« VorigeDoorgaan »
The Lord shall send the Rod of thy strength out of Sion: Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.
THIS verse is a continuation of the former, touching the kingdom of Christ; and it contains the form of its spiritual administration. Wherein is secretly couched another of the offices of Christ, namely, his prophetical office. For that is, as it were, the dispensation and execution of his regal office in the militant church. The sum of this administration consists in two principal things: First, In matters military, for the subduing of enemies, and for the defence and protection of his people. Secondly, In matters civil and judicial, for the government, preservation, and honour of his kingdom. And both these are in this psalm; the former, in the latter part of this verse, "Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies." The other, in the third verse, "Thy people shall be willing," &c.; and the way of compassing and effecting, in the former words of this verse, "The Lord shall send forth the rod of thy strength out of Sion."
Every king hath his 'jura regalia,' certain royal prerogatives and peculiar honours proper to his own person, which no man can use but with subordination unto him. And if we observe them, we shall find many of them as exactly belong unto Christ in his kingdom, as to any secular prince in his. First, Unto kings do belong armamentaria publica,' the magazines for military provision, and the power and disposition of public arms. Therefore he is said by the apostle to "bear the sword," because arms properly belong unto him, and unto others under his allowance and protection. So to Christ alone doth belong,-and in him only is to be found, the public armoury of a Christian man The weapons of our warfare are mighty only through him. Nay, he is himself the armour and panoply of a Christian, and therefore we are commanded "to put on the Lord Jesus."
a Greg. Tholos. de Repub. lib. 9. cap. 1.
b Rom. xiii. 4. 1 Sam. x. 16, 17
Again, 'via publica' is 'via regia ;' the high way is the king's way, wherein every man walketh freely under the protection of his sovereign. So that law of faith and obedience under which we are to walk, which St. Paul calleth the law of Christ, is by St. James called 'lex regia,' a royal law,` and a law of liberty;' in which while any man continueth, he is under the protection of the promises and of the angels of Christ. Again, bona adespota seu incerti domini,' lands that are concealed and under the evident claim of no other person or lord, do belong unto the prince, as he that hath the supreme and universal dominion in his countries. And this is most certainly true of Christ, in his kingdom: if any man can once truly say, 'Lord, I am not the servant of any other master; no other king hath the rightful dominion, or peaceable possession of my heart,' he may most truly from thence infer;-Therefore, Lord, am I thy servant, and therefore, Lord, my heart is thine. True it is, Lord our God, that "other lords besides thee have had dominion over us; but now by thee only will we make mention of thy name." Again; 'vectigalia,' and 'census,' tributes, and customs, and testifications of homage and fidelity are personal prerogatives belonging unto princes, and, as the apostle saith, due unto them," for that ministry and office, which, under God, they attend upon. So in Christ's kingdom, there is a worship which the psalmist saith is "due unto his name." They which came unto the Temple, which was a type of Christ, were not to come empty-handed, but to bring testimonies of their reverence, and willing subjection unto that worship. When Abraham met Melchisedec, a figure of Christ,-as from him he received a blessing, so unto him he gave an expression of a loyal heart, the tenth of the spoils. When the people of Israel entered into the land of Canaan, (which was a type of Christ's church, which he should conquer unto himself,) if any people accepted of the peace which they were first to proclaim, they were to become tributaries and servants unto Israel. So it is said of Solomon (whose peaceable kingdom was a type of Christ's after his many victories) that "he levied a tribute of bond-service upon all
e Gal. vi. 2.
f Isai. xxvi. 13.
d James ii. 8, and i. 25.
1 Kings iv. 21. 1 Kings ix, 21, x. 10.
• Psalm xci. 11. Prov. x. 29. h Psalm xcvi. 8. i Deut. xx. 11.
the nations about Israel;" and that those princes with whom he held correspondency, brought unto him presents, as testimonies of his greatness and wisdom. So when the wise men (the first-fruits' of the Gentiles, after Christ exhibited) came to submit unto his kingdom, they opened their treasure, and presented him with gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh." Again; Monetarum leges et valores,' the authorizing and valuations of public coins belong unto the prince only; it is his image and inscription alone, which maketh them current. Even so unto Christ only, doth belong the power of stamping and creating, as it were, new ordinances in his church nothing is with God, nor should be current with us, which hath not his image or express authority upon it. Neither can any man falsify or corrupt any constitution of his, without notable contempt against his royal prerogative. -Again; Judicium,' or 'potestas judiciaria,' a power of judging the persons and causes of men, is a peculiar royalty, the administration whereof is from the prince, as the fountain of all human equity (under God) deposited in the hands of inferior officers,-who are, as it were, the mouth of the prince, to publish the laws, and to execute those acts of justice and peace, which principally belong to his own sacred breast. And so Christ saith of himself, "The Father hath committed all judgement unto the Son, and hath given him authority to execute judgement."" Again; Jus vitæ et necis; a power to pardon condemned persons, and deliver them from the terror of the law's sentence, is a transcendent mercy, a gem which can shine only from the diadems of princes. Now unto Christ likewise belongeth, in his church, a power to forgive sins: it is the most sacred royalty of this prince of peace,' not only to suspend, but for ever to revoke, and, as it were, annihilate, the sentence of malediction under which every man is born. There are likewise ornamenta regia,' regal ornaments", a crown, a throne, a sceptre, and the like. Thus we find the Romans were wont to send to those foreign kings with whom they were in league, as testimonies and
1 Matt. ii. 11.—Primitiæ Gentium Sacramentalia munera proferunt de thesauris, &c. Cyprian. Serm. de Stell. & Magis.-Brisson, De Reg. Persarum 1. i. 26. m John v. 22. 27. 2 Kings xi. 12. 1 Kings x. 18. Liv. lib. 30.-Tacit. An. 1. 4. Dionys. Halicar. lib. 3.
confirmations of their dignity, scipionem eburneum, togam pictam, sellam curulem, an ivory sceptre, a royal robe, and a chair of state. And the like honours we find, in the Scriptures, belonging unto Christ, that he was crowned with glory and honour",' and that he had a throne and righteous sceptre,' belonging to his kingdom. Thus we have seen in several particulars, how Christ hath his royalties belonging to his kingdom. Some principal of them we find in this place; a throne, a sceptre, ambassadors, armies, for the right dispensing of his sacred power. We will first consider the words, and then raise such observations as shall offer themselves.
First, What is meant by the rod of Christ's strength, or his strong rod? It notes a thing which a man may lean upon, or lay the whole weight of his body on in his weariness. But being spoken of Christ's kingdom, we take it for a sceptre or rod of majesty'. I will not hold you with the variety of acceptions in expositors. Some take it for the branch, that groweth out of that root of Jesse :—some, for the wood of the cross-some for the body of Christ born of a Virgin :-some, for the kingdom of Christ's power, taking the sign for the thing signified:-some, for the power of his mighty works and preaching. That of the body and of the cross of Christ, except by them we understand the virtue of Christ crucified, I conceive to be not so pertinent to the purpose of the prophet; the rest agree in one. But for the more distinct understanding of the words, we may consider, out of the holy scriptures, what things were 'sent out of Sion.' And we find there two things: First, the word of the Lord, or his holy gospel: "The law shall proceed out of Sion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." s Secondly, The Spirit of the Lord, which was first sent unto Sion; for at Jerusalem, the apostles were to wait for the promises of the Father', and from thence "was shed abroad into the world upon all flesh ";" and both these are the power or strength of Christ. His Word, "a gospel of power unto salvation," and his Spirit, "a spirit of power "," which
P Heb. ii. 9. 9 Psal. xlv. 6. 8. Theodoret. Arnobius. Aug. et Prosp. Euthymius. Insigne majestatis regiæ. Hieron. "Acts ii. 17. x Rom. i. 16. 2 Cor. iv. 7, x. 4.
⚫ Mic. iv. 2.
t Acts i. 4. 2 Tim. i. 7.
is therefore called the finger and the arm of the Lord." by the rod is meant the gospel and the Spirit of Christ. Secondly, What is meant by "God's sending this rod of Christ's strength?" It notes the manifestation of the gospel: we knew it not, before it was sent:-the donation of the gospel; we had it not before it was sent the invitations of the gospel; we were without God in the world, and strangers from the covenant of promise, before it was sent. The commission of the dispensers of the gospel; they have their patent from Heaven; they are not to speak until they be sent.
Thirdly, What is meant by "sending it out of Sion?" It is put in opposition to Mount Sinai, from whence the law was sometimes sent with thunders and fire, and much terror unto the people of Israel. "Ye are not come," saith the apostle, "unto the mount that burned with fire, nor unto blackness and darkness, and tempest, &c., but ye are come unto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant," &c. and the apostle elsewhere showeth us the meaning of this allegorical opposition between Sinai and Sion, between Sarah and Hagar; namely, the two covenants of the law and of grace, or of bondage and liberty. Sion was the place, whither the tribes resorted to worship the Lord; the place, towards which that people prayed; the place of God's merciful residence amongst them; the beauty of holiness; the place, upon which first the gift of the Holy Ghost was poured forth, and in which the gospel was first of all preached after Christ's ascension. We may take it by a synecdoche, for the whole church of the Jews, unto whom the Lord first revealed his covenant of grace in Christ.c
"Rule thou:"-that is, Thou shalt rule ;-which is a usual form to put the imperative for the future indicative. It is not a command, which hath relation unto any service; but it is a promise, a commission, a dignity conferred upon Christ.
z Luke xi. 20. Matth. xii. 28. Isai. liii. 1. iv. 24, 25.
a Heb. xii. 18, 24.
Acts iii. 26. xiii. 46. Rom. ii. xx.