Ascribe you strength to God: his excellency is over Israel, and his strength is in the clouds.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Psalm 68:34. Ascribe ye strength unto God — Acknowledge that he is mighty, and able to do whatsoever he pleaseth for his people, or against his or their enemies. His excellency is over Israel — His excellent power and goodness; Hebrew, גאותו, gaavatho, his highness, or majesty; this dwells among them, and is employed for them, as occasion requires. He is indeed the universal Lord of the whole heaven and earth, but in a special and excellent manner he is the God of Israel, and his kingdom is particularly exalted over them. He hath taken them for his peculiar inheritance; and by them alone he is adored and worshipped as the universal Creator, the supreme Lord of heaven and earth. His strength is in the clouds — Hebrew, בשׁחקים, in the heavens, or skies. He hath two dwellings and thrones, the one in his church and among his people, and the other in heaven, and in both these he manifests his power; redeeming, preserving, and sanctifying the former, and directing and governing the mighty orbs of the latter in all their motions, and from thence upholding and influencing the whole universe, animate and inanimate, rational and spiritual, and sending forth both the thunder of his power, and the great and small rain of his strength.Psalm 29:1.
His excellency is over Israel - His majesty; his glory; his protecting care. The idea is, that his glorious character - his majesty - was manifested particularly in his protection of his people.
And his strength is in the clouds - Margin, "heavens." The Hebrew word rather means "clouds." The idea is, that while his character as Protector was evinced particularly in his care of his people, his "power" was particularly seen in the clouds - the storm - the thunder - the lightning. Thus, all the manifestations of his character, alike in nature, and toward his people, are adapted to produce a deep and solemn impression in regard to his majesty and glory, or to lay the just foundation of praise.Ascribe ye strength unto God; acknowledge that he is mighty and able to do whatsoever he pleaseth for his people, or against his and their enemies.
His excellency; his excellent power and goodness.
Is over Israel; dwells among them, and is employed for them, as occasion requires. He is indeed the universal Lord of the whole heaven and earth, but in a special and excellent manner he is the God of Israel.
In the clouds; or, in the heavens, He hath two dwellings and thrones, the one in his church and people, and the other in heaven. See Isaiah 57:15.
"give the glory of strength to God.''
Moreover, this may be understood of ascribing dominion and power to him by the kingdoms of the earth, who are here addressed, when they shall be converted to him; and who, upon this enlargement of his kingdom, will be congratulated by his people, for taking to himself his great power and reigning, Revelation 11:15;
his excellency is over Israel; the spiritual Israel, such who are Israelites indeed. Over these his glorious Majesty in his kingdom rules; they are subject to him, and acknowledge him for their King; and among them is his Shechinah, or divine Presence. Or over Israel, literally understood; when they shall, as at this time the prophecy refers to, be all called, converted, and saved: they shall seek the Lord their God, and David their King, and he shall be Prince over them;
and his strength is in the clouds; which are round about him, the chariots in which he rides, and in which he shows his strength; by sending forth from thence the rain of his strength, the terrible lightning and thunder. In these he went up to heaven, and in these he will come again to judgment. They may be mystically understood of the ministers of the Gospel, especially in the latter day, who may be compared to clouds for their numbers, they will then be many; for their swiftness in moving to and fro, and spreading the Gospel; and for their being full of the doctrines of grace, comparable to rain; see Isaiah 5:6. And the Lord's strength will be seen in them, who will greatly strengthen them to do their work; his strength will be made perfect in their weakness; the excellency of the power attending their ministrations, to the large conversion of sinners, will appear to be of God, and not of man.Ascribe ye strength unto God: his excellency is over Israel, and his strength is in the clouds.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)34. Ascribe &c.] Lit. as in Psalm 29:1, give. Acknowledge by the tribute of your praises the power which is His and which He exercises in the world.
His excellency, or majesty, is over Israel to protect and bless, and his strength is in the skies, supreme not on earth alone, but throughout the universe. This and the last verse are based upon Deuteronomy 32:26,
“There is none like God (El), O Jeshurun,
Who rideth upon the heavens as thy help,
And in his excellency on the skies.”Verse 34. - Ascribe ye strength unto God; or, "might," "power" - that which makes him Shaddai, "the Almighty." His excellency is over Israel; or, "his majesty" (Kay). And his strength is in the clouds. Not in earth only, but in heaven also. Psalm 68:29 is addressed to Israel, or rather to its king (Psalm 86:16; Psalm 110:2): God, to whom everything is subject, has given Israel עז, victory and power over the world. Out of the consciousness that He alone can preserve Israel upon this height of power upon which it is placed, who has placed it thereon, grows the prayer: establish (עוּזּה with וּ for ŭ, as is frequently the case, and with the accent on the ultima on account of the following Aleph, vid., on Psalm 6:5), Elohim, that which Thou hast wrought for us; עזז, roborare, as in Proverbs 8:28; Ecclesiastes 7:19, lxx δυνάμωσον, Symmachus ἐνίσχυσον. It might also be interpreted: show Thyself powerful (cf. רוּמה, 21:14), Thou who (Isaiah 42:24) hast wrought for us (פּעל as in Isaiah 43:13, with ל, like עשׂה ל, Isaiah 64:3); but in the other way of taking it the prayer attaches itself more sequentially to what precedes, and Psalm 62:12 shows that זוּ can also represent the neuter. Hitzig has a still different rendering: the powerful divine help, which Thou hast given us; but although - instead of -ת in the stat. construct. is Ephraimitish style (vid., on Psalm 45:5), yet עוּזּה for עז is an unknown word, and the expression "from Thy temple," which is manifestly addressed to Elohim, shows that פּעלתּ is not the language of address to the king (according to Hitzig, to Jehoshaphat). The language of prayerful address is retained in Psalm 68:30. From the words מהיכלך על ירושׁלם there is nothing to be transported to Psalm 68:29 (Hupfeld); for Psalm 68:30 would thereby become stunted. The words together are the statement of the starting-point of the oblations belonging to יובילוּ: starting from Thy temple, which soars aloft over Jerusalem, may kings bring Thee, who sittest enthroned there in the Holy of holies, tributary gifts (שׁי as in Psalm 76:12; Psalm 18:7). In this connection (of prayer) it is the expression of the desire that the Temple may become the zenith or cynosure, and Jerusalem the metropolis, of the world. In this passage, where it introduces the seat of religious worship, the taking of מן as expressing the primary cause, "because or on account of Thy Temple" (Ewald), is not to be entertained.
In Psalm 68:31 follows a summons, which in this instance is only the form in which the prediction clothes itself. The "beast of the reed" is not the lion, of which sojourn among the reeds is not a characteristic (although it makes its home inter arundineta Mesopotamiae, Ammianus, Psalm 18:7, and in the thickets of the Jordan, Jeremiah 49:19; Jeremiah 50:44; Zechariah 11:3). The reed is in itself an emblem of Egypt (Isaiah 36:6, cf. Psalm 19:6), and it is therefore either the crocodile, the usual emblem of Pharaoh and of the power of Egypt (Ezekiel 29:3, cf. Psalm 74:13.) that is meant, or even the hippopotamus (Egyptian p-ehe-môut), which also symbolizes Egypt in Isaiah 30:6 (which see), and according to Job 40:21 is more appropriately than the crocodile (התנין אשׁר בּיּם, Isaiah 27:1) called היּת קנה. Egypt appears here as the greatest and most dreaded worldly power. Elohim is to check the haughty ones who exalt themselves over Israel and Israel's God. אבּירים, strong ones, are bulls (Psalm 22:13) as an emblem of the kings; and עגלי explains itself by the genit. epexeg. עמּים .gexep: together with (Beth of the accompaniment as in Psalm 68:31, Psalm 66:13, and beside the plur. humanus, Jeremiah 41:15) the calves, viz., the peoples, over whom those bulls rule. With the one emblem of Egypt is combined the idea of defiant self-confidence, and with the other the idea of comfortable security (vid., Jeremiah 46:20.). That which is brought prominently forward as the consequence of the menace is moulded in keeping with these emblems. מתרפּס, which has been explained by Flaminius substantially correctly: ut supplex veniat, is intended to be taken as a part. fut. (according to the Arabic grammar, ḥâl muqaddar, lit., a predisposed condition). It thus comprehensively in the singular (like עבר in Psalm 8:9) with one stroke depicts thoroughly humbled pride; for רפס (cf. רמס) signifies to stamp, pound, or trample, to knock down, and the Hithpa. either to behave as a trampling one, Proverbs 6:3, or to trample upon one's self, i.e., to cast one's self violently upon the ground. Others explain it as conculcandum se praebere; but such a meaning cannot be shown to exist in the sphere of the Hebrew Hithpael; moreover this "suffering one's self to be trampled upon" does not so well suit the words, which require a more active sense, viz., בּרצּי־כסףcep, in which is expressed the idea that the riches which the Gentiles have hitherto employed in the service of God-opposed worldliness, are no offered to the God of Israel by those who both in outward circumstances and in heart are vanquished (cf. Isaiah 60; 9). רץ־כּסף (from רצץ, confringere) is a piece of uncoined silver, a bar, wedge, or ingot of silver. In בּזּר there is a wide leap from the call גּער to the language of description. This rapid change is also to be found in other instances, and more especially in this dithyrambic Psalm we may readily give up any idea of a change in the pointing, as בּזּר or בּזּר (lxx διασκόρπισον); בּזּר, as it stands, cannot be imperative (Hitzig), for the final vowel essential to the imperat. Piel is wanting. God hath scattered the peoples delighting in war; war is therefore at an end, and the peace of the world is realized.
In Psalm 68:32, the contemplation of the future again takes a different turn: futures follow as the most natural expression of that which is future. The form יאתיוּ, more usually found in pause, here stands pathetically at the beginning, as in Job 12:6. השׁמנּים, compared with the Arabic chšm (whence Arab. chaššm, a nose, a word erroneously denied by Gesenius), would signify the supercilious, contemptuous (cf. Arab. âšammun, nasutus, as an appellation of a proud person who will put up with nothing). On the other hand, compared with Arab. ḥšm, it would mean the fat ones, inasmuch as this verbal stem (root Arab. ḥšš, cf. השׁרת, 2 Samuel 22:12), starting from the primary signification "to be pressed together," also signifies "to be compressed, become compact," i.e., to regain one's plumpness, to make flesh and fat, applied, according to the usage of the language, to wasted men and animals. The commonly compared Arab. ḥšı̂m, vir magni famulitii, is not at all natural, - a usage which is brought about by the intransitive signification proper to the verb starting from its radical signification, "to become or be angry, to be zealous about any one or anything," inasmuch as the nomen verbale Arab. hạšamun signifies in the concrete sense a person, or collectively persons, for whose maintenance, safety, and honour one is keenly solicitous, such as the members of the family, household attendants, servants, neighbours, clients or protgs, guest-friends; also a thing which one ardently seeks, and over the preservation of which one keeps zealous watch (Fleischer). Here there does not appear to be any connecting link whatever in the Arabic which might furnish some hold for the Hebrew; hence it will be more advisable, by comparison of השׁמל and חשׁן, to understand by חשׁמנים, the resplendent, most distinguished ones, perillustres. The dignitaries of Egypt come to give glory to the God of Israel, and Aethiopia, disheartened by fear before Jahve (cf. Habakkuk 3:7), causes his hands to run to Elohim, i.e., hastens to stretch them out. Thus it is interpreted by most expositors. But if it is ידיו, why is it not also יריץ? We reply, the Hebrew style, even in connection with words that stand close beside one another, does not seek to avoid either the enallage generis (e.g., Job 39:3, Job 39:16), or the enall. numeri (e.g., Psalm 62:5). But "to cause the hands to run" is a far-fetched and easily misunderstood figure. We may avoid it, if, with Bttcher and Olshausen, we disregard the accentuation and interpret thus, "Cush - his hands cause to hasten, i.e., bring on in haste (1 Samuel 17:17; 2 Chronicles 35:13), to Elohim," viz., propitiating gifts; תּריץ being the predicate to ידיו, according to Ges. 146, 3.
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