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Here are the breathings of a devout soul under distress; and the soul finding confidence at the mercy-seat, reproves some ungodly person that assaulted him.
A Song of degrees.
I detain the Reader at the opening of this Psalm, just to make a short observation on the title, which is quite new, and which is first placed at the head of this Psalm, and then at the head of fourteen others which immediately follow. It is called a song of degrees. But what the term means is all matter of conjecture: the most generally received opinion is, that those fifteen songs were composed for the temple service. The great point for believers to be interested about, is to cover Christ in them. And if we find him in any and in every degree, the Psalm will be blessed. If we discern nothing of him through the Psalm, it will not in any degree prove profitable. I venture to think, however, that principally with reference to Jesus by the Spirit of prophecy was this Psalm written. Some have thought that David wrote it about the matter of Doeg, in his accusing David to Saul, 1 Samuel 22:18; 1 Samuel 22:18 . But really the subject of David's personal distresses, however great to himself, could not be sufficiently interesting to become a subject for the temple service. If, however, we drop Doeg, and hold up Judas; and if we consider the exercises of the Lord Jesus, David's Lord, on account of this traitor; in this sense the Psalm becomes truly great and interesting; and we shall then find occasion to bless the Holy Ghost that, a thousand years before the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, he graciously taught the church such things concerning her Lord. The first prominent feature in this Psalm, is the cry of the soul, and the sure answer of Jehovah: so saith Paul concerning Christ, who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, was heard in that he feared, Hebrews 5:7 .
If we read another Psalm to this effect, and which hath been always considered as referring to Jesus, we shall find how the holy sufferer complains of false witnesses rising up against him. Psalms 35:11-18 . And the awful event which terminated the life of the traitor Judas, may well be compared to what is here said of sharp arrows from God and coals of juniper, Meaning no doubt eternal misery. Acts 1:19 ; Mark 9:42-48 .
Reading these words with reference to Christ, we may well suppose that the exercises of his holy soul from day to day, were great in the society of those with whom he was constrained, as the sinner's surety, to sojourn. Hence we find him saying, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, how long shall I suffer you? Matthew 17:17 . But chiefly with Judas whom Christ knew from the first should betray him, and whom Christ called a devil. John 6:70-71; John 6:70-71 . Reader! if such were the exercises of Jesus, think it not strange that his people are constrained to dwell as in the tents of Kedar, the Ishmaelites of the present day. As Kedar was the son of Ishmael; so the opposers of the Lord Jesus now are found in the posterity of those born after the flesh. And Jesus saith, Let both grow together until the harvest. But it is sweet to discriminate grace from nature: and as they are frequently found together in the same house, the same family, nay, the same person; doth not the same Lord overrule such events to his glory, and his people's everlasting welfare? Genesis 25:13 ; Galatians 4:28-29 ; Matthew 13:30 ; Galatians 5:17 .
PAUSE, my soul, over the solemn consideration which this Psalm suggests, of the wretched life, and more wretched death of the opposers of Christ and his gospel. In the traitor Judas we behold a lively representation of all. They are by the agency of the evil spirit, who is said to work in the children of disobedience, enlisted into his service, wear his livery, and delight themselves in opposing the children of the kingdom. And what is the sure end of those men? The wages of sin is death. O my soul, come not thou into their secret! unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united.
But let me turn from the sad contemplation of such men to look at Jesus, and in his soul exercises with the ungodly find consolation to carry my mind through all the trifling oppositions I meet with in the tents of Kedar, and the neighborhood of Mesech. Yes! thou adorable Lord, in thee and thy bright example I have an everlasting resource to bear me up, and bear me out, and carry me through every difficulty. Let the world frown, and the ungodly oppose; yet a little while and such will be clean gone; I shall look after his place and he will be cut off. Lord Jesus, be thou my home, my dwelling-place, my habitation, my joy, my portion, my all; so shall no plague came nigh my dwelling, neither the foot of the ungodly cast me down.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Psalms 120". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany