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" Jacob shall strike his suckers;
This is evidently a scene in the last days, when judgment is about to be executed upon the last enemy of the people of God. Happy, as the daughter of Zion is soon to become through the Lord's protection, as the song congratulates her ; in her own view, no less than in the view of her adversary she is altogether unprepared to meet the expected attack, the issue of which will nevertheless be so glorious to her.
I have been led also to conclude that the hundred and seventh Psalm, or more strictly speaking the concluding part of it, has a reference to this first restoration. The redeemed of the Lord are called upon to proclaim the goodness and never-failing mercy of their deliverer, because “he hath redeemed them from the hand of the enemy, and hath gathered them out of the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south,” or “from the sea.” This gathering of the dispersed family from all lands and every quarter of the globe designates plainly a future restoration, and excludes the exodus from Egypt, or the return from Babylon as the theme of this thanksgiving; for both these gatherings were but in a single direction towards the granted inheritance. In the Psalm before us we seem to distinguish four returning companies of travellers; as far as appears, in the directions enu
merated, from the east and the west, from the north and from the south.
The first company arriving from the east, are contemplated as overtaken in the perils of the wilderness, wandering destitute of food and water. They pray to God in their distress, and are rescued from their imminent perils, and led in safety to the city they were to inhabit.
The second portion which obtain deliverance, whose situation according to the order specified in the third verse, we must look for in the west, are described as in a state of oppression and thraldom, for their disobedience to their God, bound in a dark dungeon, "in affliction and iron :" for their deliverance, at their cry, the gates of brass are broken and the bars of iron cut asunder. * As the metals brass and iron distinguish in symbolical prophecy two of the four universal empires, “whose horns had scattered Judah," the Grecian and the Roman empires; and as their situation is westward of the Holy Land, we are easily led to the inference, that the Spirit of Prophecy here predicts ą termination of the sad captivity and long sojourning of the Jews in these parts of the world.
The third class, whose position should be in the north, are next described.* They are represented as having by their sin and foolishness brought extreme affliction upon themselves, and the instrument of this affliction is spoken of—whether metaphorically or literally—as a pestilential sickness. But
* Ver. 10--16.
+ Ver. 17-20.
they are brought to penitence and prayer, and God “ sendeth out his word and healeth them, and delivereth them from their destructions."
The fourth and last class are described as brought back by the seas: whether from the sea in general, or as the order, the ancient paraphrase, and the conjectures of many critics would induce us to conclude, from the seas to the south of Palestine. These are described as overtaken by tremendous storms and tempests, which bring them to the extreme of fear and danger, so that they are driven to the last resource of the despairing mariner, and call upon the Lord of the elements. Their prayer is heard, the storm is stilled, and they enter with gladness the “ desired haven.”
I should, however, speak doubtingly of any application of what is said respecting these four returning companies to the circumstances of the Jews at their first returning partially, and probably much more obscurely, into the land of their fathers ; I think, however, the remainder of the Psalm is clearly to be applied to a people found in the Holy Land, at or before the return of these four companies “from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.” If their returning be the full gathering of all Israel, there had been a previous gathering, and to the situation of this more partial gathering the remainder of the Psalm is to be referred. In fact, I think we fairly trace three gatherings of dispersed Israel. That first very partial one of which we are inquiring; a second when the enemy is already in the land proceeding to the attack of Jerusalem ; a third when, after the final deliverance has been vouchsafed, the surviving nations willingly combine to bring as a present to Jehovah all his dispersed, which have been anywhere left in any corner of the earth. The description in the former part of the Psalm we have just been considering, most probably belongs to the second gathering in the midst of the last convulsions of the nations. But the remainder of the Psalm is certainly to be applied to the condition and circumstance of that first very partial restoration, by whatever means they had been put in possession of the site of Jerusalem and the Holy Land.
In what follows, God is contemplated as having turned a once well-watered and fruitful country into a dry and barren desert, for the iniquity of them that dwelt therein; and as again converting an arid wilderness into a well-watered and productive soil.*
This, there can be little doubt, has reference to the past, the present and the future condition of the Holy Land. The Scripture testifies its original fruitfulness: It was a "good land flowing with milk and honey,” “a land of hills and valleys that drinketh water from the rain of heaven, a land which the Lord thy God careth for: the eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the heimning of the year even unto the end of the 1,"+ Such was once the blessedness of this
* Ver. 33–35.
+ Deut. xi. 11, &c.
strument of their troubles, after that first and partial return, which we think we have made out from prophecy. And this guides us to the interpretation of the following verse of the Psalm. We see, in these last invaders of the Holy Land, who the princes are that are put to shame by the judgment of God:
40. “He poureth contempt upon princes, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness where there is no way.”
But God, the God of Israel comes to rescue his oppressed and afficted people: “yet setteth he up the poor on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock." From this epocha of depression it should seem begins to be developed the never changing felicity of the restored tribes of Jehovah. The Psalm itself bespeaks the deliverance final: "The righteous shall see it and rejoice : and all iniquity shall stop her mouth.” The closing verse of the Psalm calls upon mankind to fix the deepest attention upon this prophecy, as though its accomplishment would disclose the finishing of the great mystery of God's grace and providence: * Whoso is wise and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving-kindness of Jehovah."