Exposition - Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher - Works Upon This Psalm
TITLE. A Psalm or Song of Asaph. This is the last
occasion upon which we shall meet with this eloquent writer. The patriotic poet
sings again of wars and dangers imminent, but it is no godless song of a
thoughtless nation entering upon war with a light heart. Asaph the seer is well
aware of the serious dangers arising from the powerful confederate nations, but
his soul in faith stays itself upon Jehovah, while as a poet preacher he excites
his countrymen to prayer by means of this sacred lyric. The Asaph who penned
this song was in all probability the person referred to in 2Ch 20:14, for the
internal evidence referring the subject of the Psalm to the times of Jehoshaphat
is overwhelming. The division in the camp of the confederate peoples in the
wilderness of Tekoa not only broke up their league, but led to a mutual
slaughter, which crippled the power of some of the nations for many years after.
They thought to destroy Israel and destroyed each other.
DIVISION. An appeal to God in a general manner fills Ps
83:1-4; and then the psalmist enters into details of the league, Ps 83:5-8. This
leads to an earnest entreaty for the overthrow of the enemy, Ps 83:9-15, with an
expression of desire that God's glory may be promoted thereby.
Verse 1. Keep not thou silence, O God. Man is
clamorous, be not thou speechless. He rails and reviles, wilt not thou reply? On
word of thine can deliver thy people; therefore, O Lord, break thy quiet and let
thy voice be heard. Hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God. Here the
appeal is to EL., the Mighty One. He is entreated to act and speak, because his
nation suffers and is in great jeopardy. How entirely the psalmist looks to God;
he asks not for "a leader bold and brave, "or for any form of human
force, but casts his burden upon the Lord, being well assured that his eternal
power and Godhead could meet every difficulty of the case.
Verse 2. For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult.
They are by no means sparing of their words, they are like a hungry pack of
dogs, all giving tongue at once. So sure are they of devouring thy people that
they already shout over the feast. And they that hate thee have lifted up the head.
Confident of conquest, they carry themselves proudly and exalt themselves as if
their anticipated victories were already obtained. These enemies of Israel were
also God's enemies, and are here described as such by way of adding intensity to
the argument of the intercession. The adversaries of the church are usually a
noisy and a boastful crew. Their pride is a brass which always sounds, a cymbal
which is ever tinkling.
Verse 3. They have taken crafty counsel against thy
people. Whatever we may do, our enemies use their wits and lay their heads
together; in united conclave they discourse upon the demands and plans of the
campaign, using much treachery and serpentine cunning in arranging their
schemes. Malice is cold blooded enough to plot with deliberation; and pride,
though it be never wise, is often allied with craft. And consulted against thy hidden ones. Hidden away
from all harm are the Lord's chosen; their enemies think not so, but hope to
smite them; they might as well attempt to destroy the angels before the throne
Verse 4. They have said, Come, and let us cut them
off from being a nation. Easier said than done. Yet it shows how thorough
going are the foes of the church. Theirs was the policy of extermination. They
laid the axe at the root of the matter. Rome has always loved this method of
warfare, and hence she has gloated over the massacre of Bartholomew, and the
murders of the Inquisition. That the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance. They
would blot them out of history as well as out of existence. Evil is intolerant
of good. If Israel would let Edom alone yet Edom cannot be quiet, but seeks like
its ancestor to kill the chosen of the Lord. Men would be glad to cast the
church out of the world because it rebukes them, and is thus a standing menace
to their sinful peace.
Verse 5. For they have consulted together with one
consent. They are hearty and unanimous in their designs. They seem to have
but one heart, and that a fierce one, against the chosen people and their God. They are confederate against thee. At the Lord himself
they aim through the sides of his saints. They make a covenant, and ratify it
with blood, resolutely banding themselves together to war with the Mighty God.
The tabernacles of Edom. Nearest of kin, yet
first in enmity. Their sire despised the birthright, and they despise the
possessors of it. Leaving their rock built mansions for the tents of war, the
Edomites invaded the land of Israel.
And the Ishmaelites. A persecuting spirit ran in their
blood, they perpetuated the old grudge between the child of the bondwoman and
the son of the freewoman.
Of Moab. Born of incest, but yet a near kinsman, the feud
of Moab against Israel was very bitter. Little could righteous Lot have dreamed
that his unhallowed seed would be such unrelenting enemies of his uncle
And the Hagarenes--perhaps descendants of Hagar by a
second husband. Whoever they may have been, they cast their power into the wrong
scale, and with all their might sought the ruin of Israel. Children of Hagar,
and all others who dwell around Mount Sinai, which is in Arabia, are of the seed
which gendereth to bondage, and hence they hate the seed according to promise.
Gebal was probably a near neighbour of Edom,
though there was a Gebal in the region of Tyre and Sidon.
And Ammon, and Amalek. Two other hereditary foes of
Israel, fierce and remorseless as ravening wolves. In the roll of infamy let
these names remain detestably immortalised. How thick they stand. Their name is
legion, for they are many. Alas, poor Israel, how art thou to stand against such
a Bloody League? Nor is this all. Here comes another tribe of ancient foemen,
the Philistines; who once blinded Samson, and captured
the ark of the Lord; and here are old allies become new enemies; the builders of
the temple conspiring to pull it down, even
the inhabitants of Tyre. These last were mercenaries who
cared not at whose bidding they drew sword, so long as they carved something for
their own advantage. True religion has had its quarrel with merchants and
craftsmen, and because it has interfered with their gains, they have conspired
Assur is also joined with them. It was then a
rising power, anxious for growth, and it thus early distinguished itself for
evil. What a motley group they were; a league against Israel is always
attractive, and gathers whole nations within its bonds. Herod and Pilate are
friends, if Jesus is to be crucified. Romanism and Ritualism make common cause
against the gospel.
They have holpen the children of Lot. All these have come
to the aid of Moab and Ammon, which two nations were among the fiercest in the
conspiracy. There were ten to one against Israel, and yet she overcame all her
enemies. Her name is not blotted out; but many, nay, most of her adversaries are
now a name only, their power and their excellence are alike gone.
Selah. There was good reason for a pause when the nation
was in such jeopardy: and yet it needs faith to make a pause, for unbelief is
always in a hurry.
Do unto them as unto the Midianites. Faith
delights to light upon precedents, and quote them before the Lord; in the
present instance, Asaph found a very appropriate one, for the nations in both
cases were very much the same, and the plight of the Israelites very similar.
Yet Midian perished, and the psalmist trusted that Israel's present foes would
meet with the like overthrow from the hand of the Lord.
As to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook of Kison. The
hosts were swept away by the suddenly swollen torrent, and utterly perished;
which was a second instance of divine vengeance upon confederated enemies of
Israel. When God wills it, a brook can be as deadly as a sea. Kishon was as
terrible to Jabin as was the Red Sea to Pharaoh. How easily can the Lord smite
the enemies of his people. God of Gideon and of Barak, wilt thou not again
avenge thine heritage of their bloodthirsty foes?
Which perished at Endor. There was the centre of
the carnage, where the heaps of the slain lay thickest.
They became as dung for the earth, manuring it with man;
making the earth, like Saturn, feed on its own children. War is cruel, butt in
this case it avengements were most just, --those who would not give Israel a
place above ground are themselves denied a hiding place under the ground; they
counted God's people to be as dung, and they became dung themselves. Asaph would
have the same fate befell other enemies of Israel; and his prayer was a
prophecy, for so it happened to them.
Make their nobles like Oreb, and like Zeeb.
Smite the great ones as well as the common ruck. Suffer not the ringleaders to
escape. As Oreb fell at the rock and Zeeb at the winepress, so do thou mete out
vengeance to Zion's foes wherever thou mayest overtake them. They boastfully
compare themselves to ravens and wolves; let them receive the fate which is due
to such wild beasts.
Yea, all their princes as Zebah, and as Zalmunnua. These
were captured and slain by Gideon, despite their claiming to have been anointed
to the kingdom. Zebah became a sacrifice, and Zalmunna was sent to those shadowy
images from which his name is derived. The psalmist seeing these four culprits
hanging in history upon a lofty gallows, earnestly asks that others of a like
character may, for truth and righteousness' sake, share their fate.
Who said, Let us take to ourselves the houses of God
in possession. Viewing the temple, and also the dwellings of the
tribes, as all belonging to God, these greedy plunderers determined to push out
the inhabitants, slay them, and become themselves landlords and tenants of the
whole. These were large words and dark designs, but God could bring them all to
nothing. It is in vain for men to say "Let us take, "if God does not
give. He who robs God's house will find that he has a property reeking with a
curse; it will plague him and his seed for ever. "Will a man rob God?"
Let him try it, and he will find it hot and heavy work.
O my God, make them like a wheel; like a rolling
thing which cannot rest, but is made to move with every breath. Let them have no
quiet. May their minds eternally revolve and never come to peace. Blow them away
like thistle down,
as the stubble before the wind. Scatter them, chase them,
drive them to destruction. Every patriot prays thus against the enemies of his
country, he would be no better than a traitor if he did not.
As the fire burneth a wood. Long years have
strewn the ground with deep deposits of leaves; these being dried in the sun are
very apt to take fire, and when they do so the burning in terrific. The
underwood and the ferns blaze, the bushes crackle, the great trees kindle and to
their very tops are wrapped in fire, while the ground is all red as a furnace.
In this way, O Lord, mete out destruction to thy foes, and bring all of them to
The flame setteth the mountains on fire. Up the hill
sides the hanging woods glow like a great sacrifice, and the forests on the
mountain's crown smoke towards heaven. Even thus, O Lord, do thou conspicuously
and terribly overthrow the enemies of thine Israel.
So persecute them with thy tempest, and make them
afraid with thy storm. The Lord will follow up his enemies, alarm
them, and chase them till they are put to a hopeless rout. He did this,
according to the prayer of the present Psalm, for his servant Jehoshaphat; and
in like manner will he come to the rescue of any or all of his chosen.
Fill their faces with shame; that they may seek thy
name, O Lord. Shame has often weaned men from their idols, and set them upon
seeking the Lord. If this was not the happy result, in the present instance,
with the Lord's enemies, yet it would be so with his people who were so prone to
err. They would be humbled by his mercy, and ashamed of themselves because of
his grace; and then they would with sincerity return to the earnest worship of
Jehovah their God, who had delivered them.
Verse 17. Where no good result followed, and the men
remained as fierce and obstinate as ever, justice was invoked to carry out the
capital sentence. Let them be confounded and troubled for ever; yea, let them
be put to shame, and perish. What else could be done with them? It was
better that they perished than that Israel should be rooted up. What a terrible
doom it will be to the enemies of God to be "confounded, and troubled for
ever, "to see all their schemes and hopes defeated, and their bodies and
souls full of anguish without end: from such a shameful perishing may our souls
That men may know that thou, whose name alone is
JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth. Hearing of the Lord's
marvellous deeds in defeating such a numerous confederacy, the very heathen
would be compelled to acknowledge the greatness of Jehovah. We read in 2Ch
20:30, that the fear of God was on all the neighbouring kingdoms when they heard
that Jehovah fought against the enemies of Israel. Jehovah is essentially the
Most High. He who is self existent is infinitely above all creatures, all the
earth is but his footstool. The godless race of man disregards this, and yet at
times the wonderful works of the Lord compel the most unwilling to adore his
majesty. Thus has this soul stirring lyric risen from the words of complaint to
those of adoration; let us in our worship always seek to do the same. National
trouble called out the nation's poet laureate, and well did he discourse at once
of her sorrows, and prayers, and hopes. Sacred literature thus owes much to
sorrow and distress. How enriching is the hand of adversity! The following
attempt to verify the Psalm, and tune it to gospel purposes, is submitted with
O God, be thou no longer still,
Thy foes are leagued against thy law;
Make bare thine arm on Zion's hill,
Great Captain of our Holy War.
As Amalek and Ishmael
Had war for ever with thy seed,
So all the hosts of Rome and hell
Against the Son their armies led.
Though they are agreed in nought beside,
Against thy truth they all unite;
They rave against the Crucified,
And hate the gospel's growing might.
By Kishon's brook all Jabin's band
At thy rebuke were swept away;
O Lord, display thy mighty hand,
A single stroke shall win the day.
Come, rushing wind, the stubble chase!
Come, sacred fire, the forests burn!
Come, Lord, with all thy conquering grace,
Rebellious hearts to Jesus turn!
That men may know at once that thou,
Jehovah, lovest truth right well;
And that thy church shall never bow
Before the boastful gates of hell.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Title. "A Song or Psalm." When
the two words (Shir, Mizmor, )occur together, the meaning seems to be, a
lyric poem appointed to be sung. John Jebb.
Title. This Psalm, according to the title, was
composed by Asaph. In accordance with this, we read, in 1Ch 20:14, that the
Spirit of the Lord came upon Jehasiel, of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the
assembly. This Jehasiel is probably the author of the Psalm. Our Psalm is a true
picture of the state of feeling which prevailed throughout the people during the
danger under Jehoshaphat. According to the history of Chronicles, they praised
God at that time, in the midst of their danger, with loud voice, 2Ch 20:19; and
here in the title, which is an appendage to that of Psalm 48, the Psalm is
called a song of praise; and it is such in reality, although it bears the
form of a prayer, --a song of triumph sung before the victory, --no
contest, no doubt, the distress is simply committed to God. The mention of the Amalekites
among the enemies of Israel, in Ps 83:7, renders it impossible to come down to
times later than that of Jehoshaphat. The last remains of the Amalekites were,
according to 1Ch 4:43, rooted out by the Simeonites, under Hezekiah. From that
time they disappear altogether from history. Ewald's assertion that Amalek
stands here "only as a name of infamy applied to parties well known at the
time, "is to be considered as a miserable shift. The Psalm must have been
composed previous to the extension of the empire of the Assyrians over Western
Asia. For the Assyrians named last, in the eighth verse, appear here in the very
extraordinary character of an ally of the sons of Lot. E. W. Hengstenberg.
Verse 1. Keep not thou silence, O God. In
Scripture there are three reasons why the Lord keeps silence when his
people are in danger, and sits still when there is most need to give help
and assistance. One is, the Lord doth it to try their faith, as we
clearly see, Mt 8:24, where it is said that our Lord Christ was asleep:
There arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered
with the waves: but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him,
saying, Lord, save us: we perish. We read more fully in Mark 4 and Luke 8,
he left them, when the ship was covered with waves, and they were rowing for
their lives, their Lord was asleep the while, and he said to them, Why
are ye so fearful? how is it that you have no faith? And he arose, and rebuked
the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there
was a great calm. Truly, the Lord will not suffer his people to be overwhelmed,
that is certain, but he will suffer them to come very near, that the waves cover
them, and fear and horror shall cover their souls, and all to try their faith.
. . . I find another reason in Isaiah 59, and that is, the
Lord doth keep silence in the midst of the troubles of his people, to try
men's uprightness of heart. For if God should always appear for his
cause, God and his cause should have many favourites and friends; but
sometimes God leaves his cause, and leaves his people, and leaves his gospel,
and his ordinances to the wide world, to see who will plead for it and stick
to it. . . . There is a third reason: God, as it were, keeps
silence in the midst of the greatest troubles, that he may, as it were, gather
the wicked into one faggot, into one bundle, that they may be destroyed
together. There is a great deal of ado to "gather the
saints" in this world; and truly there is some ado to gather the wicked.
So God withdraws himself from his people, yet he hath a hook within
their hearts, he holds them up secretly by his Spirit, that they shall not
leave him; yet the world shall not see but that God hath quite left
them, and all their ordinances and his gospel and everything; and there the
wicked come together and insult, whereby God may come upon them at
once, and destroy them, as we find ten nations in the Psalm. And so in
Genesis God stirs up the nations against Abraham and his posterity, and there
are ten nations that God promised to cut off before Abraham at once, the
Perizzites, and the Jebusites, and the Canaanites, etc. So God heaps them
together, and burns them like stubble. Those that burn stubble have rakes,
and they gather it to heaps, and then they fire it. This is the way
of God's keeping silence among his people, and sitting still in
the midst of their miseries, thus God gathers their enemies in heaps as
stubble, that he may burn them together. Gualter (Walter) Cradock, in
"Divine Drops." 1650.
Verse 1. Keep not thou silence, etc. The Hebrew
words have great emphasis, and express the main causes of
silence--closing the mouth, deafness of the ears, and a tranquility maintained
to such an extent as to reject all disquietude.
The first clause, let not thy mouth
be closed, and thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, immovably, properly
denotes, from the inherent force of the word jqs
whose root means to fix to and compact firmly, what is fastened with lime
or daubed with plaster...
The second clause, be not thou deaf, properly pertains
to the ears, as Mic 7:16, Their ears shall be deaf. The third, be not
still, suggests the course of the thoughts of the mind when it is brought to
a state of clear tranquility, all cares and commotions being laid aside. The
word (Heb.) is properly to settle, to settle down, as when the disturbed
dregs of liquor settle down and seek the bottom, whence it is applied to the
mind when freed from a great fermentation of cares and the sediments of
anxieties and bitterness, a mind serene, clear, and refined...
Let us now see what the poet had in mind when he poured out
these prayers, or what he wished to indicate. He hinted, that the people were
reduced to these earnest entreaties, because unless God should speedily bring
help to them, it might seem that Jehovah, the God of Israel, is like the false
gods, a sort of deity, either mute, or deaf, or at his ease. Hermann Venema.
Verse 1. Is the Lord silent? Then be not thou silent;
but cry unto him till he breaks the silence. Starke, in Lange's Bibelwerk.
Verse 1. The reference to tumult in the
following verse gives force to the earnest appeal in this. Amidst all the tumult
of gathering foes, he earnestly calls on God to break his silence, and to speak
to them in wrath. W. Wilson.
Verse 2. For, lo. The prayer begins with the
particle lo, which has not only the force of arousing God, but
also give the idea of something present, with the view of pointing out
the opportune moment for God to gird himself for the work. Hermann Venema.
Verse 2. Thine enemies make a tumult. The whole
world is but like an army, a brigade of men (as it were) under a general;
and God is the Lord of Hosts, that is the Lord of his armies:
now when there is a tumult in an army, they complain to the officers, to
the general especially; and he must come and suppress it. Therefore,
saith he, Thou Lord of hosts, thou art general of the world; lo, there is a tumult
in the world, a mutiny. Walter Cradock.
Verse 3. Thy hidden ones. This representation of
God's people is worthy our notice. It may be taken two ways. First, As referring
to their safety. We often hide only to preserve. This is the meaning of
the word in the parable, with regard to the discovery of the treasure in the
field; "which, when a man hath found, he hideth it." His aim is not to
conceal but to secure; and the cause is put for the effect. Thus God's people
are hidden. He hid Noah in the Ark, and the waters that drowned the world could
not find him. When his judgments were coming over the land, "Come,
my people, "saith he, "enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy
doors about thee: hide thee also for a little season, until the indignation be
overpast." Hence the promise, "Thou shalt hide them in the secret of
thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion
from the strife of tongues." Hence the confidence expressed by David,
"In the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of
his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me upon a rock." The Saviour
could say, "In the shadow of his hand hath he hid me." And, "All
the saints are in his hand." They are kept by the power of God, through
faith, unto salvation. For he himself is their "refuge, "their
"hiding place." They are his hidden ones. Secondly. As
intimating their concealment. This is not absolute. But it holds in
various respects and degrees. It is true with regard to the nature of the spiritual
life. Our life, says the Apostle, is hid with Christ in God; and that he
refers to its invisibleness, rather than to its safety, is obvious from the
words following: "When he who is our life shall appear, we also
shall appear with him in glory." ...The heart of the believer only
knows his own bitterness; and a stranger intermeddleth not with his joy. The
manna on which he feeds is hidden manna. And no one knoweth the new name in the
white stone given him, but the receiver... They are sometimes hidden by persecution.
For though this does not prevent their being Christians, it hinders them from
appearing as such; especially by secluding them from their social and public
assemblies... They are sometimes hidden by the obscurity of their stations. Not
many of the wise, and mighty, and noble are called: but when they are
called they are also exhibited. They are like cities set on hills, which
cannot be hid. A little religion in high life goes a great way, and is much
talked of, because it is so often a strange thing. But God has chosen the poor
of this world; and they are often rich in faith. Yet how is their moral wealth
to be known? How few opportunities have they for religious display or exertion!
There may be the principle of benevolence, where there is no ability to give.
And the Lord seeth the heart, but men can only judge from actions. Many who are
great in the sight of the Lord are living in cottages and hovels; and are
scarcely known, unless to a few neighbours equally obscure. They are sometimes
hidden by their disposition. They are reserved, and shrink back from
notice. They are timid and self diffident. This restrains them in religious
conversation, especially as it regards their own experience. This keeps them
from making a profession of religion, and joining a Christian church. Joseph of
Arimathaea was a disciple of Jesus; but secretly, for fear of the Jews. And
Nicodemus, from the same cause, came to Jesus by night. They had difficulties in
their situations, from which others were free. They ought to have overcome them;
and so they did at last, but it was a day of small things with them at first.
Others are circumstanced and tried in a similar way: and we must be patient
towards all men. They are sometimes hidden by their infirmities. We would
not plead for sin; but grace may be found along with many imperfections. The
possessors have what is essential to religion in them; but not everything that
is ornamental, and lovely, and of good report. The same will also apply to errors.
Here, again, we are far from undervaluing divine truth. It is a good thing that
the heart be established with grace. But it is impossible for us to say how much
ignorance, and how many mistakes, may be found, even in the Israelites indeed,
in whom there is no guile. William Jay.
Verse 3. The less the world knows thee, the better for
thee; thou mayest be satisfied with this one thing--God knows them that are
his: not lost, although hidden is the symbol of a Christian. Frisch,
in Lange's Bibelwerk.
Verse 4. That the name of Israel may be no more in
remembrance. This desperate and dreadful scheme, and wretched design of
theirs, took not effect; but, on the contrary, the several nations hereafter
mentioned, who were in this conspiracy, are no more, and have not had a name in
the world for many hundreds of years; whilst the Jews are still a people and are
preserved, in order to be called and saved, as all Israel will be in the latter
day, Ro 11:25. So Diocletian thought to have rooted the Christian name out of
the world; but in vain. John Gill.
Verse 5. For they have consulted together with one
consent. Margin, as in Hebrew, heart. There is no division in their
counsels on this subject. They have one desire --one purpose
--in regard to the matter. Pilate and Herod were made friends together against
Christ (Lu 23:12); and the world divided and hostile in other matters, has been
habitually united in its opposition to Christ and to a pure and spiritual
religion. Albert Barnes.
Verse 5. They have consulted together with one
consent, etc. To push on this unholy war, they lay their heads together, and
their horns, and their hearts too. Fas est et ab hoste doceri. Do the
enemies of the church act with one consent to destroy it? Are the kings of the
earth of one mind to give their power and honour to the beast? And shall not the
church's friends be unanimous in serving her interests? If Herod and Pilate are
made friends that they may join in crucifying Christ, sure Paul and Barnabas,
Paul and Peter, will soon be made friends, that they may join in preaching
Christ. Matthew Henry.
They have consulted together, etc. Though there
may fall out a private grudge betwixt such as are wicked, yet they will all
agree and unite against the saints: if two greyhounds are snarling at a bone,
yet put up a hare between them, and they will leave the bone, and follow after
the hare; so, if wicked men have private differences amongst themselves, yet if
the godly be near them, they will leave snarling at one another, and will pursue
after the godly. Thomas Watson.
They are confederate against thee. "They
have made a covenant, "vtyrkytyrk berith
yachriths, "they have cut the covenant sacrifice." They have slain
an animal, divided him in twain, and passed between the pieces of the victim;
and have thus bound themselves to accomplish their purpose. Adam Clarke.
Verse 6. The tabernacle of Edom, etc. The prophet having
entered his suit and complaint in general, he comes to particulars, and tells
God who they are that had done this. God might say, Who are these that conspire
against me, and against my people, and hidden ones? Lord, saith the prophet, I
will tell thee who they are... He names some ten nations that joined
together against one poor Israel. It is a thing you should observe, that
when the people of God are conspired against, God rests not in general
complaints, but he will know who they are. As I told you, He is the
Lord of Hosts, the great general. When there is mutiny the general asks,
what officer, or what corporal, or what sergeant, or who did begin the mutiny?
and it is a fearful thing when the poor persecuted saint shall bring thy name as
a persecutor before the God of heaven. When a poor saint shall go home and say,
There is a confederacy in London, a conspiracy against the saints of God; and
when a poor saint shall say, such a magistrate, such a minister, such a man in
such a street, such a woman set her husband against the saints, and against
thine ordinances; it is a fearful thing. Therefore I remember a blessed woman,
if it be true that is reported of her in the Book of Martyrs, that
when the wicked abused her, and reproached her, and oppressed her, she would say
no more but this, "I will go home and tell my Father" give over, or
else I will bring your names before God, and tell him: there was all, and that
was enough; for he would presently take it up. A man may better bear a pound of
dirt on his feet, than a grain of dirt in his eye; the saints are
"the apple of God's eye." Walter Cradock.
Verse 6. Hagarenes. These people dwelt on the east
of Gilead; and were nearly destroyed in the days of Saul, being totally expelled
from their country, 1Ch 5:10, but afterwards recovered some strength and
consequence. Adam Clarke.
Verses 6-8. It may be observed that these were on all sides
of the land of Israel; the Edomites, Ishmaelites, and Amalekites, were on the
south; the Moabites, Ammonites, and Hagarenes, were on the east; the Assyrians
on the north; and the Philistines, Gebalites, and Tyrians, on the west; so that
Israel was surrounded on all sides with enemies, as the Lord's people are
troubled on every side, 2Ch 4:8; and so the Gog and Magog army, of which some
understand this, will encompass the camp of the saints about, and the beloved
city, Re 20:9. John Gill.
Verses 6-8. The enemies of Israel, as enumerated by the
psalmist, fall into four main divisions: 1st, those most nearly connected with
the Israelites themselves by the ties of blood relationship, the descendants of
Esau and Ishmael; 2ndly, the two branches of the descendants of Lot along with
their respective Arabian auxiliaries, viz., the Moabites, who had engaged the
assistance of the Hagarenes, and the Ammonites, who had gathered round their
standard the Giblites and Amalekites; 3rdly, the inhabitants of the coast, the
Philistines and Tyrians; 4thly, the more distant Assyrians. Of all these the
bitterest in their hostility to Israel were those who were the most nearly
allied to them in blood, --the Edomites. Their hostility was founded upon
hatred. From their conduct to the Israelites through a long course of years it
would seem as though in them were lastingly perpetuated that older hatred
wherewith their forefather Essau had hated Jacob because of Isaac's blessing.
And though they had once and again succeeded, according to the prophecy, in
breaking Israel's yoke from off their neck, yet they never could wrest away from
Israel the possession of the birthright, and with it of the promises, which
their ancestors had profanely despised; from Israel, not from Edom, was the
Redeemer of the world to spring, and in Israel were all the families of the
earth to be blessed. The Edomites may accordingly be appropriately viewed as the
types of those whom the Church of Christ has ever found her bitterest foes, the
sceptics who have refused to acknowledge that redemption through a personal
Redeemer, on which, as on a basis, the church is founded, whose intellectual
pride is offended by the humbling doctrines of Christianity, and who hate those
that hold them for their possession of blessings which they have wilfully
neglected; whose human learning has nevertheless all along been subservient on
the whole to the edification of the church, in spite of the violence with which
they have striven, and for a while, as it should sometimes appear, successfully,
to gain the mastery over her by opposing her, and to exercise a temporary
dominion. Dwelling themselves in tabernacles, they cannot bear that others, more
blessed that they, should have the houses of God in possession: "owning
themselves to be astray, and unable to find the way to the truth, they are yet
most importunate and imperious that others should come away from the ancient
paths, and try to join them, or at least, wander as they are wandering." In
conjunction with the Edomites, the psalmist makes mention of the Ishmaelites.
And these, as the descendants of the bondwoman, may fitly represent those Jewish
opponents of Christianity, still, perhaps, locally, if not generally,
formidable, who in their rejection of Christian doctrine have been swayed by the
same feelings of intellectual pride as the sceptics of Christian descent; who
professing to hold fast to that covenant of Mount Sinai which gendereth to
bondage, persecuted, so long as they were able, those born after the Spirit.
In the descendants of Lot and their Arabian auxiliaries, we
have the types of a different class of foes. The historical origin of the former
marks them as the appropriate representatives of the slaves of sinful lusts; who
hate the church not for the humbling tone of her doctrines, but for the standard
of holiness which she exacts and for which she is continually witnessing. And
experience shews how such persons are wont, in their attacks upon the church, to
enlist into their service those who are more wildly, but at the same time more
ignorantly, unholy than themselves; how in order, if possible, to uproot those
fences and safeguards of the law of holiness on which, having transgressed them,
they hate to look, they appeal to the unbridled passions of the lawless
multitude by whom the very existence of the fences had been utterly disregarded.
From the enemies of the Church who are animated by feelings of positive hatred
we pass to those who act from calculation rather than passion, and whose
proceeding are all directed with a view to their own earthly aggrandisement. The
Philistines and Tyrians had engaged in the hostile confederacy with the hope of
obtaining Israelitish captives, from whom they might reap a profit by selling
them abroad as slaves. It does not appear that they regarded the Israelites in
themselves with other feelings than those of mere selfish indifference. Both
nations had tendered their service to Israel in the days of Israel's prosperity;
for the Philistines had probably furnished the Cherethites and Pelethites of
David's body guard, and the Tyrians had furnished Solomon with materials and
workmen for the building of the temple: both nations were now seeking to enrich
themselves at Israel's expense in the days of Israel's adversity. And these then
are the fitting types of all who in their varying professions of friendliness or
hostility to the Church of God are actuated by the mere mercenary desire of
lucre; favouring, and even zealously favouring her interests, when they can
procure a good recompense for their services; unhesitatingly combining with her
bitterest enemies to vilify and despoil her, whenever the opportunity offers of
increasing their worldly substance thereby. The last class of enemies are those
of whom Assyria is the type; the worldly potentates, whether ecclesiastical or
temporal, papal or imperial, who are unscrupulously ready to employ all means
for the ultimate accomplishment of their one object, that of extending and
consolidating their dominion. Such potentates seem to represent most truly that determined
and resolute selfishness, which, to eyes that are not dazzled by the grandeur of
its proportions or the gorgeousness in which it is arrayed, must ever appear as
one of the most terrible embodiments of the enmity of the world to God. Pride of
intellect and unbelief, -- unholiness and lawlessness of life, --covetousness,
--worldly ambition, --such are the characteristics of four important classes
of those by whom God's church is threatened. Joseph Francis Thrupp.
Verse 7. Gebal.
1. It is generally supposed to indicate the mountainous
tract extending from the Dead Sea southward to Petra, still named Jebal.
But some of the best writers identify it with No. 2, as mentioned in
conjunction with Tyre.
2. A place spoken of in connection with Tyre, Eze 27:9.
Most probably the residence of the Giblites, and therefore to the north of
Palestine, Jos 13:5. The Giblites were employed by Hiram, king of Tyre, in
preparing materials for Solomon's temple, 1Ki 5:18, margin. The Greek name of
this place was Byblus. The town is called Jebeil, and has a population
of about six hundred. It is about seventeen miles north of Beyroot. The
ancient ruins are very extensive. Immense numbers of granite columns are
strewn about in the village and over the surrounding fields. These columns are
mostly small, varying from one foot to two feet in diameter. Some of the
stones measure nearly twenty feet in length. The citadel is the most
remarkable ruin. The port is nearly choked up with sand and ruins. George
H. Whitney's "Hand Book of Bible Geography." 1872
Verse 8. Assur also, etc. This determines the date of this
Psalm to the latter times of the Jewish kingdom; for the other nations here
mentioned had molested them before, but the Assyrians not till towards the end. William
Wall, 1645 or 1646-1727-8.
Verse 9. Do unto them as unto the Midianites. That is,
dash their heads together, make their policies to cross one another. Walter
The brook of Kison. The river Kishon traverses
the plain (of Esdraelon) and terminates in the Bay of Acre or Akka. This is the
stream regarding which it is written, after Barak and Deborah had gained their
victory over Sisera, "The river of Kishon swept them away, that ancient
river, the river Kishon. O my soul, thou hast trodden down strength."
Although it is now no insignificant stream, yet it needs heavy rains to make it
really considerable in magnitude: it is very unequal in size, and seems to be
only temporary in its character. At any rate, when Robinson passed its head
waters in midsummer, he found the channels all dry, and they had been so for a
whole year. On the other hand, in the winter the waters are often exceedingly
abundant; particularly in the northern and southern chief tributaries; so that,
in 1799, at the time of the French invasion, many of the vanquished Turks
perished in the floods which swept down from Deburieh, and which inundated the
plain. It was a scene like that described in Judges 5 regarding the fate of
Sisera's hosts. Carl Ritter (1779-1859), in "The Comparative Geography
of Palestine and the Sinaitic Peninsula." Translated by William L.
Verse 10. They became as dung for the earth. The land was
enriched or made fertile by their flesh, their blood, and their bones. Albert
They became as dung for the earth. In the year
1830, it is estimated that more than a million bushels of "human and
inhuman bones" were imported from the continent of Europe into the port of
Hull. The neighbourhood of Leipsic, Austerlitz, Waterloo, etc., where the
principal battles were fought some fifteen or twenty years before, were swept
alike of the bones of the hero, and the horse which he rode. Thus collected from
every quarter, they were shipped to Hull, and thence forwarded to the Yorkshire
bone grinders, who, by steam engines and powerful machinery, reduced them to a
granulary state. In this condition they were sent chiefly to Doncaster, one of
the largest agricultural markets of the country, and were there sold to the
farmers to manure their lands. The oily substance gradually evolving as the bone
calcines, makes better manure than almost any other substance--particularly
human bones. K. Arvine.
Verse 11. The word nobles is placed in antithesis
with the names Oreb and Zeeb. The word mykyrg
nobles, denotes properly liberal, munificent, and beneficent men,
such as princes and potentates ought to be among men, but the names Oreb
and Zeeb have the very opposite signification, for the one signifies a raven,
the other a wolf. When into such rapacious and truculent beasts their
nobles have degenerated, as a just reward the hostile shock shall come upon
them. Hermann Venema.
Verse 13. A wheel. What sort of vegetable is this whose
stems our muleteers are cutting up and chewing with so much relish? It is a wild
artichoke. We can amuse ourselves with it and its behaviour for a while, and may
possibly extract something more valuable than the insipid juice of which our men
are so fond. You observe than in growing it throws out numerous branches of
equal size and length in all directions, forming a sort of sphere or globe a
foot or more in diameter. When ripe and dry in autumn, these branches become
rigid and light as a feather, the parent stem breaks off at the ground, and the
wind carries these vegetable globes whithersoever it pleaseth. At the proper
season thousands of them come scudding over the plain rolling, leaping, bounding
with vast racket, to the dismay both of the horse and his rider. Once, on the
plain north of Hamath, my horse became quite unmanageable among them. They
charged down upon us on the wings of the wind, which broke them from their
moorings, and sent them careening over the desert in countless numbers. Our
excellent native itinerant, A---F---, had a similar encounter with them on the
eastern desert beyond the Hauran, and his horse was so terrified that he was
obliged to alight and lead him. I have long suspected that this wild artichoke
is the gulgal, which, in Ps 83:13, is rendered wheel, and in Isa
17:13, a rolling thing. Evidently our translators knew not what to
call it. The first passage reads thus: O my God, make them like a wheel; second, Rebuke them, and they shall flee far off, and
shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and
like a rolling thing--gulgal --before the whirlwind.
Now, from the nature of the parallelism, the gulgal cannot be a wheel,
but something corresponding to chaff. It must also be something
that does not fly like the chaff, but in a striking manner rolls
before the wind. The signification of gulgal in Hebrew and its
equivalent in other Shemitic dialects, requires this, and this rolling
artichoke meets the case most emphatically, and especially when it
rolls before the whirlwind. In the encounter referred to north of Hamath,
my eyes were half blinded with the stubble and chaff which filled the
air; but it was the extraordinary behaviour of this rolling thing
that riveted my attention. Hundreds of these globes, all bounding
like gazelles in one direction over the desert, would suddenly
wheel short round at the bidding of a counter blast, and dash away with
equal speed on their new course. An Arab proverb addresses this
"rolling thing" thus: "Ho! akkub, where do you put up
tonight?" to which it answers as it flies, "Where the wind puts up." They
also derive one of their many forms of cursing from this plant: "May you
be whirled, like the akkub, before the wind, until you are caught in the
thorns, or plunged into the sea." If this is not the wheel
of David, and the rolling thing of Isaiah, from which they also
borrowed their imprecations upon the wicked, I have seen nothing in
the country to suggest the comparison. W. M. Thomson, in "The Land and the Book."
Verse 13. Make them like a wheel. That is, cause them
to fall into such great calamities that they can find no counsel or
remedy for their misfortunes, and that they may run hither and thither
like a wheel or a ball, and yet see not where they ought to stop, ot
whither they ought to escape. Such are the minds of wicked men in
calamities, wherever they turn they find no harbour wherein to rest, no
certain consolation can they discover. They are tossed with perpetual disquietude; by running hither and thither and seeking
various remedies they but weary themselves the more and plunge
themselves the more deeply in their woes. This must necessarily happen to
those who seek to cure evil with evil. Therefore Isaiah also says, the
wicked are like the troubled sea. Mollerus.
Verse 13. Like a wheel. Mortals, like cylinders, are
rolled hither and thither, oppressed with innumerable ills. Aurea Carmina. --Pythagoras
Verse 13. There is no greater evidence against error,
than that it is not constant to itself, no greater argument against these
pretended great spirits, than that they cannot sit, know not where to
fix, are always moving, as if the psalmist's curse had taken hold of
them, as if God had made them like a wheel and as stubble before
that can sit nowhere, rest at nothing, but turn
about from one uncertainty to another. The Holy Spirit is a spirit that
will sit still, and be at peace, continue and abide. Mark Frank.
Verses 13-14. In imagery both obvious and vivid to every
native of the gusty hills and plains of Palestine, though to us
comparatively unintelligible, the psalmist describes them as driven over
the uplands of Gilead like the clouds of chaff blown from the threshing
floors; chased away like the spherical masses of dry weeds which
course over the plains of Esdraelon and Philistia--flying with the
dreadful hurry and confusion of the flames, that rush and leap from
tree and hill to hill when the wooded mountains of a tropical country
are by chance ignited. William Smith, in "A Dictionary of the Bible."
Verse 14. Mountains on fire. Many of the mountains in this
country are covered with dense forests. The leaves which fall every autumn
accumulate, sometimes for years, until we have a particularly dry summer, when,
somehow or other, either by accident or design, they are always set on fire, and
burn sometimes for several days. The mountains in one of the States of the
neighbouring Republic are on fire at this very moment while I am now writing,
and have been burning for more than a week, and we can distinctly see the red
glare in the sky above them, although from their great distance, even the tops
of the mountains themselves from whence the flames arise are beyond the limits
of our horizon. From "Philip Musgrave: or Memoirs of a Church of England
Missionary in the North American Colonies." 1846.
Fire has greater force on a mountain, where
the wind is more powerful, than upon a wood situated in a valley. Honorius
Verse 14. Humboldt saw forests on fire in South America
and thus describes them. "Several parts of the vast forests which surround
the mountain, had taken fire. Reddish flames, half enveloped in clouds of smoke,
presented a very grand spectacle. The inhabitants set fire to the forests, to
improve the pasturage, and to destroy the shrubs that choke the grass. Enormous
conflagrations, too, are often caused by the carelessness of the Indians, who
neglect, when they travel, to extinguish the fires by which they have dressed
Verse 14. Let us pray the divine aid to break this power
and enmity of the natural man; that it may yield unto the word of grace; and let
the wood, hay and stubble of all false doctrine perish before the brightness of
the face of God. Edward Walter. 1854.
Verse 18. That men may know that thou, whose name alone is
JEHOVAH, etc. Early English History informs us, that some bloodthirsty
persecutors were marching on a band of Christians. The Christians, seeing them
approaching, marched out towards them, and at the top of their voices, shouted,
"Hallelujah, hallelujah!" (Praise Jehovah). The name of the Lord being
presented, the rage of the persecutors abated. Josephus says, that the Great
Alexander, when on his triumphal march, being met near Jerusalem by the Jewish
high priest, on whose mitre was engraved the name of Jehovah, "approached
by himself and adored that name, "and was disarmed of his hostile intent.
There was significance and power in the glorious old name as written by the
Jews. But the name of Jesus is now far more mighty in the world than was the
name Jehovah in these earlier ages. "The Dictionary of Illustrations,
JEHOVAH is one of the incommunicable names of
God, which signifies his eternal essence. The Jews observe that in God's name Jehovah
the Trinity is implied. Je signifies the present tense, ho the
preterperfect tense, vah, the future. The Jews also observe that in his
name Jehovah all the Hebrew letters are literae quiescentes, that denotes
rest, implying that in God and from God is all our rest. Every gracious soul is
like Noah's dove, he can find no rest nor satisfaction but in God. God alone is
the godly man's ark of rest and safety. Jehovah is the incommunicable name of
God, and is never attributed to any but God: Thou, whose name alone is
The most high. His being the High and lofty One,
notes forth the transcendancy and super excellency of his divine being in
himself, and that it is utterly of another kind from creatures, and indeed that
it only is truly being. When the Psalmist says, That men may know that
thou, whose name alone in JEHOVAH art the MOST HIGH over all the earth, he
thereby argues his height from his name, that his name is alone Jehovah, and
therefore he is most high, and in that very respect. Now Jehovah is the name of
his essence, "I AM, " and he is MOST HIGH in respect of such a
glorious being as is proper alone unto him. Thomas Goodwin.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Verse 1. The long silence of God, the reasons for it,
and our reasons for desiring him to end it.
Verse 3. Thy hidden ones.
1. Hidden as to their new nature, which is an enigma to men.
2. Hidden for protection, as precious things.
3. Hidden, for solace and rest.
4. Hidden, because not yet fully revealed.
Verse 4. The immortality of the church.
Verse 5. The confederacies of evils against the saints.
Verses 13-15. The instability, restlessness and
impotence of the wicked; their horror when God deals with them in justice.
Verse 16. A prayer for the Pope and his priests.
Verse 17. The righteous fate of persecutors, and troublers.
Verse 18. The Golden Lesson: how taught, to whom, by whom,
WORK UPON THE EIGHTY-THIRD PSALM
"Expositions and Observations on Psalm LXXXIII.,
"in "Divine Drops distilled from the Fountain of Holy Scriptures:
delivered in several Exercises before Sermons, upon Twenty and Three Texts of
Scripture. By that worthy Gospel Preacher, GUALTER CRADOCK, late Preacher at All
Hallows Great in London... 1650."