Andrew A. (Andrew Alexander) Bonar.

Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms online

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God, and doomed to " the vengeance of eternal fire," as the
^^ portion of their cup." It is the measured, just, and due
amount of wrath for their sins ; for it is called a cup-portion,

* " Shall the pillars be brangled," says Leighton somewhere, " because of the
swarms of flies upon tbcm ?"



" Ne quid praeter modum atque mensuram, vel in ipsis pecca-
torum suppliciis per divinam providentiam fieri arbitremur."
(August.) All this proceeds from the rectitude of Jehovah's
character : —

" For righteous is the Lord ; he loveth righteousness ;
His countenance doth behold the upright.'"
His righteousness sees it meet thus to visit the ungodly with a
Sodom-doom ; and on the other hand, to look with favour on
his Abrahams at Mamre, and no longer " hide himself," as in
Psalm X, 4. It is somewhat remarkable that in ver. 7 the He-
brew uses the plural for " His countenance." Critics are con-
tent to call this use of iD'']3Z), " their countenance," by the
name pluralis majestatis; and to say that it may express perfec-
tion, or greatness, in Him of whom it is used. But if we admit
of a reference to the Trinity in Gen. i. 26, why not here ? The
countenance of the Godhead — Godhead in all its fulness — each
person of the Godhead — shall give a look of delighted approval.
" With a countenance full of paternal affection he beholds them
in the midst of their sorrows, until, admitted through mercy to
the glory from which he excludes the wicked, they behold that
countenance which has always beheld them." (Home.)

Our Lord might sicg this Psalm at Bethany on such occa-
sions as that mentioned in Luke xiii. 81, 32, when they came
and said, " Get thee out hence, for Herod will kill thee." And
he has left it for us, that we may use it, as no doubt David
used it when it was first given to the Church, in times of danger
and threatening. Dr AUix would apply it specially to the
Church after she fled into the wilderness ; comparing ver. 2,
with Rev. xiii. ] 4. It applies with almost equal fulness to all
these cases, and yet also to an individual believer's case when
tempted, like that good man who said, "Sirs, it is a great thing -
to believe that there is a God ! " It exhibits to us —

The Righteous One's faith under apparent disaster.



To the chief Musician upon Sheminith, A Psalm of David.

1 HELP, Lord ; for the godly man ceaseth ;

For the faithful fail from among the children of men !

2 They speak vanity every one with his neighbour :

With flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.

3 The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh

proud things :

4 Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail ; our lips are our own ;

who is lord over us ?
For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy,
Now will I arise, saith the Lord ;
I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him.

6 The words of the Lord are pure words :

As silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

7 Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this gene-

ration for ever,

8 The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted.

A Psalm for all ages, as well as for David's time. Elijah could The Tuie.
sing it, Jeremiah could sing it, and never was there a time when
this Psalm was more appropriate than in our own day. Though
written by David, and handed over to his " Chief Musician,"
and though the " Sheminith' s" now unknown strings were
touched by the fingers of a Levite whose heart could sigh in
sympathy with its strain of sad foreboding and present gloom,
it is, at the same time, quite a Psalm for the last days. The
Lord is called upon to arise, for the godly perish. You see a
little band gathered under the floating banner of their King,
who had promised to come to their help in due time. One after
another sinks down, wearied and worn, while the remaining
few, at each such occurrence, cry to their King — •

"Help, Lord!" (Ver. 1.)
This is the cry that ascends from the saints, as one after Tiie contents.
another of their number is successively gathered to the tomb ;
while , " I will arise," (ver. 4,) is the response that faintly
reaches their ear.

"Help, Lord !" is their cry as they witness the increase of
bold infidelity, (ver. 2), and hear such mutterings of boastful
pride as these :


" Ihrough our tongues loe are strong.

Our lips are with tis, {i. e-, are our help. — Hengstenberg.)
" }V7io is lord over us f (Ver. 2, 3.)

The power of human talent and the grandeur of man's intellect
are boasted of; while ver. 2, shews that these same persons
flatter each other into deceitful peace, and are living without
regard to the holy law of love. Meanwhile, the remnant who
sigh in secret to the Lord — a remnant hated and often in
danger (ver. 5) — are sustained by the sure word of promise.
They tell their hope and faith in ver. 6, when they describe
" Jehovah's words :"

" The ivords of the Lord are pure icords :
As silver tried in a /menace of earth*
Purified seven times J'
All He has spoken about the Woman's Seed from the be-
ginning'; all He has spoken of Him in whom all nations shall
be blessed ; all He has spoken of David and David's seed ; all
is sure, all shall come to pass. And so they sing, (ver. 7),
" Thou shalt keep them (i. e., thine own), and shalt preserve
them from this generation," — a generation so corrupt and evil
that one may say of it —

" The wicked walk on every side ;
Vileness is held in honour by the sons ofmen.^'

How descriptive of the latter days ! How like the times of
which Peter speaks, when men shall " speak great swelling
words of vanity," (2 Peter ii. 1 8), and shall boldly ask, " Where
is the promise of his coming ?" (iii. 4.) How descriptive, too,
of the consolation of the saints ; for Peter tells us that this
shall be their comfort, " The Lord is not slack concerning his
promise," (ver. 9) ; and " according to His promise" they shall
continue looking for the New Heavens and New Earth, (ver.
13). They know that the " words of the Lord are pure words."
They cannot fail.

Some of the features of this scene are to be found in all the
conflicts that have risen between the woman's seed and the

* The original is difficult. Hengstenberg's rendering gives additional force
to the comparison, — " the purijkd silver of a lord of earth" — the fine silver of
some prince. Such is God's promise ; no dross in it ; no exaggeration ; no deceit.


serpent's. At the same time, the times of David when he was
a persecuted man, though anointed to the kingdom, were such
that they might be compared to the days that precede the com-
ing of the Son of man. The flatterers of Saul hated David's
person and David's principles ; and could not fail to try to cast
contempt on " the Lord's words" in regard to him and his seed.
Such, also, were the days of the true David, our Lord, when He
appeared in our world as the Lord's anointed. We can easily
see how the proud Pharisees, Scribes, and Sadducees, might
be characterised by vers. 2, 8 ; and not less how, on such an
occasion as the Baptist's death, Jesus could use ver. 1. Let
us follow the Baptist's disciples, who have just buried their
master. They walk along in silent sadness ; for a witness to
the truth has perished. They seek out Jesus (Matt. xiv. 1 2),
and tell Him all that the foes of God have done. Jesus hears
and sympathises ; and may we not imagine the whole company
of disciples, with the master as " chief musician," sitting down
in the solitary place (ver. 13), and making it echo with the
plaintive cry, —

"Help, Lord, for the godly man ceaseth," c&c.
The Church's eye, anointed with eye-salve, has ever since
been able to discern in the world resemblances to the same
state of things ; and never more clearly than now. Hence
David, and David's Son, and the seed of David's Son, have
ever found the strain of this song fitted to express what the
world made them feel. Horsley entitles it, " Of free thinkers ;
their cunning, audacity, and final excision." But this is only
one aspect of it. It is rather,
The Righteous One's consoling assurance that the Lord's
word, though mocked at, shall not faU.


To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.

1 How long wilt thou foi-get me, O Lord ? for ever ?
How long wilt thou hide thy face from me ?

2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul, — having sorrow in my heart

daily ?
How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me ?


3 Consider and hear me, O Lord my God : lighten mine eyes, IcstT sleep

the sleep of death ;

4 Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him ;
And those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.

6 But I have trusted in thy mercy ;— my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.
6 I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.

Here is what has been called " the Righteous One's pathetio
remonstrance." The darkness may be felt ; the time seems
long ; the night wears slowly away ; hope deferred is making
the heart sick ; hea\dness hangs on the eyelid of the watcher.

"Sow long, Lord, will thou forget me still ?
How long wilt thou hide thy face from me ?
Hoio long shall I lay up counsel in my soul — sorrow in my heart daily ?

(Storing up plans of relief which all end in sorrovF.)
How long shall the enemy exalt himself over me V'

When David wandered in Judea, and mused on the long-
deferred promise of the Throne of Israel, he might use these
words first of all. When he saw no sign of Saul's dominion
ending, and no appearance of the Seed of the Woman, he was
in such circumstances as fitted him to be the instrument of the
Holy Ghost in writing for all after-times words which might
utter the feelings of melancholy weariness.

The Son of David came in the fulness of time. Many a night
of darkness He passed through. Sometimes the very shades
of death bent over Him. " My soul is exceeding sorrowful
even unto death \" Could He not most fitly take up ver. 4, as
He carried his cross along the " Via Dolorosa ?" Who more
fitly than he might appeal, —

" Consider, hear me, O Lord my God {Eli ! Eli !)
Make mine eyes glisten with joy,
Lest I sleep in death !

Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him,
Lest those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved .'"

High Priests, Governors, Scribes, Pharisees, Herodians, Sad-
ducees, common priests and common people, were all on the eve
of shouting triumph if He rose not from the grave ; and a burst
of joy from hell would respond to their derision if He failed to
arise, and failed to shew himself King of kings.


But not our Head only, every member of his body also, has
found cause oftentimes to utter such complaints and fears. A
believer in darkness — a believer under temptation — a believer
under the pressure of some continued trial — a believer spend-
ing wearisome nights, and lying awake on his couch, may find
appropriate language here wherein to express his feelings to God,
and all the more appropriate because it is associated with the
Saviour's darkness, and so assures us of his sjrmpathy. We
take up the harp which He used in Galilee and Gethsemane ;
and in touching its strings, do we not recall to our Head the re-
membrance of " the days of his flesh ?"

How glorious too, for the Church to join with her Head in
the prospects of ver. 5 : —

" But as for me C^2i^)) I have trusted in thy inercy,'''' £c.

Leaning on the Father's love amid these sorrowful appeals.
He was sure, and in him they are sure, of a day of glory dawn-
ing — joy coming in the morning. Verse 6th anticipates not
only His own resurrection, but the resurrection of the saints
also, and the glory of the kingdom : —

" I will sing unto the Lord, for He hath dealt hountifidhj witJi me."
Glory much more abounds — joy has set in instead of sorrow,
in full tide ; fruition more than realizing the most " ample
propositions that hope made" to the weary soul. And this is
the blessed issue of what Calvin would perhaps have called,
the " QuouSQUE DoMiNE," and which we may call.
The Righteous One's, Lord, how long ?


To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.

1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.

They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, — there is none that
doeth good.

2 The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men.
To see if there was any that did understand, and seek God.

3 They are all gone aside, they arc altogether become filthy :
There is none that doeth good, no, not one.



4 Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge ?

Who eat up my people as they eat up bread, and call not upon the Lord.

5 There were they in great fear: for God is in the generation of the


6 Ye have shamed the counsel of the poor, because the Lord is his refuge.

7 Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion !
When the Lord bringeth back the captivity of his people,
Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.

As we read these verses, we seem to pass from gloom to deeper
gloom ; and when ver, 7 suggests a remedy, it is as if a " spark
of light had been struck out from solid darkness." David
wrote it under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, but we know
not when ; it may have been in his wilderness-days, when
Judah seemed nearly as indifferent to Jehovah as were the
realms of the Gentiles. The title " Upon Mahalath," as in
Psalm Ixxxviii., has been considered by Hengstenberg, to be
not a name for a musical instrument, but as meaning " Upon
the sickness," the moral sore and sickness described in the
Psalm. Perhaps the title of Psalm Ixxxviii. favours this view.
But after all, some special instrument, used for melancholy sub-
jects, may be meant, and Gesenius has found for it an Ethiopic
root signifying, "to sing."

Messiah is the speaker far more than David ; for though
David could call the sheep of the house of Israel " my people,"
as being given him by the Lord, yet it is Messiah that is wont
to speak in this manner. He is the shepherd whose voice we
recognise here, saying, " They eat up my people." (ver. 4.) He
it is who describes our world's condition — Oh, how unlike the
heaven He had left ! But amid the flood. He descries the
waters receding. He sees the overthrow of the ungodly (ver,
5), and whence the grand deliverance is to come, (ver. 7.) De-
liverance is to appear on the walls of Zion. " Salvation is of
the Jews." (John iv. 22.) From Israel comes the Saviour, bom
at Bethlehem, but crucified, rising, ascending at Jerusalem.
Out of Israel too, comes life from the dead to the world, when
the Redeemer returns again ; for, " Behold, darkness shall cover
the earth, and gross darkness the people : but the Lord shall
arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And


the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the bright-
ness of thy rising," (Isaiah Ix. 2, S).

Let us, then, read this Psalm as our Lord's report regarding
the state in which earth and its multitudes are found.

(Ver. 1.) O Father, they are denying that thou hast any The contents,
being. The whole earth is replenished with fools, who say in
their heart, " There is no God." They are corrupt ; they are
doing abominable deeds ; there is none that doeth good.

(Ver. 2.) O sons of men, the cry of earth's wickedness came
up to heaven. The Lord looked down to see if there were any
that understood and sought after God.

(Ver. 3.) Alas ! it is altogether according to the cry. They
are all gone aside. They are altogether become filthy. There
I is none that doeth good : NO, not one.

j (Ver. 4.) Yet they see not their folly. Who has bewitched
i them ? Have they no knowledge, that they eat up my people,
i and call not on Jehovah ?

I (Ver. 5.) But their damnation slumbereth not. On the very
spot where their folly has been wrought I see them trembling.
" Terror overtakes them ; for God is among the generation of
the righteous."

(Ver. 6.) Where is now your mouth, wherewith ye said,
Who is the Lord that we should serve Him ? Is not this the
people whom ye despised ? (Jud. ix. 38.) Ye cast shame on
the counsel of the poor, because he made the Lord his refuge.
Ye scorned the policy of those who made the Lord their wis-
dom ; but the Lord has now laughed you to scorn.

(Ver. 7.) O let the day dawn and the shadows flee away !
Come quickly, year of my redeemed ! (Isaiah Ixiii. 4.)

" Ld Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad,
At the Lord's bringing back the captivity of His people."

Let the time come when earth' shall hear Israel's shouts of joy
at the opening of their prison, at the termination of their exile,
at the restoration of their long-lost prosperity, at the return of
their Shepherd to dwell among them. For when earth shall
hear that shout of joy, it shall be a token that now at length
has the time arrived when the full accomplishment shall take


place of that promise to Abraham, " In thy seed shall all na-
tions of the earth be blessed."

Thus does the true Righteous One survey the world lying in
wickedness, and turn his eye toward the dawn of day, every
member sympathizing with the Head. We may describe the
Psalm as being a setting forth of

The Righteous One's view of earth, and its 'prospects.


A Psalm of David.

1 LoHD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle ? who shall dwell in thy holy

hill ?

2 He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness,
And speaketh the truth in his heart.

3 He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour,
Nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.

4 In whose eyes a vile person is contemned ; — but he honoureth them that

fear the Lord.
He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.
6 He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against
the innocent.
He that doeth these things shall never be moved.

Holy. "We heard of a " righteous generation" in last Psalm, and here
is one of them as a representative of the whole. None can
be said to have fulfilled the conditions, or come up to the cha-
racter here sketched, excepting Christ, if we view the matter
in its strictness ; although every member of His body lays
claim to His imputed obedience, and exhibits a goodly speci-
men of the effect of this imputation in producing personal
holiness. We consider this Psalm as descriptive of our Head
in His personal holiness, and of his members as made holy by

It is one thing to state how holiness is attained, and quite
another to assert that perfect holiness is possessed. When you
describe a worshipper in the Holy Hill as one who is holy, you
do not on that account maintain that his holiness was self-de-


rived, or that it was his prmiary qualification. Far less do
you assert that holiness of character stands in the place of the
blood that cleanses the conscience. There are several links in
the golden chain, and my pointing to one of these does in no
way interfere with my conviction of the necessity of the rest.
If I find it said of our Lord : —

"It is Christ that died ;
Yea, rather, that is I'isen again !
Who is even at the right hand of God !
Who also maketh intercession for us,"

I may take up one feature of this Redeemer, and may say, " He
who saves us is One who is risen again ;" but by so saying I
do not deny, but rather necessarily include, the assertion, that
He died first of all. So also if I say, " He who is saved is one
who has holiness ;" I do not, by saying this, deny that the man
has first of all been made clean by the blood : on the contrary,
I imply that as a thing of course, necessarily preceding the
other. Again, if I say, " That Priest has washed his hands and
feet in the laver," I do not deny, but, on the contrary, neces-
sarily imply, that first of all he was at the Altar, and touched
the blood there. Or, once more, if I read 1 Tim. i, 5, —

" Now the end of the commandment is charity
Out of a pure heart,
And out of a good conscience,
And out of faith unfeigned,"

I may fix on the middle clause and say, the love, or charity,
aimed at by the law, is the product of a " good conscience."
But do I, on account of that statement, at all deny that "faith
unfeigned" is needful in order to arrive at a good conscience ?
It is even thus with our Psalm, when received as stating what
belongs to the members of Christ. It tells of their "pure
heart ;" but then that pure heart came from " a good con-
science ;" and that good conscience was the effect of" unfeigned
faith" in the blood.

It is, however, only our Head that can fully realize the cha-
racter here given. " Holiness to the Lord" is on our High
Priest's mitre, while we, as inferior priests, go forward in his


Tiie contents gteps, to dwcll in tliG Tabemacle.* The question is asked, ver.
1, " Who shall chvell ?" abide, be a guest for ever, in the palace
of our King and God ? Verse 2 tells the outward purity re-
quired, and the iniuard guilelessness. Verse 3, the purity of
^vord ; verse 4, conpany ; verse 5, disinterested and self-denied
love to His neighbours ; ver. 5, uprightness, if He once promise
he will not " exchange" his promise for anything more conve-
nient to himself, and will not fail to shew the heart of a brother
in everyday transactions. These are signs of a renewed nature,
very rare in our world, and such as manifest the man to be,
" though in the world, yet not of the world ." In verse 4, we have
the key to the difference between such a one and the man of
earth, "He honoureth thera that fear the Lord ;" his heart lies
in the company of those who fear Jehovah ; and if so, then he
himseK prefers Jehovah's company to all besides. He is one
who has fellowship with God.

The holy hill, g^t we uiust uot fail to notice the " Tabernacle " and the
''Holy Hill," where this man's dwelling shall be for ever.
The Tabernacle of Moses, which, in David's days, was pitched
on the slopes of Zion-hill, is the type of greater things. In
that figure we see God in the cloud of glory over the mercy-
seat, dwelling with men, and the Priest entering in on the
atonement-day, to His presence. All this was typical of what
is now before us in clearer light. The redeemed go in with
the blood of the Redeemer through the rent veil, (for the atone-
ment-day is " now") to Him who is in heaven. And when
the Lord returns, and the " Tabernacle of God is with men," —
when Christ, the true mercy-seat, is here — then shall we go
to that Tabernacle, and see Him, on that Holy Hill, where his
presence shall be manifested. (See this more at large in Psalm
xxiv.) But on that day none shall ascend that Hill^ or ap-
proach that Tabernacle, who are not " sanctified." On this
point Revelation xxi. 27 corresponds with our Psalm — into

* As Barclay puts it, with truth though not with poetic taste, —
" Now wlio is He ? Say if ye can
Who so shall gain the firm abode ?
Pilate shall say, ' Behold the Man ! '
And John, ' Behold the Lamb of God !' "

PSALM XVI. — Messiah's satisfaction with his lot. ol

New Jerusalem " there shall in no wise enter anything that
defileth or maketh a lie/' Over its gate is written, " Without
holiness no man shall see God."

Here, then, we have before lis a description of
The dweller in the Holy Hill of God.


Michtam of Davdd.

1 Preserve me, God : for in thee do I put my trust.

2 O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord :
My goodness extendeth not to thee ;

3 But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is

all my delight.

4 Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god :

Their drink-offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names
into my lips.

5 The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup : — thou main-

tainest my lot.

6 The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places ; yea, I have a goodly


7 I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel :
My reins also instruct me in the night seasons.

8 I have set the Lord always before me :

Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

Online LibraryAndrew A. (Andrew Alexander) BonarChrist and His Church in the Book of Psalms → online text (page 5 of 42)