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S$ 35—39. PSALMS XLVI, XLVIII, LXXVI, LXXV, LXV, CELE
BRATING THE DESTRUCTION OF SENNACHERIB AND THE
FEW events in the history of Israel so powerfully influenced the 1 national character as the destruction of the host of Sennacherib. Men saw in it an irresistible proof of divine deliverance from their misery and oppression. The golden age of Moses and David seemed to return. Heretofore they had heard with their ears, now they saw with their eyes the mighty deliverance of God?. New thoughts naturally sprang into life. The first of these was increased reverence for the Holy City and the Temple”, from whose sacred walls the fury of the oppressor had glanced harmlessly away. The hope, faith and aspiration of the true in heart centred on the Temple, as the visible emblem of the protection of God.
Again, the more they realized the foundation on which their national glory rested, the more did they become convinced of the transitory nature of heathen empires and the rottenness that lies at their core. The true source of power was the Invisible. Others, in the words of the Psalmist, might "put their trust in chariots and horses,' but they would remember the name of the Lord their God.
The inviolability of Sion and the omnipotence of Jehovah passed with the Israelites from the domain of belief to that of demonstrated fact. It had been incontestably proved before the eyes of their astonished foes. The world, they said, could no longer believe in the protection of its own national deities, but would haste to unite itself to the kingdom of Jehovah and delight in the protection of Sion. Hence arose a higher conception of the future of the chosen people. Their religion was to triumph not by exterminating its opponents, but by winning them over to the allegiance of Jehovah: not by sharpening the edge of the sword, but by opening the doors of the fold3. Contact even on the battle-field with nations whom
3 $$ 37, 38. lxxvi, lxxv.
their fathers had never known had done something to enlarge the views of the Israelites and to plant in them the germ of that cosmopolitan feeling which here begins to find expression in the Psalter, rising gradually into greater clearness, till it culminates in the 87th Psalm. It is interesting to observe the dim dawning of the feeling which eventually drove the Pharisees to compass sea and land to win a single proselyte.
These and kindred thoughts are powerfully expressed in the following Psalms, and even more fully by the prophet Isaiah, to whom or to whose school the earlier of these Psalms at least may probal»ly be referred.
§ 35. PSALM XLVI.
1. God a refuge in storm and tempest: God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble, therefore will we not fear though the earth do quake,
though the mountains totter in the midst of the sea, though the waters thereof rage and swell,
and though the mountains shake at the tempest of the same. Jehovah, Lord of Hosts, is with us,
the God of Jacob is our tower of strength.
II. as the stream of Siloam, so hath been His presence to the besieged: There is a stream the waters whereof make glad the city of God, 4
the holy places of the tabernacle of the most Highest : Ver. 1. refuge. This was Luther's favourite Psalm in times of peril; he founded on it the well-known hymn, ‘Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott.'
Ver. 3. Jehovah-strength. The burden has been inserted after Ewald. The Psalm was apparently composed for a public festivity, with a burden to be sung by the multitude after each of the three divisions.
Ver. 4. stream. Compared with the waterless deserts around, Judæa and Jerusalem were well watered, and drought pressed more severely on the besiegers than the besieged. The allusion here is to the well-known rill and pool of Siloam; which is probably 'Hezekiah's pool between the two pools,' Is. xxii. 11, and 'the pool of Siloah by the king's garden,' Neh.
$35–38. xlvi, xlviii, lxxvi, lxxv.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her, the morning draweth nigh : the nations raged, the kingdoms were moved,
at the voice of His thunder the earth melteth. Jehovah, Lord of Hosts, is with us, the God of Jacob is our lower of strength.
III. His wonders in destroying the Assyrians. Come hither and behold the work of Jehovah,
what wonders He hath wrought upon the earth : He maketh wars to cease in all the world, He breaketh the bow and knappeth the spear in sunder,
and burneth the chariots in the fire. Be still then, and know that I am lood,
10 X will be exalted among the heathen, I will be cxalted in the
eartí). Jehovah, Lord of Hosts, is with us,
II the God of Jacob is our tower of strength.
iii. 15, ii, 14.. So in Isaiah viii. 6, the gentle sovereignty of the house of Judah is represented by the waters of Siloah, which go softly,' in contrast to the overflowing torrent, which represents the invading force of the king of Assyria. Cp. $ 90. cxxiv. 3 note. The pool of Siloam was by the king's garden, Neh. iii. 15.
Ver. 9. burneth. The horses of the Assyrian army were smitten as well as the soldiers, and the abandoned chariots were burned as useless; cp. Is. ix. 5, ‘for every greave of the warrior in the conflict and every garment roiled in blood shall be for burning and fuel of fire.'
§ 36. PSALM XLVIII.*
I. Beauty of Sion, the dwelling of God. Great is Jehovah and worthy to be praised,
in the city of our God, even upon His holy hill: beauteous on high,—the joy of the whole earth,—
is the hill of Sion, in the sides of the north, the fortress of the great King.
Ver. 2. beauteous. Cp. Lam. ii. 15, ‘All that pass by clap their hands at thee; they hiss and wag their head at the daughter of Jerusalem, saying, Is this the city that men call The
* For Introduction cp. $$ 35–39.
God hath revealed Himself within her towers
as a sure refuge. God upholdeth the same for ever !
11. Terror of the allied kings at the sight of her. For, lo! the kings of the earth took counsel,
and marched up together : they cast a look upon her and marvelled,
they were astonied and sore afraid : fear took hold upon them there,
and pain as of a woman in travail, through a storm from the east
that breaketh in pieces ships of Tarshish : like as we have heard, so have we seen
in the city of Jehovah Lord of Hosts, the city of our God; 1 God upholdeth the same for ever!
III. Judah celebrateth God's loving-kindness in the Temple. We think on Thy loving-kindness, O God,
in the midst of Thy Temple :
perfection of beauty, The joy of the whole earth ? also Ezek. xxiv. 25, ‘The joy of their glory;' and Is. lx. 15, ‘joy of many generations.' Joy is the proverbial title of Sion. Sion, though 300 feet lower than the Mount of Olives, had from its sanctity a grandeur to the Jews far above all hills. See $ 114. Ixviii. 16.
sides of the north. See Is. xiv. 13, 'For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven. I will sit also on the sides of the north.' Compare for this use of the word sides Jer. vi. 22, 'a people cometh from the north country and a great nation from the sides [i.e. ends) of the earth.' The oriental heathens regarded the extreme north as the Elborg or dwelling of their Gods. It was to them what Olympus was to the Greeks, the Walhalla to the Teutons and Scandinavians: as the clouds rested on the summits of the hills, heaven and earth seemed to meet. Not unnaturally the Psalmist in speaking of the Assyrians applies their term to Jerusalem the real residence of God.
God upholdeth. This Psalm was plainly designed as a Temple-song (ver. 8). The burthen has been introduced at the end of the first division, as in the preceding Psalm.
Vv. 5, 6. Awe fell upon them as they beheld Sion, and their ranks were broken, even as a storm broke the fleet of Jehoshaphat at Eziongeber. See 1 Kings xxii. 48. Tarshish, probably Cadiz in Spain. By ships of Tarshish are meant 'powerful ships' for long voyages. Compare our 'East Indiamen.'
according to Thy name of God, so soundeth Thy praise to the 9
Thy right hand is full of righteousness : mount Sion rejoiceth,
the daughters of Judah are glad, because of Thy judgments ! walk about Sion and go round about her,
tell ye the towers thereof, mark well her bulwarks, count up her strong places
that ye may tell them that come after ! for this God is our God for ever and ever,
He will be our guide for everlasting.
Ver. 11. tell ye, i.e. count; said in mockery. The Assyrians had counted the towers of Sion for destruction. So Is. xxxiii. 18, of the same event, with a similar irony: 'Where is the scribe? where is the weigher? where is he that counteth the towers? The whole chapter should be read as illustrative of this Psalm.
§ 37. PSALM LXXVI.
IN the 46th Psalm we heard, as it were, the summons to the inhabi1 tants of Jerusalem to come and behold upon the battle-field the mighty works of the Lord, the broken bow and spear, and the horseless chariot burning in the fire'. In the 48th we seemed to hear them rendering thanks for their deliverance to Jehovah, but Jehovah is still the God of the Hebrew alone. This and the following Psalm are written in the calm which followed the victory. In them we find the wider” and nobler thoughts which the Assyrian overthrow had called into life. It is as though the wall of partition had already fallen and revealed to the eye a glimpse of the Messianic kingdom>, where all the nations of the earth should unite together in the acknowledgment and worship of the true God.
I Cp. $ 35. xlvi. 6.
2 Cp. ver. 10 and note. 3 Cp. notes on Messianic expectations here and in § 63.