Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Psalm 17 - The Righteous One's dissatisfaction with a present world

The same strain again - only here the sin and sorrow of the world are brought together and the Righteous One is seen lifting his eyes to heaven, as sure conqueror over both.

Earth, whether viewed from the top of Peor, or the field of Zophim, is still the same fallen earth; and not less gratefully does the shout of the King of Jeshurum greet our ears by whatever cliff of Pisgah it may happen to be echoed back. It is called A Prayer for it consists of strong appeals to God.

While fully satisfied with his lot, the Righteous One tells us how little reason there is to be satisfied with teh world in which his lot was cast for a time. Deissatisfied with man's judgement he appeals to the Lord, and verse 1 is equivalent to those two words in his prayer (John 17:25) "O righteous Father." 

Before Him he spreads his cause, expecting (v2,3) a reversal of the world's sentence. The Father "proved him and could find nothing." Was it to this he referred in John 14:30, when telling of Satan's attempt? Mysterious trial, all perfect righteousness! Heaven and hell have tried it; and neither the holiness of God nor the envy of Satan could detect a flaw.

We find him appealing to the Father as to his heart (v3), as to his words (v4) and as to his ways (v5) - sure of the verdict from the lips of Holiness itself. And, united to Him, each believer may make the same appeal, with teh same success, while he is led also, in the very act of so doing, to plant his steps in the footsteps of his all-perfect Surety. In v6, emphasis reons on I, "I have called"; let others do the same.

Still dissatisfied with men, v6-8, He seems to unbosom himself to the Father, fixing his eye on the marvellous love shown in redemption, "the tender mercies" or "bowels of mercy" by which the "dayspring from on high has visited us" (Luke 1:78).

"Single out your loving kindness, deliverer of those who trust you."

Saints are called "Trusters" and the prayer is "set apart" (Psalm 4:3) for me some special mercy. Make it appear in its singular brightness, O you who delivers me who trusts in You, and will deliver all others who simply trust in You through me!" 

We, too, may follow Him even into the very secret of the Most High, when in v8, he presses forward and sist down under the wings of majesty and love - at rest in the "God of Israel, under whose wings he has come to trust."

And here we may, with our Head, survey the turmoil of human wickedness, beholding (v9-14) their assaults, their snares, their lion-like anger, their conspiracies, and in v14, their luxury and worldly ease.

"My soul deliver from the wicked, by the sword,
From men, by your hand, O Lord,
From men!" (Perhaps, frail, dying men...)
"From the transitory world!"

Grieved at such scenes, the Righteous One suddenly darts his eye into the future and anticipates resurrection glory - a glory that shall cast human splendour into the shade, and leave the Lord' speople without one unsatisfied desire. Our Head sung, in prospect of his resurrection, and we his members, sing, in prospect of ours -

"But as for me, I shall behold his face in righteousness" (v15)

O righteous Father, O holy Father (John 17), I come to you and forever dead to sin, and escaped from the world's miry clay, I shall stand before You who are righteous in the beauty of pure righteousness. And my dissatisfactions shall be forgotten when entering that enjoyment - you appear in glory to meet me, and I conform to the glory that meets me at my rising,

"I shall be satisfied when your likeness awakes" - 

This likeness is spoken of in Numbers 12:8. It is the manifestation of God in his glory. The "glory of the Father" (Rom 6:3) met Christ at the sepulchre, and He arose glorious, soul and body. So shall it be with each of His members.

Christ our Life, the incarnate manifestation of the likeness of God, shall appear in glory; and we shall instantly be conformed to Him "seeing Him as He is" (1 John 3:2).

The appearing of that glory, in our dark world, whence it has so long been exiled, seems to be meant by the "awakening of His likeness." Psalm 73:20 speaks of it again, and attributes to that event the eternal confusion of the worldlings who had their portion and cup full for a reason.

It was in the act of singing these words, as they stand in the metrical version, that one of our Scottish martyrs, Alexander Home, passed from the scaffold to glory. With a solemn eye and glowing soul, he was able amid gathered thousands to express his rest and hope in these words -

"But as for me I your own face
In righteousnss shall see;
And with your likeness when I wake
I satisfied shall be."

And, who of all the saints would not join him? Who would not take up every clause of the whole Psalm? Who would not sympathise in -  The Righteous One's dissatisfaction with a present world?

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