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INTRODUCTION TO PSALM CXXXIII.
PSALM OF DAVID.
A great point had been gained, in favour both of religion and sound goverment, by locating the ark at Zion. The vigour and popularity of David's administration had awed and held in check the factious elements of party, and his wisdom and mildness had conciliated all his more reasonable and placable opponents. So great an event as fixing the religious centre and capital of the nation had taken place without any outburst of popular commotion; and while the wounded pride of the Ephraimites quietly submitted, the great body of all the tribes joyfully approved. The people, who had "lamented after the Lord" all the time "the ark abode in Kirjath," (1 Samuel vii, 2,) now repaired, with thanksgiving and songs of gladness, to Zion, to pay their vows, and offer their sacrifices, and celebrate their festivals, as they had formerly done at Shiloh. This David now beholds with delight. His reference to Zion, (verse 3,) where "the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore," seems to have a reflex allusion to Shiloh, from which God's peculiar blessing had been withdrawn. (See Introduction to Psalm lxxviii.) The people are now united and happy. They are united in their king, in their religion, and in their place of worship.
Jerusalem was thronged with the holy pilgrims, and Zion was vocal with their praises. As they were happy in the enjoyment of their religious privileges, so their greetings and their intercourse with each other were cheerful and friendly. True religion is the strongest bond of social union. "In the following Psalm," says Hengstenberg, "David brings to the consciousness of the people the glory of the fellowship of the saints, which had so long fallen into abeyance, and the restoration of which had begun with the setting up of the tabernacle in Zion, after it had been interrupted during the entire period in which the ark had been buried, as in its grave, at Kirjathjearim. The Psalm manifestly proceeds from a prosperous condition of the people of God, on which the eye of the
Psalmist lingers with delight." "This Psalm," says Dr. Alexander, "is an effusion of holy joy, occasioned by the sight of the gathering of Israel, as one great household, at the yearly feasts."
ON THE OCCASION OF THE JOYFUL GATHERING OF ISRAEL AT THE HOLY FESTIVALS IN ZION, AFTER THE REMOVAL OF THE ARK FROM KIRJATH-JEARIM.
The benefit of the communion of saints.
↑ A Song of Degrees of David.
1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell 'together in unity!
2 It is like "the precious ointment upon the head, That ran down upon the beard-even Aaron's beard, That went down to the skirts of his garments;
8 As the dew of Hermon,
And as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion:
For there the LORD commanded the blessing,
Even life for evermore.
1 Heb. even together. Genesis 18. 8.
a Exod. 80. 25, 80.
b Deut. 4 48.
© Lev. 25. 21. Deut. 28. 8. Psa. 42. 8.
INTRODUCTION TO PSALMS II, XVI, AND CX.
PSALMS OF DAVID.
About five years after the removal of the ark to Zion, and in the fifteenth year of David's reign, when God had given peace to the nation, and the people were rejoicing in their enlarged freedom and prosperity, as the king was one day surveying his palace and the royal structures which adorned Mount Zion, he was affected with the contrast between his own house and the humble tent in which the ark of God rested. And "the king said to Nathan the prophet, 'See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains."" David had, indeed, built him a palace of the costly cedar of Lebanon, fashioned and beautified by the skill of the best Phoenician artists, while near to the palace the ark rested in a cloth tent, according to the manner originally prescribed to Moses in the wilderness. (See Exodus xxvi.) For four hundred and forty-six years the ark had been thus preserved with primitive simplicity within curtains. At no time had God required of the Hebrews a more expensive place for his abode. The thought, however, of building a temple for Jehovah, is now suggested to the pious heart of the king, and calling the prophet Nathan, he makes known to him his desire. It was a grand as well as pious conception, and the first impulse of the prophet approved the design; but a subsequent revelation instructed him that it was not the Divine will that David should build this house, but that this honour should be reserved for his son, who should succeed him on the throne. Nevertheless, as the proposal of David arose from a right heart, and evinced a pious concern for the honour of Jehovah, the prophet is instructed to deliver to the king a very remarkable promise, or rather chain of promises, embracing the largest personal, family, and national blessings. 2 Samuel vii, 1-17.
This prophetic message was of the highest importance to David, in relation both to its political and spiritual aspects. It confirmed, by a Divine sanction, the permanent location of
the ark at Jerusalem, thus finally defeating the rival pretensions of Ephraim; (see Introduction to the preceding Psalm;) it settled the crown by hereditary descent upon the house of David forever, to the exclusion of the family of Saul; it foretold the future peace and independence of the kingdom, resting tranquil in the midst of powerful and hostile nations; and, above all, it opened a gleam of light upon the great object of the nation's hope-the person and kingdom of the Messiahwhich the prophetic eye of the king of Israel now saw, more clearly than ever, to be the transcendent prototypes of his own.
It is hence that to this occasion date some of the sublimest of the Messianic Psalms, in which the person of the Son of God-not only as the anointed king in Zion, or the spiritual Israel, but also in his sacerdotal character, as the "High Priest" of a better covenant-is celebrated in strains doctrinally profound and accurate, and at the same time poetically grand and beautiful. From these Psalms, and others written on subsequent occasions, the New Testament writers repeatedly quote. To them we still refer for some of the sublimest views of Messiah's kingdom, especially in its public relations to the human family, its spiritual fruits, and its triumphant progress round the world.
From this period of David's history an unprecedented impulse is given to evangelical prophecy. Never before had the language and the inspiration of the prophets reached such an elevation. Never before had the transcendent grandeur of the Gospel been blended with such pure, spiritual views of religion, and familiarized and sanctified in song. So far as the Book of Psalms is concerned, the period intervening from this date to about the fifteenth year of Solomon's reign, a period of about forty years, must be accounted the golden age of Messianic prophecy; a fact which clearly indicates that the Hebrew nation had, at this time, attained not only its highest elevation of power and splendour, but had already reached its maximum of internal prosperity, piety, and happiness. After the days of David, the nation does not seem to have been blessed in an equal degree with the spirit of evangelical prophecy, during a period of three hundred years, until the days of the prophet Isaiah.
ON THE DELIVERY OF THE PROMISE BY NATHAN TO DAVID-A PROPHECY OF CHRIST'S KINGDOM.
The opposition of the heathen to Christ and his kingdom, 1–3; his dominion and triumph over them, 4-9; kings are exhorted to submit to Christ, 10-12.
1 Why do the heathen 'rage,
And the people 'imagine a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the rulers take counsel together,
Against the LORD, and against his Anointed, saying,
3 "Let us break their bands asunder,
And cast away their cords from us."
4 Hed that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh:
The LORD shall have them in derision.
5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, And 'vex them in his sore displeasure.
6 Yet have I 'set my king
'Upon my holy hill of Zion.
I will declare the decree:
The LORD hath said unto me, "Thou art
This day have I begotten thee.
8 Ask of me,
And I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheri
a Pss. 46. 6. Acts 4. 25. 26.
1 Or, tumultuously assemble. 2 Heb. meditate.
And the uttermost parts of the earth for thy posses
b Psa. 45. 7. John 1. 41.
e Jer. 5. 5. Luke 19. 14. d Psa. 11. 4.
9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron:
Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel."