Psalm 68:21
But God shall wound the head of his enemies, and the hairy scalp of such an one as goes on still in his trespasses.
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(21) Hairy scalp.—Literally, crown, or top, or head of hair. The word is rendered “pate” in Psalm 7:16. This is probably a portrait of some historical person hostile to Israel. Others take it as a type of pride and arrogance, comparing the use of the Greek verb κομαν. The word “scalp,” properly shell (comp. “skull”), was a word in common use at the time of the translation of the English Bible—

“White beards have armed their thin and hairless scalps

Against thy majesty.”


Psalm 68:21. But God shall wound the head of his enemies — Of Satan, the old serpent, of whom it was, by the first promise, foretold, that the seed of the woman should bruise his head; and the heads of all the powers of the nations, whether Jews or Gentiles, that oppose him and his kingdom among men. Psalm 110:6, He shall wound the heads over many countries; of all those, whoever they are, that will not have him to reign over them. For these he accounts his enemies, and they shall be brought forth and slain before him, Luke 19:27. The hairy scalp, &c. — This expression seems to refer to the custom prevalent with many, in ancient times, of wearing long shaggy hair, that their looks might be more terrible to their enemies. Of such a one as goeth on still in his trespasses — And hates to be reformed. Christ looks on all such as his enemies, and will treat them accordingly. The original words here used have great emphasis, and imply, God shall strike deep, or exhaust the blood of the head of his enemies, that is, utterly destroy them. As if he had said, “He will avenge himself on their devoted heads; nor shall their strength or craft be able to protect them from his indignation.” For the head, and the hairy scalp, or crown, denote the principal part, the strength, the pride, and the glory of the adversary, which was to be crushed, according to the original sentence, Genesis 3:15. It is justly observed here by Dr. Horne, that this verse begins a prediction of that vengeance which the person who was “ascended on high would infallibly execute upon his impenitent enemies, and which was shadowed forth in the destruction of the enemies of Israel by David, after that the ark of God was placed upon the hill of Zion.”68:15-21 The ascension of Christ must here be meant, and thereto it is applied, Eph 4:8. He received as the purchase of his death, the gifts needful for the conversion of sinners, and the salvation of believers. These he continually bestows, even on rebellious men, that the Lord God might dwell among them, as their Friend and Father. He gave gifts to men. Having received power to give eternal life, the Lord Jesus bestows it on as many as were given him, Joh 17:2. Christ came to a rebellious world, not to condemn it, but that through him it might be saved. The glory of Zion's King is, that he is a Saviour and Benefactor to all his willing people, and a consuming fire to all that persist in rebellion against him. So many, so weighty are the gifts of God's bounty, that he may be truly said to load us with them. He will not put us off with present things for a portion, but will be the God of our salvation. The Lord Jesus has authority and power to rescue his people from the dominion of death, by taking away the sting of it from them when they die, and giving them complete victory over it when they rise again. The crown of the head, the chief pride and glory of the enemy, shall be smitten; Christ shall crush the head of the serpent.But God shall wound the head of his enemies - More properly, "God shall crush the head," etc. The idea is that of complete destruction, - as, if the head is crushed, life becomes ex tinct. See Genesis 3:15; compare Psalm 110:6.

And the hairy scalp - More literally, "the top of the hair." The Hebrew word used here for "scalp" means the vertex, the top, the crown, as of the head, where the hair "divides itself;" and the idea is properly, "the dividing of the hair." Gesenius, Lexicon. The allusion is to the top of the head; that is, the blow would descend on the top of the head, producing death.

Of such an one as goeth on still in his trespasses - Of the man who perseveres in a course of wickedness. If he repents, God will be merciful to him; if he persists in sin, he will be punished. The literal rendering would be, "the hairy scalp going on, or going, sc. "about", in his trespasses." The reference is to a wicked man "continuing" in his transgressions.

21. wound the head—or, "violently destroy" (Nu 24:8; Ps 110:6).

goeth on still in … trespasses—perseveringly impenitent.

The head; either,

1. The political head, their ruler or rulers, the devil or other wicked Christians. Or rather,

2. The natural head, as appears from the following expression, added to explain this, and

the hairy scalp; and he speaks of the heads or hairy scalps not of one, but of all his enemies; the singular number being put for the plural, than which nothing is more frequent. The hairy scalp, i.e. his most fierce and terrible enemies. For in ancient times many people used to wear long and shaggy hair, that their looks might be more terrible to their enemies.

Of such a one as goeth on still in his trespasses; of those who persist in their enmity and rebellion against him; whereby he opens a door of hope and mercy to his very enemies, if they return and submit themselves to him. But God shall wound the head of his enemies,.... Him who is the chief of his enemies, even Satan the prince of devils, the god of the world, the father of the wicked Jews, all enemies of Christ; to "wound" is the same as to bruise him, as in Genesis 3:15; and so the Targum here,

"but God shall break the head of his enemies;''

disappoint his schemes, blast his designs, crush his power and authority, demolish his empire, and eternally destroy him with the fire prepared for him and his angels; and the same may be applied to the man of sin, and all other enemies of Christ, who is the divine Person here, and all along, spoken of; see Psalm 110:6;

and the hairy scalp of such an one as goeth on still in his trespasses; by whom may be meant antichrist: Jarchi interprets it of Esau, who was an hairy man, and a figure of antichrist: and his hairy scalp may denote his fierceness and cruelty, appearing like a savage beast, drinking the blood of the saints; and like a thief and a robber, who used to let their hair grow long, shagged, and entangled, to strike terror into men they met with, Job 5:5; and also his pride and haughtiness; he exalting himself above all that is called God, and opening his mouth in blasphemy against him: and likewise it signifies his great power and authority, he having people, kingdoms, and nations, depending upon him, as hair on the head, and subject to him: and of him it may be truly said, that he "goes on still in his trespasses"; in tyranny, idolatry, superstition, and will worship; taking no notice of what God says by his witnesses, nor any warning by what the eastern empire suffered by the Turks and Saracens; so as to repent of the works of his hands, of worshipping idols of gold, silver, brass, and wood; nor of his murders, sorceries, fornications, and thefts; but still persisting in them, until his, and the sins of his followers, reach to heaven, Revelation 9:20; but the God-man, Christ Jesus, will give him a deadly wound, of which he shall never be healed: this also holds true of all that persist in a sinful course of life without repentance; who are workers of iniquity, whose lives are one continued series of sinning; these will be punished by Christ with everlasting destruction.

But God shall wound the head of his enemies, and the hairy scalp of such an one as goeth on still in his trespasses.
21. But God shall wound the head &c.) Yea, God shall smite through the head &c. Cp. Jdg 5:26; Habakkuk 3:13-14.

and the hairy scalp] Omit and. The warrior’s long hair is mentioned not merely as “a sign of exuberant strength and impenitent pride,” but in allusion to the ancient practice of allowing the hair to grow when a vow had been undertaken. “With warriors in primitive times the unshorn head was a usual mark of their consecration to the work they had undertaken, and their locks remained untouched till they had achieved their enterprise or had perished in the attempt. War among most primitive peoples is a sacred function.” J. S. Black in the Smaller Cambr. Bible for Schools, on Jdg 5:2, which should be rendered

“For that flowing locks were worn in Israel,

For that the people volunteered themselves, bless ye the Lord,”

i.e. give thanks for the zeal with which the people devoted themselves to the sacred war of independence. Cp. Deuteronomy 32:42, where “from the beginning of revenges on the enemy” should be rendered “from the hairy head of the enemy.”

of such a one &c.] According to strict grammar, the hairy scalp that goeth on in his guiltiness, the scalp standing by metonymy for the man. The verb expresses the idea of open and defiant persistence.Verse 21. - But God shall wound the head of his enemies; or, "yet surely God will smite," etc. Though he gives escape from death, yet he will not do so always. On the contrary, he will assuredly smite and destroy his enemies, wounding them where a wound is fatal. And the hairy scalp of such a one as goeth on still in his trespasses. "The hairy scalp," says Dr. Kay, "points almost certainly to Absalom." Others take it as merely indicating the young and strong. This victory of Israel over the kings of the Gentiles gives the poet the joyful assurance that Zion is the inaccessible dwelling-place of Elohim, the God of the heavenly hosts. The mention of Zalmon leads him to mention other mountains. He uses the mountains of Bashan as an emblem of the hostile powers east of Jordan. These stand over against the people of God, as the mighty mountains of Bashan rising in steep, only slightly flattened peaks, to little hill-like Zion. In the land on this side Jordan the limestone and chalk formation with intermingled strata of sandstone predominates; the mountains of Bashan, however, are throughout volcanic, consisting of slag, lava, and more particularly basalt (basanites), which has apparently taken its name from Bashan (Basan).

(Note: This is all the more probable as Semitism has no proper word for basalt; in Syria it is called hag'ar aswad, "black stone.")

As a basalt range the mountains of Bashan are conspicuous among other creations of God, and are therefore called "the mountain of Elohim:" the basalt rises in the form of a cone with the top lopped off, or even towers aloft like so many columns precipitous and rugged to sharp points; hence the mountains of Bashan are called הר גּבננּים, i.e., a mountain range (for הר, as is well known, signifies both the single eminence and the range of summits) of many peaks equals a many-peaked mountain; גּבנן is an adjective like רענן, אמלל. With this boldly formed mass of rock so gloomily majestic, giving the impression of antiquity and of invincibleness, when compared with the ranges on the other side of unstable porous limestone and softer formations, more particularly with Zion, it is an emblem of the world and its powers standing over against the people of God as a threatening and seemingly invincible colossus. The poet asks these mountains of Bashan "why," etc.? רצד is explained from the Arabic rṣd, which, in accordance with its root Arab. rṣ, signifies to cleave firmly to a place (firmiter inhaesit loco), properly used of a beast of prey couching down and lying in wait for prey, of a hunter on the catch, and of an enemy in ambush; hence then: to lie in wait for, lurk, ἐνεδρεύειν, craftily, insidiose (whence râṣid, a lier-in-wait, tarraṣṣud, an ambush), here: to regard enviously, invidiose. In Arabic, just as in this instance, it is construed as a direct transitive with an accusative of the object, whereas the original signification would lead one to look for a dative of the object (רצד ל), which does also really occur in the common Arabic. Olewejored is placed by גבננים, but what follows is not, after all, the answer: "the mountain - Elohim has chosen it as the seat of His throne," but ההר is the object of the interrogative clause: Quare indiviose observatis, montes cacuminosi, hunc montem (δεικτικῶς: that Zion yonder), quem, etc. (an attributive clause after the determinate substantive, as in Psalm 52:9; Psalm 89:50, and many other instances, contrary to the Arabic rule of style). Now for the first time, in Psalm 68:17, follows that which is boastfully and defiantly contrasted with the proud mountains: "Jahve will also dwell for ever;" not only that Elohim has chosen Zion as the seat of His throne, it will also continue to be the seat of His throne, Jahve will continue to dwell [there] for ever. Grace is superior to nature, and the church superior to the world, powerful and majestic as this may seem to be. Zion maintains its honour over against the mountains of Bashan.

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