The psalmist shows the duty and advantage of praising God, 1-3; speaks of the grandeur of God's works, 4-6; the fall of the wicked, 7-9; the happiness of the righteous, 10-14; and all this founded on the perfections of God. NOTES ON PSALM XCII
The title, A Psalm or Song for the Sabbath, gives no information concerning the time, occasion, or author. The Chaldee, has "Praise, and a song which the first man spoke concerning the Sabbath:" but this is an idle conceit; and, though entertained by some rabbins, has been followed by none of the Versions. Calmet supposes the Psalm to have been composed by some of the Levites during or near the close of the Babylonish captivity, acknowledging the mercy of God, and foreseeing the desolation of their enemies, and their own return to Jerusalem, and their temple service.
It is a good thing to give thanks
This Psalm begins very abruptly. Good to confess unto the Lord. He had been acknowledging God's goodness, and praising him for his mercy; and now he breaks out and tells how good he felt this employment to be.
To show forth thy loving-kindness
chasdecha, thy abundant mercy, in the morning-that has preserved me throughout the night, and brought me to the beginning of a new day: and thy faithfulness in the night, that has so amply fulfilled the promise of preservation during the course of the day. This verse contains a general plan for morning and evening prayer.
Upon an instrument of ten strings
Eusebius, in his comment on this Psalm, says: ψαλτηριονδεδεκαχορδονητουαγιου πνευματοςδιατωναισθητηριωνπεντεμεντουσωματοςισαριθμωνδε τηςψυχηςδυναμεωνεπιτελουμενηλατρεια "The Psaltery of ten strings is the worship of the Holy Spirit, performed by means of the five senses of the body, and by the five powers of the soul." And, to confirm this interpretation, he quotes the apostle, 1 Corinthians 14:15: "I will pray with the spirit, and with the understanding also; I will sing with the spirit, and with the understanding also." "As the mind has its influence by which it moves the body, so the spirit has its own influence by which it moves the soul." Whatever may be thought of this gloss, one thing is pretty evident from it, that instrumental music was not in use in the Church of Christ in the time of Eusebius, which was near the middle of the fourth century. Had any such thing then existed in the Christian Church, he would have doubtless alluded to or spiritualized it; or, as he quoted the words of the apostle above, would have shown that carnal usages were substituted for spiritual exercises. I believe the whole verse should be translated thus: Upon the asur, upon the nebel, upon the higgayon, with the kinnor. Thus it stands in the Hebrew.
For thou, Lord, hast made me glad through thy work
I am delighted with thy conduct towards me; with the work of thy providence, the works of thy grace, and thy works of creation.
How great are thy works!
They are multitudinous, stupendous, and splendid: and thy thoughts-thy designs and counsels, from which, by which, and in reference to which, they have been formed; are very deep-so profound as not to be fathomed by the comprehension of man.
A brutish man knoweth not
ish baar, the human hog-the stupid bear-the boor; the man who is all flesh; in whom spirit or intellect neither seems to work nor exist. The brutish man, who never attempts to see God in his works.
Neither doth a fool understand this.
kesil, the fool, is different from baar, the brutish man; the latter has mind, but it is buried in flesh; the former has no mind, and his stupidity is unavoidable.
When the wicked spring as the grass
This is a lesson which is frequently inculcated in the sacred writings. The favour of God towards man is not to be known by outward prosperity; nor is his disapprobation to be known by the adverse circumstances in which any person may be found. When, however, we see the wicked flourish, we may take for granted that their abuse of God's mercies will cause him to cut them off as cumberers of the ground; and, dying in their sins, they are destroyed for ever.
High for evermore.
They are brought down and destroyed; but the Lord is exalted eternally, both for his judgments and his mercies.
Like the horn of a unicorn.
reeym, perhaps here, the oryx or buffalo. But the rhinoceros seems to be the real monoceros of the Scriptures.
I shall be anointed with fresh oil.
Perhaps the allusion is here not to any sacramental anointing, but to such anointings as were frequent among the Asiatics, especially after bathing, for the purpose of health and activity.
Mine eye also shall see,-and mine ears shall hear
Even in my own times my enemies shall be destroyed; and of this destruction I shall either be an eye-witness or have authentic information.
The righteous shall flourish like the palm-tree
Very different from the wicked, Psalms 92:7, who are likened to grass. These shall have a short duration; but those shall have a long and useful life. They are compared also to the cedar of Lebanon, an incorruptible wood, and extremely long-lived. Mr. Maundrell, who visited those trees in 1697, describes them thus: "These noble trees grow among the snow, near the highest part of Lebanon. Some are very old, and of prodigious bulk. I measured one of the largest, and found it twelve yards six inches in girt, and yet sound; and thirty-seven yards in the spread of its boughs. At about five or six yards from the ground, it was divided into five limbs, each of which was equal to a large tree." Some of these trees are supposed to have lived upwards of one thousand years! The figure of the palm-tree gives us the idea of grandeur and usefulness. The fruit of the palm-tree makes a great part of the diet of the people of Arabia, part of Persia, and Upper Egypt. The stones are ground down for the camels; the leaves are made into baskets; the hard boughs, or rather strong leaves, some being six or eight feet in length, make fences; the juice makes arrack; the threads of the web-like integument between the leaves make ropes, and the rigging of small vessels; and the wood serves for slighter buildings and fire-wood. In short, the palm or date tree, and the olive, are two of the most excellent and useful productions of the forest or the field.
The cedar gives us the idea of majesty, stability, durableness, and incorruptibility. To these two trees, for the most obvious reasons, are the righteous compared. William Lithgow, who travelled through the holy land about A.D. 1600, describes the cedars of Mount Lebanon as "being in number twenty-four, growing after the manner of oaks, but a great deal taller straighter, and thicker, and the branches growing so straight, and interlocking, as though they were kept by art: and yet from the root to the top they bear no boughs, but grow straight and upwards like to a palm-tree. Their circle-spread tops do kiss or embrace the lower clouds, making their grandeur overlook the highest bodies of all other aspiring trees. The nature of this tree is, that it is always green, yielding an odoriferous smell, and an excellent kind of fruit, like unto apples, but of a sweeter taste, and more wholesome. The roots of some of these cedars are almost destroyed by the shepherds, who have made fires thereat, and holes where they sleep; yet nevertheless they flourish green above, in the tops and branches."-Lithgow's 17 years' Travels, 4to., London, 1640.
Those that be planted in the house of the Lord
I believe the Chaldee has the true meaning here: "His children shall be planted in the house of the sanctuary of the Lord, and shall flourish in the courts of our God." As these trees flourish in their respective soils and climates, so shall the righteous in the ordinances of God. I do not think there is any allusion to either palm-trees or cedars, planted near the tabernacle or temple.
They shall still bring forth fruit in old age
They shall continue to grow in grace, and be fruitful to the end of their lives. It is a rare case to find a man in old age full of faith, love, and spiritual activity.
To show that the Lord is upright
Such persons show how faithful God is to his promises, how true to his word, how kind to them who trust in him. He is the Rock, the Fountain, whence all good comes.
There is no unrighteousness in him.
He does nothing evil, nothing unwise, nothing unkind. He is both just and merciful.
ANALYSIS OF THE NINETY-SECOND PSALM
I. A general proposition, Psalms 92:1: "It is good to give thanks to the Lord," which is explained Psalms 92:2,3, and applied Psalms 92:4.
II. A particular narration of such works, in which the goodness and faithfulness of God do especially consist, viz., the creation and government of the world, Psalms 92:4,5. And of the last he gives two instances:-
1. One in wicked men; of their stupidity, Psalms 92:6. Then of their sudden extirpation, Psalms 92:7-9.
2. Another in the godly, whose prosperity is great, Psalms 92:10-14, and security certain, ; 92:15.
I. He begins with a maxim: 1. "It is good," i.e., just, profitable, pleasant, and commendable, "to give thanks to the Lord." 2. "And to sing praises (with heart and tongue) to thy glorious name, O thou Most High."
And both parts he explains. 1. That we give thanks at all times, morning and evening, in prosperity and in adversity; and in our praises especially to remember his loving-kindness and faithfulness. These must be the matter of our thanksgiving: "It is good to show forth thy loving-kindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night," Psalms 92:2; and by all manner of means, Psalms 92:3.
And thus the maxim being proposed and explained, he applies it to himself, and shows his own practice, and the reason of it: "For thou, Lord, hast made me glad through thy work; I will triumph in the works of thy hands," Psalms 92:4.
1. "Thou hast made me glad." He was first delighted and affected with God's work.
2. And then he exults and triumphs in it. The heart must be first truly affected with the work of God before a man shall take any true content or delight in it.
II. He had made mention of the works of God; and now he farther opens what they are: First, The creation of the universe; Secondly, His especial providence in ordering the things of this world, particularly about man.
1. First, he begins with the work of creation, upon which he enters, not with less than an admiration: "O Lord, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep." As if he said, I cannot be satisfied in the contemplation of them. There is such a depth in them, that I cannot attain to it, nor comprehend it.
2. And he ends it, not without an indignation, that the wise men of the world, who yet in his judgment, for their disregard of it, are but fools, should not consider it. In the creature they look after nothing but profit and pleasure, in which regard they are but fools. For this brutish man knows not how great are his works; this fool understands not how deep are his cogitations.
And that he may illustrate their folly the more, from the work of creation he comes to God's work of governance of the world; and shows, that as they who would be and are reputed wise, are mistaken in the one, so also they are mistaken in the other; for they think the ungodly, and such as flourish in power and wealth, happy, and that the righteous men, sometimes oppressed, are unhappy: and upon these two instances, he insists to the end of the Psalm. First, he instances the ungodly: When the wicked spring up-rise on a sudden, (for such a time there is,) as the grass, that grows insensibly and in a night; and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish-become very conspicuous, exalted in power and pride, and abound in wealth; who would not now take them for happy men? No, saith our prophet, it is not so.
1. This their felicity is the greatest infelicity: It is, "that they may perish," be destroyed.
2. "That they may perish for ever." Remember the rich man in the Gospel.
3. And this their destruction is from God, that sits on the throne, and is immutable in his decrees and ways. They flourish and are exalted: but it is but for a moment: "But thou, Lord, art most high for evermore." And thou wilt execute thy decree upon them.
4. Which the prophet fully opens in the next verse, which the epizeuxis makes more emphatical: "For, lo, thine enemies, O Lord, for, lo, thine enemies shall perish; and all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered."
1, Behold, they were green, they flourished: but the change shall be sudden.
2. They were enemies, thy enemies, workers of iniquity; therefore cursed with a curse.
3. "They shall perish, they shall be scattered;" they rose, they flourished as grass, and they shall be scattered as dry grass, which the wind blows from the face of the earth.
His second instance is the godly, whose happy condition he demonstrates, 1. In hypothesi, or in himself, Psalms 92:10,11; and, 2. In thesi; in all others that be true members of the mystical Church of Christ, Psalms 92:12-15.
He instanceth in himself, that his condition is not like the ungodly. He shot not up as the fading grass, but his strength and power should be as a unicorn.
1. "But my horn shalt thou exalt as the horn of a unicorn;" that is, my power, and glory, and felicity shall still mount higher.
2. "And I shall be anointed with fresh oil." Anointed to be king over Israel, by Samuel, with a horn of oil;-by God, with the gracious oil of his Spirit.
3. And that which adds to my flourishing estate: "My eye shall see my desire upon my enemies, and my ears shall hear my desire of the wicked that rise up against me;" which David lived to see and hear in the ruin of Saul and his house.
And that which the prophet said of himself he now transfers to all just and righteous men, whom he compares to the palm and cedar.
1. "The righteous shall flourish like a palm-tree." So a good Christian; the greater weight he carries, the more he flourishes.
2. "He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon Cedar-wood is not consumed by worms or time; nor the Church by antiquity nor persecution. The gates of hell shall not prevail against it, nor any true member of it.
Of which the reason is, because these palms and cedars-these righteous men, are planted, set by faith, watered by the word and sacraments, rooted by charity in the Church, which is the house of the Lord; and therefore they shall flourish-be green and vigorous, in the courts of our God.
Nay, which is yet more, they shall be full of sap and laden with fruit.
1. "They shall bring forth fruit in their old age." It shall be contrary to them, as with other trees. Those grow fruitless, and bear not when they grow old; these are then most laden with the fruits of grace.
2. "They shall be fat and flourishing." Other trees, when old, are hard and dry; these then are fat in juice, and flourish in good works.
3. And the reason of this vigour, of the continuance of this radical and vital moisture to old age, is, that they bring forth fruit, which is specified in the last verse: "That they might show forth God's faithfulness, praise him for that," as it is in the second verse. 1. "That they might show that the Lord is upright,"-just and righteous in himself. 2. "That he is a Rock,"-a sure, stable foundation to trust to. 3. "And that there is no unrighteousness in him,"-no injustice; though for a time he suffer the wicked to flourish, and the just to be under the cross. For in his good time he will show his justice in rewarding the just, and punishing the unjust.