using
language equally bold. Nor is there need of other help (vers.
8, 9), for " human dust and royal clay" cannot add to the Lord's
strength. Proceeding in his narrative, from verses 10 to 13,
he tells the strength of his foes. The term used for their de-
struction (ver 10), p^"'^ijfj may have been chosen because it calls
up the idea that" these foes are all b)f2, " uncircumcised"
(Hengst.), and so he is the true David going forth against this
Goliath (1 Sam. xvii. 36).

" In tJie name of the Lord (I go forth) I for I toill destroy them."

This seems the force of p, though some insert, " 1 swear that"
The figure of bees (ver. 1 2) sends our thoughts to the Amo-

Online LibraryAndrew A. (Andrew Alexander) BonarChrist and His Church in the Book of Psalms → online text (page 32 of 42)