Andrew A. (Andrew Alexander) Bonar.

Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms online

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of us, who follow the Lord, surely join in this ardent panting
for entrance into that city of which the other was but a type,
and of wliich we can say —

* And of Tasso's famons passage {Gierus. lib. iii. 3) —

" Ecco apparir Gierusalem si vede,
Ecco additar Gierusalem si scorge I
Ecco da niille voci unitamente,
Gierusalenime salutare si sente ! "

Horne mentions from De Thou, that Theodore Zuingerfelt this Psalm so ap-
propriate to one getting near glory, that he spent his last hours in versifying it
in Latin : for he could sing —

" I'er Chriili merit vm patet
Vitiv porta beatct."


" They that love thee shall prosper ;
There shall he peace in thy bulwarks,
Prosperiiy in thy palaces."

Or take it, as some render the words ; '' Peace ■within thy ram-
parts! Repose within thy "palaces!" Love to our brethren,
whom we hope to meet there (ver. 8), and love to God who has
so loved us (ver. 9), must lead us to this earnest desire — " be-
cause of my brethren, and because the house of my God is
there." Thus, then, now concerning the Antit3rpe, as hereafter
of the type through which he looked to the Antitype,
The Lord's servant sings of the City of Habitation to which
he journeys.


A Song of degrees.

1 Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens.

2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters,
And as the ej'es of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress ;

So our eyes wait upon the Lord our God,
Until that he have mercy upon us.

3 Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us :
For we are exceedingly filled with contempt.

4 Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease,
And with the contempt of the proud.

If we have found hope, faith, joy, and love in these '' Songs of The
Degrees'" hitherto, we now find long-suffering patience. David
is said to have been the writer. The worshipper, whether
David, or David's greater Son, or any member of his body,
" lifts his eyes" upward to the Lord in the heavens. The same
Lord who, in Psa. cxxi. 1, is seen on Zion-hills, is here seen,
" in the heavens," because the contrast is intended to be made
between the Earth that persecutes, and the Majesty, overcano-
pying earth, which protects.

Scorn is felt, such as Nehemiah's case illustrates (Neh. ii.
1 9), or Hezekiah's case, in 2 Chron. xxx. 10, when that godly
king incited the tribes of Israel to join him in the passover
feast. It is the scorn of those ''at ease," U^^y^WT^, persons on



whom the Avorld smiles, and who say in their hearts, " Where
is the promise of his Coming?" like the nations of earth, in
Zech. i. 1 5, D^3:^^^*^T D^i^n. it is the contempt of " the proud "
U^'i\'"i^^, that class of scorners who shall be found abounding on
earth when " the day of the Lord" comes on " every one that
is (HNI^) proud," — the " boasters, lovers of pleasure," of 2 Tim.
iii. 2. The prayer for help has reference to the high priest's
blessing. Num. vi. 24. In Psa. cxxi. 3, 4, he lifted up his eyes
to the Lord, and sought that part of the blessing which con-
sists in safe keeping ; here, he asks, Ij^n, Be gracious ! Be
gracious ! (Num. vi. 24.) The Lord makes his face shine
upon the pilgrim ; and the grace that beams thence is the
antidote to the contempt of men. Yes, even now it is so ;
but if even now, what then when the lifted-up countenance
shall be " the grace that shall be brought us at the appear-
ing of Jesus Christ ?" Such is the reward of

The upward look of the Lord's servant amid contempt.


A Song of degrees of David.

1 If it had not been the Lord who was ou our side, now may Israel saj- ;

2 If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up

against us :

3 Then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled

against us :

4 Then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul :

5 Then the proud waters had gone over our soul.

6 Blessed be the Lord, who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth.

7 Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers :
The snare is broken, and we are escaped.

8 Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and eartli.

The theme. Ebenezer ! Hitherto the Lord hath helped ! This seems to

Thankful be the tone of this song of David, sung at a stage of the way,

acknowiedg. ^^ ^^ ^ time, whcu the thought of past difficulties overcome,

and dangers escaped, was active and lively. Thankfulness

characterises it as much as hope, faith, joy, love, patience,

characterised the previous Psalms.


In the year 1582, it was sung on a remarkable occasion in

Edinburgh. An imprisoned minister, John Durie, had been

set free, and was met and welcomed on entering the town by

two hundred of his friends. The number increased till he

found himself in the midst of a company of two thousand, who

began to sing, as they moved up the long High Street, " Now

Israel 7nay say," &c. They sang in four parts with deep so-

lemnit}^ all joining in the well-known tune and Psalm. They

were much moved themselves, and so were all who heard ; and

one of the chief persecutors is said to have been more alarmed

at this sight and song than at anything he had seen in Scotland.

" Had it not been JeJiovah! He icasfor us, Oh (J^J) let Israel say ;

Had it not been Jehovah ! He who was for us, when men rose against us :

They had at that time made one morsel of us (Patrick),

When their wrath burnt against us."

We should have been dealt with by them as Korah and his
company were by the Lord, Num. xvi. 32. But the thunder-
bolt was not in our enemies' hand. We have got the help
we sought (Psa. cxxi and cxxiii.), and have escaped every snare.
Is not this a strain in which all saints can join by the way, at
every palm-tree station, at every resting-stage, at every refresh-
ing well, — a strain which the Lord of Pilgrims himself would
often raise ? And Oh ! how he and his company shall sing it
at the journey's end, when they who " were counted worthy to
escape all things, and to stand before the Son of man" (Luke
xxi. 36), lift up their voice in mighty thunderings —

" The snare is broken, and we are escaped !
Our helj) has been in the name of Jehovah ! "

that Jehovah to whom belongs earth, as well as heaven. Such
is this Ebenezer song,

The song of the Lord's servant for deliuerance vouchsafed, at
every step of the way.



A Song of degrees.

1 They that trust iu the Lord shall be as mount Zion,
Which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever.

2 As the mountains are round about Jerusalem,

So the Lord is round about his people from henceforth even for ever.

3 For the rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous ;
Lest the righteous put forth their hands unto iniquity.

4 Do good, O Lord, unto those that be good, and to them that are upright

in their hearts.

5 As for such as turn aside unto their crooked ways,

The Lord shall lead them forth with the workers of iniquity :
But peace shall be upon Israel.

Faithfulness under temptation is the grace that shines out
in this song. It is sung amid enemies, when they environ the
Lord's servant on every side. Two thoughts contribute mu-
tually to strengthen and confirm the determined and decided
adherence of the Psalmist to his Lord, viz., the thought of
Jehovah's faithfulness to him, and the thought of the short-
lived prosperity of foes.

" Tlieij that trust in Jehovah are like the hill of Zion,
It moves not ;
For ever it abides.

Jerusalem, the hills are round about lier ;
And (so) Jehovah is round about his people,
From henceforth, and unto eternity.''''

In verse 3 the " lot of the righteous " is inheritance or
possession. The worshipper rejoices that never shall rod, or
sceptre, of the wicked, extend its influence to that happy spot,
the allotted portion, the Canaan-lot of the Lord's people ; and
thus the old temptation to idolatry, and other evils, shall be
for ever escaped. The language of verse 3 has a peculiarity
in it ; it is literally, " the rod of the Wicked One," thus fitting
the Psalm for the circumstances of the saints even in the lasc
days, when " that Wicked," V^y^ shall be revealed and then

In verse 5 the pilgrim seems to sing the unhappy end of
backshders, of those who once joined their company in going


to the house of God. The Lord, it is said, " will let them go
with the workers of iniqiiitij (D!Dv')\ Hengstenberg), as if to
suggest to us, who know now of the great day's awful scenes,
the word of the Judge, " Depart !" and the description of the
result — " These shall go away into everlasting punishment."
He shall assign them their portion with the hypocrites, (Matt.
xxiv. 51).

How calm, how sweet the contrast to which our eyes are sud-
denly and abruptly turned ! It is the high priest pronouncing
what remained of his full blessing (Num. vi. 26). The Lord
lifts up his countenance upon them, and gives the word —
"Peace upon Israel !" Everything desirable is wrapt up in
this peace. Thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a
tabernacle that shall not be taken down, (Isa. xxxiii. 20). This
will be the " good" which the Lord will do to his Israel, when
he places him in his lot in the end of the days. And with his
soul full of thoughts like these, we need but wonder at
The Lord's servant's faithfal adherence to his faithful Ood.


A Song of degrees.

1 When the Lord turned again the captivity of Ziou, we were like theiu

that dream.

2 Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing.
Then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for


3 The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad.

4 Turn again our captivity, Lord, as the streams in the south.

5 They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.

6 He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed,

Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with liini.

Lord, to whom shall we go for the joy of final victory, but to
thee, who has been in all ages the source of Israel's joyful vic-
tories ? Jehovah has ever been the author of our blessings, of
blessings almost too great to be believed, and He will give us
" An autumn of joy for a seed-time of tears."
" We have bcfii like fhose that fJream."


On all such occasions, so great has been the blessing vouchsafed,
that our "mouth has been filled luith laughter." The word i^iVo^
expresses the habit, or customary act, as does also ')"^Q^i^ q. d.,
at such times A^) our mouth was filled with laughter, and the
old patriarch's words, Job viii. 21, were verified in us, and the
Gentiles were wont to say,

" The Lord has ivrougM mightily
In wha/, he has doiiefin' them."

It was thus in the valley of Elah, where Goliath fell, and
Philistia fled. It was thus at Baal-Perazim. It was thus
when one morning, after many nights of gloom, Jerusalem
arose at dawn of day, and found Sennacherib's thousands a camp
of the dead. And it has all along been the manner of our God.

" The Lord has wrought mightily
In ivhat he has done for us ;
And toe have been made glad /"

Ever do this till conflict is over ! Just as thou dost with
the streams of the south, year by year, so do with us — with all,
with each. And we are confident thou wilt ; we are sure that
we make no vain boast v.'hen we sing this Psalm as descriptive
of the experience of all thy pilgrims and worshippers. Home
beautifully says, " Thou sowest perhaps in tears, thou doest thy
duty amidst persecution and affliction, sickness, pain, and sor-
row ; thou labourest in the church, and no account is made of thy
labours, no profit seems likely to accrue from thee. Nay, thou
thyself must drop into the dust of death, and all the storms of
that winter must pass over thee. Yet the day is coming when
thou shalt reap in joy ; and plentiful shall be thy harvest. For
thus thy blessed Master ' went forth weeping,' a man of sor-
rows, bearing precious seed, and strewing it all around him, till
at length his own body was buried, like a grain of wheat, in the
furrow of the grave. But He arose and is now in heaven, whence
he shall ' doubtless come again rejoicing,' with the voice of the
archangel and the trump of God, ' bringing his sheaves with
Him.' Then shall every man receive the fruit of his works, and
have praise of God." Look, then, at this picture —


" He goes, and he goes weeping,
Bearing the basket of seed, (load of, Amos ix. 13) :
He comes, and he comes with singing,
Bearing his sheaves ! "

The worshipper, in all ages, has known the going forth to
serve the Lord in tears — the following him with the cross — the
scattering the seed in his field in sorrow and fear ; but as cer-
tainly shall he know the joy of harvest at his Lord's return.
The disciple is in this merely tracing the Master's path —

" So came Messiah, friend of men,

(A man of sorrows he),
To fight with grief, and tears, and pain.

That we might conquerors be.
Behold, he comes the Second time

To wipe away our tears,
And takes us up along with him

For everlasting years." — Barclay.

Our Lord, in his parable of the Sower, seems to unfold the
idea expressed here, so far as it bore on his service and labour
here. The other part, refen-ing to his Second Coming and
glory, was not dwelt upon there. Nevertheless, it is well for
us, in pondering the parable of the Sower, to revert to this
Psalm, and see the reward of him who goeth forth like the
master. We shall not serve less cheerfully by joining in this
Psalm —

The Lord's servant thankfully recording past joys, and anti-
cipating future.


A Song of degrees for Solomon.

1 Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it :
Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

2 It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of

sorrows :
For so he giveth his beloved sleep.

8 Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord ! and the fruit of the womb is his

4 As arrows arc in the hands of a mighty man, so are children of the youth.
6 Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them :

They shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the



jiie title. A SONG of the beloved ! — of him who toiled himself till all was
finished, and who now bids us enter into rest ! A song of him
who giveth his beloved ones sleep ! Taking it as a song from the
pen of Solomon, who was its author, Kimchi understands the
" Temple" by the " House" of verse ] , as " the City" is Jeru-
salem. The connection in that case with the former is the
thought of Jerusalem restored and rebuilt after the captivity
— " Unless the Lord build the city."

The theme. Here we find the worshippers exhibit that rare grace, free-

dom from care, arising from full confidence in Jehovah,

Freedom from Solomou, wlio saug afterward of " vanity" ( /^ri emptiness) in
all merely human pursuits, here sings of Nlli;, "nothingness,"
the uselessness of mere human anxiety and care — uselessness
of it to the builders of the house, uselessness in the keeper of
the city — uselessness in you who rise up early, who defer your
resting till late, who eat bread of sorrows ! How like the
writer of Ecclesiastes is all this ! And then the other side of
the picture is presented, as in his " Song of Songs."
" On this icise (73) giveth he to Jiis beloved — sleep."
They may rest from care, and he will work ; it is " the
blessing of the Lord that maketh rich/' says this same Solo-
mon, " without the addition of 2i{'' — sorrow," such as verse 2
spoke of (Prov. x. 22). This is his manner with those who are
TT* like Solomon himself, who bore the name " Jedidiah" (2
Sam. xii. 25). " Sleep" is used for complete freedom from care>
and peace of mind.

Having laid down this principle, those who inhabit the city
and house are remembered, and the illustration follows in the
style of the Greater than Solomon, who asked, " Which of you
can add one cubit to his stature, one year to his life, by all his
thought ? " Who could, by care, secure a family like Jacob's
twelve sons ?

"Behold, sons are a heritage of the Lord's giving." (Gen. xxxiii. 5.)
" The fruit of the tvomb is the hire he gives.'" (Gen. xxx. 18.)

It is he that gives them, and it is he that makes them what
they are — that makes " sons begotten in youth " (Gen. xlix. 3)
to be like a warrior's arrows.


" Happy the man whose quiver he (Jehovah) hasjilled with these ;
They shall not be confounded when they speak with their enemies in the

They enjoy the blessing pronounced by Rebecca's friends,
(Gen. xxiv, 60). But it is the Lord that fills the quiver ; it is
not the forethought or anxiety of man.

Thus the pilgrim-band, and their Lord at the head of them ^'..^^j^^'^j^'^^-
(Matt. vi. 25-34), cast their cares on Jehovah. Even when they
see a lack of men to defend the cause of God — even when ready
to ask, " When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the
earth?" — they still depend on Him whose part it is to give
sons of youth. And he will do it gloriously. Zion shall see
Isa. Ixvi. 8 fulfilled — " a nation born at once ;" and earth shall
see the sons of Israel on the Lord's side, when " the weakest
of them shall be as David'' (Zech. xii. 8). And thus, whether
as to The Temple, or as to J erusalem, whether in regard to the
families of Israel, or as to who shall stand on the Lord's side in
evil days, he knows that the Lord, in the matter of salvation,
has " given his beloved sleep," and that this is his manner in
providence, too.

Horsley calls this Psalm, " A Psalm to be addressed by the

priest to the parents presenting the first-born ; " but though

that would no doubt be an appropriate time to use it, it is of

far wider significance. We see in it this sight, viz. —

2'he Lord's servant ceases from care, and expects 'prosperity

from the Lord.


A Song of degrees.

1 Blessed is every one thar fcareth the Lord ; that walketh in his ways.

2 For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands :
Happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.

3 Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house :
Thy children like olive-plants round about thy table.

4 Behold, that thus shall the man he blessed that feareth the Lord !

5 The Lord shall bless thee out of Zion :

And thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life.

6 Yea, thou shalt see thy children's children, and peace upon Israel.

The Lord s


Luther calls this, " A wedding-song for Christians." It may
be so used ; but it is more. Attention to every duty, and,
among the rest, attention to the Lord's ordinances and solemn
feasts, is the means of prosperity. As in last Psalm the wor-
shipper's words were to this effect, " Take no thought what ye
shall eat ; for which of you by taking thought can add to his
stature one cubit?" (Matt. vi. 27), so in this Psalm the wor-
shipper seems to sing, " Seek Jirst the kingdom of God and his
righteousness, and all other things shall be added unto you,"
(Matt. vi. 33).

" Blessed is exery fearer of the Lord !
Every walker in his ways ! "

And then, to shew more personal sympathy with the man, the
Psalmist looks in his face and says, "For thou shalt eat the
labour of thy hands." Instead of the frown spoken of in Lev.
xxvi. 10, Deut. xxviii. 30-36, he shall surely eat what he la-
boured for ; his wife is like a vine by the house sides, yielding-
its clusters and its shade ; her children are not brambles, but
like the useful olive-tree that served " God and man" (Judges ix.
9), also surround the family-table with cheerful faces.

" Behold! (note it) For thus is the man wont to he blest whofeareth the
Jehovah is wont to bless thee out of Z ion.'" (Ver. 4, 5.)

Then follows the imperative HNI'll, as if it were the very words

of the uttered benediction —

^^ And (shall say), See thou the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life ;
Yea, see thy children's children."

And then the benediction uttered before at the close of Psalm
cxxv. closes all — " Peace upon Israel ! " In such strains the
well-satisfied worshipper encourages his fellows, rich or poor.
In such strains the Lord Jesus used to admonish his band of pil-
grim-like followers, telling them that not one of them that left
father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for his sake and
the gospel, but would receive a hundredfold even in this life,"
(Matt. xix. 29 ; Luke xviii. SO). And when he added, " I71
the world to come life everlasting," explained as it had been
by his having just promised to the twelve a seat on the twelve


thrones, in the day of The Regeneration, was it not the equiva-
lent of the priestly benediction, " Peace upon Israel ? " That
shall be the issue of service now ; for thus

The Lord's servant pronounces the present and future
blessedness of the fearers of the Lord.


A Song of degrees.

1 Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth, may Israel now say :

2 Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth : yet they have not pre-

vailed against me.

3 The plowei's plowed upon my back : they made long their furrows.

4 The Lord is righteous ! he hath cut asunder the cords of the wicked.

5 Let them all be confounded and turned back that hate Zion.

6 Let them be as the grass upon the house tops, which withereth afore it

groweth up :

7 Wherewith the mower filleth not his hand ; nor he that bindeth sheaves

his bosom.

8 Neither do they which go by say, The blessing of the Lord be upon you :
We bless you in the name of the Lord.

Perseverance to the end is the burden of this song, inasmuch
as in it we hear the pilgrim at another stage of the way re-
cording deliverances and drawing from his past experience
good hope of final deliverance. It is like 2 Cor. i. 10, " He
delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver, in whom
we trust that he will yet deliver.

" Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth,
Oh let Israel say! " (^iJ, I beseech you.)

Israel as a nation might refer to the time of their '' youth ;"
see Hosea xi. 1, Jer. ii. 1, and every man of Israel might do
the like. Every worshipper, and not least the Lord Jesus in
the days of his flesh, could take up this song. Abel, Enoch,
Noah, and all the elders, and not less the Church in its latter
days, when feeling the terrible blast of the enemy, might de-
scribe their experience by its verses ; all agreeing, too, in the
expectation of final victory. The Lord cuts asunder " the
cord" that fastens the oxen to the plough.

The ttieiiie



" Ashamed and turned bach shall be all the haters of Z ion. (Ver. 5.)
They shall he like the grass on the house tops,
That icithereth ere it is plucked ii])."

Not as Job V. 26, the shock of corn in its season, but as 2 Kings
xix. 26, Sennacherib's doom, which is the doom of all God's
foes : " They are as the grass of the field, and as the green
herb, as the grass on the house tops, and as corn blasted he-
fore it is grown up ! " Antichrist, like all before him, shall
thus perish. They are men working a vain work ; no Boaz
shall ever bless them with a prayer, nor shall even a casual
traveller. The Lord's foes perish unblest ; they perish with the
curse upon them, on that day when the Lord comes forth to
reward his own with the " Gome, ye blessed." With expecta-
tions like these
The Lord's servant reviews past sufferings in assured hope.


Pardon and

A Song of degrees.

1 OoT of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord.

2 Lord, hear my voice : let thine ears be attentive to the voice of ray sup-


3 If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand ?

4 But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.

6 I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.

Online LibraryAndrew A. (Andrew Alexander) BonarChrist and His Church in the Book of Psalms → online text (page 36 of 42)