The same that began the psalm complaining, who was no other than Christ in his humiliation, ends it here triumphing, and it can be no other than Christ in his exaltation. And, as the first words of the complaint were used by Christ himself upon the cross, so the first words of the triumph are expressly applied to him (Heb. 2:12) and are made his own words: I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. The certain prospect which Christ had of the joy set before him not only gave him a satisfactory answer to his prayers, but turned his complaints into praises; he saw of the travail of his soul, and was well satisfied, witness that triumphant word wherewith he breathed his last: It is finished.
Five things are here spoken of, the view of which were the satisfaction and triumph of Christ in his sufferings:—
I. That he should have a church in the world, and that those that were given him from eternity should, in the fulness of time, be gathered in to him. This is implied here; that he should see his seed, Isa. 53:10. It pleased him to think, 1. That by the declaring of God’s name, by the preaching of the everlasting gospel in its plainness and purity, many should be effectually called to him and to God by him. And for this end ministers should be employed to publish this doctrine to the world, and they should be much his messengers and his voice that their doing it should be accounted his doing it; their word is his, and by them he declares God’s name. 2. That those who are thus called in should be brought into a very near and dear relation to him as his brethren; for he is not only not ashamed, but greatly well pleased, to call them so; not the believing Jews only, his countrymen, but those of the Gentiles also who became fellow–heirs and of the same body, Heb. 2:11. Christ is our elder brother, who takes care of us, and makes provision for us, and expects that our desire should be towards him and that we should be willing he should rule over us. 3. That these his brethren should be incorporated into a congregation, a great congregation; such is the universal church, the whole family that is named from him, unto which all the children of God that were scattered abroad are collected, and in which they are united (John 11:52, Eph. 1:10), and that they should also be incorporated into smaller societies, members of that great body, many religious assemblies for divine worship, on which the face of Christianity should appear and in which the interests of it should be supported and advanced. 4. That these should be accounted the seed of Jacob and Israel (Ps. 22:23), that on them, though Gentiles, the blessing of Abraham might come (Gal. 3:14), and to them might pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenant, and the service of God, as much as ever they did to Israel according to the flesh, Rom. 9:4, Heb. 8:10. The gospel church is called the Israel of God, Gal. 6:16.
II. That God should be greatly honoured and glorified in him by that church. His Father’s glory was that which he had in his eye throughout his whole undertaking (John 17:4), particularly in his sufferings, which he entered upon with this solemn request, Father, glorify thy name, John 12:27, 28. He foresees with pleasure, 1. That God would be glorified by the church that should be gathered to him, and that for this end they should be called and gathered in that they might be unto God for a name and a praise. Christ by his ministers will declare God’s name to his brethren, as God’s mouth to them, and then by them, as the mouth of the congregation to God, will God’s name be praised. All that fear the Lord will praise him (Ps. 22:23), even every Israelite indeed. See Ps. 118:2-4; Ps. 135:19, 20. The business of Christians, particularly in their solemn religious assemblies, is to praise and glorify God with a holy awe and reverence of his majesty, and therefore those that are here called upon to praise God are called upon to fear him. 2. That God would be glorified in the Redeemer and in his undertaking. Therefore Christ is said to praise God in the church, not only because he is the Master of the assemblies in which God is praised, and the Mediator of all the praises that are offered up to God, but because he is the matter of the church’s praise. See Eph. 3:21. All our praises must centre in the work of redemption and a great deal of reason we have to be thankful, (1.) That Jesus Christ was owned by his Father in his undertaking, notwithstanding the apprehension he was sometimes under that his Father had forsaken him. (Ps. 22:24): For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted one (that is, of the suffering Redeemer), but has graciously accepted it as a full satisfaction for sin, and a valuable consideration on which to ground the grant of eternal life to all believers. Though it was offered for us poor sinners, he did not despise nor abhor him that offered it for our sakes; nor did he turn his face from him that offered it, as Saul was angry with his own son because he interceded for David, whom he looked upon as his enemy. But when he cried unto him, when his blood cried for peace and pardon for us, he heard him. This, as it is the matter of our rejoicing, ought to be the matter of our thanksgiving. Those who have thought their prayers slighted and unheard, if they continue to pray and wait, will find they have not sought in vain. (2.) That he himself will go on with his undertaking and complete it. Christ says, I will pay my vows, Ps. 22:25. Having engaged to bring many sons to glory, he will perform his engagement to the utmost, and will lose none.
III. That all humble gracious souls should have a full satisfaction and happiness in him, Ps. 22:26. It comforted the Lord Jesus in his sufferings that in and through him all true believers should have everlasting consolation. 1. The poor in spirit shall be rich in blessings, spiritual blessings; the hungry shall be filled with good things. Christ’s sacrifice being accepted, the saints shall feast upon the sacrifice, as, under the law, upon the peace–offerings, and so partake of the altar: The meek shall eat and be satisfied, eat of the bread of life, feed with an appetite upon the doctrine of Christ’s mediation, which is meat and drink to the soul that knows its own nature and case. Those that hunger and thirst after righteousness in Christ shall have all they can desire to satisfy them and make them easy, and shall not labour, as they have done, for that which satisfies not. 2. Those that are much in praying shall be much in thanksgiving: Those shall praise the Lord that seek him, because through Christ they are sure of finding him, in the hopes of which they have reason to praise him even while they are seeking him, and the more earnest they are in seeking him the more will their hearts be enlarged in his praises when they have found him. 3. The souls that are devoted to him shall be for ever happy with him: “Your heart shall live for ever. Yours that are meek, that are satisfied in Christ, that continue to seek God; what ever becomes of your bodies, your hearts shall live for ever; the graces and comforts you have shall be perfected in everlasting life. Christ has said, Because I live, you shall live also, (John 14:19); and therefore that life shall be as sure and as long as his.”
IV. That the church of Christ, and with it the kingdom of God among men, should extend itself to all the corners of the earth and should take in all sorts of people.
1. That it should reach far (Ps. 22:27, 28), that, whereas the Jews had long been the only professing people of God, now all the ends of the world should come into the church, and, the partition–wall being taken down, the Gentiles should be taken in. It is here prophesied, (1.) That they should be converted: They shall remember, and turn to the Lord. Note, Serious reflection is the first step, and a good step it is towards true conversion. We must consider and turn. The prodigal came first to himself, and then to his father. (2.) That then they should be admitted into communion with God and with the assemblies that serve him; They shall worship before thee, for in every place incense shall be offered to God, Mal. 1:11; Isa. 66:23. Those that turn to God will make conscience of worshipping before him. And good reason there is why all the kindreds of nations should do homage to God, for (Ps. 22:28) the kingdom is the Lord’s; his, and his only, is the universal monarchy. [1.] The kingdom of nature is the Lord Jehovah’s, and his providence rules among the nations, and upon that account we are bound to worship him; so that the design of the Christian religion is to revive natural religion and its principles and laws. Christ died to bring us to God, the God that made us, from whom we had revolted, and to reduce us to our native allegiance. [2.] The kingdom of grace is the Lord Christ’s, and he, as Mediator, is appointed governor among the nations, head over all things to his church. Let every tongue therefore confess that he is Lord.
2. That it should include many of different ranks, Ps. 22:29. High and low, rich and poor, bond and free, meet in Christ. (1.) Christ shall have the homage of many of the great ones. Those that are fat upon the earth, that live in pomp and power, shall eat and worship; even those that fare deliciously, when they have eaten and are full, shall bless the Lord their God for their plenty and prosperity. (2.) The poor also shall receive his gospel: Those that go down to the dust, that sit in the dust (Ps. 113:7), that can scarcely keep life and soul together, shall bow before him, before the Lord Jesus, who reckons it his honour to be the poor man’s King (Ps. 72:12) and whose protection does, in a special manner, draw their allegiance. Or this may be understood in general of dying men, whether poor or rich. See then what is our condition—we are going down to the dust to which we are sentenced and where shortly we must make our bed. Nor can we keep alive our own souls; we cannot secure our own natural life long, nor can we be the authors of our own spiritual and eternal life. It is therefore our great interest, as well as duty, to bow before the Lord Jesus, to give up ourselves to him to be his subjects and worshippers; for this is the only way, and it is a sure way, to secure our happiness when we go down to the dust. Seeing we cannot keep alive our own souls, it is our wisdom, by an obedient faith, to commit our souls to Jesus Christ, who is able to save them and keep them alive for ever.
V. That the church of Christ, and with it the kingdom of God among men, should continue to the end, through all the ages of time. Mankind is kept up in a succession of generations; so that there is always a generation passing away and a generation coming up. Now, as Christ shall have honour from that which is passing away and leaving the world (Ps. 22:29, those that go down to the dust shall bow before him, and it is good to die bowing before Christ; blessed are the dead who thus die in the Lord), so he shall have honour from that which is rising up, and setting out, in the world, Ps. 22:30. Observe, 1. Their application to Christ: A seed shall serve him, shall keep up the solemn worship of him and profess and practice obedience to him as their Master and Lord. Note, God will have a church in the world to the end of time; and, in order to that, there shall be a succession of professing Christians and gospel ministers from generation to generation. A seed shall serve him; there shall be a remnant, more or less, to whom shall pertain the service of God and to whom God will give grace to serve him,—perhaps not the seed of the same persons, for grace does not run in a blood (he does not say their seed, but a seed),—perhaps but few, yet enough to preserve the entail. 2. Christ’s acknowledgment of them: They shall be accounted to him for a generation; he will be the same to them that he was to those who went before them; his kindness to his friends shall not die with them, but shall be drawn out to their heirs and successors, and instead of the fathers shall be the children, whom all shall acknowledge to be a seed that the Lord hath blessed, Isa. 61:9; Isa. 65:23. The generation of the righteous God will graciously own as his treasure, his children. 3. Their agency for him (Ps. 22:31): they shall come, shall rise up in their day, not only to keep up the virtue of the generation that is past, and to do the work of their own generation, but to serve the honour of Christ and the welfare of souls in the generations to come; they shall transmit to them the gospel of Christ (that sacred deposit) pure and entire, even to a people that shall be born hereafter; to them they shall declare two things:— (1.) That there is an everlasting righteousness, which Jesus Christ has brought in. This righteousness of his, and not any of our own, they shall declare to be the foundation of all our hopes and the fountain of all our joys. See Rom. 1:16, 17. (2.) That the work of our redemption by Christ is the Lord’s own doing (Ps. 118:23) and no contrivance of ours. We must declare to our children that God has done this; it is his wisdom in a mystery; it is his arm revealed.
In singing this we must triumph in the name of Christ as above every name, must give him honour ourselves, rejoice in the honours others do him, and in the assurance we have that there shall be a people praising him on earth when we are praising him in heaven.