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THE QUIET HAVEN.
We have now reached the close of this instructive Psalm—the last entry in the experience of the Royal Exile. Here is the grand summing up—“the conclusion of the whole matter.” The curtain falls over the scene of conflict, leaving the believer triumphant. As he began with prayer, he now ends with praise; as he began with weeping, he now ends with rejoicing; as he began mourning over the loss of his God, he ends exulting in Him as “ the health of his countenance.” We are reminded of the Great Apostle reaching, by successive steps in his high argument, new altitudes of faith and hope,-beginning with "no condemnation,” till he ends with “no separation,"--mounting with loftier sweep and bolder pinion, till, far above the mists and clouds of the lower valley, he can utter the challenge, “Who shall separate me from the love of Christ ?” Joyful is it when a protracted war, which has been draining a nation's resources and rifling its homes, is drawing to a close, -when an army, amid hostile tribes, and the more fatal ravages of a hostile climate, has succeeded in trampling out the ashes of rebellion, and is returning triumphant from hard-contested fields of valour. Joyful is it when a noble vessel, that has for long been wrestling with the storm, enters at last the desired haven, —when the voyagers, who for hours of anxiety and terror have been hanging with bated breath between life and death, can now pass the gladdening watchword from mouth to mouth—“Thank God, we are safe!” Joyful, too, when the tried believer, as described in this Psalm,—“persecuted, but not forsaken ; cast down, but not destroyed,”—has surmounted wave after wave, that has been threatening to sweep him from his footing on the Rock, and is made “more than conqueror through Him that loved him !” The wounded Hart we found in the opening verse bounding through the forest glades, hit by the archers, with glazed eye and panting sides, has now reached the coveted Water-brooks ;the fainting soul is now drinking at the great fountainhead of consolation and joy. We have elsewhere
* Romans viii.
an appropriate inspired comment on the whole Psalm, with its successive experiences : “Many are the afflictions of the righteous : but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.”*
This concluding verse is so far a repetition of the fifth ; and yet, as we cursorily noted in the introductory chapter, there is an important difference between them, to which we may again for a moment advert. In the former, it is on the part of the speaker the language of faith in the midst of despondency, expressing assurance that something will be his, which he has not yet attained : “Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.” In the latter, he summons his soul to the exercise of the same hope and confidence; but he now can exult in the realised possession of God's favour and love—“Who is the health of my countenance." Nay, more, in the fifth verse he stops with the words, “my countenance;" but in the closing verse, he adds the expression of appropriating faith and triumphant assurance. It is the Key-stone of the arch. Two little words, which, like the ciphers following the unit, give an
* Psalm xxxiv. 19.
augmented value to all that goes before !—“My GOD!" The two last divine expedients to which he had resorted (faith and prayer) have not been in vain. They have loaded the cloud of mercy, and it bursts upon the suppliant in a shower of blessing!
The 22d Psalm has been referred by commentators to this same period of exile among the tains of Gilead. There is much to confirm this supposition in the general tone of the Psalm, as well as in its incidental references. There is the same deep, anguished depression of spirit,-words, indeed, denoting such an intensity of sorrow, that, though primarily applicable to David, we must look for their true exponent in the case of a Greater Sufferer. The challenge, “Where is thy God ?” of the 42d, seems echoed back in the 22d by the mournful appeal, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?"
But in the latter, as in the former, (ere it closes) light breaks through the thick darkness. By a a similar exercise of faith and prayer, the Royal Mourner triumphs. “ Deliver my soul,” says he, “ from the sword; my darling from the power
of the dog. Save me from the lion's mouth.” (Ver. 20,
21.) The prayer is heard while he is yet speaking ! At this point of the Psalm, the language all at once passes from complaint into exultation—from prayer into praise ; and the voice of victory rises higher and higher, till it reaches the close. God has taken off his sackcloth, and girded him with gladness. He already anticipates the happy time when again he shall be the leader of the festal throng on the heights of Zion. “ Thou hast heard me," is his opening burst of triumph, “ from the horns of the unicorns. I will declare Thy name unto my brethren : in the midst of the congregation will I praise Thee. . . . . My praise shall be of Thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear Him."*
Nay, further; what Psalm succeeds the 22d ? Is it mere accidental arrangement which has given the beautiful 23d (the best known and loved of all David's Psalms) the immediate sequence? Is it a mere devout imagination which leads us to regard it (from the place it occupies in the Psalter) as the next his hand penned and his lips sung, after these plaintive elegies? This Song of the chosen flock
* Psalm xxii. 21, 22, 25.