Verse 1. - Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks; for that thy Name is near thy wondrous works declare; literally, and thy Name is near (i.e. thy providence and care are close to us); this do thy wondrous works declare. The "wondrous works" are those of times past (comp. Psalm 74:12-15), whereof the psalmist anticipates a continuance or repetition.
When I shall receive the congregation I will judge uprightly.
Verse 2. - When I shall receive the congregation; rather, when I shall have appointed a set time. It is agreed that the speaker, in this verse and the next, is God, who announces that he is about to descend in judgment. This, however, he will do "at his own set time," for which men must wait patiently (comp. Habakkuk 2:3). I will judge uprightly; or, "with uprightness" (comp. Psalm 58:1).
The earth and all the inhabitants thereof are dissolved: I bear up the pillars of it. Selah.
Verse 3. - The earth and all the inhabitants thereof are dissolved. They "melt" with fear (Psalm 44:6), either at God's coming in judgment, or at the dissolution which a hostile invasion is bringing on their land. I bear up the pillars of it. Meanwhile God upholds, and will uphold, both the moral and physical order of things. He will neither suffer the earth to be moved, nor the supports on which society depends to fail and crumble away.
I said unto the fools, Deal not foolishly: and to the wicked, Lift not up the horn:
Verse 4. - I said. It is doubtful who is the speaker. Professor Cheyne regards the entire passage from the beginning of ver. 2 to the end of ver. 5 as spoken by the Almighty; but most commentators assign vers. 4 and 5 to the psalmist or the people of Israel. Unto the fools; i.e. to the enemy which was attacking Israel; literally, to the boasters, or to the arrogant ones (see Revised Version). Deal not foolishly; rather, deal not so arrogantly. Do not set yourselves so proudly against the Almighty. And to the wicked, Lift not up the horn; i.e. be not fierce and menacing, like a bull who threatens with his horns.
Lift not up your horn on high: speak not with a stiff neck.
Verse 5. - Lift not up your horn on high; speak not with a stiff neck. The phrase, "a stiff neck," common in the Pentateuch (Exodus 32:9; Exodus 33:3, 5; Exodus 34:9; Deuteronomy 9:6, 13; Deuteronomy 10:16; Deuteronomy 31:27), is rare elsewhere. It expresses pride, arrogance, and obstinacy.
For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south.
Verse 6. - For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. So Hupfeld, Kay, Canon Cook, and the Revised Version Others suggest the meaning to be, "For it is not from the east, nor is it from the west, nor yet from the mountainous desert [that help cometh]." But the ellipse of the main idea is improbable. The address is to the enemies who threaten Israel, "Lift not up your horns - speak not proudly - for exaltation comes not from any earthly quarter - east, west, north, or south" ("north" being omitted, as sufficiently implied in the others); it is God alone who gives it, and he is not likely to give it to you."
But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.
Verse 7. - But God is the Judge (comp. Psalm 50:6; Psalm 82:1; Psalm 94:2; and, especially, the original of all the later passages, Genesis 18:25). He putteth down one, and setteth up (or, exalteth) another (comp. 1 Samuel 2:7; Daniel 2:21; Daniel 4:17). True equally of nations and of individuals.
For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he poureth out of the same: but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them.
Verse 8. - For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the wine is red. The "cup of God's fury" is a frequent metaphor with the prophets (Isaiah 51:17, 22; Jeremiah 25:15, 17, 28; Jeremiah 49:12; Lamentations 4:21; Ezekiel 23:31-33; Habakkuk 2:16, etc.); and is commonly represented as full of wine, which his enemies have to drink. The "redness" of the wine typifies the shedding of blood. It is full of mixture. Mingled, i.e., with spices, and so made stronger and more efficacious (see Proverbs 9:2; Proverbs 23:30; Song of Solomon 8:2; Isaiah 5:22). And he poureth out of the same. God pours out the cup of his fury on all nations, or persons, whom he chooses to afflict, and they are compelled to drink of it (Jeremiah 25:15-28). But the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them. To drink a cup, dregs and all, is to empty it wholly, to swallow down all its contents.
But I will declare for ever; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.
Verse 9. - But I will declare forever; i.e. "I will declare these things" - viz. God's just judgments upon the wicked. I will sing praises to the God of Jacob. On the force of the phrase, "God of Jacob," see the comment upon Psalm 20:1.
All the horns of the wicked also will I cut off; but the horns of the righteous shall be exalted.
Verse 10. - All the horns of the wicked also will I cut off. Besides declaring God's judgments and singing his praises, the psalmist adds that he will, as far as lies in his power, seek to advance God's cause, and establish his kingdom, by checking, controlling, and putting down the wicked. This he expresses by the metaphor, "I will cut off their horns;" i.e. bring down their haughtiness, and deprive them of the power of doing mischief. But the horns of the righteous shall be exalted. Then, as a necessary consequence, "the horns of the righteous" - their power and might and glory - will be exalted.