Psalm 69:4

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 4. They that hate me. Surprising sin that men should hate the altogether lovely one, truly is it added, without a cause, for reason there was none for this senseless enmity. He neither blasphemed God, nor injured man. As Samuel said: "Whose ox have I taken? or whose ass have I taken? or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed?" Even so might Jesus enquire. Besides, he had not only done us no evil, but he had bestowed countless and priceless benefits. Well might he demand, "For which of these works do ye stone me?" Yet from his cradle to his cross, beginning with Herod and not ending with Judas, he had foes without number; and he justly said, they are more than the hairs of mine head. Both the civilians and the military, laics and clerics, doctors and drunkards, princes and people, set themselves against the Lord's anointed. "This is the heir, let us kill him that the inheritance may be ours," was the unanimous resolve of all the keepers of the Jewish vineyard; while the Gentiles outside the walls of the garden furnished the instruments for his murder, and actually did the deed. The hosts of earth and hell, banded together, made up vast legions of antagonists, none of whom had any just ground for hating him.

They that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty. It was bad that they were many, but worse that they were mighty. All the ecclesiastical and military powers of his country were arrayed against him. The might of the Sanhedrin, the mob, and the Roman legions were combined in one for his utter destruction: "Away with such a fellow from this earth; it is not fit that he should live," was the shout of his ferocious foes. David's adversaries were on the throne when he was hiding in caverns, and our Lord's enemies were the great ones of the earth; while he, of whom the world was not worthy, was reproached of men and despised of the people.

Then I restored that which I took not away. Though innocent, he was treated as guilty. Though David had no share in plots against Saul, yet he was held accountable for them. In reference to our Lord, it may be truly said that he restores what he took not away; for he gives back to the injured honour of God a recompense, and to man his lost happiness, though the insult of the one and the fall of the other were neither of them, in any sense, his doings. Usually, when the ruler sins the people suffer, but here the proverb is reversed -- the sheep go astray, and their wanderings are laid at the Shepherd's door.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 4. Without a cause. In suffering, let not the mind be disturbed; for the injustice which is done to the innocent in his sufferings, is not laid to the charge of the sufferer, but to his who inflicts suffering... It is well known what Tertullian relates of Socrates, when his wife met him after his condemnation, and addresses him with a woman's tears: "Thou art unjustly condemned, Socrates." His reply was, "Wouldst thou have me justly?" Lorinus.

Verse 4. Then I restored that which I took not away. It was the great and blessed work of our Lord Jesus here upon the earth, to restore what he took not away. In handling this:

  1. Show what it is which was taken away, and from whom?
  2. Wherein it appears that Christ took it not away.
  3. How he restored it?
  4. Why he did so?
  5. Use.

  1. What it was which was taken away, and from whom?
    1. There was glory taken from God. Not his essential glory, nor any perfection of his being, for that cannot be taken away; but that glory which shines forth in the moral government of his creatures, and that glory which we are bound to give him.
    2. There was righteousness, holiness, and happiness taken from man also.
      1. There was a loss of righteousness to the guilty sinner;
      2. of holiness to the polluted sinner:
      3. of happiness to the miserable sinner.
  1. Wherein it appears that Christ did not take away
    those things from either.
    1. It is plain, as to God, he never took away any glory from him; for he never did anything dishonourable, or offensive to God. John 8:29 ; Isa 50:5 Lu 1:
    2. It is also clear, as to man, that he took not away any righteousness, holiness, or happiness from him. He was not such a fountain of guilt, pollution, and misery, as the first Adam had been, but the contrary.
  • The Scripture, therefore, speaks of Christ's being cut off, but not for himself, Daniel 9:26 ; 1 Peter 3:18 Isaiah 53:4-5 . 4. The innocency of Christ was conspicuous in his very sufferings. Though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. Acts 13:28 .
  • How did Christ restore those things which he took
    not away? In general, by his active and passive
    obedience.
    1. Christ's doing the will of God in such a manner as he did it, was a greater honour to God than ever had been, or could be done before.
    2. Christ's suffering of the will of God, made a considerable addition to the glory of God, which had been impaired by the sin of man, Hebrews 5:8 ; Joh 17:4 13:
    3. Christ hath provided for the justification of the sinner by the obedience which he fulfilled, Ro 5:
    4. Christ communicates that grace which is necessary for our sanctification also.
    5. Christ hath merited for us a present blessedness in this world.
    6. Jesus Christ hath procured for us a more full and absolute blessedness in the world to come.
  • IV. Why did Jesus Christ make it his work to restore
    what he took not away?
    1. It was a necessary work, a work which must be done, in order to his being a Saviour.
    2. It was a work impossible for any mere creature to do; so that if Christ did not, it could not be done by any person besides him. Timothy Cruso's Sermon.

    Verse 4. Then I restored that which I took not away. Rosenmueller observes, that this seems to be a proverbial sentence, to denote an innocent man unjustly treated. According to the law, if a man stole and killed, or sold an ox, he was to restore five oxen; or a sheep, he was to restore four; and if the ox or sheep was found alive, he was to restore two. Hence, to oblige a man to restore when he had taken nothing, was the greatest injustice. Exodus 22:1-5 . Ainsworth observes, that though it may be taken for all unjust criminations, whereof David and Christ were innocent, yet in special, it was verified in Christ, who, "being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God," Philippians 2:6 ; notwithstanding, for witnessing himself to be the Son of God, he was put to death by the Jews. John 19:7 . Benjamin Boothroyd.

    Verse 4. I restored that which I took not away. The devil took away by arrogating in heaven what was not his, when he boasted that he was like the Most High, and for this he pays a righteous penalty... Adam also took away what was not his own, when, by the enticement of the devil, "You will be as gods," he sought after a likeness to God, by yielding to the deception of the woman. But the Lord Jesus thought it not robbery to be equal with God... And yet his enemies said, "Let him be crucified, for he hath made himself the Son of God." Gerhohus.

    Verse 4. I restored that which I took not away. What a blessed verse is here! Amidst all the opposition and contradiction of sinners against himself, Jesus manifested that character, by which Jehovah had pointed him out to the church by the prophet; "Thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, the repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in." Isaiah 58:12 . But what was it Christ restored? Nay, all that was lost. Adam by sin had done all that he could to take away God's glory, and with it his own glory and happiness. He had robbed God of his glory, God's law of its due, himself of God's image, and of God's favour. Sin had brought in death, spiritual and eternal; and he and all his descendants stood tremblingly exposed to everlasting misery. All these and more Jesus restored. As man's Surety and man's Representative, and called to it by the authority of Jehovah, the Lord Christ restored to God his glory, and to man God's image of favour; and having destroyed sin, death, hell, and the grave, he restored to his redeemed a better paradise than our nature had lost! Hail, oh, thou blessed Restorer of all our long lost privileges. Robert Hawker.

     

    HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

    Verse 4. Jesus as the Restorer, the Christian imitating him in the same office; Christianity a power which will do this for the whole race in due season.