By Henry Mahan
One reason why I have chosen for us to study this Psalm is because of what Martin Luther said: 'This is my Psalm, my chosen Psalm. I love them all; I love all holy scripture, which is my consolation and my life. But this Psalm is nearest my heart and I have a particular right to call it my own. It has saved me from many a pressing danger. It is my friend, dearer to me than all the honors and powers of the earth. Would to God that all men would claim the Psalm as especially theirs.'
Another reason is because of the number of times the New Testament refers to Verse 22 (Matt.21:42: Acts 4:11-12; Eph. 2:20). If the Lord Jesus and the apostles select an Old Testament scripture and apply it to our Redeemer, it would be wise for us to consider it in our study of Old Testament pictures of Christ. This Psalm, indeed, belongs to the Messiah; and though David is the author, we hear Christ, the son of David, speak.
v. 1. 'O give thanks unto the Lord' for all of his mercies, temporal and spiritual, in the name of Christ (Eph. 1:3). 'For he is good;' goodness is his nature and essence. He is the fountain of all goodness and the author of all good things (James 1:17). 'His mercy endureth forever.' All of his goodness to us is mercy, for we are undeserving sinners (Exo. 33:18-19). He told Moses that his chief glory is his goodness and eternal mercies (Rom. 9:15-16).
vv. 2-4. 'Let Israel now say that his mercy is forever;' not only those he led from Egypt but all true Israel, both Jew and Gentile (Rom. 2:28-29). The Israel that God has chosen and redeemed in Christ rejoices in his eternal covenant mercies.
'Let the house of Aaron now say that his mercy is forever;' not just those priests who went into the Holy of holies with the sacrifice, but all believers; for we are all priests of God and offer spiritual sacrifices unto him, especially praise (Heb. 10:19).
'Let them now that fear the Lord say that his mercy is forever.' A truly God-fearing man, conscious of his sin and need, is deeply conscious of God's mercy! 'There is forgiveness with thee that thou mayest be feared' (Psalm 130:4).
v. 5. The Lord heard David in his distress and exalted him to a large place, the throne of Israel. And so he did our Messiah when he raised him from the dead and exalted him to his own right hand. He has brought all believers out of the pit into large places, such as the liberty of Christ, green pastures, still water, and ultimately God's heaven. 'If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.'
vv. 6-7. 'The Lord is for me' (Rom. 8:31). Who can be against me? Man can do nothing more than God permits. Our Messiah had no fear of all the faces of evil against him on earth or in the universe. The Messiah shall reign until the last enemy, which is death, shall be destroyed. No enemy shall succeed against his church (Rom. 8:35-39).
vv. 8-9. It is good, wise, and safe to trust only in the Lord. He is willing, able, faithful to his word, and unchanging in his promises. Man is none of these things (Phil. 3:3), not even princes nor the chief among them.
vv. 10-12. All of the neighboring nations about Judea were enemies of Israel. David fought against them and in the name and power of the Lord defeated them as he did Goliath. But these verses especially seem to refer to the Messiah (Acts 4:26- 28; Isa. 53:1-3; Psalm 22:11-16). They are like bees in the number and wrath of them or like thorns which are useless and fit only to be burned, yet they cause great pain. But in the name of the Lord, in the majesty of his name, calling upon God to glorify him, for the accomplishment of his purpose, Christ shall defeat and destroy sin, Satan, the world, death, and hell (Isa. 53:10-12).
vv. 13-14. It being in the name and power of the Lord that his enemies were destroyed when they came upon him, David gives all the glory to God. 'God helped me.' God is my strength, my song, and my salvation. Apply this to the Messiah (Acts 2:22-24; Acts 13:28-30; Phil. 2:8-11). The Father raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand.
vv. 15-16. All Israel rejoiced when David was raised to the throne, as throughout the heavens and earth the voice of rejoicing is heard on account of the victory of Christ, our Lord (Psalm 24:7-10). 'The right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly and is exalted.' Is this not Christ who sitteth at God's right hand? (Psalm 110:1; Heb. 1:3.)
vv. 17-18. David knew that he must die physically as all men die, but 'I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever' and 'declare the works of the Lord.' Christ said, 'He that believeth on me shall never die.' Over them the second death has no power.
Again this refers to the Messiah who was chastened severely for our sins (Isa. 53:4-6); but he saw no corruption and ever lives. He died but forever lives, and because he lives we shall live.
vv. 19-21. Who but Christ can require the gates of righteousness to be opened to him? By his obedience and blood the gates of the holiest are opened to him and his people (Psalm 24:3-10). Our glorious Redeemer is our sanctification, righteousness, and the author and finisher of our salvation. We are righteous in him (2 Cor. 5:21) and enter glory by him.
v. 22. No doubt who this is! Read Matt. 21:42-44 and Acts 4:10- 12. He is the tried stone, the precious cornerstone, the sure foundation (Isa. 28:16), which the Jews refused. He is the fulfillment of all their tabernacle, types, and sacrifices; but they could not see (Rom. 11:7-10) and would not see!
v. 23. This stone is from the Lord God. Christ is of his appointment, and his will, and the laying, and even the rejection of that cornerstone is through his permission and will (Acts 2:23; Acts 4:27-28). His death, resurrection, and exaltation are of the Lord, and our understanding of, and faith in him, are the Lord's doings. He is precious, marvelous and so is his grace!
v. 24. This day of redemption reigned over by the Sun of Righteousness is the day God hath made from all eternity! Those who have eyes to see and hearts to believe rejoice and are glad in it (2 Cor. 6:2).