J. N. Darby.
I have passed over the third book, as it treats more of the detail as to the state and condition and circumstances of the whole people of Israel in the last day. There is not so much of Christ in it, Christ as an object of course there is always, but not so much the expression of His experience when on earth. It is not merely the residue of people in Jerusalem where Christ walked amongst them, nor driven out of Jerusalem, but the whole nation, not exclusive of the Jews, but taking in all. Psalm 73, "As for me my feet were almost gone." They are in perplexity until God arises in judgment. Then when He arises all is gone! As soon as the glory comes in they will be blessed. Verse 24, "Thou wilt guide me with thy counsel and after the glory receive me," and as Zechariah says, "After the glory, hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you." There is a difference for us, we get it before the glory, and when He who is our life shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory. They will not come into blessing till after the glory, because they have not received Him in humiliation. From Psalm 73 to Psalm 89 we have the future character of Israel; their unfaithfulness, tempting God, etc., and in the last Psalms 88, 89, entire failure. Psalm 88 is failure under law, utter darkness of the law on man's spirit. Psalm 89 is failure of David's family, king as well as people, but the godly remnant, in this state of darkness, in and where all is gone, find Jesus who is set before them in this character of Messiah.
In the fourth book we see the coming in of God in the way of deliverance very remarkably. He is bringing in again the "first-begotten into the world," therefore the preface is "Jehovah reigneth." The everlasting gospel comes after, but the general announcement and subject of the book is the reign of Jehovah. Jehovah has never been reigning in the actual exercise of power until this time comes in. His ways and dealings with men have not been on that footing. He is King always, of course, but He has not taken the position of reigning over man, either in connection with Adam, or in the giving of promises, or law. In one sense God has all in His hand, and He says, "do my prophets no harm," but He has never taken His great power and reigned yet. The patriarchs were patterns of faith, having no possession in the land. Man was set up as king in David; then because of Israel's failure under the kings, their dominion transferred to the Gentiles, (Nebuchadnezzar). Power committed to man, there is no knowing what he will do. Nebuchadnezzar made an image and called on the people to worship it, instead of God, and then put those who owned God into the fire. When Christ was on earth, things were not set aside, He said, "Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's." Christ became a servant amongst them. Pilate represents the emperor who has God's appointed authority.
109 Here our position is "Do well and suffer for it," because the rule of the Gentiles is going on instead of Jehovah's reigning. That you see goes on, until the two things meet again, when the mystery of God has gone on to the open apostasy, and power comes out under the form of Babylon, the "mother of harlots." All the nations in opposition to God's government will then meet up in open rebellion and nothing can bring in blessing but the Lord coming in judgment. Jehovah reigns. The place of the saints, now suffering with Him, will be to reign with Him then. We shall be called up before He comes, and when He comes to reign we come with Him to reign with Him. He will reign over the earth; but saints gone up will reign with Him. The character of our association with Christ is like that of Paul, who got his soul into the glory whilst it was in heaven. Peter had seen Christ's sufferings, he shared the sufferings and anticipated the glory. Paul had the sufferings and entered into the glory by faith, he was filling up the measure of Christ's sufferings. You get from him not the fact of glory revealed merely, but our being with Him, the rays of the glory when it is revealed.
Psalm 90. Remarkable the way in which this book is introduced. The eye is on Jehovah coming in, and faith looks back to see the way they have been led. "Jehovah, thou hast been our dwelling-place." Psalm 91 shews what that dwelling-place was. Turning to Jehovah as coming up, He had been their dwelling-place. To Him a thousand years were as yesterday when it is past. He had come to deliver, but Psalm 91 gives Christ, He that dwelleth. He takes His place amongst these people whose dwelling-place Jehovah had been. He takes up the names of Abraham's God (Most High and Almighty), going farther back than Israel to whom He was known as Jehovah, to Abraham the root of the olive-tree. "Blessed be Abraham of the Most High God," looking on the prosperity of God's people on earth. God Almighty is a name God took in connection with coming out of the world, and He that knows the secret place knows where to look, God as a Father watches us, but it is not that we shall always escape suffering, we have something better than promise of that kind. We may indeed pass through the fire, but not a hair of our head shall perish, but here it is personal deliverance promised, and if we look for that we shall make terrible mistakes. "Lest thou dash thy foot against a stone." God will take as much care of the remnant as of Christ. Whoever gets the "secret place of the Most High shall abide," etc.
110 Christ says, I will take Jehovah for my refuge, not as the God of the earth yet, and Jehovah comes in as Most High. Verse 9. Israel speaks, "Because thou hast made," etc. Verse 14. Jehovah takes it up, "Because he hath set his love on me, therefore will I deliver him." Christ took the place of refusing to be the Jehovah on earth, that He might suffer as Son of man. He dropped His title of Psalm 2, that He might take the place of suffering and claim of Psalm 8, and this is Jehovah's approval and reward.
Psalm 92. He is in the place where praise flows forth to this great Deliverer. We get the character of the Most High brought out. Then the Lord reigneth (Ps. 93), the floods have lifted up their voice, etc. "Who is this that we should obey him," the ungodly say: "The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters," etc., and so it will be they rise against Him, but He wakes up as the Judge of the earth, and puts an end to it all. As He stilled the waves on the lake when they thought He was asleep on a pillow, so now He stills the raging of the nations.
Psalm 94. The remnant in distress calling for judgment. He comes in as the Judge of the earth. He has that character, not Saviour, yet the meek of the earth will be delivered. Wheresoever the grounded staff shall pass, it shall be with tabrets and harps, Isa. 30:32. In order to their getting the blessing they must look for the cutting off of enemies. The "throne of iniquity" must be put down, and the rightful king set up. Can Jehovah reign with Antichrist? If not, vengeance must be executed to put down his throne. Verse 20.
In the Psalms that follow we get the progressive introduction of Jehovah or Jesus (as Lord) into the place of government. In Psalm 102 the sufferings of Christ on earth are contrasted with the glory into which He comes.
111 Psalms 95, 96 to 99. His going on from one step to another to bring in deliverance. Psalm 95, a solemn appeal to the Jews, the sheep of His pasture, at the closing moment, "today, - if ye will hear," etc., the solemn to-morrow is not come. Psalm 96. The last appeal to the Gentiles; leave your idols and come up to worship Jehovah. Psalm 97. Celebrated prophetically, see the quotation of this Psalm in Hebrews. "Worship him," that is Christ, worship Him. Nothing more shews the divine Person of the Lord than these Psalms. Here it is Jehovah in the Psalms, and in the quotation it is applied to Christ. He is here coming to judge the world. Psalm 98. It is done. In Psalm 99 He goes a step farther; not only does He display His power, but He takes pleasure in Jerusalem, and He is sitting between the cherubims in the temple.
Then comes Psalm 100, not summoning them from their idols, but inviting them to join in the joy of the whole earth at Jehovah being established. Israel sings this Psalm. Thus we get the whole cause of the First-Begotten coming into the world again, in these few Psalms; then turning back to the human part in Psalm 101 He comes in as Son of David. He announces prophetically the principles on which He will govern when He takes the throne as Man on earth.
In Psalm 102 the question is raised, How can He who was cut off have a part in this reign? It enters in a peculiar way into Christ's sufferings, as cut off out of the land of the living (not atonement), but how can He who was cut off have part in this land of the living? It takes in the whole scene prophetically. He had been lifted up as one chosen from amongst the people to be Messiah, but cast down, the lowest of the low; God's wrath against Him. Though He came as Messiah, with all the blessings in His hand, He is cast down. "Thou shalt arise and have mercy on Zion," referring to the last days, and then (v. 15) the world is brought in when Israel is blessed. "He weakened my strength by the way"; cut off at thirty-three years, how could He come in to reign? Now we get the answer of the Spirit. "Thy years are throughout all generations"; it is Jehovah Himself. We get that at the very time when He is cut off; in the midst of all the glory He breaks in "but I am cut off," the answer breaks in as suddenly, "Thy years are throughout all generations." The very Jehovah that founded everything (Heb. 1:10), "Thou Lord, in the beginning has laid the foundations of the earth." It is exceedingly beautiful to get the two together in this way the casting down and the lifting up. If Christ is the centre of our hearts, we take an interest in all that concerns Christ Himself. He appeals to His disciples, "If ye loved me ye would rejoice because I go to my Father," you would be glad of my going away because of what concerns me. If you love self, you will want to keep me. The moment we have got peace and are free to think of something besides self, every ray of glory we can perceive in connection with Christ brightens up the interest of our souls in Him. There is no place where Christ speaks of His desolateness on earth as in this Psalm, where He is declared to be the Jehovah. How beautifully the Spirit of God brings out the loveliness of Christ's heart in the world! His very love isolated Him: He must feel for others; He must feel the sorrow of seeing them rejecting His love. Dreadful to go through a world so dead to its own mercies, in rejecting Him!
112 There was no sorrow that He had not to go through, even to His disciples turning away. Suppose all is very sorrowful with us; if there is any success of the gospel it cheers our hearts, but there was no such comfort for Him. He said to His disciples, Tarry ye here, and watch with me: poorly indeed they watched, for they went to sleep. He was alone in His sorrow, and alone in His joy. "I have meat to eat that ye know not of." Christ's perfectness was the very reason of the way He felt all the path down here. There was everything that could add to the cup of human sorrow. Now, when all the brightness comes in, He says, "I had to be cut off this very one, who is Jehovah!
What a wonderful way the Spirit of God brings these divine truths before us! Speaking of being cut off, why it is the Jehovah! How it breaks in upon all the routing of our thoughts, that such an object should have come in! Surely it is enough to take us out of ourselves. The thread that leads us to it is, the interest that Christ takes in all this. It puts us in a place where innocence could not have put us. God Himself has come into all the evil, bringing in grace above all the evil. That it is which gives the exhaustless source of all blessing; it is in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He is presented to us to deliver us out of all the wretched routine of this world's thoughts, being Himself the object for the affections of our hearts. God the Father has given us the very object to delight in, that He Himself delights in; one who went down into it all, that is the reason we can have communion with Him. God is the only One who could come into such a scene. An angel would have fallen in taking it; it would have been a fall for any creature to have come into it!