Psalms 22; 118: Songs of the Lord's Life
An old Bible is precious which mother or father or some dear friend has used for years. The well-worn pages show what Gospel chapters and what Psalms they have loved and read often for comfort and help. It gives a wonderful interest to the Psalms and makes them wonderfully precious to know that the Lord as a boy and as a man found strength and comfort in them. He could say more truly than anyone else, "O how I love Thy law! it is my meditation all the day. How sweet are Thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!"
There is one Psalm, the 22nd, which describes the crucifixion of the Lord almost as plainly as it is described in the Gospels. It begins with the words spoken by the Lord at that time: "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" It says, "They pierced my hands and my feet. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture." But later verses of the Psalm have a tone of victory and rejoicing. The Lord had gained a victory for all the world and for all time to come.
Do you remember when the Lord had kept the Passover and the Holy Supper with the disciples, it is said, "And when they had sung a hymn they went out into the Mount of Olives"? (Matt. 26:30; Mark 14:26) It was a Psalm that they sang, and probably it was Psalm 118, which was usually the last of the songs sung in keeping the Passover.
The psalms in their highest sense are songs of the Lord's life. Remember how on Easter Day, after walking with two disciples to Emmaus and opening to them the Scriptures, the Lord stood in the midst of the disciples in Jerusalem and opened to them in the law of Moses and in the prophets and in the Psalms things concerning Himself. (Luke 24:44) The Psalms are songs of the Lord's life. They are full of His love.
The Psalms are often bound with the Gospels. We feel that they belong together, there is so much of the spirit of the Gospels in the Psalms. Several facts also help to connect the Psalms closely with the Gospels:
1. On the evening of the Easter Day, the Lord opened to the disciples in the Psalms things concerning Himself. (Luke 24:44)
2. The Lord in His teaching referred to particular Psalms as prophetic of Himself. He said to the priests in the temple, "Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?" (Matt. 21:42) Find this in Ps. 118. In Matt. 22:41-45, the Lord quoted words of David as showing His Divineness. You find them in Ps, 110:1-2.
3. Some Psalms plainly refer to the Lordís life. What event of the Lord's life does Ps. 22 describe? Find reference to the same event also in Ps. 69:21. This link of connection between the Psalms and Gospels is strengthened by direct reference in John's Gospel to these crucifixion prophecies in the Psalms. (John 19:24, 28)
4. David, as we have often seen, represents the Lord, especially in His conflicts and victories. Developing this thought, this sentence stands before the interpretation of the Psalms in Swedenborg's work, Prophets and Psalms: "It is to be observed that since by David is understood the Lord, therefore wherever David speaks in the Psalms the Lord is signified in the spiritual sense, as in many other places which may be adduced." As we read the Psalms of David, with expressions of David's humiliation or rejoicing, with professions of his steadfastness and virtue, often we shall think not of David but of the Lord. It is to keep us mindful that the Psalms are about the Lord that the order of service in our Book of Worship suggests following the reading of the Psalm by the Doxology: "To Jesus Christ the Lord be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." The Psalms have a wonderful interest and power when we read them as songs of the Lord's life.
The style of the Psalms is spoken of in A. 66 as intermediate between the prophetical style and common speech. The same number also says, "The Lord is there treated of in the internal sense under the person of David as King." The fact that David represents the Lord is much developed in Doctrine of the Lord and in no. 44 with special reference to the Psalms: "He who knows that the Lord is meant by David may know why David in the Psalms wrote so often concerning the Lord when concerning himself." Ps. 89 is quoted at length with reference also to Ps. 45, 122, 132. E. 205 cites Ps. 89:3-5 showing that the promise, "I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn unto David My servant, Thy seed will I establish forever, and build up thy throne to all generations," is not applicable to David but to the Lord and His kingdom, the seed of David meaning those who are in truth from good from the Lord.
If we think of the Lord when we read the words of David and when David is mentioned in the Psalms, how fully the Psalms will be to us songs of the Lord's life! Ps. 16 had some meaning in David's experience, but it found its fullest meaning in the resurrection of the Lord. Ps. 18 and 101 contained expressions of steadfastness and perfection not applicable to David, but to the Lord. The Psalms went far beyond the experience of David or other Psalmists, to express affections of the Lord's life: and this could be because, as David testified, "The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and His word was in my tongue." (2 Sam. 23:2)
Read Ps. 22 as prophetic of the Lord's crucifixion. The verses of triumph at the close draw aside the veil and reveal a peace and strength of victory more than any Gospel shows. Can we read on and see in Ps. 23, which we love so well, an expression of the Divine peace following victory for the Lord? Can we read in Ps. 24 of the Lord's ascension and glorification?
Ps. 139, "O Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me," is explained in Prophets and Psalms as a song of the Lords life, revealing relations of the Lord with the Father, His union with the Father, and His sinlessness. Read as the Lord's, the last verses of the Psalm.
Read Ps. 118, which we have thought of as the hymn sung by the Lord and His disciples as they left the table and Holy Supper for Gethsemane. It is plain in its references to the Lord. This Psalm also is explained in Prophets and Psalms as a song in praise of the Father by the Lord for the church. It is magnificent in its expressions of victorious strength, especially when we think of it as the Lord's song on the night of the last Passover and Gethsemane.