« VorigeDoorgaan »
HE leading thoughts in this precious psalm (i.) are the
blessedness of the righteous and the misery of the wicked. The strong and confident expressions touching the character of the former, have their origin in the apprehension, on the
part of the Psalmist, of the grand truth brought fully to light in the gospel of Jesus Christ, that “the righteousness of
the law is fulfilled in those who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom. viii. 4. 8).
“Happy is the man
Who walketh not in the counsel of the erring,
And in his law doth he meditate day and night.”
he defines and illustrates the "blessedness” under the beautiful figure of
verse third :
“ And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of waters,
And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." What is the species of tree referred to here? It will be shown under Psalm xxxvii. 35 that it is not likely the bay-tree (Laurus nobilis) was ever so well known in Palestine as to enter into the popular religious songs of the people. It is, indeed, doubtful if this beautiful tree be ever named by Scripture writers. “The cause,” says Dr. Royle, “why the laurel is not more frequently mentioned, is probably because it was never very common in Palestine; as otherwise, from its pleasing appearance, grateful shade, and the agreeable odour of its leaves, it could hardly have failed to attract attention.” The tree which, both from its beauty, its abundance, and its habits of growth, best answers the similitude of the psalmist is the Oleander or Rose bay (Nerium Oleander) one of the natural order of plants the dog-banes (Apocynacece).
"There is one tree,” says Dr. Stanley, “only to be found in the valley of the Jordan, but too beautiful to be entirely passed over-the oleander, with its bright blossoms and dark green leaves, giving the aspect of a garden to any spot where it grows." The oleander flourishes luxuriantly on the western shores of the lake of Gennesaret. Thus Keble's lines
What went you out to see
O'er the rude sandy lea
Or where Gennesaret's wave
Delights the flowers to lave,
All through the summer night
Those blossoms red and bright
Like hermits watching still
Around the sacred hill,
Where erst our Saviour watch'd upon his knees." Psalm ii.-After Peter and John were released from prison (Acts iv.) they went to their own company and “repeated all that the priests and elders had said unto them” (ver. 23). Then all lifted up their hearts to God, as one "who by the mouth of his servant David had said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?” They then apply verse 2 of this psalm to Jesus. This makes it certain how the Jews looked on the psalm, when under the direct teaching of the Holy Ghost. Among the promises of the Father to the eternal Son there is named here "the uttermost parts of the earth for a possession"-a promise equal to the spread of Christ's kingdom over the whole world.
Psalm iv.-The experience of David set forth in this psalm may legitimately be regarded as the type of certain aspects of the experience of Christ and of his church in him. It is not of prime importance to determine the exact historical incident which called forth this utterance of the "man after God's heart.” It may have been the revolt of Absalom. Strong confidence in God is throughout the leading thought. One forcible illustration of this is given in verse 7—
“ Thou hast put gladness in my heart,
More than in the time that their corn and wine increased."
Many had begun to despair. They saw the enemy prospering, while they were sore pressed and in straits. Verse 7 indicates that the psalmist had triumphed over all. He had felt warmth and strength in the light of the Lord's countenance (ver. 6); and as one made glad with a joy which the abundance of earth could not give, nor the poverty of earth take away, he could add (ver. 8)
“I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep:
The word rendered “corn” is one of several used in scripture to distinguish grain in general. Two of these have been noticed under Genesis xlii. 2, 3. A third (dāgān) occurs here. Though indefinite, several shades of meaning are attached to it. Of the country which became the portion of the chosen people it is said—“The fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine” (Deut. xxxiii. 28). It is joined with wine both here and in Gen. xxviii. 28, 37; Numb. xviii. 12, 37; Deut. vii. 13, xi. 14, xii. 17, xiv. 23; 2 Kings xviii. 32; Isa. xxxvi. 17; Jer. xxxi. 12; Lam. ii. 12; Hos. ii. 8; and Zech. ix. 17. All the cereals whose first fruits were to be offered unto the Lord are included under this term; Deut. xviii. 4. The Psalmist in another song dwells on it with much satisfaction as God's special gift to man:
“ Thou visitest the earth and waterest it;
Thou preparest them corn when thou hast so provided it” (lxv. 9). In Psalm lxxviii. 24, the term is associated with the manna given in the wilderness :
“ And had rained down manna upon them to eat,
And had given them of the corn of heaven.” The frequency with which this word (dāgān) is associated with wine suggests the question—Is the term translated wine in this psalm as general in its scope? A cursory glance even at the passages in which this word (tīrāsh) is employed shows, that it corresponds with the somewhat vague meaning given to corn. As dāgān includes all cereals, so tirosh is used for the grape in all its stages, and for any one preparation from it likewise (Deut. xi. 14).
Psalm viii.-Several points in this psalm claim attention. The outstanding thoughts in it are—the soul's apprehension of the glory and excellency of God in creation, man's acknowledgment of his own insignificance, and his testimony to the grace of God in having originally assigned to man the place of head over all his creatures. And, no doubt, this was the point of view from which it was regarded by the church before the manifestation of Christ in the flesh. After that event the Holy Spirit of God taught man to look at it in another light altogether. In