The church is here evidently under exercises. Some mighty foes come against her, and her resource can only be found in her God. The Psalmist thus speaks of his confidence, confesses that God's ways are dark and mysterious, but a happy end shall be to all his appointments.
To the chief musician, to Jeduthun, A Psalm of Asaph.
I venture here, as in many former instances, to believe that, under the spirit of prophecy, the man of God is particularly describing His cries and supplications, who, in the days of his flesh, we know, offered them up, and, though a Son, yet learned obedience by the things which he suffered. Hebrews 5:7-8.
Every verse tends more and more to confirm the foregoing observation: Being in an agony (saith the evangelist), he prayed more earnestly, and the sweat of his face was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Luke 22:44.
There is somewhat very singular, and, at first reading, very strange, in these expressions. Doth the remembrance of God, as a gracious covenant God, tend to increase affliction? Surely every remembrance of God, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, must have a blessed tendency to give comfort. What is it then? I venture to consider these words as referring to Christ, who, as the sinner's Surety, was looking forward to the conflicts of the garden and the cross: there Jesus had a baptism to be baptized within the contemplation of which he was straitened, until it was accomplished. God's justice upon the sinner, and God's holy law avenging itself upon the sinner's Surety, might well be supposed to induce such afflictions in the mind. See the evangelist's account, Matthew 26:38; Mark 14:34.
Jesus spent whole nights, we are told, in prayer to God. No doubt the love of God to Israel, through all the eventful pilgrimage of his church's warfare, occupied his holy mind. It is blessed, in our present exercises, to look back and compare them with former deliverances, either in our own instance, or the instances of the church.
These are blessed inquiries, and all tend to lead the soul to God, and to induce the happy issue in which the questions end. No, God hath not cast off his people whom he foreknew. God hath not, God will not. He hath spoken peace to Israel, and he will not unsay it. Then it is our infirmity, and not the want of God's faithfulness, that induceth complaints of all kinds. It is blessed to hang upon God, as a covenant God, when all things are dark and discouraging. The word, the oath of Jehovah, sealed in the blood of the covenant, are enough to still the soul under the sharpest exercises of faith.
Here is a devout reference to the history of the church in past times: and very ample are the pages in that history to give comfort to a troubled soul, when the Holy Ghost, as the Remembrancer of Christ, takes down the sacred volume, turns to the many blessed passages of God's faithfulness there recorded, and helps the soul to believe the truths of God, and make application of them to his own case and circumstances. Those subjects are eminently useful, which typically represent that far greater deliverance than the rescue of the sons of Jacob and Joseph from Egyptian bondage, even our spiritual deliverance from sin and Satan, and death and hell, by the glorious salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
What a beautiful and sublime manner of expression is here, in the waters seeing God. The prophet hath a similar thought: Was the Lord displeased against the rivers? Was thine anger against the rivers? Was thy wrath against the sea, that thou didst ride upon thine horses and thy chariots of salvation? Habakkuk 3:8. The Reader will, no doubt, perceive that both these references are to one and the same subject, Israel's deliverance from Egypt through the Red Sea. But what a flood of glory pours in upon the subject, when we read in that solemn transaction the fullest representation of our everlasting deliverance from all the Pharaohs of hell and destruction, through the red sea of Christ's blood! Here Jesus made a way indeed for his indeed to pass over, when he went forth for the salvation of his people. Hebrews 3:13; Isaiah 51:9-11. The clouds pouring out water, the skies sending out a sound, the thunders and the lightnings accompanying God's deliverance of his people from Egypt, and through the wilderness, their history fully explains: Exodus 14:19, etc. But the gospel sense of these passages comes home with a tenfold beauty and strength to the believer's heart, when he marks, through the whole of it, Jesus vanquishing all the powers of hell, destroying Satan, and bringing in an everlasting victory in the sea of glass, that all his redeemed might sing the song of Moses and of the Lamb; Revelation 15:2-4. Surely in the contemplation of this subject every redeemed heart will join the beautiful and pious language of the man of God, and acknowledge that, though the ways of God are dark and hidden, like his paths in the sea, yet Jesus hath led, and Jesus doth lead, and Jesus will lead his people, whom he hath saved from their sins, and bring them home to himself as his glorious flock, the jewels of his redemption-crown, to himself and the Father in glory forever.
READER, ponder over the weighty contents of this blessed Psalm. Do we see Christ in it? Did Jesus so cry in the days of his flesh? Did he accomplish salvation for his people, when he bore their sins and carried their sorrows? Oh! then, let us delight to trace his footsteps amidst all the dark and hidden providences with which we may be exercised. Depend upon it, he is bringing all his redeemed by a right way to a city of habitation. He that led his people like a flock safely through the wilderness, by the hand of Moses and Aaron, is never inattentive to his people now. They may be exercised, they may he cast down; but they shall not be cast off, nor forgotten by him forever. Let us do as the writer of this sweet Psalm did; under our sharpest trials, let us call to mind the days that are past, and the years of God's faithful dealings with his people in ancient times; see whether we cannot find exercises, with which the faithful were brought to the test, similar to our own. This will help us, by the Spirit's sweet application of it, under numberless occasions. Faith will revive in the review. The soul will say, Was Jesus faithful then, and will he not be faithful now? He mightily delivered his people under their distresses, and is he not Jesus still to me under mine? Doth he not rest in his love? Doth he not hate putting away? Set up, my soul, this day, this very day, thy Ebenezer afresh. Hitherto the Lord hath helped. Though I cannot see at all times my path clear, yet let me see, Lord, thy faithfulness at all times the same. Ere long I shall see thy glory. Hallelujah! Jesus lives, and Jesus reigns: all shall be well. Thou art then the God of my salvation, on thee will I lean, and to thee will I come, and in thee let me be found now and forever.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Psalms 77". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://pro.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30