To the Chief Musician. Set to “DoNot Destroy.” A Psalm of Asaph. A Song.
1 We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks!
For Your wondrous works declare that Your name is near.
2 “When I choose the proper time,
I will judge uprightly.
3 The earth and all its inhabitants are dissolved;
I set up its pillars firmly. Selah
4 “I said to the boastful, ‘Do not deal boastfully,’
And to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up the horn.
5 Do not lift up your horn on high;
Do not speak with a stiff neck.’ ”
6 For exaltation comes neither from the east
Nor from the west nor from the south.
7 But God is the Judge:
He puts down one,
And exalts another.
8 For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup,
And the wine is red;
It is fully mixed, and He pours it out;
Surely its dregs shall all the wicked of the earth
Drain and drink down.
9 But I will declare forever,
I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.
10 “All the horns of the wicked I will also cut off,
But the horns of the righteous shall be exalted.”
Set to “Do Not Destroy” (intro) — probably the name of the melody to which this song was to be sung
Verses 1-3 — Just as God’s justice has already been executed in history [by those who persecute His people and transgress His standards and authority], so too does God Himself affirm that in the future, at an appointed time known only to Him (Matthew 24:36), He will execute inevitable, final judgment on the earth and all who dwell in it. — Wechsler, page 189.
God’s people are speaking in the first verse, and God Himself in the remaining verses.
Verses 4-8 — God [addresses] the boastful and the wicked—both among the Gentiles as well as His people Israel—and, in light of His already proven and inevitable final justice, exhorts them all to not lift up their own horn on high—i.e., not to assert their own strength and ability (Deuteronomy 33:17; 1 Kings 22:11; Psalm 18:2) in meeting out justice divergent from God’s own. Such “boasting” (which, as biblically defined, entails the assertion of one’s independence from authority) is ultimately futile, since there is no juridical authority greater than God to be found anywhere on earth—neither from the east nor from the west (comprising all geographical distance), nor from the pasture (or “wilderness”) of mountains—referring to the mountain summits on which the Canaanites (and sinning Israelites) would build “high places” to pray to their gods whom they believed to exercise sovereign judicial authority. — Wechsler, page 190.
do not lift up the horn (v.4) — do not be proud of your strength
The north is omitted in verse 6, possibly because “on the sides of the north” will stand the city of the Great King from whom comes lifting up. Messiah’s city will be on the northern slopes of Mount Zion. He will from thence as Judge either put down or lift up (v.7). — Williams, page 359.
No mention is made of the north, since the Assyrians were approaching from that direction (Isaiah 36-37 is likely the background of this psalm). — Ryrie, page 879.
I don’t know what to think about the north being omitted. Williams’ view (above) seems like a reach, but Ryrie’s view (adopted by several of my commentaries) makes no sense to me either because the verse says that exaltation won’t come from the other three directions. The exaltation in question seems to come from God (v.7), so the view that the Assyrians were attacking Israel from the north doesn’t make sense to me.
Verses 9-10 — The manifestation of God’s justice—both his aforementioned “wondrous works” of deliverance (by judging Israel’s enemies) as well as His final judgment of all the wicked—would serve to enhance the eternal declaration of God’s praises (i.e., adding further occasion to praise Him for what He does in addition to His inherent praiseworthiness for who He is). — Wechsler, page 190.
The prophetic vision of this Psalm is that prefigured in Leviticus 9:22-24. Aaron, having by himself purged the people (Hebrews 1:3)—for there was no one with him when making atonement in the Sanctuary—appears, accompanied by Moses, to rule and bless the people. So Christ as Priest perfected the atonement and as King and Priest will come forth to judge His House (vs. 4-7) and the nations (v.8). This vision of Messiah in the Sanctuary contrasts with the enemy in the Sanctuary of Psalm 74. — Williams, pages 358-359.
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