Andrew A. (Andrew Alexander) Bonar.

Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms online

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ing round the tower, on the Father hj faith. In this He was
our pattern.

" The King trusted in the Lord.''' (Ver. 7.)
He is the true example of faith, surpassing all the "elders who
have obtained a good report ;" he is " captain and perfecter of
faith ;" he leads the van and he brings up the rear, in the ex-
amples of faith given on this world's theatre. (Heb. xii. 3.)
And the Father's love rests on Him for ever ; that love ("ten-
der mercy," ver. 7) of which he prayed in John xvii. 26, that
the same might ever be on us.

And now the scene changes ; for, lo ! he has risen up !

" Thy hand finds out all thine enemies ;

" Yea, thy hand finds out all that hate thee !

" T/iouputtest them in a furnace of fire," &c. (Ver. 8, 9.)

It is his rising up to judgment ! His foes hide in the caves
and rocks of earth, but he finds them out. It is the day which
burns as an oven (Malachi iv. 1) that has come at length. It
is the ^OSiny ; the time of liis livesencQ; the day of his appear-
ing ; " the day of his /ace" — that face before which heaven and


earth flee. His enemies flee, and they perish in their impo-
tence, his arrows striking them through, (Ver. 1 2).
" Theij formed a design loliicli they could not effect,''''

is truly the history of man's attempts to thwart God, from the
day of Babel tower down to the day when Babylon and Anti-
christ perish together. And who would not have it so ? Who
will not join the Church in her song, " Rise high, O Lord, in
thy strength ?" — the song of

Messiah's present joy and future victory.


To the chief Musician upon Aijeleth Shahar, A Psalm of David.

1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of ray roaring ?

2 O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not ;
And in the night season, and am not silent.

3 But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel !

4 Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.

5 They cried unto thee, and were delivered : they trusted in thee, and

were not confounded.

6 But I am a worm, and no man ; a reproach of men, and despised of the


7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn :

They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying",

8 He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him :
Let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.

9 But thou art he that took me out of the womb :

Thou didst make me hope when 1 was upon my mother's breasts.

10 I was cast upon thee from the womb : thou art my God from my

mother's belly.

11 Be not far from me ; for trouble is near ; for there is none to help.

12 Many bulls have compassed me : strong bulls of Bashan have beset me


13 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.

14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint :
My heart is like wax ; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.

15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd ; and my tongue cleaveth to my

jaws ;
And thou hast brought me into the dust of death.

16 For (logs have compassed me : the assembly of the wicked have inclosed

mc :
Thoy pierced my hands and my feet.


17 I may tell all my bones : they look and stare upon me,

18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.

19 But be not thou far from me, O Lord : O my strength, haste thee to

help me.

20 Deliver my soul from the sword ; my darling from the power of the dog.

21 Save me from the lion's mouth : for thou hast heard me from the horns

of the unicorns.

22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren :

In the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.

23 Ye that fear the Lord, praise him ;

All ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him ; and fear him, all ye the seed of

24 For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted ;
Neither hath he hid his face from him ; but when he cried unto him, he


25 My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation :
I will pay my vows before them that fear him.

26 The meek shall eat and be satisfied :

They shall praise the Lord that seek him : your heart shall live for ever.

27 All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord :
And all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.

28 For the kingdom is the Loi'd's : and he is the governor among the nations.

29 All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship :
All they that go down to the dust shall bow before him :
And none can keep alive his own soul.

30 A seed shall serve him ; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.

31 They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness
Unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.

What a change ! Instead of the songs of victory, we hear the Jf u,Fs°PsLta
moaning of one in anguish. It is not the voice of those that
shout for the mastery, as were the preceding songs of Zion, but
the voice of one that cries in weakness. And yet this abrupt
transition is quite a natural one. We saw the warrior — we saw
the fruits for his victory — we saw the prospects of yet farther
glorious results from that victory. Now then we are brought to
the battle-Jield and shewn the battle itself — that battle which
virtually ended the conflict with Satan and all his allies. We
hear the din of that awful onset. Our David in " the irresistible
might of weakness'' is before us, crying in the crisis of conflict,

" Eli, Eli, lama sabactJiani .'"
the words uttered on Calvary, and preserved in every syllable
as they were used by the Saviour then.

Some have sought to mingle the believer's confidence with

Christ here

The plan.


Christ's in this Psalm. But it is too awful in its strain to
admit of this application, though we may learn from Christ's ex-
ample, as well as words, on the cross ; as Peter is fond of shew-
ing us in his first epistle. The words of verse 1st may indicate
that such cries were uttered more than once during the Re-
deemer's days of anguish. There were other seasons besides
the cross when the Father was near to lay on Him the weight
of the burden of guilt, and when, for a time, he left Him, for-
saken. These were seasons of the hottest trial ever known in
warfare, for it was warfare Avherein nothing could exhaust the
resources brought up against the champion, while also there
were divine supplies on his side.

The scheme of this Psalm is evident at a glance. There are
two parts in it ; the one from verse 1 to middle of verse 21 ; the
other from the middle of verse 21 to the end. The first part is
Messiah's sufferings ; the second is his entering into his glory.
His first coming is the theme of the one ; his glorious king-
dom, established fully at his second coming, is the theme of
the other ; and this is so very obvious, that we shall be very
brief in our remarks, leaving the reader to meditate for himself,
with the history of the Lord in the Evangelists* before him for
the first part, and his eye glancing through the Apocalyptic
visions for the second.

The title is strange : " On Aijeleth Shahar," — literally,
" The hind of the morning." This was probably some instru-
ment used for compositions of a peculiar cast, wherein joy gave

* This Psalm is quoted in Hebrews ii. 11, where verse 23 is the passage re-
ferred to. The ^' pierciuff of hands and feet," YGVue 17, may be considered as
referred to in such passages as Luke xxiv. 39, John xx. 27, when he carefully
shewed his hands and his feet. The attemjit of the modern Jews to translate
^ni^3 "like a lion," admits of a very complete and satisfactory refutation.
Wlicther we adopt the Keri ^^>}3, or retain the Kctibh ^"IJO, the sense is
the same, only in the foimercase the literal rendering is, " Thei/ have pierced "
in the latter, it is to be understood participially, " They are ijiercing.'^ See an
article in No. IV. of Bibliotheca Sacra and Biblical Repository, 1852 (com-
bined series), where it is shewn that the Masora on Numbers xxiv. 9, plainly
states that the text read, " They pierced," and Jacob bon Haiim says it was so
" In nuiny copies." All the ancient versions, e.g., Septuagint and Syriac, and
such critics as Dc Wette, Winer, Uahr (in Tholnck's Lit. Anzeig. 1853), agree
in this rcndL-riiig.


place to anguish, and then anguish to joy. The hind leaps
from height to depth, from valley to hill-top, rising up from its
quiet lair, where it had reposed till morning, when met by the
hunters' cry. That there was such an instrument used we
cannot tell — it is a mere conjecture ; at the same time it is
interesting to notice how truly the scene of the hind, roused
at morning from its rest (not to boimd at liberty like Naph-
tali in Gen. xlix. 21, but) to be chased by the hunters, corres-
ponds to the tale of persecution related here, when " dogs
encompass him about."

Without attempting to explore the riches, the unsearchable
riches, of these mournful cries, let us listen to a few of their sad
echoes. In verse 8, "But thou art holy, thou who inJiahitest
the praises of Israel," we have a declaration that Israel's Holy
One shall be praised more than ever for his holiness, because of
his impartial treatment of Him who cries, " Why hast thou for-
saken me?" Strange as it may seem, it shall turn out to be an
illustration of his holy character ; and if before this He in-
habited Israel's praises, much more hereafter. In verse 4, that
note, " Our fathers," (as in Psalm xl. 5) from such lips may
well touch our hearts. He is not ashamed, reader, to call
you and me his brethren ! He identifies himself with us ! Our
fathers are His fathers, that His Father may be ours. How
like Him who^ afterwards (ver. 22), calls us " -wi?/ brethren;"
and who on earth did say, after resurrection, " Go and tell Tny
brethren," (Matt, xxviii. 10).

We do not dwell on the ample field of remark opened to
us from verses 6-22. " The people," in verse 6, is specially
" IHs own" Israel. The taunt, ver. 8, is equivalent to He was
fond of saying " Roll on the Lord !" what Psalm xxxvii. 5 ex-
presses more fully. In verse 20, " My only one" is understood
to be the soul described as dear like an only son.* How
appropriate is the lips of Him who asked the memorable ques-
tion, in Matt, xvi, 26,

* The word is the fem. of TXV, used in Gen, xxii. 2 and elsewhere, for a
thing that is precious because the only one of its kind. Is there any thing
of this idea in Homer's fi>.ov rroo (Iliad iii. 31, &c.), his own dear heart ?


It is in verse 21 that the tide turns. The clause
" Thou hast heard me"
ought to be taken by itself. It is a cry of delight. It is like
Luke xxii. 43. The lamentation of ver. 2 is over now — He is
heard now ! And his being now heard is not a blessing to Him
alone ; he runs to bring his disciples word : —

" I will declare thy name to my brethren,'''' (ver. 22) ;
words characteristic to the full of Him who spoke, John xvii. 26,
and whose first resurrection-act was to send word to his disciples,
by the name " my brethren," and then to send them to all the
earth. His special love to Israel, too, is apparent, as when
He said, " to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem' — " Both
in Jerusalem and in all Judea." Here he calls to them, —

" Ye seed of Jacob, glorify Him —
For He has not abhorred the affliction of the po&r !" (V. 23, 24.)

He has not treated the poor sinner as an unclean thing to be
shrunk from (Levit. xi. 11), passing by on the other side. (Luke
X. 31.) All shall yet praise Him who makes their heart live for
ever by feeding them on this sacrifice (verse 26). Verse 28
shews us the Kingdom come, and Christ the Governor among
the nations ; at which time we find a feast partaken of by all
nations, and observed by sinners that were ready to perish : —

" All they that be fat (the rich) on the earth shall eat and worship. (V. 29.)
Before Him shall bow all that go down to dust, (the poor)
Andhe loJio could not keep alive his soul," (the most destitute of the poor).

The essence of the feast is indicated at verse 26, as consisting in
knowing and feeding upon Him who is our Paschal Lamb ; even
as in Isaiah xxv. 8, the feast of fat things is Christ Himself,
seen and known, eye to eye. The people of that millennial
time are " the seed" of ver. 30. If men do not at present serve
Him, yet their seed shall — there is a generation to rise who
shall so do. (" Hoc semen illi serviet," says Buchanan.)
^'Posterity shall serve Him,

It shall be related of the Lord to the generation to come.

These shall go forth (on the theatre of the world) and declare his€ss

To a people then to be born. (Ps. cii. IS.)

For He has done it ! ' '


The Hebrew is very elliptical. It seems as if rfV^ were here
intentionally used in an absolute and indefinite way in order
to fix our thoughts on the thing being done. A finger points
to the scene, and a voice says TW'^ ! q. d. "He has 'performed !"
Here is deed, not word only. Here is fulfilment, not promise
only. The meek may eat and be filled ! For lo ! there is the
thing done ! performance of all that this Psalm describes, of all
that Jesus meant when he cried, ^' It is finished." In that
hour He saw his sufferings ended and his glory begun, and
could proclaim victory through suffering. What a song of Zion
is this ! Messiah at every step ! beginning with " Eh, Eli,"
and ending with TsrsXiarai, " It is finished."

Messiah bearing the cross, and wearing the crown.


A Psalm of David.

1. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures : he leadeth me beside the

still waters.

3. He restoreth my soul : he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for

his name's sake.

4. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will

fear no evil :
For thou art with me ; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5. Thou preparesta table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou

anointest my head with oil ; my cup runneth over.

6. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life : And

I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

After the conflict of the preceding Psalm, and its bright
glimpse of triumph, we might have thought that such an ode
as we afterwards find in Psalm xxiv. would have immediately
followed, leading us to survey the scenes of victory anticipated
by the sufferer. But, instead of this, we suddenly find ourselves
in the quiet peace of the quietest valley that imagination could
paint ; where is seen One walking by his shepherd's side sing-


" Jehovah is my shepherd !
I shall not wanty*

The arrangement seems intentional ; the soothing after the
exciting, the stillness of the still waters after the fury of the
tempest, the calm of rural peace before the engrossing and
enrapturing scene of the Mighty One's dominion. It is like
the pause of Milton's angel, —

"As one who in his journey bates at noon,
Though bent on speed, so here the Archangel paused.
Between the world destroyed and world restored."

And, besides, it is most suitable that between the conflict
finished successfully in man's behalf and the glorious issues of
that conflict, as seen from the throne of dominion, there should
interpose a view of that state of soul toward the Father in
which the Head and his members pass through their wilder-

The Church has so exclusively (we might say) applied this
Psalm to herself, as almost to forget that her shepherd (" that
Great Shej^herd !") once needed it and was glad to use it.
The Lamb (now in the midst of the throne ready to lead us to
living fountains of water) was once led along by his Father.
He said to his disciples, " And yet I am not alone, for the Fa-
ther is with me," (John xvi. 32). Was not the burden of
his song : — " The Lord is my shepherd ; I shall not lack,"
(Ver. 1 ) ? When he said, on another occasion, (John x. 14, ] 5,)
" I know my sheep, and am known of mine, as the Father
knoweth me," was he not saying, " I lead you as my Father
leads me ?" But try every clause, and every syllable will be
found applicable not to David alone, butto David's Son, to the

* Perhaps these verses were never more poetically rendered into another
tongue than by Buchanan in his Latin version : —

" Sicut Pastor oveni, me Dominus regit ;

Nil deeiitpenitus mihi.
" Per campi viridis mitla pabula,
Quae veris teneri pingit anioenitas,
Nunc pascor placide, nunc satuiuni hitus
Fessus moUiter explico.
" Parcse rivus aquae leniter adstrepens
Membris restituit robora languidis;
Et blando recreat fomite spiritus,
Solis sub face tonida."


Church and to the Church's Head. If verse 1 smgs, " / shall
not ivant," it is just a continuance of the testimony of Moses,
Deut. ii. 7, " The Lord thy God — knoweth thy walking through
this great wilderness : these forty years the Lord thy God has
been with thee ; thou hast lacked nothing." Christ and his
Church together review their wilderness-days and praise the
Lord. The song of the Lamb is not less complete than that of

The occasional retreat to the Sea of Galilee, and desert places,
and the Mount of Olives, furnished Christ with many such
seasons as verse 2 celebrates. " He niaketh rue to lie down
on pastures of tender grass." His saints know so well that it
is his wont to do this in their case, that the Song of Songs asks
not, " Dost thou make thy flock rest at noon V but only,
" Where ?" And as the Lord of the Ark of the covenant
(Numb. X. 33) sought out for Israel a place to rest, so did the
Father for his true Israel, — that Prince with God, — ^giving him
refreshing hours amid his sorrow ; as it is written, " He is at
my right hand, that I should not be moved : therefore did my
heart rejoice," (Acts ii. 25).

In temptation seasons, or after sore conflicts with man's
unbelief, the Lord " restored his soul" (ver. 3) ; that is, re-
vived it with cordials, even as he does his people after such
seasons, and after times of battle with their own unbelief.
And when in the hour of trouble and darkness he cried, " What
shall I say ?" the Father " led him, in paths of righteousness,
for his name's saJce," glorifying his own name in his Son,
as we read, John xii. 27.

It was not once only, (though it was specially as the Garden
and the Cross drew near,) that his soul was in " the valley of
death-shade," (ver. 4). But he passed all in safety ; even
when he came to that thick gloom of Calvary. And He who
led Him through will never leave one of his disciples to faint
there. The rod and staff* that slew the bear and the lion, made
David confident against Goliath ; so do we obtain confidence

* 1 Sam. xvii. 40 and 43, Micah vii. 14, These were for defence ; also for heat-
ing bushes when the sheep went astray, for killing serpents, and the like.



from knowing how our Shepherd has already fonnd a safe way-
through wolves and perils.

* In verse 5, the table, the oil, and the cup, might be illus-
trated in Christ's case by the day of his baptism, by the shining
forth of his glory, by such a miracle as that of Lazarus' resur-
rection, and by the light of the Transfiguration scene, as well
by the " meat to eat which the world knew not of," and the
" rejoicing in spirit" as he thought upon the Father's will — in
all which blessings the sheep still share from time to time, get-
ting occasional exaltations, and moments of "joy unspeakable
and full of glory."

Even those scenes of woe, the essence of whose anguish is
expressed by " Eli, Eli, lama sabacthani," did not make the
Master doubt that " goodness and mercy would follow him,"
till he reached his home, his Father's house, with its many
mansions. And shall any member doubt of his persevering to
the end ? loved to the end with the love that first loved him,
till he becomes a guest for ever in his Father's house ?

What is the " House of the Lord," the true Bdhel, where the
ladder is set between earth and heaven ? The Tabernacle was
such in type. And of the antitype Christ spoke when, leaving
his few sheep in the wilderness and amid wolves, he said, " In
my Father 8 house are many inansions," (John xiv. 1, 2).
It is New Jerusalem ; and He is gone to the right hand of
the Father to gather in his elect, and then at length to raise
up their bodies in glory, that they may enter into the full en-
joyment of that House in the " kingdom prepared for the
blessed of his Father." Fear not, then, little flock, it is your
Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom — and if so,
you must be kept for it ; goodness and mercy must follow you
all the days of your life, bringing up the rear of the camp,
and leaving not a straggler to perish. It will be then that
every sheep of his pasture will full^^know and i;se the words of
this Psalm, which sets forth with inimitable simplicity,
The Righteous One's experience of the leadings of the



A Psalm of David.

1 The eartli is the Lord's, and the fuhicss tliereof : the work!, and they

that dwell therein.

2 For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods

3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his

holy place ?

4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart ;

"Who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.
6 He shall receive the blessing from the Lord,
And righteousness from the God of his salvation.

6 This is the generation of them that seek him,
That seek thy face, Jacob. Selah.

7 Lift up your heads, O ye gates ; and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors ;
And the King of glory shall come in.

8 AVho is this King of glory ?

The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.

9 Lift up your heads, O ye gates ; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors;
And the King of glory shall come in.

10 Who is this King of glory ? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory.

This may have been written by David when the ark was
brought up to Zion. Every eye in the universe is looking on,
and every ear Ustening in heaven, earth, and under the earth.
The strain of this Psahn brings up to our thoughts. Reve-
lation V. 2, 3 ; for it is as if a voice proclaimed
" The eartli is the Lord's .'"

And then, " It is He, and no one else, tvlio founded it above the surro}ind-
ing seas.'^
The claim of the Lord's dominion is made in hearing of the
universe ; and the proclamation challenges a denial. This is
done in verses 1, 2, and no one in heaven, or earth, or hell, is
found, who does not acquiesce in this declaration of Jehovah's

Amid the universal attention of all beings, a voice asks the


" Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord ?
And who shall stand in his lioly place f (Ver. 3.)

The import of the question is this. There is in that world a
tabernacle on Zlon, typical of God's prepared mansion for his


redeemed. Who shall enter and " stand" (that is, keep his
place) there, claiming as his proper home both that Tabernacle
and the better things of which it is the type ?

The voice states the character of the accepted one in verse
4, — " He thai hath clean hands ;" that is, he that washes in the
water of the laver after being at the altar. This, O men of Israel,
has been shewn to yon. Is not that every day exhibited in
your tabernacle ? No priest enters the holy ^?ac^ until he has
washed at the laver after being at the altar, (Exod. xxx. 1 9).
Or, to express it without a type, —
" He tlmt has ajnire heart,
Who Jias not lifted rip 7iis soul to vanity,
Nor sworn deceitfully ." (Yqw 4.)
He must be pure, free from charge of sin against God and
man. This is the man that receives '• the blessing," (Gen. xxvii.
36) ; this is the man that receives it, not as Jacob by stealth,
but as the award of " righteousness," being treated as righteous
by the " God of salvation." Messiah is this man.

But Israel knew the way to obtain this purity. His " holy
place" presented to him in type theprovision thatthe "God of sal-
vation" had revealed for a sinner. And so the voice pronounces,
(referring to a company who resemble The Man described),
" This is the generation oftliem that seek him :

Online LibraryAndrew A. (Andrew Alexander) BonarChrist and His Church in the Book of Psalms → online text (page 8 of 42)