Andrew A. (Andrew Alexander) Bonar.

Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms online

. (page 9 of 42)
Online LibraryAndrew A. (Andrew Alexander) BonarChrist and His Church in the Book of Psalms → online text (page 9 of 42)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

That seek thy face, O Jacob." (Ver. 6).

The generation of those who seek Jehovah are such. And
this further praise is given them, viz., "Thediligent seekers of thy
face are Jacob," i. e., persons who have a claim to the name of the
pecuhar people — if we adopt the rendering of Hengstenberg. But,
retaining the common version, we understand the words in the
following way : — These whose hands are clean are the true
seekers of Jehovah : and they are taking the true way to get
Jacob's birthright and Jacob's blessing, — " They seek thy face,
Jacob : they do not seek Esau, with the fatness of earth,
but thee, Jacob, who hast got the blessing from the Lord."*

* In Prov. vii. 15, and xxix. 26, we have, " seeking the face of in the sense of
seeking the favour of, or shewing delight in. Their delight is not in Esau, who
got " the fatness of earth" (Gen. xxvii. 39) as his portion. And those writers
may be right who consider Jacob as a name for Messiah, to whom belong the
true birthright and blessing.


If we understand it in reference to the possession of the blrth-
right and the blessing, that is, to the promise of Messiah and
the pre-eminence involved herein, we see a reason for introduc-
ing the name " Jacob." Properly and directly it is Christ only
who can advance the claim to be regarded as " pure," and in
all respects unspotted. It is Christ who in his own person is
accepted as such, and is proclaimed righteous. But all He does
and receives is in behalf of his people ; and hence the words,
" This is the generation of them that seek Him," q. d., Lo !
here is a generation of such men.

There is a pause, intimated by " Selah" (ver. 6), not unlike
that in Prov. i., between verses 23 and 24 ; and the voice, hav-
ing before declared who may hope to enter the Lord's presence,
suddenly announces that their King is at hand ! The accepted
pure and righteous One is the King !
" Li/i up your heads, ye gates ;
Alii be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors ;
And the King of Glory shall come in.'' (Ver. 7.)

That name, " King of Glory,''* from whence is it derived?
Is it not from the cloud of gloi'y in the Holy of Holiest ? Is
He not thus designated as being the Antitype of that symbol
of the Divme presence ? And the doors are called "Everlast-
ing," because he who enters in at them is to keep for ever and
in everlasting freshness this palace and sanctuary which he
makes for himself in our Earth. " The beams of his house are
to be cedar, and the rafters fir," (Song i. 17) because the up-
holder of all is come. Earth is now to be his sanctuary and
palace — Earth full of his glory — Earth with New Jerusalem
come down from heaven.

It is the Lord himself, perhaps, who asks at the wondering
universe (just as the Elder asked at wondering John, Rev. vii.
1 3) concerning his Well-beloved, now brought into the world in
honour, and glory, and majesty, not as at his first coming, in

" Who is this King of Glory ? " (Ver. 8.)

* Dr AUix remarks, " If some Christians have applied it to Cin-ist's ascen-
sion, it was for want of considering- that it gives to Christ the title of Jehovah,
King of Glonj (1 Cor. ii. 8), and of being powerful in battle. These titles
suppose his enemies destroyed." (Rev. xix. 0.)


It is like Jeremiah xxx. 21, r\VD, " Who is this that has en-
gaged his heart to approach to me ? saith the Lord." And
the reply also is the Father's, who tells of his Son that he has
gained victories and overcome in battles, and so won the
Kingdom. But when the proclamation is repeated, and won-
dering onlookers half incredulous again put the question, " Who
is this King V the Father's reply is, —

" The Lord of Hosts, He is the King of Glory.''

thus jDroclaiming the oneness of our King with Jehovah,
before all creation.

" Selah" ends the Psalm — a solemn pavise ere the people
depart from the spot where they heard this lofty song.

It is a glorious hymn for the Church in all ages. Paul
writing to Corinth (1 Cor. x. 26), claims a believer's right to
the things of earth, on the ground that this Psalm claims for
God a right to it : " The earth is the Lord's and the fulness
thereof." Evidently Paul associated himself and his fellow-
saints with " The King of Glory," in whose train we also
expect to enter through the everlasting gates. The Psalm
describes our mode of joining the royal procession, and so
passing on to glory with the King. There is no Psalm which,
with such sublime and simple grandeur, describes —

The path of the Righteous to the throne of glory.


A Psalm of David.

1, 2. Unto thee, Lord, do I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust iu thee !
Let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.

3 Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed :

Let them be ashamed which transgress without cause.

4 Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths.
r> Lead me in thy truth, and teach me :

For thou art the God of my salvation ; on thee do I wait all the day.

6 Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses ;
For they have been ever of old.

7 Remembernot the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions :
According to tliy mercy remember thou me, for thy goodness sake, O Lord.


8 Good and upright is the Lord : therefore will he teach sinners in tlie way.

9 The meek will he guide in judgment : and the meek will he teach Ins way.

10 All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth
Unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.

11 For thy name's sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity ; for it is great.

12 What man is he that feareth the Lord ? Him shall he teach in the way that

he shall choose.

13 His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth.

14 The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him ; and he will shew them

his covenant.

15 I\Iine eyes are ever toward the Lord ; for he shall pluck my feet out of the


16 Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me ; for I am desolate and


17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged : O bring thou me out of my dis-


18 Look upon mine affliction and my pain ; and forgive all my sins.

19 Consider mine enemies ; for they are many ; and they hate me with cruel


20 keep my soul, and deliver me ! let me not be ashamed ; for I put my trust

in thee.

21 Let integrity and uprightness preserve mc ; for I wait on thee.

22 Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.

The inquiry may have crossed the reader's mind, Why was
this Psalm placed next such a one as the 24th ? We almost
think we can answer that question ; and if our answer is right,
it gives us a key to the structure of the Psalm. We supj)ose
that the resemblance of verse 12 to the style of the closing verses
of Psalm xxiv. may account for the juxtaposition. The resem-
blance is much closer than appears at first sight.

As in Psalm xxiv. 8 (like Jer. xxx. 21) we had Messiah in-
troduced to our notice by the question, "T^D nt Vp, so in ver. 12
of this Psalm we find suddenly the question put, —

" WJio is this man ivlio feareth the Lord f"

Up to that verse, we may suppose the Psalmist speaks in
the name of a member of the Church, such as himself, amid
snares (ver. 15) and troubles (ver. 17) at a time when Israel, too,
was tried (ver. 22) — times when David was as a partridge on
the mountains. This member of the Church prays for deliver-
ance and guidance, appealing to the Lord's compassions. He


feels sure that the Lord " luill guide ilte meek'' {i.e., those who
give up their will to His) " in judgment," i e., on the the high-
way where all is lawful and right. At verse 1 1 he utters the
appeal, "Pardon mine iniquity /or thy name's sa^e/' throwing
his burden down as too heavy for him to bear ; " For it is
great." At this point the scene changes. An answer is coming
to the petitioner. His eyes fix on the Perfect One, who seems
suddenly to come in sight.

" Who is this man that fearetli the Lord,

Whom he teachdli the loay that he shall choose ?

His soul lodgeih at ease,

And His seed shall inherit the earth."

What a blessed vision ! What a sweet sketch of Messiah
and his blessings ! Himself in his glorious rest, and his seed
filling the earth ! Instantly, in verse 14th, it is added that a
share in this bliss belongs to all who fear the Lord : —
" TJie secret of the Lord is toith them that fear him.
And he will shew them his covenant.'"

All the blessings of the covenant are yours ; the hidden trea-
sures of the Lord's friendship (" secret") are yours, O fearer
of Jehovah. Having seen and heard all this, the Psalmist ex-
claims, —

" Mine eyes are ever towards the Lord,"
who provides such blessings, present and future, and thus makes
my soul dwell at ease, while I behold Him. And so he prays
again in full hope and confidence. When he reaches verse 20,
" Let me not he ashamed, for I put my trust in thee," we are
reminded of Coriolanus betaking himself to the hall of Attius
TuUus, and sitting as a helpless stranger there, claiming the
king's hospitality, though aware of his having deserved to die
at his hands. The Psalmist throws himself on the compassions
of an injured God with similar feelings ; "/ triist in Thee !"

It is to be noticed, that throughout the appeals of this Psalm
are far more to the compassion and mercy of the Lord than to
any other attribute. Only let his pity awake, and he has a
righteous channel down which to pour it. In Psalm xxvi., as
we shall see, it is different. But bere the general strain of all
the appeals is that of verses 5-8, 10, 11.

IN THE lord's mercies. 89

It is the first fully Alphabetic Psalm ;* that is, the first in- An
stance we have met with where every verse begins with a letter
of the Hebrew alphabet in succession. There seems nothing
peculiar in this sort of composition ; and as if to guard us against
the idea of any mystery in it, the regularity is twice broken in
upon in this Psalm, as in most of the others of the same struc-
ture. Nor are these irregularities the effect of careless tran-
scription ; for every MS. agrees in the readings, and the an-
cient versions shew that the text existed in its present state
from the earliest times. The only lesson which the use of the
Alj)liabetiG form may teach is this : that the Holy Spirit was
willing to throw his words into all the moulds of human
thought and speech ; and whatever ingenuity man may exhibit
in intellectual efforts, he should consecrate these to his Lord,
making him the "Alpha and Omega" of his pursuits.!

It is a Psalm, then, wherein the letters of the Hebrew alpha-
bet are made use of to help the memory and to vary the struc-
ture — all with the view of enabling the Church in every age
to do as the Psalmist does here, viz., confess and pray for pardon,
help, guidance, deliverance, with the eye on Him who is set
before us in verse 12, " This Man," the true pattern of the
fear of God, and the bestower of blessing from himself on all
that fear the Lord. And who would not say with the Church
in every land, and with the souls under the altar, as well as
with David here, —

^^ Redeem Israel, God, from all his troubles .'" (Ver. 22.)

If the day when that prayer was first answered by David
being raised to the throne was glorious, what will be the day
when the true David ascends his throne and dwells at ease,
and his seed inherit the earth ? Let us learn to use the Psalm
if we would fully enter into

The confidence of the Righteous in the Lord's mercies.

* We met with partially alphabetic Psalms in Psalms ix. and x.

t Psalms XXV., xxxiv., xxxvii., cxi., cxii., exix., and cxlv., are all written in
this manner, — so that there are seven Alphabetic Psalms, thus exhibiting a full
specimen of this form of writing. Fry, Hoi'sley, and others insist on trying to
rectify the omitted letters in those cases where there is a deficiency, quite un-

90 PSALM XXVI. — THE confidp:nce of the righteous


A Psalm of David

1 Judge me, O Lord ; for I have walked in mine integrity :
I have trusted also in the Lord ; therefore I shall not slide.

2 Examine me, O Lord, and prove me ; try my reins and my heart.

3 For thy lovingkiuduess is before mine eyes : and I have walked in thy


4 I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers.

6 I have hated the congregation of evil doers ; and will not sit with the

6 I will wash mine hands in innocency : so will I compass thine altar, O

Lord :

7 That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy

wondrous works.

8 Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place Avhere thine

honour dwelleth.

9 Gather not ray soul with sinners, nor my life with bloody men :

10 In whose hands is mischief, and their right hand is full of bribes.

11 But as for me, I will walk in mine integrity : redeem me, and be merciful

unto me.

12 My foot standeth in an even place : in the congregations will I bless the


The distinguishing peculiarity of this Psahii, in the tone of its
appeals, is, that it dwells so much on the righteousness of Jeho-
vah's character. Having in the preceding one dealt much with
his mercies, it was fitting in this one to trace the channel down
which these mercies flow to sinners.

Our Head himself speaks here as well as his members. We
may consider Him as teaching his members to take up his
words, and address them to the Father in his name.

"Judge me, Lord," &c., (Ver. ]). Who could so well
speak thus, as He who prayed that prayer and held that con-
verse in John xvii. —

" Examine me, Lord, and prove me ;

" My heart and reins have been tried" — as gold is tried, (Ver. 2).
John xvii. 4.
And who could so well say as Jesus, in verse 3, —

" Thy lovinglcindness is before mine eyes ; — (as Deut. vi. 8, frontlets.)
And I have walked in thy truth."

He fears not to invite this searching of heart and reins, for

IN THE lord's righteousness. 91

lie knows the " lovin^s" of the Lord ; and he fears not
to be driven from any favourite path he is upon, for his desire
is to " walk habitually in his truth." " I love the Father," said
Jesus, (John xiv 31). "I come to bear witness to the truth,"
(John xviii, 37). And we might thus go through the Psalm,
and shew its application to Him. But more particularly ob-
serve verses 6, 7, —

" / loiU -wasJb my hands in innocency {i.e., I will touch no unclean thing,
like Gen. xx. 5, Deut. xxi. 6) :
Iioill compass thine altar, O Lord; (as Jericho was compassed, Josh. vi. 3)
That I may 2mblish with the voice of thanksgiving ;
And tell all thy wondrously accomplished works."

The meaning is, that he will go round and round the altar,
looking at it, looking at the blood on its base, and the blood on
each of the four horns, towards north, south, east, and west,
and beholding the smoke of the fire, and thinking of the sacri-
ficial victim that has died there, — all in the way of joyful
thanks, for salvation provided for men ! It is a survey of
redemption-work, taken by- the Redeemer ; such a survey, as
every member of his body often takes after having felt the
power of free forgiveness, and while aiming at "innocency."
For the " coiii'passing" of the altar takes place after pardon :
it is made in order to view it leisurely.

Jesus loved the types, and that typical Temple, because
they shewed forth his work ;

" Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house,
And the place where thine honour dwelleth" — (Ver. 8),

where his Glory dwelt, and where God was shewn as just, while
gi-acious. He hated the thought of sin ; and though " num-
bered with transgressors,'' abhorred their company as hell.
(Ver. 9, 1 0.) And is not this the feeling of every member of
his mystical body ? And do not all join in the resolution and
prayer of verse 11?

We consider verse 12 as anticipating the future. " The even

place,'" seems to be the place of security, where no farther

danger of falling shall occur ; though it may express also the

present sure standing of the soul in God's love. At all events, —

" In the couf/regaf ions will I bless the Lord " (ver. 12), —


points farther than to the assemblies of God's people on earth.
However pleasant these may be, they are but types of better.
They are but shadows of those multitudes, " numbers without
number " in the kingdom, and their voice of praise but the
prelude to the anthems that shall arise from " blessed voices
uttering joy," when the Lord shall have gathered his great
multitude that no man can number. Till that day dawns, let
us use this Psalm, in order to enter fully into sympathy with
the appeals of the Righteous One and his members. It is,
throughout, a breathing forth of —
The confidence of the Righteous in the Lord's righteousness.


A Psalm of David.

1 The Lord is my light and ray salvation ; whom shall I fcav ?
The Lord is the strength of my life ; of whom shall I be afraid ?

2 When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon mc to eat

up my flesh,
They stumbled and fell.

3 Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear :
Though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.

4 One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after;
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.

5 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his paviUon .
In the secret of his tableruacle shall he hide me ;

He shall set me upon a rock.

6 And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me :
Therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy;

I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord.

7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice : have mercy also upon me, and

answer me.

8 When thou saidst, Seek ye my face ; my heart said unto thee, Thy face,

Lord, will I seek.

9 Hide not thy face far from me ; put not thy servant away in anger :
Thou hast been my help ; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my


10 When my father and my mother forsake, then the Lord will take me up.

11 Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine


12 Deliver me not over unto tlie will of mine enemies :

For false witnesses arc risen up against me, and such as brcatlic out crueltv.


13 I had faintccl, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the

land of the living.

14 Wait on the Lord : be of good courage,

And he shall strengthen thine heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord.

Christ and hi

The Righteous One does not walk without opposition. We
are led here to a field of conflict ; or rather to the height,
whence the Righteous One surveys the legions of foes that are
embattled against him ; and standing by his side, we hear his
song of confidence, and cry of dependence, as he looks up to
the Lord as his " light and salvation." Is it Christ that we
hear thus expressing what his soul felt ? or is it one of his own
who encounters the same foes ? It is both ; for David was
taught by the Spirit to write the blessed experience of the
Church and its Head. The Church's experience here is obvious.
Let us dwell a little on her Lord's.

Is this, then, "the light of the world" walking through Christ
darkness, and staying himself on his Father ? What an illus-
tration of his own words, in John xvi. 32, 33, " The hour cometh
when ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall
leave me alone ; and yet I am not alone, for the Father is with
me. In the world ye shall have tribulation : but be of good
cheer, I have overcome the world." And then, soon after, his
enemies " stumbled and fell," (Ver. 2). The band, with Judas
at their head, " went backwards and fell to the ground" (John
xviii. 6), as if in token of the future falling of all that come out
against him ; while Judas, their leader, stumbled over the cor-
ner-stone to his eternal ruin. So sure is this, that in verse 3
he appropriates to his own use, and the use of all the righteous,
the protecting hosts that Elisha saw round Dothan. (2 Kings
vi. 15.) Our Lord's words, "Thinkest thou not that I cannot
pray to my Father, and He will presently give more than
twelve legions of angels?" were at once a reference to the
guard of Elisha, and a breathing forth of the strong confidence
of this Psalm.

The words, " In this will I he confident," refer us back to The content
the faith of verse 1 , " I will be confident, that Jehovah is my
light, salvation, strength."

We have our Lord's style, so to speak, in verse -i, — " One chri^t.
tJmu/." He, who on earth pointed out the " one thing lack-


mg," to the Ruler : and " the one thing needful/' to Martha,
declares what himself felt regarding that " one thing." To see
the Lord, in his temple where everything spoke of redemption,
— there to see the Father's " beauty," was the essence of his
soul's desire. This " beauty," Dy.5 is the Lord's well-pleased
look ; such a look as the Father gave, when his voice pro-
claimed, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased."
It also means, all that makes God an object of affection and de-
light to a soul.* Nothing could be more desirable to Christ,
than this approving look of his Father, telling, as it did, his
love to the uttermost. And nothing to us sinners, can equal
this look of love ; it is the essence of heaven now, and heaven
for ever. It is the "one thing ; " for from this holy love pro-
ceed all other blessings. To catch glimpses of this "beauty"
in the temple was our Lord's aim ; he engaged in no other
pursuit on earth. Neither did David, this true disciple, amid
the glory of a kingdom. In the light of this Divine smile, the
soul is sure of deliverances manifold, deliverance from every
evil, and eternal gladness ; and can sing (ver. 7) even now,
as if full deliverance were come already. Real assurance of
salvation depends in our seeing the Father's " beauty," —
his reconciled countenance, his heart of love ; in seeing which,
the soul feels certain beyond measure, that his future state will
be well, for that love is too deep to change ; and so it " sings and
makes music to Jehovah."

But verse 8 has a tinge of sadness again. It is, in our Lord's
case, like John xii. 17, "Now is my soul troubled," after a sea-
son of peaceful rest. Never was there an experience so varied
and full as our Lord's in his human nature ; and never an ex-
perience which his saints so often turn to as their own. The
cry for help ascends ; and perhaps the broken words of verse 9
are intentional, being the difficult utterance of one in trouble
quoting words of hope, —

" My heart says to thee, Seek ije wijfacc.'"
My soul repeats to thee thine own call and encouragement.

* Luther understood it. " The beautiful services of the Lord " in the Taber-
nacle (Tholuck) ; the spiritual truths reflected in the mirror of that symbolic


How often hast thou hidden us, " Seek my face V My heart
reminds thee of thine own words ; I will not let thee go. To
me, and to the sons of men, thou hast sent forth an invitation
to this effect, " Seek ye my face ;" therefore, my heart in all
its distress holds up to thee this call of thine. / will seek thy
face, and I will urge thee, " Hide not thy face," (ver. 9).

In verse 10, the harp sings of a lonely, friendless, orphan state.
" My father and mother have left me !" But forthwith faith
responds, " The Lord will take me in." (Josh. xx. 4, Judges
xix. 5.) Our Lord, no doubt, felt as man the desire for a
father's and a mother's sympathy and help. But in want of that
sympathy and help, he turns to what he finds in Jehovah ; for
the Lord has a, father's "heart," " Like as a father pitieth his
children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him," (Ps. ciii. 13) ;
and the mother s affections, too, " As one whom his mother
comforteth, so the Lord will comfort you," (Isa. Ixvi. 13). Our
Lord uses what is equivalent to "take me in," in Matt. xxv.
43. (Hengstenberg.)

A shrill note of the harp touches upon reproach and calumny,
in verses 13, 14, "false witnesses are risen up." In Matt. xxvi.
62, 63, these false witnesses come in against our Lord, before
the high priest ; and on that occasion, our Lord bursts forth

Online LibraryAndrew A. (Andrew Alexander) BonarChrist and His Church in the Book of Psalms → online text (page 9 of 42)