Let my prayer come before you: incline your ear to my cry;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Incline thine ear unto my cry - See the notes at Psalm 5:1.
Ps 88:1-18. Upon Mahalath—either an instrument, as a lute, to be used as an accompaniment (Leannoth, "for singing") or, as others think, an enigmatic title (see on Ps 5:1, Ps 22:1, and Ps 45:1, titles), denoting the subject—that is, "sickness or disease, for humbling," the idea of spiritual maladies being often represented by disease (compare Ps 6:5, 6; 22:14, 15, &c.). On the other terms, see on Ps 42:1 and Ps 32:1. Heman and Ethan (see on Ps 89:1, title) were David's singers (1Ch 6:18, 33; 15:17), of the family of Kohath. If the persons alluded to (1Ki 4:31; 1Ch 2:6), they were probably adopted into the tribe of Judah. Though called a song, which usually implies joy (Ps 83:1), both the style and matter of the Psalm are very despondent; yet the appeals to God evince faith, and we may suppose that the word "song" might be extended to such compositions.
1, 2. Compare on the terms used, Ps 22:2; 31:2.Revelation 8:3,
incline thine ear unto my cry; hearken to it, receive it, and give an answer to it; Christ's prayers were attended with strong crying, and were always received and heard, Hebrews 5:7.Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)2. come before thee] Enter into thy presence (R.V. from P.B.V.). Cp. Psalm 18:6; Psalm 79:11.
my prayer … my cry] Cp. Psalm 17:1; Psalm 61:1. The word for ‘cry’ denotes a shrill piercing cry, frequently of joy, but sometimes, as here, of supplication, “expressive of emotional excitement such as an Eastern scruples not to use in prayer” (Cheyne).Verse 2. - Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry (comp. Psalm 86:1, 6). Psalm 87:2 a new synonymous object is subordinated to אהב by a similar turn of the discourse to Jeremiah 13:27; Jeremiah 6:2 (Hitzig). By altering the division of the verses as Hupfeld and Hofmann do (His foundation or founded city upon the holy mountains doth Jahve love), Psalm 87:2 is decapitated. Even now the God-founded city (surrounded on three sides by deep valleys), whose firm and visible foundation is the outward manifestation of its imperishable inner nature, rises aloft above all the other dwelling-places of Israel. Jahve stands in a lasting, faithful, loving relationship (אהב, not 3 praet. אהב) to the gates of Zion. These gates are named as a periphrasis for Zion, because they bound the circuit of the city, and any one who loves a city delights to go frequently through its gates; and they are perhaps mentioned in prospect of the fulness of the heathen that shall enter into them. In Psalm 87:3 the lxx correctly, and at the same time in harmony with the syntax, renders: Δεδοξασμένα ἐλαλήθη περὶ σοῦ. The construction of a plural subject with a singular predicate is a syntax common in other instances also, whether the subject is conceived of as a unity in the form of the plural (e.g., Psalm 66:3; Psalm 119:137; Isaiah 16:8), or is individualized in the pursuance of the thought (as is the case most likely in Genesis 27:29, cf. Psalm 12:3); here the glorious things are conceived of as the sum-total of such. The operation of the construction of the active (Ew. 295, b) is not probable here in connection with the participle. בּ beside דּבּר may signify the place or the instrument, substance and object of the speech (e.g., Psalm 119:46), but also the person against whom the words are spoken (e.g., Psalm 50:20), or concerning whom they are uttered (as the words of the suitor to the father or the relatives of the maiden, 1 Samuel 25:39; Sol 8:8; cf. on the construction, 1 Samuel 19:3). The poet, without doubt, here refers to the words of promise concerning the eternal continuance and future glory of Jerusalem: Glorious things are spoken, i.e., exist as spoken, in reference to thee, O thou city of God, city of His choice and of His love.
The glorious contents of the promise are now unfolded, and that with the most vivid directness: Jahve Himself takes up the discourse, and declares the gracious, glorious, world-wide mission of His chosen and beloved city: it shall become the birth-place of all nations. Rahab is Egypt, as in Psalm 89:11; Isaiah 30:7; Isaiah 51:9, the southern worldly power, and Babylon the northern. הזכּיר, as frequently, of loud (Jeremiah 4:16) and honourable public mention or commemoration, Psalm 45:18. It does not signify "to record or register in writing;" for the official name מזכּיר, which is cited in support of this meaning, designates the historian of the empire as one who keeps in remembrance the memorable events of the history of his time. It is therefore impossible, with Hofmann, to render: I will add Rahab and Babylon to those who know me. In general ל is not used to point out to whom the addition is made as belonging to them, but for what purpose, or as what (cf. 2 Samuel 5:3; Isaiah 4:3), these kingdoms, hitherto hostile towards God and His people, shall be declared: Jahve completes what He Himself has brought about, inasmuch as He publicly and solemnly declares them to be those who know Him, i.e., those who experimentally (vid., Psalm 36:11) know Him as their God. Accordingly, it is clear that זה ילּד־שׁם is also meant to refer to the conversion of the other three nations to whom the finger of God points with הנּה, viz., the war-loving Philistia, the rich and proud Tyre, and the adventurous and powerful Ethiopia (Isaiah 18:1-7). זה does not refer to the individuals, nor to the sum-total of these nations, but to nation after nation (cf. זה העם, Isaiah 23:13), by fixing the eye upon each one separately. And שׁם refers to Zion. The words of Jahve, which come in without any intermediary preparation, stand in the closest connection with the language of the poet and seer. Zion appears elsewhere as the mother who brings forth Israel again as a numerous people (Isaiah 66:7; Psalm 54:1-3): it is the children of the dispersion (diaspora) which Zion regains in Isaiah 60:4.; here, however, it is the nations which are born in Zion. The poet does not combine with it the idea of being born again in the depth of its New Testament meaning; he means, however, that the nations will attain a right of citizenship in Zion (πολιτεία τοῦ Ἰσραήλ, Ephesians 2:12) as in their second mother-city, that they will therefore at any rate experience a spiritual change which, regarded from the New Testament point of view, is the new birth out of water and the Spirit.
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