Psalm 44:3
For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but your right hand, and your arm, and the light of your countenance, because you had a favor to them.
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(3) The light of thy countenance.—Notice the contrast to this in Psalm 44:24; in times of distress God’s face seemed hidden or averted.

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.For they got not the land in possession - The land of Canaan. The design of this verse is to illustrate the sentiment in the previous verse, that they owed their establishment in the promised land wholly to God. The fact that He had interposed in their behalf; that He had shown that he was able to discomfit their enemies, is appealed to as a reason why he should now interpose in a time of national danger and calamity. He who had driven out the nations in the days of their fathers; he who had established his people peaceably in the land from which the former inhabitants had been expelled, was able to interpose now and save them. The prominent thought in all this is, that it was God who had accomplished all that had been done. That same God was able to save them again.

By their own sword - That is, it was not owing to their valor, but to the divine power: Deuteronomy 8:10-18; Deuteronomy 9:3-6; Joshua 24:12.

Neither did their own arm save them - Not their own strength or prowess.

But thy right hand - The right hand is mentioned because it is that which is employed in wielding the sword or the spear in battle.

And the light of thy countenance - Thy favor. It was because thou didst lift upon them the light of thy countenance, or because thou didst favor them. See the notes at Psalm 4:6.

Because thou hadst a favor unto them - Thou didst desire to show them favor; thou hadst pleasure in them. The idea in the Hebrew word is that of delighting in anything, or having pleasure in it.

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. By their own sword, i.e. by their arms or valour.

The light of thy countenance, i.e. thy favour, as the next words explain it; thy gracious and glorious presence, which went along with us. For they got not the land in possession by their own sword,.... There were many things which show that the possession of the land of Canaan was not of the Israelites themselves, but of the Lord; as their passing over into it through Jordan as on dry land; the manner in which Jericho, the first city of it, was taken, and the smiting of the Israelites by the men of Ai;

neither did their own arm save them; from their enemies, and deliver them into their hands: they were too apt to ascribe things to their own righteousness, merit, and power; but such methods were taken by the Lord as to prevent such attributions to themselves; see Deuteronomy 8:16;

but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance; the mighty power of God, his outstretched arm in their favour, and which arose from his pure good will to them;

because thou hadst a favour unto them; was well pleased, and took delight in them; chose them to be a special people to himself, above all people on the face of the earth.

For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a {f} favour unto them.

(f) God's free mercy and love is the only fountain and beginning of the Church, De 4:37.

3. The thought of the preceding verse is still further emphasised.

For not by their own sword gat they possession of the land,

Neither did their own arm give them victory:

But thy right hand, &c.

Cp. Psalm 60:5; Joshua 4:24.

the light of thy countenance] Cp. Psalm 4:6; Psalm 31:16; Psalm 80:3; Psalm 80:7; Psalm 80:19; and the Aaronic benediction in Numbers 6:24 ff.

hadst a favour unto them] God’s free choice, not Israel’s merit, was the ground of His intervention on their behalf. Cp. Deuteronomy 4:37; Deuteronomy 8:17-18; Deuteronomy 9:4; Deuteronomy 9:6.Verse 3. - For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them (comp. Joshua 24:11, 12): but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favour unto them (see Deuteronomy 4:37, 38; Joshua 24:11, 18). 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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