The psalmist praises God for present mercies, 1; the Lord answers, and promises to judge the people righteously, 2,3; rebukes the proud and haughty, 4,5; shows that all authority comes from himself, 4-7; that he will punish the wicked, 8; the psalmist resolves to praise God, 9; and the Most High promises to cast down the wicked, and raise up the righteous, 9,10.
NOTES ON PSALM LXXV
The title is, "To the chief Musician, or conqueror, Al-taschith, destroy not, A Psalm or Song of Asaph." See this title Al-taschith explained Psalms 57:1. The Chaldee supposes that this Psalm was composed at the time of the pestilence, when David prayed the Lord not to destroy the people. Some of the Jews suppose that Al-taschith is the beginning of a Psalm, to the air of which this Psalm was to be set and sung. The Psalm seems to have been composed during the captivity; and appears to be a continuation of the subject in the preceding.
Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks
Thou canst not forget thy people. The numerous manifestations of thy providence and mercy show that thou art not far off, but near: this
Thy wondrous works declare.
These words would make a proper conclusion to the preceding Psalm, which seems to end very abruptly. The second verse is the commencement of the Divine answer to the prayer of Asaph.
When I shall receive the congregation
When the proper time is come that the congregation, my people of Israel, should be brought out of captivity, and received back into favour, I shall not only enlarge them, but punish their enemies. They shall be cut off and cast out, and become a more miserable people than those whom they now insult. I will destroy them as a nation, so that they shall never more be numbered among the empires of the earth.
The earth and all the inhabitants thereof are dissolved
They all depend on me; and whenever I withdraw the power by which they exist and live, they are immediately dissolved.
I bear up the pillars of it.
By the word of my power all things are upheld, and without me nothing can subsist. Those who consider this Psalm to have been written by David before he was anointed king over ALL Israel, understand the words thus: "All is at present in a state of confusion; violence and injustice reign: but when 'I shall receive the whole congregation,' when all the tribes shall acknowledge me as king, I will reorganize the whole constitution. It is true that the land and all its inhabitants are dissolved-unsettled and unconnected by the bands of civil interest. The whole system is disorganized: 'I bear up the pillars of it;' the expectation of the chief people is placed upon me; and it is the hope they have of my coming speedily to the throne of all Israel that prevents them from breaking out into actual rebellion."
I said unto the fools
I have given the idolatrous Chaldeans sufficient warning to abandon their idols, and worship the true God; but they would not. I have also charged the wicked, to whom for a season I have delivered you because of your transgressions, not to lift up their horn-not to use their power to oppress and destroy. They have, notwithstanding, abused their power in the persecutions with which they have afflicted you. For all these things they shall shortly be brought to an awful account. On the term horn, See Clarke on Luke 1:69.
Speak not with a stiff neck.
Mr. Bruce has observed that the Abyssinian kings have a horn on their diadem; and that the keeping it erect, or in a projecting form, makes them appear as if they had a stiff neck; and refers to this passage for the antiquity of the usage, and the appearance also.
For promotion cometh neither from the east,
As if the Lord had said, speaking to the Babylonians, None of all the surrounding powers shall be able to help you; none shall pluck you out of my hand. I am the Judge: I will pull you down, and set my afflicted people up, Psalms 75:7.
Calmet has observed that the Babylonians had Media, Armenia, and Mesopotamia on the EAST; and thence came Darius the Mede: that it had Arabia, Phoenicia, and Egypt on the WEST; thence came Cyrus, who overthrew the empire of the Chaldeans. And by the mountains of the desert, midbar harim, which we translate SOUTH, Persia, may be meant; which government was established on the ruins of the Babylonish empire. No help came from any of those powers to the sinful Babylonians; they were obliged to drink the cup of the red wine of God's judgment, even to the very dregs. They were to receive no other punishment; this one was to annihilate them as a people for ever.
It is full of mixture
Alluding to that mingled potion of stupefying drugs given to criminals to drink previously to their execution. See a parallel passage to this, Jeremiah 25:15-26.
I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.
These are the words of the psalmist, who magnifies the Lord for the promise of deliverance from their enemies.
All the horns of the wicked
All their power and influence, will I cut off; and will exalt and extend the power of the righteous. The psalmist is said to do these things, because he is as the mouth of God to denounce them. All was punctually fulfilled: the wicked-the Babylonians, were all cut off; the righteous-the Jews, called so from the holy covenant, which required righteousness, were delivered and exalted.
ANALYSIS OF THE SEVENTY-FIFTH PSALM
Bishop Nicholson supposes that David was the author of this Psalm; and that he composed it on his inauguration or entrance upon the kingdom; and by it he gives us an example of a good king.
There are three chief parts in this Psalm:-
I. A doxology, Psalms 75:1; repeated, ; 75:9.
II. His profession how to perform the regal office, Psalms 75:2,3,10.
III. His rebuke of foolish men for mistakes occasioned,-
1. Partly by their pride when they rise to great places, Psalms 75:4,5.
2. That they do not consider whence their preferment comes, Psalms 75:6,7.
3. That they judge not rightly of afflictions, Psalms 75:8.
I. The doxology or thanksgiving.
1. He doubles it to show that it should be frequently done: "Unto thee do we give thanks; unto thee,"
2. His reason for it: "For that thy name is near,"-thy help is always at hand. "The Lord is nigh to all that call upon him."
3. Of which he had experience in his exaltation to the kingdom, which he calls God's "wondrous works."
II. How the office of a good king is to be discharged.
1. I will judge uprightly.
2. To rectify disorders. They had need of a just and upright king. 1. The land and its inhabitants were disorganized. 2. He was the only stay and support of the state: "I bear up the pillars."
III. His rebuke of bad men.
1. They were fools, and dealt unjustly.
2. Wicked, and vaunted their wealth and power.
3. They used their power to oppress.
4. They were obstinate in their oppression of the poor. He refers to their false judgments.
1. They supposed that their authority and influence came by their own merit; and for them they were accountable to none.
2. They did not consider that God was the author of power,
3. Their third mistake was, they imputed afflictions to a wrong cause, and did not consider that they came from God.
To show this, the Psalmist uses an elegant comparison, comparing God to the master of a feast, who invites and entertains all kinds of men at his table; who has a cup of mixed wine in his hand, by which he represents the miseries of this life. To all God reaches this cup; and every one drinks of it, some more, some less.
1. "In the hand of the Lord there is a cup." He apportions the afflictions of men.
2. "The wine is red." The high-coloured feculent wine, i.e., afflictions.
3. "It is full of mixture," not all sour, nor sweet, nor bitter. The strength of it is tempered by God to the circumstances of his creatures.
4. "He poureth out of the same." He gives to all, some even to his own children. ALL must drink of this cup.
5. But the lees or dregs of it "all the wicked of the earth shall wring out." Those who are incorrigible have afflictions without benefit; they wring the dregs out. On them God's judgments fall without mitigation.
He concludes the Psalm with-
1. A repetition of his thanks: "I will declare for ever; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob."
2. A protestation of his duty: 1. "I will cut off the horns of the wicked." 2. "I will exalt the horns of the righteous." Those who exalt themselves shall be abased: those who humble themselves shall be exalted.
Tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento, (Hae tibi erunt artes) pacisque imponere morem; Parcere subjectis, et debellare superbos. VIRG. AEn. lib. vi., ver. 851.
"But, Rome, 'tis thine alone, with awful sway To rule mankind, and make the world obey, Disposing peace and war thy own majestic way: To tame the proud, the fettered slave to free: These are imperial arts, and worthy thee." DRYDEN.
These lines of the Roman poet contain precisely the same sentiment that is expressed in the tenth verse of the Psalm. And thus God acts in the government of the world, dealing with nations as they have dealt with others: so the conquerors are conquered; the oppressed, raised to honour and dominion.