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This is altogether a gospel Psalm; and most certainly, from the authority of the Holy Ghost, we may safely conclude that here the Spirit of Christ, which was in the prophets, guided and directed the pen of David to speak of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory which should follow. We have here the Lord Christ described by the prophet, as speaking in his divine office, both as the High Priest and the sacrifice offered to God.
To the chief Musician. A Psalm of David.
I cannot but imagine that we sadly overlook the design of God the Holy Ghost in this most sublime Psalm, when we apply any part or portion of it to David king of Israel. That David was an eminent type of Christ in many instances, there can be no doubt; but never as a sacrifice; and here Christ is represented wholly in that character. Observe how the Psalm opens. Here is the mire and the clay, the wormwood and the gall. And here is the patient sufferer calling out from thence, and still staying himself with humble waitings on his Father. Now who that reads Christ's agony in the garden, and hears his dolorous cry, when his soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death, can look at these things without being struck with the vast similarity? Who that recollects what the apostle hath said concerning Christ, that when in the days of his flesh he offered up strong crying and tears, and was heard in that he feared, can hesitate in concluding that the prediction and the history are one? Hebrews 5:7 .
Was not this the case both with Christ and his church, when Jehovah raised the body of Christ from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might? Ephesians 1:20-49.1.21 . And were not many convinced by the Holy Ghost of the truth as it is in Jesus, brought over to the interest of God and of his Christ, and made followers of God as dear children? Acts 2:41 .
What a blessed testimony is here found in the Old Testament church concerning the whole New Testament dispensation. By him, that is Christ, all that believe are justified from all things. Acts 13:39 . And who is there that doth not feel his whole soul constrained into the same acknowledgment, as is here expressed under a sense of divine mercy; who indeed is able to express the noble acts of the Lord, or show forth all his praise? Psalms 106:2 .
The Holy Ghost would not suffer the church to make her own comment upon this most momentous passage; but by his servant the apostle Paul (Hebrews 10:5-58.10.14 .) hath very fully done it himself; and plainly and decidedly declared that it wholly refers to Christ. Nay, that it is Christ himself speaking these words in his own person. It would form the subject of a volume, rather than the limits of a work like this, to enter at large upon the many blessed and interesting things here spoken of Christ. I must observe shortness. But I pray the Reader to notice how Christ speaks of the inefficacy of all sacrifices but that one which is himself. It is impossible that the blood of bulls and of goats could take away sin; and yet without shedding of blood there is no remission. Somewhat Christ must have therefore to offer, since He is to be the one all-sufficient sacrifice, by which he will forever perfect them that are sanctified. This then being the case, that sacrifice Jehovah did not desire, and yet that this great High Priest must have somewhat to offer, mine ears (saith Christ) hast thou opened, or as the Holy Ghost in the parallel passage expresses it, a body hast thou prepared me. The terms are the same. In the former text the appointment of Christ as Mediator, as servant to Jehovah, in the great work of redemption, is declared by an allusion to a custom in the Jewish church, that when a servant was so attached to his master, and wife, and family, as to determine to remain in his service forever, his ear was to be bored at the door post. See Exodus 21:6 . Hence the prophet Isaiah, Isaiah 50:5 . And in the latter passage by a body being prepared for Christ, is intimated that the hand of God our Father was in all the transaction. It was God who set him forth as a propitiation, through faith in his blood. Romans 3:25 .
Was there ever a scripture more plain and express to testify the appointment of God the Father, and the free consent of the Lord Jesus, in thus giving himself an offering for sin? Yes, blessed Jesus! it might be truly said by thee, as Mediator of thy church, and the husband of it, I love my master, my wife, my children, I will not go out free. And as in this place, when neither burnt-offering nor sacrifice could go a step towards the expiation of sin; then said I, Lo, I come, in the volume of the book it is written of me, to do thy will, O God. Yes! indeed it was written no doubt in the secrets of that book which none was found worthy to open but thyself. It was none but thou, blessed Jesus, that couldest open the book, or proclaim the contents of it; for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood. Revelation 5:2-66.5.9 . I detain the Reader just to remark that the expression, thy law is within my heart, might be rendered thy law is in the midst of my bowels. And indeed so it is rendered in the margin of our old Bibles. By which may be understood that so holy and sanctified was, and is, the whole nature of Christ, that the holy law of God, and the holy nature of Christ, were one and the same. Precious thought to the believer! Reader! do not forget it, Thy Redeemer's nature was altogether pure. And such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens. Hebrews 7:26 .
Reader! do observe two grand things here mentioned. First, Christ is the Preacher of his own gospel. Having performed the office of a priest, he is also the prophet of his church. And secondly, do observe moreover what Christ preached, namely righteousness, God's righteousness. Yes! this was the office to which the Most Holy was to be anointed, when he had finished transgression, and made an end of sin, to bring in an everlasting righteousness, and which righteousness was to be unto all, and upon all them that believe, for there is no difference. Compare Isaiah 61:1 , with Luke 4:18 . Compare Daniel 9:24 , with Romans 3:12 . And how truly lovely is it, when we hear Christ by the spirit of prophecy in this Psalm declaring, that he hath preached it, that he did not hide it in his heart, nor conceal the Father's loving-kindness and truth from his redeemed, both Jew and Gentile, which are the great congregation; and then turn to the gospel, and behold the Lord Jesus, in the days of his flesh, going about preaching salvation, and when returning to glory, giving a commission to his disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Mark 16:15; Mark 16:15 .
Some have thought that these are the words of David king of Israel, speaking in his own person, and seeking for mercy in Christ. But certainly there is no authority for the supposition. No one can think so of what went before. Indeed no one ever hath, because the Holy Ghost himself hath determined that they are the words of Christ, as hath been shown by the parallel passage in Hebrews 10:5 , etc. And as there is not the smallest change of person, but the continuation of the same speaker, and in the same address to Jehovah, it should seem to be a violence to the words, to apply them to David. And wherefore apply them to David. Not surely because the pleader speaks of trouble compassing him about, and his iniquities having taken hold of him. These things, so far from being unsuitable to the holy Jesus, are the very things which we might reasonably suppose he would speak of, and consequently his holy soul would feel most painful. And when we consider that as our surety he bore our sins and carried our sorrows, how very reasonable is it to expect, that these cries of the Son of God should be at the very time in which he is set forth as a sacrifice for them. Yes, blessed Jesus! to, my view it is sweet, it is precious; it is just what a poor sinner like myself would find comfort and encouragement in, the beholding the Son of God borne down with sins not his own, and groaning under a pressure which would have crushed all the angels of light, if they had taken it upon them. Oh how lovely is Christ in this appearance! Surely the very name is as ointment poured forth to my soul! Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us. Galatians 3:13 .
See, Reader, with what confidence Jesus beholds the travail of his soul. His enemies, and the enemies of his church, must be destroyed. This is in the covenant. I will beat down his foes before his face, and plague them that hate him, Psalms 89:23 . And, Reader, never fail to connect with this victory of Jesus, the sure conquest of his people over all their enemies. Read two promises only, out of numbers which might be brought, in Mark 16:17-41.16.18 , and Romans 16:20 .
My soul! here look at Jesus with a steady fixed eye, until thou goest forth with all the affections of love, praise, thanksgiving, and every testimony of obedience, after him, and unto him, who so loved thee, as to give himself for thee, an offering and a sacrifice to God of a sweet smelling savour!
Blessings be everlastingly given by all the redeemed on earth and in heaven, to God the Holy Ghost, for this sweet scripture, explained as it is to the church in another scripture, by which we are enabled, without the possibility of a mistake, to discover to whom the whole applies. We thank thee, O thou blessed Spirit of all truth, for thus glorifying the Lord Christ to our view, and we beseech thee to supply us here below with continual grace, that we may see Christ our beloved thus sweetly set forth as a propitiation through faith in his blood. Here would my soul say, as oft as I look to the cross of Christ, here is every poor sinner's strong hold, here is his sure, his only hope. When neither sacrifice nor burnt-offering would atone, Jesus came to take away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
Blessings be everlastingly given by all the redeemed on earth and in heaven to God the Father, for his unequalled love in the gift of his dear Son. Yes! most gracious God and Father, the holy Church, both in grace and glory, adores thee, not only for raising up this holy One mighty to save, but for setting him apart and constituting him our glorious Head, whereby he hath borne our sins, and through thy gracious appointment his righteousness is ours, and thou, even thou thyself, hast said that this is the name whereby he shall be called, 'The Lord our righteousness.'
And blessings be everlastingly given by all the redeemed on earth and in heaven to thee, thou holy, blessed, precious Jesus, for thy merciful, kind, and compassionate undertaking. And when neither the blood of bulls nor goats, nor the sacrifices on a thousand altars, could atone for our guilt, thou camest full of grace and love, and by the one offering of thyself, hast forever perfected them that are sanctified!
Hail! holy, blessed, gracious, undivided Three in One, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! May all the redeemed below praise thee, in the same strain of adoration as the church above, until both churches join in one to celebrate the glories of redemption in an unceasing hymn of love and thanksgiving through all eternity. Amen, Hallelujah, Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Psalms 40". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent