Psalm 75:4
I said to the fools, Deal not foolishly: and to the wicked, Lift not up the horn:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) Fools . . . foolishly.—Better, arrogant . . . arrogantly. See Psalm 73:3. (Comp. 1Samuel 2:3.)

Psalm 75:4-5. I said — With authority and command; unto the fools — The wicked: I charged them; Deal not foolishly — Desist from your impious and injurious practices, which shall not now go unpunished as they have done. Lift not up your horn, &c. — Do not carry yourselves with pride and arrogance, boasting of your own strength; or with scorn and contempt toward me or any others of God’s people. It is a metaphor taken from untamed oxen, which will not bow their heads to receive the yoke, but lift up their heads and horns to avoid it. Or, למרום, lammarom, rendered, on high, means, against the high one, that is, against God, who is mentioned under this same title, Psalm 56:2; Isaiah 57:15. Speak not —

Against me and my government; with a stiff neck — With pride and contempt of my person, and with rebellion against God’s will declared concerning my advancement, of which you are not ignorant: see 2 Samuel 3:17-18.75:1-5 We often pray for mercy, when in pursuit of it; and shall we only once or twice give thanks, when we obtain it? God shows that he is nigh to us in what we call upon him for. Public trusts are to be managed uprightly. This may well be applied to Christ and his government. Man's sin threatened to destroy the whole creation; but Christ saved the world from utter ruin. He who is made of God to us wisdom, bids us be wise. To the proud, daring sinners he says, Boast not of your power, persist not in contempt. All the present hopes and future happiness of the human race spring from the Son of God.I said unto the fools - To the wicked people in rebellion. Folly and wickedness in the Bible are synonymous terms, as they are identical in fact. See the notes at Psalm 14:1.

Deal not foolishly - Act not foolishly; carry not out your wicked plans. Do not pursue your schemes of wickedness and folly, for they cannot be successful, and they will only tend to involve you in ruin.

And to the wicked - The wicked people engaged in rebellion - either against a lawful human government, or against God.

Lift not up the horn - The horn is a symbol of strength. Compare Job 16:15; Daniel 7:7-8, Daniel 7:11, Daniel 7:21; Daniel 8:5, Daniel 8:8-9, Daniel 8:21. This is to be understood as the language of the person represented as speaking in the psalm - whether a prince, or whether God himself. It is counsel addressed to the wicked, that they should not attempt to put forth their strength in the accomplishment of their evil purposes. The reason given for this is stated in Psalm 75:6, namely, that success does not depend on chance, or on human power, but must come from God.

4-8. Here the writer speaks in view of God's declaration, warning the wicked.

Lift … up the horn—to exalt power, here, of the wicked himself—that is, to be arrogant or self-elated.

I said, with authority and command; I charged them.

The fools, i.e. the wicked, as that is explained in the next clause.

Deal not foolishly; desist from your impious and injurious practices, which shall not now go unpunished, as they have done.

Lift not up the horn; do not carry yourselves either arrogantly, boasting of your own strength, or scornfully and maliciously towards me or others of God’s people. I said unto the fools,.... To the vain gloriosos, proud boasters, mockers, and scoffers at the day of judgment, and burning of the world:

deal not foolishly; by glorying in themselves, boasting of their riches, and trusting in them; singing a requiem to themselves on account of their abundance, and by putting away the evil day far from them:

and to the wicked, lift not up the horn; of power, grandeur, and wealth, and use it to the injury of others; or be so elated with it as to look with disdain on others; or imagine they shall always continue in this exalted state, as antichrist the horned beast does, Revelation 18:7, the allusion is to horned beasts, particularly harts, which lift up their heads and horns in great pride (p): the phrase signifies to behave proudly and haughtily.

(p) Vid. "Suidam in voce"

I said unto the fools, Deal not foolishly: and to the wicked, Lift not up the horn:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. I say unto the arrogant, Deal not arrogantly. Cp. Psalm 73:3; Psalm 5:5. Rabshakeh and his colleagues and the Assyrians in general were the very type of such boastful, defiant arrogance (Isaiah 37:23; Isaiah 10:7 ff.; Nahum 1:11).

Lift not up the horn] A metaphor, derived from animals tossing their heads, to denote overweening, defiant self-consciousness of strength.

4, 5. A warning to all presumptuous braggarts, based on the Divine utterances of Psalm 75:2-3. It is disputed whether the speaker is still God, as in Psalm 75:2-3, or the poet, but the latter alternative is preferable. The interposition of Selah marks the end of the Divine speech, and I said naturally introduces a fresh speaker. Moreover there is no break between Psalm 75:5 and Psalm 75:6, but it is clear that God is no longer speaking in Psalm 75:6-7.Verse 4. - I said. It is doubtful who is the speaker. Professor Cheyne regards the entire passage from the beginning of ver. 2 to the end of ver. 5 as spoken by the Almighty; but most commentators assign vers. 4 and 5 to the psalmist or the people of Israel. Unto the fools; i.e. to the enemy which was attacking Israel; literally, to the boasters, or to the arrogant ones (see Revised Version). Deal not foolishly; rather, deal not so arrogantly. Do not set yourselves so proudly against the Almighty. And to the wicked, Lift not up the horn; i.e. be not fierce and menacing, like a bull who threatens with his horns. The poet, after he has thus consoled himself by the contemplation of the power of God which He has displayed for His people's good as their Redeemer, and for the good of the whole of mankind as the Creator, rises anew to prayer, but all the more cheerfully and boldly. Since ever present facts of creation have been referred to just now, and the historical mighty deeds of God only further back, זאת refers rather forwards to the blaspheming of the enemies which He suffers now to go on unpunished, as though He took no cognizance of it. חרף has Pasek after it in order to separate the word, which signifies reviling, from the most holy Name. The epithet עם־נבל reminds one of Deuteronomy 32:21. In Psalm 74:19 according to the accents חיּת is the absolute state (the primary form of חיּה, vid., on Psalm 61:1): give not over, abandon not to the wild beast (beasts), the soul of Thy turtle-dove. This is probably correct, since לחיּת נפשׁ, "to the eager wild beast," this inversion of the well-known expression נפשׁ חיּה, which on the contrary yields the sense of vita animae, is an improbable and exampleless expression. If נפשׁ were intended to be thus understood, the poet might have written אל־תתן לנפשׁ חיּה תורך, "give not Thy turtle-dove over to the desire of the wild beast." Hupfeld thinks that the "old, stupid reading" may be set right at one stroke, inasmuch as he reads אל תתן לנפש חית תורך, and renders it "give not to rage the life Thy turtle-dove;" but where is any support to be found for this לנפשׁ, "to rage," or rather (Psychology, S. 202; tr. p. 239) "to eager desire?" The word cannot signify this in such an isolated position. Israel, which is also compared to a dove in Psalm 68:14, is called a turtle-dove (תּור). In Psalm 74:19 חיּת has the same signification as in Psalm 74:19, and the same sense as Psalm 68:11 (cf. Psalm 69:37): the creatures of Thy miserable ones, i.e., Thy poor, miserable creatures - a figurative designation of the ecclesia pressa. The church, which it is the custom of the Asaphic Psalms to designate with emblematical names taken from the animal world, finds itself now like sheep among wolves, and seems to itself as if it were forgotten by God. The cry of prayer הבּט לבּרית comes forth out of circumstances such as were those of the Maccabaean age. בּרית is the covenant of circumcision (Genesis 17); the persecution of the age of the Seleucidae put faith to the severe test, that circumcision, this sign which was the pledge to Israel of God's gracious protection, became just the sign by which the Syrians knew their victims. In the Book of Daniel, Daniel 11:28, Daniel 11:30, cf. Psalm 22:32, ברית is used directly of the religion of Israel and its band of confessors. The confirmatory clause Psalm 74:20 also corresponds to the Maccabaean age, when the persecuted confessors hid themselves far away in the mountains (1 Macc. 2:26ff., 2 Macc. 6:11), but were tracked by the enemy and slain, - at that time the hiding-places (κρύφοι, 1 Macc. 1:53) of the land were in reality full of the habitations of violence. The combination נאות חמס is like נאות השׁלום, Jeremiah 25:37, cf. Genesis 6:11. From this point the Psalm draws to a close in more familiar Psalm - strains. אל־ישׁב, Psalm 74:21, viz., from drawing near to Thee with their supplications. "The reproach of the foolish all the day" is that which incessantly goes forth from them. עלה תּמיד, "going up (1 Samuel 5:12, not: increasing, 1 Kings 22:35) perpetually," although without the article, is not a predicate, but attributive (vid., on Psalm 57:3). The tone of the prayer is throughout temperate; this the ground upon which it bases itself is therefore all the more forcible.
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