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A Psalm or Song. for the sabbath day.
Like Psalms 91:0, this also is barren of definite historical data for fixing the precise time and occasion of its origin; but, like it, is strongly marked by internal traits which conduct us to a reasonable probability. Prominently before the author were the “wicked,” the “workers of iniquity,” who “sprang up as grass” and “flourished,” but whose sudden doom was to “perish for ever,” (Psalms 92:7,) to be “scattered,” (Psalms 92:9.) These wicked were “brutish,” “foolish,” not knowing the works of God, nor his “deep thoughts,” (Psalms 92:5-6,) and hence rushed blindly on to their destruction. The righteous, meanwhile, shall be exalted with honour, (Psalms 92:10,) and being firmly grounded in the doctrine and worship of the only true God, shall grow and flourish. This avenging providence, always discriminative of character, and committed to the principle of true holiness, is the theme of the psalm, which the author treats in the sweet spirit of praise and the profound confidence of hope. The whole spirit and scope of the psalm suit the quieted and assured state of King Hezekiah after the announcement of the Prophet Isaiah. 2 Kings 19:20-34; Isaiah 27:21-35. The feelings of Hezekiah before this announcement are well portrayed in Psalms 73:0, and after the catastrophe in Psalms 46, 76. But the quiet trust of the assured mind of the king, resting in God’s word before the event, are well described in Psalms 92, 93, which should be taken as pairs, or two parts of one whole. But their application, like all Scripture, is general. The individual soul, and the collective body of the Church, struggling against the powers of evil, especially the combinations of wicked men, here find incentives to faith, hope, praise, and a firm adherence to the worship and institutions of God.
A Psalm or Song for the sabbath day In the liturgical order of worship established by David, the daily temple service was accompanied by singing, and this psalm was probably, at an early day, assigned to the sabbath, as it is known to have stood thus in the arrangement from about three hundred years before Christ. It breathes the spirit of rest, as “the sabbath” denotes, (Genesis 2:2;) whether the rest of the seventh day, or of any public feast day wherein they were to abstain from labour. The allusions to God’s works in nature, providence, and covenant faithfulness, suit it to the feast of tabernacles in October, when the fruits of the year were brought in, or to the feast of weeks in May, when the wheat harvest was gathered.
1. Good… give thanks The word “good,” in Hebrew, is of broad significance good in all times and on all occasions. Such is the exercise of praise to God. “In every thing give thanks,” 1 Thessalonians 5:18; “Offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually,” Hebrews 13:15
2. Morning… night Daily, special, and constant. An allusion to the daily morning and evening sacrifice, when the people went up to the temple to worship, or at these hours (about 9 A.M. and 3 P.M.) observed the time in prayer at home.
3. Instrument of ten strings… psaltery… harp See note on Psalms 81:2; Psalms 33:2.
Upon the harp with a solemn sound Either a gentle sound, or a grave undertone double bass. The meditative tone of the psalm, though cheerful, would indicate the latter.
4. Glad through thy work “Work,” here, is used collectively for a series of providential acts. The pious heart is gladdened when faith sees the purposes of God unfolding.
Triumph in the works of thy hands In this second hemistich a different word for “work” is used; one of more comprehensive import, and expressive of acts of creation as well as providence.
5. Thy works… thy thoughts The term “works,” here, refers to those of creation and providence; “thoughts,” to plans and methods. These are words of that sound philosophy which penetrates deep enough into God’s “works” to perceive they are unfathomable to human intellect, and is modest enough to confess the same, while it is devout also to adore the wisdom which it cannot comprehend. Compare Romans 11:33
6. Brutish man A stupid man. Compared to a brute because he lives to appetite, and enters not into the true reasons of things; not recognising God as creator and ruler. See Psalms 49:12; Psalms 49:20.
Fool The word signifies a dull, sluggish person, with the accessory idea of impiety, and answers to “brutish man” in the preceding line. Such men have no perception of the wise and wonderful moral government which is pledged to the certain overthrow of the wicked and the establishment of the righteous.
7. Wicked spring as the grass Suddenly, and with greenness and freshness of hope.
Destroyed for ever And at the moment when their hope springs forth like the fresh grass. The brutish man does not consider this.
9. For, lo… for, lo This repetition of the interjective particle is intensive, as if the speaker was seized with sudden amazement and horror at the spectacle of such an unlooked for destruction of his enemies, who were also God’s enemies. If we apply this, historically, to Sennacherib, compare this vision of his catastrophe with the proud beginnings of the war, when he first marched to Jerusalem by the way of Michmash, (described Isaiah 10:28-32,) and Isaiah’s prediction of his overthrow, Isaiah 10:33-34; compare, also, 2 Kings 19:35-37.
Scattered Broken to pieces, that is, with violence and without order.
10. But my horn shalt thou exalt Thou shalt “exalt” me to power and honour.
Unicorn Or buffalo. See on Psalms 22:21. There is no animal of one horn which answers to the Hebrew ראם , ( re’eem,) which, following the Septuagint and Vulgate, our translators have always rendered “unicorn.” The rhinoceros does not meet the Bible description, and far less the antelope. See more in note on Psalms 22:21. Exalting the “horn” denotes strength and victory, and the figure is based upon the majestic and proud elevation of the “horns” of the wild buffalo when excited by danger. On his proverbial strength see Numbers 23:22.
Fresh oil Green oil. “Retaining,” says Calmet, “somewhat of the colour and fragrance of the plant.” Roberts thinks it is cold-drawn oil, which has been extracted from the berry or fruit without the process of boiling. “The orientals,” he says, “prefer this kind for anointing themselves to all others. It is considered the most precious and the most pure and efficacious. Nearly all the medicinal oils are thus extracted, and are very dear.”
11. Mine eye… shall see… desire The enemies which were feared had become powerless. God had made “the horn” of his power a terror to them, and the gladness of promised victory had come to the author’s soul like fresh oil. His eye, his ear, could desire no more. The expression “Thine eye shall see,” etc., denotes, Thou shalt witness and consider. Compare Psalms 37:34; Psalms 59:10; Psalms 91:8. This language is yet to receive, in the spiritual sphere, its highest fulfilment to the Church.
12. The righteous shall flourish The psalmist now drops the first person, as used in Psalms 92:4; Psalms 92:10-11, and again speaks in general terms of general principles.
Like the palm This tree was long-lived, vigorous, fresh in its growth, perpetual in its verdure, and renowned for its beauty and fertility. Song of Solomon 7:7. It was once the glory of Palestine, though now almost perished from the land. The branches of the palm were used as the emblem of joy and triumph, (Leviticus 23:40; Nehemiah 8:15; John 12:12-13; Revelation 7:9;) but the metaphor in the text is based on the fresh, rapid, and healthful growth of the tree, as the word “flourish” indicates. See the use of this word in Ezekiel 17:24; Isaiah 35:1-2, translated blossom; Song of Solomon 6:11; Song of Solomon 7:12; Psalms 92:13.
Cedar The pride of the mountain, as the palm was of the lower lands. It is celebrated for its breadth of branch, its majesty, its verdure, and its utility.
13. Planted in the house of the Lord The metaphor is carried through this and the following verses. The right planting is first essential to growth and fertility. See note on Psalms 52:8; and compare Jeremiah 17:8; Ezekiel 19:10; Ezekiel 19:13; Matthew 15:13.
Shall flourish Grow vigorously, and with unfading leaf. See Psalms 92:12 and Psalms 1:3. True church life, in its doctrines, ordinances, and fellowships, is God’s soil for spiritual growth.
14. Fruit in old age… fat and flourishing The greenness and fertility here may allude to the olive tree, (see on Psalms 52:8; Psalms 128:3;) but the description transcends the laws of nature, as the doctrine of the divine life outsteps the analogy of vegetable life. The fruits of the Spirit are grown upon the stock of the immortal and regenerate mind, and are as unfailing as it. See note on Psalms 128:3
15. To show that the Lord is upright To vindicate the truth of his promises, and the rectitude of his ways with those who fear him.
He is my rock A precious confession, coming from the depths of a grateful and triumphant soul.
There is no unrighteousness in him Moses had said the same, after a long life of wonderful experience. Deuteronomy 32:4. Evil may present various forms of apparent contradiction of God’s faithfulness, but the deeper insight of faith apprehends, and the result proves, that God is justified in his sayings, and will overcome when he judges. Psalms 51:4; Romans 3:4.
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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 92". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17