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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secures, in general, its preservation in the world.
Yet its particular condition depends upon the
conduct of its members.

2. The praise of Zion is justified because of the
God's beloved city, built upon the rock which He
has made the foundation of His dwelling,
wherein those fountains are opened by which
the powers of the world to come are afforded to
believers from the wells of salvation, that they
may prove themselves in this world to be the
children of God. But these believers shall be
gathered out of the whole earth, both far and
near. And therefore will God open the gates of
His city, that access may be afforded to those
fountains, so that children may be born to Him
in His city from all nations. And these are
acknowledged by Him to be of the number of
those who know Him, though before they were
ignorant of Him, and they now rejoice with those
who praise Him. But if Zion would remain
God's city and enjoy His protection, she must a>s



474



THE THIRD BOOK OF PSALMS.



established by God, ever build herself up on
this foundation, and prove herself a mother to
His children by her administration and use of
those fountains. " It happens often that cities
which rise the most rapidly to a conspicuous
place in the world, are the most rapid in their
fall. In order that the prosperity of the Church
may not be thought to be so frail as this, the
prophet adds that she is established by the
Higliest, As if be had said: It is no wonder that
other cities nod to their destruction, for they
are shaken with the world's commotions, and
have none who can be their everlasting guar-
dian." (Calvin).

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL.

It is one and the same God, who has estab-
lished the Church upon earth, who maintains it
as a peculiar institution, and rules it after His
holy and loving will. — The foundation which God
has laid for the Church, the end to which. He has
appointed her, and the way which He has
pointed out to her. — The destiny assigned the
Church as the city of God for all the nations of
the earth. — What does the present condi?Lion of
the Church seem to be, when we consider her
Divine founding, and the part assigned her in
the world? — The house of God among the dwell-
ings of men; (1.) its origin; (2.) whither it di-
rects us ; (3.) how it realizes its aim. — The ac-
knowledgment which God demands, and the
acknowledgment which God vouchsafes, are
mutually related and mutually conditioned. —
The missionary work of the Church: (1.) accord-
ing to its Divine institution ; (2.) in its actual
extent; (3.) with the means ordained. — The con-
version of the heathen: (1.) as God's will; (2.)
as the work of the Church ; (3.) as the delight
of the pious. — He who is not a child of God
need not expect to be reckoned among the citi-
zens of His kingdom. — God opens to men in the
city in which He dwells, three fountains: (1.)
that of the true knowledge of Him; (2.) that of
eternal salvation ; (3. ) that of blessed joy. — The
Church founded by God, and His dwelling, as
the mother of His children. — The best security
for the prosperity of a city is the piety of its in-
habitants. — There is nothing better for men than
to have God as their Defender, Guardian, and
Father. — God, the Founder and Master-builder
of His city, is also the Father and King of His
children.

Starke : If the Church ia the city of God,



who would be so neglectful as not to seek to ob-
tain its citizenship ? — God is the Master-builder
of His Church. Well for him who helps to build ;
but ill for him who seeks to injure or destroy
that structure. — He who is taught the language
of the Holy Spirit, is learned in the things of
God. — The mutations and increase of languages
have become, under the New Testament, a bless-
ing ; though under the Old, at the Tower of Babel,
they were a punishment.

Sblnecker: God's people are united to God's
word ; where, therefore, that word is, the Church
of Christ is. — Renschel: A description of the
Church of the New Testament, after the type of
the earthly Jerusalem. — Riegeb, : In building
the city of God, let us not think so much about
the present feeble beginning and the difficulties
still to be overcome, but rather upon the sure
ground of the Divine promises and the great
Master-builder, who has in His own hands the
plan of the city. — Gunther : It is only those
who are born there that are in the city of God ;
and it is the Highest who has founded that city.
— ScHAUBACH : Would that the Lord in His
mercy would keep us true to His Church, His
word, and His sacraments, kindle this lamp for
those among whom it has expired, and in His
mercy supply the needs of those that have it,
until at last there be one flock and one Shepherd.
— Diedrich : Zion, out of which proceeds the
word of grace, is the fountain of many nations,
and the birth-place of a new humanity. — Tadbe:
It is God's hand, and no partial human hand,
that writes down in the book of life those who
are born in the city of God ; and just for that
reason sharp tests are employed to decide the
right to a place there. — Moller : The firm foun-
dation of the Evangelical Church, her sure
covenant, and her joyful words.

[Scott: It should especially be remembered
here, that almost all the sacred writers belonged
to Zion, or to that despised nation which met to
worship at Zion ; and no nation on earth, or
part of a nation, has been preserved or delivered
from idolatry, except through the revelations
which God made through the prophets and
apostles of Israel.

Bishop Horne: In the book of life, that reg-
ister of heaven kept by God Himself, our names
are entered, not as born of fl.esh and blood by the
will of man, but as born of water and the Spirit
by the will of God ; of each person it is written
that he was born there, in the Church and city
of God.— J. F. M.]



PSALM LXXXVIII.

A song or Psalm for the sons of Korah, to the chief Musician upon Mahalath Leannoih^

Maschil of Reman the Ezrahite.

O Lord God of my salvation,
I have cried day and night before thee:
Let my prayer come before thee :
Incline thine ear unto my cry :



PSALM LXXXVIII. 475



4 For my soul is full of troubles :

And my life draweth nigh unto the grave.

5 I am counted with them that go down into the pit ;
I am as a man that hath no strength,

6 Free among the dead,

Like the slain that lie in the grave.
Whom thou rememberest no more:
And they are cut off from thy hand.

7 Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit.
In darkness, in the deeps.

8 Thy wrath lieth hard upon me,

And thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves. Selah.

9 Thou hast put away mine acquaintance far from me ;
Thou hast made me an abomination unto them :

I am shut up, and I cannot come forth.
10 Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction :
Lord, 1 have called daily upon thee,
I have stretched out my hands unto thee.



11 Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? ■ <,fa /.li ' r
Shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah. ,,5^^.,

12 Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave ?
Or thy faithfulness in destruction ?

13 Shall thy wonders be known in the dark ?

And thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness ?

14 But unto thee have I cried, O Lord ;

And in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee.

15 Lord, why castest thou off my soul?
Why hidest thou thy face from me ?

16 I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up :
While I suffer my terrors I am distracted.

17 Thy fierce wrath goeth over me,
Thy terrors have cut me off.

18 They came round about me daily like water ;
They compassed me about together.

19 Lover and friend hast thou put far from me,
And mine acquaintance into darkness.



y



EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL.

Contents and Composition. The super-
scriptiou is a double one, the two parts of which
are mutually contradictory, for Heman theEzra-
hite was no Korahite. See Introd. g 2, The
first part seems to have been inserted after the
other, since the direction, " to the leader " ic
elsewhere found at the end. The explanation :
to be performed mournfully with subdued voice,
(Delitzsch) agrees with the mournful contents,
whose tone is even more gloomy than that of Ps.
Ixxvii. It is only the exclamation: Jehovah,
God of my help, or of my salvation (ver. 2 a)
which shows that the last cord, uniting the sup-
pliant to God, even if worn down to the last
thread, is not entirely severed. All that fol-



lows is a complaint as though from the depths of
hell. (Lam. iii. 55). For it is a lamentation
which after long and painful suffering under the
oppression of the weight of God's anger, sees
nothing before it but death and hell (Flaminius,
Hupfeld). The prayer of anguish arises from
the greatness of the distress (vers. 2-4), which
has brought the sufferer near to death (vers. 6-
6), and is the effect of God's wrath (vers. 7-8),
and has cast him out from his acquaintance as
an object of abhorrence (vers. 9-10). There
then follows a succession of lamentations as to
the condition after death (vers. 11-13), in con-
nection with which is uttered the question which
agitates him most deeply, why God should then
turn away from him in the midst of his supplica-
tions (vers. 14-15). A return is then made
to the lamentations over his miseries, which



476



THE THIRD BOOK OF PSALMS.



surround him like billows and darkness (vers.
16-19).

It is not, however, to be inferred from this
that the conclusion of the Psalm has been lost
(Muntinghe, Olshausen), or that it is to be
united to the following so as to form one compo-
sition (Hengstenberg). Expressions of hope are
not uttered, because the suppliant had not yet
reached the victorious issue of the conflict. There
is still less ground for putting these words in
the mouth of the Messiah (the ancients). Nor is
the particular kind of calamity here deplored
definitely indicated, whether sickness (Aben
Ezra, Ewald), or a particular form, leprosy
(Venema, Kbster, Delitzsch), or imprisonment
(Venema as an alternative, Hitzig). And yet
the expressions indicate personal experiences,
thus opposing the notion that they form a national
psalm of complaint of the period of the Babylon-
ish Exile (Syriac, Rosenmiiller, De Wette), or on
account of its long continuance (Chald., the Rab-
bins) or of the approach of that catastrophe
(Hengst.). Nor should any more weight be at-
tached to the attempt to connect the Psalm with
the prophet Jeremiah when in the pit (Venema)
or during the captivity, Ps. Ixxxvi. being as-
signed to the same author and period. Nor
is it more probable that the composition was
contemporaneous with that of the Book of Sirach
(Hitzig), or with the plague in the time of Heze-
kiah (J. D. Michaelis), or with the leprosy of
King Uzziah (Iken), or of Job, (Kbster, De-
litzsch). Yet it must be admitted, that we hear
resounding through this psalm tones which are
familiar in others, while some expressions are
most strikingly similar to phrases and words
occurring in the book of Job, and that the Ezra-
hite Heman was among the wise men of the age
of Solomon (1 Kings v. 11).

[Hengstenberg has advanced and defended at
length the hypothesis alluded to above, that this
Psalm and the following one constitute one dou-
ble psalm. To this he was led by the length of
the title, its composite appearance, and the title
"song" prefixed. The supposition at first ap-
pears to be reasonable, but" the conjectures and
assumptions which it needs for support give it,
when examined, a different appearance. For
each of these psalms has a complete title, assign-
ing it to an author different from the other.
Hengstenberg, therefore, is led to assume that
these so called authors were not the composers,
but that the Korahites affixed their names to
psalms of their own composition, in order to give
weight to them, and also to honor the memory
of the ostensible authors themselves. But apart
from the above objection, there is this other,
that the psalms are not only different in tone and
feeling, but are evidently also distinct composi-
tions; for, while the former records individual
feelings, the latter records national ones. It
would certainly have been much more natural to
have combined the two titles. The idea of an
actual Korahite authorship might not then be
readily suggested, but an intimation of the unity
of design would be given, which other circum-
stances certainly do not indicate. But it is not
necessary to maintain that the superscription of
this Psalm is not genuine, for there is no diffi-
culty in supposing that after its composition by



Heman the Ezrahite of the tribe of Judah (not

the Korahite), for (7) the Korahites, it was com-
mitted to their especial charge for its musical per*
formance, or that it was in some other way con-
nected with that body of singers, so as to form
a part of their special literature. — The opinion
of Delitzsch as to the authorship seems to me to
be the most probable. Unless Heman was a
Korahite adopted by an Ezrahite, as Hengst.
supposes, which seems very unlikely, it is cer-
tain that the author was the wise man of that
name at Solomon's court. The date is thus fixed
also. For a full view of the expressions in the
psalm resembling passages in the Book of Job,
which is now almost proved to belong to the
same period, see besides Delitzsch on this Psalm,
the introduction to his Comm. on Job and his
article Hioh in Herzog's Real-Encykl. — Among
Anglo-American commentators, the view of
Hengstenberg as to the form of the Psalm is con-
sidered probable by Alexander. For the opinion
of the latter as to the date of composition, see
the introduction to Ps. Ixxxix. Wordsworth
believes that this and the next psalm form a
pair. He regards both as referring to some
great affliction of David, probably the rebellion
of his son Absalom. Perowne says that all the
conjectures as to the author and the circum-
stances under which he wrote are worth nothing.
And yet he claims in his critical note that Heman
the Ezrahite was also the Levitical singer. Why
then, on this supposition, might he not have been
one of the Korahites, and the genuineness of the
whole title, which Perowne denies, be thus estab-
lished? In view of this coincidence, the anom-
alous position of H^fjfp 7 would not be sufficient

to prove the spuriousness of either part. But
the hypothesis given above affords a more satis-
factory explanation. — J. F. M.l.

Ver. 2. In the day of my crying.
[E. V. I have cried day]. As DDf is not used,

but Dr, closely connected hy Makkephyiiih. the
following word, there cannot be two parallel
clauses : In the day have I cried, in the night
am I before thee. Nor is it necessary to alter
the division of the verse and render : God of
my salvation, on the day when 1 cried. Nor can
we strike out Dl" as a later gloss (Hupfeld).
Instead of a contrast between day and night, it
is allowable to consider the former as an indefi-
nite mark of time (Hitzig, Del.) as in Ps. Ivi. 4;
Ixxviii. 42, cf. xviii. 1. [Dr. Moll accordingly
renders : In the day of my crying — in the night
before thee, let my prayer come, etc. The ren-
dering of the Engl. Vers, is defective from
a false arrangement. The following extract
from Hengstenberg seems to present the true
view: "The two clauses are to be supplemented
from each other; in the first, before thee • in the
second, I cry. The fundamental passage is Ps.
xxii. 2, 'My God, I cry in the daytime and thou
answerest not, and in the night season and am
not silenced.' According to this passage the
Di' must here stand for DDV or Dr2. It cer-

T :

tainly does not occur in any other passage, but
there are manj analogies in its favor, and the
short form might the more readily be used here,

as n'?''73 follows." The true rendering is



PSALM LXXXVIII.



477



therefore : "la the day-time I cry, in the night
before Thee." The Makkeph does not aflfect the
connection of the words. — J. F. M.].

Ver. 6. My couch {is) among the dead.
[E. V. Free among the dead.] This rendering
IS in accordance with Ezek. xxvii. 20, comp.
Job xvii. 13 (Hitzig, Ewald, Bottcher, Koster
and Maurer), following a kindred verb in Arabic
meaning, to be stretched out (Iken, J. D. Mich.).
It is possible also to view it as an adjective :
prostrate (De Wette, Hupfeld), or according to
another derivation: free, at large (Sept., Sym-
machns and other versions) ; not abandoned,
neglected, (Luther, Venema and others), or shut
out from human society and the enjoyments of
this life (Q-eier, Clericus, Stier), but released
from the performance of legal duties as one de-
funcius (Job iii. 19; xxxix. 5; Rom. vii. 2), from
the primary idea of release from a master, Ex.
xxi. 3; Deut. xv. 12; Jer. xxxiv. 9. (Chal'd.,
Isaaki, Aben Ezra, Calvin, J. H. Michaelis,
Hengst., Del., Hupfeld as an alternative). But
against these derivations, there is especially the
term applied to a hospital for lepers in 2 Kings
XV. 6. [Dehtzsoh: "In this passage (2 Kings
XV. 5) the place to which the leprous king with-
drew might mean a house for the convalescent
as well as the sick, a sans souci as well as a laza-
retto." The common rendering as given in our
version, as followed by most, and as ex-
plained above, is probably the most correct. —
J. F. M.].

Vers. 8, 9. The words, "all thy waves" need
not be separated from the following so that the
verb be understood from the preceding clause
(De Dieu), and the remaining words of the
verse be construed as a relative clause by asynde-
ton (Hupfeld), according to which we would have
the rendering : by which thou hast afflicted me.
As the suffix is absent, it is, of course, not to be
translated ; with all thy waves thou afflictest me
(Syramachus and the most). The accusative pre-
cedes the verb. [" All Thy waves Thou dost
press down" (upon me). For the thought and
fundamental passage see Ps. xlii. 8. — J. F. M.].
3o all the ancient translators but Symmachus,
Aben Ezra, Ewald, Delitzsch. There is no
ground for a substitution of JT^V for n^^^ (018-

hausen). Ver. 9 c. need not be understood of
imprisonmeht (Symmachus, Luther. Hitzig), or
the seclusion of a leper (Del.). Still less, as the
expression is passive, is it to be regarded as de-
scribing the condition of a man who withdraws
of his own accord from mankind, who shuts him-
self up in his house, and will not show himself
in public, whether from shame, or in order not
to excite abhorrence (Clericus, Ewald, Hengst.,
Hitzig). It is quite sufficient to regard it as a
figurative and biblical conception of distress, as
a prison from which no way of escape is to be
found, Lam. iii. 7, 9 ; Job iii. 23 and frequent-
ly (most).
Ver. 11. The designation of the dead as

Ci'KSl, is not the name of the Rephaim, a race
of Canaanitisii giants, transferred to the de-
parted, as appearing to the imagination in
gigantic forms, 1 Sam. xxviii. 13 (Hengst.). It
comes from a root which expresses what is weak
and languid, and at the same time stretched



out and long-extended, and which can accord-
ingly be employed to describe the shadowy
forms of the under world as well as the giants
and heroes of the olden time. There is no refer-
ence here as there is in Isa. xxvi. 14 to a rising
from the grave, or simply (Hengst., Hupfeld) to a
rising from the recumbent position which results
from prostration. For the expression include?
the thought of a return to life, and therefore
that of a reappearance, at all events, in the
under world, which is here characterized (ver.
12) as destruction, [Abaddon) as in Job xxvi. 6 ;
xxviii. 22 ; Prov. xv. 11 ; xxvii. 20, as darkness,
ver. 13, (comp. ver. 7), and as the land of for get-
fulness. These last words must be taken in a
double sense : that God ceases to think of the
dead (ver. 6), for they are forgotten (Ps. xxxi.
13), and that in the dead memory is extinct (Ps.
vi. 6; XXX. 10, et al., Eccl. ix. 5, 6, 10), for tney
forget.

Vers. 16 ff. In ver. 16 we should perhaps read
n:ii3« (Olsh., Hupf.) instead of HJ^flK. For the

former indicates the cessation of physical and
mental life, torpor, stupor (Ps. xxxviii. 12). The
latter does not occur elsewhere, and is not quite
satisfactorily explained from the Arabic as
mental weakness, helplessness. The optative is
used to express inner necessity. [I am dis-
tracted (and cannot regain my powers), in the
first member of the verse the rendering of the

E. V. would be improved by substituting the
words " dying away," instead of " ready to
die." The former expresses better the
force of continuance conveyed by the active
participle, and describes better the condition of
the sufferer. — J. F. M.] In ver. 17 the form
■•JinnDy occurs, which is neither to be corrected

according to Ps. cxix. 139 (Hitzig), nor to be
regarded as a monstrosity, an impossible form
(Olsh., Hupfeld), but is an intensive form, em-
ployed intentionally (Del.), similar to those in
Hos. iv. 18; Ps. cxlix. 6 (Ewald), with a play
upon Lev. xxv, 23 (Hengst.). The rendering of
Heidenheim is probably correct : their terrors
have made me inalienably their own. [Delitzsch
expresses the design of the form well: vemichl —
nichtigt. Our version retains the rendering
which it usually gives to this word: hath cut me
off. The idea is that of utter destruction. — J.

F. M.] The last sentence of the Psalm could
mean : my trusted friends are darkness, that is,
an object which is not seen, Job xii. 25 (Hitzig),
therefore: invisible (Chald., the Rabbins, and
most expositors). But the explanation accord-
ing to Job xvii. 14; xix. 14; Isa. liii. 3; Prov.
vii. 4, is more expressive, namely : that dark-
ness has become his companion, in the place of
his former companions, (Geier, J. H. Mich.,
Schnurrer, Hengst., Hupfeld, DeL). "With
this cry the harp drops from the poet's hand.
He is silent and waits until God shall solve the
enigma of his suflFering." (DeL).

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL.

1. Members of the Church of God have not only
to share here below the troubles and trials of
this earthly life; they may also, by repeated sor-
rows, by an accumulation of afflictions, by an



478



THE THIRD BOOK OF PSALMS.



ever-rising deluge of cares, become outwardly
and inwardly so distressed that they are utterly
without prospect of escape. Avoided by their
acquaintances, forsaken by their friends, aban-
doned by all the world, tortured in body, tempted
in spirit, with nothing but darkness about their
souls, they are driven to the verge of despair,
and have before their eyes nothing but death,
heart-rending destruction, and utter ruin. They
should remember this, partly as a warning
against security, when they are surrounded with
peace and joy and prosperity, partly as a sup-
port for their souls in the hour of suffering and
temptation.

2. For there is this difference between the peo-
ple of God in their sorrows and other sufferers,
that the former are united to the living God as
the God of their helpandsalvation, by atiewhich
no temporal suffering, no earthly calamity, no
outward power in the world can break, which,
in a word, cannot be destroyed from without,
but only loosed from within. But this cannot
happen as long as the tempted one can pray,
and raise his petition, not merely as a cry of
anguish, by which, day and night, he makes
his distress known unto God, but as an expres-
sion of his belief that God alone is his Helper
and Saviour. "In so naming God, he puts a
bridle and bit upon the attacks of insupport-
able pain, shuts the door in the face of despair,
and strengthens himself to endure his cross."
(Calvin.)

3. As long as the assurance of immortality was
not held fast by the soul, and the resurrection of
the dead was not revealed to the Church, so long
were death and the under-world not only the
last but also the worst of enemies. And there-
fore in those times of old the prayers of believers
were not poured forth for worldly treasures,
earthly good, and carnal delight, but for the
preservation and improvement of life, during
their earthly pilgrimage, and for the manifes-
tation of God's glory within the sphere of the
temporal, since they knew not how man could
praise Him after death. The deliverance of
the believer's life, therefore, and the preserva-
tion of Israel, were not matters of individual
interest and selfish desire; but the perpetuity
of the Church in the world, and the salvation
of the believer, were bound up with a righteous
concern for God's honor and His acknowledg-
ment among men. "Although at first sight
these complaints seem to evince suffering de-



Online LibraryJohann Peter LangeA commentary on the Holy Scriptures: critical, doctrinal, and homiletical, with special reference to ministers and students → online text (page 108 of 164)