Psalm 74:5
Parallel Verses
New American Standard Bible
It seems as if one had lifted up His axe in a forest of trees.

King James Bible
A man was famous according as he had lifted up axes upon the thick trees.

Darby Bible Translation
A man was known as he could lift up axes in the thicket of trees;

World English Bible
They behaved like men wielding axes, cutting through a thicket of trees.

Young's Literal Translation
He is known as one bringing in on high Against a thicket of wood -- axes.

Psalm 74:5 Parallel
Commentary
Barnes' Notes on the Bible

A man was famous - literally, "He is known;" or, shall be known. That is, he was or shall be celebrated.

According as he had lifted up axes - literally, "As one raising on high axes;" that is, as one lifts up his axe high in the air in order to strike an effectual stroke.

Upon the thick trees - The clumps of trees; the trees standing thick together. That is, As he showed skill and ability in cutting these down, and laying them low. His celebrity was founded on the rapidity with which the strokes of the axe fell on the trees, and his success in laying low the pride of the forest. According to our common translation the meaning is, that "formerly" a man derived his fame from his skill and success in wielding his axe so as to lay the forest low, but that "now" his fame was to be derived from another source, namely, the skill and power with which he cut down the elaborately-carved work of the sanctuary, despoiled the columns of their ornaments, and demolished the columns themselves. But another interpretation may be given to this, as has been suggested by Prof. Alexander. It is, that "the ruthless enemy is known or recognized as dealing with the sanctuary no more tenderly than a woodman with the forest which he fells." The former, however, is the more natural, as well as the more common interpretation. Luther renders it, "One sees the axe glitter on high, as one cuts wood in the forest." The Vulgate, and the Septuagint, "The signs pointing to the entrance above that they did not know." What idea was attached to this rendering, it is impossible to determine.

Psalm 74:5 Parallel Commentaries

Library
How those are to be Admonished who Abstain not from the Sins which they Bewail, and those Who, Abstaining from Them, Bewail them Not.
(Admonition 31.) Differently to be admonished are those who lament their transgressions, and yet forsake them not, and those who forsake them, and yet lament them not. For those who lament their transgressions and yet forsake them not are to be admonished to learn to consider anxiously that they cleanse themselves in vain by their weeping, if they wickedly defile themselves in their living, seeing that the end for which they wash themselves in tears is that, when clean, they may return to filth.
Leo the Great—Writings of Leo the Great

Synagogues: their Origin, Structure and Outward Arrangements
It was a beautiful saying of Rabbi Jochanan (Jer. Ber. v. 1), that he who prays in his house surrounds and fortifies it, so to speak, with a wall of iron. Nevertheless, it seems immediately contradicted by what follows. For it is explained that this only holds good where a man is alone, but that where there is a community prayer should be offered in the synagogue. We can readily understand how, after the destruction of the Temple, and the cessation of its symbolical worship, the excessive value attached
Alfred Edersheim—Sketches of Jewish Social Life

Cross References
Isaiah 64:11
Our holy and beautiful house, Where our fathers praised You, Has been burned by fire; And all our precious things have become a ruin.

Jeremiah 46:22
"Its sound moves along like a serpent; For they move on like an army And come to her as woodcutters with axes.

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