Page images


at me they stare and gaze :
they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.

But be not thou, JEHOVAH! far from me:
haften thou, my strength to mine aid :
rescue my life from the sword,
my dear life from the power of the dog :
save me from the mouth of the lion,
and from the buffalo's horns defend me.

Thy name I will celebrate among my brethren; 23 mid the assembly I will praise thee thus : Ye worshippers of Jehovah, to him give praise; 24 « all ye feed of Jacob, to him give glory; “ fince he hath not despised nor disdained

25 « the affliction of the miserable : « from whom he hath not hid his countenance; ( but hath listened to his invocation.”

In the great assembly my praise shall be of thee: 26 in the presence of thy worshippers I will pay my vows: the needy shall eat, and be satisfied : they who seek Jehovah, shall praise him, as, henceforth, their hearts shall be refreshed. The inhabitants of the land, to its utmost limits, shall repent, and return to JEHOVAH, and all the tribes of the people shall worship him. For Jehovah's is the kingdom ;

.: 29 and of the people he is the ruler. All the rich of the land shall eat, and worship; and those who are starving shall adore and be revived. Posterity shall serve him; and be reckoned his: through generations, they shall come, and declare his justice; to people yet unborn, what he hath done!

NOTES. There are many difficulties in this psalm, which it is not easy to surmount. Some small corruptions have crept into the text; but not so many as some text-menders imagine. I have touched them with a tender hand; and never but when I found it absolutely necessary. The following notes will, I trust, make it intelligible to all capacities. -Ver. 10. Tbou drewest me from the womb, &c. This metaphorical language only signifies that David from his first infancy depended on God as on a father. There may be, however, some allusion to the mode of delivering women among the Hebrews. The father, probably, re. ceived the new-born infant on his knees. See Job 3. 12.–Ver. 13. A multitude of bulls. The bull is known to be a fierce animal; and those of Balhan, from its luxuriant pastures, were uncommonly so. The author, in this and the following verses, accumulates, under various metaphors, every sort of distress and danger that can befall a miserable man.-Ver. 17. I have added the words a multitude of, on the authority of almost all the antient versions ; even of the Chaldee paraphrase.- Ib. lacerating mine bands and my feet. There is here a word in the original that has been a strange subject of controversy, which I shall examine in another place. I will here only say, that I deem the present reading genuine, and that Christian commentators have vexed it without a cause. The metaphor refers to the dogs in the first comma, for which reason I have, with Green, transposed the second, to make the simile more striking. They who have seen a poor deer torn in pieces by cruel hounds, will be able to form a proper idea of the metaphor.- Ver. 18. all my bones they number. The prefent text has : all my bones I number, or may number : but I am persuaded that the original reading was they number ; which is that of all the antients, save Chald. I have elsewhere accounted for the alteration.-Ver. 22. from the buffalo's horns. This wild animal is more fierce and swifter than the common bull. Others render unicorn, that is, the rhinoceros.-Ver. 28. I was here under the nécessity of paraphrasing a little; but I am persuaded I have given the meaning. This and the following verses incline me to believe that the pfalm was composed during the rebellion of Abshalom, when all the other tribes and a great part of Judah had revolted; but who, when David returned victorious, relented and returned to their duty.-Ver. 30. all che rich, &c. lit. all the fat ones ; who, when they come to worship, shall bring eucharistic sacrifices, out of which they shall give portions to the poor ; so that those who would otherwise be in a starving condition would meet with refreshment, when they came to adore at the fanctuary : for such I take to be the meaning of the last comma of this verse, which cannot be literally rendered with any degree of perspi. cuity. It was usual for the great, and particularly for the prince, to distribute meat and drink among the people, and for that purpose to. sacrifice a vast number of victims. See 2 Sam. 6. 19, and i K. 8. 5. -Ver. 31 and 32. I am not sure that I have rightly rendered these two verses: but I could make no other sense out of them, without altering my text; which I am always unwilling to do without a cogent reason.


PSALM XXIII.—al. XXII. This psalm is a bappy specimen of Hebrew poetry, and bas been elegantly translated into verse, by Addison and others. It must bave been composed after all David's first troubles were over; most probably in the beginning of bis reign,

A PSALM OF DAVID. JEHOVAH my shepherd I shall never want; in verdant pastures he maketh me repose. By gentle streams he leadeth me : he recreateth my soul. In direct paths he guideth me, for his own name's sake. But were I to walk in the dark vale of death; I should dread no harm, while thou art with me: thy staff and thy crook would comfort me. A table thou hast spread before me: in the face of my foes thuu anointest mine head; with liquor my cup overfloweth.

Ah! may thy bounteous mercy follow me during all the period of my life; may I dwell at the house of JEHOVAH, for a length of days to come.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

NOTES. Ver. 1. Jeboval my Shepherd. This metaphor naturally occurred to David from his first pastoral condition, and is most happily applied." - Ver. 4. in the dark vale of death, i, e. a very dark and dismal vale. - Ver. 5. tbou anointesi mine bead. This has no allusion to the regal unction ; but to the eastern custom of anointing the heads of great and noble guests with oil and other fragrant unguents; which was also customary among the Greeks and Romans. Christ indirectly reproaches the Pharisee who had invited him to dine with him, for the omission of this part of hospitality. See Luke 6. 46.




PSALM XXIV._al, XXIII. This psalm is thought to bave been composed, wben the ark was brought from the house of Obed-edom, to the place wbicb David bad prepared for it on Mount Zion.

A PSALM OF DAVID. THE earth is Jehovah's, with all its contents; the globe with all its inhabitants : for he it was, who founded it on the seas, and upon the rivers established it.

Who shall ascend the mountain of JEHOVAH?
and who shall stand in his holy place ?
The clean of hands, and the pure of heart;
who setteth not his mind on falsehood;

nor sweareth with intent to deceive.
5 He shall receive a blessing from JEHOVAH;

and be justified by the God of his falvation.
Such is the race of those who seek him;

who desire thy presence, to God of Jacob!"
7 Yegates ! lift up your heads :

ye lofty doors! be lifted up:
that the king of glory may come in.

“Who is this king of glory?"
JEHOVAH, strong and mighty;


Jehovah, powerful in battle.
Ye gates ! lift up your heads;
ye lofty doors ! be lifted up:
that the king of glory may come in...

“Who is this king of glory?”. Jehovah, the God of hosts — He is this king of glory.


Ver. 7. Ye lofty doors. The common version is : " ye everlasting doors," i. e. very antient; such as the gates of Jerusalem are supposed to have been. I think the Hebrew word has here another meaning, and refers either to the loftiness of the doors, or to their being bigbly diawn up. They seem to have been portcullises; which were raised bigh, not opened wide, to admit those who entered.

PSALM XXV.-al. XXIV. The title gives this psalm to David: but I am inclined to think this is a misnomer; and that it was composed by some minor poet during the Babylonish captivity. It is the first of the five psalms called alphabetic; because the verses are arranged according to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, in number twenty-two: a species of writing, somewbat similar to our acrostics: but wbicb, I am persuaded, was not known in the days of David. Some errors have crept into the text of most of those alphabetic psalms. The words bave been sometimes ill divid.d, and mispointed; and whole members of the sen!ence been omitted. I bave endeavoured, in imitation of Hare, "Kennicott, and obers, to restore the text : but never without warning the reader of these restorations. It will be easily perceived, that it is impossible to exbibit in a ver. nacular version the alphabetical arrangement of the original. I bave, however, prefixed the forms ard names of the Hebrew letters to the sentences to which they belong. A PSALM OF DAVID..

I . ALEPH. TO thee, JEHOVAH ! I raise my soul : my God! save thy servant trusting in tbee.

« PreviousContinue »