Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

ardorem vertunt, non tam apte fluit." And Bellarmin ; "Magnæ charitatis indicium est contremiscere, ardere, deficere ex misericordia erga peccatores vel ex dolore offensionis divinæ ; nam de utraque defectione v. iste potest exponi.” LXX. ảQuuia, depression of mind.” Vulg. defectio, “swooning away”; which Corderius (iu. 424) illustrates thus :-“It is as if the Psalmist, looking around on the sea of life, saw men rejecting the guidance of right reason, throwing overboard the Divine pilot, and drifting rapidly with the tide of wickedness towards the breakers and quick-sands; and, as he gazes, the thick mist of horror falls on him, and he faints away.

A scholiast in Cord. (111. 420) says: “The sinner looks on godliness as matter for mirth; but the godly man looks on sin as a horrible thing [ piktóv], because he foresees the fearful nature of its punishment.” While Didymus (ibid.) says: “We ought then to grieve (Autreiobal) over our erring brethren.”

This meaning harmonizes much better than that of anger with the general tone of the Psalm : as, e.g., at v. 136, “My eyes run down in streams of water, because men keep not Thy law;” and at v. 158: “I beheld the revolters and was grieved.”

And surely our consciences side with the couplet (Abp. Trench's Sabbation):

“O leave to God at sight of sin incensed to be!

Sinner, if thou art grieved, that is enough for thee.” The Arabic and Syriac both have “sadness.”

It is observable that the idea of heat, which is thought by some to belong to the root, is in Asiatic languages associated with distress and grief :-e.g. Sanscr. TAP is explained by Haughton ; “1. Heat. 2. Fever. 3. Distress, sorrow, pain, mental agony." Similarly JWAR (cp. jwal) is “Burning fever, sorrow.”

On cxxxIII. 3.

That the image used by Van de Velde may be cleared from all suspicion of being forced or untrue to nature, the following passage from a word-picture of Mont Blanc is added (Rev. H. Macmillan, Bible-Teachings in Nature, p. 28): “A golden cloud rested on its summit, like a diadem with which the setting sun had crowned it monarch of European mountains.”

а

II.

ON SELAH AND OTHER UNTRANSLATED TERMS.

§ 1. On the meaning of Selah.

The general sense of the term was well given by the diáyalua of the LXX. ; if, as seems probable, this was intended to denote a suspension of the singing, during which the instrumental music performed a symphony unaccompanied by words. Its most probable etymology is from SSD, to elevate (cp. Ps. lxviii, 6); so that it was, in effect, a musical “Sursum Corda."

It occurs in 39 of the Psalms, viz. :

Once; in 7, 20, 21, 44, 47, 48, 50, 54, 60, 61, 75, 81, 82, 83, 85, 143.

Twice; in 4, 9, 24, 39, 49, 52, 55, 57, 59, 62, 67, 76, 84, 87, 88.
Three times; in 3, 32, 46, 66, 68, 77, 140.
Four times ; in 89.

Of these Psalms nine are in Bk. 1; seventeen in Bk. II; eleven in Bk, III ; two in Bk. v. Selah does not occur in Bk. iv.

It is observable that 31, out of the 39, have in their Titles “To the Precentor."

In four psalms, ïïi, ix, xxiv, xlvi, Selah is found at the end. The explanation of this is not difficult; for iii and iv, ix and x, are pairs : while xxiv and xlvi are festival hymns, and so were, probably, sung in connection with other hymns.

Some writers have thought that Selah always constitutes a Section in the Psalm in which it occurs. This, however, is incorrect. Very frequently, where there is a change or break in the Psalm, a symphony is naturally inserted (see, e.g., xxxii. 7, xliv. 8, xlvi. 3, 7, 1. 6, lxxxix. 4, 37, 45, 48): but there are several instances of its occurring, where scarcely any break is traceable (e.g. in xx. 3, xxi. 2, lxxxv. 2); and in not a few it is quite manifest that there is no section or stanza-division at all, sometimes not even a versedivision; see especially,—as crucial instances,-lv. 7, 19, lvii. 3, Ixviii. 7, 32, lxxxviii. 7, 10.

The effect of the inserted symphony, in leading the thoughts to dwell

upon the sentiment that has preceded, is generally very strik ing. (Cp. Notes on xxxii. 4, 5, lxxxi. 7.) It should be remarked, too, that in some cases of rugged construction the Selah at once softens the harshness of the expression, and deepens the solemnity of the idea to be conveyed. Instances of this are supplied by

"

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

xxiv. 6, xxxix. 5, xlix. 13, lv. 19, lvii. 3, lix. 13, 1x. 4, lxviii. 19, ixxxviii. 10, Ixxxix. 37, cxl. 8.

In one place (ix. 16) Selah is found preceded by the word Higgaion ; (cp. xcii. 3). As "higgaion” in Ps. xix. 15 is applied to the “meditation of the heart,” the meaning of the combination is probably, "a grave, subdued, symphony."

$ 2. On the probable meaning of certain words in the Titles.

(a) Neginoth (4, 6, 54, 55, 67, 76). Neginath (61). "Stringed instruments” (LXX. ünvois).

(6) Nechiloth (5). “ Flutes."

(c) Sheminith (6, 12). The "octave.” To be sung in Bass :all'ottava bassa. (Both the psalms are sad.)

(d) Alamoth (46). The contrast of the preceding : “ Treble voices."

(2) Shiggaion (7). “Wandering ode;"-comprising a great

e( “a variety of emotions rapidly succeeding each other. Ewald: “Dithyramb.”

(f) Gittith (8, 81, 84). “The tune (or mode) of Gath."

(g) Muth-labben (9). Lit. “Death to the son :"-probably the name of some well-known Tune.

(h) Miktam (16, 56-60). LXX. orndoypapía. Perhaps, -"Sculpture-style Ode:”-written in bold, trenchant, style. This appears, at any rate, to be the character of the six Psalms. They all have some sacred maxim prominently held up to view ;-either (as in 16, 58, 60) an utterance of the soul to God, or (as in 56, 57, 59) a refrain.

(i) Maskil (32, 42, 44, 45, 52-55, 74, 78, 88, 89, 142). “Psalm of Reflection," or Admonition,” or “Intelligence.” éoews. Jer. Eruditio. (Cp. on the Title of xxxii.)

(j) Yeduthun (39, 62, 77). A Precentor so called ; and perhaps a tune named after him.

LΧΧ. συν

III.

ON THE CONCEPTION OF THE WORD NEFESH.

The essential parts of the notion associated with the term Nefesh have been already exhibited in the notes on xxii. 20, cxxxi. 2. The following remarks may give additional clearness to the con ception.

[ocr errors]

(1.) The nefesh is that part of man's constitution in virtue of which he is susceptible of the joys and pleasures, the sorrows and pains, of earthly life ;-comprising the affections, emotions, and desires. Hence it is apt to sink and droop under affliction; and to lie as a burden upon the spirit of the believer, tempting him to anxiety, querulousness, and infidelity ; even as (to borrow Heng. stenberg's excellent remark on xlii. 5) Job’s wife tempted her lord.

(2.) Hence the use of the preposition al, when speaking of the nefesh as lying dejected and prostrate upon the nobler principle. See xlii. 5, 6, 11, xliii. 5, cxxxi. 2. In this last place hardly any commentator seems to have given the full force of the expression. Even Delitzsch, whose psychological view of the matter is correct, says simply ; "ist in mir meine Seele."

In cxlii, 3, and cxliii. 4, the “ruach” itself is seen thus drooping. This is contrary to the ordinary usage : but may be explained by the supposition of the spirit's being weighed down for the time by sympathy with the “weaker vessel.” Compare in this respect the words of Hugo St. Victor (ap. Corder. t. I. p. 789), who makes the spirit address the soul thus : “Quia tibi per naturalem affectum conjunctus sum, in tui turbatione ego inturbatus esse non possum.”

(3.) In xlii. 6, 11, xliii. 5, the verb hamah is employed to represent the restless fretting and tossing of the peevish and despondent soul. In xlvi. 3 the same verb is applied to the tossing waves of the Sea. (So too in Isai. xvii. 12, li. 15; Jer. li. 55, etc.)

Remarkably illustrative of this imagery is the view held by modern linguists (as R. Von Raumer, in Delitzsch's Psychologie, p. 118; Max Müller, Science of Lang., p. 366) that the words Soul and Sea, in German Seele and See, in Gothic saivala and saivs, are from the same root si or siv,=gelw, to shake :

:-80 that the sea is the "troubled and tossing water," and the Soul the inward sea, heaving to and fro with the gales of emotion.

Obs. 1. In Ps. cxxxi. 2 the soul, that has been brought under discipline, is compared to a child lying at rest on its mother's breast: and Dr. Thomson, speaking of the sea near Sidon, says : “The surf sobs and sighs along the shore, like a vexed child sinking to sleep."

Obs. 2. The wicked,—the men in whom the soul reigns uncontrolled,-are compared to "the troubled sea when it cannot rest.” (Isai, lvii. 20.)

IV.

a

ON THE IMPRECATORY (OR COMMINATORY) PSALMS. Christians, who have listened to their Divine Master praying for His murderers, are often perplexed when they read Psalms like the 35th, 69th, and 109th ; which breathe so stern and, it might even seem, vindictive a spirit.

A few remarks on this point may not be out of place.

1. We have plain evidence that David in his personal transactions was singularly free from vindictiveness.

It is scarcely possible to imagine greater provocation than he received from his bitter and malignant persecutor, Saul. What intensity of hatred rankled in the breast of him who authorized Doeg, the Edomite, to slay eighty-five ministering priests and to massacre the whole population of the city of Nob, because Ahimelech had done a trifling act of kindness to David !

Yet on two occasions when his implacable foe was placed in his power, he let him go uninjured ; simply addressing him thus :

The Lord judge between me and thee, and the Lord avenge me of thee: but my hand shall not be upon thee. ... The Lord be judge, and judge between me and thee, and see, and plead my cause, and vindicate me out of Thy hand.(1 Sam. xxiv. 12-15: cp. xxvi. 9-20.)

Surely we may apply to him the words, in which St. Peter described the meekness of the Divine Sufferer Himself :-“He committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously.” (1 Pet. ii. 23.)

2. It is remarkable that in the very strongest of the Imprecatory Psalms we have clear proof-of more than meekness,-of the persevering love of the sufferer. So in Ps. XXXV: “ They reward me evil for good, to the desolating of my soul. As for me, when they fell sick, my clothing was sackcloth : I afflicted my soul with fasting: and my prayer—it returns into my bosom." In lxix: “That which I had never taken, did I then make good. . . . I wept out my soul with fasting ; and that was turned into reproaches against me.” In cix: “In return for my love they persecute me ; and I am all prayer. And they laid evil on me in return for good, and hatred for my good-will.

3. How then, it is asked, are we to explain those prayers for punishment ?

A simple key for unlocking the difficulty is supplied by 2 Chr.

« AnteriorContinuar »