Andrew A. (Andrew Alexander) Bonar.

Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms online

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rites, in Deut. i. 44 ; he chases and destroys them. Then, the
special foe (v. 18) that seems addressed, who is this ? He
speaks to some person, " Thou didst sore thrust :" is he speak-
ing to the host as one ? the army of all nations ? or is he

^ Wyckliffe's spirited application of this verse to the monks who came to his
bedside, hoping that his sickness would end in speedy dissolution, was an ac-
commodation of the words ; but the incident may be used as emblematic.


singling- out their chief? Were this last idea adopted, we
might suppose we saw the Serpent combating the Woman's
Seed, the " sore thrust" being the Serpent's bruising the heel
of the Saviour.

See next the victory won by Jehovah's aid alone (vers. 1 4-1 6).
As Moses, the leader of the host, sang in Exod. xv. 2, " The
Lord is my strength, my salvation," so does Jesus ; bvit at the
same time there are sharers in the victory. Hearken !

" The voice of rejoicing and salvation in the tents of the righteous /"
And what do they sing : —

" Ihe right hand of the Lord hath done valiantly."

They sing this as at the Red Sea ; and three times they sing
of that right hand that has won an infinitely greater victory.

But next he refers to death, and his triumph over it (ver.
17, 18). The curse, " Thou shaft die," cannot now fall on me ;
it is past and gone ; it is exhausted :

'• I shall not die ; for I shall live /"
It is the voice of Jesus ; " I am the living one" (Rev. i. 1 8),
" and I was dead, and, behold, I am alive for evermore V And
as he added then, " And I have the keys of Hades and of
death," so here he adds (vers. 1 9, 20) —

" Open to me the gates of righteousness /"
— the gates of the holy temple above that shut out iniquity, and
admit only what is pure and righteous. The temple on earth
was typical of the better temple above.

" This is Jehovah's gate" (this " righteousness-gate") ;
" The righteous go in thereby."

He enters singing (ver. 21), " I will praise thee, for thou hast
heard me, and art become my salvation." Upon which the
shout of congratulation arises from " the righteous" who go in
after him. They it is who sing from verses 22 to 26, rejoicing
in " the stone" become the head, or main stone of the corner,
the corner-piece foundation-stone, bearing the weight of two
walls and uniting both — a beautiful figure of Christ reconciling
God and man, as well uniting all the saved in one. It is they,
too, who sing, " This is the day which the Lord Tnade," i. e., set



apart, consecrated {TWV as in Deut. v. 15, nwy'?) — this day of
the Saviour's victory. And then another shout arises from
Israel, owning their King and Lord now risen and glorified —

" Tea, Lord, hosanna ! {i. e., give us a share in thy victory).
Yea, yea. Lord, send prosperity /"

Another shout from happy Israel ! —

" Blessed is he that cometh ! in the name of the Lord ! "
And looking, it would seem, on his attendants — " the right-
eous," of verse 20 — they shout again,

" We pronounce you blessed J^i is plural D3~),
You that are of the Lords house."
In such strains are set forth the triumphs of the Saviour, when
he had overcome death and the grave. When himself sung his
Psalm, would not his eye look onward, not to Resurrection
only, but to Ascension, too, when he entered "the gates of
righteousness" above — ^but not least to his Second Coming and
his passing in with his ransomed into the New Jerusalem,
when they together " enter in through the gates into the city,"
(Rev. xxii. 14). The multitudes, who almost unwittingly (yet
prophetically, in the sense wherein Caiaphas spoke pi'ophe-
tically, John xi. 51) applied to him verse 26, were, after all,
presenting a type of the great and final triumph at which the
innumerable ransomed shall raise the cry, " Hosanna !" In that
day, Israel, looking on with opened eyes, shall join in blessing
him, and blessing all that are his, though they so long were the
builders who rejected that tried stone. And this last feature
of the scene leads us to notice verse 27, where Israel specially
look on Him and cry,

" Jehovah is God i}^i^ mighty one) ; aiid has shined ujwn us," (Exod.
siii. 21, Tit. ii. 11, Icrsipai/jj).
They see what had been hid from their eyes so long ; they
see Jesus of Nazareth to be the Saviour, their God, Jehovah.
In transports of grateful wonder, they exhort one another to
offer thanksgiving-offerings, hastening to the altar,

" Bind the sacrifce" (yn as Isa. xxis. 1, &c.) " with sfrovff cords ! "

" Let us away to the horns of the altar I "

Christ with his


The last line is peculiar ; for Jni^"1|^ TV, " to the horns," can
scarcely be connected with the verb to bind, in the sense of,
Hold fast the victim till you reach the horns of the altar. The
word TV is rather a particle of locality. In Lament, iii. 40 it
occurs thus : " Let us search and try our ways ; and let us re-
turn (let us go) to the Lord ! " And so we take it here. The
restored and grateful people are hastening to bring their offer-
ings of praise to their God and King, stimulating one another's
zeal ; " Sursum corda ! " to the altar ! to the altar ! whose
horns hold up to view the blood of sacrifice.

It seems to be the Redeemer himself, now surrounded by
this multitude of ransomed ones, in whom he sees of the tra-
vail of his soul and is satisfied, who closes the Psalm (in verses
28, 29) by a thanksgiving to his Father for these results, and
by an invitation (as at ver. 1) to all the universe to join in
praise to the God of love. In anticipation of these results, He,
in the days of his First Coming, sang it as his hymn while
rising from table to go to the garden of Gethsemane ; but at
his Second Coming, he will sing it with the tone of the more
than conqueror, having realized the whole. We may entitle
a Psalm that contains such stirring incidents, past and pros-

The Redeemer s Gonjiict, Trium'ph, and Glorification, shared
in by his Redeeraed.



THE Lord, till he reaches the city.

The alphabetic peculiarities of this Psalm are well known, Alphabetic
every part beginning with a new letter, and every line or verse p®*^'* '*"*'*■'■
of that part beginning with the same, till all the letters of the
Hebrew alphabet have been exhausted. There may be some-
thing more than fancy in the remark, that Christ's name, " the
Alpha and Omega" — equivalent to declaring Him all that
which every letter of the alphabet could express — may have
had a reference to this peculiarity of this Psalm, — a Psalm in

356 rsALM cxix. — the pilgrim guided by god's word.

which (with the exception of ver. 84 and 1 22, exceptions that
make the rule more marked) every verse speaks of God's reve-
lation of himself to man, under one or other of the twelve
terms, 1, law, 2. testimony, 8. way, 4. commandment, 5. pre-
cept, 6. judgment, 7. word, 8. truth, 9. righteousness, 9. faith-
fulness, 11. statute, 12. name. If so, it gives additional mean-
ing to that title of the Lord — he is not only first and last, but
all between ; he is all that revelation can express.

In Psalm xix. we tried to ascertain the different shades of
meaning in " Law," " Testimony," &c. These hold good here ;
only they are not to be considered as exclusive of one another.
But our translators have unfortunately introduced some con-
fusion into the terms employed in this Psalm, by rendering
the Hebrew □"'pH, '' Statutes," which term was not the one
used in rendering Dn^j5S), in Psalm xix. 8. In this Psalm,
therefore, " Statutes" mean the appointments of the ceremo-
nial law, q. d., the things prescribed to Israel by Jehovah's
decree through their pipnp " statute-giver."* On the other hand,
our translators render DH'IpE) by " Precepts," invariably in
this Psalm. This word (11|5S)) we saw in Psa. xix. 8, signi-
fies particular injunctions given in particular circumstances.
Of course, the lessons taught by these special injunctions and
appointments are included, as a chief part of the Psalmist's
meditation and delight.

But it is remarkable that a Psalm, which we might suppose
to belong to Christ, and to be his special utterance more than
most others, has, in its language, some difiiculties which have
deterred many from applying it to the Lord Jesus at all. We
think, however, the difficulties are such as admit of explanation.
They are these, viz., verses 67, 71, 75, and 176. The 67th is the
only really serious difficulty, for it seems to ascribe "going
astray" to the speaker — ^^^ always meaning delinquency of
some kind, it might be by inadvertency, yet still a deviation
from the standard of law. Fry and some others try to dispute
this, but have failed. How, then, are we to understand our Lord
using such a verse as this ? We propose the following solu-

* See Lcvit. xxvi. 46, " these are the statutes" CiJIin- The Prayer-book
version translates the word " ceremonies," in the Psahiis.


tion : — He had said in verse Q6, "I have believed in thy com-
mandments" — " I have kept faithful to what thou hast said."
Then follows the statement of still firmer adherence to the
Lord's word. He says, " I did not need the sorrow and shame
of experienced error to drive me into thy ways. Without this
teaching, which so often, by its bitter regrets, leads wilful ones
to Thee, I have been enabled to hold fast thy words — ' Ere
ever I was afflicted, I kept thy word.' "

" I have not yet been afflicted, as one going astray,
And still I Imve kept thy word.'"

The common rendering of j;i^ ^31^, " I WENT astray," or " I WAS
going," cannot be defended ; it ought to be " I am going astray."
Our proposed rendering is parallel to •IIT'I — Ni2n D"}^3, in
Exod. i. 19, in regard to the construction of D^IO, and gives the
obvious and most natural sense of the whole clause. But then,
it may be asked. Is not the difficulty of verse 176 equally
great: "I have gone astray as a lost sheep?" Not so; for
here the term is ^JlW, in the signification of wandering like
one who has no home. It is Abraham's word in Genesis xx.
1 3, " God caused me to wander (D'^n^i^ '•ilJ^ ^)^0>?) ^'^^^ ^^y
father's house." It is most appropriate in the lips of him who
had left his heavenly home to be a stranger here, to be (as
Fry observes) " as a sheep whom no man taketh up" (Isa. xiii.
14). The word, indeed, seems to be the same as that which
has given the Arabic name El Tyh to part of the desert where
Israel wandered. And if this be so, then the difficulties of
verses 71, 75, are all that remain ; both of which are solved by
a reference to Hebrews v. 8, " Though he were a Son, yet learnt
he obedience by the things which he suffered."

We cannot but think that " the Songs of Degrees," all of which ^'^'^ i'"^"''^"-
have a pilgrim air about them, are appropriately prefaced by
this Psalm, breathing as it does the experience of a pilgrim,
with " a soft quiet melancholy" (Hengstenberg) in his tone,
met and comforted by the God of all consolation. If we adopt
the idea of the Psalm being a kind of manual for a pilgrim,
we are able to connect its different parts ; and we are able to



do SO whether we read it as the utterance of the Lord of pil-
grims, or of one of his band.


1 Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.

2 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with tlie

whole heart.

3 They also do no iniquity : they walk in his ways.

4 Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.

5 O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes !

6 Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy command-


7 I will praise thee with uprightness of heart,
When I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.

8 I will keep thy statutes : O forsake me not utterly.

(Ver. 1.) The pilgrim setting out. God's testimonies are his
staff. The Lord of pilgrims might utter verse 1, as he uttered
Matt. V. 3, 4, 5, "Blessed are the merciful!" Sin leads to
misery ; holiness leads to bliss, which is far more than joy. He
looks along the way, revolving in his soul what he should be
who would walk in paths of blessedness, till at verse 8 he lifts
his staff for the journey, saying —

" / icill observe thy statutes !
Thou tvilt not forsake me utterly /" (See ver. 43, and comp.
1 Sam. xxvii. 1 with 2 Sam. vii. 15.)


9 Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed thereto according to thy word.

10 With my whole heart have I sought thee : O let me not wander from thy


11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I miyht not sin against thee.

12 Blessed art thou, O Lord : teach me thy statutes.

13 With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth.

14 I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.

15 I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.

16 I will delight myself in thy statutes : I will not forget thy word.

The pilgrim fairly on the way. God's testimonies smooth
the journey. The Lord of pilgrims might be supposed arrest-
ing the attention of his followers by this question, verse 9, and
by its answer, corresponding as it does to John xvii. 7, and xv. 3.
He breathes a firm resolution to make the Word his guide —


" IViih my lips do I recount*
All the judgments of thy mouth" (as in ver. 7, thy dealings in provi-
dence, and the principles that guide them as set forth by thee).


17 Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word.

18 Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.

19 I am a stranger in the earth : hide not thy commandments from me.

20 My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all


21 Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy com-


22 Remove from me reproach and contempt ; for I have kept thy testimonies.

23 Princes also did sit and speak against me : but thy servant did meditate

in thy statutes.

24 Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors.

The 'pilgrim seeing the prospect open upon his vieiu. He Gimei.
seeks discoveries on his path, in spite of external difficulties,
and prays, " Uncover Tuineei/es and I will look !" Then, as if
dazzled, he exclaims, " Wonders out of thy law !" His plea is, —
"■ I am, a stranger upon earth." (Ver. 19.)

This is not the country where I find my treasure and my home,
neither am I to be here long. He uses this as it is used in 1
Chron. xxix. ] 1, an argument which the Son of David, as well
as David in the name of any member of Christ, might use.
In seeking these discoveries, he looks backward to the days of
Pharaoh, verse 21. At verse 22, he remembers Israel's en-
trance into a large place when they crossed Jordan, " Roll
off from TUB the reproach ;" — as Joshua (ver. 9) speaks of it
being rolled away at Gilgal, when the Lord shewed his faith-
fulness in bringing Israel into her land, thereby silencing the
taunts of Egypt. And verse 23, "For thy servant Tnedi-
tates on thy statutes," reminds us of Joshua i. 6. " Let us
remember, (says Home,) that he who alone, in the strict
and unlimited sense of the words, could say, ' I have kept thy
testmnonieSy sustained the utmost degree of ' reproach and

* When we make the Scriptures the subject of our conversation, we glorify
God, we edify our neighbour, and we improve ourselves," (Home). But this
recounting what God's mouth has appointed to be, is also a matter of private
meditation and prayer.


contempt' for our sakes, and was patient under all, till God 're-
Tiioved' it from him by a glorious resurrection. There remain-
eth likewise a resurrection for the mystical body of Christ, and
then, Wisdom shall be justified of her children."


25 My soul cleaveth unto the dust : quicken thou me according to thy word.

26 I have declared my ways, and thou heardest me : teach me thy statutes.

27 Make me to understand the way of thy precepts : so shall I talk of thy

wondrous works.

28 My soul melteth for heaviness : strengthen thou me according unto thy


29 Remove from me the way of lying : and grant me thy law graciously.

30 I have chosen the way of truth : thy judgments have I laid before me.

31 I have stuck unto thy testimonies : O Lord, put me not to shame.

32 I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my


The pilgrim weary. The Lord of pilgrims was often weary
in spirit when he saw the world so cold, nay, so determinedly
inimical, to his Father. " 3Iy soul cleaveth to the dust," de-
clares the feeling of degradation and feebleness, like Psa. xxii.
16 ; even as verse 28 expresses sorrow, " My soul melteth away
for grief. ^' And still amid this weariness he cries, " Thy word,"
(ver. 25) ; " Thy statutes," (ver. 26) ; " Thy precepts," " Thy
law," (ver. 29); "Thy testimonies," (ver. 31); these are my


" I run the way of thy commandments, (Ileb. xii. 1).
For thou enlargestmy heart.''

His frames and feelings may vary, because his circumstances
vary, but his heart's desire and affection toward God and his
truth remain unvarying.


33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes ; and I shall keep it unto the


34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law ; yea, I shall observe it

with my whole heart.

35 Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I


36 Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.

37 Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity ; and quicken thou nie in

thy way.
S8 Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.

39 Turn away my reproach which I fear: for thy judgments are good.

40 Behold, I liave longed after thy precepts ; quicken me in thy righteousness.


The 'pilgrim stedfast in temptation. In spite of sights of
vanity, yea, in spite of all he saw on the hill of Temptation,
when the glory of the whole earth was shewn to him, the Mas-
ter passed on unmoved ; and so it is in measure with his dis-
ciples. It may be, this very resistance of evil (as in Joseph's
case) may bring them for a time into reproach ; or, it may be,
then- unlikeliness to the world may draw down on them its
malignant assaults ; but the end shall be well. None lose by
adhering to the Lord's testimony.

" Turn away my reproach ichich I fear,
For thy judgments are good." (Ver. 39.)


41 Let thy mercies come also unto me, O Lord, even thy salvation, accord-

ing to thy word.

42 So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me : for I trust

in thy word.

43 And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth ; for I have hoped

in thy judgments.

44 So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever.

45 And I will walk at liberty : for I seek thy precepts.

46 I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed.

47 And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved.

48 My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved ;
And I will meditate in thy statutes.

The pilgrim assailed. Outward foes and unsympathising vau.
men are not easily dealt with ; hence the prayer to be enabled
to reply to assailing ones by words in season, getting courage
and utterance to confess his name ;

" Take not the word of truth utterly otit of my mouth,
For I have trusted in thy wwd." (Ver. 43.)

" Utterly," as in verse 8, and as in Isa. Ixiv. 8, and elsewhere
implies the belief, that it may seem right to the Lord to allow
some humiliation to be felt ; only (says the suppliant) let him
not wholly withdraw ! The father may teach some lesson by
allowing the child to stumble, but surely will not let him so fall
as to be injured. In verse 44 the Master alone could fully

assert —

" / keep thy law
Continually {1''Kin)fo>' ^ver and ever."



That is, every day without interruption ; and this unbroken
service prolonged to eternity.

" And I loalk in a large place,'' (vcr. 45)

— ^finding his service freedom and joy. Perhaps verse 46 may
be illustrated by Matt. x. 18.


49 Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused mo

to hope.

50 This is my comfort in my aflBiction : for thy word hath quickened me.

51 The proud have had me greatly in derision : yet have 1 not declined from

thy law.

52 1 remembered thy judgments of old, O Lord, and have comforted myself.

53 Horror hath taken hold upon me, because of the wicked that forsake thy


54 Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.

55 I have remembered thy name, O Lord, in the night, and have kept thy


56 This I had, because I kept thy precepts.

The pilgrim under darkness, yet unmoved. Manifold dark
circumstances are the lot of Master and disciples here ; but the
word of promise, in some of its many forms, sustains.

" Eemember thy word to thy servant ;" or, for thy servant's benefit ;
" Because (lli^J^ 7^, - Sam. iii. 30 — Ilengstenberg) thou hast caused
me to hope."

God's pilgrims have a hope (Rom. v. 3, viii. 24, xii. 12, xv. 13),
that shall never put them to shame ; having once spoken, he
keeps his promise. As Newton sings —

" And can He have taught me to trust in His name,
And thus far have brought me to put me to shame ?"

In verse 52, the Lord of pilgrims might be supposed standing
near Capernaum, and Bethsaida, and Chorazin, lifting up his
eyes to heaven, thanking the Father who hides these things
from the wise and prudent, and reveals them unto babes ; or
amid his seventy, thanking the Father, and rejoicing because he
had seen Satan as lightning fall from heaven. He sees the
eternal purpose of the Lord. He sees the Lord himself, ruling
all events, and bring about a glorious issue, even the glory of
the kingdom.


'^ I remembered tliy judgments from eternity ; (see ver. 13)
(I remembered) Jehovah, and comforted myself.
Horror seized me,

Because oftlie wicked who forsake thy law ;
Thy statutes were my songs" (Ver. 52, 53.)

One thing, whatever else befalls, he is sure of, namely, that
happen what may, he has cleaved to the Lord.
" I'his I have,
That I have kept thy statutes." (Ver. 56. The ^3 is like 6ti in

Rev. ii. 4.)


57 Thou art my portion, O Lord : I have said that I would keep thy words.

58 I entreated thy favour with my whole heart : be merciful unto me accord-

ing to thy word.

59 I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.

60 I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments,

61 The bands of the wicked have robbed me : but I have not forgotten thy


62 At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee, because of thy right-

eous judgments.

63 I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy


64 The earth, O Lord, is full of thy mercy : teach me thy statutes.

The pilgriTii foUoiving on to know the Lord. He breathes cueth.
the desire, "Da mihi te, Dumine" —

" Keeping thy ways, I have said,
My portion is Jehovah." (Ver. 57.)

He values God's presence, (ver. 58) ; he compares his ways with
God's testimonies, (ver. 59) ; he never lingers in the perform-
ance, when he finds a commandment (ver. 60); amid the
bands of the wicked he adheres to the law, (ver. 61); at mid-
night (lit, ''half of the night" as Exod. xiii. 29, the time when
the Destroyer slew Egypt's first-bom — Hengstenberg) he
awakes to praise (ver. 62) ; he shares ("I^H) with the fearers
of God, whatever be their lot, (ver. 63). And it seems as if
he saw the future glory awaiting those that follow the Lord ; or
rather, he delights in the future revelation of the Lord's riches
of Love ; for he sings, in a tone that reminds us of Isa. vi. 3 —

" The earth isfrdl of thy m^rcy !"
But the view is one that overwhelms the soul ; it cannot take


iu the vision but in part ; and therefore he prays, " Teach )ue
thy statutes," that I may daily fathom more of the great deep.


65 Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O Lord, according unto thy word.

Online LibraryAndrew A. (Andrew Alexander) BonarChrist and His Church in the Book of Psalms → online text (page 33 of 42)