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Bible Commentaries

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

Psalms 76


Praise of God after His Judgment Has Gone Forth

No Psalm has a greater right to follow Psalms 75:1-2 Samuel : than this, which is inscribed To the Precentor, with accompaniment of stringed instruments (vid., Psalms 4:1), a Psalm by Asaph, a song. Similar expressions ( God of Jacob, Psalms 75:10; Psalms 76:7; saints, wicked of the earth, Psalms 75:9; Psalms 76:10) and the same impress throughout speak in favour of unity of authorship. In other respects, too, they form a pair: Psalms 75:1-2 Samuel : prepares the way for the divine deed of judgment as imminent, which Psalms 76:1-2 Kings : celebrates as having taken place. For it is hardly possible for there to be a Psalm the contents of which so exactly coincide with an historical situation of which more is known from other sources, as the contents of this Psalm confessedly (lxx πρὸς τὸν Ἀσσύριον ) does with the overthrow of the army of Assyria before Jerusalem and its results. The Psalter contains very similar Psalms which refer to a similar event in the reign of Jehoshaphat, viz., to the defeat at that time of the allied neighbouring peoples by a mutual massacre, which was predicted by the Asaphite Jahaziel (vid., on Psalms 46:1-1 Kings : and Ps 83). Moreover in Psalms 76:1-2 Kings : the “mountains of prey,” understood of the mountains of Seir with their mounted robbers, would point to this incident. But just as in Psalms 75:1-2 Samuel : the reference to the catastrophe of Assyria in the reign of Hezekiah was indicated by the absence of any mention of the north, so in Psalms 76:1-2 Kings : both the שׁמּה in Psalms 76:4 and the description of the catastrophe itself make this reference and no other natural. The points of contact with Isaiah, and in part with Hosea (cf. Psalms 76:4 with Hosea 2:20) and Nahum, are explicable from the fact that the lyric went hand in hand with the prophecy of that period, as Isaiah predicts for the time when Jahve shall discharge His fury over Assyria, Isaiah 30:29, “Your song shall re-echo as in the night, in which the feast is celebrated.”

The Psalm is hexastichic, and a model of symmetrical strophe-structure.

Verses 1-3

In all Israel, and more especially in Judah, is Elohim known (here, according to Psalms 76:2, participle, whereas in Psalms 9:17 it is the finite verb), inasmuch as He has made Himself known (cf. דּעוּ , Isaiah 33:13). His Name is great in Israel, inasmuch as He has proved Himself to be a great One and is praised as a great One. In Judah more especially, for in Jerusalem, and that upon Zion, the citadel with the primeval gates ( Psalms 24:7), He has His dwelling-place upon earth within the borders of Israel. שׁלם is the ancient name of Jerusalem; for the Salem of Melchizedek is one and the same city with the Jerusalem of Adonizedek, Joshua 10:1. In this primeval Salem God has סוּכּו , His tabernacle (= שׂכּו , Lamentations 2:6, = סכּתו , as in Psalms 27:5), there מעונתו , His dwelling-place, - a word elsewhere used of the lair of the lion (Psalms 104:22, Amos 3:4); cf. on the choice of words, Isaiah 31:9. The future of the result ויהי is an expression of the fact which is evident from God's being known in Judah and His Name great in Israel. Psalms 76:4 tells what it is by which He has made Himself known and glorified His Name. שׁמּה , thitherwards, in that same place (as in fact the accusative, in general, is used both in answer to the question where? and whither?), is only a fuller form for שׁם , as in Isaiah 22:18; Isaiah 65:9; 2 Kings 23:8, and frequently; Arab. ta̱mma ( tu̱mma ) and תּמּן (from תּמּה ) confirm the accusative value of the ah . רשׁפי־קשׁת (with Phe raphatum , cf. on the other hand, Song of Solomon 8:6)

(Note: The pointing is here just as inconsistent as in ילדוּת , and on the contrary מרדּוּת .))

are the arrows swift as lightning that go forth (Job 41:20-Hosea :) from the bow; side by side with these, two other weapons are also mentioned, and finally everything that pertains to war is gathered up in the word מלחמה (cf. Hosea 2:18). God has broken in pieces the weapons of the worldly power directed against Judah, and therewith this power itself (Isaiah 14:25), and consequently (in accordance with the prediction Hosea 1:7, and Isa 10, 14, Isaiah 17:1-2 Chronicles :, 29, Isaiah 31:1-1 Samuel :, 33, 37, and more particularly Psalms 31:8) has rescued His people by direct interposition, without their doing anything in the matter.

Verses 4-6

The “mountains of prey,” for which the lxx has ὀρέων αἰωνίων ( טרם ?), is an emblematical appellation for the haughty possessors of power who also plunder every one that comes near them,

(Note: One verse of a beautiful poem of the Muḥammel which Ibn Dûchı̂ , the phylarch of the Beni Zumeir , an honoured poet of the steppe, dictated to Consul Wetzstein runs thus: The noble are like a very lofty hill-side upon which, when thou comest to it, thou findest an evening meal and protection (Arab. 'l - ‛š' w - ḏry ).)

or the proud and despoiling worldly powers. Far aloft beyond these towers the glory of God. He is נאור , illustris , prop. illumined; said of God: light-encircled, fortified in light, in the sense of Daniel 2:22; 1 Timothy 6:16. He is the אדּיר , to whom the Lebanon of the hostile army of the nations must succumb (Isaiah 10:34) According to Solinus ( ed. Mommsen, p. 124) the Moors call Atlas Addirim . This succumbing is described in Psalms 76:6. The strong of heart or stout-hearted, the lion-hearted, have been despoiled, disarmed, exuti ; אשׁתּוללוּ

(Note: With orthophonic Gaja, vid., Baer's Metheg-Setzung, §45.)

is an Aramaizing praet. Hithpo. (like אתחבּר , 2 Chronicles 20:35, cf. Daniel 4:16; Isaiah 63:3) with a passive signification. From Psalms 76:6 we see that the beginning of the catastrophe is described, and therefore נמוּ (perhaps on that account accented on the ult.) is meant inchoatively: they have fallen into their sleep, viz., the eternal sleep (Jeremiah 51:39, Jeremiah 51:57), as Nahum says (Nahum 3:18): thy shepherds sleep, O king of Assyria, thy valiant ones rest. In Psalms 76:6 we see them lying in the last throes of death, and making a last effort to spring up again. But they cannot find their hands, which they have lifted up threateningly against Jerusalem: these are lamed, motionless, rigid and dead; cf. the phrases in Joshua 8:20; 2 Samuel 7:27, and the Talmudic phrase, “he did not find his hands and feet in the school-house,” i.e., he was entirely disconcerted and stupefied.

(Note: Dukes, Rabbinische Blumenlese, S. 191.)

This field of corpses is the effect of the omnipotent energy of the word of the God of Jacob; cf. וגער בּו , Isaiah 17:13. Before His threatening both war-chariot and horse ( &#ו ו ) are sunk into motionlessness and unconsciousness - an allusion to Ex. 15, as in Isaiah 43:17: who bringeth out chariot and horse, army and heroes - together they faint away, they shall never rise; they have flickered out, like a wick they are extinguished.

Verses 7-9

Nahum also (Psalms 1:6) draws the same inference from the defeat of Sennacherib as the psalmist does in Psalms 76:8. מאז אפּך (cf. Ruth 2:7; Jeremiah 44:18), from the decisive turning-point onwards, from the אז in Psalms 2:5, when Thine anger breaks forth. God sent forth His judiciary word from heaven into the midst of the din of war of the hostile world: immediately (cf. on the sequence of the tenses Psalms 48:6, and on Habakkuk 3:10) it was silenced, the earth was seized with fear, and its tumult was obliged to cease, when, namely, God arose on behalf of His disquieted, suffering people, when He spoke as we read in Isaiah 33:10, and fulfilled the prayer offered in extreme need in Isaiah 33:2.

Verses 10-12

The fact that has just been experienced is substantiated in Psalms 76:10 from a universal truth, which has therein become outwardly manifest. The rage of men shall praise Thee, i.e., must ultimately redound to Thy glory, inasmuch as to Thee, namely ( Psalms 76:1 as to syntax like Psalms 73:3), there always remains a שׁארית , i.e., a still unexhausted remainder, and that not merely of חמה , but of חמת , with which Thou canst gird, i.e., arm, Thyself against such human rage, in order to quench it. שׁארית חמת is the infinite store of wrath still available to God after human rage has done its utmost. Or perhaps still better, and more fully answering to the notion of שׁארית : it is the store of the infinite fulness of wrath which still remains on the side of God after human rage ( חמה ) has spent itself, when God calmly, and laughing (Psalms 2:4), allows the Titans to do as they please, and which is now being poured out. In connection with the interpretation: with the remainder of the fury (of hostile men) wilt Thou gird Thyself, i.e., it serves Thee only as an ornament (Hupfeld), the alternation of חמה and חמת is left unexplained, and תּחגּר is alienated from its martial sense (Isaiah 59:17; Isaiah 51:9, Wisd. 5:21 [20]), which is required by the context. Ewald, like the lxx, reads תּחגּך , ἑορτάσει σοι , in connection with which, apart from the high-sounding expression, שׁארית חמת ( ἐγκατάλειμμα ἐνθυμίου ) must denote the remainder of malignity that is suddenly converted into its opposite; and one does not see why what Psalms 76:11 says concerning rage is here limited to its remainder. Such an inexhaustiveness in the divine wrath-power has been shown in what has just recently been experienced. Thus, then, are those who belong to the people of God to vow and pay, i.e., (inasmuch as the preponderance falls upon the second imperative) to pay their vows; and all who are round about Him, i.e., all the peoples dwelling round about Him and His people ( כּל־סביביו , the subject to what follows, in accordance with which it is also accented), are to bring offerings (Psalms 68:30) to God, who is מורא , i.e., the sum of all that is awe-inspiring. Thus is He called in Isaiah 8:13; the summons accords with Isaiah's prediction, according to which, in consequence of Jahve's deed of judgment upon Assyria, Aethiopia presents himself to Him as an offering (Isaiah 18:1-Judges :), and with the fulfilment in 2 Chronicles 32:23. Just so does v. 13 a resemble the language of Isaiah; cf. Isaiah 25:1-2 Kings :; Isaiah 33:1; Isaiah 18:5: God treats the snorting of the princes, i.e., despots, as the vine-dresser does the wild shoots or branches of the vine-stock: He lops it, He cuts it off, so that it is altogether ineffectual. It is the figure that is sketched by Joel 3:13, then filled in by Isaiah, and embodied as a vision in Revelation 14:17-Proverbs :, which is here indicated. God puts an end to the defiant, arrogant bearing of the tyrants of the earth, and becomes at last the feared of all the kings of the earth - all kingdoms finally becomes God's and His Christ's.

Copyright Statement
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Bibliographical Information
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Psalms 76". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. 1854-1889.