Johann Peter Lange.

A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: critical, doctrinal, and homiletical, with special reference to ministers and students online

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[Scott: Having spoken unto the Lord in
prayer we should compose durselves to hear Him
speak to us by His word; and to expect an an-
swer by His Spirit or in His providence. He
will certainly speak peace to His people whom
He has separated and sanctified to Himself.

Baenes : Those wha have been afflicted and
restored should feel themselves eihorted not to
return to their former course of life, (1) by ihcir
obligations to their Benefactor, (2) by the le-
membrance of their own solemn vows when in
affliction, (3) by the assurance that if they do
return to their sin and folly, heavier judgments
will come upon them, — J. F. M.j



PSALM LXXXVI.



469



PSALM LXXXVL

A Prayer of David.

1 Bow down thine ear, O Lord, hear me :
For I am poor and needy.

2 Preserve my soul ; for I am holy :

thou my God, save thy servant that trusteth in thee.

3 Be merciful unto me, O Lord :
For I cry unto thee daily.

4 Rejoice the soul of thy servant :

For unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.

5 For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive ;

And plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee,

6 Give ear, O Lord, unto my prayer ;

And attend to the voice of my supplications.

7 In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee :
For thou wilt answer me.

8 Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord ;
Neither are there any works like unto thy works.

9 All nations whom thou hast made

Shall come and worship before thee, O Lord ;
And shall glorify thy name.

10 For thou art great, and doest wondrous things :
Thou art God alone.

11 Teach me thy way, O Lord ;

1 will walk in thy truth :

Unite my heart to fear thy name.

12 I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart :
And I will glorify thy name for evermore.

13 For great is thy msrcy toward me :

And thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.

14 God, the proud are risen against me.

And the assemblies of violent men have sought after my soul ;
And have not set thee before them.

15 But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious,
Long-suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.

16 turn unto me, and have mercy upon me ;
Give thy strength unto thy servant.

And save the son of thine handmaid.

17 Shew me a token for good ;

That they which hate me may see it, and be ashamed :
Because thou, Lord, hast holpen me, and comforted me.



EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL.

Contents and Composition. — We have first
presented to us in this Psalm a succession of in-
vocations and entreaties to God, supporting them-



s'^lves on one hand upon the need of the suppli-
ant and His covenant relation, and on the other
upon God's compassion and accessibility (vers.
1-7). There next follows the joyful acknow-
ledgment of God's incoinpavable exaltation, to
which as well as to His power the heathen will



470



THE THIRD BOOK OF PSALMS.



submit themselves (vers. 8-10). Then comes a
prayer for direction in the way of God, which
the poet promises to follow out of lasting grati-
tude for the deliverance vouchsafed to him,
(vers. 11-13). Finally we have an entreaty pre-
ceded by a complaint against godless enemies,
spared by God's patience (vers. 14, 15), which
implores help for the offerer, so that his haters
may be ashamed and know that it is really God
who has helped His pious servant (vers. 16, 17).
The whole Psalm gives the impression of a
pretty late composition. Familiar expressions
and phrases from the words of the Law, the
Psalms, and the Prophets, loosely connected, are
found throughout, and yet not altogether with-
out evidences of a peculiar treatment. It is re-
markable that in ver. 14, in the passage taken
literally from Ps. liv. 6, Dni is found instead of

D'"}?, and yet the acknowledgment of God in

the nations of the world as the Supreme God is
spoken of in ver. 9. It is quite uncertain to
what event the deliverance mentioned in ver. 13
refers. We have no grounds afforded us for
supposing the return from exile (Olshausen), or
for connecting the verse with 2 Mace. xiii. 21,
(Hitzig), not to mention the deliverance of Da-
vid from the plans contrived by Saul (Koster and
Clauss last), since we have no reason to assume
that David was consoled by the Korahites by a
Psalm constructed out of his own words (Heng-
stenberg). It is even questionable whether it
was a past event, and whether the prseterite,
though not to be taken as prophetic prseterite,
and therefore as future (De Wette), may yet not
be regarded as conveying an optative sense,
and therefore be rendered by the imperfect,
(Ewald, Baur). It is to be remarked that the
appellation of God, Adonai, is here used seven
times, and three times in Ps. cxxx. It seems,
however, too rash an opinion to consider this
circumstance as indicating a tendency to a later
adonaic style of Psalm-poetry, in imitation of the
Elohim Psalms (Delitzsch).

[The superscription of this Psalm presents a
curious phenomenon. It ascribes the author-
ship to David, being the only instance in the
whole of the Fourth Book. It occurs also in the
midst of a group of Psalms of the sons of Korah.
The opinion that David himself was the composer
is now almost universally abandoned. But is it
necessary to assume that it was composed in Da-
vid's lifetime? Hengstenberg, who maintains
rightly the originality of the superscription, feels
bound to maintain that it was. But he is will-
ing to depart from the literal application of the
language, as he supposes that it was composed
by the sons of Korah for David's benefit. The
character of the Psalm suggests that we may use
the same freedom of interpretation in another
direction. For the looseness of connection and
the liturgical rather than poetical form, as De-
litzsch has remarked, seem to bespeak a late
origin. It may be called "a prayer of David"
because it expresses the spirit of a number of
his Psalms which are of a predominantly sup-
plicatory character, and are indicated by the same

title nvSri, and chiefly, because his sayings con-
stitute a large portion of it. Among English
commentators Ferowne abaudoua the idea of a



Davidic composition, and maintains a late date.
Alexander appears undecided, though he consi-
ders the circumstances described suitable to Da-
vid's frequent situations of suffering. Words-
worth thinks that a Psalm of David is inserted
in the midst of the Korahite ones, to confirm the
equal authority of the latter. — J. F. M.]

Vers. 2-12. I am holy. — The expression has re-
ference to the covenant-relation (Hupf ) and not
to piety as a virtue. The accusation that the
Psalmist makes a boast of the latter (De Wette)
is unfounded. Geier already has had occasion
to combat it, and translated : beneficiarius ; and
the Dutch Bible : gunstgenoot. [In ver. 8,

D1''n~73 is capable of being translated either :

daily, as E. V. has it, or : all the day, as it is
given in the margin. The latter as indicating a
depth of need which the former fails to do is to be
preferred. On ver. 9 Alexander says; "The
common relation of Jehovah to all men as their
Maker shall be one day universally acknowledged,
not in word merely, but in act, the miost ex-
pressive part of worship, involving a recognition
of the previous display of God's perfections, in
the language of Scripture, His name. This pros-
pective view of the conversion of the world to
its Maker, shows how far the Old Testament
writers were from cherishing or countenancing
the contracted nationality of the later and the
less enlightened Jews. Corap. Ps. xxii. 27, 28;
xlv. 12, 16; xlvii. 9; and Jer. xvi. 19; Zeph.
ii. 11; Zech. xiv. 9, 16."— J, F. M.] The ex.
pression: unite my heart, in ver. 11, is pecu-
liar. It is equivalent to: unite all my powers
and impel them towards one object (Calvin,
Geier, and others). It is the whole, undivided
he»rt which is demanded in connection with love
in Deut. vi. 5; x. 12, and in connection with the
fear of God it appears here and in Jer. xxxii.

29, as nnx 21. The contrast is exhibited in

James iv. 8. It is a less tenable explanation
which understands a heart one with God (J. H.
Michaelis following older expositors). The
whole heart is also mentioned in connection with
thanksgiving in ver. 12. The translation of the
Vulgate: Isetelur (after Sept., Syr.) rests upon a

false derivation from mn.

Vers. 13 ff. The underworld [E. V.: lowest
hell] is employed as in Deut. xxxii. 22, to de-
note the world beneath in the bowels of the
earth (Ezek. xxxi. 14 f.), under the earth, Ex.
XX. 4, comp. Phil. ii. 10, not as the lowest
(Sept., Vulg.) or deepest (Koster, Ewald). There
is nothing to indicate any allusion to different
degrees of descent. Deliverance from a position
in which life was endangered is the subject of the
verse. — Son of thine handmaid may allude to
the servants born in the house. Gen. xiv. 14;
xvii. 12; Ex. xxiii. 12 (Geier, Olshausen, Hit-
zig, Delitzsch) so that the Psalmist does not de-
scribe himself as the servant of God in general
(Hupfeld), but as being 6orn into this relation. —
Token for good in ver. 17 is not a miracle
which the Psalmist implores in order to effect
his deliverance (De Wette, Olsh.), but an evi-
dence of the Divine favor (Geier, Hengst., De-
litzsch, Hupfeld), a token of good intentions, not:
for good fortune, or: " that it will be well with



PSALM LXXXVII.



471



me," (Luther), but one from which it will be
clear that God purposes good with regard to
him. [Hengstenberg: " What the Psalmist speaks
of, according to the preceding context and the
conclusion of the Psalm, is simply help and com-
fort, by which all his enemies may see that it is
not without good ground that he calls God hia
God."— J. F. M.]

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL.

1. The hope that our prayers will be heard by
God is grounded partly on our misery and help-
lessness (Ps. XXXV. 10; xxxvii. 14; xl. 18;
Ixxiv. 21) ; partly upon our covenant relation to
Him. With regard to the latter, we have not
only been able to receive most competent testi-
mony of the goodness and placability of God (Ex.
xxxiv. 6), of His incomparable exaltation (Ex.
XV. 11), and of His power (Deut. iii. 24), but have
also made actual proof of the truth of these de-
clarations, and of the credibility of these attes-
tations.

2. A true servant of this Almighty Lord not
merely bears in his heart the hope that many yet
in the world will be converted to Him TPs. xxii.
18; Jer. xvi. 19), but, as included in the terms
of the covenant of grace (Ps. iv. 4 ; xvi. 10),
he labors earnestly for his own sanctification.
He prays therefore especially for direction in
the ways of God (Pss. xxv. 4, 8, 12; xxvii. 11),
and for strength to enable him to walk in con-
formity therewith. And in this he includes a
prayer for a heart single to God's fear, so that
the whole heart may be yielded up in true gra-
titude. The help implored and received thus
gains a significance beyond his own experience,
and becomes a token for others also.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL.
It is well for men to complain to God of their



distress ; it is better to confess their own inabi-
lity to relieve it ; it is best for them to rely upon
God's mercy, and to entreat mighty proofs of
His goodness. — Believers must not become pre-
sumptuous or secure on account of their cove-
nant relation, but find in it reason both for hu-
mility and for reliance upon God. — Let him who
knows God ever learn of Him, and let him who
loves God please Him better day by day. The
more deeply true piety is stamped upon our own
lives, the more distinctly is it made a token for
others. — It is of no consequence to us, that our
enemies are put to shame, unless they, at the
same time, give glory to God. — How little do we
regulate our conduct in view of the incomparable
power, goodness, and faithfulness of God !

Stakke: The righteous have to suffer much,
therefore they must pray much. — How useful is
affliction ! It forces us to pray; it excites us to
ardent importunity in our prayers; it supports
and strengthens faith. — The anguish of guilt and
the sense of God's anger are a deep hell, from
which none but God can rescue us. — There is
need of great self-denial in refraining from ask-
ing a sign from God for our own sokes, which
would be to tempt God; but we must ask for
the sake of God's glory.

OsiANDEK : As it is the duty of the servant to
obey his master, so is it the part of the master to
defend and protect his servant. — Arndt : When
God does not lead and conduct men they wander,
and God has His own peculiar way. — Frisch :
The more thou givest God the honor, and show-
est thy reliance upon Him, the readier will he be
to help thee, — Richter [Haushibel) : The best
and most indispensable token of mercy which a
believer can have is the witness and seal of the
Holy Spirit. But God also vouchsafes to them
a special token, namely, deliverance from the
snares of the world, so that even unbelievers
themselves must acknowledge : God is with them!



PSALM LXXXVn.

A Psalm or Song for the sons of Korah.

4

1 His foundation is in the holy mountains.

2 The Lord loveth the gates of Zion
More than all the dwellings of Jacob.

3 Glorious things are spoken of thee,
city of God. Selah.

4 I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon lo them that know me :
Behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia ;

This man was born there.



THE THIRD BOOK OF PSALMS.



6 And of Zion it shall be said,

This and that man was born in her :

And the Highest himself shall establish her.

6 The LoKD shall count, when he writeth up the people,
That this mmi was bom there. Selah.



7 As well the singers as the players on instruments shall he there :
All my springs are in thee.



EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL.

Contents and Composition. — In the intro-
duction, the glory of Jerusalem is praised as that
of the city founded by God, loved by Him with
especial affection, and blessed with a glorious
promise (vers. 1-3). The promise is theu pre-
sented in its Messianic aspect (vers. 4-6) ; and,
finally, in one concluding verse, expression is
given to the grateful joy which the promise
excites. It is peculiar to this Psalm, that the
conversion of nations previously strange and
hostile to Israel, and their union with God's
people, are described, not as the homage of sub-
jected foes, Ps. Ixviii. 30 ; Ixxii. 9, &c. in agree-
ment with the prophecies of the second part of
Isaiah, but as an entering into the relations of
children and citizens, resembling in many points
Is. ii. 2, 4; xi. 10-18; xix. 24 f. ; xx. 23. But
our Psalm cannot be older than these passages,
and therefore cannot be assigned to the time
of David, as alluding by the idea of founding
to the removal of the sanctuary to Jerusalem
(Clauss). In ver. 4, Egypt is designated by the
symbolical name Rahab, which occurs first in
Is. XXX. 7, and that as alluding to vain-glorious
presumption, while the word itself denotes a
mythical sea-monster, Job ix. 13 ; xxvi. 12
(Sept, KTJToq), and is thus employed as an emblem
of Egypt (Is. li. 9; Ps. Ixxxix. 11), as the beast
of the reeds in Ps. Ixviii. 31. The modes of
expression, condensed even to obscurity (Flami-
nius, Olsh.), bear in their pregnant conciseness
and imagery a great resemblance to Ps. xxi. ;
xxii. 14; xxx. 6 f . The time of Hezekiah has
therefore been fixed upon (Venema, Dathe, Tho-
luck, Hengstenberg, Vaihinger, Delitzsch). For,
after the destruction of the Assyrian army under
Sennacherib, Assyria appears no longer along
with Egypt as a representative of the world-
power ; but Babylon has already stepped forth
into the theatre of history (Is. xxxix. ; Micah
iv. 10 ; 2 Chron. xxxii. 33). We have no con-
vincing ground for fixing the date of composition
as late as the return from exile (Calvin, Ewald,
Hupfeld), or still later in the days of the Mac-
cabees (Hitzig) from a supposed reference to the
Jews, who dwelt in large numbers in the coun-
tries named, and to their pilgrimages to the
great feasts in Jerusalem. We can say no more
than that a date must be assigned at which the
power of Babylon was not immediately felt,
because the language does not reveal the excite-
ment and bitterness which are to be found in
Is. xiv. and xlvii. — The Rabbins have quite mis-
understood this Psalm, and Luther also has
given many false renderings. The denial of the
Messianic character (Hitzig) is at the opposite



extreme to the opinion that there is n6 historical
back-ground, but that the glory of the Church
is all that is referred to.

Ver. 1. His foundation. — The form of the
word, and its union with the sufBx, make it
probable that it is not a passive part. = His
founded (city) as Hengst. and others maintain.
But the masc. suflBx is undoubtedly to be referred
to God ; for Zion, as the name of a city, occurs
afterwards as feminine. We must neither sup-
ply a verb: is (De Wette), or: consists (Baur),
or, by repeating the principal idea : is founded
(Hengst.) ; nor can we assume gratuitously that
an introductory clause has fallen out (Ewald,
Olshausen). It is just as improbable that this
verse of a single stich belongs lo the superscrip-
tion and announces the subject of the Psalm
(Chald., Kimchi, and others) Nor is it a voca-
tive, as most suppose, but an accusative, pre-
ceding its subject, depending in thought (J. D.
Mich.) on the verb of the following verse. Nor
is it necessary, in order to make the formal
arrangement of the whole sentence regular, to
complete the sense by uniting it t o the first words
of the next verse (Schnurrer, Hupfeld, Hofmann
[so Perowne. — J. F. M.].

Vers. 2, 3. The gates of Zion are mentioned
with reference not to the invincible security newly
assured by God ( Hengst. ), but to their accessibility
to the many new Inhabitants promised to the holy
city. — That which is spoken of or in Zion, is not
God's word proclaimed in the Church generally,
but the promise relating to Zion's increasing
glory. As this promise is cited in the form of
a declaration of God, it is not proper to take (he
part. pass, impersonally =they speak (Ewald,
Maurer, Olsh., Hengst.). The use of the part,
in the sing, and that in the masculine, though
construed with a fern, plural, is due either to
the singular meaning of the plural form em-
ployed as an abstract, or to the conception of
the part,, as being a kind of noun-neuter
(Hupfeld). [Alexander: "Instead of in thee,
some read of thee, but the former is entitled to
the preference; first, because it is the strict
sense, and therefore not to be rejected without
reason ; then, because it really includes the
other, but is not included in it; lastly, because
it suggests the additional idea of the holy city
as the scene, no less than the theme of the pro-
phetic visions." — J. F. M,]

Vers. 4-6. I will proclaim Rahab and Ba-
bylon as those that knoAv me, — [E.V.: I will
make mention of Riliab and Babylon to them that
know me,] The first word denotes a public
and solemn acknowledgment. This, probably,
is not directly an announcement to or among
those who know the name of Jehovah already,
that/ a new accession is made to their numbers,



PSALM LXXXVII.



il'6



but it is the two world-powers to the north
and south, hitherto hostile, who are mentioned
as knowing Him. Jehovah will name them
publicly, and acknowledge them as belonging
to those who know Him. And the Church is
further directed to look at other nations, near
and far, who are made conspicuous in the
world as examples of this relation by the point-
ing finger of God, and upon whom, successively,
God fixes His gaze, as He declares them one
by oae to be children of Zion. As the nations
are to have appellations with the forms of per-
sonal proper names, it is better not to limit
the term "this" to individual men in these
nations (Ewald) who became proselytes "there,"
that is, in the countries named (Hitzig.) It
brings these nations before us as individualities,
and their separate existence as nations is indi-
cated by their being pointed out, and also by
the representation that these individualities are
regarded, "man by man," as 6orra in Zion, the
city preserved for ever by God Himself. The same
thing is also indicated by numbering up in a
record (Ezek. xiii. 9). They are thus made Zion's
citizens. Zion does not lose her peerless pre-
eminence, no matter how great this accession may
be, or how dissimilar the natural characteristics
of her new citizens. There is here a forecast
of the New Testament idea of the second birth.
Yet it is not this idea itself, and it is very differ-
ent from the conception according to which Zion
should regain her dispersed inhabitants (Is. Iz.
4), and thus become the mother of a countless
people (Is. liv. 1, 3; Ixvi. 7). No contrast is
drawn here between Zion and the other places
peopled by descendants of Jacob, the settlements
of Jews in all parts of the world. According
to this view, only individuals, "this man" and
"that man" belong to the church of Israel,
whether by birth or conversion, while in Jeru-
salem all the inhabitants, man by man, are
designated Jews (Hitzig). The interpretation
which assumes that for the other nations the
enumeration was made collectively, but in Zion
by individuals (Hofmann), is equally false.

Ver. 7. Singers as -vcell as dancers.— [E.V.:
As well the singers as the players oninstruments.]
The forms of the words do not indicate pro-
fessions or positions, but actions. There is no
occasion for doing away with the dancing as an
expression of praise (2 Sam. vi. 16; Ps. cxlix.
8 ; cl. 4). It destroys the connection to trans-
late: pipe-players instead of: dancers (Sym-
niachus, Theodotion, Kimchi, Flaminius, Cal-
vin, and others). The rendering: The singers
as in rows (Aquila, Jerome, Luther), is incorrect.
It is possible to resolve the participles into
finite verbs (Isaaki, Dathe), but it is unsuitable,
and only necessary if the pointing of the last
Btich is changed with the following sense : all
thy inhabitants (Schnurrer, Bdttcher) or neigh-
bors (Hupfeld) sing as well as dance. It is
undoubtedly a procession of the Gentiles, who
offer their thanksgiving to God and the Church,
as Israel once did after the passage through the
Ked Sea (Hengst.). There is no reason why
the concluding words should not be placed
in the mouths of those who, according to the
custom of the orientals, give a lively expression
to their joy. Only we must not restrict the



sense, and understand by springs specially the
fountain of salvation (Is. xii. 3). The expres-
sion all my springs is itself opposed to this
restriction, and includes all means of refreshment.
Yet we may be specially reminded of the pro-
phetic representation of a fountain rising in the
house of God, from which flows the water of
life (Ps. xxxvi. 9; Joel iv. 18; Ezek. xlvii. 1;
Zech. xiv. 8).

[Hupfeld, following a line of conjecture begun
by the Sept. rendering KarocKca, assumes that
the word is the Hiph. put. from |1j;=dwellers.
This is the best of all the emendations proposed;
but against it. there is not only the traditional
reading, but also the tact tliat the natural
sense: all (are) dwellers with thee, would re-
quire an unusual construction of the construct.
If a suffix of the,l sing, be attached, the sentence
is wanting in simplicity. Yet the conjecture ia
worthy of consideration, from the altogether
unexpected thought afforded by the received
reading. — J, F. M.]

The explanation: all my eyes, that is, glances
or thoughts, are on thee (Calvin and others), is
against the form of the words. The interpreta-
tion according to a supposed Arabian cognate
form: my whole heart is in thee (Isaaki) is un-
necessary. An arbitrary conjecture, with still
more violent changes in the text, gives the fol-
lowing sense: masters as (numerous as) servants,
all my eyes (overseers) are in thee (Hitzig).

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL.

1. God is bound by lasting love to the city in

which He has His earthly dwelling, and from
which grows the kingdom which He erects
among men. He has, for this reason, an essen-
tial interest in those foundations, upon which He '
has established the city, and by means of which
He extends His kingdom, and makes this Hig
zeal in their behalf known by word and deed in
the world's history. By His word of promise,
He maintains among His people the remem-
brance of His choosing them, keeps alive the
thought of their calling, and gives them a wider
view of their destiny. And by deeds of deliver-
ance He strengthens the faith of His Church,
excites its love, directs its hopes, pledges and



Online LibraryJohann Peter LangeA commentary on the Holy Scriptures: critical, doctrinal, and homiletical, with special reference to ministers and students → online text (page 107 of 164)