CMF eZine The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship. 12 June Psalm 5 By Joseph Alexander Prayer, Psalms 0 Comment Psalm 5 “To the choirmaster: for the flutes. A Psalm of David. Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch. For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you. Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me. For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue. Make them bear their guilt, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you. But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield.” (Psalm 5:title–12, ESV) The Psalmist prays for the divine help, ver. 2 (1), on the ground that Jehovah is his King and his God, ver. 3 (2), that he early and constantly invokes his aid, ver. 4 (3), that the enemies, from whom he seeks to be delivered, are the enemies of God, ver. 5, 6 (4, 5), and as such must inevitably perish, ver. 7 (6), while he, as the representative of God’s friends, must be rescued, ver. 8 (7). He then goes over the same ground afresh, asking again to be protected from his enemies, ver. 9 (8), again describing them as desperately wicked, ver. 10 (9), again appealing to God’s justice to destroy them, ver. 11 (10), and again anticipating certain triumph, ver. 12 (11), on the ground of God’s habitual and uniform dealing with the righteous, ver. 13 (12). As the two preceding psalms appear to constitute a pair, so this one seems to contain such a pair or double psalm within itself. It is also obvious that this is but a further variation of the theme which runs through the preceding psalms, and therefore an additional proof that their arrangement in the book is not fortuitous or arbitrary. If ver. 4 (3) of this psalm be supposed to mark it as a morning hymn, its affinity to the two before it becomes still more close and striking. 1. To (or for) the Chief Musician. See above on Ps. 4:1. To (or for) Nehiloth. This, though undoubtedly a part of the original inscription, is obscure and enigmatical. Its very obscurity indeed may be regarded as a proof of its antiquity and genuineness. Some understand it to mean flutes or wind-instruments in general, as Neginoth, in the title of the fourth psalm, means stringed instruments. The sense would then be: (to be sung) to (an accompaniment of) flutes or wind-instruments. But as the Hebrew word is nowhere else used in this sense, and the preposition here employed is not the one prefixed to names of instruments, and flutes are nowhere mentioned as a part of the temple music, others make Nehiloth the name of a tune, or of another song to the melody of which this was to be adapted: (to be sung) to (the air of) Nehiloth. Others follow the ancient version in making it refer, not to the musical performance, but the subject of the psalm: (as) to inheritances, lots, or destinies, viz. those of the righteous and the wicked. This is favored by the circumstance, that most of the other enigmatical inscriptions of the psalms may be more probably explained as having reference to their theme or subject than in any other manner. The title closes, as in the foregoing psalm, by ascribing it to David as its author. Nor is there anything, as we shall see, to militate against the truth of this inscription. 2 (1). To my words, O Lord, Jehovah, give ear, perceive my thought. Attend not only to my vocal and audible petitions, but to my unexpressed desires, to those "groanings which cannot be uttered," but are no less significant to God than language (Rom. 8:26, 27). The second verb suggests the idea of attention, as well as that of simple apprehension. 3 (2). Hearken to the voice of my crying, or my cry for help, to which the Hebrew word is always specially applied. My king and my God, not as a mere creator and providential ruler, but as the covenant God and king of Israel, whom David represented. As he was himself the king of Israel, so God was his king, the lord paramount or sovereign, in whose right he reigned. This address involves a reason why his prayer must be heard. God, as the king of his people, could not deny them his protection, and they asked no other. For to thee, and thee only, will I pray. As if he had said, It is in this capacity that I invoke thee, and I therefore must be heard. This is a specimen of that παῤῥησία, or freedom of speech towards God, which is recognized as an effect and evidence of faith, in the New as well as the Old Testament, Heb. 4:16, 10:19, 35; 1 John 2:28, 3:21, 4:17, 5:14. 4 (3). O Lord, Jehovah, (in) the morning thou shalt hear my voice. This is not so much a request to be heard as a resolution to persist in prayer. The reference may be either to stated hours of prayer or to early devotion as a proof of earnestness and faith. See Ps. 55:18 (17), 88:14 (13.) (In) the morning I will set (my prayer) in order, to (or for) thee. There is here a beautiful allusion to the Mosaic ritual, which is unavoidably lost in a translation. The Hebrew verb is the technical term used in the Old Testament to signify the act of arranging the wood upon the altar (Gen. 22:9, Lev. 1:7, 1 Kings 18:33), and the shewbread on the table (Exod. 40:23, Lev. 24:6, 8). It would therefore necessarily suggest the idea of prayer as an oblation, here described as a kind of morning sacrifice to God. And I will look out, or watch, for an answer to my prayers. The image presented is that of one looking from a wall or tower in anxious expectation of approaching succor. A similar use of the same verb occurs in Hab. 2:1, and Micah 7:7. True faith is not contented with the act of supplication, but displays itself in eager expectation of an answer. 5 (4). Here, as elsewhere, the Psalmist identifies his cause with God’s, and anticipates the downfall of his enemies because they are sinners and therefore odious in God’s sight. For not a God delighting in wickedness (art) thou, as might appear to be the case if these should go unpunished. It is necessary, therefore, for the divine honor, that they should not go unpunished. Not with thee, as thy guest or friend, shall evil, or the bad (man), dwell. For an opposite use of the same figure, see below, Ps. 15:1, 61:5 (4). It is still implied, that the impunity of sinners would appear as if God harbored and abetted them, and therefore must be inconsistent with his honor as a holy God. 6 (5). What was said in the preceding verse of sin is here, to prevent misapprehension, said of sinners. They shall not stand, the proud, or insolent, here put for wicked men in general and for the Psalmist’s enemies in particular, before thine eyes. Thou canst not bear the presence of thy moral opposites. Sin is not only opposed to God’s will, but repugnant to his nature. By ceasing to hate it, he would cease to be holy, cease to be perfect, cease to be God. This idea is expressed more directly in the other clause. Thou hast hated, and must still hate, all doers of iniquity. This last word is originally a negative, meaning inanity or nonentity, but like several other negatives in Hebrew, is employed as a strong term to denote moral deficiency and worthlessness. 7 (6). As the preceding verse extends what was said of sin in the abstract to personal offenders, so here what was said of the divine dispositions is applied to divine acts. That which God hates he must destroy. Particular classes of transgressors are here put, as before, by way of specimen or sample, for the whole; with special reference, however, to the sins of David’s enemies. Thou wilt destroy speakers of falsehood; see above, on Ps. 4:3 (2). A man of blood, literally bloods, the plural form being commonly used where there is reference to blood-guiltiness or murder. See Gen. 4:10, 11; Ps. 51:16 (14). A man of blood and fraud, a bloody and deceitful man, the Lord, Jehovah, will abhor; he must and will shew his abhorrence by the punishment of such offenders. This confident anticipation of God’s righteous retributions really involves a prayer for the deliverance of the Psalmist from his enemies. 8 (7). For the same reason he is equally confident in the anticipation of his own deliverance. Since his enemies must perish as the enemies of God, he must escape, not on account of his own merit, nor simply as an object of God’s favor, but as the champion of his cause, his earthly vicegerent, the type and representative of his Messiah. And I, as distinguished from these sinners, in the abundance of thy mercy, which excludes all reliance on his own strength or goodness, will come to thy house, the tabernacle set up on Mount Zion by David. I will worship, literally prostrate or bow myself, towards thy temple of holiness, thy holy temple, or rather palace, so called as the residence of Israel’s divine King, and therefore no less applicable to the tabernacle than the temple. See 1 Sam. 1:9, 3:3, Ps. 27:4, 28:2. Towards, not in, because the worshippers did not go into the sanctuary itself, but worshipped in the court, with their faces turned towards the place of God’s manifested presence. Such usages are now superseded by the advent of the true sanctuary. See above, on Ps. 3:5 (4). In thy fear, the reverence engendered even by the view and the experience of God’s mercy. There may be an allusion in this verse to David’s painful sense of his exclusion from the house of God (2 Sam. 15:25); but it cannot be merely an anticipation of renewed access to the sanctuary, which was equally open to all others, and could not therefore be used to indicate the contrast between his condition and that of others. The verse is rather an engagement to acknowledge God’s delivering mercy in the customary manner. See below, Ps. 66:13. As if he had said, While my enemies perish by the hand of God, I shall be brought by his mercy to give thanks for my deliverance at his sanctuary. 9 (8). The Psalmist here begins his prayer and argument anew, pursuing the same order as before. O Lord, Jehovah, lead me, guide me safely, in thy righteousness, i.e. in the exercise of that same justice which destroys my enemies, on account of my enemies, that they may not triumph; make straight before my face thy way, i.e. mark out a safe and easy path for me to tread. The explanation of the way as that of duty and obedience, although not at variance with scriptural usage, is less suited to the context here, in which the prayer throughout is for protection and deliverance. 10 (9). The same reason as before is now assigned for his deliverance from his enemies, viz. because they were the enemies of God, and they were such because they were atrocious sinners. For there is nothing in his mouth, i.e. the mouth of any one of them, or of all concentrated in one ideal person, sure or certain, i.e. true. Their inside, their heart, their real disposition, as distinguished from the outward appearance, (is) mischiefs, injuries, or crimes, consists of nothing else. A grave opened, to receive the victim, (is) their throat, like that of a devouring monster. Or the throat may be mentioned as an organ of speech, as in Ps. 149:6, 115:7, and compared with the grave as a receptacle of corruption or a place of destruction. Their tongue they smooth, or make smooth, by hypocrisy or flattery, as the wicked woman is said to make her words smooth, Prov. 2:16, 7:5. The Septuagint version of this clause is quoted by Paul (Rom. 3:13), with several other passages from the Old Testament, as a strong description of human depravity. The last words are rendered in that version, "with their tongues they have used craft or deceit," an idea really included in the literal translation. 11 (10). Condemn them, literally make them guilty, i.e. recognise and treat them as such, O God! They shall fall, i.e. they must, they cannot but fall, a common figure for destruction (Ps. 36:13, 141:10), from their plans, i.e., before they can accomplish them, or in consequence, by means of them. (Compare Hos. 11:6). In the fulness, or abundance, of their sins, thrust them forth, cast them out from thy presence, and down from their present exaltation. For they have rebelled against thee, not me, or against me only as thy instrument and representative. Or the opposition may be between rebelling against God and simply sinning against man. The imperative and future forms, in this verse, both express the certainty of the event, with an implication of approving acquiescence. Such expressions, in the Psalms, have never really excited or encouraged a spirit of revenge in any reader, and are no more fitted to have that effect than the act of a judge who condemns a criminal to death, or of the officer who executes the sentence. The objections often urged against such passages are not natural, but spring from over-refinement and a false view of the Psalms as expressions of mere personal feeling. See below, on Ps. 7:13 (12). 12 (11). The transition and contrast are the same as in ver. 8 (7) above. While the wicked perish, the righteous shall have cause for everlasting joy. And all (those) trusting in thee, making thee their refuge, shall be glad; for ever shall they shout (or sing) for joy, and (not without cause, for) thou wilt cover over (or protect) them; and in thee, in thy presence and thy favour, shall exult, or triumph, (the) lovers of thy name, i.e. of thy manifested excellence, which is the usual sense of this expression in the Old Testament. The believers and lovers of God’s name, here spoken of, are not merely friends of the psalmist who rejoice in his deliverance, but the great congregation of God’s people, to which he belonged, and of which he was the representative, so that his deliverance was theirs, and a rational occasion of their joy, not only on his account but on their own. 13 (12). The confident hope expressed in the foregoing verse was not a groundless or capricious one, but founded on the nature of God and the uniform tenor of his dispensations. The psalmist knows what God will do in this case, because he knows what he does and will do still in general. For thou wilt bless, and art wont to bless, the righteous, the opposite of those described in ver. 5–7 (4–6) and 10, 11 (9, 10), O Lord, Jehovah! Like the shield, as the shield protects the soldier (so with) favour thou wilt surround him, or enclose him, still referring to the righteous; see the same comparison in Ps. 3:4 (3.) The confident assertion that God will do so, implies that he has done so, and is wont to do so, to the righteous as a class. And this affords a reasonable ground for the belief, expressed in the preceding verse, that he will do so also in the present case. Alexander, J. A. (1864). The Psalms Translated and Explained. Edinburgh: Andrew Elliot; James Thin. (Public Domain) Psalm 5 “To the choirmaster: for the flutes. A Psalm of David. Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch. For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you. Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me. For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue. Make them bear their guilt, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you. But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield.” (Psalm 5:title–12, ESV) The Psalmist prays for the divine help, ver. 2 (1), on the ground that Jehovah is his King and his God, ver. 3 (2), that he early and constantly invokes his aid, ver. 4 (3), that the enemies, from whom he seeks to be delivered, are the enemies of God, ver. 5, 6 (4, 5), and as such must inevitably perish, ver. 7 (6), while he, as the representative of God’s friends, must be rescued, ver. 8 (7). He then goes over the same ground afresh, asking again to be protected from his enemies, ver. 9 (8), again describing them as desperately wicked, ver. 10 (9), again appealing to God’s justice to destroy them, ver. 11 (10), and again anticipating certain triumph, ver. 12 (11), on the ground of God’s habitual and uniform dealing with the righteous, ver. 13 (12). As the two preceding psalms appear to constitute a pair, so this one seems to contain such a pair or double psalm within itself. It is also obvious that this is but a further variation of the theme which runs through the preceding psalms, and therefore an additional proof that their arrangement in the book is not fortuitous or arbitrary. If ver. 4 (3) of this psalm be supposed to mark it as a morning hymn, its affinity to the two before it becomes still more close and striking. 1. To (or for) the Chief Musician. See above on Ps. 4:1. To (or for) Nehiloth. This, though undoubtedly a part of the original inscription, is obscure and enigmatical. Its very obscurity indeed may be regarded as a proof of its antiquity and genuineness. Some understand it to mean flutes or wind-instruments in general, as Neginoth, in the title of the fourth psalm, means stringed instruments. The sense would then be: (to be sung) to (an accompaniment of) flutes or wind-instruments. But as the Hebrew word is nowhere else used in this sense, and the preposition here employed is not the one prefixed to names of instruments, and flutes are nowhere mentioned as a part of the temple music, others make Nehiloth the name of a tune, or of another song to the melody of which this was to be adapted: (to be sung) to (the air of) Nehiloth. Others follow the ancient version in making it refer, not to the musical performance, but the subject of the psalm: (as) to inheritances, lots, or destinies, viz. those of the righteous and the wicked. This is favored by the circumstance, that most of the other enigmatical inscriptions of the psalms may be more probably explained as having reference to their theme or subject than in any other manner. The title closes, as in the foregoing psalm, by ascribing it to David as its author. Nor is there anything, as we shall see, to militate against the truth of this inscription. 2 (1). To my words, O Lord, Jehovah, give ear, perceive my thought. Attend not only to my vocal and audible petitions, but to my unexpressed desires, to those "groanings which cannot be uttered," but are no less significant to God than language (Rom. 8:26, 27). The second verb suggests the idea of attention, as well as that of simple apprehension. 3 (2). Hearken to the voice of my crying, or my cry for help, to which the Hebrew word is always specially applied. My king and my God, not as a mere creator and providential ruler, but as the covenant God and king of Israel, whom David represented. As he was himself the king of Israel, so God was his king, the lord paramount or sovereign, in whose right he reigned. This address involves a reason why his prayer must be heard. God, as the king of his people, could not deny them his protection, and they asked no other. For to thee, and thee only, will I pray. As if he had said, It is in this capacity that I invoke thee, and I therefore must be heard. This is a specimen of that παῤῥησία, or freedom of speech towards God, which is recognized as an effect and evidence of faith, in the New as well as the Old Testament, Heb. 4:16, 10:19, 35; 1 John 2:28, 3:21, 4:17, 5:14. 4 (3). O Lord, Jehovah, (in) the morning thou shalt hear my voice. This is not so much a request to be heard as a resolution to persist in prayer. The reference may be either to stated hours of prayer or to early devotion as a proof of earnestness and faith. See Ps. 55:18 (17), 88:14 (13.) (In) the morning I will set (my prayer) in order, to (or for) thee. There is here a beautiful allusion to the Mosaic ritual, which is unavoidably lost in a translation. The Hebrew verb is the technical term used in the Old Testament to signify the act of arranging the wood upon the altar (Gen. 22:9, Lev. 1:7, 1 Kings 18:33), and the shewbread on the table (Exod. 40:23, Lev. 24:6, 8). It would therefore necessarily suggest the idea of prayer as an oblation, here described as a kind of morning sacrifice to God. And I will look out, or watch, for an answer to my prayers. The image presented is that of one looking from a wall or tower in anxious expectation of approaching succor. A similar use of the same verb occurs in Hab. 2:1, and Micah 7:7. True faith is not contented with the act of supplication, but displays itself in eager expectation of an answer. 5 (4). Here, as elsewhere, the Psalmist identifies his cause with God’s, and anticipates the downfall of his enemies because they are sinners and therefore odious in God’s sight. For not a God delighting in wickedness (art) thou, as might appear to be the case if these should go unpunished. It is necessary, therefore, for the divine honor, that they should not go unpunished. Not with thee, as thy guest or friend, shall evil, or the bad (man), dwell. For an opposite use of the same figure, see below, Ps. 15:1, 61:5 (4). It is still implied, that the impunity of sinners would appear as if God harbored and abetted them, and therefore must be inconsistent with his honor as a holy God. 6 (5). What was said in the preceding verse of sin is here, to prevent misapprehension, said of sinners. They shall not stand, the proud, or insolent, here put for wicked men in general and for the Psalmist’s enemies in particular, before thine eyes. Thou canst not bear the presence of thy moral opposites. Sin is not only opposed to God’s will, but repugnant to his nature. By ceasing to hate it, he would cease to be holy, cease to be perfect, cease to be God. This idea is expressed more directly in the other clause. Thou hast hated, and must still hate, all doers of iniquity. This last word is originally a negative, meaning inanity or nonentity, but like several other negatives in Hebrew, is employed as a strong term to denote moral deficiency and worthlessness. 7 (6). As the preceding verse extends what was said of sin in the abstract to personal offenders, so here what was said of the divine dispositions is applied to divine acts. That which God hates he must destroy. Particular classes of transgressors are here put, as before, by way of specimen or sample, for the whole; with special reference, however, to the sins of David’s enemies. Thou wilt destroy speakers of falsehood; see above, on Ps. 4:3 (2). A man of blood, literally bloods, the plural form being commonly used where there is reference to blood-guiltiness or murder. See Gen. 4:10, 11; Ps. 51:16 (14). A man of blood and fraud, a bloody and deceitful man, the Lord, Jehovah, will abhor; he must and will shew his abhorrence by the punishment of such offenders. This confident anticipation of God’s righteous retributions really involves a prayer for the deliverance of the Psalmist from his enemies. 8 (7). For the same reason he is equally confident in the anticipation of his own deliverance. Since his enemies must perish as the enemies of God, he must escape, not on account of his own merit, nor simply as an object of God’s favor, but as the champion of his cause, his earthly vicegerent, the type and representative of his Messiah. And I, as distinguished from these sinners, in the abundance of thy mercy, which excludes all reliance on his own strength or goodness, will come to thy house, the tabernacle set up on Mount Zion by David. I will worship, literally prostrate or bow myself, towards thy temple of holiness, thy holy temple, or rather palace, so called as the residence of Israel’s divine King, and therefore no less applicable to the tabernacle than the temple. See 1 Sam. 1:9, 3:3, Ps. 27:4, 28:2. Towards, not in, because the worshippers did not go into the sanctuary itself, but worshipped in the court, with their faces turned towards the place of God’s manifested presence. Such usages are now superseded by the advent of the true sanctuary. See above, on Ps. 3:5 (4). In thy fear, the reverence engendered even by the view and the experience of God’s mercy. There may be an allusion in this verse to David’s painful sense of his exclusion from the house of God (2 Sam. 15:25); but it cannot be merely an anticipation of renewed access to the sanctuary, which was equally open to all others, and could not therefore be used to indicate the contrast between his condition and that of others. The verse is rather an engagement to acknowledge God’s delivering mercy in the customary manner. See below, Ps. 66:13. As if he had said, While my enemies perish by the hand of God, I shall be brought by his mercy to give thanks for my deliverance at his sanctuary. 9 (8). The Psalmist here begins his prayer and argument anew, pursuing the same order as before. O Lord, Jehovah, lead me, guide me safely, in thy righteousness, i.e. in the exercise of that same justice which destroys my enemies, on account of my enemies, that they may not triumph; make straight before my face thy way, i.e. mark out a safe and easy path for me to tread. The explanation of the way as that of duty and obedience, although not at variance with scriptural usage, is less suited to the context here, in which the prayer throughout is for protection and deliverance. 10 (9). The same reason as before is now assigned for his deliverance from his enemies, viz. because they were the enemies of God, and they were such because they were atrocious sinners. For there is nothing in his mouth, i.e. the mouth of any one of them, or of all concentrated in one ideal person, sure or certain, i.e. true. Their inside, their heart, their real disposition, as distinguished from the outward appearance, (is) mischiefs, injuries, or crimes, consists of nothing else. A grave opened, to receive the victim, (is) their throat, like that of a devouring monster. Or the throat may be mentioned as an organ of speech, as in Ps. 149:6, 115:7, and compared with the grave as a receptacle of corruption or a place of destruction. Their tongue they smooth, or make smooth, by hypocrisy or flattery, as the wicked woman is said to make her words smooth, Prov. 2:16, 7:5. The Septuagint version of this clause is quoted by Paul (Rom. 3:13), with several other passages from the Old Testament, as a strong description of human depravity. The last words are rendered in that version, "with their tongues they have used craft or deceit," an idea really included in the literal translation. 11 (10). Condemn them, literally make them guilty, i.e. recognise and treat them as such, O God! They shall fall, i.e. they must, they cannot but fall, a common figure for destruction (Ps. 36:13, 141:10), from their plans, i.e., before they can accomplish them, or in consequence, by means of them. (Compare Hos. 11:6). In the fulness, or abundance, of their sins, thrust them forth, cast them out from thy presence, and down from their present exaltation. For they have rebelled against thee, not me, or against me only as thy instrument and representative. Or the opposition may be between rebelling against God and simply sinning against man. The imperative and future forms, in this verse, both express the certainty of the event, with an implication of approving acquiescence. Such expressions, in the Psalms, have never really excited or encouraged a spirit of revenge in any reader, and are no more fitted to have that effect than the act of a judge who condemns a criminal to death, or of the officer who executes the sentence. The objections often urged against such passages are not natural, but spring from over-refinement and a false view of the Psalms as expressions of mere personal feeling. See below, on Ps. 7:13 (12). 12 (11). The transition and contrast are the same as in ver. 8 (7) above. While the wicked perish, the righteous shall have cause for everlasting joy. And all (those) trusting in thee, making thee their refuge, shall be glad; for ever shall they shout (or sing) for joy, and (not without cause, for) thou wilt cover over (or protect) them; and in thee, in thy presence and thy favour, shall exult, or triumph, (the) lovers of thy name, i.e. of thy manifested excellence, which is the usual sense of this expression in the Old Testament. The believers and lovers of God’s name, here spoken of, are not merely friends of the psalmist who rejoice in his deliverance, but the great congregation of God’s people, to which he belonged, and of which he was the representative, so that his deliverance was theirs, and a rational occasion of their joy, not only on his account but on their own. 13 (12). The confident hope expressed in the foregoing verse was not a groundless or capricious one, but founded on the nature of God and the uniform tenor of his dispensations. The psalmist knows what God will do in this case, because he knows what he does and will do still in general. For thou wilt bless, and art wont to bless, the righteous, the opposite of those described in ver. 5–7 (4–6) and 10, 11 (9, 10), O Lord, Jehovah! Like the shield, as the shield protects the soldier (so with) favour thou wilt surround him, or enclose him, still referring to the righteous; see the same comparison in Ps. 3:4 (3.) The confident assertion that God will do so, implies that he has done so, and is wont to do so, to the righteous as a class. And this affords a reasonable ground for the belief, expressed in the preceding verse, that he will do so also in the present case. Alexander, J. A. (1864). The Psalms Translated and Explained. Edinburgh: Andrew Elliot; James Thin. (Public Domain) Related Psalm 7 Psalm 7 “O Lord my God, in you do I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and deliver me, lest like a lion they tear my soul apart, rending it in pieces, with none to deliver. O Lord my God, if I have done this, if there is wrong in my hands, if I have repaid my friend with evil or plundered my enemy without cause, let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it, and let him trample my life to the ground and lay my glory in the dust. Selah Arise, O Lord, in your anger; lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies; awake for me; you have appointed a judgment. Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about you; over it return on high. The Lord judges the peoples; judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me. Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end, and may you establish the righteous— you who test the minds and hearts, O righteous God! My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart. God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day. If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow; he has prepared for him his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts. Behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies. He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole that he has made. His mischief returns upon his own head, and on his own skull his violence descends. I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.” (Psalm 7:1–17, ESV) The Psalmist still prays for deliverance from his enemies, ver. 2, 3 (1, 2), on the ground that he is innocent of that wherewith they charge him, ver. 4–6 (3–5). He prays for justice to himself and on his enemies, as a part of that great judicial process which belongs to God as the universal judge, ver. 7–10 (6–9). He trusts in the divine discrimination between innocence and guilt, ver. 11, 12 (10, 11). He anticipates God’s vengeance on impenitent offenders, ver. 13, 14 (12, 13). He sees them forced to act as self-destroyers, ver. 15–17 (14–16). At the same time he rejoices in God’s mercy to himself, and to the whole class whom he represents, ver. 18 (17). The penitential tone, which predominated in the sixth psalm, here gives way again to that of self-justification, perhaps because the Psalmist here speaks no longer as an individual, but as the representative of the righteous or God’s people. The two views which he thus takes of himself are perfectly consistent, and should be suffered to interpret one another. 1. Shiggaion, i.e. wandering, error. The noun occurs only here, and in the plural form, Hab. 3:1, but the verb from which it is derived is not uncommon, and is applied by Saul to his own errors with respect to David (1 Sam. 26:21). See also Ps. 119:10, 118. Hence some explain the word here as denoting moral error, sin, and make it descriptive of the subject of the psalm. See above on Ps. 5:1. Still more in accordance with the literal meaning of the root is the opinion that it here denotes the wandering of David at the period when the psalm was probably conceived. In either case, it means a song of wandering or error, which he sang, in the literal sense, or in the secondary one of poetical composition, as Virgil says, I sing the man and arms, i.e. they are the subject of my poem. To the Lord, Jehovah, to whom a large part of the psalm is really addressed. Concerning (or because of) the words of Cush the Benjamite. It is clear from ver. 4–6 (3–5), that the words referred to were calumnious reports or accusations. These may have been uttered by one Cush, a Benjamite, who nowhere else appears in history. But as this very circumstance makes it improbable that he would have been singled out, as the occasion of this psalm, from among so many slanderers, some suppose Cush to be Shimei, who cursed David when he fled from Absalom (2 Sam. 16:5–13). As the psalm, however, seems much better suited to the times of Saul, some suppose Cush, which is properly the Hebrew name of Ethiopia, to be here an enigmatical name applied to Saul himself, in reference to the blackness of his heart, and perhaps to his incorrigible wickedness. See Jer. 13:23, and Amos 9:7. The description Benjamite, is equally appropriate to Saul (1 Sam. 9:1, 2; 16:5, 11) and Shimei, who, indeed, were kinsmen. This explanation of the word Cush is less forced than it might otherwise appear, because enigmatical descriptions of the theme are not infrequent in the titles of the Psalms. See above, on Ps. 5:1, and below, on Ps. 9:1; 22:1; 53:1; 57:1; 60:1. 2 (1). The psalm opens with an expression of strong confidence in God, and a prayer founded on it. O Lord, Jehovah, my God, not merely by creation, but by special covenant, in thee, as such, and therefore in no other, I have trusted, and do still trust. This relation and this trust entitle him to audience and deliverance. Save me from all my persecutors, or pursuers, a term frequently employed in David’s history. See 1 Sam. 24:15 (14); 26:20. By these we are here to understand the whole class of worldly and ungodly men, of which Saul was the type and representative. The all suggests the urgency of the necessity, as a motive to immediate interposition. And extricate me, or deliver me. The primary idea of the verb translated save is that of making room, enlarging. See above, on Ps. 4:2 (1). 3 (2). Lest he tear, like a lion, my soul. The singular form, following the plural in the foregoing verse, may have particular reference to Saul, or to the class of which he was a type, personified as an ideal individual. The imagery of the verse is borrowed from the habits of wild beasts, with which David was familiar from a child. See 1 Sam. 17:34–37. The soul or life is mentioned as the real object of attack, and not as a mere periphrasis for the personal pronoun, as if my soul were equivalent to me. Rending, or breaking the bones, and there is none delivering, or with none to deliver. 4 (3.) He proceeds upon the principle that God will not hear the prayer of the wicked, and that he must hear that of the righteous. He proceeds, therefore, to assert his innocence, not his freedom from all sin, but from that particular offence with which he had been charged. O Lord, Jehovah, my God, as in ver. 2 (1), if I have done this, which follows, or this of which I am accused, referring to "the words of Cush," the calumnies, which gave occasion to the psalm itself. If there is, with emphasis on the verb, which might have been omitted in Hebrew, and is therefore emphatic, if there is indeed, as my accusers say, perverseness, iniquity, in my palms, in the palms of my hands, here mentioned as instruments of evil. The apodosis of the sentence is contained in ver. 6 (5) below. 5 (4). If I have repaid my friend, one at peace with me, evil, and spoiled, plundered, (one) distressing me, acting as my enemy, without a cause. There seems to be an allusion here to the two periods of David’s connection with Saul, that of their friendly intercourse, and that of their open enmity. During neither of these had David been guilty of the sins charged upon him. He had not conspired against Saul while in his service (1 Sam. 22:7, 8), and when persecuted by him he had spared his life (1 Sam. 24:10, 11). Some suppose this last fact to be here referred to, and translate the second clause, yea, I have delivered him that without cause is mine enemy. The Hebrew verb is certainly used elsewhere in this sense (2 Sam. 22:20, Ps. 6:5), but its primary meaning seems to be that of stripping or spoiling a conquered enemy. The first construction above given is moreover much more natural, and agrees better with the grammatical dependence of the second verb upon the first. 6 (5). His consciousness of innocence is expressed in the strongest manner by invoking the divine displeasure if the charge can be established. An enemy, or by poetic license, the enemy, whether Saul or the ideal enemy referred to in verse 3 (2), shall pursue, or may pursue, which is equivalent to saying, Let the enemy pursue my soul, the figure being still the same as in verse 3 (2) above, but carried out with more minuteness, and overtake (it), and trample to the earth my life, and my honor in the dust make dwell, i.e. completely prostrate and degrade. Some regard honor as equivalent to soul and life, the intelligent and vital part, which is the glory of man’s constitution. But the analogy of Ps. 3:4 (3) and 4:3 (2) makes it more probable that in this case also there is reference to the Psalmist’s personal and official honor. The allusion, however, is not so much to posthumous disgrace as to present humiliation. All this he imprecates upon himself if really guilty of the charges calumniously brought against him. The solemnity of this appeal to God, as a witness and a judge, is enhanced by the usual pause. Selah. 7 (6). Upon this protestation of his innocence he founds a fresh prayer for protection and deliverance. Arise, arouse thyself, O Lord, Jehovah. See above, on Ps. 3:8 (7). Arise in thine anger, raise thyself, or be exalted, in, i.e. amidst, the ragings of my enemies. The idea because of my enemies is rather implied than expressed. The sense directly intended seems to be that, as his enemies are raging, it is time for God to arise in anger too. As they rage against him, he calls upon God to rise in anger against them. And awake, a still stronger figure than arise, because implying sleep as well as inactivity. Awake unto me, at my call and for my benefit. Judgment hast thou commanded, or ordained. Let that judgment now be executed. He appeals to the general administration of God’s justice, as a ground for expecting it in this one case. As it was part of the divine plan or purpose to do justice, both on friends and foes, here was an opportunity to put it into execution. 8 (7). And the congregation of nations shall surround thee, which in this connection is equivalent to saying, let it surround thee. The most probable sense of these obscure words is, appear in the midst of the nations as their judge. The same connection between God’s judicial government in general and his judicial acts in a particular case, that is implied in the preceding verse, is here embodied in the figure of an oriental king dispensing justice to his subjects in a popular assembly. And above it, the assembly, to the high place, or the height, return thou. This may either mean, return to heaven when the judgment is concluded, or, which seems more natural, Resume thy seat as judge above this great ideal congregation. Above it, thus assembled to receive thee, to the high place, or the judgment-seat, return thou, after so long an absence, previously intimated by the summons to arise and awake. Inaction, sleep, and absence from the judgment-seat, are all bold metaphors for God’s delay to save his people and destroy their enemies. 9 (8). The same thing is now expressed in a direct and formal manner. Jehovah will judge, is to judge, the nations. This is laid down as a certain general proposition, from which the Psalmist draws a special inference in the shape of a petition. Judge me, O Lord, Jehovah! If it be true that God will judge the world, redress all wrong, and punish all iniquity, let him begin with me. Let me share now in the justice which is to be universally administered. Judge me, O Lord, according to my right, and my completeness, or perfection, over me, i.e. according to my innocence which covers and protects me. All such expressions must be qualified and explained by the confession of unworthiness in Ps. 6 and elsewhere, which sufficiently demonstrates that the Psalmist here makes no claim to absolute perfection and innocence, nor to any whatever that is independent of God’s sovereign mercy. 10 (9). Let cease, I pray, the badness of wicked (men). The future has an optative meaning given to it by the Hebrew particle (נָא), which is often rendered now, not as an adverb of time, but of entreaty. Between man and man, it is frequently equivalent to if you please in modern parlance. When addressed to God, it scarcely admits of any other version than I pray. The assonance or paronomasia in the common version, wickedness of the wicked, is not found in the original, where two words, not akin to one another, are employed. The plural form of wicked is also lost or left ambiguous in the common version. And thou wilt confirm, or establish, a righteous (man), and a trier of hearts and reins, constantly used in Scripture for the internal dispositions, (is the) righteous God, or (art thou) O righteous God, which last agrees best with the direct address to God in the preceding clauses. This does not merely mean that God is omniscient, and therefore able thus to try the hearts and reins, but that he actually does it. Here he is specially appealed to, as a judge or umpire between Saul, or "the wicked" whom he represented, and "the righteous," of whom David was the type and champion. 11 (10). My shield (is) upon God. My protection or defense depends on him alone. The figure is the same as in Ps. 3:4 (3) and 5:13 (12). Here again the hope of personal deliverance is founded on a general truth, as to the course of the divine administration. My shield (is) upon God, saving, or who saves, the Savior of the upright, straightforward, or sincere in heart. This is a new indirect assertion of his own integrity and innocence. 12 (11). The second word in the original of this verse may be either a participle or a noun, so that the clause admits of two translations, God (is) a righteous judge, and, God is judging, i.e. judges, the righteous. The first would be a repetition of the general truth taught in ver. 9 (8) above, but here applied to the punishment of the wicked, as it is there to the salvation of the innocent. According to the other construction, the verse before us presents both ideas: God judges the righteous, i.e. does him justice, and God is angry every day. The object of this anger, although not expressed, is obvious, and is even rendered more conspicuous by this omission. As if he had said, "God, who does justice to the righteous, has likewise objects for his indignation." 13 (12). If he, the sinner at whom God is angry, will not turn, i.e. turn back from his impious and rebellious undertakings, his sword he will whet, i.e. with a natural though sudden change of subject, God will whet his sword, often referred to as an instrument of vengeance. His bow he has trodden on, alluding to the ancient mode of bending the large and heavy bows used in battle, and made it ready. The bow and the sword were the most common weapons used in ancient warfare. The past tense of these verbs implies that the instruments of vengeance are prepared already, and not merely viewed as something future. 14 (13). And at him (the wicked enemy) he has aimed, or directed, the instruments of death, his deadly weapons. This is still another step in advance. The weapons are not only ready for him, but aimed at him. His arrows to (be) burning he will make, i.e. he will make his arrows burning arrows, in allusion to the ancient military custom of shooting ignited darts or arrows into besieged towns, for the purpose of setting them on fire, as well as that of personal injury. The figurative terms in these two verses all express the certainty and promptness of the divine judgments on incorrigible sinners. For even these denunciations are not absolute, but suspended on the enemy’s repentance or persistency in evil. That significant phrase, if he will not turn, may be tacitly supplied as qualifying every threatening in the book, however strong and unconditional in its expressions. 15 (14). Behold, he, the wicked man, will writhe, or travail (with) iniquity, (towards others), and conceive mischief (to himself), and bring forth falsehood, self-deception, disappointment. The meaning seems to be, that while bringing his malignant schemes to maturity, he will unconsciously conceive and bring forth ruin to himself. 16 (15) The same idea is then expressed by other figures, borrowed perhaps from certain ancient modes of hunting. A well he has digged, i.e. a pitfall for his enemy, and hollowed it, or made it deep, and fallen into the pit he is making, or about to make. The change from the past tense to the future seems to place the catastrophe between the inception and completion of the plan. The translation of the last verb as a simple preterite is entirely ungrammatical. 17 (16). Still a third variation of the same theme. His mischief shall return upon his own head, literally into it, like a falling body which not only rests upon an object, but sinks and is imbedded in it. And on his own crown his violence, including the ideas of injustice and cruelty, shall come down. 18 (17). While the wicked enemy of God and his people is thus made to execute the sentence on himself, the Psalmist already exults in the experience of God’s saving mercy. I will praise the Lord, Jehovah, i.e. acknowledge his favors. See above, on Ps. 6:6 (5). According to his right, desert, or due, as in ver. 9 (8) above. Or according to his righteousness, his justice, i.e. the praise shall correspond to the display just made of this attribute, as well in the deliverance of the Psalmist as in the destruction of his enemies. And I will sing praise, praise by singing, praise in song, the name, the manifested excellence (see above, on Ps. 5:12 (11),) of the Lord, Jehovah, High or Most High. He will praise the Lord in this exalted character as manifested by his dealings in the case which gave occasion to the psalm. The resolution thus expressed may be considered as fulfilled in the psalm itself, so confident is he that it cannot be performed before his prayer is answered. Or the words may be understood as engaging to continue these acknowledgments hereafter. Alexander, J. A. (1864). The Psalms Translated and Explained. Edinburgh: Andrew Elliot; James Thin. (Public Domain) Psalm 4 Psalm 4 “To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of David. Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer! O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame? How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him. Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord. There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!” You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4, ESV) The Psalmist prays God to deliver him from present as from past distresses, ver. 2 (1). He assures the haters of his regal dignity that God bestowed it, and will certainly protect it, ver. 3, 4 (2, 3). He exhorts them to quiet submission, righteousness, and trust in God, ver. 5, 6 (4, 5). He contrasts his own satisfaction, springing from such trust, with the hopeless disquietude of others, even in the midst of their enjoyments, ver. 7, 8 (6, 7). He closes with an exquisite proof of his tranquility by falling asleep, as it were, before us, under the divine protection, ver. 9 (8). The resemblance of the last verse to ver. 6 (5) of the preceding psalm, together with the general similarity of structure, shews that, like the first and second, they were meant to form a pair, or double psalm. For the reasons given in explaining Ps. 3:6 (5), the third may be described as a morning, and the fourth as an evening psalm. The historical occasion is of course the same in both, though mentioned only in the title of the third, while the musical directions are given in the title of the fourth. The absence of personal and local allusions is explained by the object of the composition, which was not to express private feelings merely, but to furnish a vehicle of pious sentiment for other sufferers, and the church at large. 1. To the chief musician, literally the overseer or superintendent, of any work or labor (2 Chron. 2:1, 17, 34:12), and of the temple music in particular (1 Chron. 15:21). The psalm is described as belonging to him, as the performer, or as intended for him, to be given to him. This shews that it was written for the use of the ancient church, and not for any merely private purpose. That this direction was not added by a later hand is clear from the fact that it never appears in the latest psalms. The same formula occurs at the beginning of fifty-three psalms, and at the close of the one in the third chapter of Habakkuk. A more specific musical direction follows. In, on, or with stringed instruments. This may either qualify chief musician, as denoting the leader in that particular style of performance, or direct him to perform this particular psalm with that kind of accompaniment. A psalm to David, i.e. belonging to him as the author, just as it belonged to the chief musician, as the performer. The original expression is the same in both cases. Of David conveys the sense correctly, but is rather a paraphrase than a translation. 2 (1). The psalm opens with a prayer for deliverance founded on previous experience of God’s mercy. In my calling, when I call, hear me, in the pregnant sense of hearing favorably, hear and answer me, grant me what I ask. O my God of righteousness, my righteous God! Compare my hill of holiness, Ps. 2:6, and his hill of holiness, Ps. 3:5 (4). The appeal to God, as a God of righteousness, implies the justice of the Psalmist’s cause, and shews that he asks nothing inconsistent with God’s holiness. The same rule should govern all our prayers, which must be impious if they ask God to deny himself. The mercy here asked is no new or untried favor. It is because he has experienced it before that he dares to ask it now. In the pressure, or confinement, a common figure for distress, which I have heretofore experienced, thou hast widened, or made room for me, the corresponding figure for relief. All he asks is that this may be repeated. Have mercy upon me, or be gracious unto me, now as in former times, and hear my prayer. This appeal to former mercies, as a ground for claiming new ones, is characteristic of the Bible and of true religion. Among men past favors may forbid all further expectations; but no such rule applies to the divine compassions. The more we draw from this source, the more copious and exhaustless it becomes. 3 (2). Sons of man! In Hebrew, as in Greek, Latin, and German, there are two words answering to man, one generic and the other specific. When placed in opposition to each other, they denote men of high and low degree, as in Ps. 49:3 (2), 62:10 (9), Prov. 8:4. It seems better, therefore, to give the phrase here used its emphatic sense, as signifying men of note or eminence, rather than the vague one of men in general or human beings. This agrees, moreover, with the probable occasion of this psalm, viz., the rebellion of Absalom, in which the leading men of Israel were involved. To what (time), i.e. how long, or to what (point), degree of wickedness; most probably the former. How long (shall) my honor, not merely personal, but official, (be) for shame, i.e. be so accounted, or (be converted) into shame, by my humiliation? David never loses sight of his religious dignity as a theocratical king and a type of the Messiah, or of the insults offered to the latter in his person. The question, how long? implies that it had lasted long enough, nay, too long, even when it first began; in other words, that it was wrong from the beginning. (How long) will ye love vanity, or a vain thing, in the sense both of a foolish, hopeless undertaking, and of something morally defective or worthless. The same word is used above in reference to the insurrection of the nations against God and Christ (Ps. 2:1). (How long) will ye seek a lie, i.e. seek to realize a vain imagination, or to verify a false pretension, with particular reference perhaps to the deceitful policy of Absalom (2 Sam. 15:4, 7). As the love of the first clause denotes the bent of their affections, so the seek of this clause signifies the acting out of their internal dispositions. Compare Ps. 34:15 (14), and Zeph. 2:3. The feeling of indignant surprise implied in the interrogation is expressed still further by a solemn pause. Selah. See above, on Ps. 3:3 (2). The position of this word, here and in ver. 5 (4) below, seems to forbid the division of the psalm into strophes or stanzas of equal length. 4 (3). The pause at the close of the preceding verse expresses feeling. The connection of the verses, as to sense, is as intimate as possible. The and at the beginning of the verse before us has reference to the exhortation implied in the foregoing question. (See above, on Ps. 2:6.) Cease to love vanity and seek a lie, and know, be assured, that the Lord, Jehovah, hath set apart, the same verb used to signify the segregation of Israel from the rest of men (Ex. 8:18, 9:4, 11:7, 33:16), here applied to the designation of an individual to the highest theocratical dignity. The Lord hath set apart for himself, for his own service, the execution of his own plans, and the promotion of his own honor. It was not, therefore, an attack on David, but on God himself and the Messiah whom he represented. The Hebrew word חָסִיד, derived from חֶסֶד, love to God or man, may either signify an object of the divine mercy, or one actuated by religions love. If both ideas are included, which is altogether probable, neither godly nor any other single word in English is an adequate translation. The predominant idea seems to be the passive one, so that the words are not so much descriptive of religious character as of divine choice: and know that the Lord hath set apart for the accomplishment of his own purpose one selected in his sovereign mercy for that purpose. This is mentioned as a proof that their hostility was vain, and that the prayer of verse 2 (1) would certainly be heard and answered. This followed as a necessary consequence from the relation which the Psalmist bore to God, not only as a godly man, but as a theocratic sovereign. The Lord, Jehovah, will hear, in my calling, when I call, unto him. The terms of the opening petition are here studiously repeated, so as to connect the prayer itself with the expression of assured hope that it will be answered. 5 (4). The address to his enemies is still continued, but merely as a vehicle of truth and his own feelings. Rage and sin not, i.e. do not sin by raging, as you have done, against me, the Lord’s Anointed, and indirectly therefore against himself. This construction of the Hebrew words, though not the most obvious or agreeable to usage, agrees best with the context and with the Septuagint version, adopted by Paul in Ephesians 4:26, where the precept, Be ye angry and sin not, seems to be a positive prohibition of anger, i.e., of its willful continuance, as appears from what the apostle adds, perhaps in allusion to the last clause of the verse before us. Some, it is true, have understood Paul as meaning, Be angry upon just occasions, but be careful not to sin by groundless anger or excess. But even if this be the sense of the words there, it is entirely inappropriate here, where the anger of the enemies was altogether sinful, and they could not therefore be exhorted to indulge it. There is still another meaning which the Hebrew words will bear. The verb strictly means to be violently moved with any passion or emotion, whether anger (Prov. 29:9), grief (2 Sam. 18:32), or fear (Isa. 32:11). It might therefore be translated here, tremble, stand in awe, and sin not. But this, although it yields a good sense, cuts off all connection between David’s words and those of Paul, and makes the explanation of the latter still more difficult. The English word rage not only conveys the sense of the original correctly, but is probably connected with it in its etymology. The command to cease from raging against God and his Anointed, is still further carried out in the next clause. Say in your heart, to yourselves, and not aloud, much less with clamor, what you have to say. The Hebrew verb does not mean to speak but to say, and, like this English word, is always followed by the words spoken, except in a few cases where they can be instantly supplied from the context. E.g. Exod. 19:25, "So Moses went unto the people and said (not spake) to them" what God had just commanded him. Gen. 4:8, "And Gain said to Abel his brother (not talked with him)," let us go into the field, as appears from what immediately follows. Compare 2 Chron. 2:10 (11). It might here be rendered, say (so) in your heart, i.e. say we will no longer sin by raging against David; but the other is more natural, and agrees better with what follows. Say (what you do say) in your heart, upon your bed, i.e. in the silence of the night, often spoken of in Scripture as the season of reflection (Eph. 4:26), and be still, be silent, implying repentance and submission to authority. The effect of this exhortation to be still is beautifully strengthened by a pause in the performance. Selah. 6 (5). Before his enemies can be successful they must have a fear of God and a faith, of which they are entirely destitute. This confirmation of the Psalmist’s hopes is clothed in the form of an exhortation to his enemies. Offer offerings, or sacrifice sacrifices, of righteousness, i.e. righteous sacrifices, prompted by a right motive, and implying a correct view of the divine nature. There may be an allusion to the hypocritical services of Absalom, and especially his pretended vow (2 Sam. 15:7, 8). The form of expression here is borrowed from Deut. 33:19. As an indispensable prerequisite to such a service, he particularly mentions faith. And trust in the Lord, Jehovah, not in any human help or temporal advantages. 7 (6). Many (there are) saying, Who will shew us good? This may be in allusion to the anxious fears of his companions in misfortune, but is more probably a picture of the disquiet and unsatisfied desire arising from the want of faith and righteousness described in the foregoing verse. Of all who do not trust in God it may be said, that they are continually asking Who will shew us good, who will shew us wherein happiness consists, and how we may obtain it? In contrast with this restlessness of hope or of despair, he shews his own acquaintance with the true source of tranquility by a petition founded on the ancient and authoritative form in which the High Priest was required to bless the people (Num. 6:24–26). "The Lord bless thee and keep thee; the Lord make his face shine upon thee and be gracious unto thee; the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee and give thee peace." Two of these solemn benedictions are here mingled in a prayer. Lift upon us the light of thy countenance, O Lord, Jehovah! The light of the countenance is a favorite figure in the Psalms, for a favorable aspect or expression. See Ps. 31:17 (16), 44:4 (3), 80:4 (3). The lifting up may have reference to the rising of the sun, or be put in opposition to the act of looking down or away from any object, as a token of aversion or displeasure. Upon us extends the prayer to his companions in misfortune, or to all God’s people, or to men in general, as if he had said, This is the only hope of our lost race. The plural form may be compared with those in the Lord’s Prayer, as indicating the expansive comprehensive spirit of true piety. 8 (7). The faith, of which his enemies were destitute, he possessed in such a measure, that the mere anticipation of God’s favor made him happier, in the midst of his distresses, than his foes in the actual possession of their temporal advantages. Thou hast given gladness in my heart, not to my heart, but to me in my heart, i.e. a real, inward, heartfelt gladness, more than the time, or more than when, i.e. more than they ever enjoyed when their corn and their wine abounded, or increased. The original nouns properly denote the new corn and wine of the passing year, the fresh fruits of the field and vineyard. The reference may be either to the proverbial joy of harvest and of vintage, or to the abundant stores of David’s enemies contrasted with his own condition when dependent on a faithful servant for subsistence (2 Sam. 16:1, 2). 9 (8). With this faith in the divine protection, he has nothing even to disturb his rest. In peace, tranquility, composure, at once, or at the same time, by the same act, I will lie down and will sleep, or rather go to sleep, fall asleep, which is the meaning of the Hebrew verb in Gen. 2:21, 41:5, 1 Kings 19:5, and elsewhere. Nothing could be more natural and beautiful, as a description of complete tranquility, than this trait borrowed from the physical habits of the young, the healthy, and those free from all anxiety, to whom the act of lying down and that of sleeping are almost coincident. The ground of this security is given in the last clause. For thou, Lord, Jehovah, alone in safety, or security, wilt make me dwell. The future form, though not exclusive of the present (see above, on Ps. 1:2), should be retained because it indicates the Psalmist’s assured hope of something not yet realized, and is thus in perfect keeping with ver. 8 (7). Alone may be connected with what goes before: for thou Lord, and no other, thou, even though all other friends and advantages should fail me, art sufficient to protect and provide for me. Or it may be connected with what follows: alone, in safety, thou wilt make me dwell. There is then an allusion to the repeated application of the same Hebrew word to Israel as dwelling apart from other nations under God’s protection and in the enjoyment of his favor. See Num. 23:9, Duet. 33:28, 29, and compare Micah 7:14, Jer. 49:31, Deut. 4:7, 8, 2 Sam. 7:23. What was originally said of the people is then transferred, as in ver. 4 (3) above, to David, not as a private member of the ancient church, however excellent, but as its theocratic head and representative, in whom, as afterwards more perfectly in Christ, the promises to Israel were verified and realized. This last interpretation of alone is so striking, and agrees so well with the other allusions in this context to the Pentateuch, e.g. to Lev. 25:18, 19, and Deut. 33:12 in this verse, and to Num. 6:24–26 in ver. 7 (6), that some combine the two constructions, and suppose alone to have a kind of double sense, as if he had said, Thou alone wilt make me dwell alone. Although the form of this verse has respect to the particular historical occasion of the psalm, the sentiment is so expressed as to admit of an unforced application to the case of every suffering believer, and to the distresses of the church at large, for whose use it was not only left on record but originally written. Alexander, J. A. (1864). The Psalms Translated and Explained. Edinburgh: Andrew Elliot; James Thin. (Public Domain) Psalm 3 Psalm 3 “A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son. O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, “There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around. Arise, O Lord! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people! Selah” (Psalm 3, ESV) This Psalm contains a strong description of the enemies and dangers by which the writer was surrounded, and an equally strong expression of confidence that God would extricate him from them, with particular reference to former deliverances of the same kind. Its place in the collection does not seem to be fortuitous or arbitrary. It was probably among the first of David’s lyrical compositions, the two which now precede it having been afterwards prefixed to the collection. In these three psalms there is a sensible gradation or progressive development of one great idea. The general contrast, which the first exhibits, of the righteous and the wicked, is reproduced, in the second, as a war against the Lord and his Anointed. In the third it is still further individualized as a conflict between David, the great historical type of the Messiah, and his enemies. At the same time, the expressions are so chosen as to make the psalm appropriate to its main design, that of furnishing a vehicle of pious feeling to the church at large, and to its individual members in their own emergencies. The structure of the psalm is regular, consisting of four double verses, besides the title. 1. A Psalm of David, literally (belonging) to David, i.e. as the author. This is not a mere inscription, but a part of the text and inseparable from it, so far as we can trace its history. It was an ancient usage, both among classical and oriental writers, for the author to introduce his own name into the first sentence of his composition. The titles of the psalms ought, therefore, not to have been printed in a different type, or as something added to the text, which has led some editors to omit them altogether. In all Hebrew manuscripts they bear the same relation to the body of the psalm, that the inscriptions in the prophet’s or in Paul’s epistles bear to the substance of the composition. In the case before us, as in every other, the inscription is in perfect keeping with the psalm itself, as well as with the parallel history. Besides the author’s name, it here states the historical occasion of the composition. A Psalm of David, in his fleeing, when he fled, from the face, from the presence, or before, Absalom, his son (see 2 Sam. 15:14, 17, 30). Such a psalm might well be conceived, and even composed, if not actually written, in the midst of the dangers and distresses which occasioned it. There is no need therefore of supposing the reference to be merely retrospective. That the terms used are so general, is because the psalm, though first suggested by the writer’s personal experience, was intended for more general use. 2 (1). O Lord, Jehovah, the name of God as self-existent and eternal, and also as the covenant God of Israel, how many, or how multiplied, are my foes, my oppressors or tormentors! This is not a question, but an exclamation of surprise and grief. Many rising up against me. The sentence may either be completed thus: many (are they) that rise up against me; or the construction of the other clause may be continued. (How) many (are there) rising up against me! The same periphrasis for enemies is used by Moses, Deut. 28:7. What is here said of the multitude of enemies agrees well with the historical statement in 2 Sam. 15:13, 16:18. 3 (2). (There are) many saying, or, (how) many (are there) saying to my soul, i.e. so as to affect my heart, though really said of him, not directly addressed to him. (Compare Ps. 35:3; Isa. 51:23.) There is no salvation, deliverance from evil, whether temporal, spiritual, or eternal. There is no salvation for him, the sufferer, and primarily the psalmist himself, in God, i.e. in his power, or his purpose, implying either that God does not concern himself about such things, Ps. 10:11, or that he has cast the sufferer off, Ps. 42:4, 11 (3, 10), 71:11, 22:8, 9 (7, 8); Matt. 27:43. This is the language, not of despondent friends, but of malignant enemies, and is really the worst that even such could say of him. For, as Luther well says, all the temptations in the world, and in hell too, melted together into one, are nothing when compared with the temptation to despair of God’s mercy. The first stanza, or double verse, closes, like the second and fourth, with the word Selah. This term occurs seventy-three times in the psalms, and three times in the prophecy of Habakkuk. It corresponds to rest, either as a noun or verb, and like it is properly a musical term, but generally indicates a pause in the sense as well as the performance. See below, on Ps. 9:17 (16). Like the titles, it invariably forms part of the text, and its omission by some editors and translators is a mutilation of the word of God. In the case before us, it serves as a kind of pious ejaculation to express the writer’s feelings, and, at the same time, warns the reader to reflect on what he reads, just as our Savior was accustomed to say: He that hath ears to hear let him hear. 4 (3). From his earthly enemies and dangers he looks up to God, the source of his honors and his tried protector. The connection is similar to that between the fifth and sixth verses of the second psalm. The and (not but) has reference to a tacit comparison or contrast. This is my treatment at the hands of men, and thou, on the other hand, O Lord, Jehovah, (art) a shield about me, or around me, i.e. covering my whole body, not merely a part of it, as ordinary shields do. This is a favorite metaphor with David; see Ps. 7:11 (10), 18:3 (2), 28:7. It occurs, however, more than once in the Pentateuch; see Gen. 15:1; Deut. 33:29. My honor, i.e. the source of the honors I enjoy, with particular reference, no doubt, to his royal dignity, not as a secular distinction merely, but in connection with the honor put upon him as a type and representative of Christ. The honor thus bestowed by God he might well be expected to protect. My honor, and the (one) raising my head, i.e. making me look up from my despondency. The whole verse is an appeal to the psalmist’s previous experience of God’s goodness as a ground for the confidence afterwards expressed. 5 (4). (With) my voice to the Lord, Jehovah, I will call, or cry. The future form of the verb is probably intended to express continued or habitual action, as in Ps. 1:2. I cry and will cry still. And he hears me, or, then he hears me, i.e. when I call. The original construction shews, in a peculiar manner, the dependence of the last verb on the first, which can hardly be conveyed by an exact translation. The second verb is not the usual verb to hear, but one especially appropriated to the gracious hearing or answering of prayer. And he hears (or answers) me from his hill of holiness, or holy hill. This, as we learn from Ps. 2:6, is Zion, the seat and center of the old theocracy, the place where God visibly dwelt among his people. This designation of a certain spot as the earthly residence of God, was superseded by the incarnation of his Son, whose person thenceforth took the place of the old sanctuary. It was, therefore, no play upon words or fanciful allusion, when our Savior "spake of the temple of his body" (John 2:21), but a disclosure of the true sense of the sanctuary under the old system, as designed to teach the doctrine of God’s dwelling with his people. The same confidence with which the Christian now looks to God in Christ the old believer felt towards the holy hill of Zion. Here again the strophe ends with a devout and meditative pause, denoted as before by Selah. 6 (5). I, even I, whose case you regarded as so desperate, have lain down, and slept, (and) awaked, notwithstanding all these dangers, for the Lord, Jehovah, will sustain me, and I therefore have no fears to rob me of my sleep. This last clause is not a reason for the safety he enjoys, which would require the past tense, but for his freedom from anxiety, in reference to which the future is entirely appropriate. This construction, the only one which gives the Hebrew words their strict and full sense, forbids the supposition that the psalm before us was an evening song, composed on the night of David’s flight from Jerusalem. If any such distinctions be admissible or necessary, it may be regarded as a morning rather than an evening hymn. 7 (6). The fearlessness implied in the preceding verse is here expressed. I will not be afraid of myriads, or multitudes, the Hebrew word being used both in a definite and vague sense. It also contains an allusion to the first verb in ver. 2 (1), of which it is a derivative. I will not be afraid of myriads of people, either in the sense of persons, men, or by a poetic license for the people, i.e. Israel, the great mass of whom had now revolted. Whom they, my enemies, have set, or posted, round about against me. This is a simpler and more accurate construction than the reflexive one, who have set (themselves) against me round about, although the essential meaning still remains the same. The sum of the whole verse is, that the same courage which enabled him to sleep without disturbance in the midst of enemies and dangers, still sustained him when those enemies and dangers were presented to his waking senses. 8 (7). That this courage was not founded upon self-reliance, he now shews by asking God for that which he before expressed his sure hope of obtaining. Arise, O Lord, Jehovah! This is a common scriptural mode of calling upon God to manifest his presence and his power, either in wrath or favor. By a natural anthropomorphism, it describes the intervals of such manifestations as periods of inaction or of slumber, out of which he is besought to rouse himself. Save me, even me, of whom they say there is no help for him in God. See above, ver. 3 (2). Save me, O my God, mine by covenant and mutual engagement, to whom I therefore have a right to look for deliverance and protection. This confidence is warranted, moreover, by experience. For thou hast, in former exigencies, smitten all my enemies, without exception, (on the) cheek or jaw, an act at once violent and insulting. See 1 Kings 22:24; Micah 4:14; 5:1; Lam. 3:30. The teeth of the wicked, here identified with his enemies, because he was the champion and representative of God’s cause, thou hast broken, and thus rendered harmless. The image present to his mind seems to be that of wild beasts eager to devour him, under which form his enemies are represented in Ps. 27:2. 9 (8). To the Lord, Jehovah, the salvation, which I need and hope for, is or belongs, as to its only author and dispenser. To him, therefore, he appeals for the bestowment of it, not on himself alone, but on the church of which he was the visible and temporary head. On thy people (be) thy blessing! This earnest and disinterested intercession for God’s people forms a noble close or winding up of the whole psalm, and is therefore preferable to the version, on thy people (is) thy blessing, which, though equally grammatical, is less significant, and indeed little more than a repetition of the fact asserted in the first clause, whereas this is really an importunate petition founded on it. The whole closes, like the first and second stanzas, with a solemn and devout pause. Selah. Alexander, J. A. (1864). The Psalms Translated and Explained. Edinburgh: Andrew Elliot; James Thin. (Public Domain) Psalm 2 Psalm 2 “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” (Psalm 2:1–12, ESV) A sublime vision of the nations in revolt against Jehovah and his Anointed, with a declaration of the divine purpose to maintain his King’s authority, and a warning to the world that it must bow to him or perish. The structure of this psalm is extremely regular. It naturally falls into four stanzas of three verses each. In the first, the conduct of the rebellious nations is described. In the second, God replies to them by word and deed. In the third, the Messiah or Anointed One declares the divine decree in relation to himself. In the fourth, the Psalmist exhorts the rulers of the nations to submission, with a threatening of divine wrath to the disobedient, and a closing benediction on believers. The several sentences are also very regular in form, exhibiting parallelisms of great uniformity. Little as this psalm may, at first sight, seem to resemble that before it, there is really a very strong affinity between them. Even in form they are related to each other. The number of verses and of stanzas is just double in the second, which moreover begins, as the first ends, with a threatening, and ends, as the first begins, with a beatitude. There is also a resemblance in their subject and contents. The contrast indicated in the first is carried out and rendered more distinct in the second. The first is in fact an introduction to the second, and the second to what follows. And as the psalms which follow bear the name of David, there is the strongest reason to believe that these two are his likewise, a conclusion confirmed by the authority of Acts 4:25, as well as by the internal character of the psalm itself. The imagery of the scene presented is evidently borrowed from the warlike and eventful times of David. He cannot, however, be himself the subject of the composition, the terms of which are wholly inappropriate to any king but the Messiah, to whom they are applied by the oldest Jewish writers, and again and again in the New Testament. This is the first of those prophetic psalms, in which the promise made to David, with respect to the Messiah (2 Sam. 7:16, 1 Chron. 17:11–14), is wrought into the lyrical devotions of the ancient church. The supposition of a double reference to David, or some one of his successors, and to Christ, is not only needless and gratuitous, but hurtful to the sense by the confusion which it introduces, and forbidden by the utter inappropriateness of some of the expressions used to any lower subject. The style of this psalm, although not less pure and simple, is livelier than that of the first, a difference arising partly from the nature of the subject, but still more from the dramatic structure of the composition. 1. This psalm opens, like the first, with an exclamation, here expressive of astonishment and indignation at the wickedness and folly of the scene presented to the psalmist’s view. Why do nations make a noise, tumultuate, or rage? The Hebrew verb is not expressive of an internal feeling, but of the outward agitation which denotes it. There may be an allusion to the rolling and roaring of the sea, often used as an emblem of popular commotion, both in the Scriptures and the classics. The past tense of this verb (why have they raged?) refers to the commotion as already begun, while the future in the next clause expresses its continuance. And peoples, not people, in the collective sense of persons, but in the proper plural sense of nations, races, will imagine, i.e. are imagining and will continue to imagine, vanity, a vain thing, something hopeless and impossible. The interrogation in this verse implies that no rational solution of the strange sight could be given, for reasons assigned in the remainder of the psalm. This implied charge of irrationality is equally well founded in all cases where the same kind of opposition exists, though secretly, and on the smallest scale. 2. The confused scene presented in the first verse now becomes more distinct, by a nearer view of the contending parties. (Why will) the kings of earth set themselves, or, without repeating the interrogation, the kings of earth will set themselves, or take their stand, and rulers consult together, literally sit together, but with special reference to taking counsel, as in Ps. 31:14 (13), against Jehovah and against his Anointed, or Messiah, which is only a modified form of the Hebrew word here used, as Christ is a like modification of the corresponding term in Greek. External unction or anointing is a sign, in the Old Testament, of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and especially of those conferred on prophets, priests, and kings, as ministers of the theocracy, and representatives of Christ himself. To kings particularly, as the highest and most comprehensive order, and peculiar types of Christ in his supremacy as Head of the church, the sacred history applies the title of the Lord’s Anointed. The rite of unction is explicitly recorded in the case of Saul, David, and Solomon, and was probably repeated at the coronation of their successors. From the verse before us, and from Dan. 9:26, the name Messiah had, before the Advent, come into use among the Jews as a common designation of the great Deliverer and King whom they expected. (Compare John 1:41 with ver. 49 of the same chapter, and with Mark 15:32.) The intimate relation of the Anointed One to God himself is indicated even here by making them the common object of attack, or rather of revolt. In Acts 4:25–27, this description is applied to the combination of Herod and Pilate, Jews and Gentiles, against Jesus Christ, not as the sole event predicted, but as that in which the gradual fulfilment reached its culmination. From that quotation, and indeed from the terms of the prophecy itself, we learn that nations here does not mean Gentiles or heathen, as opposed to Jews, but whole communities or masses of mankind, as distinguished from mere personal or insulated cases of resistance and rebellion. 3. Having described the conduct of the disaffected nations and their chiefs, he now introduces them as speaking. In the preceding verse they were seen, as it were, at a distance, taking counsel. Here they are brought so near to us, or we to them, that we can overhear their consultations. Let us break their bands, i.e. the bands of the Lord and his Anointed, the restraints imposed by their authority. The form of the Hebrew verb may be expressive either of a proposition or of a fixed determination. We will break their bands, we are resolved to do it. This is, in fact, involved in the other version, where let us break must not be understood as a faint or dubious suggestion, but as a summons to the execution of a formed and settled purpose. The same idea is expressed, with a slight modification, in the other clause. And we will cast, or let us cast away from us their cords, twisted ropes, a stronger term than bands. The verb, too, while it really implies the act of breaking, suggests the additional idea of contemptuous facility, as if they had said, Let us fling away from us with scorn these feeble bands by which we have been hitherto confined. The application of this passage to the revolt of the Ammonites and other conquered nations against David, or to any similar rebellion against any of the later Jewish kings, as the principal subject of this grand description, makes it quite ridiculous, if not profane, and cannot therefore be consistent with the principles of sound interpretation. The utmost that can be conceded is that David borrowed the scenery of this dramatic exhibition from the wars and insurrections of his own eventful reign. The language of the rebels in the verse before us is a genuine expression of the feelings entertained, not only in the hearts of individual sinners, but by the masses of mankind, so far as they have been brought into collision with the sovereignty of God and Christ, not only at the time of his appearance upon earth, but in the ages both before and after that event, in which the prophecy, as we have seen, attained its height, but was not finally exhausted or fulfilled, since the same rash and hopeless opposition to the Lord and his anointed still continues, and is likely to continue until the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ (Rev. 11:15), an expression borrowed from this very passage. 4. As the first strophe or stanza of three verses is descriptive of the conduct of the rebels, so the next describes the corresponding action of their sovereign, in precisely the same order, telling first what he does (in ver. 4, 5), and then what he says (in ver. 6), so that these two stanzas are not only regular in their internal structure, but exactly fitted to each other. This symmetrical adjustment is entitled to attention, as that feature of the Hebrew poetry which fills the place of rhythm and meter in the poetry of other nations. At the same time, it facilitates interpretation, when allowed to speak for itself without artificial or unnatural straining, by exhibiting the salient points of the passage in their true relation. The transition here is a sublime one, from the noise and agitation of earth to the safety and tranquility of heaven. No shifting of the scene could be more dramatic in effect or form. While the nations and their kings exhort each other to cast off their allegiance to Jehovah, and thereby virtually to dethrone him, he reposes far above them, and beyond their reach. Sitting in the heavens, i.e. resident and reigning there, he laughs, or will laugh. This figure, strong and almost startling as it is, cannot possibly be misunderstood by any reader, as a vivid expression of contemptuous security on God’s part, and of impotent folly on the part of men. At them may be supplied from Ps. 37:13, and 59:9 (8); but it is not necessary, and the picture is perhaps more perfect, if we understand the laughter here to be simply expressive of contempt, and the idea of directly laughing at them to be first suggested in the other clause. The Lord, not Jehovah, as in ver. 2, but Adhonai, the Hebrew word properly denoting Lord or Sovereign as a divine title, the Lord shall mock them, or mock at them, as the strongest possible expression of contempt. This verse conveys in the most vivid manner, one indeed that would be inadmissible in any uninspired writer, the fatuity of all rebellious opposition to God’s will. That such is often suffered to proceed long with impunity is only, in the figurative language of this passage, because God first laughs at human folly, and then smites it. "Who thought," says Luther, "when Christ suffered, and the Jews triumphed, that God was laughing all the time?" Beneath this bold anthropomorphism there is hidden a profound truth, namely, that to all superior beings, and above all, to God himself, there is something in sin not only odious but absurd, something which cannot possibly escape the contempt of higher, much less of the highest, intelligence. 5. This contemptuous repose and seeming indifference shall not last for ever. Then, after having thus derided them, then, as the next stage in this fearful process, he will speak to them, as they, after rising up against him, spoke to one another in ver. 3. And in his heat, i.e. his hot displeasure, the wrath to which the laughter of ver. 4 was but a prelude, he will agitate them, terrify them, make them quake with fear, not as a separate act from that described in the first clause, but by the very act of speaking to them in his anger, the words spoken being given in the following verse. 6. The divine address begins, as it were, in the middle of a sentence; but the clause suppressed is easily supplied, being tacitly involved in what precedes. As if he had said, you renounce your allegiance and assert your independence, and I, on my part, the pronoun when expressed in Hebrew being commonly emphatic, and here in strong antithesis to those who are addressed. You pursue your course and I mine. The translation yet, though inexact and arbitrary, brings out the antithesis correctly in a different form from that of the original. And I have constituted, or created, with allusion in the Hebrew to the casting of an image, or as some less probably suppose to unction, I have constituted my King, not simply a king, nor even the king, neither of which expressions would be adequate, but my king, one who is to reign for me and in indissoluble union with me, so that his reigning is identical with mine. This brings out still more clearly the intimate relation of the Anointed to Jehovah, which had been indicated less distinctly in ver. 2, and thus prepares us for the full disclosure of their mutual relation in ver. 7. And I have constituted my King upon Zion, my hill of holiness, or holy hill, i.e. consecrated, set apart, distinguished from all other hills and other places, as the seat of the theocracy, the royal residence, the capital city, of the Lord and of his Christ, from the time that David took up his abode, and deposited the ark there. The translation over Zion would convey the false idea, that Zion was itself the kingdom over which this sovereign was to reign, whereas it was only the visible and temporary center of a kingdom coextensive with the earth, as we expressly read it, ver. 8, below. This shews that the application of the verse before us to David himself, although intrinsically possible, is utterly at variance with the context and the whole scope of the composition. 7. We have here another of those changes which impart to this whole psalm a highly dramatic character. A third personage is introduced as speaking without any formal intimation in the text. As the first stanza (ver. 1–3) closes with the words of the insurgents, and the second (ver. 4–6) with the words of the Lord, so the third (ver. 7–9) contains the language of the king described in the preceding verse, announcing with his own lips the law or constitution of his kingdom. I will declare, or let me declare, the same form of the verb as in ver. 3, the decree, the statute, the organic law or constitution of my kingdom. The Hebrew verb is followed by a preposition, which may be expressed in English, without any change of sense, by rendering the clause, I will declare, or make a declaration, i.e. a public, formal announcement (as) to the law or constitution of my kingdom. This announcement is then made in a historical form, by reciting what had been said to the king at his inauguration or induction into office. Jehovah said to me, My son (art) thou, this day have I begotten thee. Whether this be regarded as a part of the decree or law itself, or as a mere preamble to it, the relation here described is evidently one which carried with it universal dominion as a necessary consequence, as well as one which justifies the use of the expression my King in ver. 6. It must be something more, then, than a figure for intense love or peculiar favor, something more than the filial relation which the theocratic kings, and Israel as a nation, bore to God. (Exod. 4:22; Deut. 14:1, 2, 32:6; Isa. 63:16; Hos. 11:1; Mal. 1:6; Rom 9:4.) Nor will any explanation of the terms fully meet the requisitions of the context except one which supposes the relation here described as manifest in time to rest on one essential and eternal. This alone accounts for the identification of the persons as possessing a common interest, and reigning with and in each other. This profound sense of the passage is no more excluded by the phrase this day, implying something recent, than the universality of Christ’s dominion is excluded by the local reference to Zion. The point of time, like the point of space, is the finite center of an infinite circle. Besides, the mere form of the declaration is a part of the dramatic scenery or costume with which the truth is here invested. The ideas of a king, a coronation, a hereditary succession, are all drawn from human and temporal associations. This day have I begotten thee may be considered, therefore, as referring only to the coronation of Messiah, which is an ideal one. The essential meaning of the phrase I have begotten thee is simply this, I am thy father. The antithesis is perfectly identical with that in 2 Sam. 7:14, "I will be his father, and he shall be my son." Had the same form of expression been used here, this day am I thy father, no reader would have understood this day as limiting the mutual relation of the parties, however it might limit to a certain point of time the formal recognition of it. It must also be observed, that even if this day be referred to the inception of the filial relation, it is thrown indefinitely back by the form of reminiscence or narration in the first clause of the verse. Jehovah said to me, but when? If understood to mean from everlasting or eternity, the form of expression would be perfectly in keeping with the other figurative forms by which the Scriptures represent things really ineffable in human language. The opinion that this passage is applied by Paul, in Acts 13:33, to Christ’s resurrection, rests upon a misapprehension of the verb raised up, which has this specific meaning only when determined by the context or the addition of the words from the dead, as in the next verse of the same chapter, which is so far from requiring the more general expressions of the preceding verse to be taken in the same sense, that it rather forbids such a construction, and shews that the two verses speak of different stages in the same great process: first, the raising up of Jesus in the same sense in which God is said to have raised him up in Acts 2:30, 3:22, 26, 7:36, i.e. bringing him into being as a man; and then the raising up from the dead, which the apostle himself introduces as another topic in Acts 13:34. There is nothing, therefore, inconsistent with the statement that the psalmist here speaks of eternal sonship, either in the passage just referred to, or in Heb. 5:5, where the words are only cited to prove the solemn recognition of Christ’s sonship, and his consequent authority, by God himself. This recognition was repeated, and, as it were, realized at our Savior's baptism and transfiguration (Mat. 3:17, 17:5), when a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him!" 8. The recital of Jehovah’s declaration to his Son is still continued. Ask of me, and I will give nations (as) thy heritage, i.e. thy portion as my Son, and (as) thy (permanent) possession, from a verb denoting to hold fast, the ends of the earth, a common Old Testament expression for the whole earth, the remotest bounds and all that lies between them. The phrase is never applied to a particular country, and cannot therefore be explained of Palestine or David’s conquests, without violently changing the sublime to the ridiculous. The only subject, who can be assumed and carried through without absurdity, is the Messiah, who, as the Son and heir of God, had a right to ask this vast inheritance. That he had asked it and received it, is implied in the dominion claimed for him in ver. 2 and 3, where the nations are represented in revolt against him as their rightful sovereign. It was to justify this claim that the divine decree is here recited, the constitution of Messiah’s kingdom, in which its limits are defined as co-extensive with the earth. 9. This extensive grant had been accompanied by that of power adequate to hold it. That power was to be exercised in wrath as well as mercy. The former is here rendered prominent, because the previous context has respect to audacious rebels, over whom Messiah is invested with the necessary power of punishment, and even of destruction. Thou shalt break them with a rod (or scepter) of iron, as the hardest metal, and therefore the best suited to the use in question. By a slight change of pointing in the Hebrew, it may be made to mean, thou shalt feed them (as a shepherd) with a rod of iron, which is the sense expressed in several of the ancient versions, and to which there may be an ironical allusion, as the figure is a common one to represent the exercise of regal power. (See for example 2 Sam. 7:7, and Micah 7:14.) Like a potter’s vessel thou shalt shiver them, or dash them in pieces, which last, however, weakens the expression by multiplying the words. The idea suggested by the last comparison is that of easy and immediate destruction, perhaps with an implication of worthlessness in the object. This view of the Messiah as a destroyer is in perfect keeping with the New Testament doctrine, that those who reject Christ will incur an aggravated doom, and that Christ himself is in some sense the destroyer of those who will not let him be their Savior, or, to borrow terms from one of his own parables, in strict agreement with the scene presented by the psalm before us, "those mine enemies which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither and slay them before me" (Luke 19:27). That false view of the divine nature which regards God as delighting in the death of the sinner, is more revolting, but not more dangerous than that which looks upon his justice as extinguished by his mercy, and supposes that the death of Christ has rendered perdition impossible, even to those who will not believe in him. The terms of this verse are repeatedly applied to Christ in the Book of Revelation (2:27, 12:5, 19:15). 10. The description having reached its height in the preceding verse, there is here a sudden change of manner, a transition to the tone of earnest admonition, still addressed, however, to the characters originally brought upon the scene. And now (O) kings, after all that you have seen and heard, after this demonstration that you cannot escape from the dominion of Messiah, and that if you persist in your rebellion he will certainly destroy you, be wise, act wisely; be warned, be admonished of your danger and your duty, (O) judges of the earth! A specific function of the regal office is here used as an equivalent or parallel to kings in the first clause, just as rulers is employed for the same purpose in ver. 2. The change of tone in this last strophe shews that the previous exhibition of Messiah as invested with destroying power was, as it usually is in Scripture, only introductory to another aspect of the same great object, which becomes more clear and bright to the conclusion of the psalm. At the same time the original dramatic structure is maintained; for the speaker, in this closing stanza, is the Psalmist himself. 11. Serve the Lord, Jehovah, in the way that he requires, by acknowledging his Anointed as your rightful sovereign. Serve the Lord with fear, religious awe, not only on account of his tremendous majesty, but also in view of his vindicatory justice and destroying power. And shout, as a customary recognition of a present sovereign, with trembling, an external sign of fear, employed as an equivalent or parallel to fear itself. The word translated shout may also mean rejoice, as joy is often publicly expressed by acclamation. The sense will then be, and rejoice with trembling, i.e. exercise those mingled feelings which are suited to your present situation, in full view of God’s wrath on one side, and his mercy on the other. This explanation agrees well with the transition, in these verses, from the tone of terrible denunciation to that of friendly admonition and encouragement. 12. Lest the exhortation in the preceding verse should seem to have respect to Jehovah as an absolute sovereign, without reference to any other person, the attention is again called to his King, his Anointed, and his Son, as the sovereign to whom homage must be paid, in order to escape destruction. Kiss the Son, an ancient mode of doing homage or allegiance to a king (1 Sam. 10:1), sometimes applied to the dress, and sometimes to the person, either of the sovereign or the subject himself. Even in modern European courts the kissing of the hand has this significance. In the case before us there may possibly be an allusion to the kiss as a religious act among the heathen (1 Kings 19:18; Hos. 13:2; Job 31:27). Kiss the Son, the Son of God, the Messiah, so called by the Jews in Christ’s time (John 1:50; Matt. 26:63; Mark 14:61; Luke 22:70): do him homage, own him as your sovereign, lest he be angry, and ye lose the way, i.e. the way to happiness and heaven, as in Ps. 1:6, or perish from the way, which is the same thing in another form, or perish by the way, i.e. before you reach your destination. All these ideas are suggested by the Hebrew phrase, which is unusual. The necessity of prompt as well as humble submission is then urged. For his wrath will soon burn, or be kindled. The translation, "when his wrath is kindled but a little," does not yield so good a meaning, and requires two of the original expressions to be taken in a doubtful and unusual sense. The same view of the Messiah as a judge and an avenger, which appeared in ver. 9, is again presented here, but only for a moment, and as a prelude to the closing beatitude or benediction. Blessed (are) all, oh the felicities of all, those trusting him, believing on him, and confiding in him. This delightful contrast of salvation and perdition, at one and the same view, is characteristic of the Scriptures, and should teach us not to look ourselves, and not to turn the eyes of others, towards either of these objects without due regard to the other also. The resemblance in the language of this verse to that of Ps. 1:1 and 6, brings the two into connection, as parts of one harmonious composition, or at least as kindred and contemporaneous products of a single mind, under the influence of one and the same Spirit. Alexander, J. A. (1864). The Psalms Translated and Explained. Edinburgh: Andrew Elliot; James Thin. (Public Domain) Psalm 6 Psalm 6 “O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath. Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled. My soul also is greatly troubled. But you, O Lord—how long? Turn, O Lord, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love. For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise? I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows weak because of all my foes. Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping. The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord accepts my prayer. All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled; they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.” (Psalm 6:1–10, ESV) The psalmist prays for the removal of God’s chastisements, ver. 2 (1), because they have already brought him very low, ver. 3, 4 (2, 3), because the divine glory will be promoted by his rescue, ver. 5 (4), and obscured by his destruction, ver. 6 (5), and because, unless speedily relieved, he can no longer bear up under his sufferings, ver. 7, 8 (6, 7). He is nevertheless sure of the divine compassion, ver. 9 (8). His prayer is heard and will be answered, ver. 10 (9), in the defeat and disappointment of his enemies, by whose malignant opposition his distress was caused, ver. 11 (10). This reference to his enemies constitutes the link of connection between this psalm and the foregoing series, and maintains the contrast, running through that series, between two great classes of mankind, the righteous and the wicked, the subjects of Messiah and the rebels against him, the friends and foes of the theocracy, the friends and foes of David, as an individual, a sovereign, and a type of the Messiah. At the same time, this psalm differs wholly from the others in its tone of querulous but humble grief, which has caused it to be reckoned as the first of the Penitential psalms. This tone is suddenly exchanged, in ver. 9 (8), for one of confident assurance, perfectly in keeping with what goes before, and true to nature. 1. For the Chief Musician, (to be sung) with stringed instruments upon the eighth. This last word corresponds exactly to our octave; but its precise application in the ancient music we have now no means of ascertaining. An instrument of eight strings, which some suppose to be the sense, could hardly be described by the ordinal number eighth. We probably lose little by our incapacity to understand these technical expressions, while, at the same time, their very obscurity may serve to confirm our faith in their antiquity and genuineness, as parts of the original composition. This psalm, like the three which immediately precede it, describes itself as a psalm of (or by) David, belonging to David, as its author. The correctness of this statement there is as little reason to dispute in this as in either of the other cases. 2 (1). O Lord, Jehovah, do not in thine anger rebuke me, and do not in thy heat, or hot displeasure, chasten me. Both the original verbs properly denote the conviction and reproof of an offender in words, but are here, as often elsewhere, applied to providential chastisements, in which God speaks with a reproving voice. This is not a prayer for the mitigation of the punishment, like that in Jer. 10:24, but for its removal, as appears from the account of the answer in ver. 9–11 (8–10). Such a petition, while it indicates a strong faith, at the same time recognises the connection between suffering and sin. In the very act of asking for relief, the psalmist owns that he is justly punished. This may serve to teach us how far the confident tone of the preceding psalms is from betraying a self-righteous spirit, or excluding the consciousness of personal unworthiness and ill-desert. The boldness there displayed is not that of self-reliance, but of faith. 3 (2). Have mercy upon me, or be gracious unto me, O Lord, Jehovah, for drooping, languishing, am I. The original construction is, for I am (one who) droops or withers, like a blighted plant. Like a child complaining to a parent, he describes the greatness of his suffering as a reason for relieving him. Heal me, O Lord, Jehovah, for shaken, agitated with distress and terror, are my bones, here mentioned as the strength and framework of the body. This might seem to indicate corporeal disease as the whole from which he prays to be delivered. But the absence of any such allusion in the latter part of the psalm, and the explicit mention there of enemies as the occasion of his sufferings, shews that the pain of body here described was that arising from distress of mind, and which could only be relieved by the removal of the cause. To regard the bodily distress as a mere figure for internal anguish, would be wholly arbitrary and destructive of all sure interpretation. The physical effect here ascribed to moral causes is entirely natural and confirmed by all experience. 4 (3). The Psalmist himself guards against the error of supposing that his worst distresses were corporeal. And my soul, as well as my body, or more than thy body, which merely sympathizes with it, is greatly agitated, terror-stricken, the same word that was applied to the bones in the preceding verse. The description of his suffering is then interrupted by another apostrophe to God. And thou, O Lord, Jehovah, until when, how long? The sentence is left to be completed by the reader: how long wilt thou leave me thus to suffer? how long before thou wilt appear for my deliverance? This question, in its Latin form, Domine quousque, was Calvin’s favourite ejaculation in his times of suffering, and especially of painful sickness. 5 (4). The expostulatory question is now followed by direct petition. Return, O Lord, Jehovah, deliver my soul, my life, my self, from this impending death. As God seems to be absent when his people suffer, so relief is constantly described as his return to them. (Oh) save me, a still more comprehensive term than that used in the first clause, for the sake of thy mercy, not merely according to it, as a rule or measure, but to vindicate it from reproach, and do it honour, as a worthy end to be desired and accomplished. 6 (5). As a further reason for his rescue, he now urges that without it God will lose the honour, and himself the happiness, of his praises and thanksgivings. For there is not in death, or the state of the dead, thy remembrance, any remembrance of thee. In Sheol, the grave, as a general receptacle, here parallel to death, and, like it, meaning the unseen world or state of the dead, who will acknowledge, or give thanks, to thee? The Hebrew verb denotes that kind of praise called forth by the experience of goodness. The question in the last clause is equivalent to the negative proposition in the first. This verse does not prove that David had no belief or expectation of a future state, nor that the intermediate state is an unconscious one, but only that in this emergency he looks no further than the close of life, as the appointed term of thanksgiving and praise. Whatever might eventually follow, it was certain that his death would put an end to the praise of God, in that form and those circumstances to which he had been accustomed. See below, on Ps. 30:10 (9); 88:11–13 (10–12), 115:17, 18, and compare Isa. 38:18. So far is the argument here urged from being weakened by our clearer knowledge of the future state, that it is greatly strengthened by the substitution of the second or eternal death. 7 (6). I am weary in (or of) my groaning, I have become wearied with it, and unless I am relieved, I shall (still as hitherto) make my bed swim every night, my couch with tears I shall dissolve, or make to flow. The uniform translation of the verbs as presents does not bring out their full meaning, or express the idea, suggested in the Hebrew by the change of tense, that the grief which had already become wearisome must still continue without mitigation, unless God should interpose for his deliverance. Thus understood, the verse is not a mere description, but a disguised prayer. 8 (7). Mine eye has failed, grown dim, a common symptom both of mental and bodily distress, from vexation, not mere grief, but grief mixed with indignation at my enemies. It has grown old, dim like the eye of an old man, a still stronger expression of the same idea, in (the midst of) all my enemies, or in (consequence of) all my enemies, i.e. of their vexatious conduct. Compare Ps. 31:10 (9). In these two verses he resumes the description of his own distress, in order to shew that the argument in ver. 6 (5) was appropriate to his case, as that of one drawing near to death, and therefore likely soon to lose the capacity and opportunity of praising God. 9 (8). Here the key abruptly changes from the tone of sorrowful complaint to that of joyful confidence. No gradual transition could have so successfully conveyed the idea that the prayer of the psalmist has been heard, and will be answered. The effect is like that of a whisper in the sufferer’s ear, while still engrossed with his distresses, to assure him that they are about to terminate. This he announces by a direct and bold address to his persecuting enemies. Depart from me, all ye doers of iniquity, the same phrase that occurs in Ps. 5:6 (5). The sense is not that he will testify his gratitude by abjuring all communion with the wicked, but that his assurance of divine protection relieves him from all fear of his wicked foes. When God arises, then his enemies are scattered. This sense is required by the last clause of ver. 8 (7), and confirmed by a comparison with ver. 11 (10), For the Lord, Jehovah, hath heard the voice of my weeping, or my weeping voice. The infrequency of silent grief is said to be characteristic of the orientals, and the same thing may be observed in Homer’s pictures of heroic manners. 10 (9). Jehovah hath heard my supplication. The assurance of this fact relieves all fear as to the future. Jehovah my prayer will receive. The change of tense is not unmeaning or fortuitous. The combination of the past and future represents the acceptance as complete and final, as already begun, and certain to continue. The particular petition thus accepted is the one expressed or implied in the next verse. 11 (10). Ashamed and confounded, i.e. disappointed and struck with terror, shall be all my enemies. The desire that they may be is not expressed, but involved in the confident anticipation that they will be. In the second verb there is an obvious allusion to its use in ver. 3, 4 (2, 3). As he had been terror-stricken, so shall they be. As they filled him with consternation, so shall God fill them. They shall return, turn back from their assault repulsed; they shall be ashamed, filled with shame at their defeat; and that not hereafter, (in) a moment, instantaneously. Alexander, J. A. (1864). The Psalms Translated and Explained. Edinburgh: Andrew Elliot; James Thin. (Public Domain) Psalm 10 Psalm 10 “Why standest thou afar off, O Lord? Why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble? The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor: Let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined. For the wicked boasteth of his heart’s desire, And blesseth the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth. The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts. His ways are always grievous; Thy judgments are far above out of his sight: As for all his enemies, he puffeth at them. He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved: For I shall never be in adversity. His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud: Under his tongue is mischief and vanity. He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages: In the secret places doth he murder the innocent: His eyes are privily set against the poor. He lieth in wait secretly as a lion in his den: He lieth in wait to catch the poor: He doth catch the poor, when he draweth him into his net. He croucheth, and humbleth himself, That the poor may fall by his strong ones. He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: He hideth his face; he will never see it. Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up thine hand: Forget not the humble. Wherefore doth the wicked contemn God? He hath said in his heart, Thou wilt not require it. Thou hast seen it; for thou beholdest mischief and spite, To requite it with thy hand: The poor committeth himself unto thee; Thou art the helper of the fatherless. Break thou the arm of the wicked and the evil man: Seek out his wickedness till thou find none. The Lord is King for ever and ever: The heathen are perished out of his land. Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: Thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear: To judge the fatherless and the oppressed, That the man of the earth may no more oppress.” (Psalm 10, KJV 1900) The Psalmist complains of God’s neglect, and of the malice of his enemies, ver. 1–11. He prays that both these subjects of complaint may be removed, ver. 12–15. He expresses the most confident assurance that his prayer will be heard and answered, ver. 16–18. The Septuagint and Vulgate unite this with the ninth psalm as a single composition. But each is complete in itself, and the remarkable coincidences even of expression only shew that both were meant to form a pair or double psalm like the first and second, third and fourth, &c. From the same facts it is clear, that this psalm, though anonymous, is, like the ninth, the work of David, and that both were probably composed about the same time. 1. For what (cause), why, O Jehovah, wilt thou stand afar, wilt thou hide at times (when we are) in trouble? The question really propounded is, how this inaction can be reconciled with what was said of God in Ps. 9:10 (9).—To stand afar off, is to act as an indifferent, or, at the most, a curious spectator. Wilt thou hide, i.e. thyself or thine eyes, by refusing to see, as in Lev. 20:4, 1 Sam. 12:3. The futures imply present action and the prospect of continuance hereafter. The question is not merely why he does so, but why he still persists in doing so. The singular phrase, at times in trouble, occurs only here and in Ps. 9:10 (9), a strong proof of the intimate connection of the two psalms, and perhaps of their contemporary composition. This expostulation betrays no defect either of reverence or faith, but, on the contrary, indicates a firm belief that God is able, and must be willing, to deliver his own people. Such demands are never uttered either by skepticism or despair. 2. In the pride of the wicked burns the sufferer; they are caught in devices which they have contrived. This very obscure verse admits of several different constructions. The first verb sometimes means to persecute, literally to burn after, or pursue hotly. Gen. 31:36; 1 Sam. 17:53. In one case it seems to have this meaning even without the preposition after. Lam. 4:19. The sense would then be, in the pride of the wicked he will persecute, &c. But the collocation of the words seems to point out עָנִי as the subject, not the object, of the verb. The sufferer’s burning may denote either anger or anguish, or a mixed feeling of indignant sorrow.—The adjective עָנִי means afflicted, suffering, whether from poverty or pain. Poor is therefore too specific a translation. In the Psalms this word is commonly applied to innocent sufferers, and especially to the people of God, as objects of malignant persecution. It thus suggests the accessory idea, which it does not formally express, of righteousness or piety.—In the last clause there is some doubt as to the subject of the first verb. If referred to the wicked, the sense will be, that they are taken in their own devices. If to the poor, that they are caught in the devices of the wicked. The first is favored by the analogy of Ps. 7:15–17 (14–16), and Ps. 9:16, 17 (15, 16). But the other agrees better with the context, as a description of successful wickedness. 3. For a wicked (man) boasts of (or simply praises) the desire of his soul, and winning (i.e. when he wins), blesses, despises Jehovah. This seems to be a description of the last stage of corruption, in which men openly defend or applaud their own vices, and impiously thank God for their dishonest gains and other iniquitous successes.—The preterite forms, has praised, &c., denote that it always has been so, as a matter of familiar experience. The desire of his soul means his natural selfish inclination, his heart’s lust. And winning, i.e. when he wins or gains his end, with special reference to increase of wealth. Hence the word is sometimes used to signify the covetous or avaricious grasper after wealth by fraud or force. The same participle, joined with a cognate noun, is rendered “greedy of gain” in Prov. 1:19, 15:27, and “given to covetousness” in Jer. 6:3, 8:10. See also Hab. 2:9, where the true sense is given in the margin of the English Bible.—He who gains an evil gain blesses (and) despises Jehovah, i.e. expresses his contempt of him by thanking him, whether in jest or earnest, for his own success. He blesses God, and thereby shews that he despises him. An illustrative parallel is Zech. 11:4, 5. “Thus saith the Lord my God, Feed the flock of the slaughter, whose possessors slay them and hold themselves not guilty, and they that sell them say, Blessed is the Lord, for I am rich.” This parallel, moreover, shews that blesses, in the verse before us, does not mean blesses himself, as some suppose, but blesses God. 4. A wicked (man), according to his pride, will not seek. There is no God (are) all his thoughts. Pride is here expressed by one of its outward indications, loftiness of look, or as some suppose the Hebrew phrase to signify originally, elevation of the nose.—Will not seek, i.e. seek God in prayer (Ps. 34:4), or in the wider sense of worship (Ps. 14:2), or in that of inquiring the divine will (Gen. 25:22), all which religions acts are at variance with the pride of the human heart.—All his thoughts, not merely his opinions, but his plans, his purposes, which is the proper meaning of the Hebrew word. The language of his life is, that there is no God.—Another construction of the first clause is as follows. The wicked, according to his pride (says), He, i.e. God will not require, judicially investigate and punish, as in Ps. 9:13 (12), and in ver. 13 below, where there seems to be a reference to the words before us, as uttered by the wicked man himself.—A third construction thus avoids the necessity of supplying says.—‘As to the wicked in his pride—He will not require, there is no God—are all his thoughts.” This may be transferred into our idiom as follows: All the thoughts of the wicked in his pride are, that God will not require, or rather that there is no God. In favor of the first construction given is the fact that it requires nothing to be supplied like the second, and does not disturb the parallelism of the clauses like the third. Common to all is the imputation of proud self-confidence and practical atheism to the sinner. 5. His ways are firm, or will be firm, in all time, always. A height, or high thing, (are) thy judgments from before him, away from him, out of his sight. (As for) his enemies he will puff at them, as a natural expression of contempt, or he will blow upon them, i.e. blow them away, scatter them, with ease. This describes the prosperity and success of sinners, not only as a fact already familiar, but as something which is likely to continue. Hence the future forms, which indicate continuance hereafter, just as the preterites in ver. 3 indicate actual experience.—The only other sense which can be put upon the first clause is, his ways are twisted, i.e. his actions are perverse. But the Chaldee paraphrase, the cognate dialects, and the analogy of Job 20:21, are in favor of the rendering, his ways are strong, i.e. his fortunes are secure, his life is prosperous, which moreover agrees best with the remainder of the verse, as a description of the sinner’s outward state. Thus understood, the second clause describes him as untouched or unaffected by God’s providential judgments, and the third as easily ridding himself of all his human adversaries. Both together represent him as impregnable on all sides, in appearance equally beyond the reach of God and man. (Compare Luke 18:2, 4.) As this immunity from danger, strictly understood, could exist only in appearance, the whole verse may be regarded as an expression of the sinner’s own opinion rather than his true condition. 6. He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved; to generation and generation, (I am one) who (shall) not (be) in evil, or as the same Hebrew phrase is rendered in the English version of Exod. 5:19, in evil case, i.e. in trouble, in distress. This is a natural expression of the proud security engendered in the natural man by great prosperity. He hath said, implying that the cause has already been in operation long enough to shew its natural effect. In his heart, to himself, in a spirit of self-gratulation and self-confidence. To age and age, throughout all ages or all generations. The strength of this expression shews that the speaker is not a real person, but the ideal type of a whole class. The sinner, who thus says in his heart, is not the sinner of one period or country, but the sinner of all times and places, one who never disappears, or ceases thus to feel and act.—The form of the last clause in Hebrew is peculiar and emphatic. He does not simply say, I shall never be in evil or adversity, but I am he, I am the man, who shall never be in evil, as if the very supposition of such a contingency, however justified by general experience, would be not only groundless but absurd in this one case. (Compare Isaiah 47:8–10.) There could scarcely be a stronger expression of the self-relying spirit of the sinner, as contrasted with the saints’ implicit confidence in God’s will and power, not only to preserve him from falling, but to raise him when he does fall. 7. (Of) cursing his mouth is full, and deceits, and oppression. Under his tongue (are) trouble and iniquity. He now gives a more particular description of the wicked man, beginning with his sins against his neighbor, and among these, with his sins of word or speech. If this be a correct view of the whole verse, the cursing, mentioned in the first clause, is most probably false swearing, or the invocation of God’s name, and imprecation of his wrath upon one’s self, in attestation of a falsehood. This kind of cursing is closely connected with the fraud and violence which follow. The Hebrew word תֹּךְ, to which the older writers gave the sense of fraud, is now commonly explained to mean oppression; so that with the noun preceding, it denotes injustice, injury to others, both by fraud and violence.—Under the tongue may have reference to the poison of serpents, or to the use of the tongue for speaking, as in Ps. 66:17, where the same phrase occurs in the original, though not in the common version.—Toil, labor, trouble, endured by others as the consequence of his deceits and violence.—For the meaning of the last word in the verse, see above, on Ps. 5:6 (5).—Oppression is here reckoned among sins of speech, because the latter may be made the means of violent injustice, by tyrannical command, by unjust judgment, or by instigating others to deprive the victim of his rights. If only fraud had been referred to, this description of the sins committed with the tongue would have been palpably defective. 8. He will sit in the lurking-place of villages; in the secret places he will slay the innocent; his eyes for the sufferer will hide, watch secretly, or lie in wait. From sins of word he now proceeds to those of deed or outward action. The wicked enemy is here represented as a robber. The futures, as in ver. 5, imply that what is now is likely to continue. Sitting implies patient waiting for his prey or victim. The lurking-place, the place where murderers and robbers usually lurk or lie in wait. Where such crimes are habitually practiced, there is commonly some spot especially associated with them, either as the scene of the iniquity itself, or as a place of refuge and resort to those who perpetrate it.—The mention of villages is no proof that the psalm relates to any specific case of lawless violence, but only that the Psalmist gives individuality to his description by traits directly drawn from real life. A slight change in the form of expression would convert it into a poetic simile. ‘As the robber sits in the lurking-place of villages,’ &c. The verb hide has the same sense as in Prov. 1:11, 18.—The word translated sufferer (חַֽלְכָה for חֵֽילְךָ) is peculiar to this psalm, and was not improbably coined for the occasion, as a kind of enigmatical description, in which David seems to have delighted. A Jewish tradition makes it mean thy host, i.e. the church of God; but this, besides being forced in itself, is forbidden by the use of the plural in ver. 10 below. Others derive it from an Arabic root, meaning to be black, dark, gloomy, sad, unhappy. A third hypothesis explains it as a compound of two Hebrew words, one meaning weak or sick, the other sad or sorrowful, and both together representing the object of the enemy’s malice, in the strongest light, as a sufferer both in mind and body. 9. He will lurk in the hiding-place as a lion in his den; he will lurk (or lie in wait) to catch the sufferer; he will catch the sufferer by drawing him into his net, or in drawing him (towards him) with his net. That the preceding verse contains a simile, and not a description of the enemy as an actual robber, is here rendered evident by the addition of two new comparisons, applied to the same object. In the first clause he is compared to a lion, in the second to a hunter. See above, on Ps. 7:16 (15), 9:16 (15), and below, on Ps. 35:7, 57:7 (6). The force of the futures is the same as in the foregoing verse.—His den, his shelter, covert, hiding-place. The Hebrew word is commonly applied to any temporary shed or booth, composed of leaves and branches. He lies in wait to seize the prey, and he succeeds, he accomplishes his purpose. A third possible construction of the last clause is, in his drawing (i.e. when he draws) his net. The whole verse, with the one before it, represents the wicked as employing craft no less than force for the destruction of the righteous. 10. And bruised he will sink; and by (or in, i.e. into the power of) his strong ones fall the sufferers, the victims. These are represented, in the first clause, by a collective singular, and in the second by a plural proper, that of the unusual word used in ver. 8 above. Its peculiar etymology and form might be imitated in an English compound, such as sick-sad, weak-sad, or the like. By his strong ones some would understand the strong parts of the lion, teeth, claws, &c.; others the same parts personified as warriors. But even in the foregoing verse, the figure of a lion is exchanged for that of a hunter; and this again gives place here to that of a military leader or a chief of robbers, thus insensibly returning to the imagery of ver. 8. These numerous and rapid changes, although not in accordance with the rules of artificial rhetoric, add greatly to the life of the description, and are not without their exegetical importance, as evincing that the whole is metaphorical, a varied tropical exhibition of one and the same object, the combined craft and cruelty of wicked men, considered as the enemies of God and of his people. According to this view of the passage, by his strong ones we may understand the followers of the hostile chief, those who help him and execute his orders, or the ideal enemy himself, before considered as an individual, but now resolved into the many individuals, of whom the class which he represents is really composed. 11. He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten, he hath hidden his face, he hath not seen, doth not see, and will not see, forever. The opening words are the same, and have the same sense, as in ver. 6 above. The three parallel clauses which follow all express the same idea, namely, that God takes no note of human offences. This is first expressed by the figure of forgetfulness; then by that of deliberately refusing to see, as in ver. 1 above; then by a literal and direct affirmation that he does not see, either the sufferings of his people or the malice of their enemies; and that this is not a transient or occasional neglect, but one likely to continue forever. 12. Arise, Jehovah! Almighty (God), raise thy hand! Forget not sufferers (or the wretched)! The impious incredulity, expressed in the preceding verse, is now made the ground of an importunate petition. God is besought to do away with the appearance of inaction and indifference. See above, on Ps. 7:7 (6). Raise thy hand, exert thy power. The second name by which God is addressed (אֵל) is one expressive of omnipotence, and may be correctly rendered by our phrase, Almighty God. As the name Jehovah appeals to his covenant relation to his people, as a reason for granting their requests, so this invokes his power as necessary to their deliverance and the vindication of his own honor from the imputation of forgetfulness cast upon him by his enemies. This imputation he is entreated, in the last clause, to wipe off by shewing that he does remember. Forget not is, in this connection, tantamount to saying, shew that thou dost not forget. Here, as in Ps. 9:13 (12), the margin of the Hebrew Bible reads (ענוים) meek or humble, while the text has (עניים) suffering or afflicted. The Kethib, or textual reading, is regarded by the highest critical authorities as the more ancient, and therefore, except in some rare cases, entitled to the preference. 13. On what (ground) has the wicked contemned God, has he said in his heart, Thou wilt not require? The question implies the sin and folly of the conduct described. The past tense suggests the inquiry why it has been suffered to go on so long. Contemned, i.e. treated with contempt. The reference is not to inward feeling merely, but to its external manifestation. The second clause shews how the feeling has been manifested. Said in his heart, is here repeated for the third time in this psalm. See ver. 6, 11, above. The direct address to God in the last clause is peculiarly emphatic. The wicked man not only speaks irreverently of him, but insults him to his face. Thou wilt not require. The Hebrew verb includes the ideas of investigation and exaction. Thou wilt not inquire into my conduct, or require an account of it. See ver. 4 above, and compare Ps. 9:13 (12). The whole verse contains an indirect expostulation or complaint of the divine forbearance towards such high-handed and incorrigible sinners. 14. Thou hast seen (this particular instance of iniquity); for trouble, the suffering occasioned by such sins, and provocation, that afforded by such sins, thou wilt behold, it is thy purpose and thy habit to behold it, to give with thy hand a becoming recompense, or to give into thy hand, i.e. to lay it up there in reserve, as something to be recompensed hereafter. Upon thee the sufferer wilt leave (his burden), will rely. An orphan, here put for the whole class of innocent and helpless sufferers, thou hast been helping; God has ever been a helper of the friendless, and may therefore be expected to do likewise now. The whole verse is an argument drawn from the general course of the divine administration. Hence the preterite and future forms. Thou hast seen in this case, for thou always wilt see in such cases. For the meaning of trouble and provocation, see above, on Ps. 6:8 (7), 7:15 (14). 15. Break thou the arm, destroy the power, of the wicked, and the bad (man), or as to the bad man, thou wilt seek for his wickedness (and) not find it. This may either mean, thou wilt utterly destroy him and his wickedness, so that when sought for it cannot be found (Ps. 37:36), or thou wilt judicially investigate his guilt, and punish it till nothing more is left to punish. The Hebrew verb (דרש) has then the same sense as in ver. 4, 13, above, and there is a direct allusion to the sinner’s boast that God will not inquire into men’s acts or require an account of them. There may be a latent irony or sarcasm, as if he had said, Thou wilt find nothing, as he boasts, but in a very different sense; not because there is nothing worthy of punishment, but because there will be nothing left unpunished. 16. Jehovah (is) king! He is not dethroned, as his enemies imagine; he is still king, and will so remain, perpetuity and eternity, for ever and ever. Lost, perished, are nations, the heathen, i.e. hostile nations, from, out of, his land, the Holy Land, the Land of Israel, the land of which he is the king in a peculiar sense, distinct from that of providential ruler. The Psalmist sees Jehovah still enthroned, not only as the sovereign of the world, but as the sovereign of his people. (See Num. 23:21, Deut. 33:5). The stations or heathen of this verse may be either literal or spiritual gentiles (Jer. 9:25, Ezek. 16:3). The psalm is so framed as to express the feelings of God’s people in various emergencies. The preterite tense in the last clause represents the destruction of God’s enemies as already past, not only on account of its absolute certainty, but because the process of destruction, although not completed, is begun and will infallibly continue. Here, as often elsewhere, earnest prayer is followed by the strongest expression of confidence and hope. 17. The desire of the meek (or humble) thou hast heard, Jehovah! Their desire is already accomplished. And this not merely once for all. Thou wilt settle (or confirm) their heart, i.e. dispel their fears and give them courage, by new assurances of favor and repeated answers to their prayers. Thou wilt incline thine ear, or make it attentive, cause it to listen, to their future no less than their past petitions. The figure of a fixed or settled heart recurs more than once below. See Ps. 51:12 (10), 57:8 (7), 112:7. The essential idea is that of a firm resolution, as opposed to timid doubt and vacillation. 18. To judge, or do justice to, the orphan and the bruised, or oppressed. See above, on Ps. 9:10 (9). This clause seems properly to form a part of the preceding verse; thou wilt incline thine ear to judge, &c. The remainder of the verse is a distinct proposition. He shall not add (or continue) any longer to resist, or defy, i.e. to set God at defiance. The subject of these verbs is placed last for the sake of greater emphasis. Man, frail man, from the earth, springing from it, and belonging to it; see Gen. 3:19. For the full sense of the word translated man, see above, on Ps. 8:5 (4), 9:20 (19), and compare the whole prayer in the latter passage with the one before us. The sense here is, that weak and short-lived man shall not continue to insult and defy Almighty God. It implies a wish or prayer, but is in form a strong expression of the Psalmist’s confident assurance that it will be so, and in connection with the similar expressions of the two preceding verses, forms a worthy and appropriate close of the entire composition. The original of this verse is commonly supposed to exhibit an example of the figure called paronomasia, an intentional resemblance, both in form and sound, between two words of very different meaning. The words supposed to be so related here are those translated to defy (ערץ) and earth (ארץ). This peculiarity of form, if really designed and significant, is one which cannot be completely reproduced in any version. There is reason to suspect, however, that in this, as in many other cases, the resemblance is fortuitous, like that which frequently occurs in a translation, without anything to match it in the original; e.g. in the Vulgate version of Gen. 8:22, æstus and æstas, and in that of Gen. 12:16, oves et boves.  Alexander, J. A. (1864). The Psalms Translated and Explained (pp. 46–52). Edinburgh: Andrew Elliot; James Thin. (Public Domain) Comments are closed.