Psalm 83:14
As the fire burneth a wood, and as the flame setteth the mountains on fire;
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(14, 15) These verses are rightly taken together. The figure occurs in Isaiah 10:17-18 (comp. Zechariah 12:6), but there as a metaphor; here as a simile. “Before the rains came the whole mountain side was in a blaze. Thorns and briars grow so luxuriantly here that they must be burned off always before the plough can operate. The peasants watch for a high wind, and then the fire catches easily, and spreads with great rapidity” (Thomson, Land and Book, p. 341). The mountains are pre-eminently the pastures. (Comp. Psalm 50:10; Psalm 147:8.)

83:9-18 All who oppose the kingdom of Christ may here read their doom. God is the same still that ever he was; the same to his people, and the same against his and their enemies. God would make their enemies like a wheel; unsettled in all their counsels and resolves. Not only let them be driven away as stubble, but burnt as stubble. And this will be the end of wicked men. Let them be made to fear thy name, and perhaps that will bring them to seek thy name. We should desire no confusion to our enemies and persecutors but what may forward their conversion. The stormy tempest of Divine vengeance will overtake them, unless they repent and seek the pardoning mercy of their offended Lord. God's triumphs over his enemies, clearly prove that he is, according to his name JEHOVAH, an almighty Being, who has all power and perfection in himself. May we fear his wrath, and yield ourselves to be his willing servants. And let us seek deliverance by the destruction of our fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.As the fire burneth a wood ... - The same idea is here presented under another form. No image of desolation is more fearful than that of fire raging in a forest; or of fire on the mountains. As trees and shrubs and grass fall before such a flame, so the prayer is, that they who had combined against the people of God might be swept away by his just displeasure. 14, 15. Pursue them to an utter destruction. The mountains; understand by a metonymy the woods or forests upon the mountains, which in those hot countries, when they had once taken fire, either by lightning, or by the design of men, or by any accident, did burn with great speed and irresistible violence.

As the fire burneth the wood,.... Or "forest" (m); which is sometimes done purposely, and sometimes through carelessness, as Virgil (n) observes; and which is done very easily and swiftly, when fire is set to it; even all the trees of it, great and small, to which an army is sometimes compared, Isaiah 10:18, and as the flame setteth the mountains on fire; either the mountains themselves, as Etna, Vesuvius, and others; or rather the grass and trees that grow upon them, smitten by lightning from heaven, which may be meant by the flame: in like manner it is wished that the fire and flame of divine wrath would consume the confederate enemies of Israel, above mentioned; as wicked men are but as trees of the forest, and the grass of the mountains, or as thorns and briers, to the wrath of God, which is poured out as fire, and is signified by everlasting burnings.

(m) "sylvam", Montanus, Tigurine version, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, &c. (n) Georgic. l. 2. v. 310.

As the fire burneth a wood, and as the flame setteth the mountains on fire;
14, 15. As fire that consumeth a forest,

And as flame that burneth up mountains;

So shalt thou pursue them with thy tempest,

And dismay them with thy hurricane.

God’s wrath is a fiery blast which at once kindles and fans the flame (Isaiah 29:6; Isaiah 30:27; Isaiah 30:30; Isaiah 30:33), and pursues and consumes His enemies like a fire in the forest or on the mountains. “Before the rains came,” says Thomson (Land and Book, p. 341), “this whole mountain side was in a blaze. Thorns and briars grow so luxuriantly here that they must be burned off always before the plough can operate. The peasants watch for a high wind, and then the fire catches easily, and spreads with great rapidity.” Cp. Isaiah 10:16-19; Jeremiah 21:14.

Verse 14. - As the fire burneth a wood, and as the flame setteth the mountains on fire. Cause them, i.e., to consume away and perish, as a burning forest, or as blazing brushwood on a mountainside. Psalm 83:14With the אלהי, which constrains God in faith, the "thundering down" begins afresh. גּלגּל signifies a wheel and a whirling motion, such as usually arises when the wind changes suddenly, then also whatever is driven about in the whirling, Isaiah 17:13.

(Note: Saadia, who renders the גּלגּל in Psalm 77:19 as an astronomical expression with Arab. 'l-frk, the sphere of the heavens, here has professedly Arab. kâlgrâblt, which would be a plural from expanded out of Arab. grâbı̂l, "sieves" or "tambourines;" it is, however, to be read, as in Isaiah 17:13, Codex Oxon., Arab. kâlgirbâlt. The verb Arab. garbala, "to sift," is transferred to the wind, e.g., in Mutanabbi (edited with Wahidi's commentary by Dieterici), p. 29, l. 5 and 6: "it is as though the dust of this region, when the winds chase one another therein, were sifted," Arab. mugarbalu (i.e., caught up and whirled round); and with other notional and constructional applications in Makkarı̂, i. p. 102, l. 18: "it is as though its soil had been cleansed from dust by sifting," Arab. gurbilat (i.e., the dust thereof swept away by a whirlwind). Accordingly Arab. girbâlat signifies first, as a nom. vicis, a whirling about (of dust by the wind), then in a concrete sense a whirlwind, as Saadia uses it, inasmuch as he makes use of it twice for גּלגּל. So Fleischer in opposition to Ewald, who renders "like the sweepings or rubbish.")

קשׁ (from קשׁשׁ, Arab. qšš, aridum esse) is the cry corn-talks, whether as left standing or, as in this instance, as straw upon the threshing-floor or upon the field. Like a fire that spreads rapidly, laying hold of everything, which burns up the forest and singes off the wooded mountain so that only a bare cone is left standing, so is God to drive them before Him in the raging tempest of His wrath and take them unawares. The figure in Psalm 83:15 is fully worked up by Isaiah, Isaiah 10:16-19; לחט as in Deuteronomy 32:22. In the apodosis, Psalm 83:16, the figure is changed into a kindred one: wrath is a glowing heat (חרון) and a breath (נשׁמה, Isaiah 30:33) at the same time. In Psalm 83:17 it becomes clear what is the final purpose towards which this language of cursing tends: to the end that all, whether willingly or reluctantly, may give the glory to the God of revelation. Directed towards this end the earnest prayer is repeated once more in the tetrastichic closing strain.

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