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Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
Psalms 92





In this psalm we seem to have the Sabbath musings (see Note to Title) of one who had met the doubt born of the sight of successful wickedness, and struggled through it to a firm faith in “the Rock in whom is no unrighteousness,” though sometimes on earth iniquity seems to flourish and prevail. It is difficult to determine whether the psalm simply expresses the religious feelings of Israel generally after the restoration, or whether it owes its origin to any special event. In 1 Maccabees 9:23 there is an evident echo of, or quotation from, the Greek version of Psalms 92:7. The versification is regular.

Title.—A psalm or song; more properly, a lyric psalm, i.e., one specially intended for singing.

For the sabbath day.—The Talmud confirms this, saying that this psalm was sung on the morning of the Sabbath at the drink offering which followed the sacrifice of the first lamb (Numbers 28:9).

Verse 2

Verse 3

(3) Ten strings.—See Note, Psalms 33:2.

Upon the harp with a solemn sound.—Rather, with music of the harp. For the Hebrew word, see Note, Psalms 9:16.

Verse 4

(4) The Vulgate rendering of this verse is quoted by Dante in a beautiful passage descriptive of the happiness which flows from delight in the beauty of the works of God in nature. But the reference is to the works in history, not in nature. The psalmist is really expressing his gladness at God’s wonders wrought for Israel. (Comp. Psalms 90:15-16,” Make us glad . . . let thy work appear unto thy servants.)

Verse 5

(5) Thoughts.—Better, plans, or purposes. (Comp. in addition to references in margin, Psalms 36:6.)

Verse 6

(6) A brutish man.—The Hebrew is apparently from a root meaning “to eat,” and so refers to the man of mere animal nature, who lives for his appetites.

Fool.—From root meaning “fat,” hence “gross,” “stupid.”

In the one case the moral sense has not come into play at all, in the other it is overgrown by sensuality, so that spiritual discernment, insight into the glories of the Divine mind, is impossible.

Verse 7

(7) This verse apparently introduces the statement of the truth which the sensualist does not understand, viz., that the prosperity of the wicked is only momentary, and will render their destruction all the more impressive. The Authorised Version is incorrect in introducing the second conjunction “when.” Literally, In the springing of the wicked like grass, flourish all the workers of iniquity to be destroyed for ever, i.e., the prosperity of an evil class or community gives an impulse to evil, and apparently for a time iniquity seems to have the upper hand, but it is only that the inevitable destruction may be more signal. For the emblematic use of vegetable life in the psalter see Note, Psalms 1:3-4.

Verse 10

(10) Unicorn.—Better, buffalo. (See Numbers 23:22; Psalms 22:21.)

Verse 11

(11) Mine eye also.—Better, And my eye looked upon (was able to look without fear) my insidious foes, and for their rising against me as villains my ears listened (without alarm).

Verse 12

(12) Palm tree.—This is the only place where the palm appears as an emblem of moral rectitude and beauty of character, yet its aptness for such comparison has often been noticed. (See Tristram’s Natural History of the Bible, p. 384; and comp. Thomson’s The Land and the Book, p. 49.)

A moral use was more often made of the cedar. Emblem of kingly might, it also became the type of the imperial grandeur of virtuous souls. (See Bible Educator, iii. 379.)

The contrast of the palm’s perennial verdure, and the cedar’s venerable age, an age measured not by years, but by centuries, with the fleeting moments of the brief day of the grass, to which the wicked are compared (Psalms 92:7), is very striking, as striking as that in Psalms 1 between the empty husk and the flourishing fruit-tree.

Verse 13

(13) (See Note, Psalms 52:8, and Stanley’s Jewish Church, ii. 207.)

Verse 14

(14) They shall still bring forth.—Literally, Still shall they sprout in hoary age, sappy and green shall they be, alluding to the great fruitfulness of the date palm, and to the fact that to the very last this fruitfulness continues.


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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Psalms 92:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

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Sunday, November 29th, 2020
the First Week of Advent
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