This is another of the gospel Psalms, and truly precious it is, when opened to the believing soul by God the Holy Ghost. It appears, in its first view, as if it referred to some temporal deliverance of the church; but if the Reader look diligently into it, he will find some points which have a higher note, and sing of spiritual mercies by Jesus Christ.
To the chief musician, A Psalm for the sons of Korah.
If we first advert to Israel's history as a history of the church, we may trace abundant proofs of God's favor, from the moment they were formed into a church, through all their eventful pilgrimage. They got not the possession of their land by their own sword, neither was it their own arm that helped them. Psalms 44:1-3. And so again in their subsequent captivity, in Babylon, it was the Lord's deliverance, not their strength. But we lose the chief beauty of the Psalm, as well as interest in it, if we go no farther than the view of temporal mercies and old deliverances. Surely the Lord's graciousness to his land and to his people is doubly sweet and blessed, when read with an eye to Christ. Here the Lord hath indeed brought back his people from the captivity of sin and Satan, from the bondage of corruption, and the shadow of death. Here the Lord hath indeed forgiven their iniquity, and covered all their sins, by casting them into the depths of the sea of the Redeemer's blood. Micah 7:18-20; 1 John 1:7.
How sweet and suitable is this prayer for converting grace, after experiencing pardoning mercy! When Jesus hath purchased our pardon, his next gracious act is to renew our hearts to a proper enjoyment of it. And what a blessed thought is it that Jesus not only undertook for our debt, but engaged for our duty: not only to bring us to the favor of our God, but to restore in us the image of our God. Oh, thou lovely Lord! when shall we have learned the whole of thy mercies!
These are divine breathings, and they speak the language of a truly awakened, regenerated, pardoned sinner. These cries suit the church, and every member of the church. They comprise in three leading blessings, many more that are included in them: the total removal of all displeasure; the light of the divine countenance; and joy in the Holy Ghost. Reader, I hope you know somewhat of those pleadings: they form the richest enjoyments of the soul, when made with reference to Christ. Oh! it is blessed to enter into the retirings, as it were, of God; and there to plead with him his promises, in Jesus, and to point, by faith, to the blood of his dear Son!
Here, like another prophet, the man of God, having given in his petitions, now stands on his watch-tower, to hear the Lord's answer. Reader, so should you and I do, and not like the ostrich of the wilderness, leave our prayers without looking after them, as she leaves her eggs, unconcerned and unconscious whether they are ever made productive. And the reason is very obvious: God will speak. But if they are gone away from the mercy-seat, is not this their folly? How can they then know what the Lord hath spoken?
Here, if I mistake not, the principal beauty of the Psalm begins to open. I do not presume to say so much, but I would humbly ask, are not these the words of God, in answer to the foregoing petitions? Moses was commissioned by the Holy Ghost to tell Israel how nigh the Word was unto them; Deuteronomy 30:11, etc. and here Jesus and his salvation are said to be near them. And what can be more glorious than the consideration of this? Nay, is not Christ himself the Glory-man? And in his salvation is not glory come nigh us, yea, in our very nature? What a blessed scripture is here! And as Christ is the glory of his church, so his church is the glory of Christ. 2 Corinthians 8:23. And it is this which makes a land the glory of all lands. Ezekiel 20:6. And observe how confidently these things are spoken: Surely salvation is nigh. Yes, indeed, may every believing soul say it is. For Christ hath come, and hath redeemed, and hath obtained salvation; and now we are one with him, and he with us. He is the glorious Head of his church, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all. John 17:21-22; Ephesians 1:23.
Reader, behold what a meeting is here! All the divine attributes, indeed, all the Persons of the Godhead, for man's salvation. All center in the person of Christ. Is not Jesus himself emphatically called Mercy, and the mercy promised? Luke 1:72. And is he not Truth itself? John 14:6. And is he not Righteousness, yea, the Lord our righteousness? Jeremiah 23:6; 1 Corinthians 1:30. And is he not the Peace of his people? Isaiah 9:6; Ephesians 2:14; Eph_2:17; Micah 5:5. And where did ever those seemingly opposite attributes meet, so as to concur and unite for the salvation of sinners, but in the person of Jesus? Mercy inclines to pardon: Truth must stand; and God said, the soul that sinneth it shall die. Righteousness admits of no abatement: Peace by the cross satisfies every demand. Was there ever an assemblage of divine qualities so brought together, and so illustriously displayed for man's salvation, as here in the person of our Christ? Oh! thou Emmanuel! Oh, thou Lord our righteousness! did truth spring out of the earth, and didst thou look down from heaven, yea, come down on thy blissful errand to save sinners, to reconcile all things to thyself? Oh give me to see that all the divine perfections are now eternally satisfied by thy wonderful and mysterious meeting; and that Jehovah hath now glorified himself, and made thy church eternally and everlastingly happy, in the perfect salvation of thy blood and righteousness.
All increase, all blessings, must now continue to flow in our Emmanuel's land, his church; and that church cannot cease from following her glorious Head, when He, now lifted up; hath undertaken and promised to draw all his people unto him. John 12:32.
MY soul, read again and again this blessed Psalm; and so read and meditate concerning the most glorious things spoken of in it, until thy whole affections are led out in holy rapture, praise, and love, to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the wonders of redemption so beautifully and largely set forth in it. See, my soul, how all the attributes of Jehovah meet to accomplish salvation, by the union of what nothing but divine love could have proposed, and nothing but divine power could have accomplished! See how all the sacred Persons assemble to crown Jesus, King of Glory! Here God and man meet in one person, Christ. Here law and gospel, justice and mercy, are found harmonizing! Here heaven and earth are brought together, rather than poor man shall be lost! Here a covenant of works and a covenant of grace meet in the wonderful person of Jesus! And here we learn an evident proof, that God can be just to his own glory, and yet gracious to a poor sinner's transgressions, in justifying the ungodly.
Look up, my soul, look up, and contemplate thy Jesus, thy Redeemer, thy Saviour. Surely thou hast never done this as thou ought, if thou dost not behold in him what this Psalm records, mercy and truth meeting together, righteousness and peace kissing each other. In him, and his righteousness, his blood, and the graces of his Holy Spirit, do thou seek for the Father's honour and glory, and the assurance of thine own everlasting salvation. And oh! let the consciousness of everything centering in Christ for grace here, lead thee to the blessed hope and confidence, that everything for glory hereafter must centre in him also. In Christ, Jehovah meets the sinner with pardon and mercy in this life; and in Christ all the manifestations of Jehovah meet to give happiness and glory to the church to all eternity. Hallelujah! Salvation to God and the Lamb. Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Psalms 85". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://pro.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29