« ZurückWeiter »
the whole period from our Lord's ascension to the time not yet arrived of the fulfilling of the Gentiles. The sequel of the psalm, from the end of the seventh verse, exhibits the remarriage, -that is, the restoration of the converted Jews to the religious prerogative of their nation.
The second verse, describing our Lord in the days of his humiliation, may seem perhaps to relate merely to his person, and the manner of his address.
“Thou art fairer than the children of men ;" rather,
“ Thou art adorned with beauty beyond the sons of
Grace is ponred upon thy lips ;
Therefore God hath blessed thee for ever." We have no account in the gospels of our Saviour's person. Some writers of an early age (but none so early as to have seen him) speak of it as wanting dignity, and of his physiognomy as unpleasing. It would be difficult, I believe, to find any better foundation for this strange notion, than an injudicious interpretation of certain prophecies, in a literal meaning, which represent the humiliation which the Son of God was to undergo, by clothing his divinity with flesh, in images taken from personal deformity. But, from what is recorded in the gospels, of the ease with which our Saviour mixed in what in the modern style we should call good company,—of the respectful attention shown to him, beyond any thing his reputed birth or fortune might demand, -and the manner in which his discourses, either of severe reproof or gentle admonition, were received, we may reasonably conclude, that he had a dignity of exterior appearance, remarkably corresponding with that authority of speech, which, upon some occasions, impressed even his enemies with awe, and with that dignified mildness which seems to have been his more natural and usual tone, and drew the applause and admiration of all who heard him. “Never man spake like this man,
was the confession of his enemies; and,
upon his first appearance in the synagogue at Nazareth, when he had finished his exposition of a certain text of Isaiah, which he applied to himself, “ All bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth.” Thus, without knowing it, the congregation attested the completion of this prophecy of the Psalmist, in one branch of it,-in the" grace” which literally, it seems, was “poured upon his lips.” But certainly it must bave been something externally striking,— something answering to the text of the Psalmist in the former branch, “ Adorned with beauty beyond the sons of men,” which upon the same occasion, before his discourse began ;-it must have been something, I say, prepossessing in his features, and something of dignity in person, which, while he was yet silent, “ fastened the eyes of all that were in the synagogue upon him,”—that is, upon the village carpenter's reputed son ; for in no higher character he yet was known. We may conclude, therefore, that this prophetic text had a completion, in the literal and superficial sense of the words, in both its branches,-in the beauty of our Saviour's person, no less than in the graciousness of his speech.
External feature, however, is generally the impression of the mind upon the body, and words are but the echo of the thoughts; and, in prophecy, more is usually meant than meets the ear, in the first sound and most obvious sense of the terms employed. Beauty and grace of speech are certainly used in this text as figures of much higher qualities, which were conspicuous in our Lord, and in him alone of all the sons of men. That image of God in which Adam was created, in our Lord appeared perfect and entire,- in the unspotted innocency of his life, the sanctity of his manners, and his perfect obedience to the law of God, --in the vast powers of his mind, intellectual and moral; itellectual, in his comprehension of all knowledge; moral, in his power of resisting all the allurements of vice, and of encountering all the difficulties of virtue and religion, despising hardship and shame, enduring pain and death. This was the beauty with which he was adorned beyond the sons of men. In him, the beauty of the divine image was refulgent in its original perfection; in all the sons of Adam, obscured and marred, in a degree to be scarce discernible,—the will depraved, the imagination debauched, the reason weak, the passions rampant ! This deformity is not externally visible, nor the spiritual beauty which is its opposite: but, could the eye be turned upon the internal man, we should see the hideous shape of a will at enmity with God; a heart disregarding his law, insensible of his goodness, fearless of his wrath, swelling with the passions of ambition, avarice, vainglory, lust. Yet this is the picture of the unregenerated man, by the depravity consequent upon the fall, born in iniquity and conceived in sin. Christ, on the contrary, , by the mysterious manner of his conception, was born without spot of sin; he grew up and lived full of grace and truth, perfectly sanctified in flesh and spirit. With this beauty he was "adorned beyond the sons of men."
Again, the gracefulness of his speech is put figuratively for the perfection, sublimity, excellence, and sweetness of the doctrine he delivered;-a doctrine, in truth, intrinsically perfect; sublime, as being far above the discovery of human wisdom; excellent, by its salutary effects and operation upon men, raising their minds to the knowledge of the true God,-to a knowledge of his nature, as far as a nature so distinct from matter, so remote from sense, so transcending reason, can be made intelligible to man, united to matter, perceiving by sense what immediately surrounds him, but contemplating at a distance only the objects of pure intellect;-a doctrine sweeter to the regenerate soul than honey and the honeycomb to the palate, by the disclosure of the great scheme of redemption in all its branches--the incarnation of the Son of man, the atonement for sin by his death, the efficacy of his intercession, the constant supply of succour from the Holy Spirit. This doctrine, cherishing the contrite, consoling the afflicted, banishing despair, raising the fallen, justifying sinners, giving life to the dead,—in a word, the gladtidings of salvation,—this is the" grace” which is poured over the “lips" of the Son of God.
It is to be observed, that the happiness and glory to which the human nature is advanced in the person of Jesus, the man united to the Godhead, and now seated with the Father on his throne, is always represented in holy writ as the reward of that man's obedience. In conformity with this notion, the Psalmist says, “ Therefore,”—for this reason, in reward of the holiness perfected in thy own life, and thy gracious instruction of sinners in the ways of righteousness,—“God hath blessed thee for ever;" hath raised thee from the dead, and advanced thee to endless bliss and glory.
Thus the Psalmist closes his brief description of our Lord on earth, in the days of his humiliation, with the mention equally brief, but equally comprehensive, of the exaltation in which it terminated.
He proceeds to the second great period in the divine history of Christianity, the successful propagation of the gospel, and our Lord's final victory over all his adversaries,—a work gradually accomplished, and occupying the whole interval of time from his ascension, to the epoch, not yet arrived, of the fulness of the Gentiles coming in.
From the commendation of the comeliness of the king's person, and the graciousness of his speech, the Psalmist, in the same figurative style, passes to the topic of his prowess as a warrior, under which character our Lord is perpetually described in the prophecies. The enemies he had to engage are the wicked passions of men, the devil in his wiles and machinations, and the persecuting powers of the world. The warfare is continued through the whole of the period I have mentioned, commencing upon our Lord's ascension, at which time he is represented, in the Revelation, as going forth upon a “white horse, with a
crown upon his head, and a bow in his hand, conquering and to conquer.” The Psalmist, in imagery almost the same, accosts him as a warlike prince preparing to take the field, describes his weapons, and the magnificence of his armour, and promises him victory and universal dominion. 3. “Gird thy sword upon thy thigh,
most mighty! with thy glory and thy majesty." This verse, I fear, must be but ill understood by the English reader. The words “O most mighty!” very weakly render the original, which is a single word, one of the titles of Christ, in its literal sense expressive of might and valour. But the great difficulty which, in my apprehension, must perplex the English reader, lies in the exhortation to gird on glory and majesty together with the sword. The things have no obvious connexion; and how are majesty and glory, in any sense which the words may bear in our language, to be girt on upon the person? The truth is, that, in the Hebrew language, these words have a great variety and latitude of meaning; and either these very words, or their synonymes, are used in other places for splendid dress, and for robes of state ; and being things to be girt on, they must here denote some part of the warrior's dress. They signify such sort of armour, of costly materials and exquisite workmanship, as was worn by the greatest generals, and by kings when they led their armies in person; and was contrived for ornament as well as safety. The whole verse might be intelligibly and yet faithfully rendered in these words:
“Warrior! gird thy sword upon thy thigh ;
Buckle on thy refulgent, dazzling armour." The Psalmist goes on: 4 “Take aim, be prosperous, pursue,
In the cause of truth, humility, and righteousness;" that is, take aim with thy bow and arrow at the enemy; be prosperous, or successful in the aim taken ; ride on in