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(h) This Psalm is supposed to have been written by David, when by the calumnies of Doeg and others he was constrained to quit his own country. (See 1 Sam. xxi. 10. and xxvii. 2.) It calls to mind that God had before heard him when he was in trouble, prays for further deliverance, and laments his banishment from his own land, and the inveteracy of his enemies. This and the next fourteen Psalms are called in the Hebrew "Songs of the ascent or going up;" and
though the reason for so calling them is not known with certainty, it might be one of these: first, because they were sung by the Levites whilst the king was going up to the temple, which we may suppose was an act of great state and solemnity, for amongst the things which astonished the queen of Sheba when she went to see Solomon, was "his ascent by "which he went up to the house of the "Lord, (1 Kings x. 5.);" or, secondly, because they were sung by the people when they were going up to Jerusalem at the three solemn feasts (see note on Ps. cxxii. p. 421.); or, thirdly, because they were sung when the people went up from the Babylonish captivity.
(i) v. 3. "Arrows" and "coals," i. e. vengeance from God."
(k) v. 4." Mesech," "Kedar." Mesech was a son of Japheth, (Gen. x. 2. and 1 Chron. i. 3.) and Kedar a son of Ishmael, (Gen. xxv. 13. and 1 Chron. i. 29.); and these names therefore are probably used generally for the heathen: not importing that he was literally dwelling with any people of the name of Mesech or Kedar, or with any of their descendants, but merely that he was constrained to dwell with some of the heathen, or with persons as barbarous and unprincipled, and as much averse to peace.
(1)" Tents of Kedar." In the prophecy as to Ishmael (Gen. xvi. 12.) which meant to apply to his posterity also, what we translate " he shall dwell "in the presence of all his brethren," signifies more strictly "he shall dwell in "tents ;" and it is remarkable that down to the present day many of his descendants adhere to the practice of dwelling in tents. This Psalm (which, if written by David, must have been written 900 years after the prophecy, and 450 years after Genesis was written,) speaks of the tents of Kedar, as if it was well known that the descendants of Kedar, Ishmael's son, then dwelt in tents; and Isaiah, who wrote 300 years after David's time, when he says, (Isa. xiii. 20.) "neither shall the
2. My help cometh even from the Lord: who hath made heaven and earth.
3. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved and he that keepeth thee will not sleep.
4. Behold, he that keepeth Israel: shall neither slumber nor sleep.
5. The Lord himself is thy keeper: the Lord is thy defence upon thy right hand;
6. So that the sun shall not burn thee by day : neither the moon by night.
7. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: yea, it is even he that shall keep thy soul.
8. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in:
"Arabian pitch tent there," implies that the Arabians, who were descendants of Ishmael, were then in the habit of dwelling in tents and in Solomon's Song i. 5. and Isaiah xlix. 29. are "the tents of Kedar" mentioned. From this, and other stronger instances in which the facts foretold in scripture are fulfilling down to the present time, Bishop Newton illustrates the position," that the prophecies really came "from God." For how could it happen but through him, that their completion should be still in progress?
(m) Upon the transcendency of God's protection. It is supposed to have been written by David, and expresses the high confidence he had in God; and it was thankfully called to remembrance upon the return from the captivity, to remind the people that in the greatest troubles the surest wisdom is to trust in God. Bishop Lowth thinks the first two verses were spoken by David, when going out to war, and that the other six constituted the answer of encouragement from the high of priest. There is evidently a change person at the 3d verse which continues to the end of the Psalm, so that the last six verses are an answer to the person who
uttered the first two.
(n) v. 1. "The hills," i. e. 4. Augustine, 460.
WAS glad when they said unto "We will go into the "house of the Lord;
2. "Our feet shall stand in 'thy gates, O Jerusalem."
3. Jerusalem is built as a city : that is at unity (p) in itself.
4. For thither the tribes go up, even the tribes of the Lord : to testify unto Israel, to give
thanks unto the Name of the Lord.
5. For there is the seat of judgement even the seat of the house of David.
6. O pray for the peace of Jerusalem they shall prosper that love thee.
7. Peace be within thy walls : and plenteousness within thy palaces.
8. For my brethren and companion's sakes: I will wish thee prosperity.
9. Yea, because of the house of the Lord our God: I will seek to do thee good.
Psalm cxxiii. (q) UNTO thee lift I up mine eyes:
(o) A hymn, supposed to have been written by David, and to have been used by the people upon their going up to the public worship at Jerusalem. By the Mosaic law (Exod. xxiii. 17.- Deut. xvi. 16.) three times in a year were all the males to appear before the Lord, in the place which he should choose, (which was afterwards Jerusalem,) viz. at the Feast of the Passover or unleavened bread, at the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost, and at the Feast of Tabernacles. The Psalm might also be used again upon the return from the Babylonish captivity.
(p) v. 3. "At unity," i. e. "free from dissensions;" where the people are unanimous, of one mind.
O thou that dwellest in the heavens.
2. Behold, even as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress even so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until he have mercy upon us.
3. Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us for we are utterly despised.
the scornful reproof of the 4. Our soul is filled (r) with wealthy and with the despitefulness of the proud.
Psalm cxxiv. (s)
Ir the Lord himself had not been on our side, now may Israel say: if the Lord himself had not been on our side, when men rose up against us;
2. They had swallowed us up quick when they were so wrathfully displeased at us.
3. Yea, the waters had drowned us and the stream had gone over (t) our soul.
4. The deep waters of the proud had gone even over our soul.
5. But praised be the Lord:
(9) An anxious appeal to God in time of great distress. It might be written, either when Sennacherib, king of Assyria, threatened Jerusalem (see 2 Kings xviii. 17. and Isaiah xxxvi. 2.), or during the Babylonish captivity.
(r) v. 4. " Filled," i. e. " ready to over"flow, not in a condition to bear more."
(s) A thanksgiving for some signal deliverance, ascribing it to God. Dr. Hammond says, it was appointed to be sung by the Levites after the return from the Babylonish captivity. It is one of the Psalms for the Thanksgiving Days of 29th May, and 5th November.
(t) v. 3, 4. "Gone over our soul," i put an end to our lives."
Psalm cxxvi. (z)
WHEN the Lord turned the captivity of Sion then were we like unto them that dream. (a) 2. Then was our mouth filled with laughter and our tongue with joy.
3. Then said they among the heathen: The Lord hath done "great things for them.'
4. Yea, the Lord hath done
great things for us already: whereof we rejoice.
5. Turn (6) our captivity, O.
Lord as the rivers in the south. 6. They that sow in tears: shall reap in joy.
7. He that now goeth on his way weeping, and beareth (c) forth good seed: shall doubtless come again with joy, and bring his sheaves (d) with him.
Psalm cxxvii. (a)
EXCEPT the Lord build the house (g) their labour is but lost that build it.
(z) A spirited song upon the return from the Babylonish captivity. One of the Psalms for 29th May.
(a) v. 1. "Dream," our joy so great, we could hardly believe our deliverance real. (b) v. 5." Turn, &c." The meaning probably is, complete as effectual a change in us, from misery to joy, as the rivers effect in the south, the hot and dry countries, by turning them from barrenness to plenty.
(c) v. 7. " Beareth, &c." i. e. (probably) "makes a proper use of his adversity, by "turning unto God."
(d) "Bring his sheaves, &c." bly a proverbial expression to denote great joy, as in Isaiah ix. 3. " they joy before "thee according to the joy in harvest."
(e) Upon the vanity and inefficacy of human attempts without God's assistance. One of the Psalms appointed to be read at the Churching of Women.
(g) v. 1. "Build the house." An ex
3. It is but lost labour that ye take rest, and eat the bread of haste to rise up early, and so late his beloved sleep. carefulness for (h) so he giveth
4. Lo, children and the fruit of the womb are an heritage and gift that cometh of the Lord.
5. Like as the arrows in the even so (i) hand of the giant : are the young children.
his quiver full of them they 6. Happy is the man that hath shall not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate.
(h) v. 3. For "so," or "but," Parkh. Hebr. Dict. 322, 323. The meaning probably is this human exertion, without God's assistance, is of small avail: they whom God favours can acquire with ease, without giving up any of their ordinary comforts, more than others can with the greatest sacrifices and labour.
(i) v. 5. "Even so, &c." " adding in the "same way to the Father's powers," or "taking what direction he thinks fit to "give them; instruments in his hand to "execute his purposes or receive his in: "pulse, as arrows in a giant's hand."
(k) Upon the blessings of those who fear God; supposed to have been sung at the marriages of the Israelites.
(1) v. 2. "Thou," i. e. "whoever thou "art that fearest God, &c."