Psalm 81:14
I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries.
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Psalm 81:14-15. I would soon have subdued their enemies — Both those remaining Canaanites, whom now, for their unbelief and apostacy, I have left in the land, to be snares and plagues to them, and also all their encroaching and vexatious neighbours, who have so often invaded and laid waste their country. The haters of the Lord — The enemies of God’s people, such as the neighbouring nations were; should have submitted themselves — Should have owned and professed their subjection to them, if not also have become proselytes to the true religion. He terms them haters of the Lord, partly because they hated the Israelites for God’s sake, and on account of the singularity of their worship, as the heathen often declared; and partly to show the close union and solemn league and covenant which were between God and them, by virtue of which God had declared he would account their friends to be his friends, and their enemies to be his enemies. But their time — That is, Israel’s time, meaning, either, 1st, Their happy time, life being often put for a happy life or state; or, rather, 2d, The duration of their commonwealth; should have endured for ever — Should have lasted for a long time; whereas now their latter and doleful end is hastening toward them. It may be proper to observe here the original expression, rendered, should have submitted themselves to him, is, יכחשׁו לו, jecachashu lo, which, as we have more than once had occasion to observe, signifies, should have lied unto him, that is, spoken fair, fawned, and pretended great respect to the Jewish people and their God, though in reality they hated them both. In this sense the words are understood by Bishop Patrick, whose paraphrase upon the verse is well worth transcribing. “All that maligned their prosperity,” (the prosperity of Israel,) “and set themselves against the design of the Lord, to make them victorious over their enemies, should have been so daunted, that they should have dissembled their inward hatred, and been forced, at least, to counterfeit submission; but his people should have seen blessed days, and have enjoyed a substantial and durable happiness without any interruption.” 81:8-16 We cannot look for too little from the creature, nor too much from the Creator. We may have enough from God, if we pray for it in faith. All the wickedness of the world is owing to man's wilfulness. People are not religious, because they will not be so. God is not the Author of their sin, he leaves them to the lusts of their own hearts, and the counsels of their own heads; if they do not well, the blame must be upon themselves. The Lord is unwilling that any should perish. What enemies sinners are to themselves! It is sin that makes our troubles long, and our salvation slow. Upon the same conditions of faith and obedience, do Christians hold those spiritual and eternal good things, which the pleasant fields and fertile hills of Canaan showed forth. Christ is the Bread of life; he is the Rock of salvation, and his promises are as honey to pious minds. But those who reject him as their Lord and Master, must also lose him as their Saviour and their reward.I should soon have subdued their enemies - This is one of the consequences which, it is said, would have followed if they had been obedient to the laws of God. The phrase rendered soon means literally like a little; that is, as we might say, in a little, to wit, in a little time. The word rendered subdued means to bow down; to be curved or bent; and the idea is, that he would have caused them to bow down, to wit, by submission before them. Compare Deuteronomy 32:29-30.

And turned my hand against their adversaries - Against those who oppressed and wronged them. The act of turning the hand against one is significant of putting him away - repelling him - disowning him - as when we would thrust one away from us with aversion.

13-16. Obedience would have secured all promised blessings and the subjection of foes. In this passage, "should have," "would have," &c., are better, "should" and "would" expressing God's intention at the time, that is, when they left Egypt. Those remainders of the Canaanites whom now for their unbelief and apostacy I have left in the land to be snares and plagues to them. I should soon have subdued their enemies,.... The Canaanites, and others: this he would have done in a very little time, or at once, and that easily, and without any trouble; he would quickly have humbled them, and brought them on their knees, as the word (g) signifies, to terms of peace; for when a man's ways please the Lord, he makes his enemies to be at peace with him, Proverbs 16:7 so those that hearken to the voice of Christ, and walk in his ways, he subdues their iniquities, and will bruise Satan under their feet shortly, and make them more than conquerors: through himself, over the world; the men and things of it he has overcome:

and turned my hand against their adversaries; that troubled, distressed, and oppressed them; and it is a righteous thing with God to render tribulation to them that trouble his people; he turns his chastising hand off of them, which sometimes is heavy upon them, and presses them sore, and turns it in a way of wrath and vindictive justice against their adversaries; and so the Targum,

"and turned the stroke of my power against their adversaries;''

this is the lighting down of his arm with the indignation of his anger, which is intolerable, Isaiah 30:30.

(g) "flecterem", Cocceius.

I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand {l} against their adversaries.

(l) If their sins had not.

14. I should soon subdue their enemies,

And turn my hand against their adversaries.

In my ways is the contrast to in their own counsels. (Jeremiah 7:23-24.) The hand which is now turned against Israel in chastisement would be turned against their enemies.Verse 14. - I should soon have subdued (rather, I should won subdue) their enemies. Israel is still surrounded by enemies, anxious for his destruction. God could subdue them and sweep them away in a moment, if he pleased; and would do so, if Israel would repent and return to him. The appeal is to the living Israel - the Israel of the psalmist's time, which is given one more chance of triumph over its enemies. And turned my hand against their adversaries. Logically, the two clauses should have been inverted, since the subjugation of Israel's enemies would be the effect of God's hand being turned against them. It is a gentle but profoundly earnest festival discourse which God the Redeemer addresses to His redeemed people. It begins, as one would expect in a Passover speech, with a reference to the סבלות of Egypt (Exodus 1:11-14; Exodus 5:4; Exodus 6:6.), and to the duwd, the task-basket for the transport of the clay and of the bricks (Exodus 1:14; Exodus 5:7.).

(Note: In the Papyrus Leydensis i. 346 the Israelites are called the "Aperiu (עברים), who dragged along the stones for the great watch-tower of the city of Rameses," and in the Pap. Leyd. i. 349, according to Lauth, the "Aperiu, who dragged along the stones for the storehouse of the city of Rameses.")

Out of such distress did He free the poor people who cried for deliverance (Exodus 2:23-25); He answered them בּסתר רעם, i.e., not (according to Psalm 22:22; Isaiah 32:2): affording them protection against the storm, but (according to Psalm 18:12; Psalm 77:17.): out of the thunder-clouds in which He at the same time revealed and veiled Himself, casting down the enemies of Israel with His lightnings, which is intended to refer pre-eminently to the passage through the Red Sea (vid., Psalm 77:19); and He proved them (אבחנך, with ŏ contracted from ō, cf. on Job 35:6) at the waters of Merbah, viz., whether they would trust Him further on after such glorious tokens of His power and loving-kindness. The name "Waters of Merı̂bah," which properly is borne only by Merı̂bath Kadesh, the place of the giving of water in the fortieth year (Numbers 20:13; Numbers 27:14; Deuteronomy 32:51; Deuteronomy 33:8), is here transferred to the place of the giving of water in the first year, which was named Massah u-Merı̂bah (Exodus 17:7), as the remembrances of these two miracles, which took place under similar circumstances, in general blend together (vid., on Psalm 95:8.). It is not now said that Israel did not act in response to the expectation of God, who had son wondrously verified Himself; the music, as Seal imports, here rises, and makes a long and forcible pause in what is being said. What now follows further, are, as the further progress of Psalm 81:12 shows, the words of God addressed to the Israel of the desert, which at the same time with its faithfulness are brought to the remembrance of the Israel of the present. העיד בּ, as in Psalm 50:7; Deuteronomy 8:19, to bear testimony that concerns him against any one. אם (according to the sense, o si, as in Psalm 95:7, which is in many ways akin to this Psalm) properly opens a searching question which wishes that the thing asked may come about (whether thou wilt indeed give me a willing hearing?!). In Psalm 81:10 the key-note of the revelation of the Law from Sinai is struck: the fundamental command which opens the decalogue demanded fidelity to Jahve and forbade idol-worship as the sin of sins. אל זר is an idol in opposition to the God of Israel as the true God; and אל נכר, a strange god in opposition to the true God as the God of Israel. To this one God Israel ought to yield itself all the more undividedly and heartily as it was more manifestly indebted entirely to Him, who in His condescension had chosen it, and in His wonder-working might had redeemed it (המּעלך, part. Hiph. with the eh elided, like הפּדך, Deuteronomy 13:6, and אכלך, from כּלּה, Exodus 33:3); and how easy this submission ought to have been to it, since He desired nothing in return for the rich abundance of His good gifts, which satisfy and quicken body and soul, but only a wide-opened mouth, i.e., a believing longing, hungering for mercy and eager for salvation (Psalm 119:131)!

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