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Thursday, July 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 22

The Biblical IllustratorThe Biblical Illustrator

Verses 1-31

Psalms 22:1-31

My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?

The prophetic image of the Prince of sufferers

Who is the sufferer whose wail is the very voice of desolation and despair, and who yet dares to believe that the tale of his sorrow will be a gospel for the world? The usual answers are given. The title ascribes the authorship to David, and is accepted by Delitzsch and others. Hengstenberg and his followers see in the picture the ideal righteous man. Others think of Hezekiah or Jeremiah, with whose prophecies and history there are many points of connection. The most recent critics find here the personalised genius of Israel, or more precisely, the followers of Nehemiah, including the large-hearted Psalmist. (Cheyne, Orig. of Psalt., 264.) On any theory of authorship the startling correspondence of the details of the Psalmist’s sufferings with those of the Crucifixion has to be accounted for. How startling that correspondence is, both in the number and minuteness of its points, need not be insisted on. The recognition of these points in the Psalm as prophecies is one thing, the determination of their relation to the Psalmist’s own experience is quite another. It is taken for granted in many quarters that every such detail in prophecy must describe the writer’s own circumstances, and the supposition that they may transcend these is said to be “psychologically impossible.” But it is somewhat hazardous for those who have not been subjects of prophetic inspiration to lay down canons of what is possible and impossible in it, and there are examples enough to prove that the relation of the prophets’ speech to their consciousness and circumstances was singularly complex, and not to be unravelled by any such obiter dicta as to psychological possibilities. They were recipients of messages, and did not always understand what the “spirit of Christ which was in them did signify.” Theories which neglect that aspect of the case do not front all the facts. Certainty as to the authorship of this Psalm is probably unattainable. How far its words fitted the condition of the singer must therefore remain unsettled. But that these minute and numerous correspondences are more than coincidences it seems perverse to deny. The present writer, for one, sees shining through the shadowy personality of the Psalmist the figure of the Prince of sufferers, and believes that whether the former’s plaints applied in all their particulars to him, or whether there is in them a certain “element of hyperbole” which becomes simple fact in Jesus’s sufferings, the Psalm is a prophecy of Him and them. In the former case the Psalmist’s experience, in the latter case his utterances, were divinely shaped so as to prefigure the sacred sorrows of the Man of Sorrows. To a reader who shares in this understanding of the Psalm it must be holy ground, to be trodden reverently and with thoughts adoringly fixed on Jesus. Cold analysis is out of place. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Summary of contents

The exclamation from the Cross--“My God,” etc., led us to consider the Lord Jesus as our Surety, standing at His Father’s judgment seat, and, conscious of innocence, inquiring what new charge was laid against Him to cause this new and most severe affliction, the hiding of His Father’s countenance. We concluded that one reason why our Lord so earnestly cried to His Father was that He might ascribe to Him the glory of His deliverance, being unwilling to appropriate it to Himself by any exertion of His own power. And we found that the whole verse comprised three inquiries, to which we conceived these to be appropriate answers--First, Why hast Thou forsaken Me? Because Thou art bearing the sins of the world. Second, Why art Thou so far from helping Me? That the victory may be altogether Thine own. And third, Why art Thou so far from the words of My roaring? That Thou mayest learn all the required obedience by the things which Thou art suffering. We perceived that our Lord, in continuing His supplications, complained to His Father, but would not complain against Him; and that He fully acquitted Him of unkindness or injustice, by subjoining this filial and beautiful acknowledgment, “But Thou continuest holy.” In the fulness of His sorrow our Lord next contrasted His own experience with that of the Father’s, whose prayers were heard, and whose expectations were not confounded. He denominated Himself a worm, allied by His human nature to the meanest part of the creation--a crimson-coloured worm, covered with the imputed guilt of men, and He regarded Himself as “no man”; neither what man is by sin, nor what man was intended to be by his Creator. Our Lord’s life in the flesh, we saw, might be illustrated by the heathen doctrine of metempsychosis; for He brought the recollections of the world of glory into this state of being; and therefore human life must have appeared, to His eyes, infinitely more mean, wretched, and loathsome than we can possibly conceive. We were next led to contemplate the enumerated mental sufferings of our much-tried Lord--the reproaches with which He was assailed, the mockery by which He was insulted, and the taunts which wounded His spirit to the quick. In the 9th and 10th verses we considered that pathetic and touching appeal which our dying Redeemer made to the heart of His Father, arguing from the helplessness of His infancy to the helplessness of His manhood; and casting the latter upon that paternal care which had provided for the former. We perceived how earnestly our Lord followed up this appeal with renewed entreaty for His Father’s presence, expressing this great and only desire of His heart in these words, “Be not far from Me.” The corporeal sufferings of the Man of Sorrows were next brought to our notice. The assault and encompassing of His enemies on every side was the first particularised; where also we considered the assaults of Satanic hosts upon the spirit of our Lord. Consequent on this assault succeeded universal faintness over His frame, complete languor and an extreme exhaustion, with intense and burning thirst. The piercing of our Lord’s sacred body, in His hands and feet, was then considered, and the lingering death by crucifixion was described. Extended on the Cross, the emaciated state of the Saviour’s worn-out frame was exposed to view, and all His bones might be told. In this condition He was subjected to the insulting gaze of the multitude. The soldiers also seized every article of His clothing; they parted His garments among them, and cast lots upon His vesture. Urged by these various and sore afflictions, and desiring with intense anxiety to enjoy again before He died the light and peace of His Father’s presence, our blessed Saviour, in the next three verses, prayed with the most vehement importunity for a speedy and immediate answer. And whilst He was yet praying His Father granted His petition. Light dawned upon His soul. Darkness was dispelled from the face of nature, and from the heart of the Redeemer. And, as though issuing from a kind of spiritual death, and enjoying a spiritual resurrection, our Divine Surety exclaimed, “Thou hast heard Me.” Importunity prevailed with God. The whole tone of feeling and sentiment in the Psalm becomes changed from this verse. Gratitude and thanksgiving occupy all the remaining portion. The Saviour, as it were, from the Cross, invited the members of His Church to join His eucharistic song He prospectively beheld the conversion of the world and the establishment of His own glorious kingdom. And the Psalm represents the Saviour as solacing His dying spirit, in the midst of His enemies, with the assurance of a holy and numerous seed, who should be counted to Him for a posterity. He heard, as it were, from His Cross, the song of the redeemed. (John Stevenson.)

The great Sufferer and His relief

This Psalm sets forth the last extremity of human suffering, yet without any confession of sin, and closes with the sure hope of deliverance. We consider it an idealised description of the great Sufferer.

The complaint (Psalms 22:1-10). The cry with which the Psalm opens is not an utterance of impatience or despair, but of grief and entreaty. It is the question of faith as well as of anguish. The second line suggests the great chasm between His outcry and the help He implores. God stands afar off, i.e. withholds His help. In the olden times the fathers trusted, and were not put to shame; why is the present case made an exception? It is such, for instead of being helped He is left to be reproached and despised; all the spectators join in derision. But faith turns the mock, cry of foes into an argument for deliverance.

The prayer against violence (Psalms 22:11-21). Having shown that He was justified in expecting Divine aid, He now shows that the necessity for it exists, It was no time for God to be far off, when distress was so near and there was no other helper. The figures that follow are taken from pastoral life.

The expression of thanks and hope (Psalms 22:22-31). The Sufferer’s certainty of deliverance is shown by His intention to give thanks for it. This will be done, not in private, but before the whole nation The experience here recorded, alike of sorrows and of joy, far transcends anything which we have reason to think that David passed through. (Talbot W. Chambers, D. D.)

A picture of suffering sainthood

The prayer of such sufferer. In Him who was “the Man of Sorrows” it finds its chief fulfilment.

1. The sufferings; they are--

(i) Spiritual, through feeling of God’s desertion of Him (Matthew 27:46). In regard to Christ, it was not a fact that God had deserted Him, but He felt as if it were so. And of God’s disregard of His prayer (Psalms 22:2).

(ii) Social, for the Sufferer was the victim of social contempt (Psalms 22:6), and cruelty: “they pierced,” etc. (Psalms 22:16), and He tells of the physical effect of all this (Psalms 22:14; Psalms 22:17).

2. The supplications; in which note--

(i) The character in which God is addressed--“holy” (Psalms 22:3). The God of His “fathers” (Psalms 22:4), and of His earliest life (Psalms 22:9).

(ii) The object for which He is addressed,--that God would come to Him (Psalms 22:11; Psalms 22:19), and that God would deliver Him (Psalms 22:20).

(iii) The earnestness with which He is addressed (Psalms 22:1-2).

The relief given. See this set forth in Psalms 22:22 onwards. Its results were--

1. The celebration of the Divine goodness (Psalms 22:22; Psalms 22:24).

2. The conversion of the world to the true God (Psalms 22:27). This shall be through

(i) men remembering and turning unto the Lord. And

(ii) because the kingdom is, etc. (Psalms 22:28). And

(iii) it shall be complete, including all nations, classes, and conditions.

3. The celebration of His religion to the end of time (Psalms 22:30-31). Not only is there a time to come when the whole generation shall be converted, but all the generations following shall celebrate His praise. (D. Thomas, D. D.)

The withdrawal of God’s sustaining presence from the Divine Son

So far, in this Psalm, we have had described to us the mental sufferings of Christ on the Cross; His physical sufferings and His final triumph are set forth in the portion of the Psalm yet to be explained. His mental sufferings were caused by the withdrawal of His Father’s sustaining presence, and the reproaches of His enemies. The two united pressed His spirit with a weight of woe such as none besides have ever experienced sustained by His Father, as He had always hitherto been, He no doubt could have endured the reproaches of men without complaint; but when His Father withdraws His sustaining presence there bursts from His riven heart the agonised cry, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Why has the Father Almighty forsaken His only begotten Son? For our sakes. For no sin of His Son, but for our sins the Father forsook Him. It was as our surety and substitute that Messiah felt in His soul the wrath of God against sin. He had taken the sinner’s place, to endure the wrath of God due to the sinner’s sin; and the Father Almighty could not spare His Son and save the sinner. One or the other must die; and God so loved the world that He gave His Son. He forsook His Son that He might not forsake us. Again, the Father Almighty forsook His Son that the Son’s victory over death and hell might be altogether His own victory--His own as man, sustained by simple faith in God. It was the Father’s purpose to discomfit Satan by the very same nature over which he had triumphed in Eden. Accordingly a holy human nature sustained by faith in God, was the Saviour’s only protection and defence in the final conflict. God the Father has left Him, God the Spirit has left Him, and He has also renounced all reliance on His own God-like power to aid Him, so that He stands before His enemies having, as His only weapon of defence, what Adam had in Eden, a holy human nature to be sustained by simple trust in God. A holy human nature, sustained by faith alone, was the weapon with which the first Adam should have conquered Satan; a holy human nature, sustained by faith alone, was the weapon with which the second Adam did conquer Satan. He used no other weapon to gain Him the victory on Calvary, than that which Adam had in Eden. He withstood the onset made upon His holy will and nature, only because His faith in God was steadfast unto the end. And God left Him to Himself, to prove to Satan and the world that a pure heart, sustained by an unwavering faith, is a match, and more than a match, for every assault that can be made upon it. What a thought is this for the soul to rest upon. (David Caldwell, A. M.)

Christ forsaken of His Father

How are we to interpret these awful words?

1. Not the cry of a mere martyr.

2. Not wrung from Him by agony of body, but by anguish of soul.

Why this cry of anguish?

1. His disciples had forsaken Him, but it was not for that. God had forsaken Him. Christ was hanging there as our Surety and Substitute.

2. No other way of explaining this cry. This does explain it. Conflicting attributes in the Godhead to be harmonised before man could be accepted and forgiven. God found a way to reconcile them in the work and suffering of Christ.

Learn from this cry--

1. The true nature of Christ’s death--a ransom, an atonement.

2. The evil of sin, and how God abhors it.

3. The greatness of God’s love, and how we may obtain His mercy. (W. Pakenham Walsh, D. D.)

The saint forsaken in what sense

Sometimes God takes away from a Christian His comforting presence, but never His sustaining presence. You know the difference between sunshine and daylight. We have often daylight but little sunlight. A Christian has Gods daylight in his soul when he may not have sunlight; that is, he has enough to light him, but not enough to cheer and comfort him. Never was Jesus so forsaken as when He cried, My God, My God, etc., and yet was He never so strengthened by God’s sustaining presence, for angels were at His service to minister to Him if He needed their ministry. (J. Cumming.)

Forsaken of God, but not finally

Did you ever read that Christ did finally forsake a man in whose heart and soul He still did leave His goods, furniture, and spiritual household stuff? A man sometimes goes from home, and sometimes he does not quite leave his home. There is much difference between these two. If a man leave his home and come no more, then he carries away all his goods; and when you see them carried away you say, “This man will come no more. But though a man ride a great journey, yet he may come again;” and you say, “Surely he will come again.” Why? Because still his goods, wife, and children are in his house; so, though Christ be long absent, yet if His household stuff abide in the heart--if there be the same desires after Him and delight in Him, you may say, “Surely He will come again.” When did Christ ever forsake a man in whose heart He left this spiritual furniture? (S. Bridge.)

Verse 2

Psalms 22:2

O my God, I cry in the daytime, but Thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.

Why so many prayers art unanswered

Our prayers often fail of success--

Because of want of faith. There are a multitude of prayers offered to God with something like this feeling: “Well, perhaps God will hear and answer; perhaps not. At any rate, I may as well pray; and if the answer comes, well: if not, I at least have done my duty.” Now, such a feeling as this, though it be not positive infidelity, is so near to it as to be most offensive to God, and can only bring forth His severe displeasure. The matter of prayer is one thing, the manner of prayer is another. If the manner of presenting our prayer is right, and the matter wrong, then, of course, will it miscarry. If the matter is right and the manner wrong, the prayer is likewise fruitless of good.

Because we evince a practical unbelief in God’s ability to grant us our requests. We act as if probabilities affected God as they do us: we measure His ability by our own. We do not remember that “with God nothing is impossible.”

The indulgence of some one or more known sins. Do we not read, “If I regard iniquity in my heart the Lord will not hear me.” To pray, and yet to commit wilful sin, or still to pursue a course of secret or open iniquity, is not only mocking God with lip service, but is also acting with hypocrisy, professing one thing but doing another. A praying spirit and a sinning heart cannot dwell together.

Remissness in the performance of our Christian duty. This tendency in the minds of many to divorce prayer from all the instrumentalities which God has connected with its being answered is one fruitful source of evil, and a cause why so many prayers are uttered in vain. To illustrate this: suppose that you are threatened with shipwreck--the storm rages fearfully, the vessel is dashed upon the rocks and is broken up, every hope of escape seems gone, and in the extremity of your distress you cry unto God to save you from this threatened death! But how do you expect He will save you?--by a miracle?--by bearing you through the air and landing you safely on the shore? Or do you not rather look for an answer to your prayer by means of human agency, and by physical and natural instrumentality?--by a lifeboat, by a cable fastened to the rock, by the buoying up of some part of the wreck until it is washed upon the beach. And suppose that, having prayed to God for succour, you yet refuse to use the instrumentality which, in answer to your prayer, He has furnished for your safety. You decline to get into the lifeboat, or object to be drawn ashore by a rope, or will not commit yourself to some means provided for your escape: can you be saved? God answered your prayer, not by giving you instantaneously the end desired, but by giving you means adequate to secure that end; and if you refused the means you could not expect the end. So with spiritual blessings. God answers us through the instrumentality of duties; and we find the end we desire when we use the means He has enjoined. Another reason why our prayers are not answered is--

Because we do not persevere in prayer. One other way in which we ask and receive not, because we ask amiss, is--

By asking things which do not accord with God’s purposes of discipline or mercy. We must not forget the great truth, that God uses this world as a school of discipline, to fit us for a holier state above. In this state trials, disappointments, etc., are the necessary instruments whereby our souls are purged and fitted for heaven. Yet we often pray that God would relieve us from this trial, that He would exempt us from this threatened affliction; but in His infinite wisdom He knows that to grant these requests would be productive of evil rather than good, as it is “in the furnace of affliction” that God often chooses His saints, and “through much tribulation that they enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Bishop Stevens.)

Prayers which are not answered

They that have conduit water come into their houses, if no water come they do not conclude the spring to be dry, but the pipes to be stopped or broken. If prayer speed not, we must be sure that the fault is not in God, but in ourselves; were we but ripe for mercy, He is ready to extend it to us, and even waits for the purpose. (John Trapp.)

Verse 3

Psalms 22:3

But Thou art holy, O Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.

A habitation of God

There is ordinarily something like a proportion maintained between the power of a monarch and the splendour of his palace. If you visit countries you will generally find that the mightier the king and the more extended his sway the more sumptuous are the royal residences. And the criterion is altogether a just one; for we have a full right to expect that the residence of the monarch will be a kind of index of his might; that in proportion to the largeness of his revenues and the extent of his dominion will be the magnificence of architecture and the richness of decoration which distinguish his mansion from those of his subjects. The house is, indeed, in most cases throughout society, the sign of the means of its inhabitant; it grows loftier than before, and is furnished in a more costly style as a man advances in the world and gathers to himself more of opulence and influence. There will be exceptions to every such rule; but these will ordinarily be in cases of meanness and penuriousness. But there is a King whose empire is all space, and whose subjects all that breathe. What shall be a fitting palace for Him? How shall the rule we have laid down be proved applicable in the instance of our Maker? It must fail, because nothing, oven of His own workmanship, can bear any proportion with Him. Solomon said, “The heaven, even the heaven of heavens, cannot contain Thee.” And when we go on to speak of churches, we are compelled to finish Solomon’s sentence and say, “How much less this house which I have built.” And yet as that temple, so churches may be properly styled--houses of God. He abides in them as He abides not in any other structure. And they ought to be beautiful. It is no good sign when palaces are more and more costly, and churches less and less noble. If God is to have a house at all, that house should be the noblest that we have the power of rearing; bearing such proportion as our ability can effectuate, to the greatness of the Being who is to show Himself within its walls. Otherwise, if our churches be inferior to our other structures, less splendid in design, less rich in architecture, we give the strongest of all possible proofs that we are less disposed to do honour to God than to ourselves; that we think the “curtains” good enough for the ark, and reserve the “cedar” for our own habitation. It was not thus with our ancestors, whom we are ready enough to accuse of superstition, but in whom there must have been better and loftier feelings. Witness the cathedrals which yet crest our land; mightier and more sumptuous, as they ought to be, than even our palaces. Tell me not that a mere dark superstition actuated the men who designed and executed these sublime edifices. The long-drawn aisles, the fretted reels, the dim recesses, the soaring spires, all witness that the architect had grand thoughts of God, and strove to embody them in combinations of the wood and the stone, even as the poet his conceptions in the melodies of verse, or the orator his in the majesty of eloquence. It is a cold and withered piety which catches no inspiration from the structure. And there must, we believe, have been lofty and ardent piety in those who could plan structures that thus seem to furnish instances of their piety to successive generations. The cathedral, with its awe-inciting vastness, its storied windows, its mellowed light, its deepened shadows, appears to me like the rich volume of some old divine: I gather from the work the mind of the author, and it is a mind which has grown great in musing upon God. But we have another cathedral to throw open before you, another dwelling place of Deity, not builded up of the stars which God originally wrought into His pavilion, nor yet of the marble and the cedar, which we ourselves may work into sumptuous edifices. Listen to our text. How is God therein addressed? “O Thou, that inhabitest the praises of Israel.” It is the Lord Jesus Christ who speaks, and He it is who directs attention to the structure, declaring that it has not only been reared, but is actually inhabited by God. For though “Israel” be only the Church, and every member of that Church have been born in sin and “shapen in iniquity,” I find no less a Being than the Redeemer Himself, and that too in His last moments, when trial was before Him in all its severity, addressing His Father as “Thou who inhabitest the praises of Israel.” Now, is there any proportion here between the house and the inhabitant? Here is a cathedral built of human praises. Why should it be a cathedral in any sense worthy of God, or one within which God might be expected to dwell? You tell me that very rich and acceptable must be the thanksgiving of angels; burning and beautiful creatures, who spend existence in magnifying the Being by whom it was bestowed. Who doubts it! But they have only to thank God for creation. Their praise must be like that of Adam, whilst he was yet in innocence, and paradise in loveliness; whose morning and evening hymn spoke glowingly of a glorious Benefactor. And I can thank God for creation. The angel’s song is mine, though mine belongs not to the angel. But I have to thank God for more than creation, for more than life. I have to thank Him for a second creation, for life out of death; and angels must yield to me here. If, then, sanctuaries are to be builded of praise, who shall be the architects of that in which Deity may be most expected to take up His abode? Behold the structures. Yonder is that which unfallen creatures are roaring; and very noble and brilliant is the fabric. How lofty those columns, which are formed out of anthems that commemorate the inaccessible majesties of Godhead! How solemn those dim recesses, where mention is made of the mysteries of the Divine nature! How rich that roof, which is wrought out of melodies which hymn the goodness of the universal Parent! But now turn to that which fallen creatures build. It is based on the “Rock of Ages”; the sure foundation stone, which God Himself laid in Zion. And its walls, what are they but the celebration of attributes, which would have been comparatively hidden if not discovered in redemption? Its pillars, what but song upon song, each witnessing to perfections which could not show themselves in an unstained creation! Its aisles, what but prolonged choruses, telling out, till lost in the depths of eternity, the marvels of a work which even cherubim and seraphim had failed to imagine! And what its domes, its pinnacles, its spires, but soaring notes which bear aloft the stupendous truth, that He who is to everlasting could die, and that He who was from everlasting could be born; that God became man, and that man may now rise into fellowship with God! Ah! this is the cathedral. This could never have been built had not God come out from the secrecies of His magnificence, and thrown open depths in Himself which the most penetrating intelligence could never have explored. There is not a stone in this which may not be said to have been hewn by Himself out of the unfathomable mine of His perfections; there is not a niche which is not filled with a brighter image of Deity than the universe could have furnished had there never been transgression; there is not an altar on which burns not a more brilliant fire than could have been kindled had not the flame of God’s wrath against sin been quenched in the blood of God’s only begotten Son. And Christ, as He hung upon the Cross and contemplated the effects of the work which He was then bringing to a close, must have looked on wondrous structures, each of loftiest architecture and splendid ornament--the regenerated earth, the universe no longer defiled by one dark spot; but He knew that His work was to be preeminently illustrious, and the source of the highest glory of all to our Creator. Upon this, therefore, might He be expected to fasten; and though all orders of being were before Him, eager to build their Maker a house--angel and archangel, from whose swelling choir started, as by enchantment, a thousand ethereal temples--who shall marvel that He selected us the feeble, us the sinful, and knowing that He was making us “heirs of God,” yea, “joint heirs with Himself,” left us to rear a sanctuary which should be more honoured than any other; addressing Himself thus with His dying breath to His Father--“O Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel”? (H. Melvill, B. D.)

Verse 4

Psalms 22:4

Our fathers trusted in Thee.

The God of our fathers.
A sermon to young men

The age in which we live is an enlightened age. And no man is bound to be religious for no better reason than that his father was religious before him. With advancing light and knowledge great changes are coming, or have already come. But how far do such things affect our attitude and utterance like those of the text? Offer first one or two regulative thoughts.

1. It is only right and fair to remember that the great facts of human nature and of human life with which religion has to do remain substantially the same throughout the ages. In the great matters of essential religion, in the main, no one age is more favoured than another. “Our fathers’” disease is our disease; and may not “our fathers’” cure be our cure?

2. Scepticism and unbelief are not new. It is ignorance of the history of unbelief that makes modern unbelief, to many minds, so formidable. Scepticism may change its form,--now the light raillery of a Voltaire, now the learning and logical acumen of a Hume, now the bitter wail of a Mill,--but it is one thing, one principle, one substance. Every age has its sceptic, or its sceptics. It looks almost as if Almighty God permitted them that, intellectually, the Church might be kept from going to sleep.

3. Science is doing grand things today. Her beneficent step is heard almost everywhere. But physical science is comparatively young. And you know the characteristic defects of youth. It is headstrong and impatient, and often irreverent.

It is sometimes not over reticent, even on matters concerning which it cannot form reliable judgments I now speak on “the claims of the religion of our fathers.”

1. It was “our fathers’.” That the sires trusted in God is a very sufficient reason why the sons should hesitate, and hesitate long, before they reach the grave conclusion that there is no God, or that if there be He cannot be trusted because He cannot be known. One of the healthiest facts of human nature and of human life has ever been that spirit of reverence for the past which links generation to generation, and practically makes the race one. We Englishmen are by no means destitute of this fine sentiment.

2. Our fathers proved it. What is the testimony borne by honest men who have preceded us? It is that the religion of Jesus is a grand reality and not a human dream; that the Bible contains a Divine and all-satisfying revelation of God; that it is not a fabrication or an imposture; that the heart of man is weary till it find rest in Christ; that there is such rest in Christ; that in the Cross of the Crucified One there is hope for all, comfort for all, heaven for all! And how are we asked to receive that testimony Some would have us believe that it is untrustworthy. Surely “our fathers” were not mere intellectual weaklings? What are we to say of the testimony they bore? We will go long before we speak ill, or listen with patience to ill spoken, of the bridge which bore them over!

3. They died in the faith of it. For me, I believe in the “God of my fathers.” I believe in the religion of my fathers. I will take the liberty of expressing it in forms suited to the spirit and the habits of thought of the age in which we live; but the essential Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ I keep. (J. Thew.)

Gods faithfulness to ancient saints good ground for trust and hope

Those who look upon this Psalm as having a primary reference to the King of Israel attribute great beauty to these words, from the very pleasing conjecture that David was, at the time of composing them, sojourning at Mahanaim, where Jacob, in his distress, wrestled with the angel and obtained such signal blessings. That, in a place so greatly hallowed by associations of the past, he should make his appeal to the God of his fathers, was alike the dictate of patriarchal feeling and religion. (John Morison.)

Strong warrant for trust

Our hope is not hung upon such untwisted thread as “I imagined so” or “it is likely,” but the cable, the strong hope of our fastened anchor, is the oath and promise of Him who is eternal verity; our salvation is fastened with God’s own hand and Christ’s own strength to the strong stake of God’s unchanging nature. (S. Rutherford.)

Verse 8

Psalms 22:8

He trusted on the Lord that He would deliver him.

Faith among mockers

David experienced “cruel mockings.” The flesh may not be cut, but the heart may be torn. But text tells of the Lord Jesus. David knew reproach but in small measure compared with Him. It is the common heritage of the godly. But--

Their trust in God is known. Hence we learn--

1. Our trust in God should be apparent, manifest, public. That in Christ which revealed it was His wonderful calmness. We ought distinctly to avow our trust, life man has a right to be a secret believer.

2. Our general conduct should reveal our faith. If I trust the Lord about my soul I must trust Him about my body, wife, children, and all my affairs.

3. This trust should come out most distinctly in times of trouble. For then it is our adversaries are most likely to notice it. In bereavements, business troubles. Let the possession of godliness tell its own tale, the spikenard its own fragrance.

The world does not understand this trust. Our Lord’s enemies restricted His trust to the point of His being delivered. But--

1. Our faith is not confined to merely receiving from God. We must not live and wait upon God merely with a cupboard love.

2. Nor to what men call deliverance. Our Lord trusted still, though the cup did not pass from Him. The blind world cannot understand this. They say, like their father, “Doth Job serve God for nought?” And--

3. Our faith is not tied to time. Christ’s enemies thought that if the Lord did not deliver Him then, His trust would be proved a folly. But it is not so. We may not be delivered from our distresses tonight, nor tomorrow, nor next month; it may be for years. We do not tie God down to conditions, but we trust Him all the same.

4. Nor will it judge at all by present circumstances. How wrongly the world judged of Christ when it judged of Him by His sorrows.

This true faith will, in all probability, be mocked at some time or other.

1. Some men scoff at faith itself. It is an honour to have one’s name written up on such an Arch of Triumph as that of Hebrews 11:1-40. But many think it no honour at all. They hold faith to be a folly of weak minds.

2. Others, at the very idea of Divine interposition. “Look,” they say, “he fancies that God will deliver him; as if the Creator had not something else to do besides looking after him, poor miserable that he is!” They believe in laws, they say, irreversible, immutable laws, that grind in like the great cogs of a machine which, when once they are set in motion, tear everything to pieces that comes in their way.

3. And some mock at all kinds of faith in the Divine love. How the world rages against electing love! The heathen could not make out a certain brave saint because he called himself Theophorus, or “God bearer”; but he stuck to it that he was so, though they hated him all the more.

4. Some find amusement in the trials involved in the life of faith. Their cry, “Let Him deliver him,” implies that their victim was in serious difficulty, but that was only sport to them. Such mocking is a part of the covenanted heritage.

The time shall come when our trust shall be abundantly justified.

1. It is no small thing to have the ungodly bearing witness. “He trusted in God.” It helps one to believe that he is really God’s child.

2. Another justification will come when God shall deliver His people. That day will come. Dives sees Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom: what a sight for him. At the last great day ungodly men will witness for the saints. They will have to own, “They did trust, for we mocked them for it.” But whether men mock or praise, we trust in God. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Verses 9-10

Psalms 22:9-10

Thou art He that took me out of the womb.

David’s acknowledgment of God’s goodness

1. He takes notice of common mercies. Such mercies as most men are partakers of. To come safe and sound into the world, and to be persuaded and sustained in it, they are such things as most men have allotted and vouchsafed unto them. But there are very few who are sensible of common mercies,--such is the corruption of our nature and our base ingratitude.

2. He acknowledges ancient mercies. He remembers those mercies which another would have forgotten. The mercies of his infancy and childhood and younger years. We should remember both temporal and spiritual mercies.

3. He remembers primitive or original mercies. Those mercies which he had at first, in the very entrance or beginning of his life when he first came into the world, and were likewise the ground and foundation of all the rest. It is with mercies as with judgments, one makes way for another, and the first is so much the more considerable as it induces and brings in the rest.

4. He takes notice of constant mercies. Those which were continued to him from the first moment of his being till now, through the whole course of his life to this present. He takes notice of the goodness of God to him in the full latitude and extent of it. See now the specification of the several particulars.

(1) The blessings of the womb, in his birth and first coming into the world.

(2) The blessings of the breast, in his nursery and first sustentation in the world.

(3) The blessing of the cradle, in the tutelary care of his orphanage and desolate condition.

(4) The blessings of the covenant, in the continued and mutual interest which he had in God and God in him. (T. Horton, D. D.)

Thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts.--

On the nature and influence of hope

To a contemplative mind nothing will suggest more powerful inducements, perhaps, for adoring the wisdom and the goodness of God than a distinct consideration of the many faculties, passions, and propensities with which a human creature is furnished. Exposed to various evils; encompassed with manifold infirmities; subject to pain and labour, to poverty, disease, and death, we might soon feel life a burden unless there were some pervading principle which seems to connect us with futurity, and bids us forget our past calamities and our present sorrows in the bright prospects that are to come. Hence by the goodness of God we are all possessed of that lasting and universal passion, Hope. Now let us consider--

Its nature and influence. It enters largely into every man’s system of happiness, whether they be prosperous or afflicted. It is the spring of men’s conduct, the end of their life. It keeps his soul alive within him, invigorates his faculties, purifies his passions, and directs the exertions both of his mind and body to their proper objects.

By what principles to regulate it. A passion so general, and that has such an influence on the sum of life, cannot be too carefully regulated nor disciplined to its proper objects. In this, as in most other cases of moral and religious duty, the folly and the danger of extremes should be avoided. The happy medium, which we should all labour to attain on the present occasion, lies equally remote from silly and extravagant expectations,--from sluggish indifference and helpless despondency, or the dead calm of insensibility. The one is apt to lead to every kind of excess, and to end in misery and disappointment; the other disqualifies us for fulfilling the duties of life, and is, in fact, the destruction or subversion of every virtue.

The objects to which it should be directed. These are to be found in the blessed future world. (J. Hewlett, B. D.)

The meaning of hope as an instinct of the soul

The text is a strong figure intended to express the idea that hope is an inbred sentiment of the soul. The body, it is true, may exist without the eye, but in a very incomplete state. And there are emaciated souls, souls with deadened senses and broken faculties. But hope is yet an instinct keeping the face of the soul ever towards the future. Now, this instinct--

Implies the goodness of God in the constitution of our nature. For it is one of the chief blessings of humanity.

1. It is one of the most powerful impulses to action.

2. It is one of the chief elements of support under trial. Hope buoys us up beneath the load; gives us a steady anchorage amid the fiercest surgings of the storm.

3. It is a source of joy. The joys of memory and the pleasures of the passing hour are not to be compared with the joys of hope.

Suggests a future state of existence. It may not prove such existence, but it does much in that direction. For--

1. Analogy supports it. All our senses and appetites have provision made for them--light for the eye, sounds for the ear, etc. And so in our social relations.

2. The Divine goodness leads to belief in it.

Means that progress in blessedness is the law of our being. Hope points not only to the future, but to good in the future.

Shows the fitness of Christianity to human nature. For--

1. It reveals eternal blessedness; and--

2. Supplies means of its attainment which are both soul pacifying and purifying.

Indicates the congruity of the religious life with our nature. Therefore, if we quench this hope midnight reigns; and sin tends to do this. (D. Thomas, D. D.)

Verse 11

Psalms 22:11

Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.

Help in trouble

In this Psalm “a greater than David is here,” even Christ. You cannot pay a visit to Calvary, while reading this Psalm, without being struck wire the record as giving a history of what subsequently took place in the sufferings and agony of our Lord.

First of all, let us look at the principle laid down--a mountains; yet when we approach them we find them to be mole hills, which we can easily step over with a little exercise of faith. But our precious Lord foreboded nothing but what He knew was near and would come to pass, and therefore when He cried out, “Father, save Me from this hour, He immediately adds, “For this cause came I to this hour”; as if He withdrew the petition and would not escape the sorrow. But mark the most prominent feature of His distress was distress of soul. When we look at the fact that Divine wrath lay heavily upon His soul we wonder not that He cried out, “Now am I troubled.” And so there is distress of soul of which His disciples are the subjects.

1. In their first awakenings.

2. In their after conflicts.

3. But it is never, to the believer, judicial punishment as it was with Jesus. It was Divine wrath that lay upon Him.

4. And there were external assaults. The powers of darkness were let loose. His Church must expect the like. The world and the Church cannot agree, unless the Church will compromise her dignity, her purity, her spirituality, and cringe to the world’s carnal pursuits and carnal religion; then they may go on pretty well, hand in hand; but the curse of God will rest upon them both. A Christianity that brings you out from the world will be sure to bring upon you Satan’s rage and fiery darts and the world’s scorn. May you be able to make Moses choice, and choose “rather to suffer affliction with,” etc. Jesus told you it would be thus. “Marvel not if the world hate you.”

5. And the Church has yet another trouble near.

The appalling fact. “There is none to help.” Now this, so far as Christ is concerned, is a peculiar mercy. For if any had been with Him they would have shared the honour. And for us, too, it is often well that there should be none to help, for if there were we would turn to them and not to God.

The concentration of our expectations. For when all help is gone elsewhere there comes the cry, “Be not Thou far from me.” Oh! we live too low, we cleave to earth too much; but when we can soar, and mount as on eagles’ wings, gaze on the sun, and enjoy the smiling countenance of our covenant God, our troubles then are mere mole hills; if we look down on them at all we can hardly see them. (Joseph Irons.)

Verses 14-18

Psalms 22:14-18

They pierced my hands and my feet.

Our Lord’s passion

The great mystery of the passion of our Lord is one which in all its fulness the human mind cannot comprehend. In what manner His sufferings purchased our redemption, and what was the precise nature of those sufferings, are points which we shall in vain attempt to ascertain or demonstrate by words, however forcible; but that Christ died for our sins, and that we are redeemed by His precious blood, are amongst the many declarations of Scripture which place beyond all doubt the truth that the sufferings of Christ were an atonement for our sin.

The sufferings of Christ as man. Every kind of pain tortured His body. The closing scenes of His life mark Him most conspicuously as “the Man of Sorrows.”

The sufferings which Christ endured as the Son of God. The sins of the whole world oppressed Him. Sin when duly felt is a heavy burden. How heavy, then, must have been the weight of the sins of the whole world! How wondrous is the outpouring of such love on the part of Jesus and of God! Let the memory of it guard us from attempting to extenuate sin, or in any way making light of it. And when we are called upon to suffer, let the example of our Lord’s meekness and humility be that which we shall follow. (T. R. Redwar, M. A.)

The influence of a great sacrifice

It is strange to think that any man should think lightly of sin viewed in the light of Calvary Cross. It has a wonderful power and influence if you would view it aright. One day a little girl, sitting by her mother’s side, gazed very intently at her parent’s hand. A mere stranger would have said, “What a deformity!” as the hand was blurred and twisted. The girl asked her mother why the hand was different to the other. The mother told her that years ago when her little child was a baby the cot in which she lay caught fire, and her mother in her terror and anxiety tore off the curtains to stop the flames and wrap the child in. In doing so she so burned her hand that for months after she was unable to use it. You can think how the child’s love multiplied beyond all words as she heard the story. Her future delight was to save that injured hand all the work she could possibly.

Verse 20

Psalms 22:20

Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.

The dog

Dogs in the East are not much thought of, and never properly treated. The varieties with which we are familiar they knew nothing of. The dogs they had were but of one kind,--all hungry, half-starved, savage, cowardly, and more like wolves than dogs. But with us the dog is not only useful and beloved, but often displays the noblest qualities. For instance--

Courage. God expects us to have courage (Deuteronomy 31:1-30). And the dog sets us a good example in this respect. Take this story of an incident which took place in the town of New Brunswick, New Jersey. A horse attached to a waggon, in one of the streets, became frightened, and started off in a run. The owner of the waggon was thrown from his seat as the horse started, and was left lying on the street. The horse went galloping along, increasing his speed every moment, till he reached the corner of the next street. There a large Newfoundland dog made his appearance. He looked at the horse for a moment, and then sprang out into the street and rushed towards the horse’s head. The dog made repeated efforts by springing up to grasp the bridle firmly with his teeth. But he failed each time and fell to the ground, narrowly escaping injury from the horse’s feet. But the brave dog kept on trying, and at last, making an extraordinary spring into the air, he grasped the bridle firmly in his teeth and, pulling down the horse’s head, put a stop to his running away. As soon as this was done the dog turned round quietly and walked away. But the people standing by, who had witnessed the dog’s noble action, when they thought of the injury which might have been done by the runaway horse, felt disposed to praise very highly the conduct of the dog for the greatest act of courage they had ever seen a dumb animal perform. The next lesson we may learn from the dog is--

Intelligence. God looks for intelligent understanding of His will in us all. See the opening verse of Proverbs 2:1-22. And the dog sets us a good example of understanding and then obeying what we are told to do. A gentleman connected with the Newfoundland fishery had a dog of remarkable intelligence and fidelity. On one occasion a boat’s crew in his employ were seen to be in circumstances of great danger. They were near a line of breakers outside of the harbour over which the waves were dashing and roaring in great fury. The danger of passing those breakers was so great that the men, brave as they were, did not dare to attempt it. A crowd of people stood watching them on the shore with great anxiety, but could do nothing to help them. Much time had passed, and the danger was increasing every moment. Among the people on the shore was the fishery master’s great Newfoundland dog. He seemed to understand what the danger was. Presently he ran to the water, jumped in, and swam towards the boat. He soon made his way through the surf, and the men in the boat saw him coming near to them. At first they thought he wanted to get into the boat, but it soon became evident that that was not his purpose. He did not come near the boat, but kept swimming round it. While doing this he looked earnestly at the men, and would whine from time to time. The men wondered what he wanted. At last one of them cried out, “Give him a rope; that’s what he wants!” The rope was thrown; the dog seized the end of it with his mouth, and then turned round and swam towards the shore. The men waiting there took hold of it, and began to pull it, and in a short time the boat with its crew was hauled through the dangerous surf, and the men on board of it were landed safely on the shore. And so the lives of that boat’s crew were saved by the intelligence of that noble dog.

Affecting. Love brought Jesus to die for us. “God so loved the world that,” etc. And He desires love to be the ruling principle in our lives. Even dogs have shown this in remarkable ways. The captain of the artillery company of South Carolina was killed in a battle in Virginia during the American Civil War. His body was placed in a coffin, which was put into a strong box and carried to the home of his family in Columbia. It arrived there about a week after his death. On his arrival the captain’s dog that he had reared and petted during his lifetime was at the gate, and, approaching the house, began to smell about him, with a good deal of excitement. When the coffin was taken from the hearse he ran under it and followed it to the house between the pall bearers. Although a week had passed by since his master’s death, and his body was closely fastened up in the coffin, yet by the sense of smell alone the dog had found out that it was his master’s body which was in that coffin, and this stirred up all his affection for him. When the coffin was put on the table in the parlour the dog lay down under the table, and remained there till the funeral took place on the next day. Then after the funeral the dog took his place on the grave of his old master. They tried to coax him away, but in vain. He would stay there. He refused to eat or drink, but lay moaning there till the third day after the funeral, when he died on his master’s grave. How real and genuine that dog’s affection for his master was!

Fidelity. This is a most important lesson. Whatever other good elements of character we may have, they will all be of little use to Us without faithfulness. The want of it is like a hole in a purse, which lets all the money run out and be lost. Now, dogs have often been noted for fidelity. A French merchant was riding home on horseback one day. He had a large bag of gold with him, which was tied to the saddle in front of him, and was accompanied by a faithful dog. After a long ride he stopped to rest himself, and eat a lunch which he had with him. He alighted from the horse and sat down alder a shady tree, taking the bag of gold and laying it down by his side. On mounting his horse again he forgot to take his bag of gold with him. The dog saw the mistake his master had made, and tried to take the bag to him; but it was too heavy for him to drag along. Then he ran after his master, and tried by barking to remind him of his mistake. But the merchant did not understand what the dog meant. Then the dog went in front of his master and kept jumping up before the horse and barking loudly. The merchant called to him to be quiet and to stop that jumping. But the dog wouldn’t stop. Then his master was alarmed, He began to think that the dog must be going mad. And as the dog went on barking and jumping with increasing violence, the merchant felt sure he was right. He said to himself, “He may bite me, or someone else. The only safe thing will be to kill him.” Then he took a pistol from his pocket and, pointing it to the dog, fired at him. The poor dog fell weltering in his blood, and his master, unable to bear the sight, put spurs to his horse and went on. “I am very unfortunate,” he said to himself; “I would rather have lost my bag of money than my good dog.” Then he felt for his bag, but it was not there. In a moment he saw what it all meant. The dog had seen that he had left his bag of money behind him, and was trying the best he could to get him to go back for it when he shot him! How sorry he felt! Then he turned his horse, and rode back to the place where he had left his money. On reaching the spot he found the dog there. He had crawled back, all bleeding as he was, and had lain down beside his master’s money to protect it, This brought the tears into the merchant’s eyes. He kneeled down by his dog, petted him, and spoke kindly to him. The dog looked lovingly into his face, licked his hand, and then turned over and died. The merchant had the body of the dog carried home and buried in his garden; and over its grave he had a stone slab set up, and with these words engraved on it: “In Memory of a Faithful Dog.” Such are some of the lessons we may learn from the dog. (Richard Newton, D. D.)

The power of the dog

(Sermon to Children):--The Bible does not generally speak well of dogs. The word dog in the Scriptures often means a wicked person. When he says, “Deliver my darling from the power of the dog,” it is a prayer that God would deliver His only Son from the hands of wicked men. In Eastern countries dogs are reckoned as unclean animals, and there if you want to give a man a bad name you call him a dog. But there are good dogs and bad dogs, dogs to be trusted and dogs to be avoided. Let us think about the good dogs first. Most of you have read the beautiful story of the hound Gelert. And in Scott’s beautiful story of the Talisman there is a story of Roswal, a noble deer hound who kept guard over the English standard. And there are the dogs of St. Bernard, who go out in the snow to rescue lost travellers. And there are the blind men’s dogs. All these are good dogs. But there are bad ones. Here are the names of some of them. First, there is a dog called Sulky, a black do. I remember when I was a little boy my mother used to tell me not to let the clack dog get on my shoulder, that is, not to be sulky. When a child is bitten by that black dog his face becomes quite changed. All his beauty goes; and his character is altered too. He becomes stubborn, obstinate, won’t work, won’t play. His speech is altered too; he is rude, and the very tone of his voice is quite different. Beware of that black dog. Then there is another dog--a red one this--and he is called Passion. Yes, a very fiery red dog, with gleaming, cruel eyes and foaming mouth. If he bites you he sends you mad for a time. The old Romans were quite right when they called anger a snort madness. If you see a child with a very red face, kicking and stamping and screaming, you may be sure that the fierce dog Passion has bitten him. Julius Caesar, when he was provoked, used to say over all the letters of the Roman alphabet before he gave an answer. Beware, then, of that fierce dog Passion. There is another dog of which you must beware. He is called Idly. You never see him doing anything useful--carrying a basket or a bundle, as some dogs will, He lies in the sun sleeping, almost too lazy to get up and eat his food. Don’t let him bite you. If he bites a child the boy or girl becomes heavy and slow. Instead of getting up in the morning fresh and bright, with plenty of time to say his prayers and start for school after breakfast, the child bitten by dog Idle gets up late, and so begins the day badly. The only thing he cares for is play, and very often he is too idle even for that. There is another dog called Mischief, which is very dangerous. You must not think that I am speaking of Fun and Merriment,--they are good dogs, which skip and play about, and do good, not harm. But Mischief is sly and secret, he goes about in dark places, and is never safe to meddle with. When a child is bitten by dog Mischief no one can tell what harm he may do. I know a poor man blind for life through a stone thrown by a mischievous boy. There is another dog of which you must beware. His name is Careless. He is not so bad as some dogs,--at times we can scarcely help liking him, and yet he does much harm. When a child is bitten by dog Careless things go badly with him. Perhaps, in school, the child is writing a copy, suddenly he lets a great drop of ink fall on his copybook, and there is a blot. And he is guilty of more things than these. Be on your guard against dog Careless. There are many other dogs of which I could warn you, but! will only speak of two. There is dog Selfish,--one of the worst dogs of all. When we get a bite from him we are never happy ourselves, and we make others unhappy too. Then there is another dog called Greedy, and he is a very near relation to dog Selfish. Children are often bitten by him, and they generally suffer; for greedy people by trying to get too much often lose all. There is a fable which tells us how dog Greedy was one day crossing a bridge over a river, and carrying a piece of meat in his month. As he looked into the river he saw his own shadow. Thinking it was another dog who carried a larger piece of meat than his own, dog Greedy flew at him with an angry bark, and as he opened his mouth the meat fell into the river and was lost. So it is often with greedy people, because they are not contented with what they have they lose it altogether. (H. J. Wilmot Buxton, M. A.)

Verses 22-23

Psalms 22:22-23

In the midst of the congregation will I praise Thee.

Jesus the example of holy praise

Our Lord’s example. He renders two-fold praise unto the eternal Father.

1. That of declaration. He did this in His teaching, by His acts, but most of all in His death. And He continued to declare God’s name when He rose from the dead. Probably He does this still in heaven to the saints there. And certainly, by the spreading of His Gospel on earth. “In the midst of the congregation,” etc. When His people here on earth offer praise and prayer He is united with, them. In our praise He is the great singer, rather than we. And in the great day of redemption, when all shall be gathered in, it will be the same. Here also let us follow His example.

The Lord’s exhortation (Psalms 22:23). Praise Him, glorify, fear Him. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Public worship

To assemble at stated seasons for the public worship of their gods appears to have been the custom in all ages and nations of the world, and most especially of those who best understood the nature of such worship and the perfections of that Almighty Being to whom all worship ought to be addressed. But this duty is sadly neglected, so we consider its obligations--

The explicit command of God Himself. The institution of the Sabbath shows His will.

The advantage which we expect to derive from the performance of this duty. We do not come to church to hear what we did not know before. Few need to come for such reason. But discourses from the pulpit form no essential part of Divine worship. A sermon is not a prayer. It is an address of instruction to men, not an act of adoration to our God. It is when we enter the temple of the Most High, not so much to be delighted or instructed by the eloquence of the preacher, as to humble ourselves before our God in penitence or prayer. It is then that we shall experience the first advantage of public worship, and lay the foundation of all the rest. We shall gain help to make us a clean heart and to renew a right spirit within us.

Our love of God is confirmed and increased and our zeal for His honour and service. How sacred and helpful are the feelings which reverent worship of God in His temple produces. If such devotion be regularly continued till it become the settled temper of the mind it will not fail at length to produce a settled habit of pious and virtuous conduct; and pious and virtuous conduct is the greatest blessing which in his present state man can attain.

To this love of God public worship tends directly to add the next rest virtue of the heart, the love of man. In public worship we are surrounded by a number of our fellow creatures, oppressed by the same wants, petitioning for the same favours, or giving thanks for the same blessings, labouring under the same infirmities, confessing the same offences, and depending upon the same Saviour for pardon. But all this not only exalts and animates our devotion to God, but excites and extends our humanity to our fellow men.

Every portion of our worship suggests and enforces appropriate excellence in the conduct of those who attend it in a right spirit.

For the sake of example. The young, the ignorant, and the thoughtless are the most effectually instructed by the conduct of the devout, the aged, and the wise. The corrupt and depraved are the most effectually shamed by the piety and virtue of the just and good. If, on the contrary, you frequently absent yourself from public worship, if you spend the Sabbath in idleness at home, your friends will be encouraged in the same criminal neglect.

The injury to our own principles and morals which follows from the neglect of it. You will come in no long time to do without God in the world, without the hope of better things to come.

Prayer is the indispensable condition of obtaining many of the blessings of heaven. But as in public worship we are greatly aided in prayer, here is another reason wherefore we should join public to private devotion.

The Redeemer himself went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day; and shall we venture to be absent? Shall we presume to expect the favour of Providence if we think it not worth while to come to His temple and pray for it?

The day will come when, if we neglect this duty now, we shall regret it much. Youth and health and strength cannot always continue. Evil days must come. Age and sickness and sorrow must overtake us. And where, then, shall we seek the consolation which we shall certainly want? Happy will it be for us if we are enabled to seek it where only it can be found,--in the remembrance of a well-spent life, in that purity of heart which public and private devotion have produced. (W. Barrow.)

Verse 26

Psalms 22:26

The meek shall eat and be satisfied.

Feasting on the sacrifice

The custom of sacrificial feasts was common to many lands.

The world’s sacrificial feast. The Jewish ritual, and that of many other nations, provided for a festal meal following on, and consisting of the material of the sacrifice. That which, in one aspect, is a peace offering reconciling to God, in another aspect is the nourishment and joy of the hearts that accept it. And so the work of Jesus Christ has two distinct phases of application, according as we think of it as being offered to God or appropriated by man. In the one case it is our peace; in the other it is our food and our life. The Christ that feeds the world is the Christ that died for the world. The peace offering for the world is the food of the world. We see hence the connection between these great spiritual ideas and the central act of Christian worship. The Lord’s Supper simply says by act what the text says in words. The translation of the “eating” into spiritual reality is simply that we partake of the food of our spirits by the act of faith in Jesus Christ. Personal appropriation and making the world’s food mine, by an individual act, is the condition on which alone I get any good from it.

The rich fruition of this feast. “Satisfied.” Jesus Christ, in the facts of His death and resurrection, being to us all that our circumstances, relationships, and inward condition can require.

The guests. It is the “meek” who eat. Meek usually refers to men’s demeanour to one another. The expression here goes deeper. It means both “afflicted” and “lowly,”--the right use of affliction being to bow men, and they that bow themselves are those who are fit to come to Christ’s feast. Men are shut out only because they shut themselves out. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

The recompense of piety

In genuine religion there is great reward. Nothing is so conducive to the happiness of man, nothing so effectually secures it.

The temper to be cherished. Meekness, lowliness of mind, which so becomes us as sinners.

The conduct to be pursued. We should seek the Lord. This supposes--

1. That we have suffered loss. We do not seek what we have. We have lost the knowledge, favour, image, and the enjoyment of God.

2. That this loss may be regained. The Gospel shows us how.

3. The use of proper means is also implied.

The blessings which shall be secured. We shall eat and he satisfied; shall praise the Lord, and live forever. (T. Kidd.)

They shall praise the Lord that seek Him.--

Good news for seekers

These are the words of Jesus on the Cross. He died to further the Father’s glory. This was the object He sought, and He solaces Himself with the thought of all the kindreds of the nations turning to God, and that they who seek the Lord shall praise Him. The assurance of text very encouraging. Note--

The persons--the seekers of the Lord. These are they--

1. Who really desire to commune with God. Not mere repeaters of a prayer, but those who really seek the Lord.

2. Who know that they are at a distance from Him.

3. But are anxious that that distance should be taken away.

4. And would feel themselves to be the friends of God.

5. And desire all this now. All this prepares the man to praise when he finds the Lord.

The promise. “They shall,” etc.

1. It is fulfilled unconsciously while the man is seeking.

2. The praise abounds when the desire is granted. You who seek, you shall surely find salvation, and that ere long. God may try yon, let you wait a while before He gives you the joy of realised pardon; but seek on still.

3. You shall go on seeking and go on praising.

The praise. It will be--

1. Because we found Him as we did.

2. That we found such a Saviour.

3. Because of our security.

4. Because we ever sought the Lord at all.

Conclusion: Let us who have sought the Lord praise Him. Let us show our poor friends the seekers the way. We sought and we found; let us magnify the Lord at once. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Arduous seeking becomes joyous in finding

All his seeking, I say, helps him to prize Divine mercy when he receives it, and trains him to praise God according to the promise of our text, “They shall praise the Lord that seek Him.” Never is a babe so dear to its mother as when it has just been restored from a sickness which threatened his life; never does a father rejoice over his little child so much as when he has been long lost in the woods, and after a weary search is at last brought home. No gold is so precious to a man as that which he has earned by hard labour and self-denial: the harder he has toiled to gain it, the more rejoiced is he when at length he has enough to permit him to rest. No freedom is so precious as the new found liberty of a slave, no enlargement so joyous as that of one who has long been sitting in the valley of the shadow of death bound in affliction and iron. No return to a country is so full of delight as that of sorrowful exiles who come back from cruel Babylon, by whose waters they sat and wept, yea, wept when they remembered Zion. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Seekers become singers

As a bird lies hidden among the heather, but is seen when at last it is startled and made to take to the wing, so doth praise take to the wing and display itself when at last those who seek the Lord are permitted to find Him. What thunderclaps of praise come from poor sinners when they have just found their all in all in God in the person, of Christ Jesus. Then their joy becomes almost too much for them to hold, vastly too much for them to express. Oh, the praises, the day and night praises, the continuous praises, which rise from the returning, repenting soul which has at last felt the Father’s arms around its neck and the Father swarm kisses on its cheek, and is sitting down at the table where the happy household eat and drink and are merry. Praising time has come indeed when finding time has arrived. Happy day! Happy day! when we meet with God in Jesus Christ. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Your heart shall live forever.--

The immortality of the affections

The heart has been employed by the inspired writers as the symbol of human affections. So the heart of man is said to be tried by God--to be opened, established, enlightened, strengthened, searched by God. The text asserts the absolute indestructibility of our religious affections. Work up to this through the intervening lessons.

1. There is one thing in this fleeting world which is immortal. Man wears on his forehead the crown of his regnant majesty; for his nature is undying. No soul has ever yet passed out of existence.

2. The text draws a distinction between life and mere existence. Into this word “live” we must suffer a new increment of meaning to enter. These hearts of ours may have one of two moral states. Whichever of these is possessed as a permanent character decides destiny. The heart that “seeks God” enters immediately into the nearness of God’s presence, where there is fulness of joy. The heart that wilfully refuses to “seek God” is forced into the darkness of utter banishment from God for the unending future. The first of these conditions is “life,” the second is “death.”

3. The text evidences its authority by language peremptory and plain. The word “shall” is of itself sovereign and conclusive But the form of speech employed is not that of prediction so much as that of promise. There are also three fixed laws of human nature which, fairly working together, render it absolutely certain that our affections will survive the shock of death, and reassert themselves hereafter.

(1) One is the law of habit. The pressure of such a law holds more surely in our mental and moral nature than in our physical. Loves are stronger and hates are more inveterate than simple habits of body and mind.

(2) Another law is that of exercise. “Practice makes perfect.” Under this law the memory is often so wonderfully strengthened that it disdains data of aid. The most curious working of this law will appear in the fact that when our affections are wrought upon their increase is supreme. One’s prejudices become his master.

(3) Then there is the law of association. Most of all, this is subtle and forceful. When its action reaches a man’s moral and mental natures working together it seems almost irresistible. These three laws actually intertwine themselves together, and accelerate the action of each other.

4. The text teaches that human immortality is quite independent of all accidents and surroundings. Augustine says, “Our life is so brief and insecure that I know not whether to call it a dying life or a living death.” It is not in the body that our immortality resides. Your “heart” is yourself. There is one thing in man, only one, that is immortal--the soul. Human affections will live forever in the line of their “seeking.” The heart therefore is independent of all surroundings.

5. The text fixes all its force by an immediate application of its doctrine to such as are meek enough to receive it. If your heart is to live forever, then much consideration ought to be given to your aims in life, for they are fashioning the heart that is to be immortal. And our companionships ought to be chosen with a view to the far future which is coming. If our hearts are to live forever, then some care should be had concerning our processes of education by which our affections are trained. And if our hearts are to live forever, then surely it is now time some hearts were changed powerfully by the Spirit of Divine grace. (C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

Immortality of the affections

Transient and occasional bursts of inspiration in the Old Testament anticipate what Christianity was afterwards to teach. They seem like lightning flashes, illuminating the deep obscurity for a moment. How much is implied in these words, “Your heart shall live forever.” They mean that the body shall not,--in its present elements it shall not; it has nothing to do with the life immortal. The happiness of the future existence shall not come from the body, from the gratification of its passions nor the exercise of its powers; and just so far as a man depends for his enjoyment on these earthly indulgences he is unfit for that spiritual state to which death will soon translate us, and for which it is our wisdom now to prepare. These words of the text also imply that the mind, though it shall endure, will not be the source of happiness in another existence. We know too little of its nature to say whether death will change it; but certainly it will change our estimation of it; for now, in this world, talent, force of mind, genius are set highest among the gifts of God. The affections (or the heart) are as much above the understanding as the mind is above the body. It is in the affections that the elements of heavenly happiness are to be found. These words teach us what should be our constant object, and lead us also to consider how abundantly God has provided for it on every side. Consider--

1. How all the arrangements of this life favour the growth of those affections which are the elements of life immortal. The home, requiring of each within it to suppress those selfish passions which darken over everything which they touch, and making it manifest that all the sunshine and comfort of the dwelling depend, not on its magnificence, not on the luxuries within it, but simply and entirely on the spirit of love within. And the circle of friendship carries out those same affections into wider range. That these are Divine arrangements may be seen from the moral and spiritual laws which run through theme--which ordain that these affections shall move in paths of duty. But these arrangements of life for a certain purpose are not meant to effect that purpose of themselves; it rests with us to trace out, to follow, and improve them. The first business of the Christian life is to deny ourselves, which means not to deny ourselves a blessing here and there, but to resist the strong selfish tendency of our nature, to train our affections in the right Way, to regard them as the beginnings and indications of our future destiny, and to keep our heart with all diligence, since out of it are the fountains of immortal life. Once attach this thought of immortality to the affections, and how mighty and solemn those interests become!

2. All the arrangements of death, all of which have a purpose and meaning, are even more fitted to form for immortality the heart which is to live forever. The world is changed by the presence of death; wherever it comes we feel that a new influence is there, a power is there which was not there before. Each one who feels at all feels that something is meant by it, that it is a communication addressed to him. Never do the affections come forth in purer or more disinterested action than in the presence of death.

3. The arrangements of the future existence are also of a kind to favour the growth of the affections. The foresight of the future state, the vision of it which lies before us in the light of the Gospel, must necessarily have a great effect on the efforts we make to reach it. Awake, then, to a sense of the importance of the heart. See how all your welfare for this world and the other depends on the right unfolding and care of its affections. (W. B. O. Peabody, D. D.)

Verse 27

Psalms 22:27

All the ends of the world shall remember, and turn unto the Lord.

The return to the Father

In this Psalm the utterance of the believing heart in trial and in deliverance becomes, at various points, a prophetic anticipation of the experience of Christ. In one verse after another we seem to hear out of His own mouth the sorrow and the triumph of Christ. Regarding the text in this light, as an expectation which a believer might naturally express in the hour of his own enlargement, it brings before us an interesting connection of thought. A believer who has been brought into great temptation and trouble, and whose faith has been drawn out into lively and lowly exercise, when the deliverance comes will be aware of something more than the worth and the gladness of that particular deliverance. He has been holding converse with the mercy of God under pressure. There comes afresh into his heart the impression of the love of God, of which his own relief is only an instance and expression. So God teaches him--forces him to learn afresh--what a blessedness this is to have this God for his God forever and ever. Then how naturally he may go on to such an anticipation as that in the text he has a fresh sense of that in God which saves and blesses. How natural it becomes to cherish even so great an expectation as that the ends of the world may turn to the Lord! If all believers had the fresh sense they might have of Divine compassion there would be less uncertainty about the prosperity of the Gospel, less of feeble and dubious effort. And we may also hear the utterance of a Saviour’s joy and exultation when it is said, “The ends of the world shall remember, and shall turn to the Lord.”

The prospect from the cross. So taken, the text suggests to us our Lord’s consciousness of the virtue that lay in His atoning sacrifice. The life of perfect holiness and perfect love was crowned by the death in which He put away sin. Exceeding glory to God and good to man were to be unfolded from it. This lay fully before our Lord’s eye from the first. What He saw it becomes us to believe--the ends of the world shall remember, and turn to the Lord.

The soul’s awakening. “They shall remember.” It is as though something long forgotten had come to mind, had melted their hearts within them. In what sense is the truth in Christ new? It is not so new but that it has also something old in it. Just this lay behind many a transient conviction, many a vague and dim impression. Whatever of new has come has put unspeakable meaning into all the old.

Man’s place with God. This is not so only with those for whom conversion comes after years of acquaintance with the Christian creed, and with the form of Godliness. It holds for men as men. The God who in Christ becomes ours is the very God for whom man was made. This is the meaning of man. And the blessedness which redemption brings is for the heart of man, as man was planned and made.

The inevitable return. The text points to a time when turning to God shall be the main thing, the prevailing thing, as if a mighty tide setting that way, carried all before it. For the present we do not see this. (Robert Rainy, D. D.)

Three stages in religious life

Reflection. “Shall remember.” We use the word reflection here because the usual Bible significance of the word “remember” is not simply “recollect,” but meditate, consider. The act described is far more than one of memory; witness the words, “Remember now thy Creator.” Here also the Psalmist means “remember the Lord.” Thought is the first stage in true life. Right thought on a right subject is essential to right life. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

1. Think about God.

2. Think what God’s ways with men are.

3. Think of your relationship to God. In the past; now; for the future.

conversion. “Turn unto” would be a synonym; or “return.” “Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die?” These passages, with that in our text, remind us--

1. That man is turned away from God. There is aversion and alienation.

2. Man may be restored to God. His face may yet look into the face of the Father, his life spent in Godward sympathies and activities.

3. This conversion, i.e. moral turning round, implies human effort and Divine help. Man is to turn, and God will turn him. Then, and then only, will his back be towards vanities and sins, and his face towards the true and the pure. More than passing sentiment is needed. There must be the putting forth of all the strongest forces of manhood, and the energising grace of God.

Adoration. “Shall worship.” This is the climax. It is the fullest development of the higher life, the crown of human destiny. Adoration of God is--

1. The instinct.

2. The obligation.

3. The satisfaction of souls. (U. R. Thomas.)

The importance of true religion, and the care of God to preserve it

To glorify and enjoy God are the great ends of our creation and redemption. This is the great and fundamental article of religion. God’s design in the creation and government of the world must have been the manifestation of His perfection, and the conferring happiness on intelligent creatures in proportion to their capacities. To what purpose hath God distinguished man with a rational and immortal soul resembling Himself, but to make him capable of religion and eternal life. What the character of God and the nature of man so clearly demonstrate on principles of reason, God hath expressly declared to us in His Word.

God has given men proper information of His character, will, and grace as their rule of duty and their guide to happiness. The existence of the creation demonstrates the existence of the Creator; its greatness proves His immensity; its order, His wisdom; and the provision made for the happiness of His creatures, His boundless goodness. In every state of man the only perfect rule of religion is Divine revelation, which confirms all the principles of natural religion, and informs us of many things necessary to be known which our own reason could not have discovered. The dispensations of God’s providence subserved the design of His revelations for preserving religion and virtue in the world.

That before the coming of Christ the worship of the true God should be generally forgotten and neglected by mankind. This melancholy truth the history of the world hath but too amply verified. True religion must always have the true God for its object, and His moral character and revealed will for its rule. False religion originates in a departure from the worship of the true God to that of idols; either as objects of religious adoration or as the means of it. To this cause Moses ascribed the idolatry of Israel. The sun, moon, etc., from being worshipped only as representations of God, came to be considered and worshipped as so many distinct deities. As the multitude of gods worshipped by the heathen distracted their religion, and turned it away from the only true God, so their mean and immoral characters shamefully debased it. Religion is the chief part and foundation of moral righteousness. As before the coming of Christ the Gentiles had grossly departed from the knowledge and profession of the true religion, so the Jews had greatly degenerated from the sincere belief and practice of it.

By the Gospel and the grace of Christ all nations should be brought to remember and turn unto the Lord. The coming of the Saviour was the era of light, reformation, and happiness to the world As to the proper improvement of these truths, let us ever live under the serious belief and impression that, to glorify and enjoy God, our Creator and Saviour, are the great ends of our existence, and can be attained only by the knowledge and practice of true religion. (W. Dalgleish, D. D.)

Nature and extent of true conversion under Messiah’s reign

The nature of true conversion.

1. It is to remember. It is fitly expressed by the ease of the prodigal, who is said to have “come to himself.” The Holy Spirit is ever seeking to make us remember. Sometimes by adverse providences, as with Joseph’s brethren. At other times by His Word. Sometimes it is without any apparent cause. “I thought on my ways,” says David, “and turned my feet unto Thy testimonies.” And there will, however brought, be many ways which we shall remember with sorrow and shame. As our ways of open immorality: things which we thought were no harm, since other people did them; and ways which we have thought nothing about--sins of the heart. And ways, too, that you have counted good you will thus remember. All your religion while unconverted will appear odious to you.

2. It is turning unto the Lord. This is very important, for it is possible to remember our evil ways without turning from them. And it is possible both to remember and turn, and yet not to turn to the Lord. And--

3. There will be worship--the homage of the heart presented to God according to His will.

The extent. “All the ends of the world”; “all the kindreds of the nations,” etc. It was fit that the accessions of the Gentiles should be reserved for the Gospel day, that it might grace the triumph of Christ over His enemies. And the good work then begun must go on, no longer limited to the seed of Abraham. But the time will come when our text will be abundantly fulfilled. Nor can the time of fulfilment be far distant. The last branch of the last of the four beasts foretold by Daniel is now in its dying agonies. But while we are concerned for all the world, let us not forget our own souls. (Andrew Fuller.)

The assistance derived by Christianity from human learning

it is matter of doubt whether there is real improvement in the world in morals and religion. In some parts matters seem to have become worse. But in others, our own country especially, since the Reformation there has been improvement, and such as is not likely to be lost. Still, we are far enough from perfection. For that we must look on to the kingdom of God yet to be established, but meanwhile we must help it forward as we best can. But note--

What are the causes of the improvement we have noticed? They are--

1. General experience, though there are instances in which the moral and religious condition of the people are no better now than they were ages ago. The reason of this is that these communities have possessed no literature, and hence the teachings of experience have been lost and each generation has to begin anew.

2. Letters and learning. Hence these teachings no longer die with those who have acquired them, but are handed on to their successors. But we have instances in which--as in Egypt, Greece, and Rome, where there have been letters and learning, but because separated from true religion--the world has not been morally advanced by them. The experience of France in the eighteenth century is in point here.

3. The revelation of Christianity. But this from an early period down to the time of the Reformation being loaded with superstition, the moral life of men was but little benefited. Hence we gather that there must be the union of Learning and Christianity if any real progress is to be made.

What assistance Christianity has received from human learning. This learning may be distinguished--

1. As the study of ancient languages and composition. Hence now we have the Scriptures translated, and this learning is useful not only to translate but to teach us the rules of interpretation, and of just criticism, and of the best models of composition, and to give freedom and strength to the imagination. Even the elegance of ancient writers, though often considered as merely ornamental, is not without its use towards the perfection of Christian morals. There is a connection and a sympathy which, though they do not always appear, have yet a tendency to prevail, between whatever is simple and elegant in the arts, and a simplicity and elegance of manners. By this connection we are rendered more sensible of any thing that can soften the human mind, can heighten the enjoyment of social life, or prepare us for that Christian charity which is the bond of peace and of all virtue.

2. The study of philosophy, which is not merely useful in the discovery of curious and useful arts. It serves a much nobler and more generous purpose, that of promoting our progress towards the perfection of our nature, and of advancing the interests of true religion. (W. Pearce, D. D.)

The triumph of Christianity

Some regard this Psalm as our Lord’s soliloquy when expiring on the Cross. It may be so. Fitter words could not have been conceived. The mighty hero sees the conflict ended, anticipates the victory, and begins to chant the conqueror’s paean.

The conversion of the nations to God may be expected. It is much to be desired. But the battle is long and weary and the end is not yet. Some think it is not to be looked for. But--

1. Our newborn nature craves for it; and--

2. Is it not unlikely that on this earth where God has stood in the person of His Son, that evil, after all, should vanquish Him?

3. And see the promises of reward made to our Redeemer. “He shall see of the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied.” And the Scriptures are full of such promises, in the Psalms and in all the prophets. It is good to be reminded of them, for we shall not labour well if we do not labour in hope. And as yet we have not done so much as to give the fragments of the Gospel feast to the nations. When the Church is ready for great events they shall occur to her.

Such conversion will occur in the usual manner of other conversions. “The nations,” says our text, “shall remember, and shall turn unto the Lord, and shall worship before Him.”

1. They shall remember. In this manner conversion begins.

2. They shall turn.

3. They shall worship.

The means to accomplish this result are to be found at Calvary. This is a Calvary Psalm; its connection is full of sacrificial suffering. Every conversion is the result of Christ’s death. And His death is our motive for spreading the Gospel. And it is the security of future triumph. We shall conquer the world, but it will be by the Cross. The old legend of Constantine, “In hoc signo vinces, hath truth in it for us. By this we shall conquer--by the Cross, by the preaching of Jesus Christ. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Verse 28

Psalms 22:28

The kingdom is the Lord’s.

An universal religion

The law of Moses was confined, by the terms of its promulgation, to the land of Judaea: and other systems which have been embraced as Divine attempted to ensure their success In some quarters of the globe by an accommodation to local manners which prevented them from spreading to distant regions. But the religion of Christ has all the internal characters of an universal religion. The manner in which the Gospel was introduced corresponds to these characters of an universal religion. Before He ascended to heaven the Founder constituted His apostles witnesses to Him unto the uttermost parts of the earth, and sent them forth to make disciples of all nations . . . We readily recognise in Jesus that illustrious descendant promised to Abraham, “in whom all the families of the earth were to be blessed”; that Prince of Peace whose universal dominion the prophets have painted by various imagery, “in whose reign the righteous were to flourish, and the knowledge of the Lord was to cover the earth.” But when we look beyond the destruction of Jerusalem these bright views seem to vanish, and we mark, with wonder and regret a striking inconsistency between the earlier and later history of the Christian Church: This religion was, for many ages, persecuted and despised by the powers of the earth. For a long time it was involved in the superstition and barbarism of the dark ages. The fact is, that, after seventeen hundred years have passed, the religion of Jesus is established in less than a fifth part of the globe. The faith of Mahomet, which has been permitted to overspread a larger portion of the earth, retains undisputed possession of its conquests. What can be said as an answer to the presumption, drawn from present appearances, against the fulfilment of the promise of universality for Christianity?

1. Though the Almighty may do all His pleasure by the word of His mouth, He generally chooses to employ means in accomplishing His purposes, and the operation of those means is so gradual as to admit of a progress ill which one thing not only paves the way for another, but gives notice of its approach. We are not warranted, by the analogy of any part of Divine providence, to expect, in the communication of religious instruction, that haste which to our imaginations may appear desirable.

2. As in natural productions there is a time of maturity to which all the preparation has tended, so the season destined for the appearance of the Gospel, which is called in Scripture “the fulness of the time,” was produced by a preparation of four thousand years.

3. The partial propagation of Christianity has already diffused a large measure of religious knowledge, which concurs with other circumstances in preparing the world for its being universally received.

4. The partiality, the delay, and the imperfection in the propagation of Christianity are fully accounted for by the nature of those human means which, without a succession of miracles, it was necessary to employ . . . Presumption against the universal propagation of Christianity, which has been drawn from present appearances, is contradicted by the general analogy of the Divine government, by the effects already produced, and the forward tendency of things. (G. Hill, D. D.)

The oldest kingdom and the best government

What can be a more consoling fact, in times of national convulsion, than the one declared here? The Lord’s kingdom is distinct from all others.

The greatest kingdom ever. Known. My text says the Lord is the governor. I much question if He has a kingdom for His own upon the face of the whole earth now. There was a time when He appeared signally to recognise our own dear old England distinctly above all other nations; but now it has gone down, in some instances, to downright infidelity, or, in others, perverted to gross idolatry. Whatever He may please to do with the land of my nativity, I shall rejoice to know we have in it yet more of His own kingdom than any other nation upon earth. Of the Lord’s kingdom we note--

(1) It is a chosen one: men enter it through a broken and contrite spirit; others who have not known this are not in the kingdom.

(2) Hence it is His by conquest over human hearts. He has subdued them unto Himself.

(3) It is under His own special care. And

(4) He peopled it with the precious souls that He had ordained from everlasting.

(5) And He dwells and abides there.

(6) Its constitution is “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” It is a sacred kingdom and no unclean thing shall enter it.

(7) How vast are its treasures--grace and glory.

It has the wisest, holiest, and best of governors.

(1) His sovereignty is absolute over all nations for His own people as well as in them.

(2) It is exercised in the hearts of His subjects. Who ever heard of any other governor who reigned in the heart of every one of his subjects?

(3) He never revokes any of His decrees. “My covenant will I not alter.” His statutes stand forever, those in His secret statute book and those in the Scripture, the inspired abstract of His will. (Joseph Irons.)

On providence

Prove the doctrine. That God presides in every department of nature, and exercises a superintending care over the works of His hand, has been believed in every nation and in every age. The cavils of sceptical men are not to be considered as detracting from its universality. What is providence but the exercise of the Divine attributes? Sound philosophy never supported the atheistical system which would exclude the Almighty from His kingdom, and surrender to blind chance the government of the universe. The Divine government is recognised in the material system, but it is not confined to that. In the moral as in the natural world His pervading energy appears. What are the annals of nations but a continued detail of its operation? The world is a great scene, where from age to age a series of providential interpositions has been displayed. Some invisible power is employed in overruling human affairs. An infinite mind must have access, though we cannot perceive it, in many different ways, to the human heart. But man is conscious all the while that no violence is offered to his will, that he is acting as a moral agent, without any infringement of his freedom.

Recommend a becoming trust in divine providence. His perfections demand our veneration and justify our confidence. Infinite goodness, added to Almighty power, constitutes the very character which claims our dependence. (T. Lawrie, D. D.)

Verse 29

Psalms 22:29

None can keep alive his own soul.

Life’s need and maintenance

Begin by noting the connection; then take text in a spiritual meaning.

The inner life must be sustained by God. None of us can make his own soul live, nor can we keep it alive. Old Christians cannot, more than young ones. At no time or place, however sacred, can we do this. The analogies of nature, which show that repeated, continued help must be given, tell us of our constant need of fresh grace. Experience asserts the same. In each separate act of the Divine life we need help. Our own blunderings and failings when we have not sought renewed help teach the same lesson. The number and strength of our adversaries teach it. If we could, why is such full provision made in the Gospel?

This truth brings glory to Christ.

Suggests the path of wisdom for ourselves. We are to remember that we want not only grace to begin with, but grace to abide in Christ. Diligently use all means of grace. Keep clear of all that which tends to destroy life. A sane man does not willingly take poison. Look to Christ day by day for everything. Do not become self-satisfied. Never say, “Soul, take thine ease,”--to say that is to be a fool, as was the rich man who first said it. “Day by day go to Christ.

This subject indicates a way of usefulness for all God’s children. It is a grand thing to be blessed of God, to turn sinners from the error of their ways; but there is equally good work to be done by helping struggling saints. The old Roman said he thought it as much an honour to preserve a Roman citizen as to slay an enemy of his country. Let us watch over one another; be pastors to one another. Help one another. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Spiritual life not self-preserved

Go, young man, even you who are a zealous Christian, go without your morning prayer into the house of business, and see what will befall you. Venture, my sister, down into your little family without having called upon God for guidance, and see what you will do. Go with a strong resolve that yon will never be guilty of the weakness which dishonoured you a few days ago, and depend upon the strength of your own will and the firmness of your own purpose, and see if you do not ere long discover to your shame how great your weakness is. Nay, try none of these experiments, but listen to the Word which tells you “none can keep alive his own soul.” (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Verse 30

Psalms 22:30

A seed shall serve Him.

Good men as seeds

This figurative expression signifies Christ and His people, who yield true obedience to God,--they are called by this name in a spiritual and figurative, but most appropriate sense. The idea is taken from the operations of the husbandman, who carefully reserves every year a portion of his grain for seed. Though it be small, compared with all the produce of his harvest, yet he prizes it very highly and estimates it by the value of that crop which it may yield in the succeeding autumn. Nor does he look only to the quantity; he pays particular regard to the quality of the seed. He reserves only the best, nay, he will put away his own if spoiled, that he may procure better. The very smallest quantity of really good seed is, to him, an object of great desire, and if by grievous failure of crops he should not be able to procure more than a single grain, yet would he accept it thankfully, preserve it carefully, and plant it in the most favourable soil. Such is the source from which the metaphor is taken. (John Stevenson.)

Verse 31

Psalms 22:31

They shall come, and declare His righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that He hath done this.

The dying thoughts of Christ

1. Jesus complains that God had deserted Him. Bearing our sins caused this intolerable suffering. Yet even whilst thus suffering He adores the uprightness of God.

2. Jesus turns His thoughts back to the past history of the people of God.

3. The Father at length heard His earnest, importunate entreaties.

4. That which was in our Saviour’s mind illustrates St. Paul’s meaning when he tells of our Lord, that “for the joy set before Him He endured the Cross, despising the shame.” (Alex. Irwin, M. A.)


Psalms 23:1-6

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Psalms 22". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tbi/psalms-22.html. 1905-1909. New York.
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