Here is indeed a gospel Psalm, full of Jesus, and of Jesus only, from beginning to end. it consists of two parts: Of the sufferings of Christ, and then of the glory that should follow: his cries, agonies, discouragements, desertions, death; his glory, and the blessedness of his salvation.
To the chief Musician upon Aijeleth, Shahar. A Psalm of David.
Is not Christ discoverable in the very title of this Psalm? For who is the Hind of the Morning but Jesus? Aijeleth Shahar means Hind of the Morning, and so is rendered in the margin of our old Bibles. Sweet thought! Jesus was so from the everlasting morning, when set up from everlasting. And when in time, was he not hunted and slaughtered by the dogs spoken of in this Psalm? See Song of Solomon 8:14.
Who that reads these words set down in the church under the spirit of prophecy, at least a thousand years before the coming of Christ, and then hears them uttered by Jesus on the cross; who that duly attends to these things, but must feel his soul overpowered in the contemplation, and be constrained to exclaim with the astonished apostle, My Lord, and my God! Yes, precious Jesus! We need not here inquire of whom spake the prophet this, - of himself or of some other man? Acts 8:34. But what do the words themselves imply? Is this the voice of complaint? Yes: Jesus as the sinner's surety, cries out under the pressure of divine wrath against sin. Not that God had exacted more than our sins deserved, but that the heavy displeasure, and the desertion which accompanied it, bore hard upon his holy spotless soul. Yet, let the reader not forget to remark, in the same moment, that Jesus never lost sight of his relationship; for he kept it in view, in his cry, in reiterating the tender title, My God, my God! Reader, if Jesus felt the momentary desertion so oppressive, think what horrors must form the state of those who are deserted forever. And if Jesus thus passed through the dark valley of desertion, let not any of his followers complain, if at any time they are made conformable to his likeness. Romans 8:29.
This is a sweet verse. Jesus proclaimeth the holiness of God the Father in the midst of his sufferings. As the sinner's surety, he bore the whole weight of sin, and the punishment due to it, Oh! how precious is the holiness of God, beheld in this point of view! It is a glorious part of Jehovah's character, that he will by no means clear the guilty, Exodus 34:7. And rather than this holiness of God shall be slighted, the Surety shall suffer, shall die. Reader, do you enter into the precious apprehension of this blessed truth? Do you behold Jesus, and Jesus as your Surety, taking all your guilt, and all the curse due to the sinner, upon him, because of God's broken law, and thus expiating both the sin and punishment by the sacrifice of himself? Do you see this, believe in this, and feel your interest in it? If so, surely you will admire and adore God's holiness, and humbly adopt the same words as your Saviour did, and cry out, Thou, Lord, art holy; O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel!
One of the most blessed thoughts, in confirmation of Jesus acting as the surety of his people, and his people receiving all the blessings and benefits of that suretyship, is the testimony the Holy Ghost gives, in various parts of the scripture, concerning the faithful. Wherefore did they live and die so comfortably, but because Jesus had taken out the sting of sin, and removed the curses of the broken law, by the sacrifice of himself. And although the Old Testament saints all lived and died before this great sacrifice was offered, yet it was intentionally offered, for Christ was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Revelation 13:8. Hence they died in the sure faith of it, as much as though it had already taken place, and were accepted in it. So that they trusted, and were not confounded.
Whence, Reader, is it, that while the fathers were made happy, Christ was thus treated, but because he stood in their law place, and endured the very curse which the law denounced against the sinner? And if he, the Surety, paid the debt, surely the principal debtor, the Surety paid for, ought to go free. Both could not, with strict justice, pay: and this explains wherefore that Holy One of God was thus despised, and made a derision and a reproach. But, while it explains the cause, who, blessed Jesus, shall calculate thy love? We need only turn to the Evangelists to behold these things awfully verified. Matthew 27:41-43; Mr 15; Luke 23:1-56 etc.
The miraculous conception and birth of Christ, for the purpose of redemption, hath numberless particularities in it, which make these expressions peculiarly suited to our Lord, Compare Psalms 40:6 with Hebrews 10:5; Psalms 139:13-16.
Here Christ evidently throws himself upon the covenant engagements. Isaiah 43:1-4; Psalms 89:21-22.
It would be a loss of time to continually remark, how impossible it is to preserve any kind of consistency in those scriptures, by keeping up the recollection of David, King of Israel, as being at all personally represented in these and the like accounts. David never was in the situation here described; and therefore I do request the Reader, once for all, to forget David, unless as a type of Christ, and wholly look to Him, whom David, as a prophet, and under the spirit of prophecy, is so accurately describing. Reader, look into the Evangelists, after reading these prophetical relations of your Redeemer, and behold how the history corresponds to the prediction in every point. Never indeed were sorrows like unto his sorrows, in the days of his humiliation. Who can hear of a Lamb in the midst of bulls, and behold Jesus under the buffetings of the soldiers, the reproaches of the Scribes and Pharisees, the scourge and the spear, and the thorny crown, but must be struck with the striking nature of the similitude to the reality? Who can hear of a soul so afflicted as to be poured out like water, and all the bones of his body out of joint, and then behold Jesus when nailed to the cross, and by the elevation and fixing the cross, dislocating, though not breaking, the bones of his sacred body, but must cry out, Behold the Man! And was not Jesus parched, with his tongue cleaving to his jaws, when he said, I thirst. In short, under every circumstance, in his buffetings, sufferings, crucifixion, dying, and the dust of death, into which he was brought, if the prophet had been at the hall of Pilate, and the hill of Calvary, he could scarcely have made a more accurate portrait of the Lamb of God, than he hath now done: so exactly was fulfilled a prophecy delivered a thousand years before the period of its accomplishment. Dearest Lord, give me so to meditate on these things, until I feel my whole soul going forth in all that love and affection which thy people participate, who know thee in the power of thy resurrection, and in the fellowship of thy sufferings. Philippians 3:10.
The apostle Paul was taught by the Holy Ghost to tell the church, that these words, delivered by the patriarch David under the spirit of prophecy, Were the words of Christ: Hebrews 2:12. It is a blessed thing (and we never can be sufficiently thankful to the Holy Ghost for it), when at any time the precious Words of Jesus, or passages referring to the Lord Jesus, are not left to our conjectures, but are positively explained. Hence, therefore, from this charming account of prophecy, we have authority to conclude, that when Jesus had fulfilled all that was written of him, in respect of suffering, he should, by his Holy Spirit, proclaim his salvation to his redeemed. And this he did when he sent down the Spirit at Pentecost, and when at the same time he sent his disciples forth to preach his gospel to every creature. Luke 24:49; Acts 2:1-4; Mark 16:15. But Reader, do not overlook that delightful feature of Jesus's love, in calling his people brethren. Oh! thou brother, born for adversity! Surely thou art our brother; and everyone of thine may say, with the church, When I find thee without, I would kiss thee, for I should not be despised: Song of Solomon 8:1; Proverbs 17:17.
Here is the first declaration of his name unto Israel, after the flesh; and that they should be gathered unto him to praise him. Yes, Jesus shall have a church, a seed to serve him, to call him blessed.
Sweet and blessed testimony of our God himself. It is as if Jesus had said, My Father hath not despised, nor abhorred the affliction of me his afflicted One, but hath accepted me, and my offering for you, my redeemed. What an encouragement is this, at all times, for Jesus's afflicted ones to go to a mercy-seat, in his most precious name. Oh! how sure of success. John 16:23.
Every verse in this beautiful Psalm hath an immense blessing annexed to it, as it concerns the church, accepted and blessed in Jesus. The Lord Jesus hath paid his vows, hath performed all the work the Father gave him to do; and therefore all his people in the congregation shall praise him, and God the Father in him. John 13:31-32.
Here is another blessed verse, and most comprehensive indeed, of all blessings in Jesus. The meek, that is, all humble, lowly in heart, and seekers after salvation in Jesus, shall have an everlasting table spread in the fulness, freeness, suitableness, and all-sufficient supplies in Jesus. Living upon Jesus, they shall be living to Jesus, and in Him; and shall rejoice all the day and live forever.
Nay, so extensive shall be the blessings in Jesus, and so vast the extent of redemption by Jesus, that all the ends of the earth, not Israel only, but Gentiles shall come to his light, and kings to the brightness of his rising. Isaiah 60:3.
Here is a beautiful variety of terms and descriptions, to point out the glories of the Lord Jesus, in the fulness and greatness of his salvation, and the felicity and happiness of his church, saved and accepted, and everlastingly made happy, in him. So that without making further division of these precious words, and the glorious things contained in them, the whole scope and tendency of the Psalm, taken in one collected point of view, is exactly corresponding to the whole tendency of prophecy, and comes up to what the apostle Peter had it in command to tell the church, by the direction of God the Holy Ghost, that the Spirit of Christ, which was in the ancient prophets of God, taught them by all their ministrations to signify, first, the sufferings of Christ, and then the glory which should follow. 1 Peter 1:11. And here we have an epitome of both, in this most blessed Psalm. The sufferings of our adorable Redeemer fill up the subject of relation to the close of the 21st verse; and from thence to the end, the Lord Jesus is introduced, as declaring to his church, whom he is not ashamed to call brethren, that the covenant engagements of his Father must and will be fulfilled. He must have a church, where his name shall be known, where his praise shall be heard, as long as the sun and moon endure, from one generation to another. He shall have a seed to serve him; and this seed shall be as incalculable as the dew drops of the morning. There shall be a constant succession of them, declaring, from father to son, his righteousness, unto a people, even his own precious people, which shall be born. And when he writeth them up, it shall be said in Zion, that this and that man was born in her. Oh! precious God and Saviour, thou who now rulest in Zion, show the people of thy doings. Psalms 87:5-6.
READER, where shall we begin, or where end, in our views of the Lord Jesus, as set forth in this most precious scripture? Let us, as we are most bounden, bless our God and Father, for this most gracious gift of his dear Son. Let us, as we are most bounden, bless Jesus, the Son of his love, for the wonders of redemption, and the wonders of his love to us, in thus dying for us, and causing us now to participate in his triumphs. And let us, as we are most bounden, bless and adore God the Holy Ghost, for having raised up prophets in his church, thus to shadow forth to Old Testament Saints the grand features of the Lord Jesus in his humiliation, and the glory that should follow; and hereby to have taught New Testament believers also, the blessings in which both Old and New are all alike equally interested, by the glorious person, and glorious work, of our Lord Jesus Christ. Well may every soul cry out, Blessed be the Lord Jehovah, for Jesus Christ!
But oh, thou precious Redeemer! what praises shall we offer thee now, or what shall we say to thee to all eternity, for thy great undertaking? Never shall we be able to express sufficient thankfulness, for such unparalleled love. And not only, dearest Lord, that thou hast accomplished redemption for us, but that thou didst accomplish it in such a way. Was it not enough, O thou glorious Benefactor of mankind, that thou didst overcome death, and hell, and the grave, for thy redeemed; but that in the vast work thou didst take away even the bitterness of death, for thy people, and didst drink the cup of trembling thyself, even to the dregs, that they might have the cup of salvation? How many of thy redeemed have gone to heaven triumphant, in the merits of thy cross, whilst thou thyself didst die under extreme sorrow? David feared not the valley of the shadow of death, because thou wert with him: and Paul gloried in suffering that thy power might rest upon him: whereas thou, blessed Jesus, didst groan and cry under the pressure of death's pains.
Didst thou, indeed, take all the curse; all the sin, all the load, all the sorrow, on purpose that thy people, in their dying hours, should feel nothing of the sting of sin? Oh, thou Lover of thy people! help me to adore thee, to love thee, to live to thee, and, with thy servant the apostle, always to keep in remembrance that love of thine, which passeth knowledge, that I may be filled with all the fulness of God.
Now, heavenly and triumphant Saviour, hasten thy kingdom. Let thy church bless thee; let all thy redeemed give thanks to thee. Fulfil, Lord, and complete thine own blessed promise: let thy seed forever serve thee on earth, until thou shalt come to call home all thy redeemed to heaven: and the whole church shall be brought into one fold, both Jew and Gentile, and all the nations of the earth shall be converted to the Lord, as the waters cover the earth. Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Psalms 22". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany