Psalm 74:19
O deliver not the soul of your turtledove to the multitude of the wicked: forget not the congregation of your poor for ever.
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(19) O deliver.—To guide to the meaning of this verse, the word chayyah occurs in each clause, and it is presumable in the same sense (unless there is a purposed play on words). It may have one of three meanings: “life,” “animal,” “troop.” Psalm 17:9 suggests that chayyath nephesh go together in the sense of “greedy band,” and we get—

“Deliver not to the greedy band thy dove;

Forget not the band of the afflicted for ever.”

Psalm 74:19. O deliver not the soul — That is, the life; of thy turtle-dove — That is, thy church; unto the multitude of the wicked — Or, to the wild beast, as חית, chajath, often signifies: or, to the troop, namely, of her enemies. As if he had said, Thou hast delivered thy people into captivity; do not deliver them to death, nor suffer their enemies utterly to destroy them. The church is fitly compared to a turtle-dove, as resembling it in disposition, being simple, harmless, meek, faithful, solitary, timid, mournful, exposed to manifold injuries, and unable to defend itself.74:18-23 The psalmist begs that God would appear for the church against their enemies. The folly of such as revile his gospel and his servants will be plain to all. Let us call upon our God to enlighten the dark nations of the earth; and to rescue his people, that the poor and needy may praise his name. Blessed Saviour, thou art the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. Make thy people more than conquerors. Be thou, Lord, all in all to them in every situation and circumstances; for then thy poor and needy people will praise thy name.O deliver not the soul of thy turtle-dove - The "life" of thy turtle-dove; or, thy turtle-dove itself. The turtle-dove is a name of endearment for one beloved, in Sol 2:12, and is thus applied here to the people of Israel. The leading idea in such an application of the word is that of innocence, harmlessness, timidity, gentleness. The thought here is that of a people dear to God, now timid and alarmed. It is the prayer of a people beloved by God that he would not deliver them to their enemies. The prayer may be regarded as one which was used on the occasion referred to in the psalm; or, as a general prayer for the people of God, considered as exposed to ravening enemies.

Unto the multitude of the wicked - The words "of the wicked" are not in the original. The word rendered "multitude" - חיה chayâh - (compare the notes at Psalm 68:10) - is the same which in the other member of the sentence is rendered "congregation." It may be applied to a herd of cattle, tame or wild; and then to a "people" - a band, a troop, a host - whether of orderly and civilized, or of wild and savage people. It seems to be used in this double sense in the verse before us; in the first member of the verse, "deliver not thy turtle-dove "to the multitude" - to the wild beast, or to the savage hosts; in the latter, "forget not the congregation of thy poor" - thy flock - thy people - considered as timid or alarmed. Save the timid and trembling flock from beasts of prey.

19. multitude—literally, "beast," their flock or company of men (Ps 68:10).

turtledove—that is, the meek and lonely Church.

congregation—literally, "the company," as above—thus the Church is represented as the spoiled and defeated remnant of an army, exposed to violence.

The soul, i.e. the life. Thou hast delivered thy people into captivity; do not deliver them to death, nor suffer their enemies utterly to destroy them.

Of thy turtle-dove, i.e. of thy church, which is fitly compared to a turtle-dove, because of the great resemblance of their dispositions and conditions, being simple, and harmless, and meek, and faithful, and mournful, and exposed to manifold injuries, and unable to defend itself from them.

Unto the multitude of the wicked; or, to the wild beast, as this word oft signifies; or, to the troop, to wit, of her enemies. O deliver not the soul of thy turtledove,.... By which is meant the church, see Sol 2:14, which is comparable to this creature for its cleanness and purity, for its amiableness and beauty, for its harmlessness and innocence, for its modesty and meekness, for its affection and chastity to its mate, for its mournful and bemoaning voice for the loss of it, for its being a timorous and fearful creature, a weak one, and exposed to the prey of others; all which is true of the church, and may be applied to it: the Targum is,

"do not deliver the souls of them that teach thy law;''

the word having some affinity with "torah", the law; but Jarchi says, that Jonathan, in his Targum (which is not now extant) interprets it a turtle; the Syriac version, by the change of a letter, renders it, "the soul that confesseth thee": and the Arabic version, by a like change, and the addition of a letter, "the soul that knows thee"; all which, indeed, is applicable to the church of God; but our version expresses the true sense of the word, with which agree Jarchi, Kimchi, Ben Melech, and others: and it is a prayer of the church for herself; that the life of her members, their corporeal life (for not the soul, the better part, and its eternal concerns, are meant, which are safe in Christ's hands), might not be delivered

unto the multitude of the wicked, or "to the beast" (g); to persecutors comparable to lions and bears, and particularly the Romish antichrist, often called the beast in Revelation 11:8, do not deliver

"to the people, who are like to the beasts of the field, the souls of, &c.:''

forget not the congregation of thy poor for ever; the church of God is a congregation of men gathered out of the world by effectual grace, and consists chiefly of such who are literally poor, and all of them are spiritually so, and are sensible of it; for the most part they are a poor and "afflicted" (h) people, as the word may be also rendered, which the church is made up of; and may seem by themselves and others to be forgotten of God, when under divine desertions, or under afflictions, and immediate help is not given; but they are not forgotten, and still less for ever; see Isaiah 49:14.

(g) "ferae", Montanus, Piscator; "bestiae", Musculus, Vatablus, Cocceius, Gejerus, Michaelis; "bestiis", V. L. (h) "afflictorum tuorum", Montanus, Vatablus, Tigurine version, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, &c.

O deliver not the soul of thy {n} turtledove unto the multitude of the wicked: forget not the congregation of thy poor for ever.

(n) He means the Church of God, which is exposed as a prey to the wicked.

19. The rendering of R.V., O deliver not the soul of thy turtle-dove unto the wild beast, is preferable to that of R.V. marg., O deliver not thy turtledove unto the greedy multitude. The dove is an emblem of the defenceless people.

forget not &c.] Forget not the family of thine afflicted ones for ever: or, the life of thine afflicted ones. There is a play upon the different senses of the word chayyath: in the first line it means wild beast (living creature), in the second family (or life). For the meaning family see note on Psalm 68:10.Verse 19. - O deliver net the soul of thy turtle-dove unto the multitude of the wicked; rather, O deliver not thy turtle dove unto the greedy multitude (Revised Version margin). Israel is beautifully compared to a pet dove, the gentlest and tenderest of birds. The Babylonians are the "greedy multitude" ready to kill and devour it. Forget not the congregation (or, the multitude) of thy poor forever. The "multitude of God's poor" is being carried off into a cruel captivity, or else left as a miserable remnant in an exhausted and desolated land - in either ease needing much God's protection and "remembrance." With this prayer for the destruction of the enemies by God's interposition closes the first half of the Psalm, which has for its subject-matter the crying contradiction between the present state of things and God's relationship to Israel. The poet now draws comfort by looking back into the time when God as Israel's King unfolded the rich fulness of His salvation everywhere upon the earth, where Israel's existence was imperilled. בּקרב הארץ, not only within the circumference of the Holy Land, but, e.g., also within that of Egypt (Exodus 8:18-22). The poet has Egypt directly in his mind, for there now follows first of all a glance at the historical (Psalm 74:13-15), and then at the natural displays of God's power (Psalm 74:16, Psalm 74:17). Hengstenberg is of opinion that Psalm 74:13-15 also are to be understood in the latter sense, and appeals to Job 26:11-13. But just as Isaiah (Isaiah 51:9, cf. Psalm 27:1) transfers these emblems of the omnipotence of God in the natural world to His proofs of power in connection with the history of redemption which were exhibited in the case of a worldly power, so does the poet here also in Psalm 74:13-15. The תּנּיּן (the extended saurian) is in Isaiah, as in Ezekiel (התּנּים, Psalm 29:3; Psalm 32:2), an emblem of Pharaoh and of his kingdom; in like manner here the leviathan is the proper natural wonder of Egypt. As a water-snake or a crocodile, when it comes up with its head above the water, is killed by a powerful stroke, did God break the heads of the Egyptians, so that the sea cast up their dead bodies (Exodus 14:30). The ציּים, the dwellers in the steppe, to whom these became food, are not the Aethiopians (lxx, Jerome), or rather the Ichthyophagi (Bocahrt, Hengstenberg), who according to Agatharcides fed ἐκ τῶν ἐκριπτομένων εἰς τὴν χέρσον κητῶν, but were no cannibals, but the wild beasts of the desert, which are called עם, as in Proverbs 30:25. the ants and the rock-badgers. לציים is a permutative of the notion לעם, which was not completed: to a (singular) people, viz., to the wild animals of the steppe. Psalm 74:15 also still refers not to miracles of creation, but to miracles wrought in the course of the history of redemption; Psalm 74:15 refers to the giving of water out of the rock (Psalm 78:15), and Psalm 74:15 to the passage through the Jordan, which was miraculously dried up (הובשׁתּ, as in Joshua 2:10; Joshua 4:23; Joshua 5:1). The object מעין ונחל is intended as referring to the result: so that the water flowed out of the cleft after the manner of a fountain and a brook. נהרות are the several streams of the one Jordan; the attributive genitive איתן describe them as streams having an abundance that does not dry up, streams of perennial fulness. The God of Israel who has thus marvellously made Himself known in history is, however, the Creator and Lord of all created things. Day and night and the stars alike are His creatures. In close connection with the night, which is mentioned second, the moon, the מאור of the night, precedes the sun; cf. Psalm 8:4, where כּונן is the same as הכין in this passage. It is an error to render thus: bodies of light, and more particularly the sun; which would have made one expect מאורות before the specializing Waw. גּבוּלות are not merely the bounds of the land towards the sea, Jeremiah 5:22, but, according to Deuteronomy 32:8; Acts 17:26, even the boundaries of the land in themselves, that is to say, the natural boundaries of the inland country. קיץ וחרף are the two halves of the year: summer including spring (אביב), which begins in Nisan, the spring-month, about the time of the vernal equinox, and autumn including winter (צתו), after the termination of which the strictly spring vegetation begins (Sol 2:11). The seasons are personified, and are called God's formations or works, as it were the angels of summer and of winter.
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