Andrew A. (Andrew Alexander) Bonar.

Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms online

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9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth : my flesh also shall

rest in hope.

10 For thou wilt not leaA'e my soul in hell ;

Neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life : — in thy presence is fulness of joy ;
At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

It is not sin alone that characterises our world. Misery goes ^^/'Jorpow'"^"'^'
hand in hand with sin. And hence, as the preceding Psalm
set before us One who was holy in the midst of a world lying
in wickedness, though breathing its air, walking on its high-
way, handling its objects, and conversing with its inhabitants,
so this Psalm exhibits One who is happy, truly happy, not-
withstanding a world of broken cisterns around him, and the
sighs borne to his ear on every breeze. This happy One is



02 PSALM XVI. — MESSIAH S SATISFACTION WITH HIS LOT.

" tJie Man of Sorroivs" — no other than He ! For Peter, in
Acts ii. 31, declares, " David speaketh concerning Him !"

This happy One (followed in all ages by his chosen ones)
walks through many a varied scene, and at every step expresses
satisfaction and perfect contentment with the Father's arrange-
ments. In verses 1, 2, he tells, with complacent delight, into
whose hands it is he has committed his all : " Thou art my
Lord," — my soul has said this with all its strength. And

" Mj/ goodness is not over Thee ;"
whatever is good or blessed in my lot, makes no pretensions
to add anything to thy blessedness, to overshadow thee ; nor
do I allow the bliss I enjoy to supersede Him who blesses me.*
And does not every member of his body respond to all this !
Who of them does not reply, " My Lord and my God ! thou
art the very bower of bliss under which I sit. We are blessed in
thee ; but thou needest not us to bless thee I"

Satisfied with his Father as God, and Lord, and Guardian,
he is equally so with the sphere within which he must move :
" Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus." None on
earth, seem to Him so pleasant and " honourable" (D^'''7^uiwe\er,



The tone.



51 PSALM XVII. — DISSATISFACTION WITH A PRESENT WORLD.

more like still that the term, " Michtam" (like " Maschil"), is a
musical term, whose real meaning and use we have lost, and
may recover only when the ransomed house of Israel return
home with songs. Meanwhile the subject-matter of this Psalm
itself is very clearly this —

The Righteous One's satisfaction with his lot.



PSALM XVIL

A Prayer of David.

1 Hear the right, O Lord, attend unto my cry,

Give ear unto my prayer, that goeth not out of feigned lips.

2 Let my sentence come forth from thy presence ;
Let thine eyes behold the things that arc equal.

3 Thou hast proved mine heart ; thou hast visited me in the night ;
Thou hast ti-ied me, and shalt find nothing ;

I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.

4 Concerning the works of men,

By the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer.

5 Hold up my goings in thy paths, — that my footsteps slip not.

6 I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, O God :
Incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech.

7 Shew thy marvellous loving-kindness, O thou that savest by thy right hand.
Them which put their trust in thee from those that rise up against them.

8 Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings,

9 From the wicked that oppress me, from my deadly enemies, who com-

pass me about.

10 They are enclosed in their own fat : with their mouth they speak proudly.

11 They have now compassed us in our steps :

They have set their eyes bowing down to the earth ;

12 Like as a lion that is greedy of his prey.

And as it were a young lion lurking in secret places.
] 3 Arise, O Lord, disappoint him, cast him down :

Deliver my soul from the wicked, which is thy sword :

14 From men which are thy hand, O Lord,

From men of the world, which have their portion in this life,

And whose belly thou fillest with thy hid treasure :

They are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes.

15 As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness :
I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.

The same strain again — only here the sin and sorrow of the
Avorld are brought together, and the Righteous One is seen



PSALM XVII. — DISSATISFACTION WITH A PRESENT WORLD, 55

lifting his eyes to heaven, as sure conqueror over both. Earth,
whether viewed from the top of Peor, or the field of Zophim,
is still the same fallen earth ; and not less gratefully does the
shout of the King of Jeshurum greet our ears, by whatever
cliff of Pisgah it may happen to be echoed back. It is called
A Prayer, for it consists of strong appeals to God.

While fully satisfied with his lot, the Righteous One tells
us how little reason there is to be satisfied with the world
wherein his lot was for a time cast. Dissatisfied with man's
judgment, he appeals to the Lord, and ver. 1 is equivalent to
those two words in his prayer (John xvii. 25), " righteous
Father." Before Him he spreads his cause, expecting (ver. 2, 3)
a reversal of the world's sentence. The Father " proved him
and could find nothing." Was it to this he referred in John
xiv. 30, when telling of Satan's attempt ? Mysterious trial !
all-perfect righteousness ! Heaven and hell have tried it ; and
neither the holiness of God, nor the envy of Satan, could detect
a flaw. We find him appealing to the Father as to his heart
(ver. 3), as to his words (ver. 4), and as to his ways (ver. 5)
— sure of the verdict from the lips of Holiness itself. And,
united to Him, each believer may make the same appeal, with
the same success, while he is led also, in the very act of so
doing, to plant his steps in the footsteps of his all-perfect
Surety. In ver. 6, emphasis rests on / C^S) ; " I have called ;"
let others do the same.

Still dissatisfied with men, in ver. 6-8 He seems to unbosom
himself to the Father, fixing his eye on the marvellous love
shewn in redemption, "the tender mercies," or "bowels of
mercy," by reason of which the " Dayspring from on high hath
visited us," (Luke i. 78).

" Single out thy lovingkindness, fhou deliverer oftlwse that trust."

Saints are called "Trusters," (D^Din) and the prayer is,
" Set apart (Psalm iv. 3) for me some special mercy. Make
it appear in its singular brightness, O thou who deliverest me
who trust in Thee, and wilt deliver all others who simply trust
in Thee through me ! " We, too, may follow Him even into the
very secret of the Most High, when in ver. 8 he presses for-
ward and sits down under the wings of majesty and love — at



56 PSALM XVII. — DISSATISFACTION WITH A PRESENT WORLD.

rest in the " God of Israel, under whose wings he has come to
trust.'" And here we may, with our Head, survey the turmoil
of human wickedness, beholding (verses 9-14) their assaults,
their snares, their lion-like anger, their conspiracies, and, in
ver. 14, their luxury and worldly ease.

" Ml/ soul deliver from the wicked, hy thy sword,
From men, by thy hand, Lord,

From men!''' (Perhaps, frail, dying men, if D"'Jni!3 be connected
with r)'!\t2 to die.)

" From the transitory world .'"
Grieved at such scenes, the Righteous One suddenly darts his
eye into the future, and anticipates resurrection-glory, — a glory
that shall cast human splendour into the shade, and leave the
Lord's people without one unsatisfied desire. Our Head sung,
in prospect of his resurrection, and we, his members, sing, in
prospect of ours, —

" But as for me I shall behold his face in righteousness." (Ver. 15.)
O righteous Father, O holy Father (John xvii.), I come to thee,
and, for ever dead unto sin, and escaped from the world's miry
clay, I shall stand before Thee who art righteous in the beauty
of pure righteousness. And my dissatisfactions shall be for-
gotten when entering on that enjoyment, — thou appearing in
glory to meet me, and I conformed to the glory that meets me
at my rising,

^^ I shall he satisfied tvhen thy likeness awakes " —
This likeness is spoken of in Numb. xii. 8. It is the mani-
festation of God in his glory. The "glory of the Father"
(Rom. vi. 8) met Christ at the sepulchre, and He arose glo-
rious, soul and body. So shall it be with each of his members.
Christ our Life, the incarnate manifestation of the likeness of
God, shall appear in glory ; and we shall instantly be con-
formed to Him "seeing Him as He is" (J John iii. 2). The
appearing of that glory, in om: dark world, whence it has so
long been exiled, seems to be meant by the " awakening of His
likeness." Psalm Ixxiii. 20 speaks of it again, and attributes
to that event the eternal confusion of the worldlings who had
their portion and cup fidl for a season.

It was in the act of singing these Avords, as they stand in the



PSALM XVIII. — MESSIAH SAVED AND GLORIFIED. 57

metrical version, that one of our Scottish martyrs, Alexander
Home, passed from the scaffold to glory. With a solemn eye
and glowing soul, he was able amid gathered thousands to ex-
press his rest and hope in these words, —
" But as for me I thine own face
In righteousness shall see ;
And with thy likeness when I wake
I satisfied shall be."

And who of all the saints would not join him ? Who would
not take up every clause of the whole Psalm ? Who would not
spnpathize in
The Righteous One's dissatisfaction ivith a pr-esent world?



PSALM XVIII.

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, the servant of the Lord, who spalco unto the Lord the
words of tliis song in the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies,
and from the hand of Saul : And he said,

1 I WILL love thee, O Lord, my strength.

2 The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer ;
My God, my sti-eugth, in whom I will trust ;

My buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

3 I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised :
So shall I be saved from mine enemies.

4 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made

me afraid.

5 The sorrows of hell compassed me about : the snares of death prevented me.

6 In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God :

He heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even
into his ears.

7 Then the earth shook and trembled ;

The foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he
was wroth.

8 There went up a smoke out of his nostrils,

And fire out of his mouth devoured : — coals were kindled by it.

9 He bowed the heavens also, and came down : and darkness was under

his feet.

10 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly : yea, he did fly upon the wings

of the wind.

11 He made darkness his secret place ;

His pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.

12 At the brightness that was before iiim his thick clouds passed, — hail-stones

and coals of fire.



58 PSALM XVIII. — MESSIAH SAVED AND GLORIFIED.

13 The Lord also thundered in the heavens,

And the Highest gave his voice ; — hail-stones and coals of fire.

14 Yea, he sent out his arrows, and scattered them ;
And he shot out lightnings, and discomfited them.

15 Then the channels of water were seen, and the foundations of the world

were discovered
At thy rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils.

16 He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters.

17 He delivered me from my strong enemy.

And from them which hated me : for they were too strong for me.

18 They prevented me in the day of my calamity : — but the Lord was my stay.

19 He brought me forth also into a large place ; — he delivered me, because he

delighted me.

20 The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness ;
According to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me.

21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed

from my God.

22 For all his judgments were before me, and I did not put away his

statutes from me.

23 I was also upright before him, and I kept myself from mine iniquity.

24 Therefore hath the Lord recompensed me according to my righteousness,
According to the cleanness of my hands in his eyesight.

25 With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful ;
With an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright ;

26 With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure ;

And with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward.

27 For thou wilt save the afilicted people ; but wilt bring down high looks.

28 For thou wilt light my candle : the Lord my God -will enlighten my

darkness.

29 For by thee I have run through a troop ; and by my God have I leaped

over a wall.

30 As for God, his way is perfect : the word of the Lord is tried :
He is a buckler to all those that trust in him.

31 For who is God save the Lord? or who is a rock save our God ?

32 It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.

33 He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and setteth me upon my high places.

34 He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.

35 Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation :

And thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made
me great.

36 Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet'did not slip.

37 I have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them :
Neither did I turn again till they were consumed.

38 I have Avounded them that they were not able to rise:— they are fallen

under my feet.

39 For thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle :
Thou hast subdued under me those that rose up against mc.



PSALM XVIII, — MESSIAH SAVED AND GLORIFIED. 59

40 Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies ;
That I might destroy them that hate me.

41 They cried, but there was none to save them : — even unto the Lord, but

he answered them not.

42 Then did I beat them small as the dust before the wind :
I did cast them out as the dirt in the streets.

43 Thou hast delivered me from the strivings of the people -.
And thou hast made me the head of the heathen :

A people whom I have not known shall serve me.

44 As soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me :
The strangers shall submit themselves unto me.

45 The strangers shall fade away, and be afraid out of their close places.

46 The Lord liveth ! and blessed be my rock ; and let the God of my salva-

tion be exalted.

47 It is God that avengeth me, and subdueth the people under me.

48 He delivereth me from mine enemies :

Yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me .
Thou hast delivered me from the violent man.

49 Therefore will I give thanks imto thee, Lord, among the heathen,
And sing praises unto thy name.

50 Greatdeliverancegiveth he to his king ; and sheweth mercy to his anointed,
To David, and to his seed for evermore.

This is a Psalm of " The Lord's Servant," a title given to one
called to specific services for God. It was given into the hands
of " The Chief Musician" on the day when the Lord had de-
livered from every foe. The circumstances were peculiar, and
so is the style of the song. Thus ver. 1, " / will love thee" is
expressed by the unusual word D^"^^?, which can be expressed
only by some such paraphrase as " My bowels yearn in love to
thee"* And then the next term, " My strength," ''pfri is rare
but very expressive, equivalent to, '' Thou who hast held me up
firm and fast."

It is meant for a greater than David, but David's circum-
stances furnished an appropriate occasion for giving to the
Church a song such as might suit Messiah, and all his members
too. David's circumstances, that made him suitable to be the
vehicle of this divine communication, have moulded the lan-

* Sternhold had no doubt felt that there was something veiy energetic in
the original, and so he has versified it thus, with considerable success :
" God, my strength and fortitude
Of force I must love thee ;
Thou art my castle and defence
In my necessity."'



60 PSALM XVIII.— MESSIAH SAVED AND GLORIFIED.

guage ; but we are not to carry the allusion to liis history too far.
Some have supposed that there is reference in verses 7-15 to
some tempest that helped David's victory on some occasion ; but
we may be content with observing that the style is coloured by
David's experience. Thus, ver. 2 amplifies the ^p^H of ver. 1.
" The Lord is my )^^D :" my precipitous rock (like 1 Sam.
xxiii. 28), which foes find inaccessible. " My iTlliiD strong-
hold" amid such rocks ; like those of Engedi, 1 Sam. xxiii. 29.
" My deliverer," not leaving me simply to the defence of rocks,
but himself interposing with his loving arm. " My God! "
not deliverance only to me, but every thing, my all in all !
" My l^ii," my firm, immoveable rock (Isa. xxvi. 4) who never
changes. " In Him will 1 trust" In such a one as this may
I not be satisfied? And when I go forth to the battle field,
this Jehovah is " My Shield ;" and by Him I win victory ;
" The horn of my Salvation !" And as I return to my encamp-
ment on yonder height, such as 1 Sam. xxvi. 1 3 used to be to
me, far above the reach of foes, I sing of Him as " My High
Place''' the height where I repose secure.

But the Psalm was meant for the Lord Jesus very specially. It
presents a singular history of some portions of our Lord's mighty
undertakings, all related in such a manner as that his mem-
bers (and David among the rest) might often use it for them-
selves. In Heb. ii. 1 3, Paul quotes verse 2 as our Lord's words :
" / will put my trust in him ;" to shew that Christ, as our
brother, leant on God, just as we ourselves would lean our
weakness on Almighty strength. And again, in Eom. xv. 9,
he quotes verse 49, "I will confess to thee among the Gentiles,"
to shew Christ's deep interest in the world at large. So that
we have, by means of these two references, — one from the be-
ginning, the other from the close, — the whole Psalm marked
out (bracketed within these two quotations) as belonging to
Christ in a special and direct manner.

It is, then, our Brother who here sings. (Heb. ii. 13.) He
begins with telling his younger brethren what his Father ("His
Father and ours") did for him in the day of the sadness of his
heart. He is relating some of the hidden things, which are
nowhere (^Ise recorded, but which fit in to the time of Gethse-



J



PSALM XVIII.— MESSIAH SAVED AND GLORIFIED. 61

mane sufferiug, and the three hours' darkness, and the earth-
quake, and the rending of the Temple veil, — things tliat took
place in the view of other spectators than man, when the "prince
of the air" was overthrown, and the Father, with his legions of
angels, came forward to deliver.

The mention of the " cherub" in verse 10 is not to be over-
looked : " He rode upon a cherub." Like a king or warrior,
the Lord is represented as going forth in his chariot ; but he
mounts, on that memorable day, a chariot whose coat of arms
is the cherub. He goes forth in his cherub-chariot, and this
is sufficient to shew the errand on which he is gone out : it is
redemption. For that symbol is the redemption-symbol.
Cherubim in paradise after the fall ; cherubim on the mercy-
seat, with their feet touching the blood, and their whole weight
on the ark ; cherubim on the veil that was rent ; — everywhere
cherub 1711 (the four living beings of Rev. iv.) represented the
Redeemed. How significant to the universe, when Jehovah
rose up with the symbol of man's redemption, to go forth to
the aid of man's Redeemer.

Let us begin, then. The true Sweet Singer of Israel, the
firstborn among many brethren, stands on the shore of his
Red Sea, and sings, in verses 1 and 2, the grace and glory
of his God. What a God he is : " My strength, my rock,* my
fortress," &c. Then comes the story of his awful conflict. He
traverses the field with us, and tells us of his cries that pierced
the heavens and the Father's heart (ver. 3-6), — a commen-
tary on Heb. v. 7. But from verse 7 to 15 what a scene of
terrific incidents is opened to view ! " The cords" of the hun-
ter " death" were enclosing him ; and the " torrents of Belial"
— floods swollen with all the mischief of hell and hellish men,
— were sweeping down upon him, when his cry began to be
noticed, and the Father rose up. Earth shook — smoke and
fire were seen by those same angels who were witnesses of the
smoke and fire on Sinai, attesting the majesty of the law ; and
the same heavens bowed that bowed when the Law was given,

* The clause, "God of my rock," in 2 Sam. xxii. 3, is properly " my rock-
God," i.e., my strong, rock-like, God.



(52 PSALM XVIII. — MESSIAH SAVED AND GLORIFIED.

the same darkness attended this descent, for now the Law-ful-
iUler was about to present the law fulfilled. He came with the
c/(!,er^t6-symbol, inasmuch as there was now to be redemption
from the curse of the law. But there was no abatement of his
glory — no obscuring of his majesty ; on the contrary, there
was the same covering of darkness, as when the law was given,
and thereafter the same brightness shot forth. Hailstones, too,



Online LibraryAndrew A. (Andrew Alexander) BonarChrist and His Church in the Book of Psalms → online text (page 6 of 42)