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EXCEPT the LORD build the house,
they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.
2 It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.
3 Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
4 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
5 Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed; but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate. (M)
A Song of degrees.
BLESSED is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his
2 For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.
3 Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.
4 Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD.
5 The LORD shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life.
6 Yea, thou shalt see thy children's children, and peace upon Israel. (N)
(M) The importance of God's blessing on all our affairs.-Judging from the title, we should consider this psalm as probably Composed by Solomon, at the time of building his own house, or the temple. The chief doctrine meant to be inculcated is, that all our labours are iu vain, either to build, or to guard our habitations, without the divine aid and concurrence. Solomon expresses the same sentiment in his Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. (Prov. iii. 5, 6; Eccles, ix. 11.)
The second doctrine of the psalm is, that children are an heritage of (or from) the Lord, and bestowed as a reward on those that serve him. Among the Jews, instead of being a burden, (as many among us consider them,) they were arrows in the hand of a mighty man," that is, as weapons of defence; so that their father, when himself aged and infirm, need not be afraid to speak with his enemies in the gate: since, if he were accused before the elders, they were ready to plead his cause: or, if war should be at his
(N) The blessings of a virtuous marriage." Marriage (says Bishop Horne,) was ordained by God, to complete the felicity of man in a state of innocency; and the benediction of heaven will ever descend upon it, when undertaken in the fear of the Lord. The vine, a lowly plant, raised with tender care, becoming, by its luxuriaucy, its beauty, its fragrance, and its clusters, the ornament and glory of the house to which it is joined, and by which it is supported, forms the finest imaginable emblem of a fair, virtuous, and faithful wife." The children round the family table are no less beautifully represented by a plantation of young olives, "ever fair and green." And both images, taken together, compose the most engaging picture of a happy family ever drawn by the hand of a poet. They form a most pleasing and
PSALM CXXVII. Title-For Solomon. Margin, "ofi.e. by Solomon.
Ver. 1. That build it -Heb. "That are builders of it."
Ver. 2. SoAinsworth, "surely;" Hammond, "since"-he giveth his beloved sleep-An allusion to Solomon's name, Jedidiah. 2 Sam. xii. 25.
Vers. That hath kis quiver full-Heb. “That hath filled his quiser with them." -Speak with-Marg. "Subdue," or "destroy his enemies." Mr. Merrick quotes a Chinese remark: "When a son is
born in a family, it is customary to hang up a bow and arrow before the house, as a sign that the family has acquired a defender.
PSALM CXXVIII. Ver. 3. Thy children like olive plants, &c.-Or, Thy children round thy table like olive plants; i. e. ever fresh and flourishing; Har
er, Boothroyd. Ainsworth thinks the allusion to the olive, implies legitimacy, as the olive admits no foreign graft.
MANY a time have they afflicted me from my youth, may Israel
2 Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth: yet they have not prevailed against me.
3 The plowers plowed upon my back they made long their furrows. 4 The LORD is righteous: he hath cut asunder the cords of the wicked.
5 Let them all be confounded and turned back that hate Zion.
6 Let them be as the grass upon the housetops, which withereth afore it groweth up:
7 Wherewith the mower filleth not his hand; nor he that bindeth sheaves his bosom.
8 Neither do they which go by say,
[from affliction. N
The blessing of the LORD be upon you we bless you in the name of the LORD. (0)
A Song of degrees.
UT of the depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD.
2 Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.
3 If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?
4 But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.
5 I wait for the LORD; my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.
6 My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.
7 Let Israel hope in the LORD: for
suitable part of the marriage service of the Church of England, though, it is to be feared, but too little attended to by many thoughtless young persons who enter into its sacred engagements without consider. ation.
The blessings here promised are, indeed, of a temporal nature; but pious Jews, as well as pious Christians, were used to look through these images to higher objects, of which we have an example in the Chaldee paraphrase of this expression, "It shall be well with thee," which adds "in the world to come."
(0) A retrospective view of persecution., -This is evidently the language of the Jewish church in a state of captivity, or rather just emerging from it; having been subject, not only to privations and to poverty, but to the inflictions of the scourge and of the dungeon. Of these she here takes a retrospective view, alluding to the various sufferings of the nation, from the days of Pharaoh to the Babylonish captivity, and the third verse in particular
"The plowers plowed upon my back," &c. has been often applied, (and not improperly,) to the scourging that our Saviour himself endured from his apostate countrymen. The psalm itself, we have remarked, seems to have been written in the dawn of Judah's deliverance from Babylon. "The Lord is righteous," saith the prophet, in the name of his brethren; "He hath cut asunder the cords of the wicked," with which they had bound and scourged their captives.
The following part of the psalm, though in an imprecatory form, may rather be considered (as Bishop Horne renders it,) as predictive of their speedy deliverance, and the righteous retribution of heaven upon their enemies. They are not only compared to grass, as in other places; but to grass on the house tops, where it could have no depth of soil, and where it withered before it could attain sufficient growth to fill the mower's hand, or to attract the admiration of the passers by, who were accustomed to bless the productions of the earth, and those who cultivated them. (Ruth ii. 4.)
PSALM CXXIX. Ver. 2. Many a time- Marg. "Much." So Bp. Lowth.
Ver. 2. Not prevailed-That is, so as to extirpate the Jewish nation, as appears to have been their object.
Ver. 6. As grass upon the house top.-This was not unusual in Judea, and it is probable that they
there also grew some kinds of grain. See Orient. Cust. No. 1014.
PSALM CXXX. Ver. 6. More than they that watch, &c.-Ainsworth," More than the watchmen for the morning-more than the watchmen for the morning." Hammond, My soul hasteneth to the Lord, from the time of the morning watches."
with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption. 8 And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities. (P)
A Song of degrees of David. LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.
2 Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child.
3 Let Israel hope in the LORD from benceforth and for ever. (Q)
PSALM CXXXII. A Song of degrees. LORD, remember David, and all
2 How he sware unto the LORD,
[the divine favour.
and vowed unto the mighty God of Jacob;
3 Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed;
4 I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids,
5 Until I find out a place for the LORD, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob.
6 Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah: we found it in the fields of the wood. 7 We will go into his tabernacles: we will worship at his footstool.
8 Arise, O LORD, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength.
9 Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy.
10 For thy servant David's sake turn not away the face of thine anointed.
11 The LORD hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it;
(1) A penitent confession with prayer for pardon.-This very excellent penitential psalm was also perhaps written during the captivity; though some, as Bishop Patrick and others, ascribe it to the patriarch David. The writer had evidently a deep sense of his own guilt, of the necessity of pardon, and of the way in which it was to be obtained. "All true fear of God must be founded on his forgiving mercy; but for the hope of this we might, indeed we must, dread him; but could not filially and reverentially fear him."
The diligence of the priests or Levites, who, in the purlieus of the temple, watched for the rising day, that they might offer up their early sacritices, is here used to represent the diligence and anxiety of a convinced sinner in imploring mercy.
"So waits my soul to see thy grace,
(Q) A profession of humility, and subjection to Jehovah.-This psalm is ascribed to David, and may correctly describe his feelings and disposition, which, under the influences of divine grace, were controlled and subdued, as a child that is completely weaned from the breast. It is supposed to have been composed in answer to the charges brought against him, of attempting to supplant Saul, and wrest the kingdom from him. The psalm is applied to Christ by some divines, on his being charged, with equal falsehood, with being an enemy to Cæsar. (John xix. 12.) And it is true, that all the virtues which Jews or Christians have partially possessed, resided, in their maturity and full perfection, in our divine Lord.
PSALM CXXXI. Ver. 1. Neither do I exercise (Heb. "walk") in great matters .... too high-Heb," wonderful."
Ver. 2. Myself-Heb. "My soul."
PSALM CXXXII. Ver. 3. Surely I will not come -Heb." If I enter," being the usual form of an oath, or vow, that he would not.Find out--That is, discover a proper situation.-An habitationHeh."Habitations."
Ver. 6. Lo, we heard of it (that is, of the ark) at Ephratah-The city of Shiloh, in the country of Ephraim, where the ark and tabernacle long con
tinued, Judges xviii. 31.-xxi. 19; 1 Sam. i.3. therefore an Ephraimite is called an Ephrathite, Judges xii. 5. See Ainsworth.
Ibid. In the fields of the wood-That is, in the city of Kirjathi-jearim, which significs, the city of the woods, where the ark was 20 years, after it came home from the Philistines. 1 Sam. vi. 21.-vii. 1, 2. See Ainsworth.
Ver. 7. At his footstool-Namely, before the ark. Ver. 8. Arise, Ŏ Lord.-Num. x.35; 2 Chron. vi. 41. Ver. 10. Turn not away the face of thine anointed-That is, "Deny not my request." See Note on 1 Kings ii. 16.
Ver.11. The Lord hath sworn.-See 2 Sam. vii. 12;
vision I will satisfy her poor with bread.
16 I will also clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall shout aloud for joy.
17 There will I make the horn of David to bud: I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed.
18 His enemies will I clothe with shame but upon himself shall his crown flourish. (R)
(R) David's anxiety to provide for the ark, and its removal.-There is some difference among commentators, as to the author of this psalm, and the occasion of its being written. If composed by David, it was probably on the second removal of the ark, from the house of Obed-edom, (1 Chron. xv. 4, &c.) and so Lightfoot places it if by Solomon, it must have been about the time of removing the ark into the temple, which he had built for it, (2 Chron. v. 2, &c.) on which occasion the 135th and 136th psalms are also supposed to have been written. Bishop Horne, who inclines to the former hypothesis, so clearly expresses and so beautifully improves it, that we cannot persuade ourselves to omit the following quotation :
"In all circumstances and situations, (says the Bishop) David was solicitous for the tabernacle and service of God. Of the oath and vow here mentioned, we have, indeed, no account in the sacred history; but we read (2 Sam. vii. 2.) of the uneasiness which he expressed to Nathan the prophet, at the thought of his dwelling in a palace of cedar, while the ark of God dwelt only within the curtains of a tent. Nay, we find (by 1 Chron. xvi. 43.) that he did not bless, and consequently did not inhabit his own house, until he had brought the ark to Zion, where the temple was afterwards erected. He could take neither pleasure nor rest, until a place was prepared for the residence of Jehovah, in the midst of his people; and from thenceforth he gave himself, with unwearied diligence, to lay in a plentiful store of the most costly materials, silver, gold, and precious stones, which were employed by his son and successor, Solomon, in constructing the magnificent and mystic edifice. Thus, in the. covenant of grace, did the Son of God en
NOTES-Psalm 1 Kings viii. 25; 2 Chron. vi. 16; Luke i. 69; Acts ii. 30.
Ver. 15. Abundantly bless-Heb. "Blessing I will bless."
Ver. 17. There (i. e. in Zion, or Jerusalem) will I make the horn of David to bud -That is, to spring forth. See Ezek. xxix. 21. A lump for mine
gage not to take possession of his heavenly palace, nor to enter into his eternal rest, until he had prepared upon the earth a place for the residence of the Lord; a building framed of materials more precious than gold and silver, more bright and beautiful than rubies, emeralds, and diamonds. All this was planned and executed by one and the same person, who first suffered in meekness and patience, like David, then reigned in glory and peace, like Solomon. The believer should spare no pains, no time, no thought, to find out and prepare in his heart au habitation for the God of Jacob, since our Lord hath gra ciously vouchsafed to make this general promise to us all, If a man love me, my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.'" John xiv. 23.
Several reasons, however, incline us to the opinion of those who consider Solomon as the author. Not only are several expressions in this psalm quoted, or alluded to in his dedication prayer, which, to be sure, a son might copy from his father; but the writer speaks of David in the third person, and pleads before God the labours and afflictions which he (David) had suffered on account of his attachment to the ark of the God of Israel; the oath and covenant which God bad made with him, and the promises to be fulfilled in himself, (Solomon) as the budding of David's horn, and as a lamp to preserve his memory; but finally to be accomplished, to their utmost extent, in the Messiah himself, to whom the kingdom must be eventually surrendered, and in whom the promises must receive their ultimate accomplishment.
"The saints, unable to contain
Their inward joys, shall shout and sing:
CXXXII. Con. anointed-A successor, to perpetuate his memory. See Kings XV 4. Kimchi, and other Rabbins admit this verse to refer to the Messiah.
Ver. 18. Crown flourish.-This seems to allude to the materials of which crowns were perhaps origin. ally made, as certain species of evergreens, the bay laurel, &c. Pirie, vol. iii. p. 124,
BEHOLD, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
2 It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;
3 As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore. (S)
A Song of degrees. BEHOLD, bless ye the LORD, all ye servants of the LORD, which
by night stand in the house of the LORD.
2 Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the LORD.
3 The LORD that made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion. (T)
(S) The blessedness of unity and brotherly affection. This very beautiful, though very short psalm, is ascribed to David, and was probably written on the death of Ishhasheth, when Abner persuaded the other tribes to unite with Judah and Benjamin, under David's government. (2 Sam. v. 1, &c. The unity of brethren is illustrated by two fine poetic images. The first is borrowed from the anointing of the high priest with the precious consecrated ointment, which spread, not its oily substance, but the rich fragrancy of its perfume, en the collar of his robes. So Lowth quotes, from the elegant version of Buchanan : "Sweet as the odorous balsam pour'd On Aaron's cred head;
Which o'er his beard, and down his breast
The other image is from the dew, which gently distils upon the mountains. Dr. Pococke, however, who travelled the country, gives a more literal translation. Hermon he supposes the highest mountain in Judea, and that the clouds upon its summit, carried by the North winds, let fall their dews upon Zion, which lies southward.
Dr. Delany (in his life of David) supposes these images to represent a spirit of unity between the governor and people, the head and body of the nation; and if we admit the notion of Dr. Pococke, the
dews may, in the same way, represent the benefit conveyed by the highest orders to all around them. But the images may be more spiritually explained. Christ, who is God's anointed, bestows the anointing of the Spirit on all his people. (1 Johu ii. 27.) He also is " as the dew unto Israel," refreshing and comforting his people by divine grace. (Hosea xiv. 5.)
In the close of this psalm, we have a striking proof that the more pious Hebrews did not confine their views to the present life, but carried forward their hopes and views beyond the grave, even to "life evermore."
(T) An Evening Hymn.-Bishop Patrick thinks this short psalm (which is the last of the Songs of Degrees) was usually sung by the priests, on shutting up the gates of the temple in the evening, as the next psalm, on opening them in the morning. We read (1 Chron. ix. 33.) that some or other of the Levitical singers were constantly employed, "day and night," in singing the praises of Jehovah; so we find, in the celestial world above, the redeemed " are before the throne of God, aud serve him day and night in his temple:" (Rev. vii. 15.) but this must be taken figuratively, for a continued round of worship; for, strictly speaking, there is "no night there." (Rev. xxii. 5.)
PSALM CXXXIII. Ver. 2. The skirts - Heb. The mouth;" i. . the edge, or rather, the battonhole of the collar. (Exod. xxxix. 23.) which was under the beard. See Ainsworth.
Ver.3. As the dew of Hermon.... and of Zion. Bp. Louth supplies the ellipsis as in our translation and in Amsworth.
PSALM CXXXIV. Ver. 1. Which by night stand -Namely, the priests, who stood to minister in the sanctuary; or, as some think, to keep watch. Exod. viii. 35.
PSALM CXXXV. In verses 1, 3, 4, &e the sacred names Jah and Jehovah are used interchangeably, and both rendered Loup, in capitals.