Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
To the chief Musician, A Song or Psalm
Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands:
2 Sing forth the honor of his name:
Make his praise glorious.
3 Say unto God, How terrible art thou in thy works!
Through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies submit themselves unto thee.
4 All the earth shall worship thee, and shall sing unto thee;
They shall sing to thy name. Selah.
5 Come and see the works of God:
He is terrible in his doing toward the children of men.
6 He turned the sea into dry land:
They went through the flood on foot:
There did we rejoice in him.
7 He ruleth by his power for ever;
His eyes behold the nations;
Let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah.
8 O bless our God, ye people,
And make the voice of his praise to be heard:
9 Which holdeth our soul in life,
And suffereth not our feet to be moved.
10 For thou, O God, hast proved us:
Thou hast tried us, as silver is tried.
11 Thou broughtest us into the net;
Thou laidst affliction upon our loins.
12 Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads;
We went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.
13 I will go into thy house with burnt offerings;
I will pay thee my vows,
14 Which my lips have uttered,
And my mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble.
15 I will offer unto thee burnt sacrifices of fatlings,
With the incense of rams:
I will offer bullocks with goats. Selah.
16 Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare
What he hath done for my soul.
17 I cried unto him with my mouth,
And he was extolled with my tongue.
18 If I regard iniquity in my heart,
The Lord will not hear me:
19 But verily God hath heard me;
He hath attended to the voice of my prayer.
20 Blessed be God,
Which hath not turned away my prayer,
Nor his mercy from me.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
ITS CONTENTS AND COMPOSITION.—An exhortation to the nations of the earth to praise God, the Almighty (Psalm 66:1—4), introduces the exhortation to consider the mighty deeds of God in the deliverance of His people in ancient times (Psalm 66:5–7). This is then followed by the exhortation to praise God for a deliverance of the people from trials recently endured (Psalm 66:7–12). The Psalm now passes over from the plural to the singular, yet its turns of expression are so individual, e.g. Psalm 66:16 and 18, that the supposition that the nation is personified is entirely untenable. The Psalmist speaks from his own soul and experience, yet as a member of the congregation here mentioned (Calvin, Geier, et al.). He expresses his design of bringing the promised offerings into the house of God (Psalm 66:13–15), and concludes with an exhortation to the pious to listen to his narrative, how he called upon God, and God heard him, and this to the praise of God (Psalm 66:16–20). There is no reason whatever to regard this second part as a special song of thanksgiving (Ewald). The similarity of Psalm 66:16 and 5, and that of the structure of the strophes thus apparent, is in favor of the original unity of the Psalm. The person and age of the author remain undetermined in this, as well as the following Psalm, notwithstanding the dedication to the director. If עוֹלָם, Psalm 66:7, meant the world (Chald., et al.), we would have evidence in favor of the Maccabean age (Paulus, Olsh., Hitzig), but the word has this meaning only with the Rabbins (Aben Ezra), whilst in the Old Testament this form is always elsewhere an accusative of time with the meaning, forever and ever. It is mere guess—work to think of the time of the dedication of the temple after the exile (Ruding., Rosenm. II., Ewald), or of the exile itself (Rabb., Flam., Rosenm. I.), or of the fall of the Assyrians (Von Leng.), or of the raising of the siege of Jerusalem in connection with Hezekiah’s sickness (Venema, Muntinghe, Köster). The title of the Sept. names it a resurrection Psalm, perhaps with reference to Psalm 66:12 (Delitzsch). The Greek Church has retained this name.
Str. I. Psalm 66:2. Give glory.—This is not to be taken as Jos. 7:19, Is. 42:12; Jer. 13:16, but as Ps. 29:12; Deut. 32:3, in the sense of giving כָּבוֹד. For this word is placed immediately before, in the objective sense. Hence it cannot be rendered: give the honor (namely) to His praise (or: His renown), that is, make His praise glorious (most interpreters, [A. V.]). The sense can only be: recognize glory (or majesty) His renown. For this rendering it makes no difference whether the last words are regarded grammatically as the second object, or as in apposition, or as connected with the preceding words by an inserted “as.”
Psalm 66:3. How terrible,etc.—This is related with the song in heaven, Rev. 15:3 sq.—[Thine enemies dissemble to Thee.—Compare Ps. 18:44. They yield unwilling, constrained, feigned homage.
Psalm 66:4. Alexander: “This anticipation of universal homage to Jehovah is in strict accordance with the whole spirit and design of the Mosaic dispensation.”—C. A. B.]
Sir. II. Psalm 66:6. They passed through the stream.—The stream is not the Euphrates (Stier, Hengstenberg), but the Jordan. For the reference is to miracles of ancient times, and not of the future, in which the miracle of the Jordan is to be repeated on a grander scale. In the latter case it would be as natural to think of the Nile, Zech. 10:11, as the Euphrates, comp. Isa. 11:15 sq.—[There we rejoiced in Him.—This is the rendering of Hupfeld, Delitzsch, Moll, et al. As Delitzsch remarks: “the congregation of all times is a solid unit.” The Psalmist brings these miracles of the past before his hearers, with such vividness that both speaker and hearers seem to be present and engaged in them as members of the chosen people. There is no reference to a possible repetition of these wonders in the future, as even Alexander, or in the present (Perowne).1
Psalm 66:7. For ever.—As God has wrought His mighty works in the past, so does He govern now, and so will He in all future times. His government is an everlasting government.—His eyes keep watch upon the nations.—The affairs of His people are no less closely scrutinized by God now than of yore, when He led them through the Red Sea and the Jordan. He is the ever—watchful spy of Israel, searching the hearts of the nations to frustrate their evil plans.—C. A. B.]—The rebellious cannot raise (their heads).—This clause begins with אַל, and it cannot be changed for לֹא, or regarded as equivalent to it. Accordingly it does not express a prophecy (Kimchi, Luther, Geier, et al.), but a negative conclusion (Septuagint, Isaki, De Wette, Hengstenberg, et al.), either as a warning or as an expression of prevention. [The author supplies “heads,” as Pss. 3:3; 110:7; comp. Ps. 75:5, 6, where “horn” is used.—C. A. B.]
Str. 3 [Psalm 66:9, 10. Sets our souls in life,etc.—Delitzsch: “God has turned away from His people the danger of death and of falling; He has put their souls in life, that is, in the sphere of life; He has not left their feet to totter until they fall. For God has cast His people as it were into the smelting furnace or pot, in order to remove their dross by sufferings and preserve them—a favorite figure of Isaiah’s and Jeremiah’s, but likewise of Zech. 13:9; Mal. 3:3.”—C. A. B.]
Psalm 66:11. Thou hast brought us unto the enclosure.—מְצִוּדָה is not a net (Sept. and most interpreters, [A. V.]), but a strong place or state of being enclosed (Aquila, Symm., Jerome, Isaki, Luther, Geier, et al.), with the article as here, a designation of the condition of David in the wilderness, 1 Sam. 22:4 sq.; 2 Sam. 5:17; 23:24 (Hupfeld).—[Hast laid an oppressive burden on our loins.—Delitzsch: “The loins are mentioned, because in carrying heavy burdens, which have to be lifted by squatting down, the lower region of the spine is particularly employed.”—C. A. B.]
Psalm 66:12. Hast made men to ride over our head.—This expression cannot be explained in accordance with Is. 51:23 (make his back a street for travellers), in behalf of the meaning “subdue, subjugate” (Clauss, Stier), as Ps. 129:3, because the head is mentioned here; but in accordance with Deut. 32:13; Is. 58:14: drive or advance over the high places of the land, Deut. 33:39; Mic. 1:3; Amos 4:13 (Kimchi, et al.). It is possible, however, to translate: ride on our heads (Calvin, Geier, and most interpreters); then there would be connected with the idea of subjugation that of hard and shameful treatment. This might be preferred for the reason that the riders are here called אֱנושׁ, and thus the contrast is brought into view between their proud and violent conduct, and their mortal, frail nature, Pss. 9:19 sq.; 10:18; 56:1; Is. 51:12; 2 Chron. 14:10 (Delitzsch.)—We came into fire and water—and Thou hast brought us out into abundance.—[Delitzsch: “Fire and water, as Is. 43:2, are figurative of the changing perils of death in their extreme forms. Israel was near to being consumed and overwhelmed, but God brought him out to the richest abundance, to the exuberance of prosperity.”—C. A. B.] Many interpreters have objected to רְוָיָה (abundance, Ps. 23:5), because the contrast to the condition of danger figuratively expressed in the previous line, would lead us to expect an expression, somewhat as: wide place (Chald., Symm.), or rest (Arabic, Æthiop.), or refreshment, enlivenment, recovery (Septuagint, Vulg., Syriac, Aquila). Hence the proposal to change the reading into רְוָחָה (Houbig., et al.)
Str. 4 [Perowne: “We have now the personal acknowledgment of God’s mercy, first, in the announcement on the part of the Psalmist of the offerings which he is about to bring, and which he had vowed in his trouble; and then, in the record of God’s dealing with his soul, which had called forth his thankfulness.”—C. A. B.]
Psalm 66:14. To which my lips quickly opened.—The quick opening, literally tearing open of the lips refers to the involuntariness of the vow pressed out by necessity, not as Job 35:16, and Judges 11:35, to the hasty vow.
Psalm 66:15. Alongside of the lambs and bullocks universally used as animals of sacrifice, rams and goats are here mentioned. The former are mentioned only as the whole burnt—offerings of the high—priest, the prince of the tribe and the people, and as the thank—offering in the shelamim of Aaron, the people, the princes of the tribe, and the Nazarite (Num. 6:14); the latter are never mentioned as whole burnt—offerings, but only in the shelamim of the princes of the tribes, Numb. 7. Thus apparently the עים introduces the shelamim brought in connection with the whole burnt—offerings (Delitzsch).
Str. 5 Psalm 66:16, 17. [Delitzsch: “The address goes forth, as in Psalm 66:5 and 2, to the widest circles, to all who fear God, wherever they may be on earth. He would tell them all that God has caused him to experience in order that God might be glorified and they might be benefited.”—“He cried to God with his mouth (thus not only quietly within the soul, but loud and violently), and a hymn was under my tongue, that is, I was so sure of the hearing of my prayer, that I already had in readiness a song of praise (see Ps. 10:7), which I would strike up when the implored help which was assured to me should come.”
Psalm 66:18. If I had seen iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have heard me.—Perowne: “Probably, if I had been conscious of iniquity in my heart, the assertion being that of freedom from anything like purposed deceit, as in Pss. 17:1; 32:2; or the phrase may mean, as the A. V. takes it: ‘If I had regarded iniquity,’ i.e., looked upon it with pleasure and satisfaction. Compare for this use of the verb (with the accusative) Job 31:26; Heb. 1:13; Prov. 23:31. For the general sentiment of the passage, comp. Job 27:8, 9: Is. 1:15; 59:2, 3; John 9:31; John 3:21.”—C. A. B.]
Psalm 66:20. The closing clause is broken up by most interpreters into two clauses, either by a repetition of the verb in another meaning=who has not rejected my prayer and has not taken away His grace from me (Luther, J. H. Mich., De Wette, Stier), or without the repetition (=who has not removed) by the insertion of the words: “from Himself,” as a contrast to the closing words: from me (Isaki, Venema, Köster, Hengstenberg, Hitzig), comp. Amos 5:23; Job 23:12. But this is against the sense and the accents. Moreover the prayer is not=that which is asked for (Geier, Hupfeld), but the prayer as the contrast of silence (the ancient versions, Augustine, Delitzsch). The Psalmist rejoices that he can pray at all times, and that the grace of being heard is afforded him.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. God’s name has a majesty and a grandeur which constitutes His glory, and is worthy of being praised by the whole world. The enemies of God do this from fear, and therefore they are hypocritical, but those who truly reverence Him thereby testify their sincere thankfulness. “The glory of God is unworthily suppressed, if when He stands by us in misfortune, our deliverance is not followed by solemn thanksgiving” (Calvin).
2. That which is not conformed to the gracious will of God, must submit to His irresistible power; and God sees all. O that the rebellious would allow themselves to be warned by this, and that those who fear God would be comforted. For although they have the severest afflictions and are brought into every imaginable misery, this is only to try them, as gold and silver are melted in the furnace for purification (Is. 1:25; 48:10; Zech. 13:9; 1 Peter 1:7); and God is not only their Comforter, but likewise their Deliverer. He leads them in; He will likewise be their Keeper.
3. Every fresh experience of deliverance reminds us of the previous mighty works of God. Among these, those rise pre—eminent which refer to the organization and preservation of the congregation in the midst of a hostile world. These are worthy above all of being brought near and recommended to the consideration of the entire world, and are especially suited to strengthen the hope of the believer in God’s further assistance and to enliven faith in the hearing of prayer. Yet we must not forget that prayers must not come from wicked or hypocritical hearts. For God can deprive men of the gift of prayer as well as the grace of granting the petition, Is. 1:15; 59:2, 3; Prov. 15:29.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Use and misuse of the name of God.—What are we to learn from the history of our forefathers?—What God does to His people has an importance for the entire world.—Patience, faith, and prayer are necessary in order that we may endure the trials of sufferings.—Not to be able to pray is still worse than to have no answer.—Prayers of wicked hearts are not heard.—The pious will have deliverance, but of grace.—God sees and hears all men, but how does He look upon them, and whether He grants their requests, that is the question.
STARKE: Men and angels were created for the praise and glory of God, they should thus always be ready and willing.—When you tell others of the guidances of God respecting your soul, take care lest some hypocrisy or self—love creep in, and that the glory of God be your only aim.
FRANKE: The mystery of the cross is the true means of putting a joyous Psalm into our heart and mouth.—RENSCHEL: The faith, constancy and patience of the pious are furthered by affliction.—A noble thanksgiving is due to a great benefit.—FRISCH: The most precious and useful narratives are those which a converted heart makes of its own experience of God’s bounties. This strengthens us and edifies our fellow—men.—THOLUCK: There are few men whose thanksgivings are so numerous and warm as their prayers.—TAUBE: He who will not recognize himself as dust and ashes before God, God knows how to make him such; the recognition must be expressed that He is the Lord, whether from the heart or in pain.
[MATT. HENRY: Much of religion lies in a reverence for the Divine providence.—God brings His people into trouble, that their comforts afterwards may be the sweeter, and that their affliction may thus yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness, which will make the poorest place in the world a wealthy place.—What we win by prayer, we must wear with praise.—BARNES: Vows made in trouble, in sickness, in bereavement, in times of public calamity, should be faithfully performed when health and prosperity visit us again; but, alas, how often are they forgotten!—SPURGEON: All the saints must go to the proving house; God had one Son without sin, but He never had a son without trial.—Since trial is sanctified to so desirable an end, ought we not to submit to it with abounding resignation?—Nothing hinders prayer like iniquity harbored in the breast.—Facts are blessed things when they reveal both God’s heart as loving, and our own heart as sincere.—C. A. B.]
[Petowne translates: “There let us rejoice in Him. There, pointing as it were to the field in which God had made bare His arm, and where the past history had been repeated in the present, there, let us rejoice in Him.”—C. A. B.]
To the chief Musician, A Song or Psalm. Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands: