Psalm 84:5
Blessed is the man whose strength is in you; in whose heart are the ways of them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5-7) In these verses, as in the analogous picture (Isaiah 35:6-8; comp. Hosea 2:15-16), there is a blending of the real and the figurative; the actual journey towards Sion is represented as accompanied with ideal blessings of peace and refreshment. It is improbable that the poet would turn abruptly from the description of the swallows in the Temple to what looks like a description of a real journey, with a locality, or at all events a district, which was well known, introduced by its proper name, and yet intend only a figurative reference. On the other hand, it is quite in the Hebrew manner to mix up the ideal with the actual, and to present the spiritual side by side with the literal. We have, then, here recorded the actual experience of a pilgrim’s route. But quite naturally and correctly has the world seen in it a description of the pilgrimage of life, and drawn from it many a sweet and consoling lesson.

(5) Blessed is the man.—Or collective, men, as the suffix, their hearts, shows.

Ways.—From a root meaning to cast up—and so highways marked by the heaps of stone piled up at the side (Isaiah 57:14). In Jeremiah 18:15 mere footways or bypaths are contrasted, and so the highway lends itself as a metaphor for the way of peace and righteousness (Proverbs 12:28), as it is taken here by the Chaldee and some modern expositors. But this moral intention is secondary to the actual desire to join the pilgrim band towards Sion, and this the verse describes in words which are echoed exactly in our own Chaucer:

“So pricketh hem Nature in her corages (in their hearts)

Than longen folk to go on pilgrimages.”

The well-known and deeply loved route to the sacred shrine is in their minds, their hearts are set upon it.

Psalms

HAPPY PILGRIMS

Psalm 84:5 - Psalm 84:7
.

Rightly rendered, the first words of these verses are not a calm, prosaic statement, but an emotional exclamation. The Psalmist’s tone would be more truly represented if we read, ‘How blessed is the man,’ or ‘Oh, the blessednesses!’ for that is the literal rendering of the Hebrew words, ‘of the man whose strength is Thee.’

There are three such exclamations in this psalm, the consideration of which leads us far into the understanding of its deepest meaning. The first of them is this, ‘How blessed are they that dwell in Thy house!’ Of course the direct allusion is to actual presence in the actual Temple at Jerusalem. But these old psalmists, though they attached more importance to external forms than we do, were not so bound by them, even at their stage of development of the religious life, as that they conceived that no communion with God was possible apart from the form, or that the form itself was communion with God. We can see gleaming through all their words, though only gleaming through them, the same truth which Jesus Christ couched in the immortal phrase-the charter of the Church’s emancipation from all externalisms-’neither in this mountain, nor yet in Jerusalem, shall men worship the Father.’ To ‘dwell in the house of the Lord’ is not only to be present in bodily form in the Temple-the Psalmist did not think that it was only that-but to possess communion with Him, of which the external presence is but the symbol, the shadow, and the means.

But there is another blessing. To be there is blessing, to wish to be there is no less so.-’Blessed are the men in whose heart are the ways.’ The joyous company that went up from every corner of the land to the feasts in Jerusalem made the paths ring with their songs as they travelled, and as the prophet says about another matter, ‘they went up to Zion with songs and joy upon their heads,’ and so the search after is only a shade less blessed-if it be even that-than the possession of communion with God.

But there is a third blessedness in our psalm. ‘Oh! the blessedness of the man that trusteth in Thee.’ That includes and explains both the others. It confirms what I have said, that we do great injustice to the beauty and the spirituality of the Old Testament religion, if we conceive of it as slavishly tied to external forms. And it suggests the thought that in trust there lie both the previous elements, for he that trusts possesses, and he that trustingly possesses is thereby impelled as trustingly to seek for, larger gifts.

So, then, I turn to this outline sketch of the happy pilgrims on the road, and desire to gather from it, as simply as may be, the stimulating thoughts which it suggests to us.

I. Let me ask you, then, following the words which I have read to you, to look with me, first at the blessedness of the pilgrims’ spirit.

‘Blessed are the men in whose heart are the ways.’ A singular expression, and yet a very eloquent and significant one! ‘The ways’ are, of course, the various roads which, from every corner of the land, lead to the Temple, and the thought suggested is that the men whom the Psalmist pronounces blessed, and in whose blessednesses his longing heart desires to share, are the men who are restless till they are on the path, whose eyes are ever travelling to the goal, who have a ‘divine discontent’ with distance from God, and who know the impulse and the sting that sends them ever travelling on the path that leads to Him.

On any lower level it is perfectly true that the very salt of life is aspiration after an unattained ideal; that there is nothing that so keeps a man young, strong, buoyant, and fits him for nobilities of action, as that there shall be gleaming for ever before him in the beckoning distance a horizon that moves ever as he moves. When we cease to be the slaves of unattained ideals in any department, it is time for us to die; indeed, we are dead already. There are men in every civilised country, with the gipsy strain in their blood, who never can be at rest until they are in motion, to whom a settled abode is irksome, and to whom the notion of blessedness is that they shall be out in the free plains. ‘Amplius,’ the dying Xavier’s word, ‘further afield,’ is the motto of all noble life-scientist, scholar, artist, man of letters, man of affairs; all come under the same law, that unless there is something before them which has dominated their hearts, and draws their whole being towards it, their lives want salt, want nobility, want freshness, and a green scum comes over the pool. We all know that. To live is to aspire; to cease to aspire is to die.

Well then, looking all round our horizon there stands out one path for aspiration which is clearly blessed to tread-one path, and one path alone. For, oh brethren! there are needs in all our hearts, deep longings, terrible wounds, dreary solitudes, which can only be appeased and healed and companioned when we are pressing nearer and nearer God, that infinite and divine Source of all blessedness, of all peace and good. To possess God is life; to feel after God is life, too. For that aim is sure, as we shall see, to be satisfied. That aim gives, and it is the only one which does give, adequate occupation for every power of a man’s soul; that aim brings, simultaneously with its being entertained, its being satisfied; for, as I have already said, in the one act of faith there lie both these elements of blessedness-the possession of, and the seeking after, God. The religious life is distinguished from all others in two respects; one is the contemporaneousness and co-existence of desire and fruition, and the other is the impossibility that fruition shall ever be so complete and perfect as that desire shall die. And because thus all my nature may reach out its yearnings to Him, and in reaching out may find that after which it feels, and yet, finding it, must feel after it all the more; therefore, high above all other delights of search, high above all other blessednesses of pilgrimage, high above all the buoyancy and concentration of aim and contempt of hindrances which pour into a soul, before which the unattained ideal burns beckoning and inviting, there stands the blessedness of the man ‘in whose heart are the ways’ which lead to God in Zion.

II. And now notice the blessedness of the pilgrims’ experience.

If you use the Revised Version you will see the changes upon the Authorised which it makes, following the stream of modern critics and commentators, and which may thus be reproduced: ‘Passing through the Valley of Weeping, they make it a place of springs, the rain also covereth it with blessings.’ No doubt the poet is referring here to the actual facts of the pilgrimage to Zion, No doubt, on some one of the roads, there lay a gloomy gorge, the name of which was the Valley of Weeping; either because it dimly commemorated some half-forgotten tragedy long ago, or, more probably, because it was arid and frowning and full of difficulty for the travellers on the march. The Psalmist uses that name with a lofty imaginative freedom, which itself confirms the view that I have taken, that there is something deeper in the psalm than the mere external circumstances of the pilgrimages to the Holy City. For, he says, ‘passing through the Valley of Weeping, they make it a place of springs.’ They, as it were, pour their tears into the wells, and they become sources of refreshment and fertility.

But there are other kinds of moisture than tears and fountains. And so he goes on: ‘the rain also’ from above ‘covereth it with blessings’; the blessings being, I suppose, the waving crops which the poet’s imagination conceives of as springing up all over the else arid ground. Irrigated thus by the pilgrims’ labour, and rained upon thus by God’s gift from heaven, ‘the wilderness rejoices and blossoms as the rose.’

Now, translate that-it scarcely needs translation, I suppose, to anybody who will read the psalm with the least touch of a poetic imagination-translate that, and it just comes to this. If we have in our hearts, as our chief aim, the desire to get closer to God, then our sorrows and our tears will become sources of refreshment and fertility. Ah! how different all our troubles, large and little, look when we take as our great aim in life what is God’s great purpose in giving us life-viz. that we should be moulded into His likeness and enriched by the possession of Himself. That takes the sting out of sorrow, and although it leaves us in no morbid condition of insensibility, it yet makes it possible for us to gather our tears into reservoirs which shall be to us the sources of many a blessing, and many a thankfulness. He puts them into His bottle; we have to put them into our wells. And be sure of this, that if we understood better the meaning of life, that it was all intended to be our road to God, and if we judged of things more from that point of view, we should less frequently be brought to stand by what we call the mysteries of Providence and more able to wring out of them all the rich honey which is stored in them all for us. Not the least of the blessednesses of the pilgrim heart is its power of transmitting the pilgrim’s tears into the pilgrim’s wells. Brothers! do you bring such thoughts to bear on the disappointments, anxieties, sorrows, losses that befall you, be they great or small? If you do, you will have learned, better than I can say it, how strangely grief changes its aspect when it is looked upon as the helper and servant to our progress towards God.

But that is not all. If, with the pilgrims’ hearts, we rightly use our sorrows, we shall not be left to find refreshment and fertilising power only in ourselves, but the benediction of the rain from heaven will come down, and the great Spirit of God will fall upon our hearts, not in a flood that drowns, but broken up into a beneficent mist that falls quietly upon us, and brings with itself the assurance of fertility. And so the secret of turning the desert into abundance, and tears into blessings, lies in having the pilgrim’s heart.

III. Notice the blessedness of the pilgrims’ advance.

‘They go from strength to strength.’ I do not know whether the Psalmist means to use that word ‘strength’ in the significance which it also has in old English, of a fortified place, so that the metaphor would be that from one camp of security, one fortress to another, they journey safe always, because of their protection; or whether he means to use it rather in its plain and simple sense, according to which the significance would be that these happy pilgrims do not get worn out on the journey, as is the wont of men that set out, for instance, from some far corner of India to Mecca, and come in battered and travel-stained, and half dead with their privations, but that the further they go the stronger they become; and on the road gain more vigour than they could ever have gained by ease and indulgence in their homes. But, whichever of these two meanings we may be disposed to adopt, the great thought that comes out of both of them is identical-viz. that this is one of the distinguishing joys of a Christian career of pressing forward to closer communion and conformity with our Lord and Master, in whom God is manifested-viz. that we grow day by day in strength, and that effort does not weaken, but invigorates.

And now I have to put a very plain question. Is that growing strength anything like the general characteristic of us professing Christians? I wonder how many people there are listening to me now that have been members of Christian churches for half a century almost, but are not a bit better than they were away back in the years that they have almost forgotten? I wonder in how many of our cases there has been an arrested development, like that which you will sometimes see in deformed people, the lower limbs all but atrophied? I wonder how many of us are babes of forty years old, and from how many of our minds the very conception of continual growth, as an essential of Christian life, has altogether vanished? Brother! are you any further than you were ten years ago?

I remember once, long ago, when I was on board a sailing ship, that we had baffling winds as we tried to run up the coast; and morning after morning for a week we used to come up on deck, and there were the same windmill, and the same church-tower that we had seen last night, and the night before and the night before that. That is the sort of voyage that a great many of you Christian people are making. There may be motion; there is no progress. Round and round and round you go. That is not the way to get to Zion. ‘They go from strength to strength,’ and unless you are doing that, you know little about the blessedness of the pilgrim heart.

IV. Lastly, note the blessedness of the pilgrims’ arrival.

‘Every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.’ Then there is one road on which whosoever travels is sure to reach his goal. On all others caravans get lost, overwhelmed in a sandstorm, or slain by robbers; and the bleached bones of men and camels lie there on the sand for centuries. This caravan always arrives. For no man ever wanted God who did not possess Him, and the measure of our desire is the prophecy of our possession. Surely it is worth while, even from the point of view of self-interest, to forsake all these lower aims in which success is absolutely problematical, or, while pursuing them as far as duty and necessity require, in and through them, as well as above and beyond them, to press towards the one aim in which failure is impossible. You cannot say about say other course-’Blessed is the man that enters on it, for he is sure to reach what he desires.’ Other goals are elusive; the golden circlet may never drop upon your locks. But there is one path on which all that you seek you shall have, and you are on it if ‘in your hearts are the ways.’

I need not say a word about the ultimate fulfilment of this great promise of our text; how that there is not only in our psalm, gleaming through it, a reference to the communion of earth rather than to the external Presence in the sanctuary, but there is also hinted, though less consciously, to the Psalmist himself, yet necessarily from the nature of the case the perfecting of that earthly communion in the higher house of the Lord in the heavenly Zion. Are all these desires, these longings, these efforts after God which make the nobleness and the blessedness of a life on earth, and which are always satisfied, and yet never satiated, to be crushed into nothingness by the accident of bodily dissolution? Then, then, the darkest of all clouds is drawn over the face of God, and we are brought into a state of absolute intellectual bewilderment as to what life, futile and frail, has been for at all. No, brother! God never gives mouths but He sends meat to fill them; and He has not suffered His children to long after Him, to press after Him, only in order that the partial fulfilment of their desires and yearnings which is possible upon earth should be all their experience.

‘He thinks he was not made to die,

And Thou hast made him; Thou art just.’

Be sure that ‘every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.’

So, brethren! let us take the pilgrim scrip and staff; and be sure of this, that the old blessed word will be fulfilled, that we shall not be lost in the wilderness, where there is no way, nor grope and search after elusive and fleeting good; but that ‘the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads.’Psalm 84:5. Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee — Who trusteth in thee as his only refuge, strength, and portion. Or, who had strength in, or rather, for, (as the Hebrew ב, beth, frequently signifies,) thee; that is, who hath (or who useth, for having is sometimes put for using: see Matthew 13:12; 1 Corinthians 7:2) ability of body, and mind for thee, and for thy service; or for that journey, which he here seems to insinuate, and which in the following words he particularly describes. For it must be remembered, that all the males of Israel were required to come to the tabernacle or temple thrice every year, Exodus 34:23-24; and that some of them lived at a great distance, and consequently, if they went, had to take a long and troublesome journey, which also might sometimes be attended with danger, and other inconveniences; and therefore such as wanted either courage or bodily strength, might be discouraged, or hindered from undertaking it, and so might be deprived of the benefit of enjoying God in his solemn and public worship. Which, though in some cases it might not be their sin, yet surely was a great affliction and infelicity; and, consequently, it was a blessed thing to be free from those impediments, as the psalmist here observes. In whose heart are the ways of them — That is, of those men, who passing, &c., as in Psalm 84:6. But these words, of them, are not in the Hebrew; and, as several learned men have observed, disturb or obscure the sense. Others therefore seem to render the clause better, and more agreeably to the Hebrew text, thus: In whose heart are thy ways, (the pronoun thy being often understood,) namely, those ways which lead to thy house; or, the ways, so called, by way of eminence, the ways of, or to, Zion, (as they are called, Lamentations 1:4,) as appears from Psalm 84:7. Thus the meaning is, Blessed are they whose thoughts and affections are strongly fixed upon the highways leading to Zion, and upon their journeys thither; who have both strength of body, as is said in the former clause, and readiness of mind, as is here added, to go to Zion; which are the two qualifications requisite for that journey. Blessed are they whose hearts are so set upon Zion, that they are, from time to time, exciting themselves and others, saying, Arise, let us go up to Zion, unto the Lord our God, Jeremiah 31:6. “Such a company of sojourners are true Christians going up to the heavenly Jerusalem: such ought to be their trust in God, and such the subject of their thoughts.” — Horne.84:1-7 The ordinances of God are the believer's solace in this evil world; in them he enjoys the presence of the living God: this causes him to regret his absence from them. They are to his soul as the nest to the bird. Yet they are only an earnest of the happiness of heaven; but how can men desire to enter that holy habitation, who complain of Divine ordinances as wearisome? Those are truly happy, who go forth, and go on in the exercise of religion, in the strength of the grace of Jesus Christ, from whom all our sufficiency is. The pilgrims to the heavenly city may have to pass through many a valley of weeping, and many a thirsty desert; but wells of salvation shall be opened for them, and consolations sent for their support. Those that press forward in their Christian course, shall find God add grace to their graces. And those who grow in grace, shall be perfect in glory.Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee - Not merely are they blessed who dwell there permanently, but the man also whose heart is there; who feels that his strength is in God alone who loves to go there when opportunity is afforded him, treading his way to Zion. The idea is, that all strength must come from God; that this Strength is to be obtained by waiting on him (compare the notes at Isaiah 40:31), and that, therefore, it is a privilege thus to wait on God. Compare Psalm 84:7.

In whose heart are the ways of them - literally, "The ways in their heart." DeWette renders this, "Who thinketh on the ways, or paths, to Jerusalem." The word "ways" may refer either to the ways or paths that lead to the place of worship, or the ways to God and to heaven. As the allusion, however, is evidently to those who were accustomed to go up to the place of public worship, the meaning is, that the man is blessed or happy whose heart is on those ways; who thinks on them; who makes preparation for going up; who purposes thus to go up to worship. The sense is enfeebled in our translation by the insertion of the words "of them." The literal translation is better: "The ways, that is, the paths, the going up, the journey, to the place of public worship, are in their heart." Their affections; their thoughts are there. The word rendered ways, means commonly a raised way, a highway, but it may refer to any public path. It would be applicable to what we call a turnpike (road), as a way thrown up for public use. The allusion is to the ways or paths by which the people commonly went up to the place of public worship; and the idea may be well expressed in the language of Watts:

"I love her gates, I love the road."

The sentiment thus expressed finds a response in thousands of hearts: in the happiness - the peace - the joy - with which true worshippers go to the house of God. In the mind of the writer of the psalm this would have an additional beauty and attractiveness as being associated with the thought of the multitudes thronging that path - the groups - the companies - the families - that crowded the way to the place of public worship on their great festal occasions.

5. (Compare Ps 68:28).

in whose heart … the ways—that is, who knows and loves the way to God's favor (Pr 16:17; Isa 40:3, 4).

5 Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them.

6 Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools.

7 They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.

8 O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob. Selah.

Psalm 84:5

"Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee." Having spoken of the blessedness of those who reside in the house of God, he now speaks of those who are favoured to visit it at appointed seasons, going upon pilgrimage with their devout brethren: he is not, however, indiscriminate in his eulogy, but speaks only of those who heartily attend to the sacred festivals. The blessedness of sacred worship belongs not to half-hearted, listless worshippers, but to those who throw all their energies into it. Neither prayer, nor praise, nor the hearing of the word will be pleasant or profitable to persons who have left their hearts behind them. A company of pilgrims who had left their hearts at home would be no better than a caravan of carcasses, quite unfit to blend with living saints in adoring the living God. "In whose heart are the ways of them," or far better, "in whose heart are thy ways." Those who love the ways of God are blessed. When we have God's ways in our hearts, and our heart in his ways, we are what and where we should be, and hence we shall enjoy the divine approval.

Psalm 84:6

"Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well." Traversing joyfully the road to the great assembly, the happy pilgrims found refreshment even in the dreariest part of the road. As around a well men meet and converse cheerfully, being refreshed after their journey, so even in the vale of tears, or any other dreary glen, the pilgrims to the skies find sweet solace in brotherly communion and in anticipation of the general assembly above, with its joys unspeakable. Probably there is here a local allusion, which will never now be deciphered, but the general meaning is clear enough. There are joys of pilgrimage which make men forget the discomforts of the road. "The rain also filleth the pools." God gives to his people the supplies they need while traversing the roads which he points out for them. Where there were no natural supplies from below, the pilgrims found an abundant compensation in waters from above, and so also shall all the sacramental host of God's elect. Ways, which otherwise would have been deserted from want of accommodation, were made into highways abundantly furnished for the travellers' wants, because the great annual pilgrimages led in that direction; even so, Christian converse and the joy of united worship make many duties easy and delightful which else had been difficult and painful.

Psalm 84:7

"They go from strength to strength." So far from being wearied they gather strength as they proceed. Each individual becomes happier, each company becomes more numerous, each holy song more sweet and full. We grow as we advance if heaven be our goal. If we spend our strength in God's ways we shall find it increase. "Every one of them in Zion appeareth before God." This was the end of the pilgrims' march, the centre where all met, the delight of all hearts. Not merely to be in the assembly, but to appear before God was the object of each devout Israelite. Would to God it were the sincere desire of all who in these days mingle in our religious gatherings. Unless we realise the presence of God we have done nothing; the mere gathering together is nothing worth.

Psalm 84:8

"O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer." Give me to go up to thy house, or if I may not do so, yet let my cry be heard. Thou listenest to the united supplications of thy saints, but do not shut out my solitary petition, unworthy though I be. "Give ear, O God of Jacob." Though Jehovah of hosts, thou art also the covenant God of solitary pleaders like Jacob; regard thou, then, my plaintive supplication. I wrestle here alone with thee, while the company of thy people have gone on before me to happier scenes, and I beseech thee bless me; for I am resolved to hold thee till thou speak the word of grace into my soul. The repetition of the request for an answer to his prayer denotes his eagerness for a blessing. What a mercy it is that if we cannot gather with the saints, we can still speak to their Master.

Selah. - A pause was needed after a cry so vehement, a prayer so earnest.

Whose strength is in thee; who trusteth in thee as his only strength, and refuge, and portion. Or, who hath strength in (or rather for, as the Hebrew prefix beth is frequently used, as hath been noted again and again) thee, i.e. who hath (or who useth; for having is sometimes put for using; of which see Matthew 13:12 1 Corinthians 7:2) ability of body and mind for thee, and for thy service; or for that journey which here he seems to insinuate, and in the following words and verses he particularly describes. For it must be considered that all the males of Israel were obliged to come to the tabernacle or temple thrice in a year, Exodus 34:23,24, and that some of them lived at a great distance, and consequently were to take a long and troublesome journey, which also might at some times and places be accompanied with hazards and other inconveniences; and therefore such as wanted either courage or bodily strength might be discouraged or hindered from undertaking it, and from the enjoyment of God in his solemn and public worship; which though in some cases it might not be their sin, yet surely it was a great affliction and infelicity; and consequently it was a blessed thing to be freed from those impediments, as the psalmist here observes.

In whose heart are the ways of them, i.e. of these men; for though man be thee singular number, it is understood collectively of all that sort or company of men. But these words, of them, are not in the Hebrew, and, as some learned men have observed, seem to disturb or darken the sense. Others therefore seem to render the words better and more agreeably to the Hebrew text,

in whose heart are thy (which pronoun is oft understood)

ways, to wit, those ways which lead to thy house; or, the ways, so called emphatically, or by way of eminency, the ways of (or, to) Zion, as they are called Lamentations 1:4, as is evident from Psalm 84:7. So the meaning is, Blessed are they whose thoughts and affections are much and strongly fixed upon the highways, and their journeys to Zion, who have both strength of body, as is said in the former branch, and readiness of heart, as is here added, to go to Zion; which are the two qualifications requisite for their journey. Blessed are they whose hearts are set upon Zion and their journeys thither; that are continually, or from time to time, stirring up and bespeaking themselves and others, as they did, Jeremiah 31:6, Arise ye, let us go up to Zion unto the Lord our God. As when a man’s heart is knit in true friendship to one that lives at some distance from him, he is oft thinking with great desire and delight of the place where he dwelleth, and of the way leading to it. Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee, Or, "for thee", as some choose to render the words; who have bodily strength from the Lord, for his worship and service, to go up to his house, and serve him: this, with what follows in the two next verses, seem to refer to the males in Israel going up from different parts of the land to Jerusalem to worship, who had strength so to do; when the women and children, for want thereof, stayed at home, which was their infelicity, as it was the happiness of the males that they had ability for such a journey and service: the Targum is,

"whose strength is in thy Word;''

the essential Word, the Messiah, who have spiritual strength in and from him; see Isaiah 45:24, without this there is no heart to go up to the house of God; and this will carry through a great deal of bodily weakness; and by it saints overcome the temptations of Satan to the contrary, and perform the several duties of religion:

in whose heart are the ways of them; or "thy ways" (x); the ways of God, the ways of Zion, the ways to the house of God; who have these ways at heart, who ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherwards; who have not only ability, but inclination and readiness of mind, to walk in them; whose hearts are bent upon them, regarding no objection, difficulty, and discouragement; who stir up themselves and others to go up to the house of God, and are heartily desirous of being taught his ways, and walking in them, and take great pleasure and delight therein; they are ways of pleasantness and paths of peace to them; the word properly signifies "highways" (y), ways cast up. Some render it "ascensions in his heart" (z); the affections of whose heart go up to God, like pillars of smoke perfumed with frankincense, are after God, his ways and worship, and are set on things above.

(x) "Semitae tuae", Tigurine version; so Kimchi. (y) "viae stratae", Montanus, Cocceius. (z) "Ascensiones in corde suo", V. L. so Sept.

Blessed is the man whose {d} strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them.

(d) Who trusts nothing in himself but in you only, and learns from you to rule his life.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. Happy are the men whose strength is in thee;

In whose hearts are the highways (to Zion).

Happy are those whose minds are wholly set on pilgrimage to Zion. The phrase is peculiar and to Zion must be supplied; but this is preferable to rendering highways are in their hearts, and explaining highways as a metaphor for right ways of life. The Targ., in whose hearts is confidence, is probably only a free paraphrase. Wellhausen would follow the LXX, and read goings up, i.e. pilgrimages. See Introd. p. xxix.

5–8. Yet not only those are happy, who reside within the precincts of the Temple, but those who in the strength of God surmounting every obstacle appear in His Presence and offer their prayers.Verse 5. - Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee. God is the "Strength" of all who trust in him. The psalmist seems to mean that mere dwelling in the house of God is not enough for blessedness. Trust in God - having God for one's Strength - is also requisite (comp. ver. 12). In whose heart are the ways of them; literally, in whose heart are highways. The "highways" intended are probably those of holiness (comp. Proverbs 16:17 and Isaiah 35:8). The aim of the wish is that they in the midst of their downfall may lay hold upon the mercy of Jahve as their only deliverance: first they must come to nought, and only by giving Jahve the glory will they not be utterly destroyed. Side by side with אתּה, v. 19a, is placed שׁמך as a second subject (cf. Psalm 44:3; Psalm 69:11). In view of Psalm 83:17 וידעוּ (as in Psalm 59:14) has not merely the sense of perceiving so far as the justice of the punishment is concerned; the knowledge which is unto salvation is not excluded. The end of the matter which the poet wishes to see brought about is this, that Jahve, that the God of revelation (שׁמך), may become the All-exalted One in the consciousness of the nations.
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