The enquiry may have crossed the reader's mind, why was this Psalm placed next to the 24th? We almost think we can answer that question; and if our answer is right, it gives us a key to the structure of the Psalm. We suppose that the resemblance of v12 to the style of the closing verses of 24 may account for the juxtaposition. The resemblance is much closer than it first seems.
As in 24:8, like Jeremiah 30:21, we had Messiah introduced to our notice with a question, so in v12 of this Psalm we find the question suddenly put: Who is this man who fears the Lord?
Up to that verse, we may suppose the Psalmist speaks in the name of a member of the Church, such as himself, amid snares (v15) and troubles (v17) at a time when Israel, too, was tried (v22) - times when David was as a partridge on the mountains.
This member of the Church prays for deliverance and guidance, appealing to the Lord's compassion. He feels sure that the Lord will guide the meek, those who give up their will to His, in judgment, on the highway where all is lawful and right.
At v11, he utters the appeal: Pardon my iniquity for your name's sake, throwing his burden down as too heavy for him to bear. For it is great. At this point the scene changes. An answer is coming to the petitioner. His eyes fix on the Perfect One, who seems suddenly to come into sight.
"Who is THIS MAN who fears the Lord,
Whom he teaches the way that he shall choose?:
His soul lodges at ease,
And His seed will inherit the earth."
What a blessed vision! What a sweet sketch of Messiah and his blessings! Himself in his glorious rest, and his seed filling the earth! Instantly in v14 it is added that a share in this bliss belongs to all who fear the Lord:
"The secret of the Lord is with those who fear him,
And he will show them his covenant"
All the blessings of the covenant are yours. The hidden treasures of the Lord's friendship (secret) are yours, O fearer of Jehovah. Having seen and heard all this, the Psalmist exclaims:
"Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord"
who provides such blessings, present and future, and thus makes my soul dwell at ease, while I behold Him.
And so he prays again in full hope and confidence. When he reaches v20, "Let me not be ashamed for I put my trust in you," we are reminded of Coriolanus taking himself to the hall of Attius Tullus, and sitting as a helpless stranger there, claiming the king's hospitality, though aware of his having deserved to die at his hands.
The Psalmist throws himself on the compassion of an injured God with similar feelings: I trust in you!
It is to be noticed, that throughout the appeals of this Psalm are far more to the compassion and mercy of the Lord than any other attribute. Only let his pity awake, and he has a righteous channel down which to pour it. In Psalm 26 as we shall see, it is different. but here the general strain of all the appeals is that of verses 5-8, 10,11.
This is the first fully Alphabetic Psalm. Each verse begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet in succession. There seems nothing peculiar in this sort of composition; and as if to guard us against the idea of any mystery in it, the regularity is twice broken in upon in this Psalm, as in most of the others of the same structure. These irregularities are not the effect of careless transcription; for every manuscript agrees in the readings.
The Alphabetic form teaches is that the Holy Spirit was willing to thrown his words into all the moulds of human thought and speech; and whatever ingenuity man may exhibit in intellectual efforts, he should consecrate to the Lord making him the Alpha and Omega of his pursuits.
It is a Psalm where the letters of the Hebrew alphabet are used to help the memory and to vary the structure - to enable the Church in every age to do as the Psalmist does here, to confess and pray for pardon, help, guidance, deliverance, with the eye on Hi who is set before us in v12: This Man, the true pattern of all who fear the Lord.
Who would not say with the Church in every land, and with the souls under the altar, as with David here:
"Redeem Israel, O God, from all his troubles" (v22)
If the day when that prayer was first answered by David being raised to the throne was glorious, much more the day when the true David ascends his throne and dwells at ease and his seed inherit the earth! Let us learn to use the Psalm if we would fully enter into The confidence of the Righteous in the Lord's mercies.