Psalm 129:5

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 5. Let them all be confounded and turned back that hate Zion. And so say we right heartily: and in this case vox populi is vex Dei, for so it shall be. If this be an imprecation, let it stand; for our heart says "Amen" to it. It is but justice that those who hate, harass, and hurt the good should be brought to naught. Those who confound right and wrong ought to be confounded, and those who turn back from God ought to be turned back. Loyal subjects wish ill to those who plot against their king.

"Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks",
is but a proper wish, and contains within it no trace of personal ill will. We desire their welfare as men, their downfall as traitors. Let their conspiracies be confounded, their policies be turned back. How can we wish prosperity to those who would destroy that which is dearest to our hearts? This present age is so flippant that if a man loves the Saviour he is styled a fanatic, and if he hates the powers of evil he is named a bigot. As for ourselves, despite all objectors, we join heartily in this commination; and would revive in our heart the old practice of Ebal and Gerizim, where those were blessed who bless God, and those were cursed who make themselves a curse to the righteous. We have heard men desire a thousand times that the gallows might be the reward of the assassins who murdered two inoffensive men in Dublin, and we could never censure the wish; for justice ought to he rendered to the evil as well as to the good. Besides, the church of God is so useful, so beautiful, so innocent of harm, so fraught with good, that those who do her wrong are wronging all mankind and deserve to be treated as the enemies of the human race. Study a chapter from the "Book of Martyrs", and see if you do not feel inclined to read an imprecatory Psalm over Bishop Bonner and Bloody Mary. It may be that some wretched nineteenth century sentimentalist will blame you: if so, read another over him.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 5. If any one be desirous to accept these words, Let them be confounded and turned backward, as they sound, he will devoutly explain the imprecation: that is to say, it may be an imprecation of good confusion, which leads to repentance, and of turning to God from sin: thus Bellarmine. There is a confounding by bringing grace, glory, and turning from the evil way. Thus some enemies and persecutors of the Christians have been holily confounded and turned to the faith of Christ; as St. Paul, who full of wrath and slaughter was going to Damascus that he might afflict the believers, but was graciously confounded on the road. --Thomas Le Blanc.

Verse 5. Let them all be confounded. Mr. Emerson told a convention of rationalists once, in this city, that the morality of the New Testament is scientific and perfect. But the morality of the New Testament is that of the Old. "Yes", you say; "but what of the imprecatory Psalms", A renowned professor, who, as Germany thinks, has done more for New England theology than any man since Jonathan Edwards, was once walking in this city with a clergyman of a radical faith, who objected to the doctrine that the Bible is inspired, and did so on the ground of the imprecatory Psalms. The replies of the usual kind were made; and it was presumed that David expressed the Divine purpose in praying that his enemies might be destroyed, and that he gave utterance only to the natural righteous indignation of conscience against unspeakable iniquity. But the doubter would not be satisfied. The two came at last to a newspaper bulletin, on which the words were written, -- "Baltimore to be shelled at twelve o'clock." "I am glad of it", said the radical preacher; "I am glad of it." "And so am I", said his companion, "but I hardly dare say so, for fear you should say that I am uttering an imprecatory Psalm." --Joseph Cook, in Boston Monday Lectures. "Transcendentalism."

Verse 5. And turned back; from pursuing their designs and accomplishing them; as the Assyrian monarch was, who had a hook put into his nose, and a bridle in his lips, and was turned back by the way he came: Isaiah 37:29 . --John Gill.

Verse 5. All those who hate Zion. Note that he does not say, All who hate me; but "all who hate Zion." Thus the saints are not led to this from the desire of revenge, but from zeal for the people of God, so that they pray for the confusion and repression of the ungodly. --Wolfgang Musculus.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 5.

  1. An inexcusable hatred described: "hate Zion", God's church and cause. For,

    1. Her people are righteous.
    2. Her faith is a gospel.
    3. Her mission is peace.
    4. Her very existence is the world's preservation.
  2. An inveterate sinfulness indicated: "Them that hate Zion." For, whatever moral virtues they may boast of, they must be,

    1. Enemies to the human race.
    2. In defiant opposition to God.
    3. Perversely blind, as Saul, or radically vile.
    4. Devil like.
  3. An instinctive feeling of a good man expressed: "Let them all be", etc. Prompted by,

    1. His love to God.
    2. Love to man.
    3. Love to righteousness. Hence, its existence is in itself a pledge that the righteous God will respect and comply with it. --J. F.

Verse 5-8.

  1. The characters described.

    1. They do not love Zion. They say not, "Lord, I have loved the habitation of thine house", etc.
    2. They hate Zion -- both its King and its subjects.
  2. Their prosperity: "As the grass", etc.
  3. Their end.

    1. Shame: "Let them be confounded."
    2. Loss: "Turned back."
    3. Disappointment. No mowing; no reaping.
    4. Dishonour. Unblessed by others as well as in themselves. --G. R.