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A Study of the Psalms: Part 1

By G.V. Wigram


      INTRODUCTORY REMARKS.

      It has pleased the Most High to reveal Himself to us (in that which men call the New Testament), under the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (Matt. 28: 19). In this we learn redemption eternal and for Heaven.

      Of old, in the Creation of the world, He had revealed His eternal power and Godhead (Rom. 1: 20). After the deluge, He made a fresh revelation of Himself in another glory, viz., as in the patience of long-suffering goodness in Providence (Gen. 8: 21, 22, and Gen. 9: 8-17); the rainbow the memorial of it. Then, again, He displayed Himself and new glories in Government upon the Earth, as the alone One to be worshipped, and as the King to be obeyed, of Israel -- His own peculiar nation, which He redeemed for Himself out of Egypt. As the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, was not made known in those times, neither was heaven His dwelling-place thrown open to faith; nor was this done until the Holy Ghost came down on the day of Pentecost, a witness of Jesus, the earth-rejected,   - that He was Lord and Christ, and upon the throne on high. The peculiarity of the light vouchsafed to us must not be forgotten, nor the power which has been given to us. The church was not revealed in Old Testament times, nor referred to, nor had the Holy Ghost come down to dwell in it.

      Creation, providence and government upon earth were three spheres, each giving its own distinctive testimony; but the testimony of none of them was that which the Son brought forth: He was the truth. Life and immortality were brought to light through the gospel. All the fulness of the Godhead dwelt in Him bodily; and His alone it was to say, "he that has seen me has seen the Father also." Man now, and from that time to this, stands under the light of eternity and of heaven opened. The revelation now is of the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

      Eternal redemption, as taught us in the epistle to the Hebrews, had been foreshadowed by a temporal redemption of Israel out of Egypt: but the types and emblems of Old Testament times pointed on to that to which they would have to give place when it came, whether, first, as applied to the church now, or as, secondly, to be applied hereafter, in its second covenant to Israel. In both applications the leading Personage is one and the same, the Lord Jesus Christ: yet, as presented to us now, while in His present position in heaven, it brings out to light the value and import of His higher divine and heavenly associations in a way that it will not, when it is applied to the House of Israel in the land.

      The Psalms contain the proof of this when the subjects of any of them are carefully set in the light of the epistles. Compare the subject opened up in any Psalm with the counterpart of it now, and with the counterpart of it when Israel is restored to the land, and what I have said is clear enough. The principles connected with forgiveness of sins, as laid down in Psalm 32, for instance, are the same as those laid down in Romans 4, and in the Scriptures which tell of Israel's forgiveness; but the light of Hebrews 10 -- Christ upon the throne of the Majesty in the Highest (and the throne of God thus made the mercy-seat) -- and my conscience brought there through faith and by the Spirit -- transcends infinitely the light found for Israel in the last eight chapters of Ezekiel -- when Jehovah and His restored temple will be known to Israel dwelling in the city Jehovah-Shammah. So again, compare Ps. 103: and Eph. 1: 15, to 2: 10, and who will not see that our light about mercy and grace altogether surpasses both David's, and that of the nation Israel in the day of its glory.

      Let me now ask my reader, whether he ever noticed the order in which the Psalms stand? It is, so far as I know, the same in all Hebrew bibles. If you examine it, you will find that the Psalms are not placed in the order of the events which they describe, or to which they refer. In the order in which the events occurred, the cross took place before the resurrection, and before the ascension of the Lord to heaven. But Psalm 2, which describes that which was after (compare Acts 4: 25, 26) the cross, is placed before Psalm 22, which gives the crucifixion. The crucifixion, I say, occurred before the Holy Ghost charged man with the sin of rebellion against the Lord and His anointed, heaven-honoured though earth-rejected: yet in the order of the Psalm 22 is after Psalm 2. And if this is true, when things are looked at in principle, it is only still more obviously so when results in detail are considered; compare Psalm 11. 9, in principle true in Acts 4: 25, 26, but in full result exhibited in Rev. 2: 27. Again, Psalm 22 and Psalm 40 are atonement Psalms. The latter is largely quoted in Heb. 10: and the former is a divine description of the sufferings endured by Messiah when on the cross; at least from ver. 1 to 21. Yet these Psalms are placed, among the Psalms, after Psalm 2 and Psalm 8, the one of which gives us the recognition in heaven of Messiah when Israel on earth had rejected Him, and the other presents His title of glory as Son of man. Peter, and James and John show us the import of Psalm 2, in a result of the cross; Paul, in the Hebrews 2, uses the 8th Psalm as describing what has resulted from the cross. Take again, Psalm 16 and Psalm 17, and compare them with those which precede and which follow them, and then examine the New Testament for the historical order of events; and the same result appears. I need not trace out here this, which I have in study done, as to each of the Psalms.*

      *In the above I bring forward only that which seems to me unanswerable: a Psalm is commented on in the New Testament and so far explained; it has a place assigned to it by the inspired writer, so has another and another Psalm; and the location of the Psalms in the Psalter are thus shown to be other than that of the order of events to which these Psalms refer. I do not now refer to the titles at the head of the Psalms. Yet I know of no question raised as to their being integrally part of the inspired text: the Hebrew Bible, -- not the Septuagint, nor the Syriac, nor the Arabic, nor the Vulgate -- being considered as the Volume of Inspiration. Rationalistic objectors I need not answer.

      "Lord, why is this?" -- is more according to faith than are the efforts to re-arrange the collection, made by some according to the order of the things predicted, and by others according to the times of writing. Faith would take the book as God gave it, though humbly owning man's wretched unfaithfulness as the keeper of it. Faith knows right well that God's order and man's are not the same. In God, counsel and plan went before work and before revelation too. With man in his fallen state God deals according to the moral condition in presenting truth; and the order in which He dealt with the Apostle of the circumcision was different from that in which He dealt to the Apostle of the uncircumcision.

      Thankful as we ought to be for the Authorised Version of the Bible, it is not part of its excellency that the very names used and the various characters under which Divine glory is presented in Scripture -- those of Elohim, El, Jehovah, Jah, Shaddai, Adonai, etc. -- at times each found alone, and at times in combinations together -- have not been marked: and, perhaps as a natural result of this, headings have been put to chapters which lead to confusion between the Church and Israel, and between the Gospel to us and Mercy to Israel hereafter. See the headings in Isaiah to chapters 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45; and, in the Psalms the word Church forced into the headings in Ps. 20, 44, 45, 46, 48, 50, 51, 68, 76, 80, 83, 87, 89, 97, 114, 122, 124, 126, 129, 147, 149.

      It is the persuasion that if any one searched out the force of these names and read the book of Psalms in the light which these names cast upon it, light would arise to them such as they have not now, which has led to the present paper. And let me say that to read Scripture in the presence of the Divine glory is a very different thing from reading it in the light of our own private feelings and experiences. All Scripture is about the Lord Jesus, in one or other display of His glory. We cannot degrade ourselves in holy things more than by putting ourselves as the centre or end of the testimony of the word. Lower the Lord in reality we cannot; but lower ourselves by false views of Him and of His Father and ours, and of His God and our God we can; and how many do so through a want of intelligence in the Psalms.

      None but He Himself had the right to say, " Go, tell my brethren, behold I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and to your God." None but He could give power to any to enter, through Him, into these two relationships: Himself the revealer of' the Father, and Himself God manifest in flesh. These things He did according to His own personal glory and work after His resurrection. Jehovah alone can have the right and the power to renew Jehovah covenant with Israel upon earth; He alone can have the power to do so. The same may be said as to the Elohistic position and blessings for a people or peoples upon earth. The same may be said as to the titles Adonai, Shaddai, etc., even as to all the titles and characteristics found in the Roll of the glories of the Messiah. Is the Anointed dear to me? Do I need to know more about Him? I must take Scripture then as I find it, and if I cannot give up out of the New Testament (John 21: 17) "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father; and to my God and to your God " -- as the essential and distinctive portion of the believer now -- yet must I let Scripture stand in the Old Testament as it was written, and I shall then find through it further testimony to His glories and to His grace.

      "The Hebrews divide the Psalms into five Books: of which the first three end in "Amen and Amen," namely, Psalm 41 last verse; Psalm 72 last verse but one; Psalm 89 last verse. The fourth book ends with Hallelujah, Psalm 106 last verse. The fifth in Hallelujah, Psalm 150 last verse." -- Bythner's "Lyre."

      I have tried to give, markedly, this subdivision, because when each Psalm is studied under the light of Scripture in general and of the New Testament in particular, it seems to me that internal evidence assigns it in its grand fulfilment to one of five positions in which the blessed Saviour, who is the great subject of all testimony, will be known to stand as to Israel.

      These five positions are: --

      1stly. Messiah earth-rejected but heaven-honoured yet the object of faith to some Israelites in the land and in Jerusalem.

      2ndly. As occupied with some who in the land have. been rejected for His (Messiah's) sake.

      3rdly. As occupied with the ten tribes, who never actually dipped their hands in His blood like the two tribes.

      4thly. As coming into the world to take the kingdom and bring Israel into blessing in the land and the Gentiles into blessing under them.

      5thly. As acting and regulating everything so as to, get His own earthly people, in heart and in mind, into readiness for, and fellowship with Himself of, the blessing in the land on the millennial earth.

      The translation is strictly that of the Authorised Version; only the original names of Elohim, El, Jehovah, Jah, Adonai, etc., as found in the Hebrew text, are retained. Also occasional explanatory matter (sometimes taken from the original edition of the Authorised Version, namely. King James's Bible, (1611) is inserted in [ ] brackets. Again, I have added at the foot of each Psalm a running analysis* of the contents of it.

      *In these "contents" of a Psalm, I may oft use "the faithful" where others have used "the remnant." I do so intentionally, as the former expression includes all that are such, and leaves the question open as to how many remnants there may be.

      As to the respective meanings of these different titles and names of the Most High, and of the glories which attach to them, I would now say a few words. I shall endeavour to find light about them in the Scripture use of them.

      1. Elohim is the name used by the Spirit in giving to us His description of the creation, from "In the beginning God [Elohim] created the heaven and the earth" (Gen. 1: 1 - 2: 3) to "And God [Elohim] blessed the seventh day," etc. Paul also helps us in Rom. 1: 19, 20 -- "that which may be known of God is manifest in them [men]; for God has showed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead."* Here the origination of the world, attributed to Elohim, is declared to be a manifestation and proof of His eternal power and Godhead.

      *The word rendered Godhead here is theiotees: there is another word theotees in Col. 2: 9, where in writing about the Lord it is said: "in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." Here the question is about the person "Christ," ver. 8. Each of the words occurs but once in the New Testament, They are not to be confounded as though they were one word and not two.

      The word Elohim may be derived from El, power: probably enough: but the important thing is that He, Elohim, displayed, in a given scene, creation, the eternal power and Godhead which is the revelation of His title of Elohim. Supreme power, as its meaning, would suit the use of it in Scripture as applied to the Most High Himself. It suits, too, its application in a secondary sense, either to angels of heaven as being powers that excel in strength to do His commandments; Ps. 8: 5 and compare Ps. 97: 7 and Heb. 1: 6; or to judges in government down here, as in Ex. 21: 6, and Ex. 22: 8, 9, 28 marg., and 1 Sam. 2: 25; or to those to whom the word of Elohim comes, compare John 10: 34-36 and Ps. 82: 6. Our translators retain the same idea, when it occurs, as they judged, adjectively, as in Gen. 23: 6, which they render not "a prince of God," but "a mighty prince;" and see also Ex. 9: 28 and 1 Sam. 14: 15.

      2. The word Jehovah is first found in Gen. 2: 4-15, but not alone; it stands here in combination with the title Elohim, which we have been considering. Man's distinctive position as the head and centre of a system in the presence of, and in relationship with, Elohim is what introduces Jehovah-Elohim; term by which He is called on to the end of Gen. 3: 24.

      Ex. 6: 3 helps us, however, here, "but by my name of Jehovah was I not known to them" (the Patriarchs). To them He appeared as God Almighty (El-Shaddai). I cannot doubt that the display which reveals the glory of the compound name of Jehovah-Elohim differs from that which reveals the glory of the single title Elohim, and from that which reveals Jehovah glory. Let any one examine the three scenes -- the character of man's relationship with the Most High and blessing under Him in Eden (Gen. 2: 4-15), in the land as redeemed out of Egypt (Exodus), and, as hereafter, when in the land under the second covenant -- and he will see how well Jehovah-Elohim, Jehovah, and Jehovah-Elohim-Shaddai respectively suit the three displays.

      The term Jehovah is never applied to any other than the Most High; it may be derived so as to imply essential existence -- the existing one.

      3. El. -- Its first occurrence is in Gen. 14: 18-20: "Melchizedek . . . priest of El-Gnelion" [or of the Most High* God].

      *The word rendered here, "Most High," is translated, Isaiah 7: 3, "the conduit of the upper (or high) pool" (see also Isa. 36: 2, and Jer. 36: 10), "the higher (or high) court," etc.: some would render it, in Dan. 7: 18-27, saints "of the high" places; and some would prefer in this passage, God "of most high" places.

      Might or power is the meaning of it when used as a common noun; mighty when the adjectival use of it occurs. The spring of the Patriarch's strength was not in himself but in another; his ability to use that strength was in his own separation to that other individually and in every way. The name is one (how well known to us all) in that cry, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani." He was the power and the wisdom of God, yet was crucified through weakness. His title, too, was Immanu-el (the mighty one with us, Isra-el). And how could He be that and hide His face from human woe, or from that which lay at the root of all man's woe -- sin and guilt before God.

      4. Eloah. This is the singular number of the plural form Elohim. He it is who in Genesis 1, is revealed as the creator of heaven and of earth, the arranger and disposer of that which He creates.

      The singular form occurs but fifty-seven times, the plural 2,700. In many of the occurrences of the singular form, the context presents more a contrast between the thought of one God and many gods, than between the who the one only true God is, and the what the so-called many are. And thus the abstract notion of Deity, which necessarily excludes plurality, is set in sharp contrast with the absurdity of having many "one firsts" and "one lasts"; and the eternal power and Godhead, traces of whose power and beneficence are still seen in the wreck of creation and in providence, are set in contrast with demons and demoniacal characteristics.

      The first occurrence of the word will show this. Deut. 32: 15-17: "Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook Eloah [God] which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation. They provoked him to jealousy with strange (gods), with abominations provoked they him to anger. They sacrificed unto Devils, and not to Eloah; to gods [elohim] whom they knew not, to new (gods) that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not."

      Again Neh. 9: 16-19, "Our fathers dealt proudly, and hardened their necks . .. . but thou art a God [Eloah] ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not. Yea, when they had made them a molten calf, and said, This is thy God [elohim] that brought thee out of Egypt, and had wrought great provocations; yet thou in thy manifold mercies forsookest them not in the wilderness."

      The three words Elohim, Eloah and El are from one root, and seem, each of them, to convey the idea of power in their meaning. Judging from their use, however, I think three shades of meaning can be traced: that He whom alone we adore has (1) creatorial power, (2) victorious power, and (3) thus, in His very being, stands in contrast with all that are called gods.

      5. Adon, Adonim, Adonai.

      I give these three words together, -- though in use they are very distinct, as we shall see.

      A. Adon (lord) first occurs in Gen. 18: 12, where Sarah speaks of Abram as "her lord"; and 1 Peter 3: 6, says "Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him 'lord.'" This sense -- viz., that of acknowledged deference to a party addressed -- whether the superiority be in position under a relationship, as of a husband addressed by a wife, or of a landholder to a foreign prince, of a servant to a master, a subject to a king, etc., etc., is the common use.

      But it is used with Elohim -- as in Ex. 23: 17, thy males shall appear before the Lord [the Adon] Jehovah (read by the Jews here as Lord God): just so, likewise, in Ex. 34: 23. In Joshua 3: 11, 13, we have the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth. Ps. 97: 5, at the presence of Jehovah, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. See also Ps. 110: 1 and Ps. 114: 7. In Isaiah 1: 24, thus saith the Lord, Jehovah of hosts; so in Isa. 3: 1; so in Isa. 10: 33, and Isa. 10: 4; but in Isaiah 3: 16 the Lord, Adonai of hosts. In Micah 4: 13, their gain to Jehovah and their substance to the Lord of the whole earth; so Zech. 4: 14; 6: 5 and Mal. 3: 1 the Lord . . . even Jehovah of hosts.

      I have given what occurrences I have found of its use in the singular in connection with divine titles. From Acts 2: 26, "made lord," and Phil. 2: 10, 11, etc. every tongue shall confess to him that he is Lord," and Heb. 1: 2 "appointed heir of all things," we know how the man, God manifest in flesh, Christ Jesus, has been owned on high as owner and Lord of all. Made Lord of all He has been as a man. Jehovah, no one could be made; -- that He ever was and is and will be according to His essential divine being.

      B. Adonim (Lords) is the plural of Adon (lord).

      In Gen. 19: 2, Lot addresses two angels as "my lords," so also perhaps in ver. 18; but, here, our translators have not attended to the points, for they give "my lord": now it must, according to the points, be either "my Lords" or "Adonai." It is, however, habitually used in the plural for an individual. In the following places it is used in the plural of the Most High: --

      Deut. 10: 17. For Jehovah, your Elohim, is Elohim of Elohim and Lord (Adonim) of Lords (Adonim), the great El,

      Neh. 3: 5. the work of their Lord (Adonim).

      Neh. 8: 10. holy unto our Lord (Adonim):

      Neh. 10: 29. Jehovah, our Lord (Adonim),

      Ps. 8 1, 9. O Jehovah, our Lord (Adonim).

      Ps. 45: 11. He is thy Lord (Adonim);

      Ps. 135: 5. Jehovah is great . . . . our Lord (Adonim) is, etc.

      Ps. 136: 3. Give thanks to the Lord (Adonim) of Lords (Adonim):

      Ps. 147: 5. Great is our Lord (Adonim),

      Isaiah 51: 22. Thus saith thy Lord (Adonim) Jehovah, and thy Elohim,

      Hosea 12: 14. his Adonim (Lord) shall return unto him.

      C. Adonai, with a long a in the last syllable, is what is called a plural of excellence. The Hebrews would consider it as a sacred name -- to be used only of the Most High. The translators of the Authorised Version, in about 430 times that it occurs, render it as if it were not always a plural of excellence but sometimes as a noun and a pronoun. In twelve places they give it as a noun and a pronoun, namely:

      Gen. 18: 3. My Lord, if now I have found

      Ex. 4: 10. said to Jehovah, O my Lord,

      Ex. 4: 13. and he said, O my Lord,

      Ex. 34: 9. O Lord, let my Lord

      Num. 14: 17. let my Lord be great,

      Judges 6: 15. Oh my Lord,

      13: 8. O my Lord,

      Ezra 10: 3. according to the counsel of my Lord,

      Ps. 16: 2. Thou (art) my Lord:

      Ps. 35: 23. my God and my Lord.

      Isaiah 21: 8. My Lord, I stand continually

      Isaiah 49: 14. and my Lord hath forgotten me.

      But, noun with a pronominal affix -- this, according to the form of the word (the place in which it occurs in the sentences cited not being at the close, so as to put it in pause). it cannot be. Adonai [or Lord] it had better always be rendered; and I doubt not but that careful students of Scripture will trace a fulness and a weight in the word as used by the Spirit in Scripture which will separate it, in their minds, from Adon the lord, master, proprietor, etc., and perhaps from Adonim the possessor.

      It never has a pronoun, nor the article -- but is, in this respect, just as the word Jehovah -- and I believe is only use of the Most High.

      If the translators of the Authorised Version had not appropriated "lord, Lord, LORD" to other uses, I should have been satisfied, to have used lord for Adon, in the singular; Lord for Adonim, in the plural; and LORD for Adonai. But as they have bespoken these terms, it may be better to mark the three words in question in some other ways.

      6. Jah. -- This word occurs forty-three times in the Psalms, and only six times besides, viz., Ex. 15: 2, and Ex. 17:16; and Isa. 12: 2, and Isa. 26: 4, and Isa. 38: 11, 11; in all of which it is printed LORD, just as the word Jehovah ordinarily is, though not so in Isa. 12: 2, and Isa. 26: 4, where it stands as Jehovah.

      Ex. 15: 2. Jah is my strength and song,

      Ex. 17:16. Jah hath sworn that Jehovah will have war [Note this expression.]

      Isa. 12: 2. For Jah Jehovah is my strength and song;

      Isa. 26: 4. Trust ye in Jehovah for ever: for in Jah Jehovah is the rock of ages:

      Isa. 38:11. I said, I shall not see Jah, Jah, in the land of the living:

      7. Shaddai.   - It is always rendered in the Authorised Version by the term, "the Almighty;" and I note also that the Hebrew word, Shaddai, has no synonym; so that Shaddai " is not only always the Almighty, but also "the Almighty" never represents any Hebrew word but "Shaddai." In the Psalms it occurs but twice, viz., Ps. 68: 14, and Ps. 91: 1. Of the forty-eight times it occurs, thirty-one are in the Book of Job" It is only used of the Most High, and the Almighty is a sufficient rendering; or, as some derive it, "Almighty in sustaining resources" (as the mother's breast for a babe); this I prefer.

      8. Gnelion occurs fifty-three times, of which twenty-two are in the Psalms. As an appellative it means high   - "the high gate" (2 Chr. 23: 20, 2 Chr. 27: 3), "the high pool," "the house that is high" (1 Kings 9: 8). Though I have referred (see above) to the desire of some to change its application in Daniel (in a note under El), myself I see no reason for not being satisfied with the good old English, "the Most High," as its rendering for Him who is The High One. It may be well for me to mark those places in the Psalms in which the Hebrew word maroom (exalted) is also Anglicised "Most High," as in Ps. 56: 2, and Ps. 92: 8.

      The order in which I have examined these names and titles is Elohim, Jehovah, El, Eloah, Adon, Adonim, Adonai, Jah, Shaddai, Gnelion. I shall now, for facility of reference, rearrange them alphabetically according to the English, putting after the word its number, as in my examination above, and its meaning.

      Adon (5/1), lord in power.

      Adonim (5/2), Lord as owner.

      Adonai (5/3), LORD as in blessing.

      Elohim (1), creatorial power.

      El (3), victorious power.

      Eloah (4), used to mark off the individual who is the true One from all pretenders.

      Gnelion (8), the High One.

      Jah (6),

      Jehovah (2), a name for relationship in blessing between the self-existent I AM and Israel.

      Shaddai (7), Almighty in sustaining-resources.

      As a rule I do not insert the before Elohim, yet I have left it in the English, in such cases as "the Elohim -- of his salvation" (Ps. 24: 5) -- "of my salvation" (Ps. 25: 5).

      "O" before Jehovah and Elohim, etc., I leave just as it stands in the version I have adopted.

      The following verses present the word written in Hebrew (as to the letters of it) as Jehovah, but with the vowel points of Elohim: -- Ps. 68: 21, and Ps. 69: 7, and Ps. 71: 5, 16, and Ps. 73: 28, and Ps. 109: 21, and Ps. 140: 8, and Ps. 141: 8.

      In our Authorised Version we find the "Anointed" in the following places in the Ps. 2: 2, and Ps. 18: 50, and Ps. 20: 6, and Ps. 28: 8, and Ps. 84: 9, and Ps. 89: 38, 51, and Ps. 105: 15, and Ps. 132: 10, 17.

      I change the word Anointed to "Messiah," as being more conventionally correct for the Psalms. Messiah and Christ both mean " the Anointed." The former is Hebrew; the latter Greek. The anointing is consecration: in His case, 1st, as Prophet, for He is the bearer of the word of the Most High; 2ndly, as Priest, the conductor of divine worship; and 3rdly, as King, the conductor of government. "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power" (Acts 10: 38).

      The following remarks on the meanings of the Hebrew words in the book of Psalms, which have not, in the Authorised Version, been translated, is taken from a paper in "The Present Testimony," vol. i. No. III. page 46: -

      1. AIJELETH-SHAHAR

      (Ps. 22: title.)

      Aijeleth occurs only here and in Prov. 5: 19, 'the loving hind'; and Jer. 14: 5, 'the hind.' But there are many kindred words which confirm this meaning.

      Shahar occurs about twenty-three times; it means morning, e.g. Gen. 19: 15, 'when the morning arose;' and 32: 24 (25), 'the breaking of the day;' and 26 (27), 'the day breaketh,' etc.

      The marginal reading for Aijeleth-Shahar, given by the translators, is, 'hind of the morning.'

      Query? Was this the name of an instrument; or of a tune to which the Psalm was to be sung; or was it rather a name given to the Psalm on account of its subject?

      2. ALAMOTH occurs in 1 Chr. 15: 20, 'with psalteries on Alamoth'; Ps.46 title, 'A song upon Alamoth.'

      The same word Alamoth (which is only the plural of the word commonly used for Virgin, as Isa. 7: 14, 'a virgin shall conceive,' etc.), is, however, found, Ps. 68: 25, 'the damsels playing,' etc. Cant. 1: 3, 'The virgins love thee;' Cant. 6: 8, 'Virgins without number.'

      'For the Virgins' (i.e. virgin voices) makes good sense, and accords with modern singing: as we say, 'for boys' voices.'

      It may, however, be the name of an instrument, or of a tune.

      3. AL-TASCHITH occurs in the titles of Ps. 57, Ps. 58, Ps. 69, and Ps. 75.

      AL means not, and TASCHITH, destroy, as the translator's margin reads 'Destroy not.'

      Observation must decide whether this was connected with the subject of the Psalms, or whether it was the name of a tune.

      4. DEGREES. Though anglicised songs of Degrees in Ps. 120 - 134, a few words may not be amiss inasmuch as 'Degrees' is nearly as unintelligible to some, as would Mangaloth be.

      The same word is used in Ex. 20: 26, for the steps of an altar, as in 1 Kings 10: 19, of a throne; 2 Kings 9: 13, the stairs, and 2 Kings 20: 9, the degrees of a sundial; 1 Chr. 17: 17, a man of high degree; Ezra 7: 9, or a journey, 'began to go up;' Ezek. 11: 5, the things which come into your mind;' Amos 9: 6, 'he that buildeth his stories in the heaven' (marg. ascensions or spheres). The word from which it is derived means simply, to go up -- ascend.

      Luther renders it, 'in the higher choir' (im hohren Chor), higher, either as to position in which placed, or, perhaps, tone of voice.

      Some have supposed these songs were sung on the steps of the temple; so the LXX., and Vulgate.

      To my own mind, there is an internal evidence in them, of their being written in grace, for some such times of exercise as when, thrice in the year, the males were to go up from their homes and appear before the Lord. A few of them may also have reference to such goings up as Ezra's from captivity.

      5. GITTITH. Ps. 8, Ps. 81, and Ps. 84.

      "The word Gath, winepress, is by most connected with this word, as the inhabitants of Gath were called Gittites.

      Whether the vat; or Gath, the town; or an instrument of the name; or a tune is referred to; Query?

      Some one suggests that they are all joyous songs, suited to be sung on such an occasion as a harvest-home, or a vintage.

      6. HIGGAION. Thus once rendered in Ps. 9: 16 It occurs in three other places: -- 'and the meditation of my heart,' Ps. 19: 14; 'harp with a solemn sound,' Ps. 92: 3; 'and their device against me,' Lam. 3: 62.

      The humming sound of a harp struck, is supposed to correspond to the indistinct thoughts of musing; or the device against one who is hated; for the device, in this case, tells, but indistinctly, the hatred within.

      I do not see why meditation, or solemn sound, or device might not have been put for Higgaion, and the verse anglicised with the addition of some words in italics, as (this was their) meditation, or device: or a solemn sound, (this).

      7. JONATH-ELEM-RECHOKIM is only found Ps. 56 title.

      Jonah means dove, as in Gen. 8: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12; or pigeon, as in Lev. 1: 14, etc.

      Elem means bound; the verb is frequently used to mark silence; as, I was dumb, Ps. 39: 3, 10; but it is applicable to any binding: as, Gen. 37: 7, binding sheaves.

      The word Elem only occurs here, where it is commonly said to mean silence, and in Ps. 58: 1, where it is rendered 'Do ye indeed speak righteousness, O congregation?' (i.e. mass of persons bound together).

      Rechokim, in Hebrew, is a distinct word from Elem; though, in English, sometimes printed as one with it; it is a participle of the verb translated (Ps. 22: 11), 'Be not far from me;' see also Ps. 5: 19, and Ps. 35: 22, and Ps. 38: 21, and Ps. 71: 12, and Ps. 109: 17, etc.

      'The dove of silence (among) strangers' is a common literal.

      The dove of -- that which is bound -- persons afar off -- are its three representative terms in English. -- Compare the Psalm itself.

      8. LEANNOTH, See under 9.

      9. MAHALATH occurs alone Ps. 53.

      The dictionary says, 'meaning uncertain.' Why not, as others, sickness, or disease, taking it as the common noun of the verb (Gen. 48: 1) 'thy father is sick;' Ps. 35: 13, 'when they were sick; etc.

      The 53rd Psalm is striking, concerning the diseased state of the nation, and its importance as a Psalm is seen in its being given a second time in the book, but slightly altered (see No. 14).

      The word Mahalath also occurs with LEANNOTH, after it, Ps. 88, which may be the plural of the word rendered Wormwood, Deut. 29: 18; Prov. 5: 4; Jer. 9: 15, 23: 15, etc.; and Hemlock, Amos 6: 12 -- unless Leannoth be a proper name, concerning the sickness of Leannoth; concerning the disease of wormwood (i.e. the deadly, bitter disease), which would suit the Psalm.

      The LXX divided Leannoth into le, the preposition to, and sing, respond to; and consider Mahalath either a proper name, or the name of a tune, or instrument, huper maeleth tou apokrithenai to sing on, or to Mahalath. I prefer the other.

      10. MASCHIL. Translated in margin, 'or giving instruction.'

      There are thirteen of these Psalms. viz.: -- Ps. 32, Ps. 42, Ps. 44, Ps. 45, Ps. 52, Ps. 53, Ps. 54, Ps. 55, Ps. 74, Ps. 78, Ps. 88, Ps. 89, Ps. 142.

      As the translators have given a rendering here, I say no more than that their ride readings (as found in King James' bible) are as authoritative as their text, and of far more value than modern 'lit.' which are often worse than nonsense. As a whole. their translation is as wonderful as is the mercy which God has shown to this land, in connection with it, as above that of other lands.

      11. The MICHTAM Psalms are Ps. 16, Ps. 56, Ps. 57, Ps. 58, Ps. 59, and Ps. 60.

      I know no better rendering than the common one, a golden psalm. The word Michtam occurs nowhere else; but the word rendered, in gold of Ophir, Ps. 45: 9; and golden wedge (Isa. 13: 12) is a kindred word, and occurs nine times, as gold, and in no other sense.

      12. MUTH-LABBEN. Ps. 9 title.

      Muth (Ps. 48: 14), our guide unto death.

      La, for the; ben, son. ' Concerning death for the Son.'

      The LXX. huper ton kruphion tou huiu concerning the secret things of the Son.

      13. NEGINAH, of which Neginoth is the plural.

      Job 30: 9, 'I am their song;' Ps. 69: 12, 77: 6, song; so Isa. 38: 20; and Lam. 3: 14; Lam. 5: 14, musick; Heb. 3: 19, 'on my stringed instruments' (margin, neginoth ) shows the meaning plainly enough. The verb is to strike the strings. Neginah occurs on Ps. 61 title: Neginoth, Ps. 4, Ps. 6, Ps. 54, Ps. 55, Ps. 67, Ps. 76. Upon the stringed instrument, or upon the stringed instruments.

      14. NEHILOTH. Ps. 5.

      The pipes, or flutes, as commonly derived from the verb, to pierce.

      15. SELAH occurs seventy times in the Psalms, and three times in Habakkuk.

      All sorts of tortures have been inflicted on this word, to make it speak. Some take its three consonants as the first letters of three words, and render it as equivalent to our da capo. in music: let the musician return. But this is very unlike old Hebrew.

      Gesenius says, it is Silence, supposing it equivalent to the words, at rest. Dan. 4: 4; as if Shelah and Selah were the same. Though I desire to read with shoes off my feet (for the place is holy, and I dread conjectures), it might, according to kindred words, mean raising. And so silence, as the result of one's rising from singing; for the idea of weighing is found in Lam. 4: 2, in a good sense, comparable to gold; and also, in a bad sense Ps. 119: 118, trodden down.

      I observe that Selah is put often where a pause is natural, as after some peculiar statement; and thus, practically, I feel that it is pause, or silence, with Gesenius. More I cannot say.

      16. SHEMINITH occurs 1 Chr. 15: 21; Ps. 6 title, 12 title.

      The translator's margin gives, on the eighth. It is the common ordinal adjective for eight, and refers to strings of instruments.

      Some render it Octave, as denoting that it is to be played an octave lower than it is written: so, I think, Gesenius. I prefer the margin.

      Observe that in 1 Chr. 20: 21, Alamoth and Sheminith are in contra-position.

      17. SHIGGAION. Ps. 7, and Hab. 3: 1, upon Shigionoth in the plural.

      The verb is, to err, as in Ps 119: 10, 21, 118; Lev. 4: 13, sin through ignorance. A wandering ode -- an ode of wandering.

      Variable songs   -   songs with variations. But I prefer either of the former.

      18. SHOSHANNIM. The lilies, as in Cant. 2: 16, Cant. 4: 5, etc., occurs Ps. 45, Ps. 69, and in connection with Eduth, Ps. 80.

      Shushan-EDUTH (Ps. 40) is the same word nearly, it occurs only 1 Kings 7: 19, lily. Eduth is the common word for the testimony, in Exodus, etc. The lily is supposed to refer to an instrument, from its shape: so, I think, Calmet. Others connect it with the name of a song.

      The word for upon, may just as well be rendered concerning, to, etc.

      AIJELETH-SHAHAR . . . . . .   The hind of the morning.

      ALAMOTH . . . . . . . . . . . . .   Virginals.

      AL-TASCHITH . . . . . . . . . . Destroy not.

      DEGREE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . To go up -- ascend.

      GITTITH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The wine-vat.

      HIGGAION . . . . . . . . . . . . . Meditation.

      JONAH-ELEM-RECHOKIM . The dove dumb (among) strangers.

      MAHALATH . . . . . . . . . . . . Disease.

      -- LEAANOTH . . . . . . . . . Bitter disease.

      MASCHIL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . To instruct.

      MICHTAM . . . . . . . . . . . . . Golden (psalm).

      GNAL MUTH-LABBEN . . . .

      NEGINAH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A stringed instrument.

      NEGINOTH . . . . . . . . . . . . The stringed instruments.

      NEHILOTH . . . . . . . . . . . . The pipes.

      SELAH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pause.

      SHEMINITH . . . . . . . . . . . Eight Stringed instrument.

      SHIGGAION . . . . . . . . . . . . Wandering ode.

      SHOSHANNIM . . . . . . . . . The lilies.

      SHUSHAN . . . . . . . . . . . . . The lily.

      -- EDUTH . . . . . . . . . . . . . -- of the testimony.

      Psalms 1, 2, 6, 11, 7, 15, 16, 17, 19, 21, 23, 26, 28, 29, 32, 34, 39, 93, 101, 102 103, 107 110, 111, 112, 114, 117, 120, 121, 124 - 134, 137, 139, 140   -   142, 148, 149, 150. (forty-eight) have not GOD.

      In Psalms 43, 44, 45, 49, 51, 52, 53, 57, 60, 61, 62, 63, 65, 66, 67, 73, 77, 82, 114, 150., (i.e. twenty) does not occur LORD.

      Much of the force and beauty of the Psalms hangs upon the Divine names, titles, and glories used in them."

      (Signed VR.)

      The titles. Each Psalm, as the general rule, has a title. Those which have none, have been called 'orphans,' in number twenty-three, viz.: 1, 2, 10, 33, 43, 71, 91, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 99, 104, 105, 107, 114, 115, 116, 118, 119, 136, 137, and eleven more, making the number of orphans in all thirty-four, if the word 'Hallelujah' is not looked at as a title; viz.: 106, 111, 112, 113, 117, 135, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150.

      Acrostics are of interest in Scripture, as showing the condescension of God to man's ways. even in the style of composition. I know of none in the New Testament. In the Lamentations, each verse of the 1st, 2nd, and 4th chapters begins with the letters of the alphabet in their successional order. Chap 3 is in triplets; the first three verses have Aleph; the next three have Beth, and so on.

      In the Psalms, the 119th is in octaves; the first eight verses begin with Aleph; the eight next with Beth; and so on.

      Psalms 25, 34, 37, 145 also are in measure acrostic, though not perfectly so.

      I may add that the same word which is rendered "hosts," e.g., Jehovah Tzebaoth [the Lord of hosts], Ps. 24: 10, and Ps. 46: 7, 11, and Ps. 48: 8, is so rendered also of the hosts of the heavens in Ps. 33: 6, and Ps. 44: 9, our armies; and Ps. 68: 11, "the company of those that published it." It is used of armies, angels, and created things as sun, moon, stars, etc.

      In Num. 16: 30, 32, 33, we read of the judgment which fell upon Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, when "the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up" (ver. 33). In Num. 26: 11 we meet with this exception, which sovereign mercy made, "Notwithstanding the children of Korah died not." This is to be noticed in connection with the Psalms. I notice this in connection with the eleven Psalms "for the sons of Korah" -- the 42, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 84, 85, 87, and 88.

      A few general remarks, and I have done.

      1. It is not a bad general notion of the Book of Psalms, which I have met with somewhere (though it be but a human notion, couched, too, in profane and not scriptural language), that the book is made up of "Fragments from the Drama of Redemption." Only, then, as redemption has its heavenly sphere and people, as well as its earthly sphere and people, I should have to add to "Fragments from the Drama of Redemption" the words, "so far as man under government upon earth is concerned."

      2. Observe, the enigma is sometimes introduced; as in Ps. 49: 4, "my dark saying," and in Ps. 78: 2, "dark sayings of old." The Hebrew word is rendered dark speeches, in Num. 12: 8; riddle, in Judges 14: 12-19; hard questions, 1 Kings 10: 1; dark sentences, Dan. 8: 23, etc.

      3. Again, it may help some just to refer to the principles of the dialogue, or of parts for different speakers, which at times is found in the Psalms. In Ps. 16: 1, one prays; ver. 2, he speaks to himself; so in Ps. 32: 8 and 9 are from another speaker than ver. 1-7, etc. Such parts run through the Song of Songs: a male and a female converse together, besides addressing other parties; and neither male can be confounded with female, nor can "my sister" be exchanged with "my brother."

      4. Again, there is at times an oracular voice, or an oracle that, speaks, as in Ps. 91: 1. To which a distinct person replies in ver. 2, while ver. 3-13 are written of him who spoke in ver. 2, as indeed are 14 and 15; but here it is evidently the same person who speaks in ver. 1.

      Thus it will be seen I do not accept it that a verse or portion of a Psalm quoted in the New Testament, as about the Lord Jesus, would appropriate all the rest of the Psalm to Him. Such is a very mischievous notion. The Spirit of God and of Christ is one; and it is the same Spirit as was upon Him when down here which is in His people now. Yet speech that became the Master did not become the disciple, and speech that becomes the Head of the body does not become the member; so speech that will become Messiah Himself, will not become, could not be put by His Spirit into, the mouth of the remnant; much less could language prepared beforehand by the Spirit for the Jewish remnant in the latter day be put into the mouth of Messiah. He holding one part in a Psalm may speak; His Spirit may in a remnant take up another part. The speeches cannot be interchanged and sense (not to say sound doctrine) be maintained.

      The connection, too, that runs on from one Psalm to another -- see, for instance, the 48, 49, 50, and 51, etc., etc. -- cannot be hid from any humble student of the book; but while I just advert to these points, if haply they may meet any beginner's eye, I may not follow them out, as being outside of the proposed scope and aim of this paper.

      Present Testimony. VOL. II. -- New Series. Commenced -- Aug. 24, 1869. No. 1.

Back to G.V. Wigram index.

See Also:
   A Study of the Psalms: Part 1
   A Study of the Psalms: Part 2

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