PSALM CX.

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The Creation Concept


Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms

By Andrew A. Bonar
Robert Carter & Brothers, NY. 1860
p. 330-335.

Andrew A. Bonar 1810-1892

1 The Lord said unto my Lord,
Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.

2 The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion:
Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.

3 Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power;
In the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning,
Thou hast the dew of thy youth.

4 The Lord hath sworn, and will not repeat,
Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedec.

5 The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.

6 He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies;
He shall wound the heads over many countries.

7 He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head.

"The right hand of the poor!" was heard in the closing lines of the last song -- "the right hand of the Poor One," viz., the Messiah on earth in his humiliation. But look up now; this "poor and needy One is exalted! The Lord has "saved him." We see no Judas now; but we see Him whom Judas betrayed, and whom Israel agreed in rejecting, exalted to the right hand of God.

"Jehovah said to my Lord,
Sit at my right hand."

An oft-quoted passage -- because it contains a memorable truth. [1] We find it quoted by Messiah himself to lead Israel to own him as greater than David, Matt. xxii. 41. It is quoted in Heb. i. 13, to prove him higher far than angels. It is brought forward by Peter, Acts ii. 84, to shew him Lord as well as Christ. It is referred to in Heb. x. 12, 13, as declaring that Jesus has satisfactorily finished what he undertook to accomplish on earth, "The one sacrifice for ever," and is henceforth on that seat of divine honour "expecting till his enemies be made his footstool" -- the day of his Second Coming.

In verse 1, We have the personal glory of the exalted Messiah declared by the Father. He sits in highest honour (see 1 Kings ii. 19; Psa. xlv. 9) till the day arrive for still farther honour, viz., the utter prostration of his foes, who shall be made his footstool, alluding (Josh. x. 24) to the five kings. Then the land shall have rest.

In verse 2, The Father's promise to him of the subjugation of all his foes. The "rod" is ... not a sceptre, but a rod of chastisement, like that of Moses, used in bringing judgment on Egypt.

In verse 3, The promise of a people, loving, holy, spotless, and more than man can number.

In verse 4, His office as Royal Priest, specially exercised in bringing this innumerable people to himself and then blessing them. He is Melchizedec, but over a mighty kingdom, and he intercedes for and blesses his Abrahams.

In verses 5, 6, Details are given of his leaving the right hand.

And verse 7 is a summary of his whole career.

But, we should notice, in verses 5, 6, how the prophetic telescope is shifted. Hitherto (ver. 1-4) our eye had been fixed on the Exalted Son, while David rehearsed in prophecy what the Father would do for him "in the day of his power" -- that is, the day referred to, Rev. xi. 17, when he takes to himself his great power and reigns, the day of his Second Coming. But now, in verse 5, we are guided to the Father; for it is he who "shall send Jesus," (Acts iii. 20 ; 1 Tim. vi. 15). And it is with our eye on the Father that we are to read verse 5.

"The Lord (... Chaldee, 'Shecinah') at thy right hand," (0 Jehovah).
See verse 1.

Or, perhaps, more correctly still, in the manner of adoring joy and hope,

"The Lord (Adonai) is at thy right hand!
Be has smitten through kings in the days of his wrath!
He will contend with the nations,
He hath smitten The Head of earth in all its extent!"

This last clause, which speaks of a usurper who claimed a right to our world, is the contrast to verse 7, wherein His own exaltation over earth is proclaimed by "lifting up the head" (see Gen. xl. 1 3, 20, &c.).

"Of the brook in the way he shall drink:
Therefore shall he lift up the head."

We may now turn back to discuss some of the difficulties of this magnificent triumphal song. We shall notice two -- one in the description of his army, verse 3; the other in the summary of his career, verse 7.

We read in verse 3, "Thy people shall be free-gifts to thee, in the day of thy power" -- themselves presenting themselves as living sacrifices. The allusion is probably to the many free- will-offerings brought to Israel's altar, -- all of which, as well as their meat-offerings and drink-offerings, declared that God's people were a people who gave up themselves to him, soul, body, and spirit without reserve. And there was an old type in Judges v. 2, Barak's army -- like this great assembly from all tribes, while those that were like Meroz perished with the foe. This army, this host of the Lord, may be specially meant of Israel as a nation, at Christ's Second Coming; but if so, it is Israel as afterwards the centre-point of union to the converted nations of the whole earth. There may be reference, also, to that other part of the Lord's host on that day, his glorified saints "who attend upon him," and reign with him over these nations of earth, and over the twelve tribes of Israel. But the full reference is to all these multitudes together, gathered to Shiloh at his Coming. These shall be arrayed as priests: festively adorned; for,

"In the beauties of holiness,"

is an expression taken from Exodus xix. 6 and xxviii. 4 (compare Prov. xxxi. 25, ...). It is used frequently, and always seems to refer us back to the dress of the priesthood, or Levites; [2] so that we are to understand Messiah's host as then manifested to be "a nation of priests," to offer up earth's praise and service.

"Out of the womb of the morning
Is the dew of thy youth."

Thy "youth-like soldiery are as dew for beauty" (Hengstenberg); some say also, in perpetual succession; and we must add, for number too. But, is there not this other idea-- they come suddenly as the dew appears, seen all at once under the light of the new-risen Sun of Righteousness? And may we not adopt yet another from Hengstenberg, "all begotten from above" -- as Job xxxviii. 28 might lead us to remember? The metre version of Tate and Brady has thus expressed some of these views: --

"Shall all (redeemed from error's night)
Appear as numberless and bright
As crystal drops of morning dew."

But now let us briefly notice verse 7, "He shall drink of the brook by the way." Ancients and moderns have all been at a loss how to decide the true meaning. The idea, so common among us, that the clause foretells Christ's sufferings, is very rarely found among old interpreters. [3] The words were understood by Junius and Tremellius long ago as meaning, "He shall steadily press on to victory, as generals of energy act, who, in pursuing routed foes, stay not to indulge themselves in meat or drink." [4] Hengstenberg and others substantially approve of this view. While a few hold that allusion may be made to Samson at Ramath-Lehi (as if the words spoke of Christ having a secret spring of refreshment when needful), most seem inclined to take Gideon as the type that best expresses the idea. Pressing on to victory, Messiah, like Gideon, "faint yet pursuing" as he passed over Jordan, shall not desist till all is won. "He shall not fail nor be discouraged till he has set judgment in the earth." Perhaps the full idea is this: -- His career was irresistibly successful, like that of Gideon; for he allowed nothing to detain him, nor did he shrink in the enterprise from any fatigue, nor did he stop to indulge the flesh. If we take it thus, there is both the Humiliation and the Exaltation of the Son of man contained in the words; and Phil. ii. 8, 9 supplies a commentary.

Footnotes

1. Luther, in his "Familiar Sermons," uses the Hebrew words as a summary of abundant consolation and a fit watchword for Christians, "Sheb limini" Sit at my right hand.

2. 2 Chron. xx. 21 ought to be rendered, "He set singers .... according to the beauty of holiness;" i.e., he set them in the beautiful robes worn by the tribe of Levi. (See Keil.)

3. It was current, however; for Antonius Flaminius, 1576, adopts it, and commenting on the Latin, not the Hebrew term, says that the Psalmist has used the word torrent, "ad significandum vim et magnitudinem gerumnarum." Some wished to understand it of "drinking of the blood of the slain;" others, of his slaking his thirst as a poor pilgrim passing a brook. One saw in the words the very brook Cedron, and another was inclined to think it might be "the waters of truth and holiness." We think, nevertheless, that most readers will agree that the probable meaning lies in a view of the passage much less forced.

4. See also the oldest version of the metre Psalms: --

"Yea, he, through haste for to pursue his foe,
Shall drink the brook that runneth by the way."

And Amyrald, "He shall not give his foes even a moment to recover breath. He himself shall just, as it were, lift his helmet and hastily drink of water from the running brook." Tholuck, "He shall combat without stoppage."