Psalm 89:51
Wherewith thine enemies have reproached, O LORD; wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of thine anointed.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(51) Footsteps . . .—Every step taken by Israel was the subject of reproach. Rabbinical writers connect the verse with the delay of the Messiah, since it brings reproach on those who wait for him in vain.

Psalm 89:51. Wherewith thine enemies have reproached the footsteps of thine anointed — Or, of the Messiah. By whom he seems to understand, either, 1st, The kings of Judah, the singular number being put for the plural; and by their footsteps may be meant either their ways or actions, and the sad consequences thereof, or the memorials of their ancient splendour. Or, 2d, The Messiah himself, whose coming the Jews continually expected, for a long time together before he came, and supported themselves with the expectation of him under all their calamities. All which being well known to many of the heathen, they reproached the Jews with the vanity of this belief and expectation. And by the footsteps of the Messiah he may understand his coming.

89:38-52 Sometimes it is not easy to reconcile God's providences with his promises, yet we are sure that God's works fulfil his word. When the great Anointed One, Christ himself, was upon the cross, God seemed to have cast him off, yet did not make void his covenant, for that was established for ever. The honour of the house of David was lost. Thrones and crowns are often laid in the dust; but there is a crown of glory reserved for Christ's spiritual seed, which fadeth not away. From all this complaint learn what work sin makes with families, noble families, with families in which religion has appeared. They plead with God for mercy. God's unchangeableness and faithfulness assure us that He will not cast off those whom he has chosen and covenanted with. They were reproached for serving him. The scoffers of the latter days, in like manner, reproach the footsteps of the Messiah when they ask, Where is the promise of his coming? 2Pe 3:3,4. The records of the Lord's dealings with the family of David, show us his dealings with his church, and with believers. Their afflictions and distresses may be grievous, but he will not finally cast them off. Self-deceivers abuse this doctrine, and others by a careless walk bring themselves into darkness and distress; yet let the true believer rely on it for encouragement in the path of duty, and in bearing the cross. The psalm ends with praise, even after this sad complaint. Those who give God thanks for what he has done, may give him thanks for what he will do. God will follow those with his mercies, who follow him with praises.Wherewith thine enemies have reproached, O Lord - Have reproached thee and me. Wherewith they reproach thy character and cause, and reproach me for having trusted to promises which seem not to be fulfilled. As the representative of thy cause, I am compelled to bear all this, and it breaks my heart.

Wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of thine anointed - Of myself, as the anointed king. They have reproached my footsteps; that is, they have followed me with reproaches - treading along behind me. Wherever I go, wherever I put my foot down in my wanderings, I meet this reproach.

50. bear in my bosom—as feeling the affliction of the people (Ps 69:9).

footsteps—ways (Ps 56:6).

Or, of thy Messiah; by whom he seems to understand either, first, the kings of Judah, the singular number being put for the plural; and by their footsteps may be meant either their ways or actions, and the sad consequences thereof; or the traces or memorials of their ancient splendour and dominion, wherewith they now upbraid them: or rather, secondly, the Messiah, most properly and eminently so called; of whom not only many Christians, but the Chaldee paraphrast and the Hebrew doctors, understand this place. And this suits very well, both with the singular number here used, which points at one particular and eminent person anointed by God to be the king of his people, and with the matter and occasion of this Psalm. For it was universally believed by the Jews, that the Messiah should come of the seed of David, and that by him the ancient glory and power of David’s house should be revived and vastly increased. And this coming of the Messiah the Jews did continually expect for a long time together before he did come, and supported themselves therewith under all their calamities; all which being well known to many of the heathens, they reproached the Jews with the vanity of this belief and expectation. And by the footsteps of the Messiah he may understand his coming, as by the feet or footsteps of ministers, Isaiah 52:7, their coming and bringing the gospel with them is understood.

Wherewith thine enemies have reproached, O Lord,.... Which carries in it another argument why the Lord should take notice of these reproaches; because they come not only from their enemies, but from his also, and the enemies of his Son, who would not have him, the King Messiah, to reign over them, and are said to reproach him in the next clause:

wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of thine Anointed; or thy Messiah; so Aben Ezra and Kimchi interpret it of the Messiah: Jarchi renders it "the ends of the Messiah"; and all of them understand it of the coming of the Messiah, as in the Talmud (d); which, because delayed, or was not so soon as expected, was scoffed at and reproached by wicked men; see Malachi 2:17, but it rather designs the ways and works, actions, and especially the miracles of Christ, which were reproached, either as done on the sabbath day, or by the help of Satan; and he was traduced in his kindest actions to the bodies and souls of men, as a friend of publicans and sinners, and himself as a sinner: and it may have a particular view to the latter end of the Messiah, the last part of his life, his sufferings and death, and when he hung on the cross; at which time he was, in the most insolent manner, reviled and reproached by his enemies: the words may be rendered "the heels of the Messiah" (e), and are thought by some to have reference to the promise in Genesis 3:15, and may regard either the human nature of Christ, which was both reproached and bruised; or his members suffering disgrace and persecution for his sake, and which he takes as done to himself. Suidas (f) interprets it of the ancestors of Christ, according to the flesh; and Theodoret of the kings of that time.

(d) Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 97. 1.((e) "calcibus", Vatablus; "calcaneos"; Gussetius, Michaelis. (f) In voce

Wherewith {k} thine enemies have reproached, O LORD; wherewith they have reproached the {l} footsteps of thine anointed.

(k) So he calls them who persecute the Church.

(l) They laugh at us who patiently wait for the coming of your Christ.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
51. Cp. Psalm 79:12, of which Psalm 89:50 is also a partial reminiscence.

the footsteps of thine anointed] They are like a rabble hooting and insulting him wherever he goes. Cp. Psalm 17:11; Jeremiah 12:6 (R.V.). May not the phrase have been suggested by the recollection of actual insults offered to the discrowned Jehoiachin as he was led through the streets of Babylon in the conqueror’s triumph? Insults offered to the king are insults at once to Jehovah and to the people whose representative he was.

The Targum interprets the words of the delay of Messiah’s Advent. “For thine enemies reproach, O Lord, they reproach the slowness of the footsteps of Thine Anointed.”

Verse 51. - Wherewith thine enemies have reproached, O Lord; wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of thine anointed. The reproach which rests upon the people rests no less upon their king - upon his "footsteps," his movements, all that he does, "every step he takes" (Bishop Perowne). This is an additional affliction to the psalmist, and emphasizes his last cry to God for mercy. Psalm 89:51After this statement of the present condition of things the psalmist begins to pray for the removal of all that is thus contradictory to the promise. The plaintive question, Psalm 89:47, with the exception of one word, is verbatim the same as Psalm 79:5. The wrath to which quousque refers, makes itself to be felt, as the intensifying (vid., Psalm 13:2) לנצח implies, in the intensity and duration of everlasting wrath. חלד is this temporal life which glides past secretly and unnoticed (Psalm 17:14); and זכר־אני is not equivalent to זכרני (instead of which by way of emphasis only זכרני אני can be said), but אני מה־חלד stands for מה־חלד אני - according to the sense equivalent to אני מה־חדל, Psalm 39:5, cf. Psalm 39:6. The conjecture of Houbigant and modern expositors, זכר אדני (cf. Psalm 89:51), is not needed, since the inverted position of the words is just the same as in Psalm 39:5. In Psalm 89:48 it is not pointed על־מה שׁוא, "wherefore (Job 10:2; Job 13:14) hast Thou in vain (Psalm 127:1) created?" (Hengstenberg), but על־מה־שּׁוא, on account of or for what a nothing (מה־שׁוא belonging together as adjective and substantive, as in Psalm 30:10; Job 26:14) hast Thou created all the children of men? (De Wette, Hupfeld, and Hitzig). על, of the ground of a matter and direct motive, which is better suited to the question in Psalm 89:49 than the other way of taking it: the life of all men passes on into death and Hades; why then might not God, within this brief space of time, this handbreadth, manifest Himself to His creatures as the merciful and kind, and not as the always angry God? The music strikes in here, and how can it do so otherwise than in elegiac mesto? If God's justice tarries and fails in this present world, then the Old Testament faith becomes sorely tempted and tried, because it is not able to find consolation in the life beyond. Thus it is with the faith of the poet in the present juncture of affairs, the outward appearance of which is in such perplexing contradiction to the loving-kindness sworn to David and also hitherto vouchsafed. חסדים has not the sense in this passage of the promises of favour, as in 2 Chronicles 6:42, but proofs of favour; הראשׁנים glances back at the long period of the reigns of David and of Solomon.

(Note: The Pasek between חראשׁנים and אדני is not designed merely to remove the limited predicate from the Lord, who is indeed the First and the Last, but also to secure its pronunciation to the guttural Aleph, which might be easily passed over after Mem; cf. Genesis 1:27; Genesis 21:17; Genesis 30:20; Genesis 42:21, and frequently.)

The Asaph Psalm 77 and the Tephilla Isaiah 63 contain similar complaints, just as in connection with Psalm 89:51 one is reminded of the Asaph Psalm 79:2, Psalm 79:10, and in connection with Psalm 89:52 of Psalm 79:12. The phrase נשׂא בחיקו is used in other instances of loving nurture, Numbers 11:12; Isaiah 40:11. In this passage it must have a sense akin to חרפּת עבדיך. It is impossible on syntactic grounds to regard כּל־רבּים עמּים as still dependent upon חרפּת (Ewald) or, as Hupfeld is fond of calling it, as a "post-liminiar" genitive. Can it be that the כל is perhaps a mutilation of כּלמּת, after Ezekiel 36:15, as Bttcher suggests? We do not need this conjecture. For (1) to carry any one in one's bosom, if he is an enemy, may signify: to be obliged to cherish him with the vexation proceeding from him (Jeremiah 15:15), without being able to get rid of him; (2) there is no doubt that רבּים can, after the manner of numerals, be placed before the substantive to which it belongs, Ezekiel 32:10, Proverbs 31:29; 1 Chronicles 28:5; Nehemiah 9:28; cf. the other position, e.g., Jeremiah 16:16; (3) consequently כּל־רבּים עמּים may signify the "totality of many peoples" just as well as כּל גּוים רבּים in Ezekiel 31:6. The poet complains as a member of the nation, as a citizen of the empire, that he is obliged to foster many nations in his bosom, inasmuch as the land of Israel was overwhelmed by the Egyptians and their allies, the Libyans, Troglodytes, and Ethiopians. The אשׁר which follows in Psalm 89:52 cannot now be referred back over Psalm 89:51 to חרפּת (quâ calumniâ), and yet the relative sense, not the confirmatory (because, quoniam), is at issue. We therefore refer it to עמים, and take אויביך as an apposition, as in Psalm 139:20 : who reproach Thee, (as) Thine enemies, Jahve, who reproach the footsteps (עקּבות as in Psalm 77:20 with Dag. dirimens, which gives it an emotional turn) of Thine anointed, i.e., they follow him everywhere, wheresoever he may go, and whatsoever he may do. With these significant words, עקּבות משׁיחך, the Third Book of the Psalms dies away.

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