Will you not revive us again: that your people may rejoice in you?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Psalm 85:6. Wilt thou not revive us again? — Thou hast once revived us in bringing us out of captivity; give us a second reviving, in bringing home the rest of our brethren, and in rebuking and restraining the remainder of our enemies’ wrath. Revive us with encouraging and comfortable words spoken to us, revive us with gracious and desired deliverances wrought for us. That thy people may rejoice in thee — Quicken and give them life, that they may have joy: and that their joy, being derived from thee, may terminate in thee. “If God,” says Henry, “be the fountain of all our mercies, he must be the centre of all our joys.”
That thy people may rejoice in thee - In thy favor; in thy presence; in thee as their God.
(a) There is always joy in a revival of religion. Nothing is so much suited to make a people happy; nothing diffuses so much joy. Compare Acts 8:8.Ezra 9:8 and the conversion of them in the latter day will be a reviving them again, be as life from the dead; they are like the dry bones in Ezekiel's vision, or like the dead in the graves; and their being turned to the Lord will be a resurrection, or quickening of them, as every instance of conversion is; see Romans 11:15, men are dead in trespasses and sins, and they are quickened by the Spirit and grace of God, so that they revive, and live a life of sanctification; they are dead in law, and find themselves to be so, when spiritually enlightened; when the Spirit of God works faith in them, to look to and live upon the righteousness of Christ for justification; and who, after spiritual decays, declensions, and deadness, are revived again, and are made cheerful and comfortable by the same Spirit; all which may be here intended:
that thy people may rejoice in thee; it was a time of rejoicing in the Lord, when the Jews were returned from their captivity in Babylon; but their future conversion will be matter of greater joy, both to themselves and to the Gentiles; everlasting joy will be upon their heads, and in their hearts, when they shall return to Zion, Psalm 14:7 and so is the conversion of every sinner joyful to himself and to others; such rejoice in Christ, in his person, blood, and righteousness; and every view of him afterwards, as it is a reviving time, it fills with joy unspeakable, and full of glory: the Targum is,
"and thy people shall rejoice in thy Word;''Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)6. Wilt thou not revive us again] Wilt not thou turn and quicken us? restoring our national life according to the promises of the prophets. See Hosea 6:2; Habakkuk 2:4; Ezekiel 37:3 ff. Cp. Psalm 71:20; Psalm 80:18. Thou is emphatic. Thou Who alone canst, Thou Who art pledged to it by Thy word.Verse 6. - Wilt thou not revive us again! literally, wilt thou not return and revive us? (comp. Psalm 71:20). So Ezra prays God to "give Israel a little reviving in their bondage" (Ezra 9:8). That thy people may rejoice in thee. The "revival" and "rejoicing" came in Nehemiah's time, when the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem was kept "with gladness, both with thanksgiving, and with singing, with cymbals, psalteries, and with harps" (Nehemiah 12:27). Psalm 84:6 is less adapted to be the object of the being called blessed than the result of that blessed relationship to God. What follows shows that the "high-roads" are not to be understood according to Isaiah 40:3., or any other passage, as an ethical, notional figure (Venema, Hengstenberg, Hitzig, and others), but according to Isaiah 33:8 (cf. Jeremiah 31:21), with Aben-Ezra, Vatablus, and the majority of expositors, of the roads leading towards Zion; not, however, as referring to the return from the Exile, but to the going up to a festival: the pilgrim-high-roads with their separate halting-places (stations) were constantly present to the mind of such persons. And though they may be driven never so far away from them, they will nevertheless reach the goal of their longing. The most gloomy present becomes bright to them: passing through even a terrible wilderness, they turn it (ישׁיתהו) into a place of springs, their joyous hope and the infinite beauty of the goal, which is worth any amount of toil and trouble, afford them enlivening comfort, refreshing strengthening in the midst of the arid steppe. עמק הבּכא does not signify the "Valley of weeping," as Hupfeld at last renders it (lxx κοιλάδα τοῦ κλαυθμῶνος), although Burckhardt found a [Arab.] wâdı̂ 'l-bk' (Valley of weeping) in the neighbourhood of Sinai. In Hebrew "weeping" is בּכי, בּכה, בּכוּת, not בּכא, Rnan, in the fourth chapter of his Vie de Jsus, understands the expression to mean the last station of those who journey from northern Palestine on this side of the Jordan towards Jerusalem, viz., Ain el-Haramı̂je, in a narrow and gloomy valley where a black stream of water flows out of the rocks in which graves are dug, so that consequently עמק הככא signifies Valley of tears or of trickling waters. But such trickling out of the rock is also called בּכי, Job 28:11, and not בּכא. This latter is the singular to בּכאים in 2 Samuel 5:24 (cf. נכאים, צבאים, Psalm 103:21), the name of a tree, and, according to the old Jewish lexicographers, of the mulberry-tree (Talmudic תּוּת, Arab. tût); but according to the designation, of a tree from which some kind of fluid flows, and such a tree is the Arab. baka'un, resembling the balsam-tree, which is very common in the arid valley of Mecca, and therefore might also have given its name to some arid valley of the Holy Land (vid., Winer's Realwrterbuch, s.v. Bacha), and, according to 2 Samuel 5:22-25, to one belonging, as it would appear, to the line of valley which leads from the coasts of the Philistines to Jerusalem. What is spoken of in passages like Isaiah 35:7; Isaiah 41:18, as being wrought by the omnipotence of God, who brings His people home to Zion, appears here as the result of the power of faith in those who, keeping the same end of their journeyings in view, pass through the unfruitful sterile valley. That other side, however, also does not remain unexpressed. Not only does their faith bring forth water out of the sand and rock of the desert, but God also on His part lovingly anticipates their love, and rewardingly anticipates their faithfulness: a gentle rain, like that which refreshes the sown fields in the autumn, descends from above and enwraps it (viz., the Valley of Baca) in a fulness of blessing (יעטּה, Hiphil with two accusatives, of which one is to be supplied: cf. on the figure, Psalm 65:14). The arid steppe becomes resplendent with a flowery festive garment (Isaiah 35:1.), not to outward appearance, but to them spiritually, in a manner none the less true and real. And whereas under ordinary circumstances the strength of the traveller diminishes in proportion as he has traversed more and more of his toilsome road, with them it is the very reverse; they go from strength to strength (cf. on the expression, Jeremiah 9:2; Jeremiah 12:2), i.e., they receive strength for strength (cf. on the subject-matter, Isaiah 40:31; John 1:16), and that an ever increasing strength, the nearer they come to the desired goal, which also they cannot fail to reach. The pilgrim-band (this is the subject to יראה), going on from strength to (אל) strength, at last reaches, attains to (אל instead of the אל־פּני used in other instances) Elohim in Zion. Having reached this final goal, the pilgrim-band pours forth its heart in the language of prayer such as we have in Psalm 84:9, and the music here strikes up and blends its sympathetic tones with this converse of the church with its God.
The poet, however, who in spirit accompanies them on their pilgrimage, is now all the more painfully conscious of being at the present time far removed from this goal, and in the next strophe prays for relief. He calls God מגנּנוּ (as in Psalm 59:12), for without His protection David's cause is lost. May He then behold (ראה, used just as absolutely as in 2 Chronicles 24:22, cf. Lamentations 3:50), and look upon the face of His anointed, which looks up to Him out of the depth of its reproach. The position of the words shows that מגנּנוּ is not to be regarded as the object to ראה, according to Psalm 89:19 (cf. Psalm 47:10) and in opposition to the accentuation, for why should it not then have been אלהים ראה מגננו? The confirmation (Psalm 84:11) puts the fact that we have before us a Psalm belonging to the time of David's persecution by Absalom beyond all doubt. Manifestly, when his king prevails, the poet will at the same time (cf. David's language, 2 Samuel 15:25) be restored to the sanctuary. A single day of his life in the courts of God is accounted by him as better than a thousand other days (מאלף with Olewejored and preceded by Rebia parvum). He would rather lie down on the threshold (concerning the significance of this הסתּופף in the mouth of a Korahite, vid., supra, p. 311) in the house of his God than dwell within in the tents of ungodliness (not "palaces," as one might have expected, if the house of God had at that time been a palace). For how worthless is the pleasure and concealment to be had there, when compared with the salvation and protection which Jahve Elohim affords to His saints! This is the only instance in which God is directly called a sun (שׁמשׁ) in the sacred writings (cf. Sir. 42:16). He is called a shield as protecting those who flee to Him and rendering them inaccessible to their foes, and a sun as the Being who dwells in an unapproachable light, which, going forth from Him in love towards men, is particularized as חן and כבוד, as the gentle and overpowering light of the grace and glory (χάρις and δόξα) of the Father of Lights. The highest good is self-communicative (communicativum sui). The God of salvation does not refuse any good thing to those who walk בּתמים (בּדרך תמים, Psalm 101:6; cf. on Psalm 15:2). Upon all receptive ones, i.e., all those who are desirous and capable of receiving His blessings, He freely bestows them out of the abundance of His good things. Strophe and anti-strophe are doubled in this second half of the song. The epode closely resembles that which follows the first half. And this closing ashrê is not followed by any Sela. The music is hushed. The song dies away with an iambic cadence into a waiting expectant stillness.
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