Psalm 44:2
How you did drive out the heathen with your hand, and planted them; how you did afflict the people, and cast them out.
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(2) Thou . . . with thy hand.—Literally, Thou, Thy hand, which may be, as in the Authorised Version, taken as accusative of instrument, or as a repeated subject.

And cast them out.—This entirely misses the meaning and destroys the parallelism. The Hebrew word is that used for a treo spreading its branches out; comp. Jeremiah 17:8; Ezekiel 17:6; Ezekiel 31:5, and especially Psalm 80:11, a passage which is simply an amplification of the figure in this verse, viz., of a vine or other exotic, planted in a soil cleared for its reception, and there caused to grow and flourish. The pronoun them in each clause plainly refers to Israel.

Thou, with thine hand, didst dispossess the heathen,

And planted them (Israel) in.

Thou didst afflict the peoples.

But didst make them to spread.

Psalm 44:2-3. How thou didst drive out the heathen, &c. — The seven nations of the Canaanites out of Canaan, and settled in their stead thy people Israel, whom thou didst transplant thither from Egypt. Didst afflict the people — The heathen; and cast them out. They got not the land, &c., by their own sword — That is, by their arms or valour. But thy right hand, &c., and the light of thy countenance — Thy favour, as the next words explain it; thy gracious and glorious presence, which went along with them. The many complete victories which Israel obtained over the Canaanites, under the command of Joshua, were not to be attributed to themselves; nor could they claim the glory of them. They were neither owing to their own merit nor their own light, but to God’s favour and power engaged for them; without which all their own efforts and endeavours would have been fruitless.44:1-8 Former experiences of God's power and goodness are strong supports to faith, and powerful pleas in prayer under present calamities. The many victories Israel obtained, were not by their own strength or merit, but by God's favour and free grace. The less praise this allows us, the more comfort it affords, that we may see all as coming from the favour of God. He fought for Israel, else they had fought in vain. This is applicable to the planting of the Christian church in the world, which was not by any human policy or power. Christ, by his Spirit, went forth conquering and to conquer; and he that planted a church for himself in the world, will support it by the same power and goodness. They trusted and triumphed in and through him. Let him that glories, glory in the Lord. But if they have the comfort of his name, let them give unto him the glory due unto it.How thou didst drive out the heathen with thy hand - The word rendered "heathen" means simply nations without necessarily conveying the idea of paganism, as that word is now understood. It means the nations, to wit, of the land of Canaan, or the Canaanites; and as these nations were in fact idolaters, or strangers to the true religion, the word came in time to have that idea attached to it. It is in that sense that we use the term now, though the word nations would accurately express the meaning of the original. The word rendered "drive out" - ירשׁ yârash - means properly to take, seize, or take possession of; and then, in the form here used (Hiphil), it means to cause to possess; to give possession of; and then, to take possession of, to drive out of a possession, to dispossess, to disinherit. The meaning here is, he dispossessed them of their country; he disinherited them. This, the psalmist says, God had done "by his hand;" that is, it was by his own power.

And plantedst them - That is, planted his people - the children of Israel. He put them in the place of those whom he had disinherited or dispossessed. The word is properly applicable to a tree, but it is also used with reference to a nation, and means that he assigned them a fixed and permanent residence. Thus we say in English, "to plant a colony." Compare Amos 9:15; Jeremiah 24:6; Jeremiah 32:41; Psalm 80:8; 2 Samuel 7:10.

How thou didst afflict the people - That is, the people of the land of Canaan; the nations that dwelt there. The word means to bring evil or calamity upon anyone.

And cast them out - The word used here may be taken in the sense of sending out or expelling, as in Genesis 3:23; 1 Kings 9:7 - and then it would be applicable to the Canaanites, as meaning that God had expelled or driven them out - as it is understood by our translators; or it may be used to denote the sending out of shoots or branches by a tree or vine, as in Psalm 80:11; Jeremiah 17:8; Ezekiel 17:6-7 - and then it would refer here to the Israelites, and would mean that God caused them to increase; multiplied them; spread them over the land, as a vine spreads, Psalm 80:8-11. The parallelism here clearly demands the latter interpretation. So it is understood by Luther, DeWette, Tholuck, and Prof. Alexander.

2. plantedst them—that is, "our fathers," who are also, from the parallel construction of the last clause, to be regarded as the object of "cast them out," which means—literally, "send" them out, or, "extend them." Heathen and people denote the nations who were driven out to make room for the Israelites. The heathen; the Canaanites.

Plantedst them, to wit, our fathers, easily understood both from the matter, and from Psalm 44:1, where they are expressed; the pronoun being referred unto the remoter antecedent, as it is Genesis 10:12 19:13 Psalm 18:5, and oft elsewhere.

Cast them out: so them must be the people, or heathens. But because the comparing of this branch of the verse with the former, plantedst them, to which this answers, and with the following they, makes it more than probable that this them belongs to the fathers, this is to be otherwise rendered; either,

1. Thus, send them out, to wit, free or manumitted out of Egypt, of which this same verb is used, Exodus 5:1 12:33. And then the foregoing people are the Egyptians, not the Canaanites; which yet seems not to agree with the foregoing and following passages both which speak of the Canaanites only; nor with the order of the words in this verse, it being improper to mention their coming out of Egypt, after their being planted in Canaan. Or rather,

2. Thus, make them send or shoot forth, to wit, branches, as it is more fully expressed, Psalm 80:11 Ezekiel 17:6, where this verb is used. And this most naturally and properly follows upon and after their planting mentioned in the former clause. How thou didst drive out the Heathen with thy hand,.... Of power; that is, the Canaanites, as the Targum; the seven nations which inhabited the land of Canaan before the children of Israel came into it, Deuteronomy 7:1;

and plantedst them: not the Canaanites elsewhere; but, as the same Targum explains it the house of Israel in their land; which, like a vine, was removed from one place, and planted in another; and the settlement of the children of Israel in the land of Canaan is frequently expressed by this metaphor, Exodus 15:17, Jeremiah 2:21;

how thou didst afflict the people; the Egyptians, according to Arama; rather the Canaanitish nations by wars and desolating judgments;

and cast them out; that is, the same nations out of their land; though some render this clause, "and didst send them out"; the captive Israelites, as Arama; or "didst propagate them" (q); meaning the people of Israel; who being like a vine planted in the and, sent out its boughs and branches, and became very flourishing and fruitful; see Psalm 80:9; and so the Syriac version renders it, "and thou confirmedst them"; but the former sense seems best, agreeably to which is the Targum, "thou hast broken the nations, and hast consumed them"; and that all this was the Lord's work appears by what follows.

(q) "has autem germinare fecisti", Tigurine version; "propagasti ipsos", Piscator; so Ainsworth; but rejected by Gussetius, Ebr. Comment. p. 859.

How thou didst drive out the {b} heathen with thy hand, and plantedst {c} them; how thou didst afflict the {d} people, and (e) cast them out.

(b) That is, the Canaanites.

(c) That is, our fathers.

(d) Of Canaan.

(e) That is, our fathers.

2. With thine own hand didst thou dispossess nations, and plant them in,

Didst afflict peoples, and cause them to spread abroad.

Thou with thy hand are the first words of the verse in the Heb., emphasising by their position the prominent thought of this stanza, that Israel owed its possession of Canaan not to its own courage but to Jehovah’s help. The metaphor of planting is frequently applied to the establishment of Israel in Canaan (cp. Exodus 15:17; 2 Samuel 7:10), and it is continued in the next line, where the rendering cause them to spread abroad is commended by the usage of the word and by the parallelism. Israel is compared to a tree which struck root and spread its branches far and wide. Cp. Psalm 80:8 ff, Psalm 80:11. Note the artistic parallelism, the first clause in each line referring to the nations, the second to Israel.Verse 2. - How thou didst drive out the heathen with thy hand; i.e. "by thy power." The conquest of Canaan is the historical fact referred to. And plantedst them (comp. Exodus 15:17, "Thou wilt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance;" and see also Psalm 80:8, "Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt; thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it"). How thou didst afflict the people; rather, the peoples, i.e. the Canaanitish nations. And cast them out. So the LXX, the Vulgate, and even the Revised Version. But most moderns, understanding "them" of Israel, render, but didst spread them out (comp. Psalm 80:11). The Elohimic Judica (the introit of the so-called Cross or Passion Sunday which opens the celebritas Passionis), with which the supplicatory and plaintive first strophe of the Psalm begins, calls to mind the Jehovic Judica in Psalm 7:9; Psalm 26:1; Psalm 35:1, Psalm 35:24 : judge me, i.e., decide my cause (lxx κρῖνόν με, Symmachus κρῖνόν μοι). ריבה has the tone upon the ultima before the ריבי which begins with the half-guttural ר, as is also the case in Psalm 74:22; Psalm 119:154. The second prayer runs: vindica me a gente impia; מן standing for contra in consequence of a constr. praegnans. לא־חסיד is here equivalent to one practising no חסד towards men, that is to say, one totally wanting in that חסד, by which God's חסד is to be imitated and repaid by man in his conduct towards his fellow-men. There is some uncertainty whether by אישׁ one chief enemy, the leader of all the rest, is intended to be mentioned side by side with the unloving nation, or whether the special manner of his enemies is thus merely individualised. עולה means roguish, mischievous conduct, utterly devoid of all sense of right. In Psalm 43:2 the poet establishes his petition by a twofold Why. He loves God and longs after Him, but in the mirror of his present condition he seems to himself like one cast off by Him. This contradiction between his own consciousness and the inference which he is obliged to draw from his afflicted state cannot remain unsolved. אלהי מעזּי, God of my fortress, is equivalent to who is my fortress. Instead of אלך we here have the form אתהלּך, of the slow deliberate gait of one who is lost in his own thoughts and feelings. The sting of his pain is his distance from the sanctuary of his God. In connection with Psalm 43:3 one is reminded of Psalm 57:4 and Exodus 15:13, quite as much as of Psalm 42:9. "Light and truth" is equivalent to mercy and truth. What is intended is the light of mercy or loving-kindness which is coupled with the truth of fidelity to the promises; the light, in which the will or purpose of love, which is God's most especial nature, becomes outwardly manifest. The poet wishes to be guided by these two angels of God; he desires that he may be brought (according tot he Chethb of the Babylonian text יבואוני, "let come upon me;" but the אל which follows does not suit this form) to the place where his God dwells and reveals Himself. "Tabernacles" is, as in Psalm 84:2; Psalm 46:5, an amplificative designation of the tent, magnificent in itself and raised to special honour by Him who dwells therein.
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