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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

Psalms 65

 

 

Verses 1-13

Psalm 65

To the chief Musician, A Psalm and Song of David

Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Zion:

And unto thee shall the vow be performed.

2 O thou that hearest prayer,

Unto thee shall all flesh come.

3 Iniquities prevail against me:

As for our transgressions, thou shalt purge them away.

4 Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he

may dwell in thy courts:

We shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.

5 By terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, O God of our salvation;

Who art the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them that are afar off upon the sea:

6 Which by his strength setteth fast the mountains;

Being girded with power:

7 Which stilleth the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves,

And the tumult of the people.

8 They also that dwell in the uttermost parts are afraid at thy tokens:

Thou makest the outgoings of the morning and evening to rejoice.

9 Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it:

Thou greatly enrichest it

With the river of God which is full of water:

Thou preparest them corn, when thou hast so provided for it.

10 Thou waterest the ridges thereof abundantly: thou settlest the furrows thereof:

Thou makest it soft with showers:

Thou blessest the springing thereof.

11 Thou crownest the year with thy goodness;

And thy paths drop fatness.

12 They drop upon the pastures of the wilderness:

And the little hills rejoice on every side.

13 The pastures are clothed with flocks;

The valleys also are covered over with corn;

They shout for joy, they also sing.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Its Contents and Composition.—The Psalm begins with the solemn declaration, that thanksgiving is due in Zion to the God who heareth prayer, and that all flesh draweth near Him in prayer ( Psalm 65:1-2), that it is true misdeeds had gained power over the congregation, which is now engaged in prayer, but God covered them, ( Psalm 65:3), so that they now taste the salvation of those who can draw near to God in His temple, ( Psalm 65:4), the God of strength, who rules in nature and in history, exciting fear and confidence ( Psalm 65:5-8), and who now again has blessed the land with fructifying rains ( Psalm 65:9-10) and has adorned it with the signs of a good year, so that all may shout for joy ( Psalm 65:11-13). The reference to the blessings of the harvest is so manifest that the Psalm may be regarded as a prayer of thanksgiving for them, whether with reference to the approaching harvest (Hengst.) or one just finished (Hitzig). But there is no evidence of a previous scarcity such as that famine caused by the blood—guiltness of Saul, 1 Samuel 21 (Venema, J. D. Mich.), or a great drought (Aben Ezra, Ewald, and most interpreters), in which sense a Greek scholiast has read צָיוֹן = a dry land, instead of Zion ( Psalm 65:1). No more does the mention of the palace of God ( Psalm 65:4), refer to a period, subsequent to David; nor does the confession of grievous misdeeds on the part of the entire congregation ( Psalm 65:3) refer to the guilt of the nation which brought on the Exile (De Wette). There is likewise no occasion to explain the fearful exhibitions of the righteousness of God ( Psalm 65:5), which are directly parallel with His mighty deeds, of the overthrow of the Assyrians (Ewald), or to put these words, which are manifestly introductory, as a thanksgiving for the victory which had been granted them, alongside of the thanksgiving for the blessing of the field, and thus to think of the spring of the third year after the overthrow of the Assyrians, Isaiah 37:30 (Delitzsch). After the return from the exile this Psalm certainly afforded many useful adaptations to the worship of the congregation, as these might be found in it for the spiritual explanation of the blessings of harvest. There is very little to justify the idea that this Psalm is a prophecy during the exile of the conversion of the heathens after the return of the people to Jerusalem (Flamin.) or thanksgiving of the Church of Christ for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and the blessings flowing therefrom (most of the older interpreters). The title found in the Arabic translation, de transmigratione populi, and that remark attached to some MSS. of the Sept. and Vulg: “Song of Jeremiah and Ezekiel for the people of the Diaspora as they were about to return home,” have not the value of historical statements.

Str. I. Psalm 65:1. To Thee is silence (resignation) praise.—The word דֻמִיָּה does not mean the solemn silence at the holy places (Grotius), or the silence of the mouth=in silence (Luther after the Rabbins), or in the sense that silence is the best praise (Chald, Isaki, Stier), but the silence of unrest in the heart=resignation, as Psalm 62:1, yet not as the consequence of praise (Hengst, who previously translated silence praise), but either as an expression of pious duty parallel with the praise (and the actual fulfilment of the vow) (Geier, Rosenm, De Wette, Hupf, Hengst.), or more in accordance with the accents as the tribute due, which is brought as praise to the God enthroned in Zion (Delitzsch). A similar sense is given by the translation: silent resignation praises Thee (Hitzig), without making it necessary to change the reading of the noun “praise” into the corresponding verb, which would certainly, however, be preferable to the change of dumijjah=silentium into domijjah=similis, par, since the explanation of tibi par est laus by tibi convenit laus (Sept, Vulg.) is contrary to usage. If the word is regarded as an adverb, the sense would not be: constantly, incessantly (Venema, Muntinghe), but: in resignation.

Psalm 65:2. The coming of all flesh to God does not refer to the conversion of the heathen, Isaiah 45:24 (Aben Ezra and the older interpreters), but to the coming of all needy creatures partly in prayer and partly in thanksgiving.

[ Psalm 65:3. Cases of iniquity have overcome me.—There is a reference here to the variety of iniquities rather than their unity. Hupfeld: “They have overpowered me as with a superior hostile power. (Comp. Psalm 40:12 : ‘they have overtaken me,’ parallel, ‘surrounded me’). They are usually compared to a burden ( Psalm 38:5 : ‘they are too heavy for me,’ parallel, ‘they have gone over my head,’ Genesis 4:13 : ‘too great to be borne’). This is the usual figure even in legal language (comp. Psalm 7:16). Both figures are with the sense that man cannot answer or make good (atone for), without succumbing and perishing, thus he needs forgiveness (comp. Psalm 130:3; Psalm 143:2).”

Psalm 65:4. Delitzsch: “How good it is for those whom God chooses and brings near, that Isaiah, removes into His presence that they may dwell in His courts, that Isaiah, may have their true home and be at home where He is enthroned and reveals Himself (see Psalm 15:1). This advantage is afforded to the congregation gathered about Zion in the midst of the nations, which, in the happy consciousness of this preference given it out of God’s free grace, encourages itself to enjoy in full draughts (שָׁבַע with בְּ as Psalm 103:5) the abundance of the gracious good things (טוּב) of the house of God, the holiness, ἄγιον, of His temple, that Isaiah, His holy temple (קְרשׁ, as Psalm 46:4, comp. Isaiah 57:15), for, for all that God’s grace offers us, we can offer no better thanks than by hungering and thirsting after it and satisfying the poor soul therewith.”—C. A. B.]

Str. II. Psalm 65:5. Terrible things, or things exciting fear are frequently mentioned, ( Deuteronomy 10:21; 2 Samuel 7:23; Isaiah 64:2; Psalm 106:22 sq.; Psalm 145:4 sq.), together with the mighty deeds and miracles of God in the leading of His people out of Egypt; it thus includes the idea of the sublime and wonderful, Psalm 139:14. This reference is more suitable here than that of fearful, since the answer here manifestly means the actual answer to prayer.—[The confidence of all the ends of the earth and of the sea afar off.—Perowne: “The word is properly an adj, and may, as Hupf. takes it, belong to the noun ‘ends,’ the construction being ‘the distant ends of the earth and sea.’ He refers to Psalm 64:7; Isaiah 66:19, as compared with Isaiah 5:26; Psalm 8:9; Psalm 34:17.—But according to the accent the construction is ‘sea of the distant ones,’ i.e. the dwellers on distant coasts and islands.”

Psalm 65:6. Girded with power.—This refers to God, who, girded with power as a master—workman, places the mountains in their firm foundations.

Psalm 65:7. Stilleth the roar of seas, &c. Perowne: “The sea and nations are mentioned together, the one being so often used as an image of the other. See Psalm 46.”

Psalm 65:8. Signs or miracles, the mighty deeds of God, cause the nations to fear and tremble.—C. A. B.] The outgoings of the morning and evening do not mean the rising of the morning and evening stars which cause men to rejoice (Kimchi, et al.), or the creatures which come forth at such times of the morning and evening (Luther, Geier, J. H. Mich, et al.), but the east and west as poetical parallels of the ends of the earth (Hupf.)

Str. III. [Thou hast visited the land and made it overflow.—Barnes: “God seems to come down that He may attend to the wants of the earth; survey the condition of things; arrange for the welfare of the world He has made, and supply the wants of those whom He has created to dwell upon it.”—Hupfeld: “תְשֹׁקְקֶהָ here as Hiphil, Joel 2:24; 4:13, make overflow, that Isaiah, moisten, rigare (with rain, com. Psalm 65:10תְמוֹגְגֶנָּה in a similar form) as already the ancient versions (apparently interchanging it with שׁקּה). Aben Ezra, Kimchi, [margin of A. V.] interpret it in accordance with the meaning which is found in תשׁוקה and שׁקק, make desire (namely, rain, owing to the previous lack of rain). But this does not suit the context.”—C. A. B.]—God’s brook is full of water.—God’s brook is not a brook or stream in the Holy Land (the Fathers), or a figure of Divine blessings in general (Geier, J. H. Mich, et al.), but the rain (Chald.) or the clouds (J. D. Mich.) in contrast to earthly waters (Calvin, et al.).—Thou preparest their grain, for so dost Thou prepare it (i.e. the land).—We must notice the alliteration of כֵּן= Song of Solomon, that Isaiah, right so (Delitzsch), with הֵכִין=adjust, prepare. [Perowne: “The repetition of the verb prepare seems designed to mark that all is God’s doing. He prepares the earth and so prepares the corn. The present tenses are employed here to express that this God does not in one year only, but every year.”

Psalm 65:10. Drenching its furrows, pressing down its clods, Thou makest it dissolve by copious showers, Thou blessest its increase.—רַוֵּח and נַחֵת are, according to the existing punctuation, imperatives. Few interpreters (Hitzig, Alexander, et al.) render in this way, for it does not suit the context and the general tone of the Psalm. Hupfeld would alter the punctuation and read רִוָּה,נָחֵת, 3pers. pret. Thus there would be a most unusual transition from the 2 d person to the 3 d. It is better, with most interpreters, to take them as infinitive absolutes, denoting the manner in which this preparation of the earth took place, and then render them as participles depending on the verb of the previous verse (Ewald, De Wette, Delitzsch, Moll, et al.). Perowne considers that they stand instead of the finite verb.—C. A. B.]

Str. 4 [Thou hast crowned the | year of Thy goodness.—This is the rendering of all of the older interpreters and most recent ones. Comp. Isaiah 61:2, “the year of grace,” as the year of Divine goodness and favor which was crowned with fruitful harvests. Others (Hupfeld, Böttcher, Perowne, A. V.] prefer to render: with Thy goodness. The former interpretation is favored by the construction and gives an excellent sense, and is to be preferred (Delitzsch, Moll, Alexander, et al.)—C. A. B.]—Thy tracks drop fatness.—The tracks or wagon ruts are perhaps mentioned with reference to the clouds on which God rides as on a chariot (the older interps. after the Rabbins), hardly, however, in allusion to the wagons of thunder in storms (J. D. Mich, Olsh.), but they have rather here the meaning of tracks in general, or footsteps=fruitfulness follows in his footsteps (Geier, et al.).

[ Psalm 65:12. The pastures of the steppes drip, and the hills gird themselves with rejoicing.—Delitzsch: “The tracks of the chariots ( Deuteronomy 33:26) drip with luxuriant fruitfulness, even the pastures of the uncultivated, rainless and unfruitful pasture land, Job 38:26 sq. The hills are personified in the favorite manner of Isaiah ( Isaiah 44:23; Isaiah 49:13) and the Psalm of this character ( Psalm 96:11 sq; Psalm 98:7 sq; comp. Psalm 89:12). Their appearance with the freshness of plant—life is compared with a garment of rejoicing, girding the hills which previously appeared naked and sad, and the grain with a shawl in which the valleys wrapped themselves all over.”—C. A. B.]

[ Psalm 65:13. The meadows are clothed with flocks.—Some translate instead of meadows or pasturage, rams (J. D. Mich.) or lambs (Hengst.) as Psalm 37:20, after the ancient versions, which the language does not require, and it would give a singular expression to a plain thought.—They shout for joy, yea, they sing.—We can hardly regard men and beasts, the inhabitants of the creation (Hengst.), as the subject of the Psalm and singing in this clause, but must either take the above—mentioned meadows and valleys (Calvin, et al.), the inanimate creation in general in accordance with poetical usage (Hupfeld), or resolve the third person plural into the general and comprehensive “they” (“ Prayer of Manasseh,” Luther, Ewald, Delitzsch), which is more correct than to put at once “the people” (Hitzig), and thus limit it.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. God has revealed Himself in history and nature in such a character that we cannot do better than resign ourselves to Him as well as give thanks, and thus pay our vows in fact.

2. In the historical life of the people God obligates them to give such thanks as this by atoning for their sins, by providing them in His house with the enjoyment of His presence and satisfaction in the good things of His house which correspond with their needs, and by giving them protection, assistance and victory in their relations with other nations.

3. With respect to the relations of nature, this happens by a government of the world created by Him in such a manner that all needy creatures turn to Him in trust, and His own people, who are well cared for, praise Him with the more thankfulness as the praise of the Creator and Preserver sounds in all places and quarters, and every good thing with which God adorns the earth every new year of goodness reminds them of the highest good, the communion of salvation which God has established and preserves with and among His favored ones.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

If all creatures praise God, man must not be backward and least of all those who have received forgiveness of sins.—Submission to God’s advice, God’s will and hand, is true thankfulness for all the spiritual and bodily bounties of the Most High.—God fits not only the earth, but also Prayer of Manasseh, so that they can bring forth the desired fruits.—Follow the tracks of God, and you will meet everywhere abundant blessings. We can find the tracks of God all over the world; but all depends upon our drawing near to God Himself.—The year that God has blessed has its bounties for which we should praise God; but a still richer and more enduring favor is in the sanctuary dedicated to Him.

Luther: Run all over the world—yet Thou art the only one, O God, upon whom man’s comfort of heart can stand and remain.

Starke: Since all men are in manifold weakness and needs, is it not a great thing that we have a Lord with whom we can all take refuge?—The true worship of God is no burden to the believing, but the greatest benefit and refreshment.—No one can escape from God’s sight; this must terrify the ungodly; but it strengthens the confidence of the pious.—Every place on earth has received its special favors from the Creator, so that no place has nothing, and no place has all.—The kingdom of nature points everywhere to the riches of the Divine blessing and grace; how full then must the kingdom of grace be.

Frisch. The world so forgets the benefits it has received; Zion and its children take them to heart much better.—To be a true member of the Church of God, is man’s greatest happiness.—Franke: It becomes those who are called God’s people to show by their words and walk, that they are His people in deed and in truth.—Tholuck: As often as the spring comes, God reveals Himself to us again as the Almighty who yet uses His power to bestow blessings.—Stier: Praise of the prayer—hearing God; a, for forgiveness of sins; b, admission to His sanctuary; c, satisfaction with its blessings.—Umbreit: Faith in the hearing of prayer and the help of God is based on the miracles of Omnipotence spread out before the eyes of men.—Taube: God’s name is majesty; but it is a majesty full of grace and goodness.

[Matt. Henry: As there are holy groanings which cannot be uttered, so there are holy adorings which cannot be uttered, and yet shall be accepted by Him that searcheth the heart and knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit.—The holy freedom that we are admitted to in God’s courts and the nearness of our approach to Him must not at all abate our reverence and godly fear of Him; for He is terrible in His holy places.—Wherever God goes, He leaves the tokens of His mercy behind Him.—Barnes: God, in the advancing seasons, passes along through the earth, and rich abundance springs up wherever He goes.—Spurgeon: He who is once admitted to God’s courts shall inhabit them forever. Permanence gives preciousness. Terminated blessings are but half blessings.—Terrible things will turn out to be blessed things after all, when they come in answer to prayer.—How truly rich are those who are enriched with grace!—Nature has no discords. Her airs are melodious. Her chorus is full of harmony. All, all is for the Lord; the world is a hymn to the Eternal. Blessed is he who, hearing, joins in it and makes one singer in the mighty chorus.—C. A. B.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Psalms 65:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/psalms-65.html. 1857-84.

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