By Henry Mahan
Our Lord told the disciples, 'All things must be fulfilled, which are written in the law of Moses, in the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me.'(Luke 24:44). In preparing these lessons on 'Preaching Christ From the Old Testament,' it would be impossible to omit this Psalm, if only for Verse 10. God's mercy and truth, righteousness and peace meet only in Christ.
v. 1. The author of this Psalm speaks of the past mercy and favor of God to the land of Israel and the people of Israel. The Lord brought them out of bondage and captivity. But all believers are the true sons of Jacob and seed of Abraham (Rom. 2:28-29; Gal. 3:7, 28-29). The land of the Lord is the kingdom of Christ, the church of Christ is true Israel and sons of Jacob (Mal. 3:6), and the captivity out of which he has brought us is the bondage of sin (Gal. 3:10, 13). This is a Psalm of victory and rejoicing of all believers of all ages and nations.
vv. 2-3. In these verses four things stand out prominently.
1. The author of all spiritual blessings. 'Thou hast. . .;' 'Thou hast been favorable;' 'Thou hast brought back the captivity. . .'; 'Thou hast forgiven. . .;' 'Thou hast covered. . .;' 'Thou hast taken away. . .' Salvation is of the Lord in its entirety, from its origination in eternity past to its consummation in glory (Rom. 8:29-30).
2. The people who are so blessed are his people.
'Jacob have I loved; Esau have I hated' (Rom. 9:11-16).
They are his people by divine choice (John 6:37-39), his people by divine purchase (Acts 20:28; John 10:11), and his people by a divine call (1 Cor. 1:26-30).
3. The blessing of his covenant. 'Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people;' not without price, for he was bruised for our iniquities (Isa. 53: 4-6), and our iniquity was laid on him. The reference here is to the scapegoat of Leviticus 16:20-22. 'Thou hast covered all their sin.' God set forth Christ to be a mercy-seat and a covering for sin, as the blood was sprinkled upon the mercy-seat of old (Lev. 16:15-16; Rom. 3:25).
4. The extent of these blessings. 'Thou hast forgiven all their sin (1 John 1:7; Heb. 10:17) and thou hast taken away all thy wrath (Rom. 5:1, 8:1).
vv. 4-5. In salvation there is the removal of God's wrath upon us (2 Cor. 5:19), and there is the removal of our enmity toward him. 'Be ye reconciled to God' (2 Cor. 5:20). Both are accomplished by the power of God (Psalm 110:3). The wrath of God is turned from us by the obedience and death of Christ, and our enmity is turned away in regeneration by the Holy Spirit giving us a new heart to love God (Rom. 5:5).
v. 6. When we were dead men, like Ezekiel's bones, God did revive us and give us life in Christ. 'Wilt thou not revive us again?' and again? for we are in constant need of refreshing and renewal by his Spirit. 'That thy people may rejoice in thee;' never in themselves nor their doings (Phil. 3:3). We can find at all times ten thousand reasons to rejoice in the Lord and in his mercy.
v. 7. 'Show us thy mercy, O Lord.' It is the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed (Lam. 3:22-26). All is mercy from first to last. Mercy passed by us in our blood and said, 'Live.' Mercy covered our nakedness with his robe of righteousness. Mercy washed away our sins and gave us repentance and faith. Mercy keeps us in the way and will not let us go until mercy has wrought its perfect work, conforming us to his image. 'Grant us thy salvation.' It is thy salvation. The plan is his, the provision is his, the application is his, the sustaining power is his, and the consummation is his. It is all of grace! The work whereby a dead, defiled sinner is lifted from the dunghill, washed, and made ready for the presence of the Lord is of God and of him only. Grant to us that perfect salvation!
v. 8. 1 will hear thy word, O Lord! O, how vital is the word of God to his people! By his word he speaks peace in Christ. His word is the foundation of faith ( Rom. 10:17), the source of comfort, the means of growth (1 Peter 2:2), and the children's bread. Let us not turn again to sin nor to the beggarly elements, but find rest and all we need in him. There is no provision, protection against sin and apostasy nor daily peace to be found anywhere except in his word!
v. 9. Our Lord is always near and with them that fear him, no matter the circumstances. He will never leave nor forsake us (Phil. 1:6), that he may be glorified and his glory may dwell in his kingdom.
v. 10. O, what a declaration! What good news! These four divine attributes parted, as far as we are concerned, at the fall of Adam. Mercy was inclined to save men and peace could not be his enemy; but truth must order the death of the rebel, for 'God will by no means clear the guilty,' and righteousness demands perfect obedience to every jot and tittle of God's holy law. All of the divine attributes are in Christ, for he is very God of very God; but mercy and truth met in Christ on our behalf, and righteousness and peace kissed each other at Calvary. God is a just God and a Saviour! In the obedience and death of Christ for sinners, God is enabled to be both just and justifier (Rom. 3: 25- 26).
v. 11. Promises which lie unfulfilled like buried seeds shall spring up in full view (Heb. 11:13), and God's righteousness shall rest upon his people like an open window in heaven. The person of Christ explains this verse most sweetly. In him truth is found in our humanity (Isa. 53:1), and his deity brings righteousness to us from heaven (2 Cor. 5:21).
vv. 12-13. Every good and perfect gift is from him, and nothing good will he withhold from his people. He has willed our eternal good and is working all things together to accomplish it (Rom. 8:28). The righteousness by which we are justified and accepted in Christ has gone before, and he has set us in the steps our Lord already walked.