Psalm 22:29
All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(29) Shall eat.—The figure of the banquet is resumed from Psalm 22:26, and extended. The mention of the “fat upon earth,” as included in this feast, seems certainly out of place, and injures the parallelism. We must change the text to either (1) “Shall eat and do homage all earth’s mourners,” or (2) “Ah! to him shall be bowed all the fat ones of earth.”

They that go down to the dust—i.e., those on the point to die through their sufferings.

And none can keep.—Better, And he who cannot keep his soul alive. Literally, has not kept. But the parallelism shows that this is not spoken of those actually dead, but of those not able from poverty to keep body and soul together.

Psalm 22:29. All they that be fat upon the earth — It was said, Psalm 22:26, that the meek, the lowly, and poor should eat and be satisfied: it is here foretold, that the fat ones of the earth; the rich and great, the nobles, princes, and kings, should be called in to partake of the feast. And worship — This word is added to show what kind of eating he spoke of, that it is a spiritual eating, a feeding upon the bread of life, a partaking of Christ and his benefits. High and low, rich and poor; all mankind are invited to partake of the gospel-feast. All they that go down to the dust — That is, the whole human race; for none can escape death; shall bow before him — “As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” And none can keep alive his own soul — Can secure or preserve his natural life longer than God is pleased to continue it to him, or can be the author to himself of spiritual and eternal life. It is, therefore, the great interest as well as duty of all to bow before the Lord Jesus; to give themselves up to him to be his subjects and worshippers; for this is the only way, and it is a sure way, to secure happiness when they go down to the dust. Seeing we cannot keep alive our own souls, it is our wisdom, by an obedient faith, to commit our souls to Jesus Christ, who is able to save them, and keep them alive for ever. Observe, reader, all who would partake of the benefits of Christ’s passion, here or hereafter, must worship, confide in, love and obey him as a Saviour and a king, before they are called to bow before and adore him as a judge. But the latter part of this verse is understood differently by some. All that descend into the dust, they suppose to mean all the poor, who, as well as the rich, are called upon, and shall have the privilege to worship him. For none can keep alive his own soul — That is, the greatest, as well as the meanest, must acknowledge that their salvation proceeds from him alone.

22:22-31 The Saviour now speaks as risen from the dead. The first words of the complaint were used by Christ himself upon the cross; the first words of the triumph are expressly applied to him, Heb 2:12. All our praises must refer to the work of redemption. The suffering of the Redeemer was graciously accepted as a full satisfaction for sin. Though it was offered for sinful men, the Father did not despise or abhor it for our sakes. This ought to be the matter of our thanksgiving. All humble, gracious souls should have a full satisfaction and happiness in him. Those that hunger and thirst after righteousness in Christ, shall not labour for that which satisfies not. Those that are much in praying, will be much in thanksgiving. Those that turn to God, will make conscience of worshipping before him. Let every tongue confess that he is Lord. High and low, rich and poor, bond and free, meet in Christ. Seeing we cannot keep alive our own souls, it is our wisdom, by obedient faith, to commit our souls to Christ, who is able to save and keep them alive for ever. A seed shall serve him. God will have a church in the world to the end of time. They shall be accounted to him for a generation; he will be the same to them that he was to those who went before them. His righteousness, and not any of their own, they shall declare to be the foundation of all their hopes, and the fountain of all their joys. Redemption by Christ is the Lord's own doing. Here we see the free love and compassion of God the Father, and of our Lord Jesus Christ, for us wretched sinners, as the source of all grace and consolation; the example we are to follow, the treatment as Christians we are to expect, and the conduct under it we are to adopt. Every lesson may here be learned that can profit the humbled soul. Let those who go about to establish their own righteousness inquire, why the beloved Son of God should thus suffer, if their own doings could atone for sin? Let the ungodly professor consider whether the Saviour thus honoured the Divine law, to purchase him the privilege of despising it. Let the careless take warning to flee from the wrath to come, and the trembling rest their hopes upon this merciful Redeemer. Let the tempted and distressed believer cheerfully expect a happy end of every trial.All they that be fat upon the earth - The general meaning of this verse is, that "all classes of persons" will come and worship the true God; not the poor and needy only, the afflicted, and the oppressed, but the rich and the prosperous. There are three classes mentioned as representing all:

(1) the rich and prosperous;

(2) they who bow down to the dust, or the crushed and the oppressed;

(3) those who are approaching the grave, and have no power to keep themselves alive.

The first class comprises those who are mentioned here as being fat. This image is often used to denote prosperity: Judges 3:29; Job 15:27; Psalm 17:10; Psalm 73:4 (Hebrew); Deuteronomy 31:20; Deuteronomy 32:15. The meaning is, that the rich, the great, the prosperous would be among the multitudes who would be converted to the living God.

Shall eat and worship - This expression is derived from the custom of offering sacrifices, and of feasting upon portions of the animal that was slain. In accordance with this, the blessings of salvation are often represented as a "feast" to which all are invited. See the notes at Isaiah 25:6. Compare Luke 14:16.

All they that go down to the dust - All those descending to the dust. Those who are bowed down to the dust; who are crushed, broken, and oppressed; the poor, the sad, the sorrowful. Salvation is for them, as well as for the rich and the great.

Shall bow before him - Shall worship before the true God.

And none can keep alive his own soul - Or rather, and he who cannot keep his soul (that is, himself) alive. So the Hebrew properly means, and this accords better with the connection. The class here represented is composed of those who are ready to perish, who are about to die - the aged - the infirm - the sick - the dying. These, thus helpless, feeble, and sad, shall also become interested in the great plan of salvation, and shall turn unto the Lord. These classes would represent all the dwellers on the earth; and the affirmation is equivalent to a statement that men of all classes would be converted, and would partake of the blessings of salvation.

27-31. His case illustrates God's righteous government. Beyond the existing time and people, others shall be brought to acknowledge and worship God; the fat ones, or the rich as well as the poor, the helpless who cannot keep themselves alive, shall together unite in celebrating God's delivering power, and transmit to unborn people the records of His grace. All, i.e. many of them, as the word all is oft used, as Psalm 72:11 Matthew 3:5 17:11 Luke 6:26 John 3:26 2 Timothy 3:9.

They that be fat upon earth, i.e. kings and princes, and the great men of the world, who are oft described by this metaphor, as Psalm 78:31 Isaiah 10:16; compare Job 15:27 Psalm 17:10 73:7; whose conversion to Christ is also foretold in other places, as Psalm 45:12 72:10,11 Isa 60:3,5,10 1 Timothy 2:1,2 Kings 21:24. These are opposed to the poor and miserable part of the world, of whom he speaks in the next words, as also Psalm 22:26, where see the first note. So the sense of the place is, that both poor and rich should embrace the gospel. But the Syriac interpreter renders these words otherwise, the hungry of the earth. And another, to the same purpose, those that are turned to ashes (for which I should rather say, they that lie down in ashes, which is a usual description of poor, afflicted, and humbled persons) on the ground; for the first Hebrew word, rendered fat, with the change but of one point, signifies ashes.

Shall eat, and be satisfied, as it was more fully expressed, Psalm 22:26; shall feed upon the Bread of life, Christ and all his benefits.

And worship: this is added to explain the word, and to show what kind of eating he spoke of not of a carnal, but of a spiritual feast.

They that go down to the dust; they that languish and draw nigh to death, through poverty, or misery, or anguish of mind and conscience; for such are oft said to go down into or to sit in the dust, as Job 30:19 Psalm 44:25 113:7 Isaiah 29:4 47:1. These may be opposed to the fat ones mentioned in the first clause of the verse. None can keep alive his own soul: this may seem to be a further description of the same persons, and an aggravation of their miserable condition, from this circumstance, that it was not in their power to help themselves; their soul was going down to the dust, as he said in the last foregoing clause, and now he adds that none of them could stop it, or keep himself alive; so that their case was wholly desperate as to themselves; and this drove them out of themselves to seek relief from God, and to receive Jesus Christ and the gospel of salvation gladly. Heb. and he who (the pronoun relative being here understood, as it is in very many places) doth not or cannot quicken or enliven his own soul, i.e. himself, as the soul is oft taken; and quickening may be put either for nourishing, as Isaiah 7:21, or for comforting, as here, Psalm 22:26, or preserving life, whether temporal or spiritual and eternal, as Genesis 19:19 Ezekiel 13:19 18:27. But these words are and may be rendered otherwise, and that very agreeably to the Hebrew text, and the scope of the place. Having said that all nations should

bow before him, i.e. before Christ and unto Christ, whom they should own as their Lord and Saviour, he now adds these words, either,

1. As a reason why they did receive him, or believe in him, because (for so the particle vau is frequently rendered, as 1 Kings 1:21 18:3,4 Psa 60:12 Isaiah 16:2 64:5, and oft elsewhere) he did not keep alive his own soul, as he could easily have done, by his Divine power, in spite of all that his enemies could do, but freely gave himself to death for them. Because he laid down his life for sinners, which the Father had commanded him, and he had promised to do, therefore God loved him, John 10:17,18, and glorified him, and performed his promise made to him upon that condition, that if he did make his soul an offering for sin, he should see his seed, &c., Isaiah 53:10. Or,

2. As an amplification or commendation of the faith of the Gentiles in coming and bowing to Christ, although (for so also the Hebrew vau is often used, as Psalm 99:8 Proverbs 26:24 Ecclesiastes 9:16) he did not keep alive his own soul, but laid down his own life, and suffered himself to be killed by wicked men; which was one principal reason why the Jews would not believe on him, as is noted, Matthew 27:40,42,43, and therefore was a just commendation to the Gentiles, that, notwithstanding this great stumbling-block, believed on him. But this I propose with submission. Only it may be observed that this last clause of the verse in the Hebrew is in the singular number, and therefore more likely to belong to him, immediately going before it, which is of the same number, than to the other preceding clauses, which are all expressed in the plural number. And though I know enallage of numbers be very usual, yet they are not to be supposed without necessity.

All they that be fat upon earth,.... Rich men, who abound in worldly substance, are in very flourishing and prosperous circumstances, of whom for the most part this is literally true; yea, by these sometimes are meant princes, rulers, the chief among the people in power and authority, as well as in riches; see Psalm 78:31; the phrase may design such who are in prosperous circumstances in their souls, in spiritual things, in faith, comfort, and spiritual joy, Psalm 92:14; but the former sense is best: Jarchi inverts the words, "they shall eat", that is, the meek shall eat, "all the fat of the earth, and worship"; which may be understood of the spiritual blessings of grace, which converted persons shall feed and live upon, Psalm 63:5; the allusion may be to the fat parts of the earth, and what grows thereon, made so by ashes, which the word used has the signification of; for some lands are fattened by ashes being strewed upon them (p); but rather the rich and great men of the earth are intended, who yet are but dust and ashes. They

shall eat, and worship; for as, in the first times of the Gospel, not many mighty and noble were called, yet some were; so more especially, in the latter day, many of this sort will be called, even kings and queens; who will not live upon their titles of honour, their grandeur and glory, but upon Christ and his Gospel, and will fall down before him, and serve and worship him; see Psalm 72:10;

all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him; such as are in mean circumstances of life; so that both rich and poor shall serve him; or who are mean in their own eyes, sit in the dust of self-abhorrence, and put their mouths in the dust, are in a low condition, out of which the Lord raises them, Psalm 113:7. The Targum paraphrases it, "who go down to the house of the grave"; that is, the dead; and then the sense is, that Christ is the Lord, both of the dead and living, and that those that are under the earth, and are reduced to dust, as well as they that live and are fat upon it, shall bow the knee to Christ, when raised again, who is the Judge of quick and dead; see Romans 14:9, Philippians 2:10;

and none can keep alive his own soul; as no man can quicken himself when dead in trespasses and sins; so when he is made alive, he cannot preserve his life, nor nourish himself, nor make himself lively and comfortable, nor cause his heart to live, as in Psalm 22:26; but by eating the flesh, and drinking the blood of Christ, feeding and living upon him by faith: though some take the sense to be, that such as are before described as converted persons, will not seek to save their lives, but will freely lay them down and part with them for Christ's sake; but rather the meaning is, that so universal will the kingdom of Christ be, as that high and low, rich and poor, will be bowing to him; whoever are his enemies, and will not have him to rule over them, will be brought before him and slain, and none of them will be able to save themselves; so the Targum, "he will not quicken", or "keep alive, the soul of the wicked"; or as Jarchi interprets it,

"he will have no mercy on them, to keep their souls alive from hell.''

(p) "Effoetos cinerem immundum jactare per agros", Virgil. Georgic. l. 1. v. 79.

All they that be fat {r} upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: {s} and none can keep alive his own soul.

(r) Though the poor are first named as in Ps 22:26 yet the wealthy are not separated from the grace of Christ's kingdom.

(s) In whom there is no hope that he will recover life: so neither poor nor rich, quick nor dead will be rejected from his kingdom.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
29. A most obscure verse. The first line (according to the present text) may be rendered literally,

All earth’s fat ones have eaten and worshipped.

The tense is a ‘prophetic perfect’; with the eye of faith the Psalmist sees homage already paid to Jehovah even by the haughty nobles of the earth. They abandon their proud self-sufficiency, and join in the eucharistic meal with the meek (Psalm 22:26), whom once they despised and persecuted. Then he continues

Before him bow all that were going down to the dust,

Yea he who could not keep his soul alive.

Those who were on the edge of the grave, ready to die from want and misery and trouble, come as guests and gain new life. Rich and poor, strong and weak, alike partake of the feast: for it the rich desert their wealth; in it the poor receive the compensation of their privations; and those who were ready to die find life. Cp. Isaiah 25:6-8.

This seems to be the best explanation of the text as it stands; but it is open to serious objections. The reference to the sacrificial meal is very abrupt; the sense given to ‘those that go down to the dust’ is questionable; and the last line drags heavily at the end of the verse.

Others suppose that the contrast intended is not between rich and poor, but between the living and the dead. ‘Earth’s fat ones’ are those in the full vigour of life: eat means simply ‘enjoy life’: all they that have gone down into the dust are the dead. Quick and dead bow in homage before the universal sovereign. Cp. Php 2:10. Attractive as this explanation is, the idea is foreign to the O.T. See Psalm 115:17; Isaiah 38:18; and Introd. p. xxvff.,

But the text is not improbably corrupt. An easy emendation, adopted by several critics, simplifies the first line thus:

Surely him shall all earth’s fat ones worship,

and the second line repeats the thought,

Before him shall bow all they that must go down to the dust.

Earth’s mightiest are but mortals and must yield their homage to the King of kings. Then the last line should be joined to the next verse thus:

And as for him that could not keep his soul alive,

His seed shall serve Him.

The Psalmist and those who like him were at the point of death will leave a posterity behind them to serve Jehovah. The reading indicated by the LXX, But my soul liveth unto him, my seed shall serve him, suits the context less well.

Verse 29. - All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship. The Christian feast is not for the poor and needy only, like Jewish sacrificial feasts, but for the "fat ones" of the earth as well - the rich and prosperous. As Hengstenberg observes, "This great spiritual feast is not unworthy of the presence even of those who live in the greatest abundance: it contains a costly viand, which all their plenty cannot give - a viand for which even the satisfied are hungry; and, on the other hand, the most needy and most miserable are not excluded" ('Commentary on the Psalms,' vol. 1. p. 396). All they that go down to the dust shall bow before him; i.e. all mortal men what-soever - all that are on their way to the tomb - shall bow before Christ, either willingly as his worshippers, or unwillingly as his conquered enemies, made to lick the dust at his feet. And none can keep alive his own soul. Life is Christ's gift; the soul cannot be kept alive except through him, by his quickening Spirit (John 6:53, 63). Psalm 22:29The eating is here again brought to mind. The perfect, אכלוּ, and the future of sequence, ויּשׁתּחווּ, stand to one another in the relation of cause and effect. It is, as is clear from Psalm 22:27, an eating that satisfies the soul, a spiritual meal, that is intended, and in fact, one that is brought about by the mighty act of rescue God has wrought. At the close of Psalm 69, where the form of the ritual thank-offering is straightway ignored, ראוּ (Psalm 22:23) takes the place of the אכלוּ. There it is the view of one who is rescued and who thankfully glorifies God, which leads to others sharing with him in the enjoyment of the salvation he has experienced; here it is an actual enjoyment of it, the joy, springing from thankfulness, manifesting itself not merely in words but in a thank-offering feast, at which, in Israel, those who long for salvation are the invited guests, for with them it is an acknowledgment of the mighty act of a God whom they already know; but among the heathen, men of the most diversified conditions, the richest and the poorest, for to them it is a favour unexpectedly brought to them, and which is all the more gratefully embraced by them on that account. So magnificent shall be the feast, that all דּשׁני־ארץ, i.e., those who stand out prominently before the world and before their own countrymen by reason of the abundance of their temporal possessions (compare on the ascensive use of ארץ, Psalm 75:9; Psalm 76:10; Isaiah 23:9), choose it before this abundance, in which they might revel, and, on account of the grace and glory which the celebration includes within itself, they bow down and worship. In antithesis to the "fat ones of the earth" stand those who go down to the dust (עפר, always used in this formula of the dust of the grave, like the Arabic turâb) by reason of poverty and care. In the place of the participle יורדי we now have with ונפשׁו ( equals ואשׁר נפשׁו) a clause with ולא, which has the value of a relative clause (as in Psalm 49:21; Psalm 78:39, Proverbs 9:13, and frequently): and they who have not heretofore prolonged and could not prolong their life (Ges. 123, 3, c). By comparing Philippians 2:10 Hupfeld understands it to be those who are actually dead; so that it would mean, His kingdom extends to the living and the dead, to this world and the nether world. But any idea of a thankful adoration of God on the part of the dwellers in Hades is alien to the Old Testament; and there is nothing to force us to it here, since יורד עפר, can just as well mean descensuri as qui descenderunt, and נפשׁו dna ,tnuredne חיּה (also in Ezekiel 18:27) means to preserve his own life, - a phrase which can be used in the sense of vitam sustentare and of conservare with equal propriety. It is, therefore, those who are almost dead already with care and want, these also (and how thankfully do these very ones) go down upon their knees, because they are accounted worthy to be guests at this table. It is the same great feast, of which Isaiah, Isaiah 25:6, prophesies, and which he there accompanies with the music of his words. And the result of this evangel of the mighty act of rescue is not only of boundless universality, but also of unlimited duration: it propagates itself from one generation to another.

Formerly we interpreted Psalm 22:31 "a seed, which shall serve Him, shall be reckoned to the Lord for a generation;" taking יספּר as a metaphor applying to the census, 2 Chronicles 2:16, cf. Psalm 87:6, and לדּור, according to Psalm 24:6 and other passages, as used of a totality of one kind, as זרע of the whole body of those of the same race. But the connection makes it more natural to take דור in a genealogical sense; and, moreover, with the former interpretation it ought to have been לדּור instead of לדּור. We must therefore retain the customary interpretation: "a seed (posterity) shall serve Him, it shall be told concerning the Lord to the generation (to come)." Decisive in favour of this interpretation is לדּור with the following יבאוּ, by which דור acquires the meaning of the future generation, exactly as in Psalm 71:18, inasmuch as it at once becomes clear, that three generations are distinctly mentioned, viz., that of the fathers who turn unto Jahve, Psalm 22:30, that of the coming דור, Psalm 22:31, and עם נולד, to whom the news of the salvation is propagated by this דור, Psalm 22:31 : "They shall come (בּוא as in Psalm 71:18 : to come into being), and shall declare His righteousness to the people that shall be born, that He hath finished." Accordingly זרע is the principal notion, which divides itself into (יבאו) דור and עם נולד; from which it is at once clear, why the expression could be thus general, "a posterity," inasmuch as it is defined by what follows. עם נולד is the people which shall be born, or whose birth is near at hand (Psalm 78:6); the lxx well renders it: λαῷ τῷ τεχθησομένῳ (cf. Psalm 102:19 עם נברא populus creandus). צדקתו is the dikaiosu'nee of God, which has become manifest in the rescue of the great sufferer. That He did not suffer him to come down to the very border of death without snatching him out of the way of his murderous foes and raising him to a still greater glory, this was divine צדקה. That He did not snatch him out of the way of his murderous foes without suffering him to be on the point of death - even this wrathful phase of the divine צדקה, is indicated in Psalm 22:16, but then only very remotely. For the fact, that the Servant of God, before spreading the feast accompanying the shelamim (thank-offering) in which He makes the whole world participants in the fruit of His suffering, offered Himself as an asham (sin-offering), does not become a subject of prophetic revelation until later on, and then under other typical relationships. The nature of the עשׂה, which is in accordance with the determinate counsel of God, is only gradually disclosed in the Old Testament. This one word, so full of meaning (as in Psalm 52:11; Psalm 37:5; Isaiah 44:23), implying the carrying through of the work of redemption, which is prefigured in David, comprehends everything within itself. It may be compared to the לעשׂות, Genesis 2:3, at the close of the history of the creation. It is the last word of the Psalm, just as τετέλεσται is the last word of the Crucified One. The substance of the gospel in its preparatory history and its fulfilment, of the declaration concerning God which passes from generation to generation, is this, that God has accomplished what He planned when He anointed the son of Jesse and the Son of David as mediator in His work of redemption; that He accomplished it by leading the former through affliction to the throne, and making the cross to the latter a ladder leading up to heaven.

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