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9

I have told the glad news of deliverance

in the great congregation;

see, I have not restrained my lips,

as you know, O Lord.

10

I have not hidden your saving help within my heart,

I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;

I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness

from the great congregation.

 

11

Do not, O Lord, withhold

your mercy from me;

let your steadfast love and your faithfulness

keep me safe forever.


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Insufficiency of the Legal Sacrifices; The Efficacy of Christ's Sacrifice.

6 Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.   7 Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me,   8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.   9 I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest.   10 I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation.

The psalmist, being struck with amazement at the wonderful works that God had done for his people, is strangely carried out here to foretel that work of wonder which excels all the rest and is the foundation and fountain of all, that of our redemption by our Lord Jesus Christ. God's thoughts, which were to us-ward concerning that work, were the most curious, the most copious, the most gracious, and therefore to be most admired. This paragraph is quoted by the apostle (Heb. x. 5, &c.) and applied to Christ and his undertaking for us. As in the institutions, so in the devotions, of the Old Testament saints were aware of; and, when the apostle would show us the Redeemer's voluntary undertaking of his work, he does not fetch his account out of the book of God's secret counsels, which belong not to us, but from the things revealed. Observe,

I. The utter insufficiency of the legal sacrifices to atone for sin in order to our peace with God and our happiness in him: Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; thou wouldst not have the Redeemer to offer them. Something he must have to offer, but not these (Heb. viii. 3); therefore he must not be of the house of Aaron, Heb. vii. 14. Or, In the days of the Messiah burnt-offering and sin-offering will be no longer required, but all those ceremonial institutions will be abolished. But that is not all: even while the law concerning them was in full force it might be said, God did not desire them, nor accept them, for their own sake. They could not take away the guilt of sin by satisfying God's justice. The life of a sheep, which is so much inferior in value to that of a man (Matt. xii. 12), could not pretend to be an equivalent, much less an expedient to preserve the honour of God's government and laws and repair the injury done to that honour by the sin of man. They could not take away the terror of sin by pacifying the conscience, nor the power of sin by sanctifying the nature; it was impossible, Heb. ix. 9; x. 1-4. What there was in them that was valuable resulted from their reference to Jesus Christ, of whom they were types—shadows indeed, but shadows of good things to come, and trials of the faith and obedience of God's people, of their obedience of God's people, of their obedience to the law and their faith in the gospel. But the substance must come, which is Christ, who must bring that glory to God and that grace to man which it was impossible those sacrifices should ever do.

II. The designation of our Lord Jesus to the work and office of Mediator: My ears hast thou opened. God the Father disposed him to the undertaking (Isa. l. 5, 6) and then obliged him to go through with it. My ear hast thou digged. It is supposed to allude to the law and custom of binding servants to serve for ever by boring their ear to the doorpost; see Exod. xxi. 6. Our Lord Jesus was so in love with his undertaking that he would not go out free from it, and therefore engaged to persevere for ever in it; and for this reason he is able to save us to the uttermost, because he has engaged to serve his Father to the uttermost, who upholds him in it, Isa. xlii. 1.

III. His own voluntary consent to this undertaking: "Then said I, Lo, I come; then, when sacrifice and offering would not do, rather than the work should be undone; I said, Lo, I come, to enter the lists with the powers of darkness, and to advance the interests of God's glory and kingdom." This intimates three things:—1. That he freely offered himself to this service, to which he was under no obligation at all prior to his own voluntary engagement. It was no sooner proposed to him than, with the greatest cheerfulness, he consented to it, and was wonderfully well pleased with the undertaking. Had he not been perfectly voluntary in it, he could not have been a surety, he could not have been a sacrifice; for it is by this will (this animus offerentis—mind of the offerer) that we are sanctified, Heb. x. 10. 2. That he firmly obliged himself to it: "I come; I promise to come in the fulness of time." And therefore the apostle says, "It was when he came into the world that he had an actual regard to this promise, by which he had engaged his heart to approach unto God." He thus entered into bonds, not only to show the greatness of his love, but because he was to have the honour of his undertaking before he had fully performed it. Though the price was not paid, it was secured to be paid, so that he was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. 3. That he frankly owned himself engaged: He said, Lo, I come, said it all along to the Old Testament saints, who therefore knew him by the title of ho erchomenosHe that should come. This word was the foundation on which they built their faith and hope, and which they looked and longed for the accomplishment of.

IV. The reason why he came, in pursuance of his undertaking—because in the volume of the book it was written of him, 1. In the close rolls of the divine decree and counsel; there it was written that his ear was opened, and he said, Lo, I come; there the covenant of redemption was recorded, the counsel of redemption was recorded, the counsel of peace between the Father and the Son; and to that he had an eye in all he did, the commandment he received of his Father. 2. In the letters patent of the Old Testament. Moses and all the prophets testified of him; in all the volumes of that book something or other was written of him, which he had an eye to, that all might be accomplished, John xix. 28.

V. The pleasure he took in his undertaking. Having freely offered himself to it, he did not fail, nor was discouraged, but proceeded with all possible satisfaction to himself (v. 8, 9): I delight to do thy will, O my God! It was to Christ his me at and drink to go on with the work appointed to him (John iv. 34); and the reason here given is, Thy law is within my heart; it is written there, it rules there. It is meant of the law concerning the work and office of the Mediator, what he was to do and suffer; this law was dear to him and had an influence upon him in his whole undertaking. Note, When the law of God is written in our hearts our duty will be our delight.

VI. The publication of the gospel to the children of men, even in the great congregation, v. 9, 10. The same that as a priest wrought out redemption for us, as a prophet, by his own preaching first, then by his apostles, and still by his word and Spirit, makes it know to us. The great salvation began to be spoken by the Lord, Heb. ii. 3. It is the gospel of Christ that is preached to all nations. Observe, 1. What it is that is preached: It is righteousness (v. 9), God's righteousness (v. 10), the everlasting righteousness which Christ has brought in (Dan. ix. 24); compare Rom. i. 16, 17. It is God's faithfulness to his promise, and the salvation which had long been looked for. It is God's lovingkindness and his truth, his mercy according to his word. Note, In the work of our redemption we ought to take notice how brightly all the divine attributions shine, and give to God the praise of each of them. 2. To whom it is preached—to the great congregation, v. 9 and again v. 10. When Christ was here on earth he preached to multitudes, thousands at a time. The gospel was preached both to Jews and Gentiles, to great congregations of both. Solemn religious assemblies are a divine institution, and in them the glory of God, in the face of Christ, ought to be both praised to the glory of God and preached for the edification of men. 3. How it is preached—freely and openly: I have not refrained my lips; I have not hid it; I have not concealed it. This intimates that whoever undertook to preach the gospel of Christ would be in great temptation to hide it and conceal it, because it must be preached with great contention and in the face of great opposition; but Christ himself, and those whom he called to that work, set their faces as a flint (Isa. l. 7) and were wonderfully carried on in it. It is well for us that they were so, for by this means our eyes come to see this joyful light and our ears to hear this joyful sound, which otherwise we might for ever have perished in ignorance of.

Encouragement in Prayer.

11 Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me.   12 For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.   13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me: O Lord, make haste to help me.   14 Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil.   15 Let them be desolate for a reward of their shame that say unto me, Aha, aha.   16 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The Lord be magnified.   17 But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.

The psalmist, having meditated upon the work of redemption, and spoken of it in the person of the Messiah, now comes to make improvement of the doctrine of his mediation between us and God, and therefore speaks in his own person. Christ having done his Father's will, and finished his work, and given orders for the preaching of the gospel to every creature, we are encouraged to come boldly to the throne of grace, for mercy and grace.

I. This may encourage us to pray for the mercy of God, and to put ourselves under the protection of that mercy, v. 11. "Lord, thou hast not spared thy Son, nor withheld him; withhold not thou thy tender mercies then, which thou hast laid up for us in him; for wilt thou not with him also freely give us all things? Rom. viii. 32. Let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me." The best saints are in continual danger, and see themselves undone if they be not continually preserved by the grace of God; and the everlasting lovingkindness and truth of God are what we have to depend upon for our preservation to the heavenly kingdom, Ps. lxi. 7.

II. This may encourage us in reference to the guilt of sin, that Jesus Christ has done that towards our discharge from it which sacrifice and offering could not do. See here, 1. The frightful sight he had of sin, v. 12. This was it that made the discovery he was now favoured with of a Redeemer very welcome to him. He saw his iniquities to be evils, the worst of evils; he saw that they compassed him about; in all the reviews of his life, and his reflections upon each step of it, still he discovered something amiss. The threatening consequences of his sin surrounded him. Look which way he would, he saw some mischief or other waiting for him, which he was conscious to himself his sins had deserved. He saw them taking hold of him, arresting him, as the bailiff does the poor debtor; he saw them to be innumerable and more than the hairs of his head. Convinced awakened consciences are apprehensive of danger from the numberless number of the sins of infirmity which seem small as hairs, but, being numerous, are very dangerous. Who can understand his errors? God numbers our hairs (Matt. x. 30), which yet we cannot number; so he keeps an account of our sins, which we keep no account of. The sight of sin so oppressed him that he could not hold up his head—I am not able to look up; much less could he keep up his heart—therefore my heart fails me. Note, The sight of our sins in their own colours would drive us to distraction, if we had not at the same time some sight of a Saviour. 2. The careful recourse he had to God under the sense of sin (v. 13); seeing himself brought by his sins to the very brink of ruin, eternal ruin, with what a holy passion does he cry out, "Be pleased, O Lord! to deliver me (v. 13); O save me from the wrath to come, and the present terrors I am in through the apprehensions of that wrath! I am undone, I die, I perish, without speedy relief. In a case of this nature, where the bliss of an immortal soul is concerned, delays are dangerous; therefore, O Lord! make haste to help me."

III. This may encourage us to hope for victory over our spiritual enemies that seek after our souls to destroy them (v. 14), the roaring lion that goes about continually seeking to devour. If Christ has triumphed over them, we through him, shall be more than conquerors. In the belief of this we may pray, with humble boldness, Let them be ashamed and confounded together, and driven backward, v. 14. Let them be desolate, v. 15. Both the conversion of a sinner and the glorification of a saint are great disappointments to Satan, who does his utmost, with all his power and subtlety, to hinder both. Now, our Lord Jesus having undertaken to bring about the salvation of all his chosen, we may in faith pray that, in both these ways, that great adversary may be confounded. When a child of God is brought into that horrible pit, and the miry clay, Satan cries Aha! aha! thinking he has gained his point; but he shall rage when he sees the brand plucked out of the fire, and shall be desolate, for a reward of his shame. The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan! The accuser of the brethren is cast out.

IV. This may encourage all that seek God, and love his salvation, to rejoice in him and to praise him, v. 16. See here, 1. The character of good people. Conformably to the laws of natural religion, they seek God, desire his favour, and in all their exigencies apply to him, as a people should seek unto their God; and conformably to the laws of revealed religion they love his salvation, that great salvation of which the prophets enquired and searched diligently, which the Redeemer undertook to work out when he said, Lo, I come. All that shall be saved love the salvation not only as a salvation from hell, but a salvation from sin. 2. The happiness secured to good people by this prophetic prayer. Those that seek God shall rejoice and be glad in him, and with good reason, for he will not only be found of them but will be their bountiful rewarder. Those that love his salvation shall be filled with the joy of his salvation, and shall say continually, The Lord be magnified; and thus they shall have a heaven upon earth. Blessed are those that are thus still praising God.

V. This may encourage the saints, in distress and affliction, to trust in God and comfort themselves in him, v. 17. David himself was one of these: I am poor and needy (a king, perhaps now on the throne, and yet, being troubled in spirit, he calls himself poor and needy, in want and distress, lost and undone without a Saviour), yet the Lord thinketh upon me in and through the Mediator, by whom we are made accepted. Men forget the poor and needy, and seldom think of them; but God's thoughts, towards them (which he had spoken of v. 5) are their support and comfort. They may assure themselves that God is their help under their troubles, and will be, in due time, their deliverer out of their troubles, and will make no long tarrying; for the vision is for an appointed time, and therefore, though it tarry, we may wait for it, for it shall come; it will come, it will not tarry.




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