The first psalm is the position of the Lord Jesus Christ as the godly-separated Man here in this world. The second psalm is the Lord exalted, risen, and glorified. At the beginning of it God sets before us the secret of all that is going on here in this world, and what subsists before Him in the midst of it all, and what is the cause of it. “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?” The root, so to speak, the spirit of all that is going on, is the determined effort and intention on the part of man to set God aside. Thus if we find disappointment in this world, it is because we look for something that God does not mean us to find, for something that God is not bringing about. “Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion.” God has raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in heavenly glory; and what the world is seeking for is the entire breaking away from God. “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” But “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.”
The third psalm gives us another thing. Passing over the second, and going back to the first psalm, it seems to give us the position in this world of the blessed Lord Himself, and also our position. It shows Him surrounded by enemies. It is the description of the path, and of the infinitely-blessed resources, for Him who is for God in this world. There is nothing more important or more necessary for us. We may speak of sorrows, distresses, and failures; what we have lost, and what we have fallen from; but what remains? What is the remedy? What we have here. It is nearness to Himself. The spirit of the world is just opposed to this. “There is no help for him in God.” That is the way the world points at the separated One (Matt. 27:43); and the world does so still towards those that are of Him and for Him in it.
In the third psalm we have the enemies, the surroundings; and the One who is here for God is the blessed Lord Himself. So it is written, “I cried, and He heard.” That is the great point with us. It is not merely crying because of sorrows and difficulties here, but it is having the sense in our souls that He hears.
You will find two things invariably go together—rest and power—just as faith and obedience go together. If the soul has real rest in God Himself, it will also have power. There is no power but it comes from rest. It comes through the soul’s known approach to God, and the soul, by the grace of God, availing itself of that approach. “I cried, and He heard;” and the consequence immediately is, “I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me.” There is the blessed sense and apprehension of being in His hand, and of knowing and availing ourselves of what He has brought us into; for we are saved here in this world as individuals (I do not speak of the body of Christ now), as those who have been brought to God, to know, to understand, to delight ourselves in this, that the way of approach to Him is open, and we, by the grace of God, can always go there, always lay all bare before Him, and always have the sense, the knowledge, that He has heard.
Now let me ask if you know what prayer is. What is the use of prayer if you have not the sense that you have been heard? Look at the priests of Baal. Elijah said to them, “Cry aloud;” cry louder still, until he does hear. “Either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.” He said it mockingly. He himself knew what it was to be heard, to be associated in his own soul with a God who always hears. So it is with us now. It is not that we are at a, distance, and have to be occupied with the sorrows and trials and difficulties, but to go to God with them. Do you not think He knows a great deal more about them than we do? He knows the purpose He is working out through them all. He would have us know it; and why? He would have us nearer Him in heart and spirit and soul in the sense and the enjoyment of knowing that He has heard. The blessed sense in the soul that He has heard is the answer. As to the Lord Himself, that is what He was here upon earth; but there was a day when He cried and was not heard of God; but He has put us on the ground where we can always be heard.
Beloved brethren, have we the sense in our souls of what it is to be always heard? We come to God as children, owning Him as our Father and our God; we bring our distresses and our sorrows to Him. When we have the thing given that we have prayed for, the outward answer, then perhaps for the first time we have the sense that we have been heard. But here we have come to God in the reality in our souls of speaking to one who hears. We cannot express the thing perhaps, but He hears the groans in the heart; He hears the soul that comes to Him with groanings that cannot be uttered. It is not the speaking in length of prayer, but just the “five words” to a Person whom he sees, whom he knows; and he knows He hears. The rest that. comes from that, through the grace of God, is what enables us to take up the interests of Christ and of God in the world, and consider them relatively to Him. To do that we must be really in our own souls at rest before God.
Do we know what that rest is? Have we apprehended what it is to have the One before us who is the delight of God’s heart, and whom He has presented to us to be the delight of our hearts, and to be wholly set aside as to ourselves? We may say we know something of it doctrinally, perhaps we may say we know something of it in our hearts, but we find we know it very little. To be wholly set aside, thankfully set aside, to have the blessed One taking our place, do we know what that is? That in all its fulness and blessedness is what heaven will be. The Father’s house is before us, and by the grace of God we are in spirit there now.
What fills the Father’s house? What. is the great joy of the Father’s house? The glory of the beloved Son. Glory will be there surely; you and I will be there; but the glory of the blessed Son Himself fills the house. Every heart and soul there will delight to overflowing in the glory of the Son. He has revealed it to us now, and by His grace brought us to it now, and that is the place of rest. You will find no disappointment there. There will always be disappointment in looking for anything else. Just look for this, and only this, that Christ should be glorified, and you will never be disappointed. He will always be glorified, but it will be by our being set aside and made nothing of, and the more we are made nothing of the more He will be glorified. Does that content us? We shall soon be put to the test as to whether it does. God is real with us, and He would have us as real with Him as He is with us. The only object He has put before us is His beloved Son, His glory.
Verse 6: “I will not be afraid of ten thousands of the people, that have set themselves against me round about.” Verse 4: “I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and He heard me.” Where does He hear me from? “Out of His holy hill.” He is there, and we with all our pettinesses here, our disappointments, our stumblings, our failures, we find that He is there, at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty on high—God’s anointed King on His holy hill of Zion; and He says, in the psalm, that is where He hears from—from His holy hill. It is the knowledge of being heard out of His holy hill that gives practical rest, that gives ability not to be afraid of ten thousands of the people, that have set themselves in array round about, but to go on looking at Him, occupied with the present glory of Him who is there, and seeking afresh that He may be glorified.
Now look at the end of the psalm, a wonderful verse is the eighth. He says, “Salvation belongeth unto Jehovah: thy blessing is upon thy people.” We find in two places in Scripture this expression—“Salvation is of the Lord.” Here in this Psalm 3 and in the book of Jonah. Jonah sought to evade God, to run away from the commandment of God. Obedience was not
there, and he is brought at last to utter helplessness; but he says, “Yet will I look again unto thy holy temple.” He was brought to that point to say, “Salvation is of the Lord.” The moment he does say it God orders salvation, and Jonah is saved, and brought up again from the depths to the dry ground.
In this third psalm you have it in another way “Salvation belongeth unto the Lord: thy blessing is upon thy people.” Here is One who takes His place in this world in grace and in goodness, in love and mercy, among men who are in the spirit of disobedience and rebellion against God. He comes and takes His place now, having set us up in this world as dependent beings; it is present dependence upon God. Have you studied His life? Have you learnt that that is the truly dependent Man? The blessed Lord was the perfect expression and manifestation of God’s heart, and of dependence upon God. I can understand Satan trying to break that, presenting even His Godhead power and glory to shake Him from that place; but He stood there, in dependence upon God, a blessed thing to gaze upon and delight in. He has set us there in the place of dependence upon God in this world for His glory. That is the way the Lord Jesus Christ can be glorified through us. There is no other way for it. Hanging upon Him, waiting upon Him, guided and led by Him, in order that God may express Him in us and through us – that will bring glory to Christ.
It is no theory—the glory of Christ. There is no theory in it, but power that will disclose to your heart and soul things you never thought of before. It will search you thoroughly. If by the grace of God we can really get into it, it will leave no part dark. And He sets us up in this world as having found salvation, having, as it were, “the helmet of salvation on our head.” On this blessed ground salvation is sure. “Salvation is of the Lord,” and I have got it now.
Now look at the last part of that blessed verse—“Thy blessing is upon Thy people.” Do you think we really understand in our souls that in everything He puts us through He has only one object as regards us, and only one object as regards Christ? As to us it is blessing, as to Christ it is glory. Let us go back to the starting-point of it all. The blessed Lord glorified God in this world, and God has glorified Him in heavenly glory. Thus He has all the glory, and we have all the blessing. His glory is the measure of our blessing. Do you think we know what it is? The blessing we are set in here answers to the glory He is in at God’s right hand. The glory of Christ is the measure of our blessing. So He draws us near to Himself. He loves to nourish us and turn us aside from everything, that we should have only Christ before us, the cause and reason of our being here.
Beloved brethren, why is the Spirit, the Holy Spirit of God, in this world but that Christ may be glorified, and that He may fill our hearts with the knowledge of what He is? His blessing is upon His people, and it comes from Himself; and if we have only eyes to see it, and hearts to receive it, there is no end to what we might enter into, and the brightness of the testimony that might go forth for Himself, not. by occupation with the testimony, but by occupation with Himself. “Thy blessing is upon thy people.” In the face of all that is going on in this world, and of the spirit of the world, His mind is to bless His people. Things in us and our ways may come in to hinder the enjoyment and realization of this; but He has apprehended us for blessing for Himself. May He give us so to enter into this, so to have this truth in power in our souls, that we may live and walk down here in the midst of all that is against Him, in blessed nearness to Himself, and confidence in Him and His mind; and thus instead of being cast down and disheartened by the sorrows and difficulties and trials by the way, find in them occasion for getting nearer to Himself in heart and spirit, and becoming thus more truly and simply dependent upon Him.
Christian Friend, vol. 14, 1887, p. 309