Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
To the chief Musician on Neginoth, A Psalm or Song of Asaph
2 In Judah is God known:
His name is great in Israel,
3 In Salem also is his tabernacle,
And his dwelling place in Zion.
4 There brake he the arrows of the bow,
The shield, and the sword, and the battle. Selah.
5 Thou art more glorious and excellent
Than the mountains of prey.
6 The stout hearted are spoiled,
They have slept their sleep:
And none of the men of might have found their hands.
7 At thy rebuke, O God of Jacob,
Both the chariot and horse are cast into a dead sleep.
8 Thou, even thou, art to be feared:
And who may stand in thy sight when once thou art angry?
9 Thou didst cause judgment to be heard from heaven;
The earth feared, and was still,
10 When God arose to judgment,
To save all the meek of the earth. Selah.
11 Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee:
The remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.
12 Vow, and pay unto the LORD your God:
Let all that be round about him bring presents unto him that ought to be feared.
13 He will cut off all the spirit of princes,
He is terrible to the kings of the earth.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
CONTENTS AND COMPOSITION.—On the superscription compare § 12, No. 4. The close relationship of this Psalm to Ps. 75 is universally acknowledged. What is to be said as to its occasion and composition has been given already under that Psalm. Without assuming this relationship we might, especially with a peculiar interpretation of Psalm 76:5 (see below), be led to bring it into connection with the defeat of the allied neighboring nations, in the reign of Jehoshaphat, foretold by the Asaphite Jehaziel. It is now, with greater certainty, held to relate to the execution of that Divine judgment upon the Assyrians in the time of Hezekiah, which in the foregoing Psalm was considered as in prophetic prospect. [So the commentators generally approve of the superscription of the Sept.: πρὸς τὸν Ασσύριον.—J. F. M.]. It is first brought into view how God has again made His name glorious in His chosen dwelling-place in Jerusalem, by the annihilation of the forces of the enemy, which before His rebuke sunk down into the sleep of death (Psalm 76:2–7). From this the inference is, drawn (Psalm 76:8–10) that God, in the terribleness of His wrath, is irresistible when He arises to judgment for the deliverance of His suffering ones. To this, after presenting God’s truthfulness in support of this declaration, the Psalmist adds an exhortation to a course of conduct in agreement therewith (Psalm 76:11–13). [Hengstenberg: “The enthusiastic feeling, the courageous tone, which characterize the prophecies and also the Psalms of the Assyrian period (comp. besides Ps. 75, especially Ps. 46) meet us here also.”—J. F. M.]
Psalm 76:2–4. Known.—נוֹדָע, as parallel to the following stich, is not to be taken as a præterite but as a participle. Judah is the more restricted, Israel the wider conception. Salem is evidently Jerusalem, and so named in allusion to Gen. 14:18. Comp. Josh. 10:1. By choosing it as His dwelling God had made Zion the place of His self-revelation by which He became known in Israel, and especially in Judah. שָׁמָּה does not mean: thither (Hengst.), but like שָׁם simply: there (Hupfeld). The breaking in pieces of the enemy’s weapons is to be compared with Ps. 46:10; Hos. 2:20. In the latter passage also war is put for weapons of war. The lightnings of the bow are the arrows.
Psalm 76:5–7. Thou art shining forth, glorious One, from the mountains of spoil. [E. V., Thou art more glorious and excellent than the mountains of prey].—Comp. Dan. 2:22; 1 Tim. 6:16. It is unnecessary to change נָאוֹר into נוֹרָא (Sept., Targ.). The latter is found in the text only in Psalm 76:8 and 13. The mountains (plural also in Ps. 87:1; 133:2) of spoil here denote Mount Zion. From thence God, triumphing as the Glorious One in His majesty (Ps. 8:2; 18:13 f.), shines forth as a victorious Hero, over His disarmed enemies, sinking into the sleep of death (Jer. 51:39, 57; Nahum 3:18), and unable even to raise a hand any longer for possible resistance (Jos. 8:20; 2 Sam. 7:27), and thunders down, crushing and stupefying them (Isa. 29:6; 30:30) But the use of this figure is not based so much upon the comparison of God to a lion (Kimchi, Venema, and others), although His dwelling-place (Psalm 76:3b) is denoted by the usual word for a lion’s lair (Ps. 104:22; Amos 3:4). The illustration is rather employed because spoiling is an accompaniment of victory, Isa. 49:24 (Hupfeld). The Sept. has “everlasting mountains” (approved by Hitzig), which is based upon another reading. [Hitzig’s opinion is that the original reading was עַד, and that this ambiguous word has been misunderstood and explained by טֶרֶף.—J. F, M.]. They, however, as also Aquila and Symmachus, have taken the מִן=from. If it is taken as the sign of the comparative (as the Targ. and others), then the mountains of prey are to be understood either as the predatory villages of the hostile mountain-tribes or as the high-handed and rapacious, powerful (kings or giants) and wealthy (Isaaki, Delitzsch). Yet there is nothing to recommend the feeble thought that God is more bright and glorious than these, nor the unexpected form of expression employed in the comparison.
Psalm 76:11. The wrath of man praiseth Thee.—This does not mean that those who once contended with God and set themselves in opposition to Him will afterwards praise Him, but that all the raging of men against the will of God, His people and kingdom, must serve, in its own despite, to show forth God’s glory, while then will be made manifest, on the one side, the feebleness and worthlessness of man, and on the other, the majesty and glory of God, especially by the punishment of the guilty and the defence of the righteous. In this almost all expositors agree. But the sense of the other member of the verse is doubtful. Many think that the wrath of man is referred to also here, and understand by the remainder of it, the greatest, utmost (Luther), or the last (Flaminius and others), remaining efforts. God arms Himself to overthrow these, or decks Himself with them as trophies of victory (Venema, Muntinghe, Hupfeld). Or it is viewed as though the wrath of the enemy even to its last effort were to serve God only as a weapon for their destruction (Hengst.). [See the various meanings of חגר.—J. F. M.]. Linguistically it is a more forced interpretation still to understand, the rest of the enraged men, that is, the rest of the wicked, whom God hems about and restrains (Isaaki, Kimchi, Calvin, and others). But if we take girding in the sense of arming (Isa. 51:9; 59:17; Wisdom of Solomon 5:21), which is most appropriate to the context, then it is more natural to understand God’s wrath. And by “the remainder” we would understand the store of wrath not yet exhausted for the completion of the overthrow (Targ., Geier and others), or “that store of inexhaustible fulness of wrath yet remaining with God and now discharging itself, when the rage of men is exhausted and God calmly and derisively (Ps. 2:4) lets the Titans work their will” (Delitzsch). An apt remark in the Midrash (in Delitzsch, 1:579): “Man is controlled by wrath. God controls wrath. He restrains it when He will, and lets it work when He will.” [Dr. Moll therefore renders: With the remainder of wrath Thou girdest Thyself. Perowne follows Hupfeld’s view given above. Alexander prefers that of Hengstenberg.—J. F. M.]
Psalm 76:12. All that are round about Him.—This expression is not in the vocative, as designating the Israelites, Numb. 2:2 (Köster, Hengst.), but, as the accents and the mention of gifts (Ps. 68:30) demand, the subject of the following words, and describes the neighboring heathen nations, which must pay tribute to God the Fear-inspirer (מוֹרָא as in Isa. 8:12), while the Israelites bring to Jehovah, their, God, thank-offerings in fulfilment of their vows (Deut. 23:22). [Hengstenberg: Psalm 76:11 is in accordance with the narrative as given in 2 Chron. 32:23, that the heathen actually did honor God by presents, in consequence of the destruction of the Assyrian army.—J. F. M.]. In Psalm 76:13רוּחַ is certainly not to be understood as boldness, pride (De Wette, Hupfeld); nor scarcely as spirit, breath of life (Hengst.), but as in Judges 8:3; Isa. 25:4; 33:11, as the breathing of wrath (Hitzig), or as snorting (Del.). Nor must we give to the verb the meaning of plundering, robbing (Geier and others), or that of cutting short=reducing (Targ.), but that of cutting off=taking away (Sept., Symm.), as the vine-dresser does to the wild vines, Joel 4:13; Isa. 18:5; Rev. 14:17 ff.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. God has not only set up His dwelling in Zion and made Himself known to His people; He makes Himself appear glorious there by His mighty deeds. By them also He defends His city and people and destroys the plans of their enemies as well as their resources, life and power. Thus He appears at once glorious and dreadful.
2 God needs only to arise to judgment and all the might of the rebellious world recoils upon itself. Therefore have believers every reason to thank God, and the heathen every reason to submit themselves to Him. For none can stand before God’s anger, and the wicked, even in their overthrow, must contribute to His glory.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
God is shown everywhere to be Lord and Master, on fields of battle as well as in spiritual warfare.—All that we know of God results from His making Himself known.—It is better for us to serve the Lord voluntarily than to be compelled to submit ourselves to Him.—Where God dwells, there He lets something of Himself be heard and seen.—God employs His power for deliverance and for judgment.—God is as glorious in the shining of His favor as He is dreadful in the lightning of His wrath.—A single word of God and all the world’s commotion comes to nothing.—How different is God’s wrath and the world’s rage.
STARKE: The greatest honor which a nation or place can have is to possess the knowledge of the true God, and to be able to glory in His gracious presence (Deut. 4:7, 8).—God often employs feeble means when He subdues His foes, that all the world may know that He Himself watches over His own and defends them.—God observes the law of retaliation very strictly. See in the ruin of most tyrants, whether the mode of their death has not been in accordance with their wicked lives. Ex. 14:27; Acts 12:23.—Our best and first gift to God must be our heart (Prov. 23:26). From this there will result of itself a desire to contribute something of our means to advance His kingdom.
OSIANDER: The more tyrants rage against the Church of Christ, the nobler victory does God bring therefrom, when He casts them to the ground, and preserves His Church, even though some of its members are taken to heaven by death and martyrdom.—SELNECKER: These are the three great blessings which God alone affords His Church: 1. That He may be rightly known and invoked in His Church. 2. That He dwells in the midst of His faithful ones as in His temple in presence and power. 3. That He preserves His Church against all the gates of Hell—FRISCH: He who has no judge in the world need not think that he will leave it without one. When all human help ceases and passes away, then the heavenly begins.—The tardiness of God’s judgments is compensated for by their severity. The wounds are therefore the more painful, the help more efficient, desirable, and opportune, the comfort the sweeter, and the praise to God the more delightful.—RIEGER: The whole Psalm insists upon the glorifying of God, that He alone is to be feared. With this in view, therefore, 1. The mercy is praised with which God has brought Himself so nigh to His people. 2. The judgments are praised which God has undertaken for the deliverance of His own. 3. Good instruction is given, how we are to regard all this, and to adore God with faith, hope, and confidence.—THOLUCK: Let there be displayed unmistakably out of heaven the bared arm of God, and the ungodly will be still.—DIEDRICH: As God has in His mercy defended His own against all opposing hosts, they must, in return therefor, surrender themselves entirely to Him, henceforward to wait patiently for Him alone.—SCHAUBACH (25th Sunday after Trinity): In the midst of the universal destruction will the Lord preserve His little band, and His name shall appear above the desolation, and be for all the faithful a rock and mountain of refuge.—TAUBE: The dreadful majesty of the God of Zion as the defence of the distressed in sudden judgments upon their enemies.—We see how a mission-call rings out through all the Lord’s judgments at the present time, and that He who judges the nations out of Salem, shall by these judgments, lead them back to Salem.
[SCOTT: Puny mortals dare madly, through their whole lines, to defy the vengeance of that God one of whose angels in one night destroyed 185,000 men! But if temporal judgments excite such consternation, what will be the case when God shall arise to judgment at the last day?
BARNES: The princes of the earth are under God’s control.—He can defeat their plans.—He can check them when He pleases.—He can and will make their plans—even their wrath—the means of promoting or carrying out His own purposes.—He will allow them to proceed no further in their plans of evil than He can make them submit to the furtherance of His own.—He can cut down the most mighty of them at His pleasure, and destroy them forever.—J. F. M.]
To the chief Musician on Neginoth, A Psalm or Song of Asaph. In Judah is God known: his name is great in Israel.