Psalm 66:12
Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) Ride over our heads.—For the figure comp. Isaiah 51:23.

We went through fire and water.—A figure of extreme danger. (Comp. Isaiah 43:2.)

A wealthy place.—The LXX. and Vulg., “to refreshment,” which is certainly more in keeping with the figures employed, and may perhaps be got out of the root-idea of the word, “overflow.” But a slight change gives the frequent figure “a broad place.”

66:8-12 The Lord not only preserves our temporal life, but maintains the spiritual life which he has given to believers. By afflictions we are proved, as silver in the fire. The troubles of the church will certainly end well. Through various conflicts and troubles, the slave of Satan escapes from his yoke, and obtains joy and peace in believing: through much tribulation the believer must enter into the kingdom of God.Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads - This refers evidently to some national subjection or conquest - most probably to their having been subdued by the Babylonians. Professor Alexander renders this, "Thou hast caused men to ride at our head," as if leading them forth as captives in war. The most probable meaning, however, is that they had been subdued, as if on a field of battle, and as if their conquerors had ridden over them when prostrate on the ground. Compare the notes at Psalm 44:5, and the notes at Isaiah 51:23.

We went through fire and through water - This is designed to represent the nature of their trials. It was as if they had been made to pass through burning flames and raging floods. Compare the notes at Isaiah 43:2. Instead of passing through the seas and rivers when the waters had been turned back, and when a dry and safe path was made for them, as was the ease with their fathers Psalm 66:6, they had been compelled to breast the flood itself; and yet, notwithstanding this, God had brought them into a place of safety. In either way, by parting the floods, or by conducting his people through them, as shall seem best pleasing to him, God can conduct his people safely, and deliver them from danger. The power, the protecting care, the love, and the faithfulness of God are shown with equal clearness whether he divides the flood and causes his people to march through as on dry land, or whether he suffers the flood to rage and heave around them while he conducts his chosen people safely through.

But there broughtest us out into a wealthy place - Margin, moist. Professor Alexander, overfIow, abundance. Vulgate, info a place of refreshment - refrigerium. The Septuagint, εἰς ἀναψυχήν eis anapsuchēn. Luther, Thou hast led us forth and quickened us. DeWette, zum Ueberflusse - "to overflowing, or abundance." The Hebrew word - רויה revâyâh - means properly "abundant drink," "abundance." It occurs only here and in Psalm 23:5, where it is rendered "runneth over." See the notes at that place. The proper idea here is, that he had brought them into a land where there was plenty of water - as emblematic of abundance in general. He had led them to a place where there were ample rivers, springs, and streams, producing fertility and abundance. This would be the language of the people after their return from exile, and when they were permitted again to re-visit their native land - a land always characterized as a land of plenty. See Deuteronomy 8:7; compare Exodus 3:8; Leviticus 20:24; Numbers 13:27.

12. men to ride over our heads—made us to pass.

through fire, &c.—figures describing prostration and critical dangers (compare Isa 43:2; Eze 36:12).

wealthy—literally, "overflowing," or, "irrigated," and hence fertile.

Men; weak, and mortal, and miserable men, as the word signifies, no better nor stronger than we, if thou hadst not given them power over us.

To ride over our heads; to ride upon our shoulders. By thy permission they have used us like slaves, yea, like beasts, to carry their persons or burdens. Compare Isaiah 51:23.

Through fire and through water, i.e. through various and dangerous trials and calamities. See Psalm 32:6 69:2 Ezekiel 15:7 30:8.

Into a wealthy place, Heb. into a moist or well-watered place; such as Canaan was, both in a proper sense and figuratively, as being replenished with Divine graces and blessings.

Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads,.... Jarchi and Kimchi interpret it of the kings and nations of the world ruling over Israel; and may very well design the Heathen powers and antichristian states tyrannizing over Christian people. The word in the original text is singular, "a man" (c), a frail mortal man; and may be understood of the man of sin and son of perdition; who rides upon the heads of men, exalts himself above all that is called God, and has exercised dominion over the saints in a most lawless and tyrannical manner. Vitringa, on Isaiah 43:2 interprets it of Antiochus Epiphanes, who was a type of antichrist, and supposes the following clause to refer to the persecution of the church in his time. The Targum renders it, "a lord of rebuke"; that is, either one worthy of rebuke, as antichrist is; or one that gives rebukes, delivers out anathemas and excommunications, as he does: though some translate the words of the Targum, "lords of usury", or "usurers"; a title not unfit for the creatures of antichrist;

we went through fire and through water; through afflictions, compared to fire and water; through fiery trials and overwhelming providences, though not destroyed by them, because the Lord was with them; see Isaiah 43:2; therefore they are said to go through them, not to abide in them; nor to sink under them, and perish by them: they went cheerfully through them for Christ's sake, even the greatest hardships and difficulties, which this phrase may be expressive of. It may have a particular reference to the sufferings of the saints in Gospel times; to the burning of the martyrs with fire and faggot, who, like Elijah, went up to heaven in a fiery chariot; and to the flood of waters cast out after the woman, the church, by the dragon; see Revelation 1:15;

but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place; the Targum is, into largeness; or into a large place; see Psalm 18:19. This may intend either the state of the church upon the Reformation, or rather as it will be in the latter day glory; when there will be a large spread of the Gospel, and of the interest of Christ, everywhere; when the church will be enlarged with converts, and the members of it with the gifts and graces of the Spirit; and which will be a state of great liberty and freedom in the worship of God, both inward and outward. The Septuagint version renders it, "into refreshment": so the Tigurine version, and Piscator; as those times will be times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord, which will be everywhere among his people, in his word and ordinances, and to a great degree; see Acts 3:19. The Arabic version, "unto rest"; from adversity, from persecution; for, after this state takes place, there will be no more persecution; no more fines, imprisonment, racks, and torturing deaths, for the sake of Christ and his Gospel. The word used signifies a well watered place (d) or land; such as was the land of Canaan, Deuteronomy 8:7; and such will be the state of the church in the latter day: the Spirit will be poured down like floods of water upon the dry ground; the doctrines of the Gospel will drop as the rain, and as showers upon the grass: the ordinances of it will be as green pastures beside the still waters; and every believer will be as a watered garden, whose springs fail not; it will be a time of great plenty and prosperity in spiritual things. Ainsworth renders it, "to an abundant place"; so Gejerus: a place abounding with all good things: a "wealthy" one, as we translate it. And even in a literal sense this will be the wealthy time of the church; when kings shall come into it, and bring their riches and honour there, and use them for the good of it, Isaiah 49:23; and then also will the saints be enriched with every gift, and be rich in grace and in all good works.

(c) "hominem", Pagninus, Montanus. (d) "ad irrignam", Pagninus, Montanus.

Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. Better: Thou didst cause … we went … but thou hast brought us out. The figure in the first line is clearly that of the vanquished flung down upon the ground, and trampled remorselessly under the horsehoofs or crushed by the chariot wheels of their conquerors. Cp. Isaiah 51:23. Representations of a conqueror driving his chariot over prostrate foes may be seen on Egyptian and Assyrian monuments. The sense of outrage is heightened by the word for men, which means mortal men. Cp. Psalm 9:19; Psalm 10:18; Psalm 56:1. Fire and water are symbolical of extreme and varied dangers. Cp. Isaiah 43:2.

into a wealthy place] Lit., into abundance, the opposite of the privations we endured. But the Ancient Versions point to a different and more suitable reading, a place of liberty. Cp. Psalm 18:19; Psalm 119:45.

Verse 12. - Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads. See the Egyptian and Assyrian sculptures passim, where the king in his chariot gallops over the bodies of his dead and wounded enemies. We went through fire and through water; i.e. through dangers of every kind - a proverbial expression (comp. Isaiah 43:2). But thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place; or, "a place of refreshment" (εἰς ἀναψυχήν, LXX.). Dr. Kay renders, "a place of rich comfort;" Professor Cheyne, "a place of liberty" (comp. Psalm 23:4 and Jeremiah 31:25). Psalm 66:12The character of the event by which the truth has been verified that the God who redeemed Israel out of Egypt still ever possesses and exercises to the full His ancient sovereign power, is seen from this reiterated call to the peoples to share in Israel's Gloria. God has averted the peril of death and overthrow from His people: He has put their soul in life (בּחיּים, like בּישׁע in Psalm 12:6), i.e., in the realm of life; He has not abandoned their foot to tottering unto overthrow (mowT the substantive, as in Psalm 121:3; cf. the reversed construction in Psalm 55:23). For God has cast His people as it were into a smelting-furnace or fining-pot in order to purify and to prove them by suffering; - this is a favourite figure with Isaiah and Jeremiah, but is also found in Zechariah 13:9; Malachi 3:3. Ezekiel 19:9 is decisive concerning the meaning of מצוּדה, where הביא במצודות signifies "to bring into the holds or prisons;" besides, the figure of the fowling-net (although this is also called מצוּדה as well as מצודה) has no footing here in the context. מצוּדה (vid., Psalm 18:3) signifies specula, and that both a natural and an artificial watch-post on a mountain; here it is the mountain-hold or prison of the enemy, as a figure of the total loss of freedom. The laying on of a heavy burden mentioned by the side of it in Psalm 66:11 also accords well with this. מוּעקה, a being oppressed, the pressure of a burden, is a Hophal formation, like מטּה, a being spread out, Isaiah 8:8; cf. the similar masculine forms in Psalm 69:3; Isaiah 8:13; Isaiah 14:6; Isaiah 29:3. The loins are mentioned because when carrying heavy loads, which one has to stoop down in order to take up, the lower spinal region is called into exercise. אנושׁ is frequently (Psalm 9:20., Psalm 10:18; Psalm 56:2, Isaiah 51:12; 2 Chronicles 14:10) the word used for tyrants as being wretched mortals, perishable creatures, in contrast with their all the more revolting, imperious, and self-deified demeanour. God so ordered it, that "wretched men" rode upon Israel's head. Or is it to be interpreted: He caused them to pass over Israel (cf. Psalm 129:3; Isaiah 51:23)? It can scarcely mean this, since it would then be in dorso nostro, which the Latin versions capriciously substitute. The preposition ל instead of על is used with reference to the phrase ישׁב ל: sitting upon Israel's head, God caused them to ride along, so that Israel was not able to raise its head freely, but was most ignominiously wounded in its self-esteem. Fire and water are, as in Isaiah 43:2, a figure of vicissitudes and perils of the most extreme character. Israel was nigh to being burnt up and drowned, but God led it forth לרויה, to an abundant fulness, to abundance and superabundance of prosperity. The lxx, which renders εἰς ἀναψυχήν (Jerome absolutely: in refrigerium), has read לרוחה; Symmachus, εἰς εὐρυχωρίαν, probably reading לרחבה (Psalm 119:45; Psalm 18:20). Both give a stronger antithesis. But the state of straitness or oppression was indeed also a state of privation.
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