Three Songs of degrees.
Psalms 129:1-2. Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth, may Israel now say: many a time have they afflicted me from my youth: yet they have not prevailed against me.
The trials of some of God’s people begin very early. When first we put on the armour of God, the adversary is usually very bitter against us. Some of our old friends and acquaintances cannot bear to see the change in us, and they bitterly oppose us, so that God’s children may have to say, “From our youth they have afflicted us.” But you must not think that the beginning of sorrows will be the end of them. Oh, no! “Many a time have they afflicted me.” God’s children are often called to pass under the rod, and the rod is frequently held in the hands of the children of men. Your Saviour carried the cross, and he expects you to carry it, too. He does not tell you to take it up now and then, but to take it up always, and to follow him with a constant will, cheerfully bearing it for his dear name’s sake. “Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth: yet”-Is not that sweetly put?-“yet they have not prevailed against me.” You recollect how Joseph’s brothers envied him, and at last sold him into Egypt; yet from the dungeon he rose to the throne, and he could say. “Yet they have not prevailed against me.” If thou art of the seed royal, one of the chosen people of God, they shall not prevail against thee. Even proud Haman, with all his plotting, was not able to overcome poor Mordecai; and the Lord thy God will preserve thee from the fury of all thy adversaries, and bring good to thee out of all the evil they try to do unto thee.
Psalms 129:3. The ploughers ploughed upon my back: they made long their furrows.
Like one that has been cruelly scourged until each cut of the lash seemed to make a furrow through the quivering flesh: “The ploughers ploughed upon my back: they made long their furrows.” How truly could our blessed Lord utter these words when he was delivered up to wicked men to be scourged!
Psalms 129:4. The LORD is righteous: he hath cut asunder the cords of the wicked.
“The Lord is righteous.” There is our hope and comfort. He takes away from them the scourge, and cuts up the cords of which it is made; and those cords with which they would bind the righteous he cuts into pieces, so that they can do nothing against them: “He hath cut asunder the cords of the wicked.”
Psalms 129:5. Let them all be confounded and turned back that hate Zion.
So it seems that the one aimed at, and made to suffer, is the Church of God, “Zion.” She has often been scourged and afflicted. Her experience is like that of her covenant Head, and her triumph will be like his triumph.
Psalms 129:6-8. Let them be as the grass upon the housetops, which withereth afore it groweth up: wherewith the mower filleth not his hand; nor he that bindeth sheaves his bosom. Neither do they which go by say, The blessing of the LORD be upon you: we bless you in the name of the LORD.
So the adversaries of the Church of God may grow as fast as grass on the roof of a house, but they will perish just as fast, and there will be nothing left of them. They threaten, they bully, they rage, they rave; but it is only for a little while.
Now we will read the “De profundis” Psalm.