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The Tree of Life: Psalms:

Book Five: Psalms 107-150

The Lovingkindness of the Lord

Psalm 107. The best evidence of the Lord’s lovingkindness is in making all things new, man himself in particular. There are many who are misfits in life. They do not know where they belong. The Lord finds friends for them who stimulate in them a new joy in working for better conditions—"a city of habitation." There are others who do wrong and contemn correction. The Lord leads them into the light, and bends their wills to his own. Then there are fools—they who know, but heed not—bad people. The Lord gives them a taste for better things and "delivers them from their destructions." And there are those who love "religion," but only to lose patience with everyone who is "irreligious." The Lord cures their insanity, and puts their wisdom to better account in sound reconstruction work. In every vicissitude in life the Lord is at work bringing good out of evil.

"O God, My Heart Is Fixed"

108. This psalm is composed of portions of the 57th and 60th psalms. It remains Elohistic, and is thus complementary to the preceding Jehovistic psalm. "Love can do nothing apart from wisdom, and wisdom can do nothing apart from love (Divine Providence #3). A new world is in the making, and the Lord is bringing unused forces in man to life to effect change on all planes of it. "Through God we shall do valiantly; for he it is that shall tread down our enemies."

A Curse on Mine Enemy!

109. "Let his prayer become sin. . . . Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow. Let his children be vagabonds. . . . Let there be none to extend mercy unto him." There are many who have felt that way toward others who have wronged them. This curse in our hearts is our real enemy, one of the most insidious and dangerous enemies that wounds our hearts, finds us weak-kneed for lack of God’s love—the bread of life. It is a sore trial to get that curse out of our hearts, every bit of it, and love our enemies, return good for evil. "I will greatly praise the Lord, . . . for he will stand at the right hand of the needy, to save him from those that condemn his soul."

"The Lord at Thy Right Hand"

110. "The Lord said to my Lord" "signifies the essential Divine, which is called the Father, to the Divine Human, which is the Son" (Apocalypse Explained #687). "By the right hand is signified the power, or omnipotence which Divine truth has from Divine good. The hells and the evils and falsities thence derived are the foes to be placed for his footstool, and in the midst of whom He was to have dominion" (Arcana Coelestia #10019). The priesthood of the Lord represented "all the work of the salvation of the human race. . . . Melchizedek is ‘the king of justice.’ (Genesis 14:18). Thus the Lord was called from his being made justice, and thereby salvation" (Arcana Coelestia #9809). "The Lord at thy right hand will strike through kings in the day of his wrath." He will pierce through every unholy principle by which men swear as the only means of gaining success in this world.

"The Fear of the Lord
Is the Beginning of Wisdom"

111. "The works of the Lord are great," and to be remembered. "He hath showed his people the power" of them in recovering their lost inheritance. His works are truth and justice, done in truth and uprightness. The fear of Him is the fear of doing aught that dishonors his Name, and lets others down. That fear opens our eyes to weaknesses in ourselves which would otherwise have been unknown to us. It is an attribute of wisdom that we take note of sin, and beware that we fall not into it.

"Blessed Is the Man That Feareth the Lord"

112. His is the true wealth of knowledge of that which ennobles life. "A good man showeth favor, and lendeth." All he possesses is of value only so far as it can be put to the highest use. He is not upset by trouble; he looks for the cause in the hope of removing it. His goodness is lasting—everlasting. "The desire of the wicked shall perish" in him, when he has reached the point of being above temptation, the state of the angels.

"Praise the Name of the Lord"

113. Let everyone who has the love of God in his heart in any degree bless the name of the Lord. He is the All-Highest, who humbleth Himself "to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth." He gives of Himself to anyone—the most ignorant—who desires to know the truth and to do it, until he becomes a leader among men, and helps to build up the church on earth again.

"When Israel Went Forth Out of Egypt"

114. Every born citizen of this world who is determined to speak the language of heaven learns to sanctify the love of God, and to regulate his affairs by the law of love. He sees apparently insuperable barriers in the false teachings of the world and the false teachings of the church (the Red Sea and Jordan). These, however, are miraculously set aside when he trusts in the Lord, and reverences his Word. And this opens the way to the new life, and an abundant supply of truth to live by from the Word—"a pool of water from the rock, and a fountain of waters from the flint."

[Although there is a Psalm 115, Hoeck omits it from his commentary.]

"I Love the Lord,
because He Heareth My Voice"

116. "I found trouble and sorrow," but the answer to my cry never failed. "Return unto thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee. I will take the cup of salvation (my cup runneth over) and call upon the name of the Lord. . . . I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving. . . . in the courts of the Lord’s house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem."

117. Let everyone that hath any good or truth in him praise the Lord, "for his merciful kindness is great toward us, and the truth of the Lord endureth forever. Hallelujah."

"The Stone Which the Builders Rejected"

118. "The Lord is good. . . . I will not fear what man can do unto me"—my own frailties. The Name of the Lord is all powerful to conquer any and every weakness in self. "The right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly," when "exalted." "I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord." The church has failed in the past because she rejected the foundation truth of the Lord’s saving grace. It is ours to make it "the head of the corner," and rejoice and be glad in the illumination in truths which follows, together with its power "to conjoin all things of worship," in our inner and in our outward life. This is involved in binding "the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar."

"The Law of the Lord is Perfect,
Restoring the Soul"

119. "The Lord fulfilled the law, or the Word, from its firsts to its lasts, and therefore He was hated and suffered temptations, and thus made the Human one with the Divine" (verses 1–176). "By testimonies and commandments are signified such things as teach life, by the law and precepts those which teach doctrine, and by statutes and judgments, or ordinances, those which teach rituals" (Apocalypse Explained #392). The spirit shines through the letter, and perennially renews the inspiration to be faithful to the law of the Lord. At the same time the uplift enables us to see evil within from a higher level, and realize the tenacity of its grip upon us. "I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments" (verse 176). The "Songs of Ascents" which follow accompany the pilgrim on his way from captivity to a new freedom (Matthew 15:24).

"In My Distress I Cried unto the Lord"

120. Our special prayer is, "Deliver my soul from lying lips. . . . I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war." Following our accustomed experience, whenever we see further heights to be scaled, further difficulties, or evil, to be encountered, we have to deal with self-justifications of that evil, as if to increase our difficulties, and discourage us to the limit. "They are for war."

"I Will Lift up Mine Eyes unto the Mountains"

121. Help comes from the Lord who made the heaven of angels and the church on earth. He will not suffer us to wander from the path of rectitude. He constantly protects us from being hurt by evil and falsity. "By the sun is here understood the love of self, and by the moon the false thence derived. Since all evil is from that love, and from evil what is false" (Apocalypse Explained #401), therefore, "the Lord will keep thee from all evil. . . . He will keep thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore."

"Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem"

122. Worship, public or private, should be a joy at all times—Sundays or weekdays. The gates of the city are always open; the opportunities for getting closer to our neighbor, instead of further away from him, are always present. Jerusalem is a compact city. The thrones of David are there. Our minds are always active, forming judgments under the Lord’s guidance that affect our personal relationships with others. Right judgments follow when we seek peace through the consideration of the best interests of all concerned, and so far as we are prepared to sacrifice personal gain for the good of others. "Because of the house of the Lord our God (that is, God’s home), I will seek thy good."

"We Are Filled with Contempt"

123. Self-love, however, is often so overbearing as to persuade us that well-wishing is God’s will. We do not see it at the time, but results open our eyes to the truth, much to our discomfiture. The servant—our human nature—was to blame. As an offending servant looks for mercy, so we call for mercy for negligence and "contempt of the proud." We were so sure of our judgment, that no one dared question it. It was God’s judgment!

"If It Had Not Been the Lord
Who Was on Our Side"

124. Self-conviction for an offense and all the consequences of it for others is hard to bear. There is turmoil in the soul, and we must have been overwhelmed if we had failed to keep as close to the Lord as possible. "Blessed be the Lord who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth. Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers. . . . Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth."

"They That Trust in the Lord
Are as Mount Zion"

125. It is very comforting to know that the Lord safeguards whatever progress we have made in well-doing from corruption or destruction. He does not let us see more of ourselves at a time than we can bear. "The scepter of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous." We have good reason to be thankful that the Lord protects us from harm. "Peace shall be upon Israel."

"Turn Again Our Captivity, O Lord"

126. We have an experience of heavenly joy when we have succeeded in submitting our wills, after much suffering, to God’s will in one thing, or in one way. The experience may be repeated again and again, giving us a better understanding of the truth, and its application to life. "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed (the truth he is in the effort to live by), shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."

"Except the Lord Build the House"

127. Religion in private and public life (home and city) is the Lord’s gift to man, for his acceptance of it. We often find it hard, however, to accept it. "We eat the bread of toil." Every time, however, we are cooperative in penitence, and self-will is quiescent, or asleep, the Lord is at work building character. Children are the heritage of the Lord. They represent live thoughts and feelings that enlarge one’s household, and give us courage to meet the "enemies in the gate" in the attempt to destroy them.

"Thou Shalt See Thy Children’s Children"

128. Happy is the man who fears God and walks in his ways. He eats of the labor of his hands: gets great satisfaction from the study of the precepts by which he lives. His wife represents "the spiritual affection for the truth in all the things which he thinks and does" (Apocalypse Explained #340). The vine and the olive specify the quality of their thinking for better citizenship and churchmanship. Whenever the love of the truth forms a belief for practical life, that is their child. Our children are the practical ideas that make the morale of this generation. Our children’s children that will bring peace upon Israel must represent the nobler conceptions of life in subsequent generations that will make, and not simply dream of, a world-democracy.

"The Cords of the Wicked"

129. The ideas which enter our heads in youth have more or less influence on our later life. Some of these ideas are anti-religious, or such as "hate Zion." They act as binders, placing a restraint on our freedom. They are the cords of the wicked, pestiferous ideas, like grass on the housetop. By the mercy of the Lord the cords are cut, and the grass withered "before it groweth up" (Arcana Coelestia #10303, Apocalypse Revealed #401, Apocalypse Explained #507, Divine Providence #296).

De Profundis

130. "Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord. . . . My soul waiteth for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning." Our trials are sometimes very acute and long drawn out. It is well with us, however, if we see the cause, the evil within, and watch ardently for the dawn— the Lord’s coming. "He will redeem Israel from all his iniquities."

"O Lord, My Heart Is Not Haughty"

131. It is easy to say this; it is difficult to mean it. We rid ourselves of haughtiness only as we realize how little we know, and how dependent we are in every way upon the Lord. Our soul is like that of a weaned child when we have become "innocent from the great transgression"—presumptuousness. "O Israel, hope in the Lord from henceforth and forever."

"The Lord Hath Chosen Zion
for His Habitation"

132. Within every spiritual conflict we should have the inextinguishable desire of making our souls the dwelling place of the Lord. The temple was not built in time of war, but in time of peace (1 Kings 5:3). We find the Lord "both in the spiritual and also in the natural sense of his Word" (Ephratah and the fields of the wood) (Apocalypse Explained #684). We worship Him as thought and deed conform to the law of love. The throne of David shall never lack a child to sit on it. We can know what is right, and do it, by the love of God. "The Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. . . . There will I make the horn of David to bud. . . . His enemies will I clothe with shame; but upon himself shall his crown flourish."

"The Blessing: Life Forevermore"

133. Unity through mutual love, permeating our purposes, our reasoning and our thoughts about the most trivial matters in life is imaged in "the dew of Hermon"—the mount of the transfiguration—"descending upon the mountains of Zion." "The truth of good is from heaven upon those who are in the church, in which is salvation."

Worship by Night

134. Sometimes we are quite unable to see light, or see our duty, or know why evil is permitted. It is well that we then maintain the effort to trust in the Lord. "Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord."

"For I Know That the Lord Is Great"

135. He made heaven and earth. He led his children out of Egypt, and restored unto them their heritage. To worship mammon is vanity. Trust in the Lord, and bless his Name forever.

"His Mercy Endureth Forever"

136. His lovingkindness is present in every least incident in our lives, constantly leading us unto Himself. There is great power in repetition, or in adding point by point to the evidences of his mercy in turning our thoughts from ourselves to others with a desire to bless them, and in changing our conduct to do as we say.

"How Sing the Lord’s Song
in a Foreign Land?"

137. "By the rivers of Babylon we wept when we remembered Zion." Self-will holds us tightly in its grip, and we know it, and are humiliated. It is satire to require mirth of us, or a song of praise. Then is the time to remember the teachings of our religion, and find our chief joy in applying them to the situation. Edom brought a curse upon himself by rejoicing in the day of the fall of Jerusalem. We acquit ourselves honorably by using the will power to have our own way to destroy the creature of our own selfishness, while yet it is in its infancy, and that too "in the Name of the Lord," the rock on which He builds his church. "Agree with thine adversary quickly."

"Thy Right Hand Will Save Me"

138. Words could not be more plain. We are saved by the power of love. The song is uplifting. "I will give thee thanks with my whole heart. . . . for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth. . . . In the day that I called thou answeredst me. Thou didst encourage me with strength in my soul . . . . Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me . . . . Thy lovingkindness endureth forever; forsake not the works of thine own hands."

The Lord’s Presence in Man.

139. His omniscience (verses 1–6), His omnipresence (verses 7–12), His omnipotence (verses 13, 14), His Divine Providence (verses 15—18), His enemies (verses 19–22), and our prayer for deliverance from them (verses 23, 24). "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts; and see if there be any way of an idol (or cause of grief) in me, and lead me in the way everlasting"—the way in which there is no death (John 5:24).

"Deliver Me, O Lord, from the Evil Man"

140. The evil man and the violent man, who devise mischiefs in their heart, and make war, exist in everyone who thinks evil, and violates the truths of the Word in self-justifications. The temptation—when the evil is called in question—is grievous. Evil is deceptive, treacherous and subtle, like a serpent, or adder’s poison under their lips. An analysis of evil thoughts in the heart in time uncovers the falsification of the truth, the pride of argumentation, or winning our case, and the love of self. "Evil shall hunt the violent man to overthrow him. The Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and justice for the needy."

"Let My Prayer Be Set Forth before Thee
as Incense"

141. Confessions and prayers from the heart ascend gratefully to the throne of God like the fragrant smoke of incense; and the uplifted hands imply the commitment of our lives to the Lord’s care, which is also the meaning of the sacrificial lamb (Apocalypse Explained #325). The song is a prayer to keep free from evil, and live in the confidence that evil thoughts and intentions harm those who harbor them. "Let the wicked fall into their own nets, whilst that I withal escape."

"Bring My Soul Out of Prison"

142. Again, "I cry with my voice unto the Lord." We are in sore straits. The enemy has privily laid a snare for us. We seem to be forsaken. "There was no man that would know me; refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul." We look to the Lord as our refuge to deliver us from our persecutors, and bring our souls out of prison that we may praise his name. The prison is the same as the captivity. We are not free, but helplessly in the grip of evil. Our cry, however, is not left unanswered. "The righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me."

"Cause Me to Hear
Thy Lovingkindness in the Morning"

143. The burden of sin still hangs heavily upon us. The enemy again is persecuting the soul. "He hath made me to dwell in darkness, as those that have been long dead." We are overwhelmed by false thoughts that create the false impression that we do not belong here. We feel desolate and depressed. Then we reflect on God’s works, and thirst for God, lest we sink hopelessly into lower depths. As the earth turns to the sun at peep of day, so the soul in turning to the Lord begins to see in the light the Lord’s lovingkindness, and the way out of our trials. "Of thy mercy cut off mine enemies, and destroy all them that afflict my soul; for I am thy servant."

"Happy Is That People
Whose God Is the Lord"

144. "Blessed be the Lord my rock, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight." How sorely we stand in need of this training in discipline, and in the art of war. For, he who believes any evil to be allowable, and is withheld from doing it only by external restraints, or fear, is in hell for the time being, although he may imagine that he is then in heaven. Unless he can see that his feelings in which he delights are sinful, he leads himself more deeply into evils, or into hell (Divine Providence #296). Liberty is not a gift. We have to fight to regain our freedom, fight for every inch of ground on which the sole of our foot may stand, under the leadership of our Great High Captain, the Lord of Hosts. We may lose many a battle, but end in victory when we have learned to fight putting our trust in the Lord.

"I Will Extol Thee, My God, O King, Forever"

145. From its opening words this song clearly glorifies the Wisdom of God as the ruling power in the universe. But without the latent power in gasoline, there would be no automobile. Without the hidden power that perpetually supplies the heat in the sun there would be no light there, no sun, no universe. In other words Love Itself is The Absolute from which, and in which, everything is. "God is Love." Therefore, Wisdom extols love. The rest of this Psalm glorifies the Lord. "Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised. . . . My mouth shall speak of the Lord; and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever" (verses 3–21). In response to this inspiring invitation there follow the next five Hymns of Praise which close the Psalter. Each of these songs begins and ends with the word "Hallelujah," and no trace of evil or sorrow is to be found in any one of them.

"Praise Ye the Lord, O My Soul"

146. The Lord is our Helper, and none other. He made all things, and keepeth truth forever. He executeth judgment for the oppressed, looseth the prisoners, openeth the eyes of the blind, doeth good to everyone in need; but the way of the wicked He turneth upside down. "The Lord shall reign forever, thy God, O Zion, to all generations. Hallelujah."

"The Lord Doth Build up Jerusalem"

147. "He gathereth together the outcasts of Israel." The building of the church, and the return of the lost sheep of Israel, means a new civilization, a real cooperative commonwealth with a world parliament. That is the fruit of the teachings of the church—real religion. "Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem; praise thy God, O Zion. For he hath strengthened the bars of thy gates (to keep out evil); he hath blessed thy children within thee. He maketh peace in thy borders. . . . He showeth his word unto Jacob (for the civil life), his statutes and his judgments unto Israel" (for the spiritual life). None know these judgments but they who seek to know and obey them. Hallelujah.

Gloria in Excelsis

148. "Praise ye the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights. Praise him sun, moon and stars; the waters above the heavens; earth, dragons and deeps; . . . for his name alone is excellent." The meaning of the imagery contacts the life latent in the Word. Praise the Lord in the love of God, the love of the neighbor; the knowledge of spiritual life, and the knowledge of everything in human nature, or the world at large; the pleasures of life, and everything that conduces to the lasting happiness of mankind. "Man does not rejoice from himself, but from the goods and truths which are in him; these are the things which rejoice, because they are the causes of man’s rejoicing" (Apocalypse Explained #405). And these are the Lord’s. Hallelujah.

"Sing unto the Lord a New Song"

149. The "saints," or angels, are holy only from that which they have from the Lord. "Let Israel rejoice, . . . for the Lord will beautify the meek with salvation." Character takes on "the beauty of holiness" through the acceptance of correction without resentment. "Let the saints exult in glory. . . . Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand, to execute upon their kings and nobles [every false principle] the judgment written" in the Book of Life. "This honor have all his saints. Hallelujah."

The Great Amen.

150. "The Lord ought to be worshipped from every affection of good and truth because He is omnipotent." We agree to it without any reservation. Yet, how much do our words mean? Just what our individual lives proclaim. Wherever the love of God has been received in the heart, the quality of it defined in terms of His Word, and expressed in a life that is finally free from any taint of evil, there the Lord finds the praise of man in acknowledgment of his omnipotence. Man, with infinite variation, is himself the instrument which resounds the praise of his Maker (Apocalypse Explained #326). The Lord gives of Himself to bless His own without stint. And man fulfills his destiny as he gives in good measure and running over in the same spirit in which he receives it from the hand of God. "Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord. Hallelujah."

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