Vol. 27 New Series April, 1966 No. 2

The examination of half of the first Series of psalms (Psalms I.-VIII.) has now been completed. It has been observed that on the one hand is MAN in rebellion against God's anointed in the person of David and David's trust in God to protect and to sustain him pointing ahead to the SON of MAN, who is the real Ruler of Mankind, to Whom "every knee shall bow," when all enemies are suppressed in judgment.

Those who have available to hand the Companion Bible will see, by the structure on page 721, that the psalms V.-VIII. correspond to I.-IV. Psalms III. and IV. dealt with prayer in view of the rebellion and trust in Jehovah as David's shield against outside enemies made in the morning and prayer for the same reason made in the evening. In the next two psalms (V. and VI.) it is still the prayer on account of the rebellion, but now it is because of sorrows within. Again, it will be found that the prayers are offered in the morning and evening respectively.

This psalm divides into two parts, each starting by addressing Jehovah (verses 1-7 and 8-12). This is followed by the reason for so doing; in the first case, the character of Jehovah and in the second, the character of the wicked. After a dissertation on the wicked, the first half ends by David declaring his intent of true worship. In the second half the wicked are again brought under consideration of their judgment and then, in the last two verses, in contrast, is the trust of true worshippers of Jehovah and their reward.

This psalm has the same sub-scription as Psalm III., but with "upon Sheminith" added. This will be discussed in more detail later.

This psalm is headed 'A Psalm of David' like psalms III., IV., VI., VII. and VIII. together with many others subsequently.

In these three sentences emphasis is given by a figure of speech called 'synonymia,' by making use of words with like but different shades of meaning, repeating the sense. Where man's speech is concerned this is usually rhetoric, but when used by the Holy Spirit through His servants, particular attention should be given to the passage governed by the phrases. Another good example is in Psalm 7:14. The word 'meditation' (HAGIG) is the noun as in Psalm 1:2 and 2:1, where it is translated 'imagine' in the latter case, in the A.V. Hearken (QASHAB), give attention to the voice (QOL), sound, tone or pitch, each difference indicating a particular urgency. Here it is one of personal sorrow for the state of affairs and seeking that God would remedy it. Hearken to the voice of my cry (SHEVA) (the only time this word is used), though similar to SHAVAH), meaning crying aloud, David addresses his cry to my King, and my God. David, being faithful to the law of God, although he has been anointed king of Israel, recognises that Israel is really a Theocracy and that God is Sovereign. He addresses God here as ELOHIM, the creator in relation to His creatures, the true God, the WORD. "All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made (John 1:2)." In Psalm 3:5, David said, "I laid me down and slept." This is in the past tense, for he goes on to say, "I awakened," and then, with realisation, "for the Lord sustained (or rather was sustaining) me." David lived in an atmosphere of realisation, assurance and acknowledgement of Jehovah, his king and his God. The first line would appear to be, as it were, a commitment or a vow, made to Jehovah; then he elaborates on it in saying, In the morning, will I direct (ARAK), arrange, set in array or lay in order, as the wood upon the altar, unto Thee. 'my prayer' is an interpolation. It may be that he sets his affairs, his way, his very life, in order before his God—and will look up (TSAPHAH), to look out, to watch. However, this word is translated 39 times 'overlay,' of gold over wood, which may have significance. Any how, it seems that David is prepared, morning by morning, to lay everything for the coming day before the Lord. Here is the reason for verse three. David recognises that many of his thoughts, much of his reasoning and some of his plans are not in line with the will of God, for being what he is a sinful son of Adam, as he says in the fifty-first psalm, verse five, "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me." Isaiah expresses the same thought in Is. 55:8, 9. "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways." Neither shall evil (RA, translated also adversity, affliction, bad, calamity, displeasure, distress, grief grievous, harm, hurt, mischief, sad, sore, trouble) dwell with thee. This does not of necessity mean sin, iniquity, wickedness, transgression or any other allied word, for in Isaiah 45:7 it is written of God: "I make peace, and create evil: I, the Lord, do all these things." Neither shall evil dwell (GUR), sojourn, inhabit, draw together, with Thee. The idea seems to be that although God may be responsible for creating and dispensing trouble, distress, affliction or calamity, in His presence none of these things exist and as we see in the passage quoted from Isaiah, evil is set off against peace as darkness against light, so one might here deduce with perfect justification, in God's habitation is perfect peace. This thought would lead on to verse seven.

We now turn to the wicked and God's attitude towards them in strong contrast to David's security and in exemplifying that evil which emanates from God towards the wicked.

The foolish (HALAL), the boastful shall not stand (YATSUB) set himself up, present himself in Thy sight. Thou hatest all workers of iniquity (AVEN), vanity, specially connected with idolatry, worshipping the visible instead of the invisible God. AVEN is rather the course of bad conduct flowing from the evil desires of fallen mankind, than breaches of the law as such, (see C.B.). Thou shalt destroy (ABAD) them that speak leasing (KAZAB), falsehood (as in Psalm 4:2): the Lord will abhor (TAAB), have in abomination the bloody (DAM and deceitful (MIRMAH) man, the deceitful man of blood. "But as for me" is a favourite expression of the Psalmist. It occurs in Pss. 17:15; 26:11; 35:13; 41:12; 55:16; 69:13; and 73:2. The word 'me' is emphatic, in contrast to the wicked, the seekers after vanity and the speakers of lies, who cannot approach the house of the Lord. But as for me, I will come into Thy house in the multitude (ROB), abundance of Thy mercy (CHESED), loving kindness. In Thy fear (YIRAH), reverence, will I worship (SHACHAH), bow myself down toward Thy holy (QODESH) temple (HEKAL), sometimes translated palace. In David's day the temple did not exist, only the tabernacle, which was in Gibeon, without the ark of the Testimony, which, when recovered from the Philistines had been left in Kirjath Jerim until it was brought by David to the city of David. It would appear, therefore, that the reference here is not to any earthly sanctuary, but to the abode of God, the pattern in the heavens, from which Moses built the Tabernacle. David, like the apostle Paul, recognised that God, the "Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands." (Acts 17:24). He, therefore, bowed down where he was, irrespective of any orientation in reverence and adoration. One passage in the book of Proverbs comes to mind in the light of this verse, Prov. 16:31, "The hoary is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness." But note, it does not speak of David's righteousness, but of God's—Thy righteousness. Furthermore, it does not say my way, but Thy way. The path that David had to tread was his; the manner in which it was to be trodden was not to be according to David, but in God's, and the way too was to be led by God. Then would the pathway be cleared before him and unimpeded. "Lord, we know not whither Thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:5, 6). Notice the succession of 'their' which refer to the foolish and workers of iniquity of verse 5. This repetition is another form of emphasis. The words could well be transposed to bring this out in the English: Note that all this is an inward character; there is no outside influence. It is inherent in the sons of Adam. It is the way of sin. It is pathway to death. There is no faithfulness (KUN), establishment, reliability, stability, in their mouth (CHEK), palate, which may refer to taste. In other or more modern phraseology, 'They have no taste for reliability' or, 'Their word can never be accepted.' Their inward part (QEREB), midst, bowels or what we would term heart, is very wickedness (HAVVAH), mischief or calamity. This word is in the plural and denotes intensity. The paraphrase might run, 'For their heart is full of mischievous intent.' This is the reason for their instability and untrustworthiness of the previous sentence. It manifests itself in the two following phrases, which are used by the Apostle Paul in his indictment of mankind in Romans 3:13, where the A.V. says, "Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit." Their throat is an open sepulchre is the way of saying that from their heart arises an evil miasma, which issues in convincing flattery (CHALAQ), smoothness, which, of course, is deceit. As guilty of all this, condemnation must surely fall upon them, but it is not for David to take vengeance. That is the prerogative of God, for it is not against David that they have sinned, but against God. David, however puts in the suggestion here that is brought out in Galatians 6:7, 8, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption." Let them receive their "Just recompence of reward," for their many transgressions. But let all those that put their trust (CHASAH), take refuge (as in Psalm 2:12), in Thee rejoice (SAMEACH), be glad, shine: Let them ever (OLAM), in the age, shout (RANAN), sing for joy, because Thou defendest (SAKAK), cover or hedge them around. Let them also that love Thy Name. The name stands for the person, all he is and all he is able to do. In the Name of God this has no limit. Let them also that love Thy Name be joyful (ALATS), exultant, triumphant in Thee, with the knowledge of certain victory. Here is the continuation of the quotation from Galatians 6:8 "But he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting" (AIONION), the Greek word for the Hebrew OLAM.

For Thou, Lord (JEHOVAH), the covenant God of Israel in special relationship to the circumcised, wilt bless the righteous (TSADDIQ), the justified one, the same one as in the earlier psalms. With favour (RATSON), good will, delight, wilt Thou compass (ATAR), surround (it also means crown as the crown surrounds the head), him as with a shield (TSINNAH), a shield of the largest size. This is the word used of the shield of Goliath, which was carried before him by a bearer. It was not a shield to ward off blows at one particular part of the body, but a complete covering, behind which one could take shelter. This complete covering of the righteous or Justified one is the favour of Jehovah, or as it would be termed in N.T. terms the grace of God. It is for life, (Ps. 30:5); for preservation (Ps. 86:2); for security (Ps. 41:11); for mercy (Isaiah 60:10). Hence the prayer of Psalm 106:4, "Remember me, 0 Lord, with thy favour." (C.B. on Ps. v.).

Attention must again be drawn to the fact that although the Psalms were written by David concerning himself, his experiences and his prayers and supplications, that he was recording the character and enmity of those who rebelled against him, as king of Israel; yet the Holy Spirit was writing of David's greater Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, against Whom the whole world conspired, but against Whom they will not prevail. This is to be read into the words of the Psalm if fuller meaning and understanding is to be drawn from it. This fuller interpretation can only be comprehended in dependence upon the Holy Spirit's enlightenment, as is indicated in John 16:13, 14; and verses 7 and 8.

The sub-scription, "To the chief musician on Neginoth upon Sheminith," should read "To the overseer concerning afflictions," as at the end of Psalm 3. But what can Sheminith mean? The word occurs again in Psalm 11. The word SHEMINI, which occurs 27 times is generally accepted as meaning 'eighth,' and in the margin of 1. Chron. 15:21, where the word is transliterated 'on the eighth to oversee, Ps. 6 title' is given; one is able to get something of its meaning. Sheminith is set over against ALAMOTH at the end of the previous verse which means relating to young women (presumably singers). Zechariah to Benaiah were appointed by the Levites (verse 17 and 20), with psalteries and everything relating to the choir of young singing women. Mattithiah to Azaziah were appointed likewise, with harps over the Sheminith, to lead. To 'excel' just has no meaning. As ALAMOTH means young women, the SHEMINITH must mean young men. The Talmud suggests that they were a class of true Israelites, i.e., those circumcised on the eighth day, according to the law of Moses and thus distinguished from all other Jews and Gentiles. As all others, men, taking part in the procession would have been circumcised on the eighth day, it must as well have referred to their position in the arrangement. (See C.B. App. 65 for full explanation). An examination of these two psalms seems to indicate that they would be righteous worshippers as distinct from others.

J.G.H.S. Last updated 2.6.2006