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the minds of the rest of their brethren, who continued to dwell
in Babylon, an earnest desire to become partakers of their
THEN the Lord turned again the captivity Acts 12. 9, 14.

, that dream;

2 Then was our mouth filled with laughter, Ezra 3. 11. and our tongue with joy (singing];

3 Then said they among the heathen, the Neh. 6. 16. Lord hath done great things for them:

4 Yea, the Lord hath done great things for Ezra 7. 27, 28. us already, whereof we rejoice.

Ephes. 2. 1, &c. 5 Turn our captivity, O Lord, as the rivers Hos. 1. 11. in the south.

6 They, that sow in tears, shall reap in joy. 7 He, that now goeth on his way weeping, Luke 15. 18, &c.

John 16. 20, 22.

1 The captivity of Sion. Those Jews, who had been carried into captivity from Sion or Jerusalem. Ver. 5. See on Psalm xiv. 11.

-Then were we like, fic. Our re-establishment in the land of our fathers was so unexpected, that, at first, we could scarcely believe it had taken place; it seemed more like a pleasant dream than a reality. The particle “then” is by no means redundant, for, by using it, the Psalmist appears to imply,-never before could we indulge in any sensations of joy. A similar force must be attached to it in the follow. ing verse.

3 Said they. See on Psalm xxxi. 5.

5 Turn our captivity, &c. The comparison rests, apparently, on the renewal of those torrents in the deserts to the south of Judea, which yearly leave their beds dry during the summer by reason of the intense heat of the sun, but fill them again, when the rainy season comes round. Job vi. 15, &c. Psalm cvii. 35. Thus God is besought, that the land of Israel, which had lain so long deserted by its inhabitants, may be brought back to its former prosperous state, through the restoration of the remainder of the captive people. It must be remembered, that a part only of the nation went up, in the first instance, with Zerubbabel. For, though Cyrus gave all the Jews leave to return to their native land, some of them were so dead to every natural feeling, as to decline availing themselves of the proffered boon. Ezra i. 3, 5.

6 They, that sow, fc. A proverbial expression, intimating that misery is often but the forerunner of happiness. They, that have begun with tears in Babylon, will end with joy in Judea.

7 Weeping. The Psalmist surely wished by this word to denote the great anxiety of the husbandman, who must necessarily be uncertain, whether he shall ever be rewarded for the expence and labor bestowed on the cultivation of his fields ; since an unpropitious season, the insecure state of the country, together with a variety of other untoward circumstances, may become the means of disappointing all

2 Cor. 4. 16, &c. and beareth forth good [precious] seed, shall

doubtless come again with joy, and bring his
sheaves with him.


ALTHOUGH this Psalm, according to the ancient title, was originally

written by, or, more correctly, perhaps, for Solomon, the Jews,
probably, used it again at the time of their rebuilding the city
and temple of Jerusalem, after the return from Babylon. And,
indeed, it is a composition, which can never be out of season, the
design of its author being to teach us the necessity of an entire

dependence upon God, and upon his blessing, in all things. 1 Cor. 3. 5, &c.

XCEPT the Lord build the house, their

labor is but lost, that build it.
Zech. 2. 4, 5. 2 Except the Lord keep the city, the watch-

man waketh but in vain.

3 It is but lost labor, that ye haste to rise Mal. 1.4, 5.

up early, and so late take rest, and eat the bread
of carefulness; for so he giveth his beloved sleep.

4 Lo, children and the fruit of the womb are Josh. 24.3, 4. an heritage and gift, that cometh of the Lord.

Gen. 3. 19.

Gen. 33. 5.

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his hopes. The present verse is merely a repetition of the previous one under an expanded form.

1 Build the house. This phrase being frequently employed in scripture, to signify the increasing and perpetuating of a family by the means, as well of offspring, as of temporal advantages, would also here seem to have no reference to the literal sense of the words, as the design of the Psalm is totally unconnected with the building of houses. Deut. xxv.9. 1 Kings ii. 24. Prov. xiv. 1, 11.

2 Waketh. Abstains from sleep; or, rather, is vigilant and faithful in his nightly rounds.

3 It is, fc. The Psalmist certainly does not purpose to say, that human labor and diligence are vain; but, that they are so, except the Lord be with the labourer, and bless his endeavors. In fact, he institutes a comparison between the harassing, yet often fruitless, toil of the mere worldly man, and that undisturbed repose, recruiting the body and instilling into it new vigor, which God enables his true servants to enjoy, even in the midst of their most successful exertions. The difficulty in the latter member of the verse, doubtless, arises from the omission of that, to which the particle “so” refers, and which there was the less occasion to add, because the need and efficacy of divine aid in every work, to which we set our hands, forms the subject matter of the Psalm.

4 Children. These are introduced, as being objects of great desire to all people, but, particularly, to the Israelites. See on Psalm cxiii. 8.

5 Like as the arrows in the hand of the giant, Prov. 17.6. even so are the


children. 6 Happy is the man, that hath his quiver Prov. 27. 11. full of them! they shall not be ashamed, when i Chron. 26. 4, č. they speak with their enemies in the gate.

PSALM CXXVIII. This Psalm seems to be only an imitation of the preceding, which'it

explains and confirms. The general opinion is, that it was wont to be sung at the marriages of the Israelites, for which solemn, though joyous, occasion it is well adapted. The author earnestly points out the happiness of such individuals as are truly religious, and the privilege, which they thereby obtain, to be blest in their persons, in their families, and in the prosperity of their country. In its mystical and prophetic sense the Psalm has

respect to the person, city, marriage, and family, of the Messiah. BLE BLESSED are all they, that fear the Lord, Luke 1.6, 50.

and walk in his ways! 2 For thou shalt eat the labors of thine Isai. 3. 10. hands : 0 well is thee, and happy shalt thou Ephes. 6. 2, 3.


5 Even so are, &c. Children are equally as useful for the assistance of their parents, in all time of earthly trouble and temporal need, as arrows are in the hand of “a mighty man” (Bib. ver.) for the protection of his life.

6 They shall not, 8c. When brought to trial (see on Psalm Lxix. 12) these fortunate persons will not be put to shame by the loss of their cause, but will assuredly come off victorious; for, at the sight of so many ready advocates and avengers, their enemies will not dare to persist in any iniquitous and unjust charges against them. From the mention of “arrows” and “ quiver," the words are often thought to be more adapted to express a successful conflict with hostile invaders than with personal adversaries ; especially, as the gates of a city were, of necessity, sometimes the seat of war, as well as the place of judicature. Gen. xxiv. 60. Judg. v. 8. Job v. 4. Nevertheless, the phrase, “to speak with enemies," appears to afford a strong presumption, that the former mode of interpretation was the one selected by our translators. There is a change of number in this verse.

2 For thou shalt eat, &c. The person and number are now both changed. To the man, who has a reverential fear of Jehovah, is addressed an enumeration of the temporal blessings, which will be conferred upon him, as the due reward of his piety. One proof of his being thus the object of the divine favor, is the power of enjoying the fruits of his own labor. Psalm Lxxviii. 47.0 well is thee. Here is, undoubtedly, an elliptical expression for,-0 well is (it with) thee!

Ezek. 19. 10.

Job 29. 2, 5.

3 Thy wife shall be, as the fruitful vine upon the walls of thine house.

4 Thy children, like the olive-branches round about thy table.

5 Lo, thus shall the man be blessed, that feareth the Lord.

6 The Lord from out of Sion shall so bless thee, that thou shalt see Jerusalem in prosperity all thy life long;

7 Yea, that thou shalt see thy children's children, and peace upon Israel.

Isai. 33. 20, &c.

Gen. 50. 23.
Job 42. 16.

PSALM CXXIX. WAETHER this Psalm was or was not composed by Ezra or Nehe

miah, to console, with an assurance of happier times, the Jews, whom their enemies had endeavored to obstruct in the rebuilding of the city and temple (Ezra iv. 4. Neh. iv. 2), is a point of little moment, since we may readily perceive, that former deliverances from great distress are here adduced as powerful arguments against despair in their present circumstances, whatever they were. The writer, speaking in the name of the whole nation, describes the nature of the persecutions, which his

3 Upon the walls, fc. Vines, then, if our old translation correctly represents the meaning of the original, were formerly trained in the East, as they are with us, at the present day, to the sides of houses; though it ought to be added, that both these points have been strongly disputed.

4 Like the olive-branches, fc. The olive-trees planted by the inhabitants of the East round the tables or banqueting places in their gardens, to cheer the eye by their verdure, and to refresh the body by their cooling shade, set forth aptly and significantly the pleasure, which parents must ever feel at the sight of a numerons and blooming offspring. But a doubt exists as to the reality of such arbors; wherefore the children themselves, standing round the table in the act, probably, of waiting on their parents, are sometimes said to be now compared to vigorous and flourishing “olive-plants.” Psalm xxxvii. 36: Lii. 9.

6 Sion. See on Psalm xiv. 11.

7 Thou shalt see, &c. It cannot be imagined, that every pious man was destined to be blest with a flourishing family, to live to old age, and to behold prosperous times. Psalm xxix. 10. Still, such a wish or prediction is in perfect accordance with the subject of the Psalm. Besides, under the old dispensation, godliness had more evidently the promise of the life that now is, than it has at present under the gospel, and for this obvious reason, because then, from the grossness of men's hearts, it had not so clearly the promise of the life everlasting. Prov. xxii. 4. See on Psalm cxxxii. 4.

brethren had continually endured, but from which the goodness of God had always, in the end, rescued them; and he concludes with denouncing the divine vengeance against those persons,

who now sought their ruin. MANY time have they fought against Jer. 12. 7, 9.

[afflicted] me from my youth up, may Mic. 3. 9, 12. Israel now say; 2 Yea, many a time have they vexed me Matt. 16. 18.

Rev. 12. 7, &c. from my youth up; but they have not prevailed against me.

3 The plowers plowed upon my back, and Isai. 51. 23: made long furrows. 4 But the righteous Lord hath hewn the Isai

. 44. 24, 25. snares of the ungodly in pieces.

5 Let them be confounded and turned back- Isai. 10. 12, &c. ward, as many as have evil will at Sion.

6 Let them be even as the grass growing Mark 4.5, 6. upon the house-tops, which withereth afore it be plucked up;

53. 3.

Zech. 1. 14, &c.

I They. The various enemies of Israel.- -From my youth up. From the time of my abode in Egypt. The duration of the Israelites, as a people, is likened to the life of man. As they are considered in the scriptures under the image of a young man, at the commencement of their existence (Jer. ii. 2. Ezek. xxiii. 3. Hos. xi. 1); so, after they have been worn out with calamity, and diminished in number, as well as in power, they are compared to the aged. Isai. XLVI. 4. Hos. vii. 9.

2 Vexed. See on Psalm xxxviii. 17.-They have not prevailed, &c. That is, permanently, and to my utter ruin.

4 But the righteous Lord, fc. My enemies also laid snares for me, but, &c.

5 Let them be confounded, &c. See on Psalm Liv. 7. The second part of the Psalm begins with this verse.

6 As the grass, fc. The Psalmist prays for the extermination of his national enemies, before they have had either leisure or opportunity to accomplish any of their hostile designs. For this reason he wishes them to be as “the green herb,” which sometimes grows spontaneously on the flat roofs of the Eastern houses (2 Kings xix. 26), but comes not to maturity, because, having "no depth of earth,” it is withered by the heat of the sun, without attaining sufficient height or size to be plucked up. Although “grass” is expressly mentioned, under the term may be, perhaps, included the productions of the harvest in general, since the next two verses, which bear an evident allusion to the getting in of corn, seem to be only an amplification (see Psalm cxxxiii. 2.) of the idea contained in this one; and since many causes can readily be assigned for some scattered grains taking root “on the house-tops,” and growing up there for a short time. It should also be remarked, that a custom is said still to pre

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