Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
This is a Psalm-song (see on
title), perhaps suggested by David's victories, which secured his
throne and gave rest to the nation. In general terms, the judgment of
God on the wicked, and the equity and goodness of His government to the
pious, are celebrated. The sentiment is illustrated by examples of
God's dealings, cited from the Jewish history and related in highly
poetical terms. Hence the writer intimates an expectation of equal and
even greater triumphs and summons all nations to unite in praises of
the God of Israel. The Psalm is evidently typical of the relation which
God, in the person of His Son, sustains to the Church (compare
Ps 1:4; 22:14,
on the figures here used.
before him--as in
from His presence, as dreaded; but in
in His presence, as under His protection
3. the righteous--all truly pious, whether of Israel or not.
4. extol him . . . heavens--literally, "cast up for Him who rideth
in the deserts," or "wilderness" (compare
alluding to the poetical representation of His leading His people in
the wilderness as a conqueror, before whom a way is to be prepared, or
"cast up" (compare
Isa 40:3; 62:10).
by his name JAH--or, "Jehovah," of which it is a contraction
(Ps 9:10; 20:1),
5, 6. are illustrated by the protection to the helpless, vindication
of the innocent, and punishment of rebels, ascribed to Him.
6. setteth the solitary in families--literally, "settleth the lonely"
(as wanderers) "at home." Though a general truth, there is perhaps
allusion to the wandering and settlement of the Israelites.
rebellious dwell in a dry land--removed from all the comforts of home.
7, 8. (Compare
thou wentest--in the pillar of fire.
thou didst march--literally, "in Thy tread," Thy majestic movement.
8. even Sinai itself--literally, "that Sinai," as in
9, 10. a plentiful rain--a rain of gifts, as manna and quails.
10. Thy congregation--literally, "troop," as in
2Sa 23:11, 13
--the military aspect of the people being prominent, according to the
figures of the context.
therein--that is, in the land of promise.
the poor--Thy humble people
Ps 10:17; 12:5).
11. gave the word--that is, of triumph.
company--or, choir of females, celebrating victory
12. Kings of armies--that is, with their armies.
she that . . . at home--Mostly women so remained, and the ease of
victory appears in that such, without danger, quietly enjoyed the
13. Some translate this, "When ye shall lie between the borders, ye
shall," &c., comparing the peaceful rest in the borders or limits of
the promised land to the proverbial beauty of a gentle dove. Others
understand by the word rendered "pots," the smoked sides of caves, in
which the Israelites took refuge from enemies in the times of the
judges; or, taking the whole figuratively, the rows of stones on which
cooking vessels were hung; and thus that a contrast is drawn between
their former low and afflicted state and their succeeding prosperity.
In either case, a state of quiet and peace is described by a beautiful
14. Their enemies dispersed, the contrast of their prosperity with
their former distress is represented by that of the snow with the dark
and somber shades of Salmon.
15, 16. Mountains are often symbols of nations
(Ps 46:2; 65:6).
That of Bashan, northeast of Palestine, denotes a heathen nation, which
is described as a "hill of God," or a great hill. Such are represented
as envious of the hill (Zion) on which God resides;
17. and, to the assertion of God's purpose to make it His dwelling,
is added evidence of His protecting care. He is described as in the
midst of His heavenly armies--
thousands of angels--literally, "thousands of repetitions," or,
"thousands of thousands"--that is, of chariots. The word "angels" was
perhaps introduced in our version, from
and Ga 3:19.
They are, of course, implied as conductors of the chariots.
as . . . Sinai, in the holy place--that is, He has appeared in Zion
as once in Sinai.
18. From the scene of conquest He ascends to His throne, leading--
captivity captive--or, "many captives captive"
received gifts for men--accepting their homage, even when forced, as
that of rebels.
that the Lord God might dwell--or literally, "to dwell, O Lord God"
--that is, to make this hill, His people or Church, His dwelling. This
Psalm typifies the conquests of the Church under her divine leader,
Christ. He, indeed, "who was with the Church in the wilderness"
is the Lord, described in this ideal ascension. Hence Paul
applies this language to describe His real ascension, when, having
conquered sin, death, and hell, the Lord of glory triumphantly entered
heaven, attended by throngs of adoring angels, to sit on the throne and
wield the scepter of an eternal dominion. The phrase "received gifts
for (or literally, among) men" is by Paul, "gave gifts to
men." Both describe the acts of a conqueror, who receives and
distributes spoils. The Psalmist uses "receiving" as evincing the
success, Paul "gave" as the act, of the conqueror, who, having subdued
his enemies, proceeds to reward his friends. The special application of
the passage by Paul was in proof of Christ's exaltation. What the Old
Testament represents of His descending and ascending corresponds with
His history. He who descended is the same who has ascended. As then
ascension was an element of His triumph, so is it now; and He, who, in
His humiliation, must be recognized as our vicarious sacrifice and the
High Priest of our profession, must also be adored as Head of His
Church and author of all her spiritual benefits.
19-21. God daily and fully supplies us. The issues or escapes from
death are under His control, who is the God that saves us, and destroys
His and our enemies.
21. wound the head--or, "violently destroy"
goeth on still in . . . trespasses--perseveringly impenitent.
22. Former examples of God's deliverance are generalized: as He has
done, so He will do.
from Bashan--the farthest region; and--
depths of the sea--the severest afflictions. Out of all, God will
bring them. The figures of
denote the completeness of the conquest, not implying any savage
24-27. The triumphal procession, after the deliverance, is depicted.
They have seen--impersonally, "There have been seen."
the goings of my God--as leading the procession; the ark, the symbol of
His presence, being in front. The various bands of music
follow, and all who are--
26. from--or literally, "of"
the fountain of Israel--that is, lineal descendants of Jacob, are
invited to unite in the doxology. Then by one of the nearest tribes,
one of the most eminent, and two of the most remote, are represented
the whole nation of Israel, passing forward
28, 29. Thanks for the past, and confident prayer for the future
victories of Zion are mingled in a song of praise.
29. thy temple--literally, "over"
Jerusalem--His palace or residence
symbolized His protecting presence among His people, and hence is the
object of homage on the part of others.
30. The strongest nations are represented by the strongest beasts
31. Princes--or, literally, "fat ones," the most eminent from the
most wealthy, and the most distant nation, represent the universal
stretch out her hands--or, "make to run her hands," denoting haste.
32-36. To Him who is presented as riding in triumph through His
ancient heavens and proclaiming His presence--to Him who, in nature,
and still more in the wonders of His spiritual government, out of His
is terrible, who rules His Church, and, by His Church, rules the world
in righteousness--let all nations and kingdoms give honor and power and