Sacred Texts  Bible  Bible Commentary  Index 
Psalms Index
  Previous  Next 

Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at

Psalms Chapter 125


psa 125:0

Israel's Bulwark against Temptation to Apostasy

The favourite word Israel furnished the outward occasion for annexing this Psalm to the preceding. The situation is like that in Psa 123:1-4 and Psa 124:1-8. The people are under foreign dominion. In this lies the seductive inducement to apostasy. The pious and the apostate ones are already separated. Those who have remained faithful shall not, however, always remain enslaved. Round about Jerusalem are mountains, but more important still: Jahve, of rocks the firmest, Jahve encompasses His people.

That this Psalm is one of the latest, appears from the circumstantial expression "the upright in their hearts," instead of the old one, "the upright of heart," from פעלי האון instead of the former פעלי און, and also from למען לא (beside this passage occurring only in Psa 119:11, Psa 119:80; Eze 19:9; Eze 26:20; Zac 12:7) instead of למען אשׁר לא or פּן.

Psalms 125:1

psa 125:1

The stedfastness which those who trust in Jahve prove in the midst of every kind of temptation and assault is likened to Mount Zion, because the God to whom they believingly cling is He who sits enthroned on Zion. The future ישׁב signifies: He sits and will sit, that is to say, He continues to sit, cf. Psa 9:8; Psa 122:5. Older expositors are of opinion that the heavenly Zion must be understood on account of the Chaldaean and the Roman catastrophes; but these, in fact, only came upon the buildings on the mountain, not upon the mountain itself, which in itself and according to its appointed destiny (vid., Mic 3:12; Mic 4:1) remained unshaken. in Psa 125:2 also it is none other than the earthly Jerusalem that is meant. The holy city has a natural circumvallation of mountains, and the holy nation that dwells and worships therein has a still infinitely higher defence in Jahve, who encompasses it round (vid., on Psa 34:8), as perhaps a wall of fire (Zac 2:5), or an impassably broad and mighty river (Isa 33:21); a statement which is also now confirmed, for, etc. Instead of inferring from the clause Psa 125:2 that which is to be expected with לכן, the poet confirms it with כי by that which is surely to be expected.

Psalms 125:3

psa 125:3

The pressure of the worldly power, which now lies heavily upon the holy land, will not last for ever; the duration of the calamity is exactly proportioned to the power of resistance of the righteous, whom God proves and purifies by calamity, but not without at the same time graciously preserving them. "The rod of wickedness" is the heathen sceptre, and "the righteous" are the Israelites who hold fast to the religion of their fathers. The holy land, whose sole entitled inheritors are these righteous, is called their "lot" (גורל, κλῆρος = κληρονομία). נוּח signifies to alight or settle down anywhere, and having alighted, to lean upon or rest (cf. Isa 11:2 with Joh 1:32, ἔμεινεν). The lxx renders οὐκ ἀφφήσει, i.e., לא ינּיח (cf. on the other hand יניח, He shall let down, cause to come down, in Isa 30:32). Not for a continuance shall the sceptre of heathen tyranny rest upon the holy land, God will not suffer that: in order that the righteous may not at length, by virtue of the power which pressure and use exercises over men, also participate in the prevailing ungodly doings. שׁלח with Beth: to seize upon anything wrongfully, or even only (as in Job 28:9) to lay one's hand upon anything (frequently with על). As here in the case of עולתה, in Psa 80:3 too the form that is the same as the locative is combined with a preposition.

Psalms 125:4

psa 125:4

On the ground of the strong faith in Psa 125:1. and of the confident hope in Psa 125:3, the petition now arises that Jahve would speedily bestow the earnestly desired blessing of freedom upon the faithful ones, and on the other hand remove the cowardly lit. those afraid to confess God and those who have fellowship with apostasy, together with the declared wicked ones, out of the way. For such is the meaning of Psa 125:4. טובים (in Proverbs alternating with the "righteous," Pro 2:20, the opposite being the "wicked," רשׁעים, Pro 14:19) are here those who truly believe and rightly act in accordance with the good will of God,

(Note: The Midrash here calls to mind a Talmudic riddle: There came a good one (Moses, Exo 2:2) and received a good thing (the Tra, Pro 4:2) from the good One (God, Psa 145:9) for the good ones (Israel, Psa 125:4).)

or, as the parallel member of the verse explains (where לישׁרים did not require the article on account of the addition), those who in the bottom of their heart are uprightly disposed, as God desires to have it. The poet supplicates good for them, viz., preservation against denying God and deliverance out of slavery; for those, on the contrary, who bend (הטּה) their crooked paths, i.e., turn aside their paths in a crooked direction from the right way (עקלקלּותם, cf. Jdg 5:6, no less than in Amo 2:7; Pro 17:23, an accusative of the object, which is more natural than that it is the accusative of the direction, after Num 22:23 extrem., cf. Job 23:11; Isa 30:11) - for these he wishes that Jahve would clear them away (הוליך like Arab. ahlk, perire facere = perdere) together with the workers of evil, i.e., the open, manifest sinners, to whom these lukewarm and sly, false and equivocal ones are in no way inferior as a source of danger to the church. lxx correctly: τοὺς δὲ ἐκκλίνοντας εἰς τάς στραγγαλιὰς (Aquila διαπλοκάς, Symmachus σκολιότητας, Theodotion διεστραμμένα) ἀπάξει κύριος μετὰ κ. τ. λ.. Finally, the poet, stretching out his hand over Israel as if pronouncing the benediction of the priest, gathers up all his hopes, prayers, and wishes into the one prayer: "Peace be upon Israel." He means "the Israel of God," Gal 6:16. Upon this Israel he calls down peace from above. Peace is the end of tyranny, hostility, dismemberment, unrest, and terror; peace is freedom and harmony and unity and security and blessedness.

Next: Psalms Chapter 126