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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Psalms 75


To the chief Musician. Al-taschith, A Psalm or Song of Asaph.

Nothing is more clear than that this psalm was written on occasion of some great national deliverance, which was wrought directly by the interposition of Jehovah, “who putteth down one and setteth up another.” Its tone is triumphal, breathing a spirit of faith in God and of fidelity to the principles of the theocracy, saddened only by the desolated state in which the land and people were left (Psalms 75:2-3) by the war. The fresh joy and quickened faith contrast with the “Arise, Jehovah, plead thine own cause,” of Psalms 74:0. The danger now passed, the review of the most evident work of God becomes more calm, and the mind turns to the shattered state of the nation, and the policy of restoration to be adopted. Throughout we must suppose the king speaks as the vicegerent of God. The dignified pathos, the didactic tone, and the strongly historic stamp, place it with the model lyrics of Asaphic origin. We are at once pointed to the time of Hezekiah, and the overthrow of Sennacherib’s army, as its most probable historic occasion. See 2 Kings 19:35-37; 2 Kings 2:0 Chronicles 22:21-23; Isaiah 36-37. See introduction to Psalms 76:0. Psalms 75:1 is a thanksgiving, and a confession of God’s presence with his Church; Psalms 75:2-3 contain a pledge of fidelity to the theocracy in the administration of government; Psalms 75:4-8 are an admonition to the haughty oppressor, and a profession of the psalmist’s faith in God during the impending danger; Psalms 75:9-10 express renewed pledges of faithfulness to God and the principles of the theocracy; the whole dividing into four unequal strophes.


To the chief Musician This assignment to the overseer of the temple music, with the strong Asaphic character of the psalm, would of themselves place it after David’s day, and before the Chaldean invasion, leaving the reign of Jehosaphat or Hezekiah as the only possible times of its origin. Al-taschith, ( destroy not,) may be understood as a Davidic motto, (see titles of Psalms 57, 58, 59,) here copied by Asaph, and applied, not merely as the air or tune to be used, but as an admonition to the pride and ambition of conquerors who threaten, as the Assyrian did Jerusalem, to destroy innocent nations. See Isaiah 36:0

Verse 1

1. Give thanks The first prompting of a pious heart, and the first tribute due to God for his wonders.

Thy name is near Objectively, when faith waits for promised succour, as in Isaiah 30:27, the anticipated coming “name of Jehovah;” and subjectively, in the consciousness of his presence. The former sense suits historically the state of Hezekiah after Isaiah had delivered the promise, (Isaiah 37:0,) and the latter such experience as is recorded Psalms 65:4

Verse 2

2. When I shall receive the congregation We must certainly recognise the historic ground of Psalms 75:2-3, before any spiritual or prophetic sense is admissible. The king is speaking to God. He states what he will do when he shall take his seat in the assembly, namely, perform the highest function of his office faithfully. “When I shall receive,” or take the place of authority in the stated assembly for the administration of justice, I will judge uprightly. He first thanks God for deliverance, then his heart turns to his distracted people, and, as God’s minister to them, he pledges uprightness of decision. This is part of his gratitude offering. All nations have had their times of restoring order and prosperity after the shattering effects of war, and this example of the pious king of Judah is worthy of universal adoption as the soundest state policy.

Verse 3

3. The earth and all the inhabitants… are dissolved A figurative description of a wasted country and a dispirited people.

Dissolved Melted, become faint with fear and discouragement. Psalms 107:26; Ezekiel 21:15. Isaiah 14:31, “Thou, whole Palestina, art dissolved:” this latter is spoken of this same or a subsequent Assyrian invasion.

Earth The land the “earth” so far as relates to Hebrew territory. To the eye the desolation seemed world wide.

I bear up the pillars of it I adjust its pillars. The king still speaks in the name of God. Every thing in the kingdom is shaken and thrown out of order except the throne. From this solid centre and basis the reconstruction of government and the restoration of order and prosperity must proceed. “The pillars and foundations of the earth signify those fundamental laws which are essential to the existence and well being of society.” French and Skinner. The lofty image here employed is often used to denote the shaking or overthrow of governments. Psalms 46:2; Psalms 82:5; Jeremiah 4:23-27. It is quite common for interpreters to apply this to God, or to Christ as king, as speaking of himself and of mankind; but it is a safer method of interpretation to follow the historic and literal sense where it adequately meets the import of the language. To spiritualize historic facts does not interpret them; but the underlying moral of history is of universal application, and both fact and moral are given in holy Scripture to illustrate the divine government.

Verse 4

4. I said unto the fools The king still speaks as God’s vicar. I said to the haughty, who by reason of their successes had grown insolent.

Deal not foolishly Scornfully, boastfully.

Lift not up the horn Toss not high your horn defiantly, as the infuriated bull, “from a sense of your strength, and with intention to strike.” Hengstenberg.

Speak not with a stiff neck With an arrogant neck, a hard neck, a neck of impudence. The allusion is to the lofty tossing of the head of the bison, (when brought to bay,) displaying the pride and strength of his powerful neck.

Verse 6

6. For promotion Same word as “lift,” in Psalms 75:4-5. He warns his enemy not to “lift” up himself in pride and scorn, for the true lifting up, or “promotion,” is from God only. Psalms 75:7.

East… west… south An enumeration, not of the cardinal points of the compass, but of those quarters from whence the contest for supremacy among the nations arose, so far as the Hebrews were affected by it, namely, the Assyrians and Babylonians on the “east;” the Egyptians on the “west,” or southwest as to southern Palestine or the kingdom of Judah, and the Arabians and Ethiopians on the “south.” All these powers had been more or less called into activity by the invasion of Sennacherib, and from time to time warred against Israel.

The south The Hebrew word is wilderness, but is a designation of Arabia.

Verse 7

7. God is… judge Comp. 1 Samuel 2:6-8

Verse 8

8. A cup… red The emblem of wrath. Psalms 60:3; Revelation 14:10.

Mixture Alluding to the practice of drugging wine to make it more intoxicating. Isaiah 5:11; Isaiah 5:22.

Wring… out That is, shall press the dregs, or lees, at the bottom of the cup, to extract the last drop. See Isaiah 51:17; Isaiah 51:22

Verse 9

9. I will declare I will make public; it shall be the prominent fact of my reign and the confession of my lips.

Verse 10

10. All the horns of the wicked… will I cut off Conforming my administration to thine, I also will break off “the horns” destroy the official power of such wicked persons as rise contemptuously against thee, thus setting at defiance all the laws of the commonwealth, as well as the religion established by thy authority, and will cherish and promote such as faithfully keep thy laws. This breaking the horns of the wicked and setting up the righteous, is a Davidic vow and maxim of government, (see Psalms 101:0,) and purely theocratic. The reader must not take this as a declared purpose to persecute men for want of religious faith, but a statement of the psalmist’s settled policy not to honour with office in the government, men whose loose principles and vicious habits will make them hurtful to the liberty and virtue of others, and unfit them to administer impartial law.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 75". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.