THE PSALMS








              E. W. HENGSTENBERG,





                                        VOLUME II.




                  BY THE REV. P. FAIRBAIRN,

                                  MINISTER AT SALTON;





                 THE REV. J. THOMSON, A. M.,

                                 MINISTER AT LEITH.




                            T. & T. CLARK, 38. GEORGE STREET.


              SEELEY & CO.; WARD & CO.; JACKSON & WALFORD, &C.

                                    DUBLIN: JOHN ROBERTSON.

                                             MDCCCXLVI:  1846



      Digitized by Ted Hildebrandt, Gordon College, Wenham, MA  2007




            OF this Second Volume of Hengstenberg on the Psalms, the

first part, reaching to the close of Ps. lix., has been translated by

Mr. FAIRBA1RN, and the remainder by Mr. THOMSON. There is

little more remaining of the original work, than will be required

for the half of another volume, the author having as yet only

brought it down to the end of Ps. cxix. But the Subscribers to

the translation may rest assured, that when the continuation

appears, no time will be lost in having another, and, it is hoped,

the concluding volume, put into their hands. The Translators

again repeat, as their former intimation appears, in some quar-

ters, not to have been attended to, that the Hebrew points are

used in the translation where they are used in the original, and

those, who choose to complain of their not being constantly

employed, should, in fairness, direct their complaint against

the author. The Translators have only farther to add, that

they are not to be understood as concurring in the peculiar

view adopted by the author in regard to some of the Messianic

Psalms, (in particular, Ps. xvi. xxii. and lxix.), by their not express-

ing any formal dissent. The same remark may be made in re-

ference to some incidental expressions, such as that at p. 439,

line 37, 38, of Vol. ii. The author has signified his intention

to handle, in a few treatises, to be appended to the Commenta-

ry, some of the more difficult points connected with the inter-

pretation of the Psalms; and it is not improbable that the view

in question will be there more fully opened up and explained.

They deem it, therefore proper, in the meantime, to remain.

silent: and possibly may do so to the last, even should they be

unable to concur in the author's sentiments, unless these should

appear to them to be inconsistent with correct views on the

inspiration of Scripture.





                               ERRATA IN VOL. II.




In page 275, 3d line from foot, for support of the Psalmist, read contents of the



            279, line 16, delete from correspondence to title, and read: agreement as to

                        the occasion on which the Psalm was composed. Such, however,

                        has been the passion for scepticism and arbitrary interpretation,

                        that even here a monument in its favour must be erected.

            279, last line, for in former times, read already.

            282,    12, for the, read this.

                        14, for they, read to.

            287,    31, for How the Spirit, &c., read The Psalmist virtually introduces

                        the verse thus: As the Spirit of God said by Balaam, In God shall

                        we do valiantly.

            288,    9, for five, read four.

            304,    9, for readily, read really.

            314,    22, for thou, read who.

            339, 32. The following note seems needed to explain Hengstenberg's

                        brief allusion: Though Jehovah was in itself the higher, the more

                        peculiar appellation, yet when a spirit of idolatry spread among the

                        people, and they came to look upon their God as only one of the

                        gods of the nations, so that Jehovah, the peculiar God of Israel, came

                        to be = a God, then Jehovah really imported less than Elohim.

            337, last line, for augment, read argument.

            393,    39, for connected with, read annexed to.

            427,    28, for tyh, read tyH.

            439,    26, for people's, read peoples.








                   BOOK OF PSALMS.






                                        PSALM XXXV.


THE Psalmist vehemently complains of malicious and ungodly

enemies, prays the Lord for deliverance, giving promise of

thanksgivings, if his prayer was granted. The Psalm falls into

three strophes, in each of which the three elements of complaint,

prayer, and promise of thanksgiving, are contained, and which

are especially remarkable on this account, that each of these

runs out into the vow of thanksgiving, ver. 1-10; ver. 11-18;

ver. 19-28. The middle strophe, surrounded on each side by

two decades, in which prayer predominates, is chiefly remark-

able for an extended representation of the Psalmist's distress,

and of the black ingratitude of his enemies, which calls aloud

for the divine retribution.

            The relations of David's time manifestly form the ground of this

Psalm, which was composed, according to the superscription, by

him. A special ground may be found for it, in 1 Sam. xxiv. 15,

where a declaration of David to Saul is recorded, "The Lord

therefore be judge, and judge between me and thee, and see,

and plead my cause, and deliver me out of thine hand,"—which

coincides with the first verse of our Psalm in very characteristic

expressions. Still, we are not to suppose, on this account, that

the Psalm possesses an individual character: what at first sight

appears to carry this aspect, is soon perceived, by an experiencd

judgment, to be a mere individualizing. David speaks in the

person of the righteous, with what view may the more easily be

understood, since the truly Righteous One could appropriate this

Psalm to himself, (John xv. 25, comp. with ver. 19 here,) an ap-

plication, which led many of the older expositors to give the



2                            THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


Psalm a too direct and exclusive Messianic exposition, (comp.
on the other hand, Introd. to Psalm xxii.) An accidental
synchronism between this Psalm and the immediately preceding
one, is indicated by the correspondence presented by ver. 5 and
6 to the other, the more remarkable, as these two Psalms are
the only ones, in which the Angel of the Lord, in a general way,
occurs. But in both he appears entirely in the same character
and connection.

Ver. 1. Contend, 0 Lord, with my contenders, consume those
who consume me. In the first member, the relation of the right-  
eous to his enemies, appears under the image of a contest for
what is right, in the second, under the image of a war. What
is expressed in the first member as a wish, is in Isa. xlix. 25, con-­
verted into a promise, " I will contend with him that contend­-
eth with thee." But the wish here also rises on the ground of
the promise. To beg any thing from God, which he had not

promised, were a piece of folly. MHl, signifies, not to fight, but  
to eat, and
tx is not prepos. but marks the accus. The mean­-
ing of fighting first enters in Niphil, prop. to be eaten, then to
be eaten by another. A destructive warfare against the enemies
is not rarely represented as a consuming of these, comp. for ex­-
ample, Numb. xxiv. 8, "He eats up (consumes) the heathen,
and their bones will he break." Calvin:  "The sum is, that,
overwhelmed with calumnies, and oppressed with cruelty, and
finding no help in the world, he commends his life, as well as his
good name, into the hand of God."

         Ver. 2. Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up as my

help. The Lord is represented under the image of a hero, who
equips himself for the deliverance of his oppressed friend. This
representation has its ground in human weakness.  As dangers
palpable and manifest surround us, God's hidden and invisible
power is not of itself fitted to keep us from all fear and anxiety.
It must in a manner take to itself flesh and blood. It usually
borrows its dress from the danger, which at the time is threat­
ened. In opposition to the acts of lying and calumny, God is set
up as patron or administrator, who takes charge of the affairs
of his people. If danger is threatened from rude violence, he
appears as a warrior, as in Deut. xxxii. 41, 42, who lays hold of
weapons for the defence of his own. In this verse the Psalmist
calls upon the Lord to take weapons of defence, in the next
weapons of offence.
Ngm is the small shield, and hnc the great

                      PSALM XXXV. VER. 3-5.                                 3


one, as appears from 1 Kings x. 16, 17. ytrzfb prop. in my

help, b is that which marks in what property any thing appears

or consists, Ew. Small Gr. § 521. Help is elsewhere also not

rarely used by David for helper, comp. for example, Psalm xxvii.


            Ver. 3. And take hold of the spear, and set a barrier against

my persecutors; say to my soul: thy salvation am I.  qvr in

Hiph. to empty, then to take out, namely, from the armoury.

In the expression: set a barrier, prop. close up against my per-

secutor, the figure is borrowed from a host, Which comes to the

help of its confederates, when threatened with a surprisal by the

enemy, and, by throwing itself between them and the enemy,

cuts off from the latter a retreat. It appears, that we have here

before us a military term of art, such as was quite suitable in.

the mouth of the warrior David, and as has already occurred in

ver. 1 and 2. We are not to supply some definite noun, such

as way. Close up, rather imports as much as, make a close.

txrql, against, in military connection, for example, Deut. i.

44, Jos. viii. 14, is carefully to be distinguished from ynpl.

Against my persecutors, in that thou dost oppose a barrier to

them, dost therewith meet them. Many take rgs as a noun=

sa<garij, a kind of battle-axe. But this exposition forsakes the

Hebrew usage, in which the verb rgs has the signification of

closing up, the noun rvgs that of barricade; it has against it

the authority of all the old translations, and is also deserving of

rejection from the very form, as nouns of the kind almost with-

out exception have the v. In the second member, the Psalmist

is thought by many to wish for an audible communication. But,

according to the connection, the speech is rather one embodied

in fact. Comp. the first member and ver. 4. God has to speak

comfort to the endangered and troubled soul of the Psalmist by

the communication of help. The expression: to my soul, is used,

as ver. 4 shows, because his soul found itself in danger, because

his enemies consulted about taking his life.

            Ver. 4. Let them be confounded and put to shame, who seek

after my soul, let them be turned back and brought to confusion,

who devise my hurt. That the fut. are to be taken optatively,

that the Psalmist does not express hope and confidence, but as

in verse 1-3, prays, appears from the yhy, in ver. 6. Ver. 5.

Let them be as chaff before the wind, and let the angel of the

Lord thrust them. Comp. in regard to the angel of the Lord,


4                       THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


Ps. xxxiv. 7. hHd signifies only to thrust, knock down, never to

drive, or to drive away. On their eager flight the angel of the

Lord lays hold of them and throws them to the ground so that

they can never rise up again. Comp. on Ps. xxxvi. 12. We are

not to supply to hHd the suffix, but the participle enters into  

the place of the noun; prop. let the angel of the Lord be their

pusher. Ver. 6. Let their way be dark and slippery, and let

the angel of the Lord persecute them. The putting of the sub-

stantives darkness and slipperiness, for the adj. gives more 

strength. Whosoever is pursued by a powerful enemy upon a

dark and slippery path, which necessarily retards the speed of

his flight, he is given up to sure destruction. Ver. 7. For

without cause they have hid for me their pit-net, without cause

they have made a pit for my soul. The ground is here laid for

the wish expressed in the preceding verse, guaranteeing the

certainty of its fulfilment. The pit-net is a pit covered with a

net. The image is derived from the hunting of wild beasts,

which are caught in such pit-nets, covered over with twigs and  

earth. We are not exactly to supply tHw to vrpH, but to dig,

stands for, to make a pit. Ver. 8. Let destruction come upon

him unawares, and his net, which he has concealed, let it catch

him, for destruction let him fall therein. The singular refers

here, as in all similar cases, to the ideal person of the wicked.

The expression: he knows not, stands often for, unexpectedly,

suddenly. As they had surprised the righteous in the midst of

his peace, so might perdition again overtake them in the midst

of their security. hxvw is prop. part. of the verb hxw, to rush

together, and denotes, not destruction in the active sense, but

the ruin. This signification is here also demanded by the last

member, where hxvwb marks the circumstances, under which

the fall takes place. His falling into the net is a thing connected

with the entire ruin, as is said in Ps. xxxvi. 12, "They fall and

are not able to rise up again," Ps. xxxiv. 21, "Evil slays the

wicked." The hxvwb distinguishes the evil impending over

the enemies from what had already befallen the Psalmist. Ver.

9. So will my soul be joyful in the Lord; it shall rejoice in his


            Ver. 10. All my bones shall say: Lord who is like thee, who

deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him, and the

poor and needy from his spoiler. The futures are not to be taken

optat. as Luther: "My soul might rejoice," etc. Neither do


                          PSALM XXXV. VER. 10-13.                        5


they contain the expression of the Psalmist's hope; but he seeks

to make the Lord inclined to grant the desired help, by declar-

ing that it would not be lavished on an ungrateful person, and

that, like seed, the help afforded would yield a rich harvest of

praise and thanksgivings. The bones mark the innermost nature.

            The second strophe follows with preponderating lamentation.

The design of the representation given of the malice of the

enemies in ver. 11-16, discovers itself in the words in ver 17,

"Lord, how long wilt thou look on, rescue my soul from their

destructions, mine only one from the lions," for which a prepa-

ration and a motive were provided by the representation. After

the prayer there follows again, in ver. 18, the promise of a thanks-

giving, implying that the granting of what he sought would tend

to the glorification of the name of God.

            Ver. 11. Malicious witnesses rise up, what I know not of, that

do they inquire of me, they wish me to express an acknowledg-

ment of misdeeds of which I have been quite innocent. The

verse is neither to be explained historically, nor to be taken

figuratively, but contains an individualizing trait, such as very

frequently occurs in the Psalms, which were sung of the person

of the righteous. Ver. 12. They rewarded me evil for good,

bereavement of my soul. We are not to render: Bereavement is

to my soul; but the lvkw is the accus. governed by: they re-

warded. For according to the connection, the bereavement of

the Psalmist comes here into consideration, only in so far as it

was caused by his enemies. In the following verse, which is

merely an expansion of this, he brings out the fact, that he had

manifested as tender a love to those who were now his enemies,

as is wont to be shewn to none but the nearest relatives. In

testimony of their gratitude and praise for this, they transplant

him into a condition, as if he were entirely alone upon the wide

world. They themselves attack him with wild hatred, comp.

ver. 15, 16, and deprive him also of the fellowship of all others.

Ver. 13. And I, when they were sick, put on sackcloth, hurt my-

self with fasting, and my prayer returned back to my own bosom.

The sickness here is not figurative, but an individualizing mark

of the suffering. One must, in severe sufferings, discerning

therein the righteous punishment of sin, find matter for re-

pentance, and practise fasting as an exercise of repentance.

(The form of expression vwpn hnf, to chastise his soul, to cru-

cify his flesh, comp. the profound explanation in. Isa. lviii, is


6                   THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


taken from the law, in which Mvc, indicating the form, is still

not found.) Whoever acts thus at the sufferings of others, gives

thereby a proof of the most tender fellowship and love, which

destroys in a manner the distinction between I and thou, regards

the suffering and the guilt of another as its own. Here also we

are not to think of a figurative, but only an individualizing re-

presentation. The most tender fellowship has also, in certain

circumstances, been realized under this form. The last words

receive explanation from what is said in 1 Kings xviii. 42, upon

the posture of Elias in prayer. He, who prays with his head

bent down, appears to bring the prayer back, as it were, to the

bosom from which it proceeded. Clauss: "We must think espe-

cially of the sitting or standing posture of mourners overwhelmed

with great affliction; this is the natural bodily expression of a

depressed state, afflictive both in itself and from its attendant

pain." We reject the exposition of Luther and others: I prayed

from the heart continually, prop. my prayer returned out of (?)

my bosom; and also that of many Jews, revived by Sachs: My

prayer might (?) turn into my bosom, receive its fulfilment in

myself, so full of love was it. Ver. 14. As if he were a friend,

as if he were a brother, I went along; as one who mourns for

his mother, was I in dirtiness bowed down. The words: as a

friend, as a brother to me, for: as I would have done to a friend,

nay to a brother, is to be explained from the circumstance, that

the comparison is often barely indicated. We are not to think

in such cases of supplying something grammatically. The ex-

pression: I went about, refers, as the context shews, to the

outward appearance.  lb,xE is stat. constr. of adj. lbexA, mourn-

ing. rdq, to be dirty, which is arbitrarily limited by many to

the clothing, refers to the whole appearance, to the countenance

also unwashed, and covered with ashes, and indicates, so far as

it points to the dress, not black clothing, but dirty, (from the

sitting in dust and ashes.)  hHw, to bow down, is not to be

understood tropically, but according to the context, which

speaks throughout of the external symptoms of pain, of the

bodily stooping of mourners. In the whole verse we must keep

in our eye the symbolical spirit of the East, especially of ancient

times; when the feelings so readily draw after them their out-

ward indication, the mourner sits in sackcloth and ashes, while

he, who receives a joyful message, puts on fine clothing and

anoints himself. On account of this common imitation of the


                           PSALM XXXV. VER. 15.                          7


internal by the external, the latter only is very often expressed

in poetry, where, in point of fact, the internal is meant. This,

and not the other, is the more to be regarded here, as it is not

a historical, but an ideal person that speaks; as is implied also

in the matter of this and the preceding verse. If referred to a

historical person, the representation has the character of some-

strained and unnatural.

            Ver. 15. And now at my trouble they rejoice, and gather

themselves, gather themselves against me the abjects, whom I know

not, they tear and are not silent. The ver. forms the expansion

of the "bereavement of my soul," in ver. 12. The Psalmist had

shown to his enemies in their misfortune the most affectionate

sympathy; their pain was his pain. But now, in his misfortune,

his pain is their joy; they hasten in dense crowds to insult him,

and throw him still deeper into misery, and this is the more

sensibly felt by him, as in the company that thus assembled

against him, there were found some of the most despicable of

men. yflcb, prop. in my halting. The halting, as a state of

bodily restraint and weakness, stands here for a mark of wretch-

edness, as in Ps. xxxviii. 17. Mykn is the plural of hk,ne smit-

ten, synonymous with hk;nA, both alike from hkn, to be smitten.

The smitten are men of the lowest grade, the poorest. This

also discovers itself in the very next note: and I knew not,

for whom I knew not, who from their peculiarly low condition,

were shut out from the circle of my acquaintance. No one

could have deviated from the correct exposition, if he had only

attended to the remarkably exact parallel passage in Job xxx.

1, ss. Job there complains, that he had become the object of

attacks and insults from those, whose fathers he would have

disdained to set beside the dogs of his flock, who in their

want and wretchedness sought such miserable support as

the wilderness could afford them, who were the very quint-

essence of what was low and common. To the Mykn here,

corresponds there Crxh Nm vxkn, they are beaten out of the

land, in ver. 8. The current exposition: beating with the

tongue, i. e. calumniating, comp. Jer. xviii. 18, is untenable,

because against the signification of the root, (hkn first ob-

tains in Hiph. an active signification,) and against the signi-

fication of the analogous formations, it takes the word in an

active sense, and because it does not comport with the other


8                     THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


part of the description: whom I knew not. The latter ground

also holds against Hitzig's exposition: fools, derived from j`n  

not occurring in Hebrew; which besides destroys the manifestly

existing connection with the forms hkenA, and xkenA. We pass

over other still more arbitrary expositions, as that of Luther: the

halting plot against me without my fault. It may still be asked

whether the beaten, those beaten with strokes, are the same

who had been discoursed of in ver. 13 and 14; or more correct-

ly, whether they belong to their number; or whether the Psal-

mist here, as Calvin supposes, joins to his earlier acquaintances,

who recompensed him evil for good, the multitude of those

who, at an earlier period, were quite unknown to him, glad at

having an opportunity to vent their malice on him. The first

supposition is the correct one. For the latter would not come

within the aim of the Psalmist, who gives here a farther exten-

sion of the declaration: they recompensed me evil for good, on

which he had grounded his prayer to the Lord for the punish-

ment of his enemies. On the other hand, the words: whom I

knew not, are not to be regarded as contradictory. For this

is only a mark of the poorest condition, which would natu-

rally have excluded these men from the Psalmist's circle, had

not love and compassion impelled him to let himself down to

them, and to act towards them a friendly and brotherly part.—

fvq, to tear, most expositors, without foundation, take in the

sense of reviling. The image is taken from a garment, from

which any one seeks to tear away a fragment. By their not

being silent, is meant their constantly raving against him with

words and deeds.

            Ver. 16. The vile, who mock for a cake, gnash against me

with the teeth. The expression, which in both members con-

tains a separate clause, is very concise, the affection, which here

is indignation, loving brevity. In the first member the verb is

wanting, they act, or they conduct themselves; in the second

member, the infin. absol. stands for the 3d pl. In the first

member the Psalmist, in order to bring out more pointedly the

worthlessness of his enemies, describes them as persons who

only aimed, through their bitter hostilities, to ingratiate them-

selves with a great personage, the centre of the whole opposi-

tion, in order to obtain from him the means of allaying their

hunger, of prolonging their miserable existence. With such

creatures, David may have had enough to do in the time


                     PSALM XXXV. VER. 16-28.                            9


of the Sauline persecution. ypnHb, prop. in the vile, for as

the vile, comp. Ew. Small Gr. § 521. Vile persons of the

mockeries of the cake, are vile persons, to whom the mock-

eries of the cake belong. gfl is subst. mockery. An adj. gfelA,

which most expositors suppose here, has no existence, not even

in Isa. xxviii. 11. Mockeries of the cake are mockeries, which

are so far connected with it that they are thrown out for its

sake, in order to obtain it. The enemies appear, in perfect ac-

cordance with the description in the preceding verse, and that

in Job xxx., as mean and base men, who sell their tongues to

railleries for a piece of bread. Of "guests," and "parasites,"

and "roast-smell-flatterers," there is no mention.  gvfm is not

cake, as a sort of dainty bit, but the common cake of the ashes,

which in the East stands in the room of bread. Neither are we

to think of witty speeches which were uttered at the table, but

of bitter mocking, which men indulge toward the object of their

master's hatred, like hounds set on by him. This is clear, partly

from the word itself, and partly from the parallel: They gnash,

&c. The gnashing of the teeth, for which expositors, who mis-

take the sense, substitute "showing of the teeth," is always an

expression of indignation, which the persons here referred to

employ with all vehemence, in order to render themselves much

endeared to their master. vmynw, as to their teeth, or with the

same. Comp. on Psal. 4.—Ver. 17. Lord how long wilt

thou look on? rescue my soul from their desolations, from the

young lions my only one. bywh stands in its common meaning.

The soul is in a mournful, dangerous place, surrounded by their

devastations and by lions. The Lord must bring it away from

thence. The a[p. leg. xOw, desolations. For my only one, see

on Ps. xxii. 20.—Ver. 18. So will I praise thee in the great

congregation, and among much people will extoll thee. Comp.

on ver. 9 and 10, and on Ps. xxii. 22, 25.

            We come now to the third strophe, ver. 19-28, chiefly made

up of prayer, which has been solidly founded by the representa-

tion given in the second strophe of the Psalmist's relations. Ver.

19. Let not them that are my enemies falsely rejoice over me, nor

wink with the eye, who hate me without a cause. Enemies with

falsehood or lies, are such as forge lying accusations against the

object of their malice, with the view of giving a fair colour to it.

Nyf Crq prop. to press the eye together, here of the winking to


10                         THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


one another with the eye, by which the enemies, who were sworn

for the Psalmist's destruction, gave each other joy concerning it.

This they do even now, because they reckoned themselves quite

sure of their object, comp. ver. 21, but God might embitter their

joy to them.—Ver. 20. For they speak not peace, and against

the quiet in the land they devise words of deceit. The expression:

they speak not peace, for: they abolish it, is used by way of con-

trast to what they ought to do, and points to the relations of

Saul's time. Saul's distrust receives continually fresh nourish-

ment from such tale-bearers. fgr quiet, peaceful.—Ver. 21. And

they open their mouth wide against me, and say, there, there, our

eye sees, namely, the wish of our soul, the misfortune of the

righteous. Ver. 22. Yea, thou seest, Lord; keep not silence, Lord

be not far from me. Ver. 20, 21, gave the reason for ver. 19. Let

them not rejoice, for they, the wicked, deserve not thy help; but

thy might, and their triumphing over the success of their plans,

is for thee a call to interfere. And here a new prayer arises out

of the reason given for the preceding prayer. The Psalmist

places the seeing of God over against the malicious seeing of the

enemy. Ver. 23. Stir up thyself and awake to my judgment, my

God and Lord, to my cause. Ver. 24. Judge me according to thy

righteousness, 0 Lord, my God, and let them not rejoice over

me. Ver. 25. Let them not say in their hearts: there, there, so

would we have it! Let them not say: We have swallowed him

up. vnwpn prop. our soul, for, our wish, because their soul

went entirely out into the wish. Ver. 26. Let them be ashamed

and blush together, who rejoice at my hurt; let them be clothed

with shame and dishonour, who magnify themselves against me.

Ver. 27. Let them make jubilee and rejoice who wish my justi-

fication, and say continually: Great is the Lord who wills the

peace of his servant. Make jubilee, the Lord will give them oc-

casion for it. qdc, in opposition to hfr, misfortune, in ver.

26, and parallel to the peace, marks not the righteous cause, but

righteousness as the gift of God; q. d. they wish, that I may

be actually justified by God. Ver. 28. So will my tongue speak

of thy righteousness, proclaim continually thy praise. The ex-

pression: thy righteousness, has respect to: my righteousness,

in ver. 27. God's righteousness and the Psalmist's justification

stand in the closest connection with each other.


                                  PSALM XXXVI.                             11


                                  PSALM XXXVI.


            IN the conflict, which is so apt to arise against the people of

God from the depth and magnitude of human corruption, the

Psalmist addresses himself, "Be thou at peace, and rest in the

God of thy life." After a superscription, which indicates, that

he speaks not from himself and for himself, but in the name and

service of God, and consequently for the church, he first de-

scribes in ver. 1-4, the conflict, as one that seems to prepare

hopeless destruction for the righteous, and fills him with painful

solicitude. He paints in strong features the intensity of human

corruption. The heart of the wicked is free from all fear of

God, and every thought of the avenging righteousness of God

is choked. Hence, the words of his mouth are wickedness and

deceit, and in his actions he gives scope to himself in every

thing: nothing is too bad for him. This representation of the

necessity and the danger is followed in ver. 5-9, by a repre-

sentation of the consolation. God with his inexhaustible fulness

of love, faithfulness, and righteousness, appears in opposition to

man and his wickedness. This line of reflection is followed in

ver. 10-12, by the prayer and the expression of confidence in

its fulfilment: God's love and righteousness can and will unfold

themselves in his dealings towards his own, in the support he

administers to them, and the overthrow he brings upon the


            If we draw the superscription into the compass of the Psalm,

which we are here peculiarly warranted to do, the meditation

will complete itself in the number ten, which again falls into

two fives. The prayer and confidence rising on the ground of

the Mosaic blessing, is ruled by the number three.

            The Psalm is as to its subject nearly allied to Ps. xi. and xiv.

with whose introduction that of this holds a close resemblance

even in expression. Of any particular occasion we are not to

think. The Psalmist speaks for the fearers of God, and in their

name. Already does Luther remark in his summaries: this is a

didactic Psalm.

            In the superscription: To the chief musician, of time servant

of the Lord, David, the designation of "servant of the Lord"

is the more deserving of notice, as it occurs only once in the

superscriptions besides, in Ps. xviii. where it bears a manifest


12                    THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


reference to the subject, and as it stands in unquestionable con-

nection with the beginning of the Psalm. Like the correspond-

ing words in 2 Sam. xxiii. "The man who was raised up on

high, the anointed of the God of Jacob," it points to the dignity

of the person in so far as in that was given a security for the im-

portance of the word: the servant of the Lord speaks not his

own word, but God's, not of his own will, but as moved by the

Holy Spirit, 2 Pet. i. 21. “The spirit of the Lord spake through

him, and his word was upon his tongue,” 2 Sam. xxiii. 2. The

suggestion of impiety in the wicked, that God is nothing upon

earth, is met by the suggestion of God in his servant, that God

is every thing upon earth.

            Ver. 1. "The oracle of transgression to me, the wicked within

my heart;" there is no fear of God before his eyes. In the first

member the Psalmist introduces the wicked as speaking. He

would express the thought, that the wicked listens to the sug-

gestions of sin as words of God. This thought he clothes in such

a manner, that, by an ironical imitation of the introductory words

in the writings of the prophets, in particular Balaam's in Numb.

xxiv. 3, to which he also referred in 2 Sam. xxiii. 1, he makes

the ungodly bring in a decree of his God, of wickedness. There

should properly have followed the divine sentence, according to

Ps. xiv. 1; "There is no God;" or Ps. x. 11. "God hath for-

gotten, he hideth his face, he will never see." But here the

Psalmist leaves the reader to supply the substance of the speech

from the second member; he seeks only to have it first distinctly

impressed, that the wicked regards as oracles the suggestions of

sin, what it dictates in regard to religion. Mxn signifies, not a

word in general, but a divine word, an oracle. fwp occupies

here the place of Jehovah. The expression: to the wicked, cor-

responds to: of the servant of God, as the Psalmist had just de-

signated himself; or to: the hearer of the divine word, etc. in

Balaam. Here, as the prophets in their introductions, as Balaam

and as David both here and in 2 Sam. xviii. 1, the wicked speaks

of himself in the third person; while presently the Psalmist

speaks in the first: in the middle of my heart, as also Balaam,

and David in 2 Sam. xviii. But there is no difficulty in this;

for: to the wicked, is in substance the same as: to me, the

wicked. By this remark the quite erroneous reference of the

expression: within my heart, to the Psalmist, is set aside;

against which also the parallel passage in Ps. xiv. 1.  "The fool


                          PSALM XXXV.  VER. I                           13


hath said in his heart, there is no God," and the similar expres-

sions in Ps. x. 6, 11, are decisive. We thus also cut off all temp-

tation to read vbl his heart, instead of ybl, by which, indeed,

nothing is gained; for there should then be no indication of the

wicked being introduced here as speaking, which is still plainly

needed. After the example of Luther, who renders: it is spoken

from the bottom of my heart of the ungodly, the meaning of

this first member is entirely misapprehended by many exposi-

tors, for ex. by De Wette: A speech of the wickedness of

transgression is to me in the heart. This exposition discovers

itself to be false, in whatever direction we look. Its condem-

nation is already pronounced in De Wette's own remark:  "The

first half of the verse is a kind of announcement, though only

of a part of the subject, and by a deficiency in the parallelism

the second half passes on immediately to the subject." The

real subject of the Psalm is not, "the wickedness of transgres-

sion," but, "If God is thy friend and thy cause, what can

thine enemy, man, do of any consequence?" It is precisely in

the first part, in which the Psalmist merely represents, what

passes before his eyes, and what might easily be discerned with-

out any divine revelation, that the Mxn is not suitable. The

parallelism is by this exposition completely destroyed, and the

expression: there is no fear of God before his eyes, has a bald

appearance, considered as a commencement, and sounds feeble.

Further, this exposition takes fwp as the object of the speech:

Speech of transgression. But the genitive, which follows the

very frequently occurring Mxn without exception marks always

the speaker, and, indeed, for the most part, the heavenly author

of the declaration, the human only in Numb. xxiv. 3, Prov. xxx.

1, and 2 Sam. xxiii. 1, which bears respect to this. This reason

of itself is perfectly decisive. In Isa. v. 1, also, in the phrase

ydvd tryw, to which De Wette refers as analogous, the geni-

tive is that of the author; not concerning my beloved, but of

my beloved; the song, which is consecrated to the beloved,

which is sung to his honour, which has himself, speaking through

the mouth of his prophet, for its author. Then, the exposition

ungrammatically takes fwrl as a circumlocution for the geni-

tive, which can only be put in this way, when the scat. constr.

is inadmissible, as it would be here, if the meaning were: a

transgression of the wicked, but which would not be suitable,

comp. Ew. Small Gr. § 517. The expression: in the midst of


14                   THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


my heart, which is full of meaning in our exposition: in the in-

most depth of the wicked, utters forth transgression its oracle,

becomes by this exposition quite flat and insignificant, and is

never found in such a connection. It is torn away from the

already quoted parallel pass. Ps. xiv. 1, etc., which so ob-

viously correspond, also torn from the eyes here, in ver. 1 and 2,

and from the mouth in ver. 3. Finally, this exposition leaves en-

tirely out of view the manifest reference to the superscription of

the prophecies, and the parallel passage 2 Sam. xxiii. 1, as also

the reference to the superscription here. The oracle of sin to the

wicked stands opposed to the oracle of Jehovah to the servant

of Jehovah, David, as it is communicated in this Psalm. It is

hoped this lengthened statement of objections against the cur-

rent exposition may serve the purpose of entirely setting it

aside, the more so, as the faults hitherto cleaving to the others

are removed by our construction. Whenever we perceive the

ground-thought of the first member, and separate that from the

clothing under which it is presented, there is seen to be a per-

fect parallel between the first and the second; the heart of the

wicked is full of the God-denying suggestions of sin, before his

eyes is no fear of God, q. d. the fear of God is not that, on

which he directs his eye in his transactions, or by which he is

moved in them, comp. Ps. xxvi. 3.

            Ver. 2. For he flatters himself in his eyes in reference to the

finding of his sin, the hating. The ground is here given, on

account of which the fear of God exercises no determinate in-

fluence upon the actions of the wicked. He seeks through all

sorts of illusions to stifle the conviction, that God's avenging

righteousness will punish his impiety. qylHh, prop. to make

smooth, elsewhere with the accus.: his tongue, or his words, to

flatter, comp. on Ps. v. 9; here, as in Prov. xxix. 5, in the sense

of acting smoothly, blanditlis uti , with lx of the person against

whom the smooth acting is directed, who is flattered, as in the

passage referred to in Prov., where the injurious, destructive

nature of the action was to be marked, with lf. The self-

flatteries, in which the wicked indulges, cannot have respect

properly to his moral condition; for, as Sacks justly remarks,

though with a wrong application, "it is not the wicked as he false-

ly represents himself, the would-be-holy, that is here designated,

but the plainly unrighteous." They have respect rather to his

might and prudence, to his skill in sinning, by virtue of which


                        PSALM XXXVI. VER. 2.                                15


he succeeds in every effort, and believes himself to be beyond

the vengeance of an angry God. He says with the ungodly in

Isaiah, chap. xxviii. 15, "We have made a covenant with death,

and with hell are we at agreement, when the overflowing scourge

shall pass through, it shall not come unto us; for we have made

lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves."

The expression: in his eyes, refers to the other: before his eyes.

Because he flatters himself in his eyes, through the arts of flattery

and self-delusion builds himself up in a feeling of security, there

is no fear of God before his eyes. The last words point to the

territory, upon which the self-delusion and flattery are practised,

to that in regard to which they are employed. In reference to

the finding of his sin, the hating, means as much as, that God

will not find his sins hateful, will not punish them. The form

of expression Nvf xcm is to be explained from Gen. xliv. 16,

when the sons of Jacob, after the cup was found in the mouth

of Benjamin's sack, say, "God hath found out the iniquity of

thy servants." According to this God finds out iniquity, when

he visits and punishes it. The hating is here added to mark

more definitely the quality of the finding, and so, to remove all

dubiety. The correct view would not have been so often missed

in expositions of this verse, if more regard had been paid to the

ground-passage, Deut. xxix. 19, where it is said of the wicked,

"And it cometh to pass, when he heareth the words of this

curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace,

though I walk in the imagination of my heart;" and also the

parallel passages in the Psalms themselves, such as Ps. x. 6.

Among those who concur with us in the reference of vylx to the

evil-doer, several expound: in order to accomplish his sin, in order

to hate, "in order through his transgression to gratify his hatred

toward God, or man." So Luther: "that they may further

their evil cause, and slander others." But Nvf xcm never oc-

curs so; with the hating we miss the object, and to hate cannot

stand for, gratifying hatred. Others expound: in consideration

of the finding of his guilt, and the hating, q. d. he is so entangled

in self-deceit, that he has not attained to the recognition of his

sinfulness, and, therefore, he cannot hate and renounce it. But

it is against this, that Nvf xcm never signifies: to come to the

knowledge of sin; and still more, that through this exposition

the whole character of the wicked, as he is represented in this

Psalm, is violated: We have here to do with a bold sinner, who


16                      THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


is not concerned about finding fig leaves for his sins. Most refer

the suff. in vylx to God: Koester: "for he flatters him with

his eyes, hence he discovers his guilt, hates it;" Tholuck: "for

they flatter God according to their opinion, in order to commit

the more securely their evil deeds, and to give loose the reins

to their hatred." But the character of the wicked is still by

this construction grossly misconceived; with the words: in his

eyes, we are by it manifestly embarrassed; Tholuck's mode of

viewing the last word has already been disposed of, and that of

Koester steps over into the second strophe from the first, and

slaps the temptation upon the mouth before it has been put in

words. In such a case we must cry out with Job, violence!

            Ver. 3. The words of his mouth are wickedness and deceit, he

ceases to act wisely, to do good. The ceasing is to be explained

from a silent contrast: instead of ceasing, as be ought, to sin,

comp. frh vldH in Isa. i. 16. lykWh signifies to act pru-

dently, reasonably, comp. on Ps. xiv. 2, and byFyhl is not sub-

ordinate to it, but co-ordinate, just as in ver. 2, the second inf.

with the first l.

            Ver. 4. He thinks of mischief upon his bed, he sets himself in

a way not good, he does not eschew evil. The phrase: on his

bed, points to the strength of the evil inclination. The passion

so rages in him, that it deprives him of sleep. How may it

overreach hapless innocence? The apparently weak expres-

sion: a way not good, and: he does not eschew evil, derives its

strength from its silent contrast to that, which the ungodly is

wont to do according to the law of God.

            The Psalmist now turns himself to inquire in reference to

the wicked, and what the righteous has to fear from him, upon

what must I hope? And in direct contrast to the former,

brings forward the Lord, and what the righteous has to expect

from him. Calvin: "although a gloomy and frightful confusion

shelved itself, which, like a vast abyss, was ready to swallow up

the pious, David was still firmly convinced that the world is

full of God's goodness and righteousness, and that heaven and

earth are governed by him."

            Ver. 5. Lord, in the heaven is thy goodness, thy faithfulness

even to the clouds. Mymwhb can only signify: in the heaven;

and the current exposition up to the heaven, is to be rejected as

arbitrary. But the expression: in the heaven, which imports:


                           PSALM XXXVI. VER. 5, 6.                         17


even still in heaven, comprehends and pre-supposes what is in

the other, compare Ps. lvii. 10, "For thy mercy is great unto

the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds." In the whole re-

presentation, the pillar of fire and smoke, emblem of the divine

glory, rises from earth to heaven, so that the expression: in

heaven, is only suitable when it comprehends: to the heaven.

Quite naturally. For the Psalmist places the image of consola-

tion against the image of terror on its own territory. Upon the

earth rages the malice of the ungodly, the righteous are vexed;

in opposition to the loftiness which strives in vain to reach

to heaven, (compare Gen. xi. 4, "whose top may be in hea-

ven," and Ps. lxxiii. 9, "They set their mouth in heaven,") the

Psalmist puts the divine glory, which, giant-like, truly reaches

from earth to heaven, so that man hopeless must yield to the

might of God. The love and the faithfulness of God are spe-

cially named, as the properties which secure help to his people.

Their greatness is regarded by the Psalmist as an impenetrable

shield against all attacks even from the most intense and power-

ful malice. Jo. Arnd: "In all tribulations, let them be ever so

high, so deep, so broad and long, God's truth and grace are

still greater and higher."

            Ver. 6. Thy righteousness is like mountains of God, thy judg-

ments are a great flood, man and beast thou helpest, 0 Lord.

With the love and faithfulness he here connects the righteous-

ness of God. This comes here, as appears from the parallelism,

not so far merely into consideration, as it involves the faithful-

ness of the promise, so that hqdc would be substantially=

hnvmx, but as the property which disposes God to recompense

to every one according to his works, to give salvation to the

righteous, to suspend misery over the wicked. If God is infi-

nitely righteous, the upright may be of good courage, but the

wicked should tremble, and the greater their wickedness, the

more certain is their destruction. The most part regard the

divine righteousness as compared to the mountains, on account

of their firmness. So Luther: it stands as the mountains of God.

Jo. Arnd: "It stands firm as the mountains of God, i.e. immove-

able, strong, invincible, as the Lord God has made the world

fast with mountains, so that no potentate has power to lift up

the mighty mountains, and put others in their place. Even so,

it is not possible to overthrow God's righteousness, it will as-

suredly exercise itself upon all men, when God judges the earth


18                       THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


in righteousness." But, looking at the parallel members, we

would rather take the point of comparison to be their greatness

and height. The mountains of God are certainly the highest

mountains, not such, however, simply and exclusively, but in so

far as they proclaim God's creative power. Although the whole of

nature has been made by God yet that is pre-eminently attributed

to him, which, elevated by its greatness and glory above all that

resembles it, directs the thoughts especially to his glory. So

in Ps. lxxx. 10, the cedars, as kings among the trees, are called

cedars of God, (Gen. xiii. 10 does not belong to this; for the

discourse there is not of a garden of God, but of the garden of

Jehovah, the paradise Which had been planted by the Lord, and

according to chap. ii. 10, richly watered.) Here, “as the moun-

tains of God," is plainly spoken with special emphasis: the object

compared contains at the same time a pledge of the truth

of what is likened to it. Of the righteousness of him who made

the highest mountains, we must entertain no earthly and human

thoughts. They would rise as witnesses against us, if we did so.

Judgments, the rectoral transactions, by which God brings to

nought the evil and assists the good, are the offspring of the divine 

righteousness. Jo. Arnd: "Such judgments of God are always.

being exercised upon the earth, if the matter is thoughtfully

considered." According to most expositors, it is the incompre-

hensible and unfathomable nature of the divine judgments

which is indicated. But the words cannot bear this sense. For

Mvht never signifies abyss, deep, but always flood, and the con-

text imperatively requires the idea of immeasureableness.

Against the flood of human wickedness stands the great flood,

the wide ocean, (of this Hbr Mvht is used in Gen. vii. 11, the

only other place where it occurs,) of the divine judgments. In

the last words: man and beast thou deliverest, 0 Lord, the

Psalmist turns back to the divine love, with the representation

of which he began, and the celebration of which he continues

till ver. 9. On the "man" an unseasonable comparison is often

made with Matth. v. 45, and the remark made, "righteous and

unrighteous." The contrasthere is the general one of man and

beast; but if the Psalmist had wished to give a closer description

of the men who enjoy the divine help and deliverance, he would

have, according to ver. 10, named them as the upright, and such

as know God. God's goodness towards the bad, which should

move them to repentance, is excluded by the connection. It is

such goodness only as might afford consolation in consequence


                        PSALM XXXVI. VER. 6-8.                             19


of the troubles arising out of the ascendancy of the wicked upon

the earth. With what design the beast is here named may

be understood from the saying of our Lord, "Are not two

sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on

the ground without your Father." Jo. Arnd: God seeks to

console us by this, and to strengthen our faith, seeing he much

more cares for us." The somewhat singular expression: Thou

deliverest, makes it probable that the Psalmist alludes to the

great proof of God's preserving love in the deluge, in which,

besides Noah, the whole animal creation was delivered, an al-

lusion which is the more probable, as in Ps. xxix. 10; xxxii. 6,

there is also reference made to the deluge, as hbr Mvht points

to that transaction, in which the judgments of God appeared as

literally a great flood, and as another reference is found to

Genesis in verse 8.

            Ver. 7. How glorious is thy goodness, 0 God, and children

of men trust in the shadow of thy wings.  rqy prop. precious.

John Arnd:  "David rejoices in the goodness and grace of God,

and compares them to a noble, precious, and costly treasure."

The general name of God stands here, because it is the contrast

between God and man that is expressed. God and man, what

a distance!  How great and glorious must the divine love be;

which fills up the infinite gulph between the two, and provides

that the weak and wretched mortal be the object of God's protec-

tion and tender care! comp. Ps. viii. The confiding trust comes

here into consideration in so far as God affords ground and war-

rant for it. That the children of men can confide in God, must

only be brought out in a general way. The species in the genus,

who are not more definitely pointed out here, are the righ-

teous.  hsH with b always signifies: to trust in, to take refuge

under. Because the shadow yields defence from the heat, it not

unfrequently stands as a figurative description of protection.

The image of wings, only indicated here, is given at length in

Deut. xxxii. 11, and Matt. xxiii. 37.

            Ver. 8. They drink of the fatness of thy house, and with the

river of thy pleasures thou givest them drink. It is here still

farther brought out, what the divine goodness provides for the

servants of God, notwithstanding all the machinations of the

wicked. The riches of the divine grace and beneficence are re-

presented in both members under the image of a copious drink,

with which it supplies them. For that this grace is not repre-


20               THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


sented in the first member, somewhat under the image of food,

with which he satisfies them, is manifest from Hvr, prop. are

moistened, comp. Ps. xxiii. 5. The fat must accordingly be

taken as a figurative designation of the glorious gifts of God;

Vulgate: ab ubertate domus tuae, Luther, "of the rich goods

of thy house," far more correctly than our recent expositors,

who quite prosaically remark, that the fat is here spoken of as

fit for drinking, rather than eating. The house of God is here

neither, as several absurdly expound, the world, which is never

so named, nor is it, as others suppose, a mere image of a divine

storehouse, but it is here, as everywhere else, the national.

sanctuary, the tabernacle of the congregation, in which the ser-

vants of the Lord spiritually dwell with him, and where they

are tenderly cared for by him as the good householder. Comp.

on Ps. xv. 1; xxiii. 6; xxiv. 3; xxvii. 4, 5; lxv. 4. Michaelis,

correctly as to the sense: ecclesiae tuae. For the house of God

was the image of the church. In the second member there

seems to be a reference to Gen. ii. 10, "And a river went out

from Eden (delight) to water the garden," which is also alluded

to in John iv. 18; Ez. xlvii.; Zech. xiv. 8--passages in which the

thought, the whole earth shall partake of the blessings of the

kingdom of God, is represented under the image of a stream,

which, issuing from Jerusalem, refreshes the dry and barren

region around. Comp. Christol. P. II. p. 367. In the stream,

which of old watered the garden of Eden for the good of man,

the Psalmist saw the, type of that stream of bliss, with which

God's love never ceases to refresh his people.

            Ver. 9. For with thee is the fountain of life, in thy light we

see light. The verse confirms the subject of the preceding one,

and traces it up to its source. God is the fountain of life: in

him has essential life, and whatever properly deserves this name,

(comp. on the MyyH on Ps. xvi. 11,) its origin, as already in

lieut. xxx. 20, it was said of God to Israel, "He is thy life:"

whosoever does not draw it from him, the one source of life, he

is destitute of it, notwithstanding all the means which he may

possess for his preservation and support; on the other hand,

whoever has this fountain at command, the malice of the whole

world cannot take life away from him; he will be kept in life,

and will drink with satisfaction in the presence of his enemies,

Ps. xxiii. 5. Light is here as commonly (comp. on Ps. xxvii.

1,) a figurative designation of salvation; the expression, "in


                       PSALM XXXVI. VER. 9-11.                          21


thy light we see light," simply means: through thy salvation we

see salvation. Since salvation is only from God, the world can

never bestow it by any means which it has at command; neither

can it take this away, and in the face even of the greatest evils

the righteous can say: If God is for me, it matters not who are

against me. Although the words are verified also upon the

spiritual territory, we must primarily, as in Job xxix. 3, think of

an external salvation. This appears from the context, according

to which, the discourse can only be of such things as were feared

in consequence of human malice, also from the parallelism with

the life, and the comp. with ver. 11. Those, who by the light

understand the light of knowledge, violently detach the words

from the connection, and destroy the structure of the Psalm.

            The Psalmist has hitherto considered in a general way, human

malice, and what the righteous have in their God. Now he

comes more closely to the distress and assault, which this gene-

ral consideration had occasioned. He brings the two sides of

the contrast, which till now he had simply placed over against

one another, into immediate contact and conflict with each

other, entreats God that he would unfold his love and righteous-

ness in his dealings with his own, and especially with him, and

would deliver him from the wicked. At the close, he sees, in  

spirit, this prayer fulfilled, the wicked annihilated.

            Ver. 10. Continue thy goodness to those who know thee, and

thy righteousness to the upright.  j`wm, to draw, to draw into

length, to prolong. The knowledge of God has love to him, and

life in him for its foundation. The true and essential know-

ledge of God is to be found only in a sanctified state of mind,

the gift of God. Comp. 1 Sam. ii. 12; Jer. xxii. 16; Tit. i. 16;

1 John ii. 3; iv. 8. The righteousness of God here also stands

in no special reference to covenant faithfulness, but is to be

understood as exercised in so far as he gives to any one what is

his, comp. on ver. 5. On the upright see on Ps. xxxiii. 1.

            Ver. 11. Let not the foot of pride touch me, and the hand of

the wicked pursue me not. The foot coming upon any one, for:

he will be trodden down, violently overborne and oppressed.

The proud appear as personified pride. That we must not to

the words: the hand of the wicked makes me not flee, supply:

out of my land—that it is rather to be regarded as meaning:

let me not quit the field before him, be obliged to retire into

the distance, as David had to do in the times of Saul and Ab-


22                          THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


salon), (comp, Ps. xi, 1,) is manifest from the parallelism and the

contrast in ver. 12. The Psalmist sees there the enemies lying

helpless, and prostrate, on the very spot where they had thought

to vanquish him, and put him to flight.

            Ver. 12. There are the workers of iniquity fallen they are cast

down and are not able to arise. The Psalmist obtains from the

Lord all answer, and in spirit sees his enemies already over-

thrown.  Mw always means there; never then, comp. on Ps. xiv.

5. The right view was already perceived by Calvin: "While

the ungodly are puffed up by their prosperity, the world applauds

them. But David, looking as from the lofty watch-tower of faith,

descries from afar their destruction, and speaks of it with as

much confidence as if it were close at hand." For the last

words see on Ps. xviii. 88, and Prov. xxiv, 10, "A just Man

falleth seven times, and riseth up again, but the wicked are

destroyed by adversity."


                                PSALM. XXXVII.


            THE subject of the Psalm is collected in the two first verses:

"Be not angry against the miscreants, envy not the evil-doers,

for as grass they shall quickly be cut down, and as the green

herb they wither." He meets the temptation to help himself,

to oppose power to power, to contend against wickedness with

wickedness, which often presents itself to the righteous when he

sees the ungodly prospering, while he himself is in a state of

depression; and, indeed, in such a way, as to shew, under the

different turns and images, how the issue becomes sorted to the

righteous and the wicked, how God in his own time assuredly

recompenses to every one according to his works, to the wicked

destruction, to the righteous salvation: so that the only, and at

the same time, the sure means for tile righteous to attain to sal-

vation is, that he trust in the Lord and cease not to do good.

            That we must not labour to hind out a connected plan for the

Psalm, that the judgment of Awyrald is substantially correct:

"There is scarcely an order observed in it by David, no connec-

tion of parts, excepting that one and the same subject is handled

in it under the most diversified applications and manifold varia-

tions, which all lead to nearly one point, although every one of


                                PSALM XXXVII.                              23


them possesses its own proper force, so that they are not other-

wise connected together than as so many precious stones or

pearls are strung together upon one thread to form a necklace,"

—this may be concluded even from the alphabetical arrangement

—comp. the remarks in the introduction to Ps. xxv. The unre-

strained treatment of the subject leads also to the same result,

justifying throughout the remark of the Berleb. Bible, "that

things are therein once and again repeated and frequently in-

culcated, so that the great subject might not be forgotten, and

the pious might retain it always in their mouth and heart."

Finally, this view is also confirmed by the fact, that the Proverbs

hardly present to any Psalm so many verbal references and re-

semblances in sound, as to this, which is to be explained only

from an internal relationship with the sententious poetry of

Solomon, the Davidic root and origin of which here stands be-

fore our eyes.—The delineation is very clear, simple, and smooth,

and in accordance with the alphabetic arrangement, leads us to

the conclusion, that David speaks here to the "sons"—comp. on

Ps. xxxiv.—to whom milk and not strong meat must be provid-

ed. We see here also, how David did not please himself in his

poesy, but adapted his voice to the necessities of the church,  

which he served with his poetical gift.

            An introduction and a conclusion, which are each made up

of the number seven, are distinguished from the great mass,

ver. 8-33, by their prevailing hortatory character, while the rest

bears the character of a calm consideration and simple represen-

tation of the state of things, interrupted only by a solitary exhor-

tation in ver. 27. The admonition of the introductory part, is

grounded in the body of the Psalm, and that at the close grows

out of this.

            In regard to the alphabetical arrangement, there are two verses

assigned by the rule to each letter. But various irregularities

occur here also, which the analogy of all the alphabetical Psalms

forbids us to obliterate—comp. on Psalm xxv., and still more

the circumstance, that a close examination of them always forces

on us the conviction of plan and design. Three letters have only

one verse appropriated to them, ver. 7, 20, 34, while one letter has

three verses, ver. 27, and a letter, f, is altogether awanting The

strophe, which should have begun with t, has a v placed before

it. This state of matters is to be explained in the following

manner. It is not accidental, that we so often see the number


24                  THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


ten play an important part in the alphabetical Psalms. It is, just

as the alphabet, the signature of the complete, what is comprized

in itself. Now, for the number ten, the Psalmist would fain se-

cure a place here. The whole, therefore, must be made to com-

plete itself in four decades. For this purpose the forty-four

verses, of which it had consisted, if two verses were distributed

to each letter, must somehow be shortened. But the Psalmist

would not proceed arbitrarily in doing this, he would only ab-

breviate there, where an internal ground existed for the abbre-

viation. At three points an opportunity of doing this offers it-

self. For obtaining the number seven in the introduction and

the close, a letter-strophe must each time be deprived of a verse;

the lot for this was intentionally cast on the last verse of the in-

troduction, and the first of the conclusion, so that the two im-

perfect strophes might unite with each other, the second seven

join itself to the first, whose subject it again resumes. A third

occasion arose in ver. 20. The middle of the whole, the half

of the forty, must not remain unmarked, and must not fall into

the middle of a strophe. Now there was just needed, in order

to obtain the number forty, the abbreviation of one strophe. But

no other opening presented itself for doing this, in so far as the

matter was concerned. Besides, for the letter f no suitable

commencement was found by the author, so that he sought to

gain his object by dropping this letter, while he gave to the one

immediately preceding, s, three verses, in evident and intention-

al contrast at the same time to the three letters with one verse,

and in skilful arrangement, making two verses of common, en-

close a third of uncommon length. Finally, that the v before

the strophe with t, is not accidentally affixed to it, is improba-

ble on this account alone, that this strophe is the very last; and

the conjunction placed there, at once brings the strophe into

connection with what precedes, and marks its subject as the re-

sult of the latter, the sum and quintessence of the whole dis-


            The reasons which have been brought against the Davidic

origin of this Psalm, are of no weight, and are disposed of by

the remarks already made on Psalm xxv. When an inclination

is shown to regard Jeremiah as the originator of the alphabeti-

cal arrangement, it is not considered, that both in form and sub-

stance this prophet hangs upon an earlier period. The very cir-

cumstance, that Jeremiah, in his Lamentations, has employed the


25                            PSALM XXXVII.


alphabetical order, shows that he had in this respect important

prototypes in the past, and is quite fatal to the opinion of the

late origin of the alphabetical arrangement.

            For David's being its author, there is, besides the super-

scription, the unquestionable fact, that the Psalm forms the basis

of a series of declarations in the Proverbs of Solomon. Then,

few in Israel could, from actual experience, speak upon the theme

of this Psalm, as David could do—few were so called by the

leadings of providence, to oppose a barrier to the temptation,

which arose from the prosperity of the wicked. David had found

many occasions for giving way to this temptation; he had seen

the ungodly Saul, the foolish Nabal, the corrupt faction of Ab-

salom, sitting in the lap of fortune, while he languished in dis-

tress. David knew the temptation itself from his own expe-

rienee, although God proved to him, that he did not wholly aban-

don him, and came to his help at the proper time. When he

cut off the skirt of Saul, he for a moment forgot this: be not

angry at the wicked; if his conscience had not smitten him, he

would have proceeded from the skirt to the heart. Still more

deeply did he underlie the temptation, when he swore he would

cut off Nabal with his whole house. Had Abigail not gone to

meet him, and by her voice awoke his slumbering better self, he

would have experienced in himself the truth of his declaration

in ver. 8, that anger toward the wicked leads to a participation in

their wicked deeds. With deep emotion of heart he says to her

in 1 Sam. xxv. 33, "And blessed be thy understanding, and blessed

be thou, that thou hast kept me this day from coming to shed

blood, and from avenging myself with mine own hand." David,

finally, had from manifold experience learned the truth of the

sentiment, upon which he here grounds the dissuasion from re-

venge, that quietness is the sure path to victory, that he, who

simply commits his cause to God, shall certainly obtain a happy

issue to it, and see the punishment of the wicked. Saul, with

his whole retinue, fell under the judgment of God, and David

succeeded to his place. In regard to Nabal, whose history is

peculiarly illustrative of this Psalm, he could speak in 1 Sam.

xxv. 39, "Blessed be the Lord, that bath pleaded the cause of

my reproach from the hand of Nabal, and hath kept his servant

from evil; for the Lord hath returned the wickedness of Nabal

upon his own head." Already, Luther remarks: "Such ex-

amples had David seen in Saul, Absalom, Ahitophel, and the like,


26                       THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


who were mighty in their godless nature, and yet, ere one could

look around him, were gone, so that one might ask and say, what

has become of them?"

            The divine recompense, to which David directs the tempted,

is here, in unison with the two other Psalms, which treat ex pro-

fesso of the same theme, xlix. and lxxiii., only a temporal one,

and in vain have Stier and others laboured to find references in

it to a recompense after death. No ground exists for such en-

deavours; we have besides the Old Testament the New, and

even on this account one-sidedness in the Old Testament is no

defect; it is rather an excellence, if only the side actually brought

out is a side of truth, since even through the exclusive predo-

minance of this one side, the truth may be more deeply impress

ed upon the conscience. That there is here a side of truth, has

often been boldly denied in recent times; the doctrine of retri-

bution in temporal things has been affirmed to be a Jewish error:

But we do not need to attempt the refutation of this view here,

as it has already been done in our Behr. P. p. 577, ss., where

it is especially shown, that the New Testament teaches the tem-

poral recompense as well as the Old, (the oft-repeated principle

in this Psalm, that the meek shall inherit the land, is taken up

and confirmed by our Lord in his sermon on the mount), that

this doctrine has obtained, in a remarkable manner, the consen-

sus gentium, that the opposite view, however well it may-look,

is nothing else than practical atheism, and that it leads to the

most disastrous consequences, while the doctrine of the temporal

recompense is not only based in sound views of God, but is also

supported by the important testimony of experience.

            The New Testament, while it so resumes the matter of consola-

much handled in the Old, in regard to the temptation

growing out of the prosperity of the wicked and the sufferings

of the righteous,—comp., besides the statements and passages

referred to above, 2 Cor. iv, 8, 9,—presents the subject in a three-

fold point of view. I. It enlarges the field of recompense, mak-

ing it run into the life to come. 2. It ascribes to the temporal

tribulation and the temporal salvation a subordinate place, while

it points to the coming glory as that, with which the sufferings

and joys of this life are not worthy to be named. 3. It brings

with it even during this life a great richness of internal goods,

the possession of which renders the want of the external less

painful.  The feeling of the New Testament expresses itself


                  PSALM XXXVII. VER. 1, 2.                            27


thus, "I have learned in whatever state I am, therewith to be

content--I can do all things through Christ strengthening me."

Phil. iv. 11, 13, and "as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing, as hav-

ing nothing, and yet possessing all things," 2 Cor. vi. 10.

            Ver. 1. Inflame not thyself against the miscreants, envy not

tile evil-doers. Ver. 2. For they shall soon be cut down as grass,

and as the green herb they wither. The passage first contains

an admonition, then lays the ground of this. Luther:  "How

immediately does the prophet seize and hit upon the thoughts

of the heart in this temptation, and take away all causes thereof,

saying, at the first: 0 man, thou art choleric, and hast cause

for it, as thou thinkest, for there are wicked men, who do un-

justly, and commit much evil, while still they continue to pros-

per, so that nature thinks it has just cause to be angry. But not

so, dear child: permit grace, and not nature here to rule;

break thine anger, and be at rest for a little; let them go on

doing evil and prospering; believe me, it shall do thee no harm.

Then if men ask: When shall things cease to be thus? Who

can endure so long? He answers: For as the grass, &c. This

is a beautiful similitude, terrible to hypocrites, and consoling to

the afflicted. How entirely does it raise us out of our own sight,

and place us in the sight of God!  In our sight, the multitude

of hypocrites flourishes and grows, and covers the world so com-

pletely, that they alone seem almost to exist; as the green

grass covers and adorns the earth. But in God's sight what are

they? Hay, that must presently be made: and the higher the

grass grows, the nearer is it to the scythe and the hay-cock;

just as the higher and farther the wicked spread and rise aloft,

the nearer are they to destruction. Wherefore, then, shouldst

thou be angry, when their wickedness and prosperity are of so

short-lived a nature?"— hrH to burn, in Hithp. which it is only

here and in Pro v. xxiv. 19, to set one's self on fire, to go into a

passion. The b after this verb, always marks the person toward

whom the anger is directed. Hence we are not to translate

here with most expositors: be not angry with thyself upon, but

only against the miscreants, as such a rendering is also the only

one in accordance with the parallel, as in the second member

too the objects towards whom the affection is directed, are indicat-

ed by a b: xnq with a b always to envy any one. Men would

not have erred from the right exposition, if they had only used

the story of Nabal in 1 Sam. xxv. as a commentary. That story


28                      THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


skews us very distinctly on what account it is, that such a

pointed admonition is given against rage and envy toward the

wicked. As it springs from an objectionable ground, from

doubt in divine providence,—for so long as there is a firm faith

in this, one will not greatly grudge to the ungodly his transitory

success, will not be indignant at it, but rather wait, looking to

the future, and bearing the sufferings which the Lord has sent

as a trial,—so does it lead to the most unhappy consequences.

From anger flows revenge, from envy the endeavour to attain

by one's own arm the like prosperity. So will there come from

indignation and envy toward miscreants, another miscreant, one

who will bring force against force, and malice against malice.

That it is in this respect the warning is here given against anger

and envy, appears in the clearest manner from the express de-

claration of the Psalmist's mind in ver. 8, and also what is said

of the opposite: do good, in ver. 3, and "of the meek," in ver.

11.—References to ver. 1 occur in Prov. xxiv. 1, 19,—literally

as here, only that instead of evil-doers we have the wicked, iii.

31; xxiii. 17. That the Proverbs should present so many coin-

cidences with the commencement of the Psalm, fitted, as it is, to

make so deep an impression upon the mind of the reader, shows

that in the other allusions of the Proverbs to our Psalm the lat-

ter must be the original, and refutes the view of those who

would reverse the relation. In ver. 2, Ulm.Ayi, on account of the

pause, instead of vlm.;yi, is fut. in Kal. from llm, to be cut down,

not from the uncertain root lmn.  John Arnd:  "When grass

has stood its time, it will be cut down. So, when the ungodly

have accomplished their end by their prosperity, God sends one

against them, who cuts them off; as may be seen in Saul and

Ahab, who, as soon as they were ripe, were swept away, by an

enemy sent on purpose by God. And when flowers and green

herbs have stood and bloomed their time, they fall of them-

selves and wither away. So is it with all the ungodly amid

their great temporal prosperity. And then they are such

flowers, as when once fallen, revive no more, but for ever cor-

rupt and waste, and blossom not again. Ah! why should we

then be filled with anger at them, and begrudge them their

short-lived good? We should rather pity their blindness."

            Ver. 3. Trust in the Lord and do good, inhabit the land, and

feed in truth. Ver. 4. And delight thyself in the Lord, and he


                       PSALM XXXVII. VER. 3.                          29


shall give thee the desires of thy heart. In opposition to the

improper feeling and mode of acting respecting the prosperity

of the wicked, the Psalmist first places here the correct one, and

then points out this as the sure means to the desired end. On

the first words Luther remarks: "Here he takes away all im-

patient thoughts and composes the heart to rest. As if he

would say: dear child, cease from thine impatience, and curse

them not, neither wish them any evil; such thoughts are human

and sinful. Put thy hope in God; see what he will make of it;

look thou to thyself; on no account cease to do good, as thou

hast begun, where and to whom thou canst, and render not evil

for evil, but good for evil." The following imperatives: inha-

bit, etc. are to be taken in the sense of promises, q. d. then wilt

thou inhabit, feed, delight thyself. hfr with the accus. often

to bepasture, in a sort of spiritual sense, to feed on somewhat,

Isa. xliv. 20; Hosea xii. 2; Prov. xiii. 20. The truth is the

truth of God, which unfolds itself in his dealings toward the

righteous, so that he can rejoice therein. Most, proverbially:

feed securely. To delight one's self in the Lord, is as much as

to enjoy his grace and blessing, compare Isa. lviii. 14; Job xxii.

26, xxvii. 10. The fut.: and he will give thee, etc., serves to

explain the preceding imperative. Many expositors take all the

imperatives in the sense of exhortation, and limit the promise

to the words: "And he will give thee (so will he give thee) the

desires of thy heart;" others would give the imperatives, at least

in ver. 3, the force of admonitions. But very important con-

siderations present themselves against this view. The words:

inhabit the land, have something strange in them when viewed

thus. The direction has too little of an active character. We

should rather have expected in that case: remain in the land, or

abide therein. hnvmx hfr must not be translated with Luther:

support thyself uprightly, for hnvmx is not used as an adverb,

and to feed cannot stand for to support. Neither can we ren-

der with others: feed thyself in uprightness, or even in faith;

for hvvmx signifies truth, faithfulness, and nothing else. Feed

thyself in truth, for love, exercise it, were bearable perhaps.

Still truth seems here somewhat out of place. The delighting

of one's self in the Lord, is always used only as a felicity and a

gift, never as an obligation and a proposal; an admonition to

delight one's self in the Lord, were without all analogy.  The

propriety of viewing it in the light of a promise, is confirmed by


30                   THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


            Ver 11. But decidedly against the opposite view is ver. 27

where the expression: dwell for evermore, after a preceding

imperative of admonition unquestionably bears the import of a

promise, as also the parallel passage, ver. 9-11 22, 29, 34, in

which the possession of the land, and the dwelling in it is mark-

ed as a reward of righteousness. With a promissory meaning

stands also the expression in Prov. ii. 21, "the upright shall

inherit the land," and x. 30. On the last words: he will give

thee, etc. comp. Ps. xx. 5; xxi.

            Ver. 5. Roll thy way upon the Lord, and trust in him, he will

do it. Ver. 6. And will bring forth thy righteousness as the

light, and thy judgment as the noon-day. Roll thy way, like

one, who lays upon the shoulder of one stronger than himself a

burden which he is not able to bear, comp. on Psalm, xxii. 8;  I

Peter v. 7. That way here does not denote the walking, as well

as the doing, is clear from the parallel passage, Prov. xvi. 3,

"Roll upon the Lord thy works;" and also from the expression

he will do, namely, what is to be done, and what thou canst not

do; hWf never stands absolutely; where it appears to do so, the

object is always to be borrowed from the preceding. The light

is day-light, noon-day, the time when it shines most brightly.

By the righteousness many understand subjective righteousness;

the darkness of misfortune has brought righteousness under the

cloud, but God will thereby place it in the clearest light, as he

again favours the innocent sufferer.  But, since the light com-

monly, and often in the very same connection, an image, not of

revelation, but of salvation, (comp. Job xi. 17, "And clearer

than the noon-day shall be thy life; now thou art dark, then thou

shalt be like the morning," Isa. lviii. 8: Micah vii. 9), the right-  

eousness is better taken as the gift of God, as actual justification,

following on the communication of salvation. In the correspond-

ing member, we are consequently to understand by right or

judgment, that which is conferred by God. The promise here

delivered will find its complete fulfilment in the day, when the

saints of God shall shine as the sun, and as the stars of heaven

for ever and ever. But vain would be the hope of this, if it

were not realized also in the present state; what has no place

on this side, can have none on that. There nothing will begin,

every thing is only perfected. The denial of the temporal re-

compense is a partial denial of God, and one that by a kind of

consequence leads to a complete denial. Jo. Arnd: "See holy


                           PSALM XXXVII. VER. 7.                             31


David, Saul with all his kingly might could not destroy him:

God brought David forth at last as a shining light, as the sun at

noon-day; and what a bright light was David over the whole

land! How thick a darkness fell upon our Lord Christ, the Sun

of Righteousness, in his holy sufferings and death; but, in his glo-

rious resurrection and ascension to heaven, and proclamation of

the blessed gospel, the true light burst forth, and illuminated

the whole earth, so that even the heathen walk in this light, and

in the brightness which has proceeded from him."

            Ver. 7. Be still to the Lord and wait on him, inflame not thy-

self against him, who is prosperous in his way, against the man

that practises devices. in this: inflame thyself not, the conclu-

sion of the introduction reverts to the beginning, and thus rounds

itself off. The amplification then begins again in ver. 8, with

the same thoughts, which, in our introduction, were marked as

the proper ground-tone of the whole. Mmd always means to

be silent. Silence is primarily of the speech, as opposed to pas-

sionate self-defence, comp. Psalm xxxviii. 13, 14. But if one

must help himself by speeches, so also and much more by deeds.

The l marks him, to whom this silence belongs, with respect to

whom silence is kept, q. d. be silent with an eye to the Lord,

who will speak better and with more effect, than thou canst do,

comp. Psalm xxxviii. 15, "Thou wilt answer, 0 Lord my God,"

and the parallel here: wait upon him, which is to be considered

as an exposition of the vl.  Arnd: "We have heard above, that

our dear Lord would bring forth the righteousness of the pious

as the light, and as the sun in clear noon-day. Now, because

this dear God has such a great work in contemplation for all

fearers of God, let them be still to the Lord, and not hinder him

in his work, but wait on him in patience." The two members:

against him who is prosperous in ins way, against the man, who

practises devices, define one another, and Luther has properly

brought them together, "inflame thyself not upon him, who

goes on prosperously in his perverseness." Those, who do not

recognize this, would take hWf in the sense of executing, bring-

ing to pass, in which case an indication of wickedness should not

have been awanting in the first member. Arnd:  "David saw

his enemy, Saul, enjoy prosperity, and that his perverseness

carried him on successfully, but was still, committed it to God,

and would not destroy him, though he often came into his



32                   THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


            Ver. 8. Stand off from anger, and cease from wrath, inflame.

thyself not, so that thou also dost evil. Ver. 9. For evil-doers

shall be cut off, and they that wait upon the Lord, they shall

possess the land. j`x is to be taken in its common signification,

only. Only to evil-doing, points to this, that anger could have

no other consequence than this, no good, but only this mournful

one. Luther:  "And what avails such rage? It makes the

matter no better, nay only sinks it deeper in the ditch. Thou

hast prevented God, so that thou East lost his grace and favour,

and art become like evil-doers, and wilt perish along with them,

as follows." In the doing of evil, we must not think of mur-

muring against God, nor generally of an apostasy to the manner

of thinking and acting characteristic of the ungodly; it is to be

viewed as specially referring to the behaviour toward the

enemies. Arnd: "To do many evil things to them from impa-

tience and revenge, is what would be rued in eternity." The

chief purport of ver. 9 is to chew, that no ground existed for

anger, rather must thou carefully restrain thyself from it, for

evil-doers, into the circle of whom thou wouldst enter, when

thou abandonest thyself to rage, &c. The truth of this: they

shall possess the land, comp. on Ps. xxv. 13, David had himself

experienced in a wonderful manner.

            Ver. 10. It is but a little, and the wicked is no more, and if

thou thinkest upon his place, it will be gone. Ver. 11. But the

meek shall possess the land, and delight themselves in great peace.

Upon Myvnf, the meek, not, as Luther, the miserable, comp. on

Ps. ix. 12. Because they have maintained peace, peace shall be

given them as a reward after the extirpation of the wicked. See

ver. 37.

            Ver. 12. The wicked plots against the righteous, and gnashes

against him with his teeth. Ver. 13. The Lord laughs at him,

for he sees that his day is coming. The day is by the connec-

tion determined to be that of his misfortune. The laughing of

God, who has before his eyes the impending ruin of the wicked,

(Berleb. Bible: "such poor worms, who make themselves so

great upon the earth, and act so loftily in their impotence, see-

ing it must so soon be over with them,") is put here in contrast

to the human mode of reckoning, which remains wedded to the

visible. Let this divine mode of reckoning be adopted by the

righteous, and instead of weeping they shall then rejoice, even

before the divine interference has appeared.


                     PSALM XXXVII. VER. 14-19.                   33


Ver. 14. The ungodly draw the sword and bend their bow,

that they may cast down; the poor and needy, and slay the up-

right. Ver. 15. Their sword will go into their heart, and their

bows shall be broken. Comp. Ps. vii. 15, 16; ix. 15, 16; lvii.

6. Prov. xxvi. 27. Ver. 16. The little that a righteous man

has, is better than the great possessions of many wicked. Ver.

17. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, and the Lord

upholds the righteous. That we must render: better is a little,

which is to the righteous, appears from the parall. pass. Prov.

xv. 16, "Better is a little with the fear of the Lord, than great

treasure and trouble therewith," xvi. 8. NvmH never signifies

exactly riches, always noise, turmoil, and that this meaning must

be retained here, appears from Prov. xv. 16, where there is

hmvHm, and Ps. xxxix. 6. But the noise of the wicked stands

for his riches, which, in the scraping and holding together, in-

volve him in noise, turmoil, and disquietude. Mybr, not

greatness, but many. The Psalmist places the small possession

of one righteous person in opposition to the collected goods of

a whole mass of the ungodly. The ground is laid in verse 17.

It is, not because the wicked, even in the greatest external for-

tune, feel themselves internally unhappy, as Calvin supposes,

(that is only indicated by the turmoil,) but because their external

fortune soon goes to wreck, and only serves the purpose of

making them feel more deeply their future misery. This ground

addresses itself to faith, which sees what is not, as if it were.

He, whose arm is broken, the instrument of working, can no

more either hurt another, or help himself. Comp. Ps. x. 15,

xxxviii. 14, 1 Sam. ii. 31.

            Ver. 18. The Lord knows the days of the pious, and their in-

heritance shall be for ever. Ver. 19. They shall not be ashamed

in the time of adversity, and in the days of famine they shall be

full. With the knowing of the Lord his case is necessarily

bound up, comp. on Ps. i. 6. The days are not properly the

fates, Arnd: "God knows what shall befal us every day and

hour, and causes all things to work together for good to them

that love him," comp. Ps. xxxi. 15, but the days of life them-

selves. God fulfils in them his promise, "the number of thy

days will I make full," Ex. xxiii. 26, and hears their prayer,

"My God take me not away in the midst of my days," Ps. cii.

24. With the preservation of their life, the holding of the in-

heritance is placed in connection. The for evermore does not


34                     THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


carry a respect to a future life, to which the mention of the in-

heritance, according to Old Testament phraseology, is unsuitable.

It is to be explained in this way, that the Psalmist here pri-

marily marks the inheritance of the righteous as a lasting one,

notwithstanding the attacks of the ungodly; these shall not be

able for ever to wrest it from them. Hence the pious is not to

be thought of as a mere individual. Arnd: "Many and great

goods are often scattered like the chaff by the wind, and there

is no blessing and prosperity with them. On the other hand,

small possessions, which are held with God and uprightness, re-

main and go with God's blessing to posterity." But the Chris-

tian, when he hears of the eternal inheritance, must certainly

think before all of "the inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and

unfading, which is reserved in heaven," 1 Pet. i. 4, the assurance

of which is contained in this passage in the spirit, if not in the

letter.—On ver. 19 comp. Ps. xxxiii. 19.

            Ver. 20. For the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the

Lord vanish away as the joy of  lambs, as smoke they vanish.

The for is here quite in its place. The prosperity of the wicked

as a matter-of-fact testimony against the divine righteousness,

appears to overthrow the truth of what has been said in the

preceding context upon the prosperity of the righteous. The

Psalmist here, while he removes that objection out of the way,

lays the ground of his foregoing principle. But, in another point

of view also, in so far as life and property are endangered to the

righteous by the wicked, the destruction of the latter is neces-

sarily implied in the salvation of the former, and the for in that

way appears suitable. rqAy;, is stat. constr. of the adj. rqAyA.  The

precious of lambs is not their fat, nor is it their wool, but their

fine grass, the beautiful green of their pasture, agreeably to a

great many other passages, in which the grass is employed as

an image of evanescence, and in particular of the evanescent

prosperity of the wicked, comp. here ver. 2. Many expositors

after Luther take Myrk in the sense of pastures: the excellent

of pastures, for, their excellent grass. But that meaning is not

rendered certain by the two passages, in which confirmation is

sought for it. In Isa. xxx. 23, we are to render: the lambs

spread themselves forth, and in Ps. lxv. 13: the pastures clothe

themselves with lambs. The expression: in smoke—a second

independent image—is as to meaning the same with, as smoke,

comp. Ps. cii. 3. But it must be viewed as a proverbial ex-


                     PSALM XXXVII. VER. 20-24.                       35


pression, comp. Ew. Small Gr. § 521. The combination of the

two images, carries, perhaps, a reference to the destruction of

Sodom and Gomorrah, the great type of all judgments upon the

ungodly. Arnd: "The land was a pleasure-garden of the Lord

(comp. Gen. xiii. 10, according to which the district was parti-

cularly rich in excellent pasture,) but on account of its great

wickedness, the Lord destroyed the whole region with fire and

brimstone from heaven, so that a smoke rose up as from an

oven," comp. Gen. xix.

            Ver. 21. The wicked borrows and repays not, and the righ-

teous is compassionate and lends. Ver. 22. For his blessed ones

inherit the land, and his cursed ones shall be cut off. The sense

of ver. 21 is: the wicked, overtaken by the divine punishment,

cannot even restore what he has borrowed; the righteous, on

the other hand, preserved by God and blessed, has the means of

shewing himself beneficent. Quite unsuitably most take the

not paying of the wicked, and the lending of the righteous, in a

moral point of view. This would not accord with the whole

theme of the Psalm, nor even with the immediately succeeding

context in ver. 22. This would not, then, as the for demands,

present the ground of what is said in ver. 21. Also in the

parall. pass. ver. 26, is that exposition unsuitable. And, finally,

it is disproved by the original declarations in the Pent. such as

Deut. xv. 6, "For the Lord thy God blesseth thee, as he pro-

mised thee, and thou shalt lend unto many nations, but thou

shalt not borrow," xxviii. 12, 44.—The cuff. in ver. 22 refer to

the Lord, of whom each was naturally thinking, so that there

was no need of any further designation.

            Ver. 23. By the Lord is a man's course ordered, and he has

pleasure in his way. Ver. 24. If he falls, he will not be laid

prostrate, for the Lord supports his hand. Many would define

more closely the rbg: such a man as had hitherto been discours-

ed of, the pious. But if it had referred to the pious, the article

could not possibly have been awanting; and for taking the as-

sertion in a general point of view, we have the parall. pass,

Prov. xx. 24, "Man's goings are of the Lord, and man under-

stands not his way," and xvi. 9, "A man's heart deviseth his

way, but the Lord directeth his steps." We shall find no need

for taking refuge in this violent exposition, if we only give up

the supposition, that the two members of the verse stand in

synonymous parallelism: "It is in no man's power to bring his

36                 THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


work to a prosperous issue, from God comes salvation and bless-

ing," and God has pleasure in his, the righteous man's way, in

his undertakings and concerns, so that he cannot but succeed

and prosper.—The difference between falling and being pros-

trated, is that of misfortune or loss, and ruin. The hand is

named, because the fallen need it in order to get up again.

Luther: "Thus the spirit comforts and answers the secret

thoughts, which every one might have, saying with himself: I

have, however, seen it happen, that the righteous is oppressed,

and his cause is trodden in the dust by the wicked. Nay, he

replies, dear child, let it be so, that he falls; he still cannot re-

main lying thus and be cast away; he must be up again, al-

though all the world doubts of it. For God catches him by the

hand, and raises him again."

            Ver. 25. I have been young and am become old, and still have

never seen the righteous forsaken, or his seed going after bread.

Ver. 26. Always does he shew himself compassionate, and lends,

and his seed will be blessed. That the Psalmist had composed

this Psalm in advanced life, we are not to conclude from his

speaking here of his having been young, and being now old.

In unison with the whole character of the Psalm, throughout

which the father speaks to his children, the person of the ex-

perienced old man may have been assumed by a poetical figure;

and that this was really the case, is rendered probable by the

circumstance, that the Psalm nowhere else possesses an indivi-

dual character. It is to be understood of itself, that the dis-

course is here of continued desertion and destitution. David

himself had often to complain that the Lord had forgotten him,

he had in his poverty to beseech the rich Nabal for bread, and

the object of the Psalm is precisely to meet the temptation,

which grows up to the righteous from temporary desertion. Then

it is not to be overlooked, that the experience which the Psalm-

ist here utters, is primarily an Old Testament one. (Complete

impoverishment belonged to the punishments which were

threatened to the impious transgressors of the law, comp. Deut.

xxviii. 38, ss.) It is not to be doubted, that God, while he

withheld from the righteous of the Old Covenant, any clear in-

sight into a future state of being, on that very account unfolded

his righteousness the more distinctly in his dealings towards

them during this life, so that they might not err concerning it.

Still we must beware of carrying the distinction in this respect

                   PSALM XXXVII. Ver. 25-29.                        37


between the Old and New Covenant too far.  He, who seeks

first the kingdom of God, shall have all other things given to him.

Godliness has promises not merely for the future, but also for

the present life. But what is the main point, is: the Lord has

commanded us to ask our daily bread. Every command issued

by the Lord is at the same time a promise. He enjoins us to

pray only for that, which he certainly and without exception

will grant, (i. e. without any exception, which really deserves

the name; the man, from whom he withholds the earthly bread,

and feeds the more plentifully with heavenly food, so that

he is not conscious of the deficiency as a want, has not

prayed in vain: Give us this day our daily bread.) But, if

on this side we are poorer than the members of the Old

Covenant, we are so only because on the other side we are rich-

or. What appeared to the members of the Old Covenant as a

continued desertion, presents itself to us, who can see with quite

other eyes, the end of this life, only as a passing one, and, be-

sides, the Spirit of Christ can so mightily console and quicken

us, that the failure in temporal things presses little upon us.

But still, the more that a believer of the New Covenant places

himself upon the footing of the Old, so much the more securely

must he confide, that God will not for a continuance abandon

him in regard also to temporal things. The Berleb. Bible:

"God gives not the spiritual only, but also the bodily, and the

unrighteousness is not to be borne, which one perpetrates on God,

when one thinks, that he sooner abandons those, who surrender

themselves to him, and place all their hope and confidence in

him, than others.—God has certainly no delight in this, that even

a little worm should die of hunger, or a sparrow fall to the

ground. How can he then allow his children to perish? This

is not to be believed of him; it is too dishonourable to him.—

Let us then take good heed how we stand in this respect and

live before God: whether we have so much faith, that we can

trust in him only for a piece of bread, and whether we can give

him credit for so much wisdom, and power, and faithfulness,

that he will assist and care for us in righteous concerns, and

maintain his work itself."

            Ver. 27. Depart from evil and do good, so shalt thou dwell for

evermore. Ver. 28. For the Lord loves judgment, and forsakes

not his saints, they are preserved for ever, but the seed of the

wicked shall be cut off. Ver. 29. The righteous inherit the land,

38                     THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


and dwell therein for ever. It is evident both from the Mlvfl,

and also from the two following verses, that the imperative dwell

stands in the promissory sense, as in ver. 3 and 4, q. d. so shalt

thou dwell, namely, in the land of the Lord, with allusion to the

formula in the Pent., "that thy days may be long in the land

which the Lord thy God giveth thee," and that we are not to

explain with several commentators: remain always at rest. The

unsuccessful attempts to press into the Psalm an ain-strophe, we

pass over, since the foundation of them has been taken away by

what has been already remarked in the introduction. On the

expression; the seed of the wicked shall be cut off, the Berleb

Bible remarks: "This is deeply grounded in the divine right-

eousness, imprinted thence upon the hearts of men, and as with

terrible griphins guarded, that no wickedness can remain un-

punished, and that the ungodly shall infallibly come to a miser-

able end. If such perdition does not always meet the bodily

eye or sense, still every thing is only contributing to their deep-

er ruin. For the destruction of their poor souls is certainly

much more dreadful before God."

            Ver. 30. The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, and his

tongue utters judgment. Ver. 31. The law of his God is in his

heart, his steps totter not. The Psalmist had given to the right-

eous very rich consolation, very beautiful promises. But now,

that these might not be torn from those, to whom they properly

belonged, that every one might prove himself whether he had

any thing more than the name of a righteous person, he here

encloses the characteristic of the righteous. The expression:

his steps totter not, is, q. d. he advances steadily forward in the

good path. The two verses contain again the three-fold division

of the decalogue. Ver. 30 refers to the speech, the second half

of ver. 31 to the actions, and in the midst of the two stands the


            Ver. 32. The wicked lurks for the righteous and seeks to kill

him. Ver. 33. The Lord leaves him not in his hand, and con-

demns him not when he is judged.  vnfywry, which must not be

rendered: he pronounces him guilty, shows that the discourse

here is not of a human judgment, (it is rather a judgment stand-

ing in contrast to this), that the matter between the pious and

the ungodly is represented under the image of a controversy, in

which God sits for judgment. Arnd: "The whole church of God,

all Christians were, in the times of Maximin and Hadrian, put

                 PSALM XXXVII. VER. 34-38.                        39


to the ban and exiled, hence Tertullian wrote an apology for

the Christians to the Emperor, and comforted the Christians by

saying "Si condenummur a mundo, absolvimur a deo."

            Ver. 34. Wait upon the Lord, and keep his way, so will he

exalt thee to possess the land, the extirpation of the wicked thou,

shalt see. The way of God, the way which God wills that men

should go in, which he has prescribed to them in his law.

            Ver. 35. I saw a wicked one, who was insolent, and spread

himself forth like a tree green and deep-rooted. Ver. 36. And

he passed away, and lo he was no more, and I sought him and

he was not found.  Cyrf, fearful, powerful, has commonly the

related idea of violence. But this is not here the predominating

one. We must translate: I saw a wicked one fearful, not a ty-

rannical wicked one. For the word manifestly stands in a simi-

lar relation to the: spreading himself. The indigenous is a

tree, which has never been taken out of its native soil, and trans-

planted. Such an one is peculiarly strong.  Hrzx is elsewhere

also used of persons, viewed as opposed to enemies, who have

no firm root of being in the land. Also we are not here to sup-

ply tree in a proverbial way, but rather the never transplanted

tree appears under the image of one inborn. We must render:

as an indigenous one, a green one.—There is no reason for trans-

lating: one passed by, for he passed by, he vanished away.

The lo! is also quite suitable to the most natural construction.

Berleb. Bible: "which points as with the finger of astonishment

to that quick disappearance." On the expression: I sought

him, it further remarks: "I could scarcely believe it, that the

man, who so shortly before had made so great a figure, must al-

ready come to nothing, so that I cast about for him in every

direction." Though David in this Psalm speaks not so much

from his person, as from his nature, yet undoubtedly in this

verse he had the image of Saul swimming before his eyes.

            Ver. 37. Mark the perfect and behold the upright, for a

futurity has the man of peace. Ver. 38. And the impious are

extirpated together, the futurity of the wicked is cut off. The

Psalmist confidently demands, that people would observe the

fate of the righteous; for experience will only confirm his posi-

tion, that it goes well with him at last. Several, after Luther:

continue pious and hold thyself right; but Mt and rwy never

stand as abstracts, hxr cannot signify: to be diligent in a mat-

ter, and: mark and see, manifestly point here to the: I saw, in

40                   THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


the preceding verse.—Then several expound: for posterity has

the man of peace; others: for the end of such a man is peace;

but the "many-meaning" tyrHx has only the one signification

of the end, and, in particular, never means posterity, (see on

Balaam, p. 158, ss.) and wyxl, cannot possibly signify: such a

man, and must hence of necessity be joined in stat. constr. with

Mvlw (LXX. a]nqrw<p& ei]rhnik&?, Vulg. homini pacifico.) The man

of peace, the meek, ver. 11, who is not inflamed against the

wicked, ver. 1, has an end, a future, whilst the wicked, who are

carried off in the midst of their days, (comp. on Ps. Iv. 23), are

violently robbed of the end or future.

            Ver. 39. And the salvation of the righteous comes from the

Lord, who is their security in the time of distress. Ver. 40. And

the Lord helps them and delivers them, delivers them from the

wicked, and saves them, for they trust in him. The v placed be-

fore the t announces this strophe as the sum of the whole,

Mzvfm is appos. to Jehovah. On the words: he delivers them

from the wicked, Luther remarks: "And that it might displease

the ungodly he mentions them by name, and says, he will deliver

them from the ungodly, whatever pain it may occasion them;

and their fury can be of no avail to them, although they think,

the righteous cannot escape from them, he must be extirpated."

On the words: they trust in him, John Arnd: "Ah! says he,

God cannot, and will not leave them, without rewarding their

fidelity and confidence, else were he not faithful, not righteous,

not true to his word."

            Luther closes his exposition of the Psalm with the words

“Oh shame on our faithlessness, mistrust, and vile unbelief, that

we do not believe such rich, powerful, consolatory declarations

of God, and take up so readily with little grounds of offence,

whenever we but hear the wicked speeches of the ungodly,

Help, 0 God, that we may once attain to right faith. Amen.”



                                PSALM XXXVIII.


            THIS Psalm discovers in its commencement a near relation to

the sixth, and in its close a near relation to the twenty-second.

The coincidences with these Psalms are too literal to be acci-

dental, and just as little could they originate in unintentional

reminiscence.  The contrary is evident from their occurring

                            PSALM XXXVIII.                                41


precisely at the commencement and the close, and from the

entirely original and independent character which the Psalm


            The Psalmist begins with a prayer to the Lord, that he would

not further punish him in anger, and rests this prayer on the

circumstance, that it had already been carried to an extreme

with him, that the time had now come, when, with the righteous,

love must necessarily take the place of anger, deliverance of

punishment. This delineation of the suffering of the Psalmist

is given in two sections. In the first, ver. 2-8, he complains,

after having spoken in the general of God's hand lying heavy

upon him, in enlargement of the statement, that there is no sal-

vation in his flesh, with which begins ver. 3, and with which he

concludes ver. 7, upon his miserable bodily condition, and then

upon the deep distress of his soul. In the second, ver. 9-12,

he points, after the introductory words in ver. 9, first again to

the mournful situation in which he found himself, ver. 10, and

then goes more deeply into the external distress, by which he

was surrounded, as being completely abandoned by his friends,

and left to enemies, who were eagerly bent on compassing his

destruction, ver. 12. After this representation of the greatness

of his sufferings, there follows in ver. 13-15 the protestation

that he possessed the indispensable condition of the divine help,

—patience, the still and devoted waiting upon God; and while

showing how much he had cause to wait upon God, how much

he stood. in need of God's help, he here takes a new glance in

ver. 16-20, at his sufferings, and gives a brief delineation of

them: he has attained to the painful consciousness of his sins,

and he is threatened with destruction by his numerous and power-

ful enemies, who persecute him, because he strives after what is

good. In the conclusion, ver. 21, 22, the prayer is raised on the

ground thus laid, that God would not forsake him, but would

make haste to help him.

            The Psalm is alphabetical as to its number, that is, the num-

ber of its verses coincides with that of the letters of the alpha-

bet. It is in allusion to this alphabetical character, that in the

two concluding verses three members make the last letter of the

alphabet follow the first, ynbzft lx, etc. Along with the al-

phabet, the number ten, as very often happens, is of importance.

The main subject occupies twenty verses, followed by a conclu-

42                THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


sion of two. (Of course this supposes the superscription to be

a part of the Psalm.)

            Of any particular occasion there is found no trace in the Psalm.

What at first sight seems to point to this, is soon discerned by

the experienced sense to be a mere individualizing, and rather

concludes the other way. The alphabetical arrangement already

makes it probable, that the Psalmist speaks from the person of

the righteous.

            According to many expositors, the situation must be of a sick

person, according to several, that specially of a leper, who at the

same time is pressed by enemies, and indeed so, that the sick-

ness is the Psalmist's chief cause of suffering. But there are

decisive grounds for holding, that the proper, the alone suffer-

ings of the Psalmist, stood in the assaults of the wicked, and

that the bodily prostration of which he complains, was only oc-

casioned by these. As soon as it is perceived, that the Psalm

did not originate in any particular occasion, it must from the

first appear improbable, that a double and quite separate cause

of suffering should exist; and this being the case, we can have

no difficulty in concluding, that the sickness may very well have

been the consequence of the assaults, but not the reverse; first,

because in all the afflictions of the Psalms generally, and in par-

ticular, of the Psalms of David, those occasioned by the assaults

of the wicked come out so prominently, then, from the analogy

of so many Psalms, in which the wretched bodily state appears

as the result of the assaults, but especially from Ps. vi. and xxii.

to which the author has himself referred us,—which together

shut us up to the conclusion, that the assaults were the proper

and only sufferings. Further, in the resumed survey taken of

the sufferings in ver. 18-20, the sickness is entirely omitted;

there are first only on the one hand, the consciousness of sin,

and, on the other, the malice of enemies. Finally, the prayer

at the close does not plead for salvation, but only for help and

assistance, according to the customary language of the Psalmist,

against the enemies, clearly manifesting that neither sickness,

nor the painful conviction of sin, was the original cause of his

sufferings,—that these were to be considered merely as the ef-

fects of hostile oppression, which should vanish along with their


            The following view of the situation hence presents itself as the

correct one. The Psalmist, or he, in whose name he speaks, to

                             PSALM XXXVIII.                                        43


whom he offers weapons, with which he can prevail in the contest,

is hard pressed by ungodly enemies. The sting of his pain in this

temptation is the consideration, perpetually true in itself, and,

in the Old Testament especially, distinctly announced, that there

is no suffering without sin, or that all suffering is punishment,

sees in his enemies so many accusers sent against him by God,

and in their superior power a testimony that God was visiting

for his sins, which appear to him now in a very different light

from what they had done during his prosperity. What he

could easily have borne otherwise, prostrates him when so con-

sidered, both in body and soul. In his distress he turns himself

to the Lord, with a prayer for deliverance from his enemies,

which, at the same time, implies the forgiveness of his sins, and

consequently his suffering was removed.

            A Psalm of David for remembrance. The person who is to

be put in remembrance by the Psalm, is not, as is generally sup-

posed, the Psalmist himself, or the whole church, but God, who

seemed to have forgotten the Psalmist. Several expound: to

praise the Lord, with an allusion to 1 Chron. xvi. 4. But

rykzh always signifies only to mention, never to praise, comp.

on Ps. xx. 7, and for the same reason in the passage of Chroni-

cles referred to, according to which the business of the Levitical

singers stood in this, llhlv tvdvhlv rykzhlv, to remember,

and to praise, and to extol, the rkyzh can only form the anti-

thesis to the two other verbs, to which also the prefixed v points.

The Levites had partly to sing the songs of lamentation and

prayer, and partly also those of praise and thanksgiving. The

exposition: for remembrance, is confirmed also by the subject

of the two Psalms, which have this in the superscription, where-

in it is to be noted, that in Ps. lxx. the superscription thus in-

dicated is the more remarkable, since that Psalm contains pre-

cisely the complaining and supplicating part of Ps. xl. with the

exclusion of the praising and extolling part: and then by the

connection with the hrkzx, remembrance-offerings, offerings

through which God was brought by his people into remembrance,

to which rykzhl probably alludes, comp. Ps. cxli. 2, Rev. viii. 4,

where the prayers of the saints appear as a spiritual incense and

remembrance-offering. The opposite is hdvtl, for praise, in

Ps. c. 1. This superscription of itself contains a hortatory ele-

ment. When God appears to have forgotten us, we must re-

44                    THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


member him: the earnest prayer to God for help is the only

and the sure means of attaining this.

            Ver. I. Lord, punish me not in thy rage, and chasten me not in

thine indignation. It was already shown in Ps. vi. 1, that the

contrast is not that of chastisement in love against chastisement

in anger, but that of the desired deliverance against chastisement,

which always proceeds from the principle of anger.—In what

follows, the Psalmist gives the ground, upon which his prayer

for deliverance rests. The burden of his suffering is so great,

that though he must bear it, yet God cannot permit his own to

be destroyed.

            Ver. 2. For thine arrows stick in me, and over me came thy

hand. vtHn, the Niph, found only here, of tHn, to go down.

yb, not upon, but in me. The arrows denote the chastisements

of sin, depending on God. Hitzig maintains arbitrarily, that by

the arrows only a particular form of these is to be understood,

sickness; the reverse of which is shown by the original passage,

Deut. xxxii. 23, where "I will send all my arrows against them,"

stands in parallel, with, "I will heap mischiefs upon them," and  

where presently hunger, burning, disease, are particularly

named. Then also, in the very passage upon which Hitzig rests

his view, Job vi. 4, "The arrows of the Almighty are in me,

their poison drinketh up my spirit," the arrows denote the

whole suffering which Job had already experienced, not merely

his bodily sickness, but also the loss of his children and his sub-

stance, the cooled love of his friends, and even of his wife.—For

the second member compare Ps. xxxii. 4, xxxix. 10.—The gene-

ral is followed by the particular; the Psalmist represents to

God, in detail, the mournful condition in which lie was placed,

in order to move him to compassion.

            Ver. 3. There is no salvation in my flesh because of thine anger,

there is no peace in my bones because of my sins. Ver. 4. For

my iniquities go over my head, as a heavy burden they are too

heavy for me. The Psalmist begins with the mournful state of

his body. Mtm from Mmt, without injury, soundness, does not

stand as an abstr. for conc., but we must translate literally: not

is soundness in my flesh. This is shown by the parallel, not is

peace: to my flesh is unsoundness, (and therefore) from my

bones peace is far, (the violent pain presses through marrow

and bone.)  The anger of God is in so far the cause of the

mournful bodily condition, as it hangs the infliction of enemies

                           PSALM XXXVIII. VER. 5-7.                   45


over the Psalmist, sins, in so far as they provoke that anger, q. d.

because of the hostile assault, in which I recognize the expres-

sion of thine anger, the punishment of my sins. What is simply

indicated in the expressions: because of thy anger, because of

my sins, is more fully carried out in ver, 4. The transgressions

of the Psalmist bear upon him in their consequences with insup-  

portable weight, comp. Ps. xl. 12, "for innumerable evils have

compassed me about, mine iniquities have taken hold on me."

In the expression: they go over my head, the image is taken

from billows: they flow over me like one who is nigh to drown-

ing, Ps. cxxiv. 4.

            Ver. 5. They are corrupt, my sores fester because of my folly.

qqm in Niph. to melt, here of the sores, which dissolve into a

boil. The verse is not to be taken figuratively indeed, but as

an individualizing mark of the state of bodily dissolution, in

which the Psalmist was placed, and which might also manifest

itself in other forms under certain circumstances. Folly here

indicates a bedimming of the understanding, in an ethical point

of view, comp. on Ps. xiv. 1. It is to be considered, not as the

immediate, but as the primary cause of the miserable bodily

condition. The folly has called forth the punishment of hostile

oppression, and through grief on account of this did the Psalmist

become so much the more corporeally wretched, as he could

only recognize in it the chastisement of his folly. That the im-

mediate cause is the hostile oppression, appears from the com-

parison of Ps. xxxi. 9, 10. The extraordinary agreement of

Isa. i. 6, with this verse must be the less accidental as Mtm also

occurs there, which is nowhere besides found, excepting here

in ver. 3 and 7. Isaiah has employed what is here an individu-

alizing description, as an image of the mournful condition into

which the people had fallen by their sins. In this allusion there

is found a confirmation of the superscription, as referring the

Psalm to David.

            Ver. 6. I am beside myself, bowed down very much, continu-

ally do I go in sadness. Ver. 7. For my loins are quite dried

up, and there is no soundness in my flesh. The Niphil of hvf

occurs in Isa. xxi. 3, in parallel. with being horrified, elsewhere

of moral perverseness. It is here just our: being crazy. The

Psalmist's pains rob him of all recollection. The commonly re-

ceived signification: to be crooked, bowed down, has no sure

foundation, Upon ytvHw and rdq comp. on Ps. xxxv. 14.

46               THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


The first member of ver. 7, literally: for my loins are full of the

dried, assigns as a reason for the distress of the Psalmist, his

bodily emaciation, comp. on Ps. xxii. 17. The loins are espe-

cially named, from being a chief seat of fat in the healthy, comp.

on Job xv. 27. The exposition which is now current: my bowels

are full of fever-burning, deserves rejection on every account.

As there are words on both sides of the expression; soundness

is not in my flesh, which are designed for an expansion of its

meaning, they can only refer to the external state of the body;

for the loins the bowels are arbitrarily substituted; hlq signi-

fies not to burn, but to roast, dry up; the burnt, or more pro-

perly, the dried, cannot stand for the burning. In the expres-

sion: there is not soundness, &c., the representation turns back

to the commencement, and so rounds itself off.

            Ver. 8. I am very feeble and sore broken, I howl from the

groanings of my heart. gvp to be cold, stiff, dead.  Mhn signi-

fies not less than gxw, to roar, and instead of tmhn there

might have been tgxw. The emphasis lies upon the words:

of my heart. The bodily cry of the Psalmist is only a witness

of the spiritual. In his inmost heart pain was raging. The re-

presentation of the Psalmist has here reached its acme; he in-

dulges himself in a moment's rest, and then proceeds more softly.

The first section is completed in the number seven, and the

seven is so divided, that two strophes, each of two verses, have

before, after, and in the middle of them, a strophe of one verse.

The main burden, the representation of the bodily distress, ver.

3-7, which rounds off through the resemblance of the beginning

and the close, and by its having five as the number of its verses,

points to a fourth addition, is hemmed in at the beginning

and the close by a general subject. The second section, ver.

9-12, is comprized, if we except ver. 9, which bears entirely

the character of an introduction, in the number three, and in

such a way, indeed, that each verse contains a separate deline-

ation of the Psalmist's suffering. If we reckon together the

seven verses of the first, and the three verses of the second

period, the whole representation of his sufferings will be con-

tained in the number ten.

            Ver. 9. 0 Lord, all my desire is before thee, and my sighing

is not hid from thee. The Psalmist had, at the close of the pre-

ceding period, painted his affliction in such a manner, that if be

had to do with a human friend, there would very naturally

                   PSALM XXXVIII. VER. 10, 11.                   47


have been the suspicion of colouring. Hence, before he pro-

ceeds farther in his lamentations, he appeals to the omniscience

of God, who would bear him witness, that the strongest language

he could use to express his misery, and the earnest desire of his

heart after help, far from exceeding the reality, still fell short

of it--q. d. Thou knowest how great my suffering is, and that I

am not magnifying it to thee, in order to move thy compassion.

The verse has for all sufferers the import of an impressive ad-

monition, not to seek help from God for pretended or imaginary

sufferings, and in their complaints not to go beyond the mea-

sure which the occasion itself warrants. The help of God, the

omniscient, directs itself, not according to the greatness of the

lamentation, but according to the greatness of the suffering.

            Ver. 10. My heart beats, my strength has left me, and the

light of my eyes, even that is not with me. Upon the light of

the eyes, comp. on Psalm xiii. 3. The words are in nomin.

absol. The expression: even they are not with me, instead of

what we would have expected; even that is not with me, occa-

sion no difficulty. If the glance of the eyes has gone, they

themselves are at the same time gone too; for it is that, which

makes the eye what it properly is. The lamentation upon the

inward distress, that is, upon the sad condition in which he was

placed as to soul and body, produced by the attacks of his ene-

mies, the Psalmist now follows up by the complaint upon what

was merely external, first, the faithlessness of his friends, then

at the close, that, from which all the rest proceeded, the malice

of his enemies.

            Ver. 11. My lovers and my friends stand over against my

stroke, and my neighbours stand afar off:  Several: they consider

me as one smitten by God, and fear to join themselves in fellow-

ship with me. But this is not in the words. These only bring

out the deep pain, which is occasioned by those who, when the

sore pressure of affliction upon us calls them to come nearer and

manifest an active love, by endeavouring, through their compas-

sion to alleviate our sufferings; on the contrary, remove farther

away, and abandon us to our pain, after the manner of the world,

where the prosperous are envied, and the unfortunate forgotten,

(comp. on Psalm xxvii. ver. 10,) whenever there is danger in

taking part with a person and acknowledging him. The stroke

of the Psalmist consists in the attacks of the enemies, and the

devastations in body and soul, which were thereby produced

48                     THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


upon him. rgnm over against, so that they do not come close

to him. John Arnd.: "This was fully verified in the passion,

as the disciples of our Lord were horrified at the stroke, which

he had to bear upon the cross. When the same is repeated in

our experience, as the holy Job says: my friends are my railers,

but mine eye weeps to God, we must console ourselves with the

example of the Lord Christ, for the servant cannot be above his

Lord; and it will avail for this purpose, if we commit ourselves

to no man, nay to no creature, but to our dear Father, Creator,

Redeemer, Preserver, whose faithfulness never fails." While

the friends are far, the enemies are near.

            Ver. 12. And they lay snares for me, who pursue after my soul,

and they who seek my hurt, speak mischief, and meditate upon

deceit perpetually. They speak mischief; not precisely, they

concert mischievous plans against me, but, as the two following

verses shew, and even the last member of this, they belch out

mischievous calumnies against me. In the last member, hgh is

better taken in the signification of meditating, than of speaking.

For then are deed, word, and thought bound with one another,

and we have here a complete counterpart to the decalogue,

where prohibition to injure our neighbour, proceeds from deeds

to words, (thou must not speak false witness against thy neigh-

bour, corresponding to this here: they speak mischief,) and

from words to thoughts, (thou shalt not covet.) The greatness

of the suffering, however, does not alone suffice as a ground for

the servant of the Lord praying for help; the manner in which

he has borne these comes also into consideration. Patience,

calm surrender is an indispensable condition of deliverance.

Among men at large, according as every one seeks to help him-

self in passionate excitement by means of words or deeds, (the

latter are here particularly pointed to, because the enemies of

the Psalmist sought especially by words, by false accusations, to

destroy him,) he drives away from him the divine help. Hence,

the Psalmist delineates, in ver. 13-15, his patience under the

assaults of the enemy, amid which, trusting in God as the judge

of his cause, he abstains from every passionate justification, every

attempt to maintain by violence his right from those, who can

have no ear for a quiet representation of what they are unwill-

ing to acknowledge.

            Ver. 13. And as a deaf man, hear not, and I am as a dumb

man, who opens not his mouth. Ver. 14. And I am as a man

                    PSALM XXXVIII. VER. 15, 16.                           49


that hears not, and who has no replies in his mouth. Ver. 15.

For upon thee, 0 Lord, do I hope; thou wilt answer, 0 Lord

my God. John Arnd: "This was peculiarly, and in the high-

est sense fulfilled in our Lord Jesus Christ, since he answered.

nothing to his calumniators and accusers during his holy pas-

sion, but remained silent as a lamb that is led to the slaughter,

and as a sheep that is dumb before his shearers and openeth

not his mouth, (comp. Matt. xxvi. 62, 63. John xix. 9.) This

we must also learn to practise: in stillness and confidence is

your strength, Isa. xxx." For the expression as a dumb man,

we are to supply from the special: I hear, the general: I be-

have myself. It may be explained from I Sam. x. 27, where it

is said of Saul, when he was taunted by wicked men, "And he

was as one silent." Luther, in rendering: "but I must be as a

owing  deaf man and hear not," etc., missed the right sense. Accord-

ing to him, ver. 13 and 14 describe, not the patience of the

Psalmist, but the shamelessness of his enemies, who would not

permit him to speak. Ver. 14 is in substance not different

from ver. 13. The apparent tautology is justified by the endea-

yours of the Psalmist to bring clearly out his unimpassioned

stillness, and his renunciation of all dependance on self. This

appears the more in its place, as we have before us here an in-

direct exhortation. Ver. 15 carries back the patience of the

Psalmist to its ground; it is a daughter of faith. He answers

not, because he is convinced that God will answer, whom he

must not forestall. The divine answer is a matter-of-fact one.

After the Psalmist has referred back his stillness and patience

to his conviction, that God will help him, its proper ground, he

shews on account of what he sets his hope in God, and betakes

to him for refuge. He is afraid, that otherwise his enemies will

triumph over him, ver. 16, and while he shews how much reason

he has for this fear, as destruction is so near him, he throws out

in ver. 17-20, a new representation of his sufferings.

            Ver.16. For I speak, that they may not rejoice over me, who,

on the slipping of my foot, lift themselves high against me.

ytrmx, not, I pray, but, I think. Before Np is to be supplied,

it is matter of concern, or it is to be feared, or something similar.

The second half of the verse is a relative clause, which, accord-

ing to Hebrew custom, is but loosely appended. We can either

expound: who, (now already) since my foot slips, (a mark of

misfortune as distinguished from entire ruin) magnify themselves

50                 THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


against me; or, who, when my foot slips, (when I come entirely

down), would magnify themselves against me). The first expo-

sition has on its side Ps. xxxv. 26, where the magnifying of the

enemies belongs not to the feeling of terror, but to the sad ex-

perience, and especially the next verse, where to the slipping of

the foot the halting corresponds.

            Ver. 17. For I am given over to suffering, and my pain is be-

fore me continually. The Psalmist shews how his present posi-

tion justified his fear of the triumph of his enemies: he finds

himself in great misery. The first member is literally: for I am

ready to halt. The being ready cannot just mean, being near;

but is as much as: to the hand, given over, adjudged. For the

halting cannot denote the full ruin, but only the misfortune,

comp. Ps. xxxv. 15, where it is used of a state, in which the

Psalmist already finds himself, not which he dreads; and the

misfortune was not simply near to the Psalmist, but he was al-

ready in it. Elsewhere, also, for ex. Job xii. 5, Nvkn with l, is

used of what already exists. bxkm, pain, not subjectively, but

objectively, therefore entirely corresponding to the biblical halt-

ing. It is before me continually, q. d. it is my inseparable com-

panion, corresponding to this: I am ready. The assertion that

he finds himself in great misery, the Psalmist grounds in ver.

18-20 by recounting his sufferings.

            Ver. 18. For my guilt must I confess, I am sorry for my sin.

The for denotes the relation, not merely of this verse, but of

the whole section ver. 18-20 to. ver. 17. The suffering of the

Psalmist consists primarily in this, that he has come to the

knowledge of his sins, and rues these with poignant regret.—

To this sense of sin there come, besides, the assaults of numerous

and mighty enemies, all the more sensibly, as the Psalmist had

formerly done them good. Ver. 19. And mine enemies live and

are mighty, and many there are who hate me without cause.

Ver. 20. And they that render evil for good are enemies to

me, because that I follow after the good.  The first member of

ver. 19 is literally: and mine enemies, living, are strong.

MyyH cannot be joined as an adj. to ybyx, for it must then have

the article. It contains an entire declaration, as much as: who

are living. While the Psalmist finds himself in a state like to

death, is dead while living, they are living and powerful.

MyyH is quite suitable, whether we refer the vmcf to the qua-

lity, or to the quantity of the enemies; they are strong in num-


             PSALM XXXVIII. VER. 20, 21.—XXXIX.              51


her, in agreement with the second member; and the conjecture

MnH, without cause, is to be rejected. Certainly no one would

have thought of putting in place of this, the more difficult MyyH.

To follow after the good, is not quite the same with well-doing.

It rather denotes a zealous moral striving in general. This

striving, however, in the Psalmist, had specially directed itself 

in respect to his present enemies. Comp. Ps. xxxv. 12. The

rare form of the infin. ypOdr; has been changed by the Masorites

into the common one.

            Ver. 21. Forsake me not, 0 Lord; my God be not far from

me. Ver. 22. Make haste to help me, Lord, my salvation.

Calvin: "In this conclusion he brings shortly together the

whole sum of his wishes and his prayer, viz.: that God would

take up and help him, who had been abandoned by man, and in

every way most wretchedly plagued." The conclusion stands

in designed verbal reference to Ps. xxii. 19. On the expression:

Lord, my salvation, compare this: "say to my soul, I am thy

salvation," in Ps. xxxv. 3.



                                  PSALM XXXIX.


            HARD pressed by the wicked, (comp. ver. 1 and 8), the Psalm-

ist has finally purposed to bear his sufferings in quietness and

patience, and not to transgress by murmuring against God. But

the conflict exceeds his powers, and breaks asunder the cord

with which he had closed his mouth. His compressed heart

takes wing to itself, and he disputes with God, desires impatient-

ly to learn from him the end of his life, and of his afflictions,

and casts up to him the shortness and the nothingness of human

life, ver. 3-6. In reference to this part of the Psalm, there is

force in the remark of Calvin: "It is to be observed, that David,

in this Psalm, does not proclaim his own virtue, while he ex-

presses before God wishes conformable to the life of piety; but

that he rather confesses the fault of his infirmity which had led

him to give way to immoderate grief, and violently dragged him

into disputation with God. In his own person he places before

our eyes a mirror of human weakness, so that we, warned of the

danger, may learn to flee with  all haste under the wings of

God."—But the Psalmist soon raises himself from his fall, ver.


52                 THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


7-13. The faith which had withdrawn into the lowest depths

of his heart, breaks forth when he sees his enemy, doubting

despondency, thus triumphing, and throws it down with the

strong hand of violence. He takes up in heart and mouth the

great word: "And now, Lord, What wait I for? My hope is

in thee," and now it is an easy matter for him to give up all

murmurings and disputings. In the place of these comes now

the affecting, but mild and submissive prayer to the Lord, that

he would still deliver him, who had been deeply bowed under

the sufferings, in which he could not but recognize the righteous

punishment of his sins, and would grant some enlargement to

him before the close of his brief sojourn.

            The Psalm accordingly falls into two parts. The first is

treated by the Psalmist historically. He selects the situation

of such an one as had just been overcome by the temptation,

represents, first, ver. 1-6, what already had passed in him, and

then, in ver. 7-13, what now is passing. The main portion

consists of seven verses.

            Amyrald already notices the remarkable difference between

this Psalm and such as Psalm xxxvii., and endeavours to trace it

up to its source. The thirty-seventh Psalm, says he, David

wrote when in a quiet spirit he reflected on the matter as it

really stands. This Psalm, on the contrary, he wrote, when in

hot persecution and violent conflict. Hence is it that the former

is easy, simple, polished, but in this the reverse; and while it

sets before our eyes the alternating and conflicting thoughts of

the Psalmist, it drags the mind of the reader here and there,

and the deep commotion of spirit, out of which it proceeded,

makes it difficult to be understood.

            It is not to be overlooked, that the Psalm possesses in part an

Old Testament character. While still there was no clear insight

into a future state of being, a long continued state of suffering

must have sunk very deep into the heart. "When a man dies,

will he live again?"—says Job, of whose speech the Psalm con-

tains the germ—"all the days of my war-service will I wait, till

my discharge come." With every day of his short and miser-

able existence was the space narrowing for the display of the

retributive justice and grace of God; and when the powers of

body and of soul began to fail, then the disconsolate thought would

press upon him, that he never would come to partake of the bless-

ing which God had promised to his people—it would scarcely be


                         PSALM XXXIX. VER. 1.                          53


possible to avoid sinking into perplexity and despair. But this

special Old Testament character of the Psalm, far from depriv-

ing the Psalm of its edifying signification for us, rather serves

the purpose of strengthening it. The declaration: My hope

stands in thee, which the Psalmist uttered in circumstances when

it was against all reason to hope, may well put us to shame, who

are easily brought into despair by light and temporal afflictions,

while we have the prospect of an exceeding weight of glory;

and the more that he hoped, while there was the less to hope

for, so much the more readily should our hope be set on fire by

the light of his.

            The superscription runs: To the Song-master, Jedithun, a

Psalm, of David. Jeduthun, from tvdy, laudatio, with the

ending from proper names Nv, or Jedithun, as he is here called,

and in Ps. lxxvii, 1 Chron. xvi. 38, Neh. xi. 7, in order to

avoid the double dark sound, is mentioned in 1 Chron. xvi. 41,

42; xxv. 1, 3, 2 Chron. v. 12, as one of the leaders of sacred

music in David's time. That here after the general: to the

song-master, with which the superscriptions for the most part

content themselves, (comp. on Ps. iv.) there should be added the

particular: Jeduthun, has certainly no practical aim; but is to

be explained from the design of David to honour Jeduthun, and

to hand down his name to posterity, as then the superscriptions

contain nothing, which carried only a temporary signification.

Many would, with an allusion to Nvtvdy lf at the commence-

ment of Psalms lxii. and lxxvii., explain: to the chief musician

of the Jeduthunite, Jeduthun marking, not the individual, but

the musical chorus of Jeduthun. But is never construed with

l, always with lf; the l in the superscriptions is employed

only to designate the author and the chief musician, and on this

very account the lf must have been used for avoiding the

dubiety, even though the connection of Hcn with l had else-

where occurred; quite analogous to Nvtydyl Hcnml, according

to our exposition, is dvdl hvhy dbfl, of the servant of the

Lord, David, in Ps. xviii. xxxvi. Still more arbitrary is the ex-  

position of Gesenius: upon an instrument, or according to a

melody, invented by Jeduthun.

            Ver. 1. I spake, I will keep my ways, that I do not sin with

my tongue, I will keep the bridle in my mouth, while still the

wicked is before me. Calvin: "He knew how many snares


54                    THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


Satan is wont to lay; he therefore looked to the one side and

to the other, and set a watch everywhere, lest some temptation,

stealing in from the right or left, might reach his mind. To

that the avenues were shut on all hands, unless through excess

of grief his steadfastness were violently disturbed and broken

down." On the expression, "I spake," Venema "that is, I

firmly resolved, and prescribed to myself this law." The ways

are the entire compass of the actions, within which are included

also the words; the tongue was that through which the offence

on this special occasion might be committed. Wherein the sin-

ning with the tongue consisted, appears from ver. 4, ss., where the

Psalmist, carried away by the violence of his pain, actually falls

into this sin against his purpose,—not, as some suppose, by an

unseasonable comparison with Ps. xxxvii. 1, xxxviii. 13, 14, in

an intemperate outburst against the enemies, but in an impa-

tient and disrespectful murmuring against God, an expression

of doubt in regard to his righteousness and grace. Exactly

parallel, therefore, are the passages, Job i. 22, "in all this Job

sinned not, and spake nothing foolishly against God," and ii. 10,

"In all this sinned not Job with his lips." To keep the mouth

to the bridle, is as much as to keep it carefully in check. In

the words: while the wicked is still before me, the Psalmist

must, according to several, declare his purpose to guard himself

against unbecoming speech, especially in the presence of his

enemies, in order not to afford them the double triumph of

finding him in despair, which might also draw forth their rail-

ing at his misfortune, and of seeing him sin against his God.

But this exposition is to be rejected, even on this account, that

it does not pay regard to the still, which is hence also left out

for the most part by those who follow this translation. And

then, one does not see how respect to the enemies could be a

reason to the Psalmist for entirely refraining from murmuring

against God, and maintaining the right with him, as the discourse

still indeed manifestly turns on that. For why should this be

done in their presence? We have also the verses beginning at

ver. 3, in which the Psalmist suffers himself to be drawn into

this murmuring, when certainly the enemy could not be

thought of as present. The right view is, rather, that the words

point to what had been able to seduce the Psalmist to sin with

his tongue, what had pressed him hard with the temptation to

this. The wicked, of whom it is said in Ps. xxxvii. 2. "They

                          PSALM XXX1X. VER. 1, 2.                        55


shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green

herb," were still continually before him, though, according to

its import, the words, "He passed away, and lo: he was not, I

sought him, and he was not found," ver. 36, might have been

long in receiving its fulfilment. The wicked is to be thought of

according to the nature of things, and according to ver. 8,

where, in praying, "make me not the reproach of the foolish,"

the Psalmist regards him as his enemy, so that with his con-

tinued existence, the Psalmist's misery was connected. The

best commentary on the expression, "while the wicked is still

before me," is to be found in David's relations during the time

of Saul, which here come the more into consideration, as in no

other had David so much occasion for this still. Certainly

David's conflict at that period stood much as it is here repre-


            Ver. 2. I grew dumb and was still, I was silent, not for good,

and my pain was stirred. The Psalmist says, he had indeed

executed his purpose, declared in the preceding verse, but that

ill had thereby accrued. The obstinate and constrained silence,

so far from producing good, had rather made his pain rise to a

frightful magnitude. In sicknesses of the soul, not less than in

those of the body, whatever hinders the necessary crisis, serves

only to increase the evil. In the state of mind which now be-

longed to the Psalmist, the sinning with the tongue was better

for him, than the merely constrained and legal silence; he

could only through the fall rise again, only through a sinful

speaking could he attain to a proper evangelical silence. Upon

the accus. hymvd prop. I grew dumb in silence, q.d. I grew wholly

and perfectly dumb—see Ew. Large Gr. p. 591, Small Gr. § 486.

In ver. 9, corresponds to the hymvd added here: I opened not

my mouth. The unpleasant consequences of silence are first

expressed negatively, bvFm, far from good, without its having

produced any good effect; then positively: and my pain was

stirred, quickened.  bvFm has been subjected to many false

interpretations. The most general is that which regards the

expression: from good, as an abbreviation for: from good even

to evil, in Gen. xxxi. 24, 29: 2 Sam. xiii. 22, q.d. I kept silence

from all. But such an abbreviation can the less be thought of

since the manner of speech was no vulgar one, as its occurring

in these single places spews. The silence of the Psalmist can

refer only to the evil, and the phrase, from good even to evil

56                   THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


would be unsuitable. In the passages referred to, there is indeed

the expression, not to speak, but not, as here, to be silent, from

good even to evil. Others: I was silent about prosperity, not

demanding this loudly and imperiously, renouncing in a spirit

of resignation my pretensions to it. But this unsuitable mean-

ing is verbally quite inadmissible; the Nm after the verb of

silence never marks the object regarding which it is kept. Others

again: I was perfectly silent of good, although my sufferings

violently drove me to a loud lamentation. But the bono orbus

is tame, and not suitable to the connection.

            Ver. 3. Warm was my heart in my bosom, in my musing the

fire burned, I spake with my tongue. On the two first members

comp. Jer. xx. 9, where it is said of the scorn and enmity of the

world (not, as several, of the impulse of inspiration): "And it

was in my heart as a burning fire, shut up in, my bones, and

was weary with forbearing, and could not do it." The object of

the musing, is the sufferings which the Psalmist had to bear from

the wicked. The expression: with my tongue, refers to ver. 1:

I spake with my tongue, on which I imposed silence. So that the

remark of Koester falls of itself, that we see from this passage,

in which the speech with the tongue is a heartfelt speech, pro-

ceeding from a deep emotion of mind, what is plainly to be un-

derstood by the tongue speeches of the New Testament. Our

words are related to ver. 1, precisely as those in Job iii. 1, "After

this Job opened his mouth, and cursed his day," to chap. ii. 10,

and i. 22.—The Psalmist now in ver. 4-7, which are to be re-

garded as distinguished by inverted commas, communicates the

words which he spake, when he sinned with his tongue.

            Ver. 4. "Make me to know, 0 Lord, my end, and when the

limit of my days will come, I wish to know when I may cease."

The Psalmist impatiently demands of the Lord, to let him know

when his sufferings, and what in his judgment coincides with

these, his life, should come to an end, and complains, as in re-

gard to a great hardship, and terrible iniquity, that it was still

not brought to a close. To this lamentation upon the greatness

and hardship of his extraordinary sufferings, which made death

appear to him as a blessing, its delay as an evil, there very suit-

ably follows in ver. 5 and 6 a lamentation upon the shortness

and nothingness of human life generally. In connection with

this the complaint of our verse first receives its proper strength.

It is frightful, if to poor man his short and fleeting existence.

                        PSALM XXXIX. VER. 4.                             57


which of itself is punishment enough for sin, is besides so em-

bittered, that he must sigh for his end. The same desire for

death, upon the supposition, that the suffering shall only end

with it, and in despair at the return of salvation, is often uttered

by Job, for example, in chap. vi. 8, ss., "Oh that I might have

my request, and that God would grant me the thing I long for;

even that it would please God to destroy me, that he would let

loose his hand and cut me off. What is my strength, that I

should hope? etc."  So also does Job frequently complain of

the disproportion between the greatness of sufferings and the

shortness of human life, comp. for example, chap. vii. 7, "Oh

remember that my life is a breath, mine eye shall no more see

good;" chap. xiv. 1, ss., "Man that is born of woman is of few

days and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is

cut down; he fleeth also as a shadow and continueth not. And

lost thou open thine eyes upon such an one, and bringest me

before thy judgment? Seeing his days are determined, etc."

chap. xvi. 22. From these parallel passages the relation of this

verse to ver. 5 and 6 derives its proper light. By the end we

can either understand the end of life, or the end of suffering.

That the Psalmist combines both into one, that, despairing of

the salvation of the Lord, he looks for the end of his sufferings

only with the end of his life, appears from the second member;

which is literally: and the extension of my day what it, for:

how is it proportioned thereto, what compass has it. But that

we are primarily to think of the end of the sufferings, we gather

from the parallel passage, already cited from Job vi. 12. In the

last number also, literally: Know will I what I ceasing, for what

it has with my ceasing as to circumstance, when that shall at

last take place, (hm never signifies precisely when, here also it

is to be explained after the preceding xyh hm), the Psalmist

asks not when he shall cease, cease to exist, but, as appears

especially from a comparison of Job xiv. 6, when he shall cease

to suffer—which object of the ceasing is very naturally suggested

by the connection. He asks, in the middle, after the end of his

day, only on this account, that he might learn the end of his suf-

ferings; the ah! will come in not earlier, and to this point his

question is directed from the beginning to the close. ldH is

never used of existence, but always in reference to a particular

condition within the limits of existence. The real meaning of

the verse has been for the most part missed by expositors, the

58                THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


occasion of which, as connected with the matter, is this, that the

Psalmist, restrained by a lingering feeling of reverence, is un-

willing to speak fully out, and does not entirely let go the bit,

which, according to ver. 1, he had put in his mouth, but only

holds it less tightly. The canon for putting the exposition to

the proof is this, that the discourse, according to its relation to

ver. 1, on the one hand, (the Psalmist does here what in ver. 1

he had engaged not to do, he sins with his tongue), and to ver.  

9, on the other, (the Psalmist there grows perfectly dumb, so that

his discourse can only have arisen from murmuring impatience),

must necessarily contain a sinful element. Now, by this canon,

we must renounce the current exposition, according to which

the Psalmist must entreat God for the right knowledge of his

frailty, so that he might set his hope only upon him, or even

with an entire abandonment of the Old Testament territory, that

he, despising the temporal with its joys and sorrows, might seek

after what is eternal; "Cause me, 0 Lord, to consider my end,

and what the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I

am." Besides, he, who is plunged in deep distress, has less need

of nothing, than the knowledge of human frailty, and he requires

no special divine instruction in order to obtain it. The Psalm-

ist declares it in the next verse, of his own hand, in as strong lan-

guage as it is almost possible to do. If we only read the book

of Job, we shall everywhere find a superfluity of this knowledge.

In no prayer, as uttered in the Psalms by the pious in affliction,

can a similar petition be pointed out. Finally, this exposition

cannot stand with the words. It arbitrarily substitutes: make

me consider, for: teach me, and renders ldH, which means only

ceasing, by frail.—A mournful lamentation upon the oppressive-

ness of his extraordinary sufferings, follows now upon the short-

ness and vanity of human existence generally, which, perfectly

grounded in the position occupied by the Old Testament saints,

would, with the pious, as soon as they moved out of the region

of quiet resignation, into that of reckoning and contending with

God, be repressed and held down by faith, from the dominion

of which the Psalmist here for a moment emancipates himself,

in order that he might afterwards return the more unreservedly

to it. This faith was, under the Old Testament, a blind one in

the good sense. Were the end of this poor life the end of the

way of God with his own, to whom he had given so many as-

surances of his tender love, then its very shortness could not be

                      PSALM XXX1X. VER. 5, 6.                          59


justified, and especially when viewed in connection with the se-

vere afflictions by which this life is embittered. It is the strong-

est testimony to the vitality and depth of faith under the Old

Testament, that it did not go to wreck on this stumbling-stone.

Whoever is at pains to disfigure or conceal the true position of

matters in this respect, he does not thereby increase the edifying

power of the Old Testament, but diminishes it.

            Ver. 5. "Behold as an handbreadth thou makest my days, and my

life is as non-existence before thee, only for utter vanity was every

man ordained, Selah." The first member literally: Behold spans

hast thou given my days, thou hast made them for spans, my

life only a span long. tvHpF is just as ymy, governed in the

accusative by the verb, and is to be taken in an adverbial signi-

fication.  Nyx never signifies nothing, always rather not-being.

dlH prop. continuance, then life: my life, which has its name

from continuance, as, lucus a non lucendo, is like non-existence,

Comp. on Psalm xvii. 14. The expression: before thee, is not

to be explained by an unseasonable comparison of Psalm xc. 4:

a thousand years are as one day before thee, as if the meaning

were: in comparison of thee; but it brings out what was neces-

sary in the connection, that the appointment proceeded from

God, q. d. under thy direction and by thy disposal. To the ex-

pression in the first member: thou givest, and in the second:

before thee, corresponds  bcn, constitutes est, in the third. This

is necessary to the sense. For here the reference is not to the

mere being, but to the being made (by God.) It is not suitable

to render: every man, who there stands firm, as much as the

firm grounded and prosperous; since here and also in ver. 9 the

discourse is manifestly of the condition of man in general. The

Psalmist would precisely say, that all men without exception

are only an all of vanity. The Selah, which here and also in

ver. 11 occurs after a representation of the nothingness of the

earthly life, is intended to afford time for our brooding over this

deep mournful thought, perhaps also in some sense for God,

that he might lay to heart this doleful lamentation.

            Ver. 6. "Only as an image walks man, only in vain are they

disquieted, he gathers and knows not who will enjoy it."  Mlcb  

prop. in an image, for, as an image, comp. E w. Small Gr. § 521.

The image comes into view only in so far as it has no reality,

no power, no life in itself, but possesses only a shadow of these.

Elsewhere we find in a similar connection shadow, for ex. Ps.

60                    THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


cxliv. 4, "Man is like to vanity, his days are as a shadow, that

passeth away." hmh, to make a tumult, marks the restless

striving and exertions of men. The suff. in Mpsx refers to the

collected whole.

            The tone of the Psalmist now suddenly takes a different air;

all at once a new David steps forth; and it becomes apparent,

that the maxim, "A quarrel between lovers revives love," is true

also in regard to the higher love.

            Ver. 7. And now, whereupon wait I, Lord? I hope in thee.

The now, as in Ps. ii. 10, draws the consequence from what pre-

cedes. It is commonly expounded: Since every thing earthly

is fugitive and transitory. But we must rather expound: Since

thou showest thyself so hard. For it was God's hardness upon

which the Psalmist had complained in ver. 4-6, and the tran-

sitoriness of life he had thought of only in so far as it furnished

an evidence of this hardness. The words: whereupon wait I,

Lord? refer to the supposition, that man cannot exist without

an object of hope. The answer: My hope stands upon thee

comes quite unexpectedly after what had preceded. That the

Psalmist still throws himself into the arms of God, of whose

hardness he had so complained, is a wonder that mocks every

natural explanation.

            Ver. 8. From all my sins deliver me, let me not be a mockery

to the fool. The Psalmist would be delivered from his sins, if

God removed the consequences and punishments, the assaults

of the wicked. The object of the fool's scorn would the

Psalmist be, if God should allow the former to bring him to the

ground. These words, as also the following, "Since the wicked

is still before me," in ver. 1, show clearly, that the external suf-

fering of the Psalmist, his "stroke" in ver. 10, consisted not, as

some imagine, in sickness, of which no trace is to be found in

the Psalm, but rather in the hostile oppression of ungodly men.

            Ver. 9. I am dumb, open not the mouth, for thou hast done it.

J. H. Michaelis remarks excellently, that the discourse here may

be of a composed and evangelical silence, as above of a legal

and constrained one. As the Psalmist continues still to speak

in what follows, the being dumb can only mean his being so in a

determinate respect, that indicated more precisely in ver. 1 and

3, according to which, it points not to speaking against the

enemies, but to speaking against God. Instead of this: thou

past done it, q. d. thou my God, who tenderly lovest thine own,

                 PSALM XXXIX. VER. 10-12.                          61


least laid upon me this suffering, which therefore must be de--

signed, not for destruction, but only for salvation. Luther and.

others falsely: thou wilt order it well. Comp. 2 Sam. xvi. 10.

            Ver. 10. Remove from me thy stroke, through the blow of thy

hand I am consumed. Upon fgn, comp. on Psalm xxxviii. 11.

Ver. 11. When thou chastisest one with rebukes for iniquity,

thou dost consume, as by a moth, what he loves; only vanity are

all men. Selah. What the Psalmist had said in the second

half of the preceding verse, of himself, gives rise here to a

mournful consideration of the human fate in general, a sad ex-

emplification of which was to be seen in him. Through the

woful representation of this miserable state, he hopes to move

God to compassion, under whose hand he humbles himself.

tvHkvt properly marks only correction with words, and is used

of punishments only in so for as they are a sermo realis, a mat-

ter-of-fact, reproof, and correction. smtv, prop. thou makest

to melt, hiph. from hsm. As the moth, in Scripture, is always

the image of annihilation, never the image of evanescence, we

must expound, "as the moth," not, as if it were a moth, but

only as the moth causes to dissolve, or brings to nothing. rvmH

is everywhere a proper part. pass. the desired, loved, q. d. all

wherein he has his joy and satisfaction; and we are not to ren-

der it, his beauty, or his glory. John Arnd " Just as moths

eat a woollen cloth, nay consume the most beautiful garment,

so that it is no more fit for use, though formerly it was ever so

fine; in like manner is it now with man's beautiful form, (taking

the dvmH too narrowly.) When the hand of the Almighty

presses one, and God abandons one for a little, he becomes in a

few days so changed to the worse by anguish of soul and sad-

ness, that no one can know him, as may be seen by the example

of Job, since his friends, that came to visit him in his affliction,

knew him not, and began to weep, and could not for seven days

speak to him, for they saw that his distress was great."

            Ver. 12. Hear my prayer, Lord, and give ear to my cry;

at my tears be not silent, for I am a stranger with thee, a pil-

grim as all my fathers. First, the prayer, then the grounding

of it. On the expression: at my tears be not silent, John Arnd:

"This is the effect of tears, when one sees or hears any one

weeping sadly, one cannot well remain silent, as the Lord Jesus

said. to the woman at Nain: weep not, and to Mary Magdalene:

woman, why weepest thou? This nature teaches us. Now if

62                 THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


a man can scarcely be silent at a person's tears, how much less

the Lord God! Therefore it is said in the lvi. Psalm, that God

numbers the tears of believers, and in the xxvth of Isaiah, that

he will wipe away all tears from our eyes." The prayer is

grounded by pointing to the impotence and helplessness of the

Psalmist, who, not less than all his fathers, has nothing except

what the Lord administers to him, is wholly dependant upon his

compassion, and must perish if this is refused him. A stranger

and pilgrim, (prop. a lodger, tenant, one that dwells upon the

property of another,) has nothing of his own, he is quite de-

pendant upon the goodness of those with whom he lives, is

everywhere on the footing of a beggar. As the fathers of the

people were strangers and pilgrims with the Canaanites, (comp.

Gen. xxiii. 4, where Abraham says to the Hithites: "a stranger

and pilgrim am I with you, give me a possession of a burying-

place,") so after the reception of the land all Israelites were

strangers and pilgrims with the Lord; comp. Lev. xxv. 23,

"For the land shall not be sold for ever, for the land is mine, for

ye are strangers and sojourners with me." They had nothing in

and for themselves, but only in their lord of the manor and patron,

In remarkable agreement with this passage, David says in 1 Chron.

xxix. 15, "for we are strangers before thee, and sojourners,

as all our fathers; our days on the earth are as a shadow, and

there is no hope." This agreement supplies an important proof

of David's being the author of the Psalms, and of the genuine-

ness of the superscriptions generally. This proof cannot be

disposed of by the supposition, that the declaration in Chroni-

cles may have been derived from our Psalm. For it bears there

throughout the character of independence. While here the al-

lusion to the Israelitish nothingness serves as a groundwork to

the prayer for divine help, there it is set against the imagina-

tion, that one can give any thing to God, in order to deserve

anything at his hands. The words: as all my fathers, represent

the relation of the Psalmist, as not an individual, but a general,

national one, (1 Kings xix. 4,) and hence unalterable.

            Ver. 13. Leave off from me, that I may be refreshed, before

I go away, and be no more. The first member, literally; look

away from me, that I may brighten up, q. d. turn away from me

thy angry look, so that my sorrowful one may be made cheerful.

There is no reason for taking the Hiphil of hfw (the form de-

rived here from ffw and of glb, here intransitively. We

                                     PSALM XL.                                        63


are rather to supply to the former: thy countenance, and to the

latter: my countenance. All the words of this closing verse

occur in different places in the book of Job, clearly proving that

the author of that book was acquainted with this Psalm. Comp.

vii. 19, "How long wilt thou not look away from me," xiv. 6,

"Look away from him," x. 20, "That I may brighten up," ver.

21, "Before I go away," vii. 8 and 21, "And am no more."



                                     PSALM XL.


            THE Psalmist announces, that the Lord had granted to him a

glorious deliverance, and thereby much confirmation to his faith,

ver. 1-3, and pronounces blessed, primarily on the ground of

this experience, that man, who has placed his confidence upon

the Lord, while for the farther grounding of this encomium of

bliss, as connected with his personal experience, he rises aloft

to the entire circle of the glorious manifestations of God in the

history of his people, ver. 4, 5. This is what God has done to

the Psalmist. How must he show his gratitude for such kind-

ness?  This question is answered in ver. 6-10. The first pre-

sentation of thanks in ver. 6-8, is by deed. Here God has in all

external gifts, as such, no pleasure, he desires only one thing,

obedience, and to this he has made the heart of the Psalmist

willing. Hence he comes forth ready to do the will of his Lord,

which has been made known to him out of the written law of

God, which with desire he fulfils, because the law does not

merely stand before him as an outward letter, but is written in

his heart. The second presentation of thanks in ver. 9, 10, is

by word: the Psalmist is unwearied in proclaiming what

the Lord has done for him.—But still, though the sufferer

has been fortunately delivered from one great distress, he is al-

ways encompassed by great sufferings and dangers. He there-

fore turns himself in the second part, ver. 11-17, with importu-

nate supplication to the Lord, that he, who, from the tenor

of the first part, had evidently not lavished his gifts on an

ungrateful person, would rescue him from the multiplied troubles

that had come upon him in consequence of his sins, and would

put his enemies to shame, expressing toward the close his con-

fident hope of the fulfilment of his prayer.

            An artificial, formal arrangement, unquestionably presents it-

self to us in this Psalm. The first part, occupying itself with

64                      THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


the divine aid already received, is made good in the number

ten; the second, taking the new aid into consideration, in seven.

The two divisions of the first part, the former representing what

God has done, the other what the Psalmist will do, have each five

verses, thereby appearing as two connected halves. Each of

these divisions again into a subdivision of three, and one of two

verses. In the second part, which takes into account the new

divine help, we find likewise in accordance with the four sub-

divisions of the first part four such, three of two verses, and a

conclusion of one. In the position of the name of God also,

there is evidently design. It is found ten times in the Psalm,

(nine times Jehovah, and once Adonai) five in each of the two

main divisions, which are even by this discovered to be two con-

nected halves, as the two subdivisions of the first part by the

number five of the verses,

            The situation is that of one who, on one side, set free from

a heavy affliction, is still oppressed on the other. The question,

whether for this an individual occasion afforded the ground, is

to be answered in the negative. Especially in the second part,

the not individual character of the Psalm comes clearly out.

The prayers have the standing characteristic which we perceive

in the not-individual Psalms. That the first part has more of a

peculiar caste is to be explained from the circumstance, that it

is taken up with the main thought of the Psalmist, the necessity

of an active expression of thankfulness, as a foundation for ac-

ceptable prayer. After he has brought out this main thought

in striking colours, he surrenders himself to the customary path,

treading very close especially on Ps. xxxv. By so doing he

taught the lesson, that thankfulness is always the groundwork

of prayer, and also brought the first part of the same Psalm into

remembrance, in which that thought was not expressly uttered.

But even the first part bears, with all its peculiarities, undeniable

marks in another respect of a not-individual character. In the

first half, the distress of the Psalmist, from which he was de-

livered by God, is obviously delineated in so general a manner,

that the description suits every great distress. In the second

half, the hortatory tendency is but thinly veiled, and behind the

words: I come, etc., the meaning: thou must come, etc., may

be descried.—This manifest not-individual character of the

Psalm already suffices to disprove the exposition, otherwise ex-

tremely constrained and arbitrary, which Hoffmann gives of ver.

                                  PSALM XL.                                   65


6-8 in his prophecy and its fulfilment. According to it,

these verses contain a meaning, which exclusively applies to


            The direct Messianic exposition, which was very wide-spread

in former times, has but a weak foundation in the quotation of

ver. 6-8 in Heb. x.: and affirmations such as that put forth by

the author himself at the beginning of his career: "there can

be no doubt, that he, who acknowledges the divine authority of

the Epistle to the Hebrews, must decide for the Messianic ex-

position," lose all meaning when a deeper insight has been ob-

tained into the way and manner in which the New Testament,

and especially the Epistle to the Hebrews, handles the decla-

rations of the Old Testament. In the sacrifices, particularly

the sin-offerings, a double element was contained,—what the

man performed in presenting them, and what God imparted

through them. Now, in this Psalm, the subjective side alone is

brought into view, but what is said in reference to them, that

they were not substitutionary, but only representative, that under

their image the man himself, his personal obedience was de-

sired by God, this holds also of the objective. How could they

well be efficacious here in and through themselves, and there only

indicative? As through the sacrifices the personal guiltiness of

men was only figured, not contained, so was also the substitu-

tion through them only represented (the necessity of it indica-

ted, conscience kept alive about it), not provided. So that the

author of the Epistle to the Hebrews could not produce for his

assertion: "it is impossible that the blood of bulls and of goats

could take away sin," a more apposite passage from the Old

Testament than ver, 6-8 of this Psalm, which he puts into the

mouth of Christ at his entrance into the world, and thus makes

him frighten those, who placed a foolish confidence upon the


            The second part of the Psalm returns again with many altera-

tions, as Ps. lxx. Also here, as with Ps. liii. in relation to Ps. xiv.,

with 2 Sam. xxii. in relation to Ps. xviii., everything bears the

mark of intention, nothing of accident. To the design of the un-

dertaking the superscription rykzhl, points, for remembrance,

by which Ps. lxx. is designated as a supplicatory prayer, (comp.

Ps. xxxviii. super.) In Ps. xl. two elements were combined to-

gether, thanks and prayer, which occur also thus combined in

Ps. ix., comp. on the design of such connection, Vol. i. p. 138.

For the good of those who had not already received any mani-

66                      THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


fest tokens of divine grace, and for whom there was needed

only a short form of prayer, the author gave independent exis-

tence to the second part. But he would thereby have us to

understand; that we have before us not an original whole, but

only a selected part of a whole. This he accomplishes by

means of the number five, the sign of incompleteness—the half.

In order to effect this, the two first of the seven verses, which

compose the second part, are cut away, the more striking, as

these stand in immediate connection with the first part.  So

also he makes the names of God complete themselves in the

number five; and changes, for the sake of doing so, the yhlx,

my God, in Ps. xl. 17, which could not be reckoned, because

everywhere those names of God only, which are not burdened,

with suffixes, are taken into account—into Jehovah. The same

purpose also is aimed at in the omission of Hcr, let it please

thee, which gives to the beginning an abrupt character, and to

the whole the nature of a fragment. Besides, there are other

changes. Various words, not absolutely indispensable to the

sense, are dropt, the author being disposed thereby to shew that

he would abbreviate in the little, as he had done also in the great.

The change here could not have occurred by accident, were it only

because the relation between two texts is never a reverse one.

While in Ps. xi. only Jehovah occurs, Ps. lxx. exchanges Jehovah

with Elohim, insomuch that in the first and last verses the rise

is from Jehovah to Elohim; Elohim thus standing at the begin-

ning, and Jehovah at the end, while in verse 4, Elohim is used,

because Jehovah has just preceded. This connection of Jeho-

vak and Elohim, intimating what was so consolatory for the

tempted, that the God of Israel is at the same time the Godhead,

is to be met with also in the speeches of David in the historical

books, comp. my Beitr. Th. II. p. 312, and again in Ps. lxix. at

the close of ver. 32, as., to which, as we shall see by and bye,

Ps. lxx. stands in a very close relation.  Instead of vmwy, they

are benumbed, in Ps. xl., Ps. lxx. has vbvwy, they shall turn back,

give way, an agreeable variation which the undoubtedly original

vmwy must not supplant. Instead of yl bwHy ver. 5 has

yl hwvH, make haste to me, obviously that the close might

point back to the beginning, so that here also we cannot think

of an accident.

            Scarcely even the semblance of an argument has been brought

against David's being the author of both Psalms. The assertion

                        PSALM XL. VER. 1, 2.                            67


of Hitzig, that "whoever the author of Ps. xi. might be, he is

identical with that of Ps. lxix." we admit, but deny that the

latter Psalm contains any thing, which is at variance with its

Davidic authorship, and find in this very internal agreement of

the two Psalms, which the superscriptions attribute to the same

author, an. instance corroborative of the authority of the super-

scriptions. What Hitzig alleges against David, from ver. 7, that

the author must have lived in a time, when people wrote with

reeds and ink on parchment, which he thinks could not be be-

fore Jeremiah's time, has been already set aside by the proof

brought forward in my Beitr. Th. II. p. 489, etc., showing that

the use of skins for writing was the original mode, and that the

Pentateuch was from the first written on polished skins of beasts.

            Ver. 1. I waited for the Lord, and he inclined to me and heard

my cry. The inf. hvq being placed first, brings the action

strongly out: I waited, Ew. Gr. p. 561. This strong emphasis

on the waiting has the force of an admonition; it suggests to

the sufferer, that every thing depends on waiting. Berleb.

Bible: "if we only wait in patience upon God, he will present-

ly manifest himself." As the hmn unquestionably occurs often

in the sense of inclining one's self, there is no reason for sup-

posing an ellipsis: he inclined his ear.  Ver. 2. And drew me

out of the roaring deep and out of the mud, and set my feet upon

a rock, established my goings.  Nvxw has always the meaning

of noise, roaring, even in Jer. xlvi. 17, as is shown by comp.

Amos ii. 2, and Jer. xxv. 31, li. 55; and it is hence arbitrary to

translate with many: pit of destruction, the more so as in Ps.

lxv. 7, Isa. xvii. 12, the word is used of the noise of great waters.

It is urged against the application of this meaning here, that the

water in a pit does not rage and make a noise. But that rvb  

which even occurs of Sheol, Ps. xxviii. 1, is here a figurative 

designation for a water-pit, and that we are not to think of a

cistern, is clear even from Nvxw, also from the comparison of

Ps. lxix. 3, "I came into deep waters, and the floods overflowed

me," and especially ver. 15, "Let not the water-flood overflow

me, neither let the deep swallow me up;" further, from a com-

parison of the parallel passages, such as Ps. xviii. 4, 16; xxxii.

6; cxliv. 7; 2 Sam. xxii. 5; finally, from the circumstance, that,

the rock forms no suitable opposition to a cistern, while it does

so to a deep of raging waters. Hence, by the mud also we must

understand, not a muddy cistern, but the mud of a deep of waters,

68                      THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


in agreement with Ps. lxix. 2, "I sink in deep mire, and cannot

stand." On NvyH FyF comp. the lutulentum coenum of Plautus.

NvyH, which occurs only here and in Ps. lxix., appears to be the

stronger; out of slimy mud. The steps are made firm, when

they receive a sure foundation; comp. the: I cannot stand, in

Ps. lxix. 2.—Ver. 3. And hast given in my mouth a new song,

praise for our God; many will see it and be afraid, and trust

in the Lord. The new song, (comp. on Ps. xxxiii. 3), is not pre-

cisely this Psalm, which is rather to be regarded as only a par-

ticular form of it. The rich new theme admits of many varia-

tions; the new song may divide itself into a multitude of par-

ticular songs. The expression: our God, not my God, prepares

the way for the following: many shall see it, etc. The seeing

goes not upon the new song, but upon the object of that, the

deliverance. As to the substance, he has given me a new song,

is, q. d. he has manifested toward me new acts of kindness. The

fear is, as its connection with the trusting already shows, reve-

rential fear: God's glorious manifestation will fill them with a

holy dread of his majesty, and at the same time with confidence

in him, whose help also they must be looking for. The parono-

masia between vxry and vxryy points to the internal connection

between seeing and fearing, and consequently to the greatness

of the salvation experienced by the Psalmist.

            Ver. 4. Blessed is the man, who sets his hope on the Lord, and

turns not himself to the proud, and such as bend aside to lies,

The Psalmist himself speaks here, not the "many" of the pre-

ceding verse. He draws from his experience, as exhibited in

the preceding verse, the conclusion, that nothing is better and

safer, than to place all his hope in the Lord. HFbm, object of

trust. To turn one's self to any one, is as much as, to take up

with his side, to go over to his party, to espouse his principles;

comp. in Job xxxvi. 21, "turn not thyself to iniquity," and in

Ez. xxix. 16, yrHx hnp. — The proud—the adj. bhArA only here,

—come into consideration here, either as those who place their

confidence upon their own strength, or as those who, in the

proud imaginations of their hearts, put in the place of the

eternal God the workmanship of their own thoughts and hands,

and on that rest their confidence. Fvw, occurring only here,

is equivalent to HFw, to bend aside, deviate. They fall away

from the right object of confidence to the false. Lies marks

here, either everything beside the living God upon which man

                         PSALM XL. VER. 4, 5.                                  69


places his confidence, which belies him that rests upon it, feeds

him with false hopes, his own and other men's power, (comp.

Ps. lxii. 9, "men of low degree are vanity, men of high degree a

lie,") also idols, or it must be understood specially only of the

latter, comp. Jer. xvi. 19. According to the exposition given,

there are placed in opposition to those, who, in the time of

trouble trust in the Lord, those who, misled by high-mindedness,

put their trust upon their own strength, and upon idols, or only

upon the latter. According to many, the expression: to turn

one's self is the same as: to seek help; the proud those, from

whom help is sought, and who must be named lying, because

they cannot afford the aid which they promise. But the proud

manifestly stand in opposition to those, who humbly trust in the

Lord; bzk yFw cannot signify, faithless of a lie, but only the

turning aside of the, = to the, lie: turning aside from God, the

legitimate object of confidence, who alone does not disappoint

the trust placed in him, to a lie.

            Ver, 5. Many makest thou, 0 Lord my God, thy wonders,

and thy thoughts toward us: nothing is to be compared to thee.

I will declare and speak of them; they are not to be numbered.

The ascription of blessedness to those, who place their confi-

dence on the Lord, which the Psalmist derived, in the first in-

stance, from his own experience, he here grounds farther by ris-

ing from the particular to the general, to the larger manifesta-

tions of God throughout the entire history of Israel. A pre-

cisely similar transition from the particular to the general is to

be found in the thanksgiving of David in 2 Sam. vii., which pre-

sents so strong a resemblance generally to the first part of this

Psalm:  "For there is none like thee, neither is there any God

besides thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears,"

etc. ver. 22-24. The words: and thy thoughts towards us,

are in the nom. absol., and it is in reference to his thoughts

toward Israel that God is designated as incomparable. The

j`rf is inf., literally: not is to be put on a footing with thee.

Many expositors, after Luther: Great are thy wonders, and thy

thoughts toward us. But then we have a trailing period; the

parallelism is destroyed; the thoughts must be characterised

more minutely than as being salutary; the last words refer im-

mediately to the wonders and thoughts, which can therefore not

be separated from them by a parenthesis.

70                      THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


            The Psalmist declares, in the second half of the first part,

how he would show his gratitude for the goodness manifested

toward him.

            Ver. 6. Sacrifices and meat-offerings please thee not, ears hast

thou dug through for me, burnt-offerings and sin-offerings thou

desirest not. At the beginning and at the end, the Psalmist

rejects a false way of presenting thanks, and in the middle he

places the right one, acceptable to God. In what respect it is

said here, that God did not wish sacrifices, since he had express-

ly commanded them, appears from the contrast. The presenta-

tion of offerings is set over against obedience, the willing per-

formance of the divine command. Offerings, therefore, are

thrown away in so far as they form a compensation for this, in

so far as they would, in a manner satisfy, put off God. It is not

such offerings that are demanded in the law. It is rather the

caricature, which the natural man makes of them, always seek-

ing to get rid of the most difficult of all sacrifices. Comp. on

Ps. L. Those have quite erred from the right view, who have

supposed, that offerings are here not absolutely rejected, but

only placed in subordination to obedience. Offerings are either

of no worth, or exactly the same as obedience. Not a mere de-

preciation, but rather an unconditional rejection of offerings is

also to be found in 1 Sam. xv. 22, to which the expositors in

question refer: "behold to obey is better than sacrifices, (which

indeed are nothing worth,) and to hearken than the fat of

lambs." With perfect justice does the Berleb. Bible add

besides: "And so also, in regard to words and prayers, and all

outward services, without the obedience of faith." Offerings

come into consideration only as a species in the genus, comp.

Isa. where, along with this, many other kinds are expressly

named. As to the particulars, the sacrifice Hbz, here as often

=Mymlw, peace-offerings, united into a pair with the unbloody

offering, hHnm, the symbolical representation of good works,

(comp. Beitr. P. p. 649, 650,) because both belong to those,

who are already justified and pardoned; sin-offerings and burnt-

offerings are placed together because they have this in common,

that the offerer partook of no part of them.—We turn now to

the middle member. Several commentators explain: ears hast

thou dug to me, supporting themselves by this, that Mynzx has

not the article, and that hrk signifies to dig, and not to dig

through. But the want of the article in poetry is very common,

                                PSALM XL. VER. 6.                               71


comp. for ex, in Nzx itself, Isa. 1. 5, and so small a modification of

The meaning may very readily obtain, especially in the poetic

style. We might, however, say: thou hast dug to me the ears, for

dug through. But it is to be urged against this, that the supposi-

tion that Mynzx marks here precisely spiritual ears, in opposition

to bodily ones, runs counter to all analogy, and that in the re-

lated modes of expression Nzx Htp, Nzx hlg, the discourse is

always of the ear. We can then understand the expression

thou hast dug through the ears to me, in a twofold manner,

Many take it thus thou makest me to understand, to discern,

thou givest me an internal revelation on the point, that sacrifices

are not well pleasing in thy sight. But, according to others,

the Psalmist must in these words, place the obedience, to which

he was internally drawn by God, in contrast to sacrifices, q. d.

thou hast made me hearing, obedient. Against the first exposi-

tion, and for the second, the following reasons are decisive: 1

The subsequent context requires, that in this verse it should be

contained, not merely what God does not desire, but also what

he does desire. 2. The doctrine that sacrifices, as opus opera-

tum, are of no value, cannot be indicated as the object of a

special revelation. It is, as Stier justly remarks, "a truth,

from the first openly declared to Israel, although certainly not

received by many." No Israelite of real piety was in doubt upon

this subject. 3. Precisely the same contrast between obe-

dience and sacrifices exists in the parallel, probably ground pas-

sage, 1 Sam. xv. 22: "And Samuel said, Hath the Lord delight

in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as that one should hearken to the

voice of the Lord? Behold, to hearken is better than sacrifice,

and to attend than the fat of lambs." The exposition of obe-

dience is likewise confirmed by the parallel passage, Jer. vii. 22,

33: "For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them;

in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, a word

of burnt-offerings and sacrifices, but this word did I command

them, obey my voice, . . . and walk ye in all the ways which

I have commanded you," compare ver. 24 "but they hearken-

ed not, nor inclined their ear." See also a similar contrast in

Hosea 6, Ps, 16, 17.—The LXX. have rendered the words

by sw?ma de> kathrti<sw moi, but a body hast thou prepared for me,

and the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews has adopted them,

because the thought is not altered by this translation. The

contrast there also is the presentation of thanks through the

72                   THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


whole life and conduct, in opposition to single and merely

external offerings: thou hast given me a body, so that I will-

ingly serve thee in the execution of thy will. Compare the

words: Lo, I come, in ver. 7.

            Ver. 7. Then I said: Lo, I come, in the volume of the book

it is prescribed to me.  Then, under these circumstances, since

thou dost not desire offerings, but obedience, and hast made me

internally willing to perform what is desired, I come, in order

to do what is well pleasing to thee. The second member points

to this, that the Psalmist, in his readiness to do the will of God,

has the means furnished him, through which he can recognise

this will with security, and in its whole compass, through which

he is taken out of the region of his own imaginings in this re-

spect; in the written law of God, it is told him, what is good,

and what his God desires of him, so that he has no need to

speculate and make curious inquiries, but can proceed straight

to action. As God has given him the inclination to obedience,

so has he also given him a law for that. The volume, or roll-

book, is the Pentateuch, which from the first was written on

parchment. The ground which some have found against the

reference to the Pent., from the want of the article, is of no

force, since the article is more rare in poetry, which is fond of

brief and ornate expressions, than in prose, and might the more

readily be dispensed with here, since, in the time of David, when

no other sacred book existed, every one would at once under-

stand what was meant by the roll-book. btk with lf prop.

to write over any one, therefore to write, that the thing written

lies upon him, occurs in 2 Kings 13 in a quite similar con-

nection in the sense of prescribing:  "Because our fathers have

not hearkened to the words of this book, to do according to all

that is written upon us," vnylf bvtkh lkk.  Parall. pass. are

Josh. i. 7, "That thou mayest observe to do according to all

this law, which Moses, my servant, commanded thee," and 1

Kings ii. 3, where the dying David says to Solomon, "That

thou walk in his ways, and keep his commandments . . . . as it

is written in the law of Moses." These parallel passages, as also

the connection, decide against the exposition of the Messianic

interpreters: it is written of me. The exposition of De Wette:

I come with the book-roll written to me in the heart, destroys

the parallelism, leaves the parallel passage without considera-

tion, and is contrary to all analogy, since it is often said of the

                         PSALM XL. VER. 8.                                73


law itself, that it is written in the heart or interior, but not of

the law-book, that it is written upon men. The exposition of

Gesenius: "Lo, I come with the book's roll, which has been

prescribed to me," likewise destroys the parallelism, and leaves

the parallel passages unnoticed; then it refers what is written to

the book, instead of making it refer, as it should, according to

this view, to the roll; finally, it cannot be said of the book, that

it has been prescribed, at least no parallel passage is anywhere

to be found.

            Ver. 8. To do thy will, my God, I delight, and thy law is in

my inner part, prop. within my bowels. But these denote the

innermost, in opposition to the exterior. To be convinced how

groundless the opinion of Hoffmann is, that l in tvWfl could

not be dependent on ytcpH, which would have b with it,

we have only to cast a glance at Ps. cxliii. 10, and the places

cited by Gesenius, in his Thes. p. 507. The law in the in-

wards of the Psalmist forms the contrast to that which had been

externally prescribed to him.  Where matters are as they

should be, there the law is not merely prescribed, but also in-

scribed. The Messianic expositors have maintained, that the

substance of the verse is not applicable to David, who presently

complains, that his sins are more numerous than the hairs of his

head: and Jeremiah, in chap. xxxi. 33, disclaims the writing of

the law in the heart as belonging to the old covenant, and

speaks of it as peculiar to the new. Tholuck still thinks, that

the Spirit of God had, in a hallowed hour, put words into the

Psalmist's mouth, which, in the full sense, could be used by

no one but the Son of God. But to have the law of God in the

heart, and to sin is no contrast, else would the promise respect-

ing the new covenant in Jeremiah not have been fulfilled.

That the distinction between the old and the new covenants in

this respect was only a relative one, has been shown in my Chris-

tology, P. p. 577, ss. But we cannot rob the old covenant

of the writing of the law in the heart, without making its mem-

bers destitute of all true and living piety; and consequently

being put to the blush by such persons as David and many others.

Already in Deut. vi. 6, it is said: "And these words, which I

command thee this day, shall be upon thy heart," (not merely

upon the stones, Deut. xxvii. 3, and upon the book-roll.) David

describes, in Ps. xxxvii. 31, the righteous as one, in whose heart

the law of his God is. Solomon directs in Prov. iii. 3, vii. 3:

74                THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


"Write them (the commandments) upon the table of thy

heart." In Isa. li. 7, God addresses the people, in whose heart

is his law.

            With the giving of thanks by deeds must also be coupled the

doing of it by words. Ver. 9. I preach righteousness in the

great congregation; lo, I will not close my lips, 0 Lord, thou

knowest. Ver. 10. Thy righteousness I conceal not in my heart,

of thy faithfulness and thy salvation I speak, I conceal not thy

loving-kindness and thy truth from the great congregation. It

may seem, on a superficial consideration, as if David used here

too many words. But they will judge quite otherwise, who

understand the natural coldness of the human heart, its luke-

warmness in the praise of God, its forgetfulness and unthank-

fulness, and the inclination of the lazy mouth to silence. For

such every word here will be as a sharp arrow in the heart.

qdc, in ver. 9, is to be distinguished from hqdc in ver. 10,

thus, that the first marks the merely being righteous, showing

one's self righteous, as that was here brought in, while the lat-

ter marks righteousness as a fixed property, compare Ew. Large

Gr. p. 313. The: 0 Lord, thou knowest, points to the fact,

how easily one can deceive himself and others, by the imagina-

tion and the appearance as to his readiness for the praise of

God. Let each consider, whether he can, with a good con-

science, appeal in this respect to the testimony of God.

            The second part begins now, in which the building of the

prayer raises itself upon the foundation laid in the first part.

Ver. 11. Do Thou, 0 Lord, withhold not from me thy tender

mercies, let thy loving-kindness and thy truth continually pre-

serve me. Ver. 12. For innumerable evils compass me about,

my transgressions have taken hold upon me, so that I cannot see,

they are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart has fail-

ed me. In the relation of the "withhold not," to the "I will

not withhold," in ver. 9, there is expressed the doctrine, that

the measure of the further salvation proceeds according to the

measure of thankfulness for the earlier. This internal reference

of the second part to the first, serves also for a proof against

those who think that the second part was appended by another

hand. The second part is properly that, to which the other

points. The didactic aim of the whole is to shew, how we may

pray acceptably in the time of distress. This can only be done

by the prayer having thankfulness for its foundation, first mani-

                         PSALM XL. VER. 11, 12.                         75


festing itself in the walk, and then in acknowledgment. As the

expression, "withhold not," refers to "I will not withhold,"

so the words: "let thy loving-kindness and thy truth continu-

ally preserve me," point back to: “I will not conceal thy lov-

ing kindness and thy truth,” with which the Psalmist had closed

his promise of thanksgiving. That we will not conceal God's

loving-kindness and truth, is the sure means, but also the indis-

pensable condition of its further manifestation in our experience.

Jpx with lf is stronger than ynvppx in Ps. xviii. 4, as has al-

ready been remarked by Calvin:  "he says, that he is not only

surrounded on all sides, but that a mass of evils lay upon his

head."  tvnvf signifies here, as always, not punishments, but

transgressions, which, however, overtake the sinner in their

consequences, so that in substance: my transgressions, etc., is

as much as: the punishments for my transgressions; comp. Dent.

xxviii. 15, "all these curses shall come upon thee and overtake

thee," 1 Sam. xxviii. 10. That the Psalmist speaks here of his

numerous offences, and treats of his suffering as the righteous

punishment of these, forms an irrefragable proof against the di-

rect Messianic exposition. This cannot derive support from Isa.

liii. For here there is no word to indicate, that the offences,

which the sufferer describes as his, were only those of others

laid to his charge. And of such we can the less think, on ac-

count of the many almost literally agreeing parallel passages in

the Psalms, where personal sins alone can be thought of, and

especially on account of the repetition in Ps. lxx. The expres-

sion: I cannot see, many expound: I cannot survey them. But

against this there is the want of the suffix, and the circumstance

that to see cannot mean to look over, or survey. The argument,

which is derived from the assumed parallel: they are more than

the hairs of my head, is nothing; for this corresponds to the

expression: without number; as: I cannot see; to: my heart

has failed me. The right view was already given by Luther in

his gloss: "that my sight gives way under great sorrow." The

expression elsewhere always marks the failure of the eyesight,

comp. 1 Sam. iii. 2, "his eyes began to be dim, and he could

not see," iv. 15; 1 Kings xiv. 4. Such a darkening of the visage

takes place under deep pain, which exhausts all the powers,

comp. Job xvi. 16, "lighten mine eyes," Ps. xxxviii. 10, "the

light of mine eyes is gone from me." The heart is here not exact-

ly the feeling, spirit, but is rather considered as the seat of the

76               THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


powers of life. "My strength faileth me," in Ps. xxxviii. 10, is


            Ver. 13. Be pleased, 0 Lord, to deliver me, Lord hasten to

me for help. Ver. 14. Let them be ashamed and abashed to-

gether, who seek after my soul to destroy it; let them recoil back-

wards and be put to shame, who have pleasure in my misfortune.

Ver. 15. Let them be confounded for their shame, who say to me:

there, there. Ver. 16. Let all those rejoice and be glad in thee,

who seek thee: let them say continually: great is the Lord, who

love thy salvation. As ver. 13 and 14, so also these two form

a pair. The petitions stand in the two pairs of verses in reverse

order; the first: deliver me, then: put to shame my enemies;

here first: put to shame my enemies, then: give to me and to

all those, who in heart sigh after thee and thy favour, occasion

of joy through thy salvation. These two pairs form the kernel

of the second part. They are shut in by the introduction in

ver. 11 and 12, and the conclusion in ver. 17. Upon bqf lf,

on account of, comp. the lex. and on the words: who say to

me, there, there, Ps. xxii. 7; xxxv. 21, 25. On ver. 16, see Ps.

xxxv. 27.

            Ver. 17. And I am poor and needy, the Lord will care for

me, my help and my deliverer art thou: my God tarry not. John

Arnd: "Thou art my help in heaven, because I have no helper

and deliverer on earth. Therefore delay not. I know, thou

wilt choose the right time, and not neglect me. For this our

faith certainly concludes: God cares for thee, hence he

choose the right time, and will not unduly delay."



                                  PSALM XLI.


            HE, who shows tender compassion to the unfortunate, wins

for himself thereby the divine blessing, deliverance, when mis-

fortune overtakes him, preservation from the rage of his enemies,

restoration when he has been brought by grief to the bed of

sickness, ver. 1-3. The Psalmist, who always has a heart full

of compassion, finds himself in a position, which occasions and

justifies him in laying claim to the reward appointed to the love

of compassion. He finds himself in misfortune, and malicious

enemies surround him, who anxiously wish for his destruction,

and seek with all their powers to accomplish it, ver. 4-9.  So

                                PSALM XLI.                                      77


that he turns himself to the Lord with a prayer for help, and,

consoled by the assurance thereof, gives utterance at the close

to his joyful expectations concerning it, ver. 10-12.

            The formal arrangement is the same as in Ps. ii. The whole

is completed in the number twelve, and falls into four strophes,

each of three verses.

            According to the current supposition, the sufferer in the Psalm

must have been in violent sickness. But there is no reason for

supposing sickness here to be an independent thing, or even the

chief trouble of the Psalmist; it rather comes into consideration,

as in the Psalms generally, as the attendant merely of the as-

saults of the wicked, The expression in ver. 3, "the Lord will

strengthen him on the bed of languishing," is preceded, in ver.

2, by "give him not into the will of his enemies." The ene-

mies appear in ver. 5-9, not simply as malicious spectators of

the suffering, which, independently of them, the Psalmist was

enduring, but they take pleasure in their own work, and seek

by further machinations to accomplish it: they gather materials

for mischievous slanders, ver. 6, meditate evil against the Psalm-

ist, ver. 7, rejoice in the knavish trick, from which they confi-

dently expected his entire destruction, ver. 8, and lifted up the

heel against him, ver. 9. In the prayer, vet. 10, and the ex-

pression of confidence, that it would be heard, ver. 11, mention

is only made of victory over the enemies, which would at once

put an end to the whole suffering of the Psalmist.

            The kernel of our Psalm is contained in Ps. xxxv. 13, 14,

which is the more deserving of consideration, as the second part

of the preceding Psalm bears throughout a reference to that

Psalm. The ground-thought is this, that he who is compassion-

ate, will receive compassion, that he who has the consciousness

of having wept with the weeping, may console himself with the

assurance, that his own weeping shall be turned by God into

laughing. The Psalm has therefore a very individual aspect, it

opens up to the suffering a remote and hidden source of con-


            The penmanship of David is testified by the superscription,

and he certainly speaks here from his own experience. Assur-

edly his tender and loving heart was often impelled to embrace

the wretched; assuredly was his confidence, in the time of his

own wretchedness, often awakened thereby in the divine com-

passion, and often had this confidence verified itself in his

78                 THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


experience. But the Psalm nowhere contains any individual

traits, which might justify the supposition, that he had an eye

to some particular period of his life: it rather bears, if we look

away from the form, the character of a didactic Psalm, and the

"I" of the Psalm is not the Psalmist, but the righteous sufferer.

The more readily, therefore, might the Lord appropriate to

himself in John xiii. 18, and elsewhere, the ninth verse of this

Psalm so expressly and unconditionally—he, in whom the idea

of the righteous one realized itself, who could first say, with

perfect truth, "Blessed is he that considereth the poor," in

whom the two factors of the divine deliverance, viz. divine com-

passion guaranteeing divine help, and the rage of enemies jus-

tifying the sufferer in laying claim to it, existed in a strength,

which they did never before or since, and in whose case espe-

cially, the trait contained in ver. 9 was most strikingly realised.

The direct and exclusive Messianic exposition, to which many of

the older expositors were drawn by these considerations, is al-

ready refuted by ver. 4, where the righteous recognizes in his

sufferings a just punishment for his sins.

            Ver. 1. Blessed is the man, who acts wisely toward the poor;

in the day of distress the Lord will deliver him. Ver. 2. The

Lord will keep him, and keep him in life; he will be blessed in

the land, and thou wilt not give him to the will of his enemies.

Ver. 3. The Lord will assist him on the bed of sickness; all his

couch dost thou change in his sickness. According to the com-

mon view, the Psalmist must be regarded as beginning with

eulogizing the blessed state of the compassionate, "because he

had experienced the precisely opposite treatment, malice and

scorn." We, on the contrary, would rather supply to his first

who here points out his right to the divine help in the time of

distress, shews ver. 4-9, that such a time now existed, and.

words: as I have done, and refer every thing to the Psalmist,

in ver. 10-12, first lays claim to the help, and then expresses

his confidence in obtaining it. In the current exposition, the

three first verses appear as a pure hors d'oeuvre, which might

be cut off without prejudice to the main thought, as a moral re-

flexion standing irrespective of that, and as such, most unsuit-

ably placed at the commencement; the individual character of

the Psalm, which according to our view, presents itself to us in

this very commencing verse, is thereby completely destroyed:

in the ground-passage Ps. xxxv, 13, 14, the Psalmist is himself

                         PSALM XLI. VER. 1-3.                         79


the merciful and compassionate one; the affecting passage:

thou wilt not give him to the will of his enemies, is then only in

its proper place, when the seemingly general declaration refers

to the Psalmist. John Arnd remarks on the sentiment in ver. 1:

“A gracious, compassionate, and beneficent heart wishes and

wills, that it may go well with all men, as God himself cordially

grants such to us. On this account also, does the Lord so re-

compense again all good people with such blessings, that

it may also go well with them, for what a man sows, that

will he reap, and what he seeks, that will he find. Strive

and labour after compassion, and so wilt thou find it; if

thou wilt sow the reverse, thou shalt certainly reap the

same. Such also is the case with the inner man of the heart,

for if in faith thou lost exercise goodness and compassion, the

heart is united in peace and quietness with God and in God.”

lykWh expositors take for the most part in the sense of attend-

ing to, but the more common meaning, and that which lies near-

er the radical one, of acting prudently, wisely, (comp. for ex-

ample, Ps. ii. 10; 1 Sam. xviii. 14; Jer. xx. 11; xxiii. 5), is here

more suitable and also recommended by the lx. Wherein the

acting prudently consists, in the manifestations of a tender fel-

low-feeling, Ps. xxxv. 13, 14 shows us, and in an opposite line

of conduct to that pursued by the enemies of the Psalmist, as

described in ver. 5-9.  ld signifies properly, thin, lean, slender,

and then designates him, who finds himself in a depressed situa-

tion, with whom matters go ill and hard.—Instead of rwxy, the

marginal form is rwaxuv;, the pref. with the cop. One feels of-

fended at, the want of connection. That lx cannot stand for

xl, is self-evident. But on this account the preceding and fol-

lowing fut. are not to be regarded in the light of opta. The

Psalmist turns himself suddenly to the Lord, and entreats him

to grant that, which he does according to what precedes and

follows, Upon wpnb Ntn see on Ps. xxvii. 12.-- bkwm is never

the act of lying, the lying down, but always signifies a couch or

bed; the couch stands here for the state of the sick; God changes

his couch of pain and sickness into one of convalescence and joy,

and that entirely; Berleb. Bible: "let it be as afflicted and

miserable as it may." It is further remarked there, in suitable

reference to ver. 5, ss.: "Thou wilt not permit it to go accord-

ing to the wish of the spectators, who come to see, whether he

80                  THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


will soon die, and what will happen after his death, but wilt help

him up again, contrary to all expectation."

            The Psalmist, who with perfect right could appropriate to

himself the words: "Blessed is he who acts wisely towards the

poor," goes on to mention, in two strophes, that now it was the

day of distress for him, now the rage of his enemies was boiling

against him, now he was prostrated in pain, so that it was time

for him to receive the fulfilment of the promise: he will deliver

him, etc.

            Ver. 4. I spake: Lord be gracious to me, heal my soul; for I

have sinned against thee. Ver. 5. My enemies speak evil of me;

when will he die, and his name perish? Ver. 6. And when he

comes to behold, he speaks deceit, his heart—he gathers mischief

to himself he goes out and speaks. The Psalmist says: I spake,

not: I spake, because he here appropriated that to himself,

which, in the preceding context, had been ascribed in the gene-

ral to the merciful, q. d. I find myself now in a situation for lay-

ing claim to the salvation appointed to the merciful. That

the Psalmist desires salvation for his (much oppressed) soul,

shews, that the state of bodily distress only proceeded from

sorrow and grief. If the soul was healed through the appoint-

ment of salvation, deliverance from the enemies, the body would

presently again become sound. In the words: for I have sinned

against thee, the Psalmist announces the cause, on account of

which he needed healing. The connection between sin and

suffering is so intimate, according to the scriptural mode of

contemplation, that the expression: I have sinned, is sufficient

to convey the thought: I have in consequence of my sins be-

come miserable.  This misery is next described more particularly

in what follows.—The yl, in reference to me, as concerns me.

fr not simply evil, as hfr in ver. 7, but evil in the moral

sense: in malice they speak so, as follows. The Psalmist, in

consequence of their assaults upon his body and soul, is miserable

and broken, so that they are in hopes of his speedy dissolution,

which they could hardly have expected otherwise, and accord-

inc, to what follows, seek to hasten forward through the con-

tinued manifestation of their malice. In ver. 6 the subject is

the ideal person of the wicked. To behold, namely, how it goes

with me. He speaks deceit, hypocritical assurances of love and

sympathy. We must not expound: his heart gathers, but:

his heart, what concerns his heart, in opposition to the friendly

                             PSALM     XLI. VER. 7-9.                       81


mouth, he gathers mischief to himself. For the gathering can-

not be fitly attributed to the heart, and it is, even beforehand,

probable, that the wicked is the subject of the expression: he

gathers, as he is in the three remaining members of the verse.

Mischief, i. q. matter for malicious calumnies. He goes out,

speaks, scattering things among the people, when he has left

me, and using also his tongue against me.

            Ver. 7. All who hate we, whisper with each other against

me, meditate evil against me. Ver.8. A knavish device over-

hangs him, and he who lies down, will not rise up again. Ver.

9. Also my friend, whom I trusted, who ate my bread, lifts

against me the heel. yl hfr, evil to me, q. d. evil, which is

destined for me, which they would bring upon me. The eighth

verse contains the words, with which the enemies betray their

joy at the plan, which they hatched against the sufferer, and

through which they confidently hope to give him, already pro-

strate in distress,the last push. Compare Ps. lxiv. 6. The first

member, literally: a matter of mischief is poured upon him.

lfylb always signifies unprofitableness, in the moral sense,

worthlessness, compare on Psalm xviii. 4, and consequently the

discourse here can only be of a knavish device, not of any thing

directly pernicious. That the enemies themselves call the mat-

ter by the right name, is quite accordant with their moral posi-

tion. The expression: poured on him, for, hanging close on

him, so that he can by no possibility get free of it, receives

lustration from Job xli. 15, 16. The lying down refers to the

condition in which the Psalmist was already placed. That he

should not again rise up, they hoped to accomplish by the

knavish trick--My friend, prop. my peace-man. Ven.: "he

who, on visiting me, continually saluted me with the kiss of love

and veneration, and the usual address: peace be to thee." The

saying, "Hail Rabbi, and kissing him," Matt. xxvi. 49, may fitly

be compared here. The peculiar expression: the peace-man,

Jeremiah has appropriated to himself, from his predilection for

expressions of the kind, chap. xx. 10, xxxviii. 22, whence Hitzig,

by inverting the relation, concludes that Jeremiah had composed

this Psalm. The deduction added: in whom I trusted, (which

our Lord omits, as not suitable in his case, thereby furnishing

an evidence against the direct Messianic interpretation,) who

ate my bread, denotes the friend as one, who lived on a footing

of confidence with the Psalmist, to whom the latter had given

82                         THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


many proofs of his love, who owed everything to him, and con-

sequently serves to show the greatness of the heart distress, the

delineation of which reaches the highest point immediately be-

fore the prayer is entered on. The eating of the bread may be

illustrated from 2 Sam. ix. 11, "As for Mephibosheth, he shall

eat at my table as one of the king's sons," compare ver. 13, xix.

29, 1 Kings xviii. 19. It is falsely referred by most to the in-

terchange of hospitality, so that it might have been: whose

bread I ate. The participle besides points to something con-

tinued. In Judas the expression: who ate my bread, receives

its full, its frightful truth, while he participated in the feast of

the Supper. He lifts up the heel against me, as a horse that

kicks at his master.—The personal relations of David, as toward

Ahitophel, 2 Sam. xv. 12, 31, clearly form the ground of the

representation in the verse, though we are not therefore to

think of an individual reference.

            There follows now in the last strophe, the prayer growing out

of the position of matters as described in the preceding con-

text, ver. 10, and the confidence of its fulfilment, ver. 11, 12.

            Ver. 10. And thou, Lord, be gracious to me, and help

me up, so will I requite them. Ver. 11. By this I know,

that thou hast delight in me, that my enemy shall not exult

over me. Ver. 12. And I—because of my blamelessness thou

dost uphold me, and dost place me before thy countenance

ever. The expression: "be gracious to me," is taken again

from ver. 4, after a foundation has been laid for it in the pre-

ceding verses. The "help me up," has respect to "he that

lies down, will not rise up again," in ver. 8. In the words: so

will I requite them, (falsely several: in order that I may requite

them,) many expositors have failed to discover the meaning,

The purpose of requiting his enemies, which the Psalmist here

declares, appears to clash with Matth. v. 39, 40, with David's

own fundamental principle, Ps. vii. 4, and practice,—he frankly

forgave a Shimei, 2 Sam. xis. 24—with Prov. xx. 22, "Say not

thou, I will recompense evil," and with many other declarations

in the Old and New Testaments. Various expedients have been

resorted to for the occasion: many of the older expositors, as

Calvin, conclude from these words, that it is not David that

speaks here, but Christ, to whom vengeance belongs: others call

to mind David's kingly office, not considering that an exclusive

reference to David is inconsistent with the entire character of

                           PSALM XLI. VER. 10-12.                     83


the Psalm: according to Stier the author speaks here in the

"friendly-ironical style," and the recompense he meditates,

must consist in shewing forgiveness and favour. But the pas-

sage will at once be harmonized with those apparently opposed

to it, if we distinguish between recompense from revenge, which

the injured individual as such, seeks and exercises, and recom-

pense in the service of God, in vindication of the goods and

rights confided to us by him, Only the first is reprobated in

both Testaments, while the last is every where recommended. It

not merely belongs to one in whose person a high office conferred

by God has been insulted, as with David respecting Shimei, to

whom, for reasons extraneous to the matter, he granted a tempo-

rary impunity, but delivers to his successor for punishment, 1

Kings ii. 9, as also the Lord in the parable, Luke xix, 27, de-

clares how he would execute vengeance on his enemies, and has

fearfully done so;—but the private individual also often comes

into relations, in which he is not merely warranted, but also

bound to requite. No one would be so unreasonable as to adduce

against the father, who chastises his froward son, when guilty

of flagrant disobedience, Matth. v. 39, 40, when only he does not

abandon his just right from personal fondness. Just as little

should he be blamed who drags into judgment, or even casts

into prison, the malicious defamer of his honour, which every

man is bound sacredly to preserve, because without it he can-

not fulfil the purposes of his life, the less so, as such conduct is

the true manifestation of love also to the calumniator himself,

so that the maxim: viri boni est prodesse quibus potest, nocere

nemini, quanquam lacessiti injuria, sustains no damage thereby.

To offer to the person who gives us a stroke upon the right

cheek the other also, may, so soon as it is done, not merely with,

the heart, but in outward act too, in certain circumstances, be

the most unkind hardness. Between ver. 10 and 11 lies the

great fact of the assurance of being heard. Through the cer-

tainty of victory, which the Lord imparts to the Psalmist, when

every thing appears to him to be lost, he is strengthened in the

conviction of God's gracious satisfaction in him, "which the

enemies would dispute with me," (Berkb. Bible.) That my

enemy shall not exult over me, namely, as thou hast given me in-

ternal assurance thereof.—The expression: and I, is used in

contrast to the enemies devoted to destruction. Mt never

signifies well-being, but always in a moral sense, blamelessness.

84                        THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


This is here the cause, in which the divine administration of

help rests, compare Psalm xviii. 20. The contrast between, "in

my blamelessness," and "I have sinned against thee," in ver. 4,

is only an apparent one. This very blamelessness is burdened

with much weakness. On account of this he is visited with

manifold, and often very severe sufferings, but the blamelessness

prevents entire destruction. The person, whom God "places

before himself," is an object of his protection and watchfulness;

compare Ps. vii. 15, "I will behold thy face in righteousness."

            Ver. 13. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from eternity

to eternity, Amen. Amen is no component part of the Psalm,

but the doxology, which forms the close of the first book. Com-

pare 1 Chron. xvi, 36.


                               PSALMS. XLII.  XLIII.


            SEPARATED from the sanctuary, in circumstances which con-

strain him to recognize therein the mark of God's desertion, the

Psalmist expresses his lively desire, that access to the sanctuary,

and through that to the grace of God, might be again thrown

open to him, His pain is still further increased by the scorn of

his enemies, who, from his misery, and especially from his exile

from the sanctuary, infer the want of any true relation on his

part to the Lord; and increased also by the remembrance of his

earlier prosperity, his participation in the delightful service of

the Lord, (ver. 3, 4.) But amidst the uproar of a disturbed soul,

faith calls him to "wait on the Lord," and promises that the

Psalmist will still have occasion to thank him for his salvation,

ver. 5.

            The power of the temptation is broken by this address, but

still it is not quite vanquished. The pain revives again, but the

Psalmist, recurring to the "wait on the Lord," bears it immediate-

ly to him. The substance of the second strophe is briefly summed

up, in ver. 6, in the words: "My God, my soul is troubled with-

in me, therefore remember I thee," which is then expanded

farther in what follows. First the words: "my soul is troubled

within me," in ver. 7, which speaks of all the floods of distress

going over him; then: "I remember thee," in ver. 8-11, which

skew, that the Lord gives him grace, so that amid these un-

speakable sufferings he can praise the Lord, cheerfully pray to

                            PSALMS XLII. XLIII.                           85


him, and lay before him his distress. What still remained in

his soul of trouble and disheartening, is removed at the close by

the repeated call upon his spirit to wait upon the Lord, and the

Psalm concludes with the full triumph of faith.

            In Psalm the Psalmist prays the Lord, that he, as his

God, would support him against his malicious enemies, and

bring him back again to his loved sanctuary. At the close the

Spirit silences the soul with the same address which had already

proved so effectual.

            The formal arrangement is very easily perceived. Psalm xlii.

falls into two strophes, each of five verses; ver. 6 is not reckon-

ed with the second, because it has merely the character of a

prelude. Ps. xliii. has also five verses, and thereby discovers

itself, precisely as Ps. lxx. in relation to Ps. xl., as a kind of

half, incomplete, which has respect to a larger whole.

            That the two Psalms stand in very close relation to each other,

is manifest from this very circumstance, the number five in xliii.

pointing to the number ten in xlii; then, from the agreement

of the closing verse in xliii. with xlii. 5, 11, as also, from the re-

petition xlii. 9 in xliii. 2; farther, from the agreement of the

situation, which is clear as day; and, finally, from the want of a

superscription in Ps. xliii. But we must not therefore think,

according to the idea now prevalent, of throwing both Psalms

into one. The more their agreement lies upon the surface, the

less can it be supposed that the division into two Psalms had

first taken place at a later period. No one would have thought

of this, if it had not been met with abroad. Besides, the

analogy is against it. Where we find elsewhere a marked cor-

respondence between two Psalms standing beside each other,

there they always appear, not as parts of an original whole ar-

bitrarily separated from each other, but as a pair of Psalms,

comp. particularly P. i. and ii., ix. and x., xxxii. and xxxiii.,

which have also this in common with those before us, that the

second Psalm wants the superscription. Then, the supposition

of an actual oneness destroys the organism. The second strophe

of Ps. xlii. carries an internal reference to the first. The words:

my God, my soul is troubled within me, with which it com-

mences, have for their foundation the close of the first: why

troublest thou thyself; and what is still more important than

this formal connection, the second part starts from the consola-

tion already described in the first, and an orderly advance may

86                        THE BOOK OF PSALMS,


be clearly perceived. On the other hand, in Ps. xliii. a quite

new commencement meets us: it bears the character, not of a

third strophe and stage, but of a compend of the whole. To

which we may add, the far lighter and simpler style of Ps. xliii.

to be explained in this way, that here the lamentation and the

consolation are given in their simplest ground-lines; the refe-

rence of, "the salvation of my countenance," in Ps. xlii. 11, to

"the salvation of my countenance," in Ps. 5, which is dark-

ened the moment we attach the latter to the same Psalm with

the former; and, finally, the formal arrangement, the supposi-

tion of the two Psalms forming properly but one, leaving un-

noticed the number ten in Ps. xlii. as an indication of what is

complete in itself, and the number five in Ps. xliii, as the broken

ten, and presenting to us, instead of the significant ten and five,

the number fifteen, which signifies nothing.

            The Psalm bears in the superscription the name of lykWm,

instruction, comp. on Ps. xxxii. The character of a Psalm of

this description meets us in the very form. The spirit appears

in xlii. 5, 11, and xliii. 5, as a teacher of the soul, and makes it,

the foolish, wise. Since, according to the superscription, the

Psalm was given up to the chief musician for being used in pub-

lic, the maskil cannot be referred merely to the immediate, in-

dividual occasion of the Psalmist: it indicates an appointment

to teach the pious in general, how they must keep themselves

under the cross.

            Then, in the superscription the Psalm is described as belong-

ing to the sons of Korah, as Psalm xliv.-xlix. lxxxiv. lxxxv.

lxxxvii. lxxxviii. These were, according to 1 Chron. vi. 16, ss.,

ix. 19, xxvi. 1, 2; 2 Chron. xx. 19, a Levitical family of singers.

Their musical gifts they probably owed to one of their members,

the Heman who lived in David's time. According to the view

of many, the Korahites must be named, not as the authors of the

Psalms marked with their names, but as the persons who had

charge of their performance in public. Against this, however,

there are the following grounds. 1. When a song is marked in

the superscription as belonging to any one, every one imme-

diately conceives from this, that it belongs to him, as its author.

hence, where the name of the author is not given besides in

the superscription there the delivering of the Psalm for musical

performance cannot be indicated by l without any thing fur-

ther, and in all the superscriptions of the Psalms there is to be

                         PSALMS XLII. XLIII.                               87


found no case, where this might seem probable. 2. Among all

Korahite Psalms there is not so much as one, in which David or

any other not a Korahite, is named as author. 3. In one par-

ticular Psalm, which bears at its head, besides the "Sons of

Korah," the name of the author, that author is himself a Kora-

hite, Heman—in Ps. lxxxviii. 4. In by far the greater number

of the Korahite Psalms there is a common predilection for the

name Elohim, which has had the effect of the mass of such

Psalms being assigned to the commencement of the second book,

which contains the Psalms that make predominating use of Elo-

him. Such a peculiarity is hardly explicable on the supposition,

that the Korahites were only the singers.--With the certainty

besides, that the Psalms marked with the name of the Korahites

proceeded from the bosom of this family, still nothing is deter-

mined as to the time of their composition. For as this family

continued to exist for a long time as a singing family, and no

doubt did so as long as Psalms were being made, (comp. 2 Chron.

xx. 19, where the Korahites are mentioned in the time of Je-

hoshaphat), there is nothing against the supposition, that these

Psalms belonged to very different times.

            While the superscription attributes this Psalm to the sons of

Korah, internal grounds not less strong favour the conclusion,

that the person speaking in it is no other than David. To this,

first of all, point the special references to personal relations of

the speaker, such as are very rarely found elsewhere; comp.

especially the following: "Therefore will I remember thee

from the land of Jordan, and Mount Hermon, from the small

mountains." Such references are to be found elsewhere only

in the Psalms, which have respect to persons who occupied a

position of importance for the whole community, above all to

David, and from the nature of things can only be found in these,

as the Psalms were certainly intended for the public worship of

God. Then, the situation remarkably agrees with a similar one

in the life of David, the period of his flight from Absalom.

David was then deprived of access to the sanctuary under the

same circumstances as the speaker here, so that he saw therein

a mark of the divine displeasure, regarded his exclusion from

the sanctuary as at the same time exclusion from God, and the

return of the favour of God and return to the sanctuary as inse-

parably united; comp. in the latter respect 2 Sam. xv. 25, 26:

"And the king said unto Zadok, carry back the ark of God into

88                   THE BOOK OF PSALM.


the city; if I shall find favour in the eyes of the Lord he will bring

me again, and shew me himself and his habitation. But if he thus

say, I have no delight in thee, behold here am I, let him do to me

as seemeth good unto him." Already this coincidence is a very

individual one: similar relations certainly occur most rarely.

David, further, betook himself at that time to Mahanaim on the

other side of Jordan; in the land beyond Jordan does the

speaker here call God to remembrance. The coincidence re-

garding the situation is strengthened as to its present bearing,

by the circumstance, that this Psalm agrees in an extraordinary

manner with Psalm which, according to the superscription,

was composed by David when he was fleeing before Absalom in

the wilderness of Judah. To tear asunder this Psalm and Psalm

lxiii. were as improper as to do so in regard to Psalm xliv. and lx.

Finally, we find a proof against the Korahite, and for David as

the object, in ver. 4, where the speaker painfully reminds him-

self of the blessed time when he went at the head of the wor-

shipping multitude, as their leader, to the house of God. This

trait points either to one of the leading priests, or to the king.

It does not suit the Korahites; for these, as mere Levites, could

not have been quire-leaders. But we find David exercising a

quite similar function at the introduction of the ark of the cove-

nant, 2 Sam. vi. 14, "and David danced with all his might before

the Lord, and David was clothed with a linen ephod," because

he found himself as it were in the priest's function, comp. ver.

18, whence David blessed the people in the name of the Lord.

            The superscription, which names the children of Korah as

author, and the internal grounds, which point to David as the

object of the Psalm, have equal justice done to them, if it is sup-

posed, that one of the sons of Korah had sung this Psalm as

from the soul of David. This supposition has certainly nothing

improbable in itself. There is nothing more natural, than that

David, who so often sinks himself in song, that he might dis-

pense consolation to others, should now experience the same

good office at the bands of one of the people; nothing more

natural, than that, beside the love which was eager to impart

bodily refreshment to David, there should also have been in

active exercise, that love which breaks to the hungry the bread

of life. It was a time, in which the love of the faithful proves

itself just as lively as the hatred of the rebellious, and that

among the first were all those who stood in nearest relation to

                            PSALMS XLII. XLIII.                               89


the sanctuary, arises from the nature of things, and is shown to

have been the case by 2 Sam. xv. 24. Besides, we have a per-

analogy in Psalm lxxxiv. which, according to the super-

scription, was in like manner composed by the sons of Korah,

but who, according to ver. 9, speak from the soul of the king,

when in a state of exile.—By the view now given, we can ex-

plain the relation of this Psalm to Psalm lxiii. The latter, com-

posed by David himself when on his flight in the wilderness of

Judah, formed the natural point of contact for ours, which be-

longs to the time of sojourn in the land beyond Jordan.

            The reasons which have been brought against the reference

to David, are of no force. The enemies are missed in Mahanaim

who taunted the Psalmist on account of his faith, ver. 3 and 10.

But the raillery does not proceed upon faith in Jehovah gene-

rally, but on Jehovah as the God of the speaker, and is quite

analogous to that in Psalm iii. 2; xxii. 8. The objection, that

Mahanaim did not lie in Hermon itself, arises from a false view

of ver. 6, where the Psalmist, by "the land of Jordan and of

Hermon," describes the whole of the region beyond Jordan,

            As for those who are inclined to transpose the Psalm to a

very late time, that of the Babylonish captivity, or who, as

Hitzig, to that of the Maccabees, besides the grounds already

given for the reference to David, there is against it the circum-

stance, that already Joel, in chap. i. 20, had the first verse of

the Psalm before his eyes, and that, in Jonah ii. 4, there is

an undeniable reference to ver. 7. Koester's idea, that the

Psalm is a lamentation of the children of Israel on their exile,

is already exploded by the fifth characteristic exhibited by

Venema, "that this man was merely deprived by his banish-

ment of the worship of God, while the seat of religion and its

exercise was not destroyed, but still remained." Opinions such

as those, which would make Jehoiakin, when carried into exile,

the author, may safely be left to their fate.

            The following words of Luther furnish the best preparation

for a deep insight into the current of thought pervading the

Psalm: "God is of a twofold manner. At times he is a con-

coaled and hidden God; as, when the conscience in temptation

feels sin, feels other injuries, whether bodily or spiritual, it clings

to these with heart and thought, and cannot find consolation in

the grace and goodness of God. Those who judge of God after

such a concealed form, fall without remedy into despair and

90                    THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


ruin.—That there is still another and manifested form of God, or

a disclosed and not concealed God, viz. the real form of the

good, gracious, compassionate, reconciled God. As also the

sun is of two sorts, though there is in reality but one sun, just

as there is but one God; for it may be named another

sun, when it appears dark and covered with clouds, compared

with what it is when shining bright and clear from the heavens.

And if one were to judge when the sun is dark and veiled in

clouds, he would conclude that there would never more be clear

day, but only eternal night. Now, however, is this an art, and

in truth a golden art, to be able to hold, that though the sun,

when covered with clouds and fog, cannot give a clear light, yet

it will break forth through the clouds and fog, and again beam

upon the world with a bright lustre. So does the prophet act

here, when under temptation, comforting himself, and desiring

to see the sun when it should break forth through the clouds.

He thinks in his heart upon another image than he at present

sees before his eyes. And though his conscience is affrighted,

though all evil threatens, and he is ready to sink amid doubts,

he yet elevates himself in faith, holds fast by hope, and consoles

himself that God will help him, and again appoint him to see

the service of God in the only place, which God had chosen for

it on the surface of the earth."

            To the chief musician, an instruction of the sons of torah.

Ver. 1. As a hart which pants after the water-brooks, so pants

my soul after thee, 0 God.  lyx is a common noun, comp. Ew.

§ 367, although it generally denotes the male hart, the hind

being designated by hlyx. That it must here be taken as a

designation of the hind, appears from the verb being in the fem.

The Psalmist chose the hind that grft might correspond to

grft, perhaps also, because with the hind, as the weaker party,

the desire for water is particularly strong. Since k always

mean as = like, never = so as, the relat. is to be supplied

after lyxk.  grf to pant, with lf, in so far as the desire hangs

over its object, rests upon it, with lx, in so far as it is directed

upon that. Upon Myqypx brooks, comp. on Ps. xviii. 15. That

in the hind's panting after water, we are to think, not of ex-

haustion caused by pursuit, but of the prevailing draught, is

clear from a comp. of Ps. lxiii. 1, "My soul thirsteth for thee

in a dry land," and Joel i. 20, "The beasts of the field long

after thee, for the rivers of water are dried up, and fire hath

                            PSALM XLII. VER 1.                              91


devoured the pastures of the wilderness.” The latter passage

manifestly depends on this; the peculiar expression: they long

after thee, naturally suggests the thought, that there is here an

allusion to an older passage; excepting in these two places

grf does not occur again, and the j~ylx grft literally agree.

The prophet has there attributed to beasts what is here said of

the soul, in a connection with beasts, which naturally suggested

such an application. The words: after thee, 0 God, refer, as

appears from the following context, not alone to the wish of the

Psalmist, of his internally participating in the grace of God.

But as little, on the other hand, must we substitute:  after thy

temple, for: after thee. The longing of the Psalmist is de-

scribed as going upon God himself, not upon the place of his

worship. The temptation to turn aside into one of these by-

paths, will be removed by the following remarks. Under the

Old Testament, it was of great importance that one possessed

access to the place where God had promised, as God of Israel,

to be present. The outward nearness was the medium of se-

curing the inward, (in this respect Calvin remarks, that as the

godly of the Old Testament knew, that wings for flying failed

them, they availed themselves of ladders wherewith to mount

up to God; and we heed these helps to weakness no longer,

simply because they have been furnished us in Christ in a

far more real form,) and then the Israelitish church-life con-

centrated itself there, and contemplation and love were in

the individual mightily roused and called forth by the public

fellowship. If, because God is to his people a God of salva-

tion, there is contained in every withdrawment of salvation,

in every severe affliction, a testimony against our sins, a

matter-of-fact declaration of God, that he has driven us from

his presence, it is impossible that so long as such an affliction

continues, we can come to the full consciousness of fellowship

with God and his grace.  Hence, as certainly as under the

Old Testament, it was the greatest evil to be separated from

the sanctuary of God, so certainly must such a separation,

effected by God, have carried the import more than any other

evil could of a matter-of-fact excommunication. And though in

such a case the consolations of God might have internally re-

freshed the soul, still the return to full peace and blessedness,

could only take place with the return to the sanctuary. From

what has been said, it is obvious that the tribulation, in which

92                     THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


the Psalmist was involved, was peculiar to him only as con-

cerned its form, and that we are brought into a similar situa-

tion to his, as to what is properly essential, in every heavy

affliction, Most closely analogous are the circumstances in

which the Lord withdraws from us his felt nearness—the states

of internal drought and darkness, amid which his form fades in

our souls.

            Ver. 2. My soul thirsts after God, after the living God.

When shall I come and appear before God's face? The ad-

dition: after the living God, draws attention to what the

Psalmist had lost in this God, and indicates the ground of his

lively desire and his painful longing after him. His God is not

a phantom, which, itself dead, is also incapable of imparting

life; he is the living, and consequently the life giving; comp.

the corresponding phrase, "The God of my life," in ver. 8,

rich in salvation for his people. The question: When, etc. q. d.

when at length, 0 si rumpatur mora, etc., even the short period

of separation from such a God, extending, in his apprehension,

to eternity. That in the appearing before God's face we must

think primarily of a re-opened access to the sanctuary, not of a

purely internal access, is evident from the words; when shall I

come, also from the comparison of ver. 4 with Ps. xliii. 3, 4,

and, finally, from the usage, according to which the expression:

to appear before the face of the Lord, is regularly employed of

the appearance before God in his sanctuary. But according to

what has been remarked, the opening of the approach into the

sanctuary is to be regarded as the actual manifestation of God's

restored favour, and so the question: when shall I appear

before the face of God, incloses in itself also this: when

shall I behold the countenance of God? Ps. xvii. 15, when

wilt thou place me before thy countenance ? Ps. xli. 12, q. d.

when shall I enjoy again thy favour? To appear before God's

presence is elsewhere hvhy ynp lx hxrn Ex. xxiii. 17, but

here the proposition fails, as in Deut. xxxi. 11. Isa. i. 12. Ex.

xxiii. 15. Several have found such difficulty in this, that they

would substitute the Kal for the Niphal, hx,r;x,, Luther: that I

may behold God's face. But the construction is either to be

explained by this, that the appearing here has the nature of a

verb of motion, or by this, that ynp here takes the character of

a particle, in presence of, for which latter exposition only Deut.

xxxi. 11 occasions difficulty.

                       PSALM XLII. VER. 3-4.                             93


            Ver. 3. My, tears are my food day and night, while they con-

tinually say to me, where is thy God? On the first words J.

Arnd. "When one is in great sadness, he cannot eat, his tears

become in a manner his food, he drinks and eats, as it were,

more tears than bread or other food, as David says in Ps. lxxx:

thou feedest them with bread of tears, and givest them tears to

drink in great measure." That we must expound thus, not with

Calvin: “he finds in nothing more consolation, than in tears,

they are his refreshment, as others enjoy themselves with food;”

nor yet with Stier: "they are my daily bread, and mingle them-

selves with my daily bread;" that the sense simply is: instead

of eating, I drink, appears from the parallel pass. Job iii. 24,

"for my sighing cometh before I eat," 1 Sam. i. 7, where it is

said of Hannah, "she wept and ate not," Ps. cii. 4, "I forget

to eat my bread." While they say; the speakers, David's

enemies, are not more definitely marked, because the allusion

bears not upon their person, but only upon their discourse, which

found in the Psalmist's feeling so mournful an echo. On the

continually (MvyH lk signifies here, as always, the whole day,

not every day,) Stier remarks: "For although the millers may

not incessantly cause such things to be heard, yet the oppressed

soul continually hears their raillery clanging in itself." On the

words: where is thy God, Calvin: "What wilt thou? Seest

thou not, that thou art rejected by God? For assuredly will

prayer be made to him in the holy tabernacle, from access to

which thou art cut off." But the separation from the sanctuary

comes here into consideration only as the pinnacle of the mis-

chief impending over the Psalmist, which the enemies turned to

account as a matter-of-fact proof, that he had been cast off by

God—comp. Shimei's words in 2 Sam. xvi. 7, 8, Ps. lxxi. 11,

cxv. 2.

            Ver. 4. Thereon will I think, and pour out my soul in me,

that I drew with the multitude, proceeded before them to the

house of God with the voice of joy and praise, among the multi-

tude keeping holiday. Many, and last Stier, refer the hlx to

the preceding, the scorn of the enemies, and take the fut.

rbfx and Mddx in the meaning of the fut. Luther: When I

think on this, I pour out my heart in myself, for I would indeed

go; Stier: I consume myself, pour out my soul in longing after

this, that I (once more again) might go away. But in thus re-

ferring the this to the "mournful question, which David cannot

94                     THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


answer, but of which he must constantly think," we get en-

tangled in the difficulty, that the question of the enemies: where

is now thy God, or the position of the Psalmist, which gives oc-

casion to this question, and the going with the multitude and

proceeding to the house of God, form no proper and fitting con-

trast. It were somewhat different, if the discourse here were

only generally of the coming to the sanctuary, to its again open-

ed way of approach. To this belongs the comp. of ver. 6, where

the object of the thinking is, not the scorn of enemies, but God

and his earlier salvation, and the comp. of the quite parall. Ps.

lv. 14. We would, therefore, with the overwhelming majority

of expositors refer the this to what follows, and must take the

fut. as indicative of the frequently repeated action in the past,

precisely as they occur in Ps. lv. 14. The pain of the Psalmist is

increased, when he brings into view his earlier blessedness, and

places it beside his present misery. There is no propriety in

taking, with many expositors, the two fut. with the h of striving,

at the commencement, in the meaning of the common future:

thereon think I and pour out; nor with Ewald, of substituting

for, I will, I shall, or must think and pour out. The common

import of this fut., according to which it denotes "the striving of

the mind, the direction of the will upon a determinate aim," is quite

suitable here. The Psalmist will purposely aggravate his pain. He

will recall his earlier prosperity to mind, in order thereby the more

sensibly to feel his present misery, his separation from the sanc-

tuary. It is peculiar to deep sorrow, that it seeks out what

tends to feed it, in particular, purposely loses itself in the mourn-

ful remembrance of the happier past. That the common im-

port of the fut. pang. is to be retained, is decisively proved also

by the comp. of Ps. lxxvii. 3, which place further shows, that

the object of the thinking is not the scorn of the enemies, but

the vanished prosperity, as is also confirmed by ver. 6 and 11.

The heart pours itself forth, or melts in any one, who is in a

manner dissolved by grief and pain,—comp. Job xxx. 16, "and

now my soul is poured out upon me," Ps. xxii. 14, "My heart

has become like water, melts in my inwards," and the passages

there referred to. Most improperly supply: in sighing and

tears. ylf unquestionably signifies in a large number of places

with me, and Gesenius, in his Thes. p. 1027, justly notices other

places, which, though if considered by themselves, another ex-

position might be possible, yet are so similar to these, that they

                            PSALMS XLII. VER. 4.                          95


cannot be dissevered from them. However, it is carefully to be

remarked, that lf occurs in the sense of with only in a certain

connection, "in speeches which refer to the heart, the soul, the

mind, with their concerns and changes." This fact shews, that

we must not drop from our view the radical meaning of the pre-

position. The ylf in such passages signifies with me, alluding

to this, that the soul is the honour, the better part. Quite cor-

rectly Koester: "everywhere (besides here ver. 5, 6, 11; xliii.

5,) our poet uses lf of the soul, whereby the soul is indicated

as the ruling principle in man.—j`s multitude, here of the

companies of worshippers, of their solemn processions to the

temple. Mddx is hithp. of hdd, to go slowly along, which

elsewhere occurs only in Isa. xxxviii. 15, in the song of Heze-

kiah: "I will go slowly all my days in the bitterness of my

soul," as one, who was at once freed from death, and appointed

to death. Here it refers to the measured, solemn step of the

procession. The suffix appended to it, referring to the collect.

j`s, requires a modification of the verbal idea, since the supposi-

tion, that the suffix accus. stands here for the dative, is unten-

able. The Hithp. standing properly as reflexive without an

object, often receives such an one, if the language in reflexive

gradually insinuates a possibly active application of the idea, Ew.

§ 243. So here the idea of the moving one's self slowly, goes

over into that of the leading slowly, which the verb, however,

contains only by its construction with the accus. The expres-

sion: I proceeded them, could not be used.—The mention of

joy and praise shows, that it was customary to go to the sane-

tuary with songs of praise to the Lord, such as are found in the

“Pilgrim-songs,” Ps. cxx.—cxxxiv. The use of music in the

processions is clear from 2 Sam. vi. 5, 6. The b is placed at

every secondary matter, which accompanies the transaction,

comp. Ew. § 521. Before the last words it is better to supply

then, from the immediately preceding, with a multitude keep-

ing holiday, or to suppose, that they stand formally as quite

independent: a holiday-keeping multitude, then to consider

them as appos. to the stiff. in Mddx, which would make a trail-

period. Nvmh prop. tumult, is used also of the festival-hold-

ing multitude in 2 Sam. vi. 19. The verse gives us a deep

insight into the nature of the true service of God under the

Old Testament, shows how the minds of the assembly were

96                 THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


seized by a mighty impulse, and the fire of devotion and ado-

ration was fanned into a bright flame.

            Ver. 5. Why art thou troubled, my soul, and art so disquieted

within me? Hope in God, for I shall still praise him, the salva-

tion of his countenance. Calvin: "David represents himself

here to us as divided into two parts. In so far as he rests

through faith in God's promises, he raises himself, equipped

with the spirit of an invincible valour, against the feelings of the

flesh, and at the same time blames his weakness." It is the

mighty Spirit in God, which here meets the trembling soul, that

in the book of Job appears personified as Job's wife. The

weakness of the Psalmist manifests itself in a twofold manner,

first, through deep dejection, (HHw, in Hithp. to bow one's self,

to be troubled,) then through noisy restlessness,— hmH, fre-

quently of the roaring of the waves of the sea, comp. Ps. xlvi.

3, Jer, iv. 19, v. 22. The means of help for his weakness, is

hope in God, and the ground of hope his believing confidence,

that the Lord, who is still always his God, will by his deliver-

ance give him occasion for thanks. The expression: the salva-

tion of his countenance, is appos. to the suffix of the verb. The

salvation is attributed to the countenance of God, with reference

to the Mosaic blessing, where the being gracious, and the peace

go forth from the countenance of the Lord, which is turned to-

ward the blessed, compare Ps. xxxi. 16, xliv. 3, xvi. 10, xvii. 15.

On the plural tvfvwy compare on Ps. xviii. 50. Many exposi-

tors, after the example of the LXX, Vulgate, Syriac, read:

yhlxv ynp tfvwy, the salvation of my countenance and my

God, while they draw the yhlx of the following verse to this.

They rest on the circumstance, that it is required in order to

maintain uniformity between this, and the two terminating verses,

11, and xliii. 5. But that the Israelitish poets were accustomed,

for the sake of shunning sameness of sound, such as might carry

the appearance of want of feeling, to introduce into their reite-

rations small changes, is shewn by Ps. xxiv. 7, 9; xlix. 12, 20;

lvi. 1, 11, lix. 9, 17. In our religious poetry, also, this is to be

met with. In the song: "wer weirs wie nape mix mein ende,"

for ex. the regular form of reiteration is: "mein Gott ich bitt'

durch Christi Mut, mach's nur mit meinem Ende gut," while in

the last ver. it runs: "durch deine Gnad and Christi Blut

machst du mein letztes Ende gut." The reading of the text,

                            PSALM XLII. VER. 6.                              97


besides having the external proof on its side, is supported by the

following reasons:--1. In the other passages which agree with

each other in these Psalms, the coincidence is never a literal

one, but is always attended with some slight variation. If men

would change here, they must also, to be consistent, change the

yH lx of ver. 2, into the yyH lx of ver. 8, the rmxb of ver. 3,

into the Mrmxb of ver. 10, as also conform to each other xlii.

9, and xliii. 2. 2. The "my God" cannot be wanted in the fol-

lowing verse. The address to God: I remember thee, comes in

too abruptly, if it is cut off. 3. There manifestly exists between

"his countenance" here, and "my countenance" in ver. 11, a

very perceptible connection. The salvation goes forth from the

friendly countenance of God, and upon the afflicted countenance

of the Psalmist. The light of the countenance of God illumi-

nates the darkness of his countenance.

            Ver. 6. My God, my soul is troubled in me, therefore do I re-

member thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermons, from

the small mountain. The Psalmist, following out the admoni-

tion to wait on God, seeks, amid the deep pain, which his sepa-

ration from the sanctuary had occasioned him, consolation in

this, that he thinks of God, and vividly realizes his grace and

compassion, of which at an earlier period he had received so

many proofs. Calvin: "For how can it be possible, if God

withholds his grace from us, that we should overmaster so

many evil thoughts, as every moment press in upon us? For

man's soul is as a workshop of Satan to produce in a thousand

ways despair." Many expositors have not been able to lay hold

of the thoughts of the verse. Thus, Stier remarks: "This

otherwise just sense does not fit itself well into the internal or-

ganism of the song, rising as it does, at this time, from lamenta-

tion into consolation. It is not for consolation, but primarily

for doleful longing, that the Psalmist here thinks of God, who

once was his God, and appeared now to have forgotten him in

his removal and banishment." Hence many of such expositors

seek to extort the sense wished for by them, just at the expense

of the ascertained meaning of the words: they explain Nk lf,

which never signifies anything else than therefore, by because,

and thus exchange what, in the text, appears as the symptom of

the affliction into its ground. Others who cannot consent to

this, expound: because the Psalmist feels himself so unfortunate

he thinks with painful longing of his country's God. But the

98                    THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


reason derived from the organism of the Psalm against the right

exposition, amounts to nothing. According to it, also, does the

Psalmist ascend from lamentation to consolation; but that the

lamentation here does not stretch so broadly as in the first

strophe, that the consolation so immediately meets it, must

appear highly natural, when the exhortation to "wait on God"

had just preceded. It is impossible that this could be spoken

without some effect. But that the thinking is of a consolatory,

not of a painful sort, is clear from the following considerations

--1. The verse evidently gives in rapid outline, what in verses

7-10 is more fully delineated. The formal arrangement already

speaks in favour of this. According to it, there must necessarily

have existed an intercalated verse in the second strophe, and

none excepting this can be found. Now, ver. 7 is an expansion

of the thought: my soul is troubled, ver. 8-10, an expansion

of this: I remember thee. But in this ver. the Psalmist repre-

sents his consolation and his help as being in God, who quickens

him through the manifestations of his grace, who gives him joy-

fulness for his praise—joyfulness to pour out his heart before

him in childlike confidence, and unfold to him all his necessity

and his pain. 2. The prayer of Jonah, which manifestly leans

throughout on passages of the Psalms, presents in ver. 8

the oldest commentary on this verse: "Then was my spirit

troubled in me, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came

to thee into thy holy temple"—where, it is clear as day, that

the remembering is of a consolatory nature, the antidote to

the affliction. The expression: "my soul is troubled in me,"

the Lord has appropriated to himself in Matt. xxvi. 38, John

xii. 27, not without profound reason borrowing the words,

which indicated his sorrow, from a Psalm rich in consolation,

so that, whosoever should take these words from him, might

with him also look into the back-ground. It is remarkable,

that the two Greek forms of the declaration in the Gospels

are found in the LXX; in ver. 5 they have peri<lupoj ei# h[ fuxh< mou,

comp. Matt., and in this ver. h[ yuxh< mou e]taraxqh, comp. John. The

phrase: I remember, think of thee, has respect to that in ver.

4: I think on this. The thought of the Lord forms the coun-

terpoise to the thought of the lost salvation. The land of Jor-

dan of itself may mean the Cisjordanic, as well as the Transjor-

danic land. We must not regard this designation as separate,

but must view it in connection with the following: and of the

                         PSALM XLII. VER. 6.                              99


Hermons. Hermon represents also in Ps. lxxxix. 12, the Trans-

jordanic region, as Tabor the Cisjordanic: "Tabor and Her-

mon rejoice in thy name." That the Psalmist was situated, not

precisely on Hermon, but only generally in the Transjordanic

region—that we are hence perfectly justified in thinking here of

David's sojourn at Mahanaim, on the further side of Jordan, to

the north of Jabbok, upon the boundaries of the tribes Gad and

Manasseh, comp. 2 Sam. xvii. 24, 27, 1 Kings ii. 8, is clear, not

only from the mention of the Jordan, but also from the plural:

the Hermons. As this nowhere else occurs, we cannot go along

with the current supposition, that it is not a single mountain,

but an entire mountain-range, just as we say now: the Alps,

the Appennines; for it is not probable, that a geographical de-

signation should find a place only here. We would rather un-

derstand the plural according to the analogy of Lev. xvii. 7,

where "the bucks" denotes the buck-god and others of his

brotherhood—comp. Beitr. P. IL p. 120,—and 1 Kings xviii. 18,

where the Baalim stand for, Baal and his companions; the

Hermons = Hermon and the other mountains of the Transjor-

danic region. The plural points to this, that Hermon comes

into consideration only as a representative of the species.

Finally, the special mention of Hermon would be quite unsuit-

able here, since the Psalmist manifestly did not wish to deter-

mine exactly his place of sojourn in a geographical point of view,

but only to indicate this in so far as to make it clear, how much

reason on that account he had to think of the Lord. But this

reason was not specially connected with Hermon; it belonged

generally to his retreat beyond Jordan. The Cisjordanic land.

was the land. of Canaan in the proper sense, comp. Josh. xxii.

11. The transaction related in that chapter between the Cis-

jordanic and Transjordanic tribes abundantly explain the pain-

ful emotions, with which the Psalmist mentions here "the land

of Jordan and the Hermons." The people on the further side of

Jordan betray their fear, that their brethren might come to say,

the Jordan separates between those who are, and those who are

not the people of the covenant. The people on the other side

say to them, ver. 19, "And if the land of your possession be

unclean, then pass ye over into the land of the possession of the

Lord, wherein the Lord's tabernacle is." To be driven out into

this land, and thereby cut off from all access to the sanctuary of

the Lord, the Psalmist must have felt to be a heavy affliction.

From what has been said, it is at the same time clear, that

100                   THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


though we should take Mizhar as nom. propr. of a mountain, on

which the Psalmist stood, still a reference must even then lie

at bottom to its appellative signification, the small mountain, as

it cannot be designed to give a geographically exact description

of the Psalmist's place of retreat. The name of the hill is to the

Psalmist an omen of the condition of the whole land, in which

he is located. Comp. Ps. lxviii. 16, Isa. ii. 2.

            Ver. 7. Contains a farther expansion of the thought: My soul

is troubled. Flood calls to flood through the noise of thy water-

torrents, all thy waves and thy billows go over me. The floods

are the roaring sea-billows of suffering and pain. Flood calls to

flood, one invites, as it were, another to pour itself forth upon the

Psalmist. In jyrvnc lvql, through the voice of thy channels,

the Psalmist points to the origin of these floods: a new opening

again of the windows of heaven, Gen. vii. 11, has brought this

new deluge upon him, by which he is already well nigh drowned,

For the reference throughout here, as in xxix, 10, xxxii. 6, is to

the deluge. The l in lvql is that of the cause and the au-

thor, comp. Mlvql in Numb. xvi. 34, Gesen. Thos. 729, Ew. §

520. The expression: through the voice, points to the patter-

ing of the rain, perhaps also to the accompanying thunders.

The expression: of thy channels, (Berieb. Bible: "through

which thou purest forth great rain of tribulation,") for, thy

water torrents, has an exact corresponding parallel in Job xxxviii.

25, 26: "who hath divided the water-flood channels, and a way

for the lightning, to rain upon a land uninhabited, the wil-

derness without man." We present the current exposition

in the words of Stier: "Lebanon is full of springs, water-falls,

and lakes, and this scenery, surrounding the Psalmist, (that is

according to the false exposition of ver. 6,) supplies him with

an image for the overwhelming waves of sorrow and distress,

which pass over his soul" It is fatal to this view, that Mvht

is throughout commonly used of sea-floods, Mylg and Myrbwm

always. Peculiarly significant is the reference to the sea by a

comparison of Jonah ii. 8, which unquestionably has reference

to this: "all thy waves and thy billows have gone over me"—

compare also: the floods compassed me about in ver. 5.

Finally, by this exposition rvnc has, without any reason, the

sense of water-fall pressed upon it: at the noise of thy water-

falls. The signification of water-channel, canal, is ascertained

by the only passage in which the word is found besides, 2 Sam.

v. 8, and by the related rtnc in Zech. iv. 12. In regard to


                          PSALM XLII. VER. 7, 8.                       101


the main subject, rightly, John Arnd: "This language is de-

scriptive of a great temptation. For just as on the sea, when

there is storm and tempest, when wind and sea roar, and the

waves and billows mount now high aloft, now open a great

deep, so that one sees on all sides nothing but one abyss call-

ing, in a manner, to another, and one thinks the abyss will

swallow all up, and the mighty waves will fall upon the ship

and cover her; so happens it invariably with the heart in heavy

trials. But God has the floods in his hand and power, can soon

alter and assuage them, and by his word still them, as the Lord

Christ commands the wind and sea and it becomes a great.


            There follows now the further expansion of the idea: “I

think upon him.”

            Ver. 8. By day the Lord appoints his goodness, and by night 

his song is with me, prayer to the God my life. For the

sense, a but must be supplied at the beginning. As the words:

day and night, stand for an indication of continuance, and as

an evident reference is found in them to the day and night in

ver. 3,—to the day and night of the Psalmist's continued pain,

there are here opposed the day and night of the abiding con-

solations of God—we must not with Jarchi, Venema, and others,

understand by the day, the time of prosperity, by the night the

time of adversity. It is a mere merismos, when the favour is

attributed to the day, the song to the night, q. d. by day and by  

night the Lord sends his grace, and gives me to sing and pray

to him, compare Ps. xcii. "to shew forth thy loving-kindness

in the morning and thy faithfulness in the nights." The

"goodness" or favour of God consists in the inward consola-

tions which are granted to the Psalmist in the midst of his out-

ward misery. In and along with the favour the song is also at

the same time given. For the person, who is comforted through

God's favour, is enabled to sing praise to him.  An example of

a song in the midst of distress we have in Ps. xl. 1-10. There

also upon the song and out of it follows the prayer. Then

with the words, "by night his song is with me," we are to

compare Job xxxv. 10, (the miserable cry over their mis-

fortunes,) "and he does not say, where is God my maker, who

giveth songs in the night." Of the grace of prayer, granted to

him, the Psalmist makes use in ver. 9, 10. According to the

current exposition, the Psalmist must speak in this verse of his

102                  THE BOOK OF PSALMS.


former prosperity, and in the following one of his present dis-

tress: "at one time did the Lord impart to me of his goodness

by day, and by night his song was with me, and my prayer

flowed out in thankfulness to the God of my life; but now

must I say to this same God my rock, wherefore hast thou for-

gotten me?" But this view is disproved by the following rea-

sons:  1. If the Psalmist might have left out the formerly and

the now, upon which in this connection every thing turns, he

must, at least, by the use of the pres. and fut. in some measure

have distinguished the two spheres. Indeed not in itself, but

in such a connection as this, the designation of the absolute

past by the future is quite inadmissible. 2. The hlpt is by this

exposition understood of thanksgiving. But the reading of two

MSS. hlht is not, as De Wette thinks, a good one, but a bad

gloss. hlpt always means prayer, supplication, even in Hab.

iii. 1, and Ps. lxxii. 19, where the description, as one such, is to be

taken a potiori. In this signification also it is always used in the

superscriptions of the Psalms, Ps. xvii, lxxxvi, xc, cii. Never is

it found before songs of praise and thanksgiving. Comp. besides,

Jonah ii. 7. It forms here the opposite to ryw, which of itself,

indeed, has the common signification of song, but is pre-

dominantly used of songs of praise, Ps. xviii, xlvi, lxvi, lxvii,—

an opposite quite naturally, as hymns of lamentation and prayer

with their depressed tone do not rise to the full height of the

song. 3. Then manifestly follows in ver. 9 and 10, the hlpt  

of which the discourse is here, or rather a particular specimen

of the same.  How could the Psalmist have well assigned the

hlpt to the fortunate past, and then presently made a hlpt  

to follow out of the unfortunate present. How little the future

paragraph is tolerable with the current exposition, is clear from

the translation: I must speak, to which its advocates are driven.

The ground for the current view, which is derived from the

connection, has already by the remarks on ver. 6 been com-

pletely set aside. The Psalmist calls the Lord the God of his

life, because to him his life belonged, because he preserved and

supported it, and must awaken him out of the death to which

he seemed now appointed.

            Ver. 9. I will say to God, my rock: why dost thou forget me?