Psalm 130:4
But there is forgiveness with you, that you may be feared.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) But.—Rather, for, marking an ellipse easily supplied. Israel’s sense of Jehovah’s readiness to forgive was too deep to need expression, it was understood; “Thou wilt not mark, &c, for . . .”

Forgiveness.—The article in the original may be more than that common with abstract nouns. “The forgiveness we need.”

That thou mayest be feared.—Either that the forgiven ones may become more profoundly religious, or perhaps, rather, that the manifestation of Divine mercy to Israel may strike fear in the heathen.

130:1-4 The only way of relief for a sin-entangled soul, is by applying to God alone. Many things present themselves as diversions, many things offer themselves as remedies, but the soul finds that the Lord alone can heal. And until men are sensible of the guilt of sin, and quit all to come at once to God, it is in vain for them to expect any relief. The Holy Ghost gives to such poor souls a fresh sense of their deep necessity, to stir them up in earnest applications, by the prayer of faith, by crying to God. And as they love their souls, as they are concerned for the glory of the Lord, they are not to be wanting in this duty. Why is it that these matters are so long uncertain with them? Is it not from sloth and despondency that they content themselves with common and customary applications to God? Then let us up and be doing; it must be done, and it is attended with safety. We are to humble ourselves before God, as guilty in his sight. Let us acknowledge our sinfulness; we cannot justify ourselves, or plead not guilty. It is our unspeakable comfort that there is forgiveness with him, for that is what we need. Jesus Christ is the great Ransom; he is ever an Advocate for us, and through him we hope to obtain forgiveness. There is forgiveness with thee, not that thou mayest be presumed upon, but that thou mayest be feared. The fear of God often is put for the whole worship of God. The only motive and encouragement for sinners is this, that there is forgiveness with the Lord.But there is forgiveness with thee - The Septuagint renders this ἱλασμός hilasmos, propitiation, reconciliation; the Latin Vulgate "propitiatio," propitiation. The Hebrew word means "pardon." The idea is, that sin may be forgiven; or, that God is a Being who does pardon sin, and that this is the only ground of hope. When we come before God, the ground of our hope is not that we can justify ourselves; not that we can prove we have not sinned; not that we can explain our sins away; not that we can offer an apology for them; it is only in a frank and full confession, and in a hope that God will forgive them. He who does not come in this manner can have no hope of acceptance with God.

That thou mayest be feared - That thou mayest be reverenced; or, that men may be brought to serve and worship thee - may be brought to a proper reverence for thy name. The idea is, not that pardon produces fear or terror - for the very reverse is true - but that God, by forgiving the sinner, brings him to reverence him, to worship him, to serve him: that is, the sinner is truly reconciled to God, and becomes a sincere worshipper. The offendcr is so pardoned that he is disposed to worship and honor God, for God has revealed himself as one who forgives sin, in order that the sinner may be encouraged to come to him, and be his true worshipper.

4. Pardon produces filial fear and love. Judgment without the hope of pardon creates fear and dislike. The sense of forgiveness, so far from producing licentiousness, produces holiness (Jer 33:9; Eze 16:62, 63; 1Pe 2:16). "There is forgiveness with thee, not that thou mayest be presumed upon, but feared." There is forgiveness with thee; thou art able and ready to forgive repenting sinners.

That thou mayest be feared; not with a slavish, but with a child-like fear and reverence. This grace and mercy of thine is the foundation of all religion and worship of thee in the world, without which men would desperately proceed on in their impious courses without any thought of repentance. But there is forgiveness with thee,.... And with God only; not with angels, nor any of the sons of men; and which flows from his grace and mercy, through the blood of his Son. It appears to be with him by his promise of it in covenant; by appointing his Son to shed his blood for it, and exalting him as a Saviour to give it; by proclaiming it in the Gospel; and by the numerous instances of it, both under the Old and under the New Testament. Or, there is "a propitiation with thee"; as the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions render it: God had found out Christ to be the propitiatory sacrifice for sin, and the ransom of his people; and set him forth in his purposes and decrees for that end; and which was made known by the sacrifices of the law, typical of it; and in the fulness of time he sent him to be the propitiation for it, and he is become so; and has made reconciliation for sin, and reconciled his people to God by the sufferings of death; and reconciled all the divine perfections of justice and holiness, grace and mercy, together, in the salvation of men; and is now an advocate the Father for them, pleading the propitiatory sacrifice of himself before him;

that thou mayest be feared; were it not for pardon, and the hope of it, men would be desperate; and, having no hope, would resolve upon taking their swing of sin, and be entirely negligent of the worship and service of God: was there no forgiveness of sin, there would be no more fear of God among men than there is among devils, for whom there is no forgiveness; there might be dread and trembling, as among them, but no godly fear: yea, if God was strictly to mark iniquity, and not pardon it, there would be none to fear him, all must be condemned and cut off by him; but, in order to secure and preserve his fear among men, he has taken the step he has to pardon sin through the propitiatory sacrifice of his Son; and a discovery, and an application of his grace, teaches men to fear to offend him; influences them to serve him acceptably with reverence and godly fear, and engages them to fear him and his goodness, and him for his goodness's sake, Titus 2:11, Hosea 3:5.

But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou {c} mayest be feared.

(c) Because by nature you are merciful therefore the faithful revere you.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. But there is forgiveness with thee] The Heb. conjunction, which literally means for (so P.B.V.), gives the reason for the truth implied in the preceding verse: ‘Thou dost not remember iniquities, for with thee is forgiveness’; and so it may be rendered But or Nay but. The word for forgiveness occurs again only in Nehemiah 9:17; Daniel 9:9 (in plur.): the adj. forgiving in Psalm 86:5. Cp. 1 John 2:1-2.

that thou mayest be feared] God forgives in order that men may fear Him. Man might dread a stern unforgiving God, but he could not fear Him with that devout reverence which is the animating spirit of Old Testament religion (Deuteronomy 5:29), and which still finds its place in the New Testament as an element in the relation of man to God (1 Peter 1:17). Cp. the plea for pardon in Psalm 79:9, “for thy name’s sake,” and 1 Kings 8:39-40; Romans 2:4.

Most of the Ancient Versions misunderstood this clause, and connected it with the next verse. Thus the LXX, “For thy name’s sake have I waited for thee,” or according to the reading of some MSS (probably taken from Theodotion) followed by the Vulg., “For thy law’s sake.” Jer. “since thou art to be feared.”Verse 4. - But there is forgiveness with thee (comp. Exodus 34:7; 1 Kings 8:30, 34, 36, 39. etc.; Psalm 25:13; Psalm 32:1, etc.; Daniel 9:9; 1 John 1:9, etc.). That thou mayest be feared. Milton makes his Satan say, "Then farewell hope, and, with hope, farewell fear!" ('Paradise Lost,' canto 1.). And certainly the true fear of God, which Scripture requires in us - a reverential, loving fear - could not exist, unless we had a confident hope in God's mercy and willingness to forgive us our trespasses, if we turn to him. The poet illustrates the fate that overtakes them by means of a picture borrowed from Isaiah and worked up (Psalm 37:27): they become like "grass of the housetops," etc. שׁ is a relative to יבשׁ (quod exarescit), and קדמת, priusquam, is Hebraized after מן־קדמת דּנה in Daniel 6:11, or מקּדמת דּנה in Ezra 5:11. שׁלף elsewhere has the signification "to draw forth" of a sword, shoe, or arrow, which is followed by the lxx, Theodotion, and the Quinta: πρὸ τοῦ ἐκσπασθῆναι, before it is plucked. But side by side with the ἐκσπασθῆναι of the lxx we also find the reading exanthee'sai; and in this sense Jerome renders (statim ut) viruerit, Symmachus ἐκκαυλῆσαι (to shoot into a stalk), Aquila ἀνέθαλεν, the Sexta ἐκστερεῶσαι (to attain to full solidity). The Targum paraphrases שׁלף in both senses: to shoot up and to pluck off. The former signification, after which Venema interprets: antequam se evaginet vel evaginetur, i.e., antequam e vaginulis suis se evolvat et succrescat, is also advocated by Parchon, Kimchi, and Aben-Ezra. In the same sense von Ortenberg conjectures שׁחלף. Since the grass of the house-tops or roofs, if one wishes to pull it up, can be pulled up just as well when it is withered as when it is green, and since it is the most natural thing to take חציר as the subject to שׁלף, we decide in favour of the intransitive signification, "to put itself forth, to develope, shoot forth into ear." The roof-grass withers before it has put forth ears of blossoms, just because it has no deep root, and therefore cannot stand against the heat of the sun.

(Note: So, too, Geiger in the Deutsche Morgenlndische Zeitschrift, xiv. 278f., according to whom Arab. slf (šlf) occurs in Saadia and Abu-Said in the signification "to be in the first maturity, to blossom," - a sense שׁלף may also have here; cf. the Talmudic שׁלופפי used of unripe dates that are still in blossom.)

The poet pursues the figure of the grass of the house-tops still further. The encompassing lap or bosom (κόλπος) is called elsewhere חצן (Isaiah 49:22; Nehemiah 5:13); here it is חצן, like the Arabic ḥiḍn (diminutive ḥoḍein), of the same root with מחוז, a creek, in Psalm 107:30. The enemies of Israel are as grass upon the house-tops, which is not garnered in; their life closes with sure destruction, the germ of which they (without any need for any rooting out) carry within themselves. The observation of Knapp, that any Western poet would have left off with Psalm 129:6, is based upon the error that Psalm 129:7-8 are an idle embellishment. The greeting addressed to the reapers in Psalm 129:8 is taken from life; it is not denied even to heathen reapers. Similarly Boaz (Ruth 2:4) greets them with "Jahve be with you," and receivers the counter-salutation, "Jahve bless thee." Here it is the passers-by who call out to those who are harvesting: The blessing (בּרכּת) of Jahve happen to you (אליכם,

(Note: Here and there עליכם is found as an error of the copyist. The Hebrew Psalter, Basel 1547, 12mo, notes it as a various reading.)

as in the Aaronitish blessing), and (since "we bless you in the name of Jahve" would be a purposeless excess of politeness in the mouth of the same speakers) receive in their turn the counter-salutation: We bless you in the name of Jahve. As a contrast it follows that there is before the righteous a garnering in of that which they have sown amidst the exchange of joyful benedictory greetings.

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