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evidently and confessedly a symbolic prophecy of the Lord Jesus going forth to propagate the Gospel. The King whose majesty and victories are celebrated, is thus addressed in verses , 6, 7: “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; the sceptre of
; thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness and hatest wickedness; therefore, God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” Now, as the King has " fellows," and is, nevertheless, "God," the Lord Jesus Christ is clearly the subject of this part of the prophecy; because, He alone, by the union of two distinct natures, the Godhead and • the Manhood, in one Person, can be addressed as God, and yet, as one who has fellows.
This exposition is confirmed by the first chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, where the psalm is cited to prove that, according to the Old Testament prophecies, the Messiah is God as well
The means—"truth, meekness and righteousness”—whereby the King achieves His victories, prove them to be the spiritual victories of the Gospel, and exclude, absolutely, conquests of every other kind. “ Thou art fairer," says the psalmist to Him,
“ " than the children of men; grace is poured into thy lips. In thy majesty ride prosperously, because of truth, meekness, and righteousness. Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the King's enemies, whereby the people fall under thee.” . “ Grace and truth,” which “came by Jesus Christ,” are the peculiar characteristics of the Gospel, and cannot be attributed to any other event or dispensation whatever. Indeed the whole language and imagery of the psalm are so plainly Evangelical, that both the earlier and later commentators very generally agree
in their explanation of it.
The translators of the authorized version of the Bible give this brief and excellent summary of the first nine verses—“The majesty and grace of Christ's kingdom.”
The early Christian expositors give a like exposition of it. Augustine on the verse,—Thine arrows are sharp in the hearts of the King's enemies, whereby the people fall under thee, says, “ the people fall when they fall in heart. There they lift thémselves up against Christ; there they fall before Christ. Saul
1 John, i. 17; Luke, iv. 22 ; Heb. iv. 16.
blasphemed Christ—he was lifted up; he supplicated Christ—. he fell. An arrow is shot from heaven-Saul is pierced to the heart."
Bishop Horsley' in his exposition of the psalm, writes: “ The Lord is represented in the Revelation as going forth upon a white horse, with a crown upon his head, conquering and to conquer.
The psalmist, in imagery almost the same, accosts him as a warlike prince preparing to take the field. Under images taken from military exploits the successful propagation of the Gospel is described. The war in which the Saviour is engaged is very different from the wars which the princes of this world wage upon one another: it is not for the destruction of the lives of men, but for the preservation of their souls.”
The bow which is implied in the forty-fifth psalm, is expressly given to the Lord in the remarkable symbolical prophecy of Zechariah : “ When I have bent Judah for me, filled the bow with Ephraim, and raised up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Greece, and made thee as the sword of a mighty man.” nature of this war has been latterly disputed, but the context requires it to be understood, with the early Christians, spiritually.
Verses 9, 10, 11, and 12, with which the 13th is closely connected, are unquestionably a Gospel prophecy. In the 9th verse the Lord enters Jerusalem in lowly triumph, riding on an ass, and having salvation; in the 10th verse the implements of war are cut to pieces, and His dominions are extended from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth; in the 11th, the prisoners are sent forth out of the pit wherein is no water, by the Blood of the Covenant: that is, by the death of Christ as the sacrifice for sin ;3 in the 12th verse, the prisoners of hopethat is, those who are enslaved to sin, and sigh in vain for deliverance—are exhorted to turn to the stronghold, (Zion's King who has salvation) and they shall receive double; the 13th verse describes a war: the question is what is its nature? Is it a war carried on by physical force, in which men fall by mutual acts of rage and violence? or, the war which the Lord wages by
| Sermons, pp. 62, 63.
Chapter ix. 13.
3. Heb. xiii. 20. Isaiah, xlii. 7 ; xlix. 9 ; lxi, 1; Rom. viii. 21.
the power of His grace against sin and Satan, for the preservation of the souls of men; and which is so often described in the prophecies by images taken from military deeds ?
In the Hebrew, in the Greek, in the Latin, and in our authorized English version, verses 12 and 13 are so pointed as to make one sentence; and it is difficult to imagine they can form two; or that two subjects so very dissimilar as deliverance by the blood of Christ and armed violence should be joined together, so as to form two clauses of one sentence.
Let, however, the war be, as some will have it, the wars of the Maccabees against the successors of Alexander, and what is the connexion? The prisoners of hope (in other parts of Scripture those who labour under a sense of sin) are exhorted to turn to the stronghold and they shall receive double, when the Lord has bent Judah to him, and filled the bow with Ephraim; or, expressed without the symbol, when the Maccabees have defeated the Greeks, the oppressors and enemies of the Jews. Now what relation, in respect of time, have these Jewish victories with the deliverance offered in the preceding verses both to Jew and to Gentile? The day of these exploits was long before any one could turn to the stronghold and find deliverance by the Blood of the Covenant. And it is needless to observe that the achievements of the most warlike leader, engaged in the defence of the most righteous cause, cannot give the man, who knows the plague of his own heart, one jot of hope, that he shall be freed from the load that oppresses him, when the enemies of his country have been defeated and subdued.
But let the war symbolically represent the propagation of the Gospel by the Lord sending forth His missionaries with irresistible force, to publish salvation to mankind through the Blood of the Covenant, and the reasoning is clear and consecutive. The Saviour is announced, and deliverance promised by His Blood; the slave of sin, who is made to grind in its dark prison-house, is exhorted to turn to the stronghold, Zion's King, who has salvation, and he shall obtain the deliverance for which his soul craves; when the Lord has bent his bow, or, without the symbol, sent forth his missionaries to proclaim to a guilty world that a ransom has been found that all who are near at
hand and afar off may have reconciliation and peace through the Blood of Christ.
Or, as the Hebrew word translated when" signifies " since," " for," or " because," as well as " when," the passage might be translated thus: “ Turn ye to the stronghold, ye prisoners of hope; for I have bent Judah to me, and filled the bow with Ephraim,” &c.; or, without the symbol, the Lord has prepared and sent forth his missionaries, like arrows from the bow, to publish the glad tidings of salvation to Jew and to Gentile; all, therefore, who are oppressed by sin and guilt may turn to the Deliverer, and find rest for his soul.
There is, however, little difference in the meaning; the one indicates the time when, the other the reason why, the prisoners of hope may turn to the stronghold; the Blood whereby redemption is effected has been shed, and this has been published to the world.
The ancient and very many modern interpreters understand the prophecy spiritually. Scott says, “Some have understood it to refer to the time of the Maccabees. Others, however, interpret this passage (and he agrees with them) of the apostles and preachers of the Gospel in the primitive ages; they were prepared for their work as the Lord's bow and arrows," &c.
Jerome says, the interpretation which refers the prophecy to the Maccabees is a Jewish gloss. He understands it to be a Gospel prophecy. “The sons of the Church,” says he, “ whom the Lord raising up, these masters of opposing dogmas, the sayings of the philosophers, and the reasoning of the Gentiles, shall be destroyed."
1 “Ki” is rendered hy “for” in the subsequent part of the prophecy, in the authorized version, and so in the Septuagint, and “ quoniam” in the Latin.
2 Jerome compares the latter part of it, “and made thee as the sword of a mighty man,” with Zephaniah, ii., 12, “Ye Æthiopians, ye also shall be slain with my sword.”
Vitringa, on the first Apocalyptic seal, understands the war to be spiritual. Henry, on Zechariah, says, “ The preachers of the Gospel were the bow in Christ's hand, with which he went forth conquering and to conquer.” Expositors in Poole’s Synopsis understand it in the same manner, “Utar opera Judæ et Ephraim, id est,
stolorum · · in expugnandis Gentilibus, non quidem armis, sed gladio verbi, id est in eis convertendis."
A CROWN WAS GIVEN TO HIM.
A crown is the subject of many very remarkable prophecies. Godi
gave the crown of Israel to David and Solomon, and promised, if they and their children would take heed to their way and walk before Him in truth with all their heart, “ there should not fail” them 56
a man on the throne of Israel.” But their children who succeeded them in the kingdom, generally disobeyed the Law, and as they persisted in their disobedience, in spite of repeated threatenings and warnings, the grant of the crown was at last revoked, and the prophet Ezekiel commanded to pronounce, in the following terms, the sentence of deprivation on Zedekiah:-“ Thou profane, wicked prince, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end. Thus saith the Lord, Remove the diadem and take off the crown; this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it to him.”
Writers: on prophecy are generally agreed that this taking off the crown from Zedekiah is the public revocation of the regal dignity promised to David and his children; and that he for whom it is reserved, whose right it is, and to whom it will be given, is the Messiah.
There can be no doubt this is the true interpretation. Zede. kiah was not only the last of David's descendants, but the last king who sat on the throne of Israel, until the regal dignity was restored to that family in the Person of the Messiah. And the crown, which was removed and laid up to be given to Him whose right it is, could belong to no one but the Messiah.
The form of government established in Israel was a theocracy, the Lord being the Supreme Magistrate of the Jewish people, as well as their God. It was the peculiar characteristic of this constitution that no change could be made in any part of it without the express sanction and direction of Jehovah. Hence,
i 1 Samuel, vii. 12; 1 Kings, ii. 4; ix. 4 ; 1 Chronicles, xxviii. 7. 2 Ezekiel, xxi. 25, 27.
3 Jerome says, “ Illi cui repostum erat, et qui fuit expectatio Gentium"-It has been given to Him for whom it was laid up, and who was the Desire of the Gentiles. And so Lowth and others.