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that it must in all probability relate to some occasion on public record.
The next point is to ascertain that occasion. And here it might surprise those who have not pursued the investigation, how many indices may be elicited, by means of a diligent research and patient comparison of the sources above mentioned, which would probably on a cursory view wholly escape attention.
In by far the majority of instances, the means above mentioned suffice ; but should they not prove altogether conclusive, and should a psalm occur in which the indices still appear not conclusively to fix the occasion, if then we try the suitability of that psalm with all those occasions we suppose it might suit, we shall soon find discrepancies arise which will end by forcing our conclusion upon that circumstance to which it can alone belong.
Thus, for example, the hundred and twentieth and the forty-second psalms are both psalms of lamentation, and obviously written under a state of exile from the Holy Land. But David was frequently an exile from his country, and obliged to flee to various distant or inimical States, at different periods of his eventful life. To a cursory view, it might then appear doubtful what were the particular occasions on which these two psalms were written; but on a more attentive investigation, the supposed obscurity will vanish. The three last verses of the hundred and twentieth psalm, fix the abode of the writer amongst the Kedarine Arabs, the descendants of Ishmael; whose hands are against every man, and every man's hand against them, and who live by the sword and the bow, in a state of constant predatory warfare. Now can this psalm by any means he made to suit with David's abode amongst the maritime and commercial Philistines ; nor amongst the Ziphites in the city of Keila ; nor yet when he was immured in the profound solitudes of the forests of Hareth. It can only refer to some period in which David was amongst the Arabians. This circumstance then fixes the psalm as belonging to David's retreat in the wilderness of Paran, in Arabia ; whither we find, 1 Sam. xxv. 1. that David retreated on the death of his friend and supporter, the prophet Samuel.
The forty-second psalm in like manner, in the sixth verse, mentions the land of Jordan and of the Hermonites, and the hill Mizar, which was the exclusive boundary of the Holy Land beyond Jordan, towards Moab. The question arises, when is David mentioned as having sojourned there ? On turning to 1 Sam. xxii. 3, 4. we find
David taking his aged father and mother with him, and seeking protection for them in the land of Moab: he must then have passed the very places here mentioned, which are the last from which he could take a farewell view of his native land.
Nor again, by parity of reasoning, can this psalm, that we are aware of, apply to any other circumstance of David's life ; for his exile amongst the Philistines at Ziph, at Hareth, &c. were all on the other side of Jordan. That at Paran, was in Arabia. And when David fled beyond Jordan from his son Absalom, he rested at Mahanaim, and did not quit the territory of Canaan. The forty-second psalm could not then suit any of those occasions. Besides which, the whole language of the psalm fixes it as being composed before, and not after, David ascended the throne, and the prophecies of Samuel had been fulfilled. And the recollections, in the fourth verse, apply rather to David's visiting the house of God with a small band of equal companions; than to a king leading his people, and taking his stand in a court apart from them, at the royal seat of the kings of Israel and Judah.
These two instances having been cited as peculiarly susceptible of indifferently applying to any of David's numerous exiles, have been
selected as examples to furnish the reader with a clew to trace, in every other instance, the course adopted by Messrs. de Port Royal, in ascertaining and fixing the occasion on which each psalm was written.
Sach is the plan on which this little work has been arranged.
The First Part consists of a Tabular Index, in which the psalms are arranged according to their supposed chronologic order, and that of the circumstances under which they are presumed to have been respectively written. For this part of the work, the reader is almost exclusively indebted to the Key to the Psalter of Messrs, de Port Royal. By means of this index, any person wishing it, may follow the whole book of Psalms in historic succession ; referring each psalm to that passage in the historic books of scripture to which it is supposed to belong. The Arabic numeral is used to denote the chronologic order; the Roman numeral, that in which the psalms occur in the Psalter.
The Second Part contains the book of Psalms, arranged as found in sacred writ; every psalm being headed by a prefatory title, marking the historic occasion and scripture reference, and corresponding with the Tabular Index, in order to enable the reader, by referring to it, to find
the psalm preceding or succeeding in chronologic arrangement.
Each psalm is divided into strophes, with a view to render the sense more obvious, by distinguishing the various paragraphs or speakers. This part of the work is indebted to several biblical critics, but more especially to Dr. Horseley. Occasionally, the supposed interlocutors are introduced from the same source: these are marked at the head of the psalm only, and not interwoven with the sacred text, that the reader may adopt them or not, as he judges proper.
The title annexed to each psalm as a part of the original, is retained as it occurs in the authorized version; but in place of the Italic heading, we have substituted a literal translation of the original Hebrew title. These translations have in every instance been taken from one or other of the following authors: Horseley, Duguet, Sacy, Joubert, and Asfeld ; and on their authority alone, their merits or demerits must rest.
The Tabular Index to the book of Psalms has been divided into nine classes.
1st. Psalms composed before the period of David.
2nd. Psalms composed from the time of the