This is a very beautiful Psalm, if read first with reference to Jesus, and then as suited to his people in him. Its general contents are, the full confidence there is in God's Christ, at all times, for his people. Some have recommended it to the traveler; and some have thought it suitable for the soldier and mariner. But every traveler to Zion way profit: ably use it; and so may every true soldier of Jesus Christ while Christ is kept in view.
A Song of degrees.
In the margin of our old Bibles this first verse is read by way of question; "Shall I lift up mine eyes to the hills? Whence should my help come?" And if the verse be read in this way of inquiry, the answer is given in another scripture: Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains: truly in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel, Jeremiah 3:23. But though this would be a beautiful method of inquiry, and as delightful an answer to a seeking soul to prompt the heart to rest on Jesus; yet I rather think the Psalm hath a more pointed direction to the Lord Jesus. The temple, it is well known, was built on the holy hill of Zion. Mount Moriah, that memorable mount, was not far remote. And as the temple in which was the ark, was an eminent type of Christ; may we not consider this verse as the pious resolution, arising from the teaching of the Spirit of some Old Testament saint, who saw the day of Christ afar off, rejoiced and was glad, and therefore was looking to God's Christ as his help, and rock, and Saviour? Read in this point of view, it is yet sweeter than the former. But, Reader! is there not a still higher view of these words, if we read them as the words of Christ himself? Looking unto Jesus in his human nature, as the sinner's surety, and husband, and representative; voluntarily standing up for the Redemption of his people; the Lamb of God cries out, I will lift up mine eyes to the hills, from whence cometh my help; that is, staying himself upon the Father in his covenant promises, to carry him through his vast undertaking, which, like the strong mountains and everlasting hills, abide forever. For is it not to Jesus that very scripture is spoken? The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee. Isaiah 54:10. I do not presume so to say, but I think it makes the Psalm more beautiful, so to read it. And as it tends in this point of view to endear Christ, so it tends no less equally to endear to the believer the love of God the Father. For it shows the hand of God the Father to have been with Christ as his helper, and stay, in all redemption-work. And it gives faith a warrant to stay upon Christ, when thus beholding Christ as the Christ of God.
From the opening of the Psalm under the several views which I have humbly offered, every part that follows will be easy to apprehend, without enlarging the comment. Every believing soul who looks to God in Christ for help, may well answer himself in this second verse, and say, with full assurance of faith, My help cometh from the Lord. And if the church of Jesus may safely assume this language while looking to her Lord; surely Christ in the days of his flesh might well be supposed to ground his dependence upon the covenant love and promises of God his Father. John 2:25; Joh_2:25.
How beautiful, how truly beautiful and soul-refreshing are these words, if considered, first, as spoken by God our Father to the person of his dear Son, as the Mediator and Head of the church; and then as spoken to all his people in him. Reader! do let me entreat you to pause over this beautiful Psalm, and see whether, under the divine teaching of the Holy Ghost, it doth not correspond to the general analogy of faith, to read it with reference to the ever blessed Jesus. And if so, what a most delightful scripture is it, to behold the sacred persons of the Godhead (as in other scriptures) thus addressing each other: Isaiah 42:25; Isa_42:25, etc. Ps 89. Jesus having taken our nature into union with the Godhead for the purposes of redemption; now in that nature looks up for the promised help, to carry him safely and honorably through it. And God our Father, beholding with inexpressible complacency his dear Son as the sinner's surety, thus speaking to him in such a divine way of blessing, keeping, preserving, and conducting him, amidst the sun's heat, and the moon's influences, from every danger safely through the whole. Oh! for grace to look up and bless the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for this unequalled gift of his dear Son. Oh! for grace to adore the holy and eternal Spirit, both for having brought poor sinners acquainted with this love, and for giving us hearts to believe the record God hath given of his dear Son. And oh! for grace to be ever looking unto thee, thou dear Emmanuel, who though thou wast rich, yet for our sakes didst become poor, that we through thy poverty might be made rich. Reader! while thus making Jesus the sum and substance of this divine Psalm, forget not that it is as the head of his church and people, that he thus appears. All the promises here made to him, are in him made to his people also. God in Christ is the keeper, the shade, the helper, the stay of all his redeemed. He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness before him, 1 Samuel 2:9. In all the exercises of his faithful, in going out or coming home, Jesus will go before them, and the God of Israel will be their rereward. Oh! the blessedness of the Israel of God; oh! the glory, grace, and love of the God of Israel.
MY soul! methinks I would pass by all lesser considerations, to behold Jesus in this one sweet point of view, as thy Surety and thy Saviour, thus becoming the head of his church, and resting upon Jehovah's faithfulness for carrying him through the work of redemption. It is blessed, it is profitable, it is happiness itself, to contemplate Jesus in all his wonderful condescension. When the Son of God condescended to become man, he became subject to all that man is subject to, sin only excepted. And the holiness and purity of his nature, totally precluded the possibility of sin. But the weakness of our nature, and the infirmities of that nature in hungering, thirsting, weariness, and the like, as connected with a sinless nature - this, my soul, thy Surety, thy Jesus knew. Behold him then, in this state, ready to engage in the service of Jehovah his Father, for the salvation of his chosen; and, as this Psalm represents, looking for help, and resting for that help on the faithfulness of Jehovah. And when thou least looked to thy Jesus in this character long enough to feel thy whole affections going out after him in every tender regard; then, contemplate thy covenant God and Father answering thy Redeemer's request, in all those blessed assurances here given, of support and power. And Oh, my soul, rest for all thy own needful supplies, for every grace here, and glory hereafter, upon both these grand pillars, and ground of thy faith, the Father's covenant engagements, and the Son's merits and death. Receive Jesus as Jesus, the Father's gift to poor sinners, in all the glories of his own person, the sufficiency and efficacy of his satisfaction, and Jehovah's salvation to the ends of the earth. And while the Holy Ghost sets his seal to these blessed truths as they are in Jesus, commit all thy concerns into his Almighty hand, that in thy going out and in thy coming in, in time and to all eternity, Jesus may be thy hope, and thy portion forever.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Psalms 121". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany