Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
as they were moved by the Holy Ghost;" this fervour of spirit, urging on the worker as by a power beyond himself to write of "the King," is one of the ways in which the sacred writers were "moved." And there is no reason for refusing to acknowledge the far-reachingness of this psalm, as setting forth beforehand, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the grandeur of our victorious Lord To no one, indeed, but Jesus, can we apply the epithets which are herein used. That a King "higher than the kings of the earth" is foretold in Scripture is certain (see 2 Samuel 7:12-16; 2 Samuel 23:2-5; Psalm 2., 72., 79., 110.). So that it is no wonder to find that such is the case in this psalm, The main difficulty in the psalm - in fact, the only serious one to believing critics - is the fact that the entire passage vers. 10-15 is based on a custom which in the psalmist's time was not only familiar to Orientals, but was even honourable in their eyes, though it would not be deemed so in ours. It would be a coveted honour among maidens to be among the well-beloved ones of an honourable king; for though the queen-consort was the principal wife, yet she was by no means the only one on whom the king bestowed his affection. Even David had six wives. He was not thought the worse of for this. The Law of God did not sanction it, but society did. Hence, though this psalm shoots far ahead to a beauty, a glory, and a majesty beyond the sons of men, yet the ground-plan of its symbolism is found in the usages of Oriental courts at their best. If it was then deemed a high honour for maidens to be among the beloved of a king, how much greater would be the honour of those who should be brought in the far-off times to place their whole selves, body, soul, and spirit, at the absolute disposal of him who would be "King of kings, and Lord of lords"! We may gather up under four heads the main features of this sublime prophetic forecast. In doing so, however, it behoves us to take the Christian expositor's standpoint, and to carry forward the dim and suggestive words here given us, to the fuller and clearer setting of New Testament unfoldings.
I. HERE IS A KING FORESEEN, UNIQUE IN HONOUR AND RENOWN. That the sacred writers were familiar with the thought of a King who should come into the world, surpassing all others, we have seen above; this is shown in the passages to which reference has already been made. But even if such passages were fewer and less clear than they are, the amazing combination of expressions in the psalm before us is such, that to none other than the Son of God can they possibly be applied with any semblance of reason. But as we think of him, every term fails in place. Let us take each expression in order. There are no fewer than twelve of them.
1. There is beauty. (Ver. 2.) A beauty beyond that of the sons of men. This points to one who is above the race. And verily the beauty of the Lord Jesus is one of his unnumbered charms. He is the "chief among ten thousand, the altogether lovely."
3. The fullest blessings descend continually upon him (ver. 2; cf. John 3:34).
4. There are the glory and majesty of royal state (ver. 3). For "with" read "even" ('Variorum Bible'). The sword to be girded on his thigh as for war (see Delitzsch) is his glory and his majestic state. With these he will go forth, conquering and to conquer.
5. His cause is that of truth, meekness, and righteousness. (Ver. 4.) No other king ever combined these in perfection, nor even at all. "Meekness is about the very last thought associated with earthly kings (but see Matthew 11:29).
7. His arrows would be sharp in the hearts of his enemies (ver. 5), and the peoples (plural, Revised Version)would fall beneath him. He should have universal sway, and not over Israel only.
8. He should be God, and yet be anointed by God. (Vers. 6, 7.) How enigmatical before fulfilment! How fully realized in our Immanuel, in him who is at once God and man, David's Son, yet David's Lord!
9. His throne should be eternal. (Ver. 6.) Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever" (cf. Hebrews 1:8, 9).
10. His sceptre should be a sceptre of righteousness. (Vers. 6, 7.) This is preeminently true; so much so that even those who acknowledge him as Lord, and who have yet been destitute of righteousness, will be rejected (Matthew 7:22, 23).
11. He would receive a higher anointing than that of others (ver. 7; Acts 4:27; Acts 10:38; Luke 4:18). 12. Associated with his coming would be fragrance, music, and joy (ver. 8, Revised Version). Surely the gladness and song that gather round this King surpass all other gladness and all other songs that earth has ever known. No widow's wail, no orphan's sigh, attend on the conquests of this King. He conquers but to save. And the joy! oh, how great! Joy among the saved (1 Peter 1:8). Joy among the saints (1 John 1:4). Joy among the angels (Luke 20:10). Joy in the heart of the Father and the Son (Luke 15:32). Joy for ever and ever (Isaiah 35:10). What a magnificent forecast, hundreds of years beforehand! Who dares to deny the supernatural with such a fact before him?
II. HERE IS THE KING'S BRIDE. (Ver. 9.) What can the psalmist mean by the bride of such a King, but the Church of his love (see Ephesians 5:23-32)? The following features, if worked out, would greatly exceed the space at our command.
1. She forsakes her Father's house, to be joined to this King, and leaves all her old associates behind her (ver. 10).
2. She is wedded to him (ver. 11, "He is thy Lord").
3. She is devoted to him (ver. 11).
4. She is decorated with finest gold (ver. 9), and is at the place of honour by his side.
5. Her attendants should come from the nations, with their offerings of devotion (ver. 12).
III. HERE IS THE KING'S OFFSPRING. (Ver. 16.) The sacrifice which the bride had made for the sake of the King shall be more than recompensed by her having children, who should gather round her, and who should become "princes in the earth" (1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10; Revelation 20:6).
IV. HERE IS FORETOLD THE KING'S UNIVERSAL AND ENDLESS PRAISE. (Ver. 17.) Though the verse seems to be addressed immediately to the bride, evidently the carrying forward of the name to generation after generation is an honour chiefly of the King, and results from the bridal union. And the praise which shall accrue will be from the peoples (Revised Version), from all the nations; and this praise will be for ever and ever (Psalm 72:17). "Christ's espousing unto himself a Church, and gathering more and more from age to age by his Word and Spirit unto it, his converting of souls, and bringing them into the fellowship of his family, and giving unto them princely minds and affections wherever they live, are large matters of growing and everlasting glory" (Dickson). Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever." - C.
I. THE PERFECTNESS OF HIS CHARACTER. Christ's excellence is moral. All that was "fair" in others was but the broken fragments of the mirror. In him we see the perfection of beauty. Others might be "fair" in some things, and not in others, but in him all that is true and beautiful and good shines forth in harmony and fulness. "He is altogether lovely." And the excellence of Christ is not only human, but Divine. The glory of God shines in him He is the perfect King because he is the perfect Man; and he is the perfect Man, because "in him dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." His perfections, therefore, not only command the homage of all hearts, but they are unchanging and unchangeable as the glory of God.
II. THE SPLENDOUR OF HIS ACHIEVEMENTS. In the ancient monuments of Egypt and Assyria we see kings represented as going forth to conquer, and their enemies falling before their arrows. Such is the picture here. But the picture is relieved from all terrors and gloom. The King who conquers here conquers because he is also a Prophet, and because his cause is the cause of right and truth. His sword is "the Word of God." His arrows are the arrows of righteousness. His victory is the victory of love. "Grace" is in his lips. "Truth and meekness" mark his progress. "The people fall under" him - fall to rise again in dignity and strength.
III. THE BLESSEDNESS OF HIS REIGN. (Vers. 6-9.)
1. The righteousness of his administration.
2. The happiness of his subjects.
3. The perpetuity of his kingdom. The kingdoms of this world have no permanence. They contain within themselves the elements of decay. Kings and kingdoms pass away.
"Sceptre and crown must tumble down, But it is otherwise with the kingdom of Christ. It is "for ever and ever." - W.F.
But it is otherwise with the kingdom of Christ. It is "for ever and ever." - W.F.
I. THE CHANGES OF LIFE. The fathers come first, then the children. There is a constant succession. We see the same on the earth. The sun and moon and stars are the same that have been from the beginning, but the scarred face of the earth indicates change. The year has its seasons. Fields white unto harvest to-day will be bare to-morrow. The leaves fade, and others come in their places. So it is in life. Go where you will, the cry is, "Your fathers, where are they?" (Zechariah 1:5). This throws great responsibility upon the living. They stand between the past and the future. From the fathers they have received much, and of them the children require much. They are the "heirs of all the ages," and they are bound to hand down, pure and entire, to those who come after, the glorious inheritance they have possessed.
II. THE COMPENSATIONS OF LIFE. When the fathers are taken, we are ready to regard it as a calamity. If one fails who stood high in Church or state, we cry in our grief like David when Abner was slain, "Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?" (2 Samuel 3:38). But God's hand is in these things. There is compensation. If the fathers go, it is that the children may take their places. The line is never broken. The order which God has fixed continues. If Moses dies, Joshua takes his place. If Elijah is carried into heaven, his mantle falls upon Elisha. If Stephen is martyred in the midst of his labours, God has a chosen vessel in preparation, to take up his work, and carry it out in nobler ways than he could have done. So it is still. Though there be breaks and interruptions and intervals when things were dark, yet the law holds good. Let us take heed. The future is the outcome of the present. We are sowing in the hearts of our children the harvests that are to be. Let us do our duty towards those who are to come in our place, and leave results to God. "0 Church of God," said Augustine, "think not thyself abandoned, because thou seest not Peter, nor seest Paul. Seest not thou through whom thou wast born; out of thine own offspring has a body of 'fathers' been raised up to thee."
III. THE DISTINCTIONS OF LIFE.
1. Their source is Divine. We say the sovereign is the source of honour. So it is in the higher things. True honour is from God only, and he gives it to those alone whom he has "made" to be worthy (John 1:12).
2. Their character is princely. When God makes princes, he makes princes in reality. He gives not only place, but power; and not only power, but the highest honours (Genesis 32:28; 2 Timothy 1:7; Revelation 1:5). What Gideon's brethren were in appearance they are in reality (Judges 8:18).
3. Their influence is world-wide. Wherever they are known, they are honoured. What was true of the twelve is true in a measure of all Christ's servants (Matthew 19:28). As Samuel Rutherford said with his last breath, "Glory dwelleth in Immanuel's land." - W.F.