THE BOOK OF PSALMS Commentary by A. R. Faussett
The Hebrew title of this book is Tehilim (“praises” or “hymns”), for a leading feature in its contents is praise, though the word occurs in the title of only one Psalm (the hundred forty-fifth). The Greek title (in the Septuagint, a translation made two hundred years before Christ) is psalmoi, whence our word “Psalms.” This corresponds to the Hebrew word mizmoi by which sixty-five Psalms are designated in their inscriptions, and which the Syriac, a language like the Hebrew, uses for the whole book. It means, as does also the Greek name, an ode, or song, whose singing is accompanied by an instrument, particularly the harp (compare 1Ch 16:4-8; 2Ch 5:12, 13). To some Psalms, the Hebrew word (shir) “a song,” is prefixed. Paul seems to allude to all these terms in Eph 5:19, “singing … in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.”
Titles.–To more than a hundred Psalms are prefixed inscriptions, which give one or more (and in one case, [Psalm 60], all) of these particulars: the direction to the musician, the name of the author or the instrument, the style of the music or of the poetry, the subject or occasion. The authority of these inscriptions has been disputed by some writers. They say that the earliest translators, as the Greek and Syriac, evince a disregard for their authority, by variations from a proper translation of some, altering others, and, in several instances, supplying titles to Psalms which, in Hebrew, had none. It is also alleged that the subject of a Psalm, as given in the title, is often inconsistent with its contents. But those translators have also varied from a right translation of many passages in the Bible, which all agree to be of good authority; and the alleged inconsistency may be shown, on more accurate investigation, not to exist. The admitted antiquity of these inscriptions, on the other hand, and even their obscurity, raise a presumption in their favor, while such prefaces to a composition accord with the usages of that age and part of the world (compare Isa 38:9).
“The Chief Musician” was the superintendent of the music (compare “to oversee,” 1Ch 15:21, Margin). “To” prefixed to this, means, “pertaining to” in his official character. This inscription is found in fifty-three Psalms and is attached to Habakkuk’s prayer (Hab 3:1-19). The same Hebrew preposition is prefixed to the name of the author and translated “of,” as “a Psalm of David,” “of Asaph,” except that to “the sons of Korah,” it is translated “for,” which is evidently wrong, as the usual direction, “to the chief musician,” is given, and no other authorship intimated. On the apparent exception to this last remark, see below, and see on Ps 88:1, title. The explanations of other particulars in the titles will be given as they occur.
Authors.–This book is often called “The Psalms of David,” he being the only author mentioned in the New Testament (Lu 20:42) and his name appearing in more titles than that of any other writer. Besides about one-half of the Psalms in which it thus appears, Psalms 2 and 95 are ascribed to him (Ac 4:25 and Heb 4:7). He was probably the author of many others which appear without a name. He used great efforts to beautify the worship of the sanctuary. Among the two hundred eighty-eight Levites he appointed for singing and performing instrumental music, we find mentioned the “sons of Korah” (1Ch 9:19); including Heman (1Ch 6:33-38); and also Asaph (1Ch 6:39-44); and Ethan (1Ch 15:17-19). God was doubtless pleased to endow these men with the inspiration of His Spirit, so that they used those poetic talents which their connection with the kindred art of music had led them to cultivate, in the production of compositions like those of their king and patron. To Asaph are ascribed twelve Psalms; to the sons of Korah, eleven, including the eighty-eighth, which is also ascribed to Heman, that being the only instance in which the name of the “son” (or descendant) is mentioned; and to Ethan, one. Solomon’s name appears before the seventy-second and hundred twenty-seventh; and that of Moses before the ninetieth. Special questions respecting authorship will be explained as they arise.
Contents.–As the book contains one hundred fifty independent compositions, it is not susceptible of any logical analysis. The Jews having divided it into five books, corresponding to the Five Books of Moses (First, Psalms 1-42; Second, Psalms 43-72; Third, Psalms 73-89; Fourth, Psalms 90-106; Fifth, Psalms 107-150), many attempts have been made to discover, in this division, some critical or practical value, but in vain. Sundry efforts have been made to classify the Psalms by subject. Angus’ Bible Hand Book is perhaps the most useful, and is appended.
Still the Psalms have a form and character peculiar to themselves; and with individual diversities of style and subject, they all assimilate to that form, and together constitute a consistent system of moral truth. They are all poetical, and of that peculiar parallelism (see Introduction to the Poetical Books,) which distinguished Hebrew poetry. They are all lyrical, or songs adapted to musical instruments, and all religious lyrics, or such as were designed to be used in the sanctuary worship.
The distinguishing feature of the Psalms is their devotional character. Whether their matter be didactic, historical, prophetical, or practical, it is made the ground or subject of prayer, or praise, or both. The doctrines of theology and precepts of pure morality are here inculcated. God’s nature, attributes, perfections, and works of creation, providence, and grace, are unfolded. In the sublimest conceptions of the most exalted verse, His glorious supremacy over the principalities of heaven, earth, and hell, and His holy, wise, and powerful control of all material and immaterial agencies, are celebrated. The great covenant of grace resting on the fundamental promise of a Redeemer, both alike the provisions of God’s exhaustless mercy, is set forth in respect of the doctrines of regeneration by the Spirit, forgiveness of sins, repentance toward God, and faith toward Jesus Christ, while its glorious results, involving the salvation of men “from the ends of the earth” [Ac 13:47], are proclaimed in believing, prophetic prayer and thankful praise. The personal history of the authors, and especially David’s in its spiritual aspects, is that of God’s people generally. Christian biography is edifying only as it is truth illustrated in experience, such as God’s Word and Spirit produce. It may be factitious in origin and of doubtful authenticity. But here the experience of the truly pious is detailed, under divine influence, and “in words which the Holy Ghost” taught [1Co 2:13]. The whole inner life of the pious man is laid open, and Christians of all ages have here the temptations, conflicts, perplexities, doubts, fears, penitent moanings, and overwhelming griefs on the one hand, and the joy and hope of pardoning mercy, the victory over the seductions of false-hearted flatterers, and deliverance from the power of Satan on the other, with which to compare their own spiritual exercises. Here, too, are the fruits of that sovereign mercy, so often sought in earnest prayer, and when found, so often sung in rapturous joy, exhibited by patience in adversity, moderation in prosperity, zeal for God’s glory, love for man, justice to the oppressed, holy contempt for the proud, magnanimity towards enemies, faithfulness towards friends, delight in the prosperity of Zion, and believing prayer for her enlargement and perpetuity.
The historical summaries of the Psalms are richly instructive. God’s choice of the patriarchs, the sufferings of the Israelites in Egypt, their exodus, temptations of God, rebellions and calamities in the wilderness, settlement in Canaan, backslidings and reformations, furnish illustrations of God’s providential government of His people, individually and collectively, tending to exalt His adorable grace and abase human pride. But the promises and prophecies connected with these summaries, and elsewhere presented in the Psalms, have a far wider reach, exhibiting the relations of the book to the great theme of promise and prophecy:
The Messiah and His Kingdom.–David was God’s chosen servant to rule His people, as the head at once of the State and the Church, the lineal ancestor, “according to the flesh” [Ac 2:30; Ro 1:3], of His adorable Son, and His type, in His official relations, both in suffering and in triumph. Generally, David’s trials by the ungodly depicted the trials of Christ, and his final success the success of Christ’s kingdom. Typically, he uses language describing his feelings, which only finds its full meaning in the feelings of Christ. As such it is quoted and applied in the New Testament. And further, in view of the great promise (2Sa 7:12-16) to him and his seed, to which such frequent reference is made in the Psalms, David was inspired to know, that though his earthly kingdom should perish, his spiritual would ever endure, in the power, beneficence, and glory of Christ’s. In repeating and amplifying that promise, he speaks not only as a type, but “being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne,” he “foretold the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow. His incarnation, humiliating sorrows, persecution, and cruel death are disclosed in the plaintive cries of a despairing sufferer; and His resurrection and ascension, His eternal priesthood, His royal dignity, His prophetical office, the purchase and bestowal of the gifts of the Spirit, the conversion of the nations, the establishment, increase, and perpetuity of the Church, the end of time, and the blessedness of the righteous who acknowledge, and the ruin of the wicked who reject this King in Zion, are predicted in the language of assured confidence and joy.” While these great themes have supplied the people of God with a popular theology and a guide in religious experience and Christian morality, clothed in the language of devotion, they have provided an inspired liturgy in which the pious, of all creeds and sects, have, for nearly three thousand years, poured out their prayers and praises. The pious Jew, before the coming of Christ, mourned over the adversity, or celebrated the future glories, of Zion, in the words of her ancient king. Our Saviour, with His disciples, sang one of these hymns on the night on which He was betrayed [Mt 26:30]; He took from one the words in which He uttered the dreadful sorrows of His soul [Mt 27:46], and died with those of another on His lips [Lu 23:46]. Paul and Silas in the dungeon [Ac 16:25], primitive Christians in their covert places of worship, or the costly churches of a later day, and the scattered and feeble Christian flocks in the prevalence of darkness and error through the Middle Ages, fed their faith and warmed their love with these consoling songs. Now, throughout the Christian world, in untold forms of version, paraphrase, and imitation, by Papists and Protestants, Prelatists and Presbyterians, Independents, Baptists, Methodists–men of all lands and all creeds, in public and private worship, God is still adored in the sentiments expressed in these venerable Psalms. From the tone of sorrow and suffering which pervade their earlier portions we are gradually borne on amid alternate conflicts and triumphs, mournful complaints and awakening confidence; as we approach the close the tones of sorrow grow feebler, and those of praise wax louder and stronger–till, in the exulting strains of the last Psalm, the chorus of earth mingles with the hallelujahs of the multitude, which no man can number, in the sanctuary above.
Angus’ or Bickersteth’s arrangement may be profitably used as a guide for finding a Psalm on a special topic. It is a little modified, as follows:
1. Didactic. (1) Good and bad men: Psalms 1, 5, 7, 9-12, 14, 15, 17, 24, 25, 32, 34, 36, 37, 50, 52, 53, 58, 73, 75, 84, 91, 92, 94, 112, 121, 125, 127, 128, 133; (2) God’s law: Psalms 19, 119; (3) Human life vain: Psalms 39, 49, 90; (4) Duty of rulers: Psalms 82, 101. 2. Praise. (1) For God’s goodness generally to Israel: Psalms 46, 48, 65, 66, 68, 76, 81, 85, 98, 105, 124, 126, 129, 135, 136, 149; (2) To good men, Psalms 23, 34, 36, 91, 100, 103, 107, 117, 121, 145, 146; (3) Mercies to individuals: Psalms 9, 18, 22, 30, 40, 75, 103, 108, 116, 118, 138, 144; (4) For His attributes generally: Psalms 8, 19, 24, 29, 33, 47, 50, 65, 66, 76, 77, 93, 95-97, 99, 104, 111, 113-115, 134, 139, 147, 148, 150. 3. Devotional–expressive of (1) Penitence: Psalms 6, 25, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143; (2) Trust in trouble: Psalms 3, 16, 27, 31, 54, 56, 57, 61, 62, 71, 86; (3) Sorrow with hope: Psalms 13, 22, 69, 77, 88; (4) Of deep distress: Psalms 4, 5, 11, 28, 41, 55, 59, 64, 70, 109, 120, 140, 141, 143; (5) Feelings when deprived of religious privileges: Psalms 42, 43, 63, 84; (6) Desire for help: Psalms 7, 17, 26, 35, 44, 60, 74, 79, 80, 83, 89, 94, 102, 129, 137; (7) Intercession: Psalms 20, 67, 122, 132, 144. 4. Historical. Psalms 78, 105, 106. 5. Prophetical. Psalms 2, 16, 22, 40, 45, 68, 69, 72, 97, 110, 118.
Note.–The compiler of the following notes has omitted all references to authors, as needlessly encumbering the commentary. He has had before him the works of Calvin, Scott, Poole, Ainsworth, Cobbin, Geice, Vatablus, Tholuck, J. H. Michaelis, Rosenmuller, and Alexander. To the two last named he has been particularly indebted for the parallel passages. He has made a free use of the views advanced by these authors, and claims no credit for anything in the work except the conciseness united with fullness of exposition. Whoever attempts it will find it far easier to write a long commentary than a brief one.
Ps 1:1-6. The character and condition, and the present and future destiny, of the pious and the wicked are described and contrasted, teaching that true piety is the source of ultimate happiness, and sin of misery. As this is a summary of the teachings of the whole book, this Psalm, whether designedly so placed or not, forms a suitable preface.
1. Blessed–literally, “oh, the happiness”–an exclamation of strong emotion, as if resulting from reflecting on the subject. The use of the plural may denote fulness and variety (2Ch 9:7).
counsel … way … seat–With their corresponding verbs, mark gradations of evil, as acting on the principles, cultivating the society, and permanently conforming to the conduct of the wicked, who are described by three terms, of which the last is indicative of the boldest impiety (compare Ps 26:4, 5; Jer 15:17).
2. law–all of God’s word then written, especially the books of Moses (compare Ps 119:1, 55, 97, &c.).
3. like a tree–(Jer 17:7, 8).
the rivers–canals for irrigation.
shall prosper–literally, “make prosper,” brings to perfection. The basis of this condition and character is given (Ps 32:1).
4. not so–either as to conduct or happiness.
like the chaff–which, by Eastern modes of winnowing against the wind, was utterly blown away.
5. stand in the judgment–be acquitted. They shall be driven from among the good (Mt 25:45, 46).
6. knoweth the way–attends to and provides for them (Ps 101:6; Pr 12:10; Ho 13:5).
way of the wicked–All their plans will end in disappointment and ruin (Ps 37:13; 146:8; Pr 4:19).
Ps 2:1-12. The number and authorship of this Psalm are stated (Ac 4:25; 13:33). Though the warlike events of David’s reign may have suggested its imagery, the scenes depicted and the subjects presented can only find a fulfilment in the history and character of Jesus Christ, to which, as above cited and in Heb 1:5; 5:5, the New Testament writers most distinctly testify. In a most animated and highly poetical style, the writer, in “four stanzas of three verses each,” sets forth the inveterate and furious, though futile, hostility of men to God and His anointed, God’s determination to carry out His purpose, that purpose as stated more fully by His Son, the establishment of the Mediatorial kingdom, and the imminent danger of all who resist, as well as the blessing of all who welcome this mighty and triumphant king.
1. Why do the heathen, &c.–Beholding, in prophetic vision, the peoples and nations, as if in a tumultuous assembly, raging with a fury like the raging of the sea, designing to resist God’s government, the writer breaks forth into an exclamation in which are mingled surprise at their folly, and indignation at their rebellion.
heathen–nations generally, not as opposed to Jews.
the people–or, literally, “peoples,” or races of men.
2. The kings and rulers lead on their subjects.
set themselves–take a stand.
take counsel–literally, “sit together,” denoting their deliberation.
anointed–Hebrew, “Messiah”; Greek, “Christ” (Joh 1:41). Anointing, as an emblem of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, was conferred on prophets (Isa 6:1); priests (Ex 30:30); and kings (1Sa 10:1; 16:13; 1Ki 1:39). Hence this title well suited Him who holds all these offices, and was generally used by the Jews before His coming, to denote Him (Da 9:26). While the prophet has in view men’s opposition generally, he here depicts it in its culminating aspect as seen in the events of Christ’s great trial. Pilate and Herod, and the rulers of the Jews (Mt 27:1; Lu 23:1-25), with the furious mob, are vividly portrayed.
3. The rebellious purposes of men are more distinctly announced by this representation of their avowal in words, as well as actions.
bands … and … cords–denote the restraints of government.
4. By a figure whose boldness is only allowable to an inspired writer, God’s conduct and language in view of this opposition are now related.
He that sitteth in the heavens–enthroned in quiet dignities (compare Ps 29:10; Isa 40:22).
shall laugh–in supreme contempt; their vain rage excites His derision. He is still the Lord, literally, “Sovereign,” though they rebel.
5. Then shall he speak–His righteous indignation as well as contempt is roused. For God to speak is for Him to act, for what He resolves He will do (Ge 1:3; Ps 33:9).
vex them–agitate or terrify them (Ps 83:15).
6. The purpose here declared, in its execution, involves their overthrow.
Yet–literally, “and,” in an adversative sense.
I have set–anointed, or firmly placed, with allusion in the Hebrew to “casting an image in a mould.” The sense is not materially varied in either case.
my king–appointed by Me and for Me (Nu 27:18).
upon my holy hill of Zion–Zion, selected by David as the abode of the ark and the seat of God’s visible residence (1Ki 8:1); as also David, the head of the Church and nation, and type of Christ, was called holy, and the Church itself came to be thus named (Ps 9:11; 51:18; 99:2; Isa 8:18; 18:7, &c.).
7. The king thus constituted declares the fundamental law of His kingdom, in the avowal of His Sonship, a relation involving His universal dominion.
this day have I begotten thee–as 2Sa 7:14, “he shall be My son,” is a solemn recognition of this relation. The interpretation of this passage to describe the inauguration of Christ as Mediatorial King, by no means impugns the Eternal Sonship of His divine nature. In Ac 13:33, Paul’s quotation does not imply an application of this passage to the resurrection; for “raised up” in Ac 13:32 is used as in Ac 2:30; 3:22, &c., to denote bringing Him into being as a man; and not that of resurrection, which it has only when, as in Ac 2:34, allusion is made to His death (Ro 1:4). That passage says He was declared as to His divine nature to be the Son of God, by the resurrection, and only teaches that that event manifested a truth already existing. A similar recognition of His Sonship is introduced in Heb 5:5, by these ends, and by others in Mt 3:17; 17:5.
8. The hopes of the rebels are thus overthrown, and not only so; the kingdom they opposed is destined to be coextensive with the earth.
heathen–or, “nations” (Ps 2:1).
and the uttermost parts of the earth–(Ps 22:27); denotes universality.
9. His enemies shall be subject to His terrible power (Job 4:9; 2Th 2:8), as His people to His grace (Ps 110:2, 3).
rod of iron–denotes severity (Re 2:27).
a potter’s vessel–when shivered cannot be mended, which will describe utter destruction.
10-12. kings … judges–For rulers generally (Ps 148:11), who have been leaders in rebellion, should be examples of penitent submission, and with fear for His terrible judgments, mingled with trust in His mercy, acknowledge–
12. Kiss the Son–the authority of the Son.
perish from the way–that is, suddenly and hopelessly.
kindled but a little–or, “in a little time.”
put their trust in him–or take refuge in Him (Ps 5:11). Men still cherish opposition to Christ in their hearts and evince it in their lives. Their ruin, without such trust, is inevitable (Heb 10:29), while their happiness in His favor is equally sure.
Ps 3:1-8. For the historical occasion mentioned, compare 2Sa 15:1-17:29. David, in the midst of great distress, with filial confidence, implores God’s aid, and, anticipating relief, offers praise.
1. Lord … increased–The extent of the rebellion (2Sa 15:13) surprises and grieves him.
2. say of my soul–that is, “of me” (compare Ps 25:3). This use of “soul” is common; perhaps it arose from regarding the soul as man’s chief part.
no help … in God–rejected by Him. This is the bitterest reproach for a pious man, and denotes a spirit of malignant triumph.
Selah–This word is of very obscure meaning. It probably denotes rest or pause, both as to the music and singing, intimating something emphatic in the sentiment (compare Ps 9:16).
3. But–literally, “and” (Ps 2:6). He repels the reproach by avowing his continued trust.
shield–a favorite and often-used figure for protection.
my glory–its source.
lifter up of mine head–one who raises me from despondency.
4. cried … heard–Such has been my experience. The latter verb denotes a gracious hearing or answering.
out of–or, “from.”
his holy hill–Zion (Ps 2:6). His visible earthly residence.
5. the Lord sustained me–literally, “will sustain me,” as if his language or thought when he laid down, and the reason of his composure.
6. ten thousands of people–or, “myriads,” any very great number (compare 2Sa 16:18).
7. Arise, O Lord–God is figuratively represented as asleep to denote His apparent indifference (Ps 7:6). The use of “cheekbone” and “teeth” represents his enemies as fierce, like wild beasts ready to devour (Ps 27:2), and smiting their cheekbone (1Ki 22:24) denotes violence and insult.
thou hast broken–God took his part, utterly depriving the enemy of power to injure.
8. An ascription of praise to a delivering God, whose favor is an efficient benefit.
Ps 4:1-8. On Neginoth, that is, stringed instruments, as the kind of musical accompaniment. On other parts of title, see Introduction., The historical occasion was probably the same as that of the foregoing [see on Ps 3:1]. The writer, praying for further relief, admonishes his enemies of the vanity of attacking God’s servant, exhorts them to repentance, and avows his confidence and peace in God’s favor.
1. Hear–as in Ps 3:4.
God of my righteousness–or, “my righteous God, as my holy hill” (Ps 2:6), who will act towards me on righteous principles.
thou hast enlarged–expresses relief afforded in opposition to “distress,” which is expressed by a word denoting straits or pressure. Past favor is a ground of hope for the future.
2. sons of men–men of note or prominence (compare 2Ch 21:9).
turn my glory–or, “royal dignity.”
into shame–or, “reproach.”
vanity–a foolish and hopeless enterprise (Ps 2:1).
3. godly–an object as well as subject of divine favor (compare Ps 105:14, 15).
4. Stand in awe–(Eph 4:26), from Septuagint, “be angry.” Both clauses are qualified by “not.”
5. Not only repent, but manifest penitence by sacrifices or righteousness or righteous sacrifices, &c.
6, 7. Contrast true with vain confidence.
light of thy countenance upon us–figure for favor (Nu 6:26; Ps 44:3; 81:16).
7. corn and wine–literally, “new corn and wine.”
increased–an abundant harvest giving great joy (Isa 9:3).
8. both lay me down, &c.–or, will lie down at once, and sleep in sure confidence and quiet repose (Ps 3:5).
Ps 5:1-12. Upon Nehiloth–flutes or wind instruments. The writer begs to be heard, on the ground of God’s regard for His covenant-people and true worshippers as contrasted with His holy hatred to the wicked. He prays for divine guidance, on account of his watchful, malignant, and deceitful enemies; and for their destruction as being also God’s enemies. At the same time he expresses his confidence that God will extend aid to His people.
1. meditation–moanings of that half-uttered form to which deep feeling gives rise–groanings, as in Ro 8:26, 27.
2. Hearken–incline the ear (Ps 10:17; compare Ps 61:2)–give close attention.
my cry–that is, for help (Ps 61:2; Jer 8:19).
my King–thus by covenant relation interested in my cause.
3. direct–literally, “set in order,” as the showbread was placed or set in order (Ex 40:23).
4. For, &c.–God only regards sincere worshippers.
evil–or, “the evil man.”
dwell–lodge, remain under protection.
5. foolish–vainglorious and insolent.
iniquity–especially such as denotes a negation, or defect, that is, of moral principle.
6. leasing–a lie.
the bloody … man–literally, “man of blood”–murderer.
7. But–as in Ps 2:6, literally, “and.”
house–(1Ch 9:23), the tabernacle.
temple–literally, “palace,” applied to God’s residence, the Holy of Holies (1Sa 3:3; 2Sa 22:7); the inner part of the tabernacle.
toward–not in; the high priest alone was allowed to enter.
8. enemies–literally, “watchers” (Ps 27:11), hence special need of guidance.
in thy righteousness–an attribute implying faithfulness in promises as well as threatenings.
make thy way straight–that is, make the way of providence plain.
9. The wicked are not reliable because by nature they are full of wickedness, or literally, “wickednesses,” of every kind (Ro 8:7).
sepulchre–a dwelling-place of corruption, emitting moral putridness.
flatter–or, “make smooth.”
their tongue–speaks deceitfully.
10. Destroy–or, “condemn” them to destruction as guilty.
11. defendest–(compare Margin).
love thy name–Thy manifested perfections (Ps 9:10).
12. with favour–or, “acceptance,” alluding to the favor shown to an acceptable offering and worshipper (Le 7:18; 19:7).
shield–(compare Ps 3:3).
Ps 6:1-10. On Neginoth (See on Ps 4:1, title) upon Sheminith–the eighth–an instrument for the eighth key; or, more probably, the bass, as it is contrasted with Alamoth (the treble, Ps 46:1) in 1Ch 15:20, 21. In deep affliction the Psalmist appeals to God’s mercy for relief from chastisement, which otherwise must destroy him, and thus disable him for God’s service. Sure of a gracious answer, he triumphantly rebukes his foes.
1. He owns his ill desert in begging a relief from chastisement.
2. I am weak–as a culled plant (Isa 24:4).
my bones–the very frame.
are vexed–(Ps 2:5)–shaken with fear.
3. how long?–shall this be so (compare Ps 79:5).
thou–The sentence is incomplete as expressive of strong emotion.
4. Return–that is, to my relief; or, “turn,” as now having His face averted.
for thy mercies’ sake–to illustrate Thy mercy.
5. (Compare Ps 115:17, 18; Isa 38:18). There is no incredulity as to a future state. The contrast is between this scene of life, and the grave or Sheol, the unseen world of the dead.
give … thanks–or, “praise for mercies.”
6. By a strong figure the abundance as well as intensity of grief is depicted.
7. consumed–or, “has failed,” denoting general debility (Ps 13:3; 38:10).
waxeth old–or, “dim.”
grief–mingled with indignation.
8, 9. Assured of God’s hearing, he suddenly defies his enemies by an address indicating that he no longer fears them.
10. and knows they will be disappointed and in their turn (compare Ps 6:3) be terror-stricken or confounded.
Ps 7:1-17. Shiggaion–a plaintive song or elegy. Though obscure in details, this title seems to intimate that the occasion of this Psalm was some event in David’s persecution by Saul. He prays for relief because he is innocent, and God will be glorified in his vindication. He thus passes to the celebration of God’s righteous government, in defending the upright and punishing the wicked, whose malignant devices will result in their own ruin; and, confident of God’s aid, he closes with rejoicing.
1, 2. Though many enemies set upon him, one is singled out as prominent, and compared to a wild beast tearing his prey to pieces (compare 1Sa 20:1; 23:23; 26:19).
3. if I have done this–that is, the crime charged in the “words of Cush” (compare 1Sa 24:9).
4. If I have injured my friend.
yea, I have delivered, &c.–This makes a good sense, but interrupts the course of thought, and hence it is proposed to render, “if I have spoiled my enemy”–in either case (compare 1Sa 24:4-17; 31:8, 11).
5. This is the consequence, if such has been his conduct.
mine honour–(compare Ps 3:3; 4:2)–my personal and official dignity.
6. God is involved as if hitherto careless of him (Ps 3:7; 9:18).
rage–the most violent, like a flood rising over a river’s banks.
the judgment … commanded–or, “ordained”; a just decision.
7. compass thee–as those seeking justice.
return thou on high–assume the judgment seat, to be honored as a just Ruler by them.
8. Though not claiming innocence in general, he can confidently do so in this case, and in demanding from the Judge of all the earth a judgment, he virtually asks acquittal.
9. the hearts and reins–the affections and motives of men, or the seat of them (compare Ps 16:7; 26:2); as we use heart and bosom or breast.
10. defence–literally, “shield” (Ps 5:12).
11. judgeth–as in Ps 7:8.
the wicked–Though not expressed, they are implied, for they alone are left as objects of anger.
12, 13. They are here distinctly pointed out, though by changing the person, a very common mode of speech, one is selected as a representative of wicked men generally. The military figures are of obvious meaning.
13. against the persecutors–Some render “for burning,” but the former is the best sense. Arrows for burning would be appropriate in besieging a town, not in warring against one man or a company in open fight.
14. The first clause expresses the general idea that wicked men labor to do evil, the others carry out the figure fully.
15, 16. 1Sa 18:17; 31:2 illustrate the statement whether alluded to or not. These verses are expository of Ps 7:14, showing how the devices of the wicked end in disappointment, falsifying their expectations.
17. his righteousness–(Ps 5:8). Thus illustrated in the defense of His servant and punishment of the wicked.
Ps 8:1-9. Upon [or according to the] Gittith, probably means that the musical performance was directed to be according to a tune of that name; which, derived from Gath, a “wine-press,” denotes a tune (used in connection with gathering the vintage) of a joyous character. All the Psalms to which this term is prefixed [Ps 8:1; 81:1; 84:1] are of such a character. The Psalmist gives vent to his admiration of God’s manifested perfections, by celebrating His condescending and beneficent providence to man as evinced by the position of the race, as originally created and assigned a dominion over the works of His hands.
1. thy name–perfections (Ps 5:11; 7:17).
who hast set–literally, “which set Thou Thy glory,” &c., or “which glory of Thine set Thou,” &c., that is, make it more conspicuous as if earth were too small a theater for its display. A similar exposition suits the usual rendering.
2. So manifest are God’s perfections, that by very weak instruments He conclusively sets forth His praise. Infants are not only wonderful illustrations of God’s power and skill, in their physical constitution, instincts, and early developed intelligence, but also in their spontaneous admiration of God’s works, by which they put to shame–
still–or, silence men who rail and cavil against God. A special illustration of the passage is afforded in Mt 21:16, when our Saviour stilled the cavillers by quoting these words; for the glories with which God invested His incarnate Son, even in His humiliation, constitute a most wonderful display of the perfections of His wisdom, love, and power. In view of the scope of Ps 8:4-8 (see below), this quotation by our Saviour may be regarded as an exposition of the prophetical character of the words.
sucklings–among the Hebrews were probably of an age to speak (compare 1Sa 1:22-24; Mr 7:27).
ordained–founded, or prepared, and perfected, which occurs in Mt 21:16; taken from the Septuagint, has the same meaning.
strength–In the quotation in the New Testament, praise occurs as the consequence or effect put for the cause (compare Ps 118:14).
avenger–as in Ps 44:16; one desirous of revenge, disposed to be quarrelsome, and so apt to cavil against God’s government.
3, 4. The allusion to the magnificence of the visible heavens is introduced for the purpose of illustrating God’s condescension, who, though the mighty Creator of these glorious worlds of light, makes man the object of regard and recipient of favor.
4. man–literally, “frail man,” an allusion to his essential infirmity.
son of man–only varies the form of speech.
visitest–in favor (Ps 65:10). This favor is now more fully illustrated.
5-8. God has placed man next in dignity to angels, and but a little lower, and has crowned him with the empire of the world.
glory and honour–are the attributes of royal dignity (Ps 21:5; 45:3). The position assigned man is that described (Ge 1:26-28) as belonging to Adam, in his original condition, the terms employed in detailing the subjects of man’s dominion corresponding with those there used. In a modified sense, in his present fallen state, man is still invested with some remains of this original dominion. It is very evident, however, by the apostle’s inspired expositions (Heb 2:6-8; 1Co 15:27, 28) that the language here employed finds its fulfilment only in the final exaltation of Christ’s human nature. There is no limit to the “all things” mentioned, God only excepted, who “puts all things under.” Man, in the person and glorious destiny of Jesus of Nazareth, the second Adam, the head and representative of the race, will not only be restored to his original position, but exalted far beyond it. “The last enemy, death,” through fear of which, man, in his present estate, is “all his lifetime in bondage” [Heb 2:15], “shall be destroyed” [1Co 15:26]. Then all things will have been put under his feet, “principalities and powers being made subject to him” [1Pe 3:22]. This view, so far from being alien from the scope of the passage, is more consistent than any other; for man as a race cannot well be conceived to have a higher honor put upon him than to be thus exalted in the person and destiny of Jesus of Nazareth. And at the same time, by no other of His glorious manifestations has God more illustriously declared those attributes which distinguish His name than in the scheme of redemption, of which this economy forms such an important and essential feature. In the generic import of the language, as describing man’s present relation to the works of God’s hands, it may be regarded as typical, thus allowing not only the usual application, but also this higher sense which the inspired writers of the New Testament have assigned it.
9. Appropriately, the writer closes this brief but pregnant and sublime song of praise with the terms of admiration with which it was opened.
Ps 9:1-20. Upon Muthlabben, or, after the manner according to “death to the Son,” by which some song was known, to whose air or melody the musician is directed to perform this Psalm. This mode of denoting a song by some prominent word or words is still common (compare Ps 22:1). The Psalmist praises God for deliverance from his enemies and celebrates the divine government, for providing security to God’s people and punishment to the wicked. Thus encouraging himself, he prays for new occasions to recount God’s mercies, and confident of His continued judgment on the wicked and vindication of the oppressed, he implores a prompt and efficient manifestation of the divine sovereignty.
1. Heartfelt gratitude will find utterance.
3-5. When … are turned back–It is the result of God’s power alone. He, as a righteous Judge (Ps 7:11), vindicates His people. He rebukes by acts as well as words (Ps 6:1; 18:15), and so effectually as to destroy the names of nations as well as persons.
6. Literally, “As to the enemy finished are his ruins for ever. Thou [God] hast destroyed,” &c. (1Sa 15:3, 7; 27:8, 9). The wicked are utterly undone. Their ruins shall never be repaired.
7, 8. God’s eternal possession of a throne of justice is contrasted with the ruin of the wicked.
9, 10. The oppressed, and all who know Him (Ps 5:3; 7:1), find Him a sure refuge.
11. (Compare Ps 2:6; 3:4).
12. for blood–that is, murders (Ps 5:6), including all the oppressions of His people.
maketh inquisition–(compare Ge 9:5). He will avenge their cause.
13. gates–or, “regions.”
of death–Gates being the entrance is put for the bounds.
14. gates … Zion–The enclosure of the city (compare Ps 48:12; Isa 23:12), or, church, as denoted by this phrase contrasted with that of death, carries out the idea of exaltation as well as deliverance. Signal favors should lead us to render signal and public thanks.
15, 16. The undesigned results of the devices of the wicked prove them to be of God’s overruling or ordering, especially when those results are destructive to the wicked themselves.
16. Higgaion–means “meditation,” and, combined with Selah, seems to denote a pause of unusual solemnity and emphasis (compare Ps 3:2). Though Selah occurs seventy-three times, this is the only case in which Higgaion is found. In the view which is given here of the retribution on the wicked as an instance of God’s wise and holy ordering, we may well pause in adoring wonder and faith.
17. shall be turned–or, “shall turn,” retreating under God’s vengeance, and driven by Him to the extreme of destruction, even hell itself. Those who forget God are classed with the depraved and openly profane.
18. (Compare Ps 13:1-6).
the needy–literally, “poor,” as deprived of anything; hence miserable.
expectation of the poor–or, “meek,” “humble,” made so by affliction.
19. Arise–(compare Ps 4:7).
let not man–(Ps 8:4).
let … be judged–and of course condemned.
20. By their effectual subjection, make them to realize their frail nature (Ps 8:4), and deter them from all conceit and future rebellion.
Ps 10:1-18. The Psalmist mourns God’s apparent indifference to his troubles, which are aggravated by the successful malice, blasphemy, pride, deceit, and profanity of the wicked. On the just and discriminating providence of God he relies for the destruction of their false security, and the defense of the needy.
1. These are, of course, figurative terms (compare Ps 7:6; 13:1, &c.).
hidest–Supply “thine eyes” or “face.”
2. Literally, “In pride of the wicked they (the poor or humble, Ps 10:17; 12:5) shall be taken in the devices they (the proud) have imagined.”
3. heart’s–or, “soul’s.”
desire–that is, his success in evil.
and blesseth, &c.–he (the wicked) blesseth the covetous, he despiseth the Lord.
4. The face expresses the self-conceit, whose fruit is practical atheism (Ps 14:1).
5, 6. Such is his confidence in the permanence of his way or course of life, that he disregards God’s providential government (out of sight, because he will not look, Isa 26:11), sneers at his enemies, and boasts perpetual freedom from evil.
7-10. The malignity and deceit (Ps 140:3) of such are followed by acts combining cunning, fraud, and violence (compare Pr 1:11, 18), aptly illustrated by the habits of the lion, and of hunters taking their prey. “Poor,” in Ps 10:8, 10, 14, represents a word peculiar to this Psalm, meaning the sad or sorrowful; in Ps 10:9, as usual, it means the pious or meek sufferer.
8. eyes … privily–He watches with half-closed eyes, appearing not to see.
10. croucheth–as a lion gathers himself into as small compass as possible to make the greater spring.
fall by his strong ones–The figure of the lion is dropped, and this phrase means the accomplices of the chief or leading wicked man.
11. As before, such conduct implies disbelief or disregard of God’s government.
12. (Compare Ps 9:19; 3:7).
the humble–(Compare Ps 10:17, and Margin.)
lift up thine hand–exert thy power.
13, 14. It is in vain to suppose God will overlook sin, however forbearing; for He carefully examines or beholds all wickedness, and will mark it by His providential (Thine hand) punishment.
14. mischief and spite–provocation and trouble of the sufferer (compare Ps 6:7; 7:14).
committeth–or, “leaves (his burden) on Thee.”
till thou find none–So far from not requiting (Ps 10:11, 13), God will utterly destroy the wicked and his deeds (Ps 9:5, 6; 34:16; 37:36).
16-18. God reigns. The wicked, if for a time successful, shall be cut off. He hears and confirms the hearts of His suffering people (Ps 112:7), executes justice for the feeble, and represses the pride and violence of conceited, though frail, men (compare Ps 9:16).
Ps 11:1-7. On title, see Introduction. Alluding to some event in his history, as in 1Sa 23:13, the Psalmist avows his confidence in God, when admonished to flee from his raging persecutors, whose destruction of the usual foundations of safety rendered all his efforts useless. The grounds of his confidence are God’s supreme dominion, His watchful care of His people, His hatred to the wicked and judgments on them, and His love for righteousness and the righteous.
1. my soul–me (Ps 3:2).
Flee–literally, “flee ye”; that is, he and his companion.
as a bird to your mountain–having as such no safety but in flight (compare 1Sa 26:20; La 3:52).
2. privily–literally, “in darkness,” treacherously.
3. Literally, “The foundations (that is, of good order and law) will be destroyed, what has the righteous done (to sustain them)?” All his efforts have failed.
4. temple … heaven–The connection seems to denote God’s heavenly residence; the term used is taken from the place of His visible earthly abode (Ps 2:6; 3:4; 5:7). Thence He inspects men with close scrutiny.
5. The trial of the righteous results in their approval, as it is contrasted with God’s hatred to the wicked.
6. Their punishment is described by vivid figures denoting abundant, sudden, furious, and utter destruction (compare Ge 19:24; Job 18:15; Ps 7:15; 9:15).
cup–is a frequent figure for God’s favor or wrath (Ps 16:5; 23:5; Mt 20:22, 23).
7. his countenance–literally, “their faces,” a use of the plural applied to God, as in Ge 1:26; 3:22; 11:7; Isa 6:8, &c., denoting the fulness of His perfections, or more probably originating in a reference to the trinity of persons. “Faces” is used as “eyes” (Ps 11:4), expressing here God’s complacency towards the upright (compare Ps 34:15, 16).
Ps 12:1-8. On title, see Introduction and see on Ps 6:1. The Psalmist laments the decrease of good men. The pride and deceit of the wicked provokes God’s wrath, whose promise to avenge the cause of pious sufferers will be verified even amidst prevailing iniquity.
1. the faithful–or literally, “faithfulness” (Ps 31:23).
2. The want of it is illustrated by the prevalence of deceit and instability.
3, 4. Boasting (Da 7:25) is, like flattery, a species of lying.
lips, and … tongue–for persons.
5. The writer intimates his confidence by depicting God’s actions (compare Ps 9:19; 10:12) as coming to save the poor at whom the wicked sneer (Ps 10:5).
6. The words–literally, “saying of” (Ps 12:5).
seven times–thoroughly (Da 3:19).
8. The wicked roam undisturbed doing evil, when vileness and vile men are exalted.
Ps 13:1-6. On title, see Introduction. The Psalmist, mourning God’s absence and the triumph of his enemies, prays for relief before he is totally destroyed, and is encouraged to hope his trust will not be in vain.
1. The forms of expression and figure here used are frequent (compare Ps 9:12, 18; 10:11, 12).
How long … for ever–Shall it be for ever?
2. The counsels or devices of his heart afford no relief.
3. lighten mine eyes–dim with weakness, denoting approaching death (compare 1Sa 14:27-29; Ps 6:7; 38:10).
4. rejoice–literally, “shout as in triumph.”
I am moved–cast down from a firm position (Ps 10:6).
5, 6. Trust is followed by rejoicing in the deliverance which God effects, and, instead of his enemy, he can lift the song of triumph.
Ps 14:1-7. The practical atheism and total and universal depravity of the wicked, with their hatred to the good, are set forth. Yet, as they dread God’s judgments when He vindicates His people, the Psalmist prays for His delivering power.
1. Sinners are termed “fools,” because they think and act contrary to right reason (Ge 34:7; Jos 7:15; Ps 39:8; 74:18, 22).
in his heart–to himself (Ge 6:12).
2. looked–in earnest enquiry.
understand–as opposed to “fool” [Ps 14:1].
3. filthy–literally, “spoiled,” or, “soured,” “corrupted” (Job 15:16; Ro 3:12).
4-6. Their conduct evinces indifference rather than ignorance of God; for when He appears in judgment, they are stricken with great fear.
who eat up my people–to express their beastly fury (Pr 30:14; Hab 3:14). To “call on the Lord” is to worship Him.
7. captivity–denotes any great evil.
Zion–God’s abode, from which He revealed His purposes of mercy, as He now does by the Church (compare Ps 3:4; 20:2), and which He rules and in which He does all other things for the good of His people (Eph 1:22).
Ps 15:1-5. Those who are fit for communion with God may be known by a conformity to His law, which is illustrated in various important particulars.
1. abide–or, “sojourn” (compare Ps 5:4), where it means under God’s protection here, as (Ps 23:6, 27:4, 6) communion.
tabernacle–seat of the ark (2Sa 6:17), the symbol of God’s presence.
holy hill–(Compare Ps 2:6).
2. walketh–(Compare Ps 1:1).
uprightly–in a complete manner, as to all parts of conduct (Ge 17:1), not as to degree.
righteousness–what is right.
in his heart–sincerely (Pr 23:7).
3. He neither slanders nor spreads slander.
4. Love and hate are regulated by a regard to God.
sweareth … hurt–or what so results (compare Le 5:4).
5. (Compare Le 25:37; De 23:19, 20).
usury is derived from a verb meaning “to bite.” All gains made by the wrongful loss of others are forbidden.
taketh reward, &c.–The innocent would not otherwise be condemned (compare Ex 23:8; De 16:19). Bribery of all sorts is denounced.
doeth these, &c.–Such persons admitted to God’s presence and favor shall never be moved (Ps 10:6; 13:5).
Ps 16:1-11. Michtam, or, by the change of one letter, Michtab–a “writing,” such as a poem or song (compare Isa 38:9). Such a change of the letter m for b was not unusual. The position of this word in connection with the author’s name, being that usually occupied by some term, such as Psalm or song, denoting the style or matter of the composition, favors this view of its meaning, though we know not why this and Psalms 56-60 should be specially, called “a writing.” “A golden (Psalm),” or “a memorial” are explanations proposed by some–neither of which, however applicable here, appears adapted to the other Psalms where the term occurs. According to Peter (Ac 2:25) and Paul (Ac 13:35), this Psalm relates to Christ and expresses the feelings of His human nature, in view of His sufferings and victory over death and the grave, including His subsequent exaltation at the right hand of God. Such was the exposition of the best earlier Christian interpreters. Some moderns have held that the Psalm relates exclusively to David; but this view is expressly contradicted by the apostles; others hold that the language of the Psalm is applicable to David as a type of Christ, capable of the higher sense assigned it in the New Testament. But then the language of Ps 16:10 cannot be used of David in any sense, for “he saw corruption.” Others again propose to refer the first part to David, and the last to Christ; but it is evident that no change in the subject of the Psalm is indicated. Indeed, the person who appeals to God for help is evidently the same who rejoices in having found it. In referring the whole Psalm to Christ, it is, however, by no means denied that much of its language is expressive of the feelings of His people, so far as in their humble measure they have the feelings of trust in God expressed by Him, their head and representative. Such use of His language, as recorded in His last prayer (Joh 17:1-26), and even that which He used in Gethsemane, under similar modifications, is equally proper. The propriety of this reference of the Psalm to Christ will appear in the scope and interpretation. In view of the sufferings before Him, the Saviour, with that instinctive dread of death manifested in Gethsemane, calls on God to “preserve” Him; He avows His delight in holiness and abhorrence of the wicked and their wickedness; and for “the joy that was set before Him, despising the shame” [Heb 12:2], encourages Himself; contemplating the glories of the heritage appointed Him. Thus even death and the grave lose their terrors in the assurance of the victory to be attained and “the glory that should follow” [1Pe 1:11].
1. Preserve me, &c.–keep or watch over my interests.
in thee … I … trust–as one seeking shelter from pressing danger.
2. my soul–must be supplied; expressed in similar cases (Ps 42:5, 11).
my goodness … thee–This obscure passage is variously expounded. Either one of two expositions falls in with the context. “My goodness” or merit is not on account of Thee–that is, is not for Thy benefit. Then follows the contrast of Ps 16:3 (but is), in respect, or for the saints, &c.–that is, it enures to them. Or, my goodness–or happiness is not besides Thee–that is, without Thee I have no other source of happiness. Then, “to the saints,” &c., means that the same privilege of deriving happiness from God only is theirs. The first is the most consonant with the Messianic character of the Psalm, though the latter is not inconsistent with it.
3. saints–or, persons consecrated to God, set apart from others to His service.
in the earth–that is, land of Palestine, the residence of God’s chosen people–figuratively for the Church.
excellent–or, “nobles,” distinguished for moral excellence.
4. He expresses his abhorrence of those who seek other sources of happiness or objects of worship, and, by characterizing their rites by drink offerings of blood, clearly denotes idolaters. The word for “sorrows” is by some rendered “idols”; but, though a similar word to that for idols, it is not the same. In selecting such a term, there may be an allusion, by the author, to the sorrows produced by idolatrous practices.
5-7. God is the chief good, and supplies all need (De 10:9).
portion of mine inheritance and of my cup–may contain an allusion to the daily supply of food, and also to the inheritance of Levi (De 18:1, 2).
maintainest–or, drawest out my lot–enlargest it. Ps 16:7 carries out this idea more fully.
7. given me counsel–cared for me.
my reins–the supposed seat of emotion and thought (Ps 7:9; 26:2).
instruct me–or, excite to acts of praise (Isa 53:11, 12; Heb 12:2).
8. With God’s presence and aid he is sure of safety (Ps 10:6; 15:5; Joh 12:27, 28; Heb 5:7, 8).
9. glory–as heart (Ps 7:5), for self. In Ac 2:26, after the Septuagint, “my tongue” as “the glory of the frame”–the instrument for praising God.
flesh–If taken as opposed to soul (Ps 16:10), it may mean the body; otherwise, the whole person (compare Ps 63:1; 84:2).
rest in hope–(compare Margin).
10. soul–or, “self.” This use of “soul” for the person is frequent (Ge 12:5; 46:26; Ps 3:2; 7:2; 11:1), even when the body may be the part chiefly affected, as in Ps 35:13; 105:18. Some cases are cited, as Le 22:4; Nu 6:6; 9:6, 10; 19:13; Hag 2:13, &c., which seem to justify assigning the meaning of body, or dead body; but it will be found that the latter sense is given by some adjunct expressed or implied. In those cases person is the proper sense.
wilt not leave … hell–abandon to the power of (Job 39:14; Ps 49:10). Hell as (Ge 42:38; Ps 6:5; Jon 2:2) the state or region of death, and so frequently–or the grave itself (Job 14:13; 17:13; Ec 9:10, &c.). So the Greek Hades (compare Ac 2:27, 31). The context alone can settle whether the state mentioned is one of suffering and place of the damned (compare Ps 9:17; Pr 5:5; 7:27).
wilt … suffer–literally, “give” or “appoint.”
Holy One–(Ps 4:3), one who is the object of God’s favor, and so a recipient of divine grace which he exhibits–pious.
to see–or, “experience”–undergo (Lu 2:26).
corruption–Some render the word, the pit, which is possible, but for the obvious sense which the apostle’s exposition (Ac 2:27; 13:36, 37) gives. The sense of the whole passage is clearly this: by the use of flesh and soul, the disembodied state produced by death is indicated; but, on the other hand, no more than the state of death is intended; for the last clause of Ps 16:10 is strictly parallel with the first, and Holy One corresponds to soul, and corruption to hell. As Holy One, or David (Ac 13:36, 37), which denotes the person, including soul and body, is used for body, of which only corruption can be predicated (compare Ac 2:31); so, on the contrary, soul, which literally means the immaterial part, is used for the person. The language may be thus paraphrased, “In death I shall hope for resurrection; for I shall not be left under its dominion and within its bounds, or be subject to the corruption which ordinarily ensues.”
11. Raised from the dead, he shall die no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
Thou wilt show me–guide me to attain.
the path of life–or, “lives”–the plural denoting variety and abundance–immortal blessedness of every sort–as “life” often denotes.
in thy presence–or, “before Thy faces.” The frequent use of this plural form for “faces” may contain an allusion to the Trinity (Nu 6:25, 26; Ps 17:15; 31:16).
at thy right hand–to which Christ was exalted (Ps 110:1; Ac 2:33; Col 3:1; Heb 1:3). In the glories of this state, He shall see of the travail (Isa 53:10, 11; Php 2:9) of His soul, and be satisfied.
Ps 17:1-15. This Psalm is termed a prayer because the language of petition is predominant. With a just cause, sincerely presented, the writer prays for a just decision and help and protection. Pleading former mercies as a ground of hope, he urges his prayer in view of the malice, pride, rapacity, and selfishness of his foes, whose character is contrasted with his pious devotion and delight in God’s favor.
2. sentence–acquitting judgment.
from thy presence–Thy tribunal.
things that are equal–just and right, do Thou regard.
3. proved … visited … tried–His character was most rigidly tested, at all times, and by all methods, affliction and others (Ps 7:10).
purposed that, &c.–or, my mouth does not exceed my purpose; I am sincere.
4. works of men–sinful practices.
by the word of thy lips–as a guide (Ps 119:9, 11, 95).
5. May be read as an assertion “my steps or goings have held on to Thy paths.”
6. wilt hear me–that is, graciously (Ps 3:4).
7. Show–set apart as special and eminent (Ex 8:18; Ps 4:3).
thy right hand–for Thy power.
8. Similar figures, denoting the preciousness of God’s people in His sight, in De 32:10, 11; Mt 23:37.
9. compass me–(compare Ps 118:10-12).
10. enclosed … fat–are become proud in prosperity, and insolent to God (De 32:15; Ps 73:7).
11. They pursue us as beasts tracking their prey.
12. The figure made more special by that of a lion lurking.
13-15. disappoint–literally, “come before,” or, “encounter him.” Supply “with” before “sword” (Ps 17:13), and “hand” (Ps 17:14). These denote God’s power.
14. men … world–all men of this present time. They appear, by fulness of bread and large families, to be prosperous; but (Ps 17:15) he implies this will be transient, contrasting his better portion in a joyful union with God hereafter.
Ps 18:1-50. “The servant of the Lord,” which in the Hebrew precedes “David,” is a significant part of the title (and not a mere epithet of David), denoting the inspired character of the song, as the production of one entrusted with the execution of God’s will. He was not favored by God because he served Him, but served Him because selected and appointed by God in His sovereign mercy. After a general expression of praise and confidence in God for the future, David gives a sublimely poetical description of God’s deliverance, which he characterizes as an illustration of God’s justice to the innocent and His righteous government. His own prowess and success are celebrated as the results of divine aid, and, confident of its continuance, he closes in terms of triumphant praise. 2Sa 22:1-51 is a copy of this Psalm, with a few unimportant variations recorded there as a part of the history, and repeated here as part of a collection designed for permanent use.
1. I will love thee–with most tender affection.
2, 3. The various terms used describe God as an object of the most implicit and reliable trust.
rock–literally, “a cleft rock,” for concealment.
strength–a firm, immovable rock.
horn of my salvation–The horn, as the means of attack or defense of some of the strongest animals, is a frequent emblem of power or strength efficiently exercised (compare De 33:17; Lu 1:69).
tower–literally, “high place,” beyond reach of danger.
3. to be praised–for past favors, and worthy of confidence.
4. sorrows–literally, “bands as of a net” (Ps 116:3).
5. death–and hell (compare Ps 16:10) are personified as man’s great enemies (compare Re 20:13, 14).
prevented–encountered me, crossed my path, and endangered my safety. He does not mean he was in their power.
6. He relates his methods to procure relief when distressed, and his success.
temple–(Compare Ps 11:4).
7, 8. God’s coming described in figures drawn from His appearance on Sinai (compare De 32:22).
8. smoke out … his nostrils–bitter in His wrath (compare Ps 74:1).
by it–that is, the fire (Ex 19:18).
9. darkness–or, a dense cloud (Ex 19:16; De 5:22).
10. cherub–angelic agents (compare Ge 3:24), the figures of which were placed over the ark (1Sa 4:4), representing God’s dwelling; used here to enhance the majesty of the divine advent. Angels and winds may represent all rational and irrational agencies of God’s providence (compare Ps 104:3, 4).
did fly–Rapidity of motion adds to the grandeur of the scene.
11. dark waters–or, clouds heavy with vapor.
12. Out of this obscurity, which impresses the beholder with awe and dread, He reveals Himself by sudden light and the means of His terrible wrath (Jos 10:11; Ps 78:47).
13. The storm breaks forth–thunder follows lightning, and hail with repeated lightning, as often seen, like balls or coals of fire, succeed (Ex 9:23).
14. The fiery brightness of lightning, in shape like burning arrows rapidly shot through the air, well represents the most terrible part of an awful storm. Before the terrors of such a scene the enemies are confounded and overthrown in dismay.
15. The tempest of the air is attended by appropriate results on earth. The language, though not expressive of any special physical changes, represents the utter subversion of the order of nature. Before such a God none can stand.
16-19. from above–As seated on a throne, directing these terrible scenes, God–
sent–His hand (Ps 144:7), reached down to His humble worshipper, and delivered him.
many waters–calamities (Job 30:14; Ps 124:4, 5).
18. prevented–(Ps 18:3).
19. a large place–denotes safety or relief, as contrasted with the straits of distress (Ps 4:1). All his deliverance is ascribed to God, and this sublime poetical representation is given to inspire the pious with confidence and the wicked with dread.
20-24. The statements of innocence, righteousness, &c., refer, doubtless, to his personal and official conduct and his purposes, during all the trials to which he was subjected in Saul’s persecutions and Absalom’s rebellions, as well as the various wars in which he had been engaged as the head and defender of God’s Church and people.
23. upright before him–In my relation to God I have been perfect as to all parts of His law. The perfection does not relate to degree.
mine iniquity–perhaps the thought of his heart to kill Saul (1Sa 24:6). That David does not allude to all his conduct, in all relations, is evident from Ps 51:1, &c.
25-27. God renders to men according to their deeds in a penal, not vindictive, sense (Le 26:23, 24).
merciful–or, “kind” (Ps 4:3).
26. froward–contrary to.
27. the afflicted people–that is, the humbly pious.
high looks–pride (Ps 101:5; 131:1).
28. To give one light is to make prosperous (Job 18:5, 6; 21:17).
thou–is emphatic, as if to say, I can fully confide in Thee for help.
29. And this on past experience in his military life, set forth by these figures.
30-32. God’s perfection is the source of his own, which has resulted from his trust on the one hand, and God’s promised help on the other.
tried–“as metals are tried by fire and proved genuine” (Ps 12:6). Shield (Ps 3:3). Girding was essential to free motion on account of the looseness of Oriental dresses; hence it is an expressive figure for describing the gift of strength.
33-36. God’s help farther described. He gives swiftness to pursue or elude his enemies (Hab 3:19), strength, protection, and a firm footing.
35. thy gentleness–as applied to God–condescension–or that which He gives, in the sense of humility (compare Pr 22:4).
36. enlarged my steps–made ample room (compare Pr 4:12).
37-41. In actual conflict, with God’s aid, the defeat of his enemies is certain. A present and continued success is expressed.
39. that rose up against me–literally, “insurgents” (Ps 3:1; 44:5).
40. given me the necks–literally, “backs of the necks”; made them retreat (Ex 23:27; Jos 7:8).
42. This conquest was complete.
43-45. Not only does He conquer civil foes, but foreigners, who are driven from their places of refuge.
44. submit, &c.–(compare Margin)–that is, show a forced subjection.
46. The Lord liveth–contrasts Him with idols (1Co 8:4).
47, 48. avengeth me–His cause is espoused by God as His own.
48. liftest me up–to safety and honors.
49, 50. Paul (Ro 15:9) quotes from this doxology to show that under the Old Testament economy, others than the Jews were regarded as subjects of that spiritual government of which David was head, and in which character his deliverances and victories were typical of the more illustrious triumphs of David’s greater Son. The language of Ps 18:50 justifies this view in its distinct allusion to the great promise (compare 2Sa 7:12). In all David’s successes he saw the pledges of a fulfilment of that promise, and he mourned in all his adversities, not only in view of his personal suffering, but because he saw in them evidences of danger to the great interests which were committed to his keeping. It is in these aspects of his character that we are led properly to appreciate the importance attached to his sorrows and sufferings, his joys and successes.
Ps 19:1-14. After exhibiting the harmonious revelation of God’s perfections made by His works and His word, the Psalmist prays for conformity to the Divine teaching.
1. the glory of God–is the sum of His perfections (Ps 24:7-10; Ro 1:20).
firmament–another word for “heavens” (Ge 1:8).
handywork–old English for “work of His hands.”
2. uttereth–pours forth as a stream; a perpetual testimony.
3. Though there is no articulate speech or words, yet without these their voice is heard (compare Margin).
4. Their line–or, “instruction”–the influence exerted by their tacit display of God’s perfections. Paul (Ro 10:18), quoting from the Septuagint, uses “sound,” which gives the same sense.
5, 6. The sun, as the most glorious heavenly body, is specially used to illustrate the sentiment; and his vigorous, cheerful, daily, and extensive course, and his reviving heat (including light), well display the wondrous wisdom of his Maker.
7-9. The law is described by six names, epithets, and effects. It is a rule, God’s testimony for the truth, His special and general prescription of duty, fear (as its cause) and judicial decision. It is distinct and certain, reliable, right, pure, holy, and true. Hence it revives those depressed by doubts, makes wise the unskilled (2Ti 3:15), rejoices the lover of truth, strengthens the desponding (Ps 13:4; 34:6), provides permanent principles of conduct, and by God’s grace brings a rich reward.
12-14. The clearer our view of the law, the more manifest are our sins. Still for its full effect we need divine grace to show us our faults, acquit us, restrain us from the practice, and free us from the power, of sin. Thus only can our conduct be blameless, and our words and thoughts acceptable to God.
Ps 20:1-9. David probably composed this Psalm to express the prayers of the pious for his success as at once the head of the Church and nation. Like other compositions of which David in such relations is the subject, its sentiments have a permanent value–the prosperity of Christ’s kingdom being involved, as well as typified, in that of Israel and its king.
1. hear thee–graciously (Ps 4:1).
name of–or manifested perfections, as power, wisdom, &c.
defend thee–set thee on high from danger (Ps 9:9; 18:3).
2. strengthen thee–sustain in conflict; even physical benefits may be included, as courage for war, &c., as such may proceed from a sense of divine favor, secured in the use of spiritual privileges.
3. all thy offerings–or gifts, vegetable offerings.
accept–literally, “turn to ashes” (compare 1Ki 18:38).
Selah–(See on Ps 3:2).
4. thy counsel–or plan.
5. salvation–that wrought and experienced by him.
set up our banners–(Nu 2:3, 10). In usual sense, or, as some render, “may we be made great.”
6. He speaks as if suddenly assured of a hearing.
his anointed–not only David personally, but as the specially appointed head of His Church.
his holy heaven–or, literally, “the heavens of His holiness,” where He resides (Ps 2:6; 11:4).
saving … hand–His power which brings salvation.
7. remember–or cause to remember, mention thankfully (1Sa 17:45; Ps 33:16).
8. They–that is, who trust in horses, &c.
stand upright–literally, “we have straightened ourselves up from our distress and fears.”
9. let the king hear–as God’s representative, delivered to deliver. Perhaps a better sense is, “Lord, save the king; hear us when we call,” or pray.
Ps 21:1-13. The pious are led by the Psalmist to celebrate God’s favor to the king in the already conferred and in prospective victories. The doxology added may relate to both Psalms; the preceding of petition, chiefly this of thanksgiving, ascribing honor to God for His display of grace and power to His Church in all ages, not only under David, but also under his last greatest successor, “the King of the Jews.”
1. thy strength … thy salvation–as supplied by Thee.
2. The sentiment affirmed in the first clause is reaffirmed by the negation of its opposite in the second.
3. preventest–literally, “to meet here in good sense,” or “friendship” (Ps 59:10; compare opposite, Ps 17:13).
blessings of goodness–which confer happiness.
crown of pure gold–a figure for the highest royal prosperity.
4-6. (Compare 2Sa 7:13-16). The glory and blessedness of the king as head of his line, including Christ, as well as in being God’s specially selected servant, exceeded that of all others.
6. made him most blessed–or set him “to be blessings,” as Abraham (Ge 12:2).
with thy countenance–by sight of thee (Ps 16:11), or by Thy favor expressed by the light of Thy countenance (Nu 6:25), or both.
7. The mediate cause is the king’s faith, the efficient, God’s mercy.
8. The address is now made to the king.
hand–denotes power, and
right hand–a more active and efficient degree of its exercise.
find out–reach, lay hold of, indicating success in pursuit of his enemies.
9. The king is only God’s agent.
anger–literally, “face,” as appearing against them.
as a fiery oven–as in it.
10. fruit–children (Ps 37:25; Ho 9:16).
11. This terrible overthrow, reaching to posterity, is due to their crimes (Ex 20:5, 6).
12. turn their back–literally, “place them [as to the] shoulder.”
against the face of them–The shooting against their faces would cause them to turn their backs in flight.
13. The glory of all is ascribable to God alone.
Ps 22:1-31. The obscure words Aijeleth Shahar in this title have various explanations. Most interpreters agree in translating them by “hind of the morning.” But great difference exists as to the meaning of these words. By some they are supposed (compare Ps 9:1) to be the name of the tune to which the words of the Psalm were set; by others, the name of a musical instrument. Perhaps the best view is to regard the phrase as enigmatically expressive of the subject–the sufferer being likened to a hind pursued by hunters in the early morning (literally, “the dawn of day”)–or that, while hind suggests the idea of a meek, innocent sufferer, the addition of morning denotes relief obtained. The feelings of a pious sufferer in sorrow and deliverance are vividly portrayed. He earnestly pleads for divine aid on the ground of his relation to God, whose past goodness to His people encourages hope, and then on account of the imminent danger by which he is threatened. The language of complaint is turned to that of rejoicing in the assured prospect of relief from suffering and triumph over his enemies. The use of the words of the first clause of Ps 22:1 by our Saviour on the cross, and the quotation of Ps 22:18 by John (Joh 19:24), and of Ps 22:22 by Paul (Heb 2:12), as fulfilled in His history, clearly intimate the prophetical and Messianic purport of the Psalm. The intensity of the grief, and the completeness and glory of the deliverance and triumph, alike appear to be unsuitable representations of the fortunes of any less personage. In a general and modified sense (see on Ps 16:1), the experience here detailed may be adapted to the case of all Christians suffering from spiritual foes, and delivered by divine aid, inasmuch as Christ in His human nature was their head and representative.
1. A summary of the complaint. Desertion by God, when overwhelmed by distress, is the climax of the sufferer’s misery.
words of my roaring–shows that the complaint is expressed intelligently, though the term “roaring” is figurative, taken from the conduct of irrational creatures in pain.
2. The long distress is evinced by–
am not silent–literally, “not silence to me,” either meaning, I continually cry; or, corresponding with “thou hearest not,” or answerest not, it may mean, there is no rest or quiet to me.
3. Still he not only refrains from charging God foolishly, but evinces his confidence in God by appealing to Him.
thou art holy–or possessed of all the attributes which encourage trust, and the right object of the praises of the Church: hence the sufferer need not despair.
4, 5. Past experience of God’s people is a ground of trust. The mention of “our fathers” does not destroy the applicability of the words as the language of our Saviour’s human nature.
6. He who was despised and rejected of His own people, as a disgrace to the nation, might well use these words of deep abasement, which express not His real, but esteemed, value.
7, 8. For the Jews used one of the gestures (Mt 27:39) here mentioned, when taunting Him on the cross, and (Mt 27:43) reproached Him almost in the very, language of this passage.
shoot out–or, “open.”
the lip–(Compare Ps 35:21).
8. trusted on the Lord–literally, “rolled”–that is, his burden (Ps 37:5; Pr 16:3) on the Lord. This is the language of enemies sporting with his faith in the hour of his desertion.
9, 10. Though ironically spoken, the exhortation to trust was well founded on his previous experience of divine aid, the special illustration of which is drawn from the period of helpless infancy.
didst make me hope–literally, “made me secure.”
11. From this statement of reasons for the appeal, he renews it, pleading his double extremity, the nearness of trouble, and the absence of a helper.
12, 13. His enemies, with the vigor of bulls and rapacity of lions, surround him, eagerly seeking his ruin. The force of both figures is greater without the use of any particle denoting comparison.
14, 15. Utter exhaustion and hopeless weakness, in these circumstances of pressing danger, are set forth by the most expressive figures; the solidity of the body is destroyed, and it becomes like water; the bones are parted; the heart, the very seat of vitality, melts like wax; all the juices of the system are dried up; the tongue can no longer perform its office, but lies parched and stiffened (compare Ge 49:4; 2Sa 14:14; Ps 58:8). In this, God is regarded as the ultimate source, and men as the instruments.
15. the dust of death–of course, denotes the grave. We need not try to find the exact counterpart of each item of the description in the particulars of our Saviour’s sufferings. Figurative language resembles pictures of historical scenes, presenting substantial truth, under illustrations, which, though not essential to the facts, are not inconsistent with them. Were any portion of Christ’s terrible sufferings specially designed, it was doubtless that of the garden of Gethsemane.
16. Evildoers are well described as dogs, which, in the East, herding together, wild and rapacious, are justly objects of great abhorrence. The last clause has been a subject of much discussion (involving questions as to the genuineness of the Hebrew word translated “pierce)” which cannot be made intelligible to the English reader. Though not quoted in the New Testament, the remarkable aptness of the description to the facts of the Saviour’s history, together with difficulties attending any other mode of explaining the clause in the Hebrew, justify an adherence to the terms of our version and their obvious meaning.
17. His emaciated frame, itself an item of his misery, is rendered more so as the object of delighted contemplation to his enemies. The verbs, “look” and “stare,” often occur as suggestive of feelings of satisfaction (compare Ps 27:13; 54:7; 118:7).
18. This literally fulfilled prediction closes the sad picture of the exposed and deserted sufferer.
19, 20. He now turns with unabated desire and trust to God, who, in His strength and faithfulness, is contrasted with the urgent dangers described.
20. my soul–or self (compare Ps 3:2; 16:10).
my darling–literally, “my only one,” or, “solitary one,” as desolate and afflicted (Ps 25:16; 35:17).
21. Deliverance pleaded in view of former help, when in the most imminent danger, from the most powerful enemy, represented by the unicorn or wild buffalo.
the lion’s mouth–(Compare Ps 22:13). The lion often used as a figure representing violent enemies; the connecting of the mouth intimates their rapacity.
22-24. He declares his purpose to celebrate God’s gracious dealings and publish His manifested perfections (“name,” Ps 5:11), &c., and forthwith he invites the pious (those who have a reverential fear of God) to unite in special praise for a deliverance, illustrating God’s kind regard for the lowly, whom men neglect [Ps 22:24]. To hide the face (or eyes) expresses a studied neglect of one’s cause, and refusal of aid or sympathy (compare Ps 30:7; Isa 1:15).
25, 26. My praise shall be of thee–or, perhaps better, “from thee,” that is, God gives grace to praise Him. With offering praise, he further evinces his gratitude by promising the payment of his vows, in celebrating the usual festival, as provided in the law (De 12:18; 16:11), of which the pious or humble, and they that seek the Lord (His true worshippers) shall partake abundantly, and join him in praise [Ps 22:26]. In the enthusiasm produced by his lively feelings, he addresses such in words, assuring them of God’s perpetual favor [Ps 22:26]. The dying of the heart denotes death (1Sa 25:37); so its living denotes life.
27-31. His case illustrates God’s righteous government. Beyond the existing time and people, others shall be brought to acknowledge and worship God; the fat ones, or the rich as well as the poor, the helpless who cannot keep themselves alive, shall together unite in celebrating God’s delivering power, and transmit to unborn people the records of His grace.
30. it shall be accounted to the Lord for, &c.–or, “it shall be told of the Lord to a generation.” God’s wonderful works shall be told from generation to generation.
31. that he hath done this–supply “it,” or “this”–that is, what the Psalm has unfolded.
Ps 23:1-6. Under a metaphor borrowed from scenes of pastoral life, with which David was familiar, he describes God’s providential care in providing refreshment, guidance, protection, and abundance, and so affording grounds of confidence in His perpetual favor.
1. Christ’s relation to His people is often represented by the figure of a shepherd (Joh 10:14; Heb 13:20; 1Pe 2:25; 5:4), and therefore the opinion that He is the Lord here so described, and in Ge 48:15; Ps 80:1; Isa 40:11, is not without some good reason.
2. green pastures–or, “pastures of tender grass,” are mentioned, not in respect to food, but as places of cool and refreshing rest.
the still waters–are, literally, “waters of “stillness,” whose quiet flow invites to repose. They are contrasted with boisterous streams on the one hand, and stagnant, offensive pools on the other.
3. To restore the soul is to revive or quicken it (Ps 19:7), or relieve it (La 1:11, 19).
paths of righteousness–those of safety, as directed by God, and pleasing to Him.
for his name’s sake–or, regard for His perfections, pledged for His people’s welfare.
4. In the darkest and most trying hour God is near.
the valley of the shadow of death–is a ravine overhung by high precipitous cliffs, filled with dense forests, and well calculated to inspire dread to the timid, and afford a covert to beasts of prey. While expressive of any great danger or cause of terror, it does not exclude the greatest of all, to which it is most popularly applied, and which its terms suggest.
thy rod and thy staff–are symbols of a shepherd’s office. By them he guides his sheep.
5, 6. Another figure expresses God’s provided care.
a table–or, “food,” anointing
oil–the symbol of gladness, and the overflowing
cup–which represents abundance–are prepared for the child of God, who may feast in spite of his enemies, confident that this favor will ever attend him. This beautiful Psalm most admirably sets before us, in its chief figure, that of a shepherd, the gentle, kind, and sure care extended to God’s people, who, as a shepherd, both rules and feeds them. The closing verse shows that the blessings mentioned are spiritual.
Ps 24:1-10. God’s supreme sovereignty requires a befitting holiness of life and heart in His worshippers; a sentiment sublimely illustrated by describing His entrance into the sanctuary, by the symbol of His worship–the ark, as requiring the most profound homage to the glory of His Majesty.
world–the habitable globe, with
they that dwell–forming a parallel expression to the first clause.
2. Poetically represents the facts of Ge 1:9.
3, 4. The form of a question gives vivacity. Hands, tongue, and heart are organs of action, speech, and feeling, which compose character.
hill of the Lord–(compare Ps 2:6, &c.). His Church–the true or invisible, as typified by the earthly sanctuary.
4. lifted up his soul–is to set the affections (Ps 25:1) on an object; here,
vanity–or, any false thing, of which swearing falsely, or to falsehood, is a specification.
5. righteousness–the rewards which God bestows on His people, or the grace to secure those rewards as well as the result.
6. Jacob–By “Jacob,” we may understand God’s people (compare Isa 43:22; 44:2, &c.), corresponding to “the generation,” as if he had said, “those who seek Thy face are Thy chosen people.”
7-10. The entrance of the ark, with the attending procession, into the holy sanctuary is pictured to us. The repetition of the terms gives emphasis.
10. Lord of hosts–or fully, Lord God of hosts (Ho 12:5; Am 4:13), describes God by a title indicative of supremacy over all creatures, and especially the heavenly armies (Jos 5:14; 1Ki 22:19). Whether, as some think, the actual enlargement of the ancient gates of Jerusalem be the basis of the figure, the effect of the whole is to impress us with a conception of the matchless majesty of God.
Ps 25:1-22. The general tone of this Psalm is that of prayer for help from enemies. Distress, however, exciting a sense of sin, humble confession, supplication for pardon, preservation from sin, and divine guidance, are prominent topics.
1. lift up my soul–(Ps 24:4; 86:4), set my affections (compare Col 3:2).
2. not be ashamed–by disappointment of hopes of relief.
3. The prayer generalized as to all who wait on God–that is, who expect His favor. On the other hand, the disappointment of the perfidious, who, unprovoked, have done evil, is invoked (compare 2Sa 22:9).
4, 5. On the ground of former favor, he invokes divine guidance, according to God’s gracious ways of dealing and faithfulness.
6, 7. Confessing past and present sins, he pleads for mercy, not on palliations of sin, but on God’s well-known benevolence.
8, 9. upright–acting according to His promise.
sinners–the general term, limited by the
meek–who are penitent.
the way–and his way–God’s way of providence.
9. in judgment–rightly.
10. paths–similar sense–His modes of dealing (compare Ps 25:4).
mercy and truth–(Job 14:1-22), God’s grace in promising and faithfulness in performing.
11. God’s perfections of love, mercy, goodness, and truth are manifested (his name, compare Ps 9:10) in pardoning sin, and the greatness of sin renders pardon more needed.
12, 13. What he asks for himself is the common lot of all the pious.
13. inherit the earth–(compare Mt 5:5). The phrase, alluding to the promise of Canaan, expresses all the blessings included in that promise, temporal as well as spiritual.
14. The reason of the blessing explained–the pious enjoy communion with God (compare Pr 3:21, 12), and, of course, learn His gracious terms of pardon.
15. His trust in God is fixed.
net–is frequently used as a figure for dangers by enemies (Ps 9:15; 10:9).
16-19. A series of earnest appeals for aid because God had seemed to desert him (compare Ps 13:1; 17:13, &c.), his sins oppressed him, his enemies had enlarged his troubles and were multiplied, increasing in hate and violence (Ps 9:8; 18:48).
20. keep my soul–(Ps 16:1).
put my trust–flee for refuge (Ps 2:12).
21. In conscious innocence of the faults charged by his enemies, he confidently commits his cause to God. Some refer–
integrity, &c.–to God, meaning His covenant faithfulness. This sense, though good, is an unusual application of the terms.
22. Extend these blessings to all Thy people in all their distresses.
Ps 26:1-12. After appealing to God’s judgment on his avowed integrity and innocence of the charges laid by his enemies, the Psalmist professes delight in God’s worship, and prays for exemption from the fate of the wicked, expressing assurance of God’s favor.
1. Judge–decide on my case; the appeal of innocence.
in mine integrity–freedom from blemish (compare Ps 25:21). His confidence of perseverance results from trust in God’s sustaining grace.
2. He asks the most careful scrutiny of his affections and thoughts (Ps 7:9), or motives.
3. As often, the ground of prayer for present help is former favor.
4-8. As exemplified by the fruits of divine grace, presented in his life, especially in his avoiding the wicked and his purposes of cleaving to God’s worship.
6. wash mine hands–expressive symbol of freedom from sinful acts (compare Mt 27:24).
8. the habitation of thy house–where Thy house rests, as the tabernacle was not yet permanently fixed.
honour dwelleth–conveys an allusion to the Holy of Holies.
9. Gather not, &c.–Bring me not to death.
bloody men–(compare Ps 5:6).
10. Their whole conduct is that of violence and fraud.
11, 12. But, &c.–He contrasts his character and destiny with that of the wicked (compare Ps 26:1, 2).
12. even place–free from occasions of stumbling–safety in his course is denoted. Hence he will render to God his praise publicly.
Ps 27:1-14. With a general strain of confidence, hope, and joy, especially in God’s worship, in the midst of dangers, the Psalmist introduces prayer for divine help and guidance.
1. light–is a common figure for comfort.
strength–or, “stronghold”–affording security against all violence. The interrogations give greater vividness to the negation implied.
2. eat … my flesh–(Job 19:22; Ps 14:4). The allusion to wild beasts illustrates their rapacity.
they stumbled–“they” is emphatic; not I, but they were destroyed.
3. In the greatest dangers.
in this–that is, then, in such extremity.
4, 5. The secret of his confidence is his delight in communion with God (Ps 16:11; 23:6), beholding the harmony of His perfections, and seeking His favor in His temple or palace; a term applicable to the tabernacle (compare Ps 5:7). There he is safe (Ps 31:21; 61:5). The figure is changed in the last clause, but the sentiment is the same.
6. head be lifted up–I shall be placed beyond the reach of my enemies. Hence he avows his purpose of rendering joyful thank offerings.
7. Still pressing need extorts prayer for help.
cry with my voice–denotes earnestness. Other things equal, Christians in earnest pray audibly, even in secret.
8. The meaning is clear, though the construction in a literal translation is obscure. The English Version supplies the implied clause. To seek God’s face is to seek His favor (Ps 105:4).
9. Hide not, &c.–(Ps 4:6; 22:24). Against rejection he pleads former mercy and love.
10. In the extremity of earthly destitution (Ps 31:11; 38:11), God provides (compare Mt 25:35).
11. thy way–of providence.
a plain path–(Ps 26:12).
enemies–literally, “watchers for my fall” (Ps 5:8).
12. will–literally, “soul,” “desire” (Ps 35:25).
enemies–literally, “oppressors.” Falsehood aids cruelty against him.
breathe out–as being filled with it (Ac 9:1).
13. The strong emotion is indicated by the incomplete sentence, for which the English Version supplies a proper clause; or, omitting that, and rendering, “yet I believed,” &c., the contrast of his faith and his danger is expressed.
to see–is to experience (Ps 22:17).
14. Wait, &c.–in confident expectation. The last clause is, literally, “and wait,” &c., as if expecting new measures of help.
Ps 28:1-9. An earnest cry for divine aid against his enemies, as being also those of God, is followed by the Psalmist’s praise in assurance of a favorable answer, and a prayer for all God’s people.
1. my rock–(Ps 18:2, 31).
be not silent to me–literally, “from me,” deaf or inattentive.
become like them, &c.–share their fate.
go down into the pit–or, “grave” (Ps 30:3).
2. lift up my hands–a gesture of prayer (Ps 63:4; 141:2).
oracle–place of speaking (Ex 25:22; Nu 7:89), where God answered His people (compare Ps 5:7).
3. Draw me not away–implies punishment as well as death (compare Ps 26:9). Hypocrisy is the special wickedness mentioned.
4. The imprecation is justified in Ps 28:5. The force of the passage is greatly enhanced by the accumulation of terms describing their sin.
endeavours–points out their deliberate sinfulness.
5. Disregard of God’s judgments brings a righteous punishment.
destroy … build … up–The positive strengthened by the negative form.
6. supplications–or, “cries for mercy.”
7. The repetition of “heart” denotes his sincerity.
8. The distinction made between the people.
their strength–and the anointed–may indicate Absalom’s rebellion as the occasion.
9. The special prayer for the people sustains this view.
feed them–as a shepherd (Ps 23:1, &c.).
Ps 29:1-11. Trust in God is encouraged by the celebration of His mighty power as illustrated in His dominion over the natural world, in some of its most terrible and wonderful exhibitions.
1. Give–or, “ascribe” (De 32:3).
mighty–or, “sons of the mighty” (Ps 89:6). Heavenly beings, as angels.
2. name–as (Ps 5:11; 8:1).
beauty of holiness–the loveliness of a spiritual worship, of which the perceptible beauty of the sanctuary worship was but a type.
3. The voice of the Lord–audible exhibition of His power in the tempest, of which thunder is a specimen, but not the uniform or sole example.
the waters–the clouds or vapors (Ps 18:11; Jer 10:13).
4. powerful … majesty–literally, “in power, in majesty.”
5, 6. The tall and large cedars, especially of Lebanon, are shivered, utterly broken. The waving of the mountain forests before the wind is expressed by the figure of skipping or leaping.
7. divideth–literally, “hews off.” The lightning, like flakes and splinters hewed from stone or wood, flies through the air.
8. the wilderness–especially Kadesh, south of Judea, is selected as another scene of this display of divine power, as a vast and desolate region impresses the mind, like mountains, with images of grandeur.
9. Terror-stricken animals and denuded forests close the illustration. In view of this scene of awful sublimity, God’s worshippers respond to the call of Ps 29:2, and speak or cry, “Glory!” By “temple,” or “palace” (God’s residence, Ps 5:7), may here be meant heaven, or the whole frame of nature, as the angels are called on for praise.
10, 11. Over this terrible raging of the elements God is enthroned, directing and restraining by sovereign power; and hence the comfort of His people. “This awful God is ours, our Father and our Love.”
Ps 30:1-12. Literally, “A Psalm-Song”–a composition to be sung with musical instruments, or without them–or, “Song of the dedication,” &c. specifying the particular character of the Psalm. Some suppose that of David should be connected with the name of the composition, and not with “house”; and refer for the occasion to the selection of a site for the temple (1Ch 21:26-30; 22:1). But “house” is never used absolutely for the temple, and “dedication” does not well apply to such an occasion. Though the phrase in the Hebrew, “dedication of the house of David,” is an unusual form, yet it is equally unusual to disconnect the name of the author and the composition. As a “dedication of David’s house” (as provided, De 20:5), the scope of the Psalm well corresponds with the state of repose and meditation on his past trials suited to such an occasion (2Sa 5:11; 7:2). For beginning with a celebration of God’s delivering favor, in which he invites others to join, he relates his prayer in distress, and God’s gracious and prompt answer.
1. lifted me up–as one is drawn from a well (Ps 40:2).
2. healed me–Affliction is often described as disease (Ps 6:2; 41:4; 107:20), and so relief by healing.
3. The terms describe extreme danger.
grave–literally, “hell,” as in Ps 16:10.
hast kept me … pit–quickened or revived me from the state of dying (compare Ps 28:1).
4. remembrance–the thing remembered or memorial.
holiness–as the sum of God’s perfections (compare Ps 22:3), used as name (Ex 3:15; Ps 135:13).
5. Relatively, the longest experience of divine anger by the pious is momentary. These precious words have consoled millions.
6, 7. What particular prosperity is meant we do not know; perhaps his accession to the throne. In his self-complacent elation he was checked by God’s hiding His face (compare Ps 22:24; 27:9).
7. troubled–confounded with fear (Ps 2:5).
8-11. As in Ps 6:5; 88:10; Isa 38:18, the appeal for mercy is based on the destruction of his agency in praising God here, which death would produce. The terms expressing relief are poetical, and not to be pressed, though “dancing” is the translation of a word which means a lute, whose cheerful notes are contrasted with mourning, or (Am 5:16) wailing.
11. sackcloth–was used, even by kings, in distress (1Ch 21:16; Isa 37:1) but “gladness,” used for a garment, shows the language to be figurative.
12. Though “my” is supplied before “glory” it is better as in Ps 16:9, to receive it as used for tongue, the organ of praise. The ultimate end of God’s mercies to us is our praise to Him.
Ps 31:1-24. The prayer of a believer in time of deep distress. In the first part, cries for help are mingled with expressions of confidence. Then the detail of griefs engrosses his attention, till, in the assurance of strong but submissive faith, he rises to the language of unmingled joyful trust and exhorts others to like love and confidence towards God.
1. Expresses the general tone of feeling of the Psalm.
2-4. He seeks help in God’s righteous government (Ps 5:8), and begs for an attentive hearing, and speedy and effectual aid. With no other help and no claim of merit, he relies solely on God’s regard to His own perfections for a safe guidance and release from the snares of his enemies. On the terms “rock,” &c., (compare Ps 17:2; 18:2, 50; 20:6; 23:3; 25:21).
5, 6. commit my spirit–my life, or myself. Our Saviour used the words on the Cross [Lu 23:46], not as prophetical, but, as many pious men have done, as expressive of His unshaken confidence in God. The Psalmist rests on God’s faithfulness to His promises to His people, and hence avows himself one of them, detesting all who revere objects of idolatry (compare De 32:21; 1Co 8:4).
7. hast known my soul, &c.–had regard to me in trouble.
8. shut me up … enemy–abandon to (1Sa 23:11).
large room–place of safety (compare Ps 18:19).
9, 10. mine eye, &c.–denotes extreme weakness (compare Ps 6:7).
grief–mingled sorrow and indignation (Ps 6:7).
soul and … belly–the whole person.
10. Though the effects ascribed to grief are not mere figures of speech–
spent … consumed–must be taken in the modified sense of wasted and decayed.
iniquity–or, suffering by it (see on Ps 40:12).
11. among–or, literally, “from,” or, “by” my enemies. The latter clauses describe the progress of his disgrace to the lowest degree, till,
12. he is forgotten as one dead, and contemned as a useless broken vessel.
13. For–introduces further reasons for his prayer, the unjust, deliberate, and murderous purposes of his foes.
14-18. In his profession of trust he includes the terms of the prayer expressing it.
15. times–course of life.
deliver … hand–opposed to “shut me up,” &c., of Ps 31:8.
16. Make … shine–(Compare Nu 6:25; Ps 4:6). Deprecating from himself, he imprecates on the wicked God’s displeasure, and prays that their virulent persecution of him may be stopped.
19-21. God displays openly His purposed goodness to His people.
20. the secret of thy presence–or, covering of Thy countenance; the protection He thus affords; compare Ps 27:5 for a similar figure; “dwelling” used there for “presence” here. The idea of security further presented by the figure of a tent and a fortified city [Ps 31:21].
22. For I said–literally, “And I said,” in an adversative sense. I, thus favored, was despondent.
in my haste–in my terror.
cut off … eyes–from all the protection of Thy presence.
23, 24. the Lord … proud doer–literally, “the Lord is keeping faith,” that is, with His people, and is repaying, &c. Then let none despair, but take courage; their hopes shall not be in vain.
Ps 32:1-11. Maschil–literally, “giving instruction.” The Psalmist describes the blessings of His forgiveness, succeeding the pains of conviction, and deduces from his own experience instruction and exhortation to others.
1, 2. (Compare Ro 4:6).
forgiven–literally, “taken away,” opposed to retain (Joh 20:23).
covered–so that God no longer regards the sin (Ps 85:3).
2. imputeth–charge to him, and treat him accordingly.
no guile–or, deceit, no false estimate of himself, nor insincerity before God (compare Ro 8:1).
3, 4. A vivid description of felt, but unacknowledged, sin.
When–literally, “for,” as in Ps 32:4.
4. thy hand–of God, or power in distressing him (Ps 38:2).
moisture–vital juices of the body, the parching heat of which expresses the anguish of the soul. On the other figures, compare Ps 6:2, 7; 31:9-11. If composed on the occasion of the fifty-first Psalm, this distress may have been protracted for several months.
5. A prompt fulfilment of the purposed confession is followed by a prompt forgiveness.
6. For this–that is, my happy experience.
godly–pious in the sense of Ps 4:3.
a time–(Isa 55:6); when God’s Spirit inclines us to seek pardon, He is ready to forgive.
floods, &c.–denotes great danger (Ps 18:17; 66:12).
7. His experience illustrates the statement of Ps 32:6.
8. Whether, as most likely, the language of David (compare Ps 51:13), or that of God, this is a promise of divine guidance.
I will … mine eye–or, My eye shall be on thee, watching and directing thy way.
9. The latter clause, more literally, “in that they come not near thee”; that is, because they will not come, &c., unless forced by bit and bridle.
10. The sorrows of the impenitent contrasted with the peace and safety secured by God’s mercy.
11. The righteous and upright, or those conforming to the divine teaching for securing the divine blessing, may well rejoice with shouting.
Ps 33:1-22. A call to lively and joyous praise to God for His glorious attributes and works, as displayed in creation, and His general and special providence, in view of which, the Psalmist, for all the pious, professes trust and joy and invokes God’s mercy.
1-3. The sentiment falls in with Ps 32:11 (compare 1Co 14:15). The instruments (Ps 92:3; 144:9) do not exclude the voice.
3. a new song–fresh, adapted to the occasion (Ps 40:3; 96:1).
play skilfully–(Compare 1Sa 16:17).
4-9. Reasons for praise: first, God’s truth, faithfulness, and mercy, generally; then, His creative power which all must honor.
6. In “word” and “breath”–or, “spirit,” there may be an allusion to the Son (Joh 1:1) and Holy Spirit.
9. he spake–literally, “said.”
it was–The addition of “done” weakens the sense (compare Ge 1:3-10).
10, 11. In God’s providence He thwarts men’s purposes and executes His own.
12-19. The inference from the foregoing in Ps 33:12 is illustrated by God’s special providence, underlying which is His minute knowledge of all men.
13. looketh–intently (Isa 14:16).
15. fashioneth–or, “forms,” and hence knows and controls (Pr 21:1).
considereth–or, “understands”; God knows men’s motives.
16, 17. Men’s usual reliances in their greatest exigencies are, in themselves, useless.
17. On the war horse (compare Job 39:19-25).
a vain thing–a lie, which deceives us.
18, 19. Contrasted is God’s guidance and power to save from the greatest earthly evil and its most painful precursor, and hence from all.
20-22. waiteth–in earnest expectation.
21. his holy name–(Compare Ps 5:12; 22:22; 30:4). Our faith measures mercy (Mt 9:29); and if of grace, it is no more of debt (Ro 11:6).
Ps 34:1-22. On the title compare 1Sa 21:13. Abimelech was the general name of the sovereign (Ge 20:2). After celebrating God’s gracious dealings with him, the Psalmist exhorts others to make trial of His providential care, instructing them how to secure it. He then contrasts God’s care of His people and His punitive providence towards the wicked.
1-4. Even in distress, which excites supplication, there is always matter for praising and thanking God (compare Eph 5:20; Php 4:6).
2. make her boast–“glory” (Ps 105:3; compare Ga 6:14).
humble–“the pious,” as in Ps 9:12; 25:9.
3. magnify the Lord–ascribe greatness to Him, an act of praise.
together–“alike” (Ps 33:15), or, equally, without exception.
4. delivered … fears–as well as actual evil (Ps 64:1).
5-7. God’s favor to the pious generally, and to himself specially, is celebrated.
looked–with desire for help.
lightened–or, “brightened,” expressing joy, opposed to the downcast features of those who are ashamed or disappointed (Ps 25:2, 3).
6. This poor man–literally, “humble,” himself as a specimen of such.
7. angel–of the covenant (Isa 63:9), of whom as a leader of God’s host (Jos 5:14; 1Ki 22:19), the phrase–
encampeth, &c.–is appropriate; or, “angel” used collectively for angels (Heb 1:14).
8. taste and see–try and experience.
9. that fear him–who are pious–fear and love (Pr 1:7; 9:10).
saints–consecrated to His service (Isa 40:31).
10. not want any good–“good” is emphatic; they may be afflicted (compare Ps 34:10); but this may be a good (2Co 4:17, 18; Heb 12:10, 11).
11. children–subjects of instruction (Pr 1:8, 10).
12. What man–Whoever desires the blessings of piety, let him attend.
13, 14. Sins of thought included in those of speech (Lu 6:45), avoiding evil and doing good in our relations to men are based on a right relation to God.
15. eyes of the Lord are upon–(Ps 32:8; 33:18).
16. face … against–opposed to them (Le 17:10; 20:3).
cut off the remembrance–utterly destroy (Ps 109:13).
17, 18. Humble penitents are objects of God’s special tender regard (Ps 51:19; Isa 57:15).
20. bones–framework of the body.
21, 22. Contrast in the destiny of righteous and wicked; the former shall be delivered and never come into condemnation (Joh 5:24; Ro 8:1); the latter are left under condemnation and desolate.
Ps 35:1-28. The Psalmist invokes God’s aid, contrasting the hypocrisy, cunning, and malice of his enemies with his integrity and generosity. The imprecations of the first part including a brief notice of their conduct, the fuller exposition of their hypocrisy and malice in the second, and the earnest prayer for deliverance from their scornful triumph in the last, are each closed (Ps 35:9, 10, 18, 27, 28) with promises of praise for the desired relief, in which his friends will unite. The historical occasion is probably 1Sa 24:1-22.
1-3. God is invoked in the character of a warrior (Ex 15:3; De 32:41).
3. fight against–literally, “devour my devourers.”
stop the way against–literally, “shut up” (the way), to meet or oppose, &c.
I … thy salvation–who saves thee.
4. (Compare Ps 9:17).
devise my hurt–purpose for evil to me.
5, 6. (Compare Ps 1:4)–a terrible fate; driven by wind on a slippery path in darkness, and hotly pursued by supernatural violence (2Sa 24:16; Ac 12:23).
7, 8. net in a pit–or, “pit of their net”–or, “net-pit,” as “holy hill” for “hill of holiness” (Ps 2:6); a figure from hunting (Ps 7:15). Their imprecations on impenitent rebels against God need no vindication; His justice and wrath are for such; His mercy for penitents. Compare Ps 7:16; 11:5, on the peculiar fate of the wicked here noticed.
10. All my bones–every part.
him that spoileth him–(Compare Ps 10:2).
11. False witnesses–literally, “Witnesses of injustice and cruelty” (compare Ps 11:5; 25:19).
12-14. Though they rendered evil for good, he showed a tender sympathy in their affliction.
spoiling–literally, “bereavement.” The usual modes of showing grief are made, as figures, to express his sorrow.
13. prayer … bosom–may denote either the posture–the head bowed–(compare 1Ki 18:42)–or, that the prayer was in secret. Some think there is a reference to the result–the prayer would benefit him if not them.
14. behaved–literally, “went on”–denoting his habit.
heavily–or, “squalidly,” his sorrowing occasioning neglect of his person. Altogether, his grief was that of one for a dearly loved relative.
15, 16. On the contrary, they rejoiced in his affliction. Halting, or, “lameness,” as in Ps 38:17 for any distress.
abjects–either as cripples (compare 2Sa 4:4), contemptible; or, degraded persons, such as had been beaten (compare Job 30:1-8).
I knew it not–either the persons, or, reasons of such conduct.
tear me, and ceased not–literally, “were not silent”–showing that the tearing meant slandering.
16. mockers–who were hired to make sport at feasts (Pr 28:21).
17. darling–(Compare Ps 22:20, 21).
18. (Compare Ps 22:22).
19. enemies wrongfully–by false and slanderous imputations.
wink with the eye–an insulting gesture (Pr 6:13).
without a cause–manifests more malice than having a wrong cause.
20. deceitful matters–or, “words of deceit.”
quiet in the land–the pious lovers of peace.
21. On the gesture compare Ps 22:7; and on the expressions of malicious triumph, compare Ps 10:13; 28:3.
23, 24. (Compare Ps 7:6; 26:1; 2Th 1:6). God’s righteous government is the hope of the pious and terror of the wicked.
25. swallowed him up–utterly destroyed him (Ps 21:9; La 2:16).
26. clothed–covered wholly (Job 8:22).
27. favour … cause–delight in it, as vindicated by Thee.
Let the Lord, &c.–Let Him be greatly praised for His care of the just.
28. In this praise of God’s equitable government (Ps 5:8) the writer promises ever to engage.
Ps 36:1-12. On servant of the Lord, see on Ps 18:1, title. The wickedness of man contrasted with the excellency of God’s perfections and dispensations; and the benefit of the latter sought, and the evils of the former deprecated.
1. The general sense of this difficult verse is, “that the wicked have no fear of God.” The first clause may be rendered, “Saith transgression in my heart, in respect to the wicked, there is no fear,” &c., that is, such is my reflection on men’s transgressions.
2-4. This reflection detailed.
until his iniquity–literally, “for finding his iniquity for hating”; that is, he persuades himself God will not so find it–“for hating” involving the idea of punishing. Hence his words of iniquity and deceit, and his bold rejection of all right principles of conduct. The climax is that he deliberately adopts and patronizes evil. The negative forms affirm more emphatically their contraries.
5, 6. mercy … and … faithfulness–as mercy and truth (Ps 25:10).
6. righteousness [and] judgments–qualities of a good government (Ps 5:8; 31:1). These all are set forth, by the figures used, as unbounded.
7. shadow of thy wings–(Compare De 32:11; Ps 91:1).
thy house–residence–for the privileges and blessings of communion with God (Ps 23:6; 27:4).
river of thy pleasures–plenteous supply; may allude to Eden.
9. Light is an emblem of all blessings, given of God as a means to gain more.
10. that know thee–right knowledge of God is the source of right affections and conduct.
11. foot of … hand … wicked–all kinds of violent dealing.
12. There–in the acting of violence, they are overthrown. A signal defeat.
Ps 37:1-40. A composed and uniform trust in God and a constant course of integrity are urged in view of the blessedness of the truly pious, contrasted in various aspects with the final ruin of the wicked. Thus the wisdom and justice of God’s providence are vindicated, and its seeming inequalities, which excite the cavils of the wicked and the distrust of the pious, are explained. David’s personal history abundantly illustrates the Psalm.
1, 2. The general sentiment of the whole Psalm is expressed. The righteous need not be vexed by the prosperity of the wicked; for it is transient, and their destiny undesirable.
3. Trust–sure of safety.
shalt thou dwell–or, “dwell thou”; repose quietly.
verily … fed–or, “feed on truth,” God’s promise (Ps 36:5; compare Ho 12:1).
4. desires–(Ps 20:5; 21:2), what is lawful and right, really good (Ps 84:11).
5. Commit thy way–(Pr 16:3). Works–what you have to do and cannot set forth as a burden.
trust … in him–literally, “on Him.” He will do what you cannot (compare Ps 22:8; 31:6). He will not suffer your character to remain under suspicion.
7, 8. Rest in–literally, “Be silent to the Lord.”
and wait–Be submissive–avoid petulance and murmurings, anger and rash doing.
9. Two reasons: The prosperity of the wicked is short; and the pious, by humble trust, will secure all covenant blessing, denoted here by “inherit the earth” (compare Ps 25:13).
10, 11. shall not be–literally, “is not”–is not to be found.
11. peace–includes prosperity.
12. gnasheth … teeth–in beastly rage.
13. (Compare Ps 2:4).
his day–of punishment, long delayed, shall yet come (Heb 10:37).
14, 15. sword, and … bow–for any instruments of violence.
slay–literally, “slaughter” (1Sa 25:11).
poor and needy–God’s people (Ps 10:17; 12:5). The punishment of the wicked as drawn on themselves–often mentioned (compare Ps 7:15, 16; 35:8).
16. riches–literally, “noise and tumult,” as incidental to much wealth (compare Ps 39:6). Thus the contrast with the “little” of one man is more vivid.
17. Even the members of the body needed to hold weapons are destroyed.
18, 19. God, who knows His people’s changes, provides against evil and supplies all their need.
20. While the wicked, however mighty, are destroyed, and that utterly, as smoke which vanishes and leaves no trace.
21, 22. payeth not–not able; having grown poor (compare De 15:7). Ability of the one and inability of the other do not exclude moral dispositions. God’s blessing or cursing makes the difference.
22. cut off–opposed to “inherit the earth” (compare Le 7:20, 21).
23, 24. steps–way, or, “course of life”; as ordered by God, failures will not be permanent.
26. his seed is blessed–literally, “for a blessing” (Ge 12:2; Ps 21:6). This position is still true as the rule of God’s economy (1Ti 4:8; 6:6).
27-29. The exhortation is sustained by the assurance of God’s essential rectitude in that providential government which provides perpetual blessings for the good, and perpetual misery for the wicked.
30, 31. The righteous described as to the elements of character, thought, word, and action.
31. steps–or, “goings”–for conduct which is unwavering (Ps 18:36).
32, 33. The devices of the wicked against the good fail because God acquits them.
34. On the contrary, the good are not only blessed, but made to see the ruin of their foes.
35, 36. of which a picture is given, under the figure of a flourishing tree (compare Margin), which soon withers.
36. he was not–(Compare Ps 37:10).
37. By “the end” is meant reward (Pr 23:18; 24:14), or expectation of success, as in Ps 37:38, which describes the end of the wicked in contrast, and that is cut off (compare Ps 73:17).
38. together–at once; entirely (Ps 4:8).
39, 40. strength–(Ps 27:1; 28:8).
trouble–straits (Ps 9:9; 10:1). In trust and quietness is the salvation of the pious from all foes and all their devices.
Ps 38:1-22. To bring to remembrance, or, remind God of His mercy and himself of his sin. Appealing to God for relief from His heavy chastisement, the Psalmist avows his integrity before men, complains of the defection of friends and persecution of enemies, and in a submissive spirit, casting himself on God, with penitent confession he pleads God’s covenant relation and his innocence of the charges of his enemies, and prays for divine comfort and help.
1-4. He deprecates deserved punishment, which is described (Ps 6:1), under the figure of bodily disease [Ps 38:3].
2. arrows … and thy hand–the sharp and heavy afflictions he suffered (De 32:23).
4. iniquities–afflictions in punishment of sin (2Sa 16:12; Ps 31:10; 40:12).
gone over mine head–as a flood.
5-8. The loathsomeness, corruption, and wasting torture of severe physical disease set forth his mental anguish [Ps 38:6]. It is possible some bodily disease was connected. The
loins are the seat of strength. His exhaustion left him only the power to groan [Ps 38:9].
9. That God can hear (Ro 8:26).
10. My heart panteth–as if barely surviving.
light … from me–utter exhaustion (Ps 6:7; 13:3).
11, 12. Friends desert, but foes increase in malignity.
12. seek after my life–(1Sa 20:1; 22:23).
13, 14. He patiently submits, uttering no reproaches or replies (Joh 19:9) to their insulting speeches;
15-17. for he is confident the
Lord–literally, “Sovereign” (to whom he was a servant), would answer his prayer (Ps 3:4; 4:1), and not permit their triumph in his partial halting, of which he was in danger.
18. Consciousness of sin makes suffering pungent, and suffering, rightly received, leads to confession.
19, 20. Still, while humbled before God, he is the victim of deadly enemies, full of malice and treachery.
enemies are lively–literally, “of life,” who would take my life, that is, deadly.
21, 22. (Compare Ps 22:19; 35:3). All terms of frequent use. In this Psalm the language is generally susceptible of application to Christ as a sufferer, David, as such, typifying Him. This does not require us to apply the confessions of sin, but only the pains or penalties which He bore for us.
Ps 39:1-13. To Jeduthun (1Ch 16:41, 42), one of the chief singers. His name mentioned, perhaps, as a special honor. Under depressing views of his frailty and the prosperity of the wicked, the Psalmist, tempted to murmur, checks the expression of his feelings, till, led to regard his case aright, he prays for a proper view of his condition and for the divine compassion.
1. I said–or, “resolved.”
will take heed–watch.
ways–conduct, of which the use of the tongue is a part (Jas 1:26).
bridle–literally, “muzzle for my mouth” (compare De 25:4).
while … before me–in beholding their prosperity (Ps 37:10, 36).
2. even from good–(Ge 31:24), everything.
3. His emotions, as a smothered flame, burst forth.
4-7. Some take these words as those of fretting, but they are not essentially such. The tinge of discontent arises from the character of his suppressed emotions. But, addressing God, they are softened and subdued.
make me to know mine end–experimentally appreciate.
how frail I am–literally, “when I shall cease.”
5, 6. His prayer is answered in his obtaining an impressive view of the vanity of the life of all men, and their transient state. Their pomp is a mere image, and their wealth is gathered they know not for whom.
7. The interrogation makes the implied negative stronger. Though this world offers nothing to our expectation, God is worthy of all confidence.
8-10. Patiently submissive, he prays for the removal of his chastisement, and that he may not be a reproach.
11. From his own case, he argues to that of all, that the destruction of man’s enjoyments is ascribable to sin.
12, 13. Consonant with the tenor of the Psalm, he prays for God’s compassionate regard to him as a stranger here; and that, as such was the condition of his fathers, so, like them, he may be cheered instead of being bound under wrath and chastened in displeasure.
Ps 40:1-17. In this Psalm a celebration of God’s deliverance is followed by a profession of devotion to His service. Then follows a prayer for relief from imminent dangers, involving the overthrow of enemies and the rejoicing of sympathizing friends. In Heb 10:5, &c., Paul quotes Ps 40:6-8 as the words of Christ, offering Himself as a better sacrifice. Some suppose Paul thus accommodated David’s words to express Christ’s sentiments. But the value of his quotation would be thus destroyed, as it would have no force in his argument, unless regarded by his readers as the original sense of the passage in the Old Testament. Others suppose the Psalm describes David’s feelings in suffering and joy; but the language quoted by Paul, in the sense given by him, could not apply to David in any of his relations, for as a type the language is not adapted to describe any event or condition of David’s career, and as an individual representing the pious generally, neither he nor they could properly use it (see on Ps 40:7, below). The Psalm must be taken then, as the sixteenth, to express the feelings of Christ’s human nature. The difficulties pertinent to this view will be considered as they occur.
1-3. The figures for deep distress are illustrated in Jeremiah’s history (Jer 38:6-12). Patience and trust manifested in distress, deliverance in answer to prayer, and the blessed effect of it in eliciting praise from God’s true worshippers, teach us that Christ’s suffering is our example, and His deliverance our encouragement (Heb 5:7, 8; 12:3; 1Pe 4:12-16).
inclined–(the ear, Ps 17:6), as if to catch the faintest sigh.
3. a new song–(See on Ps 33:3).
fear, and … trust–revere with love and faith.
4. Blessed–(Ps 1:1; 2:12).
respecteth–literally, “turns towards,” as an object of confidence.
turn aside–from true God and His law to falsehood in worship and conduct.
5. be reckoned up in order–(compare Ps 5:3; 33:14; Isa 44:7), too many to be set forth regularly. This is but one instance of many. The use of the plural accords with the union of Christ and His people. In suffering and triumph, they are one with Him.
6-8. In Paul’s view this passage has more meaning than the mere expression of grateful devotion to God’s service. He represents Christ as declaring that the sacrifices, whether vegetable or animal, general or special expiatory offerings, would not avail to meet the demands of God’s law, and that He had come to render the required satisfaction, which he states was effected by “the offering of the body of Christ” [Heb 10:10], for that is the “will of God” which Christ came to fulfil or do, in order to effect man’s redemption. We thus see that the contrast to the unsatisfactory character assigned the Old Testament offerings in Ps 40:6 is found in the compliance with God’s law (compare Ps 40:7, 8). Of course, as Paul and other New Testament writers explain Christ’s work, it consisted in more than being made under the law or obeying its precepts. It required an “obedience unto death” [Php 2:8], and that is the compliance here chiefly intended, and which makes the contrast with Ps 40:6 clear.
mine ears hast thou opened–Whether allusion is made to the custom of boring a servant’s ear, in token of voluntary and perpetual enslavement (Ex 21:6), or that the opening of the ear, as in Isa 48:8; 50:5 (though by a different word in Hebrew) denotes obedience by the common figure of hearing for obeying, it is evident that the clause is designed to express a devotion to God’s will as avowed more fully in Ps 40:8, and already explained. Paul, however, uses the words, “a body hast thou prepared me” [Heb 10:5], which are found in the Septuagint in the place of the words, “mine ears hast thou opened.” He does not lay any stress on this clause, and his argument is complete without it. It is, perhaps, to be regarded rather as an interpretation or free translation by the Septuagint, than either an addition or attempt at verbal translation. The Septuagint translators may have had reference to Christ’s vicarious sufferings as taught in other Scriptures, as in Isa 53:4-11; at all events, the sense is substantially the same, as a body was essential to the required obedience (compare Ro 7:4; 1Pe 2:24).
7. Then–in such case, without necessarily referring to order of time.
Lo, I come–I am prepared to do, &c.
in the volume of the book–roll of the book. Such rolls, resembling maps, are still used in the synagogues.
written of me–or on me, prescribed to me (2Ki 22:13). The first is the sense adopted by Paul. In either case, the Pentateuch, or law of Moses, is meant, and while it contains much respecting Christ directly, as Ge 3:15; 49:10; De 18:15, and, indirectly, in the Levitical ritual, there is nowhere any allusion to David.
9, 10. I have preached–literally, “announced good tidings.” Christ’s prophetical office is taught. He “preached” the great truths of God’s government of sinners.
11. may be rendered as an assertion, that God will not withhold (Ps 16:1).
12. evils–inflicted by others.
iniquities–or penal afflictions, and sometimes calamities in the wide sense. This meaning of the word is very common (Ps 31:11; 38:4; compare Ge 4:13, Cain’s punishment; Ge 19:15, that of Sodom; 1Sa 28:10, of the witch of En-dor; also 2Sa 16:12; Job 19:29; Isa 5:18; 53:11). This meaning of the word is also favored by the clause, “taken hold of me,” which follows, which can be said appropriately of sufferings, but not of sins (compare Job 27:20; Ps 69:24). Thus, the difficulties in referring this Psalm to Christ, arising from the usual reading of this verse, are removed. Of the terrible afflictions, or sufferings, alluded to and endured for us, compare Lu 22:39-44, and the narrative of the scenes of Calvary.
my heart faileth me–(Mt 26:38), “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.”
cannot look up–literally, “I cannot see,” not denoting the depression of conscious guilt, as Lu 18:13, but exhaustion from suffering, as dimness of eyes (compare Ps 6:7; 13:3; 38:10). The whole context thus sustains the sense assigned to iniquities.
13. (Compare Ps 22:19).
14, 15. The language is not necessarily imprecatory, but rather a confident expectation (Ps 5:11), though the former sense is not inconsistent with Christ’s prayer for the forgiveness of His murderers, inasmuch as their confusion and shame might be the very means to prepare them for humbly seeking forgiveness (compare Ac 2:37).
15. for a reward–literally, “in consequence of.”
Aha–(Compare Ps 35:21, 25).
16. (Compare Ps 35:27).
love thy salvation–delight in its bestowal on others as well as themselves.
17. A summary of his condition and hopes.
thinketh upon–or provides for me. “He was heard,” “when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears, unto Him that was able to save him from death” [Heb 5:7].
Ps 41:1-13. The Psalmist celebrates the blessedness of those who compassionate the poor, conduct strongly contrasted with the spite of his enemies and neglect of his friends in his calamity. He prays for God’s mercy in view of his ill desert, and, in confidence of relief, and that God will vindicate his cause, he closes with a doxology.
1-3. God rewards kindness to the poor (Pr 19:17). From Ps 41:2, 11 it may be inferred that the Psalmist describes his own conduct.
poor–in person, position, and possessions.
2. shall be blessed–literally, “led aright,” or “safely,” prospered (Ps 23:3).
upon the earth–or land of promise (Ps 25:13; 27:3-9, &c.).
3. The figures of Ps 41:3 are drawn from the acts of a kind nurse.
4. I said–I asked the mercy I show.
heal my soul–(Compare Ps 30:2). “Sin and suffering are united,” is one of the great teachings of the Psalms.
5, 6. A graphic picture of the conduct of a malignant enemy.
6. to see me–as if to spy out my case.
he speaketh … itself–or, “he speaketh vanity as to his heart”–that is, does not speak candidly, “he gathereth iniquity to him,” collects elements for mischief, and then divulges the gains of his hypocrisy.
7, 8. So of others, all act alike.
8. An evil disease–literally, “a word of Belial,” some slander.
cleaveth–literally, “poured on him.”
that he lieth–who has now laid down, “he is utterly undone and our victory is sure.”
9. mine … friend–literally, “the man of my peace.”
eat … bread–who depended on me or was well treated by me.
hath lifted up heel–in scornful violence. As David and his fortunes typified Christ and His (compare Introduction), so these words expressed the treatment he received, and also that of his Son and Lord; hence, though not distinctly prophetical, our Saviour (Joh 13:18) applies them to Judas, “that the Scripture may be fulfilled.” This last phrase has a wide use in the New Testament, and is not restricted to denote special prophecies.
10. A lawful punishment of criminals is not revenge, nor inconsistent with their final good (compare Ps 40:14, 15).
11-13. favourest–or tenderly lovest me (Ge 34:19), evinced by relief from his enemies, and, farther, God recognizes his innocence by upholding him.
12. settest … before thy face–under thy watch and care, as God before man’s face (Ps 16:8) is an object of trust and love.
13. Blessed–praised, usually applied to God. The word usually applied to men denotes happiness (Ps 1:1; 32:1). With this doxology the first book closes.
Ps 42:1-11. Maschil–(See on Ps 32:1, title). For, or of (see Introduction) the sons of Korah. The writer, perhaps one of this Levitical family of singers accompanying David in exile, mourns his absence from the sanctuary, a cause of grief aggravated by the taunts of enemies, and is comforted in hopes of relief. This course of thought is repeated with some variety of detail, but closing with the same refrain.
1, 2. Compare (Ps 63:1).
panteth–desires in a state of exhaustion.
2. appear before God–in acts of worship, the terms used in the command for the stated personal appearance of the Jews at the sanctuary.
3. Where is thy God?–implying that He had forsaken him (compare 2Sa 16:7; Ps 3:2; 22:8).
4. The verbs are properly rendered as futures, “I will remember,” &c.,–that is, the recollection of this season of distress will give greater zest to the privileges of God’s worship, when obtained.
5. Hence he chides his despondent soul, assuring himself of a time of joy.
help of his countenance–or, “face” (compare Nu 6:25; Ps 4:6; 16:11).
6. Dejection again described.
therefore–that is, finding no comfort in myself, I turn to Thee, even in this distant “land of Jordan and the (mountains) Hermon, the country east of Jordan.
hill Mizar–as a name of a small hill contrasted with the mountains round about Jerusalem, perhaps denoted the contempt with which the place of exile was regarded.
7. The roar of successive billows, responding to that of floods of rain, represented the heavy waves of sorrow which overwhelmed him.
8. Still he relies on as constant a flow of divine mercy which will elicit his praise and encourage his prayer to God.
9, 10. in view of which [Ps 42:8], he dictates to himself a prayer based on his distress, aggravated as it was by the cruel taunts and infidel suggestions of his foes.
11. This brings on a renewed self-chiding, and excites hopes of relief.
of my countenance–(compare Ps 42:5) who cheers me, driving away clouds of sorrow from my face.
my God–It is He of whose existence and favor my foes would have me doubt.
Ps 43:1-5. Excepting the recurrence of the refrain, there is no good reason to suppose this a part of the preceding, though the scope is the same. It has always been placed separate.
1. Judge–or, “vindicate” (Ps 10:18).
plead, &c.–(Ps 35:1).
ungodly–neither in character or condition objects of God’s favor (compare Ps 4:3).
2. God of my strength–by covenant relation my stronghold (Ps 18:1).
cast me off–in scorn.
because–or, “in,” that is, in such circumstances of oppression.
3. light–as in Ps 27:1.
truth–or, “faithfulness” (Ps 25:5), manifest it by fulfilling promises. Light and truth are personified as messengers who will bring him to the privileged place of worship.
tabernacles–plural, in allusion to the various courts.
4. the altar–as the chief place of worship. The mention of the harp suggests the prominence of praise in his offering.
Ps 44:1-26. In a time of great national distress, probably in David’s reign, the Psalmist recounts God’s gracious dealings in former times, and the confidence they had learned to repose in Him. After a vivid picture of their calamities, he humbly expostulates against God’s apparent forgetfulness, reminding Him of their faithfulness and mourning their heavy sorrows.
1-3. This period is that of the settlement of Canaan (Jos 24:12; Jud 6:3).
have told–or, “related” (compare Ex 10:2).
2. plantedst them–that is, “our fathers,” who are also, from the parallel construction of the last clause, to be regarded as the object of “cast them out,” which means–literally, “send” them out, or, “extend them.” Heathen and people denote the nations who were driven out to make room for the Israelites.
4. Thou art my King–literally, “he who is my King,” sustaining the same covenant relation as to the “fathers.”
5. The figure drawn from the habits of the ox.
6-8. God is not only our sole help, but only worthy of praise.
7. put … to shame–(compare Ps 6:10), disgraced.
8. thy name–as in Ps 5:11.
9. But–contrasting, cast off as abhorrent (Ps 43:2).
goest not forth–literally, “will not go” (2Sa 5:23). In several consecutive verses the leading verb is future, and the following one past (in Hebrew), thus denoting the causes and effects. Thus (Ps 44:10-12), when defeated, spoiling follows; when delivered as sheep, dispersion follows, &c.
11. The Babylonian captivity not necessarily meant. There were others (compare 1Ki 8:46).
13, 14. (Compare De 28:37; Ps 79:4).
15. shame of … face–blushes in disgrace.
16. Its cause, the taunts and presence of malignant enemies (Ps 8:2).
17-19. They had not apostatized totally–were still God’s people.
18. declined–turned aside from God’s law.
19. sore broken–crushed.
place of dragons–desolate, barren, rocky wilderness (Ps 63:10; Isa 13:22),
shadow of death–(Compare Ps 23:4).
20, 21. A solemn appeal to God to witness their constancy.
stretched out … hands–gesture of worship (Ex 9:29; Ps 88:9).
22. Their protracted sufferings as God’s people attests the constancy. Paul (Ro 8:36) uses this to describe Christian steadfastness in persecution.
23-26. This style of addressing God, as indifferent, is frequent (Ps 3:7; 9:19; 13:1, &c.). However low their condition, God is appealed to, on the ground, and for the honor, of His mercy.
Ps 45:1-17. Shoshannim–literally, “Lilies,” either descriptive of an instrument so shaped, or denoting some tune or air so called, after which the Psalm was to be sung (see on Ps 8:1, title). A song of loves, or, of beloved ones (plural and feminine)–a conjugal song. Maschil–(See on Ps 32:1, title, and Ps 42:1, title) denotes the didactic character of the Psalm; that it gives instruction, the song being of allegorical, and not literal, import. The union and glories of Christ and his Church are described. He is addressed as a king possessed of all essential graces, as a conqueror exalted on the throne of a righteous and eternal government, and as a bridegroom arrayed in nuptial splendor. The Church is portrayed in the purity and loveliness of a royally adorned and attended bride, invited to forsake her home and share the honors of her affianced lord. The picture of an Oriental wedding thus opened is filled up by representing the complimentary gifts of the wealthy with which the occasion is honored, the procession of the bride clothed in splendid raiment, attended by her virgin companions, and the entrance of the joyous throng into the palace of the king. A prediction of a numerous and distinguished progeny, instead of the complimentary wish for it usually expressed (compare Ge 24:60; Ru 4:11, 12), and an assurance of a perpetual fame, closes the Psalm. All ancient Jewish and Christian interpreters regarded this Psalm as an allegory of the purport above named. In the Song of Songs the allegory is carried out more fully. Hosea (Ho 1:1-3:5) treats the relation of God and His people under the same figure, and its use to set forth the relation of Christ and His Church runs through both parts of the Bible (compare Isa 54:5; 62:4, 5; Mt 22:3; 25:1; Joh 3:29; Eph 5:25-32, &c.). Other methods of exposition have been suggested. Several Jewish monarchs, from Solomon to the wicked Ahab, and various foreign princes, have been named as the hero of the song. But to none of them can the terms here used be shown to apply, and it is hardly probable that any mere nuptial song, especially of a heathen king, would be permitted a place in the sacred songs of the Jews. The advocates for any other than the Messianic interpretation have generally silenced each other in succession, while the application of the most rigorous rules of a fair system of interpretation has but strengthened the evidences in its favor. The scope of the Psalm above given is easy and sustained by the explication of its details. The quotation of Ps 45:6, 7 by Paul (Heb 1:8, 9), as applicable to Christ, ought to be conclusive, and their special exposition shows the propriety of such an application.
1. An animated preface indicative of strong emotion. Literally, “My heart overflows: a good matter I speak; the things which I have made,” &c.
inditing–literally, “boiling up,” as a fountain overflows.
my tongue is the pen–a mere instrument of God’s use.
of a ready writer–that is, it is fluent. The theme is inspiring and language flows fast.
2. To rich personal attractions is added grace of the lips, captivating powers of speech. This is given, and becomes a source of power and proves a blessing. Christ is a prophet (Lu 4:22).
3, 4. The king is addressed as ready to go forth to battle.
sword–(Compare Re 1:16; 19:15).
mighty–(Compare Isa 9:6).
glory and … majesty–generally used as divine attributes (Ps 96:6; 104:1; 111:3), or as specially conferred on mortals (Ps 21:5), perhaps these typically.
4. ride prosperously–or conduct a successful war.
because of–for the interests of truth, &c.
meekness … righteousness–without any connection–that is, a righteousness or equity of government, distinguished by meekness or condescension (Ps 18:35).
right hand–or power, as its organ.
shall teach thee–point the way to terrible things; that is, in conquest of enemies.
5. The result.
people–Whole nations are subdued.
6. No lawful construction can be devised to change the sense here given and sustained by the ancient versions, and above all by Paul (Heb 1:8). Of the perpetuity of this government, compare 2Sa 7:13; Ps 10:16; 72:5; 89:4; 110:4; Isa 9:7.
7. As in Ps 45:6 the divine nature is made prominent, here the moral qualities of the human are alleged as the reason or ground of the mediatorial exultation. Some render “O God, thy God,” instead of
God, thy God–but the latter is sustained by the same form (Ps 50:7), and it was only of His human nature that the anointing could be predicated (compare Isa 61:3).
oil of gladness–or token of gladness, as used in feasts and other times of solemn joy (compare 1Ki 1:39, 40).
8. The king thus inaugurated is now presented as a bridegroom, who appears in garments richly perfumed, brought out from
ivory palaces–His royal residence; by which, as indications of the happy bridal occasion, He has been gladdened.
9. In completion of this picture of a marriage festival, female attendants or bridesmaids of the highest rank attend Him, while the queen, in rich apparel (Ps 45:13), stands ready for the nuptial procession.
10, 11. She is invited to the union, for forming which she must leave her father’s people. She representing, by the form of the allegory, the Church, this address is illustrated by all those scriptures, from Ge 12:1 on, which speak of the people of God as a chosen, separate, and peculiar people. The relation of subjection to her spouse at once accords with the law of marriage, as given in Ge 3:16; 18:12; Eph 5:22; 1Pe 3:5, 6, and the relation of the Church to Christ (Eph 5:24). The love of the husband is intimately connected with the entire devotion to which the bride is exhorted.
12. daughter of Tyre–(Ps 9:14); denotes the people. Tyre, celebrated for its great wealth, is selected to represent the richest nations, an idea confirmed by the next clause. These gifts are brought as means to conciliate the royal parties, representing the admitted subjection of the offerers. This well sets forth the exalted position of the Church and her head, whose moral qualities receive the homage of the world. The contribution of material wealth to sustain the institutions of the Church may be included (compare “riches of the Gentiles,” Ps 72:10; Isa 60:5-10).
13. the king’s daughter–a term of dignity. It may also intimate, with some allusion to the teaching of the allegory, that the bride of Christ, the Church, is the daughter of the great king, God.
within–Not only is her outward raiment costly, but all her apparel is of the richest texture.
wrought gold–gold embroidery, or cloth in which gold is woven.
14, 15. The progress of the procession is described; according to the usual custom the bride and attendants are conducted to the palace. Some for the words–
in raiment of needlework–propose another rendering, “on variegated (or embroidered) cloths”–that is, in the manner of the East, richly wrought tapestry was spread on the ground, on which the bride walked. As the dress had been already mentioned, this seems to be a probable translation.
15. shall they be brought–in solemn form (compare Job 10:19; 21:22). The entrance into the palace with great joy closes the scene. So shall the Church be finally brought to her Lord, and united amid the festivities of the holy beings in heaven.
16. As earthly monarchs govern widely extended empires by viceroys, this glorious king is represented as supplying all the principalities of earth with princes of his own numerous progeny.
17. The glories of this empire shall be as wide as the world and lasting as eternity.
therefore–Because thus glorious, the praise shall be universal and perpetual. Some writers have taxed their ingenuity to find in the history and fortunes of Christ and His Church exact parallels for every part of this splendid allegory, not excepting its gorgeous Oriental imagery. Thus, by the dresses of the king and queen, are thought to be meant the eminent endowments and graces of Christ and His people. The attendant women, supposed (though inconsistently it might seem with the inspired character of the work) to be concubines, are thought to represent the Gentile churches, and the bride the Jewish, &c. But it is evident that we cannot pursue such a mode of interpretation. For, following the allegory, we must suspend to the distant future the results of a union whose consummation as a marriage is still distant (compare Re 21:9). In fact, the imagery here and elsewhere sets before us the Church in two aspects. As a body, it is yet incomplete, the whole is yet ungathered. As a moral institution, it is yet imperfect. In the final catastrophe it will be complete and perfect. Thus, as a bride adorned, &c., it will be united with its Lord. Thus the union of Christ and the Church triumphant is set forth. On the other hand, in regard to its component parts, the relation of Christ as head, as husband, &c., already exists, and as these parts form an institution in this world, it is by His union with it, and the gifts and graces with which He endows it, that a spiritual seed arises and spreads in the world. Hence we must fix our minds only on the one simple but grand truth, that Christ loves the Church, is head over all things for it, raises it in His exaltation to the highest moral dignity–a dignity of which every, even the meanest, sincere disciple will partake. As to the time, then, in which this allegorical prophecy is to fulfilled, it may be said that no periods of time are specially designated. The characteristics of the relation of Christ and His Church are indicated, and we may suppose that the whole process of His exaltation from the declaration of His Sonship, by His resurrection, to the grand catastrophe of the final judgment, with all the collateral blessings to the Church and the world, lay before the vision of the inspired prophet.
Ps 46:1-11. Upon Alamoth–most probably denotes the treble, or part sung by female voices, the word meaning “virgins”; and which was sung with some appropriately keyed instrument (compare 1Ch 15:19-21; see on Ps 6:1, title). The theme may be stated in Luther’s well-known words, “A mighty fortress is our God.” The great deliverance (2Ki 19:35; Isa 37:36) may have occasioned its composition.
1. refuge–literally, “a place of trust” (Ps 2:12).
present help–literally, “a help He has been found exceedingly.”
trouble–as in Ps 18:7.
2, 3. The most violent civil commotions are illustrated by the greatest physical commotions.
3. swelling–well represents the pride and haughtiness of insolent foes.
4. God’s favor is denoted by a river (compare Ps 36:8; Zec 14:8; Re 22:1).
city of God, the holy place–His earthly residence, Jerusalem and the temple (compare Ps 2:6; 3:4; 20:2; 48:2, &c.). God’s favor, like a river whose waters are conducted in channels, is distributed to all parts of His Church.
most High–denoting His supremacy (Ps 17:2).
5. right early–literally, “at the turn of morning,” or change from night to day, a critical time (Ps 30:5; compare Isa 37:36).
6. (Compare Ps 46:2).
earth melted–all powers dissolved by His mere word (Ps 75:3; Ho 2:22).
7. with us–on our side; His presence is terror to our enemies, safety to us.
refuge–high place (Ps 9:9; compare also Ps 24:6, 10).
8. what desolations–literally, “who hath put desolations,” destroying our enemies.
9. The usual weapons of war (Ps 7:12), as well as those using them, are brought to an end.
10. Be still, &c.–literally, “Leave off to oppose Me and vex My people. I am over all for their safety.” (Compare Isa 2:11; Eph 1:22).
Ps 47:1-9. Praise is given to God for victory, perhaps that recorded (2Ch 20:20-30); and His dominions over all people, Jews and Gentiles, is asserted.
1. clap … hands … people–literally, “peoples,” or “nations” (compare De 32:43; Ps 18:49; 98:9).
2, 3. His universal sovereignty now exists, and will be made known.
3. under us–that is, His saints; Israel’s temporal victories were types of the spiritual conquests of the true Church.
4. He shall … inheritance–the heathen to be possessed by His Church (Ps 2:8), as Canaan by the Jews.
excellency of Jacob–literally, “pride,” or, that in which he glories (not necessarily, though often, in a bad sense), the privileges of the chosen people–
whom he loved–His love being the sole cause of granting them.
5-7. God, victorious over His enemies, reascends to heaven, amid the triumphant praises of His people, who celebrate His sovereign dominion. This sovereignty is what the Psalm teaches; hence he adds,
sing … praises with understanding–literally, “sing and play an instructive (Psalm).” The whole typifies Christ’s ascension (compare Ps 68:18).
8, 9. The instruction continued.
throne of … holiness–or, “holy throne” (see on Ps 2:6; Ps 23:4).
9. princes–who represent peoples. For–
even–supply, “as,” or, “to”–that is, they all become united under covenant with Abraham’s God.
shields–as in Ho 4:18, “rulers” [Margin].
Ps 48:1-14. This is a spirited Psalm and song (compare Ps 30:1), having probably been suggested by the same occasion as the foregoing. It sets forth the privileges and blessings of God’s spiritual dominion as the terror of the wicked and joy of the righteous.
1. to be praised–always: it is an epithet, as in Ps 18:3.
mountain of his holiness–His Church (compare Isa 2:2, 3; 25:6, 7, 10); the sanctuary was erected first on Mount Zion, then (as the temple) on Moriah; hence the figure.
2, 3. situation–literally, “elevation.”
joy of, &c.–source of joy.
sides of the north–poetically for eminent, lofty, distinguished, as the ancients believed the north to be the highest part of the earth (compare Isa 14:13).
3. palaces–literally, “citadels.”
refuge–(Ps 9:10; 18:3). He was so known in them because they enjoyed His presence.
4-6. For–The reason is given. Though the kings (perhaps of Moab and Ammon, compare Ps 83:3-5) combined, a conviction of God’s presence with His people, evinced by the unusual courage with which the prophets (compare 2Ch 20:12-20) had inspired them, seized on their minds, and smitten with sudden and intense alarm, they fled astonished.
7. ships of Tarshish–as engaged in a distant and lucrative trade, the most valuable. The phrase may illustrate God’s control over all material agencies, whether their literal destruction be meant or not.
8. This present experience assures of that perpetual care which God extends to His Church.
9. thought of–literally, “compared,” or considered, in respect of former dealings.
in the … temple–in acts of solemn worship (compare 2Ch 20:28).
10. According … praise–that is, As Thy perfections manifested (compare Ps 8:1; 20:1-7), demand praise, it shall be given, everywhere.
thy right hand, &c.–Thy righteous government is displayed by Thy power.
11. the daughters, &c.–the small towns, or the people, with the chief city, or rulers of the Church.
judgments–decisions and acts of right government.
12-14. The call to survey Zion, or the Church, as a fortified city, is designed to suggest “how well our God secures His fold.” This security is perpetual, and its pledge is His guidance through this life.
Ps 49:1-20. This Psalm instructs and consoles. It teaches that earthly advantages are not reliable for permanent happiness, and that, however prosperous worldly men may be for a time, their ultimate destiny is ruin, while the pious are safe in God’s care.
1-3. All are called to hear what interests all.
world–literally, “duration of life,” the present time.
4. incline–to hear attentively (Ps 17:6; 31:2).
parable–In Hebrew and Greek “parable” and “proverb” are translations of the same word. It denotes a comparison, or form of speech, which under one image includes many, and is expressive of a general truth capable of various illustrations. Hence it may be used for the illustration itself. For the former sense, “proverb” (that is, one word for several) is the usual English term, and for the latter, in which comparison is prominent, “parable” (that is, one thing laid by another). The distinction is not always observed, since here, and in Ps 78:2; “proverb” would better express the style of the composition (compare also Pr 26:7, 9; Hab 2:6; Joh 16:25, 29). Such forms of speech are often very figurative and also obscure (compare Mt 13:12-15). Hence the use of the parallel word–
dark saying–or, “riddle” (compare Eze 17:2).
open–is to explain.
upon the harp–the accompaniment for a lyric.
5. iniquity–or, “calamity” (Ps 40:12).
of my heels–literally “my supplanters” (Ge 27:36), or oppressors: “I am surrounded by the evils they inflict.”
6. They are vainglorious.
7-9. yet unable to save themselves or others.
8. it ceaseth for ever–that is, the ransom fails, the price is too precious, costly.
9. corruption–literally, “pit,” or, “grave,” thus showing that “soul” is used for “life” [Ps 49:8].
10. For he seeth–that is, corruption; then follows the illustration.
wise … fool–(Ps 14:1; Pr 1:32; 10:1).
likewise–alike altogether–(Ps 4:8)–die–all meet the same fate.
11. Still infatuated and flattered with hopes of perpetuity, they call their lands, or “celebrate their names on account of (their) lands.”
12. Contrasted with this vanity is their frailty. However honored, man
abideth not–literally, “lodgeth not,” remains not till morning, but suddenly perishes as (wild) beasts, whose lives are taken without warning.
13. Though their way is folly, others follow the same course of life.
14. Like sheep–(compare Ps 49:12) unwittingly, they
are laid–or, “put,” &c.
death shall feed on–or, better, “shall rule”
them–as a shepherd (compare “feed,” Ps 28:9, Margin).
have dominion over–or, “subdue”
them in the morning–suddenly, or in their turn.
their beauty–literally, “form” or shape.
shall consume–literally, “is for the consumption,” that is, of the grave.
from their dwelling–literally, “from their home (they go) to it,” that is, the grave.
15. The pious, delivered from “the power of the grave.”
power–literally, “the hand,” of death, are taken under God’s care.
16-19. applies this instruction. Be not anxious (Ps 37:1, &c.), since death cuts off the prosperous wicked whom you dread.
18. Though … lived, &c.–literally, “For in his life he blessed his soul,” or, “himself” (Lu 12:19, 16:25); yet (Ps 49:19); he has had his portion.
men will praise … thyself–Flatterers enhance the rich fool’s self-complacency; the form of address to him strengthens the emphasis of the sentiment.
20. (Compare Ps 49:12). The folly is more distinctly expressed by “understandeth not,” substituted for “abideth not.”
Ps 50:1-23. In the grandeur and solemnity of a divine judgment, God is introduced as instructing men in the nature of true worship, exposing hypocrisy, warning the wicked, and encouraging the pious.
1-4. The description of this majestic appearance of God resembles that of His giving the law (compare Ex 19:16; 20:18; De 32:1).
4. above–literally, “above” (Ge 1:7).
heavens … earth–For all creatures are witnesses (De 4:26; 30:19; Isa 1:2).
5. my saints–(Ps 4:3).
a covenant, &c.–alluding to the dividing of a victim of sacrifice, by which covenants were ratified, the parties passing between the divided portions (compare Ge 15:10, 18).
6. The inhabitants of heaven, who well know God’s character, attest His righteousness as a judge.
7. I will testify–that is, for failure to worship aught.
thy God–and so, by covenant as well as creation, entitled to a pure worship.
8-15. However scrupulous in external worship, it was offered as if they conferred an obligation in giving God His own, and with a degrading view of Him as needing it [Ps 50:9-13]. Reproving them for such foolish and blasphemous notions, He teaches them to offer, or literally, “sacrifice,” thanksgiving, and pay, or perform, their vows–that is, to bring, with the external symbolical service, the homage of the heart, and faith, penitence, and love. To this is added an invitation to seek, and a promise to afford, all needed help in trouble.
16-20. the wicked–that is, the formalists, as now exposed, and who lead vicious lives (compare Ro 2:21, 23). They are unworthy to use even the words of God’s law. Their hypocrisy and vice are exposed by illustrations from sins against the seventh, eighth, and ninth commandments.
21, 22. God, no longer (even in appearance) disregarding such, exposes their sins and threatens a terrible punishment.
22. forget God–This denotes unmindfulness of His true character.
23. offereth praise–(Ps 50:14), so that the external worship is a true index of the heart.
ordereth … aright–acts in a straight, right manner, opposed to turning aside (Ps 25:5). In such, pure worship and a pure life evince their true piety, and they will enjoy God’s presence and favor.
Ps 51:1-19. On the occasion, compare 2Sa 11:12. The Psalm illustrates true repentance, in which are comprised conviction, confession, sorrow, prayer for mercy, and purposes of amendment, and it is accompanied by a lively faith.
1-4. A plea for mercy is a confession of guilt.
blot out–as from a register.
transgressions–literally, “rebellions” (Ps 19:13; 32:1).
2. Wash me–Purity as well as pardon is desired by true penitents.
3. For … before me–Conviction precedes forgiveness; and, as a gift of God, is a plea for it (2Sa 12:13; Ps 32:5; 1Jo 1:9).
4. Against thee–chiefly, and as sins against others are violations of God’s law, in one sense only.
that … judgest–that is, all palliation of his crime is excluded; it is the design in making this confession to recognize God’s justice, however severe the sentence.
5, 6. His guilt was aggravated by his essential, native sinfulness, which is as contrary to God’s requisitions of inward purity as are outward sins to those for right conduct.
6. thou shalt make, &c.–may be taken to express God’s gracious purpose in view of His strict requisition; a purpose of which David might have availed himself as a check to his native love for sin, and, in not doing so, aggravated his guilt.
truth … and …wisdom–are terms often used for piety (compare Job 28:28; Ps 119:30).
7-12. A series of prayers for forgiveness and purifying.
Purge … hyssop–The use of this plant in the ritual (Ex 12:22; Nu 19:6, 18) suggests the idea of atonement as prominent here; “purge” refers to vicarious satisfaction (Nu 19:17-20).
8. Make … joy–by forgiving me, which will change distress to joy.
9. Hide, &c.–Turn from beholding.
10. Create–a work of almighty power.
in me–literally, “to me,” or, “for me”; bestow as a gift, a heart free from taint of sin (Ps 24:4; 73:1).
renew–implies that he had possessed it; the essential principle of a new nature had not been lost, but its influence interrupted (Lu 22:32); for Ps 51:11 shows that he had not lost God’s presence and Spirit (1Sa 16:13), though he had lost the “joy of his salvation” (Ps 51:12), for whose return he prays.
right spirit–literally, “constant,” “firm,” not yielding to temptation.
12. free spirit–“thy” ought not to be supplied, for the word “free” is, literally, “willing,” and “spirit” is that of David. “Let a willing spirit uphold me,” that is, with a soul willingly conformed to God’s law, he would be preserved in a right course of conduct.
13. Then–Such will be the effect of this gracious work.
ways–of providence and human duty (Ps 18:21, 30; 32:8; Lu 22:32).
14. Deliver–or, “Free me” (Ps 39:8) from the guilt of murder (2Sa 12:9, 10; Ps 5:6).
righteousness–as in Ps 7:17; 31:1.
15. open … lips–by removing my sense of guilt.
16. Praise is better than sacrifice (Ps 50:14), and implying faith, penitence, and love, glorifies God. In true penitents the joys of pardon mingle with sorrow for sin.
18. Do good, &c.–Visit not my sin on Thy Church.
build … walls–is to show favor; compare Ps 89:40, for opposite form and idea.
19. God reconciled, material sacrifices will be acceptable (Ps 4:5; compare Isa 1:11-17).
Ps 52:1-9. Compare 1Sa 21:1-10; 22:1-10, for the history of the title. Ps 52:1 gives the theme; the boast of the wicked over the righteous is vain, for God constantly cares for His people. This is expanded by describing the malice and deceit, and then the ruin, of the wicked, and the happy state of the pious.
1. mighty man–literally, “hero.” Doeg may be thus addressed, ironically, in respect of his might in slander.
2. tongue–for self.
mischiefs–evil to others (Ps 5:9; 38:12).
working deceitfully–(Ps 10:7), as a keen, smoothly moving razor, cutting quietly, but deeply.
4. all-devouring–literally, “swallowing,” which utterly destroy (compare Ps 21:9; 35:25).
5. likewise–or, “so,” “also,” as you have done to others God will do to you (Ps 18:27). The following terms describe the most entire ruin.
6. shall … fear–regard with religious awe.
laugh at him–for his folly;
7. for trusting in riches and being strong in “wickedness.”
wickedness–literally, “mischief” (Ps 52:2), instead of trusting in God.
the man–literally, “the mighty man,” or “hero” (Ps 52:1).
8. The figure used is common (Ps 1:3; Jer 11:16).
house, &c.–in communion with God (compare Ps 27:4, 5).
for ever and ever–qualifies “mercy.”
9. hast done–that is, what the context supplies, “preserved me” (compare Ps 22:31).
wait … name–hope in Thy perfections, manifested for my good (Ps 5:11; 20:1).
for it is good–that is, Thy name, and the whole method or result of its manifestation (Ps 54:6; 69:16).
Ps 53:1-6. Upon Mahalath–(See on Ps 88:1, title). Why this repetition of the fourteenth Psalm is given we do not know.
1-4. with few verbal changes, correspond with Ps 14:1-4.
5. Instead of assurances of God’s presence with the pious, and a complaint of the wicked, Ps 14:5, 6 portrays the ruin of the latter, whose “bones” even “are scattered” (compare Ps 141:7), and who are put to shame as contemptuously rejected of God.
Ps 54:1-7. See on Ps 4:1, title; Ps 32:1, title; for the history, see 1Sa 23:19, 29; 26:1-25. After an earnest cry for help, the Psalmist promises praise in the assurance of a hearing.
1. by thy name–(Ps 5:11), specially, power.
judge me–as in Ps 7:8; 26:1.
2. (Compare Ps 4:1; 5:1).
3. strangers–perhaps Ziphites.
oppressors–literally, “terrible ones” (Isa 13:11; 25:3). Such were Saul and his army.
not set … them–acted as atheists, without God’s fear (compare Ps 16:8).
4. (Compare Ps 30:10).
with them–on their side, and for me (compare Ps 46:11).
5. He shall … evil–or, “Evil shall return on” (Ps 7:16) my enemies or watchers, that is, to do me evil (Ps 6:7).
in thy truth–Thy verified promise.
6. I will freely, &c.–or, present a freewill offering (Le 7:16; Nu 15:3).
7. mine eye … desire–(compare Ps 59:10; 112:8), expresses satisfaction in beholding the overthrow of his enemies as those of God, without implying any selfish or unholy feeling (compare Ps 52:6, 7).
Ps 55:1-23. In great terror on account of enemies, and grieved by the treachery of a friend, the Psalmist offers an earnest prayer for relief. He mingles confident assurances of divine favor to himself with invocations and predictions of God’s avenging judgments on the wicked. The tone suits David’s experience, both in the times of Saul and Absalom, though perhaps neither was exclusively before his mind.
1. hide not thyself, &c.–(compare Ps 13:1; 27:9), withhold not help.
2. The terms of the last clause express full indulgence of grief.
3. oppression–literally, “persecution.”
they … iniquity–literally, “they make evil doings slide upon me.”
4, 5. express great alarm.
5. come upon–or literally, “into.”
6. be at rest–literally, “dwell,” that is, permanently.
7, 8. Even a wilderness is a safer place than exposure to such evils, terrible as storm and tempest.
9. Destroy–literally, “swallow” (Ps 21:9).
divide their tongues–or, “confound their speech,” and hence their counsels (Ge 11:7).
the city–perhaps Jerusalem, the scene of anarchy.
10, 11. which is described in detail (compare Ps 7:14-16).
11. Wickedness–literally, “Mischief,” evils resulting from others (Ps 5:9; 52:2, 7).
streets–or literally, “wide places,” markets, courts of justice, and any public place.
12-14. This description of treachery does not deny, but aggravates, the injury from enemies.
13. guide–literally, “friend” (Pr 16:28; 17:9).
acquaintance–in Hebrew, a yet more intimate associate.
14. in company–literally, “with a crowd,” in a festal procession.
15. Let death, &c.–or, “Desolations are on them.”
let them go–literally, “they will go.”
quick–or, living in the midst of life, death will come (compare Nu 16:33).
among them–or, “within them,” in their hearts (Ps 5:9; 49:11).
16-18. God answers his constant and repeated prayers.
18. many with me–that is, by the context, fighting with me.
19. God hears the wicked in wrath.
of old–enthroned as a sovereign.
Because … no changes–Prosperity hardens them (Ps 73:5).
20, 21. The treachery is aggravated by hypocrisy. The changes of number, Ps 55:15, 23, and here, enliven the picture, and imply that the chief traitor and his accomplices are in view together.
22. thy burden–literally, “gift,” what is assigned you.
he shall sustain–literally, “supply food,” and so all need (Ps 37:25; Mt 6:11).
to be moved–from the secure position of His favor (compare Ps 10:6).
23. bloody … days–(compare Ps 5:6; 51:14), deceit and murderous dispositions often united. The threat is directed specially (not as a general truth) against the wicked, then in the writer’s view.
Ps 56:1-13. Upon Jonath-elem-rechokim–literally, “upon the dove of silence” of distant places; either denoting a melody (see on Ps 9:1) of that name, to which this Psalm was to be performed; or it is an enigmatical form of denoting the subject, as given in the history referred to (1Sa 21:11, &c.), David being regarded as an uncomplaining, meek dove, driven from his native home to wander in exile. Beset by domestic and foreign foes, David appeals confidently to God, recites his complaints, and closes with joyful and assured anticipations of God’s continued help.
1, 2. would swallow–literally, “pants as a raging beast” (Ac 9:1).
2. enemies–watchers (Ps 54:5).
most High–As it is not elsewhere used absolutely for God, some render the word here, arrogantly, or proudly, as qualifying “those who fight,” &c.
3. in–or literally, “unto.”
thee–to whom he turns in trouble.
4. in God … his word–By His grace or aid (Ps 60:12; 108:13), or, “I will boast in God as to His word”; in either case His word is the special matter and cause of praise.
flesh–for mankind (Ps 65:2; Isa 31:3), intimating frailty.
5, 6. A vivid picture of the conduct of malicious enemies.
7. Shall they escape? &c.–or better, “Their escape is by iniquity.”
cast … people–humble those who so proudly oppose Thy servant.
8. God is mindful of his exile and remembers his tears. The custom of bottling the tears of mourners as a memorial, which has existed in some Eastern nations, may explain the figure.
9. God is for me–or, “on my side” (Ps 118:6; 124:1, 2); hence he is sure of the repulse of his foes.
12. I will render praises–will pay what I have vowed.
13. The question implies an affirmative answer, drawn from past experience.
falling–as from a precipice.
before God–in His favor during life.
Ps 57:1-11. Altaschith–or, “Destroy not.” This is perhaps an enigmatical allusion to the critical circumstances connected with the history, for which compare 1Sa 22:1; 26:1-3. In Moses’ prayer (De 9:26) it is a prominent petition deprecating God’s anger against the people. This explanation suits the fifty-eighth and fifty-ninth also. Asaph uses it for the seventy-fifth, in the scope of which there is allusion to some emergency. Michtam–(See on Ps 16:1, title). To an earnest cry for divine aid, the Psalmist adds, as often, the language of praise, in the assured hope of a favorable hearing.
1. my soul–or self, or life, which is threatened.
shadow of thy wings–(Ps 17:8; 36:7).
calamities–literally, “mischiefs” (Ps 52:2; 55:10).
2. performeth–or, completes what He has begun.
3. from … swallow me up–that pants in rage after me (Ps 56:2).
mercy and … truth–(Ps 25:10; 36:5), as messengers (Ps 43:3) sent to deliver him.
4. The mingled figures of wild beasts (Ps 10:9; 17:12) and weapons of war (Ps 11:2) heighten the picture of danger.
whose … tongue–or slanders.
5. This doxology illustrates his view of the connection of his deliverance with God’s glory.
6. (Compare Ps 7:15; 9:15, 16).
7. I will … praise–both with voice and instrument.
8. Hence–he addresses his glory, or tongue (Ps 16:9; 30:12), and his psaltery, or lute, and harp.
I myself … early–literally, “I will awaken dawn,” poetically expressing his zeal and diligence.
9, 10. As His mercy and truth, so shall His praise, fill the universe.
Ps 58:1-11. David’s critical condition in some period of the Sauline persecution probably occasioned this Psalm, in which the Psalmist teaches that the innate and actual sinfulness of men deserves, and shall receive, God’s righteous vengeance, while the pious may be consoled by the evidence of His wise and holy government of men.
1. O congregation–literally, “Oh, dumb”; the word used is never translated “congregation.” “Are ye dumb? ye should speak righteousness,” may be the translation. In any case, the writer remonstrates with them, perhaps a council, who were assembled to try his cause, and bound to give a right decision.
2. This they did not design; but
weigh … violence–or give decisions of violence. Weigh is a figure to express the acts of judges.
in the earth–publicly.
3-5. describe the wicked generally, who sin naturally, easily, malignantly, and stubbornly.
4. stoppeth her–literally, “his.”
ear–that is, the wicked man (the singular used collectively), who thus becomes like the deaf adder which has no ear.
6. He prays for their destruction, under the figure of ravenous beasts (Ps 3:7; 7:2).
7. which run continually–literally, “they shall go to themselves,” utterly depart, as rapid mountain torrents.
he bendeth … his arrows–prepares it. The term for preparing a bow applied to arrows (Ps 64:3).
let them … pieces–literally, “as if they cut themselves off”–that is, become blunted and of no avail.
8, 9. Other figures of this utter ruin; the last denoting rapidity. In a shorter time than pots feel the heat of thorns on fire–
9. he shall take them away as with a whirlwind–literally, “blow him (them) away.”
both living … wrath–literally, “as the living” or fresh as the heated or burning–that is, thorns–all easily blown away, so easily and quickly the wicked. The figure of the “snail” perhaps alludes to its loss of saliva when moving. Though obscure in its clauses, the general sense of the passage is clear.
10, 11. wash … wicked–denoting great slaughter. The joy of triumph over the destruction of the wicked is because they are God’s enemies, and their overthrow shows that He reigneth (compare Ps 52:5-7; 54:7). In this assurance let heaven and earth rejoice (Ps 96:10; 97:1, &c.).
Ps 59:1-17. See on Ps 57:1, title, and for history, 1Sa 19:11, &c. The scope is very similar to that of the fifty-seventh: prayer in view of malicious and violent foes, and joy in prospect of relief.
1. defend me–(Compare Margin).
rise up … me–(Compare Ps 17:7).
2. (Compare Ps 5:5; 6:8).
4, 5. prepare, &c.–literally, “set themselves as in array.”
awake–(Compare Ps 3:7; 7:6), appeals to God in His covenant relation to His people (Ps 9:18).
6, 7. They are as ravening dogs seeking prey, and as such,
belch out–that is, slanders, their impudent barkings.
7. for who, say they–For the full expression with the supplied words, compare Ps 64:5.
8. (Compare Ps 2:4; 37:13).
9. By judicious expositors, and on good grounds, this is better rendered, “O my strength, on Thee will I wait” (Ps 59:17).
defence–(Compare Ps 18:3).
10. prevent me–(Ps 21:3).
see my desire–in their overthrow (Ps 54:7).
enemies–as in Ps 5:8.
11. Slay them not–at once (Jud 2:21-23); but perpetuate their punishment (Ge 4:12; Nu 32:13), by scattering or making them wander, and humble them.
12. let them even be … taken in their pride–while evincing it–that is, to be punished for their lies, &c.
13. Though delayed for wise reasons, the utter destruction of the wicked must come at last, and God’s presence and power in and for His Church will be known abroad (1Sa 17:46; Ps 46:10, 11).
14, 15. Meanwhile let the rapacious dogs prowl, they cannot hurt the pious; yea, they shall wander famished and sleepless.
15. grudge if, &c.–literally, “they shall stay all night,” that is, obtain nothing.
16, 17. Contrast the lot of God’s servant, who employs his time in God’s praise.
sing aloud … in the morning–when they retire famishing and disappointed, or it may denote delightful diligence in praise, as in Ps 30:5.
Ps 60:1-12. Shushan-eduth–Lily of testimony. The lily is an emblem of beauty (see on Ps 45:1, title). As a description of the Psalm, those terms combined may denote a beautiful poem, witnessing–that is, for God’s faithfulness as evinced in the victories referred to in the history cited. Aram-naharaim–Syria of the two rivers, or Mesopotamia beyond the river (Euphrates) (2Sa 10:16). Aram-zobah–Syria of Zobah (2Sa 10:6), to whose king the king of the former was tributary. The war with Edom, by Joab and Abishai (2Ch 18:12, 25), occurred about the same time. Probably, while doubts and fears alternately prevailed respecting the issue of these wars, the writer composed this Psalm, in which he depicts, in the language of God’s people, their sorrows under former disasters, offers prayer in present straits, and rejoices in confident hope of triumph by God’s aid.
1-3. allude to disasters.
cast … off–in scorn (Ps 43:2; 44:9).
scattered–broken our strength (compare 2Sa 5:20).
Oh, turn thyself–or, “restore to us” (prosperity). The figures of physical, denote great civil, commotions (Ps 46:2, 3).
3. drink … wine of astonishment–literally, “of staggering”–that is, made us weak (compare Ps 75:8; Isa 51:17, 22).
4, 5. Yet to God’s banner they will rally, and pray that, led and sustained by His power (right hand, Ps 17:7; 20:6), they may be safe.
5. hear me–or, “hear us.”
6-10. God hath spoken in–or, “by.”
his holiness–(Ps 89:35; Am 4:2), on the pledge of His attributes (Ps 22:3; 30:4). Taking courage from God’s promise to give them possession (Ex 23:31; De 11:24) (and perhaps renewed to him by special revelation), with triumphant joy he describes the conquest as already made.
Shechem, and … Succoth–as widely separated points, and–
7. Gilead … and Manasseh–as large districts, east and west of Jordan, represent the whole land.
divide … and mete out–means to have entire control over.
Ephraim–denotes the military (De 33:17); and–
Judah–(the lawgiver, Ge 49:10), the civil power. Foreign nations are then presented as subdued.
8. Moab–is a my washpot–the most ordinary vessel.
Edom–(as a slave) he casts his shoe.
Philistia, triumph, &c.–or, rather, “shout.”
for me–acknowledges subjection (compare Ps 108:9, “over Philistia will I triumph”).
9, 10. He feels assured that, though once angry, God is now ready to favor His people.
who will lead me–or, who has led me, as if the work were now begun.
10. Wilt not thou?–or, “Is it not Thou?”
11, 12. Hence he closes with a prayer for success, and an assurance of a hearing.
Ps 61:1-8. Neginah–or, Neginoth (see on Ps 4:1, title). Separated from his usual spiritual privileges, perhaps by Absalom’s rebellion, the Psalmist prays for divine aid, and, in view of past mercies, with great confidence of being heard.
1-3. From the end–that is, places remote from the sanctuary (De 28:64).
2. heart is overwhelmed–literally, “covered over with darkness,” or, “distress.”
to the rock–(Ps 18:2; 40:2).
higher than I–which otherwise I cannot ascend.
3. shelter … and strong tower–repeat the same sentiment.
4. I will abide–So I desire to do (compare Ps 23:6).
trust in the covert, &c.–make my refuge, in the shadow (compare Ps 17:8; 36:7).
5. the heritage–or, part in the spiritual blessings of Israel (Ps 21:2-4).
6, 7. the king–himself and his royal line ending in Christ. Mercy and truth personified, as in Ps 40:11; 57:3.
7. abide before God–literally, “sit as a king in God’s presence,” under His protection.
8. Thus for new blessings will new vows of praise ever be paid.
Ps 62:1-12. To Jeduthun–(See on Ps 39:1, title). The general tone of this Psalm is expressive of confidence in God. Occasion is taken to remind the wicked of their sin, their ruin, and their meanness.
1. waiteth–literally, “is silent,” trusts submissively and confidently as a servant.
2. The titles applied to God often occur (Ps 9:9; 18:2).
be greatly moved–(Ps 10:6). No injury shall be permanent, though devised by enemies.
3. Their destruction will come; as a tottering wall they already are feeble and failing.
bowing wall shall ye be–better supply “are.” Some propose to apply these phrases to describe the condition of “a man”–that is, the pious suffer: thus, “Will ye slay him,” &c.; but the other is a good sense.
4. his excellency–or, elevation to which God had raised him (Ps 4:2). This they try to do by lies and duplicity (Ps 5:9).
5, 6. (Compare Ps 62:1, 2).
6. not be moved–not at all; his confidence has increased.
7. rock of my strength–or strongest support (Ps 7:10; 61:3).
8. pour out your heart–give full expression to feeling (1Sa 1:15; Job 30:16; Ps 42:4).
ye people–God’s people.
9. No kind of men are reliable, compared with God (Isa 2:22; Jer 17:5).
altogether–alike, one as the other (Ps 34:3).
10. Not only are oppression and robbery, which are wicked means of wealth, no grounds of boasting; but even wealth, increasing lawfully, ought not to engross the heart.
11. once; twice–(as in Job 33:14; 40:5), are used to give emphasis to the sentiment. God’s power is tempered by His mercy, which it also sustains.
12. for thou renderest–literally, “that Thou renderest,” &c., connected with “I heard this,” as the phrase–“that power,” &c. [Ps 62:11]–teaching that by His power He can show both mercy and justice.
Ps 63:1-11. The historical occasion referred to by the title was probably during Absalom’s rebellion (compare 2Sa 15:23, 28; 16:2). David expresses an earnest desire for God’s favor, and a confident expectation of realizing it in his deliverance and the ruin of his enemies.
1. early … seek thee–earnestly (Isa 26:9). The figurative terms–
dry and thirsty–literally, “weary,” denoting moral destitution, suited his outward circumstances.
soul–and–flesh–the whole man (Ps 16:9, 10).
2. The special object of desire was God’s perfections as displayed in his worship (Ps 27:4).
3. Experiencing God’s mercy, which exceeds all the blessings of life, his lips will be opened for his praise (Ps 51:15).
4. Thus–literally, “Truly.”
will I bless–praise Thee (Ps 34:1).
lift up my hands–in worship (compare Ps 28:2).
in thy name–in praise of Thy perfections.
5-8. Full spiritual blessings satisfy his desires, and acts of praise fill his thoughts and time.
6. night–as well as day. Past favors assure him of future, and hence he presses earnestly near to God, whose power sustains him (Ps 17:8; 60:5).
9, 10. those … to destroy it–or literally, “to ruin,” or, “for ruin”; that is, such as seek to injure me (are) for ruin, appointed to it (compare Ps 35:8).
shall go … earth–into the grave, or, to death; as their bodies are represented as a portion for–
10. foxes–literally, “jackals.”
11. the king–that is, David himself, and all who reverence God, “shall share a glorious part,” while treacherous foes shall be for ever silenced (Ps 62:4).
Ps 64:1-10. A prayer for deliverance from cunning and malicious enemies, with a confident view of their overthrow, which will honor God and give joy to the righteous.
1. preserve … fear–as well as the danger producing it.
2. insurrection–literally, “uproar,” noisy assaults, as well as their secret counsels.
3, 4. Similar figures for slander (Ps 57:4; 59:7).
bend–literally, “tread,” or, “prepared.” The allusion is to the mode of bending a bow by treading on it; here, and in Ps 58:7, transferred to arrows.
4. the perfect–one innocent of the charges made (Ps 18:23).
fear not–(Ps 55:19), not regarding God.
5. A sentiment here more fully presented, by depicting their deliberate malice.
6. This is further evinced by their diligent efforts and deeply laid schemes.
7. The contrast is heightened by representing God as using weapons like theirs.
8. their … tongue to fall, &c.–that is, the consequences of their slanders, &c. (compare Ps 10:2; 31:16).
all that see … away–Their partners in evil shall be terrified.
9, 10. Men, generally, will acknowledge God’s work, and the righteous, rejoicing in it, shall be encouraged to trust Him (Ps 58:10).
Ps 65:1-13. This is a song of praise for God’s spiritual blessings to His people and His kind providence over all the earth.
1. Praise waiteth for thee–literally, “To Thee silence praise,” or (compare Ps 62:1), To Thee silence is praise–that is, Praise is waiting as a servant; it is due to Thee. So the last clause expresses the duty of paying vows. These two parts of acceptable worship, mentioned in Ps 50:14, are rendered in Zion, where God chiefly displays His mercy and receives homage.
2. All are encouraged to pray by God’s readiness to hear.
3. God’s mercy alone delivers us from the burden of iniquities, by purging or expiating by an atonement the transgressions with which we are charged, and which are denoted by–
Iniquities–or, literally, “Words of iniquities.”
4. dwell in thy courts; … [and] satisfied with the goodness … temple–denote communion with God (Ps 15:1; 23:6; compare Ps 5:7). This is a blessing for all God’s people, as denoted by the change of number.
5. terrible things–that is, by the manifestation of justice and wrath to enemies, accompanying that of mercy to His people (Ps 63:9-11; 64:7-9).
the confidence–object of it.
of all … earth–the whole world; that is, deservedly such, whether men think so or not.
6-13. God’s great power and goodness are the grounds of this confidence. These are illustrated in His control of the mightiest agencies of nature and nations affecting men with awe and dread (Ps 26:7; 98:1, &c.), and in His fertilizing showers, causing the earth to produce abundantly for man and beast.
8. outgoings of … rejoice–all people from east to west.
9. visitest–in mercy (compare Ps 8:4).
river of God–His exhaustless resources.
11. thy paths–ways of providence (Ps 25:4, 10).
12. wilderness–places, though not inhabited by men, fit for pasture (Le 16:21, 22; Job 24:5).
pastures–is literally, “folds,” or “enclosures for flocks”; and in Ps 65:13 it may be “lambs,” the same word used and so translated in Ps 37:20; so that “the flocks are clothed with lambs” (a figure for abundant increase) would be the form of expression.
Ps 66:1-20. The writer invites all men to unite in praise, cites some striking occasions for it, promises special acts of thanksgiving, and celebrates God’s great mercy.
1. Make … noise–or, “Shout.”
2. his name–as in Ps 29:2.
make his praise glorious–literally, “place honor, His praise,” or, “as to His praise”; that is, let His praise be such as will glorify Him, or, be honorable to Him.
3, 4. A specimen of the praise.
How terrible–(Compare Ps 65:8).
submit–(Compare Margin), show a forced subjection (Ps 18:44), produced by terror.
5, 6. The terrible works illustrated in Israel’s history (Ex 14:21). By this example let rebels be admonished.
7. behold the nations–watch their conduct.
8, 9. Here is, perhaps, cited a case of recent deliverance.
9. holdeth … in life–literally, “putteth our soul in life”; that is, out of danger (Ps 30:3; 49:15).
to be moved–(Compare Ps 10:6; 55:22).
10-12. Out of severe trials, God had brought them to safety (compare Isa 48:10; 1Pe 1:7).
11. affliction–literally, “pressure,” or, as in Ps 55:3, “oppression,” which, laid on the
loins–the seat of strength (De 33:11), enfeebles the frame.
12. men to ride over our heads–made us to pass.
through fire, &c.–figures describing prostration and critical dangers (compare Isa 43:2; Eze 36:12).
wealthy–literally, “overflowing,” or, “irrigated,” and hence fertile.
13-15. These full and varied offerings constitute the payment of vows (Le 22:18-23).
15. I will offer–literally, “make to ascend,” alluding to the smoke of burnt offering, which explains the use of “incense.”
incense–elsewhere always denoting the fumes of aromatics.
16-20. With these he unites his public thanks, inviting those who fear God (Ps 60:4; 61:5, His true worshippers) to hear. He vindicates his sincerity, inasmuch as God would not hear hypocrites, but had heard him.
17. he was extolled with my tongue–literally, “exaltation (was) under my tongue,” as a place of deposit, whence it proceeded; that is, honoring God was habitual.
18. If I regard iniquity in my heart–literally, “see iniquity with pleasure.”
Ps 67:1-7. A prayer that, by God’s blessing on His people, His salvation and praise may be extended over the earth.
1. cause his face to shine–show us favor (Nu 6:24, 25; Ps 31:16).
2. thy way–of gracious dealing (Isa 55:8), as explained by–
saving health–or literally, “salvation.”
3-5. Thanks will be rendered for the blessings of His wise and holy government (compare Isa 2:3, 4; 11:4).
6, 7. The blessings of a fruitful harvest are mentioned as types of greater and spiritual blessings, under which all nations shall fear and love God.
Ps 68:1-35. This is a Psalm-song (see on Ps 30:1, title), perhaps suggested by David’s victories, which secured his throne and gave rest to the nation. In general terms, the judgment of God on the wicked, and the equity and goodness of His government to the pious, are celebrated. The sentiment is illustrated by examples of God’s dealings, cited from the Jewish history and related in highly poetical terms. Hence the writer intimates an expectation of equal and even greater triumphs and summons all nations to unite in praises of the God of Israel. The Psalm is evidently typical of the relation which God, in the person of His Son, sustains to the Church (compare Ps 68:18).
1-3. Compare Nu 10:35; Ps 1:4; 22:14, on the figures here used.
before him–as in Ps 68:2, from His presence, as dreaded; but in Ps 68:3, in His presence, as under His protection (Ps 61:7).
3. the righteous–all truly pious, whether of Israel or not.
4. extol him … heavens–literally, “cast up for Him who rideth in the deserts,” or “wilderness” (compare Ps 68:7), alluding to the poetical representation of His leading His people in the wilderness as a conqueror, before whom a way is to be prepared, or “cast up” (compare Isa 40:3; 62:10).
by his name JAH–or, “Jehovah,” of which it is a contraction (Ex 15:3; Isa 12:2) (Hebrew).
name–or, “perfections” (Ps 9:10; 20:1), which–
5, 6. are illustrated by the protection to the helpless, vindication of the innocent, and punishment of rebels, ascribed to Him.
6. setteth the solitary in families–literally, “settleth the lonely” (as wanderers) “at home.” Though a general truth, there is perhaps allusion to the wandering and settlement of the Israelites.
rebellious dwell in a dry land–removed from all the comforts of home.
7, 8. (Compare Ex 19:16-18).
thou wentest–in the pillar of fire.
thou didst march–literally, “in Thy tread,” Thy majestic movement.
8. even Sinai itself–literally, “that Sinai,” as in Jud 5:5.
9, 10. a plentiful rain–a rain of gifts, as manna and quails.
10. Thy congregation–literally, “troop,” as in 2Sa 23:11, 13–the military aspect of the people being prominent, according to the figures of the context.
therein–that is, in the land of promise.
the poor–Thy humble people (Ps 68:9; compare Ps 10:17; 12:5).
11. gave the word–that is, of triumph.
company–or, choir of females, celebrating victory (Ex 15:20).
12. Kings of armies–that is, with their armies.
she that … at home–Mostly women so remained, and the ease of victory appears in that such, without danger, quietly enjoyed the spoils.
13. Some translate this, “When ye shall lie between the borders, ye shall,” &c., comparing the peaceful rest in the borders or limits of the promised land to the proverbial beauty of a gentle dove. Others understand by the word rendered “pots,” the smoked sides of caves, in which the Israelites took refuge from enemies in the times of the judges; or, taking the whole figuratively, the rows of stones on which cooking vessels were hung; and thus that a contrast is drawn between their former low and afflicted state and their succeeding prosperity. In either case, a state of quiet and peace is described by a beautiful figure.
14. Their enemies dispersed, the contrast of their prosperity with their former distress is represented by that of the snow with the dark and somber shades of Salmon.
15, 16. Mountains are often symbols of nations (Ps 46:2; 65:6). That of Bashan, northeast of Palestine, denotes a heathen nation, which is described as a “hill of God,” or a great hill. Such are represented as envious of the hill (Zion) on which God resides;
17. and, to the assertion of God’s purpose to make it His dwelling, is added evidence of His protecting care. He is described as in the midst of His heavenly armies–
thousands of angels–literally, “thousands of repetitions,” or, “thousands of thousands”–that is, of chariots. The word “angels” was perhaps introduced in our version, from De 33:2, and Ga 3:19. They are, of course, implied as conductors of the chariots.
as … Sinai, in the holy place–that is, He has appeared in Zion as once in Sinai.
18. From the scene of conquest He ascends to His throne, leading–
captivity captive–or, “many captives captive” (Jud 5:12).
received gifts for men–accepting their homage, even when forced, as that of rebels.
that the Lord God might dwell–or literally, “to dwell, O Lord God” (compare Ps 68:16)–that is, to make this hill, His people or Church, His dwelling. This Psalm typifies the conquests of the Church under her divine leader, Christ. He, indeed, “who was with the Church in the wilderness” (Ac 7:38) is the Lord, described in this ideal ascension. Hence Paul (Eph 4:8) applies this language to describe His real ascension, when, having conquered sin, death, and hell, the Lord of glory triumphantly entered heaven, attended by throngs of adoring angels, to sit on the throne and wield the scepter of an eternal dominion. The phrase “received gifts for (or literally, among) men” is by Paul, “gave gifts to men.” Both describe the acts of a conqueror, who receives and distributes spoils. The Psalmist uses “receiving” as evincing the success, Paul “gave” as the act, of the conqueror, who, having subdued his enemies, proceeds to reward his friends. The special application of the passage by Paul was in proof of Christ’s exaltation. What the Old Testament represents of His descending and ascending corresponds with His history. He who descended is the same who has ascended. As then ascension was an element of His triumph, so is it now; and He, who, in His humiliation, must be recognized as our vicarious sacrifice and the High Priest of our profession, must also be adored as Head of His Church and author of all her spiritual benefits.
19-21. God daily and fully supplies us. The issues or escapes from death are under His control, who is the God that saves us, and destroys His and our enemies.
21. wound the head–or, “violently destroy” (Nu 24:8; Ps 110:6).
goeth on still in … trespasses–perseveringly impenitent.
22. Former examples of God’s deliverance are generalized: as He has done, so He will do.
from Bashan–the farthest region; and–
depths of the sea–the severest afflictions. Out of all, God will bring them. The figures of Ps 68:23 denote the completeness of the conquest, not implying any savage cruelty (compare 2Ki 9:36; Isa 63:1-6; Jer 15:3).
24-27. The triumphal procession, after the deliverance, is depicted.
They have seen–impersonally, “There have been seen.”
the goings of my God–as leading the procession; the ark, the symbol of His presence, being in front. The various bands of music (Ps 68:25) follow, and all who are–
26. from–or literally, “of”
the fountain of Israel–that is, lineal descendants of Jacob, are invited to unite in the doxology. Then by one of the nearest tribes, one of the most eminent, and two of the most remote, are represented the whole nation of Israel, passing forward (Nu 7:1-89).
28, 29. Thanks for the past, and confident prayer for the future victories of Zion are mingled in a song of praise.
29. thy temple–literally, “over”
Jerusalem–His palace or residence (Ps 5:7) symbolized His protecting presence among His people, and hence is the object of homage on the part of others.
30. The strongest nations are represented by the strongest beasts (compare Margin).
31. Princes–or, literally, “fat ones,” the most eminent from the most wealthy, and the most distant nation, represent the universal subjection.
stretch out her hands–or, “make to run her hands,” denoting haste.
32-36. To Him who is presented as riding in triumph through His ancient heavens and proclaiming His presence–to Him who, in nature, and still more in the wonders of His spiritual government, out of His holy place (Ps 43:3), is terrible, who rules His Church, and, by His Church, rules the world in righteousness–let all nations and kingdoms give honor and power and dominion evermore.
Ps 69:1-36. Upon Shoshannim–(See on Ps 45:1, title). Mingling the language of prayer and complaint, the sufferer, whose condition is here set forth, pleads for God’s help as one suffering in His cause, implores the divine retribution on his malicious enemies, and, viewing his deliverance as sure, promises praise by himself, and others, to whom God will extend like blessings. This Psalm is referred to seven times in the New Testament as prophetical of Christ and the gospel times. Although the character in which the Psalmist appears to some in Ps 69:5 is that of a sinner, yet his condition as a sufferer innocent of alleged crimes sustains the typical character of the composition, and it may be therefore regarded throughout, as the twenty-second, as typically expressive of the feelings of our Saviour in the flesh.
1, 2. (Compare Ps 40:2).
come in unto my soul–literally, “come even to my soul,” endanger my life by drowning (Jon 2:5).
3. (Compare Ps 6:6).
mine eyes fail–in watching (Ps 119:82).
4. hate me, &c.–(Compare Joh 15:25). On the number and power of his enemies (compare Ps 40:12).
then I restored … away–that is, he suffered wrongfully under the imputation of robbery.
5. This may be regarded as an appeal, vindicating his innocence, as if he had said, “If sinful, thou knowest,” &c. Though David’s condition as a sufferer may typify Christ’s, without requiring that a parallel be found in character.
6. for my sake–literally, “in me,” in my confusion and shame.
7-12. This plea contemplates his relation to God as a sufferer in His cause. Reproach, domestic estrangement (Mr 3:21; Joh 7:5), exhaustion in God’s service (Joh 2:17), revilings and taunts of base men were the sufferings.
10. wept (and chastened) my soul–literally, “wept away my soul,” a strongly figurative description of deep grief.
12. sit in the gate–public place (Pr 31:31).
13-15. With increasing reliance on God, he prays for help, describing his distress in the figures of Ps 69:1, 2.
16-18. These earnest terms are often used, and the address to God, as indifferent or averse, is found in Ps 3:7; 22:24; 27:9, &c.
19, 20. Calling God to witness his distress, he presents its aggravation produced by the want of sympathizing friends (compare Isa 63:5; Mr 14:50).
21. Instead of such, his enemies increase his pain by giving him most distasteful food and drink. The Psalmist may have thus described by figure what Christ found in reality (compare Joh 19:29, 30).
22, 23. With unimportant verbal changes, this language is used by Paul to describe the rejection of the Jews who refused to receive the Saviour (Ro 11:9, 10). The purport of the figures used is that blessings shall become curses, the “table” of joy (as one of food) a “snare,” their
welfare–literally, “peaceful condition,” or security, a “trap.” Darkened eyes and failing strength complete the picture of the ruin falling on them under the invoked retribution.
23. continually to shake–literally, “to swerve” or bend in weakness.
24, 25. An utter desolation awaits them. They will not only be driven from their homes, but their homes–or, literally, “palaces,” indicative of wealth–shall be desolate (compare Mt 23:38).
26. Though smitten of God (Isa 53:4), men were not less guilty in persecuting the sufferer (Ac 2:23).
talk to the grief–in respect to, about it, implying derision and taunts.
wounded–or, literally, “mortally wounded.”
27, 28. iniquity–or, “punishment of iniquity” (Ps 40:12).
come … righteousness–partake of its benefits.
28. book of the living–or “life,” with the next clause, a figurative mode of representing those saved, as having their names in a register (compare Ex 32:32; Isa 4:3).
29. poor and sorrowful–the afflicted pious, often denoted by such terms (compare Ps 10:17; 12:5).
set me … high–out of danger.
30, 31. Spiritual are better than mere material offerings (Ps 40:6; 50:8); hence a promise of the former, and rather contemptuous terms are used of the latter.
32, 33. Others shall rejoice. “Humble” and poor, as in Ps 69:29.
your heart, &c.–address to such (compare Ps 22:26).
33. prisoners–peculiarly liable to be despised.
34-36. The call on the universe for praise is well sustained by the prediction of the perpetual and extended blessings which shall come upon the covenant-people of God. Though, as usual, the imagery is taken from terms used of Palestine, the whole tenor of the context indicates that the spiritual privileges and blessings of the Church are meant.
Ps 70:1-5. This corresponds to Ps 40:13-17 with a very few variations, as “turn back” (Ps 70:3) for “desolate,” and “make haste unto me” (Ps 70:5) for “thinketh upon me.” It forms a suitable appendix to the preceding, and is called “a Psalm to bring to remembrance,” as the thirty-eighth [see on Ps 38:1, title].
Ps 71:1-24. The Psalmist, probably in old age, appeals to God for help from his enemies, pleading his past favors, and stating his present need; and, in confidence of a hearing, he promises his grateful thanks and praise.
1-3. (Compare Ps 30:1-3).
3. given commandment–literally, “ordained,” as in Ps 44:4; 68:28.
rock … fortress–(Ps 18:2).
4, 5. cruel man–corrupt and ill-natured–literally, “sour.”
5. trust–place of trust.
6-9. His history from early infancy illustrated God’s care, and his wonderful deliverances were at once occasions of praise and ground of confidence for the future.
my praise … of thee–literally, “in” or “by Thee” (Ps 22:25).
10, 11. The craft and malicious taunts of his enemies now led him to call for aid (compare the terms used, 2Sa 17:12; Ps 3:2; 7:2).
12. (Compare Ps 22:19; 40:4).
13. (Compare Ps 35:4; 40:14).
14-16. The ruin of his enemies, as illustrating God’s faithfulness, is his deliverance, and a reason for future confidence.
15. for I know … thereof–innumerable, as he had not time to count them.
16. in the strength–or, relying on it.
thy righteousness–or, faithful performance of promises to the pious (Ps 7:17; 31:1).
17-21. Past experience again encourages.
taught me, &c.–by providential dealings.
19. is very high–distinguished (Ps 36:5; Isa 55:9).
20. depths of the earth–debased, low condition.
21. increase, &c.–that is, the great things done for me (Ps 71:19; compare Ps 40:5).
22-24. To the occasion of praise he now adds the promise to render it.
will … praise–literally, “will thank.”
even thy truth–as to Thy truth or faithfulness.
Ps 72:1-19. For, or literally, “of Solomon.” The closing verse rather relates to the second book of Psalms, of which this is the last, and was perhaps added by some collector, to intimate that the collection, to which, as chief author, David’s name was appended, was closed. In this view, these may consistently be the productions of others included, as of Asaph, sons of Korah, and Solomon; and a few of David’s may be placed in the latter series. The fact that here the usual mode of denoting authorship is used, is strongly conclusive that Solomon was the author, especially as no stronger objection appears than what has been now set aside. The Psalm, in highly wrought figurative style, describes the reign of a king as “righteous, universal, beneficent, and perpetual.” By the older Jewish and most modern Christian interpreters, it has been referred to Christ, whose reign, present and prospective, alone corresponds with its statements. As the imagery of the second Psalm was drawn from the martial character of David’s reign, that of this is from the peaceful and prosperous state of Solomon’s.
1. Give the king, &c.–a prayer which is equivalent to a prediction.
judgments–the acts, and (figuratively) the principles of a right government (Joh 5:22; 9:39).
righteousness–qualifications for conducting such a government.
king’s son–same person as a king–a very proper title for Christ, as such in both natures.
2, &c. The effects of such a government by one thus endowed are detailed.
thy people … and thy poor–or, “meek,” the pious subjects of his government.
3. As mountains and hills are not usually productive, they are here selected to show the abundance of peace, being represented as
bringing–or, literally, “bearing” it as a produce.
by righteousness–that is, by means of his eminently just and good methods of ruling.
4. That peace, including prosperity, as an eminent characteristic of Christ’s reign (Isa 2:4; Isa 9:6; 11:9), will be illustrated in the security provided for the helpless and needy, and the punishment inflicted on oppressors, whose power to injure or mar the peace of others will be destroyed (compare Isa 65:25; Zec 9:10).
children of the needy–for the needy (compare sons of strangers, Ps 18:45 [Margin]).
5. as long as … endure–literally, “with the sun,” coeval with its existence, and before, or, in presence of the moon, while it lasts (compare Ge 11:28, “before Terah,” literally, “in presence of,” while he lived).
6. A beautiful figure expresses the grateful nature of His influence;
7, and, carrying out the figure, the results are described in an abundant production.
the righteous–literally, “righteousness.”
flourish–literally, “sprout,” or, “spring forth.”
8. The foreign nations mentioned (Ps 72:9, 10) could not be included in the limits, if designed to indicate the boundaries of Solomon’s kingdom. The terms, though derived from those used (Ex 23:31; De 11:24) to denote the possessions of Israel, must have a wider sense. Thus, “ends of the earth” is never used of Palestine, but always of the world (compare Margin).
9-11. The extent of the conquests.
They that dwell in the wilderness–the wild, untutored tribes of deserts.
bow … dust–in profound submission. The remotest and wealthiest nations shall acknowledge Him (compare Ps 45:12).
12-14. They are not the conquests of arms, but the influences of humane and peaceful principles (compare Isa 9:7; 11:1-9; Zec 9:9, 10).
15. In his prolonged life he will continue to receive the honorable gifts of the rich, and the prayers of his people shall be made for him, and their praises given to him.
16. The spiritual blessings, as often in Scripture, are set forth by material, the abundance of which is described by a figure, in which a “handful” (or literally, “a piece,” or small portion) of corn in the most unpropitious locality, shall produce a crop, waving in the wind in its luxuriant growth, like the forests of Lebanon.
they of the city … earth–This clause denotes the rapid and abundant increase of population–
the city–Jerusalem, the center and seat of the typical kingdom.
flourish–or, glitter as new grass–that is, bloom. This increase corresponds with the increased productiveness. So, as the gospel blessings are diffused, there shall arise increasing recipients of them, out of the Church in which Christ resides as head.
17. His name–or, “glorious perfections.”
as long as the sun–(Compare Ps 72:5).
men shall be blessed–(Ge 12:3; 18:18).
18, 19. These words close the Psalm in terms consistent with the style of the context, while Ps 72:20 is evidently, from its prosaic style, an addition for the purpose above explained [see on Ps 72:1].
20. ended–literally, “finished,” or completed; the word never denotes fulfilment, except in a very late usage, as in Ezr 1:1; Da 12:7.
Ps 73:1-28. Of Asaph–(see Introduction). God is good to His people. For although the prosperity of the wicked, and the afflictions of the righteous, tempted the Psalmist to misgivings of God’s government, yet the sudden and fearful ruin of the ungodly, seen in the light of God’s revelation, reassures his heart; and, chiding himself for his folly, he is led to confide renewedly in God, and celebrate His goodness and love.
1. The abrupt announcement of the theme indicates that it is the conclusion of a perplexing mental conflict, which is then detailed (compare Jer 12:1-4).
Truly–or, “Surely it is so.”
clean heart–(Ps 18:26) describes the true Israel.
2. The figures express his wavering faith, by terms denoting tottering and weakness (compare Ps 22:5; 62:3).
3-9. The prosperous wicked are insolently proud (compare Ps 5:5). They die, as well as live, free from perplexities: pride adorns them, and violence is their clothing; indeed they are inflated with unexpected success. With all this–
8. They are corrupt–or, literally, “they deride,” they speak maliciously and arrogantly and invade even heaven with blasphemy (Re 13:6), and cover earth with slanders (Job 21:7-14).
10-12. Hence God’s people are confounded, turned hither (or back) and thither, perplexed with doubts of God’s knowledge and care, and filled with sorrow.
12. prosper in the word–literally, “secure for ever.”
13, 14. The Psalmist, partaking of these troubles, is especially disturbed in view of his own case, that with all his diligent efforts for a holy life, he is still sorely tried.
15. Freed from idiomatic phrases, this verse expresses a supposition, as, “Had I thus spoken, I should,” &c., intimating that he had kept his troubles to himself.
generation of thy children–Thy people (1Jo 3:1).
offend–literally, “deceive, mislead.”
16, 17. Still he–
thought–literally, “studied,” or, “pondered this riddle”; but in vain; it remained a toil (compare Margin), till he–
17. went into the sanctuary–to enquire (compare Ex 25:22; Ps 5:7; 27:4).
18-20. their end–future (Ps 37:37, 38), which is dismal and terribly sudden (Pr 1:27; 29:1), aggravated and hastened by terror. As one despises an unsubstantial dream, so God, waking up to judgment (Ps 7:6; 44:23), despises their vain shadow of happiness (Ps 39:6; Isa 29:7). They are thrown into ruins as a building falling to pieces (Ps 74:3).
21, 22. He confesses how–
foolish–literally, “stupid,” and
ignorant–literally, “not discerning,” had been his course of thought.
22. before thee–literally, “with Thee,” in conduct respecting Thee.
23. Still he was with God, as a dependent beneficiary, and so kept from falling (Ps 73:2).
24. All doubts are silenced in confidence of divine guidance and future glory.
receive me to glory–literally, “take for (me) glory” (compare Ps 68:18; Eph 4:8).
25, 26. God is his only satisfying good.
26. strength–literally, “rock” (Ps 18:2).
portion–(Ps 16:5; La 3:24).
27, 28. The lot of apostates, described by a figure of frequent use (Jer 3:1, 3; Eze 23:35), is contrasted with his, who finds happiness in nearness to God (Jas 4:8), and his delightful work the declaration of His praise.
Ps 74:1-23. If the historical allusions of Ps 74:6-8, &c., be referred, as is probable, to the period of the captivity, the author was probably a descendant and namesake of Asaph, David’s contemporary and singer (compare 2Ch 35:15; Ezr 2:41). He complains of God’s desertion of His Church, and appeals for aid, encouraging himself by recounting some of God’s mighty deeds, and urges his prayer on the ground of God’s covenant relation to His people, and the wickedness of His and their common enemy.
1. cast … off–with abhorrence (compare Ps 43:2; 44:9). There is no disavowal of guilt implied. The figure of fire to denote God’s anger is often used; and here, and in De 29:20, by the word “smoke,” suggests its continuance.
sheep … pasture–(Compare Ps 80:1; 95:7).
2. The terms to denote God’s relation to His people increase in force: “congregation”–“purchased”–“redeemed”–“Zion,” His dwelling.
3. Lift … feet–(Ge 29:1)–that is, Come (to behold) the desolations (Ps 73:19).
4. roar–with bestial fury.
congregations–literally, “worshipping assemblies.”
ensigns–literally, “signs”–substituted their idolatrous objects, or tokens of authority, for those articles of the temple which denoted God’s presence.
5, 6. Though some terms and clauses here are very obscure, the general sense is that the spoilers destroyed the beauties of the temple with the violence of woodmen.
was famous–literally, “was known.”
6. carved work–(1Ki 6:29).
thereof–that is, of the temple, in the writer’s mind, though not expressed till Ps 74:7, in which its utter destruction by fire is mentioned (2Ki 25:9; Isa 64:11).
7. defiled–or, “profaned,” as in Ps 89:39.
8. together–at once, all alike.
synagogues–literally, “assemblies,” for places of assembly, whether such as schools of the prophets (2Ki 4:23), or “synagogues” in the usual sense, there is much doubt.
9. signs–of God’s presence, as altar, ark, &c. (compare Ps 74:4; 2Ch 36:18, 19; Da 5:2).
no more any prophet–(Isa 3:2; Jer 40:1; 43:6).
how long–this is to last. Jeremiah’s prophecy (Jer 25:11), if published, may not have been generally known or understood. To the bulk of the people, during the captivity, the occasional and local prophetical services of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel would not make an exception to the clause, “there is no more any prophet.”
10. (Compare Ps 31:1).
how long … reproach?–us, as deserted of God.
blaspheme thy name–or, “perfections,” as power, goodness, &c. (Ps 29:2).
11. Why cease to help us? (Compare Ps 3:7; 7:6; 60:5).
12. For–literally, “And,” in an adversative sense.
13-15. Examples of the “salvation wrought” are cited.
divide the sea–that is, Red Sea.
brakest … waters–Pharaoh and his host (compare Isa 51:9, 10; Eze 29:3, 4).
14. heads of leviathan–The word is a collective, and so used for many.
the people … wilderness–that is, wild beasts, as conies (Pr 30:25, 26), are called a people. Others take the passages literally, that the sea monsters thrown out on dry land were food for the wandering Arabs.
15. cleave the fountain–that is, the rocks of Horeb and Kadesh; for fountains.
driedst up–Jordan, and, perhaps, Arnon and Jabbok (Nu 21:14).
16, 17. The fixed orders of nature and bounds of earth are of God.
18. (Compare Ps 74:10; De 32:6). The contrast is striking–that such a God should be thus insulted!
19. multitude–literally, “beast,” their flock or company of men (Ps 68:10).
turtledove–that is, the meek and lonely Church.
congregation–literally, “the company,” as above–thus the Church is represented as the spoiled and defeated remnant of an army, exposed to violence.
20. And the prevalence of injustice in heathen lands is a reason for invoking God’s regard to His promise (compare Nu 14:21; Ps 7:16; 18:48).
21. oppressed–broken (Ps 9:9).
return–from seeking God.
22, 23. (Compare Ps 3:7; 7:6). God hears the wicked to their own ruin (Ge 4:10; 18:20).
Ps 75:1-10. Al-taschith–(See on Ps 57:1, title). In impending danger, the Psalmist, anticipating relief in view of God’s righteous government, takes courage and renders praise.
1. God’s name or perfections are set forth by His wondrous works.
2, 3. These verses express the purpose of God to administer a just government, and in a time of anarchy that He sustains the nation. Some apply the words to the Psalmist.
receive the congregation–literally, “take a set time” (Ps 102:13; Ho 2:3), or an assembly at a set time–that is, for judging.
3. pillars of it–(1Sa 2:8).
4-8. Here the writer speaks in view of God’s declaration, warning the wicked.
Lift … up the horn–to exalt power, here, of the wicked himself–that is, to be arrogant or self-elated.
5. speak … neck–insolently.
6. promotion–literally, “a lifting up.” God is the only right judge of merit.
8. in the hand … a cup … red–God’s wrath often thus represented (compare Isa 51:17; Jer 25:15).
but the dregs–literally, “surely the dregs, they shall drain it.”
9, 10. Contrasted is the lot of the pious who will praise God, and, acting under His direction, will destroy the power of the wicked, and exalt that of the righteous.
Ps 76:1-12. On Neginoth–(See on Ps 4:1, title). This Psalm commemorates what the preceding anticipates: God’s deliverance of His people by a signal interposition of power against their enemies. The occasion was probably the events narrated in 2Ki 19:35; Isa 37:1-28. (Compare Ps 46:1-11).
1, 2. These well-known terms denote God’s people and Church and His intimate and glorious relations to them.
2. Salem–(Ge 14:18) is Jerusalem.
3. brake … the arrows–literally, “thunderbolts” (Ps 78:48), from their rapid flight or ignition (compare Ps 18:14; Eph 6:16).
the battle–for arms (Ho 2:18).
mountains of prey–great victorious nations, as Assyria (Isa 41:15; Eze 38:11, 12; Zec 4:7).
5. slept their sleep–died (Ps 13:3).
none … found … hands–are powerless.
6. chariot and horse–for those fighting on them (compare Ps 68:17).
7. may … sight–contend with Thee (De 9:4; Jos 7:12).
8, 9. God’s judgment on the wicked is His people’s deliverance (Ps 9:12; 10:7).
10. Man’s wrath praises God by its futility before His power.
restrain–or, “gird”; that is, Thyself, as with a sword, with which to destroy, or as an ornament to Thy praise.
11, 12. Invite homage to such a God (2Ch 32:23), who can stop the breath of kings and princes when He wills (Da 5:23).
Ps 77:1-20. To Jeduthun–(See on Ps 39:1, title). In a time of great affliction, when ready to despair, the Psalmist derives relief from calling to mind God’s former and wonderful works of delivering power and grace.
1. expresses the purport of the Psalm.
2. his importunacy.
my sore ran … night–literally, “my hand was spread,” or, “stretched out” (compare Ps 44:20).
ceased not–literally, “grew not numb,” or, “feeble” (Ge 45:26; Ps 38:8).
my soul … comforted–(compare Ge 37:35; Jer 31:15).
3-9. His sad state contrasted with former joys.
was troubled–literally, “violently agitated,” or disquieted (Ps 39:6; 41:5).
my spirit was overwhelmed–or, “fainted” (Ps 107:5; Jon 2:7).
4. holdest … waking–or, “fast,” that I cannot sleep. Thus he is led to express his anxious feelings in several earnest questions indicative of impatient sorrow.
10. Omitting the supplied words, we may read, “This is my affliction–the years of,” &c., “years” being taken as parallel to affliction (compare Ps 90:15), as of God’s ordering.
11, 12. He finds relief in contrasting God’s former deliverances. Shall we receive good at His hands, and not evil? Both are orderings of unerring mercy and unfailing love.
13. Thy way … in the sanctuary–God’s ways of grace and providence (Ps 22:3; 67:2), ordered on holy principles, as developed in His worship; or implied in His perfections, if “holiness” be used for “sanctuary,” as some prefer translating (compare Ex 15:11).
14-20. Illustrations of God’s power in His special interventions for His people (Ex 14:1-31), and, in the more common, but sublime, control of nature (Ps 22:11-14; Hab 3:14) which may have attended those miraculous events (Ex 14:24).
15. Jacob and Joseph–representing all.
19. waters … , footsteps–may refer to His actual leading the people through the sea, though also expressing the mysteries of providence.
Ps 78:1-72. This Psalm appears to have been occasioned by the removal of the sanctuary from Shiloh in the tribe of Ephraim to Zion in the tribe of Judah, and the coincident transfer of pre-eminence in Israel from the former to the latter tribe, as clearly evinced by David’s settlement as the head of the Church and nation. Though this was the execution of God’s purpose, the writer here shows that it also proceeded from the divine judgment on Ephraim, under whose leadership the people had manifested the same sinful and rebellious character which had distinguished their ancestors in Egypt.
1. my people … my law–the language of a religious teacher (Ps 78:2; La 3:14; Ro 2:16, 27; compare Ps 49:4). The history which follows was a “dark saying,” or riddle, if left unexplained, and its right apprehension required wisdom and attention.
3-8. This history had been handed down (Ex 12:14; De 6:20) for God’s honor, and that the principles of His law might be known and observed by posterity. This important sentiment is reiterated in (Ps 78:7, 8) negative form.
5. testimony–(Ps 19:7).
8. stubborn and rebellious–(De 21:18).
set not their heart–on God’s service (2Ch 12:14).
9-11. The privileges of the first-born which belonged to Joseph (1Ch 5:1, 2) were assigned to Ephraim by Jacob (Ge 48:1). The supremacy of the tribe thus intimated was recognized by its position (in the marching of the nation to Canaan) next to the ark (Nu 2:18-24), by the selection of the first permanent locality for the ark within its borders at Shiloh, and by the extensive and fertile province given for its possession. Traces of this prominence remained after the schism under Rehoboam, in the use, by later writers, of Ephraim for Israel (compare Ho 5:3-14; 11:3-12). Though a strong, well-armed tribe, and, from an early period, emulous and haughty (compare Jos 17:14; Jud 8:1-3; 2Sa 19:41), it appears, in this place, that it had rather led the rest in cowardice than courage; and had incurred God’s displeasure, because, diffident of His promise, though often heretofore fulfilled, it had failed as a leader to carry out the terms of the covenant, by not driving out the heathen (Ex 23:24; De 31:16; 2Ki 17:15).
12-14. A record of God’s dealings and the sins of the people is now made. The writer gives the history from the exode to the retreat from Kadesh; then contrasts their sins with their reasons for confidence, shown by a detail of God’s dealings in Egypt, and presents a summary of the subsequent history to David’s time.
Zoan–for Egypt, as its ancient capital (Nu 13:22; Isa 19:11).
15, 16. There were two similar miracles (Ex 17:6; Nu 20:11).
great depths–and–rivers–denote abundance.
17-20. yet more–literally, “added to sin,” instead of being led to repentance (Ro 2:4).
18. in their heart–(Mt 15:19).
for their lust–literally, “soul,” or, “desire.”
provoking–and–tempted–illustrated by their absurd doubts,
19, 20. in the face of His admitted power.
21. fire–the effect of the “anger” (Nu 11:1).
22. (Compare Heb 8:8, 9).
23-29. (Compare Ex 16:11-15; Nu 11:4-9).
25. angels’ food–literally, “bread of the mighty” (compare Ps 105:40); so called, as it came from heaven.
meat–literally, “victuals,” as for a journey.
29. their … desire–what they longed for.
30, 31. not estranged … lust–or, “desire”–that is, were indulging it.
31. slew … fattest–or, “among the fattest”; some of them–
chosen–the young and strong (Isa 40:31), and so none could resist.
33-39. Though there were partial reformations after chastisement, and God, in pity, withdrew His hand for a time, yet their general conduct was rebellious, and He was thus provoked to waste and destroy them, by long and fruitless wandering in the desert.
36. lied … tongues–a feigned obedience (Ps 18:44).
37. heart … not right–or, “firm” (compare Ps 78:8; Ps 51:10).
39. a wind … again–literally, “a breath,” thin air (compare Ps 103:16; Jas 4:14).
40, 41. There were ten temptations (Nu 14:22).
41. limited–as in Ps 78:19, 20. Though some prefer “grieved” or “provoked.” The retreat from Kadesh (De 1:19-23) is meant, whether–
turned–be for turning back, or to denote repetition of offense.
43. wrought–set or held forth.
45. The dog-fly or the mosquito.
46. caterpillar–the Hebrew name, from its voracity, and that of–
locust–from its multitude.
47, 48. The additional effects of the storm here mentioned (compare Ex 9:23-34) are consistent with Moses’ account.
48. gave … cattle–literally, “shut up” (compare Ps 31:8).
49. evil angels–or, “angels of evil”–many were perhaps employed, and other evils inflicted.
50, 51. made a way–removed obstacles, gave it full scope.
51. chief of their strength–literally, “first-fruits,” or, “first-born” (Ge 49:3; De 21:17).
Ham–one of whose sons gave name (Mizraim, Hebrew) to Egypt.
52-54. made his … forth–or, brought them by periodical journeys (compare Ex 15:1).
54. border of his sanctuary–or, “holy border”–i. e., region of which–
this mountain–(Zion) was, as the seat of civil and religious government, the representative, used for the whole land, as afterwards for the Church (Isa 25:6, 7).
purchased–or, “procured by His right hand” or power (Ps 60:5).
55. by line–or, the portion thus measured.
divided them–that is, the heathen, put for their possessions, so tents–that is, of the heathen (compare De 6:11).
56, 57. a deceitful bow–which turns back, and so fails to project the arrow (2Sa 1:22; Ho 7:16). They relapsed.
58. Idolatry resulted from sparing the heathen (compare Ps 78:9-11).
59, 60. heard–perceived (Ge 11:7).
abhorred–but not utterly.
60. tent … placed–literally, “caused to dwell,” set up (Jos 18:1).
61. his strength–the ark, as symbolical of it (Ps 96:6).
62. gave–or, “shut up.”
his people–(Ps 78:48; 1Sa 4:10-17).
63. fire–either figure of the slaughter (1Sa 4:10), or a literal burning by the heathen.
given to marriage–literally, “praised”–that is, as brides.
64. (Compare 1Sa 4:17); and there were, doubtless, others.
made no lamentation–either because stupefied by grief, or hindered by the enemy.
65. (Compare Ps 22:16; Isa 42:13).
66. And he smote … part–or, “struck His enemies’ back.” The Philistines never regained their position after their defeats by David.
67, 68. tabernacle of Joseph–or, “home,” or, “tribe,” to which–
tribe of Ephraim–is parallel (compare Re 7:8). Its pre-eminence was, like Saul’s, only permitted. Judah had been the choice (Ge 49:10).
69. Exalted as–
high palaces–or, “mountains,” and abiding as–the earth.
70-72. God’s sovereignty was illustrated in this choice. The contrast is striking–humility and exaltation–and the correspondence is beautiful.
71. following … ewes, &c.–literally, “ewes giving suck” (compare Isa 40:11). On the pastoral terms, compare Ps 79:13.
Ps 79:1-13. This Psalm, like the seventy-fourth, probably depicts the desolations of the Chaldeans (Jer 52:12-24). It comprises the usual complaint, prayer, and promised thanks for relief.
1. (Compare Ps 74:2-7).
2, 3. (Compare Jer 15:3; 16:4).
4. (Compare Ps 44:13; Jer 42:18; La 2:15).
5. How long–(Ps 13:1).
be angry–(Ps 74:1-10).
jealousy burn–(De 29:20).
6, 7. (Compare Jer 10:25). Though we deserve much, do not the heathen deserve more for their violence to us (Jer 51:3-5; Zec 1:14)? The singular denotes the chief power, and the use of the plural indicates the combined confederates.
called upon–or, “by”
thy name–proclaimed Thy attributes and professed allegiance (Isa 12:4; Ac 2:21).
8. former iniquities–literally, “iniquities of former times.”
prevent us–literally, “meet us,” as in Ps 21:3.
9. for … glory of thy name [and for] thy name’s sake–both mean for illustrating Thy attributes, faithfulness, power, &c.
purge … sins–literally, “provide atonement for us.” Deliverance from sin and suffering, for their good and God’s glory, often distinguish the prayers of Old Testament saints (compare Eph 1:7).
10. This ground of pleading often used (Ex 32:12; Nu 14:13-16).
blood … shed–(Ps 79:3).
11. prisoner–the whole captive people.
power–literally, “arm” (Ps 10:15).
12. into their bosom–The lap or folds of the dress is used by Eastern people for receiving articles. The figure denotes retaliation (compare Isa 65:6, 7). They reproached God as well as His people.
13. sheep … pasture–(Compare Ps 74:1; 78:70).
Ps 80:1-19. Shoshannim–“Lilies” (see on Ps 45:1, title). Eduth–Testimony, referring to the topic as a testimony of God to His people (compare Ps 19:7). This Psalm probably relates to the captivity of the ten tribes, as the former to that of Judah. Its complaint is aggravated by the contrast of former prosperity, and the prayer for relief occurs as a refrain through the Psalm.
1, 2. Joseph–for Ephraim (1Ch 7:20-29; Ps 78:67; Re 7:8), for Israel.
Shepherd–(Compare Ge 49:24).
leadest, &c.–(Ps 77:20).
dwellest … cherubim–(Ex 25:20); the place of God’s visible glory, whence He communed with the people (Heb 9:5).
shine forth–appear (Ps 50:2; 94:1).
2. Before Ephraim, &c.–These tribes marched next the ark (Nu 2:18-24). The name of Benjamin may be introduced merely in allusion to that fact, and not because that tribe was identified with Israel in the schism (1Ki 12:16-21; compare also Nu 10:24).
3. Turn us–that is, from captivity.
thy face to shine–(Nu 6:25).
4. be angry–(Compare Margin.)
5. bread of tears–still an Eastern figure for affliction.
6. strife–object or cause of (Isa 9:11). On last clause compare Ps 79:4; Eze 36:4.
8-11. brought–or, “plucked up,” as by roots, to be replanted.
a vine–(Ps 78:47). The figure (Isa 16:8) represents the flourishing state of Israel, as predicted (Ge 28:14), and verified (1Ki 4:20-25).
12. hedges–(Isa 5:5).
13. The boar–may represent the ravaging Assyrian and
the wild beast–other heathen.
14, 15. visit this vine–favorably (Ps 8:4).
15. And the vineyard–or, “And protect or guard what thy right hand,” &c.
the branch–literally, “over the Son of man,” preceding this phrase, with “protect” or “watch.”
for thyself–a tacit allusion to the plea for help; for
16. it–the “vine” or
they–the “people” are suffering from Thy displeasure.
17. thy hand … upon–that is, strengthen (Ezr 7:6; 8:22).
man of … hand–may allude to Benjamin (Ge 35:18). The terms in the latter clause correspond with those of Ps 80:15, from “and the branch,” &c., literally, and confirm the exposition given above.
18. We need quickening grace (Ps 71:20; 119:25) to persevere in Thy right worship (Ge 4:26; Ro 10:11).
19. (Compare Ps 80:3, “O God”; Ps 80:7, “O God of hosts”).
Ps 81:1-16. Gittith–(See on Ps 8:1, title). A festal Psalm, probably for the passover (compare Mt 26:30), in which, after an exhortation to praise God, He is introduced, reminding Israel of their obligations, chiding their neglect, and depicting the happy results of obedience.
1. our strength–(Ps 38:7).
2. unites the most joyful kinds of music, vocal and instrumental.
3. the new moon–or the month.
the time appointed–(Compare Pr 7:20).
5. a testimony–The feasts, especially the passover, attested God’s relation to His people.
Joseph–for Israel (Ps 80:1).
went out through–or, “over,” that is, Israel in the exodus.
I heard–change of person. The writer speaks for the nation.
language–literally, “lip” (Ps 14:1). An aggravation or element of their distress that their oppressors were foreigners (De 28:49).
6. God’s language alludes to the burdensome slavery of the Israelites.
7. secret place–the cloud from which He troubled the Egyptians (Ex 14:24).
proved thee–(Ps 7:10; 17:3)–tested their faith by the miracle.
8. (Compare Ps 50:7). The reproof follows to Ps 81:12.
if thou wilt hearken–He then propounds the terms of His covenant: they should worship Him alone, who (Ps 81:10) had delivered them, and would still confer all needed blessings.
11, 12. They failed, and He gave them up to their own desires and hardness of heart (De 29:18; Pr 1:30; Ro 11:25).
13-16. Obedience would have secured all promised blessings and the subjection of foes. In this passage, “should have,” “would have,” &c., are better, “should” and “would” expressing God’s intention at the time, that is, when they left Egypt.
Ps 82:1-8. Before the great Judge, the judges of the earth are rebuked, exhorted, and threatened.
1. congregation–(Compare Ex 12:3; 16:1).
of the mighty–that is, of God, of His appointment.
the gods–or, “judges” (Ex 21:6; 22:9), God’s representatives.
2. accept the persons–literally, “lift up the faces,” that is, from dejection, or admit to favor and communion, regardless of merit (Le 19:15; Pr 18:5).
3, 4. So must good judges act (Ps 10:14; Job 29:12).
4. poor and needy–(Compare Ps 34:10; 41:1).
5. By the wilful ignorance and negligence of judges, anarchy ensues (Ps 11:3; 75:3).
out of course–(Compare Margin; Ps 9:6; 62:2).
6, 7. Though God admitted their official dignity (Joh 10:34), He reminds them of their mortality.
7. fall like, &c.–be cut off suddenly (Ps 20:8; 91:7).
8. As rightful sovereign of earth, God is invoked personally to correct the evils of His representatives.
Ps 83:1-18. Of Asaph–(See on Ps 74:1, title). The historical occasion is probably that of 2Ch 20:1, 2 (compare Ps 47:1-9; 48:1-14). After a general petition, the craft and rage of the combined enemies are described, God’s former dealings recited, and a like summary and speedy destruction on them is invoked.
1. God addressed as indifferent (compare Ps 35:22; 39:12).
be not still–literally, “not quiet,” as opposed to action.
2. thine enemies–as well as ours (Ps 74:23; Isa 37:23).
3. hidden ones–whom God specially protects (Ps 27:5; 91:1).
4. from being a nation–utter destruction (Isa 7:8; 23:1).
Israel–here used for Judah, having been the common name.
5. they have consulted–with heart, or cordially.
6-8. tabernacles–for people (Ps 78:67).
they–all these united with the children of Lot, or Ammonites and Moabites (compare 2Ch 20:1).
9-11. Compare the similar fate of these (2Ch 20:23) with that of the foes mentioned in Jud 7:22, here referred to. They destroyed one another (Jud 4:6-24; 7:25). Human remains form manure (compare 2Ki 9:37; Jer 9:22).
12. The language of the invaders.
houses–literally, “residences,” enclosures, as for flocks (Ps 65:12).
of God–as the proprietors of the land (2Ch 20:11; Isa 14:25).
13. like a wheel–or, whirling of any light thing (Isa 17:13), as stubble or chaff (Ps 1:4).
14, 15. Pursue them to an utter destruction.
16. that they may seek–or as Ps 83:18, supply “men,” since Ps 83:17, 18 amplify the sentiment of Ps 83:16, expressing more fully the measure of destruction, and the lesson of God’s being and perfections (compare 2Ch 20:29) taught to all men.
Ps 84:1-12. (See on Ps 8:1, title, and Ps 42:1, title). The writer describes the desirableness of God’s worship and prays for a restoration to its privileges.
1. amiable–not lovely, but beloved.
2. longeth–most intensely (Ge 31:30; Ps 17:12).
fainteth–exhausted with desire.
courts–as tabernacles (Ps 84:1)–the whole building.
crieth out–literally, “sings for joy”; but here, and La 2:19, expresses an act of sorrow as the corresponding noun (Ps 17:1; 61:2).
heart and … flesh–as in Ps 63:1.
3. thine altars–that is, of burnt offering and incense, used for the whole tabernacle. Its structure afforded facilities for sparrows and swallows to indulge their known predilections for such places. Some understand the statement as to the birds as a comparison: “as they find homes, so do I desire thine altars,” &c.
4. This view is favored by the language here, which, as in Ps 15:1; 23:6, recognizes the blessing of membership in God’s family by terms denoting a dwelling in His house.
5. (Compare Ps 68:28).
in whose heart … the ways–that is, who knows and loves the way to God’s favor (Pr 16:17; Isa 40:3, 4).
6. valley of Baca–or, “weeping.” Through such, by reason of their dry and barren condition, the worshippers often had to pass to Jerusalem. As they might become wells, or fountains, or pools, supplied by refreshing rain, so the grace of God, by the exercises of His worship, refreshes and revives the hearts of His people, so that for sorrows they have “rivers of delight” (Ps 36:8; 46:4).
7. The figure of the pilgrim is carried out. As such daily refit their bodily strength till they reach Jerusalem, so the spiritual worshipper is daily supplied with spiritual strength by God’s grace till he appears before God in heaven.
appeareth … God–the terms of the requisition for the attendance on the feasts (compare De 16:16),
9. God is addressed as a shield (compare Ps 84:11).
thine anointed–David (1Sa 16:12).
10. I had … doorkeeper–literally, “I choose to sit on the threshold,” the meanest place.
11, 12. As a sun God enlightens (Ps 27:1); as a shield He protects.
grace–God’s favor, its fruit–
glory–the honor He bestows.
uprightly–(Ps 15:2; 18:23).
12. that trusteth–constantly.
Ps 85:1-13. On the ground of former mercies, the Psalmist prays for renewed blessings, and, confidently expecting them, rejoices.
1. captivity–not necessarily the Babylonian, but any great evil (Ps 14:7).
2, 3. (Compare Ps 32:1-5).
3. To turn from the “fierceness,” implies that He was reconcilable, though
4-7. having still occasion for the anger which is deprecated.
5. draw out–or, “prolong” (Ps 36:10).
8. He is confident God will favor His penitent people (Ps 51:17; 80:18).
saints–as in Ps 4:3, the “godly.”
9. They are here termed “them that fear him”; and grace produces glory (Ps 84:11).
10. God’s promises of “mercy” will be verified by His “truth” (compare Ps 25:10; 40:10); and the “work of righteousness” in His holy government shall be “peace” (Isa 32:17). There is an implied contrast with a dispensation under which God’s truth sustains His threatened wrath, and His righteousness inflicts misery on the wicked.
11. Earth and heaven shall abound with the blessings of this government;
12, 13. and, under this, the deserted land shall be productive, and men be “set,” or guided in God’s holy ways. Doubtless, in this description of God’s returning favor, the writer had in view that more glorious period, when Christ shall establish His government on God’s reconciled justice and abounding mercy.
Ps 86:1-17. This is a prayer in which the writer, with deep emotion, mingles petitions and praises, now urgent for help, and now elated with hope, in view of former mercies. The occurrence of many terms and phrases peculiar to David’s Psalms clearly intimates its authorship.
1, 2. poor and needy–a suffering child of God, as in Ps 10:12, 17; 18:27.
I am holy–or, “godly,” as in Ps 4:3; 85:8.
4. lift up my soul–with strong desire (Ps 25:1).
5-7. unto all … that call upon thee–or, “worship Thee” (Ps 50:15; 91:15) however undeserving (Ex 34:6; Le 11:9-13).
8. neither … works–literally, “nothing like thy works,” the “gods” have none at all.
9, 10. The pious Jews believed that God’s common relation to all would be ultimately acknowledged by all men (Ps 45:12-16; 47:9).
11. Teach–Show, point out.
the way–of Providence.
walk in thy truth–according to its declarations.
unite my heart–fix all my affections (Ps 12:2; Jas 4:8).
to fear thy name–(compare Ps 86:12) to honor Thy perfections.
13, 14. The reason: God had delivered him from death and the power of insolent, violent, and godless persecutors (Ps 54:3; Eze 8:12).
15. Contrasts God with his enemies (compare Ps 86:5).
16. son … handmaid–homeborn servant (compare Lu 15:17).
17. Show me–literally, “Make with me a token,” by Thy providential care. Thus in and by his prosperity his enemies would be confounded.
Ps 87:1-7. This triumphal song was probably occasioned by the same event as the forty-sixth [see on Ps 46:1, title]. The writer celebrates the glory of the Church, as the means of spiritual blessing to the nation.
1. His–that is, God’s
foundation–or, what He has founded, that is, Zion (Isa 14:32).
is in the holy mountains–the location of Zion, in the wide sense, for the capital, or Jerusalem, being on several hills.
2. gates–for the enclosures, or city to which they opened (Ps 9:14; 122:2; compare Ps 132:13, 14).
3. spoken of thee–or, “in thee,” that is, the city of God (Ps 46:4; 48:2).
4. This is what is spoken by God.
to them … me–literally, “for My knowers,” they are true worshippers (Ps 36:10; Isa 19:21). These are mentioned as specimens.
this–that is, nation
was born there–Of each it is said, “This was born,” or is a native of Zion, spiritually.
5. The writer resumes–
This and that man–literally, “man and man,” or many (Ge 14:10; Ex 8:10, 14), or all (Isa 44:5; Ga 3:28).
the highest … her–God is her protector.
6. The same idea is set forth under the figure of a register made by God (compare Isa 4:3).
7. As in a great procession of those thus written up, or registered, seeking Zion (Isa 2:3; Jer 50:5), “the singers” and “players,” or pipers, shall precede.
all my springs–So each shall say, “All my sources of spiritual joy are in Thee” (Ps 46:4; 84:6).
Ps 88:1-18. Upon Mahalath–either an instrument, as a lute, to be used as an accompaniment (Leannoth, “for singing”) or, as others think, an enigmatic title (see on Ps 5:1, Ps 22:1, and Ps 45:1, titles), denoting the subject–that is, “sickness or disease, for humbling,” the idea of spiritual maladies being often represented by disease (compare Ps 6:5, 6; 22:14, 15, &c.). On the other terms, see on Ps 42:1 and Ps 32:1. Heman and Ethan (see on Ps 89:1, title) were David’s singers (1Ch 6:18, 33; 15:17), of the family of Kohath. If the persons alluded to (1Ki 4:31; 1Ch 2:6), they were probably adopted into the tribe of Judah. Though called a song, which usually implies joy (Ps 83:1), both the style and matter of the Psalm are very despondent; yet the appeals to God evince faith, and we may suppose that the word “song” might be extended to such compositions.
1, 2. Compare on the terms used, Ps 22:2; 31:2.
3. grave–literally, “hell” (Ps 16:10), death in wide sense.
4. go … pit–of destruction (Ps 28:1).
as a man–literally, “a stout man,” whose strength is utterly gone.
5. Free … dead–Cut off from God’s care, as are the slain, who, falling under His wrath, are left, no longer sustained by His hand.
6. Similar figures for distress in Ps 63:9; 69:3.
7. Compare Ps 38:2, on first, and Ps 42:7, on last clause.
8. Both cut off from sympathy and made hateful to friends (Ps 31:11).
9. Mine eye mourneth–literally, “decays,” or fails, denoting exhaustion (Ps 6:7; 31:9).
I … called–(Ps 86:5, 7).
stretched out–for help (Ps 44:20).
10. shall the dead–the remains of ghosts.
arise–literally, “rise up,” that is, as dead persons.
11, 12. amplify the foregoing, the whole purport (as Ps 6:5) being to contrast death and life as seasons for praising God.
13. prevent–meet–that is, he will diligently come before God for help (Ps 18:41).
14. On the terms (Ps 27:9; 74:1; 77:7).
15. from … youth up–all my life.
16, 17. the extremes of anguish and despair are depicted.
18. into darkness–Better omit “into”–“mine acquaintances (are) darkness,” the gloom of death, &c. (Job 17:13, 14).
Ps 89:1-52. Of Ethan–(See on Ps 88:1, title). This Psalm was composed during some season of great national distress, perhaps Absalom’s rebellion. It contrasts the promised prosperity and perpetuity of David’s throne (with reference to the great promise of 2Sa 7:12-17), with a time when God appeared to have forgotten His covenant. The picture thus drawn may typify the promises and the adversities of Christ’s kingdom, and the terms of confiding appeal to God provided appropriate prayers for the divine aid and promised blessing.
1. mercies–those promised (Isa 55:3; Ac 13:34), and–
faithfulness–that is, in fulfilling them.
2. I have said–expressed, as well as felt, my convictions (2Co 4:13).
3, 4. The object of this faith expressed in God’s words (2Sa 7:11-16).
with–or literally, “to”
my chosen–as the covenant is in the form of a promise.
6, 7. This is worthy of our belief, for His faithfulness (is praised) by the congregation of saints or holy ones; that is, angels (compare De 33:2; Da 8:13).
sons of the mighty–(compare Ps 29:1). So is He to be admired on earth.
8-14. To illustrate His power and faithfulness examples are cited from history. His control of the sea (the most mighty and unstable object in nature), and of Egypt (Ps 87:4), the first great foe of Israel (subjected to utter helplessness from pride and insolence), are specimens. At the same time, the whole frame of nature founded and sustained by Him, Tabor and Hermon for “east and west,” and “north and south,” together representing the whole world, declare the same truth as to His attributes.
12. rejoice in thy name–praise Thy perfections by their very existence.
15. His government of righteousness is served by “mercy” and “truth” as ministers (Ps 85:10-13).
know the joyful sound–understand and appreciate the spiritual blessings symbolized by the feasts to which the people were called by the trumpet (Le 25:9, &c.).
walk … countenance–live in His favor (Ps 4:6; 44:3).
16, 17. in–or, “by”
thy righteousness–Thy faithful just rule.
of their strength–They shall be adorned as well as protected.
our horn–exalt our power (Ps 75:10; Lu 1:69).
18. (Margin). Thus is introduced the promise to “our shield,” “our king,” David.
19-37. Then–when the covenant was established, of whose execution the exalted views of God now given furnish assurance.
thou … to thy holy one–or godly saint, object of favor (Ps 4:3). Nathan is meant (2Sa 7:17; 1Ch 17:3-15).
laid help–literally, “given help.” David was chosen and then exalted.
20. I have found–having sought and then selected him (1Sa 16:1-6).
21. will protect and sustain (Isa 41:10),
22-25. by restraining and conquering his enemies, and performing My gracious purpose of extending his dominion–
25. hand [and] right hand–power (Ps 17:7; 60:5).
sea, and … rivers–limits of his empire (Ps 72:8).
26, 27. first-born–one who is chief, most beloved or distinguished (Ex 4:22; Col 1:15). In God’s sight and purposes he was the first among all monarchs, and specially so in his typical relation to Christ.
28-37. This relation is perpetual with David’s descendants, as a whole typical in official position of his last greatest descendant. Hence though in personal relations any of them might be faithless and so punished, their typical relation shall continue. His oath confirms His promise, and the most enduring objects of earth and heaven illustrate its perpetual force (Ps 72:5, 7, 17).
35. Once–one thing (Ps 27:4).
by my holiness–as a holy God.
that I will not lie–literally, “if I lie”–part of the form of swearing (1Sa 24:6; 2Sa 3:35).
37. It shall … moon … heaven–literally, “As the moon, and the witness in the sky is sure, that is, the moon.”
38-52. present a striking contrast to these glowing promises, in mournful evidences of a loss of God’s favor.
cast off–and rejected (compare Ps 15:4; 43:2; 44:9).
39. An insult to the “crown,” as of divine origin, was a profanation.
40-45. The ruin is depicted under several figures–a vineyard whose broken “hedges,” and “strongholds,” whose ruins invite spoilers and invaders; a warrior, whose enemies are aided by God, and whose sword’s “edge”–literally, “rock” or “strength” (Jos 5:2) is useless; and a youth prematurely old.
45. days of his youth–or, “youthful vigor,” that is, of the royal line, or promised perpetual kingdom, under the figure of a man.
46. How long, &c.–(Compare Ps 13:1; 88:14; Jer 4:4).
47. These expostulations are excited in view of the identity of the prosperity of this kingdom with the welfare of all mankind (Ge 22:18; Ps 72:17; Isa 9:7; 11:1-10); for if such is the fate of this chosen royal line.
48. What man–literally, “strong man–shall live?” and, indeed, have not all men been made in vain, as to glorifying God?
49-51. The terms of expostulation are used in view of the actual appearance that God had forsaken His people and forgotten His promise, and the plea for aid is urged in view of the reproaches of His and His people’s enemies (compare Isa 37:17-35).
50. bear in my bosom–as feeling the affliction of the people (Ps 69:9).
footsteps–ways (Ps 56:6).
52. Blessed, &c.–denotes returning confidence (Ps 34:1-3).
Amen, and Amen–closes the third book of Psalms.
Ps 90:1-17. Contrasting man’s frailty with God’s eternity, the writer mourns over it as the punishment of sin, and prays for a return of the divine favor. A Prayer [mainly such] of Moses the man of God–(De 33:1; Jos 14:6); as such he wrote this (see on Ps 18:1, title, and Ps 36:1, title).
1. dwelling-place–home (compare Eze 11:16), as a refuge (De 33:27).
2. brought forth [and] formed–both express the idea of production by birth.
3. to destruction–literally, “even to dust” (Ge 3:19), which is partly quoted in the last clause.
4. Even were our days now a thousand years, as Adam’s, our life would be but a moment in God’s sight (2Pe 3:8).
a watch–or, third part of a night (compare Ex 14:24).
5, 6. Life is like grass, which, though changing under the influence of the night’s dew, and flourishing in the morning, is soon cut down and withereth (Ps 103:15; 1Pe 1:24).
7, 8. For–A reason, this is the infliction of God’s wrath.
troubled–literally, “confounded by terror” (Ps 2:5). Death is by sin (Ro 5:12). Though “secret,” the light of God’s countenance, as a candle, will bring sin to view (Pr 20:27; 1Co 4:5).
9. are passed–literally, “turn,” as to depart (Jer 6:4).
as a tale–literally, “a thought,” or, “a sigh” (Eze 2:10).
10. Moses’ life was an exception (De 34:7).
it is … cut off–or, “driven,” as is said of the quails in using the same word (Nu 11:31). In view of this certain and speedy end, life is full of sorrow.
11. The whole verse may be read as a question implying the negative, “No one knows what Thy anger can do, and what Thy wrath is, estimated by a true piety.”
12. This he prays we may know or understand, so as properly to number or appreciate the shortness of our days, that we may be wise.
13. (Compare Ps 13:2).
let it repent–a strong figure, as in Ex 32:12, imploring a change in His dealings.
15. As have been our sorrows, so let our joys be great and long.
16. thy work–or, providential acts.
thy glory–(Ps 8:5; 45:3), the honor accruing from Thy work of mercy to us.
17. let the beauty–or sum of His gracious acts, in their harmony, be illustrated in us, and favor our enterprise.
Ps 91:1-16. David is the most probable author; and the pestilence, mentioned in 2Sa 24:13-15, the most probable of any special occasion to which the Psalm may refer. The changes of person allowable in poetry are here frequently made.
1. dwelleth in the secret place–(Ps 27:5; 31:20) denotes nearness to God. Such as do so abide or lodge secure from assaults, and can well use the terms of trust in Ps 91:2.
3. snares … [and] … noisome pestilence–literally, “plagues of mischiefs” (Ps 5:9; 52:7), are expressive figures for various evils.
4. For the first figure compare De 32:11; Mt 23:37.
buckler–literally, “surrounding”–that is, a kind of shield covering all over.
5. terror–or, what causes it (Pr 20:2).
by night–then aggravated.
arrow–that is, of enemies.
7, 8. The security is more valuable, as being special, and, therefore, evidently of God; and while ten thousands of the wicked fall, the righteous are in such safety that they only see the calamity.
9-12. This exemption from evil is the result of trust in God, who employs angels as ministering spirits (Heb 1:14).
13. Even the fiercest, strongest, and most insidious animals may be trampled on with impunity.
14-16. God Himself speaks (compare Ps 46:10; 75:2, 3). All the terms to express safety and peace indicate the most undoubting confidence (compare Ps 18:2; 20:1; 22:5).
set his love–that of the most ardent kind.
16. show him–literally, “make him see” (Ps 50:23; Lu 2:30).
Ps 92:1-15. A Psalm-song–(see on Ps 30:1, title). The theme: God should be praised for His righteous judgments on the wicked and His care and defense of His people. Such a topic, at all times proper, is specially so for the reflections of the Sabbath day.
1. sing … name–celebrate Thy perfections.
2. in the morning, … every night–diligently and constantly (Ps 42:8).
loving kindness–literally, “mercy.”
faithfulness–in fulfilling promises (Ps 89:14).
3. In such a work all proper aid must be used.
with a … sound–or, on Higgaion (see on Ps 9:16), perhaps an instrument of that name, from its sound resembling the muttered sound of meditation, as expressed also by the word. This is joined with the harp.
4. thy work–that is, of providence (Ps 90:16, 17).
5. great … works–correspond to deep or vast thoughts (Ps 40:5; Ro 11:23).
6. A brutish man knoweth not–that is, God’s works, so the Psalmist describes himself (Ps 73:22) when amazed by the prosperity of the wicked, now understood and explained.
8. This he does in part, by contrasting their ruin with God’s exaltation and eternity.
most high–as occupying the highest place in heaven (Ps 7:7; 18:16).
9, 10. A further contrast with the wicked, in the lot of the righteous, safety and triumph.
10. horn … exalt–is to increase power (Ps 75:5).
anointed … fresh–or, “new”
oil–(Ps 23:5) a figure for refreshment (compare Lu 7:46). Such use of oil is still common in the East.
11. see … [and] … hear my desire–or, literally, “look on” my enemies and hear of the wicked (compare Ps 27:11; 54:7)–that is, I shall be gratified by their fall.
12-14. The vigorous growth, longevity, utility, fragrance, and beauty of these noble trees, set forth the life, character, and destiny of the pious;
15. and they thus declare God’s glory as their strong and righteous ruler.
Ps 93:1-5. This and the six following Psalms were applied by the Jews to the times of the Messiah. The theme is God’s supremacy in creation and providence.
1. God is described as a King entering on His reign, and, for robes of royalty, investing Himself with the glorious attributes of His nature. The result of His thus reigning is the durability of the world.
2-4. His underived power exceeds the most sublime exhibitions of the most powerful objects in nature (Ps 89:9).
5. While His power inspires dread, His revealed will should secure our confidence (compare Ps 19:7; 25:10), and thus fear and love combined, producing all holy emotions, should distinguish the worship we offer in His house, both earthly and heavenly.
Ps 94:1-23. The writer, appealing to God in view of the oppression of enemies, rebukes them for their wickedness and folly, and encourages himself, in the confidence that God will punish evildoers, and favor His people.
1, 2. God’s revenge is His judicial infliction of righteous punishment.
show thyself–(Compare Margin).
2. Lift up thyself–or, “Arise,” both figures representing God as heretofore indifferent (compare Ps 3:7; 22:16, 20).
3, 4. In an earnest expostulation he expresses his desire that the insolent triumph of the wicked may be ended.
5, 6. thy people [and] thine heritage–are synonymous, the people being often called God’s heritage. As justice to the weak is a sign of the best government, their oppression is a sign of the worst (De 10:18; Isa 10:2).
7. Their cruelty is only exceeded by their wicked and absurd presumption (Ps 10:11; 59:7).
8. ye brutish–(Compare Ps 73:22; 92:6).
9-11. The evidence of God’s providential government is found in His creative power and omniscience, which also assure us that He can punish the wicked in regard to all their vain purposes.
12, 13. On the other hand He favors though He chastens, the pious, and will teach and preserve them till the prosperous wicked are overthrown.
14, 15. This results from His abiding love (De 32:15), which is further evinced by His restoring order in His government, whose right administration will be approved by the good.
16. These questions imply that none other than God will help (Ps 60:9),
17-19. a fact fully confirmed by his past experience.
dwelt in silence–as in the grave (Ps 31:17).
19. my thoughts–or, anxious cares.
20. throne–power, rulers.
iniquity [and] mischief–both denote evils done to others, as Ps 94:21 explains.
22, 23. Yet he is safe in God’s care.
rock of … refuge–(Ps 9:9; 18:2).
23. bring … iniquity–(Compare Ps 5:10; 7:16).
in their … wickedness–while they are engaged in evil doing.
Ps 95:1-11. David (Heb 4:7) exhorts men to praise God for His greatness, and warns them, in God’s words, against neglecting His service.
1. The terms used to express the highest kind of joy.
rock–a firm basis, giving certainty of salvation (Ps 62:7).
2. come … presence–literally, “approach,” or, meet Him (Ps 17:13).
3. above … gods–esteemed such by men, though really nothing (Jer 5:7; 10:10-15).
4, 5. The terms used describe the world in its whole extent, subject to God.
6. come–or, “enter,” with solemn forms, as well as hearts.
7. This relation illustrates our entire dependence (compare Ps 23:3; 74:1). The last clause is united by Paul (Heb 3:7) to the following (compare Ps 81:8),
8-11. warning against neglect; and this is sustained by citing the melancholy fate of their rebellious ancestors, whose provoking insolence is described by quoting the language of God’s complaint (Nu 14:11) of their conduct at Meribah and Massah, names given (Ex 17:7) to commemorate their strife and contention with Him (Ps 78:18, 41).
10. err in their heart–Their wanderings in the desert were but types of their innate ignorance and perverseness.
that they should not–literally, “if they,” &c., part of the form of swearing (compare Nu 14:30; Ps 89:35).
Ps 96:1-13. The substance of this Psalm, and portions of the ninety-seventh, ninety-eighth, and hundredth, are found in 1Ch 16:7-36, which was used by David’s directions in the dedication of the tabernacle on Mount Zion. The dispensation of the Messiah was typified by that event, involving, as it did, a more permanent seat of worship, and the introduction of additional and more spiritual services. Hence the language of these Psalms may be regarded as having a higher import than that pertinent to the occasion on which it was thus publicly used.
1-3. All nations are invited to unite in this most joyful praise.
new song–literally, “fresh,” or new mercies (Ps 33:3; 40:3).
2. show forth–literally, “declare joyful tidings.”
salvation–illustrates His glory in its wonders of love and mercy.
4, 5. For He is not a local God, but of universal agency, while idols are nothing.
6. Honour and majesty–are His attendants, declared in His mighty works, while power and grace are specially seen in His spiritual relations to His people.
7-9. Give–or, “ascribe” (Ps 29:1) due honor to Him, by acts of appointed and solemn worship in His house.
8. offering–of thanks.
9. beauty of holiness–(Ps 29:2).
fear … him–(Ps 2:11).
10. Let all know that the government of the world is ordered in justice, and they shall enjoy firm and lasting peace (compare Ps 72:3, 7; Isa 9:6, 7).
11-13. For which reason the universe is invoked to unite in joy, and even inanimate nature (Ro 8:14-22) is poetically represented as capable of joining in the anthem of praise.
Ps 97:1-12. The writer celebrates the Lord’s dominion over nations and nature, describes its effect on foes and friends, and exhorts and encourages the latter.
1, 2. This dominion is a cause of joy, because, even though our minds are oppressed with terror before the throne of the King of kings (Ex 19:16; De 5:22), we know it is based on righteous principles and judgments which are according to truth.
3-5. The attending illustrations of God’s awful justice on enemies (Ps 83:14) are seen in the disclosures of His almighty power on the elements of nature (compare Ps 46:2; 77:17; Hab 3:6, &c.).
6. heavens–or, their inhabitants (Ps 50:6), as opposed to “nations” in the latter clause (compare Isa 40:5; 66:18).
7. Idolaters are utterly put to shame, for if angels must worship Him, how much more those who worshipped them.
all ye gods–literally, “all ye angels” (Ps 8:5; 138:1; Heb 1:6; 2:7). Paul quotes, not as a prophecy, but as language used in regard to the Lord Jehovah, who in the Old Testament theophania is the second person of the Godhead.
8, 9. The exaltation of Zion’s king is joy to the righteous and sorrow to the wicked.
daughters of Judah–(Compare Ps 48:11).
9. above all gods–(Ps 95:3).
10-12. Let gratitude for the blessings of providence and grace incite saints (Ps 4:3) to holy living. Spiritual blessings are in store, represented by light (Ps 27:1) and gladness.
11. sown–to spring forth abundantly for such, who alone can and well may rejoice in the holy government of their sovereign Lord (compare Ps 30:4; 32:11).
Ps 98:1-9. In view of the wonders of grace and righteousness displayed in God’s salvation, the whole creation is invited to unite in praise.
1. gotten … victory–literally, “made salvation,” enabled Him to save His people.
right hand, and … arm–denote power.
holy arm–or, “arm of holiness,” the power of His united moral perfections (Ps 22:3; 32:11).
2. salvation–the result of His righteousness (Ps 7:17; 31:1), and both are publicly displayed.
3. The union of mercy and truth (Ps 57:3; 85:10) secure the blessings of the promise (Ge 12:3; 18:18) to all the world (Isa 52:10).
4-6. make a loud noise–or, “burst forth” (Isa 14:7; 44:23).
before … King–hail Him as your sovereign; and while, with every aid to demonstrate zeal and joy, intelligent creatures are invited to praise, as in Ps 96:11-13, inanimate nature is also summoned to honor Him who triumphs and rules in righteousness and equity.
Ps 99:1-9. God’s government is especially exercised in and for His Church, which should praise Him for His gracious dealings.
1. sitteth … cherubim–(compare 1Sa 4:4; Ps 80:1).
tremble … be moved–inspired with fear by His judgments on the wicked.
2. great in Zion–where He dwells (Ps 9:11).
3. thy … name–perfections of justice, power, &c.
great and terrible name–producing dread (De 10:17), and to be praised by those over whom He is exalted (Ps 97:9).
it is holy–or, “He is holy” (Ps 99:5, 9; Isa 6:3).
4, 5. To His wise and righteous government all nations should render honor.
king’s … judgment–His power is combined with justice.
he is holy–(compare Ps 22:3).
6-8. The experience of these servants of God is cited for encouragement.
among … priests, among … upon the Lord [and] He spake … pillar–may be referred to all three (compare Ex 18:19; Le 8:15; De 5:5; 1Sa 9:13).
7. cloudy pillar–the medium of divine intercourse (Ex 33:9; Nu 12:5). Obedience was united with worship. God answered them as intercessors for the people, who, though forgiven, were yet chastened (Ex 32:10, 34).
Ps 100:1-5. As closing this series (see on Ps 93:1), this Psalm is a general call on all the earth to render exalted praise to God, the creator, preserver, and benefactor of men.
1, 2. With thankful praise, unite service as the subjects of a king (Ps 2:11, 12).
3. To the obligations of a creature and subject is added that of a beneficiary (Ps 95:7).
4. Join joyfully in His public worship. The terms are, of course, figurative (compare Ps 84:2; 92:13; Isa 66:23).
Enter–or, “Come with solemnity” (Ps 95:6).
5. The reason: God’s eternal mercy and truth (Ps 25:8; 89:7).
Ps 101:1-8. In this Psalm the profession of the principles of his domestic and political government testifies, as well as actions in accordance with it, David’s appreciation of God’s mercy to him, and His judgment on his enemies: and thus he sings or celebrates God’s dealings.
2. He avows his sincere purpose, by God’s aid, to act uprightly (Ge 17:1; Ps 18:30).
3. set … eyes–as an example to be approved and followed.
no wicked thing–literally, “word,” plan or purpose of Belial (Ps 41:8).
work of … aside–apostates.
not cleave to me–I will not be implicated in it (compare Ps 1:1-3).
4. A froward heart–or, “perverse heart” (Ps 18:26). Such a temper I will not indulge, nor even know evil or wickedness.
5, 6. The slanderers and haughty persons, so mischievous in society, I will disown; but–
6. Mine eyes … upon–or, I will select reliable and honest men for my servants.
7. not dwell–literally, “not sit,” or tarry, or be established.
8. will early–or, “diligently.”
city of the Lord–or, “holy place” (Ps 48:2), where wicked men shall not be tolerated.
Ps 102:1-28. A Prayer of the afflicted, &c.–The general terms seem to denote the propriety of regarding the Psalm as suitably expressive of the anxieties of any one of David’s descendants, piously concerned for the welfare of the Church. It was probably David’s composition, and, though specially suggested by some peculiar trials, descriptive of future times. Overwhelmed–(compare Ps 61:2). Poureth out–pouring out the soul–(Ps 62:8). Complaint–(Ps 55:2). The tone of complaint predominates, though in view of God’s promises and abiding faithfulness, it is sometimes exchanged for that of confidence and hope.
1-3. The terms used occur in Ps 4:1; 17:1, 6; 18:6; 31:2, 10; 37:20.
4. (Compare Ps 121:6).
so that I forget–or, “have forgotten,” that is, in my distress (Ps 107:18), and hence strength fails.
5. voice … groaning–effect put for cause, my agony emaciates me.
6, 7. The figures express extreme loneliness.
8. sworn against me–or literally, “by me,” wishing others as miserable as I am (Nu 5:21).
9. ashes–a figure of grief, my bread; weeping or tears, my drink (Ps 80:5).
10. lifted … cast me down–or, “cast me away” as stubble by a whirlwind (Isa 64:6).
11. shadow … declineth–soon to vanish in the darkness of night.
12. Contrast with man’s frailty (compare Ps 90:1-7).
thy remembrance–that by which Thou art remembered, Thy promise.
13, 14. Hence it is here adduced.
the set time, &c.–the time promised, the indication of which is the interest felt for Zion by the people of God.
15-17. God’s favor to the Church will affect her persecutors with fear.
16. When the Lord shall build–or better, “Because the Lord hath built,” &c., as a reason for the effect on others; for in thus acting and hearing the humble, He is most glorious.
18. people … created–(compare Ps 22:31), an organized body, as a Church.
19-22. For–or, “That,” as introducing the statement of God’s condescension. A summary of what shall be written.
to loose … appointed–or, “deliver” them (Ps 79:11).
21. To declare, &c.–or, that God’s name may be celebrated in the assemblies of His Church, gathered from all nations (Zec 8:20-23), and devoted to His service.
23-28. The writer, speaking for the Church, finds encouragement in the midst of all his distresses. God’s eternal existence is a pledge of faithfulness to His promises.
in the way–of providence.
weakened–literally, “afflicted,” and made fearful of a premature end, a figure of the apprehensions of the Church, lest God might not perform His promise, drawn from those of a person in view of the dangers of early death (compare Ps 89:47). Paul (Heb 1:10) quotes Ps 102:26-28 as addressed to Christ in His divine nature. The scope of the Psalm, as already seen, so far from opposing, favors this view, especially by the sentiments of Ps 102:12-15 (compare Isa 60:1). The association of the Messiah with a day of future glory to the Church was very intimate in the minds of Old Testament writers; and with correct views of His nature it is very consistent that He should be addressed as the Lord and Head of His Church, who would bring about that glorious future on which they ever dwelt with fond delightful anticipations.
Ps 103:1-22. A Psalm of joyous praise, in which the writer rises from a thankful acknowledgment of personal blessings to a lively celebration of God’s gracious attributes, as not only intrinsically worthy of praise, but as specially suited to man’s frailty. He concludes by invoking all creatures to unite in his song.
1. Bless, &c.–when God is the object, praise.
my soul–myself (Ps 3:3; 25:1), with allusion to the act, as one of intelligence.
all … within me–(De 6:5).
his holy name–(Ps 5:11), His complete moral perfections.
2. forget not all–not any, none of His benefits.
3. diseases–as penal inflictions (De 29:22; 2Ch 21:19).
4. redeemeth–Cost is implied.
destruction–literally, “pit of corruption” (Ps 16:10).
crowneth–or, “adorneth” (Ps 65:11).
tender mercies–compassions (compare Ps 25:6; 40:11).
5. By God’s provision, the saint retains a youthful vigor like the eagles (Ps 92:14; compare Isa 40:31).
6. Literally, “righteousness and judgments,” denoting various acts of God’s government.
7. ways–of providence, &c., as usual (Ps 25:4; 67:2).
acts–literally, “wonders” (Ps 7:11; 78:17).
8-10. God’s benevolence implies no merit. He shows it to sinners, who also are chastened for a time (Ex 34:6).
keep (anger)–in Le 19:18, bear a grudge (Jer 3:5, 12).
12. removed … from us–so as no longer to affect our relations to Him.
13. pitieth–literally, “has compassion on.”
14. he–“who formed,” Ps 94:9.
knoweth our frame–literally, “our form.”
we are dust–made of and tending to it (Ge 2:7).
15, 16. So short and frail is life that a breath may destroy it.
it is gone–literally, “it is not.”
know it no more–no more recognize him (Ps 90:6; Isa 40:6-8).
17, 18. For similar contrast compare Ps 90:2-6; 102:27, 28.
18. such … covenant–limits the general terms preceding.
righteousness–as usual (Ps 7:17; 31:1).
19. God’s firm and universal dominion is a pledge that He will keep His promises (Ps 11:4; 47:8).
20-22. do his commandments … word–or, literally, “so as to hearken,” &c., that is, their acts of obedience are prompt, so that they are ever ready to hear, and know, and follow implicitly His declared will (compare De 26:17; Lu 1:19).
21. ye his hosts–myriads, or armies, as corresponding to angels of great power [Ps 103:20], denoting multitudes also.
22. all his works–creatures of every sort, everywhere.
Ps 104:1-35. The Psalmist celebrates God’s glory in His works of creation and providence, teaching the dependence of all living creatures; and contrasting the happiness of those who praise Him with the awful end of the wicked.
1. God’s essential glory, and also that displayed by His mighty works, afford ground for praise.
2. light–is a figurative representation of the glory of the invisible God (Mt 17:2; 1Ti 6:16). Its use in this connection may refer to the first work of creation (Ge 1:3).
stretchest out the heavens–the visible heavens or sky which cover the earth as a curtain (Isa 40:12).
3. in the waters–or, it may be “with”; using this fluid for the beams, or frames, of His residence accords with the figure of clouds for chariots, and wind as a means of conveyance.
walketh–or, “moveth” (compare Ps 18:10, 11; Am 9:6).
4. This is quoted by Paul (Heb 1:7) to denote the subordinate position of angels; that is, they are only messengers as other and material agencies.
flaming fire–(Ps 105:32) being here so called.
5. The earth is firmly fixed by His power.
6-9. These verses rather describe the wonders of the flood than the creation (Ge 7:19, 20; 2Pe 3:5, 6). God’s method of arresting the flood and making its waters subside is poetically called a “rebuke” (Ps 76:6; Isa 50:2), and the process of the flood’s subsiding by undulations among the hills and valleys is vividly described.
10-13. Once destructive, these waters are subjected to the service of God’s creatures. In rain and dew from His chambers (compare Ps 104:3), and fountains and streams, they give drink to thirsting animals and fertilize the soil. Trees thus nourished supply homes to singing birds, and the earth teems with the productions of God’s wise agencies,
14, 15. so that men and beasts are abundantly provided with food.
for the service–literally, “for the culture,” &c., by which he secures the results.
oil … shine–literally, “makes his face to shine more than oil,” that is, so cheers and invigorates him, that outwardly he appears better than if anointed.
strengtheneth … heart–gives vigor to man (compare Jud 19:5).
16-19. God’s care of even wild animals and uncultivated parts of the earth.
20-23. He provides and adapts to man’s wants the appointed times and seasons.
24-26. From a view of the earth thus full of God’s blessings, the writer passes to the sea, which, in its immensity, and as a scene and means of man’s activity in commerce, and the home of countless multitudes of creatures, also displays divine power and beneficence. The mention of
26. leviathan–(Job 40:20) heightens the estimate of the sea’s greatness, and of His power who gives such a place for sport to one of His creatures.
27-30. The entire dependence of this immense family on God is set forth. With Him, to kill or make alive is equally easy. To hide His face is to withdraw favor (Ps 13:1). By His spirit, or breath, or mere word, He gives life. It is His constant providence which repairs the wastes of time and disease.
31-34. While God could equally glorify His power in destruction, that He does it in preservation is of His rich goodness and mercy, so that we may well spend our lives in grateful praise, honoring to Him, and delightful to pious hearts (Ps 147:1).
35. Those who refuse such a protector and withhold such a service mar the beauty of His works, and must perish from His presence.
Praise ye the Lord–The Psalm closes with an invocation of praise, the translation of a Hebrew phrase, which is used as an English word, “Hallelujah,” and may have served the purpose of a chorus, as often in our psalmody, or to give fuller expression to the writer’s emotions. It is peculiar to Psalms composed after the captivity, as “Selah” is to those of an earlier date.
Ps 105:1-45. After an exhortation to praise God, addressed especially to the chosen people, the writer presents the special reason for praise, in a summary of their history from the calling of Abraham to their settlement in Canaan, and reminds them that their obedience was the end of all God’s gracious dealings.
1. call … name–(Ps 79:6; Ro 10:13). Call on Him, according to His historically manifested glory. After the example of Abraham, who, as often as God acquired for Himself a name in guiding him, called in solemn worship upon the name of the Lord (Ge 12:8; 13:4).
among the people–or, “peoples” (Ps 18:49).
deeds–or, “wonders” (Ps 103:7).
3, 4. Seeking God’s favor is the only true mode of getting true happiness, and His strength [Ps 105:4] is the only true source of protection (compare Ps 32:11; 40:16).
Glory … name–boast in His perfections. The world glories in its horses and chariots against the Church of God lying in the dust; but our hope is in the name, that is, the power and love of God to His people, manifested in past deliverances.
5, 6. judgments … mouth–His judicial decisions for the good and against the wicked.
6. chosen–rather qualifies “children” than “Jacob,” as a plural.
7. Rather, “He, Jehovah, is our God.” His title, “Jehovah,” implies that He, the unchangeable, self-existing Being, makes things to be, that is, fulfils His promises, and therefore will not forsake His people. Though specially of His people, He is God over all.
8-11. The covenant was often ratified.
word–answering to “covenant” [Ps 105:9] in the parallel clause, namely, the word of promise, which, according to Ps 105:10, He set forth for an inviolable law.
commanded–or, “ordained” (Ps 68:28).
to a thousand generations–perpetually. A verbal allusion to De 7:9 (compare Ex 20:6).
9. Which covenant–or, “Word” (Ps 105:8).
10, 11. Alluding to God’s promise to Jacob (Ge 28:13). Out of the whole storehouse of the promises of God, only one is prominently brought forward, namely, that concerning the possession of Canaan [Ps 105:11]. Everything revolves around this. The wonders and judgments have all for their ultimate design the fulfilment of this promise.
12-15. few … in number–alluding to Jacob’s words (Ge 34:30), “I being few in number.”
yea, very few–literally, “as a few,” that is, like fewness itself (compare Isa 1:9).
strangers–sojourners in the land of their future inheritance, as in a strange country (Heb 11:9).
13. from one nation to another–and so from danger to danger; now in Egypt, now in the wilderness, and lastly in Canaan. Though a few strangers, wandering among various nations, God protected them.
14. reproved kings–Pharaoh of Egypt and Abimelech of Gerar (Ge 12:17; 20:3).
15. Touch not–referring to Ge 26:11, where Abimelech says of Isaac, “He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.”
mine anointed–as specially consecrated to Me (Ps 2:2). The patriarch was the prophet, priest, and king of his family.
my prophets–in a similar sense, compare Ge 20:7. The “anointed” are those vessels of God, consecrated to His service, “in whom (as Pharaoh said of Joseph, Ge 41:38) the Spirit of God is” [Hengstenberg].
16. God ordered the famine. God
called for a famine–as if it were a servant, ready to come at God’s bidding. Compare the centurion’s words, as to disease being God’s servant (Mt 8:8, 9).
upon the land–namely, Canaan (Ge 41:54).
staff of bread–what supports life (Le 26:26; Ps 104:15; Isa 3:1).
17-21. Joseph was sent of God (Ge 45:5).
18. hurt with fetters–(Ge 40:3).
was laid in iron–literally, “his soul” (see on Ps 16:10), or, “he came into iron,” or, he was bound to his grief (compare Ps 3:2; 11:1). The “soul” is put for the whole person, because the soul of the captive suffers still more than the body. Joseph is referred to as being an appropriate type of those “bound in affliction and iron” (Ps 107:10).
19. his word came–His prophecy (Ge 41:11-20) to the officers came to pass, or was fulfilled (Jud 13:12, 17; 1Sa 9:6, explain the form of speech).
the word of the Lord–or, “saying,” or “decree of the Lord.”
tried him–or, “proved him,” by the afflictions it appointed him to endure before his elevation (compare Ge 41:40-43).
22. To bind–Not literally bind; but exercise over them absolute control, as the parallel in the second clause shows; also Ge 41:40, 44, in which not literal fettering, but commanding obedience, is spoken of. It refers to Ps 105:18. The soul that was once bound itself now binds others, even princes. The same moral binding is assigned to the saints (Ps 149:8).
teach … senators wisdom–the ground of his exaltation by Pharaoh was his wisdom (Ge 41:39); namely, in state policy, and ordering well a kingdom.
23-25. Israel … and Jacob–that is, Jacob himself is meant, as Ps 105:24 speaks of “his people.” Still, he came with his whole house (Ge 46:6, 7).
land of Ham–or, Egypt (Ps 78:51).
25. turned their heart–God controls men’s free acts (compare 1Sa 10:9). “When Saul had turned his back to go from (God’s prophet) Samuel, God turned (Margin) him another heart” (see Ex 1:8, &c.). Whatever evil the wicked man plots against God’s people, God holds bound even his heart, so as not to lay a single plan except what God permits. Thus Isaiah (Isa 43:17) says it was God who brought forth the army of Pharaoh to pursue Israel to their own destruction (Ex 4:21; 7:3).
26. Moses … chosen–both what they were by divine choice (Ps 78:70).
27. signs–literally, “words of signs,” or rather, as “words” in Hebrew means “things,” “things of His signs,” that is, His marvellous tokens of power (Ps 145:5, Margin). Compare the same Hebraism (Ps 65:3, Margin).
28-36. The ninth plague is made prominent as peculiarly wonderful.
they rebelled not–Moses and Aaron promptly obeyed God (Heb 11:27); (compare Ex 7:1-11:10 and Ps 78:44-51, with which this summary substantially agrees). Or, rather, the “darkness” here is figurative (Jer 13:16), the literal plague of darkness (Ex 10:22, 23) being only alluded to as the symbol of God’s wrath which overhung Egypt as a dark cloud during all the plagues. Hence, it is placed first, out of the historical order. Thus, “They rebelled not (that is, no longer) against His word,” refers to the Egyptians. Whenever God sent a plague on them, they were ready to let Israel go, though refusing when the plague ceased.
his word–His command to let Israel go [Hengstenberg]. Of the ten plagues, only eight are mentioned, the fifth, the murrain of beasts, and the sixth, the boils, being omitted.
29-31. He deprived them of their favorite “fish,” and gave them instead, [Ps 105:30] out of the water, loathsome “frogs,” and (Ps 105:31) upon their land tormenting “flies” (the dog-fly, according to Maurer) and “lice” (gnats, according to Hengstenberg).
32. gave them–referring to Le 26:4, “I give you rain in due season.” His “gift” to Israel’s foes is one of a very different kind from that bestowed on His people.
hail for rain–instead of fertilizing showers, hail destructive to trees. This forms the transition to the vegetable kingdom. The locusts in Ps 105:34 similarly are destructive to plants.
33. their coasts–all their land (Ps 78:54).
34. caterpillars–literally, “the lickers up,” devouring insects; probably the hairy-winged locust.
36. the chief–literally, “the firstlings.” The ascending climax passes from the food of man to man himself. The language here is quoted from Ps 78:51.
37. with silver and gold–presented them by the Egyptians, as an acknowledgment due for their labors in their bondage (compare Ex 12:35).
one feeble person–or, “stumbler,” unfit for the line of march. Compare “harnessed,” that is, accoutred and marshalled as an army on march (Ex 13:18; Isa 5:27).
38. (Compare Ex 12:33; De 11:25).
39. covering–in sense of protection (compare Ex 13:21; Nu 10:34). In the burning sands of the desert the cloud protected the congregation from the heat of the sun; an emblem of God’s protecting favor of His people, as interpreted by Isaiah (Isa 4:5, 6; compare Nu 9:16).
42-45. The reasons for these dealings: (1) God’s faithfulness to His covenant, “His holy promise” of Canaan, is the fountain whence flowed so many acts of marvellous kindness to His people (compare Ps 105:8, 11). Ex 2:24 is the fundamental passage [Hengstenberg]. (2) That they might be obedient. The observance of God’s commands by Abraham was the object of the covenant with him (Ge 18:19), as it was also the object of the covenant with Israel, that they might observe God’s statutes.
remembered … and Abraham–or, “remembered His holy word (that is, covenant confirmed) with Abraham.”
44. inherited the labour–that is, the fruits of their labor; their corn and vineyards (Jos 21:43-45).
Ps 106:1-48. This Psalm gives a detailed confession of the sins of Israel in all periods of their history, with special reference to the terms of the covenant as intimated (Ps 105:45). It is introduced by praise to God for the wonders of His mercy, and concluded by a supplication for His favor to His afflicted people, and a doxology.
1. Praise, &c.–(See on Ps 104:35), begins and ends the Psalm, intimating the obligations of praise, however we sin and suffer 1Ch 16:34-36 is the source from which the beginning and end of this Psalm are derived.
2. His acts exceed our comprehension, as His praise our powers of expression (Ro 11:33). Their unutterable greatness is not to keep us back, but to urge us the more to try to praise Him as best we can (Ps 40:5; 71:15).
3. The blessing is limited to those whose principles and acts are right. How “blessed” Israel would be now, if he had “observed God’s statutes” (Ps 105:45).
4, 5. In view of the desert of sins to be confessed, the writer invokes God’s covenant mercy to himself and the Church, in whose welfare he rejoices. The speaker, me, I, is not the Psalmist himself, but the people, the present generation (compare Ps 106:6).
visit–(Compare Ps 8:4).
5. see the good–participate in it (Ps 37:13).
thy chosen–namely, Israel, God’s elect (Isa 43:20; 45:4). As God seems to have forgotten them, they pray that He would “remember” them with the favor which belongs to His own people, and which once they had enjoyed.
thine inheritance–(De 9:29; 32:9).
6. Compare 1Ki 8:47; Da 9:5, where the same three verbs occur in the same order and connection, the original of the two later passages being the first one, the prayer of Solomon in dedicating the temple.
sinned … fathers–like them, and so partaking of their guilt. The terms denote a rising gradation of sinning (compare Ps 1:1).
with our fathers–we and they together forming one mass of corruption.
7-12. Special confession. Their rebellion at the sea (Ex 14:11) was because they had not remembered nor understood God’s miracles on their behalf. That God saved them in their unbelief was of His mere mercy, and for His own glory.
the sea … the Red Sea–the very words in which Moses’ song celebrated the scene of Israel’s deliverance (Ex 15:4). Israel began to rebel against God at the very moment and scene of its deliverance by God!
8. for his name’s sake–(Eze 20:14).
9. rebuked–(Ps 104:7).
as through the wilderness–(Isa 63:11-14).
12. believed … his words–This is said not to praise the Israelites, but God, who constrained even so unbelieving a people momentarily to “believe” while in immediate view of His wonders, a faith which they immediately afterwards lost (Ps 106:13; Ex 14:31; 15:1).
13-15. The faith induced by God’s display of power in their behalf was short lived, and their new rebellion and temptation was visited by God with fresh punishment, inflicted by leaving them to the result of their own gratified appetites, and sending on them spiritual poverty (Nu 11:18).
They soon forgat–literally, “They hasted, they forgat” (compare Ex 32:8). “They have turned aside quickly (or, hastily) out of the way.” The haste of our desires is such that we can scarcely allow God one day. Unless He immediately answers our call, instantly then arise impatience, and at length despair.
his works–(De 11:3, 4; Da 9:14).
his counsel–They waited not for the development of God’s counsel, or plan for their deliverance, at His own time, and in His own way.
14. Literally, “lusted a lust” (quoted from Nu 11:4, Margin). Previously, there had been impatience as to necessaries of life; here it is lusting (Ps 78:18).
15. but sent leanness–rather, “and sent,” that is, and thus, even in doing so, the punishment was inflicted at the very time their request was granted. So Ps 78:30, “While their meat was yet in their mouths, the wrath of God came upon them.”
soul–the animal soul, which craves for food (Nu 11:6; Ps 107:18). This soul got its wish, and with it and in it its own punishment. The place was therefore called Kibroth-hattaavah, “the graves of lust” [Nu 11:34], because there they buried the people who had lusted. Animal desires when gratified mostly give only a hungry craving for more (Jer 2:13).
16-18. All the congregation took part with Dathan, Korah, &c., and their accomplices (Nu 16:41).
Aaron the saint–literally, “the holy one,” as consecrated priest; not a moral attribute, but one designating his office as holy to the Lord. The rebellion was followed by a double punishment: (1) of the non-Levitical rebels, the Reubenites, Dathan and Abiram, &c. (De 11:6; Nu 26:10); these were swallowed up by the earth.
17. covered–“closed upon them” (Nu 16:33). (2) Of the Levitical rebels, with Korah at their head (Nu 16:35; 26:10); these had sinned by fire, and were punished by fire, as Aaron’s (being high priest) sons had been (Le 10:2; Nu 16:1-35).
19-23. From indirect setting God at naught, they pass to direct.
made–though prohibited in Ex 20:4, 5 to make a likeness, even of the true God.
calf–called so in contempt. They would have made an ox or bull, but their idol turned out but a calf; an imitation of the divine symbols, the cherubim; or of the sacred bull of Egyptian idolatry. The idolatry was more sinful in view of their recent experience of God’s power in Egypt and His wonders at Sinai (Ex 32:1-6). Though intending to worship Jehovah under the symbol of the calf, yet as this was incompatible with His nature (De 4:15-17), they in reality gave up Him, and so were given up by Him. Instead of the Lord of heaven, they had as their glory the image of an ox that does nothing but eat grass.
23. he said–namely, to Moses (De 9:13). With God, saying is as certain as doing; but His purpose, while full of wrath against sin, takes into account the mediation of Him of whom Moses was the type (Ex 32:11-14; De 9:18, 19).
Moses his chosen–that is, to be His servant (compare Ps 105:26).
in the breach–as a warrior covers with his body the broken part of a wall or fortress besieged, a perilous place (Eze 13:5; 22:30).
to turn away–or, “prevent”
his wrath–(Nu 25:11; Ps 78:38).
24-27. The sin of refusing to invade Canaan, “the pleasant land” (Jer 3:19; Eze 20:6; Da 8:9), “the land of beauty,” was punished by the destruction of that generation (Nu 14:28), and the threat of dispersion (De 4:25; 28:32) afterwards made to their posterity, and fulfilled in the great calamities now bewailed, may have also been then added.
believed not his word–by which He promised He would give them the land; but rather the word of the faithless spies (compare Ps 78:22).
26. lifted up his hand–or, “swore,” the usual form of swearing (compare Nu 14:30, Margin).
27. To overthrow–literally, “To make them fall”; alluding to the words (Nu 14:39).
among … nations … lands–The “wilderness” was not more destructive to the fathers (Ps 106:26) than residence among the heathen (“nations”) shall be to the children. Le 26:33, 38 is here, before the Psalmist’s mind, the determination against the “seed” when rebellious, being not expressed in Nu 14:31-33, but implied in the determination against the fathers.
28-30. sacrifices of the dead–that is, of lifeless idols, contrasted with “the living God” (Jer 10:3-10; compare Ps 115:4-7; 1Co 12:2). On the words,
joined themselves to Baal-peor–see Nu 25:2, 3, 5.
Baal-peor–that is, the possessor of Peor, the mountain on which Chemosh, the idol of Moab, was worshipped, and at the foot of which Israel at the time lay encamped (Nu 23:28). The name never occurs except in connection with that locality and that circumstance.
29. provoked–excited grief and indignation (Ps 6:7; 78:58).
30. stood–as Aaron “stood between the living and the dead, and the plague was stayed” (Nu 16:48).
executed judgment–literally, “judged,” including sentence and act.
31. counted … righteousness–“a just and rewardable action.”
for–or, “unto,” to the procuring of righteousness, as in Ro 4:2; 10:4. Here it was a particular act, not faith, nor its object Christ; and what was procured was not justifying righteousness, or what was to be rewarded with eternal life; for no one act of man’s can be taken for complete obedience. But it was that which God approved and rewarded with a perpetual priesthood to him and his descendants (Nu 25:13; 1Ch 6:4, &c.).
32, 33. (Compare Nu 20:3-12; De 1:37; 3:26).
went ill with–literally, “was bad for”
Moses–His conduct, though under great provocation, was punished by exclusion from Canaan.
34-39. They not only failed to expel the heathen, as God
commanded–(Ex 23:32, 33), literally, “said (they should),” but conformed to their idolatries [Ps 106:36], and thus became spiritual adulterers (Ps 73:27).
37. unto devils–Septuagint, “demons” (compare 1Co 10:20), or “evil spirits.”
38. polluted with blood–literally, “blood,” or “murder” (Ps 5:6; 26:9).
40-43. Those nations first seduced and then oppressed them (compare Jud 1:34; 2:14; 3:30). Their apostasies ungratefully repaid God’s many mercies till He finally abandoned them to punishment (Le 26:39).
44-46. If, as is probable, this Psalm was written at the time of the captivity, the writer now intimates the tokens of God’s returning favor.
45. repented–(compare Ps 90:13).
46. made … pitied–(1Ki 8:50; Da 1:9). These tokens encourage the prayer and the promise of praise (Ps 30:4), which is well closed by a doxology.
Ps 107:1-43. Although the general theme of this Psalm may have been suggested by God’s special favor to the Israelites in their restoration from captivity, it must be regarded as an instructive celebration of God’s praise for His merciful providence to all men in their various emergencies. Of these several are given–captivity and bondage, wanderings by land and sea, and famine; some as evidences of God’s displeasure, and all the deliverances as evidence of His goodness and mercy to them who humbly seek Him.
1, 2. This call for thankful praise is the burden or chorus (compare Ps 107:8, 15, &c.).
2. redeemed of the Lord–(compare Isa 35:9, 10).
say–that is, that His mercy, &c.
hand of–or, “power of enemy.”
3. gathered–alluding to the dispersion of captives throughout the Babylonian empire.
from the south–literally, “the sea,” or, Red Sea (Ps 114:3), which was on the south.
4-7. A graphic picture is given of the sufferings of those who from distant lands returned to Jerusalem; or,
city of habitation–may mean the land of Palestine.
5. fainted–was overwhelmed (Ps 61:3; 77:3).
8, 9. To the chorus is added, as a reason for praise, an example of the extreme distress from which they had been delivered–extreme hunger, the severest privation of a journey in the desert.
10-16. Their sufferings were for their rebellion against (Ps 105:28) the words, or purposes, or promises, of God for their benefit. When humbled they cry to God, who delivers them from bondage, described as a dark dungeon with doors and bars of metal, in which they are bound in iron–that is, chains and fetters.
shadow of death–darkness with danger (Ps 23:4).
16. broken–literally, “shivered” (Isa 45:2).
17-22. Whether the same or not, this exigency illustrates that dispensation of God according to which sin brings its own punishment.
are afflicted–literally, “afflict themselves,” that is, bring on disease, denoted by loathing of food, and drawing
18. near unto–literally, “even to”
gates–or, “domains” (Ps 9:13).
20. sent his word–that is, put forth His power.
their destructions–that is, that which threatened them. To the chorus is added the mode of giving thanks, by a sacrifice and joyful singing (Ps 50:14).
23-32. Here are set forth the perils of seafaring, futility of man’s, and efficiency of God’s, help.
go … sea–alluding to the elevation of the land at the coast.
24. These see … deep–illustrated both by the storm He raises and the calm He makes with a word (Ps 33:9).
25. waves thereof–literally, “His waves” (God’s, Ps 42:7).
27. are … end–literally, “all their wisdom swallows up itself,” destroys itself by vain and contradictory devices, such as despair induces.
29-32. He maketh … calm–or, “to stand to stillness,” or “in quiet.” Instead of acts of temple-worship, those of the synagogue are here described, where the people with the
assembly–or session of elders, convened for reading, singing, prayer, and teaching.
33-41. He turneth rivers into a wilderness, &c.–God’s providence is illustriously displayed in His influence on two great elements of human prosperity, the earth’s productiveness and the powers of government. He punishes the wicked by destroying the sources of fertility, or, in mercy, gives fruitfulness to deserts, which become the homes of a busy and successful agricultural population. By a permitted misrule and tyranny, this scene of prosperity is changed to one of adversity. He rules rulers, setting up one and putting down another.
40. wander … wilderness–reduced to misery (Job 12:24).
42, 43. In this providential government, good men will rejoice, and the cavils of the wicked will be stopped (Job 5:16; Isa 52:15), and all who take right views will appreciate God’s unfailing mercy and unbounded love.
Ps 108:1-13. This Psalm is composed of Ps 108:1-5 of Ps 57:7-11; and Ps 108:6-12 of Ps 60:5-12. The varieties are verbal and trivial, except that in Ps 108:9, “over Philistia will I triumph,” differs from Ps 60:8, the interpretation of which it confirms. Its altogether triumphant tone may intimate that it was prepared by David, omitting the plaintive portions of the other Psalms, as commemorative of God’s favor in the victories of His people.
Ps 109:1-31. The writer complains of his virulent enemies, on whom he imprecates God’s righteous punishment, and to a prayer for a divine interposition in his behalf appends the expression of his confidence and a promise of his praises. This Psalm is remarkable for the number and severity of its imprecations. Its evident typical character (compare Ps 109:8) justifies the explanation of these already given, that as the language of David respecting his own enemies, or those of Christ, it has respect not to the penitent, but to the impenitent and implacable foes of good men, and of God and His cause, whose inevitable fate is thus indicated by inspired authority.
1. God of my praise–its object, thus recognizing God as a certain helper. Be not silent (compare Ps 17:13; 28:1).
2. For the mouth … opened–or, “They have opened a wicked mouth”
against me–literally, “with me,” that is, Their intercourse is lying, or, they slander me to my face (Mt 26:59).
3. (Compare Ps 35:7; 69:4).
4, 5. They return evil for good (compare Ps 27:12; Pr 17:13).
I give myself unto prayer–or literally, “I (am) prayer,” or, “as for me, prayer,” that is, it is my resource for comfort in distress.
6. over him–one of his enemies prominent in malignity (Ps 55:12).
let Satan stand–as an accuser, whose place was the right hand of the accused (Zec 3:1, 2).
7. The condemnation is aggravated when prayer for relief is treated as a sin.
8. The opposite blessing is long life (Ps 91:16; Pr 3:2). The last clause is quoted as to Judas by Peter (Ac 1:20).
office–literally, “charge,” Septuagint, and Peter, “oversight” [1Pe 5:2].
9, 10. Let his family share the punishment, his children be as wandering beggars to prowl in their desolate homes, a greedy and relentless creditor grasp his substance, his labor, or the fruit of it, enure to strangers and not his heirs, and his unprotected, fatherless children fall in want, so that his posterity shall utterly fail.
13. posterity–literally, “end,” as in Ps 37:38, or, what comes after; that is, reward, or success, or its expectation, of which posterity was to a Jew a prominent part.
14, 15. Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered, &c.–Added to the terrible overthrow following his own sin, let there be the imputation of his parents’ guilt, that it may now come before God, for His meting out its full consequences, in cutting off the memory of them (that is, the parents) from the earth (Ps 34:16).
16. Let God remember guilt, because he (the wicked) did not remember mercy.
poor and needy … broken in heart–that is, pious sufferer (Ps 34:18; 35:10; 40:17).
17-19. Let his loved sin, cursing, come upon him in punishment (Ps 35:8), thoroughly fill him as water and oil, permeating to every part of his system (compare Nu 5:22-27), and become a garment and a girdle for a perpetual dress.
20. Let this … reward–or, “wages,” pay for labor, the fruit of the enemy’s wickedness.
from the Lord–as His judicial act.
21, 22. do … for me–that is, kindness.
wounded–literally, “pierced” (Ps 69:16, 29).
23. like the shadow–(Compare Ps 102:11).
tossed up and down–or, “driven” (Ex 10:19).
24, 25. Taunts and reproaches aggravate his afflicted and feeble state (Ps 22:6, 7).
26, 27. Let my deliverance glorify Thee (compare Ps 59:13).
28-31. In confidence that God’s blessing would come on him, and confusion and shame on his enemies (Ps 73:13), he ceases to regard their curses, and anticipates a season of joyful and public thanksgiving; for God is near to protect (Ps 16:8; 34:6) the poor from all unrighteous judges who may condemn him.
Ps 110:1-7. The explicit application of this Psalm to our Saviour, by Him (Mt 22:42-45) and by the apostles (Ac 2:34; 1Co 15:25; Heb 1:13), and their frequent reference to its language and purport (Eph 1:20-22; Php 2:9-11; Heb 10:12, 13), leave no doubt of its purely prophetic character. Not only was there nothing in the position or character, personal or official, of David or any other descendant, to justify a reference to either, but utter severance from the royal office of all priestly functions (so clearly assigned the subject of this Psalm) positively forbids such a reference. The Psalm celebrates the exaltation of Christ to the throne of an eternal and increasing kingdom, and a perpetual priesthood (Zec 6:13), involving the subjugation of His enemies and the multiplication of His subjects, and rendered infallibly certain by the word and oath of Almighty God.
1. The Lord said–literally, “A saying of the Lord,” (compare Ps 36:1), a formula, used in prophetic or other solemn or express declarations.
my Lord–That the Jews understood this term to denote the Messiah their traditions show, and Christ’s mode of arguing on such an assumption (Mt 22:44) also proves.
Sit … at my right hand–not only a mark of honor (1Ki 2:19), but also implied participation of power (Ps 45:9; Mr 16:19; Eph 1:20).
Sit–as a king (Ps 29:10), though the position rather than posture is intimated (compare Ac 7:55, 56).
until I make, &c.–The dominion of Christ over His enemies, as commissioned by God, and entrusted with all power (Mt 28:18) for their subjugation, will assuredly be established (1Co 15:24-28). This is neither His government as God, nor that which, as the incarnate Saviour, He exercises over His people, of whom He will ever be Head.
thine enemies thy footstool–an expression taken from the custom of Eastern conquerors (compare Jos 10:24; Jud 1:7) to signify a complete subjection.
2. the rod of thy strength–the rod of correction (Isa 9:4; 10:15; Jer 48:12), by which Thy strength will be known. This is His Word of truth (Isa 2:3; 11:4), converting some and confounding others (compare 2Th 2:8).
out of Zion–or, the Church, in which God dwells by His Spirit, as once by a visible symbol in the tabernacle on Zion (compare Ps 2:6).
rule thou, &c.–over enemies now conquered.
in the midst–once set upon, as by ferocious beasts (Ps 22:16), now humbly, though reluctantly, confessed as Lord (Php 2:10, 11).
3. Thy people … willing–literally, “Thy people (are) free will offerings”; for such is the proper rendering of the word “willing,” which is a plural noun, and not an adjective (compare Ex 25:2; Ps 54:6), also a similar form (Jud 5:2-9).
in the day of thy power–Thy people freely offer themselves (Ro 12:1) in Thy service, enlisting under Thy banner.
in the beauties of holiness–either as in Ps 29:2, the loveliness of a spiritual worship, of which the temple service, in all its material splendors, was but a type; or more probably, the appearance of the worshippers, who, in this spiritual kingdom, are a nation of kings and priests (1Pe 2:9; Re 1:5), attending this Priest and King, clothed in those eminent graces which the beautiful vestments of the Aaronic priests (Le 16:4) typified. The last very obscure clause–
from the womb … youth–may, according to this view, be thus explained: The word “youth” denotes a period of life distinguished for strength and activity (compare Ec 11:9)–the “dew” is a constant emblem of whatever is refreshing and strengthening (Pr 19:12; Ho 14:5). The Messiah, then, as leading His people, is represented as continually in the vigor of youth, refreshed and strengthened by the early dew of God’s grace and Spirit. Thus the phrase corresponds as a member of a parallelism with “the day of thy power” in the first clause. “In the beauties of holiness” belongs to this latter clause, corresponding to “Thy people” in the first, and the colon after “morning” is omitted. Others prefer: Thy youth, or youthful vigor, or body, shall be constantly refreshed by successive accessions of people as dew from the early morning; and this accords with the New Testament idea that the Church is Christ’s body (compare Mic 5:7).
4. The perpetuity of the priesthood, here asserted on God’s oath, corresponds with that of the kingly office just explained.
after the order–(Heb 7:15) after the similitude of Melchisedek, is fully expounded by Paul, to denote not only perpetuity, appointment of God, and a royal priesthood, but also the absence of priestly descent and succession, and superiority to the Aaronic order.
5. at thy right hand–as Ps 109:31, upholding and aiding, which is not inconsistent with Ps 110:1, where the figure denotes participation of power, for here He is presented in another aspect, as a warrior going against enemies, and sustained by God.
strike through–smite or crush.
kings–not common men, but their rulers, and so all under them (Ps 2:2, 10).
6. The person is again changed. The Messiah’s conquests are described, though His work and God’s are the same. As after a battle, whose field is strewn with corpses, the conqueror ascends the seat of empire, so shall He “judge,” or “rule,” among many nations, and subdue
the head–or (as used collectively for “many”) “the heads,” over many lands.
wound–literally, “smite,” or “crush” (compare Ps 110:5).
7. As a conqueror, “faint, yet pursuing” [Jud 8:4], He shall be refreshed by the brook in the way, and pursue to completion His divine and glorious triumphs.
Ps 111:1-10. The Psalmist celebrates God’s gracious dealings with His people, of which a summary statement is given.
1. Praise ye the Lord–or, Hallelujah (Ps 104:35). This seems to serve as a title to those of the later Psalms, which, like this, set forth God’s gracious government and its blessed fruits. This praise claims the
whole heart–(Ps 86:12), and is rendered publicly.
upright–a title of the true Israel (Ps 32:11).
2. His works, that is, of providence and grace are
sought–or, carefully studied, by all desiring to know them.
3, 4. honourable and glorious–literally, “honor and majesty,” which illustrate His glorious perfections.
righteousness–(Ps 7:17; 31:1), which He has made memorable by wonders of love and mercy, in supplying the wants of His people according to covenant engagements.
6-8. His power was shown especially in giving them the promised land, and His faithfulness and justice thus displayed are, like His precepts, reliable and of permanent obligation.
9. The deliverance He provided accorded to His established covenant. Thus He manifested Himself in the sum of His perfections (Ps 20:1, 7; 22:3) worthy of reverence.
10. And hence love and fear of such a God is the chief element of true wisdom (compare Pr 1:7; 9:10).
Ps 112:1-10. This Psalm may be regarded as an exposition of Ps 111:10, presenting the happiness of those who fear and obey God, and contrasting the fate of the ungodly.
1. True fear produces obedience and this happiness.
2, 3. Temporal blessings follow the service of God, exceptions occurring only as they are seen by God to be inconsistent with those spiritual blessings which are better.
4. light–figurative for relief (Ps 27:1; 97:11).
the upright–are like God (Lu 6:36; Ps 111:4).
5-9. Generosity, sound judgment in business, and confidence in God, form a character which preserves from fear of evil and ensures success against enemies. While a man thus truly pious is liberal, he increases in substance.
6. not be moved–(compare Ps 13:4; 15:5).
8. heart is established–or, firm in right principles.
see his desire–(Ps 50:23; 54:7).
10. Disappointed in their malevolent wishes by the prosperity of the pious, the wicked are punished by the working of their evil passions, and come to naught.
Ps 113:1-9. God’s majesty contrasted with His condescension and gracious dealings towards the humble furnish matter and a call for praise. The Jews, it is said, used this and Psalms 114-118 on their great festivals, and called them the Greater Hallel, or Hymn.
1-3. Earnestness and zeal are denoted by the emphatic repetitions.
servants of the Lord–or, all the people of God.
name of the Lord–perfections (Ps 5:11; 111:9).
3. From the rising, &c.–all the world.
4-6. God’s exaltation enhances His condescension;
7, 8. which condescension is illustrated as often in raising the worthy poor and needy to honor (compare 1Sa 2:8; Ps 44:25).
9. On this special case, compare 1Sa 2:21. Barrenness was regarded as a disgrace, and is a type of a deserted Church (Isa 54:1).
the barren woman … house–literally, “the barren of the house,” so that the supplied words may be omitted.
Ps 114:1-8. The writer briefly and beautifully celebrates God’s former care of His people, to whose benefit nature was miraculously made to contribute.
1-4. of strange language–(compare Ps 81:5).
4. skipped … rams–(Ps 29:6), describes the waving of mountain forests, poetically representing the motion of the mountains. The poetical description of the effect of God’s presence on the sea and Jordan alludes to the history (Ex 14:21; Jos 3:14-17). Judah is put as a parallel to Israel, because of the destined, as well as real, prominence of that tribe.
5-8. The questions place the implied answers in a more striking form.
7. at the presence of–literally, “from before,” as if affrighted by the wonderful display of God’s power. Well may such a God be trusted, and great should be His praise.
Ps 115:1-18. The Psalmist prays that God would vindicate His glory, which is contrasted with the vanity of idols, while the folly of their worshippers is contrasted with the trust of God’s people, who are encouraged to its exercise and to unite in the praise which it occasions.
1-3. The vindication of God’s mercy and faithfulness (Ps 25:10; 36:6) is the “glory” of His “name,” which is desired to be illustrated in the deliverance of His people, as the implied mode of its manifestation. In view of the taunts of the heathen, faith in His dominion as enthroned in the heaven (Ps 2:4; 11:4) is avowed.
2. Where is now, &c.–“now” is “not a particle of time, but of entreaty,” as in our forms of speech, “Come now,” “See now,” &c.
4-7. (Compare Isa 40:18-20; 44:9-20).
7. speak … throat–literally, “mutter,” not even utter articulate sounds.
8. every one that trusteth–they who trust, whether makers or not.
9-13. The repetitions imply earnestness.
14. Opposed to the decrease pending and during the captivity.
15-17. They were not only God’s peculiar people, but as living inhabitants of earth, assigned the work of His praise as monuments of divine power, wisdom, and goodness.
18. Hence let us fulfil the purpose of our creation, and evermore show forth His praise.
Ps 116:1-19. The writer celebrates the deliverance from extreme perils by which he was favored, and pledges grateful and pious public acknowledgments.
1, 2. A truly grateful love will be evinced by acts of worship, which calling on God expresses (Ps 116:13; Ps 55:16; 86:7; compare Ps 17:6; 31:2).
3, 4. For similar figures for distress see Ps 18:4, 5.
gat hold upon me–Another sense (“found”) of the same word follows, as we speak of disease finding us, and of our finding or catching disease.
5-8. The relief which he asked is the result not of his merit, but of God’s known pity and tenderness, which is acknowledged in assuring himself (his “soul,” Ps 11:1; 16:10) of rest and peace. All calamities [Ps 116:8] are represented by death, tears, and falling of the feet (Ps 56:13).
9. walk before the Lord–act, or live under His favor and guidance (Ge 17:1; Ps 61:7).
land of the living–(Ps 27:13).
10, 11. Confidence in God opposed to distrust of men, as not reliable (Ps 68:8, 9). He speaks from an experience of the result of his faith.
11. in my haste–literally, “terror,” or “agitation,” produced by his affliction (compare Ps 31:22).
12-14. These are modes of expressing acts of worship (compare Ps 116:4; Ps 50:14; Jon 2:9).
13. the cup of salvation–the drink offering which was part of the thank offering (Nu 15:3-5).
14. now–(compare Ps 115:2). “Oh, that (I may do it)” in the presence, &c.
15, 16. By the plea of being a homeborn servant, he intimates his claim on God’s covenant love to His people.
17-19. An ampler declaration of his purpose, designating the place, the Lord’s house, or earthly residence in Jerusalem.
Ps 117:1, 2. This may be regarded as a doxology, suitable to be appended to any Psalm of similar character, and prophetical of the prevalence of God’s grace in the world, in which aspect Paul quotes it (Ro 15:11; compare Ps 47:2; 66:8).
2. is great toward us–literally, “prevailed over” or “protected us.”
Ps 118:1-29. After invoking others to unite in praise, the writer celebrates God’s protecting and delivering care towards him, and then represents himself and the people of God as entering the sanctuary and uniting in solemn praise, with prayer for a continued blessing. Whether composed by David on his accession to power, or by some later writer in memory of the restoration from Babylon, its tone is joyful and trusting, and, in describing the fortune and destiny of the Jewish Church and its visible head, it is typically prophetical of the Christian Church and her greater and invisible Head.
1-4. The trine repetitions are emphatic (compare Ps 118:10-12, 15, 16; 115:12, 13).
Let … say–Oh! that Israel may say.
now–as in Ps 115:2; so in Ps 118:3, 4. After “now say” supply “give thanks.”
that his mercy–or, “for His mercy.”
5. distress–literally, “straits,” to which “large place” corresponds, as in Ps 4:1; 31:8.
6, 7. Men are helpless to hurt him, if God be with him (Ps 56:9), and, if enemies, they will be vanquished (Ps 54:7).
8, 9. Even the most powerful men are less to be trusted than God.
10-12. Though as numerous and irritating as bees [Ps 118:12], by God’s help his enemies would be destroyed.
12. as the fire of thorns–suddenly.
in the name, &c.–by the power (Ps 20:5; 124:8).
13-16. The enemy is triumphantly addressed as if present.
15. rejoicing and salvation–the latter as cause of the former.
16. right hand … is exalted–His power greatly exerted.
17, 18. He would live, because confident his life would be for God’s glory.
19-21. Whether an actual or figurative entrance into God’s house be meant, the purpose of solemn praise is intimated, in which only the righteous would or could engage.
22, 23. These words are applied by Christ (Mt 21:42) to Himself, as the foundation of the Church (compare Ac 4:11; Eph 2:20; 1Pe 2:4, 7). It may here denote God’s wondrous exaltation to power and influence of him whom the rulers of the nation despised. Whether (see on Ps 118:1) David or Zerubbabel (compare Hag 2:2; Zec 4:7-10) be primarily meant, there is here typically represented God’s more wonderful doings in exalting Christ, crucified as an impostor, to be the Prince and Saviour and Head of His Church.
24. This is the day–or period distinguished by God’s favor of all others.
25. Save now–Hebrew, “Hosanna” (compare Ps 115:2, &c., as to now) a form of prayer (Ps 20:9), since, in our use, of praise.
26. he that cometh … Lord–As above intimated, this may be applied to the visible head of the Jewish Church entering the sanctuary, as leading the procession; typically it belongs to Him of whom the phrase became an epithet (Mal 3:1; Mt 21:9).
27-29. showed us light–or favor (Ps 27:1; 97:11). With the sacrificial victim brought bound to the altar is united the more spiritual offering of praise (Ps 50:14, 23), expressed in the terms with which the Psalm opened.
Ps 119:1-176. This celebrated Psalm has several peculiarities. It is divided into twenty-two parts or stanzas, denoted by the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Each stanza contains eight verses, and the first letter of each verse is that which gives name to the stanza. Its contents are mainly praises of God’s Word, exhortations to its perusal, and reverence for it, prayers for its proper influence, and complaints of the wicked for despising it. There are but two verses (Ps 119:122, 132) which do not contain some term or description of God’s Word. These terms are of various derivations, but here used, for the most part, synonymously, though the use of a variety of terms seems designed, in order to express better the several aspects in which our relations to the revealed word of God are presented. The Psalm does not appear to have any relation to any special occasion or interest of the Jewish Church or nation, but was evidently “intended as a manual of pious thoughts, especially for instructing the young, and its peculiar artificial structure was probably adopted to aid the memory in retaining the language.”
ALEPH. (Ps 119:1-8).
1. undefiled–literally, “complete,” perfect, or sincere (compare Ps 37:37).
the way–course of life.
in the law–according to it (compare Lu 1:6).
law–from a word meaning “to teach,” is a term of rather general purport, denoting the instruction of God’s Word.
2. testimonies–The word of God is so called, because in it He testifies for truth and against sin.
seek him–that is, a knowledge of Him, with desire for conformity to His will.
3. his ways–the course He reveals as right.
4-6. precepts–are those directions which relate to special conduct, from a word meaning “to inspect.”
statutes–or ordinances, positive laws of permanent nature. Both words originally denote rather positive than moral laws, such as derive force from the divine appointment, whether their nature or the reasons for them are apprehended by us or not.
commandments–or institutions. The term is comprehensive, but rather denotes fundamental directions for conduct, both enjoining and forbidding.
have respect unto–or regard carefully as to their whole purport.
7. judgments–rules of conduct formed by God’s judicial decisions; hence the wide sense of the word in the Psalms, so that it includes decisions of approval as well as condemnation.
8. Recognizes the need of divine grace.
BETH. (Ps 119:9-16).
9. The whole verse may be read as a question; for,
by taking heed–is better, “for” taking heed, that is, so as to do it. The answer is implied, and inferable from Ps 119:5, 10, 18, &c., that is, by God’s grace.
10-16. We must carefully treasure up the word of God, declare it to others, meditate on it, and heartily delight in it; and then by His grace we shall act according to it.
GIMEL. (Ps 119:17-24).
17-20. Life is desirable in order to serve God; that we may do so aright, we should seek to have our eyes opened to behold His truth, and earnestly desire fully to understand it.
21-24. God will rebuke those who despise His word and deliver His servants from their reproach, giving them boldness in and by His truth, even before the greatest men.
DALETH. (Ps 119:25-32).
25-27. Submitting ourselves in depression to God, He will revive us by His promises, and lead us to declare His mercy to others.
28-32. In order to adhere to His word, we must seek deliverance from temptations to sin as well as from despondency.
my heart–with gracious affections.
HE. (Ps 119:33-40).
33-38. To encourage us in prayer for divine aid in adhering to His truth, we are permitted to believe that by His help we shall succeed.
the way of thy statutes–that is, the way or manner of life prescribed by them. The help we hope to obtain by prayer is to be the basis on which our resolutions should rest.
37. Turn away mine eyes–literally, “Make my eyes to pass, not noticing evil.”
vanity–literally, “falsehood;” all other objects of trust than God; idols, human power, &c. (Ps 31:6; 40:4; 60:11; 62:9).
quicken … in thy way–make me with living energy to pursue the way marked out by Thee. Revive me from the death of spiritual helplessness (Ps 119:17, 25, 40, 50; 116:3).
38. who is devoted to thy fear–or better, “which (that is, Thy word) is for Thy fear,” for producing it. “Which is to those who fear Thee.” God’s word of promise belongs peculiarly to such (compare Ge 18:19; 1Ki 2:4; 8:25) [Hengstenberg].
39, 40. Our hope of freedom from the reproach of inconsistency is in God’s power, quickening us to live according to His Word, which He leads us to love.
for thy judgments are good–The time must therefore be at hand when Thy justice will turn the “reproach” from Thy Church upon the world (Isa 25:8; 66:5; Zep 2:8-10).
VAU. (Ps 119:41-48).
41-44. The sentiment more fully carried out. God’s mercies and salvation, as revealed in His Word, provide hope of forgiveness for the past and security in a righteous course for the future.
42. The possession of God’s gift of “salvation” (Ps 119:41) will be the Psalmist’s answer to the foe’s “reproach,” that his hope was a fallacious one.
45-48. To freedom from reproach, when imbued with God’s truth, there is added “great boldness in the faith” [1Ti 3:13], accompanied with increasing delight in the holy law itself, which becomes an element of happiness.
48. My hands … lift up unto … commandments–that is, I will prayerfully (Ps 28:2) direct my heart to keep Thy commandments.
ZAIN. (Ps 119:49-56).
49-51. Resting on the promises consoles under affliction and the tauntings of the insolent.
upon which–rather, “Remember Thy word unto Thy servant, because,” &c. So the Hebrew requires [Hengstenberg].
50. for–rather, “This is my comfort … that,” &c. [Maurer].
hath quickened–What the Word has already done is to faith a pledge of what it shall yet do.
52-56. The pious take comfort, when harassed and distressed by wickedness of men who forsake God’s law, in remembering that the great principles of God’s truth will still abide; and also God’s
judgments of old–that is, His past interpositions in behalf of His people are a pledge that He will again interpose to deliver them; and they become the theme of constant and delightful meditation. The more we keep the more we love the law of God.
53. Horror–rather, “vehement wrath” [Hengstenberg].
54. songs–As the exile sings songs of his home (Ps 137:3), so the child of God, “a stranger on earth,” sings the songs of heaven, his true home (Ps 39:12). In ancient times, laws were put in verse, to imprint them the more on the memory of the people. So God’s laws are the believer’s songs.
house of my pilgrimage–present life (Ge 17:8; 47:9; Heb 11:13).
56. Rather, “This is peculiarly mine (literally, to me), that I keep Thy precepts” [Hengstenberg and Maurer].
CHETH. (Ps 119:57-64).
57-60. Sincere desires for God’s favor, penitence, and activity in a new obedience, truly evince the sincerity of those who profess to find God a portion (Nu 18:20; Ps 16:5; La 3:24).
58. favour–Hebrew, “face” (Ps 45:12).
59. So the prodigal son, when reduced to straits of misery (Lu 15:17, 18).
61, 62. This the more, if opposition of enemies, or love of ease is overcome in thus honoring God’s law.
have robbed me–better, surrounded me, either as forcible constraints like fetters, or as the cords of their nets. Hengstenberg translates, “snares.”
62. At midnight–Hengstenberg supposes a reference to the time when the Lord went forth to slay the Egyptian first-born (Ex 11:4; 12:29; compare Job 34:20). But it rather refers to the Psalmist’s own praises and prayers in the night time. Compare Paul and Silas (Ac 16:25; compare Ps 63:6).
63. The communion of the saints. Delight in their company is an evidence of belonging to them (Ps 16:3; Am 3:3; Mal 3:16).
64. While opposed by the wicked, and opposing them, the pious delight in those who fear God, but, after all, rely for favor and guidance not on merit, but mercy.
TETH. (Ps 119:65-72).
65-67. The reliance on promises (Ps 119:49) is strengthened by experience of past dealings according with promises, and a prayer for guidance, encouraged by sanctified affliction.
66. Teach me good judgment and knowledge–namely, in Thy word (so as to fathom its deep spirituality); for the corresponding expression (Ps 119:12, 64, 68), is, “Teach me Thy statutes.”
67. Referred by Hengstenberg to the chastening effect produced on the Jews’ minds by the captivity (Jer 31:18, 19). The truth is a general one (Job 5:6; Joh 15:2; Heb 12:11).
68. Compare as to the Lord Jesus (Ac 10:38).
69, 70. The crafty malice of the wicked, in slandering him, so far from turning him away, but binds him closer to God’s Word, which they are too stupid in sin to appreciate. Hengstenberg refers the “lie” to such slanders against the Jews during the captivity, as that in Ezr 4:1-6, of sedition.
70. fat as grease–spiritually insensible (Ps 17:10; 73:7; Isa 6:10).
71, 72. So also affliction of any kind acts as a wholesome discipline in leading the pious more highly to value the truth and promises of God.
JOD. (Ps 119:73-80).
73. As God made, so He can best control, us. So as to Israel, he owed to God his whole internal and external existence (De 32:6).
74. So when He has led us to rely on His truth, He will “make us to the praise of His grace” by others. “Those who fear Thee will be glad at my prosperity, as they consider my cause their cause” (Ps 34:2; 142:7).
75-78. in faithfulness–that is, without in the least violating Thy faithfulness; because my sins deserved and needed fatherly chastisement. Enduring chastisement with a filial temper (Heb 12:6-11), God’s promises of mercy (Ro 8:28) will be fulfilled, and He will give comfort in sorrow (La 3:22; 2Co 1:3, 4).
77. Let thy tender mercies come unto me–As I am not able to come unto them. But the wicked will be confounded.
78. but I … meditate in thy precepts–and so shall not be “ashamed,” that is, put to shame (Ps 119:80).
79, 80. Those who may have thought his afflictions an evidence of God’s rejection will then be led to return to Him; as the friends of Job did on his restoration, having been previously led through his afflictions to doubt the reality of his religion.
80. Let my … be sound–that is, perfect, sincere.
ashamed–disappointed in my hope of salvation.
CAPH. (Ps 119:81-88).
81-83. In sorrow the pious heart yearns for the comforts of God’s promises (Ps 73:26; 84:2).
82. Mine eyes fail for thy word–that is, with yearning desire for Thy word. When the eyes fail, yet faith must not.
83. bottle in the smoke–as a skin bottle dried and shriveled up in smoke, so is he withered by sorrow. Wine bottles of skin used to be hung up in smoke to dry them, before the wine was put in them [Maurer].
84-87. The shortness of my life requires that the relief afforded to me from mine enemies should be speedy.
85. pits–plots for my destruction.
which–rather, “who,” that is, “the proud”; “pits” is not the antecedent.
87. consumed me upon earth–Hengstenberg translates, “in the land”; understanding “me” of the nation Israel, of which but a small remnant was left. But English Version is simpler; either, “They have consumed me so as to leave almost nothing of me on earth”; or, “They have almost destroyed and prostrated me on the earth” [Maurer].
I forsook not–Whatever else I am forsaken of, I forsake not Thy precepts, and so am not mistaken of Thee (Ps 39:5, 13; 2Co 4:8, 9), and the injuries and insults of the wicked increase the need for it. But, however they act regardless of God’s law, the pious, adhering to its teaching, receive quickening grace, and are sustained steadfast.
LAMED. (Ps 119:89-96).
89-91. In all changes God’s Word remains firm (1Pe 1:25). Like the heavens, it continually attests God’s unfailing power and unchanging care (Ps 89:2).
is settled in–that is, stands as firmly as the heaven in which it dwells, and whence it emanated.
90. thou hast established the earth, and it abideth–(Ps 33:9).
91. They–the heaven (Ps 119:89) and the earth (Ps 119:90). Hengstenberg translates, “They stand for thy judgment,” that is, ready, as obedient servants, to execute them. The usage of this Psalm favors this view. But see Jer 33:25.
92-94. Hence the pious are encouraged and inclined to seek a knowledge of it, and persevere amidst the efforts of those planning and waiting to destroy them.
my delights–plural, not merely delight, but equal to all other delights.
93. The bounds of created perfection may be defined, but those of God’s law in its nature, application, and influence, are infinite. There is no human thing so perfect but that something is wanting to it; its limits are narrow, whereas God’s law is of infinite breadth, reaching to all cases, perfectly meeting what each requires, and to all times (Ps 19:3, 6, 7-11; Ec 3:11). It cannot be cramped within any definitions of man’s dogmatical systems. Man never outgrows the Word. It does not shock the ignorant man with declared anticipations of discoveries which he had not yet made; while in it the man of science finds his newest discoveries by tacit anticipations provided for.
MEM. (Ps 119:97-104).
97. This characteristic love for God’s law (compare Ps 1:2) ensures increase.
98-100. of knowledge, both of the matter of all useful, moral truth, and an experience of its application.
wiser than mine enemies–with all their carnal cunning (De 4:6, 8).
they are ever with me–The Hebrew is, rather singular, “it is ever with me”; the commandments forming ONE complete whole, Thy law.
99. understanding–is practical skill (Ps 2:10; 32:8).
100. more than the ancients–Antiquity is no help against stupidity, where it does not accord with God’s word [Luther] (Job 32:7-9). The Bible is the key of all knowledge, the history of the world, past, present, and to come (Ps 111:10). He who does the will of God shall know of the doctrine (Joh 7:17).
101-104. Avoidance of sinful courses is both the effect and means of increasing in divine knowledge (compare Ps 19:10).
NUN. (Ps 119:105-112).
105. Not only does the Word of God inform us of His will, but, as a light on a path in darkness, it shows us how to follow the right and avoid the wrong way. The lamp of the Word is not the sun. He would blind our eyes in our present fallen state; but we may bless God for the light shining as in a dark place, to guide us until the Sun of Righteousness shall come, and we shall be made capable of seeing Him (2Pe 1:19; Re 22:4). The lamp is fed with the oil of the Spirit. The allusion is to the lamps and torches carried at night before an Eastern caravan.
106-108. Such was the national covenant at Sinai and in the fields of Moab.
108. freewill offerings–the spontaneous expressions of his gratitude, as contrasted with the appointed “offerings” of the temple (Ho 14:2; Heb 13:15). He determines to pursue this way, relying on God’s quickening power (Ps 119:50) in affliction, and a gracious acceptance of his “spiritual sacrifices of prayer and praise” (Ps 50:5, 14, 23).
109, 110. In the midst of deadly perils (the phrase is drawn from the fact that what we carry in our hands may easily slip from them, Jud 12:3; 1Sa 28:21; Job 13:14; compare 1Sa 19:5), and exposed to crafty enemies, his safety and guidance is in the truth and promises of God.
111, 112. These he joyfully takes as his perpetual heritage, to perform the duties and receive the comforts they teach, evermore.
SAMECH. (Ps 119:113-120).
113. vain thoughts–better, “unstable persons,” literally, “divided men,” those of a divided, doubting mind (Jas 1:8); “a double-minded man” [Hengstenberg], skeptics, or, skeptical notions as opposed to the certainty of God’s word.
114. hiding-place–(Compare Ps 27:5).
shield–(Ps 3:3; 7:10).
hope in thy word–confidently rest on its teachings and promises.
115-117. Hence he fears not wicked men, nor dreads disappointment, sustained by God in making His law the rule of life.
Depart from me–Ye can do nothing with me; for, &c. (Ps 6:8).
118-120. But the disobedient and rebellious will be visited by God’s wrath, which impresses the pious with wholesome fear and awe.
their deceit is falsehood–that is, all their cunning deceit, wherewith they seek to entrap the godly, is in vain.
120. The “judgments” are those on the wicked (Ps 119:119). Joyful hope goes hand in hand with fear (Hab 3:16-18).
AIN. (Ps 119:121-128).
121-126. On the grounds of his integrity, desire for God’s word, and covenant relation to Him, the servant of God may plead for His protecting care against the wicked, gracious guidance to the knowledge of truth, and His effective vindication of the righteous and their cause, which is also His own.
122. Be surety–Stand for me against my oppressors (Ge 43:9; Isa 38:14).
127, 128. Therefore–that is, In view of these benefits, or, Because of the glory of Thy law, so much praised in the previous parts of the Psalm.
I love … [and] Therefore (repeated)–All its precepts, on all subjects, are estimable for their purity, and lead one imbued with their spirit to hate all evil (Ps 19:10). The Word of God admits of no eclecticism; its least title is perfect (Ps 12:6; Mt 5:17-19).
PE. (Ps 119:129-136).
129. wonderful–literally, “wonders,” that is, of moral excellence.
130. The entrance–literally, “opening”; God’s words, as an open door, let in light, or knowledge. Rather, as Hengstenberg explains it, “The opening up,” or, “explanation of thy word.” To the natural man the doors of God’s Word are shut. Lu 24:27, 31; Ac 17:3; Eph 1:18, confirm this view, “opening (that is, explaining) and alleging,” &c.
unto the simple–those needing or desiring it (compare Ps 19:7).
131-135. An ardent desire (compare Ps 56:1, 2) for spiritual enlightening, establishment in a right course, deliverance from the wicked, and evidence of God’s favor is expressed
I opened my mouth, and panted–as a traveller in a hot desert pants for the cooling breeze (Ps 63:1; 84:2).
132. Look … upon me–opposed to hiding or averting the face (compare Ps 25:15; 86:6; 102:17).
as thou usest to do–or, “as it is right in regard to those who love Thy name.” Such have a right to the manifestations of God’s grace, resting on the nature of God as faithful to His promise to such, not on their own merits.
133. Order my steps–Make firm, so that there be no halting (Ps 40:2).
any iniquity–Ps 119:34 favors Hengstenberg, “any iniquitous man,” any “oppressor.” But the parallel first clause in this (Ps 119:33) favors English Version (Ps 19:13). His hope of deliverance from external oppression of man (Ps 119:34) is founded on his deliverance from the internal “dominion of iniquity,” in answer to his prayer (Ps 119:33).
136. Zealous himself to keep God’s law, he is deeply afflicted when others violate it (compare Ps 119:53). Literally, “Mine eyes come down (dissolved) like water brooks” (La 3:48; Jer 9:1).
because, &c.–(Compare Eze 9:4; Jer 13:17).
TZADDI. (Ps 119:137-144).
137-139. God’s justice and faithfulness in His government aggravate the neglect of the wicked, and more excite the lively zeal of His people.
139. (Ps 69:9).
140. very pure–literally, “refined,” shown pure by trial.
141. The pious, however despised of men, are distinguished in God’s sight by a regard for His law.
142-144. The principles of God’s government are permanent and reliable, and in the deepest distress His people find them a theme of delightful meditation and a source of reviving power (Ps 119:17, 116).
law is the truth–It therefore cannot deceive as to its promises.
everlasting–(Ps 111:3), though to outward appearance seeming dead.
KOPH. (Ps 119:145-152).
145-149. An intelligent devotion is led by divine promises and is directed to an increase of gracious affections, arising from a contemplation of revealed truth.
147. prevented–literally, “came before,” anticipated not only the dawn, but even the usual periods of the night; when the night watches, which might be expected to find me asleep, come, they find me awake (Ps 63:6; 77:4; La 2:19). Such is the earnestness of the desire and love for God’s truth.
149. quicken me–revive my heart according to those principles of justice, founded on Thine own nature, and revealed in Thy law, which specially set forth Thy mercy to the humble as well as justice to the wicked (compare Ps 119:30).
150-152. Though the wicked are near to injure, because far from God’s law, He is near to help, and faithful to His word, which abides for ever.
RESH. (Ps 119:153-160).
153-155. Though the remembering of God’s law is not meritorious, yet it evinces a filial temper and provides the pious with promises to plead, while the wicked in neglecting His law, reject God and despise His promises (compare Ps 9:13; 43:1; 69:18).
154. Plead, &c.–Hengstenberg translates, “Fight my fight.” (See Ps 35:1; 43:1; Mic 7:9).
156. (See on Ps 119:149).
157. (Compare Ps 119:86, 87, 95).
158. (Compare Ps 119:136).
transgressors–or, literally, “traitors,” who are faithless to a righteous sovereign and side with His enemies (compare Ps 25:3, 8).
159. (Compare Ps 119:121-126, 153-155).
quicken me, O Lord, according to thy lovingkindness–(Ps 119:88). This prayer occurs here for the ninth time, showing a deep sense of frailty.
160. God has been ever faithful, and the principles of His government will ever continue worthy of confidence.
from the beginning–that is, “every word from Genesis (called so by the Jews from its first words, ‘In the beginning’) to the end of the Scriptures is true.” Hengstenberg translates more literally, “The sum of thy words is truth.” The sense is substantially the same. The whole body of revelation is truth. “Thy Word is nothing but truth” [Luther].
SCHIN. (Ps 119:161-168).
161-165. (Compare Ps 119:46, 86).
awe–reverential, not slavish fear, which could not coexist with love (Ps 119:163; 1Jo 4:8). Instead of fearing his persecutors, he fears God’s Word alone (Lu 12:4, 5). The Jews inscribe in the first page of the great Bible (Ge 28:17), “How dreadful is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”
162. (Compare Mt 13:44, 45). Though persecuted by the mighty, the pious are not turned from revering God’s authority to seek their favor, but rejoice in the possession of this “pearl of great price,” as great victors in spoils. Hating falsehood and loving truth, often, every day, praising God for it, they find peace and freedom from temptation.
163. lying–that is, as in Ps 119:29, unfaithfulness to the covenant of God with His people; apostasy.
165. nothing shall offend them–or, “cause them to offend” (compare Margin).
166-168. As they keep God’s law from motives of love for it, and are free from slavish fear, the are ready to subject their lives to His inspection.
168. all my ways are before thee–I wish to order my ways as before Thee, rather than in reference to man (Ge 19:1; Ps 73:23). All men’s ways are under God’s eye (Pr 5:21); the godly alone realize the fact, and live accordingly.
TAU. (Ps 119:169-176).
169, 170. The prayer for understanding of the truth precedes that for deliverance. The fulfilment of the first is the basis of the fulfilment of the second (Ps 90:11-17). On the terms “cry” and “supplication” (compare Ps 6:9; 17:1).
171, 172. shall utter–or, “pour out praise” (compare Ps 19:2); shall cause Thy praises to stream forth as from a bubbling, overflowing fountain.
172. My tongue shall speak of thy word–literally, “answer Thy Word,” that is, with praise, respond to Thy word. Every expression in which we praise God and His Word is a response, or acknowledgment, corresponding to the perfections of Him whom we praise.
173, 174. (Compare Ps 119:77, 81, 92).
I have chosen–in preference to all other objects of delight.
175. Save me that I may praise Thee.
thy judgments–as in Ps 119:149, 156.
176. Though a wanderer from God, the truly pious ever desires to be drawn back to Him; and, though for a time negligent of duty, he never forgets the commandments by which it is taught.
lost–therefore utterly helpless as to recovering itself (Jer 50:6; Lu 15:4). Not only the sinner before conversion, but the believer after conversion, is unable to recover himself; but the latter, after temporary wandering, knows to whom to look for restoration. Ps 119:175, 176 seem to sum up the petitions, confessions, and professions of the Psalm. The writer desires God’s favor, that he may praise Him for His truth, confesses that he has erred, but, in the midst of all his wanderings and adversities, professes an abiding attachment to the revealed Word of God, the theme of such repeated eulogies, and the recognized source of such great and unnumbered blessings. Thus the Psalm, though more than usually didactic, is made the medium of both parts of devotion–prayer and praise.
Ps 120:1-7. This is the first of fifteen Psalms (Psalms 120-134) entitled “A Song of Degrees” (Ps 121:1–literally, “A song for the degrees”), or ascents. It seems most probable they were designed for the use of the people when going up (compare 1Ki 12:27, 28) to Jerusalem on the festival occasions (De 16:16), three times a year. David appears as the author of four, Solomon of one (Ps 127:1), and the other ten are anonymous, probably composed after the captivity. In this Psalm the writer acknowledges God’s mercy, prays for relief from a malicious foe, whose punishment he anticipates, and then repeats his complaint.
2, 3. Slander and deceit charged on his foes implies his innocence.
tongue–as in Ps 52:2, 4.
4. Sharp arrows of the mighty–destructive inflictions.
coals of juniper–which retain heat long. This verse may be read as a description of the wicked, but better as their punishment, in reply to the question of Ps 120:3.
5. A residence in these remote lands pictures his miserable condition.
6, 7. While those who surrounded him were maliciously hostile, he was disposed to peace. This Psalm may well begin such a series as this, as a contrast to the promised joys of God’s worship.
Ps 121:1-8. God’s guardian care of His people celebrated.
1. I will lift up mine eyes–expresses desire (compare Ps 25:1), mingled with expectation. The last clause, read as a question, is answered,
2. by avowing God to be the helper, of whose ability His creative power is a pledge (Ps 115:15), to which,
3, 4. His sleepless vigilance is added.
to be moved–(Compare Ps 38:16; 66:9).
5. upon thy right hand–a protector’s place (Ps 109:31; 110:5).
6-8. God keeps His people at all times and in all perils.
nor the moon by night–poetically represents the dangers of the night, over which the moon presides (Ge 1:16).
8. thy going out, &c.–all thy ways (De 28:19; Ps 104:23).
evermore–includes a future state.
Ps 122:1-9. This Psalm might well express the sacred joy of the pilgrims on entering the holy city, where praise, as the religious as well as civil metropolis, is celebrated, and for whose prosperity, as representing the Church, prayer is offered.
1, 2. Our feet shall stand–literally, “are standing.”
2. gates–(Compare Ps 9:14; 87:2).
3-5. compact together–all parts united, as in David’s time.
4. testimony–If “unto” is supplied, this may denote the ark (Ex 25:10-21); otherwise the act of going is denoted, called a testimony in allusion to the requisition (De 16:16), with which it was a compliance.
5. there are set thrones–or, “do sit, thrones,” used for the occupants, David’s sons (2Sa 8:18).
6, 7. Let peace–including prosperity, everywhere prevail.
8, 9. In the welfare of the city, as its civil, and especially the religious relations, was involved that of Israel.
now–as in Ps 115:2.
9. Let me say–house of … God–in wider sense, the Church, whose welfare would be promoted by the good of Jerusalem.
Ps 123:1-4. An earnest and expecting prayer for divine aid in distress.
1. (Compare Ps 121:1).
thou that dwellest–literally, “sittest as enthroned” (compare Ps 2:4; 113:4, 5).
2. Deference, submission, and trust, are all expressed by the figure. In the East, servants in attending on their masters are almost wholly directed by signs, which require the closest observance of the hands of the latter. The servants of God should look (1) to His directing hand, to appoint them their work; (2) to His supplying hand (Ps 104:28), to give them their portion in due season; (3) to His protecting hand, to right them when wronged; (4) to His correcting hand (Isa 9:13; 1Pe 5:6; compare Ge 16:6); (5) to His rewarding hand.
3. contempt–was that of the heathen, and, perhaps, Samaritans (Ne 1:3; 2:19).
4. of those that are at ease–self-complacently, disregarding God’s law, and despising His people.
Ps 124:1-8. The writer, for the Church, praises God for past, and expresses trust for future, deliverance from foes.
1, 2. on our side–for us (Ps 56:9).
now–or, “oh! let Israel”
2. rose … against, &c.–(Ps 3:1; 56:11).
3. Then–that is, the time of our danger.
quick–literally, “living” (Nu 16:32, 33), description of ferocity.
4, 5. (Compare Ps 18:4, 16).
5. The epithet proud added to waters denotes insolent enemies.
6, 7. The figure is changed to that of a rapacious wild beast (Ps 3:7), and then of a fowler (Ps 91:3), and complete escape is denoted by breaking the net.
8. (Compare Ps 121:2).
name–in the usual sense (Ps 5:11; 20:1). He thus places over against the great danger the omnipotent God, and drowns, as it were in an anthem, the wickedness of the whole world and of hell, just as a great fire consumes a little drop of water [Luther].
Ps 125:1-5. God honors the confidence of His people, by protection and deliverance, and leaves hypocrites to the doom of the wicked.
1, 2. Mount Zion–as an emblem of permanence, and locality of Jerusalem as one of security, represent the firm and protected condition of God’s people (compare Ps 46:5), supported not only by Providence, but by covenant promise. Even the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but God’s kindness shall not depart, nor His covenant of peace be removed (Isa 54:10).
They that trust–are “His people,” (Ps 125:2).
3. Though God may leave them for a time under the “rod,” or power (Ps 2:9), and oppression of the wicked for a time, as a chastisement, He will not suffer them to be tempted so as to fall into sin (1Co 10:13). The wicked shall only prove a correcting rod to them, not a destroying sword; even this rod shall not remain (“rest”) on them, lest they be tempted to despair and apostasy (Ps 73:13, 14). God may even try His people to the uttermost: when nothing is before our eyes but pure despair, then He delivers us and gives life in death, and makes us blessed in the curse (2Co 1:8, 9) [Luther].
the lot–the possession, literally, “Canaan,” spiritually, the heavenly inheritance of holiness and bliss which is appointed to the righteous. Sin’s dominion shall not permanently come between the believer and his inheritance.
4. (Compare Ps 7:10; 84:11).
5. Those who turn aside (under temptation) permanently show that they are hypocrites, and their lot or portion shall be with the wicked (Ps 28:3).
crooked ways–(Compare De 9:16; Mal 2:8, 9).
their–is emphatic; the “crooked ways” proceed from their own hearts. The true Israel is here distinguished from the false. Scripture everywhere opposes the Jewish delusion that mere outward descent would save (Ro 2:28, 29; 9:6, 7; Ga 6:16). The byways of sin from the way of life.
Ps 126:1-6. To praise for God’s favor to His people is added a prayer for its continued manifestation.
1-3. When the Lord, &c.–The joy of those returned from Babylon was ecstatic, and elicited the admiration even of the heathen, as illustrating God’s great power and goodness.
turned again the captivity–that is, restored from it (Job 39:12; Ps 14:7; Pr 12:14). Hengstenberg translates: “When the Lord turned Himself to the turning of Zion” (see Margin), God returns to His people when they return to Him (De 30:2, 3).
4. All did not return at once; hence the prayer for repeated favors.
as the streams in the south–or, the torrents in the desert south of Judea, dependent on rain (Jos 15:9), reappearing after dry seasons (compare Job 6:15; Ps 68:9). The point of comparison is joy at the reappearing of what has been so painfully missed.
5, 6. As in husbandry the sower may cast his seed in a dry and parched soil with desponding fears, so those shall reap abundant fruit who toil in tears with the prayer of faith. (Compare the history, Ezr 6:16, 22).
6. He that goeth forth–literally, better, “He goes–he comes, he comes,” &c. The repetition implies there is no end of weeping here, as there shall be no end of joy hereafter (Isa 35:10).
precious seed–rather, seed to be drawn from the seed box for sowing; literally, “seed-draught.” Compare on this Psalm, Jer 31:9, &c.
Ps 127:1-5. The theme of this Psalm, that human enterprises only succeed by the divine blessing, was probably associated with the building of the temple by Solomon, its author. It may have been adopted in this view, as suited to this series especially, as appropriately expressing the sentiments of God’s worshippers in relation to the erection of the second temple.
1, 2. suggest the view of the theme given.
2. so he giveth his beloved sleep–that is, His providential care gives sleep which no efforts of ours can otherwise procure, and this is a reason for trust as to other things (compare Mt 6:26-32).
3-5. Posterity is often represented as a blessing from God (Ge 30:2, 18; 1Sa 1:19, 20). Children are represented as the defenders (arrows) of their parents in war, and in litigation.
5. adversaries in the gate–or place of public business (compare Job 5:4; Ps 69:12).
Ps 128:1-6. The temporal blessings of true piety. The eighth chapter of Zecariah is a virtual commentary on this Psalm. Compare Ps 128:3 with Zec 8:5; and Ps 128:2 with Le 26:16; De 28:33; Zec 8:10; and Ps 128:6 with Zec 8:4.
1. (Compare Ps 1:1).
2. For thou shalt eat–that is, It is a blessing to live on the fruits of one’s own industry.
3. by the sides–or, “within” (Ps 48:2).
olive plants–are peculiarly luxuriant (Ps 52:8).
5. In temporal blessings the pious do not forget the richer blessings of God’s grace, which they shall ever enjoy.
6. Long life crowns all other temporal favors. As Ps 125:5, this Psalm closes with a prayer for peace, with prosperity for God’s people.
Ps 129:1-8. The people of God, often delivered from enemies, are confident of His favor, by their overthrow in the future.
1, 2. may Israel now say–or, “oh! let Israel say” (Ps 124:1). Israel’s youth was the sojourn in Egypt (Jer 2:2; Ho 2:15).
2. prevailed–literally, “been able,” that is, to accomplish their purpose against me (Ps 13:4).
3, 4. The ploughing is a figure of scourging, which most severe physical infliction aptly represents all kinds.
4. the cords–that is, which fasten the plough to the ox; and cutting denotes God’s arresting the persecution;
5, 6. The ill-rooted roof grass, which withers before it grows up and procures for those gathering it no harvest blessing (Ru 2:4), sets forth the utter uselessness and the rejection of the wicked.
Ps 130:1-8. The penitent sinner’s hope is in God’s mercy only.
1, 2. depths–for great distress (Ps 40:2; 69:3).
3. shouldest mark–or, “take strict account” (Job 10:14; 14:16), implying a confession of the existence of sin.
who shall stand–(Ps 1:6). Standing is opposed to the guilty sinking down in fear and self-condemnation (Mal 3:2; Re 6:15, 16). The question implies a negative, which is thus more strongly stated.
4. Pardon produces filial fear and love. Judgment without the hope of pardon creates fear and dislike. The sense of forgiveness, so far from producing licentiousness, produces holiness (Jer 33:9; Eze 16:62, 63; 1Pe 2:16). “There is forgiveness with thee, not that thou mayest be presumed upon, but feared.”
5, 6. wait for the Lord–in expectation (Ps 27:14).
watch for, &c.–in earnestness and anxiety.
7, 8. Let Israel, &c.–that is, All are invited to seek and share divine forgiveness.
from all his iniquities–or, “punishments of them” (Ps 40:12, &c.).
Ps 131:1-3. This Psalm, while expressive of David’s pious feelings on assuming the royal office, teaches the humble, submissive temper of a true child of God.
1. eyes lofty–a sign of pride (Ps 18:27).
exercise myself–literally, “walk in,” or “meddle with.”
2. Surely, &c.–The form is that of an oath or strongest assertion. Submission is denoted by the figure of a weaned child. As the child weaned by his mother from the breast, so I still the motions of pride in me (Mt 18:3, 4; Isa 11:8; 28:9). Hebrew children were often not weaned till three years old.
soul–may be taken for desire, which gives a more definite sense, though one included in the idea conveyed by the usual meaning, myself.
Ps 132:1-18. The writer, perhaps Solomon (compare Ps 132:8, 9), after relating David’s pious zeal for God’s service, pleads for the fulfilment of the promise (2Sa 7:16), which, providing for a perpetuation of David’s kingdom, involved that of God’s right worship and the establishment of the greater and spiritual kingdom of David’s greater Son. Of Him and His kingdom both the temple and its worship, and the kings and kingdom of Judah, were types. The congruity of such a topic with the tenor of this series of Psalms is obvious.
1-5. This vow is not elsewhere recorded. It expresses, in strong language, David’s intense desire to see the establishment of God’s worship as well as of His kingdom.
remember David–literally, “remember for David,” that is, all his troubles and anxieties on the matter.
5. habitation–literally, “dwellings,” generally used to denote the sanctuary.
6. These may be the “words of David” and his pious friends, who,
at Ephratah–or Beth-lehem (Ge 48:7), where he once lived, may have heard of the ark, which he found for the first time
in the fields of the wood–or, Jair, or Kirjath-jearim (“City of woods”) (1Sa 7:1; 2Sa 6:3, 4), whence it was brought to Zion.
7. The purpose of engaging in God’s worship is avowed.
8, 9. The solemn entry of the ark, symbolical of God’s presence and power, with the attending priests, into the sanctuary, is proclaimed in the words used by Solomon (2Ch 6:41).
10-12. For thy servant David’s sake–that is, On account of the promise made to him.
turn … anointed–Repulse not him who, as David’s descendant, pleads the promise to perpetuate his royal line. After reciting the promise, substantially from 2Sa 7:12-16 (compare Ac 2:30, &c.), an additional plea,
13. is made on the ground of God’s choice of Zion (here used for Jerusalem) as His dwelling, inasmuch as the prosperity of the kingdom was connected with that of the Church (Ps 122:8, 9).
14-18. That choice is expressed in God’s words, “I will sit” or “dwell,” or sit enthroned. The joy of the people springs from the blessings of His grace, conferred through the medium of the priesthood.
17. make the horn … to bud–enlarge his power.
a lamp–the figure of prosperity (Ps 18:10, 28; 89:17). With the confounding of his enemies is united his prosperity and the unceasing splendor of his crown.
Ps 133:1-3. The blessings of fraternal unity.
1, 2. As the fragrant oil is refreshing, so this affords delight. The holy anointing oil for the high priest was olive oil mixed with four of the best spices (Ex 30:22, 25, 30). Its rich profusion typified the abundance of the Spirit’s graces. As the copious dew, such as fell on Hermon, falls in fertilizing power on the mountains of Zion, so this unity is fruitful in good works.
3. there–that is, in Zion, the Church; the material Zion, blessed with enriching dews, suggests this allusion the source of the influence enjoyed by the spiritual Zion.
commanded the blessing–(Compare Ps 68:28).
Ps 134:1-3. 1, 2. The pilgrim bands arriving at the sanctuary call on the priests, who
stand in the house of the Lord–at the time of the evening sacrifice, to unite in praising God in their name and that of the people, using appropriate gestures, to which the priests reply, pronouncing the Mosaic blessing which they alone could pronounce. A fit epilogue to the whole pilgrim-book, Psalms 120-134.
by night–the evening service (Ps 141:2), as opposed to morning (Ps 92:2).
2. Lift up your hands–(Compare Ps 28:2).
3. After the manner directed (Nu 6:23).
out of Zion–the Church, as His residence, and thus seat of blessings. Thus close the songs of degrees.
Ps 135:1-21. A Psalm of praise, in which God’s relations to His Church, His power in the natural world, and in delivering His people, are contrasted with the vanity of idols and idol-worship.
1-3. In the general call for praise, the priests, that stand in the house of the Lord, are specially mentioned.
4-7. God’s choice of Israel is the first reason assigned for rendering praise; the next, His manifested greatness in creation and providence.
6. heaven, and … seas, and all … ends of the earth–denote universality.
8, 9. The last plague [Ex 12:29] is cited to illustrate His “tokens and wonders.”
10-12. The conquest of Canaan was by God’s power, not that of the people.
13. heritage–or, “possession.”
name … memorial–Each denote that by which God is made known.
14. will judge–do justice (Ps 72:2).
repent himself–change His dealings (Ps 90:13).
15-18. (Compare Ps 115:4-8).
18. are like unto them–or, “shall be like,” &c. Idolaters become spiritually stupid and perish with their idols (Isa 1:31).
19-21. (Compare Ps 115:9-11). There we have “trust” for “bless” here.
21. out of Zion–(Compare Ps 110:2; 134:3). From the Church, as a center, His praise is diffused throughout the earth.
Ps 136:1-26. The theme is the same as that of Psalm 135. God should be praised for His works of creation and providence, His deliverance and care of His people, and judgments on their enemies, and His goodness to all. The chorus to every verse is in terms of that of Ps 106:1; 118:1-4, and was perhaps used as the Amen by the people, in worship (compare 1Ch 16:36; Ps 105:45).
1-3. The divine titles denote supremacy.
4. alone–excluding all help.
5, 6. by wisdom–or, “in wisdom” (Ps 104:24).
made–literally, “maker of.”
above the waters–or, “higher than the waters” (Ps 24:2).
12. Compare similar expressions (Ex 3:20; De 4:34, &c.).
15. overthrew–literally, “shook off,” as in Ex 14:27, as a contemptuous rejection of a reptile.
23. remembered us–or, “for us” (Ps 132:1).
our low estate–that is, captivity.
24. And hath redeemed us–or, literally, “snatched us”–alluding to the sudden deliverance effected by the overthrow of Babylon.
25. To the special favors to His people is added the record of God’s goodness to all His creatures (compare Mt 6:30).
26. God of heaven–occurs but once (Jon 1:9) before the captivity. It is used by the later writers as specially distinguishing God from idols.
Ps 137:1-9. This Psalm records the mourning of the captive Israelites, and a prayer and prediction respecting the destruction of their enemies.
1. rivers of Babylon–the name of the city used for the whole country.
remembered Zion–or, Jerusalem, as in Ps 132:13.
2. upon the willows–which may have grown there then, if not now; as the palm, which was once common, is now rare in Palestine.
3, 4. Whether the request was in curiosity or derision, the answer intimates that a compliance was incongruous with their mournful feelings (Pr 25:20).
5, 6. For joyful songs would imply forgetfulness of their desolated homes and fallen Church. The solemn imprecations on the hand and tongue, if thus forgetful, relate to the cunning or skill in playing, and the power of singing.
7-9. Remember … the children of Edom–(Compare Ps 132:1), that is, to punish.
the day of Jerusalem–its downfall (La 4:21, 22; Ob 11-13).
8. daughter of Babylon–the people (Ps 9:13). Their destruction had been abundantly foretold (Isa 13:14; Jer 51:23). For the terribleness of that destruction, God’s righteous judgment, and not the passions of the chafed Israelites, was responsible.
Ps 138:1-8. David thanks God for His benefits, and anticipating a wider extension of God’s glory by His means, assures himself of His continued presence and faithfulness.
1. I will praise thee with my whole heart–(Compare Ps 9:1).
before the gods–whether angels (Ps 8:5); or princes (Ex 21:6; Ps 82:6); or idols (Ps 97:7); denotes a readiness to worship the true God alone, and a contempt of all other objects of worship.
2. (Compare Ps 5:7).
thy word above all thy name–that is, God’s promise (2Sa 7:12-16), sustained by His mercy and truth, exceeded all other manifestations of Himself as subject of praise.
3-5. That promise, as an answer to his prayers in distress, revived and strengthened his faith; and, as the basis of other revelations of the Messiah, it will be the occasion of praise by all who hear and receive it (Ps 68:29, 31; Isa 4:3).
5. for great is the glory–or, “when the glory shall be great,” in God’s fulfilling His purposes of redemption.
6, 7. On this general principle of God’s government (Isa 2:11; 57:15; 66:2), he relies for God’s favor in saving him, and overthrowing his enemies.
knoweth afar off–their ways and deserts (Ps 1:6).
8. God will fulfil His promise.
Ps 139:1-24. After presenting the sublime doctrines of God’s omnipresence and omniscience, the Psalmist appeals to Him, avowing his innocence, his abhorrence of the wicked, and his ready submission to the closest scrutiny. Admonition to the wicked and comfort to the pious are alike implied inferences from these doctrines.
Ps 140:1-13. The style of this Psalm resembles those of David in the former part of the book, presenting the usual complaint, prayer, and confident hope of relief.
1. evil man–Which of David’s enemies is meant is not important.
2-5. This character of the wicked, and the devices planned against the pious, correspond to Ps 10:7; 31:13; 58:4, &c.
3. sharpened … like a serpent–not like a serpent does, but they are thus like a serpent in cunning and venom.
5. snare [and] net–for threatening dangers (compare Ps 38:12; 57:6).
6. (Compare Ps 5:1-12; 16:2).
7. day of battle–literally, “of armor,” that is, when using it.
8. (Compare Ps 37:12; 66:7).
lest they exalt themselves–or, they will be exalted if permitted to prosper.
9. Contrasts his head covered by God (Ps 140:7) with theirs, or (as “head” may be used for “persons”) with them, covered with the results of their wicked deeds (Ps 7:16).
10. (Compare Ps 11:6; 120:4).
cast into the fire; into deep pits–figures for utter destruction.
11. an evil speaker–or, “slanderer” will not be tolerated (Ps 101:7). The last clause may be translated: “an evil (man) He (God) shall hunt,” &c.
12. (Compare Ps 9:4).
13. After all changes, the righteous shall have cause for praise. Such
shall dwell–shall sit securely, under God’s protection (Ps 21:6; 41:12).
Ps 141:1-10. This Psalm evinces its authorship as the preceding, by its structure and the character of its contents. It is a prayer for deliverance from sins to which affliction tempted him, and from the enemies who caused it.
Ps 142:1-7. Maschil–(See on Ps 32:1, title). When he was in the cave–either of Adullam (1Sa 22:1), or En-gedi (1Sa 24:3). This does not mean that the Psalm was composed in the cave, but that the precarious mode of life, of which his refuge in caves was a striking illustration, occasioned the complaint, which constitutes the first part of the Psalm and furnishes the reason for the prayer with which it concludes, and which, as the prominent characteristic, gives its name.
1. with my voice–audibly, because earnestly.
2. (Compare Ps 62:8).
I poured out my complaint–or, “a sad musing.”
3. thou knewest … path–The appeal is indicative of conscious innocence; knowest it to be right, and that my affliction is owing to the snares of enemies, and is not deserved (compare Ps 42:4; 61:2).
4. Utter desolation is meant.
right hand–the place of a protector (Ps 110:5).
cared for–literally, “sought after,” to do good.
5. (Compare Ps 31:14; 62:7).
6. (Compare Ps 17:1).
7. (Compare Ps 25:17).
that I may praise–literally, “for praising,” or, “that Thy name may be praised,” that is, by the righteous, who shall surround me with sympathizing joy (Ps 35:27).
Ps 143:1-12. In structure and style, like the preceding (Psalms 104-142), this Psalm is clearly evinced to be David’s. It is a prayer for pardon, and for relief from enemies; afflictions, as usual, producing confession and penitence.
1. in thy faithfulness … and … righteousness–or, God’s regard to the claims which He has permitted His people to make in His covenant.
2. enter … judgment–deal not in strict justice.
shall no … justified–or, “is no man justified,” or “innocent” (Job 14:3; Ro 3:20).
3, 4. The exciting reason for his prayer–his afflictions–led to confession as just made: he now makes the complaint.
as those that have been long dead–deprived of life’s comforts (compare Ps 40:15; 88:3-6).
5, 6. The distress is aggravated by the contrast of former comfort (Ps 22:3-5), for whose return he longs.
a thirsty land–which needs rain, as did his spirit God’s gracious visits (Ps 28:1; 89:17).
7. spirit faileth–is exhausted.
8. (Compare Ps 25:1-4; 59:16).
the way … walk–that is, the way of safety and righteousness (Ps 142:3-6).
9. (Compare Ps 31:15-20).
10. (Compare Ps 5:8; 27:11).
land of uprightness–literally, “an even land” (Ps 26:12).
11. (Compare Ps 23:3; 119:156).
12. God’s mercy to His people is often wrath to His and their enemies (compare Ps 31:17).
thy servant–as chosen to be such, entitled to divine regard.
Ps 144:1-15. David’s praise of God as his all-sufficient help is enhanced by a recognition of the intrinsic worthlessness of man. Confidently imploring God’s interposition against his enemies, he breaks forth into praise and joyful anticipations of the prosperity of his kingdom, when freed from vain and wicked men.
Ps 145:1-21. A Psalm of praise to God for His mighty, righteous, and gracious government of all men, and of His humble and suffering people in particular.
1, 2. (Compare Ps 30:1).
bless thy name–celebrate Thy perfections (Ps 5:11). God is addressed as king, alluding to His government of men.
3. (Compare Ps 18:3; 48:1).
greatness–as displayed in His works.
4. shall declare–literally, “they shall declare,” that is, all generations.
5. I will speak–or, “muse” (Ps 77:12; 119:15).
thy wondrous works–or, “words of thy wonders,” that is, which described them (Ps 105:27, Margin).
6. terrible acts–which produce dread or fear.
7. memory–(Ps 6:5), remembrance, or what causes to be remembered.
righteousness–as in Ps 143:1, goodness according to covenant engagement.
8, 9. (Compare Ps 103:8; 111:4).
over all, &c.–rests on all His works.
10. bless–as in Ps 145:1, to praise with reverence, more than merely to praise.
11, 12. The declaration of God’s glory is for the extension of His knowledge and perfections in the world.
13. (Compare Da 4:3, 34).
14. (Compare Ps 37:17; 54:4).
15, 16. eyes of … thee–or, look with expecting faith (Ps 104:27, 28).
17. holy … works–literally, “merciful” or “kind, goodness” (Ps 144:2) is the corresponding noun.
righteous–in a similar relation of meaning to “righteousness” (Ps 145:7).
18, 19. (Compare Ps 34:7, 10).
20. Those who fear Him (Ps 145:19) are those who are here said to love Him.
21. (Compare Ps 33:21).
all flesh–(Ps 65:2). The Psalm ends, as it began, with ascriptions of praise, in which the pious will ever delight to join.
Ps 146:1-10. An exhortation to praise God, who, by the gracious and faithful exercise of His power in goodness to the needy, is alone worthy of implicit trust.
Ps 147:1-20. This and the remaining Psalms have been represented as specially designed to celebrate the rebuilding of Jerusalem (compare Ne 6:16; 12:27). They all open and close with the stirring call for praise. This one specially declares God’s providential care towards all creatures, and particularly His people.
1. (Compare Ps 92:1; 135:3).
2. (Compare Ps 107:3; Isa 11:12).
3. Though applicable to the captive Israelites, this is a general and precious truth.
4, 5. God’s power in nature (Isa 40:26-28, and often) is presented as a pledge of His power to help His people.
telleth … stars–what no man can do (Ge 15:5).
6. That power is put forth for the good of the meek and suffering pious, and confusion of the wicked (Ps 146:8, 9).
7-9. His providence supplies bountifully the wild animals in their mountain homes.
Sing … Lord–literally, “Answer the Lord,” that is, in grateful praise to His goodness, thus declared in His acts.
10, 11. The advantages afforded, as in war by the strength of the horse or the agility of man, do not incline God to favor any; but those who fear and, of course, trust Him, will obtain His approbation and aid.
13. strengthened … gates–or, means of defense against invaders,
14. maketh … borders–or, territories (Ge 23:17; Isa 54:12).
filleth thee, &c.–(Compare Margin).
15-18. God’s Word, as a swift messenger, executes His purpose, for with Him to command is to perform (Ge 1:3; Ps 33:9), and He brings about the wonders of providence as easily as men cast crumbs.
17. morsels–used as to food (Ge 18:5), perhaps here denotes hail.
19, 20. This mighty ruler and benefactor of heaven and earth is such especially to His chosen people, to whom alone (De 4:32-34) He has made known His will, while others have been left in darkness. Therefore unite in the great hallelujah.
Ps 148:1-14. The scope of this Psalm is the same as that of the preceding.
1. heavens [and] heights–are synonymous.
2. hosts–(compare Ps 103:21).
4. heavens of heavens–the very highest.
waters–clouds, resting above the visible heavens (compare Ge 1:7).
5. praise the name–as representing His perfections.
he commanded–“He” is emphatic, ascribing creation to God alone.
6. The perpetuity of the frame of nature is, of course, subject to Him who formed it.
a decree … pass–His ordinances respecting them shall not change (Jer 36:31), or perish (Job 34:20; Ps 37:36).
7-10. The call on the earth, as opposed to heaven, includes seas or depths, whose inhabitants the dragon, as one of the largest (on leviathan, see on Ps 104:26), is selected to represent. The most destructive and ungovernable agents of inanimate nature are introduced.
8. fulfilling his word–or, law, may be understood of each. Next the most distinguished productions of the vegetable world.
9. fruitful trees–or, “trees of fruit,” as opposed to forest trees. Wild and domestic, large and small animals are comprehended.
11, 12. Next all rational beings, from the highest in rank to little children.
princes–or, military leaders.
13. Let them–all mentioned.
excellent–or, exalted (Isa 12:4).
his glory–majesty (Ps 45:3).
above the earth and heaven–Their united splendors fail to match His.
14. exalteth the horn–established power (Ps 75:5, 6).
praise of–or literally, “for”
his saints–that is, occasions for them to praise Him. They are further described as “His people,” and “near unto Him,” sustaining by covenanted care a peculiarly intimate relation.
Ps 149:1-9. This Psalm sustains a close connection with the foregoing. The chosen people are exhorted to praise God, in view of past favors, and also future victories over enemies, of which they are impliedly assured.
1. (Compare Ps 96:1).
2. God had signalized His relation as a sovereign, in restoring them to their land.
3. in the dance–(Ps 30:11). The dance is connected with other terms, expressive of the great joy of the occasion. The word may be rendered “lute,” to which the other instruments are joined.
sing praises–or, sing and play.
4. taketh pleasure–literally, “accepts,” alluding to acceptance of propitiatory offerings (compare Ps 147:11).
beautify, &c.–adorn the humble with faith, hope, joy, and peace.
5. in glory–the honorable condition to which they are raised.
upon their beds–once a place of mourning (Ps 6:6).
6. high praises–or, “deeds.” They shall go forth as religious warriors, as once religious laborers (Ne 4:17).
7. The destruction of the incorrigibly wicked attends the propagation of God’s truth, so that the military successes of the Jews, after the captivity, typified the triumphs of the Gospel.
9. the judgment written–either in God’s decrees, or perhaps as in De 32:41-43.
this honour–that is, to be thus employed, will be an honorable service, to be assigned
his saints–or, godly ones (Ps 16:3).
Ps 150:1-6. This is a suitable doxology for the whole book, reciting the “place, theme, mode, and extent of God’s high praise.”
1. in his sanctuary–on earth.
firmament of his power–which illustrates His power.
2. mighty acts–(Ps 145:4).
excellent greatness–or, abundance of greatness.
3, 4. trumpet–used to call religious assemblies;
4. organs–or pipe, a wind instrument, and the others were used in worship.
5. cymbals–suited to loud praise (Ne 12:27).
6. Living voices shall take up the failing sounds of dead instruments, and as they cease on earth, those of intelligent ransomed spirits and holy angels, as with the sound of mighty thunders, will prolong eternally the praise, saying: “Alleluia! Salvation, and Glory, and Honor, and Power, unto the Lord our God;” “Alleluia! for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” Amen!