BOOK III.


                              PSALMS LXXIII.-LXXXIX.









                                          THE PSALMS.


                                              BOOK III.


PSALMS LXXIII.-LXXXIX.                                                            I-157


                                               BOOK IV.

PSALMS XC.--CVI                                                               159-267


                                                 BOOK V.

PSALMS CVII.-CL                                                                           269-487



            I. MESSIANIC INTERPRETATION                                    489-499

            II. THE MASSORETH                                                          500-503


GENERAL INDEX                                                                           505-520


GRAMMATICAL AND CRITICAL INDEX                                   521-523









                                  PSALM LXXIII.


            THERE are some questions which never lose their interest, some

problems of which it may be said, that they are ever old and yet

ever new. Not the least anxious of such questions are those which

deal with God's moral government of the world. They lie close to

man's heart, and are ever asking and pressing for solution. They

may differ in different times, they may assume various forms; but

perhaps no man ever looked thoughtfully on the world as it is with-

out seeing much that was hard to reconcile with a belief in the love

and wisdom of God.

            One form of this moral difficulty pressed heavily upon the pious

Jew under the Old Dispensation. It was this: Why should good

men suffer, and bad men prosper? This difficulty was aggravated,

we must remember, by what seemed to be the manifest contradiction

between the express teaching of his Law, and the observed facts of

human experience. The Law told him that God was a righteous

Judge, meting out to men in this world the due recompense of their

deeds. The course of the world, where those who had cast off the

fear of God were rich and powerful, made him ready to question

this truth, and was a serious stumbling-block to his faith. And

further, "the Hebrew mind had never risen to the conception of

universal law, but was accustomed to regard all visible phenomena

as the immediate result of a free Sovereign Will. Direct interposi-

tion, even arbitrary interference, was no difficulty to the Jew, to

whom Jehovah was the absolute Sovereign of the world, not acting,

so far as he could see, according to any established order."* Hence

it seemed to him inexplicable that the world of life should not reflect

perfectly, as in a mirror, the righteousness of God.

            This is the perplexity which appears in this Psalm, as it does in

the 37th, and also in the Book of Job. Substantially it is the same

problem: but it is met differently. In the 37th Psalm the advice

given is to wait, to trust in Jehovah, and to rest assured that in the

end the seeming disorder will be set right even in this world. The

wicked will perish, the enemies of Jehovah be cut off, and the


            * For some valuable suggestions on this Psalm I am indebted to a friend,

the Rev. J. G. Mould.


4                                       PSALM LXXIII.


righteous will be preserved from evil, and inherit the land. Thus

God suffers wickedness for a time, only the more signally to manifest

His righteousness in overthrowing it. That is the first, the simplest,

the most obvious solution of the difficulty. In the Book of Job,

where the sorrow and the perplexity are the darkest, where the ques-

tion lies upon the heart, "heavy as lead, and deep almost as life,"

the sufferer finds no such consolation. As a Gentile, he has no need

to reconcile his experience with the sanctions of the Pentateuch.

But he has to do that which is not less hard, he has to reconcile it

with a life's knowledge of God, and a life's love of God. He

searches his heart, he lays bare his life, he is conscious of no trans-

gression, and he cannot understand why chastisement should be laid

upon him, whilst the most daring offenders against the Majesty of

God escape with impunity. Sometimes with a bitterness that cannot

be repressed, sometimes with a sorrow hushing itself into resig-

nation, he still turns to God, he would fain stand before His

judgement-seat, plead with Him his cause, and receive a righteous

sentence. But Job does not find the solution of the Psalmist. He

is driven to feel that all this is a mystery. God will not give an

account of any of His matters.  "I go forward, but He is not there

and backward, but I cannot perceive Him " (Job xxiii.). And when

Jehovah appears at the end of the Book, it is to show the folly of

man, who would presume to think that, short-sighted and ignorant

as he is, he can fathom the counsels of the Most High. He appears,

not to lift the veil of mystery, but to teach the need of humiliation

and the blessedness of faith.*

            In this Psalm, again, a different conclusion is arrived at. In part

it is the same as that which has already met us in Psalm xxxvii., in

part it is far higher. The Psalmist here is not content merely with

visible retribution in this world. He sees it indeed in the case of the

ungodly. When he was tempted to envy their lot, when he had all

but yielded to the sophistry of those who would have persuaded

him to be even as they, the temptation was subdued by the reflection

that such prosperity came to an end as sudden as it was terrible.

But he does not place over against this, on the other side, an earthly

portion of honour and happiness for the just. Their portion is in


            * There is a difficulty, no doubt, in reconciling this solution, or rather

non-solution of the problem, with that which is given subsequently in the

historical conclusion of the Book. There we find Job recompensed in

this life for all his sufferings. If the historical parts of the Book are by

the same author as the dialogue (as Ewald maintains), then we must

suppose that when Job is brought to confess his own vileness, and his own

ignorance and presumption, then, and not till then, does God reward him

with temporal prosperity.


                                  PSALM LXXIII.                                             5


God. He is the stay and the satisfaction of their hearts now. He

will take them to Himself and to glory hereafter. This conviction it

is which finally chases away the shadows of doubt, and brings light

and peace into his soul. And this conviction is the more remark-

able, because it is reached in spite of the distinct promise made

of temporal recompense to piety, and in the absence of a full and

definite Revelation with regard to the life to come. In the clear

light of another world and its certain recompenses, such perplexities

either vanish or lose much of their sharpness. When we confess

that God's righteousness has a larger theatre for its display than this

world and the years of man, we need not draw hasty conclusions

from "the slight whisper" of His ways which reaches us here.

            It is an interesting question suggested by this Psalm, but one

which can only be touched on here, how far there is anything in

common between doubts, such as those which perplexed the ancient

Hebrews, and those by which modern thinkers are harassed.* There

are some persons, who now, as of old, are troubled by the moral

aspect of the world. To some, this perplexity is even aggravated by

the disclosures of Revelation. And men of pious minds have been

shaken to their inmost centre by the appalling prospect of the ever-

lasting punishment of the wicked. But the difficulties which are,

properly speaking, modern difficulties, are of another kind. They

are, at least in their source, speculative rather than moral. The

observed uniformity of nature, the indissoluble chain of cause and

effect, the absolute certainty of the laws by which all visible phe-

nomena are governed, these are now the stumbling-blocks even to

devout minds. How, it is asked, can we reconcile these things with

the belief in a Personal God, or at least with an ever-active Personal

Will? Had the world ever a Maker? or, if it had, does He still

control and guide it? Knowing as we do that the order of cause

and effect is ever the same, how can we accept miracles or Divine

interpositions of any kind? What avails prayer, when every event


            * This point has been touched on by Dr. A. S. Farrar in his "Bampton

Lectures," a work which, for breadth and depth of learning, has few

parallels in modern English literature, and which combines in no common

degree the spirit of a sound faith and a true philosophy. Dr. Farrar

says:  "It is deeply interesting to observe, not merely that the difficulties

concerning Providence felt by Job refer to the very subjects which

painfully perplex the modern mind, but also that the friends of Job

exhibit the instinctive tendency which is observed in modern times to

denounce his doubt as sin, not less than to attribute his trials to evil as

the direct cause. These two books of Scripture [Job and Ecclesiastes],

together with the seventy-third Psalm, have an increasing religious

importance as the world grows older. The things written aforetime were

written for our learning."—Lecture I. p. 7, note.

6                                     PSALM LXXIII.


that happens has been ordained from eternity? How can any words

of man interrupt the march of the Universe? Ships are wrecked

and harvests are blighted, and famine and pestilence walk the earth,

not because men have forgotten to pray, but in accordance with the

unerring laws which storm, and blight, and disease obey. Such are

some of the thoughts—the birth, it may be said, of modern science

—which haunt and vex men now.

            Difficulties like these are not touched upon in Scripture. But the

spirit in which all difficulties, all doubts should be met, is the same.

If the answer lies in a region above and beyond us, our true wisdom

is to wait in humble dependence upon God, in active fulfilment of

what we can see to be our duty, till the day dawn and the shadows

flee away. And it is this which Scripture teaches us in this Psalm,

in Job, and in that other Book, which is such a wonderful record of

a doubting self-tormenting spirit, the Book of Ecclesiastes. It has

been said that the Book of Job and the 73rd Psalm "crush free

thought."*  It would have been truer to say that they teach us that

there are heights which we cannot reach, depths which the intellect

of man cannot fathom; that God's ways are past finding out; that

difficulties, perplexities, sorrows, are best healed and forgotten in the

Light which streams from His throne, in the Love which by His

Spirit is shed abroad in the heart.

            But the Psalm teaches us also a lesson of forbearance towards

the doubter. It is a lesson perhaps just now peculiarly needed.

Christian sympathy is felt, Christian charity is extended toward

every form of misery, whether mental or bodily, except toward that

which is often the acutest of all, the anguish of doubt. Here it

seems as if coldness, suspicion, even denunciation, were justifiable.

And yet doubt, even to the verge of scepticism, as is plain from this

Psalm, may be no proof of a bad and corrupt heart; it may rather

be the evidence of an honest one. Doubt may spring from the very

depth and earnestness of a man's faith. In the case of the Psalmist,

as in the case of Job, that which lay at the bottom of the doubt,

that which made it a thing so full of anguish, was the deep-rooted

conviction of the righteousness of God. Unbelief does not doubt,

faith doubts.†  And God permits the doubt in His truest and noblest


            * Quinet, OEuvres, tome i. c. 5, § 4.

            † The expression has been criticised as paradoxical, but the following

admirable passages, which I have met with since the first edition of this

work was published, may justify my language. They are quoted by

Archbishop Whately in his Annotations on Bacon's Essays, pp. 358, 359.

The first is from a writer in the Edinburgh Review for January, 1847,

on "The Genius of Pascal": "So little inconsistent with a habit of

intelligent faith are such transient invasions of doubt, or such diminished


                                        PSALM LXXIII.                                   7


servants, as our Lord did in the case of Thomas, that He may

thereby plant their feet the more firmly on the rock of His own ever-

lasting truth. There is, perhaps, no Psalm in which Faith asserts

itself so triumphantly, cleaves to God with such words of lofty hope

and affection, and that precisely because in no other instance has

the fire been so searching, the test of faith so severe. It may be

well to remember this when we see a noble soul compassed about

with darkness, yet struggling to the light, lest we "vex one whom

God has smitten, and tell of the pain of His wounded ones " (Ps.

lxix. 26).

            The Psalm consists of two parts:--

            I. The Psalmist tells the story of the doubts which had assailed

him, the temptation to which he had nearly succumbed. Ver. 1-14.

            II. He confesses the sinfulness of these doubts, and explains how

he had been enabled to overcome them. Ver. 15-28.

            These principal portions have their further subdivisions (which are

in the main those given by Hupfeld):

            I. a. First we have, by way of introduction, the conviction to

which his struggle with doubt brought him, ver. 1; then the general

statement of his offence, ver. 2, 3.

            b. The reason of which is more fully explained to be the prosperity

of the wicked, ver. 4, 5; and their insolence and pride in con-

sequence, ver. 6-11.

            c. The comfortless conclusion which he had thence drawn, ver.



perceptions of the evidence of truth, that it may even be said that it is

only those who have in some measure experienced them, who can be said

in the highest sense to believe at all. He who has never had a doubt,

who believes what he believes for reasons which he thinks as irrefragable

(if that be possible) as those of a mathematical demonstration, ought not

to be said so much to believe as to know; his belief is to him knowledge,

and his mind stands in the same relation to it, however erroneous and

absurd that belief may be. It is rather he who believes — not indeed

without the exercise of his reason, but without the full satisfaction of his

reason—with a knowledge and appreciation of formidable objections—it

is this man who may most truly be said intelligently to believe."

            The other is from a short poem by Bishop Hinds:

                        "Yet so it is; belief springs still

                              In souls that nurture doubt;

                        And we must go to Him, who will

                              The baneful weed cast out.

                        "Did never thorns thy path beset?

                               Beware—be not deceived;

                        He who has never doubted yet

                               Has never yet believed.'

8                              PSALM LXXIII.


            II. a. By way of transition, he tells how he had been led to

acknowledge the impiety of this conclusion, and how, seeking for

a deeper, truer view, he had come to the sanctuary of God, ver. 15—

17, where he had learned the sudden and fearful end of the wicked,

ver. 18-20, and consequently the folly of his own speculation.

            b. Thus recovering from the almost fatal shock which his faith had

received, he returns to a sense of his true position. God holds him

by his right hand, God guides him for the present, and will bring him

to a glorious end, ver. 23, 24; hence he rejoices in the thought that

God is his great and only possession, ver. 25, 26.

            c. The general conclusion, that departure from God is death and

destruction; that in His presence and in nearness to Him are to be

found joy and safety, ver. 27, 28.



                                    [A PSALM OF ASAPH.a]


            I SURELYb God is good to Israel,

                        (Even) to such as are of a pure heart.

            2 But as for me, my feet were almost gone,c


I. SURELY. This particle, which

occurs twice again in this Psalm, is

rendered differently in each case by

the E. V.; here truly, in ver. 13

verily, in ver. 18 surely: but one

rendering should be kept through-

out. The Welsh more correctly

has, yn ddiau (ver. I), diau (ver. 13,

18). The word has been already

discussed in the note on lxii. 1,

where we have seen it is capable of

two meanings. Here it is used

affirmatively, and expresses the

satisfaction with which the con-

clusion has been arrived at, after all

the anxious questionings and de-

batings through which the Psalmist

has passed: "Yes, it is so; after

all, God is good, notwithstanding

all my doubts." It thus implies at

the same time a tacit opposition to

a different view of the case, such as

that which is described afterwards.

"Fresh from the conflict, he some-

what abruptly opens the Psalm with

the confident enunciation of the

truth, of which victory over doubt

had now made him more, and more

intelligently, sure than ever, that

God is good to Israel, even to such

as are of a clean heart."—Essential

Coherence of the Old and New

Testament, by my brother, the Rev.

T. T. Perowne, p. 85, to which I

may, perhaps, be permitted to refer

for a clear and satisfactory view of

the whole Psalm.

    It is of importance to remark

that the result of the conflict is

stated before the conflict itself is

described. There is no parade of

doubt merely as doubt. He states

first, and in the most natural way,

the final conviction of his heart.

      ISRAEL. The next clause limits

this, and reminds us that "they are

not all Israel, which are of Israel."

To the true Israel God is Love; to

them "all things work together for


    OF A PURE HEART, lit. "pure of

heart," as in xxiv. 4. Comp. Matt.v.8.

     2. BUT AS FOR ME. The pro-

noun is emphatic. He places him-

self, with shame and sorrow, almost

in opposition to that Israel of God


                                         PSALM LXXIII.                                       9


            My steps had well-nigh slipt.

3 For I was envious at the arrogant,

            When I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

4 For they have no bands in their death,d

            And their strengthe (continueth) firm.

5 They are not in trouble as (other) men,


of which he had just spoken. He

has in view the happiness of those

who had felt no doubt. Calvin some-

what differently explains: Even I,

with all my knowledge and advan-

tages, I who ought to have known


    GONE, lit. "inclined," not so

much in the sense of being bent

under him, as rather of being

turned aside, out of the way, as in

Numb. xx. 17, 2 Sam. ii. 19, 21, &c.

The verb in the next clause ex-

presses the giving way from weak-

ness, fear, &c., HAD . . . SLIPT, lit.

"were poured out" like water.

    3. ENVIOUS, as in xxxvii. 1, Prov.

xxiii. 17, wishing that his lot were

like theirs who seemed to be the

favourites of heaven. Calvin quotes

the story of Dionysius the Less,

who, having sacrilegiously plundered

a temple, and having sailed safely

home, said: "Do you see that the

gods smile upon sacrilege?" The

prosperity and impunity of the

wicked invite others to follow their


     THE ARROGANT. The word de-

notes those whose pride and in-

fatuation amounts almost to mad-

ness. It is difficult to find an exact

equivalent in English. Gesenius

renders it by superbi, insolentes, and

J. D. Michaelis by stolide gloriosi,

"vain boasters." It occurs in v.

5 [6], where see noted, and again in

xxiv. 4 [5]. The LXX., in all these

instances, render vaguely, a@nomoi,


     4. BANDS. This word "bands,"

or "tight cords,"or "fetters," occurs

only once besides, Is. lviii. 6. I

have now [2nd Edit.] adopted the

simplest and most straightforward

rendering of the words, "They

have no bands in their death" (lit.

at or for their death, i.e. when they

die), because the objection brought

against it, that such a meaning is

at variance with the general scope

of the Psalm, the object of which is

not to represent the end of the un-

godly as happy (the very reverse

is asserted ver. 17, &c.), but to

describe the general prosperity of

their lives, no longer appears to me

to be valid. For we must remember

that the Psalmist is describing here

not the fact, but what seemed to him

to be the fact, in a state of mind

which he confesses to have been

unhealthy. Comp. Job xxi. 13, and

see the note on ver. 18 of this

Psalm. Otherwise it would be

possible to render [as in 1st Edit.],

"For no bands (of suffering) (bring

them) to their death." No fetters

are, so to speak, laid upon their

limbs, so that they should be de-

livered over bound to their great

enemy. They are not beset with

sorrows, sufferings, miseries, which

by impairing health and strength

bring them to death. This sense

has been very well given in the

P.B.V., which follows Luther:

"For they are in no peril of death,

    But are lusty and strong."

      5. The literal rendering of this

verse would be:--

"In the trouble of man they are not,

    And with mankind they are not


The first word used to express man

is that which denotes man in his

frailty and weakness. See on ix. 19,

20, note i; x. 18, note.1 The other

is the most general term, Adam,

man as made of the dust of the


10                              PSALM LXXIII.


            Neither are they plagued like (other) folk.

6 Therefore pride is as a chainf about their neck;

            Violence coverethg them as a garment.

7 Their eyeh goeth forth from fatness;

            The imaginations of (their) heart overflow.

8 They scoffi and speak wickedly,

            Of oppression loftily do they speak.

9 They have set their mouth in the heavens,

            And their tongue walkethk through the earth.

10 Therefore his people are turnedl after them,


earth. These men seem exempt

not only from the frailties and in-

firmities of men, but even from the

common lot of men. They appear

almost to be tempered and moulded

of a finer clay than ordinary human


    PLAGUED, lit. "smitten," i.e. of

God; a word used especially of

Divine chastisement. Comp. Is.

liii. 4.


NECK, or "hath encircled their

neck." See for the same figure,

Prov. i. 9, iii. 21. The neck (the

collum resupinum) is regarded as

the seat of pride: comp. lxxv. 5 [6],

Is. iii. i6.

     7. FROM FATNESS, i.e. from a

sleek countenance, conveying in

itself the impression of worldly ease

and enjoyment. The whole figure

is highly expressive. It is a picture

of that proud satisfaction which so

often shines in the eyes of well-to-do

men of the world.

      OVERFLOW. The metaphor is

from a swollen river which rises

above its banks. The verb is used

absolutely, as in Hab. i. 11, "Then

(his) spirit swells and overflows,"

where the same figure is employed

in describing the pride and insolence

of the Chaldeans. See also Is. viii.

8. This is better than, with the

E. V., to take the verb as transitive,

"They have more than heart could

wish" (lit. they have exceeded the

imaginations of the heart); the two

clauses of the verse correspond, the

proud look being an index of the

proud heart; these being followed,

in the next verse, by the proud


     8. According to the Massoretic

punctuation, the verse would be

arranged thus:

"They scoff and speak wickedly of


Loftily do they speak."

But the LXX. arrange the clauses

as in the text and render the latter,

a]diki<an ei]j to> u!yoj e]la<lhsan, and so

Aq. sukofanti<an e]c u!youj lalou?ntej.

    LOFTILY, or "from on high," not

"against the Most High," as the

P. B. V. See note on lvi. 2.

      9. IN THE HEAVENS, not "against

the heavens." The stature of these

men seems to swell till it reaches

heaven. Thence they issue their

proud commands, the whole earth

being the theatre of their action.

     10. THEREFORE. This, as Men-

delssohn has observed, is co-ordi-

nate with the "therefore" in ver. 6.

Both depend on the statement in

ver. 4, 5. Because the wicked have

no bands, &c., therefore pride corn-

passeth them, &c., and therefore

others are induced to follow their


     HIS PEOPLE. This is capable of

two interpretations. (I) In accord-

ance with a common Hebrew idiom,

there may be an abrupt transition

from the plural to the singular,

an individual being now substituted

for the mass. "His people," in this


                                           PSALM LXXIII.                                 11


            And at the full stream would slake their thirst:m

11 And they say: "How doth God know?

            And is there knowledge in the Most High?"

12 Lo, these are the wicked,

            And (these men), ever prosperous, have increased wealth,

sense, are the crowd who attach

themselves to one and another of

these prosperous sinners, that they

may share his prosperity, and then

"his people " is equivalent to "their

people," the crowd which follows

them. (2) The pronoun may refer

to God. So the Chald. "they (the

wicked) turn upon His (God's)

people to punish them; "and the

LXX. o[ laoj mou, Vulg. populus

meas. But with this reference of

the pronoun we may explain: Even

His people, forsaking Him, are led

away by the evil example, just as

the Psalmist confesses he himself


      AFTER THEM, lit. "thither," i.e.

to the persons before described,

and, as is implied, away from God.

The next clause of the verse is

more difficult of explanation. The

E. V. by its rendering, "And waters

of a full (cup) are wrung out to

them," probably means us to under-

stand that the people of God, when

they turn hither, i.e. to the consi-

deration of the prosperity of the

wicked, are filled with sorrow, drink

as it were the cup of tears; the

image being the same as in lxxx. 5

[6]. The P. B. V. comes nearer to

the mark:--

     "Therefore fall the people unto


     And thereout suck they no

            small advantage,"--

only that apparently in the second

clause the pronoun they refers, not

to the people, but to the wicked

mentioned before. Whereas it is

the people, the crowd of hangers-on,

who gather like sheep to the water-

trough, who suck this advantage,

such as it is, as the reward of their



lit. "and fulness of water is drained

by them;" i.e. broad and deep are

the waters of sinful pleasures, which

they, in their infatuation, drink.

     11. AND THEY SAY. The refer-

ence of the pronoun has again been

disputed. Mostly it is referred to

those just spoken of, who have

been led astray by the prosperity of

the wicked to follow them. Hupfeld

thinks it is the wicked themselves

(of ver. 3) who thus speak, and cer-

tainly the boldness of the language

employed, which questions the very

being of a God, is more natural

in the mouth of those whose long

prosperity and long security have

made them unmindful of His provi-


     But much depends on the view

we take of the next three verses.

Do these continue the speech, or

are they the reflection of the Poet

himself? The former is the view

of Ewald, Stier, Delitzsch, and

others. In this case the words

must be throughout the words of

those who have been tempted and

led astray by the untroubled happi-

ness of the wicked. They adopt

their practically atheistical prin-

ciples; they ask, "How doth God

know," &c.; they point, with a

triumph not unmingled with bitter-

ness, at their success:  Lo, these

are the ungodly, whose sudden and

utter overthrow we have been

taught to expect; they come to the

conclusion that the fear of God is

in vain, for it does not save a man

from suffering and disappointment,

and thus they justify their choice.

It is certainly in favour of this

view that ver. 15 seems naturally

to introduce the reflections of the

Psalmist himself, who had almost

been carried away by the same

sophistry. On the other hand

12                               PSALM LXXIII.


13 Surely in vain have I cleansed my heart,

            And washed my hands in innocency,

14 And have been plagued all the day long,

            And chastened every morning.

15 If I had said,n "I will utter (words) like these,"

            Lo, I should have been faithless to the generation of

                        Thy children.

16 And when I ponderedp it that I might know this,

            It was a trouble in mine eyes;

17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God


Hengstenberg and Hupfeld suppose

the reflections of the Psalmist to

begin at ver. 12. Verses 13, 14

will then describe the temptation

which pressed upon him, the

thoughts which forced themselves

into his mind, and which, as verses

15, 16 show, he only with difficulty

repressed. He did utter his disap-

pointment, he was gliding on to

something worse, to the atheistic

language of ver. 11, when he checks

himself as in ver. 15. In favour of

this interpretation it may be urged,

that the LXX. have introduced a

kai> ei#pa at the beginning of ver. 13.

     I confess that, while inclining to

the former, I feel it difficult to

decide between these two views;

and the decision must after all rest

upon a certain feeling and instinct,

rather than upon critical grounds.

     15. IF I HAD SAID, i.e. to myself

(as the verb is constantly used); if

I had given way to the temptation

to utter thoughts and misgivings

like these. "The Hebrew Psalm-

ist," it has been well said, "instead

of telling his painful misgivings,

harboured them in God's presence

till he found the solution. The

delicacy exhibited in forbearing

unnecessarily to shake the faith of

others, is a measure of the disin-

terestedness of the doubter."—FAR-

RAR, Bampton Lectures, p. 27.


THESE, or, "I will recount the

matter thus."


CHILDREN. As in xiv. 5, "the

generation of the righteous." So

the people at large are called, Deut.

xiv. I; Hos. ii. 1. Here, however,

the true Israel, "the clean of heart,"

are meant. But the individual is

not called a son of God under the

Old Testament, except officially, as

in ii. 7.

     16. I PONDERED. See the same

use of the verb in lxxvii. 5 [6], "the

days of old;" Prov. xvi. 9, "one's

way." THAT I MIGHT KNOW, i.e.

reconcile all that I saw with the

great fact of God's moral govern-


     A TROUBLE, or a weariness, as of

a great burden laid upon me (comp.

Eccles. viii. 17). Thought could

not solve the problem. The brain

grew wearier, and the heart heavier.

Light and peace come to us, not by

thinking, but by faith. "In Thy

Light we shall see Light." God

Himself was the Teacher.

    17. THE SANCTUARY is the place

of His teaching; not heaven, "the

world of angels and spirits," as

Qimchi and others, but the Temple,

as the place of His special mani-

festation, not only by Urim and

Thummim, but in direct answer to

prayer. There, in some hour of

fervent, secret prayer, like that of

Hannah (1 Sam. i. 13, comp. Luke

xviii. to), or perhaps in some solemn

service—it may have been (who can

tell?) through the words of some

inspired Psalm—a conviction of the

truth broke upon him. The word


                                 PSALM LXXIII.                                   13


            (Until) I considered their latter end.

18 Surely in slippery places dost Thou set them,

            Thou hast cast them down to ruin.q

19 How are they brought to desolation as in a moment!

SANCTUARY is in the plural, which

is used here, as in xliii. 3, lxviii. 35

[36], for the singular.

     18. The conclusion is remarkable.

That which dispels the Psalmist's

doubts, and restores his faith, is the

end of the ungodly in this world,—

their sudden reverses, their terrible

overthrow in the very bosom of their

prosperity. Hitherto he has not

taken notice of this fact as he

ought: he has been so dazzled with

the prosperity of the wicked, that

he has forgotten by what appalling

judgements God vindicates His

righteousness. He does not follow

them into the next world. His eye

cannot see beyond the grave. Even

the great horror of an evil con-

science is scarcely, in his view, a

part of their punishment, unless

the expression "because of terrors,"

in ver. 19, may be supposed to point

that way, which, however, is very

doubtful. But this Theodicee was

the only one then known, and is in

fact based upon the Law, which,

resting upon temporal sanctions,

justified the expectation of visible

retribution in this world. The

judges of Israel were appointed as

the vice-gerents of God, to execute

this retribution (Deut. i. 17). Hence

the deep-rooted conviction on this

point, even in the minds of the

godly. It was not till a later period,

and especially till after the Exile,

that the judgement after death was

clearly recognised. Comp. Mal.

iii. 13, &c.

    It is singular that in Job xxi. 13

(comp. ix. 23) it is reckoned as an

element in the good fortune of the

wicked, that they die not by a

lingering disease, but suddenly;

but it may be that Job, perplexed

and eager to make everything tell

on his side, which his friends would

urge against him, is determined not

to admit their inference from the

facts of Divine Providence. Other-

wise this passage of Job supports

the obvious rendering of ver. 4,

"They do not die by lingering dis-

eases, but easily," this being the

mistaken view afterwards corrected.

"We come to the conclusion," it

has been well said, "that in the

case of the wicked this Psalm does

not plainly and undeniably teach

that punishment awaits them after

death; but only that in estimating

their condition it is necessary, in

order to vindicate the justice of

God, to take in their whole career,

and set over against their great

prosperity the sudden and fearful

reverses and destruction which they

not unfrequently encounter. But

in turning to the other side of the

comparison, the case of the right-

eous, we are not met by the thought,

that as the prosperity of the wicked

is but the preparation for their ruin,

so the adversity of the godly is but

an introduction to worldly wealth

and honour. That thought is not

foreign to the Old Testament writers

(see Psalm xxxvii. 9-11). But it

is not so much as hinted at here.

The daily chastening may continue,

flesh and heart may fail, but God

is good to Israel notwithstanding.

He is their portion, their guide,

their help, while they live, and He

will take them to His glorious

presence when they die. ‘Never-

theless I am continually with Thee,’

&c. The New Testament has no-

thing higher or more spiritual than

this."—Essential Coherence, &c.,

pp. 86, 87.

     19. This verse, taken in connec-

tion with ver. 27, seems almost to

point, as Ewald has remarked, to

some particular instance of the

Divine judgement which had re-

cently been witnessed.

14                               PSALM LXXIII.


            They are come to an end, they are cut off because of


20 As a dream when one awaketh,

            (So), 0 Lord, when Thou arousest Thyself,s dost Thou

                        despise their image.

21 For my heart grew bitter,

            And I was pricked in my reins;

22 So brutish was I myself and ignorant,

            I became a very beastt before Thee.

23 And yet as for me,—I am always with Thee,


     20. AS A DREAM, the unreality

of which is only seen when a man

awakes. Comp. xc. 5; Job xx. 8.

The first member of this verse

is apparently connected by the

LXX., and perhaps by Symm.,

with what goes before, "they are

cut off as a dream," &c.


SELF. The verb in Hebrew is a

different one from that in the pre-

vious clause, although in the E.V.

both are in this passage rendered

by the, same word. In xxxv. 23,

where the two verbs also occur to-

gether, our translators have em-

ployed two different words to ex-

press them, and I have thought it

best to do so here. The figure is

carried on. When God thus awakes

to judgement, the image, the shadow,

of the wicked passes from Him as a

dream from the mind of a sleeper.

He "despises" it, as a man in his

waking moments thinks lightly of

some horrible dream.

    21. FOR. There is no reason to

depart from this, the common

meaning of the particle. (See

Critical Note.) It explains the

whole of the previous struggle. I

was tempted to think thus, for I

brooded over these difficulties till

I became no better than the dumb

cattle. So it ever is. Man does

not show wisdom when he wearies

himself to no purpose with the

moral and speculative problems

which beset him. His highest

wisdom is to stay himself upon


    22. So BRUTISH, lit. "And I

myself (the pronoun is emphatic)

was brutish." Comp. Prov. xxx. 2, 3.

     A VERY BEAST. The noun is in

the plural, which is here used in a

superlative or emphatic sense (see

note on lxviii. 35), so that we need

not render “like the beasts,” still

less "like Behemoth" as though

some particular beast were meant.

     23. The words that follow, in

their exquisite beauty, need not

comment or interpretation, but a

heart in unison with them. They

lift us up above the world, above

doubts, and fears, and perplexities

into a higher and holier atmosphere:

we breathe the air of heaven. The

man who can truly use these words

is not one who has "crushed free

thought," but one who has seen all

his doubts swallowed up in the full

light of God's Love. "Though all

else in heaven and earth should

fail, the one true everlasting Friend


     It strangely mars the force of

such a passage to limit its appli-

cation to this life. To render the

words of ver. 24 as Grotius and

others do, "Thou shalt receive me

with honour" (in allusion to David

as placed on the throne), or "bring

me to honour," i.e. in this world,

is to rob the whole passage of

its Divine significance. The verb

"Thou shalt take me," is the same


                                 PSALM LXXIII.                                    15


            Thou hast holden my right hand;

24 Thou wilt guide me in Thy counsel,

            And afterward Thou wilt take me to glory.u

25 Whom have I in heaven (but Thee) ?

            And there is none upon earth in whom I delight beside


26 (Though) my flesh and my heart fail,

            (Yet) God is the rock of my heart and my portion for


27 For behold they that are far from Thee must perish;

            Thou hast destroyed every orfe that goeth a-whoring

                        from Thee.

28 But as for me, it is good for me to draw near unto God;

            I have made in the Lord Jehovah my refuge,

                        That I may tell of all Thy works.


as that employed in xlix. 15 (where

see note), and Gen. v. 24, to which

last passage there is doubtless an

allusion in both places in the

Psalms. But this Psalm is an

advance on Ps. xlix.

    The great difference, though with

essential points of contact, between

the hope of the life to come, as

pourtrayed even in such a passage

as this, and what we read in the

New Testament, will best be under-

stood by comparing the language

here with St. Paul's language in the

4th and 5th chapters of the Second

Epistle to the Corinthians, and the

1st chapter of the Epistle to the

Philippians, ver. 21-23.

    THOU HAST HOLDEN; either im-

plying that thus he had been saved

from falling altogether, when his feet

were almost gone (ver. 2), or per-

haps rather as stating more broadly

the ground of his abiding com-

munion with God, at all times and

under all circumstances. Comp.

lxiii. 8 [9].


"With confidence he commits him-

self to the Divine guidance, though

he does not see clearly the mystery

of the Divine purpose (counsel) in

that guidance."—Delitzsch. It is

because he has forgotten to look to

that counsel, and to trust in that

counsel, that his faith has received

so startling a shack.

    TAKE ME TO GLORY. Others,

“receive me with glory.” (See

Critical Note.)

    25. BUT THEE, or "beside

Thee," lit. "with Thee." These

words are to be supplied from the

next clause, a word or a phrase

belonging to two clauses being com-

monly in Hebrew expressed only in


     THERE IS NONE, &C., lit. "I have

no delight (in any) upon the earth."

    26. FAIL, lit. "have failed," i.e.

"may have failed," the preterite

being here used hypothetically.

     27. The figure is very common.

Israel is the spouse of God, and

idolatry is the breaking of the mar-

riage vow. But here it seems to be

used, not merely of idolatry, but of

departure from God such as that

described in ver. 10.

    28. At the end of this verse the

LXX. add, "in the gates of the

daughter of Zion," whence it has

passed through the Vulgate, into

our Prayer-Book Version.


16                                    PSALM LXXIII.


            a See Psalm I. notea, and General Introduction, vol. i. pp. 94, 97.

            b j`xa surely, or as it may be rendered, with Mendels. and others, even

more pointedly, nevertheless. The exact force of the particle here has

been best explained by Calvin: "Quod autem abruptum facit exordium,

notare operae pretium est, antequam in hanc vocem erumperet David,

inter dubias et pugnantes sententias aestuasse. Nam ut strenuus athleta

seipsum exercuerat in pugnis difficillimis: postquam vero diu multumque

sudavit, discussis impiis imaginationibus, constituit Deum "amen servis

suis esse propitium, et salutis eorum fidum esse custodem. Ita subest

antithesis inter pravas imaginationes quas suggesserat Satan, et hoc verae

pietatis testimonium quo nunc se confirmat: acsi malediceret carnis suae

sensui qui dubitationem admiserat de providentia Dei. Nunc tenemus

quam emphatica sit exclamatio . . . quasi ex inferis emergeret, pleno

spiritu jactare quam adepts erat victoriam." This has been seen also

by some of the older interpreters (Symmachus, plh<n; Jerome, attamen),

as well as by the Rabbinical and other expositors. In like manner we

have in Latin writers passages beginning with a nam or at, where some-

thing is implied as already existing in the mind of the writer, though not


     c yvFn. "The K'thibh is part. pass. sing., either absol. with the accus.

following, or in the stat. constr. yUFn; with the gen., either construction of

the part. pass. being admissible. Comp. 2 Sam. xv. 32 with 2 Sam. xiii.

31; Ezek. ix. 2 with 11 (Ges. § 132). For this the Q'ri very unnecessarily

substitutes 3 pl. perf. Uy.FAnA, but in the full form, which would only be

suitable in pause. In the same way the following hnpw, which is no

doubt hkAP;wu, 3 fem. sing., with the plur. noun yraUwxE (a not uncommon

construction, as in xxxvii. 31, see Ges. § 143, 3), has been just as

unnecessarily corrected in the K'ri to UkP;wu.  It is, however, possible that

the punctuation, ylag;ra and yraUwxE, as plur. depends on the Q'ri of the

verbs, and that these words in the K'thibh are meant to be singular (as

xliv. 19, Job xxxi, 7). So Cler., Hasse, and others."—Hupfeld.

            d MtAOml;. This, as it stands, must mean "for, or at, or belonging to,

their death," i.e. when they die. So the E.V. "in their death," and so

the Welsh : "yn eu marwolaeth." But this, it has been said, does not fall

in with the general scope of the passage, where not the death but the life

of the wicked is described as one that seems enviable. Hence Hupfeld

would render, "till their death," and refers to the use of the prep. in Is.

vii. 15 to justify this interpretation ; but there OTf;dal; means not "till he

knows," but "when he knows," as both Ewald and Knobel take it; and

Drechsler, on the passage, has clearly shown, in opposition to Gesenius,

that the prep. l; is in no instance used to mark duration of time up to a

certain point, and therefore never means until. Bates, quoted by Horsley,

proposed to make of MtAOml; two words, MtA OmlA, joining OmlA with the

first clause, "they have no bonds," and MTA, as an adjective, with what

follows, "souna and fat is their body." This has been adopted by

Strut, Fry, &c., and by Ewald, who defends this sense of MTA (which is

                                PSALM LXXIII.            17


nowhere used of physical, but always of moral, soundness), by the use of

the noun MTo in Job xxi. 23 [Delitzsch refers to the similar use of MymiTA,

xviii. 33, Prov. i. 12, but the first of these seems doubtful]. Mendelssohn

supposes Mtvml to be for MtAOmyli, and renders: "Kein Knotten hemmt

ihrer Tage Lauf;" the figure being that of the thread,of life, which, if it

becomes knotted and entangled, is liable to be broken. But retaining

the reading of the present Massoretic text, two interpretations are

possible: (1) "They have no fetters for their death," which may either

mean, if we take fetters (as in Is. lviii. 6, the only other passage in which

the word occurs) in the literal sense, "they are not delivered over bound

to death;" or, if we take it metaphorically, "they have no sufferings,

diseases," &c., which bring them to death. So Hulsius: "Nulla sunt

ipis ligasnenta ad mortem eorum, i.e. nullis calamitatibus, nullis morbis

sunt obnoxii; morbi sunt mortis ligamenta quod in mortis potestatem

homines conjiciant." And Delitzsch, in his first Edition : " Denn keine

Qualen gibts, daran sie stürben." (2) " They have no fetters (i.e. troubles,

cares, sufferings) in their death." In this case the Psalmist is stating

here by anticipation, not his present conviction as to the death of the

wicked, but the view which he once took of it, in a mood of mind which

he afterwards discovered to be wrong. So Aq. ou]k ei]si> duspa<qeiai t&?

qana<t& au]tw?n. It is of importance to observe, however, that Symm. and

Jerome seem to have had a different reading. The former has: o!ti ou]k

e]nequmou?nto peri> qana<tou au]tw?n, the latter: "quod non cogitaverint de

morte sua." Did they read Mybiw;h Nyxe? Or did they intend to explain

the present text in this sense, "They have no troubles, anxious reflections,

&c. with reference to their death?" The Syr. also here, as indeed

throughout the Psalm, differs from the Heb. It has              “there

is no end to their death," the exact meaning of which is not very clear.

The rendering of the LXX. is equally obscure: ou]k e@stin a]na<neusij e]n t&?

qana<t& au]tw?n. With all this variation in the ancient Versions, they agree

in one respect, they all have the word death. But for this, I should be

disposed to accept the alteration of the text proposed above, as the

simplest solution of the difficulty. Delitzsch has now (in his 2d Edit.)

accepted this, and renders: Denn keine Qualen leiden sie, gesund and

mastig ist ihr Wanst.


            e MlAUx, from the noun lUx, strength (connected with tUlyAx<, lxe, &c., from

the root lvx), with the suffix, and occurring only here (an alleged plur.

form, 2 Kings xxiv. 15, is doubtful). Symm. and others of the ancient

interpreters, supposed it to be the noun MlAUx, meaning vestibule, portico,

&c., and hence the rendering of Symm., sterea> h#n ta> pro<pula au]tw?n, and

Jerome, vestibula. The LXX. have kai> stere<wma e]n t^? ma<stigi au]tw?n. The

Syr.                             , "and great is their folly," seems to have

read by a confusion of letters MTAAl;Uaxi hbArAv;, but the variations of the Syr.

in this Ps., as in the 56th, are very numerous.

            f Omt;qanAfE, a denominative from qnAfE, a necklace, and occurring in the

Qal only here.

18                               PSALM LXXIII.

            g JFAfEya. The second clause of this verse will admit of four renderings:

(1) tywi may be in constr. with smAHA (comp. Is. lix. 7), "a clothing of

violence," and 10, the object of the verb (which is the construction of

other verbs of clothing, comp. l; hs.AKi, Is. ix. 9); (2) tywi may be the

predicate (which the accent Rebia Geresh would indicate), "violence

covereth them as a garment;" (3) OmlA may belong to smAHA, and the object

of the verb be understood, "their violence covereth (them) as a garment"

[this rendering is most in accordance with the accents]; (4) By an

enallage of number, sing. for plur., "they cover (themselves) with their

own violence as with a garment." So the LXX. perieba<lonto a]diki<an,

Symm. u[perhfani<an h]mfia<santo, and Jerome, Circumdederunt sibi inigui-


            h Omneyfe [or Omyneyfe, which is found in some MSS. the dual noun being

with the sing. verb. Stier, indeed, maintains that this is the only correct

form, as Om-e is not used with a singular noun, but we have Omyneyxe; in ver. 5,

which is only a plena scriptio for Omneyxe, Nyixa having no plural], lit. "their

eye goeth forth (looks out proudly) from fatness (i.e. a sleek countenance)."

Comp. Job xv. 27. Aq. e]ch?lqon a]po> ste<atoj o]fqalmoi> au]tw?n, and Symm.

proe<pipton a]po> liparo<thtoj (al. e]c^<esan a]po> li<pouj) oi[ o]fq. au]t., take ‘yf as

plural. Ewald, Hupfeld, and others, following the LXX. e]celeu<setai w[j

e]k ste<atoj h[ a]diki<a au]tw?n, would read OmneOfE, "their iniquity," or without

changing the word, would take Nyf here to stand for Nvf, as in Zech. v. 6,

and the Q'ri in Hos. x. to. (And so the Syr.          .)  They also take bl,He, as in xvii.

10, in the sense of heart, or as Ewald renders, aus feistem Innern, the word fatness

denoting a stupid, insensible heart. And so Ges. Thes. in v.

            i UqymiyA.  The word occurs only here. It is doubtless to be connected

with the Aramaic Eng. mock. Comp. the Greek, mu?koj, mukth<r, the

nose, as expressing scorn; mukthri<zw, &c. So Symm., katamwkw<menoi, and

Jerome, irriserunt. The Chald., Rabb., and others, wrongly connected the

word with qqm, either (1) trans. "they make to melt, i.e. afflict, others ;"

or as the P. B. V., "they corrupt other;" or (2) "they melt away, i.e.

they are dissolute, corrupt," &c.

            k j`lahETi, as in Ex. ix. 23, for j`leTe, though it looks almost like an

abbreviated Hithpael, a form which would be peculiarly suitable here in

its common meaning, grassari. UTwa in the first clause of the verse is

for UtwA, as in xlix. 15, and with the tone on the ult. The perfect, followed

by the future, shows that the second clause is subordinated to the first:

"They have set, &c., whilst their tongue goeth," &c. The construction is

the same as in ver. 3.

            I bywy.  If we retain the K'thlbh, we must assume that the sing. is here

put for the plur., the subject being virtually the same as that of the plur.

verbs in ver. 7, 8, only that now these prosperous sinners are regarded

singly, not collectively. " He, i.e. one and another of these proud,

ungodly men, makes his people (those whom he draws after him) turn

hither, i.e. copy his example;" or, more generally, "one turns his people,"

which is equivalent to the passive, "his people are turned." Hence the

                                         PSALM  LXXIII.                                                   19


Q'ri, according to which Om.fa is the subject, is unnecessary. Phillips, who

adopts the Q'ri, refers the suffix to Jehovah. His people, i.e. the people

of God. And so the Chald., and Abulwalid, and the LXX. who have o[

lao<j mou.

            m Ucm.Ayi, from the root hcm, to wring out, to drain. The verb is several

times used with htw, to drink, in order to convey the idea of draining to

the dregs. So in lxxv. 9, Is. li. 17, Ezek. xxiii. 34. It is used of wringing

out (a) the dew from the fleece, in Judg. vi. 38; (b) the blood of the

sacrifices, Lev. i. 15, v. 9. Our Version has everywhere employed wring

out as the equivalent, except in Ezek., where it has suck out. Mendelssohn


            Bethöret folgt ihm das Volk in ganzen Haufen,

                        Strömt ihm, wie Wasserfluthen, nach.

In the Biur, "waters to the full" is explained to mean "the waters of a

full river, which rush along with strength," and to be used as a figure or

comparison; "so the men of their generation run after them;" and Ucm.Ay  

is said to be for Uxc;m.Ayi, the x being dropt, as in Num. xi. 11, and Ezek.

xxviii. 16. So this word was taken, too, by the older interpreters. The

LXX h[merai>  (reading ymey;) plhrei?j e]neuretqh<sontai e]n au]toi?j. Sym. kai>

diadoxh> plh<rhj eu[reqh<setai e]n au]toi?j. Jerome, quis (ymi) plenus invenietur in eis.

            n yTer;maxA. The word, Hupfeld thinks, is out of place. What is the

meaning, he asks, " If I had said (or thought, i.e. said to myself) let me

declare thus"? Not the forming the purpose to speak so, but the

speaking so itself, would have been the treachery against the children of

God. And therefore he would transpose the word either before the

particle Mxi, "I said (thought) if I should declare thus," &c., or to the

beginning of ver. 13. See on xxxii. note c. But is it not possible that

yTir;maxA may stand parenthetically: "If (methought) I should declare


            o OmK;. If the reading be correct, this word must here stand as an

abverb, in the sense so, thus =NKe, a meaning, however, in which it never

occurs anywhere else. [Maurer, however, contends for this as the

primary meaning, K; being abbreviated from NKe and Om = hmA, indefinite,

quidquam; hence the compound Omk;. means tale quid.]  Some would

punctuate OmKA, and suppose it to stand for Mh,KA, like them (the persons

mentioned before), or like these things (such words as those just repeated),

but this form, again, is never found. Ewald would read hnA.heOmK;, and

supposes the hn.Ahe to have been dropt out because of the following hne.hi,

and we must either adopt this supposition, or with Ges., Hupf., and Del.

conclude that the word OmKi is here used abnormally as an adverb, as the

older interpreters take it. LXX. ei] e@legon, dihgh<somai ou!twj. Aq. (perhaps

Symm.), Theod., ei] e]. d. toiau?ta. Del. compares the elliptical use of the

prep. lfaK; Is. lix. 18, and the absolute use in Hos. vii. 16, xi. 7.

            p hbAw;HaxEva. The punctuation of the v with Pathach here, instead of

Qametz, appears to be arbitrary. Delitzsch, indeed, draws a distinction,

20                               PSALM LXXIII.


and says that with vA the word would mean et cogilavi, whereas with it

means et cogitabam (or, which would be unsuitable here, et cogitare volo).

But in other passages where this last form occurs, as lxix. 21; Judg. vi. 9;

Job xxx. 26, it is joined either with another verb in the fut., with vA, or

with a verb in the pret., without any mark of difference of time. There

is more force in what Del. says as to the cohortative form of the fut.,

which often serves, without a particle of condition, to introduce the

protasis. (See on xlii. note c.) So here we might render, "And when

(or if) I thought to understand," &c., kai> ei] e]logizo<mhn, as Aq. and Theod.

            In the next clause it is unimportant whether we adopt the K'thbh xyhi,

or the Q'ri xUh. The former may refer more immediately to the preceding

txoz, and the latter to the whole preceding sentence, but either must be

taken equally in a neuter sense.

            q tOxUwma occurs again only in lxxiv. 3. It is related, as Hupf. remarks,

to such forms as hxAOwm;, and the like, but is not to be derived from hxw,

as if it were for tOxUxwma, "an impossible form," but from a root xwn,

with the common interchange of letters in weak stems. (See next note.)

The LXX. kate<balej au]tou>j e]n t&? e]parqh?nai, connecting the word with the

root xWn).

            r tOhlA.Ba. The noun is apparently by transposition of letters for hlAhAB,

It occurs once in the sing. in Is. xvii. 14, elsewhere only in Job and

Ezekiel, and there always in the plur.

            s ryfiBA. So far as the grammatical form goes, this might mean in the

city, as the ancient interpreters understood (whence our P. B. V., but in

defiance of grammar, "Thou shalt make their image vanish out of the

city"). But the sense is not suitable. The word is evidently a contracted

form of the Hiphil infin. for ryfihAB;, and is used intransitively, as in xxxv.

23. For other instances of this contracted infin. see Jer. xxxix. 7; 2

Chron. xxxi. 10; Prov. xxiv. 17.

            t yKi. According to Hupfeld, this introduces the protasis "when my

heart," &c., the apodosis beginning with 1 in ver. 22, and the imperfects

(futures) being relative preterites. Similarly Ewald. But I know of no

instance by which such a construction can be defended. Commonly

when yKi introduces the protasis, followed by a verb in the future, that

tense is used in its proper future (not its imperfect) meaning. Comp.

lxxv. 3; 2 Chron. vi. 28. Delitzsch, feeling this, supposes that the

Psalmist is speaking, not of the past, but of a possible return of his

temptation, and renders, si exacerbaretur animus meus aique in renibus

meis pungerer, " if my mind should grow bitter, &c. . . . then I should

be," &c. But I cannot see why, if be taken simply as a conjunction,

(LXX., Aq., o!ti) for, and not as governing the clause, the verbs may not

be regarded as imperfects, describing continued past action. The first

verb means, properly, "to turn acid" (lit. "make itself acid"). Flam.,

acescere, Call, acidum esse instar fermenti. Perhaps Aq. meant this by

his rendering e]turou?to. The second is also strictly a reflexive, "to prick

                                          PSALM LXXIV.                                      21


oneself." Both verbs, misunderstood by the ancient interpreters, were

first rightly explained by Rashi.

            u 't dObKA. The Hebrew will admit of the rendering, "Thou wilt

receive me with glory" (accus. of instrument). So the LXX. meta> do<chj

prosela<bou me. Symm. takes 'K as the nominative, and the verb as in the

3d pers., kai> u!steron timh> diede<cato< me. Contrary to the accents, others

would take rHaxa as a prep. (referring to Zech. ii. 12, which is not really

analogous): "Thou leadest me after glory," i.e. as my aim (Ew. Hitz), or

"in the train of glory" (Hengst.). But the other interpretation, "to

glory," i.e. "to the everlasting glory of God's presence," is far better.

rHx is an adverb, as in Gen. x. 18, xxx. 21, Prov. xx. 17, and many other

places. On the use of the verb Hql in this sense, see xlix. 16. The whole

context is in favour of the rendering "to glory."





                                         PSALM LXXIV.


            THIS Psalm and the Seventy-ninth both refer to the same calamity,

and were, it may reasonably be conjectured, written by the same

author. Both Psalms deplore the rejection of the nation, the occu-

pation of Jerusalem by a foreign army, and the profanation of the

Sanctuary: but the Seventy-fourth dwells chiefly on the destruction

of the Temple; the Seventy-ninth on the terrible slaughter of the

inhabitants of Jerusalem. Assuming that both Psalms refer to the

same event, we have to choose between two periods of Jewish

history, and only two, to which the language of the sacred Poet

could reasonably refer. The description might apply either to the

invasion of Nebuchadnezzar, or to the insolent oppression of An-

tiochus Epiphanes; and with one or other of these two occasions

it has been usually connected.

            That no presumption can be raised against the latter of these

dates from the history of the Canon, I have already shown in the

General Introduction to Vol. I. pp. 17-19, and in the Introduction

to Ps. xliv.; and there are, more particularly in this Psalm, some

expressions which are most readily explained on the supposition that

it was composed in the time of the Maccabees.

            (a) One of these is the complaint (ver. 9), "There is no prophet

any more." It is difficult to understand how such a complaint could

have been uttered when Jeremiah and Ezekiel were both living; or

22                                  PSALM LXXIV.


with what truth it could be added, "Neither is there any among us

who knoweth how long," when Jeremiah had distinctly foretold that

the duration of the Captivity should be seventy years (Jer. xxv. 11,

xxix. 10).* On the other hand, such words are perfectly natural in

the mouth of a poet of the Maccabean age. For 250 years, from

the death of Malachi, the voice of Prophecy had been silent. During

that long interval, no inspired messenger had appeared to declare

and to interpret the will of God to His people. And how keenly

sensible they were of the greatness of their loss in this respect, we

learn from the frequent allusions to it in the First Book of Maccabees

(iv. 46, ix. 27,  xiv. 41). The language of this Psalm, then, is but

the expression of what we know to have been the national feeling

at that time.

            (b) Another feature of this Psalm is the description of the pro-

fanation of the Sanctuary, and the erection there of the signs (ver. 4),

the military standards or religious emblems, of the heathen. The

Book of Maccabees presents the same picture. There we read that

Antiochus, on his return from the second Egyptian campaign, "en-

tered proudly into the Sanctuary, and took away the golden altar, and

the candlestick of light, and all the vessels thereof" (i. 21). Two

years later, the king sent a division of his army against Jerusalem,

which fell upon the city and having made a great slaughter of the

inhabitants, plundered it, set it on fire, pulled down the houses and

walls, and carried away captive women, and children, and cattle. A

strong garrison was placed in the city of David, the sanctuary was

polluted, and the sabbaths and festival days profaned. The abomina-

tion of desolation was set up on the altar, and sacrifice offered "on

the idol altar, which was upon the altar of God." (I Macc. i. 30-

53. See also ii. 8-12, iii. 48-51.)

            On the other hand it has been urged, that there is nothing in

the language of the Psalm inconsistent with the supposition that it

refers to the Chaldean invasion. The desolation of Jerusalem and

the profanation of the sanctuary are described in terms quite as

suitable to that event. Indeed, one part of the description, "They

have cast Thy sanctuary into the fire," ver. 7, it is argued, would

only hold good of the destruction of the temple of the Chaldeans.

Antiochus Epiphanes plundered the temple, but did not burn it. On

the contrary, we are particularly informed that not the temple itself,

but the gates of the temple (I Macc. iv. 38; 2 Macc. viii. 33) and

the porch of the temple (2 Macc. i. 8), were burned, nor is the


            * It has been suggested to me by a friend, that this complaint would

not be unsuitable to the time of Esar-haddon's invasion (2 Chron. xxxiii.

11). That period was singularly barren in prophets.

                                      PSALM LXXIV.                                      23


complete destruction of the whole building implied in the same way

as it is in the Psalm.

            It has also been contended that even the complaint of the cessation

of prophecy is not absolutely at variance with the older date, pro-

vided we suppose that the Psalm was written during the Exile, when

both Jeremiah and Ezekiel had ceased to prophesy, and before

Daniel entered upon his office. (So Delitzsch; and Calvin admits

this to be possible). Tholuck, however, observes that ver. to, 18,

23, lead us to infer that the Chaldean army was still in the land, and

even in Jerusalem itself, and therefore that the Psalm must have been

written when Jeremiah had already been carried away in chains to

Ramah, on his way to Babylon (Jer. xl. 1). He suggests further,

that these words (and the same may be said of the words which

immediately follow, "Neither is there any among us who knoweth,"

&c.) need not be taken in their exact literal meaning. The deep

sorrow of the poet would lead him to paint the picture in colours

darker and gloomier than the reality. Seventy years—who could

hope to see the end of that weary length of captivity?—who knew

if the end would ever come? Such was the language of despondency.

To one who refused to be comforted, the end promised was as

though it were not.

            Further, both Jeremiah and Ezekiel, it has been observed, indulge

in a similar strain. Thus the former sings: "Her gates are sunk

into the ground; He hath destroyed and broken her bars: her king

and her princes are among the Gentiles:  the Law is no more; her

prophets also find no vision from Jehovah" (Lam. ii. 9). And the

latter threatens: "Then shall they seek a vision of the prophet:

but the law shall perish from the priest, and counsel from the

ancients" (Ezek. vii. 26). Neither of these passages, however, so

absolutely denies the existence of a prophet as that in the Psalm.

One other expression in the Psalm, ver. 3, "Lift up Thy feet to the

everlasting ruins," seems, it must be confessed, most suitable in the

mouth of an exile during the Babylonish captivity.

            The relation both of this Psalm and the Seventy-ninth to the

writings of Jeremiah, presents another difficulty. Jeremiah x. 25

is almost word for word the same as Ps. lxxix. 6, 7. Again, Lam.

ii. 2 resembles lxxiv. 7, and Lam. ii. 7 is very similar to lxxiv. 41

and, as we have already seen, there is at least a point of connexion.

between lxxiv. 9 and Lam. ii. 9; besides these, other minor simi-

larities may be observed, on a comparison of the Psalmist with the

Prophet. Now we know that it is the habit of Jeremiah to quote

largely and frequently from other writers, and in particular from the

Psalms and the Prophets. But on either of the hypotheses above

24                                 PSALM LXXIV.


mentioned, as to the date of our two Psalms, the writer of these must

have imitated the language of Jeremiah. This is, of course, quite

possible. A similar problem, and a very interesting one, arises out

of the relation of Jeremiah to the later chapters of Isaiah xl.—lxvi.

That one of the two writers was familiar with the other, is beyond

a doubt.

            On the whole, I am inclined to think that this Psalm may be most

naturally explained by events that took place in the time of the

Maccabees. If, in any particular, the language seems too strong as

applied to that time—as, for instance, the description of the burning

of the temple—this may be as readily explained by poetic exaggera-

tion, as ver. 9 is so explained by those who hold the opposite view.

Or perhaps, as Calvin suggests, the writer, overcome by the mournful

spectacle before his eyes, could not but carry back his thoughts to

the earlier catastrophe, and thence borrowed some images, blending

in his imagination the two calamities in one.

            The Psalm does not consist of any regular system of strophes.

            It opens with a cry of complaint, and a prayer that God would

remember His people in their desolation. Ver. 1-3.

            It then pictures the triumph of the enemy, the destruction of the

sanctuary, and the loss of Divine counsel in the day of peril. Ver.


            Then again there is an appeal to God for help (Ver. 10, 11), and

a calling to mind of God's past wonders on behalf of His people,

and of His Almighty power as seen in the world of Nature. Ver.


            And finally, based upon this, a prayer that God would not suffer

reproach to be brought upon His own Name, by the triumph of the

heathen over His people, Ver. 22, 23.



                               [A MASCHIL OF ASAPH.a]


1 0 GOD, why hast Thou cast (us) off for ever,

            (Why) doth Thine anger smoke against the sheep of

                        Thy pasture?



note on xliv. 9. The object here may

be supplied from the next clause,

viz. "the sheep of Thy pasture."


SMOKE. For the figure, compare

xviii, 8 [9], where see note. There

is a change in the tenses, the pre-

terite in the first clause being used

to denote the act of casting off, the

future (present) here to denote the

continuance of the same. See on

xliv. 9.


favourite figure in those Psalms

which are ascribed to Asaph. (See



                                  PSALM LXXIV.                               25


2 Remember Thy congregation which Thou hast pur-

                        chased of old,

            Which Thou hast ransomed to beb the tribe of Thine


            (And) the mount Zion wherein Thou hast dwelt.

Introduction, Vol. I. p. 97.) It is

found also in Jer. xxiii. 1. The

name contains in itself an appeal to

the compassion and tender care of

the shepherd. Can the shepherd

slay his sheep?



verbs contain in themselves a rea-

son why God should remember His

people. The first verb (kanah) may

mean only to get, to acquire, the idea

of a price paid for the acquisition

being not necessarily contained in

the word. So Gen. iv. 1, "I have

gotten a man with (the help of)

Jehovah:" Gen. xiv. 22, "the most

High God, possessor of heaven and

earth;" Prov. viii. 22, "Jehovah

possessed me in the beginning of

His way." And Jerome renders

here possedisti and the LXX. e]kth<sw.

Exactly analogous is the use of the

Greek peripoiei?sqai. Acts xx. 28,

"The church of God which He

purchased (acquired) with His own

blood." 1 Tim. iii. 13: "Purchase

(acquire) to themselves a good

degree." Comp. Eph. i. 14, and 1

Thess. v. 9, where see Vaughan's

note. The second verb (ga-al, to

ransom, whence goel,) from a root

meaning to loosen [see Fürst's Con-

cord.], is the technical word for

every kind of redemption under the

Law, whether of fields (Lev. xxv.

25), tithes (Lev. xxvii. 31, 33),

or slaves (Lev. xxv. 48, 49). The

next of kin was called Goël, be-

cause on him devolved the duty of

redeeming land which his poor re-

lation had been compelled to sell

(Lev. xxv. 25), and also because on

him fell the obligation of redeem-

ing, demanding satisfaction for, the

murder of a kinsman. (Num. xxxv.

12, 19, and often.)

    A third word is common in He-

brew, padah, which means properly

to separate, and then to loosen, and

so to redeem, as in Dent. ix 26,

"Thine inheritance which Thou

hast redeemed." This word is also

employed, but more rarely, in the

technical sense of the redemption

of the first-born of animals for

instance (Ex. xiii. 13, xxxiv. 20).

Both this and the verb ga-al are

frequently used of the deliverance

from Egypt and from Babylon.

    OF OLD, as in xliv. 2, with refer-

ence, doubtless, to the deliverance

from Egyptian bondage.

     THE TRIBE. Such is, apparently,

the meaning of the word here, the

whole nation being regarded, not as

many tribes, but as one tribe, pro-

bably in reference to other nations.

The same expression occurs besides

only in Jeremiah x. 16, and li. 19,

whereas in Isaiah lxiii. 17 we have

the plural form, "the tribes of Thine

inheritance." The E. V. has here

" rod of thine inheritance," and so

Luther, Calvin, and others, and the

word frequently means rod, staff

as in xxiii. 4), sceptre (as in x1v. 6

]), &c., but here it is usually ex-

plained to mean measuring-rod, and

so the portion measured out — a

meaning, however, in which the

word never occurs. Jerome explains

it by sceptre, and so Theophylact,

dhloi? de> h[ r[a<bdoj th>n basilei<an.

     The CONGREGATION represents

the people in their religious aspect,

THE TRIBE in their national and

political aspect, or as distinct from

other nations (Del.) cf. Jer. x. 16, li.

19, with Is. lxiii. 17. The two great

facts, the redemption from Egypt,

and God's dwelling in the midst of

them, the one of which was pre-

paratory to the other, seem here, as

in the Sixty-eighth Psalm, to sum

up all their history.


26                           PSALM LXXIV.

3 Lift up Thy feet unto the everlasting ruins!c

            The enemy hath laid waste all in the sanctuary;

4 Thine adversaries have roared in the midst of Thine


            They have set up their signs as signs.

    3. LIFT UP THY FEET (lit. foot-

steps, the word being a poetical

one), i.e. "come speedily to visit

those ruins which seem as though

they would never be repaired." A

similar phrase (though the words in

the original are different) occurs in

Gen. xxix. 1, where it is said of

Jacob, that after his vision, "he

lifted up his feet," a phrase "which

in Eastern language still signifies to

walk quickly, to reach out, to be in

good earnest, not to hesitate."—

Kitto, Bible Illustrations, i. 305.

    EVERLASTING, the same word as

in ver. I, "for ever," i.e. which

seem to human impatience, looking

forward as if they would never be

built again. In Is. lxi. 4, "the ever-

lasting ruins," (where, however, the

Hebrew words are different) are so

called, looking back on the long

past continuance of the desolation.

      IN THE SANCTUARY. This is

his greatest grief. His country has

been laid waste with fire and sword,

his friends slain or carried into

captivity, but there is no thought so

full of pain as this, that the holy

and beautiful house wherein his

fathers worshipt has been plundered

and desecrated by a heathen sol-

diery. Instead of the psalms, and

hymns, and sacred anthems which

once echoed within those walls, has

been heard the brutal shout of the

fierce invaders, roaring like lions

(such is the meaning of the word in

the next verse) over their prey.

Heathen emblems, military and re-

ligious, have displaced the emblems

of Jehovah. The magnificent

carved work of the temple, such

as the Cherubim, and the palms,

and the pillars, with pomegranates

and lily-work (i Kings vi. 15, &c .,

if the allusion be to the first temple)

which adorned it, have been hewed

down as remorselessly as a man

would cut down so much wood in

the forest. And then that splendid

pile, so full of sacred memories, so

dear to the heart of every true

Israelite, has been set on fire, and

left to perish in the flames. Such

is the scene as it passes again

before the eyes of his mind.

    4. THINE ASSEMBLY, i.e. here

evidently "a place of assembly," a

word originally applied to the Mo-

saic tabernacle, and afterwards to

the great national festivals. Here

it would seem the temple is meant.

Comp. Lam. ii. 6, where the word

occurs in both senses. "He hath

destroyed His assembly (or temple;

E.V. His places of assembly) . . .

He hath caused to be forgotten

solemn feast, and sabbath," &c. It

comes from a root signifying to fix

to establish, &c., and hence is used

both of a fixed time (see on 1xxv. 2)

and a fixed place.

     THEIR SIGNS. An emphasis

lies on the pronoun, comp. ver. 9.

I have retained the literal rendering,

together with the ambiguity of the

original. These were either mili-

tary ensigns, standards, trophies,

and the like (as in Num. ii. 2 ff.), the

temple having been turned into

a barrack; or, religious emblems,

heathen rites and ceremonies, per-

haps even idols, by which the

temple and altar of Jehovah were

profaned. (In this last sense the

words would aptly describe the

state of things under Antiochus

Epiphanes. Comp. I Macc. i. 54

and 59," Now the five-and-twentieth

day of the month they did sacrifice

upon the idol altar, which was upon

the altar of God." Again in chap.

iii. 48, it is said that "the heathen

had sought to paint the likeness of

their images" in the book of the


                                  PSALM LXXIV.                                27


5 It seemse as though one lifted up on high

            Axes against the thickets of the wood:

6 And now the carved work thereof f altogether

            With hatchet and hammers they break down.

7 They have set Thy sanctuary on fire;

            They have profaned the dwelling-place of Thy Name

                        (even) unto the earth.

8 They have said in their heart: "Let us make havocg

                        of them altogether."

            They have burnt up all the housesh of God in the land.


Law.) This last sense is further

confirmed by the use of the word

in ver. 9. But both meanings may

be combined, the word sign being

here used in its most general sense

of all symbols of a foreign power

of whatever kind. So Geier, "ita

ut accipiatur pro indicio potestatis

alienae, quae est turn politica, tum  

religiosae: ita namque hostes muta-

verant quoque signa priora, quibus

turn Dei, turn magistratus proprii

jurisdictio ac veneratio designa-


     5. This verse has been com-

pletely misunderstood by our trans-

lators, who have here followed

Calvin, as well as by nearly all the

older interpreters. It does not de-

scribe the preparation once made

for building the temple, by hewing

down cedars in the forest of Leb-

anon, but it compares the scene of

ruin in the interior, the destruction

of the carved work, &c., to the wide

gap made in some stately forest by

the blows of the woodman's axe.

See the use of the same figure, Jer.

xlvi. 22. Buchanan's paraphrase

gives the true meaning:--

    AEdis ruentis it fragor:

Quales sub altis murmurant quercus


Caesa bipenni quum ruunt.

      IT SEEMS, lit. "it is known,

makes itself known, appears," &c.,

as in Gen. xli. 21; Ex. xxi. 36, xxxiii.

16.  Or possibly, "he, i.e. the

enemy, makes himself known as

one who lifts up," &c.

     7. THEY HAVE SET ON FIRE, lit.

"They have cast into the fire."

Hupfeld compares the German, "in

Brand legen, stecken," and the

French, "mettre a feu."


THE EARTH, i.e. "by casting it to

the earth," as the expression is filled

up in the E. V., but in the P. B. V.

the English idiom is made to adapt

itself to the Hebrew, and this I have

followed. We have a similar con-

struction in lxxxix. 39 [4o], "Thou

hast defiled his crown to the earth,"

i.e. by casting it to the earth. For

the fuller expression, on the other

hand, see Lam. ii. 2.


THE LAND, lit. "all the assemblies,"

which must here mean " places of

assembly," as in ver. 4, and Lam.

ii. 6. The work of devastation

does not stop short with the temple.

The plain meaning of the words is

that there were many other places

for religious worship in the land

besides the temple, and that these, as

well as the temple, were destroyed.

All attempts to get rid of this mean-

ing are utterly futile. It is as-

sumed that this Psalm refers to

the Chaldean invasion, and as we

hear of no synagogues or legalized

holy places before the Exile, there-

fore it is said the temple must be

meant, the plural being here used

for the singular. It is quite true


28                       PSALM LXXIV.


9 Our signs we see not; there is no prophet any more,

            Neither is there with us any who knoweth how long.

that we have other plural forms

applied to the temple. Thus in

xxiii. 3, "Thy tabernacles," lxxii. 17,

"the sanctuaries of God," the plural

being used to denote the several

parts, courts, chambers, &c., of the

one building. But it is not only the

plural word that we have here, but

the far wider phrase, "all the places

of assembly in the land." Hupfeld

tries to escape from this difficulty

by saying that all the previous

different names of the sanctuary

are finally comprised in one—that

one house which may be called

"all the houses of God," because it

represents and is the substitute for

all and he attempts to defend this

by Is. iv. 5, where, however, "every

dwelling-place," and "her assem-

blies," are expressly confined to

"Mount Zion." Mendelssohn has

a similar explanation, except that

he supposes the expression to be

used from the point of view of the

enemy:  "They say in their heart,

that by destroying this house, we

shall destroy all the assemblies of

God together:  "Israel having but

one sanctuary, while all other nations

build houses of assembly for their

gods in every city and district.

But all this is the merest trifling,

and it is surprising that commen-

tators of unquestioned ability should

have recourse to such strained in-

terpretations. Such interpretations

are unnecessary, even on the as-

sumption that this Psalm refers to

the Chaldean invasion. Before that

time synagogues are not mentioned,

it is true, nor indeed are they in the

Books of the Maccabees; still it is

scarcely credible that even before

the Exile there were no houses of

God, no places for religious worship,

except the temple in Jerusalem.

Without holding, as Vitringa sur-

mised and as others have thought,

that sacred places, such as those

consecrated by the patriarchs and

others, in earlier times—Ramah,

Bethel, Gilgal, Shiloh--are meant,

or "the high places" (see 2 Chi..

xxxiii. 17; comp. I Kings xviii. 30,

from which it appears that in

[? before] Elijah's time there was an

altar of Jehovah on Mount Carmel),

there must have been buildings

where it was customary to meet,

especially on the Sabbath (which

in Lev. xxiii. 3 is called "an holy

convocation), and to pray, turn-

ing towards Jerusalem. There must

surely have been some public wor-

ship beyond the limits of the family,

and if so, places, houses, for its

celebration. If, however, the Psalm

be of the age of the Maccabees,

there is no difficulty, for before

that time, there can be little doubt,

synagogues were established. Our

translators would seem, by their

rendering "synagogues," to have

regarded this as a Maccabean

Psalm. See more in Critical Note.

    9. OUR SIGNS, i.e. the sign of

God's dominion and presence in

the midst of us. Taken in connexion

with what immediately follows,

"There is no prophet," &c., these

may mean miraculous signs, in

which sense the word frequently

occurs. Or it may only denote

here religious emblems, which were

displaced to make room for the

signs of the heathen. See ver. 4.

    No PROPHET. Such a com-

plaint seems most suitable to the

time of the Maccabees, when, in

fact, the complaint was frequent.

See Introduction to the Psalm.

    Stier draws attention to the em-

phatic way in which the lament

here closes: no signs—religion de-

stroyed and rooted out: no prophet

—to announce approaching con-

solation, or to begin the work of

restoration; none of us all there-

fore knows how long this sad state

of things shall last. The latter ex-

pression refers, not to the prophet

(as Hupfeld), but to the mass of

the people.

                             PSALM LXXIV.                              29


10 How long, 0 God, shall the adversary reproach?

            Shall the enemy despise Thy name for ever?

11 Why withdrawest Thou Thy hand, even Thy right hand?

            (Pluck it out) from the midst of Thy bosom, consume


12 Surely God is my King of old,

            Working deliverances in the midst of the earth;

13 THOU didst divide the sea through Thy strength,

            Thou brakest the heads of the monsters upon the



10. Taking up that word, How

long? the Psalmist turns with it to

God, beseeching Him not to suffer

this reproach to be cast upon His

Name. Twice the same appeal is

made, see verses 18 and 22. This

holy jealousy for the honour of God,

as bound up with His people's de-

liverance, is characteristic of the

Old Testament. The feeling is

strikingly exemplified in the prayers

of Moses, Ex. xxxii. 12, 13; Num.

xiv. 13-16; Deut. ix. 28, comp.

xxxii. 27.


lit. "Why makest Thou to return,"

i.e. into Thy bosom. See Ex. iv. 7,

where the full expression occurs: it

denotes, of course, a state of inac-

tivity, the hand being enveloped in

the ample folds of the Eastern robe.

     (PLUCK IT OUT.) It seems neces-

sary to supply the ellipse in this

way. The construction is a pregnant

one, similar to that which we have

already had in ver. 7. For the ab-

solute use of the verb, CONSUME,

comp. lix. 13 [14]. It may either be

rendered as above, or perhaps as

Meyer, Stier, and others, "Make an

end," i.e. of this state of things.

    12. SURELY, or, "and yet," in

spite of this seeming inactivity. The

appeal rests, first, on the fact that

God has already manifested His

power in signal instances on behalf

of His people, and next, on the

dominion of God as Creator and

absolute Ruler of the universe.

     MY KING, expressive of the strong

personal feeling of the Psalmist. See

note on xliv. 4, and comp. Hab. i. 12,

where in like manner the Prophet

claims his own covenant relation to

God, whilst speaking as the re-

presentative of the people, "Art

Thou not for everlasting, O Jeho-

vah my God, my Holy one?—we

shall not die."

    13-15. Special instances of God's

wonder-working power in the pass-

age of the Red Sea, in bringing

water from the rock, and in the

passage of the Jordan.

   13. THE MONSTERS. (Symma-

chus, tw?n khtw?n, the whales). A sym-

bolical description of the Egyptians.

Comp. Is. li. 9, and Ezek. xxix. 3,

where Pharaoh is called the "mon-

ster which is in the sea." The E.V.

has in all these places, "dragon" as

the equivalent word. Here the

LXX. have dra<kwn, to express both

this word and Leviathan in the

next clause. The same Hebrew

word, tannin, is employed again

cxlviii. 7, and also Gen. i. 21 (where

it is rendered whales), to denote

huge sea-monsters, lit. creatures

extended, stretched out, hence ser-

pents, crocodiles, &c. Perhaps the

crocodile (as in the next verse

Leviathan) is meant here as em-

blematic of Egypt. The head of

the monster has been smitten, and

the huge unwieldy carcase lies

floating on the waters.

    The plural HEADS has been sup-


30                           PSALM LXXIV.


14 THOU didst crush the heads of Leviathan,

            That Thou mightest give him as food to the people

                        inhabiting the wilderness:

15 THOU didst cleave fountain and brook;

            THOU driedst up everflowing rivers.

16 Thine is the day, Thine also is the night,

            THOU hast established the light and the sun.

17 THOU hast set all the borders of the earth:


posed to refer to Pharaoh and his

princes, as in next ver., but it may

be only poetic amplification.

    14. LEVIATHAN, i.e. the crocodile,

as in Job xl. 25 (x1i. 1. E. V.). In

what sense is this said to be given

as food to the people inhabiting the

wilderness? Bochart, who is fol-

lowed by Hengstenberg and others,

supposes that the allusion is to the

Ichthyophagi who, according to

Agatherides, fed on the sea-mon-

sters which were thrown up on

their shores. Comp. Herod. ii. 69.

Similarly, the LXX. render laoi?j

toi?j Ai]qi<oyi. Others, again, think

that by the people inhabiting the

wilderness are meant the Israelites,

to whom the Egyptians, are said,

figuratively, to be given as food,

i.e. as plunder. But by far the

simplest way is to understand the

passage as meaning that the corpses

of the Egyptians were cast upon the

shore, and so became the prey

of the wild beast, which are here

called a people inhabiting the wil-

derness, as in Prov. xxx. 25, 26,

the ants and the conies are called

"a people." Comp. also Joel i. 6,

Zeph. ii. 14.


On this word see on lxxii. note.b


TAIN, &c. Another instance of a

pregnant construction: for "Thou

didst cleave the rock, whence foun-

tain and brook issued forth." Comp.

lxxviii. 15; Hab. iii. 9. The re-

ference, is, no doubt, to Exod.

xvii. 6.

     THOU DRIEDST UP. The same

word is used, Josh. ii. 10, of the

Red Sea, and iv. 23, v. i, of the



LL streams of constant flow." The

same word occurs in Exod. xiv. 27,

"The sea returned to its constant

flow, its usual current." See also

Deut. xxi 4; Amos v. 24. Here the

Jordan is meant, the plural being

used, not to denote the several

streams by which it is fed (as Qim-

chi), but merely by way of poetic

amplification. Aq. potamou>j stereou<j.

Sym. p. a]rxai<ouj.

     16. From the wonders wrought

by God on behalf of His people in

their history, the Poet rises to the

wider view of His ever-continued,

ever-displayed power and majesty

in the world of nature. The miracle

does not lead him to forget God's

power and goodness in that which

is not miraculous. The one is rather

a witness to, and an instance of, the


    LIGHT, or rather "luminary,"

corresponding to the Greek fwsth<r

(which Aquila employs here). It is

the same word which occurs in Gen.

i. 14, 16, and is there rendered

"lights.". The singular is used col-

lectively for the plural, all the hea-

venly bodies being meant, and then

of these the sun is named as chief.

In the same way we have, as Hup-

feld remarks, Judah and Jerusalem,

Ephraim and Samaria, and so the

Greeks say, "  !Ellhnej te kai>   ]Aqhnai?oi,

and the like.


EARTH, i.e. not those merely by

which the land is divided from the

sea (Gen. i. 9, comp. Prov. viii. 29;



                                    PSALM LXXI V.                                 31

            Thou hast formed summer and winter.

18 Remember this, how the enemy hath reproached Jehovah,

            And how a foolish people have despised Thy Name.

19 0 give not the soul of Thy turtle-dove to the wild beast,k

            The life of Thine afflicted forget not for ever.

20 Look upon the covenant,

            For the dark places of the land are full of the habita-

                        tions of violence.

21 0 let not the oppressed turn back confounded,

Job xxxviii. 8, &c.), but all the

boundary lines by which order is

preserved, as those of the seasons,

those of the nations, Deut. xxxii. 8;

Acts xvii. 26, &c.

    SUMMER AND WINTER, as before,

DAY AND NIGHT, as marking the

everlasting order of the world, and

perhaps with reference to Gen. viii.

22. The literal rendering is, "Sum-

mer and winter—Thou has formed

them." This verb is used of the

fashioning of men and the animals,

Gen. ii. 7, 19, from the dust, and

here it is applied to the seasons, as

in Is. x1v. 7, to "the light and the

darkness," as creatures of God's


    18. REMEMBER. The petition re-

curs (comp. ver. 2) with renewed

force after the Psalmist has com-

forted himself with the recollection

of God's Almighty Power, as both

ruling the history of Israel, and

giving laws to the material universe.

    A FOOLISH PEOPLE, i.e. the hea-

then oppressors of Israel, whether

Chaldean or Syrian. In ver. 22,

again, we have the same word, "the

foolish (man)." There the Targum

has, "a foolish king," which has

been supposed to mean Antioehus

Epiphanes, though it might of course

refer to Nebuchadnezzar. The same

Chaldee word (xwAP;Fi tiphsha) is in

the Targum on Deut. xxxii. 21 the

equivalent of the same Hebrew word,

where again the reference is to a

heathen nation employed as the

instrument of Israel's chastisement.

In Lev. xxvi. 41, it is equivalent to

the Hebrew uncircumcised. In Ec-

clus. 1. 26, the Samaritans are called

"that foolish people."


The appeal lies to that, not to any-

thing in the Psalmist himself, or in

his people. "This," says Tholuck,

"is the everlasting refuge of the

saints of God, even in the greatest

clangers. And even if they have

broken it, can the unbelief of men

make the truth of God of none

effect?  "The covenant is that

made first with Abraham, and then

renewed with him and with the

fathers. Comp. lxxviii. 10; Is.

lxiv. 8.

    THE DARK PLACES, or, "dark-

nesses." The word occurs else-

where of the darkness of the grave,

lxxxviii. 6 [7], cxliii. 3; Lam. iii. 6,

and hence it may be used here in a

figurative sense, merely as express-

ing, generally, misery, gloom, &c.,

or as Delitzsch explains (who under-

stands the Psalm of the Chaldean

invasion), "Turn where we may,

the darkened land is full of abodes

of tyranny and oppression." It

seems most probable, however, that

those spots are meant which were

the best fitted for scenes of violence

and murder—the haunts of robbers,

who there lay in wait for their vic-

tims. The banditti would speedily

become numerous in a country

where law and order were at an

end. Com. x. 8.

   21. THE OPPRESSED, lit. "the

crushed:"  TURN BACK, as in vi.

10 [11], or, perhaps, simply " re-


32                          PSALM LXXIV


            Let the afflicted and the poor praise Thy name!

22 Arise, 0 God, plead Thine own cause;

            Remember how the foolish man reproacheth Thee all

                        the day long.

23 Forget not the voice of Thine adversaries,

            The tumult of them that rise against Thee which

                        goeth up for ever.


turn" (the usual meaning of the                           foolish man all the day." See note

verb), i.e. from his approach and                        on ver. 18.

entreaty to Thee.                                                   23. GOETH UP, i.e. which ascends

    22. REMEMBER HOW, &c.: lit,                   to heaven, crying aloud for ven-

"Remember Thy reproach from a                       geance.


     a On Maschil, see above on xxxii. note a, and General Introduction,

Vol. I. p. 86 ; on Asaph, see 1. note a, and General Introduction, Vol. I.

P. 97.

    b 'Hn Fb,we. These words seem to be a predicate, the relative being

supplied before J. So Ewald:  "Hast erlöst zum Stammer" &c.

Mendelss. renders somewhat differently, as if Fb,we depended on rkoz;, and

'Hn were the predicate: "(Denke), Des Stammes, dir zum Eigenthum,

befrei't." But in the Biur, the explanation of Ibn Ezra is quoted: "to

be a tribe on the mountain of Thine inheritance," which is substantially

the same view of the construction as that I have given. Delitzsch

(1st Edit.) takes this clause as parenthetical, and says that the relative

form of expression is here given up, though the next clause depends on

rkoz;, but in his 2d Edit. renders as in text.

    c On the form and derivation of this word see on lxxiii.

note q.

   d j~d,fEOm.  A large number of MSS. and editions have the plur.

as in ver. 8. The Chald., Qimchi, and others, have also adopted it, and it

is in itself admissible, even if the temple be meant. See note on ver. 8.

     e fdaUAyi.  It is known, and so it appears, see note on ver. 5. This word

puzzled all the ancient interpreters. The Chald. omits it altogether, but

gives the true sense of the passage, which all the others have missed.

As regards the construction, either this and the next verse describe, as in

a parenthesis, the scene of destruction, and hence the verbs are presents,

giving more vividness to the narration; or perhaps the two verses may

be taken as protasis and apodosis. As . . . so now (hTafav;).  xybimeK;, lit.

as one causing to come in, or perhaps as one bringing. So Ges.Thes, in

v. xvb, comp. Job xii. 6. In j`bAs;, the vowel is Qametz, not Qametz-

Khatuph, as Sol. Yedidyah of Norcia calls it. Comp. tDaha-btAK;, Esth.

iv. 8.

     f hAyH,UTp, carved wood work, as in I Kings vi. 29. The fem. suff.

cannot refer immediately to any of the preceding nouns. It seems to be


                                  PSALM LXXIV.                                         33


used here as a neut., in an indefinite sense, referring generally to the

"sanctuary" and "assembly" mentioned before.

    g  MnAyni. Qimchi first rightly explained this as I plur. fut. Qal. of hny  

(elsewhere, except in the Part., occurring only in Hiph.), with suff. M-A,

instead of M-e, as MrAyni; Num. xxi. 30.

    h  lxe-ydefEOm.  The word dfeOm, as has been remarked, may be used either

of a fixed place of meeting (hence the Tabernacle was called 'm lh,xo, tent

of meeting, i.e. where God met the people) or of a fixed time, and so of

the festivals, as in Lev. xxiii. 2, 4, 37. The ancient interpreters were

divided as to the signification here. Aq. has e]ne<prhsan pa<saj ta>j sun

agwga<j. On the other hand, Sym. pa<saj ta>j suntaga>j tou? qeou?. Theod.

pa<ntaj kairou<j. And the LXX., who put the words into the mouth of the

enemy, render, deu?te, katapau<swmen (pa<saj) ta>j e[orta>j tou? Kuri<ou a]po>

th?j gh?j. The sixth translator in the Hexapla (Montf.) has katakau<swmen,

which may have been the original reading of the LXX., as Jerome (in

his Ep. to Sunnia and Fretela) contends. It might easily have been

altered to avoid the awkwardness of saying, "Let us burn up all the

feasts." Jerome translates the LXX. Quiescere faciamus omnes dies festos

Dei in terra; but his own rendering of the Hebrew is Incenderunt omnes

solennitates Dei in terra.

     i Myy.icil; Mfal;. This is grammatically indefensible. If the two nouns

are in apposition, then the first cannot be in the stat. constr. It must

be MfAl;. But more probably the second has been inserted by mistake

before Myy.ici. See a similar instance in Is. xxxii. i. The LXX. laoi?j toi?j

Ai]qi<oyin. Aq. toi?j e]celeusome<noij. Theod. (la&?) t&? e]sxa<t&. E' (la&?) t&?


    k tya.Hal;. According to the accents, this word is not to be joined with

what follows; hence many regard it as the constr. state put for the absol.

But there is no instance of such usage. Others would supply hd,WA. or

some such word, beast of (the field). It is better to regard it as an

instance of a feminine noun terminating in its absolute state, in -ath

instead of -ah. See on 1xi. note a, and Qimchi's remark there quoted.

It is, then, doubtful whether we should take ty.aHa in the sense of wild

beasts, or in the sense of host (sc. of enemies). Delitzsch contends that

the latter is required, because in the very next clause it occurs in this

sense, "the congregation or host of Thine afflicted." Comp. lxviii. to

[11], and note there.

            Others would connect wp,n, ty.ahal; together, taking wp,n,; in the sense of

eagerness, as in xvii. 9 (where see note). Hence 'n l would either mean

to the eager host (sc. of enemies)—so Ges., Maur., and others—or, to the

eager (fierce, devouring) wild beast.

            Hupfeld thinks the difficulty at once got over by the simple remedy

of transposition, ytty.aHa wp,n,l; NTeTi lxa "Give not to rage (to the fierce

will of the enemy) the life of Thy turtle-dove." He tries to defend this

absolute use of wp,n, in the sense of fierce desire, by reference to xxvii. 12,

34                             PSALM LXX V.


xli. 2 [3], where the word, however, occurs with a genitive (" will of mine

enemies"), which he thinks may be supplied here from the context. In

the next clause he keeps the same meaning of 'H, "the life of Thine


            None of these explanations is satisfactory, though there can be no

doubt as to the general sense of the passage. All the ancient Versions

have misunderstood j~r,OT.  The Chald. either read j~t,rAOT, as it para-

phrases, "the souls of them that teach Thy Law," or perhaps gave this

as a midrashic interpretation. Sym. (yuxh>n) h{n e]di<dacaj to>n no<mon. Jerome,

animam eruditam lege tua. Others, apparently, as the LXX., Syr., Arab.,

and Ethiop., read j~d,OT, "the soul (which) confesseth, or giveth thanks, to

Thee." All agree in rendering the first part of the sentence alike, "Give


not to the wild beasts," except the Syr., which has        ‘ne des frac-

tioni" (Dathe); but why not praedae? as in Is. v. 29. Does not this point

to a reading hUAha or tOUha and may not the copyist have fallen into the

error by his eye catching t a a in the next line?





                                        PSALM LXXV.


            THE Psalm celebrates in prophetic strain the righteous judgement

of God. The voice of God Himself from heaven declares His

righteousness, announces to the world that He is not, as human

impatience has ever been wont to deem, regardless of wrong and

suffering, but that He only waits for the moment which to His

infinite wisdom seems best, that He may chastise the insolence of


            There are no clearly marked historical allusions in the Psalm. It

seems, however, not improbable, as has been conjectured by many

commentators (Ewald, Tholuck, Delitzsch, &c.), that it may refer to

the time of the Assyrian invasion, either as celebrating, or imme-

diately anticipating, the defeat of Sennacherib. Like Ps. x1vi. it

bears some resemblance to the prophecies of Isaiah uttered at that

time. But there is, as Ewald has observed, a difference in the

manner in which the Prophet and the Psalmist treats his subject.

The Prophet adds thought to thought and scene to scene; he expands,

enlarges upon, diversifies his theme. He sees in this one act of

righteous judgement the prelude to many others. He threatens not

the Assyrian only, but other nations who lift themselves up. The

Poet, on the other hand, seizes upon the one truth, the single thought

                                       PSALM LXXV.                                        35


of God's righteous judgement as manifested in this instance, and

strives to present it to others with the same force and vividness with

which it has filled his own mind. He too is a Prophet, a Prophet

who has heard the word of God (ver. 2, &c.) and seen the vision of

the Most High, but a Prophet, as it were, under narrower conditions

and for a more limited purpose.

            The close resemblance between many of the expressions in this

Psalm and parts of the song of Hannah in I Sam. ii. is very


            The Psalm opens with the ascription of praise which God's

wonders now and in all past time have called forth, ver. 1.

            It passes then to the prophetic announcement of the truth which

has been uttered from heaven and echoed with triumph upon earth,

of God's righteous judgement, ver. 2-8.

            Finally, it concludes with a determination to publish the praise

of Jehovah for ever, whilst the same prophetic strain of triumph is

heard, as in one last echo, repeating itself, ver. 9, 10.



                              PSALM OF ASAPH, A SONG.]


1 WE give thanks to Thee, 0 God, we give thanks;

            And (that) Thy name is near Thy wondrous works

                        have told.


    Ver. I, 2. The connexion between

these verses is not, at first sight,

very obvious. It may, perhaps,

be traced as follows. First, the

Psalmist blends in one the past

and the present. God has been,

and is now, the object of Israel's

praise; as He has both in the past

and in the present displayed His

wonders on their behalf. (Hence

the use of the perfect tense lit.

"We have given thanks," &c.)

Then he abruptly cites the words

of God, words whose fulfilment he

had just witnessed, or whose ap-

proaching fulfilment he saw in the

spirit of prophecy; words that were

themselves an exemplification of the

truth that God is near, despite the

madness of men and the disorders

of the world.


The construction of this member of

the verse is doubtful. It may be

rendered in two separate clauses:

"And Thy Name is near: they

(i.e. men, or our fathers, as in x1iv.

I, [2], lxxviii. 3) have told of Thy

wonders" (so Ewald). But it is,

perhaps, better to connect the two

clauses, as our translators have

done. Luther and Mendelssohn,

and, more recently, Hupfeld and

Bunsen, have taken the same view.

     THY NAME IS NEAR, not "near

in our mouth," i.e. as the great

object of praise (as Hengstenberg

and others explain it, referring to

Jer. xii. 2, a passage which is totally

different), but near in presence, near

in self-manifestation, near in love

and power, near in succour and



36                           PSALM LXXV.


2 "When the set time is come,

            I myself will judge uprightly.

3 (Though) the earth and all the inhabitants thereof are


            I myself have set up the pillars of it. [Selah.]


blessing. So in Deut. iv. 7, "What

nation is there that hath God so

near unto them?" Comp. xlviii.

lxxvi. 1., "His name is great in

Israel," and see xxxiv. 18 [19],

cxly. 18, and the note on xx. 2.

    2. God is abruptly introduced as

the speaker, as in xlvi. lo [11].

The oracle is thus given as from

the mouth of God Himself, to those

who may be in doubt or perplexity

because their lot is cast in troublous



lit. "When I shall have taken

(reached) the set time," i.e. the

time appointed in the Divine coun-

sels. The thread of time is ever

running, as it were, from the

spindle, but at the critical moment

God's hand arrests it. (For this

strong sense of the verb take, see

xviii. 16 [17] and comp. kairo>j dekto<j,

eu]pro<sdektoj of 2 Cor. vi. 2.) God

is ever the righteous Judge, but He

executes His sentence, not accord-

ing to man's impatient expecta-

tions, but at the exact instant

which He has Himself chosen.

The words are an answer to all such

misgivings as those in lxxiii. 3, as

well as a rebuke to all hasty and

over-zealous reformers, who would

pull up the tares with the wheat

rather than wait for the harvest.

      SET TIME. The Hebrew word

(mo'ed) has also the signification

assembly, congregation, which our

translators have adopted here, and

which is common in the phrase

"tabernacle of the congregation,"

&c. The root-idea is that of some-

thing fixed, whether time or place

(and hence persons gathered in a

place). See note on lxxiv. 4. The

former sense is clearly preferable

here. Comp. cii. 13 [14] (where the

E.V. has correctly "set time" in-

stead of "congregation" as here) ;

Hab. ii. 3, "the appointed time,"

i.e. for the accomplishment of the

vision. And so also Dan. viii. 19,

xi. 27, 35. The proper rendering is

given by the LXX. o!tan la<bw kairo<n.

Jerome and the Vulgate, cum  

accepero tempus. Symmachus, ap-

parently, led the way with the other

interpretation, o!tan la<bw th>n sunagw-

gh<n. The "congregation" would, of

course, mean all who are assembled

to behold the solemn act of judge-

ment, as in vii. 7 [8], 1. 5,.

      I MYSELF. The pronoun is em-

phatic. The Greek Version known

as the Fifth renders it still more

emphatically: "I am; I prepared

the pillars thereof for ever" (e]gw> ei]mi>,

h[toi<masa tou>j stu<louj au]th<j a]ei<. The

same prominence is given to the

pronoun in the second member of

the next verse.

     3. Such a critical moment is the

present. The world itself seems

"utterly broken down and clean dis-

solved" (Is. xxiv. 19, 20), but He

who once built it up like a stately

palace, still stays its pillars with

His hand. The natural framework

and the moral framework are here

identified. To the poet's eye, the

world of nature and the world of

man are not two, but one. The

words of Hannah's song (I Sam. ii.

8) furnish an exact parallel. "For

the pillars of the earth are Jehovah's,

and He hath set the world upon

them,"—language which, as the con-

text shows, has a moral application.

     HAVE SET UP, lit. "poised, bal-

anced." A word properly used of

fixing a thing by weight or measure.

Comp. Job xxviii. 25; Is,. xl. 12, 13.

                               PSALM LXXV                              37


4 I said unto the arrogant, Deal not arrogantly;

            And to the wicked, Lift not up the horn,

5 Lift not up your horn on high,

            Speak (not) with a stiff neck."b

6 For not from the East, and not from the West,

            And not from the wilderness (cometh) lifting up.c

7 No, God is Judge;

            He putteth down one, and lifteth up another.

8 For there is a cup in the hand of Jehovah.


     4. I SAID. Ewald and others

suppose the Divine utterance to end

with the previous verse. This is

possible; for the Poet, speaking as

a Prophet, may thus triumph in

the revelation which has just been

made, and turn it into a defiance of

the proud. At the same time, as

there is no indication of any change

of speaker, it is better to regard this

and the next verse as a continuation

of the Divine oracle.


"Unto the madmen, Deal not

madly," — the same words as in

lxxiii. 3, where see references.

      5. WITH A STIFF NECK. Here,

again, there is evidently an allusion

to the words of Hannah's song.

I Sam. ii. 3.

     6. FOR. The Poet himself speaks,

taking up and applying to himself

and to others the Divine sentence

which he had just been commis-

sioned to deliver. Glory and power

come not from any earthly source,

though a man should seek it in

every quarter of the globe, but only

from God, who lifteth up and cast-

eth down, according to His own

righteous sentence. Again, an allu-

sion to I Sam. ii. 6.


South, the great wilderness lying in

that direction. Thus three quarters

are mentioned, the North only being

omitted. This may be accounted

for, supposing the Psalm to refer to

Sennacherib, by the fact that the

Assyrian army approached from

the North; and therefore it would

be natural to look in all directions

but that for assistance to repel the


     LIFTING UP. The word is evi-

dently an emphatic word in the

Psalm; it is the same which occurs

in ver. 4 and 5, and again in ver.

7 and ver. 10.  I have, therefore,

given the same rendering of it

throughout. The rendering of the

E. V. "promotion," besides losing

sight of the manifestly designed

repetition of the same word, is pe-

culiarly unfortunate in conveying a

wrong idea. "Lifting up," in its

Hebrew sense, does not mean "pro-

motion," as we commonly under-

stand it, but deliverance from

trouble; safety; victory. The image,

in particular, of lifting up the head

or the horn (the last, borrowed from

wild beasts, such as buffaloes, &c.,

in which the horn is the symbol of

strength), denotes courage, strength,

victory over enemies. See iii. 3

[4], xviii. 2 [3], xxvii. 6. For other

interpretations of this verse, see

Critical Note.

     8. The solemn act of judgement.

God puts the cup of His wrath to

the lips of the wicked, and holds it

there till they have drained it to

the uttermost. It is the same figure

which we have already had in lx.

3 [5]. In the Prophets it occurs fre-

quently. Is. li. 17—23 (comp. xix.

14); Hab. ii. 15, 16; Ezek. xxiii.

32, &c.; Jerem. xxv. 27; xlviii.

26 ; xlix. 12; and, in the form of a

symbolical action, xxv. 15; Obad. i.

16, &c.


38                        PSALM LXXV.


            And the wine foameth,d it is full of mixture;

                        And He poureth out of the same:

            Surely the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth

                        Shall drain (them) out in drinking (them).

9          But as for me, I will declare for ever,

                        I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.

10        And all the horns of the wicked will I cut off,

                        (But) the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up.


     FOAMETH, i.e. as it is poured into

the cup from the wine-jar, as is ex-

pressed in the next member of the


     MIXTURE, i.e. the aromatic herbs,

&c., which were put into the wine to

make it more intoxicating. See the

article WINE in Smith's Dict. of the


     POURETH OUT, i.e. from the

wine-jar into the cup.

     OF THE SAME, the wine; the

DREGS THEREOF are the dregs of

the cup. (See Critical Note.)

     9. BUT AS FOR ME—placing him-

self and the congregation of Israel

in opposition to the proud oppres-

sors — I will be the everlasting

herald of this great and memorable

act. This is the true Non omnis


      10. Triumphantly in this last

verse he claims, for himself and for

the Church, a share in the signal

act of deliverance. That which God

threatens (ver. 4, 5), He accom-

plishes by the hand of His servants.

Every horn of worldly power must

fall before Him. Comp. Rev. ii.

26, 27.

     Ewald sees an emphasis in the

word all, repeated ver. 8 and here.

The punishment is, as yet, only be-

gun. Some only have drunk of that

deadly wine, but the cup is large,

and all the wicked must drain it.


    a See above on 1. note a; lvii. note 8, and General Introduction, Vol. I.

pp. 89, 97.

    b stAfA. Delitzsch and others take this, not as an adj. qualifying the

preceding noun, but as immediately dependent on the verb of speaking,

which is, in fact, its usual construction. So in I Sam. ii. 3; Ps. xxxi. 19,

xciv. 4. In this case rxAUcaB; must be taken absolutely; "with the neck,"

meaning "with a proud stiff neck," a mode of expression which it is

supposed may be defended by Job xv. 26, "he runneth against Him with

the neck," where, however, as Hupfeld remarks, the phrase seems only

equivalent to our expression "with the head."

     c MyrihA rBad;mi.mi. This reading is supported by most of the MSS. and

Edd., and can only be translated from " the wilderness of the mountains "

(Sym. a]po> e]rh<mou o]re<wn. LXX. a]po> e]rh<mwn o]re<wn), which is usually ex-

plained to mean the Arabian desert, so called because it is walled in by

the mountains of Idumea. "The desert of the mountains" is, then, a

mode of describing the South, and, according to Hengst., the allusion is

to Egypt, as the great Southern power which was the hope of Israel in

the Assyrian invasion. According to this reading, there is an aposiopesis.

Not from the East, &c., and not from the wilderness of mountains

                                 PSALM  LXXVI.                                               39


[cometh judgement (Hengst.) or lifting up (Del.)]. But it is far better to

read,  rBAd;mi.mi (absol. instead of constr.) and to take MyrihA as the Hiph. Inf.

used as a noun, lifting up, like NybihA, xxxii. 9. Qimchi testifies that in his

time (end of the 12th and beginning of the 13th century) this was the

reading of the best MSS. (it is still found in several), and the Midrash

expressly says that harim means harim (i.e. mountains) everywhere but

in this passage. The whole scope of the Psalm, where so much is said

of "lifting up," confirms this view. Ewald also adopts the reading rBAd;mi,

but supplies the copula before MyrihA, which he takes in its usual signification

"mountains," i.e. Lebanon, &c. as descriptive of the North. Thus he

completes the four quarters, as the Chald. has done also, only inverting

the order and understanding the North by the desert and the South by

the mountains.

            d rmaHA Nyiya. It seems doubtful whether Nyiya is here accusat. or nominat.

So far as the constr. is concerned, it may be the former: "It (i.e. the cup)

foameth with wine." The objection to this is that the verb is in the masc.,

whereas sOK is, in almost every instance, fern., and the suffix in hyAr,mAw;

would seem to show that it is fern. here. To this Hupf. replies: (1) that

in Jer. xxv. 15, sOK is masc. (and therefore a noun of common gender),

and (2) that the fern. suffix here refers to j`s,m, and not to sOK.

            The LXX. (poth<rion) . . . oi@nou a]kra<tou plh?rej kera<smatoj. Sym.

kai> oi#noj a@kratoj plhrw?n e]kxuqei<j.

            xlemA is a verb followed by the accus. See lxv. 10.



                                          PSALM LXXVI.


            THIS is one of several Psalms which, as has been remarked in the

Introduction to Psalm xlvi., were composed in celebration of the

miraculous overthrow of Sennacherib's army. From the days of

Israel's first occupation of the land, when God went forth with their

hosts, giving the victory by signs and wonders from heaven, no de-

liverance so signal had been witnessed. Hence it roused in an

extraordinary degree the religious fervour of the nation, and called

forth loud songs of thanksgiving. Like Psalms xlvi., xlvii., xlviii.,

this is an ode of victory over the Assyrians. It tells of Zion's glory

and Zion's safety (to which there may be an allusion in the name

Salem), because God has chosen it for His dwelling-place. It tells

of the discomfiture of that proud army, whose might was weakness

itself when arrayed against the might of Jehovah. It tells how the

warriors sank into their last sleep before the walls of the city, not

beaten down before a human enemy, not slain by any earthly arm,

but at the rebuke of the God of Jacob. And then the Poet looks

40                           PSALM LXXVI.


beyond the immediate scene. He beholds in this great deliverance,

not the power only, but the righteousness of God. It is God's solemn

act of judgement. It is His voice speaking from Heaven and filling

the earth. And the lesson which this act of judgement teaches is,

the folly of man who would measure his impotent wrath against the

Majesty of God; and the wisdom of submission to Him who is the

only worthy object of fear.

            The internal evidence points so clearly to the occasion for which

the Psalm was written, that the LXX. have inscribed it, pro>j to>n

 ]Assu<rion, and this reference has, with few exceptions, been recog-

nized by commentators, ancient and modern.

            The Psalm consists of four strophes, each of which is comprised

in three verses.

            I. The first celebrates Jerusalem and Zion as the abode of God,

and the place where He has manifested His power, ver. 1-3.

            II. The second describes in a forcible and animated manner the

sudden destruction of the beleaguering army, ver. 4-6.

            III. The third dwells on that event as a solemn, far-reaching act

of judgement, conveying its lesson to the world, ver. 7-9.

            IV. The last tells what that lesson is, counseling submission to

Him whose power and whose righteousness have so wonderfully

made themselves known, ver. 10-12.



                                   OF ASAPH. A SONG.]


                        1 IN Judah is God known,

                                    His name is great in Israel.


   1-3. The whole emphasis of this

first strophe consists in the pro-

minence given to the particular

locality where God has manifested

His power. It is on the same field

where He has so often gotten to

Himself glory. It is in Judah, in

Salem, in Zion. It is there (ver. 3,

the word is peculiarly emphatic)

that He hath dashed in pieces the

might of the foe.

    I. IS KNOWN, or perhaps more

exactly, "maketh Himself known,"

as xlviii. 3 [4], i.e. by the present

deliverance which he has wrought.

The participle expresses present


     IN ISRAEL. According to Hup-

feld, Israel is here mentioned in the

parallelism merely for the sake of

the poetry, although Judah only is

meant. He accounts for such

usage by saying that "Judah and

Israel" was a common phrase to

denote the whole nation. But if

the date assigned to the Psalm be

correct, there may be a special

reason for the mention of Israel.

Hezekiah was the first monarch

who made any attempt to restore

the ancient unity of the tribes.

After the fall of Samaria, a.nd the

deportation of the inhabitants of

the northern kingdom by Esar-had-


                               PSALM .LXX                                       41.

2 In Salem also hath been His tabernacle,

            And His dwelling-place in Zion.

don, Israel, i.e. the ten tribes, had

no longer a national existence.

And yet we read that Hezekiah, on

his accession, after purifying the

Temple, and restoring the worship

of God, "sent to all Israel and

Judah, and wrote letters also to

Ephraim and Manasseh, that they

should come to the house of the

Lord at Jerusalem, to keep the

passover unto the Lord God of

Israel." (2 Chron. xxx. I.) A study

of the whole chapter will show what

importance was attached to this

union of Israel with Judah, at the

time, and will explain, as it seems

to me, the mention of both together

in the Psalm.

    2. SALEM. The LXX. render Ev

ei]rh<n^, and the Vulg. in pace: but

the word is evidently a proper

name. "It seems to be agreed on

all hands," says Mr. Grove, "that

Salem is here employed for Jeru-

salem, but whether as a mere ab-

breviation, to suit some exigency

of the poetry and point the allusion

to the peace which the city enjoyed

through the protection of God [this

is Ewald's view], or whether, after

a well-known habit of poets, it is an

antique name preferred to the more

modern and familiar one, is a ques-

tion not yet decided. The latter is

the opinion of the Jewish com-

mentators, but it is grounded on

their belief that the Salem of Mel-

chizedek was the city which after-

wards became Jerusalem. This is

to beg the question." He shows

that this was the general belief, up

to the time of Jerome, of Christians

as well as Jews. But Jerome

places the Salem of Melchizedek

near Scythopolis, and identifies it

with the Salim of John the Baptist.

The narrative in Genesis does not

mark the return route of Abraham,

so as to furnish any data for fixing

the locality of Salem. It is pro-

bable that Abraham "would equally

pass by both Scythopolis and Jeru-

salem." On the other hand, the

distance of Sodom from the former

place (8o miles), renders it unlikely

that the king or Sodom should

have gone so far to meet Abraham,

and makes it more possible that

the interview took place after his

return; and this "is, so far, in

favour of Salem being Jerusalem."

Mr. Grove, who has discussed the

whole question with his usual learn-

ing and ability, throws out the sug-

gestion that the antithesis in ver

I, between "Judah" and "Israel"

may "imply that some sacred place

in the northern kingdom is con-

trasted with Zion, the sanctuary of

the south. And if there were in

the Bible any sanction to the iden-

tification of Salem with Shechem

[according to a tradition of Eupole-

mas, which he has quoted], the

passage might be taken as referring

to the continued relation of God to

the kingdom of Israel." Although

there is no "identification of Salem

with Shechem," there is mention

of a Salem, a city of Shechem, Gen.

xxxiii. 18. But see note on ver. 1.

Salem and Zion denote the lower

and upper city respectively.

    HIS TABERNACLE, lit. "booth,"

as made of interwoven or inter-

lacing boughs of trees, &c. (So the

feast of tabernacles is the feast

of booths or huts.) The name

may have been used, of any tem-

porary structure, and so of the

Tabernacle, and then, as here, of

the Temple. Comp. xxvii. 5, and

Lam. ii. 6.

    But I am inclined to prefer

another meaning here, and one

more in accordance with the con-

text. The word may signify a

dense thicket, the lair of wild beasts.

(It occurs in this sense in x. 9, "like

a lion in his lair.") In ver. 4 it is

said, "Thou art glorious from the

mountains of prey." May not God

be here likened to a lion couching

in his lair, and going forth from

those mountains to destroy? This

seems almost certain, when we find

                            PSALM LXXVI.                            42


3 There b brake He the arrows c of (the) bow,

            Shield, and sword, and battle. [Selah.]

4 Glorious d art Thou, excellent

            From the mountains of prey;

5 The stout-hearted have been spoiled,e

            They have sunk into their sleep,


that the word in the parallel " His

dwelling," is also used in civ. 22 of

the den of lions; "the lions roaring

after their prey, &c. . . . lay them

down in their dens." The same

word occurs in the same sense in

Am. iii. 4. Then we should render:

"In Salem is His covert, and His

lair in Zion." Dean Stanley, I find,

takes the same view, Sinai and Pal.

p. 177, note 2. As regards the

figure itself, Jehovah is said in

other passages to roar (as a lion),

Hos. xi., 10, and Joel iii. 16 [iv. 16],

cf. Jerem. xxv. 30. He is here, as

it were, identified with " the lion of

the tribe of Judah."

     3. THERE. Emphatically point-

ing to the spot where the great de-

liverance had been accomplished.

Comp. for this use xxxvi. 12 [13],

lxvi. 6, and for the general sense of

the verse xlvi. 9 [10]:

"Who stilleth wars to the end of

            the earth,

Who breaketh the bow and cutteth

            the spear in sunder,

And burneth the chariots in the



     ARROWS OF THE BOW, lit. "fiery

shafts, or lightnings of the bow,"

the arrows being so called, from

their rapid flight, and their glitter-

ing in the air: or possibly with an

allusion to the burning arrows em-

ployed in ancient warfare. See on

vii. note c.

      4. There is no comparison, as in

the E.V., "more glorious than the

mountains of prey," though the

Hebrew would admit of such a

rendering (see an instance of the

same ambiguity in the use of the

preposition, lv. 8 [9],and note there),

and it has been adopted by many

commentators. They suppose that

the Assyrian power is tacitly com-

pared either to a lion going forth

to ravin (comp. the fuller picture

in Nab. ii. 11-13 [Heb. 12-14]),

or to robbers issuing from their

strongholds in the mountains. And

thus the power of God is said to be

"more excellent" than the power

of Assyria, whether regarded as

that of a lion, or as that of armed

banditti. But such a comparison

is flat and tame, and the rendering

given in the text, which is that of

all the Greek translators and of

Jerome, is far preferable. See note

on ver. 2. God goes forth victo-

riously from Zion to crush his foes.

"The promise," Tholuck says,

"is fulfilled:--

 ‘I will break the Assyrian in my


And upon my mountains tread him

            under foot.'       (Is. xiv. 25.)

Yea, upon the mountains of Jeru-

salem they themselves must become

a prey, who had hoped there to

gather the prey." The plural, MOUN-

TAINS, either used in the wider

sense, as in the passage just quoted

from Isaiah, or possibly of Zion

only, as in lxxxvii. 1, cxxxiii. 3.

The great prominence always given

to the mountains of their native

land, both by Psalmists and Pro-

phets, is a further confirmation of

the view that the mountains of

Palestine, not those of Assyria, are

here meant. See Mr. Grove's ad-

mirable article, PALESTINE, § 26,

in Dict. of the Bible.


SLEEP. (Comp. 2 Kings xix. 35.)

The verb (which is of a different

root from the noun "sleep") ex-


                             PSALM LXX VI.                            43


    And none of the men of valour have found their hands.

6 At Thy rebuke, 0 God of Jacob,

            Both chariot and horse are cast into a dead sleep.

7 Thou, even Thou, art to be feared,

            And who can stand before Thee when once Thou art


8 From heaven Thou didst cause judgement to be heard;

            The earth feared and was still,

9 When God arose to judgement,

            To save all the afflicted of the earth. [Selah.]


presses the languor and lassitude

by which a man is overpowered, and

so falls asleep. In all other pas-

sages where it occurs, the E.V.

renders it by slumber. See, for

instance, cxxi. 3, 4; Is. V. 27, &C.

and comp. Nah. iii. 18, "Thy shep-

herds slumber, 0 King of Assyria,"

where the word is used, as here, of

the sleep of death. A third word is

employed in the next verse.


finely expresses the helplessness

and bewilderment of those proud

warriors who but a short while

before had raised their hands in

scornful defiance against Jerusalem

(see Is. x. 32). The idiom is ap-

parently similar to our common ex-

pression "losing heart." (Comp.

2 Sam. vii. 27, to "find heart.")

Hupfeld thinks that this rendering

is not supported by usage, and

would render "have found nothing,

i.e. achieved, affected nothing, with

their hands." But this is hyper-

critical. The Rabbis have the

phrase, "he has not found his

hands and his feet in the Beth ham-

Midrash" (the school of allegorical

interpretation), when they wish to

describe an ignorant, incompetent



In the Heb. this is but one word

(a participle, denoting present con-

dition). It is used of a profound

slumber, either (I) natural, or (2)

supernatural, the sleep into which

God casts men. Comp. Jud. iv. 21;

Dan. x. 9, and the noun from the

same root, Gen. ii. 21; I Sam.

xxvi. 12.

    CHARIOT AND HORSE, i.e. of

course the riders in chariots and

on horses (as the ancient Versions

paraphrase). The figure is so ob-

vious, that it might be left to explain

itself, were it not for the strange

prosaic misunderstanding of Heng-

stenberg, who supposes that the

chariot is said to sleep, because it

has ceased to rattle.

     Byron's animated lines on the

destruction of Sennacherib, which

may have been partly suggested by

this Psalm, will occur to every


"And there lay the steed with his

            nostril all wide,

But through it there rolled not the

            breath of his pride:

And the foam of his gasping lay

            white on the turf,

And cold as the spray of the rock-

            beating surf.

And there lay the rider distorted

            and pale,

With the dew on his brow, and the

            rust on his mail."


ANGRY, lit, "from the time of

Thine anger." See a similar form

of expression, Ruth ii. 7; Jer. xliv.


     8. As in the last Psalm, God is

spoken of as the Judge (this is a


44                        PSALM LXX VI.

10 For the wrath of man must praise Thee,

            With the remainder of wrath Thou girdest Thyself.f

11 Vow and pay unto Jehovah your God;

            Let all that are round about Him bring presents unto

                        Him who ought to be feared.

12 He cutteth off the spirit of princes:

            He is to be feared by the kings of the earth.


peculiar feature in the Psalms as-                       denoting either wrath of every kind,

scribed to Asaph); and, as in that,                       or wrath in its intensity. See note

He speaks from heaven, terrifying                      on lxviii. 35 [36], and for a like use

His enemies with the thunder of                                     of the plural (i Sam. ii. 3), where "a

His word. Comp. lxxv. 2, 3, 7, 8                          God of knowledge" is lit. "a God.

[3, 4, 8, 9]. The train of thought                          of knowledges."

in that Psalm has certainly suffi-                              11. This is the end. God has

cient in common with the train of                        wrought His terrible act of judge--

thought in this to justify us in                               ment—but the first of a long series

assigning both to the same period.                       of judgements to be executed on the

    10. WITH THE REMAINDER OF                nations, unless by timely submission

WRATH, &c. The meaning is not                      they acknowledge Him as their King.

very clear. Whose wrath is here                         See the similar exhortation in ii. 11.

meant? that of man, or that of                                 VOW AND PAY. See on xxii. 2;

God? Some understand the latter,                       [26], BRING PRESENTS, comp. lxviii.

and explain the verse thus: All the                       29 [30].

wrath of men, every attempt that                             ALL THAT ARE ROUND ABOUT,

they make to defeat the will of God,                    i.e. the heathen nations, who are to

does but turn to their own discom-                      bring presents in token of homage,

fiture, and His glory; and after all                        as in lxviii. 30.

their efforts, He has a store, a resi-                          UNTO HIM WHO OUGHT TO BE

due, of wrath to pour out upon them                    FEARED, lit. "to the fear," i.e. the

as punishment. But the objection                         proper object of fear. See the

to this is, that in the previous clause                    same use of the word in Is. viii. 12.

the wrath spoken of is that of man:                     In like manner God is called "the

and it is better to retain the same                                    Fear of Isaac" in Gen. xxxi. 42, 53

subject in both clauses. Then we                        (though there the word is different).

have:—                                                                  12. This verse, or at least the first

   (a) Man's wrath does but praise                      clause of it, reminds us of the last

God.                                                                 verse of the preceding Psalm, which

    (b) With the remainder of man's                     closes in a similar strain.

wrath, his last impotent efforts to                             HE CUTTETH OFF, like a vine-

assert his own power, God girds                         dresser, who prunes away the rank

Himself, puts it on, so to speak,                           boughs, or cuts off the ripe clusters

as an ornament—clothes Himself                       of the vine. Comp. Is. xviii. 5,

therewith to His own glory.                                where the same image is employed

    Thus the parallelism of the two                      by the Prophet at the sarne time,

clauses is strictly preserved.                               Jude viii. 2, xx. 45 ; Jer. vi. 9, li.

    The word WRATH is in the plural,                 33 ; Joel iii. 13, [iv. 13] ; Rev. xi.v. 15.,


            a tnoynin;Bi. See on iv. note a, and General Introduction, Vol. I. p. 87..

On Asaph, see 1. note a.

            b hmA.wA here used apparently as = MwA. Hupfeld refers to its use in the

common phrase hm.AwA Mk,lA dfeUAxi rw,xE (Ex. xxix. 42, al.), "where I meet

                                       PSALM LXX VI.                                        45

with you;" but surely there motion to a place is implied = "whither I go

to meet you." More in point is Ezek. xlviii. 35, Jehovah shammah,

"Jehovah is there. See also cxxii. 5; Is. xxxiv. 15 (where MwA occurs in

the parall.); Jer. xviii. 2; 1 Chron. iv. 41. "The Semitic accus. has a

wide signification, and denotes not only the whither (and how long), but

also the where (when and how), so that, for instance, HtAP, in the accus.,

and hHAt;P,, mean before, or at the door, as hrAfEwa, at the gate. Again, the

accusative ending h-A, is only met with in a partial and fragmentary

manner; and in dying out seems to have lost much of its original

meaning. Finally, of this particular word neither the Arab. nor Aram.

has the simple form, but only the accus. form in the same sense." The

above is from Hupfeld.

            cq ypew;ri. The word Jw,r, denotes any hot, glowing substance. Hence

Cant. viii. 6, wxe yPew;ri (where observe the Dagesh, which-is wanting here),

"coals of fire;" Job v. 7, 'r yneB;, " sons of burning," or, a firebrand,

interpreted by many to mean sparks. In Hab. iii. 6, the word is used of

a burning fever.

            d rOxnA, a Niphal form from rOx (which, like wOB, bOF, is intrans.), and

therefore questionable; for rOxye, in 2 Sam. ii. 32, is not fut. Niph, but

Qal, like wObye, as Hupf. observes. He therefore thinks that perhaps xrAOn

should be read; comp. ver. 8, 13, and so Theod. fobero<j. Sym., however,

has e]pifanh<j, the LXX. fwti<zeij, Aq. fwtismo<j, and Jerome, Lumen. As

regards the construction of Nmi in the next hemistich all the Greek versions

render it by a]po<. Jerome has a montibus captivitatis.

            e  Ull;OTw;x,, lit. have suffered themselves to be plundered (an Aramaic

form instead of 'Tw;hi. Comp. rBeHat;x,, 2 Chron. xx. 35;  yTil;xAn;x,, Is. lxiii.

3). This is an instance, according to Hupf., of the passive use of the

Hithpael. He quotes other instances given by Gesen. and Ewald, of an

alleged similar use. But in every one of these examples, the reflexive

meaning may be retained; and in fact it is retained, in most cases, by

syme one of the translators or commentators. Here, for instance,

Phillips says:  "They have been plundered, or they have exposed them-

selves to plunder, agreeably to Abu'l Walid, who has taken the verb in a

reciprocal, and not in a passive sense: they have despised themselves,

i.e. they have cast away their weapons." So in Dad. xx. 15, 17, ZUnZ has

"stellten sick zur Musterung" and in xxi. 9, "liess sick mustern." (In-

deed it is quite astonishing that the Hithp., in these instances, should

have been regarded as a passive.) In Micah vi. 16, he renders "halten

sich." On, Eccl. viii. to, Preston remarks : "The verb UHK;Taw;yi, being in

the Hithp., expresses that their quiet and unostentatious lives cause them

to be forgotten, ‘that they sink of themselves into oblivion.’"  In Is. lix.

15,  lleOTw;mi (the same verb that we have here) is rightly rendered in the

E. V. "maketh himself a prey." In Prov. xxxi. 30, gets to herself praise,

and in Lam. iv. 1, pour themselves out (inanimate things, by a common

figure, having life attributed to them); in 1 Sam. in. 14, shall not make

atonement for itself, lit. shall not cover itself, are the proper renderings of

the several Hithpaels. There is no necessity, I am satisfied, in any case,

46                                               PSALM LXXVII.


to lose sight of this strict reflexive meaning of the conjugation, though it

may be more convenient in another language to employ the passive, just

as in rendering the German phrase, " davon findet sich keine Spur," in

English, we may say, “No trace of it is found;" yet it would be absurd

to maintain that the German reflexive is here used as a passive. Ewald,

indeed, limits this pass. use of the Hithp. to rare cases, and to the. later

books chiefly, and only gives the two passages from Micah and Ecclesi-

astes, as illustrating it (Lehrb. d. H. S. § 124 c. p. 284, 6te Auf.); but even

in these the proper reflexive force is retained. The rendering is merely a

question of idiom.

            f rGoH;Ta. There is no reason for departing from the ordinary meaning

of the root. ( Jerome, accingeris, and so apparently the Chald. and Sym.

lei<yanon qumw?n perizw<sei.) Comp. Is. lix. 17, &c. Qimchi gives this sense

in his commentary, but in his Michlol he explains it by rvsxt, restrain

(as it is found in a passage of the Mishnah, and in accordance with the

signif. of the cognate roots in Arab. and Syr.). The LXX. again have

e[orta<sei soi, and must therefore have read j~GeHAT;, shall hold festival to

Thee, answering to the parall. shall praise Thee. This Ewald adopts,

observing: "Ver. 11 contains a very lofty thought. The only object with

which Jehovah judges and punishes is, that even the most furious trans-

gressors may at last attain to wisdom and to the praise of Jehovah; and

though many fall under His chastisements, at least the remainder, taught

by these terrible examples, will be saved. Or to put it in a shorter and

more emphatic form: The wrath of man itself will praise Thee, being

suddenly changed to its opposite, and as it were against its will.




                                    PSALM LXXVII.


            THIS Psalm is the record, first, of a sorrow long and painfully

questioning with itself, full of doubts and fears, trying in vain to find

in itself, or in the past, a light for the present; and then of the

triumph over that sorrow by the recollection of God's love and

power, as manifested in the early history of Israel. By whom the

Psalm was written, or to what period of the history it is to be referred,

it is now impossible to say. The manner in which, towards the

close, the passage of the Red Sea is dwelt upon, has led many to

conclude that it was written by one of the exiles during the Baby-

lonish captivity. Those two memorable events, the deliverance from

Babylon, and the deliverance from Egypt, were always associated in

the minds of the Jews, the one being regarded, in fact, as the pledge

of the other. This, however, in itself, is not decisive. At any time

of great national depression, the thoughts of the true-hearted in

                                 PSALM LXX VII.                                       47


Israel would naturally revert to God's first great act of redeeming

love: and other Psalms (the 78th, the Both, the 81st), evidently

not written during the Exile, look back to the Exodus, and the

wonders of God's hand displayed then, and in the journey through

the wilderness. Besides, an inference of a positive kind, in favour

of an earlier date, has been drawn from the relation of this Psalm

to the Prophecy of Habakkuk. Delitzsch, in his commentary on

the Prophet, has traced carefully the coincidences in thought and

expression between Hab. iii. 10-15, and verses 16-20 [17-21] of

the Psalm. Among the various arguments by which he endeavours

to establish the priority of the Psalm, two seem to be of weight;

first, that the Prophet throughout his ode is in the habit of quoting

from the Psalms; and secondly, that with his eye on the future, he

arrays all the images of terror and magnificence which are suggested

by the past, in order to describe with more imposing pomp the

approaching advent of Jehovah; whereas the Psalmist is not looking

to the future, but dwelling on the past: hence it is far more probable

that the Prophet imitates the Psalmist, than that the Psalmist borrows

from the Prophet. Supposing this to be satisfactorily established,

we might reasonably infer that this Psalm was not written later than

the reign of Josiah. But on the other hand, as Hupfeld has pointed

out, the mode of expression in Habakkuk, as compared with that

here employed, would lead us to an exactly opposite conclusion.

(I) The figure in Hab. iii. 10, "The mountains saw Thee, they were

afraid (lit. in pangs or throes)," is more natural and correct than the

use of the same figure as applied in the Psalm to the waters (ver. 16

[17]). (2) The phrase, "the overflowing of the waters," in Hab. iii.

to, is more simple and natural than the corresponding phrase in ver.

17 [18] of the Psalm, as I have remarked in the Critical Note on

that verse, the verbal form here employed occurring nowhere else.

Hence it is most likely that the latter was a designed alteration in

copying from the former. (3) That the lightning should be termed

the "arrows" of God in Habakkuk, is quite in keeping with the

martial character and figures of the whole passage. In the Psalm,

on the other hand, the figure seems more out of place.

            There is some force, no doubt, in this argument. There is less, I

think, in that which Hupfeld urges, on the ground of the apparent

want of connexion between the "lyric episode," ver. 16-19

[17-20], and the rest of the Psalm. It is true that the rhythm of

this portion is different, being in three members instead of in two;

and that here the strophe consists of four verses [or five], whereas

the preceding strophes consist of three. But these are of themselves

unimportant variations. Nor do I see that ver. 20 [21] is naturally

48                            PSALM LXXVII.


connected with ver. 15 [16]. On the contrary, it is far more striking

(see note) in its present position. As to the objection that a single

instance of God's deliverance is so enlarged upon, is made to occupy

so prominent a place, that is surely quite in accordance with the

true genius of lyric poetry; not to mention that it was the one great

act from which the whole history dated, and which has left its stamp

on all the literature of the people.

            But whenever, and by whomsoever, the Psalm may have been

written, it clearly is individual, not national. It utterly destroys all

the beauty, all the tenderness and depth of feeling in the opening

portion, if we suppose that the people are introduced speaking in

the first person.* The allusions to the national history may indeed

show that the season was a season of national distress, and that the

sweet singer was himself bowed down by the burden of the time, and

oppressed by woes which he had no power to alleviate; but it is his

own sorrow, not the sorrows of others, under which he sighs, and of

which he has left the pathetic record.

            The Psalm falls naturally into two principal parts: the first, verses

1-9, containing the expression of the Psalmist's sorrow and dis-

quietude; the second, verses 10-20, telling how he rose above them.

            Of these, again, the former half consists of strophes of three verses,

1-3, 4-6, 7-9, the end of the first and third being marked. by

the Selah. The latter may also be divided into three strophes, the

first two only being of three verses each, 10-12, 13-15 (the second

having the Selah), and the last consisting of five, 15-20.



                                   PSALM OF ASAPH.]


1 With my voice unto God let me cry,b

            With my voice unto God, and may He give ear unto me.c


1. AND MAY HE GIVE EAR, or                     dress to God, " And do Thou give

more literally, in the form of an ad-                     ear." The constant interchange of


            * It is much to be .regretted that the author of the Art. PSALMS in

Dict. of the Bible (vol. ii. p. 957), should have committed himself to the

theory that all the Psalms ascribed to the Levitical singers are of necessity

national. He has thus been obliged to give a most strained and unnatural

interpretation to many of them. Thus, for instance, he holds that this

Psalm is "the lamentation of the Jewish Church for the terrible political

calamity . . . . whereby the inhabitants of the northern kingdom were

carried into captivity, and Joseph lost, the second time, to Jacob." And

still more strangely, of the 73d Psalm, that "though couched in the first

person singular, (it) is really a prayer of the Jewish faithful against the

Assyrian invaders." (Ib. p. 959.) This is, I must think, an entire mis-

understanding of a very striking Psalm.

                              PSALM LXXVII.                                49


2 In the day of my distress I sought the Lord;

            My hand was stretched out in the night and failed


            My soul refused to be comforted.

3 I would remember God, and must sigh,d

            I would commune (with myself), and my spirit is

                        overwhelmed. [Selah.]

4 Thou halt held mine eyes waking;e

            I am so troubled that I cannot speak.

5 I have considered the days of old,

            The years of ages (past);


tenses in the first six verses lends

vividness to the expression of the

Psalmist's feelings. Sometimes, as

in ver. 2, 4, 5, we have the past

tenses in narration, and then alter-

nating with these, the paragogic

future or optative, as in ver. 1, 3, 6,

expressing purpose, resolve, and the

like. And thus are marked the fluc-

tuating emotions of the mind, ever

passing from the mere statement of

fact to the utterance of feelings and


     2, 3. These verses show both the

reality and earnestness of the prayer,

and the strong faith of the Psalmist.

It is no occasional petition hastily

put up, but a struggle, like that of

Jacob, through the livelong night.

It is even a sorer conflict, for he has

not found the blessing as Jacob did.

He cannot be comforted. He would

think of God, but even that thought

brings him no strength: he looks

within, and his sorrow deepens.

    2. WAS STRETCHED OUT, lit.

"poured out" like water, 2 Sam.

xiv. 14; or as the eye is said to be

poured out or dissolved in tears,

Lam. iii. 49; here apparently ap-

plied to the hand stretched out in

prayer. "The stretched-out, weak

and powerless hand," says Heng-

stenberg, " conveys the picture of a

relaxation of the whole body." Or

there may be a confusion of meta-

phor, that being said of the hand

which could only properly be said

of the eye (so the Targum sub-

stitutes the latter for the former).

Rashi explains my hand to mean

the hand, or blow, laid upon me,

and hence came the singular ren-

dering of the E. V., my sore

ran, &c.

    AND FAILED NOT (or it may be

rendered as an adverbial clause,

without intermission. Sym. e]kte<tato

dihnekw?j), lit. "and grew not cold,"

like a corpse; "became not weary,"

used, like the last verb, of tears.

Comp. Lam. ii. 18, "Let tears run

down like a river day and night:

give thyself no rest;" and iii. 49,

"Mine eye trickled down (the

word rendered above was stretched

out), and ceaseth not, without any

intermission." The words rest and

intermission are derivatives from

the verb here employed, and are

applied to tears, perhaps as frozen

at their source.

    REFUSED. Comp. Gen. xxxvii.

35, where the same is said of Jacob

when he received the tidings of

Joseph's death.

    3. MUST SIGH, or "groan." It

is the word used of the roaring of

the sea, xlvi. 3 [4]. See Rom. viii. 26

(stenagmoi?j a]lalh<toij) "St. Paul

teaches us that it is the Holy Ghost

who in such sighs makes inter-

cession for believers with God."—


     4. I CANNOT SPEAK. Silence and

thought succeed to the uttered


50                         PSALM LXXVII.


6 I would call to remembrance my song in the night,

            I would commune with my heart,—and my spirit hath

                        made diligent search:

7 "Will the Lord cast off for ever?

            And will He be favourable no more?

8 Hath His loving-kindness come to an end for ever?

            Hath (His) promise failed to all generations?

9 Hath God forgotten to be gracious?

            Hath He shut up in anger His tender mercies?" [Selah.]

10 Then I said: This is my sorrow,f

            That the right hand of the Highest hath changed.


prayer. But the heart still prays on

in secret, though the mouth is silent.

     6. MY SONG, properly, a song

sung to a stringed instrument, as the

harp. He would console himself

with the recollection of a happier

past. Such recollections, as Tholuck

remarks, may hush the storm of the

soul, may give a man courage to

say to himself, Thou art His, He

cannot forsake thee. But such re-

collections may also be made the

very instruments of Satan's tempta-

tions, when the soul asks, Why is it

not always thus? and so falls into

the sad and desponding thoughts

which follow in the next verses.

     IN THE NIGHT. This repeated

mention of the night (see ver. 2)

shows that he was one who loved

the stillness and the solitude of night

for meditation and prayer. (Comp.

xvi. 7, xvii. 3; Is. xxvi. 9.)

    8. God's loving-kindness and

God's promise (or, word, as in lxviii.

11 [12], and Hab. iii. 9) are the two

props of his faith.


CIES. The words are evidently

placed with design in juxtaposition,

in order to heighten the contrast.

Comp. Hab. iii. 2, "In wrath re-

member mercy," where there is

the same juxtaposition in the He-


    10. All this that I have been ask-

ing myself, and saddening myself

with asking, seems impossible, and

yet it is this very change which

perplexes me.

     MY SORROW, or perhaps "my

sickness," i.e. as Calvin explains, a

disease which is only for a time,

and to which, therefore, I should

patiently submit. Comp. Jer. x. 19.

Others, "my infirmity," i.e. the

weakness of my own spirit, which

leads me to take this gloomy view,

and which I must resist.

     THAT THE RIGHT HAND, &C., lit.

"the changing of the right hand."

This fact, that it is no more with

him as in days past, it is which fills

him with grief. And then in the next

verse he recovers himself, and

passes from self-contemplation to

record God's wonders for His peo-

ple. But another rendering is pos-

sible. The word changing (sh’noth)

may mean years (as it does in ver.

5): "The years of the right hand,"

&c., and the whole verse might be

understood thus:

"Then I thought: This is rny sad-


The years of the right hand of

            the Most High."

i.e. the very recollection of those

years, and God's help vouchsafed

in times past, does but increase my

present gloom.

    The E. V. connects this second

clause with the following verse, and

repeats the verb from that verse.

See more in Critical Note.


                                 PSALM LXXVII.                                 51


11 (But) I will celebrate the deeds of Jah,

            For I will call to remembrance Thy wonders of old;

12 Yea, I will meditate on all Thy work,

            And commune with myself of Thy doings.

13 0 God, Thy way is holy!

            Who is a great God as (our) God?

14 Thou, even Thou, art the God that doest wonders,

            Thou hast made known Thy strength among the peoples.

15 Thou hast with (Thine) arm redeemed Thy people,

            The sons of Jacob and Joseph. [Selah.]


     11. With this verse the change

of feeling begins. Hitherto he has

looked too much within, has sought

too much to read the mystery of

God's dealings by the light of his

own experience merely. Hence the

despondency, when he contrasts the

gloomy present with the far brighter

and happier past. He cannot be-

lieve that God has indeed forgotten

to be gracious, that He has indeed

changed His very nature; but that

he may be re-assured and satisfied

on this point, his eye must take a

wider range than that of his own

narrow experience. There lies be-

fore him the great history of his

people. There recurs especially

the one great deliverance never

to be forgotten, the type and the

pledge of all deliverances, whether

of the nation or of the individual.

On this he lays hold, by this he sus-

tains his sinking faith. Calvin says:

"Jam animosius contra tentationes

exsurgit Propheta quae fere ad op-

primendam ejus fidem praevalu-

erant. Nam recordatio hec operum

Dei ab ea cujus ante meminit [ver.

5] differt: quia tunc eminus intue-

batur Dei beneficia, quae lenire vel

minuere dolorem nondum poterant.

Hic vero arripit quasi certa testi-

monia perpetuae gratiae, et ideo

vehementiae causa sententiam re-


   THY WONDERS. The word is in

the singular (though the Ancient

Versions and many MSS. have the

plural) here, and also in ver. 14. So

also in the next verse THY WORK,

because the one great wonder,

the one great work in which all

others were included, is before his

thoughts. Comp. Hab. iii. 2, " Re-

vive Thy work."

     13. Is HOLY, lit. "is in holiness,"

not as others, " in the sanctuary,"

for the Psalmist, though speaking

generally of God's redeeming love

and power, is evidently thinking

chiefly of the deliverance from

Egypt, on which he afterwards

dwells. In this and the next verse

there is an allusion to Exod. xv. 11,

"Who is like unto Thee, 0 Jehovah,

among the gods? Who is like Thee,

glorious in holiness, fearful in

praises, doing wonders?" (where

the noun, as here, is singular.)


word especially applied to the deli-

verance from Egyptian bondage.

See note on lxxiv. 2. "The word

‘Redemption,’ which has now a

sense far holier and higher," says

Dean Stanley, "first entered into

the circle of religious ideas at the

time when God ‘redeemed His

people from the house of bond-

age."— Jewish Church, Lec. V.

p. 127.

     JOSEPH, mentioned here appa-

rently as the father of Ephraim

(comp. lxxviii. 67), and so as repre-

senting the kingdom of Israel (as

lxxx. 1 [2], lxxxi. 5 [6]); perhaps

this special mention of Joseph may

indicate that the Psalmist himself

belonged to the northern kingdom.


52                                 PSALM LXX VII.


16 The waters saw Thee, 0 God, the waters saw Thee, they

                  were troubled

            Yea, the depths also trembled;

17 The clouds poured outg water; the skies thundered;

            Yea, Thine arrows went abroad;

18 The voice of Thy thunders rolled along,h

            The lightnings gave shine unto the world:

                        The earth trembled and shook.

19 Thy way wasi in the sea,

            And Thy paths k in the mighty waters:

                        And Thy footsteps were not known.


     16-20. There follows now a de-

scription of the manner in which

the redemption (ver. 15) was accom-

plished in the passage of the Red

Sea. In verses 17, 18, the rain,

the thunder and lightning, and the

earthquake, are features of the

scene not mentioned in the history

in Exodus, though Tholuck sees an

allusion to a storm in Exod. xiv. 24.

Both Philo (V M. i. 32) and Jose-

phus (Ant. ii. 16 § 3) add this cir-

cumstance in their narrative of the

event. "The Passage, as thus de-

scribed," says Dean Stanley, "was

effected, not in the calmness and

clearness of daylight, but in the

depth of midnight, amidst the roar

of the hurricane, which caused the

sea to go back—amidst a darkness

lit up only by the broad glare

of the lightning, as the Lord

looked out of the thick darkness

of the cloud." He then quotes

these verses of the Psalm. (Jewish

Church, pp. 127-8.) This is one of

those instances in which we obtain

valuable incidental additions, by

means of the Psalmists and Pro-

phets, to the earlier narratives.

See Mr. Grove's Article on OREB,

in Smith's Dict. of the Bible.

    16. SAW THEE. Comp. cxiv. 3,

where both the Red Sea and the

Jordan are mentioned, a passage

which Hupfeld thinks is the original

from which both this and Hab. iii.

to are copied.

WERE TROUBLED, lit. "were in

pain," as of travail. The same ex-

pression is used of the mountains in

Hab. iii. 10: "The mountains saw

Thee, they were in pain;" where the

verb seems more aptly to describe

the throes of the earthquake, by

which the mountains are shaken.

     17. The way is made by means

of tempest and hurricane..

     POURED OUT. Comp. Hab. iii. 10

(where the noun is from the same

root): "the overflowing of the

waters." E.V. In the same way

the lightning is spoken of as "the

arrows" of God, in Hab. iii. 11,

     18. ROLLED ALONG, lit. "was in

the rolling," with allusion to God's

chariot; or perhaps "in the whirl-

wind" or "rolling cloud." See

Critical Note.

     GAVE SHINE. I have adopted

here the Prayer-Book Version. of

the same words in xcvii. 4 (its ren-

dering in this place is less correct),

in preference to that of the E. V.,

"the lightnings lightened," (I) be-

cause the verb and the noun are

from entirely different roots; (2)

because the idiomatic "gave

shine" is an exact equivalent of

the Hebrew.


KNOWN.  "We know not, they knew

not, by what precise means the de-

liverance was wrought: we know

not by what precise track through

the gulf the passage was effected.


                       PSALM LXXVII.                                    53

20 Thou leddest Thy people like sheep

            By the hand of Moses and Aaron.


We know not, and we need not                          contrast, Is. xl. 10—12, li. 15, 16,

know; the obscurity, the mystery                        lvii. 15.

here, as elsewhere, was part of the                          So ends the Psalm. Nor can I

lesson. . . . All that we see distinctly                   see in such a close that abruptness

is, that through this dark and ter-                         which has led shine commentators

rible night, with the enemy pressing                     to suppose that the Psalm was never

close behind, and the driving sea on                    finished. The one great example is

either side, He led His people like                       given, and that is enough. All is

sheep by the hand of Moses and                                     included in that; and the troubled,

Aaron."—STANLEY, Jewish Church,             desponding spirit has found peace

p. 128.                                                              and rest in the view of God's re-

    20. This verse stands in beauti-                       demption. "He loses himself, as

ful and touching contrast with the                       it were, in the joyful recollection."

last. In that we have pourtrayed                                     (De Wette.) So may every son ow-

the majesty, the power, the un-                           ful spirit now find peace and rest in

searchable mystery of God's ways;                     looking, not to itself, not even to

in this, His tender and loving care                       God's dealings with itself, but to

for His people, as that of a shep-                        the cross of Christ.

herd for His flock. See for a like


            a NUtUdy; lfa see on xxxix. note a, and General Introduction, Vol. I. p. 89.

            b hqAfAc;x,v;. The use of the conjunction here may be explained by

supposing in the previous clause an ellipse = "my voice (is directed) to God, and I

would fain cry." Hupf. assumes a double subject, as in iii. 5, cxlii. 2, though

it is sufficient in these instances to take yliOq as accus. of  the instrument.

            The paragogic h shows that the verb is an optative. The same form

recurs ver. 4, 7, 12, 13. Alternating as it does with the perfects, it well

describes the strong emotions of the Psalmist's mind. This nice dis-

tinction of tenses has been too often completely overlooked.

            c NyzixEhav;, not the infin., but the imperat, And do Thou give ear to me,

by a somewhat abrupt transition. Ewald and others would soften this

harshness by taking it as the preterite, with change of vowels, for Nyzix<h,

And in this they are supported by the LXX. kai> h[ fwnh< mou pro>j to>n

qeo>n, kai> prose<sxe moi, and Sym. kai> boh<santo<j mou pro>j to>n qeo>n,

pare<sxe ta>j a]koa>j au]tou?. But the preterite with the v; may be equivalent to a

future, and I have rendered accordingly.

       d The double paragogic form may be taken here as marking protasis

and apodosis. "When I remember, then I sigh," &c. (so Ewald): or as

in the text. See on xlii. 5, note c, and lv. 3, 18.

            e tOrmuw;, only here. It may be either for, (I) tOrmuw;xa, the night-

watches. Comp. for the sense lxiii. 7; and then, "Thou hast held the

night-watches of mine eyes," = "Thou hast held mine eyes in the night-

watches." Or (2) the eyelids (so called as guards, keepers of the eye, as

R. Mosheh Hakkohen explains), as the Chald., Ges., De Wette, &c. the

meaning being, Thou hast held them so that I could not close them in

sleep. Or (3) it may be the part. pass., as a predicate to the noun

eyes = watchful, waking.

54                              PSALM LXX VII.


    f ytiOl.ha, with the accent drawn back, because of the tone on the

following monosyllable. This is either (I), as Qimchi takes it, an infin.

(like tOn.Ha, ver. 10), from llH, meaning lit. my wounding, and so my

sufering. Comp. for this use of the verb, cix. 22 (so Ewald). Or (2),

infin. Piel of hlH, my sickness, lit. "that which makes me sick." See the

same verb in the Piel, Deut. xxix. 21, "the diseases wherewith Jehovah

hath made it sick." Hiph., Is. H. io. This seems to be supported by

the parallel passage Jer. x. 19, "And I said, Surely this is my sickness

(yliH# hz,) and I will bear it," i.e. God has laid His hand upon me, and I

will resign myself to His chastisement. Here, too, there is a similar

expression of resignation. Or (3), the verb has been supposed to occur

here in the same sense as in the phrase 'P yneP; Hl.AHi, to entreat the favour

of any one. Hence it has been rendered my supplication. But the

objection to that is, that here the phrase is incomplete, the noun being

wanting, whereas the verb by itself never means to supplicate.

            There is another word in this verse which presents a difficulty.

            tOnw;. This is capable of two meanings. Either it is (i), infin. constr.

of the verb hnw, to change, in a neuter sense = to be changed (the verb in

Qal. is never used transitively) ; or (2), the plur. constr. of the noun

hnAwA, a year (as in ver. 6). According to these different renderings of these

two words, the passage has 'been very differently interpreted. Even the

Chald. gives two explanations :

            (a) "This is my infirmity (ytiUfr;ma); the strength of the right hand of

the Highest is changed (NyniT;w;xi)." (b) Another Targum: "This is my

supplication (ytiUfBA), (that) the year of the end (should come) from the

Right Hand."

            The LXX. nu?n h]rca<mhn (a meaning which hlH has only in the Hiph.),

au!th h[ a]lloi<wsij th?j decia?j tou? u[yi<stou.

            Of more modern interpretations the following may be mentioned.

Mendelssohn: "Flehen stela bei nzir; dndern in des Hochsten Macht,"

which is ingenious; but even admitting that 'lH can mean flehen, ‘nw

cannot be transitive. The same objection applies to Luther's translation

"Ich muss das leiden; die rechte Hand des Höchsten kann alles andern."

Zunz has: "Das ist mein Flehen—die Jahre der R. d. Höchsten! '' which

certainly gives a very good sense: "This is what I long and pray for—

those years of God's right hand in which He exhibited His grace and

power." The right hand of God cannot mean, as some would take it,

"His chastening hand," it must mean " His supporting hand." It would

be possible, however, to render, "This it is which saddens me,—the years

of the right Hand," &c. i.e. the remembrance of God's power and grace in

past times, as compared with my present lot. And this falls in with the

previous complaint:  "Hath God forgotten," &c. On the whole, however,

the rendering of J. H. Mich, is to be preferred: "meine Krankheit (i.e.

the misery of my spirit) ist alas: Bass die R. des H. sich geiändert habe."

So also Hupfeld. And Maurer well explains: "quod aegrunz me Twit hoe.

est, haec est mea calamitas: prod se mutavit, non amplius ut olim parata

est ad juvandum dextera Altissimi." He then supports interpretation

(2) of  ytiOl.H and observes of hnw, "murtari in deterius, ut Thren iv. 1, in

                            PSALM LXXVII.                                              55


fide: Prov. xxiv. 21; Mal. iii. 6, quo posteriore loco in contrarium haec

leguntur haud nihil lucis accendentia huic quem tractamus loco: ego,

Jova, non mutor, ideoque vos, filii Jacobi, non periistis." Not unlike

this is the rendering of Aq., a]r]r[wsti<a mou, au!th a]lloi<wsij d. u[. (except that

he must have understood 'lH of bodily infirmity, not of mental suffering).

Theod. and the Quinta,  w]di?ne<j (mou) ei]sin, a]lloi<wsij d. u[.

            In this instance the E. V. and the P. B. V. coincide, the latter not

following here either the Vulg. or the German. Our translators have

copied Ibn. Ez. and Qimchi, in supplying the verb I will remember, from

the next verse. In so doing, they have followed the Q'ri, whereas the

K'thibh, ryKizixa, I will celebrate, is preferable, as it avoids the tautology

with hrAK;z;x, in the next verse.

            g Umr;zo, only here, sometimes regarded as a Poel, but better as a Pual,

the construction being that of the accus. Myima with the pass., "the clouds

were poured forth (in, or with) water." (Phillips, indeed, would make

'm the subject, and suggests an ellipse of the prep. Nmi, from the clouds,

but I am not aware of any instance of such an ellipse.) Cf. 'm Mr,z,, Hab. iii.

11, which, certainly, looks like the original expression. In j~yc,cAHE we have

the expanded poet. form, instead of j~yce.hi (comp. ymem;fa, yrer;ha, &c.), perhaps

chosen to express the zig-zag flash of the lightning. The verb in the

Hithp. fut. is also expressive: "kept going hither and thither."

            h  lGal;Gi, properly, a wheel. (i) Some, following Qimchi, understand it

of the globe or sphere of heaven. So Luther and the E. V., and with this

has been compared the difficult and doubtful expression troxo>j th?j

gene<sewj, in James iii. 6. (2) J. D. Mich. and others render it whirlwind.

So Ewald, im Wirbel. In lxxxiii. 14, it. means "a whirling mass," or

perhaps "a dust-storm." It is better, therefore, to take the word here

in the sense of rolling, a sense to which it might easily pass from that

of wheel, and which its etymology confirms. The rolling will be that

of the chariots of God. Comp. Hab. iii. 8 ; Joel ii. 5. Or possibly the

wheel may stand by metonymy for the chariot.

            i The omission of the copula, here and in the previous verse, where the

reference is clearly to the past, is rare. See a similar instance in Jer. vii.

12: OlywiB; rw,xE ymiOqm; lx, xn!-Ukl;, "Go to my place which was in Shiloh."

            k j~yleybiw;. So the K'thibh in the plur., as in Jer. xviii. 15, the only

other place where it occurs. The Q'ri is an unnecessary correction.

56                                PSALM LXX VIII.


                                     PSALM LXXVIII.*


            IN this, the longest of the historical Psalms, the history of Israel

is briefly recapitulated, from the time of the Exodus to the final

union of the tribes under David, and the establishment of the

kingdom in his family. This appeal to the past is made evidently

with a purpose. The Psalmist comes forward as a prophet to rebuke

the sin, the ingratitude, the rebellion of his people. This he does

by showing them the present in the light of the past. God had

wrought wonders in behalf of their fathers of old; God had re-

deemed them from Egypt, led them through the wilderness, brought

them to His holy mountain. But the history of their nation had

been at once a history of wonders and a history of rebellions.

Miracle had followed on miracle to win them; chastisement had

succeeded to chastisement to deter them; but the miracle was for-

gotten, the chastisement produced but a temporary reformation.

They had ever been "a faithless and stubborn generation." It is

evident, from his opening words, that the Psalmist was anxious to

bring out sharply and clearly the lessons with which the past teemed.

He saw that his people were in danger of forgetting those lessons.

He saw in that history, instruction, warning, reproof, for the age in

which he lived.

            It is, however, remarkable that another and more special purpose

appears in the Psalm. If the whole nation is rebuked, the rebuke

falls heaviest upon Ephraim. Ephraim is singled out as the leader

in the earlier apostasy of the people, as the very type of a faithless

and recreant spirit (ver. 12). The rejection of Ephraim and the

choice of Judah are dwelt upon at the close in a tone of satisfaction

and triumph, as the fulfilment of the purpose of God. It is scarcely

possible, therefore, to resist the conclusion, that the Psalm was

written after the defection of the Ten Tribes, and that it was

designed either to curb the pride of the northern kingdom, or to

address a warning to Judah, based on the example of Ephraim.

            Various conjectures have been hazarded as to the time when the

Psalm was written. Hengstenberg, who is determined, at the risk

of any absurdity, to maintain the authority of the Inscription, which

gives this Psalm to Asaph, is obliged to place it in the reign of

David. He says that the object of the Psalmist is "to warn the

people against a possible revolt from David, and from the sanctuary


            * On this Psalm see Isaac Taylor, Spirit of the Hebrew Poetry, p. 154.

                                   PSALM LXXVIII.                                    57


in Zion; he cannot therefore have composed the Psalm after this

event had taken place." But if the Psalmist had any such object

in view, he seems most effectually to have disguised it. Indeed,

Hengstenberg is obliged to admit that he does "not once name the

disruption which he is anxious to prevent, and makes no express

mention whatever of any inclination to this, which might exist at

the time;" and tries to account for this singular reticence by sup-

posing that "it was of importance not to irritate, for fear of increasing

the dissatisfaction." But could any more effectual mode of irritation

have been devised, than first to exhibit Ephraim as chief in transgres-

sion (ver. 12), and then to commemorate in tones of triumph the

degradation of that tribe from its ancient supremacy, and the

exaltation of the rival tribe of Judah in its place? Was this a

method likely to heal those heart-burnings and animosities which

even David had failed altogether to allay? When Hengstenberg

therefore adds that, "to deny that the Psalm belongs to the time of

David manifests utter ignorance of its contents," we can only say

that the facts point to an exactly opposite conclusion.

            Ewald, with equal dogmatism, and equal improbability, places the

Psalm as late as the fifth century B.C., in the time of Ezra and

Nehemiah. According to him, it was composed in a spirit of strong

antagonism to the Samaritans, "the new Ephraim," in whom the

Poet sees the old Ephraim revived. In this spirit he reviews the

ancient history of his nation: "what would happen if Ephraim were

the centre, he infers from the misfortunes of the period between

Joshua and Saul, when the ark of the covenant was yet in Shiloh,

which belonged to that tribe, whereas the true worship of Jehovah

was only firmly established in Zion under David . . . The history

itself was a witness that rest and faith could not be found in

Ephraim." But so arbitrary a treatment of the Psalm as this may

at once be dismissed. Where is the proof that the Samaritans were

ever regarded as the successors and legitimate representatives of

Ephraim? Or what trace is there in the Psalm of any such feeling

as that which Ewald supposes to have influenced the writer?

The Psalm itself furnishes us with the following data for a


            (I) It is clear from the concluding verses that it was written after

David was established on the throne; from ver. 69 it might even

be inferred after the Temple had been built. (2) The manner in

which these events are spoken of leads naturally to the inference

that they were of no very recent occurrence; men do not so speak

of events within their own memory. (3) The sharp contrast between

Ephraim and Judah, the rejection of Shiloh and the choice of Zion,

58                                PSALM LXXVIII.


are an indication, not of a smouldering animosity, but of an open

and long-existing separation.

            But at this point two hypotheses become possible.

            (a) On the one hand, the Psalmist's object may have been, by

holding up the example of Ephraim, to warn Judah against a like

falling away, not from the house of David, but from the God of

their fathers. In this case we must suppose that a particular pro-

minence is given to the conduct of Ephraim, in the past history,

though the whole nation was guilty, in order to prepare the way for

what is said of Ephraim's subsequent rejection (see note on ver. 9).

Such a warning might be compared to that of Jeremiah at the time

of the Chaldean invasion (chap. vii.).

            (h) On the other hard, the Psalmist's design may have been not

so much to warn Judah, as to rebuke Ephraim. Hence it is that

whilst speaking of the past history of all Israel he mentions only

Ephraim by name. Though all the burden of guilt in that mournful

past did not rest exclusively upon them, yet it is with them only that

he is concerned. Hence it is, too, that he dwells with so much pride

and satisfaction on the transference of the sanctuary from Shiloh to

Zion. That haughty tribe, strong in numbers and in power, might

boast that it had recovered its ancient ascendency. Ten out of the

twelve tribes might be lost to David's house. But God's presence

and favour were not with the ten, but with the two. His sanctuary

was not in Shiloh, but in Zion. He had chosen to be the ruler of

His people, no scion of the thousands of Ephraim, but the shepherd

stripling of the tribe of Judah.

            On the whole, I confess that the tone of triumph with which the

Psalm concludes seems to me to favour the last hypothesis, though

I fear I must also add that I am unsupported in this view by other


            The Psalm has no regular strophical division. Groups of four

verses frequently occur, and the general structure may be said to

rest on the common principle of pairs of verses. Here and there

certain expressions recur, such as "They tempted and provoked the

Most High; " "When God heard this, He was wroth," &c., which,

as Hupfeld says, give a kind of epic character to the Psalm. In the

review of the past history, the narrative is not given in bare chrono-

logical order, but is rather combined in two principal masses. In

the first of these the Psalmist but mentions the "wonders in Egypt,"

and passes on to detail the events in the wilderness. Then, having

set forth all God's marvellous works there, and all the rebellion of

Israel, he begins the history again. He will paint more fully those

"signs in Egypt," which were of themselves so wonderful a proof of

                                   PSALM LXXVIII.                                         59

God's Redeeming Love, he will show more convincingly Israel's

ingratitude, arid having done this, he pursues the narrative, passing

lightly now over the march through the wilderness, touching on the

history in the time of the Judges, and bringing it down to the days

of David, in whose election God had again magnified His grace.


                       [A MASCHIL OF ASAPH.a]

1 GIVE ear, 0 my people, to my law,

            Incline your ear to the words of my mouth.

2 I would open my mouth in a parable,

            I would utter dark sayings of old.


    1-4. The Introduction, announc-

ing the Psalmist's purpose. He

will recall the past, that it may act

as a warning to the present, and

that the wholesome lessons which

it teaches may be perpetuated in the

future. In the following four verses

he declares that such commemora-

tion of God's wonders is the very

destiny of Israel. For this end did

He give them His law, and the

lively oracles of His mouth.

     1. MY PEOPLE. This does not

imply that God or the Messiah is

the speaker. The Prophet, speaking

in the name and by the authority

of God, as His inspired messenger,

thus addresses the nation. The

opening of the Psalm is similar to

that of Ps. xlix. See also Deut.

xxxii. I ; Is. i. 2.

     MY LAW, here evidently used in

its wider sense of instruction gene-

rally, as often in the Book of Pro-

verbs. It is the teaching of a

Prophet (Matt. xiii. 35), and in that

sense a law—a law of life to those

who hear it.

     2. I WOULD OPEN. The form of

the tense expresses the wish, resolve,

&c. The sentence is very similar to

that in xlix. 4 [5]. The two words


the same which occur in that pas-

sage, where see note. The former

(mashal) etymologically signifies a

comparison, the placing of two ob-

jects in their due relation, whether

of likeness or unlikeness; hence it

is used of gnomic sentences, pro-

verbs, parables, and indeed of

poetical discourse generally (see

Numbers xxi. 27, hammosh'lim,

"the ballad-singers"), as being

based on the principle of parallel-

ism, or of antithesis. The latter

means, properly, either (1) a sharp

or pointed saying; or (2) a perplexed

saying, a riddle. (For a discussion

of these words, see Delitzsch on

Habak. ii. 6, and in Gesch. der Jud.

Poesie, S. 196, 199.) Having said

so much on the meaning of these

words, we have two further questions

to consider.

     (a) In what sense is the early

history of Israel, which forms the

subject of the Poem, called here a

"parable" and " dark sayings"?

Does the Psalmist merely announce

his purpose of treating that history

in language of poetry (we have seen

that the word "parable" may be

almost equivalent to "poetry"), or

does he mean more? Does he

mean that he has a moral end in

setting forth that history? that under

it truths are veiled which have a

significance and an application to

present circumstances for those who

can read them aright? Probably,

though we can hardly say certainly,

the last.

    (b) How are we to understand the

quotation made by St. Matthew of

this passage, who sees a fulfilment

of it in the parables spoken by our

Lord (Matt. xiii. 34, 35)? It cannot

be supposed for a moment that these

words were a prediction of our

Lord's mode of teaching, or that

He Himself is here the speaker.

60                                   PSALM LXX VIII.


3 (The things) which b we have heard and known.

            And our fathers have told us,

4 We will not hide (them) from their children;

            Telling to the generation to come the praises of Jehovah,

                  And His strength and His wonderful works that He

                        hath done.

5 For He established a testimony in Jacob,

            And appointed a law in Israel,

    Which He commanded our fathers

            To make known unto their children;

6 To the intent that the generation to come might know


            (Even) the children which should be born,

                 Who should rise up, and tell (them) to their children;

7 That they might put their confidence in God,

            And not forget the doings of God,

                        But keep His commandments;

8 And might not be as their fathers,

            A stubborn and rebellious generation,

   A generation that was not steadfast in heart,

            And whose spirit was not faithful towards God.


But here, as elsewhere, that which

the Old Testament Prophet says of

himself, finds its fittest expression,

its highest realization, in the Great

Prophet of the kingdom of heaven.

     Citatur hic locus a Matthaeo, et

accommodatur ad Christi personam.

... In hac igitur parte quum similis

Prophetae fuerit, quia de sublimibus

mysteriis concionatus est in altiore

dicendi forma, apposite transfertur

ad ejus personam quod Propheta

de se affirmat."—CALVIN. St. Mat-

thew's quotation runs, o!pwj plhrwq^?

to> r[hqe>n dia> tou? profh<tou le<gontoj,

]Anoi<cw e]n parabolai?j to> sto<ma mou,

e]reu<comai kekrumme<na a]po> katabolh?j.

The LXX. have in the latter clause:

fqe<gcomai problh<mata a]p ] a]rxh?j.

      4. WE WILL NOT HIDE. Comp.

Job xv. 18, where it is used in like

manner of the faithful transmission

of truths received. All truth known

is a sacred trust, given to us, not

for ourselves alone, but that we

may hand on the torch to others.

     5. The very object with which God


(see on these words, note on xix. 7)

was, that they might be preserved,

not in writing only, but by oral com-

munication and transmission, that

they might be a living power in the

people. See the commands in Ex.

x. 2, xii. 26, 27, xiii. 8-10, 14, 15;

Deut. iv. 9, Vi. 20, &c.


HEART, lit. "that did not establish

its heart," was ever wavering in its

allegiance. This sense is most in

accordance with the parallelism;

though perhaps the rendering of

the E.V., "that set not their heart

aright," i.e. towards God, might be






                            PSALM LXX VIII.                             61

9 The children of Ephraim, being equippedc as archers,

            Turned back in the day of battle.

defended: comp. I Sam. vii. 3; Job

xi. 13.


An example of that "stubborn and

perverse generation" mentioned ver.

8. But why are "the children of

Ephraim" mentioned, and what par-

ticular sin of theirs is here alluded

to? (i) We must not be led astray

by the expression "equipped as

archers," &c., to look for some de-

feats of the tribe in battle (as the

Chald., the Rabb. (referring to

Chr. vii. 20-22), Schnurrer, and

others do), for it is not a chastise-

ment, but a sin which is spoken of.

Hence the description of their car-

rying bows and turning back must

be a figure employed in the same

sense as that of "the deceitful bow,"

ver. 57. (2) The allusion cannot be

to the separation of Ephraim and

the other tribes from Judah (as

Venema, De Wette, &c. explain),

because it is the earlier history of

the nation in the wilderness which

is here before the Poet's eyes. (3)

Nothing is gained by introducing

the particle of comparison (so

Luther, Rosenmüller, &c.), as in the

P.B.V., "like as the children of

Eph.," &c., for such a comparison

rests upon nothing. (4) Nor can

"the children of Ephraim" here

stand merely for the whole nation,

as has sometimes been maintained

by referring to lxxx. 2 [3], and lxxxi.

5 [6]; for in ver. 67 the distinction

between Ephraim and Judah is

marked. (5) It would seem, then,

that their treacherous conduct is

here specially stigmatized, in order,

as it were, to sound the note of that

rejection on which the Psalmist

afterwards dwells, ver. 67. Ephraim

had been, after the settlement in

Canaan, the most numerous and

the most powerful of the tribes.

Shiloh, the religious capital of the

nation, and Shehcem, the gathering-

place of the tribes (Josh. xxiv. I;

Jud. ix. 2; 1 Kings xii. I), were

both within its borders. During the

time of the Judges it seems to have

asserted a kind of supremacy over

the rest. Possibly the Psalmist is

thinking of this. Having their re-

jection in, view, he remembers their

ancient position, and regards them

as leaders of the people, and,

morally, leaders in their sin. It is

true this could only apply to their

history in the land of Canaan.

During the wanderings in the wil-

derness, with which a large part of

the Psalm is occupied, the tribe of

Ephraim, so far from holding a

leading position, was the smallest

of all, except Simeon. It may be,

however, that the Psalmist forgets

or neglects this circumstance, and

only thinks of the tribe as the rival

of Judah in later times, and the

leader in the revolt. But see the

remarks in the introduction to the


    A different interpretation is given

in the article EPHRAIM in Smith's

Dict. of the Bible. Hupfeld would

expunge the words "the children of

Ephraim" as a gloss, but it is diffi-

cult to see how such a gloss could

have crept in.


and the next clause are designed

apparently to express, in a figure,

the faithlessness of the Ephraimites.

They are like archers who, fully

equipped for war, at the critical

moment when they should use their

weapons, afraid to meet the shock

of battle, wheel round and fly in


    TURNED BACK. Comp. Jud. xx,.

39, 41. Panic-struck, when they

were expected to be of service;

hardly (as Maurer suggests) pre-

tending flight, like the Thracian

archers, in order to take the enemy

at greater advantage. In any case,

the image is one of faithlessness.

The next verse is an explanation of

the figure.

    The following paraphrase is given

in the Catena Aurea (from Aug.

Cassiod. and the Glossa Ord.) .

62                    PSALM LXXVIII.


10 They kept not the covenant of God,

            And refused to walk in His Law;

11 And they forgat His doings,

            And His wonderful works which He had showed them.

12 In the sight of their fathers He did wonders,

            In the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.

13 He clave the sea, and caused them to pass through,

            And made the waters to stand as an heap.

14 And He led them with the cloud in the day-time,

            And all the night through with a light of fire.

15 He clave d rocks in the wilderness,


"The children of Ephraim taking

aim and shooting with the bow, that

is, promising to keep the law, and

openly saying, All that the Lord

hath said unto us we will do and

hear, turned back in the day of

battle, when they said unto Aaron,

Make us gods to worship. They

failed in the day of battle, that is,

in the day of temptation; for the

prophet Hosea saith: Ephraim is

as a silly dove that hath no heart.

For it is not hearing, but temptation,

that puts to the proof the promise

of obedience."

    12. ZOAN. Its Greek name was

Tanis. It "lay near the Eastern

border of Lower Egypt, . . . on the

east bank of the canal which was

formerly the Tanitic branch" (of the

Nile). "Zoan is mentioned in con-

nection with the plagues in such a

manner as to leave no doubt that it

is the city spoken of in the narrative

in Exodus, as that where Pharaoh

dwelt. The wonders were wrought

'in the field of Zoan,' which may

either denote the territory imme-

diately round the city, or its nome,

or even a kingdom. This would

accord best with the shepherd-

period." See the article ZOAN, in

the Dict. of the Bible, by Mr. R. S.

Poole. May not "the field of Zoan"

be the rich plain which, as he tells

us, "anciently extended due east as

far as Pelusium, about thirty miles

distant," and the whole of which,

"about as far south and west as

Tunis, was anciently known as ‘the

Fields’ or ‘Plains,’ ‘the Marshes’

or ‘Pasture-lands,’ and which is now

almost covered by the great Lake

Menzeleh"? The name only occurs

once in the Pentateuch, in Num. xiii.

22. (See the passage discussed in

the article just quoted.)

     It is remarkable that, after begin-

ning in this verse to speak of the

wonders in Egypt, the Psalmist

drops all mention of there till ver.

43 (which is a resumption of this

verse), and turns aside to dwell on

the wonders in the wilderness (see


    13. Now follows the exemplifica-

tion, in certain detailed instances,

of the faithlessness and disobe-

dience, and forgetfulness of their

fathers in the wilderness. First, in

ver. 13-16, some of God's wonders

wrought on their behalf are men-

tioned, and then, ver. 17-20, the

thankless and perverse spirit in

which these wonders were regarded.

     As AN HEAP; borrowed from Ex.

xv. 8. See note on xxxiii. 7.

     15. ROCKS. The word tsur shows

that the Psalmist is thinking in this

verse of the miracle at Horeb, re-

corded in Ex. xvii. (See note on

ver. 16.) The plural does not ne-

cessarily imply that the two great

instances in which this miracle was

performed, the one in the first and

the other in the last year of the

wandering, are here brought together

(Ex. xvii. and Num. xx.); for both


                          PSALM LXXVIII.                            63


            And gave them drink as it had been the great deeps.e

16 He brought forth streams also out of the cliff,

            And caused waters to run down like the rivers.


17 Yet they went on still to sin more against Him,

            To rebel againstf the Most High in the desert.

18 And they tempted God in their heart,

            Asking food for their lust,

19 Yea, they spake against God;

            They said, "Can God prepare a table in the wilderness

20 Lo, He smote the rock, that waters gushed out,

                        And torrents rushed along:

            Can He give bread also?

                        Will He provide flesh for his people?"


that and the verb, which (being

here without the Vau consecutive)

is apparently the aorist of repeated

action, may only be used in the way

of poetic amplification. The miracle

seems as if ever repeated.


DEEPS, lit. "and gave them, as it

were, the great deep to drink " (or,

"as from the depths in abund-

ance"). De Wette calls this a

"gigantic" comparison. But "the

deep" here may mean, perhaps, not

the sea, but the great subterranean

reservoir of waters from which all

fountains and streams were sup-

posed to be supplied, as Deut. viii. 7.

Comp. xlii. 7 [8], and note there.

     16. The word here used (Sela) "is

especially applied to the cliff at

Kadesh, from which Moses brought

water, as Tsur is for that struck in

Ex. xvii."—STANLEY, Sinai and

Palestine, App. § 29. See also

Chap. I. Part II. p. 95.


In the verses immediately preceding

no special instance of transgression

is recorded, though such is implied

in the mention of the miracle of the

water, when they murmured against

God. Hence the murmuring for

flesh is described as a further and

fresh instance of sin. Hupfeld

thinks it may be only a phrase bor-

rowed from the Book of Judges,

where it is commonly prefixed to

each fresh act of disobedience (as

in iii. 12,&C.); but there the formula

is quite in place, as it follows the

narration of previous transgres-


     18. THEY TEMPTED GOD, i.e. de-

manded, in their unbelief, signs and

wonders, to put His power to the

proof, instead of waiting in faith

and prayer for its exercise (repeated

ver. 41, 56 as a kind of refrain, see

also cvi. 14). The original is Ex.

xvii. 3, 7, where also the name

Massah, "tempting," is given to the


     19, 20. The words here put into

the mouth of the people are only a

poetical representation of what they

said, not differing materially from

the historical narrative, Ex. xvi. 3,

&c., xvii. 2, 3, 7; Num. xi. 4, &c.,

xx. 3, &c.

      19. PREPARE A TABLE, lit. "Set

out in order," the same phrase as

in xxiii. 5.

      20. WATERS GUSHED OUT occurs

also cv. 41; Is. xlviii. 21.

     PROVIDE, or "prepare," as in lxv.

9 [10], lxviii. 10 [11].

     FLESH: the word is a poetical

one. "Bread and flesh" are used

in the same way of the manna and

the quails, in Ex. xvi.


64                         PSALM LXXVIII.


21 Therefore Jehovah heard (that), and was wroth,

                        And a fire was kindled in Jacob,

            And anger also went up against Israel;

22 Because they believed not in God,

            And put not their trust in His salvation.

23 He commanded also the clouds above,

            And opened the doors of heaven;

24 And He rained manna upon them to eat,

            And gave them the corn of heaven;

25 Bread of the mighty did they eat every one,

            He sent them meat to the full.

26 He led forth the east wind in the heaven,


     21-29. The awful punishment of

their sin. He gives the bread which

they ask (ver. 21-25), and then the

flesh (ver. 26-29), but His granting

of their desire is in itself the most

terrible of chastisements. The re-

presentation is freely borrowed from

the two accounts in Ex. xvi.; Num.

xi.; more particularly the last.

     21. A FIRE, with allusion to the

"fire of Jehovah" in Num. xi. 1

(whence the name of the place was

called Tab'erah, "burning"), where

also occurs the similar expression,

"And when Jehovah heard (it), His

anger was kindled."

     ALSO. This does not mark that

the fire of God's wrath was added

to the natural fire; for the last was

but the expression of the first. But

the particle belongs, logically, to the

verb WENT UP, and denotes the

retributive character of this fiery

scourge. See the same use of the

particle, for instance, Is. lxvi. 4.

    22. His SALVATION, as already

shown in the deliverance from


    24. RAINED. Hence the expres-

sion in the precedingverse, "opened

the doors," &c. as in Gen. vii. 11;

2 Kings vii. 2; Mal. iii. 10. In the

same way the manna is said to be

"rained" from heaven in Ex. xvi.

4. (Every expression used shows

plainly that it was a miraculous gift,

and not a product of nature.)

Hence, too, it is called CORN OF

HEAVEN, for which we have "bread

of heaven" in cv. 40; Ex. xvi. 4;

John vi. 31. So again

     25. BREAD OF THE MIGHTY (see

the marginal rendering of the E.V.)

probably means "Angels' bread,"

LXX. a@rton a]ggelwn, not as if an-

gels were nourished by it, or as if it

were food worthy of angels, but as

coming from heaven, where angels

dwell. The word MIGHTY is no-

where else used of the angels, though

they are said in ciii. 20, to be

"mighty in strength." Hence many

would render here "bread of nobles

or princes" (such is the use of this

word in Job xxiv. 22, xxxiv, 20), i.e.

the finest, the most delicate bread.

     26. LED FORTH, lit. "made to

journey, or go forth." The verb is

again the aorist of repeated action,

as in ver. 15.

     GUIDED (like a flock). The two

verbs occur below, ver. 52, where

they are used of God's conduct of

His people. The usage here is bor-

rowed from the Pentateuch, where

both verbs are said of the wind, the

first in Num. xi. 31, the second in

Ex. x. 13. The winds are thus con-

ceived of as God's flock, which He

leads forth and directs at His plea-




                             PSALM LXXVIII.                           65


            And by His power He guided the south wind,

27 And He rained flesh upon them as the dust,

            And winged fowls like as the sand of the seas;

28 And He let it fall in the midst of their camp,

            Round about their habitations.

29 So they did eat and were well filled,

            Seeing that He gave them their own desire.

30 They were not estranged from their desire;

            Whilst their food was yet in their mouth,

31 The anger of God went up against them,


These may be mentioned poetically,

without being intended to describe

exactly the quarter from which the

quails came. In Num. xi. 31, it is

merely said that, "there went forth

a wind from Jehovah, and brought

quails from the sea," which Hupfeld

too hastily asserts must be the Red

Sea (i.e. as he evidently means, the

gulf of Suez); and that conse-

quently the quails must have been

brought by a west wind. But

Kibroth-hattaavah was probably

not far from the western edge of

the gulf of Akabah. And the quails

at the time of this event were, as

Mr. Houghton has remarked (see

QUAILS, in Dict. of the Bible), on

their spring journey of migration

northwards; "The flight which fed

the multitude at Kibroth-hattaavah

might have started from Southern

Egypt, and crossed the Red Sea

near Ras Mohammed, and so up the

gulf of Akabah into Arabia Petrma."

In this case, the wind blowing from

the south first, and then from the

east, would bring the quails.

     27. RAINED FLESH: as before,

"rained manna," from Ex. xvi. 4,

8, 13.

     28. LET IT FALL. The word aptly

describes the settling of these birds,

unfitted for a long flight, and wearied

by their passage across the gulf.

Pliny, Nat. Hist, x. 13, says that

quails settle on the sails of ships by

night, so as to sink sometimes the

ships in the neighbouring sea. And

Diod. Sic. i. p. 38, ta>j qhra>j twn

o]rtu<gwn e]poiou?nto e]fe<ronto< te ou$toi

kat ] a]ge<laj mei<zouj e]k tou? pela<gouj.

The verse follows Ex. xvi. 13; Nunn. xi. 31.

     29. WERE WELL FILLED, i.e. even

to loathing, as follows, ver. 30 (see

Num. xi. 18-20). So in ver. 25, "to

the full," from Ex. xvi. 3, 12.

     THEIR DESIRE, the satisfaction of

their fleshly appetite. The word

(taavah) no doubt alludes to Kib-

roth-hattaavaha, "the graves of desire,

or fleshly appetite." Num. xi. 4, 34.


or, as it may be rendered, "(Whilst)

they were not (yet) estranged," i.e.

whilst they still found satisfaction

and enjoyment in this kind of food,

whilst it was yet in their mouths,

the anger of God went up, &c. Thus

the two verses, 30, 31, stand in the

relation of protasis and apodosis.

The passage is manifestly borrowed

from Num. xi. 33, "And while the

flesh was yet between their teeth,

ere it was chewed, the wrath of

Tehovah was kindled against the

people, and Jehovah smote the

people with a very great plague;"

and so closely borrowed as to be

evidence that this portion of the

Pentateuch already existed in

writing. But, unfortunately, we

cannot draw hence any argument

for the age of the whole Pentateuch

in its present form.

     31. WENT UP, See above, ver 21,

and xviii. 8 [91


66                          PSALM LXXVIII.


                 And slew the fattest of them,

            And smote down the young men of Israel.

32 For all this, they sinned yet more,

            And believed not His wondrous works.

33 Therefore did He make their days vanish in a breath,

            And their years in terror.

34 When He slew them, then they enquired after Him,

            Yea, they turned again and sought God;

35 And they remembered that God was their Rock,

            And the Most High God their Redeemer.

36 But they flattered Him with their mouth;

            And they lied unto Him with their tongue;

37 For their heart was not steadfast with Him,

            Neither were they faithful in His covenant.

38 But He, in His tender mercy, covereth iniquity, and

            destroyeth not;


    31. THE FATTEST: it may mean

either the strongest, or the noblest.

Comp. xxii. 29 [30]. On these and

the young men, the flower of the

people, the judgement especially


    32. The allusion seems to be to

Num. xiv. 11, "How long will it be

ere they believe Me, for all the signs

which I have showed among them;"

the words of God to Moses after the

return of the spies. And this is the

more likely, because the next verse

alludes to that cutting short of the

life of the people, which was the

consequence of their rebellion at

that time. Num. xiv. 28-34.

     33. IN A BREATH, or possibly,

"as a breath," the prep. merely

introducing the predicate. See

xxxix. 5, 6 [6, 7], and the com-

plaint of Moses, xc. 9, though the

word there used is different.

    34. The passage which follows, to

the end of ver. 39, is a most striking

and affecting picture of man's heart,

and God's gracious forbearance, in

all ages: — man's sin calling for

chastisement, the chastisement pro-

ducing only temporary amendment,

God's goodness forgotten, and yet

God's great love never wearied,

and God's infinite compassion ever

moved afresh by man's weakness

and misery.

    36. FLATTERED. Comp. Is.

xxi. 13, lvii. 11, lix. 13. "This

returning to God, at least so far as

the majority were concerned, was

not from any love of righteousness,

but only from the fear of punish-



STEADFAST, &c. This is the ever-

repeated complaint, see ver. 8, 22.

There is no permanence, no stability

in the reformation which has been

produced. Comp. Hos. vi. 4.

    38. The verbs in the first clause

are present, and should be so ren-

dered. It destroys the whole beauty

of the passage to render, "But He

was so merciful, &c., as if the refer-

ence were only to a particular occa-

sion. God's mercy is like Himself,

everlasting, and ever the same.

     BUT HE. The words are em-

phatic, and the allusion is to Ex.

xxxiv. 6; Num. xiv. 18, 20.



                       PSALM LXXVIII.                                         67


                        Yea, many a time turneth He His anger away,

            And stirreth not up all His fury.

39 And He remembered that they were (but) flesh,

            A wind that goeth and cometh not again.


40 How often did they provoke Him in the wilderness,

            And grieve Him in the desert:

41 Yea, again and again they tempted God,

            And dishonoured g the Holy One of Israel.

42 They remembered not His hand,

            Nor the day when He redeemed them from the


43 How He had set His signs in Egypt,

            And His wonders in the field of Zoan,

44 And turned their rivers into blood,

            So that they could not drink of their streams.

45 He sent among them flies which devoured them,

            And frogs which destroyed them.


    39. Compare Gen. vi. 3, viii. 21:

Job vii. 7, 9, X. 21; Ps. ciii. 14-16;

and for the word "goeth" or "pas-

seth away" of the wind, Hos. vi. 4,

xiii. 3.

   40. After thus celebrating God's

tender compassion in striking con-

trast with the perpetual rebellion

and ingratitude of the people, the

Psalmist resumes the sad tale afresh.

But instead of mentioning other in-

stances of rebellion in the wilder-

ness (ver. 40), he passes from that

topic to dwell on the wonders

wrought in Egypt, the lively recol-

lection of which ought to have kept

the people from these repeated pro-

vocations. Thus he takes up again

the thread dropped at ver. 12.

    The second principal portion of

the Psalm begins with this verse.

It is occupied, first, with the narra-

tive of the plagues in Egypt, the

Exodus, and Israel's entrance into

the Promised Land, ver. 40-55.

It then touches briefly on the history

under the Judges, the Philistine in-

vasion in the time of Eli, which was

God's chastisement for transgres-

sion, the disaster at Shiloh, whereby

Ephraim was robbed of his ancient

honours, and which led to the choice

of Zion, the ascendency of the tribe

of Judah, and the union of the king-

dom under David, ver. 56-72.

    41. DISHONOURED, or perhaps

"provoked." Others, "limited," i.e.

set bounds to His power. See

Critical Note.

    43. In the enumeration of the

plagues, the Psalmist does not fol-

low the order of the history, except

as regards the first and the last, and

omits all mention of the third (the

lice), the fifth (murrain of cattle),

the sixth (boils and blains on man

and beast), and the ninth (darkness).

    44. The first plague. Comp. Ex.

vii. 17, &c.

     45. The fourth plague (Ex. viii.

20, &c.), and the second plague (Ex.

viii. 1, &c.).

    FLIES. The LXX. and Sym.

kuno<muian. The rendering of the



68                           PSALM LXXVIII.


46  He gave also their increase unto the caterpiller,

            (And) their labour unto the locust.

47 He killed their vines with hail,

            And their sycomore-trees with frost:

48 He gave up their cattle also to the hail,

            And their flocks to hot thunder-bolts.

49 He let loose upon them the burning of His anger,

            Wrath and indignation and distress,

            A letting loose of evil angels h (among them).


E.V. "divers sorts of flies," (Aq.

pa<mmikton), comes from a wrong de-

rivation of the word from a root

signifying to mix.

    46. CATERPILLER, or possibly the

word means some particular species

of locust, or the locust in its larva

state. See Dict. of the Bible, III.

App. xxxix. This word is not used

in the Pentateuch, but in Joel i. 4,

it is joined with the locust, as here.

      47, 48. The seventh plague, that

of the hail mingled with fire (Ex. ix.

13), with its effects, both on the pro-

duce of the land and on the cattle.

As belonging to the former, vines

and sycomores are here mentioned,

as in cv. 33, vines, and fig-trees.

De Wette and Hupfeld assert that

the writer, as a native of Canaan,

ascribes too much prominence to

the vine, the cultivation of which

was but little attended to in Egypt,

and which is not said in the Penta-

teuch to have suffered. But this is

an unfounded assertion. Mr. R. S.

Poole, in his learned article on

Egypt, in the Dict. of the Bible,

says: "Vines were extensively cul-

tivated, and there were several dif-

ferent kinds of wine, one of which,

the Mareotic, was famous among

the Romans." (Vol. i. p. 497.)

Pharaoh's chief butler dreams of

the vine, Gen. xl. 9-11, and the

vines of Egypt, as well as the figs

and pomegranates, are thought of

with regret by the Israelites in the

wilderness (Num. xx. 5). The mural

paintings at Thebes, at Beni-

Hassan, and in the Pyramids, con-

tain representations of vineyards.

Boys are seen frightening away the

birds from the ripe clusters, men

gather them and deposit them in

baskets, and carry them to the wine-

press, &c.

     47. FROST, or, as this is unknown

in Egypt, perhaps, rather, "huge

hailstones," but the word occurs

nowhere else, and its meaning is



"lightnings;" the same word as in

lxxvi. 3 [4], "lightnings of the

bow," where see note, the allusion

being to the fire which ran along

the ground, Ex. ix. 23. Comp. cv.


    49. This verse expresses gene-

rally the whole work of devastation

wrought by the Divine ministers of

evil in the land of Egypt, and so

strikingly introduces the final act

of judgement, the destruction of the

first-born, which follows in ver. 50,

51. I see no reason for supposing,

as Hupfeld and Delitzsch do, that

there is any allusion to the fifth

plague, that of the murrain among


     A LETTING LOOSE, Or, "a mis-

sion," "embassage"; this is a noun, in

apposition with the preceding nouns,

and further describing the action of

the verb, "He let loose." The Poet

lifts the veil and shows us the wrath

of God as the source, and angels as

the ministers in the destruction.

      EVIL ANGELS. Others render,


                          PSALM LXXVIII.                               69


50 He made a free path for His anger;

            He spared not their soul from death,

            But gave their life over to the pestilence;

51 And smote all the first-born in Egypt,

            The firstlings of (their) strength in the tents of Ham.

52 But He made His own people to go forth like sheep,

            And guided them in the wilderness like a flock.

53 And He led them safely so that they did not fear;

            And as for their enemies, the sea covered (them).

54 And He brought them to His holy border,

            To yon mountain which His right hand had purchased.

55 He drove out also the nations before them,

            And allotted them for an inheritance by line,

            And made the tribes of Israel to dwell in their tents.

56 But they tempted and provoked the Most High God,


"angels or messengers, (the word

may mean either, as a@ggeloj, in

Greek) of evil," i.e. who work evil.

So Hengstenberg and Delitzsch,

who adopt the view of Ode, in his

work De Angelis, that God makes

use of good angels to punish bad

men, and of evil angels to buffet

and chasten good men. But this

cannot be maintained: see I Sam.

xvi. 14; I Kings xxii. 21, &c. How-

ever, whichever rendering is pre-

ferred, it comes to the same thing,

for "evil angels" would not mean

here what was commonly under-

stood by evil spirits, but angels sent

upon an evil mission—a mission of

destruction. There can be no doubt

of this, because the expression must

have been suggested by "the de-

troyer" in Ex. xii. 13, 23.

     50. MADE A FREE PATH, lit.

"levelled a path," as Prov. iv. 26,

v. 6.


STRENGTH, lit. "beginning of

strengths," the plural being used

poetically for the singular, which is

found in the same phrase, Gen.

xlix. 3; Deut. xxi. 17.

    TENTS OF HAM. So "land of

Ham," in cv. 23, 27, cvi. 22. Comp.

Gen. x. 6.

     54. YON MOUNTAIN, i.e. Zion,

the building of the temple there

being represented, as in lxviii. 16

[17], as the great crowning act to

which all else pointed; unless the

noun is used here collectively==

"these mountains," i.e. this moun-

tain-land of Palestine, as in Ex. xv.

17, "the mountain of Thine inheri-

tance." Comp. Is. xi. 9. This last

it may be said, is favoured by the


   55. AND ALLOTTED THEM, lit.

"made them fall," in allusion to the

throwing of the lot. The pronoun

"them" is used somewhat incor-

rectly (the nations. having been just

spoken of as driven out), instead of

"their land." Comp. Josh. xxiii. 4,

See, I have allotted (made to fall)

unto you these nations," &c. Num.

xxxix. 2, "the land which falleth to

you as an inheritance."

    BY LINE. See note on xvi. 6.

    56-58. The renewed disobedi-

ence of the nation, after their settle-

ment in the land during the time of

the judges.



70                        PSALM LXXVIII.


            And kept not His testimonies;

57 But turned back and dealt faithlessly, like their fathers:

            They were turned aside like a deceitful bow.

58 And they angered Him with their high places,

            And moved Him to jealousy with their graven images.

59 When God heard (this), He was wroth,

            And greatly abhorred Israel;

60 So that He rejected the tabernacle in Shiloh,

            The tent which He pitched among men.

61 And He gave His strength into captivity,

            And His beauty into the adversary's hand.

62 Yea, He gave over His people to the sword,

            And was wroth with His inheritance.

63 Their young men the fire devoured,

            And their maidens were not praisedi in the marriage-



repeated from ver. 17, 18, and 41;

here the special act of provocation

being the worship of idols in the

high places. Comp. Jud. ii. 11, &c.

     57. A DECEITFUL BOW, i.e. one

which disappoints the archer, by not

sending the arrow straight to the

mark (not “a slack bow,” as some

would explain, referring to Prov. x.

4, "a slack hand").

    60. The tabernacle was at Shiloh

during the whole period of the

Judges (Josh. xviii. 10; Jud. xviii.

31; I Sam. iv. 3). God rejected

and forsook it when the Ark was

given into the hands of the Philis-

tines, 1 Sam. iv. The Ark was never

brought back thither, and the Taber-

nacle itself was removed first to

Nob (I Sam. xxi.), and subsequently

to Gibeon (1 Kings iii. 4). Jeremiah

when warning the nation against

the superstitious notion that the

Temple would be a defence, reminds

them how God had forsaken and

rejected the place of the first Taber-

nacle : "For go now to My place

which was in Shiloh, where I made

My name to dwell at the first, and

see what I have done to it, because

of the wickedness of My people

Israel." (Jer. vii. 12. See also ver.

14, and chap. xxvi. 6.) These pas-

sages do not, perhaps, necessarily

imply a destruction of Shiloh by

enemies, certainly nothing of the

kind meets us in the history,—but a

desolation which followed on the

removal of the sanctuary. Calvin

observes: "The mode of expression

is very emphatic; that God was so

offended with the sins of His people,

that He was forced to forsake the

one place in the whole world which

He had chosen."

    PITCHED, lit. "caused to dwell."

Comp. Josh. xviii. 1, xxii. 19.

    61. HIS STRENGTH (or perhaps,

"glory"). . HIS BEAUTY. The

Ark is so called as being the place

where God manifested His power

and glory. Comp. I Sam. iv. 3, 21,

and Ps. cxxxii. 8.

     63, 64. The utter desolation of

the land strikingly pictured by its

silence. Neither the joyous strains

of the marriage-song, nor the sad

wail of the funeral chant fall upon

the ear. It was a land of silence,

a land of the dead. Comp. Jer. xxii.

18; Ezek. xxiv. 23; Job xxvii. 15.

There is perhaps, an allusion in


                                   PSALM LXXVIII.                                    71


64 Their priests fell by the sword,

            And their widows made no lamentation.


65 Then the Lord awaked, as one out of sleep,

            Like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine;

66 And He smote His adversaries backward,

            He put them to a perpetual reproach.

67 And He rejected the tent of Joseph,

            And chose not the tribe of Ephraim

68 But chose the tribe of Judah,

            The mount Zion which He loved.

69 And He built His sanctuary like high places,

            Like the earth which He hath founded for ever.

70 He chose David also, His servant,

            And took him from the sheep-folds;

71 As he was following the ewes giving suck, He brought


            To feed Jacob His people,

                        And Israel His inheritance.

72 So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart,

            And led them with the skilfulness of his hands.


ver. 64 to the death of Hophni and


    65, 66. God punishes and then

delivers. The reference is to the

long series of victories over the

Philistines under Samuel, Saul,

and David.

    65. AS ONE OUT OF SLEEP, lit.

"as a sleeper." Comp. vii. 6 [7],

xliv. 23 [24].

     LIKE A MIGHTY MAN : Comp. Is.

xlii. 13.


though the sanctuary was planted,

not " in Judah only, or in Benjamin

only, but on the confines of both

(comp. Josh. xv. 63 with Jud. i. 21);

so that whilst the altars and the

holy place were to stand within the

borders of the one tribe, the courts

of the Temple were to extend into

the borders of the other tribe, and

thus the two were to be riveted

together, as it were, by a cramp,

bound by a sacred and everlasting

bond."—Blunt, Undesigned Coinci-

dences, &c. p. 181.

    69. LIKE HIGH PLACES, &c., or

as we might say, " high as heaven,

and sure as the solid earth."

     70-72. The faithful shepherd of

the flock became the faithful shep-

herd of the nation; just as the obe-

dient fishermen in the Gospel his-

tory became the successful fishers

of men.

     On the figure here employed, see

lxxvii. 20 [21], and the remarks in

Introduction to Vol. I. p. 97.



* See above on xxxix. note a and 1. note a.

72                                    PSALM LXXVIII.


            b rw,xE. The relative may refer to what precedes. Or it may form with

the suffix M-e following, a neuter = quae; the relative clause, contrary to

rule, being placed before the antecedent. "(The things) which we know

. . . (those things) we will not hide." For a similar indefinite use of the

suffix see xxxix. 7.

            c 'q ymeOr yqewOn. (LXX. e]ntei<nontej kai> ba<llontej to<con.)  This is a

compound phrase which has perplexed the commentators. For the two

words in the stat. constr. are not, as is usual in such cases, in construction,

the first with the second, and the second with the noun following, but are

each in construction with the noun tw,q,, for we have 'q yqew;On, I Chron.

xii. 2; 2 Chron. xvii. 17, meaning "armed with bows," and 'q ymeOr, Jer.

iv. 29, "shooting with bows." Hence Hupfeld calls it "a hybrid phrase,"

and would strike out one of the words as a gloss; but we have an

exact parallel in Jer. xlvi. 9, 'q yker;do ywep;To, as he admits. The phrase tlaUtB; tBa, lit. the virgin of Zion, the daughter of Zion," is another

instance of the same construction. Maurer, in a note on Jer. xlvi. 9, has

drawn attention to this construction, which, as he observes, has escaped

the notice of the grammarians. qwn means properly adjungere, applicare,

conserere (as in qw,n,, armour, as that which fits together), and then pre-

hendere (manu), tenere, tractare.

            d fq.abay;.  Hupf. speaks of this merely as "a pret. without v consec., as

frequently in this Psalm, alternating with imperf. cons., vers. 26, 45, 47,

49, 50." But I prefer regarding it as an aor. of repeated action, not

"continuance of an action," as Phillips—who, however, well explains the

use of the tense, "as often as water was wanted by the Israelites in the

wilderness, the rock was cleft."

            e hBAra tOmht;Ki. The plur, noun is apparently used for the sing. (comp.

Gen. vii. 11; Ps. xxxvi. 7), like tOmheB;, tOmk;HA, &c. Hence the adj. is in

the sing. The Chald. changes the adj. into the plur., in order to make it

agree with the noun. The LXX. e]n a]bu<ss& poll^? . So the older Verss.,

generally, take the two words as in concord. Others consider hBAra to be

an adverb, as lxii. 3, lxxxix. 8. "The imperf. consec. [at the beginning of

the verse] marks the consequence, which is here contrary to expectation."

(De Wette.)

            f tOrm;la, as Is. iii. 8. Inf. Hiph. for tvrm;hal;, from hrm (as cvi. 7; comp.

for other instances lxxiii. 20, Is. xxiii. 11), construed sometimes with acc.,

as here and ver. 40, 56, sometimes with B; or with Mfi.

            g Uvt;hi. The Hiph. occurs again in Ezek. ix. 4 in the sense of "putting

a mark" (on the forehead). This has been explained in two ways:

(i) "they put boundaries (marks) limits" to the power of God. Or

(2), as Hengst., Del., and others, "they branded with reproach" (Del.

brandmarkten). But we may perhaps connect it with the Syr.        ,

paenituit eum, doluit. So the LXX. parw<cunan.  Vulg. exacerbaverunt.

Jerome, concitaverunt.

                                    PSALM LXXIX.                                         73


            h MyfirA ykexEl;ma. This is commonly rendered "angels (or messengers) of

evil," i.e. causing evil, generally of the object, as in Prov. xvi. 4, "mes-

sengers of death," and MyfirA is supposed to be a neuter = tOfrA, "evil

things." This may perhaps be defended by Mydiynin;, nobilia, Prov. viii. 6,

though Hupf. contends that MyrimAxE must be supplied there, as with the

adjectives in ver. 9 of the same chapter; to which it may be replied that

the noun has immediately preceded, and would therefore be easily under-

stood in ver. 9, which is not the case in ver. 6. However, it is better to

explain 'r 'm as "angels (belonging to the class) of evil ones," i.e. evil

angels. (So the LXX. ponhrw?n; Symm. kakou<ntwn.) Comp. the same use

of the adj. after the constr. in Num. v. 18, "waters (belonging to the

class) of bitter (waters)." Jer. xxiv. 2, "figs of the early ones." See also

Is. xvii. 6; I Kings x. 15.

            i Ull.AUh. This is not (as Schnurr.) pret. Hoph. of lly= ejulare factae

sunt, i.e. ejularunt; for that must mean "they were lamented."  It

is merely by incorrect writing for UllAhu (Aq. u[mnh<qhsan; Symm. Th.

e]p^ne<qhsan), "were sung with praises," i.e. at the marriage feast. (Comp.

MyilUlhi, " of the harvest feast," Jud. ix. 21, with xvi. 24; Lev. xix. 24, and

the Rabb. xlvlh tyb, "marriage house," ylvlh ybd, T. B. Berachoth 6b).



                                          PSALM LXXIX.


            THIS Psalm is a lamentation over the same great national calamity

which, as we have already seen, is bewailed in terms so pathetic in

the Seventy-fourth. The two Psalms have, indeed, some points of

difference as well as of resemblance. The great features in the scene

of misery are presented in the two with a different degree of pro-

minence. In the one, the destruction of the Temple occupies the

foreground; in the other, the terrible carnage which had made the

streets of Jerusalem run with blood is the chief subject of lamenta-

tion. In the former, the hope of deliverance and triumph breaks

out strongly in the very midst of the sorrow and the wailing (lxxiv.

12, &c.). In the latter, the tone of sadness prevails throughout, with

the exception of the short verse with which the Psalm concludes.

There is also a marked difference in style. The Seventy-fourth

Psalm is abrupt, and sometimes obscure: the Seventy-ninth, on the

contrary, flows smoothly and easily throughout.

            But these differences are balanced by resemblances not less

observable. Thus, for instance, we may compare lxxix. 5, "how

long for ever," with lxxiv. 1, 10; lxxix. 1, the desecration of the

74                                 PSALM LXXIX.


Temple, with lxxiv. 3, 7; lxxix. 2, the giving up to the wild beast,

with lxxiv. 19; lxxix. 12, the reproach of the God of Israel with

lxxiv. io, i8, 22; lxxix. 13, the comparison of Israel to a flock, with

lxxiv. i. There is the same deep pathos in both Psalms; in both,

the same picturesque force of description; both the one and the

other may be called, without exaggeration, the funeral anthem of a


            There can, therefore, be little doubt that both Psalms, even if not

written by the same poet, yet bewail the same calamity. It is equally

certain that there are but two periods of the national history to

which the language of either could properly apply. But in attempt-

ing to draw our inference from this Psalm, the same difficulties meet

us which have already met us in our attempts to determine the date

of Psalm lxxiv. Does the Psalm deplore the destruction of Jerusalem

by Nebuchadnezzar, or is it a dirge over the sack of the city by

Antiochus Epiphanes?

            That the history of the Canon does not exclude the later of these

periods, I must still maintain, notwithstanding the positive and con-

temptuous manner in which Dr. Pusey has recently expressed himself

on this subject (Lectures on Daniel, pp. 56, 292, &c.). There is not

a shadow of proof (as I have pointed out in the Introduction to Vol.

I., pp. 18, 19) that the Canon was closed before the Maccabean era.

We are therefore at liberty to form our opinion as to the probable

date of the Psalm purely on internal evidence. And, indeed, it is on

this ground that Hengstenberg undertakes to show that the Psalm

refers to the Chaldean invasion. Let us examine his arguments.

            (1) He contends that there are no traces of any special reference

to the Maccabean times. To this it may be replied, that it is almost

impossible to find in any Psalm language so precise as to fix at once

the date and the occasion for which it was written. But in this

instance the fact that the desecration, and not the destruction of the

Temple is lamented, is certainly more easily explained on the Mac-

cabean hypothesis than on the Chaldean. Antiochus Epiphanes

defiled the Temple, Nebuchadnezzar destroyed it.

            (2) He asserts that the language used in ver. 1, "They have made

Jerusalem an heap of stones," and so general a slaughter as that

described in ver. 2, 3, are not applicable to the history of the

Maccabean age. It is sufficient answer to say, that the first chapter

of the First Book of the Maccabees altogether refutes such an asser-

tion. The desolation of Jerusalem, and the slaughter there spoken

of, might adequately, and without exaggeration, be described in the

language of the Psalm: the difference is only the difference between

poetry and prose.

                                      PSALM LXXIX.                                     75


            (3) He objects that in the Psalm (ver. 6) "kingdoms and nations"

are spoken of, whereas in the Syrian period the Jews had to do with

only one kingdom. But it is obvious that in the one struggle was

involved the whole principle of the antagonism to the heathen world

at large. And nothing is more common than for the prophets and

poets to extend their range of vision beyond the single enemy, or

the immediate conflict, so as to embrace a larger issue.

            There is one expression in the Psalm, and one only, which may

seem to favour the Babylonish exile:  "Let the sighing of the prisoner

come before Thee" (ver. 11). But even this might be used equally

well of the captives who were carried away by the army of Antiochus

(I Macc. i. 32). So far, then, there is no positive evidence—and

this Delitzsch cordially admits—in favour of one period rather than

of the other.

            We now come to difficulties of a more formidable kind. Two

passages in the Psalm are found elsewhere; the one in Jeremiah and

the other in the First Book of Maccabees.

            Verses 6 and 7 stand almost word for word in Jer. x. 25. Does

the Prophet quote from the Psalmist, or the Psalmist from the


            In favour of the former supposition it may be said: (1) That it is

Jeremiah's habit to quote largely from other writers, especially from

Job and the Psalms; (2) That in his prophecy the verse immediately

preceding the 24th verse of the chapter, is a quotation from the

Sixth Psalm; (3) That the words occupy a more natural position in

the Psalm than they do in the Prophecy, inasmuch as the prayer that

God would punish the heathen follows immediately on the complaint