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THE MAELSTROM, THE TRIUMPH AND THE MERCY
THE MAELSTROM 31:1-13
Net Hate - 31:1-6.
The net of Christ's capture was a hateful thing, though by His foreknowledge it was turned into a net gain by those who find and love Him, since His loss was the channel for our gain.
Indeed, resonance to v. 5, committing His Spirit, is found in Luke 23:46, where Christ directly applies this prophetic declaration to Himself (cf. Luke 4 and Isaiah 61). From this Messianic Psalm come the very words of His committal amid remorselessly grievous suffering, as His spent body visits death, though it could never hold Him.
A different resonance is to be seen in Psalm 139:24, with its zealous detestation of what is consolidated in evil, where there is working the very enemy of souls, alive and alert in his evil labours in a fertile field. It is given perspective in Psalm 83:16-18 where the confusion sought for such caught in consolidated evil is that they might seek the Lord. The blight of might always occurs in the end, from the Father's hand, when it is misdirected in the lust for the control and conquest of all things (cf. Psalm 2). Then long flown from grace and mercy, it becomes as detestable just as in love's grace, it was ready to be redeemed before this finally befouled result. The residues, filtering themselves out from mercy, of necessity can find none.
That is the point in Psalm 109, for the essential thrust is to thrust to one side the Man of Mercy, the Messiah of Hope and the Lamb of God. There is no other Lamb. Sin strikes like lightning in devastating direness, when anyone spends his time nailing the hand of help, rather than being fed by it. It is none other than He, the unique and effectual Redeemer, who being lost, constitutes in Himself as the hope for any, so in refusal the turning from truth to travesty, and its aligned judgments.
The Escape Hatch - 31:7-8
Reverting to Psalm 31, and the suffering servant securing salvation, here is help in the midst of maelstrom, received in assurance for God in heaven to act in due time. He IS to be delivered, even though present woes multiply.
Here, there is resonance for Psalm 31:7 in John 17:1-9. In Psalm 31, the Messiah has the constant company of His Father (as exhibited directly in John 8:29), while in v. 7 in our Psalm, "You have considered My troubles, and have known My soul in adversities." There is uninhibited fellowship. There is a constancy and a consistency of mutual involvement.
The disciples had been with CHRIST, as we see in Luke 22:28-30; and though in their case, there had been many failings, yet they will be sourced through the Lord Jesus Christ, in the same felicity, as redeemed children, adopted by the God of all patience and power. How comforting the words:
“But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials.
And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me,
that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom ..."
The Impending Ruin - 31:9-16
For these verses there are multiple resonances. One major one is Psalm 69:18-21. Here the intensity is so great that along with 31:5 and the totality of the issue, and alliance with other Messianic Psalms, it seems to fit perfectly in that genre. In this is later Psalm, we even find "they also gave Me gall for My food, and for My thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink." So do the details augment, while the felicity of fellowship in this branch of the Psalms becomes like that of old acquaintances, who have known each other from birth.
The aptitude of 31:18 is total for the Messiah predicted. In that case, they speak
"insolent things, proudly and contemptuously against the righteous,"
in very deed: putting Him in a place to make the case for Him to be forgotten, "like a dead man" indeed!
This to the ultimate majesty! It is not over-stated! it is precisely as forecast in Micah 5:1-3, the eternal God struck with a rod on the cheek! The approach is insolent, the base is pride, the manner is contempt. When He who is the truth is so treated, what but repentance in faith can ever lead back to atonement, even for some of those for whom He prayed, that they might be forgiven. Again, His life is "spent with grief" as in Isaiah 53:3, where He is His saving ministry knows the evils He has had to overcome, the follies to redeem and the functions to perform almost beyond all limits! Thus does this double prophecy of Psalm 31 and Isaiah 53 match the case, coming to its climax of horror, in anticipation, in Luke 23, and performance on the cross.
Thus, just as He on the cross, received a fallen co-crucifixion sinner, into His sinless hands, so His purity did not waver, nor His love deflate.
Accordingly, the blight on the wicked (31:9) is not least that they might seek the face of the Lord, and not impel themselves into darkness (as in Psalm 83). When this is done, how tempestuous is their end (Psalm 109), who make war even on their own mercy, and do not relent.
What however of the word in v. 10, which refers to His sighing because of "My iniquity." ON HIM, says Isaiah 53:6, speaking of those healed by His stripes, is laid the iniquity of us all. It is HIS VERY OWN, not penetrating to the spoliation of His intensive purity, but a burden oppressing as to the very earth (Ps. 22:1, Matthew 27:46). Money seekers love to spend, whether on Pacific Island or elsewhere. It is their very own, they possess it, and handle it with relish. While sin can only be a matter of disrelish, yet Christ has freely without charge taken the sins of believers to Himself, as a possession prized because of the deliverance it produces for those who He has loved and found and freed. This burden of sin exacts payment and He abolishes it with that payment, from His infinite resources, even attributing His own merit in exchange! (II Corinthians 5:17-21).
For the glory set before Him, His own family so extended through those who make of His life a sacrifice for their sin, so constituting an entire new race*1, He relishes what He suffers, though it degrades the body, calls for anguish to His very Spirit. It is work of grace, though to His very face He is rendered almost non-human in appearance (Isaiah 52:13-15). In His life, by its physical extinction, He PAYS for what He thus acquires, and in His resurrection, the body not even rotting but secured and restored, yes and more even that that, the Father shows His acquittal in His innocence, since there are no further charges to lay (Romans 1:4). Meanwhile, as to that payment to be made, the Psalm continues to His cry, heard not by human ears but by divine accord.
The Penetrating Cry - 31:16-18
Let Him come down! then we will believe Him, they wisecracked to the Messiah (Mark 15:31). "Let the lying lips be put to silence!" is the rejoinder (Psalm 31:18). Their plans were blighted, the resurrection as planned opened the door to many, lifted into life, bought by ransom. As in Psalm 69, there is the common theme. There we move from
reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on Me,
"You know My reproach, My shame and My dishonour;
My adversaries are all before You.
Reproach has broken My heart;
I looked for someone to take pity, but there was none,"
am poor and sorrowful; let Your salvation, O God,
set Me up on high. I will praise the name of God with a song,
and will magnify Him with thanksgiving..."
It has indeed the same sense of flow and deliverance from explosive doom as in Psalm 22, as it moves from 22:14-18, with the damning datum of death, "They divide My garments among them," to 22:19-21, with this "You have answered Me," and this, "I will declare Your name to My brethren..."
THE TRIUMPH 31:19-20
The Blessed Performance
Thus from anguish to ecstasy, from perilous plight to delight, comes the Messiah as prophetically foreseen by the forbear of his human form, King David. Based on the accomplishment as in Psalm 22 and 69, so here in Psalm 31:19-22 comes the victory song, for here through His blood, His sacrificial death, there is open a way so good for the pilgrims, that He cries: "Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear you, which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men!"
Many are coerced by culture and fear of its cults, living in the presence of men; but not He! Always do what pleases His Father, the Messiah had other referent. How lovely that so much, pursued with such discipline, secured vast resources for many! (Matthew 20:28, 26:28).
At the very dawn, as He died, He delivered the thief by His side, crying, WHEN you come into Your kingdom, remember me! "THIS DAY," He replied, "you will be with Me in paradise!" (Luke 23:43). So the Potentate, pierced, make promise to the pilgrim, distinguished not by performance, but by faith passing beyond appearance, to reality!
THE MERCY 31:21-24
The Certain Application
The ransom is now paid, as in Isaiah 53:6, and to each the way is opened as in Isaiah 53:10; for now those who receive this offering for their sin, constitute children for the Messiah. Not only did He not finally perish, being raised and restored, but they too will be like Him (I John 3:1-3), when the time of resurrection comes, and eternity is before them, unallayed, unalloyed, the place of consummate perfection.
Paul links together this paean of praise, the Lord Himself made a prisoner and a victim that those who are in these positions, strung up by sin, might be freed (cf. Isaiah 61), with Isaiah 64:4, the latter stressing the singularity of the Sovereign Saviour along with the manifold mercies provided. That dual reference is found in I Corinthians 2:9. Thus Christ Himself is found in faith. His Father heard when Christ cried, and so being delivered, He delivered many. As Paul was moved to put it so beautifully and so memorably, as one recipient pilgrim (I Peter 2:11), example to many more:
Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me
for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!",
(II Timothy 4:18).
That itself has echoes in II Cor. 1:10:
delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver:
in whom we trust that He will yet deliver us ..."
"O love the Lord, all you His saints!" cries the Psalmist (31:23), "for the Lord preserves the faithful." He not only does this in time, but for eternity, a time of exquisite joy of which by His Spirit He now provides, as we abide, we gain the foretaste (I Peter 1:3-8). The Messiah, so often predicted, the vulnerable potentate, it is He who is the sacrificed sovereign, the wise Lord who gave Himself that He might be "Lord both of the dead and of the living, " Romans 14:9. SUCH a Lord is life! (John 10:10, 14:6). Resonance to v. 5, committing His Spirit, is found in Luke 23:46,where Christ directly applies this declaration to Himself (cf. Luke 4 and Isaiah 61). From this Messianic Psalm come the very words of His committal amid remorselessly grievous suffering, as His spent body visits death, though it could never hold Him.
His everlasting goings (as in Micah 5:1-3), His Messianic work (as in Hebrews 7-10), where by one sacrifice once made in the end of the Age, He has appeared "to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself", His glory of departure from the tomb and prosecution of truth (Luke 24, John 20-21), rising to the everlasting wonder of His life with the Father (John 17, Matthew 28), the eternal life which He provides for His own people, all from first to last has not a glint of majesty, but an exposition of magnificence. Many seek magnificence; only One has it.
See Bible Translation 3.