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Psal. li. xxxii. and xxxiii. were all composed by David after
4. Psalms during the Rebellion of Absalom. This class comprises eight Psalms.
Psal. iii. iv. Iv. Composed when David was driven from Jerusalem by Absalom.
Psal. Ixii. David professes his trust in God during the unnatu-
Psal. Ixx. Ixxi. A prayer of David when pursued by Absalom.
5. The Psalms written between the Death of Absalom and the Captivity are ten in number; viz.
Psal. xviii. David's solemn thanksgiving for all the blessings
Psal. Ixxviii. Composed on occasion of Asa's victory over the forces of the king of Israel. See 2 Chron. xvi. 4. 6. Psal. lxxxii. Instructions given to the judges, during the reign of Jehoshaphat king of Judah. See 2 Chron. xix. 5, 6. Psal. lxxxiii. A triumphal ode, composed on occasion of Jehoshaphat's victory over the Ammonites, Moabites, and other enemies. See 2 Chron. xx. 1. et seq. Psal. lxxvi. Composed after the destruction of Sennacherib's army. See 2 Chron. xxxii.
Psal. Ixxiv. and lxxix. A lamentation for the desolation of the temple of Jerusalem: it was most probably composed at the beginning of the captivity.
6. Psalms composed during the Captivity; the authors of which are unknown. Calmet ascribes them chiefly to the descendants of Asaph and Korah.
Their subjects are wholly of a mournful nature, lamenting the captivity, imploring deliverance, and complaining of the oppression of the Babylonians. These psalms, forty in number, are as follow:-x. xii. xiv. xv. xxv. xxvi. xxvii. xxviii. xxxvi. xxxvii. xlii. xliii. xliv. xlix. 1. liii. lx. lxiv. lxvii. lxix. lxxiii. lxxv. lxxvii. lxxx. lxxxiv. lxxxvi. lxxxviii. lxxxix. xc. xcii. xciii. xciv. xcv. xcix. cxx. cxxi, cxxiii,
cxxx. cxxxi. cxxxii.
7. Psalms composed after Cyrus issued his Edict, allowing the Jews to return from their Captivity.
This class consists of thanksgiving odes for their release, and also on occasion of dedicating the walls of the city, as well as of the second temple. They abound with the most lively expressions of devotion and gratitude, and amount to fifty-one; viz. cxxii. lxi. lxiii. cxxiv. xxiii. lxxxvii. lxxxv. xlvi. xlvii. xlviii. xcvi. to exvii. inclusive, cxxvi. cxxxiii. to cxxxvii. inclusive, cxlix cl. cxlvi. cxlvii. cxlviii. lix. lxv. lxvi. lxvii. cxviii. cxxv. cxxvii. cxxviii. cxxix. cxxxviii. According to this distribution of Calmet, only forty-five of these psalms were composed by David.
VI. At what time and by whom the book of Psalms was collected into one volume, we have no certain information. Many are of opinion that David collected such as were extant in his time into a book for the use of the national worship: this is not unlikely; but it is manifest that such a collection could not include all the psalms, because many of David's odes are scattered throughout the entire series. Some have ascribed the general collection to the friends or servants of Hezekiah before the captivity; but this could only apply to the psalms then extant, for we read that Hezekiah caused the words or psalms of David to be sung in the temple when he restored the worship of Jehovah there (2 Chron. xxix. 25 -30.): the collection by the men of Hezekiah could not comprise any that were composed either under or subsequent to the captivity. That the psalms were collected together at different times and by different persons is very evident from an examination of their contents. Accordingly, in the Masoretic copies (and also in the Syriac version) they are divided into five books; viz.
1. The FIRST BOOK is entitled (SеPHER ACHαD): it comprises psalms i, to xli. and concludes thus:-Blessed be
Dr. Hales refers to this period psalm ciii. which is a psalm of thanksgiving. He considers it as David's eucharistical ode, after God had pardoned his great sin. Analysis of Chronology, vol. ii. pp. 376, 377. VOL. II. 2 H
the LORD God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen. (xli. 13.) It is worthy of remark, that the titles of all these psalms (excepting i. ii.2 x. xxxiii.) ascribe them to David: hence it has been supposed that this first book of psalms was collected by the Hebrew monarch.
2. The SECOND BOOK is termed (SеPHER SHENI): it LORD God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. And includes psalms xlii. to lxxii. and ends with-Blessed be the filled with his glory. Amen and Amen. The prayers of David blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be nation of the second book of Psalms, some have conjectured the son of Jesse are ended. (lxxii. 18-20.) From this termithat David also collected it, as nineteen out of the thirty-one bear his name: but it is more likely that the concluding sentence of psalm 1xxii. simply means the psalms of David in that book, because several of his compositions are to be found in the following books or collections.
it comprehends psalms lxxiii. to lxxxix. which is thus con3. The THIRD BOOK is called (SePHER SHELISHI): cluded: Blessed be the LORD for evermore. Amen and Amen. (lxxxix. 52.) Of the seventeen psalms included in this book, one only is ascribed to David; one to Heman; and one to Ethan: three of the others are directed to the sons of Korah, without specifying the author's name; and eleven collector of this book. bear the name of Asaph, who has been supposed to be the
and also contains seventeen psalms, viz. from xc. to cvi. 4. The FOURTH BOOK is inscribed ya 700 (SePHER ReBingi), This book concludes with the following doxology: Blessed let all the people say, Amen. Praise ye the LORD. (cvi. 48.) be the LORD God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting: and name of David in their title. The rest have no authors' One of these psalms is ascribed to Moses, and two have the names, or titles prefixed to them. The collector of this book is unknown.
5. The FIFTH and last BOOK is called (SеPHER CHaмMISHI), and consists of forty-four psalms, viz. from psalm cvii. to the end of cl. It terminates the whole book of
Psalms thus:-Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD. (cl. 6.) Of these forty-four psalms, fifteen are ascribed to David: the rest have for the most part no titles at all, and are anonymous. This book is supposed to have been collected in the time of Judas Maccabæus, but by whom it is impossible to conjecture.4 antiquity, because it was in existence before the Septuagint This division of the PSALMS into five books is of great Greek version was executed; and as there are many Chaldee words in those composed during or after the Babylonish captivity, the most probable opinion is, that the different collections then extant were formed into one volume by Ezra, when the Jewish canon of Scripture was completed. But whatever subordinate divisions may have existed, it is certain that the Psalms composed but one book in that canon: for they are cited by our Lord collectively as the "Psalms" (Luke xxiv. 44.), and also as "the Book of Psalms" (Luke XX. 42.), by which last title they are cited by St. Peter in Acts i. 20.; and they are reckoned only as one book in all Christians. subsequent enumerations of the Scriptures, both by Jews and
fifty: but in the Septuagint version, as well as in the Syriac, The number of the canonical psalms is one hundred and Arabic, and Ethiopic translation, there is extant another which is numbered CLI. Its subject is the combat of David with Goliath (related in 1 Sam. xvii.) but it is evidently
Acts iv. 25, 26,
God of Israel alone performing wonders;
Finished are the prayers of David, the son of Jesse." -
4 Rosenmüller, Scholia in Psalmos, Proleg. pp. xx.-xxv. c. 3. de
$ Eusebius and Theodoret, in their respective Prefaces to the book of Psalms, consider this book as ranking next in priority to the Pentateuch; on which account it was divided into five parts or books, like the writings
spurious, for, besides that it possesses not a particle of Da-
The following table exhibits at one view the different numerations in the Hebrew and in the Septuagint version:Psal. i.-viii. in the Hebrew are
Psal. ix. x.
Psal. cxiv. cxv.
To which is added,
Psal. i.--viii. in LXX.
Psal. cxvi.-cxlv. in LXX.
Psal. cxlviii.-cl. in LXX. Psal. cli. in LXX. VII. To most of the psalms2 are prefixed INSCRIPTIONS or TITLES, concerning the import of which expositors and interpreters are by no means agreed. Some hold them in the profoundest reverence, considering them as an original part of these divine odes, and absolutely necessary to the right understanding of them, while others regard the titles as subsequent additions, and of no importance whatever. In one thing only are they all unanimous, namely, in the obscurity
of these titles.
That all the inscriptions of the psalms are canonical and inspired, we have no authority to affirm. Augustine, Hilary, Theodoret, Cassiodorus, and many other ancient fathers, admit that they have no relation to the body of the psalm, and that they contribute nothing to the sense. The Septuagint and other Greek versions have added titles to some of the psalms, which have none in the Hebrew: the Protestant and Romish churches have determined nothing concerning them. If the titles of the psalms had been esteemed canonical, would it have been permitted to alter them, to suppress them, or to add to them? Which of the commentators, Jewish or Christian, Catholic or Protestant, thinks it incumbent upon him to follow the title of the psalm in his commentary? And yet both Jews and Christians receive the book of Psalms as an integral part of Holy Writ. Although, therefore, many of the titles prefixed to the psalms
The following is a translation of this pretended psalm, from the Septuagint, made as complete as possible by Dr. A. Clarke, from the different versions. See his Commentary on Psalin cli.
"A psalm in the hand writing of David, beyond the number of the psalms, composed by David, when he fought in single combat with Goliath."
"1. I was the least anong my brethren, and the youngest in my father's house; and I kept also my father's sheep. 2. My hands made the organ, and my fingers jointed the psaltery. 3. And who told it to my Lord? [Arab. And who is he who taught ine?] The LORD himself,-He is my master, and the hearer of all that call upon him. 4. He sent his angel, and took me away from my father's sheep: and anointed me with the oil of his anointing." [Others have the oil of his mercy.] 5. "My brethren were taller and more beautiful than I nevertheless, the LORD delighted not in them. 6. I went out to incet the Philistine, and he cursed me by his idols. 7. [In the strength of the Lord I cast three stones at him. I smote him in the forehead, and felled him to the earth. Arab.] 8. And I drew out his own sword from its sheath, and cut off his head, and took away the reproach from the children of Israel."-How vapid! How unlike the songs of Sion, composed by the sweet psalmist of Israel! 2 The number of psalms without titles in the Hebrew Scriptures is twenty-six, viz. i. ii. x. xxiv. xxxiii. xliii. lxxi. xci. xciii. to xeix. inclusive, civ. ev. evii. exiv. to exix. inclusive, cxxxvi. and cxxxvii.; by the Talmudical writers they are termned orphan psalms. The untitled psalms in our English version amount to thirty-seven; but many of these are Hallelujah psalms, which have lost their inscriptions, because the venerable translators have rendered the Hebrew word Hallelujah by the expression "Praise the Lord," which they have made a part of the psalm, though in the Septuagint version i stands as a distinct title.
are of very questionable authority, as not being extant in Hebrew manuscripts, and some of them are undoubtedly not of equal antiquity with the text, being, in all probability, conjectural additions, made by the collectors of the psalms, at different periods, who undertook to supply the deficiency of titles from their own judgment or fancy, without a due regard to manuscripts, yet we have no reason to suppose that very many of them are not canonical parts of the psalms; because they are perfectly in unison with the oriental manner of giving titles to books and poems.
It is well known that the seven poems, composed in Arabic by as many of the most excellent Arabian bards (anc which, from being originally suspended around the caaba of temple at Mecca, were called Moallakat, or suspended), were called, al Modhadhebat, or the golden verses, because they were written in characters of gold on Egyptian papyrus. Might not the six psalms, which bear the title of Michtam, or golden, be so called on account of their having been on some occasion or other written in letters of gold, and hung up in the sanctuary? D'Herbelet, to whom we are indebted for the preceding fact, also relates that Sherfeddin al Baussiri, an Arabian poet, called one of his poems, in praise of Mohamined (who he affirmed, had cured him of a paralytic disorder in his sleep), The Habit of a Derveesh; and, because he is there celebrated for having (as it is pretended) given sight to a blind person, this poem is also entitled by its author The Bright Star.4 D'Herbelot further tells us that a collection of moral essays was named The Garden of Anemonies.
The ancient Jewish taste, Mr. Harmer remarks, may reasonably be supposed to have been of the same kind: and agreeable to this is the explanation given by some learned men of David's commanding the bow to be taught the children of Israel (2 Sam. i. 18.); which, they apprehend, did not relate to the use of that weapon in war, but to the hymn which he composed on occasion of the death of Saul and Jonathan; and from which they think that he entitled this elegy the Bow. The twenty-second psalm might in like manner be called The Hind of the Morning (Aijeleth Shahar); the fifty-sixth, The Dumb in distant Places (Jonethelemrechokim); the sixtieth, The Lily of the Testimony (Shoshan-eduth); the eightieth, The Lilies of the Testimony (Shoshannin-eduth), in the plural number; and the forty-fifth, simply The Lilies (Shoshannim). That these appellations do not denote musical instruments, Mr. Harmer is of opinion, is evident from the names of trumpet, timbrel, harp, psaltery, and other instruments with which psalms were sung, being absent from those titles. If they signified tunes (as he is disposed to think), they must signify the tunes tc which such songs or hymns were sung as were distinguished by these names; and so the inquiry will terminate in this point, whether the psalms to which these titles are affixed were called by these names, or whether they were some other psalms or songs, to the tune of which these were to be sung. Now, as we do not find the bow referred to, nor the same name twice made use of, so far as our information goes, it seems most probable that these are the names of the very psalms to which they are prefixed. The forty-second psalm, it may be thought, might very well have been entitled the Hind of the Morning; because, as that panted after the water-brooks, so panted the soul of the psalmist after God; but the twenty-second psalm, it is certain, might equally well be distinguished by this title,-Dogs have enconipassed me,
3 Psalms vi. lvi. lvii. Iviii. lix. lx. D'Herbelot, Bibliothèque Orientale, vol i. pp. 333. 415.
4 D'llerbelot, Bibliothèque Orientale, vol. if. p. 624. It were easy to multiply examples of this kind from the works of oriental writers; a few must suffice:-Among the works of modern Hebrew poets, enumerated by Sarchi, in his Essay on Hebrew Poetry (pp. 116-125.), A Treatise or Morals, by Rabbi Clonimous ben Clonimous, is termed A Tried Stone; a collection of Festival Odes and Hymns for the Jewish year, by R. Joseph Salom, is designated Speeches of Beauty; a collection of Songs by R. Levi Bar Abraham Bar Chaim, on various scientific topics, is called The Tablets ana Earrings; a Collection of Prayers is the Gate of Penitence; and another of Songs and Hymns on moral Topics, has the high-sounding appellation of The Book of the Giant.-In Casiri's list of works written by the cele brated Spanish-Arab statesman Ibn-u-l-Khatib, this author's History of Granada is entitled A Specimen of the Full Moon; his Chronology of the Kings of Africa and Spain has the lofty appellation of the Silken Vest embroidered with the Needle; his Lives of eminent Spanish Arabs, who were distinguished for their learning and virtue, are termed Fragrant Plants; a tract on Constancy of Mind is Approved Butter; and, to mention no more, a treatise on the Choice of Sentences is designated Pure Gold. These works are still extant among the Arabic manuscripts preserved in the library of the Escurial. (Casiri, Bibliotheca Arabico-Escurialensis, tom. ii. p. 72.) The Gulis-tan, Bed of Roses, or Flower Garden of the Persian poet Sady, has been translated into English by Mr. Gladwin; and the Bahar Danush, or Garden of Knowledge, of the Persian bard Einaut-Oollah, by Mr. Scott. Dr. A. Clarke has collected some alditional instances in his Commentary on the Bible. See Psalm lx. Title.
1. The first of these is Neginoth, which is prefixed to psalms iv. vi. liv. lv. lx. lxi. lxxvi.: it signifies stringed instruments of music to be played on by the fingers. Calmet proposes to translate the titles of those psalms, where this word is to be found, in the following manner :-A Psalm of David, to the master of music who presides over the stringed instruments.
the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me, and as the titles are generally considered as names, either of musical psalmist, in the forty-second psalm, rather chose to compare instruments or of tunes. himself to a hart than a hind (see ver. 1.), the twentysecond psalm much better answers this title, in which he speaks of his hunted soul in the feminine gender, Deliver my soul from the sword, my darling (which in the original is feminine) from the power of the dog. Every one that reflects on the circumstances of David, at the time to which the fifty-sixth psalm refers (see 1 Sam. xxi. 11-15. xxii. 1.), and considers the oriental taste, will not wonder to see that psalm entitled the dumb in distant places; nor are lilies more improper to be made the title of other psalms, with proper distinctions, than a garden of anemonies is to be the name of a collection of moral discourses.2
Besides the psalms, whose titles have thus been considered and explained, there are forty-five called Mismor or psalms; viz. iii. iv. v. vi. viii. ix. xii. xiii. xv. xix. xx. xxi. xxii. xxiii. xxiv. xxix. xxxi. xxxvii. xxxix. xl. xli. xlvii. xlix. 1. li. lxii. lxiii. lxiv. lxxiii. lxxv. lxxvii. lxxix. lxxx. lxxxii. lxxxiv. lxxxv. xcviii. c. ci. cix. cx. cxxxix. cxl. cxli. and exlii. One is called Shir, or song (Psal. xlvi.); seven are called Mismor-Shir, or psalm-songs, viz. xxxí. lxv. lxvii. Ixviii. lxxv. lxxvii. and exii.; and five are called Shir-Mismor, or song-psalms, xlviii. lxvi. lxxxiii. lxxxviii. and cviii. In what respects these titles differed, it is now impossible to ascertain, as Rabbi Kimchi, one of the most learned Jews, ingenuously acknowledges; but we may infer that they combined both music and singing, which are indicated by the respective words psalm and song, with some modifications. In the Septuagint version these are called a psalm of an ode, and an ode of a psalm. Four are called Theophilah, or prayers, namely, xvii. lxxxvi. xc. and cii.; and the hundred and forty-fifth psalm is called Tehillah, or praise. So excellent, indeed, was this composition always accounted, that the title of the whole Book of Psalms, Sepher Tehillim, or the Book of Praises, was taken from it. It is wholly filled with the praises of God, expressed with such admirable devotion that the ancient Jews used to say," He could not fail of being an inhabitant of the heavenly Canaan, who repeated this psalm three times a day."3
Fifteen psalms, cxx. to cxxxiv. are entitled Shir-Hammachaloth, literally Songs of the Steps (in our English version, Songs of Degrees); or, as Bishop Lowth terms them, Odes of Ascension. They are supposed to have derived this name from their being sung, when the people came up either to worship in Jerusalem, at the annual festivals, or perhaps from the Babylonish captivity. In Ezra vii. 9. the return from captivity is certainly called "the ascension, or coming up from Babylon." The hundred and twenty-sixth psalm favours the latter hypothesis: but as some of these odes were composed before the captivity, the title may refer to either of these occasions, when the Jews went up to Jerusalem, which, it will be recollected, stood on a steep rocky ascent, in large companies, after the oriental manner, and perhaps beguiled their way by singing these psalms. For such an occasion, Jahn remarks, the appellation of ascensions was singularly adapted, as the inhabitants of the East, when speaking of a journey to the metropolis of their country, delight to use the word ascend.
To ten psalms, viz. cvi. cxi. cxii. cxiii. cxxxv. cxlvi. to cl. inclusive, is prefixed the title Hallelujah, which, as already intimated, forms part of the first verse in our English translation, and is rendered-Praise the Lord.
The title Maschil is prefixed to psalms xxxii. xlii. xliv. lii. liii. liv. lv. lxxiv. lxxviii. lxxxviii. lxxxix. and exlii.; and as it is evidently derived from the Hebrew root 5 SHAKAL, to be wise, to behave wisely or prudently, Calmet thinks it merely signifies to give instruction, and that the psalms to which it is prefixed are peculiarly adapted to that purpose: Rosenmüller coincides with him, as far as his remark applies to psalm xxxii., but rather thinks it a generic name for a particular kind of poem.
It only remains that we briefly notice those psalms, whose
1 According to Dr. Shaw, the eastern mode of hunting is, by assembling great numbers of people, and enclosing the creatures they hunt. Travels in Barbary and the Levant, 4to. p. 235. or vol. i. pp. 422, 423. 8vo. edit. 2 Harmer's Observations, vol. iii. pp. 146-149.
3 Bishop Patrick, in loc. And therefore he thinks it was composed alphabetically, i. e. every verse beginning with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, in order that it might be the more readily committed to memory Bishop Lowth, Prælect. xxv. in fine.
Introd. ad Vet. Foed. pp. 471, 472. Calmet and Dr. T. A. Clarisse are of opinion that the whole of the Psalms of Ascensions were sung at the time of the return from the captivity. Dissert. sur les Pseaumes quinze graduels.-Dissert. tom. ii. part ii. pp. 323, 324. Clarisse, Psalmi Quinde cin Hammaäloth, p. 23.
2. Nehiloth, which is in the title of psalm v., is supposed to have been a wind instrument; but whether of the organ kind as Rosenmüller thinks, or of the flute kind as Calmet supposes, it is now impossible to determine.
3. Sheminith (Psalms vi. and xii.) is supposed to have been an octochord, or harp of eight strings; from the circumstance of its being united with the Neginoth in the title of Psalm vi., it is supposed to have been an accompaniment to the latter instrument.
hurst, and some others, means a wandering song; and is so 4. Shiggaion (Psalm vii.), according to Houbigant, Parkcalled, because it was composed by David when a fugitive from the persecution of Sauf. But Calmet says, that it signifies a song of consolation in distress, synonymous with an elegy; with him coincide Dr. Kennicott and Rosenmüller, who derive the word from an Arabic root, importing that the inspired writer of this psalm was overwhelmed with sorrow and anxiety at the time he composed it.
5. Gittith (Psalms viii. lxxxi. lxxxiv.), according to Rabbi Jarchi, signifies a musical instrument brought from Gath: but as the original Hebrew denotes wine-presses, Calmet thinks that it probably is an air or song which was sung at the time of vintage. Rosenmüller prefers the former derivation: both, however, may be true. The instrument bearing this name might have been used by the people of Gath, from whom it might have been adopted by the Jews, with whom it afterwards became a favourite instrument during the festivity and dances of the vintage.
6. For Muthlabben, which appears in the title of Psalm ix., upwards of twenty manuscripts of Dr. Kennicott's collation, and more than forty of De Rossi's, read almuth, which signifies virgins. Calmet thinks that a chorus of virgins is intended, and that La Ben, that is to Ben, refers to Ben or Benaiah, who was their precentor, and who is mentioned in 1 Chron. xv. 18. 20.
7. Mahalath (Psalm liii.) denotes a dance, such as was used at some peculiar festivals and occasions. (Compare Exod. xv. 20. Judg. xxi. 21. 1 Sam. xviii. 6.) According to Calmet, the title of this ode is-" An instructive psalm of David for the chief master of dancing; or, for the chorus of singers and dancers." Mahalath-Leannoth (Psalm lxxxix.) probably means a responsive psalm of the same description." VIII. Of the word SELAH, which occurs upwards of seventy times in the book of Psalms, and three times in the prophecy of Habakkuk, it is by no means easy to determine the meaning: in the Septuagint it occurs still more frequently, being placed where it does not occur in the Hebrew original, and rendered by AIATAAMA (diapsalma), which signifies a rest or pause, or, according to Suidas, a change of the song or modulation. Some imagine that it directed the time of the music, and was perhaps equivalent to our word slow, or according to some of our provincial dialects, "slaw;" which, in a rapid pronunciation might easily be taken for Selah. Dr. Wall conjectures that it is a note, directing that the last words to which it is added should be repeated by the chorus; and observes, that it is always put after some remarkable or pathetic clause. Parkhurst and others are of opinion, that it was intended to direct the reader's particular attention to the passage: others, that it makes a new sense or change of the metre. Jerome says, that Selah connects what follows with what went before, and further expresses that the words to which it is affixed are of eternal moment; that is, are not applicable to any particular person or temporary circumstances, but ought to be remembered by all men, and for ever: whence the Chaldee paraphrast renders it "for ever." Aquila, Symmachus, Geier, Forster, Buxtorf, and others, are of opionion that Selah has no signification but that it is a note of the ancient music, the use of which is now lost. Aben Ezra says, that it is like the conclusion of a prayer, think that it means a repeat, and that it is equivalent to the answering nearly to amen. Meibomius, and after him Jahn, Italian Da Capo. Calmet is of opinion that the ancient He6 Calmet, Commentaire Littérale, tom. iv. pp. xi.-xiv. liii. liv. Rosenmüller, Scholia in Psalmos, tom. i. cap. 4. De Psalmorum Inscriptionibus, et Explicatio Dictionum in Psalmorum Titulis obviarum, pp. xxv.--lviii.
brew musicians sometimes put Selah in the margin of their psalters, to show where a musical pause was to be made, and where the tune ended; just as in the copies of the Gospels, which were solemnly read in the early ages of the Christian church, the Greek word Texos, telos, or the Latin word finis, was written in the margin, either at length or with a contraction, to mark the place where the deacon was to end the lesson; the divisions of chapters and verses being unknown at that time; or else he thinks, the ancient Hebrews sang nearly in the same manner as the modern Arabians do,2 with long pauses, ending all at once, and beginning all at once; and therefore it was necessary, in the public services, to mark in the margin of the psalm as well the place of the pause as the end, in order that the whole choir might suspend their voices, or recommence their singing at the same time. Rosenmiller, after Herder and A. F. Pfeiffer, declares in favour of Selah being a rest or pause, for the vocal perform-church; the end of the world; the general judgment; the ers, during which the musical instruments only were to be heard. Mr. Hewlett thinks it resembled our concluding symphonies. It only remains that we notice the sentiment of Rabbi Kimchi, which has been adopted by Grotius and others. That eminent Jewish teacher says, that Selah is both a musical note, and a note of emphasis in the sense, by which we are called to observe something more than usually remarkable. It is derived from the Hebrew word D saLaL, which signifies he raised or elevated; and denotes the elevation of the voice in singing; and at the same time the lifting up of the heart, the serious considering and meditating upon the thing that is spoken.
That this word was of use in music and singing is evident from the manner in which, we have already remarked, it was rendered by the Septuagint translators; and that it is also a mark of observation and meditation, may be inferred from its being joined in Psal. ix. 16. with the word Higgaion, which signifies meditation. Now, though in some passages Selah may appear to be used where there is no emphatic word or sense, yet it may be applied not only to the immediately preceding word or verse, but also to the whole series of verses or periods to which it is subjoined. And if it be thus considered, we shall find that it is used with great propriety, and for the best of purposes, viz. to point out to us something well worthy of our most attentive observation; and that it calls upon us to revolve in our minds, with great seriousness, the matter placed before us.3
IX. "The hearts of the pious in all ages have felt the value of the Psalms as helps to devotion; and many have laboured for expressions, in which to set forth their praise." All the fathers of the church are unanimously eloquent in their commendation of the Psalms. Athanasius styles them an epitome of the whole Scriptures: Basil, a compendium of all theology; Luther, a little Bible, and the summary of the Old Testament; and Melancthon, the most elegant writing in the whole world. How highly the Psalter was valued subsequently to the Reformation, we may easily conceive by the very numerous editions of it which were executed in the infancy of printing, and by the number of commentators who have undertaken to illustrate its sacred pages. Carpzov, who wrote a century ago, enumerates upwards of one hundred and sixty; and of the subsequent modern expositors of this book it would perhaps be difficult to procure a correct account. "The Psalms," as their best
1 Simon, Histoire Critique du Nouv. Test. ch. xxxiii.
D'Arvieux's Travels in Arabia the Desert, p. 52. English translation, 3 Calmet, Dissertation sur Sela, Commentaire, tom. iv. pp. xvi.-xviii. Hewlett in loc. Rosenmüller, Scholia in Psalmos, tom. i. pp. lix.-lxii. Dr. John Edwards, on the Authority, Style, and Perfection of Scripture, vol iii. p. 373. Jahn, Introd. ad Vet. Foed. p. 471. Biel and Schleusner, con in LXX. voce A. In addition to the observation already offered, it may be stated that Professor Wilson has announced the follow ing ingenious conjectare respecting the derivation and import of the word Selah:-The roet of the word, he remarks, appears evidently to lie in the two first letters ?D which are in contraction for D. to raise, to exalt, to magnify. The he considers as an abbreviation for ; so that the word nb (seLax) is a contracted form of D, celebrate ye Jehovah, or exalt the Lord, viz. in songs of praise accompanied with musical instruments, and is nearly of the same import with nn, in our characters Hallelujah, in Greek letters Aλovi, that is, Praise ye the Lord. This conjecture receives strong confirmation from the latter part of the fourth verse of Psalm Lxviii. which is thus translated, Extol him that rideth upon the heavens by the name JAH. It is highly probable that the meaning here assigned to Selah is the true one, as it corresponds to the dignity and chief end of devotional music, in which the singers and players were frequently reminded of the sacred intention of their solemn prayers, praises, and adoration. All were designed to magnify the name, the nature, the perfections, excellences, and works of Jehovah the only true God. In this sublime exercise the church on earth are fellow-worshippers, in perfect concord with the church in heaven. See Rev. xix. 1-3. (Wilson's Elements of Hebrew Grammar, pp. 315, 316. 4th edit.)
interpreter in our language has remarked, with equal piety and beauty,4 "are an epitome of the Bible, adapted to the purposes of devotion. They treat occasionally of the creation and formation of the world; the dispensations of Providence, and the economy of grace; the transactions of the patriarchs; the exodus of the children of Israel; their journey through the wilderness, and settlement in Canaan; their law, priesthood, and ritual; the exploits of their great men, wrought through faith; their sins and captivities; their repentances and restorations; the sufferings and victories of David; the peaceful and happy reign of Solomon; the advent of Messiah, with its effects and consequences; his incarnation, birth, life, passion, death, resurrection, ascension, kingdom, and priesthood; the effusion of the Spirit; the conversion of the nations; the rejection of the Jews; the establishment, increase, and perpetuity of the Christian condemnation of the wicked, and the final triumph of the righteous with their Lord and King. These are the subjects here presented to our meditations. We are instructed how to conceive of them aright, and to express the different affections, which, when so conceived of, they must excite in our minds. They are, for this purpose, adorned with the figures, and set off with all the graces, of poetry; the poetry itself is designed yet farther to be recommended by the charms of music, thus consecrated to the service of God: that so delight may prepare the way for improvement, and pleasure become the handmaid of wisdom, while every turbulent passion is calmed by sacred melody, and the evil spirit is still dispossessed by the harp of the son of Jesse. This little volume, like the paradise of Eden, affords us in perfection, though in miniature, every thing that groweth elsewhere, every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food: and above all, what was there lost, but is here restored-the tree of life in the midst of the garden. That which we read, as matter of speculation, in the other Scriptures, is reduced to practice, when we recite it in the Psalms; in those, repentance and faith are described, but in these they are acted: by a perusal of the former, we learn how others served God, but, by using the latter, we serve him ourselves. 'What is there necessary for man to know,' says the pious and judicious Hooker, which the psalms are not able to teach? They are to beginners an easy and familiar introduction, a mighty augmentation of all virtue and knowledge in such as are entered before, a strong confirmation to the most perfect among others. Heroical magnanimity, exquisite justice, grave moderation, exact wisdom, repentance unfeigned, unwearied patience, the mysteries of God, the sufferings of Christ, the terrors of wrath, the comforts of grace, the works of Providence over this world, and the promised joys of that world which is to come, all good necessarily to be either known, or done, or had, this one celestial fountain yieldeth. Let there be any grief or disease incident unto the soul of man, any wound or sickness named, for which there is not, in this treasure-house, a present comfortable remedy at all times ready to be found." In the language of this divine book, therefore, the prayers and praises of the church have been offered up to the throne of grace, from age to age. And it appears to have been the manual of the Son of God, in the days of his flesh; who, at the conclusion of his last supper, is generally supposed, and that upon good grounds, to have sung a hymn taken from it; who propsalm, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" nounced, on the cross, the beginning of the twenty-second and expired with a part of the thirty-first psalm in his mouth, Into thy hands I commend my spirit.' Thus He, who had not the Spirit by measure, in whom were hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, and who spake as never man spake, yet chose to conclude his life, to solace himself in his greatest agony, and at last to breathe out his soul, in the psalmist's form of words, rather than his own. No tongue of man or angel, as Dr. Hammond justly observes, can convey a higher idea of any book, and of their felicity who use it aright."7
The number of psalms, which are throughout more eminently and directly prophetical of the Messiah, is indeed comparatively small: but the passages of particular psalms which are predictive of him in various ways are very numeThe late Bishop Horne.
Hooker, Ecclesiast. Pol. book v. sect. 37.
• Matthew informs us, chap. xxvi. 30. that he and his apostles sung an hymn; and the hymn usually sung by the Jews, upon that occasion, was what they called "the great Hallel," consisting of the Psalms from the cxiiith to the cxviiith inclusive.
1 Bishop Horne on the Psalms, vol. i. Preface, pp. i.-iv.
TABLE OF THE PSALMS,
classed according to their several subjects, and adapted to the purposes of private devotion.
rous, no part of the Old Testament being cited in the New XI. We shall conclude this section, the importance of so frequently as this book. That those psalms which were whose subject must apologize for its apparently disproportioncomposed by David himself were prophetic, we have David's ate length, with the following common but very useful own authority: "which," Bishop Horsley remarks, "may be allowed to overpower a host of modern expositors. For thus King David, at the close of his life, describes himself and his sacred songs: David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, The Spirit of 1. Prayers for pardon of sin, Psal. vi. xxv. xxxviii. li. cxxx. Jehovah spake by me, and his word was in my tongue. (2 Sam. styled penitential, vi. xxii. xxxviii. li. cii. cxxx. cxliii. xxiii. 1, 2.) It was the word, therefore, of Jehovah's Spi-tunity of the public exercise of religion, Psal. xlii. xlii. lxiii. lxxxiv. when the Psalmist was deprived of an opporrit which was uttered by David's tongue. But, it should seem, the Spirit of Jehovah would not be wanting to enable a mere man to make complaint of his own enemies, to describe his own sufferings just as he felt them, and his own escapes just as they happened. But the Spirit of Jehovah described, by David's utterance, what was known to that Spirit only, and that Spirit only could describe. So that, if David be allowed to have had any knowledge of the true subject of his own compositions, it was nothing in his own life, but something put into his mind by the Holy Spirit of God, and the misapplication of the Psalms to the literal David has done more mischief than the misapplication of any other parts of the Scriptures, among those who profess the belief of the Christian religion."
For a table of those portions of the Psalms which are strictly prophetical of the Messiah, see Vol. I. Part I. Chap. IV. Sect. II. § 1.
X. The book of Psalms being composed in Hebrew verse, must generally be studied and investigated agreeably to the structure of Hebrew poetry; but in addition to the remarks already offered on this subject,2 there are a few observations more particularly applicable to these songs of Sion, which will enable the reader to enter more fully into their force and meaning.
1. Investigate the Argument of each Psalm.
This is sometimes intimated in the prefixed title: but as these inscriptions are not always genuine, it will be preferable, in every case, to deduce the argument from a diligent and attentive reading of the psalm itself, and then to form our opinion concerning the correctness of the title, if there be any.
2. With this view, examine the Historical Origin of the Psalm, or the circumstances that led the sacred poet to compose it.
Besides investigating the occasion upon which a psalm was written, much advantage and assistance may be derived from studying the psalms chronologically, and comparing them with the historical books of the Old Testament, particularly those which treat of the Israelites and Jews, from the origin of their monarchy to their return from the Babylonish captivity Of the benefit that may be obtained from such a comparison of the two books of Samuel, we have already given some striking examples.a
3. Ascertain the Author of the Psalm.
This is frequently intimated in the inscriptions; but as these are not always to be depended upon, we must look for other more certain criteria by which to ascertain correctly the real author of any psalni. The historical circumstances, which are very frequently as well as clearly indicated, and the poetical character impressed on the compositions of each of the inspired poets, will enable us to accomplish this very important object. Let us take, for instance, the Psalms of David. Not only does he allude to his own personal circumstances, to the dangers to which he was exposed, the persecutions he endured, the wars in which he was engaged, his heinous sin against God, and the signal blessings conferred upon him; but his psalms are further stamped with a peculiar character, by which, if it be carefully attended to, we may easily distinguish him from every other inspired author of the Psalms. Hence we find him repeating the same words and ideas almost perpetually; complaining of his afflictions and troubles; imploring help from God in the most earnest supplications; professing his confidence in God in the strongest manner; rejoicing in the answers graciously vouchsafed to his prayers; and labouring to express his gratitude for all the blessings conferred upon him. Again, in what ardent language does he express his longing desire to behold the sanctuary of God, and join with the multitude of those who kept holyday! With what animation does he describe the solemn pomp with which the ark was conducted to Jerusalem! &c. Of all the sacred poets, David is the inost pleasing and tender.
The style of David has been imitated by the other psalmists, who have borrowed and incorporated many of his expressions and images in their odes; but these imitations may easily be distinguished from their archetype, by the absence of that elegance and force which always characterize the productions of an original author.
4. Attend to the Structure of the Psalms.
The Psalms, being principally designed for the national worship of the Jews, are adapted to choral singing; attention, therefore, to the choral structure of these compositions will enable us better to enter into their spirit and meaning. Dr. Good has happily succeeded in showing the choral divisions of many of these sacred poems, in his version of the
3. Prayers, in which the Psalmist seems extremely dejected, though not totally deprived of consolation, under his afflictions, Psal. xiii. xxii. lxix. lxxvii. lxxxviii. exliii. 4. Prayers, in which the Psalmist asks help of God, in consideration of his own integrity, and the uprightness of his cause, Psal. vii. xvii. xxvi. xxxv. 5. Prayers, expressing the firmest trust and confidence in God under afflictions, Psal. iii. xvi. xxvii. xxxi. liv. lvi. lvii. Ixi. Ixii. lxxi. lxxxvi 6. Prayers, composed when the people of God were under affliction or persecution, Psal. xliv. Ix. lxxiv. lxxix. lxxx. lxxxiii. lxxxix. xciv. cii. exxiii. cxxxvii. 7. The following are likewise prayers in time of trouble and affliction, Psal. iv. v. xi. xxviii. xli. lv. lix. lxiv. lxx, cix. cxx. cxl. cxli. cxliii. 8. Prayers of intercession, Psal. xx. lxvii. cxxii. cxxxii. cxliv. II. Psalms of Thanksgiving.
1. Thanksgivings for mercies vouchsafed to particular persons, Psal. ix. xviii. xxii. xxx. xxxiv. xl. lxxv. ciii. cviii. cxvi. cxviii. cxxxviii. cxliv.
Psal. xlvi. xlviii. lxv. lxvi. lxviii. lxvi. lxxxi. lxxxv. xcviii. cv. cxxiv. cxxvi. 2. Thanksgivings for mercies vouchsafed to the Israelites in general, cxxix. cxxxv. cxxxvi. cxlix.
III. Psalms of Praise and Adoration, displaying the Attributes of God.
ticularly his care and protection of good men, Psal. xxiii. xxiv. xxxvi. xci. 1. General acknowledgments of God's goodness and mercy, and par c. ciii. cvii. cxvii. cxxi. cxlv. cxlvi.
2. Psalms displaying the power, majesty, glory, and other attributes of the Divine Being, Psal. viii. xix. xxiv. xxix. xxxiii. xlvii. 1 lxv. lxvi. lxxvi. ixxvii. xciii. xcv, xcvi. xcvii. xcix. civ. cxi. exiii. cxiv. cxv. cxxxiv. cxxxix
cxlvii. cxlviii. cl.
IV. Instructive Psalms.
1. The different characters of good and bad men,-the happiness of the one, and the misery of the other, are represented in the following psalms-i. v. vii. ix. x. xi. xii. xiv. xv. xvii. xxiv. xxv. xxxii. xxxiv. xxxvi. xxxvii. 1. lii. liii. lviii. lxxii. lxxv. lxxxiv. xci. xcii. xciv. cxii. cxix. cxvi. cxxv. cxxvii. cxxviii. cxxxiii.
2. The excellence of God's laws, Psal. xix. cxix.
4. Advice to magistrates, Psal. lxxxii. ci.
5. The virtue of humility, Psal. cxxxi.
V. Psalms more eminently and directly Prophetical.
Psal. lxxviii. cv. cvi.
ON THE BOOK OF PROVERBS.
Title, author, and canonical authority.-II. Scope.-III. Synopsis of its contents.-IV. Observations on its style, use, and importance.
I. THE book of Proverbs has always been ascribed to Solomon, whose name it bears, though, from the frequent repetition of the same sentences, as well as from some variations in style which have been discovered, doubts have been entertained whether he really was the author of every maxim it comprises. "The latter part of it, from the beginning of the twenty-fifth chapter, forming evidently an appendix, was collected after his death, and added to what appears to have been more immediately arranged by himself." The proverbs in the thirtieth chapter are expressly called The words of Agur the son of Jakeh; and the thirty-first chapter is entitled The words of king Lemuel. It seems certain that the collection called the PROVERBS of SOLOMON was arranged in the order in which we now have it by different hands; but it is not therefore to be concluded that they are not the productions of Solomon, who, we are informed, spoke no less than three thousand proverbs. (1 Kings iv. 32.) As it is nowhere said that Solomon himself made a collection of proverbs and
On the peculiar nature of the Hebrew Proverbs, see Vol. I. Part II. Chapter I. Section VI.
Extract from Dr. Mason Good's unpublished translation of the Book of Proverbs, in Prof. Gregory's Memoirs of his Life, p. 289.
It is not said that these proverbs were written compositions, but simply that Solomon spake them. Hence Mr. Holden thinks it not improbable that the Hebrew monarch spoke them in assemblies collected for the pur pose of hearing him discourse. Attempt to Illustrate the Book of Eccle siastes, p. xliv.