Psalms 107 - 150 (Fifth book)
Next, the last book, into which the psalms are not merely divisible but actually divided, supposes the people of God once more in the land, for the display of God's purpose and ways in Messiah's kingdom, and spiritually fitted for it, for they will be characterised by His law written on their hearts. It ends with nothing but praises. How could it be otherwise when Rev. 11: 15 is fulfilled? The first psalm has no title.
Give ye thanks to Jehovah," etc. Israel affords the great object‑lesson of man's folly and distress in the land and out of it, as on the sea; crying to Jehovah and heard in His unfailing mercy; at last delivered from the enemy and gathered out of the lands on every side (not a few Jews from Babylon merely) to enjoy the kingdom. It is in no way the church blessed with Christ in the heavenly places, though the church may well profit from all, and enjoy the truth and the mercy here described.
"A song, a psalm of David." This Psalm consists of the latter halves of Ps. 57 and Ps. 60 with variations. The deliverance, though really of God, is not yet complete; but this is looked for with assurance.
"To the chief musician, of David, a psalm." The Psalm is applied authoritatively to Judas; but it clearly includes the wicked like him, treacherous to the Messiah in the past, and especially in the future to those who have His spirit. - In the following we have the glorious answer of Jehovah on behalf of the despised Messiah, who will have the children in all freshness, if their fathers rejected Him.
"A psalm of David." None but Messiah, Jesus, was ever called to sit at Jehovah's right hand; and He, because He was David's Lord as well as his son, the great Melchizedek withal as even now seen by faith. But His glory as Head to the church His body is in no way here revealed. The mystery was great. But we are here clearly told what He will do, not for His friends, but against His foes. The smitten head over a great country appears to be either the king of the north, or Gog. Christ shines out from heaven to destroy Antichrist, etc. But here the rod of His might is sent out of Zion, to deal first with the king of the north; as finally with his great patron, the Lord of all the Russias, who will have made that king strong, and then falls himself for ever.
The next three psalms are plainly a trilogy in suited succession, following up that which set out the exaltation of Messiah on high and the coming day of His Power out Of Zion. The first two of the three are acrostics, but all are the praises of Jah (Hallelu‑jah) for the deliverance of His people by Messiah.
"Praise ye Jah." Jehovah's works, not here creation but on behalf of His people, are celebrated: great in themselves; powerful in their effects; permanent in result. flow different are man's! Wise is the fear of Him; and His praise abiding.
"Praise ye Jah." Next to the intervention of Jehovah comes the character, as well as the blessing under His government, of the man that fears Him. It is not the Christian even now blessed in heavenly places, enjoying full favour, yet suffering on earth, and waiting for Him who will have us with Himself in the Father's house; but the anticipative sketch of the righteous Israelite in the kingdom.
"Praise ye Jah." Here the scope is manifestly wider. Israel may be Jehovah's earthly centre, but His name shall be praised from east to west, from that day and evermore. Who is like to Him, and to Him as thus displayed in His ways with His poor loved one, no longer in the dust but exalted, no longer barren but the glad mother of sons? Hallelujah!
It is not only Jehovah's glory above the heavens, yet stooping to look on the lowliest here below, as proved already in Israel. The sea, the river, the mountains, and the hills, the earth, all teach from before Him, Who will be to Jacob all He was of old and more. His power in goodness is unfailing.
Then the wonders of Jehovah will no longer puff Israel up. They will need no humiliation more, being truly humble in that day. Jehovah's name is all henceforth; and His "mercy" takes precedence, instead of boasting in "truth" because peculiarly theirs. This does but increase their loathing of idols, so long their snare. But if they forgot Jehovah, He remembered them; and that day is a day of blessing for Israel's house and for Aaron's, and for fearers of Jehovah, the small and the great. But it is for the living on earth, though heaven and earth shall be in ]harmonious blessing and for evermore. Children of God are we now called, and such we are; His sons, with the Spirit of God, crying, Abba, Father; and we look up to heaven as our home because it is Christ's, having the cross meanwhile on earth. Here are we shown a mystery: we shall not all sleep, but we all shall be changed. Even now are we, Christians, "heavenly," and we shall put on the image of the Heavenly at His coming.
Here we see the loving-kindness of Jehovah (Who is therefore loved) in delivering the simple ones, the righteous remnant from under the shadow of death that oppressed them. But the truth of this habitually applies to the suffering Christian (2 Cor. 4), and not merely at a special time or Jacob's hour, when be is to be delivered out of it. The "haste" is not carnal precipitancy, but of such alarm as would make one hurry away at once. Comfort comes, but Jehovah is trusted in faith, which is better still. The end is praise of Jah.
It is a little psalm out of a large heart. Grace enjoyed goes out toward others, yea to all. So shall Israel then sing. What a contrast with their narrowness of old! So Jehovah's mercy and truth will work in that day to His praise on earth. We see how beautifully these three psalms ending in Hallelujah follow Ps. 114 (Jehovah's intervention as when He brought Israel out of Egypt through the desert), which is preceded by the three psalms beginning with Hallelujah, as the last of these indeed both begins and ends.
It is the end of the age which will vindicate the God of Israel. Till then appearances are adverse to His name and His people; and faith alone gains the victory unseen, which then will be manifest to every eye. All men may oppose meanwhile, and never more than at the close; Satan too may deceive and destroy as far as he can; and God may chastise right sorely but for good: Christ knew all this exceptionally, and much more than is here in view. But the end is blessing and glory, not for us only on high as we know from elsewhere, but for those who will enjoy the kingdom on earth, when it is no longer man's but Jehovah's day. What a blank must be in the outlook of all Christians, who leave out such a scene for the glory of the once humbled but now exalted Man! Then He shall sit on His own throne, as distinct from the Father's, before the eternal state. It is the age to come, on which almost all prophecy converges.
This psalm is not more remarkable in its structure than in its moral beauty - the expression of the law written on Israel's heart, after God's intervention to restore them to the land, yet before their complete deliverance. Each section consists of eight verses marked successively by each letter of the Hebrew alphabet in due order, all dwelling on the virtues of divine revelation as made known to the chosen people: law, testimonies, ways, precepts, statutes, commandments, and word generally.
Aleph. All here is introductory and general: the return after wandering and sorrowful experience; Jehovah's law or doctrine written within under the new covenant.
Beth. Here is the washing of water by the word, God purifying the heart by faith, in moral death to natural energy just where it might be strongest.
Gimel. Jehovah's goodness is asked according to and in His word, the delight and guide of the Israel of God, whosoever might despise.
Daleth. The heart prefers abasement from and with God to ease without Him, but looks for enlargement to do His will with alacrity.
He. The need of Jehovah's teaching, in order to obey and be kept, is here spread before Him.
Vau. The taste of the grace of Jehovah, of His salvation as here expressed, is next craved for courage and fidelity.
Zain. "The word" is owned as hope and comfort in the midst of pride and ungodliness;" the name gives motive to obey.
Cheth. Here the heart rises to Jehovah Himself; so that wicked men's hands were powerless to make the law forgotten, or His mercy unseen everywhere.
Teth. It is a soul profiting by affliction, and confiding all the more in Jehovah, to learn His statutes, better than thousands of gold and silver.
Yod. Jehovah is looked to as a faithful Creator, and those that fear Him counted on. As He afflicted for good, so would He show loving-kindness.
Caph. Here the prayer is instant, as the iniquity grows apace, and weakness is realised in the severest trial. It is not the hope of the Christian, who like Christ are to go on high; but deliverance, as Israel expect and shall have, by judgments executed manifestly on the enemy.
Lamed. The stability of Jehovah is seen on high., His purpose emanates thence infallibly, but establishes earth too, the universe being His servant. Then its moral power is owned, and by it the conviction that the soul is His, attending in the midst of malice to His testimonies, and in the sense of total failure feeling the all‑embracing value of what expresses His mind.
Mem. Here it is love of Jehovah's law, leading to meditation, and with blessed results in wisdom and moral ways.
Nun. In this stanza the light of the word for himself is acknowledged, and its judgments for wickedness.
Samech. Wavering and evil‑doing are deprecated as heartily as Jehovah's law is loved. But the need of being sustained is expressed, as on the other hand Jehovah's summary dealings with the deceitful and wicked; for indeed He is to be feared.
Ain. Hence he looks for Jehovah to act, not only on His servant's behalf but in vindication of His law.
Pe. The intrinsic and real efficacy of Jehovah's revelation is here expressed, with the spiritual desire created by it.
Tzade. Here the righteousness of Jehovah's judgments and testimonies predominates, which he forgot not, if others did.
Koph. Dependence is the great resource in the evil day, and indeed always, with confidence in Jehovah, but according to His word.
Resh. If persecutors are more felt, so are Jehovah's judgments on behalf of faithfulness as well as life in power.
Schin. This stanza goes farther: awe at Jehovah's word, yet joy in what He says. Fruit of loving the expression of divine authority, praise rises fully, and peace without stumbling. Obedience is deepened by having all our ways out before Him.
Tau. It is the worthy end of a psalm most instructive in experience for the individual and the nation: a brief summary.
The next group is clearly defined, the fifteen psalms of degrees or the goings up. That of (or by) Solomon occupies the central place, two on either side are expressly of David, as others perhaps such as Ps. 132 where it is not said. Some conjecture a late date for most, or all, because they are supposed suitable to be sting during the return from Babylon. The truth is that they look onward to the restoration of Israel in the latter day and are thus truly prophetic; the language, as the hope, is far beyond anything realised in the post‑exilic return.
"A song of the ascents." It is the situation amid threatening foes north and south, from whom deliverance is sought. There was "the liar," the Antichrist, on one side; on the other, the hordes of the great external enemy. The last days are unmistakable here.
"A song of the ascents." Jehovah now at length is Israel's help, and keeper, Who slumbers not nor sleeps, in all circumstances and for ever.
"A song of the ascents: of David." Here is the joy of worship in the place where Jehovah's eyes rest continually.
"A song of the ascents." It is the remnant of Israel staying no more, like the proud and ungodly mass, on him that smote them, but on Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, and this in truth.
"A song of the ascents: of David." This is the outburst of Israel's praise when just delivered from that which seemed, to all but faith, the overwhelming power of man bent on their destruction.
"A song of the ascents." Here is expressed the peaceable fruit of righteousness for those exercised by the supreme trials of that day.
A song of the ascents." The return of Zion becomes the pledge and cry for the return of Israel, and the blessed Sower in sorrow shall yet reap in joy.
"A song of the ascents: of Solomon." All of blessing turns on Jehovah, on Jehovah‑Jesus. When Israel welcomes and depends on Him what fruitful showers! "Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children" as in Ps. 45: so here. Solomon had an earnest and might well sing in the Spirit; yet his was not the rest of God, but vanity of vanities.
"A song of the ascents." It is millennial blessedness on earth, when Christ reigns and blesses out of Zion. To interpret it of heaven or the church is to deny the kingdom yet to be restored to Israel.
"A song of the ascents." It is a psalm of painful and touching interest as to Israel's enemies, whose will was in their sufferings, however deserved. They hated Zion which Jehovah chose and loved; and their desolations were as cruel as fruitless, being in vain to destroy, as the end will show in that day.
"A song of the ascents." It is the new ground of divine mercy, and so of forgiveness for the generation to come.
"A song of the ascents: of David." This is the moral accompaniment of faith in mercy. Hope in Jehovah supplants self‑confidence or looking elsewhere.
"A song of the ascents." The Anointed is here, typified by David and Solomon, to reign as surely as He suffered. His rest in Zion has yet to be accomplished. It is not the Father's throne, any more than headship of Christ's body, but the kingdom by and by, where and when the answers of grace exceed the desires of faith.
"A song of the ascents." There is unity of blessing in that Hermon's dew will fall on Zion.
"A song of the ascents." It is no longer Sinai, the mountain of the people's responsibility, but Zion, the seat of royal grace, after the fleshly king's ruin also. Under the true King and the faithful Priest praise unceasing rises, even in the nights. How should it be otherwise when Christ establishes the blessing on the overthrow of the enemy?
Now follow a few psalms less closely connected, though the second may be regarded as an answer to the first. The third stands comparatively isolated, yet in its evidently right place. The fourth, instead of (like it) recalling the shame and sorrow of the Babylonish captivity, is an avowed thanksgiving to Jehovah, not only for His word, but for His everlasting loving-kindness. These are all judicial, and apply during the crisis which marks the incoming of the new age, The fifth or last expresses the deeper work of self‑judgment before the inescapable presence of Jehovah; yet it looks the more for His slaying the wicked (the judgment of the quick and of the dead), while baring the heart now in order to be thoroughly proved and led in the way everlasting. The last two are Davidical, as are the seven that succeed.
"Praise ye Jah." It is instructive to compare ver. 13 with Ex. 3 and 14 with Deut. 32. The psalm anticipates the proximate accomplishment of both to Jah's praise.
"Give thanks to Jehovah." Very impressive is this answering song of thanks, with a refrain so suited then to Israel. He Who is pleased to dwell at Jerusalem in that day is the "God of the heavens," not merely of the earth (Gen. 14: 19).
Very different were Babylon and Edom, yet both the enemies of Zion, one to humble her for her sins, the other hating her for divine favour, alike to suffer before Zion's joy, who must sorrow till then and not sing.
"Of David." It is Jehovah's faithfulness to His sayings, His mercy in this respect which Israel proved experimentally, and all kings of the earth celebrate in that day. What a change from this day of delusion and infidelity, to which the Jew contributes so largely!
"To the chief musician: a psalm of David." The execution of external judgment, when Christ takes the world‑kingdom (Rev. 11.), does not hinder the inner work for the faithful Jew, who here tells out his confidence in the heart‑searching of Jehovah. This recalls not only His own omnipresence and omniscience, as the, faithful Creator, but His thoughts about us. For truly His complacency is in men, not angels: the Christ was to be man, though Son of the Highest. Therefore as a godly Jew he heartily goes with the vengeance to fall on the wicked, while he desires yet more God's searching of himself lest any grievous way should be found in him.
From the deep searching, yea God's searching, of the heart in the last psalm, we turn to a group of five, rising from a cry for full deliverance by executed judgment to anticipated thanksgiving in Ps. 145, a millennial strain, followed by varied and ceaseless praises to the end of the book.
"To the chief musician: a psalm of David." Probably the "evil man," if defined, seems to be Antichrist; the "man of violence" rather the external enemy, the Assyrian. Proud or high ones here are ungodly Israelites.
"A psalm of David." This is pursued for the soul's profit that all said and done may be to and in the favour of Jehovah, apart from the dainties of evil doers, and accepting rebuke from the righteous; so that, when judgment falls, some may hear and live.
"An instruction of David when he was in the cave: a prayer." Here is a didactic word, a prayer too. Wickedness in power casts the righteous on Jehovah alone. How often precious, and proved by how many! Yet, while originally David's faith, it will apply fully in the future crisis of Israel.
"A psalm of David." The following is deeper still: not only none else save Jehovah, but self-abandoned. No righteousness can stand judgment, but here is the righteousness of God by faith. Confidence is in grace. So the godly Jew will feel and say in that day.
This psalm blesses Jehovah in confidence and bright expectation. Why should man (Adam) son of enosh, weak and faint, stay blessing through divine judgment? For so Israel always expects, whatever the mercy also. The Christian stands in grace and looks into heaven, to which he belongs as in Christ. This psalm looks for judgment, not the gospel.
"Praise of David." Here comes "Praise" or the new song purposed in Ps. 144, an alphabetic construction, omitting Nun (the Hebrew N).
The final praises of Jah in five strains close the book. It may be noticed that creation and Israel here and elsewhere in the O.T. answer to the new creation and the church in the N.T. The Septuagint attributes the first three to Haggai and Zechariah, 147 being divided.
"Praise ye Jah." The praise of Jah, Jehovah, Jacob's God, is urged, in contrast with men, not only as maker of heaven, earth, the sea, and all in them, but as the sure moral Governor, only to be proved and displayed perfectly in that day when Zion is the earthly centre.
"Praise ye Jah." Incomparably greater things are before Israel than the work of Nehemiah for the returned remnant, though to speak of this may have given occasion to their glorious hope, inseparable from the Messiah and the kingdom and all Israel then to be saved. Then indeed it will be Jehovah building Jerusalem and gathering Israel's outcasts far beyond the little provisional mercy to the Jews from Babylon. And He is competent Who makes the world, yea the universe, delights most of all in the lowly that fear Him, and shows Jacob His word, Israel His judgments; for He thus owned no other nation.
"Praise ye Jah." Here praise is called for from the heaven, and every one and thing connected, the praise of Jehovah's name; so from the earth and all below, rising up to the kings and all peoples, of every age, sex, and degree, to praise His name set in His people, His holy or godly ones, beyond question Israel's sons. The church reigns with Him Who reigns over all the rest, the universe.
is "Praise ye Jah." It is expressly a new song for Israel, no longer enemies as touching the gospel, no longer only beloved for the fathers' sake, but a congregation of pious ones, Zion's sons rejoicing in their King. Their position is judicial on earth; but we who believe, without seeing Christ, have our joy in His heavenly grace and glory.
"Praise ye Jah." Thus fitly ends this inspired collection of psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, in a grand chorus of praise on this long travailing but soon to be delivered and rejoicing earth, when the world‑kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ is come.