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how great a change of feeling had taken place in the life-time of a single generation. Samuel had shuddered at the danger of the Theocracy, when the throne of Jehovah was assigned to a human usurper; but the greatness of David's spirit transfigured the whole idea of Monarchy. Saul had paid little attention to the fact that he was a 'Captain of the inheritance of Jehovah, whereas the mainspring of David's actions was the sense of his relation to God. David may thus be said to have created the essential idea of the Israelite polity, that the King was only a regent in God's name, the deputy of Jehovah, and the chosen instrument of His will. So far from holding his office as an usurper he looked upon himself as the constituted witness of the dominion of Jehovah; and because he recognized the law, not of his own pleasure but of God, as the rule of his kingdom, he became closely associated with Nathan', the great prophet of his age, and received from him the promise of the blessing which should rest first on Solomon, and through him on all true kings of Israel.
It is sad to think that the next important interference of the prophetic order after Nathan had secured the throne to Solomon, was the symbolic action of the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite,-an action fraught with such momentous consequences to the future history of the Mon. archy-when he ‘rent the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and gave ten tribes to Jeroboam?' A comparison of the utterances of Nathan embodied in this Psalm with the words of Ahijah affords a striking instance of the true moral basis on which the promises of the Old Testament rest. If we possessed the biography of Solomon by Nathan’ we might have a touching record of the prophet pleading with the apostate king, and recalling his former promises in words like those in which a later psalmist appeals to the rulers of his time, 'I have said, Ye are gods“, and ye are all children of the most Highest, but ye shall die like men, and fall all the sort of you, ye princes 5.?
. Cp. $ 10. cx. 4, note. ? 1 Kings xi. 31. 32 Chron. ix. 29.
4 So the term "gods' is applied to ' judges' (Ex. xxi. 6): and bringing a case to trial before a judge is called 'enquiring of God' (Exod. xviii. 15). Cp. also (ib. ver. 19), ‘Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God'-implying a reservation of the more important causes for the decision of the direct representative of God, (Cp. Bibl. Dict. Judges.') Perhaps too Judges v. 8 may be thus explained. Cp. & 53. lviii, and introduction.
5 $ 83. lxxxii. 6, 7.
Though the 'king of peace' failed to bring true peace and prosperity? to the nation, yet the idea which lay at the root of the promise lived on in the hearts of the prophets and was the stay that supported them in the darkest hours of the Captivity and the text of the most sublime appeals for a national reformations.
This Psalm then, being based as it is on the words of Nathan, must be referred historically to the time of the coronation of Solomon. It seems to breathe the calmness of conscious power when menaced by an impending revolution; and on this ground will best suit the perilous times which ensued on David's death. His chosen heir had hardly freed himself from the troubles of a disputed succession before he found the Empire itself menaced by disruption. The subject nations had at times moved uneasily under the law imposed upon them even in David's time: but now there seemed threatenings of a general upheaving. The Edomites and Syrians soon broke out in open rebellion; and it seems not improbable that the other heathen tribes had long cherished a hope that the glory of the Empire would depart with David, and had meditated a general insurrection while the power was not yet firmly grasped by the youthful hands of Solomon. But the king is still inspired with David's spirit, and though he cannot refer, like David, to a long series of deliverances as the ground of his trust in Jehovah, yet he can appeal to the solemn promise of God's fatherly helps which was given him at his great inauguration. With the words of the prophet still ringing in his ears, he has no thought of his own personal aggrandisement, but aims only at reasserting God's supremacy over the heathen, whose real aim he knows is to set themselves free from the restraints imposed upon them by the law and religion of Jehovah, and to return once more to the unbridled licence of their barbarous ritės. Such counsels he feels must share the inevitable fate of all human fighting against God, and with the kindly feeling of a benevolent king he solemnly counsels them to bow down ere it is too late at the altar of the God whom they have incensed?.
| Shelômoh or Solomon. Chron. xxii. 9.
? $ 98. cxxii. 7, &c. 3 Cp. $ 37. lxxvi. and 8 63. Ixxii, notes on expectation of a Messiah. $ 12. xviii. &c.
6 20. IO, II, I2. . 7 For an exposition of the historical meaning of this Psalm, cp. Arnold's Sermons' on Interpretation of Scripture, p. 435.
| 5 UU, 6, 7:
· I. The Psalmist expresseth his wonder at the conspiracy and at the vain boast of
the revolted nations; Why do the nations gather themselves together,
and why do the peoples imagine a vain thing? the kings of the earth stand up
and the rulers take counsel together
II. God heareth and replieth;
the Lord shall have them in derision ;
III. the king remindeth them of the dizine utterance at his coronation,
Jehovah said unto me: ihou art My son,
Ver. 5. Then shall He etc. Now, while they are plotting, Jehovah looketh down in quiet scorn on them, but then, that is, if they attempt actual retellion, He will overwhelm them with His chastisement. Observe the climax, the laugh of security, the derision of rising anger, and then the word and the terror which follows it.
Ver. 6. 'I' is emphatic: 'Jou dare to begin a vain war, but I have anointed My king over you, and shall support him against you.' In the rapid wrathful speech, the first part of the contrast is omitted, as being sufficiently implied by the second.
Vv. 7-9. 3rd strophe. The recollection of the solemn ceremony of the anointing leads the poet on to the further description of the prophetic address, which was made to him at the time.
Ver. 7. this day have I begotten thee. If any man can become spiritually a new man, inuch more should a king be born again, at the sacred moment of his election, when all outward power is transferred to him. Then, if he is to be a king indeed, he must realize in his heart the true meaning of his kingship: the conditions of his rule were that he was to act as the vicegerent of Jehovah. This is the covenant, the statute mutually ratified by king and recple, proclaimed no doubt solemnly at the coronation of Solomon as it had been at that of Saul (1 Sam. X. 25) and of David (2 Sam. v. 3), when the elders of Israel reminded him of the word of the Lord, “Thou shalt feed My people Israel, and thou shalt be a captain over Isael,' and 'king David made a league with them in Hebron before the Lord, and they a' oin:ed David king over Israel.'
desire of Me and I shall give thee the nations for thine : inheritance,
and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession, thou shalt bruise them with a rod of ron,
and break them in pieces like a potter's bessel.
IV. and adviseth submission. Be wise now therefore, 0 ye kings,
be warned, ye that are judges of the earth, serve Jehovah with reverence, *; and quake before Him with trembling! take warning, lest He be angry and ye perish;
for His wrath is quickly kindled : blessed be all they that put their trust in Him.
· Ver. 12. take warning. The former of these words is plain and means to 'take hold of,"
cling to,' 'kiss ;' for the latter, various readings and various interpretations are given. The Prayer Book Version ‘Kiss the son,' i. e. 'do homage to the king as the Lord's anointed, 'would suit well with ver. 2, 'the rulers take counsel together against Jehovah and against His anointed;' but it is too questionable as a translation to be retained. The word translated
Son’ is not the word used by this Psalmist in v. 7, nor was it in use till a far later period. Some accepting this meaning have consequently referred the Psalm to the Maccabean times. 'Take warning' is given by Ewald and others, who justify the translation of the LXX. and orher ancient versions; but whether the sentence means ' do homage purely,' 'embrace clearness' (i.e. take a clear warning), or 'do homage to Him,' the general sense is the same ; the kings are called on to show submission, lest Jehovah be angry. Jehovah is the subject of the sentence, 'lest He be angry :' the mention of any earthly king would be here an anticlimax; the Psalm is continually mounting from the lower to the higher, and the earthly attributes of the king are lost sight of in the sublime thought of the real identity of his rule with that of Jehovah.
§ 17. PSALM CXLIV. 12–15.
THIS fragment forms the second part of a Composite? Psalmi,, of
which the former part’ belongs to the latest period of Hebrew Psalmody. The simple and forcible description of a time of peace and prosperity, the picture of a people living in the happy contentment
of pastoral life, under a religion calculated, in wonderful contrast with that of other nations, to further the highest interests of man, can hardly apply so well to any other time of their history as to the end of David's or the beginning of Solomon's reign. The mention of sculptured pillars supporting, like Caryatides, the inner roof of a palace, to indicate the stately beauty of their daughters, and of the nurseries of young trees, to indicate that of their sons, both point to a time when architecture was much thought of and the great works of Solomon were familiar to the people.
The sudden change in the last verse of the Psalm suggests the thought, that the preceding description may have been quoted, after the manner of the Composite Psalms, in a state of things widely different. The exclamation in the 15th verse seems to form a part of the later Psalm and rather to express the longing hope that such prosperity may be their portion, than the triumphant thanksgiving of men in the actual enjoyment of it. The yearning after the prosperity of David's reign and the protection of Jehovah which this prosperity implied, is one of the most striking features of the Psalms of the period of the Return from Captivity.
Prosperity of the land. Our sons are as plants, that shoot up in their youth, 12 our daughters are as pillars, yea as polished columns
of a palace, our garners are full and plenteous with all manner of store, 13 our sheep bring forth thousands and ten thousands in
our fields, our cattle are big with young, and no untimely birth, 14
no going forth to war, and no complaining in our streets; happy are the people that are in such a case;
15 yea, blessed are the people, who have Jehovah for their God!
Ver. 14. going forth to war. Cp. Amos v. 3, alluding to the hardships of conscription.