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Full text of "The Psalms translated and explained"

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TRANSLATED AND EXPLAINED 



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J. A. ALEXANDER 



PROFESSOR IN THE THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY AT PRINvETOW 



VOLUME III 



NEW YORK 
CHARLES SCRIBNER 145 NASSAU STREET 

1856. 



Kntered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1850, hy 

JOSEPH ADDISON ALEXANDER, 

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

New c iisey. 



THE PSALMS. 



PSALM G I . 

After propounding as his theme the mercy and justice of the 
Lord, v. 1, the Psalmist announces his determination to be blame- 
less in his own walk, vs. 2 — 4, and so to exercise his power over 
others as to favour the godly and drive out the wicked, vs. 5 — S. 

1, By David. A Psalm. Mercy arid judgment will I sing ; to 
thee, Jehovah , will I flay (or make music.) As such a declaration 
of a present purpose in the Psalms is always followed by its exe- 
cution, the older interpreters suppose mercy and judgment to be 
those which David meant to practise, as he states more fully in 
the remainder of the psalm. But besides that he says nothing 
in what follows of his mercy , there is no usage of the Psalms 
more settled than that mercy and justice are combined to denote 
divine not human attributes, and that to sing and make music to 
Jehovah never means to praise something else in an address to 
him, but always to sing praises to himself. See above, Ps. ix. 
12 (11.) xiii. 6 (5.) xviii. 50 (49.) xxx. 5 (4.) 13 (12.) xxxiii. 2. 
lxviii. 5 (4.) lxxi. 22, 23, in all which cases the form of expres- 
sion seems to be derived from Judg. v. 3. But the psalm be- 
fore us contains no such celebration of God's mercy and justice 



4 PSALM CI. 

beyond this first verse. The best solution of this fact appears to 
be the one proposed by Hengstenberg, according to which the 
execution of the purpose here avowed is contained in Ps. ciii, 
which then, together with the one before us, and of course the 
interveni-ng one, compose a trilogy or series of three psalms, all 
by David, each complete in itself, and yet designed to be con- 
nected with, the others and interpreted by them. Supposing this 
to be the case, we must regard them all as psalms of David, 
whose name is prefixed to the third and the one before us, in 
which he lays down a rule, as it were, for his own government, 
and that of his successors, in the regal office. The impression 
made by these inspired instructions on the first of those succes- 
sors may account for the remarkable coincidences of expression 
between this psalm and the Book of Proverbs. 

2. I tvill act wisely in a perfect way. When wilt thou come 
to me ? I will walk in the integrity of my heart within my house. 
As to the first verb, see above, on Ps. ii. 10. xiv. 2. Its form 
here is one expressing fixed determination. A perfect way, as in 
Ps. xviii. 31, 33 (30, 32.) This and other favourite expressions 
of the same kind, Ps. xviii. 24, 26 (23, 25.) xv. 2, are founded 
upon Gen. xvii. 1. When wilt thou come to me, and bless me, in 
fulfilment of thy promise, Ex. xx. 21. This interrogative ejacu- 
lation implies a sense of his dependence on divine aid for the 
execution of his purpose. Integrity (integritas, completeness) of 
my heart is an expression borrowed from Gen. xx. 5, 6. See 
above, on Ps. lxxviii. 72, and compare 1 Kings iii. 14. Prov. 
xx. 7. Way and walk are familiar figures for habitual conduct. 
Within, literally, in the midst (or inside) of my house, i. e. at home, 
in private life, as distinguished from the house of God and his 
official conduct there, to which he afterwards adverts. 

3. I will not set before my eyes a word of Belial ; the doing of 
apostasies I hate, it shall not cleave to me. The positive terms of 



PSALM CI. 5 

the preceding verse are now exchanged for negatives. Having 
said what he will do, he now says what he will not do. See a 
similar transition, but in the inverse order, Ps. i. 1,2. Set 
before my eyes, as a model to be copied, or as an object of ap- 
proving contemplation. A word of Belial, as in Ps xli. 9 (8), 
except that word, which there most probably relates to slander 
or false accusation, may here denote a proposition, and the whole 
phrase a worthless (i. e. wicked) plan or purpose. Apostasies, 
departures, deviations from the right course. See the verbal 
root as used in Ps. xl. 5 (4), and a cognate verb in Num. v. 
12, 19. Some make the word here used a participle or verbal 
noun, as in the English Bible, the work of them that turn aside. 
But its form and the analogy of Hos. v. 2 entitle the other con- 
struction to the preference. It shall not cleave to me, I will not 
be concerned or implicated in it ; or more emphatically still, it 
shall not cleave te me as a reproach or stigma. In favour of the 
former sense is the analogy of Deut. xiii. 18 (17), from which the 
expression seems to have been borrowed. 

4. A crooked heart shall depart from me; evil I will not know. 
Crooked, froward, or perverse, as in Ps. xviii. 27 (26.) Com- 
pare Prov. xi. 20. xvii. 20. The whole phrase might be under- 
stood to mean a person having such a heart, and the whole clause 
that the Psalmist would have no intercourse with such. The 
parallel term evil would then mean a wicked person, as translated 
in the English Bible. On the ground, however, that the person 
of the sinner seems to be reserved for the latter part of 
the psalm, the best interpreters take evil in the abstract sense of 
moral evil, wickedness, as in Ps. xxxiv. 17, lii. 5 (3.) The first 
clause will then naturally mean, my own heart shall not be per- 
verse or froward. 

5. (One) slandering in secret his fellow — him I will destroy : 
(one) lofty of eyes and wide of heart — him I will not bear. 



6 PSALM CI. 

Having declared what his own course of life should be, he now 
describes the conduct which he should require in his confidential 
servants. Here again the statement is both negative and posi- 
tive, but in this case beginning with the former. See above, on 
v. 3. It is not an improbable conjecture that in specifying 
slander, David had reference to his sufferings from that cause in 
the days of Saul. See above, on Ps. xviii. 1. lii. 4 — 7 (2 — 5), 
and compare Ps. xv. 3. The verb translated slandering occurs, 
in any of its forms, only here and Prov. xxx. 10. Wide of heart 
means neither magnanimous nor greedy, but proud, self-confident, 
as appears from Prov. xxviii. 25. Both figurative phrases here 
used are combined again in Prov. xxi. 4. The last verb in the 
sentence usually means to be able, but is here used absolutely, as 
in Isai. i. 13. 

6. My eyes (are) on the faithful of the land, to dwell with me. 
(OneJ walking in a perfect way — he shall serve me. On the faith- 
ful, literally, in or with them. See above, on Ps. xxxiv. 16, 17 
(15, 16), and compare Ps. xxxii. 8 (7.) My eyes are on them is 
equivalent to saying, I will seek them out to dwell with me and 
serve me. The word translated faithful is properly a passive 
participle meaning trusted, relied upon, confided in. Another 
passive participle from the same root is commonly supposed to be 
used in the same sense, Ps. xii. 2 (1.) xxxi. 24 (23.) In the 
first words of the last clause there is manifest allusion to the form 
of expression in v. 2 above. This clause is to be understood ex- 
clusively, such a person and no other. Shall serve me, be em- , 
ployed by me, clothed with responsible and honourable offices. 

7. JSfot in the inside of my house shall dwell (one) practising 
fraud, telling lies ; not settled shall he be before my eyes. Here 
again the form of expression corresponds to that in the first part 
of the psalm. Compare in the midst of my Jwuse with v. 2, and 
before my eyes with v. 3. Shall not dwell, or still more strongly, 



PSALM CI. 7 

shall not (even) sit, which is the primary meaning of the Hebrew 
verb. The corresponding verb in the last clause means to be 
established, permanently settled, as opposed to a mere tem- 
porary, transient presence. As if he had said : though they 
should even gain admission to my house, they shall not take up 
their abode there. 

S. In the morning will I destroy all the wicked of the land, (so as) 
to cut off from the city of Jehovah all workers of iniquity. The 
first phrase literally means at the mornings, and* may be intended 
to suggest the twofold idea of early and constantly, in the morn- 
ing and every morning. See above, on Ps. lxxiii. 14, and com 
pare Jer. xxi. 12. The last clause serves to show, or to remind 
the reader, that this rigour was not simply prudential or po- 
litical, but religious. It had reference not merely to Jerusalem 
as a city, but as the city of Jehovah, his earthly residence, the 
centre of the theocracy, the temporary scat of the true religion. 
See above, on Ps. xlvi. 5 (4) xlviii. 2 (l.)lxxxvii. 3. Under the 
peculiar institutions of the old economy, the safety of the 
theocratic state required peculiar vigilance and rigour, in exer- 
cising even those powers which are common to all governments. 



PSALM C 1 1 . 

1. A Prayer. By a Sufferer , when he is troubled, and before 
Jehovah pours out his complaint. The psalm is called a prayer 
because petition constitutes its substance. See above, on Ps. xc. 
1. The translation for the sufferer (or afflicted) would also be 



8 PSALM CI. 

grammatical, and perfectly consistent with the real design of the 
composition. But phrases of this kind, in the titles of the 
psalms, so constantly indicate the author or performer, and when 
only one occurs the former, that a departure from this usage here 
is highly improbable, and the assumption of it altogether arbi- 
trary. At the same time, the indefinite expression, a sufferer, or 
an afflicted person, seems to be intentionally used for the purpose 
of giving the psalm an unrestricted application, though the pri- 
mary reference is no doubt to the suffering kings of Israel, in 
whom the sufferings of the people were concentrated and repre- 
sented. The other terms of the inscription all occur in psalms of 
David ; troubled ( or overwhelmed) in Ps. lxi. 3 (2) ; complaint 
(or moaning) in Ps. Iv. 3 (2.) lxiv. 2 (1) ; and pouring out the 
soul in Ps. lxii. 9 (8.) This agrees with the general Davidic 
character of the composition, and favours Hengstenberg's hypo- 
thesis, not otherwise demonstrable, nor even very probable, that 
this psalm forms the connecting link between the pious resolutions 
of Ps. 101 and the joyful acknowledgments of Ps. 103, and was 
composed in prophetic foresight of the straits to which the theo- 
cratical state should be reduced, and in which the sufferings of 
David, here immediately described, should, as it were, be realized 
anew. The psalm may be divided into two parts, in the first of 
which the tone of lamentation or complaint predominates, vs. 2— 
12 (1 — 11), while in the second it is tempered and controlled by 
the contemplation of God's attributes, and confident anticipation 
of his favour, vs. 13—29 (12—28.) 

2(1.) Jehovah, hear my prayer, and let my cry (for help) unto 
thee come. With this verse compare Ps. iv. 2 (1.) xvii. 1. xviii. 7 
(6.) liv. 4 (2.) There is no more reason for regarding these 
resemblances as imitations by a later writer in the case before 
us than in any of the others. And if not such, they may serve 
to show, that David only asks, for the future or for others, that 
favour which he has himself sought and experienced already. 



PSALM CII. 9 

3 (2.) Hide not thy face from me; in the day (there is) distress 
to me, incline to me thine ear ; in the day I call, make haste (and) 
answer me. Compare Ps. x. 1. xiii. 1. xvii. 6. xviii. 7 (6.) xxvii. 
9. xxxi. 3 (2.) lvi. 10 (9.) lxvi. 14 (13.) lxxi. 2. We find here 
accumulated nearly all the phrases used by David to express the 
same ideas elsewhere. This is not unnatural if we suppose him 
to have been preparing a form of complaint and supplication for 
the use of his successors in their worst distresses. 

4 (3.) For wasted in smoke are my days, and my bones like 
a burning are kindled. With the first clause compare Ps. 
xxxvii. 20. The bones are mentioned as the seat of strength. 
See above, on Ps. vi. 3 (2.) xxxi. 11 (10.) xxxv. 10. xlii. 11 (10.) 
This description, although strictly applicable to the case of indi- 
vidual sufferers, may also be applied to the decline of the theo- 
cratic monarchy and the approach of its catastrophe. 

5 (4.) Smitten like grass and ivithered is my heart, for I have 
forgotten to eat my bread. Thp first verb is used to describe the 
effect of the sun on plants, Ps. exxi. 6. Isai. xlix. 10. (Compare 
Jon. iv. 7.) The heart is mentioned as the seat of life. The 
common version of the last clause (so that I forget) is ungram- 
matical. The failure of the strength is rather described as imme- 
diately occasioned by the want of food (1 Sam. xxviii. 20), and 
this by loss of appetite from extreme distress. See below, on Ps. 
cvii. IS, and compare 1 Sam. i. 7. xx. 34. 1 Kings xxi. 4. For- 
gotten to eat, literally, forgotten from eating, so as not to eat, a 
common idiomatic use of the preposition from in Hebrew. 

G (5.) From the voice of my groaning, my bone cleaves to ny 

flesh. The word voice implies an audible and loud expression of 

distress. The first clause means, in consequence of the ago ly 

which makes me groan. My bone may signify each of my bones, 

or be used collectively for the whole skeleton or framework of the 
1# 



10 PSALM C II. 

body. Tlie only natural explanation of this clause is that it 
describes emaciation, as a consequence and symptom of extreme 
distress. See above, on Ps. xxii. 15, IS (14, 17.) 

7 (6.) I resemble a pelican of the wilderness ; I am become like 
an owl (haunting) ruins. The simple idea conveyed by these 
figures is that of extreme loneliness and desolation. Beyond the 
fact that they inhabit solitudes, the natural history of the birds 
mentioned is of no exegetical importance. 

8 (7.) I have watched, and have been like a sparrow dwelling 
alone upon a house-top. The first words suggest the idea of a soli- 
tary vigil. As to the word translated sparrow, see above, on Ps. 
lxxxiv. 4 (3.) The word dwelling is supplied in the translation 
of the last clause, in order to retain the form of the original ex- 
pression, which is that of an active participle. Some suppose the 
idea to be that of a bird, deprived of its mate or of its young. 

9 (8.) All the day my enemies have taunted me; my infuriated 
(foes) swear by me. The verb in the .first clause suggests the 
ideas of contempt and hatred, calumny and insult. See above, 
on Ps. xlii. 11 (10.) The first word of the last clause is a pas- 
sive participle, my enraged (or maddened) ones, those who are mad 
(i. e. insane with enmity) against me. The last phrase does not 
mean swear at me, i. e. vent their rage by oaths and curses, nor 
are sworn against me, neither of which is justified by Hebrew 
usage ; but sicear by me, i. e. use me as a formula of execration, 
imprecating upon others misery like mine. Compare Isai. lxv. 
15. Jer. xxix. 22. The preterite forms imply a long previous 
continuance of this furious persecution, as all the day does its con- 
stant, unremitted racing;. 

10 (9.) For ashes like bread have I eaten, and my drink with 
weeping have mixed. The ashes, in which lie sat, or with which 



PSALM CII. 11 

he was covered, as a sign of mourning, became mingled with his 
food, and his tears fell into his drink. This last word is, in He- 
brew, of the plural number, drinks or beverages, analogous to 
victuals as a simple synonyme of food. As an opposite example of 
the same idiomatic difference, the word translated ashes is a sin- 
gular in Hebrew. The whole verse is a strong poetical descrip- 
tion of constant and extreme distress. 

11 (10.) Because of thine indignation and thy wrrith; for thou 
hast taken me up and cast me away. The first clause describes his 
suffering as the fruit of God's displeasure. See above, on Ps. 
xc. 7. The antithesis presented in the common version of the 
last clause (lifted me up and cast me down) does not seem to be 
the sense of the original, in which there is probably allusion to 
the figure of a storm or whirlwind catching things up and blowing 
them away. The Prayer Book version of the first verb (taken me 
up) is more exact. 

12 (11.) My days (are) like a shadow inclined, and I (myself) 
like the grass wither. An inclined shadow is an unusual and ob- 
scure expression, but seems to mean a shadow verging towards its 
disappearance, ready to vanish away. The double or reflexive 
pronoun (I myself ) in the translation of the last clause is neces- 
sary to convey the full force of the Hebrew pronoun, which is sel- 
dom expressed, except when it is meant to be emphatic. / 
toither, am withering, or about to wither. 

13 (12.) And thou, Jehovah, to eternity shalt sit, and thy memory 
(shall endure) to generation and generation. Here again the 
pronoun is emphatic, and exhibits a strong contrast between God's 
eternity and human frailty. While I wither like the grass, thou 
endurest forever, and not only so, but rcignest, sittest on the 
throne. See above, on Ps. ix. 8(7.) xxix. 10. lv. 20 (19.) The 
qrord memory seems here to be employed for the sake of the anti- 



12 PSALM CII. 

thesis which it implies. While I perish and am utterly forgotten, 
thy existence and thy memory shall last forever. It may, how- 
ever, have the same sense as in Ps. xxx. 5 (4), namely, the di- 
vine perfection, associated in our memory with the name of God. 
Thou shalt not only reign forever, but be worthy, as an infinitely 
perfect being, so to do. 

14 (13.) Thou wilt arise, wilt have mercy upon Zion, when (it 
is) time to favour her, when the set time is come. The pronoun is 
again emphatic. Thou, the God thus glorious and immutable, wilt 
certainly arise from this apparent inaction, and have mercy or com- 
passion on thy people, when the time fixed in thy eten .al purpose 
is arrived. The sense of when, thus given to the Hebrew particle 
(*S), although less usual, is sometimes absolutely necessary, and 
is therefore admissible in this case, where it suits the sense much 
better than the ordinary sense of for. Or the one may be re- 
solved into the other, by explaining the whole thus : thou wilt 
certainly arise and have compassion upon Zion, at the proper time, 
for there is a time fixed at which thou dost design to favour her. 
For the meaning of the word translated set time, see above, on Ps. 
lxxv. 3 (2.) 

15 (14.) When thy servants love her stones, and her dust regaul 
with favour. Both verbs in Hebrew mean to favour, or more 
strongly, to delight in, to take pleasure in. See above, Ps. lxii. 
5 (4.) lxxxv. 2 (1.) Stones and dust are here put for ruins or 
rubbish, as in Neh. iii. 34 (iv. 2.) iv. 4 (10.) The verse may 
be understood as a condition or a premonition of her restoration, 
that before it takes place, God will fill his servants with affectionate 
concern for her desolate condition. The same sense may be ob- 
tained without departing from the usual sense of the particle. 
Thou wilt have mercy upon Zion, for thy servants already look 
with interest and strong desire on her ruins, a sure sign of the ap- 
proaching restoration. 



PSALM CII. 13 

16 (15.) And nations shall fear the name of Jehovah , and all 
tangs of the earth thy glory. The impression of awe, unavoidably 
produced by these exhibitions of Jehovah's attributes, shall not be 
limited to Israel but extend to other nations, and even kings shall 
vie with each other in their reverential admiration of his regal 
honours. Compare the similar expressions of Isaiah (lix. 19.) 

17 (16.) Because Jehovah has built Zion ; he has been seen in 
his glory. These are not praeterita prophetica, describing future 
events as past ; nor are they to be taken as mere presents, but as 
denoting a relative past, dependent on the futures of the verse 
preceding. The nations and their kings are to fear because Je- 
hovah has built (i. e. will then have built) Zion. Still another 
construction may seem possible, viz. ' when Jehovah has built 
Zion, he shall be seen in his glory.' But in this case, Hebrew 
usage would require the last verb, if not both, to have the future 
form 

18 (17.) He has turned unto the prayer of the destitute, and has 
not despised their prayer. This verse continues to assign the rea- 
son why the nations and their kings will be struck with awe, viz. 
because this great and glorious God has turned round, as it were, 
and listened to the prayer of the destitute and granted their peti- 
tion. The word translated destitute occurs only here and in Jer. 
xvii. 6 ; but from its etymological affinities and its intensive form, 
appears to mean stark naked, and then figuratively, stripped of 
every thing, impoverished, entirely destitute. 

19 (18.) This shall be written for an after generation, and a, 
people (yet to be) created shall praise Jah. This fulfilment of God's 
promise and illustration of his attributes is left on record for the 
learning or instruction of posterity. Compare 1 Cor. x. 11. An 
after generation, as in Ps. xlviii. 14 (13.) lxxviii. 4. Equivalent 
in meaning, but abridged in form, is the expression in the passage 



14 PSALM CII. 

upon which these are founded, Ps. xxii. 31 (30.) See also Ps 
Ixxi. 18. Created may have the force of a gerundive, as the pas- 
sive particle often has in Hebrew ; or it may meau {then) created, 
{but not note.) See above, on Ps. xxii. 32 (31.) As the verb 
(al-) create is applied only to divine acts, its use here seems to 
indicate that what is meant is not merely a future generation, a 
race yet to come into existence, but a people in the strict sense, 
an organized body to be formed hereafter by sovereign authority 
and almighty power. Shall praise Jah, recognize Jehovah as 
possessing and as being all that is denoted by his name. 

20 (19.) For he has leaned from the high-place of his holiness ; 
Jehovah from heaven to earth lias looked. The first word may 
also be translated that, and the verse be understood as an ampli- 
fication of the pronoun this at the beginning of v. 19 (18.) This 
is what shall be written for a future generation ; this is what they 
shall praise Jah for ; viz. that he has looked, etc. To avoid the 
repetition of the English verb, as well as to add life to the de- 
scription, the Hebrew verb is here represented by what seems to 
be its primary meaning. See above on Ps. xiv. 2. lxxxv. 12 (11), 
and compare Deut. xxvi. 15. 

21 (20.) To hear the groaning of the prisoner, to loose the sons 
of mortality. The construction is continued from the foregoing 
verse, and the design of God's thus looking down is stated. The 
word translated groaning is almost peculiar to the psalms of 
David, and according to its etymology properly denotes suffoca- 
tion. To loose, literally to open, sometimes applied to the open- 
ing of a dress for the purpose of removing it, as in Ps. xxx. 
12 (11) ; then to the loosening of chains, as in Ps. cxvi. 16 ; then 
to the deliverance of the prisoner himself. Sons of mortality or 
death, i. e. those doomed to die. See above, on Ps. lxxix. 11. 

22 (21.) To recount in Zion the name of Jehovah and his praise 



PSALM C II. . 15 

• 

in Jerusalem. This, according to the laws of Hebrew syntax, 
does not necessarily denote an act of God himself, as the similar 
construction in the preceding verse does, but may have a vaguer 
sense equivalent to saying, that his name may be declared in Zion. 
To recount God's name is to recount the mighty deeds which 
constitute it, and the celebration of which constitutes his praise. 
Zion is still represented as the great scene of Jehovah's triumphs, 
not however as the capital of Israel or Judah merely, but as the 
radiating centre of religious light and influence to all the earth. 

23 (22.) In the gathering of peoples together, and kingdoms to 
serve Jehovah, This verse is necessary to complete and qualify 
the sense of that before it. God has looked down from heaven 
to deliver his people and receive their praise, not in their secluded, 
insulated state, but in their glorious reunion with the converted 
nations. The first verb is a passive infinitive in Hebrew, in their 
being gathered. The preposition in relates both to the time and 
to the act of convocation. To serve Jehovah, not only as a King, 
but as a God, to be both his subject and his worshipper. Com- 
pare Ps. ii. 11. 

24 (23.) Re has humbled in the way his strength ; he has 
shortened my days. The Psalmist here resumes the tone of 
complaint, but only for a moment, and as an introduction to what 
follows. Humbled, weakened, or afflicted. In or by the way of 
his providential guidance, as distinguished from the glorious end 
to which it led. His strength and my days seem clearly to refer 
to the same person. To avoid this harsh enallagc, the maso- 
retic critics changed a single letter, and for (iri3) his strength 
read (^Hls) my strength, which, though adopted in most versions, 
is an obvious evasion of a supposed difficulty. With the last 
clause compare Ps. lxxxix. 46 (45.) See also Ps. '/v. 24 (23.) 

25 (24.) I ivill say, Oh my God, take me not up in the half 



16 PSALM CII. 

of my days ; through generation of generations (are) thy yean,. 
Take up, cause to ascend, i. e. as some suppose, like smoke, 
which is very forced and far-fetched. Others make it simply mean 
to take away, which gives a good sense, but is not sufficiently 
sustained by usage. Better than either is the supposition that 
death or removal out of life is here described by a figure corre- 
sponding to the actual departure of Enoch and Elijah. See G-en. 
v. 24. 2 Kings ii. 1, 3, 5, 10, 11. In the half (or midst) of my 
days ; see above, on Ps. lv. 24 (23), and compare Isai. xxxviii. 
10. Generation of generations, i. e. all generations, as in Ps. Ixxii. 
5. Isai. Ii. 8. He prays that God, whose years are endless, would 
not, as it were, grudge the few days granted to his creatures. See 
above, on Ps. xxxix. 6 (5.) 

26 (25.) At first thou the earth didst found, and the work 
of thy hands (are) the heavens. The phrase at the beginning 
means originally to the face, and then before, as an adverb 
both of time and place ; but this would be ambiguous here, 
since it might be understood as a conjunction i before thou didst 
found the earth, expressing the same idea as in Ps. xc. 2. It 
here means long ago, of old, in the beginning. With the last 
clause compare Ps. viii. 4 (3.) xix. 2(1.) xxxiii. 6. God's crea- 
tive power is here added to his eternity, in order to enhance the 
contrast between his infinity and man's littleness, as a reason for 
compassion to the latter. 

27 (26.) They shall perish and thou shalt stand, and all of 
them like a garment shall wear out, like a dress shalt thou cliangc 
them and they shall change. The contrast is brought out as pointedly 
as possible in Hebrew, by the insertion of the pronouns they and 
thou, neither of which is grammatically necessary to the expres- 
sion of the meaning. Stand, stand fast, endure, remain, continue. 
All of them, without exception, even the noblest of God's works, 
ehall at least lose their present form, and in that sense perish, a 



PSALM CII. 17 

sense which may "be still more readily put upon the parallel verb 
pass away or change. The twoTold usage of the English verb, as 
active and neuter, or transitive and intransitive, makes it an 
appropriate representative of the primitive and derivative forms 
of the Hebrew verb (t)in). The corresponding verb, in the 
second member of the sentence, means not only to wax old, 
but, as the necessary consequence, to wear out. See above on 
Ps. xxxii. 3, and compare Ps. xlix. 15 (14.) 

28 (27.) And Thou (art) lie — and thy years shall not be 
finished. The construction of the first clause is disputed. Some 
read it, Thou thyself and thy years shall not end. Others, Thou, 
art the same, giving awn the same sense with the Greek o afadg, 
which is actually used here to translate it in the Septuagint. In 
favour of the version first above given, is its agreement with the 
usage of the Hebrew words, with the analogy of Deut. xxxii. 39 
and Isai. xliii. 10, and with the context here. The meaning 
then is, Thou art the Unchangeable One just described. Or, it is 
Thou, and nothing else, that shall thus endure. Be finished, 
spent, consumed, as the Hebrew word invariably means. What 
is elsewhere literally said of the violent destruction of human 
life is here transferred to the lapse of time. 

29- (28.) The sons of thy servants shall abide, and their seed 
before thee shall be established. This might also be translated as 
a prayer, let the so7is of thy servants continue, which is really 
included even in the prediction. Before thee, as in Gren. xvii. 1. 
Ps. lxxxix. 37 (36.) Be established, as in Ps. lxxxix. 38 (37.) 
ci. 7. With this conclusion of the whole psalm compare Ps. lxix. 
36, 37 (35, 36.) xc. 16, 17. 



18 PSALM CIII. 



PSALM CIII. 

The Psalmist calls upon himself to praise God for personal 
favours already experienced, vs. 1—5. From these .lie rises, in 
the body of the psalm, to the contemplation of God's attributes, 
in themselves considered, and as manifested in his dealings with 
his people, vs. 6-19. He concludes as he began, with an exhort- 
ation to bless God, no longer addressed merely to himself, but to 
all creatures, vs. 20-22. According to the exegetical hypothesis 
already mentioned, this is the song of mercy and judgment pro- 
mised in Ps. ci. 1. The arguments in favour of this theory have 
been already stated. The principal objection to it, and that by 
no means a conclusive one, is the want of unison and even con- 
cord, as to tone and spirit, between the psalm before us and the 
two preceding it. Be this a3 it may, the psalm before us is a 
complete and finished composition, being one of the most simple 
and yet regular in structure that the book contains. This has 
contributed, with other obvious peculiarities, to make it a favourite 
vehicle of thankful praise among the pious of all ages. 

1. By David. Bless, oh my soul, Jehovah, and all within me 
(bless) his holy name ! The attempts which havo been made by 
modern critics to discredit the inscription in the first clause chiefly 
consist in representing the many imitations and allusions to this 
noble composition in the later scriptures as a cento of citations 
from those scriptures by the writer of the psalm itself, a prepos- 
terous inversion of the laws of evidence to which the ncolojncal 



PSALM CI II. 19 

critics are especially addicted, and by which any thing and every 
thing can be disproved or proved at pleasure. Bless, when ap- 
plied to God, means to praise, but with a strong implication of 
devout affection. By calling on his soul to do this, he acknow- 
ledges his own obligation, not only to praise God, but to praise 
him cordially, with all the heart, according to the solemn requisi- 
tion of the Law (Deut. vi. 5), to which there is perhaps a refer- 
ence in all such cases. See above, on Ps. iii. 3 (2.) The pa- 
rallel expression, all within me, is the plural form of one repeat- 
edly used elsewhere and denoting the inside of any thing,. and 
more especially of man, his mind or heart, as distinguished from 
his mere professions or external acts. See above, on Ps. v. 10 
(9.) xlix. 12(11.) The literal translation of the form here used is 
my insides or inner parts, the strong and comprehensive meaning 
of the plural being further enhanced by the addition of all, as if 
to preclude exception and reserve, and comprehend within the 
scope of the address all the powers and affections. His name of 
holiness (or holy name), i. e. the revelation of his infinite perfec- 
tions. See above, on Ps. v. 12 (11.) xxii. 4 (3.) 

2. Bless, oh my soul, Jehovah, and forget not all his dealings. 
The positive exhortation is repeated as a kind of foil to the nega- 
tive one following, in which there seems to be allusion to the fre- 
quent admonition in the Law to Israel, not to forget the Lord 
who brought him up out of the land of Egypt. ' See Deut. vi. 12. 
viii. 11, 14. The last word in the verse before us is the passive 
participle of a verb which means to treat, and commonly to treat 
well. See above on Ps. vii. 5 (4. J The idea here conveyed is 
that of treatment, determined by the context to be kind and gra- 
cious treatment. The latitude of meaning and the plural form 
are both represented in the English word dealings, which, though 
susceptible of either application, can, in this connection, only have 
a good one. 



20 PSALM CIII. 

3. Forgiving all thy guilt , healing all thy sicknesses- The par- 
ticiples are to be grammatically construed with Jehovah as the 
object of the praise required, and assign a reason for the requisi- 
tion, furnished by the personal experience of the soul itself. The 
original expression is still more definite, each participle having 
the article prefixed, the (one) forgiving, the (one) healing. See 
a similar construction carried out still further in Ps. xviii. 33-35 
(32-34), 48-51 (47-50.) The last word in the verse is an un- 
usual one borrowed from Deut. xxix. 21, where sicknesses are 
ioined with plagues or strokes, to signify calamities considered as 
•lenal inflictions. The same idea is expressed in other words, 
Ex. xvi. 26. The relation of the clauses, in the verse before us, 
may be that of cause and effect. Forgiving all thy guilt and 
thereby removing all the misery occasioned by it. 

4. Redeeming from the grave thy life, crowning thee (with) 
mercy and compassions. The combination of the article and par- 
ticiple is the same as in v. 3, the (one) redeeming, t/ie (one) crown- 
ing. The continuation of the sentence in this form keeps the 
attention fixed upon the reasons for which, or the characters in 
which, the Lord is to be praised. As if he had said, Bless him 
as the one forgiving thee and healing thee, redeeming thee and 
crowning thee. Redeeming means delivering, but with a strong 
implication of cost and risk. For the twofold sense of (rnr) 
the word translated grave, see above, on Ps. xvi. 10, and com- 
pare Ps. xxx. 10 (9.) The peculiar form of the possessive pro- 
noun, in this verse and the one before it, has been represented as 
a proof of later date, but really belongs to the dialect of poetry, 
from which, in all languages, certain expressions are continually 
passing into that of common life, so that what in one age is poet- 
ical is in the next colloquial, and seems therefore to belong to the 
later period and to show the recent date of any composition in 
which it occurs. The familiar use of such words as oftentimes, 
perchance,, etc. in our own day may thus be used hereafter to prove 



PSALM CIII. 21 

the writings of our older poets spurious. The figure of crowning, 
-which occurs above iu Ps. lxv. 12 (11), suggests the ideas of dig- 
nity and beauty, while the absence of merit in the object, and the 
sovereign freeness of the gift, are indicated by making the crown 
itself a crown of mercy and compassions. The last word in He- 
brew is expressive of the warmest and tenderest affections. See 
above, on Ps. xviii. 2 (1.) xxv. 6. xl. 12 (11.) 

5. Filling with good thy soul — {then) is renewed, like the eagle, 
thy youth. The peculiar construction of the two preceding verses 
is continued through the first clause of the one before us, and then 
suddenly abandoned. Filling, the {one) filling, in the sense of 
satisfying or abundantly supplying, but without the accessory 
notion of satiety. See above, on Ps. lxxxi. 17 (16.) xci. 16. 
With good, literally the good, by way of eminence, the chief good 
or the real good. Thy soul is not a literal translation of the He- 
brew term, which, in every other case where it occurs, means or- 
nament or decoration. See for example Ps. xxxii. 9 (8.) The 
translations mouth, life, etc. are gratuitous conjectures from the 
context. The best explanation is that furnished by the analogous 
word (-!ii3 l ) honour, glory, which is sometimes applied to the 
soul as the nobler part of man. See above, on Ps. xvi. 9. This 
explanation is confirmed by the frequent combination of the noun 
soul and the verb to satisfy. See above, Ps. Ixiii. 6 (5), and 
below, Ps. cvii. 9, and compare Isai. lviii. 11. It is also sanc- 
tioned by the ancient versions ; for although the Targum makes 
it mean old age, a palpable conjecture, the Septuagint and Vul- 
gate have desire (irfidv t uluv, desideriwm) , a frequent sense of 
(BE>5) soul in Hebrew, and Jerome translates it literally, orna- 
mentum. The word then is introduced into the translation of the 
second clause, in order to retain the Hebrew collocation, which is 
not without its emphasis. Is renewed, or retaining the reflexive 
form of the original, renews itself. The supposed allusion in this 
clause to a fabulous or real renovation of the eagle in its old age, 



22 PSALM CIII. 

rests upon a misconception of the language, as the only point of 
comparison with the eagle is its strength and vigour, as in 2 Sam. 
i. 23. Isai. xl. 31, and the whole verse may be paraphrased as 
follows. ' So completely does his bounty feed thy strength, that 
even in old age thou growest young again, and soarest like an 
ea^le.' 

6. Doing righteousnesses (is) Jehovah, and judgments for all 
oppressed. Thus far the reasons urged for praising God were per- 
sonal, i. c. derived from individual experience. With these, from 
the very constitution of our nature, all our grateful exercises must 
begin. But if genuine they do not stop there, as the Psalmist, at 
this point, ascends from private causes of thanksgiving to more 
general views of God's administration, as a basis for the universal 
call with which the psalm concludes. The connection here may 
thus be stated. ( Such have been the Lord's compassions to my- 
self, but these are only samples of his goodness. He is not only 
merciful to me, but to all who are oppressed, and to deliver whom 
he executes his iudgments.' There is no contrast here intended 
between mercy and justice, with respect to different objects of the 
Lord's compassion. The meaning is, that man's injustice is re- 
dressed by God's mercy. The redemption of his people is often 
represented as coincident wtth the condign punishment of their 
oppressors. Compare my note on Isai. i. 27. Doing, i. e. prac- 
tising in general, and executing in particular cases. The partici- 
ple {doing) signifies habitual and constant action ; the plural form 
{righteousnesses) completeness and variety, adapted to all possible 
emergencies. Judgments, as usual, denotes judicial acts, as dis 
tinguished from mere attributes or principles. 

7. lie malces known his ways to Moses, to the children of Israel 
his (mighty) deeds. The general statement of the fact in the 
preceding verse is now followed by the great historical example 
furnished in Jehovah's dealings with his people. This serves, 



PSALM CIII. 23 

not only to illustrate what was said before, but to show that it 
was not a mere vague declaration of what God will do to all men, 
but a definite assertion of his purpose and his practice with re- 
spect to his own people. All the oppressed, to whom he grants 
or promises deliverance, are not mankind in general, without dis- 
tinction cr exception, but his own people when in that condition. 
The first clause contains an obvious allusion to the prayer of 
Moses, as recorded by himself, Ex. xxxiii. 13, from which pas- 
sage it appears, that the ways of God, which he desired to know, 
were his modes of dealing with his people, or the course of hi3 
dispensations towards them. See above, on Ps. xxv. 4. lxvii. 
3 (2.) The knowledge thus imparted was experimental or af- 
forded by experience. The parallelism between Moses and the 
Children of Israel shows that the latter were represented by the 
former. The last Hebrew word is one constantly applied to 
God's exploits or mighty deeds in behalf of Israel. See above, 
on Ps. ix. 12 (11.) lxxviii. 11. 

8. Compassionate and gracious (is) Jehovah, slow to anger, and 
rich in mercy. See above, on Ps. lxxvii. 10 (9.) lxxviii. 38. 
lxxxvi. 15, in all which cases, as in this, the terms of the de- 
scription are borrowed from Ex. xxxiv. 6. There is here an 
evident progression in the thought. Not only is God good to me, 
but to all his people in distress ; not only did he prove this to 
Moses and to Israel by saving them from Pharoah and their other 
enemies, but by bearing with their own offences. The previous 
context might have seemed to concede innocence, if not merit, to 
God's people, as the object of his kind regard ; but they are here 
exhibited as sinners, needing his forbearance and forgiveness. 

9. Not to perpetuity will he strive, and not to eternity retain 
(his anger.J This of course implies that he is sometimes angry, 
even with his people, and sometimes strives in opposition to their 
strivings against him. But as he is always in the right, and they 



24 PSALM CIII. 

arc always in the wrong, it is a signal proof of the divine com- 
passion, that he does not strive and is not wroth forever. The 
first clause is closely copied by Isaiah (lvii. 16.) The second is 
itself derived from Lev. xix. 18, where we find a verb meaning to 
retain or reserve used absolutely in the sense of harbouring a 
grudge or cherishing a secret spite. This remarkable form of 
expression is copied in the case before us and in Nah. i. 2. Jer. 
iii. 5, 12. The original passage is a prohibition, in obeying which 
the Lord, as it were, here sets his people an example. Compare 
Matt. v. 48. 1 Cor. xi. 1. Eph. v. 1. 

10. Not according to our sins has he done to us, and not ac- 
cording to onr iniquities has he dealt with us. That the people 
stood in need of the divine forbearance, is now still more dis- 
tinctly intimated. The last verb is the one of which the participle 
occurs in v. 2, and might here be rendered, with still closer ad- 
herence to the strict sense of the Hebrew preposition, has he be- 
stowed upon us. See the same construction in the Hebrew of 
Ps. xiii. 6. cxvi. 7. cxlii. 8 (7.) The past tense has reference to 
the previous history of Israel as a nation, but involves the state- 
ment of a general truth. At the end of the verse, we may sup- 
pose it to be tacitly added : as he might have done, not only in 
strict justice, but in execution of his express threatening, Lev. 
xxvi. 21. 

11, For as the heavens are high above the earth, mighty is his 
mercy above those that fear him. The Hebrew preposition is the 
bame in both clauses, and cannot be varied in translation without 
weakening the sentence. In the last clause it sujjo-ests the ideaa 
of descent from above, superior power, and protection, in ad- 
dition to that of mere relation or direction, which is all that is 
conveyed by the translation to or towards. The force of the 
original is likewise impaired by substituting great for strong or 
mighty. The idea meant to be conveyed is not that of mere 



PSALM CIII. 



25 



extent but of efficiency. The literal meaning of the first words 
is, like the height of the heavens, or like their being high. His 
fearers, or those fearing him, is a common description of the 
righteous or God's people, who are more particularly character- 
ized in v. 18. 

12. As far as the east is from the west, he hath put far from us 
our transgressions. The form of expression at the beginning is 
the same as in v. 11, like the distance of the east, or like its being 
far. The Hebrew words for east and west, according to their 
etymology, denote the place of sunrise and the place of evening. 
Put far from us, as no longer having anything to do with us, a 
figure which suggests the idea both of pardon and renewal, justifi- 
cation and sanctification. 

13. As a father has compassion on (his) children, Jehovah has 
compassion on his fearers. The compound phrase, has compassion, 
is here substituted for the simple verb pity, in order to retain the 
preposition on, which follows it in Hebrew, and also because the 
plural form compassions was necessarily employed in v. 4 to trans- 
late the cognate noun. The Hebrew verb is peculiarly appropri- 
ate in speaking of parental love. See above, on Ps. xviii. 2 
(1.) The preterite forms represent the fact alleged as one already 
known and well attested by experience. 

14. For he knows our frame, mindful that dust (are) we. The 
fragility of man is here again assigned as a ground of the divine 
compassion. See above, on Ps. lxxviii. 39. lxxxix. 48 (47.) 
Frame, formation, constitution, or as we say familiarly in Eng- 
lish, our make, our build. The Hebrew noun is derived from the 
verb used in Ps. xciv. 9, and may therefore be intended to suggest 
the same idea that is there expressed. He who formed us knows 
of course how we are formed. The same noun is applied to the 

moral constitution, Gen. vi. 5, viii. 21, Deut. xxxi. 21. The word 
vol. in. 2 



26 PSALM CIII. 

translated mindful is, in form, a passive participle, ( ta i*-}) meaning 
remembered, but equivalent in use to the active, remembering, or 
the verbal adjective mindful, just as the like form (nps) trusted 
is equivalent to trusting, Ps. cxii. 7, the English rejoiced to re- 
joicings etc. We are dust, i. e. made of it, and tending to it 
Compare Gen. ii. 7, iii, 19, Ps. xc 3. 

15. (As for) man, his days {are) Me the grass ; like the blossom 
of the field, so he blossoms. As the precediug verse expresses the 
fragility of man by referring to his origin and end, so this verse 
does the same by a familiar but beautiful comparison, borrowed 
from Ps. xc. 6, and repeated in Isai. xl. 6 — S. Job xiv. 2. The 
very name here given to the race is one denoting frailty and in- 
firmity. See above, on Ps. viii. 5 (4.) 

16. For a breath passes over him and he is not, and no more 
shall his place know him. The pronouns may, with equal gram- 
matical correctness, be referred to the grass and rendered it, its. 
The primary meaning of the first noun (breath) is, in this con- 
nection, stronger "than the secondary (wind.) The wind may be 
a whirlwind ; but to say that a mere breath is sufficient to de- 
stroy one is the strongest possible expression of fragility. That 
the wind is called the breath of God, as the thunder is his voice, 
is a striking and poetical but needless supposition. He is not or 
no more, there is none of him, no such thing or person. See 
above, on Ps. xxxvii. 10. With the first clause compare Isai. 
xl. 7 ; with the second, Job vii. 10. The last verb means to 
recognize or know again, as in Ps. cxlii. 5 (4), and the whole 
clause, that death makes men strangers to the objects with which 
they have been most familiar. 

17. And the mercy of Jehovah (is) from eternity even to 
eternity upon those fearing him, and his righteousness to children's 
children. Having carried the description of man's frailty to the 



PSALM CIII. 27 

furthest' point, the Psalmist suddenly contrasts with it God's 
everlasting mercy. The use of the simple copulative and, in 
such a marked antithesis, where but might to us seem indispens- 
able, is one of the most striking and familiar Hebrew idioms. 
Upon those fearing him suggests the idea of a gift from above. 
To children 's children simply means given (or belonging J to 
them. Unless we make the last clause a threatening of hereditary 
vengeance to the wicked, his righteousness can only mean his 
rectitude, including his veracity and faithfulness in exercising 
covenanted mercy. Children's children, literally, sons of sons. 

IS. To the keepers of his covenant, and to the rememberers of his 
laws, to do them. This is the necessary qualification of a pro- 
mise which mio-ht otherwise have seemed too absolute. Even to 
the descendants of those fearing him the promise availed nothing, 
unless they themselves were faithful to his covenant and obedient 
to his law. The last words {to do them) show that the remeni 
brance of the law required was not merely intellectual but practi 
cal and tending to obedience. 

19. Jehovah in the heavens has fixed his throne, and his king" 
dom over all rules. Not only is he infinitely merciful and faith- 
ful, but a universal and almighty sovereign, no less able than 
willing to fulfil his promises and execute his purposes of mercy. 
The word translated fixed, like its English representative, sug- 
gests the two ideas of preparing and establishing. The same 
combination with throne occurs above, Ps. ix. 8 (7.) See also 
Ps. xi. 4. xlvii. 9 (8.) Over all ; the original expression is still 
stronger, over the whole, the universe, to nuv. The same phrase 
is applied to the entire human race, Ps. xiv. 3. The past tens8 
of the last verb represents this unlimited dominion as already 
established or revealed. The future would have made its ulterior 
continuance the prominent idea. 



28 PSALM CIII. 

20. Bless Jehovah, ye his angels, mighty in strength, doing his 
word, (so as) to listen to the voice of his word. Haying finished 
his assertion of God's claims to universal praise, the Psalmist 
resumes the tone of exhortation with which he began. His appeal, 
however, is no longer to his own soul, but to the hosts of heaven, 
the noblest of God's creatures, the highest order of finite intel- 
ligences. Mighty in strength, more exactly, mighty (ones) of 
strength, or, as the first word is applied as a substantive to 
warriors or conquerors, heroes of strength or mighty heroes. See 
above, on Ps. xxiv. 8. lxxviii. 25. The construction in the last 
clause is obscure. The infinitive may here have the force of a 
gerund, audiendo, auscultando, by listening to the voice of his 
word, or, as in Ps. lxxviii. 18, it may denote the extent or the 
effect of their obedience, so as to hearken, or so that they hearken, 
i. e. listen for the faintest intimation of his will. The expression 
hearken to his voice, as thus applied, is a Mosaic one. See Deut. 
xxvi. 17. xxx. 20. 

21. Bless Jehovah, ye his hosts, his ministers, the doers of his 
will. As the word hosts is applied both to the angels and the 
heavenly bodies (see above, on Ps. xxiv. 10), some interpreters, 
in order to relieve this verse of a tautology, suppose it to relate to 
the heavenly hosts in one sense, as the preceding verso does in 
another. In the same way they account for the change of ex- 
pression in the last clause. Only intelligent creatures can be 
literally said to listen for God's word and to obey it ; but even 
the inanimate creation may be said, without a metaphor, to exe- 
cute his will. This last phrase occurs also in Ps. xl. 9 (8.) 

22. Bless ye Jehovah, all his icorks, in all places of his realm ; 
bless thou, oh my soul, Jehovah! The angels and heavenly bodies, 
with men and every other creature, are now summed up in the 
comprehensive phrase, all his icorks, i. e. all that he has made, 
all creatures, and invited to bless God, which invitation the 



PSALM CIV. 29 

Psalmist then addresses once more to himself, and thus, by a 
beautiful transition, brings us back to the point from which we 
started. 



PSALM CIV. 

We have here another of those psalms, in which the hopes of 
God's people are excited and their faith strengthened by a view 
of the authority and providential care which he exercises over the 
creation. The sum of the whole psalm is contained in the first 
verse, and its application indicated in the last. Here, as in Ps. 
viii, xix, xxix, lxv, the description of God's glory, as exhibited in 
nature, is entirely subservient to a moral and religious purpose, 
and the psalm is therefore fully entitled to a place in the collec- 
tion, and adapted to the permanent use of the church. The ar 
rangement of the psalm is founded on the history of the creation, 
but with such variations as were suited to the writer's purpose. 
After a general statement of this purpose, v. 1, the Psalmist 
traces the creative and providential agency of God in the works of 
the first and second day, vs. 2 — 5, then in that of the third, vs. 
6 — 18, then in that of the fourth, vs. 19 — 23, then in that of the 
fifth, vs. 24 — 26, with an allusion to the rest of the seventh day 
in v. 31. The psalm closes with a summary statement of the de- 
pendence of all living creatures upon God's care and bounty, vs. 
27 — 32, a resolution to glorify him accordingly, vs. 33 — 34, and 
a pregnant inference, that they who arc under such protection 
have nothing to fear from human enemies, v. 35. According to 
Hengstenberg, this and the two next psalms compose a trilogy. 



30 PSALM CIV. 

added to the Davidic one immediately preceding (Ps. ci — ciii) 
about the time of the Babylonish exile. This hypothesis, he 
thinks, accounts for the occurrence of Davidic psalms in this part 
of the Psalter, which would otherwise have found their place 
anions the Psalms of David in the first division of the book. 
But having been made the basis or the nucleus of later compo- 
sitions, they were naturally placed with these in their proper 
chronological position. 

1. Bless , oh my soul, Jehovah ! Oh Jehovah, my God, thou art 
great exceedingly ; honour and majesty hast 'thou put on. The 
resemblance of the first clause to Ps. ciii. 1 shows the designed con- 
nection of the two psalms. The remainder of the verse is a kind of 
response to this invocation, and contains, as it were, the words in 
which his soul does actually bless God. At the same time it ex- 
hibits in advance the sum and substance of the whole composition, 
the design of which is to describe the dories of creation and 
providence as the royal robe of the divine sovereign. Compare 
Ps. xlv. 4 (3.) xciii. 1. xcvi. 6. Job xl. 10. Isai. li. 9. 

2. Wearing light like a roue, spreading heaven like a curtain. 
In carrying out the idea summarily stated in the first verse, he 
begins where the cosmogony in Genesis begins, with the light and 
the firmament, not the act of their creation, but their use, as the 
Creator's robe and curtain. It follows of course that light and 
heaven must be taken in their popular and ordinary sense, and 
not as denoting the heaven of heavens and the light inaccessible 
in which he is elsewhere represented as dwelling. The definite 
forms of the original, the robe, the curtain, as contrasted with the 
vaguer forms, light, heaven, may be intended to suggest the idea 
of the robe and curtain known and used in common life, which man 
puts on and stretches out with perfect ease, but not more easily 
than God puts on the light and stretches out the sky. Compare 
Gen i. 6. Isai. xl. 22. Job. ix. 8. 



PSALM CIV. 31 

3. Framing with wale?' his halls ; making clouds his convey- 
ance ; moving on wings of the wind. The first word means 
laying beams or rafters. The next phrase may either mean in 
or with water. The first is more obvious, the last more striking, 
as it represents a solid building, made of a liquid or fluid ma- 
terial. In the other case the waters meant are those above the 
firmament. See Gen. i. 6, 7. Ps. xviii. 12 (11J, where the clouds 
and the wings of the wind are also mentioned in the same con- 
nection. The word translated halls denotes the highest room of 
an oriental house, which is frequently the largest. Hence the 
frequent mention, in the New Testament, of the vtiequjov as a 
place of assembly. Making, literally, setting, placing. Chariot 
is too specific a translation of the Hebrew word, which means 
anything on which a person rides. The preposterous figure of 
walking on wings belongs entirely to the versions, ancient and 
modern. The Hebrew word, though often so applied, is a 
generic one, denoting all progressive movement, and nearly 
equivalent to our word going, which is not so agreeable, however, 
in this place, to English usage, as the more general and poetical 
term moving. See above, on Ps. xviii. 11 (10.) 

4. Making his angels winds, his ministers flaming fire. Ac- 
cording to the simplest and most obvious construction of this 
verse, it can only mean that G-od makes his angels or ministering 
spirits swift and ardent in his service. But such a statement 
would be wholly out of place in a psalm, the rest of which relates 
exclusively to the material creation. The best interpreters are 
therefore of opinion that angels and ministers are predicates not 
subjects, or in other words, that the idea meant to be conveyed is, 
that he makes the winds his messengers or ano-els, and the flam- 
ing fire his minister or servant. This agrees exactly with the 
previous declaration that he makes the clouds his chariot or con- 
veyance, and moves upon the wings of the wind. It may seem, 
however, to be inconsistent with the use made of the passage in 



32 PSALM CIV. 

Heb. 1. 7, as a proof that the angels are inferior to the Son of 
God. But how could this inferiority he proved by the fact that 
the angels are spirits, or even wind and fire ? The latter cannot 
be literally true, and if metaphorical, can only mean that they 
are swift and ardent in God's service, which they might be and 
yet equal to the Son in nature, who, considered as a messenger 
or agent of the Father, exhibits precisely the same qualities. 
The truth is that the passage, as thus understood, is perfectly 
irrelevant and useless to the argument, and therefore that this 
mode of explaining it is not entitled to the preference, what- 
ever difficulties may attend the other. Let it be observed, too, 
that the Septuagint version, which is quoted in Heb. i. 7, is an 
exact transcript of the Hebrew, both as to the sense and colloca- 
tion of the words, so that if the original admits of a different con- 
struction, it may be extended to the version likewise. The most 
satisfactory conclusion is, that the words are not quoted as an 
argument or proof of the inferiority of angels, but merely as a 
striking yet familiar form of words in which to clothe the writer's 
own idea, which is this, that angels are mere messengers and 
ministers, and as such may be classed with the material agencies 
which God employs in execution of his purpose. The wind and 
the liditnino; are God's ans-els and his ministers, and are ex- 
pressly so described in the Old Testament ; but they are nevei 
called his sons, much less addressed directly as the sovereign, 
eternal, righteous, ever-blessed God. Nor are the ministering 
spirits, who share with these material agencies the character of 
messengers and servants, ever so described or so addressed. By 
thus supplying the suppressed links of the chain of argument, the 
verse before us, in the only sense of which the context really ad- 
mits, will be found not only as appropriate as the other to the 
purpose for which it is quoted in the New Testament, but incom- 
parably more so. 

5. Tie founded the earth on its bases ; it shall not be moved for* 



PSALM CIV. 33 

ever and ever. The idea of bases is rather suggested by the con- 
text, and especially the verb founded, than expressed by the 
Hebrew noun itself, which properly means places, or more specifi- 
cally, fixed and settled places. See above, on Ps. lxxxix. 15 (14.) 
xcvii. 2, and with the whole verse compare Ps. lxxviii. 69. lxxxix. 
12 (11.) cii. 26 (25J 

6. (With) the deep, like a garment, thou didst cover it ; above 
the mountains stand the waters. Next in importance to the separ- 
ation of the land and water in the beginning (Gen. i. "9, 10), 
was the temporary confounding of the two in the universal 
deluge (Gen. vii. 19, 20), which the Psalmist therefore here con- 
nects with the creation, as equally demonstrative of almighty 
power, and also for the purpose of founding on this seeming vio- 
lation of the promise in the last clause of v. 5, a still more 
solemn repetition of it. The grammatical objection that the 
pronoun in the phrase didst cover it is masculine, and cannot 
therefore refer to earth which is feminine, is easily removed by a 
reference to the general license of the Hebrew syntax with re- 
spect to genders, and the idiomatic tendency to use the mascu- 
line, not as a distinctive but as a generic form, in cases where the 
subject is sufficiently indicated by the context. There are more- 
over several clear examples of the masculine construction of this 
very noun (f 1 ]?*) besides those in which earth or land is put for 
its inhabitants. See e. g. Gen. xiii. 6. Isai. ix. 18. The allu- 
sion in the last clause to Gen. vii. 19, 20, is too plain to be mis 
taken. 

7. At thy rebuke they flee, at the voice of thy thunder they hasten 
away. The same power that produced the deluge put an end to 
it. The verbs agree with waters in v- 6. The divine command 

O 

that they should cease or disappear is poetically spoken of as a 
rebuke. See above, on Ps. xviii. 16 (15.) lxxvi. 7 (6), and com- 
pare Isai. 1. 2. The Hebrew particle means from, denoting both 
2* 



34 PSALM CIV. 

the time and cause of the effect described. The last verb is a 
passive meaning strictly to be panic-struck, or to flee in conse- 
quence of being panic-struck. See above, on Ps. xxxi. 23 (22.) 
xlviii. 6 (5.) The voice of thy thunder may be literally under- 
stood to mean the sound of thunder, or, according to a well-known 
Hebrew idiom, thy voice of thunder, or thy thundering voice. 

8. They go up mountains, they go dozen valleys, to this place 
thou hast founded for them. The first clause is a beautiful de- 
scription of the fluctuations which attend the subsidence of 
swollen waters, not only in the case of Noah's flood (Gen. viii. 
4 — 5) to which the words relate in the first instance, but in all 
other cases, where the same rule still holds good, so that the 
verse, by an insensible transition, founds the statement of a gen- 
eral truth on that of a particular event. The use of the de- 
monstrative (this) is highly idiomatic. The original construc- 
tion is, to a place, this (which) thou hast founded for them. This 
form of expression is equivalent to pointing with the hand, and 
therefore adds not a little to the graphic vividness of the descrip- 
tion. 

9. A hound thou didst set, they shall not pass over, they shall 
not return to cover the earth. This grand exception to the law 
which governs the relations between land and water is the only 
one to be permitted or expected. The limits broken were re- 
newed with an assurance that henceforth they should be inviol- 
able. See Gen. ix. 15. Besides the immediate reference to the 
flood, the verse contains the statement of a general fact in the 
economy of nature, and thus furnishes a natural transition to the 
similar statements of the next verse. 

10. Sending springs into the valleys ; between hills they go. 
The participial construction, interrupted by the parenthetical ac- 
count of the flood, is here resumed, the participle, like the others, 



PSALM CIV. 35 

agreeing directly with Jehovah understood, as the (one) sending, 
which is the precise form of the original. See above, on Ps. ciii. 
3 — 6. Springs or fountains, not in the restricted sense, but 
comprehending both the source and stream, as in Joel iv. IS 
(iii. 18.) The word translated valleys is restricted in usage to 
such as have streams Sowing through them. The last word is the 
one translated walketh by the English Bible in v. 3 above, but 
here run, although walk is given in the margin, as a more pre- 
cise and literal translation, while Jerome inserts it in his text, ut 
inter medios monies ambulent. 

11. They water every least of the field ; (at them) wild asses 
quench their thirst. The subject of the first verb is still the 
waters. The verb itself means to water, in the sense of giving 
drink to animals, though sometimes metaphorically applied to 
irrigation. See Gen. ii. 10. The form of the parallelism in this 
verse is peculiar, although not uncommon in Hebrew poetry, the 
last clause containing a specification of the general statement in 
the first. What is first said of animals, or wild ones in the gen- 
eral, is then said of the wild ass in particular. Quench, literally, 
Ireak, i. e. subdue, assuage. A derivative noun is applied in 
Hebrew to corn or grain, as that which breaks or assuages hunger, 
although most interpreters and lexicographers suppose a reference 
to the literal breaking or grinding of the corn itself. 

12. Above them the birds of heaven dwell, from between the 
branches they give voice. The poetical character of the compo- 
sition is in nothing more obvious than in these minute strokes of 
exquisite painting, superadded to the more essential parts of the 
description. At the same time, these are not to be regarded as 
mere lavish or gratuitous embellishments, since the Psalmist's 
purpose is to celebrate God's wonderful and bountiful provision 
for his living creatures, and the running brooks would fail to an- 
swer one of their most valuable ends, if there were no birds to give 



36 PSALM CIV. 

voice or sins: anions the branches of the overhan<nn2: trees. The 
word translated birds is a collective answering to the old English 
fowl, not as used in the version of this psalm, where it is plural, 
but in that of Gen. i. 20, 22, 26, 28. That passage furnishes an 
explanation of the phrase fowl (or birds) of heaven, in the fuller 
description (Gen i. 20), fowl that may fly above the earth in the 
open firmament of heaven, i. e. through the air, across the face of 
the expanse or visible heaven. 

* 13. Watering mountains from his upper rooms — frcm the fruit 
of thy works is the earth filled. He still returns to God as the 
author of these merciful provisions, and represents him, by a 
beautiful figure, as pouring this abundant supply of water from 
his upper rooms , the same word that was rendered halls in v. 3 ; 
but here the connection seems to require that its precise etymo- 
logical import should be prominent. The fruit of thy works, the 
result or product of thy creative energy. Filled, not in the sense 
of being occupied, which would require a different Hebrew verb, 
but in that of being abundantly supplied or saturated. See 
above, on Ps. ciii. 5. The sudden apostrophe to God himself 
enhances the poetical effect. 

14. Causing grass to grow for the catth and herb for the 
culture of man, (so as) to bring forth bread from the earth. In 
this verse there is a transition from God's care of the inferior ani- 
mals to his care of man. The word translated herb denotes any 
green plant or vegetable, and is here applied to such as constitute 
or furnish human food. The common version of the next words, 
for the service of man, can only mean for his benefit or use, a 
sonse not belonging to the Hebrew word, which, as well as its verbal 
root, is applied to man's servitude or bondage as a tiller of the 
ground (Gen. iii. 17 — 19), and has here the sense of husbandry 
->r cultivation, as in Ex. i. 14. Lev. xxv. 39, it has that of com- 



PSALM CIV. 37 

pulsory or servile labour. The infinitive in the last clause indi- 
cates the object for which labour is imposed on man. 

15. And wine gladdens the heart of man — (so as) to make his 
face shine more than oil — and bread the heart of man sustains. 
The general expression at the end of v. 14 is now rendered more 
specific by distinctly mentioning the great staples of production 
and subsistence in the Holy Land. The only doubt is whether 
two or three are mentioned. The text of the English Bible 
makes oil a distinct item in the catalogue, and oil to make his face 
to shine. But this is an impossible construction of the Hebrew, 
in which the infinitive {to make shine) bears the same relation to 
what goes before as the infinitive (to bring forth) in the verse pre- 
ceding, and is therefore expressive not of a distinct cause and 
effect, but of a consequence resulting from the one just men- 
tioned. The true construction is given in the margin of the 
English Bible, to make his face shine with oil, or more than oil. 
To the first of these alternative translations it may be objected 
that wine cannot make men's faces shine with oil, unless there is 
allusion to the festive unctions of the ancients, which however 
were restricted to the head. The other, therefore, seems to be 
the true sense, in which oil is merely mentioned as a shining sub- 
stance. The description of food as sustaining the heart is very 
ancient. See Gen. xviii. 5. Judg. xix. 8. 

16. Full are the trees of Jehovah; the cedars of Lebanon which 
he planted. Full, i. e. abundantly supplied, saturated as in v. 13. 
The English versions supply sap ; but the idea suggested by the 
context is the more general one of moisture, irrigation. The 
mutual relation of the clauses is the same as in v. 11. What is 
first said of trees, or of the noblest trees, in general, is then said 
of the cedars in particular. The trees of Jehovah, like the cedars 
of God in Ps. lxxx. 11 (10), are those which he has planted 
(Num. xxiv. 6), those which, by their loftiness or fruitfulness or 



38 PSALM CIV. 

beauty, bear the strongest impress of their Maker's hand. The 
cedars of Lebanon are often mentioned as the noblest and most 
famous of their kind. See above, on Ps. xxix. 5. xcii. 13 (12.) 

17. "Where the (small) birds nestle; (as to) the stork, the 
cypresses (arc) her house. He again recurs to the provision made 
for birds, which is here connected with the trees, as it is in v. 12. 
The word translated birds is not the one there used, but the same 
with that in Ps. lxxxiv. 4 (3.) cii. 7, where it is commonly trans- 
lated sparrow, though supposed to be a general term for small 
birds, so called from their chirping, twittering noise. Here it 
may represent the smaller and the stork the larger class of birds. 
The Hebrew name of the stork means merciful or pious, and is 
supposed to have reference to the natural kindness of that bird, 
both to its parents and its young. Nestle or build their nests. 
The choice between the old translation, fir-trees, and the new one, 
cypresses, is exegctically unimportant. 

18. Mountains, the high (ones), are for the loild-goats — rocks 
(are) a refuge for the conies. The idea seems to be, that even 
the wildest situations, and the most inaccessible to man, afford 
shelter and subsistence to some form of life, and are therefore 
proofs of the divine benevolence and wisdom. Of the names of 
animals here mentioned, the first occurs also in the book of Job 
(xxxix. 1) ; the second in the lists of unclean beasts, Lev. xi. 5. 
Deut. xiv. 7 ; and both in the writings of Solomon, Prov. v. 19. 
xxx. 26. Of the second, various explanations have been given, 
but none of them more probable than that derived from the rab- 
binical tradition. Nor is the question of the slightest exegetical 
importance, since the only peculiarities involved are those sug- 
gested by the text itself, to wit, that the animals intended must be 
such as inhabit rocks and mountains. Some supply a refuge in the 
first clause from the second ; but a better sense is yielded by the 
simpler construction, they belong to (or are intended for) the wild 



PSALM CIV. 39 

goats, which agrees exactly with the drift of the whole psalm to 
show that all parts of the inanimate creation contribute something 
to the comfort of the living sentient creature. 

19. He made the moon for seasons; the sun knows his setting. 
Even the heavenly bodies have a reference to man's advantage. 
The moon is a measure of time, and the sun defines the period of 
active labor. The word translated seasons is the plural of the one 
translated set time in Ps. lxxv. 3 (2.) cii. 14, and the same that 
means assemblies in Ps. lxxiv. 4, S. It is here put for all divi- 
sions of time, including the succession of day and night, to which 
there is perhaps a special reference, as in the other clause, where 
the meaning seems to be, that the sun knows when and where to 
set, and does not make the day, with its attendant toils, perpetual. 
This is a strong poetical description of an obvious and familiar 
fact, and no more presupposes a particular theory or system of 
astronomy than the similar language of uninspired poets among 
ourselves. 

20. Thou makest darkness and it is night ; in it begins to move 
every beast of the forest. The first verb in Hebrew means to set 
or place, but is used precisely as a word of the same meaning is 
in v. 3. Its abbreviated form does not indicate an optative 
meaning, but is substituted for the full form by poetic license. 
It is night, or night is, night begins to be. The same inceptive 
meaning is expressed in the translation of the third verb, which 
denotes animal motion, but is specially applied to that of reptiles. 
The idea of a secret, stealthy motion, as suggested by the com- 
mon version (do creep forth), can hardly be intended, as the con- 
text shows the main idea of the passage to be this, that as the 
day affords a time for active motion to mankind and to domestic 
animals, the night affords a like time for the wilder beasts, or 
beasts of the forest, an expression which occurs above, in Ps. 
I. 10 



40 PSALM CIV. 

21. The young lions roaring for the prey, and to seek from 
God their food. By translating the participle and infinitive both 
as presents, the common version makes this a distinct propo- 
sition. But in Hebrew it forms part of the preceding sentence, 
and contains a specification of the general statement there made. 
When nio-ht comes on, all the beasts of the forest are aroused, 
and among the rest the lion, roaring for his prey, (is roused) to 
seek his food from God. This last expression implies no such 
purpose on the lion's part, but merely that he seeks what can only 
be bestowed by an almighty being, which idea is suggested by the 
name of God here used. 

22. The sun rises — they are gathered — and in their dens lie down. 
The first clause may also be translated, let the sun rise, they are 
gathered, or paraphrased in more accordance with our idiom, 
when the win rises they are gathered ; but neither of these con- 
structions is so 'striking and poetical as the exact version first 
above given. Gathered, i. e. called in from their wanderings and 
dispersions. The word translated dens means abodes or homes, 
and is a connate form to that in Ps. xc. 1 ; but the form here 
used is specially applied to the lairs or resting places of wild 
beasts, not only here but in Am. iii. 4. The last verb is also 
one appropriated to the lying down of animals. See above, on 
Ps. xxiii. 2. The construction is a pregnant one : they lie down 
to (or into) their dens, i. e. go into them and lie down. 

23. Forth goes man to his work, and to his labour until evening. 
This verse presents the day-scene corresponding to the night- 
scene of the two preceding verses. When night comes on, the 
beasts of the forest are in motion ; when the sun appears, they 
gather to their lairs, and man comes forth to labour until evening, 
when the scene is shifted as before. Leaving out of view all 
higher claims to admiration and respect, the poetical merit of 



PSALM CIV. 41 

this whole description is of the highest order. The word trans- 
lated labour is the same that was translated culture in v. 14. 

24. How manifold are thy works, Jehovah; all of them in wis- 
dom hast thou wrought ; full is the earth of thy riches. The first 
verb in Hebrew strictly means are many, but as the context has 
respect to the variety, and not to the mere number, of God's 
works, the sense is well conveyed by the term used in the English 
versions {manifold.) Works and wrought represent a cognate 
verb and noun in Hebrew, a combination which adds point and ani- 
mation to the sentence. The last word in the verse is derived from 
a verb which means to acquire, either by creation or by purchase. 
While the noun, therefore, strictly denotes acquisitions or pos- 
sessions, its etymological affinities would instantly suggest to 
every Hebrew reader the idea of creation, as the ultimate source 
of these possessions, a modification of the thought which cannot 
be conveyed by any mere translation. 

25. Here is the sea, great and wide on all hands; there are 

moving things, and without number, small animals with great. 

The exclamation or reflection in the preceding verse affords a 

transition to the survey of other parts of the creation, not included 

in the catalogue before recited, yet no less striking in themselves, 

and as proofs or illustrations of the Maker's wisdom. Such is the 

sea, or here for instance is the sea, are the phrases which would 

probably be used in our idiom, to introduce the first example 

The same thing was probably intended by the Hebrew phrase, 

this (is) the sea, as if the speaker at the same time pointed to it. 

See above, on v. 8. Wide of both hands is another idiomatic 

phrase used also by Moses (G-en. xxxiv. 21) and Isaiah (xxxiii. 

21.) It obviously means stretching out in all directions. The 

sense of hand, as thus used, is the same as in the English phrase 

on all hands, and is probably derived from the use of the right 

and left hand to distinguish position or direction. Moving things 



42 PSALM CIV. 

is here used to translate a single Hebrew word (-fa*)), the cognate 
noun of the verb employed in v. 20 to denote animal motion. 
It is a j) plied to marine animals, as here, in Gen. i. 9. Ps. lxix. 
35 f34.) The use of the word leasts, in the common version of 
the last clause, is not' consistent with its modern usage, which re- 
stricts it to terrestial quadrupeds. 

26. There the shifts go — Leviathan — this (that) thou hast formed 
to play therein. While the ships connect the sea with man's 
activity and interests, Leviathan, the standing representative of 
aquatic monsters, may be here put for the population of the sea 
itself. To play therein, as in his native element. Compare Job 
xl. 20. The idiomatic use of this is like that in v. 25. The word 
translated go, in the common version of the first clause, is the 
same that was rendered walk in v. 3, and run in v. 10. 

27. All of them on thee rely, to give their food in its season. 
The all of them obviously relates to all the living creatures 
previously mentioned, and not to any one or more exclusively, 
the proposition being no less true of men than brutes, or of brutes 
than men. On thee rely is not an exact translation of the He- 
brew, which indeed does not admit of one, because it combines a 
verb and preposition which cannot be combined in English. The 
form of the original is, to thee wait, expect, or hope, the verb ex- 
pressing confidence, the particle the act of looking towards the 
object thus confided in. The description of the animals as 
thus expecting their supplies from God, is merely the poetical 
costume in which the Psalmist clothes the fact, that they are 
really, although unconsciously, dependent on him. In precisely 
the same manner, other poets represent the earth, in time of 
drought, as. parched with thirst and longing for the rain, which 
expressions no sane man would either charge with falsehood, or 
consider as implying a belief in the conscious personality of 



PSALM CIV. 43 

Earth Compare my note on Isai. xlii. 4. In its season, i. c. 
when they need it. 

2S. Thou giv est to them, they gather; thou openest thy hand, 
they are filled {with) food. The point of the significant anti- 
thesis is this, that God as easily bestows as they receive. He has 
only to give, they have only to gather. He has but to open his 
hand, and they are instantly provided, even to satiety. Filled, 
satisfied, abundantly supplied, as in v. 13. The verb rendered 
gather means to pick up or collect from the ground. It is 
used in the history of the manna (Ex. xvi. 1, 5, 16), to which 
there is obvious allusion. The act- of gathering from the ground 
seems to presuppose a previous throwing down from heaven 
The common version, that (meaning what) thou givest them they 
gather, weakens the sentence, if it does not render it unmeaning 

29. Thou hidest thy face, they are confounded ; thou withdraw est 
their breath, they expire, and to their dust return. The hiding of 
God's face is the opposite of looking with a favourable aspect. 
See above, on Ps. xiii. 2(1.) It here means the suspension or 
withdrawing of the various benefits before described. They are 
troubled is, in every case, a feeble version of one of the strongest 
words in the language, which has been already more than once 
explained. Even confounded, though much stronger, does not 
perfectly convey the idea, which is that of being agitated, terror- 
stricken, or convulsed. See above, on Ps. ii. 5. lxxviii, 33. xc. 7. 
Their breath, the vital principle imparted by the Spirit of God 
(Gen. ii. 7), who is the God of the spirits of all flesh, i. e. the 
author of all life whatever. See Num. xvi. 22. xxvii. 16, and 
compare Heb. xii. 9. The verb expire is used in the account of 
the destruction of all living creatures by the flood, Gen. vii. 21, 
22, to which there is no doubt allusion, as there is in the next 
clause to Gen. iii. 19. Compare Ps. xc. 3 ciii. 14. Ecc. xii. 7. 



44 PSALM CIV. 

Their dust, their own, their native dust, to which they "belong, 
and from which they sprang. 

30. Thou sendest thy breath, they are created, and thou re- 
newest the face of the earth. The absolute power of God over the 
life of his creatures is expressed by representing him as annihil- 
ating and creating the whole race at pleasure, by a breath. With 
equal correctness we might read thy spirit, but thy breath is more 
poetical, and therefore better suited to the context as the primary 
meaning, though the spirit be really intended. They are created 
refers the effect more directly to God's power than they live or 
they revive would do. In the last clause there is evident allusion 
to the renovation of the earth desolated by the flood, and the 
joyous change of its face or aspect when re-peopled. 

31. Let the glory of Jehovah be forever ; let Jehovah rejoice in 
his works. The optative form of the first verb here determines 
the meaning of the other. It would also be grammatical, though 
much less natural in this connection, to regard the abbreviated 
form of the first verb as a mere poetic license, and explain both 
as futures proper. The glory of Jehovah shall be to eternity ; Je- 
hovah shall rejoice in his ivories. The grammatical question is of 
less importance, because one of these senses really implies the 
other. The wish is not for something doubtful but infallibly cer- 
tain, and the prediction is in strict accordance with the wish 
of him who utters it. In this verse some interpreters suppose 
an allusion to God's satisfaction in his own work of creation 
when he rested from it on the seventh day. See Gen. ii. 1, 2. 

32. He that looks at the earth and it quakes, touches the hills and 
they smoke. There is something in the form of this verse similar 
to that of v. 2S. God has only to look at the earth to make it 
quake. He has only to touch the mountains and they smoke. 
His controlling and terrifying acts are as prompt and easy as his 



PSALM CIV. 45 

acts of grace. There seems to be a reference to the words of 
Moses in describing the effects of the theophany at Sinai, when 
its summit smoked, and its very roots or bases were on fire. See 
Ex. xix. 18. Deut. xxxii. 22. To those familiar with the con- 
stant use of mountains as a symbol of great monarchies, this verse 
would necessarily suggest the thought, that God's power over 
states is no less absolute than that which he exercises over indi- 
viduals, or over the inanimate creation. 

33. I. will sing to Jehovah while, I live, I will make music to my 
God while I still (exist.) This is the Psalmist's conclusion from the 
view which he has taken, with respect to his own interest and 
duty. If the Lord be such a Grod to all his creatures, then I 
can do no better than expend the remainder of my life in praising 
him. The two verbs are those continually joined to denote vocal 
and instrumental praise. The closing words of each clause, and 
especially the second, have a highly idiomatic character. The 
phrase translated while I live means literally in my life or lives. 
The corresponding one can scarcely be translated, as it is com- 
posed of the preposition in, the adverb yet or still, and the pro- 
noun of the first person, in my yet, i. e. in my {being) yet, while I 
still am, or continue to exist. 

34. Sweet shall be of him my meditation ; I will rejoice in Je- 
hovah. The ancient versions and the Prayer Book, with some of 
the best interpreters, put an optative sense upon the first clause, 
may my thought (or speech) be acceptable to him. In favour of 
this interpretation is the fact that a synonymous verb, followed by 
the same preposition (^S)> means to be pleasing to a person, in Ps. 
xvi. 6. In favour of the other is the want of anything to indi- 
cate a wish, and the parallelism of the second clause, which relates 
to the expression of his own feelings towards Jehovah, not to the 
dispositions of Jehovah towards himself. Thus understood, the 
whole verse completes the Psalmist's practical conclusion from 



46 PSALM CV. 

the view which he has taken of God's power, wisdom, and good- 
ness, namely, that the knowledge and possession of this God is 
happiness. 

35. Consumed are sinners from the earth, and (as for) wicked 
men, they are no more. Bless, oh my soul, Jehovah. Hallelujah ! 
This verse has no perceptible connexion, either with the verse 
immediately before it, or with the general drift of the whole 
psalm, except upon the supposition, that the whole psalm was in- 
tended to derive, from the view of God's authoritative *;are over 
his works, an encouraging assurance that his people must be safe ; 
that he who feeds and shelters the inferior animals, and makes 
provision for the physical necessities of men in general, cannot 
fail to provide for the security and happiness of those whom he 
has set apart for himself, or to free them from the malice of those 
sinners who are equally the enemies of God and of his people. 
The psalm, like the one before it, closes with the same words 
which began it. The last word, Hallelujah (praise ye Jali), 
occurs here for the first time, and is supposed by some to form 
no part of the original composition, but to have been added for 
the purpose of adapting it to some public service at a later date. 



PSALM C Y . 

Tins, like the Seventy-Eighth, is a historical psalm, recounting 
God's ancient dealings with his people, especially in Egypt. 
The practical design of the commemoration is not to bring the 
people to repentance, as in the case referred to, but to excite 
their hopes of an analogous deliverance. According to a theory 



PSALM CV. 47 

already mentioned, this is the second member of a trilogy, added 
to one of older date (Ps. ci — ciii) during the time of the cap- 
tivity. It differs from the psalm before it in deriving from his- 
tory the same consolation which is there derived from nature. 
After the introduction, vs. 1 — 7, the arrangement is simply chrono- 
logical, beginning with the promise to Abraham, and ending with 
the conquest of Canaan, vs. 8 — 44. The first fifteen verses of this 
psalm are found in 1 Chron. xvi, combined with Ps. xevi and 
three verses of Ps. cvi. See above, on Ps. xcvi. 1. 

1. Give thanks unto Jehovah, call upon his name, make known 
among the nations his exploits. The original meaning of the 
second phrase is, call (him) by his name, i. e. give him the de- 
scriptive title most expressive of his divine perfections ; or more 
specifically, call him by his name Jehovah, i. e. ascribe to him 
the attributes which it denotes, to wit, eternity and self-existence, 
together with that covenant relation to his people, which though 
not denoted by the name was constantly associated with it, and 
therefore necessarily suggested by it. The meaning of the next 
phrase is obscured, if not entirely concealed, in the common ver- 
sion, among the people. The plural form and sense of the original 
expression are essential to the writer's purpose, which is to 
glorify the God of Israel among all nations. See above, on Ps. 
xviii. 50 (49.) lvii. 10 (9.) For the meaning of the last word, 
see above, on Ps. ciii. 7. 

2. Sing to him, play to him, muse on all his wondrous deeds. 
The exhortation seems to be addressed to the Gentiles, who are 
called uDon to join in the praises and to share the blessings of the 
chosen people. For the meaning of the last verb, see above, on 
Ps. civ. 34. 

3. Glory in his holy name ! Glad shall he the heart of those who 
seek Jehovah. Congratulate yourselves that you possess a right 



48 PSALM CV. 

and interest in the favour of so glorious a Being. The last clause 
presents as an inducement, that to seek the favour of this (rod is 
a source, and by implication the only source, of joy and happi- 
ness. Compare Ps. xxxiv. 3 (2.) xl. 17 (16.) lxix. 7 (6.) 

4. Seek Jehovah and his strength, seek his face evermore. The 
Hebrew verbs, although synonymous, are not identical. And his 
strength, the protection secured by his almighty power. Seek 
him, not as a finite beings but as the omnipotent Jehovah, the 
source, as well as the possessor, of all strength. Seek his face, 
not merely his presence, but his countenance, his favourable look 
or aspect. With the several expressions of this verse compare 
Ps. ix. 11 (10.) x. 4. xiv. 2. xxiv. 6. xxxiv. 5 (4.) lxi. 4 (3.) 
lxii. 8 (7.) lxiii. 3 (2.) lxviii. 35 (34) xcvi. 7. 

5. Remember his wondrous deeds ivhich he did, his miracles and 
the judgments of his mouth. They are exhorted not to forget 
them, as Israel is charged with doing, Ps. lxxviii. 11. Miracles, 
prodigies or wonders, proofs of divine power. There is no need 
of identifying these with the judgments of his mouth, which in- 
clude his laws and the sentences pronounced upon his enemies. 
The latter is probably the prominent idea as best suited to this 
context. 

6. Ye seed cf Abraham his servant, ye sons of Jacob, his chosen 
(ones.) Descendants of the patriarchs, and therefore heirs of the 
patriarchal promises. The common version of the last phrase 
(his chosen), though exact, conveys a wrong idea, as it seems to 
make chosen an epithet of Jacob, which would also seem to be 
required by the parallelism ; but the Hebrew word is plural and 
describes the object of address as the church or chosen people. 
Compare Isai. lxv. 9. Abraham is called the Servant of God, in 
an emphatic sense, as being his chosen instrument and confidential 



PSALM CV. 49 

agent. See above, on Ps. xviii. 1, and compare Ps. xc. 1. The 
parallel passage (1 Chr. xvi. 13) has Israel his servant. 

7. lie is lehovah our God ; in all the earth (are) his judg- 
ments. His covenant relations are with us the seed of Abraham ; 
but the proofs of his existence and vindicatory justice are com- 
mon to all nations. This whole introduction seems intended to 
dispose both Jews and Gentiles to the praise of God. 

8. He rememhered forever his covenant , the word he commanded for 
a thousand generations. There is here a kind of antithetical allu- 
sion to the exhortation in v. 5. They should remember what he 
did, since he remembers what he promised. What he has done 
involves a pledge of what he will do. He has remembered (and 
will remember) his covenant to eternity. The tcord is the word 
of promise. He is said to have commanded it, partly because his 
promise is conditional and annexed to his commandment, and for 
that reason called a covenant ; partly because all that God says 
must of necessity be said with authority, so that even his pro- 
mises partake of the nature of commands. The last phrase, a 
thousand generations , is Mosaic. See Deut. vii. 9, and' compare 
Ex. xx. 6. 

9. Which he ratified with Abraham , and his oath to Isaac. 
The sentence is continued from the foregoing verse. Ratified, 
literally cut ; see above, on Ps. 1. 5. His oath (which he sware) 
to Isaac, or, his oath for (the benefit of) Isaac. The distinction, 
if any be intended, is that the covenant was formally made only 
with Abraham, and merely sanctioned or confirmed by oath to 
his successors. See Gen. xv. 18. xxvi. 3. xxviii. 13. His oath 
is governed by rememhered in v. 8. Compare Ps. lxxxix. 2S, 
34 (27, 33.) 

10. And confirmed it to lacob for a statute, to Israel (for) 

VOL. III. 3 



50 PSALM CV. 

an everlasting covenant. Confirmed it, literally, made (or let) it 
stand, instead of suffering it to expire with the person to whom it 
was originally given. A statute, in the wide sense of a perma- 
nent arrangement, a perpetual constitution, or, as it is called in 
the last clause, a compact of eternity, an everlasting covenant. 
See Gen. xxviii. 13. xxxv. 12. 

11. Saying, To thee will I give the land of Canaan, as the 
portion of your heritagc x The subject or substance of the pro- 
mise is now more distinctly stated. The word translated portion 
primarily means a line, especially a measuring line, and then 
what is measured by it, to wit, a piece of land, a lot of ground. 
This was not to be given to the patriarchs in person, but to their 
descendants, as the portion of their heritage or their hereditary 
portion. The plural your may refer, however, to the patriarchs 
themselves, as the promise was repeated to Abraham, Isaac, and 
Jacob. 

12. When as yet they could be numbered — very few, and Strang 
trs in it. The first clause involves an antithetical allusion to the 
promise, afterwards fulfilled, that they should be innumerable as 
the stars, or as the sand upon the shore, Gen. xxii. 17. The 
form of the original is highly idiomatic, in their being men of 
number, like a little, or like littleness itself. See above, on Ps. 
lxxiii. 2, and compare Isai. i. 9. Strangers, sojourners, living 
on the lands of others, at their will, or by their sufferance. See 
above, on Ps. xxxix. 13 (12.) In it, the land of Canaan, men- 
tioned in the preceding verse. The whole verse qualifies the 
previous account of the patriarchal covenant, which was not 
made with Israel when already a great nation, but with their 
ancestors when few in number and without a settled home. The 
parallel passage (1 Chron. xvi. 19) has when ye were. See Gen. 
zxxiv. 30, and compare Deut. xxxiii. G. Jsai. x. 19. 



PSALM CV. 51 

13. And they went about from nation to nation, from kingdom to 
another people. This may be regarded as in contrast with v. 12, and 
(yet) they went about, notwithstanding their small number and their 
being strangers. Or vs. 12, 13, may be the protasis of the sen- 
tence, and v. 14 its apodosis. 'When they were few and 
strangers, and went from nation to nation, he let no man, etc' 
This verse describes the characteristic feature in the condition of 
the chosen people, during the patriarchal period of their history, 
namely, their migratory intercourse with various nations. These 
are mentioned in the first clause as distinct races, in the last as 
distinct states or bodies politic. Where wo might have expected 
from kingdom to kingdom, the ear is somewhat disappointed by 
the phrase from kingdom to another people, which may have been 
intended to distinguish the Egyptian and other monarchies from 
the more democratical or patriarchal institutions of the Arabians 
and other nations. They tvent about seems to be the force of the 
reflexive or frequentative verb, as distinguished from that of the 
primitive, they went. See above, on Ps. xxvi. 3. xxxv. 14. ci. 2, 
and compare Gen. v. 22. xvii. 1. xxiv. 6, 9, 40. xlviii. 15. 

14. He suffered no man to oppress them, and reproved, for their 
sake, kings. The precise sense of the first clause is, he suffered 
not man (or men in general) to oppress them. The protection 
of the patriarchs is certainly one of the most striking facts in 
sacred history. The kings mentioned in the last clause are the 
kings of Egypt and Gerar (Gen. xii. 17. xx. 3), not without 
reference perhaps to those mentioned in Gen. xiv. 1. 

15. Tauch not mine anointed (ones), and to my prophets do no 
harm. These are the words of God himself, and are designated 
as such, in the English Bible, by supplying the word saying, 
which is expressed in the analogous case, v. 11. Touch not, as 
in Gen. xxvi. 11,29. In the Old Testament, unction is the 
symbol of spiritual gifts, and especially of those imparted to the 



52 PSALM CV. 

great theocratical offices. See above, on Ps. ii. 2. From the 
case of Elisha (1 Kings xix. 16) it would seem that -prophets 
were anointed when inducted into office. The patriarchs are here 
called prophets in the proper sense of the term, as denoting men 
inspired of God, and admitted to confidential intercourse with 
him. The allusion here is to Gen. xx. 7, where God says to 
Abimclech of Abraham, "Restore the man his wife, for he is a 
prophet, and he will pray for thee, and thou shalt live." 

16. And he called (for) a famine on the land ; every staff of 
bread he broke. The psalmist now passes from the Patriarchal to 
the Egyptian period of the history, by stating the occasion of 
Israel's migration into Egypt. The meaning of the first clause 
seems to be, that he summoned famine, as his instrument or ser- 
vant, to come down upon the land, as sent from above, that is to 
say, from himself. The meaning of the last clause is, that the 
people were deprived of every customary means and source of 
subsistence. The figure of a staff or stay is a Mosaic one. See 
Lev. xxvi. 26, and compare Isai. iii. 1. It is near akin to the 
description of food as staying or sustaining the heart. See above, 
on Ps. civ. 15, The historical reference in the verse before us 
is to Gen. xli. 54. 

17. He sent before them a man ; sold for a slave was Joseph. 
The same providential purpose is assigned to Joseph's bondage 
by himself, Gen. xlv. 5. With the last clause compare Gen. 
xxxvii. 36. Some interpreters, assuming, as we have already 
seen, that this psalm was composed in the time of the captivity, 
suppose a parallel, in this verse, between Joseph and Daniel, 
both of whom, in addition to their personal qualities, were sent 
into captivity before the body of their brethren ; both gained the 
royal favour and were exalted to high station in the land of their 
captivity ; and both employed the influence thus gained for tli ! 
.advantage of their countrymen. To the Jews in exile, such a 



PSALM CV 



53- 



parallel must have been not only interesting, in a historical or 
poetical point of view, but consolatory and encouraging as a token 
for good, a sign that God was about to renew the exodus from 
Egypt in an exodus from Babylon. 

18. They hurt, with tM fetter, his feet ; into iron came his soul. 
That Joseph was actually chained or fettered, is included in the 
true sense of the word bound, applied to him in the history.. See 
Gen. xl. 3, and compare Gen. xxxix. 20, 22. They, the Egyp- 
tians, or his gaolers ; or the verb may be indefinitely construed, 
as if it had been said, his feet were hurt. The verb means else- 
where to humble or mortify, but is here used in its strict sense of 
afflicting, causing to suffer. The Prayer Book version of the 
last clause, the iron entered into his soul, is ungrammatical, the 
word for iron being masculine, while that for soul is, like the verb, 
feminine. The general sense is given in the text of the English 
Bible, and the exact form in the margin. The mention of the 
soul, as in many other cases, is of course not meant to be ex- 
clusive of the body, but to suggest the idea of intimate and heart- 
felt suffering. See above, on Ps. iii. 3 (2.) xi. 1, etc. 

19. Until the time that his word came (to pass), the saying of 
Jehovah tried him. The last verb properly denotes the assaying 
of metals, but is figuratively applied to moral trial and purgation. 
See above, on Ps. xii. 7 (6.) xvii. 3. xviii. 31 (30.)xxvi. 2. The 
most probable meaning of the verse is, that during the two years 
which intervened between his explanation of the prisoners' 
dreams and the favourable issue to which it ultimately led, his 
faith in the divine promise, both to himself and to his people, was 
severely but favourably tried. Compare the history in Gen. xl, xli. 

20. The king sent and loosed him — the ruler of nations, and set 
him free. Both verbs strictly apply to the removal of his fetters, 
the first meaning properly to knock off (Isai. lviii. 6), the other to 



54 PSALM CV. 

open for the purpose of removing. See above, on Ps. xxx 
12 (11.) The king of Egypt is called a ruler of peoples, either 
in reference to the tribes or nomes of Egypt itself, or because 
there were other nations tributary to hiin. 

21. He made him lord of his house and ruler of all his wealth. 
The literal meaning of the first clause is, he placed him lord to his 
house,. See Gen. xli. 40, 41, 43. xlv. 8. For the meaning of 
the last word in the sentence, see above, on Ps. civ. 24. It is 
one of the points of resemblance which are thought to identify 
the two psalms as the work of the same author. 

22. To bind his chiefs at his pleasure, and his elders to make 
wise. The words translated chiefs and elders are those commonly 
applied to the heads of tribes and families, the hereditary magi- 
strates under the patriarchal system. The application of the 
second word to Egypt is found also in the history, Gen. 1. 7. At 
his pleasure, literally, with his soul, which some explain as a bold 
metaphor, describing Joseph's mind or soul as the cord or chain 
with which he bound the Egyptians, i. e. forced them to perform 
his will. But see Ps. xvii. 9. xxvii. 12. xli. 3 (2.) 

23. And (so) Israel entered Egypt, and Jacob sojourned in the 
land of Ham. This was the main event, to which those .just re- 
cited were preparatory. Israel and Jacob are the names both of 
the individual patriarch and of his descendants as a nation. In 
this case both the applications are admissible, or rather requisite, 
in order to exhaust the writer's meaning. The patriarch himself 
came into Egypt, but his sons literally came with him, and all his 
descendants figuratively in him. The land of Ham, from whom 
Mizraim was descended. See above, on Ps. lxxviii. 51. 

24. And he increased his people greatly, and made (hem stronger 
than their enemies. Increased, literally, rendered fruitful. The 



PSALM CV. 55 

same verb is used in the promise to Abraham and Jacob (Gen. 
xvii. 6. xxviii. 2), and in the history of Israel in Egypt, Ex. i. 7. 
The word here used for enemies is one implying persecution and 
oppression. The singular pronouns in the Hebrew, made him 
stronger than his enemies, are in strict grammatical agreement with 
the collective noun people. 

25. He turned their heart to Imte his people, to deal craftily 
with his servants. The first clause asserts G-od's sovereign 
control even of the free acts of his sinful creatures, a truth 
repeatedly affirmed in the history which this psalm recapitulates. 
See Ex. iv. 21. vii. 3, and compare 1 Sam. xxvi. 9. 2 Sam. xvi. 10. 
xxiv. 1. The last verb occurs only in the history of Joseph, Gen. 
xxxvii. IS. The corresponding term in Exodus (i. 10) is let us deal 
wisely, or more exactly, let us make ourselves wise, as the verb in 
this case may be rendered, let us make ourselves subtle or crafty, 
both beins; reflexive forms. The historical allusion is of course 
to the murderous policy, which preceded the violent oppression of 
the Hebrews. 

26. He sent Moses his servant (and) Aaron whom he chose. 
The meaning is not Moses (who was) his servant, or (because he 
was) his servant, but (to be) his servant, his instrument in the 
great work of delivering his people. See above, on v. 6, and on 
Ps. xviii. 1. xxxvi. 1. lxxviii. 70. 

27. They placed among them the words of his signs and wonders 
in the land of Ham. The first phrase seems to mean nothing 
more than set before them or exhibited to them. Words of signs is 
by some understood to mean matters (or affairs) of signs, and to 
be either a pleonastic phrase for signs alone, or an emphatic 
phrase denoting all the signs. See above, on Ps. lxv. 4 (3.) 
The Srst is a gratuitous assumption, the last a forced interpreta- 
tion Better than either is the explanation which gives to words 



56 PSALM CV. 

its proper meaning, and supposes stress to be intentionally laid on 
the divine word of Jehovah, and the prophetic word of Moses and 
Aaron, in the way of threatening and command, as well as on the 
physical effects which followed these denunciations. Compare 
the use of words in Ps. vii. 1, and the explanation there given. 
Signs, i. e. tokens of God's presence and activity, and indica- 
tions of his will. Wonders, prodigies, miracles, the same word 
that occurs above in v. 5. 

28. He sent darkness and made it dark, and they did not resist 
his words, or according to the marginal readinor his word. - This 
is by some understood to mean the plague of darkness, which im- 
mediately preceded the slaughter of the first born, Ex. x. 22. 
But to this explanation there are two objections ; first, that it en- 
tirely disturbs the order of the plagues, which is otherwise observed 
with great exactness, the only deviation being very trivial compared 
with this ; secondly, because it would then be necessary to apply 
the last clause to Moses and Aaron, or to Israel in general, there- 
by making it unmeaning, or else to admit a contradiction of 
the history, which expressly says that the Egyptians did resist 
the word of God even after the plague of darkness, Ex. x. 27. 
The only remaining explanation is, that darkness, in the verse 
before us, as in many other cases, is a figure for calamity in gene- 
ral, and applied not to one plague in particular, but to the whole 
scries, of which a more detailed account is then subjoined. 

29. He turned their waters to blood and killed their fish. Here 
begins the more particular enumeration of the plagues of Egypt. 
Compare Ps. Ixxviii. 44, where the inconvenience specified is that 
they could not drink the water, whereas here it is the loss of their 
accustomed food. This last word is used as a collective in both 
lamruarres. , 

30. Their land teemed with frogs — in the chambers of their kings. 
That even these were not safe from the hateful intruders, is an 



PSALM CV, 57 

aggravating circumstance, particularly mentioned in the original 
threatening, and implied in the narrative of its execution. See 
Ex. viii. 3, 9. The first verb means to bring forth in abundance, 
and is so used in the history of the creation, with particular refer- 
ence to the genesis of animals, Gen. i. 20. 

31. He said, and the fly came and gnats (or lice) in all their 
border. See above, on Ps. lxxviii. 45, where the gnats or lice 
are omitted, and the flies precede the frogs. So here, the flies 
precede the lice, a slight departure from the order of the history. 
See Ex. viii. 5, 16. He said, i. e. he said so, which is tanta- 
mount to saying, he commanded. In all their border, i. e. every 
where within it, throughout the land. This expression is bor- 
rowed from the history. See Ex. viii. 2 (vii. 27.) 

32. He gave them hail for rain (and) flaming fire in their land. 
This, which is the common version, represents the sense correctly, 
but with a deviation from the form of the original, which is highly 
idiomatic. A bald translation is, he gave their rains hail, fire of 
flames in their land. The terms are chosen for the sake of an 
allusion to the promise in Lev. xxvi. 4, I will give your rains in 
their season. Instead of these he gave the Egyptians a destruc- 
tive hail-storm. Compare Ps. lxxviii. 48. 

33. And smote their vine and their fig-tree, and shattered 
the trees of their border. Compare Ps. lxxviii. 47, where syca- 
mores are particularly mentioned. The history says nothing of 
the vines, but speaks of the breaking of the trees, using the same 
intensive verb as here. See Ex. ix. 25. Their border, as before, 
means their land or territory in its whole extent, just as the ends 
of the earth is put for all its parts. See above, on Ps. ii. 8. 

34. He said, and the arbeh came, and the yclck, and (that) 
without number. The two Hebrew words, here retained, denote 

3* 



5S PSALM CV. 

varieties of the locust, and have no equivalents in English. See 
above, on Ps. lxxviii. 46, where the first word here stands second, 
and the place of the other is supplied by hasil, another distinctive 
term of the same kind. Without number, literally, there is no 
number. See the same expression, Ps. civ. 25. 

35. And devoured every herb in their land, and devoured the 
fruit of their ground. The verb, though varied in the common 
version, is the same in both cla uses of the Hebrew. See above, 
on Ps. xlviii. 46, and com pare the original narrative, Ex. x. 5, 15. 

36. And he smote all the firstborn in their land, the first-fruits 

* 

of all their strength. For the meaning of the last clause, see 
above, on Ps. lxxviii. 51, and compare Ex. xii. 29, 30. 

37. And he brought them out with silver and with gold, and there 
was not in his tribes a totttrer (or stumbler.) The first clause 
relates to the spoiling of the Egyptians, Ex. xii. 35, 36. The 
last word denotes a person unfit for military service. Compare 
[sai. v. 27. 

3S. Glad was Egypt at their going forth, for their fear had 
fallen upon them. This panic terror, which followed the last 
plague and facilitated the escape of Israel (Ex. xi. 1. xii. 31 — 33), 
accounts for the readiness with which the Egyptians gave what- 
ever was demanded, and completely vindicates the children of 
Israel from the charge of borrowing what they never meant to pay. 
The terms used in the history denote the acts of asking and 
giving, not those of borrowing and lending. The terms of the 
last clause are derived from Ex. xv. 16. Deut. xi. 25". 

39. lie spread a cloud for a covering, and fire to give light by 
night. See above, on Ps. lxxviii. 14. The poetical description 



PSALM CV. 59 

of the cloud as covering the host is derived from the statement 
that "the cloud of Jehovah was over (or above) them by day," 
Num. x. 34. Compare Num. ix. 16. Neh. ix. 12. Isai. iv. 5, 6. 

40. (The people) ashed and he made quails come — and bread cj 
heaven satisfied them. See above, on Ps. lxxviii. 25 — 27, and 
compare Ex. xvi. 4 — 13. Num. xi. 31. As to the alternation of 
the singular and plural forms, see above, on v. 24. Bread may 
either be the subject of the verb, as given above, or a qualifying 
term, (with) bread. 

41. He opened a rock and forth gushed waters ; they ran in the 
wastes, a river. See above, on Ps. lxxviii. 16, 20. The word 
translated wastes means, according to its etymology, dry places. 

42. Because he remembered his holy word with Abraham his ser- 
vant. This brings us back to the statement in vs. 8, 9, in proof 
of which this long array of facts has been presented. Nothing 
of all this would have taken place if God had been forgetful of 
his covenant. This covenant is here meant by his holy word, 
which is therefore followed by the preposition with, as in Ex. 
ix. 24, where the covenant is expressly mentioned. 

43. And brought out his people in joy, in triumph his chosen 
(ones.) He remembered his promise and in execution of it 
brought out his people, etc. The parallelism of people and chosen 
throws light upon the latter term, as used in v. 6. 

44. And gave to them nations'' lands, and peoples labour they 
inherit. The prominent idea is not that of gentiles or heathen, 
in the religious sense, but that of other nations, and whole na- 
tions, to whose place and possessions they succeeded. Labour is 
put for its result or product, as a synonymous Hebrew word is in 
Ps. lxxviii. 46. 



60 PSALM CVI. 

45. To the end that they might keep his statutes and his laws 
observe. Hallelujah ! The emphatic phrase at the beginning, 
corresponding to our phrases, to the end, for the purpose, or in 
order that, points this out as the qualification or condition of the 
promise which had been so gloriously verified. The same con- 
dition is expressed or implied elsewhere. See above, en Ps. 
Ixxviii. 7, and compare Gen. xviii. 19. Deut. iv. 40. xxvi. 17. 
Hallelujah (praise ye Jah) as above, in Ps. civ. 35. 



PSALM C V I . 

After an introduction, praising the divine goodness, and ex- 
pressing the hope of a participation in it, vs. 1 — 5, this psalm 
contains a solemn confession of the sins of Israel through all the 
periods of his history ; in Egypt, v. 6 — 12 ; in the wilderness, 
v. 13 — 33 ; in Canaan, vs. 34 — 43 ; and a prayer, founded on 
encouraging tokens of the Lord's compassion, that he will save 
his people from the punishment incurred by their unfaithfulness, 
vs. 44 — 48. According to Hengstenberg's hypothesis already 
mentioned, this is the third psalm of the trilogy added to Ps. 
ci — ciii, in the times of the captivity, and a direct continuation 
of the series, since the moral condition of God's covenant, pro- 
pounded at the close of Ps. cv, is here acknowledged to have 
been violated by his people, who are also represented as actually 
suffering the punishment of this violation, but encouraged by re- 
turning tokens of a favourable change, to hope and pray for the 
forgiveness of their sins and the removal of the judgments which 
they have so well deserved. The first verse and the two last 
form a part of the mixed composition in First Chronicles, which 



PSALM CVI. 61 

has been already mentioned. See above, on Ps. xcvi. 1. But a 
still more interesting parallel to this psalm is the prayer or con- 
fession in the ninth chapter of Daniel, which resembles it so much 
in subject, tone, and diction, that although not otherwise de- 
monstrable, it would not be absurd to regard the psalm before us 
as a lyrical paraphrase of that confession, prepared for permament 
and public use by Daniel himself or some contemporary writer. 

1. Hallelujah ! Give thanks unto Jehovah, for (he is) good, for 
unto eternity (is) his mercy. The Hallelujah (praise ye Jah !) 
which concludes the two preceding psalms, stands both at the 
beginning and the close of this. The exhortation to give thanks 
unto Jehovah is also found at the beo-inning of Ps. cv. The 
reason here assigned, that he is good, and his mercy endures for- 
ever, is expressed in the same words, Ps. c. 5. 

2. Who shall tell the mighty deeds of Jehovah ? (Who) shall 
utter all his praise ? The potential meaning (who can tell ?) is 
here included in the simple future. Mighty deeds answers to a 
single word in Hebrew meaning strengths or powers. The ex- 
pression is borrowed from Deut. iii. 24, where the English Bible 
has the singular form might. The verb translated utter is a 
causative, who shall cause to hear or to be heard ? See above, on 
Ps. xxvi. 7. The interrogation involves a negative assertion, 
namely, that they cannot be fully expressed or duly celebrated. 

3. Happy the keepers of judgment, the doer of righteousness at 
every time. The form of expression at the beginning is the same 
as in Ps. i. 1 . The keepers of judgment are those who observe 
justice as the rule of their conduct, the same idea that is after- 
wards expressed in other words, the doer (or practiser) of right- 
eousness, not occasionally merely but at all times. The change 
from the plural to the singular is common, where the latter de- 
notes an ideal individual, the representative of a whole class 



62 PSALM CVI. 

The condition here propounded is identical with that in Ps. 
cv. 45. ciii. IS. Dan. ix. 4. 

4. Remember me, Jehovah, with the favour of thy people; visit 
me with thy salvation. The speaker is the Church or chosen 
people, and therefore prays to be remembered with the kindness 
due to her as such. Visit me, manifest thy favourable presence. 
See above, on Ps. viii 5 (4.) Such a prayer, uttered by the 
church itself, implies that the tokens of God's favourable presence 
had been interrupted or withdrawn. 

5. To witness the welfare of thy chosen {ones), to rejoice in the 
joy of thy nation, to glory with thy heritage. Our idiom requires 
the subject of the verb to be more distinctly indicated. The 
meaning evidently is, that I may witness, that I may rejoice, thai 
I may glory. The phrase translated witness the welfare literally 
means to see in the good, i. e. to look on, to be a spectator, when 
thy chosen ones are in possession or enjoyment of good. Thy 
nation is here used instead of the customary phrase thy people, 
perhaps because the meaning is, the nation which is thy chosen 
people. The general meaning of the whole verse is, that I may 
once more be recognised and treated as thy people. 

6. We have sinned with our fathers, we have done perversely, 
we have done iciclcedly. The connection with the foregoing con- 
text may be made clear by supplying a few intermediate thoughts. 
c True, we have no right to expect this, much less to demand it. 
We have not performed the condition of thy covenant ; we have 
not kept thy statutes or observed thy laws ; we have not kept 
judgment or done righteousness.' The national confession here 
begun is nearly co-extensive with the psalm itself. The terms of 
this verse are borrowed, here as well as in Dan. ix. 5, from that 
great model of ecclesiastical and national devotion furnished by 
Solomon, in his prayer at the dedication of the temple, 1 Kings 



PSALM CVI. 63 

viii. 47. Compare Isai. lix. 12. With our fathers, not merely 
like them, but as sharing their responsibility and guilt. Of the 
three verbs used in this confession, the first denotes failure to dis- 
charge one's obligations, the second wilful perversion or distor- 
tion, the third disorderly or turbulent transgression. See above, 
on Ps. i. 1. 

7. Our fathers in Egypt did not understand thy wondrous 
works, they did not remember the abundance of thy mercies, and 
rebelled upon the sea, at the Red Sea. The general confession in 
v. 6 is now followed by a more detailed acknowledgment, begin- 
ning with the exodus from Egypt. The wondrous works of God, 
the things done wonderfully by him, then and there, for the deli- 
verance of his people, the great body of them did not understand. 
Even those who referred them to their true source and author, did 
not fully appreciate the end for which they were performed, or 
enter into the majestic plan, in executing which they were per- 
mitted bo be God's co-workers. The truth of this charge is abun- 
dantly established by the narrow, grovelling, selfish views and 
feelings so repeatedly betrayed by the generation which came out 
of Egypt, showing clearly that they did not practically understand 
God's dealings with them. This is probably the idea meant to be 
conveyed by the Hebrew verb, which usually means to act wisely, 
but is here modified by governing a noun directly. See above, on 
Ps. ii. 10. xiv. 2. The two-fold local designation, on the sea, at 
t/ie Red Sea, was probably suggested by the parallelism in Ex. 
xv. 4. The variation of the particle seems merely a poetical 
embellishment ; the difference in meaning is no greater than in 
our on and at. The Sea of Sea-weed was the name given by the 
Hebrews and Egyptians to that bay or gulf of the Indian Ocean, 
which was called the Red Sea by the Greek geographers. 

S. And he saved them for his name's sake, to make known his 
might. This is an answer to a tacit objection, namely, that their 



64 PSALM CVI. 

conduct had been sanctioned by God's saving them. True, he 
did save them, because they were necessary to his purpose. He 
saved them not for their sake but his own, to accomplish his own 
ends, and exhibit his own power. 

9. And he rebuked the Red Sea and it dried up, and he made 
them go through the deeps like the desert. This is merely a specifi- 
cation of the general statement in the preceding verse. The 
divine intervention here commemorated was the more remarkable 
because it took place on the very spot where they first rebelled, 
as mentioned in v. 7. Though they disobeyed him at the Red 
Sea, he nevertheless dried the Red Sea, i. e. as much of it as was 
required to furnish them a passage. Rebuked, as in Ps. civ. 7. 
Like the desert, as in the desert, i. e. in a level and extensive 
plain, without obstruction or unevenness. See my note on Isai. 
Ixiii. 13, where the same comparison is used. 

10. And he saved them from the hand of the hater, and redeemed 
them from the hand of the enemy. Both epithets are intended to 
apply to Pharaoh, not only as a personal oppressor of the Israel- 
ites, but as the representative of Egypt, all of which now feared 
and hated the occasion of its multiplied and aggravated sufferings. 

11. And the waters covered their adversaries ; not one of them was 
left. The Psalmist dwells upon the completeness of the overthrow 
and destruction experienced by Pharaoh and his host, in order to 
aggravate the previous and subsequent ingratitude of Israel, as 
well as to enhance the free grace of Jehovah, and the fidelity 
with which he executed his engagements, even to the faithless. 

12. And they believe his words, they sing his praise. Then (and 
' not till then) do they believe. This is not an encomium on their 

faith, but a confession of their unbelief. It was not till the pro- 



PSALM CV'I. 65 

hrise was fulfilled that they believed it. With the first clause 
compare Ex. xiv. 31 ; with the second, Ex. xv. 1. 

13. They made haste, they forgot his deeds, they did not wait for 
his counsel. Their propensity to evil was so strong, that they are 
said to have hastened to forget what God had done for them, which 
means much more than that they soon forgot it. They did not 
even wait for the promise to be verified by the event. The ex- 
pression in the first clause is borrowed from Ex. xxxii. 8. The 
works or deeds of God are not in this case, as in Ps. ciii. 22. civ. 
24, the works of nature, but the plagues of Egypt. See Deut. 
xi. 3, and compare Dan. ix. 4. 

14. And they lusted a lust in the wilderness and tempted God in 
the desert. The confession now passes from their sins in Egypt 
to their sins in the wilderness. The strong expression in the first 
clause relates to their wanton craving of animal food. See Num. 
xi. 4, 34. With the last clause compare Ps. lxxviii. IS. The 
two words for wilderness and desert are the same as those in Ps. 
lxxviii. 40. See also Ps. Ixviii. 8 (7.) 

15. And he gave them their request and sent {them) leanness in 
their soul. The last phrase is by some translated against, by 
others into their soul ; but it is really a qualifying phrase, de- 
signed to show that the emaciation or. decay which was sent upon 
them was not bodily but spiritual. See Num. xi. 18, and com- 
pare Ps. lxxviii. 10, 18. 

16. And they were envious at Moses in the camp, at Aaron, the 
Holy One of Jehovah. This is another of their wilderness sins. 
See Num. chap. xvi. x\aron is not called the Saint of the Lord 
in reference to his personal holiness, which does not' seem to have 
been eminent, but his Holy (or Consecrated) One, in reference to 
his sacerdotal dignity. 



C6 PSALM CVI. 

17. (Then) opens the earth and swallows Dathan, and coven 
over the company of Abiram. This relates to the destruction of 
those followers of Korah who were not Levites. See Num. xvi. 
32, 33, and compare Deut. xi. 6. From the first of these passages 
some interpreters supply her mouth after opens ; but the absolute 
use of the verb is perfectly consistent with our idiom. 

IS. And a fire devours their company, a flame consumes (those) 
nicked (men.) This relates to the destruction of Korah himself 
and his Levitical followers. See Num. xvi. 35. xxvi. 10. 

19. They make a calf in Horeb, and bow down to a molten 
image. This was a third sin committed in the wilderness. See 
Ex. xxxii. 1 — 6, and compare Ex. xxxiv. 4. The golden calf 
appears to have been an imperfect and diminutive copy of the 
bull Apis, worshipped in Egypt. 

20. And exchange their glory for the likeness of an ox eating 
grass. This must be read in the closest connection with v. 19, 
in order to complete it. Their folly consisted in exchanging the 
true God, whose worship and whose favour was their highest 
honour, for the mere likeness of an irrational brute. Eating 
grass, not in the act, but in the habit, of so doing. Although 
the golden calf at Horeb, and the golden calves at Dan and Beer- 
sheba, were all regarded as representatives of Jehovah himself, 
their worship was uniformly treated as idolatry, and as a virtual 
though not a formal or avowed renunciation of his service. Com- 
pare Jcr. ii. 10 — 13. 

21. They forgot God that saved them, that did great (things) 
in Egypt. That saved, that did ; literally, saving, doing. 

22. Wonderful ("things) in the land of Ham, terrible (things) 
on the Red Sea. ^Yonderful, literally, (things J made wonderful 



PSALM CVI. G7 

or strangely done Terrible, literally, to be dreaded. Compare 
Ps. cv. 23, 27. 

23. And 'he saia he ivould destroy them — unless Moses his elect 
had stood in the breach before him, to turn back his wrath from 
destroying. The first and last verbs are different in Hebrew, 
but have only one exact equivalent in English. The second 
clause is not a part of what God said, but a historical statement 
of what really prevented the execution o£ his threatening. He 
said he would destroy them, and he would have done so, had not 
Moses, etc. Moses is called the Elect or Chosen of Jehovah, as 
having been selected and set apart to be God's instrument in the 
great work of deliverance and legislation. The plural is elsewhere 
applied to the whole nation as the chosen people. See above, v. 
5, and Ps. cv. 43. Stood in the breach is a military figure, drawn 
from the desperate defence of a beseiged town or fortress. Com- 
pare Jer. xv. i. Ez. xiii. 5. xxii. 30. The historical reference is 
to Ex. xxxii. 11 — 14. Deut. ix. 18, 19. To turn back his wrath 
is to prevent its accomplishing its object. See above, on Ps. 
Ixxviii. 38, and compare Num. xxv. 11. 

24. And they rejected the pleasant land, they did not believe his 
word. This refers to the refusal of the people to invade the land 
of Canaan in the first year of their exodus from Egypt, and to 
their believing the report of the ten spies in preference to God 
himself. See above, on Ps. Ixxviii. 22, 32, and compare Num. 
xiv. 31. The land of desire, the desired or desirable land, is a 
name also found in Jer. iii. 19. 

25. And they murmured in their tents ; they did not hearken to 
the voice of Jehovah. The form of expression in the first clause 
is borrowed from Deut. i. 2~ ; in the second from Num. xiv. 22. 

26. And he lifted his hand to them, to make them fall in the wiU 



63 PSALM CVT. 

derness. The first phrase does not mean, he raised his hand 
against them, or to strike them, but as the ancient gesture of 
swearing. See Num. xiv. 28, 30. Deut. i. 34. ii. 14. The last 
clause contains the oath itself, or what he swore, to wit, that he 
would make them fall, slay them, in the wilderness. See Num. 
xiv. 29, 32. 

27. And to make their seed fall in the nations, and to scatter 
them in the lands. As the appointed punishment of the older 
generation was to die in the wilderness, so that of their descend- 
ants was to die in dispersion and captivity among the Gentiles. 
See Lev. xxvi. 33, 38, and compare Deut. xxviii. 32, 36, 64, 68. 
The recollection of this threatening must have been peculiarly 
affecting to the Jews in Babylon. 

28. And they joined themselves to Baal Peor, and ate the sacri- 
fices of the, dead. He now adds a sin committed near the end of 
the long error, and on the very borders of the Promised Land. 
The first verb is properly passive, they were joined, but this 
of course does not mean by others but themselves, and thus the 
simple passive comes to have a reflexive meaning. Baal Peor is 
the name given to Baal, or the supreme God of the Tyrians 
and Moabites, as he was worshipped, with licentious rites, at 
Peor, a mountain in the land of Moab. See Num. xxv. 1 — 3. 
The dead, not dead men, in allusion to necromantic superstitions, 
but the dumb or lifeless gods whom they worshipped. See below, 
on Ps. cxv. 4 — 7, and compare 1 Cor. xii. 2. 

29. And they provoked him by their crimes, and the plague 
broke out among them. The first verb means to excite both grief 
and indignation. Compare the use of the cognate noun in Ps. 
vi. 8 (7), and of the verb itself in Ps. lxxviii. 58. The word trans- 
lated plague, like its English equivalent, has both a generic and 
specific meaning ; that of a divine stroke or infliction in general, 



PSALM CVI 



69 



and that of a pestilential disease in particular. See Num. xxv. 
18, 19. 

30. Then stood up Phinehas and judged, and (so) was stayed 
the plague. He stood (or rose) up from among the rest, pre- 
sented himself before the people. He judged i. e. assumed the 
office and discharged the duty, from which the regular official 
judges seemed to shrink. The verb includes the act both of pro- 
nouncing and of executing judgment. See the narrative in Num. 
ch. xxv. The form of expression in the last clause is borrowed 
from Num. xvii. 13 (xvi. 48.) 

31. And it was reckoned to him for righteousness, to generation 
and generation, even to eternity. The form of expression is bor- 
rowed from Gen. xv. 6 ; but what is here meant is evidently not 
a justifying act by which Phinehas was saved, but a praiseworthy 
act for which he, a justified or righteous man already, received 
the divine commendation and a perpetual memorial of his faith- 
fulness. Compare Deut. vi. 25. xxiv. 13. The particular reward 
promised (Num. xxv. 13), that of a perpetual priesthood, is not 
here mentioned, but was familiar to the mind of every Hebrew 
reader. 

32. And they angered (him) at the waters of Strife, and it went 
ill icith Moses, on their account. See above, on Ps. lxxxi. 8 (7) 
xcv. 8. xcix. S. The Hebrew word for strife is the name given to 
the place, Meribah. The object of the first verb is Jehovah, as 
in v. 29. It went ill with Moses, or, more literally, it was bad 
for Moses. 

33. For they resisted his spirit, and he spake unadvisedly with 
his lips. His spirit may grammatically signify either that of God 
or that of Moses : The latest writers are in favour of the first 
construction, which is not without analogies in other parts of 



70- PSALM CVI. 

Scripture (Isai. lxiii. 10. Eph. iv. 30) , but the other seems 
entitled to the preference in this connection, because the first 
clause then contains the ground or reason of the other. It was 
because the mind of Moses was excited by their opposition, that 
he spake unadvisedly with his lips. The last verb is one used in 
the law to denote a precipitate inconsiderate engagement, Lev. v. 4. 

34. They did not destroy the nations which the Lord said to 
them. The confession now passes from the sins of the wilderness 
to those of Canaan. The neglect to destroy the Canaanites com- 
pletely was not only a direct violatiom of God's precept, but the 
source of nearly all the public evils that ensued. There is no 
need of giving to the last verb a rare and dubious sense {com- 
manded.) The meaning of the clause is, which Jehovah said to 
them (must be destroyed.) 

35. And they mixed themselves with the nations and learned 
their doings. The reflexive verb at the beginning indicates an 
active and deliberate amalgamation, as distinguished from a pas- 
sive and involuntary one. The nations of the Canaanites, and 
those which inhabited surrounding countries. The primary idea 
is not that of gentiles or heathen, in the religious sense. Learned 
their doings or practices, learned to do as they did. With the 
first clause compare Jos. xxiii. 12, 13. Judg. iii. 6 ; with the 
second, Dcut. xviii. 9. xx. IS. 



L 5 



36. And served their idols, and they were to tJiem for a snare. 
The word translated idols, by its etymological affinities, suggests 
the idea of vexations, pains. See above, on Ps. xvi. 4. A snare, 
i. e. a temptation to idolatry. Compare Deut. vii. 16. 

37. And they sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the 
demons. This last is the Septuagint version and, if not directly 
sanctioned, is at least referred to in the New Testament (1 Cor. 



PSALM CVI. 71 

x.20.) That the worship of idols was connected with that of 
fallen spirits, is neither improbable in itself nor contradictory to 
Scripture. According to the modern etymologists, the Hebrew 
word means lords or masters, and is a poetical equivalent to 
Baalim, which means the same thing. Compare Deut. xxxii. 17, 
and the xigioi f 1 Cor. viii. 5. The word translated devils in 
Lev. 17. 7 is entirely different. 

38. And they shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and 
daughters, whkh they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; and de- 
filed was the land with bloods. The first verb means to pour out 
and here implies a copious or abundant bloodshed, corresponding 
to the next verb, which is an intensive form of that used in v. 37. 
Blood, in the singular, is used in a physical sense ; the plural 
bloods in a moral one, always implying guilt, and especially the 
guilt of murder. See above, on Ps. v. 7 (6.) xxvi. 9. li. 16 (14.) 
lv. 24 (23.) The first three members of the sentence have re- 
spect to the prohibitions in Deut. xii. 31. xviii. 10. xix. 10. With 
the last clause compare Num. xxxv. 33. 

39. And they were polluted by their oxen doings, and went 
a tehoring by their own crimes. They defiled not only the land 
of promise but themselves. Or rather, this verse is explanatory 
of the last clause of v. 38, and shows that the pollution of the 
land was nothing more nor less than that of its inhabitants. The 
figure of spiritual whoredom or adultery is often used to signify 
the violation, by the chosen people, of their covenant with God, 
which is constantly described as a conjugal relation. See above, 
on Ps. xlv and compare Ps. lxxiii. 27. This is not stated as 
an additional offence but as an aggravating circumstance attending 
the iniquities already mentioned. 

40. And the anger of Jehovah was enkindled at his people, and 
he abhorred his heritage. This is the strongest form in which his 



72 PSALM CVI. 

detestation of their sins could be expressed, but does not neces- 
sarily imply the abrogation of his covenant with them. The 
feeling described is like that of a parent towards his wicked chil- 
dren, or of husbands and wives, who do not cease to love each 
other, though grieved and indignant at each other's sins. The 
word heritage adds great point to the sentence. He abhorred the 
very people whom he had chosen to be his, not merely for a sin- 
gle generation, but for many. See above, on Ps. lxxviii. 59, 62. 

41. And he gave them into the hand of nations, and over them 
ruled their haters. The same nations whom they had rebelliously 
spared, with others of like spirit — the same nations who had led 
them into sin — were used as instruments of punishment. Com- 
pare Lev. xxvi. 17. Judges ii. 14. 

42. And their enemies oppressed them, and they were lowed 
down under their hand. They not only governed them, but 
governed them tyrannically, so that they were not only under 
coercion and constraint, but humbled and degraded from the rank 
of an independent state to that of tributaries and bondsmen. With 
the terms of this verse compare Judg. i. 34. iii. 30. iv. 3. viii. 2S. 

43. Many times he frees them, and they resist (him) by their 
counsel, and are brought low by their guilt. Having given in the 
preceding verses a brief but lively summary of the Book of 
Judges, the Psalmist now passes, by an almost insensible transi- 
tion, to the later periods of the history, and indeed to its catas- 
trophe ; for the meaning of the last clause seems to be, that after 
all their fluctuations, they at length sink or fall into a ruinous 
condition, as the ultimate fruit of their rebellions. The meaning 
of the first clause is, that by their self-willed plans and projects 
they continually come into collision with the will of God, and 
with that great providential purpose, in promoting which it was 



PSALM CVI. 73 

their duty, and would have been their happiness, to co-cperate. 
With the last clause compare Lev. xxvi. 39. Ezek. xxxiii. 10. 

44. And he has looked at their distress when he heard them cry 
The idiomatic form of the original may thus be represented by a 
bald translation, and he saio in the distress to them in his hearing 
their cry. As this follows the brief statement of their downfall, 
there is much probability in the opinion, that it relates to the 
" tokens for good," which were granted to the exiled Jews in 
Babylon long before their actual restoration. With the first clause 
compare Ex. ii. 25. iv. 31. Deut. iv. 30. Ps. xviii. 7. cii. 3. 

45. And he has remembered for them his covenant, and repented 
according to the abundance of his mercy. For them, i. e. in their 
favour, for their benefit. It does not qualify covenant, but re- 
membered. With the first clause compare Lev. xxvi. 42, 45. Ps. 
cv. 8, 42 ; with the second, Num. xiv. 19. Ps. v. 8 (7.) lxix. 14 
(13.) Neh. xiii. 22. The common version of the last word {mercies) 
rests upon the marginal or masoretic reading ; the more ancient 
text is mercy. 

46. And has given them favour before all their captors. The 
literal translation of the first clause is, and has given them for 
mercies or compassions. This remarkable expression is borrowed 
from 1 Kings viii. 50 (compare 2 Chr. xxx. 9), not only here but 
in the history of Daniel and his fellow-captives (Dan. i. 9), which 
makes it not at all improbable, that what is there recorded is 
among the indications of returning divine favour here referred to 
by the Psalmist. 

47. Save us, Jehovah, our God, and gather us from the nations, 
to give thanks unto thy holy name, to glory in thy praise. Encour- 
aged by these tokens of returning favour, the church prays that 
the hopes thus raised may not be disappointed, but abundantly 

vol. in. 4 



74 PSALM CVJ. 

fulfilled in the restoration of the exiles to their own land, in return for 
which she indirectly engages to render praise and thanksgiving to 
Jehovah as her liberator. We are thus brought back to the be- 
ginning of the psalm, and the voice of confession is again lost in 
that of anticipated praise. Instead of our God, the parallel pas- 
sage (1 Chr. xvi. 36) has God of our Salvation. The word trans- 
lated glory occurs only in that passage and the one before us. It 
is synonymous, however, with the one used in Ps. cv. 3, and often 
elsewhere, both meaning properly to praise one's self. With the 
second clause compare Ps. xxx. 5 (4.) 

48. Blessed (be) Jehovah, God of Israel, from eternity even to 
eternity. And all the people says Amen. Hallelujah! Some inter- 
preters regard the psalm as closing with the preceding verse, and 
the one before us as a doxology added to mark the conclusion of 
the Fourth Book. But here, as in Ps. lxxii. 19, it is far more 
probable that this doxology was the occasion of the psalm's being 
reckoned as the last of a Book, notwithstanding its intimate con- 
nection with the one that follows. This probability is strength- 
ened, in the case before us, by the addition of the words, and all 
the people says Amen, which would be unmeaning, unless the 
doxology formed part of the psalm itself. The additional words 
are borrowed from Deut. xxvii. 15 — 26. The parallel passage 
(1 Chr. xvi. 36) has, And all the people said Amen and give praise 
(or gave praise) to Jehovah, which last words are represented, in 
the verse before us, by the Hallelujah (Praise ye Jah!) 



PSALM CVII. 75 



PSALM C V 1 1 . 

After propounding as his theme the goodness of God in deli- 
vering his people, and especially in bringing them back from their 
dispersions, vs. 1 — 3, the Psalmist celebrates this great event, 
under the various figures of safe conduct through a desert and 
arrival in a populous' city, vs. 4 — 9 ; emancipation Yrom imprison- 
ment, vs. 10 — 16; recovery from deadly sickness, vs. 17 — 22; 
deliverance from the dangers of the sea, vs. 23 — 32 ; then de- 
scribes, in more direct terms, the fall of the oppressor, the restora- 
tion of Israel, and his happy prospects, vs. 33 — 42 ; ending, as 
he began, with an earnest exhortation to remember and comme- 
morate Jehovah's goodness, v. 43. The psalm is so constructed 
as to admit of being readily applied, either literally or figuratively, 
to various emergencies ; but its primary reference to the return 
from exile seems to be determined by vs. 2, 3. According to 
Hengstenberg's hypothesis, this psalm was added to the double 
trilogy by which it is preceded (Ps. 101 — 106), immediately after 
the return from exile, when the holy city was re-peopled, and the 
first harvest had been gathered, but the rebuilding of the temple 
had not yet begun. The whole seven then compose one series or 
system, intended to be used together in the public worship of the 
ancient church. 

1. Give thanks unto Jehovah, for he (is) good, for unto eternity 
(is) his mercy. The repetition of the first words of the foregoing 
psalm, as the beginning of the one before us, strongly favours the 



76 PSALM CVII. 

opinion, that the latter was designed to be a hind of supplement 
or appendix to the former. 

2. (So) say the Redeemed of Jehovah, whom he has redeemed 
from the hand of distress (or of the enemy.) What they are to say 
is not the exhortation in the first clause, but the reason for it in 
the last clause, of the foregoing verse. Let them acknowledge his 
unceasing mercy, who have just experienced so remarkable a 
proof of it. The ambiguous word (^2) should probably be taken in 
the same sense which it elsewhere has throughout this psalm. 
See below, vs. 6, 13, 19, 28, and compare Ps. cvi. 44. Indeed 
the two senses may be reconciled by simply supposing the distress 
to be personified. Compare the unambiguous expression in Ps. 
cvi. 10. Ike* Redeemed of the Lord is a favourite expression of 
Isaiah (xxxv. 9, 10. lxii. 12. lxiii. 3.) 

3. And from the lands has gathered them, from the east and 
from the west, from the north and from the sea. The Babylonish 
exile is continually spoken of as a dispersion, either because it is 
considered as including other minor deportations, or because the 
migration of the great mass of the people into Babylonia was un- 
avoidably accompanied, followed, or preceded, by a less extensive 
and more scattering migration of many individuals and families to 
other quarters. On the false assumption of a perfect parallelism 
as indispensable, some have supposed that sea is here put for the 
south. But this is not the only case in which the enumeration of 
the cardinal points is complete only in number. See Isai. xlix. 12, 
and compare Isai. xliii. 5, 6. lvi. 8. The mention of the sea in- 
stead of the south may perhaps have reference to the prophecy in 
Deut. xxviii. 68. The verse before us records the answer to the 
prayer in Ps. cvi. 47 and thus affords another indication, that the 
writer of the later composition had the earlier in his eye., and 
wrote with some intention to illustrate or complete it. 



PSALM CVII. 77 

4. They wandered in the wilderness, in a desert amy ; a city of 
habitation found they not. Here begins the first metaphorical 
account of the Captivity and Restoration, in which the exiles are 
described as wanderers in a desert way, i. e. as some suppose a 
pathless desert, which sense, however, can scarcely be extracted 
from the Hebrew words. Others understand the phrase to mean 
a way, i. e. a course, a region to be traversed, which is desert ; 
but this supposes way to be the subject and desert the qualifying 
term, as they would be in English, but in Hebrew the precise 
sense is a desert of way, or a way-desert, which some interpreters 
explain to mean a desert in reference to its ways' or paths, thus 
arriving, by a different course, at the meaning first suggested, 
namely, that of a pathless wilderness. City of habitation may 
mean a habitable or inhabited city in general, or a city for them 
to inhabit in particular. The latter is more probable, because the 
word translated habitation is not an abstract but a local noun, 
meaning the place where men sit or dwell, according to the pri 
mary and secondary meaning of the verbal root. See above, on 
Ps. i. 1. It may here be either governed by city, as above, or in 
apposition with it, a city, a dwelling-place, i. e. a city in which 
they might dwell. There is obvious allusion to Jerusalem, as 
well as to the great Arabian wilderness, although the contrast of 
the city and the desert suggests the idea of suffering and relief, by 
a natural as well as a historical association. See Ez. xxix. 5, and 
compare Job xii. 24. 

5. Hungry — also thirsty — their soul in them shrouds itself. 
This verse continues the description of the wanderers in the 
desert. To avoid the ambiguity of an exact version, in which 
hungry and thirsty might seem to agree with soul, the substantive 
verb may be supplied in the first clause, {they are) hungry, also 
thirsty. The primary sense of the reflexive verb at the end of the 
sentence seems to be that of covering one's self with darkness, or 
sinking overwhelmed beneath some great calamity. See above, 



7S PSALM CVII. 

on Ps. lxxvii. 4 (3), and compare the cognate forms in Ps. lxi. 3 
(2.) lxv. 14 (13.) cii. i. Isai. lvii. 16. 

6. And they cried to Jehovah in their distress ; from their straits 
he frees them. Both the nouns, according to their etymology, 
convey the idea of pressure, compression, painful restraint. In 
their distress, literally, in the distress to them, that which they had 
or suffered. See above, on Ps. cvi. 44, and compare Deut. iv. 30. 
The change from the past tense to the future seems intended 
merely to describe the act denoted by the second as more recent 

7. And he led them in a straight course, to go to a city of habi 
tation. No exact version can preserve or imitate the paronomasia 
arising from the etymological affinity of the first verb and noun, 
analogous to that between the English walk and to walk, though 
the Hebrew forms are only similar and not identical. The idea 
of physical rectitude or straightness necessarily suggests that of 
moral rectitude or honesty, commonly denoted by the Hebrew 
word. 

8. Let (such) give thanks to Jehovah (far) his mercy, and his 
wonderful works to the sons of man. Some interpreters make 
this the close of a long sentence, beginning with v. 4, and adopt, 
in all the intervening verses, a relative construction, as if he had 
said, let such as wandered in the wilderness, whose soul fainted in 
them, who cried unto the Lord, whom he led etc. let such give 
thanks unto his name. But although this is certainly the logical 
connection of the passage, its involution and complexity of form 
are as far as possible removed from the simplicity of Hebrew 
syntax, which prefers a distinct enunciation of particulars to all 
such artificial combinations. This verse constitutes the burden or 
chorus of the psalm. 

9. For he has satisfied ihe craving soul, and the hungry soul 



PSALM CVII. 79 

has filled with good. This is merely the conclusion of the first 
scene or picture, with a change of figure hut a very slight one, 
as tho want of food is one of the most painful and familiar 
hardships of a journey through a desert, and as such would 
necessarily occur to every Israelite who knew the story of the 
error in the wilderness. The first verb has the same sense as in 
Ps. civ. 13 ; the last noun the same sense as in Ps. ciii. 4. civ. 28. 
The unusual word translated craving is borrowed from Isai. xxix. 8. 

10. Dwelling in darkness and deathshade, bound in affliction 
and iron. Here begins the second picture which exhibits the 
same sufferers, no longer as wanderers in the desert, but as closely 
confined prisoners. The darkness primarily meant is that of the 
dungeon, but not without reference to the frequent use of dark- 
ness in general as an emblem of misery. See above, on Ps. lxviii. 
7(6.) The idea of darkness is then expressed in a still stronger 
form by the striking compound deathshade or shadow of death, a 
bold but beautiful description of the most profound obscurity. 
See above, on Ps. xxiii. 4. The leading words of the two clauses 
might, in one respect, be more exactly rendered, inhabitants of 
darkness , prisoners of affliction. See above, on Ps. lxxviii. 61. 
There is no mixture of literal and figurative terms in the last 
clause, but only the addition of a specific to a general term. 
The affliction particularly meant is that produced by iron, i. e. 
chains or fetters. See above, on Ps. cv. 18, and with the verse 
before us compare Isai. xlii. 7. xlix. 9. Job xxxvi. 8. Luke xhi. 
16. 

1 1 . Because they resisted the words of the Mightiest, and the 
counsel of the Highest contemned. This verse introduces what 
was wanting in the first scene, the fact that these were not inno- 
cent sufferers. However cruel or unjust their sufferings at the 
hands of men, they were but condign punishments as sent by God. 
This is a point of contact and resemblance with the preceding 



80 PSALM CVII. 

psalm, which is not without importance. Resisted, rebelled against, 
a favourite expression in these psalms. Sec above, on Ps. cv. 28. 
cvi. 7, 33, 43. Words or sayings, commonly applied to promises, 
and even here combining that idea with the sense of command, 
because the command which they resisted or rebelled against had 
reference to the plan or counsel of the Lord for the deliverance of 
his people. The word translated mightiest is (;&) one of the divine 
names, here represented by an English superlative, in order to 
preserve the antithesis with Most High in the other clause. 

12. And he brought doicn, with trouble, their heart; they 
stumbled and there was no helper. The remedial design and 
effect of their punishment are beautifully set forth in the first 
clause. The word translated trouble means originally work or 
labour, then the pain attending it or flowing from it. Stumbled 
may here be put for fell, or have the milder sense of tottering or 
stumbling, as distinguished from a total fall. No helper, or no?ie 
helping, 'except God, as intimated in the next verse ; or against 
God, when he chose to punish them. 

13. And they cried to Jehovah in their distress; out of tlidr 
straits he saves them. An exact repetition of v. 6, except that the 
first verb is exchanged for a cognate one, differing only in a single 
letter, and the last verb for a synonyme still more familiar. As 
to the consecution of the tenses, see above, on v. 6. 

14. He brings them out from darkness and deathshade, and 
their bonds he severs. The terms used in describing the deliver* 
ance are studiously made to correspond with the account of tho 
captivity in v. 10. It is more remarkable, though possibly for- 
tuitous, that the words of the second clause are the same which 
David puts into the mouth of the revolted nations, Ps. ii. 3. The 
English word severs is here used instead of breaks, in order to re- 
present the more uncommon and poetical term used in Hebrew. 



PSALM CVII. gl 

15, 16. Let (such) give thanks unto Jehovah {for) his mercy, 
and his wonderful works to the sons of man, because he has broken 
doors of brass, and bars of iron has cut asunder. The burden 
m v. 15 is in all respects identical with v. 8, but the supplemen- 
tary verse differs, according to the prominent figures in the two 
scenes or pictures. As the idea of famine was selected, in v. 9, 
from among the hardships of the wilderness, so here the fastenings 
of the prison are presented in precisely the same manner. In 
this striking regularity of form, combined with vividness and beauty 
of conception, there is evidence of art and skill as well as genius. 
The verb in the first clause of v. 16 is an intensive form of the 
verb to break, and might here be rendered shattered, shivered, or the 
like. The corresponding verb in the last clause is a similar in- 
tensive of the verb to cut. The whole verse is copied from Isai 
xlv. 2, where we find the promise, of which this is the fulfilment 

17. Fools by their course of transgression, and by their crimes, 
afflict themselves. Here begins the third scene or picture, at the 
very opening of which the charge of folly is added to the previous 
one of guilt. The reflexive meaning of the verb is essential and 
cannot be diluted into a mere passive, without weakening the 
whole sentence, the very point of which consists in making them 
the guilty authors of their own distresses. The word for trans- 
gression is the one that originally means revolt from God, 
apostasy. See above, on Ps. xxxvi. 2 (1.) Course, literally, 
way or path. By, literally, from, as when we speak of an effect 
as arising or proceeding from a cause. 

18. All food their soul abhors, and they draw near to the very 

gates of death. This verse abruptly brings before us the same 

persons whom we lately beheld wandering in the desert, and then 

chained in a dark dungeon, now suffering from disease, such as 

not only mars their pleasures, but threatens to abbreviate their 

lives. Compare Ps. cii. 3. Job xxxiii. 20. The expression very 

4* 



§2 PSALM CVII. 

gates, in the translation of the last clause, is intended to convey 
the full force of the Hebrew preposition p2) which is stronger 
than (:a) to. See above, on Ps. lvii. 11 (10.) With the last 
clause compare Ps. ix. 14. lxxxviii. 4 (3.) Job. xxxiii. 22. Isai. 
xxxviii. 9. 

• 19. And they cry to Jehovah in their distress ; out of their 
straits he saves them. See above on vs. 6, 13, with the last of 
which this agrees exactly. 

20. He sends his word and heals them, and males them escape 
from their destructions, i. e. those which threatened them, and 
from which escape appeared impossible. Tic sends his word, he 
issues his command, exerts his sovereign power and authority. 
The last word in the Hebrew occurs only here and once in 
Lamentations (iv. 20.) The modern interpreters have pits or 
graves ; but such a derivation from the verbal root is without 
example or analogy. See above, on Ps. xvi. 10- With the first 
clause compare Ps. xxx. 3 (2.) xxxiii. 9. Isai. lvii. IS ; with the 
last Ps. ciii. 4. 

21, 22. Let (such) give thanks unto Jehovah (for) his mercy, 
and his wonderful works to the sons of man ; and let them sacri- 
fice sacrifices of thanksgiving, and recount his deeds with (joyful) 
singing. The freedom from technical and artificial rules of 
rhetoric or versification, even in those parts of the composition 
which exhibit most of art and skill, is peculiarly observable in this 
verse, where, instead of adding to the uniform chorus or refrain 
some particular image from the scene just closing, as in vs. 9, 
16, the Psalmist continues and completes the sentence by repeat- 
ing the exhortation to give thanks, in another but still figurative 
form, derived from the musical and sacrificial customs of the 
temple worship. They must not only utter thanks but offer thcin 



PSALM CVII. g3 

in sacrifice. They must not only offer them in sacrifice but sing 
them. With the first clause compare Ps. 1. 14. 

23. Going down the sea in ships, doing business in the many 
waters. Here again the scene is shifted, and the exiles pass 
before us, not as wanderers in the desert, or as captives in the 
dungeon, or as suffering from sickness, but as mariners engaged 
in an adventurous voyage. Descending, going down, seems to be 
an idiomatic phrase, borrowed from Isai. xlii. 10, and equivalent 
to going out to sea in English. The expression may have refer- 
ence to the general elevation of the land above the water (see 
above, on Ps. xxiv. 2), but is directly opposite to our phrase, tf& 
high seas, and to the classical usage of ascending ships, i. e. em- 
barking, and descending, i. e. landing. Doing business has its 
ordinary sense, as applied to trade or traffic. The last words 
may also be translated great or mighty waters ; but the usage of 
the Psalms is in favour of the version many waters, which more- 
over forms a beautiful poetical equivalent to sea or ocean. This 
image could not fail to suggest, however indirectly, the idea of 
the world with its commotions, of which the constant emblem is 
the sea. See above, on Ps. xlvi. 4 (3.) lxv. 8 (7.)lxxxix. 10 (9.) 
xciii. 3, 4, and compare Matt. viii. 23 — 26. Mark iv. 36 — 41. 
Luke viii. 22 — 25. 

24. They saw the works of Jehovah, and his wonders in the deep. 
The pronoun at the beginning is emphatic, (it is) they (that) see 
(or saiv) the works of the Lord, as if others could lay claim to 
no such privilege or honour. Both the senses of the phrase Godh 
works are appropriate in this connection, his works of creation 
and his works of providence. The last word is another poetical 
equivalent to sea or ocean. See above, on Ps. lxix. 3 (2.) 

25. And he said — and there arose a stormy wind, and it lifted 
up his leaves. He now parenthetically specifies some of the divine 



84 PSALM CVII. 

works which he had just mentioned in the general. The form of 
expression at the beginning, as in all like cases, involves an allu- 
sion to the history of the creation, where each creative act is pre- 
ceded by God's saying, let it be. So here, the full sense is, and 
God said (let a stormy wind arise) and a stormy wind arose. See 
above, on Ps. xxxiii. 9. Arose, literally, stood, stood up ; as in 
Ps. cvi. 30. A stormy wind, literally, a wind of storm or tem- 
pest. Instead of his leaves we may read its leaves, and refer the 
pronoun to the remoter antecedent (sea) in v. 23. Deep, in v. 
24, is of a different gender. It is equally correct, however, and 
more natural, to re*fer it to Jehovah, as the maker of the sea and 
the ruler of its waves. Compare the expression thy leaves and 
thy billows in Ps. xlii. 8. See also Isai. li. 15. Jer. xxxi. 35. 

26. They rise (to) the heavens ; they sink (to) the depths ; their 
soul with evil dissolves itself. That the verbs in the first clause 
relate not to the waves but to the .mariners, is evident from the 
last clause. The words rise and sink are used instead of ascend, 
descend, or go up, go down, because the Hebrew verbs have no 
etymological affinity, nor even a single letter common to their 
roots. The ellipsis of the preposition to is frequent, or rather 
verbs of motion in Hebrew may be construed directly with 
a noun, where our idiom requires the intervention of a par- 
ticle. Evil in the last clause may denote their evil state or 
painful situation, with all the circumstances comprehended in 
it ; or more specifically, their distress and painful feelings. Com- 
pare Gen. xli. 29. The reflexive form of the last verb is not 
essential to the meaning of the sentence, as in v. 17, and may 
therefore be explained as an intensive or emphatic passive, it is 
melted. See above, on Ps. xxii. 15 (14.) With the whole verse 
compare Ps. civ. 8. 

27. They reel and stagger like a drunken (man), and all their 
wisdom is confounded. By wisdom we are here to understand 



PSALM CVII. 85 

reason, common sense, that which makes men rational and raises 
them above the brutes. This is plain from the comparison with 
drunkenness, the only point of which must be the loss of reason. 
The reeling and staggering may relate to the irregular and violent 
motion of a vessel in a storm, or, as the last clause does, to the 
mariners themselves. The last verb literally means is swallowed 
up, or retaining the reflexive form, still more strongly, swallows 
itself up. But see above, on the last word of v. 26. 

28. And they cried to Jehovah in their distress, and out of their 
straits he hrings them forth. The consecution of the tenses cor- 
responds to the relation of the acts which they denote, as viewed 
by a spectator. i Now they have cried to the Lord, and now he 
is bringing them forth.' The verse differs from vs. 13, 19, in 
the first verb, which agrees with v. 6, and in the last verb which 
is unlike both. 

29. He stills the storm to a calm, and silent are their waves. 
This is an amplification of the last phrase in v. 28, and shows 
how it is that he brings them forth. The first verb strictly means 
he makes it stand, but in a sense directly opposite to that of a 
synonymous though different verb in v. 25. Calm, literally, 
silence, stillness. Their waves, the waves from which they suf- 
fer, by which they are buffeted. Compare his waves in v. 25. 

30. And they are glad that they are quiet, and he guides them to 
their desired haven. The connection might be rendered clearer 
by translating with the English Bible, then are they glad^ etc. 
The last word in the verse occurs only here, and is by some 
translated shore, by others goal ; but it is safer to retain the old 
interpretation, which affords a perfectly good sense, and rests 
upon the joint authority of the Rabbinical tradition and the 
Septuagint version. 



86 PSALM CVII. 

31, 32. Let (such) give thanks to Jehovah (for) his mercy, and 
his wonderful works to the sons of man • and let them exalt him in 
the congregation of the people, and in the session of the elders praise 
him. Here again we have a striking instance of variety combined 
with uniformity. The burden or chorus, as in v. 22, is followed 
by a solemn exhortation to connect the required thanksgiving 
with the forms of public worship. But instead of the temple with 
its sacrifices and its chants, the reference in this case, it should 
seem, is to the spiritual worship of the synagogue. The word 
translated congregation is one constantly applied to Israel, as 
actually gathered at the place of worship. See above, on Ps. 
xxii. 23 (22.) The word session is employed in the translation 
of the last clause, not for the sake of a verbal coincidence with 
Presbyterian institutions, a coincidence however which is not to 
be denied, but because it adequately represents the Hebrew 
(--ite) in its double acceptation, as denoting both the act and 
the place of sitting, and especially of sitting together. See 
above, on v. 4. The elders, here as elsewhere, are the heads of 
tribes and families, the hereditary chiefs and representatives of 
Israel. 

33. Tie turns streams into a wilderness, and springs of water 
to a thirsty place. As the shifting of the scene is not renewed in 
the remainder of the psalm, which, on the other hand, if viewed 
as a distinct and independent portion of the poem, mars its 
symmetry of structure, it seems best to regard these verses as 
an episode belonging to the last scene and containing the praises 
of the people and their elders. The figures in this verse are 
often used, particularly by Isaiah, to denote an entire revolution, 
whether physical or moral, social or political. Compare Isai. 
xliv. 26, 27. 1. 2. Jer. 1. 3S. li. 36. It thus prepares the way 
for the subsequent rejoicings in the downfall of Babylon and the 
restoration of the exiled Jews 



PSALM CVII. 87 

34. A fruitful land to saltness, for the wickedness of those diceU 
hng in it. The sentence is continued from the foregoing verse 
the nouns being governed by the verb he turns. The first phrase 
literally means a land of fruit. The next noun may be taken 
either in the abstract sense of saltness or the concrete one of a 
saline soil or region, and by implication barren. For, literally 
from, as in v. 17 above. Compare the threatening in Isai. xiii. 
19, and the great historical type of all such judgments, the de- 
struction of Sodom and Gomorrah. 

35. He turns a desert to a pool of loatcr, and a dry land into 
springs of water. This is the reverse of the description in v. 33, 
to which the terms are studiously conformed. In both cases the 
first verb literally means he sets or puts, and the noun translated 
springs means issues or places where the waters issue. Compare 
Isai. xxxv. 7. xli. 18. xliii. 20. 

36. And has settled there famished {men), awl they have established 
a city to dwell in. There is no need of assuming, that the desert 
thus transformed is Palestine or Canaan. It is better to adhere 
to the general import of the figures, which is change for the bet- 
ter. Settled, literally, caused to dwell. The primary meanino- 
of the last clause is that those once homeless have a home ; but 
there is of course a reference to the repossession and rebuilding 
of Jerusalem. The last phrase in Hebrew is the same with that 
translated city of habitation in v. 4. 

37. And have soioed fields, and planted vineyards, and made 
fruits of increase. The form of all these verbs requires them to 
be understood, like those of v. 36, as referring to time actually 
past, from which some have inferred that the date of the psalm 
itself lay between the first ingathering of the fruits by the returned 
Jews and the founding of the temple, to which there is here no 
allusion. The word translated increase is applied elsewhere to 



88 PSALM C VI I. 

the annual productions of the earth. See Lev. xxv. 16. To matte, 
these is to gain or acquire them by cultivation, as we speak of 
making money, hut of raising corn. See above, on Ps. lx. 14 
(12.)' 

38. And he has blessed them, and they have increased greatly, 
and (even) their cattle he does not diminish. Increased, not in 
numbers merely, but in wealth, strength, and prosperity. See 
Deut. xxx. 16. The verb to diminish is borrowed from Lev. 
xxvi. 22. The negation may be understood as a mciosis, meaning to 
increase or multiply. The whole of this description agrees well 
with the encouraging appearances, by which the Restoration was 
attended and immediately followed, before the colony experienced 
reverses or had lost the fresh impression of their recent sufferings 
and privations, which are mentioned in the next verse. 

39. And they were diminished and brought low, from oppression, 
suffering, and grief. The only grammatical construction of the 
verbs is that which refers them to a former time, i. e. to the con- 
dition of the people under Babylonian oppression. The sense is 
therefore quite mistaken in the English, though correctly given in 
the ancient versions. The contrast is intended to enhance the 
joy and thankfulness of the restored exiles. These, now so pros- 
perous, are the very men who lately were in abject misery. 

40. Pouring contempt on princes — and he has made them wan- 
der in a waste (where there is) no way. From the exiles he 
reverts to their Deliverer, and describes him as spurning the most 
lordly of their persecutors — nay as making them take the place 
of those whom they oppressed, which idea is conveyed by the 
figure before used of wanderers in a pathless desert. See above, 
on v. 4, and compare Job. xii. 21, 24. The word for waste or 
void is one of those used in Gen. i. 2, to describe the original con- 
dition of the earth. 



PSALM CVIII. 



S9 



41 . And has raised the poor from affliction, and made like a flock 
families. The first verb suggests the two-fold idea of elevation 
from a wretched state, and security from future danger. For its 
ordinary sense, see above, on Ps. xx. 2 (1.) xci. 14. The last 
clause simply means, he has increased the people who were so 
reduced in strength and numbers. 

42. The righteous shall see and rejoice, and all iniquity stop her 
mouth. The righteous are the true Israel, as in Ps. xxxiii. 1. 
Num. xxiii. 10. Dan. xi. 17. With the last clause compare Job 
v. 16. Isai Hi. 15. 

43. Who (is) wise and will observe these things, and attentively 
consider the mercies of Jehovah ? The change of number in the 
Hebrew does not affect the meaning. Whoever is wise will ob- 
serve these things, and all who are wise will consider them. 
With this conclusion compare Hos. xiv. 10. Isai. xlii. 23. Jer. ix. 
11. 



PSALM CVIII. 

1. A Song. A Psalm. By David. This is not an original 
or independent composition, but a compilation from two other 
psalms, which have already been explained. The introduction, 
vs. 2 — 6 (1 — 5) is substantially identical with Ps. lvii. 8 — 12 
(7—11) ; the body of the psalm, vs. 7—13 (6—12), with Ps. 
Ix. 7 — 14 (5 — 12.) The supposition of erroneous copies, or of 
later corruptions, is still more improbable in this case than in 
those of Ps. xviii, liii, lxx. The best solution which has been 



90 PSALM CVIII. 

proposed is, that David himself combined these passages to be 
the basis of a trilogy (Ps. cviii — ex), adapted to the use of the 
church at a period posterior to the date of Ps. lvii. and lx. The 
comments here will .be confined to the variations, as in Ps. liii 
and lxx. 



2 (1.) Fixed is my heart , oh God, fixed is my heart ; I will 
sing and play — also my glory. See above, on Ps. lvii. 8 (7.) 
The words here added, also my glory , correspond to the first 
clause of the next verse in that psalm, awake my glory ! 

3 (2.) Awake lute and harp ! I toill awaken the dawn (or 
morning.) See above, on Ps. lvii. 9 (8.) The only variation is 
the one already mentioned, the omission here of the words awake 
my glory, for which the last clause of v. 2 (1) is a substitute. 

4 (3.) I will thank thee among the nations, oh Jehovah, I will 
praise thee among the peoples. See above, on Ps. lvii. 10 (9.) 
The only variation is the substitution of the name Jehovah for 
Adhonai, a change scarcely perceptible in the English versions. 

5 (4.) For great from above the heavens (is) thy mercy, and 
unto the clouds thy truth. See above, on Ps. lvii. 11 (10.) The 
only variation is the change of ("£) unto into (~2fa) from above , 
apparently intended to suggest the idea of God's mercy as de- 
scending upon man. 

6 (5.) Be thou high above the heavens, oh God, and above all 
the earth thy glory. See above, on Ps. lvii. 12 (11.) The only 
variation is the introduction of the copulative and at the begin- 
ning of the second clause. 



o 



7 (6.) In order that thy beloved (ones) may be delivered, save 
with thy right hand, and hear (or answer) us. See above, on 



PSALM CVIII. 91 

Ps. Is. 7 (5), with which this verse agrees in all points, not ex- 
cepting the keri or various reading in the last word (me for 7is.) 

8 (7.) God hath spoken in Jus holiness (and therefore) I ivill 
triumph, I will divide Shechcm, and the valley of Succoth 1 will 
measure. See above, on Ps. lx. 8 (6), with which this verse 
agrees exactly. 

9 (8.) To me (belongs) Gilead, to me Manasseh, and Ephraim 
the strength of my head, Judah my lawgiver. See above, on Ps. 
lx. 9 (7.) The only variation is the omission, in the verse before 
us, of the and after Gilead. 

10 (9.) Moab (is) my wash-pot ; at Edom will I throio my 
shoe ; over Philistia will I shout aloud. See above, on Ps. lx. 
10 (S,) At the end of this verse is the most material variation 
in the whole psalm, which, however, is evidently not fortuitous 
or by a later hand, but intentional and made by the original 
writer. I will shout aloud, as an expression of triumph over a 
conquered enemy. 

11 (10.) Who will bring me (to) the fortified city? I^Hio 
leads (or has led) me up to Edom ? See above on Ps. lx. 11 (9.) 
The only variation is the change of one synonymous word for 
another, to express the idea of a fortified city. 

12 (11.) (Is it) not God , who hast cast us 'off, and wilt not go 
forth with our hosts ? See above on Ps. lx. 12 (10.) The only 
variation consists in the omission of the emphatic pronoun thou, 
which is expressed in the parallel passage, and only implied in 
the one before us. Some interpreters suppose a sudden change 
of construction from the third to the second person. Is it not 
God — (even, thou who) didst cast us off, etc. 

13 (12.) Give us help from the enemy (or from distress); and 



92 PSALM CIX. 

(the rather because) vain is the salvation of man, meaning that 
which he affords. See above, on Ps. lx. 13 (11), which agrees 
with this exactly. 

14 (13.) In God we will make (i. e, gain or gather) strength^ 
and he will tread down (or trample on) our adversaries (perse- 
cutors or oppressors.) See above, on Ps. lx. 14 (12), between 
which and the verse before us there is not the slightest differ- 
ence. 



PSALM CIX. 

This psalm consists of three parts ; a complaint of slanderous 
and malignant enemies, vs. 1 — 5 ; a prayer for the punishment 
of such, vs. 6 — 20 ; and a prayer for the sufferer's own deliver- 
ance, with a promise of thanksgiving, vs. 21 — 31. According to 
the theory repeatedly referred to, this is the second psalm of a 
Davidic trilogy. See above, on Ps. cviii. This psalm is re- 
markable on two accounts ; first, as containing the most striking 
instances of what are called the imprecations of the psalms ; and 
then, as having been applied in the most explicit manner to the 
sufferings of our Saviour from the treachery of Judas, and to the 
miserable fate of the latter. These two peculiarities are perhaps 
more closely connected than they may at first sight seem. Per- 
haps the best solution of the first is that afforded by the second, 
or at least by the hypothesis, that the Psalmist, under the direc- 
tion of the Spirit, viewed the sufferings of Israel, which furnished 
the occasion of the psalm, as a historical type of the Messiah's 
sufferings from the treachery of Judas, representing that of 



PSALM CIX, 93 

Judah, and that with this view he expresses his abhorrence of the 
crime, and acquiesces in the justice of its punishment, in stronger 
terms than would have been, or are elsewhere, employed in 
reference to ordinary criminals. 

1. To the Chief Musician. By David. A Psalm. God of 
my praiv, be not silent. The first inscription was particularly 
necessary here because the psalm might otherwise have seemed to 
be a mere expression of strong personal feeling. See above, on Ps. 
li. I. God of my praise, i. e. the object of it, whom I 
delight, or am accustomed, or have cause, to praise. Be not 
silent means not merely do not refuse to answer, but amidst the 
threats and railings of my enemies, let thy voice be heard also. See 
above, on Ps. xxviii. 1. xxxv. 22. xxxix. 13. (12.) 

2. For a wicked mouth and a mouth of deceit they have opened; 
they have spoken against me with a tongue of falsehood. Com- 
pare Ps. xxxv. 11. lv. 4 (3.) The subject of the first verb is his 
enemies, and not the nouns preceding, as the verb translated 
open is elsewhere always active. Against me, literally, with me, 
implying that they charged him falsely to his face, a circumstance 
remarkably fulfilled in Christ. See Matth. xxvi. 59. 

3. And with words of hatred they have compassed me, and have 
fought against me without cause. See above, on Ps. xxxv. 20. 
xxxvi. 4 (3. ) 

4. In return for my love they are my adversaries — and I (am) 
prayer. The first word in Hebrew strictly means instead or in 
lieu of. The unusual expression at the end can only mean, I am 
all prayer, I do nothing but pray, which some understand to sig- 
nify, I bear their persecution meekly and continue my devotions 
undisturbed by their calumnies and insults. But as the whole 
context is descriptive, not of the sufferer's behaviour but of his 



y 4 PSALM CIX. 

enemies', a more probable sense is, I am forced to be continually 
praying for protection against them and deliverance from them. 

5. They lay upon me evil instead of good and hatred instead of 
love. The first verb literally means they set or place. Instead 
of the good and the love which they owed me, or in return for my 
kindness and love to them, as in v. 4. 

6. Appoint thou over him a wicked one, and let an adversary 
stand upon his right hand. The first verb in Hebrew means to 
place one in authority or charge over another. See Gen. xxxix. 
5. xli. 34. Num. i. 50 and compare Lev. xxvi. 16. Jer. xv. 3. 
Wicked one and adversary (Satan), although here used as appel- 
latives or common nouns, are the very terms applied, in the later 
scriptures, to the Evil Spirit or the Devil. See Job i. 6. ii. 1. 
1 Chr. xxi. 1. Zech. iii. 1,2. In the place last cited he stands 
too at the right hand of the sinner to accuse him. The change 
of number in the verse before us might, in conformity with usage, 
be explained as a mere difference of form, the ideal person denoted 
by the singular being really the type and representative of the whole 
class denoted by the plural. But the constancy with which the 
change, in this case, is adhered to, rather favours the conclusion, 
that a real individual is meant, to whom the Psalmist turns from 
the promiscuous crowd of his oppressors. For a similar transi- 
tion, see above, on Ps. lv. 13 (12.) 

7. When he is tried he shall go forth guilty, and his prayer 
shall he for sin. The future meaning of the second verb is deter- 
mined by the form of the third, which is not apocopated, as in vs. 
12, 13. When he is tried, literally, in his being tried. The next 
phrase simply means that he shall be condemned ; the last clause, 
that his very prayer for mercy shall be reckoned as a new offence, 
a strong description of extreme judicial rigour and inexorable 
justice. 



PSALM CIX, 95 

8. Let his days be few — Ids office let another take. The word 
translated office is a collateral derivative of the verb at the be- 
ginning of v. 6, and means commission, charge. This expression 
makes it still more probable that a real individual is referred to, 
as the possession of a charge or office could not be common to the 
whole class of malignant enemies. The Septuagint version is 
IntaKon^v^ oversight or supervision, corresponding exactly to the 
meaning of the Hebrew verb in v. 6. This translation is retained 
in Acts i. 20, where the verse before us is expressly quoted by 
Peter, as " written in the book of Psalms," and applied to the 
case of Judas Iscariot. 

9. Let his sons be orphans and his wife a widow. He here 
passes from tho person of the criminal to the sufferings of those 
dependent on him. See Ex. xx. 5. 

10. And wander — wander — let his sons and beg, and seek (their 
food) from (among) their ruins. The emphatic repetition of the 
first verb is expressed, in the English Bible, by a paraphrase, let 
his children be continually vagabonds. The last clause is ex- 
tremely graphic, representing them as creeping forth in search of 
food from amidst the ruins of their habitations. 

11. Let a creditor entrap all he has, and strangers plunder (the 
fruit of) his labour. The first noun originally means a lender, 
but in usage has the accessory sense of a hard creditor, an extor- 
tioner. The verb means to lay a snare for, as in Ps. xxxviii. 13 
(12.) Strangers, not his natural heirs, not members of his 
family. See Deut. xxv. 5. 

12. Let there be no one to him extending mercy, and let there be 
no one showing favour to his orphans. The verb translated ex- 
tend literally means draw out, prolong, and is applied to the con- 
tinued indulgence both of hostile and amicable feelings. See 



96 PSALM CIX. 

above, on Ps. xxviii. 3. xxxvi. 11 (10.) lxxxv. 6 (5.) Showing 
favour, exercising mercy, as in Ps. xxxvii. 21. 

13. Let his posterity be cut off ; in the next generation, hlottea 
out le their name. The word for posterity strictly means futurity, 
after part, or latter end. See above, Ps. xxxvii. 37, 38. Cut 
off, literally, for cutting off. The next or after generation, as in 
Ps. xlviii. 14 (13.) The plural pronoun their refers to the col- 
lective noun posterity. 

14. Let the guilt of his fathers be remembered by Jehovah, and his 
mothers sin not blotted out. This is perhaps the most fearful im- 
precation in the psalm, as it extends the consequences of trans- 
gression, not merely to the children, who might naturally be ex- 
pected to partake of them, but to the parents. It is not to be 
forgotten, however, that in all such cases, the personal guilt of 
the implicated parties is presupposed, and not inferred from their 
connection with the principals. Remembered by (literally to) 
Jehovah, which may possibly mean brought to his remembrance, 
recalled to mind by another, perhaps by the accuser before men- 
tioned. 

15. Let them be before Jehovah always, and let him cut off from 
the earth their memory. The subject of the first clause is the 
guilt and sin mentioned in the verse preceding. Before Jehovah^ 
in his sight, an object of attention to him. See above, Ps. xc. 8 . 
With the last clause compare Ps. ix. 7 (6.) xxxiv. 17 (16.) 

16. Because that he did not remember to do mercy, and perse- 
cuted an afflicted and poor man, and one smitten in heart, to kill 
(him.) There is an antithesis between the remember of this verse 
and the remembered of v. 14. Though he did not remember mercy, 
God remembers guilt. The last phrase, to kill, denotes both 
the design and the extent of the malignant persecution, which 



PSALM CIX, 97 

was deadly or to death. The object of the persecution is the 
psalmist himself, or the ideal person whom he represents. See 
v. 22. 

17. And he loved a curse, and it has come (upon) him ; and he 
delighted not in blessing, and it has removed far from him. This 
verse contemplates the event as actually past. The optative 
meaning, given to the verbs in the English Bible, is as incon- 
sistent with the form of the original as the future meaning given 
in the Prayer Book and the ancient versions. 

18. And he has put on cursing as his garment , and it has come 
like water into his inside, and like oil into his bones. There is an 
obvious climax in this verse. That which is first described as the 
man's exterior covering, is then said to be within him, first as 
water, then as oil or fat, first in the vessels of his body, then in 
his very bones. The general idea is that the curse, which he de- 
nounced and endeavoured to inflict on others, has taken possession 
of himself, both within and without. Compare Num. v. 22, 
24, 27. The first clause admits of a different construction, 
which would make it descriptive of the crime and not the 
punishment. He put on cursing as his garment, and (now) it has 
come, etc. This construction introduces an antithesis, and there 
by adds to the point of the sentence, and is also recommended by 
the analogy of v. 17. 

19. Let it be to him as a garment (that) he wears, and for a belt 
let him always gird it. This is not a mere reiteration of the 
figure in the first clause of v. IS, but conveys the additional idea 
of a habitual and constant presence. The word belt is used in the 
translation of the last clause, because the Hebrew word to which 
it corresponds is not the usual derivative of the verb that follows, 
but etymologically unconnected with it. 

r 

20. (Be) this the wages of my adversaries from Jehovah, and 

vol. in. — 5 



98 PSALM CIX. 

of those speaking evil against my soul. The pronoun this in the first 
clause refers to the whole preceding series of denunciations. The 
word translated wages means originally work, and secondarily the 
price or recompense of work or labour, and is so used in the law 
of Moses. See Lev. xix. 13. It is here peculiarly appropriate 
because it represents the misfortunes of his enemies as the direct 
fruit of their own misconduct. No single word in English can 
express this double meaning of the Hebrew. Such is their work 
and such their wages. The word translated adversaries is a cog- 
nate form to that used in v. 6, and might suggest the idea of my 
Satans ; but this would probably convey too much. From Je- 
hovah, their reward or recompense to be expected from him, or 
already bestowed by him. The description in the last clause in- 
cludes insult, slander, and malicious plotting. 

21. And thou, Jehovah, Lord, do with me for thy name's sake , 
because good is thy mercy, set me free. The emjmatic thou at the 
beginning indicates a contrast between God and his oppressors. 
Do with me is a common English phrase meaning deal with me, 
dispose of me ; but no such idiom exists in Hebrew, and the best 
authorities regard the construction as elliptical and make it mean, 
do kindness (or shew mercy) to me. With the last clause com- 
pare Ps. lxiii. 4 (3.) lxix. 17 (16.) 

22. For afflicted and poor (am) J, and my heart is wounded 
within me. This, though indefinite in form, is equivalent to say- 
ing, I am the afflicted and poor man whom the malignant adver- 
sary persecuted, as was said in v. 16. The word translated 
wounded strictly means pierced or perforated, a stronger expres- 
sion than the one in v. 16. With the first clause compare Ps. 
xl. 18 (17.) lxix. 30 (29.) 

23. IAke a shadow at its turning I am gone ; I am driven 
away like the locust. The first comparison is the same with that 



PSALM CIX. 99 

in Ps. cii. 12. Our idiom enables us to imitate the phrase I am 
gone, a passive which in Hebrew occurs only here. The other 
verb is rare, but its meaning is sufficiently determined by usage. 
The allusion here is to the violence with which a cloud of locusts 
in the east is scattered by the wind. Compare Ex. x. 19. Joel 
ii. 20. Nah. iii. 17. 

24. My knees totter from fasting, and my flesh fails from fat- 
ness. The last phrase is obscure but seems to mean/Vow being 
fat, so that it is not fat ; the privative usage of the preposition 
being very common. The sense thus put upon the verb is justi- 
fied by the analogy of Isai. lviii. 11, where an equivalent expres- 
sion is applied to failing waters. Some interpreters, however, 
insist upon retaining the strict sense both of verb and noun, and 
understand the clause to mean, my flesh lies or deceives the eye, 
by no longer appearing as it once did, or by seeming to exist 
when it is gone, from oil, i. e. from want of oil, because no longer 
taken care of and anointed. But no construction could well be 
more forced and far-fetched. It may also be objected that the 
external use of oil was to anoint the head on festive occasions, 
not to fatten the person or preserve the flesh. 

25. And I have been a reproach to them, they see me, they shaki 
their head. A reproach, an object of contempt, as in Ps. xxii. 
7(6.) xxxi. 12 (11.) As to the meaning of the gesture men- 
tioned in the last clause, see above, on Ps. xxii. 8 (7.) 

26. Help me, Jehovah, my God, save me, according to thy mercy. 
The renewed description of his sufferings, in vs. 22 — 25, is fol- 
lowed by a renewed petition for deliverance, corresponding to that 
in v. 21. According to thy mercy, i. c. in proportion to its great- 
ness and the freeness with which it is exercised. 

27. And they shall know that this (is) thy hand ; thou, Jehovah, 



100 PSALM CIX. 

hast done it. The optative construction, let them know, and the 
subjunctive one, that they may know, are really involved in the 
more exact translation, they shall know. The subject of the verb 
may be men in general, or the persecuting adversaries in par- 
ticular, more probably the latter, because they are referred to, 
both before and after. This is thy hand, i. e. this deliverance is 
the product of thy power. Compare Ps. lix. 14 (13.) 

2S. They will curse, and thou wilt bless ; they have risen up, and 
shall be shamed, and thy servant shall be glad. The first clause, 
expressed in our idiom, would be, they may curse but thou wilt 
bless. Risen up, i. e. against me, a favourite expression in the 
Psalms. Shamed, in the pregnant sense of being disappointed, 
defeated, confounded. Thy servant, i. e. I as such, in that ca- 
pacity or character. 

29. Clothed shall my adversaries be with confusion, and dressed, 
as a robe, in their shame. This is not the mere expression of a 
wish, like that in v. 18, which would here be out of place, but a 
confident anticipation, with which he concludes the psalm. Com- 
pare Ps. lxxi. 13.' The word translated robe denotes a garment 
reaching to the feet, and expresses therefore still more strongly 
the idea that Lis foes shall be completely covered with confusion 

30. I will thank Jehovah greatly with my mouth, and in the 
midst of many will I praise him. He vows that his thanksgiving 
shall not be merely mental or domestic, but audible and public. 
With the last clause compare Ps. xxii. 23 (22.) 

31. For he will stand at the right hand of a poor (man), to save 
(hi?n) from the judges of his soul. This assigns the special rea- 
son of his promised praise. The verse is in strong contrast to 
v. 6 above, especially if Satan be there taken as a proper name. 
The right hand here is not the place of honour but of protection. 



PSALM CX. 101 

A poo?' man, as in v. 16, means this poo?- man, i. e. me a poor 
man. Compare Ps. xxxiv. 7 (G) The last clause is correctly 
paraphrased in the common version, those that condemn his soul. 



PSALM C X . 

This is the counterpart of the Second Psalm, completing the 
prophetic picture of the conquering Messiah. The progressive 
development of the Messianic doctrine lies in this, that the King- 
ship of Messiah, there alleged and confirmed by a divine decree, 
is here assumed at the beginning, and then shown to be connected 
with his Priesthood, which is also solemnly proclaimed, and its 
perpetuity ensured by a divine oath. This constitutes the centre 
of the psalm, v. 4, to which all the rest is either introductory, 
vs. 1 — 3, or supplementary, v. 5 — 7. The repeated, explicit, 
and emphatic application of this psalm, in the New Testament, 
to Jesus Christ, is so far from being arbitrary or at variance with 
the obvious import of the psalm itself, that any other application 
is ridiculous. The chief peculiarity of form is a frequent change 
of person, not unlike that in Ps. xci. 

1. By David. A Psalm. Thus saith Jehovah to my Lord, 
Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy foot- 
stool. The ascription of the psalm to David is not only uncon- 
tradicted by external evidence, but corroborated by the internal 
character of the composition, its laconic energy, its martial tone, 
its triumphant confidence, and its resemblance to other undis- 
puted psalms of David. In addition to all this, we have the 
authority of Christ himself, who not only speaks of it as David's, 
but founds an argument upon it, the whole force of which depends 
upon its having been composed by him. See Matt. xxii. 43. 



102 PSALM CX. 

Mark xii. 36. Luke xx. 42, and compare Acts ii. 34. As a fur- 
ther confirmation of the truth of this inscription, some allege the 
obvious relation of this psalm to those before it, as forming with 
them a Davidic trilogy. See above, on Ps. cviii. 1. Thus saith 
Jehovah, or more exactly, a dictum (or saying) of Jehovah. For 
the origin and usage of this formula, used only in prophetic 
declarations, see above on Ps. xxxvi. 2 (1.) My Lord, i. e. 
David's, as our Saviour explicitly declares in the passages already 
cited, yet not of David merely as a private person, nor even as an 
individual king, but as representing his own royal race and the 
house of Israel over which it reigned. The person thus de- 
scribed as the superior and sovereign of David and his house and 
of all Israel, could not possibly be David himself, nor any of his 
sons and successors except one, who, by virtue of his twofold 
nature, was at once his sovereign and his son. See Rom. i. 3, 4. 
That the Lord here meant was universally identified with the 
Messiah by the ancient Jews, is clear, not only from their own 
traditions, but from Christ's assuming this interpretation as the 
basis of his argument to prove the Messiah's superhuman na- 
ture, and from the fact that his opponents, far from questioning this 
fact, were unable to answer him a word, and afraid to interrogate 
him further (Matt. xxii. 46.) The original form of expression, 
in the phrase Sit at my right hand, is the same as in Ps. cix. 31. 
A seat at the right hand of a king is mentioned in the Scriptures 
as a place of honour, not arbitrarily, but as implying a participa- 
tion in his power, of which the right hand is a constant symbol. 
See above, on Ps. xlv. 10 (9), and compare Matt. xix. 28. The 
Bitting posture is appropriate to kings who are frequently described 
as sitting on their thrones. See above, on Ps. xxix. 10. In this 
case, however, the posture is of less moment than the position. 
Hence Stephen sees Christ standing at the right hand of God 
(Acts vii. 55, 56), and Paul simply says he is there (Horn. viii. 
34.) The participation in the divine power, thus ascribed to the 
Messiah, is a special and extraordinary one, having reference to 



PSALM CX. 103 

the total subjugation of his enemies. This idea is expressed by 
the figure of their beiug made his footstool, perhaps with allusion 
to the ancient practice spoken of in Josh. x. 24. This figure 
itself, however, presupposes the act of sitting on a throne. It 
does not imply inactivity, as some suppose, or mean that Jehovah 
would conquer his foes for him, without any intervention of his 
own. The idea running through the whole psalm is, that it is in 
and through him that Jehovah acts for the destruction of his 
enemies, and that for this very end he is invested with almighty 
power, as denoted by his session at the right hand of God. This 
session is to last until the total subjugation of his enemies, that is to 
say, this special and extraordinary power of the Messiah is then 
to terminate, a representation which agrees exactly with that of 
Paul in 1 Cor. xv. 24 — 28, where the verse before us is dis- 
tinctly referred to, although not expressly quoted. It is there- 
fore needless, though grammatical, to give the until an in 
elusive meaning, namely, until then and afterwards, as in Ps. 
cxii. S below. This verse, it has been said, is more frequently 
quoted or referred to, in the New Testament, than any other in 
the Hebrew Bible. Besides the passages already cited, it lies at 
the foundation of all those which represent Christ as sitting 
at the right hand of the Father. See Matt. xxvi. 64. 1 Cor. 
xv. 25. Eph. i. 20—22. Phil. ii. 9—11. Heb. i. 3, 14. viii. 1. 
x. 12, 13. 1 Pet. iii. 22, and compare Rev. iii. 21. 

2. The rod of thy strength will Jehovah send forth from Zion ; 
rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. The Psalmist now ad- 
dresses the Messiah directly. The idea latent in the figures of 
the first verse, namely that of power, is here expressed. The 
word (uM) translated rod never means a sceptre, as the synony- 
mous term ('£~d\ sometimes docs, from which it is distinguished 
by Ezekiel (xix. 11), but a rod of correction and of chastisement. 
See Jer. xlviii. 12, and compare Lsai. ix. 3 (4.) x. 5, 15, xiv. 4, 
5. Ez. vii. 10, 11. It is here named as the instrument with 



104 PSALM CX. 

which the foes are to be subdued. Compare Ps. ii. 9. There 
may be an allusion to the rod of Moses. See Ex. xiv. 16, 21, 
and compare Isai. x. 24, 26. The rod of thy strength, or thy 
rod of strength, thy strong rod, or rather the rod by means of 
•which thine own strength is to be exerted. As this strength is 
not human but divine, it is said to be sent forth by Jehovah out 
of Zion, considered as his earthly residence, the seat of the theo- 
cracy. See above, on Ps. xx. 3 (2. ) The verb translated ruh 
is not applied in usage to a peaceful reign, but to coercive or 
compulsory dominion over conquered enemies. See above, on 
Ps. xlix. 15 (14), and compare Num. xxiv. 19. The imperative 
here involves prediction in its strongest form. As if he had said : 
All is ready for the conquest ; there is no resistance ; there can 
be no doubt of the result ; rule, therefore, in the midst thine ene- 
mies, i. e. over the very enemies by whom thou art surrounded, 
and who threatened to dethrone thee. 

3. Thy people (are) free-will-offerings in the day of thy power, 
in holy decorations, from the womb of the dawn, to thee (is) the dew 
of thy youth. Every member of this very obscure verse has been 
a subject of dispute and of conflicting explanations. The com- 
mon version of the first words (thy people shall be willing) is en- 
tirely inadmissible as an exact translation, since the word trans- 
lated willing is a plural substantive of the feminine gender, and 
not an adjective agreeing with the masculine singular noun people. 
The idea, however, is the same, but expressed with far more 
strength and beauty. The plural noun just mentioned is the one 
used to denote spontaneous gifts, or freewill-offerings, under the 
law ^f Moses.. See above, on Ps. liv. 8 (7), and compare Ex, 
xxv. 2. xxxv. 29. xxxvi. 3. Lev. xxii. 23. By supplying the 
correlative verb, which may be considered as latent in the noun, 
we obtain the sense, thy people (offer) voluntary gifts. But by 
supplying the substantive verb, which is far more natural and 
common, we obtain the still more striking sense, thy people are 



PSALM CX. 105 

themselves such gifts, i. e. they freely consecrate themselves to 
God. In this sense of voluntary self-dedication the reflexive form 
of the verbal root is used even in historical prose (1 Chr. xxix. 14, 
17), especially in reference to military service (Judg. v. 2, 9. 
2 Chr. xvii. 16.) The day of thy power, the day in which it is ex- 
erted and displayed in the subjugation of thine enemies. The 
next phrase literally means, in beauties (or ornaments) of holiness, 
which may cither have its obvious spiritual sense, as in Ps. xxix. 
2, or that of holy decorations, with allusion to the sacerdotal dress, 
which is expressly called garments of holiness, Lev. xvi. 4. The 
last is the sense put by the modern interpreters upon the phrase, 
which then means that the people, when they make this solemn 
ottering of themselves to God, appear clothed in sacerdotal vest- 
ments, as the servants of a priestly king (v. 4 below), and them- 
selves a "kingdom of priests" (Ex. xix. 6.) The. womb of the 
dawn (or day-break) is a very strong poetical description of the 
origin or source of the dew which immediately follows, and the 
sense of which must determine that of the whole clause. The 
most probable opinions as to this point are the following. Some 
suppose the clause to be descriptive of the multitude of warriors 
who devote themselves to the Messiah, and who are then described 
as no less numerous than the drops of dew born from the womb 
of morning. The objection to this is, that it lays too much stress 
upon mere numbers, and expresses that idea by a figure neither 
common nor altogether natural. Another explanation makes the 
point of the comparison with dew, not numbers, but beauty, bril- 
liancy thus corresponding to the holy decorations of the other clause. 
Here again the comparison selected is by no means obvious, much 
less familiar. Lovely or beautiful as dew is not a combination 
likely to occur to the mind of any writer. In the two interpreta- 
tions which have now been given, youth must be taken in the 
use of young men, like the Latin pules and juvenilis, when ap- 
plied to a youthful soldiery, or made to qualify the noun before 
t youthful dew, still meaning the young warriors. But of such 

5* 



106 PSALM CX. 

a figure there is not a trace in Hebrew usage, and in the only 
other place -where the word (r --.;:") occurs, it evidently means 
youth, as a period of human life (Ecc. xi. 9, 10.) Free from all 
these objections is the supposition, that the clause relates not to 
the numbers or the beauty of Messiah's people, but to their per- 
petual succession, expressed by a fine poetical comparison with 
dew, engendered afresh daily from the womb of the morning. 
Youth will then have its proper sense, as denoting the perpetual 
youth of the Messiah, whose body is thus constantly renewed by 
the successive generations of his people. This construction also 
enables us to divide the clause more equally than in the masoretic 
interpunction, which, at all events, is either incorrect or rather 
musical than logical. 

4. Sworn hath Jehovah, and will not repent, Thou (shalt he) a 
priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek. . The declaration 
in the last clause of v. 3 is here repeated in another form, and 
with a statement of the ground or reason upon which it rests. 
What was there poetically represented as the perpetual youth of 
the Messiah is here more solemnly described as a perpetual priest- 
hood, indissolubly blended with a perpetual kingship, both secured 
by the oath of God himself. Tie will not repent, there is no fear 
or even possibility of his breaking or retracting this engagement, 
for such it is, and not a mere declaratory attestation of the pre- 
sent fact or general truth, as it might seem to be from the com- 
mon version, not only here but in Ilcb. v. 6. vii. 17, 21, in every 
ore of which places the Greek conforms exactly to the Septuagint 
version and the Hebrew text, the art being constantly supplied by 
the translators. That the clause is a promise, and as such relates 
directly to the future, is clear from the whole tenor of the psalm as a 
prophetic one, as well as from the oath, which is not used in Scrip- 
ture to attest mere matters of fact, but to confirm the divine promise 
and thrcatenings. The indefinite expression, a priest, is intended 
to describe the office in itself considered, without reference to 



PSALM CX, 



]07 



temporary distinctions and gradations. It therefore comprehends 
whatever appertained to the office of the High Priest, as the head 
and representative of all the rest. After the order, i. e. accord- 
ing to the manner, character, or institution. It is remarkable 
that this phrase (like mniit! ni Y - 3 ) ' ls almost peculiar to this 
psalm and the .book of Ecclesiastes, being found besides in only 
one place (Job v. 8.) In all the direct quotations of the verse 
in Hebrews, the Septuagint version of this word (x&£iv) is re- 
tained. But in one of the more indirect citations (Heb. vii. 15) 
another word (0^016x^x0,) is substituted, showing that the essen- 
tial idea is that of likeness or resemblance. This likeness con- 
sists primarily in the union of the regal and sacerdotal offices. 
See Gen. xiv. 18. The meaning of the verse in its original con- 
nection is, that this royal conqueror is also a priest, who makes 
atonement for the sins of his people, and thus enables and dis- 
poses them to make the dedication of themselves described in the 
preceding verse. The perpetuity of this relation, and its confir- 
mation by the oath of God, are attendant circumstances but 
essential, and as such insisted on by the apostle, Heb. vii. 20 — 24. 
The coincidences founded on the meaning of the names Melchize- 
dek and Salem (Heb. vii. 2), and on the want of hierarchical 
succession in both cases (Heb. vii. 3), are perfectly legitimate but 
not essential to the understanding of the verse in its original con- 
nection. The inspired commentary on this sentence, which occu- 
pies the whole seventh chapter of Hebrews, is not intended merely 
to explain its meaning, but also to make use of its terms, and the 
associations coupled with them, as a vehicle of other kindred 
truths, belonging to the Christian revelation, and not necessarily 
suggested by the Psalm to its original readers. 

5. The Lord on thy right hand has smitten, in the day of his 
anger, kings. Some suppose this to be addressed to Jehovah, and 
the Lord to mean Messiah, on the ground that they could not each 
be on the right hand of the other. See above, v. 1. That they 



108 PSALM CX. 

could be so, however, only shows that the whole description is a 
figurative one, and that the principal figure has a two-fold mean- 
ing. On the right hand has precisely the same meaning here as 
in Ps. cix. 31, where it denotes the place of protection or assist- 
ance, the figure being probably derived from the usages of war, 
in which one who succours or protects another may be said to 
strengthen his right hand, as the member which he uses in his 
own defence. In one sense, therefore, the Lord is at the right 
hand of Jehovah ; in another sense, Jehovah is at his. This 
assistance, far from excluding, presupposes his own action, or ra- 
ther, what Jehovah is described as doing for him he does through 
him. See above, on v. 1. The word translated smite is very 
strong and has repeatedly occurred before. See above, on Ps. 
xviii. 39 (38.) lxviii. 22, 24 (21, 23.) The day of Jehovah's 
wrath is coincident with that of the Lord's strength in v. 3. The 
strength of the Messiah, as a conqueror, is to be exerted in giving 
effect to Jehovah's wrath against his enemies. The position of the 
word kings at the end of the sentence, although harsh and almost 
uno-rammatical in English, is retained in the translation for the 
sake of its effect upon the emphasis and point of the description. 
The objects of Jehovah's wrath and the Messiah's strokes are not 
to be mere ordinary men, but kings, if they continue to oppose 
themselves. See above, on Ps. ii. 2, 10. The tense of the verb 
may be regarded as an instance of praeteritum propheticum, de- 
scribing what is certainly to happen as already past. 

6. He will judge among the nations — he has filled {them) with 
corpses — he has smitten the head over much land (or over the wide 
earth.) By another sudden change of form, the Messiah is again 
spoken of as a third person. The judgment here ascribed to him 
is only another name and figure for the conquest just described. 
The form of expression in the last clause is unusual and obscure. 
The common version makes both head and land collectives, the 
heads over many countries. Some interpreters explain the second 



J SALM CX. 109 

word in this way, but the first more strictly, as denoting a single 
*uler over many countries. Others invert the terms and under- 
stand by head the various chiefs of nations, but by earth the 
whole earth with its qualifying epithet of great or icicle. Amidst 
bhese questions of construction or minute interpretation, the 
general idea is clear enough, to wit, that of universal conquest on 
the part of the Messiah, and extending to all earthly principalities 
and powers. 

7. From the Irook in the way he will drink, therefore will he 
'aise the head. According to the masoretic interpunction, in the 
way does not qualify the brook but he will drink, a distinction of 
little exegetical importance. Unlike the foregoing verse, the one 
before us is perfectly clear in its particular expressions, but ob- 
scure in its general import and relation to the context. The 
most probable meaning of the first clause is, that he shall not be 
exhausted like those wandering in the desert (Ps. cii. 24. cvii. 
4, 5) but refreshed and strengthened, with a reference, as some 
suppose, to the relief experienced by Samson (Judg. xv. 18, 19.) 
The raising of the head, in the last clause, is an obvious and in- 
telligible figure for exhilaration, or relief from dejection and de- 
pression, which is naturally indicated by the hanging of the head. 
The only question is whether this effect is here supposed to be 
produced in the conqueror himself or in others. In favour of 
the former explanation is the parallel clause, which represents 
him as assuajnn^ his own thirst. In favour of the other is the 
analogy of Ps. iii. 4 (3) xxvii. 6, where God is said to raise the 
head of man. As in other doubtful cases, where the senses are 
not incompatible or exclusive of each other, it is safe, if not en- 
tirely satisfactory, to leave them side by side, the rather as the 
words could probably not fail to suggest both idea* tc the Hebrew 
reader. 



110 PSALM CXI. 



P S A L M CXI. 

This is an alphabetical psalm, in which the Hebrew letters 
mark the beginning not of verses but of clauses. The first eight 
verses contain each two clauses ; the last two consist of three. 
The psalm begins with an invitation to the public praise of God, 
v. 1, then assigns, as the ground and object of this praise, his 
dealings with his people, vs. 2 — 9, and ends with the conclusion, 
that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, v. 10. 
There is nothing in the psalm itself to determine its date or its 
historical occasion. According to Hengstenberg, it is the first, 
psalm of a trilogy, added to the ancient one preceding (Ps. 
cviii — ex.) after the return from exile. 

1. Hallelujah ! I will thank Jehovah with a whole heart, in the 
company of the upright and in the congregation. The Hallelujah 
(praise ye Jah) marks the designation of the latter psalms for 
permanent use in public worship, as the inscription to the chief 
musician does that of the older ones. With a whole hea?'t, or with 
all (my) heart, as it is fully ex]3ressed in Ps. lxxxvi. 12. Compare 
Ps. cxix. 2. The word translated company means properly a 
circle of confidential friends. See above, on Ps. xxv. 14. lv. 
15 (14.) lxiv. 3 (2.) lxxxiii. 4 (3.) It is here applied to the 
church or chosen people, as constituting such a company or circle, 
in opposition to the world without. It is not therefore really 
distinct from the congregation mentioned in the last clause, but 
another name for it. The upright (or straightforward") is a title 
given to the true Israel, from the days of Balaam downwards. 
See Num. xxiv 10. 

2. G? eat are the works of Jehovah, sought (according) to all 



PSALM CXI. Ill 

their desires. The common version of the last phrase, all them 
that have pleasure therein, supposes the text to he differently 
pointed, as in Ps. xl. 15 (14,) lxx. 3 (2.) The received text can 
only mean to (for or according to) all their wishes. The ante- 
cedent of the pronoun {their) seems to he the upright in v. 1. For 
a similar construction of the same pronoun, see below, en v. 10 
The clause, thus construed, is obscure, but may be understood 
to mean, that when the works of God are sought out, investigated, 
or explored, their greatness fully satisfies the hopes and wishes 
of his people.. Another possible sense is, that they are sought 
'for, i. e. the experience or knowledge of them eagerly desired, 
with (literally as to) all their wishes, i. e. with avidity, or, as it is 
expressed in the preceding verse, with all the heart. 

3. Honour mnd majesty (is) his work — and his righteousness 
standing forever. In the first clause, work is the subject of the 
proposition, honour and majesty the predicate. His work is 
honour and majesty, i. e. all that he does is noble and majestic, 
worthy of the great King, to whom these epithets are often ap- 
plied elsewhere. See above, on Ps. civ. 1. His work means 
specifically here what he does for the protection and deliverance 
of his people. In the last clause, as in many other places, this 
work is referred to his righteousness, not his justice, in the 
technical and strict sense, but his rectitude, including his fidelity 
to his engagements, and securing the exercise of his covenanted 
mercy. This seems more natural than to explain it as meaning 
the practical-justification of his people by his providential care of 
them. Standing to eternity (or perpetuity), not fitful or ca- 
pricious, not confined or temporary, but perpetual and constant. 

4. A memory has he made for his wonderful works ; gracious 
and compassionate (is) Jehovah. The first clause, though not 
exactly rendered, is correctly paraphrased in the English Bible, 
he hath made his wonderful works to be remembered, and still 



112 PSALM CXI. 

more freely in the Prayer Book version. The last clause shows 
that the wonderful works of the first are not the wonders of crea- 
tion, nor those of providence in general, but those wrought for 
the benefit of Israel. The terms of this clause are borrowed 
from Ex. xxxiv. 6. See above, on Ps. ciii. 8. 

5. Prey hath he given to those fearing him ; he will remember to 
eternity his covenant. The first word properly denotes the food 
of wild beasts, and may here be either a poetical equivalent to 
food, provision, as in Prov. xxxi. 15. Mai. iii. 10, or intended to 
suggest the additional idea of food obtained at the expense of 
enemies. In either case there seems to be no reason for restrict- 
ing the clause to the supply of Israel in the desert, although that 
would necessarily occur to every reader, as the great historical 
example of the general fact alleged, and in the last clause repre- 
sented as a proof of God's fidelity to covenant engagements. 

6. The power of his iuorks he has declared to his people, (so as) 
to give to them a heritage of nations. He has shown them what 
powerful things he can do, by favouring them so far as to drive 
out nations from their seats, and make his people their successors 
and, as it were, their heirs. This refers to the conquest of 
Canaan, as the first in a long series of such dispossessions, includ- 
ing all the territories gained in war from the surrounding nations, 
till the death of David. The construction of to give as a gerund 
(by giving) is not a Hebrew idiom, and restricts the meaning of 
the clause unduly. See above, on Ps. lxxviii. 18. 

7. The ivories of his hands are truth and judgment ; sure [are) 
all his precepts. The second clause is not an iteration of the first, 
but an inference from it. If what God does himself is always 
done in faithfulness and justice to his people, then what he re- 
quires them to do must certainly be right and best, and his 



PSALM CXI. 113 

requisitions therefore may "be trusted and confided in, the true 
sense of the adjective or participle here employed. 

S. Settled for ever and ever, done in truth and right. The 
subjects are the same as in v. 7, but presented in an inverse 
order, the first clause relating to the precepts, the last to the 
works, of God. The former are settled, firmly supported, found- 
ed, or established, not capricious and precarious. The latter, by 
■which they are recommended and attested (see above, on v. 9), 
are works of faithfulness and rectitude. The last word in He- 
brew is an adjective used as a neuter or abstract noun, in which 
respect the English right resembles it. 

9. Redemption he has sent to his people ; he has ordained to eternity 
his covenant ; holy and fearful is his name. That this verse was 
intended to consist of three clauses, is clear from the fact that it 
contains three letters of the alphabet in regular succession. 
The same thino; is true of the remaining verse. The first clause 
relates mainly, not exclusively, to the deliverance from Egypt. 
As in v. 5, the second clause affirms a general truth, attested and 
exemplified by the particular fact mentioned in the first. Fear- 
ful, not merely to his foes but to his people, who can never cease 
to worship him with holy awe. 

10. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of Jehovah ; a good 
understanding (is) to all (those) doing them ; his praise endureth 
forever. This is the conclusion drawn from all that goes before. 
Since all God's dealings with his people are in faithfulness and 
truth, and his commands not only are but must be right, then the 
first step in wisdom, its first principle or element, is reverence for 
such a Being, proved by obedience to his will. The same senti- 
ment occurs in Prov. i. 7. ix. 10. Job. xxviii. 28. The intimate 
connection of the verse, notwithstanding its proverbial or aphor- 
istic form, with the foregoing context, is apparent from the refer- 



114 PSALM CXII. 

cnce of the pronoun them to the plural nouns of the preceding 
verses. Endy/reth forever, literally, (is) standing to eternity. 
This is equivalent to saying that he will and must be praised for- 
ever, corresponding to the Hallelujah, at the beginning of the 
psalm. 



PSALM CXII. 

Another alphabetical psalm of precisely the same character, 
coinciding with the one before it, even in the number of verses, 
and the number of clauses in each verse. This formal agreement 
shows the intimate connection of the two compositions, and makes 
it highly probable that they belong not only to the same age but 
to the same author, and were meant to form parts of one con- 
tinued series or system. This psalm begins precisely where the 
one before it ends, i. e. with the happiness arising from the fear 
of God, v. 1, the blessed effects of which are then recounted 
under several particulars, vs. 2 — 9, and finally contrasted with 
the fate of the ungodly, v. 10. 

1. Happy the man fearing Jehovah, in his commandments de- 
lighting greatly. There is here not only an obvious connection 
with the close of the preceding psalm, but an obvious advance 
upon it or progression of ideas. As the fear of the Lord is there 
declared to be the principle of all true wisdom, so here it is de- 
clared to be the source of all true happiness. The second clause 
defines the meaning of the first by showing, that the fear there 
mentioned is a fear consistent with, or rather necessarily involv- 
ing, a complacent acquiescence in Grod's will, thus entirely cxclud- 



PSALM CXII. 115 

ing a mere slavish dread, which, is incompatible with such a 
disposition. 

2. Mighty in the earth shall he his seed ; the race of the upright 
shall be blessed. The first phrase is borrowed from Gen. x. 8, 
and would at once suggest to every Hebrew reader the idea of a 
mighty man like Nimrod and the other ancient heroes. Now a 
promise of personal heroism is perhaps without analogy, especi- 
ally as given to the son, to the exclusion of the father. This 
anomaly can be avoided only by assuming, what is probable 
enough in itself, that the ideal person here described represents 
the chosen people, the upright of the other clause, each successive 
generation of whom might be expected to excel its predecessors 
in heroic eminence. 

3. Wealth and riches {are) in his house, and his righteousness 
endureth forever. Not only in his dwelling but in his family, so 
that his wealth or prosperity might have been said to endure for- 
ever as well as his righteousness, i. e. his recognition and recep- 
tion as a righteous person, his justification. Endureth, literally, 
(is) standing, the same expression that is used in Ps. cxi. 3 of 
God himself. There is also an analogy, at least in form, between 
the majesty and honour of the righteous God and the wealth and 
riches of the righteous man. 

4. There arises in the darkness light to the upright — kind and 
compassionate and righteous. The figure in the first clause is a 
natural and common one, denoting relief from deep distress. See 
above, on Ps. xcvii. 11. In the last clause we have another in- 
stance of the singular way in which terms applied to God in the 
preceding psalm are copied and applied to man in this. The first 
two epithets in this clause arc employed above in Ps. cxi. 4. 
The principle involved may be the same as in Luke vi. 36, "be 
ye therefore merciful as your Father also is merciful." Compare 



116 PSALM CXII. 

Matt. v. 48. To these two epithets is added that of righteous, in 
the wide sense including both the others. The construction of 
the sentence is unusual and doubtful ; but most probably the sec- 
ond clause sustains the same relation to the other as in v. 1 ; that 
is to say, it limits and defines the general description upright, 
by confining it to such as have the qualities expressed by the 
three adjectives that follow. The alternation of the numbers is 
familiar where the singular denotes an ideal individual including 
many real ones. 

5. Happy the man showing favour and lending ; he shall sus~ 
tain his affairs by justice. The first word in Hebrew, which 
means good, is here descriptive not of character but of condition, 
and denotes good fortune. It is used in the same sense by Isaiah 
(iii. 10) and Jeremiah (xliv. 17.) The common version (a good 
man) is forbidden by the Hebrew collocation. Lending, not 
as a financial or commercial operation, but as an act of charity, 
lending to the poor. The verb in the last clause strictly means 
to provide for or sustain, especially with food. See above, on 
Ps. lv. 23 (22.) It is here applied to the control and manage- 
ment of all one's interests. Affairs, literally, words, but in the 
wider sense of that which words denote, namely, things, affairs, in 
which sense it is sometimes applied to causes or suits at law. 
The last word is commonly translated judgment, not in the sense 
of discretion, given in the English versions, but in that of practi- 
cal justice, righteous conduct. He shall best secure his own in- 
terests by treating those of others justly and generously. 

6. For to eternity he shall not be moved; to the memory of 
eternity he shall be righteous. The for assigns the reason for his 
being pronounced happy. Moved, i. e. from his prosperous com 
dition, or from his position as a righteous man. The construc- 
tion of the last clause in the English versions {the righteous shah 
be in everlasting remembrance) is grammatical, and yields a goou 



PSALM CXII. . 117 

sense ; but the latest interpreters prefer another, which makes 
to everlasting remembrance mean the same as to eternity. As 
long as he shall be remembered, he shall be remembered as a 
righteous man. This construction has the advantage of making 
the parallelism more exact. 

7. From evil tidings he shall not fear ; fixed is his heart, trust- 
ing in Jehovah. The first Hebrew noun is in the singular num- 
ber, and is properly a participle passive meaning heard, used 
absolutely as a noun denoting what is heard, a rumour or report, 
news or tidings. The common version (he shall not be afraid of 
evil tidings) seems to confine the negation to the mere apprehen- 
sion or anticipation of bad news, whereas the original expression 
comprehends, and indeed more properly denotes, being frightened 
when the evil tidings are heard. A fixed heart is the negation 
both of fickleness and cowardice. See above, on Ps. li. 12 (10.) 
lvii. 8 (7.) cviii. 1. Instead of the active participle trusting, 
the Hebrew has the passive trusted, analogous to that in Ps. 
ciii. 14. 

8. Settled (is) his heart, he shall not fear, until he look upon his 
foes (with triumph.) The first word is another expression bor- 
rowed from the foregoing psalm, but applied in a manner alto- 
gether different. See Ps. cxi. 8, where the plural of the same 
participle is applied to God's commandments. The construction 
in the last clause is the idiomatic one of the verb see with the 
preposition in, which usually means to see with strong emotion, 
and especially with joy or triumph. See above, on Ps. 1. 23. 
liv. 9 (7.) Until docs not imply that he shall then fear, but 
that there will then be no occasion so to do. See above, on Ps. 
ex. 1. 

9. He has scattered, he has given to the poor, his righteousness 
endureth forever , Us horn shall be high with honour. The first 



118 • PSALM CXIII. 

verb denotes profuse munificence, as in Prov. xi. 34. This is 
alleged not as the cause but the effect, and therefore as the evi- 
dence of his being righteous. The next clause is the same as the 
last of v. 3. With the last clause compare Ps. lxxv. 5 (4.) 
lxxxix. IS (17.) 

10. The wicked shall see and fret ; his teeth he shall gnash, and 
shall melt aivay ; the desire of the ivickcd shall perish. He shall 
see, but not with triumnh or delight, like the righteous in v. 8. 
The word translated fret means both to grieve and be angry, and 
has no exact equivalent in English. See above, on Ps. vi. 8 (7.) 
x. 14, xxxi. 10 (9.) Gnash with his teeth, a strong expression of 
impotent malignity. See above, on Ps. xxxv. 16, xxxvii. 12. 
Melt aivay, literally, be melted, i. e. waste or decay. See above, 
on Ps. xxii. 15 (14.) lxviii. 3 (2.) The desire *f the wicked is 
his wish to see the righteous perish. Compare Prov. x. 24, 2S. 
Job viii. 13, and the contrary promise to the humble, Ps. ix. 
19 (18.) 



PSALM CXIII. 

The Psalmist celebrates the majesty of God, vs. 1 — 5, in con- 
trast with his gracious condescension to his suffering creatures, 
vs. 6 — 9. According to a Jewish usage, which appears to have 
existed even in the time of Christ, the six psalms beginning 
with this one constitute the Greater IlalleL suns: at the annual 
festivals, especially the Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles. 
According to Ilengstenberg's arrangement, this psalm closes a 



PSALM CXIII. 119 

second trilogy, added to the Davidic one (Ps. cviii — ex) after the 
return from Babylon. 

1. Hallelujah! Praise, oh ye servants of Jehovah, praise the 
name of Jehovah ! As the title, Servant of Jehovah, is applied 
to eminent leaders of the chosen people (Ps. xviii. 1. xxxvi. 1. 
xc. 1. cv. 6), so the plural, Servants of Jehovah, designates the 
chosen people itself. See above, Ps. xxxiv. 23 (22.) lxix. 37 (36), 
and below, Ps. exxxvi. 22, and compare Ezra v. 11. Neb. i. 10, 
from which last places it appears, that this was a familiar form 
of speech with the returned exiles. 

2. Be the name of Jehovah blessed, from now and even to eternity. 
In this as well as the preceding verse, the name of Jehovah in- 
volves the usual allusion to the manifestation of his nature in his 
former acts. See above, on Ps. v. 12 (11.) The wish expressed 
in this verse implies a perpetual continuation or renewal of the 
evidence already furnished. 

3 From the rising of the sun even to its setting, (to be) praised 
(is the) name of Jehovah. "With the first clause compare Ps. 1. 1. 
The last clause might be grammatically construed as a wish, like 
that in the preceding verse, praised (be the) name of Jehovah. 
It is more probable, however, that the passive participle (landa- 
tus) was meant to have the force of a gerundive (laudandus.) See 
above, on Ps. xviii. 4 (3.) 

4. High above all nations (is) Jehovah ; above the heavens (is) 
las (glory.) The two clauses are declaratory of his infinite su- 
periority, both to the animate and inanimate creation, each beinc 
represented by its noblest part ; the former by mankind, and 
that considered not as individuals but nations ; the latter by 
the heavens. This is certainly more natural, and yields a better 
sense, than to give the preposition (^5>) a different meaning in the 
two clauses, in the first that of above, in the second that of on, in 



120 PSALM CXIII. 

which case it is necessary to explain on heaven as meaning in 
heaven, just as on the earth and in the earth are convertible ex- 
pressions. See above, on Ps. lvii. 6 (5.) 

5. Who is like Jehovah, our God, the (one) dwelling high ? 
The verb denotes not merely dwelling, but sitting enthroned, sit- 
ting as a king-. The oris-inal construction of the last clause is 
peculiar, the (one) making high to sit (or dwell.) 

6. The one seeing deep — in heaven and in earth. The construc- 
tion of the first clause is precisely the same with that of the last 
clause in v. 5, and must be explained in the same manner. As 
making high to dwell means dwelling high, so making low (or 
deep) to see must mean seeing deep, i. e. far below. It also fol- 
lows from the exact correspondence of these clauses, that the 
remaining words of v. 6 are to be connected with the first words 

of v. 5. Who is like Jehovah, our God in heaven and in 

earth ? The rest will then be read as a parenthesis. This con- 
struction is confirmed by the analogy of Deut. iii. 24. 

7. Raising from the dust the poor — -from the dunghill he will 
lift the needy. The mention of God's seeing far below him sug- 
gests the idea of his condescension to the humblest objects which 
he thus beholds. The word translated poor is one of wide signi- 
fication, meaning sometimes poor in flesh and sometimes poor in 
purse. See above, on Ps. xli. 2 (\.) The parallel term means 
poor in the strict sense, i. e. needy, destitute. Dust and dung- 
hill, common figures in all languages for a degraded social state. 
The terms are borrowed from the prayer of Hannah, 1 Sam. ii. 8. 
Compare Ps. xliv. 26 (25.) 

8. To make him sit with nobles, with the nobles of his people. 
Not merely to dwell, which is too vague, but to sit with them, a?, 
their equal and associate. There is also a climax in the last clause 



PSALM CXIV. 121 

He not only raises the poor to an equality with nobles in general, 
but with the nobles of his people, i. e. with the noblest of man- 
kind. See again, 1 Sam. ii. 8. 

9. Making the barren (one) of the house to sit a joyful mother 
of children. Hallelujah ! The common version (to keep house) 
is founded upon Ps. lxviii. 7 (6), but is here at variance both 
with Hebrew usage and the masoretic accents, which require 
(irnpjP) barren and (rrSlj) the house to be closely united in con- 
struction, as above. The form of expression is like one in Ps. 
lxviii. 13 (12.) To sit might be rendered to dwell without any 
material change of sense ; but the former keeps up the uniformity 
with vs. 5, 8, where the same Hebrew word is used. The his- 
torical allusion is to Hannah who, with other long childless 
mothers mentioned in the sacred history, was a type of the Church 
in its low estate, and more especially in exile. Compare Isai 
liv. 1. 



PSALM CXIV. 

As the preceding psalm encouraged the people of God, in a 
time of trial, by reminding them that, although infinitely exalted, 
he condescends to notice and relieve the sufferings of his crea- 
tures, so the one before us is intended to produce the same 
effect, by bringing to their recollection what he actually did for 
Israel in the period of the exodus from Egypt. By that deliver- 
ance he acknowledged Israel as his chosen people, vs. 1, 2, and 

attested the acknowledgment by miracle, vs. 3, 4. Nature her- 
vol. in. 6 



122 PSALM CXIV. 

self, whose course was interrupted, is appealed to as a witness, 
vs. 5, 6, that she is subject to the God of Israel, vs. 7, 8. There 
is no improbability in the opinion that this psalm, wi'tL those 
which immediately follow, was intended to continue the series 
begun in the two preceding trilogies (Ps. cviii — ex, cxi — cxiii), 
and intended to sustain the hopes of the Jewish Church after 
its return from Babylon. 

1. In the coming forth of Israel from Egypt, of the house of 
Jacob from a people of strange language. The first phrase is 
not to be restricted to the very act or moment of the exodus, but 
comjorehends the whole Mosaic period, of which this was the 
characteristic and critical event. The house of Jacob is a phrase 
peculiarly appropriate to those who entered Egypt as a family, and 
left it as a nation. Of strange language is a paraphrase of one 
Hebrew word, apparently a participle and occurring only here ; 
but according to its obvious etymological affinities, it probably 
means stammering , and then, by an association common in an- 
tiquity, speaking barbarously, i. e. in a foreign language. All 
such expressions may perhaps involve an allusion to the pre- 
eminence of Hebrew, as the primitive and sacred language. It 
was no small part of the humiliation to which Israel was sub- 
jected in Egypt, that the people of God should sustain for ages a 
relation of dependence to a nation who did not even speak the 

red language, much less profess the true religion, so insepar- 
ably blended with it. See above, on Ps. lxxxi. 6 (5), and com- 
pare my note on Isai. xxxiii. 19. 

2. Judah became his sanctuary, Israel his dominion. Judah is 
put as an equivalent to Israel, not only because it had really be- 
come so when the psalm was written, but because it was destined 
to become so from the first. See Gen. xlix. 10. Became, liter- 
ally, was for, which might mean nothing more than served as or 
was treated as ; but this construction of the verb to be with to or 



PSALM CXIV. 123 

for is the only representative in Hebrew of our word become. 
The sense thus obtained is entirely consistent with the calling 
of Abraham, because what is here meant is that Israel, as a na- 
tion, was now publicly declared to be the chosen or peculiar peo- 
ple, an idea expressed by the phrase his sanctuary or holy things 
i. e. something set apart exclusively to his use and service. The 
parallel word in the original is plural, dominions or domains^ in 
reference, as some suppose, to the plurality of tribes, but accord- 
ing to others, in contrast with the lordships and dominions of the 
world, to all which Israel, is described as more than equipollent, 
just as the infinite superiority of the true Grod to all false gods 
is expressed or suggested by the plural name Klohim. Here, as 
in Ps. Ixxxvii. 1 , the pronouns are without an antecedent in the 
senteo.ee. The reference to Glod is so self-evident, that the only 
question has respect to the unusual form, which some explain 
by supposing that the psalm was originally part of the preceding 
one, or at least designed to be always read or sung directly after 
it. The latest interpreters prefer the explanation, that the name 
of God was designedly suppressed, in order that the questions in 
vs. 5, 6, might appear more natural and yet more striking. 

3. The sea saw and fled — the Jordan tufns back. By suppos- 
ing the conversive prefix to affect both verbs, we may render the 
last also as a preterite, turned back. The historical allusion is to 
Ex. xiv. 21. Josh. iii. 14 — 17. At the same time, as seas and 
rivers are familiar emblems of the world and its nations, the remi- 
niscence is adapted to suggest the hope, that other seas and 
other rivers may be yet controlled by the same power. Sea 
above, on Ps. lxxvii. 17 (16.) xciii. 3. cvii. 23. 

4. The mountains skipped like rams, (the) hills like the young of 
sheep. As the Psalmist is reciting actual events, to be used as 
symbols and pledges of others, this cannot be expJained as a po- 
etical figure, but must be understood as referring to the concus- 



124 PSALM CXIV. 

sion of Sinai, with its various peaks and neighbouring mountains 
See Ex. xix. IS. Judg. v. 4. Ps. lxviii. 9 (8.) xcvii. 4, 5. Hab. 
iii. 6. Here again, the familiar use of mountains to denote states 
and empires is suggestive of the same consolation as in v. 3. 

5. What aileth thee, oh sea, that thou fieest — oh Jordan (that) 
thou turncst back ? By a fine poetical apostrophe, the Psalmist, 
instead of simply stating the cause of these effects, puts the 
question to the natural objects which thus wttnessed and attested 
the divine presence. The first phrase literally means, what (is) 
to thee, the nearest approach that the Semitic dialects can make 
to our expression, what have you, which in some languages, the 
French for instance, is the usual equivalent to what ails you ? 

6. Ye mountains, (that) ye skip like rams — ye hills, like the young 
of sheep ? The sentence is continued from the foregoing verse, 
being still dependent on the question there asked. In this in- 
terrogation the terms of vs. 3, 4, are studiously repeated. The 
young of sheep, literally, sons of the flock. 

7. From before the Lord tremble, oh earth, from before the God 
of Jacob. As in other cases of rhetorical interrogation, the 
writer or speaker answers his own question. The imperative 
mood is here peculiarly significant, including both a recollection 
and prediction ; as if he had said, the earth might well tremble at 
the presence of the Lord, and may well tremble at it still. From 
before is better than at the presence of , because the very form of the 
expression necessarily suggests the ideas of recoil and flight. 
Before is itself a compound term in Hebrew, meaning to the face 
of. The word translated Lord is the simple or primitive form of 
Adhonai, and is applied both to God and man, in the sense of 
lord or master. See Ex. xxiii. 17. Mai. iii. 1. 

8. Turning the rock (into) a pool of water, the flint to springs 



PSALM CXV. 125 

of water. This refers to the miraculous supply of water in the 
desert. See above, on Ps. cvii. 35, and compare Ex. xvii. 6. 
Num. xx. 11. Deut. viii.«15. xxxii. 13. Isai. xli. 18. The con- 
nection with the preceding verse is still more marked in the 
original, the first words of which strictly mean the (one) turning^ 
etc. The reader is left to draw for himself the natural and 
obvious conclusion, that the God, who thus drew water from a 
flinty rock for the supply of Israel, can still educe the richest 
blessings from what seem to be the hardest and most inauspicious 
situations. When this thought is supplied, the psalm no longer 
seems unfinished or abrupt in its conclusion. 



PSALM CXY. 

God is entreated by his people to vindicate not their honour 
but his own, vs. 1, 2, which is contrasted with the impotence of 
idols and their worshippers, vs. 3 — 8, and urged as a reason why 
his people should trust in him, for a large increase, vs. 9 — 15, 
and a fulfilment of his purpose to glorify himself by the praises of 
the living not the dead, vs. 16 — 17, in the promotion of whicn 
end the church declares her resolution to co-operate forever, 
v. 18. The general tenor of the psalm, thus stated, and its par- 
ticular contents, make it perfectly well suited to the state of 
things in which the series is supposed to have been written, 
namely,, that succeeding the return from exile, but before the 
actual rebuilding of the temple. 

1. Not unto ms, Jehovah, not unto us, but to thy name give 



126 PSALM CXV. 

glory, for thy mercy, for thy truth. The glory meant is not that 
of former but of future deeds. The implied petition is, that God 
would interpose for the deliverance of bis people, not to do them 
honour but to glorify himself, and especially to vindicate his 
mercy and fidelity, which seemed to be dishonoured by his de- 
sertion of the chosen people. See above, on Ps. lxxix. 9, and 
compare Num. xiv. 15.1sai. xliii. 7, 25. xlviii. 9, 11. Dan. ix. IS. 
The favour sought is the completion of the work of restoration, 
still imperfect, though auspiciously begun. 

2. Wliy should the nations say, Where now is their God? 
Why should they have occasion so to ask ? The form of expres- 
sion is borrowed from Ps. lxxix. 10, with the addition of (w) now, 
which is not a particle of timo, but of entreaty, or, in this con- 
nection, of triumphant demand. Where, pray, is their God? 
This verse is explanatory of the one before it, by showing that 
there really was need of something to silence the reproaches of 
the heathen, a description exactly corresponding to the state of 
the Jews at the Restoration. 

3. And our God (is) in heaven; all that he pleased he has done. 
The and, though foreign from our idiom, adds sensibly to the 
force of the expression. They ask thus, as if our God were ab- 
sent or had no existence ; and yet all the while our God is in 
heaven, in his glorious and exalted dwelling-place. Compare Ps. 
iff 4. xi. 4. ciii. 19. The same phrase, but in the future tense, 
is used by Solomon (Ecc. viii. 3.) The same idea is expressed 
in other words, Gen. xviii. 14. Job. xxiii. 13. 

4. Their idols (are) silver and gold, the work of the hands of 
man. Here begins the contrast between the true God and all 
others. Their idols, those of the Gentiles, who reproach us with 
the absence or indifference of our God. For the associations 
coupled with the word for idols, sec above, on Ps. cvi. 38 



PSALM CXV. 127 

Hands of man, not of a man, but of mankind, i. e. human hands. 
With this whole passage compare Isai. xl. 18 — 20. xli. 7. xliv. 
9—20. xlvi. 5—7. Jer. ii. 28. x. 3—15. 

5. They have a mouth and speak not ; they have eyes and see not 
As the verb to have is wanting in the Hebrew and its cognate 
languages (sec above, on Ps. cxiv. 5), it is not a literal transla- 
tion of the original expression, (there is) a mouth to them, (there 
are) eyes to them. The futures include not only a simple affirm- 
ation, they speak not, they see not, but the future and potential 
sense, they never will or can speak or see. 

6. They have ears and hear not, they have a nose and smell not. 
The antithesis is that expressed in Ps. xciv. 9, that God is the 
former of the eye and the planter of the ear in man ; much more 
then can he see and hear himself. 

7. They liave hands and feel not ; they have feet and walk not ; 
they do not mutter in their throat. The sameness of this long 
enumeration, the force of which is logical and not poetical, is 
partially relieved by a change in the form of the original, which 
cannot well be imitated in translation. Their hands, and they 
fed not ; their feet, and they walk not. Some make the first 
words in each clause nominatives absolute ; their hands — they feel 
not; their feet — they walk not. But in the preceding parts of 
the description, the verbs relate not to the particular members, 
but to the whole person. It is better, therefore, to supply a 
verb — their hands (are there) and (yet) they feel not — their feet 
(are there) and (yet) they go not. The English feel is to be 
taken in its physical and outward sense, corresponding to the 
Latin palpo, here used by the Vulgate and Jerome. A le.s.s 
equivocal translation would be touch. The other verb denotes all 
progressive movements of the body, comprehended in the English 
go. See above, on Ps. civ. 3. The meaning of the last clause 



128 PSALM CXV. 

is, that they cannot even make the faintest and most inarticulate 
guttural noise, like the lower animals ; much less speak as men 
do. See above, on Ps. xxxv. 28. lxxi. 24. 

8. Like them shall be those who make them, every one who trusts 
in them. The last clause forbids the application of the first to the 
mere artificers, as such, and fastens it on those who trust in idols, 
whether made by them or by others for them. However formi- 
dable now, they shall hereafter be as powerless and senseless as 
the gods they worship. The translation are is contrary to Hebrew 
usage, which requires the present tense of the substantive verb 
to be suppressed. 

9. Oh Israel, trust thou in Jehovah ; their help and their shield 
(is) He. Thi3 is the practical application of the contrast just 
presented. Since idols are impotent and God almighty, it is 
folly to fear them or their servants ; it is worse than folly not to 
trust in Him. The last clause is borrowed from Ps. xxxiii. 20. 
After addressing Israel directly in the first clause, he resumes 
the third person in the second, and, as if speaking to himself, 
assigns the reason for the exhortation. The first clause is, as it 
were, uttered in a loud voice, and the second in a low one. 

10. Oh house of Aaron, trust ye in Jehovah ; their help and 
their shield (is) He. Before the exile this particular address to 
the priests would have been surprising. It is perfectly natural, 
however, after the return from Babylon, when the priests bore 
so large a proportion, not only to the other levites, but to the 
whole nation, and naturally exercised a paramount influence in 
its affairs. 

11. Fearers of Jehovah, trust ye in Jehovah; their help and 
their shield (is) He. He turns again to the people at large, who 
are here described as fearers of Jehovah, not in reference to the 



PSALM CXV. 129 

actual character of al] the individual members, but to the high 
vocation of the body. See above, Ps. xxii. 24 (23.) cxi. 5. 

12. Jehovah hath remembered us ; he will bless, he will bless tJie 
house of Israel ; he will bless the house of Aaron. The exhorta- 
tion to confide in God does not imply that he has yet done nothing. 
He has already shown his gracious recollection of us by beginning 
to bless us, and he will still go on to bless us ; an idea simply but 
beautifully expressed by the repetition of 4he verb, the effect of 
which is spoiled in the common version by needlessly supplying us. 

13. He will bless the fearers of Jehovah, the small with the 
great. There is no need of explaining the great to be the priests 
and the small the laity. It is much more natural to understand 
this as an instance of a common Hebrew idiom, which combines 
small and great in the sense of all, just as neither good nor evil 
means neither one thing nor another, i. e. nothing. Compare 
2 Kings xviii. 24. Jer. xvi. 6. Rev. xiii. IS. xix. 6. 

14. May Jehovah add to you, to you and to your children ! This 
implies a previous diminution of the people, such as really took 
place in the Babylonish exile. The optative meaning of the 
verb, both here and in Gen. xxx. 24, is clear from Deut.. i. 11. 
2. Sam. xxiv. 3. The Hebrew preposition strictly means upon 
you, and conveys the idea of accumulation much more stroD^ly. 
See above, on Ps. lxxi. 14, where we have an example of the 
same construction. 

15. Blessed are ye of Jehovah, Maker of heaven and earth. Ye 
are the people blessed of old in the person of your father Abra- 
ham, by Melchizedek, priest of the Most High God, saying, 
" Blessed be Abraham of the Most High God, creator of heaven 
and earth," Gen. xiv. 19. Of Jehovah, literally, to Jehovah, as 
an object of benediction to him. Or the Hebrew preposition, as 



130 PSALM CXV. 

in many other cases, may be simply equivalent to our by. The 
creative character of God is mentioned, as ensuring his ability, 
no less than his willingness, to bless his people. 

16. The heavens (are) heavens for Jehovah, anal the earth he has 
given to the sons of man. This verse suggests another reason 
why God would increase them, namely, that although he reserved 
heaven for himself, he designed the earth to be filled and occu- 
pied by man, and he'nee in the primeval blessing on mankind, 
as originally uttered, and as repeated after the flood (Gen i. 28. 
ix. 1), the command to increase is coupled with that to fill the 
earth. Now if it is not God's will that the race should be diminished 
and reduced to nothing, much less can such be his intention 
with respect to his own people. The form of expression in the 
first clause is unusual. The construction eiven in the English 
Bible (the heaven, even the heavens, are the Lordh) is entirely 
gratuitous, the distinction of numbers (heaven, heavens), and the 
emphatic even, being - both supplied by the translators. The 
Hebrew word is plural in both cases, and is indeed used only in 
that number. 

17. (It is) not the dead (that) are to praise Jah, and not all 
(those) going down to silence. This may be regarded as a further 
reason for expecting the divine protection. God has chosen a 
people, from among the nations of the earth, to praise him, not 
when dead but living, not in the silence of the grave, but with their 
voices in the present life. Thus understood, the verse teaches no- 
thing as to the employments of the disembodied spirit, or of soul 
and body in the future state. All that is affirmed here (and per- 
haps in other places like it) is that the praises of the chosen 
people, as such, must be limited to this life. See above, on Ps. 
vi. 6 (5.) xxx. 10 (9.) lxxxviii. 11 — 13 (10 — 12), and compare 
Isai. xxxviii. IS. Silence, a poetical description of the grave or 
the unseen world, as in Ps. xciv. 17, 



PSALM CXVI. 131 

18. And (therefore) ice will hless Jah from now even to 
eternity. Hallelujah ! As it is not the dead who are to do it, 
and as we are still preserved alive, let us answer our vocation and 
the very end of our existence. The insensible transition from 
temporal to eternal praise is altogether natural. The hallelujah 
refers back to the expression praise Jah (yehallelujah) in v. 17. 
As if he had said : let us do what the dead can not, shout Halle- 
lujah ! 



PSALM CXVI. 

The Church declares her resolution to praise Jehovah for 
the deliverance which she has experienced, vs. 1, 2, and which is 
then described with some particularity, vs. 3 — 10, followed by 
a declaration of the way in which the Church means to express 
her gratitude, vs. 11 — 19. The Septuagint and Vulgate, which 
combine the two preceding psalms as one, divide the one before 
us into two, with as little reason in the one case as the other. 
The state of things referred to in this psalm, as one of mingled 
joy and grief, and its peculiarities of language, all combine to fix 
its date immediately after the return from Babylon. 

1. I love — because Jehovah hears my voice, my supplications. 
The common version gives the sense correctly, but by a transpo- 
sition of Jehovah, avoids the singular peculiarity of form in the 
original. The object of the verb J love is easily supplied from 
the remainder of the sentence. Compare Ps. xviii. 2 (1.) Deut. 
vi. 5. Both verbs may be translated in the present, though of 
different tenses in the Hebrew. The preterite form of the first 



132 PSALM CXVI. 

(I have loved) implies that the occasion had already been afforded ; 
the future form of the second (he will hea?-), that it was con- 
tinued and would be continued. The last word, according to its 
etymology, means prayers for grace or favour. 

2. For he has inclined his ear to me, and in my days I will call 
(upon him.) The original idea of the figure in the first clause 
seems to be that of leaning- forward to catch a sound otherwise 
too faint to be distinctly audible. See above, on Ps. xxxi. 3 (2), 
and compare Ps. xvii. 6. lxxi. 2. Ixxviii. 1. cii. 3. In my days 
is commonly understood to mean through all the days of my life, 
or as long as I live. Compare Isai. xxxix. 8, and see above, on 
Ps. civ. 33. 1 will call might be understood to mean, I will still 
pray to him who has hitherto answered my petitions. But to call 
upon God is applied not only to prayer but to thanksgiving, as 
appears from v. 13 below, where indeed we have the execution 
of the purpose here avowed. 

3. The bands of death enclosed me, and the pangs of hell found 
me ; distress and grief I find. Here begins the description of 
the sufferings from which God had delivered him. The expres- 
sions are borrowed from Ps. xviii. 5, 6, (4, 5.) The twofold use 
of the \evhfind in this verse is analogous to that of the synony- 
mous verbs catch and seize in English, when a man is said to 
catch a disease, and the disease is said to seize the man. Com- 
pare Ps. cxix. 143 with Prov. vi. 33. Hell, in the wide sense 
corresponding to sJieol, the grave, death, or the state of the dead. 
See above, on Ps. vi. 6 (5.) 

4. And on the name of Jehovah I call : ah now, Jehovah, de- 
liver my soul ! The future in the first clause may be strictly 
translated (1 will call) as expressing the determination which he 
formed in the midst of his distress. See above, on Ps. xviii. 5, 7 
(4, 6.) Ah now corresponds exactly, both in origin and mean- 



PSALM CXVI. 133 

ing, to the intensive particle of entreaty (nii* for mjm from fia 
and &0) which the common version paraphrases, I beseech thee. 
One of the elements of which it is compounded occurs above, 
Ps. cxv. 2. 

5. Gracious (is) Jehovah and righteous, and our God shotvs 
pity. With the first clause compare Ps. cxi. 4. cxii. 4. The 
last word in Hebrew is the active participle of the verb to pity, 
to compassionate, and is here used to denote a habit as distinguished 
from a momentary feeling. 

6. A preserver of the simple (is) Jehovah; I was brought low, 
and to me he brought salvation. Here again the first word is an 
active participle, keeping the simple, i. e. habitually watching over 
them. For the meaning of the simple, see above, on Ps. xix. 
g (7.) The word brought, twice used in translating this verse, 
has nothing distinctly corresponding to it in the Hebrew, but by 
a fortuitous coincidence, enters into two English phrases, by 
which the original verbs may best be represented. The verb 
translated brought low means to be reduced, in person, strength, 
or circumstances. See above, on Ps. lxxix. 8, and compare the 
cognate adjective in Ps. xli. 2 (1.) The other is the common 
Hebrew verb to save, here expressed by a circumlocution, for 
the purpose of retaining the original construction with the prepo- 
sition to, which also occurs above, Ps. lxxii. 4. lxxxvi. 16. 

7. Return, oh my soul, unto thy rest, for Jehovah hath bestowed 
upon thee (favour.) By calling on his soul, which had been agi- 
tated and alarmed, to return to its repose, he implies the cessation 
of the danger. Rest, literally, rests or resting-places, implying 
fulness or completeness of repose. See above, on Ps. xxiii. 2. 
For the sense and usage of (bw) the last verb, see above, on Ps. 
xiii. 6 (5), and compare Ps. vii. 5 (4.) ciii. 10. The unusual gram- 
matical forms in this verse are similar to those in Ps. ciii. 2, 5. 



134 PSALM CXVI. 

S. For thou hast delivered my soul from death, my eye from 
weeping, my foot from falling. By a sudden apostrophe, God is 
now addressed directly. The first and last members of the 
sentence are borrowed from Ps. lvi. 14 (13.) The second bears 
some resemblance to Ps. lvi. 9 (8) and Jer. xxxi. 16. 

9.. I will walk before Jehovah in the land of life (or of the liv- 
ing.) This is also borrowed from Ps. lvi. 14 (13), with the 
substitution of land (literally lands) for light. Compare Ps. 
xxvii. 13. The hope here expressed is in contrast with Ps. 
cxv. 17. 

10. I believed, for (thus) I speak; I urns afflicted greatly. I 
must have exercised faith, or I could not thus have spoken. The 
Septuagint version, retained in the New Testament (2 Cor. iv. 13), 
clothes the same ess*jntial meaning in a different form, I believed, 
therefore have I sfcHen. It was because his faith enabled him to 
speak, so that his ipeaking was a proof of faith. 

11. I said in wy terror, All mankind {are) false. The form of 
expression in tVj first clause is borrowed from Ps. xxxi. 23 (22.) 
But instead of being a confession of error it is here rather a 
profession of faith. Even in the midst of his excitement, terror, 
panic, he could turn away from all human aid and trust in God 
alone. The proposition, all mankind are false, i. e. not to be 
trusted or relied upon, implies as its complement or converse, 
therefore God alone is to be trusted. See the same contrast 
stated more explicitly in Ps. cxviii. 8, and compare Ps. lxii. 
9, 10 (S, 9.) cviii. 13 (12.) cxlvi. 3, 4. 

12. How shall I requite to Jehovah all his bestowments upon me. 
Between this verse and that before it, we must supply the thought 
that his faith was rewarded and justified by the event. This is 
indeed implied in the interrogation now before us. IIoiv, liter- 



PSALM CX VI. 135 

ally what, i. e. (in) what (way)) or (by) what (?}ieans) ? See Gen. 
xliv. 16. The unusual word bestowments is here used to repre- 
sent a Hebrew one occurring only here, but evidently formed 
from the verb (bfc|) to confer or bestow upon, employed in v. 7 
above. The peculiar form both of the noun and pronoun 
(^rn^teJft) is regarded by the highest philological authorities as 
fixing the date of the composition after the Captivity. 

13. The cup of salvations I will take up, and on the name of 
Jehovah will call. This is commonly explained by a reference to 
the Jewish tradition of a cup of thanksgiving which accompanied 
or followed the thank-offerings. But we read of no such cup in 
Scripture, and its origin may probably be traced to the rabbinical 
interpretation of this very passage. Interpreted by Scriptural 
analogies it simply means, I will accept the portion God allots 
me. For this figurative use of cup, see above, on Ps. xi. 6. 
xvi. 5. The plural form, salvations, denotes fulness or complete- 
ness, as in Ps. xviii. 52 (51.) liii. 7 (6.) Take up, as if from the 
table where the hand of God has placed it ; or lift zip, towards 
heaven, as a gesture of acknowledgment. 

14. My voids to Jehovah will I pay — in the presence of all his 
people. The word now, in the common version, misleads the 
English reader, who can scarcely fail to understand it as an ad- 
verb of time, meaning at present, immediately, without delay, 
whereas it is the particle of entreaty (*e) used in Ps. cxv. 2, and 
here employed to modify the bold avowal of a purpose, by making 
it dependent on divine permission. As if he had said: my vows 
to Jehovah I will pay — let me do it in the presence (I entreat) of 
all his people. The same meaning is attached by some to the 
augmented or paragogic form of the word translated presence, and 
which strictly means the front or forepart. Both these peculi- 
arities are reckoned among the indications of a later age of He 
brew composition. 



136 PSALM CXVI. 

15. Precious in the eyes of Jehovah (is) the death of his gracious 
ones (or saints.) The idea and expression are borrowed from 
Ps. lxxii. 14, where the same thing is said of their blood. The 
word for death has the same peculiarity of form as that for 
presence in v. 14, and is construed in the same way with the 
preposition to, the death to his saints, i. e. the death belonging to 
them, which they die. These are regarded by the critics as 
additional tokens of the age in which the psalm was written. 
The verse assigns the reason for the preceding vow, to wit, that 
God counts the death of his people too costly to be lightly or 
gratuitously suffered. 

16. Ah now Jehovah— for I (am) thy servant, I (am) thy ser- 
vant, the son of thy handmaid ; thou hast loosed my bonds. The 
expression of entreaty at the beginning has reference to some 
thing not expressed, though easily supplied, namely permission 
thus to testify his gratitude. Ah now Lord (suffer me thus to 
do) for I am thy servant, etc. . The additional phrase, son of 
thy handmaid, is much stronger than thy servant, and describes 
him as' a home-born slave. See above, on Ps. lxxxvi. 16. In 
the last clause we have another instance of a preposition (b) in- 
terposed between the active verb and its object, in a way un- 
known to the older Hebrew. It is possible, however, to translate 
the words, thou hast freed (me) as to (i. e. from J my bonds. 

17. To thee will I sacrifice a sacrifice of thanks, and on the 
name of Jehovah will I call. The sense is not, I will offer thanks 
instead of an oblation, but an oblation really expressive of thanks- 
giving and appointed for that purpose. 

IS. My vows to Jehovah will I pay in the presence (I entreat; 
of all his people. An exact repetition of v. 14, with all its singu- 
larities of form. . 



PSALM CXVII. 137 

19. In the courts of the house of Jehovah, in the midst of thee, 
Jerusalem. Hallelujah ! This verse completes the one before it, 
and explains the phrase, before all his people. Some regard it as 
a proof that the psalm was composed after the actual rebuilding 
of the temple. But in Ezr. ii. 68. iii. 8, we find the designa- 
tion house of God applied to the consecrated site. The use of the 
word courts is still more natural, because it originally means enclos- 
ures, which might be and no doubt were defined, long before the 
temple was rebuilt. This explanation seems to be confirmed by 
the addition of the last clause. In the courts of the Lord's 
house, that is, on the consecrated spot in the midst of thee, oh 
Jerusalem, the Holy City. 



PSALM CXVII. 

This, which is the shortest psalm in the collection, has evi- 
dently no independent character or even meaning of its own, but 
was designed to be a chorus or doxology to a longer composition. 
Its position is sufficiently accounted for by the assumption, that 
it was primarily meant to serve the purpose just described with 
reference to the psalm or to the trilogy immediately preceding ; 
while its being separately written as an independent psalm may 
have arisen from the purpose to use it sometimes in a differ- 
ent connection, with which view it would naturally be left move- 
able, like the doxologies in our modern books, which may be 
attached to any psalm or hymn, at the discretion of the person 
who conducts the service. 

1. Praise Jehovah, all ye nations ; laud him all ye peoples. 



138 PSALM CXVIII. 

The last word is a different plural form from that in Gen. xxv. 1(5 
Num. xxv. 15, and belongs no doubt to the later Hebrew. Here, 

'CD J 

as in Ps. xlvii. 2 (l.J lxvi. S. xcviii. 4. the whole world is invited 
to praise God for his favours shown to Israel. 

2. For mighty over us has been his mercy, and the truth of Je- 
hovah (is) to eternity. Hallelujah ! The verb at the beginning 
means not merely to be great, but te be strong or powerful. See 
above, on Ps. ciii. 11. The preposition over suggests the idea 
of protection, or, if translated o?i, that of favour descending from 
above. 



PSALM CXVIII. 

After an invitation to praise God for his goodness to his 
people, vs. 1 — 4, the occasion of this praise is more particularly 
stated, namely, that he has delivered Israel from great distress, and 
thereby proved himself worthy of their highest confidence, vs. 
5 — 14. After another statement of the favour just experienced, 
vs. 15 — 18, the people are described as entering the sanctuary, 
there to give thanks and implore the divine blessing on the 
enterprise in which they arc engaged, vs. 19 — 29. The ideal 
speaker, throughout the psalm, is Israel, as the Church or chosen 
people. The deliverance celebrated cannot be identified with any 
one so naturally as with that from the Babylonish exile. Some, on 
account of supposed allusions to the temple as already built, refer 
the psalm to the times of Nehemiah. Others, with more proba- 
bility, though not with absolute conclusiveness, infer from the 



PSALM CXVIIi: 139 

tone of lively joy and thankfulness, pervading the whole composi- 
tion, that it was written and originally sung soon after the return ; 
and from the allusions in vs. 22, 25, that it has reference to the 
founding of the second temple, and is the very psalm, or one of 
the psalms, mentioned in the history, Ezra iii. 10, 11, where its 
first and last words are recited. The mention of David in that 
passage is accounted for by the assumption that this psalm was 
sung only as a part of the whole series, which opens with a 
Davidic trilogy, Ps. cviii — ex. 

1. Give thanks unto Jehovah, for {he is) good, for unto 
demity (is) his mercy. The opening formula is common to this 
psalm with Ps. cvi and cvii. Its elements are also found, 
combined with others, in Ps. c. 4, 5. With the second member 
of the sentence compare Ps. xxv. 8. lxxiii. 1. 

2. Oh that Israel would say — for unto eternity (is) his mercy. 
Th& first clause of this translation is a paraphrase of the original, 
to which the particle of entreaty (&o) gives a strong optative 
meaning. Here, as :'n Ps- cxvi. 14, 18, the common version 
(now) is equivocal. That version also has that instead of for, in 
the last clause of this and the two next verses. This translation 
is perfectly grammatical, and makes the sentence more complete 
in itself. But besides that it breaks the studied uniformity of the 
context by varying the version of the particle (^3), the depen- 
dence of the clause on the preceding verse, required and denoted 
by the use of the word for, is really essential to the writer's 
object. It is as if he had said: the reason for thus urging 
man to praise Jehovah is because his mercy endureth forever, 
and oh that Israel would join in affirming this reason. Oh thai 
Israel would say (I will give thanks) for his mercy endureth 
forever. 



, 4. Oh that the house of Aaron would say — 'for unto eterni?% 



140 TSALM CXVIII. 

(is) his mercy.' 9 Oh that the fearers of Jehovah would say — l for 
unto eternity (is) his mercy.'' The succession of Israel, the house 
of Aaron, and the fearers of Jehovah, in this and the following 
verses, is the same as in Ps. cxv. 9 — 11. This and the trine 
repetitions in vs. 10 — 12, 15 — 16, compared with that in Ps. 
cxv. 12 — 13, are corroborations of the assumed affinity between 
the psalms of this whole series, both in origin and purpose. 

5. Out of anguish I invoked Jah; heard me in a wide place 
Jah. The first noun is a rare one, common to this place and Ps. 
cxvi. 3, another indication of affinity. Heard, in the pregnant 
sense of heard favourably, heard and answered. See above, on 
Ps. xxii. 22 (21.) As the word translated anguish originally 
means pressure, confinement, the appropriate figure for relief from 
it is a wide room, ample space, enlargement. See above, on Ps. 
iv. 2 (1.) To answer in a wide place is to grant his prayer by 
bringing him forth into such a place. 

6. Jehovah (is) for me ; I will not fear ; what can man do to 
me ? Instead of for me, i. e. in my favour, on my side, the 
Hebrew (*c) may also be translated to me, i. e. is or belongs to 
me, is mine. See above, on Ps. lvi. 5, 10, 12 (4,9, 11.) Man 
does not here mean a man, but mankind, or Man as opposed to 
God. 

7. Jehovah is for me, among my helpers, and I shall look upon 
my haters. Here again, the first clause may be rendered, Jehovah 
is to me (or I have Jehovah) among or with my helpers. With 
this last expression compare Ps. xlv. 10 (9.) xcix. 6. The 
construction in the last clause is the idiomatic one meaning to see 
with joy or triumph, or to see their punishment and subjugation. 
See above, on Ps. liv. 9 (7), and with the whole verse compare 
Ps. liv. 6 (4.) As the ideal speaker is the ancient church or 



PSALM CXVIII, 141 

chosen people, the haterg or enemies here meant arc primarily 
heathen persecutors and oppressors. 

8. It is good to confide in Jehovah (more) than to trust in man. 
This and the next verse affirm clearly and fully what is more 
obscurely intimated in Ps. cxvi. 11. As the Hebrew has no 
distinct form of comparison, this is the nearest possible approach 
to saying, it is better. Than, literally from, away from, implying 
difference, and then comparison, but not expressing it. The verb 
confide is the expressive one originally meaning to take refuge or 
find shelter. See above, on Ps. ii : 12. 



'•> 



9. It is good to confide in Jehovah (more) than to trust in nobles. 
This merely strengthens the foregoing declaration, by rendering it 
more specific and emphatic. The Lord is more to be confided in, 
not merely than the mass of men, but than their chiefs. Nobles 
is a better translation than princes, because it keeps up the asso- 
ciation with the adjective sense noble, generous, liberal, spontane- 
ous, which is otherwise lost sight of. See above, on Ps. Ii. 14 (12.) 
Even the Persian patrons and protectors of the Jews had not 
entirely deserved their confidence ; nor at all, in comparison 
with Jehovah their covenanted God. 

10. All the nations surround me ; in the name of Jehovah — that 
I will cut them off. The hyperbolical expression, all the nations, 
is less strange than it might otherwise appear because (E^i-j) 
nations had now begun to be familiarly applied to the gentiles or 
heathen, not as organized bodies merely, but as individuals, 
especially when numerous. ' There is nothing unnatural, there- 
fore, in the use of this expression to describe the heathen adver- 
saries of the Jews at the period of the Restoration, not excepting 
the Samaritans, who, though they claimed to be a mixed race, 
were really heathen, both in origin and character. Another 
way in which the hyperbole may be explained, or rather done 



142 PSALM CXVIII. 

away, is by supposing the first clause to be substantially al- 
though not formally conditional. Should, all nations (or though 
all nations should) surround me. The strongest sense may 
then be put upon the words all nations, as the act ascribed 
to them is merely hypothetical. The construction of the last 
clause is unusual and doubtful. Some arbitrarily make the 
^3 a particle of affirmation, yea, yes, verily, etc. Others gain 
the same sense by explaining the whole phrase to mean, (it 
is true, or it is certain) that I will cut them off. The same use 
of the particle is thought to be exemplified in Isai. vii. 9. Per- 
haps the best solution is the one afforded by the Hebrew usage of 
suppressing the principal verb in oaths or solemn affirmations. 
If this may be omitted even when there is nothing to denote the 
character of the expression, and when .the form of the expression 
itself is liable to misconstruction, as for instance in the formula with 
if, much more may it be omitted where the sense of the expression 
is quite clear, and its juratory or imprecatory character denoted by 
accompanying words. The sense will then be, in the name of Je- 
hovah (I swear or solemnly affirm) that I will cut them off. This 
last verb always means to cut, and except in Ps. xc. 6, where one 
of its derived forms is used, to circumcise. It was here used, as some 
suppose, to suggest that the uncircumcised enemies of Israel, as they 
are often called, should be cut or cut off in another sense. Com- 
pare the play upon the corresponding Greek words in Phil. iii. 2, 3. 

11. They surround me, yea they surround me ; in the name of 
Jehovah (I declare) that I will cut them off. The same sentence 
is repeated with a slight variation, which consists in the omission 
of the subject and the iteration of the verb, rendered more em- 
phatic by a change of form. The word translated yea means 
also, likewise, but cannot be so used in the English idiom. The 
climax indicated may be, that the act described is no longer 
hypothetical but actual. They surround me, yes, they really, in 
fact, surround me. 



PSALM CXVIII. 143 

12. They surround me like bees ; they are quenched as a fire of 
thorns ; in the name of Jehovah (I declare) that I will cut them 
off. This completes the trine repetition so characteristic of these 
psalms. The point of comparison with bees is their swarm ino- 
multitude and irritating stings. Compare Deut. i. 44. That 
with thorns is the rapidity and ease with which they are both 
kindled and extinguished. See above, on Ps. lviii. 10 (9.) 

13. Thou didst thrust, thrust at me, to (make me) fall, and 
Jehovah helped me. By a lively apostrophe, the enemy is here 
addressed directly, that is, the hostile heathen power, from whose 
oppressions Israel had just been rescued. See above, on v. 7. 
The verb to thrust or strike at is the root of the noun translated 
falling in Ps. lvi. 14 (13.) cxvi. 8. 

14. My strength and song (is) Jah, and he has become my sal- 
vation. These words are from Ex. xv. 2. The first clause is 
also borrowed by Isaiah (xii. 2.) My strength and song, my 
protection or deliverer, and as such the object of my praise. 
Become my salvation, literally, has been to me for salvation, a 
stronger though synonymous expression for my saviour. 

15. The voice of joy and salvation in the tents of the righteous— 
the right hand of Jehovah has made strength. The word trans- 
lated joy means properly the audible expression of it by shout or 
song, and is sometimes applied even to a cry of distress. Com 
pare Ps. xxx. 6 (5.) xlii. 5 (4.) xlvii. 2 (1) with Ps. xvii. l.lxi. 
2 (1.) Joy and salvation are related as cause and effect, joy oc- 
casioned by salvation. Tents, a poetical expression for dwellings. 
See above, on Ps. xci. 10. The righteous, the true Israel, the 
people of God, as such considered. See above, on Ps. xxxiii. 1. 
The substantive verb (is) may be supplied in this verse, so as to 
make it a complete proposition ; or it may be a kind of exclama- 
tion, as if he had said, Hark ! the voice of joy, etc. Compare 



144 PSALM CXVIII. 

Isai. xl. 3, 6. The last clause may then be understood as con- 
taining the words uttered by the voice. The idiomatic phrase 
at the end may either mean that God has acquired or exerted 
strength. See above, on Ps. lx. 14 (12.) cviii. 14. 

16. The right hand of Jehovah is raised, the right hand of Je- 
hovah makes strength. This, with the last clause of v. 15, 
makes another of the triplets or trine repetitions, which are 
characteristic of these psalms. See above, on vs. 2 — 4, 10 — 12. 
Instead of is raised some read raises or exalts, which is equally 
grammatical, as the active and passive forms in this case are co- 
incident. The meaning then is, that his right hand raises or 
exalts his people, as the other clause says that his right hand 
gains or exercises strength in their behalf. It seems more na- 
tural, however, to explain it as an instance of a common figure 
which describes Grod's hand as raised, when he exerts his power. 

17. i" shall not die hut live, and recount the works of Jah. The 
existence thus to be preserved is that of Israel, and the last clause 
describes the final cause of that existence, which is here stated as 
a ground of confidence, and is elsewhere urged as an argument 
in prayer. See above, on Ps. cxv. 17. cxvi. 9, 15, and compare 
Ps. lxxi. 20. The original construction of the first clause is, I 
shall not die, for I shall live. 

18. Sorely has Jah chastened me, but to death did not give me. 
This verse, though simple in its structure and transparent in its 
meaning, is highly idiomatic in its form. The adverb used in 
the translation represents the emphatic repetition of tne verb in 
Hebrew, which is sometimes imitated in the English Bible 
{chastening has Jah chastened me), but seldom so as to convey the 
whole idea. Of such a repetition we have had an instance in v. 13. 
Another unavoidable departure from the original form consists 
in using hut for and, at the beginning of the second clause. Did 



PSALM CXVIII. 



i45 



not give, give up, give over or abandon. The- chastisement here 
mentioned must be the calamity from which the people had 
been recently delivered, and in which we have already seen good 
grounds to recognize the Babylonish conquest, domination and 
captivity. 

19. Open ye to me the gates of righteousness, I will come in by 
them, I will thank Jah. This may have been intended to ac- 
company the entrance of the priests and people into the sacred 
enclosure, for the purpose of laying the foundation of the temple, 
as when David pitched the tabernacle on Mount Zion. See 
above, on Ps. xxiv. 

20. This (is) the gate (that belongs) to Jehovah ; the righteous 
shall come in by it. Or the meaning may be, since this is the 
Lord's gate, let the righteous (and no others) enter at it. Many 
interpreters find obvious indications here of double or responsive 
choirs, by which the psalm was to be sung. But this, though 
possible, is not a necessary supposition, nor is there any certain 
trace of such a usage or arrangement elsewhere in the book of 
Psalms. See above, vol. i. pp. 198, 200, 203. 

21. I will thank thee, for thou hast answered me, and hast be- 
come my salvation. This verse assigns the reason for their 
entrance. Answered, in the specific sense of answering or grant- 
ing prayer. See above, on v. 5. The last clause is from v. 14. 

22. The stone fwhichj the builders rejected has become the head 
of the corner. This is a proverbial expression, and as such ap- 
plicable to any case, in which what seemed to be contemptible 
has come to honour. This mode of expressing the idea was 
most probably suggested by the founding of the temple. There 
is no need, however, of supposing any actual dispute among the 

Jewish builders in relation to the corner stone of the sacred edi- 
vol. in. 7 



146 PSALM CXVIII. 

fice. The sight of the stone, or the act of laying it, would be 
sufficient to suggest the proverb and its application to the happy- 
change experienced by Israel, so lately blotted from the list of 
nations, and regarded by the heathen as unworthy even of an 
humble place in the proud fabric of consolidated empire, but now 
restored not only to a place but to the highest place among the 
nations, not in point of power, wealth, or worldly glory, but as 
the chosen and peculiar people of the Most High God. As this 
psalm was sung by the people at the last Jewish festival attended 
by our Saviour, he applied this proverb to himself, as one rejected 
by the Jews and by their rulers, yet before long to be recognized 
as their Messiah whom they had denied and murdered, but whom 
God had exalted as a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance 
to Israel and remission of sins (Acts v. 31.) This, though really 
another application of the proverb in its general meaning, has a 
certain affinity with its original application in the verse before us, 
because the fortunes of the ancient Israel, especially in reference 
to great conjunctures, bore a designed resemblance to the history 
of Christ himself, by a kind of sympathy between the Body and the 
Head. Even the temple, which suggested the original expression, 
did but teach the doctrine of divine inhabitation, and was therefore 
superseded by the advent of the Son himself. The head of the 
corner means the chief or corner stone of the foundation, even in 
Zech. iv. 7, where it is translated headstone. The application of 
the verse before us made by Christ himself (Matt. xxi. 42) is re- 
newed by Peter (Acts iv. 11.) 

* 

23. From Jehovah is this ; it is wonderfully done in our eyes. 
This signal revolution in the condition of the chosen people is not 
the work of man but of God. From the Lord, i. e. proceeding 
from him as its author. Is this, literally, has been, i. e. happened, 
come to pass. In the last clause it is said to be not merely won- 
derful, but wonderfully done, the Hebrew word being a passive 
participle, which strictly means distinguished, made tc differ, 



PSALM CXVIII. 147 

made strange, strangely done. Its plural is continually used as a 
noun in application to Gl od's wondrous works or doings. This, no 
less than the proverb to which it is attached, was as appropriate 
to the case of the Messiah as to that of his people, and is accord- 
ingly applied in the same manner by himself (Matt. xxi. 42.) 

24. This is the day Jehovah has made, we will rejoice and tri- 
umph in it. By the day we are here to understand the happier 
times which Israel, through God's grace, was permitted to enjoy. 
This day he is said, as the author of this blessed revolution, to 
have made, created. Some understand by day the festival or 
celebration, at which the psalm was intended to be sung. The 
day, in this sense, God is said to have made or instituted, not so 
much by positive appointment as by having providentially afforded 
the occasion for it. In a still higher sense, the words may be ap- 
plied to the new dispensation, as a glorious change in the condi- 
tion of the church, compared with which the restoration from 
c^Qelvity was nothing, except as a preliminary to it and a prepa- 
ration for it. There is no allusion to the weekly Sabbath, except 
so far as it was meant to be a type of the rest of the church from 
the heavy burdens of the old dispensation. 

25. Ah now, Jehovah, save, we beseech thee ! Ah now, Jehovah, 
prosper, we beseech thee ! The circumlocution, we beseech thee, is 
the only form in which the force of the supplicatory particle (^ 
can be expressed, without the risk of its being mistaken for an ad- 
verb of time. The whole phrase /»| ns^ioifi), save ive pray, be- 
came a standing formula of supplication with reference to great 
public interests or undertakings, and reappears in the New Testa- 
ment under the form Hosanna. See Matt. xxi. 9, where we find 
it, in the acclamations of the multitude, combined with other ex- 
pressions from this same psalm which, as we have seen, they were 
accustomed to sing at their great festivals. See above, on v. 22. 



148. PSALM CXVIII. 

26. Blessed he he that cometh in the name of Jehovah ! We bless 
you from the house of Jehovah. According to the accents, the 
construction of the first clause is, blessed, in the name of Jehovah, 
be he that cometh. This agrees exactly with the frequent mention 
of blessing in the name of Jehovah. See below, Ps. exxix. 8, and 
compare Num. vi. 27. Deut. xxi. 5. 2 Sam. vi. IS. Jle that 
cometh is commonly and not improbably supposed to have meant 
primarily the people or their representatives, to whom, as they 
approached the sacred spot, these words were to be uttered. 
There were other thoughts, however, which the words could 
hardly fail to suggest, for example that of Israel coming back 
from exile, that of God coming back to his forsaken people, and 
at least in the most enlightened minds, that of the great Deliverer, 
to whose coming all the rest was but preparatory, to whom the 
name tfi-in or o £gx6uevos was afterwards given as a standing ap- 
pellation, in allusion either to this passage or to Mai. iii. 1, or to 
both, and to whom this very sentence was applied by the multitude 
who witnessed and attended Christ's triumphal entrance. Ipu^^. 
Holy City. See Matt. xxi. 9. «/W 

27. Mighty (is) Jehovah and hath given light to us. Bind the. 
sacrifice with cords as far as the horns of the altar. The first 
word does not express the general idea of divinity, but that of 
divine power, which is no doubt essential to the writer's purpose. 
It was the power of Jehovah which had turned the night of 
Israel to day, and illumined the darkness of their sore distress 
with the light of his returning favour. The figure is borrowed 

CD CD *— ■ 

from the pillar of fire, the token of Jehovah's presence with his 
people in the wilderness. See Ex. xiii. 21. xiv. 20. Neh. ix. 12. 
The last clause has been the subject of a good deal of dispute. 
It is commonly admitted that (an) a Hebrew word, which pro- 
perly denotes a periodical or stated festival, is here put for the 
victim offered at it, as in Ex. xxiii. 18 the fat of my sacrifice is 
in Hebrew the fat of my festival pan), and in 2 Chron. xxx. 22, 



PSALM CX VII I. 149 

another word for festival (n?i£) is used in precisely the same 
way, being governed by the verb to eat, although this singular 
expression is avoided in the English Bible, by the use of 
the word " throughout." Those who agree in this, however, 
are at variance in relation to the act required. As the 
word translated cords is sometimes applied to the thick boughs or 
branches of a tree (Ez. xix. 11. xxxi. 3, 10, 14), some under- 
stand the sense to be, Bind the sacrifice with branches, sacrificial 
wreaths. But this practice, and the meaning put upon th-'i He- 
brew word, are both denied by others who allege moreover the 
repeated combination of the same verb a^ ^aoun m ihe sense of 
tying, making b, with cords. See 'Judg. xv. 13. xvi. 11. Ez. 
iii. 25. The 1 'ish Bible makes the clause refer to the fasten- 
ing of the victii • the altar. To this it is objected that l&rprepo- 
sition (13>) mc\9 \ as far as, and implies a verb of motion, 
expressed or ue 'stood. To avoid this dim|ulty, some of the 
latest writers un >tand the words to signify the conducting of 
the victim bound 1 it reaches the altar as the place of sacrifice. 
Hold fast the saci 7* with cords, until it comes to the horns of 
the altar, poeticalh t for the altar itself, not only as its promi- 
nent or salient poi but as the parts to which the blood, the 
essential vehicle of v iation, was applied. Thus understood the 
clause is merely an invitation to fulfill the vow recorded in Ps 
cxvi. 14, 17, 18. 

28. My God art thou, and I will thank thee ; my God, I if ill 
exalt thee. The Hebrew words for God are not the same. The 
second is that commonly so rendered, while the first is that used 
in v. 27, and denoting the divine omnipotence. 

29. Give thanks unto Jehovah, for {He is) good, for unto 
eternity (is) his mercy. In these words we are brought back to the 
point from which we started, and the circle of praise returns into 
itself. 



150 PSALM CXIX 



PSALM CXIX. 

There is no psalm in the whole collection which has more the 
appearance of haying been exclusively designed for practical and 
personal improvement, without any reference to national or even 
to ecclesiastical relations, than the one before us, which is wholly 
occupied with praises of God's word or written revelation, as the 
only source of spiritual strength and comfort, and with prayers 
for grace to make a profitable use of it. The prominence of this 
one theme is sufficiently apparent from the fact, to which the Masora 
directs attention, that there is only one verse which does not contain 
some title or description of the word of God. But notwithstanding 
this peculiar character, the position of the psalm in the collection, 
and especially its juxtaposition with respect to Ps. cviii — cxviii, 
its kindred tone of mingled gratitude and sadness, and a great 
variety of minor verbal correspondences, have led some of the 
best interpreters to look upon it as the conclusion of the whole 
series or system of psalms, supposed to have been written for the 
use of the returned Jews, at or near the time of the founding: of 
the second temple. The opinion, held by some of the same 
writers, that the ideal speaker, throughout this psalm, is Israel, 
considered as the church or chosen people, will never commend 
itself as natural or likely to the mass of readers, and is scarcely 
consistent with such passages as vs. 63, 74, 79, and others, where 
the speaker expressly distinguishes himself as an individual from 
the body of the people. The same difficulty, in a less degree, 
attends the national interpretation of the psalms immediately 



PSALM CXIX. 151 

preceding. Perhaps the best mode of reconciling the two views 
is by supposing that this psalm was intended as a manual of pious 
and instructive thoughts, designed for popular improvement and 
especially for that of the younger generation after the return from 
exile, and that the person speaking is the individual believer, not 
as an isolated personality, but as a member of the general body, 
with which he identifies himself so far, that many expressions of 
the psalm are strictly applicable only to the whole as such consid- 
ered, while others are appropriate only to certain persons or to 
certain classes in the ancient Israel. To this design of popular 
instruction, and especially to that of constant repetition and 
reflection, the psalm is admirably suited by its form and structure. 
The alphabetical arrangement, of which it is at once the most ex- 
tended and most perfect specimen, and the aphoristic character, 
common to all alphabetic psalms, are both adapted to assist the 
memory, as well as to give point to the immediate impression. 
It follows, of course, that the psalm was rather meant to be a 
store-house of materials for pious meditation than a discourse for 
continuous perusal. At the same time, the fact of its existence 
in the Psalter is presumptive proof that it was used in public 
worship, either as a whole, or in one or more of the twenty-two 
stanzas into which it is divided, corresponding to the letters of the 
Hebrew alphabet, all the eight verses of each paragraph begin- 
ning with the same Hebrew letter. 

1. Happy the perfect of way, i. e. blameless in their course of 
life, those walking in the law of Jehovah. There seems to be 
allusion to the precept in Lev. xviii. 4. The common version 
of the second Hebrew word (undefiled) is derived from the 
Yulgate (immaculati), which is itself too confined a version of the 
Septuagint (di/iwfiot,.) The essential idea is that of complete- 
ness or perfection. The form and construction of the first word 
are the same as in Ps. i. 1. 



152 PSALM CXIX. 

2. Happy the keepers of his testimonies (who) with a whole 
heart seek him. Keepers, observers, those obeying. Testimonies, 
the divine precepts, which bear witness against sin and in behalf 
of holiness. . With all the heart, undivided affection. See above, 
Ps. cxi. 1, and compare 2 Kings xxiii. 3. Seek him, the know- 
ledge of his will and the enjoyment of his favour. 

3. (Who) also do not practise wrong, (but) in his ways ivalk. 
This verse both limits and completes the one before it, by showing 
that no zeal in seeking God can be acceptable, if coupled with a 
wicked life. In his ways, not in those of his enemies, nor even 
in their own. 

4. Thou hast commanded thy precepts, to he kept strictly. 
Commanded, given them in charge, entrusted others with them. 
The literal meaning of the last clause is, to keep very {much), i. e. 
not formally or superficially, but really and thoroughly. Compare 
the use of (l&ti) as a noun in Deut. vi. 5. 

5. Oh that my ways to ere settled, to observe thy statutes ! The 
optative particle at the beginning occurs only here and, with a 
slight difference of pointing, 2 Kings v. 3. My ways, my cus- 
tomary modes of acting, my habits. Settled, fixed, confirmed, 
established, in opposition to capricious vacillation and unsteadi- 
ness. To observe, to watch, for the purpose of obeying. The 
word translated statutes, according to its etymology, means definite 
and permanent enactments. 

6 Then shall I not be shamed, in my looking unto all thy 
tommandments. The then at the beginning has respect to the 
time mentioned in the last clause. Shamed, put to shame, 
defeated, frustrated, disappointed in one's- highest hopes. In my 
looking suowests the idea both of time and of causation, when 1 
look and because I look. The act itself is that of looking towards 



PSALM CXIX. 153 

a mark to hi attained, or towards a model, rule, or standard, to be 
followed and conformed to. 

7. I will thank thee with rectitude of hearty in my learning the 
judgments of thy righteousness. It is only my experience of thy 
righteous judgments that enables me to praise thee as I ought ; 
a sentiment peculiarly appropriate to the period of some great 
deliverance, for instance that of the return from exile, when the 
righteousness of God had been so signally displayed in the 
destruction of his enemies, and in the fulfilment of his promise to 
his people. Here again, in my learning does not mean merely 
after I have learned, but in the very act and in consequence of 
learning. 

8. Thy statutes I will keep ; oh forsake me not utterly. The 
fixed resolution to obey is intimately blended with a consciousness 
of incapacity to do so, unless aided by divine grace. Utterly, 
unto extremity or still more literally, until very (much.) The 
initial words of this first stanza are all different, except that vs. 
1, 2, both begin with (i^r^) happiness or happy. 



9. By what (means) can. a youth cleanse his path, (so) as to 
keep (it) according to thy word ? To cleanse is here to keep clean 
or pure from the stain of sin. Most interpreters regard the last 
clause as an answer to the question in the first. But this 
requires the infinitive to be construed as a gerund (by keeping), 
a construction too rare and doubtful to be anywhere assumed 
without necessity. See above, on, Ps. lxxviii. IS. cxi. 6. It 
is much more simple and agreeable to usage to regard the whole 
as one interrogation, and the second clause as supplementary to 
the first. To keep may then mean to adhere to it, or rather, in 
accordance with the figure of the first clause, to preserve it clear 
or pure as God requires. The answer is suppressed, or rathei 
left to be inferred from the whole tenor of the psalm, which is, 



I 



J54 PSALM CXIX. 

that men, and especially the young, whose passions and tempta- 
tions are strong in proportion to their inexperience, can do 
nothing of themselves but are dependent on the grace of God 
The omission of an answer, which is thus suggested by the whole 
psalm, rather strengthens than impairs the impression on the 
reader. 

10. With my whole heart have I sought thee ; let me not err 
from thy commandments. While the first clause alleges his 
sincerity in seeking God, the second and third owns his depend- 
ence on him for success and safety. 

11. In my heart have I hid thy saying , that I may not sin 
against thee. The first phrase means within me, as opposed to a 
mere outward and corporeal possession of the written word. Not 
in my house, or in my hand, but in myself, my mind, with special 
reference, in this case, to the memory. Hid, not for conceal- 
ment, but for preservation. The word saying, elsewhere used to 
signify God's promise, here denotes his precept, as it does in v. 
67 below. Against thee, literally, as to, with respect to thee. 
See above, on Ps. li. 6 (4.) 

12. Blessed (he) thou, Jehovah ! Teach me thy statutes ! The 
doxology seems designed to break the uniformity of this series of 
aphorisms, by an occasional expression of strong feeling. At the 
same time, it furnishes a kind of ground for the petition in the 
last clause. Since thou art the blessed and eternal God, have 
pity on my weakness and instruct me in the knowledge of thy 
will. 

13. With my lips have I recounted all the judgments of thy 
mouth. 1 have not confined the knowledge of thy precepts to my 
own mind, but imparted it to others. See above, on Ps. xl. 10, 
11 (9, 10.) Judgments, judicial decisions, determinations as to 



PSALM CXIX. 155 

what is right and binding, a description perfectly appropriate to 
the divine precepts. Of thy mouth, which thou hast uttered. 
There seems to be allusion to the phrase with my lijps in the first 
clause. 

14. In the ivay of thy testimonies I rejoice as over all wealth. 
Not merely in the knowledge of God's will, but in the doing of it, 
in treading the path which he prescribes for us. Over may be 
simply equivalent to in, or intended to suggest the additional idea 
of superiority, above (or more than) all wealth. As over, as I do 
over all the wealth I have, or as I should do over all wealth if I 
had it. 

15. In thy precepts will I meditate and look (at) thy paths. 
Not only of thy precepts or concerning them, but in them, while 
engaged in doing them. Look has the same sense as in v. 6. 

16. In thy statutes I will delight myself ; I will not forget thy 
word. Delight or enjoy myself, seek my pleasure, find my hap- 
piness. Here ends the second stanza, in which all the verses 
except one (v. 12) begin not only with the same letter but the 
same word, the preposition (n) in. 



17. Grant to thy servant (that) I may live, and I will keep thy 
word. Grant to, bestow upon, thy servant this favour. Seo 
above, on Ps. xiii. 6 (5.) There may be an allusion to the way 
in which the law connects life and obedience. See Lev. xviii. 
5. Deut. vi. 24. 

18. Uncover my eyes and I will look — wonders out of thy law / 
The last clause is a kind of exclamation after his eyes have been 
uncovered. This figure is often used to denote inspiration or a 
special divine communication. Out of thy law, i. e. brought out 
to view, as if from a place of concealment. 



156 PSALM CXIX. 

19. A stranger (a?n) I in the earth,' hide not from me thy 
commandments. A stranger, an exile, one without friends or 
home, a poetical description of calamity in general, not without 
allusion to the captivity both in Babylon and Egypt, and to the 
consequent mention of strangers in the Law as objects of compas- 
sion. The prayer in the last clause is, that God will not withhold 
from him the knowledge of his will. 

20. My soul breaketh with longing for thy judgments at every 
time. The Hebrew verb occurs only here, but its meaning is 
determined by the cognate dialects. The word translated longing 
belongs also to the later Hebrew. Its verbal root occurs below 
in vs. 40, 174. Judgments includes God's precepts mentioned in 
v. 19 and his penal inflictions on the wicked mentioned in v. 21. 

21. Thou hast rebuked the proud, the accursed, those wandering 
from thy commandments. Compare Ps. ix. 6 (5.) Rebuked, not 
merely by word but by deed, i. e. punished. 

22. Roll from off me reproach and contempt, for thy testimonies 
I have kept. The first verse coincides in form with that at the 
beginning of v. 18, but is from a different root. There is an 
obvious allusion to the rolling off of the reproach of Egypt, 
Josh. v. 9. 

23. Also princes sat and at me talked together, and thy servant 
muses of thy statutes. This is one of the expressions in the 
psalm not literally applicable to the individual believer, and re- 
garded therefore as a proof of its national design and import. 
The princes are then the chiefs of the surrounding nations. The 
also (dii) seem to be inserted merely on account of the alphabet- 
ical arrangement which requires the letter gimel. 

24. Also thy testimonies {are) my delights, the men of my 



PSALM CXIX. 157 

counsel. He calls them his counsellors, in opposition to the 
malignant counsels of the enemy. Delights, enjoyments, happi- 
ness, the plural form denoting fulness and completeness. Two of 
the verses in the stanza ending here begin with (ta) also, and 
two with (ba)j though in different senses. 



25. My soul cleaveth unto the dust ; quicken thou me according 
to thy word. The first clause seems intended to suggest two 
consistent but distinct ideas, that of deep degradation, as in Ps. 
xliv. 26 (25), and that of death, as in Ps. xxii. 30 (29.) The 
first would be more obvious in itself, and in connection with the 
parallel referred to ; but the other seems to be indicated as the 
prominent idea by the correlative petition in the last clause. 
Quicken, i. e. save me alive, or restore me to life, the Hebrew 
word being a causative of the verb to live. See above, on Ps. 
xxx. 4 (3.) Thy word, the promise annexed to thy command- 
ment, as in v. 28 below. 

26. My icays have I recounted, and thou hast answered me; 
teach me thy statutes. The first clause is not to be restricted 
to a confession of sin, though that may be included, but ex- 
tended to a statement of his cares, anxieties, and affairs in 
general. Hence the correlative expression, thou hast answered 
me, the Hebrew verb being specially appropriated to the hear- 
ing or answering of prayer, i. e. granting what it asks. The last 
clause expresses a desire to testify his gratitude for God's com- 
passion by obeying his commandments, with the usual acknow- 
ledgment that these cannot be executed without divine assistance, 
or even known without divine instruction. 

27. The way of thy precepts make me- under st and y and I will 
muse of thy wonders. The first clause expreses the same wish, 
arising from the same consciousness of weakness, as in v. 26. The 
verb in the last clause is one of those in the usao;e of which the 



158 PSALM CXIX. 

ideas of speech and meditation run continually into one another 
See above, on Ps. lv. IS (17.) lxix. 13 (12.) lxxiv. 4, 7 (3, 6.) 
cv. 2. 

28. My soul iceeps from sorrow ; raise me up according to thy 
word. The meaning of the first verb seems to be determined by 
Job xvi. 20, where the same thing is predicated of the eye. The 
oldest versions make it mean to slumber (LXX. ivvcria^ep. 
Yulg. dormitavit), which would make the clause remarkably coin- 
cident with Luke xxii. 45. 

29. The way of falsehood remove from me, and thy law grant 
unto me graciously. The way mentioned in the first clause is that 
of unfaithfulness to God's covenant, or of apostasy from it. See 
above, v. 21. Remove, a causative in Hebrew, meaning make to 
depart. The common version of the last verb, as above given, is 
a correct paraphrase of the Hebrew verb (tn) to be gracious, to 
act graciously, and here still more specifically, to give graciously, 
to bestow as a free favou» To give the law is still, as in the pre- 
ceding verses, to make it known by a divine illumination. 

30. The way of truth have I chosen ; thy judgments have I set 
(before me.) Truth, in the sense of faithfulness, fidelity to ob- 
ligations, the opposite of the falsehood mentioned in v. 29. His 
own choice coincides with the divine requisitions. Judgments, as 
in vs. 7, 13, above. I have set, i. e. before me, as an end to be 
aimed at, and a rule to be followed. The Hebrew verb occurs 
above, Ps. xviii. 34 (33.) xxi. 6 (5.) lxxxix. 20 (19), and the 
full phrase, Ps. xvi. 8. The Septuagint renders it here, I have 
not forgotten. 

31. I have cleaved unto thy testimonies, oh Jehovah, put me not to 
shame. The first verb is the same with that in v. 25. Unto, 
literally in, as if implying a complete absorption in the object. 



PSALM CXIX. 159 

See above, on Ps. i. 2. Testimonies, precepts, as in v. 2 Shame 
me not, suffer not my Lopes to be disappointed and confounded 
The Hebrew verb is a causative of that in v. 6. 

32. The way of thy commandments will I run, for thou wilt en- 
large my heart. The verb to run expresses* a more zealous 
obedience than the usual expression walk. To enlarge is some- 
times to relieve from confinement. See above, on Ps. cxviii. 5. 
But the whole phrase, to enlarge the heart, seems, especially in 
this connection, to denote a change in the affections leading to 
more prompt obedience. Of the eight verses in this stanza five 
begin with the noun (TjtH) way or its plural, and two with the 
verb (pi^T) to cleave. 

33. Guide me, Jehovah, (in) the way of thy statutes, and I will 
keep it (to the) end. The first verb is here used in its primary 
sense of showing or pointing out the way, from which is deduced 
the secondary one of teaching. Keep it, observe it, adhere to it, 
keep in it. The last word in Hebrew, which occurs above, in 
different senses and connections, Ps. xix. 12 (11.) xl. 16 (15.) 
lxx. 4 (3), is used adverbially here and in v. 112 below. 

34. Make me understand (it), and I will keep thy law, and will 
observe it with a whole heart. The first verb is too vaguely ren- 
dered in the English versions (give me understanding.) It has 
here the same sense as in v. 27, and the object is to be supplied 
from the next member of the sentence. The form of the last 
verb is one expressing strong desire and fixed determination. 
With a whole heart, or with all (my) heart, as in v. 2. 

35. Make me tread in the path of thy commandments, for in it 
do I delight. The first verb is the causative of that used in Ps. 
vii. 13 (12.) xi. 2. xxxvii. 14. xci. 13. I delight, have delighted, 
not at present merely but in time past. 



160 PSALM CXIX. 

36. Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to gain. 
Here again the sense of absolute dependence or divine influence 
is strongly implied. Testimonies, as in v. 31. Gain, profit, 
lucre, as in Ps. xxx. 10 (9), but here put for overweening love of 
it, supreme devotion to it. 

37. Turn away my eyes from seeing falsehood ; in thy ways 
quicken me. The first verb strictly means to cause to pass (or turn) 
away. Falsehood is not the word so rendered in v. 29, but the neg- 
ative term (tfTB) meaning vanity, nonentity, and here applied to 
all objects of religious trust besides God. These the Psalmist 
desires not even to see, much less to gaze at with delight and 
confidence. See above, Ps. xxxi. 7 (6.) xl. 5 (4. ) lx. 13 (11.) 
lxii. 10 (9.) Quicken me, save me or make me alive, as in v. 25. 
In thy ways, by leading me in the way of thy commandments. 

38. Blake good to thy servant thy word which (thou hast 
spoken) to thy fearers. The first verb means to cause to stand, 
to set up, to establish, to confirm, and in this connection to ful- 
fill or verify. To thy servant, not merely to me, but to me who 
am thy servant, in a special and emphatic sense, which is appli- 
cable either to the chosen people as a whole, or to its individual 
members. Thy word, as in vs. 25, 28. To thy fearers, liter- 
ally, to thy fear, the abstract being put for the concrete term ; or 
it might be rendered for thy fear, that thou mayest be feared. 
See below, on Ps. cxxx. 4. 

39. Turn away my disgrace which I dread, for thy judgments 
{are) good. The first word is the same with that in v. 37, mean- 
ing make (or cause) to pass aivay. In this connection it might 
cither mean to remove or to avert ; but the latter agrees better 
with the next phrase, which I dread. The original is not the com- 
mon Hebrew word for fear, but one used by Moses in precisely 
the same sense as here. See Deut. ix. 19. xxviii. 60. and com- 



PSALM CXIX. 161 

pare Job ix. 28. Thy judgments are good, i. e. prompted and 
controlled by infinite goodness, and sliould therefore fall upon 
the wicked, not the righteous. 

40. Behold, I long for thy precepts ; in thy righteousness quicken 
me. The first word is equivalent to see (or thou, scest) that it is 
so, and involves an appeal to the divine omniscience. The first 
verb is the root of the noun longing in v. 20. To long for God's 
precepts is to long for the knowledge of them and for grace to 
obey them. The last clause prays that since God's judgments 
are good (v. 39), instead of killing they may make alive. See 
above, on vs. 17, 25, 37. In the stanza closing with this verse, 
only one initial word is repeated, namely (^Sp) cause to pass or 
turn aivay. 



41. And let thy mercies come (unto) me, oh Jehovah, thy salva- 
tion, according to thy word. That the stanzas were not meant to 
be regarded as distinct and independent compositions, is clear 
from the copulative (and) at the beginning of this verse. Mercies, 
suited to my various necessities. Come to me, or upon me, or 
into me, which are the ideas commonly expressed by this verb 
when construed directly with a noun. See above, Ps. xxxv. 8. 
xxxvi. 12 (11.) c. 4. Salvation is in apposition with mercies, 
being that in which all other gifts and favours are summed up 
and comprehended. With the last words compare v. 3S above. 

42. And (then) I will answer my reviler a word ; for I trust 
in thy word. The best answer to the calumnies and insults of 
his enemies is that afforded by his manifest experience of God's 
favour, and the practical vindication thereby afforded. The ad- 
dition of word, which in our idiom is superfluous, may have some 
reference to its use in the corresponding clause. As if he had 
said : only let thy word be fulfilled, and I shall have a word to 
say in answer to my enemies. 



162 PSALM CXIX. 

43. And take not out of my mouth (this) word of truth utterly , 
for in thy judgments do I hope. Deprive me not of this conclusive 
answer to my enemies, by withholding that providential vindica- 
tion of my character and practical attestation of thy favour to- 
wards me, which I confidently look for. The first verb is used 
in its primary sense (Gen. xxxii. 12), from which comes the usual 
but secondary one of snatching out of danger, extricating, saving. 
For the literal meaning of the Hebrew phrase translated utterly , 
see above, on v. 8. The last phrase in the verse means, for thy 
judgments I have waited, i. e. confidently looked for their ap- 
pearance. 

44. And I will observe thy law always, unto eternity and 
perpetuity. Not merely for a time, or for the purpose of securing 
this triumph over his enemies, but forever, to express which idea 
the three strongest terms afforded by the language are combined. 
As the keeping of the law, so often mentioned in this psalm, has 
evident reference to the present life, the strong promise of per- 
petual obedience, in the verse before us, is considered by some 
writers as a proof that the ideal speaker is not an individual be- 
liever, but the church or chosen people. 

45. And, I will walk in a wide place, for thy precepts have 1 
sought. Free from the pressure and confinement to which he 
had been previously subject. See above, on Ps. cxviii. 5. 
Sought thy precepts, i. e. sought to know them and to do them. 
Compare the combination, keep and seek, in 1 Chr. xxviii. 8. 

46. And I will speak of thy testimonies before kings and will 
not be ashamed. Here again some eminent interpreters have 
found an indication of the national design and meaning of the 
whole psalm, as the individual believer could not be expected to 
bear witness to the truth in such a presence. He might however 
*lo so, as one of the component parts of the whole body. But 



PSALM CXIX. 163 

the words are really expressive only of a readiness to declare the 
divine testimony against sin, in any presence, even the most 
august, if it should be necessary. This passage seems to have 
been present to our Saviour's mind when he uttered the predic- 
tion in Matt. x. 18. Ashamed has here its strict sense, as deno- 
ting a painful feeling of humiliation. 

47. And I will delight myself in thy commandments which I 
love. Lwill not obey them merely from a selfish dread of punish- 
ment or painful sense of obligation, but because I love them and 
derive my highest happiness from doing them. See above, on 
Ps. xix. 12 (11.) The first verb has the same sense as in v. 16. 
The past tense of the last verb (I have loved) represents his love 
to God's commandments as no new-born and capricious passion, 
but a settled habit and affection of his soul. 

48. And I will raise my hands to thy commandments which I 
love, and I will muse of thy statutes. The raising of the hands 
is a symbol of the raising of the heart or the affections to some 
elevated object. See above, on Ps. xxviii. 2. Which I love, 
or have loved, as in v. 47, the terms of which are studiously 
repeated with a fine rhetorical effect, which is further heightened 
by the and at the beginning, throwing both verses, as it were, 
into one sentence. As if he had said : I will derive my 
happiness from thy commandments, which I love and have loved, 
and to these commandments, which I love and have loved, I will 
lift up my hands and heart together. For the meaning of the 
last clause, see above, on v. 27. The connective force of the 
conjunction and must not be urged in this verse, as it was needed 
to supply the initial vau, a letter with which scarcely any Hebrew 
words begin. 



49. Remember (thy) word to thy servant, because thou hast 
made me to hope. The obvious meaning of the first clause 



164 PSALM CXIX. 

is, rememher the word (spoken) to thy servant. But Hebrew 
usage makes it probable, that tbe first and last words of 
the clause are to be construed together, so as to mean remember 
for thy servant, i. e. for his benefit, as in Ps. xcviii. 3. cvi. 45. 
Word is then absolutely put for promise, as in Ps. lvi. 11 (10), 
and the meaning of the whole clause is, remember thy promise in 
compassion to thy servant. The common version of the last 
clause (upon which etc.) is forbidden by the facts, that the Hebrew 
verb is never construed elsewhere with the proposition on, and that 
Hebrew usage would require a different combination (T"^5> ^vi'k) 
to convey the sense supposed. That the one here used 
(T38 is) may mean because, is clear from Deut. xxix. 24. 
2 Sam. iii. 30. The same verb that means to hope in v. 43 is used 
as a causative, to make hope, here and in Ezek. xiii. 6. 

50. This (is) my comfort in my suffering, and thy word 
quickens me. The reference to continued suffering in the first 
clause, and to its partial cessation in the second, agrees well with 
the condition of the chosen people when restored from exile. 
The terms, however, are so chosen as to be equally appropriate 
to personal afflictions, restorations, and deliverances. The word 
for comfort occurs elsewhere only in Job vi. 10, where it has 
precisely the same form. Thy word includes thy decree or 
order and thy promise. Quickens, saves alive, or restores to life, 
according to the prayer in vs. 25, 37, 40. The past tense (has 
quickened) implies that the conservative or restorative effect has 
already been experienced, though not yet perfected. 

51. Proud (ones) deride me greatly ; from thy laio I swerve 
not. Both verbs are in the past tense, which would seem to 
indicate that the derision here complained of, although recent, 
had now ceased or been abated. The clause agrees well with 
the scorn excited in the heathen neighbours of the restored Jews 
by what seemed to be their mad attempt to build the temple. 



PSALM CXIX. iQr, 

The omission of a connective makes the antithesis more pointed. 
Swerved, declined, or turned aside. See above, on Ps. xliv. 19 
(IS), and compare Ps. xl. 5 (4.) The first word in the verse is 
one commonly applied to presumptuous high-handed sinners. See 
above, on Ps. xix. 14 (13.) 

52. I have remembered thy judgments from eternity, Jehovah, 
and consoled myself. His faith and hope under present trials are 
sustained by recollection of the past. Thy judgments, not merely 
the punishments inflicted on thy enemies, but all the exhibitions 
of thy righteousness in outward act, including the deliverances of 
thy people. From eternity, or from an indefinite antiquity, which 
is the primary meaning of the Hebrew word. There is no reason 
for discarding the reflexive form of the last verb, as some versions 
do, especially as it suggests the idea, not of a mere passive recep- 
tion of the comfort, but of an active effort to obtain it. 

53. Rage has seized me from ivicked. (men) abandoning thy 
law. No English word is strong enough to represent the first 
one in the Hebrew of this verse except rage or fury. See above, 
on Ps. xi. 6. It here denotes the highest pitch of indignant 
disapproval. From, i. e. arising or proceeding from, because of. 
Forsaking thy law, not only refusing in practice to obey it, but 
avowedly abjuring its authority. 

54. Songs for me have been thy statutes in the house of my 
sojournings. Instead of abjuring them as presumptuous sinners 
do, I make them the subject of my thankful and triumphant 
songs (Isai. xxiv. 16), even while I sojourn as a pilgrim^and a 
stranger in a strange land. The house of my sojournings, i. e. 
the house where I sojourn, is an imitation of the phrase, land of 
sojournings, which occurs so often in the patriarchal history. See 
Gen. xvii. 8. xxviii. 4. xxxvi. 7. xxxvii. 1. Pilgrimage is less 
exact because it suggests the idea of locomotion rather than of 



166 PSALM CXIX. 

rest. The statutes of God are thus rejoiced in, not as mere 
requisitions, but as necessarily including promises. 

55. / remember in the night thy name, Jehovah, and observe 
thy laio. The night is mentioned as the natural and customary sea- 
son of reflection and self-recollection, and also as the time when 
pains of every kind are usually most acute. See above, on Ps. 
xci. 5. With this clause and the verse preceding compare Job 
xxxv. 10. Thy name, i. e. all that is denoted by thy names, and 
more especially by the one here mentioned, thy eternal self- 
existence and thy covenant relation to thy people. 

56. This has been to me, for thy precepts I have kept. The 
usual interpretations, this I had because I kept thy precepts, and. 
this I have (namely) that I keep thy precepts, are almost unmeaning. 
"When taken in connection with the one before it, the true sense 
of the verse appears to be, that what he was thus wont to promise 
or resolve, he had performed. The substantive verb is to be 
taken in the sense which it so often has in history. This has 
happened to me, come to pass, been verified in my experience. 
In the stanza which here ends, three verses beo-in with some form 
of the verb (*\5l) to remember, and two with the pronoun (r.&'t) 
this. 



57. My portion, oh Jehovah, I have said, (is) to keep thy words. 
This construction is rejected by Hengstenberg and others, as 
forbidden by the accents and the analogy of Ps. xvi. 5. lxxiii. 26. 
But as the same words may either express the sense here given or 
my portion (is) Jehovah, we are at liberty to choose the one best 
suited to the context, even- in opposition to the accents, which 
cannot be regarded as an ultimate authority. In favour of the 
sense first given is its perfect agreement with the close of the 
preceding stanza. In reference to the resolution there recorded 



PSALM CXIX. 167 

and described as having been fulfilled, lie here adds, thus have I 
said (declared my purpose) oh Lord to obey thy words. 

5S. I have sought thy favour with all (my) heart ; be gracious 
unto me according to thy word. In the first clause we have a 
repetition of the singular and striking idiom used in Ps.xlv. 13 
(12), and explained by some as meaning strictly to soothe or 
stroke the face, and by others to soften or subdue it, i. e. the 
hostility or opposition expressed by it. With all (my) heart, or 
with a whole heart, as in vs. 2, 34, above. Thy ivord or saying, 
i. e. thy promise. The original expression is not ("Ol) the one 
so constantly employed in this psalm, but (mft!*) that used in 
vs. 10, 41, and derived from the verb (ifaa) to say. 

59. / have thought on my ivays, and turned back my feet to 
thy testimonies. The first verb here means thought over, pondered, 
as in Ps. lxxvii. 6 (5.) My ways, i. e., as appears from the last 
clause, my departures from thy testimonies or commandments. 
See above, on vs. 2, 14, 31, 36, 46. The common version of the 
last verb {turned), although correct, is not sufficient to convey 
the full force of the Hebrew word, which is a causative meaning 
to bring back or make to return, and implying previous departure, 
whereas the primitive verb turn carries with it no such implication. 
"While this verse is exactly descriptive of the process of personal 
conviction and conversion, it is also strikingly appropriate to the 
effects of the captivity on Israel, as a church and nation. 

60. I hastened, and delayed not, to observe thy commandments. 
This continues the account of his conversion, begun in the prece- 
ding verse. The first clause exemplifies the idiomatic combination 
of a positive and negative expression of the same idea. The 
second verb is peculiarly expressive and seems to be applied, in 
the most ancient Llebrew books, to a trifling and unreasonable 
tarrying in great emergencies. See Gen. xix. 16. xliii. 10. Ex. xii 



168 PSALM CXIX. 

39. In this respect, as well as in relation to its singular redu- 
plicated form, the Hebrew verb bears some analogy to certain 
familiar terms in English, which are colloquially used in the 
same manner. 

61. The bands of wicked men environed me, (but) thy law I did 
not forget. As descriptive of personal experience, this may be 
translated in the present {environ me, forget not) ; but in order 
to include a reference to the Babylonish exile, and the preserva- 
tion of the people from apostasy at that eventful crisis, the pre- 
terite forms of the original must be preserved. The figure of the 
first clause is borrowed from Ps. xviii. 5, 6 (4, 5), but with the 
substitution of a verbal form used only here, and represented by 
the word environed. The relation of the clauses, to denote which 
in English hut has been supplied, is the same as in v. 51 above. 

62. At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee on ^account 
of) the judgments of thy righteousness. The first phrase, which 
literally means the half (or halving) of the night, is borrowed from 
the history of the midnight massacre in Egypt, Ex. xi. 4. xii. 29, 
to which there is also a historical allusion, as a signal instance of 
divine interposition and miraculous deliverance. A similar allu- 
sion may be traced in Job x'xxiv. 20. The judgments of thy 
righteousness, thy judgments of righteousness, thy righteous 
judgments, cannot be altogether different in meaning from the 
very same words in v. 7, as supposed by some interpreters, who 
there explain the phrase to mean Glod's precepts or his requisi- 
tions, here his penal inflictions. The solution of the difficulty lies 
in this, that the words mean neither of these things specifically, 
but something which comprehends them both, viz. the actual 
manifestations of God's righteousness, in word or deed, by precept 
or by punishment. 

63. A fellow {am) I to all who fear thee, and to the keepers of 



PSALM CXIX. 169 

thy precepts. Not merely a companion or frequenter of their 
company, but an associate, a congenial spirit, one of the same 
character. Compare-the use of the same Hebrew word in Ps. 
xlv. 8 (7), where the plural is translated fellows in the English 
Bible. The verse before us is one of those which it seems most 
difficult to understand of Israel as" a whole ; for in what sense was 
the church or chosen people a companion of those fearing God 
and keeping his commandments, when all the people in the world 
of that description were embraced within her own communion ? 
The force of this objection is so great that Hengstenberg applies 
the description to the pious ancestors of the returned Jews, and 
refers to Mai. iii. 24 (iv. 6.) The necessity of such a forced 
construction goes far to confirm the exegetical hypothesis, already 
stated as most probably the true one, that the psalm was intended 
to express the feelings of an individual believer, but that some of 
its terms are, from parity of circumstances, equally descriptive of 
what had been experienced by the house of Israel as a church and 
nation. 

64. Of thy mercy, oh Jehovah, full is the earth; thy statutes 
leach me. Since thy mercy fills the whole earth, let it reach to 
me, enabling me to understand thy will and to obey it. The 
relation of the clauses is not unlike that in v. 12. The stanza 
closing with this verse is the first in which the initial words of all 
the verses are entirely different. See above, on vs. 8, 16, 24, 
32, 40, 48, 56. 



65. Good hast thou done to thy servant, oh Jehovah, according 
to thy word. The common version of the first clause {thou hast 
dealt well with thy servant) is equally correct and has the advantage 
of retaining the preposition with, which may be used in English 
after deal but not after do. The sense expressed by both trans- 
lations is the same, to wit, thou hast treated him graciously or 

vol. in. 8 



170 PSALM CXIX. 

kindly. According to thy word, i. e. the promise annexed to thy 
commandments, as in vs. 25, 28 (compare vs. 41, 5S.) This 
verse is equally appropriate as a personal thanksgiving, and an 
acknowledgment of national deliverances, such as that from 
Babylon. 

66. Goodness of judgment and knowledge teach me, for in thy 
commandments I believe. The first word in Hebrew is not (rrit) 
the adjective good, as in v. 65, but (-"-) the corresponding 
abstract noun meaning goodness, as in Ps. xxv. 7. xxvii. 13. 
xxxi. 20 (19.) That it here denotes not moral but intellectual 
excellence, is determined by the addition of ('Q^ts) a word origi 
nally meaning taste, and then transferred to reason, judgment, 
understanding. See above, on Ps. xxxiv. 1. Teach me good 
judgment, i. e. impart it by divine instruction. Judgment and 
knowledge may be here distinguished as in common parlance, the 
one denoting the faculty employed, the other the result of its 
exertion. The knowledge meant is that continually prayed for in 
this psalm, to wit, the knowledge of God's will. The connection 
of the clauses seems to be, that he has faith and would fain have 
knowledge ; he takes God's precepts upon trust, but then prays 
that he may understand them. To believe in 'God's command- 
ments is to believe that they are his, and therefore right and 
binding. 

67. Before I suffered I {to as) going astray, and note thy saying 
I observe. Going astray, wandering, erring, i. e. habitually, ever 
straying. And now (on the contrary), where our idiom would 
require a but. The saying of God is what he says, including both 
commands and promises, which indeed are represented in the Old 
Testament, and especially in this psalm, as inseparable. Observe, 
attend to, keep in view, according to the nature of the object, 
trusting the promise, obeying the command. The last verb stri^tW 
means I have observed, implying that the salutary fruit of the 



PSALM CXIX. 171 

affliction was already realized and still continued. The sentiment 
of this verse has been echoed, and its very words repeated, by the 
godly sufferers of every age, a strong proof that it was meant to 
be so used. At the same time it furnishes an exquisite description 
of the effect produced upon the Jews, as a body, by the Babylon- 
ish exile, and especially the end which it forever put to their 
continual lapses into idolatry, by which their early history was 
characterized, and with respect to which the whole race might 
well have said, Before I suffered I was (ever) straying. 

68. Good (art) thou and doing good — teach me thy statutes ! 
Good, both essentially and actively or practically ; good in thyself 
and good to others. The participle, as in v. 67, denotes habitual 
constant action, (ever) doing good. It is characteristic of this 
psalm, that the petition founded on the goodness of God's nature, 
on his beneficence, and even on his infinite perfection, si still, 
teach me thy statutes ! Make me acquainted with thy will, and 
show me how to do it ! See above, on vs. 12, 64. 

69. Proud (men) have forged a lie against me; i", with all 
(my) heart, will keep thy precepts. Proud, presumptuous, over- 
bearing sinners, as in v. 51. Forged expresses the essential 
meaning of the Hebrew word, but not its figurative form, which 
seems to be that of sewing, analogous to that of weaving, as ap- 
plied to the same thing, both in Hebrew and in other languages. 
We may also compare our figurative phrase, to patch up, which 
however is not so much suggestive of artifice or skill as of the 
want of it. The connection of the clauses is, that all the craft 
and malice of his enemies should only lead him to obey God with 
a more undivided heart than ever. See above, on v. 5S. With 
the same surprising skill and wisdom as in many other cases 
which have been already mentioned, this verse is so framed as to 
be equally well suited to such national and public evils as those 
described in the fourth chapter of Ezra, and to the sufferings of 



172 PSALM CXIX. 

ihe pious individual, arising from the pride and spite of wicked 
enemies. 

70. Fat as grease (is) their heart. I (in) thy law delight. The 
connection of the clauses lies in the figurative use of fat to denote 
insensibility. See above, on Ps. xvii. 10. lxxiii. 7. While they 
are utterly insensible to spiritual pleasures, and especially to those 
springing from the knowledge of thy law, I find therein my highest 
happiness. The verb in the last clause is a cognate form to that 
in vs. 16, 47, and identical with that in Isai. xi. 8, where it 
means to play, sport, or enjoy one's self. 

71. (It is) good for me that I was made to suffer, to the end 
that I might learn thy statutes. The prayer so frequently re- 
peated, teach me thy statutes, is now proved to be sincere by a 
hearty acquiescence in the painful discipline by which it had been 
partially fulfilled already. Good for me, and therefore good on 
God's part. The idea of compulsory subjection to this salutary 
process is suggested by the passive causative form of the verb 
used in v. 67. To the end or intent, a phrase corresponding, 
both in form and meaning, to the Hebrew. 

72. Good for me is the law of thy mouth (more) than thous- 
ands of gold and silver. For me, for my use as well as in my 
estimation. The law of thy mouth, that which thou hast uttered. 
See above, on v. 13. Than, literally, from, away from, as dis- 
tinguished from, as compared with, which is just the meaning of 
the English than. The combination good thorn, or good from, is 
the nearest approach, of which the Hebrew idiom admits, to better 
than. The indefinite term thousands may refer to weight or 
number; to coin or bullion ; to coins in general, or to shekels or 

nts in particular. While this verse primarily expresses the 
changed estimate which Israel learned in exile to put upon the law, 



PSALM CXI X. 273 

it is equally expressive of the feeling cherished by all true be 
Hovers, iu their best estate, as to the value of the word of God. 
Here ends the ninth stanza, of which five verses begin with the 
word (site) good. 



73. Thy hands made me and fashioned me; make me understand 
and let me learn thy commandments. As I owe my existence to thy 
power, so too I rely upon thy grace for spiritual illumination. 
Compare Deut. xxxii. 6. Fashioned, literally, fixed, established, 
i. e. framed my constitution as it is. 

74. Thy fearers shall see me and rejoice ; for in thy word have 
I hoped. Compare Ps. v. 12 (11.) xxxiv. 3 (2.) They shall 
rejoice in my case, as a new proof that they who trust in God 
cannot be disappointed. The literal meaning of the last clause 
is, because for thy word I have waited, i. e. patiently and trust- 
fully awaited its fulfilment. 

75. I know, Jehovah, that righteousness are thy judgments, and 
(in) faithfulness thou hast afflicted me (or made me suffer.) Thy 
judgments, thy sovereign decisions and their execution, are 
righteousness itself, i. e. perfectly righteous. So in the next 
clause, for in faithfulness we may read as faithfulness itself, as 
one absolutely faithful to his promise and engagements. This 
confession would be untrue, if those who made it were not con- 
scious of their guilt and ill-desert. Compare Deut. xxxii. 4. 

76. Oh that thy me? cy might be for my comfort, according to 
thy saying to thy servant. The optative expression, oh that, is 
here used to represent the Hebrew particle of entreaty (yt.*\, cor- 
rectly paraphrased in the English Bible, / pray thee. For my 
comfort, literally, to comfort (ov console) me. Thy saying, that 
which thou hast said or promised. To thy servant, to me as thy 



174 PSALM CXIX. 

servant, and as such in covenant with thee. This description is 
equally appropriate to the body and its members. 

77. Let thy compassions come unto me (or upon me), and I shall 
live, for thy law (is) my delights. The construction in the first 
clause is like that in v. 41. And I shall live, or as we misjht ex- 
press it, that 1 may live. See above, on v. 17. He pleads what 
he has received already as a ground for asking more. The plural 
{delights) expresses fulness and completeness, or perhaps implies 
that this joy is equal or superior to all others, or includes them all. 
The Hebrew noun is derived from the verb in vs. 16, 47, 70. 

7S. Shamed be the proud, for falsely have they wronged me; I 
will muse of thy precepts. Falsely, literally, falsehood, i. e. in or 
by it. Wronged, literally, bent, perverted. With the last 
clause compare vs. 27, 48. 

79. Let them return to me that fear thee and know thy testi- 
monies. Let thy servants who have looked upon me as abandoned 
by thee now restore to me their confidence. The various read- 
ing in the last clause (.iJT^ and 19*^) does not affect the meaning 
of the sentence, except that the reading in the text maybe included 
in the wish, and let them know thy testimonies,!, e. let them learn 
from my experience to understand thy precepts better. 

80. Let my Jieart be perfect in thy statutes, to the end that I may 
not be shamed. In thy statutes, in the knowledge and the prac- 
tice of them, or as it is expressed in Ps. xix. 12 (11), in keeping 
them. Shamed, put to shame by the frustration of my highest 
hopes. See above, on v. 6. Two of the verses in this stanza 
begin with the same Hebrew word ("n^.)- 



PSALM CXIX. 175 

81. For thy salvation faints my soul ; for thy word do I wait. 
Both verbs are in the preterite, implying that it is so and has 
been so. Faints, is spent or wasted. This strong expression for 
intense desire is borrowed from Ps. lxxxiv. 3 (2.) With the last 
clause compare v. 74. 

82. My eyes fail for thy saying, so that I say, when wilt thou 
comfort me ? The first verb in Hebrew is the same with the first 
in the preceding verse. Thy saying, the fulfilment of thy promise. 
The Hebrew noun is derived from the following verb, to say, so 
as to say, so that I say. It might also be translated, but with 
less exactness, while I say. 

S3. For I have been like a bottle in the smoke ; thy statutes 1 
have not forgotten. The bottle meant is one of skin, still com- 
mon in the east. The comparison is not entirely clear. Some 
suppose that the blackening and shrivelling effect of the smoke 
upon the skin is simply used as a figure for distress. Others 
understand the words as conveying the additional idea, that as 
wine-skins are not meant to be involved in smoke, so distress 
is not the normal or natural condition of Grod's people. Others, 
assuming that the skins were intentionally smoked by way of 
seasoning, suppose the principal idea to be that of painful but 
salutary discipline. There can be no doubt, that the clause 
relates, in some way, to the afflictions, either of the chosen people, 
or of individual believers, or of both. The meaning of the last 
clause is that, notwithstanding these afflictions, the sufferer has 
not forgotten God's commandments. 

84. How many (arc) the days of thy servant ? When wilt thou 
execute upon my 'persecutors judgment ? The shortness of life is 
indirectly urged as an argument for speedy action. See above, 



176 PSALM CXIX. 

on Ps. xxxix. 5, 14 (4, 13.) lxxviii. 39. Ixxxix. 48,49 (47,48.) 
Execute judgment, or do justice, as in Ps. ix. 5 (4.) 

85. Proud {men) dig for me gits, which (are) not according to 
thy law. The presumptuous sinners (vs. 51, 69, 7S) who are his 
enemies use the most treacherous means for his destruction, with- 
out regard to the divine command or prohibition. See above, on 
Ps vii. 16 (15.) lvii. 7 (6.) 

S6. All thy commandments (are) faith fulness ; falsely do they 
persecute me ; help thou me. The promises annexed to God's 
commandments are infallible. Falsely, as in v. 78, falsehood, 
i. e. in falsehood, without right or reason, or with (by means of) 
falsehood, as their instrument. The verb agrees with the re- 
moter antecedent (persecutors) in v. 84. 

87. They almost consumed me in the land, and I did not forsake 
thy precepts. The verb consumed or destroyed (^3) and the 
phrase in the land both occur in reference to the Canaanites, 
2 Chr. viii. 8. The translation in the earth (v. 19) is admissible, 
but less significant, and less in keeping with the national import 
of the psalm. The second clause, as usual in such cases, de- 
clares that notwithstanding his afflictions, he still sought to know 
and do the will of God. 

SS. According to thy mercy quicken me, and I will keep the testi- 
mony of thy mouth. Restore me to life, or save me alive, as in 
vs. 25, 37, 40. Of thy mouth, as in vs. 11, 72. This closes 
the eleventh stanza and the first half of the psalm. Two of these 
eight verses begin with different forms of the verb (nis) to fail or 
faint, and three (including v. 84) with the particle (r) as or like 



89. To eternity, Jehovah, thy word is settled in heaven. Th 



i > 



PSALM CXIX. 177 

translation, eternal (art thou) Lord, is contrary to usage, which 
requires the pronoun, in that case, to be expressed. Settled, liter- 
ally, made to stand, i. e. unalterably fixed. In heaven, beyond 
the reach of all disturbing causes. See above, Ps. lxxxix. 3 (2.) 

90. To generation and generation (is) thy faithfulness ; thou 
hast fixed the earth and it stands. Resolved into our idiom, the 
moaning of this verse is, that the truth of God's promises, or his 
fidelity to his engagements, is secured by the. same divine per- 
fection, which brought the world at first into existence, and has 
ever since preserved it. The verb translated fixed is not the one 
employed in v. 89, but that used in Ps. vii. 10 (9.) ix. 8 (7.) 
xl. 3 (2.) xlviii. 9 (8.) Ixviii. 10 (9.) xc. 17. xcix. 4. cvii. 36. The 
sense prepared is rare and doubtful, and too feeble for this con- 
text. 

91. For thy judgments they stand to day, for all are thy ser- 
vants. The subject of the first verb, though obscure, is probably 
the heavens and the earth, mentioned in the two preceding 
verses. These stand, continue to exist, for the execution of 
God's judgments, with reference perhaps to the destruction 
wrought by fire from heaven, by the opening of the earth, etc. 
All, literally, the whole, to nav, the universe ; but the construc- 
tion of this with the plural servants would be harsh in English. 
The same expression is applied in Ps. xiv. 3 to all mankind, but 
here to the material universe. Thy servants, the instruments 
employed to execute thy will. 

92. Unless thy law were my delights, then should I perish in my 
affliction. The verse admits also of the construction in.the Eng- 
lish Bible, which refers it to a remoter past, and represents the 
danger as escaped, whereas the first construction implies a con- 
tinued state of suffering. The law of God, as usual in this psalm, 

8* 



17S PSALM CXIX. 

is here viewed, not as a body of mere requisitions, but as a cove- 
nant, a law accompanied by promises. 

93. To eternity I will not forget thy precepts , for in them hast 
thou quickened me. In them, or by them, which is really included 
in the other, meaning in the practice of them and by means of 
them. Quickened, as in vs. 17, 25, 37, 40, 50. 

94. Thine am I- — save me — for thy precepts I have sought. The 
original form of the first clause is, to thee (am) I. Sought, as 
in vs. 2, 10, 45. 

95. For me have wicked (men) waited, to destroy me; thy testi- 
monies will I understand. With the first clause compare Ps. 
lvi. 7 (6.) Consider, though correct, is an inadequate translation 
of the last verb, which denotes a fixed and intelligent attention. 
The only effect of his enemies' malignant plots is a still more 
serious contemplation of God's precepts. 

96. To all perfection I have seen an end, (but) wide is thy com- 
mand exceedingly. By end we are not to'understand the end of 
its existence, but the limit or boundary of its extent. To all 
other perfection (so called) I can see an end, but that required 
and embodied in thy law is boundless. All the verses of this 
stanza except one (v. 92) begin with the preposition (b) to or 
for, as all those of the second do with (n) in. 



97. How I love thy law ! All the day it (is) my meditation,!, e. 
the subject of my solitary musing. This continual representation 
of God's, law, not as a mere rule, but as an object of affection 
and a subject of perpetual reflection, is characteristic of the 
Psalms, and appears at the very threshold of the whole collection 
See above, on Ps. i. 2. 



PSALM CXIX. 179 

98. (More) than my enemies do thy commandments make me 
wise; for to eternity it is mine (or to me.) This is the con* 
struction of the first clause preferred by the latest interpreters, 
although it requires a singular verb to be construed with a 
plural ncun. But as the same irregularity exists in the construc- 
tion of the pronoun in the second clause, however the first may be 
explained, it is best to explain both anomalies alike, i. e. partly 
by the relative position of the words, and partly by the aggregate 
sense in which commandments is here used as equivalent to law, 
and which, agreeably to general usage, may sufficiently account 
for its construction with a verb and pronoun in the singular. As 
analogous cases have been cited 2 Sam. xxii. 23 — " (as for ) his 
statutes, I depart not from it" — -and 2 Kings xvii. 22 — " the sins 
of Jeroboam which he did, they departed not from it." As the 
sins of Jeroboam were concentrated in one, so the statutes of Je- 
hovah might be viewed as one great comprehensive precept. The 
meaning of the last clause is not merely, it is ever with me, but 
it is forever to me, i. e. mine, my inalienable indefeasible pos- 
session. See above, v. 94. 

99. (More) than all my teachers I act wisely , for thy testimonies 
(are) a meditation to me. My teachers, my superiors in natural 
and worldly wisdom. As the Hebrew verb has always elsewhere 
an active meaning, it is better to retain it here, the rather as it 
indicates more clearly that the wisdom which he boasts was 
practical, experimental. See above, on Ps. ii. 10. xiv. 2. xxxii. 
3 (7.) xli. 2(1.) lxiv. 10 (9.) ci. 2. The essential meaning of 
the last clause is the same with that of v. 97, but the use of the 
expression hV) suggests the same idea of possession that is ex- 
pressed in v. 9S. Thy testimonies are mine, belong to me, as an 
object of incessant contemplation. 

100. (More) than old men I understand, because thy precepts 
I have kept. The first verb is the same, and has the same sense 



18C PSALM CXIX. 

as in v. 95. The ambiguous Hebrew word ( d^Jjt ) cannot be 
expressed by any one in modern English, as it may mean either 
old men in the proper sense, whose greater experience entitled 
them to be considered wiser than their juniors ; or the anzicnts, 
those of former generations, who are popularly looked upon as 
wiser than their children and successors. One of these senses suits 
the personal, the other the national design and application of the 
psalm. In either case, there is really no boast of superior intelli- 
gence, as a distinguishing endowment, but merely an assertion, in 
a striking form, that the highest wisdom is to do the will of (rod. 
See above, on Ps. cxi. 10. 

101. From every evil path I refrain my feet, to the intent that 
I may keep thy word. Of the two ideas conveyed by word, that 
of command is here predominant, but not exclusive of the other. 
To keep God's word is primarily to obey his precept, but second- 
arily to verify his promise. This verse teaches clearly that the 
keeping of God's word is something incompatible with treading 
any evil path. 

102. From thy judgments I do not depart, because thou guidest 
me. We have here another word of comprehensive meaning, in 
which sometimes one phase of the essential idea is presented prom- 
inently, sometimes another. The divine judgments, in this psalm, 
are always the external exhibitions of the divine righteousness, in 
word or deed, by precept or by punishment. Here of course the 
former are especially intended. The figure of a way, though not 
expressed, is still indicated by the verbs depart and guide. As to 
the latter, see above, on v. 33. From this verse it is doubly clear 
that he claims nothing as belonging to himself, or as accomplished 
in his own strength, but ascribes all to the power and grace of God. 
The preterite forms, in this and the preceding verse, merely make 
the past more prominent than the future, as an accessory idea to 
the present. 



PSALM CXIX. 181 

103. How sweet to my palate are thy sayings, sweeter than 
honey to my mouth ! As the Hebrew verb occurs only here, it is 
better to follow the rabbinical tradition and the ancient versions, 
which make the idea to be that of sweetness, than the uncertain 
etymological deductions of the lexicons, which make it to be that 
of smoothness. The passive form may possibly denote that the 
psalmist's relish for God's word was not a native but acquired 
taste. Some interpreters unreasonably give to word the sense of 
law, excluding that of promise altogether, whereas both must 
unavoidably have been suggested to a Hebrew reader. The 
original word means neither more nor less than that which God 
has said. The figures of this verse are borrowed from Ps. xix. 
11 (10.) 

104. From thy precepts I get understanding ; therefore I hate 
every path of falsehood. The common version of the first verb 
comes as near to the exact sense of the original as any other 
English word or phrase. The Hebrew verb is the same that 
occurs above, vs. 95, 100. As he knows no wisdom independent 
of the truth, he hates falsehood as the height of folly, and regu- 
lates his life accordingly. All the verses of this stanza begin 
either with the exclamation (n?a) how, or with the preposition 
("Va) f rom t than. 



105. A lantern for my foot is thy word, and a light for my 
path. To the figure of a path, so frequently presented in this psalm 
already, is now added that of a light, to make it plain amidst 
surrounding darkness. The parallelism is completed by adding 
the generic term, light, to the specific one, lamp or lantern. For 
my foot, i. e. to guide it. For my path, i. e. to show it. 

106. I have sworn, and will perform (my oath), to observe the 
judgments of thy righteousness. The second verb occurs above, 



182 PSALM CXIX. 

v. 28, in its primary sense of raising up, or causing to stand up- 
right. In the later books, particularly that of Esther, it occurs 
very often in the sense of ratifying or confirming, and might here 
be rendered, I confirm (my oath already made.) In either case, 
it merely strengthens the expression which precedes it. Observe, 
keep, or obey, as in vs. 4, 5, 8, etc. Thy righteous judgments, 
as in vs. 7, 62. Considered as the language of the whole church 
or nation, this verse may have reference to the covenant entered 
into at Mount Sinai and renewed in the plains of Moab, while as 
a personal profession, it has its counterpart in the experience of 
every true believer. 

107. I am afflicted even to extremity ; Jehovah, quicken me ac- 
cording to thy word. That the first clause does not relate 
merely to past sufferings {I was afflicted), seems to follow from 
the prayer in the last clause, which may, however, be understood 
as a petition for deliverance from the deadening effects of a 
calamity already past, such as the Babylonish exile, the enfeeb- 
ling influence of which notwithstanding incidental benefits, con- 
tinued to be felt for ages. The first verb in Hebrew, with the 
idea of suffering, always suggests that of humiliation. Even to 
extremity, the same words that occur above, in vs. 8, 43, 51. 
The meaning of the last clause is, bestow upon me that life which 
is promised in the Law to those who keep it. See Lev. xviii. 5. 
Deut. vi. 24. 

10S. The free-will offerings of my mouth accept, I pray thee, 
oh Jehovah, and thy judgments teach me. For the meaning of the 
first Hebrew word, see above, on Ps. ex. 3. It is here a figure 
for prayers and praises, as appears from the addition of my 
mouth. The verb accept is one continually used in the Law, with 
respect to sacrificial offerings. See above, on Ps. li. 18 (16), and 
compare Ps. 1. 14. The recurrence of the prayer, thy judgments 
teach me, shows that the writer's object was to make everything 



PSALM CXIX. 1S3 

tend to this conclusion, and that however a sentence may begin, 
it cannot be complete without a repetition of this favourite idea. 

109. My soul is in my hand always, and (yet) thy law I have 
not forgotten. The sense of the strong figure in the first clause 
is clear from Judg. xii. 13. 1 Sam. xix. 5. xxviii. 21, where he 
who risks or jeopards his own life, in war or otherwise, is said to 
put his soul into his hand, as if to have it ready to give up or 
throw away at any moment. The same expression reappears in 
Job xiii. 14. The meaning of the whole verse is, that even amidst 
the deadly perils which environed him, he still remembered the 
divine law, as an object of supreme affection. 

110. Wicked (men) have laid a snare for me, and (yetj from 
thy precepts I have not strayed. Laid for me, literally, given to 
me, as we might speak of a snare as presented to a person, i. e 
set before him. The devices and temptations of the wicked were 
as powerless as all the other causes previously mentioned, in lead- 
ing him away from the path of truth and safety. 

Ill I inherit thy testimonies to eternity, for the joy of my heart 
(are) they. The first verb means to take as a possession or in- 
heritance, and. is here used in allusion to those places of the 
Pentateuch where it is applied to the possession of the promised 
land. See for example Ex. xxiii. 30. 

112. J incline my heart to do thy statutes to eternity, (even to) 
the end. The preterite form of the first verb represents the 
effort as already made but still continued: For the meaning of 
the last word, see above, on v. 33. This stanza, like the eighth, 
has a different initial word in every verse. 



113. Waver ers I hate, and thy law 1 love. The first word in 



184 PSALM CXIX. 

Hebrew occurs only here. According to the most probable ety- 
mology, it means men of divided and unstable minds. See 
above, on Ps. xii. 3 (2), and compare James i. 8. 

114. My hiding place and my shield (art) thou — for thy word 
I wait, i. e. for the fulfilment of thy promise. See above, on 
v. 81. The first word in the verse means properly a secret 
or a secret place. See above, on Ps. xxvii. 5. xxxii. 7. lxi. 
5 (4.) xci. 1. The shield is a favourite figure for protection 
See above, on Ps. iii. 4 (3.) vii. 11 (10.) xviii. 3, 31 (2, 30.; 

115. Depart from me, evil doers, and I will keep the command- 
ments of God. The first clause is borrowed from Ps. vi. 9 (8.) 
The meaning in both cases seems to be, that he has no fear of 
their enmity. The reason given in this case is, because he is re- 
solved to do the will of God, and is therefore sure of his protection. 

11G. Uphold me according to thy promise, and let me live, and 
let vie not be ashamed of my hope. Promise, literally, saying, that 
which thou hast said, as in v. 82. Let me live might also 
be translated and I shall live, or paraphrased that I may live. 
See above, on v. 17. Of my hope, literally from my hope, which 
some understand in a privative sense, away from, deprived of, 
without my hope, i. e. without having it fulfilled. Ashamed of 
my hope does not convey the sense so fully as shamed in my hope, 
frustrated, disappointed, in my expectations. 

117. Sustain me and I shall be saved, and I will look to thy 
statutes always. The first verb is nearly synonymous with that 
at the beginning of v. 116, and the same that occurs above, Ps. 
xx. 3 (2.) xli. 4 (3.) xciv. 18. civ. 15. i" shall be saved, or let 
me be saved, or that I may be saved, precisely as in the preceding 
verse. The strict future sense is here to be preferred, as the vert 



PSALM CXIX. 185 

is not both preceded and followed by a prayer, as in the other 
case. Look to, have respect to, regard, as the rule of my con- 
duct. The construction of the verb and preposition is the same 
as in Ex. v. 9. 

118. Thoudespisesta.il (those) straying from thy statutes, for a 
lie (is) their deceit. They are objects not only of disapprobation but 
of scorn, because in attempting to deceive others they deceive 
themselves. Their deception of others is a lie to themselves. 

119. (As) dross hast thou made to cease all the wicked of the 
earth ; therefore I love thy testimonies. The purifying tendency 
of God's judgments is itself a reason for delighting in them. The 
verb in the first clause, which occurs in its primary sense in Ps. 
viii. 3 (2), is applied to the purging out of leaven at the passover 
(Ex. xii. 15) and to the extirpation of wild beasts (Lev. xxvi. 6. 

120. My flesh shudders from dread of thee, and of thy judgments 
I am afraid. The first verb in Hebrew occurs only here, but is 
universally admitted to denote some bodily effect of fear, such as 
trembling, shuddering, or the instinctive creeping of the flesh. 
Afraid of, in the last clause, does not fully represent the Hebrew 
phrase, which denotes noL mere apprehension of something still 
future or absent, but terror in view of something actually present. 
Judgments has its usual wide sense, but with special reference, in 
this case, to God's penal visitations. Here ends the fifteenth 
stanza, in which, as in the one before it, every verse has a dis- 
tinct initial word. 



121. / do justice and righteousness ; leave me not to my op- 
pressors. The first verb is in the past tense, I have done and I 
still do. Do justice, not in the restricted or forensic sense of re- 
dressing wrong judicially, but in the wide sense of executing jus- 
tice or reducing it to practice. 



1S6 PSALM CXIX. 

122. Be surety for thy servant for good ; let not the frond op- 
press me. The sense and construction of the first verb are pre- 
cisely the same as in Gren. xliii. 9. xliv. 32. Compare Job xvii. 3, 
and see my note on Isai. xxxviii. 14. It means not merely take 
me under thy protection, but become answerable for me, stand 
between me and those who, under any pretext, even that of legal 
right, may seek to oppress me. For good, i. e. for my good, for 
my safety or deliverance. Compare Deut. vi. 24. x. 13. xxx. 9. 
This is noted in the masora as the only verse in which the word 
of God, or some equivalent expression, is not found. 

123. My eyes fail for thy salvation, and for the word of thy 
righteousness. With the first clause compare v. 82. The word 
of thy righteousness, thy word of righteousness, thy righteous 
word, the promise of a righteous God who cannot lie. 

124. Deal with thy servant according to thy mercy, and thy 
statutes teach me. The first words strictly mean do with thy ser- 
vant, which may be an ellipsis for do good to him, or deal kindly 
with him, as in v. 65. See above, on Ps. cix. 21. 

125. Thy servant (am) 1 ; make me understand and let me know 
thy testimonies. That thy servant is not a mere periphrasis for I 
or me in v. 122 and elsewhere, appears from the first clause of 
the verse before us, where it constitutes the predicate of the pro- 
position. In the second clause, we'have the same choice of con- 
structions as in vs. 110,117. Let me know, or (then) I shall know^ 
or that I may knoiv, all implying one another, and amounting to 
the same thing. 

126. (It is) time for Jehovah to do — they break thy laiu. The 
absolute use of do, without an object, or leaving it to be suggested 
by the context, is a peculiar Hebrew idiom. See above, on Ps. 
22 (21.) We may here supply justice from v. 121 (compare 



PSALM CXIX. 187 

v. 84) ; or more indefinitely, whatever should be done ; or more 
indefinitely still, it is time to do (something), i. e. to act, which is 
substantially the meaning of the common version (time to work.) 
Retaining the order of the Hebrew words, the sense would seem 
to be, it is time to do (something) for Jehovah, i. e. for his people 
to do it. But the direct address to God in the last clause, and 
the whole tenor of the context, make it more probable, that God 
himself is here entreated to do something for the vindication of 
his broken law. The verb in the last clause is to be construed 
indefinitely ; they, i. e. men in general, or the wicked in par- 
ticular. With this clause compare Isai. xxiv. 5. 

127. Therefore I love thy commandments (more) than gold and 
(more) than fine gold. The first word refers not to the immediately 
preceding verse, but to the whole previous description of the 
excellence of God's commandments. The comparison in the last 
clause, like that in v. 103, is borrowed from Ps. xix. 11 (10.) 

128. Therefore all (thy) precepts (as to) all (things) I think 
right ; every way of falsehood do I hate. The therefore is co- 
ordinate with that in the preceding verse, and to be explained iu 
the same manner. Both were probably occasioned by the alpha- 
betical arrangement here requiring an initial ayin. Precepts of 
course mean those of God, as word means his word in v. 49. 
The construction here is very foreign from our idiom, and by no 
means easily translated into it. The literal meaning of the 
words is, all precepts of all, which some understand to mean of 
all lands, as in v. 14 and Ps. cxviii. 10. But others deny that 
all has this sense, even in the places cited, and explain it here to 
mean concerning all, on all subjects. The clause is then con- 
demnatory of all partial distinctions between God's command- 
ments, which may be the way of falsehood specially intended in 
the last clause. Compare Matt. v. 17 — 19. The verb in the 
first clause always elsewhere means to make straight, to s;o 



188 PSALM CXIX. 

straight, or to direct aright ; but the best interpreters agree in 
making it here mean, to think right or approve. It is worthy of 
remark, that as to all these points, the true sense of this difficult 
clause seems to be given in the English Bible. With the last 
clause compare v. 104. In the sixteenth stanza, which here 
closes, two of the verses begin with' (\3~~2) therefore, and two 
with different forms of the verb (o^5>) to do. 



129. Wonderful {are) thy testimonies ; therefore my soul keepeth 
them. The first word in Hebrew is a plural form of that in Ps. 
lxxvii. 12, 15 (11, 14) lxxviii. 12. lxxxviii. 11 (10), and proper- 
ly means wonders, i. e., miracles or prodigies of moral excellence. 
My soul, not merely I, but I with all my heart or soul. 

130. The opening of thy words enlightens, making the simple 
understand. The common version of the first word (entrance) is 
inaccurate, and the one here given, though exact is ambiguous. 
The clause does not refer to the mechanical opening; of the book 
by the reader, but to the spiritual opening of its true sense, by 
divine illumination, to the mind which naturally cannot discern 
it. For the Scriptural usage of the word translated simple, see 
above, on Ps. xix. S (7.) cxvi. 6. 

131. My mouth I stretch and pant, because for thy command- 
ments 1 long. The first verb usually means to gape or yawn, but 
these verbs are intransitive in English, and cannot be construed 
with the noun directly. For the meaning of the next veHb, see 
above, on Ps. lvi. 2, 3 (1,2.) lvii. 4 (3.) Both are figurative 
expressions of the idea conveyed directly by the third verb, which 
occurs nowhere else, but differs only in a single letter from the 
verb of the same meaning used in vs. 40, 174, which also is 
peculiar to this psalm. 

132. Turn to me, and be gracious to me, as (is) due to the lovers 



PSALM CXIX. 1S9 

of thy name. The first verb does not mean to return or come 
back, but to turn round to or towards an object from which the 
looks have been averted. See above, on Ps. cii. 18 (17.) fie 
gracious or merciful, show favour to or favour me. As is due to, 
or according to the right of, the lovers etc. The Hebrew word 
(E&EJfr) has here the meaning of the Latin jus, as in Ps. lxxxi. 
5, (4.) For the meaning of the lovers of thy name, see above, 
on Ps. v. 12 (11.) 

133. My steps establish by thy word, and let not any iniquity 
rule over me. Establish, i. e. make firm, cause me to walk safe- 
ly. See above, on Ps. xl. 3 (2.) fiy thy word or saying, 
what thou hast said, i. e. by the fulfilment of fhy promise. The 
last clause might seem to be a prayer against the power of his 
own corruption ; but the frequent use of the Hebrew noun to de- 
note the mutual injustice of men, together with the language of 
the next verse, seems to show that this too is a prayer against op- 
pression. The verb in this clause is applied by Nehemiah (v. 15 ) 
to the oppression suffered by the restored Jews. The Arabic 
verb of the same form is the root of the royal title Sultan. 

134. Redeem me from the oppression of man, and I will l-eep 
thy precepts. These two verses are peculiarly appropriate to the 
trials and temptations of the Jews at the time of the Restora- 
tion. The form of the last verb denotes strong desire and de- 
termination. 

135. Let thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy 
statutes. The prayer of the first clause is the same as that 
which forms the burden of Ps. lxxx. (4, 8, 20.) Thy servant, 
i. e. me who am thy servant ; hence the first person is immedi- 
ately resumed. 

136. Streams of water run down my eyes, for (that) they do 



190 PSALM CXIX. 

not keep thy law. In the Hebrew of the first clause, eye is the 
subject, not the object, of the verb. See the same or similar 
idiomatic constructions, Jer. ix. 17. xiii. 17. Lam. i. 16. iii. 48. 
Ezek. vii. 17. The preposition in the last clause is to be 
construed with the relative understood, in the sense of for 
that, forasmuch as, because. The complete phrase occurs above, 
v. 49. They do not, i. e., men indefinitely, others. Here ends 
the seventeenth stanza, all the verses of which begin with different 
Hebrew words. 



137. Righteous {art) thou, oh Jehovah, and just thy judgments. 
The English and the ancient versions make the second adjective 
aoree with judgments, although different in number. This might 
be justified by making (*fflP) J ust a neuter adjective or substan- 
tive, as in Ps. cxi. 8. It is much more simple and agreeable to 
usage to apply the epithet to God himself, as in Deut. xxxii. 4, 
and explain thy judgments as a kind of adverbial or qualifying 
phrase, very common in Hebrew, but in our idiom requiring the 
insertion of a preposition, upright {in or as to) thy judgments. 

138. Thou hast commanded righteousness thy testimonies, and 
faithfulness — exceedingly. This is another elliptical construction, 
wholly foreign from our idiom. Some resolve it by supplying to 
or to he : thou hast commanded thy testimonies to (or to be) 
righteousness, i. e. hast made them righteous. It is simpler, 
however, and more like the syntax of the verse preceding, to 
supply in or with : thou hast commanded (in) righteousness thy 
testimonies, etc. The very or exceedingly may belong to faithful- 
ness alone, or to the whole proposition. The mention of faithful- 
ness shows that the idea of God's promise. is included in his testi- 
mony With this verse compare v. 86, and Ps. xciii. 5. 

139 My zeal consumes me, because my adversaries forget thy 
word. The verbs strictly niean,/i<3s consumed, ha ve forgotten, but 



PSALM CXIX. 19 1 

without excluding the present, as they might seem to do, if ren- 
dered literally into English. 2kal, jealous regard for God's author- 
ity and honour. See above, on Ps. lxix. 10, (9.) The first He- 
brew verb occurs above, Ps. lxxxviii. 17 (16.) The last clause 
gives the reason or occasion of his jealousy. Adversaries, perse- 
cutors or oppressors. Thy word includes thy promise to me and 
thy command to them. 

140. Pure (is) thy word — exceedingly, and thy servant, loves it. 
Pure, literally, purged, tried, assayed, refined, like precious metal. 
See above, on Ps. xviii. 31 (30. ) Saying, as elsewhere in this psalm, 
alternates with word, and has the same comprehensive meaning. 
Thy servant, I as thy servant, and because I am so. Loves and 
has Ions; loved. 

141. Little (am) I and despised, (but) thy precepts do I not for- 
get. However proudly or however justly I may be despised, I 
can still lay claim to one distinction, that I have not, like my de- 
spisers, forgotten God's commandments. These words are pecu- 
liarly appropriate to Israel, as a body, at the Restoration. 

142. Thy righteousness (is) right forever, and thy law (is) truth. 
Right is here used as a noun, in order to vary the expression in 
English as in Hebrew, where two cognate forms (fij?12 and pr.:) 
are employed. With the first clause compare Ps. ciii. 17. cxi. 3. 
The idea here is, that God's rectitude is not capricious or mutable, 
as might be inferred from the afflictions of his people, but un- 
changeable and to eternity. Thy law, both in its precepts and its 
promises, is true, is truth itself. 

143. Distress and anguish seize (or seized) me; thy command- 
ments (are) my delight. Even in the midst of suffering, thy com- 
mandments not only solace me but make me happy. Seize, liter- 



192 PSALM CXIX. 

ally find , as in Ps. cxvi. 3. Delight , literally, delights, a succe- 
claneum for all other pleasures. See above, on v. 24. 

144. Right (are) thy testimonies to eternity ; make vie under- 
stand, and I shall live. Right, righteousness, the second of the 
nouns used in v. 142. Make me understand {them), i. e., these 
thy testimonies. And (then) I shall live, which includes let me 
live and that I may live. See above, on vs. 17, 116. Three 
of the verses in this stanza begin with derivatives of the root p!2. 



145. Iinvoke (thee) with a -whole heart — answer me, Jehovah — 
thy statutes will I keep. I have invoked thy favour with a heart- 
felt sense of its necessity ; grant it to me, according to my 
prayer, and I am fully resolved to keep thy statutes. 

146. I invoke thee — save me — and I will observe thy testimonies. 
The pronoun implied in the preceding verse is here expressed. 
The augmented form of the last verb is emphatic or intensive. I 
will observe thy testimonies, i. e. obey thy precepts and believe 
thy promises. 

147. I come lefore (thee) in the (morning) twilight, and I cry 
to (thee) ; for thy words do I wait. The first verb has the same 
sense as in Ps. xcv. 2. Compare Ps. lxxxviii. 14 (13.) Early 
prayer implies importunate desire. The twilight meant is that of 
morning, as in 1 Sam. xxx. 17. Job vii. 4. The second verb 
means to cry for help. Its augmented form is common in verbs 
of speaking, and supposed by some grammarians to denote motion 
or direction towards the object of address, like the local or di- 
rective n in nouns. See Judo;, vi. 10. 1 Sam. xxviii. 15. Neh. 
v. 7. xhi. 11, 17, 21. Dan. ix. 4. 

148. My eyes anticipate the watches, to muse of thy promise. 
Before the stated hours of vigil he is awake and ready for devout 



PSALM CXIX. 193 

meditation. To muse, that I may muse or meditate. See above, 
on v. 62, and compare Ps. lxiii. 7 (6). lxxvii. 5 (4.) Lam. ii. 19. 

149. My voice hear according to thy mercy, oh Jehovah, accord- 
ing to thy judgments quicken me. According to the promises an- 
nexed to thy commandments. 

150. JYear are those pursuing crime ; from thy law they are far' 
off. Pursuing, eagerly devising and attempting. Crime, malicious 
mischief, as in Ps. xxvi. 10. In the last clause there is a kind of 
play upon the words far and near, as if he had said, the nearer 
they are to harming me, the further are they from obeying thee. 

151. Near {art) thou, Jehovah, and all thy commandments are 
truth. The lusus verlorum may be said to be continued. As 
they are near to injure, thou art near to save, and all thy pro- 
mises to those who do thy will are true, are truth itself. 

152. Jong have I known from thy testimonies (themselves), that 
thou unto eternity hast founded them. The first word in Hebrew 
is a noun used adverbially, as in Ps. lv. 20 (19.) The precepts 
of the law describe themselves as everlasting. See Ex. xxvii. 21. 
xxviii. 43. xxxvi. 21. Lev. iii. 17. vi. 11. vii. 36. Num. x. 8. This 
concludes the nineteenth stanza, two of the initial words in which 
are derivatives of *np, two of S^p, three of ETp. 



153. See my suffering and deliver me ; for thy law I forget 
not. The first petition, in the same words, occurs above, Ps. 
ix. 14 (13.) The first verb originally signifies to extricate or dis- 
embarrass. I forget not, and have not forgotten, both of which 
ideas would be necessarily suggested to a Hebrew reader. 

154. Strive my strife and redeem me ; as to thy word, quicken 
me. With the first clause compare Ps. xlih\ 1. lxix. 19 (18.) 

VOL. III. 9 



194 PSALM CXIX. 

As to, according to, in fulfilment of, thy saying, that which thou 
hast said, thy promise. See above, v. 41. 

155. Far from the wicked {is) salvation ; because thy statutes they 
seek not. The first word in Hebrew is a masculine adjective, and 
does not agree regularly with salvation, which is feminine, but is 
construed as a •neuter, something far, as the first word in v. 72 
means a good thing. Seek not, and have not sought, i. e. desired 
either to know or do thy will. See above, on v. 45. 

156. Many (or manifold are) thy compassions, oh Jehovah, ac- 
cording to thy judgments quicken me. That the first word means 
many, not great, in this connection, seems clear from the next 
verse. According to thy judgments, as in v. 149. 

157. Many {are) my persecutors and oppressors ; from thy testi- 
monies I decline not. The second noun is often rendered adver- 
saries, as in v. 139, but it may here be taken in its primary sense, 
which is near akin to that of the preceding word. I decline not y 
and have not declined, deviated, swerved. 

158. I see traitors and am sickened — (those) who thy saying keep 
not. The wicked are called traitors against God, their rightful 
sovereign, as in Ps. xxv. 8. The first verb is the reflexive form 
of that in Ps. xcv. 10, I sicken (or disgust) myself. The common 
version of the relative {because) conveys an idea not expressed 
but understood. There is no need of departing from the strict 
sense of the pronoun. See and have seen, keep and have kept. 

159. See hoio I love thy precepts, Jehovah ; according to thy 
mercy, quicken me. See how, literally see that, which is tanta- 
mount to saying, thou scest that. 

160. The head of thy word (is) truth, and to eternity (is) every 



PSALM CXIX. 



195 



judgment of thy righteousness. Head is by some explained as 
meaning the sum total, by others as synonymous with the connate 
form (fl-iBlfty in Ps. cxi. 10. Every judgment of thy righteous- 
ness, every one of thy righteous judgments. Three verses of the 
twentieth stanza begin with some form of the verb (nz*l) to see. 



161. Princes persecute me without cause — and at thy words my 
heart is awed. Both Hebrew verbs are in the past tense. The 
first verb, like its representative, originally means to follow 
after, to pursue, but is commonly employed in a hostile sense. 
Without cause answers to a single Hebrew word (5-ri) an adverb 
related to the noun ( w ( n) favour, as gratis is to gratia in Latin. 
So in modern English, the idea here might be expressed by the 
one word gratuitously. At thy words, literally, from them, i. e. 
because or on account of them. The last verb is not a passive in 
Hebrew, but a less usual synonyme of (a 1 ^) to fear, correctly 
paraphrased in the English versions (standeth in awe.) The maso- 
retic reading is thy word in the singular, but, as in most other 
cases, the best critics now prefer the reading in the text. 

162. Rejoicing (am) I over thy saying, like (one) finding much 
spoil. The participle indicates continued and habitual rejoicing. 
Thy saying, that which thou hast said, thy law with its attendant 
promises. 

163. Falsehood I hate and abhor ; thy law Hove. Hate and 
have hated, love and have loved. Falsehood or lying, as in v. 29. 
The second verb has the same augmented and intensive form that 
occurs above, vs. 147, 158. 

164. Seven limes in the day I praise thee, for the judgments of 
thy righteousness. Seven times is a proverbial idiom for often or 
repeatedly. The use of this form of expression here is not the 



196 PSALM CXIX. 

effect but the occasion of the observance of canonical hours. See 
above, on Ps. lv. IS (17.) Praise thee, and have been accustomed 
so to do. "With the last clause compare v. 160. 

165. (There is) much peace to the lovers of thy laio, and there is 
to them no stumbling block. Peace, in opposition to the disquie- 
tude inseparable from a course of sin. A stumbling-block is a 
common scriptural figure for an occasion of unbelief or sin. The 
idea here is, that the best preservative against temptation is a 
love to God's commandments. The Prayer-Book version (they 
are not offended at it) and that in the text of the English Bible 
{nothing shall offend them) convey a very different meaning from 
the true one to a modern reader. The latter indeed seems 
directly contradictory to vs. 53, 158. The correct sense is in- 
telligibly given in the margin of the common version. 

166. I hope for thy salvation, oh Jehovah, and thy command- 
ments I do. I hope and have hoped, do and have done. In the 
meantime, while expecting thy salvation, I am careful to perforin 
thy will. 

167. My soul observes thy testimonies, and Hove them greatly (or 
exceedingly .) I observe them, pay particular regard to them, in 
regulating my behaviour, not with a mere external conformity, but 
from or with my soul, because I love them greatly. 

168. I observe thy precepts and thy testimonies, because all my 
toays are before thee. He does not affect to be prompted by a 
love exclusive of all fear, but only of a slavish dread. He stands 
in awe of God's omniscience, and is influenced by dread of his 
disapprobation to obey his precepts, as well as by attachment to 
the law itself. My ways, my courses of conduct, mode of life, 
behaviour. Before thee, open to God's infallible inspection, and 
subjected to his judgment. Two of the verses in this stanza begin 



PSALM CX IX. 19 7 

with forms of the verb ("titt?) to observe or keep. It is also worthy 
of remark that fc and to are treated as one letter, three of the verses 
beginning with the former, namely, the two first and the sixth. 

169. Let my cry come near before thee, ok Jehovah ; according 
to thy word, make me understand. The first noun denotes an audi- 
ble expression of strong feeling, whether sorrowful or joyful. See 
above, on Ps. xvii. 1. xxx. 6 (5.) Come near before thee, not only 
near enough to be heard, but into thy presencej so that he who utters 
it may be seen. According to thy word, thy commandment which 
requires, and thy promise which secures, the understanding of thy 
will. See above, vs. 25, 65, 107, and compare Deut. xxx. 6. 

170. Let my supplication come before thee ; according to thy prom- 
ise, free me (or deliver me.) The first noun, according to its ety 
mology, denotes a prayer for grace or favour. See above, Ps. vi. 
10 (9.) lv. 2 (1.) In this and the preceding verse, the prayer for 
deliverance from outward troubles is subjoined, and as it were 
subordinated, to that for grace to do the will of God. The samo 
connection may be traced in Ps. xc. 11 — 17. 

171. My lips shall pour forth praise ; for thou wilt teach me thy 
statides. The first verb means to cause to gush or flow, and is 
the same with that in Ps. xix. 3 (2.) lxxviii. 2. It here denotes 
eager, abundant, and unceasing jDraise. The last clause expresses 
the confident expectation of the blessing so often and importu- 
nately asked throughout the psalm. As if he had said, Now shall 
my lips praise, for I am about to receive what I had prayed for ; 
thou wilt indeed teach me thy statutes. The translation when thou 
hast taught me (or shall teach me) is less exact, less forcible, and 
really included in the other. 

172. Let my tongue answer thy saying — that all thy command- 
ments are right. The verb which usually means to answer prayer 



198 PSALM CXIX. 

(see above, vs. 26, 145) is here used in the sense of responding 
to a precept or a promise by the language of praise and acquies- 
cence. Compare v. 42. There is no need of treating the optative 
form of the verb as a poetic license. The strict sense agrees well 
with the prayer in the next verse. "What is here asked is occasion 
thus to praise God. As the last clause seems to assign no perti- 
nent reason for the prayer in the first, it may be regarded as the 
response itself. Let my tongue say in answer to all thy requisi- 
tions, that all thy commandments are right, or righteousness itself, 
as in vs. 142, 144. 

173. Let thy hand he (near) to help me ; for thy precepts do 1 
choose. The word supplied in this translation is not necessary to 
the sense, but is introduced for the purpose of retaining the 
original construction, he to help me, i. e. be my help, or simply 
help me. The reason given in the last clause is, that as he volun- 
tarily makes choice of God's will as his rule of conduct, he there- 
by renounces all other protection. The Hebrew verb is a pre- 
terite ; I choose, and have already chosen. 

174. I long for thy salvation, oh Jehovah, and thy law (is) my 
delights. I long and have longed. "With the first clause com- 
pare vs. 40, 81, 131 ; with the second, vs. 24, 77, 92. 

175. Let my soul live and praise thee ; and let thy judgments 
help me. This verse sums up in conclusion the petitions of the 
whole psalm. Save me, and thereby give me cause to praise 
thee, for the blessings which I have derived from the promises 
and precepts of the law. Let my soul live, because it is that which 
is in danger. Judgments, as in vs. 149, 156. 

176. I wander like a lost sheep — seek thy servant — for thy com- 
mandments I do not forget. The English versions of the first 
clause (I have gone astray) although they adhere strictly to the 



PSALM CXX. 199 

form of the original, seem to make the primary idea that of sin, 
which is really included, but only as the cause of that which is 
directly intended, namely misery, represented by the wandering of 
a lost and helpless sheep. Compare Jer. 1. 6. Seek thy servant, 
deliver from this wretched state one who is still thy servant, and 
as such remembers thy commandments, even in the midst of his 
worst sufferings. As the preceding verse sums up the petitions 
of the psalm, so this sums up its complaints in the first clause 
and its professions in the last, connected by the short prayer 
(seek thy servant) as by a single link. The predominant use of 
the past tense, even to the end, shows how deeply the entire 
psalm is founded upon actual and previous experience. In this 
last stanza, the only initial word repeated is ( ta Hfr) the verb of 
existence. 






PSALM CXX. 

1 . A Song of the Ascents. To Jehovah, inmy distress, I called, and 
he answered me. This is the first of fifteen psalms (cxx — cxxxiv ) 
all bearing the inscription, song of ascents or up goings, i. e 
sung during the periodical journeys or pilgrimages to Jerusalem 
at the times of the great yearly festivals. On these occasions the 
people are said, even in historical prose, to go up to Jerusalem, 
in reference both to its physical and moral elevation. See Ex. 
xxxiv. 24. 1 Kings xii. 27, 28. The Hebrew verb (n)$) em- 
ployed in such connections is the root of the noun (tfibSfa) ascents 
in these inscriptions. This explanation of the title is much more 
satisfactory than any other which has been proposed. * A rabbini- 
cal tradition represents these psalms as having been sung by the 



200 PSALM CXX. 

people, as they ascended the fifteen steps (in Hebrew tri!)3M3i 
seven on one side and eight on the other, repeatedly mentioned 
by Ezekiel (xl. 6, 22, 26, 31, 34, 37.) But apart from the in- 
trinsic improbability of this tradition, some psalms in the series 
were evidently not meant to be sung at the temple. No less im- 
probable than this very ancient explanation is the modern one, 
that the inscription has reference to a peculiarity of structure, the 
repetition of a phrase or clause of one sentence in the next with 
an addition, forming a idn$ of climax or progression in the terms 
as well as the ideas. But even admitting that this peculiarity of 
form might be described by (rn^^) the Hebrew word in ques- 
tion, this word could not have been prefixed to each of the fifteen 
psalms, when the examples of the fact alleged are confined almost 
exclusively to one or two of them. Much nearer to the truth 
is the opinion, that these psalms were intended to be sung 
during the return from Babylon, which is called an ascent 
(nbsfa) by Ezra (vii. 9.) But this can only be maintained by 
arbitrarily denying the genuineness of the titles, which ascribe 
four of the psalms (cxxii, cxxiv, cxxxi, cxxxiii) to David and one 
(cxxvii) to Solomon. The position assigned to these, and the dif- 
ference of tone between them and the rest, are ingeniously ac- 
counted for by Hengstenberg's hypothesis, that these five ancient 
psalms, sung by the people, as they went up to Jerusalem, before 
the captivity, were made the basis of a whole series or system, 
designed for the same use by an inspired writer after the Restora- 
tion, who not only added ten psalms of his own, as appears from the 
identity of tone and diction, but joined them to the old ones in a 
studied and artificial manner, entirely inconsistent with the suppo- 
sition of fortuitous or random combination. The one psalm by 
Solomon stands in the centre of the series or system and divides it 
into two equal parts, in each of which we find two psalms of David 
and five anonymous or new ones, the former being separated and 
surrounded by the latter, an additional and strong proof of intend- 
ed adaptation to the times when the later psalms were written, to 



PSALM CXX. 201 

which Hengstenberg still further adds tho number and distribu- 
tion of the divine names in the whole series and its subdivisions. 
The psalm immediately before is anonymous, but its tone and 
diction mark it as belonging to the period of the Restoration. It 
begins with an acknowledgment of that great mercy, v. 1 , followed 
by a prayer for deliverance from treacherous and spiteful ene- 
mies, v. 2, and a confident anticipation of their punishment, vs. 3, 4, 
but closes with a further lamentation and complaint of present 
suffering, vs. 5 — 7. In this, as in all the other psalms of the 
series, the ideal speaker is Israel or Judah, considered as the church 
or chosen people. This first verse, although general in its terms, is 
perfectly appropriate to the Captivity, as the distress out of which 
the sufferer cried to God, and to the Restoration, as the answer to his 
prayer. In my distress, literally, in distress to me, an expression 
like that in Ps. xviii. 7 (6.) The augmented form of the Hebrew 
noun is like that in Ps. iii. 3 (2.) 

2. Oh Jehovah, free my soul from lip of falsehood, from tongue 
of fraud. The soul is particularly mentioned as usual when the 
life or the existence is in danger. The last two nouns in Hebrew 
are not in construction but in apposition, a tongue {which is) 
fraud, equivalent in meaning to the same English words in an 
inverted order, fraud-tongue. See a somewhat similar combina- 
tion, Ps. xlv. 5 (4.) lx. 5 (4.) The terms of the description are 
too strong to be applied to mere delusive promises, and necessarily 
suggest the idea of calumnious falsehood, as in Ps. xxxi. 19 (18.) 
cxix. 69, 78. The reality answering to this description in the 
case of the restored Jews is the spiteful misrepresentation, by 
which the Samaritans retarded the rebuilding of the temple, as 
recorded in the fourth chapter of Ezra. 

3. What will he give to thee, and tohat will he add to thee, thou 
tongue of fraud ? Having complained to God of the false 
tongue, the ideal speaker turns to it as actually^ present and ad- 

9* 



202 PSALM CXX. 

dresses it directly, speaking of God in the third person. The 
meaning of the question is, what recompense can you expect from 
an infinitely righteous God for these malignant calumnies ? The 
peculiar form of the interrogation is derived from that of an 
ancient oath, The Lord do so to me and more also, literally, and 
so add, i. e. further do, or in addition to the thing in question. 
See 1 Sam. iii. 17. xiv. 44. As explained by this allusion, the 
words have a new force. What good or evil may be imprecated 
on thee, as the consequence of these malicious falsehoods ? 

4. Arrows of a warrior sharpened, (together) with coals of 
juniper. The general idea of severe and painful punishment is 
here expressed by the obvious and intelligible figures of keen 
arrows and hot coals. The arrows of a mighty man, warrior, or 
hero, are those used in battle, perhaps with an allusion to the 
fact, that one of the races mentioned in the next verse excelled 
in archery. See Isai. xxi. 17. The word which the rabbin- 
ical tradition explains to mean the juniper, is by modern lexi- 
cographers identified with the Arabic name of a species of broom- 
plant, which is thought, on account of its inflammatory quality, 
to make the best charcoal. See Robinson's Palestine, vol. i. p. 299. 
With the figures of the verse before us compare Ps. vii. 14 (13.) 
xviii. 13, 14 (12, 13.) cxl. 11 (10.) 

5. Alas for me, that I sojourn (with) Meshech (and) dwell near 
the tents of Kcdar ! The first verb seems elsewhere, in the same 
construction, to denote the act of dwelling with one, Ps. v. 
5 (4.) The Hebrew preposition in the last clause properly 
means with and denotes association and proximity. The English 
Bible, by twice employing our preposition in, obscures the mean- 
ing of both clauses, which is not that the people were in the 
power or even in the midst of the enemies here mentioned, but 
compelled to reside near them and to suffer from their neighbour- 
hood. Meshech is the name given in Gen. x. 2 to the Moschi, a 



PSALM CXX. 203 

barbarous people inhabiting the mountains between Colchis 
Armenia, and Iberia. Kedar was one of the sons of Ishmael 
(Gren. xxv. 13), whose name is sometimes used to designate an 
Arabian tribe (Isai. xxi. 16. xlii. 11 J, and in later Hebrew the 
Arabians generally. As these races, dwelling far off, in the north 
and south, were never in immediate or continued contact with 
the Israelites, they are probably named as types and representa- 
tives of warlike barbarism, just as the names Goths, Vandals, 
Huns, Turks, Tartars, Cossacks, have at different times been 
used proverbially in English, to describe those supposed to 
exhibit the same character, however unconnected or remote in 
genealogy and local habitation. A slight approach to the same 
usage was produced among ourselves by the revolutionary war, 
in reference to the national names, British and Hessian. In the 
case before us, it is evident from v. 6, that Meshech and Kedar 
are mere types and representatives of those who hate peace and 
delight in war. Compare Ezek. xxxviii. 2, where Meshech ap- 
pears as a chief leader under Gog, the great prophetic represent- 
ative of heathendom. 

6. My soul has dwelt too long for her with (one J hating peace. 
The substitution oi my soul for /implies the intimate conviction 
and the painful sense of what is here asserted. Too long, lite- 
rally, much or too much. As to this peculiar idiom, see above, on 
Ps. lxv. 10 (9.) For her may be an idiomatic pleonasm, adding 
nothing to the meaning of the verb, with which it must be read 
in close connection ; or it may have the meaning which the cor- 
responding phrase would naturally seem to have in English, for 
her good or for her interest. See above on Ps. lviii. 8 (7.) 
Hating peace is clearly a collective or aggregate expression, 
comprehending all denoted by the Meshech and Kedar of the 
preceding verse, as an ideal individual. 

7. I am peace j and when I speak, they (go) to ivar. The first 



204 PSALM CXXI. 

phrase resembles I am prayer in Ps. cix. 4, and seems to mean, I 
am all peace, nothing but peace, peace itself, i. e. entirely peace- 
ful or pacific. Speak may be an ellipsis for apeak peace, a 
phrase repeatedly occurring in the Psalms. See above, Ps. 
xxxv. 20. lxxxv. 9 (8), and below, Ps. cxxii. 8. The sense 
will then be, whenever I desire or propose peace. If the verb be 
absolutely understood, the sense is that every word he utters is 
made an occasion of attack or conflict. The double for, in the 
common version of this sentence, is as incorrect as the double in 
of v. 5, and more enfeebling to the sense. I am not only for 
peace, but am peace itself. They are not only for war t but arise, 
proceed, or address themselves to it. 



PSALM CXXI. 

1 . A Song for the Ascents. I raise my eyes to the mountains. 
Whence cometh my help 1 The title difFers from that of the pre- 
ceding psalm only in the use of the preposition for, instead of the 
simple genitive construction. This variation, though without 
effect upon the sense, is favourable to the explanation which has 
been already given of these titles, as a song for the ascents or pil- 
grimages to Jerusalem is certainly more intelligible than a song 
for the steps of the temple, and still more so than a song for the 
returns from exile, while the modern theory of climacteric re- 
sumptions fails altogether to account for the expression here used 
The whole psalm is a description of Jehovah as the guardian or 
protector of his people. The only material distinction of the 
parts is that arising from the alternate use of the first and second 
person, as in Ps. xci, which has led some to assume without ne- 



PSALM CXXI. 205 

cessity, that the psalm was intended to be sung by alternate or 
responsive choirs. The phrase to lift the eyes, though sometimes 
used to signify the mere act of directing them to an object, has 
its strict and full sense, when a higher object is particularly men- 
tioned, such as hills or heavens. The mountains here meant are 
the heights on which Jerusalem is built. It is not improbable 
that this psalm was intended to be sung when the pilgrims came 
in sight of the Holy City. Some suppose moreover that it was 
meant to be an evening song and used when they halted for the 
last night's rest before they reached Jerusalem. The relative 
construction of the last clause yields a good sense, but is not in 
perfect keeping with the usage of the compound particle 
(T.**??) which is elsewhere always interrogative. 

2. My help is from Jehovah, Maker of heaven and earth. The 
creative power of Jehovah is particularly mentioned, to demon- 
strate his ability to help his people. Compare Ps. cxv. 15. 

3. May he not suffer to he moved thy foot ; may he, not slumber 
— thy keeper. This is the expression of a wish, the only sense 
consistent with the form of the original. Let him not give up to 
moving thy foot. See above, Ps. xxxviii. 17 (16. ) Ixvi. 9 (8.) The 
figure is peculiarly appropriate in the mouth of pilgrims, making 
their way among the hills and rocks of Palestine. The same thing 
is true of the figures in the subsequent verses. 

4. Xo, he shall not slumber, and he shall not sleep — the keeper of 
Israel. What is desired in the third verse, is affirmed in 
this. The position of the subject at the end of the sentence, in 
both cases, is emphatic. Most interpreters assume a gradation in 
the meaning of the two verbs ' as if one denoted lighter and the 
other deep sleep ; but they differ on the question which is the 
stronger of the two expressions. The latest writers say the first 
See above, on Ps. iv. 9 (S.) 



•206 PSALM CXXI. 

5. Jehovah is thy kt&per ; Jehovah is thy shade upon thy right 
hand. The keeper or protector of Israel, who had twice been 
mentioned by that title, is now named. A shade or shadow is a 
common figure for protector, and the right hand often mentioned 
as the place of a protector. See above, on Ps. cix. 6. ex. 5, and 
compare Num. xiv. 9- 

6. By day the sun shall not smite thee, and the moon by night. 
The last clause does not necessarily refer to injurious effects pro- 
duced directly by the moon, but may be understood as a poetical 
description of all noxious influences operating in the night, over 
which the moon was constituted ruler at the time of its creation 
See Gen. i. 16. xxxi. 40. Jer. xxxvi. 30. 

7. Jehovah will keep thee from all evil ; he will keep thy soul. 
The protection which had been repeatedly promised to Israel on 
the part of God, is now described as extending to all evils and to 
the very life and soul. 

8. Jehovah ivill keep thy going out and thy coming in, from now 
even to eternity. This is the third repetition of the phrase, Jehovah 
will keep, i. e. keep safe, protect, preserve, as if to silence the 
misgivings of a weak or tempted faith, by the reiterated declara- 
tion of this cheering truth. Going out and coming in is a pro- 
verbial Hebrew phrase for all the occupations and affairs of life 
See Deut. xxviii. 6. 1 Sam. xxix. 6. The original reference is 
to man's going out to labour in the morning and returning home 
to rest at night. See above, on Ps. civ. 23. "With the last 
clause compare Ps. cxiii. 2. cxvi. 18. exxv. 2. The promise of 
eternal preservation is addressed directly to the church as such ; 
but that it involves the blessed immortality of individual believers, 
is admitted even by those least disposed to find allusions to the 
future state in the Book of Psalms. 



• 



PSALM CXXII. 207 



PSALM CXXII. 

1. A So7ig of the Ascents. By David. I rejoice in (those) 
toying to me, To the house of Jehovah we will go. This psalm, 
though so much older than the two before it, was probably placed 
third in the series, because it was intended to be sung, and was 
actually sung, at the entrance of the Holy City, whereas the 
others were used at the commencement of the march, and on 
coming in sight of Jerusalem. The ideal speaker represents the 
church or chosen people. After the introduction, vs. 1, 2, 
comes a panegyric on Jerusalem, as the royal and holy city, 
vs. 3 — 5, followed by a prayer for her prosperity as such, vs. 6 — 9. 
The Ascents, or upward' journeys of the people to the sanctuary, 
as in Ps. cxx. 1. exxi. 1. To rejoice in those saying is to rejoice 
because they say. On the last clause is founded Isai. ii. 3, where 
the gentiles are described as joining in the words here uttered by 
the Jews. 

2. Standing are our feet in thy gates, oh Jerusalem ! The com- 
mon version (shall stand) is entirely ungrammatical. The past 
tense of the substantive verb with the participle means strictly 
have been standing, i. e. have begun to stand, or are already 
standing. 

3. Jerusalem, the {one) built like a city which is joined to itself 
together. This seems to be a continuation of the address in the 
preceding verse. The unusual expressions in the last clause are 
intended to describe the city as substantially and strongly built. 
The sense is correctly given in the English Bible, a city that is 



208 PSALM CXXII. 

compact together. This seems to imply that Jerusalem had re- 
cently assumed this character, and may therefore help to de- 
termine the period in the reign of David, when the psalm was 
•written. See 2 Sam. v. 9. The abbreviated relative (rftSffiw) 
has by some been made a proof of later date ; but it no doubt 
belonged from the beginning to the dialect of common life, 
though not commonly employed in writing till a later date. 
It occurs in the song of Deborah, Judg. v. 7, and elsewhere in 
the Book of Judges (vi. 17. vii. 12. viii. 26.) 

4. Where the tribes go up, the tribes of Jah, (as) a testimony 
to Israel, to give tkanJis to the name of Jehovah. There is obvious 
reference to the requisition in Ex. xxiii. 17. xxxiv. 23. Deut. xvi. 
16, which is called a testimony, not merely as the law in general 
is (Ps. xciii. 5), but as a constant memorial of God's goodness to 
his people. The mention of the tribes seems to point to the 
period of the undivided monarchy. 

5. For there sit thrones for judgment, thrones for the house of 
David. This means simply that Jerusalem was a civil as well as 
a religious capital. There, literally thither, implying that the 
sino-ers were themselves in motion towards these thrones. Sit, or 
as we should say in English, stand. See below, Ps. cxxv. 1. 

6. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem ; may they have peace that 
love thee ! Peace, in both clauses, includes all prosperity. There 
is obvious allusion to the meaning of the name Jerusalem. See 
above, on Ps. Ixxvi. 3 (2.) 

7. Peace be within thy rampart, and repose within thy palaces. 
Peace and repose from all distracting causes, of whatever nature. 
Rampart, breast-work, circumvallation. Rampart and palaces 
are put for the outer and inner masses of building. Comparo Ps. 
xlviii. 14. 



PSALM CXXIII. 209 

8. For the sake of my brethren and my friends, let me speak, 
Peace (be) within thee. By brethren and friends we are to under- 
stand the whole body of the chosen people. For their sake may 
include the sense of in their behalf. The last clause admits of a 
different construction, Let me speak peace to thee, literally in thee. 
See above, on Ps. Ixxxv. 9 (8.) The optative meaning of the verb is 
determined by the particle hti\ the use of which here seems to be 
imitated in Ps. cxv. 2. cxvi. 4. 

9. For the sake of the house of Jehovah our God, I will seek thy 
good. The house of G-od is here the sanctuary and all the inter- 
ests of which it was the local centre. Jehovah our God, our pat- 
ron and protector, our peculiar covenant God. Seek includes 
every form of effort to promote it ; but the prominent idea is that 
of intercession. 



PSALM CXXIII. 

1 . A Song of the Asce7its. Unto thee do I raise my eyes, the 
(one) sitting in the heavens. This psalm contains an expression of 
solicitous desire for divine help, v. 1,2, a direct prayer for mercy, 
v. 3, and a statement of the circumstances which occasioned it. 
With the first clause compare Ps. exxi. 1, with the second, Ps. 
ii. 4. xi. 4. ciii. 19. cxiii. 3, 5. 

2. Behold, as the eyes of servants (are turned) to the hand of 
their masters, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so 
our eyes (are turned) to Jehovah our God, until he have mercy upon 
vs. The behold as, at the beginning, is equivalent to see how in 
English. Some suppose the act of looking towards the hand of a 



210 PSALM CXXIV, 

superior to denote desire of protection ; others an appeal to his 
bounty, as in Ps. civ. 27, 2S. cxlv. 15, 16 ; others an implied 
prayer that punishment may cease. Compare Gen. xvi. 6, 8, 9. 
Perhaps all these explanations err in being too specific, and the 
sense of the comparison is simply that they look with deference 
and trust to the superior power which controls them. 

3. Have mercy upon us, oh Jehovah, have mercy upon us ; for 
greatly are ice sated with contempt. This petition forms. the centre 
of the psalm, to which what goes before is introductory and what 
follows supplementary. The contempt is that of heathen neigh- 
bours, and especially that of the Samaritans, which is expressly 
mentioned in the history. See Neh. i. 3. ii. 19. 

4. Much sated in itself is our soul with the scorning of the secure, 
the contempt of the proud. In itself, literally, to or for itself, as 
in Ps. exxii. 3. Secure (sinners), those at ease, indifferent to the 
sufferings of others, and without apprehension of their own. Com- 
pare Ps. lxxiii. J 2. 



PSALM C X X I Y . 

1. A Song of the Ascents. By David. If (it had) not (been) 
Jehovah who was for us — oh let Israel say. This psalm consists 
of two parts, an acknowledgment of God as the deliverer of 
Israel, vs. 1 — 5, and a consequent determination to trust in him 
exclusively for future favours, v. 6 — 9. The verse before us 
propounds the theme of the whole composition, in a conditional 
and imperfect, but for that very reason a more striking form.. 



PSALM CXXIV. 211 

It is tantamount to saying, what if the Lord had not been for 
us ? — leaving the answer to the imagination of the reader. For 
us, in our favour, on our side ; or to us, belonging to us, ours, 
which really includes the other. See above, on Ps. lvi. 10 (9.) 
Oh that in the last clause represents (ao) the particle of entreaty. 
The common version (now) conveys the very different idea, at 
length, after all that we have suffered, let Israel so say. The mis- 
take is rendered more natural or rather unavoidable, to mere 
English readers, by the seeming antithesis between the now of 
this verse and the then of vs. 3, 4, 5, of which there is not the 
slightest trace in the original. 

2. If (it had) not (been) Jehovah who was for us, in the rising 
up of man against us — "What was left unfinished in the first verse, 
as a mere suggestion of the Psalmist's theme, is now repeated, for 
the purpose of being carried out. This is one of the rhetorical 
resumptions, which some modern critics hold to be the (irrib^fa) 
degrees, from which these fifteen psalms derived their common 
designation. With this verse compare Ps. lvi. 12 (11.) 

3. Then alive would they have swallowed us, in the kindling of 
their wrath against us. "With respect to the then at the begin- 
ning of this verse, there is danger of an error just the opposite of 
that already pointed out in reference to the now of v. 1. As the 
English reader would be almost sure to take that for a particle of 
time, which it is not, he would be equally certain to mistake this 
for a term of logic, meaning in that case, upon that supposition, 
or the like ; whereas it really means at that time, the well remem- 
bered time of our extremity, when God so wonderfully interposed 
for our deliverance. The Hebrew particle occurs in this form 
only here, and is consequently no more a proof of recent than of 
early date. Another word liable to misconstruction in the Eng- 
lish versions of this clause is quick, here used in its primary sense 
of living or alive, from which may be easily deduced its secondary 



212 PSALM CXXIV. 

sense of swift, implying lively motion. The historical allusion, in 
this and other like passages, is no doubt to the fate of Korah and 
his company. Compare Xum. xvi. 32, 33, where the same verb 
and adjective occur together. See above, on Ps. lv. 16 (15.J 
The plural pronoun their refers to the collective man in the pre- 
ceding verse. 

4. Then the waters would have overwhelmed us (and) a stream 
passed over our soul. The common version [had overwhelmed us) 
is entirely correct, and more poetical in form than that here given, 
but at the same time ambiguous, as the sentence, taken by itself, 
would seem to mean, that before the time signified by then, the 
waters had actually overwhelmed them, which was not the case. 
The figures are the same as in Ps. xviii. 5, 17 (4, 16.) cxliv. 7. 

5. Then had passed over our soul the ivaters, the proud (ivaters.) 
The waters are so described, partly because of the ideas suggested 
by their swelling (Ps. Ixxxix. 10), partly because they represent 
dangers arising from the selfish pride of human enemies. Some, 
without necessity, recur to the primary meaning of the root, and 
explain the adjective to mean boiling, effervescing. 

6. Blessed (be) Jehovah, who did not give us (as) prey to their 
teeth. By one of those rhetorical transitions which are constantly 
occurring in the figurative diction of the psalms, the enemies and 
dangers, which had just been represented as an overwhelming flood 
or torrent, are suddenly transformed into devouring beasts. See 
above, on Ps. iii. 8 (7.) Iviii. 7 (6.) With the benediction or dox- 
ology, blessed (be) Jehovah, compare Ps. xxviii. 6. xxxi. 22 (21.) 

7. Our soul is escaped, like a bird, from the snare of the fowlers ; 
ihe snare is broken and ice are escaped. We have here a second 
transition and a third comparison, to wit, that of the enemies to 
fowlers, and of their devices to snares or traps used in catching 



PSALM CXXV. 213 

birds. In the second clause there is an obvious climax. Not only 
is the bird gone, but the snare is broken. This is peculiarly ap- 
propriate to the restoration of the Jews from Babylon, which was 
occasioned by the fall of Babylon itself. With the figures of this 
verse compare Ps. xviii. 5 (4.) xci. 3. The English phrase is 
escaped , denoting a change of state, and not, like has escaped, a 
single act, is well suited to represent the Hebrew verb, which, 
though active in meaning, has the passive form. 

8. Our kelp is in the name of Jehovah, maker of heaven and 
earth. The conclusion drawn from the experience here recorded 
is, that he who had helped them must help them still. Our help 
for the future no less than the past. In the name of Jehovah, the 
manifested attributes, which constitute his name, in the peculiar 
dialect of Scripture, and especially of this book. See above, 
on Ps. v. 12 (11) xx. 2(1.) With this verse compare also Ps 
xxxiii. 22. cxxi. 2. 



PSALM C X X V . 

1. A Song of the Ascents. Those trusting in Jehovah (arc) 
like Mount Zion, (which) is not moved {hut) stands forever. This 
psalm contains an expression of strong confidence in the divine 
protection, vs. 1, 2, especially against wicked enemies, v. 3, with 
a prayer that this confidence may not go unrewarded, v. 4, and a 
prophetic anticipation of the fate of the ungodly, v. 5. The con- 
dition of the chosen people, here described or pre-supposed, as 
suffering from the spite of heathen enemies, not in captivity or 



214 PSALM CXXV. 

exile, but at Lome in their own land, and internally divided into 
two great parties, the sincere and hypocritical, agrees exactly 
with the period of the Restoration, and especially that part of it 
in which the building of the temple was suspended, as known to 
us from history and prophecy. The psalm before /us was well 
suited to alarm and warn the false Israel, as well as to encourage 
and support the true. According to Hengstenberg, it was in- 
tended, with the psalms before and after it, to form a trilogy, 
consisting of one ancient and two later compositions. Those 
trusting in Jehovah is a characteristic designation of the true 
church, the spiritual Israel, the chosen people. The meaning is 
not merely that they individually exercise this faith, but that col- 
lectively, or as a body, they are built upon it, and have no secu- 
rity except in the divine protection. Mount Zion, not as a figure 
for the church, which would then be compared with itself, but 
simply as a mountain, and like other mountains solid and endur- 
ing here selected as a sample or an emblem of these qualities, 
because it had also a religious pre-eminence, as the earthly seat 
and centre of the true religion. It is not (and shall not be) 
moved, shaken from its firm position. See above on Ps. 
xlvi. 6 (5.) Stands forever , literally, sits to eternity, the Hebrew 
idiom using one of these postures as we use the other, or rather 
using both as we use only one, to denote the opposite of vacilla- 
tion and prostration. See above, on Ps. exxii. 5. 

2. Jerusalem fhas) hills about her, and (soj Jehovah (is) about 
his people, from noio even to eternity. The site of Jerusalem, 
with its peculiar features, furnishes the psalmist with a striking 
image of the divine protection. As in v. 1, the permanent secu- 
rity of the church itself is likened to the firmness of Mount Zion 
on its base, so here the protecting care, which causes this secu- 
rity, is likened to the heights by which the city is surrounded 
upon all sides. The verb has, supplied in the translation 
of the first clause, is really a violation of the Hebrew 



PSALM CXXV. 215 

idiom, to which as well as to the kindred tongues the verb 
to have is utterly unknown. In our own idiom, however, 
it expresses the precise idea, and enables us to retain the Hebrew 
collocation, which assigns Jerusalem the first place in the sentence. 
The Hebrew corresponding to about is a compound phrase, con- 
sisting of a local adverb and a preposition, around as to. Jlis 
people, meaning those who trust him (v. 1), to the exclusion of all 
hypocrites and unbelievers. 

3. For not to rest is the rod of wickedness over the lot of the 
righteous, to the intent that the righteous may not put forth to 
iniquity their hands. This unusually long verse clearly shows the 
actual condition of the chosen people, here assumed or pre- 
supposed, as well known to the writer and original readers of the 
psalm. The present ascendency of wicked men is not inconsist- 
ent with the truth just stated, because it is to be brought to an 
end, lest the faith and patience of God's people should fail, and 
they should be tempted to renounce his service as unprofitable, 
nay as ruinous. Compare Ps. lxxiii. 13, 14. To rest, not mere- 
ly to remain, but to continue undisturbed. The rod or staff is 
here a symbol of authority, and might be rendered sceptre, if the 
subject of discourse were kings. See above on Ps. ii. 9. xlv. 7 (6.) 
The lot of the righteous, their share of the inheritance of the cho- 
sen people, at first distributed by lot. To. the intent indicates 
the reason why this undeserved superiority is not to last. The 
reason is founded not merely on the ill desert of the wicked, but 
on the interest and welfaro of the righteous. Put forth, or 
stretch out, literally send into. See the same construction, 
Gen. xxxvii. 22. Ex. xxii. 7, 10 (S, 11.) To touch iniquity is 
here to meddle with it, not, as some suppose, in the shape of re- 
venge merely, but in all its degrees and forms, by which tho 
righteous can be tempted. 

4. Do good, Oh Jehovah, to the good, and to (those) upright in 



216 PSALM CXXV. 

their hearts . These are additional descriptions of the truo church 
or spiritual Israel, to whom alone the promise of divine favour and 
protection had been given. Upright, literally straight, straight- 
forward, as opposed to all moral obliquity whatever. See above, 
on Ps. vii. 11 (10.) The prayer involves a prophetic declaration, 
that to such and such only, God will do good or act kindly in the 
highest sense. See above, on Ps. lxxiii. 1. 

5. And, (as to) those turning aside (in) their crooked (ways), 
Jehovah will let them go with the doers of iniquity. Peace (be) 
upon Israel! The participle in the first clause is properly a 
transitive and means causing to turn aside, but has here the sense 
of going aside, or turning in the intransitive sense, the English 
verb having precisely the same double usage. This construction 
of the Hebrew verb, which occurs also in Isai. xxx. 11. Job. 
xxiii. 11, may be resolved into the usual one, by supposing an 
ellipsis of their feet or steps. The adjective translated crooked oc- 
curs only here and in Judg. v. 6, where the noun (ivays or paths ) 
is expressed. It denotes the bye-ways of corrupt inclination and 
transgression, by which men deviate from the straight and narrow 
highway of God's commandments. Compare Deut. ix. 16. 
Mai. ii. 8, 9. The workers of iniquity are not a different class 
from these wanderers, but that to which they belong, and the 
doom of which they would gladly escape ; but the Lord will let 
them go on still with those whom they resemble in character, 
and as they have been like them by the way, they shall be like 
them in the end. Compare Ps. xxvi. 9. xxviii. 3. Having thus 
excluded hypocritical pretenders from the object .of the bene- 
diction, he concludes by wishing or invoking peace upon (the true 
or spiritual) Israel. Compare Isai. lvii. 19, 21. 



PSALM CXXVI. 217 



PSALM CXXYI. 

1. A Song of the Ascents. In Jehovah' *s turning (to) the turn- 
ing of Zion, ice were like (men) dreaming. The church acknow- 
ledges the good work of deliverance as joyfully begun, vs. 1 — 3, and 
prays that it may be completed, vs. 4 — 6. For the meaning and 
construction of the first verb see above, on Ps. xiv. 7. lxxxvi. 5 (4), 
and compare my note on Jsai. lii. S. Instead of the usual 
combination (tfiaip i^iB) return to the captivity, we have here one 
resembling it in form (ftn^E) STO) but meaning to return to the 
return or meet those returning, as it were, half-way. Compare 
Deut. xxx. 2, 3. James iv. S. The Hebrew noun denotes con- 
version, in its spiritual sense, and the verb God's gracious conde- 
scension in accepting or responding to it. The great historical 
example of this condescension, which the Psalmist had immedi- 
ately in view, was the deliverance from Babylon ; but the terms 
are so selected as to be appropriate to the most intimate personal 
experience of the same kind. Zion is here put for the church or 
chosen people, of which it was the local seat or centre. Like the 
dreamers or those dreaming, i. e. out of our ordinary normal 
state, and in an ecstasy or trance, arising from excess of joy. 
The idea of incredulity may be included, but must not be suffered 
to exclude all others. 

2. Then was filled with laughter our mouth, and our tongue 
with singing ; then said they among the nations, Jehovah hath done 
great things to these (people.) The particle (t») then is followed 
by the future in the sense of the preterite, in prose as well as 

VOL. III. 10. 



218 PSALM CXXVI. 

poetry. See Ex. xv. 1. Deut. iv. 41. Josh. 10, 12. There is 
no need therefore of supposing that the writer simply retained 
the future forms of the passage from which this was copied, 
namely, Job viii. 21. Laughter and singing, both as signs of 
joy. Done great things, literally magnified to do, an idiomatic 
phrase borrowed from Joel ii. 21. To these, literally with these, 
i. e. in his associations and transactions with them. 

3. Jehovah has done great things to us. We are joyful. This 
last is not a mere appendage to the first clause, we are glad that 
he has done great things for us, but an independent proposition, 
containing the proof of that by which it is preceded. He has 
indeed done much for us, for whereas we were lately wretched, 
we are now rejoicing, or more closely rendered, have become joy- 
ful. 

4. Turn, oh Jehovah, to our captivity, like the streams in the 
south. The prayer is that God will return to or revisit his peo- 
ple in their bondage or distress, and by necessary implication set 
them free from it. See above on v. 1, where we have a studied 
variation of this favourite expression. According to the usual 
interpretation (bring back our captivity), this verse is either incon- 
sistent with the first, or a proof that the restoration is not men- 
tioned there as past already. Like the streams in the south, as the 
temporary torrents in the dry southern district of Palestine re- 
appear in the rainy season, after having ceased to flow in the pre- 
ceding; drought. 

5 Those solving with weeping with singing shall reap. Those 
sowing, literally the solving, i. e. the (same persons or the very 
persons) sowing. With weeping, or in tears ; the Hebrew noun 
is a singular collective. See above, onPs. vi. 7 (6.) xxxix. 13 (12.) 
lvi. 9 (8.) Singing, as a vocal expression of joy. See above, 
on v- 2. The figures are natural and common ones for means 



PSALM CXXV I. 219 

and end, or for the beginning and the issue of any undertaking 
They may have been suggested here by the mention of the parch- 
ed and thirsty south, where the fears of the husbandman are 
often disappointed "by abundant rains and the sudden reappear- 
ance of the vanished streams. 

6. He may go forth, he may go forth, and weep, bearing (his) 
load of seed. He shall come, he shall come with singing, bearing 
sheaves. The emphatic combination of the finite tense with the 
infinitive is altogether foreign from our idiom, and very imper- 
fectly represented, in the ancient and some modern versions, by 
the active participle (venientes venient, coming they shall come), 
which conveys neither the peculiar form nor the precise sense of 
the Hebrew phrase. The best approximation to the force of 
the original is Luther's repetition of the finite tense, he shall 
come, he shall come, because in all such cases the infinitive is 
really defined or determined by the term which follows, and in 
sense, though not in form, assimilated to it. Load of seed, liter- 
ally drawing or draught of seed, an obscure phrase probably 
denoting that from which the sower draws forth seed to sow, or 
perhaps the seed itself thus drawn forth. The only analogous 
expression is in Am. ix. 13, where the sower is called (S^jn ttjpto) 
a drawer {forth) of seed. The common version (precious seed) 
has no foundation either in etymology or usage. The contrast so 
beautifully painted in this verse was realized in the experience of 
Israel, when " the priests and the levites, and the rest of the chil- 
dren of the captivity, kept the dedication of the house of God 
with joy" (Ezra vi. 16), " and kept the feast of unleavened 
bread seven days with joy, because the Lord had made them joy- 
ful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria unto them, to 
strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God 
of Israel" (Ezra vi. 22.) See also Nehemiah xii. 43. 



220 PSALM CXXVIT 



PSALM CXXVII. 

1. A Song of the Ascents. By Solomon. If Jehovah will not 
build a house, in vain toil its builders in it, If Jehovah will not 
keep a city, in vain watches (its) keeper. This is the central psalm 
of the series, having seven before and seven after it. This 
position it may owe to its being the only psalm of Solomon, 
whereas four are by David, and the remaining ten probably by 
one and the same author. See above, on Ps. cxx. 1. The ad- 
mission of this psalm among the Songs of Pilgrimage was proba- 
bly occasioned by its opening words, which, though admitting of 
a general application, were peculiarly appropriate to the building 
both of the first and second temple. It was perfectly natural, 
apart from all particular divine direction, that the rebuilders of 
the temple should rejoice to appropriate the words of Solomon, 
their great exemplar. The correctness of the title, which 
ascribes the psalm to him, is not only free from any plausible ob- 
jection, but abundantly confirmed by its internal character, its 
allusions to a state of high prosperity, and its resemblance to the 
Book of Proverbs, where the sentiment here uttered is frequently 
reiterated. See for example Prov. x. 22. The general princi- 
ple, that human care and toil are unavailing without God's bless- 
ing, is applied successively to several of the most familiar interests 
of real life. Beyond this the psalm admits of no subdivision. 
The first specification has respect to human dwellings, both on a 
small and on a large scale. The futures, will not build, will not 
keep, may also be explained as presents, builds not, keeps not. 
The phrase (is) in it or on it is to be connected with the verb and 



PSALM CXXVII 221 

not with builders. Watches, wakes, remains awake, but always 
with a view to the exercise of vigilance. See above on Ps. 
cii. 8, and compare Prov. viii. 34. The last word in Hebrew is 
properly the participle of the verb translated keep. 

2. It is in vain for you, rising up early, sitting down late, eat- 
ing the bread of cares (or troubles.) So he giveth his beloved sleep. 
The first phrase means, you labour in vain.- Rising up, not 
merely from sleep, but to labour, addressing yourselves to work. 
Sitting down, to rest when the work is done. The contrast is 
sufficiently maintained by the common version, sitting up late; 
but it is objected that the Hebrews did not work in a sitting pos- 
ture. Both these phrases are peculiar in their form — making 
early (or hastening) to rise — making late (or delaying) to sit. 
Bread of cares (or troubles) is bread earned by hard toil and con- 
sumed amidst it. There is obvious allusion to Gen. iii. 17, 19. 
The last clause is exceedingly obscure. Some understand it to 
mean that while others labour, God's beloved sleeps. But this 
is contradicted by notorious facts and inconsistent with the doc- 
trine of the Bible, and especially the Book of Proverbs, with re- 
spect to idleness and diligence: See Prov. vi. 9, 10. xxxi. 27. 
Another possible interpretation is that God gives his beloved re- 
freshing sleep after their labour, but this cannot be said of such 
exclusively. The latest writers understand the clause to mean, 
that what others hope to gain exclusively by labour, but in vain, 
the Lord bestows upon his people while they sleep, they know 
not how. According to this view of the passage, it must be trans- 
lated, so, i. e. such, namely, what they thus seek, he gives to his 
beloved one (in) sleep. This, which is not a very obvious con- 
struction, derives some additional colour from the seeming allusion 
to Solomon's name Jedidiah (2 Sam. xii. 25), the Beloved of the 
Lord, and to the promise of prosperity communicated to him in a 
dream (1 Kings iii. 5, 15.) 



222 PSALM CXXVII. 

3. Lo, a heritage fr om Jehovah (are) children ; a reward (is) 
the fruit of the womb. What is true of dwellings and the means 
of subsistence is no less true of those for whom these advantages 
are commonly provided. An inheritance or heritage, i. e. a val- 
uable possession derived from a father. Children, literally sons, 
a term very often used indefinitely. A reward or hire, the ex- 
pression used by Leah, in naming her son Issachar, Gen. xxx. 18. 
In the same chapter (G-en. xxx. 2) children are called the fruit 
of the womb, and represented as the gift of God. See also 
Deut. vii 13. 

4. As arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the sous of youth. 
The first clause describes them as defenders of their parents. A 
warrior, literally, a strong or (mighty) one. Sons of youth, i. e. 
born while their parents are still young. See G-en. xxxvii. 3. 
Isai. liv. 6. The allusion is not only to their vigour (Gen. xlix. 
3), but to the value of their aid to the parent in declining age. 

5. Happy the man who has filled his quiver with them — they shall 
not be put to shame — they shall speak with adversaries in the gate. 
The first clause carries out the figure of arrows in the verse pre- 
ceding. The mention of the gate, in the last clause, as the place 
both of commercial and judicial business, seems to mark a transi- 
tion from martial to forensic conflict, and to show that the ene- 
mies or adversaries here meant are adverse parties in litigation. 
See above, on Ps. lxix. 13 (12.) For a striking contrast to this 
picture, see Job v. 4. This last example, although perfectly in 
keeping with the views of the ancient Israelites in general, seems 
peculiarly natural and life-like in a psalm of Solomon 



PSALM CXXVIII. 223 



PSALM CXXVIII. 

1. A Song of Ascents. Happy is every fearer of Jehovah , tht 
{one) walking in his ways. This psalm seems intended to assure 
the tempted and discouraged people of Judah, under the most 
adverse circumstances, that devotion to his service cannot lose its 
reward. As if he had said, however things may now seem to 
an eye of sense, it is still a certain truth, that the truly happy 
man is he who fears Jehovah, not in mere profession, but who 
testifies his fear of him by walking in his ways or doing his com- 
mandments. 

2. The labour of thy hands when thou shalt eat, happy thou and 
well with thee. The promise implied is the opposite of the threaten- 
ing in Deut. xxviii. 33. Lev. xxvi. 16. What the enemies of 
Israel are there described as doing, it is here said that Israel shall 
do himself. Well with thee, literally, good for thee. The con- 
junction h^) in the first clause is not to be construed as in Ps. 
cxviii. 10, but as a particle of time. Happy thou, or oh thy 
happinesses, is an expression borrowed from Deut. x^xiii. 29. 

3. Thy wife, as a fruitful vine -J the sides of thy house; thy 
sons, as olive-plants around thy tahle. The word translated sides 
always means the edge or border, and, according to some, the 
innermost part. See above, on Ps. xlviii. 3 (2.) Sons, as usual, 
represent the children of both sexes. The olive-plants are em- 
blems of luxuriance and fruitfulness. See above, on Ps. Hi. 10 



224 PSALM CXXVIII. 

(S), and compare Jer. xi. 16. The Hebrew for around or about 
is the same as in Ps. cxxv. 2. 

4. See — -for so shall be blessed the man fearing Jehovah. The 
lo or behold at the beginning is equivalent to saying, Look upon 
this picture, for it represents the state of one who truly fears the 
Lord. Although such a connection between goodness and pros- 
perity was far more uniform and constant under the Old Testa- 
ment than now, it is not to be supposed that these promises were 
actually verified in the experience of every godly Israelite. This 
has led some of the most eminent interpreters to the conclusion, 
that the promises of this psalm are not personal at all, but ad- 
dressed to an ideal person representing the whole class of true 
believers, the true Israel. 

5. Jehovah bless thee out of Zion, and look thou upon the ic elf are 
of Jerusalem. The consecution of the future and imperative is 
the same as in Ps. ex. 2. The latter might therefore be trans- 
lated as a promise, the Lord shall bless thee, but the optative mean- 
ing seems more natural in this connection. In either case, the 
imperative conveys substantially the same idea. See above, on 
Ps. xxxvii. 3, 4, 27. From Zion, as his earthly residence, the 
seat of the theocracy. See above, on Ps. xx. 3 (2.) Look upon, 
with joy and triumph. See above, on Ps. xxii. IS (17.) xxxvii. 
34. liv. 9 (8.) Welfare, literally goodness, not of character but 
of condition, good fortune. The Hebrew word occurs above, Ps. 
cxix. 66. 

6. And see thou sons to thy sons. Peace (be) upon Israel ! The 
first clause is a virtual promise of long life — thou shalt see thy child- 
renh children. An interesting parallel is furnished by Zech. viii. 
4, the whole of which chapter is indeed a prophetic commentary 
on this psalm. For the meaning of the last clause, see above, on 
Ps. cxxv. 5. 



PSALM CXXIX. 225 



PSALM CXXIX. 

1. A Song of the Ascents. Many (a time) have they distressed 
fne from my youth — oh let Israel say ! On the recollection of de- 
liverances in times past, vs. 1 — 4, rests the hope of others in time 
to come, vs. 5 — S. The first word after the inscription properly 
means much or too much. See above, on Ps. cxx. 6. cxxiii. 4. 
But most interpreters agree in referring it to time, as in the Eng- 
lish version, many a time or often. The youth of Israel, as a na- 
tion, was the period of his residence in Egypt. See Hos. ii. 17. 
Jer. ii. 2. xxii. 21. Ezek. xxiii. 3. For the optative meaning of 
the last clause, and the true sense of the Hebrew particle (**?), 
see above, on Ps. cxviii. 2. cxxiv. 1. Distressed, persecuted or 
oppressed me. Compare the use of the participle in Ps. vi. 8 (7.) 
vii. 5 (4.) xxiii. 5. 

2. Many {a time) have they distressed me from my youth ; yet 
have they not prevailed against me. The statement in the first 
verse is repeated, for the sake of being joined with one of a more 
cheering character. Yet, literally, also. As if he had said : it is 
true that they have so done, but it is also true, etc. Prevailed 
against me, literally, been able (as) to me, i. e. able to accomplish 
their designs respecting me. See Gen. xxxii. 26 (25), and com- 
pare Ps. xiii. 5 (4.) 

3. Upon my back ploughed ploughers ; they made long their fur- 
rows. The expression, on my back seems to show that the allusion 

10* 



226 PSALM CXXIX. 

is to wounds produced by stripes. As if he had said, 'my back 
was furrowed by their whips or scourges. We have here then an 
example of the image of an image. The ploughing is a figure for 
scourging, and the scourging a figure for the manifold sufferings 
inflicted upon Israel by his cruel enemies. 

4. Jehovah (is) righteous ; he cut the. cord of the wicked. He is 
righteous, and therefore faithful to his promise, and to his cove- 
nant engagements to his people. The cord (not cords) is that 
which fastened the ox to the plough. This continuation of the 
figure in v. 3 is much more natural than the assumption of a new 
one, that of confinement by the tying of the limbs, as in Ps. ii. 3. 
According to the first translation above given, the meaning of the 
clause is, that Jehovah put an end to their inflictions by a violent 
separation from their victim. 

5. Shamed and turned lack are fand shall be) all haters of 
Zion. What Jehovah has already done for Zion, as recorded in 
v. 4, creates and justifies the confident belief, that he will do still 
more. This language was peculiarly appropriate to Israel at the 
Restoration, when the main deliverance had already been accom- 
plished, but others were still needed to complete the happy 
revolution. With the first clause compare Ps. vi. 11 (10.) 
xxxv. 4 (3.) xl. 14 (13.) 

6. They shall be like the grass of the house-tops, which, before 
one pulls (it) , withers. The flat roofs of the oriental houses 
being often covered with earth, grass and weeds readily spring up, 
but having no depth of root soon wither. Compare my note on 
Isai. xxxvii. 27, from which place the figure is here borrowed. 
The common version (afore it groweth up) is founded on Je- 
rome's (statim ut viruerit.) The other is supported by the Sep- 
tuagint and Vulgate (ngb tou ix(j7ta<j6T]Pav ? priusquam evcllatur), 



PSALM CXXIX. 227 

and by the usage of the verb (*]Bir*) in the sense of drawing 
(a sword), drawing off (a shoe) etc. 

7. (With) which the reaper fills not his hand and his bosom, 
(when) binding sheaves. The ephemeral and worthless vegeta- 
tion of the house-top is contrasted still further with the useful pro- 
ducts of the earth, in order to contrast still more strongly the 
end of the righteous and the wicked. The last Hebrew word is 
translated above strictly as a participle of the verb (^lfas) to bind 
or gather sheaves, and may agree with (l-TiJ?) reaper in the first 
clause. Since the latter, however, is itself a participle used as a 
noun, most interpreters put the same construction on the other 
word, and suppose it to denote a different person from the reaper. 
With which the reaper fills not his hand nor his bosom the sheaf- 
binder. The word translated bosom is explained by lexicogra- 
phers to mean the front fold of the oriental robe, in which things 
are carried. It might also be translated lap. Hengstenberg's 
version is his arm. Compare my note on Isai. xlix. 22. 

8 JSTor do the passers by say, The blessing of Jehovah fcome) 
unto you, we bless you in the name of Jehovah. The negative 
description is still carried out, with unusual distinctness and par- 
ticularity. This verse affords an interesting glimpse of ancient 
harvest usages, confirmed by the historical statement in Ruth ii. 4, 
from the analogy of which place it is altogether probable, although 
denied by some, that there is here allusion to the alternate or 
responsive salutations in common use among the people. We 
may then supply in thought before the last clause, nor receive 
the customary answer. As the Hebrew preposition before you 
does not mean on but to or unto, it seems better to supply come 
than be. With this verse compare Ps. cxviii. 26. 



228 PSALM CXXX. 



PSALM CXXX. 

1. A Song of Ascents. Out of the depths do L invcKe thee, oh 
Jehovah ! This is the penitential psalm of the series, in which 
the guilt of the chosen people is distinctly acknowledged, as the 
cause of its calamities, hut not as an occasion of despair. After 
an introductory petition to be heard, vs. 1, 2, comes the indirect 
confession of sin, vs. 3, 4, then an expression of strong confidence, 
vs. 5, 6, and an exhortation to Israel to indulge the same, vs. 7, 8. 
The distinction made in this last stanza, between Israel at large 
and the penitent who utters the previous confession, would seem 
to show, that the latter is to be conceived of as an individual, 
and not as representing the whole people. But the best inter- 
preters are of opinion, that the distinction is entirely formal, and 
that the object of address in the last stanza is identical with the 
person speaking in the others. See above, on Ps. lxix. 3, 15 
(2, 14), and compare Isai. li. 10, in all which places the word 
translated depths occurs, and in the same sense, as a figure for 
extreme dejection and distress. The figure itself is also used in 
Ps. xl. 3.(2.) Ezek. xxvii. 34. 

2. Lord, hearken to my voice ; let thine ears be attentive to the 
voice of my supplications. The first word in Hebrew is (^'la) 
the one strictly meaning Lord, and showing that the prayer is 
offered to a sovereign God. The common verb (9tod) to hear is 
here construed with a preposition (s), thus resembling, in its syn- 
tax, our verbs hearken, listen. The adjective attentive is peculiar 



PSALM CXXX. 229 

to the later Hebrew, though its verbal root is of frequent occur- 
rence in the psalms. Supplications, prayers for grace or mercy 
See above, on Ps. xxviii. 6. xxxi. 23 (22.) 

3. If iniquities thou, mark, oh Jah — oh Lord, who shall stand ? 
This interrogation clearly implies consciousness of guilt, and is 
therefore an indirect confession of it. To mark is to note, take 
notice of, observe. The Hebrew verb is used in precisely the 
same manner, Job x. 14. xiv. 16. To stand is to stand one's 
ground, maintain one's innocence, and perhaps in this case, to 
endure one's sentence. See above, on Ps. i. 6, and compare 
Nah. i. 6. Mai. iii. 2. The question is equivalent to a strong 
negation, or an affirmation that none can stand. 

4. For with thee (there is) forgiveness, to the intent that thou 
may est be feared. The for has reference to a thought suppressed 
but easily supplied. Since none can stand, oh Lord, forgive, for 
with thee, etc. Or, since none can stand, our only hope is in 
free forgiveness, for with thee etc. With thee, belonging to 
thee, exercised by thee. The word rendered forgiveness is pecu- 
liar to the later Hebrew ; its plural form occurs in Neh. ix. 17. 

The forgiveness that we need, the (only) forgiveness that is avail- 
able or attainable. To the, intent, for this very purpose, not 
merely so that, as an incidental consequence. Fear or godly 
reverence is here represented as one fruit and evidence of par- 
doned sin. 

5. I id ait for Jehovah — my soul toaits — and in his word do I 
hope. The last verb also means to wait for his word, i. e the 
fulfilment of his promise, as in Ps. cxix. 74, 81, 82, 114, 147. 
My soul waits, I wait with all my soul or heart. My powers and 
affections are absorbed in this earnest expectation. 

6. My soul (waits) for the Lord more than ( those) watching 



230 PSALM CXXX. 

for the morning — watching for the morning. There is some- 
thing beautiful and touching in this simple repetition, though it is 
not easy to account for its effect, which is sensibly impaired by 
the attempt made in the English version to relieve the baldness 
of the iteration, I say more than they that watch for the morning. 
The comparison suggested is between the impatience of nocturnal 
watchers for the break of day and that of sufferers for relief, or 
of convicted sinners for forgiveness. 

7. Hope thou, Israel, in Jehovah ; for with Jehovah (is) mercy, 
and abundantly with him redemption. The third person used in 
the English Bible (let Israel hope in the Lord) is an inaccuracy 
the more remarkable because not found in the Prayer Book Ver- 
sion (Oh Israel, trust in the Lord.) In Jehovah, literally to him, 
i. e. look to him with confident expectation, as in Isai. li. 5. 
The construction in the last clause is idiomatic and not suscepti- 
ble of close translation. The word corresponding to abundantly 
is the infinitive of a verb meaning to increase or multiply, but is 
often used adverbially in the sense of much, greatly, or abun- 
dantly. See above, on Ps. li. 4 (2.) Redemption, deliverance, 
especially from bondage, that of Babylon in Ps. cxi. 9, that of 
sin or condemnation in the case before us. 

8. And He will redeem Israel from all his iniquities. The pro- 
noun is emphatic ; only trust him for redemption, and he will 
himself redeem thee. As the first clause shows by whom Israel 
is to be redeemed, to wit, by God alone, so the second shows 
from what, to wit, from sin, as the cause of his sufferings. This 
is a very significant variation of the older passage, Ps. xxv. 22, 
where the sufferings alone are expressly mentioned. 



PSALM CXXXI. 231 



PSALM CXXXI. 

1. A Song of Ascents. By David. Oh Jehovah, not haughty 
is my heart, and not lofty are my eyes, and I meddle not with great 
(things) and (with things) too wonderful for me. This short 
psalm is perfectly in David's manner^ as well as his spirit, dis- 
playing in a high degree that childlike royalty, in which he is 
resembled by no other even of the sacred writers. Haughty, lite- 
rally high, but with particular reference to hauteur or loftiness of 
spirit. Lofty eyes are mentioned elsewhere by David himself as 
a sign of pride. See Ps. xviii. 28 (27.) ci. 5. The elation here 
described is elsewhere represented as the natural fruit of undis- 
turbed prosperity. See Deut. xxxii. 15. 2 Cbron. xxvi. 16. xxxii. 
25. This confirms the Davidic origin of the psalm, and shows that 
it was only adaptedjby the later writer to his own purpose, when the 
original conception would have been almost impossible. Meddle, 
literally, walk or walk about, i. e. employ or (as the English versions 
have it) exercise myself. Too wonderful for me, wonderfully 
done (more) than I (can comprehend.) The great and wonderful 
things meant are God's secret purposes and sovereign means for 
their accomplishment, in which man is not called to co-operate 
but to acquiesce. As David practised this forbearance by his 
patient expectation of the kingdom, both before and after the 
death of Saul, so he here describes it as a characteristic of the 
chosen people. 

2. (God knows) if I have not soothed and quieted my soul, as a 
weaned (child leans) upon his mother ; as a weaned (child leans) 



232 PSALM CXXXI. 

on me my soul. The first clause contains a strong asseveration, in 
the idiomatic form of an ancient oath, very feebly represented by 
our adverb surely. See above, on Ps. lxxxix. 36 (35.) The word 
translated soothed means rather smoothed, levelled, as in Isai. 
xxviii. 25. Quieted, stilled, hushed, reduced to silence. The 
repeated use of the preposition on in this connection is so marked 
and striking, that it seems to make it necessary to supply a verb 
with which it may be construed. This is certainly better than to 
give it a different meaning in the two clauses, or in both one which 
does not belong to it. In the version above given, the comparison 
suggested is between a weaned child, quietly reposing on its moth- 
er's breast, without desiring to be suckled as of old, and the soul of 
the Psalmist, by a bold conception represented as his child, and 
acting in like manner. Hengstenberg denies that there is any 
reference to the mother's milk, or that weaned has any other 
meaning here than that of infant or young child, as in Isai. xi. 8. 
xxviii. 9. The comparison is then coincident with that in Matth. 
xviii. 3, 4. But the use of the word weaned, which was here re- 
quired by no parallelism as in Isaiah, and the singular aptness of 
the figure suggested by the word when strictly understood, have 
led most interpreters, and will probably lead inost readers, to pre- 
fer the obvious and strict interpretation. 

t 
3. Hope thou, Israel, in Jehovah, from now even to eternity. 

This is the opposite of the feeling disavowed in the preceding 

verses. From the first clause that of Ps. cxxx. 7 was no doubt 

borrowed by the later writer, who prefixed that psalm to the one 

before us. With the last clause compare Ps. cxxi. 8. 



PSALM CXXXII. 233 



PSALM CXXXII. 

1. A Song of Ascents Remember, oh Jehovah, for David, all 
his affliction. This psalm contains a commemoration of David's 
zeal for the house of God, vs. 1 — 9, and a prayer that it may be 
rewarded by the fulfilment of the promise to him and to his house, 
vs. 10 — 18. The* common version {remember David and all his 
afflictions) omits a preposition and inserts a conjunction, both 
without necessity. The same verb and preposition (b 1ST) are 
combined elsewhere, in the sense of remembering something in a 

7 O O 

person's favour, to his advantage, for his benefit. See above, on 
Ps. xcviii. 3. cvi. 45. cxix. 49. So here : remember, in behalf 
of David, how he was distressed. The common version of this 
last phrase {all his afflictions) supposes the Hebrew word (tviaS) 
to be a plural noun, whereas it is the infinitive of the passive verb 
(ra!p) to be afflicted or distressed (Ps. cxix. 71), and is therefore 
more correctly rendered in the Prayer Book {all his trouble.) 
The precise sense is, his being afflicted. The distress referred to 
is the great anxiety which David felt, first to reunite the ark and 
tabernacle, and then to build a more permanent sanctuary. This 
zeal for the house of God is one of the most characteristic features 
in the history of David, and for this he was rewarded, not only 
with a promise that his son should execute his favourite design, 
but also with a promise that God would build a house for him, by 
granting a perpetual succession in his family upon the throne of 
Judah. This promise seemed to be forgotten at the time of the 
Captivity, and even after the first Restoration, when the house of 
David was reduced so low, that its hereditary representative, 



234 PSALM CXXXII. 

Zerubbabel, never even bore the royal title. The form of the 
petition in this verse is copied from that of Solomon, at the dedi- 
cation of the temple, as recorded in 2 Chron. vi. 42. 

2. Who swore to Jehovah, vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob. 
This last expression is borrowed, both here and in Isai. i. 24, from 
Jacob himself. See Gen. xlix. 24. 

3. If I go into the tent (which is) my house, if I go up on the 
bed (which is) my couch. The elliptical form of swearing here 
used is equivalent to saying, i" will not go. See above, 
on Ps. cxxxi. 2. The tent my house, the couch my bed, are 
mere poetical expressions for the house where I dwell, the couch 
where I lie. Instead of being in apposition, however, they may 
be in regimen, the tent of my house, the couch of my bed, i. e. the 
dwelling place of my house, the resting place of my bed. 

A. If I give sleep to my eyes, to my eyelids slumber. This is a 
part of the sentence begun in v. 3 and completed in v. 5. The 
promise is, of course, not to be absolutely understood, but as 
meaning, that he would not sleep at ease, or abandon himself to 
undisturbed repose, till the condition was complied with. 

5. Until I find a place for Jehovah, dwellings for the Mighty 
One of Jacob. The implication in the first clause, that Jehovah 
was without a place on earth, may remind us of Christ's memor- 
able saying, Matt. viii. 20. Luke ix. 58. The word translated dwel- 
lings is peculiarly expressive /because, although strictly a generic 
term, it is specially applied in usage to the sanctuary with its 
enclosures and appendages. See above, on Ps. lxxxiv. 2 (1.) 

6. Lo, ice heard it in Ephrathah ; ice found it in the fields of 
the wood. These are most probably the words of David and his 
contemporaries, with respect to the recovery of the ark. We 



PSALM CXXXII. 235 

heard it, or heard of it, i. e. of the ark, implying that they did 
not see it, that it was out of public view. In Ephrathah has 
been variously explained. Some suppose it to mean Ephraim, as 
Ephrathi means 'an Ephraimite, and apply the words to Shiloh, 
where the ark was long deposited. But Ephrathah itself is never 
80 used elsewhere, and the ark, while at Shiloh, was as much in 
public view as at Jerusalem. Others, because Bethlehem Eph- 
rathah and Bethlehem Judah are convertible expressions (1 Sam. 
xvii. 12. Mic. v. 1), make Ephrathah another name for Judah, 
which it never is, however, when it stands by itself. The only 
explanation, equally agreeable to usage and the context, is that 
which makes Ephrathah the ancient name of Bethlehem (Gen. 
xlviii. 7), here mentioned as the place where David spent his 
youth, and where he used to hear of the ark, although he never 
saw it till long afterwards, when he found it in the fields of the 
wood, or in the neighbourhood of Kirjath-jearim, which name 
means Forest-town or City of the Woods. Compare 1 Sam. vii. 1 
with 2 Sam. vi. 3, 4. 

7. Let us come to his dwellings ; let us low down to his foot- 
stool. Another step is here taken in reviewing the history of the 
sanctuary and of David's zeal for it. These are such words as 
might have been spoken at the public and solemn introduction of 
the ark into Jerusalem. As if it had been said : the ark of God 
has long been lost or out of sight, but now that a dwelling is provi- 
ded for it on Mount Zion, let us come etc. Without any material 
change of sense, the future form may be retained, and the para- 
gogic augment understood to express a strong determination. 
Now that the ark is established on Mount Zion, we will come etc. 
With respect to the representation of the ark as the footstool of 
Jehovah, and the act of bowing down to it, see above, on Ps 
xcix. 5. 

8. Arise y Jehovah, to thy resting-place, thou and, the ark of thy 



236 PSALM CXXXII. 

strength. Here again the form of expression is borrowed from the 
words of Solomon at the dedication of the temple, as recorded in 
2 Chr. vi. 41. This shows that the Psalmist regarded Solomon 
as merely carrying out his father's plan, or acting as the executor 
of his will, which is in fact the mutual relation of these personages 
as they appear in sacred history. A more remote allusion 
may he traced to Num. x. 35. See above, on Ps. lxviii. 2(1.) 
The word translated resting-place has here its proper meaning as 
a local noun. The last clause shows the true import of the ark 
in the Mosaic system, as a pledge and token of Jehovah's pres- 
ence, so that its solemn entrance into Zion was the entrance of 
the Lord himself, and to bow down to it was to worship him. The 
ark of thy strength is by some, in accordance with a common 
Hebrew idiom, resolved into thy ark of strength, and that into thy 
strong (or mighty) ark. It is simpler, however, and in this case 
yields a better meaning, to retain the original expression in its 
obvious sense, the ark which assures us of the presence and exer- 
tion of thy power for our protection. 

9. Let thy priests he clothed with righteousness, and let thy saints 
shout (or sing.) This is the conclusion of the sentence quoted 
from 2 Chr. vi. 41. Instead of righteousness we there read salva- 
tion, which has led some to explain the two words as synonymous, 
while others understand by righteousness the practical justification 
which salvation carries with it. Another possible construction is 
to take the righteousness as that of God, which is displayed in 
the salvation of his people, and in which his priests, who officially 
declared it, might be said to clothe themselves. See the same 
figure in Job xxix. 14. Saints, gracious ones, or true believers. 
The parallel passage has, rejoice in good or goodness. 

10. For the sake of David thy servant, turn not away the face 
of thine Anointed. The most obvious construction of this verse 
is that which makes it intercede, on the ground of the divine par- 



PSALM CXXXII. 237 

tiality to David, for another person, supposed by some to be one 
or more of his successors in the kingly office, by others Israel at 
large. A comparison, however, of the place from which the 
words are borrowed (2 Chron. vi. 42) and of v. 17 below, makes 
it highly probable that both clauses relate to David himself. 
This may be rendered clearer and more natural by making the 
first clause an elliptical petition, entirely distinct from the second. 
For the sake of David thy servant (grant these requests which are 
really his) ; tu rn not away (his face which is) the face of thine Anoint- 
ed. The frequency with which God is urged to hear and answer 
prayer /or Davidh sake (1 Kings xi. 12, 13. xv. 4. 2 Kings viii. 19, 
etc.) is not to be explained by making David mean the promise 
to David, nor from the personal favour of which he was the 
object, but from his historical position, as the great theocratical 
model, in whom it pleased God that the old economy should 
reach its culminating point, and who is always held up as the type 
and representative of the Messiah, so that all the intervening 
kings are mere connecting links, and their reigns mere repetitions 
and continuations of the reign of David, with more or less resem- 
blance as they happened to be good or bad. Hence the frequen- 
cy with which his name appears in the later Scriptures, com- 
pared with even the best of his successors, and the otherwise 
inexplicable transfer of that name to the Messiah himself. It is 
in this unique character and office, as the Servant of the Lord, 
that David is here mentioned, first by his own name, and then as 
the Anointed King of Israel, whose face Jehovah is entreated 
not to turn away, a figure* for refusing him an audience, or at 
least denying his petition, which we know to have been used in 
David's times. See the Hebrew of 1 Kings ii. 16, 17, 20. 

11. Sworn hath Jehovah to David ^in) truth^he will not turn 
back from it : Of the fruit of thy body I ivill place on the throne 
for thee. See above, on Ps. lxxxix. 4, 36 (3, 35), and compare 
2 Sam. vii. 28. Turn back, recede from his engagement, or fail 



238 PSALM CXXXII. 

to perform it. Of the fruit , from among thy posterity or offspring. 
On the throne, literally to or for it. See above, on Ps. ix. 5 (4.) 
For thee, in thy place, as thy representatives, or (belonging) to 
thee, i. e. thy throne. 

12. If thy sons will observe my covenant and my testimonies 
which I teach them, (then) likewise their sons unto perpetuity shall 
sit upon the throne for thee. This is the condition of the promise, 
the breach of which accounts for the apparent violation of the 
promise itself. Such a suspension of the promise was not only 
just in itself, but foreseen and provided for (2 Sam. vii. 14, 15), 
as something perfectly consistent with the perpetuity of the en- 
gagement, i" teach you refers not only to external legislation, but 
to spiritual guidance and illumination. 

13. For Jehovah has chosen Zion,has desired (it) for a dwell- 
ing for him. Besides the oath and promise made directly to 
David, the petition of the psalm is here enforced by the divine 
choice of Zion, which was inseparably connected with the exalta- 
tion of the family of David. See the same thing asserted or im- 
plied, Ps. xliii. 2(1.) lxv. 2 ( 1.) exxv. 2. As in vs. 11, 12, the 
last words in Hebrew (ib) may be also rendered to him, belong- 
ing to him, his dwelling. 

14. This is my resting-place to perpetuity ; here will I dioell, 
because I have, desired it. These are the words of God, though 
not expressly so described. See above, on Ps. lxxxvii. 4. lxxxix. 
4, 5 (3, 4.) The word translated dwell means originally to sit, 
and especially to sit enthroned, so that this idea would be neces- 
sarily suggested with the other to a Hebrew reader. See above, 
on Ps. xxix. 10. lv. 20 (19.) cii. 13 (12.) exxiii. 1. 

15. Her provision I will bless, I will bless ; her poor I icill 
satisfy (with) bread. The repetition of the verb may express 



PSALM CXXXII. 239 

either certainty or fulness. I will surely bless, or I will bless 
abundantly. See above, on Ps. exxvi. 6. The word translated 
provision is a cognate form to that in Ps. lxxviii. 25. Satisfy, 
amply or abundantly supply. 

16. And her priests I will clothe with salvation ; and her saints 
shall shout, shall shout (for joy.) This is the promise correspond- 
ing to the prayer in v. 9. The word salvation, for which right- 
eousness was substituted there, is here restored from the original 
passage, 2 Chron. vi. 41. The last verb in Hebrew means to 
express joy by shouting or singing. As to the emphatic repetition, 
see above, on v. 15. 

17. There will I make to bud a horn for David ; I have trimmed 
a, lamp for mine Anointed. These are common figures in the 
Scripture for strength and prosperity. See above, on Ps. xviii 
(10), 29 (28.) lxxxix. 18 (17.) xcii. 11, and compare 1 Sam. ii. 1. 
2 Sam. xxi. 17. Ezek. xxix. 21. The last clause contains an 
allusion to the Law, which cannot be preserved in any version. 
The word translated lamp is used to designate the several burners 
of the golden candlestick (Ex. xxv. 37. xxxv. 14. xxxvii. 23. 
xxxix. 37), and the verb here joined with it is the one applied to 
the ordering or tending of the sacred lights by the priests (Ex. 
xxvii. 21. Lev. xxiv. 3.) The meaning of the whole verse is, 
that the promises of old made to David and to Zion should be yet 
fulfilled, however dark and inauspicious present appearances. 

18. His enemies I will clothe with shame, and on him shall bloom 
his crown. The pronouns refer to David, as the Lord's Anointed, 
mentioned in v. 17. The fierure in the first clause is the converse 
or counterpart of that in vs. 9, 1.6, and the same with that in 
Ps. xxxv. 26. cix. 29. With (he last clause compare Ps. lxxxix. 
40 (39.) The verb to bloom or blossom agrees well with the idea 
of a wreath or chaplet. Compare the buaquvuvov aieqarov of 



240 PSALM CXXXIII. 

1 Pet. v. 4. Some prefer, however, to retain what they regard as 
the original meaning of the Hebrew verb : on him shall his crown 
shine (or glitter.) See above, on Ps. lxxii. 16. 



PSALM CXXXIII. 

1. A Song of Ascents. By David. Behold, how good and 
how pleasant (is) the dwelling of brethren also together. This 
psalm is an effusion of holy joy occasioned by the sight of the 
gathering of Israel as one great household at the yearly feasts. It 
is distinguished from the later compositions of this series by the 
absence of complaint or lamentation, while its freshness and viva- 
city and antique phraseology confirm the title which ascribes it to 
David. The idiomatic use of (&5) also in the last clause is not 
easily transferred to any other language. The meaning may be, 
that although the children of Israel were brethren even when 
divided and dispersed, it was only in these great convocations that 
besides being thus related to each other, they also actually dwelt 
together. There might likewise be allusion, in the first instance, 
to the previous jealousies and alienations in the family of Israel, 
which seemed to be exchanged for mutual concord and affection, 
on David's accession to the throne of the whole nation. 

2. Like the oil, the good (oil), on the head, running down upon 
the beard, the beard of Aaron, which runs down to the edge of his 
robes. The joyous character of this great family meeting suggests 
the "oil of joy" (Isai. lxi. 3), the standing symbol of festivity, to 
which a more specific and religious character is then imparted by 
a beautiful transition to the good oil (i. e. sweet and costly), with 



PSALM CXXXIII. 241 

which Aaron was anointed (Ex. xxix. 7. xxx. 22. xl. 13), as a 
sio-n of consecration and of spiritual influences. See above, on 
Ps. ii. 2. As we read of the anointing of no subsequent High 
Priest, except prospectively (Lev. xxi. 10. Num. xxxv. 25), the 
reference here may be confined to Aaron himself. This is 
alleged to have differed from the unction of the other priests, by 
adding to the simple application of the oil to certain parts of tho 
body, a copious affusion on the head, extending to the beard and 
even to the sacerdotal vestments. Some interpreters apply the 
last clause to the beard itself as reaching down to the mouth 
( n ^) or opening at the neck of the official tunic. But the repeti- 
tion of the verb (TV 1 ), and the strong improbability that so much 
stress would have been laid upon the length of the beard, to which 
nothing is compared and which illustrates nothing, seem decisive 
in favour of the other explanation. 

3. Like the dew of Harmon, which comes down upon the mountains 
of Zion ; for there has Jehovah commanded the blessing, even life 
for evermore. The comparison with oil is now exchanged for one 
with dew, suggesting the idea of a refreshing, fertilizing influence. 
As the general comparison with oil is rendered more specific by 
the mention of the kind most highly valued, because made under 
the divine direction and applied to a most sacred use, so the gene- 
ral term dew is specified in like manner as the dew of Hermon, the 
dew falling on the lofty heights of Antilibanus. See above, on 
Ps. lxxxix. 13 (12.) How this dew could be said to fall upon 
the mountains of Zion, is a question which has much divided and 
perplexed interpreters. Some have assumed a peculiar theory or 
system of physics on the writer's part. Others suppose dew of 
Hermon to be merely descriptive of the quality, irrespective of 
the actual place of the deposit. Simpler and more natural than 
either of these, although not without difficulties of its own, is the 
interpretation which restricts the comparison itself to the first few 
words, and includes all that follows in the application. Like tliz 

VOL. III. 11 



242 PSALM CXXXIV. 

dew of Hermon (is the influence) which descends upon the hills of 
Zion,for there, etc. the last clause then explaining what this influ- 
ence was. Whether this be the true solution of the question as 
to form or not, it is no doubt the essential meaning of the passage, 
upon any exegetical hypothesis whatever. The dew of Hermon 
was mere moisture, but the dew of Zion was the promise of eter 
nal life, there made and verified. Even life for evermore, literally, 
life even to eternity 



PSALM CXXXIV. 

1. A Song of Ascents. Behold! bless Jehovah, all ye servants 
of Jehovah, those standing in the house of Jehovah by night. The 
whole series of pilgrimage songs closes, in the most appropriate 
manner, with a summons to bless the Lord, addressed by the 
people on arriving at the sanctuary to the priests there in attend- 
ance, vs. 1, 2, and indirectly answered by a priestly blessing on 
the worshippers themselves, v. 3. The lo or behold at the beginning 
is equivalent to saying, See, we are here, or toe are come. To 
bless God, as in all other cases, is to praise him in a reverential 
and adoring manner. The servants of the Lord here meant 
are not his people indiscriminately, but his official servants, and 
most probably the priests, as will appear from v. 3 below. The 
(ones) standing, the appropriate posture of attendants, even in the 
courts of earthly monarchs. By night, literally, in the nights, which 
does not however necessarily mean all night (1 Chron. ix. 33), 
as appears from Ps. xcii. 3, where it stands opposed to in 
the morning, and may therefore denote simply in the evening, with 



PSALM CXXXIV. 243 

specific reference, as some suppose, to the evening sacrifice, with 
which the daily service of the priests concluded. We may then 
assume, although we cannot prove, that the pilgrims were accus- 
tomed to reach the sanctuary at that hour, singing this last " song 
of ascents." 

2. Raise your hands to the holy place, and bless Jehovah ! The 
gesture mentioned in the first clause symbolized the raising of 
the heart to God. See above, on Ps. xxviii. 2. lxiii. 5 (4.) The 
word for holy place or sanctuary is the same in form with 
that so frequently translated as an abstract, holiness. For its 
local meaning, see above, on Ps. xx. 3 (2.) It here denotes the 
temple or its site, as distinguished from the courts around it. As 
to the act of praying to or towards it, see above, on Ps. v. 8 (7.) 
xcix. 5. 

3. Jehovah bless thee out of Zion, Maker of heaven and earth. 
As the priests were called upon to bless God in behalf of the 
people, so here they bless the people in behalf of God. Between 
the verses we may suppose the previous request to be complied 
with. The priests, having blessed God, turn and bless the people. 
The obvious allusion to the sacerdotal blessing, Num. vi. 23 — 27, 
favours the optative construction of this verse, which really in- 
cludes a prediction (the Lord will bless thee.) Out of Zion, as 
in Ps. cxxviii. 5. Maker of heaven and earth, and therefore in- 
finitely able to fulfil this prayer. See above, on Ps. cxv. 15. 
cxxi. 2. cxxiv. 8. 



244 PSALM CXXXV 



PSALM CXXXV. 

The people of Jehovah are exhorted to praise hirn as their 
peculiar God, vs. 1 — 4, as the God of nature, vs. 5 — 7, as the de- 
liverer of Israel from Egypt and in Canaan, vs. 8 — 12, as their hope 
also for the future, vs. 13 — 14, rendered more glorious by contrast 
with the impotence of idols, vs. 15 — 18, after which the psalm 
concludes as it began with an exhortation to praise God, vs. 
19 — 21. According to Hengstenberg's arrangement and distribu- 
tion, this is the first of a series of twelve psalms (135 — 146), sung 
at the completion of the second temple, and consisting of eight 
Davidic psalms (138 — 145), preceded by three (135 — 137) and 
followed by one (146) of later date. In this way he accounts for 
the omission of these ancient psalms in the former part of the 
collection, because they were no longer looked upon as independ- 
ent compositions, but as inseparable parts of the series or systems 
into which they had been introduced. 

1. Hallelujah! Praise the name of Jehovah. Praise (it), ye 
servants of Jehovah ! The close of the Psalm shows that although 
the priests are included (v. 19) among the servants of Jehovah, 
they are not exclusively intended, as in Ps. cxxxiv. 1. Even 
there, however, the priests are representatives of Israel at large. 

2. Who (are) standing in the house of Jehovah, in the courts 
of the house of our God. The participle indicates continued 
action. The mention of the courts confirms what has been 
already said, as to the objects of address in v. 1. 



PSALM CXXXV. 245 

3. Hallelujah (praise ye Jah !) for good (is) Jehovah. Make 
music to his name, for it is lovely.- The last words may also be 
translated, he is lovely, i. e. an object worthy of supreme attachment. 

4. For Jacob did Jah choose for himself, Israel for his own 
possession. They are particularly bound to praise him, as his 
chosen and peculiar people. The last word in Hebrew means a 
possession of peculiar value, set apart and distinguished from all 
others. See Ex. xix. 5. Deut. vii. 6. xiv. 2. xxvi. 18. 

5. For 1 knoio that great is Jehovah, and our Lord (more) than 
all Gods. However ignorant the world maybe of his superiority, 
I, the representative of Israel and as such speaking in his name, 
know and am assured of the truth from my own observation and 
experience. 

6. All that Jehovah will he does in the heavens' and in the earth, 
in the seas and all depths. Compare Ps. cxv. 3. Ecc. viii. 3. 
Jon. i. 14. Isa. xlvi. 10, 11. It is not merely as their own peculiai 
God that they are bound to praise him, but as the universal 
sovereign. Heaven, earth, and sea, are put for the whole frains 
of nature, as in Ex. xx. 4. 

7. Causing vapours to ascend from the end of the earth — light- 
nings for the rain he makes — bringing out the wind from his irea^ 
sures. As certain portions of the world are specified in v. 6 to define 
the extent of his dominion, so here certain natural phenomena are 
mentioned as the product of his power. Compare Jer. x. 13. 
li. 16. From the end of the earth, i. e. from all parts of it, not ex- 
cepting the most, remote. See above, on Ps. Ixi. 3 (2). The 
second clause is by some explained to mean, turning lightnings 
into rain, i. e. causing the thunder-cloud to dissolve in rain. 
But this is not so natural as the common version, he maketh light- 
nings for the rain, i. e. to accompany it, or according to the 



246 PSALM CXXXV. 

paraphrase in the Prayer Book, sendeth forth lightnings with the 
rain. With the last clause compare Job xxxviii. 22. . 

8. IVho smote the first-born of Egypt, from man even to 
least. From the proofs of God's supremacy in nature, he now 
proceeds to those in history, and especially the history of his 
dealings with his people and their enemies. This is precisely 
the relation between Ps. civ and cv. The first example chosen 
here is the last and greatest of the plagues of Egypt. From 
man to beast, including both ; in other words, both man and beast. 

9. Sent signs and wonders into the midst of thee, oh Egypt, upon 
Pharaoh and on all his servants. Signs and wonders, i. e. mira- 
cles, to wit, those which preceded and accompanied the exodus. 
See above, on Ps. lxxviii. 43. In the midst of thee, oh Egypt, an 
expression similar to that in Ps. cxvi. 19, in the midst of thee, oh 
Jerusalem! Upon Pharaoh, literally, in Pharaoh and in all his 
servants. 

10. Who smote many nations and slew mighty kings. To the 
miracles of Egypt and the Exode are now added those of Canaan 
and the Conquest. 

11. Sihon Icing of the Amorites, and Og king of Bashan, and 
all the kingdoms of Canaan. Each of these three particulars is 
preceded in Hebrew by the preposition (r) to or for ; and that 
this is not an inadvertence or an accident, appears from its repeti- 
tion in the next psalm (exxxvi. 19, 20. )• Though not in accord- 
ance with the usage of the verb (3^in) which is construed else- 
where with the verb directly, the particle must be regarded here 
as an objective sign, as in Ps. exxix. 3, unless we suppose the 
sense to be, that what had just been said in general is true in par- 
ticular as to Sihon, as to Og, and as to the kingdoms (here put for 
the kings) of Canaan. 



PSALM CXXXV. 24? 

12. And gave tiieir land (as) a heritage, a heritage to Israel his 
people. The land of Canaan was an inheritance to Israel, not as 
the hens of the Canaanites, but because it was to be transmitted 
from father to son, by hereditary right and succession. See 
above, on Ps. cv. 44. cxi. 6. 

13. Jehovah, thy name (is) to eternity. Jehovah, thy memory is 
to generation and generation. Name and memory are here equiv- 
alent expressions, meaning that by which G-od is remembered or 
commemorated, namely, his perfections as exhibited in act. The 
perpetuity of this implies continued or repeated acts of goodness. 

14. For Jehovah will judge his people, and for the sake of his 
servants will repent. He will fulfil the promise in Deut. xxxii. 36. 
He will judge (i. e. do justice to) his people. See above, on Ps. 
lxxii. 2. For the sense in which repentance is ascribed to God, 
see above, on Ps. xc. 13. 

15. The idols of the nations (are) silver and gold, works of the 
hands of man. The divine perfection of the Lord is now exhib- 
ited in contrast with the impotence and nullity of idols. The 
terms of the comparison are borrowed, with several variations, 
from Ps. cxv. 4 — 8. 

16. (There is) a mouth to them, and (yet) they speak not ; (there 
are) eyes to them, and (yet) they see not. See above, on Ps. cxv. 
5, which agrees exactly with the verse before us. 

17. (There are) ears to them, and (yet) they hear not ; likewise 
there is no hreath in their mouth. See above, on Ps. cxv. 6. This 
verse contains the most considerable variation of the pas- 
sages. The second clause in both beo-ins with the same Hebrew 
word (f|&) ; but in the one case it is a noun, meaning the nose, 
in the other an adverb, meaning likewise. This kind of variation. 



248 PSALM CXXXV. 

in which the form is retained but with a change of meaning, is 
perfectly agreeable to Hebrew usage. 

18. Like them shall be those making them, every one who (is) 
trusting in them. See above, on Ps. cxv. 8, with which thi3 
verse agrees exactly. If the meaning had been simply, those 
who make them are like them, Hebrew usage would hare required 
the verb to be suppressed. Its insertion, therefore, in the future 
form (^fp.) requires it to be rendered strictly shall be, i. e. in 
fate as well as character. Idolaters shall perish with their per- 
ishable idols. Compare Isai. i. 31. 

19. Oh house of Israel, bless Jehovah ! Oh house of Aaron, bless 
Jehovah ! Having shown what God is, in himself and in com- 
parison with idols, he repeats the exhortation which this descrip- 
tion was intended to explain and justify. With this and the next 
verse compare Ps. cxv. 9 — 11. cxviii. 2 — 4. Instead of trust 
we have here bless, as at the beginning of the Psalm. Compare 
Ps. cxxxiv. 1. 

20. Oh house of Levi, bless Jehovah ! Fearers of Jehovah, bless 
Jehovah ! The Levites are not particularly mentioned in the 
parallel passages. 

21. Blessed (be) Jehovah from Zion — inhabiting Jerusalem — 
Hallelujah ! There is here an allusion to Ps. cxxxiv. 3. As Je- 
hovah blesses out of Zion, so also he is blessed out of Zion, by 
the diffusion of his praise, as from a radiating centre. This is 
said to be the only place in which Jerusalem is put for Zion, as 
the earthly residence of God. But see above, on Ps, Ixxvi. 3 (2), 
and compare Ps. cxxv. 1, 2. 



PSALM CXXXVI. 249 



PSALM CXXXVI. 

In theme and structure, this psalm resembles that before it, a 
resemblance rendered still more striking by particular coincidences 
of expression. In this case also, the people are invited to praise 
Jehovah, vs. 1 — 3, as the God of nature, vs. 4—9, as the deliv- 
erer of Israel from Egypt, vs. 10 — 15, his guide in the wilderness, 
v. 16, the conqueror of his enemies, vs. 17 — 24, the provider of 
all creatures, v. 25, and the God of heaven, te whom, in conclu- 
sion, praise is again declared to be due, v. 26. The grand pecu- 
liarity of form in this psalm, by which it is distinguished from all 
others, is the regular recurrence, at the close of every verse, of a 
burden or refrain^ like the responses in the Litany, but carried 
through with still more perfect uniformity. The text or theme, 
which thus forms the second clause of every verse, is one 
which has repeatedly occurred already, in Ps. cvi. 1. cvii. 1. 
cxviii. 1 — 4,29. Compare 1 Chron. xvii. 34. It has been a favour- 
ite idea with interpreters that such repetitions necessarily imply al- 
ternate or responsive choirs. But the other indications of this 
usage in the Psalter are extremely doubtful, and every exegetical 
condition may be satisfied by simply supposing that the singers, 
in some cases, answered their own questions, and that in others, as 
in that before us, the people united in the burden or chorus, as 
they were wont to do in the Amen. See above, on Ps. cvi. 48. 

1. Give thanks unto Jehovah— for unto eternity (is) his mercy. 
This introductory sentence is identical with those already cited 
from Ps. cvi, cvii, cxviii. 

11* 



250 PSALM CXXXVI. 

2. Give thanks unlo the God of Gods— for unto eternity (is) 
his mercy. The divine title or description, both in this verse and 
the next, is borrowed from Deut. x. 17. Gods does not here 
mean false gods, but is a superlative plural qualifying that before 
it. See above, on Ps. lxxvii. 14 (13.) exxxv. 5. 

3. Give thanks unto the Lord of Lords — for unto eternity (is) 
his mercy. The Lord of Lords, i. e. the supreme Lord, the 
Lord by way of excellence, as in the English phrase heart of 
hearts for inmost heart. 

4. To (him) doing wondrous (things) , great (things), alone — 
for unto eternity (is) his mercy. Compare the expression doing 
wonders, Ex. xv. 11. Alone, not merely more than others, but 
to their exclusion. The for, in this and the following verses, has 
reference, not to what immediately precedes, but to the verb give 
thanks, to be supplied at the beginning of the sentence. 

5. To him that made the heavens in wisdom — for unto eternity 
(is) his mercy. That made, literally making, perhaps in reference 
to the continued exercise of God's creative power. In wisdom, 
or with understanding. See above, on Ps. civ. 24, and compare 
Prov. iii. 19. 

6. To him that spread the earth above the waters — for unto 
eternity (is) his mercy. That spread, literally spreading, as in 
v. 5. Above (not upon, but higher than) the waters. See above, 
on Ps. xxiv. 2. 

7 To him that made great lights — for unto eternity (is) his 
mercy. The plural lights (t^nia) occurs only here, but is cog- 
nate and synonymous with the one used in Gen. i. 14, 16. 

8. The sun to rule by day — for unto eternity (is) his mercy. 



PSALM CXXXVI. 251 

The musical design of the composition is especially observable 
where the burden or chorus is interposed between inseparable 
parts of the same sentence, as in this one, the substance of which 
is borrowed from Gen. i. 16, but with some change both in the 
words and the construction. 

9. The moon and stars to rule by night — for unto eternity (is) 
his mercy. To rule, literally, for rules or dominions, perhaps 
because the stars are here made sharers with the moon in the 
dominion of the night. 

10. To him that smote Egypt in their first born — for unto 
eternity (is) his mercy. We have here the transition from nature 
to history, as in Ps. exxxv. 8. Him that smote (or the smiter of) 
Egypt, i. e. the Egyptians. Hence the plural pronoun, their 
first bom. ■ 

11. And brought out Israel from the midst of them — for unto 
eternity (is) his mercy. Here for the first time we have a finite 
tense (the future conversive), interrupting the long series of 
participles, all agreeing with Jehovah understood. 

12. With a high hand and with an arm outstretched — for unto 
eternity is his mercy. These are favourite Mosaic figures for the 
active and energetic exercise of power. See Ex. iii. 19. vi. 1, 6 
xiii. 9. xv 12. Deut. iv. 34. v. 15. vii. 19. xi. 2. xxvi. 8. 

13. To him that parted the Red Sea into parts — for unto eter- 
nity (is) his mercy. Parted and parts have the same relation to 
each other as the Hebrew verb and noun. 

14. And made Israel to pass through the midst of it — for unto 
eternity (is) his mercy. Here again we have a finite tense, not 
the conversive future, as in v. 11, but the preterite. Through 



252 PSALM CXXXVI. 

the midst of it, between the parts into which it was divided. Some 
suppose an allusion to the covenant transaction" in Gen. xv. 17, 
where the word translated parts is the one used in v. 13 above. 

15. And cast Pharaoh and his host into the Red Sea — -for unto 
eternity (is) his mercy. The first verb strictly means knocked off 
or shook off, and is borrowed from Ex. xiv. 27. A passive form 
of it occurs above, Ps. cix. 23. 

16. To him that led his people in the wilderness — for unto eter- 
nity (is) his mercy. Led, literally, caused to go. See above, 
Ps. exxv. 5. The participial construction is again resumed. 

17. To him that smote great kings — for unto eternity (is) his 
mercy. Compare the parallel passage, Ps. exxxv. 10, which is 
here divided by the theme or chorus. See above, on v. 8. 

18. And slew mighty kings — for unto eternity (is) his mercy. 
The first clause answers to the latter half of Ps. exxxv. 10, with 
the substitution of another Hebrew word for mighty. 

19. Sihon king of the Amorite — -for unto eternity (is) his mercy. 
Literally, to, for, or as to Sihon, etc. See above, on Ps. exxxv. 11. 

20. And Og king of Bashan — -for unto eternity (is) his mercy. 
To, for, or as to, Og king of Bashan. 

21. And gave their land as a heritage — for unto eternity (is) his 
mercy. As a heritage, literally, for it. See above, on Ps. exxxv. 12. 

22. A heritage to Israel his servant — -for unto eternity (is) his 
mercy. This is the latter half of Ps. exxxv. 12, divided from the 
first half by the theme or chorus. 



PSALM CXXXVII. 253 

23. Who in our low estate remembered us — -for unto eternity (is) 
his mercy. In our low estate, in our humiliation, in our beino" 
humbled or reduced. Remembered us, or for us, for our benefit, 
as in Ps. exxxii. 1. From the analogy of Ps. cvii. 16, 18, 26. 
cxv. 12, we learn that this relates to the captivity in Babylon, 
which is also the subject of the next psalm. 

24. And snatched us from our adversaries — for unto eternity (is) 
his mercy. The first verb always denotes violent action. See 
above, on Ps. vii. 3 (2.) It here means to snatch or tear away, 
as in Lam. v. 8, and has reference to the great catastrophe by 
which the Babjdonian power was broken and the Jews set free. 

25. Giving bread to all flesh — for unto eternity (is) his mercy. 
Here the description passes suddenly from Grod's acts of mercy 
towards his people to his general beneficence towards all that 
lives, perhaps with a design to intimate that he who thus cares 
for men in general and even for the lower animals, will not and 
cannot let his people perish. See Matth. vi. 30. 

26. Give thanks unto the God of heaven, for unto eternity (is) his 
mercy. The G-od of heaven is a new description as to form, but 
substantially equivalent to that in Ps. vii. 8 (7.) xi. 4. xiv. 2. 
xxxiii. 13, 14. 



PSALM CXXXVII. 

This is the most direct and striking reminiscence of the Baby- 
lonish Exile in the whole collection, and could scarcely have been 
written but by one who had partaken of its trials. The 



254 PSALM CXXXVII. 

first part of the psalm recalls the treatment of the Jews in Baby- 
lonia, vs, 1 — 6 ; the second anticipates the punishment of Edom 
and of Babylon, as persecuting enemies of Israel, vs. 7 — 9. 

1. By the rivers of Babylon , there tee sat down, yea we wept, 
when we remembered Zion. The first word sometimes means along, 
and especially along the course of streams, as in Ps. xxiii. 2. Ba- 
bel or Babylon is here put for the whole country which we call 
Babylonia. Its rivers are the Tigris, the Euphrates, the Chabo- 
ras, and the Ulai, with their tributary branches. Various expla- 
nations have been given of the exiles being represented as sitting by 
the rivers ; but none of them are so satisfactory as the obvious and 
simple supposition, that the rivers are mentioned as a characteris- 
tic feature of the country, just as we might speak of the mountains 
of Switzerland or the plains of Tartary, meaning Switzerland or 
Tartary itself. There is emphatic ; there, even in that dis- 
tant heathen country. Sat or sat down, if significant at all, 
may mean that they sat upon the ground as mourners. Yea, lite- 
rally also ; we not only sat but also wept. When we remem- 
bered, literally, in our remembering, i. e. at the time, and as the 
effect, of our so doing. Zion, not merely as the mother-country 
or its capital, but as the seat of the theocracy and earthly centre 
of the true religion. 

2. On willows in the midst of it we hung our harps. It has been 
objected that the willow is unknown in the region once called 
Babylonia, which is said to produce nothing but the palm-tree. 
Some avoid this difficulty by explaining the whole verse as meta- 
phorical, hanging up the harps being a figure for renouncing mu- 
sic, and willows being suggested by the mention of streams, perhaps 
with some allusion to associations connected with this particular 
tree. It may also be observed that extraordinary changes have 
taken place in the vegetable products, and especially the trees, of 
certain countries. Thus the palm-tree, so frequently referred to 



PSALM CXXXVII. 



255 



in the scriptures, and so comrno-n once that cities were called after 
it, is now almost unknown in Palestine. 

3. For there our captors asked of us the words of a song, and 
our spoilers mirth, (saying) Sing to us from a song of Zion. 
Words of a song may either be an idiomatic pleonasm meaning 
simply song itself, or denote, as in English, the words sung as 
distinguished from the music. Our spoilers is by some taken in a 
passive sense, our spoiled or plundered ones ; but the usual explana- 
tion is favoured by tradition'and analogy. One of the songs can 
hardly be the meaning of the Hebrew phrase, in which the noun 
is singular. The literal translation above given yields a perfectly 
good sense. A song of Zion is a psalm, a religious lyric, such as 
many of the heathen knew to be employed in the temple worship 
at Jerusalem. Many interpreters suppose the object of this re- 
quest to be contempt or ridicule ; but the words themselves 
necessarily suggest nothing more than curiosity. 

4. How shall we sing the song of Jehovah on a foreign soil ? 
These are the words with which the invitation was or mio-ht have 
been rejected at the time. The question implies a moral im- 
possibility. The idea is not, that the psalms themselves would 
be profaned by being sung there, but that the expression of reli- 
gious joy would be misplaced and incongruous, implying an 
oblivion of the sanctuary and its forfeited advantages. A foreign 
soil, a ground or land of strangeness. See above, on Ps. xviii. 45, 
46 (44, 45.) 

5. If I forget thee, oh Jerusalem, let my right hand forget (its 
skill.) This is a disavowal of the forgetfulness which would have 
been implied in yielding to the wishes of their captors. Jerusalem 
is here used precisely as Zion is in vs. 1, 3. The object of the 
verb in the last clause is supposed by some to be me ; let my right 
hand forget me, i. e. let me be forgotten by myself. But most 



256 PSALM CXXXVII. 

interpreters concur in the correctness of the common version, in 
which cunning has its old English sense of skill. The only ques- 
tion then is, whether this is to be understood indefinitely of all 
that the right hand can do, and is wont to do, for the convenience 
of the person, or whether it is to be understood specifically of its 
use in playing on an instrument. The former is the more com- 
prehensive meaning, but the latter is more pointed and better suited 
to this context. The sense will then be : if I so far forget thee as 
to strike the harp while in this condition, let my right hand lose 
the power so to do. 

6. Let my tongue cleave to my palate if I do not remember thee, 
if I do not raise Jerusalem above the head of my rejoicing. What 
he had first wished as to his power of instrumental performance, 
he now wishes with respect to his vocal organs. If I forget thee, 
let my hand forever cease to strike the harp, and my tongue to 
utter sound ! The most natural meaning; of the last clause is the 
one paraphrastically given in the English version, if I prefer not 
Jerusalem above my chief joy. 

7. Remember, oh Jehovah, against the sons of Edom, the day of 
Jerusalem, (against,) those saying, Make bare, make bare, to the very 
foundation in it. Most interpreters regard this as a kind of com- 
ment by the Psalmist on the preceding recollection of the Cap- 
tivity. But the transition then seems too abrupt and unaccoun- 
table. The best explanation is, that these are still the real or 
supposed words of the captives, in reply to the request of their 
oppressors, far from granting which they break forth in a prayer 
for the destruction of those who had destroyed Jerusalem. As 
if they had said : No, instead of singing psalms to gratify your 
idle or malignant curiosity, we will rather pray God to avenge 
the insults offered to his holy city. This interpretation is more- 
over recommended by its rendering the strong terms that fol- 
low more natural than if uttered in cold blood and in calm 



PSALM CXXXVII. 257 

deliberation at a later period. Remember against, literally for or 
with respect to. See above, on Ps. cxxxii. 1. cxxxvi. 23, where 
the same idiomatic phrase is used in a favourable sense. The day 
of Jerusalem is the day of its calamity or great catastrophe. 
Compare Obad. 11 — 13, where the same crime is charged upon 
Edom, namely that of concurring and rejoicing in the downfal of 
his kinsman Israel. See also Jer. xlix. 7 — 22. Lam. iv. 21, 22. 
Ezek. xxv. 12 — 14. 

8. Daughter of Babylon, the desolated ! Happy (he) icho shall 
repay to thee thy treatment xoherewith thou hast treated us. The 
daughter of Babylon (or virgin Babylon) is the people or king- 
dom of Babylonia, personified as a woman. See above, on 
Ps. ix. 14 ( 13. J The wasted or desolated is the epithet belong- 
ing to her by way of eminence in prophecy and history. There 
is no need therefore of distinguishing between a partial and total 
desolation, or between that of the city and the kingdom at large. 
The last clause may mean nothing more than that such a revolu- 
tion is at hand that he will be esteemed a fortunate man who 
treats thee as thou hast treated us. For the true sense of the 
last verb, see above, on Ps. xiii. 6 (5, 6. ) 

9. Happy he (who) shall seize and dash thy little ones against 
the stones. This revolting act was not uncommon in ancient 
warfare. See 2 Kings viii. 12. Hos. xiv. 1. Nah. iii. 10. Isai. 
xiii. 16, 18. The more revolting, the stronger the descrip- 
tion of the change awaiting Babylon. The day is coming when 
he shall be deemed fortunate who, according to the usages of war, 
requites thy own sanguinary cruelties. The word translated dash 
means really to dash in pieces, as in Ps. ii. 9. The act here 
meant is commonly expressed by (d"o^) a different Hebrew verb. 
Taketh and dasheth is equivocal, the first of these verbs being 
used in familiar English as a kind of auxiliary, whereas the cor- 
responding verb in Hebrew denotes a distinct and independent 
act. 



2^8 PSALM CXXXVIII. 



PSALM C X X X Y 1 1 1 . 

This is the first of a series of eight psalms (cxxxviii — cxlv), 
probably the last composed by David, a kind of commentary on 
the great Messianic promise in 2 Sam. vii. They are found in 
this part of the Psalter, in consequence of having been made the 
basis, or rather the body, of a system or series (cxxxv — cxlvi) 
by a later writer. See above, on Ps. cxxxv. 1. The psalm be- 
fore us contains an acknowledgment of God's goodness as expe- 
rienced already, vs. 1 — 3, an anticipation of his universal recog- 
nition by the nations, vs. 4, 5, and in the mean time of additional 
favours to the Psalmist, or to the church of which he was the 
temporary head, vs. 6 — 8. Such a psalm was of course well 
suited to sustain the faith and revive the hopes of a later generation. 

1. By David. I will thank thee with all my heart ; before 
gods I ivill praise thee. The Davidic style and tone of composi- 
tion are acknowledged even by the skeptical interpreters. With 
all my heart implies the greatness of the gift to be acknowledged, 
which was no doubt the promise of Messiah contained in 2 Sam. 
vii. See above, on Ps. ix. 2 (1.) Before gods, i. e. in the pre- 
sence, to the face, and in contempt of all imaginary rival deities. 
The translation before God is grammatical, but confounds the 
second and third person in a single clause. The Septuagint and 
Vulgate have before angels, which is inconsistent with the usage 
of the Hebrew word. Thank thee, in the strict sense of praising 



PSALM CXXXVIII. 259 

for benefits received ; or in a wider sense, acknowledge thee as God. 
Praise thee, make music, sing and play to thee. With this verse 
compare Ps. vii. 18 (17.) xviii.' 50 (49.) liv. S (7.) lvii. 10 (9.) 
ci. 1. 

2. I will bow down to thy holy temple, and will thank thy name,, 
for thy mercy and for thy truth; for thou hast made great, above 
all thy name, thy promise. With the first clause compare Ps. v. 
S (7.) Bow down, or prostrate myself, as an act of worship. 
Mercy in promising, truth in performing. See above, on Ps. xxv. 
10. Above^all thy name, i. e. all the previous manifestations of 
thy nature. Thy word, literally, thy saying, that which thou 
hast said, but applied specifically to the divine promise. See 
above, on Ps, xviii. 31 (30.) # cxix. 38, 50, 103, 140. The trans- 
cendant promise here referred to is that of the Messiah in 2 Sam. 
vii. which is there described as unique by David himself, and 
which forms the basis of many psalms, but especially of 
Ps. xviii, xxi, lxi, ci, cii, ciii, and the one before us. 

3. In the day I called and thou didst answer me, thou makest me 
brave in my soul (with) strength. This may be connected with 
what goes before, thou didst magnify thy word in the day when I 
called etc. The promise in 2 Sam. vii was an answer to his 
prayer for a perpetual succession. See above, on Ps. xxi. 
3, 5 (2, 4.) lxi. 6 (5.) The common version of the last clause 
(strengthcnedst me with strength in my soul) contains a parono- 
masia not in the original, where the verb and noun have not even 
a letter in common. The verb is by some translated made me 
proud, i. e. elated me, not with a vain or selfish pride, but with 
a lofty and exhilarating hope. In my soul, as opposed to a mere 
outward influence. Strength, i. e. strength of faith and confidence 
in God. 

4. Jehovah, all kings of the earth shall acknowledge thee, when 



26C PSALM CXXXVIII, 

they have heard the sayings of thy mouth. Not merely one king, 
though that king be David, shall acknowledge, thank, and praise 
thee, but all others who receive the true religion, when they know 
what thou hast promised, and especially when they compare the 
promise and fulfilment, with particular reference to the promise 
of Messiah, which is described in Scripture as a grand means for 
the conversion of the nations and the chiefs which represent them. 
See above, on Ps. lxviii. 30, 32 (29, 31.) cii. 16 (15.) 

5. And they shall sing in the ways of Jehovah, for great (shall 
be) the glory of Jehovah. The kings of the earth, representing 
its nations, shall join in the praise of the true God, walking in 
his ways, i. e. as converts to the true religion. Compare 
Mic. iv. 2. Isai. iv. 3. Instead of for we may read when, as in 
v. 4 ; when the glory of Jehovah has been duly exalted and dif- 
fused by the extension of the true religion. Some make this 
clause the theme or subject of the praise — they shall sing that the 
glory of Jehovah is great — a less natural construction, but one 
which yields an equally good sense. 

6. For lofty is Jehovah — and the low he sees — and the haughty 
from afar he knows. The first two clauses may be in antithesis, 
and yet he looks upon the low, or simply co-ordinate, and there- 
fore he looks upon the loio, i. e. the lowly, who shall be exalted, 
while the opposite end of the proud is implied in the concluding 
declaration. Even from afar, from the distant heaven where he 
seems to behold nothing, he knows precisely what the proud man 
is, what he deserves, and what is actually to befall him. See 
above, on Ps. i. 1. 

7 '. If I go through the midst of distress, thou wilt save (or make) 
me alive ; upon the wrath of my enemies thou wilt stretch forth thy 
hand, and save me (with) thy right hand. The first clause re- 
sembles that of Ps. xxiii. 4. Go through or walk in the midst of 



PSALM CXXXIX. 261 

trouble. To quicken or revive, as in Ps. xxx. 4 (3.) lxxi. 20. 
Upon the wrath, implyino^motion from above, which is more sig- 
nificant and graphic than against. The common version of the 
last words (and thy right hand shall save me) is equally gram- 
matical'and found in all the ancient versions ; but the other is re- 
commended by its ascribing the deliverance directly to God, and 
by the analogy of Ps. lx. 7 (5), where hand is adverbially con- 
strued with the same verb. See also Ps. xvii. 14. 

8. Jehovah will complete for me (what he has begun) Jehovah, 
thy mercy (is) forever ; the works of thy hands do not forsake. 
The work begun and yet to be completed was the whole series of 
God's gracious dispensations towards David and his seed, begin- 
ning with the first choice of the former and ending in the Messiah. 
With the first clause compare Ps. lvii. 3 (2.) Phil. i. 6. The 
second member of the sentence might be read, let thy mercy be 
forever or unto eternity. But it is more probably an affirmation, 
similar to that in Ps. ciii. 17, and the clause contains an appeal 
to the promise of eternal favour, 2 Sam. vii. 13, 26, or perhaps 
to the eternity of God's compassions, as a reason why he should 
not and could not abandon what had been so graciously begun. 



PSALM CXXXIX. 

The Psalmist describes God's omnipresence and omniscience, 
vs. 1 — 12, as attributes necessarily belonging to him as the Crea- 
tor, vs. 13 — 18, and appeals to them in attestation of his own 
aversion to the wicked, vs. 19 — 24. From its collocation it is 
probable that this psalm records David's exercises under the 



262 PSALM CXXXIX. 

powerful impressions of the great Messianic promises in 2 Sam. vii, 
and is therefore to be regarded as a confession and profession 
made not merely for himself but for his successors on the throne of 
Israel, and intended both to warn them and console them by this 
grand view of Jehovah's constant and infallible inspection. 

1. To the Chief Musician. By David. A Psalm. Jehovah, 
thou hast searched me and hiowest. As a later writer could have 
no motive for prefixing the title to the Chief Musician, it affords 
an incidental proof of antiquity and genuineness. Thou hast 
searched me or continually searchest me. The Hebrew verb origin- 
ally means to dig and is applied to the search for precious metals 
(Job xxviii. 3), but metaphorically to a moral inquisition into 
guilt. See above, on Ps. xliv. 22 (21), and compare Job xiii. 9. 
It is here used in the intermediate sense of full investigation. 
Thou hast knotcn or knowest all that can result from such a sera- 
tiny, not only my corruptions and infirmities but my cares and 
sorrows. The object is not expressed in this verse, which is a 
summary of the whole psalm, because the very object of what 
follows is to state it in detail. 

2. Thou knowest my sitting and my rising ; thou under standest 
as to my thought from afar. Sitting and rising or standing re- 
present rest and motion, or all the various conditions of the living, 
waking man. See above, on Ps. i. 1. xxvii. 2. In every posture, 
state, and occupation, thou knowest me. The next phrase does 
not merely signify, thou perceivest the meaning of my thought, 
but thou knowest all about it, its origin, its tendency, its moral 
quality ; thou under standest (every thing) respecting it. From 
afar, unimpeded by local distance, by which men are prone to 
imagine the divine omniscience to be circumscribed. See Job 
xxii. 12 — 14, and compare with this verse Ps- exxxviii. 6. 
Jer. xxiii. 23. 



PSALM CXXXIX. 263 



3. 



My path and my lair thou siftest, and with all my ways art 
acquainted. Path is here put for going, lair for lying, and these, 
like the terms of the preceding verse, for motion and rest, or the 
active and passive parts of human life. The poetical word lair 
is used to represent a Hebrew one, occurring only here, but the 
verbal root of which is used by Moses, Lev. xviii. 23. xx. 16. 
The last verb means to be accustomed (Num. xxii. 30), and then 
by a natural association, acquainted or familiar (Job xxii. 21.) 
My ivays, my condition and my conduct, what I do and what 
I suffer. 

4. For there is not a word in my tongue, (but) lo, Jehovah, 
thou knowest all of it. The relation of the clauses may be also 
expressed thus in English, which, oh Lord, thou know est not, all 
of it (or altogether.) In my tongue, in its power, or, as it were, 
in its possession. This verse merely applies to his words speci- 
fically what was said before of all his actions. The lo or behold 
is equivalent to see there, or to the act of pointing at the words as 
objects of sight and as actually present. 

5. Behind and before thou dost beset me, and lay est upon me thy 
hand. There is here an insensible transition from Grod's omnis- 
cience to his omnipresence, out of which the Scriptures represent 
it as arising. Behind and before, i. e. on all sides. The idea of 
above and below is suggested by the last clause. Beset, besiege, 
hem in, or closely*surround. Thy hand, or the palm of thy hand, 
as the Hebrew word strictly denotes. 

6. Such knowledge is too wonder ful for me ; it is exalted, I cannot 
(attain) to it. The literal meaning of the Hebrew word is, wonderful 
knowledge away from me, or more than 1 (can comprehend) ; it is 
exalted, I cannot (do any thing) as to it. With the word wonderful 
compare the use of the cognate verb, Deut. xxx. 11. Prov. xxx. IS, 
The knowledge meant is man's finite knowledge of the infinite. 



264 PSALM CXXXIX. 

7. Whither shall I go from thy Spirit, and whither from thy 
face shall I fee? The interrogation involves a denial of all pos- 
sible escape from God's inspection, when a guilty conscience 
prompts to seek one. Compare Am. ix. 2. 

8. If I scale the heavens, there (art) thou ; and if I spread the 
grave, lo thou (art there.) The word scale is used to represent a 
Hebrew verb occurring only here, and no doubt belonging to the 
dialect of poetry. The verb translated spread means specifically 
to spread a couch or make a bed. If I make sheol my led, i. e. 
lie down in the grave or hell, in the wide old English sense. See 
above, on Ps. vi. 6 (5.) 

9. I tcill raise the wings of day-break. I will dwell in the end 
of the sea. By supplying if, although the sense is not materially 
changed, the form of expression becomes much less striking. The 
conditional construction is forbidden also, or at least rendered 
highly improbable, by the form of the second verb, expressing 
strong desire and resolution. The truth is that we have here a 
bold transition. After speaking of guilty flight from God himself, 
the Psalmist now speaks of anxious flight from other enemies, and 
as if visibly surrounded by them, here resolves to escape from 
them. This, which is Hengstenberg's interpretation, is strongly 
favoured by the unconditional construction, although he himself 
retains the other. The same writer objects to the translation 
raise tlie wings, that before one can raise wings he must have them. 
But for that very reason the possession of them may be presup- 
posed, or considered as implied in the act expressed. The same 
combination is employed by Ezekiel (x. 16, 19), in a way that ad- 
mits of only one translation. The Hebrew word PT^) is not the 
common one for morning, but one denoting day-break or the dawn 
See above, on Ps. lvii. 9 (8.) The point of comparison appears 
to be the incalculable velocity of light. The extremity (or end) of 



PSALM CXXXIX. 265 

the sea is added to heaven and hell, in order to convey the idea of 
the most remote points. 

10. Even there thy hand guides me, and thy right hand holds me. 
From the use of similar expressions to denote a friendly guidance 
and support, in Ps. xviii. 17 (16.) lv. 7—9 (6—8.) v. 9 (8.) xxiii. 3. 
xxvii. 11. lxxiii. 24, and other places, Hengstenberg infers that 
this must mean, when I fly to the ends of the earth before my 
enemies, thou art still there to protect me, and that the psalm was 
therefore meant not merely to alarm but to console. 

11. And I say, only darkness overwhelms me, night is the light 
lecome around me. The ideal situation is the same as in v. 9, 
one of danger and terror, in which he is constrained to say, no- 
thing but darkness comes upon me, smites me, and the very light 
i^turned to darkness round about me. According to this view 
of the passage, darkness, as in many other places, is a figure for 
calamity and danger. See Isai. 1. 10. Ps. exxxviii. 7. Ac- 
cording to the usual interpretation it denotes concealment from 
the eye of God. 

12. Even darkness does not make (it) dark to him, and night like 
day shines ; as the darkness, so the light. The interpretation given 
of the foregoing verse does not necessarily affect the sense of this, 
which still means that nothing can prevent God's seeing either 
sin or suffering, either the danger of his people or the malice of 
fiheir enemies. Make dark, as in Ps. cv. 28. To thee, literally, 
from thee, i. e. so as to conceal from thee. 

13. For thou possessest my reins; thou coverest me in my 
mother's womb. The meaning of the first clause seems to be : 
thou hast in thy power and at thy control the very seat of my 
strongest sensibilities, my pains and pleasures ; and this subjec- 
tion is coeval with my being, for even before birth I was under 

vol. in. 12 



266 PSALM CXXXIX. 

thy protection and command, as I am now. The sense of weav- 
ing, which is given to the last verb by some modern writers rests 
on a mere etymological deduction and has no foundation either in 
tradition or in usage. The for at the beginning of this verse 
marks the transition from the fact of God's omniscience to its 
origin or reason in his creative character and rio-hts. As a logi- 
cal particle, the for relates, not to the immediately preceding 
verse, but to the whole preceding context. God is omnipresent 
and omniscient, for he is the maker of the universe. 

14. I thank thee, because fearfully I am distinguished ; wonder- 
ful (are) thy works, and (that) my soul knoweth right (well.) 
He makes it a subject of grateful acknowledgment, that God has 
distinguished him or made him to differ from inferior creatures, 
both in constitution and in destiny. Because is in Hebrew a com- 
pound particle (^3 i?) like for that, forasmuch as. Fearfully, 
literally fearful (things), but used adverbially, as in Pa. 
lxv. 6 (o.) It might here be rendered (by) fearful (things.) 
The words corresponding to distinguished and loonderful are in 
Hebrew passive forms from cognate roots fn*s& and }*b£>J- Tli e 
particular statement of the first clause is resolved by the last into 
the general one, of which it is a mere specification. The con- 
cluding words express a strong and, as it were, experimental con- 
viction of the truth. 

15. Not hid was my frame from thee, when I teas made in se- 
cret, embroidered in depths of the earth. The not hid is a meiosis, 
implying that God saw it clearly and fully understood it, inas- 
much as he himself created it. Frame, literally strength, as in 
Deut. viii. 17, but applied to the bones and sinews as the strength 
or frame-work of the body. See above, on Ps. vi. 3 (2), and 
compare Job x. 11. The common Hebrew word for bone 
differs only in the pointing. The word translated when is (T^'a) 
the relative pronoun, and may here retain its proper meaning 



PSALM CXXXIX. • 267 

although then not easily translated, as its antecedent is latent in 
the phrase my frame, which may be thus resolved, the frame of 
me who was made, etc. In secret, i. e. in the womb. Embroi- 
dered, which is the invariable meaning of the Hebrew verb, is a 
bold but beautiful expression for the complicated tissue of the 
human frame, in which so many and such various threads are cu- 
riously interwoven. Depths of the earth can only be explained as 
a comparative expression, corresponding to in secret and denoting 
the same thing, which it describes as no less dark and hidden 
from the view of men than subterraneous caverns, or as some sup- 
pose sheol, the invisible world. See above, on Ps. lxiii. 10 (9), 
and compare Job i. 21, where the figure is inverted, and the grave 
is confounded with the womb. 

16. My unformed substance did thine eyes see, and in thy look 
all of them are written, days are form,ed, and there is not one 
among them. This is one of the most obscure and doubtful verses 
in the book of Psalms. Its difficulty to our own translators may 
be gathered from the fact, that": substance yet being unperfect an- 
swers to a single Hebrew word, and that my members is a 
gratuitous addition to the text. The first word in Hebrew 
occurs only here, but is clearly derived from a verb which means 
to roll or roll up (2 Kings ii. S), and may therefore be supposed 
itself to signify something rolled up or rolled together, and from 
this may be deduced the sense of something shapeless or un- 
formed, or more specifically that of an embryo or foetus. The 
next difficulty lies in the expression all of them, evaded in the 
English Bible by changing it to all my members and then making 
this the subject of the plurals following. The best interpreters 
are now disposed to construe all of them with days by a gram- 
matical prolepsis. In thy book all of them arc written, namely, 
all my days, as they were planned, projected, or decreed, before 
as yet one of them had really existed. Written and formed are 
then parallel expressions- All of them are icrilten, days are de- 



268 PSALM CXXXIX. 

lincated or depicted. By days (translated in our Bible in continu- 
ance) we are then to understand not merely the length but the 
events and vicissitudes of life. See Job xiv. 5. Ps. lvi. 9 (8.) 
This is one of those cases in which the difficulty lies in the par- 
ticular expressions, while the general import of the passage is 
clearly determined bv the context. Instead of (s&) not, the keri 
or marginal reading m the Hebrew Bible has (ib) to him, to Taxa- 
tion to which no one has succeeded in attaching a coherent sense. 
Precisely the same difference of text exists in Ps. c. 3. 

17. And to me koiv precious are thy thoughts, oh God ! TIoio 
great is the sum of them ! Having presented this impressive 
view of God's omniscience, he now tells how he is himself affected 
by it. So far from thinking it a hardship to be subject to this 
scrutiny, he counts it a most valuable privilege. However 
others may regard this truth, to me, my judgment and my feel- 
ings, how costly, valuable, are thy thoughts, i. e. thy perpetual 
attention to me. For the true sense of precious, see above, on 
Ps. xxxvi. 8 (7.) xlv. 10 (9.) Great is the sum,\\tQY2i\\j,strong 
for many) are their sums, an expression which can hardly be re- 
tained in our idiom. 

18. I will count them — (but no) — more than sand they are 
m any — I awake and still I (am) with thee. The first clause is 
equivalent to a conditional proposition, if I would count them etc. 
but far more striking and poetical in form. See above, on Ps. 
xl. 6 (5.) I am still with thee has the same essential meaning 
with the similar expression in Ps. lxxiii. 23, namely, I am still in 
thy society or company. But there the reference is chiefly to 
divine protection, here to meditation on the divine attributes. 
Thou art still before me as an object of adoring wonder, not by 
day only, but by night ; not merely in the watches of the night, 
but even in my sleep. See above, on Ps. i. 2. xvi. 7. lxiii. 7 (6.) 



PSALM CXXXIX. 269 

19. If thou wilt slay, oh God, the wicked (man) ! And ye men 
of blood, depart from me ! The first clause is in fact, though not 
in form, the expression of a wish. If thou wouldst but slay ! 
In form, there is an aposiopesis, which may be variously supplied 
by adding, I will praise thee, I will rejoice, it will be just, or the 
like. Men of bloods, murderers or murderous men. See above, 
on Ps. v. 7 (6.) xxvi. 9. lv. 24 (23. ) Depart from me is the 
same expression as in Ps. vi. 9 (8.) cxix. 15, but the main idea 
here is that of disavowal or repudiation. Oh that God would 
slay them, and until he does, I desire to have no communion 
with them. Compare Job xxi. 14. Matth. vii. 23. 

20. Who speak of thee for wickedness and take in vain — thy foes ! 
Speak of thee, or name thee, use thy name, for the accomplish- 
ment of wicked ends. The other clause will then be strictly 
parallel, and take (thy name) in vain, as in Ex. xx. 7. For the 
meaning of this difficult expression, see above, on Ps. xxiv. 4. 
The subject of the proposition is placed emphatically at the end. 

21. Thy haters, oh Jehovah, shall not I hate, and with thine 
assailants be disgusted ? The simple future in the first clause 
comprehends several distinct shades of meaning. Do I not, may 
I not, must I not, hate those hating thee ? Hate them, net 
as man hates, but as God hates. See above, on Ps. v. 6 (5. ) 
The construction of the verb and preposition in the last clause is 
the same in Hebrew and in English. Be disgusted, literally, 
sicken or disgust myself, abhor, or loathe. Thine assailants, 
those rising up against thee, as rebellious enemies. The Hebrew 
word is a noun formed from the participle used above, Ps. xvii. 7. 
lix. 2 (1.) 

22. ( With) perfection of hatred do I hate them ; as enemies 
they are to me. Literally, they are for enemies, i. e. I so esteem 
them. As enemies of God, they must be mine. 



270 PSALM CXL. 

23. Search me, God, and know my heart ; try me, and know 
my thoughts. The last expression is emphatic, meaning even my 
most anxious and disturbed thoughts, into which corruption might 
most easily find entrance. See above, on Ps. xciv. 19, the only 
other place where the Hebrew word occurs. In this verse, he 
again appeals to the divine omniscience for the purity of his in- 
tentions, and thus comes back to the point from which he started. 

24. And see if a ivay of pain he in me, and guide me in a way 
of eternity. In the first clause some translate, the way of an idol, 
an idolatrous way. But the meaning idol is not justified by usage. 
A way of pain is one that leads to suffering and misery hereafter. 
The opposite of this is a way of eternity, by which some under- 
stand an everlasting way, as distinguished from the perishable 
way of sinners, Ps. i. 6. Others, more probably, the way that 
leads to everlasting life. Usage, however, is in favour of a third 
and very different interpretation, which gives the Hebrew phrase 
(fibis ^Ti) tne same sense with a kindred one (&Ji9 tri^M) 
used by Jeremiah (vi. 16), to wit, that of old or ancient way, the 
one pursued by prophets, patriarchs, and saints of old. Similar 
expressions are found in Jer. xviii. 15. Job xxii. 15, applied, in a 
bad sense, to the course pursued by ancient sinners. The prayer, 
however, still amounts to the same thing, to wit, that God would 
lead him in the good old way, which is itself the way to everlasting 
life. 



PSALM CXL. 

1. To the Chief Musician. A Psalm. By David. We find 
ourselves, in this psalm, carried back not only to the times of 



PSALM CXL. 271 

David, but to those of the Sauline persecution, from which the 
images are evidently borrowed. Besides the warlike tone, the 
vigorous conciseness, the verbal agreements with Davidic psalms 
combined with eminent originality, the very structure is Davidic, 
and exhibits the familiar sequence of complaint, vs. 2 — 6 (1 — 5), 
prayer, vs. 7 — 9 (6 — 8), and confident anticipation, vs. 10 — 14 
(9 — 13.) So clearly do these features of the composition mark 
its origin, even independently of the inscription, that nothing can 
account for its position here but the hypothesis already stated, 
that these ancient psalms were incorporated into a series of later 
date, and placed in the collection, not according to their individual 
antiquity, but according to the data of the whole set or system, 
into which they had been made to enter. Like the psalms im- 
mediately preceding, this was probably composed by David after 
the reception of the great Messianic promise, and with immediate 
reference to it. * v 

2(1.) Deliver me, Jehovah, from the bad man ; from the man 
of violences thou wilt preserve me. This is one of those pictures so 
abundant in the genuine Davidic Psalms, of which Saul seems to 
have furnished the original. Compare Ps. Hi. The first man 
is the generic term ( Q T?), the other the individual designation 
C^"^), which seem, however, to be used here as equivalents. The 
insensible transition from direct prayer to confident anticipation is 
characteristic of the psalms of David. Man of violence is another 
favourite expression. See above, on Ps. xviii. 49 (48), and com- 
pare the parallel passage, 2 Sam. xxii. 49, where the plural form 
(violences) is used, as in the verse before us. 

« 

3 (2.) Who imagine evils in (their) heart ; all the day they gather 
(for) battles. That the preceding verse, notwithstanding the refer- 
ence to Saul, is the description of a whole class, is clear from the 
plural forms in this verse. Think, meditate, devise, imagine. 
Evils, particularly such as are inflicted on others, well expressed 



272 PSALM CXL. 

in the common version, mischiefs. Another construction of the 
last clause, preferred by some interpreters, is, all the day they 
dwell with wars (or in tears) , i. o. are constantly involved in them 
and busied with them. This use of the verb (iw) is justified by 
Ps. v. 5 (4.) cv. 23. exxv. 5. But the analogy of Ps. lvi. 7 (6.) 
lix. 4 (3) is decisive in favour of the other explanation. Compare 
Ps. xxxi. 14 (13.) xxxv. 15. Isai. liv. 15. 

4 (3.) They sharpen their tongue as a serpent ; the poison of an 
adder (is) under their lips, Selah. Not as a serpent (does), but 
(spiteful or venomous) as a serpent. See above, on Ps. lxiv. 4 (3.) 
With the last clause compare Ps. x. 7. lviii. 5 (4.) The word for 
asp or adder occurs only here. The only point of exegetical 
importance is, that it means a poisonous serpent, and is thus a 
specification of the general expression in the other clause. 

5 (4!) Keep me, Jehovah, from the hands of the wicked (man) ; 
from the man of violences thou ivilt preserve me, ivho have thought 
to subvert my steps. A varied repetition of the prayer in v. 1. 
With the last clause compare Ps. xxxv. 5. xxxvi. 13 (12.) lvi. 14 (13.) 
^xviii. 13. 

6 (5.) High (ones) have hid a snare for me, and cords — they 
have spread out a net by the side of the road — traps have they laid, 
for me, Selah. This is little more than an accumulation of the 
various terms in which David elsewhere clothes one of his favo'ir- 
ite figures, as if he saw his own perils reappearing in the future. 
High ones, i. e. proud or haughty men. By the side, literally, 
the hand, as we say on either hand. The word translated road, 
according to its etymology, denotes a wagon-road, a track worn 
by wheels. 

7 (6.) _Z~ have said to Jehovah, My God (art) thou ; give ear, 
Jehovah, (to) the voice of my supplications. All the component 



PSALM CXL. 273 

parts of this verse are of constant occurrence in the psalms of 
David. "With the first clause compare Ps. xvi. 2. xxxi. 15 (14.) 
With the second, Ps. v. 2, 3 (1, 2.) xvii. 1. xxviii. 2, 6 (1, 5.) 
xxxi. 23 (22.) xxxix. 13 (12.) liii. 4 (3.) 

S (7.) Jehovah, Lord, the strength of my salvation ; thou hast 
covered my head in the day of battle. My covenant God and sove- 
reign, whose power saves me. Head is preceded by a preposition 
(i), thou hast been a covering (or afforded shelter) to (or for) my 
head. The day of battle, literally, of armour or of weapons, i. e. 
the day when they are used. With this verse compare Ps. v. 12 (1 1 .) 
Ix. 9 (7.) lxii. 2, 12 (1, 11.) cxxxix. 13. 1 Sam. xxviii. 2. 

9 (8.) Grant not, Jehovah, the desires of the wicked man — his 
device succeed not — they will be exalted. Succeed not, suffer not to 
prosper; literally, draw not out, i. e. to a successful issue. The 
last clause states what would be the effect of their success ; they 
would be elated, or exalt themselves. With this verse compare 
Ps. xxvii. 12. xxxi. 14 (13.) xxxvii. 12. lxvi. 7 (6.) Deut. xxxii. 27. 

10 (9.) The head of those surrounding me — the mischief of their 
lips shall cover them. The nominative absolute refers back to the 
covering of the Psalmist's head in v. 8 (7.) W r hile my head is 
covered by the divine protection, the head of those by whom I 
am beset shall be covered with the consequences or the punishment 
of the mischief occasioned by their calumnies and insults. Or the 
trouble, which their lips have caused to others, shall return upon 
themselves. Compare Ps. vii. 17 (16.) Those surrounding me, 
or, as a noun, my surroundings, as in 2 Kings xxiii. 5. Tho 
participle would, according to analogy and usage, mean causing 
me to turn bach or retreat (Jer. xxi. 4), which yields a good sense 
here. The head of those who once drove me back shall be cov- 
ered, etc. 



274 PSALM CXL. 

11 (10.) Coals shall be cast upon them ; into the fire he shall make 
them fall, and into deep waters, (whence) they shall not rise. The 
first noun in Hebrew always means burning or live coals. See 
above, on Ps. xviii. 13, 14 (12, 13.) Shall he cast is the keri or 
marginal reading, no doubt intended to relieve the harshness and 
obscurity of the reading in the text, they shall cast or shake, an 
indefinite or impersonal construction, really equivalent in meaning 
to the passive. In the second member of the sentence the action 
is ascribed to God himself. Deep waters answers to a single He- 
brew word occurring only here, and by some supposed to mean 
deep pits or excavations. The first sense above given is founded 
on an Arabic analogy. 

12 (11). A man of tongue shall not be established in the land, 
(nor) a man of violence, a bad (man) — he shall hunt him to destruc- 
tion. A man of a calumnious unbridled tongue (James i. 26) 
shall not be permanently seated in a prosperous condition. See 
above, on Ps. ci. 7. cii. 29 (28.) The next words may be variously 
construed ; a man of wicked violence, or, disregarding the accents, 
a man of violence, evil shall hunt him, etc. According to the 
other constructions, God is the subject of the verb, as of the 
second in v. 11 (10.) To destructions, the plural form denoting 
fulness and completeness. Others render it by strokes, i. e. suc- 
cessive strokes ; others again, in haste, which agrees well with the 
usage of the verbal root. See 2 Chr. xxvi. 20. Esth. iii. 15. 
vi. 12. viii. 14. 

13 (12.) I know that Jehovah will do justice to the sufferer, and, 
judgment for the poor. Compare Ps. ix. 5, 17 (4, 16.) Liter- 
ally, the right of the sufferer, the judgment of the poor. 

14 (13.) Only the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name, I lit 
upright shall sit in thy presence. Only the righteous shall have 
occasion for thanksgiving. There is no need therefore of depart- 



PSALM CXLI. 275 

ing from the proper sense of (Tja) the Hebrew particle. See 
above, on Ps. lxxiii. 1. Sit in thy presence, as thy friends or 
guests or favoured servants. Perhaps it may mean sit (en- 
throned) before thee. Compare Matth 4 xix. 28. Some under- 
stand the sense to be, shall dwell (in the land) before thee, i. e. 
under thy protection and inspection. Compare Ps. xxi. 7 (6.) 
xli. 13 (12.) lvi. 14 (13.) 



P S A L M CXLI. 

After an introductory petition for a favourable hearing, vs. 1 , 2, 
the Psalmist prays to be delivered from trie power of tempta- 
tion, vs. 3, 4, comforts himself under his afflictions as paternal 
chastisements, vs. 5, 6, anticipates the ruin of his enemies, v. 7, 
and prays for deliverance from them in the mean time, vs. 8 — 10. 
This psalm, like the one before it, is distinguished by a pregnant 
brevity and the use of rare expressions, while at the same time it 
is full of verbal and real coincidences with the psalms of David. 
These indications are so clear and undeniable, that a skeptical 
critic of great eminence (De Wette) pronounces it one of the 
oldest psalms in the collection. With respect to its position in 
the Psalter, see the prefatory notes to Ps. exxxv, cxl. 

1. A Psalm. By David. Jehovah, I invoke thee ; hasten to 
me ; give ear to my voice in my calling to thee. This verse is en- 
tirely made up of phrases frequently occurring in the psalms of 
David. I invoke thee, Ps. xvii. 6. Hasten to me, Ps. xxii. 20 (19.) 
lxx. 2 (1.) lxxi. 12. Hear my voice, Ps. cxl. 7 (6.) In my 
calling, Ps. iv. 2 (1.) 



276 PSALM CXLI. 

2. Let my prayer continue (as) incense before thee, the offering 
of my hands (as) the evening oblation. Continue, literally, be 
established, as in Ps. cxl. 12 (11.) He prays not, only for acceptance, 
but for constant or perpetual acceptance, as the offerings referred 
to were the stated daily services of the Mosaic ritual. Incense is 
in scripture the symbol of prayer. In the books posterior to the 
Pentateuch it is commonly mentioned as an evening oblation 
(1 Kings xviii. 29, 36. 2 Kings xvi. 15. Dan. ix. 21. Ezra ix. 4, 5), 
perhaps because in the evening it was reckoned the main 
offering, whereas in the morning it was merely an appendage 
to the animal sacrifice. Lifting up is not the meaning of the 
Hebrew word (n&fflla) in any other place, whereas it cften means 
a gift, and especially a portion of food (Gen. xliii. 34. 2 Sam. 
xi. 8), in which sense it might naturally be applied to the vegeta- 
ble offerings of the Law. 

3. Set, oh Jehovah, a guard at my mouth ; watch over the door 
of my lips. The prayer, for which he had bespoken audience 
and acceptance, was a prayer against the power of temptation, 
and first with reference to sins of speech. See above, on Ps. 
xxxix. 2 (1.) The words translated loatch and door are forms 
occurring only here, but etymologic ally near akin to others which 
are in common use. 

4. Incline not my heart to an evil word, to practise practices in 
wickedness with men (who are) workers of iniquity, and let me 
not eat of their dainties. An evil word may b« strictly understood, 
as referring still to sins of the tongue, or be taken in the idiom- 
atic sense of an evil matter, which last is preferred by most inter- 
preters. The assonance in practise practices is copied from the 
Hebrew, where the cognate verb and noun are combined in the 
same manner. Practices in icickedness or wicked practices. 
The last words seem to be a prayer, that he may not be tempted. 



PSALM CXLI. 277 

by the luxurious prosperity of wicked men, to follow their exam- 
ple. See above, on Ps. lxxiii. 3 — 7, 12. 

5. Let the righteous smite me (in) mercy and chasten me — oil 
for the head let not my head refuse — for (it is) still (to come) — 
and my prayer (must still ascend) in their injuries. This verse 
is so obscure as to be almost unintelligible. According to the 
English versions, it expresses his willingness to be rebuked by 
good men for his benefit. But this sense is not only hard to be 
extracted from the words, but foreign from the context. Of the 
many contradictory interpretations which have been proposed the 
most probable is that which makes the sentence mean, that the 
sufferings endured by the good man, even at the hand of the 
wicked, are chastisements inflicted by a righteous God in justice 
and in mercy, and as such may be likened to a festive ointment, 
which the head of the sufferer should not refuse, as he will still 
have need of consolation and occasion to invoke God, in the midst 
of trials and of mischiefs yet to be experienced. 

6. Thrown down among the rocks are their judges ; and (then) 
they hear my words, for they are sweet. When the judgments in 
reserve for the leaders of my enemies shall come upon them, 
they will perceive too late how reasonable are my words, and wish 
that they had hearkened to them sooner. Thrown down, orio-i- 
nally let go, here used as in 2 Kings ix. 33. Among the rocks, 
literally in (or into) the hands of the rock. Some understand this 
to mean into its power (see v. 9 below) ; others, against its sides 
(see Ps. cxl. 6) ; but the simplest explanation is that which supposes 
the rock to be personified and represented as standing below and 
holding out its hands to catch the person or thing falling. Some 
in the last clause read, that they are sweet. Then, when it is too 
late, they shall perceive how sweet my words are. 

7. Like (one) ploughing and, cleaving the earth — scattered are 



278 PSALM CXLI. 

our hones at the gravels mouth (or the mouth of hell. ) There are only 
two plausible interpretations of this obscure comparison. As the 
first Hebrew verb (nb&),in its derivative forms, has the general sense 
of cleaving, and the second (9ps) is expressly used (Ecc. x. 9) in 
that of splitting wood, some interpreters give both verbs that spe- 
cific meaning here, and suppose the verse to be simply a description 
of mortality or carnage, the effect of which is, that human bones 
lie about the opening of the grave, or the devouring jaws of hell 
(Isai. v. 14), as numerous and as little heeded as so many logs or 
sticks of wood. To this it is objected, that the phrase in (or on) 
the earth is then unmeaning, or at least superfluous, and that the 
verse, if thus explained, does not cohere with the ensuing con- 
text, which supposes the contents of this verse to be cheering and 
consolatory. The other interpretation avoids these objections, 
by explaining the first clause not of cleaving wood but ploughing, 
to which the first verb is applied in Arabic. Like (one) plough- 
ing and cleaving (making furrows) in the earth, not for the sake 
of mangling its surface, but to make it fruitful and productive, 
(so) our bones are scattered at the mouth of hell, as the necessary 
means of a glorious resurrection. 

8. For unto thee, Jehovah, Lord, (are) my eyes — in thee have 1 
confided — pour not out my soul. The for refers to the consola- 
tory import of the verse preceding. The one before us contains 
several favourite Davidic phrases. My eyes are unto thee, Ps. 
xxv. 15. In thee have I confided (or sought refuge), Ps. ii. 12. 
xxxi. 2(1.) In the last clause the soul or life is confounded 
with its vehicle. See Gren. ix. 4. Lev. xvii. 11, 14. The same 
remarkable expression is applied by Isaiah (liii. 12) to the volun- 
tary death of the Messiah. That the verb literally means 
to pour out, is clear from Gen. xxiv. 20. Isai. xxxii. 15. This 
verse resembles Ps. cxl. 8 (7), in two points, the combination Je- 
hovah Adhonai, and the supernumerary n in urrisD and rfiS. 



PSALM CXLII. 279 

9. Keep me from the hands of the snare which they have, netted 
for me, and the nets of the doers of iniquity. The word hands is 
entirely omitted both in the English Bible and the Prayer Book 
version. It is put, by a favourite personification, for power or 
possession. The use of the expression here was probably occa- 
sioned by its previous use in Ps. cxl. 4. The verb netted is here 
employed to represent the cognate verb and noun in Hebrew. 

10. Let the wicked fall into their oivn traps, lohile I at the 
same time escape. Compare Ps. vii. 16 (15.) The combination 
of the singular and plural in the first clause — wicked (men) and 
his snares — shows that the singular denotes not a real but ideal 
person, representing a whole class. The best construction of the 
last clause is that given in the English Bible and retained above, 
with the single change of withal to the synonymous but less am- 
biguous expression, at the same time. The transpositions of this 
clause are unusual, even in Hebrew — at the same time I until (ov 
while) I pass, i. e. pass by uninjured or escape. 



PSALM CXLII. 

1. Maschil. By David, when he was in the cave. A Prayer. 
It is called a maschil or didactic psalm because it might other- 
wise have seemed to contain matter wholly personal to David. 
See above, on Ps. xxxii. 1. When he was, literally, in his being, 
which does not refer exclusively to time, but suggests the occasion 
or exciting cause. The reference may be either to the cave of 
Adullam (1 Sam. xxii. 1), or to that of Engedi (1 Sam. xxiv. 3), 
or to that period and mode of life in general, when David was 



280 PSALM CXLII. 

obliged to seek refuge in caves, and which he might expect to see 
reproduced, under other forms, in the experience of his succes- 
sors, for whose guidance and encouragement this psalm was 
written. See above, on Ps. lvii. 1. It is called a prayer, be- 
cause the complaint or description of the danger, vs. 2 — 5 (1 — 4), 
is merely introductory to the petition for deliverance, vs. 6 — 8 
(5 — 7.) See above, on Ps. xvii. 1. lxxxvi. 1. xc. 1. cii. 1. 

2(1.) ( With) my voice to Jehovah I cry ; (with) my voice to 
Jehovah I make supplication. With the first clause compare 
Ps. iii. 5 (4) ; with the second, Ps. xxx. 9 (8.) There are also 
coincidences of expression with Ps. xxii. 6 (5.) lxxvii. 2 (1.) 
cxl. 7 (6.) cxli. 1. With my voice, i. e. audibly, aloud, as op- 
posed to a mere mental prayer. The word translated supplication 
means, according to its etymology, a prayer for grace or mercy. 

3 (2.) I pour out before him my care ; my trouble before him 1 
tell. With the first clause compare Ps. xlii. 5 (4.) lxii. 9 (8.) 
1 Sam. i. 15. Lam. ii. 19. The word translated care means pro- 
perly reflection, meditation, musing, especially such as is anxious 
and sad. See above, on Ps. lxiv. 2 (1.) 

4 (3.) Because my spirit is overwhelmed within me — and thou 
knowest my path — in the way that I go, they have hid a snare for 
me. The literal translation of the first words is, in my spirifs being 
overwhelmed, which may indicate either the time or the cause of his 
distress. See above, on v. 1. Some adopt this construction : when 
my spirit is overwhelmed (then) thou knowest my path. Others sup- 
pose two reasons to be given for his calling upon God, his distress 
and his trust in the divine omniscience. Because my spirit is 
overwhelmed, and (because) thou knowest my path. But as the 
form of the two phrases is entirely different in Hebrew, the 
simplest and safest construction is "to treat the second clause as 
parenthetical. Within me, literally upon me ; see above, on Ps. 



PSALM CXLII. 281 

xlii. 5 — 7 (4 — 6.) In the ivay that I go, i. e. along my path. See 
above, on Ps. cxl. 5 (4.) The words may mean, however, as in 
Ps. cxliii. 8, in the ivay that I should go, i. e. in the path of duty. 
Without my fault they hid a snare for me. With the first clause 
of this verse compare Ps. xlii. 5 (4.) lxi. 3 (2.) lxxvii. 4 (3), 
and with the last Ps. cxl. 6 (5.) cxli. 9. cxliii. 8. 

5 (4.) Look to the right and see — and there is no tune knowing 
me — refuge has failed me — there is no one caring for my soul. 
The first two verbs must be translated as imperatives, as in the 
margin of the English Bible. The right hand is mentioned as 
the post of a protector. See above, on Ps. cix. 6. ex. 5. exxi. 5 
The and at the beginning of the second clause is foreign from 
our idiom, which would seem to require that or for. We might 
however say, look to the right and see, and (you will find that) 
there is no one etc. Knowing, recognizing, willing to acknow- 
ledge, much less to defend. There is none to me, i. e. I have none. 
Far from having a protector at my right hand, I have not even 
one who will acknowledge that he knows me. Caring, literally, 
seeking, asking, or inquiring after it, in order to assist or save it. 
Nearly the same form of speech is used to express the very op- 
posite idea, that of seeking out's soul to destroy it. See above, 
on Ps. xxxv. 4. 

6 (5.) I have cried unto thee, Jehovah. I have said, Thou (art) 
my refuge, my portion in the land of life. I have cried and still 
cry ; I have said and still say. With this last expression com- 
pare Ps. xxxi. 15 (14.) xli. 5 (4.) Thou* (art) my refuge, as in 
Ps. lxii. S (7.) lxxi. 7. My portion, as in Ps. xvi. 5. lxxiii. 26. 
cxix. 57. Land of life (ov of the Iking), as in Ps. xxvii. 13. 
Hi. 7 (5.) 

7. (6.) Hearken to my cry, for I am reduced greatly ; free vie 
from my persecutors, for they are mightier than L All these are 



282 PSALM CXLII 

favourite Davidic phrases. Hearken to my cry, as in Ps. xvii. 1, 
Ixi. 2(1.) I am reduced for weakened) greatly ', as in Ps. lxxix. 
8 (7.) cxvi. 6. Compare Judges vi. 6. Free me from my perse- 
cutors, as in Ps. vii. 2 (1.) They are mightier than I, as in Ps. 
xviii. IS (17.) 

8. Bring out from prison my soul, to thank thy name. Me shall 
the righteous surround when thou shall bestow on me (favour.) 
With the first clause compare Ps. xxv. 17. cvii. 10. cxliii. 11. 
Some suppose an allusion to Joseph's imprisonment and liberation. 
See above, on Ps. cv. 17 — 20. To thank (or praise) thy name, 
although an exact translation, is restricted by the English idiom 
to the person mentioned just before, and can only mean in 
accordance with our usage, that I may thank thy name ; whereas 
the Hebrew infinitive knows no such limitation and in this case 
simply means, that some one (without defining who) may j)raise 
thy name ; or, exchanging the active for the passive form, that 
thy name may be praised ; or, retaining the indefiniteness of the 
original expression, for the praising of thy name. The agents 
here intended are probably the righteous, who are mentioned in 
the next clause. The verb surround, which has a hostile sense 
in Ps. xxii. 13. Hab. i. 4, here means to gather round one with a 
friendly curiosity and eagerness, which some suppose to be sug- 
gested by the construction with the preposition (r), which cannot 
be expressed in English. This sympathy of the righteous in his 
joys and sorrows is a favourite idea with David. See above, on 
Ps. xxxv. 27. xl. 17 (16.) For the meaning and construction of 
the last verb, see above, on Ps. xiii. 6. ciii. 10. cxvi. 7. 



PSALM CXLIII. g83 



PSALM CXLIII. 

This psalm may be divided into two equal parts, separated by 
the Selah in v. 6. The first contains a complaint, vs. 1 — 6 ; the 
second a prayer for mercy, vs. 7 — 12. It resembles the preceding 
psalm, not only in this relation of its parts, but in its whole tone 
and diction, its Davidic phraseology combined with an originality 
never exhibited by the mere imitator or compiler. 

1. A Psalm. By David. Jehovah, hear my grayer ', give ear 
unto my cries for mercy ; in thy faithfulness answer me {and) in 
thy righteousness. The combination of faithfulness and righteous- 
ness is like that in Ps. xxxvi. 6, 7 (5, 6.) They can hardly be 
regarded as distinct grounds of argument, but rather as modified 
statements of the same. The faithfulness of God has direct 
reference to his promise or covenant engagements; his rio-hte- 
ousness has reference to the claims of his own people, but claims 
which owe their existence to those same covenant engagements. 



a o v 



2. And enter not into judgment icitk thy servant, for just before 
thee is no one living. To enter into judgment is a forensic phrase 
meaning to go to law, to prosecute, to sue. See Job ix. 32. 
xxii. 4. The verb in the last clause is not a passive meaning to 
be justified, but a neuter meaning to be just or innocent, to be in 
the right or on the right side of the controverted question. The 
acknowledgment in this verse has caused the psalm to be reckoned 
among the penitential psalms. The verse is often imitated or 



•> 



2S4 PSALM CXLIII. 

referred to elsewhere. See Job ix. 2. xiv. 3. xv. 14. Pioni 
iii. 20, etc. 

3. For the enemy persecutes my soul, crushes to the earth my life 
makes me dwell in dark places like the dead of old. This verse 
assigns a reason for the preceding prayers, a connection indicated 
by the for* He prays that Grod will deal with him in mercy, not 
in justice, by abandoning him to the fate here described. Com- 
pare Ps. vii. 6 (5), but especially Ps. lxxxviii. 4 — 7 (3 — 6.) Se-e 
also Lam. iii. 6. The last words some understand to mean 
forever dead. 

4. And overwhelmed within me is my spirit ; in the midst of me 
desolated is my heart. With the first clause compare Ps. 
cxlii. 4 (3) ; with the second Ps. xl. 16 (15.) 

5. I remember the days of old ; I meditate of all thy doing ; 
of the work of thy hands I muse. He recalls and ponders them, 
not as a source of comfort, as in Ps. xliv. 2 — 4 (1 — 3), but of 
sorrow, from their painful contrast with his actual condition. See 
above, on Ps. xxii. 4 — 6 (3 — 5.) lxxvii. 6 (5), and with the last 
clause conijDare Ps. xcii. 5 

C. I spread my hands unto thee; my soul is like a weary land 
to thee, i. e. thirsts or longs for thee, as a dry or thirsty land for 
rain. See above, on Ps. lxiii. 2(1.) A tveary land is an unu- 
sual expression, and one of the peculiar features of this psalm. 
"With the first clause compare Ps. xliv. 21 (20.) The close of 
the complaint or lamentation, and the strength of the feeling with 
winch it is uttered, are both indicated by the Selah. 

7. Hasten, answer me, Jehovah — my spirit fails — hide not thy 
face from me — or I shall be confounded with (those) going down 
(to) the pit. The meaning of the first clause is, hasten to grant 



PSALM CXLIII. 285 

my petition. Fails, is spent or exhausted. See above, on 
Ps. xxviii. 1. xxxix. 11 (10.) lxix. IS (17,) cii. 3 (2.) That lie is 
in extremity, is urged as a reason why God cannot fail to hear and 
answer him. This verse begins the main prayer of the psalm, 
that in vs. 1, 2, being merely introductory to the complaint in 
vs. 3 — 6, which is itself introductory to the prayer that follows. 

8. Let me hear in the morning thy mercy ; let me know the way 
that I must go, for unto thee I raise my soul. All these are 
familiar thoughts and terms to the readers of the psalms of David, 
and may be severally found in Ps. xxv. 1 — 4. li. 10 (8.) lix. 17 
(16.) The way that I must go, not merely to be right, but to be 
safe and happy ; the way of safety as well as that of duty. See 
above, on Ps. cxlii. 7 (6.) 

9. Free me from my enemies, Jehovah, with thee I hide myself. 
With the first clause compare Ps. lix. 12 (11.) cxlii. 7; with the 
second, Ps. xxvii. 5. xxxi. 21 (20.) The form of expression here, 
however, is peculiar and original. The literal meaning is to thee 
I cover, i. e. cover myself, the reflexive use of the Hebrew verb 
being clear from Gen. xxxviii. 14. Deut. xxii. 12. Jon. iii. 6. 
The force of the pregnant construction is well though freely given 
in the English version, I flee unto thee to hide me. 

10. Teach me to do thy will, for thou (art) my God. Thy spirit 
(is) good ; let it guide me in level ground. This is a prayer for 
external safety, and at the same time for that spiritual guidance, 
without which it is unattainable. Compare Ps. v. 9 (8.) xxvi. 
12. xxvii. 11. xl. 9 (8.) exxxix. 10, 24. Some make but two 
clauses, and instead of the short proposition in the middle, read, 
let thy good spirit guide me etc. or let thy spirit, ("which is) good 
guide me etc. Level ground, literally earth (or land) of evenness 
(or straightness.) See above, on Ps. xxvi. 12. 



2SG PSALM CXLIV. 

11. For thy name's sake, Jehovah, thou wilt quicken me; in th§ 
righteousness thou wilt bring out of distress my soul. Here again 
we have an accumulation of Davidic ideas and expressions. For 
thy name's sake, as in Ps. xxiii. 3. xxv. 11. xxxi. 4. cix. 21. 
Thou u'ilt quicken me, as in Ps. exxxviii. 7. In thy righteousness, 
as in Ps. xxxi. 2. Bring my soul out of trouble, as in Ps. xxv. 
15. xxxiv. IS (11.) cxlii. 8 (7.) 

12. And in thy mercy thou wilt destroy my enemies and cause to 
•perish all that vex my soul ; for I (am) thy servant. With the 
first clause compare Ps. xxxi. 17 (16.) xviii. 41 (40.) Some find 
here an allusion to the promise in Deut. viiT 24. Vexers, adver- 
saries, persecutors, of my soul. Thy servant, not merely a be- 
liever but a chosen instrument, not merely one of thy people but 
their chief and representative, and as such entitled to deliverance, 
both for their sake and my own. In these two verses, the form 
of direct petition is insensibly exchanged for that of confident an- 
ticipation. 



PSALM CXLIY. 

This is a kind of supplement or counterpart to Ps. xviii, in 
which the view there taken of David's personal experience is ap- 
plied to the anticipated case of his successors. The design thus 
assumed accounts for the position of the psalm in the collection. 
That its being placed precisely here is not fortuitous, may be in- 
ferred from its furnishing a kind of link between the urgent en- 
treaties of the preceding psalms and the triumphant praise of 
those which follow. The Davidic origin of this psalm is as marked 
as that of any in the Psalter. The accumulation of Davidic 



PSALM CXLIV. 2S7 

phrases is confined to the first part, while the last is independent 
and original, a fact entirely inconsistent with the supposition of a 
later compilation. The Psalmist thanks God for his protection 
of himself and of mankind in general, vs. 1 — 4, prays for deliver- 
ance from present dangers, vs. 5 — 8, expresses his confident an- 
ticipation of a favourable answer, vs. 9 — 10, renews his prayer, 
not only for himself but for the chosen people, vs. 11 — 14, and 
felicitates them that they are such, v. 15. 

1 . By David. Blessed be Jehovah, my Rock, the (one) training 
my hands for fight, my fingers for war. See above, on 
Ps. xviii. 35, 47 (34, 46), where most of these expressions have 
already been explained. Fight and war are both verbs and 
nouns in English, but the Hebrew words are nouns with the ar- 
ticle prefixed. David here begins by referring all the successes 
of himself and his successors to Jehovah. 

2. My mercy and my fortress, my high place, and a deliverer 
for me, my shield and (he) in whom I trust, the (one) subduing 
my people. No less than five of these descriptive epithets are 
taken from a single verse of Ps. xviii, viz. v. 3 (2.) Peculiar to 
the place before us is my mercy, i. e. my God of mercy. See 
above, on Ps. lix. 18 (1.7.) The benefit of these relations to Je- 
hovah David claims not merely for himself but for his royal race, 
which was closed and yet perpetuated in the Messiah. He in 
whom I trust, literally, and in him I trust. My people, in its 
widest sense, including; Israel and the Gentiles who were to be 
added to the kingdom of David under the reign of the Messiah. 
Compare Ps. xviii. 44, 48 (43, 47) with the parallel passages in 
2 Samuel. 

3. Jehovah, what (is) man, that thou shouldst hioio him, the 
son of man, that thou- shouldst think of him? The greatness of 
God's goodness is enhanced by a view of man's insignificance and 



288 PSALM CXLIV. 

un worthiness. The original construction seems to be, what is 
man ? (nothing), and (jet) thou knowest him etc. To know is 
here to recognise as being in existence, to take notice of. The 
first man is the generic term, the second one denoting weakness. 
See above, on Ps. viii. 5 (4), and compare 2 Sam vii. IS. 

4. Man to vanity is like ; his days (are) as a passing shadow. 
He cannot therefore be a worthy object, in himself, of the divine 
regard and favour. "With the first clause compare Ps. xxxix. 
6, 7 (5, 6), lxii. 10 (9) ; with the second, Ps. cii. 12 (11.) ciii. 15. 

5. Jehovah, bow thy heavens and come down ; touch the moun- 
tains and let them smoke. With, the first clause compare Ps. 
xviii. 10 (9.) What God is tbere described as doing, be is here 
besought to do again. With the last clause compare Ps. civ. 32 
Mountains , in all sucb connections, would necessarily suggest the 
idea of states and kingdoms. See above, on Ps. xlvi. 3, 4(2, 3.) 

6. Lighten lightning and scatter them; send out thy arrows 
and confound them. The first word in Hebrew is a verb occurring 
nowhere else, and composed of the same radicals with the common 
word for lightning which immediately follows. For the meaning 
of the other terms, see above, on Ps. xviii. 15 (14), and compare 
the parallel passage, 2 Sam. xxii. 15 (14), with which the writer 
of the psalm before us was certainly acquainted, as appears 
from his occasional use of its peculiar readings. 

7. Send thy hands from on high ; rid me and free me from (the) 
many waters, from the hand of aliens. With the first clause 
compare Ps. xviii. 17 (16.) For hand we have here the plural 
hands, and for the two verbs there used two substantially equiva- 
lent, the first of which has the sense here given to it only in this 
place and the cognate languages, and is therefore well represented 
by the less usual English word rid. With the last clause, comparo 



PSALM CXLIV. 289 

Ps. xviii. 45, 46 (44, 45), where the phrase sons of strangeness 
(or of foreign 'parts) has been explained ahead j. 

8. Whose month speaks fraud, and their right hand (is) a righ 
hand of falsehood. The word translated fraud is properly a 
negative meaning vanity or emptiness, but applied to the want of 
moral goodness and especially of truth. See above, on Ps. xxiv. 4. 
The right hand is mentioned in allusion either to the practice of 
swearing with uplifted hand (Ps. cvi. 26), or to that of striking 
hands in bargains (2 Kings x. 15.) There seems to be reference, 
in this verse, to the feigned obedience of the enemy, Ps. xviii. 
45 (44.) 

9. Oh God, a new song I will sing to thee ; with a lyre of ten 
(strings) I will play (or make music) to thee. See above, on 
Ps. xxxiii. 2, 3, where David exhorts others to do what he here 
resolves and vows to do himself. The new song still implies a 
new occasion for it, so that he here begins to anticipate the an- 
swer to his foregoing prayers. • 

10. The (one) giving salvation to kings ; the (one) ridding 
David his servant from an evil sword. This mode of connecting 
sentences, by a participle agreeing with a noun in the foregoing 
context, is a characteristic feature of Ps. xviii. See vol. i. 
pp. 144, 145. The kings particularly meant are the theocratical 
sovereigns, the royal family of David. Ridding, the participle 
of the verb so rendered in v. 7. David (as) his servant, because 
he is his servant, in the sense repeatedly explained already. See 
above, on Ps. cxliii. 2, 12. David speaks of himself by name, 
not only here but in Ps. xviii. 51 (50.) lxi. 7 (6. J lxiii. 12 (11.) 
2 Sam. vii. 26. An evil sword, not only dangerous but wicked. 
Compare Ps. xxii. 21 (20.) 

11. Rid me and free me from the hand of aliens , whose Trwutli 
vol. in. 13 



290 PSALM CXLIV. 

speaks fraud* ana whose right hand (is) a right hand of falsehood 
In resuming the language of direct petition, the terms of vs. 7, 8, 
are studiously repeated, as if to show that this prayer is parallel to 
that, and not an addition to it. 

12. So that our sons (may be) as plants grown large in their 
youth, our daughters as corner-stones hewn (for) the building of 
the temple. The reminiscences or imitations of Ps. xviii suddenly 
cease here, and are followed by a series of original, peculiar, and 
for the most part no doubt antique expressions. On the supposi- 
tion that the title is correct in making David the author, this is 
natural enough. On any other supposition it is unaccountable, 
unless by the gratuitous assumption, that this is a fragment of an 
older composition, a mode of reasoning by which any thing may 
be either proved or disj)roved. The first word in Hebrew is the 
relative pronoun, and the literal meaning of the clause is, (by) 
which for in consequence of which) our sons, etc. The which re- 
fers to the deliverance prayed for in the preceding verse. Grown 
large, literally magnified or made great. The common version 
(grown up in their youth) has a paradoxical appearance, arising 
from the ambiguity of our phrase grown up, which is applied (like 
the Greek ?}A*xia) both to age and stature. The word translated 
corner-stones has the same sense in Zech. ix. 15. The corner- 
stones are mentioned as those which were hewn and polished with 
peculiar care. Likeness or model would agree better with the 
usage of the Hebrew word (^t^), but its primary sense, as a 
derivative of the verb (*"£?) to build, is here still more appropri- 
ate. Most interpreters give the last word the vague sense of a 
palace, considered as a splendid building. There is something, 
however, far more striking in the translation temple, found in the 
Prayer-Book and the ancient versions. The omission of the article 
is a poetic license of perpetual occurrence. The temple was the 
great architectural model and standard of comparison, and particu- 
larly remarkable for the great size and skilful elaboration of its 



PSALM CXLIV. 291 

foundation-stones, some of winch, there is reason to believe, have 
remained undisturbed since the time of Solomon. See Robinson's 
Palestine, vol.' i, pp. 422—426. 

13. Our garners full, affording from land to land ; our flocks 
bearing thousands, multiplied by myriads, in our streets. From 
kind to kind seems to denote not only variety but regular succes- 
sion, as expressed in Hengstenberg's version, one kind after an- 
other. Compare Ps. lxxxiv. 8 (7.) The participles in the next 
clause are highly idiomatic and scarcely reproducible in any 
other lano-uao-e. A somewhat similar example occurs above, 
Ps. lxix. 32 (31.) But there both forms are active, whereas here 
we have one active and one passive participle, formed directly 
from the Hebrew words denoting a thousand and a myriad, the 
last of which is a derivative of the verb to increase or multiply, 
and would therefore necessarily suggest that idea. See above, on 
Ps. iii. 7 (6.) lxviii. 18 (17.) Streets, though not incorrect, is 
an inadequate translation of the Hebrew word (rviXin), which 
means external spaces, streets as opposed to the inside of houses, 
fields or country as opposed to a whole town. Here it includes 
not onlv roads but fields. 

14. Our oxen loaded — no damage and no loss — and no complaint 
in oar streets. The first particular implies abundance. For the 
use of oxen as beasts of burden, see 1 Chr. xii. 40. Damage and 
loss, literally, breach and going forth. Complaint, literally, cry, 
but especially for loss of the fruits of the earth. See Isai. xxiv. 11. 
Some give the sentence an entirely different meaning, by supposing 
the word translated oxen to mean princes, as it does in Zech. ix. 7. 
xii. 5, 6, and giving the participle joined with it the Chaldee sense 
of raised erect or upright. Going out then means going out to 
war, as in Am. v. 3,' breach the incursion of an enemy, and cry a 
war-cry. But the first Hebrew word in question (t^**) is applied 
only to the chiefs of Edom (Gen. xxxvi. 15), except in the latest 



292 PSALM CXLV. 

books of the Old Testament, such as Zechariah ; and we naturally 
look for oxen after sheep, as in Ps. viii. S (7.) 

15. Happy the people (with) whom (it is) thus ! Happy the people 
whose God (is) Jehovah ! The clauses are not antithetical but 
equivalent. The people means the (chosen) people, Israel, with 
whom, in prosperous times, it was thus, and was thus for the very 
reason that Jehovah was their God. 



PSALM CXLY. 

This has been happily characterized as the "new song" prom- 
ised in Ps. cxliv. 9. In other words, it is the song of praise, cor- 
responding to the didactic, penitential, and supplicatory psalms of 
this series. In form it is an alphabetical psalm, and like others of 
that class (see vol. i. p. 206) admits of no analysis, being made up 
of variations on a single theme, the righteousness and goodness of 
the Lord to men in general, to his own people in particular, and 
more especially to those who suffer. The letter nun is wanting, 
being omitted, as some suppose, for the sake of having three equal 
stanzas, each containing seven verses. The Septuagint supplies 
the omission, in a very inartificial manner, by anticipating v. 17 
before v. 15, with a simple change of righteous (P^TS) to faith- 
ful (Wr), as in Ps. cxi. 7. 

1. Praise. By David. I will exalt thee, my God, the King 
and will hless thy name to eternity and perpetuity. This is the 
only case in which the word Praise stands alone as the designation 
or description of a psalm. It evidently bears an antithetical re- 
lation to the title Prayer in Ps. cxlii. 1, the rather as the Hebrew 



PSALM CXLV. 093 

words (njsti and n|MR) are still more alike than their English 
equivalents, differing only in a single letter. I will exalt thee, as 
in Ps. xxx. 2(1), where the reason is expressed that is here im- 
plied, to wit, that God had exalted him. The king, the only true 
king, the king of kings, by whom they are put up and down, pro- 
tected and punished. See above, on Ps. cxliv. 10, and compare 
Ps. v. 3 (2.) xx. 10 (9.) xxiv. 8, 10. xxix. 10. xciii. 1. xcv. 3. 
xcvi. 10. xcix. 1. The regal honours paid to himself by others 
David here transfers as due to God alone. Bless thy name, i. e. 
reverently praise it. See above, on Ps. v. 12 (11.) xxxiv. 2 (1.) 
ciii. 1. Forever and ever, in reference not merely to himself but 
to his royal race, which is to live forever. See above, on 
Ps. cxxxviii. 8. 

2. Every day will I bless thee and praise thy name to eter- 
nity and perpetuity. Compare Ps. lxviii. 20 (19.) lxix. 31 (30.) 
xcii. 2, 3. Every day denotes constancy and regularity. 

3. Great (is) Jehovah and to be praised exceedingly, and to his 
greatness there is no search, i. e. it is unsearchable. The first 
clause is quoted in Ps. xlviii. 2(1.) Greatly to be praised, as in 
Ps. xviii. 4 (3.) xcvi. 4. cxiii. 3. His greatness, as displayed in 
act, his great performance or performances. See above, on 
Ps. lxxi. 21. With the last words of the verse compare Ps. 
xl. 6 (5.) 

4. Generation to generation lauds thy deeds, and thy mighty 
doings they declare. With the first clause compare Ps. xix. 3 (2.) 
The verbs are of the future form, lauds and will laud, declare 
and will declare. The first verb is the one used in Ps. Ixiii. 4 (3.) 
cxvii. 1. Mighty doings, literally, mights or foivers, but always 
used, like greatness, in an active not an abstract sense. See 
above, on Ps. xx. 7 (6.) cvi. 2. They declare may agree with 



294 PSALM CXLV. 

men indefinitely, or with the double generation in the first clause, 
which, however, is there construed with a verb in the singular. 

5. (Of) the beauty of the honour of thy majesty, and the words 
of thy wonders, I icill muse (or meditate.) The accumulation of 
synonymous expressions in the first clause has been falsely repre- 
sented as a proof of later date and a corrupted taste, whereas it 
only proves intensity of admiration. For examples of the same 
thing in undisputed psalms of David, see above, Ps. xviii. 3 (2.) 
Ixii. 8 (7). Beauty and majesty, as in Ps. xlv. 4 (3.) Honour 
or glory, as in Ps. xix. 1. Words of thy wonders are the wonders 
or wondrous deeds themselves, considered as subjects of discourse 
or celebration. See above, on Ps. lxv. 4 (3.) cv. 27. I will 
muse, as in Ps. lxxvii. 13 (12.) cxix. 15, 23, 27, 48, 78, 14S. 

6. And the force of thy dread (deeds) they utter — and (as to) 
thy greatness, I will recount it. Dread, literally, feared, and then 
to be feared, as praised means to be praised in v. 3 above. Utter, 
literally say, precisely as in Ps. xl. 11 (10.) Greatness, or ac- 
cording to the reading in the text of the Hebrew Bible, great- 
nesses, i. e. great deeds, as mights means mighty deeds in v. 5. 

7. The memory of thy great goodness they pour forth, and (of) 
thy righteousness they sing (or shout.) Memory, as in Ps. vi. 6 (5.) 
Great goodness is the order of the words not only in Eng- 
lish but in Hebrew, where it is unusual. See above, on 
Ps. lxxxix. 51 (50.) Pour forth, as in Ps. xix. 3 (2.) lxxviii. 2. 
Compare Ps. lix. 8 (7.) Thy righteousness, as in Ps. xxxi. 2 (1.) 
li. 16 (14.) cxliii. 1. Sing or shout for joy. The construction 
is like that in Ps. li. 16 (14.) lix. 17 (10.) 

8. Gracious and compassionate (is) Jehovah, slow to anger and 
great (in) mercy. Compare Ps. Ixxxvi. 15 (14.) ciii. S. cxi. 4. 



PSALM CXLV. 295 

Instead of the usual expression (^h) much or abundant, we have 
here great, in allusion to its previous use in vs. 3, 6. 

9. Good (is) Jehovah to all, and his compassions (are) over all 
his works. All, literally, the all, the whole universe. See 
above, on Ps. cxix. 91. Over or upon, the first suggesting the 
idea of a coverino;, the second that of a descent from above. His 
works, the things which he has made, his creatures. See above, 
on Ps. ciii. 22. The argument implied is, how much more to 
his own people, the creatures of his grace. See above, on 
Ps. exxxviii. 8. 

10. All thy creatures, oh Jehovah, praise (or thank) thee, and 
thy saints bless thee. The future forms, as usual, denote that it is 
so and will be so. The superfluous n in the last word is an or- 
thographical peculiarity like that in Ps. exxxix. 3. cxl. 8. cxli. 8. 
As saints (or gracious ones) are more than creatures, so to bless 
is more than to praise. See above, on v. 1 . 

.11. The glory of thy reign they utter, and thy might they speak. 
Compare Ps. ciii. 19. Thy reign or kingdom, which is universal. 
The whole phrase may mean thy royal dignity or honour. 

12. To make known to the sons of man his mighty deeds, and the 
glory of the majesty of his reign (or kingdom.) Some give the 
infinitive the force of a gerund, by making known ; but the true 
sense seems to be, so as to (or so that they) make known.- See 
above, on Ps. lxxviii. 18. 



5 



13. Thy reign is a reign of all eternities, and thy dominion in 
generation' and generation. These words are also found in 
Dan. iii. 33. iv. 31. The meaning of the last clause is, thy domi- 
nion still exists and shall exist in every successive generation. 



6 



296 PSALM CXLV. 

14. An upholder (is) Jehovah for all the falling, a lifter up 
for all the boiccd down. The first word in each clause is properly 
a participle, here used as a noun, and therefore followed by the 
preposition to or for. Translated in either way, the words neces- 
sarily suggest the idea of habitual action. With the first clause 
compare Ps. xxxvii. 17, 24. liv. 6 (4.) cxix. 116. 

15. The eyes of all unto thee (look and) wait, and thou giv est 
them their food in its season. The verb in the first clause means 
to wait, expect, or hope, but is here construed with the preposi- 
tion to or towards, which implies the act of turning or looking to 
the object confided in. Givest, literally giving, i. e. (art habit- 
ually) giving. See above, on Ps. civ. 27, where these words are 
quoted. 

16. Opening thy hand and satisfying to every living (thing its) 
desire, or the desire of every living thing. Another construction, 
preferred by some interpreters, is, satisfying (giving satisfaction) 
to every living thing (in its) desire, viz. that which it desires. 
See the imitation of this verse in Ps. civ. 28, and compare 
Ps. ciii. 5. Acts xiv. 17. The words satisfy and will (or desire) 
are combined, as here, in Deut xxxiii. 23. 

17. Righteous (is) Jehovah in all his ways and merciful in all 
his works. Justice and mercy are not mentioned here as oppo- 
sites, but rather as equivalents, the goodness of God being really 
included in the rectitude so frequently ascribed to him. 

18. Near (is) Jehovah to all calling upon Mm, to all falling 
upon him in truth, i. e. sincerely, with importunate desL-e and 
strong confidence. With this verse compare Ps. xxxiv. 7, ] 9. 

19. The will of his fearers he will do, and their cry he will 
hear, and will save them. lie will do what they desire, or grant 



PSALM CXLVI. 297 

their prayer, especially their prayer for help in time of danger and 
distress, as intimated in the last clause. Compare Ps. xxxiv. 10, 
16 (9, 15.) xxxvii. 40. 

20. Jehovah keeps all that love him, and all the wicked will he 
destroy. The fearers of v. 19 and the lovers of this verse are iden- 
tical, which shows that godly fear and love are not incompatible. 
Keeps, literally keeping, as in v. 15, from all danger and distress, 
preserving. 

21. The praise of Jehovah shall my mouth speak, and all flesh 
shall bless his holy name forever, or retaining the idiomatic form of 
the original, all flesh shall bless the name of his holiness (or his 
name of holiness) to eternity and perpetuity. The use of the word 
praise connects this verse with the title or inscription in v. 1, 
which is thereby justified or proved to be correct. All flesh, as 
in Ps. lxv. 3 (2.) His holy name, as in Ps. xxxiii. 21. 



PSALM CXLVI. 

This psalm may be divided into two equal parts, the first of 
which describes the happiness of those who trust in God and not 
in man, vs. 1 — 5, while the second gives the reason, drawn from 
the divine perfections, vs. 6—10. The psalm is distinguished 
from the Davidic series which precedes it (exxxviii — cxlv) by 
its whole internal character. At the same time its coincidences 
of expression with the one immediately before it show that it was 
meant to be used in connection with it, and may therefore be re- 
garded as the closing psalm of the whole series beginning with 



298 PSALM C LVI. 

Ps. cxxxv, and belonging to the time of Haggai and Zechariah, to 
which the psalm before us is expressly referred in the Septuagint 
Version. 

1. Hillelujah ! Praise, oh my soul, Jehovah! See above, 
Ps. ciii. 1, 22. civ. 1, 35. The Hallelujah never appears in any 
psalm which bears the name of David, and is indeed as character- 
istic of the later psalms as the Selah is of the more ancient. 

2. I will praise Jehovah while I live ; I will make music to my 
God while I still (exist.) For the literal meaning of these words, 
see above, on Ps. civ. 33, from which they are borrowed, with the 
unimportant change of sing to praise. 

3. Trust ye not in princes, in the son of man, to whom there is no 
salvation, who cannot save either himself or others, but is wholly 
dependent upon God. Compare Ps. xl. 5 (4.) lxxv. 7, 8 (6, 7.) 
cviii. 13. cxvi. 11. cxliv. 10. This may be regarded as an exhort- 
ation to men in general from Israel, an exhortation founded on his 
own experience. 

4. Forth goes his spirit, he returns to his earth ; in that very day 
his thoughts perish. For the meaning of the first clause, see above, 
on Ps. civ. 29. The primary idea of breath and the secondary 
one of spirit run into each other in the usage of the Hebrew word 
(T?^)) so that either may be expressed in the translation, without 
entirely excluding the other. His thoughts, his vain notions or 
ambitious schemes. 

5. Happy he whose help is the God of Jacob, (and) his reliance 
on Jehovah his God. Whose help, literally, in whose help, i. e 
engaged, employed in it, or more probably, among whose helpers. 
Compare Ps. xlv. 10 (9.) liv. 6 (4.) xcix. 6. cxviii. 7. The divine 
name (*>«) here used suggests the idea of almighty power, as 



PSALM CXLVI. 299 

opposed to that of human weakness. Reliance, literally, expecta- 
tion, hope ; but the first idea is necessarily suggested by the prepo- 
sition on. 

6. Who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that (is) in them 
— the (one) keeping truth forever. Two reasons are here given for 
thus relying upon God ; his almighty power, as exercised and 
proved in the creation of the world, and his unchangeable fidelity. 
See above, Ps. xxv. 5. Who- made, literally, making, with the 
usual reference to God's creative power as still exerted in the sus- 
tentation of the universe. See above, on Ps. lxv. 7 (6.) cxxi. 2. 
cxliv. 2. 

7. Doing justice to the oppressed — giving bread to the hungry — 
Jehovah, freeing (or the liberator of) the bound. He is not only 
able but accustomed to relieve those in distress, of whom several dis- 
tinct classes are here specified as samples. Compare Ps. xxxvii. 19. 
lxviii. 6, 7 (5, 6.) cvii. 5, 9, 10. cxlv. 14. Hunger and captivity 
are both familiar figures for spiritual evils, as well as literal desig- 
nations of external ones, both which may here be considered as 
included. 

8. Jehovah opens (the eyes of) the blind ; Jehovah raises up the 
bowed down ; Jehovah loves the righteous. The ellipsis in the first 
clause is not so harsh in Hebrew as in English, because the verb 
(np.^) is almost confined, in usage, to the eyes, and would at once 
suggest them to a Hebrew reader. All the verbs are of the parti- 
cipial form, opening, raising, loving, i. e. continually doing so. 
The first clause is applicable both to bodily and mental blindness. 
Compare Deut. xxviii. 29. Isai. lix. 10. Job xii. 25. The second 
clause is borrowed from Ps. cxlv. 14. 

9. Jehovah preserves strangers ; orphan and widow he relieves ; 
and the way of wicked men makes crooked. The stranger, the or- 



300 PSALM CXLVII. 

phan, and the widow are constantly presented in the Law as objects 
of compassion and beneficence. See. above, on Ps. lxviii. 6, 7 (5, 6.) 
Itelieves, restores, raises up from their low condition. As a straight 
path is an emblem of prosperity, to render one's path crooked is to 
involve him in calamity. The same verb is applied, in a moral 
sense, to the perverse conduct of the wicked, Ps. cxix. 78. 

10. Jehovah (reigns and) shall reign to eternity ; thy God, oh 
Zion, to generation and generation. Hallelujah (praise ye Jah) ! 
The Psalm closes with a grand sentence from the Song of Moses, 
Ex. xv. IS, to which a parallel clause is added, and a concluding 
Hallelujah, winding up the whole series of psalms, supposed to 
have been sung at the completion of the second temple. 



PSALM CXLVII. 

A song of praise to Jehovah on account of his goodness to hia 
creatures generally, and to his church or chosen people in particu- 
lar. Both these themes run through the psalm ; but one is pre- 
dominant in the first part, vs. 1 — 1 1 ; the other in the second, vs. 
12 — 20. The four remaining psalms (cxlvii — cl), connected to- 
gether, and distinguished from what goes before, by the Hallelujah 
with which they all begin and end ; by their joyous tone, unmixed 
with lamentation or complaint ; by their frequent allusions to some 
great deliverance recently experienced ; and by the peculiar way 
in which they bring together the exhibitions of God's glory in the 
works of nature and in his dealings with the church ; have not 
improbably been represented as a series, intended to commemo- 
rate the completion of the walls of Jerusalem by Nehemiah, an 



PSALM CXLVII. 30i 

event described in the history itself, as putting an end to the re- 
proach of Israel, and restoring the Holy City to its proper rank. 
See Neli. i. 3. ii. 5, 17. vi. 6, 7, 15, 16. vii. 4. ix. 6, 13, 14. x. 29. 
xii. 27, 35, 41, 43. 

1. Hallelujah (praise ye Jah), for it is good to celebrate our 
God, for it is sweet (and) praise becoming. This is made up of 
the beginnings of three other psalms. See above, Ps. xcii. 2(1.) 
exxxv. 3. xxxiii. 1. Celebrate, make music to, with voice and in- 
strument. See above, on Ps. vii. 18 (17.) Instead of it is siveet 
some read he is lovely, i. e. a worthy object of supreme affection, 
as in Ps. exxxv. 3. But even there the construction is a doubt- 
ful one, and here the first proposed above is recommended by the 
fact that the epithets before and after relate not to God himself 
but to his praise. 

2. Building Jerusalem (is) Jehovah ; the outcasts of Israel he 
gathers. The rebuilding of the walls in the days of Nehemiah, 
may be said to have completed the fulfilment of the promise in 
Lsai. xi. 12. lvi. 8. Compare Ps. cvii. 3. 

3. The (one) healing the broken-hearted and binding up their 
wounds. ■ This was true as a general description, and specially 
exemplified in the deliverance which Israel had experienced. 
See above, on Ps. xxxiv. 19 (18.) ciii. 3, and compare lsai. lxi. 1. 

4. Telling the number of the stars — to all of them names he 
calls. The God who thus provides for Israel is the God of nature 
no less than of grace. Telling, counting, reckoning, estimating. 
Not determining beforehand, but simply doing what man cannot. 
See Gen. xv. 5, and compare. Gen. xiii. 16, Num. xxiii. 10. lsai. 
lxv. 12. He not only counts but names them, calling them all by 
name. The verse is borrowed from lsai. xl. 26, where as here 



302 PSALM CXLVII. 

God's knowledge and control of nature is presented as a source 
of consolation to Lis people. m 

5. Great is our Lord and of much power ; to his understand 
ing there is no member, i. e. it is incalculable and immense. 
Compare Isai. xl. 26, 28. Of muck power, or abundant in 
strength. 

6. Raising up the humble (is) Jehovah, casting down the 
wicked to the very earth. See above, Ps. cxlvi. 8, 9. To the 
very earth, literally, even to the earth. 

7. Respond to Jehovah with thanksgiving ; make music to our 
God with a harp. The first verb has its proper sense of answer- 
ing or responding, as in Ps. cxix. 172. It may be doubted 
whether it ever has that of simply singing. Respond, i. e. to his 
manifold favours. 

S. The (one) covering the heavens icith clouds — the (one,) 
providing for the earth rain — the (one) causing the mountains to 
'put forth grass. The grass as produced by means of the rain, 
and the rain by means of the clouds. See above, on Ps. civ. 13. 

9. Giving to the cattle its food — to the young ravens which cry. 
The first noun may also be translated least, but still with refer- 
ence to domestic animals, with which is contrasted in the other 
clause the raven, as a wild bird, unconnected with mankind, and 
as some suppose with allusion to its harsh and piercing cry. See 
above, on Ps. civ. 21. cxlv. 15, and compare Job xxxviii. 41. 

Young ravens, literally, sons of the raven. 

10. Not in the strength of a horse does he delight ; not with 
the legs of a man is he pleased. The best explanation of the sin- 
gular expressions in the last clause is, that the whole verse was 



PSALM CXLVII. 303 

intended to describe horse and foot, or cavalry an! infantry, as 
forming the military strength of armies. It is not to those who 
trust in these that God is disposed to extend favour, nor do these 
advantages at all attract him. 

11. Phased (is) Jehovah with those fearing him, with those 
hoping for his mercy. This implies the want of secular advan- 
tages, or at least an absence of reliance on them, and a sense of 
dependence upon God alone. 

12. Laud , oh Jerusalem, Jehovah ! Praise thy God, oh Zion ! 
Here begins the second division of the psalm, in which the good- 
ness of God to his people is the theme, and the people itself the 
object of address. 

13. For he hath strengthened the bars of thy gates ; he hath' 
blessed thy sons in the midst of thee. Although the first clause 
admits of a general figurative application, it seems to contain an 
evident allusion to the historical occasion of the psalm, or at least 
to favour the opinion, that it was designed to celebrate the 
renewed fortifications of the Holy City. 

14. (It is) he that makes thy border peace, (and with) the fat 
of wheat he satisfies thee. He that makes, literally, the (one) 
placing. Border is put for all that it contains or bounds, thy 
territory or domain. To make it peace is to make it peaceful or 
to give it peace. See Isai. liv. 12. With the last clause com- 
pare Ps. lxxxi. 17. Deut. xxxii. 14. 

15. He that sendcth his commandment (upon) earth — very 
swiftly runs his word. The construction is like that in the pre- 
ceding verse. He that sendeth,th.e (one) sending. Commandment, 
literally, saying, what he says. Very swiftly, literally, even to 
swiftness. The authoritative word of God is here personified as 



304 PSALM CXLVII. 

his messenger or agent, whose swift running signifies the prompt 
execution of the divine will. 

16. He that gives snoio like wool, hoar-frost like ashes sprinkles. 
As easily as a man scatters wool or ashes, does God cover the 
earth with snow or frost. The selection of phenomena peculiar 
to winter may have reference to the season when the psalm was 
written or originally sung. At the same time they were probably 
designed to serve as emblems of the long distress, to which the 
Restoration put an end, as spring does to winter. The compari- 
sons in this verse are less striking to us than to the people of 
countries where snow and frost are less familiar. 

17. He that sendeth his ice like crumbs. Before his cold who 
can stand ? The second noun means scraps or morsels, but in 
usage is specially applied to food. See Gen. xviii. 5. Judg. xix. 5. 
This seems to be descriptive of hail, which God sends upon the 
earth as easily and freely as man scatters crumbs or throws away 
the refuse of his food. The allusion to the feeding of domesti- 
cated animals, which some assume, is needless though admissible. 

IS. He sends his ivord and melts them — he makes his wind blow 
— tvaters flow. Sends his ivord, utters his command. The 
plural pronoun (them) refers to snow, frost, and ice, in vs. 16, 17. 
The winds meant are the warm winds of the spring, attended by 
a general thaw. 

19. Declaring his word to Jacob, his statutes and his judg- 
ments to Israel. The God of Nature is the God of Revelation. 
He who thus controls the elements and seasons is the God of 
Israel, and will work spiritual changes corresponding to these 
natural phenomena, for the benefit of the people whom he has 
entrusted with the revelation of his will. 



PSALM CXLVIII. 305 

20. He has not done so to every nation — and (as for) judgments. 
they know nothing of them. This revelation to Israel is peculiar 
and exclusive. E eery nation, and by implication, any one. This 
is indeed the only form in which that idea could be expressed in 
Hebrew. The last clause declares the other nations ignorant not 
only of his laics or judgments, but of any that deserve the name. 



PSALM CXLVIII. 

The universe, in all its parts, is summoned to praise God as its 
maker, and as infinitely worthy of its adoration. The invitation 
is addressed, in the first instance, to heaven and its inhabitants, 
exhorting them to praise God as their maker and preserver, 
vs. L — 6. It is then addressed to the earth and its inhabitants, 
exhorting them to praise him for his infinite perfection, as dis- 
played in his works, but especially in his dealings with his chosen 
people, vs. 7 — 14. Even the most skeptical critics are con- 
strained to acknowledge that this psalm and the two which follow 
are admirably suited to their purpose. 

1. Hallelujah ! Praise ye Jehovah from the heavens ! Praise 
kirn in the heights ! This verse designates the place, or part of 
the creation, from which the praise is to proceed. Heights, or 
high-places, is a simple equivalent to heavens, the plural form of 
which it takes by assimilation. Compare the singular in Ps. 
xviii. 17 (16.) The preposition from denotes the direction of 
the sound, the preposition in the place where it is uttered. 

2. Praise ye him, all his angels ! Praise re him, all his hosh ! 



306 PSALM CXLVIII. 

As this last expression is applied both to the angels and the 
heavenly bodies, it here affords a natural transition from the one 
to the other. See above, on Ps. xxiv. 10. xxix. 1. ciii. 21. 

3. Praise ye him, sun and moon ! Praise him, all ye stars of 
light ! This is a specification of the general term, his hosts, in 
v. 2. Stars of light is a beautiful poetical expression for bright 
or shining stars. 

4. Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters which are 
above the heavens ! The object of address in the first clause is the 
highest heaven, the heaven of that which is heaven to us. See 
above, on Ps. lxviii. 34 (33), and compare Deut. x. 14. 1 Kings 
viii. 27. 2 Cor. xii. 2. The waters meant are the watery clouds 
above the lower heavens, as in Gen. i. 7. See above, on 
Ps. civ. 3 ♦ 

5. Let them praise the name of Jehovah, for he commanded and 
they were created. The direct invitation to the heavens is followed 
by a statement of the reason why they should comply with it, ex- 
pressed in the third person, as if addressed to others. The pro- 
noun he is emphatic. (It was) he (that) commanded (and no 
other.) See above, on Ps. xxxiii. 9, and compare Gen. i. 3. 

6. And made them stand to 'perpetuity and eternity ; a limit he 
gave (them) and they cannot pass (it.) The immutability 
ascribed to the frame of nature, Ps. lxxii. 5. Ixxxix. 3, 37 (2, 36), 
is not absolute but relative to the will of the creator. All that is 
required by the context in such cases is, that they cannot change 
in opposition to his will or independently of it. See Ps. cii. 27. 
The first word in the second clause is here used in its primary 
sense of a definite boundary or limit, from which may be readily 
deduced the usual one of statute or permanent enactment. See 
above, on Ps. ii. 7. As the last verb is in the singular number, 



PSALM CXLVIII. 307 

the most obvious construction is the one given in the English 
Bible, a decree which shall not pass. Compare Matth. v. 18. 
But the highest authorities appear to be agreed that the analogy 
of Job xiv. 5. Ps. civ. 9. Jer. v. 22, requires the verb to be taken 
in the sense of transcending or transgressing, and construed with 
the aggregate of the heavenly bodies. 

7. Praise Jehovah from the earth, ye dragons and all depths ! 
Here begins the second part, in which the address is to the earth 
and its inhabitants. From the earth is in antithesis to from the 
heavens in v. 1. Earth here includes land and water; hence the 
last clause makes exclusive mention of the latter, as the word 
translated dragons is applied to huge aquatic animals, (Ps. lxxiv. 
13), and the one translated depths to large bodies of water 
f Ps. xxxiii. 7.) As the first, however, sometimes means serpents 
(Ts. xci. 13J, it may here be the connecting link between land 
and water. 

8. Fire and hail, snow and vapour, stormy wind doing his 
word. The address here passes to the inanimate and unconscious 
agencies of nature. Fire and hail, as in Ps. cv. 32. The fire 
meant is commonly supposed to be lightning ; but according to 
Hengstenberg the word is to be taken in its ordinary sense and 
is separated from its natural attendant smoke (for such is the 
meaning of the Hebrew word elsewhere, e. g. Ps. cxix. 83J only 
for the purpose of contrasting hot and cold, white and black, 
which seems a little fanciful and far-fetched. The storm-wind 
(or stormy wind) is mentioned as a natural agent the least likely 
to be under control, and it is expressly described as doing Grod's 
word, i. e. executing his command. See above, on Ps. ciii. 20. 
civ. 4. 

9. The mountains and all hills, fruit-trees and all cedars. Not 
fruitful trees, as distinguished from barren trees, but fruit-trees 



308 PSALM CXLV1II. 

(literally, tree of fruit), as distinguished from forest-trees, here 
represented by the cedar, which is usually spokm of in scripture 
as the noblest species, and therefore called the cedar of God, Ps 
lxxx. 11 (10.) 

10. The wild (beast) and all cattle, creeping thing and flying 
fowl. The contrast in the first clause is analogous to that between 
fruit-trees and cedars in v. 9. The Hebrew word (i^l) transla- 
ted creeping thing has no exact equivalent in English. It seems 
strictly to denote animal or vital motion, or as a concrete term 
whatever so moves, and is even applied to aquatic animals, 
Ps. civ. 25. But when used distinctively, it denotes the smaller 
classes of terrestrial animals, including insects, reptiles, and the 
smallest quadrupeds. It is here added simply to complete the 
expression of the general idea, all animals whatever. Flying 
fowl, literally, bird of wing. The first of the Hebrew words is 
specially applied to the smaller birds, and sometimes specifically 
to the sparrow. See above, on Ps. xi. 1. lxxxiv. 4 (3.) civ. 17. 
exxiv. 7. This and the preceding item in the catalogue, suggest- 
ing the idea of the smallest animals, may possibly have been used 
to denote the universality of the call here made upon all creatures, 
from the greatest to the smallest, to praise God their maker. 

11. Kings of the earth and all nations, chiefs and all. judges of 
the earth. He here passes from the lower animals to man. Kings 
and the nations whom they represent. Princes is not an exact 
translation of the Hebrew (t^b), which is especially, though not 
exclusively, applied to military leaders of various rank, and may 
therefore best be represented by the English chiefs or chieftains. 

12. Young men and also maidens, old men with children. The 
obvious meaning of this verse is, all men, without distinction of 
sex or age. There is no need, therefore, of refining on the 
several particulars, or undertaking to explain why old men and 



PSALM CXLVIII. 309 

young men are both mentioned, since neither of them could have 
been omitted without failing to accomplish the design of the enu- 
meration. For the etymology and primary meaning of the first 
word in Hebrew, sec above, on Ps. lxxviii. 63, where it stands in 
precisely the same combination. The two nouns in the last 
clause may be considered as of common gender. 

13. Let (all these) praise 'the name of Jehovah, for exalted is 
his name alone, his glory is above earth and heaven. The 
mention of earth and heaven shows that the first verb relates not 
merely to that which immediately precedes, but to the whole 
enumeration of God's creatures with which the psalm is occupied. 
See above, on Ps. civ. 27. Exalted is his name, as in Isai. xii. 4. 
His glory or majesty, a Hebrew word especially applied to royal 
dignity. See above, on Ps. xxi. 6 (5.) xlv. 4 (3.) xcvi. 6. civ. 1. 
cxi. 3. Above earth and heaven, i. e, superior to their mere 
material splendor, or on earth and heaven, i. e. placed upon them 
as a crown. . See above, on Ps. viii. 2 (1.) lvii. 6 (5.) 

14. And he has raised up a horn for his people — praise for 
all his saints— for the children of Israel — a people near to him. 
Hallelujah! While all the creatures before mentioned have 
abundant cause to praise God for his infinite perfection and his 
goodness to themselves, a peculiar obligation is incumbent on his 
people ; first, for his distinguishing favour through all periods of 
their history ; and then, for a special mercy recently experienced, 
namely, th*e restoration from captivity, now completed by the 
renewal of the temple and the reconstruction of the city walls. 
This restoration is described, by a favourite Davidic figure, as 
exalting or lifting up the horn of Israel. See above, on Ps. 
lxxv. 6, 7 (5, 6.) xcii. 11 (10.) The previous condition of the 
chosen people might be well represented by the opposite figure, 
used in Job xvi. 15. Raised a horn for his people seems to be 
only another way of saying raised the horn of his people. The 



310 PSALM CXLIX. 

first form of expression may have been here used for the purpose 
of assimilating this clause to the next, where praise is still depend- 
ent on the verb at the beginning, and to raise up praise for /lis 
people is to give them fresh occasion of still higher praise than 
they had ever yet been called to utter. The ancient church is 
here described in a fourfold manner ; first, simply as his people ; 
then, as his saints or gracious ones, the objects of his mercy and 
the subjects of his grace ; then, by 'their national title, as the sons 
for descendants) of Israel ; and lastly as the people near him, i. e. 
nearer to him than all others, sustaining a more intimate relation 
to him. The same expression which is elsewhere applied to the 
priests (Lev. x. 3. Ezek. xlii. 13) is here applied to Israel as "a 
kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Ex. xix. 6.) 



PSALM CXLIX. 

This may be regarded as the special song of praise required of 
Israel at the close of the preceding psalm ; first, on account of 
mercies already experienced by the chosen people, vs. 1 — 5, and 
then, in the hope of future triumphs over all heathen and hostile 
powers, vs. 6 — 9. Nothing could well be more appropriate to 
the state of things under Nehemiah, when the city and nation 
had again been put into a posture of defence and resistance. 

1. Hallelujah ! Sing unto Jehovah a new song, his praise in 
the congregation of saints. Compare Ps. xl. 4 (3.) xcvi. I. cxi. 1. 
cxlviii. 14, to which last there is an obvious allusion, connecting 
the two psalms in the closest manner. 

2. Let Israel rejoice in his Maker ! Let the sons of Zion triumph 



PSALM CXLIX. 311 

m their King ! Not merely the creator of individuals, but of the 
church and nation as such, and that not only at first, but by a kind 
of new creation, in the restoration of the people from captivity. 
They are summoned to rejoice in him, not only as their founder 
and restorer but their sovereign. See above, on Ps. xcv. 6. c. 3. 
cxlv. 1, and compare Isai. xliii. 1. xliv. 2. xlv. 13. 

3. Let them praise his name in the dance; with timbrel and harp 
let them play (or make music) to him. The usual modes of ex- 
pressing joy are here combined. As to the dance, see above, on 
Ps. xxx. 12 (11.) 

4. For Jehovah is pleased with his people ; he beautifies the 
humble with salvation. The first clause suggests the idea of a 
previous alienation and of his having been appeased or reconciled. 
See above, on Ps. lxxxv. 2(1.) The verb is one applied in the 
Law to God's acceptance of the sacrifices, and might therefore 
awaken here associations with atonement and forgiveness. See 
above, on Ps. xix. 15 (14.) li. 22 (20.) The verb occurs in its 
general sense of being pleased or satisfied, Ps. cxlvii. 10, 11. 
With the last clause compare Isai. lxi. 3. 

5. Let the saints exult in glory ; let them sing (for joy) upon 
their beds. The word translated saints is the same that occurs in 
Ps. cxlviii. 14, and is there explained. In glory (or honour), i. e. 
the glorious or honourable state into which Jehovah has now 
brought them. The glory is not that which belongs to God, 
Ps. xxix. 9. xcvi. 7, but that which he bestows, Ps. lxxxiv. 12 
(11.) lxxxv. 10 (9.) The very phrase, in honour, occurs above, 
Ps. cxii. 9. Sing or shout, as audible expressions of strong feel- 
ing, and especially of joy. On their beds, where they have been 
accustomed to lament their previous degradation, or what Nehe- 
miah calls their " affliction and reproach." See Neh. i. 3 
iii. 36 (iv. 4.) 



312 PSALM CXLIX. 

6. Praises of God in their throat, and a two-edged sword in 
their hand. A striking coincidence has been observed between 
this verse and Neh. iv. 11, 12 (17, IS.) As then they worked 
with one hand and brandished the sword with the other, so now 
they might be said at the same time to praise Grod and defy their 
enemies. This singular mixture of devotional and martial spirit 
is characteristic of the psalm and furnishes a valuable index to the 
date of composition. The conclusion thus reached is corroborated 
by the account of the military and religious pomp, with which the 
walls were dedicated, as described by Nehemiah (xii. 31 — 47.) 



cr 

ft 



7. To execute vengeance among the nations, punishments amon 
the peoples. Not their own vengeance, but that of God, to whom 
alone it appertains. See above, on Ps. xviii. 48 (47.) xciv. 1, and 
compare Deut. xxxii. 35. Eom. xii. 19. Heb. x. 30. This is really 
nothing more than a prediction, that God would use his people as 
his instruments in punishing the nations by whom they had them- 
selves been persecuted and oppressed. This was partially ful- 
filled in the successes of the Maccabees, but under a new and 
unexpected form, in the spiritual triumphs of the true religion, 
and its actual or prospective subjugation of the world. 

8. To bind their kings with chains, their nobles with fetters of 
iron. The word translated nobles is properly a participle, mean- 
ing honoured (ones.) The verse simply carries out the idea of the 
one before it, that of the subjugation of the gentiles by the true 
religion. The objection to this, as a spiritualizing explanation of 
the text, springs from a narrow and erroneous view of the very 
end for which Israel existed as a nation. Those promises to Is- 
rael, which are not still available for us, were but of temporary 
local value. 

9. To execute among them the judgment written. An honour is 
tJuit for all his saints. This last phrase occurs also at the close of 



PSALM CL. 313 

the preceding psalm (cxlviii. 14). As written may mean written 
in the book of God's decrees, there is no need of supposing a refer- 
ence to any part of scripture. If there be such reference, how- 
ever, it is no doubt to the threatening in Deut. xxxii. 41 — 43. To 
act as God's instruments in this great judicial process, so far from 
being a disgrace or hardship, is an honour reserved for all the ob- 
jects of his mercy and subjects of his grace. The psalm ends a3 
it began, with Hallelujah ! 



PSALM C L . 

This is the closing Hallelujah or Doxology, which marks the 
conclusion of the last series or cycle (Ps. cxlvii — cl), of the 
Fifth Book (Ps. cvii — cl), and of the whole Psalter. In form 
and structure it is perfectly simple, merely reciting, in an ani- 
mated manner, the place (v. 1), the theme (v. 2), the mode 
(vs. 3 — 5), and the extent (v. 6) of the praise due to Jehovah. 

1 . Hallelujah ! Praise God in his sanctuary ! Praise him in 
the firmament of his power ! The essential meaning of the verse 
is, praise him both in earth and heaven. The particulars detailed 
in Ps. cxlviii are here condensed into a pregnant summary. The 
sanctuary is the earthly one, and as such stands opposed to the 
firmament or heaven, called the firmament of his power, as being 
one of the most glorious proofs and products of its exercise, and 
still the scene of its most striking exhibitions. The phrase is to 
be understood as comprehending the hosts of heaven, both inani- 
mate and living, both material and spiritual. The parallelism is 



314 PSALM CL. 

rendered still more perfect by the correspondence between power 
in the last clause and (i&) the divine name in the first. 

2. Praise him for hh mighty acts ! Praise him according to 
his plenitude of greatness ! His mighty acts, literally, his mights 
or powers. See above, on Ps. cxlv. 4. For, literally, in them, 
i. e. praise him as exhibited and viewed in these. The corres- 
ponding particle means like, in accordance with, in proportion to, 
in a manner worthy of his greatness. The last phrase in He- 
brew is peculiarly expressive, consisting of the two strongest 
terms denoting magnitude, the abstract forms of much and great, 
which might be rendered, if our usage suffered it, muchness of 
greatness. 

3. Praise him with blast of trumpet ! Praise him with harp 
and lyre ! Here begins an enumeration of the instruments em- 
ployed in public worship, and therefore necessarily associated 
with the idea of divine praise. The trumpet was used to assem- 
ble the people, and would therefore excite many of the same asso- 
ciations with our church-bells. The other instruments were used 
as actual accompaniments of the psalms performed in public 
worship. 

4. Praise him with timbrel and dance ! Praise him with strings 
and pipe ! The three great classes of instruments are here dis- 
tinctly mentioned, namely, wind, stringed, and pulsatile. The 
last, represented by the drum or timbrel, still called by a kindred 
name in Arabic, is here accompanied by its inseparable adjunct 

■-dug, which might seem misplaced in a list of instruments, 
and those employed in sacred music, but for the peculiar usages 
and notions of the ancient Hebrews, with respect*to this external 
sign of joy. See above, on Ps. xxx. 12 (11.) cxlix. 3. The 
comn'o version of the last word (organ) is derived through the 



PSALM CL. 315 

Vulgate from the Septuagint, where it denotes a system or com- 
bination of pipes. The Hebrew word, according to the Jewish 
tradition, means a simple pipe, and is so rendered in the Prayer 
Book version. It here represents the whole class of wind- 
instruments. See above, on Ps. lxviii. 26 (25), and compare 
2 Sam. vi. 5. 

5. Praise him with cymbals of loud sound ! Praise him with 
cymbals of joyful noise ! The dominant idea, that of audibly 
expressed joy, is sustained to the last, where the cymbals are 
mentioned in both clauses, as an instrument peculiarly appro- 
priated to occasions of unusual rejoicing. See 2 Sam. vi. 5. 
Ezr. iii. 10. Neh. xii. 27. The effect is still further heightened 
by the qualifying epithets, the first of which strictly denotes 
hearing or the thing heard, i. e. sound, and here by implication, 
loud sound. To this idea the parallel term adds that of joyful 
sound, to which it is constantly applied in usage. See above, 
on Ps. xxvii. 6. lxxxix. 16 (15), and compare Num. xxiii. 21. 
The distinction, here assumed by some interpreters, between 
cymbals of a larger and a smaller size, is wholly unnecessary. 

6. Let all breath praise Jahl Hallelujah I The very am- 
biguity of all breath gives extraordinary richness of meaniDg to 
this closing sentence. From the simple idea of wind instruments, 
mentioned in the context, it leads us, by a beautiful transition, to 
that of vocal, articulate, intelligent praise, uttered by the breath 
of living men, as distinguished from mere lifeless instruments. 
See above, on Ps. lxviii. 26 (25.) Then lastly, by a natural 
association, we ascend to the idea expressed in the common ver- 
sion, every thing that hath breath, not merely all that lires, but all 
that has a voice to praise God. There is nothing in the Psalter 
more majestic or more beautiful than this brief but most signifi- 
cant finale, in which solemnity of tone predominates, without 



n 



16 PSALM CL. 



however in the least disturbing the exhilaration which the close 
of the Psalter seems intended to produce, as if in emblematical 
allusion to the triumph which awaits the church and all its 
members, when through much tribulation they shall enter into 
rest. 



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