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The first eight psalms constitute an octave in which all are intimately connected. We have already looked at Psalms 1:0 and 2, but now we want to link them with the six that follow. In this octave we have our Lord Jesus Christ presented to us as the Second Man, the only perfect Man who ever trod this earth. He, as we have already seen, is the blessed Man of Psalms 1:0, and He stands out in vivid contrast to the first man, to all who are linked with the first man, Adam, by natural birth, to the ungodly. Then in Psalms 2:0 we have seen this Second Man presented by God as King to reign in Zion, and one might have thought, knowing how terribly distraught men were because of the crimes and wickedness and difficulty they had to face in all the nations, that they would gladly have opened their hearts to the true King when He came. But instead of that we find them saying, “We will not have this Man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14), and so the King was rejected, and with the rejection of the King we have the setting to one side of the kingdom. Some people imagine that the kingdom of God is now in force in this world, and we hear a great deal in many quarters about “building the kingdom,” and our responsibility to build the kingdom; but the fact of the matter is that the kingdom as set forth in Scripture has never yet been set up in this world. It was presented to men when the Lord Jesus Christ was here, when He said, “The kingdom of God is among you” (Luke 17:21), not exactly, perhaps, as translated in our version, “The kingdom of God is within you.” He was really saying to the people who were looking for the coming of the kingdom, “It is already among you”; that is, the King is here. There were His disciples gathered about Him, and they constituted His cabinet. He tells them that because they followed Him, in the regeneration, that is, in the making of all things new, they shall sit upon thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. They were the executors of His kingdom. As He stood with this group of apostles He could say, “You are looking for the kingdom? You are thinking of it as something yet to come? It is here because the King is here, and here are His loyal subjects.” But in Pilate’s judgment hall they cried, “We have no king but Caesar,” and so refused and rejected God’s anointed King. What has happened? He went to the Cross, settled the sin question, and now is like the nobleman pictured in Luke 19:0 who went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return, and in His absence we are not building the kingdom, but the Spirit of God is using those who love the Lord Jesus, those who seek to serve Him to call out from among the Gentiles and from Israel a people for His name. These people, when they are saved, when they trust the Lord Jesus, are constituted by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the Church, the body of Christ; and when Christ returns to reign, His people will reign with Him. In the meantime His kingdom is set up in our hearts. That is, we who trust Him, we who love Him, recognize Him as the only rightful King though rejected by the world; and so in that sense we speak of the kingdom in its mystery form, hidden in the hearts of those who love Him. During all this present waiting time, ere the King comes back and takes possession of the entire universe so that the kingdoms of the world shall actually become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, His people have to suffer, have to know what it is to be misunderstood by the world, to endure persecution and trial and difficulty. Their Head is rejected, the true King is rejected, and so His saints are rejected with Him. We sing sometimes:
“Our Lord is now rejected and by the world disowned,
By the many still neglected and by the few enthroned,
But soon He’ll come in glory, the hour is drawing nigh,
For the crowning day is coming by and by.”
Until that day we cannot expect to be recognized by the world that cast out our Saviour; we cannot expect to feel at home in this scene where He had no home. But when He comes back, He will purge the world with righteous judgment, and then we shall reign with Him.
Those of us who are acquainted with New Testament truth know that when He comes, the first thing He will do will be to call His own redeemed people out of this scene to meet Him in the air. And then what? Will that be the end of His dealings with men down here? No; God never leaves Himself without witnesses; though there will come a moment when there will not be a Christian left in the world. The solemn thing is that it might take place tonight. This should not trouble us. It ought not to alarm the bride to know that the bridegroom may come for her at any time, if she is really in love with him. Our blessed Bridegroom whom we love may come at any moment, and there will not be one Christian left in the world. But will that be an end to God’s mercy to mankind? No; because we learn from Scripture that “blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in” (Romans 11:25). Then God will turn again to the people of Israel and will draw the hearts of honest Israelites to search their own Scriptures; and as a result, light will break upon their souls, and so there will soon be found in this world a remnant people out of Israel who will be waiting, not for the Saviour to come in the air, for that will have already come to pass, but for the King to come to the earth with all His heavenly saints who have been caught up to meet Him, to establish His kingdom and reign in Mount Zion, as indicated in that second Psalm. And when He reigns He will reign not only over the nation of Israel but also over all the earth; and in view of that He takes a much wider title than “King in Zion.” He calls Himself the “Son of Man.” We read, “When the Son of Man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him,” etc. (Matthew 25:31). He will take possession of the world, and at His revelation many will recognize Him as the true Saviour and King and will bow in obedience to Him. Those who refuse allegiance will be cut off in judgment. Those who bow at His feet will enter, not into heaven, but into the kingdom that is going to be set up here on earth.
During the interval between the taking of the saints to heaven and the coming back with the Lord when He returns to reign, the people of Israel who have turned to Him will have to suffer almost incredulous persecution. It will be the time of Jacob’s trouble or, as the Lord Jesus calls it, the great tribulation, the time of distress “such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” In fact He says, “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved.” But then we read, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days…they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:21-22; Matthew 24:29-30Matthew 24:29-30).
In Psalms 1:0 you have the Second Man; in Psalms 2:0, the rejected King; and then in Psalms 3:0 to 7 you have the suffering and yet the confidence of the people of God in the interval until the Saviour returns again. When you come to Psalms 8:0 you have the glory of the Son of Man taking possession of the kingdom and ruling over the entire universe in righteousness: King in Psalms 2:0, Son of Man in Psalms 8:0, and so you can see how this is a connected series with everything in perfect order.
Let us look now at the third Psalm. It is interesting to notice the heading, “A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.” David, the true king, was rejected and Absalom, the usurper, was reigning; and that is the condition of things now. Our Lord Jesus, the true King, is rejected and an usurper is on the throne; so we can expect suffering and sorrow. David’s experience pictures in a very wonderful way what the people of God will go through during the day of the Lord’s rejection. And may I say that in all these Psalms, 3 to 7, we have set forth in a peculiar way the sufferings that the remnant of Israel will endure in the days of the great tribulation. But they also apply to God’s people at any time while waiting for the coming again of the rejected King.
Let us read a part of Psalms 3:0, “Lord, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me. Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God.” We might entitle this Psalm, “God the All-sufficient One.” Here is the child of God in real distress because all around are enemies who are taunting him and threatening him and saying to him, “There is no help for you; you trust in a God your eyes have never seen; He cannot do anything for you; there is no help for you in God.” The world says that now, but the people of God can look up and say, “But Thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.” No matter how dark the days, no matter how foes may rage around, no matter how dreadful Satan’s malignancy may be, God Himself is our shield, and He is the One who lifts up our heads. So a saint of God can say, “I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and He heard me out of His holy hill.” And yet that does not mean that he is delivered from trouble. David was fleeing from Absalom, and he was a wanderer in the wilderness while his foes were seeking him; yet he tells us in this Psalm how he was able to hand his case over to God. It is a great thing to be able to do that, to say, it is not a question now of my ability to stand against the foe; it is not a question of my ability to weather this trouble, my ability to overcome my enemies; but I am putting the whole thing into the hands of God and He stands between and the foe.
Notice the perfect confidence expressed in the verses that follow, “I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me.” Do you think you could have done that? Here is David fleeing from Absalom, not knowing what moment the army will be coming over the hill; but night has fallen, and he has committed himself to God, and so he wraps his robe around him and lies down and goes to sleep! He is safe, for he has handed everything over to God. “I laid me down and slept,” and when morning comes, he says, “I awaked; for the Lord sustained me.” In other words, I just had a real good sleep with all the foes seeking my destruction. It is only when you hand everything over to God that that can be possible. David says, “Lord, You know all about Absalom; You know all about my foes. They are determined to destroy me. You know how ungrateful my son Absalom is. Lord, You look after me.” And in the morning if one had asked, “How did you sleep?” he could have said, “I had a fine sleep and I awaked; for the Lord sustained me.” And so, strong in faith he says, “I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.” Why? Because, after all, the battle is not his; it is God’s. So he turns to the Lord and says, “Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God”; and then in faith cries, though his eyes have not yet seen it, “for Thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; Thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.” You cannot do much biting if your teeth are broken. They were just like a lot of yelping hounds after David, but he sees them with broken teeth and, this, long before the battle was fought. When eventually the army of Absalom came against Joab and the army of David, and they were defeated, it was no more real to David than when he handed it over to God in the wilderness. What a wonderful thing to be able to rest in God like that and count on His infinite love and power. “Salvation belongeth unto the Lord: Thy blessing is upon Thy people.”
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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Psalms 3". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20