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Christ In Type And Prophecy: Volumes 1&2 by Rev. A.J. Maas S.J.

1. STRUCTURE OF THE PSALM.—The psalm consists of seventeen stanzas, each of which comprises five octosyllabic verses. As to the line of thought, the psalm first praises the Lord as the Saviour and the protector of the good, of the Israelites, and as the afflicter and punisher of the wicked, of the Gentiles (vv. 2–7). Then follows a description of the benefits which God has bestowed on his people from the time when he led them out of Egypt till he brought them into the Holy Land (vv. 8–11). In the third place, the psalmist recounts the divine benefits during the time of the judges, down to the period when the sanctuary was established on Sion (vv. 12–15). Then Sion is celebrated as the special dwelling-place of the Lord in which are shown all the wonders of his power (vv. 20–24). Next follows the description of the solemn procession for the victory which God has just granted to the Israelite people (vv. 25–28). The hope of the conversion of the Gentiles to the God of Israel is naturally suggested by this triumphal procession (vv. 29–32). The psalmist closes with an exhortation to all the kingdoms of the earth to praise the mighty God of Israel (vv. 33–35).

2. AUTHOR OF THE PSALM.—a. The psalm belongs to the post-exilic period (Cheyne). “So full it is of reminiscences of other psalms (not to claim allusions to Habakkuk and II. Isaiah) that we cannot help referring it to the post-exile period. But to which part of that period of periods? It were hopeless to justify a single view here; much less to examine the many theories which have been proposed and which make Ps. 68, in Reuss’s words, ‘ein Denkmal exegetischer Noth und Kunst.’ ” But the incompleteness of this view, to say nothing of other difficulties which will be touched upon in following paragraphs, renders it objectionable.

b. Olshausen places the psalm in the time of the Machabees; Ewald, Gesenius, and Riehm in the period of the return from the Babylonian captivity; Kimchi in the time when Ezechias had to struggle against the Assyrians; Hitzig in the time when Josaphat and Joram fought against the Edomites and the Moabites. But various circumstances exclude all these opinions: α. Since the psalm is essentially a canticle of victory and supposes a triumphal march, there can be no question of the times about and after the Babylonian captivity. β. In verse 32 we read: “Ambassadors shall come out of Egypt, Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands to God.” Had the psalmist lived about the time of Ezechias, he would have represented the Assyrians, and not the Egyptians and Ethiopians, as the great enemies of the people and of God. γ. Again, in verse 28 we read: “There is Benjamin a youth, in ecstasy of mind, the princes of Juda are their leaders, the princes of Zabulon, the princes of Nephtali;” at no period after the secession of the ten tribes did the tribes of Zabulon and Nephtali form an alliance with Juda and Benjamin. Since the text supposes such an alliance, it must date from a time prior to the secession of the Northern Kingdom. δ. The style of the psalm is so antique that Böttcher does not hesitate to place it among the most ancient pieces of Hebrew literature. ε. It is true that we detect parallelisms between certain portions of the psalm and certain parts of Isaias (40:3, 9; 52:7; 57:14; 62:10) and Habacuc. But if these parts have been copied by the later writer, is it not possible that the prophets may have borrowed them from the psalmist? At least, Cheyne’s argument which we had occasion to notice in the preceding paragraph is not conclusive.

c. Patrizi has seen the weight of these reasons, and assigned the origin of the psalm to a period before the separation of the kingdom. But he does not suppose David to be the author; Asaph wrote the canticle for the solemn translation of the ark into the temple of Solomon. The title, which assigns the psalm to David himself, is not opposed to this view, according to Patrizi; since Asaph was the leader of the choir under the reign of David and continued to hold office under Solomon, Asaph’s psalms may well be assigned to David. But α. not to insist on the circumstance that this explanation of the title is wholly unsatisfactory, β. we must draw attention to the fact that the psalm contains a number of warlike thoughts wholly unsuited to the peaceful translation of the ark of the Lord. γ. Again, there is mention in the psalm of the Hebrews’ passage through the desert, which is not connected with the ceremonial procession that took place at the time of Solomon (v. 5). δ. Then, the psalm alludes to a captivity that is led captive (v. 19), which again cannot apply to the translation of the ark under King Solomon.

d. We must, therefore, adhere to the more common opinion, according to which the author of the psalm is David. α. This is, in the first place, clearly stated in the title of the psalm, which reads: “unto the end; a psalm of a canticle, for David himself.” We have seen repeatedly that “unto the end” means “to the leader of the choir” (cf. Introd. to Ps. 8); the clause “a psalm of a canticle” shows that the psalm was originally destined to be sung, and not merely to be recited as a prayer; finally, the phrase “for David himself” indicates that David is the author. For it should properly be rendered “of David” instead of “for David.” β. This tradition concerning the Davidic authorship of the psalm, preserved in the title, is confirmed by the fact that there are in the life of David several occasions for which the canticle may have been composed.

1. Kistemaker, Dereser, Stier, and many others are of opinion that the psalm applies to the solemn translation of the ark of the Lord from the house of Obededom to the recently conquered Mount of Sion (2 Kings 6:12 ff.; 1 Par. 15). But several difficulties may be urged against this view: first, we have seen already α. that the psalm supposes a signal victory, β. that it alludes to the Israelites’ passage through the desert, γ. that it implies the presence of captives of war in the triumphal procession; now these circumstances are not verified in the procession mentioned. δ. Then again, vv. 16, 17, 30, 35 suppose that Sion was already the Holy Mountain of God at the time of the triumphal procession described in the psalm. Hence it cannot apply to the first translation of the ark to Sion by which the mountain acquired that privilege. ε. Finally, we know from 1 Par. 16:8 that David ordered the singing of a canticle wholly different from the present psalm on the occasion of the first translation of the ark of God.

2. Other authors have, therefore, applied the psalm to David’s victory over the Syrians and the Edomites (2 Kings 8); but they advance no cogent reason for their opinion.

3. Flaminio, Tholuck, Hengstenberg, Reinke, Moll, Jennings, Delitzsch, and many others apply the psalm to the victory which David gained over the Ammonites and the Assyrians. α. The war had been long and full of danger; β. the ark of the covenant had been carried out into the camp (2 Kings 10:11); γ. finally, David himself finished the war by taking Rabbath (2 Kings 12:26–31), and the ark was then solemnly brought back to Mount Sion. This triumphal procession formed a fitting occasion for the composition and the singing of the psalm. δ. The exception that about this time David had sinned with Bethsabee, and had done penance for his deep fall, and that, therefore, the psalm ought to contain, at least, an allusion to the fall and the penance, if it had been composed on this occasion, is disposed of by the consideration that David composed the psalm in his capacity of king of Israel, not as a private individual. His private griefs and sins are, therefore, rightly omitted in the canticle.

3. MESSIANIC CHARACTER OF THE PSALM.—a. It follows from what has been said that the literal meaning of the psalm refers to part of the life of David. We cannot, therefore, agree with Theodoret and a number of other commentators who contend that the literal meaning of the psalm applies, at least partially, to the Messias.

b. On the other hand, it is certain that the typical sense of the psalm is Messianic. 1. Verse 19 of the psalm is thus applied in Eph. 4:8: “Wherefore he saith: Ascending on high he led captivity captive; he gave gifts to men.” The context evidently shows that the Apostle here speaks of Christ’s ascension into heaven; still there is some difficulty about the last part of the Apostle’s quotation. For instead of saying “thou hast received gifts in men,” as we read in the psalm, St. Paul says “he gave gifts to men.” Referring the reader to the commentary on the passage for a more thorough investigation of the meaning of the passage, we state here in general that the person who receives gifts from God is to be understood as a mediator between God and man. His receiving gifts from God and his distributing those gifts to men are, therefore, correlative terms; hence the Apostle could quote the passage “he gave gifts to men,” though the psalmist only gives the correlative term “thou hast received gifts in men.” This manner of quoting is not against truth or reason; for two writers agree, though the one calls James the son of John, while the other calls John the father of James.

2. The references to the patristic testimony in favor of the Messianic character of Ps. 67 may be found in Kilber’s Analysis Biblica, ed. II. ii. p. 56.

3. There is a very remarkable comment in the Talmud (Pes. 118, b) and in Shemoth R. (Ex. 26:15; ed. Warsh., p. 50 b) on the words of v. 32, “ambassadors shall come out of Egypt;” the commentary says that in the latter days all nations will bring gifts to king Messias, beginning with Egypt. “And lest it be thought that he [the Messias] would not accept it from them, the Holy One says to the Messias: Accept from them hospitable entertainment;” or it might be rendered, “Accept it from them; they have given hospitable entertainment to my son” (cf. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, ii. p. 719; Hebraica, vol. ii. p. 133).

PS. 67 (68)

Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered,

And let them that hate him flee from before his face;

As smoke vanisheth, so let them vanish away,

As wax melteth before the fire,

So let the wicked perish at the presence of God.

And let the just feast, and rejoice before God,

And be delighted with gladness;

Sing ye to God, sing a psalm to his name,

Make a way for him who ascendeth upon the west, The Lord is his name,

Rejoice ye before him, but the wicked shall be troubled at his presence.

Who is the father of orphans, and the judge of widows,

God in his holy place;

God who maketh men of one manner to dwell in a house,

Who bringeth out them that were bound in strength,

In like manner them that provoke, that dwell in sepulchres.

O God, when thou didst go forth in the sight of thy people,

When thou didst pass through the desert, the earth was moved,

And the heavens dropped [manna]

At the presence of the God of Sinai,

At the presence of the God of Israel.

Thou shalt set aside for thy inheritance

A free rain, O God, and it was weakened,

But thou hast made it perfect;

In it shall thy animals dwell,

In thy sweetness, O God, thou hast provided for the poor.

The Lord shall give the word to them

That preach good tidings with great power;

The king of power is beloved of the beloved,

And the beauty of the house shall divide spoils,

If you sleep amongst the midst of lots.

You shall be as the wings of a dove covered with silver,

And the hinder parts of her back with the paleness of gold,

When he that is in heaven appointeth kings over her,

They shall be whited with snow in Selmon.

The mountain of God is a fat mountain,

A curdled mountain, a fat mountain;

Why suspect ye curdled mountains?1

A mountain in which God is well pleased to dwell,

For there the Lord shall dwell unto the end.

The chariot of God is attended1 by ten thousands, thousands of them that rejoice,

The Lord is among them in Sina, in the holy place;

Thou hast ascended on high,1 thou hast led captivity captive,

Thou hast received gifts in men,

Yea for those also that do not believe, the dwelling of the Lord God.

Blessed be the Lord day by day, the God of our salvation

Will make our journey prosperous to us; our God is the God of salvation,

And of the Lord, of the Lord are the issues from death;

But God shall break the heads of his enemies,

The hairy crown of them that walk on in their sins.

The Lord said: I will turn1 them from Basan,

I will turn them into the depth of the sea,

That thy foot may be dipped in the blood

Of thy enemies, the tongue of thy dogs

Be red with the same.

They have seen thy goings,1 O God, the goings of my God,

Of my king who is in his sanctuary;

Princes went before joined with singers,

In the midst of young damsels playing on timbrels.

In the churches bless ye God,

The Lord from the fountains of Israel;

There is Benjamin a youth,1 in ecstasy of mind,

The princes of Juda are their leaders,

The princes of Zabulon, the princes of Nephtali.

Command thy strength,1 O God,

Confirm, O God, what thou hast wrought in us,

From thy temple in Jerusalem

Kings shall offer presents to thee.

Rebuke the wild beasts of the reeds, the congregation of bulls

With the kine of the people, who seek to exclude them who are tried

With silver; scatter thou the nations that delight in wars;

Ambassadors shall come out of Egypt,

Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands to God.

Sing to God, ye kingdoms1 of the earth,

Sing ye to the Lord, sing ye to God,

Who mounteth above the heaven of heavens to the east,

Behold, he will give to his voice the voice of power.

Give ye glory to God for Israel,

His magnificence and his power is in the clouds

God is wonderful in his saints,

The God of Israel is he who will give power

And strength to his people, blessed be God.

Since the typical meaning of the psalm refers to Christ’s Ascension, it may be asked how the words “thou hast led captivity captive” have been fulfilled in that mystery. Answers: a. A number of writers apply the words to the souls of the just whom, they say, Christ took with him into his heavenly glory. But others object that the souls thus led into heaven cannot be properly called captives, since they enjoy the freedom of the children of God in the most complete sense possible. b. These latter writers apply the words to the demons who had been vanquished by the death of Christ, and whose defeat became complete through Christ’s ascension into heaven (cf. Corluy, Spicil. i. p. 19).

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