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because it comes from Jews, who, by their prejudices against the Christian name, might have thought themselves interested to keep out of sight a principle so serviceable to the Christian scheme of interpretation,-but it is their remark, and their principle, that the appellation of “the King,” in the Book of Psalms, is an appropriate title of the Messiah; insomuch that, wherever it occurs, except the context directs it to some special meaning, you are to think of no earthly king, but of the King Messiah. By the admission, therefore, of these Jewish commentators, the Messiah is the immediate subject of this psalm.
My anxiety to settle the question of the immediate subject of this psalm, was for the sake of the greater evidence and perspicuity of the exposition of the whole, verse by verse, which I am now about to deliver: for without a right comprehension of the general subject, it will be impossible that the parts should be understood. And yet the psalm is, perhaps, one of the most important to be well understood in all its parts, of any in the whole collection. Farther, to settle this point of the general subject of the psalm, I must observe, and desire you to bear it in remembrance, that in the prophecies of the Old Testament, which set forth the union between the Redeemer and his church, under the figure of the state of wedlock, we read of two celebrations of that mystical wedding, at very different and distant seasons; or, to be more distinct and particular, we read of a marriagema separation, on account of the woman's incontinence, that is, on account of her idolatry—and, in the end, of a remarriage with the woman reclaimed and pardoned. The original marriage was contracted with the Hebrew church, by the institution of the Mosaic covenant, at the time of the exodus, as we are taught expressly by the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel. The separation was the dispersion of the Jewish nation by the Romans, when they were reduced to that miserable state in which to this day they remain,-their city laid in ruins, their temple demolished and burned,
and the forms of the Mosaic worship abolished. Then it was that the sceptre of ecclesiastical sway (for that is the sceptre meant in Jacob's famous prophecy) departed from Judah. The Jews were no longer the depositaries of the laws and oracles of God; they were no longer to take the lead in matters of religion and worship; and the government even of the Christian church of Jerusalem, remained but for a very short time after this in the hands of a bishop of the circumcision ;-so strictly was the prophecy fulfilled of the departure of the ecclesiastical sceptre from Judah, the only remnant then visibly extant in the world of the Jewish nation. It is the same event which is predicted in many other prophecies, as the expulsion of the incontinent wife from the husband's house. Her expulsion, however, was to be but temporary, though of long duration: it was a separation, as we should say in modern language, from bed and a board,—not an absolute divorce, such as, by the principles of the Mosaic law (which in this point, however, was not perfectly consistent with the original divine law of marriage), set the woman at liberty to unite herself to another man, and, in that event, prohibited her return to her first husband. On the contrary, the same prophecies that threatened the expulsion maintain the continuance of the husband's property in the separated woman, and promise a reconciliation and final reinstatement of her in her husband's favour. “Where is this bill of your mother's divorcement?” saith the prophet Isaiah. The question implies a denial that any such instrument existed. And in a subsequent part of his prophecies, he expressly announces the reconciliation: “Blush not,” saith the Redeemer to the pardoned wife, “for thou shalt not be brought to reproach; for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and the reproach of thy deserted state thou shalt no more remember. For thy Maker is thy husband ; Jehovah of Hosts is his name, and he who claims thee is the Holy One of Israel. As a woman forsaken and deeply afflicted, Jehovah hath recalled thee; and as a wife wedded in youth, but afterward rejected, saith thy God. For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I receive thee again.” The reconciliation is to be made publicly, by a repetition of the nuptial ceremonies. So we learn from the latter part of the Apocalypse. After Christ's final victory over the apostate faction, proclamation is made by a voice issuing from the throne, “The marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready;" that is, hath prepared herself, by penitence and reformation, to be reunited to him. And one of the seven angels calls to St. John, “ Come hither, and I will show thee the Lamb's wife." Then he shows bim "the holy Jerusalem,” that is, the church of the converted Jews. These nuptials, therefore, of the Lamb are not, as some have imagined, a marriage with a second wife, a Gentile church, taken into the place of the Jewish, irrevocably discarded: no such idea of an absolute divorce is to be found in prophecy. But it is a public reconciliation with the original wife, the Hebrew church, become the mother church of Christendom, notified by the ceremony of a remarriage; for to no other than the reconciled Hebrew church belongs in prophecy the august character of the Queen Consort. The season of this renewed marriage is the second advent, when the new covenant will be established with the natural Israel; and it is this remarriage which is the proper subject of this psalm.
And this again I might have concluded, according to the principles of the Jewish expositors, from my text which, by the single word “the King," directs the application of this psalm to Christ in his kingly character. Christ, indeed, already exercises his regal office in his care and government of his church: but the second advent is the season when his glory and majesty will be openly manifested to the whole world, and the Jews-visibly reinstated in his favour. The marriage, therefore, which is the peculiar subject of this psalm, must be that reunion of the Saviour with the Jewish church, which is to take place at that season.
Never losing sight of this, as his proper subject, the divine poet takes, however, an ample range: for he opens with our Lord's first appearance in the flesh, when, by the promulgation of the gospel, the guests were summoned to the wedding-supper; and running rapidly, but in order, through all the different periods of Christianity, from its first beginning to its consummation in this spiritual wedding, he makes the general outline of its divine history the groundwork of this highly mystic and important song; to the exposition of which, without farther preface, I shall now proceed.
The psalm takes its beginning in a plain, unaffected manner, with a verse briefly declarative of the importance of the subject, the author's extraordinary knowledge of it, and the manner in which it will be treated :
“My heart is inditing a good matter :" or rather,
“My heart labours with a goodly theme :" for the word “inditing" answers but poorly, as our translators themselves appear from their margin to have been well aware, to the emphasis of the original, which expresses, that the mind of the prophet was excited and heated, boiling over, as it were, with his subject, and eager to give utterance to its great conceptions. “A good matter,” or a goodly theme,” denotes a subject of the highest interest and importance:
“My heart labours with a goodly theme:
I address my performance to the King;" that is, as hath been abundantly explained, to the great King Messiah.
'My tongue is the pen of a ready-writer;" that is, of a well-instructed writer,-a writer prepared and ready, by a perfect knowledge of the subject he un dertakes to treat.
But with what sense and meaning is it, that the Psalmist compares his “ tongue" to the “pen" of such a writer ? It is to intimate, as I apprehend, that what he is about to deliver is no written composition, but an extemporaneous effusion, without any premeditation of his own, upon the immediate impulse and suggestion of the Holy Spirit: that what will fall, however, in that manner from his "tongue,” for the coherence and importance of the matter, for the correct propriety of the expression, and for the orderly arrangement of the parts, will in no degree fall short of the most laboured production of the" pen” of any writer, the best prepared by previous study of his subject; inasmuch as the Spirit of God inspires his thoughts, and prompts his utterance.
After this brief preface, declaring that his subject is Messiah, chiefly in his kingly character,—that he cannot contain the thoughts which are rising in his mind, -that he speaks not from himself, or from previous study, but from inspiration at the moment, -he plunges at once into the subject he had propounded, addressing the King Messiah, as if he were actually standing in the royal presence. And in this same strain, indeed, the whole song proceeds; as referring to a scene present to the prophet's eye, or to things which he saw doing.
This scene consists of three principle parts, relating to three grand divisions of the whole interval of time, from our Lord's first appearance in the flesh, to the final triumph, of the church, upon his second advent. And the psalm may be divided into as many sections, in which the events of these periods are described in their proper order.
The first section, consisting only of the second verse, describes our Lord on earth, in the days of his bumiliation. The five following verses make the second section, and describe the successful propagation of the gospel, and our Lord's victory over all his enemies. This comprehends