James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, the servant of the LORD, who spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul: And he said, I will love thee, O LORD, my strength.Psalms 18:1-24:10
A song of victory. It opens with ejaculatory expressions of triumph for deliverance. All nature is described as convulsed when the Almighty presses to the rescue. The next division is meditation on the principles involved, the whole closing with a further outburst of triumph and confidence. 2 Samuel 22 is a copy of this ode saying a few variations, and the student is referred to our treatment of it at that place.
God’s revelation in the world and in the Word. We have a contrast between these two in this psalm. In verses one to six there is the general revelation of the heavens, “wordless but extending their sphere over the whole earth,” which then specializes to the sun as the chief figure of it all. But in Psalm 19:7-14, the law is celebrated, whose function is to warn again sin, and by conformity to which only can our thought and conduct become acceptable to God.
Observe the literary beauty as well as the spiritual teaching in the description of the law six names, six epithets and six effects. The clearer our apprehension of the law, so the psalm teaches, the clearer our view of sin, and the more evident that grace only can cleanse and keep us from it.
These psalms are coupled in The Modern Reader’s Bible, and called “An Antiphonal War Anthem.” The first gives the prayers of the king and the people before the battle, and the second the thanksgiving after the victory.
As to the first, we hear the people (Psalm 20:1-5), the king (Psalm 20:6), and then the people to the end. As to the second, the king is first (Psalm 21:1-7), and then the people to the end. While this may be the historical setting of these psalms, yet we are at liberty to apply their utterances in the spiritual scene to the experiences of believers in the Christian Church.
Psalms 21 The Psalm of the Cross. Is this one of the great Messianic psalms? Christ uttered the first verse on the cross (Matthew 27:46), and there is reason to think the words of the last were also heard. “He hath done it” (RV), in the Hebrew, corresponds closely to “It is finished” (John 19:30). If this were so, may we suppose that the whole psalm was the language of the divine sufferer as He bare our sins on the cross?
There are three strophes, or great poetical divisions, each associated with the phrase, “Far from me.” The first covers verses 1-10, the second verses 11-18, the third verses 19-31. In the first, we have a cry of distress (v. 1-2), an expression of confidence (v. 3-5), a description of the enemies (v. 6-8), and a second expression of confidence (v. 9-10). In the second, we have two descriptions, the surrounding enemies (v. 11-13), and the sufferer’s experiences (v. 14-18). In the third the whole tone is changed to a note of victory (v. 19-21), a testimony of praise (v. 22-26), and a prophecy of resurrection glory (v. 27-31).
The psalm gives a graphic picture of death by crucifixion with circumstances precisely fulfilled at Calvary. As that form of death penalty was Roman rather than Jewish, we agree with the Scofield Reference Bible that the “proof of inspiration is irresistible.’ At verse 22 the psalm breaks from crucifixion to resurrection (compare John 20:17).
The Shepherd Psalm is such a favorite with all as to make an attempted exposition almost an offence. Did David compose it as a youth tending his father’s sheep? If not, it must have been when occupied in reminiscences of those early days.
Note the possessive, “my shepherd,” and the future, “shall not want.” Because the Lord is my Shepherd I am: feeding on the Word (“pastures”) · fellowshipping with the Spirit (“waters”) · being renewed (“restoreth”) · surrendered in will (“leadeth”) · trusting the promises (“fear no evil”) · enjoying security (“a table”) · doing service (“runneth over”) · possessing hope (“forever.”)
The Ascension Psalm. The ScofieId Bible speaks of Psalms 22, 23, 24, as a trilogy. In the first, the good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep (John 10:11), in the second, the great Shepherd “brought again from the dead through the blood of the everlasting covenant,” tenderly cares for His sheep (Hebrews 13:20), and in the last, the chief Shepherd appears as king of glory to own and reward the sheep (1 Peter 5:4).
From this point of view the order is:
1. the declaration of title, “The earth is the Lord’s” (Psalm 24:1-2) 2. the challenge (Psalm 24:3-6), a question of worthiness, and no one is worthy but the Lamb (compare Daniel 7:13-14; Revelation 5:3-10) 3. the king takes the throne (Psalm 24:7-10), (compare Matthew 25:31)
1. Where have we met earlier with the contents of Psalms 18?
2. What theme would you assign to Psalms 19?
3. Give the names, epithets and effects of the law.
4. What is the historical setting of Psalms 20, 21?
5. How does John 19:30 suggest the last verse of Psalms 22?
6. Of what is this psalm a picture?
7. What proof of inspiration does it contain?
8. By what name has Psalms 24 been called?
9. How may the last three psalms be classified?
10. Amplify this last idea.
11. From this point of view, what is the order of Psalms 24?
12. What may have been the historical origin of the psalm last named?