Reference to bones connects this Psalm to the previous. They are not broken (v20) in the previous, and are "rejoicing" (v16) here. In both we find "the angel of the Lord" acting as the Lord's instrument. Previously to preserve and protect (v6), because the whole song is one of the Lord's care. In the latter the angel acts in the way of vengeance, as an instrument to inflict the Lord's wrath (v5,6) because the burden of this Psalm is an awful intercession against those who hate the righteous without cause.
Throughout this is an awful Psalm. Let us read it as the words of the Lord Jesus. What do we find?
We find Him praying to the Father for help, and consenting to the doom of his relentless, impenitent foes. Rather than pronouncing the doom with his own lips, even as when He shall say to the barren fig tree, "cut it down" and to those on his left "depart". In this spirit he says:
"Let them be confounded.
Let them be turned back.
Let them be as chaff.
Let the angel of the Lord smite them.
Let their way be dark.
Let the angel of the Lord chase them." (v4,5,6)
This is their sentence, utter by the lips of the Judge. It is not the wish of one who is revengeful. It is the utterance of justice, compelled by the state of the parties to speak in stern severity.
Our Lord quotes v19, "they hate me without a cause." in John 15:25, on his last evening with his disciples before his suffering. Then he found himself in the very situation so strikingly described in v11,12 - with false witnesses rising up, men rewarding his whole career of kindness by spoiling his soul.
What a deeply affecting picture do v13,14,15, give of the Saviour's life for us. It may have been literally realised at Nazareth; Christ may have put on sackcloth when he heard of some one in sickness, fasting for the dying man whose soul he longed to save - nonetheless the man was a foe.
Jesus acted as if the man had been "friend or brother" - yes he felt such grief as men usually feel only when a beloved mother dies. So he felt for all this miserable word. But now he says, when the day of my calamity has come, they do not sympathise with me -
"They rejoice and gather together
They gather agianst me the objects.
Even those whom I knew not, tear me, and cease not.
The vile, who mock for a cake, parasites, gnash their teeth at me" (v15,16)
His cry ascends. His pleadings go up before the righteous Father, "Lord, bring back my soul from desolations caused by their ruinous plots." The vehement appeal (v23), "My God, and my Lord!" may have been in Thomas' thoughts on that memorable occasion, John 20:28.
We have the answer in v26,27:
"They are ashamed. They are clothed with shame"
This answer carries us forward to the day when they who rejected Him shall have as their portion "shame and everlasting contempt" while they who favour his righteous cause -
"Shout for joy and are glad
They cry continually, let the Lord be magnified!
Whose pleasure is the prosperity of his servants"
Is this not the Hallelujah of the glorified redeemed?
Is this not their shout of joy, when sorrow and sighning flee away?
Is this not the sound of the Lamb's harp and voice we hear when amid this jubilee of bliss he says: "And my tongue shall speak of your righteousness, of your praise all day long"
Throughout the endless day of eternity the Lord Jesus will himself speak the Father's praise, and shall put marked emphasis on his righteousness which will have been exhibited both in the doom of those who hated the offered Redeemer, and in the salvation of those who received him.
There is nothing in all this that his own may not fully join, especially on that day when their views of justice will be far clearer and fuller than now. On that day we shall be able to understand how Samuel could hew Agag in pieces, and the godly hosts of Israel slay utterly in Canaan, men and women and children at God's command.
We shall be able, not only fully to agree, "let them be confounded" etc. but even to sing "Amen. Hallelujah" over the smoke of torment (Rev 19:1,2,)
We should in some measure now be able to use every verse of this Psalm in the spirit in which the Judge speaks it. We feel ourselves his assessors in judging the world (1 Cor 6:2). We shall at all events, be able to use it on that day when what is written here is accomplished: The awful utterance of the Righteous One regarding those who hate Him without cause.