Of the Messiah and His Kingdom.
Maschil, a didactic poem, of Ethan, the Ezrahite, a descendant of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, 1 Chron. 2, 6; 1 Kings 4, 31. He belonged to a great family, or guild, of singers, some of whom, at least, seem to have been trained in the schools of prophets. The psalm clearly substantiates the Messianic character of 2 Sam. 7, 12-29.
THE PROMISE MADE TO DAVID. ó V. 1. I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever, the poet immediately launching forth into his subject, the theme of his song, the merciful kindnesses of Jehovah; with my mouth will I make known Thy faithfulness to all generations, since it is this attribute, this manifestation of the divine essence, which causes Him to abide by the promises once made to those who believe in Him. The theme is now set forth somewhat more at length. V. 2. For I have said, Mercy shall be built up forever, firmly founded and erected in a structure which would never be overthrown; Thy faithfulness shalt Thou establish in the very heavens, never to be moved, these two manifestations of the Lord, merciful kindness and faithfulness, grace and truth, being the foundation upon which our salvation rests secure, John 1, 14. The psalmist now quotes the words of the Lord from 2 Sam.1, or Jehovah Himself answers in an antiphonal strophe. V. 3. I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn unto David, My servant, the Lord Himself assuring Him with a solemn oath, v. 4. Thy Seed will I establish forever, namely, in his dynasty, in the rulers out of his line, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah. If this had been spoken of an earthly, temporal rule only, then this prophecy would have fallen to the ground, for in no kingdom of this world is there at the present time any ruler of the house of David. But Christ, who is truly a King, although His kingdom is not of this world, is the Seed of David whose rule will last throughout eternity. It is with reference to this promise that the praise of the psalmist sounds forth again. V. 5. And the heavens shall praise Thy wonders, O Lord, the miracles of love which he performed for the salvation of mankind; Thy faithfulness also, by which He would fulfill, and has fulfilled, His promises, in the congregation of the saints, all the angels rejoicing over the fact that God, in His infinite mercy and kindness, had found a way of delivering fallen mankind from the curse of damnation. Compare the song of the angels, Luke 2, 14. V. 6. For who in the heaven can be compared unto the Lord, in the immeasurable greatness of this miracle of His grace in providing a Savior for mankind? Who among the sons of the mighty, the greatest of His creatures, the mightiest rulers of the earth, can be likened unto the Lord? They cannot stand as His equals, there cannot even be a remote comparison. V. 7. God is greatly to be feared, very awesome, in the assembly of the saints, in the midst of His congregation, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about Him, the very angels trembling with awe in His presence. All believers regard Him, not with the fear of slaves, but with the trusting reverence due Him for the continual revelation of His greatness. V. 8. O Lord God of hosts, the mighty Ruler of the armies of heaven, who is a strong Lord like unto Thee, He alone possessing and wielding omnipotent power, or to Thy faithfulness round about Thee? For it is by virtue of this manifestation of His essence that the believers rely upon His Word with absolute confidence; it surrounds Him on all sides, it is like the rays of the sun shedding their brilliance in all directions. The majesty of Godís omnipotence is now described. V. 9. Thou rulest the raging of the sea, when it tries to rise against His laws in insolent defiance; when the waves thereof arise, Thou stillest them, causing them to sink back in powerless rage. Before this almighty power, moreover, the proud arrogance of men is equally helpless. V. 10. Thou hast broken Rahab in pieces, crushed and wounded mighty Egypt at the time of Israelís deliverance from its slavery, as one that is slain; Thou hast scattered Thine enemies with Thy strong arm. All the enemies of the Lord and of His Church are mortally wounded and overthrown by the strength of His almighty arm. V. 11. The heavens are Thine, under His absolute power and control, the earth also is Thine; as for the world and the fullness thereof, all the creatures which it contains, Thou hast founded them, establishing and maintaining them by the Word of His power. V. 12. The north and the south, the entire expanse of the earth, Thou hast created them; Tabor, on the west side of Jordan, between the Sea of Galilee and the plain of Jezreel, and Hermon, in the extreme northeastern part of Palestine, shall rejoice in Thy name, even the inanimate creation showing its dependence upon Him by shouting for joy in His honor. V. 13. Thou hast a mighty arm, the singer here summarizing his description of Godís majestic power; strong is Thy hand, and high is Thy right hand, the emblem of His irresistible power is exalted. The poet now turns to the manifestation of Godís attributes as they chiefly appear in the work of redemption and in the relation of God to His children on earth. V. 14. Justice, that is, righteousness, and judgment are the habitation of Thy throne, the attributes upon which His kingdom is established; mercy and truth shall go before Thy face. The work of the redemption of the world is a revelation of Godís righteousness and judgment. Because He cannot ignore and condone the sin of mankind, He caused the Messiah to take the burden of all menís iniquity upon Himself, and not only to bear it, but to take it away by a full vicarious expiation. Thus was His righteousness, the foundation of His throne, established. But at the same time the Lord keeps before His face, and manifests continually, His merciful kindness, in giving His only-begotten Son for the salvation of the world, and His faithfulness or truth, in fulfilling the promises made to the patriarchs and all the believers of the Old Testament. V. 15. Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound, all men who receive the Gospel-news of their salvation with a joyful sound of acceptance are truly blessed; they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of Thy countenance, as His grace shines forth upon them and warms them with the blessed assurance of their redemption in the Messiah. V. 16. In Thy name shall they rejoice all the day, they have no righteousness and merit of their own to boast of, but they glory in the manifestation of Godís love and mercy, and in Thy righteousness shall they be exalted, that is, by virtue of the righteousness imputed to them by Jehovah, by means of faith kindled in their hearts. V. 17. For Thou art the glory of their strength, that alone being the basis of their boasting before men, 2 Cor. 12, 9.10; and in Thy favor, by the good pleasure of Jehovah shown them in the Messiah, our horn shall be exalted, they would receive the strength needed for the battle of life, against the forces of Satan and his allies. V. 18. For the Lord is our Defense, and the Holy One of Israel is our King. The confidence of the believers in the ultimate victory of their cause is so great because the Lord is on their side, both as their Shield in warding off the attacks of the enemies and as their peerless, undefiled Leader going on before them to victory.
THE RULE OF THE MESSIAH. ó V. 19. Then Thou spakest in vision to Thy holy one, to His saint and servant, namely, the prophet Nathan, who acted as Godís representative in dealing with David, 2 Sam. 7, and saidst, I have laid help upon one that is mighty, upon a great champion; I have exalted one chosen out of the people, the immediate reference being to David, the son of Jesse, but the implied reference to Davidís Son and Davidís Lord, the Messiah. It is a distinguishing mark of prophecy often to identify events and persons near at hand with those at a far distance according to human understanding. We must always remember that with the Lord there are no reckonings of time, that all events, as far as He is concerned, happen in an everlasting now. V. 20. I have found David, My Servant; with My holy oil have I anointed Him. v. 21. with whom My hand shall be established; Mine arm also shall strengthen Him. The Messiah, anointed with the oil of holiness, with the Holy Ghost, with the fullness of Godís divinity, would be sustained throughout His ministry in His state of humiliation by the almighty power of God communicated to His human nature. V. 22. The enemy shall not exact upon Him, gaining power over Him, nor the son of wickedness afflict Him; although the son of iniquity, Satan, with his host, would attack the Messiah, he would not succeed in humbling Him, in gaining the victory over Him. V. 23. And I will beat down His foes before His face and plague, strike down, them that hate Him; all those who take the part of the arch-enemy of Christ and show lasting signs of hatred against the atonement of the Messiah would share the fate of their champion, of the murderer and liar from the beginning. V. 24. But My faithfulness, in fulfillment of all the promises of old, and My mercy, the merciful kindness by which the redemption of mankind would be effected, shall be with Him; and in My name shall His horn, emblem of aggressive strength, be exalted, as the Father would lay all His enemies at His footstool. V. 25. I will set His hand also in the sea, in the almighty power of the Deity communicated to His human nature, and His right hand in the rivers, imparting to Him the unlimited authority of divine power. Jesus Christ, even in the state of His humiliation, was the almighty God, the Creator and Preserver of the world. V. 26. He shall cry unto Me, the Messiah expressly calling God by this name, Thou art My Father, My God, and the Rock of My salvation, His Father by virtue of His eternal generation out of the essence of God, His God by virtue of His true humanity, and in this capacity also the Rock of His salvation, to whom He addressed Himself again and again in a plea for assistance in His work of expiating the sins of mankind. V. 27. Also I will make Him My First-born, Godís only-begotten Son, Ps. 2, 7, higher than the kings of the earth; for the Messiah, as the almighty Ruler of the universe, is above them all. V. 28. My mercy will I keep for Him forevermore, preserving it for the Messiah as a treasure which He should enjoy in due time, with the completion of His work, and My covenant shall stand fast with Him, firm and unshakable. V. 29. His seed also, His spiritual offspring, those born again by faith in His atonement, will I make to endure forever and His throne as the days of heaven, the kingdom of His mercy and glory lasting through eternity. In the next section the close parallelism between this psalm and 2 Sam. 7, 12-29 is again apparent. V. 30. If His children forsake My Law, if the Messiahís spiritual offspring, those who have once accepted Jesus as their Savior, will then again reject His Word. and walk not in My judgments, in refusing to lead a life in conformity with the rules of sanctification established by Him; v. 31. if they break, profane, My statutes, the precepts of His covenant, and keep not My commandments, the general obligations laid upon all men; v. 32. then will I visit their transgression with the rod, with a severe punishment for their defection, and their iniquity with stripes, His intention being to bring them to a realization of their sins. But this apostasy on the part of some believers will not change the counsel of Godís love. V. 33. Nevertheless My loving-kindness, His merciful favor, will I not utterly take from Him, nor suffer My faithfulness to fail, the truth of His promises concerning the imparting of the blessings to all who believe in the Messiah would stand secure. V. 34. My covenant will I not break, that contained even in the first proclamation of the Gospel in the Garden of Eden and repeated so often since, nor alter the thing that is gone out of My lips, in setting forth before men the salvation in the Messiah. V. 35. Once have I sworn by My holiness, in a solemn oath by the essential purity of His essence, that I will not lie unto David, to whom this great Messianic promise had been given, v. 36. His seed, in the person of the Messiah, shall endure forever, and His throne as the sun before Me, that is, throughout eternity. V. 37. It shall be established forever as the moon and as a faithful witness in heaven, for steadfast testimony. Selah. This is a glorious assurance of the unchangeable nature of Godís covenant with men, that He will never alter His Gospel promises.
LAMENT AND COMFORT. ó V. 38. But Thou hast cast off and abhorred, rejected, Thou hast been wroth with Thine Anointed. The vicarious nature of the Redeemerís work is here stressed. So completely does He become the Substitute of man in the work of atonement that He can say He was rejected of God, that God was wroth with His Messiah. V. 39. Thou hast made void the covenant of Thy Servant, apparently spurning it in His anger; Thou hast profaned His crown by casting it to the ground, He Himself being bowed down to the dust in the extreme misery of His Passion. V. 40. Thou hast broken down all His hedges, the fences which kept the enemies from assailing Him; Thou hast brought His strongholds to ruin, the Proxy of mankind having all His fortifications taken from Him and reduced to ruins, thus giving all His adversaries an opportunity to work their will, as it seemed. V. 41. All that pass by the way spoil Him, He became the butt of the despoilers and detractors; He is a reproach to His neighbors, evidently a reference to the mockery attending the Lordís trials and His crucifixion. V. 42. Thou hast set up the right hand of His adversaries, apparently giving them the power to work their will against the Christ; Thou hast made all His enemies to rejoice, gladdened their hearts at the seeming success of their murderous plans. V. 43. Thou hast also turned the edge of His sword, apparently dulled the weapons with which He was battling, and hast not made Him to stand in the battle; it seemed that He was destined to lose in the tremendous conflict in which He was engaged for the benefit of mankind. V. 44. Thou hast made His glory to cease and cast His throne down to the ground. V. 45. The days of His youth hast Thou shortened, by the tremendous pressure of the burden of menís iniquity; Thou hast covered Him with shame, wrapping Him up in disgrace before men. Selah. Such was the Messiahís condition as He entered upon His great work of the redemption of mankind. The iniquities and the guilt of all men having been laid upon Him, He was held responsible for all, made strictly accountable for the debt which He had agreed to pay. The Messiah Himself is now introduced with a cry of distress. V. 46. How long, Lord? Wilt Thou hide Thyself forever? Shall Thy wrath burn like fire? Note that these words are practically a parallel to the Messiahís unexampled cry of distress and desolation, Ps. 22, 2. When He reached the climax of His suffering, it seemed to the great Sufferer that the Lord had definitely hidden His face from Him, that His anger would never cease from burning; it was the torture of hell which He endured. V. 47. Remember how short My time is; wherefore hast Thou made all men in vain? We have here only disjointed cries: ďRemember - I - what the age? For what - vanity - hast Thou created the sons of man?Ē V. 48. What man is he that liveth and shall not see death? Shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave, from the realm of death? Selah. As the Representative of mankind, the Messiah was condemned to death, He must go down into the land of death, He must suffer even the pangs of eternal death. And yet He clings to His heavenly Father. V. 49. Lord, where are Thy former loving-kindnesses which Thou swarest to David in Thy truth? He places His confidence in the merciful kindnesses of the Lord, as contained in the Lordís faithful promises, sure to come upon Him in whom Jehovah, the heavenly Father, is well pleased. V. 50. Remember, Lord, the reproach of Thy servants, for He was bearing the reproach which should have struck others; how I do bear in My bosom the reproach of all the mighty people, literally, ďall many peoples,Ē as the Substitute of all mankind, v. 51, wherewith Thine enemies have reproached, O Lord, trying to heap disgrace upon Him, wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of Thine Anointed, of the Lordís Messiah. Knowing that the Lord would be His Refuge in spite of all enemies and their mockery and would glorify Him by the pathway of the cross with all its agonies, the Messiah concludes His prayer with a burst of triumph, v. 52. Blessed be the Lord forevermore. Amen, and Amen. That was the end of the Messiahís vicarious work, blessing and honor and glory, of which all believers are partakers, here in time and hereafter in eternity.