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Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at

Psalms Chapter 75


psa 75:0

The Nearness of the Judge with the Cup of Wrath

That for which Ps 74 prays: Arise, Jahve, plead Thine own cause (Psa 74:22.), Psa 75:1-10 beholds; the judgment of God upon the proud sinners becomes a source of praise and of a triumphant spirit to the psalmist. The prophetic picture stands upon a lyrical groundwork of gold; it emerges out of the depth of feeling, and it is drawn back again into it. The inscription: To the Precentor, (after the measure:) Destroy not (vid., on Psa 57:1), a Psalm by Asaph, a Song, is fully borne out. The Sela shows that the Psalm, as מזמור שׁיר says, is appointed to be sung with musical accompaniment; and to the לאסף corresponds its thoroughly Asaphic character, which calls Ps 50 to mind with especial force. But from this Psalm Psa 75:1-10 differs, however, in this particular, viz., that a more clearly defined situation of affairs manifests itself through the hope of the judicial interposition of God which is expressed in it with prophetic certainty. According to appearances it is the time of the judgment of the nations in the person of Assyria; not, however, the time immediately following the great catastrophe, but prior to this, when Isaiah's prophecy concerning the shattering of the Assyrian power against Jerusalem had gone forth, just as Hengstenberg also regards this Psalm as the lyrical companion of the prophecies which Isaiah uttered in the presence of the ruin which threatened from Assyria, and as a testimony to the living faith with which the church at that time received the word of God. Hitzig, however, assigns both Psa 75:1-10 and Psa 76:1-12 to Judas Maccabaeus, who celebrates the victory over Apollonius in the one, and the victory over Seron in the other: "we may imagine that he utters the words of Ps 75:11 whilst he brandishes the captured sword of the fallen Apollonius." But the probability that it refers to the Assyrian period is at least equally balanced with the probability that it refers to the Maccabaean (vid., Psa 75:7; Psa 76:5-7); and if the time of Hezekiah were to be given up, then we might sooner go back to the time of Jehoshaphat, for both songs are too original to appear as echoes and not much rather as models of the later prophecy. The only influence that is noticeable in Psa 75:1-10 is that of the Song of Hannah.

Psalms 75:1

psa 75:1

The church in anticipation gives thanks for the judicial revelation of its God, the near approach of which He Himself asserts to it. The connection with ו in וקרוב שׁמך presents a difficulty. Neither here nor anywhere else is it to be supposed that ו is synonymous with כּי; but at any rate even כי might stand instead of it. For Hupfeld's attempt to explain it: and "near is Thy name" Thy wonders have declared; and Hitzig's: and Thou whose Name is near, they declare Thy wondrous works - are past remedy. Such a personification of wonders does not belong to the spirit of Hebrew poetry, and such a relative clause lies altogether beyond the bounds of syntax. If we would, however, take וקרוב שׁמך, after Psa 50:23, as a result of the thanksgiving (Campensis), then that for which thanks are rendered would remain undefined; neither will it do to take קרוב as referring to the being inwardly present (Hengstenberg), since this, according to Jer 12:2 (cf. Deu 30:14), would require some addition, which should give to the nearness this reference to the mouth or to the heart. Thus, therefore, nothing remains for us but to connect the nearness of the Name of God as an outward fact with the earnest giving of thanks. The church has received the promise of an approaching judicial, redemptive revelation of God, and now says, "We give Thee thanks, we give thanks and near is Thy Name;" it welcomes the future act of God with heartfelt thanksgiving, all those who belong to it declare beforehand the wonders of God. Such was really the position of matters when in Hezekiah's time the oppression of the Assyrians had reached its highest point - Isaiah's promises of a miraculous divine deliverance were at that time before them, and the believing ones saluted beforehand, with thanksgiving, the "coming Name of Jahve" (Isa 30:27). The כּי which was to be expected after הודינו (cf. e.g., Psa 100:4.) does not follow until Psa 75:3. God Himself undertakes the confirmation of the forthcoming thanksgiving and praise by a direct announcement of the help that is hailed and near at hand (Psa 85:10). It is not to be rendered, "when I shall seize," etc., for Psa 75:3 has not the structure of an apodosis. כּי is confirmatory, and whatever interpretation we may give to it, the words of the church suddenly change into the words of God. מועד in the language of prophecy, more especially of the apocalyptic character, is a standing expression fore the appointed time of the final judgment (vid., on Hab 2:3). When this moment or juncture in the lapse of time shall have arrived, then God will seize or take possession of it (לקח in the unweakened original sense of taking hold of with energy, cf. Psa 18:17; Gen 2:15): He Himself will then interpose and hold judgment according to the strictly observed rule of right (מישׁרים, adverbial accusative, cf. במישׁרים, Psa 9:9, and frequently). If it even should come to pass that the earth and all its inhabitants are melting away (cf. Isa 14:31; Exo 15:15; Jos 2:9), i.e., under the pressure of injustice (as is to be inferred from Psa 75:3), are disheartened, scattered asunder, and are as it were in the act of dissolution, then He (the absolute I, אנכי) will restrain this melting away: He setteth in their places the pillars, i.e., the internal shafts (Job 9:6), of the earth, or without any figure: He again asserts the laws which lie at the foundation of its stability. תכּנתּי is a mood of certainty, and Psa 75:4 is a circumstantial clause placed first, after the manner of the Latin ablative absolute. Hitzig appropriately compares Pro 29:9; Isa 23:15 may also be understood according to this bearing of the case.

The utterance of God is also continued after the Sela. It is not the people of God who turn to the enemies with the language of warning on the ground of the divine promise (Hengstenberg); the poet would then have said אמרנוּ, or must at least have said על־כּן אמרתּי. God Himself speaks, and His words are not yet peremptorily condemning, as in Psa 50:16., cf. Psa 46:11, but admonitory and threatening, because it is not He who has already appeared for the final judgment who speaks, but He who announces His appearing. With אמרתּי He tells the braggarts who are captivated with the madness of supposed greatness, and the evil-doers who lift up the horn or the head,

(Note: The head is called in Sanscrit iras, in Zend aranh, = κάρα; the horn in Sanscrit, ringa, i.e., (according to Burnlouf, Etudes, p. 19) that which proceeds from and projects out of the head (iras), Zend rva = κέρας, קרן (ḳarn).)

hat He will have once for all said to them, and what they are to suffer to be said to them for the short space of time till the judgment. The poet, if we have assigned the right date to the Psalm, has Rabshakeh and his colleagues before his mind, cf. Isa 37:23. The ל, as in that passage, and like אל in Zac 2:4 (vid., Khler), has the idea of a hostile tendency. אל rules also over Psa 75:6: "speak not insolence with a raised neck." It is not to be construed עתק בצוּאר, with a stiff neck. Parallel passages like Psa 31:19; Psa 94:4, and more especially the primary passage Sa1 5:3, show that עתק is an object-notion, and that בצוּאר by itself (with which, too, the accentuation harmonizes, since Munach here is the vicarius of a distinctive), according to Job 15:26, has the sense of τραχηλιῶτες or ὑπεραυχοῦντες.

Psalms 75:6

psa 75:6

The church here takes up the words of God, again beginning with the כּי of Psa 75:3 (cf. the כּי in Sa1 2:3). A passage of the Midrash says הרים חוץ מזה כל הרים שׁבמקרא (everywhere where harim is found in Scripture it signifies harim, mountains, with the exception of this passage), and accordingly it is explained by Rashi, Kimchi, Alshch, and others, that man, whithersoever he may turn, cannot by strength and skill attain great exaltation and prosperity.

(Note: E.g., Bamidbar Rabba ch. xxii.; whereas according to Berêshı̂th Rabba ch. lii. הרים is equivalent to דּרום.)

Thus it is according to the reading ממּדבּר, although Kimchi maintains that it can also be so explained with the reading ממּדבּר, by pointing to מרמס (Isa 10:6) and the like. It is, however, difficult to see why, in order to express the idea "from anywhere," three quarters of the heavens should be used and the north left out. These three quarters of the heavens which are said to represent the earthly sources of power (Hupfeld), are a frame without the picture, and the thought, "from no side (viz., of the earth) cometh promotion" - in itself whimsical in expression - offers a wrong confirmation for the dissuasive that has gone before. That, however, which the church longs for is first of all not promotion, but redemption. On the other hand, the lxx, Targum, Syriac, and Vulgate render: a deserto montium (desertis montibus); and even Aben-Ezra rightly takes it as a Palestinian designation of the south, when he supplements the aposiopesis by means of מי שׁיושׁיעם (more biblically יבע עזרנוּ, cf. Psa 121:1.). The fact that the north is not mentioned at all shows that it is a northern power which arrogantly, even to blasphemy, threatens the small Israelitish nation with destruction, and against which it looks for help neither from the east and west, nor from the reed-staff of Egypt (Isa 36:6) beyond the desert of the mountains of Arabia Petraea, but from Jahve alone, according to the watchword of Isaiah: שׁפטנוּ ה (Isa 33:22). The negative thought is left unfinished, the discourse hurrying on to the opposite affirmative thought. The close connection of the two thoughts is strikingly expressed by the rhymes הרים and ידים. The כּי of Psa 75:8 gives the confirmation of the negation from the opposite, that which is denied; the כּי of Psa 75:9 confirms this confirmation. If it were to be rendered, "and the wine foams," it would then have been היּין; מסך, which is undoubtedly accusative, also shows that yayin is also not considered as anything else: and it (the cup) foams (חמר like Arab. 'chtmr, to ferment, effervesce) with wine, is full of mixture. According to the ancient usage of the language, which is also followed by the Arabic, this is wine mixed with water in distinction from merum, Arabic chamr memzûg'e. Wine was mixed with water not merely to dilute it, but also to make it more pleasant; hence מסך signifies directly as much as to pour out (vid., Hitzig on Isa 5:22). It is therefore unnecessary to understand spiced wine (Talmudic קונדיטון, conditum), since the collateral idea of weakening is also not necessarily associated with the admixture of water. מזּה refers to כּוס, which is used as masculine, as in Jer 25:15; the word is feminine elsewhere, and changes its gender even here in שׁמריה (cf. Eze 23:34). In the fut. consec. ויּגּר the historical signification of the consecutive is softened down, as is frequently the case. אך affirms the whole assertion that follows. The dregs of the cup - a dira necessitas - all the wicked of the earth shall be compelled to sip (Isa 51:17), to drink out: they shall not be allowed to drink and make a pause, but, compelled by Jahve, who has appeared as Judge, they shall be obliged to drink it out with involuntary eagerness even to the very last (Eze 23:34). We have here the primary passage of a figure, which has been already hinted at in Psa 60:5, and is filled in on a more and more magnificent and terrible scale in the prophets. Whilst Obadiah (Oba 1:16, cf. Job 21:20) contents himself with a mere outline sketch, it is found again, in manifold applications, in Isaiah, Habakkuk, and Ezekiel, and most frequently in Jeremiah (Jer 25:27., Jer 48:26; Jer 49:12), where in Psa 25:15. it is embodied into a symbolical act. Jahve's cup of intoxication (inasmuch as חמה and חמר, the burning of anger and intoxicating, fiery wine, are put on an equality) is the judgment of wrath which is meted out to sinners and given them to endure to the end.

Psalms 75:9

psa 75:9

The poet now turns back thankfully and cheerfully from the prophetically presented future to his own actual present. With ואני he contrasts himself as a member of the now still oppressed church with its proud oppressors: he will be a perpetual herald of the ever memorable deed of redemption. לעולם, says he, for, when he gives himself up so entirely to God the Redeemer, for him there is no dying. If he is a member of the ecclesia pressa, then he will also be a member of the ecclesia triumphans; for ει ̓ ὑπομένομεν, καὶ συμβασιλεύσομεν (Ti2 2:12). In the certainty of this συμβασιλεύειν, and in the strength of God, which is even now mighty in the weak one, he measures himself in v. 11 by the standard of what he expresses in Psa 75:8 as God's own work. On the figure compare Deu 33:17; Lam 2:3, and more especially the four horns in the second vision of Zechariah, Zac 2:1. Zac 1:18.. The plural is both קרנות and קרני, because horns that do not consist of horn are meant. Horns are powers for offence and defence. The spiritual horns maintain the sovereignty over the natural. The Psalm closes as subjectively as it began. The prophetic picture is set in a lyric frame.

Next: Psalms Chapter 76