Psalm 68:14

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 14. When the almighty scattered kings in it, it was white as snow in Salmon. The victory was due to the Almighty arm alone; he scattered the haughty ones who came against his people, and he did it as easily as snow is driven from the bleak sides of Salmon. The word white appears to be imported into the text, and by leaving it out the sense is easy. A traveller informed the writer that on a raw and gusty day, he saw the side of what he supposed to be Mount Salmon suddenly swept bare by a gust of wind, so that the snow was driven hither and thither into the air like the down of thistles, or the spray of the sea: thus did the Omnipotent one scatter all the potentates that defied Israel. If our authorized version must stand, the conjectures that the bleached bones of the enemy, or the royal mantles cast away in flight, whitened the battle field, appear to be rather too far fetched for sacred poetry. Another opinion is, that Salmon was covered with dark forests, and appeared black, but presented quite another aspect when the snow covered it, and that by this noteworthy change from sombre shade to gleaming whiteness, the poet sets forth the change from war to peace. Whatever may be the precise meaning, it was intended to pourtray the glory and completeness of the divine triumph over the greatest foes. In this let all believers rejoice.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 14. Salmon or Zalmon, properly Tsalmon, !wmlc a woody hill near Shechem (Jud 9:48). Whether it is this that's referred to in Psalms 69:14 , is disputed. Some interpreters take !wmlc here in its etymological meaning of darkness, ~lc; thus Luther renders the clause "so wird es helle wo es dunkel ist," thus it be bright where it is dark, and understands it with a Messianic reference. Ewald adopts much the same rendering. The majority, however, retain the name as a proper name, but exhibit great variety in their explanation of the passage. Hengstenberg thinks that the phrase, "it snows on Tsalmon," is equivalent to "there is brightness where there was darkness," the hill, originally dark with wood, is now white with snow. De Dieu supposes a comparison: Tsalmon is white with the bones of the slaughtered kings, as if with snow. Some suppose that there is here a mere note of time: it was winter, the snow was on Tsalmon (Herder); and this Hupfeld adopts, with the explanation that the statement is made derisively, with reference to those who tarried at home, deterred by the winter's snow. He considers the passage ( Psalms 68:12-14 ) as a fragment of an ancient song, celebrating some of the early conquests of Israel in Canaan, and deriding those, who, from indolence or fear, shrank from the enterprise. He translates thus:

"The kings of the armies, flee, flee,
And the housewife shares the spoil!

Will ye lie among the shippens?

Pigeons feathers decked with silver,

And their wings with yellow gold!
As the Almighty scattered kings therein,
It was snowing on Tsalmon."

William Lindsay Alexander, in "A Cyclopaedia of Biblical Literature." 1866.

Verse 14. The verb may be viewed as in the second person -- Thou, O God! didst make it fair and white as Mount Salmon with snow. The reader may adopt either construction, for the meaning is the same. It is evident that David insists still upon the figure of the whiteness of silver, which he had previously introduced. The country had, as it were, been blackened or sullied by the hostile confusion into which it was thrown, and he says that it had now recovered its fair appearance, and resembled Salmon, which is well known to have been ordinarily covered with snows. Others think that Salmon is not the name of a place, but an appellative, meaning a dark shade. I would retain the commonly received reading. At the same time, I think that there may have been an allusion to the etymology. It comes from the word ~lc, tselem, signifying a shade, and Mount Salmon had been so called on account of its blackness. This makes the comparison more striking; for it intimates that as the snows whitened this black mountain, so the country had resumed its former beauty, and put on an aspect of joy, when God dispelled the darkness which had lain upon it during the oppression of enemies. John Calvin.

Verse 14. It was as white as snow in Salmon. That is, this thine inheritance, thy peculiar people, appeared as bright and glorious in the sight of their neighbours, as the snowy head of Salmon glistens by the reflection of the sunbeams. Thomas Fenton.

Verse 14. White as snow in Salmon. The expression here used seems to denote, that everything seemed as bright and cheerful to the mind of God's people, as Salmon does to their eyes, when glistening with snow. As snow is much less common, and lies a much shorter time in Judaea than in England, no wonder that it is much more admired; accordingly, the son of Sirach speaks of it with a kind of rapture. "The eye will be astonished at the beauty of its whiteness, and the heart transported at the raining of it." Ecclus. 43:18 or 20. Samuel Burder.

Verse 14. Salmon. Dean Stanley conjectures that Salmon in another name for Mount Ebal; it was certainly near Shechem (see Judges 9:48 ), but it is almost hopeless to expect to identify it, for Mr. Mills, the industrious author of "Nablus and the modern Samaritans," could not find any one who knew the name of Salmon, neither could he discover any traditions in reference to it, or indeed any allusion to it in Samaritan literature. The word signifies a shade, and may, perhaps, popularly be accepted as identical with the name the "Black Forest." C. H. S.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 14.

  1. Where earth's greatest battles are fought.
    "Scattered," "in it," i.e., in Zion. "There
    brake he," etc.
  2. By whom? The Almighty.
  3. When? In answer to his people's faith and prayer.
  4. How?
    1. Without noise, gently: as the fall of snow.
    2. Without human aid: as untrodden snow.
    3. Without violence: "All bloodless lay the untrodden snow." G. R.