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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 129

Kingcomments on the Whole BibleKingcomments

Verses 1-4


The next three songs of ascents show not only the outward restoration, as we have seen in the previous psalms, but also the spiritual restoration. In this order, their complete restoration takes place. First comes the Feast of the blowing of trumpets, then the Day of atonement. The Lord Jesus is the Savior of their enemies, He is also the Savior of their sins.

This psalm is about a remembrance, whereas the two previous psalms are about a prospect. There they look forward, here they look back. The remnant is looking back to the time of their youth and the discipline. It is also the time when the LORD has not betrayed their trust (cf. Psalms 125:1) and saved them (Psalms 129:1-Numbers :). This gives them a strong, renewed trust in the LORD in the face of their haters (Psalms 129:5-Ruth :), that those haters will naturally wither.

Persecuted and Delivered

In this “Song of Ascents”, the tenth, the God-fearing looks back (Psalms 129:1). He remembers: “Many times they have persecuted me from my youth up” (cf. Jeremiah 2:2; Ezekiel 23:3; Hosea 2:14; Hosea 11:1). He is the personification of God’s people; he speaks for all the people. From the youth of that people, from its birth as a nation, it has been persecuted. We can think of their sojourn in Egypt where they were severely oppressed.

Even after that, they have often been persecuted, under the rule of cruel nations. With the call, “let Israel now say”, the God-fearing one urges the people of Israel to give clear audible testimony of that long time of persecution.

The greatest persecution, that is the time of the great tribulation, they have just finished. The enemies have brought the people into great distress, but they have not succeeded in putting God’s people to death (Psalms 129:2; cf. Revelation 12:13-Esther :). The word “yet” indicates the futility of the enemy’s frantic attempts to bring down the people. There can be so much persecution of those who belong to the Lord, yet that persecution will never be able to undo God’s plan for His own. He will bring them safely to the goal He has set for them: to be with Him.

They have endured great suffering (Psalms 129:3). The heathen rulers have rolled over them like a farmer plowing a piece of land. During the great tribulation, which is called “a time of distress for Jacob” (Jeremiah 30:7), these are the king of the north with in his wake the armies of the Assyrians, supported by Gog, which is the superpower Russia.

The long furrows plowed in a land that is being plowed can be compared to the lashes of a scourge on someone’s back. The back is imagery for the recent history behind them, the past, which is a history of suffering. That the furrows are lengthened refers to the length of time, the long period of suffering and especially the time of the great tribulation.

This is specifically a picture used in Isaiah 28 for the LORD’s disciplining through Assyria (Isaiah 28:23-Joel :). The Lord Himself also suffered, His back was beaten (Isaiah 50:6; cf. Isaiah 53:5). Prophetically, Psalms 129:3 is about the wrath of the LORD, the discipline He used to purge Israel (Isaiah 10:5; Isaiah 10:25Isaiah 26:20).

That God’s people can look back proves that they are still here. They owe that not to themselves, but exclusively to the LORD. Now He appears. They know that “the LORD”, Who “is righteous”, “cut in two the cords of the wicked” (Psalms 129:4; cf. Jeremiah 30:8). The cords, with which ‘the oxen’ pulled the plow and split Israel’s back, the LORD cut in two with one stroke of His sword. As a result, the wicked were unable to inflict any further furrows.

He did this not so much out of pity, but because He is “righteous”. He keeps His covenant with them, which He can do because He has a righteous basis for doing so. That basis is the work of Christ on the cross. Christ, through the blood of the new covenant (Luke 22:20; Hebrews 8:6), has fulfilled all the conditions to make His covenant true.

Even in the case where God has had to discipline His people because of their sins, because of that work He has remained faithful to His plan with them to finally do them good. He has met the expectations He has raised, and He has not betrayed the trust He has asked of His people.

The LORD has cut in two the cords of the wicked with which they had bound the remnant as captives (Psalms 126:1; cf. Psalms 124:7). He has, to stay in the picture, cut the knot and now taken the reins Himself. It has sometimes seemed as if He paid no attention to His suffering people. Now it appears that He has kept His eye relentlessly fixed on them in grace. He has stood up for His people and set them free. Now He is leading them on.

Verses 5-8

No Blessing for Zion’s Haters

He delivers and blesses the remnant, while He “put to shame and turned backward” “all who hate Zion” (Psalms 129:5). The enemies are called “the wicked” in Psalms 129:4; here they are called “all who hate Zion”. Deep down, they hate Zion, the city of Jerusalem, because that city is the city of the great King (Matthew 5:35), and the hatred is directed at Him, the Lord Jesus, that is, at God Himself.

The haters of Zion are all who have no regard for God and His promises. The reference to Zion makes it clear that it is about the presence of the LORD in the midst of His people, about His covenant and blessing, and the hope of the establishment of His kingdom.

What is wished for the oppressors and what they will receive is compared to “grass upon the housetops, which withers before it grows up” (Psalms 129:6; cf. Isaiah 37:27). Grass is a picture of the brevity of life (Isaiah 40:6). It stands in the field today and is thrown into the furnace tomorrow (Matthew 6:30).

The grass upon the housetops withers even faster, it withers away on the very same day it came up. It shoots up, it has no deep roots, the sun comes up and scorches it, and the wind picks it up and takes it away. That is how quickly the life of those who persecute God’s people is over: it has withered before it is even pulled out.

Normally, grass is pulled out and left to dry and then used as food for animals. The grass upon the housetops dries up by itself before it is pulled out. It is a picture of what is happening to Herod, as well as to the antichrist of whom Herod is a picture. Herod imagines himself to be a god. God makes it clear that he is not. Normally a person dies first and is then eaten by the worms. Herod is eaten by worms before he dies (Acts 12:21-Isaiah :). Likewise, the antichrist will be cast into the lake of fire without dying, whereas normally a human being dies first and only then the judgment follows (Revelation 19:20; Hebrews 9:27).

There is nothing to be done with this withered grass either, for it does not represent anything at all (Psalms 129:7). It is worthless as hay. A reaper can do nothing with it, let alone that a binder could make a sheaf of it that he could take under his arm. This is a complete contrast with the Sower in a previous psalm. He carries His seed, sows it while weeping, and returns rejoicing, carrying His sheaves (Psalms 126:6).

No one, none of “those who pass by”, will wish them the blessing of the LORD on their way or bless them in the Name of the LORD (Psalms 129:8). Wishing prosperity on their way is foolishness because they will be shamed (Psalms 129:5) and can never be prosperous. They are going down a road where they let their hatred of God’s people run wild.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Psalms 129". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/psalms-129.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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