Imagens das páginas

of Gideon with the sword of Jehovah might 'strengthen the hands of three hundred to make the host of the East run and cry and flee though they lay along the valley like grasshoppers for multitude.' So 'the spirit of Jehovah had come upon Jephthah,' and had 'moved Samson at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol;' but wild and lawless characters like these could never be the instructors of a nation. A man must first weed his own soul of evil before he can ‘pluck up all the ungodly from the land,' or 'root out all evildoers from the city of Jehovah. It was this lack of moral discipline that turned Saul, on whom the Spirit of God had once come with such force, that he 'prophesied among the prophets,' into “the mistake, the failure, the ruin' he became. It was David who saw that it was not what a man does which exalts him but what he is, that it was not occasional acts of prowess but the heartfelt love of righteousness that raises a man to be the Vicegerent of Jehovah : it was David who first caught the full meaning of the great utterance of Samuel that it was a nobler task to satisfy the spirit of the Law by obedience of the life, than the letter by hecatombs of hostile spoil. David's own moral exaltation and still more the spirit of fearless justice in which he ruled had its effect upon the nation at large. The Theocracy became real to them in a sense in which it had never been before. They saw that an organized system which was based upon religion and built up of justice, was more truly the embodiment of the Divine Government than the fitful inspiration of the Judges. Thus they won the might that comes from right: they felt that a war in defence of this new organization was most truly a holy war, and that, if David was the head of it, he was not only the king but the high priest of his people. Animated by this feeling they forgot all the old 'divisions and searchings of heart,' and flocked round the standard of their king in such numbers and with such a spirit that they crushed the greatest coalition that ever threatened to destroy their religion and their nation.

§ 10. Psalm cx. THE king is setting forth to war after prayer and sacrifice; the

Prophet promises the help of Jehovah, whom in a bold figure he

describes as driving to the battle in His chariot of war, with the king, as His earthly vicegerent, seated at His sidel. Fired by this thought, the imagination of the poet pictures the fight and the victory. He sees the king grasping the sacred sceptre and asserting his supremacy over his foes. He sees the troops, ready to go in jeopardy of their lives for their God and for their king, glittering in their armour, like victims decked for the sacrifice, brilliant and countless as dew-drops of the summer morn?

Here the Psalmist pauses in his song of triumph, to begin a second strophe, as he had begun the first, with a fresh promise from Jehovah, that the golden age of the Patriarchs is to be realised once more, and that David is to be the priest as well as the king of the nation 4

Then he returns to the thought of the impending battle, and shews that the promise was not to be barren of result; that the king's new inviolability would be vindicated on the battle-field ; that the God, whose priest he was, would fight beside him and would assert His supremacy over the kings of the Heathen by a judgment which would cover the field with the slain”. 1. The Psalmist relateth God's promise of help, the presages of victory, and the mustering

of the troops: Jehovah saith unto my lord; Sit thou on my right hand, I

until ¥ make thine enemies thy footstool. Jehovah shall send thee the sceptre of power out of Sion; 2

-be thou ruler in the midst among thine enemies !thy people are a free-will offering in thy day of battle; 3

in holy array, as dew-drops from the womb of the morning,

thou hast the bands of thy warriors. Ver. 1. Jehovah. For a similar picture of God's leadership of the Israelite host, cp. $ 119. xliv. 10; 2 Sam. v. 24, and Deut. ix. 3; Judg. iv. 14; Isa. lii. 12, &c.

Ver. 3. In holy array_warriors. Literally, 'in holy array, from the womb of the morning, thou hast the dew of thy youth.' Youth is used in the collective sense of youthful warriors.' There are two prominent ideas in the metaphor of the dew, (1) its numberless drops, (2) its refreshing influence. The king need have no anxiety about the insufficiency of his force: the troops, so far from dwindling away or being scattered from him, will take their stand in numbers on the morning of the battle, armed and eager for the fight; a sight as refreshing to his eyes as dew-drops to the parched ground.

U70, 1, 5

v. 2.

3 v. 3.

4 v. 4.

5 U70. 5, 6.

II. he appealeth to God's declaration of the sacredness of the king's office; then passeth to

the description of the battle-field, Jehovah hath sworn and will not repent :

thou art a priest for ever

after the order of Melchizedek ! The Lord upon thy right hand

smiteth in sunder kings in the day of His wrath. He shall judge among the heathen ; the field is full of the slain; He smiteth heads in sunder over a wide country :

111. and the pursuit. he shall drink of the brook in the way,

therefore shall he lift up his head.

Ver. 4. The transition is, 'Thou who hast been a warrior art now a priest as well.' For the military character of the Hebrew priesthood, see Note. The union of priesthood and kingship in David was more complete than in any other sovereign of Judah. At the election of Saul the two offices were entirely distinct: and Saul's attempted usurpation of the priestly functions was severely rebuked and punished, 1 Sam. xiii. 9. This possibly was not without effect in causing the massacre of the priests at Nob; certainly after the massacre the hopes of the priesthood were centred in David, as their protector and future king. Cp. 1 Sam. xxiii. 6, 9; 1 Chron. xii. 27. After this David was recognised as the head of the priesthood, offered sacrifices, 2 Sam. vi. 14-18, and delivered the priestly benediction. So also Solomon, 2 Chron. vi. 3. Though the offices were never subsequently separated in the popular mind, there was occasionally strong antagonism between them, as in the case of Uzziah. See Biblical Dictionary, articles David' and 'Priest.'

For ever, an unlimited time of which the prophet does not see or wish to see the end; cp. the common wish ‘May the king live for ever.' 1 Kings i. 31, &c. Cp. also, $ 22. xxi. 4; § 23. xlv. 3 ; $ 49. Ixi. 7; Prov. xxix. 14, &c. order, i. e, manner. Thou art a priest-king as Meichizedek was.

Ver. 6. Smiteth heads in sunder over a wide country. The Psalmist thus describes the appalling appearance of the field after the utter destruction of the kings, the signs of which are seen throughout the whole course of the pursuit. Cp. 2 Sam. viii. 13.

Ver. 7. he, that is, 'the king;' the change from thy, ver. 5, to he is significant; such transitions from the second to the third person are characteristic of the Hebrew manner of conquering emotion at the close of a poem; cp. § 21. xx. 9.

drink-brook. The king is not to lose the fruits of victory by thirst or weariness under the Eastern sun: his head shall not droop, 'for the brook which he passes on the borders shall sustain him as he drives his foe far beyond the limits of the land ;' for the need, compare how David longed in the heat for the water of the well of Bethlehem (2 Sam. xxiii. 15); how Jonathan and the people were 'faint and distressed' in the pursuit from Michmash (1 Sam. xiv. 24, 29, 30, 31); how Gideon was 'faint yet pursuing' (Judges viii. 4); and how the people had murmured of old on account of the terrible thirst in the wilderness (Ex. xv. 22), till they too were relieved by the sustaining brook of Massah (Ex. xvii. 6). This last short strophe depicts as it were the calm after the storm, when the Psalmist sees clearly in faith the battle ended and the good irresistibly triumphant.



THE main difficulty in the rioth Psalm lies in perceiving the connexion of the 4th verse with the rest of the Psalm. The clue to this difficulty will be found in the intimate association of the Hebrew priesthood with the national wars. Hence it comes that in this battlehymn not only the kingly, but the priestly character of David is brought out.

Whereas the modern idea of priesthood is essentially peaceful, the 'Hebrew priesthood, from the peculiar circumstances of the early history of the nation, was impressed with a military character. “The whole nation' as has been well said, 'was at once a nation of soldiers and a nation of priests. The mission of the Hebrews was not to maintain their faith in a country already acquired, but to win a home for the religion of Jehovah. This could only be achieved by the forcible dispossession of the existing occupants, and on this object all the forces of the nation were concentrated. “That zeal for God should have manifested itself chiefly in the priesthood and that they should not have hesitated to draw the sword is readily accounted for by the fact that in them the ideal of the nation culminated; they were in every sense its representatives?' Thus in the wilderness the congregation formed an encampments when they rested: when they moved, their morning prayer was for the 'scattering of their enemies“;' in the middle went the Ark; around it marched the Levites", their thighs girt with the sword, the appropriate emblem of those who had earned their title to the priesthood by ready zeal in taking vengeance? on the enemies of Jehovah. In war, the trumpet 8 of the priest gave the alarm, a sign that Israel should be remembered before the Lord his God, and should be saved from his enemies.' Thus at their first siege, the sound of the priests' trumpetso was regarded as Jehovah's summons to surrender. Then, as in succeeding 10 times, the presence of the priest on the battle-field assured the troops of victory and symbolized the

1 Perowne On Psalms ii. p. 256.

[ocr errors]


4 Ib. X. 35.

2 Ibid.

3 Numb. ii. 2. 5 Ib. ii. 17.

6 Ex. xxxii. 27. 8 Numb. x. 8, 9. 10 1 Sam. iv. 5; 2 Chron. xiii. 12–15.

7 Numb. xxv, 7, 13; Deut. xxxiii. 9. 9 Josh. vi. 16

Divine sanction of the campaign. Often the priests not only blew the trumpets, offered the necessary sacrificel and addressed the troops, but fought3 in the ranks of the army themselves.

In the monarchy, the priests played an important part in winning David his throne. Saul's massacre of the priests at Nob4 eventually led to the enrolment of the whole priestly tribe as supporters of David; Abiathar fled to David at once with the sacred ephod and the oracular breastplate, and remained with him during his wanderings 6; afterwards the Levites with the Aaronites under the chief priest Jehoiada 'came to Hebron in armed bands to turn the kingdom of Saul to him ; Zadok, then a 'young man, mighty of valour,' came to his aid with "twenty and two captains of his father's house?' Thus the priests were knit to David and became the mainstay of his wars. Benaiah, the chief priest's son, stands out as captain of his bodyguard . : In David's own case the fact of his being a 'man of war' and a “shedder of blood”, though it prevented him from building the Temple, was no bar to his receiving the rights and performing the duties of a priest. The early records supplied another example of one not of Levitical origin being acknowledged as a priest of the most High God. Melchizedek, 'the king of righteousness, who had declared the divine sanction on Abram's warfare 10, seemed the only fit type of this second priest-king, whose shoulders were decked with the priestly capell as the champion of righteousness at home 2 and of the religion of Jehovah in the field.

In this Psalm the sanction of the prophet is given to the priesthood of the king. Throughout it breathes the spirit of Nathan, whos: words 13 inspired the nation for all time with a new and deeper consciousness of God's presence with His people. The occasion for such a trumpet-tongued summons to war may well be sought in one of David's great crusades against the heathen, when by the hands of his invincible captain he reduced Philistia and Moab, smote Edom 4 and Syria in the valley of salt, and held his fearful assize in the ruins of the city of Moloch 15.

[ocr errors]

* S$ 21, 22. xxi, xxii; : Sam. xiii. 9, 13.

2 Deut. xx. 2-4. 3 See Stanley's Jewish Church, and Series, pp. 408, 409, to which most of these references are due. 4 1 Sam. xxii. 19.

5 i Sam, xxii. 20; xxiii. 6, 9. • 1 Kings ii. 26.

7 i Chron. xii. 26-28.
7 Chron xii. 26_

8 1 Chron. xxvii. 5. 91 Chron. xxii. 8. See however 2 Sam. viii. 6.

10 Gen. xiv, 20. 11 2 Sam. vi. 14.

12 § 6. ci. 11.

13 $ 16. ii. 14 $11. Ix. note (2). 15 2 Sam, viii. 1-14; x; xii. 26–31. Stanley's Jewish Church, pp. 97-104.

« AnteriorContinuar »