|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
74:1-11 This psalm appears to describe the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Chaldeans. The deplorable case of the people of God, at the time, is spread before the Lord, and left with him. They plead the great things God had done for them. If the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt was encouragement to hope that he would not cast them off, much more reason have we to believe, that God will not cast off any whom Christ has redeemed with his own blood. Infidels and persecutors may silence faithful ministers, and shut up places of worship, and say they will destroy the people of God and their religion together. For a long time they may prosper in these attempts, and God's oppressed servants may see no prospect of deliverance; but there is a remnant of believers, the seed of a future harvest, and the despised church has survived those who once triumphed over her. When the power of enemies is most threatening, it is comfortable to flee to the power of God by earnest prayer.
Verse 5. - A man was famous according as he had lifted up axes upon the thick trees; rather, they seemed as men that plied aloft hatchets in a thicket of trees (so Kay, Canon Cook, Professor Cheyne, and the Revised Version); i.e. they plied their hatchets with as little reverence as if they had been hewing timber in a copse of wood.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
A man was famous,.... Or, "it was", or "is known" (m); the desolations the enemy made, the wickedness they committed, the terror they spread, and the signs they set in the sanctuary of the Lord:
according as he had lifted up, or "as one that lifts up"
axes upon the thick trees (n); that is, the above things were as visible, and as well known, being as easy to be seen as such an action is, a man being obliged to lift his axe above his head, to cut down a thick tree: or rather the sense is, formerly a man was famous for, and it gave him some credit and esteem, to be an hewer of wood in the forest of Lebanon, where he lifted up his axe, and cut down the thick trees for the building of the temple, as the servants of Hiram king of Tyre did; and such an action was esteemed as if a man brought an offering to God; agreeably to which is Kimchi's note,
"when the temple was built, he who lifted up his axe upon a thick tree, to cut it down for the building, was known, as if he lifted it up above in heaven before the throne of glory; all so rejoiced and gloried in the building:''
and Aben Ezra interprets it of acclamations made above on that account. The words, according to the accents, should be rendered thus, "he" or "it was known, as he that lifteth up on high; even as he that lifteth up on high, axes upon the thick tree".
(m) "cognitus erat", Munster; "noscitur", Cocceius; "cognoscitur, innotescit", Gejerus. (n) "velut adducens", Montanus, Gejerus; "tanquam sursum tollens et desuper inducens", Michaelis.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5, 6. Though some terms and clauses here are very obscure, the general sense is that the spoilers destroyed the beauties of the temple with the violence of woodmen.
was famous—literally, "was known."
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