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

Psalms Chapter 92


psa 92:0

Sabbath Thoughts

This Song-Psalm for the Sabbath-day was the Sabbath-Psalm among the week's Psalms of the post-exilic service (cf. pp. 18, 211); and was sung in the morning at the drink-offering of the first Tamd lamb, just as at the accompanying Sabbath-musaph-offering (Num 28:9.) a part of the song Deut. 32 (divided into six parts) was sung, and at the service connected with the Mincha or evening sacrifice one of the three pieces, Exo 15:1-10, Exo 15:11-19, Num 21:17-20 (B. Rosh ha-Shana 31a). 1 Macc. 9:23 is a reminiscence from Psa 92:1-15 deviating but little from the lxx version, just as 1 Macc. 7:17 is a quotation taken from Ps 89. With respect to the sabbatical character of the Psalm, it is a disputed question even in the Talmud whether it relates to the Sabbath of the Creation (R. Nehemiah, as it is taken by the Targum) or to the final Sabbath of the world's history (R. Akiba: the day that is altogether Sabbath; cf. Athanasius: αἰνεῖ ἐκείνην τὴν γενησομένην ἀνάπαυσιν). The latter is relatively more correct. It praises God, the Creator of the world, as the Ruler of the world, whose rule is pure loving-kindness and faithfulness, and calms itself, in the face of the flourishing condition of the evil-doers, with the prospect of the final issue, which will brilliantly vindicate the righteousness of God, that was at that time imperceptible to superficial observation, and will change the congregation of the righteous into a flourishing grove of palms and cedars upon holy ground. In this prospect Psa 92:12 and Psa 91:8 coincide, just as God is also called "the Most High" at the beginning of these two Psalms. But that the tetragrammaton occurs seven times in both Psalms, as Hengstenberg says, does not turn out to be correct. Only the Sabbath-Psalm (and not Ps 91) repeats the most sacred Name seven times. And certainly the unmistakeable strophe-schema too, 6. 6. 7. 6. 6, is not without significance. The middle of the Psalm bears the stamp of the sabbatic number. It is also worthy of remark that the poet gains the number seven by means of an anadiplosis in Psa 92:10. Such an emphatic climax by means of repetition is common to our Psalm with Psa 93:3; Psa 94:3; Psa 96:13.

Psalms 92:1

psa 92:1

The Sabbath is the day that God has hallowed, and that is to be consecrated to God by our turning away from the business pursuits of the working days (Isa 58:13.) and applying ourselves to the praise and adoration of God, which is the most proper, blessed Sabbath employment. It is good, i.e., not merely good in the eyes of God, but also good for man, beneficial to the heart, pleasant and blessed. Loving-kindness is designedly connected with the dawn of the morning, for it is morning light itself, which breaks through the night (Psa 30:6; Psa 59:17), and faithfulness with the nights, for in the perils of the loneliness of the night it is the best companion, and nights of affliction are the "foil of its verification." עשׂור beside נבל (נבל) is equivalent to נבל עשׂור in Psa 33:2; Psa 144:9 : the ten-stringed harp or lyre. הגּיון is the music of stringed instruments (vid., on Psa 9:17), and that, since הגה in itself is not a suitable word for the rustling (strepitus) of the strings, the impromptu or phantasia playing (in Amo 6:5, scornfully, פּרט), which suits both Psa 9:17 (where it is appended to the forte of the interlude) and the construction with Beth instrumenti.

Psalms 92:4

psa 92:4

Statement of the ground of this commendation of the praise of God. Whilst פּעל is the usual word for God's historical rule (Psa 44:2; Psa 64:10; Psa 90:16, etc.), מעשׂי ידיך denotes the works of the Creator of the world, although not to the exclusion of those of the Ruler of the world (Psa 143:5). To be able to rejoice over the revelation of God in creation and the revelation of God in general is a gift from above, which the poet thankfully confesses that he has received. The Vulgate begins Psa 92:5 Quia delectasti me, and Dante in his Purgatorio, xxviii. 80, accordingly calls the Psalm il Salmo Delectasti; a smiling female form, which represents the life of Paradise, says, as she gathers flowers, she is so happy because, with the Psalm Delectasti, she takes a delight in the glory of God's works. The works of God are transcendently great; very deep are His thoughts, which mould human history and themselves gain from in it (cf. Psa 40:6; Psa 139:17., where infinite fulness is ascribed to them, and Isa 55:8, where infinite height is ascribed to them). Man can neither measure the greatness of the divine works nor fathom the depth of the divine thoughts; he who is enlightened, however, perceives the immeasurableness of the one and the unfathomableness of the other, whilst a אישׁ־בּער, a man of animal nature, homo brutus (vid., Psa 73:22), does not come to the knowledge (לא ידע, used absolutely as in Psa 14:4), and כּסיל, a blockhead, or one dull in mind, whose carnal nature outweighs his intellectual and spiritual nature, does not discern את־זאת (cf. Sa2 13:17), id ipsum, viz., how unsearchable are God's judgments and untrackable His ways (Rom 11:33).

Psalms 92:7

psa 92:7

Upon closer examination the prosperity of the ungodly is only a semblance that lasts for a time. The infinitive construction in Psa 92:8 is continued in the historic tense, and it may also be rendered as historical. זאת היתה (Saadia: Arab. fânnh) is to be supplied in thought before להשּׁמדם, as in Job 27:14. What is spoken of is an historical occurrence which, in its beginning, course, and end, has been frequently repeated even down to the present day, and ever confirmed afresh. And thus, too, in time to come and once finally shall the ungodly succumb to a peremptory, decisive (עדי־עד) judgment of destruction. Jahve is מרום לעלם, by His nature and by His rule He is "a height for ever;" i.e., in relation to the creature and all that goes on here below He has a nature beyond and above all this (Jenseitigkeit), ever the same and absolute; He is absolutely inaccessible to the God-opposed one here below who vaunts himself in stupid pride and rebelliously exalts himself as a titan, and only suffers it to last until the term of his barren blossoming is run out. Thus the present course of history will and must in fact end in a final victory of good over evil: for lo Thine enemies, Jahve - for lo Thine enemies.... הנּה points as it were with the finger to the inevitable end; and the emotional anadiplosis breathes forth a zealous love for the cause of God as if it were his own. God's enemies shall perish, all the workers of evil shall be disjointed, scattered, יתפּרדוּ (cf. Job 4:11). Now they form a compact mass, which shall however fall to pieces, when one day the intermingling of good and evil has an end.

Psalms 92:10

psa 92:10

The hitherto oppressed church then stands forth vindicated and glorious. The futt. consec. as preterites of the ideal past, pass over further on into the pure expression of future time. The lxx renders: καὶ ὑψωθήσεται (ותּרם) ὡς μονοκέρωτος τὸ κέρας μου. By ראים (incorrect for ראם, primary form ראם), μονόκερως, is surely to be understood the oryx, one-horned according to Aristotle and the Talmud (vid., on Psa 29:6; Job 39:9-12). This animal is called in Talmudic קרשׂ (perhaps abbreviated from μονόκερως); the Talmud also makes use of ארזילא (the gazelle) as synonymous with ראם (Aramaic definitive or emphatic state רימא).

(Note: Vid., Lewysohn, Zoologie des Talmud, 146 and 174.)

The primary passages for figures taken from animal life are Num 23:22; Deu 33:17. The horn is an emblem of defensive power and at the same time of stately grace; and the fresh, green oil an emblem of the pleasant feeling and enthusiasm, joyous in the prospect of victory, by which the church is then pervaded (Act 3:19). The lxx erroneously takes בּלּותי as infin. Piel, τὸ γῆράς μου, my being grown old, a signification which the Piel cannot have. It is 1st praet. Kal from בּלל, perfusus sum (cf. Arabic balla, to be moist, ballah and bullah, moistness, good health, the freshness of youth), and the ultima-accentuation, which also occurs in this form of double Ajin verbs without Waw convers. (vid., on Job 19:17), ought not to mislead. In the expression שׁמן רענן, the adjective used in other instances only of the olive-tree itself is transferred to the oil, which contains the strength of its succulent verdure as an essence. The ecclesia pressa is then triumphans. The eye, which was wont to look timidly and tearfully upon the persecutors, the ears, upon which even their name and the tidings of their approach were wont to produce terror, now see their desire upon them as they are blotted out. שׁמע בּ (found only here) follows the sense of ראה בּ, cf. Arab. nḍr fı̂, to lose one's self in the contemplation of anything. שׁוּרי is either a substantive after the form בּוּז, גּוּר, or a participle in the signification "those who regarded me with hostility, those who lay in wait for me," like נוּס, fled, Num 35:32, סוּר, having removed themselves to a distance, Jer 17:13, שׁוּב, turned back, Mic 2:8; for this participial form has not only a passive signification (like מוּל, circumcised), but sometimes too, a deponent perfect signification; and חוּשׁ in Num 32:17, if it belongs here, may signify hurried = in haste. In שׁוּרי, however, no such passive colouring of the meaning is conceivable; it is therefore: insidiati (Luzatto, Grammatica, 518: coloro che mi guatavano). There is no need for regarding the word, with Bttcher and Olshausen, as distorted from שׁררי (the apocopated participle Pilel of the same verb); one might more readily regard it as a softening of that word as to the sound (Ewald, Hitzig). In Psa 92:12 it is not to be rendered: upon the wicked doers (villains) who rise up against me. The placing of the adjective thus before its substantive must (with the exception of רב when used after the manner of a numeral) be accounted impossible in Hebrew, even in the face of the passages brought forward by Hitzig, viz., Ch1 27:5; Sa1 31:3;

(Note: In the former passage כהן ראשׁ is taken as one notion (chief priest), and in the latter אנשׁים בקשׁת (men with the bow) is, with Keil, to be regarded as an apposition.)

it is therefore: upon those who as villains rise up against. The circumstance that the poet now in Psa 92:13 passes from himself to speak of the righteous, is brought about by the fact that it is the congregation of the righteous in general, i.e., of those who regulate their life according to the divine order of salvation, into whose future he here takes a glance. When the prosperity lit. the blossoming of the ungodly comes to an end, the springing up and growth of the righteous only then rightly has its beginning. The richness of the inflorescence of date-palm (תּמר) is clear from the fact, that when it has attained its full size, it bears from three to four, and in some instances even as many as six, hundred pounds of fruit. And there is no more charming and majestic sight than the palm of the oasis, this prince among the trees of the plain, with its proudly raised diadem of leaves, its attitude peering forth into the distance and gazing full into the face of the sun, its perennial verdure, and its vital force, which constantly renews itself from the root - a picture of life in the midst of the world of death. The likening of the righteous to the palm, to the "blessed tree," to this "sister of man," as the Arabs call it, offers points of comparison in abundance. Side by side with the palm is the cedar, the prince of the trees of the mountain, and in particular of Mount Lebanon. The most natural point of comparison, as ישׂגּה (cf. Job 8:11) states, is its graceful lofty growth, then in general τὸ δασὺ καὶ θερμὸν καὶ θρέψιμον (Theodoret), i.e., the intensity of its vegetative strength, but also the perpetual verdure of its foliage and the perfume (Hos 14:7) which it exhales.

Psalms 92:13

psa 92:13

The soil in which the righteous are planted or (if it is not rendered with the lxx πεφυτευμένοι, but with the other Greek versions μεταφυτευθέντες) into which they are transplanted, and where they take root, a planting of the Lord, for His praise, is His holy Temple, the centre of a family fellowship with God that is brought about from that point as its starting-point and is unlimited by time and space. There they stand as in sacred ground and air, which impart to them ever new powers of life; they put forth buds (הפריח as in Job 14:9) and preserve a verdant freshness and marrowy vitality (like the olive, 52:10, Jdg 9:9) even into their old age (נוּב of a productive force for putting out shoots; vid., with reference to the root נב, Genesis, S. 635f.), cf. Isa 65:22 : like the duration of the trees is the duration of my people; they live long in unbroken strength, in order, in looking back upon a life rich in experiences of divine acts of righteousness and loving-kindness, to confirm the confession which Moses, in Deu 32:4, places at the head of his great song. There the expression is אין עול, here it is אין עלתה בּו. This ‛ôlātha, softened from ‛awlātha - So the Ker - with a transition from the aw, au into ô, is also found in Job 5:16 (cf. עלה = עולה Psa 58:3; Psa 64:7; Isa 61:8), and is certainly original in this Psalm, which also has many other points of coincidence with the Book of Job (like Ps 107, which, however, in Psa 107:42 transposes עלתה into עולה).

Next: Psalms Chapter 93