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good, and hatred for my love” (Ps. cix. 4. 5). The didactic Psalm xxxvii. opens with "Fret not thyself (get not angry) because of evil doers.” Now when the same man calls (Ps. vii. 35 ) upon God as Judge, and utters in Psalm cix. imprecations, it is but fair to refer his thirst for the punishment of sin to purer motives than personal vindictive passion. We are indeed for the most part enabled to judge of the source from which his prayers for punishment flow. There uniformly exist motives similar to those so sublimely expressed in Psalm lxiv. 10. 11, “And all men shall fear and shall declare, It is the Lord's work; and they shall wisely mark his doing. The righteous shall be glad in the Lord and shall trust in him: and all the upright in heart shall glory."
The Psalmists frequently state sentiments like the following as the motives of their prayers for the punishment of their enemies : that the holiness of God and his righteous government of the world should be acknowledged, that the faith of the pious should be strengthened, that they should praise God, that the haughtiness of the ungodly should be brought within bounds, that they should know that God is the righteous judge of the world, and that the fulfilment of His glorious promises should not fail.1 Aye, they even boast of their hatred against their enemies, because “THEY HATE GOD."2 Offence may be taken at their straightway putting down their own enemies as those of God. But what evidence have we that they do it straightway? Returning to David, who is prepared to deny the impiousness of the two chief sections of his persecutors ? A king passionate to madness, breathing slaughter against his son-in-law to whom he was greatly indebted; courtiers thirsting for blood, like a Doeg, who on no other ground than that of gaining the favour of his sovereign could kill eighty helpless priests, or an Ahithophel, beguiling Absalom to revolt against his father and to stain the honour of royalty;5— in sight of wickedness so great, David may well advocate the claims of God. Confining ourselves to the general meaning of the term “enemies,” the description in the Psalms may often appear overdrawn. We should realise the fact, that in certainly most instances reference is made to vile traitors of a sanguinary disposition, to rebels and assassins; and that in some places David speaks as king, who as a ruler is obliged to wield the sword which God has entrusted to his keeping. This applies to Psalm lviii. which is distinguished for its many imprecations, and to all the psalms which refer to Absalom, e.g. Ps. lxiii. We do not even in the New Testament meet with absolute forgiving love either in God or his servants. The wrath of God is said to abide on those who believe not on His Son :4 that "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God;" that “God is a consuming fire." 5 In terms not less offensive than those in the Psalms, Christ announces judgment to the cursed, 6 and foretells the judgment of God to those who had rejected the Son.? Was it not Peter who, in the name of God, announced death to Ananias and Sapphira, and did not the event show, that his speech was far from being idle passion? Did he not say to Simon the sorcerer in holy indignation, “Thy money perish with thee," yet not without adding, “Repent therefore of this thy wickedness" ?8 Did not Paul strike Elymas the sorcerer with blindness and call him a child of the devil ? Did he not solemnly “deliver unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh”' the wicked Corinthian who had married his step-mother, and say, “Alexander the copper-smith did me much evil : the Lord reward him according to his works" ?10 As a proof
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that these were not the expressions of the Apostle's personal passion, we refer to his affectionate advocacy in behalf of the Corinthian evil-doer, after he had heard of his improvement, and to his saying concerning the very persons who had deserted him during his defence at the tribunal, immediately after the threatening statement about Alexander, “May it not be laid to their charge."9 The Lord said to his two disciples, who (it seems not from personal passion but from pure love to their Master) desired fire to descend from heaven and to consume the Samaritans “as Elias did.” “Know ye not what manner of spirit ye are of?”3 They said it from love to Christ: but are vindictive feelings for the sake of others impossible ? It does not follow that their anger was pure, because it arose in behalf of another. The "ye" occurs in the original in a position which emphasises and places it in antithesis to “Elias.” It would then appear that our Lord declared the inferiority of the legal position of the Old Testament, not because the desire of retribution ought to be excluded from the religion of reconciliation, but because it ought not to predominate in it. The question may finally arise, Are we then compelled to assume that the unhallowed flame of personal passion did in no case blend with the holy fire of the Psalmists? We cannot even say this of the Apostles. 4 Whether the anger of impassioned speech be such “which worketh not the righteousness of God,"5 or such as was felt by Christ 6 himself, may generally be gathered from its nature, when delight transpires at the thought of being permitted to be the instrument of Divine retribution, when specific kinds of retribution are prayed for with evident satisfaction, or when the thought of retribution is regarded with complacency by the speaker, etc. Several expressions in Ps. cix. and lix. bear the stamp of passion: so do Ps. cxlix. 7.8; cxxxvii. 8. 9; lviii. 11;- xli. 11, may have flowed from such a disposition. Different individuals will hold different views on other psalms. The vindictive psalms respecting the heathen, as e.g. Ps. lxxix. 6, “Pour out Thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known Thee; and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon Thy name," suggest particular considerations. The victory of the heathen over Israel threatened indeed the destruction of true religion. Read the impassioned description of the Chaldean conquest of the country (Ps. lxxiv.): the heathen triumphantly asked, “Where is now their God?”? while on the other hand at the victories of Israel the sanctuary at Jerusalem was honoured with gifts of foreign nations, the power of the God of Israel acknowledged, and Messianic hopes awakened.8 Besides all this it should be observed that hatred against a nation as a whole excludes not kindly sympathy towards individuals, as shown by the more noble custom of war at all times, in even religious wars, such as the Crusades. An instance of this kind occurs in 2 Kings vi. 22. From this point of view even Lessing once advocated the so-called vindictive Psalms.*
(1) 2 Cor. ii. (2) 2 Tim. iv. 16. (3) Luke ix. 55. (4) Acts xv. 29; xxiii. 3; Phil. iii. 2; Gal. v. 2. (5) Jas, i. 20. (6) Mark iii. 5. (7) Ps. lxxix. 10. (8) Com. ad. Ps. lxxvi. lxxxvii.
* During Lessing's residence at Hamburg, a violent attack was made upon the Rev. Mr. Goetge, who resisted a proposition to cancel from the fast-day prayer the words, “ Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name.” Lessing, who from a predilection for the stage had forsaken the pulpit, composed just then a sermon,-a sermon! aye, and on the very text, Psalm lxxix. 6, after the manner of Sterne, entitled, Sermon from two texts, Psalm Ixxix. 6, “Pour out," etc. and Matt. xxii. 39, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself," by Yorick, translated from the English. He had only a few copies printed, his object being to show to the conceited modernisers that there were others more clever than they, and sent one copy to their leader, the Rev. Alberti. Nicolai says that Alberti took fright, declaring that a man like Lessing was not to be trifled with, and that he was afraid of the effect of the sermon on the public. Lessing suppressed the pamphlet at his instance. The preface only has been preserved; but Lessing's meaning is clear. This was the story: “Colonel Shandy and his faithful Trim went 4.—The Future. Christianity neither refers to "the beyond” the grave, nor to continuation after death. Christian hope, i.e. faith applied to the future, has for its object the completion of the kingdom of God, of which it may be said with equal truth that it has come and has not yet come. Its completion will be threefold. At its completion all who are ordained to it shall be received into it, so that the body of Christ shall be complete: the dominion of God in the heart of individuals shall be complete, and the power of sin cancelled: the outward shall correspond to the inward, for the outward should be the display or manifestation of the inward, which would imply the cessation of discord and evil. The Messianic psalms contemplate this latter object, and. as the kingdom of God cannot be said to have absolutely come before the end of time, so cannot those prophecies be said to have met their proper fulfilment before then. The departing christian therefore is not to expect perfect bliss immediately after death, but in the future at the end of the present dispensation. In so far, however, as Christ has already effected his communion with God this side the grave, there is in store for him, if not complete, at all events some kind of bliss immediately after death. A certain degree of bliss after death must therefore be assumed in the case of the Old Testament saints, who enjoyed communion with God here below, though certainly less complete than theirs whose communion with God was effected by Christ. On that account the ancient church used to represent the condition of the Old Testament saints beyond the grave as a twilight, limbus patrum, in which they were waiting for Christ, as it is said of Abraham, that he rejoiced to see the day of Christ. Their fear of death, as expressed in several psalms, but most strongly in Psalm lxxxviii. ought therefore not to startle us. A pious Israelite could realise full joy only in view of that ultimate future, when the great festival of joy is to take place on Mount Zion, and all the dead are to march forth from their silent chamber. The account which we possess of Enoch? shows at how early a period the opinion prevailed that death could not interrupt that communion with God which the godly enjoyed with Him on earth. Our Lord's argument for immortality, in reply to the tempting question of the Sadducees, which he cited from the Pentateuch,alludes profoundly to the connection subsisting between earthly communion with God and future blessedness (Cf. Heb. xi. 16). If the Eternal (such is our Saviour's meaning) has entered into so close a communion with man, that he calls himself his God, how can such a relation be only of a temporal and transitory nature ? We ask further, Why should man, enjoying intimate communion with God,
out for a walk. They found on the road a starved man in a ragged French uniform, sustaining himself on a crutch, because he had one foot maimed. With his eye silently bent to the ground, he took off his hat: but his melancholic look spoke for him. The colonel gave him several shillings without counting them. Trim pulled a penny from his pocket, and presenting it said, 'French dog.' The colonel kept silence for some seconds and then said, turning to Trim, “Trim, he is a man and not a dog.' The French invalid had followed them. In answer to the colonel's speech Trim gave him another penny and again said, 'French dog.' 'And Trim, he is a soldier.' Trim stared, gave another penny and said, French dog.' 'And Trim, he has fought for his country and been severely wounded.' Trim pressed his hand, giving another penny and said, 'French dog.' 'And Trim, this soldier is a good and unhappy husband, has a wife and four uneducated children.' Trim, with a tear in his eye, gave all he had left in his pocket and said, though in a low voice, French dog.' On reaching home he conferred on this topic with Yorick. Yorick said, "It is evident Trim hates the whole nation which is hostile to his country, but he knows how to love each individual of it when he is worthy of his love.' This gave occasion to Yorick's preaching the following sermon."
not be sensible of the eternity of his relation to Him? Since Christ refers to “eternal life” as beginning on earth, and attaining to perfection beyond the grave, may not the Old Testament saints, at times of their most intimate communion with God, have equally possessed the presentiment, nay, the certainty of its eternity? Is it likely that the man who, while the subject of continuous tribulation and intense agony of soul, could exclaim, “This I know, God is mine!”1 (see also Psalm lxxii. 25. 26.) should believe that all would be over with death? If a Psalmist derives consolation from “dwelling in the house of the Lord for ever,” and says of the pious that “ like a green olive tree they abide in the house of God, and trust in the mercy of God, for ever and ever,", and if, as is shown in the commentary on the respective passages, the abiding in the house of God designates “indissolubility of communion with God, is it not clear that the pledge of the Spirit wrought a confidence in the mind of the Psalmists extending beyond the grave? Taking such prophetic moments for granted, may we not equally assume, that sentiments embodying in a general way thoughts like this, “Continue upright, for the end of that man is peace, but the transgressors shall be destroyed altogether," and similar ones expressing God's unfailing judgment of the impious, gave rise to presentiments extending beyond the grave? The expressions of such hopes are, however, met with; their somewhat scanty occurrence may be sufficiently explained on the assumption, that the dawning of such hopes was linked to the holiest moments of their spiritual life. We may quote Psalm xlviii. 15, “Yea, this God is our God for ever and ever, he will guide us beyond death' (Psalm 1xviii. 21 is held in more general terms). Still more explicit are Psalms xlix. 16; xvi. 8—11; xvii. 14. 15; lxxiii. 23. 24. The strong distinction which these passages draw between the worldly-minded who have their consolation in this world, and the children of God, renders any other interpretation inadmissible. It is truly remarkable that just these Psalms, more than any others, express the utmost sense of oneness with and happiness in God.
5.—The Messiah. The prophets of the Old Testament have predicted a time, when Israel covered with the spirit of grace and of supplications should become a righteous people and inherit the land for ever, 4 when the old covenant to the observance of which they had to be coerced should cease, and the law be written in their hearts, 5 when all nations of the earth should flow to Zion, call upon the name of the Lord, and serve Him with one consent.6 David, the servant of God, should be raised, in the person of an offspring of David, who in the capacity of the good shepherd should feed the people of God; a covenant of peace should be made with universal nature, which ceasing to be hurtful to man, should thenceforth minister to his comfort.? “It would be inexplicable," says a modern commentator, 8 "were the Psalms to contain no reference to an idea of such paramount importance to the Jewish religion as that of the Messiah.” Since the Psalms as lyrical poems express those religious sentiments which the faith of the people, taught by the law and the prophets, was calculated to inspire, it would indeed be strange, if the prophetic article of faith of the Messiah were absent from their prayers. The more so, as we know from David's last song (which is preserved in 2 Sam. xxiii.), that Messianic hopes animated his soul and entered into his poems. We insert
that passage, because important to our estimate and understanding of the Messianic prophecies of David * :
“David the son of Jesse, said,
“He make it to grow ?
“And they shall be utterly burned with fire on the spot.” We gather in the first place from this passage that David felt himself conscious of being Divinely inspired, especially when speaking of the Messiah. Our Lord confirms this (Matt. xxii. 43), with reference to Psalm cx. The Psalmists are also elsewhere conscious of Divine influence. We gather, again, that the fundamental prophecy in 2 Sam. vii. 12-16, became in his prophetic moments more distinctly developed to him. On his first hearing it, he was greatly affected by the thought of the perpetuity of regal dignity among his offspring. “Who am I, O Lord God ? and. what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto ?” he exclaims with touching humility, “and this was yet a small thing in Thy sight, O Lord God: but Thou hast spoken also of Thy servant's house for a great while to come, and is this the manner of man, O Lord God ?”+ No other and no loftier thought than that of a perpetual progeny on the throne of his kingdom did probably then enter his mind : in Psalm lxxxix. 30. 37, the promise is similarly understood, and in Psalm xviii. 50, he praises God, “who showeth mercy to David His anointed, and to his seed for evermore.” Those, however, who consult history, and believe in a connexion of revelation between the Old and New Testaments, as well as in the gift of prophecy, are sensible that in those words the Spirit of God referred to Him in whom the promise became fulfilled.
(1) Psalm xlix. 5; xii. 6. (2) Luke i. 32. 33.
* Luther's Translation, esp. of v. 3. misleads : so do the Vulg. Syr. and Lxx. The Chaldee Paraphrase inserts the Messiah, but forcibly. We agree in the main with Tremellius, de Wette, F. of Meyer, cf. also the Engl. version. On translating with Ewald (The Pract. Books of the Old Testament, vol. i. p. 100), “When one is ruling justly over men, when one is ruling in the fear of God, it is as when it grows light of a morning," the possibility of a Messianic allusion is certainly avoided, but v. 5 shows also this rendering to be equally inadmissible.
+ According to 1 Chron. xvii. 17, “And hast regarded me according to the estate of a man of high degree.”