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Christ identifying Himself with the sufferings of Israel, and the ground of all God's dealings with Israel, whether in past deliverances from Egypt or in the last great deliverance that will introduce the millennial reign of Christ.
In this psalm the circumstances in David's life - his sufferings and his victories - are used to present Christ and the deliverances wrought for Israel through His sufferings and victories.
(vv. 1-3) The psalm opens by presenting Christ in the circumstances of the godly remnant in Israel. He is seen as the One who is devoted to God - “I will love thee, O Lord;” dependent upon God - “In whom I will trust;” and calling upon the Lord when surrounded with enemies - “I will call upon the Lord.”
(vv. 4-6) The trial deepens for, in verses 4 to 6, Christ is seen compassed by the sorrows of death, surrounded by the floods of the ungodly, with the grave and the snares of death before Him. From the midst of His distress He calls upon God and is heard. This introduces the great theme of the psalm. All deliverance for Israel turns upon Christ having entered into their sorrows, and in this place calling upon the Lord. Deliverance for others depends upon a perfect One having taken up their cause, and calling upon God. His deliverance, and the deliverance of those identified with Him, is in answer to His call. The psalm does not present the atoning sufferings of Christ, but His sufferings from the hands of men even to death. These are sufferings that the people of God have to meet, and into these sufferings Christ enters in perfection and voices in perfection the cry of God's people and is heard.
It is true that the atoning sufferings of Christ are absolutely necessary for the blessing of men. Nevertheless, in the ways of God in government on earth, He delivers and blesses with earthly deliverance on the ground of His delight in the godly. We see this principle illustrated in the history of Sodom. Abraham asks God to spare Sodom from temporal destruction if ten righteous men could be found in the city; and God was prepared to do so.
(vv. 7-15) In these verses we are taken back to the deliverance that God wrought at the Red Sea to learn the first great result of Christ having entered into the sufferings of God's people. The judgment upon Pharaoh and his host is described with the use of magnificent figures drawn from the convulsions of nature - earthquakes, fire, wind, thick clouds, hail and lightning.
(vv. 16-19) Into these sorrows Christ had been. Hence the spirit of God passes from Israel's deliverance at the Red Sea to Christ passing through death when surrounded by the floods of ungodly men. God sent from above, and Christ can say, “he took me;” “he drew me out of many waters;” “he delivered me from my strong enemy;” and “the Lord was my stay.”
(vv. 20-24) These verses present the ground on which Christ is heard in the day of His distress, and delivered from all His enemies. It is in answer to His perfect obedience to the law. Thus there passes before us the path of perfect obedience that He trod upon earth. The answer will be seen in His exaltation and triumph in His millennial reign. Thus Christ can say, “The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness: according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me.” Christ alone answered in an absolute way to the righteous requirements of God. He only could say absolutely, “I have kept the ways of the Lord”; “I did not put away his statutes from me”; “I was also upright before him.”
(vv. 25-26) The principles of God's earthly government are clearly set forth in verses 25 and 26. In the government of God we reap what we sow. We find mercy if we show mercy; and will be righteously rewarded if we act righteously. This shows that the blessings of the psalm are not the answer to atonement, but the reward of piety.
(vv. 27-28) As the result of Christ's identification with His suffering people there will be, in the righteous government of God, deliverance for “the afflicted people,” and judgment for the proud. Moreover, the godly will be enlightened, and enabled to overcome every obstacle.
“I kept myself from mine iniquity,” verse 23, presents a difficulty in applying this part of the psalm personally to Christ. It is evident that the Lord could not speak of “mine iniquity” as referring to indwelling sin. It has been suggested that the Lord could use such language in reference to His special temptations that lay before Him in the path He had to tread (JND). Others have suggested different translations such as, “from perverseness being mine” (FWG), or “have kept myself from iniquity” (Perowne).
(vv. 30-42) In these verses we pass on to the future to see Christ in the exercise of victorious power subduing all His enemies. The power by which He overcomes every enemy is ascribed to God (vv. 30-36). In the might of His power Christ pursues His enemies until all are subdued under His feet, and driven away like the dust before the wind (vv. 37-42).
(vv. 43-45) Christ delivered from all His enemies is seen in the glorious reign that follows upon His victories, He is set over all, and all are brought into subjection to Him.
(vv. 46-50) Christ using His victories, His exaltation, and the subjection of all His enemies for the exaltation and praise of God.
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Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Psalms 18". "Smith's Writings". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13