Page images

let them be overtaken in their haughtiness,
for the imprecations and falsehood which they utter.
So completely defeat them,

14 that not one of them may remain; that it may be known to the limits of the land, that JEHOVAH is chief ruler in Israel.

Although every evening they return, .. and howl like dogs around the city; let them stroll in quest of victuals, and murmur, if they be not satisfied : But I will sing of thy power ; will, at dawn, celebrate thy bounty : because to me thou hast been a fortress, a refuge in the day of my distress. My strength! to thee I will psalmodize! for God is my strong hold to me a God most gracious! .


Ver. 5. Void of iniquity I have seered my course. The common rendering is: “ they run and prepare themselves without my fault.” But I am persuaded that the true reading was followed by Sep. and Arab. which I have adopted in my version.—Ver. 7 and 8. These two verses make me think that the psalm was composed by Hezekiah, or for him, when Senaherib's army were besieging Jerusalem, and insulting the besieged with the most supercilious contempt. In ver. 8. the last comma has been generally put into the mouth of the enemy; and rendered : “ For who, say they, doth hear?” I cannot deem this a just version. I put the words in the mouth of the Psalmist, and think they allude to 2 Kings, 18. 36. when, on Rablhakeh's haranguing the Jewish sentinels on the walls, the people were filent, and answered not a word: “ For such was the king's order, saying: Answer not,”-Ver. 10. to thee I will psalmodize. In the present text there is a word which our last English translators render: “I will wait on thee:” and so read Sep. and Chald. But as in the parallel place, ver. 18. all the copies have psalmodize; and as Syr. and Arab. read so here, I have, with most modern interpreters, adopted that reading: not, however, without some hesitation, as the other is no way improbable. For the test; the word which I render my strength is in the present Heb. bis strength followed by our last translators with a because in Italics : Because of his strength will I wait upon thee.” But as this makes a most awkward sense, and as ten Mss. at least, with Sep. Syr. Arab. and even Chald. read my strength, I have had no scruple in preferring it. --Ver. 12. Slay them not : i. e. by the sword of the besieged ; left these ascribe to themselves the defeat of the enemy; but discom fit and disperse them, by thine own power, and after a singular manner. How well all this tallies with the defeat of Senaherib's army, the reader will easily perceive. Comp. 2 Kings, 19. 32–35.


Wboever undertakes to reconcile the title of this psalm to any part of David's bistory, will find it an bard attempt. It is indeed, by some, supposed to bave been written by David, not during bis war with the Syrians, but in the beginning of bis reign. But this bypothesis to me appears at least equally unfounded. David was successful in all bis wars; and never could say what is bere put in bis mouth.But wben, tben, was the psalm most probably composed ? Plainly, after some great disaster bad befallen the bosts of Judah: and I can find no period so proper, as at the commencement of tbe reign of Hezekiab. See bis speech to the priests and Levites, 2 Chron. 29. 5.


O GOD! thou hast rejected us;
thou hast broken us in pieces;


thou art angry-be again reconciled to us.
Thou hast shaken the land, and rent it:
heal its breaches; for still it shaketh.
Thou hast made thy people experience hardship;
a troubled wine thou hast made us drink :
thy worshippers thou hast impressed with terror,
so as to fly from the face of the bow !
That thy beloved may yet be rescued ;
hear, and by thy right hand save us.

God answereth, in his sanctuary-joyful am I!
I thall, yet, divide Sichem into lots,
and measure out the valley of Suchoth:
mine shall be Gilead, and mine Manasseh :
Ephraim shall be the helmet of mine head:
Judah shall be my legislator.
Moab shall be my washing-pot !
at Edom I shall throw my Nipper !
over the Philistines I shall triumph.

Who will conduct me to that strong city? who will conduct me to Edom? Wilt thou, O God, still reject us ? and not go out with our hosts? Grant thine aid, after our distress: for vain is the assistance of man. Through God we shall act valiantly: for he will tread down our enemies,

NOTES. Ver. 6. Thy worshippers tbou baft impressed with terror. This is commonly rendered : “ Thou hast given a banner to thy worshippers (or those who fear thee) that it may be displayed because of the truth :'S a sentence to me unintelligible. The version which I give arises naturally out of the text, without any alteration, save in some vowel points. There seems to be here an allusion to the shameful discom. fiture of a numerous host of Judahites by a small body of Syrians in the reign of Joash. See 2 Chron. 24. 24.–Ver. 8 God answereth in bis fan&tuary. This is a beautiful transition. The psalmist, whom I suppose to be Hezekiah, is already certain that his prayer has been heard ; and, instead of continuing his plaintive expostulations, breaks forth into joyful exultation, in the hope that he shall not only be : rescued from his present enemies, but shall also recover the antient territories, that had been wrested from the house of David, both within and without the limits of Israel. Hence he mentions first, Sichem, Suchoth, Gilead, Manasseh, and Ephraim; which last he characterises as a bead-helmet, both on account of its being a strong warlike tribe, and lying between him and his most powerful enemies, the Syrians. It is remarkable that in the reign of Hezekiah the tribes of Manafleh and Ephraim seem to have, partly at

least, been reconciled to the house of David; as “ many of the · people of Ephraim, Manafleh, Ifiachar, and Zebulon,” came to

Jerusalem to keep the Phasah, or Passover, so solemnly renewed by Hezekiah. Comp. 2 Chron. 30. 1—20. and 31. 1. - Ver. 10. Moab pall be my washing-pot, &c. He now comes to those nations, who had been formerly tributary to the kings of Judah, but which in the reign of Joram had thrown of the yoke, and often warred successfully against the Judahites in the weak reigns of his successors before Hezekiah. See 2 Chron. 22. 8. 16. and 24. 23. and 27. 16. The psalmist trusts, that they shall all again be subdued, and made subfervient to Judah. I have dwelt the longer on this subject, as I think it brings the composition home to Hezekiah, or to some bard who writes in his name; and that it is more suitable to this than any other period of Jewish history.

PSALM LXI.—al. LX. This psa?m seems perfe&tly to answer its tile. It was proba. bly composed while David was at Mabanaim. Comp. Pl. 42:

[ocr errors]



LISTEN, O GOD! to mine invocation : be attentive to my request.

From the extremity of the land I thee invoke, while mine heart is overwhelmed with grief,

from mine enemy's being exalted above me. { Ah! direct me—for thou art my hope; a tower of strength, from the enemy. I shall yet dwell long at thy tabernacle, and repose under the covert of thy wings. For thou, O God, wilt hear my vows, and give me, for an inheritance, the people who revere thy name. Days on days, to the king, wilt thou accumulate; his years shall extend from generation to generation ; long fhall he remain in the presence of God: thy veracity and bounty shall be his guard: fo will I ever pfalmodize to thy name; and perform my vows from day to day.


There is no difficulty in this elegant pfalm, fave in ver. 3. which is badlya, divided, and badly rendered. Our common version runs thus: “F om the end of the earth I will cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed : lead me to the rock, that is higher than 1:” the fenfe of which I cannot so much as guess. By the disjunction of a small letter from one word, and adding it to the preceding one, and by a different division of the verse, I believe I have given the genuine meaning.–Ver. 6. This verse has also been generally misunderstood ; and rendered by our English translators: “ Thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name." It was not the heritage of God's people that David wished for, but themselves, as his subjects. See C. R.

« PreviousContinue »