<<A Psalm for Solomon.>> Give the king thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the king's son.
Verse 1. - Give the king thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the king's son. God had established in Israel, in the person of David, hereditary monarchy (2 Samuel 7:12-16), such as was usual in the East, and suited to Oriental notions. In speaking of himself, not only as "the king," but also as "the king's son," Solomon makes appeal to the sentiment of respect for hereditary royalty. Compare the inscription of Mesha, "My father was king over Moab thirty years, and I became king after my father" (line 1). In praying God to give him "his judgments," he is desiring a "spirit of judgment" which will enable him to deliver decisions as righteous as God's.
He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgment.
Verse 2. - He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgment. Then will he have wisdom to judge thy people aright. The wish is in the closest possible agreement with the prayer in 1 Kings 3:6-9.
The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness.
Verse 3. - The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness. Through the general establishment prominent features.
He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor.
Verse 4. - He shall judge the poor of the people. Not exclusively, but especially. The unjust rulers and judges of Israel neglected this duty. They judge not the fatherless... and the right of the needy do they not judge" (Jeremiah 5:28; see also Isaiah 1:23; Zechariah 7:10). He shall save the children of the needy. He shall preserve them, i.e., from oppression and wrong. And shall break in pieces the oppressor. (On God's hatred of oppression and oppressors, see Exodus 3:9; Leviticus 25:14; Job 27:13; Psalm 12:5; Isaiah 16:14, etc.)
They shall fear thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations.
Verse 5. - They shall fear thee (i.e. God) as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations. The righteous government of the king shall spread abroad the "fear of God," and establish pure religion in the land, while the world continues. Here the psalm first becomes distinctly Messianic, passing on from the reigning monarch to the ideal king whom he typifies.
He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth.
Verse 6. - He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass; i.e. softly and gently, bringing refreshment (comp. Deuteronomy 32:2; Isaiah 55:10, 11; and perhaps 2 Samuel 23:4). As showers that water the earth. The same idea as in the preceding clause (comp. Hosea 6:3).
In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.
Verse 7. - In his days shall the righteous flourish. In Messiah's days, when his kingdom is fully established, the righteous will flourish and prosper, since the wicked will not be suffered to hinder them (comp. ver. 4; and see Butler's 'Analogy,' pt. 1, ch. 3). And abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth; literally, till there be no longer a moon (comp. ver. 5).
He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.
Verse 8. - He shall have dominion also from sea to sea. It does not appear that any particular seas are meant, as in Exodus 23:31 and Numbers 34:3, 6; rather, the idea is that the earth is set in the midst of the sea, and that Messiah's dominion will reach from shore to shore. And from the river (i.e. the Euphrates) unto the ends of the earth. Israel's promised dominion extended only as far as the great river (Genesis 15:18), which was also the boundary of Solomon's kingdom eastward (1 Kings 4:21, 24); Messiah's was to reach indefinitely beyond the river to the world's end.
They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust.
Verse 9. - They that dwell in the wilderness shall how before him (for the meaning here assigned to tsiyyim (ציּים), see Psalm 74:14; Isaiah 23:13). The wild tribes of the Syrian and Arabian deserts are probably intended (comp. Isaiah 60:6, 7). And his enemies shall lick the dust; i.e., prostrate themselves at his feet with their faces in the dust. See the Assyrian representations of Oriental prostrations ('Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 1, pp. 266, 502).
The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts.
Verse 10. - The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents. "Tarshish" here is probably Tartessus in Spain, so well known to the Israelites in the days of Solomon (1 Kings 10:22; 2 Chronicles 9:21). According to Herodotus, Tartessus, when it first became known to the Greeks, was governed by kings (Herod., 1:163). By "the isles" are to be understood the coasts and islands of the Mediterranean generally. All these have, at one time or another, paid homage to Christ. The kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. "Sheba" and "Seba" are distinguished by the writer of Genesis (Genesis 10:7), and appear not even to have been very near the one to the other. Sheba was in Southeastern Arabia, and was known to the Greeks and Romans as the country of the Sabaeans (Diod. Sic., 3:45; Strabo, 16:4, § 19; Pliny, 'Hist. Nat.,' 6:23). Saba was in Africa, on the Middle Nile, and the Sebaeans (סְבָאִים) are closely connected by Isaiah with Ethiopia and Egypt (Isaiah 43:3; Isaiah 45:14).
Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him.
Verse 11. - Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him (comp. Isaiah 49:7, 23; Isaiah 60:3-14). This prophecy has not yet been fulfilled in the letter; but it may one day be exactly accomplished. Or it may not have been intended to be understood literally. General truths are often expressed by the sacred writers universally.
For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper.
Verse 12. - For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper (comp. ver. 4); rather, and the poor who has no helper. Two classes of persons are spoken of, not three (comp. Job 29:12).
He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy.
Verse 13. - He shall spare the poor and needy; or, the weak and needy. And shall save the souls of the needy. He shall not merely deliver them from their cruel oppressors in this life (ver. 4), but also give health and life to their souls.
He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence: and precious shall their blood be in his sight.
Verse 14. - He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence. Messiah's especial tenderness towards the poor and lowly is a main feature in all descriptions of his kingdom (see Isaiah 11:4; Isaiah 29:19; Isaiah 41:17, etc.), and was emphasized by our Lord when he came upon earth (Matthew 11:5; Luke 4:18). And precious shall their blood be in his sight. Worth, therefore, a mighty ransom (comp. Psalm 116:15).
And he shall live, and to him shall be given of the gold of Sheba: prayer also shall be made for him continually; and daily shall he be praised.
Verse 15. - And he shall live, and to him shall be given of the gold of Sheba. He (i.e. Messiah) "shall live" - shall live on, and reign on, in his everlasting kingdom; and men shall bring to him of the gold of Sheba (1 Kings 10:10; Ezekiel 27:22), giving him of their best and rarest, in grateful acknowledgment of his goodness and protection. Prayer also shall be made for him continually. His subjects shall offer prayer for him continually, as Christians do when they pray, "Thy kingdom come" (Hengstenberg). And daily shall he be praised; rather, all day long shall they praise him.
There shall be an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon: and they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth.
Verse 16. - There shall be an handful of corn in the earth; rather, as in the Prayer book Version, an heap of corn; or, abundance of corn (Revised Version), "Abundance of corn" is put for general prosperity. Upon the top of the mountains. In flourishing times of agriculture, the very tops of the mountains were cultivated all over Palestine, as appears by the remains of terraces. The fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon. Canon Cook's seems to be the best exposition: "The ripened corn on the heights shall rustle in the wind like the foliage on Lebanon." And they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth. "They of the city" are the inhabitants of the "New Jerusalem" (Revelation 21:2), the citizens of Messiah's kingdom.
His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed.
Verse 17. - His Name shall endure forever (comp. Psalm 45:2, 6; Psalm 102:12; Isaiah 9:7). "The eternity of the Name is based upon the eternity of the kingdom" (Hengstenberg). His Name shall be continued as long as the sun (comp. ver. 5); or, his Name shall be renewed - shall spring again to fresh life. Dr. Kay compares an expression of Renan's, "Son culte se rajeunira." And men shall be blessed in him; literally, men shall bless themselves in him (comp. Genesis 22:18; Genesis 26:4). All nations shall call him blessed. With these words the psalm, properly speaking, ends. The doxology (vers. 18, 19) and the note (ver. 20) were probably appended by the arranger of the book.
Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things.
Verses 18, 19. - Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel (compare the other doxologies, which begin similarly (Psalm 41:13; Psalm 89:52; Psalm 106:42). Who only doeth wondrous things (comp. Psalm 86:8, 10; and Job 5:9). And blessed be his glorious Name forever (comp. Psalm 29:2; Psalm 34:3; Psalm 46:2; Psalm 69:30; Psalm 113:2, etc.). And let the whole earth be filled with his glory. The whole earth can no otherwise be filled with the glory of God, than by men everywhere glorifying him, and bowing clown in adoration before his Son. The promise had been made that so it should one day be (Numbers 14:21); and the psalmist anticipates the fulfilment of the promise. Amen, and Amen (comp. Psalm 41:13; Psalm 89:52; Psalm 106:48).
And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen.
The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended.
Verse 20. - The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended. This is a note appended, either by the collector of the first two Books of the Psalms, or by the collector of the Third Book, who thus marked the difference between the previous collection and his own, the former containing sixty psalms ascribed to David in their titles, and the latter one only (Psalm 86).