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Psalms 43, 44, 45, 49, 84, 85, 87 Listen
Looking for some vindication before the ungodly (Psalm 43)
1 Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man.
2 For thou art the God of my strength: why dost thou cast me off? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
3 O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.
4 Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God.
5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
This Psalm appears to be written by David, but that is not certain. He prays to God to be restored to fellowship. It is noteworthy to see that he depends on God as he prays when he beckons him to "plead my cause against an ungodly nation." The Hebrew word translated "nation" here may refer to non-Jewish hostilities, but not necessarily. The reference to "holy hill" in verse 3 is most likely a direct reference to Jerusalem. It is used in that context in Psalms 2:6 (see notes), "Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion." If that be the case, the time frame for the writing of this Psalm would fall after David established Jerusalem as the home of the Ark of the Covenant (II Samuel 6, see notes).
To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, Maschil.
1 We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work thou didst in their days, in the times of old.
2 How thou didst drive out the heathen with thy hand, and plantedst them; how thou didst afflict the people, and cast them out.
3 For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favour unto them.
4 Thou art my King, O God: command deliverances for Jacob.
5 Through thee will we push down our enemies: through thy name will we tread them under that rise up against us.
6 For I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me.
7 But thou hast saved us from our enemies, and hast put them to shame that hated us.
8 In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever. Selah.
9 But thou hast cast off, and put us to shame; and goest not forth with our armies.
10 Thou makest us to turn back from the enemy: and they which hate us spoil for themselves.
11 Thou hast given us like sheep appointed for meat; and hast scattered us among the heathen.
12 Thou sellest thy people for nought, and dost not increase thy wealth by their price.
13 Thou makest us a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and a derision to them that are round about us.
14 Thou makest us a byword among the heathen, a shaking of the head among the people.
15 My confusion is continually before me, and the shame of my face hath covered me,
16 For the voice of him that reproacheth and blasphemeth; by reason of the enemy and avenger.
17 All this is come upon us; yet have we not forgotten thee, neither have we dealt falsely in thy covenant.
18 Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from thy way;
19 Though thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death.
20 If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god;
21 Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart.
22 Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.
23 Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord? arise, cast us not off for ever.
24 Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and forgettest our affliction and our oppression?
25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust: our belly cleaveth unto the earth.
26 Arise for our help, and redeem us for thy mercies’ sake.
This Psalm focuses on a time of national peril, but the author is unknown...maybe David. Here he expresses national despair and even questions why God has allowed a rejection of his people when they are not involved in wrongdoing. We can't know for sure where in Israel's history this Psalm might have been written, but it's a nationally-dark period - even if for a short while. Verse 26 does express the Psalmist's confidence in God's provision, however. Paul quotes verse 22 in Romans 8:36 (see notes) when he says, "As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter."
Incidentally, the sons of Korah are mentioned in the subtitle. The Korahites are first listed in Numbers 26:58 (see notes) among the chief Levitical families. They fit into the temple bureaucracy as gatekeepers in I Chronicles 26:1 (see notes) and are listed in the subtitles of 11 different Psalms. Perhaps they were keepers of the praise music. The word "Maschil" appears in the subtitle of 13 Psalms. This is a transliteration of the Hebrew word meaning "instructive." Perhaps the subtitle indicates that this is an instructive song of praise.
To the chief Musician upon Shoshannim, for the sons of Korah, Maschil, A Song of loves.
1 My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
2 Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee for ever.
3 Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty.
4 And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things.
5 Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies; whereby the people fall under thee.
6 Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.
7 Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
8 All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.
9 Kings’ daughters were among thy honourable women: upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir.
10 Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house;
11 So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him.
12 And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift; even the rich among the people shall intreat thy favour.
13 The king’s daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold.
14 She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework: the virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee.
15 With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought: they shall enter into the king’s palace.
16 Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth.
17 I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever.
Although the authorship of this Psalm is unknown, this certainly looks like a special-occasion song written for the ceremony of a royal couple - perhaps for David himself. As a matter of fact, notice verses 16-17, "Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth. I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever." That surely is a reference to the longevity of the Davidic throne based upon the provisions of the Davidic Covenant (see notes).
You will notice a reference in this Psalm as well to the "sons of Korah" and "Maschil" as well (see notes on Psalm 44 above). In addition, another word is found in the subtitle here, "Shoshannim," the Hebrew word for "lily." Furthermore, we see there "A song of loves." So...what does it all mean?
Following is an excerpt from the Expositor's Bible Commentary regarding this Psalm:
The psalm is a royal psalm and functioned as a wedding song at the occasion of the wedding of a royal couple. Because of the theological significance of the wedding and the function of the Davidic king within Gods order of life in Israel and Judah, the wedding song takes on typological significance. Applicable to any descendant of David, it extols the privileged position of his people and sets forth Gods expectations of his appointed vassal on earth (cf. Psalms 2; 110).
A takeoff on the rich (Psalm 49)
To the chief Musician, A Psalm for the sons of Korah.
1 Hear this, all ye people; give ear, all ye inhabitants of the world:
2 Both low and high, rich and poor, together.
3 My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding.
4 I will incline mine ear to a parable: I will open my dark saying upon the harp.
5 Wherefore should I fear in the days of evil, when the iniquity of my heels shall compass me about?
6 They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches;
7 None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him:
8 (For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever:)
9 That he should still live for ever, and not see corruption.
10 For he seeth that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others.
11 Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names.
12 Nevertheless man being in honour abideth not: he is like the beasts that perish.
13 This their way is their folly: yet their posterity approve their sayings. Selah.
14 Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in the grave from their dwelling.
15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah.
16 Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased;
17 For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him.
18 Though while he lived he blessed his soul: and men will praise thee, when thou doest well to thyself.
19 He shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light.
20 Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish.
We don't know who wrote this Psalm...perhaps David. We see in verse 1 that this is an instructive Psalm rather than one designed to give praise to God, "Hear this, all ye people; give ear, all ye inhabitants of the world." Of course, David was rich. In this Psalm the Psalmist deals with the folly of trusting in your riches rather than God. Though one might have wealth, he is unable to use that wealth for direct eternal intervention as we see in verse 7, "None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him." He expresses his confidence in eternal life in verse 15, an issue not dealt with frequently in the Old Testament. Notice verse 17, "For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him." Perhaps Paul had this verse in mind when he wrote in I Timothy 6:7 (see notes), "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out." While David (if he is the author) is poetic, Paul gets right to the point.
There's no place like home (Psalm 84)
To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm for the sons of Korah.
1 How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts!
2 My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.
3 Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God.
4 Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah.
5 Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them.
6 Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools.
7 They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.
8 O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob. Selah.
9 Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed.
10 For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
12 O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.
The author is not known on this one. In the subtitle, Gittith is a musical term of uncertain meaning. Perhaps it is a musical instrument. It is used in the subtitle of three different Psalms. Here, the Psalmist longs for God's dwelling place. This Psalm reminds me of the bumper sticker I saw, "My worst day of fishing is better than my best day at work." Verse 10 says, "For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness." There's a promise in verse 11, "For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly."
A prayer for restoration (Psalm 85)
To the chief Musician, A Psalm for the sons of Korah.
1 LORD, thou hast been favourable unto thy land: thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob.
2 Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin. Selah.
3 Thou hast taken away all thy wrath: thou hast turned thyself from the fierceness of thine anger.
4 Turn us, O God of our salvation, and cause thine anger toward us to cease.
5 Wilt thou be angry with us for ever? wilt thou draw out thine anger to all generations?
6 Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?
7 Shew us thy mercy, O LORD, and grant us thy salvation.
8 I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly.
9 Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that glory may dwell in our land.
10 Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
11 Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven.
12 Yea, the LORD shall give that which is good; and our land shall yield her increase.
13 Righteousness shall go before him; and shall set us in the way of his steps.
The words of this Psalm have led many scholars to place its writing at the time of the return from Babylonian exile. The references to a return to the land do make sense in that context, and David is not named as its author. You may recall in Ezra and Nehemiah how zealous for God the people of Israel were during this period. Click here to see the introduction to I Chronicles for more insight into this era. However, perhaps it is prophetic from David himself. No one knows for certain.
A Psalm or Song for the sons of Korah.
1 His foundation is in the holy mountains.
2 The LORD loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.
3 Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. Selah.
4 I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to them that know me: behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia; this man was born there.
5 And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her: and the highest himself shall establish her.
6 The LORD shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there. Selah.
7 As well the singers as the players on instruments shall be there: all my springs are in thee.
It's the city God founded, and there is no city like it on the earth. Jerusalem is presented here as a city of prestige. "Holy mountains" (verse 1), "Zion" (verse 2) and "city of God" (verse 3) are all distinct references to Jerusalem as the center of worship. The name "Rahab" in verse 4 is a reference to Egypt as it is also in Psalm 89:10 (see notes). This definitely places this Psalm to have been written in a time period after David established Jerusalem as the home of the Ark of the Covenant (II Samuel 6, see notes). This Psalm goes prophetic in verse 3, indicating the future glory of Jerusalem as the central city of the world. This is certainly a reference to the fact that prophetic writings and utterances from the prophets place Jerusalem as the point on the earth from which the Messiah will reign and the Davidic throne will be established.