This lovely Psalm contains some of the outlines of the Church's history: and if we consider, as we have full authority, that the events of the old Church were but types of the new, we shall find much of the gospel in it, and sweet instruction may be derived from it.
If the Reader wishes to see the history of the Church at the period to which this Psalm refers, he may consult 1Ch 16 where he will find it. David is said to have delivered this Psalm to Asaph for the use of the Temple-service. The occasion was the bringing up the ark from the house of Obed-edom. And as this ark was a well-known type of Christ, every child of God may, and indeed ought to take this sweet hymn, as given to the old church by the Holy Ghost, for the use of Old Testament saints, by faith in Christ, and sing it in his daily song, with melody of heart, unto the Lord. Reader! What say you to this daily service? Can you sing of redemption? Can you sing of Jesus? Can you give thanks to the Lord in deed and in truth, and make known abroad his deeds of salvation to your soul? These are grand questions; and they imply blessed truths, when the believing soul can answer them in the affirmative. Psalms 40:2-3.
The Psalmist, to awaken in his own heart a proper sense of God's goodness, and to stir up suitable and corresponding affections in himself and the Church towards the Lord, for such love, in these verses leads back the subject of meditation as far as the first call of God to Abraham; and in a beautiful, though brief manner, carries it on from that period to the patriarchs being led down into Egypt. Remember these things, saith he, ye that are the seed of Abraham, and mark down in these memorandums the loving-kindness and covenant faithfulness of God. Reader! do not forget what Paul saith to the church concerning Abraham's seed: it is blessed to know this, and to live in the enjoyment of it; Galatians 3:29. But at the same time do not also fail to connect with this view of the Church's history the gospel history in it. This everlasting covenant of God the Holy Ghost, by the mouth of Zacharias, in the temple, it is expressly said, was confirmed in Christ. Nay, it was to perform the mercy promised, and to remember his holy covenant, for which Christ came. Luke 1:72. And hence, as the Church thus began from small and inconsiderable beginnings, when the Patriarchs were but a few of them, and they strangers upon earth; so now, the day of small things is the same: the redeemed are frequently unknown, unnoticed; disregarded, and passed by of men. And though the Lord still protects his anointed, and hides them from the malice of the world, yet are they the same as ever, pilgrims and sojourners here below, looking for a city that hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God; Hebrews 11:10. Reader! you and I shall do well, as we read these things, to inquire under these particulars, as in the former, whether we bear such a correspondence of character?
The Reader will hardly need information as to what part of the Church's history this refers. Everyone who is in the daily habit of reading his Bible, will recollect it. When the Lord determined to carry down the patriarchs into Egypt, by his providence, he induced a necessity for their going thither by making a famine of bread. And that his people might find every needful supply for them, Joseph was sent before. The exercises of the patriarchs, before the great events of blessings to be accomplished by their going down into Egypt were wrought, were trying: Jacob's distress, and Joseph's prison, must previously take place. But at length the ways of God's love and care over them became unfolded; and the patriarchs are, blessed with plenty, and Joseph is made Governor over the whole land. And who doth not see in all this Jesus and his Church most beautifully and amply set forth? When a famine is induced in the soul of God's chosen; not a famine of bread only, but of the word of the Lord, and the bread of God, which cometh down from heaven; necessity constrains the church to seek relief. Without Christ the soul perisheth forever. And how is Christ given? God our Father sends a man before us, even Jesus, our spiritual Joseph; and He, like the son of Jacob, is sold as a servant: the iron entered into his soul. But when, from the prison, and from the cross, Jesus hath wrought out deliverance for his people, and God hath highly exalted him at the right hand of his power, then is the Church made glad; bread and life are dispensed, and in her glorious Head salvation is sung by the Church forever. Oh! what unnumbered mercies were folded up in this part of the Church's history, when Israel at length came into Egypt, and God formed his Church there into a people! Amos 8:11; Genesis 15:13-16; Gen_46:1-4. Reader! at every pause in this interesting subject, ask your heart, what part you bear in it? Have you known what a famine of soul means? Hath it constrained you to seek for a supply? Have you heard that there is corn in Egypt; and, like the patriarchs, have you sent to inquire of the Man, the Lord or the country, for relief? Do you indeed know this Joseph, this Lord Jesus Christ? And do you know him, that he is indeed your brother? Hath Jesus made himself known unto you, and hath he filled your heart with his love, as Joseph filled his brethren's sacks with corn? Oh! for grace to know these things, and to take part in all that concerns Christ and his people!
Reader! what a beautiful explanation is given here, by the Holy Ghost, to the Church's history, during her being in Egypt, concerning the rigorous treatment of Israel by the Egyptians. The Lord turned the heart of the Egyptians to be thus unkind to Israel. And wherefore? that Israel might long, to leave Egypt; that Israel might form no alliance with Egypt; and that Israel might leave all for God: Sweet lesson to my soul! Doth the world hate me? Am I at any time unkindly dealt with by the world? Oh! precious Jesus! let me see thine hand in the appointment. They are but second causes, merely instruments, in all. Yes! yes! dear Lord, when I think of this, and read this blessed scripture, plainly do I perceive that they are but the sword; but it is thy hand that guides it. And is it not, oh! thou wise and loving Saviour, to do by me as by thy Israel, that I may long to leave the world, form no alliance with the world, but come out from among them, and cleave wholly to thee? And if by these means, however painful they may be to flesh and blood, Jesus can have, and keep my whole heart: oh! how blessed thus to hedge up my way with thorns. Hosea 2:6-7; 2 Corinthians 4:17-18; Revelation 18:4.
It would swell this Commentary to a prodigious length, to go over the history, and the explanation of the events here recorded. I rather refer the Reader to the Bible, Ex 7 to Ex 10. But while I beg the Reader to look back, and compare that scripture with this, I must not omit the opportunity here afforded to point to the spiritual illustration of the events themselves. Moses was but a type of Christ in all his commission. And the deliverance he wrought, in bringing Israel out of Egypt, was only a representation of Jesus delivering his people from the slavery of sin, death, hell, and the grave.
The joy of Egypt, contrasted with the deliverance with Israel, forms a beautiful subject for the mind to dwell upon. Oh! the vast, the inconceivable difference, between the righteous and the wicked, in the great day of account: Isaiah 65:13-15. Reader! pray keep up the constant inquiry under every review, and at every pause, to which party do you belong? Can you say, as it is said of Moses, By faith Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of in for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt. Hebrews 11:25-26.
Here we have a brief account of the Church in the wilderness, until the Lord brought them into the promised land. And here also, as before, we behold a type of the Church now. The pillar of cloud which went before them, strikingly represented the goings of the Holy Ghost before the Church; and the bread typified Jesus, the bread of life, to his people. Indeed, that we might not mistake upon so great a point, the Holy Ghost himself, by the Apostle, expressly tells us that the rock which gave the people drink in the wilderness, and followed them, was Christ; 1 Corinthians 10:4. And to sum up the whole, the Psalmist saith, that Jehovah did all this in confirmation of his Covenant engagements to Abraham. And as these covenant engagements all looked to Christ for their accomplishment, sweetly do we see in the whole, that it is of Jesus and his salvation the whole history treats, in whom, as God promised to the patriarch, all nations of the earth should be blessed; Galatians 3:8.
Now, Reader! you have gone through that part of the Church's history, from the call of Abraham to the settling of the Church in Canaan, and seen how lovely it sets forth God's covenant love and mercy - in Christ; what say you to your personal interest in these things? The apostle Paul's comment upon this history should always be uppermost in our remembrance, whenever we read this account of the Church. Now these things, saith Paul, were our ensamples. By these God the Holy Ghost is now teaching the Church. And if a believing soul so reads, and is so taught of God, as to see his personal concern in the whole, as a part of Christ's mystical body, he will involuntarily join the hymn of praise with which this Psalm begins, and cry out, O give thanks unto the Lord, and call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people.
But chiefly, Reader, let you and I view God's covenant love in these solemn transactions, and trace it to its source; in the fountain-head of all mercies, God in Christ in his great salvation. Yes! blessed Jesus, it was thou whom Moses typified, when, at the call of God, he came to deliver thy people, thy chosen! Egypt, at this hour, is still the bondage of the soul, under which all thy people groan, until by thy mighty arm thou bringest them out. And oh! what miracles of grace dost thou work to confute thy foes, and to encourage thy redeemed! While turning water into blood, and alarming the enemies of thy people with tokens of thy displeasure to dismay them, thou art converting the rocky heart into a heart of flesh, and making a wilderness dispensation to blossom as a rose, to give drink to thy people, thy chosen. Blessed Lord! thus nourish my soul through every remaining part of my pilgrimage, until thou shalt bring me out of all, into thine heavenly kingdom, to rejoice evermore in thy great salvation, and to sing upon the everlasting hills the triumphs of Jesus, and his Church in him. Praise, praise the Lord. Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Psalms 105". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://pro.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30