This is a Psalm of "The Lord's Servant", a title given to one called to specific services for God. It was given into the hands of "The Chief Musician" on the day when the Lord had delivered from every foe. The circumstances were peculiar, and so is the style of the song.
Thus, v1, "I will love you" is expressed with unusual language, we might translate "My bowels yearn in love to you." Sternhold felt there was something very energetic in this so he versified in this way with considerable success:
"O God, my strength and fortitude, of force I must love you;
You are my castle and defence, in my necessity"
The next term, "my strength" is rare but very expressive and equivalent to "You who have held me up firm and fast."
It is meant for a greater one than David, but David's circumstances furnish an appropriate occasion for giving to the Church a song that might suit Messiah, and all his members too. David's circumstances, that made him suitable to be the vehicle of this divine communication, have moulded the language but we are not to carry the allusion to his history too far.
Some have supposed that v7-15 refer to some tempest that helped David's victory on some occasion but we may be content with observing that the style is coloured by David's experience. So, v2 amplifies v1 to say that the Lord is my precipitous rock (like 1 Sam 22:28) which foes find inaccessible. My deliverer, not leaving me simply to the defence of rocks, but himself standing for me with his loving arm.
My God, not deliverance only to me, but every thing, my all in all. My firm immovable rock who never changes. In Him will I trust - in one like this may I not be satisfied? And when I go out to the battle field this Jehovah is "My Shield"; and by Him I win victory; the horn of my salvation!
As I return to my camp on the heights, as 1 Sam 26:13, far above the reach of foes I sing of Him as "My High Place" - the height where I rest secure.
But the Psalm was meant for the Lord Jesus especially. It presents a singular history of some portions of our Lord's mighty undertakings, all related in such a manner as that his members (and David among them) might use it often for themselves.
In Hebrews 2:13 the second verse is quoted as our Lord's words: I will put my trust in him; to show that Christ as our brother leaned on God, just as we ourselves would lean our weakness on Almighty strength. Again in Romans 15:9 this Psalm is quoted "I will confess to you among the peoples" to show Christ's deep interest in the world at large. So that we have, by these two references, the whole Psalm marked out, beginning and end, bracketed, as belonging to Christ in a special and direct way.
It is then our Brother who sings here. He begins telling his younger brothers what his Father (His and ours!) did for him in the day of the sadness of his heart. He is relating some of the hidden things, which are nowhere else recorded, but which fit in the time of Gethsemane suffering, and the three hours darkness, and the earthquake, and the tearing of the Temple veil - things that took place in the view of other spectators than man, when the prince of the air was overthrown, and the Father, with his legions of angels came forward to deliver.
The mention of the cherub in v10 is not to be overlooked, "He rode upon an angel". Like a king or warrior, the Lord is represented as going out in his chariot; but he mounts on that memorable day a chariot whose coat of arms is The Angel. He goes out in his Angel Chariot., and this is sufficient to show the errand on which he has gone out: it is redemption.
For that symbol is the redemption-symbol. Angels in paradise after the fall, angels on the mercy seat with their feet touching the blood, and their whole weight on the ark. Angels on the veil that was torn. Everywhere angels, representing, as the four living beings in Revelation 4, the Redeemed.
How significant to the universe, when Jehovah rose up with the symbol of man's redemption, to go out to the aim of man's Redeemer.
Let us begin, then. The true Sweet Singer of Israel, the firstborn among many brothers, stands on the shore of his Red Sea, and sings, in v1 and v2, the grace and glory of his God.
What a God he is: My strength. My rock. My rock-like-God. My fortress. Then comes the story of his awful conflict. He traverses the field with us and tells us of his cries that pierced the heavens and the Father's heart (v3-6) - a commentary on Hebrews 5:7.
From v7-15 what a scene of terrific incidents is opened to view. The cords of the hunter "death" were enclosing him, and the torrents of Belial - floods swollen with all the mischief of hell and hellish men - sweeping down upon him, when his cry began to be noticed, and the Father rose up.
Earth shook - smoke and fire were seen by those same angels who were witnesses of the smoke and fire on Sinai attesting to the majesty of the law; and the same heavens bowed that bowed when the Law was given. The same darkness attended this descent for now the Law-fulfiller was about to present the law fulfilled. He came with the Angel-symbol to bring redemption from the curse of the law.
But there was no abatement of his glory - no obscuring of his majesty. On the contrary, there was the same covering of darkness as when the law was given and afterwards the same brightness shot out. Hailstones too as when he overcame his enemies at Bethhoron, attested the presence of the same majesty and power. The same thunder uttered its voice. The same lightning arrows flew around. It was Israel's God in his majesty. Yes the same who laid bare the Red Sea's channel (v14,15) who then appeared in still greater displays of majesty. It was a scene not seen by mortal eyes but no doubt by angels.
In time the Redeemer was delivered. He sent from above. He took me. He drew me out of many waters. v16-18. In vain do the scribes and elders triumph, sealing the stone tomb, and setting a watch. In vain does Satan exult as if he had crushed the woman's seed.
"The prevented me (i.e. got before me, as if between me and my refuge) in the day of my calamity."
But Jehovah came - resurrection followed, and all its consequences.
He stood in a large place and soon sat down at the right hand of Majesty on high. In that hour every member of his body was virtually "raised with Him, and made to sit with Him in the heavenly places" - in a large room.
This was all done in conformity with law and righteousness. The law was honoured then and is honoured and magnified for ever by all that the Redeemer wrought. v20-26 declare:
"Jehovah rewarded me according to my righteousness.
"According to the cleanness of my hands he recompensed me.
"Because I kept the ways of the Lord -
"All his judgements were before me,
"And I did not put away his statutes from me.
"Yes, I was upright before him..." etc.
Henceforth, nothing hinders the application of his redemption work on the part of God; and on man's part there is nothing required by the poverty of spirit that is willing to receive a gift.
Pride that cause the fall, hinders the rising again of the fallen.
"For you will save those who are poor
But will bring down the high looks.." (v27)
Our Brother having brought us thus far in his history, tells us once more of the Father's love to Him and his people and how fully the Father, who equipped Him for the former struggle, has equipped him for whatever remains for him to do (v28-35).
The Father loved the Son and has given all things into his hands. He seems suddenly to remind the Father of this (v25-26) in preparation for what is coming saying -
"Your gentleness has MADE ME GREAT."
Then follows the final assault, long deferred, upon his unyielding enemies (v37-42). It is evidently the day of his Second Coming; for we hear the cry (v41) when "there are none to save." The Master has risen up and shut the door. Rocks and mountains cannot shelter foes, any more than the cave of Makkedah the five kings who fled to it.
Our Joshua calls them out, and puts his own foot upon their necks (v40, compare Joshua 10:24).
Then the earth is subdued under Him (v43,44,45). Isaiah 52:15 is fulfilled. Nations come to Him like the Queen of Sheba, attracted by the report of his grace and glory.
The Lord alone is exalted in that day. The glory resounds to Him (v46-48) and there is congratulatory acclamation (1 Kings 1:25,31) of all the earth. Jehovah lives! Jew and Gentiles are seen in union; for the Deliverer (v49-5) declares his celebration of Jehovah's name among the peoples while he shows kindness to David and his seed forever.
We may join with all the members of our Head. Made more than conquerors in Him and enjoying our share in all these triumphs with Him, crying out:
"You who make great the salvations of his King!"
The full salvation-work wrought out by our appointed King is done in might and majesty.
Now we see how we too may sing all this. Even as David could sing it, and David's son. We sing of our delivereances and remember all the while that the source of them was God's rising up for us in all his power, invisible yet awfully great.
Then in v20-27, we like David may speak before the Lord of the righteousness we have got and of the purity He himself has bestowed. It is with our eye on Christ's righteousness imputed, and Christ's Spirit imparted, we sing, humbly declaring what He has wrought for us.
As for v28-36 they tell of our experience in life. V37-45 tell of the day when we shall share with our Head, in bruising Satan under our feet, and when Rev 3:9 shall be fulfilled.
What are we that we should be called upon to join in such a song!
What are we, Lord, that your Son should be our elder brother and work all this for us!
Enable us for evermore to love, serve, glorify, and follow fully that Saviour who was saved when he took our place! And never may we sing this Psalm but with burning love to Him as we think of: The Righteous One saved and glorified.