Notes on the Book of Psalm
The fourth book, consisting of Pss. 90-106., his its own
distinct lineaments, which discover inspiration in their order as a whole, as
well as in the contents of each: only spiritual ignorance can fail to see both.
It is "A prayer of Moses the man of God." This is the suited introduction and finds its place here rather than in any other among the 150, Historically it would precede all probably; for there is no substantial ground for doubting that Moses was the writer according to its title. Adonai is owned as Israel's dwelling-place in all generations, from everlasting to everlasting El, turning weak man (enosh) to dust, and saying, Return, sons of men (Adam). He is the God of creation and of providence. But faith, that owns man's transient littleness and the power of the divine displeasure, can also say, Return, Jehovah: how long? Their prayer rises that Jehovah's work may appear to His servants; and His majesty on their sons.
This Psalm introduces Messiah owning Jehovah, the God of Israel, as His God, Whose is supreme power and faithfulness; and hence delivered at length and set on high. "Jehovah reigneth."
The N.T. clearly intimates that Messiah takes this place under the Most High and the Almighty, identifying both with the Jehovah God of Israel in the face of Satan's evil and power. It is a sort of dialogue in which Messiah in ver. 2 answers the apothegm of ver. 1 and assures Israel of deliverance in vers. 3-8. Then Israel rejoices in vers. 9-13, and Jehovah puts His seal to it in vers. 14-16.
This is "A psalm, a song, for the sabbath day." Here the true Sabbath, the rest of God, is anticipated when man's restless toils are over. How suitable this song will then be needs no comment here. Blessing on earth follows judgment. Such is O.T. order. Those that follow to Ps. 100 hang on this title.
How glorious an opening, and stupendous the change for the earth! "Jehovah reigneth." It is not so now. Satan is still the prince of the world, the god of this age: God does not share his throne.
It is the cry of a righteous remnant anticipating and longing for the establishment of Jehovah's righteous rule on the earth, as the preceding psalm proclaimed the great principles succinctly: Jehovah reigning, not Satan as now (John 14: 30, 2 Cor. 4: 4, Eph. 2: 2, 6: 12); His testimony very sure before His power is displayed superior to all opposition; holiness becoming His house forever on earth, as well as in heaven. This draws out the appeal for His vengeance on the evil then undisguised towering to heaven, and blasphemers in pride; and its folly is exposed before their brethren that believe not. But their own hearts take the comforts of His discipline, as yet in vain for the Gentiles, but in faithful keeping for His own. The return of righteousness to judgment is assured if He reign, and the impossibility of fellowship between Himself and the throne of iniquity. Such will be the blessedness when He brings in the First-begotten into the inhabited earth; and such in view of it the earnest prayer of the godly Israelite.
The next six Psalms may be viewed as completing the group which began with Ps. 93; yet of themselves they mike an evident and well ordered progress. The first of the six (Ps. 95) summons the people of God, in the Spirit of prophecy which animated the godly, to rejoice in Jehovah no longer to be hidden but revealed in Christ Who brings in salvation, glory, and rest; but no blessing is without hearing His voice. In the second the summons goes forth beyond Israel to the nations and peoples; as the third is the new song that is sought. The fourth demands a new song of Israel; and the fifth is the answer. This is completed by Ps. 100, which expresses Israel in the joy of grace, while owning their own portion, inviting all the earth to shout aloud to Jehovah, and with enlarged hearts welcoming into His gates with thanksgiving those whose approach they used jealously to fend off is dogs,
It will be noticed how Jehovah is worshipped as the Creator but the God of Israel; then a warning is given from the unbelief of their fathers in the wilderness. Their failure from of old will not debar them from His rest tomorrow, only unbelief today.
It is "ye" here to the nations, not "us" as in the preceding psalms. Yet Jehovah holds to His ordered place on earth, and the peoples are invited to the courts of His sanctuary, then indeed a house of prayer for all the peoples.
Such is the song in reply. It is the earth rejoicing through the execution of divine judgments because Jehovah reigns in that day. Zion rejoices on hearing, and Judah's daughters too; a blessed trait in it, for naturally how different had all been! So the heavens here declare Jehovah's righteousness; the earth certainly was far from it, though we, Christians, know it still more gloriously in Him Who is on the Father's throne.
This is the call on Israel for a new song, though all the earth is to shout to Jehovah thereon, as Zion was glad when all the peoples saw His glory to the shame of idolatry. Here the sea too, the world, the rivers, and the hills all rejoice at His coming to judge the earth, Who is Jehovah the King.
This is Israel's song in answer. Jehovah is great in Zion, and executes judgment and righteousness in Jacob. He sits between the cherubim. All the peoples therefore are to praise His name. As in the early days of the people, so yet more at the end of the age will He answer those that call on Him, while punishing their doings: not then one or two here and there, but "so all Israel shall be saved." "Thy people also shall be all righteous" in that day. Jehovah's hand is not shortened that it cannot save, neither His ear heavy that it cannot hear.
Its title is "A psalm of thanksgiving," and how just! Here Israel calls to universal thanksgiving; no churlishness to the Gentile more. Jehovah's mercy enjoyed makes His people bountiful.
The previous group of psalms anticipated in the Spirit of Christ, the revelation of Jehovah to the joy of His people and the nations, indeed of all the earth. The last of them demonstrates the great change by divine grace, when Israel will welcome the Gentiles to His courts, not only without jealousy, but with all their hearts. A fresh cluster now follows.
This psalm introduces the Messiah again; but now as the true David, and Solomon too, singing of mercy and judgment on taking His house and kingdom to be ordered in righteousness unswervingly It is entitled "A psalm of David."
This psalm is "A prayer of the afflicted one when he is overwhelmed, and before Jehovah poureth out his complaint." It is as full of interest, as of moment incalculable. The Epistle to the Hebrews (Heb. 1: 10-12) quotes it to prove that the O.T. regards Christ the Son of God as Jehovah, Ps. 45 having just been alleged in proof of His Godhead, and in both psalms by the God of Israel Himself. Yet it is Messiah's depth of humiliation which gives occasion to this expression of His divine glory. Out of that depth the Son contrasts His own wasting away in trouble with the permanence of Jehovah, with the certainty of Zion's rise from ruin, and the fulfilment of hope in the glorious morrow, when the peoples shall be no longer rebellious but gathered together to serve Jehovah. But when Messiah renews His cry of borrow, the Father declares that the holy Sufferer is no less than Himself, Jehovah the Creator, Who will change the creature as of old He made it, and is destined yet to have the sons of His servants abiding, and their seed established before Him. The comment of inspiration is as wondrous as the Psalm: none but the Holy Spirit could have given either; and both are worthy of Him to whom they testify.
This psalm celebrates the fruit of blessing by the Israel of God in that day. For them, as for us now, Messiah's sufferings produced endless praise. It begins with the individual, as always, "every one that is written in the book." It follows up the forgiveness of all iniquities with the healing of all diseases; for the age of habitable earth to come will enjoy the full power of Messiah, of which miracles (when He was here or afterwards) were but samples. Then it rises to His ways as well as acts, not as of old partially made known, but attested in all the extent and display of His kingdom. For it is not only Jehovah's mercy from everlasting to everlasting on those that fear Him, but His throne is established in the heavens, and His kingdom rules over all. Hence His angels, His hosts, and all His work, are to bless Jehovah everywhere; as his own soul did, and so it concludes. Could this psalm be with such propriety anywhere but here, immediately after Ps. 102? Inspiration arranged as it wrote; the profit of both is lost by incredulity through vain confidence in man and his thoughts.
This is the connected and dependent outburst of praise, with a similar beginning ("of David" excepted), and here therefore in due place. The theme is Jehovah supreme over creation, the chiefdom in Col. 1: 15 asserted of Christ and this on evident and conclusive ground, because by (ejn, in virtue of) Him were created all things (ta; p. the universe), those in the heavens and those on the earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones, etc. The whole of them has been created through Him and for Him; and He is before all things; and the universe by Him subsists together. As the preceding psalm celebrated what Jehovah-Messiah is to Israel, from the individual widening out and upward, so this definitely views creation blessed after long bondage and growing vanity through sin, but now delivered through the Second man. So the scriptures show, when sinners shall be consumed out of the earth and wicked persons be no more. This result rationalism deprecates irreverently and unintelligently as "a glow of passion." For man, not God, fills the unbelieving mind to the exclusion of His glory. But in the end of the age the darnel shall be rooted out, instead of growing together with the wheat as now. And this is meet and due to God: even those punished will own it vainly for their lot in that day.
This book closes with the next two psalms which are an evidently antithetical pair, each by a different route tending, and contributing, to the end of Jehovah, His mercy in saving Israel to His own praise.
"Give thanks unto Jehovah," etc.
This recounts the good ways of Jehovah in grace with His people according to His promises, that they might keep His statutes and observe His laws.
"Praise ye Jah." "Blessed [be] Jehovah God of Israel from the everlasting and into the everlasting! And let all the people say, Amen Hallelujah (Praise ye Jah)." This confesses the evil works of Israel in ungrateful forgetfulness, rebellion, and idolatry. Yet Jehovah's ear is open to their repentant cry, as His hand to deliver; hence their prayer to "Jehovah our God," "Save us," and "gather us from among the Gentiles" to give thanks to His holy name and to triumph in His praise, as will surely be at the end of this age.
In Ps. 105 only divine goodness appears to Israel, and His judgments on their enemies, ending in Hallelujah. In Ps. 106, which begins and ends with Hallelujah, we have only Israel's evil ways confessed but divine mercy on their cry; as the ground for salvation and deliverance from among the Gentiles to triumph in Jehovah's praise. Ps. 103 had the last title.
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