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MAR 7 1913 

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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the 3-ear 1850, by 


In the Clerk's Office of the United States District Court for the District of 

New e srsey. 



1, 2. To the Chief Musician. A Psalm. By David 
When Nathan the Prophet came unto him, as he (i. e. David) 
had come unto Bathsheba. The first inscription was particularly 
necessary here, to show that the psalm was designed for perma- 
nent and public use, since it might otherwise have been regarded 
as expressive of mere personal emotions. It has reference to the 
one great crime of David's life, noted as such in the inspired his- 
tory itself (1 Kings xv. 5), and involving the guilt of both 
adultery and murder. See 2 Sam. xi and xii. The significant 
repetition of the phrase came unto in v. 2 is lost in the English 
and most other versions. As is not a mere particle of time, 
simply equivalent to when, but suggests the ideas of analogy, pro- 
portion, and retaliation. The psalm consists of two parts, a 
prayer and a vow. In the first, he prays to be forgiven and re- 
stored to the divine favour, vs. 3 — 14 (1 — 12.) In the second, he 
shows how he means to testify his gratitude, vs. 15 — 21 (13 — 19.) 

3(1.) Be gracious to me, (oh) God, according to thy mercy ; 
according to the abundance of thy compassions, blot out my trans- 
gressions. In this verse and the next, he presents the petition 
which constitutes the theme or burden of the psalm. The appeal 

VOL. II. 1 


to the divine grace, mercy, and compassion, involves a confession 
of his own guilt and the justice of his condemnation. According 
to, literally, like thy mercy, i. e. in accordance with it, in propor- 
tion to it. Here again there is a tacit admission of the greatness 
of his guilt, as requiring infinite mercy to forgive it. Abundance, 
increase, multitude. See above, on Ps. v. S (7.) Compassions, 
tender mercies, a term expressive of the warmest and tenderest 
affections. See above, onPs. xviii. 2 (1.) Blot out, erase, from 
thy remembrance. The allusion is probably to a record or regis- 
ter of crimes, or to the cancelling of accounts, although the 
former seems to agree better with ancient and oriental usage. 
Compare Num. v. 23. Transgressions, or with closer adherence 
to the primary etymological import of the term, revolts, apostasies. 
See above, on Ps. xix. 14 (13.) xxxii. 1: 

4 (2.) Thoroughly wash me from my iniquity, and from my 
sin cleanse me. The first word in Hebrew is the infinitive or im- 
perative of a verb meaning to increase or multiply, but often used 
adverbially in the sense of plentifully, abundantly. The verb in 
the first clause properly denotes the act of washing the garments, 
as distinguished from that of bathing the body. See Num. 
xix. 19. The image here presented therefore is the same as in 
Jude v. 23, sin being represented as a stain, and the grace of 
God as purifying water. 

5 (3.) For my transgressions I know, and my sin (is) before 
me always. Hi;-, consciousness of guilt is urged, not only as a 
reason why he should ask forgiveness, but as a reason why God 
should grant it. As no one is forgiven unless convinced of sin, so 
this conviction constitutes a kind of claim to pardon, not as being 
meritorious or intrinsically efficacious, but as an indication of God's 
merciful intentions, since conviction and forgiveness are alike his 
gift. The same mutual connection of the two things is uniformly 
recognized in Scripture. See above, on Ps. xxxii. 5, and com- 


pare 2 Sam. xii. 13. Prov. xxviii. 13. 1 John i. 9. The future 
in the first clause is significant. I know it and shrill know it ; I 
can never henceforth lose the sense or knowledge of it. 

6 (4.) To thee, t/iee only, have I sinned, and done the evil in 
thine eyes, to the intent that thou mayest be just in thy speaking, 
and be clear in thy judging. The particle at the beginning 
denotes general relation, as to, or respecting. The precise rela- 
tion meant must he determined by the context. See above, on 
Ps. xxxv. 19, 24. xxxviii. 17 (16.) It does not therefore di- 
rectly and explicitly substitute God for man as the injured party, 
which is the only sense that can be put upon the English phrase 
against thee. This idea, however, is undoubtedly implied, as 
well as perfectly consistent with the usage of the Scriptures in 
describing all sin as committed against God. Even murder, the 
highest crime that can be committed against man, is condemned 
and punished as the violation of God's image (Gen. ix. 6.) It 
is also possible to understand thee, thee only, as opposed not to 
other objects, but to the sinner himself, as one of two contend- 
ing parties. As if he had said, thou hast not sinned against me, 
but I have sinned against thee, thee only. The evil, not this evil, 
which restricts the acknowledgment too much, but that which is 
evil, meaning sin in general. To the intent that may have refer- 
ence to the divine purpose in permitting David's sin to take this 
aggravated form, so that there could be neither doubt nor trans- 
fer nor participation of his guilt, and so that when God spoke in 
condemnation of it, he might not only be, but appear to be, en- 
tirely just. There is no need therefore of adopting the weaker' 
meaning, so that, denoting a mere consequence but not a pur- 
pose, or of supposing the intention indicated to be merely that 
of the confession, ' I acknowledge this, that thou mayest be just, 
etc. Speaking, i. e. speaking as a judge, deciding, or more 
definitely still, condemning. It is therefore substantially equiva- 
lent to the parallel term judging. 


7 (5.) Lo, in iniquity I was born, and in sin did my mother 
conceive me. The meaning of the first verb is determined "by its 
use in Job xv. 7. Prov. viii. 24, 25, and that of the correspond- 
ing active form in Job xxxix. 1. The iniquity and sin meant 
arc not those of his mother, but his own. Having just before 
confessed his actual transgressions, he now acknowledges the cor- 
ruption of his nature. This has always been regarded as the 
locus classicus of the Old Testament, in reference to the doctrine 
of original sin. 

8 (6.) Lo, truth thou hast desired in the inward (or secret) 
parts, and in the hidden (part) wisdom thou wilt make me know. 
The repetition of behold or lo, at the beginning of the sentence, 
seems to indicate a close connection with the preceding verse. 
That connection is most probably as follows : c Since I am cor- 
rupted in my very nature, and thou canst be satisfied with 
nothing short of inward sincerity, thou must bestow what thou 
requirest, by imparting to me heavenly wisdom.' Truth, sin- 
cerity, reality, as opposed to hypocritical profession or pretence. 
The first verb means not merely to desire, but to will, as in Job 
xxxiii. 32. The past tense implies that it has always been so, 
that the requisition is no sudden or capricious one, but an eternal 
law founded in God's very nature. The inward and hidden parts 
are mentioned as opposed to the mere outside. Wisdom, divine 
illumination, without which no correct view either of sin or holi- 
ness is possible. Thou wilt make me know, involves a prayer, 
although in form it is an expression of strong confidence. 

9 (7.) Thou wilt purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; 
thou wilt wash me, and 1 shall be whiter than snow. What he 
asked in v. 4 (2) he here anticipates with confidence. The verb 
translated purge is very expressive, being a derivative of that 
which means to sin in v. 6 (4) above. It denotes specifically, 
therefore, purification from the stain of sin, either by actual pay- 


ment of the penalty (Gen. xxxi. 39), or by vicarious satis- 
faction (Num. xix. 19.) Hyssop is mentioned as a plant much 
used in the Levitical purgations, either as a convenient instru- 
ment of sprinkling (Ex. xii. 22), or as an emblem of the divine 
condescension, viewed in contrast with the divine majesty (Isai. 
Ixvi. 1, 2), as represented by the cedar, with which the hyssop is 
perpetually joined. See Num. xix. 18, and compare 1 Kings v. 13. 
iv. 33. In cither case to purge with hyssop necessarily suggests 
the idea of a purification founded on atonement, as the hyssop was 
employed to sprinkle purifying substances, and sometimes mingled 
with them fEx. xii. 22. Num. xix. 6, 18.) The second future in 
each clause expresses both consent and expectation. IVhitcr than 
snow is a natural hyperbole denoting perfect purity. See the 
same images applied to the same subject in Isai. i. 18. The last 
verb answers to the English whiten, being properly a causative, 
but sometimes used intransitively, just as we may say, that 
blushim* reddens the face, or that the face reddens in the act of 
blushing. ' Wash me and I shall whiten (become white) from 
(away from, as distinguished from, and by implication more than") 

10 (8.) Thou wilt make me to hear joy and gladness ; (then) 
shall rejoice the bones (which) thou hast broken (bruised, or 
crushed.) What is formally expressed is still a confident expec- 
tation or assured hope, under which, however, an intense desire 
is implicitly contained. The joy here anticipated is that of par- 
doned sin. See above, on Ps. xxxii. 1. He expects to hear it, 
as communicated or announced by God. The word then is in- 
troduced in the translation for the sake of retaining the original 
arrangement of the sentence, closing, as it does in Hebrew, with 
the emphatic figure, crushed or broken, which expresses, in a 
very lively manner, the disorder and distress produced by con- 
sciousness of aggravated and unexpiated guilt. The change 
from this condition to a sense of safety and reconciliation with 


God, is not too strongly represented by the bold but most ex- 
pressive figure of broken bones rejoicing. The ellipsis of tho 
relative in this clause is common to both idioms. 

11 (9.) Hide thy face from my sins, and all my iniquities Mot 
out. The desire implied in the anticipations of the two preced- 
ing verses now breaks out into its proper form, that of direct 
petition. Hide thy face from them, so as not to see them, look 
no longer at them. The same figure is applied, in an unfavour- 
able sense, to God's apparent neglect of his suffering servants, 
his refusal to behold them or to notice their condition. See 
above, on Ps. xiii. 2(1.) xliv. 25 (24.) Blot out, expunge, 
from thy account, or from the book of thy remembrance, as in 
v. 3 (1) above. What he asks as to his sins is that God will 
cancel and forget them. 

& x 

12 (10.) A pure heart create for me, {oh) God, and a fixed 
(or settled,) spirit renew within me. The petition in the first 
clause involves a confession of impurity, and of dependence on 
almighty power and sovereign grace for its removal. A pure 
heart is a familiar Scriptural figure for affections free from the 
taint of sin. See above, on Ps. xxiv. 4, and below, on Ps. lxxiii. 
1, and compare Matth. v. 8. Acts xv. 9. While the use of the 
word create implies the necessity of an almighty intervention, 
the additional phrase to (or for) me suggests the idea of a gift, 
which is often expressed elsewhere in the same connection. See 
Jer. xxiv. 7. Ez. xi. 19. xxxvi. 26, and compare 1 Sam. x. 9. 
The gift demanded in the last clause is that of a firm, unwaver- 
ing spirit, as opposed both to fickleness and cowardice. Compare 
the use of the same adjective or participle in Ps. lvii. 8 (7.) 
lxxviii. 37. cxii. 7. The word renew implies a previous posses- 
sion of it, derived not from nature but from grace, and inter- 
rupted by his yielding to temptation. Though his faith and love 
could not utterly fail, his fixedness of purpose was destroyed for 


the time, and could only be recovered by a new conversion, as 
in the case of Peter (Luke xxii. 32.) Within me, in the midst 
(or in the inside) of me. The same Hebrew noun is repeatedly 
used elsewhere, to denote the inward dispositions and affections, 
as distinguished from a mere profession or appearance. See 
above, on Ps. v. 10 (9.) xlix. 12 (11.) 

13(11.) Cast me not away from thy presence, and thy Holy 
Spirit take not from me. As indispensable prerequisites and 
means to the possession of such a heart and spirit as he had just 
prayed for, he recognizes intimate communion with God, and the 
active influences of his Spirit. This prayer, unless we arbitra- 
rily supply again or forever, seems to imply that David was in ac- 
tual possession of these blessings and afraid of losing them. There 
may be an intentional allusion to his own reception of the Spirit 
and to Saul's privation of it, as recorded in 1 Sam. xvi. 1, 7, 
13. Compare 1 Sam. x. 6, 10. Isai. xi. 2. 

14 (12.) Restore to me the joy of thy salvation, and (with) a 
willing spirit uphold me. The first verb is a causative in He- 
brew, meaning make to return, implying previous possession. 
The next phrase may be explained, according to a very common 
Hebrew idiom, thy joy of salvation, thy saving joy. See above, 
on Ps. ii. 6. But the obvious construction seems to yield the 
best sense, namely, that of joy occasioned by salvation, or relat- 
ing to it as its subject. This joy was of course incompatible 
with any interruption of God's presence and the assurance of 
his favour. The word translated willing means spontaneous, 
prompt, forward to act without coercion ; then liberal, gene- 
rous, noble. See above, on Ps. xlvii. 10 (9.) It may be taken 
as an epithet of the Holy Spirit ; but the omission of the pronoun 
(thy) which determines it in the foregoing verse, and the repeated 
use of spirit in the context to denote his own heart, makes it 
more probable that this is the sense here likewise. By such a 


spirit of spontaneous conformity to God's will he desires and 
hopes to be held up, i. e. preserved from falling as he fell before. 

15 (13.) (Then) will I teach transgressors thy ways, and sinners 
unto thee shall return. Here begins the expression of his thankful- 
ness, or rather a description of the way in which he is determined 
to express it. The word supplied at the beginning points out the 
connection of the verses. c Then, when these petitions have 
been answered, I will teach, etc' The form of the Hebrew 
verb denotes a strong desire and a settled purpose, as if he had 
said, ' I am resolved to teach.' Transgressors, rebels, traitors, 
apostates. See above, on v. 5 (3.) Thy ways, as well the ways 
in which thou walkest as the ways in which thou requirest us to 
walk, the course of providence and the course of duty. See 
above, on Ps. xviii, 22, 31 (21, 30.) In both these senses, he 
might naturally wish to " vindicate the ways of God to man." 
Of this resolution a partial fulfilment is recorded in Ps. xxxii. 
8, 9. The effect of such instructions is recorded in the last 
clause of the verse before us. The Hebrew verb there used is 
not a passive (shall be converted) but an active form, shall turn or 
return to the Lord, perhaps with an allusion to the great original 
apostasy, in which the whole race is involved. See above, on 
Ps. xxii. 28 (27.) To this verse there seems to be particular 
allusion in our Saviour's words to Peter, Luke xxii. 32. 

16 (14.) Free me from blood, (oh) God, God of my salvation, 
[and) my tongue shall celebrate thy righteousness. The first 
clause contains the condition of the second, and the whole is 
equivalent to saying, ' if thou wilt save me, I will praise thee.' 
Blood, literally bloods, the plural being idiomatically used when 
there is reference to murder. See above, on Ps. v. 7 (6.) There 
may be an allusion to the frequent personification of the victim's 
blood, as crying out for vengeance on the murderer or pursuing 
him (Gen. iv. 10. ix. 5, 6.) The verb translated free is applied 



fco deliverance from enemies in Ps. vii. 2 (1), and from sins (aS 
here) in Ps. xxxix. 9 (S.) The strength of the desire here ex- 
pressed may derive some illustration from the threatening in 
2 Sam. xii. 9, 10. Celebrate, applaud by shout or song. See 
above, on Ps. v. 12 (11.) xx. 6 (5.) xxxii. 11. xxxiii. 1. 

17 (15.) Lord, my lips thou wilt open, and my mouth shall 
declare thy praise. The relation of the clauses to each other is 
the same as in the foregoing verse. c If thou wilt open my lips, 
my mouth etc' The first clause, therefore, really includes a 
petition that his lips may be opened ; but it also includes more, 
to wit, a confident anticipation that his prayer will be granted. 
The sense is therefore only partially expressed by rendering the 
future as an imperative (open thou my lips.) The exact form 
as well as the sense of the original is given in the Prayer Book 
Version (thou shalt open my lips, oh Lord.) Open my lips, i. e. 
enable me to praise thee by affording an occasion, and empower 
me to praise thee, by removing this oppressive sense of guilt, 
which condemns me to perpetual silence. Compare Isai. vi. 5 — 7 
Declare, tell, utter, or proclaim. See above, Ps. xix. 2 (1.) 

IS (16.) For thou desirest net sacrifice, else would I give (if) , 
(in) burnt offering thou delightest net. He now assigns the reason 
why he is determined to requite God's favour by becoming praise 
The literal translation of the first clause is, thou wilt not desire 
sacrifice, and I will give (it), i. e. but if thou dost desire it, I will 
give it. By sacrifice we must here understand the mere material 
oblation, apart from the penitent and thankful spirit, of which it 
was the required expression. See above, on Ps. xl. 7 (6.) 
The parallel terms, sacrifice and burnt -offering, are commonly 
regarded as generic and specific expressions of the same idea. 
But some interpreters deny that they are ever confounded or 
promiscuously used, and give the first the sense of th Term gs. 


which are then joined with expiatory offerings, as a general de- 
scription of all animal oblations. 

19 (17.) The sacrifices of God (are) a broken spirit ; a heart 
broken and crushed, (oh) God, thou wilt not despise. These are 
natural and perfectly intelligible figures for profound and sub- 
missive sorrow on account of sin. There is great significance and 
beauty in what seems at first to be a solecism in the language of 
the first clause. The sacrifice of God is a broken spirit might 
seem to be a more correct expression ; but it would hare failed to 
suggest the striking and important thought, that one such heart 
or spirit is equivalent to all the various and complicated sacrifices 
of the ritual. The sacrifices of God are those which he requires 
and is willing to accept The use of the word contrite in the 
English versions mars the beauty of the metaphor, because that 
term is confined to the dialect of theology, whereas the Latin 
contritum, from which it was borrowed, as well as the original 
expression, exactly corresponds to broken, both in its literal and 
figurative usage. Thou wilt not despise, when it is offered, and 
especially when I present it, as the solemn expression of my 
thanks for this deliverance. The substitution of the present for 
the future would both weaken and obscure the sentence, and the 
same consideration might be urged in favor of a strict translation 
in the verse preceding. So far is a habitual sorrow for sin from 
being inconsistent with the joy of God's salvation, that David 
here engages to present it as a perpetual thank-offering. Com- 
pare the language of Hezekiah, Isai. xxxviii. 15. 

20 (18.) Do good, in thy favour, to Zion ; thou wilt build the 
walls of Jerusalem. From his own personal necessities his mind 
now passes to those of the whole church, of which he was the 
visible head and representative, thereby implying that his sense of 
guilt and danger had been aggravated by the thought of his official 
relation to God's people, who must have shared in his disgrace 


and punishment. See above, on Ps. iii. 4 (3.) iv. 3 (2.) The 
change of constriction from the imperative to the future marks a 
natural transition from importunate desire to confident anticipa- 
tion. See above, on vs. 9 — 11 (7 — 9.) This delicate transition 
there is surely no need of obliterating by a gratuitous assimilation 
of the moods and tenses. The building of the walls is a poetical 
parallel to doing good or showing favour, and the opposite of 
dismantling in Ps. Ixxxix : 41 (40.) 

21 (19.) Then shall thou be pleased with sacrifices of right- 
eousness, bur nt -offering and holocaust ; then shall they offer on 
thine altar bullocks. Then, i. e. when thou hast done good to 
Zion and fortified Jerusalem. Sacrifices of righteousness, right- 
eous or right sacrifices. See above, on Ps. iv : 6 (5.) Some 
have inferred from this verse, that the psalm was written in the 
Babylonish exile, when the temple was in ruins and the ceremo- 
nial law suspended, and that the Psalmist here anticipates the 
time when both should be restored. But this is forbidden by his 
saying, in v. 18 (16), that if God desired burnt offerings he would 
give them, plainly implying the continued observance of the 
sacrificial system. There is no ground, therefore, for disputing 
either the correctness of the title, which ascribes the psalm 
to David, or the genuineness of the last two verses, which some 
have rejected as an addition by a later hand. These verses are 
not only appropriate but necessary as a conclusion to the psalm, 
and every difficulty is removed by giving them their natural but 
figurative meaning, as an expression of desire and hope that God 
would favour his own people and graciously accept their service. 
Holocaust is here used to translate a single Hebrew word, mean- 
ing a sacrifice entirely consume! upon the altar. It does not 
describe something wholly distinct from the burnt offering, but 
the burnt offering itself considered as a complete and unreserved 
oblation. See 1 Sam. vii. 9. Bullocks are mentioned as the 
choicest victims in point of species, size, and age. By a slight 


change of construction we obtain the bold and striking declaration 
that the bullocks shall themselves ascend the altar, i. e. as a 
living and spontaneous sacrifice. Compare Isai. lx. 7. 


This psalm, besides the title, vs. 1, 2, contains three stanzas 
of three verses each. In the first, the Psalmist expostulates 
with an arrogant, cruel, and deceitful enemy, vs. 3 — 5 (1 — 3.) 
In the second, he foretells the destruction of this enemy by the 
divine judgments, and the contempt to be excited by his folly, 
vs. 6 — 8 (4 — 6.) In the third, he contrasts this fatal fruit of 
unbelief with the happy effects of his own trust in God, vs. 9 — 11 
(7 — 9.) The two Selahs in vs. 5, 7 (3, 5), have reference not 
so much to the form of the psalm as to the feelings of the 
Psalmist, and are therefore placed irregularly. See above, on 
Ps. iii. 3 (2.) The variation of the English and the Hebrew 
Bible, in numbering the verses of this psalm, is the same, and 
arises from the same cause, as in the fifty-first. 

1. To the Chief Musician. Maschil. By David. The 
psalm is expressly designated as a Maschil or didactic psalm, 
because its adaptation to this purpose might very easily be over- 
looked, in consequence of its avowed relation to a particular 
event in David's history. See above, on Ps. xxxii. 1. xlii. 1. 
xlv. 1. Though occasioned by this incident, however, it was 
written for the permanent and public use of the ancient church, 
and is therefore inscribed to (or for) the Chief Musician. Seo 
above, on Ps iv 1 li. 1. 

PSALM Lll 13 

2. When Doeg the Edomite came and told Saul, and said 
unto him, David is come to the house of Ahimelech. This is 
merely the beginning of the story, which is supposed to be 
familiar to the reader of the psalm, and which is given at length 
in 1 Sam. xxii. Doeg is mentioned only as the witness or in- 
former, by whose means -the matter came to Saul's knowledge. 
When he came, literally, in his coming, the same form of expres- 
sion as in Ps. li. 2. 

3 (1.) Why wilt thou boast thyself in evil, mighty (man)? 
The mercy of the Almighty (is) all the day. The future form of 
the verb suggests the idea of obstinate persistency. Boast thy- 
self in evil, exult or triumph in the injury of others. The 
mighty man is not Doeg but Saul, who, of all the characters in 
sacred history, approaches nearest to the classical idea of a hero. 
There is something therefore of respect and admiration implied 
in the address, as if lie had said, i How can one who might have 
been so eminent in well-doing, glory in his shame or boast himself 
in evil?' In the last clause there is an obvious antithesis be- 
tween the malice of this mighty man and the unfailing goodness 
of the mighty God. The particular divine name here used 
therefore is peculiarly significant. See above, on Ps. v. 5 (4.) 
1. 1. As if he had said, i Mighty and malicious as thou art, the 
might and mercy of Jehovah are still greater.' All the day, i. e 
perpetual, unceasing. See above, on Ps. xlii. 11 (10.) 

4 (2.) Mischiefs ivill thy tongue devise, like a razor whetted, 
working deceitfully. The first word means calamitous events, 
brought on one man by the malice of another. See above, on 
Ps. v. 10 (9.) xxxviii. 13 (12), and below, on Ps. lvii. 2 (1.) The 
distinctive meaning of the future is the same as in v. 3 (1.) 
The tongue is here said to meditate or devise mischief, because 
it is personified, or poetically substituted for the speaker. The 
allusion is to Saul's cutting; words when he accused Ahimelech 


and David of conspiracy against him (1 Sain. xxii. 13.) This 
false charge, or the tongue which uttered it, is likened to a 
razor, not merely sharp but sharpened, whetted, for the purpose 
or occasion. See above, on Ps. xlv. 6 (5.) Similar comparisons 
occur in Ps. lv. 22 (21.) .lvii. 5 (4.) lix. 8 (7.) lxiv. 4(3.) Jer. 
ix. 2, 7 (3, 8.) -Working deceitfully, literally, deceit or fraud. 
These words may be grammatically referred to the speaker or his 
tongue as practising deceit ; but it yields a more striking sense to 
understand them of the razor, as working deceitfully, i. e. mov- 
ing silently and smoothly, when it cuts most keenly. 

5. Thou hast loved evil (more) than good, falsehood (more) than 
speaking righteousness. The past tense, like the futures in the 
foregoing verses, includes the idea of the present ; but unlike 
them, it represents the love of sin as already long-continued and 
habitual. Compare the form of expression with that in Ps. xlv. 
S (7.) Righteousness includes truth or veracity, as the genus 
comprehends the species. The particular unrighteousness here 
meant is falsehood, as appears from the antithesis. The selah 
tacitly suggests the writer's abhorrence of that which he de- 

6 (4.) Thou hast loved all devouring words, tongue of fraud. 
This is not so much a continuation of the foregoing discourse, 
as a resumption or recapitulation for the purpose of drawing a 
conclusion from it. In periodic style, the connection of the ideas 
ini<?ht be thus exhibited : c Since then thou lovest, etc., therefore 
God will, etc' Devouring words, literally, words of swallowing 
or deglutition. The second noun occurs only here ; but the 
verb to swallow up is continually used in Hebrew to express the 
idea of complete destruction. See above, on Ps. xxi. 10(9.) 
xxxv. 25. Tongue of deceit or deceitful tongue. This phrase 
may be governed by the verb, thou hast loved all devouring 
words (and or even) a deceitful tongue. But it adds to the 


strength of the expression, and agrees better with the form of 
the context, to make it an apostrophe or direct address to the 
deceitful tonorie itself. 

7(5.) (So) likewise shall God destroy thee forever ; he shall 
take thee away, and pluck thee out of (thy) tent, and root thee 
out of the land of life. Selah. The particle at the beginning, 
also, likewise, shows the dependence of this verse upon the one 
before it, which is really conditional, though not in form. ' As 
thou, on thy part, lovest all devouring words, so likewise God, 
on bis part, will destroy thee.' No exact translation can convey 
the full force of the verbs in this verse, which suggest a variety 
of striking figures for destruction or extermination. The first 
denotes properly the act of pulling down or demolishing a house 
(Lev. xiv. 45), and this would also seem to be the primary mean- 
ing of the third (Prov. xv. 25), although some suppose it to 
denote the act of pulling up, and to be the opposite of plant, as 
the first verb is of build. The second verb, in every other place 
where it occurs, has reference to the handling and carrying of 
fire or coals. See Prov. vi. 27. xxv. 22. Isai. xxx. 14. To a 
Hebrew reader, therefore, it would almost necessarily suggest 
not the general idea of removal merely, but the specific one of 
removing or taking away like fire, i. e. as coals are .swept out 
from a hearth, or otherwise extinguished. The remaining verb 
adds to these figures that of violent eradication, and is well re- 
presented by its English equivalent. The land of life, or, as it 
is commonly translated, land of the living, is a poetical descrip- 
tion of life itself, or the present state of existence, under the 
figure of a country. See above, on Ps. xxvii. 13. The quick 
recurrence of the pause implies excited feeling and invites atten- 
tion to the threatening which immediately precedes. 

8 (6.) And the righteous shall see, and they shall fear, and 
at him they shall laugh. The fear meant is that religious awe 
produced by any clear manifestation of God's presence and his 


power. In Ps. lxiv. 9, 10 (8, 9), it is assumed to be compatible 
with joy, and here with laughter at the wicked, not a selfish 
exultation in his sufferings, which is explicitly condemned in the 
Old Testament (Prov. xxiv. 17. Job xxxi. 29), but that sense of 
the absurdity of sin, which must be strongest in the purest 
minds, and cannot therefore be incompatible with pity, the 
rather as it is ascribed to God himself (Ps. ii. 4.) The parono 
masia of the verbs translated see and fear is the same as in Ps 
xl. 4 (3.) Shall see , i. e. the destruction threatened in v. 7 (6.) 
At him, the person thus destroyed, the same who is addressed 
directly in the foregoing context. The enallage personae may be 
avoided by exchanging at him for at it, i. e. the destruction it- 
self; but this is not so agreeable to Hebrew usage, which always 
prefers pergonal to abstract forms of speech. 

9 (7.) Behold the man (who) will not make God his strength, 
hit icill trust in the increase of his wealth, (and) will he 
strong in his wickedness. This may be regarded as the lan- 
guage of the laughers mentioned in v. 8 (6.) Behold the man, 
see to what he is reduced. The effect of the behold is similar to 
that of the interrogation in Isai. xiv. 16. The word translated 
man is not one of the usual terms, but one implying strength 
or power, so that its use here gives a kind of sarcastic import to 
the passage. See the analogous use of an opposite expression in 
Ps. viii. 5 (4.) x. 18. The future expresses fixed determination 
and anticipated perseverance in refusing. Make, literally, place 
or set. See above, on Ps. xl. 5 (4.) His strength, or more ex- 
actly, his stronghold or fortress. See above, on Ps. xxvii. 1. 
xxxvii. 39. xliii. 2. Increase, or simply, abundance, greatness. 
See above, on Ps. v. 8 (7.) Ii. 3 (1.) The word translated 
wickedness is the singular of that translated mischiefs in v. 4 (2) 
above. It seems to signify particularly an inclination to mali- 
cious mischief. 



10 (8.) And I (am) like a green olive-tree in the house of God , 
I have trusted in the mercy of God (to) eternity and perpetuity 
He expects not only the destruction of the wicked but his own 
salvation. To express the connection of the verses clearly, our 
idiom would require an adversative particle at the beginning, but 
I. See above, on Ps. ii. 6. A verdant fruitful tree is a favour- 
ite emblem of prosperity. See above, on Ps. i. 3. The olive is 
here specified, as palms and cedars are in Ps. xcii. 13, 14 
(12, 13.) The imagery of the verse before us is copied in Jer. 
xi. 16. The house of God, the tabernacle, considered as his 
earthly residence, in which he entertains his friends and provides 
for his own household. See above, on Ps. xv. 1. xxiii. 6. xxvii. 
4, 5. xxxvi. 9 (8.) The mixed metaphors only show that the 
whole description is a figurative one and should be so interpreted. 
I have (already) trusted, which includes his present trust, but 
also includes more, to wit, that it is not a new or sudden impulse, 
but a settled habit of his soul. The two nouns, eternity and per- 
petuity, are combined in the adverbial sense of forever and ever. 
See above, on Ps. x. 16. xxi. 5 (4.) xlv. 7 (6.) xlviii. 15 (14.) This 
qualifying phrase relates, not to the act, but to the object, of his 
trust. His meaning is not, ' I will trust forever in God's mercy,' 
which would have required a future verb ; but, ' I have already 
trusted, and do still trust, in his mercy, as a mercy that will last 

11 (9.) J will thank thee to eternity because thou hast done (it), 
and will hope (in) thy name — because it is good — before thy saints. 
The common version of the first verb (praise) is not sufficiently 
specific, as it properly denotes a particular kind of praise, 
namely, that for benefits received. See above, on Ps. vi. 6 (5.) 
vii. 18 (17.) xiix. 19 (18.) The object of the verb hast done 
is to be supplied from the context. See above, on Ps. xxii 
32 (31.) xxxvii. 5. xxxix. 10 (9.) Thy name, the manifesta- 
tion of thy nature. See above, on Ps. v. 12 (11.) xx. 2 (1.) 


xxiii. 3. xlviii. 11 (10.) To expect God's name, or wait for it, 
is to trust in the future exercise and exhibition of the same 
divine perfections which have been exhibited already. The com- 
mon version, I will wait on thy name, is not so happy as the one 
in the Prayer Book, I loill hope- in thy name. Here again, as in 
v. 10 (8), the epexegetical clause, for it is good, relates not to 
the act of expectation but its object. He does not mean, ' be- 
cause it is good to hope in thy name,' but l because thy name is 
good, and is therefore to be hoped in.' This is clear from the 
analogy of Ps. liv. 8 (6.) lxix. 17 (16.) cix. 21, which also 
shows that the concluding words, before thy saints, are to be con- 
strued neither with what follows, 'it is good before thy saints i. e. 
in their estimation, nor with the remoter antecedent I will 
thank thee, but with the nearer antecedent, I will wait for thy 
name before thy saints, i. e. I will profess my trust in thy mercy, 
not in private merely, but in the presence of thy people, of the 
church. Compare Ps. xxii. 23 (22.) For it is good must then 
be read as a parenthesis. Thy saints, the merciful objects of 
thy mercy. See above, on Ps. iv. 4 (3.) 1. 5. It is here used 
simply as a general designation or description of God's people. 



A second edition of the fourteenth psalm, with variations, 
more or less important, in each verse. That either of these 
compositions is an incorrect copy of the other, is highly improba- 
ble, because two such copies of the same psalm would not have 
been retained in the collection, and because the variations are too 
uniform, consistent, and significant, to be the work of chance or 


mere traditional corruption. That the changes were deliberately 
made by a later writer is improbable, because such a liberty 
would hardly have been taken with a psalm of David, and because 
the later form, in that case, would either have been excluded 
from the Psalter, or substituted for the first form, or immediately 
connected with it. The only satisfactory hypothesis is, that the 
original author afterwards rewrote it, with such modifications as 
were necessary to bring out certain points distinctly, but without 
any intention to supersede the use of the original composition, 
which therefore still retains its place in the collection. This 
supposition is confirmed by the titles, which ascribe both psalms 
to David. Of this kind of rctractatio, which is not unknown to 
the practice of uninspired hymnologists, we have already met 
with a remarkable example in the case of David. See above, the 
concluding note on Ps. xviii, vol. 1. p. 153. As a general fact, 
it may be stated, that the variations in the psalm before us are 
such as render the expression stronger, bolder, and in one or two 
cases more obscure and difficult. To these variations the remarks 
which follow will be restricted. For the exposition of the parts 
which are common to both psalms, the reader is referred to that 
of Ps. xiv. 

1. To the Chief Musician — upon Mahalath — Maschil — hy 
David. Between the inscription to the Chief Musician and the 
name of David, which are also found at" the beffinnins: of Ps. xiv, 
we have here two additional expressions. The first of these is by 
some regarded as the name or description of an instrument ; but 
as it is so used nowhere else, and as forms almost identical occur 
more than once in the sense of sickness or disease, (Ex. xv 26. 
Prov. xviii. 14. 2 Chr. xxi. 15), it seems most natural to take 
the phrase as an enigmatical enunciation of the subject of the 
psalm, which is in strict accordance both with general usage and 
with that of David in particular. See above, on Ps. v. 1. xxii. 
1. xiv. 1. By disease we may then understand the spiritual 


malady with which mankind are all infected, and which is really 
the theme or subject of the composition. In the only other title 
where it reappears (Ps. lxxxviii. 1), it denotes corporeal disease. 
The other addition (jnaschil) describes the psalm as a didactic 
one. See above, on Ps. lii. 1 

2 (1.) The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God 
They have done corruptly, they have done abominable wickedness , 
there is none doing good. See above, on Ps. xiv. 1. The only 
variation in this verse is the substitution of (bis) iniquity for 
(~Ws) deed or act. Instead of saying, they have made (their) 
conduct abominable, the Psalmist uses the stronger expression, 
they have made iniquity abominable, or done abominably (in their) 

3 (2.) God from heaven has looked down on the sons of man, 
to see if there is (any) acting wisely, seeking God. See above, 
on Ps. xiv. 2. The only difference in the Hebrew of these 
verses is that the name Elohim is here substituted for Jehovah. 
The same change occurs below, in vs. 5, 6, 7 (4, 5, 6.) The 
name Jehovah is not used at all in the psalm before us, but occurs 
four times in Ps. xiv, and Elohim thrice. This difference seems 
to mark Ps. liii as the later composition, in which the writer 
aimed at an external uniformity, which did not occur to him at 
first. This is a much more natural supposition than that he 
afterwards varied what was uniform at first. The attempts which 
have been made to account, still more particularly, for the use of 
the divine names in these two psalms, have entirely failed. 

4 (3.) All of it has apostatized ; together (hey have putrefied ; 
there is none doing good ; there is not even one. See above, on 
Ps. xiv. 3. For all of it we there have the whole, i. e. the whole 
human race. The same thing seems to be intended by the more 
obscure phrase, all of it, in which the pronoun may refer to 


man, in the collective sense of mankind or the human race. The 
idea of departure from God, apostasy, is expressed in the parallel 
places by two verbs almost identical in form (-|3 and as), the one 
of which means properly to turn aside and the other to turn 

5 (4.) Do they not know — (these)- workers of iniquity — 
eating my people (as) they eat bread— (and on) God call not ? 
See above, on Ps. xiv. 4. The only variation here, besides the 
change of the divine name which has been already mentioned, is 
the omission of the all before workers of iniquity. This has been 
noted by some critics as the only case in which the language of 
the fourteenth psalm is stronger than the parallel expression of 
the fifty-third. 

6 (5.) There have they feared a fear, because God hath 
scattered the bones of thy besieger ; thou hast put (them) to shame, 
because God hath rejected them. See above, on Ps. xiv. 5, 6. 
The design to strengthen the expression is particularly clear in 
this case, where two verses are compressed into one, and the other 
changes all enhance the emphasis. Thus instead of a general 
assurance of divine protection, God is in the righteous generation, 
we have here a description of their enemies' destruction, in the 
most poetical and striking terms, God hath scattered the bones of 
thy besieger, literally, thy emampcr, him that encampeth against 
thee. So too instead of the complaint, that the wicked treat the 
faith of pious sufferers with contempt — the counsel of the sufferer 
ye will shame because Jehovah is his refuge — we have here the 
tables turned upon the scoffers by the scorn both of God and 
man — thou hast put to shame (the individuals included in the 
collective phrase thy besieger), because God his rejected them, an 
act implying both abhorrence and contempt. In this, which is 
by far the most considerable variation of the two editions, the 
existence of design is so apparent, that the supposition of an in- 


advertent or fortuitous corruption seems preposterous. So fai 
are the two psalms from being contradictory or even inconsistent, 
that they might be sung together, by alternate or responsive 
choirs, with the happiest effect. Nothing can be more natural, 
therefore, than the supposition that David gave the psalm this 
new shape, to express the same essential feelings in a higher degree 
and a more emphatic form. 

7 (6.) Who ivill give out of Zion salvations \to) Israel — in 
God's returning (to) the captivity of his people — let Jacob exult, 
let Israel joy ! See above, on Ps. xiv. 7. .The only variations 
are the change of Jehovah to Elohim, and of the singular 
salvation to its plural, denoting variety and fulness. See above, 
on Ps. xviii. 51 (50.) The exact translation is, salvations of 
Israel, and the meaning of the next clause, i when God revisits, 
(or in God's revisiting) his captive people.' 


1. To the Chief Musician. With (or on) stringed instruments. 
A didactic psalm. By David. This is the title of Ps. iv, but 
with a change of the generic term mizmor to the specific one 
maschil. See above, on Ps. liii. 1. According to some modern in- 
terpreters, the plural neginoth does not denote a plurality of stringed 
instruments, but simply that kind of music, with its complex 
variety of tones. The psalm consists of a prayer for deliverance 
from wicked enemies, vs. 3 — 5 (1 — 3), with a confident antici- 


pation of success and a promise of thanksgiving, vs. 6 — 9 (4 — 7.) 
As to the numbering of the verses, see abo\e, on Ps. li. l.-lii 1. 

2. In the coming of the Ziphites, and they said to Saul] (Is) 
not David hiding himself with us ? The verse gives the histori 
cal occasion of the composition, in the same form as in the titles 
of Ps. li and Hi. Such an occurrence is twice recorded in the 
history, 1 Sam. xxiii. 19. xxvi. 1. The verbal coincidence is 
greater in the first case. The words of the Ziphites seem to 
have been remembered on account of some peculiarity in the 
expression, perhaps the use of the reflexive participle ("tfaflDft) 
which remains unchanged in all three places, the earliest of 
which is probably the one before us. The interrogation im- 
plies surprise that Saul should be ignorant of what was so noto- 
rious. Hiding himself, now engaged in doing so, not merely 
wont to do so, or already hidden. With us, among us, or in our 
land, i. e. the wilderness or pasture-ground of Ziph, (1 Sam. 
xxiii. 14, 15,) in or near which was a town of the same name 
(Josh. xv. 55, 2 Chron. xi. 8,) the ruins of which are thought 
to be still visible, not far from what the natives call Tell Ziph or 
the Hill of Ziph. (Robinson's Palestine, II. 191.) 

3 (1.) Oh God, by thy name save me, and by thy might thou 
wilt judge me. The insensible transition from the imperative to 
the future shows the confidence with which the prayer is offered. 
By thy name, i. e. the exercise of those perfections which have 
been already manifested. See above, on Ps. lii. 11 (9.) That 
it is not a mere periphrasis for God himself, is clear from the 
parallel expression, might or power. Judge me, do me justice, 
vindicate my innocence, by saving me from spiteful enemies and 
false accusers. See above, on Ps. vii. 9 (8.) xxvi. 1 

4 (2.) Oh God, hear my prayer, give ear to the sayings of 
my mouth. See above, on Ps. iv. 2 (1.) v. 2 (1.) 


5 (3.) For strangers are risen up against me, and oppressors 
seek my soul (or life) ; they have not set God before them. Selah. 
To the earnest petitions in the two preceding verses, he now adds 
a particular description of his danger. Strangers, not foreigners, 
but aliens in spirit, both to him and to Jehovah, with special re- 
ference to Saul. See below, on Ps. cxx. 5. Oppressors, perse- 
cutors, tyrants. The original expression implies the possession of 
power and its lawless exercise. See above, on Ps. xxxvii. 35. 
Not to set Gcd before them is to act as if they did not remem- 
ber or believe in his existence and his presence. The Selah indi- 
cates a pause of indignation and abhorrence. See above, on Ps. 
lii. 5 (3.) 

6 (4, ) Behold, God (is) a helper for me ; the Lord is among 
the upholders of my soul. From the party of his enemies he 
looks to that of his defenders, and joyfully recognizes God, not 
merely with, but in (the midst of) them, among them. The 5e- 
hold is expressive of surprise, and at the same time of a perspi- 
cacious faith. With the form of expression in the first clause, 
compare Ps. xxx. 11 (10) ; with the second Ps. cxviii. 7. Judg. 
xi. 35. The upholders of his soul are the defenders of his life 
against those who seek it. See above, v. 5 (3.) Adhonai, the 
divine name properly translated Lord, because expressive of God's 
sovereignty. It is peculiarly appropriate here, where he is claim' 
ing God as his protector. 

7 (5.) The evil shall return to my enemies; in thy truth de- 
stroy them. The future here runs into the imperative, as the 
imperative does into the future, in v. 3 (1) above. The impera- 
tive in this case is only a stronger form of prediction. The evil, 
which they mean to do me. Return to or upon them, i. e. shall 
befall themselves. See above, on Ps. vii. 17 (16.) This is the 
sense required by the reading in the text (sw), which the mo- 
dern critics commonly regard as the most ancient. The mar- 



ginal or masoretic reading (^ia->) must be rendered, he will cause 
to return, repay, requite. Thy truth, the truth of thy promises 
and threatenings, thy veracity. See above, on Ps. xxx. 10 (9.) 
The certain foresight of the doom of the wicked, which is ex- 
pressed in the first clause, makes the prayer (if such it be con- 
sidered) in the first clause, a mere iteration of the previous 
threatening. A prayer that God will do what we are certain that 
he will do can be little more than an expression of that certainty. 
See above, on Ps. v. 11 (10.) 

8 (6) TVith a free-will-offering will I sacrifice unto thee; I 
will praise thy name, Jehovah, for it is good. In the confident 
assurance of a favourable answer to his prayer, he promises a suit- 
able acknowledgment. See above, on Ps. v. 8 (7.) Afree-ivill 
or voluntary offering, as opposed to one prescribed by law, not to 
one rendered obligatory by a vow, for then a voluntary offering 
would in this case be impossible. The Hebrew word is the tech- 
nical term applied to such an offering in the Law. See Lev. vii. 
16. xxii. 23, and compare Ex. xxv. 2. xxxv. 29, Num. xv. 3. 
With the last clause compare Ps. lii. 11 (9.)" 

9 (7.) For out of all distress he hath delivered me, and on my 
enemies my eye has looked. In his confident assurance of a favour- 
able issue, he speaks of it, though future, as already past. The 
sudden change of person may' be avoided by translating the first 
verb, it (i. e. thy name) has delivered me, according to the prayer 
in v. 3 (1.) My eye has looked or gazed, with an implication of 
delight, or at least n acquiescence, which is commonly conveyed 
by this construction. See above, on Ps. 1. 23. This kind of sat- 
isfaction in the execution of God's threatenings is sinful only 
when combined with selfish malignity. Apart from this corrupt 
admixture, it is inseparable from conformity of will and coin- 
cidence of judgment with God. The same kind and degree of 
acquiescence which is felt by holy angels in heaven may surely be 



expressed by saints on earth, especially in their collective capa- 
city as a church, in whose name the psalmist is here speaking, 
and not merely in his own or that of any other individual. 


1. To the Chief Musician. With (or on) stringed instruments. 
A Didactic Psalm. By David. The psalm is designated as a 
Maschil, because it might at first sight seem to have relation 
merely to a case of personal maltreatment and distress, whereas 
it is a general description of the sufferings of God's people, or 
the righteous as a class, at the hands of false friends and malig- 
nant enemies. Although there seem to be allusions to the 
writer's own experience, in the times both of Saul and Absalom, 
the whole description can be applied exclusively to neither. The 
only natural division of the psalm is the one suggested by the 
fact, that in the first part the sufferer complains of his enemies 
in general, vs. 2 — 12 (1 — 11) ; in the second, he singles out the 
case of one who had seemed to be his friend, but treacherously 
turned against him, vs. 13 — 16 (12 — 15) ; in the third, he con- 
fidently anticipates his own deliverance and the destruction of his 
enemies, vs. 17 — 26 (16 — 25.) 

2 (1.) Give ear, oh God, to my prayer, and hide not thyself 
from my supplication. This is the general introductory petition, 
which is afterwards amplified and rendered more specific. The 
last word strictly means a cry or prayer for mercy. See above, on 
Ps. vi. 10 (9.) To hide one's self is an expression used in the Law 


to describe the act of wilfully withholding aid from one who 
needs it. See Deut. xxii. 1 — 4, and compare Isai. lviii. 7. 

3 (2.) Hearken to me and answer me; I will give loose to my 
thought, and I will make a noise. The first verb means to attend, 
especially to one speaking, to listen, to hearken. See above, on 
Ps v. 3 (2.) s. 17. xvii. 1. Answer or hear, in the sense of 
receiving a prayer favourably. See above, on Ps. iii. 5 (4.) 
xxxviii. 16 (15.) The literal translation of the next words is, 1 
will suffer to wander in my thinking, i. e. I will let my mind wan- 
der, or my thoughts rove as they will. He is resolved not only 
to think freely but to express his thoughts aloud. The same use 
of the Hebrew verb occurs in Micah ii. 12. The thinking or 
meditation here meant is reflection on his sufferings, to which the 
Hebrew verb is specially applied. With the whole verse, and 
with this clause in particular, compare Job vii. 11. 

4 (3.) From the voice of the enemy, from before the persecution 
of the wicked ; for they will shake over me iniquity, and in wrath 
will oppose me. He now declares from what his distress arises. 
The preposition, in Hebrew as in English, has a causal meaning, 
or at least suggests a relation of cause and effect. From the 
voice, i. e. because of it. From before or from the face conveys 
the same idea still more strongly, by a kind of personification of 
the evil dreaded. Persecution of the wicked : compare the oppres- 
sion of the enemy, in Ps. xlii. 10 (9.) Shake over me, or cause 
to slide upon me, a striking figure for the wilful infliction of evil 
on another. Iniquity may here be put, as it sometimes is, for 
active wickedness towards others, the cause of suffering rather 
than suffering itself. With this clause compare Ps. xli. 9 (8.) 
Oppose me, be my adversaries, whether in the way of resistance 
or assault. The Hebrew verb is a cognate form to that from 
which comes Satan or the Adversary. 


5 (4.) My heart writhes in the midst of me, and terrors of death 
have fallen upon me. The future form of the first verb implies 
an apprehension that the pain will continue and be permanent 
In the midst of me, inside of me, within me. He is not merely 
involved in outward troubles, but pained at heart. Terrors of 
death might be strictlv understood as meaning fear or dread of 
death ; but it agrees better with the strong figurative language of 
the first clause, to take it in the sense of deadly, mortal terrors. 
An analogous expression is death-shade or shadow of death. See 
above, on Ps. xxiii. 4. xliv. 20 (19.) The figure of falling neces- 
sarily suggests the idea of infliction by a superior power. 

6 (5.) Fear and trembling enter into me, and horror hath cov- 
ered me. The future in the first clause represents the action as 
not yet completed, and might be rendered, they are entering or 
about to enter. The Hebrew verb with this preposition denotes 
more than come upon ; it describes the terror as not only on hiin 
but within him. The word translated horror is a stronger 
synonyme of trembling, and might be translated shuddering or a 
shudder. Covered me, i. e. overspread or overwhelmed me. 

7 (6.) And I said, who will give me a pinion like the dove ? I 
will fly away and be at rest. This is equivalent to saying, if I 
had the pinions of a dove, I would fly away, etc. Who will 
give is an idiomatic optative expression, tantamount to saying, 
oh thai I had, etc. See above, on Ps. xiv. 7. The word trans- 
lated pinion properly denotes the penna major or flag-feather of a 
bird's wing, and is here put poetically for the wings themselves 
The two last verbs are in the paragogic or augmented form, ex- 
pressing strong desire or settled purpose. See above, on Ps. ii. 3. 
The last verb usually means to dwell, but has either the primary 
or secondary sense of reposing, resting. See above, on Ps. xxxvii. 
3. The first verb is immediately dependent on the last of the pre- 
ceding verse, a grammatical relation which may be expressed 


tlms in our idiom : ' horror hath covered me so that I say, 

8 (7.) Lo, I will wander far, I will lodge in the wilderness. 
Selah. The lo or behold is tantamount to pointing with the finger, 
or to saying there ! see there ! The next phrase is highly idiomatic 
and literally means, ' I will make remote to wander.' To lodge 
is here to take up one's abode, to dwell, as in Ps. xxv. 13. The 
loildemess, not necessarily a barren desert, but an uninhabited 
region, the essential idea here being that of separation from 
human society, a strong though indirect mode of affirming its 
extreme corruption. The strength of the feeling which prompted 
this desire is indicated by a solemn pause. 

9 (S.) I will hasten my escape from rushing wind, from 
tempest. Another construction of the first clause makes the verb 
intransitive and the noun a local one, as indicated by its form, I 
will hasten (to) my refuge. It is better, however, to give the 
hiphil verb its proper meaning, and nouns of the form here used 
denote not only the place of action but the act itself. My escape, 
literally, an escape for me or for myself. The preposition in the 
last clause, though it properly means from, is constantly employed 
in Hebrew to denote or indicate comparison. If thus explained 
in this case, it would make the clause descriptive of the speed 
with which he wishes to escape, more than the rushing wind and 
tempest. This sense is preferred by some interpreters ; but the 
other is more obvious and simple, and is also recommended by 
the frequent representation of calamity under the figure of a 
storm or tempest, which would hardly have been joined with that 
of wind, if the only idea meant to be conveyed had been that of 
great velocity. 

10 (9.) Destroy, oh Lord, divide their tongue ; for I havt 
%mi violence and strife in the city. The first word properly means 


swallow up. See above, on Ps. xxi. 10 (9.) The object to be 
supplied is not their tongue but themselves. Divide their tongue, 
i. e. confound their speech or make it unintelligible, and as a 
necessary consequence confound their counsels. There is obvious 
reference to the confusion of tongues at Babel (Gen. xi. 7 — 9), 
as a great historical example of the way in which God is accus- 
tomed and determined to defeat the purposes of wicked men and 
execute his own. The word .translated cruelty denotes violent 
injustice, or injustice accompanied by violence. See above, on 
Ps. vii. 17 (16.) In the city is supposed by some to mean 
nothing more than among men, in human society ; but the words 
could hardly fail to suggest to any Hebrew reader the idea of the 
holy city, as the place directly meant, although the words them- 
selves may be applied to any other place where the same state of 
things exists. 

11 (10.) Day and night they will surround her on her walls ; 
and iniquity and trouble {will be) in the midst of her. The 
Violence and Strife of the preceding verse are here personified as 
a besieging enemy. At the same time the interior is occupied by 
Iniquity and Trouble, no less formidable enemies. Her walls, those 
of the city mentioned in the foregoing verse. Iniquity and trouble 
are here, and often elsewhere, put together as cause and effect, the 
last denoting the distress or trouble, which the wickedness of one 
man brings upon another. See above, on Ps. vii. 15 (14.) 

12 (11.) Mischiefs (are) in the midst of her, and from her 
street will not depart oppression and deceit. The first word in 
Hebrew necessarily suggests the two ideas of calamities and 
crimes, i. e. calamities occasioned by the crimes of others. See 
above, on Ps. v. 10 (9.) xxxviii. 13 (12.) lii. 4, 9 (2, 7.) The 
word translated street denotes a wide place and is specially applied 
to the square or open space surrounding the gates of oriental 
r^ties, ar.rf* ised both for markets and for courts of justice. See 


Neh. viii. 1, 3, 16. The word therefore very nearly corresponds 
to the Greek agora and the Latin forum, and may be here used 
to suggest the idea both of legal and commercial malfeasance. 
Neither their markets nor their courts are ever free from these 
two forms of gross injustice, namely, fraud and violence. 

13 (12.) For (it is) not an enemy (that) will revile me, else 
would I bear it ; (it is) not one hating me (that) has magnified 
(himself) against me, else would I hide myself from him. The 
Hebrew word answering to else, is, in both these cases, the usual 
copulative particle, and the original construction seems to be, 
and (if it is) I will bear it, and (if it is) I will hide myself. See 
above, on Ps. li. 18 (16.) The act of reviling here includes both 
calumny and insult. The future in the first clause suggests the 
idea of an indignity or injury about to be endured. As if he had 
said, l when I go forth among my neighbours, it is not my open 
enemy that will malign me.' But that such treatment had 
already been experienced, is intimated by the preterite of the last 
clause. The verb to magnify is here used renexively or absolutely, 
as in Ps. xxxv. 26. xxxviii. 15 (16.) There is no need there- 
fore of supposing an ellipsis or identifying this form of expression 
with the one in Ps. xli. 10 (9.) Hide myself, literally be hidden; 
but the passive forms in Hebrew not unfrequently imply a reflex 
act, like the middle voice in Greek. The negation in this verse 
is of course not absolute but relative, and must be qualified by 
due regard to the circumstances of the case. That he was re- 
proached and threatened by avowed enemies, is not only a 
frequent subject of complaint elsewhere, but sufficiently implied 
in v- 4 (3) above. The true solution of this seeming contradic- 
tion is, that he here passes from a general description of the 
prevalent iniquity to a particular case, in which his feelings were 
personally interested. In this particular case, it was not an open 
enemy that slandered or insulted him. It is therefore as if he 
had said, ' but it is not of this open and unblushing wickedness 


that I especially complain , but rather of the perfidy of false 
friends.' Thus understood, the verse, instead of contradicting v 
4 (3), presupposes what is there affirmed. 

14 (13.) But thou, a man mine equal, my associate, my ac- 
quaintance. It is a striking illustration of the difference between 
the Hebrew and English idiom, that the former uses and at the 
beginning of this sentence, where in English but is absolutely 
indispensable. The word for man is that denoting frailty and 
mortality. See above, on Ps. viii. 5 (4.) ix. 20, 21 (19, 20.) 
X. 18. But it seems to be used here without any emphasis, in 
simple apposition with what follows, or as a vocative, thou, oh 
man, mine equal. This last expression is in Hebrew, according 
to my valuation, the noun being a technical term of the Mosaic 
Law, denoting the official estimation of the priest, in certain 
cases of redemption or pecuniary penalty. See Lev. v.. 15, 18. 
xxvii. 12. The whole phrase here employed is understood by 
some to mean one whom I value, i. e. highly, or more specifically, 
one whom I value as myself. More probably, however, it means 
one who is (or may be) estimated at the same rate with myself, 
which is precisely the idea conveyed by the common version, my 
equal, one of my own rank and circle, my associate. This 
last is the sense put by the modern interpreters on the next 
word in Hebrew. The old translation {guide) rests on a doubt- 
ful etymology, and the authority of the ancient versions. (LXX 
rjyeinwv. Vulg. dux.) Acquaintance seems to be a weaker ex- 
pression than the others ; but the Hebrew word always implies 
very intimate association. See above, Ps. xxxi. 12 (11), and 
below, Ps. lxxxviii. 9, 19 (8, 18.) 

15 (14.) (With) whom we take siucet counsel ; in the house of 
God we march with noise. The future forms can only be ac- 
counted for by supposing that he here anticipates a violation 
of the laws of friendship which had not yet visibly occurred. The 



false friend, of whom he is complaining, seems to be one with 
whom he was still intimate, but whose defection he clearly fore- 
saw. As if he had said, ' with this man I must still continue to 
be associated, although he is eventually to betray me.' In this 
particular, the case described resembles that of our Lord and 
Judas Iscariot, which may indeed be considered as included in 
the general description. The form of the first clause is idio- 
matic and peculiar : who (or as to whom) together we will sweeten 
counsel, or rather confidential intercourse. See above, on Ps. 
xxv. 14. The other clause may possibly mean, we march to the 
house of God. But the strict, sense of the particle may be 
retained and the whole referred to solemn processions within the 
sacred enclosure or court of the tabernacle. With noise, i. e. 
with festive tumult. See above, on Ps. xlii. 5 (4.) 

16 (15.) Desolations {are) upon them ! They shall go down 
to Sheol alive ! For evils are in their dwellings, in their heart. 
The optative form given to this sentence in most versions is en- 
tirely gratuitous. All that the Hebrew words express is a con- 
fident anticipation. The common version of the first words (let 
death seize upon them) is founded on the masoretic reading (^'d^ 
rnte) • but the best critics now prefer the older reading in the 
text (rrifc^'Eh) which, instead of a verb and a singular noun, ex- 
hibits one noun in the plural number, meaning desolations, and 
agreeing with the substantive verb understood. Upon them, 
hovering or impending over them. Shed, the grave, the state 
of the dead, the wide old English sense of hell. See above, on 
Ps. vi. 6 (5.) There is an obvious allusion to another great 
historical type of God's retributory judgments, the destruction 
of Korah and his company, who went down alive into the pit, 
Num. xvi. 33. The word quick, in the common English version 
of this sentence, is an adjective synonymous with living or alive, 
and not an adverb meaning soon or siviftly. Evils, i. e. evil 
deeds and evil thoughts. In their heart, or inside,' inner partj as 



m Ps. v. 10 (9 V xlix. 12 (11.) This is a inuch better sense 
than in the midst of them, among them. 

17 (16.) I to God will call, and Jehovah will save me. The 
pronoun is emphatic, I on my part. While they are brought to 
desolation and to death, I, on the contrary, will call to God. If 
the use of two divine names has any significance beyond the re- 
quisitions of the parallelism, the meaning may be, l I will call to 
God, and as the covenant God of Israel he will save me.' Com- 
pare Ps. xviii. 4 (3.) 

IS (17.) Evening and morning and noon I will muse and 
murmur — and he has heard my voice. The first clause is sup- 
posed by some to prove that the observance of three stated hours 
of prayer was as old as David ; others suppose the observance to 
have been suggested by the clause itself. But the natural and ob- 
vious division of the day here mentioned may have given occasion 
both to the clause and the observance. Muse and murmur is a 
' combination descriptive of prayer, both as mentally conceived 
and audibly expressed. Murmur is perhaps not strong enough 
to convey the full sense of the Hebrew verb, which elsewhere 
means to make a loud noise. See above, on Ps. xlii. 6, 12 
(5, 11) xlvi. 4, 7 (3, 6.) The assimilation or confusion of the 
tenses in this verse by some translators is not only arbitrary but 
injurious to the sense. What is mentioned in the first clause as 
still future is recorded in the last clause as already past. As if 
he had said, ' thus did I resolve to pray, and now my prayer has 
been already made and answered.' Such transitions are among 
the characteristic beauties of the Psalter, and ought not to be 
gratuitously sacrificed, still less at the expense of violating 
usage and the rules of grammar. 


19 (18.) He redeemed in 'peace my soul from the war against 
me, for many were, with me. In ^.ace or with peace, as the result 



of this redemption. Against me, literally, tc me, the war that 
was to me, that I had. The last clause, to an English car, con- 
veys the idea that his friends or champions were many but the 
meaning of the Hebrew is directly opposite, with 'me being used 
in such connections to denote a relation of hostility, as we 
speak of fighting, quarrelling, contending with one. In either 
case, the particle expresses really no more than joint or simul- 
taneous action, the idea of enmity or opposition being gathered 
from the context. The literal translation of the last clause is, 
in many were (those) with me, i. e. consisting in many. The ad- 
verse party was composed of many individuals. This usage of 
the in is strictly appropriate only to numerals. See Deut. x. 22 
xxviii. 62. 

20 (T9.) God will hear and answer them, and (He) inhabiting 
antiquity (will hear and answer those) to whom there are no 
changes, and (who) fear not God. As he has heard me in 
mercy, so will he hear them in wrath. As he has answered my 
prayer in the way described above, v. 19 (18), so will he answer 
them in the way described below, v. 24 (23.) In this case, 
what is heard and answered is not prayer, but the voice of the 
enemy, v. 4 (3), and his malignant slanders, v. 13 (12.) In- 
habiting antiquity, or as the English Bible phrases it, he that 
abideth of old. The first Hebrew verb however could not fail to 
suggest its primary meaning, which is to sit, and more especially 
to sit enthroned, as a sovereign and a judge. See above, on Ps. 
ix. 5, 12 (4, 11.) The phrase may therefore be said to repre- 
sent God as having been a king and a judge from the remotest 
antiquity. The last clause is by some supposed to mean, that the 
persons here referred to undergo no moral change, but still per- 
sist in their refusal to fear God ; by others, that they undergo no 
outward changes, no vicissitudes of fortune, and for that reason 
will not fear him. But as the word translated changes is repeat- 
edly employed by Job in a military sense, to signify either an 


alternate service, as for instance in relieving guard, or a succes- 
sion in the service, as when one corps is disbanded and another 
takes its place, some of the best interpreters suppose this clause 
to mean that those enlisted in this evil warfare have no such 
reliefs or discharges to expect, but must continue in the unremit- 
ted service of sin, and as a necessary consequence cannot fear 
God. The grammatical structure of the whole verse is peculiar 
and can be made intelligible only by supplying the ellipses. 

21 (20.) He has stretched out his hands against his allies ; he 
has profaned his covenant. This might seem at first sight to refer 
to God ; but such a reference, if not forbidden by the nature of 
the acts alleged, would be at variance with the subsequent con- 
text, where the subject is undoubtedly the wicked enemy. The 
sudden change of number is in strict accordance with the usage 
of the Psalmists in speaking of their enemies, or in this case may 
arise from the same cause as in v. 13 (12) above. See above, 
on Ps. x. 10. The word translated allies is the plural of one 
meaning peace, but seems to be poetically used here to denote 
those at peace with him, his friends or allies. Compare the 
analogous expressions in Ps. vii. 5 (4.) xli. 10 (9.) To profane 
a covenant is to treat it as no longer sacred, and by implication to 
break it. Compare Isai. xxxiii. S. This is a varied repetition, 
under military figures, of the description in v. 13-15 (12-14.) 

22 (21.) Smooth are the butter ings of his mouth, and (yet) 
war (is in) his heart ; soft are his words, more than oil, and (yet 
even) they are drawn (swords.) To the charge of violence he 
adds that of treacherous hypocrisy, thus amplifying the laconic 
phrase, oppression and deceit, in v. 12 (11) above. The En- 
glish Bible, following some older versions, assimilates the clauses 
by making both comparative, smoother than butter, softer than oil. 
But in order to sustain this construction of the first clause, it is 
necessary to change the pointing of one Hebrew word, and to 


supply another as the nominative of the plural verb, which can- 
not without violence agree with mouth. The letter prefixed to 
the first noun is a part of it, and not a particle meaning than or 
more than, and the whole word denotes preparations of butter, 
cream, or rather curdled milk, which is the meaning f the 
primitive noun. As to the adversative use of and in both these 
clauses, see above, on v. 14 (13.) War (is in) his heart, or 
still more simply, because not requiring the insertion of the par- 
ticle, war (is) his heart, i. e. his cherished wish and purpose. 
The word translated war is a poetical term, the same that is em- 
ployed above in v. 19 (IS.) In the last clause, even is supplied 
as well as yet, in order to convey, as far as possible, the emphasis 
of the Hebrew pronoun. And they themselves, i. e. the very oily 
words just mentioned, are drawn swords. This last expression is 
in Hebrew properly an adjective or participial form, but is speci- 
fically used in application to the sword, as brandished is in Eng- 
lish, and so comes to be employed absolutely or as a substantive, 
expressing the entire complex idea of drawn swords, as weapons 
of attack, ready for use or on the point of being* used forthwith. 

23 (22.) Cast upon Jehovah (what) he gives thee, and he will 
sustain thee; he tvill never suffer the righteous to be moved. 
What he gives thee to endure, what he lays upon thee, cast thou 
upon him, by trusting in him. The phrase he gives thee (or has 
given thee) may also be explained as a noun with a possessive pro- 
noun, thy gift, not in the active sense of what thou givest, but in 
the passive sense of what is given to thee. Sustain does not here 
mean to hold up or support under the burden, but to nourish or 
sustain life by administering food arid other necessaries, to provide 
for. Compare the primitive use of the Hebrew verb in Gen. 
xlv. 11. xlvii. 12. 1. 21. The common version of the last clause 
above given is a correct paraphrase of the original, the form of 
which is highly idiomatic. A literal translation would be, he will 
not give forever moving (or move?nenl)to the righteous. The verb 


*o give is often used in Hebrew in the sense of allowing or 
permitting. The word translated moving is the one so often 
used to signify the violent disturbance cf a person in the midst 
of his prosperity. See above, on Ps. x 6. xvi. 8, etc. 

24 (23.) And thou, God, ibilt bring them down to the 'pit of cor- 
ruption; men of blood and fraud shall not live out half their days. 
The first verb is a causative and as such may be rendered, thou 
wilt cause them to descend. The word translated pit is the com- 
mon term in Hebrew for a well, but is here used in a wide sense 
including all such excavations. The next word is (mte) a deri- 
vative of the verb (nrrzif) to corrupt or destroy. The sense 
of pit, as if derived from the verb (rnr) to sink, would convert 
the phrase into a weak tautology. See above, on Ps. xvi. 10. 
Men of bloods and deceit, i. e. bloody (or murderous) and de- 
ceitful men, as in Ps. v. 7 (6) above. The literal translation of 
the last words isfihey shall not halve their days, a form of ex- 
pression copied in the margin of the English Bible, as well as in 
the Septuagint (^uioe&uoioi) and Vulgate (dimidiabunt.) The 
meaning of course is, that they shall not live half so long as they 
might have lived, but for their bloody and deceitful acts. This is 
not asserted as a general fact, but uttered as a threatening to the 
murderers and traitors whom the Psalmist had directly in his eye. 


After the title, v 1, comes a general petition for deliverance 
from persecution and oppression, vs. 2, 3 (1, 2), followed by a 
strong expression of trust in God, vs. 4, 5 (3, 4), a description 


of the malice of the enemy, vs. 6, 7 (5, 6), and a confident an- 
ticipation of his punishment, vs. 8 — 10 (7 — 9), founded on 
faith in the divine promise, vs. 11, 12 (10, 11), and a vow or 
resolution to make due acknowledgment of the mercy experi 
enced, vs. 12, 13 (11, 12.) 

1. To the Chief Musician. Upon Jonath-elem-rehokim. By 
David. Michtam. When the Philistines took him in Gath. The 
last clause of this inscription seems to refer to the incident re- 
corded in 1 Sam. ch. xxi. See above, on Ps. xxxiv. 1. An enig- 
matical allusion to the same event seems to be latent in the 
obscure phrase, Jonath-elem-rehokim, in which the first word 
means a clove, a favourite emblem of suffering innocence ; the 
second means silence, dumbness, sometimes put for uncomplaining 
submission ; and the third means distant or remote, agreeing with 
places or persons, probably the latter, in which sense it is applic- 
able to the Philistines, as aliens in blood and religion. Compare 
Ps. xxxviii. 14 (13.) lvi. 2 (1.) lxv. 6 (5.) Ixxiv. 19. Thus 
understood, the whole is an enigmatical description of David as 
an innocent and uncomj)laining sufferer among strangers. For 
the most probable etymology and sense of Michtam, see above, 
on Ps. xvi. 1. 

2 (1.) Be merciful unto me, oh God, for man pants for me (or 
is gaping after me) ; all the day, he devouring (or the devour cr) 
is pressing on me. The word for man is that denoting human 
frailty and implying the unreasonableness of such rage in one so 
impotent. See above, on Ps. ix. 20, 21 (19,20.) x. 18. The 
image here presented is that of a devouring monster or voracious 
beast. Instead of pants or gapes, some suppose the second verb 
to mean snorts or snaps, as an animal expression of rage. For 
the meaning of the word translated devouring, see above, on.Ps. 
xxxv. 1. Pressing on me, or pressing me. See Num xxii. 2~> 


3 (2.) My enemies have gaped upon me all the day ; for (there 
are) many devourers to me, ok Most High. The word translated 
enemies is that supposed by some to mean spies or watchers. See 
above, on Ps. xxvii. 11. liv. 7 (5.) Having first spoken of his 
enemy in the singular number, he now substitutes the plural, to 
explain which seems to be the object of the last clause. l I say 
enemies, because my devourers are many.' The last word in the 
verse strictly means -a high place, and particularly heaven, but is 
►sometimes applied to God himself. See below, on Ps. xcii. 9 (8.) 
Some interpreters, however, understand it as an abstract noun 
meaning loftiness or pride, and then used as an adverb in the 
sense of arrogantly, proudly. Compare Ps. lxxiii. 8. 

4 (3.) The day I am afraid, nnto thee will I confide. The 
complaint is followed, as in many other cases, by an expression 
of his confidence in God. The day I am afraid is an unusual 
expression, meaning simply when I am afraid, and probably be- 
longing to the dialect of poetry. Unto thee suggests the act of 
turning and looking towards the quarter from which help is ex 
pected. The same form of expression occurs above, Ps. iv. 
6 (3.) xxxi. 7 (6.) 

5 (4.) In God I will praise his word, in God I have trusted , 
J will not fear ; what can flesh do unto me ? The meaning of the 
first clause seems to be, that in the general praise of God he 
will include a particular acknowledgment of his gracious word or 
promise upon this occasion. The construction of the last clause 
in the English Bible, I will not fear what flesh can do unto me, 
gives substantially the same sense, but does not agree so well 
with the masoretic interpunction of the sentence. Flesh, hu- 
manity, as opposed to deity. See below, on Ps. lxv 3 (2), and 
compare Isai. xxxi. 3. xl. 6. 

6 (5.) All the day my words they wrest ; against me (are) all 

PSALM LV1. 41 

their thoughts for evil. The word translated wrest means strictly 
vex or pain, but is here used in the sense of twisting or distorting 
l^guage by putting false constructions on it. Thoughts, pur- 
poses, designs. For evil, tending to my injury. 

7 (6.) They will gather, they will hide — they, my supplanters, 
will watch, as. they have (already) waited for . my soul. They will 
gather or combine against me. They will hide (themselves or 
their devices) they will plot, or lie in wait, for my destruction. 
The common explanation of the next phrase, they mark my steps 
or my heels, does not account for the emphatic pronoun they. The 
Hebrew word has probably the same sense as in Ps. xlix. 6 (5) 
above. Waited for my soul or life, i. e. waited to destroy it. 

S (7.) By iniquity (there is) escape to them ; in anger bring 
down nations, oh God ! The first clause is obscure, but may 
mean either that they have hitherto escaped by their iniquity, or 
that they now depend, rely upon it for deliverance.. The inter- 
rogative construction commonly adopted ought not to be assum- 
ed, in the absence of an interrogative particle, without a decided 
exegetical necessity. The Hebrew particle at the beginning 
sometimes indicates the means or instrument, with the additional 
idea of dependence or reliance, as in the English phrase to live 
on bread and water. See Gen. xxvii. 40. 

9 (8.) My wanderings thou hast told ; put thou my tears into 
thy bottle ; are they not in thy book ? The Hebrew words for 
wanderings and tears are both in the singular number. See above, 
on Ps. vi. 7 (6) xxxix. 13 (12.) The first of these words sug- 
gests the ideas of flight and exile, and may contain an allusion to 
the wanderings of Cain in a country designated by this very 
word, the Land of JSFod, Gen. iv. 16, although this phrase may 
really mean nothing more than the land of (his) banishment or 
exile. The English word told is here retained because the He- 


brew one is equally ambiguous. In this case the primary idea is 
to count or number. See above, Ps. xxii. 17 (16.) xl, 5 (4) 
xlviii. 13 (12.) The act of counting implies particular atten- 
tion. The idea of recollection is expressed by the strong figure 
which follows, put my tears into thy bottle, i. e. preserve them in 
thy memory. This singular metaphor is thought by some to have 
been suggested by the word for wandering (~ii or Tb ? ) which is 
almost identical with that for bottle (is:) The latter strictly 
means a skin or leathern bottle, such as is still used in the East. 
See below, on Ps. cxix. 83. The interrogation in the last clause 
has the force of a direct assertion. Thy book, the book of thy 
remembrance, another figurative expression for the memory itself. 
Compare Mai. iii. 16. 

10 (9.) Then shall my enemies turn back, in. the day I 
call; this I know, that God is for me. The particle of time 
at the beginning of the verse has reference to what fol- 
lows, in the day I call, but as this was to be connected closely 
with the last clause, the natural order of the sentence was in- 
verted. Turn back, be repulsed, defeated, disappointed. See 
above, on Ps. vii. 12 (11.) ix. 4 (3.) In the day {that) I shall 
call : the ellipsis of the relative is equally common in Hebrew 
and in English. Call may mean simply call for help or pray ; but 
some connect it with the last clause thus : in the day that I shall 
call (or cry as follows) " this I know," etc. There is also an am- 
biguity in the phrase this I know, which may either mean, 'I 
know that my enemies shall thus turn back, because God is for 
me,', or, ' my enemies shall turn back when they hear me cry. 
This much I know, to wit, that God is for me.' The last phrase 
may be abo rendered to me, he belongs to me, he is my God, 
which of course includes the idea of his favour or his being on 
the speaker's side. 

11 (10.) In God I will praise (this) word ; in Jehovah I will 


praise (this) word. This unusual form of speech must have the 
same sense as in v. 5 (4) above. Some understand it to mean by 
Godh help j others, in union with God, I will praise (his) word. 
But on the whole, the most natural explanation still seems to be, 
c what I shall particularly praise in God, both as God, and as the 
tutelary God of Israel and my own, is the word of promise, 
which he has uttered and fulfilled in this case ' 

12 (11.) In God have I trusted ; I will not fear ; what can 
man do unto me ? As the foregoing verse is a resumption and 
emphatic iteration of the first clause of v. 5 (4), so this seems to 
bear the same relation to the last clause of that same verse. The 
only variation in the form of expression is the substitution 
of the literal term man (or mankind) for the more obscure 
term flesh. See above, on v. 5 (4.) Here again it is a possi- 
ble construction, although not so agreeable to the masoretic 
accents, to make the interrogation an oblique one. c I will not 
fear what man can do unto me.' 

13 (12.) Upon me, oh God, (are) thy vows ; I will pay 
thanksgiving unto thee. The first clause represents his vows or 
voluntary obligations as incumbent on himself and due to God, 
and he resolves to discharge them by thanksgivings, not merely 
verbal acknowledgments, but sacrificial tokens of his gratitude, 
such as were familiar to the ancient saints and recognised in the 
Law of Moses. 

14 (13.) For thou hast delivered my soul from death; (wilt 
thou) not (deliver) my feet from falling, to walk before God 
in the light of life ? The ellipsis in the second clause may also 
be supplied as follows, hast thou not delivered, as the only terms 
expressed are those of interrogation and negation. The word 
translated falling is a very strong one and means thrusting, cast- 
ing down. The verbal root occurs above, in Ps. xxxv. 5. xxxvi 


13 (12.) To ivalk before. God is to live in the enjoyment of his 
favour and protection. The light of life is opposed to the dark- 
ness of death. It may also be and usually is translated, in tJu 
light of the living, i. e. the light which living men enjoy. See 
above, on Ps. xxvii. 13. 


In the first part of this psalm a sufferer describes his own 
afflictions, occasioned by the malice of his enemies, and earnestly 
prays to be delivered from them, vs. 2 — 5 (1 — 4.) In the 
second, he anticipates a favourable answer to his prayer, and 
praises God for it, vs. G — 12 (5 — 11.) 

1. To the Chief Musician. Destroy not. By David. A 
Secret. When he fled from before Saul in the cave. The enig- 
matical inscription, Al-tashheth, destroy not, reappears in the titles 
of the next two psalms and of the seventy-fifth. As in other 
cases of the same kind, some interpreters regard it as a musical 
expression, others as the first words of a well-known poem, to 
the air of which this was to be sung. The best explanation is 
the one suggested by the Chaldee Paraphrase, to wit, that the 
Psalms which bear this title belong to that period of David's 
history, when he was under the perpetual necessity of saying De- 
stroy not, and are therefore suited to all similar emergencies of other 
saints. It is not at all impossible, that this was a favourite saying 
of David in real life, the rather as it is borrowed from the prayer 
of Moses in Deut. ix. 26, of which it may be said to be an abbre- 
eviated citation, not unlike the Latin designations, De Profinidis, 
Miserere, Venite Dzsultcmus, Non Nobis Dominc, Te Deum, etc 



The explanation above given is corroborated by the obvious allusion 
in these three psalms (lvii — lix) to the Sauline persecution. The 
very expression may be traced in 1 Sam. xxvi. 9, where David utters, 
as a command to his followers, what he so often had occasion to ut- 
ter as a prayer in his own behalf. The psalm is described as a mich- 
tam, mystery, or secret, on account of the extraordinary consolation 
and support which he experienced, enabling him to triumph even in 
the midst of enemies and dangers. See above, on Ps. 16:1. In the 
cave of Adullam (1 Sam. xxii. 1), or of Engedi (1 Sam. xvi. 1 — 3), 
or more indefinitely in the cave, equivalent to saying in caves, as a 
generic description of the mode of life which he then led (Heb. xi. 
38), not without some reference to the subterraneous cavern, as an 
emblem of solitude and darkness. Hence the absence of any more 
specific allusion to particular incidents which occurred in caves, 
such as that recorded in 1 Sam. xxiv, and the obvious reference to 
the whole period of the Sauline persecution, as a time of wander- 
ing, danger, and distress. Hence, too, the striking similarity, in 
sentiment aiid form, between this psalm and the one before it. 

2(1.) Be merciful 'unto me, oh God, be merciful unto me, for 
in thee has my soul sought refuge, and in the shadow of thy wings 
will I seek refuge, until (these) calamities be overpast. The 
repetition of the prayer for mercy shows the intensity of his de- 
sire. Sought refuge from the persecutions mentioned in Ps. 
lvi. 2 (1.) The soul ss mentioned as the object of pursuit. See 
above, on Ps. liv. 5 (4.) lvi. 7 (6), and compare 1 Sam. xxiv. 
12. (11.) The shadow of thy wings : the same beautiful figure for 
protection is presented in Ps. xvii. 8. xxxvi. 8 (7.) Calamities, 
occasioned by the crimes uf others. See above, on Ps. lii. 
4, 9 (2, 7.) 

3 (2.) 1" will cry unto God Most High, unto the Almighty, 

finishing for me, i. c. perfecting what he has begun. Compare 

Phil. i. 6. This verse assigns two reasons for his cryinq- ?»»>•*• 


God. The first is the supremacy and omnipotence of God him- 
self, the second is the previous experience of his faithfulness in 
fully performing whatever he has promised. See below, on Ps. 
cxxxviii. 8. 

4(3.) He will send from heaven and save me — (when or whom) 
the devour er reviles, Selah! — God will send his mercy and his 
truth. The first verb may govern hand, as in Ps. cxliv. 7, or 
help , as in Ps. xx. 3 (2), or be used absolutely, as in Ps. xviii. 
17 (16.) The devour er, literally the one gaping after me, snort- 
ing with rage against me, or panting for my destruction. See 
above, on Ps. lvi. 2, 3 (1,2.) Without supplying anything, 
this clause may be taken as a short independent; proposition — 
the devourer has reviled — interposed between the two principal 
members of the sentence. See above, on Ps. xxvii. 8. xlv. 6 (5.) 
In the last clause, Mercy and Truth seem to be personified, like 
Integrity and Uprightness in Ps. xxv. 21, Violence and Strife in 
Ps. lv. 10 (9.) With this clause compare Ps. xliii. 3. 

5 (4.) My soul (is) in the midst of lions; I will lie down 
(among) burning ones , sons of man, (whose) teeth {are) spears 
and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword. By his soul he 
means himself, or rather his endangered life. Lions, as often 
elsewhere, means ferocious enemies. See above, on Ps. vii. 
3 (2.) xxii. 13, 14 (12, 13.J The form of the verb which fol- 
lows is the one denoting fixed determination. ' Though surround- 
ed by lions I will fearlessly lie down, etc' Among or upon them. 
Burning may possibly refer to lions and mean raging ; but the 
indefinite application is more natural. Sons of man is added to show 
that what precedes is to be figuratively understood ; but in the very 
next clause, the writer relapses into language still more highly 
metaphorical. In likening their teeth to swords he presents the 
double image of a wild beast and a warrior. The mention of the 
tongue has reference, no doubt, to the slander and abuse, which 


entered so largely into the Sauline persecutions. These had 
already been referred to in the middle clause of v. 4 (3), of which 
this may be regarded as an amplification. 

6 (5 ) Be high above the heavens, oh God, above all the earth 
thy glory ! Some, in the last clause, read on all the earth and 
then explain on the heavens to mean nothing more than in heaven. 
The whole verse then is the expression of a wish that God may 
be exalted both in heaven and earth. But this is far less natural 
than the usual construction, which supposes a comparison, and 
makes the verse exalt God above all his works. Compare Ps 
viii. 2 (1.) 

7 (6.) A net they prepared for my steps ; he pressed doion my 
$oid; they digged before me a pit; they fell into the midst of it. 
Selah. This verse assigns the reason or occasion of the praise 
ascribed to God in that before it. The image here presented is 
the same as in Ps. vii. 16 (15.) ix. 1G (15.) The sudden change 
of number is particularly common in the psalms when speaking 
of an ideal person, representing many real individuals. See 
above, on Ps. lvi. 3 (2.) The phrase pressed doivn is borrowed 
from the Prayer Book version, and is well suited to convey the 
idea of an animal caught and held down by a trap or snare. 
That version is also more correct than the English Bible in giv- 
ing to the verb an active meaning ; of the neuter or passive there 
is no example elsewhere. Before me, in my path, where I am 
walking. The Selah at the close is almost equivalent to an 
Amen, as expressing acquiescence in God's righteous retributions. 

8 (7.) Fixed (is) my heart, oh God, fixed (is) my heart; I will 
sing and play. The repetition adds solemnity and force to the 
declaration. Fixed, i. e. firmly resolved and proof against all 
fear. See above, on Ps. li. 12 (10.) and below on Ps. cxii. 7. The 
two verbs in the last clause are properly descriptive of the 


two kinds of music, vocal and instrumental ; lout in the usage of 
the psalms they always have reference to the praise of God 

9 (8.) Awake my glory ! awake lute and harp! I ic ill awaken 
morning. The same idea is now expressed in the form of a poet- 
ical apostrophe. By glory most interpreters understand the soul, 
as the glory of the whole man, but some the tongue, as the glory 
of the body. See above, on Ps. vii. 6. (5.) xvi. 9. xxx. 13, and 
below, on Ps. cviii. 2 (1.) It is possible however that it here 
means that in which he gloried, his inspiration as a sacred poet, 
and which he personifies, as the heathen poets invoked the muse. 
Lute and harp is the translation in the Prayer Book. Any other 
combination, denoting two familiar instruments, such as harp and 
lyre, would be here appropriate. The verb in the last clause i3 
a causative of that in the first, and is related to it as the English 
verb aivakcn to awake. Strictly translated, this clause contains 
a bold but beautiful poetical conception, that of awakening the 
dawn instead of being awakened by it, in other words, preventing 
or anticipating it by early praises. In like manner, Ovid says 
the crowing of the cock evocat auroram. We thus obtain the 
same sense, in a far more striking form, than is expressed by the 
inexact and prosaic version, I will awake early. The intransi- 
tive sense given to the verb, and the adverbial sense given to the 
noun, are both without sufiicient authority in usage. From this 
verse some have inferred, that the psalm was expressly designed to 
be an even-song ; but he does not say, I will do thus to-morrow. 
The meaning rather is that he will do it daily. See above, on Ps. 
xvii. 15. The summons to the harp and lyre may be understood 
as implying, that they have long slept without occasion for such 
praise as they are now to utter. 

10 (9.) I will thank thee among the nations. Lord ; I will 
praise thee among the peoples The divine interposition to be 


celebrated is so great and glorious as to be entitled to the praises 
of the whole world. See above, on Ps. xviii. 50 (49.) 

11 (10.) For great unto the heavens (is) thy mercy, and unto the 
clouds thy truth. By a natural and favourite hyperbole, God's 
goodness is described as reaching from earth to heaven. See 
above, on Vs. xxxvi. 6 (5), and compare Jer. li. 9. 

12 (11.) Be thou high above the heavens , oh God, above all the 
earth thy glory ! The strophe ends as it began in v. 6 (5) 
above. In the last clause the verb of the first may be repeated 
be thy glory high ; or the substantive verb alone may be supplied, 
let thy glory be above all the earth ! 


1 To the Chief Musician. Al-tashheth. By David. Mich- 
tarn. See above, on Ps. lvii. 1. The Psalmist complains of un- 
just, spiteful, hardened enemies, vs. 2 — 6 (1 — 5), and prays that 
their power may be broken, vs. 7 — 12 (6 — 11.) The contents 
of the psalm agree with its title in showing that it belongs to the 
period of Saul's persecutions, when David had to contend with 
unjust rulers, who were at the same time his personal enemies. 
But although suggested by his own experience, the psalm was 
designed for permanent and public use, and is therefore inscribed 
to the Chief Musician. 

2 (1.) Are ye indeed dumb (when) ye (should) speak right- 
eousness (and) judge equitably , sons of man ? The first words 

vol. II. 3 


are exceedingly obscure. One of them (bb&) 5 not expressed in 
the English and the ancient versions, means dumbness, as in Ps 
lvi. 1, and seems to be here used as a strong expression for en- 
tirely speechless. In what respect they were thus dumb, is indi- 
cated by the verb which follows, but the connection can be made 
clear in English only by a circumlocution. The interrogation, 
are ye indeed, expresses wonder, as at something scarcely credi- 
ble. Can it be so ? is it possible ? are you really silent, you 
whose very office is to speak for God and against the sins of 
men ? See Deut. i. 16, 17. That the speaking here meant is 
judicial speaking, appears from the more specific parallel expres- 
sion. The word translated equitably is a plural noun meaning 
equities or rectitudes. See above, on Ps. xvii. 2. Strictly un- 
derstood, it is not a qualifying term, but the object of the verb 
judge, as in the other clause righteousness is governed directly 
by the verb speak. The address to them as sons of man reminds 
them of their own deioendence and responsibility. 

3 (2.) J\ T ay, in heart, iniquities ye practise; in the land, the 
violence of your hands ye weigh. The particle at the beginning 
is as usual emphatic, meaning, not only this but something more. 
See above, Ps. xviiL 49 (48.) xliv. 10 (9.) Not contented with 
neglecting their official functions, they were guilty of positive 
injustice. The Hebrew for iniquities is the plural of a word 
used in Ps. xxxvii. 1. xliii. 1, and denotes various acts of injus- 
tice. The future forms (ye will do, ye will weigh) implies an 
obstinate persistency in evil. To do or practise wickedness in 
heart may mean to plan or contrive it, as in Mic. ii. 1, leaving 
the execution to be inferred as a matter of course. Or the 
phrase may be translated with the heart, i. e. cordially, ex animo, 
con amore, or to use an idiomatic English expression, with a will. 
The first words of the last clause, in the land, may seem, from 
their position, to be in contrast with the phrase in heart ; but 
the antithesis, if any, is between the heart and hands, and in the 



land suggests the aggravating circumstance, that all this was 
practised by persons in authority under the theocracy, among the 
chosen people. Violence, violent injustice. See above, on Ps. 
Iv. 10 (9.) The last verb in this sentence means to level or 
make even, and in that sense is repeatedly applied to paths. See 
Isai. xxvi. 7. Prov. iv. 26. v. 6,21. But as the derivative noun 
(d:5>) means a balance (Prov. xvi. 11. Isai. xl. 12), the verb 
may here denote the act of weighing, levelling the balance, ren- 
dering it even, which some without necessity ascribe to it in 
several of the places above cited, where its constant combination 
with a way or path seems to exclude the idea of weighing as in- 
congruous, and to require that of smoothing or levelling as pe- 
culiarly appropriate. This last might be retained even here, 
and the metaphor be understood to mean that they facilitated or 
promoted violence (q. d. levelled or prepared its way) ; but the 
sense of weighing is equally appropriate and agrees well with the 
favourite idea of the scales of justice, which is found not only in 
the classics but in Scripture. See Job xxxi. 6. The meaning then 
is, that these wicked rulers, instead of weighing out justice to 
their subjects, weighed out, administered, dispensed, the most 
violent injustice, and that too devised and practised by them 

4(3.) Estranged are the wicked from the womb; they go 
astray from (their) birth, speaking lies. The first verb in 
Hebrew is not a passive but a neuter form, denoting the con- 
dition of estrangement, alienation, from God and from all good- 
ness. The wicked thus described are the whole class, of which 
his persecutors formed a part. The preterite tense is used in the 
original (were estranged, went astray) on account of the retro- 
spective reference to the beginning of life. The verb translated 
go astray is one frequently applied to moral aberrations. From 
their birth, literally, from the belly. See above, Ps. xxii. 11 (10.) 
Speaking lies, or with closer adherence to the form of the 


original, speakers of falsehood, i. e. habitual liars. The other 
version seems to mean that they begin to lie as soon as they are 
horn, a hyperbolical expression, of which some interpreters re- 
lieve the sentence by making this the subject of the proposition 
and parallel to wicked in the other clause. Speakers of false- 
hood go astray from (their) birth. In this description of the 
wicked there is nothing inconsistent ■with the doctrine of univer- 
sal depravity, as recognised in Ps. xiv. 1. li. 7 (5) above, and in 
Gen. viii. 21. Job xiv. 4, because the holiness of some men is a 
mere exception to the general rule, produced by the distinguish- 
ing grace of God, which frees them from the paramount influ- 
ence of that corruption to which others still continue subject. 

5, 6 (4, 5. ) There is poison to them like the poison of a serpent , 
as a deaf adder stops its ear, tvhich will not hearken to the voice 
of enchanters, of (one) charming charms, (of one) most icise. The 
first words are equivalent to the English construction, they have 
foison. The Hebrew noun originally signifies heat, and especially 
the heat of anger, in which sense it repeatedly occurs above, Ps. 
vi. 2 (1.) xxxvii. S. xxxviii. 2 (1.) The same sense is retained 
here by the ancient versions (dvtxo;, furor), and agrees well 
with the popular idea of vindictive spite, as a natural instinct of 
this class of animals. But most interpreters explain the word, 
here and in Dcut. xxxii. 24, as meaning venom, animal poison, 
so called from its inflammatory effects upon the person bitten. 
The Hebrew phrase translated like means strictly after (or ac- 
cording to) the likeness of. Compare its use in Gen. i. 26. It 
may be here employed, instead of the simple particle of com- 
parison, for the sake of emphasis, as we say like, but more empha- 
tically just like. As to the species of serpent mentioned in the 
second clause of v. 5 (4), all that is necessary to a correct inter- 
pretation of the verse is to understand it as denoting a, variety 
regarded as peculiarly malignant, and therefore resisting the in- 
cantations by which, other species were subdued, especially in 


Egypt. See the allusions to this practice in Eccl. x. 11. Jer. 
viii. 17. This clause admits of a different construction, like the 
deaf adder he stops his ear, which some interpreters prefer be- 
cause an adder cannot stop its ears, and need not stop them if 
naturally deaf, whereas it is by stopping his that the wicked man 
becomes like a deaf adder. The word translated enchanters pro- 
perly means whisperers or mutter ers, in allusion to familiar prac- 
tices of the ancient wizards. Clmrming charms, laying spells, 
or as the Hebrew words are commonly supposed to signify 
originally, tying knots with a magical design. The last word in 
v. 6 (5) is a passive participle, analogous to our word learned, and 
here meaning skilful. The English versions and the Vulgate 
make it an adverb (sapienter, never so wisely ;) but the Septua- 
gint and Jerome give it its proper meaning as an adjective, in 
which case it is probably in apposition with the nouns preceding, 
and connected in like manner with the voice of the first clause. 
The general idea of the verse, however construed, is that the 
malice of his enemies is stubborn and inexorable. 

7 (6.) Oh God, crush their teeth in their mouth ; the grinders 
of the young lions shatter, oh Jehovah ! The complaint is 
now followed by a prayer, that these ferocious enemies may be 
disarmed and disabled. This idea is expressed by the use of the 
same figure as in Ps. iii. 8 (7), that of wild beasts rendered 
harmless by the breaking of their teeth. Compare Job xxix. 17. 
Hence in the last clause they are expressly called lions. See 
above, Ps. lvii. 5 (4.} Young lions, not mere whelps, from which 
they are distinguished in Ezek. xix. 2, 3, but full-grown lions, in 
the first maturity of their strength, and therefore more to be 
dreaded than when older or younger. See above, Ps. xvii. 12. 
xxxiv. 11 (10.) xxxv. 17. The Hebrew verbs in this verse are 
peculiarly expressive, and, though wholly unconnected with each 
other, are both used elsewhere to express the ideas of violently 
breaking, breaking down, breaking out, breaking off, and break- 


ing through. See Ex. xv. 7. xix. 21. Lev. xiv. 45. Judg. vi. 30. 
1 Kings xviii. 30. 

8 (7.) Let them melt away as waters, let them go their way ; 
let him bend his arroics, as if they were cat off. ■ The optative 
meaning of these futures seems to be determined by the imper- 
atives in v. 7 (6.) There is nothing ungrammatical, however, 
in retaining the strict future sense, and regarding the verse as an 
expression of strong confidence as to the event. The first verb 
elsewhere has the sense of being rejected with contempt, and is 
so used in Ps. xv. 9 ; but as two of its radical letters coincide 
with those of a verb meaning to be melted, most interpreters 
prefer this sense. The other might however be retained, and 
the phrase explained to mean that they should be cast aside as 
water, and especially as filthy water, is rejected. Go their way, 
literally, go to them or to themselves. Some understand it to 
mean for themselves, i. e. for their own benefit, their destruction 
being represented, by a sort of irony, as all that they have 
gained by their hostility. Compare the use of the same phrase 
in Ps. lxiv. 6 (5.) lxvi. 7 (6.) In the next clause, most inter- 
preters assume a sudden change of number, such as frequently 
occurs in speaking of an ideal person representing a plurality of 
real individuals. See above, on Ps. lvii. 4, 7 (3, 6.) He (i. e. 
the enemy) shall bend his arrows, literally, tread them, i. e. bend 
by treacling on them. This expression is applicable strictly to 
the bow, and it is so applied repeatedly above. See Ps. vii. 
13 (12.) xi. 2. xxxvii. 14. Having thus acquired the secondary 
sense of fitting, making ready, it is transferred from the bow to 
the arrows, not only here but in Ps. lxiv. 4 (3) below. If the 
last verb be construed with the arrows as its subject, they would 
seem to be described as blunted or deprived of their points, and 
the meaning of the clause is, that the weapons of the enemy 
take no effect. The whole clause, however, will admit of a dif- 
ferent construction, which refers the singular verb and pronoun 


to God himself, and the plural verb to these rebellious sinners. 
Let him bend his arrows, as if they were cut off, i. e. so that 
they may be cut off. Notwithstanding the obscurity of this 
clause, the connection is preserved unbroken by the obvious 
meaning of the other. 

9 (8.) As a snail melts, let him go; (like) the untimely Urt/i 
of a woman, they have not beheld the sun. The idea of speedy 
and entire disappearance is still more strongly expressed here. 
The meaning of the word translated snail rests upon rabbinical 
tradition and a doubtful etymology. The point of comparison 
may relate to some popular belief or to some apparent idiosyn- 
crasy in this class of animals, perhaps to the idea of its losing a 
portion of its body by locomotion. The next noun primarily 
signifies what falls from the tree, unripe fruit, and is then trans- 
ferred to animal abortions. The past tense in the last clause 
seems to mark it as a kind of reflection introduced into the 
midst of the prayer ' So far from living too long, as I feared, 
they seem scarcely to have lived at all.' 

10 (9.) Before your pots can feel the thorn, whether raw or 
done, he will blow him ate ay. This is one of the obscurest and 
most difficult verses in the book, and yet the general idea is suffi- 
ciently clear. The he in the last clause relates to God, the him to 
his wicked enemy. The verb translated blow away means pro- 
perly to storm away, or carry away with (or like) a tempest. 
The rapidity of this movement is expressed by a familiar com- 
parison. Your pots, your vessels used in cooking. The address 
seems to be to the sinners, afterwards referred to as a single per- 
son. Feel, perceive the heat. Compare Job vi. 30. The thorn, used 
as fuel, kindles quickly and immediately burns out, so that this 
comparison suggests the idea of a very sudden chanpy. The 
singular expression which follows literally means as (well) living 
as heat ; but as the adjective is elsewhere used to signify raw. 


not cooked (1 Sam. ii. 15), the noun joined with it may be taken 
in the opposite sense of cooked or done. This may be a prover- 
bial expression, borrowed from the dialect of common life, to 
convey the idea of a sudden change, which waits for nothing, 
but carries men away in the midst of their employments. This, 
though still an unusual form of speech, will seem less unnatural 
if we suppose the process of cooking to be here used as a figure 
for the plots and devices of the enemy, a metaphor by no means 
far-fetched or unknown to other writers. The idea then is that 
while these devices, so to speak, are cooking, the cooks are 
snatched away by a superior power, without caring whether the 
operation is complete or not. c Before the seething pot of your 
contrivances begins to feel the quickly kindled heat which you 
apply to it, the tempest of divine wrath carries you away, whe- 
ther your mess be cooked or raw.' 

11 (10.) Rejoice shall the righteous because he has seen ven- 
geance ; his steps he shall bathe in the blood of the wicked. The 
vengeance in which he shall rejoice is not his own but God's, in 
the vindication of whose righteousness and honour all holy be- 
ings must rejoice forever, although not in the suffering of those 
who perish. The same idea is expressed more strongly in the 
last clause by a martial figure. To bathe his feet (or rather his 
steps) in the blood of others is to walk where their blood is flow- 
ing, to tread the battle-field where they have fallen, to gain a 
sanguinary triumph over them, or rather it is to partake in the 
triumph of another. Thus one of the old commentators says, 
that David washed his feet in Saul's blood, Elijah in Ahab's, 
Hczekiah in Sennacherib's, without any agency or share in their 
destruction, and without any selfish or malignant exultation in 
their ruin. Let it also be observed that in this, as in many like 
cases, the act is ascribed to an ideal person, and is therefore no 
example for our imitation. 



12 (11. ) And man shall say, yes, there is fruit to the righteous > 
yes, there is a God judging in the earth. This shall be said 
not by a man, nor by any particular man, but by men in general, 
by man as opposed to God. The particle translated yes really 
means only, and denotes that this and nothing else is true. See 
above, on Ps. xxxix. 12 (11.) There is fruit to the righteous, or 
in our idiom, he has fruit, i. e. ho reaps what he has sown. Com- 
pare Isai. iii. 10, 11. The very power that destroys his enemies 
is his protector. The idea of existence is expressed in the last 
clause contrary to usage, and is therefore emphatic. There is, 
notwithstanding all denials, doubts, and false appearances, there 
is a God, judging in the earth. Another unusual circumstance 
in this clause is that not only the divine name, but the participle 
agreeing with it, is in the plural number. The same thing 
occurs in Josh. xxiv. 19. 1 Sam. xvii. 26. In this case it may 
possibly be intended to suggest the idea, that although these 
earthly representatives of God are so unfaithful, there are never- 
theless gods judging in the earth, i. e. one God who possesses in 
himself the source of all the justice exercised by other beings. 
See above, on Ps. xi. 7. 


This psalm consists of two parallel parts, in both which the 
succession of ideas is substantially the same. A sufferer complains 
of treacherous and cruel enemies, vs. 2 — 5 (1 — 4), prays to be 
delivered from them, v. 6 (5), and confidently anticipates their 
ruin, vs. 7—12 (6 — 11.) In the second part, we have again, in 


the same order, the complaint, v. 13 (12) the prayer, v 14 (13), 
and the anticipation, vs. 15 — 18 (14 — 17.) 

1. To the Chief Musician. Al-tasMeth. By David. Mich- 
tarn. When Saul sent, and they watched ihe house to hill him. 
This remarkable incident in David's life, which was the beginning 
of his long and painful wanderings, is recorded, almost in the 
same words, 1 Sam. xix. 11. The title or inscription is the same 
as in the two preceding psalms. 

2 (1.) Free me from my enemies, my God, from those rising 
up (against) me thou wilt raise me, i. e. place me beyond their 
reach. Here, as often elsewhere, the tone of supplication is 
insensibly exchanged for that of confident anticipation. But the 
change is momentary, and the form of supplication is immediately 
resumed. My insurgents or assailants : see above, on Ps. xvii. 
7. The idea and expression at the close are the same as in 
Ps. xx. 2 (1.) Compare Ps. xviii. 49 (4S.) 

3 (2.) Free me from workers of iniquity, and from men of 
Hood save me. The same words and phrases have occurred re- 
peatedly before. See above, Ps. v. 6 (5.) vi. 9 (8.) xiv. 4. 
xxvi. 9. xxviii. 3. This verse and the one before it consti- 
tute the general introductory petition, the ground and reason of 
which are afterwards assigned. 

4 (3.) (This I ask) because (such enemies as I have just 
described) have laid wait for my soul (or life) ; there assemble 
against me strong ones, not (for) my transgression and not (for) 
my sin, Jehovah! Or, (it is) not my fault nor my sin, Jehovah. 

5 (4.) Without iniquity (on my part, to excuse or even to 
provoke them) they run ami set themselves (against me.) Both 
these are military terms and seem to denote strictly the scaling 


of a wall. See above, on Ps. xviii. 30 (29.) Awake (arouse 
thyself from this apparent inactivity) to meet me (to respond to 
my petition), and see (my clanger and the malice of my enemies.) 

6 (5.) And thou, Jehovah, God, (Lord of) Hosts, God of 
Israel, awake to visit all the nations ; spare not all traitors of 
iniquity. Selah. The accumulation of divine names is not 
unmeaning, but suggestive of reasons why the prayer should be 
answered, to wit, because He to whom it was addressed was not 
only the Eternal, Self-existent God, the Sovereign of the Universe, 
but the God of Israel, and therefore bound by covenant to save 
his people. All the nations, i. e. such as are the enemies of God 
and of his people ; and if whole nations are thus dealt with, how 
much more may Jehovah be expected to destroy his individual 
enemies. Traitors of iniquity, wicked traitors. The depth or 
the feeling here expressed is further indicated by the Selah. 

7 (6.) Let them return at evening, let them howl like the dog, 
and go around the city. The verbs may also be rendered as 
simple futures, expressive of a confident anticipation : they shall 
return, etc. In either case, the verse contains a metaphorical 
description of the disappointment of the enemy, who are here 
compared to the gregarious untamed dogs, by which the oriental 
cities are infested. As these dogs prowl about the streets in 
search of food and howl for want of it, so let (or so shall) my 
wicked enemies. Others, with equal probability, explain this verse 
as a description of their present' fierceness and avidity. 

8 (7.) Lo, they pour out icith their mouths ; swords (are) in 
their lips ; for who (is) hearing ? He here reverts to his 
description and complaint of his enemies. The first verb is ex- 
pressive of a constant flow or gush. See above, on Ps. xix. 3 (2.) 
What it is that they thus pour out, although not expressed, may 
be readily gathered from the context, namely, slanders and re- 

60 PSALM L1X. 

proaches. The swords in their li/ps are significant of sharp and 
cutting speeches. See above, on Ps. lv. 22 (21), and compare 
Ps. lii. 4 (3.) The English version, by supplying " say they, 1 ' 
makes the last clause the language of these wicked foes, who are 
then to be understood as denying God's omniscience or his justice. 
See above, on Ps. x. 11, 13, and compare Ps. xiv. 1. xlii. 11 (10.) 
But a still more striking sense may be obtained by making this 
clause the complaint of the Psalmist himself, as if he had said : 
no wonder that they thus pour out their bitter words ; for who is 
there to observe and punish them ? The question implies that 
God himself had ceased to notice their offences, and the parti- 
cipial form, that this neglect had now become habitual. 

9 (8.) And thou, Jehovah r icilt laugh at them; thou wilt mock 
at all nations. The resistance of whole nations, or of all collec- 
tively, is but an object of contempt to thee ; how much more 
that of even the most potent individuals. See above, on Ps. 
ii. 4. xxxvii. 13. The connection between this verse and the 
one before it depends upon the meaning of the question with 
which v. 8 (7) closes. If that be regarded as the language of 
the enemy, the thought to be supplied is, c but although they thus 
imagine that thou dost not hear, thou wilt soon undeceive them 
by deriding them.' On the other supposition it is this : ' al- 
though I am continually tempted to say, who cloth hear ? I am 
nevertheless persuaded that thou dost hear and despise their im- 
potent malignity ' 

10 (9.) His strength unto thee will I keep, for God is my high 
place. The first clause is so obscure that some interpreters have 
thought it necessary to change the text ("^S> for fas>) and read my 
strength, i. e. thou who art my strength, for thee will I watch 
or wait. Some who retain the common text suppose a sudden 
change of person, (as for) his strength, i. e. God's, / will watch 

for thee, oh God ! But this is much less natural than the common 


version, (because of) his strength, i. e. the enemy's, will I wait upon 
thee. According to the first translation above given, the meaning of 
the clause is, I will reserve the strength and violence of the 
enemy, to be dealt with and disposed of by Jehovah. My high 
place, beyond the reach of enemies and dangers. See above, on 
Ps. ix. 10 (9.) xviii. 3 (2.) xlvi. 8, 12 (7, 11.) 

11 (10.) My God (with) his mercy will meet me; God will 
make me to gaze upon my enemies. This translation of the first 
clause follows the reading in the text of the Hebrew Bible. The 
common version exhibits the marginal or masoretic emendation, 
the God of my mercy, i. e. my merciful God, or the God who 
shows me mercy, shall prevent me, in the primary and proper 
sense of coming before me. The idea here is that of coming to 
meet one in a friendly manner. See above, on Ps. xxi. 4 (3), 
and compare the unfavourable meaning of the same verb in Ps. 
xvii. 13. xviii. 6 (5), 19 (IS.) To gaze,i. e. with joy and triumph. 
See above, on Ps. liv. 9 (7.) This is equivalent to saying, he 
will give me the victory. The word for enemies is the same as in 
Ps. v. 9 (8.) 

12 (11.) Slay them not, lest my people forget ; make them wan- 
der by thy poiver and bring them down, our shield, oh Lord ! The 
meaning of the first clause, as appears from the context, is, de- 
stroy them not utterly, or once for all. My people, i. e. Israel, 
the chosen race. Make them wander, like Cain and like Israel 
in the wilderness, to both which cases the same verb is applied, 
Gen. iv. 12. Num. xxxii. 13. These are tacitly referred to, as 
familiar examples of this kind of punishment, inflicted both on 
individuals and nations. Bring them down, cause them to de- 
scend, from their present high position, humble them, and make 
their humiliation an example and a warning to all others. This 
was signally fulfilled in the case of Saul and his household, as 


well as in that of the nations which resisted the divine will and 
oppressed the chosen people, to both which cases the expressions 
of this psalm are designedly appropriate. Our skidd, our pro- 
tector ; not only mine but ours ; not only David's but all 
Israel's. The figure of a shield is a favourite one with David. 
See above, on Ps. iii. 4 (3.) xviii. 3 (2.) xxviii. 7. It is not 
only striking and expressive, but historically associated with 
the origin of the nation in the calling of Abraham and the patri- 
archal promises. See Gen. xv. 1. 

13 (12.) The sin of their mouth — the word of their lips — and 
they shall be taken in their pride — and from cursing and falsehood 
they will tell. This is a close translation of this very obscure 
verse, that is to say, obscure in its particular expressions, though 
its general sense is obvious enough. The construction given in 
the English versions, (for) the sin of their mouth (and) the word 
of their lips, they shall be taken, either overlooks the copulative 
particle before the verb or makes it unmeaning, they shall even be 
taken. The latest interpreters prefer to render it, the sin of their 
mouth (is) the word of their lips, i. e. the word of their lips is 
the sin of their mouth ; whatever they speak is spoken sinfully ; 
they cannot speak without committing sin. They shall be taken, 
caught, surprised, as they have sought to surprise others. See 
above, Ps. ix. 16 (15.) xxxv. 8. It may also be read as an 
expression of desire, may they be taken ! In their pride, not 
merely on account of it, although this is included, but in the midst 
of it, in the act of indulging it. From cursing represents their 
capture as arising (or proceeding) from their cursing, and may 
therefore be translated for, as in the English Bible. Cursing, 
or rather swearing in attestation of a falsehood. See above, on 
Ps. x. 7. The phrase to tell a falsehood is common to both 
idioms. Most interpreters supply a relative, {which) they tell, or 
will tell. Otherwise, from must be understood as meaning of, 



14 (13.) Consume, in wrath, consume (them), and let them he no 
more, and let them know that God (is) ruling in Jacob, unto the 
ends of the earth. The first verb strictly means to cause to 
cease, to finish, to destroy so that nothing is left. Let them be 
no more, let them cease to be. By itself, the Hebrew phrase 
would seem to mean, and they are not, but the tense, which is 
not expressed in the original, must be determined by the prayer 
preceding. The last clause might at first sight seem to mean, 
let my enemies know that Gocl rules not only in Israel but through- 
out the earth. But this is forbidden by the prayer that they may 
cease to be, and would require a connective particle of some sort 
after Jacob. The true construction, indicated by the accents, is, 
and let them (i. e. men in general) know, to the ends of the earth, 
that God (is) ruling (i. c. habitually rules) in Jacob. This de- 
scription of the whole world as witnessing and interested in God's 
dealings with his chosen people, is in strict accordance with the 
very end for which he chose them, and is particularly character- 
istic of David. See above, on Ps. xviii. 50 (49.) lvii. 6, 10, 12 
(5, 9, 11), and compare his language to Goliath, 1 Sam. xvii. 
46 : " this day will Jehovah deliver thee into my hand, and I will 

smite thee that all the earth may know, that there is 

a God in Israel. " 

15 (14.) Then let them return at evening, howl like the dog, and 
go around the city. The first word in Hebrew is a simple copu- 
lative, meaning and ; but the connection seems to be, since God 
is my protector and these enemies are doomed to destruction, 
let them threaten as they will, I shall not fear them. It is 
equally grammatical, though not so natural, to understand the 
verse as a prediction or confident anticipation of the miserable 
state to which these enemies should be reduced, like a herd of 
oriental dogs without a master or a home, prowling about in 
search of food, and howling with hunger, but remaining still un- 
satisfied. See above, on v. 7 (6.) 


16 (15.) They shall wander (in quest of something) to cat, 
(and) if they are not satisfied, remain all night. This sentence 
is obscure, whether it be understood as a defiance or a threaten- 
ing, though the latter construction is recommended by the em- 
phatic pronoun at the beginning. They themselves, the very 
persons who now threaten me, shall roam about in search of food, 
etc. The most probable meaning of the last clause is : and not be- 
ing satisfied, not finding what they seek, they must continue seek- 
ing it by night as well as by day. The conversive particle before 
the last word seems to be here equivalent to then or still after a 
conditional clause — ' if they are not satisfied, then they shall re- 
main all night' — or ' though they be not satisfied, yet must they 
remain all night.' 

17 (16.) And I will sing thy strength, and celebrate in the 
morning thy mercy ; for thou hast teen a high place to me, a re- 
fuge in my distress. The pronoun at the beginning is emphatic, 
I, on my part, as contrasted with these wretches. Thy strength 
or power, thus exerted in my behalf. In the morning, or at break 
of day, which is the primary meaning of the term. The phrase 
is in obvious antithesis to at evening in v. 15 (14.) There may 
also be allusion to the frequent use of night and morning, as 
emblems of suffering and relief. Compare the words of David 
in 2 Sam. xxiii. 4. A height, high place, or place of safety, as 
in v. 10 (9) above. In my distress, or retaining the original con- 
struction, in distress to me. The form of expression is the same 
as in Ps. xviii. 7 (6.) 

18 (17.) My strength, unto thee will I sing ; for God is my 
high place, the God of my mercy. The most natural construc- 
tion of the first phrase is that which makes it a direct address to 
God, as the author of his strength. But as the structure of the 
clause is precisely similar to that at the beginning of v. 10 (9), 
some adopt a similar construction, my strength will I sing unto 


thee. \ will praise my strength to thee, because I shall thereby 
praise thyself. This is equivalent to saying, I will celebrate 
thee as my strength. High place, place of safety, refuge, or 
asylum, as in vs. 10, 17 (9, 16.) God of my mercy, my merci 
ful God, or the God who shows me mercy. See above, on v 
11 (10.) 


1. To the Chief Musician. On the Lily of Testimony. A 
Mystery. By David. To be Learnt. The lily is probably, in 
this case as in Ps. xlv. 1, an emblem of beauty or loveliness. 
The testimony is a name given to the Law, as God's testimony 
against sin. See above, on Ps. xix. 8 (7), and compare 2 Kings 
xi. 12, where the term is applied absolutely to the Law, con- 
sidered as a book or writing. This enigmatical inscription, 
therefore, may be understood as representing the theme or sub- 
ject of the psalm to be the beauty of the law, or something 
lovely in it, with reference most probably to the gracious promise 
cited from it. At the same time, there seems to be an allusion 
to the precept in Deut. xxxi. 19, "Now therefore write ye this 
song for you, and teach it the children of Israel ; put it in 
their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against 
the children of Israel." To this verse there seems to be a 
double allusion in the one bafore us ; first in the word testimony, 
which is a cognate form to that translated icUncss, and then in 
the concluding words, to teach, where the verb is the same with 
that in Deuteronomy. The title before us, therefore, seems to 
say, this song is like the song of Moses, which was to be taught 


to the people, as a witness or testimony against them, in case of 
unbelief or disobe Hence. To teach then means to be taught or 
to be learned by heart, committed to memory. Compare 2 Sam. 
i. 18, where the English version incorrectly supplies (use of) the 
bote, instead of (song of) the bow, meaning the elegy on Saul and 
Jonathan which immediately follows, so called, according to an 
ancient custom, from the mention of Jonathan's favourite weapon 
in v. 22. See above, on Ps. ix. 1. From this enigmatical allu- 
sion, and the disguised form under which the truth is here re- 
vealed, the psalm is justly represented as a Michtam, mystery, or 
secret. See above, on the titles of the four preceding psalms. 
The body of the psalm, apart from the additional title or his- 
torical inscription in v. 2, may be divided into three equal stanzas 
or strophes, each consisting of four verses. In the first, the 
Psalmist takes occasion from God's seeming desertion of his peo- 
ple, to recall his former interventions in their favour, vs. 3 — 6 
(1 — 4.') In the second, he pleads an express promise, as a 
ground of present hope, vs. 7 — 10 (5 — 8.) In the third, he ex- 
presses his confidence of safety and success, in the proposed 
expedition against Edom, vs. 11 — 14 (9 — 12.) Throughout 
the psalm the ideal speaker is Israel, considered as the chosen 

2. ~Wlien he conquered Aram Naharaim and Aram Zobah, and 
Joab returned and smote Edom in the Valley of Salt, twelve 
thousand men. The common version of the first verb {strove 
with) scorns too weak, as a victory is clearly presupposed, and the 
idea of contention is conveyed by a cognate form of the same 
verb. The name Aram corresponds to Syria in its widest and 
vaguest sense, and is* joined with other names to designate partic- 
ular parts of that large country. It even includes Mesopotamia, 
which is a term of physical rather than political geography, and 
denotes the space between the Tigris and Euphrates, correspond- 
ing to At am-K altar aim, or Syria of the Two Rivers, in the 


verse before us. The king of this country was tributary to the 
king of Aram Zobah, as appears from the account of David's 
second Aramean war (2 Sam. x. 16, 19.) It was after the 
return of the victorious army from this war, that Joab marched 
against Edom and achieved the victory here ascribed to him, as 
the leader of the army, but in 1 Chron. xviii. 12, to his brother 
Abishai, who probably commanded under him, as he did in a 
subsequent campaign (2 Sam. x. 10), and in 2 Sam. viii. 13 to 
David himself as the sovereign whom' they both represented. 
The Valley of Salt has been identified by modern travellers 
with a valley south of the Dead Sea, on the ancient confines of 
Israel and Edom. See Robinson's Palestine, vol. ii. p. 483. 
The number killed on this occasion is stated in 2 Sam. viii. 13 
and 1 Chron. xviii. 12 at eighteen thousand. But this diversity 
might easily arise from different modes of computation, and seems 
at least to show that the writer of the verse before us did not 
blindly copy the historical books, while the smaller number which 
he gives evinces his exemption from all disposition to embellish 
or exasperate. 


3 (1.) Oh God, thou hast cast us off; thou hast broken us ; 
thou hast been angry ; thou wilt restore to us (thy favour or our 
previous prosperity.) Clear as the marks of thy displeasure have 
been, we still confidently look for thy returning favour. This 
may refer to disasters experienced in the former part of the 
campaign. Cast us off, with abhorrence and contempt, as in 
Ps. xliii. 2. xliv. 10, 24 (9, 23.) Broken ns y or made a breach 
in us, which appears to be a military figure, and a favourite with 
David in real life. See 2 Sam. v. 20. vi. 8, and compare Judg. 
xxi. 15. Job xvi. 14. xxx. 14. The last verb means to restore, 
as in Ps. xix. 8. (7.) xxiii. 3, but in application to a different 
object. Compare Isai. lviii. 12. • 

4 (2.) Thou hast made the earth quake, thou hast riven it f 


heal its breaches, for it moves. The idea of social disaster and 
calamity is here expressed by the figure of an earthquake and its 
natural effects, to which God is besought to put an end by the 
removal of the cause. 

5 (3.) Thou hast made thy people see (what is) hard; thou 
hast made us drink wine of staggering (or reeling.) The 
meaning of the first clause is, that God had made them experience 
hardship. See a similar expression in Ps. lxxi. 20. Wine of 
staggering, wine that causes men to reel or stagger, here used as 
a figure for confusion, weakness, and distress. The same image 
reappears in Ps. lxxv. 9 (8.) Isai. li. 17, 22. Jer. xxv. 15. xlix. 1.2. 
See above, on Ps. xi. 6. 

6 (4.) Thou hast given to those fearing thee a banner to be 
lifted because of (thy) truth. Selah. In the sight of thy dis- 
comfited and downcast people, thou hast set up a signal, as a 
rallying point, and an assurance of the truth of thy engagements. 
The word (op_) translated banner means anything elevated as a 
signal, being derived from the following verb, which, in the form 
here used, means properly to raise itself, as in Zech. ix. 16. The 
word for truth is not the one commonly so rendered, but has the 
same meaning in Prov. xxii. 21, and in the Aramaic dialects. 
See Dan. ii. 47. iv. 34. Because of, literally, from before ox from 
the face of, an expression indicating, as the cause of the effect de- 
scribed, the truth or veracity of God himself. The translation of 
the last clause in the ancient versions and some modern ones, to 
flee from before the bow, gives an unauthorized meaning both to 
the verb and noun. 

7 (5.) In order that thy beloved ones may be delivered, save 
(with) thy right hand and hear (or ansiccr) us. This is a prayer 
naturally prompted by the previous experience of God's favour, 
as recorded in the foregoing verse Thy beloved, an epithet 


applied to Benjamin in Deut. xxxiii. 12, and forming a part of 
Solomon's additional name Jedidiah, 2 Sam. xii. 25. See also 
Ps. xlv. 1. The common version of the last words (hear me) 
rests upon the marginal reading or Keri. 

8 (6.) God hath spoken in his holiness ; I will triumph ; I will 
divide Shechem, and the Valley of Succoth I will measure. As a 
further ground for his petition, the Psalmist, speaking in the 
name of Israel, appeals to the promise of Jehovah, that his people 
should possess the entire land of Canaan. The reference is not 
to any insulated promise, but to that pervading the whole Law. 
There God had spoken, uttered his promise, in his holiness, i. e. 
as a Holy God, and as such incapable of failing to perform it. 
See the similar expressions in Ps. Ixxxix. 36 (35.) Am. iv. 2. 
Some understand what follows as the words which God had 
spoken; but as v. 11 (9) is confessedly the language of the 
people or their representative, and as no intermediate point of 
transition can be well assumed, it seems better to explain these 
also as the words of David or of Israel. c God hath spoken in his 
holiness (and therefore) I will triumph.' Because he has prom- 
ised me victorious possession of the land, I exult in confident 
anticipation of it. This idea of triumphant occupation is ex- 
pressed in terms appropriate to the times of the original conquest, 
when the land was measured and distributed amons; the tribes. 
See Josh. xiii. 7. xviii. 5. The two great divisions of the country, 
east and west of Jordan, are denoted by Shechem and Succoth, 
the places where Jacob pitched his tent on his return from exile, 
as if to claim the Land of Promise as his heritage. See Gen. 
xxxiii. 17, 19. 

9 (7.) To me (belongs) Gilead and to me Manasseh, and 
Ephraim the strength of my head, Judah my lawgiver. The 
idea still is that the whole of Canaan rightfully belongs to Israel. 
The form of expression is analogous to th^fcin the preceding 


Terse, but •with a beautiful variation. As the two great divisions 
of the country, east and west of Jordan, are there represented by 
detached points, Shechem and Succoth, so here by the names of 
extensive districts, Judah and Ephraim, the two largest territories, 
on the west, Bashan and Gilead on the east, the latter called by 
its own name, the former by that of the tribe which occupied the 
greater part of it. See Deut. hi. 12, 13. The last clause does 
due honour to the military strength of Ephraim (Gen. xlviii. 19. 
Deut. xxxiii. 17), but asserts the civil supremacy of Judah (Gen. 
xlix. 10.) The phrase translated strength of my head might 
seem to mean my chief strength ; but that would require the terms 
to be inverted, head of my strength. Compare Gen. xlix. 3. 
It rather means the protection of my head, as strength of my life 
in Ps. xxvii. 1 means that which protects my life, the head being 
mentioned as the vital part peculiarly exposed. Compare Ps. 
lxviii. 22 (21.) ex. 6. Some suppose the figure to be that of a 
helmet, which is too specific. In the last clause there is obvious 
allusion to the prophecy in Gen. xlix. 10. Lawgiver has its 
proper sense of ruler, sovereign. That of rod or sceptre, which 
some give it, rests upon a doubtful explanation of Numb. xxi. IS, 

10 (8.) Moab (is) my wash-pot ; at Edom will I throw my 
shoe; at me, Philistia, shout aloud! The three hostile powers, 
with which Israel was most frequently at war, are here put to- 
gether, as the objects of a contemptuous address. Moab is 
likened to the humblest household utensil, the vessel in which 
slaves were wont to wash their master's feet. Edom is likened to 
the slave himself, to whom or at whom the master throws his 
shoe when about to bathe his feet. Compare Matth. hi. 11. Acts 
xiii. 25. This is much better suited to the context than the 
allusion, which some assume, to the practice mentioned in Ruth 
iv. 7, where the removal of the shoe is a symbol of renunciation, 
and could not be here used to express the opposite idea of seizure 
or triumphant occ^jpition. Shout aloud, or make a noise, is by 


some explained as an expression of triumph, and the whole clause 
treated as ironical. Others understand it of the acclamation or 
shout of welcome and applause by which subjects recognise and 
hail their sovereign. See above, on Ps. ii. 11, where the exhort- 
ation to rejoice, with trembling is, by the same interpreters, 
explained in the same manner. In either case, the clause implies 
superiority in him who speaks, and willing or compulsory subjec- 
tion on the part of those whom he addresses. 

11 (9.) Who will bring me (to) the fenced city ? Who has 
lea! me up to Eclom ? In reliance on God's promise, and in the 
possession of the hope and courage just expressed, his people 
are ready to go forward, and only waiting, as it were, for some 
one to conduct them into the enemy's country, nay, into his very 
citadel. The fenced city, literally, city of defence or fortification, 
a phrase already used in Ps. xxxi. 22 (21,) is Petra, the famous 
capital of Idumea, hewn in the rock, and almost perfectly impreg- 
nable. See Robinson's Palestine, vol. II. pp. 573 — 580. The 
past tense in the last clause represents the question as already 
answered. Up to, even to, as far as, implying not mere motion 
or direction, but actual arrival. 

12 (10.) (Is it") not thou, oh God, (who) hast cast us off and 
wilt not go forth with our hosts ? A simpler construction of the 
first clause would be, hast thou, not cast us off? But it seems 
better to explain the verse as an indirect answer to the question 
in the one preceding. Who has brought us into Edom, if not He 
who had rejected us ? The terms are borrowed from Ps. xliv. 
10 (9), which seems to have been written in the midst of the 
distress here spoken of as past. i Wilt not thou, of whom we 
lately were compelled to say, thou hast forsaken us and wilt not 
go forth with our hosts ?' Compare 2 Sam. v. 24. 

13 (11.) Give lis help from trouble (or from the enemy ) ; and 


(the rather because) vain (is) the salvation of man, i. e. the 
deliverance which man affords. The causal particle, for, be* 
cause, which seems necessary to connect the clauses, is implied 
hut not expressed in Hebrew. The second noun (ir) may either 
mean distress, as in Ps. iv. 2(1.) xviii. 7 (6), or one who gives 
distress, a persecuting or oppressing enemy, as in Ps. iii. 2(1.) 
xiii. 5 (4.) xxvii. 2, 12. xliv. 6, 8, 11 (5, 7, 10.) Either sense 
would be appropriate, but the latter is strongly recommended 
by its occurrence in the next verse. 

14 (12.) In God we tvill make (i. e. gain or gather) strength, 
and he will tread down (or trample on) our adversaries (perse- 
cutors or oppressors.) The prayer is followed by the confident 
anticipation of the answer. In God, i. e. in union with him, in 
possession of him. See above, on Ps. xviii. 30 (29.) The com- 
mon version of the next phrase ( shall do valiantly) is vague and 
dubious, being inadmissible in several of the cases where the 
phrase occurs, whereas they all admit of the translation make or 
gather strength, in reference to the acquisition or recovery of 
force by those who had before been in a. state of weakness. See 
below, on Ps. cviii. 14 (13.) cxviii. 15, 16, and compare Ezek. 
xxviii. 4. Ruth iv. 11. Deut. viii. 17, 18. Num. xxiv. 18,, to the 
last of which places there is obvious allusion here, as relating to 
the very same enemies. Treading or trampling, as an emblem 
of violent subjection, occurs above in a contemporaneous pas- 
sage, Ps. xliv. 6 (5.) The last eight verses reappear as a part 
of Ps. cviii, in the exposition of which the points of difference 
and the general relation of the passages will be considered. 

PSALM LXi. 73 


1. To the Chief Musician — on a stringed instrument (or with 
an instrumental accompaniment) — of David. The peculiar form 
of the original construction (Tnb F^.-.) cannot be reproduced in 
English, but seems to connect the name of David both with the 
Hebrew word preceding, as the owner or conductor of the 
music, and with the psalm itself as the author. That is to say, 
the words are so combined as to convey both these ideas — a 
stringed instrument of David — and a psalm of David. The 
musical term (neginalh) is the same as in the titles of Ps. iv, vi, 
liv, lv, but in the singular number and the construct form. The 
psalm itself consists of a prayer with an expression of strong 
confidence, vs. 2 — 5 (1 — 4), and an appeal to the divine pro- 
mise, as the ground and object of that confidence, vs. 6 — 9 (5 — 8.) 

2 (1.) Hear, oh God, my cry ; attend unto my prayer I The 
psalm opens with an introductory petition to be heard. See 
above, on Ps. v. 2, 3 (I, 2.) xvii. 1. lv. 2 (1), and compare Ps. 
xxxix. 12 (13.) The word translated cry, which sometimes means a 
joyful shout or thankful song — Ps. xxx. 6 (5.) xlii. 5 (4.) xlvii. 
2 (1) — is here determined by the parallelism and the context to 
denote a cry for help or mercy. 

3 (2.) From the end of the earth unto thee will I call, in the 
covering of my heart (when it is covered, i. e. overwhelmed, or 

VOL. II. 4 


covered with darkness.) To a rode (that) is high from me, (i. e. 
higher than I, or too high for me) thou wilt lead me. To the 
saints of the Old Testament exclusion or involuntary distance 
from the sanctuary seemed equivalent to exile in the remotest 
countries, sometimes called the end of the, earth (Deut. xxviii. 
64), sometimes the end of heaven (Deut. iv. 32), although this 
last phrase may be understood to mean the sensible horizon or 
boundary of vision (Isai. xiii. 5.) Arock, often mentioned as a 
place of refuge. See above, on Ps. xviii. 3 (2.) xl. 3 (2.) Too 
high for me to reach without assistance. In the last clause an 
earnest prayer is latent under the form of a confident antici- 
pation. The feelings here expressed, and the terms used to ex- 
press them, are peculiarly appropriate to David's situation dur- 
ing Absalom's rebellion. See above, on Ps. iii. 1. xlii. 1. 

4 (3.) For thou hast been a refuge to me, a tower of strength 
(or strong tower) from before (from the face or presence of) the 
enemy. He appeals to former mercies as a ground for his present 
expectation. The verb of existence is here emphatic and cannot, 
without a violation of usage, be translated as a present, which is 
almost invariably suppressed in Hebrew. The enemy is a collec- 
tive term, or one denoting an ideal person, including many real 

5 (4.) I will sojourn (or abide) in thy tent (or tabernacle) ages 
(or eternities, i. e. forever) ; / will trust (take refuge or find 
shelter) in the shadow of thy wings. The first verb is in the 
paragogic form, expressing strong desire or fixed determination. 
See above, on Ps. ii. 3. To dwell in God's tent or house is to 
be a member of his family, to enjoy his bounty and protection, 
and to live in intimate communion with him. Sec above, on Ps. 
xv. 1. xxiii. G. xxvii. 4, 5. David here tacitly appeals to the 
promise recorded in 2 Sam. ch. vii. See above, on Ps. xxi 5 (4.) 

PSALM LX1. 75 

The beautiful figure for protection in the last clause is the same 
as in Ps. xvii. S. xxxvi. 8 (7.) 

6 (5.) For thou, ok God, hast heard (or hearkened to) my vows 
(and the prayers which they accompanied) ; thou hast given me 
the heritage of those fearing (or the fearers of) thy name, i. e. 
the reverential worshippers of thy revealed perfections. See 
above, on Ps. liv. 3(1.) The heritage here mentioned is par- 
ticipation in the honours and privileges of the chosen people, 
with particular though tacit reference to the vicarious royalty 
conferred on David, and ensured to his posterity in answer to his 
prayers. See above, on Ps. xxi. 3 — 5 (2 — 4), and compare 2 Sam. 
vii. 16. 

7 (6.) Days to the days of the king thou wilt add ; his years 
(shall be, or, thou wilt multiply) like generation and generation. 
The preposition in the first clause strictly means upon, and sug- 
gests the idea not of mere addition but accumulation, which 
would also be conveyed in English by the literal translation, days 
upon days. His use of the third person shows that he does not 
mean himself alone, but the king of Israel as an ideal or collec- 
tive person, comprehending his posterity. The life of this ideal 
person would of course not be restricted to a single generation 
but continued through many, which is the meaning of the idio- 
matic expression in the last clause. 

8 (7.) lie. shall sit (enthroned) to eternity before God; mercy 
and truth do thou provide; let them preserve him (or they shall 
preserve him.) The first verb suggests the two ideas of continu- 
ance or permanence and regal exaltation. See above, on Ps lv. 
20 (19), and compare 2 Sam. vii. 29. Before God, in his pre- 
sence and under his protection. See above, on Ps. lvi. 14 (13.) 
Provide, prepare, afford, or have in readiness. Mercy and Truth 
are personified, as in Ps. xl. 12 (11.) lvii. 4 (3.) Compare Ps. 


xliii. 3. They seem to be here represented as God's messengers 
or agents in preserving his Anointed. 

9 (8.) So ivill I celebrate thy name forever, that I may 'pay my 
vows day (by) day. The so at the beginning may mean, on this 
condition, when this prayer is granted ; or more probably, in this 
assurance, in the confident expectation of this issue. Celebrate 
musically, both with instrument and voice. See above, on Ps. 
lvii. 8 (7), and compare Ps. lix. IS (17.) That I may pay, 
literally, to (or for) my paying, or, as some explain it, by my pay- 
ing, which however is a rare and dubious use of the infinitive. 
Day (by) day or day (and) day, i. e. one day with or after ano- 
ther, implying not only frequency but regularity. The Vulgate 
version of this idiomatic phrase is de die in diem. 


1. To the Chief Musician over Jeduthun. A psalm by David. 
Jeduthun seems hero to mean the family or choir so called from 
the Chief Musician of that name. See above, on Ps. xxxix. 1. 
The psalm consists of three equal stanzas or strophes, each be- 
ginning with the particle (T]a) only, and the first and second end- 
ing with selah. In all these parts, the theme or burden is the 
same, to wit, a contrast between God and man, as objects of 

2 (1.) Only to God (is) my soul silent ; from him (is) my sal- 
vation. The frequent repetition of the first word (l]a) is cha- 
racteristic of the psalm before us. In all these cases it is to be 


taken in its strict exclusive sense of only. See above, on Ps. 
lviii. 12.(11.) Only in looking towards God as my Saviour, is 
my soul silent, literally, silence. See above, on Ps. xxii. 3 (2.) 
xxxix. 3 (2.) This trust, and this alone, can set his mind at 
rest, and free him from the natural disquietude of man when 
alienated from his God. 

3 (2.) Only He (is) my rock and my salvation, my height 
fhigh place, refuge, or asylum) ; i" shall not be shaken (moved 
from my firm position) much (or greatly.) The adverbial use 
of much is the same in Hebrew and in English. This qualified 
expression seems to be intended to suggest, that he does not 
hope to escape all disaster and calamity, but only such as would 
be ruinous. See above, on Ps. xxxvii. 24. As to the figures in 
the first clause, see above, on Ps. ix. 10 (9.) xviii. 3 (2.) He 
only, God and no one else, can be such a protector. 

4 (3.) Until when (how long) will ye break loose upon (or against) 
a man, will ye murder (i. e. seek to murder him) all of you (com- 
bined against a single person, who is consequently) like a wall in- 
clined (or bent by violence), a fence (or hedge) crushed (broken 
down :) That the last clause relates to himself and not his 
enemies, is clear from the continuation of the same description 
in the next verse. 

5 (4.) Only from his elevation they consult to thrust (him, and as 
a means to this end) they delight in falsehood ; with his mouth, 
(i. e. with their mouths) they will bless, and in their inside (in- 
wardly, or with their heart) they will curse. Selah. The sud- 
den change of number in the middle of the verse, and indeed the 
whole description, are like those in Ps. v. 10 (9.) 

6 (5.) Only to God be still my soul, for from him (is) my hope. 
The view just taken of his fellow men drives him back to God, 


and he exhorts himself to cherish the same confidence which he 
had before expressed. Be still, silent, trusting, and submissive. 
See above, on v. 2 (1), and compare Ps. xxxvii. 7. The mean- 
ing of the last clause is, from him proceeds whatever I desire or 
hope for. 

7 (6.) Only He is my rock (the foundation of my hope) and my 
salvation (i. e. its source and author) — my high place (refuge or 
asylum) — I shall not be moved (or shaken.) This more absolute 
expression, as compared with v. 3 (2), seems to indicate a 
stronger faith, derived from the previous comparison of God and 
man as objects of trust and affection. 

8 (7.) Upon God (i. e. dependent, founded on him) is my sal- 
ration, and my honour (both official and personal) ; the rock of 
my strength (my strong rock, or the basis upon which my own 
strength rests) ; my hiding place (my refuge) is in God. It is in 
his presence, favour and protection, that I hide myself from all 
my enemies and all my dangers. See above, on Ps. vii. 11 (10.) 
lxi. 4 (3.) 

9 (8.) Trust in him at every time, oh people, pour out lefore 
him your heart ; God (is) a refuge for us. Selah. The faith 
which he cherishes himself he recommends to others also. At 
every time, not merely in prosperity, but even in the sorest trials 
and the worst extremities. People, not merely men or persons, 
but people of God, his chosen people. To pour out the heart is 
a natural and lively figure for a full disclosure of the thoughts 
and feelings. See above, on Ps. xlii. 5 (4), and below, on Ps. 
cxlii. 3 (2), and compare 1 Sam. i. 15. Lam. ii. 19. The last 
clause gives the reason of the exhortation, and indicates its ear- 
nestness by a solemn pause. 

10 (9.) Only vanity (are) sons of Adam, a falsehood sons oj 


Man; in the scales (they are sure) to go up ; they are of vanity 
(or less than vanity) together. As to the supposed antithesis 
between men of high and low decree in the first clause, see above, 

O O 7 7 

on Ps. iv. 3 (2.) xlix. 3 (2.) Only vanity, see above, on Ps. 
xxxix. 6 (5.) A falsehood, something that deceives expectation, 
a false confidence. See above, on Ps. iv. 3 (2.) Of vanity, 
composed of it, containing nothing else ; or giving the particle 
its frequent comparative sense, (less) than vanity, or (vainer) 
than vanity (itself) The same doubt exists as to the meaning of 
the similar expressions in Isai. xl. 17. xli. 24. 

11 (10.) Trust not in oppression, and in robbery become not 
vain ; (on) wealth, when it grows, set not (your) heart. The 
first two nouns are used together in Lev. v. 23 (vi. 4) to signify that 
which is acquired by violence. They are not therefore to be 
taken as distinct grounds of confidence, but as different parts or 
different descriptions of the same. Become not vain, hy being 
assimilated to the vain, unsatisfying objects of your love and 
hope. See 2 Kings xvii. 15, and compare Jer. ii. 5. Job xxvii. 
12. The word translated icealkh means strictly strength or power, 
but is applied to pecuniary as well as military force. See above, 
on Ps. xlix. 7 (6.) Grows, literally sprouts, or springs up of its 
own accord, perhaps with an antithetical allusion to wealth gained 
by violence. Even when lawfully or accidentally acquired, set 
not your heart upon it. This phrase in Hebrew sometimes means 
nothing more than to apply the mind or give attention, and so 
some understand it here, ' when wealth increases, take no notice, 
think not of it' ; but the stronger sense of fixing the affections on 
it, loving it, and trusting it, is better in itself and better suited to 
the context. 

12, 13 (11, 12.) One (thing) hath God spoken, these tiov 
(things) have I heard, that strength (belongeth) unto God, and 
(that) unto thee, oh Lord, (belongeth) mercy, ( but) that thou wilt 


render to a man according to his deed (or doing.) There are 
really three attributes of God here mentioned, his power, his 
mercy, and his justice ; but as the last is only introduced to 
qualify the second, by a kind of afterthought, they may still be 
reckoned as but two. The construction given in the English and 
many other versions separates the sentences, and makes the first 
refer to a repeated utterance or revelation of the one truth there 
propounded, namely, that power oelongeth unto God. Instead of 
one things two things, we must then read once and twice. But 
this, though favoured by the imitation of the verse before us in 
Job xxxiii. 14. xl. 5, is not the most obvious construction here 
It is evident that one and two, when absolutely or elliptic-ally 
used, may sometimes mean one time, (i. e. once) and tico times, 
(i. e. twice) ; but it does not follow that the same words, in a 
different connection, may not mean one word or thing, two words 
or things. It is also a familiar practice of the sacred writers to 
borrow one another's words, or to repeat their own, with some 
slight change of sense or application. The pronoun (~t) in v. 12 

(11) may be either a demonstrative or relative, and on the latter 
supposition we may read, {there are) two (things) which 1 
have heard ; but the other is a simpler and more obvious con- 
struction. The apostrophe or sudden change of person in v. 13 

(12) is a figure of speech common in the psalms of David, and 
indicates a growing warmth of feeling, so that He who had just 
been calmly spoken of as absent, is abruptly addressed as if seen 
to be personally present. 


PSALM L X I 1 1 . 

1. A Psalm by David, in his being (when he was) in the wilder - 
nei<s of Judah This is the wilderness along the eastern frontier 
of the tribe of Judah. It is frequently mentioned in the history 
of Absalom's rebellion and of David's flight before him. See 
2 Sam. xv. 23, 28. xvi. 2, 14. xvii. 16. In that history we also 
meet with several of the very same expressions that are here 
used, which, together with the strong internal similarity of this 
psalm to some others having reference to Absalom's rebellion, 
such as Ps. iii, iv, xlii, Ixi, suffice to show that it belongs to the 
same period, and not to that of Saul's persecution, which is in- 
deed forbidden by the mention of the king in v. 12 (11.) The 
psalm consists of two parts, each exhibiting essentially the same 
succession of ideas, but with the variation usual in all such cases. 
Both begin with the expression of intense desire for God's pre- 
sence and communion with him, and end with a confident antici- 
pation of his mercy ; but in the first, vs. 2 — 9 (1 — 8), this is 
supposed to be displayed in the deliverance of the Psalmist from 
his sufferings ; in the second, vs. 7—12 (6—11), it is viewed as 
securine; the destruction of his enemies. 

2(1.) O God, my God {art) thou; I will seek thee early ; for 

thee thirsts my soul; for thee longs my flesh, in a dry land, weary, 

without ivater. The second divine name is the one denoting 

power, and might be translated here, my Mighty (One). The 



very use of it involves a direct appeal to God's omnipotence 
The verb in the first clause is connected in its etymology with a 
noun meaning the dawn of day, which occurs above, Ps. lvii. 9 (8.) 
The modern lexicographers exclude the sense of early, and sup- 
pose the verb to mean nothing more than seek in English, or at 
most to seek with eagerness. But that the notion of time is 
really included, seems to follow from the antithesis in Isai. 
xxvi. 9. The act of seeking a thing early implies impatience or 
importunate desire. The soul and the flesh together mean the 
whole man. See above, on Ps. xvi. 9. There is evident allu- 
sion to the actual privations experienced by David in the wilder- 
ness of Judah. See the places cited in the note upon v. 1, to 
which add 2 Sam. xvii. 2. The Hebrew word for weary is there 
applied to David himself, which requires or allows the same ap- 
plication in the case before us, especially as the form of the 
adjective is masculine, and land is feminine. The strict gram- 
matical concord is perhaps with flesh, which is a masculine in 

3 (2.) To see thy power and thy glory, so (as) I have beheld 
thee in the sanctuary. The first clause states the object of the 
strong desire expressed in the preceding verse. To make this 
connection clear, the clauses are transposed in the common ver- 
sion, which is here retained, as being, on the whole, the best 
among the many which have been proposed. One of the latest 
makes the verse an acknowledgment, that he had actually found 
a sanctuary in the desert, because it is always to be found where 
God is pleased to manifest his presence. But however sound 
and scriptural this sentiment may be, it can hardly be extracted 
from the verse before us without violence. 

4 (3.) Because thy favour is better than life, my lips shall 
praise thee. A simpler construction, and perhaps more agreeable 
to Hebrew usage, is that which makes the first clause give a 

PSALM LXlir. 8 3 

reason for tlic strong desire expressed in the foregoing verses, 
for thy favour is belter than life, and the last clause merely add 
a pledge of thankful acknowledgment, my lips shall praise thee. 
Better than life, not merely than the life I now live, which was 
scarcely entitled to be so considered, but better than any life I 
could live, destitute of God's favour, which is therefore more 
than a sufficient substitute or compensation. 

5 (4.) So will I bless thee in my life, in thy name will I raise 
my hands. So, that is, according to the gift bestowed. Bless, 
i. e. praise and thank thee. See above, on Ps xvi. 7. xxxiv. 
2 (1.) In my life may either mean as long as I live, which is 
the obvious and usual interpretation, or when restored to life, from 
this state of living death, which is the sense preferred by some 
of the best interpreters, on account of the supposed allusion to 
better than life in the preceding verse ; but it is far from being the 
most natural construction. In thy name, invoking thee as the object 
of my worship, and particularly of my thankful praise. Lift up 
my hands in prayer, and more specifically here, in thanksgiving. 
See above, on Ps. xxviii. 3 (2.) 

6 (5.) As (with) marroio and fatness shall my soul be satisfied, 
and (with) lips of rejoicing shall my mouth praise (thee.) He 
continues the expression of his joyful confidence and hope. Mar- 
row and fatness are used to represent two Hebrew words both 
meaning animal fat, here put for rich food, and that for abund- 
ant supplies of every kind. Lips of rejoicings may denote either 
joyful lips, or lips by which rejoicings are uttered. The uncon- 
ditional engagement to praise God implies, as usual, a firm belief 
that he will have occasion so to do. See above, on Ps. v. 8 (7.) 

7 (G.) When I remember thee upon my bed, in the watches 1 
will meditate upon thee. The first word in Hebrew is the one 


commonly translated if; but the condition indicated b ii is 
sometimes specifically that of time. There seems to be. refer- 
ence in this verse to the old division of the night, for municipal 
and military purposes, into three watches, the first (Lwn. ii. 19), 
the middle (Judg. vii. 19), and the morning watch (Ex. xiv. 
.24. 1 Sam. xi. 11.) See below, on Ps. xc. 4. I will meditate 
of thee , or more literally, in thee, implying an entire absorption 
of his powers and affections in the object. See above, on Ps. 

8 (7.) For thou hast been a help to me, and in the shadow of 
thy wings will I rejoice. The protection which he has experi- 
enced already he is sure of still enjoying in the time to come. 
The translation of the first verb as a present {thou art my help) 
not only weakens the antithesis but violates a constant usage. 
See above, on Ps. lix. 17 (16.) lxi. 4 (3.) The image pre- 
sented in the last clause is the same as that in Ps. xvii. 8. xxxvi 
8 (7.) Mi. 2(1.) lxi. 5 (4.) 

9 (8.) My soul cleaves after thee, thy right hand holds me. This 
is a strong metaphorical description of the mutual relation be- 
tween God and the believer ; a relation of trustful dependence 
on the one hand, and of constant favour and protection on the 
other. Cleaves after is a frequent phrase for follows cleaving to 
thee. The right hand is the constant symbol of strength. See 
above, on Ps. xviii. 36 (35.) xliv. 4 (3.) lx. 6 (5.) 

10 (9.) And they to (their) ruin are seeking my soul ; they 
shall go into the depths of the earth. The phrase to ruin has 
precisely the same sense as in Ps. xxxv. S, namely, to their own 
destruction. Arc seeking , will seek ; the idea suggested by the 
future is, that if they still 'persist in seeking it, they will do so 
to their own destruction. Some obtain the same sense by a 
different construction, they (shall come) to ruin (who) arc seek- 



ing my soul ; but this supposes two ellipses, -which are not to he 
assumed without necessity. Still less satisfactory is the con- 
struction which regards the whole verse as a single proposition : 
they (who) seek my soul to ruin (or destroy it) shall go, etc. To 
seek the soul implies a purpose of destruction, without any quali- 
fying adjunct, even in prose. See 2 Sam. xvi. 11. The depths 
of the earth y literally, its lower or lowest parts, which may simply 
mean the grave (as we say under ground) , or contain an allusion to 
the fate of Korah and his company (Num. xvi. 31 — 34.) See 
above, on Ps. lv. 16 (15.) 

11 (10.) They shall be abandoned to the power of the sword, 
the prey of jackals shall they be. The literal translation of the 
first clause is, they shall pour him out upon the hands of the 
sword, where the use of the plural verb in an indefinite or pas- 
sive sense, and the sudden alternation of the singular and plural 
form in speaking of the enemy, together with the bold and 
idiomatic figures of a sword with hands and men poured on 
them, present such a concurrence of apparent solecisms as can 
be made intelligible only by a paraphrase. The word translated 
prey means properly a share or portion; it occurs above, Ps. 
xi. 6. xvi. 5. The other noun in this clause is the common 
Hebrew word for foxes, but is used with so much latitude as to 
include the jackal, which sense must be here preferred, as the 
fox does not prey upon dead men, unless the clause be under- 
stood to mean nothing more than that they shall be left lying in 
the desert, where these creatures have their home, which is a 
good sense, but much weaker than the one just put upon the 

12 (11.) And the king shall rejoice in God ; fin him) shall 
every one boast ("or glory) that sioears by him, because the mouth 
of those speaking falsehood shall be shut (or stopped.) Instead 
of the personal pronoun he inserts his official title, the king, i. e. 


I as king. Rejoice in God, i. e. in union with him and in the 
experience of his favour. Boast or praise himself, i. e. felicitate 
himself on the possession of these glorious distinctions and ad- 
vantages. Swearing by him, i. e. as some suppose, by the king 
here mentioned, according to the old Egyptian custom (Gen. 
xlii. 15, 16), of which we find some traces even in Israel (1 Sam. 
xvii 55. xxv. 26. 2 Sam. xi. 11.) If this were the true gram- 
matical construction we might perhaps explain the phrase to 
mean swearing to him, i. e. swearing fealty or allegiance, doing 
homage to him as a rightful sovereign. But there is in fact no 
sufficient reason for departing from the obvious construction 
which refers the pronoun to the nearest antecedent, God. The 
last clause assigns the immediate occasion of the joy and triumph 
here predicted, namely the defeat of false and treacherous insur- 
gents. See above, on Ps. lxii. 5 (4), and compare 2 Sam. xviii. 
7, 8. 


1. To the Chief Musician. A Psalm by David. The 
correctness of this title is abundantly established by the marked 
internal similarity between this and other psalms of David. Its 
very structure is Davidic, exhibiting the two familiar elements of 
a prayer for deliverance from wicked enemies, vs. 2 — 6 (1 — 5), 
and a confident anticipation of a favourable answer, vs. 7 — 11 

2(1) Hear, ok God, my voice in my complaint ; from fear of 
the enemy thou wilt preserve my life. Here, ns in Ps liv. 3 (1), 


the expression of confidence insinuates itself into the prayer itself. 
Complaint^ literally, musing, meditation, but with special refer- 
ence to suffering and danger. See above, on Ps. lv. 3 (2.) 
Fear of the enemy, that which I have reason to fear fro*m him. 

3 (2.) Thou wilt hide me from the secret of evil doers, from 
the tumult of the workers of iniquity. By secret we are here to 
understand their confidential consultations and the devices there 
matured. See above, on Ps. xxv. 14. The participle doing 
evil, used as a noun {evil doers) to describe the whole class of 
wicked men, is a favourite expression of David's. See above, 
Ps. xxii. 17 (16.) xxvi. 5. xxvii. 2. xxxvii. 1, 9. As secrecy be- 
longs to the formation of the plot, so does noise or tumult to its 
execution. The same figures are combined, but in a very different 
application, Ps. lv. 15 (14.) 

4 (3.) Who have sharpened, like the sword, their tongue, have 
strung their arrow, bitter speech. The figure in the first clause is 
a favourite with David. See above, en Ps. lii. 4 (2.) lvii. 5 (4.) 
lix. 8 (7.) Strung their arrow, literally trod (i. e. bent) it, 
which must either be explained as an ellipsis — bent their (bow to 
shoot their) arrow — or as a poetical transfer to the arrow of what 
is strictly applicable only to the bow. See above, on Ps. lviii. 
S (7.) The figure of an arrow is peculiarly appropriate to the 
poignant pain produced by insult and calumny, which is also well 
expressed by the epithet bitter. Compare Deut. xxxii. 24. 1 
Sam. xv. 32. 

5 (4.) To shoot in secret places (at) the perfect ; suddenly they 
will shoot him, and will not fear . With the first clause compare 
Ps. x. 8. xi. 2. The perfect, the sincere and upright servant of 
God, who is free from all fatal and essential defect of character. 
See above, on Ps. xv. 2. xviii. 24. (23.) vii. 9 (8.) xxv. 21. xxvi 
I, 11. xxxvii. 37, in the last of which places the Hebrew adjee- 


tive has the same form as in the case before us. And will not 
fear , i. e. without being deterred by the fear of God or man. 
See above, on Ps. lv. 20 (19.) 

6 (5.) They will strengthen for themselves an evil word; they 
will tell about hiding snares ; they have said, who icill see to them? 
To strengthen is to make strong, to construct so as to be strong. 
An evil word is an idiomatic phrase for a malignant plot, so 
called because it is the fruit of mutual discourse and consultation. 
See above, on Ps. xli. 9 (8.) Tell about, count and recount 
their various devices, past and present. See above, on Ps. lix. 
13 (12.) The interrogation in the last clause is an indirect one ; 
the equivalent direct form would be, who will see to us, i. e 
regard us? Compare Ps. x. 11. lix. 8 (7.) 

7 (6.) They search out iniquities ; (they say) We are ready — 
a consummate flan ! and the inward thought and heart of {every) 
man (is) deep. They rack their invention and ransack their 
memory for modes of doing mischief. We are ready, literally 
finished, just as we might say in English, we are done. The next 
phrase consists of a passive participle, derived from the verb at 
the beginning of the sentence, and a cognate noun. The parti- 
ciple here corresponds to exquisite, recherche, something not to be 
had without laborious search, and the noun describes the product 
of the search itself. The last clause is added to enhance the 
danger, by representing the device as springing not from shallow, 
superficial, but profound contrivance. Inward thought, literally 
inside, an equivalent to heart often used by David. See above, 
on Ps. v. 10 (9.) xlix. 12 (11.) lv. 16 (15.) lxii. 5 (4.) 

S (7.) But God has shot them — with an arrow — suddenly — 
the wounds are theirs. By an abrupt but beautiful transition h<? 
describes the tables as completely turned upon the enemy 
The antithesis is rendered very striking by the repetition Oj 



the verb, noun, and adverb used in vs. 4, 5 (3, 4.) Just as they 
are about to shoot an arrow suddenly at the righteous, God 
shoots an arrow suddenly at them. The wounds which they 
intended to inflict on others have become (^fi) their own. 
When they thought to strike others, they were struck themselves. 
The general idea is the same as in Ps. vii. 12 — 17 (11 — 1G.) 
liii. 6 (o.) lvii. 7 (6.) The adversative particle at the beginning 
is substituted for the simple copulative of the Hebrew, to make 
the transition or antithesis more obvious in English. See above, 
onPs. lii. 10 (8.) lv. 14 (13.) 

9 (8.) And he has cast them down; upon them (comes) their 
own tongue ; all shall flee gazing at them. Cast down, literally, 
made to fall or stumble. See the use of the same verb in histor- 
ical prose, 2 Chron. 25. 8, and compare the original of 2 Chron. 
xxviii. 23. The construction is indefinite, as in Ps. lxiii. 11 (10), 
they have cast him doicn, i. e. he is cast down, meaning the enemy 
as an ideal person, who, according to the usage of these psalms, 
is immediately afterwards referred to in the plural number. 
Their tongue, i. e. the consequences of their false, malignant 
speeches and their mischievous deliberations. The verb in the 
last clause is an intensive form of the one used in Ps. xxxi. 
12 (11.) lv. S (7.) Gazing at them, not simply seeing them, 
but seeing with emotion, whether that of wonder, joy, or terror. 
See above, on Ps. liv. 9 (7.) lix. 11 (10.) The clause seems to 
contain an allusion to the flight of the people, when the earth 
opened to devour Korah and his company, Num.-xvi. 34. 

10 (9.) And all men fear, and pronounce (it) Godh doing, 
and his work they understand. The conversive futures show the 
dependence of the sentence upon that which goes before it and 
describe the action not as actually past, but as directly conse- 
quent upon the great catastrophe described in the preceding 


context. And declared the work of God, i. e. pronounced it to 
be such. Compare Ex. viii. 19. His work they understand, i. e. 
no longer foolishly ascribe it to mere chance or human agency. 

11 (10.) Glad shall the righteous be in Jehovah, and shall trust 
in him ; and (in him) shall boast (or glory) all the upright in 
heart. Having described the effect of the divine interposition on 
the wicked and on men in general, he now shows how it will affect 
the righteous. In Jehovah means, as usual, in union with him 
and possession of him. The word translated trust is that which 
seems originally to denote the act of seeking shelter under an 
overshadowing object. See above, on Ps. lxiii. 8 (7.) With 
the last clause compare Ps. lviii. 11 (10.) lxiii. 12 (H.J 

P S A L M L X Y. 

1. To the t Chief Musician. A Psalm. By David. A Song, 
i. e. a song of praise. See above, on Ps. xlviii. 1. xlii. 9 (8.) 
God is first praised in general, as a God of mercy and benevo- 
lence to all men, vs. 2 — 9 (1 — 8), and then in particular, as the 
giver of fruitful seasons and abundance, vs. 10 — 14 (9 — 13.) 

2(1.) To thee (belongeth) silence, praise, oh God, in Zion, 
and to thee shall be paid the void The two words silence-praise 
form a kind of compound term, like humility -righteousness in 
Ps. xlv. 5 m (4,) meaning, as some suppose, silent praise, but this is 
hardly consistent with the fact that the praise here offered is 
vocal. More probably it means such praise as is accompanied 
by a cessation of all tumultuous and passionate excitement. See 


above, on Ps. Ixii. 2, 6 (1, 5.) In Zion, as the appointed place 
of prayer and praise under the old economy. The last clause 
implies that fresh occasion was continually given for thankful 
vows and their fulfilment, by the constant repetition of God's 
providential favours. 

3 (2.) Hearer of prayer, up to thee shall all flesh come. The 
first word in Hebrew is a participle, hearing, thou who habitually 
nearest prayer. This is mentioned as one of the divine cha- 
racters or attributes. Up to thee, even to thee, implying actual 
arrival, and therefore a stronger expression than unto thee. All 
flesh sometimes means all animals, all living creatures (Gen. vi. 

17, 19), but is here used in its narrower sense of all mankind 
(Gen. vi. 3, 12.) To thee they shall come, i. e. must come, for 
the supply of their necessities, the forgiveness of their sins, and 
in short for every good and perfect gift (James i. 17), both of a 
temporal and spiritual nature. 

4 (3.) Words of iniquities are too strong for me; (as for J our 
transgressions, thou wilt expiate, them, or forgive them for the sake 
of an atonement. Words of iniquities is by some regarded as 
a pleonastic paraphrase for iniquities themselves. More pro- 
bably, however, the phrase means the charge or accusation of 
iniquity. See above, on Ps. vii. 1. xli. 9, (8), and below, on 
Ps. cv. 27. Too strong for me, more than I am able to account 
for or endure. See above, on Ps. xl. 13 (12), and below, on Ps. 
exxx. 3. The last clause contains the encouragement suited 
to the alarming situation mentioned in the first. 


5 (4.) Happy (he whomj thou wilt choose and bring (him) 
near, i. e. admit him to thy presence and to intimate communion 
with thee, (so that) he shall inhabit thy courts ; we shall be sated, 
satisfied or filled, icith the good, i. c. the pleasure, the enjoyment, 
of thy house, the holy (place) thy temple, or thy holy temple, thy 


sanctuary, an expression used both of the tabernacle and the 
temple properly so called. See above, on Ps. v. 8 (7.) The 
privilege described is not merely that of public worship at the 
place of God's appointment, but of residence in his family and 
participation in the privileges of his household. See above, on 
Ps. xv. 1. xxiii. 6. The change from the third person singular 
to the first plural shows that the former was only an individuali- 
zation of the church or chosen people. 

6 (5.) Fearful things in righteousness thou wilt answer us, oh 
God of our salvation, the confidence of all the ends of the land 
and sea — (even) the furthest. Thou wilt give us fearful answers 
to our prayers, i. e. such as are suited to excite religious rever- 
ence and awe. The confidence, the object of their trust. Earth 
(or land) and sea are put together to describe the whole world, 
and the ends of both for the remotest countries, which idea is 
then expressed directly, by the word at the end of the sentence. 
The superlative cannot be expressed in Hebrew, but is here 
suggested by the context. The sense is not that all men actually 
feel this trust in God, but that whether they feel it or not, they 
are really dependent upon him alone. Compare Isai. xlii. 4. 

7 (6.) Fixing the mountains ly his strength, girded with 
power. This verse accounts for the dependence of all creatures 
upon God by a reference to his almighty power, which is not 
described in general terms, but by one of its effects or acts, the 
settling of the mountains, as the most solid and immovable 
portions of the earth. He is then metaphorically represented as 
girded or invested with power. See below, on v. 13 (12.) 

8 (7.) Stilling the roar of seas, the roar of their ivaves, the 
tumult of nations. The sentence is continued from the foregoing 
verse. God not only formed the material universe at first, but 
still controls it. There is here a beautiful transition from the 
literal to the figurative use of the same language. It is true, in 



the strict sense, that God stills the raging of the seas ; but it is 
also true that he subdues the commotion of human societies and 
states, of which the sea is a natural and common emblem. See 
above, on Ps. xlvi. 3, 4 (2, 3.) Hence he adds in express terms, 
the t u m ult of not tions . 

9 (8.) Then were afraid those inhabiting the ends (or most 
distant parts) of thy signs. ; the outgoings of morning and evening 
thou wilt make to shout (or sing.) Then is not expressed in 
Hebrew, but employed in the translation to show the dependence 
of the verb on that of the preceding sentence. The sense is that 
whenever God thus stills the tumult of the nations, even the 
remotest are affected by his signs, i. e. the sensible indications of 
his presence and immediate agency. Outgoings is a local noun 
in Hebrew, and denotes the places where the evening and the 
morning come forth or begin, i. e. the points at which the sun sets 
and rises, the east and west, here put for eastern and western 
lands, and these for their inhabitants. That the fear mentioned 
in the first clause is not mere slavish dread, but an affection per- 
fectly compatible with joy, is clear from the remainder of the 

10 (9.) Thou hast visited the earth and drenched it ; thou wilt 
much enrich it; the river of God is full of water ; thou wilt 
prepare their corn, for thus thou dost prepare it, i. e. the earth, 
for this very purpose. God is said to visit his creatures when he 
manifests his presence with them, whether in the way of judgment 
or of mercy. See above, on Ps. viii. 5 (4.) Drenched, soaked, 
or made to overflow. The word translated much is the same as in 
Ps. lxii. 3 (2.) The river of God, as opposed to earthly streams. 
However these may fail, the divine resources are exhaustless. 
Their corn, that required for men's subsistence. See above, on 
Ps. iv. 8 (7.) The meaning of the last clause seems to be that 


he who provides rain to fertilize the earth, may be expected to 
provide the fruit itself. 

11 (10.) Its furrows drench, its ridges beat down; with 
showers thou wilt soften it ; its vegetation thou wilt bless. The 
first verb means to water abundantly, the second to lower or beat 
down, implying a great violence of rain. The word translated 
showers, according to its etymology and usage, denotes frequent 
and abundant rains. Soften, dissolve, or loosen it. The Hebrew 
verb is a derivative of that in Ps. xlvi. 7 (6.) Vegetation, 
germination, that which sprouts or springs up from the seed when 
sown. Some make the verbs in the first clause infinitives, 
determined by the finite tenses which precede and follow. But 
their form permits them to be taken as imperatives, from which 
the transition to the future is entirely natural and in accordance 
with the usage of David's psalms, whenever an expression of 
confident anticipation is to be immediately subjoined to one of 
strong desire. See above, on Ps. liv. 3.(1.) 

12 (11.) Thou hast crowned the year of thy goodness, and thy 
paths drop fatness. The first clause may either mean, thou hast 
crowned the year with thy goodness, or, as some prefer to construe 
it, thou hast crowned the year of thy goodness, the year distin- 
guished by thy goodness, with particular instances and proofs of 
that goodness. The obvious meaning of the strong but beautiful 
figure in the last clause is, that wherever he appears his move- 
ments are attended by a rich and fertilizing influence. Fatness 
is as usual a figure for rich food, and that for general abundance. 

13 (12.) They drop — the pa shores of the wilderness, and (with) 
joy the hills are girt. The word translated pastures properly 
means dwellings, but is specially applied to folds and pastures, as 
the places to which flocks resort. See above, on Ps. xxiii. 1. 
The word translated wilderness, according to its most probable 


etymology, originally signifies, not a "barren desert, but a tract of 
country neither tilled nor thickly peopled, though perhaps luxur- 
iant and abundant as a pasture ground. The general metaphor 
of clothing which occurs in the next verse, is here anticipated by 
the specific one of a girdle, as that which surrounds the body and 
confines the dress. See above, on Ps. xviii. 33 (32.) 

14 (13.) The pastures are clothed with flocks, and the vales 
shall he robed in grain ; they shall shout (for joy), yea, they shall 
sing. Some translate the first clause, the flocks are clothed with 
lambs , denying that the first noun in Hebrew ever means pastures. 
But see above, on Ps. xxxvii. 20. The image presented in the 
first translation is certainly more natural and beautiful. It also 
makes the parallelism more complete, the fields being covered by 
the waving crops in the same sense that the meadows are covered 
by the grazing flocks. In the last clause the pastures and 
valleys, by a beautiful personification, are described as breaking 
forth into shouts of joy and songs of praise. See above, on Ps 
lx. 10 (8.) 


1. To the Chief Musician. A Song. A Psalm. Shout 
unto God, all the earth ! The second clause of the inscription 
represents it as a psalm of praise. See above, on Ps. lxv. 1. 
This is confirmed by the contents and structure of the psalm 
itself, in which we have, first, a general celebration of God's 
wonderful dealings with his people in all ages, vs. 1 — 7 ; then a 
similar acknowledgment of what he had done m a particular case, 


vs. 8 — 12 ; and lastly a pledge or promise of thanksgiving, vs. 
13 — 20. The resemblance to the forty-sixth psalm has led some 
to suppose, that this psalm was occasioned by the same event, or 
composed in imitation of the other, for the use of the church in 
similar emergencies. The verb shout is plural in its form, which 
shows that earth has a collective sense. 

2. Sing the honour of his name ; give (him) honour , (give) 
him praise. The honour or glory of his name is that due to his 
manifested excellence. See above, on Ps. xxix. 2. Give, literally 
place or put, the verbs expressing these ideas being often inter- 
changed in Hebrew. The same phrase that is here used occurs 
also in Jo£«h. vii. 19. Isai. xlii. 12, and is clearly equivalent to 
give honour in Ps. xxix. 1,2. lxviii. 35 (34.) Jer. xiii. 16. The 
form of the last clause is peculiar, give honour (as or to) his 

3. How fearful are thy doings ! In the greatness of thy 
strength shaE thine enemies lie to thee. Here begin, as some in- 
terpreters suppose, the words in which the required praise is to 
be rendered to Jehovah ; an admissible, though not by any 
means a necessary supposition. The first clause may likewise be 
translated, how fearful (art thou in) thy doings, after the analogy 
of v. 5 below, the ellipsis of the pronoun being similar to that in 
Ps. lxviii. 36 (35.) In the greatness of thy strength, i. e. because 
of it, or rather in the knowledge and belief of it. See above, on 
Ps. v. 8 (7.) Lie to thee, make false professions of allegiance, 
yield a feigned obedience, through the influence of fear. See 
above, on Ps. xviii. 45 (44.) 

4. All the earth shall worship thee and sing to thee ; they shall 
sing thy name. Selah. Here again the verbs are plural, showing 
that all the earth is to be taken in a collective sense, as meaning 
all lands, or all the dwellers upon earth. See above, on v. 1 


Worship thee, bow or prostrate themselves before thee, as an act 
both of civil and religious homage. See above, on Ps. v. 8 (7. 
They shall not only sing to thee but sing thy name, i. e. not only 
celebrate thy being but thy manifested nature, the attributes re- 
vealed by thy previous works. This anticipation of universal 
homage to Jehovah is in strict accordance with the whole spirit 
and design of the Mosaic dispensation. 

5. Go , r.:c the works of God, fearful (in) action on t/ie sons of 
man. The verb go is often used in Hebrew, as a formula of 
invitation or of challenge, where in English we say come. See 
below, v. 16, and compare Isai. 2. 3, 5. In this case, however, go 
may be intended to express something more than would have been 
expressed by come. The meaning may be, if you do not believe 
these general declarations of God's power and dominion, go and 
see for yourselves the jDroofs already given in the history of man- 
kind, arid more especially in that of Israel : go to Egypt, to the 
Red Sea, to the Wilderness, to Jordan, and in the wonders there 
performed and still repeated in the experience of the church, see 
the evidence that God is indeed possessed of a tremendous power 
to control and influence mankind. With the first clause compare 
Ps. xlvi. 9 (S), the only other place where the word tVilbJBJa 

(5. He turned the sea into the dry (land) ; through the river they 
shall pass on foot ; there will we rejoice in him. There is an 
obvious allusion to the crossing of the Red Sea and the Jordan, 
not as mere historical events, but as types or samples of God's 
extraordinary interpositions on behalf of Israel, such as might be 
realized again in their experience. Hence the promiscuous use of 
preterite and future forms, as if to say, the God of Israel will 
again turn the Red Sea into dry land for the passage of his peo- 
ple ; if need be, they shall again cross the Jordan dry shod ; there, 
on the scene of these miraculous events, shall we again rejoice in 

VOL. II. 5 


him. The combination of sea and river seems to show that by 
the latter we must understand Jordan, and not as some interpreters 
suppose, the Euphrates, which is commonly so called. But see 
Isai. xi. 15, 16. Zech. x. 11. 

7. Hiding by his might forever ; his eyes over (or among) the 
nations watch ; let not the rebels exalt themselves. Selah. The 
participle in the first clause is expressive of habitual action, 
' he constantly, habitually rules.' See above, Ps. xxii. 29 (28.) 
By his might, with which he was before described as girded. Sec 
above, Ps. lxv. 7 (6.) The noun eternity is used adverbially to 
mean forever. The divine inspection here described implies that 
man can no more evade God's power than resist it. The last- 
clause may be either a prayer to God or an admonition to his 
enemies. Exalt themsehes : the Keri or marginal reading is be 
high for them (or for themselves) ; the Kethib or textual reading, 
lift (or raise) for themselves, in which case horn may be supplied 
from Ps. lxxv. 5, 6 (4, 5), or head from Ps. ex. 7. The rebels, 
i. e. against God, his stubborn and incorrigible enemies. 

8. Bless, oh ye nations, our God, cause to be heard the voice of 
his {praise ! To the general description of God's gracious dispen- 
sations towards his people there seems now to be added the 
commemoration of a particular event of this kind ; not one of 
merely local interest, however, but of such importance, that the 
nations are invited to unite in praising God for it. See above, on 
Ps. xviii. 50 (49.) xxii. 28 (27.) 

9. The (one) putting, who puts, our soul in life, and has not 
given (up) to removal our foot, has not allowed it. to move or 
slip. ..The unusual expression in the first clause seems to mean 
restoration to life, a figure for relief from great distress, which is 
not unfrecuiently described as death. See above, on Ps. xxx. 
4 (3.) xlix. 16 (15.) To set in life is not unlike the phrase to 


set in safety, Ps. xii. 6 (5.) The form of expression in the last 
clause is analogous to that in Ps. lv. 23 (22) above, and identical 
with that in Ps. exxi. 3 below. Given up to removal, suffered to 
be moved from its firm position or its place of safety. 

10. For thou hast tried us, ch God, thou hast purged (or 
assayed) us like the purging of silver, as silver is purged, with 
particular reference, as some suppose, to the long continued and 
repeated process of refinement necessary in the case of silver. 
See above, on Ps. xii. 7 (6.) xxvi. 2, and compare Isai. i. 25. 
xlviii. 10. Zech. xiii. 9. 1 Pet. i. 7. The general idea here is 
that of affliction, as a means both of trial and purgation, and is 
carried out in the following verses. 

11. Thou hast caused us to come into the net ; thou hast put 
pressure in our loins. The first clause is descriptive of complica- 
ted difficulties and embarrassments, the second of suffering and 
weakness. The word translated net occurs above in the very 
different sense of a tower or fortress, Ps. xviii. 3 (2.) But even 
when so used, it strictly means a hunting toicer, i. e. a post of 
observation and of safety used by hunters, and from the same 
root ("TO to hunt) may be deduced the sense of net or snare, as 
a customary implement of hunting, in which sense it is certainly 
employed by Ezekiel (xii. 13.) The word translated pressure 
occurs only here, but its essential meaning is clear from its ety- 
mological affinities. Compare the cognate form in Ps. lv. 4 (3.) 
Some suppose the idea to be that of a superincumbent pressure, 
load or burden, corresponding to the verb as used in Amos ii. 13. 
Others make pressure mean contraction, stricture, and by neces- 
sary implication, pain or anguish. The loins are mentioned as the 
seat of strength (Deut. xxxiii. (11), an injury to which implies 
both pain and weakness. See below, on Ps. lxix. 24 (23.) 

12. Thou hast caused (or suffered men to ride at our head , 


we came into the fire and into the waters, and (now) thou hast 
caused us to come forth to abundance, overflow, i. e. of enjoyment. 
Man, frail or mortal man, whose tyranny is therefore the more 
insupportable. See above, on Ps. viii. 5 (4.) This first clause 
is ambiguous, in Hebrew as in English. To ride at our head, 
though an exact translation, suggests only the idea of command 
or guidance, whereas some kind of suffering is required by the 
context. The common version, to ride over our heads, presents 
the image of horsemen trampling on their conquered enemies. 
Some suppose the idea to be that of riding on us, as a man con- 
trolls and guides the horse that carries him. The head must then 
be mentioned only as the noblest part, without implying that the 
rider actually sits upon it. But this very circumstance makes the 
interpretation an unnatural and forced one. Fire and water, 
as the two great destroying elements, are common figures for dis- 
tress and danger. Compare Isaiah xliii. 2. The last Hebrew 
word in the verse occurs only here and in Ps. xxiii. 5. 

13. I will come (to) thy house with burnt-offerings ; I will pay 
to thee my vows, i. e. the offerings thus promised. His acknow- 
ledgments shall not be merely verbal or mental, but ceremonial, i. e. 
expressed in the symbolical form required by the dispensation 
under which he lived. The reference is neither to internal feel- 
ings nor to outward rites exclusively, but to both together. See 
above, on Ps. xl. 7 (6.) 1. 8. li. 18 (16.) With the last clause, 
compare Ps. Ixv. 2 (\.) The sudden change of number, from 
the plural to the singular, shows that what follows is the words of 
an ideal speaker, representing the same persons who had spoken 
in the foregoing context, if not identical with them. 

14. Which my lips uttered and my mouth sjpaJce in my distress 
The first verb is a very strong and expressive one, in this con- 
nection not unlike our familiar phrases, bolted, blurted out, imply- 
ing that he spoke from some irresistible impulse, and thus sug- 


nesting what is afterwards explicitly affirmed, that the vows in 
question were occasioned by extreme distress. The Hebrew verb 
originally means to open or distend the lips, whether as a gesture 
of mockery (Lam. ii. 16) or menace (Ps. xxii. 14), or for the pur- 
pose of articulate speech (Job xxxv. 16.) That its absolute use, 
in special reference to vows spontaneously and hastily uttered, 
was familiar to the ancients, may be seen from Judg. xi. 35, 36. 
In my distress : the original expression is, in the distress to me 
See above, on Ps. xviii. 7 (6.) 

15. Burnt-offerings of failings will I offer to thee, with incense 
of rams; I will make (an oblation of) cattle with he-goats. Selah. 
The word translated failings is especially applied to lambs, Isai. 
v. 17. The verb is the first clause in the one from which the 
noun rendered burnt-offering is derived, and strictly means I 
will cause to ascend, i. e. upon the altar, or in vapour from it. 
Incense may here be taken in its etymological sense of something 
hurnt sacrificially, although in usage limited to aromatic fumiga- 
tions, which is also the case with the Hebrew word in every place 
but this, where it seems to mean the sacrificial fat that was 
burned upon the altar. The verb to make is absolutely used, as 
a technical term of the Mosaic Law, to denote the act of sacri- 
fice. See Ex. xxix. 36. Lev. ix. 7, and compare Judg. vi. 19. 
1 Kings xviii. 23, 26. The different species of victims are enu- 
merated here, to convey the idea of a regular and perfect sacri- 
fice, implying more than ordinary thankfulness. 

16. Go (or in our idiom, come), hear, all ye fearers of (ye that 
fear) God, and I will tell you what he hath done to (or for) my 
soul. The fearers of Jehovah is a common description of be- 
lievers or the people of God. See Ps. Ix. 6 (4.) lxi. 6 (5. J The 
invitation is like that in Ps. xxii. 24 (23.) Tell, in the primary 
sense of counting or numbering, and the secondary one of re- 
counting or relating. To my son!, i. e. to me, whose life oi 


soul was threatened. To me as the object of the act alluded to, 
or for me, as the person to be benefited. This address prepares 
the way for the ensuing declaration, founded on his own experi- 
ence, that it is only by sincere submission and devotion to God 
that his protection is to be secured. 


17. To him, (with) my mouth I called , and high 'praise (exalta- 
tion) was under my tongue. By a slight change in the pointing, 
or by supposing an irregularity of punctuation, the last clause 
may be rendered, he was extolled under my tongue, i. e, by means 
of it as an instrument of praise. But as a corresponding plural 
form occurs below, Ps. cxlix. 6, the Hebrew word (Sfri 1 "!) is pro- 
bably a noun, meaning lofty praise, or exaltation by means of 
praise. Under my tongue may be simply equivalent to on or 
with my tongue, or it may be intended to suggest the additional 
idea of a store or deposit of such praises still in reserve, to be 
employed hereafter, which some suppose to be the meaning of the 
phrase in Ps. x. 7. 

18. Iniquity if I have seen in my heart, the Lord will not hear. 
If I had any wicked end in view, G-od would not hear my prayer. 
The same idea is expressed in Prov. xv. 29. Isai. i. 15. lix. 2 
John ix. 31. 1 John iii. 22. It is here stated as the ground 
on which he means to argue his own innocence of any such cor- 
rupt design, and actually does so in the next verse. 

19. (But) verily God hath heard ; he hath attended to the voice 
of my prayer. The Hebrew particle at the beginning is strictly 
not adversative but affirmative. See above, on Ps. xxxi. 23 (22.) 
It is equivalent in force to our expressions, whereas, really, in 
fact, etc. The doubt subjected in the foregoing verse had been 
removed in his case by the application of the test there mentioned. 
God had already heard his prayer and thereby borne witness that 
he was not guilty of the duplicity in question. 

PSALM LXVI1. 10 3 

(20.) Blessed (he) God who hath not put away my prayer 
(from him) and his mercy from me. Here as elsewhere, when 
applied to God, blessed can only mean praised or entitled to be 
praised. The double application of the verb in the last clause 
cannot well be imitated in translation. The same word in 
Hebrew may be used to express the act of rejecting a petition, 
and that of withdrawing or withholding favour. 


1. To the Chief Musician. With (or on) stringed instruments. 
A Psalm, a Song, i. e. a psalm of praise. See above, on Ps. 
Ixvi. 1. For the meaning of the second clause of this inscription, 
see above, on Ps. lv. 1, and compare Ps. lxi. 1. The psalm 
before us, like the sixty-fifth, seems to have special reference to 
the manifestation of God's goodness in the gift of fruitful seasons 
and abundant harvests. See below, on v. 7 (6), and above, on 
Ps. lxv. 1. But from this the Psalmist, or the Church, of which 
he is the spokesman, takes occasion to anticipate the extension of 
God's covenanted gifts, both temporal and spiritual, to all the 
nations of the earth. This expectation is indeed the burden of 
the psalm, its immediate occasion being only mentioned inciden- 
tally near the close, yet not so obscurely as to make it doubtful. 
Any formal division of this short and simple composition can 
only tend to mar its beauty 

2 (1.) God he merciful unto us and bless us, and cause his face 
to shine upon us ! The form of expression is evidently borrowed 


from the sacerdotal benediction, Num. vi. 24, 25, but with a 
substitution of the first person plural for the second singular, so 
as to convert the authoritative blessing upon others into an 
expression of desire for themselves. The optative meaning of 
the sentence is determined by the form of the second verb in 
Hebrew, Upon us, literally with us, a form of speech probably 
intended to suggest the idea of the divine presence and commu- 
nron. As to the figure in the last clause, see above, on Ps. iv 
7 (6.) xxxi. 17 (16.) 

3 (2.) That thy way may be known in the earth, in all nations 
thy salvation. The original construction of the first clause is, to 
know in the earth thy way ; but the sense can only be made clear 
in English by a passive form. Thy way, i. e. thy mode of deal- 
ing with thy people, referring more particularly here to providen- 
tial favours, the knowledge of which he hopes to see extended to 
all nations, as a means to the promotion of still higher ends. 
The pleonastic phrase, saving health, retained in the authorized 
version from an older one, has nothing corresponding to it in 
the Hebrew but the single word which always means salvation 
and is commonly so rendered. 

4 (3.) The nations shall acknowledge thee, oh God, the nations 
shall acknowledge thee — all of them. The common version of the 
verb here twice used {'praise) is too wide. As it is commonly 
applied to the acknowledgment of benefits, a nearer equivalent is 
thank. See above, on Ps. lvii. 10 (9.) 

5 (4.) Nations shall joy and triumph, because thou shait judge 
peoples (in) rectitude, and nations in the earth — thou shall guide 
them. The divine guidance implies protection and control. 
Compare Isai. lviii. 11. The anticipation of universal happiness, 
as springing from the judicial acts of the Messiah, is not unusual 


in prophecy. See below, on Ps. lxii. 12 — 14, and compare Isai. 
ii. 3. The word translated rectitude occurs above, Ps. xlv. 7 (0.) 

6 (5.) The nations shall acknowledge thee, ok God y the nations 
shall acknowledge thee — all of them. This repetition shows the 
anticipation here expressed to be the principal though not the 
primary subject of the psalm. The position of the universal 
terms, at the close of this verse and v. 4 (3), is highly emphatic, 
and precludes, in the most explicit manner, all restriction. 

7 (6.) The earth (or land) has yielded her produce; God will 
bless us, (even) our God. The translation of the first verb as a 
future is entirely gratuitous, and therefore ungrammatical. 
Correctly rendered, it affords a hint of the immediate occasion of 
the psalm itself. The mutual relation of the clauses is that of a 
thankful acknowledgment for gifts received already to a joyful 
and believing expectation of the same hereafter. God has 
blessed us, and since he is our own God, he will bless us still. 

8 (7.) God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear 
kirn. The God who has bestowed this harvest on us will continue 
to afford us tokens of his covenant love and faithfulness ; and the 
day is coming when the intimate relation which we now sustain to 
him will be extended to all nations. Ends of the earthy even the 
remotest countries, but of course without excluding those at 
hand. It is really tantamount to saying all lands or the wkole 
eartk. See above, on Ps. ii. 8. 



1 , To the Chief Musician. By David. A Psalm of Praise. 
Literally, a psalm, a song, but see above, on Ps. lxv. 1. lxvi. 1. 
Ixvii. 1. This psalm, like the eighteenth, -which it very much 
resembles, is a triumphal song, occasioned by some signal victory 
or success in war, perhaps that recorded in 2 Samuel xii. 26 — 31, 
"which closed the last important war of David's reign. The 
psalm opens with a general praise of God as the deliverer of the 
righteous and destroyer of the wicked, vs. 2 — 7 (1 — 6.) This is 
then illustrated and confirmed by a reference to certain periods 
in the history of Israel, and first to the march through the wilder- 
ness, vs 8 — 11 (7 — 10.) Then comes the period of the judges, 
vs. 12 — 15 (11 — 14.) Then the erection of the monarchy on 
Zion, and its confirmation by the victory just achieved, vs. 16 — 
20 (15 — 19.) This is then represented as a part of the general 
plan of Jehovah's dealings with his people, vs. 21 — 24 (20 — 23.) 
The triumphal procession is described, vs. 25 — 28 (24 — 27.) 
All this, however, is but a specimen or foretaste of a universal 
conquest yet to come, vs. 29 — 32 (2S — 31.) In anticipation of 
this revolution, the nations are summoned to unite in the praises 
of Jehovah, vs. 33 — 36 (32 — 35.) The resemblance of this last 
part to the corresponding parts of the two preceding psalms may 
account for the position of the one before us. 

2(1.) God shall arise , his enemies shall scalier,- I hose hating 
him shall fee before him. This verse propounds, as the theme of 



the whole psalm, a fact continually verified in history. There is also 
an obvious allusion to the form of speech uttered by Moses at the 
removal of the ark, the symbol of God's presence. See Num. x. 
35. The wish there expressed is here said to be realized. 
Hence the change of the imperative (n^p) into a future (S^), 
showing that this verse has not an optative meaning (let God 
arise) , but is declaratory of what certainly will be hereafter, as it 
has been already, in the case which gave occasion to the psalm. 
The present time is not excluded, but involved in the general 
proposition, that it must and will be so. Shall scatter is a more 
exact translation of the Hebrew verb than he scattered, although 
the idea is undoubtedly that of involuntary violent dispersion. 
Before him, from his face, or from his presence. See above, on 
Ps. ix. 4 (3.) lxi. 4 (3.) 

3 (2.) As smolce is driven, thou wilt drive (them) ; as wax is 
melted before fire, the icicked shall perish before God. The form 
of expression is the same as in the preceding verse, from the 
face of fire, from the face (or presence) of God. The verb in the 
first clause is the same with that in Ps. i. 4, where the wind, im- 
plied here, is expressly mentioned, as the driving or propelling 
agent. The comparison with wax is a common one in Scripture, 
and occurs above, in Ps. xxii. 15 (14.) With the last clause 
compare the conclusion of the Song of Deborah (Judg v. 31), of 
which there are various imitations, or at least reminiscences, in 
this psalm. 

4 (3.) And the righteous shall be glad ; they shall triumph be- 
fore God, and shall joy with gladness. This is true not only of 
righteous individuals but of righteous nations, and especially of 
Israel, as such considered, although many of its members were 
unrighteous. But these are not considered as really belonging to 
the church or chosen people, but are classed among the wicked 


enemies of God. Before, God shall the righteous rejoice, as the 
wicked flee before him. 

5 (4.) Sing unto God, celebrate his name, cast up (a highway) 
for the (one) riding through the deserts, by his name Jah, and ex- 
ult before him. The second clause alludes to the opening of roads 
for kings and armies. See above, on Ps. 1. 23, and compare 
Isai. xl. 3. Mai. iii. 1. The common version of the verb (extol) 
conveys an idea wholly foreign from the usage of the Hebrew 
word. Riding, i. e. journeying, or giving it a military applica- 
tion, marching. The common version of the next noun {heavens) 
is entirely unauthorized by usage. The Hebrew word is one still 
applied by the Arabs to the region over which the Israelites 
wandered forty years. The idea here suggested is more fully 
carried out in vs. 8 — 10 (7 — 9.) By his name Jah , i. e. in the 
character denoted by this name, which is an abbreviation of 
Jehovah, peculiar to the song of Moses (Ex. xv. 2) and the later 
imitations of it. See my notes on Isai. xii. 2. xxxviii. 11. The 
people are summoned to prepare for the reception of this glorious 

6 (5.) Father of orphans and judge of ividoivs (is) God in 
his abode of holiness. One of the most glorious divine characters 
is that of a protector of the innocent and helpless. Judge, vin- 
dicator, patron, one who does them justice. His abode of holiness 
cannot in this connection denote heaven, but must be referred to 
his peculiar residence among his chosen people. It was there 
that, both by the provisions of this law and the dispensations of 
his providence, he asserted his right to the exalted ch&zacter here' 
claimed for him. 

7 (6.) God makes the lonely dwell in houses, makes t/ie captives 
come forth into enjoyments ; only rebels (still) inhabit a dry-land 
(or desert). This, though a general proposition, seems to have a 


special reference to the change in the condition of the Israelites, 
when brought out of the wilderness into possession of the promised 
land. The participles in the original (settling, bringing out) 
express habi:ual or customary acts. In houses, literally, in a 
house, or still more closely, to a house, the idea of removal being 
really implied. The word might also be translated homewards or 
at home. The last word in this clause occurs nowhere else, and 
has been variously explained to mean in chains, by force, and 
into pleasures or enjoyments, which last is now preferred by most 

8 (7.) Oh God, in thy going out before thy people, in thy 
marching through the wilderness, Selah. The sentence is com- 
pleted in the next verse, being here divided by a pause of solemn 
and admiring recollection. The general description of the fore- 
going verses is now confirmed and illustrated by a reference to 
the exodus from Egypt and the journey through the wilder*- 
ness. Before thy people, in the pillar of cloud, as their guide and 
their commander. Thy marching, literally, thy stepping, treading, 
or more exactly still, thy step or tread. To make the allusion 
still more pointed, the word for wilderness is not the one com- 
monly so rendered, but one borrowed from Deut. xxxii. 10. 

9 (8.) The earth shook, nay, the heavens dropped, this Sinai, 
at the presence of God, the God of Israel. Dropped, discharged 
drops, rained. This is mentioned as a natural and usual accom- 
paniment of a thunder-storm. This Sinai probably means, this 
(was at) Sinai, and should be read as a parenthesis. The usual 
construction not only requires a verb to be repeated or supplied, 
but yields an obscure and doubtful sense, as no reason can be 
given why Sinai should be called this Sinai, and the version 
Sinai itself is unauthorized by usage. The first clause is descrip- 
tive of the grand and terrible phenomena attending the theophany 
at Sinai. See Ex. xix. 16 — IS. 


10. (9.) A rain of free gifts thou your est down, oh God ; thine 
inheritance, and (that) exhausted, thou dost confirm (or strengthen) 
it. The first clause probably refers to the abundant and refresh- 
ing gifts (of which rain is a natural and common emblem) be- 
stowed upon the people in the wilderness, including manna, quails, 
and water. The future tense is like those in Ps. xviii. 7 (6.) 
Pour down, literally, shake or shake out. Thine inheritance, thy 
people. The construction is that of an absolute nominative, (as 
to) thine inheritance. The next clause heightens the description 
by suggesting that the gift came precisely when it was most 

11 (10.) Thy flock hath dwelt therein; thou wilt provide, m 
thy goodness, for the wretched. The first noun strictly means an 
animal, and more especially a beast, but was probably employed 
as a collective to denote a herd or flock, in which sense it was 
figuratively applied in David's time to a company or troop of men, 
(2 Sam. xxiii. 11, 13.) Therein, i. e. in the land of promise, 
which was present to the writer's mind, though not expressly 
mentioned in the context. See below, vs. 15 (14) and compare 
Isai. viii. 21. Thou wilt provide, indefinitely, whatsoever may be 
needed ; or more specifically, wilt prepare, i. e. prepare a home, 
a resting place. The future tense describes it as a customary 
method of proceeding upon God's part, but specially exemplified 
in the case of Israel, who, until his settlement in Canaan, might 
well be called a sufferer, a wretched or afflicted one. 

12 (11.) The Lord will give the word ; the (women) publishing 
(it) are a great host. As to the future, see above, on vs. 10, 11. 
(9, 10.) Word here means tidings, news, and, as the whole 
sonnection shows, good news, which is also suggested by the word 
translated publishing, but in usage constantly applied to joyful 
tidings. See above, on Ps. xl. 10 (9.) There is obvious allusion 
to the ancient oriental custom of women cclebratincr victories 


with song and dance. Seo Ex. xv. 20. 1 Sam. xviii. 6, 7. Tho 
reference is not to any one occasion, but to an ideal choir chant- 
ing all the victories of some great period, perhaps that of the 

13 (12.) Kings of armies shall flee , shall flee, and she that tar- 
rieth at home shall divide the spoil. The flight described is not 
that of kings alone, but of kings at the head of armies. The 
repetition of the verb denotes the certainty and completeness of 
the rout. The dweller in the house is by some literally understood 
to mean the woman who takes no part in the battle. But others 
regard it as a figure for the chosen people, dwelling quietly at 
home, after the disappearance of their enemies, when " the land 
had rest," Judg. v. 31. viii. 28. . 

14 (13.) When ye lie doivn between the borders, (ye shall be 
like) the wings of a dove covered with silver and her pinions with 
yellow gold. The general idea seems to be that when ■" the land 
had rest," her condition was one of peaceful prosperity. The 
common version of the first clause (though ye have lien among the 
pots) is justified neither by rabbinical tradition nor the ancient 
versions. The Hebrew noun occurs only here and in Ezek. xl. 
43, where it is equally obscure, and the cognate forms in Gen. 
xlix. 14. Judg. v. 16 are scarcely less so. The only meaning, 
besides those already mentioned, which has any probability, is 
that of folds or sheep-cotes , lying among which might be viewed as 
a poetical figure for rural or pastoral repose, thus amounting to 
the same thing with the first translation, which describes the 
people as residing quietly between the borders, i. e. within the 
boundaries or frontiers of their territory, now once more forsaken 
by the enemy. The beautiful allusion in the last clause to the 
changeable colours of a dove's plumage, seems intended to 
suggest the idea of a peaceful but splendid prosperity 


15 (14.) When the Almightly scatters kings therein, it snows in 
Zalmon. The change from war to peace is likened to the daz- 
zling whiteness of snow in the midst of blackness or darkness. 
This last idea is conveyed by Zalmon, an unimportant eminence 
near Shechem, partly perhaps in reference to the dark forests 
which covered it (Judg. ix. 48), but chiefly to the meaning of the 
name itself, to wit, shade or shadow. The parallel term, snow, 
suggests the idea of the brightest light. See Ps. li. 9 (7.) Isai. 
i. 18. Mark ix. 3. Matth. xxviii. 3. Rev. i. 14, and compare 
Matth. xvii. 2. Some, with far less probability, explain the verse 
as meanino- that the land was whitened with the slain, as Zalmon 
was with snow ; but this ascribes too great an altitude to Zalmon. 
The Hebrew construction in the first clause is, in the Almighty's 
scattering Icings, i. e. at the time of his so doing. The divine 
name here used is not the one so frequently translated Mighty 
in the Psalms, but the patriarchal title mentioned in Ex. vi. 3. 
Compare Gen. xvii. 1. xxviii. 3. It is here introduced because 
the events *n question were remarkable exertions and displays of 
God's omnipotence. Scattered here means routed, put to flight. 
See above, vs. 13 (12), and compare the use of the same Hebrew 
verb in Zech. ii. 10 (6.) 

16 (15.) A mount of God (is) Mount Bashan, a mount of 
peaks (or ridges) is Blount Bashan. The first phrase means a 
mountain showing forth the creative power of God by its vastness. 
See above, on Ps. xxxvi. 7 (6.) Mount Bashan, not a single 
eminence, but the lofty range of Antilibanus, also called Hermon, 
and by other races, Sion and Sirion. See Deut. iii. 9. iv. 48. 
Ps. xlii. 7 (6.) Ps. lxxxix. 13 (12.) The last two names would 
be apt to suggest, by a fortuitous resemblance that of the holy 
hill of Zion. A mount of peaks or ridges, i. c. not a detached 
mountain, but a chain with many lofty summits, forming the 
northern boundary of Bashan. At the same time, the expres- 
sions of this verse would necessarily suggest the idea of great 


states or kingdoms, of which mountains arc the standing symbols. 
See above, on Ps. xlvi. 3 (2.) lxv. 7 (6.) 

17 (16.) Why wiU ye watch, (ye) hills, (ye) ridges, the hill 
God hath desired for his dwelling ? Yea, Jehovah icill inhabit 
(it) forever. The interrogative form implies disapprobation and 
contempt. See above, on Ps. ii. 1. The verb occurs nowhere 
else in the Old Testament, but its meaning has been preserved in 
Arabic, namely, to watch as an enemy, to lie in wait, or, as somo 
allege, to view with envy. Common to both is the idea of hostility 
or ill-will. The translation of this verb in the English Biblo 
(leap) and in the Prayer Book Version (hop) seems to rest on 
mere conjecture. The two nouns, hills and ridges, are by some 
supposed to form a sort of compound, ridge-hills, i. e. high or 
rugged hills. Compare the phrase wine-reeling, Ps. lx. 5 (3.) 
The plural form may denote the several peaks, or the whole class 
which this range of mountains merely represented. Zion is here 
described as an object of hostility or envy to the mountains of 
the heathen world, on account of the honour put upon it by 
its being chosen as the earthly residence of God. Having first 
poetically said that he desired it, i. e. preferred and chose it, to 
preclude all doubt as to the event, the psalmist adds, not only so, 
but he does and will dwell there for ever. The verbs of the 
second and third clause, although synonymous, are not identical 
in Hebrew. There is evident significance in the choice of the 
divine names here employed. Not only did he choose it, as 
Elohim, for his dwelling, but he actually dwells there as Jehovah, 
as the God of revelation and the covenanted God of Israel. 

18 (17.) The chariots of God (are) tic o .myriads, multiplied 
thousands ; the Lord is among them,, Sinai in the sanctuary. As 
David's most formidable foes were particularly strong in chariots 
of war (2 Sam. via. 4. x. IS), so here God's power of protection 
is expressed by an innumerable multitude of chariots. The same 


mode of representation occurs in the history of Elisha, 2 Kings 
vi. 17. Two myriads is a closer version than twenty thousand, 
because the Hebrew word is the dual of one used both in the 
vague sense of a multitude, and in the precise sense of a myriad* 
See above, on Ps. iii. 7 (6), where the plural of the same word 
occurs. The next phrase strictly means thousands of repetition 
or reduplication, i. e. thousands upon thousands. Compare Dan. 
vii. 10. There is no mention of angels in the text, although in- 
terpreters in every age have supposed their presence to be neces- 
sarily implied, as the conductors of God's chariots, if not as 
the chariots themselves, which is the sense put upon the Hebrew 
phrase by both the English versions (even thousands of angels.) 
There is also an obvious allusion to the giving of the law at Sinai, 
as described in Deut. xxxiii. 2, 3, the presence of angels at 
which appears to be assumed in the New Testament, Gal. iii. 19. 
Heb. ii. 2. It is not however the mere number, even of these 
heavenly hosts, that constitutes the safety of the holy place, but 
the personal presence of the Lord (Adhonai) among them, 
which is therefore asserted in the next clause. The last words of 
the verse are obscure, but seem most probably to mean, that 
the same glorious theophany which once took place on Sinai 
is now renewed on Zion, with particular reference as some 
imagine, to the presence of the ark and the tables of stone 
in the one case, as a perpetual memorial, and even a perpetual 
renewal, of the legislation in the other. This fine poetical iden- 
tification of the two mountains hallowed by God's presence 
may have been in the mind of the apostle when he drew 
that sublime contrast or parallel between them, Heb. xii. 18 — 24. 
Under the law, Sinai was renewed in Zion. Under the gospel, 
Zion superseded Sinai. 

19 (IS.) Thou hast gone up to the high-place ; thou hast cap- 
tured a captivity ; J,h oil hast taken gifts among mankind, and 
(even among) rebels, (so as) to dwell (here), Lord, God ! In 


order to carry out his choice and resolution, as recorded in y 
17 (16) above, i. e. in order to establish Zion as his earthly 
dwelling place, God * has ' encountered all opposing powers, 
vanquished them, and forced them to pay tribute, even the 
stoutest and most stubborn. The sign of the conquest being 
finished is the conqueror's return to his throne, whether upon 
earth or in heaven. See above, on Ps. vii. 8 (7), and compare 
Ps. xviii. 17 (16), xciii. 4. cii. 20 (19.) Captured a captivity , 
i. e. taken captive a multitude of enemies. The gifts meant are 
the forced gifts of the conquered. Among men, i. e. while present 
among them as their conqueror, and by implication from, them. 
Even rebels, even the most rebellious, are compelled to submit. 
In other words, the conquest is complete. According to the 
military figures here used, it would seem to be implied that 
the gifts thus extorted by the conqueror are distributed 
among his followers. To receive gifts on the one hand and be- 
stow gifts on the other are correlative ideas and expressions, so 
that Paul, in applying this description of a theocratic triumph to 
the conquests of our Saviour, substitutes one of these expressions 
for the other (Eph. iv. 9.) He also, in his comment on the 
passage, justly represents the ascension there described as neces- 
sarily implying a previous descent. In other words, victory pre- 
supposes conflict. The last clause obviously refers back to the 
corresponding clause of v. 17 (16.) Lord God, literally Jak, 
God ! See above, on v. 5 (4.) 

20 (19.) Blessed be the Lord, day (by) day ; (whoever) lays a 
load upon us, the Mighty (God is) our salvation. Selah. The 
second clause, which is obscure from brevity, also admits of this 
translation i (man) may lay a load upon us, (but) God is our 
salvation. Lay a load upon us, literally, load to us, or as to us. 
According to both these constructions, loading means oppression 
It is possible, however, to attach to it the sense of benefits or 
favours, put upon it in the English versions, but with a very dif- 


ferent construction of the whole clause. The Mighty (God) will 
heap upon us our salvation, or, will load us with salvation. The. 
depth of feeling and the strength of faith, on which this anticipa- 
tion rests, are indicated or betrayed by the meditative pause 
which follows. 

21 (20.) God is for us a God of salvation, and to Jehovah the 
Lord (belong) issues from death. A more exact translation of 
the verse, retaining the peculiar idioms, would be this : the Al- 
mighty (is) for us an Almighty for salvation, and to Jehovah the 
Lord (belong), as to death, outgoings or escapes. This is only 
an amplification of the last clause of the verse preceding, God is 
our salvation, or according to the other construction, God loads 
us with salvation. 

22 (21.) Surely God will crush the head of his enemies, the 
hairy scalp going on in his trespasses. The first word properly 
means only and is here used to denote that this and not the con- 
trary is true, a purpose which in our idiom may be answered by 
a particle of strong asseveration, such as certainly or surely. See 
above, v. 7 (6), and compare Ps. xxxix. 12 (11). lviii. 12 (11.) 
Crush the head, a strong figure for violent and complete destruc- 
tion. See below, on v. 24 (23), and compare Gen. hi. 15. Ps. 
ex. 6. Num. xxiv. 8, 17. The hairy scalp, or crown of hair, is 
merely a poetical equivalent or parallel to head. The words that 
follow seem to be applied to it by a kind of personification. 
Compare Prov. xvi. 31. But this figure, if too bold, may be 
avoided by supplying of one or of the man before going. This 
last word does not necessarily mean going on, but according to 
its usage elsewhere may be rendered going about, i. e. habitually 
acting, in a sinful manner. See above, on Ps. xii. 9 (8.) xx. 7 
(6.) xxvi. 3. xxxv. 14. xxxix. 7 (6.) xliii. 2 (1.) 

23 (22.) The Lord hath said, From Bashan I will bring (them) 


back, I will bring (them) back from the depths of the sea. Some 
suppose the object of the verbs in this verse to be Israel or my 
people j as in Isai. xlix. 12 (compare Gen. xiv. 14.) But as the 
enemy is still the subject of the following verses, it is better to 
understand the one before us as threatening to bring them back 
for punishment and destruction, even when they seemed to have 
withdrawn in triumph. Here, as in verse 15 (14), Bashan is 
mentioned as a frontier province of the Holy Land. In the last 
clause there is an obvious climax. I will bring them back, not 
from Bashan merely, but, if need be, from the bottom of the 
ocean. Compare Ps. cxxxix. 9, and especially Am. ix. 2, 3. 

24 (23.) In order that thou may est crush (them) — thy foot in 
blood — (and) the tongue of thy dogs (in blood) from the enemies, 
(even) from him. The general import of this verse is clear, but 
its construction doubtful and obscure. The first verb cannot 
mean to clip or wash without an arbitrary change of text by read- 
ing -prr-ifi as in Ps. lviii. 11 (10.) The original verb ("pi ten) must 
have the same sense as in v. 22 (21), and may have the same 
object, namely, the enemies of God and of his people. The next 
words may then be taken as a parenthetical and qualifying clause, 
like sword in hand and other such forms in English. Thy foot 
in blood, i. e. with thy foot in their blood, or so that thy foot shall 
tread in their blood. The last word in Hebrew (^TOte) is by some 
understood as a noun with a suffix meaning its portion i. e. the 
share of the tongue ; but for this there is no authority in usage. 
Others translate the phrase, of it, i. e. of the blood, and the 
whole clause, the tongue of thy dogs (shall receive) of it from the 
enemies. According to the first version given above, the last 
phrase is a mere specification of the one before it ; from the 
enemies, (even) from him, referring to some real or ideal repre- 
sentative of the entire class. 

25 (24.) They saw thy gcings, oh God, the goings of my God 

118 PSALM LXV1I1. 

my king, in theholy 'place. The subject of the first verb may be 
either men in general, or the spectators, those who took no part 
in the triumphal pageant here described. The July glace, not in 
the restricted sense, but in that of the Greek legov, meaning the 
whole of the sacred enclosure, as distinguished from raog, the 
sacred edifice. Into this enclosure the procession seems to be 
described as entering, for the purpose of bringing back the ark. 

26 (25.) Before went singers, behind players, in the midst of 
damsels drumming, playing upon timbrels, which is still an oriental 
custom. Some suppose the order mentioned in the first clause 
to denote the precedence or priority of vocal above instrumental 
music, as a rational or reasonable service. The English version 
of tn£ last clause, among (them -were) the damsels, inverts the 
true sense by needlessly supplying two words, a construction for- 
bidden by the masoretic pointing. The true sense is, that the 
singers and performers were themselves surrounded by these 
players upon timbrels. 

27 (26.) In assemblies bless ye God, the Lord, from the foun- 
tain of Israel. Not only individually, or in triumphal marches, 
but in the stated convocations of the people at the sanctuary. 
See above, on Ps. xxvi. 12, the only other place where the He- 
brew word occurs, except as a proper name (Num. xxxiii. 25), 
and where it evidently has the same sense. The only satisfactory 
explanation of the last words, from the fountain of Israel, is that 
afforded by supplying ye who arc before it, and applying the 
whole clause as a description of the chosen people, under the 
figure of a stream derived or flowing from its fountain. Compare 
the similar ideas and expressions in Isai. xlviii. 1. li. 1. 

28 (27. ) There is Hide Benjamin 9 subduing I hem; the chiefs of 
ludah, stoning them ; the chiefs of Zcbulon ; the chiefs of Najphtah. 
These are named as representatives of all the tribes supposed to 


be there, i. c. in the triumphal march. They seem to be selected, 
partly with reference to their local habitation, as the northern 
and southern extremities of Israel ; partly because the most re- 
markable exploits, from the time of Moses to the time of David, 
were performed by these tribes. See Judg. v. 18. 1 Sam. xviii. 
7. Little Benjamin, so called in allusion to Jacob's partial 
fondness for his youngest son. See Gen. xliii. 33, and compare 
1 Sam. ix. 21. Their conqueror, or subduing them, as Saul did 
the surrounding nations. See 1 Sam. xiv. 47, 48. Stoning 
them, literally, their stoning, from a verb which invariably means 
to stone. The allusion may be to their skill as slingers, or more 
specifically to the means by which David killed Goliath (1 Sam. 
xvii. 49, 50.) The suffix refers to the enemy, as in the clause 
preceding. Some interpreters have noted, as an observable 
coincidence, that our Lord and several of his apostles were of 
Juclah, Paul was of Benjamin (Phil. iii. 5), and the remaining 
apostles of Galilee, in which lay the domain of Zebulon and 
Naphtali (Matt. iv. 13.) 

29 (28.) Thy God (oh Israel) hath ordained thy strength; be 
thou strong, oh God, who hast wrought (it) for us. Ordained, 
provided and secured by his omnipotence. Be strong, i. e. show 
thy strength by exerting it in our behalf, hereafter as thou hast 
done heretofore. Wrought for us, indefinitely and in general, 
or wrought (it) for us, i. e. this deliverance which we have been 
celebrating. Sec above, on Ps. xxii. 32 (31), and compare Isai. 
xxvi. 12. 

30 (29 .) Beca use of thy temple abo ve Jerusalem, to thee shall kings 
bring tribute. The first word properly means from ; but as the 
local sense would here be inadmissible, from may be understood as 
in the phrase arising from, proceeding from, in which, the idea is 
that of an effect or consequence. As the word translated temple 
originally means a palace, it is applicable both to the Mosaic sane- 


tuary and to Solomon's temple which succeeded it. See above, 
on Ps. v. 8 (7.) xlviii. 10 (9.) lxv 5 (4.) Above Jerusalem, 
both in a physical and moral sense, as Zion and Moriah over- 
hung the city, and as the presence of the sanctuary was at 
once its protection and its crowning glory. The last word in 
Hebrew occurs only here and in passages founded upon this. See 
below, Ps. lxxvi. 12 (11), and compare Isai. xviii. 7. 

31 (30.) Rebuke thou the beasts of the reeds , the crowd of strong 
(bulls) with the calves of the nations, crouching with pieces of silver; 
he has scattered nations (that) in tears delight. What he confi- 
dently anticipates is prayed for in the first clause, and in the last 
described as already realized, both common modes of indirect pre- 
diction. The word for beasts is that translated flock in vs. 11 (10) 
above ; but here both senses seem to be suggested, as they may 
be by the use of the plural in English. The beast of the reeds 
has been variously explained to be the lion (Jer. xlix. 19. 1. 44. 
Zech. xi. 3), the crocodile (Ez. xxix. 3. xxxii. 2), and the hip- 
popotamus, the Hebrew name of which is plural in its form 
(Behemoth) and therefore analogous to the collective term here 
used. This animal is also represented elsewhere as lying in the 
covert of the reed (Job xl. 21.) Either the crocodile or hippopo- 
tamus would necessarily suggest the idea of Egypt, here referred 
to as the most powerful of heathen states, and therefore a fit em- 
blem of the heathen world. The adjective strong is a poetical 
description of wild bulls, as in Ps. xxii. 13 (12.) These may 
represent the leaders of the nations, and the calves their subjects. 
The participle crouching is a singular in Hebrew, prostrating 
hifnself, the many being suddenly transformed into an ideal 
individual. See above, on Ps. x. 10. With pieces of silver, 
silver coins, offered as tribute to their conquerors. See above, 
on v. 19 (18), and compare Isai. lx. 9. In the close of the 
verse he sees the warlike enemies of Israel already scattered by 
the hand of God. 


31 (30.) Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall 
toon stretch out her hands unto God. Egypt is again named 
as the representative of the Gentile world, but in conjunction 
with the neighboring state of Gush or Ethiopia, often referred 
to by the prophets as a powerful and splendid empire. See 
Isai. xviii. 7. xlv. 14. Zeph. iii. 10. The word translated princes 
means originally/^ ones, elsewhere put for prosperous and potent 
men. See above, on Ps. xxii. 30 (29.) From this word is sup- 
posed to be derived the name Hasmoneantohich was, given to the 
Maccabees or Jewish princes in the interval between the Old 
and New Testaments. Soon stretch out is not a version but a 
paraphrase of the original expression, which means strictly, make 
its hands to run, and may perhaps denote the eagerness with 
which the action is performed. 

33 (32.) Kingdoms of the earth, sing unto God; praise {or 
celebrate) the Lord! Selah. In view of the conquests here 
foreseen, the whole world is summoned to acknowledge the God 
of Israel as the universal sovereign. Compare Rev. xi. 15. 

34 (33.) (Sing) to the (one) riding in the heavens of , heavens 
of old; lo, he utters his voice, a voice of strength. This verse is 
designed to magnify the object of the praise enjoined. Riding, 
as a conqueror in triumph. See above, on v. 5 (4.) The heavens 
of heavens are the highest heavens, the heaven of that which is 
heaven to us. See 1 Kings viii. 27, and compare Deut. x. 14. 
xxxiii. 26. Of old does not qualify riclkig, as it may seem to do 
in English, but the nouns immediately preceding, the heavens of 
antiquity or ancient heavens. See above on Ps. lv. 20 (19.) In 
the last clause, he seems to hear an audible response from heaven 
itself. The lo, as usual, implies that something suddenly assails 
the senses. Utters his voice, literally, gives (forth a sound) with 
his voice, as in Ps. lxvi. 7 (6 ) 

VOL. II. 6 


35 (34.) €five strength to God! Over Israel (is) his majesty, 
and his strength in the clouds. To give, in such connections, is of 
of course to ascribe. >jee above, on Ps. xxix. 1, 2. The remainder 
of the verse contains the ground of this injunction. God is en- 
titled to the praise of power, because his greatness is displayed in 
the protection which he extends over Israel. As the sanctuary- 
was above Jerusalem, so God was above the chosen people, their 
chief and their protector. See above, on v. 30 (29.) At the 
same time his power is displayed throughout the universe, espe- 
cially those extraordinary dispensations, in which he appears to 
speak from heaven or the clouds. See above, on Ps. xxvi. 6 (5.) 

36 (35.) Terrible {art thou), oh God, out of thy holy-places ; 
the Mighty (God) of Israel — he is (a God) giving strength and 
forces to the people. Blessed (be) God ! The winding up is like 
that of the twenty-ninth psalm. Out of thy sanctuaries, as dis- 
played thence, in blessings bestowed upon thy people. He is not 
only mighty in himself but the giver of might to others. Com- 
pare Isai. xl. 29, 31. 


A sufferer describes his own condition, vs. 2 — 5 (1 — 4.) 
He represents himself as suffering for God's sake, vs. 6 — 13 (5 — 
12.) He therefore prays to be delivered, vs. 14 — 19 (13 — 1S.J 
He again describes his suffering, but with more explicit reference 
to its cause, the malice of his enemies, vs. 20 — 22 (19 — 21.) He 
therefore prays that they may be destroyed, vs. 23 — 29 (22 — 28.) 
He anticipates a favourable answer to his prayers and the hap- 

PSALM LX1X. 123 

picst effect upon his brethren, vs. 30 — 34 (29 — 33.) Nay, he 
expects to see the same mercy exercised towards the church or 
chosen people, vs 35 — 37 (34 — 36.) 

1. To the Chief Musician. Upon lilies. By David. The 
lilies probably refers to the delightful consolations and deliverances 
experienced or hoped for. See above, on Ps. xlv. 1. lx. 1. The 
subject of the psalm is an ideal person, representing the whole 
class of righteous sufferers. The only individual in whom the various 
traits meet is Christ. That he is not however the exclusive or 
even the immediate subject, is clear from the confession in v. 6 (5.) 
There is no psalm, except the twenty-second, more distinctly 
applied to him in the New Testament. 

2 (1.) Save me, oh God, for the waters are come in, even to 
my soul, i. e. so as to endanger my life. See Jer. iv. 10. Jon. ii. 
6. The figure for extreme distress is the same as in Ps. xl. 3 (2.) 

3 (2.) / have sunk in the mire of the depth (or deep place) 
(where J there is no standing ; I have come into depths of water, 
and The flood has ovcmohelmed me. The image is that of one sunk 
in the bottom of a sea or river. Mire of depth is not merely 
deep mire, but the mire found in a deep place. 

4 (3.) / am weary of my crying ; parched is my throat ; my 
eyes fail, waiting for my God. The literal meaning of the first 
clause is, lam weary in my crying, i. e. have grown weary in the 
act of calling upon God for help. See above, on Ps. vi. 7 (6.) 
Parched, dried, by excessive exertion of the voice, or giving the 
Hebrew verb the stronger sense which properly belongs to it, zw- 
tfamed. His eyes are represented as exhausted, worn out, by 
continued looking for God. See below, Ps. cxix. 82, and com- 
pare Lam. iv. 17. The participle waiting does not agree with 
eyes, as it might seem to do in English, but with the person to 


whom they belong, and may he construed absolutely, I wailing 
(me expectante) , i. e. while I wait. 

5 (4.) More than the hairs of my head (are) those hating me 
without cause ; strong arc my destroy 'ers, my false enemies ; what 
I did not rob, then must I restore. With the first clause compare 
Ps. xl. 13 (12) ; with the second, Ps. xxxv. 9. xxxviii. 20 (19) ; 
with the third, Ps. xxxv. 11.2 Sam. xvi. 8. False enemies, liter- 
ally, enemies of falsehood, which may either mean in general per- 
fidious, treacherous, or more specifically, using calumny and 
falsehood as a means for the attainment of their wicked ends. 
Then or afterwards, in reference to the previous innocence which 
he asserts. Though he took nothing at first, yet afterwards he 
must restore. 

6 (5.). Oh God, thou knowest of (or as to) my foolishness, and 
my trespasses from thee have not been hid. He does not deny his 
own demerit in the sight of God, but nevertheless prays to be 
delivered from destruction. See above, on Ps. vi. 2 (1.) xxxviii. 
4—6 (3—5.) xl. 13 (12.) xli. 15 (14.) As if he had said, 
1 true, I am a sinner ; it is vain to deny it ; thou God, knSwest 
it ; but nevertheless' &c. 

7 (6.) Let not them be ashamed in me that wait for thee, Lord, 
Jehovah, of Hosts ; let not them be disgraced in me that seek thee, 
God of Israel ! He prays that the principle laid down in Ps. xxv. 
3 may not be falsified. In me, not merely by me or because of 
me, but in me, as the representative of the whole class. Ashamed, 
disappointed and defeated in their hopes. Wait for thee, for 
thine appearance and the fulfilment of thy promises. Seek thee, 
i. e. seek to know thee and enjoy thy favour. 

8 (7. J Because for thee for thy sake) I have borne reproach, 
disgrace hath covered my face. In his disgrace all God's servants 

PSALM LX1X. 125 

must participate, because he is one of them and as such suffers. 
With the first clause compare Ps. xliv. 23 (22.) Jer. xv. 15, with 
the last, Ps. xliv. 16 (15.) 

9 (8.) I am become a stranger unto my brethren and an alien 
unto the sons of my mother. The literal meaning of the first 
clause is, I have been estranged to (or as to) my brothers. There 
may he an allusion to the envious treatment of David by the other 
sons of Jesse. See 1 Sam. xvii. 28. The loss or alienation of 
the nearest friends is spoken of as one of the severest trials in 
Ps. xxvii. 10. 

10 (9.) For the zeal of thine- house, jealous regard for the 
honour of the sanctuary, as the visible centre of the true religion, 
has consumed me, implying an extreme intensity of feeling ; and 
in consequence of this zeal, the revilings of thy revilers have fallen 
upon me. That such revilers did exist in David's time, we learn 
from 2 Sam. xii. 14. The first clause of the verse before us is 
applied to Christ in John ii. 17, and the second in Rom. xv. 3. 

11 (10.) And I wept {away) my soul or wept myself away, 
in fasting, and (even that) was for revilings to me, even that 
became a subject of malignant mockery against me. That weep- 
ino- and fasting, as natural concomitants, were not unknown to 
David's experience in real life, appears from 2 Sam. xii. 16, 21, 
22. The first clause likewise admits of this construction : and 
I wept, my soul (was) in fasting, i. e. fasted. But this though it 
agrees well with the Hebrew usage which represents fasting as a 
mortification of the soul (see above, on Ps. xxxv. 13), is neither 
so natural nor so striking as the first construction above given, 
which is found in an anonymous translation of the Psalms, pub- 
lished by Bagster, London, 1830. 

12 (11.) And I gave, put on (as) my clothing, sackcloth, and 


was to them , in consequence, for a comparison, a proverb, by- 
word, or became a by-word to them. See above, on Ps. xxxv. 13 
and xliv. 15 (14.) The context makes it probable that the 
mourning described in this and the preceding verse was not in 
reference to his own sufferings merely, but to the sins of the 
whole people 

13 (12.) They think of me, imagine things against me, they 
who sit in the gate ; (they imagine) songs, lampoons or satires, 
they who drink strong drink. The gate meant is that of the city, 
where the oriental courts and markets were held. Hence some 
suppose the sense to be, that even in the place of serious business, 
they indulge their spiteful mirth at my expense. But it seems 
more natural to make the sitters in the gate mean simply those 
frequenting public places. See above on Ps. lv. 12 (11) and 
compare Josh. xx. 4. Ruth iv. 1,2. Lam. v. 14. 

14 (13.) And I, but as for me, in contradistinction from these 
mockers, my prayer (is) to thee, I pray to thee in spite of their 
derision, oh Jehovah ; (let. there come or let there be) a time of 
acceptance, in the abundance of thy mercy ; answer me, grant my 
petition, in the truth of thy salvation, or thy truth of salvation, in 
the exercise of that fidelity which secures the salvation of all who 
trust it. Compare Isai. xlix. 8. lxi. 2. 

.15 (14.) Deliver me from the mire and let me not sink ; let me 
he delivered from my haters, from the depths of water. He here 
returns to the figures in v. 2 ( 1 ) , where profound suffering is 
described as submersion under water and in mire. The meaning 
of the figure is explained in the last clause of the verse before 
us by the addition of a literal expression. 

16 (15.) Let not the flood overwhelm me, and let not the deep 
swalloiv me, and let not the tcell (or pit) shut its mouth upon 


me. In the earnestness of his entreaty, he passes from the figure 
of a sea or stream to that of a well or cistern, the idea common to 
both being that of deep water. 

17 (16.) Answer me, grant my prayer, Jehovah ; for good (or 

as we should say, great) is thy mercy ; according to the multitude 

of thy compassions, turn to me, or towards me, implying that his 

looks were before averted. See above, on Ps. iv. 7 (6.) xiii. 

18 (17.) And hide not thy face from thy servant, for (there 
is) distress to me, I am distressed, make haste, ansicer me, i. e. 
grant me what I ask without delay. 

19 (18.) Draw nigh unto my soul, to me whose soul or life is 
threatened, ransom it, rescue it from ruin; because (or for the 
sake) of my enemies, redeem me, so that they may not triumph in 
my fall. See above, on Ps. xiii. 5 (4), and with the first clause 
compare Ps. xxii. 2(1.) 

20 (19.) Thou knowest, literally hast known, as a thing of 
long standing, my reproach, the contempt of which I am the ob- 
ject, and my shame and my disgrace ; before thee, in thy sight 
and known to thee, (are) all my adversaries, persecutors or op- 
pressors, not their persons merely, or their conduct in general, 
but their treatment of me. The conviction that God knows all 
involves a persuasion that he will do justice to both parties. See 
above, on Ps. i. 6. • 

21 (20.) Reproach, including calumny and insult, hath broken 
my heart, a common figure for extreme distress, and I am sick, 
sick at heart or sick in spirit, but without excluding the idea of 
corporeal suffering, as the effect, or as a part, of his distress ; 
d'ld I have waited for pity, literally mourning, i. c. sympathy, 

128 PSALM LX1X. 

condolence, on the part of my cruel enemies, and it is not, or 
there is none, and for comforters, (those) comforting, and have not 
found (them.) With the phrase, I am sick, compare Ps. vi. 3 (2.) 

22 (21.) And, so far from pitying me they have aggravated my 
distress, for they have given in my food, or as my food, gall, here 
put for the extreme of bitterness, and for my thirst, i. e. to slake 
it, uv at (the time of) my thirst, in my thirst, when I thirst, they 
give me vinegar to drink. Gall and vinegar are here put together 
to denote the most unpalatable forms of food 'and drink. The 
passion of our Lord was providentially so ordered as to fur- 
nish a remarkable coincidence with this verse. The Romans 
were accustomed to give sour wine with an infusion of myrrh to 
convicts on the cross, for the purpose of deadening the pain. This 
practice was adhered to in our Saviour's case (Mark xv. 23.) 
Though in itself not cruel but the contrary, it formed part of the 
great process of murderous persecution. On the part of the 
Roman soldiery it may have been an act of kindness ; but consi- 
dered as an act of the unbelieving Jews, it was giving gall and 
vinegar to one already overwhelmed with anguish. And so Mat- 
thew, in accordance with his general method, represents it as 
a verification of this passage (Matth. xxvii. 34.) He does not 
contradict Mark's account before referred to, but merely intimates, 
that the wine and myrrh thus offered were to be regarded as 
identical with the gall and vinegar of this prediction. And in 
order to prevent the coincidence from being overlooked, our Lord, 
before he died, complained of thirst and vinegar was administered. 
(Matth. xxvii. 48. John xix. 28.) The word translated food in the 
first clause occurs only here, and its verbal root only in the his- 
tory of David (2 Sam. xii. 17. xiii. 6, 10 ) 

23 (22.) Let their table before them, at which they eat and 
where they arc accustomed to enjoy themselves, be for (or be- 
come) a snare, an occasion of unexpected danger, and to those 


secure, thinking themselves safe, (let it "be for or become) a trap. 
The first word in the last clause is the plural of one meaning 
peace, but seems to be here used, as in Ps. lv. 21 (20), for those 
who are at peace, at ease, tranquil and secure. Compare 1 
Thess. v. 3. The ancient versions give it the equally appropriate 
sense of for requitals, i. e. in recompense of their transgressions. 
But although this sense may be deduced from the verbal root 
(tiT£) and belongs to several collateral derivatives (Vri bib© 
bViTY it has no existence in the usage of the one before us 
(^JpiDip.) The circuitous construction in the English version is 
not only forced, but wholly unnecessary. The imprecations in 
this verse and those following it are revolting only when considered 
as the expression of malignant selfishness. If uttered by God, 
they shock no reader's sensibilities, nor should they, when consi- 
dered as the language of an ideal person, representing the whole 
class of righteous sufferers, and particularly Him, who, though 
he prayed for his murderers while dying (Luke xxiii. 34) , had before 
applied the words of this very passage to the unbelieving Jews ( Matt, 
xxiii. 38), as Paul did afterwards (Rom. xi. 9, 10.) The general 
doctrine of providential retribution, far from being confined to the 
Old Testament, is distinctly taught in many of our Saviour's 
parables. See Matth. xxi. 41. xxii. 7. xxiv. 51. 

24 (23.) Let their eyes darken, i. e. be or grow dark, from 
seeing, so as not to see, and their loins do thou cause to bend, give 
way, or swerve, i. e. paralyse their strength. See above, on Ps. 
lxvi. 10 (9.) The first clause probably does not refer to blind- 
ness, but either to the dimness of the eyes in death, or to darkness 
as a figure for calamity in general. 

25 (24.) Pour upon them thine anger, and let the heat of thy 
wrath, thy hot wrath, overtake them, reach them after they have- 
long seemed to escape it and expected to escape it still. 



26 (25.) Let their home be desolated '; in their tents may there 
be no one dwelling , or let no one dwell. The word translated home 
seems properly to mean an enclosure, with special reference per- 
haps to an encampment or collection of tents (Gen. xxv. 16. 
Num. xxi. 10.) The translation castle in the English version of 
the places just referred to, and that of palace in the margin of 
the one before us, seem entirely conjectural. The Septuagint 
here has a Greek word (enavhg) meaning a place to pass the 
night in, especially for flocks and herds, and thence transferred to 
farm or country houses. This expression is retained in Acts i. 20, 
where the verse before us is quoted, in connection with Ps. cix. 8, 
and applied to Judas Iscariot, not as an individual merely, but as 
a type and representative of the Jewish people, in their malignant 
and perfidious enmity to Christ. This does not prove our Lord 
to be the exclusive subject of the whole psalm, a conclusion for- 
bidden by the confession of sin in v. 6 (5) above ; but it does 
show that He is not only one, but the chief member, nay the 
great type and representative, of the whole class of innocent suf- 
ferers at the hands of wicked enemies. See also Matt, xxiii. 38. 

27 (26.) For (those) ivhom thou hast smitten they persecute !, have 
persecuted heretofore and do so still ; and as to the grief of thy 
wounded they tell or talk. The pronoun in the first clause is em- 
phatic, ' thou and not man, or man only as thy blind unconscious 
instrument.' Compare 2 Sam. xvi. 11, 12. Job xix. 21, 22. The 
same persons are described as thy wounded, the original expres- 
sion having commonly the sense of mortally wounded, and being 
therefore often rendered slain. See Isai. lxvi. 16. Jer. xxv. 33. 
The preposition before grief denotes the theme or subject, as it 
docs with the same verb in Ps. ii. 7. To tell about it or talk of 
it is to make it the subject of unfeeling or derisive comment. See 
above on Ps. xli. 9 (8.) 

28 (27.) Give (or place) iniquity upon iniquity, and let them 


not cmm into thy righteousness. Luther and others understand 
the first clause as a. prayer that sin may be made the punishment 
of sin (Rom. i. 28). But there seems to be rather an allusion to 
the double sense of the equivocal term (y$) which properly de- 
notes sin as such or in itself considered, but sometimes seems to 
mean sin considered in its consequences or effects. Thus un- 
derstood it is a prayer that sin may be followed by the natural 
effects of sin. The righteousness of God is that which he bestows 
by the judicial act of justification, including pardon. To come 
into it is to come into possession or enjoyment of it, to become a 
sharer in it. 

29 (28.) Let them be blotted from the book of life (or of the 
living) , and with the righteous let them not be written, registered, 
enrolled. The book is not here a figure for the memory, as in 
Ps. lvi. 9 (S), but for the divine decree. The primary idea is 
that of a register containing the names of those who are to live or 
be preserved alive. The figure is Mosaic, being evidently bor- 
rowed from Ex xxxii. 32. The translation living, which is given 
in the ancient versions, is favoured by the parallel expression 
righteous (men), if not by the analogy of Ps. xxvii. 13. lii. 7 (5.) 
But the abstract version life is equally appropriate, and is recom- 
mended by the use of the phrase book of life in the New Testa- 
ment with reference to the future state. See Phil. iv. 3. Rev. 
xx. 15. 

30 (29.) And I (am) afflicted and suffering ; let thy salvation % 
oh God, set me on high, beyond the reach of danger, which is tan- 
tamount to saying, in a place of safety. See above, on Ps. xx. 2 
(1.) lix. 2(1.) The verb might also be translated as a future 
proper, expressive of a confident anticipation, thy salvation will 
secure me. But it seems more natural to understand it as a 
prayer for himself, subjoined to the foregoing scries of prayers for 
the destruction of his enemies. As if he had said, ' Remember 


Lord that I am suffering, and interpose for my deliverance, as 
well as for their punishment.' 

31 (30.) I will praise the name of God with song, or in a 
song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. Here, as in 
many other cases, the certainty of the event is indicated by 
an expressed determination to thank God for it. See above, on 
Ps. v. 8 (7.) 

32 (31.) And it shall be better to Jehovah, this shall please 
him more, than ox (or) bullock homed (and) hoofed. The con- 
trast is not between material and spiritual offerings, but between 
a legitimate offering; of both kinds and the mere oblation of a 
beast, as an opus operatum of intrinsic virtue, or as if God could 
take delight in hoofs and horns, which are therefore contemp- 
tuously specified. See above, on Ps. xl. 7 (6.) 1. S. li. 18 (16.) 
The last words are highly idiomatic, and scarcely susceptible 
of close translation, the original forms being those of active 
participles, horning, hoofing, i. e. having or producing horns and 

33 (32.) The humble see and rejoice, literally, have seen and will 
rejoice, in my deliverance, (even ye) that seek God, seekers of God, 
and may your heart live ! May you be revived and cheered by 
witnessing this exhibition of God's power and goodness ! The 
wish that it may be so includes a promise that it shall be, as in 
Ps. xxii. 27 (26), where the form of expression is the same. 

34 (33.) For hearkening, habitually listening, (is) Jehovah to 
the poor, i. e. the poor among his people, the righteous, pious, or 
believing poor ; and his prisoners, those imprisoned in affliction 
by himself, or by human oppressors for his sake, he hath not 
despised, and therefore never will. The general inference here 


drawn from the speaker's own experience is the same as in Ps. 
xxii. 25 (24) above. 

35 (34.) Let heaven and earth praise him, seas and every thing 
creeping in them, i. e. moving with an animal or vital motion. In 
the particular mercy experienced by himself he sees a pledge of 
gifts deserving and demanding universal praise. 

36 (35.) For God will save Zion, and will build the cities 
of Judah, and they shall dwell in them and possess them. He 
who is thus faithful to the individual believer must be faithful to 
the whole church. It is characteristic of the ancient saints to re- 
gard every personal mercy as a pledge of greater favours to 
the body of God's people. This is peculiarly appropriate in such 
a case as this, where the words are those of an ideal person re- 
presenting a whole class, and that a class including, as its most 
conspicuous member, the Messiah himself. There is no need of 
supposing an allusion, either prophetical or historical, to the 
restoration of the Jews from Babylon, the rather as the temple is 
referred to in v. 10 (9) as still standing. They in the last clause 
are the poor of v. 34 (33), i. e. the righteous or God's people. 

37 (36.) And the seed of his servants shall inherit it, i. e. 
Judah or the land of promise, and the lovers of his name, of his 
revealed perfections, shall dwell (quietly and safely) in it. The 
foregoing promises are not restricted to a single generation, but 
extend to the remotest posterity. Inherit it, possess it by heredi- 
tary right from generation to generation. * As temporal and 
spiritual blessings were inseparably blended in the old dispensa- 
tion, the promise of perpetual possession and abode in Palestine 
is merely the costume in which that of everlasting favour to the 
church is clothed in the Old Testament. 




The Fortieth Psalm, as we have seen (vol. 1. p. 333), consists 
of a thanksgiving for deliverances experienced already, vs. 2 — 14 
(1 — 13), and of a prayer for fresh occasion of thanksgiving, vs. 
15 — 18 (14 — 17.) The latter portion is here repeated by itself, 
as a kind of appendix to the Sixty-ninth and preface to the 
Seventy-first, with both which it has several points of contact and 
resemblance. The mutual relation of the two editions is the 
same as that between the Fourteenth and the Fifty-third. The 
supposition of an erroneous copy or an accidental repetition is 
forbidden by the fact that both are left on record, and by the 
appearance of an uniform design in the variations. In this case, 
as in that of the Fifty-third. Psalm, no comments will be made 
upon those expressions which are common to both forms and 
have therefore been explained already. 

1. To the Chief Musician. By David. To remind, i. e. to 
remind God of the Psalmist's necessities. The same inscription 
is prefixed to Ps. xxxviii. The phrase by David represents him 
as the author, not of the Fortieth Psalm merely, but of this 
abridgment. See above, on Ps. liii. 1, and compare vol 1. p. 153. 

2 (1.) Oh God to deliver me, oh Dor d to help me, hasten ! The 
first word of Ps. xl. 14 (13), be pleased, is here omitted, for the 
purpose, as some suppose, of making the commencement more 


abrupt, and thereby marking the whole composition as a fragment. 
Another variation, which interpreters have laboured to account 
for as significant, is the substitution of Elohim in the first clause 
for Jehovah, the only Divine name which appears in the fortieth 
psalm at all. It is quite as probable, to say the least, that the 
names. were interchanged as God and. Lord are often by ourselves, 
without special reason or design. 

3 (2.) Ashamed and confounded shall be (those) seeking my soul ; 
turned back and disgraced shall be (those) desiring (or delighting 
in) my hurt. See above, on Ps. xl. 15 (14.) The only varia- 
tion consists in the omission of the words together and to destroy 
itj in accordance with the obvious design of condensation and 

4 (3.) They shall turn back on account of their shame, i. e. 
retreat from their assault on me confounded and ashamed — those 
saying. Aha, aha ! See above, on Ps. xl. 16 (15.) For the 
strong expression, they shall be desolate, we have a milder one 
borrowed from Ps. vi. 11 (10.) The only other variation con- 
sists in the omission of the unimportant phrase to me. 

5 (4.) They shall rejoice and be glad in thee — all (those) 
seeking thee; and they shall say always, great be Jehovah — 
(those) loving thy salvation. See above, on Ps. xl. 17 (16.) 
The only variation here is the insertion of the copulative and at 
the bejnnnino; of the second clause. 

6 (5.) And I am afflicted and poor — oh God, hasten unto 
mt I My help and my deliverer (art) thov, — oh Jehovah, linger 
not, do not delay ! See above, on Ps. xl. 18 (17.) Instead of 
God, the parallel passage has Jehovah, and instead of Jehovah, in 
the second clause, my God. Another variation is that the signi- 
cant expression, he will think of me (or for me), is exchanged for 


the petition hasten to me, thus bringing back the prayer to the 
point from which it started. 


A sufferer from the spite of wicked enemies prays for deliver- 
ance, vs. 1 — 3. He acknowledges God's goodness to him in 
early life, vs. 4 — 8, and prays that it may be continued in old 
age, vs. 9 — 13. He confidently anticipates an answer to his 
prayers, vs. 14 — 21, and promises a suitable return of praise, 
vs. 22—24. 

The psalm bears a strong resemblance to the others in which 
the sufferings of the righteous are the great theme, such as the 
twenty-second, thirty-fifth, thirty-eighth, and fortieth, a portion 
of which last seems to have been prefixed to it, as a kind of text 
or theme, or for the purpose of connecting it with the whole class 
of compositions just referred to. This explains the absence of 
a title or inscription in the psalm before us, as in the case of the 
second, tenth, forty-third, and others. 

1. In thee, oh Jehovah, have I trusted, taken refuge; let me 
not be shamed, disappointed and confounded, to eternity, forever. 
This verse and the next two are borrowed, with slight variations, 
from the be^innino!; of Ps. xxxi. 

2. In thy righteousness thou wilt deliver me and cause me to 
escape ; incline to me thine ear and save me. See above, on Ps. xxxi 
2, 3 (1,2), where the imperative form of the preceding clause is 


still retained, instead of being changed, as here, into the future. 
The verb deliver me there occurs in what is here the second clause ; 
and the qualifying term, haste or quickly, is omitted in the case 
before us. The division of the sentences is also different, so that 
the verses do not exactly correspond. 

3. Be thou to me for a rock of habitation, a rock where I may 
safely dwell and make my home, (whither I may be able) to come 
always, i. e. whenever it is necessary ; thou hast commanded to 
save me, my deliverance is decreed already ; for my rock, my 
hiding place, and my fortress art thou. The images presented 
and the terms used are similar to those in Ps. xviii. 3 (2.) Com- 
manded to save me : see above, on Ps. xliv. 5 (4.) lxviii. 29 (28.) 
The imitation of Ps. xxx. here insensibly merges into a new and 
independent composition. 

4. My God, free me, cause me to escape, from the hand of the 
wicked, from the palm, a poetical equivalent to hand, of the per- 
verse and corrupt doer. The last word in Hebrew occurs only 
here, but from its form appears to be the participle of a verb that 
means to be (or become) sour, to ferment, to putrefy. The 
infinitive of the same verb is applied to moral evil in Isai. 
i. 17. 

5. For thou {art) my hope, oh JLord, Jehovah, my confidence, 
the object of my trust, from my youth. Compare the combina- 
tion Lord Jehovah with those in Ps. lxviii. 21 (20.) lxix. 7 (6), 
and the phrase my confidence with Ps. xl. 5 (4.) 

6. Upon thee I leaned, or by thee was held up, sustained, from 
the womb ; from the boicels of my mother, a synonymous expres- 
sion, thou (art) my bringing out, the one that brought me out, a 
different expression of the same idea as in Ps. xxii. 11 (10.) 
The meaning of the verb here used, both in its transitive and in- 

138 PSALM LXX1. 

transitive forms, may be gathered from Ps. xc. 10. Num. xi. 31. 
In thee is my praise always ; it originates, revolves, and ends in 
thee. Compare the analogous expression in Ps. xxii. 26 (25.) 

7. As a prodigy, or wonder, an object of contemptuous aston- 
ishment, was I, or have I been to many, on account of my extra- 
ordinary sufferings ; but thou art my refuge of strength, my strong 
refuge, at once my protector and my hiding place. With the 
first clause compare Deut. xxviii. 46. Isai. Hi. 14. 1 Cor. iv. 9. 

8. Filled shall my mouth be (with) thy praise, and all the day 
{with) thy beauty, or glory, as the subject of that praise. The 
sight of thine excellency now excites, and will excite forever, my 
admiration and my praise. 

9. Cast me not off, at the time of old age ; as my strength fails, 
literally, according to the failure of my strength, leave me not, do 
not thou abandon or forsake me. He here prays that the grace 
which he experienced in youth, and which he has already ac- 
knowledged in the foregoing context, may be continued and ex- 
tended to his old age. Compare Isai. xlvi. 3, 4. 

10. For my enemies have said (so) to me, i. e. have told me that 
God would forsake or had forsaken me, and as a proof that they 
believe it, the watchers of my Soul, those who watch and lie in wait 
for its destruction, have consulted together, i. e. against me, which 
they would not have done if they had really believed me to be under 
the Divine protection. Instead of to me in the first clause, we 
may read of (i. e. concerning) me, without any violation of usage 
or material change of meaning. See above, on Ps. iii. 3 (2.) 

11. Saying, God hath forsaken him, pursue and seize him, for 
there is no deliverer, literally, none delivering. This verse is an 
amplification of the phrase they say (so) in the verse preceding 


It gives the very words in which they say so. With the first 
clause compare Ps. iii. 3 (2.) xli. 6 (5), and the words of Ahihto- 
phel in 2 Sam. xvii. 1, 2, to which there may be a direct allusion, 
as an actual instance of the thing ideally described in David's 
own experience. With the last clause compare Ps. vii. 3 (2.) 

12. Oh God, be not far from me; oh my God, to (or for) my 
help hasten. Compare the similar expressions of Ps. xxii. 20 (19.) 
xxxv. 22. xxxviii. 22, 23, (21, 22.) xl. 14 (13.) lzx. 2(1.) The 
stronger expression my God, in the second clause, urges his 
covenant relation to God, as a reason for expecting to be heard. 

13. They shall be shamed, they shall cease (or be consumed) — 
the adversaries of my soul ; they shall put on (or be clothed with) 
reproach and disgrace — the seekers of my hurt. The verbs may 
also be translated as optatives, let them be shamed, etc. But this 
is really included in the strict sense of the future. Comparo 
the parallel passages, Ps. xxxv. 4, 26. xl. 15 (14.) Ixx. 3 (2.) 

14. And I will always hope, and add to (literally add upon, ac- 
cumulate, increase) all thy praise. To all thy praise which I 
have uttered hitherto, I will continue still to add. 

15. My mouth shall recount thy righteousness, all the day (long) 
thy salvation, for I know not numbers (to express them), I can- 
not number them, they are innumerable. The righteousness or 
rectitude of God, including his veracity or faithfulness, is here 
referred to as the cause of his salvation, the salvation of which 
he is the source and author. 

16. 1 will come with the mighty deeds of the Lord Jehovah ; I 
will mention (or commemorate) thy righteousness, thine only. The 
first phrase may also be translated, I will enter into the mighty 
deeds, etc. as we speak of entering into the particulars of a sub- 


the particulars of a subject. But this is rather an English than 
a Hebrew idiom. The common version, I will go in the strength 
of the Lord God, is at variance with the usage both of the verb 
and noun, as the former does not mean to go absolutely, but 
either to enter or to come to a particular place, expressed or un- 
derstood. The ellipsis here may be supplied from Ps. v. 8 (7) 
and lxvi. 13, in both which places the same verb denotes 
the act of coming to God's house for the purpose of solemn praise, 
and in the second passage cited is followed by the same prepo- 
sition, I will come into thy house with burnt-offerings, i. e. I will 
bring them thither. This sense agrees well with the vow to praise 
God in the two preceding verses, and with the promise of com- 
memoration in the other clause of this verse. See above, on Ps. 
xx. 8 (7.) It also enables us to give the noun (m^'na) its usual 
sense of God's exploits or mighty deeds. See below, Ps. cvi. 2, 
and compare Deut. hi. 24. Thine only, not my own or that of 
any creature. See above, on Ps. xliv. 4, 7 (3, 6.) 

17. Oh God, thou hast taught me (to praise thee) from my 
youth, by thy providential dealings with me, i. e. given me occa- 
sion to celebrate thy praise, and until now I will declare, i. e. I 
am still declaring, still have reason to declare, thy wondrous 
works. See above, on Ps. ix. 2 (1.) xxvi. 7. xl. 6 (5.) 

18. And also (or even) unto old-age and hoary-hairs, oh God, 
forsake me not, till I declare thine arm, i. e. the exertion of thy 
power, to the (next)- generation, (and) to every one that is to come 
thy poiucr. The last clause determines the sense of the indefinite 
expression, a generation. See above, on Ps. xxii. 31 (30.) With 
the phrase thy arm, compare Ps. xliv. 4 (3.) 

19. And thy righteousness, oh God, (reaches) even to the height 
(or high place), i. e. heaven, (thou) who hast done great things, 
oh God, who is like thee ? With the first clause compare Ps. 



xxxvi. 6 (5.) lvii. 11 (10) ; with the last, Ex. xv. 11. Dent. iii. 
24. 2 Sain, vii. 22. 

20. (Thou) who hast showed us, made us see, i. e. caused us to 
experience, distresses many and severe (or many distresses and evils) 
wilt return (and) make us live, revive or quicken us, and from 
the depths of the earth wilt return (and) bring us up, make or 
cause us to ascend. The sudden change from the singular to the 
plural form, in reference to the same subject, led the authors of 
the masoretic punctuation to restore the singular in this verse 
also ; but the reading in the text is no doubt the original and true 
one. As the word translated depths is elsewhere invariably ap- 
plied to water, some suppose an allusion to the deluge, as in Ps. 
xxix. 10. xxxii. 6. xxxvi. 7 (6.) Compare Isai. viii. 7, 8. The 
verb return, twice used here, may, agreeably to Hebrew usage, 
merely qualify the verbs to which it is prefixed, thou wilt quicken 
us again, thou wilt bring us again. But the similar expression 
in the next verse makes it probable, that the verb was meant to 
have an independent meaning, and to point out the dependence of 
the quickening and the restoration here expected on Jehovah's 
return to his forsaken people. See above, on Ps. xiv. 7. 

21. Thou wilt increase my greatness, and wilt turn (and) com- 
fort me. As the word translated greatness is elsewhere applied 
to the great things done by God for the protection and deliver- 
ance of his people (Ps. cxlv. 3. 2 Sam vii. 23), my greatness may 
have here tl).e objective sense of great things done to or for me. 
See above, on v. 19, and compare Ps. xl. 6 (o.) 

22. Also I will thank thee with a harp-instrument, i. e. with a 
harp or lyre as the instrument of praise, (for) thy truth, or as to 
thy truth, veracity and faithfulness ; I tcill play to thee, make 
music to thee, praise or celebrate thee, with a lyre, (thou) Holy 
(One) of Israel, i. e. his peculiar God, possessed of all •!" ino 

142 PSALM LXX1. 

perfections. See above, on Ps. xxii. 4 (3.) From this place 
the title has been borrowed by the prophets, and by none so fre- 
quently as by Isaiah. 

23. My lips shall sing when I play to thee, and my soul which 
thou hast redeemed. The first clause, as above translated, seems 
to promise the combination of vocal and instrumental praise. 
But as the first verb usually means to shout or sing for joy, and 
sometimes simply to rejoice, and the second commonly conveys 
the idea not of music merely but of praise, the clause may be 
explained, my lips shall rejoice, for I will sing to thee (or praise 
thee), and my soul ( shall also rejoice. J With the last clause 
compare Ps. xxxiv. 23 (22.) 

24. Also my tongue all the day shall muse of thy righteousness, 
because they are ashamed, they blush — the seekers of my hurt. The 
verb in the first clause means to think aloud, to talk to one's 
self, and therefore suggests the idea both of thought and sound. 
It is here applied to the tongue, as the instrument by which one's 
thoughts are thus expressed, not to others but himself. See 
above, on Ps. i. 2. ii. 1. xxxv. 28. xxxvii. 30. xxxviii. 13 (12.) 
lxiii. 7 (6), and below, on Ps. xc. 9. The position of the subject 
at the end of the last clause is emphatic, as in v. 13 above. The 
preterite form of the verbs represents the effect as one already 
past, though really still future. 



A glowing description of the reign of the Messiah,, as right- 
eous, vs. 1 — 7, universal, vs. 8 — 11, beneficent, vs. 12 — 14, per- 
petual, vs. 15 — 17, to which are added a doxology, vs. 18, 19, 
and a postscript, v. 20. 

1. By Solomon. Oh God, thy judgments to the Icing give, and 
thy righteousness to the hinges son. The form of expression in the 
first clause or title is precisely the same as in the phrase so often 
rendered, by David. That it designates the author, may be 
argued, not only from this usage, but from the fact, that the 
imagery of the psalm is as evidently borrowed from the peaceful 
and brilliant reign of Solomon, as that of the second from the 
martial and triumphant reign of David. The prayer in this 
verse is virtually a prediction, as the psalmist only asks what he 
knows that God will give. The judicial power, under the the- 
ocracy, was exercised in God's name and by his representatives. 
See. Deut. i. 17. Ex. xxi. 6. xxii. 7, 8. Prov. viii. 15. 2 Chr. 
xix. 6. The Messiah was therefore expected to exhibit this pe- 
culiar character in its perfection. See Isai. xi. 2, 3. By the 
Icing and the kingh son we are not to understand the descendants 
and successors of David indefinitely, but the last and greatest of 
them in particular. 

2. He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy afflicted 


(ones) with judgment. This is stated as the necessary conse- 
quence of the granting of the prayer in the preceding verse 
1 Give him thy righteousness, and then he shall judge, etc 
There is no need therefore of putting an optative sense upon the 
future, ' let him judge, etc.,' especially as it would then be neces- 
sary to extend the same construction to the verses following, and 
so long a series of optative expressions is without example. 

3. (Then) shall the mountains hear peace for the people, and the 
hills, by righteousness. The effect of the divine gift asked at the 
beginning of the psalm is still described in this verse, under the 
figure of a general growth or harvest of peace, to spring up in the 
whole land. Bear, in the sense of bringing forth, producing. 
Mountains and hills are mentioned as the salient points or pro- 
minent features of the country. This was the more natural as 
the hills of Palestine were carefully tilled in ancient times, as 
appears from the terraces still visible. See above, Ps. lxv. 13 
(12), and below, Ps. cxlvii. 8, and compare Deut. xxxiii. 15 
Peace, as opposed to war and its accompanying evils. This is often 
mentioned as a characteristic trait of the Messiah's reign. See 
Isai. ii. 4. ix. 6, 7 (5, 6.) xi. 9. lxv. 25. Mic. iv. 3. Zech. ix. 10. 
It was typified by the peaceful reign of Solomon ( 1 Kings v. 4) , 
whose very name suggests it. The hills, i. e. the hills shall bear 
peace or produce it. The words by righteousness belong to both 
clauses and denote that the peace here promised was to be the 
fruit of righteous government. 

4. He sJiall judge the afflicted of the people ; he shall save (or 
bring salvation) to the sons of the needy, and shall crush (or break 
in pieces) the oppressor. To judge them is to do them justice, to 
redress their wrongs and vindicate their rights. The afflicted of 
the people, those who suffer among the chosen people. The needy 
or the poor man is an ideal person, representing the whole class, 
whose individual members are described as his sons or children 


5. They shall fear thee with the sun, and before the moon, gene- 
ration of generations. The first verb may be construed with the 
oonsof the needy, or taken indefinitely, men shall fear thee, which 
is nearly equivalent to saying, thou shall be feared. The verb 
itself denotes religious reverence or awe, and is here put for wor- 
ship. The object of address, here and throughout the psalm, is 
God, whose worship is described as one fruit of the righteous reign 
predicted. With the sun, as long as they have the sun with them, 
i e. possess or enjoy him. Before the moon, in her presence, as 
long as she continues to be visible, or to afford them light. This is 
one of the scriptural expressions for perpetual duration, an 
idea which is also expressed by the idiomatic phrase, generation 
of generations, i. e. through all generations, or from one genera- 
tion to another. 

6. He shall come down like rain upon mown (grass) , like showers^ 
the watering of the earth (or land.) This beautiful comparison 
suggests the idea of a gentle yet refreshing and fertilizing influence, 
to be exerted by the king, whose reign is here foretold. The 
word translated showers, by its etymological affinities, suggests the 
idea of abundance or copiousness. The noun which follows occurs 
only here, but may be traced to verbal roots which mean to drop 
or to flow. 

7. In his days shall the righteous sprout, spring up, or shoot 
forth, and abundance of peace, till the failure (or cessation) of the 
moon. The idea is the same as in vs. 3, 5, with a slight change 
in the form of the expression. By a lively figure, the righteous 
man is substituted for righteousness in the abstract, as the fruit 
of the earth and the productive cause of peace. The idea of 
perpetuity is again conveyed by repeating one of the comparisons 
in v. 5. 

8. And lie shall rule from sea to sea, and from the river to the 
vol. n 7 


trids of the eCM+k. There is here an obvious allusion to the limits 
of the land of prosiise, as defined in Ex. xxiii. 31 ; but that these 
;ire not directly intended in the case before us, is clear from tho 
mention of foreign kings and nations in the following verses. The 
meaning rather is, that as the realm of the theocratic kings was 
bounded by the Mediterranean and the Euphrates, that of the 
Messiah, whom they represented, should extend from sea to sea, 
i. e. from any sea to any other, even the most distant, or from 
any sea around to the same point again, and from the river 
(Euphrates), or from any other river, as a terminus a quo, to the 
ends of the earth. In other words, it should be universal. The 
same mode of describing the extent of Christ's dominion is adopted 
by the prophets. See Zech. ix. 10, and compare Am. viii. 12. 
Mic. vii. 12. 

9. Before him shall crouch wild {men,) and his enemies the dust 
shall lick. The first noun denotes dwellers in the wilderness, and 
is applied both to brutes (Isai. xiii. 21. xxxiv. 14. Jer. 1. 39) 
and men (Ps. lxxiv. 14.) The common version of the first verb 
(bow) is too weak in itself and in comparison with the parallel 
expression, lick the dust, implying the most unconditional and 
abject submission. 

10. The kings of Tarshish and the Islands an oblation shall 
send bade ; the kings of Sheba and Seba a reward shall bring 
near. The last noun in the first clause, and the verb in the 
s< cond, are technical terms of the Mosaic law, the first denoting 
specially a vegetable offering, and the other the solemn act of 
presentation in God's presence. The use of these expressions 
implies that what is here described is not the mere payment of 
tribute or the presentation of friendly gifts, but a religious offer- 
ing. It is also worthy of remark, that the verb in the first 
clause, and the last noun in the second, both suggest the idea, not 
of a simple gift, but of a recompencc or requital, perhaps in 



allusion to the benefits which Christ was to bestow upon tho 
nations, and of which these gifts would be a thankful acknow- 
ledgment. The verb return, however, is used elsewhere to denote 
the simple act of paying tribute. See 2 Kings iii. 4. xvii. 3. 
The proper names in this verse are mere specimens or samples 
of the nations generally. TarsMsk is mentioned, both as a well 
known mart or source of wealth, and as a representative of the 
extreme west. The Islands, agreeably to Hebrew usage, in- 
clude all distant sea-coasts, but particularly those of the Medi- 
terranean. The distant south is represented, in like manner, by 
Sheba, a province of Arabia Felix, and Seba, now commonly 
supposed to be Meroe, a part of ancient Ethiopia, both famous 
for their wealth and commerce. The obvious allusion to the 
Queen of Sheba's visit to Jerusalem (1 Kings x. 1 — 10) is an- 
other stroke in this prophetic picture evidently borrowed from 
the times of Solomon. 

11. And to him shall all kings bow (ov prostrate themselves) , 
all' nations shall serve him. That the preceding verse contains 
only a sample of the nations over whom the Messiah was to 
reign, is distinctly intimated by the universal and unqualified ex- 
pressions of the verse before us. The act described in the first 
clause is one expressive both of civil homage and religious wor- 

J. o o 

ship. The same thing is true of the verb in the last clause, which 
may be applied either to the civil service of a sovereign by his 
subjects, or to the religious service of a deity by his worship- 
pers. In this case, as in v. 10, both were meant to be in- 

12. For he ivill deliver the needy crying (to him for help), and 
the sufferer, and him that hath no helper. The literal translation 
of the last clause is, and there is no one helping him, or, and there 
is no helper to him. By referring the pronoun to the sufferer 
mentioned just before, we may take this, not as the description of 


a third class, but as a further description of the second, the 

sufferer to whom there is no helper. The whole verse represents 
the king in question as the protector, not the oppressor, of his 
subjects, and assigns a reason for their tribute being repre- 
sented as a requital of benefits received. See above, on v. 10. 

13. He will have pity on (or spare) the poor and needy , and 
the souls (or lives) of the needy he will save. In the first clause 
the adjectives are of the singular number and properly denote the 
poor (man) and the needy (man.) The change to the plural in 
the second clause, needy (ones) or needy (people), shows that the 
singular was not meant to denote a real individual, but rather an 
ideal person, representing a whole class, which is then directly 
designated by the plural. 

14. From oppression and from violence he will redeem their 
soul, and, precious shall their Hood be in his eyes (or sight.) This 
last is an idiomatic exjDression of the idea, that a person sets such 
a value on the life of another, that he will not suffer it to be des- 
troyed. See below, on Ps. cxvi. 15, and compare 1 Sam. xxvi. 
21. 2 Kings i. 14. 

15. And he, the poor man thus delivered, shall live, shall be 
preserved alive, and, in token of his gratitude and willing subjec- 
tion to such a sovereign, he shall give to him, as tribute, of the 
gold of Sheba, one of the regions mentioned in v. 10 and famous 
for its gold ; and he, meaning still the grateful tributary, shall 
'gray for him continually, i. e. for the progress and extension of 
Messiah's kingdom ; all the day (long) shall he bless him, i. e. praise 
him, as well for what he is in himself, as for the gifts which he 
bestows. ]}y some interpreters the meaning is reversed and the 
sentence made to signify, that the Messiah shall live again, or live 
forever, and give precious gifts to the believer, and by his constant 
intercession secure to him the blessing of Jehovah. This is a good 

PSALM LXX11. 149 

sense in itself and appropriate to the context ; but the dubious 
question of construction seems to be determined by the mention 
of the gold of Sheba, which, in this connection, far more probably 
denotes the tribute of the subject than the favour of the sovereign. 
See above, on v. 10. 

16. Let there be (but) a handful of corn in the land, in the top 
of the mountains ; its fruit shall leave (or shake) like Lebanon, and 
they shall flourish from the city like grass of the earth. The first 
noun in Hebrew occurs only here, and has been taken in senses 
directly opposite. The rabbinical tradition makes it mean a 
handful, the modern lexicographers a plenty, each relying on a 
doubtful etymology. According to the second explanation, the 
clause is a direct prediction of abundance and should be transla- 
ted, there shall be plenty of corn in the land. According to the 
other and more ancient view, the verse contains a beautiful anti- 
thesis between the small beginnings and the vast results of the 
Messiah's kingdom, not unlike that suggested by our Saviour's 
parable of the grain of mustard seed. Thb exegetical analogy, 
together with the striking character imparted to the verse by this 
interpretation, are sufficient to entitle it to the preference, even 
without regard to its antiquity and traditional authority. The 
apocopated future (^n* 1 .) may then be taken in its proper sense, 
as a concession or a wish, equivalent to saying, though there be 
but a handful of corn in the land, and that in the least favourable 
situation, on the top of a mountain, which though cultivated (see 
above, on v. 3,) must of course be colder and less fertile than the 
plains below. Neither wave nor shake conveys the full force of 
the Hebrew verb, which suggests the additional idea of a rushing 
noise, like that of the wind among the cedars of Lebanon. This 
comparison is certainly more natural and obvious than that 
which some interpreters assume with the grain-crops or harvest- 
fields of Lebanon itself. This would be merely likening one har- 
vest to another, nor is any such allusion ever made elsewhere t<> 


the mountain, though its circumjacent plains and valleys were 
productive. See Hos. xiv. 5 — 7. The word translated flourish 
means originally to shine or glitter (Ps. cxxxii. 18), but is spe- 
cially applied to the brilliancy of vegetation, and might therefore 
be translated bloom or blossom. See Num. xvii. 23 (8), and 
compare Ps. xc. 6, xcii. 8 (7.) ciii. 15. From the city seems to 
mean from Jerusalem or Zion, as the centre of Messiah's king- 
dom and his royal residence, out of which this productive influ- 
ence was to go forth. Compare the form of expression in this 
clause with Num. xxiv. 19. Job v. 25. 

17. His name shall be forever ; in the presence of the sun, i. e. 
as long as the sun shines, his name shall propagate (itself) ; and 
by him shall they (i. e. men in general) bless themselves ; all na- 
tions shall felicitate him (or pronounce him happy.) The form 
of expression in the second clause is borrowed from the patri- 
archal promises (Gen. xii. 3. xviii. 18. xxviii. 14), and is intended 
to suggest the idea there expressed, that the Messiah should be 
not only blessed himself, but a source of blessing to all nations. 
As the happiness of the parent is bound up in that of the children, 
and the prosperity of the sovereign inseparable from that of the 
subjects, the one part of this prediction necessarily implies the 
other. If the head is blessed, so must be the members, the whole 
body. If all nations are to call Messiah blessed, it must be be- 
cause he is the author and the giver of their own prosperity, nay 
more, of their salvation. 

18, 19. Blessed (be) Jehovah, God, the God of Israel, doing 
wonders alone, and blessed (be) his glorious name to eternity, and 
filled with his glory be the whole earth. Amen and Amen. This 
is commonly explained as a doxology belonging, not to this 
psalm, but to the second book, of which it marks the close. 
See above, on Ps. xli. 14 (13.) But as the psalm would end 
somewhat abruptly with the foregoing verse, and as this addi- 


tion carries out the idea there expressed, by giving, as it were, 
the very words in which the nations shall pronounce him blessed, 
we have reason to believe that the doxology was added by the 
author, and that this conclusion of the psalm was not the effect 
but the occasion of its being placed at the close of one of the tra- 
ditional divisions of the psalter. The wish in the second clause 
of v. 19 is borrowed from the promise in Num. xiv. 21, of which 
this whole psalm is in fact a prolonged echo. 

20. Ended are the prayers of David, Son of Jesse. The posi- 
tion of this sentence after the doxology, and its prosaic form, show 
that it forms no part of the psalm, but relates to the whole series 
preceding. It does not therefore prove, as some suppose, that 
Solomon was not the author of the seventy-second psalm, since 
this exception and a very few others could not prevent the collec- 
tion being called the prayers of David. A potiorifit denominatio. 
In like manner, the whole Psalter is still called the Psalm of 
David by many who believe it to contain some psalms by other 
writers. That this is the conclusion of an original and separate 
collection, is by no means probable, as there is no historical proof 
that such collections ever existed, and it would not be easy to 
account for the omission of so many psalms undoubtedly composed 
by David. On the whole, it is most probable, that these words were 
added to the first great subdivision of the whole collection, as en- 
tirely composed of psalms by David and his contemporaries, with 
a few added to them on account of some marked similarity in 
form or substance. The only remaining supposition is that these 
words are part of the original composition, and were added by 
Solomon to show that what he here predicts would be the fulfilment 
of his father's wishes and the answer to his prayers. The objec- 
tion to this, besides the form and position of the verse itself, is, 
that the verb is never used to denote fulfilment or accomplish- 
ment, except in the Hebrew of the later books. See Ezra i. 1 
Dan. xii. 7. 



1 A Psalm. By Asaph. Only good to Israel (is) God, to 
tht pure of heart. This last expression is added to limit or ex- 
plain the application of the national name Israel, as here denoting 
not the race or nation, simply as such considered, but the true 
Israel, the sincere and spiritual members of the ancient church. 
To these God is good, and only good, i. e. never otherwise, never 
unmerciful, or even indifferent. This is the theme of the whole 
psalm, and the peculiar form in which it is propounded has refer- 
ence to the previous conflicts and misgivings of the Psalmist, 
throuo-h which he had passed in reaching the conviction here ex- 
pressed. As if he had said, ' I once thought otherwise, but now 
I know that God is only good, and always good, to the true Israel, 
his real people.' He then goes on to describe the conflicts thus 
tacitly referred to, first, by a statement of the facts out of which 
they sprang, vs. 2 — 11, then of the effect which these produced 
upon his mind, vs. 12 — 16, and then of the means by which he 
had been disabused, vs. 17 — 20, and under the influence of which he 
now condemns his own irrationality vs. 21 — 22, adores the grace 
by which he had been rescued from the consequences of his error, 
VSi 23 — 24, and concludes with an expression of his hearty reli- 
ance upon that grace for his safety and happiness hereafter, vs. 
25 — 28. There is not the slightest ground for doubting the cor- 
rectness of the title, which ascribes the psalm to Asaph, the con- 
temporary of David and his chief musician, and himself moreover 


an inspired Psalmist. This last fact, which is matter of recorded 
history (see above, on Ps. 1.1), together with the fact that where 
only one name is mentioned in the title of a psalm it is uniformly 
that of the writer, may suffice to set aside the supposition, that 
Asaph is only named as the performer. 

2. And I (or as for me), my feet were almost gone, my steps had 
well nigh slipped. The pronoun in the first clause is emphatic. 
I, who so confidently make this profession of my faith in God's 
unchanging goodness, am one whose feet were almost gone, liter- 
ally, inclined or bent, either from the straight course or from an 
erect position. See above, on Ps. Ixii. 3 (2), where the same 
verb is applied to a wall inclined or bent by violence. The 
phrases rendered almost and well nigh strictly mean like little and 
like nothing, and imply that it wanted little or nothing of a fear- 
ful fall on his part, in other words, that he had narrowly escaped 
it. Slipped, literally, poured out, which seems to be a figure both 
for weakness and divergence. Instead of pursuing a direct course, 
or remaining in a firm position, his steps were scattered and 
without effect, like water poured upon the ground. See above, 
on Ps. xxii. 15 (14.) 

3. For I was envious at the proud ; the peace of wicked (men) 
I see (and must see.) He now proceeds to state more distinctly 
the nature of the fall from which he had so narrowly escaped. It 
was the sin and folly of denying the justice and fidelity of God 
because of providential inequalities and mysteries. The proud or 
insolent, a general description of the wicked, as in Ps. v. 5 (4.) 
The common version in both places [foolish) is less probable, but 
does not materially change the sense. In the last clause, he re- 
verts to his experience at an earlier date, and expresses himself 
as he mis;ht have done at that time. This relation of the clauses 
may be rendered clearer by supplying a word or phrase between 
them ' I was envious at the proud fand said), the peace,' etc 



Peace , as the negation and the opposite of all disturbing causes, 
really suggests the idea of prosperity in general. The future 
form of the verb has respect, not to the date of composition, but 
to that of the events recorded, when the Psalmist not only saw, 
but expected long to see, the undisturbed prosperity of sinners. 

4. For there are no lands at their death ; and fat , i. e. healthy 
or robust, (is) their strength. Some understand the first clause 
to mean that they are not bound or forced to die like other men. 
The more obvious sense is, that when they do die, they are not 
in bonds or chains like other men, but free, common figures for 
distress or suffering and its opposite. 

5. In the labour of man they are not, they are not partakers in 
the common troubles of humanity, and with mankind they are not 
smitten (or afflicted.) The use of the future is precisely the same 
as in v. 3. They are not, and to all appearance never will be, 
sharers in the common calamities of life. 

6. Therefore pride has enchained them, the garb of violence (in- 
justice or cruelty) covers them. The first verb strictly means to 
encircle or adorn the neck, perhaps with allusion to the carriage 
of that member as indicative of pride. See Isai. iii. 16. Job xv. 

7. Their eyes stand out with fatness; the imaginations of tJie 
heart pass (out, come forth, or are disclosed.) The common 
version of the last clause, they have more than heart could wish, 
assumes as the literal meaning of the words, they surpass the de- 
sires of their heart. According to the other construction above 
given, the meaning is that as their eyes stand out with fatness, so 
their hearts overflow with evil thoughts. Compare Matt. xii. 35 
xv. 19. Mark vii. 21. Luke ii. 35. vi. 45. 


8. They mock and speak in wickedness (or malice) ; oppression 
from on high they speak. To speak oppression is to speak words 
tending to the injury of others. From on high, proudly, with 
arrogant contempt of others. They speak as -if from a superior 

9. They set their mouth in heaven, anal their tongue goes on 
earth. The idea in the first clause is the same as in the last 
clause of the foregoing verse. They speak as if they thought 
themselves superior beings, their mouth in heaven and their 
tongue on earth. Goes, runs, is actively employed. 

10. Therefore he brings back his people hither, and waters of 
fulness are wrung out to them (or drained by them.) This ob- 
scure verse admits of several interpretations, the most natural of 
which understands the sense to be, that God still suffers or re- 
quires his people to survey the painful spectacle and drain the 
bitter draught presented by the undisturbed prosperity of wicked 
men. According to the masoretic reading in the margin of the 
Hebrew Bible, the first verb is intransitive, his people shall (or 
must) return hither. See above, on Ps. xiv. 7. liii. 7 (6.) 

11. And they say, how should God know, and (howj can thire 
be knowledge in the Highest ? Some interpreters regard these as 
the words of the prosperous sinners whom he has been describ- 
ing. But according to the sense just put upon the tenth verse, 
the eleventh must express the misgivings of God's people, with 
respect to the providential inequalities in question. When still 
brought back to the sight of these, they are constrained to ask 
how they can possibly be reconciled with the hypothesis of God's 
omniscience. This is "much more natural than to suppose that 
the sinners themselves admit the being of a God, and yet gra- 
tuitously question his omniscience. In the latter case the how 
would be unmeaning ; in the former, it is the most natural ex- 


pression of the doubt supposed. An atheist, whether theoretical 
or practical, would hardly ask, how can God know ? Even a 
wicked theist would be rather apt to say, he does not know. 
But nothing can be more appropriate in the mouth of a perplexed 
and tempted believer than the question, how can God know thia 
and yet suffer it ? 

12. Lo, these are wicked (men), and (yet they are) secure for 
ever, they increase strength (or substance.) These are still the 
words of the perplexed believer, expressing his surprise at the 
prosperity of sinners. See, these are wicked men, and yet in- 
stead of being wretched, or prospering only for a little while, 
they are prospcrers of eternity, perpetually prospered and at 
ease, secure from change. See above, on Ps. xxx. 7. Instead 
of losing what they have, they still gain more, and go on adding 
to their wealth and to the power which it gives them. See above, 
on Ps. lx. 14 (12.) 

13. Only (in) vain have I cleansed my Iveart, and in innocence 
have washed my hands. These may be taken either indefinitely 
as the words of any person in the painful situation just described, 
or more specifically as the words of the psalmist, by whom the 
whole class was in fact represented. They contain the inference 
which would be naturally drawn in such a situation, even by a 
true believer, but one tempted to repine and doubt by the sight 
of providential enigmas. ' Since then it is the wicked who en- 
joy God's favour, all my efforts to avoid sin and to do his will have 
been gratuitous and fruitless.' With the first words of the verse 
compare Ps. xxxix. 6, 12 (5, 11.) 

14. And I have been smitten all the day, and my chastisement 
(has been inflicted) every morning, literally, at (or in) the morn- 
ings. A similar form of expression occurs twice in Job vii. 18. 
Smitten, literally touched, i. e. by the hand of God, a common 



expression for affliction, and especially for bodily diseasa con- 
sidered as a divine judgment. The same idea was meant to be 
conveyed by the common version (plagued.) The psalmist here 
contrasts his own afflictions with the undisturbed enjoyments of 
his wicked neighbours. * While they, though wicked, still in- 
crease in wealth and seem secure for ever, I, who have faithfully 
endeavoured to avoid sin and to do the will of God, am subjected, 
every day and all day, to privation and distress.' 

15. If I have said, I will declare thus, behold, the generation 
of thy sons I have perfidiously treated. This is equivalent to say- 
ing, if I did say so, I should be acting falsely towards thy chil- 
dren. It is indeed the only Hebrew form in which such a hypo- 
thetical proposition could well be clothed. Said, i. e. to myself, pro- 
posed it, formed the purpose. Thus declare, i. e. publicly express 
my doubts and skeptical misgivings. This, as it has been well 
observed, the true believer never does, until he is able to announce 
his conflict and his victory together. Behold or lo is here equi- 
valent to our idiomatic why then, meaning in that case or on that 
supposition, and expressing at the same time some surprise at his 
own suggestion as a strange one. The generation of thy sons, the 
contemporary race of true believers, called the sons of God, not 
only as the objects of his love, but as partakers of his nature (2 
Pet. i. 4.) Treated perfidiously, proved false to them, by weak- 
ening the foundation of their hope, instead of strengthening their 
faith and allaying their misgivings. See above, on Ps. xxv. 3. 

16. And I meditated to know this ; a trouble (was) it in my 
eyes. Although he abstained from openly expressing what he 
thought, he still did think, he pondered the whole matter, with 
a^view to understand it, to discover some solution of the mystery, 
which not only puzzled but distressed him. The apparent in- 
equality of God's providential dealings was a toil, a trouble, an 
unhappiness, in his esteem. 


17. Until I come to the sanctuaries of God, I will consider (or 
observe) their end. The futures have reference, as in vs. 3, 5, 
to the date of the anterior experience here recorded. i But I said 
to myself, I will wait till I come into God's presence and inquire 
of him, and then, or in the mean time, I will look at or attend to 
the end as well as the beginning and the progress of their lives.' 
The plural form holy places, is the same as in Ps. lxviii. 36 (35.) 
It denotes the sanctuary in its whole extent, as the earthly resi- 
dence of God, and the place where he communed with his 
people. See above, on Ps. xxviii. 2. 

18. Only in slippery places thou wilt set them, or art setting 
them, (and now) thou hast let (or made) them fall into destruc- 
tion. However honourable and happy their position may appear 
to themselves, the psalmist can see nothing but its danger, as 
implied in his use of the word only. Smoothnesses, smooth or slip- 
pery places, where their foot-hold is precarious and their fall 
inevitable. He sees God, by his providential favours, placing 
them in this desired but fearful situation, and then allowing them 
to drop into destruction. The last word in Hebrew occurs only 
here and in the next psalm, where it means ruins. If this sense 
be adopted here, we must suppose a change of figure and an 
allusion to the fall, not of a man from a slippery precipice, but 
of a building crumbled by decay or violence. 

19. How are they (brought) to desolation as (in) a moment! 
They have ceased, they are consumed with terrors ! He here ex- 
presses his surprise at the abruptness and completeness of their 
ruin. The meaning of the last clause seems to be, that their 
very apprehensions were sufficient to destroy them, much more 
the actual experience of what they apprehended. 

20. As a dream on walcing, Lord, in waking, their image thou 
wilt scorn. The word translated image means an appearance, as 


opposed to the substance or reality. See above, on Ps. xxxix. 
7 (6.) The present prosperity of wicked men will seem here- 
after, and to God's eye now seems, like an empty dream, worthy 
only of contemptuous oblivion. The only dubious expression in 
the verse is that translated waking in the second clause, which is 
entirely different from the one so rendered in the first clause. 
The Hebrew phrase (V^Sl) is used in more than fifty other places 
and in all of them means in the city. See, for example, Ps. lv. 
10 (9.) This meaning is retained by some interpreters in the 
case before us. The reference will then be either to the holy 
city, as in Ps. Ixxii. 16, or to the city where the previous scene 
is supposed to have been laid, as in Ps. xxxi. 22 (21.) The old 
interpretation takes the word as an infinitive, from a verb which, 
however, is always transitive and means to awaken, except per- 
haps in Job viii. 6 and in Ps. xxxv. 23 above. To this interpre- 
tation it is furthermore objected, that it supposes an unusual 
contraction ("i^S for WHS), and that the sense which it con- 
veys is an incongruous one. But that God should despise them 
in the act of waking is, to say the least, as intelligible as that he 
should despise them in the city. In either case, the general 
meaning of the sentence is too clear to be mistaken. 

21. For my heart is soured, and (in or as to) my reins I am 
pierced. The Hebrew verbs are of the future form, although 
really relating to past time, which the psalmist's memory recalls 
as a state of things then likely to continue. See above on vs. 
3, 5. The verbs are also properly reflexives, my heart exacer- 
hates itself, I pierce myself, and are perhaps intended to describe 
his sufferings as the fruit of his own sin and folly. 

22. And I (am) brutish and know not (the true state of the 
case); a beast have I been with thee. The last noun is in the 
plural number (beasts), as if to signify a beast by way cf emi- 
nence, in which sense it is literally applied to one of the wonders 


of the animal kingdom (Job xl. 15.) With the first clause com- 
pare Prov. xxx. 2, and see above, on Ps. xlix. 11 (10.) These 
strong expressions contain an acknowledgment of his own irra- 
tionality in questioning God's faithfulness and kindness. In this 
verse there is an insensible transition from the present to the 
past, from the ideal to the real time of the events in question. 
With thee suggests an aggravating circumstance, to wit, that this 
folly was committed in the presence of God, and as it were in his 
society. See above, on Ps. xviii. 2Q, 27 (25, 26.) 

23. And (yet) I {am) still with thee; thou hast held (me) by 
my right hand. Notwithstanding his ungrateful and irrational 
conduct in God's presence, he had not been driven from it, as 
he justly might have been. The word translated still properly 
means always, and denotes that there had been no change or 
interruption in the previous relation of the parties. There is 
a perfectly analogous usage of the French toujours. In the 
last clause he seems to return to the metaphor with which he 
set out. As the fatal error which he had escaped is in v. 2 repre- 
sented as a fall, so here his preservation from it is ascribed to 
God's having held him up by his right hand. See above, on Ps. 
xvii. 5. xli. 13 (12.) lxiii. 9 (8.) 

24. In (or by) thy counsel thou, wilt guide me, and after glory 
thou wilt tahe me. The form of the original is such that it may 
either express consent or confident expectation ; but the latter in 
this case really includes the former. By thy counsel, thy instruc- 
tion and advice, considered as a means of safety ; or in thy counsel, 
i. e. in the execution of thy plan or purpose, as the end to be ac- 
complished. The last clause is obscure. To the common version 
{and afterward receive me to glory) it has been objected, that it 
takes the preposition after as an adverb, and assumes an unusual 
sense and construction of the verb, and also that it makes the 
guidance and the glory too distinct and successive. The con- 

PSALM LXX111. 161 

struction which it is proposed to substitute is, thou wilt take me 
after glory, i. e. make me overtake it, cause me to attain it, 
briDg me to it. The same construction may be made to yield 
another sense, to wit, after honouring me here thou wilt receive 
me to thyself, after honour thou wilt take me. This, it is true, 
is liable to some of the objections brought against the usual con- 
struction. But the choice at best is one of difficulties, and some 
of the objections spring entirely from the wish to exclude a 
reference to a future state, which, however, is as evident in this 
verse as it is in vs. 16, 19, if interpreted in any natural and 
reasonable manner. 

25. Whom have I in heaven ? And with thee I have not desired 
(any) upon earth. The literal translation of the first clause is, 
who (is) to me in heaven, i. e. what protector or provider ? The 
idea of another besides God may be supplied in £liis clause from 
the next, where with thee can denote either combination or com- 
parison. I have desired none in addition or in preference to thee ; 
thou art alone and all-sufficient. 

26. Spent is my flesh and my heart ; the rock of my heart and 
my portion (is) God to eternity. The first clause is by some un- 
derstood as meaning even if or even ichen my flesh, etc. But the 
Psalmist rather assumes the actual occurrence of the extreme case 
here described, or places himself in it as an ideal situation. Flesh 
and heart, body and soul, the whole man, or the whole life, out- 
ward and inward, bodily and mental. The rock of my heart, the 
support of my life, that on which it rests as on a solid basis. The 
idea is not simply that of strength but of a strong foundation. See 
above, on Ps. xviii. 3 (2.) My portion, the source of my subsist- 
ence and my happiness. See above, on Ps. xvi. 5, and with the 
whole verse compare Job xix. 25 — 27. 

27. For lo, those far from thee shall perish ; thou hast destroyed 


all (or every one) whoring from thee. This verse assigns his rea- 
son for relying upon God and making him his portion. Those far 
from thee, literally, thy far (ones.) They certainly will perish, 
for all such have perished heretofore. The union between God 
and his people being often represented by the figure of a 
conjugal relation, their violation of the covenant is spoken of as 
spiritual whoredom or adultery. See above on Ps. xlv. 1, and 
compare Lev. xx. 6. Num. xiv. 33. In the same sense our Sa- 
viour calls the unfaithful Israel of his day a wicked and adulterous 
generation. See Matt. xii. 39. xvi. 4. Mark viii. 38. The per- 
sons threatened with destruction here are not merely sinners in 
general, but the wicked members of the ancient church or chosen 
people in particular. 

2S. And I, or as for me — the approach of God to me (is) good ; 
I have placed in the Lord Jehovah my trust, to declare all thy 
doings. The absolute nominative at the beginning puts himself 
in strong contrast with the apostates of the foregoing verse. Com- 
pare the beginning of vs. 2, 23, above. The nearness or approach 
of God is an ambiguous expression, as in Isai. lviii. 2, where it 
may either mean God's drawing near to the people or their draw- 
ing near to him. In the case before us both may be implied, as 
in James iv. 8 both are expressed, Draw nigh to God and he will 
draw nigh to you. To me may be connected either with approach, 
as in Ps. xxvii. 2, or with good, as in v. 1 above. Good is here 
to be taken in the absolute sense of the summum bonum or chief 
good. The meaning is not merely that nearness to God is a good 
thing in itself, or a useful thing to man, but that it comprehends 
whatever he can wish or hope for. ' Let apostates wander far 
from God and perish ; I am resolved to seek my highest happi- 
ness in being near him.' The Lord Jehovah is a combination 
expressive of God's sovereign ty, self-existence, and covenant re- 
lation to his people. My trust, my hiding-place or refuge. See 
above, on Ps. xi. 1. The last clause shows that he wishes to be 


something more than a mere passive beneficiary. He desires not 
only to enjoy but to celebrate God's goodness. The word trans- 
lated doings is applied both to acts and to affairs or business. 


The church prays for deliverance from extreme distress, en- 
forcing the petition, first by a description of the actual state of 
things, vs. 1 — 12, and then by an appeal to former mercies, vs. 
13 — 23. The historical occasion is not given, but the terms of 
the description seem peculiarly appropriate to the state of Judah 
after the destruction of the temple and the holy city by the Ba- 
bylonians, as described in Jer. Hi. 12 — 34. 

1 . Maschil. By Asaph. Why, oh God, hast thou cast off forever, 
smokes thy icrath at the flock of thy pasture ? The description of 
the psalm as a didactic one shows that it was not meant to bo 
used in reference to its original occasion merely, but in every 
emergency resembling it. For this reason the question, what 
that occasion was, is of little exegetical importance, although not 
without interest in connection with the critical inquiry as to the 
date of composition. The state of things assumed, and indeed 
described, is so unlike that which existed in the time of David, 
that we must either make the psalm prophetical, which is arbi- 
trary and without analogy, or no less arbitrarily reject the title 
as a spurious addition to the text, or understand by Asaph the 
descendants of David's Chief Musician, among whom the gift 
and office of their ancestor were hereditary. See above, on Ps. 


1. 1, and compare 2 Chron. xxxv. 15. Ezr. ii. 41. iii. 10. Neh. 
vii. 44. xi. 22. That this title indicates the author, and not 
merely the performer, can only be inferred from the general fact, 
that where a single name is given it is usually that of the writer. 
See above on Ps. xlii. 1. lxxii. 1. The interrogation in this 
verse does not involve a disavowal of guilt or ill-desert, but is 
rather a passionate expostulation and indirect petition for deliver- 
ance. Cast off, a verb implying abhorrence and disgust. See 
above, on Ps. xliii. 2. xliv. 10, 24 (9, 23.) lx. 3, 12 (1, 10.) As 
the object is easily supplied, namely, us or thy people, its omission 
adds to the strength of the expression. Cast off forever, as it 
seems to us and others. Why hast thou cast us orf with what ap- 
pears to be a final and perpetual rejection ? See above, on Ps. 
xiii. 2 (1.) The interrogation is continued throughout the sen- 
tence. (JVhy) smokes or will smoke ? The future form suggests 
the same idea as the forever in the other clause. c Why is thy 
wrath to continue smoking ?' The presence of smoke presup- 
poses that of fire ; but the former is particularly mentioned, per- 
haps for the purpose of adding to the primary idea of distress or 
destruction the secondary one of gloom and terror. At or against 
thy people, literally, in, among them. See below on Ps. lxxx. 5 
(4), and compare Deut. xxix. 19 (20.) The sheep (or flock) of 
thy pasture, those who feed upon thy pasture, or are fed by thee, 
a favourite designation of the chosen people, as the occupants of 
the Land of Promise. The figurative form of the description was 
originally furnished by the pastoral experience of David, but from 
him was borrowed by other sacred writers. See below, Ps. lxxix. 
13. c. 3. 

2. Remember thy congregation thou hast purchased of old (and) 
redeemed the rod of thine inheritance, this Mount Zion thou hast 
iwelt in. The ellipsis of the relative in both the clauses of this 
verse is common to the Hebrew and the English idiom. The 
word translated congregation is one of those applied in the Old 


Testament to Israel as an organized body and the people of Jeho- 
vah. See above, on Ps. i. 5. . Purchased, acquired, made thine 
own. The word translated of old is a noun meaning antiquity, 
but here used as an adverb of time. The full phrase occurs below 
in v. 12. The next verb contains a specification of the first, to 
wit, that he purchased by redeeming them from bondage, with 
particular reference to the exodus from Egypt. The rod of thine 
inheritance is a phrase which, to any Hebrew reader, would sug- 
gest the twofold idea of a chieftain's staff, the badge of authority 
in the several tribes, and that of a measuring rod, here put for 
the portion of land measured. The whole sense conveyed by 
these associations is that of a definite province, with its population, 
of which God is the possessor and the sovereign. The last clause 
applies what had been said of the people and the land still more 
specifically to the central point of the theocracy. Mount Zion 
may be understood as a description of the whole of Jerusalem, 
including the temple upon Mount Moriah. This Mount Zion, 
with which the speakers were familiar, and at or near which they 
are supposed to be speaking. The explanation of this as a rela- 
tive is gratuitous, nor could the idea (this Mount Zion) have 
been well expressed in any other form of Hebrew words. The 
grand distinction of Mount Zion, in the wide sense just explained, 
was the inhabitation of Jehovah, which is therefore here expressly 
mentioned in the closing words. 

3. Lift thy steps to the perpetual ruins, all the enemy has ill clone 
in the holy place. The first phrase is a poetical expression mean- 
ing simply advance, draw near, for the purpose of inspection. 
The word translated ruins occurs only here and in Ps. lxxiii. 18. 
The whole phrase strictly means ruins of perpetuity, i. e. such as 
appear likely to continue forever, and will certainly do so, unless 
God comply with this request to draw near. The construction of 
the second clause adopted by some writers, the enemy has destroyed 
all (or every thing) in the holy place, is scarcely grammatical 


To express that idea, the word all would have the article, as in 
Ps. xiv. 3, or a suffix, as in Ps. xxix. 9, whereas its intimate con- 
nection here with the following verb in Hebrew is equivalent to a 
relative construction. Ill done, injured or destroyed, done mis- 

4. Thine adversaries have roared in the midst of thine assembly ; 
they have set their signs (as) signs. The tumultuous violence of 
the destroyers is described in the first clause by a figure borrowed 
from the habits of wild beasts, and elsewhere used as an expres- 
sion of extreme distress. See above, on Ps. xxii. 2(1.) xxxii. 
3. xxxviii. 9 (S.) The word translate^! assembly is not the same 
that is rendered congregation in v. 2, but one that strictly means 
a meeting by mutual agreement or appointment, and is specially 
applied to the meeting between God and his people at the sanc- 
tuary, which was therefore designated in the law as the tent of 
meeting (lyift ibtjk), not merely the tent where the people as- 
sembled, but the place where they met with God by previous 
appointment. See Ex. xxv. 8. xxix. 42, 43, 45, 46. Num. xvii. 
19 (4.) The ideas suggested by the etymology and usage of the He- 
brew noun are those of previous appointment, the act of meeting 
consequent upon it, the persons met, and the place where they 
assemble. The full sense therefore of the phrase here used is, 4 in 
the midst of thy people assembled at the appointed time and 
place to meet thee.' The exclusive local meaning put by some 
upon the words is quite gratuitous. The plural form which some 
assume [thine assemblies) varies the meaning only by suggesting 
the idea of repeated convocations, ' in the midst of thy people, 
whenever (or as often as) they meet thee thus,' but without at all 
conveying the idea of numerous or even different places. Set, 
fixed, established ; or set up, exhibited, exposed to view. See 
above, on Ps. xviii. 44 (43.) xxxix. 9 (8.) xliv. 14, 15 (13, 14.^ 
The common version of the last words, ensigns for signs, conveys 
i false impression of the form of the original, in which the two 


nouns are identical. The word signs does not necessarily denote 
either military or religious ensigns, but rather signifies in general 
the insignia of sovereignty. For all that once marked the pre- 
sence and authority of God the impious enemy had substituted 
the signs or tokens of their own ascendancy. In other words, 
they had usurped God's place in his very sanctuary, the spot 
which he had chosen for his earthly residence. 

5. He is known (or shall be known) as (one) raising on high 
in the thicket of the toood, axes. The most probable sense of this 
obscure verse is as follows : the ruthless enemy is known or 
recognised as dealing with the sanctuary no more tenderly than 
a woodman with the forest which he fells. On high seems to be 
added to suggest the force of the blow and the sweep of the arm 
which deals it. The thicket may be mentioned for the purpose of 
contrasting the delicate and complicated wood-work of the temple 
with the worthless undergrowth which the woodman cuts away 
without scruple or discrimination. The word translated wood is 
often used as a collective meaning trees. 

6. And now the carvings thereof together (or at once) with sledge 
and hammers they beat {down). This completes the comparison 
begun in the preceding verse, with which the one before us is 
connected by the phrase and now, i. e. in this case. As in the 
case supposed the woodman deals with trees and thickets, so 
in the real case the spoiler deals with the costly fruits of art and 
skill. The word translated carvings is expressly used in the de- 
scription of the temple. See 1 Kings vi. 29, and compare Ex 
xxviii. 11. xxxix. 6. The suffix (thereof) has no grammatical 
antecedent in the sentence ; the form was probably determined by 
a word not expressed though present to the writer's mind. At 
once does not mean quickly, suddenly, without delay, but all to- 
gether, indiscriminately, in confusion. 



They have set on fire thy holy place ; to the earth they havi 
'profaned the dwelling of thy name. The literal translation of the 
first clause is, they have sent (or cast) into the fire thy holy 'place. 
The construction in the last clause is a pregnant one, profaned to 
the earth, i. e. profaned by casting to the ground a sacred edifice 
This form of expression would be inappropriate to mere profana 
tion by defilement, without actual prostration of the edifice itself. 

8. They have said in their heart, let us destroy them together 
(or at once) ; they have burned all the assemblies of God in the 
land, by burning the only place where such assemblies could be 
held (Deut. xii. 5, 11.) Others, with less probability, suppose 
that the Hebrew word itself denotes the place of assembly, and 
that all such places means the only such place. The translation 
synagogues has no authority from Hebrew usage, or the ancient 
versions (LXX. togra; Vulg. dies festos. Jer. solennitates) , and 
has been abused to prove that the psalm was written after the 
Babylonish exile, before which synagogues are commonly sup- 
posed to have had no existence. 

9. Our signs we see not ; there is no more (any) prophet, and 
(there is) not with us (any one) knowing until what time, or how 
long, these things are to last. By signs we are here to under- 
stand the tokens of God's presence and of Israel's peculiar rela- 
tion to him. One of these is then specified, to wit, the gift of 
prophecy, which seemed to cease at the time of the Babylonian 
conquest, although afterwards renewed. Even Jeremiah's ministry 
may be considered as then closing. The complaint of this, as of 
a recent loss, shows that the period meant is not that of the per- 
secutions under Antiochus Epiphanes, when the gift of prophecy 
had been withdrawn for many generations. 

10. Till when, oh God, shall the foe revile, the enemy contemn 
thy name forever ? By making the last clause a distinct interro- 

PSALM LXX1V. 1 69 

gation (shall the enemy despise thy name forever ?) we avoid the 
solecism of combining how long and forever ; but this can oc- 
casion no more difficulty here than in v. 1 and in Ps. xiii. 2(1.) 
The verb in the last clause means to treat contemptuously, to 
show contempt by word or deed. Blaspheme expresses only one 
mode of doing this, and that too strongly. 

1 1 . why wilt thou withdraw thy hand and thy right hand ? 
From the midst of thy hosom (draw it and) consume (them.) The 
future here includes the present (why dost thou withdraw thy 
hand?) with the additional idea of continuance or perseverance in 
so doing. The hand, and especially the right hand, is the seat 
and symbol of strength. The and between them is equivalent to 
the English even. To make the hand return, or draw it back, is 
to cease from action, the continuance of which cessation is do 
scribed as hiding it in the bosom. 

12. And God (is) my king of old, working salvations in tfie 
midst of the land. Having pleaded the greatness of the danger 
and distress, as a reason for imploring the divine interposition, 
the church now pleads her covenant relation to him as her Sove- 
reign and her Saviour in former emergencies, with particular 
reference to the plagues of Egypt, which makes it probable that 
land and not earth is the true translation of the last word. The 
very form of expression is borrowed from the narrative of Moses. 
See Ex. viii. 18 (22.) Doing, working, as opposed to a mere 
promise or prediction. The participle signifies continued action, 
and extends the description beyond the particular occasion speci- 
ally referred to. God is described as He who, then and ever, 
works salvations or deliverances, the plural form implying fulness 
and variety. See above, on Ps xviii. 51 (50.) xxviii. 8. xlii. 
C, 12 (5, 11.) xliii. 5. liii. 7. 

13. Thou hast burst, with thy strength, the sea ; thou hast Iro* 

VOL. II. 8 


ken the heads of dragons on the water. The word translated 
dragons is applied to the largest class of aquatic animals. Some 
suppose these to be here emblematic of Egypt and other hostile 
powers, as in Ez. xxix. 3, 4. Isai. li. 9, 10. Others, with more 
probability, explain the verse as a description of God's power over 
nature, and particularly over the sea, as specially manifested in 
the passage of the Red Sea. The dragons or sea-monsters are 
then added merely to complete the picture. As if he had said, 
' thou hast subdued and crushed the sea and its most terrible in- 
habitants.' This is described as taking place, not in or under the 
waters, the abode of the sea-monsters, but on the surface, where 
the contest becomes visible. The pronoun at the beginning is 
emphatic : ' it is thou that hast done ail this, and not another.' 

14. (It is) thou (that) hast crushed the heads of Leviathan, 
(that) wilt give him (as) food to the people, to the wild men, or 
the dwellers in the desert. See above, on Ps. lxxii. 9. Leviathan, 
according to its etymology, denotes a coiled or crooked serpent, 
but like dragon in v. 13, is used as a generic term for huge 
aquatic animals. Having no plural form, it is here used in a 
collective sense, as appears from the expression heads, unless we 
understand this as denoting a many-headed monster, to which, 
however, there is no analogy in Scripture. In the last clause, 
people seems to mean men in general, and is then rendered defi- 
nite by the use of the specific term which follows. By the people 
of the desert some understand the savage beasts, by whom the 
Egyptians were devoured after the overthrow of Pharaoh ; others, 
with more probability, the wild men living on the shores of the 
Fted Sea, and subsisting on its fish, and hence called by the Greeks 
the Ichthyophagi. The transition from the past tense to the future 
seems to represent the scene as actually passing, or the act as one 
that may be frequently repeated. ' It is thou that hast done all 
this and wilt do it again.' 


15. (It is) thou (that) didst cleave fount and flood, (that) didst 
dry up rivers ever-flowing. Fountain and flood is a kind of pro- 
verbial expression for smaller and greater bodies of water. The 
primary historical allusion here is to the passage of the Jordan. 
The original construction of the last phrase is streams of perpetuity, 
perennial or unfailing streams, as distinguished from the winter 
torrents of the Holy Land, which disappear in summer. The 
common version, rivers of strength or mighty rivers, is not sus- 
tained by etymology or usage. 

16. To thee (belongs) day, yea, to thee night ; thou hast pre- 
pared light and sun. From the mention of God's actual control 
over the elements, as exercised in certain memorable cases, the 
Psalmist here proceeds to assert his sovereignty by right of crea- 
tion. Not only day but night, which seems to sense beyond the 
reach of government or regulation, is subject to God's power 
Thou, and no other, as in the three preceding verses. Prepared 
for the place which they now fill and the work which they per- 
form. Light and sun are related as the genus and the species, 
like hand and right hand in v. 11, signs and prophet in v. 9. 
Light, in the local sense of luminary, which the same Hebrew 
word has in Gen. i. 14 — 16, 

17. Thou hast set (or established) all the bounds of earth ; sum- 
mer and winter — thou hast formed them. This is the seventh 
emphatic repetition of the pronoun thou. The bounds of earth 
are supposed by some to be the limits of the land, by which it is 
separated from the sea. See above, on Ps. xxiy. 2. The de- 
scription of God's power over nature is comple:ed by referring to 
it the revolution of the seasons as not only appointed but created 
by him. He is not only the ordainer of the change itself, but the 
author of the causes which produce it. 

18. Remcmoer this ; an enemy has reviled Jehovah, and a fooU 


isk people have contemned thy name. For the meaning of the verbs 
see above, en v. 10, where the same facts are alleged, but are 
here recalled to God's remembrance as a xeason for his interpo- 
sitioD. Jehovah may also be construed as a vocative, which 
makes the parallelism more exact. Foolish, in the strong sense 
of that word, as used in Scripture, to denote the irrationality of 
sin. See above, on Ps. xiv. 1, and compare Deut. xxxii. 6, from 
which place the whole phrase is borrowed. 

19. Give not to the greedy herd thy turtle-dove : the herd of thy 
afflicted (ones) forget not forever ! The general import of this 
prayer is obvious, and the only doubtful point is the precise sense 
of the word (n*.n) twice translated herd above. It usually means 
an animal or living thing, and more especially a wild beast, as 
distinguished from domesticated cattle. This would yield a good 
sense in the first clause (greedy beast), but is inadmissible in the 
other. The same objection lies against the explanation of the 
first as meaning life and the last as meaning flock. The only 
meaning equally admissible in both parts of the sentence is the 
one just mentioned, that of animal collectively, and then a flock 
or herd of animals, from which it is sometimes transferred to hu- 
man subjects. See above, on Ps. lxviii. 11 (10.) Greedy herd, 
literally, herd of appetite. See above, on Ps. xxvii. 12. xli. 3 (2.) 
The turtle-dove is here used as an emblem of innocence and help- 
lessness, as well as an expression of affectionate endearment. 

20. Look to the covenant ; for filled are the darknesses of earth 
with homes of violence (or cruelty.) The prayer in the first 
clause is equivalent to saying, Remember thy promise, fulfill thy 
covenant engagements. The reason assigned is, that the existing 
state of things is such as to require this fulfilment. The word 
translated darknesses has the form of a local noun, and may there- 
fore mean dark places, not in the sense of hiding places, but in 
that of gloomy dismal places. The same idea, of distress and 


gloom, which is always included in the sense of the word 
elsewhere, may be obtained by making it an abstract, darkness, 
or supposing the plural form to bo emphatic, profound darkness, 
not as an attribute of certain places, but of the whole earth. As 
if he had said, the darkness of the earth, or this dark world, is 
filled with homes of cruelty. This word (cjn ) , here as elsewhere, 
comprehends the two ideas of injustice and Violence. See above, 
on Ps. vii. 17 (16.) xviii. 49 (48.) The use of the word hones 
(or habitations) indicates that violence or cruelty is there domes- 
ticated, permanently resident. See above, on Ps. xxv. 13. The 
meaning of the whole verse, thus explained, is, that the permanent 
establishment and prevalence of " wrong and outrage" in the 
darkness of the world may be urged as a reason for the fulfilment 
of God's promise, nay, his solemn oath, that the whole earth shall 
be filled with his glory (Num. xiv. 21.) 

21. Let not the oppressed turn back confounded; let the sufferer 
and the poor (man) praise thy name. The word translated op- 
pressed means strictly broken, bruised, or crushed. See above, 
on Ps. ix. 10 (9.) x. 18. Turn back, abandon his pursuit, retire 
in despair. Confounded, disappointed, put to shame, by the 
frustration of his hopes and wishes. See above, on Ps. xxxv. 4. 
xl. 15 (14.) lxix. 7 (6.) lxx. 3 (2.) 

22. Arise, oh God ! Plead thine own cause ! Remember thy 
reviling by the fool all day ! The first prayer is the common one, 
that God would put an end to his apparent inaction and indiffer- 
ence to the sufferings of his servants. See above, on Ps. iii. 
8 (7.) vii. 7 (6.) ix. 20 (19.) x. 12. xvii. 13. xxxv. 2. xliv. 27 
(26.) Plead thine own cause, literally, strive thy strife. Sec 
above, on Ps xliii. 1. < Remember how thou art reviled by 
the irrational transgressor, and arouse thyself to silence his re- 


23. Forget not the voice of thy foes, the noise of thy assailants, 
ascending always. The voice and noise here meant are the 
clamorous revilings and blasphemies of wicked men, continually 
going up into the ears of God, and calling down his wrath upon 
them. This striking figure, representing gross sin as a vocal and 
audible witness against him who commits it, is a common one in 
Scripture from the earliest books downwards. See Gen. iv. 10. 
xviii. 21. xix. 13, and compare Jon. i. 2. Thy assailants, or more 
literally, thy insurgents, those who rise up against thee, in the 
way not only of attack but of rebellion. See above, on Ps. iii. 2 
(1.) xviii. 40, 49 (39, 48.) xliv. 6 (5), and compare Ex. xv. 7. 
Deut. xxxiii. 11.2 Sam. xxii. 49. All this the Psalmist, or rather 
the Church, in whose behalf he speaks, recalls to the divine re- 
membrance, as a ground or reason for immediate interference. 


_. To the Chief Musician. Al-tashheth. A Psalm ly Asaph 
A song (of praise.) See above, on Ps. lxviii. 1. In this psalm 
the ancient church expresses a confident anticipation of divine 
assistance and deliverance from the domination of some great 
hostile power, the catastrophe of which is here foretold. The 
immediate historical occasion we have no direct means of de- 
termining ; but the one to which the psalm itself seems most 
appropriate is the destruction of the Assyrian host in the reign 
of Hezekiah. See above, on Ps. xlvi. 1, and below, on Ps. 
lxxvi. 1, and compare Isai. xxxvi and xxxvii. That the psalm has 
reference to a period of imminent and extraordinary danger, is 


moreover indicated by the phrase al-tashheth, or destroy not. See 
above, on Ps. lvii. 1. 

2 (1.) We give thanks to thee, oh God, ive give thanks ; and 
near (is) thy name ; they recount thy wonders. The thanksgiving 
is in anticipation of some great event, and implies a strong faith 
in the certainty of its occurrence. Thy name is near, a signal 
manifestation of thine attributes is just at hand, so that men begin 
already to recount thy wondrous works, as if actually past. Or 
this may mean that they recount God's former dealings with 
them, as a reason for expecting like or greater things to come. 
Another construction of the last clause, perhaps still more 
natural, is that adopted in the English Bible : thy name is near, 
thy wondrous works declare. For the sense and usage of the last 
word in Hebrew, see above, on Ps. ix. 2 (1.) xxvi. 7. xl. 6 (5.) 
Ixxi. 17. 

3 (2.) For I will take a set time ; I will equitably judge. 
The best interpreters are now in favour of explaining these as 
the words of God himself, containing the promise upon which was 
built the hope expressed in the preceding verse. Take then in- 
cludes the two ideas of choosing and using for the end proposed 
The word translated set time is the same that means assembly in 
Ps. lxxiv. 4, 8. The idea of constituted time, which is included 
even there, is here predominant. The same use of the word oc- 
curs inPs. cii. 14(13.) Hab. ii. 3. Dan. viii. 19. xi. 27,35. There 
is here an obvious allusion to the stated times at which justice is 
publicly administered. Compare Acts xix. 38. As if he had 
said, I will appoint a time, and when it comes, I will ascend the 
judgment-seat. The parties to be tried are the foes and oppres- 
sors of God's people. The pronoun is emphatic ; I, and no 
other, will be judge. See above, on Ps. 1. 6. Equitably, liter- 
ally, equities or rectitudes. See above on Ps. xvii. 2. lviii. 2(1.) 
The use of the plural, as an abstract, and that of the noun in 


an adverbial sense, are botli familiar Hebrew idioms. The judg- 
ing of the wicked at God's bar implies their condemnation, and, 
as a necessary consequence, the deliverance of those whom they 
oppress or injure. 

4 (3.) Melted (are) the earth and all dwelling on it; J have 
weighed the pillars of it. Sclah. Dissolved with fear, enfeebled, 
or reduced to nothing. See above, on Ps, xlvi. 7 (6.) The 
figure in the last clause is obscure. The act of weighing may be 
intended to suggest that of raising, bearing up. Compare Isai 
xl. 12, 13, 15. Some suppose, however, that it means to mea- 
sure, estimate, or value, and implies not only perfect knowledge 
but creative power. As a part of the promise or encouraging 
assurance begun in the preceding verse, the one before us must 
mean that God himself will prevent or rectify the evils caused or 
threatened by his enemies. 

5 (4.) 2" said to the boasters. Boast not, and to the ivicked, Lift 
not up the horn ! Some regard these as the words of the psalm- 
ist, speaking again in the person of the church. The sense will 
then be that, encouraged by God's promise of protection and de- 
liverance, his people warn their adversaries not to triumph. It 
seems more natural, however, to explain them as a continuation 
of the words of God himself, whose very assurance of protection 
to his people was in fact a warning of destruction to his enemies. 
The objection, that what follows must then be referred to the 
same speaker, is of little weight, as the transition from one per- 
son to another, in the psalms of a dramatic structure, is not com- 
monly a marked one, and is often quite insensible. The conclud- 
ing metaphor is borrowed from the habits of horned animals, and 
nearly equivalent to the act of holding the head high, as a sign 
of human pride. For a different application of the figure, see 
above, on Ps. xviii. 3 (2.) 


6 (5.) Do not raise on high your horn (and) speak with a proud 
neck, or speak with (outstretched) neck proudly. The last word 
is an adjective meaning insolent or arrogant. See above, on Ps. 
xxxi. 19 (18.) It may either agree with neck, and signify a 
position and carriage of the neck indicative of pride (Ps. lxxiii. 6) 
or constitute the object of the verb, in which case with the neck 
may mean with outstretched or prolonged neck, not projecting 
forwards but inclining backwards. See Isai. iii. 16, and compare 
Job xv. 26 in Hebrew. For a similar ellipsis, see below, Ps 
lxxvii. 16 (15.) 

7 (6.) For not from east, and (not) from ivest, and not from 
the wilderness of mountains, is the judgment on these sinners to 
proceed, but from a very different quarter. The word translated 
east means properly the sunrise, or rather the place of his com- 
ing forth ; the parallel term the sunset, or the place of evening. 
A third point of the compass is denoted by the wilderness, the 
great Arabian desert lying to the south of Palestine. The last 
word in Hebrew (E^lp) admits of two entirely different explana- 
tions. One of these, given in the English Bible, makes it the in- 
finitive of the verb translated raise in vs. 5, 6 (4, 5), and sup- 
poses it to mean the act of raising, or a state of exaltation. The 
sense will then be that promotion cometh not from any quarter 
upon earth, but from God and God alone. Others object that 
the question here is not one of promotion but of judgment, as ap- 
pears from the foregoing and the following context. The^ 
accordingly adhere to the ancient versions in making (d^ii) the 
plural of the common Hebrew word for hill or mountain, and ex- 
plain the whole phrase to mean a hilly desert or a wilderness of 
mountains, a description eminently applicable to Idumcea and 
Arabia Petnea. The essential idea is still that of the south, here 
added to the east and west, as a general description of the 
countries contiguous to Palestine. The south is mentioned last, 
perhaps for the sake of an emphatic reference to Egypt, as the 



foreign power, on which the Jews were supposed by the Assyrians 
to rely with special confidence. Compare Isai. xxxvi. 4 — 6. 
The omission of the north may either be fortuitous or (as some 
suppose) intended to suggest that this was the quarter from 
which the hostile incursion had proceeded, as it was in fact, in- 
vaders even from the furthest east commonly entering the coun- 
try from that side. The meaning of the whole verse then is that 
the danger which impended from one quarter could not be averted 
by mere human aid from any other, but only by the means re- 
ferred to in the next verse. 

8 (7.) For God (is) judge (or actually judging ;) this (one) he 
will humble, and this (one) will exalt. The for at the beginning 
introduces the reason of the negative statement in the verse pre- 
ceding. It is not man, for it is God, who can perform this. 
The same relation of the sentences is commonly expressed in our 
idiom by but. The act of judging, or the office of a judge, here 
implies absolute sovereignty. This and this is the idiomatic 
Hebrew phrase answering to one and another in English. See 
above, on Ps. xx. 8 (7.) 

9 (8.) For a cup (is) in the hand of Jehovah, and the wine 
ferments, and it is full of mixture, and he pours out from this 
(cup) ; only its dregs shall they wring (or such) out, shall they 
drink — all the wicked of the earth (or land.) This is a common 
figure in the Scriptures for the wrath of God. See above, on Ps. xi. 6. 
The cup contains the prescribed or allotted portion of the sinner to 
whom it is administered. Ferments or has fermented, implying that 
it is real wine and strong wine. The translation it is red is now sup- 
posed to rest upon a doubtful etymology. Some interpreters ex- 
plain the phrase, it foams with wine ; but this construction is not 
only in itself less simple, but puts a sense upon the verb not en- 
tirely authorized by usage, and requires the noun (sis) cup, which 
is elsewhere feminine, to be construed as a masculine. It (the 


wine) is full of mixture^ i. e. mixed with spices to increase its 
strength and stimulating power. Only its dregs is an idiomatic 
Hebrew phrase, which does not mean, as it may seem to do in 
English, that they shall drink nothing but the dregs. The mean- 
ing rather is, that they shall have nothing left for it, no resource, 
or no alternative, except to drain the cup to the very dregs, i. e. 
to suffer God's wrath to the uttermost (1 Thess. ii. 16.) The 
position given to the subject of the sentence at its close makes it 
more emphatic. See above on Ps. xl. 15 (14.) 

10 (9.) And I will declare forever,! will sing praise to the God 
of Jacob. The emphatic pronoun puts him in opposition to the 
wicked of the earth or land. ' While they are thus destroyed, I 
will declare' etc. The object of the verb in the first clause is 
determined by the second. Sing praise, make music, as a means 
of celebrating the divine praise. See above, on Ps. ix. 12 (11.) 
sxx. 5 (4.) xlvii. 7 (6.) lxvi. 4. To the God of Jacob, to him 
»yho has proved himself to be such, by fulfilling the promise made 
af old to Israel. The personal name of the patriarch is poetically 
substituted for the one which properly belonged to him as founder 
of the nation. See above, on Ps. xxiv. 6. 

11 (10.) And all horns of wicked ones will I cut off; lifted up 
3hall be the horns of the righteous. The same noun and verb, that 
were used in vs. 5, 6 (4, 5), to denote the self-exaltation of the 
wicked, arc here used in a good sense to denote God's gracious 
exaltation of the righteous. Compare Matth. xxiii. 12. Luke 
xiv. 11. xviii. 14. In the first clause, to the simple correlative 
idea of humiliation is superadded that of violent destruction. 
While the horns of the righteous are to be exalted, those of the 
wicked are not only to be lowered but cut off. The change from 
the plural (wicked men) to the singular (a righteous man), if 
meant to be significant at all, may have reference to the speaker 
as au ideal individual. The construction of these words as those 



of God himself is a gratuitous and harsh one. They are rathei 
uttered by the Church, as representing him, or acting in his 
strength and under his authority. 


1. To the Chief Musician. With {or on) stringed instruments. 
A Psalm oy Asaph. A song (of praise.) The resemblance of 
this title to that of the preceding psalm, their juxtaposition in the 
Psalter, and their internal similarity, all favour the opinion that 
they had respect originally to the same historical occasion, with 
this difference, that the first is rather an anticipation of the great 
deliverance as certain but still future, and the other a commemo- 
ration of the same as actually past or really experienced. In this, 
as in the other case, the event is ascribed to a wonderful divine 
interposition, and described as one affecting the whole world or 
the nations generally, which was emphatically true of the great 
stroke, by which the power of Assyria was broken. 

2. (1.) Known in Judah (is) God ; in Israel great (is) his name. 
Known as God, and as the God of Israel, his chosen people, which, 
after the great schism in the time of Rehoboam, continued to exist 
in the kingdom of Judah. It was only in the ancient church that 
his name was fully known, his perfections clearly manifested. 

3 (2.) And in Salem was his ta.lernacle^ and his home in Zion. 
This is explanatory of the first verse. He was best known there 
because it was his chosen earthly residence. Salem is evidently 
used poetically for Jerusalem. The former name means peaceful 


and secure, and some suppose it to be one of the elements of 
which the other name is composed, so as to signify a peaceful or 
secure possession. The same interpreters identify the Salem of 
Gen. xiv. IS with Jerusalem. The word translated tabernacle 
properly means a booth or shed composed of leaves and branches, 
in allusion to the moveable and temporary form of the first sanc- 

4 (3.) Thither he shattered the bolts of the bow — buckler and 
sword and battle. Selah. Some translate the first word there, 
but there is no clear instance of the Hebrew adverb being so used, 
and the best interpreters suppose the sense to be, that he destroyed 
them on their way there, while in motion towards the Holy City. 
The word ("lad) translated shattered is an intensive species of the 
common verb ("Dd) to break. Both forms occur together in Ps. 
xxix. 5. See also Ps. iii. 8 (7.) The ambiguous word bolts is 
used to represent a Hebrew one, which properly means thunder- 
bolts or flashes of lightning, but is here applied to the flight of 
arrows, with or without allusion to the practice of igniting them 
(Eph. vi. 16.) To the shield and sword, as the most important 
pieces of defensive and offensive armour, he adds, by a bold and 
striking figure, war itself, perhaps as a residuary aggregate of all 
other arms and weapons. 

5 (4.) Bright (art) thou, glorious, more than the mountains of 
prey. The object of address is God, who had been previously 
spoken of, in the third person. The first word in Hebrew is a 
participle, meaning illuminated, made to shine, and therefore bear- 
ing some affinity to our word illustrious. The other epithet means 
grand, glorious, sublime. See above, on Ps. viii. 1. The com- 
mon version (excellent) seems to restrict the praise to moral 
qualities. As mountains are standing symbols of states and king- 
doms, mountains of prey, i. e. mountains occupied by robbers, 
may denote oppressive powers, such as that of Assyria, to which 


the Prophets apply similar descriptions. See Nah. ii. 11, 12. 
iii. 1. To all such hostile powers God is here represented as 

6 (5.) Spoiled are the stout of heart ; they have slept their 
sleep ; and all the men of might have not found their hands. The 
meaning of the first clause seems to be, that the spoilers are them- 
selves spoiled, by a signal providential retribution. Some, how- 
ever, explain the first word to mean snatched away, caused to 
disappear or vanish. They have slept their own sleep, i. e. they, 
like others, in their turn, sleep the sleep of death. See above, 
on Ps. xiii. 4 (3), and compare Nah. iii. 18. 2 Kings xix. 35. 
Stout of heart suggests the two distinct ideas, courageous and 
hard-hearted. The same expression is used, in an unfavourable 
sense, by Isaiah (xlvi. 12.) All have not found does not imply 
that some have found, but on the contrary, that none have found, 
or in other words that the negative poposition is true of all with- 
out exception. Found their hands is understood by some to mean 
regained their strength. But the direct sense of the words is, that 
they have not found the use of their hands, or been able to em- 
ploy them with advantage. 

7 (6.) At thy rebuke, oh God of Jacob, put to sleep (is) both 
chariot and horse. The particle at the beginning is both temporal 
and causal, post hoc et propter hoc. After and because of thy 
rebuke. This noun denotes not merely a verbal but a real or 
practical expression of the divine displeasure. See above, on Ps 
ix. 6 (5.) lxviii. 31 (30.) God of Jacob, see above, on v. 10 (9.) 
Put to sleep is here used to translate a passive participle, denoting 
not a mere state or condition, but the violence by which it is pro- 
duced. The sleep meant is of course the sleep of death. The 
application of this figure to the chariot as well as to the horse, 
is less paradoxical in Hebrew, where the noun used is sometimes 
a collective meaning cavalry. See my note on Isaiah xxi. 7. 


At the- same time, there is beauty in the figure, as suggesting 
that the noisy rattle of the wheels is hushed in death-like silence. 

8 (7.) Thou (art) to be feared, (even) thou, and who shall 
stand before thee, when once thou art angry 1 The Hebrew pas- 
sive participle often has the force of the future passive or gerun- 
dive in Latin. See above, on Ps. xviii. 4 (3.) The repetition 
of the pronoun makes it highly emphatic and even exclusive, 
thou and no other, thou and only thou. Who shall standi in- 
cludes the kindred question, who may or can standi To stand 
before God means, in this connection, to stand one's ground in 
opposition to him, or in independence of him. See above, on 
Ps. i. 5. The common version of the last words, which is re- 
tained above, conveys correctly the idea, but without the peculiar 
form of the original, which is highly idiomatic, and not susceptible 
of literal translation. The last word strictly means thy anger and 
the one before it from then or from that time. The nearest ap- 
proach to it in English would be since thy anger, a construction 
which is actually given in the latest German versions. 

9 (8.) From heaven thou hast caused judgment to be heard ; the 
earth feared and rested, or, the earth urns afraid and was still. 
From his throne in heaven God had pronounced judgment on his 
wicked enemies, the sound of which had struck the dwellers upon 
earth with awe and calmed their tumult. The last Hebrew verb 
is especially applied to repose after the noise and agitation of 
war. See Josh. xiv. 15. Judg. v. 31. Isai. xiv 7. 

10 (9.) In Godh arising for the judgment, to save all the 
humble of the earth. This completes the sentence begun in the 
preceding verse, by assigning the date, and at the same time the 
cause, of the effect there recorded. The earth was awe-struck 
and reduced to silence when God arose to judgment, i. c. to act 
as judge or sovereign arbiter. In the last clause, as in many 


other places, the judgments of God upon his enemies are repre* 
sented as occasions of deliverance to his people, here described 
by one of their characteristic qualities, not merely as the meek in 
temper, but as the lowly in spirit, the humble in the strong reli- 
gious sense. See above, on Ps. ix. 13 ( 12. ) x. 12, 17. xxii. 27 (26.) 
xxv. 9. xxxiv. 3 (2.) xxxvii. 11. lxix. 33 (32.) The last word in 
the verse has here a kind of double sense, since the promise made 
directly to the humble of the land, i. e. the spiritual Israel, was 
really intended to include all the humble of the earth, i. e. all the 
truly pious, whether Jews or Gentiles. 

11 flO.) For the wrath of man shall praise thee (or acknow- 
ledge thee) ; the remainder of tor at lis thou shalt gird (about thee.) 
The very passions which excite men to rebel against God shall 
be used as instruments and means of coercion. See above, on 
Ps. xxxii. 9. And so complete shall be this process, that even 
the remnant of such passionate excitement, which might be ex- 
pected to escape attention, will be nevertheless an instrument 
or weapon in the hands of God. This last idea is expressed by 
the figure of a girdle, here considered as a sword-belt. So too 
in other cases the verb to gird is absolutely used in the sense of 
girding on a sword, or the still more general one of arming one's 
self. See above, on Ps. xlv. 4 (3), and compare Judg. xviii. 11. 
1 Kings xx. 11.2 Kings iii. 21. Others, with less probability, 
suppose the figure to denote the act of attaching to one's self, as 
in Ps. cix. 19. Isai. xi. 5. Jer. xiii. 11, and apply it to the future 
conversion of all remaining enemies. The plural in the last 
clause (wraths or angers) seems to be an emphatic designation 
of abundance or excess. See above, on. Ps. xviii. 51 (50.) 

12(11.) Vow and pay unto Jehovah your God, all (ye that 
are) round about him ; let them bring tribute to the Dread ( One.) 
The first clause may be understood to mean, pay now what you 
have vowed before, i. e. before the great deliverance and during 



the impending danger. The addition of your God shows that 
the object of address is Israel. Compare Deut. xxiii. 22 (21.) 
According to the masoretic interpunction, all that are roundabout 
him belongs to the first clause, and denotes the host of Israel, in 
the midst of whom Jehovah's tent was pitched (Num. ii. 2.) The 
English Bible, following the ancient versions, throws these words 
into the last clause, as the subject of the verb that follows, let all 
that are round about him bring presents, or they shall bring 
presents. This last word in Hebrew denotes tribute from the 
conquered or dependent to the conqueror or sovereign. See 
above, on Ps. lxviii. 30 (29), and compare Isai. xviii. 7. This 
was literally verified in the case of Hezekiah's rescue from the 
power of Sennacherib. See 2 Chron. xxxii. 23. God is here 
called Fear or Terror, as an object to be reverenced or dreaded. 
Compare the similar expressions in Isaiah viii. 12, 13. 

13 (12.) He cuts off the spirit of princes , he is feared (or to le 
feared) by the kings of earth. The first verb is specially applied 
to the pruning or cutting of vines. See Jer. vi. 9. xxv. 30. xlix. ' 
9, and compare Rev. xiv. 18, 19. Its future form includes a 
potential sense. He can do it when he will, and he will do it 
when he sees occasion. Spirit or breath is here put for the life 
or vital principle, to cut which is to kill. He who possesses this 
alarming power is or ought to be an object of religious fear, not 
only to ordinary men or to certain great men in particular, but 
to all the kings of the earth. Compare Matt. x. 28. Luke xii. 
5. These expressions show that the historical occasion of the 
psalm was not an event of merely local interest, but a great his- 
torical and national catastrophe, such as the blow inflicted on the 
power of Assyria by the sudden destruction of Sennacherib's host 



1. Tc the Chief Musician over (the choir or family of) Jedu- 
thin. By Asaph, A Psalm. For the meaning of this title, see 
above, on Ps. lxii. 1. The psalm before us contains a complaint 
and prayer of the ancient church in times of deep distress. It 
consists of two parts. In the first, the church describes her sad 
condition and complains of God's desertion, vs. 2 — 10 (1 — 9.) 
In the second, she encourages herself by the remembrance of 
former deliverances, and especially of that from Egypt, vs. 11 — 
21 (10 — 20.) The particular historical occasion is not specified ; 
but if, as some suppose, it be the crisis of affairs in the reign of 
Josiah, the name Asaph must be understood as a description of 
the family, and not of its progenitor. See above on Ps. 1. 1. 
There are several obvious imitations of this psalm in the third 
chapter of Habakkuk. 

2 (1 ) My voice unto God (I will raise) and will cry ; my voice 
unto God (I will raise) and he will give car to me. Some make 
the last verb an imperative, and (when I raise my Voice) do thou 
give ear. But besides the sudden change of person, which, though 
common, is not to be assumed without necessity, the form of the 
Hebrew verb is that of an infinitive, to be determined by assimi- 
lation to the one before it. The last clause then really assigns a 
reason for the purpose expressed in the first. He would not pray, 
if he despaired of being heard. 


3 (2.) In the day of my distress the Lord I sought ; my hand 
by night teas spread and grew not numb ; my soul refused to be 
comforted. Day is here put for time, but not without allusion to 
the mention of the night in the clause following, so as to express 
the idea that he prayed day and night. The verb translated 
spread means strictly spilt, poured out, scattered, but seems to be 
here poetically applied to the spreading of the hands as a cus- 
tomary gesture of entreaty. See above, on Ps. xliv. 21 (20.) 
The common version, my sore ran, has no foundation in etymo- 
logy or usage. For the meaning of the next verb, see above, on 
Ps. xxxviii. 9 (S.) Its form is future, but the copulative particle, 
though separated from it by the negative, may be considered as 
exerting a conversive force. 

4 (3.) I remember God and murmur ; I muse, and overwhelmed 
is my spirit. Selah. The recollection of God's former kindness, 
as contrasted with what seems to be his present desertion, extorts 
from the sufferer an expression of disquietude. The second verb 
in Hebrew is the same with that in Ps. xxxix. 7 (6.) xlii. 6, 12 
(5, 11.) lv. 18 (17.) My spirit is not simply equivalent to my- 
self ', but suggests the additional idea of profound internal agitation . 

5 (4.) Thou hast held fast my eyes ; I am smitten and cannot 
speak. The word here rendered fast is properly a passive par- 
ticiple meaning watched, kept, and here, from the connection, kept 
awake or open. This circumstance is added to enhance the de- 
scription of his miserable state. 

6 (5.) I thought on days of old , years of antiquities (or perpe- 
tuities^ The contrast of the present with the past is again urged 
as an aggravating circumstance in his condition. 

7 (6.) I will remember my song in the night, with my heart will 
I muse, and my spirit inquires. The futures of the first clause 


have reference to the time of actual suffering. The word trans- 
lated song means strictly a stringed instrument, or that kind of 
music, but is here used more generally to denote the musical ex- 
pression of thanksgiving. In the night qualifies the words imme- 
diately preceding (my song), not the remoter antecedent (I re- 
member.) JVith my heart, i. e. in communion with it, with 
myself. My spirit inquires, i. e. I, from the bottom of my heart, 
ask the questions recorded in the following verses. 

8 (7.) For ever will the Lord reject, and will he no more favour ? 
It was thus that the spirit of the sufferer made inquiry. For ever, 
literally, to eternities or ages. Reject, with abhorrence and con- 
tempt. See above, on Ps. xliii. 2. xliv. 10, 24 (9, 23.) lx. 3, 12 
(2, 11.) lxxiv. 1. The idiomatic form of the last clause is, will 
he not add to favour again (or any longer ?) 

9 (8.) Ceased forever has his mercy, failed (his) word to 
generation and generation ? The general term word here denotes 
specifically a word of promise. See above, on Ps. xviii. 31 (30.) 
Generation and generation, i. e. all generations in succession, are 
not mentioned as the objects of the promise, to whom God's word 
was pledged, but as the period of its failure. 

10 (9.) Has the Mighty (One) forgotten to be gracious, or closed 
in wrath his mercies ? Selah. The use of the divine name El 
is here significant, as if it had been asked, does the goodness of 
God no longer bear proportion to his greatness ? The verb trans- 
lated closed is one found only in poetical style. The original ex- 
pression for his mercies suggests the idea of his boivels, according 
to the idiom which represents the viscera as the seat of the ten- 
derest affections. 

11 (10.) And I said, this is my affliction, the years of the right 
hand of the Highest. This may be regarded as the turning point 



of the entire composition. After all the rcpinings and misgivings 
just described, I said, at length, what I might and should have 
said before. My affliction, literally, my sickness, that specific form 
of suffering being put for suffering in general, as inflicted by the 
hand of God. The use of the word years seems to imply that 
the trial was one of long continuance. The divine name or de- 
scription (Most High) suggests the duty and necessity of yielding 
to his sovereign pleasure. 

12 (11.) I will commemorate the deeds of Jak ; for I will re- 
member thy wonders of old. The forms of the verb in the two 
clauses are different though needlessly assimilated by the masoretic 
critics and the versions. The second is the primitive verb remem 
oer ; the first its derivative, cause to be remembered, commemo- 
rate, celebrate. The literal meaning of the last words is from 
antiquity thy wonder, a collective and abstract expression for thy 
wondrous works. For the origin and use of the divine name 
Jah, see above, on Ps. lxviii. 5 (4.) 

13 (12.) And I will meditate of all thy ivork, and of thy doings 
will I muse. The original expression is not of but in them, as if 
implying a complete absorption of the thoughts and feelings in the 

14 (13.) Oh God, in holiness is thy way. What Mighty (One) 
is great like God ? The common version, in the sanctuary, yields 
a good sense ; but the other is entitled to the preference on ac- 
count of Ex. xv. 11, to which place there is evident allusion. 
Holiness here means the divine perfection, all that distinguishes 
the Maker from his creatures. See above, on Ps. xxii. 4 (3.) 
Thy way, i. e. thy mode of dealing with thy creatures, and par- 
ticularly with thy people. The use of the name El is again signi- 
ficant. Who is there like God, even among the mightiest and 
most exalted beings ? 

190 PSALM LXXV11. 

15 (14.) Thou (art) the Almighty doing wonders; thou hast 
made known in the nations thy strength. Thou art the true Al- 
mighty as distinguished from all counterfeits. Doing, i. e. 
habitually, characteristically, doing wonders. The next word has 
the singular form but a collective meaning, as in v. 12 (11) 
above. In the nations, not only to them, but among them, in the 
midst of them, and in their own experience. The display of God's 
omnipotence had not been confined to his own people, but extended 
to surrounding nations. This is particularly mentioned in the 
history of the exodus from Egypt. See Ex. ix. 16. xv. 14. 

16 (15 J Thou heist redeemed with the arm thy people, the sons 
of Jacob and Joseph. Selah. The particular display of the di- 
vine strength just referred to is now specified. Redeemed, 
recovered from captivity or bondage. With the arm, i. e. by the 
exercise of power. See above, on Ps. xliv. 4 (3.) Joseph is 
named as well as Jacob, in order to include the ten tribes in the 
statement, which might otherwise have been applied to Judah only, 
as the legitimate successor of the ancient Israel. In this clause 
some interpreters see a distinct allusion to the downfal of the 
kingdom of the ten tribes, as an event which had already taken 
place when the psalm was written. , 

17 (16.) The waters saio thee, God, the looters saw thee; they 
shake, yea, the depths quake. The historical reference is of course 
to the passage of the Red Sea, but at the same time with al- 
lusion to the symbolical use of seas in Scripture. See above, on 
Ps. xlvi. 3 (2.) The transition from the past tense to the future 
or present shows that the writer suddenly transports himself into 
the midst of the events which he commemorates. The yea or nay 
(?|a) in the last clause is emphatic. Not merely the surface of 
the water moves ; its very depths are agitated and convulsed. 

18 (17.) The clouds woured water ; the skies gave a sound : nea. 



thine arroios jly. These are natural phenomena of storms, here 
noted as betokening God's presence. See above, on Ps. xviii. 
12 — 15 (11 — 14.) The skies, the vapours constituting the visible 
heavens. See above, on Ps. lxviii. 35 (34.) Gave, a sound, ut- 
tered their voice, a beautiful description of the thunder. The 
yea indicates a climax. There was not only rain and thunder but 
lightning, the flashes of which are poetically spoken of as arrows 
See above, on Ps. xviii. 15 (14.) The word translated//?/ is an 
intensive form of the verb to go, implying swiftness and perhaps 
diversity of direction, hither and thither, to and fro. See above, 
on Ps. xxvi. 3. xxxv. 14. With this verse compare Hab. iii. 11. 

19 (18.) The voice of thy thunder (was) in the whirlwind; 
lightnings made the world shine; (then) shook and quaked the 
earth. The word translated whirlwind usually means a wheel, 
but is sometimes applied to any thing whirled or driven round 
before the wind. See below, on Ps. lxxxiii. 14 (13), and com- 
pare Isai. xvii. 13. Hence it may naturally be employed to de- 
signate the whirlwind itself as the cause of this rotary motion. 
This is surely more agreeable to usage than to make it descriptive 
of mere swiftness or velocity. The common version, in the hea- 
ven, if not entirely arbitary, must rest upon a supposed allusion 
to the convex appearance of the heavens. Made to shine, illu- 
minated, lighted up. There is however no affinity between the 
Hebrew word and that for lightnings. The whole description is 
remarkably like that of the theophany in Ps. xviii. See also 
Hab. iii. 14. 

20 (19.) In the sea (was) thy way and thy paths in great (or 
many) waters, and thy footsteps were not known. This may be 
understood as a general description of the divine operations as in- 
scrutable, in which case the verbs supplied should have the pre- 
sent form, is thy way, are not known. It is more agreeable, how 
ever, to the context, and in far better keeping with the vivid 


graphic character of this part of the psalm, to understand the 
verse, at least in the first instance, as referring to the exodus from 
Egypt, when it might indeed be said that the way of Jehovah, as 
the deliverer and conductor of his people, was in the sea, and that 
his footsteps and theirs could not be traced, because the waters 
instantly rolled over them. With this verse compare Hab. iii. 15. 

21 (20.) Thou didst guide like a flock thy people, by the hand 
of Moses and Aaron. Like a flock, in perfect safety and with 
perfect ease. The comparison of Moses, at this juncture, to a 
shepherd, reappears in Isai. lxiiL 11 — 14. The conclusion of the 
psalm appears abrupt, but any devout Israelite could draw the 
inference for himself, that he who had so gloriously saved his 
people could deliver them again. 


This psalm appears to have been written after David's eleva- 
tion to the throne, and perhaps before he was acknowledged by 
the whole race of Israel (2 Sam. v. 5.) Its design is to impress 
upon the public mind the true grounds of the transfer which had 
taken place, of the pre-eminence in Israel, from the tribe of 
EjDhraim to that of Judah, as the execution of a divine purpose 
long before disclosed, and at the same time a just judgment on 
the sins committed by the people under the predominant influence 
of Ephraim, from the time of Joshua to that of Eli. The internal 
character of the psalm determines its external form, which is 
simple, and admits of no minute division, beyond that afforded by 
the historical succession of events and the logical design of the 



composition, to prove that the Israelites under the ascendancy 
of Ephraim were similar in character to the elder generation which 
came out of Egypt. 

1. Maschil. By Asaph Listen, my people, to my law ; in- 
cline your ear to the sayings of my mouth. This is eminently a 
didactic psalm, because it teaches the true meaning of events in 
the history of Israel which might otherwise seem to be mere 
matters of curiosity. For the same reason it was necessary that 
it should be so designated in the title or inscription. See above, 
on Ps. xxxii. 1. xlii. 1. lii. 1. etc. The Asaph meant, as we have 
seen, is probably the contemporary and chief musician of David, 
but also an inspired psalmist. See above, on Ps. 1. 1. In this 
verse, he invites attention, as if to something strange and unex- 
pected. My people, fellow-members of the ancient church, not 
as individuals, however, but as an organized body. My law, my 
inspired instructions which, as such, have a binding authority and 

2. I will open, in a parable, my month ; I will utter riddles 
from antiquity. By a parable we are here to understand an 
analogical illustration of divine truth. An exposition of the true 
design and meaning of the history of Israel was in this sense a 
mashal or parable. Riddles, enigmas, not the events themselves, 
but their latent import, which escaped a merely superficial obser- 
vation. See above, on Ps. xlix. 5(4.). Of old, or from an- 
tiquity, i. e. belonging to the early period of our national exist- 
ence. Utter, literally, pour forth, cause to flow or gush. See 
above, on Ps. xix. 3 (2.) 

3. Wliich we have heard, and have hnownthem, and our father % 
recounted to us. Here, as often elsewhere, the knowledge of God's 
ancient dealings with his people is ascribed to that national tra- 
dition, which they were not only suffered but required to cherish 


and perpetuate (Ex. xii. 14. Deut. vi. 20), but which was not 
at all exclusive of a written and authoritative record. 

4. We will not hide {them) from their sons, to an after genera- 
tion recounting the praises of Jehovah, and his strength, and his 
wonders which he did. The psalmist here recognises the obliga- 
tion resting on the individual parent, but above all on the church 
as such, to continue the transmission of this knowledge to the 
latest generations. . 

5. And set up a testimony in Jacob, and a law established in 
Israel, which he commanded our fathers, to make them known unto 
their so7is. The essential idea here conveyed still is, that the 
traditional transmission of God's mighty deeds entered into the 
very end or purpose for which Israel existed as a nation. 

6. In order that the after generation might know, sons be born, 
arise, and tell (it) to their own sons. This prolonged reiteration 
of the same thing seems intended to preclude the thought or feel- 
ing, that the things about to be recounted were mere relics of 
antiquity, without interest or use to the contemporary race. 

7. And might place in God their hope, and not forget the deeds 
of the Almighty, and his commandments might observe (or keep.) 
The construction is continued from the verse preceding. The 
recollection thus enjoined was not a mere historical or speculative 
exercise, but designed to have a practical effect, to wit, that of 
sccurincr obedience. 


S. And might not be as their fathers, a generation stubborn and 
rebellious, a generation that did not prepare its heart, and whose 
spirit ivas not true to God. A still more specific purpose is here 
mentioned, to wit, that of warning by means of bad examples. 
The fathers here meant are the elder race that came out of 


Egypt. The description stubborn and rebellious is borrowed from 
Dent. xxi. 18. To prepare the heart is to dispose or devote it to 
Grod's service. Compare 1 Sam. vii. 3. 2 Chron. xx. 33. 

9. The sons of Ephraim, armed bowmci, turned (back) in the 
day of battle. The people,' during the ascendancy of Ephraim, 
proved false to their great mission of subduing Canaan and de- 
stroying its inhabitants. This neglect is represented, in the his- 
tory itself, as the source of all the national calamities that fol- 
lowed. As the bow among the ancients was one of the chief 
weapons of war, the description armed bowmen is equivalent to 
well armed soldiers, and is added to enhance the guilt and shame 
of those who thus betrayed their trust, in spite of every external 

10. They kept not the covenant of God, and in his law refused 
to walk. They violated the condition of their national vocation, 
and refused to do the very thing for which they were brought out 
of Egypt. 

11. And forgot his deeds and his ivonders which he showed them. 
The second generation forgot the proofs of God's presence and 
power, which, in the person of their fathers, they had seen when 
they came out of Egypt. 

12. Before their fathers he did a wonder, in the land of Egypt , 
in the field of Zoan. Wonder has here the same collective 
sense as in Ps. lxxvii. 12, 15 (11, 14,) Zoan called by the 
Greeks Tanis, was the ancient capital of Lower Egypt. See 
Num. xiii. 22. The field of Zoan was the country immediately 
adjacent to it. 

13. He clave the sea, and let them pass, and made the waters 


stand as a heap. This last expression is derived from Ex. xv. 8. 
See above, on Ps. xxxiii. 7. 

14. And led them by the cloud by day, and all the night by light 
of fire. See Ex. xiii. 21, 22. The original expression, in the 
cloud, may denote something more than instrumental agency, to 
wit, the personal presence of the Divine Angel in the cloud 

15. He cleaves rods in the wilderness, and gives them drink as 
a great dcev. This last is a hyperbolical description of an abun- 
dant flow of water in the desert. Some account for it by sup- 
posing an allusion to the flood, from the account of which (Gen. 
vii. 11) some of the expressions are borrowed. The verse has 
reference to both miraculous supplies of this kind, one in the first, 
and one in the last year of the error in the wilderness. See Ex. 
xvii. 6 Num. xx. S. 

16. And brings out torrents from a rock, and brings down wa- 
ters like the rivers. This verse relates to the later miracle, re- 
corded in the twentieth of Numbers. 

17. And they continued still to sin against him, to rebel against 
the Highest in the desert. What ouirht to have been the effect of 
these divine interpositions, is clearly implied in this description of 
the actual effect. The very means which should have made them 
more obedient made them more rebellious. The last word in 
Hebrew means a desert, properly so called, a dry land, and may 
here be used to suggest the idea, that they foolishly and wickedly 
provoked God in the very situation where they were most de- 
pendent on him for protection and supplies. The extent of this 
dependence is implied in the use of a divine name signifying sove 
reignty, supremacy. 



18. And tempted God in their heart, to ash food for their soul. 
To tempt God is to require unnecessary proof of what should be 
believed without it. Instead of trusting in his bounty to supply 
them, they anxiously demanded what they looked upon as neces- 
sary for their sustenance. In their heart describes the first con- 
ception of the sin, as distinguished from its outward commission 
in the next verse. To ask, by asking, or rather, so as to ask. 
Such was their impious distrust of God, that they actually asked, 
etc. For their soul, for themselves ; or, for their appetite, to 
gratify their inordinate desire of bodily indulgence ; or, for their 
life, as absolutely necessary to preserve it. 

19. And spake of God (and) said, Will the Almighty be able 
to set a table in the wilderness ? This they not only said, but 
said it speaking of or against God. The unreasonableness of the 
doubt is aggravated by the use of a divine name which implies om- 
nipotence. As if they had said, Can he do this who can do 
everything ? 

20. Lo, he smote the rock, and waters flow, and streams gush 
out ; (but) can he also give bread or provide flesh for his people ? 
The same thing is now proved by an appeal to what he had done. 
The question is reduced to an absurdity by introducing as a kind 
of preamble, what ought to have prevented its being asked at 
all. The doubters are described in these two verses as virtually 
reasoning thus : God is almighty ; but is he able to supply our 
wants ? He has given us water ; but can he give us bread or 
meat ? 

21. Therefore Jiihovah heard and was wroth, and fire was 
kindled in Jacob, and also anger came up in (or against) Israel 
The first clause exemplifies a common Hebrew idiom, equivalent 
to saying, therefore when he heard he was angry. Heard, not 
the rumour or report of their offence, but the offence itself, which 


consisted externally in speaking against God. The second verb 
is a reflexive form of one that means to pass out or over, and 
properly denotes the act of letting one's self out or giving vent to 
the emotions. Fire seems to be a figure for this same wrath, 
with or without allusion to material fire as a destroying agent. 
Compare Num. xi. 1. Came up, in the mind. See 2 Sam. 
xi. 20. Or there may be an allusion to the visible ascent of 
smoke and flame, as in Ps. xviii. 9 (S.) 

22. Because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his sal- 
vation. Compare the terms of the history in Ex. xiv. 13. Num. 
xiv. 11. 

23. And he commanded the cloud above, and the doors of heaven 
he opened. The connection of the sentences is correctly although 
freely given in the common version, though he had commanded, 
etc. Above, literally, from above, hut see on Ps. 1. 4. The 
whole verse expresses the idea of a copious supply from heaven. 
In the last clause there seems to be a reference to the opening of 
the windows of heaven at the deluge. Compare Gen. vii. 11, 
and see above on v. 15. 

24. And rained upon them manna to eat, and corn of heaven 
gave to them. The expression rained is borrowed from the his- 
tory, Ex. xvi. 4. The addition of the words to eat may have 
reference to the primary import of the word (\2) manna as an 
interrogative or indefinite pronoun, meaning what or somewhat, so 
that the words here mi^ht also bear the sense of something to eat. 
See Ex. xvi. 15, 31. It is called corn of heaven as a miracu- 
lous substitute for bread, and also in allusion to its granular form 
and appearance, Ex. xvi. 31. 

25. Bread of the mighty (ones) did (each) man eat ; victual he 
sent them to the full. The first Hebrew word, as appears from the 


preceding verse, is used in its specific sense of tread, and not in 
the generic one of food, which is otherwise expressed in v. 20. 
Some explain bread of the mighty to mean delicate or costly 
bread, like that used by the rich and noble. But to these the 
epithet is nowhere else applied, as a similar one is to the angels 
in Ps. ciii. 20, a circumstance which favours the old explanation 
given in the Targum and the Septuagint, according to which 
manna is called angels' 1 bread, not as being their food, but as 
coming from the place where they reside. Man is not used 
generically in antithesis to angels, which would have required an- 
other Hebrew word (t^), but distributively in the sense of every 
one, as it is in the history of this very miracle, Ex. xvi. 16. The 
idea then is that enough was sent for all without exception. The 
word translated victual denotes specially provision for a march 
or journey. See Ex. xii. 39. To the full, or to satiety, enough 
and more than enough to satisfy the appetite of every individual ; 
another expression borrowed from the history. See Ex. xvi. 3. 

26. He rouses an east-icind in the heavens, and guides by his 
power a south-icind. The first verb is a causative of that used in 
Num. xi. 31, which strictly means to strike a tent or breakup an 
encampment, and then to set out upon a march or journey, but 
is there applied to the sudden rise of a particular wind. The east 
and south are here named as the points from which the strongest 
winds were known to blow in that part of the world. The history 
itself contains no such specification. Guides, directs it in the 
course required for his purpose. 

27. And he rained upon them, like dust, flesh, and like the sand 
of seas, winged fowl (or birds of wing. ) Here, as in the miracle 
of water, two miraculous supplies of flesh are brought together. 
See Ex. xvi. 13. Num. xi. 31, 32. To these too is transferred 
the figure of rain, which 'in the history is applied only to the 


28. And let it fall in the 'midst of his camp, round about his 
dwellings. The pronoun his refers to Israel as a body, and may 
be rendered clearer by the use of the plural their. Several of the 
terms here used are borrowed from the Mosaic narrative. See 
Ex. xvi. 13 Num. xi. 31. 

29. And they ate and were sated exceedingly, and (thus) their 
desire he brings to them. The first clause is an amplification of 
the phrase to the full in v. 25 above. Compare the history in 
Num. xi. 18 — 20. Their desire, i. e. the object of it, that which 
they had longed for. 

30. They were not (yet) estranged from their desire ; still 
(was) their food in their mouth. This is merely the protasis or 
conditional clause of the sentence completed in the next verse. 
The first clause does not mean that the food had not begun to 
pall upon their appetite, but, as the other clause explains it, that 
it was still in their possession, in their very mouths, when Grod 
smote them. Compare Num. xi. 33. 

31. And the wrath of God came up among them (or against 
them), and slew among their fat ones, and the chosen (youths) of 
Israel brought low. The form of expression in the first clause is 
the same as in v. 21 above. Among their fat ones, i. e. killed 
some or many of them. The parallel term, according to its ety- 
mology, means picked or chosen men, but in usage is applied to 
young men in their full strength and the flower of their ag3, and 
therefore fit for military service. Thus the youngest and strongest 
are described as unable to resist the exhibition of God's wrath 
against his people. 

32. For all this they sinned still, and believed not for his won- 
ders. Notwithstanding all these favours and extraordinary inter 
positions, the generation that came out of Egypt still persisted in 


their evil courses. The last clause does not charge them with 
denying the reality of the wonders which they witnessed, but with 
refusing to trust God on the strength of them. This appears 
from the history itself, Num. xiv. 11, to which there is obvious 

33. And (therefore) he wasted in vanity their days and their 
years in terror. As the preceding verse relates to the refusal of 
the people to go up against the Canaanites in the first year of the 
exodus, so this relates to the forty years of error in the wilder- 
ness, by which that refusal was at once indulged and punished. 
The fruitless monotony of their existence during this long period, 
and then constant apprehension of some outbreak of divine wrath, 
are expressed here by the words translated vanity and terror. 
The meaning of the verb is that he suffered or caused their years 
to be thus unprofitably and miserably spent. Compare Ps. lxxiii. 

34. If he slew them, then they sought him, and returned and 
inquired early after God. Whenever, during this long interval, 
he punished them with more than usual severity, a temporary and 
apparent reformation was the immediate consequence. The verb 
in the last clause denotes eager and importunate solicitation. See 
above, on Ps. xliii. 2 (1.) 

35. And remembered that God (teas) their Rock, and the 
Mighty, the Most High, their Redeemer. It was only at these 
times of peculiar suffering that the people, as a body, called to 
mind their national relation to Jehovah, as their founder, their 
protector, and their refuge. See above, on Ps. xviii. 3 (2), and 
compare Deut. xxxii. 4, 15, 18, 31. 

36. And (yet) they deceived him with their mouth, and with 
their tongue they lie to him. Even these apparent reformations 



only led to hypocritical professions. The verb in the first clause 
does not describe the effect but the intention. It may therefore 
be translated flattered, although this is not the strict sense of the 
Hebrew word. 

37. And their heart teas not fixed (or constant) with him, and 
they were not true to (or faithful in) his covenant. Their obedience 
was capricious and imperfect, and proceeded from no settled prin- 
ciple or genuine devotion to his service. They were false to the 
very end for which they existed as a nation. For the meaning of 
a fixed or settled heart, see above, on Ps. h. 12 (10), and com- 
pare Ps. lvii. 8 (7.) 

38. And he, the Merciful, forgives iniquity, and does not (ut- 
terly) destroy ; and he often withdrew his anger, and would not 
arouse all his ivrath. The first clause relates rather to God's at- 
tributes, or to his method of proceeding in the general, than to 
his proceeding in this particular case, which is not brought for- 
ward till the last clause. There is obvious allusion to the de- 
scription of God's mercy in Ex. xxxiv. 6, 7. Forgives is a very 
inadequate translation of the Hebrew word, which necessarily 
suggests the idea of expiation as the ground of pardon. Often 
withdrew, literally, multiplied to withdraw his wrath, or cause it 
to return without accomplishing its object. 

39. And he remembered that they (were hut) flesh, a breath de- 
parting and returning not. Here as elsewhere the frailty and 
infirmity of man is assigned as a ground of the divine forbearance. 
Compare Ps. ciii. 14 — 16. Flesh, a common scriptural expres- 
sion for humanity or human nature, as distinguished from superior 
beings, and especially from God. See above, on Ps. lvi. 5 (4), 
and compare Gen. vi. 3. Isai. xxxi. 3. The idea of fragility and 
brief duration is expressed still more strongly by the exquisite 
figure in the last clause. The melancholy thought with which it 


closes is rendered still more emphatic in Hebrew by the position 
of the verb and the irregular construction of the sentence, a breath 
going and it shall not return. 

40. How oft do they resist him in the wilderness (and) grieve 
him in the desert ! Many particular occurrences are summed up 
in this pregnant exclamation. The future form of the verbs 
seems to have reference to the ideal situation of the writer, look- 
ins; forward in imagination to the error as still future, and saying 
as Moses might have said, if gifted with prophetic foresight of the 
sins cf Israel, Notwithstanding all these favours and these high 
professions, how oft will they resist his authority and rouse his 
wrath ! 

41. And they turned and tempted God, and {on) the Holy One 
of Israel set a mark. Having described the conduct of the first 
generation in the wilderness, the Psalmist now proceeds to show 
that the younger generation, after the death of Joshua (Josh, 
xxiv. 31), were like their fathers (v. 57 below.) The first verb 
may either have the independent meaning turned away or turned 
back from his service, or qualify the next verb by denoting repe- 
tition of the action ; and they tempted again, or still tempted. 
They tempted God by doubting his supremacy, and practically 
challenging him to the proof of it. See above, on v. 19. The 
last word in Hebrew is of doubtful meaning. Some explain it, by 
a Syriac analogy, and on the authority of the ancient versions, to 
mean provoked or grieved. In the only other place where the 
Hebrew word occurs (Ez. ix. 4) it means to set a mark upon a 
person, which some apply here, in the figurative sense of stigma- 
tizing or insulting. A cognate verb is used by Moses (Num. xxxiv. 
7, S) to denote the act of laying off or marking out a boundary, 
which is probably the origin of ths common version, limited, i. e. 
prescribed bounds to the power of Jehovah in their unbelief, 

ly One of Israel, see above, on Ps. lxxi. 22. 

204 PSALIv] LXXV111. 

42. They remembered not his hand, the day that he redeemed 
them from distress {or from the enemy.) The Psalmist still con- 
founds or identifies the several generations as one aggregate or 
national person. The younger race remembered not the mirac 
ulous favours experienced by their predecessors. His hand, the 
exertion of his power, a favourite Mosaic figure. S^e particu- 
larly Ex. vii. 5. xiii. 9. Deut. vii. 8. The last clause admits of 
two constructions. The day may be in apposition with his hand, 
and a collateral object to the verb, as in the common version ; or 
it may be an adverbial expression qualifying what precedes. ' They 
remembered not how his power was exerted in the day that he 
redeemed them from the enemy.' The essential meaning is the 
same in either case. 

43. (lie) icho set in Egypt his signs and. his wonders in the 
field of Zoan. The miraculous interpositions at the exodus were 
signs of God's presence and immediate agency. To set these 
was to hold them up to view. See above, on Ps. lxxiv. 4. The 
description of Egypt in the last clause is repeated from v. 12 

44. And homed to blood their rivers, and their streams they can 
not drink. The general statement of the preceding verse is 
rendered more specific by the mention of several of the plagues 
in detail, beginning with the first. See Ex. vii. 18 — 20. The 
word translated rivers is the plural of one commonly applied to 
the Nile, and supposed to be of Egyptian origin. It may here 
be understood as denoting either the natural branches of the Nile 
or the artificial channels by which its waters arc employed in the 
irrigation of the country. In the last clause, by a very common 
trope, the writer speaks as he might have spoken at the time of 
the event. 

45. Tie sends among them (or agaznsi them) flies and they de> 



vour them, and frogs and they destroy them. Two of the other 
plagues are here added, from the narrative in Exodus eh. viii. 
The first noun in Hebrew was explained by the ancient writers as 
denoting a mixture of noxious animals ; but the best interpreters 
are now agreed that it means the Egyptian dog-fly, which Philo 
represents as feeding upon flesh and blood. 

46. And he gave (up) to the caterpillar their produce, and their 
labour to the locust. Both the animal names in this verse are 
really designations of the locust, one meaning the devourer, and 
the other denoting the vast numbers of that insect. Their labour 
i. e. its effect or fruit. Compare the narrative in Ex. x. 12 — 19 


47. He kills with hail their vine and their sycamores with frost. 
The destruction of the vines is not mentioned in the history (Ex. 
ix. 23 — 32), though it is in Ps. cv. 33. It has even been de- 
nied that the culture of the vine was known in ancient Egypt ; 
but the fact has been fully established by modern investigation 
and discovery. The last word of the sentence occurs nowhere 
else. Some of the moderns explain it, from an Arabic analogy, to 
mean an ant ; but the parallelism favours the usual interpreta- 
tion which is derived from the ancient versions. 

48. And delivered their cattle to the hail and their herds to the 
fames. The Hebrew verb strictly means shut up, and occurs 
elsewhere in the combination to shut up in the hand, i. e. abandon 
to the power, of another. See above, on Ps. xxxi. 9 (8), and 
compare 1 Sam. xxiii. 11. Here, as in Deut. xxxii. 30, the verb 
is used absolutely in the sense of the whole phrase. The word 
translated flames occurs above in Ps. lxxvi. 4 (3), and is here a 
poetical description of the lightning. The common version (hot 
thunderbolts) is striking and poetical, but perhaps too strong. 
This verse does not relate to a distinct plague, but to the effects 


of the hail-storm upon animals, as its effect upon plants was de- 
scribed in the preceding verse. 

49. He sends upon them, the heat of his anger, wrath and indig- 
nation and anguish, a mission of angels of evil. Before men- 
tioning the last and greatest plague of all, he accumulates expres- 
sions to describe it as the effect of the divine displeasure. The 
slaughter of the first-born is ascribed in the history itself to a 
destroyer or destroying angel (Ex. xii. 23. Heb. xi. 2S), which 
may be a collective as it seems to be in 1 Sam. xiii. 17, or 
denote the commander of a destroying host (Josh. v. 15,) here 
called a mission or commission of angels. The destroying angel 
reappears in the history of David (2 Sam. xxiv. 16) and of Heze- 
kiah (2 Kings xix. 35.) The original construction in the case 
before us is peculiar, angels of evil (ones. ) This cannot mean 
evil angels, in the sense of fallen spirits, who are not described in 
the Old Testament as the executioners of God's decrees. The 
best explanation is perhaps to take the plural evils in an abstract 
sense, angels of evil, not moral but physical, i. e. authors of suf- 
fering or destruction. 

50. He levels a path for his anger; and he did not withhold from 
death their soul, and their life to the plague gave up. For the 
meaning of the first verb, see above, on Ps. lviii. 3 (2.) The 
meaning of the figure seems to be, that he removes all hinderance 
to his anger and allows it free scope. Not content with having 
smitten their possessions and their persons, he now extends his 
stroke to their lives. The word translated life more usually 
means an animal or animals collectively. Sec above, on Ps. 
Ixviii. 11, 31 (10, 30.) lxxiv. 19. If we retain this meaning here, 
the verse may be referred to the death of the Egyptian cattle by 
the murrain (Ex. ix. 1 — 7.) But the parallelism and the con- 
text rather favour the translation life, and the reference of tho 
passage to the death of the first-born, which was probably oc- 

PSALM LXXVlll. 207 

casioned by a pestilence (Ex. ix. 15) and is expressly mentioned 
in the next verse. 

51. And smote all the first-born in Egypt, the first-fruits of 
strength in the tents of Ham. Compare the narrative in Ex 
xii. 29, 30. The poetical description of the first-horn in the last 
clause is derived from Gen. xlix. 3 (compare Deut. xxi. 17), and 
that of Egypt from Gen. x. 6. 

52. And brought out, like sheep, his people, and led them, like 
a flock, in the wilderness. For the precise meaning of the first 
verb, see above, on v. 26, and compare Ex. xii. 37. xv. 22. The 
guidance in the wilderness includes that on both sides of the Red 
Sea, as appears from Ex. xii. 37. 

53. And guided them in safety", and they did not fear, and their 
enemies the sea covered. They did not fear, because he removed 
all ground of apprehension. This was especially the case at the 
passage of the Red Sea, Ex. xv. 19, to which there is clearly a 
particular allusion. 

54. And brought them to his holy border, this mountain (which) 
his right hand won. The bound or border of his holiness, the 
frontier of the land which he had set apart as holy. This moun- 
tain may, agreeably to Hebrew usage, mean this, as 
it does in Deut. iii. 25. But there is no doubt a particular re- 
ference to Mount Zion, in the wide sense, as the central point of 
the theocracy, designated as such long before the conquest of 
Canaan. See Gen. xxii. 14, and compare Ex. xv. 13, 17. His 
right hand, the exertion of his strength. Won, purchased, not 
in the restricted modern sense of buying, but in the old and wide 
sense of acquiring. 

55. And drove out before them nations, and assigned them by 


measure (as) a heritage, and caused to dwell in their tents trie 
tribes of Israel. Before them, literally, from their face or presence. 
Nations, whole nations, not mere armies, much less individuals. 
Assigned them, literally, made them fall, by lot or otherwise, a 
common expression for the distribution and allotment of the h.o.d. 
See Num. xxxiv. 2. The pronoun [them) refers to the nations, 
put for their possessions, and especially their territory. The word 
translated measure means primarily a measuring line, but then the 
portion of land measured. Hence we may also read, assigned 
them as (or for) a hereditary portion. In the last clause, their 
tents means of course those of the Canaanites, not of the Israelites 
themselves, which would make the clause unmeaning. 

56. And they tempted and resisted God, Most High, and his 
testimonies did not keep. Having brought down the narrative of 
God's dealings with the older race to the conquest of Canaan, the 
Psalmist now resumes his charge (against the following generations) 
of being no better than their fathers. To tempt God and resist 
him, or rebel against him, has the same sense as in vs. 18, 40. The 
divine title (yhb?) suggests that their rebellion was against the 
highest and the most legitimate of all authority. His testimonies 
against sin, contained in his commandments : hence the use of the 
verb keep. The form of expression, in both clauses of this verse, 
is borrowed from Deut. vi. 16, 17. 

57. And revolted and dealt falsely like their fathers ; they ivere 
turned like a deceitful bow. He here resumes the thread dropped 
at v. 8, for the purpose of relating what their fathers did and were, 
i. e. the older generation who came out of Egypt. Having shown 
this at great length, he now reiterates the charge that their de- 
scendants, after the days of Joshua, were no better, and proceeds 
to prove it. The first clause describes them both as rebels and 
traitors. They were turned, i. e., as some suppose, turned aside, 
swerved or twisted in the archer's hand, so as to give a wrong di- 


rcction to tho arrow. Others understand it to mean, they were 
converted (or became) like a deceitful bow, i. e. one which deceives 
the expectation, and fails to accomplish the design for which it is 
employed. By a similar trope, falsehood or lying is ascribed to 
waters which are not perennial, but fail precisely when most 
needed. See Isai. lviii. 11. Job vi. 15. The figure of a deceitful 
bow is borrowed from this passage by Hosea (vii. 16.) 

58. And made him angry with their heights, and with their idols 
made him jealous. Here, for the first time, idolatry is mentioned 
as the great national sin of Israel after the death of Joshua and 
the contemporary elders. This sin is intimately connected with 
the one described in v. 9, since the failure to exterminate the 
Canaanites and gain complete possession of the country, with its 
necessary consequence, the continued residence of gross idolaters 
in the midst of Israel, could not fail to expose the chosen people 
to perpetual temptation, and afford occasion to their worst defec- 
tions. In the last clause, graven images are put for the whole 
class of idols or created gods, of whom the true God must be 
jealous as his rivals, as well as indignant at the heights or high- 
places, the hill-tops where these false gods were most usually 
worshipped. The whole form of expression is Mosaic. See Deut. 
xxxii. 16, 21, and compare Ex. xx. 5. 

59. God heard and was indignant, and rejected Israel exceed- 
ingly. The same sin is followed by the same retribution as in v. 
21. Abhorred is an inadequate translation of the last verb, 
which denotes not merely an internal feeling, but the outward 
exhibition of it. It means not merely to abhor, but to reject with 
abhorrence. See above, on Ps. xv. 4. The addition of the in- 
tensive adverb, very or exceedingly, serves at the same time to 
enhance and to restrict the meaning of the verb which it qualifies. 
He abhorred them, not a little but exceedingly, and as a to'ien of his 
doing so, rejected them, exceedingly, yet not utterly or altogether 


As there is nothing to restrict the application of this statement, 
we must understand it in its widest sense, as meaning that the 
whole people was regarded with displeasure, and punished on ac- 
count of its transgressions during the ascendancy of Ephraim. 

60. And forsook the dwelling-place of Shilo, the tent (which) 
he caused to die ell among men. The punishment of Ephraim, not 
as the sole offender, but as the unfaithful leader of the chosen 
people, consisted in the transfer of the sanctuary, and the mani- 
fested presence of God in it, to the tribe which was intended from 
the first to have that honour (Gen. xlix. 10), but whose rights 
had been held in abeyance during the experimental chieftainship 
of Ephraim. The ark, after it was taken by the Philistines (1 
Sam. iv. 17), never returned to Shiloh, but was deposited suc- 
cessively at Nob (1 Sam. xxi. 2) and at Gibeon (1 Kings iii. 4), 
until David pitched a tabernacle for it on Mount Zion (2 Chron. 
xv. 1.) See above, on Ps. xxiv. 1. Caused to dwell is an ex- 
pression used in the very same connection in the history. See 
Josh, xviii. 1, and compare Deut. xii. 11, where the sanctuary is 
described as the place in which God caused his name to dwell 
Among men implies that this was his only earthly residence, and 
hints at the true meaning of the sanctuary, as propounded in the 
Law (Ex. xxv. 8.) 

61. And gave up to captivity Ms strength, and his beauty into 
the foemanh hand. This is a still more distinct allusion to the 
capture of the ark by the Philistines (1 Sam. iv. 17.) The pro- 
nouns admit of two constructions, as they may be referred either 
to God or Israel. In the former case, the ark is called his strength, 
because it was the symbol of his saving presence and a pledge 
for the exertion of his power to protect and save his people. It 
is called his beauty or honour, as it marked the place where God 
was pleased to manifest his glory. At the same time it was Is- 
rael's strength , because it was considered as ensuring the divine 


protection (1 Sam. iv. 3), and his glory, because the possession 
of this symbol was his highest honour (1 Sam. iv. 21.) 13oth 
these senses are so perfectly appropriate, that it is not easy to 
choose either, to the entire exclusion of the other. 

62. And abandoned to the sword his people, and at his heritage 
was wroth. For the meaning of the first verb, see above on v. 
48, and for that of the second, on v. 21. To the sword, to de- 
feat and destruction in war, with particular reference to 1 Sam. 
iv. 10. The severity of these judgments* is enhanced by their 
having been inflicted on his people and his heritage. 

63. His youths (or chosen ones) the fire devoured, and his maid- 
ens were not praised. This may either mean that they attracted 
no attention on account of public troubles, or that they were not 
praised in nuptial songs, implying what is expressed in the text of 
the English Bible, to wit, that they were not given to marriage. 
The fire may be a figure for destructive war, as in Num. xxi. 28. 
The pronoun (his) refers to Israel as a whole or an ideal person. 

64. His priests by the sword fell, and his widows weep not. The 
priests are particularly mentioned because, at the time specially 
referred to, the chief magistracy was vested in a sacerdotal family, 
and because Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli, were among the 
first victims of the great calamity in question. See 1 Sam. iv. 
11, 17. In the last clause there seems to be allusion to the death 
of Phinehas' wife, whose sorrow for her husband and herself was 
lost in sorrow for the departing glory of Israel (1 Sam. iv. 21.) 
In a wider sense, the words may represent the whole class of Is- 
raelitish widows as not weeping for their husbands, either because 
they were engrossed by their own perils and personal sufferings, 
or, as some interpreters suppose, because the bodies of the slain 
were absent, and there could not therefore be a formal mourning 


accordance with the oriental usage. The last words of this verse 
are copied in Job xxvii. 15. 

65. Then awoke, as a sleeper, the Lord, as a hero rejoicing from 
wine. His apparent connivance or indifference to what was pass- 
ing was abruptly exchanged for new and terrible activity. Th» 
Lord, the sole and rightful sovereign, both of men in general a: c, 
of Israel in particular. A hero, mighty man, or warrior. Soa 
above, on Ps. xiv. 8. From wine is not to be construed with 
awoke or awakes understood, but with rejoicing, exhilarated, 
cheered by wine. 

66. And he struck his foes hack (and) disgrace of eternity gave 
them. The idea of driving his assailants back, repelling or re- 
pulsing them, is worthier in itself and better suited to the context 
than the one expressed in the English Bible. Perpetual dis- 
honour was in fact the doom of the Philistines from the time of 
the events in question. The successes particularly meant are 
those of Saul and David. Gave them, or to them, as their portion 

67. And rejected the tent of Joseph, and the tribe of Ephraim 
did not choose. This is the completion and specification of the 
statement in v. 60. Even after the punishment of Israel, as a 
whole, had ceased, Ephraim, though still a member of the chosen 
people, was deprived of the ascendancy, of which he had proved 
himself unworthy, and by means of which he had betrayed the 
whole race into grievous sin. The tent or house of Joseph (the 
progenitor of Ephraim) is particularly mentioned, because the 
honour taken from that family was the honour of God's dwelling 
in the midst of them. The last clause mia'ht be rendered, and 
the tribe of Ephraim no (longer) chose. But the original contains 
a simple negative without qualification ; and according to the 
scriptural account, Ephraim never was the chosen tribe, but only 
allowed to act as such, for a particular purpose, just as the experi- 


mental reign of Saul afterwards preceded the commencement of 
the true theocratical monarchy in David. 

68. And chose the tribe of Judah, the Mount Zion which he 
loved. He now assigned the visible pre-eminence to Judah, who 
had long enjoyed it in the divine purpose (Gen. xlix. 10.) Zion 
is mentioned as the capital of Judah, the place of the sanctuary, 
and the seat of the theocratic monarchy. The name, as usual in 
this "hook, does not signify the single eminence so called, but the 
entire height on which Jerusalem was built. 

69. And built like high (places) his sanctuary, like the earth 
(which) he founded forever. Some give the adjective in the 
first clause the abstract sense of heights, which it never has in 
usage. Others supply heavens, but the construction most agree- 
able to usage is that which supplies hills or mountains. The 
sanctuary is then described as being, not externally but spiritual- 
ly, lofty as mountains and enduring as the earth. 

70. And chose David (as) his servant, and took him from the 
sheep-folds. Having spoken of the tribe and the particular lo- 
cality preferred to Ephraim and Shiloh, he now brings into view 
the personal instrument or agent, by whom it pleased God that 
the theocratic kingdom should be founded. He did not choose 
David because he was his servant, i. e. a good man, but to be his 
servant, in the same pregnant and emphatic sense in which the 
title is applied to him in Ps. xviii. 1. The sovereignty of the 
choice is indicated by the humble occupation and condition from 
which he was promoted. 

71. From behind the suckling (eives) he brought him, to feed Jacob 
lis people and Israel his heritage. From behind them, i. e. from 
following and watching them with tender care, one of the chief 
duties of a shepherd. The next word in Hebrew is a participle, 


and means, nursing, giving suck. The sense is incorrectly given 
in the common version of this place, and ambiguously in that of 
Isai xl. 11. To feed expresses only one part of the meaning of 
the Hebrew verb, which signifies to do the work or exercise the 
office of a shepherd. See above, on Ps. xlix. 14 (13.) The 
contrast presented is, that he who had spent his youth in tending 
sheep was now to be the shepherd of a nation, nay of the chosen 
people, of the church, the heritage of God himself. To this pas- 
sage, and those portions of the history on which it is founded 
(2 Sam. vii. 8. 1 Chron. xi. 2), may be traced the constant use 
of pastoral images, in the later Scriptures, to express the relation 
which subsists between the Church and Christ, as its Chief Shep- 
herd, and his faithful ministers as his representatives and 

72. And he has fed them after his integrity of heart, and in t/ie 
skill {oy prudence) of his hands will lead them (still.) This is no 
sudden interruption of the psalm, but the conclusion to which all 
was tending from the first. At the same time it implies that when 
the psalm was written David was still reigning and expected to 
reign longer. Besides the divine attestation here afforded to his 
theocratical fidelity, the verse may be regarded as a beautiful 
tribute to the good and great King from his chief musician and 
fellow seer. To lead, in the last clause, is to lead or tend a flock, 
and, with the parallel tovm feed, makes up the full description of a 



This psaliu belongs to the same period with Ps. lxxiv, perhaps 
that of the Babylonish conquest, and contains a description of the 
sufferings of the chosen people, vs. 1 — 4, a prayer for deliverance, 
vs. 5 — 12, and a promise of thanksgiving, v. 13. 

1. .A Psalm. By Asaph. Oh God, gentiles have come into thy 
heritage ; they have defiled thy holy temple ; they have turned Je- 
rusalem to heaps. The intrusion of heathen into the sanctuary 
was its worst dishonour. They have placed Jerusalem for heaps, 
or as a heap of ruins. This includes the destruction of the tem- 
ple. Compare Ps. lxxiv. 4. 

2. They have given the corpse of thy servants (as) food to the 
bird of the heavens, the flesh of thy saints to the (wild) least of the 
earth. A common description of extensive and promiscuous car- 
nage. The words translated corpse, bird, beast, are all collec- 
tives. The last has here its most specific and distinctive sense as 
denoting beasts of prey. See above, on Ps. lxviii. 11 (10.) 
lxxiv. 19. 

3. They have shed their blood like water round about Jerusalem, 
and there is none burying, or none to bury them. There is no 
period in the history of ancient Israel, to which these terms can 


be applied without extravagance, except that of the Babylonian 

4. We have been for become) a contempt to our neighbours, a 
scorn and derision to those round about us. See above, on Ps. 
xliv. 14 (13), where the very same expressions are employed. 

5. Unto what (point), until when, how long, Jehovah, wilt tJwib 
be angry forever, will burn like fire thy zeal (or jealousy ?) 
With the first clause compare Ps. xiii. 2(1.) lxxiv. 1, 10 ; with, 
the second, Ex. xx. 5. Deut. xxix. 19 (20.) Ps. lxxviii. 58. 

6. Pour out thy wrath against the nations which have not known 
thee, and upon kingdoms which thy name have not invoked. This 
is commonly explained as a prayer for divine judgments on the 
nations which combined for the destruction of Judah (2 Kings 
xxiv. 2). But it seems to be rather an expostulation and com- 
plaint that God had made no difference between his own people and 
the heathen. As if he had said, If thou must pour out thy wrath, 
let it rather be on those who neither know nor worship thee than 
on thine own peculiar people. 

7. For he hath devoured Jacob, and his dwelling (or his pasture- 
ground) they have laid waste. The singular verb in the first 
clause relates to the chief enemy, the plural in the last to his con- 
federates. The wide sense of dwelling and the narrower one of 
pasture are both authorized by usage. See above, on Ps. xxiii. 
2. lxv. 13 (12.) lxxiv. 20. 

8. Remember not against us the iniquities of former (genera- 
tions) ; make haste, let thy compassions meet us, for we are reduced 
exceedingly. Against us, literally, as to us, respecting us, which, 
in this connection, must mean to our disadvantage or our condem- 
nation. Former iniquities is scarcely a grammatical construction 


of the Hebrew words usually so translated. The adjective, when 
absolutely used, always refers to persons and means ancestors or 
ancients. Personal and hereditary guilt are not exclusive but 
augmentative of one another. The sons merely fill up the ini- 
quities of their fathers. The verb hasten (liifa) may be either 
imperative or infinitive. If the latter, it qualifies the following 
verb, as in the English version, let thy tender mercies speedily 
prevent us. For the meaning of this last verb, see above, on Ps. 
xxi. 4 (3.) Reduced, weakened, brought low, both in strength 
and condition. See above, on Ps. xl. 2 (1), where the cognate 
adjective is used. It was probably the verse before us that de- 
termined the position of this psalm, in close connection with Ps 
lxxviii, the great theme of which is the iniquity of former gener- 

9. Help us, oh God of our salvation, on account of the glory of 
thy name ; and set us free and pardon our sins for the sake of thy 
(own) name. The title, God. of our salvation, is expressive of a 
covenant obligation to protect his people, as well as of protection 
and deliverance experienced already. On account, literally, for 
the word, or as we say in English for the sake, which is used 
above, however, to translate a different Hebrew word. The 
glory of thy name, to maintain and vindicate the honour of thy 
attributes as heretofore revealed in act. See above, on Ps. v. 
12 (11.) xxiii. 3. Set us free, deliver us, from our present suf- 
ferings and the power of our enemies. Pardon our sins, liter- 
ally, make atonement for them, i. e. forgive them for the sake 
of the expiation which thou hast thyself provided. See above, on 
Ps. lxxviii. 38. It is characteristic of the ancient saints to ask 
God's favour, not for their own sake merely, but for the promo- 
tion of his glory. 

10. Wherefore should the nations say , Where (is) their God? 
Known among the nations, in our sight, be the avenging of tha 

vol. i 10 



Uood of thy servants, the (blood) poured out (or shed), as was de- 
scribed above, in v. 3. This aro-ument in favour of God's inter- 
position, founded on the false conclusions which his enemies 
would draw from his refusal, is of frequent occurrence in the 
Pentateuch. See Ex. xxxii. 12. Num. xiv. 13 — 16. Deut. ix. 2S, 
and compare Joel ii. 17, from which the words before us are 
directly borrowed. Where is their God, the invisible, spiritual 
being whom thej worship, but who cannot save them from ex- 
ternal dangers ? Or the meaning may be, where is the proof of 
that almighty power, and that love for his own people, of which they 
have so often and so loudly boasted ? The English Bible makes 
the verb in the second clause agree with God (let him be knoivn), 
and supplies a preposition before vengeance (by the revenging.) 
But the ancient versions, followed by the Prayer Book and the 
best modern interpreters, construe the verb and noun together 
(known be the avenging.) The diversity of gender may be easily 
reduced to the general law of Hebrew syntax, that when the 
verb precedes its subject, and especially when separated from it, 
the former may assume the masculine form, not as such, but as 
a :r primitive and simplest form. In our sight, literally, to our 
eyes, just as we say in English to our faces. This aggravating 
circumstance is borrowed from Deut. vi. 22, and the idea of 
avenging blood from Deut. xxxii. 43. 

11. Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee, according to 
the greatness of thine arm, suffer to survive the sons of death (or 
of mortality.) The nation is here viewed as an individual captive, 
not without reference to the literal captivity and exile occasioned 
by the Babylonian conquest, and with evident historical allusion to 
the bondage of Israel in Egypt, from the account of which (Ex. 
ii. 23 — 25) some of the expressions here are borrowed. Comt 
before thee, reach thee, and attract thy notice. Compare the op- 
posite expression in Isai. i. 23. The arm,&s usual, is the symbol 
of exerted strength. See above, on Ps. x. 15. xxxvii. 17. xliv 


4 (3.) The whole phrase is a Mosaic one. See Ex. xv. 16,' 
and compare Num. xiv. 19. Deut. iii. 24. The last verb in the 
sentence means to leave behind or over, to cause or suffer to re- 
main. See Ex. x. 15. xii. 10. Isai. i. 9. The last noun in He- 
brew occurs only here, but is an obvious derivative from (mto) 
death, bearing perhaps the same relation to it that mortalitas sus- 
tains to mors. According to a well known oriental idiom, the 
whole phrase denotes dying men, or those about to die, or more 
specifically, those condemned or doomed to death. 

12. And render to our neighbours sevenfold into their bosom 
their contempt (with) which they have contemned thee, Lord! The 
first verb is a causative and means to bring- back or cause to re- 
turn. See above, on Ps. lxxii. 10. The neighbours are those 
mentioned in v. 4, and the allusion here at least includes the ex- 
pression of contemptuous incredulity in v. 10. Sevenfold, a 
common idiomatic term denoting frequent repetition or abundance. 
Se-e above, on Ps. xii. 7 (6.) Into the bosom, an expression which 
originally seems to have had reference to the practice of carrying 
and holding things in the lap or the front fold of the flowing 
oriental dress, has in usage the accessory sense of retribution or 
retaliation. See my note on Isai. lxv. 6, 7, and compare Jer. 
xxxii. 18. Luke vi. 38. The cognate noun and verb, translated 
contempt and contemned, denote not the mere internal feeling, but 
the oral expression of it by revilings, scoffs, and insults. See 
above, on Ps. xlii. 11 (10.) lxix. 10 (9.) The Lord at the con- 
clusion is by no means a mere expletive, but aggravates the sin 
of these despisers by describing it as committed against their right- 
ful sovereign. 

13. And we, thy people and flock of thy pasture, will give thanks 
to thee forever, to generation and generation will we recount thy 
praise. Some interpreters needlessly make two distinct proposi- 
tions, we (are) thy people (and therefore) will give thanks, etc 


The flock of thy pasture, that which thou feedest, that of which 
thou art the shepherd. See above, on Ps. lxxiv. 1 . lxxviii. 70 — 72. 
Forever, literally, to eternity. The following words, though 
thrown into the first clause by the masoretic interpunction, belong 
to the second, as appears from the parallel structure of the sen- 


This psalm was probably occasioned by the overthrow and 
deportation of the ten tribes, and expresses the feelings of the 
ancient church in view of that event. Besides a title or inscrip- 
tion, v. 1, it contains a lamentation or complaint, in reference to 
the strokes which had befallen Israel, vs. 2 — 8 (1 — 7) ; an exqui- 
site picture of the vocation and original condition of the chosen 
race, under the image of a transplanted vine, vs. 9 — 14 (8 — 13) ; 
and an earnest prayer that God would again have mercy on his 
afflicted people, vs. 15—20 (14—19.) The structure of &s 
psalm is very regular, deriving a strophical character from the 
recurrence of a burden or refrain in vs. 4 (3), 8 (7), 20 (19.) 
The disputed questions, as to the occasion and design of the com- 
position, will be considered in the exposition of the several verses. 

1. To the Chief Musician. As to lilies. • A Testimony. By 
Asaph. A Psalm. The first and last of these inscriptions show 
that the composition was intended to be used in public worship 
The preposition before lilies indicates the theme or subject, as in 
Ps. v. 1. Lilies, as in Ps. xlv. 1. lx. 1. Ixix. 1, probably means 
loveliness, delightfulness, as an attribute of the divine favour 


which is here implored. Testimony is a term commonly applied 
to the divine law, as a testimony against sin, and in such cases as 
the present indicates the divine authority under which the Psalmist 
writes. See above, on Ps. lx. 1. 

2. Shepherd of Israel, give ear, leading Joseph like a flock, 
sitting (on) the cherubim, shine forth ! The description of Je- 
hovah as the Shepherd of Israel is peculiarly appropriate in this 
connection because borrowed from Jacob's blessing upon Joseph, 
Gen. xlviii. 15. xlix. 24. According to some interpreters, Joseph 
is simply a poetical equivalent to Israel, the son being put upon 
a level with the father in the usage of the language, on account 
of his historical pre-eminence and his being the progenitor of two 
of the twelve tribes. According to another view, Joseph denotes 
the ten tribes as distinguished from the kins-dom of Judah, which 
is rendered more probable by the specification of certain tribes 
in the next verse. On this hypothesis, the verse before us is an 
invocation of Jehovah, as the patron and protector, not of Judah 
merely but of all Israel, including the posterity of Joseph and the 
tribes politically allied to them. Dwelling (between) the Chcru- 
bim y or sitting (enthroned upon) the Cherubim, a token of supe- 
riority to all his creatures. See above, on Ps. xviii. 11 (10.) 

3 (2.) Before Ephraim, and Benjamin and Manasseh arouse 
thy strength and come to save us. The first clause alludes to the 
encampment and march through the wilderness, in which these 
three tribes always went together, as the descendants of one ' 
mother (Gen. xliv. 20. Num. ii. 18—24. x. 22 — 24.) It has 
commonly been inferred from 1 Kings xii. 21, that the tribe of 
Benjamin adhered to the kingdom of Judah. But Hengstenberg 
has made it highly probable, at least, that those words relate only 
to the dwellers in Jerusalem and the immediately circumjacent 
country ; that the tribe, as such, was reckoned one of the ten 
tribes, among which Simeon was not included, because, in fulfil- 


tnent of Jacob's prophecy (Gen. xlix. 7), they had no distinct 
or compact territory of their own, but certain towns within the 
boundary of Judah (Josh. xix. 1 — 9.) Hence we are told ex- 
pressly and repeatedly that in the great schism after the death of 
Solomon, but one tribe remained faithful to the house of David 
(1 Kings xi. 13, 32, 36. xii. 20), i. e. one complete tribe, having 
a definite and independent share in the allotment of the land. 
That Benjamin should take part with Ephraim and Manasseh 
rather than with Judah, might have been expected from the near 
affinity and mutual affection of the sons of Rachel, and from the 
jealousy which must have been excited by the transfer of the 
crown from Saul, a Benjamite, to David, a Jew. The same thing 
incidentally appears from such passages as 2 Sam. xix. 21 (20), 
where Shimei, a Benjamite, speaks of himself as representing 
the whole house of Joseph. If this be admitted or assumed, 
the mention of Benjamin with Ephraim and Manasseh, in 
the verse before us, far from invalidating, seems to confirm the 
application of the passage to the kingdom of the Ten Tribes, and 
that of the whole psalm to their overthrow and deportation by the 
Assyrians. Thus understood, the verse before us is a prayer, that 
God would again march at the head of the u camp of Ephraim," 
as he did of old. Arouse thy strength, awake from thy present 
state of seeming inaction and indifference. See above, on Ps. 
xliv. 24 (23.) lxxviii. 65. Come, literally go, which may mean 
go forth, march ; but see above, on Ps. xlvi 9 (8.) To save us, 
literally, for salvation to us. 

4 (3.) Oh God, restore us, and let thy face shine; and let us he 
saved ! The verb in the first clause would suggest two ideas to 
a Hebrew reader, both of which are here appropriate. The first 
is that of a literal bringing back from exile or captivity ; the other 
that of restoration to a former state, without regard to change of 
place or other local circumstances. In the case before us, the 
general and figurative sense of restoration includes that of literal 


return. The church prays to be restored to her integrity and 
normal state, by the redemption of the part which had gone into 
captivity. This prayer was substantially fulfilled in the return 
of many members of the ten tribes with Judah from the Baby- 
lonish exile, while the tribes themselves, as organized bodies, and 
the apostate kingdom which they constituted, ceased to exist. 
The petition, cause, thy face to shine, i. e. look upon us with a 
favourable countenance, is borrowed from the sacerdotal blessing, 
Num. vi. 25. See above, on Ps. iv. 7 (6.) xxxi. 17 (16.) The 
last verb in the verse may also be explained as an expression of 
strong confidence, we shall be saved, which really involves the 
subjunctive sense preferred by some interpreters, that toe may be 
saved. This sentence, which is solemnly repeated at the close of 
vs. 4, 20 (3, 19), is thereby marked as the theme or key-note of 
the whole composition. 

5 (4.) Jehovah, God, (God of) Hosts, hoio long dost thou 
smoke against the prayer of thy people ? The accumulation of 
divine names involves an appeal to the perfections which they in- 
dicate, as so many arguments or reasons w r hy the prayer should 
be favourably heard and answered. See above, on Ps. 1. 1, and 
for the meaning of the third title, on Ps. xxiv. 10. How 
long, literally, until when ? The verb is preterite in form (hast 
thou, smoked,) implying that the state of things complained of had 
already long existed. Smoke is here (as in Ps. Ixxiv. 1) put for 
fire, the common emblem of divine wrath, for the sake of an 
allusion to the smoke from the altar of incense, the appointed 
symbol of the prayers of God's people. See Lev. xvi. 13, and 
compare Ps. cxli. 2. Isai. vi. 4. Rev. v. S. viii. 3, 4. There is 
then a tacit antithesis between the two significations of the sym- 
bol. The smoke of God's wrath, and that of his people's prayers, 
are presented in a kind of conflict. 


6(5.) Thou hast made them eat tear-bread, and made them 


drink of tears a tierce (or measure.) The noun tear in Hebrew 
is commonly collective, but the singular and plural forms are 
here combined. See above, on Ps. vi. 7 (6.) xxxix. 13 (12.) 
lvi. 9 (8.) The same strong figure of tears as nourishment oc- 
curs above, Ps. xlii. 4 (3.) The last word in Hebrew means a 
measure which is the third of another measure, thus correspond- 
ing to the old and wide sense of the English tierce. See my note 
on Isai. xl. 12. Measure here denotes abundance. 

7 (6.) Thou makcst us a strife unto our neighbour s, and our 
enemies amuse themselves (at our expense.) The future verbs im- 
ply a probable continuance of this humiliating treatment unless 
God interpose to put an end to it, and thus suggest a reason for 
his doing so. Makest us, literally, puttest, settest up. See 
above, on Ps. xliv. 14 (13.) A strife, a subject of contention, 
perhaps in reference to the emulous desire of their neighbours to 
insult and aggravate their sufferings. Here, as in Ps. xliv. 14 (13.) 
lxxix. 4, these neighbours are the circumjacent nations, who 
always triumphed in the time of Israel's calamities (Am. i. 9, 11 
Obad. 12.) The literal translation of the last words is will mock 
(or scoff) for them, i. e. for themselves, for their own gratifica- 
tion, and at their own discretion, as they will. 

8 (7.) Oh God, (God of) Hosts, restore us, and let thy face 
shine, and let us be saved ! See above, on v. 4 (3.) The only 
variation in the case before us is the addition of a second divine 
title, implying God's supremacy above the hosts of heaven, both 
material and spiritual, and thus indirectly urging a new argument 
for being heard and answered. See above, on v. 5 (4.) 

9 (8.) A vine out of Egypt thou transplanlest, thou drivest out 
nations and plantcst it. There is a twofold usage of the first verb 
in Hebrew, which imparts peculiar force and beauty to the sen- 
tence. Its primary meaning, to pluck up, is strictly appropriate 

• PSALM LXXX. 225 

to the act of transplanting, while its secondary but more usual 
sense of moving an encampment, marching, is equally appropri- 
ate to the removal of the nation which the vine here represents, 
and is actually so applied in Ps. lxxviii. 52 above, as well as in 
the history itself, Ex. xii. 37. xv. 22. The next verb is also used 
in Ps. lxxviii. 55 and Ex. xxiii. 28. xxxiii. 2. xxxiv. 11. The 
figure of planting occurs above, in Ps. xliv. 3 (2), that of a vine 
in Isai. v. 1 — 7. The points of comparison arc probably as- 
siduous culture, luxuriant growth, and fruitfulness. The argument 
involved is that by forsaking Israel God would be undoing his 
own work. Compare Jer. xlv. 4. 

10 (9.) Thou didst clear (the way) before it, and it took root 
and/died the land. The first word means to clear by the re- 
moval of obstructions. See Gen. xxiv. 31. Lev. xiv. 36, and 
compare my notes on Isai. xl. 3. lvii. 14. lxii. 10. The sense 
may here be, thou didst char (the ground), i. e. from weeds and 
stones (compare Isai. v. 2) before it, i. e. to make room for it or 
prepare a place for it. Took root, literally, rooted its roots, the 
cognate verb and noun being combined by a common Hebrew 
idiom. See my note on Isai. xxvii. 6. 

11 (10.) Covered were the mountains {with) its shadoio, and 
with its branches the cedars of God. This is an amplification and 
poetical exaggeration of the last words of v. 10 (9.) So com- 
pletely did it fill the land that its shadow was cast upon the 
highest hill-tops, and its tendrils overran the loftiest trees. 
Cedars of God, i. e. in their kind the noblest products of his 
power, the attribute suggested by (t^C) the divine name here 
used. See above, on Ps. xxxvi. 7 (6.) Some interpreters sup- 
pose the southern range of mountains west of Jordan, sometimes 
called Mount Judah or the Highlands of Judah, to be here 
specifically meant and contrasted with the cedars of Lebanon, the 
northern frontier of the Land of Promise, just as Lebanon and 
Kadesh are contrasted in Ps. xxix. 5 — S. That Lebanon, though 



not expressly mentioned, is referred to, appears probable from 
the analogy of Ps. xxix. 5. xcii. 13. civ. 16. The literal fact con- 
veyed by all these figures is the one prophetically stated in Gen. 
xxviii. 14. Deut. xi. 24. Jos. i. 4. 

12 (11.) It sends forth its boughs to the sea, and to the river its 
shoots (or suckers.) Compare the description in Isai. xvi. 8. If 
the north and south are indicated in the preceding verse, the 
other cardinal points may here be represented by the Mediter- 
ranean and the Euphrates. 

13 (12.) Why hast thou broken down its walls (or hedges) , and 
all pluck it that pass by the icay ? See below, on Ps. lxxxix. 
41, 42 (40, 41 ), and compare Isai. v. 5. The last words are de- 
scriptive of the hostile powers of the heathen world, with par- 
ticular reference to the neighbours of v. 6 (5.) 

14 (13.) T/ie boar out oj the wood doth waste it, and the beast of 
the field jeeds upon it. For the precise sense of the word trans- 
lated beast, see above, on Ps. 1. 11, the only other place where it 
occurs in such an application, being thus peculiar to the psalms 
which bear the name of Asaph. The essential idea conveyed by 
the figures of this verse is that of fierce and greedy enemies. If 
any more specific explanation be admissible, the wild boar may 
denote the Assyrian power, and the parallel term its allies and 
dependents. Feeds upon it, as a sheep upon its pasture. See 
above, on Ps. xxxvii. 3. 


15 (14.) Oh God, (God of) Hosts, pray return, look from 
heaven and sec, and visit this vine. The expostulation and com- 
plaint are followed by an earnest prayer. .Pray return is used 
to represent (a:) the Hebrew particle of entreaty, expressed in 
the English iJible by a circumlocution (we beseech thee.) The 
prayer that God will return, implies that the evils just complained 


of were occasioned by his absence. Visit, manifest thy presence 
and thy favourable disposition. See above, on Ps. viii. 5 (4.) 
This vine, Israel, the church or chosen people, which, though 
robbed of some of its luxuriant branches, still lives and is yet to 
bear abundant fruit. 

16 (15.) And sustain what thy right hand has planted, and over 
the child thou hast reared for thyself (do thou watch, or extend 
thy protection.) The common version of the first words (and the 
vineyard) is countenanced neither by the ancient versions nor by 
Hebrew etymology and usage. By giving it, as a verbal form, the 
sense of covering, protecting (which belongs to some kindred roots), 
the over in the last clause may depend upon it, and no verb need in 
ihat case be supplied. Thy right hand implies an exertion of 
strength, and at the same time involves an allusion to the name 
of Benjamin (Son of the Right Hand), here perhaps representing 
the whole race, on account of the connection of that tribe with 
both the rival kingdoms, its central position, its possession of the 
sanctuary, and its historical relation to the infant monarchy under 
Saul the Benjamite. To complete the allusion, the other 
element in the name (IS a son) is then introduced and metaphori- 
cally applied to the vine, which is still the Psalmist's theme, by 
an assimilation of animal and vegetable life common in all lan- 
guages. Reared, literally, strengthened, made strong, i. e. raised, 
brought up. See my note on Tsai. xliv. 14. For thyself, not for 
its own sake, but as a means of promoting the divine praise and 

17 (16.) (It is) burnt with fire, cut (down or up); at the 
rebuke of thy countenance they perish. The prayer is interrupted 
for a moment by a new description of the evils which occasioned 
it. The first clause alludes to the destruction of vineyards by fire 
and steel in ancient warfare, here recognized however as a divine 
judgment. At the rebuke, i. c. at the time, and also as a conse- 


quence of it. Any expression of disapprobation and displeasure, 
whether by word or deed, is a rebuke. See above, on Ps. lxxvi. 
7 (6.) The rebuke is here supposed to be expressed in the 
countenance, a much more natural interpretation than that which 
makes thy face mean thy 'presence. They perish, those who had 
before been represented by the vine transplanted out of Egypt. 
The future form implies that it will always be so, when God ut- 
ters his rebuke. 

18 (17.) Let thy hand be on the man of thy right hand, on the 
son of man thou hast reared (or made strong) for thyself. Here 
again the component parts of the name Benjamin are introduced 
as parallels, precisely as in v. 16 (15.) The man of thy right 
hand may either be the man whom thy power has raised up, or the 
man who occupies the post of honour at thy right hand. That 
"the words were intended to suggest both ideas, is a supposition 
perfectly agreeable to Hebrew usage. A more doubtful question 
is that in reference to the first words of the sentence, let thy hand 
be upon him, whether this means in favour or in wrath. The 
only way in which both senses can be reconciled is by applying 
the words to the Messiah, as the ground of the faith and hope 
expressed. Let thy hand fall not on us but on our substitute. 
Compare the remarkably similar expressions in Acts v. 31. 

19 (18.) And (then) we will not backslide from thee; thou 
wilt quicken us, and on thy name will we call. Forgiveness 
founded on atonement is the best security against relapses into sin. 
The first verb is the one used to describe the general apostasy in 
in Ps. liii. 4 (3.) Quicken, restore to life, or save alive, or simply 
ma^e alive. Compare Ps. lxxi. 20. The meaning of the last 
clause is, thee (alone) will we invoke, as the object of our trust 
and worship, a profession involving the repudiation of all other 


20 (19.) Jehovah, God, (God of) Hosts, restore us, Id thy face 
shine, and let us be saved! While the prayer in this verse is 
identical with that in v. 4 (3) and 8 (7), there is a kind of climax 
in the form of the address. In the first of the three places it is 
simply God, in the second God of Hosts, in the third and last 
Jehovah God of Hosts, as if to add to the general ideas of divinity 
and sovereignty those of self-existence, eternity, and covenant- 
relation to his chosen people, as additional warrants for the hope 
and prayer, that he would turn them, smile upon them, save them. 


1. To the Chief Musician. On (or according to) the Gittith. 
By Asaph. For the probable meaning of the Gittith, see above 
on Ps. viii. 1. In the absence of any proof to the contrary, the 
Asaph of this title must be assumed to be the contemporary of 
David. See above, on Ps. 1. 1. The psalm before us was pro- 
bably intended to be sung at the Passover, as it consists of an 
exhortation to praise God for the deliverance of Israel from 
Egypt, vs. 2 — 8 (1 — 7), a complaint of their ingratitude, vs. 
9 — 13 (8 — 12), and a glowing picture of the happy effects to be 
expected from obedience and fidelity, vs. 14 — IS (13 — 17.) 

2 (1.) Sing aloud unto God our strength, make a joyful noise 
unto the God of Jacob ! The first verb is properly a causative 
meaning make or let rejoice. See above, on Ps. lxv. 9 (S), and 
compare Deut. xxxii. 43, in which place, and in this, it is com- 
monly supposed to be intransitive. The parallel verb is a generic 
term, applied both to shouting and the sound of a trumpet. See 


above, on Ps. xli. 12 (11.) xlvii. 2 (1.) Gcd our strength, our 
strong protector and deliverer, in which character he specially 
revealed himself in the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, the main 
theme or subject of this psalm, and thereby proved himself to be 
indeed the covenant or tutelary God of Jacob. 

3 (2.) Raise the song, and beat the drum, the sweet harp with 
the lute (or lyre.) Beat, literally, give, i. e. give forth its sound, 
or sound it. See above, on Ps. xlvi. 7(6.) lxviii. 34 (33.) lxxvii. 
18 (17.) This is to be understood as a mutual exhortation of 
the musicians to each other during the actual performance. 

4 (3.) Blow, in the month, the trumpet, at the full moon, on the 
day of our feast. The month, by way of eminence, was the first 
month, in which the passover was celebrated (Ex. xii. 1,2.) Here, 
us in the Hebrew of Lev. xxiii. 5, the month is first named, then 
me particular part of- it. That this last was no unessential cir- 
sumstance, appears from the fact, that when an extraordinary 
passover was kept, it was on the same day of another month 
(Num. ix. 9 — 14), and that when Jeroboam changed the feast of 
tabernacles, he transferred it to the same day of the eighth month 
(1 Kings xii. 32.) The time thus selected for religious obser- 
vance seems to have been that of the full moon. Compare the 
original and marginal translation of Prov. vii. 20. The day of 
our festival or feast, i. e. the great day of the Passover. Our 
feast, if emphatic, is intended to describe it as a distinctive na- 
tional solemnity. The continued use of instrumental music at 
this festival appears from 2 Chr. xxx. 21. 

5 (4.) For a law to Israel (is) this, a right (belonging) to t/ie 
God of Jacob. The observance of this festival was not a mere 
matter of usao;c or conventional arrangement, but binding on the 
people and due to Jehovah as their God. The personal pronoun 
(it) at the end of the first clause is emphatic, and may be better 


expressed in English by a demonstrative. A right, jus, that to 
which he is rightfully entitled. 

6 (5.) (As) a testimony in Joseph he set it, in his coming out 
over the land of Egypt. A speech I knew not I am hearing. 
Besides the constant use of testimony in the sense of law, Ps. xix. 
8 (7.) lx. 1. Ixxviii. 5. Ixxx. 1, the word is appropriate, in its 
strict sense, to the Passover, as a perpetual memento or memorial 
of the exodus from Egypt. Joseph is here put for Israel, on ac- 
count of his pre-eminence during the residence in Egypt (Gen. 
xlix. 26. Ex. i. 8.) He set it, i. e. God instituted or ordained the 
festival. In his coming, at the time, or in the very act, of his 
departure. Over the land of Egypt includes the usual expression, 
from or out of it (Ex. xxxiv. IS), but suggests the additional 
ideas of publicity and triumph. Israel, at- the exodus, passed over 
a considerablqflkract of the Egyptian territory, and- at the same 
time, as it were, over the heads of the humbled and terrified 
Egyptians. Compare Ex. xiv. 8. Num. xxxiii. 3. Speech, liter- 
ally, lip, a common idiomatic expression for dialect or language. 
According to the version of this last clause above given, it refers 
to the words of God that follow, and describes the people as hav- 
ing then heard what they never heard before. Some interpreters, 
however, understand it as describing the condition of the people 
while in Egypt, by one of its most marked and painful circum- 
stances, namely, that they there resided in the midst of a foreign 
and by implication heathen race. This agrees better with the 
figurative usage of lip elsewhere, and is strongly favoured by the 
analogy of Deut. xxviii. 49. Jer. v. 15. Ps. cxiv. 1. Compare 
my note on Isai. xxxiii. 19. Thus understood, the clause may 
be translated, (where) i" heard a tongue I did not understand. 
The future form of the first verb has reference to the actual time 
of the events, into which the speaker here transports himself. 

7 (6.) I removed fr o?)i the burden his shoulder ; his hands from 


the basket escape. The first verb strictly means I caused (or suf- 
fered) to depart. The idea is borrowed from Ex. vi. 6, 7. The 
specific reference is no doubt to the carrying of bricks and mortar, 
and the pot or basket of the next clause is the vessel used for 
that purpose, the form of which has been found delineated in a 
burial-vault at Thebes. Escape, literally, pass away. 

8 (7.) In distress thou hast called and I have delivered thee; I 
will {yet) answer thee in the secret place of thunder ; I will try thee 
at the waters of Strife. The secret or hiding place of thunder is 
the dark cloud charged with tempest which overhung Mount 
Sinai at the giving of the law (Ex. xx. 18.) This is here anti- 
cipated or predicted, as well as the murmuring of the people at 
Meribah (Ex. xvii. Num. xx.) as a signal instance of their unbe- 
lief and disobedience. Thus understood, the verse continues the 
words of God himself, at the crisis of the Exodu^ According to 
the other exegetical hypothesis already mentioned, there is here 
a sudden change of speaker, and the future verbs in this verse are 
to be explained as historical presents. 

9 (8.) Hear, my people, and I will testify against thee, Israel, if 
thou wilt hearken to me. There is a strong resemblance between 
this verse and Ps. 1. 7. The conditional particle (if) in the last 
clause is by some taken optatively, oh that thou wouldst hearken, 
or, as we might say in English, if thou wouldst but hearken. As 
examples of this usage, Ps. xcv. 7. exxxix. 19. Prov. xxiv. 11, 
are cited. Other interpreters deny its existence and regard this 
as an instance of aposiopesis, if thou wilt hearken to me (thou shalt 
do well,) like those in Ex. xxxii. 32. Luke xix. 42. See above, 
on Ps. xxvii. 13. A simpler and more natural construction than 
either is to make this the condition of the statement in the first 
clause. i I will speak, if thou wilt hear me.' 

10 (9.) There shall not be in thee a strange God, and thou shalt 
not worship a foreign God. The divine name here used is the 


one denoting power. ( Thou shalt acknowledge no Almighty but 
the true one.' The prohibitory futures have a stronger sense 
than that expressed in some translations, let there be no strange God 
in thee, i. e. in the midst of thee, among you. A strange God, 
a God who is an alien to Jehovah and to Israel. Worship, lite- 
rally bow down or prostrate thyself. A foreign God, a God of 
strangeness, or belonging to foreign parts, in other words, a hea- 
then deity. See above, on Ps. xviii. 45, 46 (44, 45.) The spe- 
cific reason here implied is that expressed in Deut. xxxii. 12. 
The general principle is the same that is propounded in the first 
commandment (Ex. xx. 3. Deut. v. 7.) 

11 (10.) I am Jehovah, thy God, who brought thee up out of the 
land of Egypt ; open thy mouth wide and I will fill it. The reason 
of the precept in the foregoing verse is now explicitly declared. 
The (one) maldng thee ascend, or causing thee to come up. Open 
thy mouth wide, literally, widen it. The supply of food is here 
put for that of all necessities. The reason here suggested for ad- 
hering to Jehovah is, that He not only had delivered them from 
Egypt, but was abundantly able to provide for them in Canaan 
and the wilderness. 

12 (11.) And my people did not hearken to my voice, and Israel 
did not consent unto me. God having once been introduced as 
speaking, the description of the subsequent events is still ascribed 
to him. The phrase my people is designed to aggravate the guilt 
of their rebellion. My voice has special reference to the warning 
i n vs . 7 — ii (6 — 10), supposed to be uttered at the exodus from 
Egypt. Some interpreters, however, make the whole verse a general 
description. Consent unto me, acquiesce in my requirements and 
agree to do my will. The form of expression is like that in 
Deut, xiii. 9. (8.) 

13 (12.) And I gave them up to the corruption of their own 


heart ; they go on in their own counsels. The first verb strictly 
means I sent them forth, i. e. to walk in the corruption of their 
own heart. The word translated corruption occurs elsewhere only 
in Deut. xxix. IS, and in Jeremiah's imitations of it (Jer. iii. 17. 
vii. 24. ix. 13. xi. 8.) According to a Syriac analogy, and the 
most probable Hebrew etymology, it properly means hardness, 
corresponding to the ndjQcocng of the New Testament (Mark 
vii. 5. Rom. xi. 25. Eph. iv. 18.) In their oion counsels, in the 
execution of their own evil purposes and unwise plans. The verb 
in the last clause may be read as a concession or permission, by 
referring the words to an anterior point of time. i I gave them 
up, etc. (saying) let them go on in their own counsels.' As to 
the fearful kind of retribution here denounced, see Prov. i. 30, 31. 
Rom. i. 24. 2 Thess. ii. 10, 11. 

14 (13. J If my people would (but) hearken to me (and) Israel in 
my ways would, walk. The conditional particle at the beginning, 
although not the same with that in v. 9 (8), is construed in the 
same way, but with a stronger optative meaning. To listen to 
God's teaching and commands implies a docile and obedient 
spirit. To walk in his ways is to act as he approves and has 

15 (14.) Soon would I bow doicn their enemies, and on their 
foes bring back my hand. The first Hebrew phrase strictly 
means like a little, but is used like the English yet a little, i. e, in 
a little while. See above, on Ps. ii. 12, and compare Ps. lxxiii. 2. 
To draw back the hand, in Ps. Ixxiv. 11, means to withdraw or 
withhold it from action ; but in this connection it conveys the 
opposite idea of bringing it again into action, with specific refer- 
ence, as some suppose, to its use in former exigencies, v. S (7.) 
The phrase itself denotes mere action ; the idea of hostile or de- 
structive action is suggested by the context. See my note on 
Isai. i. 25. 


16 (15.) The haters of Jehovah should lie to him, and their time 
should be forever. The first phrase is intended to suggest the con- 
solatory thought that the foes of God's people are the foes of God 
himself. There is no need, therefore, of referring Am to Israel or 
my people , as in Deut. xxxiii. 29, from which the clause is bor- 
rowed. The plurals before and after render this less natural, and 
as the interests of God and his people are identical, the meaning 
is the same in either case. To lie is here to yield a feigned obe- 
dience to a conqueror or superior enemy. See above, on Ps. xviii. 
45 (44.) lxvi. 3. Their time, i. e. the continued existence of 
Israel as the chosen people. Compare 2 Sam. vii. 24. 

17 (16.) And he would feed him with the fat of wheat, and from 
the rock with honey sate him. The first verb is a causative and 
means would let (or make) him eat. The fat of wheat, its richest 
part or finest quality, another transfer of animal attributes to vege- 
table objects. See above, on Ps. lxxx. 16 (15.) Honey from 
the rock, some suppose to mean wild honey ; others, with more 
probability, honey supplied by miracle, like the water from the 
rock in the desert. All these strong expressions are borrowed 
from Deut. xxxii. 13, 14^ and are imitated likewise in Ps. cxbvii. 
14. Isai. xxxiv. 16. Wheat and honey, by a natural and primi- 
tive association, are here put for the necessaries and the luxuries 
of human sustenance, and these again for the highest enjoyment 
and prosperity. The English version refers these four verses all 
to past time, Jiad hearkened, had walked, should have subdued, 
should have submitted, should have endured, should have fed, should 
have satisfied. This is in fact the true construction of the similar 
passage in Isai. xlviii. 18 ; but there the conditional or optative 
particle is construed with the preterite, and not with the future 
tense as here, which makes an essential difference of syntax 
See Nordheimer's Hebrew Grammar, § 107S. 

236 PSALM LXXX11. 

PSALM L X X X 1 1 . 

A brief but pregnant statement of the responsibilities attached 
to the judicial office under the Mosaic dispensation. After de- 
claring the relation which the judges bore to God, v. 1, he re- 
bukes their malversation, v. 2, and exhorts them to a better 
practice, vs. 3, 4, and in case of their persistency in evil, v. 5, 
notwithstanding their acknowledged dignity, v. 6, threatens them 
with condign punishment, v. 7, to which the church responds by 
praying God himself to appear as the universal judge and sove- 
reign, v. S. 

1. A Psalm. By Asaph. God stands in the assembly of the 
Mighty ; in the midst of the gods he judges. There is no reason 
for doubting that the Asaph mentioned in this title was the Asaph 
of the reign of David, in whose times the necessity for such a 
warning must already have existed, if not in the person of the 
king, who, perhaps on that account, is not particularly mentioned, 
yet in his chiefs or nobles, the exalted though inferior magis- 
trates who executed justice under him. The judicial appearance 
of Jehovah here presented is like that in Ps. 1. 1. Stands, or, 
as the participle strictly means, (is) standing, stationing him- 
self, assuming his position. The word translated assembly is one 
commonly applied to the congregation of Israel, as an organ- 
ized whole or body politic. See Ex. xii. 3. xvi. 1. Lev. iv. 15. 
]N"uni. xxvii. 17. Mighty is singular not plural in Hebrew, being 
one of the divine names (b&), and qualifies the. congregation or 

PSALM LXXX11. 237 

assembly as belonging to God himself, i. e. instituted by him and 
held under his authority. The parallel expression, in the midst of 
the gods, superadds to this idea an allusion to a singular usage of the 
Pentateuch, according to which the thcocratical magistrates, as 
mere representatives of God's judicial sovereignty, are expressly 
called Elohim, the plural form of which is peculiarly well suited 
to this double sense or application. See Ex. xxi. 6. xxii. 7, 8 
(8, 9), and compare Deut. i. 17. xix. 17. 2 Chron. xix. 6. Even 
reverence to old age seems to be required on this principle (Lev. 
xix. 32), and obedience to parents in the fifth commandment (Ex. 
xx. 12), which really applies to all the offices and powers of the 
patriarchal system, a system founded upon natural relations, and 
originating in a simple extension of domestic or parental govern- 
ment, in which the human head represents the original and uni- 
versal parent or progenitor. The remarkable use of the name 
God in Exodus, above referred to, is concealed from the reader 
of the English Bible, by the arbitrary use of the word judges, as 
a translation of the Hebrew, which of course it cannot be. He 
judges, will judge, is about to judge. The idea is, that as the 
judges were gods to other men, so he would be a judge to them. 
Compare Isai. iii. 13 — 15. Micah iii. 1 — 4. Jer. xxii. 1 — 4. 

2. How long will ye judge wrong, and the faces of wicked men 
accept ? Selah. The question implies that they had done so long 
enough, nay, too long, since it was wrong from the beginning. 
Wrong, in the strongest moral sense, injustice, wickedness. 
Wrong, in Hebrew as in English, may be construed either as an 
adverb or a noun or both, i. e. as a noun adverbially used to 
qualify the verb. See the similar construction of its counterpart 
or converse, Ps. lviii. 2(1.) The last clause exemplifies one of 
the most peculiar Hebrew idioms. The combination usually 
rendered respect persons in the English Bible, and applied to 
judicial partiality, means literally to take (or take up) faces^ 
Some suppose this to mean the raising of the countenance, or 


causing to look up from deep dejection. But the highest philo- 
logical authorities are now agreed, that the primary idea is that 
of accepting one man's face or person rather than another's, the 
precise form of expression, though obscure, being probably de- 
rived from the practice of admitting suitors to confer with govern- 
ors or rulers face to face, a privilege which can sometimes only 
be obtained by bribes, especially though not exclusively in 
* oriental courts. The Selah commends the implied charge of 
official malversation to the serious reflection of the accused 

3. Judge the weak and fatherless , (to) the sufferer and the 'poor 
do justice. The indirect censure of their evil deeds is followed 
by a direct exhortation to do well. Compare Isai. i. 16, 17. 
The verb of the first clause is explained by that of the second, 
which is a technical forensic term, meaning to make innocent or 
righteous, i. e. to recognize or declare as such by a judicial act. 
See Ex. xxiii. 7. Deut. xxv. 1, and compare 2 Sam. xv. 4. Isai. 
5. 23. 1. 8. The word translated weak is applied to the defect 
both of bodily strength and of property or substance. See above, 
on Ps. xli. 2(1.) It is used by Moses in the same connection. 
Ex. xxiii. 3. The fatherless or orphans are continually spoken 
of, as proper objects both of mercy and of justice. See above, on 
Ps. x. 14. Ixviii. 6 (5), and compare Ex. xxii. 21 (22.) The word 
translated poor seems strictly to denote one who has grown poor 
or become impoverished. See the verbal root in Ps. xxxiv. 
11 (10.) 

4. Deliver the weal; and the needy (man), from the hand of ivicked 
(men) free (him.) The first verb means originally to suffer or cause 
to escape ; the second to extricate or disembarrass. From the hand 
of the wicked implies from their power, as actually exercised for 
coercion. The structure of the sentence may be made more 
regular bv disregarding the muse-accent and attaching the needy 


to the last clause, and the poor from the hand of the wicked set 


5. They know not and they will not understand; in darknesi 
they will (still) walk; shaken are all the foundations of earth. 
This is the Lord's complaint of their incorrigible ignorance and 
indocility, which rendered even his divine instructions unavailing. 
The object of the first verbs is suggested by the context, as in 
Ps. xiv. 4. What they did not know and would not understand 
was their judicial duty and responsibility, the end for which they 
were invested with authority. Darkness is a figure both for ig- 
norance and wickedness. See Prov. ii. 13. The denial or per- 
version of justice is described as disorganizing society. Compare 
the figures in Ps. xi. 3. lxxv. 4 (3.) 

6. I have said, Gods (are) ye, and sons of the Highest all of you. 
Their sin did not consist in arrogating to themselves too high a 
dignity, but in abusing it by malversation, and imagining that it 
relieved them from responsibility, whereas it really enhanced it. 
They ware God's representatives, hut for that very reason they 
were bound to be pre-eminently just and faithful. I have said, 
not merely to myself or in secret, but in my law ; referring to the 
passages in Exodus already cited. See above, on v. 1. Ye are 
gods, or God, i. e. ye occupy his place and are entrusted with his 
honour as a just and holy G-od. The pregnant significancy of the 
plural form is here the same as in v. 1 above. The parallel ex- 
pression, sons of the Most High, denotes the closest and most in- 
timate relation to Jehovah, as the Supreme or Sovereign God. 
See above, on Ps. ii. 7. This verse is cited by our Lord (John 
x. 34, 35), to show that if the divine name had been applied by 
God to mere men; there could be neither blasphemy nor folly in 
its application to the incarnate Son of God himself. 

7. (Yet) verily like mankind shall ye die, and like one of the 


princes shall ye fall. Our idiom requires an adversative particle at 
the be^-innino-, to bring out the antithetical relation of the sentences. 
But the first word in Hebrew is properly a particle of strong as- 
severation, certainly , assuredly. See above, on Ps. xxxi. 23 (22.) 
and compare my note on Isai. liii. 4. Like mankind, or men col- 
lectively, or like a man indefinitely, i. e. any other man. So in 
the other clause, like one of the princes, i. e. any other prince, or 
person holding an exalted station. The clauses constitute a cli- 
max. The first merely describes them as sharers in the general 
mortality of man. The second threatens them with death, i. e. 
violent or untimely death, as a special punishment Ye shall fall, 
by the sword (Jer. xxxix. 18,) or in some analogous manner. 
The verb is often absolutely used in this way to denote a violent 
and penal loss of life. See above, Ps. xx. 9, (S,) and below, 
Ps. xci. 7, and compare Ex. xix. 21, Jer. viii. 12. The general 
meanino- of this verse, when taken in connection with the one be- 
fore it, is that notwithstanding their exalted dignity, bestowed 
and recognized by God himself, they were not thereby exempted 
from the common mortality of men, nor even from those signal 
and destructive strokes, with which God often visits men as highly 
favored and exalted as themselves. 

8. Arise, ok God, judge the earth ; for thou art to possess all 
nations. This is not, as some interpreters suppose, a mere wish 
that God would do what he had just threatened ; for this would 
make the psalm end- with a feeble anti-climax. It is rather a pe- 
tition that, since the representative or delegated judges had proved 
so unfaithful, God would appear in person and reclaim the powers 
which had been so wickedly abused. And this he is besought to 
do, not only in Israel, where the proximate occasion of the prayer 
was furnished, but throughout the earth, over all whose nations 
he possessed, and was one day to make good, the same hereditary 
rio-ht, i. e. a right continuing unchanged through all successive 



1 . A Song. A Psalm. By Asaph. To the general descrip- 
tion (mizmdr) y there is here prefixed a more specific one (shir,) 
which designates the composition as a song of praise or triumph. 
The same combination occurs above, in the title of Ps. xlviii, a 
composition which, as we have there seen, was probably occa- 
sioned by the victory of Jehoshaphat over the Moabites, Ammo- 
nites, and their confederates, as described in 2 Chr. ch. xx. 
This agrees well with the hypothesis, conclusively maintained by 
Hengstenberg, that the psalm before us has relation to the same 
event, and that as the forty-seventh was probably sung upon the 
field of battle, and the forty-eighth after the triumphant return 
to Jerusalem, so the eighty-third was composed in confident anti- 
cipation of the victory. The points of agreement with the history 
will be indicated in the exposition of the several verses. After a 
general petition for divine help, v. 2 (1), follows a description of 
the violence, craft, destructive purpose, and extensive combination 
of the enemies of Judah, vs. 3 — 9 (2 — 8), and then an earnest 
prayer for the renewal of God's ancient deeds in similar emer- 
gencies, vs. 10—15 (9—14), with a view to the promotion of his 
glory in the destruction of his irreconcilable enemies, vs. 16 — 19 
(15 — 18.) According to the view of the historical occasion above 
given, the Asaph of the title must denote some descendant of the 
ancient seer, as it seems to do in several of the preceding psalms. 
Now it happens, by a singular coincidence, that in the history 

VOL. II. 11 

;o ! ' : . : LXXXIII. 

(2 Chr. xx. 14), such a descendant is particularly mentione^ 
■liaziel, upon whom the Spirit of the Lord came in the midst of 
the assembly, and prompted him to take a leading part in the pre- 
liminary movements which resulted in the triumph of Judah (ib. 
. 15 — IS.) Compare the similar coincidence in reference to 
■ Sons of Korah, as the authors of Ps. 48, vol. 1. p. 400. 

2 (1.) Oh God, be not silent, hold not thy peace, and be not still, 
oh Mighty (One) ! This is a general introductory petition, that 
God would not remain inactive and indifferent to the dangers 
which environed his own people. The peculiar form of expression 
in the first clause, let there not (be) silence to thee, is copied by 
Isaiah (lxii. 6, 7.) The next phrase is one that has occurred re- 
peatedly before. See Ps. xxviii. 1. xxxv. 22. xxxix. 13 (12. ) 
The third petition, be not still or quiet, rest not, has the same re- 
lation to act that the others have to word or speech. The use of 
this divine name (^) involves an appeal to God's omnipotence, 
as furnishing a reason for his interference. Why should He who 
is Almighty remain silent and inactive, when his people are in 
danger and his enemies apparently triumphant ? 

3 (2.) For lo, thine enemies roar, and thy haters raise the head. 
The general prayer in the preceding verse is now enforced by a 
description of the danger, beginning with the violence and con- 
fidence of the assailants. The lo is equivalent to see there, and 
converts the passage into a description of a present scene. The 
enemies of Israel are, as usual, identified with those of God, as a 
reason why he should appear for their destruction. The first 
verb means to make a noise, and is applied to the roar of the 
sea in Ps. xlvi. 4 (3), as it is to the howl of dogs in Ps. lix. 
7 (6), and to internal commotions in Ps. xxxix. 7 (6.) xlii. 6, 
12 (5, 11.) Lift up the head, as a natural indication of confi- 
dence and triumph. Compare the description of a conquered 
people, Judg. viii. 28. 


4 (3.) Against thy people they taJce crafty counsel, and consult 
against thy hidden ones. To the qualities of violence and arro- 
gance, the description now adds that of treacherous cunning 
The construction in the first clause is, they make (their) consulta- 
tion crafty. For the meaning of the Hebrew noun, see above, on 
Ps. xxv. 14. lv. 15 (14.) lxiv. 3 (2.) Thy hidden ones, those 
whom thou hast hidden for safe-keeping, the objects of thy merci- 
ful protection. See above, on Ps. xxvii. 5. xxxi. 21 (20.) 

5 (4.) They have said. Come and let us destroy them from 
(being) a nation, and let not the name of Israel be remembered 
any more. Not only were they turbulent and confident and 
crafty, but malignant and determined to destroy. The past 
tense of the first verb represents the combination as already formed. 
The idiomatic phrase, from a nation, is used more than once by 
Isaiah (vii. 8. xxiii. 1.) The expression for complete extirpa- 
tion in the last clause is borrowed from the curse on Amalek, Ex. 
xvii. 14. Israel, as the name of the chosen people, was right- 
fully claimed by Judah after the great schism, even while the 
rival kingdom still existed. 

6 (5.) For they have consulted heartily together • against thee a 
covenant they ratify. The word translated heartily is really a 
noun meaning heart, but here used to qualify the verb by adding 
the idea, with the heart, ex animo, cordially, heartily. The 
phrase rendered one heart in 1 Chr. xii. 38 is altogether different. 
For the meaning of the last verb, see above, on Ps. 1. 5. The 
preterite and future tense represent the combination as already 
formed and still continued. 

7 (G.) The tents of Edom and the Ishmaclites, Moab and tlie. 
Hagarenes. The use of the word tents does not necessarily im- 
ply a wandering mode of life, as it may mean military tents, or 
be a figure for dwollings. See above, on Ps. lxxviii. 67, and 


compare Judg.- vii. S. 1 Kings xii. 16. The Ishmaelites inhab- 
ited a part of Desert Arabia (Gen. xxv. IS), as did also the 
Hagarenes or Hagarites, a people driven from their lands by the 
tribe of Simeon in the reign of Saul. See 1 Chr. v. 10, 19 — 22, 
and compare 1 Chr. xi. 3S. xxvii. 31. 

8 (7.) Gebal and Amnion and Amalek y Philistia with the in- 
habitants of Tyre. Gebal was probably a part of Idumea. Am- 
nion and Amalek are joined in the same manner, Judges iii. 13, 
as Philistia and Tyre are, Ez. xxxviii. 13, and Philistia, Tyre, 
and Edom, Am. i. 6 — 10. 

9 (8.) Also Assyria was joined with them. (These) were, an 
arm to the Sons of Lot. Selah. Assyria is put last as the re- 
motest and least interested in this combination against Judah. It 
had evidently not yet supplanted Babylonia as the dominant 
power of Western Asia. The last clause refers, not merely to 
Assyria, as the plural verb shows, but to all the confederates ex- 
cept the Sons of Lot, i. e. Moab and Ainmon (Gen. xix. 37, 38), 
who are here referred to, as the authors and conductors of the 

10 (9.) Do to them as (thou didst) to Midian, as (to) Sisera, as 
(to) Jahin, in the valley of the Kishon. This is a prayer for such 
deliverances as Israel experienced of old. The examples here 
selected are the victory of Gideon over the JMidianites (Judges 
vii, viii), and that of Deborah and Barak over Jabin and Sisera 
(Judges iv, y . ) Between the first of these and the event which the 
psalm before us was designed to celebrate there was this remark- 
able resemblance, that the enemies of Israel were in both cases 
made to destroy each other (Judg. vii. 22. 2 Chr. xx. 23.) Com- 
pare the allusions to the same event in Isai. ix. 4 (3.) Hab. iii. 7. 
The Kishon is repeatedly mentioned in the history of Deborah 
and Barak's triumph (Judg. iv. 7, 13. v. 21.) 


11 (10.) They were destroyed at Endor, they were dung to the 
earth. This refers to the second of the battles mentioned in the 
preceding verse. Endor is not expressly named in the history, 
but is known to have been in the vicinity of Tabor, which k 
repeatedly there mentioned (Judg. iv. 6, 12, 14.) The last clause 
derives illustration from the extraordinary fruit-fulness of certain 
battle-fields in modern times, particularly that of Waterloo 
Compare 2 Kings ix. 37. Jer. ix. 21 (22.) 

12 (11.) Make them, (even) their nobles, like Or eh and like 
Zeeb ; and like Zebah and like Zalmunnah all their princes. He 
asks not only that the masses of the enemy may fare like those 
of Midian, but that their chief men may be utterly destroyed as 
the kings and chiefs of Midian were by Gideon. See Judg. vii. 
2d. viii. 5 — 21. The appeal to the historical associations of the 
people is greatly strengthened by this recital of familiar names. 
The first word properly means set or place them, i. e. put them in 
the same condition. 

13 (12.) Who have said, let us inherit for ourselves the diccll- 
ings (or pasture-grounch) of God. This relates not to the former 
but to the present enemies of Israel, and assigns the reason why 
they should experience the same fate with their predecessors. 
The double meaning of the word translated diccllings makes it 
peculiarly descriptive of the Holy Land, where God dwelt with 
his people, and where he fed them as a shepherd. See above, 
on Ps. xxiii. 3. lxv. 13 (12.) lxxiv. 20. 

14 (13.) My God, make them like the whirling chaff before the 
wind. Make them, literally, place them, as in v. 11. Like the 
ivhirling chaff, literally, like the whirl (or whirlwind) , like the 
chaff. See above, on Ps. lxxvii. 19 (IS), and compare IsaL 
xvii. ]3. 


15 (14.) As fire consumes a fores/, and as a flame kindles moun- 
tains. The original construction is, like a fire (which) consumes, 
like a flame (which) kindles. By mountains we are here to under- 
stand what covers them or grows upon them. 

16 (15.) So wilt thou pursue them with thy storm, and with thy 
tempest scare them. There is no need of translating these futures 
as impera-tives. It is one of those cases, so frequent in Hebrew, 
and especially in this book, where the form of direct petition al- 
ternates with that of confident anticipation 

17 (16.) Fill their face icith shame, and (men) will seek thy 
name, Jehovah! With the first clause compare Ps. lxix. S (7.) 
lxxxix. 46 (45.) Some refer the last clause also to the enemies ; 
but their destruction is still anticipated in the next verse, and to 
seek the name of God can hardly be expressive of a compulsory 
humiliation. The word translated shame is very strong, and 
means contempt, disgrace, or ignominy. 

18 (17.) They shall be shamed and terror-stricken to eternity, 
and blush and perish. This no doubt includes a prayer or the 
expression of a wish, but it also includes a strong and confident 
anticipation. To discard the future form is therefore at the 
same time weakening; to the sense and destructive of a character- 
istic feature of the language. With the first clause compare Ps. 
vi. 11 (10.) The word translated terror-stricken is the same that 
was rendered scared in v. 16 (15.) See above, on Ps. ii. 5. 
vi. 4 (3.) xlviii. 6 (5.) 

19. (IS.) And (men) shall know that thou, whose name (is) Je- 
hovah, (art) alone Most High over all the earth. The reference 
here, as in v. 17 (16), is not to the impression made upon the 
minds of those destroyed, but upon men in general considered as 
spectators of their fate. See above, on Ps. lix. 14 (13), and com- 


pare 1 Sam. xvii. 46. 2 Kings xix. 19. Isai. xxx^ii. 16,20. The 
original construction is peculiar : ' they shall know that thou — 
thy name Jehovah — thou alone — art Most High over all the 
earth.' The simple pronoun thou is explained and amplified by 
the addition of the words, thy name Jehovah, i. e. thou who hast 
revealed thyself already as the self-existent and eternal God, 
and as the covenant God of Israel. 


1. To the Chief Musician. On (or according to) the Gittith. 
By (or for~) the Sons of Korah. The Psalmist celebrates the 
blessedness of intimate communion with God, vs. 2 — 8 (1 — 7), 
and prays that he may himself enjoy it, vs. 9 — 13 (S — 12.) 
The resemblance of this psalm, in subject, tone, and spirit, to 
Ps. xlii, is the more remarkable because each stands at the be- 
ginning of a series inscribed to the Sons of Korah. The experi- 
ence here recorded is so evidently David's, that we must either 
understand the Sons of Korah to be mentioned merely as the mu- 
sical performers, or suppose that they composed it to express the 
feelings of the king himself, a hypothesis which Hengstenberg 
illustrates by the case of David playing and singing before 
Saul, in order to alleviate his paroxysms of madness. For the ar- 
guments on both sides of the question, see above, on Ps. xlii. 1, 
and for the meaning of the Gittitk, on Ps. viii. 1. lxxxi. 1. 

2 (1.) How dear (to me are) thy dwellings, oh Jehovah, (God 
of) Hosts ! The adjective is rendered by the English versions 
amiable, in the sense of the French aimable, lovely. But the 


usage of the Hebrew word requires it to be understood as meaning 
dear, beloved, which is exactly the idea here required by the con- 
text. See above, on Ps. xlv. 1. The plural dwellings has re- 
ference to the subdivisions and appurtenances of the sanctuary, 
and is applied to the tabernacle in Ps. xliii. 3. Compare Ps. Ixviii. 
36 (35.) The divine titles are as usual significant. While one 
suggests the covenant relation between God and the petitioner, 
the other makes his sovereignty the ground of a prayer for his 
protection. The force of this impassioned exclamation is en- 
hanced by the structure of the sentence, which consists of a single 
clause, like Ps. xviii. 2 (1.) With the whole verse compare 
Ps. xxvii. 1 — 5. 

3 (2.) Longs and also faints my soul for the courts of Jehovah, 
my heart and my flesh; they sing (with joy) unto the living God. 
The first verb is expressive of intense desire, as in Ps. xvii. 12. 
Compare Gen. xxxi. 30. Instead of and also the English Bible 
has yea even, which is perhaps too strong, and indicates a climax 
not intended by the writer. Faints, fails, or is consumed with 
strong desire. The plural courts, i. e. enclosures, is to be explained 
like dwellings in v. 2 (1.) Solomon's temple had two courts ; but 
one was appropriated to the priests, 2 Chr. iv. 9. The courts of 
the tabernacle are mentioned as the place where God statedly 
communed with Israel. See above, on Ps. lxv. 5 (4), and below, 
on Ps. xcii. 14 (13.) They are here mentioned merely as a sign 
of the communion itself, which might be enjoyed in any place 
whatever. See above, on Ps. xxvii. 4. xxxvi. 9. Soul, heart, 
and flesh, denote the whole man. See above, on Ps. lxiii. 2(1.) 
The Hebrew accents connect heart and flesh with the preceding 
words. A much more natural division is the common one, which 
construes them directly with the verb of the last clause. That 
verb elsewhere always denotes a joyful shout or song ; but the de- 
rivative noun (na^) is used to signify a cry for help or earnest 
prayer, which meaning some attach to the verb itself in this place, 


so as to make the clauses strictly parallel. If the usual meaning 
of the verb be here retained, the clause shows that the speaker 
had already experienced that for which he prays. The Living 
God, really existing, and the giver of life to others. See above, 
on Ps. xlii. 3 (2.) 

4 (3.) Yes, the sparrow has found a home, and the sicallow a 
nest, (in) which she lays her young, even thine altars, Jehovah, 
(God) of Hosts, my King and my God. The first word properly 
means also, as in the preceding verse, and is by some translated 
even, as if he had said, l the very birds have nests in the sanctu- 
ary of God, while I am excluded from it.' Compare Matt. viii. 
20. But the fact thus alleged is highly improbable and nowhere 
recorded. A more natural interpretation is to make the sparrow 
and the swallow (put for small and helpless birds in general) em- 
blems of the worshipper himself. As if he had said, yes, this 
wandering bird has at last found a resting-place, or home, both for 
itself and for its young. That this is perfectly in keeping with 
Davidic usage, is plain from 1 Sam. xxvi. 20, Ps. xi. 1. lv. 7 (6.) 
lvi. 1. The translation even thine altars supposes the Hebrew 
particle (n&) to indicate the object of the verb, as it does before 
the same noun in 1 Kings xix. 10, 14. It may, however, be a 
preposition meaning at or near, and this sense is preferred by 
those interpreters who suppose a literal nestling of the birds in 
the sanctuary to be here alluded to. The altars meant are those 
of burnt-offering and of incense, as in Num. iii. 31. They are par- 
ticularly mentioned, because it was by means of sacrifice and 
prayer that communion between God and man was possible. 
Compare Ps. xxvi. 6. The young birds are introduced, not 
only to complete the picture, but to show that the communion 
and divine protection, which the Psalmist so highly valued, were 
not merely personal but domestic and social privileges, which ho 
desired both for himself and those dependent on him. The ad- 
dress, Jehovah (God) of Jlosts, has the same sense as in v. 2 (1.) 


The same essential notions of supremacy and covenant relation 
are conveyed by the parallel expression, my King and my Gad, 
a combination which occurs only here and in Ps. v. 3 (2.) 

5 Happy the dwellers in thy house, (for) still they praise thee 
(or will praise thee.) The first phrase is the idiomatic one "with 
which the book begins, for the peculiar form and sense of which, 
see above, on Ps. i. 1. ii. 12. xxxii. 1, 2. xxxiii. 12. xli. 2 (1.) 
Dwellers in, inhabitants of, thy house, i. e. members of thy family, 
as the same words literally mean in Jer. xx. 5. For the spiritual 
or figurative meaning, see above, on £s. xv. 1. xxiii. 6. xxiv. 3. 
xxvii. 4. lxi. 5 (4.) lxv. 5 (4.) The privilege thus described 
might be enjoyed in any local situation ; but the outward sign of 
it, under the old economy, was the frequenting of the sanctuary. 
As inmates, not mere visitors, they will still have occasion 
and opportunity of doing what they do when first admitted to 
God's household. They will still praise, because they will have 
renewed cause so to do. See above, on Ps. v. 8 (7.) 1. 15, 23. 
Ixxix. 13. 

6 (5.) Happy the man who (has) strength in thee, (who have) high- 
ways in their heart. The original consists of several exclamations 
or ejaculations — happy man ! — (there is) strength to him in thee ! 
— (there are) highways in their heart ! This last unusual and 
obscure expression is supposed by some to mean, in whose thoughts, 
(or affections) are the highways to Jerusalem, i. e. who still think 
of going up to worship there. But another explanation, which 
agrees far better, both with the immediate context and with usage 
and analogy, supposes the figure to be identical with that in Ps. 
1. 23. Prov. xvi. 17. Isai. xl. 3, 4, where the removal of all 
moral or spiritual hinderances to God's revisiting his people and 
communing with them, is poetically represented as the opening, 
levelling, and raiding; of a causeway through a pathless wilderness 
or otherwise impracticable ground. The word translated high- 


ways is determined, both by etymology and usage, to denote not 
a mere beaten track or footpath, but a road artificially constructed 
and raised above the level of the ground through which it passes. 
The sudden change of number in the last clause shows that man 
is a generic or collective term. 

7 (6.) Passing through theVVale of Tears, a spring they make 
it ; also icith blessings is the Teacher clothed. This is one of the 
obscurest verses in the book. Interpreters, however, are now 
commonly agreed as to the first clause. The explanation of Baca, 
as meaning the Valley of Mulberry or Baca-trees (2 Sam. v. 
23, 24. 1 Chron. xiv. 13, 14), is now very commonly abandoned 
for the one given in the ancient versions, the Vale of Weeping or 
of Sorrow, a beautiful poetical description of the present life as 
one of suffering. To the fons lacrymarum is opposed the foun- 
tain of salvation or of joy, a figure so familiar in the Scriptures, 
as to be readily suggested by the one word spring or fountain, 
See above, on Ps. xxxvi. 10 (9.) xlvi. 5 (4), and compare Isai. 
xii. 3. The meaning of the clause, as thus explained, is, that 
the persons pronounced happy in the foregoing verse are a 
source of happiness, and convert the very Vale of Tears into a 
fountain of delight. The meaning of the other clause is still dis- 
puted. As the first noun, by varying a single vowel-point, may 
mean either pools or blessings, and the next, though it commonly 
means teacher (2 Kings xvii. 28. Prov. v. 13. Isai. xxx. 20), has 
in one other place (Joel ii. 23) the sense of rain, or rather of 
the early rain in Palestine, tho clause admits of several very 
different explanations. 1 . The rain also covers the pools. 2. The 
teacher is clothed in blessings. 3. The rain covers it with bless- 
in gg. In favour of the second is its close adherence to the usa^e 
of the three leading words. It is also found substantially in the 
ancient versions. The meaning then is, that this strange trans- 
forming power is exerted by the good man as a teacher of right- 
eousness, in which sense one of the disputed words (nTite) occurs 


in Joel ii. 23, which accounts for its being there repeated in the 
very same sentence, by a kind of paronomasia, in the sense of 
early rain, elsewhere denoted by a cognate form (ifvr). Com- 
pare the sentiment with that in Ps. Ii. 15 (13.) For the neuter 
or intransitive meaning of the last verb, see Lev. xiii. 45. Mic 
iii. 7. Jer. xliii. 12. 

8 (7.) They shall go from strength to strength ; he shall ap- 
pear to God in Zion. The change of number is the opposite of 
that in v. 6 (5), but to be explained on the same principle. Or 
the singular verb in the last clause may refer to the Teacher in 
v. 7 (6.) The strength is that bestowed by God, in the experi- 
ence of which they make continual advances. The form of ex- 
pression in the last clause is one used in the Law to denote the 
stated appearance of the Israelites at the sanctuary. The mean- 
ing of the whole verse is, that they who answer to the previous 
description shall finally attain to the full fruition of that union 
with God in which their happiness resides. 

9 (8.) Jehovah, God, (Lord of) Hosts, hear my prayer ; give 
ear, oh God of Jacob ! Selah. Here begins the second part of 
the psalm, containing the petition founded on the preceding view 
of the happiness arising from communion with God. The names 
applied to him suggest, as usual, the grounds of the petition, 
namely, his eternity, self-existence, sovereignty, and covensitit- 
relation to his people. 

10 (9.) (Oh) ovj- shield, see, (oh) God, and behold the face of 
thine Anointed. Some make the first noun the object of the verb 
that follows, see our shield ; but in v. 12 (11) God himself is so 
described, as well as in Ps. iii. 4 (3.) Gen. xv. 1. Its position 
as a vocative, is certainly unusual, but seems to be emphatic 
Behold the face, i. e. behold it favourably, look upon it graciouslj 


Thine Anointed (One), i. e. David, by whom, or in whose name, 
the psalm was written. 

11. (10.) For better (is) a clay in thy courts than a thousand; 1 
have chosen to occupy the threshold in the house of my God, rather 
than dwell in tents of wickedness. The comparison in both 
clauses is expressed, as usual in Hebrew, by the preposition from, 
away from. ' Good from, i. e. in comparison with, a thousand.' ' I 
choose from dwelling, i. e. rather than to dwell.' The first clause 
of course means that one day in God's courts is better than a thou- 
sand elsewhere. I have chosen, and do still choose, a stronger 
expression than I would choose or would rather. The next verb 
occurs only here and is evidently formed from the noun (S|D) sill 
or threshold. To be a door-keeper (guard the threshold), and to 
lie on the threshold, are tco specific, and appear to add some- 
thing to the sense of the original. The idea perhaps is, that he would 
rather stand at the door of God's house and look in (which was 
all that the worshippers could do at the Mosaic sanctuary) than 
dwell in the interior of tents or houses where iniquity prevailed. 
The use of the word tents in this clause makes it still more 
probable that the tabernacle, not the temple, is meant by the 
parallel expression, house of God. 

12 (11.) For a sun and a shield is Jehovah, God; grace and 
glory will Jehovah give ; he will not refuse (any thing) good to 
those walking in a perfect (way.) The for shows that this verse 
gives a reason for the preference expressed in that before it. 
God is here called a sun, as he is called a light in Ps. xxvii. 1. 
Both these figures represent him as a source of happiness ; that 
of a shield describes him as a source of safety, or a strong pro- 
tector. Grace and glory (or honour) are related as the cause and 
the effect. The latter includes all the sensible fruits and mani- 
festations of the divine favour. See above, on Ps. xlix. 17 (16.) 
In a perfect is by some understood to mean as % perfect person, 


i. e. perfectly, uprightly. See above on Ps. xv 2. xviii. 24 (23), 
and compare Gen. xvii. I. 

13 (12.) Jehovah^ (Lord of) Hosts, happy the man trusting in 
thee. The participle is expressive of habitual reliance. Trusting 
in thee , as I do. 


1. To the Chief Musician. To (or by) the Sons of Korah. 
A Psalm. On the ground of former benefits, the Church prays 
for deliverance from present evils, vs. 2 — S (1 — 7), and joyfully 
anticipates a favourable answer, vs. 9 — 14 (8 — 13.) There is 
nothing in the title, or the psalm itself, to determine its date or 
confine its application to any particular historical occasion. It 
seems to be appropriate to every case in which the fulfilment of 
the promise (Lev. xxvi. 3 — 13) was suspended or withheld. 

2(1.) Thou icast gracious, oh Jehovah, to thy land ; thou didst 
return (to) the captivity of Jacob. Some interpreters refer these 
words to favours recently experienced ; thou hast (now) been gra- 
cious, etc. But it is clear from vs. 5 — S (4 — 7), that the people 
were actually suffering, and that the acknowledgments in vs. 2 — 4 
(1 — 3) must relate to former instances of God's compassion. 
The idea, that the benefit acknowledged was deliverance from the 
Babylonish exile, has arisen from a false interpretation of the 
last clause, for the true sense of which sec above, on Ps. xiv. 7. 
Captivity is a common figure for distress, and God's revisiting 
the captives for relief from it. It is also worthy of remark that 


the favour shown was to the land, i. e. to the people while in pos- 
session and actual occupation of it. 

3 (2.) Thou didst take away the guilt of thy people ; thou didst 
cover all their sin. Sclah. The same form of expression occurs 
above, in Ps. xxxii. 1, 5 Both verbs suggest the idea of atone- 
ment as well as pardon. 

4 (3.) Thou didst withdraw all thy wrath; thou didst turn from 
the heat of thine anger. There is probably an allusion here to 
the prayer of Moses in Ex. xxxii. 12. The Hebrew verb of the 
second clause corresponds strictly to the English verb in its transi- 
tive or causative sense. It is used, however, in the same way by 
Ezekiel (xviii. 30, 32), who, in one place (xiv. 6), has the 
phrase to turn away the face, of which the other may be an ab- 

b (4.) Return to us, oh God of our salvation, and cease thine 
anger towards us. The recollection of former mercies is here 
followed by a prayer for their renewal. l As thou hast had pity 
on thy people heretofore, so have pity on them now.' Return to 
us, revisit us again in mercy. See above, on v. 2 (1), and on Ps. 
xiv. 7. The verb in the last clause means to annul or nullify, 
put an end to, cause to cease. It occurs above, Ps. xxxiii. 10. 
The word translated anger is one which properly expresses a 
mixed feeling of grief and indignation. See above, on Ps. vi. 
7 (6.) 

7(6.) Forever wilt thou be angry at us? Wilt thou draw 
out thine anger to generation and generation ? The first Hebrew 
word strictly means to ages or eternities. The verb to draw out, 
protract, continue, is used in a favourable sense, Ps. xxxvi. 
11 (10.) The idea here expressed is the opposite of that in Ps. 
xxx. 6 (5.) 


S (7.) Wilt thou not return (and) quicken us, (and) shall (not) 
thy people rejoice in thee ? With the first clause compare Ps. 
Ixxi. 20. lxxx. 19 (18.) Deut. xxxii. 39. Hos. vi. 2. With the 
second compare Ps. v. 12 (11.) ix. 3 (2.) xl. 17 (16.) 'Wilt 
thou not revisit us in mercy, raise us from the dead or dying 
state in which we now are, and give us, as thy people, fresh oc- 
casion to rejoice in our relation to thee, and in our union and 
communion with thee ?' The construction which continues the 
interrogation through the sentence is much simpler and more na- 
tural than that which makes the second clause contingent and 
dependent on the first, that thy people may rejoice in thee. At 
the same time, the interrogative form expresses a more confident 
anticipation than a hare petition. 

S (7.) Let us see, oh Lord, thy mercy] and thy salvation thoii 
wilt give unto us. The first petition is, that God would cause 
them to experience his mercy. In the last clause, as in many 
other places, the form of petition is insensibly exchanged for that 
of anticipation. As if he had said, ' "We can confidently ask thee 
to show us thy mercy, for we know that thou wilt grant us thy 

9 (8.) I will hear what t/ie Mighty (God), Jehovah, will speak ; 
for he will speak peace to his people and to his saints ; and let them 
not return to folly. The first clause expresses the people's wil- 
lingness to hear and to abide by God's decision. The second 
gives the reason of this willingness, to wit, because they know 
that the response will be auspicious. The third assigns the ne- 
cessary limitation to this confidence, by stating the condition of 
God's favourable answer. The failure to comply with this con- 
dition accounts for the partial fulfilment of the promise, both in 
the case of individuals and of the church at large. See above, 
on Ps. lxxx. 19 (18), and compare the promise in Lev. xxvi 
3 — 13. His saints, the objects of his mercy and subjects of his 


trace. See above, on Ps. iv. 4 (3.) And let them not turn is 
equivalent to saying, so (or therefore) let them not turn. The 
real connection of the clauses might be brought out still more 
clearly in our idiom by the paraphrase, £ provided they do not re- 
turn to folly.' 

10 (9.) Only nigh to his fearers (is) his salvation, for glory to 
dwell in our land. As the limitation of the promise to those 
fearing God is an essential stroke in this description, there is no 
need of departing from the strict sense of (1j») the particle with 
which the sentence opens. See above, on Ps. lxii. 10 (9.) lxviii. 
7 (6), and compare Ps. lviii. 12 (11.) lxxiii. 1. The meaning 
then is that salvation is provided by God's mercy for none but 
those who fear him. The last clause, which is literally rendered 
above, is equivalent to saying in our idiom, that glory may dwell 
in our land. Glory has the same sense as in Ps. lxxxiv. 12 (11.) 
JDiccll, reside permanently, long continue. 

11 (12.) Mercy and truth have met (together); righteousness 
and peace have hissed (each other.) By truth, we are to under- 
stand the truth of God's promises, the divine veracity. See above, 
on Ps. xxv. 5. The same combination with grace or mercy 
occurs above, in Ps. xxv. 10. xl. 11 (10.) lvii. 4 (3.) lxi. S (7), 
and below, Ps. lxxxix. 15 (14.) Righteousness, considered as the 
gift of God, justification, whether judicial or providential. Peace, 
immunity from all disturbing causes, which implies prosperity of 
every kind. See above, on Ps. lxxii. 3. Have met, in a peace- 
able and friendly manner, an idea still more strongly expressed 
by the kiss of reconciliation or affection in the last clause. A still 
more pointed and emphatic meaning may be put upon the sentence 
by supposing it to mean, that God's mercy or free favour to the 
undeserving is now seen to be consistent with his truth, which was 
pledged for their destruction, and their peace or safety with his 


righteousness or justice, which might otherwise have seemed to be 
wholly incompatible. 

12 (11.) Truth from the earth is springing, and righteousness 
from heaven looks clown. The truth of God's promise may be 
seen, as it were, springing from the earth in its abundant fruits, 
and his rectitude, or faithfulness to his engagements, looking down 
from heaven in the rain and sunshine. By this bold and beautiful 
conception, the certainty of God's providential care is expressed 
more strongly than it could be by any mere didactic statement. 
The beauty of the image in the last clause is heightened by the 
use of a verb which originally means to lean or bend over, for the 
purpose of gazing down upon a lower object. See above, on Ps 
xiv. 2, and compare Judg. v. 28. 2 Sam. vi. 16. 

13 (12.) Jehovah also will give the (material or earthly), good, 
and our land will give its produce (or increase.) In other words, 
the promise shall be verified that stands recorded in the Law 
(Lev. xxvi. 4), from which the form of expression is borrowed, as 
it is in Ps. lxvii. 7 (6.) 

14 (13.) Righteousness hefore him shall march, and set (us)£» 
the way of his steps. The verb in the first clause is a poetical in- 
tensive form of one which means to walk or go. The idea here 
expressed seems to be that of public and solemn manifestation. 
The last clause is obscure and of dubious construction. The latest 
interpreters understand it as meaning, and set its steps for a ivay, 
i. e. mark out by its own steps the way in which we are to walk. 
This yields, in the end, the same sense as the common version 
ibove given. 



1. A Prayer. By David. Incline, oh Jehovah, thine ear 
(and) answer me, for wretched and needy (am) /. The whole 
psalm is called a prayer, because entirely made up, either of di- 
rect petitions, or of arguments intended to enforce them. The 
tone and substance of the composition are well suited to David's 
situation in his days of suffering at the hands of Saul or Absalom 
more probably the latter, on account of the repeated allusions to 
deliverance from former trials of the same kind. Some account 
for the position of this psalm in the midst of a series inscribed to 
the Sons of Ivorah, by supposing that the latter composed it in the 
person or the spirit of David. See above, on Ps. lxxxiv. 1. 
The same hypothesis is used by these interpreters to explain the 
many forms of expression borrowed from other psalms of David ; 
as if the Sons of Ivor ah meant to comfort him by the repetition of 
his own consolatory words in other cases. Compare 2 Cor. i. 4. 
The psalm admits of no minute or artificial subdivision. The only 
marked diversity of the parts is, that in vs. 1 — 10, petition is com- 
bined with argument, whereas in vs. 11 — 17, it is more unmixed. 
The first ground or reason is derived, in this verse, from the ur- 
gency of the necessity. At the same time, there is a tacit claim to 
God's protection, on the ground that he who asks it is one of his 
own people. According to the usage of the psalms, the afflicted 
and the needy denote sufferers among God's people. See above, 
en Ps. x. 2. 


2. Keep my soul, for a gracious one (am) I ; save thy servant, 
even thou, my God, the (servant) trusting in thee. He prays for 
the safe-keeping of his soul or life, because it was this that the 
enemy threatened. See below, v. 14. The grounds assigned are 
two, or rather one exhibited in two forms. The first is, that he 
is a (- H ^n) saint or gracious one, a merciful object of God's mercy. 
See above, on Ps. lxxxv. 8 (7.) The other is that, as a servant 
of Jehovah, he believes and trusts in him alone. The original 
expression is not in but to or towards thee, as if implying that 
the believer turns or looks away from every other ground of con- 
fidence to God alone. The same construction occurs twice above, 
inPs. iv. 6 (5.)xxxi. 7(6.) 

3. Be gracious unto me, oh Lord, for unto thee will I cry all 
.the day. The prayer is still substantially the same, but enforced 

by two additional reasons ; one implied in the divine name used, 
to wit, that God is his sovereign and as such bound to protect his 
subject ; the other expressed, namely, that his subject never 
ceases to invoke his aid. The future meaning of the verb includes 
the present, but suggests the additional idea of determination to 
pursue the same course till the blessing is obtained. Compare 
Gen. xxxii. 27 (26.) Luke xviii. 1. All the day is a common 
idiomatic phrase equivalent to all the time in English, and may 
therefore be considered as including, though it does not formally 
express, the idea of every day or daily. See above, on Ps. xlii. 
4, 11 (3, 10.) 

4. Gladden the soul of thy servant, for unto thee, Lord, my soul 
do I raise. The first clause is not a mere periphrasis for " make 
me glad," or "cause me to rejoice." It means "make me 
heartily rejoice, because I am thy servant," thus suggesting a new 
ground of his petition, different in form although substantially 
identical with that in the preceding verse. A similar analogy 
exists between the second clause of that verse and the second 


clause of this, the form of which, however, is borrowed from Ps. 
xxv. 1. Here, as there, to raise the soul to God is to regard 
him with affection and strong confidence. See above, on Ps. 
xxiv. 4. At the same time, there is an allusion to the strict 
sense of the Hebrew verb, as if he had said, < make my soul re- 
joice, since I bring it up or raise it to thee for this very pur- 
pose.' The force of the future is the same as in v. 4. 

5. For thou, Lord, art good and forgiving and rich in mercy 
to all {those) invoking thee. God is not only the sovereign of 
his people, and as such bound by covenant to protect them, but 
benevolent or good in his own nature ; and that not merely in 
the general, or in reference to all his creatures, but especially in 
reference to the undeserving and the ill-deserving ; that is, to 
such of them as really desire his favour, and evince their willing- 
ness to have it by the act of asking for it. Rich (in) mercy, 
literally, great (or much, abundant, plenteous, as to) mercy. 
This expression, and indeed the whole description, is borrowed 
from Ex. xxxiv. 6. 

6. Give ear, Jehovah, to my prayer, and attend (or hearken) to 
the voice of my supplications. The same verbs are used in a 
similar connection, Ps. v. 2, 3 (1, 2.). The last word in Hebrew, 
according to its etymology, denotes specifically prayers for favour, 
grace, or mercy. See above, on Ps. xxviii. 6. xxxi. 23 (22.) 
There is no new ground or argument suggested here, beyond what 
is implied in the use of the word just explained, and of the divine 
name in the first clause. 

7. In the day of my distress I will invoke thee, for thou wilt 
answer me. The future includes the present, I do and will in- 
voke thee, call thee to my aid, or call upon thee for assistance. 
The second clause assigns the reason, namely, his conviction that 
he shall not call in vain. The implied ground of this convic- 


tion is, that he never does and never did call, in the exercise of 
faith, without being favourably heard or answered. 

8. There is none like thee among the gods, oh Lord , and nothing 
like thy works (among their works.) This last, which might seem 
to be needed to complete the sense and the parallelism, was sup- 
pressed perhaps in order to suggest the idea, that the gods have 
no works, even the gentiles who worship them being creatures of 
Jehovah, as is expressly stated in the next verse. Even the full 
comparison, however, in the first clause, does not necessarily con- 
cede the personal existence of the gods themselves, but only that 
of their material images, or at most the belief of their besotted 
worshippers. Compare with this verse its Mosaic models, Ex. 
xv. 11. Deut. iii. 24, and the Davidic imitations of them, 2 Sam. 
vii. 22. Ps. xviii. 32 f31.) The exclusive godhead of Jehovah 
is here urged as a distinct ground or reason of importunate pe- 
tition to him. 

9. All nations which thou hast made shall come and worship he- 
fore thee, oh Lord, and give honour to thy name. The common 
relation of Jehovah to all men as their Maker, although now de- 
nied by most nations, shall be one day universally acknowledged, 
not in word merely, but in act, the most expressive act of wor- 
ship, involving a believing recognition of the previous display of 
God's perfections, in the language of the Scriptures called his 
name. This prospective view of the conversion of the world to 
the belief and service of its Maker shows how far the Old Testa- 
ment writers were from cherishing or countenancing the contracted 
nationality of the later and the less enlightened Jews. See above, 
on Ps. xxii. 28, 29 (27, 2S.)xlv. 13—17 (12— 16.) xlvii. 10 (9), 
and compare Jer. xvi. 19. Zeph. ii. 11. Zech.xiv. 9, 16. 

10. For great (art) thou and doing wonders, thou (art) God 
alone. The only new idea here is the evidence afforded of Je- 


ho van's sole divinity by his miraculous performances. The for, 
at the beginning of the verse, implies that these proofs of divinity 
must sooner or later have their full effect. 

11. Guide me, Jehovah, (in) thy way ; J will walk in thy truth; 
unite my heart to fear thy name. The common version of the 
first verb (teach me) is too vague, as it fails to bring out the pe- 
culiar suitableness of the term to express the kind of teaching 
here specifically meant. The original meaning of the Hebrew 
word is to point out or mark the way. According to the usage 
of the Psalms, the way of God is here the course of his provi- 
dential dealings, and his truth the truth of his promises, to walk 
in which is to assent to them or acquiesce in them and trust them. 
See above, on Ps. xxv. 4, 5. xxvi. 3. That he may be enabled to 
do this without distraction or reserve, is the prayer of the- last 
clause. The idea of a united heart is the opposite of a double 
heart. See above, on Ps. xii. 3 (2), and compare James iv. 8. 

12. I will thank thee, oh Lord my God, with all my heart, and I 
will honour thy name forever . The first verb means not merely to 
praise in general, but to praise for benefits received. See above, 
on Ps. vi. 6 (5.) This verse describes the effect that is to follow 
from the granting of the prayer at the close of the preceding 
verse. When his heart is once united to fear God, cordial and 
perpetual thanksgiving will follow as a necessary consequence. 


13. For thy mercy (has been) great towards me, and thou hast 
freed my soul from the lowest hell. The most natural explana- 
tion of these words is that which makes them an appeal to 
former mercies as a reason for expecting new ones. If the psalm 
belongs to the period of Absalom's rebellion (see above, on v. 1), 
the reference here may be to David's dangers and deliverances 
from Saul. Towards me, literally, on one, with an implication of 
descent from above. Hell, in the wide sense of death or the state 


of the dead. See above, on Ps. vi. 6 (5.) Lowest, or lower, 
lying under, subterraneous. The expression is derived from 
Deut. xxxii. 22. "With this verse compare Ps. xviii. 6 (5.) 
lvi. 14 (13.) 

14. Oh God, proud (men) have arisen against me, and an as- 
sembly of violent (men) have sought my soul, and have not set thee 
before them. Nearly the same words had been used by David in 
reference to the Sauline persecution, Ps. liv. 5 (3). But in- 
stead of aliens, he here speaks of proud ones, and before the 
parallel term violent, oppressive, or tyrannical (Ps. xxxvii. 35), 
inserts congregation or assembly, as if to imply organization, 
both which variations agree well with the hypothesis that this 
psalm relates to the revolt of Absalom. 

15. And thou, Lord, (art) a God merciful and gracious, long- 
suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth. He here appeals to 
God's description of himself as warranting his prayer for mercy 
See Ex. xxxiv. 6, and the imitations or quotations of it by Joel 
(ii. 13) and Jonah (iv. 2.) See also Ps. lxxxv. 11 (10.) 

16. Turn towards me and be gracious to me ; give thy strength 
to thy servant, and grant salvation to the son of thy handmaid. 
The first prayer implies that God's face had previously been 
averted. Give thy strength, exercise it for his protection. The 
son of thy handmaid or female slave, i. c. a home-born and 
hereditary servant, and as such entitled to defence and sustenance. 
The expression is borrowed from Ex. xxiii. 12, and re-appears in 
Ps. cxvi. 16. The last verb is the common one meaning to save, 
but here connected with its object by the proposition to. 

17. Show me a token for good, and (then) my haters shall see 
and be shamed, because thou, Jehovah, hast helped me and comforted 
me. The phrase translated show me strictly means do with me, 


and is here used because the sign or token asked is neither a ver- 
bal declaration nor a miracle, but a practical or providential 
indication of God's favour, furnished by his dealings with him. 
The word translated good is the one used in Ps. xvi. 2, where as 
here it has the sense of physical good, welfare, happiness. A 
token for good is a pledge of its possession and enjoyment. The 
oblique construction, that my haters may see, is really included in 
the direct future. Shamed, surprised, disappointed, and con- 
founded. The preterites in the last clause have reference to the 
time when this effect shall be produced upon the enemy, and 
when the divine help and consolation shall have been already 


1. To (or by) the Sons of Korah. A Psalm. A Song. His 
foundation (is) in the hills of holiness. The first title decides 
nothing as to the date of composition. See above, on Ps. xlii. 1. 
xlvi. 1. xlvii. 1. xlviii. 1. It is not only a psalm, a religious 
lyric, but a song, i. e. a song of praise or triumph. See above, 
on Ps. lxxxiii. 1. This agrees well with the tone of the compo- 
sition, which seems to indicate some great deliverance as its his- 
torical occasion. The only one that can be fixed upon with any 
great degree of probability is that of Hezekiah from the power of 
Assyria. See above, on Ps. xlvi. 1. lxxv. 1. lxxvi. 1. In view 
of some such signal intervention in behalf of Israel, the psalm 
celebrates the actual security of Zion, vs. 1 — 3, and anticipates 
its future honours as the spiritual birth-place of the nations, vs. 
4 — 7. His foundation, that which he has founded, meaning his 

vol. ii: 12 


sanctuary and his theocratical kingdom. The plural expression, 
hills of holiness, means Zion in the wide seise, including all- the 
heights on which Jerusalem was built. It was peculiarly ap- 
propriate in this case, if the psalm was written in the reign of 
Hezekiah, because at that time Zion, in tfce strict sense, was no 
longer the exclusive residence of God or, earth. At the same 
time, there is particular reference to Zion %s thf» citadel, in which 
the strength of the royal city was concentrated 

2. Jehovah loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of 
Jacob. This description of Jehovah's choice of Zion as his 
dwelling-place is similar to that in Ps. lxxviii. 68. The gates of 
a walled city give access to it and power over it, and are there- 
fore naturally here put for the whole. The Hebrew participle 
(loving) implies constant and habitual attachment. 

3. Glorious things (have been) spoken in thee, oh City of God! 
Selah. Glorious or honourable things, in the way of prophecy 
and promise, the fulfilment of which is here implied. As if he 
had said, the promises respecting thee are great, but they are or 
shall be fully verified. So too in the other clause the meaning 
is, thou art well called the city of God, for he is in thee, to pro- 
tect and honour thee. See above, on Ps. xlvi. 5 (4.) xlviii. 2, 
9 (1, 8.) Instead of in thee some read of thee, but the former is 
entitled to the preference ; first, because it is the strict sense and 
therefore not to be rejected without reason ; then, because it 
really includes the other, but is not included in it ; lastly, be- 
cause it suggests the additional idea of the holy city, as the scene, 
no less than the theme, of the prophetic visions. 

4. I will mention Rail ab and Babylon as knowing me. Lo, 
Phzlistia and Tyre with Etftiopi i ! This {one) was lorn there. 
Interpreters are commonly agreed, thaf these are the words of 
God himself, though not expressly so announced. The first verb 


in Hebrew is a causative, I will make to be remembered, celebrate, 
commemorate. "See above, Ps. xx. S (7.) xlv. 18 (17.) lxxi. 16 
(15.) lxxvii. 12 (11.) It here means to announce or proclaim. 
To know God is to love him and to be his servant. See above, 
on Ps. xxxvi. 11 (10), and compare Isai. xix. 21. Those knowing 
him in this sense are his people. As knowing me, literally, to those 
knowing me, i. e. belonging to their number. Or the sense may be, 
for knoivers of me, I will recognize and reckon them for such. Com- 
pare the Hebrew of Ex. xxi. 2, he shall go out free, literally, for 
free, i. e. as free. The nations thus announced as belonging to 
God's people are mere samples of the whole gentile world, those 
being chosen for the purpose, who were or had been most con- 
nected with the history of Israel, and were at the same time rulino- 
powers *of antiquity. Rahab is an enigmatical name given to 
Egypt by the Prophet Isaiah. See below, on Ps. lxxxix. 11 (10), 
and compare my notes on Isai. xxx. 7. li. 9. Babylon is named 
instead of Assyria, perhaps because in Hezekiah's reign the for- 
mer began to supersede the latter as the dominant power of 
Western Asia. See my note on Isai. xxxix. 1. Compare the 
prophecy respecting Egypt and Assyria in Isai. xix. 23, 24. 
Philistia and Tyre are put together, as in Ps. lxxxiii. 8 (7.) As 
to the latter, see above, on Ps. xlv. 13 (12), and compare Isai. 
xxiii. 18. The conversion of Cush or Ethiopia had already been 
foretold by David, Ps. lxviii. 32 (31), and by Solomon, Ps. lxxii. 
10. The last words are obscure, but may be rendered clearer by 
supplying before them, as to each of these it shall be said. The 
pronoun (this) is then to be referred not to individual men, but to 
the nations as ideal persons. The idea of regeneration or spiritual 
birth, applied in the New Testament to individuals, is here ap- 
plied to nations, who are represented as born again, when received 
into communion with the church or chosen people. 

5. And of Zion it shall be said, (This) man and (that) man 
was bom in her, and Tic will establish her, the Highest. The strict 


translation of the first words is to Zion, but the subsequent use of the 
third person (in her) shows that the act described* is that of speak- 
ing of a person in his presence, yet not directly to him, or, as we 
sometimes say in English, talking at him. See above, on Ps. iii. 
3 (2.) lxxi. 10. The idiomatic phrase man and man means every 
one or each one severally. See the Hebrew of Esther i. 8, and 
compare that of Lev. xvii- 10, 13. The clause may then be un- 
derstood as asserting of individuals what had just been said of 
whole communities, or as repeating the latter, in a more emphatic 
form, for the purpose of connecting it with an additional promise, 
namely, that the church, thus enlarged by the accession of the Gen- 
tiles, shall be permanently established and secured. The pronoun 
is emphatic and is rendered more so by the epithet attached to it. 
He the Highest, or the Highest himself. The protector of the 
church is neither man nor angel, but the supreme and sovereign 
God. See above, on Ps. xlvii. 3 (2.) xlviii. 9 (8.) 

6 Jehovah shall count, in enrolling the nations : This (one) was 
born there. Selah. The theme or idea of the whole psalm, that 
Zion should yet be the birth place of all nations, is again repeated, 
under a new figure, that of registration. Compare Ez. xiii. 9. 
The meaning is that, as he counts the nations, he shall say of each, 
in turn or one by one, this one was also born there. In enrolling, 
literally writing, i. e. inscribing in a list or register. The com- 
mon version (when he writeth up the people) not only fails to 
reproduce the plural form of the last word, or to show in any way 
that more than a single nation is referred to, but ascribes the act 
of writing to the Lord himself, which, though not so inadmissible 
in a figurative passage as some writers think it, is not necessarily 
implied in the original, where the form of expression is in tkt 
writing, i. e. at the time or in the act of doing so, whether the 
act be that of God himself or merely done by his authority and 
under his direction. 


7. And singers as well as players (shall be heard saying), All 
my springs are in thee. The construction in the first clause is 
peculiar, singers as players. See above, on Ps. xlviii. 6 (5.) 
The image present to the Psalmist's mind seems to be that of a 
procession or triumphal march, composed of the nations on their 
way to Zion. At the head of this procession are the minstrels, 
who, as the spokesmen of the rest, acknowledge that the source 
of their happiness is henceforth to be sought in Zion, not as a 
mere locality, but as the place where God was pleased to mani- 
fest his gracious presence. It matters little, therefore, whether 
the closing words (in thee) be referred to God directly, or to Zion, 
as the channel through which he imparted spiritual blessings to the 
gentiles. Compare the figure of a spring or stream in Joel iv. 
18 (iii. 18.) Zech. xiii. 1. xiv. 8 Ez. xlvii. 1, and see above, on 
Ps. lxxxiv. 7 (6.) The word joined with singers admits of a two- 
fold derivation, and may either mean players upon instruments, 
or still more definitely, pipers, as the players on stringed instru- 
ments are named in the same connection, Ps. lxviii. 26 (25) ; or as 
some of the latest interpreters prefer, it may mean dancers, as this 
indication of joy was commonly practised, in connection with 
singing, not only by women but by men. See above, on Ps. xxx. 
12 (11), and below, on Ps cl, 4, and compare Ex. xv. 20. 2 Sam. 
vi. 16. The Selah at the end of the preceding verse shows 
that the variations of the main theme are concluded, and separates 
the body of the psalm from this verse, which contains the words 
neither of the Psalmist nor the Church nor God himself, but of 
the converted Gentiles. 



1. A Song. A Psalm. To (or by) the Sons of Korah. To 
the Chief Musician. Concerning afflictive, sickness. A didactic 
Psalm. By Heman the Ezrahite. The first word of this title 
elsewhere denotes a song of praise or triumph. See above, on 
Ps. xlii. 9 (8.) lxxxiii. 1. It is here prefixed, however, to the 
most despondent psalm in the collection, in which the complaints 
and lamentations are relieved by no joyful anticipations or ex- 
pressions of strong confidence. The only satisfactory explana- 
tion of these facts is afforded by the supposition, that Ps. lxxxviii 
and lxxxix were intended to constitute a pair or double psalm, 
like the first and second, third and fourth, ninth and tenth, forty- 
second and forty- third, etc. The desponding lamentations of 
P. lxxxviii are then merely introductory to the cheering expec- 
tations of Ps. lxxxix. This supposition also explains the un- 
usual length of the inscription now before us, the first part of 
which may then be considered as belonging to both psalms, while 
the last clause corresponds to the title of Ps. lxxxix. Afflictive 
sichiesSy literally, sickness to afflict or humble. For the figurative 
use of sickness, and the sense of this inscription, see above, on 
Ps. liii. 1. Heman the Ezrahite is mentioned, with Asaph and 
Ethan, as chief musicians in the reign of David, 1 Chron. vi. 
18 (33.) xv. 17. xvi. 41, 42. The Heman and Ethan, spoken 
of in 1 Chron. ii. 6 as Ezrahitcs (i. e. sons of Zcrah), and in 
1 King v. 11 as eminent for wisdom, are supposed by some to be 


different persons, because they were of the tribe of Judah, while 
others suppose that they were Levites adopted into that tribe 
The Psalm before us neither requires nor admits of any minute 
or artificial subdivision. 

2 (1.) Jehovah, God of my salvation, (by) day have I cried, 
and by night, before thee. God of my salvation, the God in 
whom I trust to save me, because he is a saving God, or God my 
Saviour. See above, on Ps. lxxxv. 5 (4.) Day and by night 
are related to each other here, as night and by day are in Ps. 
lxxvii. 3 (2.) Before thee implies that his cries were not mere 
instinctive expressions of distress, but prayers addressed to God. 
With the whole verse compare Ps. xxii. 3 (2.) 

3 (2.) Let my prayer come before thee ; incline thine ear unto my 
cry. The first petition is that his prayer may attract the divine 
attention, which is varied in the last clause by the figure of one 
bending down to catch a faint or distant cry. See above, on Ps 
xvii. 6. xxxi. 3 (2.) lxxi. 2. 

4 (3.) For sated with evils is my soul, and my life to the gram 
draws near. Evils, sufferings, distresses. As life is plural in 
Hebrew, it can be construed regularly with the plural verb ; but 
as this is properly a causative, it may also be construed with 
evils, or with men indefinitely, they have brought my life near to 
the grave. The first construction is favoured by the analogy of 
Ps. cvii. 18. The grave, sheol, the state of the dead. See 
above on Ps. vi. 6 (5.) 

5(4.) I am reckoned with those going down to the pit ; lam 
(or am become) as a man with no strength. With the first clause 
compare Ps. xxviii. 1. cxliii. 7. With no strength, literally, (to 
whom) there is no strength. The last word in Hebrew occurs only 
here, but a cognate form in Ps. xxii. 20 (19.) There is in the 



original an antithesis, which cannot be conveyed by mere transla- 
tion, arising from the fact that the first word for man is one 
implying strength. 

6 (5.) With (or among) the dead, free, like the slain, lying in 
the grave, whom thou rcmemlercst no more, and, they by (or from) 
thy hand are cut off. As to be God's servant is the highest privi- 
lege and honour (Ps. Ixxxvi. 16), so to be free from his service 
(Job iii. 19) is to be miserable. The reference is not to death 
in general, but to death by violence and as a punishment. The 
slain, literally, the (mortally) wounded. See above, on Ps. lxix. 
27 (26.) The latter half of the verse contains a strong poetical 
description of the wicked, as no longer the objects of God's pro- 
tecting care. ,Of the two translations, from and by thy hand, the 
first conveys the same idea with the foregoing words, while the 
second represents the destruction of God's enemies as the work 
of his own hands. 

7 (6.) Thou hast placed me in a deep pit, in dark places, in 
abysses. A deep pit, literally, a pit of low or under places. See 
above, on Ps. lxiii. 10 (9.) Ixxxvi. 13, and compare Ez. xxvi. 20. 
The dark places are those of the invisible and lower world. 
Abysses, deeps, or depths of water. See above, on Ps. lxix. 3 (2.) 

8 (7.) Upon me weighs thy wrath, and [with) all thy waves 
thou dost oppress me. Selah. The word translated waves cor- 
responds etymologically to breakers. See above, on Ps. xlii. 
8 (7.) With the first clause compare Ps. xxxviii. 3 (2.) The 
verb to oppress or afflict is applied in historical prose to the op- 
pression of Israel in Egypt, Gen. xv. 13. Ex. i. 12. The in- 
finitive of the same verb occurs in the title of the psalm before us. 
The Selah indicates the depth of his distress, and the necessity 
of a pause before resuming the description. 


9 (8.) Thou hast put far my acquaintances from me; thou hast 
made me an abomination to them; (I am) shut up and cannot come 
forth. The circumstance complained of in the first clause, is one 
often mentioned as an aggravation of distress. See above, on Ps. 
xxxi. 12 (1 1 .) xxxviii. 12 (1 1 .) lxix. 9 (8), and compare Ps. xxvii. 10. 
The next clause shows that he complains of something more than 
mere neglect. Made me, literally, put or placed me. See above, 
on Ps. xxxix. 9 (8.) There may be an allusion to the statement 
in the history, that the Israelites were an abomination, an object 
of religious detestation and abhorrence, to their Egyptian- mas- 
ters. See Gen. xliii. 32. xlvi. 34. The last clause is by some 
understood to mean, I am encompassed by inextricable diffi- 
culties. Compare Lam. iii. 7. Job. iii. 23. Others, with more 
probability, connect it with what goes before, and understand the 
sense to be, that he is not willing to expose himself to this un- 
merited hatred and contempt. See Job. xxxi. 34, and compare 
Ps. xliv. 14 (13.) lxxx. 7 (6.) 

10 (9.) My eye decays by reason of affliction ; I invoke thee, oh. 
Jehovah, every day ; I spread out unto thee my hands. With the 
first clause compare Ps. vi. S (7.) xxxi. 10 (9.) xxxviii. 11 (10.) 
lxix. 4 (3.) With the last compare Ps. xliv. 21 (20.) The 
first Hebrew verb is one of rare occurrence ; a derivative noun 
is used by Moses, Dent, xxviii. 65. The preterites represent the 
suffering as no new thing but one of long continuance. 

11 (10.) Wilt thou to the dead do wonders, or shall ghosts 
arise (and; thank thee ? Selah. The argument implied is that 
the present life is the appropriate time for those favours which 
belong to it. See above, on Ps. vi. 6 (5.) The word Rephaim, 
in the last clause, is the name of a Canaanitish race <^f giants, but 
is applied poetically to the gigantic shades or spectres of the 
dead. See my note on Isai. xiv. 9. Do wonders, literally, won- 
der, as in Ps. lxxvii. 12 (11.) 


12 (11. J Shall thy mercy be recounted in the gvave, thy faith- 
fulness in destruction! The last word (Abaddon) appears else- 
where in conjunction with the grave and death, as a poetical 
equivalent. See Prov. xv. 11. Job. xxvi. 0. xxviii. 22. 

13 (12.) Shall thy wonders be known in the dark, and thy 
righteousness in the land of for get fulness 1 These are varied 
metaphorical descriptions of the state of death, considered neg- 
atively as the privation or the opposite of life. Darkness is here 
opposed to the light of life or of 'the living , Ps. lvi. 14 (13.) The 
land of forgetfulness, where men forget, Ecc. ix. 5, 6, 10, and 
are forgotten, Ps. xxxi. 13 (12.) 

14 (13.) And I unto thee, oh Jehovah, have cried, and in the 
morning shall my prayer come before thee. What he has done he 
is still resolved to do, as the only means of safety. Hence the 
alternation of the preterite and future. The first verb means to 
cry for help. See above, on Ps. xviii. 42 (41.) With the last 
clause compare Ps. v. 4 (3.) lvii. 9 (S.) lix. 17 (16.) The verb 
has its proper sense of coming before one or into his presence 
See above, on Ps. xvii. 13. xviii. 6 (5.) xxi. 4 (3.) 

15. (14.) Why, oh Jehovah, wilt thou reject my soul, wilt thou 
hide thy face from me ? The first verb means to reject with xb- 
horrence. See above, on Ps. xliii. 2 xliv. 10, 24 (9, 23.) Ix. 
3, 12 (1, 10.) lxxiv. 1. lxxvii. S (7.) The question implies that 
such rejection would be inconsistent with God's faithfulness, and 
is therefore not expressive of entire despondence. 

16 (15.) Wretched (am) I and expiring from childhood ; I 
have borne thy terrors ; I despair. Expiring, ready to perish, at 
the point of'death, a strong description of extreme distress. The 
childhood may be that of the individual sufferer, or of Israel as a 
nation (Flos. xi. 1.) Both applications may have boen intended. 


17 (16.) Over me have passed thine indignations; thy terrors 
have destroyed me. The image in the first clause is the same as 
in Ps. xlii. S (7.) Indignations, literally, heats or inflammations, 
but always applied to anger. The plural occurs only here. The 
unusual form of the last verb is supposed by some to have been 
coined by the writer, for the sake of an allusion to Lev, xxv. 23, 

18 (17.) They have surrounded me like waters all the day ; they 
have encompassed me at once (or all together.) The figure of over- 
whelming waves is still continued. The subject of the verbs can 
only be the indignations and the terrors of v. 17 (16. J 

19 (IS.) Thou hast put far from me lover and friend ; my ac- 
quaintances (are) darkness (or a dark place.) The first clause is 
a repetition of v. 9 (8.) The other is obscure, and is supposed 
by some to mean, my acquaintances Vanish, disappear in dark- 
ness ; by others, my acquaintances give way to darkness, are suc- 
ceeded by it ; my only friend is now the dark j)lace, i. e. the grave 
or death. Thus understood, the sentiment is not unlike that in 
Job xvii 14. 


1 Maschil. By Ethan the Ezrahite. From the fact that 
Ethan and Jeduthun are both named with Asaph and Heman, but 
never named together, it has been inferred that they are two names 
of the same person, or rather that Ethan is the personal name, 
and Jeduthun (derived from a verb which means to praise) the 
official title. Heman and Ethan are both described as Ezrahites, 
i. c adopted sons of Zerah, 1 Chron. ii. 5, but by birth were no 


doubt both Sons of Korah, 1 Chron. vi. 18, 22 (33, 37.) Tj the 
lamentations and complaints of Hem an in the first part of this 
double psalm (Ps. lxxxviii) is now added an appeal to the divine 
promise by Ethan in the psalm before us. The particular promise 
here insisted on is that in 2 Sam. vii, which constitutes the basis 
of all the Messianic Psalms. The hypothesis of Hengstenberg 
and others, that the psalm was composed in the interval between 
the death of Josiah and the Babylonish exile, by the Korhites of 
that period, who merely assumed the name and breathed the 
spirit of their great progenitors, could be justified only by extreme 
exegetical necessity, which does not here exist, since nothing is 
more natural than to assume, that these psalms were nearly con- 
temporaneous with the promise itself, and intended to anticipate 
misgivings and repinings, which, although they existed even then in 
germ, were not developed till the period of decline began, or ra- 
ther till it was approaching its catastrophe. By far the larger 
part of this psalm is occupied in amplifying and expounding the 
great Messianic promise, vs. 2 — 38 (1 — 37), while the remainder, 
like Ps. lxxxviii, teaches the chosen people how to apply it, in 
their times of suffering and despondency, vs. 39 — 53 (38 — 52), 
a feature of the composition which fully warrants its description 
in the title as a maschilor didactic psalm. 

2(1.) The mercies of Jehovah forever will I sing ; to generation 
and generation will I make known thy faithfulness icilh my mouth. 
The mercies particularly meant are the favours promised to David 
as the progenitor and type of the Messiah. The faithfulness men- 
tioned in the other clause is that of God in the fulfilment of these 
promises. Compare my note on Isai. lv. 3, where the same idea 
is expressed by the sure mercies of David. Forever, literally 
eternity, the noun being used adverbially, as its plural is in Ps. lxi. 
5 (4.) The promise of perpetual commemoration shows that the 
Psalmist speaks not only for himself but for the church of which 
he is the mouth or spokesman. 


3 (2.) For I have said. Forever shall mercy he huiit up. The 
heavens — thou wilt fix thy faithfulness in them. The church will 
celebrate God's mercy and faithfulness forever, because they will 
endure forever. I have said, i. e. this is the view of the matter 
I have taken and expressed already. The scheme of God's gra- 
cious dispensations is conceived of as a building, already founded 
and hereafter to be carried up to its completion. The emphatic 
construction of the heavens as an absolute nominative (as to the 
heavens, thou wilt fix etc.) is inadequately represented in the com- 
mon version (shalt thou establish in the very heavens.) For the 
proverbial use of the heavens and the heavenly bodies as a stand- 
ard of permanence and immutability, see above, on Ps. Ixxii. 5. 
The idea here is, thou shalt make thy faithfulness as fixed and 
stable as the frame of nature. 

4 (3.) I have ratified a covenant with my chosen (one) ; I have 
sworn unto David my servant. These are the words of God him- 
self, though not expressly so described, as in v. 20 (19) below. 
We have here a summary statement of the substance of the pro- 
mise in 2 Sam. vii, upon which this and the other Messianic 
psalms are founded. Ratified cv covenant, see above, on Ps. 1. 5. 
With my chosen, literally, to my chosen, as in the parallel expres- 
sion, because what is here called a covenant was really a condi- 
tional promise or engagement upon God's part. My servant, i. e 
my chosen and appointed instrument in executing my designs. 
See above, on Ps. xviii. 1, and compare Ps. lxxxvi. 16. 

5 (4.) Unto eternity will I confirm thy seed, and build, to gene- 
ration and generation, thy throne. Selah. Confirm thy seed, 
establish thy descendants in the permanent possession of the royal 
dignity. The same two verbs which, in the foregoing verse, are 
applied to the divine grace and fidelity, are here applied directly 
to their objects, the throne and family of David. 

6(5) And the heavens acknowledge thy wonders, Jehovah ; 


likewise thy faithfulness (is acknowledged) in the assembly of holy 
(ones.) The promise just cited is entitled to men's confidence, 
because the omnipotence and faithfulness of Him who uttered it 
are thankfully acknowledged by superior beings. The parallel- 
ism of heavens and holy ones shows that the former are here put 
for their inhabitants. For the true meaning of the first verb, see 
above, on Ps. vi. 6 (5), and for that of the following noun, on Ps. 
Ixxvii. 12 (11.) lxxxviii. 11 (10.) Wonders or miracles are 
here referred to, as proofs of a mighty power. The and, also, 
at the beginning of the clauses, have the force of even, yea, in our 
idiom. The word translated holy ones is entirely different from 
that usually rendered saints. The latter is always applied to men, 
the former usually to superior beings, i. e. angels. See Deut. 
xxxiii. 2, 3. Dan. viii. 13. Zech. xiv. 5. Job. iv. 18. xv. 15. 

7. (6.) For who, in the shy, can compare to Jehovah ? (Who) is 
like to Jehovah among the Sons of the Mighty ? The question in- 
volves a strong negation, or an affirmation that there is none like 
him, even in the orders of existence superior to man. This is 
given as a reason for the adoring recognition of his power and 
veracity in v. 6 (5.) The word translated sky is elsewhere used 
in the plural to denote the clouds collectively. See above, on 
Ps. lxviii. 35 (34.) Ixxvii. iS (17.) lxxviii. 23. The singular 
form, in this sense, is peculiar to the psalm before us. See be- 
low, v. 38 (37.) The twofold usage of the English verb compare, 
as active and neuter, corresponds exactly to that of the original 
expression, for the primary and proper sense of which, see above 
on Ps. v. 4 (3.) xl. 6 (5.) 1. 21. The Sons of the Mighty or 
Almighty are the angels. As to the peculiar form of the de- 
scription, sec above, on Ps. xxix. l,from which it seems to be di- 
rectly borrowed in the case before us. 

8 (7.) A God to le dreaded in the secret council of (his) holy 
(ones) greatly, and to be feared above all (those) about him. This 


is not a distinct proposition, but a further description of the 
Being pronounced in the foregoing verse to be incomparable. The 
divine name (;s) here used implies that what makes him so terri- 
ble is his infinite power. The angels are again called holy ones, 
but furthermore described as the privy council, the confidential 
intimates, of God himself. See above, on Ps. xxv. 14. lv. 15 (14.) 
lxxxiii. 4 (3.) Yet even to these, as being endlessly superior, 
he is and ought to be an object of adoring fear. The intensive 
adverb greatly is the same with that in Ps. lxii. 3, and like it is 
placed emphatically at the end of the clause. Compare Ps. xlviii. 
2 (1.) lxv. 10 (9.) Above may either mean more than, or by, 
with an implication of his vast superiority as the cause or reason. 
Those about him,\. e. those immediately surrounding him, his hea- 
venly attendants, the angels. See the same expression, in a 
somewhat different application, Ps. Ixxvi. 12 (11.) 

9 (8.) Jehovah, Goal of Hosts, uho (is) like thee, mighty, J ah, 
and thy faithfulness (is) round about thee. The infinite superi- 
ority of God to men and angels is here expressed, or rather indi- 
cated, by an accumulation of descriptive titles. We have here 
the full phrase, Jehovah God of Hosts, which occurs so frequently 
in an abreviated form. See above, on Ps. xxiv. 10. The word 
translated mighty is used only here ; but its sense is clear from the 
analogy of cognate forms, confirmed by the testimony of the an- 
cient versions. As to Jah, the pregnant abbreviation or concen- 
tration of Jehovah, see above, on Ps. lxviii. 5 (4.) It may here 
be in apposition either with Jehovah, as a vocative, or with Jah, 
as a descriptive title. < Who is like thee, a mighty one, oh Jah ?' 
Or, ' who like thee is mighty, who like thee is Jah ?» Faithful- 
ness, as elsewhere, is veracity or truth in the fulfilment of a pro- 
mise. The word translated round about is the feminine or neuter 
form of that used in the preceding verse, and there applied to per- 
sons. The meaning of the whole clause is that God's fidelity is 
never absent from him but appears wherever he does, the proofs 


of its existence beins; visible on all hands. The English Bible 
supplies a preposition and assumes a second question, 'who is like 
thy faithfulness round about thee ?' But the other construction, 
which is that adopted in the ancient versions, is much simpler 
and more natural, the ellipsis of the preposition in such cases being 
rare, whereas that of the substantive verb is the general rule of 
Hebrew syntax, to which its insertion is a mere exception. 

10 (9.) Thou rulest the swell of the sea; in the rise of its waves 
thou stillest them. The general declaration of God's power is now 
rendered more distinct by specifying one of the most striking 
forms in which it manifests itself. At the same time, there is no 
doubt an allusion to the scriptural usage of the sea as an emblem 
of the world and its conflicting powers. See above, on Ps. xlvi. 
3, 4 (2, 3.) lxv. 8 (7.) The appropriateness of the words both 
to physical and moral changes affords an easy and beautiful transi- 
tion to the latter in the next verse. The verbal form at the be- 
ginning is a participle, thou (art) ruling, i. e. habitually, con- 
stantly. The connective particle may be retained by rendering 
it rulest over. The first noun is applied elsewhere (Ps. xvii. 10) 
to the swelling or elation of the heart with pride ; but that this is 
only a derived and secondary meaning may be gathered from the 
use of the same word to denote the loftiness or majesty of God 
(Ps. xciii. 1), and also from the application of the verbal root to 
the rise of water in an inundation (Ez. xlvii. 5.) The parallel 
term is an abbreviated infinitive used as a noun, and therefore 
well represented by the English rise, which is also both noun and 

11 (10.) Thou didst crush, like the slain, Rahab ; with thine 
arm of strength thou didst scatter thy foes. This relates wholly 
to the sea of nations, in which Egypt stands first, as the earliest 
national enemy of Israel, and also perhaps because the power of 
Pharaoh, at the exodus, was literally broken in the sea. The 


first verb means to shatter, crush, or break in pieces. See above, 
Ps. lxxii. 4. The pronoun is emphatic ; (it was) thou (and none 
other that) didst crush, etc. The significant name JZahap, mean- 
ing pride or insolence, corresponds to the swelling of the sea, in 
the foregoing verse. See above, on Ps. lxxxvii. 4. Like the 
slain, like one mortally wounded, especially in battle. See 
above, on Ps. lxxxviii. 6 (5.) The point of comparison is the 
sudden change from overbearing arrogance to helplessness and 
weakness. _ Thine arm of strength, or strong arm, the active ex- 
ertion of thy power. See above, on Ps. x. 15. xxxvii. 17. xliv. 
4 (3.) Ixxxiii. 9 (8.) The last verb belongs to the dialect of 
poetry, and occurs above, in Ps. liii. 6 (5.) See below, Ps. cxii. 
9. cxli. 7. This verse relates only indirectly to the enemies of 
God in general. Even the last clause has specific reference to 
the enemies who perished in the Red Sea. 

12 (11.) To thee (belongs) heaven, also to thee earth, the world 
and its fulness, thou didst found them. The power of God is now 
described as universal and creative. Heaven and earth is the 
usual comprehensive phrase for the whole frame of nature or 
material universe. The last clause is evidently borrowed from 
Ps. xxiv. 1. Its fulness, that which occupies and fills it, its con- 
tents and its inhabitants. The verb to found suggests the two 
ideas of creation and sustentation. He not only called them into 
being, but made them permanent or lasting. See above, Qjp. Ps. 
Ixxviii. 69, and below, on Ps. civ. 5. The world, the cultivated 
and productive earth, as opposed to the desolate and barren sea. 
The English Bible, following the masoretic accents, construes 
the world and its fulness as absolute nominatives. A simpler con- 
struction is to put them in apposition with heaven and earth, and 
refer the pronoun at the end to all these antecedents. 

13 (12.) North andPsoibth, thou didst create them ; Tabor and 
llermon in thy name rejoice. The pronoun at the end of the first 


clause is superfluous in English ; the original construction re- 
quires north and south to be taken absolutely, (as for) the north 
and south, thou hast created them. The word for north originally 
means concealment ; that for south the right hand. The east 
and west are represented by two mountains on either side of 
Jordan. As to Hermon, see above, on Ps. xlii. 7 (6.) The 
points of the compass are here put, like heaven and earth in the 
preceding context, for the whole world, and described as rejoicing 
in God's name, i. e. praising his perfections by their very exist- 

14 (13.) To thee (is) an arm with strength ; strong is thy hand, 
high is thy right hand. This is simply another declaration of the 
divine omnipotence, under the usual emblems, arm, hand, and 
right-hand. See above, on v. 11 (10.) 

15 (14.) Justice and judgment (are) the place of thy throne; 
mercy and truth shall go before thy face. The word translated 
place may also have the more specific sense of dwelling-place. 
The meaning is that God reigns in the midst of perfect righteous- 
ness. See above, on v. 9 (8. ) The verb in the last clause al- 
ways means to go or come before, sometimes in the sense of com- 
ing into one's presence, sometimes in that of meeting or encoun- 
tering, sometimes (as here) in that of being a forerunner. See 
above, on Ps. lxxxv. 14 (13.) 

16 (15.) Happy the people knowing joyful noise ; Jehovah, in 
the light of thy face they shall wall:. The unusual expression in 
the first clause seems to mean those who know how and have 
occasion to rejoice in the experience of God's favour. The last 
noun in Hebrew denotes any loud expression of exultation, either 
by voice or instrument. See above, on Ps. xxvii. 6. The light 
of God's face is the cheering expression of his countenance as 
indicating favour or benignity. See above, on Ps. iv. 7 (6.) 


xliii. 3 xliv. 4 (3.) To walk in this light is to live in the ha- 
bitual enjoyment of it. This last clause gives the reason for their 
being pronounced happy in the first. 

17 (16.) In thy name they shall rejoice all the day, and in thy 
righteousness shall be exalted. In thy name, in the display of thy 
perfections. In thy righteousness, i. e. in the exercise of that 
essential rectitude which secures the performance of God's promise 
and thereby the salvation of his people. 

18 (17.) For the beauty of their strength {art) thou and in thy 
favour thou wilt lift our horn. God is at once their mighty 
ornament and their glorious protection. See above, on Ps. 
Ixxviii. 61. In thy favour , at the time, and by the means, of thy 
experienced favour. Lift our horn, enable us to triumph in se- 
curity. See above, on Ps. lxxv. 11 (10), and below, on Ps. 
xcii. 11 (10.) 

19 (18.) For unto Jehovah (belongs) our shield, and to the 
Holy One of Israel our king. Our protectors are themselves 
protected by Jehovah. This construction is much simpler and 
more natural than that adopted in the English versions, which 
entirely overlooks the preposition in both clauses, or arbitrarily 
resrards it as a siim of the nominative case. A better construe- 
tion, although not precisely the true sense, is given in the mar- 
gin of the English Bible. 

20 (19.) Then thou spakest in vision to thy gracious one and 
saidst, I have laid help on a Mighty (Man) ; I have raised 
one chosen from (among) the people. The Psalmist here returns 
to the vocation by David and the promise made to him. See 
2 Sam. vii. 17 (compare 1 Chron. xvii. 9), where the divine 
communication made through Nathan to David is called a vision. 
Thy saint or gracious one may signify either of these persons. 


The ancient versions, followed by the Prayer Book and some 
eminent interpreters, have the plural form instead of the singular, 
thy saints, meaning Israel at large, to whom the promise was truly 
addressed. See 2 Sam. vii. 10. 1 Chr. xvii. 9. To lay help upon 
one is to impart it to him, with a strong implication of descent 
from above. See above, on Ps. xxi. 6 (5.) The gift in thi3 
case was not merely for himself, but for others through hi? 
agency. God helped him to help the people. Chosen has here 
its strict sense, but not without allusion to its specific use as sig- 
nifying a young warrior. See above, on Ps. lxxviii. 31, 63. 

21 (20.) I have found David my servant ; with my holy oil 
have I anointed him. This verse removes all doubt as to the per- 
son primarily intended in the foregoing verse, but without ex- 
cluding his successors, and especially the last and greatest of 
them, to whom the royal dignity was given in the unction of 
David. See 1 Sam. xvi. 13. This act denoted not only con- 
secration to the divine service, but the spiritual gifts required in 
order to its right performance. See above, on Ps. ii. 2. 

22 (21.) With whom my hand shall he ever present ; also my 
arm shall strengthen him. Ever present, literally, established, 
permanently fixed. See below, v. 38 (37), and above, Ps. 
lxxviii. 37. The hand and arm, as usual, are emblems of 
strength. See above, on vs. 11, 14 (10, 13.) 

23 (22.) The enemy shall not vex him, and the son of iniquity 
shall not afflict him. The verb in the first clause means specifi- 
cally to annoy or persecute as a creditor his debtor. The second 
clause is copied, almost word for word, from 2 Sam. vii. 10. Com- 
pare 1 Chr. xvii. 9. 

24 (23.) And 1 will crush before him his foes, and his haters I 


will smite. The last verb is especially applied to strokes inflict- 
ed by the hand of God. 

25 (24.) And my faithfulness and my mercy (shall be) with 
him, and in my name shall his horn he high. See above, on vs. 
17, IS (16, 17.) Faithfulness and mercy are combined, as in 
Ps. lxxxviii. 12 (11.) 

26 (25.) And I will set in the sea his hand, and in the floods 
his right hand. I will cause him to lay hands upon them, and 
exercise authority over them, as his own possession and domain. 
Hand and right hand, as in v. 14 (13.) Sea and floods, streams, 
or rivers, as in Ps. xxiv. 2. The watery parts of the earth are 
here put for the whole. Compare 1 Chr. xiv. 17. 

27 (26.) Tie shall call me (or cry unto me), Thou art my 
Father, my God, and the rock of my salvation. The emphatic 
pronouns in the original bring out more clearly the mutual rela- 
tion and reciprocal action of the parties. With the first clause 
compare 2 Sam. vii. 14. 1 Chr. xxii. 10. Job xvii. 14. With the 
second compare Ps. xviii. 3 (2.) xxxi. 3 (2.) The rock of my 
salvation, the rock that saves me, the hiding-place and strong- 
hold where my safety lies. 

2S (27.) Also J (as my) first-born will give him, higher than 
kings of the earth. He shall be treated not only as the son but 
as the eldest son of God himself. The same description is ap- 
plied elsewhere to Israel (Ex. iv. 22), to Ephraim (Jer. xxxi. 9), 
and to Christ (Heb. i. 6.) The last clause is borrowed, both in 
form and substance, from Deut. xxviii. 1 (compare xxix. 16) ; 
but instead of high above, we have here high as to, in reference 
to (or in comparison with) the kings of the e;irih. 

29 (2S.) Forever will I keep for him my mercy, and my cove- 


nant is sure to him. Forever, literally, to eternity. Keep, i. e. 
keep it in reserve for him. My covenant, or conditional promise. 
See above, on v. 4 (3.) Sure, or more exactly, made sure, rati- 
fied, confirmed. Compare Isai. lv. 3. 

30 (29.) And I will establish forever his seed, and his throne as 
the days of heaven. See 2 Sam. vii. 12. The promise is now 
extended from David to his posterity. Establish, literally, set or 
place. , The pronoun in the second clause may refer either to 
David or his seed. In the latter case, it might be rendered its or 
their throne. The question, however, is purely grammatical, since 
the throne of David and the throne of his descendants are identi- 
cal. In the last clause the idea of duration is again expressed by 
a reference to the stability of nature. See above, on Ps. lxxii 
5, 7, 17, and compare Deut. xi. 21. 

31 — 33 (30 — 32.) If his sons forsake my law, and in my judg- 
ments will not walk; if my statutes iliey prof ane, and my com- 
mandments will not keep ; then will I visit with a rod their trans- 
gression, and with stripes their guilt. The promise of perpetual 
favour to the house of David was not intended to ensure impunity 
to its unfaithful members. To profane God's statutes is to deny 
in theory or practice, their sacred obligation and divine authority. 
The and at the commencement of the last verse is equivalent to 
then in English after a conditional clause. The whole passage 
is an amplification of 2 Sam. vii. 14. 

34 (33.) And my mercy I will not withdraw from him, and will 
not prove false (or deal falsely) in my faith. Our idiom requires 
a but to render clear the relation of this sentence to the foregoing 
context. The verb in the first clause means to break or violate, 
but construed, as it here is, with the preposition from, suggests 
the idea of breaking an engagement by withdrawing what was 
stipulated to be given and secured. Faith in the last clause 


means fidelity or truth, as in the phrases, good faith, keep faith^ 
etc. See above, on Ps. xliv. 18 (17.) The promise in this verse 
is not to them hut him, not to the sinning individuals mentioned just 
before, but to the family or race as such, to David as still living 
in his natural descendants. Compare 1 Kings xi. 36. 2 Kings 
viii. 19. 2 Chr. vi. 42. Isai. xxxvii. 35. 

35 (34.) I will not profane my covenant, and the utterance of 
my lips I will not change. In the first clause there is obvious al- 
lusion to v. 32 (31.) What God requires of them he renders to 
them. The engagement is reciprocal. As they are not to pro- 
fane his covenant by breaking it, neither will He. The obliga- 
tion is a sacred one on both sides. See below, -on the next 
verse, and above, on Ps. lv. 21 (20.) The utterance or outgoing 
of the lips is a technical expression of the Law, in reference to oral 
vows and other engagements. See Num. xxx. 13 (12.) Deut. 
xxiii. 24 (23.) It is a stronger expression than that which I have 
said or promised, although this is really the meaning here. I will 
not change, evade the execution of my promise by altering its 
terms or its conditions. Compare the form of expression in Ps 
xv. 4. 

36 (35.) One (thing) have I sworn in my holiness, I will not 
lie unto David. The first word in Hebrew is not an adverb of time 
(lincis, semel, once), but a numeral adjective in the feminine form, 
used as the neuter is in Greek and Latin. See above, on Ps. 
xxvii. 4. i Whatever else may fail, there is one thing that cannot, 
for I have sworn that it shall come to pass.' In my holiness, as a 
holy God, including all divine perfection, but with special reference 
to moral rectitude. See above, on Ps. Ix. 8 (6.) The last verb 
might be rendered, I cannot lie. See Num. xxiii. 19. 1 Sam. xv. 
29, and compare Heb. vi. 18. vii. 20, 21. The form of the ori- 
ginal is highly idiomatic, if I lie unto David. Compare the He- 
brew of 1 Sam. xxiv. 7 (6.) 2 Sam. iii. 35, 


37 (36.) His seed to eternity shall he ; and his throne as the sun 
before me. See above, on v. 30 (29), and compare Ps. xlv. 7 
(6.) Shall be, shall continue to exist. Or the whole phrase may 
mean, shall be eternal. As the sun, see above, on Ps. lxxii. o, 
17. Before me, in my sight and under my protection. 

3S (37.) As the moon is fixed eternally, and the icitness in the 
sky is sure. The verse, thus translated, does not repeat the pro- 
mise in the one before it, but merely confirms it by a further 
reference to the course of nature, as the customary standard of 
duration. It is equally grammatical, however, to translate, as the 
moon it (the throne) shall be fixed forever, and (as) the witness in 
heaven is sure. In either case the witness is the moon. See 
above, on v. 7 (6), 29 (28), and compare Ps. lxxii. 5. 

39 (38.) And (yet) thou hast cast off and rejected ; thou art 
icroth with thine Anointed. Having fully recited and expounded 
the great promise to the bouse of David, the psalm now contrasts 
it with the present reality, and seems to complain that it had not 
been verified. For a similar transition, see above, Ps. xliv. 10 (9.) 
There is no need of confining this description to the last days of 
the kingdom of Judah, or to any other period of its history exclu- 
sively. If the psalm was really composed by Ethan, as we have 
no sufficient ground for doubting that it was, he may have design- 
edly so framed it as to suit any season of distress and danger, in 
which the theocratic sovereign seemed to be forsaken of Jehovah. 
Both verbs in the first clause signify abhorrent and contemptuous 
rejection. See above, on Ps. xv. 4. xliii. 2. xliv. 10 (9.) lxxviii. 
59, 67. Ixxxviii. 15 (14.) 

40 (39.) Thou hast broken the covenant of thy servant ; thou hast 
profaned to the earth his crown. The first verb in Hebrew occurs 
only here and Lam. ii. 7. The usual explanation is conjectural, 
or founded on the ancient versions. A cognate verb in Arabio 



means to abhor, which would be appropriate in this place. The 
covenant of thy servant, i. e. thy covenant with thy servant. See 
above, on vs. 29, 35 (28, 34.) The pregnant construction, pro- 
found to the ground, i. e. profaned by casting to the ground, occurs 
above, Ps. Ixxiv. 7. The theocratical crown was a sacred or reli- 
gious dignity, any contempt of which might therefore well be 
called a profanation. Compare what is said of the priestly diadem, 
Ex. xxviii. 36. xxix. 6. 

41 (40.) Thou hast broken down all his to alls ; thou hast made 
his defences a ruin. As the word translated walls is commonly 
used to denote the enclosures of vineyards, whether walls or 
hedges, this may be the figure here intended, which is then ex- 
changed, in the last clause, for that of a walled town, with its 
defences or defensive works, its fortifications. See above, on Ps. 
lxxx. 13 (12.) Some interpreters allege that the last word al- 
ways has the sense of terror; but it may be doubted whether it 
ever has, whereas that of ruin often occurs, particularly in the 
Book of Proverbs. 

42 (41.) All spoil him that pass by the way ; he has become a 
contempt to his neighbours.- With the first clause compare Ps. 
lxxx. 13 (12) ; with the last, Ps. lxxx. 7 (6.) These resem- 
blances prove nothing as to the relative antiquity of the two 
psalms, or the date of either. The figure is more fully carried 
out in Ps. lxxx, but this no more proves that to be the original 
than it proves it to be the copy. If any such conclusion were 
legitimate, it would be easier to account for the amplification of 
the hint here thrown out by a later writer, than for the omission, 
in the case before us, of so many fine strokes in that admirable 
apologue. A contempt, an object of supercilious pity and disdain- 
ful wonder. 

43 (42.) Thou hast lifted the right hand of his foes, hast caused 
vol. ir. 13 


to iriumph all his enemies. As the hand, and especially the right 
hand, is the symbol of exerted strength, and a high hand that of 
triumphant superiority, especially in war, so to raise the right 
hand in the first clause of the verse before us, really means no- 
thing more than the literal expression (caused to triumph) in the 
other. This seemed to be in direct contradiction to the promise 
in vs. 23, 24 (22, 23), as well as to the prayer in Ps. xxv. 2. 

44 (43.) Also thou turnest the edge of his sword, and dost not 
allow him to stand in the battle. The particle (f]j*) at the begin- 
ning indicates a climax. Not only was his enemy superior, but 
himself delinquent and disgraced. Edge, literally rock, of his 
sword. The idea suggested may be that of hardness, as a hard 
edge is essential to a serviceable weapon. See my note on Isai. 
xxvii. 1. Some interpreters, however, think it best to adhere to 
the ordinary usage of rock in Hebrew as an emblem of strength, 
and to understand the whole phrase as meaning the strength of 
his sword, either in the strict sense or in that of strong sword, 
both of which are here appropriate. See above, on v. 27 (26.) 
The construction in the last clause is ambiguous, as the pronoun 
may refer to sword or rock, no less grammatically than to its pos- 
sessor. The general sense remains the same, however, as in the 
similar case above, v. 30 (29.) 

45 (44.) Thou hast made (him) to cease from his brightness, ana 
his throne to the earth cast down. Brightness is in various lan- 
guages a figure for distinction, eminence, celebrity, or glory. 

Compare with the last clause what is said of the crown in v. 40 
(39), and of the throne itself in v. 5 (4.) 

46 (45.) Thou hast shortened the days of his youth ; thou hast 
covered him with shame. Selah. His youth, his youthful energy 
and vigour. See Job xxxiii. 25. Thou hast made him an ob- 
ject of contempt by cutting short his vigorous career and rendering 


him prematurely old. This might be said of certain individual 
kings, as well as of the kingdom when approaching its catastrophe. 
Covered him with shame, literally, covered shame upon him, i. e. 
heaped it on him so as to cover him. 

47 (46.) How long, Jehovah, wilt thou hide thyself forever ? 
(How long) shall burn, like fire, thy wrath ? On the doubtful 
construction of the first clause, and the meaning of the combina- 
tion, how long forever, see above, on Ps. xiii. 2 (1.) Ixxix. 5. How 
long, literally, until what, i. e. until what point (how far), or 
until what time (how long) ? 

48 (47.) Rememler what duration I have ; why {for) nought 
hast thou created all the sons of Man (or Adam) ? The construc- 
tion in the first clause is obscure and broken, as if it consisted of 
incoherent exclamations. Oh rememler — I — what — duration. 
For the meaning of the last word, see above, on Ps. xvii. 14. 
xxxix. 6 (5), and with the whole clause compare Ps. lxxviii. 39. 
cxix 84. Job vii. 6. xiv. 1. The last clause is to be hypotheti- 
cally understood. ' Why hast thou made all men in vain, as must 
be the case if their short life is entirely filled with suffering ?' 
Or, ' why dost thou give colour and occasion to the charge of 
having made men to no purpose ?' W7iy, literally, on what 
(account), or for what (reason) ? The next word in Hebrew 
(&1E?) is a noun meaning vanity, nonentity, or nothing, here and 
in Ps. cxxvii. 1, 2, used adverbially in the sense of vainly, to no 
purpose, or for nought. 

49 (48.) WJiat man shall live and not see death (but) rescue 
his soul from the hand of Sheoll Selah. An indirect assertion 
of the melancholy fact that all must die, rendered still more 
pointed by the use of a word for man implying strength. See 
above, on Ps. lxxxviii. 5 (4.) As if he had said, what man is 
so strong as to live forever and escape the common destiny of 


mortals ? This allusion cannot be preserved in any mere trans- 
lation. Rescue, literally, cause to escape. His soul, considered 
as his life or vital principle. Hand may be here, as often else- 
where, a figure for power ; or it may have its proper sense and 
denote the hand of Sheol, the Grave, Mortality or Death, as an 
ideal person. The Selah has the same force as in Ps. xxxix. 
6, 12 (5, 11.) 

50 (49.) Where are thy former mercies, Lord, thou didst swear 
unto David in thy truth (or faithfulness.) The first or former 
mercies of the Lord are those which he promised of old, espe- 
cially to David, as expressly mentioned in the other clause. See 
above, on vs. 4, 36 (3, 35.) The inquiry where they are implies 
that they have vanished, or that the fulfilment has not become 
visible. The last clause may be closely united with the first by 
supplying a relative between them, as in the common version, 
which thou swarest unto David. A simpler and more emphatic 
syntax is to make it a distinct proposition : thou didst swear unto 
David, and thy oath cannot be broken. See above, on v. 36 (35.) 
This last idea is involved in the concluding words, in thy veracity 
or faithfulness. What God, as a God of truth, has sworn, not 
only will but must be executed. 

51 (50.) Remember, Lord, the reproach of thy servants, my bear- 
ing in my bosom all the many nations. The form of address is 
the same as in v. 48 (47.) The reproach of thy servants, the 
contempt and disgrace to which they are subjected. Thy ser- 
vants, of whom I am one. Or the sudden transition to the first 
person singular may show that the petitioner, in this whole con- 
text, is not an individual believer, but the Church at large. In 
my bosom may denote good measure or abundance. See above, 
on Ps. lxxix. 12. Or bearing in my bosom may mean feeling in 
my heart, i. e. intensely, exquisitely, in which case nations must 
be put for the contempt of nations. More probable than either 


is the figure of gestation, according to which Zion, although now 
despised or hated by the nations, is one day to be their spiritual 
mother or their spiritual birth-place. See above on Ps. Ixxxvii. 
4, 6. The llebrew adjective(tTSl) may mean either great oi 
many ; but the latter sense is more agreeable to usage and 
the collocation of the words in this case. The idiomatic phrase, 
all many nations, is equivalent to saying, all the nations who are 
many in number. The word all might be used, however small the 
number of the nations. To express the whole idea, therefore, 
both words were required. 

52 (51.) Wherewith thine enemies have reproached, Jehovah 
wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of thine Anointed 
The connection indicated by the relative at the beginning is 03 
no means clear. The common version, above given, makes re 
proach in v. 51 (50) the antecedent. Some interpreters connect 
the relative with the verb at the beginning of that verse, and give 
it the force of a conjunction, i remember that (or how) thine 
enemies have reproached.' Its proper meaning as a relative pro- 
noun may be retained by referring it to different antecedents 

' (I) whom thine enemies have reproached, (thine enemies) wh * 
have reproached the steps of thine Anointed.' This last expres- 
sion seems to mean that they had tracked or followed him, where • 
ever he went, with calumny and insult. 

53 (52.) Blessed (be) Jehovah to eternity. Amen and Amen. 
This is commonly regarded as no part of the psalm, but a doxology 
marking the conclusion of the third book. See above, on Ps. xli. 
14 (13.) lxxii. 18 — 20, and compare the Preface, vol. 1, p. xi. 

294 PSALM XC. 


The Fourth. Book, according to the ancient traditional division 
of the Psalter, opens with the oldest psalm in the collection. Or 
rather the author of the present arrangement, who was probably 
no other than Ezra, placed this sublime composition by itself, be- 
tween the two great divisions of the book, containing respectively 
the Earlier and Later Psalms. See the Preface, vol. i. p. xiii. 
It may therefore be regarded as the heart or centre of the whole 
collection, and indeed as the model upon which even David, " the 
sweet psalmist of Israel" (2 Sam. xxiii. 1), formed that glorious 
body of psalmodic literature or hymnology, which, with its later 
but inspired and authoritative imitations, constitutes the present 
Book of Psalms. The date of the composition, though uncertain 
because not recorded, may with most probability be fixed near the 
close of the Error in the Wilderness, when the dying out of the 
older generation on account of their transgressions, and the 
threatened exclusion of Moses himself from the Promised Land, 
were exactly suited to produce such views of man's mortality and 
sinfulness as are here presented, but without destroying the anti- 
cipation of a bright futurity, such as really ensued upon the death 
of Moses, and is prospectively disclosed in the conclusion of this 
psalm. Its great theme is the frailty and brevity of human life, 
considered as the consequence of sin, and as a motive to repent- 
ance and obedience. He first contrasts the eternity of God with 
the mortality of man, vs. 1 — 8, which is then described as the 
effect of the divine wrath on account of sin, vs. 7 — 11, and made 

PSALM XC. 295 

the ground of a prayer, with which tho psalm concludes, for the 
speedy restoration of the divine favour, vs 12 — 17. 

1. A Prayer. By Moses, the Man of God. Lord, a home 
hast thou been to us, in generation and generation. The psalm is 
called a prayer, because the petition at the close (vs. 12 — 17) 
contains the essence of the composition, to which the rest is 
merely preparatory. For another case precisely similar, see 
above, on Ps. lxxxvi. 1. The correctness of the title which as- 
cribes the psalm to Moses is confirmed by its unique simplicity 
and grandeur ; its appropriateness to his times and circumstances, 
as already stated ; its resemblance to the Law in urging the con- 
nection between sin and death ; its similarity' of diction to the 
poetical portions of the Pentateuch, without the slightest trace of 
imitation or quotation ; its marked unlikeness to the psalms of 
David, and still more to those of later date ; and finally the proved 
impossibility of plausibly assigning it to any other age or author. 
The arguments against its authenticity have commonly been 
framed by a preposterous inversion of the evidence, converting 
into proofs of later date the very points of similarity which prove 
that this was the original and model psalm, the primeval basis upon 
which even David reared a noble superstructure of his own. The 
title Man of God is given to Moses, in Deut. xxxiii. 1. Josh. xiv. 
6. Ezr. hi. 2, and is often applied to later prophets, especially 
Elijah and Elisha. See 1 Sam. ii. 27. 1 Kings xvii. 18, 24. xx. 
28. 2 Kings i. 13. iv. 9, 21, 27, 42. It is here significant, im- 
plying that Moses wrote the psalm in this capacity. See above 
on Ps. xviii. 1. xxxvi. 1, where David is in like manner called the 
Servant of Jehovah, a title given to Moses himself in the account 
of his death, Deut. xxxiv. 5, as David, on the other hand, is 
called the Man of God, 2 Chr. viii. 14. Instead of hast been 
some read art ; but though the preterite of other verbs may be 
used to express general truths, the present of the substantive verb 
is so commonly suppressed, that its form, when inserted, must 


have some significance. The truth seems to be, that the verse 
expresses only what God had been, but implies what he still was 
and still would be. A home, a fixed or settled dwelling, even 
while they wandered in the desert. The same noun is used by 
Moses, Deut. xxvi. 15, and a kindred form, Deut. xxxiii. 27. In 
generation and generation, in all successive generations. See 
above, on Ps. x. 6. xxxiii. 11. xlv. 18 (17.) xlix. 12 (11.) lxi. 7 (6.) 

2. Before mountains were bom, and (before) thou hadst brought 
forth earth and land, and (indeed) from eternity to eternity, thou 
(art) God. The mountains are first mentioned according to a 
scriptural usage which describes them as the oldest portions of 
the earth. See Gen. xlix. 26. Num. xxiii. 7. Deut. xxxiii. 15. 
Hab. iii. 6. By a strong but common and intelligible figure, 
creation is here described as generation. This is true not only 
of the first verb but of the second, which is too vaguely rendered in 
the common version (thou hadst formed.) Earth, as opposed to 
heaven ; land, as opposed to sea. These are separately mentioned, 
as in the account of the creation. See Gen. i. 1,9. The last 
clause may also be translated, thou art, oh God ! It then simply 
asserts his existence from eternity. According to the other and 
more usual construction, it likewise asserts his omnipotence, the 
attribute denoted by the divine name here employed. This is the 
fuller and more comprehensive sense ; but in favour of the other 
may be urged, that it is simpler and agrees best with the proxi- 
mate design of the Psalmist to contrast the eternal God with 
short-lived man. 

3. Thou turnest man even to dust, and sayest, Return, sons of 
Man (or Adam) ! The evident allusion to Gen. iii. 19, which is 
also found in Jt>b x. 9. xxxiv. 15, and re-appears in Ps. civ. 29 
(compare Ps. ciii. 14), may serve to determine the meaning of the 
word translated dust in the first clause, but which is properly an 
adjective signifying crushed, broken to pieces, ground to powder, 

PSALM XC. 297 


and is figuratively applied, in Ps. xxxiv. 19 (IS), to brokenness 
of heart. Compare Isai. lvii. 15. The Hebrew preposition (ns) 
is stronger than our to, and means as far as, even to. The full 
sense of the whole phrase is, even to the state of one completely 
crushed or ground to powder, even to a pulverized condition. 
The shortness and fragility of human life is thus brought into the 
strongest contrast with the eternity of God. 

4. For a thousand years in thine eyes [are) as yesterday when it 
is past and a watch in the night. However long human life may 
appear to man himself, it is in God's sight evanescent and con- 
temptible. Even the patriarchal measure, which so often ap 
proximated to a thousand years, was in God's sight like a single 
day in man's, or rather like a mere subdivision of it, a third part 
of the night, which was divided by the ancient Hebrews into 
three watches. See above, on Ps. lxiii. 7 (6.) That this di- 
vision was as old as Moses, may be seen from Ex. xiv. 24. 
When it is past or passing. It might also be translated, for it 
passes, i. e. no less hastily and swiftly. This verse is quoted and 
amplified, but without any change of meaning, 2 Pet. iii. 8. 

5. Thou sweepest them away — a sleep are they — in the morning, 
like the grass, they pass away. The first Hebrew verb has no 
equivalent in English ; it means to sweep away or carry off, as 
by a driving rain. The supposition of a reference to the flood is 
not necessary though admissible. A derivative form of the same 
/erb occurs above, Ps. Ixxvii. 18 (17.) The comparison of hu- 
man life to a sleep or dream is common in all languages. The 
uiornino" is mentioned as the time of waking, the time when we 
are most impressed with the unsubstantial nature of our dreams. 
See above, Ps. lxxiii. 20, and compare Ps. xxxix. 7 (G.) The 
grass is an additional but obvious emblem of caducity. The 
last verb is not a plural form in Hebrew, but agrees with sleep, or 



rather with man, in the generic sense, whose life is here com- 
pared to sleep. 

6. In the morning it hlooms and (then) passes away, (for) at 
evening he mows and it withers. The mention of the morning, in 
v. 5, as following the nio-ht, suixg-ests the mention of the morn- 
ing here, as followed by the evening. The first verb means not 
merely to flourish in the wide sense, but to bloom, as plants do. 
See above, on Ps. lxxii. 16, and compare Num. xvii. 23 (8), 
which proves it to be a Mosaic expression. The verbs may agree 
with grass, or with man whom the grass represents, more probably 
the latter. The idea conveyed by supplying then is really in- 
volved in the grammatical relation of the Hebrew verbs, the 
second of which never means to grow or sprout, but always to pass 
or undergo a change. The third verb is active but may be con- 
strued with an indefinite subject, and is then equivalent in mean- 
ing to a passive, he is mown and withers. The withering is not 
here referred to as the effect of natural decay but of violent ex- 
cision. "With the whole verse compare Ps. xxxvii. 2. ciii. 15. 
Job xiv. 2. 

7. For we fail in thine anger, and in thy wrath are we af- 
frighted. The natural decay or violent interruption of man's 
life is the effect of God's displeasure. The first verb means to 
waste away, decay, wear out, cease to exist. Compare its use in Ps. 
lxxi. 9. lxxiii. 26. The other verb is very inadequately repre- 
sented by the English troubled. It means shocked, confounded, 
agitated, terror-stricken. See above, on Ps. ii. 5. vi. 3, 4 (2,3.) 
xlviii. 6 (5.) lxxviii. 33. Ixxxiii. 16 ( 15), and below, on Ps. civ 29, 
and compare my note on Isai. lxv. 23. It here denotes the 
natural instinctive dread of death. There is here a very sensible 
progression in the thought. Thus far the Psalmist had insisted 
merely on the frailty and brevity of human life ; but now he 
proceeds further and propounds the fearful doctriue, that this 



sorrowful mortality is not an accident but an infliction, the direct 
effect of the divine wrath. Whatever instrumental agencies may 
bo employed to kill us, our real destroyer is the anger of our 

8. Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret {sins) in 
the light of thy countenance. As man's mortality is the effect of 
God's wrath, so this wrath itself is the effect of sin. And this 
sin becomes the cause of death. See Gen. ii. 17, and compare 
Rom. v. 12. The verse before us represents God in the act of 
shortening man's life, and gives the necessary explanation of 
what might otherwise have seemed at variance with his infinite 
benevolence. The Bible, as an eminent interpreter has well said, 
throws the blame of death entirely on man himself. When God 
slays man, he puts his sins before him, looks directly at them ; not 
only those which are notorious, but those which are concealed from 
every eye but that of omniscience. See Jer. xvi. 17. Heb. iv. 14, 
and compare Ps. xix. 15 (14.) 1 Cor. iv. 4, 5. Another reading in 
the last clause, and most probably the true one, makes secret or con- 
cealed a singular and not a plural form, our secret ; but the refer- 
ence is still to sin. The word translated light does not properly 
denote the element itself, but that from which it is derived, a 
luminary, just as we call a candle or a lamp a light. See above, 
on Ps. lxxiv. 16. The precise sense seems to be, that God holds 
our sins to the light of his own countenance, and therefore cannot 
fail to see them. 

9. For all our days are gone in thine anger ; ice spend our 
years like a thought. The all in the first clause is emphatic. 
What he says is true of our whole life. Are gone, literally, 
turned away, as an act preparatory to departure. The word 
translated anger, though synonymous, is not identical, with either 
of those used above in v. 7. It occurs, however, in Ps. vii. 7 (6), 
and according to its derivation properly denotes an outbreak of 

300 PSALM XC. 

angry feeling. Spend, not as a mere synonyme of pass, but in the 
strono- sense of consuming, wasting, as in Job. xxxvi. 11 (com- 
pare xxi. 13.) The Hebrew verb is the causative of that trans- 
lated fail in v. 7. The use of years as a parallel to days gives 
the sentence a climacteric effect. The word translated thought is 
elsewhere applied to audible sound (Ez. ii. 10. Job. xxxvii. 2), 
but only as the natural spontaneous expression of the thoughts 
and feelings, not to others but one's self. See above, on Ps. 
lxiii. 7 (6.) lxxvii. 13 (12.) By some strange misapprehension 
the Septuagint and Vulgate make it mean a spider, and the Eng- 
lish versions have the singular periphrasis, a tale that is told. 

10. The days of our years ! In them (are contained) seventy 
years, and if with strength eighty years, and their pride (is) 
trouble and mischief, for he drives (us) fast and we fly away. 
The parallelism of days and years in the preceding verse suggests 
their combination here, a combination used by Moses elsewhere 
in describing the long lives of the patriarchal history. See Gen. 
xxv. 7. xlvii. 8, 9. The words may here be taken simply as an 
absolute nominative, (as for) the days of our years, in them etc. 
See above, on Ps. lxxxix. 3 (2.) But it adds to their signifi- 
gance, as well as to the beauty of the sentence, to explain them 
as a kind of wondering exclamation, as if such a term scarcely 
deserved to be computed. In them are seventy years, this is what 
they comprise or comprehend, it is to this that they amount. 
The life of Moses was much longer (Deut xxxiv. 7), but even in 
the history appears to be recorded as a signal exception to the 
general rule. If with strength, if accompanied with strength, or, 
as some prefer to construe it, if (the person be endued) with 
(more than usual) strength. The plural (strengths) may be an 
idiomatic form of speech, simply equivalent to the singular, or an 
intensive term denoting extraordinary strength. See above, on 
Ps. xviii. 51 (50.) Tlieir pride, the best part of our days or 
years, the part in which we are most confident or most contented 

PSALM XC. 30i 

The words translated trouble and mischief are in usage both applied 
to suffering: at the hands or through the fault of others. The com- 
mon version of the next verb (it is cut off) rests upon a doubtful 
etymology. In the only other place where the Hebrew verb 
certainly occurs (Num. xi. 31), it is applied to the driving of the 
quails by a strong wind over the camp of Israel. It may here 
agree with God himself, or with a subject undefined, one drives 
(us), which is tantamount to saying, we are driven. Fast, lit- 
erally, (in) haste or hastily. And, as a necessary consequence, 
we fly before the propellent power. 

11. Who knows the power of thine anger and, according to thy 
fear, thy wrath ? The separation of the clauses as distinct pro- 
positions makes the last unmeaning. The whole is one interro- 
gation, implying strong negation, as if he had said, no one knows 
the power of thine anger. See above, on Ps. xiv. 4. liii. 5 (4.) 
The sense is not that no one can, but that no one will know it, as 
he might and ought. Knows, literally, knowing, i. e. habitually. 
See above, on Ps. i. 6. The power of thine anger, its degree and 
the extent to which it operates. According to thy fear, as true 
piety or reverence for God demands. Thy wrath, the same word 
that is used in the first clause of v. 9 above. 

12. To number our days thus make us know, and we will bring 
a heart of wisdom. The verb translated make us know is the 
causative of that in the preceding verse, to which there is an ob- 
vious allusion. It is therefore probable that they were meant to 
govern the same object. ' Who knows the power of thine anger ?' 
1 So make us know (the, power of thine anger.)' The first words 
of the verse before us are then not immediately dependent on the 
phrase make (us) know, but merely indicate the end for which 
the knowledge was desired. i In order that we may number our 
dajs, i. e. know and feel how few they are, thus make us know, 
i. e. give us this knowledge of the connection between God's wrath 

302 PSALM XC. 

and our own mortality.' The common version of the last clause 
{that me may apply our hearts unto wisdom) is forced and un- 
grammaticalj without an arbitrary change of pointing. The only 
admissible construction of the masoretic text is that first given, 
which may either mean, as some of the rabbinical interpreters 
suppose, ' we will bring into ourselves (i. e. acquire) a heart of 
wisdom,' or, t we will bring (as an offering to thee) a heart of 
wisdom,' with allusion to Gen. iv. 3, 4, where the same verb is 
absolutely used of Cain and Abel's offerings. 

13. Return, Jehovah ! How long (wilt thou forsake us) ? — 
And repent as to thy servants. To the prayer that the people may 
understand the causes of God's wrath is now added a prayer for 
its removal. The loss of God's favour is, as usual, represented 
as his absence. The aposiopesis in the question (how long ?) is 
like that in Ps. vi. 4 (3.) xiii. 2 (1.) This clause being paren- 
thetical, what follows is connected by the copulative particle with 
the imperative at the beginning. The meaning of the last clause 
is, so change thy dealing with thy servants as if thou hadst re- 
pented of afflicting them. The same bold form of speech is used 
by Moses elsewhere. See Ex. xxxii. 12. Deut. xxxii. 36, and 
compare the imitations in Judg. ii. 18. Jer. xv. 6. Joel ii. 13. 
Jon. iv. 2. Ps. cxxxv. 14. 

14. Satisfy us, in the morning, with thy mercy, and (then) we, 
shall rejoice and he glad through all our days. God's grace is here 
presented as the food required for the sustenance of his people. 
Satisfy or sate us, i. e. fill us, abundantly supply us. In the. 
morning, early, speedily, perhaps with an allusion to the night as 
a common figure for affliction. See above, on Ps. v. 4 (3.) xlvi. 
6 (5.) xiix. 15 (14.) lix. 17 (16.) lxxxviii. 14 (13.) The oblique 
construction of the last clause, that ice may rejoice etc., is really 
involved in the direct one, which is much more pointed and em- 
phatic. In or through all our days, i. e. throughout the remainder 



of our lives. The English idiom allows the suppression of the 
particle, as in the common version. 

15. Make us glad according to the days thou hast afflicted us 
the years we have seen evil. According to, literally, as or like. 
The meaning is, compensate all our sufferings by proportionate 
enjoyments. The ellipsis of the relative is common in both idioms. 
The English Bible, by supplying it, enfeebles the expression 
without making the sense clearer. Days and years, as in v. 9. 
The plural forms in the Hebrew are unusual and borrowed from 
Deut. xxxii. 7, a Mosaic feature of the psalm which cannot pos- 
sibly be reproduced in any version. 

16. Let appear unto thy servants thy doing, and thy glory on 
their sons (or children.) He prays that even to the elder genera- 
tion there may be vouchsafed a token for good (Ps. lxxxvi. 17), 
i. e. some assurance of the favours to be actually bestowed upon 
their children. Thus understood, the use of the two prepositions, 
to and on, is not unmeaning or fortuitous. Grod's work or doing 
is the course of his providential dealings, as in Ps. xcii. 5 (4) be- 
low ; his glory the manifestation of his divine perfections in ex- 
ternal act. See above, on Ps. viii. 6 (5.) xlv. 4 (3.) This was 
to appear not only to but on the younger race, i. e. in their own 

17. And let the beauty of Jehovah our God be upon us, and the 
work of our hands establish upon us, and the work of our hands, 
establish thou it. While the glory of Jehovah is expected to be 
fully revealed only in his dealings with the next generation, he is 
still besought to grant their fathers the experimental knowledge 
of his beauty, loveliness, or all that renders him an object of af- 
fection. See above, on Ps. xxvii. 4. The work of our hands is 
a favourite Mosaic phrase for all that we do or undertake, all our 
affairs and interests. See Deut. xiv. 29. xvi. 15. xxiv. 19. xxviii 


12. xxx. 9. To establish or confirm it is to prosper and succeed 
it, to bring it to a favourable issue. The expression on us, as 
before, suggests the idea of an influence exerted and a favour 
granted from above. The yea of the common version is substi- 
tuted for the idiomatic repetition of the copulative and in the 


An amplification of the theme, that God is the dwelling-place 
and refuge of his people. This and other points of contact with 
the Prayer of Moses seem to mark it as an imitation of that 
psalm, and thereby account for its position in the Psalter. The 
most remarkable peculiarity of form in the psalm before us is the 
frequent change and alternation of the persons. The only divi- 
sion which can well be made is that into two stanzas or strophes, 
supposed to be marked by the recurrence in v. 9 to the themo 
propounded in v. 1. 

1. Sitting (or dwelling) in the secret place of the Most High, in 
the shadow of the Almighty he is lodged. The common version 
seems to make this an identical proposition, amounting really to 
this, that he whom God protects is protected by him. To avoid 
this, some make the whole verse a mere description of the per- 
son speaking in the next verse, and as this seems to be forbidden 
by the use of the first person there, they either make an arbi- 
trary change of pointing (ypx for "flavor suppose a sudden change 
of person, as in other parts of this same psalm. Better than 
either of these constructions is a third, which makes the parallel 
clauses of this first verse descriptive of an ideal person, with whom 
the speaker is then tacitly identified. As if he had said, ' happy 



the man who dwells, etc.,' and then added, ' such is my con- 
dition ; I can say, etc. 'For the figure of a secret place or covert, 
see above, on Ps. xxvii. 5. xxxi. 21 (20.) xxxii. 7 ; for that of a 
shadow, on Ps. xvii. 8. xxxvi. 8 (7.) lvii. 2 (1.) The divine 
titles, Highest and Almighty, suggest the reason of this perfect 
safety. The latter is the patriarchal title mentioned in Ex. 
vi. 3, where it is combined with (ra) a more familiar name de- 
noting the same attribute. The last verb is strictly a reflective, 
and as such means to take up one's lodgings, to domesticate one's 
self, implying a voluntary choice more clearly than the primitive 
verb, as used above, in Ps. xxv. 13. xxx. 6 (5.) xlix. 13 (12.) 

2. I will say to Jehovah, My refuge and my fortress, my God, 
I will trust in him. The first verb, while it expresses purpose or 
determination, includes both a present and potential meaning. 1 
can say, I have reason and a right to say ; and 1 do (habitually) 
say. In order to avoid another change of person, the common 
version and some others read of the Lord, which is admissible but 
needless. See above, on Ps. iii. 3 (2.) Compare the other 
figures here used to denote divine protection with those in Ps. 
xviii. 3 (2) lxxi. 7. In the last clause, I will trust in him, there 
may seem to be another sudden change of person ; but these 
words are really equivalent to a' relative construction, in whom I 
trust, and may therefore be used even in a direct address. 

3. For lo, he will free thee from the fowlerh snare, from the 
plague of mischiefs. The confiding soul is now addressed direct- 
ly in the tone of promise. The supposition of responsive choirs 
is a gratuitous refinement. " The fowlerh snare is a figure for in- 
sidious and complicated dangers. See above, on Ps. xviii. 6 (5), 
and below, on Ps. cxxiv. 7, and compare 2 Tim. ii. 26. The par- 
allelism requires plague or pestilence to be taken as a metaphor, 
no less than snare. Both probably denote dangers arising from 
the craft of wicked enemies, to which the word translated mis- 


chiefs is peculiarly appropriate. See above, on Ps. v. 10 (9.) 
Hi. 4, 9 (2, 7.) lvii. 2 (1.) 

4. With his pinion he will cover thee, and under his wings thou, 
shalt find shelter ; shield and buckler (is) his truth. Compare the 
figure of an eagle, Peut. xxxii. 11. For the meaning of the first 
noun, see above, on Ps. lxviii. 14 (13.) Cover thee, literally, 
cover (or provide a covering) for thee. Find shelter or take refuge, 
see above onPs. ii. 12. The word translated buckler is properly 
a participle and means surrounding. See above, on Ps. xxxv. 2. 

5. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night, for the 
arrow (that) flies by day. Shalt not fear, i. e. shalt have no 
reason for alarm. Terror by night, literally, of night, i. e. night- 
ly or nocturnal terror. There is no need of restricting this ex- 
pression to any particular form of danger or distress, since all are 
usually aggravated by their occurrence in the night. Should 
any specific sense be put upon the figure of an arrow, from 
analogy and usage, it would be that of human enmity. See above, 
on Ps. lviii. 8 (7,) The Hebrew preposition, in both clauses, 
properly means from, i. e. arising or proceeding from, occasioned 
by, in consequence of, something else. 

6. For the plague (that) in darkness walks, for the pestilence 
(that) wastes at noon. Here the words are to be taken in their 
proper sense, and not as in v. 3, where they are figures for a 
different kind of danger, or for danger in the general. 

7. There shall fall at thy side a thousand, and a myriad at thy 
right hand ; to thee it shall not come nigh. This is equivalent to 
saying in our idiom, though a thousand fall, etc., which, however, 
would not be an exact translation, as it substitutes a hypothetical 
for an affirmative proposition. For the double sense and usage of 
the word translated myriad Tee above, on Ps. iii. 7 (6), and com- 


pare the cognate form, Ps. lxviii. 18 (17.) Myriad represents 
the original term better than ten thousand, because it is wholly 
different, in form and etymology, from that translated thousand. 

8. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold, and the recompense of 
wicked (men) see. The only puts mere sight in opposition to ex- 
perience or participation. Compare Deut. xxxii. 35, 41. As 
usual in such cases, it is implied that the destruction of the wicked 
and deliverance of the righteous will be coincident and simul- 
taneous. See below, on Ps. xcii. 12 (11.) 

9. For thou, Jehovah, (art) my refuge. The Most High hast 
thou made thy home (or habitation.) The construction adopted 
in the English Bible is a forced one, only assumed in order to 
avoid the enallage or sudden change of person, which, however, is 
characteristic of this psalm. Equally needless and objectionable 
is the supposition of responsive choirs. 

10. There shall not happen to thee (any) evil, and a stroke shall 
not approach into thy tent. The first verb is a causative passive 
and strictly means shall not be suffered or allowed to happen. 
Evil, i. e. natural evil, suffering or distress. The word trans- 
lated stroke is very commonly applied to God's strokes or afflic- 
tive judgments. See above, on Ps. xxxviii. 12 (11.) xxxix. 
11 (10.) Into thy tent is fin expression apparently intended to 
qualify the promise, which might otherwise have seemed too abso- 
lute and inconsistent with the context from which we learn that 
danger was to draw nigh, even to the righteous, but not so as 
actually to enter his tent, and take up its abode with him. 

11. For his angels he will charge concerning thee, to keep thee in 
all thy ways. The plural angds shows that there is no allusion to a 
guardian spirit attending the individual believer, but merely to the 
angels collectively, as ministering spirits, the instrumental agents 


of God's providential care over his people. See Heb. i. 14. 
The promise here given does not extend to dangers rashly incurred 
or presumptuously sought, and was therefore no justification of the 
act to which our Lord was tempted by the devil, Matth. iv. 6. 
That the mere omission of the phrase in all thy ways was a part 
of the temptation, seems to be a gratuitous refinement, as our 
Lord himself makes no such charge ; as the first words of the 
sentence would of course suggest the rest ; and as ways, in the 
usage of the Psalms, does not mean ways of duty, but the ways 
in which a man is led by Providence. Neither the tempter's 
argument nor our Lord's reply to it would be at all affected by 
the introduction of the words suppressed. 

12. Upon (their) hands shall they bear thee, lest thou strike 
against the stone, thy foot. The dual form, denoting both hands, 
might be regarded as emphatic and suggestive of peculiar care ; 
but the Hebrew noun has no other plural form in common use. 
A smooth path and unimpeded walk is a common figure for pros- 
perity and safety. Compare Prov. iii. 23. 

13. On lion and adder thou shalt tread ; thou shalt trample 
young lion and dragon. These are commonly supposed to be 
strong figures for the two kinds of danger from which men need 
protection, open violence and secret treachery. The last word 
denotes a serpent, as in Ex. vii. 9. The specific meaning of the 
parallel term is unimportant. The young lion (not the lion's 
whelp) is mentioned as peculiarly fierce and greedy. See above, 
on Ps. xvii. 12. xxxiv. 11. xxxv. 17. From this verse our Lord 
derived the terms in which he promised protection to his followers, 
Luke x. 19. 

14. For he has set his love upon me, and I will rescue him ; I 
will set him on high because he knows my name. The first verb is a 
very strong expression for the warmest and most violent attach- 



ment, corresponding in part with our idiomatic phrase to fall in 
love, and followed by a kindred preposition. It seems to be here 
used to describe God as an object of supreme devotion to the true 
believer. Rescue Aim, cause him to escape. Set him on high, 
i. e. beyond the reach of danger. See above, on Ps. xviii. 
3 (2.) 49 (48.) xx. 2(1.) lix. 2(1.) Ixix. 30 (29.) Knows my 
name, has already experienced my goodness and seen the evidence 
of my perfections. See above, on Ps. v. 12 (11.) ix. 11 (10.J 

15. He shall call me and I will answer him. With him (am) I 
in trouble. I will deliver him and honour him. The meaning of 
the first clause is essentially the same as if he had said, when he 
calls I will answer, but with much more directness and force in 
the expression. Calls me to his aid, invokes me, prays to me. 
Answer him by granting his request, the idea commonly conveyed 
by the Hebrew verb here used. See above, on Ps. hi. 5 (4.) 
The futures have their proper sense, as this is a direct and formal 
promise. I will It with him would have been expressed in the 
same manner ; but 1 am with him is still stronger, for it describes 
God as already present for the protection and deliverance of his 
people. Deliver him, extricate him from his embarrassments and 
dangers ; and lest the promise should be thought to ensure mere 
safety, it is added, I will honour him, procure for him the respect 
of others by showing that I favour him myself. 

16. (With) length of days will I satisfy him, and will show 
him my salvation. With the first clause compare Ex. xx. 12. 
Deut. v. 16. Ps. xxiii. 6. Satisfy or satiate, i. e. abundantly 
supply and fully gratify his largest wishes. With the last clause 
compare Ps. 1. 23, where we have the same idiomatic construc- 
tion of the verb to see with the preposition in, meaning to be- 
hold with strong emotion, and especially, emotion of a pleasur- 
able kind. For a different application of the same phrase, see 
above, on Ps. xxxvii. 34. In the last three verses, God is him- 


self the speaker, although not expressly so announced. See 
above, on Ps. xlvi. 11 (10.) lxxv. 3, 4 (2, 3.) lxxxvii. 4. 


1. A Psalm. A Song. For the Sabbath-Day . The second 
title designates the Psalm as one of praise, in strict conformity to 
its contents. The immediate subject of the praise is the exhibi- 
tion of God's power and wisdom in his providential dealings both 
with the wicked and the righteous. As one main design of 
the sabbath was to afford an opportunity for the admiring con- 
templation of God's works or doings, the psalm before us was 
peculiarly appropriate at such a time, and the third clause of the 
inscription is evidently correct. 

2 (1.) Good (is it) to give thanks unto Jehovah, and to make 
music to thy name, Most High ! The duty about to be performed 
is here described as not only right but pleasant. For the mean- 
ing of the two verbs, see above, on Ps. vii. 18 (17.) 

3 (2.) To declare in the morning thy mercy, and thy faithful- 
ness in the nights. The sentence is continued from the preced- 
ing verse, the infinitive with which this opens being governed by the 
phrase it is good. In the morning, taken by itself, implies eager- 
ness and promptness, and with the parallel phrase (in the nights) 
unremitting diligence and constancy. See .above, on Ps. xvi. 7. 
xlii. 9 (8.) lxxvii. 7 (6.) lxxxviii. 14(13.) xc. 14 (13.) Faithful* 


ness in the fulfilment of promises. Faithfulness and mercy are 
here combined like truth and mercy in Ps. lxxxix. 15 (14.) 

4 (3.) On decachord and on lyre, on meditation with a harp. 
The first word in Hebrew means a decade, a group or set of ten, 
and then an instrument of ten strings. See above, on Ps. 
xxxiii. 2. In the last clause, by a bold but intelligible figure, 
meditation is referred to as an instrument, precisely as the lyre 
and harp are, the latter being joined with it as a mere accompani- 

5 (4.) For thou hast gladdened me, Jehovah, with thy work; 
in the doings of thy hands I will rejoice. This verse introduces 
the theme or subject of the praise proposed, to wit, the work and 
doings of the Lord, i. e. his providential dealings. See above, 
on Ps. xc. 16, 17. The last verb denotes properly the vocal ex- 
pression of an inward joy. 

6 (5.) How great are thy doings, Jehovah, (how) exceedingly 
deep thy thoughts ! Thoughts and doings are correlative expres- 
sions, signifying plan and execution. Deep, not mysterious, but 
vast, immense, and inexhaustible, corresponding to great in the 
other clause. "With this verse, compare Ps. xl. 6 (5.) Isai. lv. 
9. Rom. xi. 23. 

7 (6.) A man-brute will not know, and a fool will not under- 
stand this. The compound term at the beginning means a man 
who is no better than a brute, i. e. equally irrational. See above, 
on Ps. xl. 21 (20.) lxxiii. 22, and below, on Ps. xciv. 8. Will 
not, cannot, or does not know. This, i. e. what has just been said 
as to the depth of God's providential plans and purposes. 

8 (6.) In the springing up of wicked (men) like grass, and 
(when) all the doers of iniquity bloom, (it is) that they may be dc- 


stroyed forever. The infinitive, as well as the future, indicates 
the time of action. The literal translation of the last words is, 
for them to be destroyed until eternity. 

9 (S.) And thou (art) Most High to eternity, Jehovah! This 
brief but pregnant proposition is the centre of the psalm, and at 
the same time a summary of its contents. The superlative ex- 
pression Most High is here used to translate a single Hebrew 
word which strictly means a height or high-place, but here de- 
notes that which holds the highest place in the scale of being. 
For other applications of the same word, see above, on Ps. vii. 
8 (7.) x. 5. xviii. 17 (16.) 

10 (9.) For lo, thine enemies, Jehovah — for lo, thine enemies shall 
perish ; dispersed shall be all the doers of iniquity. Jehovah must 
be the Most High, because his enemies not only yield to him, but 
perish in his presence. Here, as in Ps. lxxxix. 11, 52 (10, 51), 
the enemies of God and of his people are identified. The last 
verb is properly a reflective, and may be translated, they shall 
scatter (or disperse) themselves, implying more activity and eager- 
ness than the simple passive, shall be scattered. Compare Job 
iv. 11. 

11 (10.) And thou hast raised, like the unicornis, my horn; I 
am anointed with fresh oil. He now contrasts his own experience 
with that of his enemies and God's. With the figure of the first 
clause compare Ps. xviii. 3 (2.) lxxv. 5, 6, 11 (4, 5, 10.) lxxxix. 
18, 25 (17, 24.) I am anointed or I anoint (my head), the He- 
brew verb being elsewhere always active. The figure is borrowed 
from ihe ancient custom of anointing the head on festive occa- 
sions. See above, on Ps. xxiii. 5. Fresh oil, literally, green, 
i. e. verdant, a quality properly belonging to the tree being here 
transferred to its most valuable product. 


12 (11.) And my eye has looked upon my enemies; of those 
rising up against me, evil-doers, my ears shall hear. The senso 
is that he sees and hears what is become of them. Their destruc- 
tion is implied, though not expressed. The word translated 
enemies occurs only here. According to the most probable ety- 
mology it means watchers, liers in wait or ambush. See above, 
on Ps. xxvii. 11. liv. 7 (5.) lvi. 3 (2.) lix. 11 (10), where a cog- 
nate form occurs. My insurgents, or those rising up against me, 
expresses the accessory idea of rebellion against rightful authority. 
See above, on Ps. iii. 2 (1.) liv. 5 (3.) lxxxvi. 14. The addi- 
tion of malefactors, evil-doers, shows that it is not merely as his 
enemies, but on account of their transgressions against God, that 
he expects his foes to perish. 

13 (12.) A righteous {man) like a palm-tree shall sprout, like a 
cedar in Lebanon shall grow. Some suppose an allusion to the 
fact that these trees thrive even in the most unfavourable situa- 
tions. All that it is necessary to assume, however, is that as 
trees in general are natural and common emblems of a prosperous 
existence, so the same idea is conveyed with still more emphasis 
by the noblest species. The supposition of a reference to the 
decoration's of the temple is gratuitous and far-fetched. 

14 (13.) Planted in the house of Jehovah, in the courts of oui 
God they shall bloom (or flourish.) See above, on Ps. Iii. 10 (8), 
where the same image is presented, in a still more specific form, 
the olive-tree being there particularly mentioned. 

15 (14.) Still shall they bear fruit in old age ; fat and green 
shall they be. In old age, literally, in grey or hoary hair. Of the 
epithets in the last clause one properly denotes an animal, the 
other a vegetable quality. The essential idea is that of the 
foregoing verse carried out into detail. 

VOL. II. 14 


16 (15.) To declare that Jehovah is just — my Rock — amd no 
unrighteousness in Him. See above, on Ps. xviii. 3 (2), and 
compare Deut. xxxii. 4. The epithet just denotes the essential 
rectitude of God, including his veracity and faithfulness to his 
engagements. See above, on Ps. xxv. 8. My Rock may be 
simply in apposition with Jehovah, Jehovah my Rock is just, or a 
second predicate, Jehovah is just (and) my Rock. 


The theme of this psalm is Grod's superiority to all opposing 
powers and the consequent safety of his church and people. 
There are strong reasons for believing that it was designed, with 
the one before it, to form a pair or double psalm. Besides those 
drawn from the number of verses and of the divine names, this 
whole psalm may be described as an amplification of the laconic 
dictum in Ps. xcii. 9 (8.) There is nothing to determine its 
precise date ; but there seem to be expressions in it, which imply 
the existence of imminent danger to the theocracy from some 
great hostile power. 

1 Jehovah reigns ; (with) majesty he clothes himself; Jehovah 
clothes himself vnth strength (and) gzr^s himself ; also established 
is i/ie ivorld, it shall not be moved. The first clause does not 
simply affirm Jehovah's sovereignty as a general truth, but an- 
nounces the fact that he has just become king or begun to reign, 
i. e. manifested himself anew in his regal character. The same 
form of the verb is used in reference to the accession of earthly 


monarchs, 2 Sam. xv. 10. 1 Kings i. 11, 13.2 Kings ix. 13. The 
word translated majesty is the one applied in Ps. lxxxix. 11 (10) 
to the swelling of the sea. Its use here may be intended to sug- 
gest the superiority of God to the powers of this world. Clothes 
himself with, literally, puts on, wears. The other verb is reflec- 
tive in form. The also introduces the consequence of this exalta- 
tion. See below, Ps. xevi, 10. xcvii. 1. xcix. 1, and compare 
Isai. xxiv. 23. Obad. 21. Zech. xiv. 9. Bev. xi. 17. xix. 6. 

2. Fixed (is) thy throne, of old ; from eternity (art) thou. 
Fixed, firmly established, permanently settled. Compare 2 Sam. 
vii. 13, 16. 1 Kings ii. 45. Of old, literally, from then, as in the 
margin of the English Bible. Compare Prov. viii. 22. Isai. 
xlviii. 3. v. 7. With the last clause compare Ps. xc. 2, and with 
the whole verse Rev. i. 17. 

3. The foods have raised, Jehovah, the floods have raised their 
voice ; the floods will raise their crash, or crashing noise. The 
last Hebrew word occurs only here, but its etymology is obvious 
and perfectly analogous to that of waves or breakers in the next 
verse. The idea here conveyed is that of the noise made by the 
dashing of waves against each other or upon the shore. The 
preterite and future forms include the present, but suggest the 
additional idea of what has been heretofore and may be expected 
to continue hereafter. The emphatic repetition of the verb is 
like that in v. 1, and reappears in this whole series (Ps. xci — c) 
as a characteristic feature. 

4. More than the voices of waters — many — mighty — sea-billows 
— mighty in the high-place (is) Jehovah. More than, literally, 
from, away from, the particle by which comparison is commonly 
expressed in Hebrew. The common version of the next clause, 
mighty waves of the sea, is scarcely grammatical, as the adjective, 
according to analogy and usage, cannot agree with the noun fol- 


lowing, but must be in apposition with the adjective before it, 
and agree with the same object. The word translated mighty cor- 
responds, in part, to our epithets, sublime and grand. See above, 
on Ps. viii. 1. Sea-billows, literally, breakers of the sea. Com- 
pare Ps. xlii. S (7.) lxxxviii. 8 (7.) Jon. ii. 4 (3.) That the 
comparison was meant to be between the noise of the sea and that 
of thunder considered as the voice of G-od, is an admissible but 
not a necessary supposition. See above, on Ps. xxix. 5. 

5. Thy testimonies are sure, very (sure) ; to thy house suits (or 
is becoming) holiness, Jehovah, unto length of days. The testi- 
monies of God are all the provisions of his Law, as in Ps. xix. 8(7.) 
xxv. 10, but with special reference, in this as in several other 
cases, to its promises. See above, on Ps. lx. 1. lxxx. 1. The 
verb here used is a passive, meaning strictly to be founded, set- 
tled, or secured. Prom this clause is borrowed the form of ex- 
pression in Rev. xix. 9. xxi. 5. xxii. 6. The intensive adverb 
very or exceedingly has the same effect as when in English we use 
an epithet and add extremely so or very much so. The verb trans- 
lated suits (or is becoming) is the root of the adjective used in Ps. 
xxxiii. 1. Compare my note on Isai. lii. 7. Holiness is by some 
understood to mean sacredness, immunity from profanation, and 
of course from violent intrusion. See above, on Ps. lxxiv. 3. 
The house of God is here referred to, as the place where he dwelt 
with his people, and they with him. To length of days, see Ps. 
sxiii. 6. 



This psalm may be divided into two parts, in the first of which 
the ancient church complains of Jehovah's absence and apparent 
desertion, and of the consequent triumph of his enemies, vs. 1 — 1 1 , 
while in the second she asks and confidently looks for his return 
and their destruction, vs. 12 — 23. There is nothing to determine 
the precise date of the composition, much less to restrict it to any 
particular historical occasion. Though some things in it seem 
peculiarly appropriate to the state of Judah on the eve of the 
Babylonish conquest, it is so constructed as to be a vehicle of 
pious feeling to the church in various emergencies. 


1. God of revenges, Jehovah, God of revenges, shine forth! 
Some interpreters, following the ancient versions, make the last 
Hebrew word a finite verb, as it certainly is in Deut. xxxiii. 2. 
Ps. 1. 2. lxxx. 2 (1.) The meaning then is, he has shined or shines, 
and the psalm opens with a confident anticipation of God's inter- 
vention, as in Ps. xciii. 1. xcvii. 1. xcix. 1. In this case, how- 
ever, the tone of confidence does not reappear until v. 12, and 
the imperatives in v. 2 make the similar construction of the verb 
in this case much more natural, thouo-h less agreeable to usao-e, 
than the other. The terms of this verse are borrowed from Deut. 
xxxii. 35. xxxiii. 2. See above, on Ps. 1. 2. The plural form 
{revenges) denotes fulness and variety. See above, on Ps. xviii. 
51 (50.) This expression, with the two divine names {El and 
Jehovah) recognize God as almighty, eternal, self-existent, 


bound by covenant to bis people, and alone entitled to take 


2. Raise thyself, Judge of the Earth, return a recompense upon 
the proud. The first verb is equivalent in meaning to the more 
familiar term arise, i. e. arouse thyself from inactivity, address 
thyself to action. See above, on Ps. iii. S (7.) The specific 
sense, which some interpreters assume, l ascend the judgment- 
seat,' is not expressed by this verb, but suggested by the context. 
The word translated recompense strictly means the treatment of 
one person by another, to return which is to retaliate or recom- 
pense it. See above, on Ps. vii. 5 (4), and compare Ps. lxxix. 
12. The use of the particle upon implies the inequality of the 
parties or the superiority of the avenger, from whom the recom- 
pense, as it were, comes down upon the guilty. 

3. How long shall wicked [men), Jehovah, how long shall wicked 
[men) triumph ? The question, as usual in such cases, implies 
that they have already triumphed long enough or too long, and 
therefore really involves a prayer that they may triumph no 
longer. The interruption and resumption of the sentence is like 
that in v. 1, and in Ps. xcii. 9 (8.) xciii. 1, 3. 

4. (How long) shall they pour forth, utter insolence, talk of 
themselves — all the workers of iniquity ? This is usually taken as 
an independent proposition, they pour forth, etc. But it seems a 
more natural construction to continue the interrogation from the 
other sentence. Pour forth is a figure for excessive and unad- 
vised speech. Sec above, on Ps. lix. 8 (7), and compare Ps. 
xix. 3 (2.) Utter in words, speak, talk. Insolence, arrogance, 
as in Ps. lxxv. 6 (5.) The last verb is a reflexive form of the 
verb ("i^a) to say, occurring only here. According to the gen- 
eral analogy of those forms, it may mean to talk to one's self, or 


of one's self, or with each other. The second agrees best with 
what is said just before of their insolent or arrogant discourse. 

5. Thy people, Jehovah, they grind (or crush), and thy inheri- 
tance they humble (or afflict.) The first verb means to bruise, 
break in pieces, or reduce to powder. The people and heritage of 
Grod are synonymous expressions, the people being so called be- 
cause they belonged to him, and were possessed by him, from 
generation to generation. The terms of this verse seem to point 
out foreign persecutors or oppressors as the subject of complaint. 

6. Widow and stranger ttiey Ml, and orphans they murder. 
The strongest description of injustice and violence is given by 
saying, that they not only wrong but murder the very classes of 
sufferers, who in the Law are constantly exhibited as objects of 
compassion. See Ex. xxii. 20—23 (21—24.) Deut. x. 18. 

7. And they say, Jah will not see, and the God of Jacob ivill not 
attend. The same impious presumption is expressed in Ps. x. 
11, 13. xiv. 1. lix. S (7.) The divine names are, as usual, sig- 
nificant. That the self-existent and eternal God should not see, 
is a palpable absurdity ; and scarcely less so, that the G-od of 
Israel should suffer his own people to be slaughtered without even 
observing it. The last verb means to mark, note, notice. 

8. Attend ye brutish among the people ; and ye fools, when will 
ye act wisely! See above, on Ps. lxxiii. 22. xcii. 7 (6.) The 
first verb is the same with that at the end of the preceding verse. 
It is stronger than the English word attend, implying in all cases, 
an intelligent attention, so that it may be rendered, as it is by 
many, understand. The word translated brutish is a participle, 
denoting habitual conduct or a permanent condition. The ques- 
tion in the last clause is a virtual exhortation to begin at once. 
The verb in this clause has its usual active meaning. Sec above. 


on Ps. ii. 10. xiv. 2. xli. 2 (1.) In (or among) the people no 
doubt means in Israel itself, as in Judg. v. 9, where the form of 
expression is the same. 

9. Shall the planter of the ear — shall he not hear? Or the 
former of the eye, shall he not see ? The words translated planter 
and former are active participles, and denote something con- 
tinually going on. The figure of planting suggests the two ideas 
of formation and insertion. By a similar figure we might speak 
in English of implanting the faculty or sense of hearing. The 
act denoted by the parallel Hebrew word is that of shaping, 
moulding. The participle here used, when employed as a noun, 
means a potter. See above, Ps. ii. 9. The peculiar form of the 
translation of the first clause is intended' to represent that of the 
original, in which the interrogative but not the negative particle 
is repeated. This may be reckoned as another instance of the 
reduplicated forms by which this series of psalms is characterized. 

10. Shall the reprover of nations — shall he not chastise — he that 
teaches mankind knowledge ? The antithesis is not between Israel 
and the Gentiles, but between whole nations or all mankind and 
individual offenders. Reprover, the one reproving or accustomed 
to reprove, warn, or admonish. See above, on Ps. ii. 10. xvi. 7. 
The parallel term is nearly synonymous and means to correct by 
word or deed. The structure of the first clause is the same as in 
the verse preceding. In the last clause, by an aposiopesis not un- 
common in the Hebrew idiom, the parallelism is left to be com- 
pleted by the reader. The full sense seems to ie, is he who 
teaches all mankind not competent to teach men individually ? 
He that teaches, literally, the (one) teaching. 

11. Jehovah knows the thoughts of mankind, that they (are) 
vanity. The verbal form is still that of a participle, knowing^ 
habitually knowing, what they are and what they deserve. Such 


knowledge carries with it, as a necessary consequence^ condem- 
nation and punishment. See above, on Ps. i. 6. Thoughts, pur- 
poses, designs. See above, on Ps. xl. 5 (4.) ' Instead of that, 
some give the particle its usual sense of for, because, without a 
material change of meaning. The pronoun they seems in English 
to relate necessarily to thoughts ; but in Hebrew the more natural 
antecedent is man as a generic or collective term, because the 
pronoun is masculine and thoughts feminine ; because the same 
thing is predicated, in the same form, of men themselves, Ps. 
xxxix. 6, 12 (5, 11) ; and because this idea is better suited to 
the context here. 

12. Happy the man whom thou warnest, Jah, and from thy law 
teachest him. This is the turning point, at which the tone of the 
composition becomes more encouraging. The word for man is 
the one implying strength, and here suggesting the idea, that he 
is truly fortunate whose strength arises from the divine counsel 
and control. Warnest and wilt warn, or admonish, the same 
verb that occurs in the first clause of v. 10. From thy law may be 
partitively understood, as meaning something of thy law, a part or 
portion of it. But it more probably means out of, from, thy law, 
as the source of consolation and instruction. See above, on Ps. 
xxii. 26 '(25.) 

13. To give him rest fronudays of evil, until a pit be digged 
for the wicked. Compare Ps. xlix. 6 (5.) cxii. 8. The first 
verb is a causative, to make him rest. From days of evil does not 
mean merely after them, but so as to escape them. The last 
clause ensures the safety of the righteous even during the pros- 
perity and triumph of the wicked. 

14. For Jehovah will not forsake his people, and his inheritance 
he will not leave. The reason why they are happy who confide in 
and obey the divine instructions is that God can never utterly for- 


322 PSALM XC1V. 

sake those who thus trust him, although he may leave them for a 
time when they leave him. See Deut. xxxii. 15. Judg. vi. 13. 
Tsai. ii. 6. 

15. For unto righteousness shall judgment turn, and after it 
(shall go) all the upright in heart. The apparent disturbance of 
the divine administration is to cease, and justice to return to its 
accustomed channels. In the last clause the righteous are de- 
scribed as following in its train or attending its triumphal march. 

16. Who will arise for me with evil-doers ? Who will stand up 
for me with workers of iniquity ? Arise, address himself to ac- 
tion. See above, on Ps. iii. 8 (7.) For me, for my support in 
my defence. With, in conflict or contention with. Stand up, 
take a stand, assume a position. See above, on Ps. ii. 2. Evil- 
doers, as in Ps. xcii. 12 (11.) Workers of iniquity, as in v. 4 
above. The interrogation in this verse prepares the way for the 
expression of confidence in that which follows. 

17. Unless Jehovah (were) a help for me, soon would my soul 
inJiaUt silence. The phrase a help for me occurs above, Ps. 
Ixiii. S (7), and a similar one, Ps. xliv. 27 (26.) For the mean- 
ing of the phrase translated soon, see above, on Ps. ii. 12. lxxxi. 
15 (14.) To dwell in (or inhabit) silence is to be constantly sur- 
rounded by the silence of the grave or of death. See above, Ps. 
xxxi. 18 (17), and below, Ps. cxv. 17. 

18. If I say, My foot slips, thy mercy, oh Jehovah, holds me up. 
If at any time my hope of safety from the Lord's protection yields 
to fear, his grace sustains and rcinvigorates it. The preterites 
in the Hebrew of the first clause imply that such lapses or temp- 
tations have occurred in his experience, when his foot seemed to 
have- swerved or slipped already ; while the future at the close 


represents the act of sustentation as one which he expects to be 
continued or renewed hereafter. 

19. In the multitude of my cares within me, thy comforts cheer 
my soul. The second noun, which is of rare occurrence, does not 
mean thoughts in general, but uneasy, anxious thoughts, solici- 
tudes, or cares. The addition of within me renders still more 
prominent the idea that it was not mere external troubles that dis- 
turbed his peace. Thy comforts, the consolations of thy word. 
See above, on v. 13. Cheer or shall cheer, gladden, or exhilarate. 
My soul not only completes the parallelism, but suggests the idea 
of a cordial genuine exhilaration. Sec above, on Ps. iii. 3 (2.) 

20. Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which 
frameth mischief by a law. This, which is the version in the 
English Bible, yields a good sense, and the one preferred by some 
of the best interpreters. Others explain the last clause, framing 
mischief against law. In either case, framing means contriving, 
plotting. The first verb in Hebrew is supposed by some to be a 
passive form, shall it be associated or allied {'with) thee, the con- 
nective particle being omitted by a common poetic license, for 
another instance of which see above, Ps. v. 5 (4.) Others ex- 
plain it as an active verb corresponding with the dubious Eng- 
lish verb to felloivship a person. Iniquity, or more exactly, crimes. 
See above, on Ps. v. 10 (9.) xxxviii. 13 (12.) Iii. 4, 9 (2, 7.) 
lv. 12 (11.) lvii. 2 (l.)xci. 3. Both this word and its parallel 
translated mischief are applied in usage to the sufferings brought 
upon one person by the misconduct of another. With respect to 
the second term (bte3>), see above, on Ps. vii. 17 (16.) 

21. They croicd upon the soul of the righteous, and innocent 
blood they condemn. The first verb means to rush in crowds or 
troops, and may therefore be expressed in English by the verbs, 
to crowd, to troop. Condemn, literally, make guilty, i. c. recognize 


and treat as such. The futures, as usual, suggest the probable 
continuance of the evil in question. 

22. And (yet) Jehovah has been to me for a high-place, and my 
God for the rock of my refuge. Our idiom would require but at 
the beginning of this sentence. The verb to be followed by for, 
is sometimes used in Hebrew to express the meaning of our verb 
become, which may here be considered as at least included. A 
high-place, beyond the reach of danger. My rock of refuge, the 
rock where I take refuge from my enemies. See above, on Ps. 
ix. 10 (9.) xviii. 3 (2.) xlvi. 8, 12 (7, 11.) xlviii. 4 (3.) lix. 10, 
18 (9, 17.) 

23. And he returns upon them their iniquity, and in their wicked- 
ness lie will destroy them, (yes) destroy them will Jehovah our God. 
The first verb denotes retaliation or requital, The preposition 
upon suggests the idea of infliction by a superior power. In- 
iquity expresses their misconduct towards others, wickedness the 
general depravity which prompted it. In their wickedness, i. e. in 
the midst of it, and by implication on account of it. The verb 
destroy is the one used in Ps. liv. 7 (5.) lxix. 5 (4.) ci. 5. The 
repetition of the last verb with its object is like that in Ps. xc. 17. 
Compare Ps. xcii. 8 (7.) xciii. 4. xciv. 1. The force of this 
emphatic repetition may be partially secured in English by a par- 
ticle of affirmation, yea or yes. 



This psalm contains, first, an exhortation from the Psalmist to 
praise God as the creator and the sovereign of the earth, vs. 1 — 8, 
and then, a warning from God himself to his people not to imitate 
the obstinate unbelief of their fathers in the wilderness, vs. 9 — 11. 
The psalm is quoted in the New Testament (Heb. iv. 7) as what 
God said in David, which may either mean the Book of Psalms, 
so called from its chief author, or this particular psalm, as actually 
written by him. The latter supposition, although not necessary, 
is entirely admissible, because, however suitable the psalm may 
seem to particular junctures long posterior to David, the very 
generality of its expressions makes it probable that it was not 
composed in the midst of the events, but long beforehand. 

1. Come, let us sing unto Jehovah, let us shout unto the rock of 
our salvation. The first verb properly means go, but is constantly 
used like come in other languages, as a formula of invitation, in 
summoning others to participate in some act of the speaker. The 
two verbs in this verse are those commonly applied to the vocal 
expression of joy and triumph. The rock of our salvation, the 
strong ground of our confidence, the basis upon which our hope 
of safety rests. See above, on Ps. xviii. 3 (2), and compare Ps 
lxii. 8 (7.) xcii. 16 (15.) xciv. 22. 

2. Let us come before his face with thanksgiving, and in songs 
let us shout unto him. The first verb is here used in its primary 
and proper sense. See above, on Ps. xvii. 13. That of sur- 


prising, or taking by surprise, upon which some interpreters in- 
sist, is neither intelligible in itself, nor suited to the context, nor 
justified by usage. To shout in songs is to sing aloud and with 
a voice of triumph. 

3. For a great God (is) Jehovah, and a great King above ail 
gods. This is not inconsistent with the doctrine elsewhere taught, 
that other sods have no real existence. See below, Ps. xcvi. 
4, 5, where both truths are asserted together. The very name 
of God used in the first clause is expressive of omnipotence. 

4. In whose hand are the depths of the earth and the strength of 
the hills (belongs) to him. God's possession of the whole earth is 
so asserted as to leave no room for other gods. The word trans- 
lated depths means, according to its etymology, places to be 
searched into, i. e. requiring search to find them, inmost recesses. 
The word translated strength is plural in Hebrew, and seems 
properly to mean fatiguing exertions, from which some derive the 
idea of strength, others that of extreme height, which can only 
be reached by exhausting effort. 

5. To whom (belongs) the sea, and he made it, and the dry land 
his hands did form. The land and water are here put together, 
as the depths and heights are in v. 4, to describe the earth in its 
whole extent as subject to Jehovah, by virtue of his right as 
its creator. 

6. Come, let us how down and bend, let us kneel before Jehovah 
cur Maker. The come at the berrinnincr of this verse is not a mere 
particle of exhortation, as in v. 1, but an invitation to God's 
presence. The Hebrew verb is one that strictly means to come, 
and sometimes to enter. See above, on Ps. Ixxi. 16. This verse 
requires the external indication of devout emotion, and not the 


mere internal feeling, although the latter is the most essential, as 
appears from what follows. 

7. For He (is) our God, and wc (arc) the people of his pasture, 
and the sheep of his hand, to-day, if to his voice ye will hearken. 
Tbe people of his pasture are those fed and nurtured by him. 
The sheep of his hand are those led and guarded by him. See 
above, on Ps. xxiii. 3, 4. Ixxiv. 1. Ixxx. 13 (12.) We not only 
have been so, but are so now, to-day, provided we obey him. 
The last clause contains the condition of the first, precisely as in 
Ps. lxxxi. 9 (8.) In both cases this construction is more natural 
and satisfactory than either of the others among which interpre- 
ters have been divided ; some making if an optative particle, 
' if ye would only hear !' — some supplying an apodosis, as in Ex. 
xxiii. 21, 22, to which there seems to be an obvious allusion ; — some 
continuing the sentence into the next verse, which is forbidden by 
the change of person there. This last construction is adopted in 
the Septuagint, as quoted in Heb. iii. 9 ; but this decides no- 
thing as to the Hebrew syntax. To hear (or hearken to) God's 
voice is a common Hebrew phrase for obeying his commands. 

S. Harden not your heart like Meribah, like the day of Massah 
in the wilderness. Be not wilfully and obstinately insensible. 
Your heart, in the singular number, because the people are ad- 
dressed as an ideal person. Like Meribah, i. e. as your fathers 
did at Meribah. Like the day of Massah, as they did at that 
period of your national history associated with the name of 
Massah. The reference is to Ex. xvii. 7. The incident there re- 
corded is here specified, for the sake of the significant names given 
to the place, Meribah (strife) and Massah (temptation.) God 
himself is here abruptly introduced as speaking. See above, on 
Ps. xlvi. 11 (10.) lxxv. 3, 4 (2, 3.) lxxxvii. 4. xci. 14. 

9. When (or where) your fathers tempted me; they proved me 


(and) also saw my work. The first word in Hebrew is the rela- 
tive pronoun, ichich for in which, as in Ps. Ixxxiv. 4 (3.) This 
may either mean in which place (where), or at which time (when), 
more probably the former, as the preceding verse is full of local 
nouns. Tempted »ic, see above, on Ps. lxxviii. 18, 41. Proved 
me, put me to the proof of my existence, presence, and power, 
by requiring me to work, i. e. to act in an extraordinary manner. 
And this desire, unreasonable as it was, I gratified. They not 
only demanded but they likewise (lar^ saw my work, i. e. what I 
could do. Some restrict these last words to the previous dis- 
plays of God's almighty power, especially the plagues of Egypt. 
' They proved me, or put me to the proof, although they had seen 
my work.' But neither the sense thus put upon the likewise, nor 
the pluperfect meaning of the verb, should be assumed without a 
greater necessity than here exists. 

10. Forty years I am vexed with a (wicked) generation, ajid 
say, A people of wanderers in heart {are) they, and they do not 
know wy ways. The first verb strictly means to be sick of, or 
disgusted with, a thing or person. The future form expresses 
more distinctly the idea of protracted trial and annoyance. A 
generation, or contemporary race, as distinguished from mere 
individuals. This expression is the more appropriate because 
the threatening was fulfilled, with scarcely an exception, in the 
whole generation that came out of Egypt. The qualifying epi- 
thet supplied in the translation is derived from Deut. 1. 35 
(compare Deut. ii. 14.) I say or said, i. e. I had occasion or 
good cause to say, I could have said with truth, or I was com- 
pelled to say. The next clause contains an allusion to their two- 
fold wandering or error. Thfey were not only wanderers in body 
but in heart, i. e. they erred from the path of duty, truth, and 
safety. This, allusion seems to be continued in the last clause. 
They were not more bewildered in the mazes of the trackless 
waste, than ignorant of God's ways, i. e of the meaning and de- 


sign of his providential dealings with them. Compare Deut. 
xxix. 3. 

11. Unto whom I sic are in my wrath, If they shall come into 
my rest (or resting-place.) Here again the first word is a relative 
pronoun, and may either he a dative, as in the common version of 
the first clause above given ; or an adverb of time or place (when 
or tchere) as in v. 9 above ; or a conjunction (so that) as the latest 
interpreters prefer. The conditional clause, with which the 
sentence closes, is the strongest form of negation, being that em- 
ployed in the most solemn oaths. See above, on Ps. lxxxix. 
36 (35.) It is here equivalent to saying, they shall not come, etc. 
The form of speech is that actually used in the original threat- 
ening, as recorded by Moses, Num. xiv. 23, 30. Deut i. 35. 
The word for rest is not an abstract but a local term as indicated 
by its form. It is here applied to the Promised Land, as in Deut. 
xii. 9. There is something unusual and abrupt in the conclusion 
of this psalm, without any cheering prospect to relieve the 
threatening. This may be best explained by assuming, that it 
was not meant to stand alone, but to form one of a series 


A joyous celebration of the universal spread of the true reli- 
gion and conversion of the Gentiles. The structure of the psalm 
is perfectly simple, and all attempts at artificial subdivision .and 
arrangement are either wholly arbitrary or founded upon dubious 
hypotheses. The marked resemblance of the diction to that of 

330 PSALM XCV1. 

Isaiah in his later prophecies, has been thought to fix the date of tho 
composition as posterior to that Prophet. This seems indeed to be 
forbidden by the fact that in 1 Chr. xvi, as commonly interpreted, 
this psalm, with portions of others, is said to have been sung at 
the dedication of the tabernacle on Mount Zion in the time of 
David. But accordino- to Hen^stenbero;, the true sense of that 
passage is, that David instituted the musical service of the sanc- 
tuary, of which samples are then given, taken not from the most 
ancient psalms, but from those most familiar to the people when 
the history was written. See below, the prefatory note to Ps. cv 
and cvi. The psalm before us seems to form a pair or double 
psalm with that preceding, the Jews and Gentiles being then 
successively addressed, as in Isai. ii. 3 — 5, but in an inverted order. 

1. Sing unto Jehovah a new song ; sing unto Jehovah all ike 
earth. A new song implies fresh occasion to praise God, net 
for the mere repetition of his former favours, but for some new 
dispensation of his grace. See above, on Ps. xxxiii. 3. xl. 3 (2.) 
The one here meant is the extension of his favour to the nations, 
who are therefore summoned in the last clause to celebrate his 
praise themselves. Compare Isai. xlii. 10. P*ev. v. 9, 10. 

2. Sing unto Jehovah, bless his name, proclaim from day to day 
his salvation. To bless his name is to praise him for the mani- 
festation of his attributes. The verb translated proclaim is con- 
stantly applied to joyful tidings. See above, on Ps. xl. 10 (9.) 
Ixviii. 12 (11), and compare Isai. lx. 9. Hi. 7. lx. 6. The phrase 
from day to day implies that the occasion of the praise required 
is not a transient one but permanent and perpetual. His salva- 
tion, that which he has wrought, provided, and revealed, not for 
the Jews only but for the Gentiles also. With this and the pre- 
ceding verse compare 1 Chr. xvi. 23. 

3. Recount among the nations his glory, among all the peoples his 

PSALM XCVr. 331 

wonders. The use of glory, to denote the special manifestation 
of God's attributes, is a characteristic feature of Isaiah's later pro- 
phecies. To preclude all doubt as to the extent of the invitation, 
the ambiguous expression all the earth, in v. 1, is here explained 
to mean the nations, and then still more absolutely all the peoples. 
The only variation of the parallel passage (1 Chr. xvi. 24) is the 
insertion of the objective particle (r.a) in the first clause. 

4. For great (is) Jehovah and to be praised exceedingly ; to be 
feared (is) He above all Gods. He is not a mere local deity, as 
the heathen were disposed to imagine, even in reference to their 
own divinities. With this verse compare Ps. xlvii. 3 (2.) xlviii 
2 (1.) Ixxvii. 14 (13.) lxxxvi.. S. xcv. 3. xcvii. S. xcix. 2. 

5. For all the gods of the nations are nothings, and Jehovah 
the heavens did make. Nothings, nonentities, a favourite descrip- 
tion of idols in Isaiah's later prophecies. See e. g. Isai. xli. 24, 
and compare Lev. xix. 4. xxvi. 1. 1 Cor. viii. 4 — 6. x. 19. A 
less probable etymology of the Hebrew word . makes it a diminu- 
tive of (isj) El, analogous to godlings as an expression of contempt. 

, The contrast intended is extreme and absolute. He called the 
world into existence ; they do not even exist themselves. See 
above, Ps. xcv. 4. 

6. Honour and majesty (are) before him, strength and beauty 
in his holy-place. The first combination occurs above, Ps. xlv. 
4 (3.) Before him, as his constant attendants or forerunners. 
Beauty, all that is lovely and admirable. See above, on Ps. 
lxxi. 8. His holy place, his earthly residence, regarded as a 
radiating centre even to the G-entiles ; or the place where God 
reveals himself, whatever it may be. 

7. Give to Jehovah, ye families of nations, give to Jehovah glory 
and strength. Compare Ps. xxix. 1. Here, as there, to give is 


to ascribe or recognize as belonging to him. The expression 
families of tuitions is Mosaic. See Gen. xii. 3. The parallel pas- 
sage (1 Chr. xvi. 27) has, strength and joy (are) in his place. 

8. Give unto Jehovah the glory of his name ; take an offering 
and come to his courts. With the first clause compare Ps. xxix 
2. The verb translated take includes the ideas of taking up and 
carrying. See above, on Ps. lxviii. 30 (29.) lxxii. 10. lxxvi. 12, 
and compare 2 Sam. viii. 2. The word offering is the one used 
to denote the bloodless or vegetable oblation of the Mosaic ritual. 
His courts, see above, on Ps. lxv. 5 (4.) lxxxiv. 3 (2.) xcii. 14 (13.) 
The parallel passage (1 Chr. xvi. 29) has before him. 

9. Bow down to Jehovah in beauty of holiness ; tremble before 
him, all the earth ! The first verb denotes the act of bowing to 
the ground, as practised in the East. For the meaning of the 
next phrase, beauty of holiness, see above, on Ps. xxix. 2, from 
which place it is borrowed here. The last clause enjoins the 
reverential awe due to the exhibition of the divine majesty. Com- 
pare Ps. ii. 11. The plural form of the verb (tremble ye) shows 
that the earth is put for its inhabitants. Before him, literally, 
from his face. The parallel passage (1 Chr. xvi. 30) has a double 
preposition, a Hebrew idiom which cannot be reproduced in Eng- 
lish, and which does not in the least affect the sense. We also 
find there added to the verse before us the middle clause or mem- 
ber of the next verse. 

10. Say ye among the nations, Jehovah reigns ; likewise fixed 
is the world, it shall not be moved ; He will judge the peoples in 
rectitude. The object of address can only be the nations them- 
selves, as in the foregoing context. They are therefore summoned 
to announce the joyful news to one another. Jehovah reigns, has 
begun to reign, i. e. visibly. See above, on Ps. xciii. 1, and com- 
pare Isai. xxiv. 23. lii. 7. As in Ps. xciii. 1, the conservation 

PSALM XCV1. 333 

of the world is ascribed to God's power, so here to his justice. 
Compare Ps. Ixxv. 4 (3.) He will judge the nations : see above, 
on Ps. vii. 9 (S.) lxxii. 2, 4, and compare Isai. xi. 4. In equities, 
see above, on Ps. Ixxv. 3 (2.) It may here mean impartiality, 
without distinction between Jew and Gentile. This last clause 
is omitted in the parallel passage (1 Chr xvi. 31) which also 
has instead of say ye, they shall say, and joins it to what is here 
the next verse. 

11. Let the heavens rejoice and the earth exult ; let the sea roar 
and its fulness. The optative form of the second verb deter- 
mines the meaning of the other futures, which, however, really 
include a prediction or, what here amounts to the same thing, a 
confident anticipation. Its fulness, that which fills it, its contents. 
This verse does not necessarily imply a participation of inferior 
creatures in God's favour to his people (Rom. viii. 21), but 
may be understood as a strong poetical description of events so 
joyous that even the inanimate creation breaks forth into singing. 
Compare Isai. xliv. 23. lv. 12. The verb translated roar is a 
cognate form of that which means to thunder, Ps. xxix. 3. 

12. Let the field exult and all that (is) in it ; then shall sing 
for joy all the trees of the wood (or forest.) The strict sense 
of the future, which was latent in the preceding verse, here, by a 
beautiful transition, reasserts itself. See below, on Ps. exxvi. 2, 
and compare Isai. xxxv. 5, 6. The field is the cultivated and 
productive portion of the earth. All that is in it, with particular 
reference to its productions. Sing for joy is the translation of a 
single verb in Hebrew. See above, on Ps. xcv. 1. The paral- 
lel passage (1 Chr. xvi. 32, 33) has precisely the same sense, 
but with two slight variations in the words, a less familiar form 
being substituted in one case, and a more familiar form in tho 


13. Before Jehovah, for he cometh, for he comcth to judge the 
earth ; he shall judge the world in righteousness, and nations in 
his truth (or faithfulness.) The rejoicing described in the pre- 
ceding verse is to take place in the presence (literally, to the 
face) of God when he assumes-his universal sovereignty, the ju- 
dicial function of which is here made prominent, in order to sug- 
gest the moral perfection of his reign. In righteousness, not 
merely in a righteous manner, hut in the exercise of his inherent 
and essential justice. The use of the word people, in the com- 
mon version of the last clause, obscures the sense, by seeming to 
apply the verse to Israel, whereas it is expressly applied in the 
original to the nations generally. Even the truth or faithfulness 
of God, which commonly denotes his veracity in fulfilling his 
promises to the chosen people, has here a, wider sense, as opposed 
to the dishonesty or partiality of human judges. In the parallel 
passage (1 Chron. xvi. 33) the emphatic repetition in the first 
clause, and the whole of the last clause, are omitted, perhaps be- 
cause so striking and sonorous a conclusion would not have been 
appropriate, when another psalm was to be added. 


PSALM X C Y 1 1 . 

Another exhibition of Jehovah's universal sovereignty, in which 
his judicial functions are again made prominent, but with special 
reference to the condemnation and destruction of the unbelieving 
nations. The structure of the psalm is remarkably like that of 
the second, consisting of four stanzas of three verses each. The 
first describes the Lord's appearing as the Judge of the Nations, 
vs. 1 — 3. The second, its effects upon inanimate creation, vs. 
4 — 6. The third, its effects upon idolaters and Israel respectively. 


vs. 7 — 9. The fourth applies it as a present warning and en- 
couragement to true believers, vs. 10 — 12. The characteristic 
feature of the psalm is its frequent citation of older scriptures, 
all anterior to the Babylonish exile, from which Hengstenberg 
infers, not only the date of this composition, but the fact that all 
the sacred writings of the ancient Hebrews are now extant in the 

1 . Jehovah reigneth, let the earth exult ; glad he the many 
islands ! For the meaning of the first clause, see above, on Ps. 
xciii. 1. xcvi. 10; for that of the second, on Ps. xcvi. 11. The 
manifestation of the divine royalty is often represented as a cause 
for universal joy, even when attended by direct advantage only 
to the chosen people, and by fearful judgments to mankind at 
large. See above, on Ps. xviii. 50 (49.) xlvii. 2 (1), and com- 
pare Deut. xxxii. 43. The last clause bears a strong resemblance 
to Isai. xlii. 10, 12, the use of the word isles in both, to designate 
the Gentiles, being founded upon Gen. x. 5. See also Ps. 
lxxii. 10. The many islands, see above, on Ps. lxxxix. 51 (50.) 

2. Vapour and gloom (are) round him ; righteousness and 
judgment {are) the place of his throne. The images and terms 
in the first clause are borrowed from Deut. v. 22. Compare Ex. 
xix. 16, 18, and see above, on Ps. xviii. 10, 12 (9, 11.) With 
the last clause compare Ps. lxxxix. 15 (14.) Righteousness and 
judgment seem to be here related as the attribute and act. The 
word translated place has, from its very derivation, the specific 
sense of a permanent or fixed place, and especially a dwelling- 
place. Compare 1 Kings viii. 13. The figures in the first 
clause are expressive of concealment or mystery, but only as a 
source of solemn awe, as in the great theophany on Sinai. 

3. Fire lefore him goes, and burns up around [him) his foes. 
With the first clause compare Ps. 1. 3 ; with the last, Isai. 


xlii. 25. See also Ps. lxxxiii. 15 (14.) The future form is 
used because the verb describes not what the wrath of God is 
doing or has actually done, but what it will do when provoked by 
obstinate resistance. 

4. His lightnings made the world shine ; (then) saw and trem- 
bled the earth. Compare Ps. lxxvii. 17, 19 (16, 18.) Here be- 
gins the second stanza, in which, as in most cases of the same 
sort, inanimate creation is described as sharing in the powerful 
effects of the divine epiphany. See above, on Ps. xviii. 8 (7.) 
xcvi. 11, 12, and compare Judg. v. 4. Nah. i. 5. Hab. iii. 6. Isai. 
Ixiv. 1. 

5. Mountains like wax are melted from before Jehovah, from be- 
fore the Lord of all the earth. Compare Mic. i. 4. iv. 13. As 
in all such cases, while mountains are mentioned as the salient 
points of the earth, they suggest, at the same time, the idea of 
great states and kingdoms, of which they are a standing symbol. 
See above, on Ps. xxx. 8 (7.) xlvi. 3 (2.) 

6. The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the nations see 
his glory. With the first clause compare Ps. 1. 6, and with the 
last Isai. xl. 5. lxvi. 18. See also Isai. xxxv. 2. lix. 19. The 
manifestation of Jehovah's glory to the Gentiles is a favourite 
conception of Isaiah, and particularly frequent in his later pro- 

7. Shamed shall be all serving a graven image and boasting 
themselves of idols. Bow down to him, all ye gods ! The first 
word means not merely ashamed, but disappointed, defeated, and 
confounded. All serving or all servers (i. e. worshippers) of a 
graven image. Boasting themselves, exulting in the knowledge 
and possession and imagined favour of material images. Idols, 
nothings or nonentities, as in Ps. xcvi. 5. The use of this word 


shows that in the following clause the false gods are invested with 
existence only to be treated with the more contempt. Compare 
Ex. xii. 12. Num. xxxiii. 4. Isai. xix. 1. xlii. 17. xliv. 9. The 
verb in this clause might be taken as a preterite, worship or have 
worshipped ; but the imperative construction seems to be required 
by the analogy of Ps. xcvi. 9. Tlrcse words are not applied to 
Christ directly in Heb. i. 6. It is merely said that when God 
sends his son into the world, he may be understood as saying 
again (nahv) of him, what is here said of himself, to wit, that even 
the false gods are required to worship him, much more the angels 
who have real existence. The passage was no doubt suggested to 
the mind of the New Testament writer by the fact that the Sep- 
tuagint renders gods by angels, though he does not copy this er- 
roneous version. 

8. Zion hears and rejoices, and glad are the daughters of Judah^ 
because of thy judgments, Jehovah ! While the heathen are con- 
founded-, the people of God rejoice. The terms of the verse are 
borrowed from Ps. xlviii. 12 (11), in the note upon which the 
ambiguous phrase, daughters of Judah, is explained. The judg- 
ments here particularly meant are those inflicted on the unbelieving 

9. For thou, Jehovah, (art) Most High above all the earth; 
greatly art thou exalted above all gods. Jehovah's infinite supe- 
riority to idols and their worshippers is once more solemnly as- 
serted Wi& the first clause compare Ps. lxxxiii. 19 (18) ; with 
the second Ps. xlvii. 10 (9.) It is remarkable that two psalms 
are here put together in quotation, which there is strong internal 
reason for supposing to have been occasioned by a victory of Je- 

10. Lovers of Jehovah, hate evil ! He keeps the souls of his 

gracious ones ; from the hand of wicked (men) he will set them 

338 PSALM XCVil. 

free. The people of G-od are now exhorted not to do evil in the 
hope of thereby being safer. Evil, in the moral sense of wicked- 
ness, and more especially injustice. See above, on Ps. vii. 10 (9.) 
xxxiv. 14, 15. With the first words of the verse compare Ps. v. 
12 (11.) He keeps, or rather, he (is) keeping, i. e. habitually 
constantly preserving. The danger, against which they particu- 
larly need protection, is distinctly mentioned in the last clause, 
namely, that arising from the enmity of wicked men. Gracious 
ones, objects of God's mercy, subjects of his grace, a favourite 
description of the righteous or true believers, as a class. See 
above, on Ps. iv. 4 (3.) 

11. Light (is) sown for the just (man), and for right -hear ted 
(men) joy. The figurative term light is explained by the literal 
one joy or gladness. Its being soivn suggests the two ideas of 
diffusion and productiveness. Compare the similar and parallel 
expression, Ps. cxii. 4. The alternation of the singular and plural 
number shows that the just man of the first clause is an ideal per- 
son, representing a whole class. 

12. Rejoice, ye righteous, in Jehovah, and give thanks to the 
memory of his holiness. Since joy is the portion of the righteous, 
let them accept it and make use of it, but only in the Lord, i. e. 
in reference to the possession and enjoyment of his favour, as the 
reason and the warrant for rejoicing. At the same time let them 
testify their gratitude to that divine perfection which is treasured 
in their memory and suggested by the name of G-od. See above, 
on Ps. xxx. 5 (4.) xxxii. 11, from which the language of this 
Terse is borrowed. 

PSALM XCV11J. 339 


This psalm is similar, in tone and structure, to the one before 
it, containing three stanzas of three verses each. The first pro- 
pounds the subject of the praise to which the whole world is ex- 
horted, vs. 1 — 3. The second prescribes the form in which it 
shall be rendered, vs. 4 — 6. The third determines its extent, or 
in other words, requires it to be universal, vs. 7 — 9. 

1. A Psalm. Sing ye to Jehovah a new song, for wonders he 
has done ; his right hand has wrought salvation for him, and his 
holy arm. This is the only case in which the word psalm (^nfctto) 
stands by itself as a complete inscription. This fact has been in- 
geniously explained by supposing, that the word was intended to 
distinguish this, as a purely lyrical composition, from the one be- 
fore it, which has more of the prophetic character and style. 
The first clause after this inscription is like Ps. xcvi. 1, where the 
words have been explained already. Wonders, or wondrous deeds, 
things wonderfully done, as in Ps. xcvi. 3. Wrought salvation, 
literally, saved for him, i. e. enabled him to save his people. The 
idea and expression are both found in lsai. lix. 16. Ixiii. 5, as the 
expression arm of holiness (or holy arm) is in lsai. lii. 10. This 
is one of the cases in which holiness has the wide sense of divine 
perfection, as opposed to what is finite or belongs to the creature. 
See above, on Ps. xxii. 4 (3.) With the whole verse compare 
Judg. vii. 2. The allusions to Isaiah, or quotations from him, 

340 PSALM XCVI11. 

show that the wonders to be celebrated are like those which con- 
stitute the theme of his later prophecies, namely, Jehovah's in- 
terpositions for the deliverance and protection of his people. 

2. Jehovah hath made known his salvation, to the eyes of the na- 
tions he hath revealed his righteousness. He has shown the world 
his power and his willingness to save his own people according to 
his promise, with respect to which his righteousness and his salva- 
tion are related to each other as cause and effect. "With this verse 
compare Isai. lii. 10. 

3. He hath remembered his mercy and his truth for the house of 
Israel ; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. 
The common version connects to the house of Israel with what im- 
mediately precedes, the mercy and truth which he formerly ex- 
ercised towards the house of Israel. But according to the 
Hebrew idiom and the usage of the Psalms, the preposition is de- 
pendent on the leading verb ; ' he has called to mind his mercy 
and truth for the present benefit of the house of Israel.' Truth, 
fidelity to his engagements. See the same combination in Ps. 
xcii. 3. The last clause is another citation from Isai. lii. 10, 
which shows that the salvation primarily meant is that of Israel. 
This, however, is closely connected in prophecy with that of the 

4. Shout to Jehovah, all the earth ! Burst forth, and sing, and 
play ! The second stanza prescribes the form or manner of the 
praise. This verse accumulates the verbs denoting joyful noise, 
whether inarticulate, articulate, or instrumental. The first clause 
differs from Ps. xcvi. 1, only by substituting one divine name for 
another. See also Ps. xlvii. 2 (1.) The verb (ns&) to burst 
forth (into praise or singing) is almost peculiar to Isaiah (xiv. 7. 
xliv. 23. xlix. 12. liv. 1.) This very combination with the verb 
to sing occurs in Isai. lii. 9. 


5. Make music to Jehovah with a harp, with a harp anal 
a musical -voice ! The first verb is the one translated play in 
the preceding verse. Its repetition is like that in Ps. xlvii. 
2 (1.) It is strictly applied to instrumental music, but often ex- 
tended to any musical expression, especially of praise to God. A 
musical voice, or a voice of singing, as distinguished from the voice 
of speech. The phrase occurs in Isai. li. 3. The repeated in- 
troduction of the verb "ifcT or its derivatives is supposed by some 
to be the reason of the title -nfaTtt. See above, on v. 1. 

C. With trumpets anal sound of cornet, shout before the King 
Jehovah ! The first noun is supposed to denote the long straight 
trumpet, the other the cornet or curved horn of ancient music. 
These are named as the accompaniments of the act described in 
the other clause, where the verb may therefore have the sense of 
shouting, which it has most generally in these psalms. The act 
described is the joyful acclamation at the accession or public re- 
cognition of a sovereign. King Jehovah is a combination found 
in Isai. vi. £. Compare Ps. xcv. 3. xcvi. 10. xcvii. 1. The 
whole is equivalent to saying, hail him who has now become your 

7. Let the sea thunder and what Jills it — the land and those 
dwelling on it. The last stanza represents the praise as universal. 
For the meaning of the first clause, see above, on Ps. xcvi. 11 ; for 
that of the second, on Ps. xxiv. 1. The word there translated 
world is here used in opposition to sea, and therefore rendered 
land. See above, on Ps. xc. 2. 

8. Let rivers clap the hand; together let mountains sing (or 
shout for joy!) This bold but beautiful personification is also 
found in Isai. \v. 12, the only other place where the clapping of 
the hands is ascribed to lifeless objects. This was a customary 
sign of joy, especially when joined with acclamation in honour 


of a sovereign, as it is not only here, and in Ps. xlvii. 2(1), iu 
highly figurative poetry, but also in historical prose, e. g. the 
account of the coronation of Joash, 2 Kings xi. 12. Together, 
not merely with each other, but at the same time and in concert 
with the applauses of the floods or rivers. 

9. Before Jehovah, for he comet h to judge the earth; he will 
judge the world in righteousness and nations in equity. The ac- 
clamations must be uttered to Jehovah, not only as a sovereign 
king, but as a righteous judge. The first clause is like Ps. 
xcvi. 13, except that it omits the emphatic repetition, which is 
also the case in 1 Chr. xvi. 33. The first verb might, in all these 
cases, be more exactly and emphatically rendered, he is come. 
In equity, literally equities or rectitudes, the plural form denoting 
fulness and perfection. See above, on Ps. xcvi. 10. 


The theme of this psalm, as of those immediately preceding, is 
the ^kingship of Jehovah, v. 1. The remainder falls into two 
stanzas of four verses each. In the first, Jehovah's goodness to 
his people is propounded as a subject of applause to all mankind, 
vs. 2 — 5. In the second, the same duty is enforced by an ap- 
peal to historical examples, vs. 6 — 9. The strophical arrange- 
ment is marked by the resemblance of vs. 5 and 9. The psalm 
is related in the closest manner to those before and after it, as 
forming one connected series. See below, on Ps. c. 

1. Jehovah reigns, the nations tremMe; sitting on (or dwelling 


between) the cherubim (he reigns), the earth quakes. The second 
member of each clause describes the effect produced by the dis- 
closure of the fact that God has begun to reign, is actually 
reigning. For the meaning of the phrase sitting on (or dwelling 
between) the cherubim, see above, on Ps. lxxx. 2(1.) As used in 
history, it always presupposes the presence of the ark as symbol- 
izing that of God himself. See 1 Sam. iv. 4. 2 Sam. vi. 2. 
2 Kings xix. 15. Its use here, therefore, shows that the psalm 
before us, and by necessary consequence, the series to which it 
belongs (Ps. xci — c), and by parity of reasoning, the later pro- 
phecies of Isaiah, were all composed before the Babylonian eon- 
quest, when the temple was destroyed and the ark lost sight of. 
The futures have their strict sense, as this is a prediction. If 
they were optative {let the -nations tremble, etc.) one of the verbs 
at least would have that form. 

2. Jehovah in. Zion (is) great, and high (is) he above all na- 
tions. Compare Ps. xlviii. 2 (1.) xcv. 3. xcvi. 4. xcvii. 9. The 
addition of the qualifying phrase in Zion shows that the reference 
is not to God's absolute essential greatness, but to some signal 
manifestation of his greatness to his people. The word translated 
high is originally a participle, and may be likened to our English 

3. They shall acknowledge thy name, great and terrible : Holy 
(is) He I The subject of the first verb is the nations mentioned 
in v. 2. See above, Ps. xcvi. 9. xcvii. 7. xcviii. 1, 4. The verb 
itself means to acknowledge thankfully, to thank, to praise for 
benefits received. See above, on Ps. vi. 5 (4.) Thy name, the 
evidence already furnished of thine infinite perfection. Great 
and feared, or to be feared, epithets derived from Deut. x. 17. 
xxviii. 58. In the last clause some would read, Holy (is) it, i. e 
thy name. But the sense is determined by the analogy of vs. 
5, 9, and the obvious allusion to Isai. vi. 3. This allusion is by 


some supposed to be the reason of the sudden change of person, 
He instead of Thou. But this may be still more readily ac- 
counted for, by making these the very words in 'which God is 
acknowledged by the nations : (saying) Holy is He ! Holy, in 
the wide sense which it has in the Old Testament, and more par- 
ticularly in the Psalms. See above, on Ps. xxii. 4 (3.) 

4. And the Jdngh strength loves judgment ; thou hast established 
equity ; judgment and justice in Jacob thou hast done. Some con- 
tinue the construction from the preceding sentence ; they shall 
acknowledge thy name and the hinges strength loving judgment. 
But as sentences of this length are unusual in Hebrew, and as 
mtia is not elsewhere a participle or verbal adjective, the best 
construction is the old one which makes this an independent 
proposition. The meaning of the first clause seems to be, that 
God's power is controlled in its exercise by his love of justice. 
To establish equity is to give it permanence by a habitually pure 
administration of justice. The terms of the last clause are the 
same by which the history describes the judicial fidelity of David, 
2 Sam. viii. 15, as if to indicate that it was a mere type of God's 
more perfect and infallible administration of impartial justice. 

5. Exalt ye Jehovah our God, and prostrate yourselves to his 
footstool. Holy {is) He! With the first clause compare Ps. 
xxx. 2 (1.) xxxiv. 4 (3) ; with the second, Ps. xcvi. 9. xcvii. 7. 
As in those cases, the address is to the nations. Bow down (or 
prostrate) yourselves, as an act of worship. Not at his footstool, 
as the mere place of worship, but to it, as the object, this name 
being constantly given to the ark, 1 Chron. xxviii. 2. Lam. ii. 1. 
Ps. exxxii. 7. Isai. lx. 13. Even in Isai. lxvi. 1, there is al- 
lusion to the ordinary usage of the terms. The ark is here re- 
presented as the object of worship, just as Zion is in Isai. xlv. 14, 
both being put for the God who was present in them. 


6. Moses and Aaron among his priests, and Samuel among 
those calling on his name — calling to Jehovah, and he answers 
them. The structure of the sentence is elliptical, and may be 
completed either by supplying are or were before among, or by 
making the participle calling mean are calling, call. In ex- 
plaining the sentence due regard must be had to its parallel 
structure. As Moses and Aaron are evidently meant to be in- 
cluded among those who called upon the name of the Lord, so 
Samuel must be comprehended among his priests. Moses and 
Samuel are so described because they were theocratic mediators 
between God and the people, and as such performed occasionally 
what were strictly sacerdotal functions. See Lev. viii. 15 — 30. 
1 Sam. ix. 13. The prayers here referred to are their interces- 
sions for the people. See Ex. xviii. 19. xxxii. 11 — 30. Num. 
xi. 2. xiv. 9. xxi. 7. Deut. v. 5. ix. IS, 19. 1 Sam. vii. 9. xii. 23. 
Ps. cvi. 23. The connection of this verse with the foregoinc; con- 
text is obscure, but the idea seems to be, that as even the chiefs 
of the theocracy were under the necessity of seeking the divine 
favour, such prayer must, to say the least, be equally necessary 
in the case of others. 

7. In a pillar of cloud he speaks to them. They kept his testi- 
monies and the statute he gave unto them. The first clause may 
be figuratively understood as denoting any special divine com- 
munication, or what was literally true of Moses and Aaron (Ex. 
xxxiii. 9. Num. xii. 5. Deut. xxxi. 15) may be here applied to all 
three indiscriminately. The verse contains a second lesson 
drawn from the history of the theocracy, to wit, the necessity of 
obedience no less than of prayer. It was true, God spoke to these 
men in an extraordinary manner ; but it was for the purpose of 
making known his will, and that will they obeyed. For the 
meaning of testimonies, see above, on Ps. xciii. 5. The last 
cfause may be construed as an independent proposition, and he 
gave a statute to them, i. e. he rewarded their obedience by re- 


vealing to them new laws. But the sense thus obtained is aot so 
clear or natural as that afforded by the relative construction, and 
the statute (which) he gave them. 

8. Jehovah our God, thou didst answer them ; a forgiving God 
wast thou to them , and (a God) taking vengeance on their crimes. 
The apostrophe to God himself adds solemnity and tenderness 
to the discourse. The pronoun is emphatic, they called and thou 
didst hear or answer. The following description is borrowed 
from Ex. xxxiv. 7. The divine name (bis) implies that he had 
infinite power to destroy and yet forgave them. The last He- 
brew word in the verse is used of God in a good sense, and of 
man always in a bad one. See above on Ps. ix. 12 (11.) xiv. 1. 
lxxvii. 13 (12.) There is here a beautiful transition from the repre- 
sentatives of the people to the people themselves. The pronoun 
in the first clause (them) can refer only to Moses, Aaron, and 
Samuel ; in the second, it is applicable both to them and to the 
people ; in the third, it relates to the latter exclusively. 

9. Exalt ye Jehovah our God, and low down to his holy hill; 
for holy (is) Jehovah our God. See above, on v. 5, from which 
this differs only in the substitution of the holy hill for the equiva- 
lent expression footstool, and in the more distinct assertion of 
God's holiness as a reason for the worship thus required. 


This psalm is related to the ninety-ninth as the ninety-eighth 
is to the ninety-seventh. The prophecy there latent is here 

PSALM C. 347 

clothed in a genuine lyrical form. There is also the same likeness 
as to structure and arrangement. The theme, propounded in v. 
1, is amplified in two short stanzas, of two verses each. In both 
these an exhortation to praise God is followed by a reason for so 
doing. Men ought to praise him as their creator and preserver, 
vs. 2, 3. They ought also to praise him for his infinite goodness, 
constancy, and faithfulness, vs. 4, 5. Besides completing the 
foregoing psalm, it closes the whole series or cycle of harmonious 
addresses to the nations or the world at large. 

1. A Psalm. For thanksgiving. Shout unto Jehovah, all the 
earth ! The title resembles that of Ps. xcvii., but is rendered 
more specific by the addition for thanksgiving. The version 
praise is too restricted. See above, on Ps. xcix. 3. The rest of 
the verse is identical with Ps. xcviii. 4. See also Ps. ii. 11. lxvi. 1. 

2. Serve Jehovah with joy, come before him with singing ! 
Since he is the king of the nations, they are his subjects, and as 
such bound to serve him. What they are required to do in Ps. 
ii. 11 with fear and trembling as repentant rebels, they are here 
invited to do with joy and gladness as his willing subjects. 

3. Know ye that Jehovah is God; (it is) He (that) made us, and 
not we (ourselves), his people, and the sheep of his pasture. This 
is the first reason given for acknowledging Jehovah's sovereignty, 
to wit, that he has made his people what they are. With the 
first clause compare Ps. xlvi. 11 (10.) Instead of and not we 
ourselves, the keri or masoretic reading in the margin of the He- 
brew Bible has, and his we are. These phrases, though so un- 
like in English, differ only in a single letter, and not ($b) we, 
and to him (ib) we. The first is adopted by the Septuagint and 
Vulgate, the second by the Targum and Jerome. In favour of 
the latter is the similar construction of the pronoun (lama) we 
with (ifr?) his people in Ps. lxxix. 13. xcv. 7. In favour of the 

348 PSALM C. 

other is its antiquity, and its greater significancy and appropriate- 
ness to the context. Some who adopt it read, it is he that has made 
us (to be) his people, the sheep, etc. But besides the violence of this 
construction, he made us has no doubt the same sense as in Ps. 
xcv. 6, and his people must mean us who are his people. Sheep (or 
flock) of his pasture, as in Ps. lxxiv. 1. lxxix. 13. xcv. 7. 

4. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise ; 
give thanks unto him, bless his name ! Compare Ps. lxxxiv. 3 (2.) 
xcii. 14 (13.) xcv. 2. xcvi. 2, 8. xcvii. 12. The substance of the 
exhortation is, join in the worship of his people. That the refer- 
ence to the sanctuary at Jerusalem is merely typical or meta- 
phorical, is clear from the analogy of Isai. lxvi. 23, where all 
mankind are required to come up every sabbath, a command 
which, if literally understood, is perfectly impracticable. The 
combination of the verb to thank (*TTin) with its derivative noun 
(fnift) may throw some light upon the title, a psalm for thanks- 
giving (ITTTtlJ). 

5. For good (is) Jehovah, to eternity his mercy, and even to 
generation and generation his faithfulness (or truth.) This verse 
assigns a second reason for the invitation to praise Jehovah, 
namely, the goodness, truth, and constancy of the divine nature. 
With the first clause compare P3. xxv. 8. xxxiv. 9 (8.) lxxxvi. 5; 
with the second, Isai. liv. 8, 10 ; with the third, Ps. lxxxix.2 (1.) 
xcii. 3 (2.) 

Here ends what Hengstenberg describes as a decalogue of 
Psalms (xci — c), all intended to exhibit the relation between Israel 
and the world at large ; all of a cheering and triumphant character, 
without the slightest intermixture of complaint or lamentation ; 
all crowded with citations from the older Scriptures, or al- 

PSALM C. 349 

lusions to them ; almost all pointing to a glorious theophany still 
future ; and almost all distinguished by emphatic repetitions, and 
the frequent use of musical terms, especially the names of instru- 
ments. That these psalms are not thrown together at random, is 
apparent from the fact that the series begins with a general as- 
surance of divine protection (Ps. xci.), and of God's power both 
to save the righteous and destroy the wicked (Ps. xcii), followed 
by variations on the grand theme that the Lord reigneth 
Ps. xciii — xcix) , and closing with an earnest exhortation to the 
whole world to receive him as their sovereign (Ps. c) The 
mutual relation of the several psalms has been already indicated 
in the exposition. According to Hengstenberg, these ten psalms 
are in Psalmody what the later chapters of Isaiah (xl — lxvi) are 
in Prophecy ; and as the former are undoubtedly anterior to the 
exile ; they confirm the genuineness of the latter. 



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