Friday, 3 January 2014

Psalm 55 - The Righteous One's weary soul resting in the certainty of what the Lord will do.

As before we have a Psalm on Neginoth and a Maschil, and then "Of David." We may read these strains as expressing David's feelings in some peculiar seasons of distress, and as the experiences of Christ's Church in every age; for we find much, very much, that accords altogether with humanity in a state of intensely stirred emotion, and affection wounded to the quick.

Yet still it is in Jesus, the Man of Sorrows, that the Psalm finds its fullest illustration. His was the soul that was stirred to its lowest depths by scenes such as those described here.

The quotation of 41:9 by our Lord is almost equivalent to the quotation of verse 13, they are so similarly worded.

It is the wickedness of the wicked that raises this mournful cry and makes him say: "I mourn in my complaint," or "give free course to my sorrow" (v2)

It is no unlikely that our Lord, possessed as he was of true humanity, might often give utterance to this expressive wish (v6), "O that I had wings as a dove," when seeing the turtle dove fly out from the olives of the Mount of Olives over guilty Jerusalem, the city in which He saw "violence and strife" - wickedness, deceit and guile, never absent from her streets.

Either there, or standing on some of the hills around Nazareth, He might witness the home-loving dove's swift flight. Paxton says, the dove when flying to its rest never rests on trees or the like as other birds, but uses one wing while the other rests.

He might hear its peace-suggesting note, and be led to this utterance of strong feeling, not at all unfit for Him who so rejoiced in the thought "And now I am no more in the world! Now I come to you, Holy Father" (John 17:11).

He to whom he was thought to bear so close a resemblance (Matt 16:14), the weeping prophet Jeremiah, gave utterance to this wounded feeling in strains that naturally took a similar form, "O that I had in the wilderness a lodging place" though only that of the wayfaring man! (9:2).

But the melancholy Psalmist here rises a degree beyond this - "I would remain in the desert" (v7)

Then there is a Selah pause, as there is in the middle of verse 19, indicating the calm, solemn state of soul in which these things were uttered.

The prayer in verse 9 reminds us of Babel, where the language of earth was divided that pride might be humbled forever, and its aims irretrievably baffled; while verse 15, "go quick to hell," at once recalls the doom of Korah and his company, who rejected the true High Priest, and the Lord's King in Jeshrun.

Our Lord describes Israel in verse 13, "hi s own" nation (John 1:11), though especially Judah one of his trusted ones who owned him as Master; and "my equal" signifies, "You who were by my side on equal terms."

He permits them to perish in unbelief, they having rejected the true Priest and King. He no longer plays the Intercessor's part toward such, but stands over them as Judge, pronouncing their doom.

Then in v16,17, we hear him express his confidence of full deliverance. "The twelve legions of angels" whom He might at any time have called to his help, have arrived, or rather He sees them on their way.

"For there are many with me.
God hears and answers,
Yes he sits enthroned forever. Selah. (v19)

It is a glance at future redress for every wrong, in the Day of Vengeance and the Year of the Redeemed.

In prospect of this, verse 22 invites us to cast our burden upon the Lord, whatever that burden is, even if it is the crushing weight of persecution, and reproach and treachery.

The Lord will "provide" as Joseph did, Gen 45:11,  and as 1 Kings 4:7, "the godly shall not be tossed about forever;" the Lord shall arise to hurl the foe into "the pit of destruction" (the lake of fire, Rev 20:15), in which Antichrist sinks forever.

In the last verse there is something of an enthymeme (and informal syllogism); for while the clause, "the bloody and deceitful men shall not live half their days" predicts and portrays their doom, as cut off by untimely judgement, the responsive clause, "And I will trust in you" tells of no proper converse, no judgement in favour of the godly.

But it nevertheless contains in it the equivalent to a declaration that his lot shall be the reverse of the bloody and deceitful. It is equivalent to saying, "We go different ways - they on the broad road, where ruin overtaken them speedily, and I on the safe road of faith in you, where I shall soon meet with Him whom unseen I loved, and in whom I believer, though as yet I have not seen him." 

Does not this Psalm depict - The Righteous One's weary soul resting in the certainty of what the Lord will do.

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