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Bible Commentaries

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Psalms 120


A.M. 2946. B.C. 1058.

This Psalm, with each of the fourteen which follow, is entitled A song of degrees, or, of ascensions; but it is very uncertain for what reason. “The more general opinion,” says Dr. Dodd, “seems to be, that of those who conjecture they were so called, because, after the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, they were sung by the Levites as they went up the stairs, or steps, of the temple: see Ezekiel 40:0 . Others, however, think that this title refers to some gradual rise or exaltation of the voice in singing. Others, again, render the words, A song of excellences, supposing them to express the excellence of the composition.” “But as far as one may guess,” says Mr. Mudge, “from the general import of the Psalms which have this title, it means they were Psalms sung upon the occasion of the Jews coming up from the country, as they did three times a year, to pay their devotions at Jerusalem.” This was Bishop Lowth’s opinion. See his 25th Prelection, and note on the title of this Psalm. The truth, however, seems to be, that it is impossible to say what is the exact meaning of this title. In this Psalm the psalmist prays and denounces judgments against lying tongues, Psalms 120:1-4 . Complains of his wicked and unpeaceable neighbours, Psalms 120:5-7 .

Verses 2-4

Psalms 120:2-4. Deliver my soul from lying lips From the unjust censures and malicious slanders of mine enemies; and from a deceitful tongue Which covers mischievous designs under pretences of kindness. What shall be given unto thee By the righteous Judge of heaven and earth; thou false tongue O thou false accuser, or slanderer, or whosoever thou art, that art guilty of any such like practices? Sharp arrows of the mighty

The wrath and vengeance of the almighty God, which in Scripture, and particularly in this book, is often compared to arrows, as Psalms 7:13-14, &c., and here to arrows of the mighty, that is, arrows shot by the hands of a strong man; and to coals, Psalms 140:10, and here to coals of juniper, which burn very fiercely, and retain their heat for a long time. And the psalmist may possibly express himself in these words, to show the suitableness of the punishment to the sin. As if he had said, As thy tongue shoots arrows, (as calumnies are often called,) and kindles coals, so thou shalt bring God’s arrows and coals, kindled by the fire of his wrath, upon thyself.

Verse 5

Psalms 120:5 . Wo is me that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar Mesech and Kedar are two sorts of people often mentioned in Scripture, and reckoned among the barbarous nations. But their names are here to be understood metaphorically, and so he explains himself in the next verse.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 120". Benson's Commentary. 1857.