Psalm 120:5

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 5. Woe is me, that sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar! Gracious men are vexed with the conversation of the wicked. Our poet felt himself to be as ill at ease among lying neighbours as if he had lived among savages and cannibals. The traitors around him were as bad as the unspeakable Turk. He cries "Woe is me!" Their sin appalled him, their enmity galled him. He had some hope from the fact that he was only a sojourner in Mesech; but as years rolled on the time dragged heavily, and he feared that he might call himself a dweller in Kedar. The wandering tribes to whom he refers were constantly at war with one another; it was their habit to travel armed to the teeth; they were a kind of plundering gypsies, with their hand against every man and every man's hand against them; and to these he compared the false hearted ones who had assailed his character. Those who defame the righteous are worse than cannibals; for savages only eat men after they are dead, but these wretches cat them up alive.

"Woe's me that I in Mesech am
A sojourner so long;
That I in tabernacles dwell
To Kedar that belong.
My soul with him that hateth peace
Hath long a dweller been;
I am for peace; but when I speak,
For battle they are keen.
My soul distracted mourns and pines
To reach that peaceful short,
Where all the weary are at rest,
And troublers vex no more".

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 5. -- Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar! Mesech was a son of Japheth; and the name here signifies his descendants, the Mosques, who occupied that wild mountain region which lies between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea. Kedar, again, was a son of Ishmael; and the name here signifies his descendants, the wandering tribes, whose "hand is against every man, and every man's hand against them." There is no geographical connection between those two nations: the former being upon the north of Palestine, and the latter upon the south. The connection is a moral one. They are mentioned together, because they were fierce and warlike barbarians. David had never lived on the shores of the Caspian Sea, or in the Arabian wilderness; and he means no more than this, that the persons with whom he now dwelt were as savage and quarrelsome as Mesech and Kedar. After a similar fashion, we call rude and troublesome persons Turks, Tartars, and Hottentots. David exclaims, I am just as miserable among these haters of peace, as if I had taken up my abode with those savage and treacherous tribes. --N. McMichael.

Verse 5. -- Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, etc. David exclaims, Alas for me because, dwelling amongst false brethren and a bastard race of Abraham, he was wrongfully molested and tormented by them, although he had behaved himself towards them in good conscience. Since then, at the present day, in the church of Rome, religion is dishonoured by all manner of disgraceful imputations, faith torn in pieces, light turned into darkness, and the majesty of God exposed to the grossest mockeries, it will certainly be impossible for those who have any feeling of true piety within them to lie in the midst of such pollutions without great anguish of spirit. --John Calvin.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 5. -- Bad lodgings. Only the wicked can be at home with the wicked. Our dwelling with them is trying, and yet it may be useful

  1. to them,

(2) to us: it tries our graces, reveals our character, abates our pride, drives us to prayer, and makes us long to be home.

Verse 5.--

  1. None but the wicked enjoy the company of the wicked.
  2. None but the worldly enjoy the company of worldlings.
  3. None but the righteous enjoy the company of the righteous. --G.R.