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Psalm 129

Prayer for the Downfall of Israel’s Enemies

A Song of Ascents.


“Often have they attacked me from my youth”

—let Israel now say—


“often have they attacked me from my youth,

yet they have not prevailed against me.


The plowers plowed on my back;

they made their furrows long.”


The L ord is righteous;

he has cut the cords of the wicked.


May all who hate Zion

be put to shame and turned backward.


Let them be like the grass on the housetops

that withers before it grows up,


with which reapers do not fill their hands

or binders of sheaves their arms,


while those who pass by do not say,

“The blessing of the L ord be upon you!

We bless you in the name of the L ord!”

7 With which the mower hath not filled his hand. 116116     “Whereof the mower hath not filled his hand, etc. — i.e., It is too scanty to afford employment for a labourer to gather it by the hand, or for a reaper, who uses a sickle, depositing what he cuts in the fold of his garment, or as Le Clerc understands it, under his left arm. The Psalmist in effect prays, that the enemies of Israel may be reduced to such poverty, that none could become richer by despoiling them: in a word, that they might be altogether despicable. For binding up the sheaves, Hammond suggests, gathereth the handfuls, with reference to the gleaner, Ruth 2:2 ” — Cresswell. We have here an additional confirmation of the truth, that although the wicked mount high or elevate themselves, and form an extravagant opinion of their own importance, yet they continue mere grass, not bringing forth any good fruit, nor reaching a state of ripeness, but swelling only with fresh appearance. To make this obvious, the Psalmist sets them in opposition to fruit-bearing herbs, which in valleys and low grounds produce fruit for men. In fine, he affirms that they deserve to be hated or despised of all, whereas commonly every one in passing by the corn fields blesses them and prays for the harvest? 117117     “Au lieu que chacun communement en passant par les bleds les benit, et prie pour la moisson.” — Fr. Farther, he has borrowed this illustration of his doctrine from the affairs of ordinary life, we are taught that whenever there is a hopeful prospect of a good harvest, we ought to beseech God, whose peculiar province it is to impart fertility to the earth, that he would give full effect to his blessing. And considering that the fruits of the earth are exposed to so many hazards, it is certainly strange that we are not stirred ‘up to engage in the exercise of prayer from the absolute necessity of these to man and beast. Nor does the Psalmist, in speaking of passers by blessing the reapers, speak exclusively of rite children of God, who are truly taught by his word that the fruitfulness of the earth is owing to his goodness; but he also comprehends worldly men in whom the same knowledge is implanted naturally. In conclusion, provided we not only dwell in the Church of the Lord, but also labor to have place among the number of her genuine citizens, we will be able fearlessly to despise all fire might of our enemies; for although they may flourish and have a great outward show for a time, yet they are but barren grass, on which the curse of heaven rests.

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