Psalm 21:13
What is true of Christ is true, in a sense, of his people. Here we learn -

I. THE TRUE NATURE OF PRAYER. It is the desire of the heart (ver. 2). This is frequently taught by doctrine and fact in Holy Scripture. Words are of the mouth, thoughts are of the heart. "Words without thoughts never to heaven go." It is asking of God for things agreeable to his will. While there is real "asking," there is also loving trust and acquiescence. God''s will is aye the best will.

II. SOME LIGHT AS TO THE MANNER IN WHICH GoD ANSWERS PRAYER.

1. By giving what is good. "Life."

2. In a higher sense than we thought of. "For ever."

3. In such a way as shall be for the greatest benefit to others as well as to ourselves. "Blessings" (cf. Paul, "more needful for you," Philippians 1:24). Hence faith is confirmed. Our hopes as to the future are sustained. Our hearts are soothed amidst the disappointments and trials of life, by the assurance that all is well. We ask "life" for ourselves; and God gives what he sees best. We ask "life" for our friends. Some child or loved one is in peril of death. We plead for him. We entreat that he may be spared. We continue with "strong crying and tears" to pray that his life, so precious and so dear, may be prolonged. But in vain. He dies. We are troubled. We mourn in bitterness of soul, as if God had forgotten to be gracious. But when we look at things aright, we find comfort. God has answered us in his own way. He knows what is best. Your little one has gone quickly to heaven. Your darling boy has been taken to a nobler field of service than earth. The "desire of your eyes" has been caught up into the glory of God. There they await us. Love never faileth. The fellowship in Christ endures for ever. - W.F.







For they intended evil against Thee...which they are not able to perform.
Students' France.
At Rome the news of this great blow (given by the massacre on St. Bartholomew's Day) was hailed with extravagant manifestations of joy; the Pope (Gregory XII) and cardinals went in state to return thanks to heaven for this signal mercy, and medals were struck in its honour. Philip II. extolled it as one of the most memorable triumphs of Christianity, compared it to the splendid victory of Lepanto, and boasted that the total ruin of Protestantism was now finally assured. Nevertheless, this great wickedness, like all state crimes, was quite ineffectual for the purpose toward which it was directed. The Huguenots had lost their ablest leaders: they were stunned, confounded, scattered, weakened, but they were by no means wholly crushed. As soon as they recovered from their consternation they once more rushed to arms...The persecuted party once more raised their heads, and within a year from the date of the great massacre were in a position to address the king in bolder and more importunate language than at any former period of the contest...The full and public exercise of the reformed religion was authorised throughout the kingdom; the parliaments were to consist of an equal number of Protestant and Catholic judges; all sentences passed against the Huguenots were annulled, and the insurgents were pronounced to have acted for the good of the king and kingdom; eight towns were placed in their hands for an unlimited period; and the States-General were to be convoked within six months. Such were the conditions of the "Peace of Monsieur," as it was termed, which was signed on the 6th of May 1576 — less than four years after that frightful massacre by which it was hoped that the Huguenot faction would be finally extirpated from France.

(Students' France.).

My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?
Who is the sufferer whose wail is the very voice of desolation and despair, and who yet dares to believe that the tale of his sorrow will be a gospel for the world? The usual answers are given. The title ascribes the authorship to David, and is accepted by Delitzsch and others. Hengstenberg and his followers see in the picture the ideal righteous man. Others think of Hezekiah or Jeremiah, with whose prophecies and history there are many points of connection. The most recent critics find here the personalised genius of Israel, or more precisely, the followers of Nehemiah, including the large-hearted Psalmist. (Cheyne, Orig. of Psalt., 264.) On any theory of authorship the startling correspondence of the details of the Psalmist's sufferings with those of the Crucifixion has to be accounted for. How startling that correspondence is, both in the number and minuteness of its points, need not be insisted on. The recognition of these points in the Psalm as prophecies is one thing, the determination of their relation to the Psalmist's own experience is quite another. It is taken for granted in many quarters that every such detail in prophecy must describe the writer's own circumstances, and the supposition that they may transcend these is said to be "psychologically impossible." But it is somewhat hazardous for those who have not been subjects of prophetic inspiration to lay down canons of what is possible and impossible in it, and there are examples enough to prove that the relation of the prophets' speech to their consciousness and circumstances was singularly complex, and not to be unravelled by any such obiter dicta as to psychological possibilities. They were recipients of messages, and did not always understand what the "spirit of Christ which was in them did signify." Theories which neglect that aspect of the case do not front all the facts. Certainty as to the authorship of this Psalm is probably unattainable. How far its words fitted the condition of the singer must therefore remain unsettled. But that these minute and numerous correspondences are more than coincidences it seems perverse to deny. The present writer, for one, sees shining through the shadowy personality of the Psalmist the figure of the Prince of sufferers, and believes that whether the former's plaints applied in all their particulars to him, or whether there is in them a certain "element of hyperbole" which becomes simple fact in Jesus's sufferings, the Psalm is a prophecy of Him and them. In the former case the Psalmist's experience, in the latter case his utterances, were divinely shaped so as to prefigure the sacred sorrows of the Man of Sorrows. To a reader who shares in this understanding of the Psalm it must be holy ground, to be trodden reverently and with thoughts adoringly fixed on Jesus. Cold analysis is out of place.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

The exclamation from the Cross — "My God," etc., led us to consider the Lord Jesus as our Surety, standing at His Father's judgment seat, and, conscious of innocence, inquiring what new charge was laid against Him to cause this new and most severe affliction, the hiding of His Father's countenance. We concluded that one reason why our Lord so earnestly cried to His Father was that He might ascribe to Him the glory of His deliverance, being unwilling to appropriate it to Himself by any exertion of His own power. And we found that the whole verse comprised three inquiries, to which we conceived these to be appropriate answers — First, Why hast Thou forsaken Me? Because Thou art bearing the sins of the world. Second, Why art Thou so far from helping Me? That the victory may be altogether Thine own. And third, Why art Thou so far from the words of My roaring? That Thou mayest learn all the required obedience by the things which Thou art suffering. We perceived that our Lord, in continuing His supplications, complained to His Father, but would not complain against Him; and that He fully acquitted Him of unkindness or injustice, by subjoining this filial and beautiful acknowledgment, "But Thou continuest holy." In the fulness of His sorrow our Lord next contrasted His own experience with that of the Father's, whose prayers were heard, and whose expectations were not confounded. He denominated Himself a worm, allied by His human nature to the meanest part of the creation — a crimson-coloured worm, covered with the imputed guilt of men, and He regarded Himself as "no man"; neither what man is by sin, nor what man was intended to be by his Creator. Our Lord's life in the flesh, we saw, might be illustrated by the heathen doctrine of metempsychosis; for He brought the recollections of the world of glory into this state of being; and therefore human life must have appeared, to His eyes, infinitely more mean, wretched, and loathsome than we can possibly conceive. We were next led to contemplate the enumerated mental sufferings of our much-tried Lord — the reproaches with which He was assailed, the mockery by which He was insulted, and the taunts which wounded His spirit to the quick. In the 9th and 10th verses we considered that pathetic and touching appeal which our dying Redeemer made to the heart of His Father, arguing from the helplessness of His infancy to the helplessness of His manhood; and casting the latter upon that paternal care which had provided for the former. We perceived how earnestly our Lord followed up this appeal with renewed entreaty for His Father's presence, expressing this great and only desire of His heart in these words, "Be not far from Me." The corporeal sufferings of the Man of Sorrows were next brought to our notice. The assault and encompassing of His enemies on every side was the first particularised; where also we considered the assaults of Satanic hosts upon the spirit of our Lord. Consequent on this assault succeeded universal faintness over His frame, complete languor and an extreme exhaustion, with intense and burning thirst. The piercing of our Lord's sacred body, in His hands and feet, was then considered, and the lingering death by crucifixion was described. Extended on the Cross, the emaciated state of the Saviour's worn-out frame was exposed to view, and all His bones might be told. In this condition He was subjected to the insulting gaze of the multitude. The soldiers also seized every article of His clothing; they parted His garments among them, and cast lots upon His vesture. Urged by these various and sore afflictions, and desiring with intense anxiety to enjoy again before He died the light and peace of His Father's presence, our blessed Saviour, in the next three verses, prayed with the most vehement importunity for a speedy and immediate answer. And whilst He was yet praying His Father granted His petition. Light dawned upon His soul. Darkness was dispelled from the face of nature, and from the heart of the Redeemer. And, as though issuing from a kind of spiritual death, and enjoying a spiritual resurrection, our Divine Surety exclaimed, "Thou hast heard Me." Importunity prevailed with God. The whole tone of feeling and sentiment in the Psalm becomes changed from this verse. Gratitude and thanksgiving occupy all the remaining portion. The Saviour, as it were, from the Cross, invited the members of His Church to join His eucharistic song He prospectively beheld the conversion of the world and the establishment of His own glorious kingdom. And the Psalm represents the Saviour as solacing His dying spirit, in the midst of His enemies, with the assurance of a holy and numerous seed, who should be counted to Him for a posterity. He heard, as it were, from His Cross, the song of the redeemed.

(John Stevenson.)

This Psalm sets forth the last extremity of human suffering, yet without any confession of sin, and closes with the sure hope of deliverance. We consider it an idealised description of the great Sufferer.

I. THE COMPLAINT (vers. 1-10). The cry with which the Psalm opens is not an utterance of impatience or despair, but of grief and entreaty. It is the question of faith as well as of anguish. The second line suggests the great chasm between His outcry and the help He implores. God stands afar off, i.e. withholds His help. In the olden times the fathers trusted, and were not put to shame; why is the present case made an exception? It is such, for instead of being helped He is left to be reproached and despised; all the spectators join in derision. But faith turns the mock, cry of foes into an argument for deliverance.

II. THE PRAYER AGAINST VIOLENCE (vers. 11-21). Having shown that He was justified in expecting Divine aid, He now shows that the necessity for it exists, It was no time for God to be far off, when distress was so near and there was no other helper. The figures that follow are taken from pastoral life.

III. THE EXPRESSION OF THANKS AND HOPE (vers. 22-31). The Sufferer's certainty of deliverance is shown by His intention to give thanks for it. This will be done, not in private, but before the whole nation The experience here recorded, alike of sorrows and of joy, far transcends anything which we have reason to think that David passed through.

(Talbot W. Chambers, D. D.)

I. THE PRAYER OF SUCH SUFFERER. In Him who was "the Man of Sorrows" it finds its chief fulfilment.

1. The sufferings; they are —(i) Spiritual, through feeling of God's desertion of Him (Matthew 27:46). In regard to Christ, it was not a fact that God had deserted Him, but He felt as if it were so. And of God's disregard of His prayer (ver. 2).(ii) Social, for the Sufferer was the victim of social contempt (ver. 6), and cruelty: "they pierced," etc. (ver. 16), and He tells of the physical effect of all this (vers. 14, 17).

2. The supplications; in which note —(i) The character in which God is addressed — "holy" (ver. 3). The God of His "fathers" (ver. 4), and of His earliest life (ver. 9).(ii) The object for which He is addressed, — that God would come to Him (vers. 11, 19), and that God would deliver Him (ver. 20).(iii) The earnestness with which He is addressed (vers. 1, 2).

II. THE RELIEF GIVEN. See this set forth in ver. 22 onwards. Its results were —

1. The celebration of the Divine goodness (vers. 22, 24).

2. The conversion of the world to the true God (ver. 27). This shall be through

(i)men remembering and turning unto the Lord. And

(ii)because the kingdom is, etc. (ver. 28). And

(iii)it shall be complete, including all nations, classes, and conditions.

3. The celebration of His religion to the end of time (vers. 30, 31). Not only is there a time to come when the whole generation shall be converted, but all the generations following shall celebrate His praise.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

So far, in this Psalm, we have had described to us the mental sufferings of Christ on the Cross; His physical sufferings and His final triumph are set forth in the portion of the Psalm yet to be explained. His mental sufferings were caused by the withdrawal of His Father's sustaining presence, and the reproaches of His enemies. The two united pressed His spirit with a weight of woe such as none besides have ever experienced. sustained by His Father, as He had always hitherto been, He no doubt could have endured the reproaches of men without complaint; but when His Father withdraws His sustaining presence there bursts from His riven heart the agonised cry, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" Why has the Father Almighty forsaken His only begotten Son? For our sakes. For no sin of His Son, but for our sins the Father forsook Him. It was as our surety and substitute that Messiah felt in His soul the wrath of God against sin. He had taken the sinner's place, to endure the wrath of God due to the sinner's sin; and the Father Almighty could not spare His Son and save the sinner. One or the other must die; and God so loved the world that He gave His Son. He forsook His Son that He might not forsake us. Again, the Father Almighty forsook His Son that the Son's victory over death and hell might be altogether His own victory — His own as man, sustained by simple faith in God. It was the Father's purpose to discomfit Satan by the very same nature over which he had triumphed in Eden. Accordingly a holy human nature sustained by faith in God, was the Saviour's only protection and defence in the final conflict. God the Father has left Him, God the Spirit has left Him, and He has also renounced all reliance on His own God-like power to aid Him, so that He stands before His enemies having, as His only weapon of defence, what Adam had in Eden, a holy human nature to be sustained by simple trust in God. A holy human nature, sustained by faith alone, was the weapon with which the first Adam should have conquered Satan; a holy human nature, sustained by faith alone, was the weapon with which the second Adam did conquer Satan. He used no other weapon to gain Him the victory on Calvary, than that which Adam had in Eden. He withstood the onset made upon His holy will and nature, only because His faith in God was steadfast unto the end. And God left Him to Himself, to prove to Satan and the world that a pure heart, sustained by an unwavering faith, is a match, and more than a match, for every assault that can be made upon it. What a thought is this for the soul to rest upon.

(David Caldwell, A. M.)

I. HOW ARE WE TO INTERPRET THESE AWFUL WORDS?

1. Not the cry of a mere martyr.

2. Not wrung from Him by agony of body, but by anguish of soul.

II. WHY THIS CRY OF ANGUISH?

1. His disciples had forsaken Him, but it was not for that. God had forsaken Him. Christ was hanging there as our Surety and Substitute.

2. No other way of explaining this cry. This does explain it. Conflicting attributes in the Godhead to be harmonised before man could be accepted and forgiven. God found a way to reconcile them in the work and suffering of Christ.

III. LEARN FROM THIS CRY —

1. The true nature of Christ's death — a ransom, an atonement.

2. The evil of sin, and how God abhors it.

3. The greatness of God's love, and how we may obtain His mercy.

(W. Pakenham Walsh, D. D.)

Sometimes God takes away from a Christian His comforting presence, but never His sustaining presence. You know the difference between sunshine and daylight. We have often daylight but little sunlight. A Christian has Gods daylight in his soul when he may not have sunlight; that is, he has enough to light him, but not enough to cheer and comfort him. Never was Jesus so forsaken as when He cried, My God, My God, etc., and yet was He never so strengthened by God's sustaining presence, for angels were at His service to minister to Him if He needed their ministry.

(J. Cumming.)

Did you ever read that Christ did finally forsake a man in whose heart and soul He still did leave His goods, furniture, and spiritual household stuff? A man sometimes goes from home, and sometimes he does not quite leave his home. There is much difference between these two. If a man leave his home and come no more, then he carries away all his goods; and when you see them carried away you say, "This man will come no more. But though a man ride a great journey, yet he may come again;" and you say, "Surely he will come again." Why? Because still his goods, wife, and children are in his house; so, though Christ be long absent, yet if His household stuff abide in the heart — if there be the same desires after Him and delight in Him, you may say, "Surely He will come again." When did Christ ever forsake a man in whose heart He left this spiritual furniture?

(S. Bridge.)

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