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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 125

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-5

Psalms 125:0

A Song of Degrees

          They that trust in the Lord

Shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever.

2     As the mountains are round about Jerusalem,

So the Lord is round about his people

From henceforth even for ever.

3     For the rod of the wicked shall not rest

Upon the lot of the righteous;
Lest the righteous put forth
Their hands unto iniquity.

4     Do good, O Lord, unto those that be good,

And to them that are upright in their hearts.

5     As for such as turn aside unto their crooked ways,

The Lord shall lead them forth with the workers of iniquity:

But peace shall be upon Israel.


Contents and Composition.—The confession of the immovableness of the trust of those that believe in Jehovah is grounded upon His everlasting protection of His people (Psalms 125:1-2). The same consideration confirms the believing expectation, that the prolonged continuance of an unrighteous dominion in the Holy Land, which would serve to tempt the righteous themselves, would be impossible (Psalms 125:3). A prayer is then uttered for God’s intervention, according to the law of retribution, along with a wish for the blessings of peace and prosperity upon Israel (Psalms 125:4-5).

The nature of the contents favors the supposition that the people were not in Exile but in the Holy Land; whether, at the time, under a heathen government, or under their own rulers who were unrighteous and faithless, is not definitely indicated. Nor can we discover how far the temptation in the situation described leads to actual consequences. Many word-forms point to a late period.

[Hengstenberg, Alexander, Perowne, and others, see, especially in Psalms 125:3, allusion to the circumstances of the nation after the return from captivity. The last named refers, more definitely, to Nehemiah 2:16; Nehemiah 6:17, and to other passages where the influences of the neighboring tribes, hostile or otherwise, had wrought evil among the Israelites. On other hand Delitzsch and Hupfeld are undecided as to the proximate occasion of the Psalm. The conclusion of Dr. Moll, above, coinciding with theirs, is probably the only safe one.—J. F. M.]

Psalms 125:1-2. Abideth forever; literally: will sit, not: will be inhabited. Even though Mt. Zion should be laid waste (Micah 3:12) it does not lose thereby its continued existence or its destiny (Micah 4:1). The interpretation which understands the heavenly Zion (many older expositors) transfers the stand-point, and mistakes the fundamental conception, which is that of the firmness, immovableness, indestructibleness of mountains generally, and of Mt. Zion in particular. [Hengstenberg: “The figure is destroyed by those ancient and modern expositors who understand by Mt. Zion itself something spiritual, the Church. The Church is rather indicated by ‘those who trust in the Lord,’ and their firmness is likened to that of the eternal Zion.” The beauty of the form of verse 2 in the original is considerably lessened by the rendering in E. V. The translation is:

Jerusalem—mountains are round about her,
And the Lord is round about His people
Henceforth and to eternity.—J. F. M.]
From this image, which makes prominent the idea of a firm foundation, the course of thought passes over immediately to a related and yet different one, which describes figuratively the protection which God vouchsafes to His people. As in Isaiah 33:21, this is done by the figure of a broad stream, and in Zechariah 2:9 by that of a fiery wall, so here the figure is that of the protecting mountains which surround Jerusalem. “The sacred city lies upon the broad and high mountain range, which is shut in by the two valleys, Jehoshaphat and Hinnom. All the surrounding hills are higher: in the east, the Mount of Olives; on the south, the so-called Hill of Evil Counsel, which ascends from the Valley of Hinnom; on the west, the ground rises gently to the border of the great Wady, as described above; while in the north the bend of a ridge, which adjoins the Mount of Olives, limits the view to the distance of about a mile and a half” (Robinson).

Psalms 125:3 ff. The lot is the Holy Land, allotted as an inheritance to the righteous by God (Psalms 16:5).—Many expositors, by the sceptre of unrighteousness, iniquity, the crooked paths, the evildoers, understand specially heathen disorders and participation in them, as a consequence of departure from the precepts laid down in the Mosaic law, and a deviation from the ways of God therein enjoined. But the words themselves do not require any such special reference.—Delitzsch cites a talmudical riddle on Psalms 125:4 mentioned by the Midrash: There came a good person (Moses, Exodus 2:2), and received something good (the Law, Proverbs 4:2) from the Good (God, Psalms 145:9), for the good (Israel, Psalms 125:4).


Those who lay their foundations upon God are not moved; those who commit their defence to Him do not fall; those who cleave to His ways do not perish.—Even the righteous are not kept absolutely from falling; but God gives the temptation such an issue that we can bear it.—Former faithfulness does not secure against the punishment of later infidelity; we must wait until the end.

Luther: It is much easier to teach than to believe, that we, who have the divine word and believe in it, are surrounded by divine aid. If we were surrounded by walls of steel or fire, we would feel secure and bid defiance to the devil. But it is the character of faith not to boast of what the eye beholds, but of what the word reveals. Our only drawback is, therefore, that we have no spiritual eyes, but follow only those of the flesh.—Whether the conflict be inward in the spirit or outward in the flesh, the victory shall, through Christ, be ours at last. But this promise is hard to be believed, both by us who suffer and by our persecutors. But beware of appointing to God a time for our deliverance.—God allows us to be tempted even to the uttermost. When it has come to the last extremity, and we have nothing before us but despair, then He delivers us, and in death gives us life, and in the curse a blessing.

Starke: Because God is eternal, so is he also, after his nature, who is in God and is united to Him by faith.—If God has placed thee in a lofty position, remember that the sceptre which thou dost wield is not a sceptre of wickedness, but that thou art to wield it to His glory, for the good of the Church, and for the protection of the righteous.—Let none avenge themselves, or seek by violence or disturbance to free themselves from godless power. No! The Lord will do it at His own time. We are to commit our cause to Him.—True religion is based upon uprightness of heart. But how rare it is! How easily do we let the single eye become deceitful again through false views!—Sin is the ruin of the people, and yet they cling firmly to it and despise the true way of life.—Let us live as we wish to die, and before our end comes, let us learn to rest only in God.—Those who are companions in wickedness need not think it strange if they are companions in punishment.

Frisch: It is a great offence to the understanding to see such misfortune attend the pious and sincere heart in the world.—Oetinger: Those who do not conform to God’s commands do not imagine that they are so wicked as those who transgress them. But they are equally sinful. They only seek more to palliate their offence and to excuse it by dishonest devices.—Guenther: None should do evil that good may come. God alone will turn the evil to good; and, at the right time, He will cause the sceptre of the ungodly to be broken.—Taube: The powerful influence of God’s grace: how within it makes firm the hearts of believers, and without it surrounds them with its protection.

[Matt. Henry: All that deal with God must deal upon trust, and He will give comfort to those only who give credit to Him, and make it appear they do so by quitting other confidences and venturing to the utmost for God. The closer our expectations are confined to God, the higher our expectations may be raised from Him.—Scott: The malice and enmity of the wicked shall prove only a correcting rod, and not a destroying sword.—Bp. Horne: Let not our trust in God be a presumptuous, ungrounded assurance; but let it be a confidence springing from faith unfeigned, out of a pure heart, a good conscience, and fervent charity.—Let us never forget that the promises to us, like those to Israel, are conditional. “Because of unbelief, they were broken off, and we stand by faith.”—J. F. M.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Psalms 125". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/psalms-125.html. 1857-84.
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