AN EASTER SELECTION
By way of INTRODUCTION.
TRUTH has been out of fashion since man changed his robes of fadeless light for a garment of faded leaves. It is natural to compromise conscience and follow the social and religious fashion for the sake of gain or pleasure: it is divine to sacrifice both on the altar of Truth and Duty. Men are never faithful in crowds. Our nearest and dearest can and, at times, will fail us. The people God is looking for today are Christian men and women, young and old, who will obey their convictions of truth and duty at the cost of fortune and friends and life itself. It is to those who are regenerate that Jesus says, (Matthew 7: 14): “Narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
murdered alone. Enoch
watched alone. Noah preached of
coming judgment alone. Abraham
offered Isaac alone. Jacob wrestled
God alone. Samson
repented alone. David fought
Elijah sacrificed on
God’s people in the desert praised Abraham and persecuted Moses. God’s people under the Kings praised Moses and persecuted the prophets. God’s people under Caiaphas praised the prophets and persecuted Jesus. God’s people under the Popes, praised the Saviour and persecuted the saints: and multitudes now, both in the Church and in the world, applaud the courage and fortitude of the patriarchs and prophets, the apostles and martyrs, but condemn as stubbornness or foolishness like faithfulness to truth today!
God is never alone. He never has
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord:” (1 Corinthians 15: 58, A.V.).
“They lead Jesus therefore from Caiaphas into the Praetorium: and it was early; and they themselves entered not into the Praetorium, that they might not be defiled, but might eat the Passover. Pilate therefore went out unto them, and saith, What accusation bring ye against this man? They answered and said unto him, If this man were not an evil-doer, we should not have delivered him up unto thee. Pilate therefore said unto them, Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law. The Jews said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death: that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying by what manner of death he should die.
Pilate therefore entered again into the Praetorium, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? Jesus answered, Sayest thou this of thyself, or did others tell it thee concerning me? Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own notion and the chief priests delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from thence. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end have I been born, and to this end am I come into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate said unto him, What is truth?
And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and said unto them, I find no crime in him. But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the Passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews? They cried out therefore again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.” - John 18: 28-40.
DO THE HOLY SCRIPTURES TEACH US THAT THERE WILL BE
A MILLENNIAL KINGDOM ON THIS EARTH FOR GOD’S MESSIAH?
“MY KINGDOM IS NOT
OF THIS WORLD.”
‘They led, therefore, Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium. Now it was early morning; and they did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover.’ John 18: 28.
They must deliver Jesus over to the Romans - the Gentiles. (1) On their side the reason was, because to put Him to death would have drawn down on themselves punishment. (2) On God’s part the reason was, that Jew and Gentile were to prove themselves both sinners, the Jews being deepest in transgression; that Jesus’ death might avail for both.
The Praetorium was
originally the Palace of Herod the Great.
It had now become the residence of the Roman
Governor, who, though
living at Caesarea, ordinarily dwelt during the feasts
‘That they might eat the Passover.’ Those unclean could not celebrate the Passover. And as this was their chief feast, they desired not to be shut out therefrom. But this brings up anew the question – Which was the true day of the Passover? Jesus had already celebrated the Passover on the evening before with the twelve. How then should there be any second eating of it? This is a vexed question, on which learned men have not been able to come to any settled conclusion. Nor is it necessary to the faith, though it carries with it not a few perplexities. The most probable idea, I think, is that there were two times of celebrating it among the Jews, arising out of two different modes of reckoning the time of new moon: that Jesus and His disciples kept the Passover on one of these times, and the other party on another day, according to a different reckoning.
29-32. ‘Pilate therefore went out to them, and said - “What accusation bring ye against this man?” They answered and said unto him - “If He were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered Him up to thee.” Pilate said therefore unto them - “Take ye Him and judge Him according to your Law.” The Jews therefore said unto him - “It is not lawful for us to slay any man.” In order that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled which He spake, signifying by what kind of death He was about to die.’
Pilate humours their religiousness. Since they would not come in to him, he would go out to them. What was their charge against the prisoner? They will not tell Him; for they knew well enough that the charge of blasphemy in making Himself ‘Son of God,’ which was the ground on which they had condemned Jesus in their council, was no offence against Roman law. They wish, therefore, Pilate to pass sentence on Christ without further inquiry, assuming that so venerable a body would not be guilty of any injustice, and had declined all according to their Law. Hence they do not even state the ground of their condemnation, only generally that He was a ‘malefactor,’ or ‘evil-doer,’ while they had condemned Him for evil-speaking.
Pilate refuses to be made a
tool of theirs. ‘If
you pronounce sentence,
carry it out in execution according to your Law.’
the confession that their sentence was of death; so
that while they would
gladly execute Jesus, the law of
Now, this hindrance was in
accordance with God’s mind about His Son’s death. For had they
been able to put our Lord to
death on their occasion, and according to Mosaic Law,
He must have been stoned. But the
Scripture and the word of Christ had
decided, that His death was to be in another manner –
by nailing to the
alone, according to the word
[* By stoning, too, most of the bones would be broken, while of the Passover lamb it was forbidden. ‘Not a bone of it shall be broken.’]
33, 34. ‘Pilate entered in therefore again, into the Praetorium, and called Jesus, and said unto Him - “Thou art the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered him - “Of thyself sayest thou this; or did others say it to thee about Me?”’
Pilate’s words should be
read as an interrogation put in the form of
affirmation, as when we say -
‘You are going to
We may state it thus - ‘Dost thou put the question of thy own proper motion?’ Then that may arise (1) from faith, accepting the Scriptures of the Jews, as foretelling a universal king of David’s line; or (2) from Roman and political unbelief; through jealousy of Jesus’ pretensions, as hostile to the Emperor.
The Roman’s reply seems to be especially directed primarily to negative the first of these points. And the second part of the reply removes the other. Thus He leaves the Jews as the sole authors of this accusation.
35, 36. ‘Pilate answered - “Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered Thee up to me: what hast Thou done?” Jesus answered - ‘My kingdom cometh not out of this world; if it were out of this world, then would My servants have fought, in order that I should not be delivered up to the Jews, but now My kingdom is not from thence.’
The first part of Pilate’s
is a proud denial of his having any sympathy with
Jewish fables and
neither knew nor cared
anything about Moses and the prophets.
He was a servant of the fourth great empire of
Daniel, and believed
nought about any greater empire of God, that should
dash to earth that of
He tells Jesus, that the
accusation was put into His mouth by the nation and
is one which is much quoted by anti-millenarians. To their
eyes it demolishes all ideas of any
reign of Christ in person over
There words refer not only
to the twelve and our Lord’s prohibition of the sword
in the Garden to them;
but also to His refusal to attempt to set up the
How shall we take the ‘now’ in our Lord’s closing words? 1. Is it a particle of time? ‘For the present My kingdom of not from the world.’ No! For the source of the Lord’s kingdom would always abide the same; always would its source be heavenly. The Father’s will is to bestow it on the Son, and His decree is that it should be established, not by the armies of men, but by the host of angels from on high. (2) The last clause, ‘not from hence,’ establishes the rendering here given; and the sense - ‘Heaven, not earth, is the source of our Lord’s future [millennial] kingdom.’
For the Saviour could not
deny that His kingdom was one day to rule over the
Our Lord does not answer the
question, ‘What He had done?’ till the
next reply. What
is the Saviour’s
kingdom? ‘A kingdom,’ most
reply, ‘in the hearts of
His people.’ Nay, the
kingdom is to be seen when He is beheld coming in
the clouds, with power of His
angels, casting His foes into the furnace of fire,
and rewarding His
well-behaved and faithful servants (Matt.
24. & 25.)
Says Pilate, ‘Thy people,
O king, have
delivered Thee up to me,
as an offender to be
slain!’ And Jesus,
while owning Himself ‘King of the Jews,’ as the
Prophet had declared, must yet say, that on worldly
grounds His servants would
have fought against the Jews, as against enemies. ‘All
foundations are out of course.’ That
‘Jesus is King of
37. ‘Pilate saith therefore unto Him, “Thou art a King then.” Jesus answered, “Thou sayest that I am a King. I was for this purpose born, and for this purpose came into the world, in order that I should bear witness to the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice.”’
Jesus had thrice spoken of ‘His kingdom.’ But if so, He owned Himself to be a King.
Jesus admits it. In what sense? Some pervert His words, as if the following sentiments of our Lord were descriptive of the nature of His kingdom. As though He had said, ‘I am King in a figurative sense. I reign spiritually in the hearts of My people. I am King: but My realm is that of grace and truth.’ Now if this were the only passage, there might be some appearance of truth in such a view. But when we bring in other passages, it is apparent that this is a mistake. The only shelter which the sentiment can find lies in this, that the present time is the time of the kingdom in mystery, and the present day is that of ‘the word of the kingdom.’
But it must never be forgot,
that both in the other Gospels and in this, Jesus was
asked whether He were ‘the King of the
question Jesus answered in the affirmative.
is certain, that Jesus’
kingdom is not
chiefly a figurative one, but a real and literal
one, (1) over the nation of
The nature of the kingdom, then, is wholly misapprehended by those who make it something figurative and present. This is not truly the time of the Saviour’s kingdom. We are to pray for its coming; not for its extension. The kingdom, generally, means the kingdom in manifestation, not ‘the word of the kingdom’ only. It is to overthrow the kingdoms of the earth when it comes; not as now, while in mystery: its adherents lying passive in the hands of the kings of the earth, and refusing to take power in, and over, the world.
Jesus was offered all the
This was ‘the good confession’ before Pilate, which cost our Lord His life, (1 Tim. 6: 13).
(1) In Daniel 7: 14-27, ‘the Son of Man’ as ‘Ancient of Days,’ puts down by force and justice the fourth empire, and its blaspheming King; while He gives the kingdom which He has taken away from the Blasphemer, to His fellow-kings. (2) So in the parable of the Pounds (Luke 19.) The nobleman is gone to heaven to obtain His kingdom. He does not exercise it while in heaven: it is only at His return, after the reception of His kingdom, that He exercises it. And how does He manifest it? By exalting His friends and faithful servants; and by destroying His foes. That is, His kingdom never means an inward and invisible kingdom in the hearts of believers.
(3) While the Writer of Hebrews proclaims Jesus as being now the ‘Priest after the order of Melchizedek,’ He speaks also of the day when the Kingly side of that title shall appear. For Melchizedek was both Priest and King, of which the history of Abraham gives us a typical glimpse. He brings blessings to Abraham and his sons, after their Gentile foes are cut off (Heb. 7: 1).
(4) His kingdom is to manifest itself in resurrection, at His coming with the trumpet of heaven. It is to be based on the principle of righteousness; in opposition to that of mercy, now in force. Christ is to reign, not only spiritually over friends, but specially in the putting down by power and righteousness, all enemies. So says Paul, 1 Cor. 15: 24-28 - ‘Then cometh the end, when He shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For He (God) hath put all things under His (Christ’s) feet. But when He saith, all things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted, which did put all things under Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.’ (5) The same thing appears in Rev. 11: 15-18, when the seventh trumpet sounds; then the kingdoms of earth become, by the putting forth of God’s might, and the recalling of the power lent in Noah’s day to the sons of men - ‘the kingdoms of the Lord, and of His Christ.’ At that time the nations were not converted and obedient, but are angry with God, and God is angry with them, even to the cutting off of their armies by battle (Rev. 19: 11-21; Isa. 34.) Then appears the other side of the matter - the kingdom comes, as the time of the reward for God’s saints of previous dispensations. (6) Accordingly, the thing is shown in the Apocalypse in detail by Christ coming with the armies out of the sky; when, finding the hosts of earth arrayed against Him under two leaders of especial wickedness, He casts the two into the lake of fire, and slays the rest; his title then becoming openly ‘King OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS’ (Rev. 19: 16). (7) After that, and the imprisonment of Satan, the kingdom is fully manifested. Christ reigns, and His martyrs who suffered for, and served, Him, sit on thrones, and reign with Christ (20: 4-6). They then exercise justice:- not, as now, suffer oppression patiently.
‘The kingdom,’ therefore is to be taken in its usual and literal sense.
(1) The future
But to return to our Lord’s words. Lest Pilate and others should imagine that His kingly aspect was the only one attaching to Him, He proceeds to assert at greater length that side of His mission, which John’s Gospel especially unfolds - His being a witness to the truth of God as the Only-begotten Son. This feature can only belong to His kingdom during the time of mystery. The receivers of the witness of Christ in this day are preparing to be fellow-kings (not merely ‘subjects,’ as is generally said) with Christ. ‘They lived and reigned with the Christ,’ who suffered with Him in the day of mystery (2 Tim. 2: 12; Rev. 20: 4-6).
Jesus, then, sets Himself forth in a new light, and that in a way adapted to lead to the salvation of Pilate as the man.
Jesus is The Witness. So Isaiah said He should be (Isa. 55: 4), ‘Behold, I have given Him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people.’ This is a passage taken from the general call of the prophet to the sons of men, to seek in the Son of God the satisfaction that can be found alone in Him. There also is, first, a reference to the millennium in the expression ‘the sure mercies of David’ - that is, the restoration of His kingdom for ever as God promised. Then comes the notice of the Lord’s establishing Christ as a witness to the nations (Rev. 1: 5, 6).
Jesus was ‘born’ a king, and with an object before His own mind, as well as before His Father’s. He existed before He was ‘born.’ He came into the world, in pursuance of an object given Him of the Father.
The then present work of our Lord was that of the peaceful, suffering witness, testifying to unpopular truth. This testimony is carried on still in Christ’s members; by the [Holy] Spirit given to testify to salvation now, and to the [millennial] kingdom to come. This attitude is something quite different from kingly rule and power. It is ‘the word of the kingdom’ now; the power of it comes only when Christ returns (Matt. 13: 19).
Jesus, then, in verse 37 is stating to Pilate, not the aim of His kingdom; but His coming the first time in the flesh. It will be another thing by and bye, when He comes ‘the second time’ in His kingdom, of which the Transfiguration was a type (Matt. 16: 13; 17: 9).
‘To bear witness to the truth.’ Many in our days profess to be fond of the truth, and to be seeking it, but to be sceptical of finding it. Jesus came not to seek it; but, as having full possession of it before He was born, He came to dispense it to others by His testimony. ‘The Truth’ - means that it is a great body and one system; religious truth concerning God and man. Here was the answer to Pilate - ‘What hast thou done?’
‘Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice.’
Here was the appeal to
Pilate that He might be saved.
witness was delivered not to
‘Every one that is of the truth.’
This takes up the figure frequently found in John, of the truth being to us as a father. ‘Begotten of God.’ The men of the world are born ‘flesh of the flesh’ in enmity against God, living in falsehood, and by it turned away from God and His Son.
‘The truth’ is (1) a system of religion not to be discovered by the reason of fallen man; it must be brought to him from heaven as a testimony complete. (2) It must be sent from God through the Son of God, who is, as well as testifies, ‘the Truth.’ (3) For ‘the truth’ turns on the person, work, and witness of the Son. Thus John is carrying out the proof of Jesus’ first coming as the Only-begotten Son of God, ‘full of grace and truth;’ in opposition to Moses, the man of shadows and of Law.
If any, then, refuse Christ, it is because they belong to the old error, falsity, and enmity of fallen Adam. Hearts of unbelief cannot know, or by searching find out God. The un-renewed hate of God, and the account of Him which is given by Christ. Nature cannot, however deeply studied, reveal God, as it is necessary for a sinner to know Him. If any, then, after hearing Christ and His testimony, refuse it, it is because they are still in darkness, and prefer it to the light.
37. ‘Pilate saith unto Him, “What is truth?” And having said this, he again went out to the Jews, and saith to them - “I find no fault in Him.”’
It is evident, that to Pilate ‘truth’ was only a dream, the philosopher’s everlasting wrangle, leading to no serious useful result. ‘He was a practical man that had to deal with life and its realities; a man of action, to preside in power over a province of the chief of earth’s kingdoms. These philosophers who pretend to truth are all at variance with one another! Nothing settled, nothing demonstrated!’ Now, it is true that the evidence of religious truth is not the same as the evidence, that - ‘this is a house’ - ‘yonder is a tree.’ Yet to those willing to learn, the assurance is as great as the perceptions of sense.
Truth as presented to us now is no dream of men, but the revelation of God; it is authoritative, marking out the course which is to be pursued and that to be avoided, as we would attain to His kingdom and glory, and avoid His displeasure. The acceptance of the truth of His testimony now is the way to His kingdom of power hereafter. Present and future happiness are bound up therewith.
Now, as Pilate possessed power, but not principle, he went ever dismally astray; led only by his instincts and his apparent worldly interests; ignorant of the God who would call him to account. Hence he vacillates; staggers to and fro. He will not accept Christ; he will not deny Him. Without principle firmly held, there can be no firmness of conduct.
To him, therefore, Christ is a singular spectacle. ‘To be resting on a kingdom in the clouds, and talking about that will-o’-the-wisp, “truth,” that no man has ever seized! I can now understand how Thou art rejected by Thine own people!’ And so Pilate despises Christ, [and His kingly rule upon this earth] and despises His haters also. For him Christ is too high, and His enemies too low. Not all will accept a Christ* offered.
NOTE. The Greek word ‘Christ’
is “the exact equivalent”
of the Hebrew word ‘Messiah’
- “The looked-for
king and deliverer of the Hebrews.” … “The promise
of God to Abraham, that in
him and his descendants all
was to be blessed (Gen. 12:
1-3, 15: 1
f.), created the
expectancy of a
72 is believed by
many to express the
sentiments of the group that supported the
reformations of the young King
Josiah (2 Kings
22: 1-23; 25);
but in due time the psalm was used and cherished, as
still is, for its
… “On the other hand, the
section - [‘in the
second half of Zechariah
9-14)] - contains
the words quoted at Jesus’ entry into
“And there was given him” - (i.e.,‘Messiah’): God, who cannot lie, often speaks of an event which He will make happen throughout this earth in the near future (Psa. 2: 8, 9), as though it is established today! - “dominion, and glory, and A KINGDOM, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him,” (Dan. 7: 13, 14; cf. Rev. 3: 21; 11: 15; 20; 20: 4.).]
To be a Christian, however, is to have found the truth incarnate in Christ; to have the Spirit of Truth as our Teacher, and to read the Word of God as our store of truth.
‘What is truth?’
it was uttered to Pilate’s
condemnation, for he did not care to wait for an
answer; deeply, eternally, has
it affected him.
That showed His
unbelief in Jesus, and of religious truth in general. It was just
the attitude of most cultivated
Roman and Greek minds of that day.
saw enough to reject the foolish and wicked fables of
their own religion of
in casting away these,
they had nothing better to supply in their place. The
Wherever this is the case, the cry goes up - ‘Truth indeed! There is no such thing! What one calls truth, another says is falsehood! Nothing is certain, but that no certainty is to be had! It is all illusion of the human mind. There is no stable external reality of truth. Man is the measure of all things.’*
[* ‘O God, if there be a God, save my soul, if I have a soul,’ was the final expression of doubt.]
Such persons can have no settled principles to control or guide them. They drift, as did Pilate, with circumstances.
But what says God? What says the Gospel?
It speaks of truth as being in its essence lodged in God. It is discovered to us here as abiding in two Divine Persons, and testified by them. 1. The first of these is the Son of God, who came, bringing from above the wondrous revelation of God and man, Himself being the Light, who by His life, death, resurrection, and word, makes known to us the Father; and, by contrast, man the fallen (John 1: 14; 14: 6).
2. The Second Person in this case is ‘THE [HOLY] SPIRIT OF TRUTH’ (14: 17; 15: 26; 16: 13). He searches all the truth of God, and possesses it. He testifies to the Son of God, who is ‘The Truth’ embodied. He turns men from the falsehood of the devil, and from enmity against God, into love and light.
3. THE SCRIPTURE is the written truth, put into our hands, specially the New Testament (John 1: 17, 18). In that is treasured the testimony concerning Christ, as our only way to the truth of God, indited by the wisdom of the Spirit of God. These three agree in one. They are the sinner’s way to the truth (1) about himself; his utter loss, his deep-seated evil, his blindness, his condemnation, his constant hatred of God, and eternal suffering of the wrath and justice of God, as being God’s eternal sentence against the everlasting sinner against the Most High.! The Scriptures are the sinner’s way to the truth, (2) concerning God. How alone infinite justice can be reconciled to the unrighteous, how pardon can be dispensed to the guilty, and benefits heaped upon the unworthy, through Christ.
Hereupon Pilate declares to
the Jews, that their accusation was a false one. He had
tested our Lord on the one point on
which alone he had a right to be jealous.
one, who would by
His seditious principles and
practices as a man on earth give trouble, if He
had the opportunity, to
Hereupon he was quite satisfied, that Jesus,
if left at liberty, would no more disturb the
government of Rome over Israel
than He had already done.
declared, that the source of the kingdom He expected was not human swords.
Had it been
so, the occasion which brought Him before Pilate would
have been sure to have
manifested His intention to fight.
as for any kingdom established by armies from heaven,
Pilate had no fear about that!
Moreover, in the Saviour’s testimony
concerning truth, as the especial subject engaging His
sojourn on earth, he
beheld in Jesus the harmless dreaming enthusiast, who
might safely be left
alone to tread as He pleased the ways of
Thus ‘the Lamb of God,’ who was to bear the sin of the world, is examined by the Gentile, as well as the Jew; and both are constrained to own that it has no blemish. The ‘I’ is emphatic. It sets His testimony in designed contrast to theirs. ‘You accuse Him as the guilty conspirator against Caesar. I find no such fault in Him.’ But neither Pilate’s witness, nor that of Judas, checks the men of unbelief. ‘I find in Him no fault at all!’ Dismiss the charges against Him then! Put Him within the castle in safety from His foes, as did the Governor on Paul’s behalf. But no! The man who knows not what truth is, has no certain footing. He scourges the innocent!
* * *
THE GOLDEN AGE
D. M. PANTON, B.A.
The Golden Age of earth - which was never nearer than it is at this moment since the fall of Adam - is the key to a lock the wards of which it exactly fits. Either because world-conditions are now so ripe as to compel a Divine Dictatorship or else annihilation, or else because Satan, whose wisdom lies in imitation of God, is awkwardly counterfeiting what is coming - never, to a watchful eye, was our Lord’s Reign on earth so inevitable as a climax to the present world crisis, or more perfect for capping modern conditions. The great world movements - disarmament, annihilated war, competent leadership, efficient government, a restored Palestine, leagues of nations - are crying aloud, by their very hopeless and constant miscarriage, for the Ideal Empire in which, as photographed millenniums before these movements began, they are all summed up and perfectly solved.
The supreme fact of the Kingdom, bulking huge on its thresholds as its absorbing vision, is the King; and the coming World Dictator is a man, for to man alone has God made the earth subject; and he is of Israel’s blood, for to Israel alone has been granted the throne of the nations. Immediately after Isaiah has depicted the forest of the nations as devastated by divine judgments, he says:- “And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots shall bear fruit” (Isa. 11: 1). From the prostrate trunk of Jesse, out of its buried roots - the stump remaining above the ground when a tree is felled (J. A. Alexander, D.D.) - a Man ascends David’s universal Throne.
It is extraordinary what emphasis is now laid on the attributes and equipment of a perfect Dictator, an equipment which this Ruler is unique. “And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; and his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.” The ‘Seven spirits of God’ which are before the Throne (Rev. 5: 6) - that is, the Holy Spirit in sevenfold manifestation and in immeasurable fulness, transient gifts, but in permanent attributes - upon Him. The Spirit as equipment for practical work is strikingly revealed in Bezaleel:- “I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship to devise cunning works.” (Exod. 31: 3).
The sevenfold equipment is most wonderful. (1) Wisdom - special sagacity when called as a ruler to judge difficult, complex cases, the mastery of principles and abstract truth before concrete decisions are taken; (2) understanding - keen, quick discernment, to do the right thing, to say the right word; (3) counsel - the power to form wise plans, efficiency of administration, the mature sovereign and diplomat; (4) might - absolute mastery to enforce decisions when force is right; (5) knowledge - a limitless mastery of the facts; (6) the fear of the Lord - a perfect Vice-consul of Heaven; and (7) delight in the fear of the Lord - constant and joyous goodness. It is the wonderful Lord of Earth that is coming.
So we arrive at the practical administration.
“And he shall not judge after the
sight of his eyes,
neither reprove after the
hearing of his ears.” Statesmen and judges can do
more: they hear the evidence, they watch the
witnesses, and their consequent
judgments are not seldom correct; but it is the
Godhead of the Spirit resting
on Christ which, knowing everything,
unerringly. So “with righteousness shall he judge
the poor, and reprove
- therefore inflicting punishment with exquisite justice
- “for the meek of the earth.” Class war is a
solution of a real problem: in the Lord’s [Millennial] Kingdom every man gets his due and bears his due; and every class is met with perfect
For all is backed
by sinless force. “Force,” says the Nineteenth Century (July, 1934),
“stalks naked through
* The immense status of the inhabitants of the Kingdom - presumably rulers, though our Lord’s words do not so limit it - He has amazingly portrayed:- “Among them that are born of women there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist: yet he that is but little in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matt 11: 11).
No more penetrating revelation could be given of what the Kingdom means than the passing of savagery from the animal world. In what our Lord Himself calls “the REGENERATION” - earth’s second birth - “when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory” (Matt. 19: 28), the wild beasts, one of God’s four sore judgments (Ezek. 14: 21) with which he will yet scourge the earth (Rev. 6: 8), are not exterminated, but changed; and so perfectly is it the Kingdom of Peace that the tiger and the snake shall “lie down” - no longer crouching to leap - with the kindly ox and the gentle sheep. “And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the basilisk’s den.” The Lord is the Last Adam ruling once again in an un-fallen creation. The most dangerous reptiles will submit to the ruling of a little child. The fearful difficulty at the heart of nature is gone for ever:-
Who trusted God was love indeed,
And love creation’s final law,
Tho’ nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravine, shriek’d against his creed.
For Paul has crowded the whole philosophy of the world’s agony into one prophecy which the Kingdom alone can fulfil (Rom. 8: 20):- “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.”
One of the vast prophecies of the Bible - magnificent, incomprehensible, bewilderingly beautiful - now opens on our vision. “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” All violence, injustice, assassination, cruelty will have passed from the world: throughout the whole earth, which is but a slope of the Mount of God, no one hurts or destroys. And the reason is given - the boundless knowledge of God. In all earlier ages, regenerating knowledge - “whom to know is eternal life” - was at most in lakes and inland seas: vast continents of ignorance, doubt, atheism blackened the earth: now the all-changing knowledge of God is a world - covering ocean - no land is heathen, no race infidel, no soul ignorant. With the transfer to industry or social need of the £1,000,000,000 now spent annually on armaments, together with the vast capital sums expended on the repression of crime; the re-absorption of the ability and power now invested in gigantic institutions of national offence and defence; the abolishing of all traffic and tariff barriers now holding up commerce; the elimination of the fearful incubus of disease and death, with their enormous cost - there begins to dawn on us some conception of the coming wealth and wonder of the world.
The vision closes with a view of all nations. “And
come to pass in that day,
that the root of Jesse,
standeth for an ensign of the peoples,
shall the nations seek;
and his resting-place
shall be glorious.” The unity of the race is at
attained, and Jehovah Nissi - ‘the Lord my banner’- is the rallying ensign of all nations, the source and
centre of the world’s unity.
And for the restoring of Israel, miracle again intervenes: “and the Lord shall utterly
is, dry up - “the tongue” - the gulf or bay in which it terminates - “of the
- the Arabian Gulf; “and shall smite
[the Euphrates] into
seven streams,” so made easily fordable for crossing.
Enormous is the pedestal of the Millennial
Jew. “In those days,
it shall come to pass that ten men,
out of all the languages of the nations, shall take hold
of the skirt of him that is a Jew,
saying, We will go
with you, for we have heard that God is with you”
THE SECOND ADVENT
“If it were not for the heavenward look,” exclaims Dr. Alexander Maclaren, “how could we bear the sight of earth?” So far from the doctrine of the Lord’s return cutting the nerve of missionary effort, or paralyzing service, it will yet prove the sole solvent of despair. Dr. Duncan Main, of Hang-Chow, one of the sagest and ripest of missionaries, says:- “We do not know anything which so certainly sanctifies life to its highest service in the mission field as this great truth, steadfastly believed and maintained by God’s servants, while they are journeying through this heathen land, not toward darkness but the sun-rising. When through the cloudy mystics, moral mists and half-lights of earth the promise of the [Lord’s] glorious appearing is discerned, it determines not only the direction of the journey but also its character. It settles the question of our real affinities. It corrects and brightens our outlook on the things seen. It forbids pessimism and long-faced Christianity. It smiles at fear and inspires an unquestioning and dauntless courage, and puts stiffening into the backbone. It reveals every difficulty to be but an opportunity of new discovery. It chases all gloom and care from the heart and all weariness from the feet. It keeps the first love alive, and fans the smoking flax into a flame. It puts a new song into willing lips and makes all life tuneful and joyful. It transforms every curse of mourning into a horn of anointing oil. It makes even the lame man leap as a hart, and replaces the tiredness of exhausted nature with buoyant energy.”
* * *
STUDIES IN THE PSALMS
TRANSLATIONS AND EXPOSITIONS
PSALMS 1, 2, 72, 97 & 110.
TRANSLATOR OF “THE EMPHASISED BIBLE.”
English translation from the Septuagint
– (“from the Latin septuaginta,
meaning ‘seventy’ and frequently referred to by the
Roman numerals LXX”)
- a translation from Hebrew
into Greek by seventy (or seventy two) “Jewish
Greek version, has also been included for comparison.]
* * *
PSALMS 1. & 2.
AN ENGLISH TRANSLATION FROM THE SEPTUAGINT
“Blessed is the man who has not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, and has not stood in the way of sinners, and has not sat in the seat of evil [Gk. ‘pestilent’] men. 2 But his pleasure [Gk. ‘will’] is in the law of the Lord, and in his law will he meditate day and night. 3 And he shall be as a tree planted by the brooks of waters, which shall yield its fruit in its season, and its leaf shall not fall off; and whatsoever he shall do shall be prospered.
4 Not so the ungodly; - not so: but rather as the chaff [‘dust’ or ‘down’] which the wind scatters away from the face of the earth. 5 Therefore the ungodly shall not rise in judgment, nor sinners in the counsel of the just. 6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous; but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
2: 1 Wherefore did the heathen rage, and the nations imagine vain things? 2 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers gathered themselves together, against the Lord, and against his Christ; 3 saying, Let us break through their bonds, and cast away their yoke from us.
4 He that dwells in the heavens shall laugh them to scorn, and the Lord shall mock them. 5 Then shall he speak to them in his anger, and trouble them in his fury. 6 But I have been made king by him on Sion his holy mountain, 7 declaring the ordinance of the Lord: the Lord said to me, Thou art my Son, to-day have I begotten thee. 8 Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth for thy possession. 9 Thou shalt rule [Gk. tend them as a shepherd, Rev. 2: 27] them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces as a potter’s vessel.
10 Now therefore understand, ye kings: be instructed, all ye that judge the earth. 11 Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice in him with trembling. 12 Accept correction, lest at any time the Lord be angry, and ye should perish from the righteous way: whensoever his wrath shall be suddenly kindled, blessed are all they that trust in him.”
TRANSLATIONS AND EXPOSITIONS
J. B. ROTHMAN.
1: 1 “How happy* the man -
*Note that the Psalms open with a word of emotion, “How Happy.”
Who hath not walked in the counsel of the lawless,*
Cp. Isa. 13: 11; 15: 5. The use of r-sh’ in allusion to Israelites implies disloyal association with the heathen, the impious outsiders (Ps. 25: 5.) The term is opposed to ‘the righteous’ :
Cf. Exod. 9: 27; Hab. 1: 4, 13; Prov. 3: 33; 28: 1-4, 12, 28; 29: 2. Thirtle.
And in the way of sinners hath not stood,
And in the seat of scoffers hath not sat;
2 But rather in the law* of Jehovah is his delight,
* Or: “instruction.” Cp. 197: 14; 119 passim.
And in his law doth he talk with himself* day and night.
* Heb. Hagah; synonymous with siach, “soliloquise.” Note throughout.
3 So doth he become like a tree planted* beside channels of waters,
* So Driver, Perowne, Delitzsch, Carter, Leeser; but “transplanted” – Briggs.
That yieldeth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also doth not wither, -
And whatsoever he doth he causeth to prosper.*
* Ver. Evidently expand in Jer. 17: 8.
4 Not so the lawless!
But rather as chaff which the wind driveth away,
5 For this cause shall the lawless not rise in the vindication, *
* “That is, in the resurrection which takes place in the judgment, at the end of the age of the world” - Briggs. Cp. Isa. 26: 14, 19; Lk. 14: 14. [See also: Luke 20: 35. cf. Phil. 3: 11; Heb. 11: 35b; Rev. 20: 6. Ed.]
6 For Jehovah doth acknowledge* the way of the righteous,
* More literally: “know”; but sometimes, “know with approval,” “recognise,” “acknowledge.” Cp. 37: 18; Matt. 7: 23; Rom. 8: 29; 2 Tim. 2: 19.
But the way of the lawless shall vanish.
* More literally “perish” … it is “lost,” - is no longer a “way.” Cp. 112: 10.
DESCRIPTIVE TITLE - The Righteous Man and the Lawless contrasted.
ANALYSIS - The Righteous man Described - vers. 1-3: by what he Does Not - ver. 1; by what he Does - ver.
2; and by what he is Like - ver. 3. The Lawless man described, as a Contrast, and by what he is Like - ver. 4;
also by his Doom, negatively expressed
- ver. 5.
Jehovah’s relation to the
This Psalm is a commendation of the godly life. It opens with an expression of admiration for the man who lives that life: which it proceeds to describe in a simple and engaging manner, by telling us what such a man avoids - what he delights in - and what he resembles. He avoids the downward course by not beginning it; he delights in Jehovah’s law, and shows his pleasure in it by diligent study; and he thereby resembles a tree planted in a spot where it is well-watered. Each of these points is enlarged sufficiently to make it impressive. The man described avoids three things: he walks not in the counsel of the lawless - that is, he does not take the advice of those who care not how they live; he stands not in the way of sinners - in other words, he declines bad men as his companions; and he sits not in the seat of scoffers - he refuses to form one of a circle who spend their time and wit in ridiculing religion. The things to be avoided are thus presented in the form of a double climax: worse and worse companions, and more and more submission to their influence. The unprincipled may prepare you for the immoral, and the immoral for the contemptuous: you may take bad advice, then seek bad company, and at last scoff at all goodness. Happy the man who does none of these things! Thrice happy he who has not begun to do them!
But life cannot thrive on negations. He that would hate wickedness must love goodness. Now, as the law, or instruction, of Jehovah, the holy and loving God, affords guidance to a good and holy life, it follows that he who would shun evil will take so much pleasure in divine guidance that he will look out for it, learn it, linger over it. The laws of nature he will revere and observe: the laws of revelation he will welcome and obey. If he is so happy as to know Christ, he will find in him the spirit and sum of all law (1 Cor. 9: 21). Christ will be the law of his being. As the Christ rejoiced that Jehovah’s “law of righteousness was enshrined in his deepest affections” (40: 8), so will Christ’s follower make it his greatest joy to do his Master’s will. The newspaper, the novel, will be less highly esteemed than the Bible. He may be compelled, or find it serviceable, to consult the first; he may be able to choose and utilise the second; but it is to the third that his mind will gravitate, from the third that he will store his memory, in the third that he will discover his songs of immortal hope; and though - not being an Oriental - he may not be heard literally soliloquising [i.e., talking to one’ self] out of the Holy Scriptures, yet will he count every day lost in which he does not gain clearer insight into its wisdom, and will feel every wakeful night-hour soothed which lights up any of its great and precious [conditional as well as eternal] promises.
life thus thrives.
He is like a
well-planted tree -
transplanted that it might be
comes directly under
the care of the Divine Husbandman, whose well-planned
irrigation keeps him constantly supplied with the waters of life through the channels of
appropriate means conducive to spiritual growth and
glory of fruit-bearing trees: learning and liveliness
in youth, steady work
and sturdy endurance in middle life, patience and serene hope in old age as
the better-land draws near
are the fruits to be looked for in the
Not so the lawless: very much “not so”! Surprise, therefore, need not be felt that the Septuagint repeats the negative, both for feeling and for filling out the line: “Not so the ungodly, not so”; even though it must be confessed that the half line in Hebrew is still more effective, and more symmetrically answers to the half-line at the commencement of the psalm. But rather as chaff which the wind driveth away - as of no worth and no further account. For this cause shall the lawless not rise* in the vindication; and, from the Old Testament, scarcely could we learn that they will rise at all: certainly not in the vindication, a well-sustained rendering, which anticipates the distinction made by our Lord when he spake of “the resurrection of the righteous” (Lk. 14: 14). Sinners shall not enter the congregation of the righteous: whose way, life, character will NOT vanish, but continue evermore. For Jehovah doth acknowledge - know, approve, perpetuate - the way of the righteous but the way of the lawless shall vanish - like a track lost in the waste, where no footsteps can make a path. “Only the way of the righteous is derek ‘olam’ [“a way age-abiding”] (139: 24) a way that issues in [both millennial and] eternal life” - Delitzsch.
[* That is, they shall not have attained unto that “resurrection out from the dead” (Phil. 3: 11), and therefore they will not be resurrected at this time for: “The rest of the dead lived not until the thousand years should be finished:” Rev. 20: 5, R.V.: therefore “the resurrection of the righteous,” is one of REWARD for ‘righteous’ living: a reward for one’s personal righteousness: it has nothing whatsoever to do with the imputed righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ. See also Luke 20: 35; Rev. 2: 26. cf. Rev. 3: 15-18.]
This psalm and the next are anonymous, and without any super-scribed or subscribed lines. They are admirably adapted for the purpose they were manifestly intended to serve: namely, as introductory to the whole Book of Psalms - the former penned from a purely ethical point of view, and the latter from a national, Davidic, and Messianic standpoint. One or both of these psalms may have been placed here by Ezra; but each may have been first brought into use as introductory to a smaller and earlier collection. Though probably placed here by Ezra, this first psalm was almost certainly composed by Hezekiah, whose spirit it breathes - as may be seen by a comparison of it with the latter half of Ps. 19 and the whole of Ps. 119, - a conclusion confirmed by the fact that it was expanded by Jeremiah (17: 8) and therefore must have already been in existence.
1 Wherefore have nations consented together?*
* So most probably from meaning of Heb. stem and context; ‘rage’ – A.V., R.V., J.P.S.V.
Or should peoples keep muttering an empty thing?
2 The kings of the earth take their stand,
Against Jehovah and against his Anointed One:-
3 “Let us tear apart their bands,
And cast away from us their cords!”*
* “They are, therefore, at the time of their rebellion subjects of Jahve and His Anointed” – Delitzsch.
4 One enthroned in the heavens will laugh,
My Sovereign Lord will mock at them;
5 Then will he speak to them in his anger,
And in his wrath will dismay them:-
“Yet I have installed my king
** “What is meant is the rising of
the ground of the City of
7 “Jehovah said to me:-
‘My Son art thou,
I to-day have begotten thee:
8 Ask of me, and let me give -
Nations as thine inheritance,
And as thy possession the ends of the earth:
9 Thou shalt shepherd* them with a sceptre of iron,**
*So it should be. “Rule as a shepherd king over them, is more suited to the context of the sceptre even if it be of iron”. So 78: 71, 72. cf. 28: 9; 49: 14; 80: 1; 2 S. 5: 9; 7: 7; Jer. 3: 15; Mi. 5: 4; Eze. 37: 24; Na. 3: 18.
** Cp. Rev. 12: 5; 19: 15.
As a potter’s-vessel shalt thou dash them in pieces.’”
10 Now, therefore ye kings, show your prudence,
Be admonished, ye judges of the earth:
11 Serve ye Jehovah with reverence,
And exult with trembling:
12 Kiss the Son,* lest he be angry,
* So Delitzsch w. strong defence. Others: “worship sincerely” more literally.
And ye perish on the way;
For soon might be kindled his anger.
How happy are all who take refuge in Him!
DESCRIPTIVE TITLE. - The
Messiah’s Reign in
ANALYSIS. - Verses 1-3, A Conspiracy against Jehovah and his Anointed foretold. Verses 4-6, Jehovah’s Counter Proclamation. Verses 7-9. The Messiah’s Claim to the Throne. Verses 10-12, Counsels of Peace.
This psalm is obviously and confessedly Messianic. The word messiah of course means “anointed” - whether applied to David, Hezekiah, or Jesus of Nazareth. On what level this psalm is Messianic, ether on the lower or the higher level, remains to be seen; but Messianic it is, on its surface and down into its deepest depths. To ascertain its scope it must be carefully and correctly interpreted; and this at once raises the whole question of the Interpretation of Prophecy in general, and the exegesis of Messianic Prophecy in particular.
It is here assumed that much Scripture prophecy is typical, and therefore indirect; that is to say, that it first points to a type as foreshadowing some person or thing greater than itself. But it is not here assumed that there is no such thing as direct prediction, going straight to its mark without the intervention of a type: we do not know that and must not take it for granted.
To apply these principles to this first Messianic psalm: let us by all means give preference to the supposition that this psalm is typically prophetic; and see whether that hypothesis* carry us satisfactorily through the whole psalm, doing justice to all its leading statements: statements in any case poetical, but not necessarily extravagant, - save, it may be, apparently so, when intended to go beyond the type to the antitype.
[* That is, the suggestion of a possible explanation put forward to account for certain Scriptural truths and facts; and to see whether they can be proved or disproved from the psalm.]
Now the most striking thing in this psalm is the concerted opposition of certain enemies to Jehovah and his Anointed one; and, next to that, the unique way in which that opposition is overthrown - by counter Divine Proclamation. Who is Jehovah’s Anointed One? Is it David, or Hezekiah, or Jesus of Nazareth? Whoever he is, Divine Sonship as well as Messiahship is attributed to him. Whoever he is, his destiny includes the dominion of the world.
Doubtless, David in his time and degree was Jehovah’s Anointed One; but will the language of the psalm, as a whole, apply to him and find reasonable satisfaction in him? Or, if not in him, then in Hezekiah, or in both combined? But if the two combined - with any other scion [i.e., descendant] of the royal house added to them - still fail to satisfy the outlook of the psalm, - then on what principle are we to be restrained from applying to Jesus of Nazareth the whole psalm, provided we can fairly show that it has been, or is now being, or will certainly yet be exhaustively fulfilled in him?
In point of fact, these two
famous Hebrew monarchs do
fit the terms of the psalm remarkably well - up to a
point; and then completely
fail to satisfy them.
Both David and
Hezekiah were triumphantly enthroned in
But, with all this frankly admitted, it must be maintained that these and other incidents in the Davidic House are simply beggared by the language of the psalm. It is questionable whether the opening scene of the psalm found more than a partial realisation in either of the lives we have so far been considering; but, in any case, neither David nor Hezekiah asked and received universal dominion - which, however, is writ large on the psalm, and cannot be erased by any legitimate plea of poetic licence. Besides, we shall probably do well to guard against bulking out and hardening the type in order to make it as large as the language, fairly interpreted, appears to indicate: in other words we must beware of assuming that the [Holy] Spirit of Prophecy could not easily carry away the psalmist’s mind far beyond any type that was within range of his vision. Let us use types as helps and not as hindrances. We need have no craving to add to the letters of the typical alphabet; but the free Spirit of God may well be expected sometimes to combine those letters in unprecedented forms, and so spell out revelations which have never before been divulged.
If these things are so, then we must beware of inferring that because a clearly foretold event did not happen in the type, therefore it will not be fulfilled in the antitype; or that, seeing it is attenuated to mere shadow in the type, therefore it has no further significance. For example, the appearance of the semblance of a New Birth which we have detected in the life of David, and the still more striking resemblance of a New Birth easily seen in the sickness and recovery of Hezekiah, should not blind us to the comparative feebleness of the fulfilment on either of these lines. David himself was not declared Jehovah’s Son by Nathan the prophet: neither did David, that we know of, ever say to Jehovah, in the gushing tide of the spirit of adoption, “Abba! Father!” It was, indeed, foretold that he should so address the Most High (89: 26); but we have no record that he ever actually did so. In like manner, there are circumstances which obviously enfeeble the fulfilment of the psalm in Hezekiah, who, for example, was Jehovah’s king in Zion for years before he passed under the shadow of death and - [along with David himself, awaiting the time of his*] resurrection; and who greatly as he loved Jehovah, - as he had much reason to love him, - yet never ventured to call him his Father, so far as the records show.
[* See Psa. 16: 10; Acts 2: 31, 34. cf. Luke 16: 23; Rev. 6: 9-11; Matt. 12: 40, etc,.]
To go back from the centre of the psalm to its beginning, and remarking that it opens with the unmasking of a conspiracy between kings and nations against Jehovah and his Anointed, - why should we close our eyes to the plain fact, that the Assyrian invasion was not such a conspiracy, but merely one of the ordinary doings of an Oriental despot? Then, turning in the other direction from the centre of the psalm, and glancing forward to the iron sceptre that was to dash enemies to pieces like potters’ vessels, - ought we not to be quite sure of our ground before - even under guise of high-flown poetry - we conclude such absoluteness of rule to have been here encouraged in either David or Hezekiah?
On all hands, then, we see abounding indications that a Greater than either David or Hezekiah is here. And therefore we point with confidence to that Greater One as the Hero of this psalm. The conspiracy of the Nations - though it may have been often attempted - has not yet been brought to a head; and, although the Heir to the Throne has appeared, and been saluted as Divine Son on the day of his literal Resurrection (Acts 13: 30, 32), yet has he not at present been [bodily, in a body of ‘flesh and bones’ (Lk. 24: 39] installed on Jehovah’s holy mount of Zion. When he is brought forth from his hiding-place in heaven (Col. 3: 3; Acts 3: 21) then the kings and judges of the earth will need show all their prudence; for, assuredly, the iron sceptre that will appear in his hand will be no meaningless symbol, but will stand for what it naturally means, - absolute, resistless physical force, which is far more fittingly entrusted to immortal hands than to mortal. Yes! this psalm is Messianic; but on the higher level. The astounding pledge already given by the literal resurrection of the Messiah [out] from the dead, assures us that in due time the entire psalm, in all its length and breadth, will be amply fulfilled, not as mere grandiloquent speech, but in commensurate and therefore amazing facts.
We are indebted to Delitzsch for calling attention to the obvious but much overlooked circumstance, that those kings and counsellors who are discovered in rebellion when the psalm opens, have already come under obligation to Jehovah and to his Anointed One. They are already under the restraints of duty to Jehovah and to his Christ; since it is under those restraints that they turn restive, against those restraints that they rebel.
There is food for thought here. Indeed, we are so impressed with the possibility of framing out of this element in the psalm an eirenicon which may be welcomed by expositors who have differed among themselves as to the character and incidence of the Messiah’s predicted kingdom, that we pause here just long enough to remind ourselves that, although Prophecy (if it have any definiteness in its inception) cannot need to await fulfilment before it takes on a reliable meaning, yet may most naturally and legitimately assume a clearer and yet clearer intention as fulfilment advances.
To apply this thought: It follows that, if Jesus of Nazareth is the Anointed One of this psalm; and if the day of his resurrection was the day of his being begotten to the Heirship of the Davidic dynasty; then it may be reasonably anticipated that, whether fulfilment has lingered or has greatly advanced since Jesus rose from the dead, - at least we ought to begin to see our way more and more clearly as to how to interpret the Messianic Prophecies as a class.
just at this point that Delitzsch’s
simple and obvious reminder flashes like a
beacon-light across the troubled
waters of Messianic Interpretation.
movements of our labouring oar are facilitated by the
considerations:- Since this psalm was written (a) other similar ones have been penned, such as – notably - that
strictly cognate psalm, the 110th, which may be expected to
throw light on this; (b)
a part fulfilment of this psalm has
confessedly been witnessed in the Messiah’s
Resurrection, and in the broad facts
consequent on that outstanding event, such as his
ascension to the right hand
of God. (c) The
notorious negative fact arrests
our attention, that no one imagines
that the Risen Messiah is now in any
special sense reigning in
very first helpful suggestion actually comes from Ps.
There we discover a link missing from this
second psalm - that is, if we have but opened our eyes
to miss it here.
Clear as a sunbeam, it is written in Ps. 2
Jehovah’s derision of the rebels there revealed simply
consists in the
announcement of an accomplished fact; which
accomplished fact constitutes such a counter-movement to the conspiracy as to reduce it to ridicule* - that, in a word,
is how Jehovah in heaven
laughs at this conspiracy: he has
already taken a step which nullifies
all the counsels of the grave men, all the stand of
kings, all the gathering of
the nations; he has already installed his King on Zion
his holy mountain!
The implication is: That
[* Anti-millennialists take note!]
Quite easily - taking Ps. 110 as our guide. It will be seen from our Exposition of that psalm, that we conclude its natural meaning to be, that the elevation of the Messiah to Jehovah’s right hand in heaven out of the midst of his enemies, and his session above, run on until he descends to his centre of subduing activity on Mount Zion [in Jerusalem]. That explains everything; inasmuch as the seat of honour at Jehovah’s right hand is not a mere seat of honour, but a heavenly enthronement; David’s lord is seated at Jehovah’s right hand as jointly regnant with him. He is, as he himself expresses it (Rev. 3: 21), sitting during all this waiting interval (Heb. 10: 13) on his Father’s throne. That fact unlocks the difficulty which just now appeared in the 2nd psalm. It is during the joint session of the Son with the Father in heaven that these [conspirators,] kings, senators and nations were brought under those obligations to Jehovah and his Anointed One from which they ultimately desire to break loose.
which presents the current proclamation of the Gospel
in a light which, if
not new, is more widely illuminative than it has been
It thus appears that the appointed current
proclamation of “the
Gospel of the
of which we read in Mt. 24:
only serves as
a testimony that earth’s
rightful King is coming, but by its intrinsic
force, as news of salvation* to
men, binds kings, senators and nations with “bonds”
and “cords” from which
they can by no means
may hear the Gospel or they
may forbear; but they can never be quite the same as
if they had not heard
kings and nations must have
heard the Gospel; they
must have heard the story
of Crucified Love and of Death-Vanquishing Power;
and been admonished to amend
their ways, and their laws
- to reign in
righteousness - to undo heavy burdens - to educate
their subjects for the
Immortal Life. As
result of Antichrist’s seductions, however, they
grow tired of these
restraints, and they rebel.
conspiracy into which they enter comes to a head before the Divine Installation of a King in
[* That is, a future “salvation of your souls,” which “is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 9, 13, R.V.]
will not fail to perceive how essential a part is
played in the
above interpretation by the assumption that, in the
Psalms, Zion means Zion - the earthly Zion, a part of and frequently synonymous with the historical city Jerusalem. It is on the
strength of this assumption
that, in the
second psalm, it could be
supposed that the same rebels as were aware
of the Messiah’s heavenly
reign on the throne of the Father, and so had come
under allegiance to Jehovah
and his Anointed, - in that sense and to that
degree, - were at the same time
and up to that moment unaware that Jehovah had now
recently installed his
Christ on his holy hill of Zion.
the absolute difference between the two
enthronements which renders it possible
for men to have been rendering nominal homage to the
one, and yet be in
absolute ignorance of the other.
the sudden announcement of the earthly enthronement,
which renders their
conspiracy an object of Divine derision.
to do as they pleased
in governing or
their subjects, fearless of [millennial and] eternal issues to be tried before an invisible
throne, they are suddenly confronted by a counter
Divine movement, evidently
and utterly subversive of their rebellious schemes,
with the prospect of their
by this newly
installed monarch who wields an iron sceptre and
holds a commission where
necessary to dash his enemies in pieces like a
In like manner, the same assumption - that
circumstances, it is manifestly desirable that each
confront this question, for himself, and if possible
once for all settle it: - Is the
It will conduce, to perfect fairness of exegesis, and at the same time lead on to a becoming conclusion to our present study, to call attention to an attractive hortatory element in this psalm which it would be a misfortune to overlook. There is a gracious, subduing light which falls back on the earlier portions of the psalm from the closing strophe, in which the poet is led to fill the part of a kindly monitor. In the opening verses the mutterings of enemies are heard; then comes Jehovah’s counter-proclamation in tones of thunder, alarming in the last degree; the terror naturally caused by such a warning of wrath is seen to be abundantly justified when the Son rehearses his commission, which includes stern rule, in some cases at least issuing in utter destruction. Now, although it would be a very hasty exegesis to infer that none of the Son’s enemies will relent, or relenting and suing for mercy will notwithstanding be destroyed; yet it is most acceptable to perceive in the poet’s mind a yearning for the salvation of those who have been seen in imminent danger of rushing on to ruin. For that is clearly the spirit at work in the entire conclusion of the psalm; and when the peculiar perils of kings and senators are remembered - with few or none above them to represent and enforce Divine claims - it is especially grateful to us to recognise the wooing note which is directly addressed to them, entreating them to show prudence and accept of admonition. It reminds us of our own Scripture which assures us that God willeth all men to be saved - even though they are such as are “in eminent station,” wielding authority over us. But the Divine Father is, as our own Scriptures assure us, jealous of any withholding of worshipful honour from the Son of his Love; and we are therefore predisposed to value at its highest rendering the pointed appeal of Jehovah that such honour be accorded; and, moreover, to interpret the wrath looming against such as withhold it as the Father’s wrath; and the refuge into which they are pronounced happy who flee as the refuge which, according to the whole tenor of the Psalms, Jehovah is ready to become to all who seek refuge in Him.
THE SEPTUAGINT (LXX)
1 O God, give thy judgment to the king, and thy righteousness to the king’s son; 2 that he may judge the people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgment.
3 Let the mountains
and the hills raise peace
to thy people: 4 he shall judge the
poor of the people in
and save the children of the needy;
bring low the false accuser. 5
shall continue as long as the
sun, and before the moon forever.
6 He shall come down
as rain upon a fleece;
and as drops falling upon
7 In his days shall the righteous spring up; and abundance of peace
till the moon be removed.
8 And he
shall have dominion from sea
to sea, and from the river to the ends
of the earth. 9 The Ethiopians
shall fall down before him; and his enemies shall
lick the dust. 10
The kings of Tharsis, and the isles,
shall bring presents:
kings of the Arabians and
17 Let his name be blessed for ever: his name shall endure longer than the sun: and all the tribes of the earth shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed.
18 Blessed is the
Lord God of
TRANSLATION AND EXPOSITION
BY J. B. ROTHMAN.
1 O God! thy justice* to the King do thou give,
* “So Septuagint and Jerome in accordance with the parallel ‘righteous’” – Briggs. Massoretic Hebrew Text. (For “Massorites” see Introduction, Chapter 1
And thy righteousness, unto the son of a king;
2 May he judge thy people with righteousness,
And thy humbled ones with justice:
3 May the mountains bear* tidings of welfare to the people,
* “The mountains are personified for the messengers who come over them, proclaiming from all parts the prevalence of peace and righteousness.” Briggs.
Otherwise, if the verb be rendered “bear” = “bring forth”: “may peace or well-being be the fruit that ripens upon all mountains and hills” – Delitzsch.
And the hills in righteousness:
4 May he vindicate the humbled of the people,
Bring salvation to the sons of the needy;
And crush the oppressor.
5 May he continue* as long as the sun,
* So Septuagint, (sunparamenei).
And in presence of the moon, -
To generation of generations.
6 May he come down as rain on meadows to be mown,
As myriad drops replenishing the earth.
7 May there be a springing forth, in his days, of righteousness,*
* So in some Codex = written copys. (With Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate) – Ginsburg’s notes in his Messoretico-Critical Hebrew Bible.
and an abundance of welfare, until there be no moon.
8 And may he have dominion from sea to sea,
And from the River to the ends of the earth.
9 Before him may adversaries* kneel
And as for his foes the dust may they lick!
10 The kings of Tarshish and the Coastlands a gift may they render,
The kings of
11 And may there bow down to him all kings,
All nations do service to him.
12 Because he rescueth the needy from the mighty,*
* So it should be (with Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate (Latin). [ Ginsburg’s notes in his Massoretico-Critical Hebrew Bible : “Him that crieth out.”
And the humbled, when there is no help for him:
13 Hath pity on the weak and the needy,
And the lives* of the needy saveth:
* Usually: “their souls.”
14 From oppression and violence redeemeth their life,*
* Usually: “ their soul.”
And precious is their blood in his sight:
“Let him live, then! And
let there be given to him the gold of
So will he pray for him continually,
All the day invoke on him blessing!*
*“The poor man is he who revives and is endowed, who intercedes and blesses; while the king is the beneficent giver.
It is left for the reader to supply in thought the right subjects to the separate verbs.” – Delitzsch.
16 May there be an expanse of corn in the earth, unto the top of the mountains,
And the fruit
thereof rustle like
And they of the city bloom like fresh shoots of the earth.
17 Be his name to the ages,
In presence of the sun fruitful* be his name!
* More literally: “propagate,” or “be propagated.” Some Codex = written copies. (with Aramean, Septuagint, Vulgate =[Latin] –
“Be established” – Ginsburg's notes in his Messoretico-Critical Hebrew Bible.)
May all the families of the ground’ bless themselves in him
All nations pronounce him happy.
18 Blessed be Jehovah, God of Israel,*
Massoretic Hebrew Text: “Jehovah
God, God of
Who doeth wondrous things by himself alone;
19 And blessed be his glorious name to the ages,
And filled with his glory be all the earth:
Amen and amen!
20 Ended are the prayers of David son of Jesse.
DESCRIPTIVE TITLE. - A People’s Prayer for a Perfect King.
ANALYSIS. – Verses 1-4, Prayer for King of Royal Descent, that the Divine Attributes of Justice and Righteousness may be Given Him, and that he may exercise them with Fruitfulness and Efficiency. Verses 5-8, Unlimited Continuance, Penetrating Gentleness, Abounding Fruitfulness, and Universal Extension, desired for his reign. Verses 9-11, The Submission to Him of All Enemies and Rivals, is besought. Verses 12-15, these Petitions are based upon the King’s Effective Interpretation of the Needy and Helpless. Verses 16-17, Material Prosperity and the Brightening of City Life, entreated; as Rebounding to the Personal Praise of the King, and as Realizing Ancient Covenant Blessing. Benediction: Closing this Second Book of Psalms, and therewith associating the God of Israel and his wonderous doings with all the Earth, which is thus filled with his glory.
If we assume that behind this psalm lay many prayers of David, taking effect in the mind of Solomon his son by fostering a worthy ideal of what a good king might do for his people and a determination to fulfil that ideal; and that the youthful heir to the throne himself embodied that ideal and that determination in a prayer to be used by his people on his accession to the throne, - we shall probably form a correct conception of the origin of the psalm. The deep and wide desire here expressed is worthy of David; the form it assumes is Solomonic to a marked degree; and if, beyond this, there are conceptions going far beyond any which we should have thought it likely that Solomon would entertain, - these we may attribute in part to the educative influence which we have elsewhere seen cause to attribute to the Davidic Kingly covenant communicated through Nathan the prophet, and partly to the free action of the inspiring [Holy] Spirit on the psalmist’s mind. There is certainly one element in the psalm, which might have seemed at first sight better suited to a later reign, such as that of Hezekiah - following the declension of King Ahaz’s days, or even of Josiah - succeeding to the corruptions of the reigns of Manasseh and Amon; namely, a background of existing oppression and wrong, loudly calling for relief, and which we can with difficulty imagine David to have bequeathed to his son Solomon. If, notwithstanding this, we feel, as well we may, that at no later period than that immediately succeeding David’s day, could there have been, in the atmosphere, such a constellation of bright hopes, ready for recognition in psalmody, as here bursts upon our view, then we must needs see, once more, the Antitype breaking loose from the Type, and going beyond it. And this is, in all probability, what we are here called upon to recognise; for, if, with the Targum, we hold that this Ideal King is ultimately the Messiah, and if we look for Messiah’s manifested [millennial] reign to follow upon the evil domination of Antichrist, it is easy to see what a throng of wicked deeds of oppression [and unbelief], the world over, will be waiting for relief and redress when the Messiah himself ascends the Throne of David.
Not only in respect of manifold oppressions needing royal interposition in order to their removal, do we here perceive an element carrying us beyond Solomon, but in other ways besides; for example, in the universality of his dominion, in the peerless glory of his name, and in the realisation through the Ideal King of the worldwide blessing promised to Abraham. Leaving the thoughtful reader to conceive, as best he may, how mighty the Messianic impulse of the psalm thus appears, it may serve a useful purpose to emphasise one or two of the more obvious characteristics of the Ideal King as here portrayed.
[* See the following document relative to ‘God’s promises to Abraham.’]
The central position and causal efficacy of Strophe iv. are remarkable. This strophe is introduced by the only Because of the psalm. And here let us note what it is that leads up to this stronghold of the logical sense - that it is nothing less than the Imperial Supremacy which is desired for the Ideal King. Let his adversaries kneel before him; let his foes lick the dust; let distant kings come to render him homage with their rich gifts; in short, let all kings bow down to him and all nations do him service; BECAUSE he deserves it - because he deserves it in a peculiar way, with a worth proved by deeds, deeds of pity and love and matchless generosity; for note how the verbs are accumulated in support of this one strong because: “because” he rescueth, hath pity, saveth, redeemeth, and, finally, if Delitzsch is correct in the striking climax to which he brings this strophe, endoweth, out of his own royal treasury, the lives that he spareth:- THEREFORE let all kings and nations do him willing homage and service, gladly acknowledging that never such a king bare rule before. Not by doings of power, but by deeds of love, is universal dominion here desired.
And yet there is power behind and along with the love: power wielded by love, power giving effect to love - no pity for the perverters of justice, to the extent of sparing them to be perverters again. No! the implied threats to those who wrong their poor neighbours, are strong as iron, fitted to strike terror into cruel hearts. In order that he may vindicate the humbled and bring salvation to the needy, let him - so it is expressly desired - let him crush the oppressor! May his foes lick the dust. Language like this ought to stand high and clear above the possibility of mistake.
Nevertheless, this Ideal King knows how to be gentle. It is desired that his beneficent influence be like rain coming down on a mowing, bringing the crop to perfection before it is cut. How much that beautiful phrase, coming down, suggests - of efficacious gentleness, descending into all the nooks and crannies and crevices of actual lowly life. Nor does the psalmist shrink from pointing to actual temporal benefits, anticipated to result from this gentle yet strong king’s dominion. In language which it would be a sin to spiritualise, he prays, that, instead of uncultivated wastes, agriculture may carry her triumphs, terrace above terrace, to the summits of the mountains; and then, while the breezes of Lebanon are still upon his cheeks, he thinks of the pale-faced city-dwellers, and desires that they may bloom like the fresh shoots of the earth.
the picture. It is Messianic. But it
is unfulfilled. It
does not correspond with the spiritual
and invisible reign of the Messiah in heaven. It is a
mockery of the down-trodden of earth,
to treat this psalm as if it were now in
course of fulfilment.
It is valid, but it is in reserve.
It has never yet been fulfilled;
it will be fulfilled in the letter and in the
its accomplishment has been so long
delayed, must be sought elsewhere.
Meantime, a comprehensive study of all the
psalms which have a direct
bearing on the [Millennial]
THE SEPTUAGINT (LXX)
1 Sing to the Lord a new song; for the Lord was wrought wonderful works, his right hand, and his holy arm, have wrought salvation for him.
Lord has made known his salvation,
has revealed his
righteousness in the sight of the nations. 3
He has remembered his mercy to
Jacob, and his truth
to the house of
4 Shout to God, all the earth; sing, and exult, and sing psalms. 5 Sing to the Lord with a harp, with a harp, and the voice of a psalm. 6 With trumpets of metal, and the sound of a trumpet of horn make a joyful noise to the Lord before the king. 7 Let the sea be moved, and the fullness of it; the world, and they that dwell in it. 8 The rivers shall clap their hands together; the mountains shall exult. 9 For he is come to judge the earth; he shall judge the world in righteousness, and the nations in uprightness.
TRANSLATION AND EXPOSITION BY
J. B. ROTHERHAM
1 Jehovah hath become king* - let the earth exault,
* As in 93: 1; 96: 10; 99:1.
let the multitude of coastlands rejoice,
2 Clouds and darkness are round about him’
Righteousness and justice* are the foundation of his throne:
* Or: “judgment.”
3 Fire before him proceedeth,
And setteth ablaze round about his adversaries.
4 His lightings illumined the world,
The earth saw and was in the birth-throes:*
* Cp. 96: 9.
5 The mountains like wax melted at the presence of Jehovah,
At the presence of the Lord* of the whole earth:
* Hebrew adon.
6 The heavens declared his righteousness,
And all the peoples saw his glory.
7 Put to shame are all they who were serving in image,
Who were boasting themselves in nothings:*
*“Nothingnesses” – Driver.
All messengers divine* bow ye down to him.
* Or: “gods.” Hebrew elohim. But see 8: 5; 96: 4.
And the daughters
Because of thy righteous decisions,* O Jehovah.
* Or: “thy judgments.”
9 For thou, Jehovah art Most High over all the earth,
Greatly hast thou exalted thyself above all messengers divine.*
* Or: “gods.” Elohim. See 8: 5; 96: 4.
10 Ye lovers of Jehovah! hate Ye wrong.
He preserveth the lives* of his men of kindness,
* Or: “persons” ; Hebrew naphsoth; Usually: “souls.”
From the hand of lawless ones he rescueth them.
11 Light hath arisen* for the righteous one,
* So in some MSS. (with Aramean, Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate (Latin). Cp. 112: 14 – Ginsburg’s notes in his Massoretico-Critical Hebrew Bible.
And for such as are upright of heart gladness.
12 Be glad O ye righteous, in Jehovah,
And give thanks unto his Holy Memorial.
It will be observed that here is but one original headline to Psalms 92 to 97; and therefore it will be no great strain on our credulity if, from this circumstance, we assume that these psalms, thus undivided from each other in the Hebrew text, at a very early period in their history formed one continuous Service of Song for a Sabbath Day. That the series was composed of several distinct psalms, probably written by two or three psalmists, is clear from internal evidence.
Psalm 92 is intensely personal: as witness the phrases hast made me glad - I will ring out my joy (ver. 4) - my horn - I am anointed - mine eye - my lurking foes - my wicked assailants - mine ears (vers. 10, 11). It is at the same time thoroughly experimental: which is evident, not only from the above expressions, but also from the writer’s thankfulness (ver. 1), and from his persuasion that he has been blessed with some insight into Jehovah’s works and plans (ver. 5), as well as from that sense of nearness to God which leads him to designate him My Rock (ver. 15). The writer of the psalm is probably a king in the line of David: which accounts for his expectation that his horn will be exalted, in spite of his unscrupulous foes (verses 10, 11). He is not only a king, but an enthusiastic musician: understanding what it is to sweep the strings (ver. 1), and appreciating differences in musical instruments, as his selection of the deep-toned lyre to accompany his poetic soliloquy in his royal chambers sufficiently indicates. Out of these observations emerges the natural conclusion, that its writer was King Hezekiah.
Psalm 93 forms a striking contrast. It is by no means personal; but public, lofty, grand. It propounds a thesis worthy of the most far-seeing prophetic gift: for it tells of nothing less than an especial assumption of sovereignty by Jehovah himself, who on the basis of his ancient rule and being makes a new Divine advance to manifested kingship over the earth. The psalm is but brief, calling sea-streams to witness to the Divine Majesty, and claiming that the Divine Testimonies and Temple-worship are confirmed by Jehovah’s Royal Proclamation. The two most remarkable things about this short psalm are: first, that it gives the key-note of the series; in which, be it noted, Jehovah is proclaimed King three times, which key-note is carried over to the abbreviated Sabbath Service of Song which we may assume to be formed by Psalms 98, 99; so that four times in the double series is this Proclamation made; second, another remarkable thing is that King Hezekiah - himself a king in the royal, covenant line of David - should have given so much prominence to such a theme, if he prepared this Service of Song, a theme to give currency to which looks greatly like an act of self-effacement on his part, as though neither he nor any of his descendants could be regarded as The Coming King. Not only, then, does this psalm demand a lofty prophetic gift for its production, but it requires a prophet of unquestionable standing and commanding weight to secure its insertion in this Service of Song. These conditions are remarkably well fulfilled in ISAIAH; especially if we may safely come back - as it would appear we may - to the old-fashioned custom of regarding him as the author of the whole of the book which goes under his name. For, in that case, we have not only the vision of Isaiah, chapter 6, to give a commanding place to the conception of Jehovah’s becoming King of all the earth, but we have patterned by Isaiah himself - of course under Divine guidance - in 52: 7 almost the exact formula for proclaiming Divine Kingship which stands out so prominently in these psalms. Isaiah is the man who has had the vision, and who is possessed by the conception which the vision conveys. And he has the age, the standing, and the unquestionable spiritual authority to secure Hezekiah’s ready acceptance of Jehovah’s own Royal proclamation of Himself as suitable for a large place in this Sabbath Service of Song. From this point of view, the bringing together of the two men - Isaiah and Hezekiah - under the dominancy of a great expectation, throws an unexpected but most welcome sidelight on that strange wail of disappointment issuing from Hezekiah’s sick-room (Isaiah 38) that now - if he must at once die - he will “not see Yah in the land of the living,” as under Isaiah’s tuition he had conceived that he might. So that any imagined unlikelihood that Hezekiah would make such a theme so prominent in his Sabbath Service of Song, is completely overborne by the evidence which shews how naturally he might have done this very thing.
Psalm 94 differs from both
the preceding: from 92
by not being mainly
joyous, and from 93
by rather lamenting that
Jehovah has not become King, than by proclaiming that
he has ascended his
earthly Royal Seat. This psalm, again, has a rather
strong personal note, and
may very well have been written by Hezekiah himself or
at his dictation.
If so, however, its totally different
tone would drive us to conclude that
it must have been written at another and probably an
earlier time, evidently a
time of sore national trouble.
so predominant is the note of lamentation throughout
this psalm, that some
critics have concluded it to be wholly out of its
place where it now
they have been hasty in
their judgment. But
let us glance
through the psalm.
Three strophes (verses
suffice to make it clear that
Psalm 95 is remarkable for the facility with which, after a 4-line invitation to worship, it resolves itself into two 10-line strophes, the former joyous, and the latter admonitory. As to the fitness of the latter to find place here, - with such waverers in view as the previous psalm reveals (94: 8-11) it cannot be said that the solemn warning of this psalm (95: 7-11) is in any wise out of place. It is, further, something to remember - that this Sabbath-day’s Service of Song points onwards to a Divine Sabbath of Sabbaths, which undoubtedly will be inaugurated by the Coming Divine King.
Psalm 96 enriches us with fresh thoughts: by bringing us into sight of a new manifestation of Divine Kingship, calling for a song that is new; that it commissions a particular land to herald the glad-tidings of the Coming Divine Reign to the other nations of the earth (verses 2, 3, 10); that, while there are Divine representatives (Elohim) who are real beings (verse 4), there are other so-called Elohim (“gods”) who have no existence (verse 5); that even in the Coming Divine Reign, there will be a sanctuary (verse 6) into which the families of the peoples (verse 7) can enter with their presents (verse 8) and there worship (verse 9); and that such a changed state of things will amount to a New Birth for or a Readjustment of the world (verses 9, 10) whereat all Nature - including the heavens, the earth, the sea, the plain, the forest - may well go into ecstasies; for the good reason that Jehovah is coming to reign over all the peoples of the world in righteousness and faithfulness (verses 10, 13).
Psalm 97, the last of this longer Sabbath-day series, is notable in that, whatever cause for fear and trembling any of the individuals and nations of the world may have, in prospect of this new and immediate Divine Rule, the great event itself is mainly an occasion for joy: Let the earth exult. Probably not without peculiar interest to Europeans (and it may be Americans also) the West - under the significant Biblical name of Coastlands - is particularly called upon to rejoice: - a glimpse into the future which was, as we know, vouchsafed to Isaiah, independently of this psalm (Isaiah 24: 15; 41: 1; 42: 4; 49: 1; 59: 18; 60: 2; 66: 19). Other things observable in this closing psalm of the first series are: that the promised Divine Advent is to be, in some way, open and palpable to the whole earth; conveying its testimony of Divine righteousness to all men’s minds (verses 4-6); that it will be sufficiently sudden to put some boastful idolaters to shame (verse 7); sufficiently demonstrative to cause all true messengers divine to prostrate themselves before the world’s Divine King (verse 7); and yet sufficiently local in some phases of its manifestation to give occasion to carry the joyful tidings thereof to Zion and the daughters of Judah (verse 8). Real divine messengers, such as kings and judges, will be permitted to govern longer, only on condition of being manifestly in subjection to Jehovah as Most High over all the earth (verse 9). No wonder that such good news as this should be finally employed by way of admonition: Ye lovers of Jehovah! hate ye wrong (verse 10). They who persist in wrong will be punished. The wronged - the imperilled - are to be preserved, to be rescued (verse 10). Truly we may say, light has arisen for the righteous king Hezekiah (verse 11), and for myriads besides who will open their eyes. And, ye righteous, who are made glad in Jehovah, forget not to give thanks to his Holy Memorial; with the understanding that “his Holy Memorial” is “his Holy Name,” Jehovah (Exod. 3: 15; Ps. 135: 1-3); that is, Yahweh; that is, the Becoming One; and that here, in this beautiful Sabbath Service of Song, He hath prophetically BECOME the King of all the earth, as unveiled to your believing and rejoicing eyes.
For further “General Reflections,” see at the close of Psalm 99.
THE SEPTUAGINT (LXX)
1 The Lord said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. 2 The Lord shall send out a rod of power for thee out of Sion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. 3 With thee is dominion in the day of thy power, in the splendours of thy saints; I have begotten thee from the womb before the morning. 4 The Lord sware, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedec. 5 The Lord at thy right hand has dashed in pieces kings in the day of his wrath. He shall judge among the nations, he shall fill up the number of corpses, he shall crush the heads of many on the earth. He shall drink of the brook in the way; therefore shall he lift up the head.”
TRANSLATION AND EXPOSITION BY
J. B. ROTHERHAM
[ 1. David records a Revelation concerning his lord.]
1 The revelation* of Jehovah to my lord**:-
“Sit thou at my right hand
until I make thy foes a stool for thy feet.”
[ 2. Foretells that a Commission will be given to his lord.]
sceptre of strength* will Jehovah stretch forth out of
* = “Thy strong sceptre:” cp. Psa. 2: 9.
“Rule thou in the midst of thy foes.”
[ 3. Describes the Appearance of the Army of his lord.]
3 Thy people are most willing* in thy day of warfare:**
* Heb. pl. abstract of intensification: “willingnesses.”
** “Of thy power. Or, of thy host; in either case the meaning being, on the day when thy forces muster for battle” – Driver.
“Of thy host” – Briggs. “In the day that thou warest” – Perowne. “In the day of thy warfare” – Delitzsch.
In holy adorning,* out of the womb of the dawn
* More literally: “In stateliness of holiness.”
To thee cometh forth the dew of thy young men.
[ 4. Proclaims an Oath addressed by Jehovah to his lord.]
4 Sworn hath Jehovah, and will not regret:
“Thou art a priest to the ages
After the order of Melchizedek.”
[ 5. Portaays the Overthrow of the Forces of his lord, and his lord’s consequent Exaltation.]
5 The Sovereign Lord* at thy right hand
* Heb. (Massoretic Hebrew Text): ‘adinai’. In some Codex (i.e., written copies) “Jehovah” – Ginsburg’s notes in his Massoretico-Critical Bible.
Hath crushed,* in the day of his anger, kings,
* Or “shattered.”
He judgeth* among the nations - full of dead bodies!
* Or “will judge.”
Hath crushed the head over a wide land:
An inheritance, on the way he maketh it,*
* So Briggs (with very slight emendations).
Therefore he exalteth the* Head.
* Or “a.”
DESCRIPTIVE TITLE. – A Revelation, THROUGH David TO his “lord,” the Messiah
ANALYSIS. - 1. David records a Revelation concerning his lord. 2. Foretells that a Commission will be given to his lord. 3. Describes the Appearance of the Army of his lord. 4. Proclaims an Oath addressed by Jehovah to his lord. 5. Portrays the Overthrow of the Foes of his lord, and his lord’s consequent Exaltation.
This psalm being ascribed to David, we have a prescriptive right to endeavour to interpret it accordingly; and the measure of our success may be regarded as confirming or discrediting this superscription.
Verse 1. The Revelation of Jehovah to my lord. -
As a revelation, the psalm as a whole and its leading announcement in particular may be expected to make a disclosure unknown before. We already know of the choice of David in preference to Saul; of his anointing and ascension to the thrown of Israel; of his prophetic gifts; of the covenant made with him, through Nathan the prophet, touching his sons as destined heirs to his kingship: which covenant, therefore, must have made him aware of the continuance of his kingdom under other rulers than himself. It was not to be his privilege to carry the Representative Kingship with which he was invested to its climax, by bearing it for ever, or by himself bringing all nations into perfect obedience to Jehovah. He would have to bequeath his throne to his sons, some of whom, Nathan suggested to him, would probably prove unworthy of that honour. He himself, in any case, was not the Messiah. So much we knew from previous Divine communications to David. But we did not know - however naturally we might have conjectured it - that David’s royal line would at length be consummated in the person of one of his race to whom he himself would own allegiance and whom he would willingly call his “lord.” But this is implied in the first line of the psalm. David shall have such an heir - an heir whom he can call his “lord”; and inasmuch as a living son can exercise no lordship over a dead father, - even as, on the other hand, a dead father cannot give allegiance to an as yet unborn son, - we are irresistibly carried forward to Resurrection days; unless, indeed, David is not to die until this his Greater Son appears. We find ourselves, therefore, to say the least, well within the scope of a revelation - a disclosure - a discovery.
But this discovery, though made through David, directly concerns David’s lord - his Messianic, Son. This, precisely, is what David here tells us. He does not say: The revelation of Jehovah UNTO ME, but The Revelation of Jehovah to MY LORD; that is, to my SON, THE MESSIAH. In short, then, we have here a revelation to the Messiah; and being a revelation written down and preserved until the Messiah’s days, will it not, in the event of his reading it, become at once a revelation for him and a revelation to him? Jesus of Nazareth believes himself to be David’s Messianic Son: his nation are about to reject him: meantime this revelation comes to him - to his notice, to his reflection, to his need. All who truly believe in the kenosis - the self-emptying - of which the Apostle Paul (Phil. 2) speaks, cannot fail to become aware that already the atmosphere of the psalm has become charged with intense spiritual emotion. No wonder that, on receiving this revelation, Jesus is so profoundly moved that, to the Pharisees, he can only put questions!
So far we are assured that a revelation to the Messiah is coming, but are not told what it is. Of this the next words inform us: Sit thou at my right hand until I make thy foes a stool for thy feet. This informs us that the Messiah [when He returns] will have foes; but that, instead of at once contending with them and overcoming them, he is to be taken out of their midst; to be so taken, by being invited to a post of highest honour; in short, to be exalted to the right hand of Jehovah in heaven. We say, advisedly, “in heaven,” - first, because we know that heaven is the place of Jehovah’s fixed abode (1 K. 8: 30, etc.); and, secondly, because it is not easy to see how a mere elevation to the right hand of the sacred ark in Jerusalem could have the effect of removing the Messiah from the midst of his enemies. Here, again, it is not without emotion that we conceive of Jesus of Nazareth receiving such an invitation from Jehovah. For him [Christ / Messiah] to take in its purport [i.e., in its meaning, or signification], could fall nothing short of his discovering [in the “age” yet to come] something of “the joy set before him,” fitted to embolden him “to endure the cross, its shame despising.”
But this elevation is not to be for ever: it is for a definite object and, therefore, for such time as the accomplishment of that object shall require: Until I make thy foes a stool for thy feet. It is JEHOVAH who undertakes to reduce Messiah’s foes to such a humiliating condition. The foes are spoken of collectively and as a complete class. And the subjugation is to be thorough. Jehovah promises that he will bring down the Messiah’s enemies to abject submission to his, the Messiah’s, will. They shall be publicly humiliated - totally crushed. They shall be able to rise in rebellion no more. Their being made a stool for the Messiah’s feet cannot mean less than this.
Verse 2. Thy sceptre of strength will Jehovah stretch forth out of Zion.
It is Jehovah who will place
the Messiah’s enemies
under his feet; but, not necessarily and to the end of
the process, without the
sceptre of strength is, naturally,
the Messiah’s sceptre; although, still, it is Jehovah
who stretches it forth
But the Messiah, now seated in
They are most willing: they
are volunteers in the
[* That is, “His angels,” who will accompany Him at that time: “He shall send forth his angels … and they shall gather together his elect … from one end of heaven to the other” (Matt. 24: 31, R.V.)]
Their appearance is next described: that is, if we follow the Massoretic text - they appear in holy adorning, as it were in priestly robes. If, however, with some able critics we prefer the various reading which (substituting an “r” for a “d,” the difference in Hebrew being very small) yields the very dissimilar clause On the holy mountains instead of “In holy adorning,” then we find in this phrase a notification of the place where these volunteers gather: they gather on the holy mountains - about Jerusalem, naturally - for we know of no other “holy mountains”; and this seems strikingly agreeable with the circumstance that the Messiah has now fixed his headquarters in Jerusalem, since it is from thence that his strong rule is to be “extended.” Still, it is not certain that this various reading is to be preferred, for a reason to be given in a few moments. Hence, for the present, we leave that an open question, by saying: If the word is harre, then the rendering must be - On the holy mountains; but if hadre, then the proper English is - In holy adorning. We wish to find out precisely - if we may - who these “people,” these Messianic “volunteers,” are: does this clause say they are a priestly people; or does it indicate the place of their gathering? Let us follow on with the text, in the hope of coming near to an answer.
the womb of the dawn, Thou hast (or to thee cometh forth) the dew of thy young men. Sudden
striking, bright and beautiful, and wholly unexpected,
as a revelation of
innumerable dew-drops in the morning when the sun
rises, is the
appearance of this army of
are born out of the
They suddenly start forth
Messiah’s allies “on the day of his warfare,”
when his “strong
is about to be “stretched forth out of
[* NOTE. Undoubtedly, born at the time of the “First Resurrection” from “Hades” the place of the dead, the earth’s “womb” where the “souls” of all the dead are presently waiting for their individual Resurrection.
“But the saints, who are to form that body, are being gathered in the lower parts of the earth; and Hades is the womb from which they will be born at the resurrection. Understood thus, the passage presents no difficulty. It is Christ who speaks – ‘My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lower parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being imperfect; and in thy book were all my members written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them,” Psalm cxxxix. 15, 16 (139: 15, 16)’. Now, there was a time when the saints existed as the elect in God’s purpose alone – ‘as yet there was none of them.’ Yet they were made members of Christ, and so are now ‘in continuance being fashioned,’ as time, and the purposes of God, bring each to their natural and supernatural birth.” - R. Govett. (Italics mine; quotation from R. Govett’s “Hades” - Ed.).]
here comes in a remarkable text from the prophet Micah
looks as if it might have been written as a commentary
on this verse of our
reference is to “the Shepherd of Israel.”
Shepherd should appear as a deliverer from ASSYRIA,
will not hinder students of prophecy from
associating him with the final
we appear to be absolved from any need to push further
our quest after
the Messiah’s volunteering people as referred to in
the third verse of our
are the “remnant of Jacob
among the nations,” “in the midst of many peoples,”
sustaining the well-known
characteristics of “dew” - “that
tarrieth not for man,” and of “lions” from whose down-treading and
tearing prowess the
sheep cannot escape.
If the provision of
such a people for the crisis is not a stretching forth
of Messiah’s strong
sceptre out of
Verse 4. Sworn hath Jehovah, and will not regret: THOU art a priest to the ages
After the manner of Melchizedek.
this statement is not made in terms which describe a
proceeding now to
take place, but in terms which express accomplishment
The words are not - “Jehovah.
sweareth,” or “now
proceedeth to swear”;
but Jehovah hath sworn.
The constituting mandate (or oath),
making the Messiah priest, has
already been uttered; and, having regard to the place
occupied by this report
of that mandate, we may reasonably conclude that the
priestly instalment took
place in heaven, when the Messiah sat down at
Jehovah’s right hand.
Of this instalment, however, no details are
given. They are left
over for a Christian Writer to
supply; and right worthily has the Writer of the
Epistle to the Hebrews
supplied all necessary details; as to the grounds on
which this honour was
conferred on the Messiah - how he who now is made
priest had previously offered
himself as a sacrifice, - and as to the abolishing
effect of this decree on the
No such details,
be it well observed, are here given.
installing announcement alone is here, made, in
briefest terms, and as of an
event already accomplished.
point is the matter to be emphasised here.
The new King has come to
Verses 5-7. The climax of the whole psalm comes at last.
is a crisis. The
crisis is a
battle which decides the fate of the world by subduing
it to the final reign on
earth of its Priestly King.
psalm leads up to this terrible crisis.
The first verse characterises it as the time of
enemies beneath his feet, until which the invitation
extends to sit down at
Jehovah’s right hand in heaven.
second verse centralises the crisis in
We have characterised this as a “terrible” crisis, and so it is. But, unless words are to be tortured, it is THE CRISIS OF THE PSALM: moreover, it is the crisis of the Bible - of other psalms, as the second with its dashing in pieces, the forty-fifth with its sharp arrows in the heart of the king’s enemies whereby peoples fall under him, the seventy-second where the king’s enemies are made to lick the dust; and of the prophecies generally, such as Isaiah Second, Twenty-fourth, Sixty-third, Sixty-sixth, and others too numerous to be mentioned; of several significant places in the Gospels and the Epistles, reappearing with an accession of heavenly terror in the Apocalypse. It is a “terrible” crisis, but no daring criticism can root it out of the Bible. And, though “terrible,” it seems to be a needful crisis. For, truly, the witness of nineteen centuries seems to declare that it may be absolutely needful that Jehovah’s PHYSICAL FORCE through means of Messiah’s iron sceptre should maintain and enforce the moral suasion of many foregoing centuries. And, once more, though “terrible,” thank God it will be final and efficacious. For, thereby, the Messiah will “speak peace to the nations” in terms which will compel war to cease and clear the way for gentler forms to operate to the ages.
Verse 5. Before noticing, in a little detail, the three strokes of displeasure with which the foes of the Messiah are actually made his footstool, it is desirable to assure ourselves that those three strokes are here attributed to JEHOVAH HIMSELF rather than to the Messiah. Whether this is the case, turns upon the nice and rather critical question - Who is intended by “The Lord at thy right hand” of verse 5? Is it Messiah on Jehovah’s right hand, or is it Jehovah on the Messiah’s right hand? And, as involved in this broader question, is the narrower one - Who is the person whose right hand is here spoken of? In other words, to whom is this line (with the following lines) addressed? If Jehovah is addressed, then “the Lord at his right hand” will be the Messiah - “The Messiah hath crushed kings,” &c.; whereas, if the Messiah is addressed, then it will be Jehovah who crasheth kings, &c. Now, notwithstanding the plausibility of the contention that the word A-D-N-I should be pronounced adhoni (“my lord”), and so be regarded as a repetition of the word standing at the end of the first line of the psalm, yet as this would probably necessitate another change, which neither the Hebrew text nor the ancient versions sustain, “My lord at HIS right hand”; we shall do well to pause and look well to the context, before we decide this nice point. Now the opinion is here submitted, that the better conclusion is: That the Messiah is here directly addressed, and therefore that “the Lord at Messiah’s right hand” is Jehovah. And, though this may be said to involve a change of their relative position - so that, in verse 1, Messiah is seen on Jehovah’s right hand; and, in verse 5, Jehovah is discovered on the Messiah’s right hand, - yet there can be no valid objection to this. The scene has changed, and with it the relative positions; and there is nothing whatever incongruous, but rather everything befitting, that in heaven the Messiah should be on Jehovah’s right hand, and on earth Jehovah should be on the Messiah’s right hand; especially as this very representation has already and so lately been made as in verses 30, 31 of the next preceding psalm: “I will thank Jehovah ... because he taketh his stand at the right hand of the needy.” There is therefore plainly nothing incongruous, if in this place, the representation is, that Jehovah, here, on earth, on “the day of Messiah’s warfare,” takes his stand at the Messiah’s right hand to direct and aid him in overthrowing his foes, and letting the world and all future generations see that it was JEHOVAH’S hand that did it. And as, on the one hand, there is nothing incongruous to be alleged against this conclusion, so on the other, there are these reasons to be urged in its favour: (1) that the vowel - pointing of the Massoretic text can stand – Adonai - Sovereign Lord, equivalent to Jehovah; (2) that those codices which actually have Jehovah (see Gn. under text) will be substantially correct; (3) that no change further on in the line, from “thy” to “his” will be required; and (4) - most weighty reason of all - that continued prominence will thereby be given to the feature made prominent at the beginning of the psalm, That it is emphatically JEHOVAH who places the Messiah’s enemies beneath his feet. He does this, because he it is who provides the Messiah with his wonderful army of volunteers, he it is who crashes kings, judges nations, crashes the head over a wide land. This then may be regarded as provisionally settled, that the fifth verse opens by declaring that Jehovah, on the Messiah’s right hand, does the things that follow, to each of which we may now devote a moment’s attention.
at the Messiah’s right hand, crushes Kings
- literally hath
well-known perfect tense of prophetic certainty. Then there are
“kings” in the final opposition
raised against the Messiah’s
wielding his strong sceptre out of
Jehovah, at the Messiah’s right hand, judgeth (proceedeth to judge, will judge) among the nations, - the tense being here changed to the so-called “imperfect,” more exactly, the initiative, incipient or incomplete, precisely suited to indicate a further and perhaps prolonged process. No details, saving one, are here supplied as to the nature of this judging among the nations. The one which is supplied is sufficiently startling: throughout the nations which are being judged, or on the battlefield to which the nations gather, there is a filling of the places of conflict (or the one battlefield) with the slain - the dead bodies - the corpses - the g'wioth. Let him who dares, attempt to spiritualise and thereby evaporise this! Beware how you minimise the Divine wielding of Messiah’s “iron sceptre”! This is the second stroke. The third follows.
at the Messiah’s right hand, hath
crushed (again the perfect of certainty) the head over a wide land. The rebellious kings have a “head”: the infatuated
nations have a head.
has become “head”
a wide land,”
or has gone up to do battle, “over a wide country.”
The student of
prophecy does not need to inquire who that head is. Even the
thoughtful reader who has got no
further than this psalm may surmise that here at last
is the key that unlocks
the secret of that “throne of iniquity” which so
unaccountably started out into
prominence in Ps.
the throne of engulfing ruin be allied to thee,
frameth mischief by statute?”
would not be surprising if the instructed Bible
student were to exclaim without more delay: “Yes!
I see: this other head that is to be crushed is
none else than Antichrist or the Man of
Sin or the Lawless
One whom ‘the
Lord Jesus is to destroy by the breath of his lips
paralyse with the brightness of his coming.’”
Nor would he
be wrong. Nevertheless,
it may be a
useful throwing of ourselves upon Old Testament
testimony, if we simply confirm
our apprehension by yet another reference to it as set
forth by the prophet Isaiah
song shall ye have, As in the night of hallowing a
festival, And gladness of heart as when one goeth
with the flute To enter the
mountain of Jehovah Unto the Rock of Israel.”
this, which appears as if expressly framed to suit
those “Volunteers,” coming forth “out
of the womb of
the dawn,” “robed
in holy adorning”
of which we read in the third verse of this
psalm. “Then will Jehovah cause to be heard the
resounding of his voice,
the bringing down of his arm shall be seen, In a
rage of anger, And
with the flame of a devouring
fire, A burst,
and downpour and a hailstone! And at the
voice of Jehovah shall Assyria be
crushed, With his
rod will he smite, And
it shall come to pass that every stroke of the staff
doom which Jehovah shall lay upon him shall be with
and with lyres, when
with battles of brandished
weapons he hath fought against them. For there
hath been set in order beforehand a
Tophet, yea the same
for the king hath been
prepared, He hath
made it deep, made it
large, - The
circumference thereof is for fire and wood in
abundance, The breath
of Jehovah like a torrent of brimstone is ready
to kindle it.” Assyria
Verse 7. After the battle, the restoration of the inheritance!
And so, by the help of Dr. Briggs, we read from a critically emended text: An inheritance on the way he maketh it, Therefore he (Jehovah still, as all along so far in these concluding verses) exalteth the Head - the true Head, the Messiah, the rightful Head of a ransomed and delivered [sin-cursed] world. Of course, if anyone choose to abide still by the Massoretic Hebrew text, - down to the last verse and to the minutest letter, including the editorially supplied vowel points, he can do so with very little disturbance to the general effect; and, bringing the Messiah to the front as an exhausted warrior, snatching a refreshing drink of the brook by the way, and then lifting up his head to pursue the flying foe and so completing his conquest - to which he will naturally give a fitting explanation. But probably a goodly contingent even of conservative critics will prefer the more dignified and commensurate ending suggested above, especially when they discover the minuteness of the changes involved, probably imperilling not more than a single consonant in the original text, in the process of copying which such an error might easily be made. An excellent, dignified, and adequate conclusion to the psalm, will certainly be realised if we thus read and expound the seventh verse. An inheritance on the way (at once) he (Jehovah) maketh it, (namely) the wide land rescued from Antichrist, or even the whole earth occupied by the nations previously mentioned as having to pass through Jehovah’s refining judgment; handing it over to him, the Messiah, in pursuance of the offer of the Second Psalm - “Ask of me, and I will give nations as thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth as thy possession.” Thus will Jehovah make good the very last line of the psalm also: Therefore (and thus) he (Jehovah) exalteth the (rightful and all worldly) Head (of the world redeemed by him, even the Messiah, David’s long-looked-for lord: to whom and for whom this sublime and significant revelation was made by the Holy Spirit speaking by David).
to this psalm in the N. T. demand a brief notice. “No
psalm is more
frequently quoted and alluded to in the N. T.
It was, as we have seen, quoted by our Lord
(Mat. 22: 44; Mk. 12: 36; Lk.
20: 42, 43);
and His use of its language as recorded in
26: 64 (=Mk. 14: 62;
clearly involved (since its Messianic
acknowledged) an assertion of His Messiahship in
answer to the High-priest’s
1 is applied by
Peter to the exaltation of Christ in his
Resurrection and Ascension (Acts
2: 34, 35) and is
quoted in Heb.
13 to illustrate
the superiority of the Son to Angels.
Cp. also Mk.
Acts 5: 31; 7: 55,
8: 34; 1 Cor.
15: 24ff; Eph. 1: 29; Col. 3: 1; Heb. 1: 3; 8: 1; 10: 12, 13; 12: 2; 1 Peter 3: 22; Rev. 3: 21. Verse
4 serves as the
basis of the argument in
Heb. 5: 5ff; 6: 20; 7: 17ff concerning
superiority of Christ’s priesthood to the
Levitical priesthood” - Kirkpatrick
in “Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges.” In
accordance with the lofty outlook of some
of these references, it would not have been improper
to render the second line
of this psalm - “Sit
thou enthroned at my right hand,” only
that such a prominence given to heavenly kingship
would have been a little
beyond the scope of the psalm, and was by no means
demanded by the Hebrew word
context suggests no more than honour, rest, and
waiting; in exact accordance
10: 13 (“waiting henceforth”).
In point of
fact, the Son of David is also the Son of God; and the
heavenly honour, rest,
and waiting secured by his session at the right hand
of God, are coincident
with heavenly activity, in other capacities and for
other ends than those
brought into view by the psalm.
manner, it would probably have been premature, had we,
in seeking for the “volunteers” of
3, referred to
the army seen in heaven in
coincidence is indeed striking, especially as between
seen by the psalmist and the “fine linen, white
described by the seer in
* * *
WHO WILL RULE WITH MESSIAH
DURING “THE THOUSAND YEARS”?
GOD’S PROMISE TO ABRAHAM
HAS NOT YET BEEN FULFILLED
The Word of God teaches us that man is a tri-unity. He consists of a material part called the body, and immaterial parts called spirit and soul. With the spirit man has God consciousness. By death is meant the separation of these component parts. In the Word of God life is always union, and death is always separation. In death the spirit and soul are separated from the body. We know where the body goes. It is placed in the ground awaiting the resurrection.
Where do the spirit and soul go? In the Old Testament we are told the spirit returns to God, and the soul descends into Sheol. This word is used sixty-five times. It is translated [in the A.V.] “hell” thirty-one times, the “grave” thirty-one times, and the “pit” three times. In the New Testament the soul goes to Hades, which is the same place as Sheol. Hades is used eleven times and is translated “hell” ten times and “grave” once. Proper nouns should never be translated in going from one language to another. So in the American Revised Version you will find Sheol sixty-five times in the Old Testament and Hades eleven times in the New Testament. Seventy-six times we are told where disembodied souls go at death. They go to Sheol or Hades, the place of disembodied souls.
But where is Sheol or Hades? Death and Sheol are linked together thirty-three times. Decomposition gets the body. Sheol or Hades gets the soul. But where is Sheol or Hades? “But those that seek my soul to destroy it shall go into the lower parts of the earth” (Psalm 63: 9). Here we are told that Sheol or Hades is in the lower parts of the earth. We know where the earth is, for we are living on it. When folks died in Old Testament times, they did not go up; they went down. In the Old Testament we are told twenty-two times that when folks died they went down into Sheol. Psalm 55: 1.
“Let death seize upon them and let them go down quick into Sheol.” Now we want to know - do the godly and ungodly mingle with each other in Sheol as they mingle on earth? Jesus answers this question when He unveils the unseen for us in Luke 16: 19-31. This is not a parable. It is an unveiling. A rich man dies and goes to Sheol. A poor man, Lazarus by name, dies and also goes to Sheol, but Jesus tells us that Lazarus was in a place called Abraham’s bosom and that he was in conscious bliss. The rich man was in torment. Between Abraham’s bosom where Lazarus was and the place of torments where the rich man was, a gulf was fixed. The Greek calls this gulf a chasm.
Two ungodly men were crucified with Jesus. The one became penitent and prayed the Lord to remember him when he came into his kingdom. Jesus replied, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Now we have two names for the compartment in Sheol where Lazarus was, Abraham’s bosom and the Old Testament paradise. When Jesus and the penitent thief died, where did they go? They went down to Sheol, to Abraham’s bosom, to the Old Testament paradise; Jesus was there three days.
A true view of the dead will materially affect our comprehension of the Saviour’s reply to the Sadducees. Jesus argues from the expression used by Jehovah, “I am the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and Jacob,” that the dead were to be RAISED. In what condition, then, did Jesus assume these patriarchs to be? Dead? or alive? Christians ordinarily suppose that He assumes them to be alive. So says Wesley, “Therefore Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, are not dead, but living. Therefore the soul does not die with the body.” So says Barnes. “God spake, then, as being their God,” “They must, therefore, be still somewhere living.” “He is the God only of those who have an existence.”
But then there is in that passage no proof of resurrection; but only the separate existence of the soul, after the body is laid aside. Now resurrection never means ‘the immortality of the soul,’ never means ‘a future state.’ Then, too, Jesus’ reply does not refute the Sadducees. Their alleged difficulty did not relate to the intermediate state, but to the coming forth of the dead from their tombs, and the restoration of their BODIES. To whom the woman was as wife to belong, was a question applying only to the day when the BODY will be reunited to the SOUL. Neither Pharisee nor Sadducee believed in marriage among spirits.
This answer, then, makes Jesus evade the question, and prove
existence of the soul, instead of the resurrection of the body. It is, in
fact, a wrong way of stating the
patriarchs were not alive,
but dead. The
dead, as we have shown,
are those human beings whose spirit, body and soul are
admits to the Sadducees, that Abraham is dead, as
much as the woman and her seven husbands. Abraham is
dead, for his body is still in the
It is, indeed, quite true that this passage proves the separate existence of the souls of the patriarchs in Hades/Sheol. But THAT WAS NOT THE POINT. Jesus does not cite it to prove that, but Abraham’s return to his BODY. The separate existence of Abraham’s body and soul is a proof of his being then and NOW among the dead in Hades / Sheol. He will not be alive till his body and soul are reunited. In the same state in which Abraham was when God spoke to Moses at the bush, Abraham is still. Barnes and others call him “dead” then. He is, then, dead NOW. Jesus therefore is referring, not to time present, but to the future time of resurrection, of which the Sadducees were speaking.
Abraham is dead. Jehovah is his God.
But Jehovah is NOT
OF THE DEAD.
God is not now showing Himself the God of
to immortality is not yet come. That the
resurrection was to be at a future
held; and on that, allowed as a
basis, the Sadducees
then, by these words, engages to restore
by His almighty power Abraham to become Abraham again
in resurrection. Abraham
the Lord promised him possession of
Till spirit, soul and body come together, Abraham is not alive, and God is not showing Himself the God of Abraham. There is no visible difference between Abraham and Saul now; but the Almighty means to show His power put forth in goodness in rescuing Abraham wholly from the grasp of death. He has as yet done nothing answering the greatness of His promises for the patriarchs. But He is a God of truth. Therefore what He has not done in the past, HE MUST, HE WILL DO IN THE FUTURE. And God is in covenant relation with Abraham, even as regards his body. That was marked by God. How can God reject it, or cast it away as naught? Mark, too, the terms, “My covenant shall be IN YOUR FLESH for an EVERLASTING COVENANT:” Gen. 17: 13. Then the flesh must be as everlasting as the covenant. And so it is in the only One to whom it has been fulfilled. It is true in the One Heir, the Singular Seed of Abraham risen out from the dead, who said, “A spirit hath not FLESH and BONES, as ye see me have.” For this resurrection of reward the patriarchs wait.
A new and better AGE is coming, in which they neither die nor marry, nor are given in marriage. As long, then, as marriage and death last among redeemed believers, so long have we clear proof that the better age and the select resurrection out from the dead are not come.
But if ‘Death be Resurrection,’ and the spirit-state be the eternal one, Abraham had already risen ages before, and was either then enjoying the land of promise, or God’s pledged word was broken. Then, too, the Sadducees should have said, “Whose wife in the resurrection shall she be?” For already in the spirit-state she was the wife of one or more of them. If they were wrong in their supposition about this, Jesus would have corrected their error. But while He affirms the reality of Resurrection, which they falsely denied, He confirms them in regard to the futurity of the Resurrection. “But when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage:” Mark 12: 25.. “They which SHALL BE ACCOUNTED WORTHY TO ATTAIN THAT AGE, and the resurrection from among the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage:” (Greek) Luke 20: 34, 35.
The First Resurrection, then, admits into the millennial reign. Therefore Jesus having foretold the exit of His people from the ‘gates of Hades,’ then speaks of entry into the ‘Age’ yet to come and the kingdom of heaven: Matt. 16: 18, 19. And that kingdom is to be the kingdom of glory at the Saviour’s advent, of which a specimen was given on the Mount of Transfiguration: 16: 28; “Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom. And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart.”
But Jehovah has never yet fulfilled that
Abraham. He promised him the
“Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; the God of Glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee. Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran; and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell. And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child.”
So says the Writer of Hebrews: Heb. 11: 8, 13.
“By faith Abraham when he was called to go out into the place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out not knowing whither he went.” “These all died in faith, NOT HAVING RECEIVED THE PROMISE, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”
But it may be said - ‘Did not
the fulfilment, if not in his own person, yet in his
seed as represented by
And we answer - No, in no wise!
2. Never in their palmiest days, did they possess the land
in its extent
as given by the covenant, - from Nile to
3. But the chief reply is - That it is not said, that Abraham should inherit the land in his seed; but that he AND his seed should possess it. “All the land which thou seest, to THEE will I give it, and to thy seed for ever:”* Gen. 13: 15. Besides, if so, the Scriptures could not assert, that Abraham had never received the land. On that supposition, he has received it in the persons of his representatives; which was all that was promised.
* That is, for as long as this earth remains.
The covenant of Gen. 15, moreover, confirms the land to CHRIST as Abraham’s individual Heir; and no subsequent engagement of God can make void: Gal. 3: 17. But Christ has never possessed the land.
The promises of the
Thus, then, Jesus shows Himself Prince of commentators. He discovers to us, in those simple words - “I am the God of Abraham,” the promise of a future resurrection. In that bud lay concealed the flower and fruit of HIS glory to come. There it lay concealed, till the microscope of the Great Teacher drew them forth to Light.
We see, then, a new and better AGE is before us. It is to come in by resurrection - the ‘better resurrection’. The manifest of God’s favour will be on those who partake of this kingdom of the ‘thousand years’. As yet it is God the patient, waiting for the filling up of the world’s iniquity. As yet it is His people suffering at the hands of the wicked. As yet Christ is seated at the right hand of God, waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. He is already in heaven, crowned - because of His suffering of death - with glory and honour. But we see not yet the promise fulfilled, that all things shall be set under His feet. That is nigh at hand. And to us it is set forth as our hope - that we may be ‘accounted worthy’ to enter into that joy of our Lord. The Father and the Son have been working hitherto, since the Fall introduced trouble into God’s creation-rest. But all is moving on to the rest of God in His better Sabbath of redemption. Into this ‘Sabbath-rest’ of the seventh thousand year - shall enter those who have worked with God and His Christ, and suffered for them. Let us seek this rest! Let us labour to enter it! Let us desire to strive for the prize, which the Righteous Judge shall give in that day! Let us keep from unrighteousness! Into the resurrection of the righteous, and the kingdom of saints, the unrighteous shall not enter: 1 Cor. 6: 9-11. We are sons of God by grace, let us seek to do the works of our Father! Let us labour today in His vineyard! He is not the God of grace alone; He becomes also the Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him: Heb. 11: 6.
Nor let any discourage you by saying – that ‘To seek reward is to make yourselves mercenary in spirit!’ For this reward is to be given by the Heavenly Father to His OBEDIENT children: Matt. 6: 1-18. And Jesus sought this: Heb. 12: 2.
We are sons of God by faith, accepted before Him in Christ, born of the Holy Spirit. I would ask my reader, Have you been born of water also? God calls those who are in His ark to pass through the waters: 1 Pet. 3. But even to those born of the Spirit, and born out of water, there is yet lacking a third birth, ere they can enter the full repose of God. And what is that? THE BIRTH OUT OF DEATH AND THE TOMB: Acts 13: 32-34. Of those so born into the kingdom of glory it shall be true, that the least of them shall be greater than the greatest of those born of women: Matt. 11: 11. Let us, then, flee iniquity! Let us not settle down like Demas, content with this present evil age! But let us seek the better one, the age after the resurrection, the day of glory, and of the reign of Messiah/Christ! To those who faithfully serve Him NOW shall Jesus throw open the kingdom of glory, with His words of power – “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter thou INTO THE JOY OF THY LORD!”
- Edited from writings by Robert Govett.
* * *
“…the ‘narrow gate’ into the kingdom,
answers to the ‘needle’s eye’* of Matthew.”
BY WAY OF INTRODUCTION:
EIGHT SELECTED QUOTATIONS
1. “Hearken, by beloved brethren; did not God choose them that are poor as to the world to be rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he promised to them that love him:” James 2: 5, R.V.
2. “Howbeit that which ye have, hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and he that keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give authority over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to shivers:” Rev. 2: 25-27, R.V.
3. “As many as I love, I reprove and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come into him, and will sup with him, and he with me. He that overcometh, I will give to him to sit down with me in my throne, as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father in his throne:” Rev. 3: 19-21, R.V.
4. “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he hath been approved, he shall receive the crown of life,* which the Lord promised to them that love him:” James 1: 12, R.V.
* NOTE. In the above text the words: “He shall receive the crown of life” - where ‘life’ refers to a future reward for those who will be ‘approved’ (for enduring ‘temptation’) - it is perfectly clear that eternal life, as ‘the free gift of God’ (Rom. 6: 23), is not the issue. Again, by comparing Scripture with Scripture, the words: ‘Hold fast that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown’ (Rev. 3: 20); the Holy Spirit is illustrating the correct interpretation by referring us to future reward in the millennial reign of Christ Jesus.
5. “And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said,
Blessed are ye poor:
for yours is the
6. Paul and Barnabas returned to the churches. ‘Confirming
the souls of the disciples, and
much tribulation, enter
7 “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables. But be thou sober in all things, suffer hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil thy ministry. For I am already being offered, and the time of my departure is come. I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that DAY; and not only to me, but also to all them that have loved his appearing:” (2 Tim. 4: 3-8, R.V.).
8. “‘If thou wishest to enter into life:’ where ‘life’ means the state of reward, and the award made to works. So again in a succeeding passage, ‘What shall we have therefore?’ From which it is clear, that apostles understood the meaning to be that of a time of reward. And our Lord’s reply completely proves their idea to be correct.”
Riches and the Kingdom
The Saviour’s interview with the rich young man is by the Holy Spirit esteemed to be of such deep importance to right views of the [regenerate] believer’s position, that He has caused it to be thrice recorded. Let us then regard it principally as it is related by Matthew, who gives the fullest account of it. He alone adds the parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard, which sprang out of it.
16. “And behold one came up and said unto Him, ‘Good Teacher what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal** life?’”*
17. “But He said unto him, Why callest thou Me good? none is good but One, that is God.”
* Some critical authorities adopt a different reading here, but I have adhered to the received text. Either will not interfere with the purpose of this tract.
[**NOTE. The Greek word ‘aionios,’ translated ‘eternal’ above in our English text is misleading. Regenerate believers already possess ‘eternal life’: and it was not acquired through our obedience to Christ, as the above text would suggest! Hence the false interpretation circulating throughout our churches today! “Eternal life” is obtained by ‘grace’ through ‘faith’ in our Lord Jesus Christ, (Eph. 2: 8, 9. cf. John 3: 16).
“This word though should be understood about thirty of these seventy-one times in the sense of ‘age-lasting’ rather than ‘eternal’; and the occurrence in Heb. 5: 9 forms a case in point. Several good examples of other places where aionios should be translated and understood as “age-lasting” are Gal. 6: 8; 1Tim. 6: 12; Titus 1: 2; 3: 7. These passages have to do with running the present race of the faith in view of one day realizing an inheritance in the kingdom, which is the hope set before Christians.
“On the other hand, aionios
can be understood in the sense of “eternal” if the
text so indicates. Several good examples of
places where aionios
should be translated and
understood are John
15, 16, 36. These
to do with the life derived through faith in Christ
because of His finished
“Textual considerations must always be taken into account when properly translating and understanding aionios, for this is a word which can be used to imply either ‘age-lasting’ or ‘eternal’; and it is used both ways numerous times in the New Testament. Textual considerations in Heb. 5: 9 leave no room to question exactly how aionios should be understood and translated in this verse. Life during the coming age, occupying a position as co-heir with Christ in that coming day…” - A. L. Chitwood.]
The word “Master” takes a different sense in our day from that which it sustained in the days of our translators except where it is joined with some word which determines it to its old signification, as ‘drawing-master,’ ‘fencing-master.’ I have therefore substituted the word ‘teacher’ as more clearly expressing the meaning of the evangelist.
The young man addressed our Lord as an instructor, capable of giving him light upon the momentous subject of his inquiry. But he also addresses Him as the “good.” “Good,” in our common usage, when applied to men, means “pious.” But in this sense it could not apply to God, of whom our Lord uses it in His reply. It means then, in this and other passages in the New and Old Testament, ‘kind, benevolent, bountiful.’ Thus, at the conclusion of the parable with which the Saviour closes the subject, the householder says to the envious labourer who murmured against his kindness, “Is thine eye evil because I am good?” And in the inquiry, “What good thing shall I do,” the word bears the same sense. “What acts of benevolence or bounty shall I perform?”
This title Jesus seemingly refuses. “Why callest thou Me good?” And some have stumbled at it; but without sufficient reason. The young man appears to have used it as a compliment, suitably addressed to a religious teacher: or peculiarly so, as applied to one, of whose many disinterested cures he had heard. But Jesus loved not empty compliments: He would have him give it in its full force, and with its deepest significance; or not at all. The young ruler seems also to have entertained too lax views of human nature. He did not accept the doctrine of its entire depravity. Therefore Jesus meets him with the strong declaration, “None is good but One, that is, God.” Man by nature is the reverse of good. Far from being bounteous, he is cold, covetous, selfish, unjust. Thus the Saviour states the matter when He contrasts the nature of man with that of God. “If ye then being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?” Matt. 7: 11.*
* In this verse “good,” as spoken of things, does not, of course take the signification of bountiful, which can only strictly apply to persons.
God alone is good. He is the fountain of all bounty. All generosity in the hearts of His creatures, springs from Himself. The various capacities and enjoyments of His creatures, bespeak His goodness who grants them. Only in a derived and subordinate sense, is any creature “good.”
If then the title really belonged to Christ - if He were prepared to give it to Him in its fullest sense, he must admit him to be more than man or angel.
The goodness of God is taken up in the parable which follows, and is displayed in that mirror of His future dealings. But, beside this, the demand which the Saviour makes upon the youthful inquirer, is an exhibition of His own goodness. He was indeed the Teacher of a bounty and grace hitherto unknown among men.
“But if thou wishest to enter into life, keep the commandments. 18. He saith unto Him ‘Of what kind?’ But Jesus said, ‘Thou that shalt not murder; thou shalt not commit adultery; thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not bear false witness: 19. Honour thy father and mother: and thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.’ 20. The young man saith unto Him, ‘All these things I have kept from my youth, what lack I yet?’”
not the only attribute of God. He is also just.
hence, he who would win
and earn eternal*
life, must pay
its price. The young man had put himself
upon that ground. “What good thing shall I
do, that I may have eternal life?” The
Jesus therefore sets before him the terms of law
as declared of old by Moses. The
commandments must be kept in their
perfection: one breach of them drawing down the
penalty, “Cursed is he.” “He is guilty of all.” The ruler had not read aright the law, nor the message of God by
John the Baptist. “By
the law is the knowledge
of sin.” And the
cry of John to all
[* See Note on “eternal” above.]
But, as the law of Moses consisted of several classes of commandments - moral, ceremonial, and judicial - the inquirer asks, which of these classes was in the mind of his instructor? The Saviour replies, by referring him to the second table of the Decalogue. Instead of the tenth commandment, He gives the general principle, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” To these Mark adds, “Defraud not,” which probably was intended to sum up the precepts contained in Lev. 19: 11, 13. “Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another.” “Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him; the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.”
But why was there no reference to the first table? Why was he not set upon trying himself by the demands of God upon his heart? Methinks we may obtain an answer from the question of the young man. He desired to know what acts of goodness would win him eternal life? Now our goodness extends not to God; and therefore our Lord offers to his notice only his neighbour’s claims upon him.
Jesus can but own the law in its place; though He was the Teacher of the kingdom, and came to ordain its better rule. If any would earn eternal life, they must ever be referred to the law: and the great pillars of it are the Ten Commandments. As just, Jesus teaches the law and eternal life as its reward: as good, he instructs concerning grace, and the kingdom.
To the Capernaites who put to Him a similar question, He in His wisdom gave a very different response. “What shall we do,” said they, “that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He sent.” John 6: 29, 30.
Each answer was perfect in its place. The one now engaging our attention brings out truths, which that in John would not display. But the inquirer, like Paul, “alive without the law once,” asserts that he had always kept these commands from his earliest youth. He has won then, in his own estimation, eternal life as the reward of his obedience. Yet his assertion was not so bold, as not to ask for confirmation from the “Good Teacher.” “What lack I yet?”
21. “Jesus said unto him, ‘If thou wishest to be perfect, go, sell thy possessions, and give to the poor; and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come, follow, Me.’ But when the young man heard it, he went away sorrowful; for he was possessed of great property.”
Hitherto the present exposition has agreed with the ideas generally entertained. But what is the bearing of the Lord’s answer to the young man’s inquiry? At this point I am compelled to turn off from the usual path. I differ in my sentiments (1) concerning Jesus’ design in the demand of the young man; and (2) in the bearing of the words uttered on his refusal.
It is commonly asserted that Jesus intends to convict the inquirer of disobedience to the law by proving him to be avaricious. Thus Barnes - “Jesus commanded him to do this therefore to test his character, and to show him that he had not kept the law as he pretended; and thus to show him that he needed a better righteousness than his own.” Such would be our own ordinary proceeding in a similar instance; and it is not wonderful, therefore, if it is thought that our Lord adopts the same plan. Such a procedure too would quite fall in with Paul’s argument in the Romans.
I. But the attempt to prove that this was our Lord’s drift, fails. Disobedience to a command which never formed any part of the law of Moses, can never convict any of trespass against it. But the command that the rich should give up money, house, and lands to the poor, never was framed by Moses. What the Lord by Moses did require was:
the produce of the seventh year should not be gathered
in; but be left to
the poor, whether of
2. The corners of the field and the gleanings were to be left for the same classes: as also the remnant of the olive-yard and vineyard. Lev. 19: 9, 10.
3. The poor brother, though a stranger or a sojourner was to be relieved. Lev. 25: 35.
4. Loans were to be granted to the poor. Deut. 15: 7-11.
5. The Hebrew, who had been sold as a slave to an Israelite, on his leaving at the seventh year, was to be furnished liberally out of the floor, the flock, and the winepress. Deut. 15: 12-15.
But to give up all was to love our neighbour, not only as ourselves, but beyond ourselves.
II. Again was the non-fulfilment of the Saviour’s command, a proof of avarice? Are those proved to be grasping after more who refuse to give up all they have? Or does it prove them unjust, in keeping back what is due from them? If either of these charges be true, then the command of the Saviour extends to every rich believer sti1l or he is an avaricious man!
that is a conclusion from which all
‘No! it was only
a solitary case.
To refuse to part with our whole property
now, is no proof of avarice; but when Christ Himself
specially enjoined it,
then it was.’
supposition overthrows the previous argument. If
the precept was a special
one, binding on this man alone, and not before
Christ spoke it, then it was
no demand of the law of Moses. And therefore the
non-compliance of the
young ruler was no proof of disobedience to the law.
If Moses made the demand,
it was binding on all the rich of
IV. But not only is the first demand not of the law, but the condition, the promise, and the succeeding command, are all of the gospel. “If thou wishest to be perfect.” But Jesus teaches this lesson to His disciples. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your father which is in heaven is perfect.” “The law made nothing perfect.”
The promise too, whereby the Lord would cheer the young man on to the sacrifice, was a gospel promise, not a legal one. “Thou shalt have treasure in heaven.” Treasure on earth, in the basket and store, was the promise of the law.
the closing command, “Come, follow me,”
to which Mark adds, “taking up the cross,” is manifestly not of
the law, but of the
Gospel. The law fixed each on his own estate.
The law promised
ease, enjoyment, honour, to him who kept its precepts.
28: 1. The
cross, and the following a
rejected Messiah, belong to the
The truth is, that Jesus now drops the question with which the young man began; and sets before him the new conduct, and the new reward, to which He came to call men. That indeed was the direction in which the young man’s question leaned. “Can you add any new requirement to those of the law?” “What lack I yet?” The Lord then does give him a higher rule, the reward of which is, the kingdom of glory. The righteousness of the law simply, will not admit into the kingdom. “I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” But the young man’s [standard of personal] righteousness was only that of the Scribe and Pharisee.
Jesus, we suppose, might have justly challenged the assertion of the young ruler as incorrect. But it is rather our Lord’s manner to press His opponents on their own ground. And answerably, in the parable which follows, the steward does not call any class of the labourers in question, as not having fulfilled their work; not even the boastful murmurers. Thus both portions correspond; for the young ruler was one of the first order of labourers; as we shall see. But having considered what is not the bearing of our Lord’s words, let us attend to their real force.
“If thou wishest to be perfect.” The law could not make
him so. It was
mainly an exhibition of God, as the God of justice.
Jesus would set
before him a higher rule, and a higher reward than the
eternal life to be
attained by keeping the law. ‘But
how can there
be any reward beyond eternal life?’
There is the thousand-years’
“And come follow Me.”
a new dispensation, a new law-giver. Moses was
sent to lead
[* NOTE. The “rest” in this context is not that “rest” we presently have in Christ Jesus for our eternal salvation in a “new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21: 1),” after the Kingdom-Age has ended. Scripture speaks to all who are regenerate of more than one “rest”! See Heb. 4: 1, 6-9, 11. cf. Psa. 95: 11.]
The parting with all was but a momentary act; but the following Christ was to be his abiding attitude. This was necessary, no less than the other, in order to an entrance into the kingdom.* There were religionists, in the days of early Christianity, who made such sacrifices as are here called for by the Saviour, but in obedience to other lords and teachers. For such there would be no reward in the kingdom of God.* As Paul observes, though their athletic exhibitions were as great as those of the candidates for the kingdom of God, yet, inasmuch as they regarded not the laws of the combat, they would not be crowned. “But if any even wrestle, he is not crowned except he wrestle according to the laws (of the games.”) 2 Tim. 2: 5. And as these philosophic wrestlers acted only at the promptings of vanity, and with disregard to the authority of the Lord Jesus, or with denial of the essential foundations of the gospel, they could not be accepted by God.
[* NOTE. There are those who believe all the regenerate will have an ‘entrance into the kingdom’ on the basis of bare faith alone! But, the Holy Spirit taught believer, will see this is not the case! There is an undisclosed standard of a disciple’s personal righteousness required: and a select resurrection out from amongst the dead, (Matt. 5: 20; Luke 20: 35. cf Phil. 3: 11; Luke 14: 14; Heb. 11: 35b and Rev. 20: 4-6.]
* This class will soon arise again, and shame the luxurious Christians of the present day. But they will be thistles only, not bearers of grapes.
a consequence, most important to us, flow from our
Lord’s words? The
young man supposed himself in possession of eternal
life, as having the
righteousness required by the law. Even to one
in such a position the
Lord asserts, that there was a higher
law, and a further
is true then even at the present day, and addresses
itself to every [regenerate] believer.
He really has already eternal life by faith in
Jesus Christ the Son of
He has a perfect righteousness in the imputed
merits of Jesus. What then does he need more?
He is to seek to be “perfect,
even as His
Father who is in heaven is perfect.” He is to endeavour to
attain the active
which admits into the [millennial]
Thus did Jesus manifest Himself as the Good, the Benevolent Teacher. But the young man, though he seems to have valued himself on his benevolence, found this a height to which he could not climb. Not that he was the insincere, avaricious hypocrite which some would depict him. There is every guarantee for his sincerity. He came running to our Lord and kneeled before Him, as Mark informs us. This bespeaks his eagerness. He asked no captious question, as the Saviour’s enemies did; but one of the most solemn and important that can be uttered by human lips. He was teachable. “What lack I yet?” For anything we know, he might be a converted person. Even after he had made his bold assertion of having kept the law, we are told that “Jesus looked upon him and loved him.” And even when he turned away from the precept of the Great Instructor whom he had sought, he did so with a mien that manifested his sincerity. “He went away sorrowful.” Not so the covetous Pharisees. When Jesus was asserting only the general truth of the impossibility of uniting the chase after riches, with the service of God, these unscrupulous opponents “derided him.” Luke 16:14.
Nor is there any evidence of his being covetous. The reason assigned by the three evangelists is the same; and it is not that he was covetous, but that he was rich. “He had great possessions,” say Matthew and Mark. “He was very sorrowful,” writes Luke, “for he was very rich.”
23. “But Jesus said unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, that scarcely shall a rich (man) enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
again I say unto you, it
easier that a camel should go through the eye of a
needle, than that a rich (man)
should enter into the
How did Jesus know that the young stranger was rich? How was He aware, that his sorrowful turning away arose from his unwillingness to part with his riches? By his supernatural acquaintance, as the Son of God, with the condition and heart of all.
The young man now leaves the scene, but the disciples abide and to them as disciples, not merely to apostles, he addresses the solemn lesson before us. It is then, I suppose, instruction given to believers concerning believers. A rich person, even though converted shall scarcely enter the kingdom.
Jesus regards the young ruler as a specimen of the lesson delivered. He had propounded to him the terms of entrance into the kingdom; and the discouraged inquirer had turned away. It does not follow from the Saviour’s words, that the young man was lost, for ever. There is great difference between losing the kingdom and losing eternal life.
But the contrary is always assumed. “Though reluctant to give up hopes of eternal life,” says the Tract Society’s Commentary, “he would not at that time part with his riches for the sake of it.” “What then would the sorrow be afterward, when his possessions would be gone, and all hopes of eternal life gone also?” But Jesus had not called in question his claim to eternal life. Even now, He pleads only, that the offer which He made of treasure in heaven, was rejected.
The Lord’s comment then on this his action proves, that our view of his former words was not a mistaken one. Had He been pressing on the inquirer the claims of the law, and non-suiting his hopes of eternal life, He would naturally have remarked to His disciples the blindness of the unconverted heart to its own state, or the presumption of men in supposing themselves better than they are. Or, he might have noticed, how hardly the avaricious give up their love of wealth, and seek eternal life. But neither the words nor ideas appear. He leaves the law and eternal life, to speak of riches and the [coming Messianic] Kingdom. Are these things equivalent? It had been no wonder to the disciples, that the avaricious should be excluded. “He blesseth the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth,” saith the Psalm 10: