Psalm 44:19
Though thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death.
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(19) In the place of dragons.—This expression evidently means a wild desert place, from comparison with Jeremiah 9:11; Jeremiah 10:22; Jeremiah 49:33. So Aquila has “an uninhabitable place.” The rendering dragons for tannim arose from its resemblance to tannîn (sea monster). The tan must be a wild beast, since it is connected with ostriches (Isaiah 34:13) and wild asses, whom it resembles in snuffing up the wind (Jeremiah 14:6), and is described as uttering a mournful howl (Isaiah 43:20; Micah 1:8; Job 30:29). The jackal is the animal that best answers these requirements. The LXX. and Vulg., which give various different renderings for the word, have here, “in the place of affliction.”

Shadow of death.—See Note, Psalm 23:4.

Psalm 44:19-21. Thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons — By inflicting upon us one breach after another, thou hast at last brought us to this pass; that we are become like a place extremely desolate, such as dragons love, (Isaiah 13:21-22,) and therefore full of horror and danger; and covered us with the shadow of death — With deadly horrors and miseries. If we have forgotten the name of God — That is, God himself, or his worship and service; or stretched out our hands to strange gods — In the way of prayer or adoration. Shall not God search this out? — We appeal to the heart-searching God, concerning the sincerity of this our profession.

44:17-26 In afflictions, we must not seek relief by any sinful compliance; but should continually meditate on the truth, purity, and knowledge of our heart-searching God. Hearts sins and secret sins are known to God, and must be reckoned for. He knows the secret of the heart, therefore judges of the words and actions. While our troubles do not drive us from our duty to God, we should not suffer them to drive us from our comfort in God. Let us take care that prosperity and ease do not render us careless and lukewarm. The church of God cannot be prevailed on by persecution to forget God; the believer's heart does not turn back from God. The Spirit of prophecy had reference to those who suffered unto death, for the testimony of Christ. Observe the pleas used, ver. 25,26. Not their own merit and righteousness, but the poor sinner's pleas. None that belong to Christ shall be cast off, but every one of them shall be saved, and that for ever. The mercy of God, purchased, promised, and constantly flowing forth, and offered to believers, does away every doubt arising from our sins; while we pray in faith, Redeem us for thy mercies' sake.Though thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons - Or rather, "That thou hast crushed us in the place of dragons." The connection is continued from the previous verse: "Our heart is not so turned back, nor have our steps so declined from thy path, that thou shouldst crush us in the place of dragons." That is, we have been guilty of no such apostasy and infidelity as to account for the fact that thou hast dealt with us in this manner, or make it necessary and proper that we should thus be crushed and overthrown The word rendered "dragons" - תנין tannı̂yn - means either a great fish; a sea monster; a serpent; a dragon; or a crocodile. See the notes at Isaiah 13:22. It may also mean a jackal, a fox, or a wolf. DeWette renders it here, jackals. The idea in the passage is essentially the same, whichever interpretation of the word is adopted. The "place of dragons" would denote the place where such monsters are found, or where they had their abode; that is to say, in desolate places; wastes; deserts; old ruins; depopulated towns. See the notes, as above, at Isaiah 13:19-22; compare Jeremiah 9:11. The meaning here would be, therefore, that they had been vanquished; that their cities and towns had been reduced to ruins; that their land had been laid waste; that the place where they had been "sore broken" was in fact a fit abode for wild beasts and monsters.

And covered us with the shadow of death - Our land has been covered with a dark and dismal shade, as if Death had cast his image or shadow over it. See Job 3:5, note; and Psalm 23:4, note. There could be no more striking illustration of calamity and ruin.

19. sore broken—crushed.

place of dragons—desolate, barren, rocky wilderness (Ps 63:10; Isa 13:22),

shadow of death—(Compare Ps 23:4).

No text from Poole on this verse.

Though thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons,.... Where men, comparable to dragons or their poison and cruelty, dwell; particularly in Rome, and the Roman jurisdiction, both Pagan and Papal, the seat of Satan the great red dragon, and of his wretched brood and offspring, the beast, to whom he has given his power; here the saints and followers of Christ have been sorely afflicted and persecuted, and yet have held fast the name of Christ, and not denied his faith; see Revelation 2:13; the wilderness is the habitation of dragons; and this is the name of the place where the church is said to be in the times of the Papacy, and where she is fed and preserved for a time, and times, and half a time, Revelation 12:6;

and covered us with the shadow of death; as the former phrase denotes the cruelty of the enemies of Christ's church and people, this their dismal afflictions and forlorn state and condition; see Psalm 23:4, Isaiah 9:2; and may have some respect to the darkness of Popery, when it was at the height, and the church of Christ was covered with it, there being very little appearances and breakings forth of Gospel light any where. According to Arama, the "place of dragons" denotes the captivity of Egypt, which is the great dragon; and the "shadow of death", he says, was a name of Egypt in ancient times, as say the Rabbins; and observes that Psalm 44:25 explains this; see Genesis 3:14.

Though thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death.
19. Though &c.] Comp. the vigorous paraphrase of P.B.V.; No, not when thou hast smitten us &c. But it is better to render

That thou shouldest have crushed us into a haunt of jackals.

The Psalmist’s argument is that there has been no national apostasy for which their present disasters would be a just punishment. A haunt of jackals is a proverbial expression for a scene of ruin and desolation, a waste, howling wilderness, tenanted only by wild beasts (Isaiah 13:22; Isaiah 34:13; Jeremiah 9:11; Jeremiah 10:22). Some commentators (on the hypothesis of the Maccabaean date) see a reference to the butchery of the Jews who had fled into the wilderness to escape from the persecution of Antiochus (1Ma 2:27-38). But more probably the phrase is a condensed expression, meaning ‘crushed us and reduced our country to a desert.’ There is some doubt however about the reading. The Sept. has, ‘humbled us in a place of affliction.’

the shadow of death] The word tsalmâveth is rendered thus in the Ancient Versions, and the present vocalisation assumes that this is the meaning. But compounds are rare in Hebrew except in proper names, and there are good grounds for supposing that the word is derived from a different root and should be read tsalmûth, and rendered deep gloom. It is however not improbable that the pronunciation of the word was altered at an early date in accordance with a popular etymology.

Verse 19. - Though thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons; rather, in the place of jackals; i.e. in wild and desolate regions, where jackals abound (comp. Isaiah 13:22; Isaiah 34:13). The expression is probably used metaphorically. And covered us with the shadow of death. Brought us, i.e., into imminent peril of destruction (see vers. 10, 11). Psalm 44:19(Heb.: 44:18-22) If Israel compares its conduct towards God with this its lot, it cannot possibly regard it as a punishment that it has justly incurred. Construed with the accusative, בּוא signifies, as in Psalm 35:8; Psalm 36:12, to come upon one, and more especially of an evil lot and of powers that are hostile. שׁקּר, to lie or deceive, with בּ of the object on whom the deception or treachery is practised, as in Psalm 89:34. In Psalm 44:19 אשּׁוּר is construed as fem., exactly as in Job 31:8; the fut. consec. is also intended as such (as e.g., in Job 3:10; Numbers 16:14): that our step should have declined from, etc.; inward apostasy is followed by outward wandering and downfall. This is therefore not one of the many instances in which the לא of one clause also has influence over the clause that follows (Ges. 152, 3). כּי, Psalm 44:20, has the sense of quod: we have not revolted against Thee, that Thou shouldest on that account have done to us the thing which is now befallen us. Concerning תּנּיּם vid., Isaiah 13:22. A "place of jackals" is, like a habitation of dragons (Jeremiah 10:22), the most lonesome and terrible wilderness; the place chosen was, according to this, an inhospitable מדבר, far removed from the dwellings of men. כּסּה is construed with על of the person covered, and with בּ of that with which (1 Samuel 19:13) he is covered: Thou coveredst us over with deepest darkness (vid., Psalm 23:4). אם, Psalm 44:21, is not that of asseveration (verily we have not forgotten), but, as the interrogatory apodosis Psalm 44:22 shows, conditional: if we have ( equals should have) forgotten. This would not remain hidden from Him who knoweth the heart, for the secrets of men's hearts are known to Him. Both the form and matter here again strongly remind one of Job 31, more especially Job 31:4; cf. also on תּעלמות, Job 11:6; Job 28:11.
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