Strap your sword at your side, O mighty warrior; appear in your majesty and splendor.
as they were moved by the Holy Ghost;" this fervour of spirit, urging on the worker as by a power beyond himself to write of "the King," is one of the ways in which the sacred writers were "moved." And there is no reason for refusing to acknowledge the far-reachingness of this psalm, as setting forth beforehand, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the grandeur of our victorious Lord To no one, indeed, but Jesus, can we apply the epithets which are herein used. That a King "higher than the kings of the earth" is foretold in Scripture is certain (see 2 Samuel 7:12-16; 2 Samuel 23:2-5; Psalm 2., 72., 79., 110.). So that it is no wonder to find that such is the case in this psalm, The main difficulty in the psalm - in fact, the only serious one to believing critics - is the fact that the entire passage vers. 10-15 is based on a custom which in the psalmist's time was not only familiar to Orientals, but was even honourable in their eyes, though it would not be deemed so in ours. It would be a coveted honour among maidens to be among the well-beloved ones of an honourable king; for though the queen-consort was the principal wife, yet she was by no means the only one on whom the king bestowed his affection. Even David had six wives. He was not thought the worse of for this. The Law of God did not sanction it, but society did. Hence, though this psalm shoots far ahead to a beauty, a glory, and a majesty beyond the sons of men, yet the ground-plan of its symbolism is found in the usages of Oriental courts at their best. If it was then deemed a high honour for maidens to be among the beloved of a king, how much greater would be the honour of those who should be brought in the far-off times to place their whole selves, body, soul, and spirit, at the absolute disposal of him who would be "King of kings, and Lord of lords"! We may gather up under four heads the main features of this sublime prophetic forecast. In doing so, however, it behoves us to take the Christian expositor's standpoint, and to carry forward the dim and suggestive words here given us, to the fuller and clearer setting of New Testament unfoldings.
I. HERE IS A KING FORESEEN, UNIQUE IN HONOUR AND RENOWN. That the sacred writers were familiar with the thought of a King who should come into the world, surpassing all others, we have seen above; this is shown in the passages to which reference has already been made. But even if such passages were fewer and less clear than they are, the amazing combination of expressions in the psalm before us is such, that to none other than the Son of God can they possibly be applied with any semblance of reason. But as we think of him, every term fails in place. Let us take each expression in order. There are no fewer than twelve of them.
1. There is beauty. (Ver. 2.) A beauty beyond that of the sons of men. This points to one who is above the race. And verily the beauty of the Lord Jesus is one of his unnumbered charms. He is the "chief among ten thousand, the altogether lovely."
3. The fullest blessings descend continually upon him (ver. 2; cf. John 3:34).
4. There are the glory and majesty of royal state (ver. 3). For "with" read "even" ('Variorum Bible'). The sword to be girded on his thigh as for war (see Delitzsch) is his glory and his majestic state. With these he will go forth, conquering and to conquer.
5. His cause is that of truth, meekness, and righteousness. (Ver. 4.) No other king ever combined these in perfection, nor even at all. "Meekness is about the very last thought associated with earthly kings (but see Matthew 11:29).
7. His arrows would be sharp in the hearts of his enemies (ver. 5), and the peoples (plural, Revised Version)would fall beneath him. He should have universal sway, and not over Israel only.
8. He should be God, and yet be anointed by God. (Vers. 6, 7.) How enigmatical before fulfilment! How fully realized in our Immanuel, in him who is at once God and man, David's Son, yet David's Lord!
9. His throne should be eternal. (Ver. 6.) Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever" (cf. Hebrews 1:8, 9).
10. His sceptre should be a sceptre of righteousness. (Vers. 6, 7.) This is preeminently true; so much so that even those who acknowledge him as Lord, and who have yet been destitute of righteousness, will be rejected (Matthew 7:22, 23).
11. He would receive a higher anointing than that of others (ver. 7; Acts 4:27; Acts 10:38; Luke 4:18). 12. Associated with his coming would be fragrance, music, and joy (ver. 8, Revised Version). Surely the gladness and song that gather round this King surpass all other gladness and all other songs that earth has ever known. No widow's wail, no orphan's sigh, attend on the conquests of this King. He conquers but to save. And the joy! oh, how great! Joy among the saved (1 Peter 1:8). Joy among the saints (1 John 1:4). Joy among the angels (Luke 20:10). Joy in the heart of the Father and the Son (Luke 15:32). Joy for ever and ever (Isaiah 35:10). What a magnificent forecast, hundreds of years beforehand! Who dares to deny the supernatural with such a fact before him?
II. HERE IS THE KING'S BRIDE. (Ver. 9.) What can the psalmist mean by the bride of such a King, but the Church of his love (see Ephesians 5:23-32)? The following features, if worked out, would greatly exceed the space at our command.
1. She forsakes her Father's house, to be joined to this King, and leaves all her old associates behind her (ver. 10).
2. She is wedded to him (ver. 11, "He is thy Lord").
3. She is devoted to him (ver. 11).
4. She is decorated with finest gold (ver. 9), and is at the place of honour by his side.
5. Her attendants should come from the nations, with their offerings of devotion (ver. 12).
III. HERE IS THE KING'S OFFSPRING. (Ver. 16.) The sacrifice which the bride had made for the sake of the King shall be more than recompensed by her having children, who should gather round her, and who should become "princes in the earth" (1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10; Revelation 20:6).
IV. HERE IS FORETOLD THE KING'S UNIVERSAL AND ENDLESS PRAISE. (Ver. 17.) Though the verse seems to be addressed immediately to the bride, evidently the carrying forward of the name to generation after generation is an honour chiefly of the King, and results from the bridal union. And the praise which shall accrue will be from the peoples (Revised Version), from all the nations; and this praise will be for ever and ever (Psalm 72:17). "Christ's espousing unto himself a Church, and gathering more and more from age to age by his Word and Spirit unto it, his converting of souls, and bringing them into the fellowship of his family, and giving unto them princely minds and affections wherever they live, are large matters of growing and everlasting glory" (Dickson). Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever." - C.
I. THE APPELLATION BY WHICH HE ADDRESSES CHRIST. "Most Mighty."
I. CONFIDENCE IN THE POWER OF CHRIST TO VANQUISH THE SOULS OF MEN.
Gird Thy sword upon Thy thigh, O most mighty.I. THE WARRIOR. The fact that He is no less than a Divine being, although for a specific purpose He assumed our nature, distinctly intimates that He should be known as the mighty God; while the power that has been given to Him as the Mediator, and the wonders He has accomplished in magnifying the law, bringing in an everlasting righteousness, spoiling principalities and powers, and destroying him that had the power of death demonstrates that, with the greatest propriety, He may be styled "the most Mighty One." "War is the garb in which He often arrays Himself when He goes forth to scourge the guilty nations of the earth." In this respect He is styled "the Captain of the Lord's host"; and described as "a man of war," and then it is emphatically added "the Lord is His name." He is Jehovah; Jehovah Zabaoth, "The Lord of Hosts," to show that the armies of earth and the hosts of heaven are under His control. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords; the King of glory; the Lord strong and mighty; the Lord mighty in battle. In the contest to which He is called, He never can be mistaken, for "the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hid in Him"; and it is just as impossible that He can ever be defeated, for He is "the power of God," as well as "the wisdom of God."
II. HIS ENEMIES.
1. Those apostate spirits who are described as "principalities and powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places." Having fallen from their first estate, their minds are filled with implacable hostility to the Redeemer.
2. Those who persecute the followers of Christ.
3. Those who uphold any system of religious faith opposed to the spirit and design of Christianity.
4. All who have not yet experienced the renewing influences of the Spirit of God, and who demonstrate by their conduct that they are of the world lying in iniquity.
5. All who despise the institutions of grace.
III. HIS ARMOUR. As His kingdom is spiritual in its nature, the weapons by which its interests are to be maintained are also spiritual. The sword which Messiah girds upon his thigh signifies the Holy Scriptures, elsewhere styled "the sword of the Spirit." But the sword is not the only instrument with which the Saviour goes forth against His enemies. Like an ancient warrior He bears a bow and a quiver replenished with arrows, calculated to do terrible execution against the enemy. By these "arrows," we understand the announcements of the Gospel.
IV. HIS EXPEDITION AGAINST HIS ENEMIES,
V. HIS VICTORY.
1. Behold the conquest of the powers of darkness upon Calvary, when, according to ancient prophecy, the Saviour bruised the head of Satan and weakened the whole energies of his kingdom (Colossians 2:14).
2. Then, again, how terribly did the Saviour act towards the Jewish nation. The cup of their iniquity at length became full, and then their capital, in which they had maltreated the Lord of Glory, was consigned to destruction; they were driven forth as homeless wanderers throughout the world.
3. Notice the victory which Christ has gained in establishing His kingdom upon earth.
1. See the dignity and glory of the Captain of salvation.
2. Consider the danger of opposing Christ.
3. Contemplate the gracious character of the conquests of Christ.
4. Rejoice in the perfection and glory to which the Church shall be brought through the omnipotence and grace of Christ.
1. The first direct and decided foe over which He triumphed was the Jewish Church. That corrupt Church murdered the Son of God. But He was silent only a little more than forty-eight hours, and then rose to speak to men, and lives to speak through men, till all nations shall hear His voice, understand and believe.
2. The political power of Rome. The Jews condemned Jesus according to their law because He was a blasphemer; but as they had lost the power of capital punishment they appealed to Rome, saying, Help us to put this man to death. Pilate became a tool in their hands, and condemned the "Just One," but He triumphed over both.
3. The ungodly world. The spirit, theories, institutions, habits and pursuits of unregenerated humanity are in deadly opposition to Christ. But He will conquer, "He must reign."
II. SYMPATHY WITH THE CAUSE IN WHICH HE WAS EMBARKED. What is the cause?
1. Truth; less party zeal, and more zeal for truth.
2. Righteousness; an unjust man is not a soldier of Christ.
3. Meekness; fidelity. Soldiers of the Cross, the Redeemer must triumph.
III. A DEVOUT APPEAL TO HEAVEN. "Gird thy sword."
1. A living faith in the present life of Christ. "We are justified by His death, we are saved by His life."
2. A renunciation of all instruments, except those that are His. Carnal weapons have been foolishly and wickedly used in the cause of Christ — cannons, soldiers; and what an insult! what falsehood!
1. With respect to His Divine nature, Christ is the Mighty God; the Lord Jehovah, in whose arm dwells everlasting strength, Nor is it less applicable to Him considered as mediator. In this character He is Immanuel, God with us. He is mighty to conquer; for He has led captivity captive; He has conquered sin, and death, and hell — the three most formidable enemies that ever assailed the happiness of men, or the throne of God. Nor is He less mighty to save; for He has saved millions from the most awful fate, in the most desperate circumstances. He says of Himself, "I am He that speaketh in righteousness, mighty to save."
2. The import of the petition is, in brief, that He would exert His might, or the power of His grace, for the conversion and salvation of sinners.(1) That He would arm Himself with the necessary weapons. "Gird on Thy sword." Christ has a sword of justice, to cut off incorrigible offenders; and a sword of grace, to subdue His chosen people, and make them willing in the day of His power.(2) The psalmist petitions Christ to go arrayed in His glory and majesty; that glory and majesty with which he then saw Him to be clothed. But in what do the glory and majesty of Christ consist? I answer, glory is the display or manifestation of excellency. His glory, as God, consists in a display of the infinite perfections and excellencies of His nature. His glory, as man, consists in the perfect holiness of His heart and life. His glory, as God and man united in one person, the mediator, consists in His perfect fitness to perform all those works which the office of mediator requires of Him. He possesses everything necessary to satisfy the justice and secure the honour of God. He also possesses everything necessary to excite, encourage, and justify the highest love, admiration, and confidence of sinful men; for in Him all fulness dwell, even all the fulness of the Godhead. There is in him a fulness of truth to enlighten sinners and lead them to believe in Him. He has also a fulness of grace to pardon, sanctify and save them. Now, the display or manifestation of this infinite fulness of grace and truth constitutes the glory in which the psalmist wished Christ to appear. He wished Him also to appear in His majesty. The difference between majesty and glory consists in this: glory is something which belongs either to the person or the character of a being; but majesty is more properly an attribute of office, especially of the regal office. This office Christ sustains. He is exalted to be a Prince as well as a Saviour; He is King of kings and Lord of lords; and it is principally in His character of a king that He subdues His enemies and dispenses pardon.(3) Next, the psalmist prays, that being thus armed with His powerful sword, and arrayed in His glory and majesty, Christ would ride forth through the world, conquering and to conquer.
II. THE REASONS WHY THE PSALMIST WISHED THE SAVIOUR TO GO FORTH PROSPEROUSLY AND THE CAUSE IN WHICH HE WISHED HIM TO ENGAGE. DO this "because of truth, and meekness and righteousness."
1. He might, perhaps, intend the truth, meekness and righteousness of Christ Himself; for all these qualities belong to Him in the highest degrees.
2. By meekness, truth and righteousness the psalmist might mean these qualities in the abstract; and if this be His meaning, we must understand Him as specifying the cause in which he wished Immanuel to engage.
III. To enforce his petition the psalmist predicts THE CERTAIN SUCCESS WHICH WOULD ATTEND MESSIAH IF HE THUS RODE FORTH TO BATTLE. "Thy right hand shall teach Thee terrible things;" that is, Thou shalt know experimentally what terrible things Thy power can perform.
1. The destruction with which He shall overwhelm His incorrigible enemies.
2. There are also many terrible things which attend, or rather precede, the conquest of those whom He makes willing to be His people in the day of His power. He sends His spirit to convince them of sin, of righteousness and judgment; sets His terrors in dreadful array round about them, and often brings them to the very verge of despair before they submit, and cry for mercy. That these are terrible things, indeed, to the awakened sinner, none who have suffered thus need be told; and such are the terrible things which the right hand or power of Christ performs when He rides forth to battle as the Captain of salvation.
(E. Payson, D. D.)
1. The sword, a heavy, massive weapon for close engagement, and inflicting terrible wounds.
2. The arrow, a light missile used to annoy the enemy at a distance. It comes whizzing through the air unseen, causes but a small wound, and is scarcely felt till its sharp point reaches the heart.
3. Now, both are emblems of one and the same thing — the Word of God. For the Word has this twofold power of wounding, sometimes as the sword, sometimes as the arrow. The first, the Word of terror, is the sword girt upon Messiah's thigh; the second, the Word of persuasion, is the arrow shot from His bow. And thus, by the joint action of these two weapons, "peoples," that is, whole kingdoms and nations in a mass, "shall fall under Thee," shall submit themselves to Christ.
II. THE DEFENSIVE ARMOUR is to be noted (ver. 8), the "refulgent, dazzling armour." This tells of whatever is admirable and amiable in the external form and appearance of the Christian religion.
1. The character of Jesus Himself.
2. The light of good works shining in the lives of His disciples.
3. Whatever is decent and seemly in the government, the discipline and the rites of the Church,
III. "THE WONDERS" WHICH HIS OWN RIGHT HAND WAS TO SHOW HIM are to be explained. Not "terrible things," as the Authorized Version has it, for there is no notion of terror in the Word as here used; but of things extraordinary in their kind — grand, amazing, awful. In some of the oldest English Bibles we have here the better chosen word, "wonderful." Now, the "wonders" which Messiah's "own right hand" showed Him were the overthrow of Paganism and the Roman empire, and that by such seemingly inadequate means. It was, indeed, a wonderful thing, wrought by Christ's single arm, when his religion prevailed over the whole system of idolatry, supported as it was by the authority of sovereigns, by the learning of philosophers, and most of all, by the inveterate prejudices of the vulgar, attached to their false gods by the gratification which their very worship afforded to the sensual passions, and by the natural partiality of mankind in favour of any system, however absurd and corrupt, sanctioned by a long antiquity. It was a wonderful thing when the devil's kingdom, with much of its invisible power, lost at once the whole of its external pomp and splendour. It was a wonderful thing when the minds of all men took a sudden turn; kings became the nursing fathers of the Church, statesmen courted her alliance, philosophy embraced her faith, and even the sword was justly drawn in her defence. These were the wonderful things effected by Christ's right hand. And in the later ages there will be terrible things also achieved by Him, when Antichrist and his armies shall be overthrown. Then in verses 6 and 7 we have —
IV. THE KING SEATED ON THE THRONE OF HIS MEDIATORIAL KINGDOM, ruling in perfect justice. The sceptre was an emblem of the perfect integrity of the monarch in the exercise of his power. Well, therefore, is it said, ver. 6, "A straight sceptre is the sceptre of Thy royalty." Earthly kings can never be perfectly just, for they are all liable to error and deception. But in the kingdom of Messiah there shall be no imperfection in His rule, and therefore He is anointed by God with the oil of gladness above all others. This declaration is, with the greatest propriety, applied to Christ in the Epistle to the Hebrews and made an argument of His Divinity. Thus ends this section of this psalm.
(Bishop Horsley.)I. WHENCE IT IS OUR LORD JESUS IS DESIGNED "MOST MIGHTY."
1. He is so from the omnipotent power of His Divine nature, which is the principal of His mighty operations in the union of His person (Isaiah 9:6.)
2. He is mighty from the authority and power that was communicated and given unto Him by the Father, as Mediator, for the accomplishing of His whole work. Christ had strength and power as "the mighty God"; and He hath authority too, as all power is communicated to Him by God the Father (Matthew 28:18). And concerning the power given Him by the Father, the apostle tells us (Ephesians 2:22, 23).
3. He may justly be designed "most mighty" from what He has done, not only in giving being and existence to all things, as God equal with the Father; but also considered as Mediator.
II. IN WHAT RESPECTS THE WORD OF CHRIST MAY BE COMPARED TO A SWORD.
1. For defence of His people.(1) Our Lord Jesus defends His subjects from their persecutors by His Word and Spirit. Whatever persecutors may be permitted to do with the bodies of any of God's saints, their souls, against which the shot of their enemies is chiefly aimed, are still in safeguard.(2) By His Word and Spirit He defends His people from the deceit and cunning craftiness of those who lie in wait to deceive them.(3) Our Lord Jesus defends His people from all their inward enemies by His Word and Spirit.(4) It is by means of the Word our Lord Jesus supports, comforts and bears up His people under all the tribulations in their house of pilgrimage.
III. SOME THINGS IMPLIED IN HIS GIRDING ON HIS SWORD.
1. His appointing ordinances in the Church.
2. His calling, fitting and qualifying a Gospel ministry to bear His name before sinners. Faithful ministers are the gift of Christ to the Church (Ephesians 4:10, 11, 12).
3. His accompanying the dispensation of all His ordinances with the power and efficacy of His Spirit.
IV. WHY THE SWORD OF CHRIST, WHICH IS HIS WORD, IS CALLED HIS GLORY AND MAJESTY.
3. Because He therein manifests His glory unto us.
4. Because of the glorious and majestic effects it has upon the hearts and consciences of men.
1. Inferences.(1) We may see and he informed when it is that our Lord Jesus has gone through with the arduous work of men's redemption and salvation to the glory of God and eternal consolation of all the spiritual Israel (Romans 9:5).(2) We may see what a safe and happy people they are who have fled unto Christ by faith for refuge.(3) We may see the egregious folly of all who endeavour to stand in the way of the advancement of the kingdom and interests of Christ.(4) We may see with what reverence and attention men should both read the Word of God and hear it read and preached unto them (Hebrews 12:25).(5) We may see matter of reproof to those who do not only slight and neglect the Word of Christ, but profane and abuse it.
2. Of trial and examination. What experience have you got of the powerful effects of the Word of Christ upon your hearts?
3. Of exhortation.(1) We exhort you, who are the true subjects of the mighty Captain of our salvation, who have been subdued to the obedience of faith by the powerful efficacy of His Word and Spirit, to be faithful to Him; "endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ."(2) We exhort all who are yet at war with this mighty One to take a believing view of the glory of His person, the greatness of His love, the riches of His grace and suitableness of His offices to the condition of your souls; and drop the weapons of your rebellion at His feet.
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