Psalm 44:12
You sell your people for nothing, and do not increase your wealth by their price.
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(12) For nought.—Literally, for not riches (comp. Jeremiah 15:13); notice the contrast to Psalm 72:14.

And dost not increase thy wealth by their price.—This rendering takes the verb as in Proverbs 22:16; but to make the two places exactly parallel, we should have “dost not increase for thee.” It is better, therefore, to make the clause synonymous with the last, and render thou didst not increase in (the matter of) their price, i.e., thou didst not set a high price on them.

44:9-16 The believer must have times of temptation, affliction, and discouragement; the church must have seasons of persecution. At such times the people of God will be ready to fear that he has cast them off, and that his name and truth will be dishonoured. But they should look above the instruments of their trouble, to God, well knowing that their worst enemies have no power against them, but what is permitted from above.Thou sellest thy people for nought - Margin, without riches. Without gain, or advantage; that is, for no price that would be an equivalent. The people were given up to their enemies, but there was nothing in return that would be of equal value. The loss was in no way made up. They were taken away from their country and their homes. They were withdrawn from useful labor in the land; there was a great diminution of the national strength and of the national wealth; but there was no return to the land, no advantage, no valuable result, that would be an equivalent for thus withdrawing them from their country and their homes. It was as though they had been given away. A case may be supposed where the exile of a part of a people might be an advantage to a land, or where there would be a full equivalent for the loss sustained, as when soldiers go forth to defend their country, and to repel a foe, rendering a higher service than they could by remaining at home; or as when colonists go forth and settle in a new region, producing valuable returns in commerce; or as when missionaries go forth among the pagan, often producing, by a reflex influence, effects on the piety and prosperity of the churches at home, more important, and more widely diffused, than would have been produced by their remaining to labor in their own country.

But no such valuable results occurred here. The idea is that they were lost to their homes; to their country; to the cause of religion. It is not necessary to suppose that the psalmist here means to say that the people had been literally sold into slavery, although it is not in itself improbable that this had occurred. All that the words necessarily imply would be that the effect was as if they were sold into bondage. In Deuteronomy 32:30; Judges 2:14; Judges 3:8; Judges 4:2, Judges 4:9; Judges 10:7, the word used here is employed to express the fact that God delivered his people into the hand of their enemies. Any removal into the territories of the pagan would be a fact corresponding with all that is conveyed by the language used. There call be little doubt, however, that (at the time referred to) those who were made captives in war were literally sold as slaves. This was a common custom. Compare the notes at Isaiah 52:3.

And dost not increase thy wealth by their price - The words "thy wealth" are supplied by the translators; but the idea of the psalmist is undoubtedly expressed with accuracy. The meaning is, that no good result to the cause of religion, no corresponding returns had been the consequence of thus giving up the people into the hand of their enemies. This may however, be rendered, as DeWette translates it, "thou hast not enhanced their price;" that is, God had not set a high price on them, but had sold them for too little, or had given them away for nothing. But the former idea seems better to suit the connection and to convey more exactly the meaning of the original. So it is rendered in the Chaldee, and by Luther.

11. The Babylonian captivity not necessarily meant. There were others (compare 1Ki 8:46). For nought; for a thing of nought. Or, without money, and without price, as it is said, Isaiah 55:1; for a very small, or for no price; for a pair of shoes, as we read, Amos 2:6.

Dost not increase thy wealth by their price; thou hast not advanced thy honour and service thereby; for thy enemies do not serve thee more and better than thy people, nor yet so much. Thou sellest thy people for nought,.... So God, when he is said to deliver up his people into the hands of their enemies, is said to sell them to them; see Judges 2:14; and selling them for nought suggests, that in their apprehensions he had no esteem of them and value for them; just as men, when they have any person or thing to dispose of they have no regard unto, but choose to be rid of, will part with it for nothing: and as it follows,

and dost not increase thy wealth by their price; get nothing by the bargain. This must be understood after the manner of men, and in the opinion of the church, and not as in reality; no otherwise than as it has been true, that God has suffered some of his people to be in the bondage and slavery of mystical Babylon, called Egypt, one part of whose wares and merchandises are slaves and souls of men, Revelation 11:8.

Thou sellest thy people {l} for nought, and dost not increase thy wealth by their price.

(l) As slaves who are sold for a low price, you do not look for him who offers the most, but take the first offer.

12. Thou sellest thy people] Handing them over to their enemies (Deuteronomy 32:30; Jdg 2:14; Isaiah 50:1); and that for nought, as though they were worthless in Thy estimation (Jeremiah 15:13): and hast made no gain by their price; a bold ‘anthropopathy,’ or ascription to God of human motives and feelings, as though the surrender of His people might have seemed more justifiable if He had received some equivalent for them. Comp. the plea in Psalm 30:9.Verse 12. - Thou sellest thy people for nought; literally, for not-wealth (comp. Jeremiah 15:13). The whole people is regarded, not as sold for slaves, but as delivered over to the will of their enemies; and all "for nought," God gaining nothing in exchange. Thou dost not increase thy wealth by their price. A repetition for the sake of emphasis, but adding no new idea. (Heb.: 44:5-9) Out of the retrospective glance at the past, so rich in mercy springs up (Psalm 44:5) the confident prayer concerning the present, based upon the fact of the theocratic relationship which began in the time of the deliverance wrought under Moses (Deuteronomy 33:5). In the substantival clause אתּה הוּא מלכּי, הוּא is neither logical copula nor predicate (as in Psalm 102:28; Deuteronomy 32:39, there equivalent to אתּה הוּא אשׁר, cf. 1 Chronicles 21:17), but an expressive resumption of the subject, as in Isaiah 43:25; Jeremiah 49:12; Nehemiah 9:6., Ezra 5:11, and in the frequently recurring expression יהוה הוא האלהים; it is therefore to be rendered: Thou-He who (such an one) is my King. May He therefore, by virtue of His duty as king which He has voluntarily taken upon Himself, and of the kingly authority and power indwelling in Him, command the salvation of Jacob, full and entire (Psalm 18:51; Psalm 53:7). צוּה as in Psalm 42:9. Jacob is used for Israel just as Elohim is used instead of Jahve. If Elohim, Jacob's King, now turns graciously to His people, they will again be victorious and invincible, as Psalm 44:6 affirms. נגּח with reference to קרן as a figure and emblem of strength, as in Psalm 89:25 and frequently; קמינוּ equivalent to קמים עלינוּ. But only in the strength of God (בּך as in Psalm 18:30); for not in my bow do I trust, etc., Psalm 44:7. This teaching Israel has gathered from the history of the former times; there is no bidding defiance with the bow and sword and all the carnal weapons of attack, but Thou, etc., Psalm 44:8. This "Thou" in הושׁעתּנוּ is the emphatic word; the preterites describe facts of experience belonging to history. It is not Israel's own might that gives them the supremacy, but God's gracious might in Israel's weakness. Elohim is, therefore, Israel's glory or pride: "In Elohim do we praise," i.e., we glory or make our boast in Him; cf. הלּל על, Psalm 10:3. The music here joins in after the manner of a hymn. The Psalm here soars aloft to the more joyous height of praise, from which it now falls abruptly into bitter complaint.
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