THE KING IN HIS BEAUTY.
19 He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he
delighted in me.
20 The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness;
According to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me.
21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from
22 For all his judgments were before me, and I did not put away his statutes
23 I was also upright before him, and I kept myself from mine iniquity.
24 Therefore hath the Lord recompensed me according to my righteousness,
According to the cleanness of my hands in his eyesight.
25 With the merciful thou wilt show thyself merciful;
With an upright man thou wilt show thyself upright;
26 With the pure thou wilt show thyself pure;
And with the froward thou wilt show thyself froward.
27 For thou wilt save the afflicted people; but wilt bring down high looks.
28 For thou wilt light my candle: the Lord my God will enlighten my dark
29 For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped
over a wall.
30 As for God, is way his perfect: the word of the Lord is tried;
He is a buckler to all those that trust in him.
31 For who is God save the Lord? or who is a rock save our God?
32 It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.
33 He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and setteth me upon my high places.
34 He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.
35 Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation;
And thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great
36 Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip.
37 I have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them; Neither did I turn again till they were consumed.
38 I have wounded them, that they were not able to rise: they are fallen under
39 For thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle: Thou hast subdued under me those that rose up against me.
40 Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies, That I might destroy them that hate me.
41 They cried, but there was none to save them; even unto the Lord, but he
answered them not.
42 Then did I beat them small as the dust before the wind; I did cast them out as the dirt in the streets.
43 Thou hast delivered me from the strivings of the people; And hast made me the head of the heathen:
A people whom I have not known shall serve me.
44 As soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me: The strangers shall submit themselves unto me.
45 The strangers shall fade away, and be afraid out of their close places.
46 The Lord liveth! and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation
47 It is God that avengeth me, and subdueth the people under me.
48 He delivereth me from mine enemies;
Yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me:
Thou hast delivered me from the violent man.
49 Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O Lord, among the heathen,
And sing praises unto thy name.
50 Great deliverance giveth he to his king; and sheweth mercy to his anointed, To David, and to his seed for evermore.—PSALM XVIII.
The spiritual relief experienced by the soul when implicitly turning to Jehovah for help, can scarcely be expressed in words. In proportion to the greatness of our danger is the sense of mercy dispensed. Yet though the deliverance be equal in all cases, there is not always the same felt suddenness of transition. We need not doubt the genuineness of our conversion, because we have not passed through any particular phase of experience. Other gates lead into the Temple besides that called 'Beautiful.' All pass not through the same process, but all pass from death unto life. Some undergo a 'great fight of afflictions,' or pass through deep waters, while others are led in 'a plain path;' and the transition in their case may be so gradual that it is scarcely possible to fix the exact date of their conversion. What matters it, if only we are really 'born again?' He has various ways, and various purposes to accomplish; and ' manifold grace' is dispensed in Christ. Yet in the results of our experience we all agree. We know that whereas we were blind, now we see. We feel that ' He brought us up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set our feet upon a rock, and established our goings. And he hath put a new song into our mouths, even praise unto our God.' Of all of us is it true (vers. 18, 19),' They rushed forward against me in the day of my calamity,' 'but Jehovah became to me for a staff (Ps. xxiii. 4). 'And He brought me forth to a wide place; He delivered me' (literally, He pulled or drew me out) 'because He had pleasure in me' (or, inclination towards me—the word originally meaning to incline). Here then is sovereign grace as the ground, and sovereign help as the result. Here also the two—His grace and our faith—are combined: 'Jehovah became to me for a staff.' To lean on Jehovah as upon our staff, is to be safe. Most simple is the way of life. It requires neither strength, wisdom, nor goodness of our own; it implies no elaborate prayers; it calls not for the complicated arrangements of men. The soul makes its safety in God. To find this is to be ' brought into a large place,' both so far as our finding of it is concerned, for faith is the gift of God, and so far as its result is concerned.
It almost seems as if in the following verses we heard the 'new song' put into his lips. There is not a tittle of selfrighteousness in vers. 21-25, as nas already been shown. (See Meditation XXIII.) The believer's description of God's mode of dealing lays down an eternal principle: 'Jehovah is rewarding me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands is He returning unto me.' Despite all failings there is inward truth. We may fall, but we cannot fall away; there are weaknesses, but there cannot be apostasy; and Jehovah is not returning unto us because, but according to the cleanness of our hands. This is a true principle: 'Now we know that God heareth not sinners,'—not in the sense of sinful men, but of sin-loving and sin-following men. The look upwards cannot at the same time be a look downwards. To ' wickedly depart from my God' is an impossibility to the new nature, marked in almost every word of its description. The reason of this appears in ver. 22 : 'For all His judgments are before me, and His statutes I let not depart from me.' It is not our but His strength, supplied by constant intercourse with Him and meditation upon His word and His ways. Yet nothing short of such watchfulness will suffice. 'Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.' All would be well if those who so morbidly dwell upon their feelings, to the distress of their souls and the weakening of their spiritual life, would rather break with the past (whatever it may have been), and anew, as if for the first time, rest upon God in Christ. 'Why seek ye the living among the dead?' Nor can it be either right or truthful to efface the essential difference of things by confounding the contest of the flesh and the spirit with the fundamental and wicked apostasy from God which characterizes the heart in a state of nature. Let us also remember that, so far from being incompatible with, the profession of ver. 23 is completed by the confess1on of Ps. li. 3,' My sin is ever before me.' Moreover, the expression is illustrated by ver. 24: 'And I am wholly with God, and I carefully keep myself from mine iniquity.' The entireness of his heart-direction towards the Lord, and of his heart-fellowship with God, is evidenced by his careful watching against all besetting sin. Both are true— perfect in Christ, and perfecting into Christ. Assurance of rest in Christ only makes us the more watchful, and watchfulness breaks not up our assurance. We work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is He who worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Nor does the fact that besetting sin still daily and hourly threatens us afford ground for doubting our interest in Christ, or the genuineness of our conversion, if only we give ourselves wholly to the Lord, and ' watch and pray' lest we 'enter into temptation.' Such earnest, humble aspirations after Himself, awakened and sustained by His grace amid much fear and misgiving as to ourselves, the Lord is pleased graciously to hear (ver. 24, in which, however, we must substitute, as in the original, the particle 'and' for' therefore,' as in our authorized version). All this is, indeed, in accordance with the administration of the covenant of grace. Here the principles so fully explained by our Lord in His Sermon on the Mount, find their application (vers. 25-28). 'With the loving Thou manifestest Thyself loving; with the man who is wholly with Thee, Thou manifestest Thyself as wholly with him.' The word 'loving' refers to that aspect of piety which consists in heart-affection to the Lord, while the form of the verbs here used conveys the idea of manifestation on His part. Thus it is emphatically true, that' whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he seemeth to have.' Again, where the heart is wholly set upon Him, the Lord will graciously hold up our steps, and, if we may venture to use such terms, be sincere, faithful, and entirely with us. 'The secret of Jehovah is with them that fear Him; and He will show them His covenant' For what grace commenceth grace also perfecteth. 'Jehovah will give grace and glory.' 'Moreover, whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified.' The same truth is further unfolded in ver. 26, 'With him who purifieth himself Thou manifestest Thyself as pure, and with the froward' (literally, the tortuous, or tangled; the opposite of straight) 'Thou wilt manifest Thyself as froward ' (the idea suggested by the word being that of inaccessible—meaning literally tied into a knot, or twisted up). In the one case we remember 1 John iii. 3: 'And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.' In the other we are reminded of the awful threatening that He 'will laugh at their calamity,' of the parable of the foolish virgins, and of the historical verification in Rom. i. 38. It needs no other condemnation than that the Lord should leave them to themselves, even as it needeth no other sanctification than that the Lord should manifest Himself as the Sanctifier. And the ultimate principle is that expressed by our Lord: 'Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and the prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.' 'For Thou wilt save' (or, savest) 'the afflicted people' (the poor and needy), 'and lofty eyes Thou wilt bring down' (or bringest down). The gospel to the poor—comfort to Lazarus; his consolation in this world to Dives. These two things are ever contrasted: spiritual poverty, need and afflictedness, and pride or lofty looks. And these two issues also are opposed: free salvation by His grace through the gospel to the one, and eternal abasement to the other. The latter is so frequently denounced (as in Isa. ii. 10, etc.) that we can regard the unconcern of ' the proud' as scarcely less than judicial blindness. Salvation is the gift of God; Christ is 'the consoler;' and grace is the bond which connects to us Him who 'shall wipe away all tears.' Thus it is ' not of works, but of grace,' that the poor and needy are saved, and so meeteth He our longing desires after Himself by giving Himself to us (vers. 26, 27).
Such views and experiences lead to the triumphant song of faith (vers. 28-45). Bursting through the narrow boundaries of the present, the inspired prophet beholds the application of these precious facts of grace not only to himself and his descendants, but in connexion with Jesus Christ, the true 'Son of David.' Speaking in name of the Church of all ages, there is here a sweet commingling of that which in our exalted Head applies to us with what in its full meaning applies only to Him, and that just because it so applies to Him. The 'light' or lamp of Israel was not to be taken away from Jerusalem till the Sun of Righteousness should arise with healing in his wings (1 Kings xi. 36). Nor shall that light ever be quenched to the Church, or to us as members of it, even in the midst of 'darkness' (ver. 28). It is very precious to know that what applies to the Church as a whole also applies to us individually. For 'I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.' 'Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ.' In God (as it should be rendered, ver. 29, 'In Thee') nothing is impossible, whether to our prayers or to our endeavours. Yet is such confidence and exultation so deeply rooted in God that we speedily turn from ourselves to Him (vers. 30, 31). These three things we joyously discover in God. As for His work: 'His way is perfect' (whole, complete, entire). We cannot doubt the future, time without end. Nor are we left even now in uncertainty. For 'the word of Jehovah is refined,' as gold purified from all admixture. Each word of His may be taken literally; turned into subject of prayer, and made object of expectation, which indeed is the best way of reading His Word. Again, the grace of our God is most sure and trustworthy. 'A shield is He to all that trust in Him.' What protection this implies is best inferred from the general terms in which it is conveyed. According to our faith shall it be unto us. It is impossible to conceive any circumstances, temporal or spiritual, past, present, or future, to which this does not apply. There are seasons when we can so vividly realize it as almost to burst forth into the challenge of ver. 31. This not the less, but all the more, when all seems otherwise dark and dangerous. For our strongest are generally our outwardly weakest moments, and God's people have often more intense joy of confidence on the eve than on the evening of battle. Whenever we plainly see that it must be of His grace, and realize that He is our God, we 'stand still and see the salvation of our God.' These are some of the inward joys of the life of faith, with which ' a stranger intermeddleth not.' Never stepped David more joyously forward than when he had doffed the armour of Saul and grasped his own sling and stones. Note also the ring of deep love (as in ver. 1), and of grateful affectionate cleaving to Him, which in every deliverance recognises Him as 'the God who girdeth me with strength, and' (literally) 'shall grant' (or give), 'perfect my way.' Such is He, such has He been, and such will He prove. This record for all ages is left to the Church of a faith much tried by men, and of a faithfulness much tried by grievous backslidings. With such promises, every undertaking becomes easy and truly successful (ver. 32, 33). And once more the song now passes back to its keynote (ver. 36); this time, louder, stronger, and more distinct than ever before in Old Testament times. 'And Thou wilt give me the shield of Thy salvation, and Thy right hand shall hold me up' (support, strengthen me), 'and Thy condescension shall' (literally) 'make me many' (or great). Never before had David seen so clearly into his relation to the covenant of grace. For this spake he of Christ. What is more dimly apprehended in Ps. cxiii. 6, and given as sweet consolation to the Church in Isa. lvii. 15 and lxvi. 2, is here clearly expressed. His condescension to our low and lost estate—when He who was 'in the form of God, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God,' 'made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross'— has made David and makes us great. This mystery of His condescension is infinitely precious to our souls. And having been allowed to 'see Jesus,' the Psalmist speaketh henceforth chiefly of Him; only viewing Him through his own medium, as formerly he had viewed himself through the medium of Christ. Verses 36 to 46 are ihe Davidic view of Christ, the application to Jesus of the history of David, the bright fulfilment of typical events, though still clothed in typical language.
The Psalm closes with a twofold doxology, vers. 46-48, and vers. 49, 50. The one is the expression of Israel's feelings, as more fully brought out in the threefold doxology before the advent of our Lord (Luke i.), and especially in the theocratic utterance of Zacharias the priest: 'Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for He hath visited and redeemed His people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David; as He spoke by the mouth of His holy
prophets, which have been since the world began ; that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant.' The second doxology (vers. 49, 50) applies the redemption to the Gentiles, and is expressly referred to Jesus in Rom. xv. 9. It recalls to us the second part in the hymn of Zacharias (Luke i. 77-80). Thus with a Hallelujah to Jesus, and in believing anticipation of the extension of His kingdom far beyond the boundaries of nationality or of time, closes this review of Jehovah's dealings. It is as if we heard it in Old Testament strains: 'Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word: for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel.'
1. Blessed be God, we know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, though He was rich yet for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich. We know of His 'gentleness;' but has it made us 'great?' There is ever in us a tendency to attempt first getting up to Him, instead of receiving Him as He cometh down to us. Yet all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. And what infinite mercy is it that the Lord condescendeth to us! Behold, we are low and lost, vile and helpless before Thee. Lord, meet Thou us, for we cannot meet Thee. When emptied of all self, we feel that His grace is sufficient for us. We have in Him both justification and sanctification. 'Thou hast also given me the shield of Thy salvation; and Thy right hand hath holden me up.' Thus, coming to Christ as we are—poor, needy, sin-laden—shall we indeed experience that 'the Son of man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.'
2. 'I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me.' My only concern must be that I work as in Him. Faith has what prayer seeks, for the promise is sure and steadfast. There is nothing within the compass of holy willing and doing which we are not allowed to bring before the Lord. Nay, all our anxieties and cares may we open up to Him who 'knoweth our frame.' The absolute confidence of a child appears in coming with all its wants to the Father, nor does this imply a murmuring spirit if the Father should not see fit to grant a request in the particular form in which it is uttered. If He gives not this, He will give something better. And when our trial is such that, humanly speaking, there seems no earthly remedy, He can make a way in the sea and a path in the deep. At any rate, we are not shut up to earthly remedies. Ours is a life of faith, which rests implicitly on His word, when we do not see, and in opposition to what we see. 'Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.' A peculiar blessedness attacheth to such faith, irrespective of anything else, a nearness to God, and a resting on the bosom of Christ, like that of the beloved disciple. No undertaking seems too difficult, if only begun and carried on in God. What we want is more power, more prayer, more faith. 'Lord, increase our faith.'
3. What is the well-spring of my acting and hoping? Let me examine myself; let me review the past. In what relationship do I stand to God and to the covenant of grace? 'With an upright man Thou wilt show Thyself upright; with the pure Thou wilt show Thyself pure.' The great condition of success in any spiritual undertaking is to seek not our own, but His. If really we wish primarily to serve Him and to seek His glory, to sanctify ourselves and to advance His cause, if self is not in any shape our ultimate motive, then do we go forward boldly in His name. But, 'who can understand his errors? cleanse me from secret faults.' But even so, what depth of sympathy and compassion is there in Him towards our weakness and poverty! Who could have ground for desponding, or excuse for idleness, in view of such promises? And yet, Lord, oh for a closer walk with Thee!
Conquer1ng kings their titles take
From the foes they captive make;
Jesus, by a nobler deed,
From the thousands He hath freed;
Yea, none other name is given
Unto mortals under heaven,
Which can make the dead arise,
And exalt them to the skies.
That which Christ so hardly wrought,
That which He so dearly bought,
That salvation,—mortals, say,
Will ye madly throw away?
Rather gladly for that Name
Bear the cross, endure the shame:
Joyfully for Him to die
Is not death, but victory.