Psalm 33:19
To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
33:12-22 All the motions and operations of the souls of men, which no mortals know but themselves, God knows better than they do. Their hearts, as well as their times, are all in his hand; he formed the spirit of each man within him. All the powers of the creature depend upon him, and are of no account, of no avail at all, without him. If we make God's favour sure towards us, then we need not fear whatever is against us. We are to give to him the glory of his special grace. All human devices for the salvation of our souls are vain; but the Lord's watchful eye is over those whose conscientious fear of his name proceeds from a believing hope in his mercy. In difficulties they shall be helped; in dangers they shall not receive any real damage. Those that fear God and his wrath, must hope in God and his mercy; for there is no flying from him, but by flying to him. Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us; let us always have the comfort and benefit, not according to our merits, but according to the promise which thou hast in thy word given to us, and according to the faith thou hast by thy Spirit and grace wrought in us.To deliver their soul from death - To preserve their "lives," - for so the word "soul" is to be understood here. The meaning is, to keep them alive. That is, God is their Protector; He guards and defends them when in danger.

And to keep them alive in famine - In times of want. Compare Job 5:20. He can provide for them when the harvests fail. Famine was one of the evils to which the inhabitants of Palestine, and of Oriental countries generally, were particularly exposed, and it is often referred to in the Scriptures.

18, 19. Contrasted is God's guidance and power to save from the greatest earthly evil and its most painful precursor, and hence from all. Their soul, i.e. their life, when he sees it to be expedient for them: sometimes it is better for them to die than to live, as both good and bad men have declared; and when it is so, it is known to God, but not to us. And therefore the constant accomplishment of this and the like promises in a literal sense is not to be expected, nor simply desired, but with submission to God’s wise and gracious will. To deliver their soul from death,.... Not a corporeal death, for the soul dies not, and is never in any danger of death; and should life, or the whole man, be intended here, yet those that fear the Lord, and hope in his mercy, are not exempted and secured from a corporeal death, but die as other men; though sometimes indeed they are remarkably preserved from death, and even in a time of general calamity; but a spiritual death is meant, which, while in a state of nature, they are under; but, being quickened at conversion, they live spiritually, and are preserved from dying any more in this sense; and also from an eternal death, which shall never harm them, nor have any power over them;

and to keep them alive in famine; not corporeal, though the Lord does give meat to them that fear him, and sometimes in a miraculous way provides for them; as by sending ravens to feed them, and by increasing the cruse of oil; see Isaiah 41:17; but spiritual, a famine of hearing the word of the Lord; the Lord prepares a place for his church and people in the wilderness, where they are privately nourished with the word and ordinances, and their souls kept alive, Revelation 12:6.

To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
19. death] Violent death by war or pestilence is meant, as the parallel line shews. Famine was a common scourge in Palestine (Psalm 37:19).Verse 19. - To deliver their soul from death. The protection and deliverance, which a man's own strength cannot give, which no host, however numerous, can afford (ver. 16), which are not to be obtained from the largest chariot or cavalry force (ver. 17), can he and will be furnished freely by God, who alone keeps souls from death, and "delivers" those who are in peril. And to keep them alive in famine. Famine was a calamity from which Palestine often suffered (see Genesis 12:10; Genesis 26:1; Genesis 42:5; Ruth 1:1; 2 Samuel 21:1; 1 Kings 18:5; 2 Kings 8:1, etc.). The righteous were sometimes "kept alive" through a time of famine by miraculous means (1 Kings 17:6, 16). Hence the call to praise God is supported (2) by a setting forth of that which His people possess in Him. This portion of the song is like a paraphrase of the אשׁרי in Deuteronomy 33:29. The theme in Psalm 33:12 is proved in Psalm 33:13 by the fact, that Jahve is the omniscient Ruler, because He is the Creator of men, without whose knowledge nothing is undertaken either secretly or openly, and especially if against His people. Then in Psalm 33:16 it is supported by the fact, that His people have in Jahve a stronger defence than the greatest worldly power would be. Jahve is called the fashioner of all the hearts of men, as in Zechariah 12:1, cf. Proverbs 24:12, as being their Maker. As such He is also the observer of all the works of men; for His is acquainted with their origin in the laboratory of the heart, which He as Creator has formed. Hupfeld takes יחד as an equalisation (pariter ac) of the two appositions; but then it ought to be וּמבין (cf. Psalm 49:3, Psalm 49:11). The lxx correctly renders it καταμόνας, singillatim. It is also needless to translate it, as Hupfeld does: He who formed, qui finxit; for the hearts of men were not from the very first created all at one time, but the primeval impartation of spirit-life is continued at every birth in some mysterious way. God is the Father of spirits, Hebrews 12:9. For this very reason everything that exists, even to the most hidden thing, is encompassed by His omniscience and omnipotence. He exercises an omniscient control over all things, and makes all things subservient to the designs of His plan of the universe, which, so far as His people are concerned, is the plan of salvation. Without Him nothing comes to pass; but through Him everything takes place. The victory of the king, and the safety of the warrior, are not their own works. Their great military power and bodily strength can accomplish nothing without God, who can also be mighty in the feeble. Even for purposes of victory (תּשׁוּעה, cf. ישׁוּעה, Psalm 21:2) the war-horse is שׁקר, i.e., a thing that promises much, but can in reality do nothing; it is not its great strength, by which it enables the trooper to escape (ימלּט). "The horse," says Solomon in Proverbs 21:31, "is equipped for the day of battle, but התּשׁוּעה לה, Jahve's is the victory," He giveth it to whomsoever He will. The ultimate ends of all things that come to pass are in His hands, and - as Psalm 33:18. say, directing special attention to this important truth by הנּה - the eye of this God, that is to say the final aim of His government of the world, is directed towards them that fear Him, is pointed at them that hope in His mercy (למיחלים). In Psalm 33:19, the object, לחסדּו, is expanded by way of example. From His mercy or loving-kindness, not from any acts of their own, conscious of their limited condition and feebleness, they look for protection in the midst of the greatest peril, and for the preservation of their life in famine. Psalm 20:8 is very similar; but the one passage sounds as independent as the other.
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