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Psalms, probably written by David, of which the date and
The Hebrews had many feasts and religious occasions which called them to go up to Jerusalem; but with most of these it was left to the option of the worshipper, whether to go or not. Three times a year, however, namely, at the feasts of the Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles, the law expressly required them to appear before the Lord in one place, which he should designate, with a gift, to spend more or less time in offering sacrifice, feasting religiously, rejoicing, and paying such worship as the statutes of Moses prescribed. The “Songs of Degrees,” so-called, are supposed to have been composed and collected for the use of the pilgrims on their journey to Jerusalem on these occasions. The title of Psalm crxi, places it among these pilgrim songs. Verse 1, further indicates and confirms this, by which, also, it seems to have been sung by the pilgrims just when the mountains about Jerusalem appeared in sight.
“The figures are remarkably suitable to a pilgrim song: the sliding of the foot, verse 3, as an emblem of misfortune; the shadow as an emblem of protection, verse 5; heat and cold as an emblem of conflict, verse 6; outgoing and incoming as an emblem of undertakings, verse 8. The idea is a very probable one, that the Psalm was the evening song of the sacred pilgrim band, sung on retiring to rest on the last evening, when the long wished for termination of their wandering—the mountains of Jerusalem—had come into view in the distance.”—Hengstenberg. On the title and character of the “Songs of Degrees,” see titles of Psalms, in the General Introduction to this work. It is uncertain who was the author of this Psalm. I follow those who place it among the earlier pilgrim songs; and it was probably composed by David. Read Exodus xxiii, 14–17, and xxxiv, 23, 24. Deuteronomy xvi, 16, 17.
The great safety of the godly, who put their trust in God's protection.
' 'I will lift mine eyes unto the hills, From whence cometh my help. * My help cometh from the Lord, Which * made heaven and earth. * He "will not suffer thy foot to be moved: He “that keepeth thee will not slumber. * Behold, he that keepeth Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep. * The LoRD is thy keeper: The LoRD is "thy shade upon thy right hand. * The "sun shall not smite thee by day, Nor the moon by night. 7 The LoRD shall preserve thee from all evil: He shall preserve thy soul. * The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in, , From this time forth, and even for evermore.
1 Or, shall Ilift up mine eyes a See Gen. 1.1. d Isa. 25.4. to the hills f whence b 1 Samuel 2. 9. e Isa. 49, 10. Rev. 7. 16. should my help come f Prov. 8. 28, 26. f Deuteronomy 28, 6.
See Jer. 8, 23. c Isa. 27.8. Prov. 2, 8; 8.6.
INTRODUCTION TO PSALM XCW.
Grotius supposes this Psalm to have been composed to be sung at the feast of Tabernacles. It is commonly supposed to have had its origin in circumstances which were similar to, or which strongly recalled to mind, the condition of the Hebrews while in the wilderness, especially at Kadesh-barnea. Hence, the strong exhortation and warning from verse 7 to the end. Compare Numbers xii, 16, and xiii, xiv.; and see Introduction to Psalm xc.
The feast of Tabernacles was one of the three great annual feasts which the Hebrews were commanded to observe with solemnity. Leviticus xxiii, 34–43. It was to commence on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, (Tisri,) which answers to the moon of September, and lasted seven days. The command was:
“And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm-trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; ye shall dwell in booths seven days, and ye shall rejoice before the LoRD your God, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land; that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt.”
The design of the festival, therefore, was to commemorate the wandering of the Israelites, their dwelling in tents, and the Divine goodness toward them, while in the wilderness. The importance attached to this feast is gathered from Deuteronomy xvi, 15, &c.; xxxi, 10; Zechariah xiv, 16; John vii, 2. The occasion naturally furnished the Psalmist with an exhortation to praise God, and an admonition to the nation not to rebel, grounded on God's dealings to their forefathers while in the desert.
“To-day if ye will hear his voice,
Massah and Meribah are one and the same place, (see Exodus xvii, 7; Deuteronomy xxxiii, 8,) and should be given as proper names, just as they stand in the Hebrew, and not translated as in the common English version.
This Psalm is attributed to David by the Septuagint, Wulgate, Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions, and by St. Paul in Hebrews iv, 3, 7. That it is prophetic of the times of Christ, and the state of the Jews then, is shown by Paul, Hebrews iii and iv. The scriptures relating to the “feast of Tabernacles,” are Leviticus xxiii, 34–43; Numbers xxix, 12–40; Deuteronomy xvi, 13–17.
An exhortation to praise God, 1,2; for his greatness, 3–5; and for his goodness, 6,7; and not to tempt him, 8–11.
T A Song of Degrees.
! O come, let us sing unto the LoRD: Let "us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. * Let us 'come before his presence with thanksgiving, And make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. * For the LoRD is a great God, And a great King above all gods. * In his hand are the deep places of the earth: *The strength of the hills is his also. * “The sea is his, and he made it; And his hands formed the dry land. * O come, let us worship and bow down: Let "us kneel before the LORD our Maker.
a Deuteronomy 82. 15. * Heb. *phose. * Heb. whose the sea is. 2 Sam. 22.47. * Or, the heights of the Gen. 1. 9, 10. * Heb. prevent his face. hills are his. b 1 Cor. 6, 20.
7 For he is our God; And we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To-day “if ye will hear his voice, * Harden not your heart, "as in the ‘provocation, And as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: * When "your fathers tempted me, Proved me, and 'saw my work. * Forty 4 years long was I grieved with this generation, And said, “It is a people that do err in their heart, And they have not known my ways:” * Unto whom "I sware in my wrath ‘That they should not enter into my rest.
• Heb. 8, 7, 15; 4.7. * Heb. contention. h Numbers 14. 23, 28, 80.
d Exod. 17. 2, 7. Num. e 1 Cor. 10.9. Heb. 8, 11, 18; 4.8, 5. 14. 22, &c.; 20. 18. f Num. 14, 22. * Heb. if they enter into my Deut. 6.16. s Heb. 8, 10, 17. rest.
INTRODUCTION TO PSALM WIII.
PSALM OF DAVID.
The theme of this beautiful Psalm, Hengstenberg says, is “the greatness of God in the greatness of man.” It celebrates God as the God of nature, yet stooping to man, even in his infant state, and communicating to the human soul the spirit of gratitude and praise, and crowning man with dignity and authority little inferior to the angels. It seems to have been composed at evening, in full view of the starry heavens, as the sun is not mentioned. It seems also to have been the production of David's later and maturer years. It is prophetic, and is quoted in Matthew xi, 25, and xxi, 16; and Hebrews ii, 6–8.