Andrew A. (Andrew Alexander) Bonar.

Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms online

. (page 41 of 42)
Online LibraryAndrew A. (Andrew Alexander) BonarChrist and His Church in the Book of Psalms → online text (page 41 of 42)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

same (Tpt47>, the opposite of Ip'lt:^) as that in Deut. ii. 12, 21,
22, where we are told of the extirpation of various nations ; and
the same used in Isa. xiv. 23, of Babylon's ruin ; and the same
in Esther iii, 6, when Haman plotted to uproot Israel at one
blow. Antichrist shall be consumed and " destroyed" by the
brightness of the Lord's coming, and all that are on his side,
in that day when the King establishes his holy kingdom. On
the other hand, his saints shall be "preserved" (1 Tim. iv, 18),
not only from succeeding dangers, but from the grasp of death
itself, and brought by resurrection into his kingdom.

7. The harp invites all to join the sweet singer in praise


to the Kin(j, (vex. 21). We saw that the Psahn began by j)re-
fixing the peculiar title, " Praise/' TDHPi, in order to excite at-
tention, and tune our hearts for its lively, joyful, thrilling
strains. And now it closes, uttering the same note —
'• My month shall speak thepraise (H'j'ni^) of the Lord,"

the praise of Him who at the Red Sea was known as " terrible
in praises" {JTPlin), and who is known by Calvary, and by
scenes of judgment since then, and is to be known ere long in
scenes that will never be forgotten. " Let all flesh bless the
name of his holiness for ever ;" let them cry, in response to
the seraphim, " Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts ; the
whole earth is full of his glory ! " for we are borne onward to
the millennial day by this Psalm, which is so plainly
A praise-hymn concerning the kingdom of the Lord, and
the Lord the King,


1 Praise ye the Lord. Praise ye the Lord, O my soul !

2 While I live I will praise the Lord : I will sing praises unto my God while

I have any being.

3 Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is

no help.

4 His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth ; in that very day his

thoughts perish.
6 Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the
Lord his God :

6 Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is :

7 Which keepeth truth for ever: which executeth judgment for the op-

pressed :
Which giveth food to the hungry.

8 The Lord looseth the prisoners : the Lord openeth the eyes of the blind :
The Lord raiseth them that are bowed down : the Lord loveth the

righteous :

9 The Lord preserveth the strangers : he relieveth the fatherless and

widow :
But the way of the wicked he turneth upside down,
10 The Lord shall reign for ever,

Even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations.
Praise ye the Lord.


earth's great ones with JEHOVAH. 445

This is the beffinnins: of that closing series of Psahns which a Haiieiujah
has been called " Hallelujah Psalms." The Septuagint
ascribes this Psalm, and the three following, to the prophets
Haggai and Zechariah, but on what ground we know not. It
seems probable, however, that they are nearly right as to the
time of their composition ; for it is likely that as the day of
Christ's first coming approached nearer, the Holy Spirit did
indite songs of Zion that were fuller of triumph and praise
than any preceding ones, and so constructed them, too, that they
might be used afterwards in prospect of the day of his Second
Coming. In these latter Psalms, the tone is that of fieace at-
tained, and tribulation passed, for the most part. The Lord
Jesus himself, as well as his followers, could take up this Psalm.
Jehovah's peculiar character, in contrast to all earthly princes,
and benefactors, and friends, is the theme.

" I will praise Jehovah while I live ;
I will play to my God so long as I am."

Confide not in earth's nobles, earth's princely ones, who are
each of them but '' a son of man" (Dll^) returning to his
np"lJ^, dust ;

" For salvation is not in any one of them ; "

All their " thoughts," their schemes for good or for evil, pass
away. Blessed the man who has Jacob's God (7^^ the strong
one), " amid his help" (Psa. cxviii. 7, liv. 4) ; for he is Jehovah,
maker of heaven, earth, and sea ; and this Maker of heaven,
earth, and sea, is the same

" Who keepeth truth for ever I "
Whatever he has promised to the sons of men, he will perform.
Whatever he promised about " The Seed of the woman," he
will perform it. Whatever he has spoken to David of the
Son who was to sit on his throne, he will fulfil. Whatever he
has declared by his prophets regarding Israel, he will accom-
plish — " the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham," (Mic.
vii. 20). Yes, the truth shall assuredly be kept ; and there is
mercy too, there is love, there is grace in this truth. For
verses 7-9 describe the same Jehovah acting for men in ac-
cordance with his truth. We, in our day, read the Avords, and


at every step we see their verification in the incarnate Son of
God ; even as Jesus, in singing those words when on earth,
would have reference to himself as the great illustration of each
clause (Luke xviii. 75 ; Matt. ix. 27), and as he may have
thought upon them when he gave that answer to John's disciples,
Matt. xi. 4, 5, q. d., all that characterises Jehovah has been done
by me. Did not Jesus relieve " all that were oppressed of the
devil" (Acts x. S8), as a sample of verse 7 ; and did he not
" give food to the hungry," (John vi.) ? Did Jesus not set free
" the prisoners,'" when he beheld the Bethesda man, bound for
thirty-eight years (John v.), and when he sent his angel to set
Peter free, (Acts xii.) ? How often did he " open the eyes of
the blind !" and the literally " bowed down" he made straight
(Lu'ce xiii. 16), as well as the spiritually laden (Matt. xi. 20) ;
and, in spite of their low condition, "he loved the righteous" —
for a fisherman of Galilee lay on his bosom ; his parables told
of a diseased Lazarus ; and there was a Lazarus of Bethany, in
whom he delighted. We know his care " of the stranger ;"
for we read of his words to the S3a-ophenician, and to the
Samaritan leper (Luke xvii. 16-19); while " i/ie widow" oi
Nain, and his tender words in John xiv. 18, tell how he " re-
stored" {^'y\V'*) to cheerfulness the orphan and the widow. His
Second Coming shall tell what his purging the temple inti-
mated (John ii, 15, Matt. xxi. 12), namely, how
" He overturneth the wmj of (lie wicked.''

This is he who is " King" for ever ! This is " thy God,
Zion," who shall be thine to all generations. The mention of
such a King and God may well draw forth another " Halle-
lujah !" a " Hallelujah" such as we hear again in Rev. xix. ]-6,
when " the Lord God omnipotent reigneth." For " that great
voice of much people in heaven" fully accords in spirit, and
may be joined with the Psalm before us, uttering, as it does,
Rapturous praise, in contrasting all Earth's great ones with
Jehovah the King.



1 Praise ye the Lord !
For it is good to sing psalms unto our God ;
For it is pleasant ; and praise is comely.

2 The Lord doth build up Jerusalem : he gathereth together the outcasts of


3 He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.

4 He telleth the number of the stars ; he calleth them all by their names.

5 Great is our Lord, and of great power : his understanding is infinite.

6 The Lord lifteth up the meek : he casteth the wicked down to the ground.

7 Sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving ; sing praise upon the harp unto

our God :

8 Who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepai-eth rain for the earth,
Who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains.

9 He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry.

10 He delighteth not in the strength of the horse : he taketh not pleasure in

the legs of a man.

11 The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his


12 Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem ! praise thy God, O Zion.

13 For he has strengthened the bars of thy gates ; he hath blessed thy chil-

dren within thee.

14 He maketh peace in thy borders, and filleth thee with the finest of the

16 He sendelh forth his commandment upon earth : his word runneth very

16 He giveth snow like wool : he scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes.

17 He casteth forth his ice like morsels : who can stand before his cold ?

18 He sendeth out his word, and melteth them :
He causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow.

19 He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto


20 He hath not dealt so with any nation : and as for his judgments, they

have not known them.
Praise ye the Lord.

The God of Israel, what he has done, what he does, what he
can do— this is the " Hallelujah" note of his song. So glad- ""'*" ^'*""
some is the theme, that in verse 1 we find a contribution for
it levied on Psa, xxxiii. 1, xcii. 1, and cxxxv. 3 ; each must fur-
nish their quota of testimony to the desirableness of giving
praise to such a God.

The theme is stated in verse 2, and then expatiated upon n.f- theme.
onwards to the end of verse 11, where the Septua,gint finish

Another Halle-

448 rsALM cxLvii — Israel's praise to him who

the Psalm, casting the remaining verses into a Psahn by itself.
It is probably one of those songs of Zion which the Holy Ghost
gave to Israel under Nehemiah and Ezra, when the circum-
stances of that partial restoration furnished an appropriate oc-
casion for celebrating the joy of the still greater restoration in
the latter days, when Messiah should go up at the head of them.
Let us remark upon verse 4. It sets' forth the true great-
ness and grandeur of Israel's God, who can attend at once to
every wound of every broken-hearted one, and to the glorious
host of stars. This power of attending so carefully to what is
minute is peculiar to Jehovah. And he "counts" or deter-
mines the number of the stars, just as he does the dust of
Jacob (Num xxiii. 10) — assigning each his " name," according
to his quality, as Adam did to the creation in Paradise on a
limited scale, (Gen. ii. 20). His resources are inexhaustible, for
" His understanding is infinite," as well as his " power."
" Sing to Jehovah a responsive song^' i^\^Xl)-

like what we find in Nehem. xii. 27-43. For he, the God of
creation, feeds even the ravens (Luke xii. 24 may be Christ's
quotation of these words), disagreeable as these ravens often
seem to man ; and, judging not as man does, he delights in
his children's reverend faith, not in displays of warlike pomp
and military valour (ver. 10) — yes, in his children's godly fear,
and in their hope also.

" In the hopers for his mercg."

Prophetic Is not this equivalent to Jude 21, " who look for the mercy of
the Lord Jesus" at his coming ; and in 1 Pet. i. 1 3, " who hope
for the grace that is to be brought them at the appearing of
Jesus Christ." And it is at that day when (ver. 12-14) shall
be fully realised, Israel getting back again " the fat of wheat,"
as Moses sang, (Deut. xxxii. 14). On that day they will re-
member how, long ago, they had appealed to Jehovah as able
to reverse their captivity, even as he changed night unto day,
winter into summer, the floods into dry land, (Psa. Ixxiv. 1 5-1 7).
He who commands and forthwith snow appears, and who sum-
mons the frost to serve him and then dissolves it (see ver.
15-18), he it is who reverses Israel's desolation, sending his


word, relaxing their bonds, and causing rivers of milk and
honey to flow in their land, and themselves walk on the shady
banks. This is the God of Israel, who selected his people as
a peculiar people, in ages past, " declaring his word to Jacob,
his statutes and ordinances to IsraeV — the revealer of the
way of salvation, and the appointor of the types that fore-
shadowed better things, all which Israel enjoyed. He has
been sovereign from the first ; he will act in sovereignty to the
last. In times past, " He dealt not thus with any heathen
nation;" and to the end it will be seen that he has done for Israel,
in sovereign grace, more than he has done for all other peoples.
" Hallelujah," then ! Let a sovereign God be praised on earth
now, even as he shall be by the " voice of much people in
heaven" (Psa. xix. 1), who see him glorified in his mysterious
dealings and terrible judgments. Let us take up this calmly
triumphant song of
Israel's praise to the sovereign Jehovah, who blesseth and
rejoiceth over their nation restored to frosperity.


1 Praise ye the Lord !

Praise ye the Lord from the heavens : praise him in the heights.

2 Praise ye him, all his angels : praise ye him, all his hosts.

3 Praise ye him, sun and moon : praise him, all ye stars of light.

4 Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the


5 Let them praise the name of the Lord !
For he commanded, and they were created.

6 He hath also stablished them for ever and ever : he hath nuule a decree

which shall not pass.

7 Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps :

8 Fire, and hail ; snow, and vapours ; stormy wind fulfilling his word :
y Mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars:

10 Beasts, and all cattle ; creeping things, and flying fowl :

1 1 Kings of the earth, and all people ; princes, and all judges of the earth :

12 Both young men, and maidens : old men and children :

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord !

For his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven.

14 He also cxaltcth the horn of his people, the praise of all his saints ;
Even of the children of Israel, a people near unto him.

Praise yc the Lord.


450 PSALM cxLviii. — Israel's adoration of him who has

itffpsai^"^' ^^^ Apociypha has borrowed from this Psahn the supposed
Tiie tone and ^°^S ^f the three Hebrew youths in the fiery furnace. It is
plan, Israel's uncontrollable burst of praise at the thought of him

who makes them " a people near to him ;" a priestly people
(see Levit. x. 3 ; Ezek. Ixii. 13 ; Deut. iv. 7 ; and Num. xvi.
5-9). How they rejoice before him in the latter day ; restored
from their wanderings ! One great deed of a benefactor excites
us to draw the attention of others to him, and inclines us to
dwell upon all that is in him ; and so it is here with Israel in this
" Hallelujah." They call for praise "■from the heavens ;" they
bid those " in the heights" give praise ; " all angels," of what-
ever rank, " all his hosts," with one accord. Sun at noon,
moon at midnight, stars so bright (the visible host of the sky,
as the angels are the invisible), " heaven of heavens," where
is the orbit of the planet and the path of the comet, and the
track of every star ; " waters above the heaven," or firmament,*
the clouds of the sky — unite ye in one song of praise ! Do ye
wonder at this summons ? Why should ye ? (Gen. i 7.)

" For he commanded and they were created,^' —

Yes, even angels ; for, as Augustine says, in Psa. Ixxi. 1 9, " Ne
putes hominem solum pertinere ad gratiam Dei. Quid erat
Angelus antequam fieret ? Quid est angelus, si deserat qui
creavit ?" Again, then, he takes up the call — and now it is
as if one from heaven looked down to earth and summoned
it to praise, as before it was one on earth looking upward to
heaven. " Praise ye Jehovah /rom the earth !" Ye sea-mon-
sters, ox great ivhales (Gen. i. 21), and ye floods wherein they
swim ; heat and cold, white snow and dark smoke (Gen. xix.
20 ; Psa. cxix. 83, Hengstenberg) ; strong ivind that, amid
apparent anarchy, dost his will; mountaAns, and more lowly
hills, diversifying the face of earth ; ye palms and pomegra-
nates, fruit-trees, ye firs and pines, " cedars of every kind ;"
wild beasts and tame ; reptiles ^wdfoiuls of every wing, whether
small as the wren, or majestic as the eagle — unite in one song
of praise ! All the more because ye, too, sliall be delivered

1- Th
third heaven

lis is the _/?)•.«< Aeai'ejis, the sky ; \\\q frcoiid is that just mentioned; the
:avens was ealled upon in verses 1, 2.


from the bondage of corruption, and have your share in the
millennial liberty of the sons of God, (Rom. viii, 2 1 ).

As in creation, so here, man appears on the scene last of all,
just because chief of all.

" Kings of earth, mid all ye tribes,
Princes, and all earth's judges.'"

Young men, who are in your strength ; maide?is in your
beauty ; old men, with lips of age dropping wisdom ; children,
who can only lisp his name — all of you join, for there is no
name exalted but his alone. " His beauty is over earth and
heaven" — his beauty (lin, Psa. cxlv. 5), his splendour, sheds
its beams now over the earth as well as heaven. For the
times of refreshing are come.

And of all men, none should so extol him as his peculiar
people Israel. For,

" HeTiatli raised up a horn for his people. "
He has fulfilled the words of Zechariah, (Luke i. 69). Messiah
has come ; Messiah, with all the blessings purchased at his
first coming, is now made known to Israel, and has pushed
Israel's enemies off the field. And he who is this horn is
" the theme of praise" to the peculiar people, and to all
saints besides, wherever found, though none have more reason
than Israel to adore and love him who saves the chief of sin-
ners, and in sovereignty exalts the stiffnecked people to pre-
eminence among the nations, making them a people ii'lp " His
intimate friend,'" as Psa. xxxviii. 12 ; Ixxv. 2 ; Job xix. 14.

" Tlie theme of praise (as Dent. x. 21,'T[/l'j)nri KIH) '« all his saints.
To the children of Israd, a people near to him /"'
"Hallelujah I"

Surely the "great voice of much people in heaven, saying,
Hallelujah !" (Rev. xix. ]) will present an appropriate re-
sponse to the call in verses 1-6. And not less does their sum-
mons to men on earth (Rev. xix. 5, 6) accord with the call in
verses 7-13. Indeed, there is the very tone and energy of
heaven in this glorious burst of praise —

Israel's rapturous hurst of ad oration to Him u>ho makes them
a people near to him.



1 Praise ye the Lord !

Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise in the congregation of

2 Let Israel rejoice in him that made him :

Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.

3 Let them praise his name in the dance :

Let them sing praises unto him with the trimbrel and harp.

4 For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people : he will beautify the meek

with salvation.

5 Let the saints be joyful in glory : let them sing aloud upon their beds.

6 Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in

their hand ;

7 To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishment upon the

people ;

8 To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron ;

9 To execute upon them the judgment written : this honour have all his

Praise ye the Lord.

Another Halle- This Hallelujoh Psalm begins somewhat in the strain with
ujah sam ^\^\q\^ ^\^q preceding one closed. In Psa. cxlviii. 14, not Israel
only, but " all saints/' were represented as giving honour to
him who had in sovereign grace redeemed his people ; and so
here, while Israel are called on as peculiarly indebted to Jeho-
vah, yet all saints are joined with them in the triumphant song.

" Sing to Jeliovah a new song ;
Let Ms praise he in the congregation of saints." (Psa. cxlviii. 14.)

Are we not carried away to the scene in Rev. v. 9, to the " new
song" to the Lamb who takes the book and opens its seals, and
claims possession of earth ? Let all saints accord in this great
hymn of triumph. Yet let Israel not fail to lift up their voice
above all others, for they have been peculiarly honoured, and
are above all others exalted. " Let Israel rejoice in him that
MADE HIM," i. €., made him what he is, as Deut. xxxii. 6 ; Isa,
Ivi 5.; Job XXXV. 10. "Let Zions children rejoice in their
King" who takes them under his special protection, and deigns
to be specially called " King of the Jews."

" Praise His name in the dance,
Play to Him with timbrel and harp ;"


as David before the ark (2 Sam. vi. 5, 1 4, 1 5), and as Jephthah's
daughter welcoming her sire, (Judges xi. 34). For the Lord
" gloriously helps the wretched" (sa}^ some), or better far,
"Beautifies the meek with salvation," i. c, with all the spoils
of that victory which he has achieved.

" Let Ms saints exult in joy /" —

No longer obscure, despised, the offscouring of all things, but
glorious in the glory of their King, let them joyfully exult.
And " on their couches" when resting from active work and
meditating on the Lord's ways (not as Psa. xxxvi. 14, nor
Psa. iv. 4 even ; but in loftier and happier themes) " let them

" High praises loudly sung,
The two-edged sword waved aloft /"

The " exaltings" or " extollings' seem to refer us to all pre-
vious psalms wherein worshippers have said — " I will extolihee,
O God," for the root is the same ; and here, " in their throat"
as it is in the Hebrew, is equivalent to speaking aloud, like
Isa. Iviii, 1 ; the very opposite of the heathen's dumb idols,
Psa. cxv. 7. And what is the " Two-EDGED sword ?" Is it not
the peculiar symbol of Messiah ? As Bunyan represents his
captains with their escutcheons — Captain Boanerges, with three
burning thunderbolts ; Captain Execution, with the axe lying
at the foot of the tree — so we may say that the escutcheon of
the King that cometh to avenge his Father's honour, is the
two-edged sword : for thus we find it in Rev. i. 16, ii. 12, as
well as Heb. iv. 12; and we may add Rev. xix. 15. It is
the Ehud-dagger (Judg. iii. 16) that slays the oppressor. The
time is come for this now. " The meek" (ver, 4) put on salva-
tion-strength ; and their King associates them with himself in
the battle. It is like Rev. ii. 26-27, and iii. 21 , even as " beau-
tifying with salvation" is like Rev. ii. 28. Some, indeed, con-
fine this to Israel, and compare Jer. Ii. 20, 21. But as we find
"all the saints'^ associated in the work, we prefer the view that
makes verses 6-9 to refer to "the saints judging the ivorld."
They are figuratively said to lift up the " two-edged sword," be-
cause they join with Messiah in inflicting the fourfold vengeance,
(Deut. xxxii. 41). At the same time, Israel in the flesh shall


be acting a part analogous to that of their King and his
heavenly hosts, (Ezek. xxxviii., Zech. xiv,).

What an echoing back of this song is Rev. xix. 1-6, with all
its '* Hallehtjahs !" Israel is the chief musician, or rather,
their King. Messiah himself leads the praise ; but it is for the
lips of the whole congregation of his redeemed — " lids honour
is to all his saints." Still, sovereign grace puts Israel promi-
nently forward ; so that we cannot fail to see in this Psalm,
Triumphant praise from Israel, because of their King and
all his saints subduing the nations.


1 Praise ye the Lord !
Praise God in his sanctuary :

Praise him in the firmament of his power.

2 Praise him for his mighty acts :

Praise him according to his excellent greatness.

3 Praise him with the sound of the trumpet :
Praise him with the psaltery and harp.

4 Praise him with the timbrel and dance :

Praise him with stringed instruments and organs.

5 Praise him upon the loud cymbals :

Praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.

6 Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord.
Praise ye the Lord.

When men presume to dictate to the Spirit of God, how deep
their fall ; as we see in the apocryphal attempts at writing
books of scrij)ture to be added to the genuine word of God.
So it happens here, also ; for the Septuagint have not been
content to close the Book of Psalms with this most lofty and
sublime doxology, but have added a psalm about David's his-
tory — a tame piece of prose* that surprises every one by its in-
appropriateness in such a position. But the true close is the
1 50th Psalm, of which it may be said, that as the preceding

* It begins thus —

" I was little among my brethren, and tlic youngest in my lather's honse.
I fed the sheep of my father. My hands miirte the organ."

and ends with —

" I went forth to meet the uncircnmcised, and lie cursed me by his idols.
But I, drawing his own sword from liini, cut off hi,'* head, and took away reproach
from the children of Israel."



Online LibraryAndrew A. (Andrew Alexander) BonarChrist and His Church in the Book of Psalms → online text (page 41 of 42)