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Psalm 75

Thanksgiving for God’s Wondrous Deeds

To the leader: Do Not Destroy. A Psalm of Asaph. A Song.

1

We give thanks to you, O God;

we give thanks; your name is near.

People tell of your wondrous deeds.

 


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1. We will praise thee, O God! With respect to the inscription of this psalm, I have sufficiently spoken when explaining the 57th psalm. As to the author of it, this is a point, in the determination of which, I am not inclined to give myself much trouble. Whoever he was, whether David or some other prophet, he breaks forth at the very commencement into the language of joy and thanksgiving: We will praise thee, O God! we will praise thee. The repetition serves the more forcibly to express his strong affection and his ardent zeal in singing the praises of God. The verbs in the Hebrew are in the past tense; but the subject of the psalm requires that they should be translated into the future; which may be done in perfect consistency with the idiom of the Hebrew language. The inspired writer, however, may declare that God had been praised among his people for the benefits which he had bestowed in the times of old, the design being thereby to induce God to persevere in acting in the same manner, that thus continuing like himself, he might from time to time afford his people new matter for celebrating his praises. The change of the person in the concluding part of the verse has led some interpreters to supply the relative pronoun אשר, asher, who, as if the reading were, O Lord! we will praise thee; and thy name is near to those who declare thy wondrous works 252252     This is the reading adopted by Hammond; but instead of making it out by supplying the pronoun אשר, asher, as is done by some, he renders, ספרו, sipperu, as a participle plural in the sense of the dative case. “Thy name is near, ספרו, sipperu, to them that declare thy wondrous works.” He supports this view from the Chaldee, and from the translation of the learned Castellio. But the prophet, I have no doubt, puts the verb they will declare, indefinitely, that is to say, without determining the person; 253253     “C’est a dire, sans determiner personne.” — Fr. and he has used the copula and instead of the causal participle for, as is frequently done. His meaning, then, may be brought out very appropriately th We will praise thee, O God! for thy name is near; and, therefore, thy wondrous works shall be declared. He, no doubt, means that the same persons whom he said would celebrate the praise of God, would be the publishers of his wonderful works. And, certainly, God, in displaying his power, opens the mouths of his servants to recount his works. In short, the design is to intimate that there is just ground for praising God, who shows himself to be at hand to afford succor to his people. The name of God, as is well known, is taken for his power; and his presence, or nearness, is judged of by the assistance which he grants to his people in the time of their need.

2. When I shall have taken the congregation. The Hebrew verb יעד, yaäd, signifies to appoint a place or day, and the noun מועד, moed, derived from it, which is here used, signifies both holy assemblies, or a congregation of the faithful assembled together in the name of the Lord, and festival, or appointed solemn days. As it is certain that God is here introduced as speaking, either of these senses will agree with the scope of the passage. It may be viewed as denoting either that having gathered his people to himself, he will restore to due order matters which were in a state of distraction and confusion, or else that he will make choice of a fit time for exercising his judgment. In abandoning his people for a season to the will of their enemies, he seems to forsake them and to exercise no care about them; so that they are like a flock of sheep which is scattered, and wanders hither and thither without a shepherd. It being his object, then, to convey in these words a promise that he would remedy such a confused state of things, he very properly commences with the gathering together of his Church. If any choose rather to understand the word מועד, moed, as referring to time 254254     The reading adopted by the most eminent critics is, “When I shall have gotten an appointed or fit time or season, I will judge uprightly.” This is supported by all the ancient versions. God is to be understood as admonishing his people, that it is their bounden duty to exercise patience until he actually show that the proper time is come for correcting vices, since he only has the years and days in his own power, and knows best the fit juncture and moment for performing this work. The interpretation to which I most incline is, That, to determine the end and measure of calamities, and the best season of rising up for the deliverance of his people, — matters, the determination of which men would willingly claim for themselves, — is reserved by God in his own hands, and is entirely subject to his own will. At the same time, I am very well satisfied with the former interpretation, which refers the passage to the gathering together of the Church. Nor ought it to seem absurd or harsh that God is here introduced as returning an answer to the prayers of his people. This graphic representation, by which they are made to speak in the first verse, while he is introduced as speaking in the second, is much more forcible than if the prophet had simply said, that God would at length, and at the determined time, show himself to be the protector of his Church, and gather her together again when she should be scattered and rent in pieces. The amount, in short, is, that although God may not succor his own people immediately, yet he never forgets them, but only delays until the fit time arrive, the redress which he has in readiness for them. To judge righteously, is just to restore to a better state matters which are embroiled and disordered. Thus Paul says,

“Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels.” (2 Thessalonians 1:6, 7)

God, therefore, declares that it is his office to set in order and adjust those things which are in confusion, that, entertaining this expectation, we may be sustained and comforted by means of it in all our afflictions.




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