Sacred Texts  Bible  Bible Commentary  Index 
Psalms Index
  Previous  Next 

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

Psalms Chapter 76


psa 76:0

Praise of God after His Judgment Has Gone Forth

No Psalm has a greater right to follow Psa 75:1-10 than this, which is inscribed To the Precentor, with accompaniment of stringed instruments (vid., Psa 4:1), a Psalm by Asaph, a song. Similar expressions (God of Jacob, Psa 75:10; Psa 76:7; saints, wicked of the earth, Psa 75:9; Psa 76:10) and the same impress throughout speak in favour of unity of authorship. In other respects, too, they form a pair: Psa 75:1-10 prepares the way for the divine deed of judgment as imminent, which Psa 76:1-12 celebrates as having taken place. For it is hardly possible for there to be a Psalm the contents of which so exactly coincide with an historical situation of which more is known from other sources, as the contents of this Psalm confessedly (lxx πρὸς τὸν Ἀσσύριον) does with the overthrow of the army of Assyria before Jerusalem and its results. The Psalter contains very similar Psalms which refer to a similar event in the reign of Jehoshaphat, viz., to the defeat at that time of the allied neighbouring peoples by a mutual massacre, which was predicted by the Asaphite Jahaziel (vid., on Psa 46:1-11 and Ps 83). Moreover in Psa 76:1-12 the "mountains of prey," understood of the mountains of Seir with their mounted robbers, would point to this incident. But just as in Psa 75:1-10 the reference to the catastrophe of Assyria in the reign of Hezekiah was indicated by the absence of any mention of the north, so in Psa 76:1-12 both the שׁמּה in Psa 76:4 and the description of the catastrophe itself make this reference and no other natural. The points of contact with Isaiah, and in part with Hosea (cf. Psa 76:4 with Hos 2:20) and Nahum, are explicable from the fact that the lyric went hand in hand with the prophecy of that period, as Isaiah predicts for the time when Jahve shall discharge His fury over Assyria, Isa 30:29, "Your song shall re-echo as in the night, in which the feast is celebrated."

The Psalm is hexastichic, and a model of symmetrical strophe-structure.

Psalms 76:1

psa 76:1

In all Israel, and more especially in Judah, is Elohim known (here, according to Psa 76:2, participle, whereas in Psa 9:17 it is the finite verb), inasmuch as He has made Himself known (cf. דּעוּ, Isa 33:13). His Name is great in Israel, inasmuch as He has proved Himself to be a great One and is praised as a great One. In Judah more especially, for in Jerusalem, and that upon Zion, the citadel with the primeval gates (Psa 24:7), He has His dwelling-place upon earth within the borders of Israel. שׁלם is the ancient name of Jerusalem; for the Salem of Melchizedek is one and the same city with the Jerusalem of Adonizedek, Jos 10:1. In this primeval Salem God has סוּכּו, His tabernacle (= שׂכּו, Lam 2:6, = סכּתו, as in Psa 27:5), there מעונתו, His dwelling-place, - a word elsewhere used of the lair of the lion (Psa 104:22, Amo 3:4); cf. on the choice of words, Isa 31:9. The future of the result ויהי is an expression of the fact which is evident from God's being known in Judah and His Name great in Israel. Psa 76:4 tells what it is by which He has made Himself known and glorified His Name. שׁמּה, thitherwards, in that same place (as in fact the accusative, in general, is used both in answer to the question where? and whither?), is only a fuller form for שׁם, as in Isa 22:18; Isa 65:9; Kg2 23:8, and frequently; Arab. ta̱mma (tu̱mma) and תּמּן (from תּמּה) confirm the accusative value of the ah. רשׁפי־קשׁת (with Phe raphatum, cf. on the other hand, Sol 8:6)

(Note: The pointing is here just as inconsistent as in ילדוּת, and on the contrary מרדּוּת.))

are the arrows swift as lightning that go forth (Job 41:20-28) from the bow; side by side with these, two other weapons are also mentioned, and finally everything that pertains to war is gathered up in the word מלחמה (cf. Hos 2:18). God has broken in pieces the weapons of the worldly power directed against Judah, and therewith this power itself (Isa 14:25), and consequently (in accordance with the prediction Hos 1:7, and Isa 10, 14, Isa 17:1-14, 29, Isa 31:1-9, 33, 37, and more particularly Psa 31:8) has rescued His people by direct interposition, without their doing anything in the matter.

Psalms 76:4

psa 76:4

The "mountains of prey," for which the lxx has ὀρέων αἰωνίων (טרם?), is an emblematical appellation for the haughty possessors of power who also plunder every one that comes near them,

(Note: One verse of a beautiful poem of the Muḥammel which Ibn Dûchı̂, the phylarch of the Beni Zumeir, an honoured poet of the steppe, dictated to Consul Wetzstein runs thus: The noble are like a very lofty hill-side upon which, when thou comest to it, thou findest an evening meal and protection (Arab. 'l-‛š' w-ḏry).)

or the proud and despoiling worldly powers. Far aloft beyond these towers the glory of God. He is נאור, illustris, prop. illumined; said of God: light-encircled, fortified in light, in the sense of Dan 2:22; Ti1 6:16. He is the אדּיר, to whom the Lebanon of the hostile army of the nations must succumb (Isa 10:34) According to Solinus (ed. Mommsen, p. 124) the Moors call Atlas Addirim. This succumbing is described in Psa 76:6. The strong of heart or stout-hearted, the lion-hearted, have been despoiled, disarmed, exuti; אשׁתּוללוּ

(Note: With orthophonic Gaja, vid., Baer's Metheg-Setzung, 45.)

is an Aramaizing praet. Hithpo. (like אתחבּר, Ch2 20:35, cf. Dan 4:16; Isa 63:3) with a passive signification. From Psa 76:6 we see that the beginning of the catastrophe is described, and therefore נמוּ (perhaps on that account accented on the ult.) is meant inchoatively: they have fallen into their sleep, viz., the eternal sleep (Jer 51:39, Jer 51:57), as Nahum says (Nah 3:18): thy shepherds sleep, O king of Assyria, thy valiant ones rest. In Psa 76:6 we see them lying in the last throes of death, and making a last effort to spring up again. But they cannot find their hands, which they have lifted up threateningly against Jerusalem: these are lamed, motionless, rigid and dead; cf. the phrases in Jos 8:20; Sa2 7:27, and the Talmudic phrase, "he did not find his hands and feet in the school-house," i.e., he was entirely disconcerted and stupefied.

(Note: Dukes, Rabbinische Blumenlese, S. 191.)

This field of corpses is the effect of the omnipotent energy of the word of the God of Jacob; cf. וגער בּו, Isa 17:13. Before His threatening both war-chariot and horse (ו - ו) are sunk into motionlessness and unconsciousness - an allusion to Ex. 15, as in Isa 43:17 : who bringeth out chariot and horse, army and heroes - together they faint away, they shall never rise; they have flickered out, like a wick they are extinguished.

Psalms 76:7

psa 76:7

Nahum also (Psa 1:6) draws the same inference from the defeat of Sennacherib as the psalmist does in Psa 76:8. מאז אפּך (cf. Rut 2:7; Jer 44:18), from the decisive turning-point onwards, from the אז in Psa 2:5, when Thine anger breaks forth. God sent forth His judiciary word from heaven into the midst of the din of war of the hostile world: immediately (cf. on the sequence of the tenses Psa 48:6, and on Hab 3:10) it was silenced, the earth was seized with fear, and its tumult was obliged to cease, when, namely, God arose on behalf of His disquieted, suffering people, when He spoke as we read in Isa 33:10, and fulfilled the prayer offered in extreme need in Isa 33:2.

Psalms 76:10

psa 76:10

The fact that has just been experienced is substantiated in Psa 76:10 from a universal truth, which has therein become outwardly manifest. The rage of men shall praise Thee, i.e., must ultimately redound to Thy glory, inasmuch as to Thee, namely (Psa 76:1 as to syntax like Psa 73:3), there always remains a שׁארית, i.e., a still unexhausted remainder, and that not merely of חמה, but of חמת, with which Thou canst gird, i.e., arm, Thyself against such human rage, in order to quench it. שׁארית חמת is the infinite store of wrath still available to God after human rage has done its utmost. Or perhaps still better, and more fully answering to the notion of שׁארית: it is the store of the infinite fulness of wrath which still remains on the side of God after human rage (חמה) has spent itself, when God calmly, and laughing (Psa 2:4), allows the Titans to do as they please, and which is now being poured out. In connection with the interpretation: with the remainder of the fury (of hostile men) wilt Thou gird Thyself, i.e., it serves Thee only as an ornament (Hupfeld), the alternation of חמה and חמת is left unexplained, and תּחגּר is alienated from its martial sense (Isa 59:17; Isa 51:9, Wisd. 5:21 [20]), which is required by the context. Ewald, like the lxx, reads תּחגּך, ἑορτάσει σοι, in connection with which, apart from the high-sounding expression, שׁארית חמת (ἐγκατάλειμμα ἐνθυμίου) must denote the remainder of malignity that is suddenly converted into its opposite; and one does not see why what Psa 76:11 says concerning rage is here limited to its remainder. Such an inexhaustiveness in the divine wrath-power has been shown in what has just recently been experienced. Thus, then, are those who belong to the people of God to vow and pay, i.e., (inasmuch as the preponderance falls upon the second imperative) to pay their vows; and all who are round about Him, i.e., all the peoples dwelling round about Him and His people (כּל־סביביו, the subject to what follows, in accordance with which it is also accented), are to bring offerings (Psa 68:30) to God, who is מורא, i.e., the sum of all that is awe-inspiring. Thus is He called in Isa 8:13; the summons accords with Isaiah's prediction, according to which, in consequence of Jahve's deed of judgment upon Assyria, Aethiopia presents himself to Him as an offering (Isa 18:1-7), and with the fulfilment in Ch2 32:23. Just so does v. 13a resemble the language of Isaiah; cf. Isa 25:1-12; Isa 33:1; Isa 18:5 : God treats the snorting of the princes, i.e., despots, as the vine-dresser does the wild shoots or branches of the vine-stock: He lops it, He cuts it off, so that it is altogether ineffectual. It is the figure that is sketched by Joe 3:13, then filled in by Isaiah, and embodied as a vision in Rev 14:17-20, which is here indicated. God puts an end to the defiant, arrogant bearing of the tyrants of the earth, and becomes at last the feared of all the kings of the earth - all kingdoms finally becomes God's and His Christ's.

Next: Psalms Chapter 77