Andrew A. (Andrew Alexander) Bonar.

Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms online

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ter, he has given his saints a pledge of the fulfilment of verse
7, for the Master " walked in the midst of trouble," as did
the three youths in the fiery furnace, and yet was " revived" —
brought back to the enjoyment of favour and peace ; brought
back from the sepulchre to the " fulness of joy."

In verse 8 he sings to this effect — Lord, leave me not till thou
hast brought me into glory. Confidence of getting leads him
to ask boldly, as in 2 ISam. vii. 27, and what he asks is, that he
may be kept till glory come. For by " the works of thy hand"
is meant the undertaking God has commenced. Every saint has
this same confidence, remembering that it is written, " He that
hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of
Jesus Christ," (Phil, i. 6). Our Lord, the Son of David, as well
as David's Lord, would often, in the days of his flesh, use this
appeal, and sing in man's behalf this glorious Psalm ; and shall
we not take it up, now that " the Word" lias been fully de-
veloped, and developed in such astounding magnificence of
grace? It suits us as much as it did David, or any other ;
for it is

Ilea I'tf elf praue for Jeliovah's Great Proiiilac.



To the chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

1 O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.

2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my

thought afar oiF.

3 Thou conipassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all

my ways.

4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it


5 Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me ! it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

7 Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy pre-

sence ?

8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there : if I make my bed in hell, be-

hold, thou art there.

9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of tlie


10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me ! even the night shall be light

about me.

12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee ; but the night shineth as the day :
The darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

13 For thou hast possessed my reins : thou hast covered me in my mother's


14 I will praise thee ; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made!
Marvellous are thy works ; and that my soul knoweth right well.

1 5 My substance was not hid from thee,

When I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of
the earth.

16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unpcrfect;
And in thy book all my members were written,

Which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, God ! how great is the sum

of them !

18 If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand.
When I awake, I am still with thee.

19 Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, God : depart from me therefore, yo

bloody men.

20 For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take tliy name in


21 Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee ?

And am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee ?

22 I hate them with perfect hatred : I count them mine enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart : try me, and know my thoughts :

24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way ever-



" A Psalm of David," and no doubt often .suuo' by the " Son of The author

. . . T . , , "id speaker

David." For, rightly understood, there is not in it any thought
of desiring an escape from the Lord's happy presence in verses
7, 8 ; far from this, it is meant to express delight in tlie re-
membrance of Jehovah's omnipresence and omniscience. It is
not the utterance of the First Adam, slinking from sight be-
hind the trees of Eden ; but it is the utterance of the Second
Adam, dwelling in the blissful fellowship with God, which fel-
lowship he would not for all worlds ever lose. Think of it
as sung by David, and by Christ, and by all the family of

The key-note, then, is delight in the Lord's presence. The Dittici.ities.
structure is very simple, and there are no difficulties in any
verses but 15, 16 ; to the understanding of which it is needful
to know that " lower parts of earth," is a proverbial expression
for secresy — what is hidden from view of man — as the paral-
lelism shews. The verses are to this purpose — " Thou hast at
thy disposal " 7ny reins," the seat of my heart, thoughts, and
feelings ; for —

" Ml/ substance ivas not hid from thee tvhen I teas made in secret,
When I was curiously wrought, hid from the view of all men.
Thine eyes saw when I was still unprepared {i. e., my unformed sub-
stance ; or, the unwound ball of the thread of life),
And in thy book all of them were written, (viz.)
The days which were still to be, and of which none then teas. " (Hengst.)

And because of this singular care of the Creating Hand, and
the skill displayed in the rare workmanship, verse 14 sings —

" I praise thee on this account, that I am fearfully distinguished !
Marvellous are thy works ! Yes, my sold perceives it well !"

But now let us trace the thread of connection that runs through .1,,^ ,,,„„
the whole Psalm. There is in verses ] -6, adoration of Jeho-
vah's omniscience. The Lord Jesus could sing it all ; even
verse 6, "too wonderful for me" (Prov. xxx. 18), was suitable
to him as man, in his humiliation-days, when he knew not the
day of his Second Coming, and when he stood on the shore and
adored the awful depth of his Fatliei''s counsels. The expres-
sion, '' Laiclst thy hand over me" (vV Jl^i^), denotes a kind,
friendly act ; not the act of one in anger, as when T* TV^ is


used, in such passages as Exod. xxiv. 11. The Psahnist is re-
joicing in the shadow of this Omuiscient One. " Thou hast
searched, and knowest me."

In verses 7-12, there is adoration of Jehovah's omnipresence.
If I had cause to flee from thee, whither could I go ? " If 1
scale heaven, or if I spread the grave" (Alexander), or if (ver. 1 )
the thought occurs, " 1 will raise the wing of morning," travel-
ling swift as the light which travels 200,000 miles in a second,
all would be vain. Whither, then ? Not to Heaven, for that
is the very centre and seat of his manifested presence ; not to
Hell, i. e., sheol, or the grave, for the disembodied spirit is even
more than before in his felt presence ; not to any part of crea-
tion, for his providence is at work there in every sparrow that
lights on the ground. What a comforting thought to a believer !
If God's eye is on me, then I am blessed, though I be obscure,
and though I suffer unheeded by man. He is with the prisoner
in the Inquisition, with the soldier, the sailor, the miner ; yes,
he is so truly with his saints, that wherever their dust may be
laid, he will find it, and gathering every particle from the dark
grave, will raise up therefrom a glorious body. And let us
note that verse 10 expresses the gracious leading of a father
and friend — " Thy hand would lead me," like verse 5 ; while
verse 11 is still more expressive of favour —

" If I sliould say, surely the darkness will crush me, (^i31ti^^)
2 '/ten night woidd be light about me."

Were I apprehensive of danger, some appalling evil ready to
crush me (^Iti^, as Job ix. 17, and as Gen. iii. 15) during the
darkness, the Omnipresent One would haste to my help. Is
there any reference to Satan's " hour and power of darkness"
involved in this use of the first word applied to his assaults on
the woman's Seed {^W) ?

In verses 13-18, there is adoration of Jehovah as owner
and Creator of men. " For thou (^n^i), and no other, possess-
est andhast the right to my most inmost parts ;" and then
he sings of the wonderful work of the heavenly Father, forming
the human frame, closing with that (?xclamation of amazed
delight —


'^ Holo precious are thy thoughts to me, God !
I will count them ! — (but no) — nioi-e than sand they are many !"

lu this there is a resemblance to Psa. xl. 5, where we find Christ
identifying himself with his own, and wondering at his Father's
thoughts " to us ward." There, however, it is chiefly his
thoughts, or plans, about our redemption, while here it is more
specially about our creation. Unless, indeed, we suppose that
the glowing description of verses 14, 15, 16, may refer, not to
creation only, but also to the forming anew of the body after it
has lain in the dust, when it is to arise in honour, in glory, in
power, the very likeness of Christ's perfect human form.

In verses 19, 20, there is presented to us the omniscient and
omnipresent Creator as Judge. It is literally, " If thou
wouldst slay the wicked !" — an unfinished sentence, pointing
at the temble results. Though at present he bears long with
the ungodly, he hates their sin, and will destroy the sinner.
In this he glances at the great day when the Judge shall say,
" Depart."

In verses 21, 22, there is a. protestation art the part of the
Psalmist, against all who are foes to Jehovah whom he has
held up to our adoration. It reminds us of John xxi. 17.

In verses 23, 24, there is a prayer that this omniscient and
oDinipresent Creator woidd keep his worshipper for ever on
his side. Some render '* wicked way " (ver. 24), the way of an
idol (so Gesenius) ; but Hengstenberg seems right in rendering
it, " the way of paiyi ;" that leads to pain or trouble ; the con-
trast of the " everlasting way," (the " ancient paths' of Jere-
miah vi. 16), where a man finds rest to his soul. This is the
way that ushers a man into the kingdom, into the bliss of the
ages to come. It reminds us of Isaiah xxxv. 8, the holy way
in which those walk who enjoy the bliss of the Restored

Thus we see that this Psalm is one of joy and happy confi-
dence in God, abounding in views that enlarge the heart and
strengthen it. It expresses the worshippers happy remem-
brance of the omniscient and omnipresent God ;

Sutisfwfion in thinking upon the all-knowing Cre(d

Online LibraryAndrew A. (Andrew Alexander) BonarChrist and His Church in the Book of Psalms → online text (page 39 of 42)