« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
of David the son of Jesse are ended.” It was his last Psalm for public use. Solomon, it is said, wrote “three thousand proverbs, and his songs were a thousand and five.” 1 Kings iv, 32. But of his lyrical productions we have but a mere fragment preserved. The fact that his writings are mostly lost shows how little taste for general literature the earlier Hebrews had.
8. Different ancient versions add other names to the list of authors of the Psalms. The Septuagint or Greek version, for instance, prefixes the names of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Haggai, and Zechariah to several. There is some corroborating evidence, in a few instances, in support of this use of the two last prophets mentioned, which has been taken notice of in their proper places. See Psalms cxliii, cxlvi, cylviii, in the table of Psalms, assigning their historic occasions and the authorities for the same. Augusti supposes that Mordecai wrote the forty-fifth Psalm, in honour of Queen Esther's marriage.
SECTION III.-TITLE OF THE COLLECTION OR B00K OF PSALMS.
The Hebrew title of this book is, to opp, Sepher Tehillim, Book of PRAISEs, deriving the word roof tehillah from on to be clear, to shine, to irradiate, and in the Piel conjugation, signifying to sing, to chant, to praise, celebrate. The Greek word pañuot psalmoi, from which comes our English title Psalms, denotes songs which accompany music on stringed instruments. But neither the Hebrew nor Greek title of the book seems to be entirely appropriate. For, first, all the Psalms are not songs of praise. The didactic Psalms, as such, are rather collections of proverbs, or wise sayings, while the elegiac Psalms, which comprise in number about one-third of the whole book, are properly lamentations, complaints, breathings of sorrow, accompanied with prayer for deliverance. In Psalm lxxii, 20, the end of the second book, according to the Hebrew division, we have this remarkable subscription, nor thephilloth, the prayer-songs of David, the son of Jesse, are ended.” From hence it would appear that some of the Psalms may properly be denominated “prayer-songs,” while others would more properly be denominated to tehillim, praisesongs, just as supplication or praise may constitute their leading characteristic. Five of the Psalms have the express designation of “prayer-songs” in their titles, namely, Psalms xvii, lxxxvi, xc, cii, cxlii; and the general strain and prominent feature of these Psalms fully justify the appellation; while only one, namely, Psalm czlv, has the specific title roor, tehillah, or praise-song. As far as these descriptive titles are used, they are appropriately used; but there are many of the supplicatory Psalms, (as Psalm li,) without this title, and only one of the praise-psalms, as we have seen, is expressly designated as a tehillah. Secondly. The Greek title, Wha?uot psalmoi, would be appropriate, as denoting Lyrical Psalms, or Psalms sung to music, but it does not seem to distinguish between songs which are strictly religious and those which are secular. Forty-five of the Psalms have the particular title simply of "into mizmor, a song, or poem. And this might not be an inapt title for the whole book. It comes from of zamar, to prune, cut off, and applied to a written composition, denotes the cutting off of sentences in rhythmical numbers, so as to make poetry—the cesura. When applied to singing, it denotes the measurements of the voice to correspond to the lines, pauses, and metrical feet in poetry. “This peculiar conformation of sentences,” says Bishop Lowth, “short, concise, with frequent pauses and regular intervals, divided into pairs, for the most part, of corresponding lines, is the most evident characteristic now remaining of poetry among the Hebrews as distinguished from prose; and this, I suppose, is what is implied in the name mizmor, which I understand to be the proper name for verse.” Many of the Psalms also have the title of no shir, a song. Thirteen of the Psalms have this title connected pleonastically with mizmor; fifteen are called nibyon of shir hammaeloth, songs of ascent; in one place it is used as a title in connexion with rior, jedidoth, of the loved ones, (Psalm xlv.) and only twice it stands alone as a title, Psalms xviii, xlvi. But this word would not be sufficient of itself to distinguish between sacred songs and songs not sacred, as it is used in the latter as well as in the former sense. See Ecclesiastes vii, 5; Isaiah xxiii, 16; Ezekiel xxxiii, 32.
We see, then, that of the various terms employed as titles of the sacred Psalms, none is so comprehensive as to designate any characteristic which is common to them all. One title designates them as praise-songs, another as prayer-songs, another as lyrics, or songs accompanied with music, another simply as poems, as distinguished from prose, another as songs, without determining whether they are sacred or secular songs. The Psalms, as Dr. Hengstenberg has well observed, may be distinguished, first, as presenting such lyrics as belong strictly to the religious territory; secondly, as being songs of Israel. David was “the sweet Psalmist of Israel.” 2 Samuel xxiii, 1. The soul of the nation—a nation in covenant with God—speaks out through them. Thirdly, the collection contains only such songs as the Church was convinced had been composed under the special co-operation of the Spirit of God. David says of his Psalms, “The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.” 2 Sam. xxiii, 2. We shall not find a title expressive of the nature of all the Psalms, nor of any characteristic, which is universal to all the Psalms, considered in the light of this description of them. But as praise, the celebration of God, his glorious works and manifestations, is a leading character of these divine lyrics, we cannot, perhaps, more properly designate the whole book than by this feature, and call it, as it stands in the Hebrew, “The Book of Praises.”
Eleven of the Psalms, (namely, Psalms cvi, cxi, cxii, cziii, cxvii, czzxv, cxlvi, cxlvii, cylviii, cxlix, cl,) are commonly called Praise Psalms, or Hallelujah Psalms, because they commence with the exhortation F. on hallelu Jah, praise ye Jehovah; and the whole book of Psalms concludes with the earnest words, “Let everything that hath breath praise Jehovah. Praise ye Jehovah.”
SECTION IV-TITLES AND INSCRIPTIONS OF PARTICULAR PSALMS.
“All the Psalms, except thirty-four, have titles which designate either their authors, or the superintendents of their music, or their subjects, or their historical occasions, or their destination, (that is, the special uses for which they were designed,) or their style of poetry, or their style of music.” (De Wette.) These superscriptions are so very ancient that when the Hebrew Scriptures were translated into Greek, B.C. 280, the tradition of their meaning was already lost, and they had become unintelligible. Some titles also appear in the Greek and other versions which are not in the Hebrew. Probably some of the Hebrew titles were prefixed by the authors of the Psalms, while others were added by later hands. Most of the titles to the Psalms of David particularly bear internal marks of genuineness, and are more full and systematic than others. They appear to have been inserted, in many instances, as memorials of the leading facts of his history. For instance, Psalm lix: “When Saul sent, and they watched the house to kill him.” Psalm vii: “On account of the words of Cush, the Benjamite.” Psalm xxxiv: “When he feigned himself mad before Abimelech, and he drove him away, and he departed.” Psalm iii: “When he fled from Absalom, his son.” And so of numerous others. It is evident, however, that many of the titles were added by transcribers; a decisive proof of which is, that they are sometimes wrongly placed, misstating the author, or the subject, or the occasion. We are not to look upon the title, therefore, as part of the inspired record, nor trust to its accuracy alone without corroborating testimony. In the following work we have conceded to the title an authority in fixing the date and occasion of a Psalm, where such title contains an historical allusion, and is corroborated, or at least not contradicted, by other evidence internal or collateral. The following is the most plausible meaning which modern criticism has affixed to those obscure words which are found in the superscriptions of the Psalms, or are otherwise appended to the Hebrew poetry. The traditional and historic light of the Hebrews furnishes us no authoritative explication. They have also been translated, and enclosed in brackets, in their proper places in the titles, for the convenience of the reader. I am mainly indebted to De Wette, Gesenius, Hengstenberg, Dr. Alexander, Dr. A. Clarke, and Dr. Davies, (Art. Psalms, Kitto's Bib. Cyclop.) for the materials for making out the following table. The titles are inserted in the order observed by De Wette, which is the Hebrew alphabetical order. 1. hrson ros-by al-ayeleth hashachar, upon the hind of the morning, or, after the hind of the morning; that is, the earliest morning, day break. Psalm xxii. The Arabians called the rising sun poetically, the gazelle, and this seems to be the allusion here. The title is evidently enigmatical. David was fond of such titles. So he calls his elegy upon the death of Jonathan, “the song of the bow.” 2 Samuel i, 18. It seems most probable that “hind of the morning,” was the title of a wellknown song, to the melody of which the twenty-second Psalm was to be set. 2. nno-hs al-tashchith, destroy not. Psalm lvii, lviii, lix, lxxv. This seems to have been used by David as a maxim during the violent persecutions of Saul, as if to remind himself to forbear revenge, though it was often in his power to inflict it, upon his unnatural adversary. With this somewhat technical sense it seems to have been inserted in several of his Psalms, and afterward imitated in one of the Psalms of Asaph, (Psalm lxxv.) See 1 Samuel xxvi, 9, 15; 2 Samuel i, 14. 3. non-hy al-ha gittith, upon the harp of Gath, or, in the Gathic style. Psalm viii, lxxxi, lxxxiv. The gittith appears to have been either an instrument used or invented in the city of Gath, or else a tune, or air, which was original or peculiar to that city. “It is worthy of remark,” says Hengstenberg, “that all the three Psalms distinguished by this name, (Gittith,) are of a joyful, thanksgiving character, from which it may be inferred that the gittith was an instrument of cheerful sound, or a lively air.” 4. no lion higgayon selah occurs Psalmix, 16, (Hebrew text, verse 17.) It is a musical sign, and would seem to denote a