Psalm 74:2
Remember your congregation, which you have purchased of old; the rod of your inheritance, which you have redeemed; this mount Zion, wherein you have dwelled.
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(2) Purchased.—Or, as in LXX., acquired. This word, together with the word “redeemed” in the next clause, and “right hand” in Psalm 74:11, show that Exodus 15 was in the writer’s mind. (See especially Psalm 74:12-13; Psalm 74:16 of that chapter.)

The word “congregation” here, as in the Mosaic books, presents the people in its religious aspect, as the expression “rod (or, tribe) of thine inheritance” presents it in its political character.

The rod of . . .—Better, which thou hast redeemed as the tribe of thine inheritance, i.e., as thine own tribe.

The expression, “rod of thine inheritance,” comes from Jeremiah 10:16; Jeremiah 51:19. (Comp. Isaiah 63:17.) It refers not to the shepherd’s crook, but to the sceptre, or leading staff, of the prince of a tribe, and so passes into a term for the tribe itself (Exodus 28:21; Judges 20:2).

Psalm 74:2. Remember thy congregation — That is, the Israelites, who are thy church, and whom at the expense of so many miracles, thou didst make thy peculiar people; show by thine actions that thou hast not utterly forgotten and forsaken them; which thou hast purchased — Hebrew, קנית, kanita, rendered bought, Deuteronomy 32:6, but which also signifies acquired or procured, though without price, as Ruth 4:9-10. Of old — When thou didst bring them out of Egypt, and form them into a commonwealth; gavest them laws, and didst enter into covenant with them at Sinai. The rod of thine inheritance — That people which thou hast measured out, as it were, by rod, to be thy portion: or, the tribe (as the word שׁבשׂ, shebet, here rendered rod, commonly signifies) of thine inheritance, that is, the tribe of Judah, which thou hast, in a special manner, chosen for thine inheritance, and for the seat of thy church and kingdom, and the birth of the Messiah. And thus here is an elegant gradation from the general to particulars: First, the congregation, consisting of all the tribes; then the tribe of Judah; and lastly, mount Zion. Nor is it strange that he mentions this tribe particularly, because the calamity and captivity here lamented principally befell this tribe and Benjamin, which was united with it, and subject to it; and those who returned from the captivity were generally of this tribe. This mount Zion — Which is often put for the temple, or the hill of Moriah, on which it was built.74:1-11 This psalm appears to describe the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Chaldeans. The deplorable case of the people of God, at the time, is spread before the Lord, and left with him. They plead the great things God had done for them. If the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt was encouragement to hope that he would not cast them off, much more reason have we to believe, that God will not cast off any whom Christ has redeemed with his own blood. Infidels and persecutors may silence faithful ministers, and shut up places of worship, and say they will destroy the people of God and their religion together. For a long time they may prosper in these attempts, and God's oppressed servants may see no prospect of deliverance; but there is a remnant of believers, the seed of a future harvest, and the despised church has survived those who once triumphed over her. When the power of enemies is most threatening, it is comfortable to flee to the power of God by earnest prayer.Remember thy congregation - The word rendered "congregation" means properly an "assembly," a "community," and it is frequently applied to the Israelites, or the Jewish people, considered as a body or a community associated for the service of God. Exodus 12:3; Exodus 16:1-2, Exodus 16:9; Leviticus 4:15; Numbers 27:17. The word used by the Septuagint is συναγωγή sunagōgē - synagogue - but refers here to the whole Jewish people, not to a particular synagogue or congregation.

Which thou hast purchased of old - In ancient times; in a former age. That is, Thou hast "purchased" them to thyself, or as thine own, by redeeming them from bondage, thus securing to thyself the right to them, as one does who redeems or purchases a thing. See the notes at Isaiah 43:3.

The rod of thine inheritance - Margin, as in Hebrew, "tribe." The Hebrew word - שׁבט shêbet - means properly "a staff," stick, rod; then, a shepherd's staff, a crook; then, a scepter; and then it is used to denote a "tribe," so called from the staff or scepter which the chief of the tribe carried as the symbol of authority. Exodus 28:21; Judges 20:2. The word "inheritance" is frequently applied to the children of Israel considered as belonging to God, as property inherited belongs to him who owns it - perhaps suggesting the idea that the right to them had come down, as inherited property does, from age to age. It was a right over them acquired long before, in the days of the patriarchs.

Which thou hast redeemed - By delivering them out of Egyptian bondage. So the church is now redeemed, and, as such, it belongs to God.

This mount Zion - Jerusalem - the seat of government, and of public worship - the capital of the nation.

Wherein thou last dwelt - By the visible symbol of thy presence and power. - On all these considerations the psalmist prays that God would not forget Jerusalem in the present time of desolation and trouble.

2. The terms to denote God's relation to His people increase in force: "congregation"—"purchased"—"redeemed"—"Zion," His dwelling. Remember; show by thine actions that thou hast not utterly forgotten and forsaken them.

Thy congregation; thy church or people. Purchased; or, redeemed, as it follows; or, bought, as it is Deu 32:6; or, procured, though without price, as this word is used, Ruth 4:9,10.

Of old; when thou broughtest them out of Egypt, and formedst them into a commonwealth, and gavest them laws, and didst enter into covenant with them at Sinai.

The rod of thine inheritance; that people which thou hast measured out as it were by rod, to be thy portion or inheritance, as they are called also Deu 32:6 See also Psalm 16:5,6 Jer 10:16. Or, the tribe (as this word commonly signifies)

of thine inheritance, i.e. the tribe of Judah, which thou hast in a special manner chosen for thine inheritance, and for the seat of the kingdom, and for the birth of the Messiah. And thus here is an elegant gradation from the general to particulars; first the congregation, consisting of all the tribes; then the tribe of Judah; and lastly,

Mount Zion. Nor is it strange that he mentions this tribe particularly, because the calamity and captivity here remembered did principally befall this tribe and Benjamin, which was united with it and subject to it, and the most that returned were of this tribe; for the generality of the other tubes were long before dispersed into other lands, and continue in their captivity to this day. Mount Zion; which is oft put for the temple, or the hill of Moriah, on which it was built. Remember thy congregation, which thou hast purchased of old,.... Alluding to the redemption of the congregation of Israel out of Egypt, when they were said to be "purchased", Exodus 15:16 and as that people were typical of the people of God, they may be said to be "purchased then", even of old; though the purchase in reality was not made till the blood of Christ was shed, with which he purchased his church, Acts 20:28, indeed he was the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world, in the purpose and promise of God, and in the typical sacrifices so early offered up, Revelation 13:8, and besides, the words may be considered as the words of the church of God groaning under antichristian oppression and cruelty, hundreds of years since the death of Christ, and so may be said to be of old purchased; and which is called a "congregation", because a select number, chosen of God, and called out of the world, and brought into one body, and into fellowship with Christ and one another; and though they may not meet together in one place, they are all of one body, and will one day make one general assembly and church of the firstborn, called "the congregation of the righteous", Psalm 1:5 now it is desired of the Lord for these, that they might be remembered with his lovingkindness and tender mercies, with his covenant and promises, and be delivered and saved out of the hands of their enemies:

the rod of thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed; the Targum adds, out of Egypt; but this is to be understood not of the redemption of the people of Israel, but of the redemption of the church of God from sin, Satan, the law, the world, hell, and death; who are chosen by the Lord for his inheritance, his peculiar treasure and portion; and which he highly values and esteems, and is dear unto him as such, as the redemption of them by the blood of Christ shows:

this Mount Sion wherein thou hast dwelt; meaning the church of God, which often goes by this name, both in the Old and in the New Testament, comparable to the mount of Zion for its height, holiness, and immoveableness; where the Lord has promised to dwell, and where he does dwell, and will for evermore. As the reference to Sion literally understood, it is called "this Sion", because well known, and because the psalm might be composed or said in it, as Kimchi observes; and which shows that it was written before the destruction of the city and temple, and while Zion was the seat of religious worship, and therefore a prophecy of future times.

Remember thy congregation, which thou hast purchased of old; the {b} rod of thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed; this mount Zion, wherein thou hast dwelt.

(b) Which inheritance you have measured out for yourself as with a line or rod.

2. Remember] Cp. Psalm 74:18; Psalm 74:22; Lamentations 5:1; Isaiah 62:6.

purchased … redeemed] Reminiscences of the Song of Moses (Exodus 15:13; Exodus 15:16). Cp. Psalm 77:15; Psalm 78:35; Deuteronomy 32:6.

the rod &c.] Render with R.V.,

Which thou hast redeemed to be the tribe of thine inheritance.

The nation is called a tribe, as in Amos 3:1 it is called a family. So too in Jeremiah 10:16 (= Psalm 51:19); cp. Isaiah 63:17.

this mount Zion] Omit this: the pronoun here serves for the relative.

dwelt] Cp. Psalm 68:16. The verb is that from which later Judaism derived the term Shechinah to denote the abiding Presence of God among His people.Verse 2. - Remember thy congregation, which thou hast purchased of old; or, which thou didst purchase of old. The reference is to the redemption out of Egypt (see Exodus 15:16). God is besought, though he has forgotten, once more to remember his people, and urged to do so by the memory of his former mercies (comp. vers. 12-17). The rod of thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed; rather, which thou didst redeem to be the tribe of thine inheritance; i.e. the people of thine inheritance. "The conventional expression, 'the tribes of Israel,' was not always used after the fall of the northern kingdom" (Cheyne); comp. Jeremiah 10:16; Jeremiah 51:19. This Mount Zion, wherein thou hast dwelt (comp. Psalm 73: 68). The expression, "this Mount Zion," implies that the psalm is composed either by one of the exiles before he is removed from the Holy Land, or by one of those who were left behind by the conquerors (2 Kings 25:12, 22; Jeremiah 42:10; Jeremiah 52:16). But he does not thus deeply degrade himself: after God has once taken him by the right hand and rescued him from the danger of falling (Psalm 73:2), he clings all the more firmly to Him, and will not suffer his perpetual fellowship with Him to be again broken through by such seizures which estrange him from God. confidently does he yield up himself to the divine guidance, though he may not see through the mystery of the plan (עצה) of this guidance. He knows that afterwards (אחר with Mugrash: adverb as in Psalm 68:26), i.e., after this dark way of faith, God will כבוד receive him, i.e., take him to Himself, and take him from all suffering (לקח as in Psalm 49:16, and of Enoch, Genesis 5:24). The comparison of Zechariah 2:12 [8] is misleading; there אחר is rightly accented as a preposition: after glory hath He sent me forth (vid., Kצhler), and here as an adverb; for although the adverbial sense of אחר would more readily lead one to look for the arrangement of the words ואחר תקחני כבוד, still "to receive after glory" (cf. the reverse Isaiah 58:8) is an awkward thought. כבוד, which as an adjective "glorious" (Hofmann) is alien to the language, is either accusative of the goal (Hupfeld), or, which yields a form of expression that is more like the style of the Old Testament, accusative of the manner (Luther, "with honour"). In אחר the poet comprehends in one summary view what he looks for at the goal of the present divine guidance. The future is dark to him, but lighted up by the one hope that the end of his earthly existence will be a glorious solution of the riddle. Here, as elsewhere, it is faith which breaks through not only the darkness of this present life, but also the night of Hades. At that time there was as yet no divine utterance concerning any heavenly triumph of the church, militant in the present world, but to faith the Jahve-Name had already a transparent depth which penetrated beyond Hades into an eternal life. The heaven of blessedness and glory also is nothing without God; but he who can in love call God his, possesses heaven upon earth, and he who cannot in love call God his, would possess not heaven, but hell, in the midst of heaven. In this sense the poet says in Psalm 73:25 : whom have I in heaven? i.e., who there without Thee would be the object of my desire, the stilling of my longing? without Thee heaven with all its glory is a vast waste and void, which makes me indifferent to everything, and with Thee, i.e., possessing Thee, I have no delight in the earth, because to call Thee mine infinitely surpasses every possession and every desire of earth. If we take בּארץ still more exactly as parallel to בּשּׁמים, without making it dependent upon חפצתּי: and possessing Thee I have no desire upon the earth, then the sense remains essentially the same; but if we allow בארץ to be governed by חפצתי in accordance with the general usage of the language, we arrive at this meaning by the most natural way. Heaven and earth, together with angels and men, afford him no satisfaction - his only friend, his sole desire and love, is God. The love for God which David expresses in Psalm 16:2 in the brief utterance, "Thou art my Lord, Thou art my highest good," is here expanded with incomparable mystical profoundness and beauty. Luther's version shows his master-hand. The church follows it in its "Herzlich lieb hab' ich dich" when it sings -

"The whole wide world delights me not,

For heaven and earth, Lord, care Inot,

If I may but have Thee;"

and following it, goes on in perfect harmony with the text of our Psalm -

"Yea, though my heart be like to break,

Thou art my trust that nought can shake;"

(Note: Miss Winkworth's translation.)

or with Paul Gerhard, [in his Passion-hymn "Ein Lmmlein geht und trgt die Schuld der Welt und ihrer Kinder,"

"Light of my heart, that shalt Thou be;

And when my heart in pieces breaks,

Thou shalt my heart remain."

For the hypothetical perfect כּלה expresses something in spite of which he upon whom it may come calls God his God: licet defecerit. Though his outward and inward man perish, nevertheless God remains ever the rock of his heart as the firm ground upon which he, with his ego, remains standing when everything else totters; He remains his portion, i.e., the possession that cannot be taken from him, if he loses all, even his spirit-life pertaining to the body, - and God remains to him this portion לעולם, he survives with the life which he has in God the death of the old life. The poet supposes an extreme case, - one, that is, it is true, impossible, but yet conceivable, - that his outward and inward being should sink away; even then with the merus actus of his ego he will continue to cling to God. In the midst of the natural life of perishableness and of sin, a new, individual life which is resigned to God has begun within him, and in this he has the pledge that he cannot perish, so truly as God, with whom it is closely united, cannot perish. It is just this that is also the nerve of the proof of the resurrection of the dead which Jesus advances in opposition to the Sadducees (Matthew 22:32).

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