Verse 1. - Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God. A crisis has come which calls for the Divine interference. If his people are to be saved, God must no longer sit still. Compare the frequent calls on God to "arise" (Psalm 3:7; Psalm 7:6; Psalm 44:26; Psalm 68:1, etc.).
For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head.
Verse 2. - For, lo, thine enemies; i.e. Israel's enemies, who are also "thine enemies" (see the comment on Psalm 81:15). make a tumult; literally, make a roaring, like the roaring of the sea (comp. Psalm 46:3; Isaiah 17:12). And they that hate thee (compare "the haters of the Lord," in Psalm 81:15). Have lifted up the head; i.e. raised themselves up against thee - taken a menacing attitude (comp. Judges 8:28).
They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones.
Verse 3. - They have taken crafty counsel against thy people. Such a widespread confederacy as that described below (vers. 6-8) cannot have been formed without much secret consultation and plotting. And consulted against thy hidden ones; i.e. "those whom thou hidest in the covert of thy presence from the plottings of man" (Psalm 31:20, Revised Version: comp. Psalm 27:5).
They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.
Verse 4. - They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation. This was the general object of Israel's enemies at all times (2 Kings 24:2; 2 Chronicles 20:11; Psalm 138:7; 1 Macc. 3:35 1 Macc. 5:2), and thus does not help much towards determining the date of the occasion here spoken cf. That the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance (comp. Exodus 17:14; Deuteronomy 32:26; Psalm 34:16; Psalm 109:13).
For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee:
Verse 5. - For they have consulted together with one consent (comp. ver. 3). They are confederate against thee; literally, have entered into a covenant against thee. A formal treaty seems to be intended.
The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes;
Verse 6. - The tabernacles of Edom. Edom was always among the bitterest of Israel's enemies, and naturally took a part in almost every combination that was made against them. Though sometimes subjugated (2 Samuel 8:14; 1 Kings 11:15, 16), it continued hostile during the whole period of Israelite and Jewish history. Hence the constant denunciations of the prophets (Isaiah 11:14; Jeremiah 27:3; Jeremiah 49:7-22; Ezekiel 25:12-14; Joel 3:19; Amos 9:12; Obadiah 1:6-18; Malachi 1:4). And the Ishmaelites. The Ishmaelites were the chief inhabitants of Northern Arabia (Genesis 25:13-18). They do not often appear among Israel's enemies. Of Moab. Moab, on the contrary, is a persistent adversary (see Numbers 22:6; Judges 3:12-30; 1 Samuel 14:47; 2 Samuel 8:2; 2 Kings 1:1; 2 Kings 3:4-27; 26:2; 2 Chronicles 20:1-10). And the Hagarenes. The "Hagarenes," or "Hagarites," are only mentioned here and in 1 Chronicles 5:10, 19-22. They were probably a branch of the Ishmaelites, named after Hagar, Ishmael's mother (Genesis 25:12). Their name occurs among those of Aramman tribes in the Assyrian inscriptions.
Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre;
Verse 7. - Gebal. There is no reason to doubt that the Phoenician town of the name, mentioned in Ezekiel 27:9, and alluded to in Joshua 13:5 and 1 Kings 5:18, is meant. A southern Gebal, in the vicinity of Edom, is a fiction. Gebal was one of the most important of the Phoenician cities from the time of Shalmaneser II. (B.C. 828-810) to that of Nebuchadnezzar (B.C. 635-560); see the author's 'History of Phoenicia,' p. 79. And Ammon. Ammon, like Moab, was a perpetual enemy of the Jewish people from their entrance into Palestine to the time of the Maccabees. And Amalek. The Amalekites, on the contrary, disappear from history from the time of their destruction by the Simeonites in the reign of Hezekiah (1 Chronicles 5:42, 43). The Philistines. Persistent enemies, like Edom, Moab, and Ammon (see I Macc. 5:66). With the inhabitants of Tyre. Tyre, in early times, was friendly to Israel (2 Samuel 5:11; 1 Kings 5:1-18; 1 Kings 9:26-28). and is not elsewhere mentioned as hostile until the reign of Uzziah (Amos 1:9). She rejoiced, however, when Jerusalem was destroyed (Ezekiel 26:2).
Assur also is joined with them: they have holpen the children of Lot. Selah.
Verse 8. - Assur also is joined with them. This is the climax. Assyria - the great empire - the most important of all the kingdoms of the earth - has joined the petty nations upon Israel's border, and holds a place in the great confederacy. From the historical books it would appear that this occurred but once, viz. in David's great war with the Ammonites and their allies (see the Introduction). They have holpen the children of Lot; i.e. the Moabites and Ammonites (comp. Genesis 19:37, 38; Deuteronomy 2:9, 19). Moab and Ammon would seem to have been the principal powers engaged in the confederacy. The others were their helpers.
Do unto them as unto the Midianites; as to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook of Kison:
Verse 9. - Do unto them as unto the Midianites. The allusion is probably to the discomfiture of the Midianites by Gideon (Judges 7:19-25; Judges 8:1-12). As to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook of Kison (see Judges 4:5).
Which perished at Endor: they became as dung for the earth.
Verse 10. - Which perished at Endor. "Endor" is not mentioned in the narrative of Judges; but it was certainly in the neighbourhood of Taanah and Megiddo, which are mentioned (Judges 5:19; see Joshua 17:11). They became as dung for the earth; i.e. their carcases manured the soil (comp. 2 Kings 9:37; Zephaniah 1:17).
Make their nobles like Oreb, and like Zeeb: yea, all their princes as Zebah, and as Zalmunna:
Verse 11. - Make their nobles like Oreb, and like Zeeb. "Oreb" and "Zeeb," the leaders of the Midianitish host, were taken prisoners and slain by the Ephraimites who pursued after Midian (Judges 7:25). Yea, all their princes as Zeba, and as Zalmunna. Zeba and Zalmunna were the kings of Midian slain by Gideon himself (Judges 8:21).
Who said, Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession.
Verse 12. - Who said, Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession; rather, the homesteads of God; or "the pastures of God" (Psalm 23:2), i.e. of God's people, Israel.
O my God, make them like a wheel; as the stubble before the wind.
Verse 13. - O my God, make them like a wheel; rather, like whirling dust - the dust that is caught up by an eddy of wind, and twisted round and round (see Isaiah 17:13). As the stubble before the wind. Both the "whirling dust" and the "stubble" are images of what is lightest, most shifting, and of least account (see Job 13:25; Job 15:7; Job 21:18; Job 41:29; Isaiah 40:24; Isaiah 41:2; Jeremiah 13:24; Malachi 4:1).
As the fire burneth a wood, and as the flame setteth the mountains on fire;
Verse 14. - As the fire burneth a wood, and as the flame setteth the mountains on fire. Cause them, i.e., to consume away and perish, as a burning forest, or as blazing brushwood on a mountainside.
So persecute them with thy tempest, and make them afraid with thy storm.
Verse 15. - So persecute them with thy tempest, and make them afraid with thy storm. There is some confusion of metaphors; but the general meaning is clear. God is called upon to execute vengeance upon Israel's enemies by sweeping them away with the storm and tempest of his wrath (comp. Job 9:17; Isaiah 29:6).
Fill their faces with shame; that they may seek thy name, O LORD.
Verse 16. - Fill their faces with shame; i.e. cause their enterprise to fail, and so bring them to shame and confusion of face. That they may seek thy Name, O Lord. A merciful purpose lies behind the greater number of Divine visitations. They are intended to scourge men into submission, and cause them to turn to God. The psalmist, being in full sympathy with God, desires that his merciful intentions may have effect.
Let them be confounded and troubled for ever; yea, let them be put to shame, and perish:
Verse 17. - Lot them be confounded and troubled forever; yea, let them be put to shame, and perish. An expansion of the thought contained in the first clause of the preceding verse, which must not be regarded as annulling the kind wish of the second clause. Like Hezekiah (Isaiah 37:20), the psalmist desires nothing so much as that "all the kingdoms of the earth may know that Jehovah, and he only, is God," and may turn to him in sincerity and truth. It is for this end that he wishes them to be brought low, even to the verge of destruction.
That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth.
Verse 18. - That men may know; rather, that they may know. There is no "men" in the original. That thou, whose name alone is Jehovah, art the Most High over all the earth (see the comment on ver. 16).