Psalms 42 - 72 (Second Book)

by Hamilton Smith

PSALM 42

The experience of a godly man, expressing the confidence in God of the believing remnant of the Jews in the latter days, when cast out of Jerusalem.

The great theme of the psalm is the faith of the soul in God Himself. Cast out of the land, and cut off from the blessings of the sanctuary, the soul clings to God as its only resource, when all else is gone.

(vv. 1-2) The distressing circumstances create a soul thirst for God-the living God. As the water brooks revive the panting hart, so the soul looks to God as the life-giving One, to revive his soul; while waiting for the time when he will appear before God in His sanctuary.

(vv. 3-4) The sorrows of the godly man arise from his being surrounded by scoffers when cut off from his privileges. Scoffers take occasion by circumstances, in which the soul is apparently forsaken, to continually raise the taunt, "Where is thy God?" Moreover the soul is distressed as it sees the enemy in possession of the temple, where, in past days, it had worshipped God in company with His people. Privileges once enjoyed are valued more deeply now that they are lost.

(v. 5) However, the memory of the enjoyment of past blessings leads the soul to rebuke its present despondency; and encourages it to hope in God for the future. What God is in Himself, not what we may chance to feel Him in this or that moment to be, that is our hope. "My soul...hope thou in God." Looking beyond the present gloom the godly man can say, "I shall yet praise him for the health of his countenance." The enemy is against him, but the face of God is toward him; and if God be for him who can be against him?

(vv. 6-8) Nevertheless, present circumstances are such that the soul is cast down, though it ceases not to remember God from the dreary mountain places beyond Jordan, to which it has been banished. There his calamities are compared to floods and waves allowed by God to overwhelm his soul. Nevertheless the godly man looks on to the coming day when Jehovah will command His loving-kindness. In the meantime his night will be relieved by praise and prayer (cp. Acts 16: 25).

(vv. 9-11) In the assurance of the coming day, the godly man stays his soul upon God as his rock. He may have to meet storms of opposition from enemies that oppress and reproach him, as they continually say "Where is thy God?" but no storm can move or shake the Rock in which he trusts. The circumstances may lead him to cry, "Why hast thou forgotten me?" Nonetheless, God being his rock, he can again rebuke the natural tendency to despondency by saying, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God." Then with renewed confidence the soul can add, "I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God." The favour of God's countenance (v. 5) becomes the health of the countenance of the godly man.

PSALM 43

The godly man looking to God to be delivered from his enemies, and brought back to the sanctuary, in God's holy hill, for the praise of God.

(vv. 1-2) The great theme of the last psalm is the longing of the soul for the living God. In this psalm the earnest desire of the godly man is to be delivered from his different foes-"an ungodly nation," the Jews; "the deceitful and unjust man"-the Antichrist; and "the oppression of the enemy"-the Gentiles.

Feeling his utter weakness, he realizes that God is the God of his strength. Nevertheless his outward circumstances, as driven out of the land, make it appear that he is cast off by God.

(vv. 3-4) He seeks that he may not be deceived by the surrounding gloom, or judge according to appearances; but that he may be led by the light and truth of God. Judging according to circumstances and sight, he would be led far from God. Guided by God's light and truth he would be led to God's "holy hill," and God's "tabernacles."

This then is the desire of his heart, that delivered from every enemy, and led by light and truth, he may at last be found at God's altar as a worshipper in God's tabernacle.

(v. 5) Encouraged by this prospect he again rebukes his despondency, and the anxieties which disquiet his soul. He encourages himself to hope in God, whom he will yet praise. Then will his face shine in the full enjoyment of the favour of God.

PSALM 44

The faith of the godly remnant, counting upon what God has done for His people in the past and acknowledging God as their King, looks to God to arise for the help of His people and to deliver them from all their enemies.

(vv. 1-3) The godly remnant, though cast out of the land, and under the oppression of their enemies, cling in simple faith to what they have heard from their fathers of God's mighty works on behalf of His people in the past. In those days it was not by their own power that God's people were brought into the land, and their enemies dispossessed. It was God's right hand, and God's arm, that brought them into blessing, because God was favourable to His people and delighted in them.

(vv. 4-8) Now, when again the enemy is in possession of the land, and God's people are cast out, the believing remnant claim God as their King, and look to Him that, once again, through His power they may be delivered from their enemies. Their trust will not be in their bow or sword, but in the God who in times past had saved them from their enemies. In God will be their boast, and His Name will they praise for ever.

(vv. 9-16) They recount before God the present condition of God's professing people, and God's ways with them, so utterly in contrast with His former ways. Not only are they cast off, defeated, spoiled by their enemies, and scattered among the heathen; but it is God Himself, who formerly wrought on their behalf, who has cast them off, and turned their backs before their enemies, and scattered them. They own that God's hand in government is upon them; that God has sold His people into captivity, and made them "a reproach," "a scorn," "a derision" and a "byword." Thus the godly soul is continually face to face with the confusion and shame of God's people; for the voice of those that reproach and blaspheme is ever raised against them.

(vv. 17-22) Nevertheless, in the midst of all their confusion and shame, the godly can plead their integrity. They have not forgotten God. In the presence of the reproaches and blasphemy of the enemy they can say nothing, for they are conscious of the utter failure of the nation: but in the presence of God they can still plead that they have not forgotten God, nor turned aside from His covenant or His ways.

They are "sore broken," and lie under "the shadow of death;" nevertheless they have not forgotten the name of God, nor stretched out their hands in appeal to a strange god. Had they done so God would have known it, for "He knoweth the secrets of the heart." Thus they appeal to the perfect knowledge of God. So far from turning to a strange god, they are suffering all the day long, and are exposed to death, because they cleave to the true God.

(vv. 23-26) They appeal to God to awaken on their behalf, and cast them not off for ever. They plead their own deep need and His exceeding grace. They are in affliction and oppressed, bowed down and crushed; but with God there is help and loving-kindness.

This psalm unfolds deeply important principles, applicable to God's people in any day of ruin. First, in an evil day, we should ever judge of the power and goodness of God by the way He acted for His people in the beginning of the dispensation; and beware of judging of God by the low condition in which they may be found by reason of their failure (vv. 1-3).

Secondly, in spite of all their failure, His people should trust in God as the One who alone can bring deliverance, and beware of seeking to remedy their condition by their own efforts (vv. 4-8).

Thirdly, in a day of failure it becomes God's people to bow under the chastening hand of the Lord, looking beyond all second causes, and recognizing that God Himself has allowed them to become a reproach and a byword (vv. 9-18).

Fourthly, in spite of all failure, and the consequent chastening of the Lord, let them never surrender the truth; or think for one moment that failure relieves from responsibility to obey the Word, or to walk in God's appointed way. It is still their privilege, and responsibility, in a day of ruin, to keep the covenant, walk in God's way, cleave to His Name, and suffer for His sake (vv. 17-22).

Finally, while owning their failure, let them look to God alone to "arise for their help" (vv. 23-26).

PSALM 45

A song of the Beloved, in which Christ is presented in answer to the appeal of the godly in Psalm 44. He is seen in His moral perfection; as the One mighty in battle; and finally as the King reigning in righteousness, with restored Israel under the figure of a queen.

(v. 1) The heart of the singer is "welling forth with a good matter" (JND). It is more than full, it is overflowing, for the theme of his song is the King in His beauty. His words are no mere recital of what others have said: he speaks of the glories that he himself has discerned in the King. His tongue is the pen of a ready writer. An empty heart will mean a silent tongue. An overflowing heart will lead to a ready tongue; for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

(v. 2) The psalmist, addressing the Beloved, and voicing the feelings of the earthly bride, can say, "Thou art fairer than the children of men." The King surpasses all others in beauty and moral excellence. Moreover His moral perfection filled His lips with grace. "Grace is poured into thy lips." The grace of His words is the outcome of the love of His heart. "Therefore," says the psalmist-because of His intrinsic worth-"God hath blessed thee for ever." Others are blessed through His work and worth; He, alone amongst men, is blessed because of His own intrinsic excellence.

(vv. 3-5) However excellent the King, yea, because of His moral perfection, He has been opposed by the enmity of men, who will not submit to His claims as the King. His throne, therefore, can only be reached through the judgment of His enemies. Thus the godly man appeals to the King to gird on His sword for the day of battle. Not only is the King morally perfect, but He is all powerful-a "mighty One."

With the girding on of the sword, the day of His humiliation is passed; the time to put on His glory and majesty has come. When He comes forth in His majesty, as the One mighty in battle, He will ride prosperously, for He will do battle with the forces of evil on behalf of "truth, and meekness, and righteousness." He will maintain the truth, avenge the oppressed, and establish righteousness. In this world's wars, earthly kings pay little heed to truth; the meek are crushed, and too often might prevails over right. A prosperous kingdom and a permanent throne cannot be reached by such means. Here, however, is One that wars, not simply to acquire territory or renown, but to establish the right, and bless the meek of the earth. With such motives and aims the King, in the day of battle, will "ride" through all the ranks of the enemy, and overcome every obstacle. The peoples will fall under Him, and the King's enemies will be smitten to rise no more.

(vv. 6-7) Thus will He reach a throne that will be established for ever and ever, of which the sceptre will be wielded in righteousness. Moreover in that day the King will be recognized as a Divine Person, and addressed as God. The King is none less than the Son of God. Nevertheless, He has taken a place amongst man, and as Man, He loved righteousness and hated wickedness; and of Him it can be said, "God, Thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy companions." Righteousness must be the basis of a kingdom that endures for ever, and joy and gladness will flow from righteousness. While others will share the kingdom glories, Christ, as King, will ever be pre-eminent.

Thus the King has been passed before us in His moral perfection (v. 2); as the One mighty in battle, overcoming every enemy (vv. 3-5); and finally as reigning in righteousness, in the glory of His Person, exalted above His companions in kingly dignity (vv. 6-7).

(v. 8) We are now permitted to behold the King in yet another glory, as the Bridegroom in the day of His espousals. For even as the recognition of Christ in heaven, as the omnipotent King, is followed by the marriage of the Lamb (Rev. 19: 6-8): so the coming forth of Christ to reign on earth as the King of kings will be followed by the restoration of Israel as the earthly bride.

Once He had worn the garments of humiliation; then He had gone forth to war clothed in a vesture dipped in blood; now the days of His humiliation are passed, His victories are complete, and He comes forth in garments that speak of a character redolent with every grace. Not only does gladness flow from His throne (v. 7); but He, Himself, is made glad by the joy of His people. At last He dwells amidst the praises of Israel (Ps. 22: 3).

(v. 9) The nations, presented under the figure of "King's daughters," will do homage to the King; though the place of honour will be reserved for restored Israel, brought before us under the figure of the queen standing at the right hand of the King (cp. Isa. 54: 5; Jer. 3: 1; Hosea 2: 19-20).

(vv. 10-12) The psalmist, using the figure of a bride, calls upon restored Israel to consider the new relationship upon which the nation is entering, and to forget the sorrowful past with all its failure and unfaithfulness to Jehovah. In those days the leaders of the nation had boasted in their fathers while rejecting Christ. Restored Israel is called to recognize that, in connection with their own people, they had forfeited every claim to blessing. They are now to learn that if they inherit blessing it is entirely owing to Christ, and in connection with Him-the One who had been rejected by their fathers. They are called to dissociate themselves from the guilty nation in order to be entirely for Christ. Thus only will the Lord delight in Israel, and Israel worship the Lord.

Thus devoted to the Lord they will exercise an attractive power over the nations, as set forth by the "daughter of Tyre" and "the rich among the peoples." Such will come with their gifts, entreating the favour of the nation that is in favour with the King. In like spirit Isaiah can say, "The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet" (Isa. 60: 14).

(vv. 13-15) The restored nation of Israel has its distinct place of honour in submission and devotedness to the King. The nations have come with their gift, thus submitting to Israel. Now restored Israel, and the converted of the nations, under the figure of the bride and her companions, having been made suited to the King, are presented to Christ with gladness and joy, to have a place of intimacy and nearness-"They shall enter into the king's palace."

(vv. 16-17) In the closing verses of the psalm, we hear the voice of Jehovah speaking through the psalmist. Jehovah predicts that restored Israel, instead of looking back to their fathers, through whom all blessing was forfeited, will rejoice in her children who will rule as princes in the earth. Above all, Christ will be exalted and praised for ever and ever. Other names will be forgotten, but the name of Christ will be remembered throughout all generations, and He, Himself, the Object of praise among all people for ever and ever.

PSALM 46

The confidence of the remnant of the Jews in God, acquired by the experience of what God has been for them in the time of trouble.

(v. 1) With Christ before their souls, presented in Psalm 45 as the One who will vanquish all their enemies and establish a reign of righteousness, they can say, with the utmost confidence, "God is our refuge, and strength." Moreover, not only can they say "we have heard" of the great things God has done for His people in times past, as in Psalm 44: 1-8; but, with a deepened experience of God's goodness, they can add, "God is...a very present help in trouble."

(vv. 2-3) With the confidence that God is a present help in trouble, the godly can face their circumstances which call for a "refuge," "strength," and "help." They find themselves in a scene of confusion and upheaval. The earth is removed, or "changed;" the mountains, speaking of stable governments (Matt. 21: 21), are being overturned in the midst of nations in a state of turmoil. The roar of the masses, in revolution against every form of constitutional government, strikes terror into the hearts of men "for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth" (Isa. 5: 26-30; Luke 21: 26). Nevertheless, having God for their refuge, the godly can say, "Therefore will not we fear."

(vv. 4-7) Delivered from the fear of present circumstances, however terrible, the godly can in calmness contemplate what God has before Him according to the purpose of His heart. They see "the city of God," and "the tabernacles of the most High," made glad by the river of God. The mountains that surround them may be removed, but the city to which they are going "shall not be moved." Furthermore, they see that the dawn of the morning is near when God's city will come into view (v. 5, JND). The heathen may rage, and their kingdoms be removed, but nothing can hinder the fulfillment of God's purpose. God has but to speak and every enemy will melt away. If, however, God is against the nations, as the Lord of hosts He is with the godly; and being with them is their refuge, even as Jacob found when God said to him, "I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee into this land" (Gen. 28: 15; Heb. 13: 5-6). So too Elisha experienced at Dothan, when he said to his servant, "Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them" (2 Kings 6: 14-17).

(vv. 8-9) Moreover, with the purpose of God before their souls, the godly see that, through the desolations of the earth, God is working to fulfill His counsel, and in due time will make wars to cease; for if God makes desolation, He also makes peace.

(v. 10) Having thus seen the purpose of God, and the governmental ways whereby God carries out His purpose, the godly have only to be still and wait for God to act. In due time God will be exalted in the earth; then it will be made manifest that the Lord of hosts is with His people, and the God of Jacob their refuge.

PSALM 47

Israel, anticipating their deliverance from their enemies, celebrate the triumph of God, and call upon the nations to unite with them in praise to God.

(vv. 1-4) We know from Revelation, that in the days of trial, which precede the reign of Christ, a great multitude will be saved from amongst the nations. Apparently it is this great company, "the willing-hearted of the peoples" (v. 9 JND) that are called in this psalm to express their joy with shouts of triumph, because God has vanquished every enemy. The Lord Most High has shewn Himself to be terrible to those who refuse to submit to His claims. He is not only King, but "a great King" that none can withstand. He has subdued the Gentiles and exalted Israel above the nations, and, in sovereign grace has chosen the land of Israel, the excellency of Jacob whom He loved.

(vv. 5-9) The psalmist, anticipating the time when God will have taken possession of His earthly throne, calls for all to sing with intelligent praise to God, the King of all the earth, who reigns over the nations, and whose throne is characterized by holiness. Then, every opposing enemy having been subdued under the feet of Israel, the willing-hearted of the nations will be gathered together with the people of the God of Abraham, and the defence of the whole earth against all evil (the shields of the earth) will be in the hands of God: the result being that, while the whole earth will be blessed, God Himself will be greatly exalted.

PSALM 48

The celebration of the reign of the King in Zion, the city of God, at last delivered from the enemy and established as the centre of government for the whole earth.

This psalm completes the series of psalms commencing with Psalm 44. In that psalm the faith of the godly, having heard from the fathers of God's deliverances in days of old, looks to God to arise for their help and redeem Israel from the power of the enemy. Psalm 45 presents Christ as the answer to their cry to God for help. He is the One through whom deliverance will come. Psalm 46 expressed the confidence in God gained by the actual experience of God's mercy in the present, and not simply the report of what God has done in the past. Psalm 47 celebrates the intervention of God on behalf of His people, establishing Christ as "King over all the earth," exalting Israel over the nations, and calling upon the nations to join with Israel in praise to Jehovah. Psalm 48 presents the King established in Zion the centre of government for the whole earth. Thus the godly say, "As we have heard," referring to Psalm 44, "so have we seen."

(vv. 1-3) The psalm opens with an ascription of praise to Jehovah, who has established His throne in Zion, "the city of our God." Then follows a description of the glory of the city. As becomes the dwelling place of Jehovah, it is described as "the mountain of his holiness." Holiness being established, the city which had been desolate now becomes beautiful, the joy of the whole earth. "On the sides of the north" may indicate the blessedness of the city in the sight of the world, that at enmity with the people of God had once approached from the north. Now God, dwelling in the city, is known as its defence and security. Thus the city is publicly known as holy, beautiful, a joy, and as a refuge for God's people.

(vv. 4-7) There follows a vivid description of the sudden judgment by which the city had been delivered from the enemies of God's people. The confederated kings had assembled against the city. They mustered their hosts that passed by together in battle array, only to find themselves confronted, not simply by man, but by the mighty power of God. Astonished and dismayed they fled, seized with sudden panic; trembling like a woman overcome with the pain of travail, and dispersed like a navy in a storm.

(vv. 8-10) Thus the godly can say, not only "We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work thou didst in their days" (Ps. 44: 1), but, "as we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the Lord of hosts." Moreover the city now delivered, will be established "for ever." When cast out of the land, they had thought of the loving-kindness of God (Ps. 42: 8); now that the city is freed from the enemy the godly can delight in the loving-kindness of God "in the midst of thy temple." The praise of God, according to all that He is, as set forth in His name, will flow to the ends of the earth, and the power of His right hand will be known in righteousness for the whole world.

(vv. 11-14) The psalm closes with a call to mount Zion to rejoice, and to the cities of Judah to be glad. In peace the inhabitants can contemplate the beauty of Zion as they survey her bulwarks and palaces, and thus be able to tell of this great deliverance to future generations, recognizing that the God who has wrought the deliverance is their God for ever and ever. Never again will the nation turn aside to idolatry. Henceforth through life God will be their God and their guide.

PSALM 49

In view of the judgments of God about to overwhelm the world, all the inhabitants are warned against the folly of trusting in riches to meet "the days of evil." The psalm shows the vanity of riches, and the end of those who boast in their wealth. It encourages the godly in an evil day to trust in God, who not only redeems from death, but afterwards receives the soul.

(vv. 1-4) All the inhabitants of this passing fleeting world, whatever their social position, whether rich or poor, are called to hear the wisdom of one who speaks with understanding, or 'discernment.' The psalmist speaks as one who has listened to the voice of God, and is thus able to expound the riddle of life, with all the certainty of inspiration.

(v. 5) The psalmist opens his warning with a word of encouragement for the godly man who finds himself living in an evil day, surrounded by those who seek to trip him up. Why should such fear? The exposure that follows, of the utter vanity of those who confide in their riches, answers this question. For the one who trusts in God there is no fear.

(vv. 6-14) The psalmist proceeds to show the folly of trusting in wealth, and boasting in riches. Man cannot, with all his wealth, redeem his brother from death or secure blessing from God. The redemption of the soul is costly, beyond the wealth of the world; God alone can redeem from death. Man cannot but see one thing is common to all, whether wise, or fools, or brutes-all die, and dying will leave their wealth to others. They may seek to make provision for the continuance of their line, the maintenance of their dwelling places, and the perpetuation of their name. Nevertheless, though man may rise to honour in this life, he cannot abide. Death spoils the plans of man, and proves the folly of their ways, even though the living approve their sayings. In spite of their inward thoughts, expressed in their "sayings," their wealth is left behind, and their magnificent dwellings shrink down to the narrow grave. Their beauty ends in corruption.

(v. 15) Here then is the answer to the question asked by the poor man who trusts in God. "Wherefore should I fear in the days of evil?" In contrast to those who trust in riches, the one who trusts in God can say, "God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me." The soul redeemed by God will be received by God after death has closed the present life.

(vv. 16-20) Therefore, those who trust in God are not to be afraid when success and earthly prosperity come to the man of the world. Such need not fear that they have made a mistake in trusting God, or that they have missed a great deal that the worldly man enjoys. Let such remember that when the man of the world dies he carries nothing away. He has not been rich toward God. He leaves all behind, and has laid up no treasure for the world to come. Earthly riches and worldly glory cannot follow him to the grave. He may, indeed, have done well for himself, as men speak, in this life, and in consequence be praised by others as a successful man. In the end he dies, even as his fathers have done before him; he sees the light no more and, as far as this world is concerned, has perished like the beasts.

PSALM 50

A testimony of God to the heavens and the earth, that rebukes those who are content with the form of religion without the power.

Psalm 49 rebukes the folly of the worldly man that trusts in riches; Psalm 50 the religious man that trusts in forms of religion.

(vv. 1-2) God is present in His majesty, as the mighty and unchangeable One, speaking to the whole earth from the rising of the sun to the going down thereof. He speaks out of Zion, and hence in sovereign blessing for man.

(vv. 3-6) The verses that follow declare that God has reached the throne of blessing in Zion through judgment. During long ages God has kept silence while the world has ripened for judgment. At length the silence will be broken and God will come with the devouring fire of judgment.

The scene being cleared in judgment, God gathers around Him those who are in relationship with Him on the ground of sacrifice-the death of Christ. The earth has manifested the unrighteousness of man; now, at last, the heavens will declare the righteousness of God that, on the one hand, deals in judgment with the rejectors of Christ, and on the other hand blesses those who trust in Christ.

(vv. 7-13) The verses that follow declare God's testimony to Israel, reproving them for trusting in the outward form of religion. God does not reprove them in relation to their sacrifices, as if they had not brought them. God does not want sacrifice from man, He requires righteousness. God has wearied with religious men continually bringing sacrifices, as if He were claiming cattle from men, or as if He were hungry and needed meat. Every beast of the forest is His, and the cattle on a thousand hills. All the fullness of the earth is at His disposal.

(vv. 14-15) God looks for a spirit of thanksgiving, and the practical fulfillment of obligations. God desires that men should confide in Him and call upon Him in the day of trouble.

(vv. 16-21) Alas! while observing a round of religious ceremonies, the professing people of God hated instruction, and treated God's words with contempt. They might not be guilty of any gross sin, as stealing, but they took pleasure in a thief, and had partaken, if only in mind and imagination, with adulterers. Their mouth had been used for evil-speaking, deceit, and slander.

Yet, because God kept silence, and bore long in patience, men thought that all was well, and that God, like themselves, was satisfied with outward religious observances. When, however, God speaks he raises the question of man's unrighteousness. "These things hast thou done." Man's religion is one of outward forms with nothing to disturb the conscience. God beginning with the conscience, raises the question, "What hast thou done?" (cp. Gen 3: 13; 4: 10).

(vv. 22-23) The formalist may indeed be religious, but he is forgetting God. Let such beware lest he is overtaken by judgment. Let him glorify God by offering praise, and ordering his way aright; then indeed he will see the salvation of God.

PSALM 51

The experiences of a repentant soul, anticipating the confession of sin by the godly Jewish remnant in the last days, when they humble themselves before God for the rejection and murder of Christ (v. 14).

Psalm 49 warns us against the worldly man that trusts in his riches. Psalm 50 rebukes the religious man who trusts in the outward forms of religion, such as sacrifices and burnt offerings. Psalm 51 presents the repentant man who, acknowledging that sacrifices and burnt offerings are of no avail (v. 16), humbles himself before God and looks to the mercy of God for cleansing.

(vv. 1-3) The psalm opens with a repentant man appealing to the grace and loving-kindness of God. He sees that with God there is an "abundance" (JND) of tender mercies, and therefore God's mercy is greater than his sin. So the prodigal in the parable can say: "How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare."

In the light of the grace of God, the repentant man can acknowledge his transgressions and sin, and look to God to blot out his sins from before God's face, and cleanse him from the sin that is ever before him.

(v. 4) However much we may sin against man, all sin is against God. The repentant man has a deep conviction of the true character of sin as against God, and in the sight of God. Sin is a defiance of God, and being so, God will be justified in judging the sinner.

(vv. 5-6) Furthermore, the sin is traced to its origin and found to consist, not simply in sinful acts, but in a sinful nature. Hence the sinner requires not only cleansing from actual sins, but a new nature in "the inward parts."

(vv. 7-8) Having acknowledged his sin, the repentant man looks to God to cleanse him with hyssop. The reference is to the cleansing of the leper, and those who had defiled themselves by contact with a dead body. The hyssop was dipped in blood, which was then sprinkled on the person to be cleansed. It surely speaks of the righteous ground on which God can cleanse-the precious blood of Christ. Being cleansed, the soul would be restored to joy and gladness.

(vv. 9-13) Furthermore, there is the desire, not only that the repentant sinner may be cleansed, but that God Himself will no longer see his sins, and further, that the cleansing may not only be outward, but inward, so that he may have "a clean heart" and a right spirit. Thus suited for God's presence, and filled with the Spirit, he would be led again into the joy of salvation. Sustained by a "willing spirit" (JND), in contrast to his past sin in defiance of God, the repentant sinner, now restored, would be able to teach others in the ways of God so that sinners would be turned to God.

(vv. 14-15) Having sought cleansing from his own sins, the psalmist seeks deliverance from the blood-guiltiness of the nation, guilty of the blood of their own Messiah (Matt. 27: 25). Then indeed he would sing of the "righteousness" of God, expressed as we know in the death of Christ. The declaration of the righteousness of God will lead to the praise of the Lord.

(vv. 16-17) The soul, having profited by the witness of God in Psalm 50, now disclaims all confidence in legal sacrifices. It is realized that if the soul looks to the grace of God for cleansing, the only right condition for being cleansed, is "a broken spirit" and "a contrite heart." Such, God will not despise.

(vv. 18-19) The repentance of the remnant of the Jews, anticipated in the psalm, prepares the way for the restoration of Zion, according to God's good pleasure. Then, indeed, God will take pleasure in sacrifices offered, not with the legal thought of obtaining blessing, but as the witness of the ground on which the nation is blessed (cp. Ezek. 43: 18, 27; Ezek. 45: 15-25).

PSALM 52

The faith of the godly remnant in the presence of the antichrist, exposing his true character, challenging his power, and foretelling his doom, while, for themselves, they trust in the mercy of God, and wait for His deliverance.

(v. 1) The opening verse presents the antichrist-the lawless one-boasting in evil (JND), and in the place of power as a "mighty man." Such an one may have the appearance of carrying all before him for a time; nevertheless, evil will not be allowed to endure, whereas the goodness of God will abide.

(vv. 2-4) There follows a description of this evil man as seen by the godly. His words may, to the unwary, appear fair; but they are devised to work mischief, like a sharp razor that cuts before one is aware. Thus he will be marked by "practising deceit" (JND). Moreover he loves evil rather than good; as the apostle, at a later date, foretells that antichrist will be opposed to "all that is called God." Further, he loves "lying rather than to speak righteousness;" as again the apostle says he will be marked by "all deceivableness of unrighteousness." Moreover his words are "devouring words" that overcome with a "strong delusion" those that come under his sway (cp. 2 Thess. 2: 3-12).

(v. 5) The psalmist foretells the overwhelming and final judgment of this wicked man, who will be rooted up out of the land of the living (cp. 2 Thess. 2: 8; Rev. 19: 20).

(vv. 6-7) The judgment of this lawless one is followed by the exultation of the righteous at the overthrow of one who opposed God, and trusted in the abundance of his riches.

(vv. 8-9) In contrast to the wicked, the godly, instead of being rooted up from his dwelling place (v. 5), will flourish "like a green olive tree in the house of God." Such will "trust" in the mercy of God for ever and ever; will "praise" God for ever, because of what He has done; and will "wait" upon all that God is, as expressed by His Name. Thus to "trust," and to "praise," and to "wait," is the good which is before God's saints.

PSALM 53

The condition of the world as led by antichrist-man throwing off all recognition of God.

(v. 1) The antichrist of the last day, in whom "the fool" will have the most extreme expression, will deny God, opposing, exalting himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped (2 Thess. 2: 4). He will gather round him followers marked by corruption and abominable deeds. As ever, the folly of denying God lets loose the filthiness of fallen man. Infidelity and immorality are close companions; "No God" in the heart leads to "no good" in the life.

(vv. 2-3) Nevertheless, the God that men deny is patiently regarding man. God does not judge hastily. He looks upon men, and searches to find any that have understanding and seek after Him. As the result of God's search there is not one that can be found that doeth good. Apart from the grace of God the whole human race is found to be corrupt.

(vv. 4-5) There are those, however, in whom God has wrought: those of whom God can speak as "my people." The wicked who deny God, devour His people without any fear of God (cp. Jer. 10: 25; Lam. 2: 16).

Those in great fear would seem to indicate the ungodly nation of the Jews, associated with antichrist (Isa. 33: 14). They fear as they see the armies encamped against Zion. There will be no ground for fear; for God will destroy the opposing enemy, putting to shame and despising those who had despised God.

(v. 6) The longing of the godly that the salvation of Israel, which faith foresees, had already come. Then, when God reigns out of Zion as a centre, Israel will be regathered with joy and gladness.

PSALM 54

The prayer of the godly remnant of the Jews that they may be delivered "by the Name of God"-that is in accord with all that God is revealed to be.

(vv. 1-3) The opening portion of the psalm is the prayer of a godly man who pleads the "Name" and the "strength" of God. The psalmist pleads that God, in accord with the revelation of Himself, would act in power to grant justice to His people.

Having pleaded his dependence upon God, he spreads out his trial before God. He is oppressed by strangers, those who are enemies outside the nation; and oppressors-the enemies amongst the people of God. In contrast to the godly they have not set God before them. Having no fear of God they are not dependent upon God.

(vv. 4-7) The second portion of the psalm anticipates the answer to the prayer. The psalmist is confident that God will answer his prayer; for God is his helper, and, though others seek after his soul (v. 3), God is the upholder of his soul. The Lord is with them that uphold his soul, but will requite evil unto the enemies of His people, and cut them off in accord with the demands of truth.

Delivered from his enemies, the godly man will, with a willing heart, bring his sacrifice to Jehovah. His sacrifice would no more be the carrying out of legal obligation, or mere compliance with an outward form, but would be the expression of a grateful heart that recognizes how good is the Name of Jehovah. The psalmist can say that God has answered his prayer, and has acted according to His Name in delivering him out of all trouble, and giving him to see the overthrow of his enemies.

PSALM 55

The prayer of a godly man, expressing the exercises of the believing remnant of the Jewish nation, when antichrist apostatizes from God, breaks the covenant, and persecutes the godly.

(vv. 1-3) The psalm opens by presenting the supplication of the godly man, and the cause of his sorrow-the voice of the enemy, and the oppression of the wicked. The voice of the wicked is raised in slander against the godly man; for he can say, "They cast iniquity upon me." As ever, slander is followed by persecution, "In anger they persecute me" (JND).

(vv. 4-8) The verses that follow present the misery of the godly remnant in Jerusalem, during the reign of antichrist. Within, the heart of the godly man is sore distressed; without he is faced with death. He longs to flee from the defiled city to some lonely spot where he may escape the storm and tempest of judgment about to break over the doomed city (see Matt. 24: 15-22).

(vv. 9-11) There follows a vivid description of the city of Jerusalem during the days of antichrist. The walls, that should have protected the city from every attack, are marked by violence and strife. Iniquity and mischief are in the midst of it, and the streets are marked by oppression and deceit. From the centre to the walls all is corruption and violence.

(vv. 12-15) There follows, what would appear to be a description of the apostate character of antichrist. He had professed to be amongst the godly, as an intimate and familiar friend. He had gone to the house of God in company with the people of God. Now he had turned against the godly, heaping reproaches upon them, and venting his hatred against them, while seeking to "magnify himself" (cp. Dan. 11: 37-38).

For this wicked man, and those associated with him, the psalmist predicts a sudden and overwhelming judgment (Rev. 19: 20).

(vv. 16-21) In contrast with the wicked, who are marked by violence and strife, day and night (v. 10), the godly man will call upon the Lord, "evening and morning and at noon." He is conscious that God will hear and deliver his soul, and afflict those who refuse to repent and own God (Rev. 16: 9). Moreover the wicked, not only refuses to glorify God, but he puts forth his hand against the godly and breaks the covenant with them, in spite of all the smooth words he had uttered (Dan. 11: 31; Dan. 12: 11; Matt. 24: 15).

(vv. 22-23) The psalmist closes with a beautiful expression of confidence in Jehovah. Let the godly in their distress cast their burdens upon the unchanging One who will never break His covenant with His people, nor suffer the righteous to be moved, whatever the sorrows they may have to pass through. In contrast to the godly, the violent and deceitful man, who has exalted himself, will be brought down to destruction. Well may the godly conclude by saying, "I will trust in thee."

PSALM 56

The confidence of the righteous in God and in His Word, in spite of adverse circumstances that put faith to the test.

(vv. 1-3) Surrounded by enemies that daily oppose, oppress, and seek his life, the godly man finds relief from his fears by turning to God and trusting in Him.

(v. 4) Moreover the soul trusts in God to fulfill His Word, and therefore is lifted above his fears and cannot only say, "What time I am afraid I will trust in Thee," but, rising to a higher plane, can add, "In God I have put my trust; I will not fear." With God and His Word before the soul, he triumphantly asks, "What can flesh do unto me?" (JND).

(vv. 5-9) In greater detail the psalmist spreads out his trial before God, contrasting the wickedness of those who are against him with the goodness of the God who is for him. Every day the enemy perverts the words of the godly: with evil intent they consult together and secretly watch his steps, seeking to take his life.

In the consciousness that iniquity cannot go unpunished, the soul looks to God to cast down all those who oppose His people.

In contrast to the treatment at the hands of the wicked, God counts every step that His people have to take, keeps a bottle for their tears, and a book wherein to record their sorrows. In the consciousness of God's tender care the soul can look for deliverance from his enemies and say with triumphant assurance, "God is for me."

(vv. 10-11). Thus again the psalmist can confidently affirm that he can praise God's Word, as that in which the faithfulness of God will be proved; and putting his trust in God's Word, he will not be afraid what man can do unto him.

(vv. 12-13) The psalmist is ready to fulfill his sacrifice of praise. Man had sought his life, but God had delivered his soul from death. Men seek to trip him up in his steps (v. 6); but God keeps his feet from falling. If God keeps his feet, it is that he may walk "before God in the light of the living"-that he may live to God in the light of God.

PSALM 57

The confidence of the soul in God as a refuge, until all evils are past, the soul delivered, God exalted, and His glory displayed in all the earth.

(v. 1) In the midst of the calamities that meet the godly man on every side, he trusts in the mercy of God, and finds his refuge and home in the tender loving care of God set forth, in figure, by "the shadow of thy wings."

(vv. 2-3) His cry is unto God the Most High, conscious that God will undertake for him in all things. God will send from the heavens and save the godly man, while covering with reproach those that seek his life (JND). God will send forth His mercy to deliver the godly; His truth to deal with the wicked. His judgment will be according to truth.

(vv. 4-5) In the meanwhile, as to actual circumstances, the godly man is among lions that breathe out destruction, even the sons of men who gnash upon him with rage and malice. Having God for his refuge, and in the consciousness that God will perform all things for him, the psalmist can look beyond the violence of men to the time when God will be exalted above the heavens, and His glory shine over all the earth.

(v. 6) The wicked may indeed have prepared a net to entangle the steps of the godly man, and a pit to encompass his fall; but, in the retributive ways of God, they will be taken in their own craftiness.

(vv. 7-11) Though faced with calamities, surrounded by violent men, with pitfalls at every step, the heart of the believer remains fixed and steadfast in the consciousness that God is His refuge, and will perform all things for His own glory and the salvation of His people. Therefore the psalmist breaks into praise; and his singing anticipates a new day for the world; it will "wake the dawn" (JND). With the dawn of this new day, the praise of God will spread "among the peoples" and "the nations." Heaven and earth will join in witnessing to the truth of God. Thus God will be exalted, and His glory shine over all the earth.

PSALM 58

The believing remnant of the Jewish nation look to God to establish His government over the earth by the judgment of the wicked.

(vv. 1-5) The first portion of the psalm describes the condition of the world immediately preceding the judgment of the living nations. It will be evident that the government of the earth in man's hands has entirely failed. The sons of men no longer speak nor act righteously (JND).

As in the days that preceded the judgment of the flood, men were corrupt, and filled with violence in their ways (Gen. 6: 11); so, before the judgment falls upon the present world it will again be manifest that their hearts are utterly corrupt, and their hands filled with violence. It will be seen that not only are men estranged from God by nature, but by their habitual practice-speaking lies, and spreading the poison of error. Moreover they are deaf to every appeal of grace, however attractively and wisely that grace is presented. Thus the sons of men seal their doom and prove themselves ripe for judgment.

(vv. 6-8) The psalmist, using a series of figures, appeals to God to execute judgment. Let the wicked be like young lions with teeth broken, and thus bereft of power; like water that runs to waste; like one that shoots with blunted arrows that can do no harm. Let them be as a snail that leaves only a trail of slime, or like a untimely birth, that has no future; or like burning thorns that have scarcely warmed the pot before they are "whirled away" (JND).

(vv. 10-11) The psalm closes by expressing the joy of the righteous as they behold the judgment of the wicked. The righteous will wash their "footsteps" in the blood of the wicked. They reach their blessing through the judgment of their enemies. It will then become manifest that the righteous have their reward, and that "there is a God that judgeth in the earth."

The Christian, blessed with all spiritual blessing in the heavenlies, looks for deliverance from suffering and evil, by being taken out of the scene of evil to be with the Lord, therefore, he does not look for the judgment of his enemies. The godly Jew, whose blessing is on earth, is divinely instructed that the time of blessing for the earth can only be reached through the judgment of evil, therefore he rightly looks for the judgment of his enemies.

PSALM 59

The godly remnant of the Jews appeal to God to judge their external enemies, who, for their own selfish ends, have opposed the nation of Israel. Then will it be known that God rules in Jacob unto the ends of the earth (v. 13).

(vv. 1-5) The psalm opens with the suffering remnant looking to God for deliverance from, and defence against, iniquitous, violent, and mighty enemies that rise up against Israel, even though the nation has committed no wrong against the heathen. They look for the intervention of God in judgment, without mercy, upon those who have shewn no mercy to His people.

(vv. 6-8) Their enemies, like a dog roaming and howling at night, surround the city, breathing out malice against the people of God, without conscience; "For who, say they, doth hear?" Nevertheless, speaking after the manner of men, the Lord will hold such in derision.

(vv. 9-10) Conscious of the enemy's strength, and his own weakness, the righteous man waits upon God as his defence, in the firm conviction that God's loving-kindness will meet him in deliverance from all his enemies (JND).

(vv. 11-13) The psalmist would not have the enemy of Israel slain in a moment by the mighty power of God: he would rather see those who had prolonged the suffering of God's people come themselves to a lingering end, as an example to God's people of retributive justice.

The words of their lips betray the pride of their hearts. Their profanity and deceit call aloud for a judgment that will make manifest that God rules in Jacob unto the ends of the earth.

(vv. 14-17) Anticipating God's judgment, the godly view their enemies as balked of their prey, and howling like a hungry dog wandering up and down at night. But, when the long night of suffering is past, the godly man will sing of God's power and mercy in the morning. For God has been his defence against the enemy and his refuge from the storm in the day of trouble.

PSALM 60

The remnant of the Jews own that God, though He has cast them off for their iniquities, is their only hope-the One who alone can restore and heal the breaches.

(vv. 1-3) Looking beyond all second causes, the remnant acknowledge that God has cast off, and scattered the nation because of His displeasure. They further realize that the One who has scattered is the only One who can restore.

They own that God has made the land to tremble. Now they look to the One that has "broken," to "heal the breaches." God has showed His people "hard things." and made them "drink the wine of bewilderment" (JND). They do not rebel against God's dealings with them; they do not seek to justify themselves; they do not look to themselves or to others to retrieve their position. They look only to God.

(vv. 4-5) The remnant have thus reached a condition of soul in which God can bless them. Therefore they are able to say, "Thou hast given a banner to them that fear Thee." The banner is that which rallies and unites the peoples of God. This rallying centre is found amongst those that fear God. The banner becomes the display of truth, and thus a means of deliverance for God's beloved people.

(vv. 6-8) The psalmist now turns to the promises of God's Word, on which all their hopes rest. "God hath spoken." And what God has said has all the certainty of God's own nature; He has spoken in His holiness. God asserts His title to the whole land, whether on the west side of Jordan, as represented by Shechem; or on the east side, as represented by Succoth. He claims the tribes of Israel as His. Gilead and Manasseh represent His people east of Jordan; Ephraim and Judah represent them on the west side. One is the most important tribe in the north as the other is the leading tribe in the south. Thus every quarter of the land is claimed by God. Politically these two tribes have a leading place; Ephraim being the warrior tribe (Deut. 33: 17), and Judah the leading tribe in government (Gen. 49: 10).

Finally God will utterly subjugate the ancient enemies of His people. Moab will be reduced to a state of ignominious bondage, likened to a slave who washes the feet of his owner. Edom is likened to a slave to whom the master cast a worn-out shoe. Philistia, who so often had triumphed over God's people, is now called to "shout" or "cry" out because of the triumph of God (JND).

(vv. 9-12) The soul, strengthened by the promises of God, looks to God to lead to victory. The question is raised, "Who will bring me into the strong city?" of which the rock city of Edom was a formidable example. His confidence in God at once supplies the answer. The very God who had cast them off because of their transgressions is the One alone through whom their help will come; for vain is the help of man. Through God will they do valiantly, for they say, "He it is that shall tread down our enemies."

PSALM 61

The cry of an outcast whose spirit, though overwhelmed, looks to God as his rock, to save from the floods by which he is surrounded.

(vv. 1-2) The psalmist cries to God from the end of the earth (or "land"). Thus the enemy is in possession of the sanctuary, while the godly man is driven out. Though overwhelmed with distress, the soul sees there is a rock that rises above the floods. In spite of his distress, he is confident that God will lead him to this place of security, for he can say, "Thou wilt lead me on to a rock" (JND).

(v. 3) His confidence in God is the result of his experience of God; for he says, "Thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy." He has found in God a shelter from the storm, and a defence against those opposed to him

(v. 4) With God before his soul, he is lifted above the overwhelming floods, and can look on with confidence to a bright future when he will dwell in the presence of God for ever. Until then he will trust in the protecting care of God-the covert of His wings.

(vv. 5-8) Conscious of being heard, he has the assurance that he will inherit the portion of those who fear God's name; though at the moment he may be at "the end of the earth." The ground of his confidence is that Christ-the King-had passed through the circumstances of the godly, and His years had been prolonged, so that He is "before God for ever." If the King abides before God for ever (v. 7), then those who are subject to the King "abide...for ever." (v. 4) The one that abides for ever will sing praises to God for ever.

PSALM 62

The confidence that looks to God alone and rests in Him, waiting for His deliverance.

(vv. 1-2) In the last psalm, the godly man, though looking to God, is nevertheless overwhelmed in spirit. Here, looking only to God, he is revived in spirit. He can say, "Upon God alone doth my soul rest peacefully" (JND). In the last psalm he looks with confidence to be led to the rock; here he has reached the rock, and thus can say of God, "He only is my rock." Resting upon the rock, he can say, "I shall not be greatly moved."

(vv. 3-4) The psalmist, turning to his enemies, deprecates their secret attacks upon one who is in weakness, like "a bowing wall, or a tottering fence" (JND). Outwardly they may pretend to favour the godly; inwardly they curse such, and secretly plot to cast him down. This was indeed a character of suffering that the Lord had to meet in full measure.

(vv. 5-8) The plottings of the wicked cannot, however, move the godly man from his confidence in God. He does not seek to defend himself, He does not look to man for help. He says, "O my soul, rest peacefully; for my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation" (JND). Thus looking to God he has the assurance that he will not be moved; further he realizes that God is not only his salvation, but his glory. In due time God will exalt the one whom man treats as a "bowing wall or a tottering fence."

Thus, from his experience of God, he can exhort others to confide in God at all times. Whatever the circumstances, confide in God: whatever the difficulty, "pour out your heart before him" (cp. Phil. 4: 6).

(vv. 9-12) Having exhorted to trust in God, the psalmist warns against putting confidence in man, high or low. Alas! man is corrupt, a lie; or violent, they oppress and rob; or covetous, they set their heart upon money. But let the godly be warned against trusting in social position, corrupt schemes, human power, and earthly riches. God hath said, more than once, that power and loving-kindness belong to God, and He will render to every man according to his work. How good then for the godly soul to trust alone in God, to wait patiently for Him, neither seeking to exalt himself, nor attack his enemies. Men may have a measure of power, but without mercy; or they may show mercy without righteousness. Power belongs unto God; but with power God has mercy, and with mercy He maintains righteousness, for He renders to every man according to his works.

PSALM 63

The confidence of a godly soul that longs after God in a dry and thirsty land-a scene where there is nothing to minister to the soul.

Psalm 61 is the cry of an overwhelmed soul; Psalm 62, the cry of a waiting soul: Psalm 63, the cry of the longing soul.

(vv. 1-2) The psalm opens by expressing the longing of the heart for God, by a god-fearing Jew, cast out of the land, and far from the sanctuary. Both soul and body-the whole man-longs for God, while yet in a desert scene where there is no water-nothing to refresh the soul.

The longing of the soul is according to the knowledge of God formed in the sanctuary. There, in God's own dwelling, God is displayed in His power and glory.

(vv. 3-7) The psalmist proceeds to give a two-fold reason for his delight in God. First, because he has found that God's loving-kindness is better than life. Joy in God is better than the joys of this earthly life; therefore, says the psalmist, "will I bless thee while I live." Rejoicing in God, he finds his soul satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and his lips filled with praise; even though he is as yet in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is. Moreover, in the silent watches of the night, when all nature excitement is hushed and the soul is alone, he will meditate upon God.

The psalmist gives as a second reason for his delight in God the help that he has found in God in all his sorrows, leading him to rejoice in the protection of God.

(vv. 8-10) The practical result of this delight in God is then described. The soul follows hard after God, and is upheld by His mighty power. If God is thus for him, who can be against him? Therefore he can with confidence say of his enemies that they will fall under the sword of judgment, and be left on the battlefield as a prey to jackals.

(v. 11) The destruction of his enemies will lead to the display of the King in His victory, rejoicing in God. All that trust in the King shall glory; while those who have sought to prevail by lies will be confounded.

This God-fearing man longs to see the display of God's power on the earth (v. 2). In verses 8 to 10 he anticipates the power of God in supporting His own, and in dealing with all who oppose His people; in verse 11, he anticipates the glory, when the judgment of the wicked will be followed by the reign of Christ as King.

PSALM 64

The description of the wicked and their devices; the retributive judgment that will overtake them, leading to the fear of God, and the joy of the righteous in the Lord.

The psalm looks on to a future day when the evil of the world will come to a head, and be publicly dealt with by the judgment of God, leading all men to fear God.

(v. 1) The psalm opens with the prayer of the godly man to be preserved, not only from the enemy, but from the fear of the enemy.

(vv. 2-6) The psalmist spreads out before God the evil devices of the enemy, realizing that the wicked are taking secret counsel against him. Moreover, moved by the secret counsels of the wicked leaders, the "tumultuous crowd" (JND) is hounded on to execute these secret plans. The crowd is urged on by sharp and bitter words against all that is of God; like a flight of arrows shot at venture. Slanderous charges are made without scruple or remorse. The wicked encourage one another in evil. Not only do they shoot the secret arrow of slander, but they lay snares to entrap the godly. They speak with fair words, and affect pious motives in order to obtain their evil ends. In their self-confidence they think that none will see the evil plans that, with deep duplicity, they have diligently devised.

(vv. 7-8) Nevertheless, acting without fear (v. 4), and thinking that none can see their snares, they forget God to whom all is open, and who can read "the inward thought of every one of them," however deeply hidden in the heart. The God to whom all is known, will bring upon them retributive judgment. The arrow they had used against others, will strike them; the bitter words used against others will fall upon themselves.

(vv. 9-10) The judgment of the wicked will lead all men to fear God, and consider His works. The righteous will be glad in the Lord, trust in the Lord, and exult at the overthrow of the wicked.

PSALM 65

The godly remnant look on with joyful confidence to God's intervention in answer to their prayers, when Zion will become a centre of praise and prayer for the whole earth; when government will be established, war will cease, and the earth brought into blessing.

(vv. 1-2) The psalmist, in his meditation before God, looking beyond his present circumstances, recognizes that Zion will be the centre of praise for the whole earth. Not only Israel, but "all flesh" will come to Zion for praise and prayer. Nevertheless the time for universal praise is not yet come; "Praise waiteth for thee in silence, O God, in Zion" (JND).

(vv. 3-4) The godly confess the cause of the silence in Zion. Their iniquities have prevailed against them. Nevertheless there is the confidence that God will purge them away, in the consciousness that the godly are the objects of sovereign grace. This leads the psalmist to describe the blessedness of the man whom God has chosen. Such He causes to approach Himself; and the one who draws near to God will be satisfied with the goodness of God's house.

(vv. 5-8) The godly anticipate the judgment of the wicked, and their own deliverance, in answer to their prayers. The intervention of God will involve "terrible things in righteousness" for the nations, but salvation for His earthly people. Government will be established by the power of God; "His strength setteth fast the mountains;" and peace will result, the turmoil of the nations will be stilled. The "tokens," or signs, of God's intervention will be universally acknowledged with fear.

No longer will men fear the future, dreading what each day may bring forth; "the outgoings of the morning and the evening" will rejoice.

(vv. 9-13) The closing verses present a beautiful picture of the millennial blessing of the earth, when all evil has been dealt with in judgment. The curse removed, or held in check, God will visit the earth in blessing. He will give the corn, and prepare the land to yield its increase, and command the seasons to pursue their course. The wilderness will become pastures for the flocks; the valleys covered with fields of corn; and over all will rise the song of praise and joy.

PSALM 66

All the earth called to submit to God and give honour to His Name, in the presence of the display of His mighty power in dealing with the enemies of Israel, and of His governmental ways with the godly remnant and of the nation.

(vv. 1-4) All lands are called to give honour to God, whose terrible works have been displayed in dealing with the enemies of His people Israel. It will be publicly manifest that those who have exalted themselves in rebellion against God will be forced to submit when God puts forth the greatness of His power in judgment. The result will be that all the earth will bow before God and praise His Name.

(vv. 5-7) The nations are called to contemplate the governmental ways of God with the children of men as set forth in the history of Israel, from the time that He brought them through the Red Sea, until their final deliverance from all their enemies. Thus it becomes manifest that God is omnipotent-ruling "by his power for ever;" and omniscient, "his eyes behold the nations." Therefore, "let not the rebellious exalt themselves."

(vv. 8-12) The godly in Israel testify to God's ways with them. Through all their trials God preserved their souls in life; and in all their wanderings God had kept their feet. Nevertheless they had been led by a painful way. They had been tried in the furnace of affliction, as silver is tried to remove the dross. They had fallen into the hands of the enemy, like an animal caught in the toils of the hunter. They had been in servitude to their enemies, like a beast of burden on whose loins a heavy load is laid. They had been triumphed over, like one who is cast down and trampled under foot by a savage enemy. They had gone through fiery persecution and faced the waters of death.

They recognized that in all their long history of trial and suffering, God had been dealing with them according to His own holiness, and for their blessing. Thus, looking beyond the wickedness of men they take their trials from God. They say, "Thou" hast done these things. Further they recognize that if God passes His people through trial, it is for their ultimate blessing; therefore they can add, "Thou hast brought us out into abundance" (JND).

(vv. 13-15) The trials they have passed through fit the godly to draw near to God as worshippers. Thus the psalmist, speaking personally for himself, says, "I will go into thy house with burnt offerings." Set free from his enemies he will bring the offerings that he had vowed in the days of trial.

(vv. 16-20) Not only is the godly man at last set free to worship before God, but he can bear witness before men of what God has done for his soul. In his trial he had cried to God and praised God, He had not regarded iniquity in his heart with pleasure, or allowed it to pass unjudged. God had heard and answered his prayer, and turned his prayer into praise.

PSALM 67

The godly remnant look to God for blessing, that through restored Israel the knowledge of God may be spread throughout the nations, and all the earth be led to fear God.

(vv. 1-2) The godly desire God's mercy, blessing, and favour to be manifested in the restoration of Israel, that there may be a witness to all the nations of God's way of blessing and salvation.

(vv. 3-4) The psalmist, anticipating the result that will flow from this witness of God's salvation, predicts the millennial blessing of the earth. Praise will flow to God from nations once in rebellion against God. In place of the sorrow and misery that arises from man's self-will, there will be joy and gladness in a world that is ruled in equity, and subject to the guidance of God.

(vv. 5-6) The nations having been brought into subjection to God, the earth will yield her increase. The curse will be removed, and the earth will bring forth its fruits in their fullness, for the praise of God and the blessing of man.

(v. 7) The psalmist closes with again asserting that the blessing of repentant Israel will lead all the ends of the earth to fear God.

PSALM 68

God made known in all the kingdoms of the earth, through the display of His goodness throughout the history of Israel.

(vv. 1-3) The psalm opens with presenting God as taking His place at the head of His people; scattering His enemies; the wicked perishing at His presence; while the righteous rejoice before God. It commences with the formulas used by Moses, when the camp of Israel moved forward on its journeys through the wilderness (Num. 10: 35).

(vv. 4-6) Then, very beautifully, there is set forth the character of the One who leads His people. He acts as a loving Father, and a righteous Judge. The destitute, the oppressed, the lonely, and the captive are the objects of His care; but the rebellious are left to reap the result of their own folly-they perish in the wilderness.

(vv. 7-14) The history of Israel is recapitulated to set forth, not their failure, but God's goodness.

God led His people through the wilderness and manifested His presence at Sinai (vv. 7-8). He brought His congregation to dwell in the land, and in His goodness provided for His weary people and cared for the poor (vv. 9-10). Giving the word of direction, He led them to victory over all their enemies; so that kings fled, and spoil was secured, in which all had a share (vv. 11-12). Victorious Israel, who once had been lying in wretchedness and poverty, is now displayed in all the beauty that God has put upon her (cp. Ezek. 16: 1-14), while the enemies in the land are scattered (vv. 13-14).

(vv. 15-19) Israel being settled in the land, God is presented as choosing Zion for His dwelling place. The powers of the world, represented by high-peaked mountains (JND), may look enviously upon Zion. Nevertheless, at Zion the Lord has chosen to dwell for ever as the centre of earthly government, waited upon by angelic hosts as the executors of His will.

Moreover, all this goodness to Israel flows from Christ having ascended on high. Doubtless the psalmist but little entered into the deep significance of his own words (1 Peter 1: 11); nevertheless the Spirit of God, as we know from the use of these words in Ephesians 4: 8, had Christ in view. In His place of glory He received gifts for men. In Ephesians the gifts are spoken of in connection with the Church; here in connection with Israel, even though Israel had been rebellious. Thus by His gifts in grace, God secures a people in whose midst He can dwell. In Psalm 22: 2-3, we read of Christ forsaken on the Cross, in order that Jehovah might dwell in the midst of a praising people. In this psalm He ascends on high to secure a praising people. Thus they say, "Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation."

(vv. 20-23) The blessing of His people Israel will involve the destruction of His enemies. The Lord will again bring His people out of the world, here figured by Bashan; while His enemies are left in utter prostration, as carcasses on the field of battle.

(vv. 24-27) All enemies destroyed, the King is welcomed as He takes His place in the sanctuary in the midst of His rejoicing people, who, though long divided, are at last gathered together (Isa. 52: 8).

(vv. 28-31) The King having His rightful place in the midst of His regathered people, they are now strengthened by the whole world being brought into subjection. The kings of the earth will come with their presents, and submit themselves to the King, and stretch out their hands in dependence upon God.

(vv. 32-35) Finally all the kingdoms of the earth are called to praise the Lord, who is over all created things, who is mighty in word and deed, and has displayed His power in His people Israel.

PSALM 69

The personal sufferings of Christ when entering into the distress of the godly in Israel, brought upon them by reason of the sins of the nation, and for which, in the government of God, they are smitten.

The experiences described in the psalm, though applicable to others, are only fully entered into by Christ. Seeing that the experiences can be known in measure by others, it becomes plain why the sufferings stop short of atonement, with the consequent forsaking of God which Christ alone can endure, as set forth in Psalm 22.

Moreover, the sufferings depicted, while known in part during the lifetime of the Lord, yet culminate upon the cross, for there alone could the Lord be said to be smitten of God. But while the smiting of God, as the portion of Israel, is entered into, yet the suffering from the enmity of the guilty Jewish nation is prominent. Such wickedness merits judgment; hence in the psalm there is the call for judgment, rather than looking for the grace that brings blessing to man.

Nevertheless the judgment of the guilty nation prepares the way for the restoration of Israel with which the psalm closes.

(vv. 1-3) The opening verses present the Lord's personal sufferings on the cross. Later in the psalm we hear of the enmity of man that was endured in the path that led to the cross. Here the extreme suffering is first brought before us-that which the Lord endured in His own soul. All that which the godly in Israel felt in measure, He felt fully, as only a perfect Man could. The nation had "no standing" before God; into this position the Lord entered in spirit on the cross. Yet in this position the remnant were waiting for God; and this confidence was perfectly expressed by Christ, who, in the midst of His distress, can say, "I wait for my God."

(v. 4) The hatred of the Jewish nation towards the godly remnant was perfectly felt by the Lord on the cross. His infinite perfection enabled Him to say in an absolute way that they hated Him "without a cause," and those who sought to destroy Him were wrongfully His enemies. Moreover, His enemies were many and were strong. With Him He had to meet, not simply the enmity of an individual, but, at the Cross the hatred of a nation, led by its powerful leaders. Of Him the proverbial expression was true, "I restored that which I took not away." As one has said this "is equivalent to saying, 'I am treated as guilty, though I was innocent'" (cp. Jer. 15: 10).

(v. 5) From the raging of the nations that surround the cross the holy Sufferer turns to God. Israel was suffering under the government of God for sins. Into this suffering the Lord enters. He can appeal to God as knowing the real occasion of His sufferings-the sins of the nation-which He confesses as if they were His own. Here, however, it is the confession of sins, not the judgment of sins that makes atonement as in Psalm 22.

(v. 6) He waits upon God (v. 3); but there are others who wait on the Lord of hosts. For such He looks to God that they may not be put to shame and confusion, through the sufferings of the One to whom they looked for redemption (cp. Luke 24: 19-24).

(vv. 7-12) Now we are permitted to see the sufferings of the Lord in the path that led to the cross. Because of His faithfulness to God He suffered reproach and shame from a world that loved darkness rather than light.

Moreover, in His own country, and in His own house, He was treated as a stranger and an alien (Matt. 13: 54-58).

Furthermore, the zeal of God's house, that led Him on two occasions to cleanse that house, brought Him into reproach with men whose hatred of God was vented upon Christ (John 2: 13-17; Luke 19: 45-48).

If He wept and fasted in soul as He foresaw the misery their sins would bring upon the nation, it was turned to His reproach. Outside their city He wept over the very sinners who, inside the city, were plotting to take His life (Luke 19: 41-48). If the sins of the nation made Him the Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, the very sorrows, symbolized by the sackcloth, became the occasion of men using Him as a proverb to warn others from following in His steps. His public protest against ungodliness drew out the hatred of the leaders-those who sat in the gate; and made Him the subject of ridicule by the abandoned, for He was the song of the drunkard.

(vv. 13-19) The Lord has recounted His sufferings from man. We are now permitted to see that they become the occasion for manifesting the perfection of His confidence in God. There was nothing in Him, as with us, to betray Him into an expression of resentment, or exasperation. The wickedness of men only turns Him to God. "As for me, my prayer is unto thee, O Lord." He turns to God with all the consciousness that He is heard, for He turns to God in an acceptable time. When suffering for sin from the hands of God, we know from Psalm 22, that He cried and was not heard. Here, where the sufferings from the hands of men are in view, His cry is accepted. His confidence in the unbounded mercy, and in the truth of God's saving power, is undimmed by all that He is passing through. He looks to God for deliverance from His distress, from those that hate Him, and from death.

He speaks as One who knows by experience the loving-kindness of the Lord, and the greatness of His tender mercies, and as One who needs these mercies as the servant of Jehovah surrounded by enemies. His consolation is that all is known to God. The One with the loving-kindness and the mercies, is the One who knows His reproach, His shame, His dishonour; His very adversaries are all before God.

(vv. 20-21) Thus he looks to God alone in the day when the reproaches of men had broken His heart. To look elsewhere for comfort were useless, for in this world there were none to take pity. He looked, indeed, for some to take pity, for some to comfort, but He found none. So far from pity and comfort, they only answered His cry with gall and vinegar.

(vv. 22-28) The rejection of the grace of the Savior, and the causeless hatred that nailed Him to the cross, leaves man exposed to judgment, for they have rejected the only One who could shelter from judgment. Thus there follows the call for retributive judgment to fall upon those who had shown themselves to be the causeless enemies of Christ. It is a judgment that overtakes men in this world, though by implication it may indeed lead to eternal judgment. Of this judgment the Lord warned the city of Jerusalem, instructed His disciples, and admonished the daughters of Jerusalem (Luke 19: 42-44; Luke 21: 20-24; Luke 23: 28-31).

The world's earthly prosperity will become its snare; and with the failure of all that men trusted in, the world will be plunged into darkness of mind. Not knowing how to act there will come upon the earth "distress of nations, with perplexity." Their loins will continually shake, "Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth." God's indignation will be poured out upon them, and their habitation will be destroyed. Their house will be left desolate, their city trodden down of the Gentiles.

The judgment that overtakes men is because of the unpitying cruelty which delighted in persecuting One whom God had smitten. In this suffering others have their share. The very grief of those who are wounded in spirit by the sin of the nation becomes the occasion to draw out the persecution of that nation. The rejection of the grace of Christ is the crowning sin that is added to their iniquities. Such can have no part in the righteousness of God that brings salvation, no part in the book of life, nor in the portion of the righteous.

(vv. 29-31) If, however, the sufferings of Christ at the hands of men lead to judgment of the nation, they will also have a glorious answer in the exaltation of Christ. Therefore, though "poor and sorrowful," the Lord can say, "Let thy salvation, O God, set me up on high." With His exaltation there will be praise to God, in which Christ will take the lead, and which will replace the sacrifices of old.

(vv. 32-36) If the Lord leads the praise, the lowly followers of Christ that seek God, will be glad as they see the answer to the cry of the needy, and learn that, though men may persecute, yet the Lord will not despise His captive people.

Further the praise that commences with the exalted Messiah will be taken up by heaven and earth, the seas and everything that moves therein. Zion will be saved, the cities of Judah re-established and re-inhabited, and the children of the servants of Jehovah will inherit the land. They that love His Name shall dwell therein.

Thus we learn that while the suffering of Christ from the guilty nation brings judgment upon the nation, it also leads to the exaltation of Christ. Furthermore the execution of judgment upon the nation prepares the way for the blessing of the godly remnant and the restoration of Israel.

PSALM 70

The experience of the godly remnant in Israel, when suffering from the hands of men in the latter day, expressing the desires of Christ when suffering from the hands of men upon the Cross.

(v. 1) The prayer of one who looks only to God for deliverance from his enemies; but seeks that Jehovah would hasten to his help.

(vv. 2-3) The desire that those who seek his life, who take pleasure in his adversity, that mock at his sufferings, may be confounded and overtaken with retributive judgment (cp. Mark 15: 29).

(vv. 4) The desire that those who fear God, and look for His deliverance may be glad and rejoice in Jehovah. Let those who rejoice in God's salvation say continually, "Let God be magnified." Let them see that the sufferings are submitted to, and deliverance looked for, in order to glorify God (cp. John 12: 27-28; John 13: 31).

(v. 5) In order to magnify God the sufferer is content to be "poor and needy," though assured that God is his "help," and "deliverer." He looks that Jehovah will make no delay in acting for his deliverance (cp. John 13: 32).

PSALM 71

The experience of a godly Israelite; illustrating God's ways with Israel from the commencement of their history until the nation is revived in a day yet to come.

(vv. 1-3) The psalm opens with an expression of confidence in God, and an appeal to God to act in righteousness for deliverance from bondage. The soul finds in God his unfailing resources; in His words, his ground of assurance. If God has given His command that Israel shall be blessed, the believing soul can appeal to God's righteousness to carry out His Word.

(vv. 4-9) The verses that follow recount the goodness of God in the past. The godly man is in the hand of the wicked, unrighteous, and cruel man; but, by reason of God's goodness to him in the past, the Lord GOD is still his hope. From his birth God has been his refuge, and through all the vicissitudes of his long history he had been upheld by God, so that his preservation had become a wonder to many. Now, in the end of his history he looks to God that he may be kept for the praise and honour of God, and not be cast off in the day of his weakness.

How truly these experiences witness to God's ways with Israel. Throughout their long history there had ever been a "remnant according to the election of grace;" the abiding proof that God had not cast off the nation. Their preservation as a nation separate from the Gentiles, in spite of their bondage to the powers of the world by reason of their sins, is a standing wonder to the world.

(vv. 10-13) Nevertheless the godly man finds himself in the midst of enemies that plot against him without fear of consequences, for they say "God hath forsaken him." Thus the Gentiles, in the last days, will persecute the Jewish nation without fear of God. Circumstances will indeed look as if God had forsaken them.

(vv. 14-16) This time of testing will draw out the faith of the godly, who will look to God to make haste to their help, by putting to shame their enemies; result in praise to God increasing yet "more and more", and His righteousness being declared all the day, as that which is beyond reckoning. Thus, when his strength fails (v. 9), the godly man falls back on the strength of the Lord God.

(vv. 17-18) The history of this godly man has been a witness to God's "wondrous works." In his old age he still desires to be a witness to God's strength and power, to generations yet to come. Even so, the history of Israel through long ages, has been a witness to God's wondrous works of righteousness; and in the old age of the nation will witness to the mighty power of God in its deliverance and restoration.

(vv. 19-20) The righteousness of God that would not pass over evil in His people had been witnessed to by the sore trials they had been allowed to pass through. His quickening power would be seen in reviving the nation and bringing them again from the depths of the earth in which for so long they had been buried amidst the nations.

(vv. 21-24) The greatness and glory of restored Israel will surpass the former greatness of the nation. After their sore trials they will be comforted on every side. Set free from their enemies, they will be to the praise of God, the Holy One of Israel, the One who has redeemed them in righteousness, and put to shame all their enemies.

PSALM 72

The millennial reign of Christ; the answer to the sufferings of Christ from the hands of men, presented in Psalm 69; the fulfillment of the desires of Christ expressed in Psalm 70, following the restoration of Israel, foretold in Psalm 71.

(v. 1) The psalm opens with a prayer to God, that the King may be guided by divine righteousness, and thus able to give decisions, or judgments, in accordance with the will of God. It is thus realized that the blessing of the kingdom wholly depends upon a King who carries out God's judgments according to God's righteousness. This King will be found only in Christ-the Son of David, of whom Solomon was but a type.

(vv. 2-11) There follows the presentation of the character of the kingdom that must follow from having a King according to the mind of God. It will be marked by peace as the fruit of righteousness, according to which "the poor." "the needy" and "the "oppressed," will come under the special care of the King.

Moreover, established in righteousness, it will be not a kingdom of peace only, but an enduring kingdom, marked by the fear of God throughout all generations (v. 5).

Further it will be a kingdom of spiritual and material prosperity. The influence of the King upon His kingdom will be like showers that water the earth. In His days the righteous will flourish, and there will be abundance of peace (vv. 6-7).

In extent His kingdom will be universal, from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth (v. 8).

Moreover, if universal in extent, it will be supreme in power. Every enemy will submit to the King, and own their subjection with gifts, by bowing before the King and serving Him (vv. 9-11).

(vv. 12-14) There follows the reason why this glorious kingdom marked by righteousness and peace, endurance, prosperity, universality and supremacy, should be given to Christ. He alone is worthy to receive riches, and honour, and glory, and might; for all these things will He use to deliver the needy and the poor when they cry; to be the Helper of the helpless, and the Redeemer of men from corruption and violence; and in His sight the lives of the poor and the helpless will be precious.

(vv. 15-16) Further we are assured that this King, who secures such blessing for the world, will never be cut off by death, for "he shall live." To Him the riches of the world will be given; for Him prayer will be made that the blessing of His reign may continue; and to Him praise will be offered daily. Thus abundance of blessing will be secured for every portion of the earth-the valleys, the mountains, and the cities (JND).

(v. 17) The glory and blessing of His kingdom will lead to the everlasting fame of His Name; for all will be blessed in Him, and He will be blessed of all.

(vv. 18-20) Lastly the praise of the King will lead to the praise of God. Thus men will say, "Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. And blessed be his glorious name for ever." Thus through the reign of Christ in righteousness, the whole earth will be filled with the glory of God. In the anticipation of this glorious prospect, David can say, "the prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended." What more, indeed, is left for David to pray. It only remains for him to say, with all others, "Amen, and Amen."

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