Psalm 89

A Contemplation of Ethan the Ezrahite.

1 I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever;
With my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations.

2 For I have said, “Mercy shall be built up forever;
Your faithfulness You shall establish in the very heavens.”

“I have made a covenant with My chosen,
I have sworn to My servant David:

4 ‘Your seed I will establish forever,
And build up your throne to all generations.’ ” Selah

And the heavens will praise Your wonders, O Lord;
Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the saints.

6 For who in the heavens can be compared to the Lord?
Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened to the Lord?

7 God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints,
And to be held in reverence by all those around Him.

8 O Lord God of hosts,
Who is mighty like You, O Lord?
Your faithfulness also surrounds You.

9 You rule the raging of the sea;
When its waves rise, You still them.

10 You have broken Rahab in pieces, as one who is slain;
You have scattered Your enemies with Your mighty arm.

11 The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours;
The world and all its fullness, You have founded them.

12 The north and the south, You have created them;
Tabor and Hermon rejoice in Your name.

13 You have a mighty arm;
Strong is Your hand, and high is Your right hand.

14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne;
Mercy and truth go before Your face.

15 Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound!
They walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance.

16 In Your name they rejoice all day long,
And in Your righteousness they are exalted.

17 For You are the glory of their strength,
And in Your favor our horn is exalted.

18 For our shield belongs to the Lord,
And our king to the Holy One of Israel.

19 Then You spoke in a vision to Your holy one,
And said: “I have given help to one who is mighty;
I have exalted one chosen from the people.

20 I have found My servant David;
With My holy oil I have anointed him,

21 With whom My hand shall be established;
Also My arm shall strengthen him.

22 The enemy shall not outwit him,
Nor the son of wickedness afflict him.

23 I will beat down his foes before his face,
And plague those who hate him.

24 “But My faithfulness and My mercy shall be with him,
And in My name his horn shall be exalted.

25 Also I will set his hand over the sea,
And his right hand over the rivers.

26 He shall cry to Me, ‘You are my Father,
My God, and the rock of my salvation.’

27 Also I will make him My firstborn,
The highest of the kings of the earth.

28 My mercy I will keep for him forever,
And My covenant shall stand firm with him.

29 His seed also I will make to endure forever,
And his throne as the days of heaven.

30 “If his sons forsake My law
And do not walk in My judgments,

31 If they break My statutes
And do not keep My commandments,

32 Then I will punish their transgression with the rod,
And their iniquity with stripes.

33 Nevertheless My lovingkindness I will not utterly take from him,
Nor allow My faithfulness to fail.

34 My covenant I will not break,
Nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips.

35 Once I have sworn by My holiness;
I will not lie to David:

36 His seed shall endure forever,
And his throne as the sun before Me;

37 It shall be established forever like the moon,
Even like the faithful witness in the sky.” Selah

38 But You have cast off and abhorred,
You have been furious with Your anointed.

39 You have renounced the covenant of Your servant;
You have profaned his crown by casting it to the ground.

40 You have broken down all his hedges;
You have brought his strongholds to ruin.

41 All who pass by the way plunder him;
He is a reproach to his neighbors.

42 You have exalted the right hand of his adversaries;
You have made all his enemies rejoice.

43 You have also turned back the edge of his sword,
And have not sustained him in the battle.

44 You have made his glory cease,
And cast his throne down to the ground.

45 The days of his youth You have shortened;
You have covered him with shame. Selah

46 How long, Lord?
Will You hide Yourself forever?
Will Your wrath burn like fire?

47 Remember how short my time is;
For what futility have You created all the children of men?

48 What man can live and not see death?
Can he deliver his life from the power of the grave? Selah

49 Lord, where are Your former lovingkindnesses,
Which You swore to David in Your truth?

50 Remember, Lord, the reproach of Your servants—
How I bear in my bosom the reproach of all the many peoples,

51 With which Your enemies have reproached, O Lord,
With which they have reproached the footsteps of Your anointed.

52 Blessed be the Lord forevermore!
Amen and Amen.

In the first part, which is a song of praise, the singer tells of the covenant made with David and then breaks out into adoration. The heavens and the angels witness to His greatness (vs. 5-7). The earth and men also. All nature, the sea and the mountains, the north and the south, are conscious of His power. In His government the foundations are unshakable, and the method full of tenderness (vs. 8-14).

It follows naturally that the people who are peculiarly His own are blessed (vs. 15-18). This is not theory only; it is experience. For them Jehovah had found a king, and had made him and the people under him invincible in the days of their obedience. Such facts issue in confidence that the future must be one of victory and blessing.

“But,” and the word suggests a change, and a great change it is. instead of the glowing picture of the former verses is a dark one of present experience. The people are scattered, their defenses broken down, their enemies triumphant, and their king is robbed of glory, and covered with shame (vs. 38-45).

Yet most carefully  notice that all this is spoken of as the work of Jehovah. The key phrase to this portion is “Thou hast.” The mighty One Who had found the king and blessed the nation is the One Who has broken the nation and cast out the king. Upon the basis of that conviction the final prayer rises, “How long, Jehovah.” — Morgan, page 166.

Ethan (intro) — on of the “first rank” Levitical singers appointed during the time of David—mentioned in 1 Chronicles 15:17-19.

God’s covenant with David (2 Samuel 7:8-17) is the topic of this psalm. The unconditionality and inevitable fulfillment of this covenant, as grounded in God’s “lovingkindness” and “faithfulness,” is underscored by the seven-fold repetition (seven signifying perfection/completion) of each of these words. — Wechsler, pages 216-217.

I have made (v.3) — the covenant depended on God alone, making it unconditional

seed (v.4) — Christ (Acts 13:22-23)

Rahab (v.10) — Egypt, as in Psalm 87:4.

Tabor and Hermon (v.12) — mountains in Israel

Because of the manner in which God established His covenant with David, there can be no doubt (vs.15-29) that He will keep it for him forever. … Even for those who forsake God’s law (v.30), He will hold true to His covenant, and chastise rather than reject them. — Wechsler, pages 217-218.

horn (v.17) — symbolizing strength

shield (v.18) — representing the king as protector of the people

The Lord recalls His vow to overthrow David’s foes (vs. 21-23), extend his dominions (vs.24-25), exalt his sovereignty (vs. 26-27), and establish his kingdom forever (vs.28-37). — Guthrie, page 507.


Based on what God says to David in 2 Samuel 7:14-15, God here reiterates, through the psalmist, His promise to chastise—nor forsake—those sons of David (i.e., male descendants in the royal line, “son” in Hebrew signifying any male descendant) who, for their part, forsake His law by violating His statutes and commandments (vs. 30-31, referring to His standards of righteousness as represented in the Mosaic Law). To these, at the time of their chastisement, it may seem as if God as cast off and rejected them (v.38), though the very fact of His chastising them proves that He has not. — Wechsler, page 218.


[Beginning at v.30] is in the form of a warning, not only to David and his offspring, but to all Israel. They are warned that if they live ungodly lives and trespass His holy commandments, He will punish them for it, and yet He will overrule so that in spite of the way David’s sons may live, Messiah will come through that line. — Phillips, page 185.


Let it be remembered that this is a prophecy of what many Jews will do, and say, from the fall of the last king of Israel right down to the end of the Tribulation. It is not God’s will for them to speak as they do, but God, fore-knowing what they would do, had [the psalmist] record it. …

Israel was so deep in sin that God had to do something about it (2 Chronicles 36:15-16; Ezekiel 21:25-27). … These Scriptures give the reason why Israel is without a king, and why she will continue to be without one, until she repents and Messiah comes. He is the one “whose right it is” to occupy the throne of David and no one else. … God will carry out His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and then to David, but Israel and the world will go through some very deep waters of trouble before either of them … come to the place where God can bless them and fulfill the promises. [Which He WILL do.] — Phillips, page 187-188.

Williams’ take:

The Messiah in the confidence of coronation and the fulfillment of the sure promises made to Him as David (Isaiah 55:3; Acts 13:34) recites these promises (vs. 2-4), voices the lament of His people at their seeming breach (vs. 38-51), but closes the Psalm as He began it with praise to Jehovah (vs. 1 and 52). Thus during His life of sorrow, His death of shame, and His arrest in Sheol, noting is seen in Him but perfection—perfection of faith toward God and of love toward man. — Williams, page 368.

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Psalm 88

A Song. A Psalm of the sons of Korah. To the Chief Musician. Set to “Mahalath Leannoth.” A Contemplation of Heman the Ezrahite.

1 O Lord, God of my salvation,
I have cried out day and night before You.

2 Let my prayer come before You;
Incline Your ear to my cry.

For my soul is full of troubles,
And my life draws near to the grave.

4 I am counted with those who go down to the pit;
I am like a man who has no strength,

5 Adrift among the dead,
Like the slain who lie in the grave,
Whom You remember no more,
And who are cut off from Your hand.

You have laid me in the lowest pit,
In darkness, in the depths.

7 Your wrath lies heavy upon me,
And You have afflicted me with all Your waves. Selah

8 You have put away my acquaintances far from me;
You have made me an abomination to them;
I am shut up, and I cannot get out;

My eye wastes away because of affliction.
Lord, I have called daily upon You;
I have stretched out my hands to You.

10 Will You work wonders for the dead?
Shall the dead arise and praise You? Selah

11 Shall Your lovingkindness be declared in the grave?
Or Your faithfulness in the place of destruction?

12 Shall Your wonders be known in the dark?
And Your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?

13 But to You I have cried out, O Lord,
And in the morning my prayer comes before You.

14 Lord, why do You cast off my soul?
Why do You hide Your face from me?

15 I have been afflicted and ready to die from my youth;
I suffer Your terrors;
I am distraught.

16 Your fierce wrath has gone over me;
Your terrors have cut me off.

17 They came around me all day long like water;
They engulfed me altogether.

18 Loved one and friend You have put far from me,
And my acquaintances into darkness.

This psalm is accompanied by the concise instruction “according to Mahalat (“Sickness,” “Entreaty,” or “Pardon”) Le-annot (“for singing loudly” as in vs. 1 and 13). It is attributed to the sons (i.e., descendants) of Korah and, in particular, to Heman the Ezrahite, who, according to 1 Chronicles 6:33-37 and 15:17-19 was a descendant of Korah appointed by David as one of three Levitical sings “of the first rank” (the others being Ethan, whose psalm immediately follows this one, and Asaph, whose psalms [77-83] are presented at the beginning of this Third Book). — Wechsler, page 214.


That this psalm is, first of all, a response to God’s chastisement is evident from what the psalmist says in verses 6-8 (as throughout the entirety of the third section), in which he attributes the severe distress he is experiencing directly to God, employing expressions that are the same or similar to those used elsewhere to describe divine chastisement. … As a consequence of God’s chastisement the psalmist here laments the loss of his vitality—both his physical strength (v.4) as well as his emotional strength (v.9— i.e., his grief is so intense that his tears are “used up”). — Wechsler, page 214-215.


In [verses 10-12] the psalmist laments the fact that, lest God’s chastisement is lifted, he will die from his affliction and be incapable (until his day of resurrection) to worship God through praise. The psalmist refers specifically to those characteristics that most characterize and undergird God’s consistent paternal interaction with Israel, including His chastising of them and lifting of that chastisement (what the psalmist here implores)—to wit: His wonders, His lovingkindness, His faithfulness, and His righteousness. — Wechsler, page 215.


The psalmist laments, finally [in verses 13-18] what is to him the most distressing of all the consequences of God’s chastisement—to wit: his sense of discord in his relationship with God. This is not to say the psalmist believes that, because of the sin(s) for which he is being chastised, his relationship with God has been severed or annulled, but rather, and more precisely, that the proper (i.e., healthy, unhindered) experience of that relationship has been diminished or “blocked.” The psalmist’s reference to God “rejecting” him (v.14) is thus not intended as an actual statement of fact, but as an expression representing the tortured depth of his feelings at the time. — Wechsler, page 215-216.


my acquaintances into darkness (v.18) — literally “my friends are darkness,” i.e. there is nothing to be seen but darkness and hopelessness where he might reasonably and rightly expect light and relief. Aptly, but dreadfully, the last word of the psalm is “darkness,” and yet therein lies its wonder—the wonder of triumphant faith, that a man should see no light at all but yet go on supplicating in fervent, trustful, ceaseless prayer. — Guthrie, page 506.

Williams’ take:

As Jonah was three days and three nights in the power of death, and shut up in the dark prison of the sea monster, so was the Greater than Jonah three days and three nights in the dominion of death, and shut up in the darkness of the abyss (Matthew 12:40-41). And as Jonah trusted and prayed and believed for deliverance, so did the Messiah. And as the Holy Spirit has given to the world the words of Jonah’s prayer, so has He given in this Psalm the words of Messiah’s prayer. …

Just as He trusted God during His lifetime, and when hanging on the cross, so He trusted Him when imprisoned in Sheol. Confessing that He was shut up there and could not come forth (v.8), yet He believed that God would surely deliver Him (v.1); and He looked forward in faith to the resurrection of the third morning (v.13).

This Psalm is unique in that it does not end in a burst of sunshine, as usual, but in deepest night. It does not record suffering from the hand of man, but from the hand of God. There is faith and hope in the Psalm, but no comfort. …

Hebrews 5:7 states that [Messiah] was saved out of the death-world because of His [godly fear], i.e., because of His reverent submission to death, as ordained for Him by God. This Psalm illustrates that [godly fear] which that Scripture praises. — Williams, page 368.

I think William’s view makes sense—as opposed to a psalm about a little-known Levite who was being punished for some sin (although that could be the immediate historical context).

Meyer, surprisingly, agrees with Williams:

It is the most mournful of all the plaintive Psalms; yea, so wholly plaintive, without any ground of hope that noting like it is found in the whole Scriptures. That fact is all the more striking, that the Psalm begins with the words, “O Lord God of my salvation,” after which the darkness grows continually thicker to the close. Surely in its deepest meaning, this Psalm is applicable only to the Prince of Sufferers. — Meyers, page 108.

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Psalm 87

A Psalm of the sons of Korah. A Song.

1 His foundation is in the holy mountains.

2 The Lord loves the gates of Zion
More than all the dwellings of Jacob.

3 Glorious things are spoken of you,
O city of God! Selah

“I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to those who know Me;
Behold, O Philistia and Tyre, with Ethiopia:
‘This one was born there.’ ”

And of Zion it will be said,
“This one and that one were born in her;
And the Most High Himself shall establish her.”

6 The Lord will record,
When He registers the peoples:
“This one was born there.” Selah

Both the singers and the players on instruments say,
“All my springs are in you.”

This is a prophecy. The singer is looking on. The order of the earthly realization of the Kingdom of God is seen as established. First, the city is contemplated at the center of everything, with Jehovah as its God. Then the peoples of the earth are seen in their true relation to that city. … God’s love is set upon the city, and her fame is wide-spread; glorious things are spoken of her. The outcome is seen in the effect produced upon the surrounding peoples. Her ancient enemies are finally to be born, that is, realize their true life, through this governing city of God. — Morgan, page 161.


The opening phrase (v.1) refers to the foundation of His (God’s) Temple, which was built on Mount Moriah (cf. 2 Chronicles 3:1) among the holy mountains—i.e., those mountains (Mount Zion, the Mount of Olives, Mount Scopus, etc.) that surround Moriah and which, by virtue of their proximity to the Temple, “partake” of the holiness sourced in God’s presence (the cloud of glory) that dwelt therein (see Exodus 40:34). It is this site that the LORD loves (v.2)—i.e., the place that He has chosen to be the focal point of His “dwelling” presence on earth, not just in past history during the days of the Two Temples, but also, when He returns to establish His kingdom on earth, for all time (see Jeremiah 3:17; Ezekiel 43:7; Revelation 21:22ff). — Wechsler, pages 212-213.


Looking ahead to that time when Zion (i.e., Jerusalem) will serve as the focal point of God’s rule on earth—just as it did in the past through the “viceregency” of His chosen kings (see 1 Chronicles 29:23)—the psalmist refers to the presence there of multiple ethnicities (v.4). Although the list of these ethnicities is brief—and hence necessarily selective—the expansiveness and force of God’s mercy and grace (in fulfillment of His promise in Genesis 12:3b) are poignantly emphasized by calling attention to the fact that, among those who know (i.e., have a relationship with) God are some from among Israel’s greatest historical enemies—to wit: Rahab (a poetic designation for Egypt, see Psalm 89:9-10; Isaiah 51:9-10), Babylon, and Philistia. — Wechsler, page 213.


The words “This one was born there (or, in her) occur in three separate sentences attributed to God, and contain the basic concept of the whole poem. “This one and that one” refers to the nations such as Rahab (Egypt); Babylon, from whose great power the children of Israel had been rescued; Philistia, Tyre, both typical of Israel’s age-long enemies, and Ethiopia, representative of the remote peoples of the earth. The words “was born there” imply the identity of these Gentile nations with Israel; they receive similar privileges of citizenship. Indeed in the spiritual Zion each and every nation, “this man and that man,” shall claim incorporation on the ground of a rebirth, and the Most High Himself shall make it so. — Guthrie, page 505.


According to Isaiah 19:22-25, Egypt will turn to the Lord in the last days. At least a remnant of them will accept the LORD, and will be blessed along with Israel and Assyria. — Phillips, page 179.


The psalm concludes with a brief glimpse of the praise and rejoicing that will characterize that future time when God rules from Zion, when those who sing as well as those who play the flute (or “who dance”)—both of which activities are associated in Scripture with rejoicing and praise (cf. 1 Samuel 18:16; 1 Kings 1:10)—will say, “All my springs are in you”—i.e., their source of live (both spiritual and eternal; the plural “springs” being for emphasis), which is God Himself, the Lamb on His Throne, is in Zion (cf. Revelation 22:3). — Wechsler, page 213.

Williams’ take:

This prophetic song was probably given by the Spirit on the occasion of the bringing up of the Ark to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6). The theme is the birth of Messiah in the hill country of Judea, and the subsequent establishment of His throne and sanctuary in Mount Zion. The glory of Zion will not then be her beauty or wealth or military strength but the presence of Emmanuel. The consequent supremacy of Zion and of Israel over other nations is declared.

The following translation is suggested: “His foundation is in the holy mountains, i.e., plural of majesty for Mount Zion. Jehovah loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of thee, oh city of God. By those knowing Me I will cause Egypt and Babylon to remember—Philistia and Tyre with Cush—that this Man was born there. Yea as to Zion it shall be said, a Man, yea a Man was born in her; He shall establish her—Himself the Most High. Jehovah shall record when writing the history of nations that this Man was born there. And every singer as well as every dancer shall say: “All my springs of joy are in thee.” — Williams, page 367.

While I generally like Williams’ view, he seems to take some liberties with the meaning of words here. I lean towards Wechsler’s view regarding the nations (above).

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Psalm 86

A Prayer of David.

1 Bow down Your ear, O Lord, hear me;
For I am poor and needy.

2 Preserve my life, for I am holy;
You are my God;
Save Your servant who trusts in You!

3 Be merciful to me, O Lord,
For I cry to You all day long.

4 Rejoice the soul of Your servant,
For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

5 For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,
And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.

Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer;
And attend to the voice of my supplications.

7 In the day of my trouble I will call upon You,
For You will answer me.

Among the gods there is none like You, O Lord;
Nor are there any works like Your works.

9 All nations whom You have made
Shall come and worship before You, O Lord,
And shall glorify Your name.

10 For You are great, and do wondrous things;
You alone are God.

11 Teach me Your way, O Lord;
I will walk in Your truth;
Unite my heart to fear Your name.

12 I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart,
And I will glorify Your name forevermore.

13 For great is Your mercy toward me,
And You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

14 O God, the proud have risen against me,
And a mob of violent men have sought my life,
And have not set You before them.

15 But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious,
Longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.

16 Oh, turn to me, and have mercy on me!
Give Your strength to Your servant,
And save the son of Your maidservant.

17 Show me a sign for good,
That those who hate me may see it and be ashamed,
Because You, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

This is the only song in the “Third Book” of the Psalms that is attributed to David.

The psalm’s theme of God’s sovereignty (i.e., lordship) and the psalmist’s corresponding servanthood is further driven home by the seven-fold repetition (signifying perfection/completion) of the word “Lord” (“my Lord/Master/Sovereign” as opposed to “LORD” = Yahweh) and the three-fold repetition (signifying the “utmost” of something) of the expression “They servant.” — Wechsler, page 210.


This psalm is peculiar in many ways. Its first peculiarity is that the name of God which dominates is Adonai, or Lord, which indicates absolute Lordship, and by the use of which the singer shows his sense of submission and loyalty. The name Jehovah is used four times, thus revealing the singer’s sense of God as Helper; and the name God five times, thus revealing his consciousness of the Divine might. The supreme sense however, is that of the Divine authority.

The next matter of special note is that while the psalm is a beautiful and consecutive song, it is largely composed of quotations from other psalms, thus revealing the singer’s familiarity with them.

Finally, the psalm is unique in its method of urging a petition upon the ground of some known fact. This is clearly seen if the use of the word “for” is noticed (vs. 1-5, 7, 10, 13). In the first four verses the facts are those which indicate his attitude toward God. In the last four the facts are those revealing God’s attitude toward him. — Morgan, pages 159-160.


Verses 1-5 — “Prefacing” the notion of God’s perfect sovereignty is the notion of God’s preeminent, or superlative, sovereignty (i.e., that He is the sovereign of all Creation, with no sovereign “over” Him). — Wechsler, page 210.


Verses 6-13 — In this section David emphasizes the uniqueness of his Sovereign—i.e., not only that there is no one above Him, but also that there is no one like Him. There is no other sovereign who can be credited with having made all the nations, and there is no other sovereign whom all those nations shall one day come and worship (v.9)—which statement refers specifically to the nations worship of Christ, to whom this passage is applied in Revelation 15:4. David’s affirmation that God has delivered his soul from Sheol (v.13) is also intended with specific reference to Christ, whose resurrection from Sheol David “looked ahead” and saw—and understood to be the guarantee of his own resurrection therefrom (see Acts 2:31). — Wechsler, page 211.


Verses 14-17 — David concludes by affirming the perfection of his Sovereign—perfect not only in His “essential,” or “incommunicable,” attributes (such as omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence), or in His “shared” attributes (such as His righteousness, holiness, or spiritual life), but also in His expressed attributes—specifically, since they are most meaningful to David, His positive expressed attributes, such as His lovingkindness (v.15), His mercy (v.15), His grace (vs. 15-16), and His imparting of help and comfort (v.17), all of which are subsumed in the biblical notion of “love.” — Wechsler, page 212.

Williams’ take:

The title of the psalm is “A Prayer of David”; that is, an intercession by the Messiah on behalf of His people. The argument of the prayer is that God, having by His mighty power rescued Him from those that sought His life (v.1-7), and also from the dominion of the lowest hell (v.13), will surely deliver His beloved followers from their enemies and from their sufferings (vs 14-17). He appeals to Jehovah’s ear (vs. 1, 6). In His distress He finds all His joy and comfort and hope of deliverance in God. …

The introduction of the virgin Mary in v.16 emphasizes the fact that Christ became truly man; for otherwise He could not be an Advocate for men. It was necessary that as man he should be temped in all points (Hebrews 4:15). It was equally necessary that as an Intercessor He should be sinless; hence He, the true David, could say what David himself could never say, “I am holy” (v.2). — Williams, pages 366-367.

Guthrie’s take on v.16:

The phrase “son of Thy handmaid” implies a relationship akin to that of a slave born into his master’s household and therefore having a double claim upon his master’s protection. — Guthrie, page 505.

I lean toward Williams’ view—that it’s the Messiah speaking.

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Psalm 85

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah.

1 Lord, You have been favorable to Your land;
You have brought back the captivity of Jacob.

2 You have forgiven the iniquity of Your people;
You have covered all their sin. Selah

3 You have taken away all Your wrath;
You have turned from the fierceness of Your anger.

Restore us, O God of our salvation,
And cause Your anger toward us to cease.

5 Will You be angry with us forever?
Will You prolong Your anger to all generations?

6 Will You not revive us again,
That Your people may rejoice in You?

7 Show us Your mercy, Lord,
And grant us Your salvation.

I will hear what God the Lord will speak,
For He will speak peace
To His people and to His saints;
But let them not turn back to folly.

9 Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him,
That glory may dwell in our land.

10 Mercy and truth have met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed.

11 Truth shall spring out of the earth,
And righteousness shall look down from heaven.

12 Yes, the Lord will give what is good;
And our land will yield its increase.

13 Righteousness will go before Him,
And shall make His footsteps our pathway.

The Three Tenses of Divine Love—Past (vs. 1-3) — God’s “showing of favor” is specifically connected in Scripture with God’s “compassion” or “tender love.” … This tender love was expressed toward Israel in the past not only by his having restored the fortunes (not “captivity”) of Jacob (v.1)—referring to God’s restoration of the people to an outward state of prosperity following a period of chastisement or testing (cf., e.g., the same expression in Job 42:10 and Ezra 16:53)—but also by His having forgiven their iniquity (v.2). — Wechsler, page 209.


Present (vs. 4-7) — Based on the example of God’s past expression of love towards his covenant people, the psalmist expectantly implores God’s present expression of the same, as on of “the sons of Korah,” he is writing (most likely) during the time of the divided kingdom, when the material fortunes and spiritual state of his people were in the decline—and hence the onset of God’s paternal chastisement looming larger. — Wechsler, page 209.


Future (vs. 8-13) — That God will (not might; “[He] will …” in vs. 8b, 12-13) continue to express His compassion and love toward Israel in the future is driven home by the psalmist in this last section—in which v.10 is especially poignant (and memorable), due both to its perfectly symmetrical poetic meter and (rare) rhyme, as well as its conceptual emphasis on the “bonding” or “bringing together” of all those ideal qualities and attributes, which “bringing together” of such attributes is ultimately fulfilled and eternally exemplified in the Messiah (cf. Isaiah 11:1-5; Zechariah 6:13). — Wechsler, page 209-210.


When … salvation comes it will be seen (v.10) first to involve absolute harmony of the divine attributes: He shows steadfast love to sinners without abandoning faithfulness to His own holy nature; His righteousness of character is not at loggerheads with His gift of peace to men. — Guthrie, page 504.

Phillips sees the entire psalm as prophetic.

Verses 1-3 visualize the fullest blessings for the Remnant of believers whose sins have been forgiven through Messiah’s atonement. Let it be emphasized that their iniquity will be taken away and their sins all covered. This glorious prediction will not become a reality until the Messiah returns and the Remnant acknowledges Him (Romans 11:26-27).

Verses 4-7 express faith that looks forward, resting upon the promises of God. Faith sees that which is to be accomplished as though it had already been fulfilled, because God never fails. His promises are as sure as the morning. These verses express a prophetic declaration of repentance on the part of the believing Remnant, as they look forward to national and spiritual revival. God will answer that prayer and show them His lovingkindness.

Verses 8-13 express the highest hopes and glories of Israel’s salvation and restoration. All the prophets of god have spoken of the blessed destiny of Israel, as well as that of her land. The Church is not in view here at all. In fact, the Church is not in view in any of the Psalms. The blessings and glory promised to Israel are hers, and God will fulfill every detail of His promises.

“He will speak peace to the people” (v.8). The Messiah is the prince of peace, and, with His return, Judah shall be saved and Israel shall dwell safely. He will also speak peace to the nations and wars will cease to the ends of the earth (Isaiah 4:5-6). — Phillips, pages 175-177.

I think Phillips is probably right that the entire psalm is prophetic, but I think it also had an application for those in Israel when it was written and ever since.

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Psalm 84

To the Chief Musician. On an instrument of Gath. A Psalm of the sons of Korah.

1 How lovely is Your tabernacle,
O Lord of hosts!

2 My soul longs, yes, even faints
For the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Even the sparrow has found a home,
And the swallow a nest for herself,
Where she may lay her young—
Even Your altars, O Lord of hosts,
My King and my God.

4 Blessed are those who dwell in Your house;
They will still be praising You. Selah

Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.

6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
They make it a spring;
The rain also covers it with pools.

7 They go from strength to strength;
Each one appears before God in Zion.

O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
Give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah

9 O God, behold our shield,
And look upon the face of Your anointed.

10 For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.

12 O Lord of hosts,
Blessed is the man who trusts in You!

sons of Korah (intro) — the descendants of those who were not “swallowed up” by the earth for rebelling against Moses (Numbers 26:10-11) and who, from the days of David onward, were among the Levitical singers in the Temple (see 1 Chronicles 6:22-31; 2 Chronicles 20:19) — Wechsler, page 122.


This is a companion to Psalm 42 (also a Korahite psalm), but whereas that was a lament because of exile from the house of his God, this is a song of joy in the dwelling-places of the Lord of hosts. — Guthrie, page 504.


This is a pilgrim psalm. It falls into three strophes divided by Selahs. The first describes the pilgrim’s hope (vs.1-4); the second, the pilgrim’s experience (vs.5-8); the third, the pilgrim’s prayer (vs.9-12).

The experience of the pilgrim is then described. Faith has an anchorage; it is found in God when the heart is set upon the consummation. Faith has an activity; it passes through dry valleys, and fills them with springs of refreshment. Faith has an assurance; it goes from strength to strength, confident of finally appearing before God. — Morgan, pages 156-157.


Just like a Russian troika, comprised of a sled or carriage pulled by three horses abreast, the three parts of this psalm comprise three aspects (not “steps”—hence the image of three horses abreast) of true (i.e., biblically-grounded) blessedness that “pull” the believer along the course of this present life to the destination of final glory in which that blessedness is perfected, both outwardly as well as inwardly. — Wechsler, page 206.


Verses 1-4 — The first aspect [of blessedness] is proximity to the Lord, whose presence on earth was centered in His “dwelling places”—the plural form being intended with reference to the Temple compound and all its distinct sections. A poignant indication of the psalmist’s focus on God’s presence at this site, rather than on the site itself is his use of the opening qualification, which, though often translated by the English adjective “lovely,” is not an adjective at all, but a noun signifying deep affection and love between persons. Simply put, the psalmist begins this psalm with an ecstatic exclamation: “O the belovedness (or “deep intimacy”) of your dwelling places, O LORD…”—by which he affirms the sense of profound closeness that overwhelms him when he visits the Temple compound. He ends this section in v.4 by looking forward to the time when the blessing of being in God’s presence will be expanded and perfected, and all those who love Him will dwell in His house. — Wechsler, page 207.


The sense of v.3 is: That as the sparrow and the swallow find love and rest in their nests to the believer finds love and rest in the Sanctuary. … The altars pointed to are the brazen and golden altars. These foreshadowed Christ in His atoning death for the sinner and in His risen life for the believer. The soul finds its home in a crucified and risen Savior. — Williams, page 365.


Verses 5-8 — Blessing also accrues to the person who finds their strength in God (v.5)—as opposed to other people or one’s circumstances. … Such people as this go from strength to strength (v.7a)—i.e., not matter where they go or what their circumstances may be, God’s strength is always available to them; and to “recharge” this strength they appear regularly before God in Zion (v.7b), referring to three “pilgrimage” festivals (i.e., Unleavened Bread, Weeks [Pentecost], and Tabernacles), when God commanded that all the men in Israel “appear before the Lord … in the pace which He chooses” (Deuteronomy 16:16). — Wechsler, pages 207-208.


the Valley of Baca (v.6) — Not a specific place, but a reference either to a place of weeping (Baca being from a root meaning “to weep”) or a valley of desolation (Baca being the singular of “balsam trees,” which grow in arid ground). The meaning is: the pilgrim turns his troubles into blessings. — Ryrie, page 889.


Verses 9-12 — The psalmist remarks, finally, the blessing that attends God’s grace—not once, or twice, or even thrice, but continually, as indicated by the grammar of the statement “the LORD gives grace,” in which the imperfect verb “gives” denotes an ongoing/unending action—as is indeed consistent with God’s “granting of grace” to His people throughout the Old Testament, both by protecting and providing for them, as well as by “granting” them “grace” (or “favor”) in the eyes of others (cf. Genesis 39:21; Exodus 3:21; Daniel 1:9). The description of God as a sun (v.11) reinforces the notion of God’s grace as the giver of life (just as the follow epithet “shield” indicates that He is the One who protects it), since the sun’s light in Scripture is symbolic of physical and spiritual life. — Wechsler, page 208.


The “for” of v.10 concerns the Sanctuary, and the “for” of v.11, the road to it. The second “for” asserts the happiness of those on the way to the Sanctuary, the first “for” the happiness of those who enter and dwell there. The doctrine of the psalm is that the Sanctuary is a home of pure and satisfying bliss, and that the road to it is a highway of happiness though it pass through a valley of weeping (v.6). — Williams, page 365.

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Psalm 83

A Song. A Psalm of Asaph.

1 Do not keep silent, O God!
Do not hold Your peace,
And do not be still, O God!

2 For behold, Your enemies make a tumult;
And those who hate You have lifted up their head.

3 They have taken crafty counsel against Your people,
And consulted together against Your sheltered ones.

4 They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation,
That the name of Israel may be remembered no more.”

For they have consulted together with one consent;
They form a confederacy against You:

6 The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites;
Moab and the Hagrites;

7 Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek;
Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre;

8 Assyria also has joined with them;
They have helped the children of Lot. Selah

Deal with them as with Midian,
As with Sisera,
As with Jabin at the Brook Kishon,

10 Who perished at En Dor,
Who became as refuse on the earth.

11 Make their nobles like Oreb and like Zeeb,
Yes, all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna,

12 Who said, “Let us take for ourselves
The pastures of God for a possession.”

13 O my God, make them like the whirling dust,
Like the chaff before the wind!

14 As the fire burns the woods,
And as the flame sets the mountains on fire,

15 So pursue them with Your tempest,
And frighten them with Your storm.

16 Fill their faces with shame,
That they may seek Your name, O Lord.

17 Let them be confounded and dismayed forever;
Yes, let them be put to shame and perish,

18 That they may know that You, whose name alone is the Lord,
Are the Most High over all the earth.

Thematically the three parts of this psalm parallel the three essential provisions—or, more precisely promises (see Galatians 3:17-18)—of the Abrahamic Covenant: an eternal land, an eternal people, and eternal blessing (for Israel and all nations. it is the fulfillment of these promises, and not the destruction of enemies per se, that drives the psalmists’ imprecation in this psalm. — Wechsler, page 204.


Verses 1-8 — In this section Asaph focuses on the threat to Israel by her many enemies, who collectively conspire (v.3) to wipe them out … that the name of Israel may be remembered no more—an intention which is ultimately directed against God Himself, since it is He who established them as a distinct people (Genesis 12:2) and promised that they would remain so forever (Jeremiah 31:35-37), and it is He who gave them their name (see Genesis 32:28), which name itself bears out the character of God, not Israel (i.e., “God strives). The expression “lifted up their head” (v.2), is referring to the mustering and counting of soldiers in preparation for battle (see Numbers 31:49), the many enemy participants in which include the children (lit. “sons”) of Lot (though he himself was righteous; see 2 Peter 2:7)—i.e., the Moabites (v. 6b) and the Ammonites (v.7a). — Wechsler, pages 204-205.

make a tumult (v.2) — rage like the sea

Verses 9-15 — Consistent with their collective intention to “wipe out” the people of Israel, the enemies of God’s people also seek to possess the land of Israel for themselves—an intention which is likewise ultimately directed against God since it was He who gave them that land as “an everlasting possession” (see Genesis 13:15; 17:8; Psalm 105:10-11). — Wechsler, page 205.


Those concerned were mostly the semi-nomadic peoples whose petty kingdoms stretched along the east side of the Jordan valley, i.e., Edom, Moab, Ammon, with the Hagrites and Ishmaelites who lived still farther east (cf. 1 Chronicles 5:10) and also the people of Gebal (south of Edom). In addition, there were the forces of the western seaboard, Philistia and Tyre. And in the background was the might of Assyria which had already lent an arm of help to the children of Lot, i.e., to Moab and Ammon (Genesis 19:36-38).

Two of the most noteworthy attacks were those by Sisera (Judges 4-5) and the invasion of the Midianites (Judges 6-8). In both cases the Israelites were not merely outnumbered, but also outclassed in aggressive equipment. Nevertheless both perils were amazingly overcome; the menace was swiftly and entirely removed and at very little loss to the Israelites. — Guthrie, page 503.


Verses 16-18 — Counterbalancing the imprecation in this psalm (as also, even if implicitly, in any other imprecatory psalm or statement in Scripture) is God’s final—and, with respect to its scope, greatest—promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that through them all nations of the earth might be blessed (see Genesis 12:3; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14). This promise is here explicitly affirmed by Asaph, who implores God to fill the faces of Israel’s enemies with dishonor, that they may seek God’s name and know that it is He alone whose name is the LORD—in which statements the terms “name,” and especially the name itself (Yahweh) signify not just what God is called, but who He is and what He does (Malachi 1:11). — Wechsler, page 206.


The apparition of the wild beast with the seven heads and ten horns of Revelation 13, whose purpose as Satan’s agent will be to cause the Hebrew people to cease to exist, and whose destruction in Revelation 19 is assured, with the consequent enthronement of the Messiah as Most High over all the earth, engage the faith and prayer of this psalm. — Williams, page 364.

Reinforcing Williams’ view (above) is the fact that an alliance of enemy states, as described in this psalm, does not occur in the Old Testament. The closest situation was the coalition against Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:1-12).

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Psalm 82

A Psalm of Asaph.

1 God stands in the congregation of the mighty;
He judges among the gods.

How long will you judge unjustly,
And show partiality to the wicked? Selah

3 Defend the poor and fatherless;
Do justice to the afflicted and needy.

4 Deliver the poor and needy;
Free them from the hand of the wicked.

They do not know, nor do they understand;
They walk about in darkness;
All the foundations of the earth are unstable.

I said, “You are gods,
And all of you are children of the Most High.

7 But you shall die like men,
And fall like one of the princes.”

Arise, O God, judge the earth;
For You shall inherit all nations.

This psalm  was recited by the Levites in the Second Temple on the third day of the week (i.e., Tuesday)—which may therefore be the day on which the episode in John 10:22-39 took place, seeing that (1) Jesus there cites (in v.34) verse 6 of this psalm, and (2) it was His practice to take the opportunity afforded by prevailing ritual and liturgical custom to teach about His person and work as the Messiah. — Wechsler, page 202.


V.1 — The congregation of God in which God takes His stand (i.e., to execute judgment) is the people of Israel, to whom this same expression “congregation of the LORD” is elsewhere applied; so too, the “gods” in the midst of whom He judges are the leaders of Israel to whom the ministry of teaching, modeling, and enforcing God’s Word was entrusted (such as the judges and priests in the Old Testament, and in the New Testament, the scribes and Pharisees). This understanding is affirmed by Jesus’ own identification of the “gods” in this psalm as “those to whom the word of God came” (John 10:35)—i.e., such men as Moses (Exodus 4:16), the judges who assisted him (Exodus 21:6 [for example]), and the subsequent judges and leaders of Israel. In all of these instances where the epithet “gods” is applied to men, it should be understood in the sense of “proxies or representatives of God.” The point of this verse is thus to underscore God’s preeminent position as the Final Judge who passes judgment on all other judges. Wechsler, pages 202-203.


Vs.2-4 — God’s challenge here … is that [His people] not judge unjustly or show partiality to the wicked, but rather that they vindicate (i.e., plead the cause of) the weak and fatherless—i.e., those who have no one else to help them or plead their cause. — Wechsler, page 203.


Vs. 5-8 — The psalmist concludes by affirming the Lord’s inevitable judgment of those “gods” who continue to judge unjustly, at which time all the foundations of the earth will be shaken—for He is the one who laid them—which imagery points to tine final judgment of Revelation 20:11-15 that immediately precedes God’s remaking of heaven and earth. Further emphasizing God’s “right” to enact this final judgment, as well as that this judgment will be enacted by the Son of God, is Asaph’s closing affirmation that “it is Thou who dost possess all the nations,” which hearkens, both conceptually and phraseologically, to the statement of the Father to the Son in Psalm 2:8: “I will give the nations as Thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth as They possession.” — Wechsler, pages 203-204.


Our Lord quotes [verse 6] in arguing with the Jews (John 10:34); His point being that, if Scripture calls unjust judges “gods,” because they filled the place and represented the majesty of God, surely His opponents had not right to accuse Him of blasphemy, because, as ‘the Sent of God,” and engages in doing His Father’s will, He also spoke of Himself as God. — Meyer, page 101.


Israel was designed by God to be His representative in the earth and judge of the nations. Hence her magistrates were termed “gods” i.e., representatives of God; and to them the word of God was committed in order that they should communicate it to the nations (Exodus 7:1; 21:6; 22:8-9, 28; John 10:34-35; Acts 23:5). But Israel failed to fulfill this purpose; and the prediction of this Psalm is that Messiah would take up this Divine purpose and perfectly fulfill it as Judge of Israel (v.1) and off all nations (v.8). … Between these two verses the judges of Israel are judged and their incompetency and injustice exposed (vs. 2-7). Their unrighteous judgment, their neglect to protect the defenseless, their ignorance, their refusal to learn, their aimless going to and from in the darkness, proved them to be no better than ordinary men although officially representatives and sons of God. As men they should die, and as princes they should fall. — Williams, page 364.

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Psalm 81

To the Chief Musician. On an instrument of Gath. A Psalm of Asaph.

1 Sing aloud to God our strength;
Make a joyful shout to the God of Jacob.

2 Raise a song and strike the timbrel,
The pleasant harp with the lute.

Blow the trumpet at the time of the New Moon,
At the full moon, on our solemn feast day.

4 For this is a statute for Israel,
A law of the God of Jacob.

5 This He established in Joseph as a testimony,
When He went throughout the land of Egypt,
Where I heard a language I did not understand.

“I removed his shoulder from the burden;
His hands were freed from the baskets.

7 You called in trouble, and I delivered you;
I answered you in the secret place of thunder;
I tested you at the waters of Meribah. Selah

“Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you!
O Israel, if you will listen to Me!

9 There shall be no foreign god among you;
Nor shall you worship any foreign god.

10 I am the Lord your God,
Who brought you out of the land of Egypt;
Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.

11 “But My people would not heed My voice,
And Israel would have none of Me.

12 So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart,
To walk in their own counsels.

13 “Oh, that My people would listen to Me,
That Israel would walk in My ways!

14 I would soon subdue their enemies,
And turn My hand against their adversaries.

15 The haters of the Lord would pretend submission to Him,
But their fate would endure forever.

16 He would have fed them also with the finest of wheat;
And with honey from the rock I would have satisfied you.”

According to ancient Jewish tradition—based (rightly so) on the wording in v.3—this psalm is recited on the Feast of Trumpet Blowing (Leviticus 23:24-25; Numbers 29:1), otherwise known in rabbinic-talmudic tradition as the feast of the New Year (Rosh ha-Shana). Biblically, however, this feast had nothing to do with the New Year, but was celebrated on the first day of the seventh month. That this psalm is, nonetheless, closely tied to this festival is evident from (1) first and foremost, the exhortation in v.3 to “blow the trumpet at the new moon (i.e., the first day of the lunar month) … on our feast day”— and the Feast of Trumpet Blowing is the only biblical feast to be celebrated on the first day of any month; (2) the reference in v.4 to the blowing of the trumpet being “a statute” and “ordinance”—which terminology attaches specifically to the Mosaic Law, in which the only legislated trumpet blowing is that performed on the aforementioned feast day; and (3) the parallel theme of (spiritual) renewal (through repentance and corporate worship) of both the psalm and—at least as originally intended—the Feast of Trumpet Blowing (the trumpeting being “a reminder” of the justification as well as the obligation attending God’s rest. — Wechsler, page 200.


Verses 1-4 — As a supplement to—and reinforcement of—the individual obligation to continually “renew” (i.e., maintain the health of) one’s walk in righteousness, God also commanded the regular communal observance of a feast day (v.3) focusing on the same obligation. — Wechsler, page 201

a statute for Israel (v.4) — decreed by God in the Law

Verses 5-7 — As an impetus to spiritual renewal God reminds His people of His past solicitude for them in their nascent days as a people—how He went throughout the land of Egypt (v.5, alluding to His judgment of the Egyptians via the tenth plague in Exodus 11:4) and relieved their shoulder of the burden of slavery, freeing their hands from the basket (i.e., of straw that they would gather for making bricks; cf. Exodus 5:7). He did all this, moreover, even though the people did not deserve it—as evinced by the fact that God proved them (i.e., refined them through chastisement). — Wechsler, page 201.


I heard a language I did not understand (v.5) — This does not mean that the Good Shepherd did not understand the Egyptian language, but that He did not acknowledge as his sheep the Egyptians. The Hebrew verb here should be translated “acknowledged.” … He makes the statement in order to emphasize the separateness of Israel as His flock. They knew His voice and He knew theirs; but He stood in no such relationship to the Egyptians, nor they to Him. — Williams, page 363

answered (v.7) —could also be translated “covered”

place of thunder (v.7) — Sinai

the waters of Meribah — Exodus 17:5-7

Verses 8-16 — The only appropriate response to the manifold evidence of God’s gracious solicitude—displayed in His defense, provision, and chastisement of Israel—is the renewal of one’s walk with and devotion to the Lord, as achieved through repentance (v.8, 13) and one’s consequently “purified” worship, walking in God’s way instead of in one’s own (vs. 12-13).— Wechsler, pages 201-202.

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Psalm 80

To the Chief Musician. Set to “The Lilies.” A Testimony of Asaph. A Psalm.

1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
You who lead Joseph like a flock;
You who dwell between the cherubim, shine forth!

Before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh,
Stir up Your strength,
And come and save us!

Restore us, O God;
Cause Your face to shine,
And we shall be saved!

O Lord God of hosts,
How long will You be angry
Against the prayer of Your people?

You have fed them with the bread of tears,
And given them tears to drink in great measure.

You have made us a strife to our neighbors,
And our enemies laugh among themselves.

Restore us, O God of hosts;
Cause Your face to shine,
And we shall be saved!

You have brought a vine out of Egypt;
You have cast out the nations, and planted it.

You prepared room for it,
And caused it to take deep root,
And it filled the land.

10 The hills were covered with its shadow,
And the mighty cedars with its boughs.

11 She sent out her boughs to the Sea,
And her branches to the River.

12 Why have You broken down her hedges,
So that all who pass by the way pluck her fruit?

13 The boar out of the woods uproots it,
And the wild beast of the field devours it.

14 Return, we beseech You, O God of hosts;
Look down from heaven and see,
And visit this vine

15 And the vineyard which Your right hand has planted,
And the branch that You made strong for Yourself.

16 It is burned with fire, it is cut down;
They perish at the rebuke of Your countenance.

17 Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand,
Upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself.

18 Then we will not turn back from You;
Revive us, and we will call upon Your name.

19 Restore us, O Lord God of hosts;
Cause Your face to shine,
And we shall be saved!

Lilies (intro) — the melody to which the psalm was to be sung.

testimony (intro) — a legal term that is probably used to indicate that the psalm testifies, like in a court of law, the just, historical basis for God’s chastisement of His people.

Written against the background of the Assyrian captivity of the northern tribes of Israel (2 Kings 17:6), this psalm reveals the shock that event had in Jerusalem (where the Asaph singers lived. — Ryrie, page 886.


Verses 1-7 — That God is chastising—as opposed to destroying)—Israel is immediately indicated by the psalmist’s description of God as the Shepherd of Israel, who leads Joseph like a flock, on the close association between imagery and paternal solicitude. This notion is further emphasized by the reference in v.4 to God being “angry” and, in v.7, to the intended goal of chastisement: that God restore them (i.e., to spiritual health and godliness). — Wechsler, page 199.


The awe-striking flame called the Shekinah which flashed between the cherubim upon the Mercy-seat in the Sanctuary (v.1) was the glory of God and symbolized His presence. In the opening chapters of Ezekiel that glory is seen withdrawing itself in stages, and reluctantly, but in chapter 43 it is viewed returning at once and with alacrity. Malachi 3:1 speaks of the same event, and this Psalm prays for it. Messiah will return (v.14); He will cause His people to return (vs. 3, 7, and 19); He will shine forth from the Sanctuary to their relief and to the discomfiture of their oppressors; and thus recover and replant His vine. — Williams, page 362.


When the cloud was taken up the Tribes journeyed, and immediately after the Kohathites (bearing the Sanctuary and the Ark) Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh marched, and Moses cried “Rise up, O Jehovah, and let Thine enemies be scattered, and let them that hate Thee flee before Thee” (Numbers 2:36). Accordingly, in this Psalm (v.2) they occupy this position in relation to the Ark. These tribes were the children of Rachel. — Williams, page 362.


The division [of the psalm] is clearly marked by the recurrence of the refrain [return/restore] in vs.3, 7, 14, and 19. The name of God being on an ascending scale: God (v.3); God of Hosts (v.7, 14); Jehovah, God of Hosts (v.19). — Meyer, page 98.


Verses 8-11 — The basis of God’s pruning is His unconditional, sovereign election of Israel, grounded in His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This point is vividly portrayed via the image of Israel as a vine, being passively transplanted by God from Egypt to Canaan (v.8), from which latter God also cleared the ground (v.9) of the Gentile nations that, like tares among wheat, sought to prevent and strangle the existence of God’s vine. — Wechsler, page 199.

“The hills” (v.10) may refer to the southern boundary of Canaan. “The cedars” represent Lebanon in the north. “The sea” (v.11) means the Mediterranean, and “the river,” the Euphrates. Solomon ruled over that extent of land.

Verses 12-19 — The goal of God’s pruning is not simply that the vine might flourish, but that, after going through the pruning process, being burned with fire and cut down (v.16), the vine might be inured against those parasites that would sap its spiritual energy—as the psalmist plainly concludes: then (i.e., after the pruning) we shall not turn back from Thee (v.18) and the light that shines from His face (i.e., presence), not the sun, will serve as the vine’s source of life. — Wechsler, page 200.

Williams says the man of the right hand even the Son of Man (v.17) is the Messiah. Ryrie says it is Israel. Guthrie says:

When Benjamin was born (Genesis 35:18) at the cost of his mother’s life, she, her mind full of her fatal travail, aptly named him Ben-oni, “son of my sorrow”; but his father, loving the child for the sake of the beloved Rachel, refused the name, calling him rather Benjamin, “Son of (my) right hand.” So is Israel, by grace, to the Lord. — Guthrie, page 502.

Meyer says “man of your right hand” is Benjamin, representing all Israel, and “son of man” is the Messiah.

Israel was the vine that God brought out of Egypt (v.8 with Isaiah 5). Having evicted the  Canaanites He planted it in the pleasant land of Palestine. It was ravaged by the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, and the Romans; but it will suffer its greatest injury at the hands of the future Anti-Christ. In his days this prophecy will be fulfilled. — Williams, page 363.

If, as some of my commentaries state, this psalm was written in response to the Assyrian captivity of the northern tribes, it brings up the question of why Benjamin is listed (v.2), since that tribe was generally associated with Judah in the southern kingdom. The answer, it seems to me, is that the psalm is referring to the condition of all Israel under God’s chastisement. Here’s the other view:

The house of Joseph always represents Israel, as distinct from Judah (Obadiah 18; Amos 6:6). The mention of Benjamin (v.2) does not militate against this view; for though the southern part of the tribe clung to the fortunes of Judah, it is probable [but not mentioned in Scripture?] that the bulk of the northern portion followed those of the ten tribes to whom they were bound by many ties (Genesis 43:29). — Meyer, page 98

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