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The Bible-Work, Vol. 5

The Bible-Work, Vol. 5

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Excerpt from The Bible-Work, Vol. 5: The Old Testament

The Psalms in the Third Book differ in some important points from the preceding. Eleven are attributed to Asaph, four to the sons of Korah, one to Ethan, and one only to David. Their character is for the most part didactic, grave, solemn, and sententious. They are pervaded by a deep feeling of melancholy, relieved, however, by Hashes of spiritual hope ; containing at once the most harrowing descriptions of national calamities, and the clearest anticipations of a futurity of blessedness. It is observable that from the forty-second to the eighty-fourth Psalms the name Elohim is used almost exclusively. This is conclusive against the assumption that such an usage indicates an early date, for these Psalms, with very few exceptions, belong to the post-Davidic period, and are even assigned in part by some critics to a far later age.

Psalm 73. This Psalm may have been composed by Asaph, the contemporary of David, but the name appears to have been borne by some of his descendants. The indications of date are uncertain. The progress or triumph of ungodliness is a feature common to every age, nor are the complaints stronger than those found in the Psalms of David. The apostasy of which the Psalmist speaks is rather moral than ceremonial; the unbelief rather of practical atheism than of heathenish superstition. The sanctuary is still standing (v. 17), the Psalmist goes there for instruction aud comfort. The belief in a future retribution is definite (v. 24), not like that of Job, a strong aspiration, or even subjective conviction, but based on the Divine promise. The language is archaic, and the style somewhat obscure, resembling to some extent the Book of Job, with which the author was evidently familiar. Upon the whole it appears most probable that we have here a product of the Solomonian age. written at a season when a turbulent and corrupt nobility had the upper hand, and vicious habits were taking deep root in the nation. A few years before the deatli of Solomon, or the period immediately following the accession of his son, would supply abundant materials for such reflections. Cook.

The same problems that are discussed in Psalms 37, 49, and in the Book of Job, arc treated here, and with similar solution. But the vindication of God's ways by Asapli is jnore satisfactory, and the confidence and joy iu God are more explicit than we find in Job. Indeed the veil that conceals the heavenly world was lifted before him. Everything seemed bright and clear for the future to one who could
say, " Thou wilt guide me by Thy counsel, and thereafter receive me into glory." De Witt.

Perhaps no man ever looked thoughtfully on the world as it is, without seeing much that was hard to reconcile with a belief in the love and wisdom of God. One form of this moral difficulty pressed heavily upon the pious Jew under the old dispensation. It was this: AYliy should good men suffer, and bad men prosper ? The law told him that God was a righteous Judge, meting out to men in this world the due recompense of their deeds. The course of the world, where those who had cast off the fear of God were rich and powerful, made him ready to question this truth, and was a serious stumbling-block to his faith. This is the perplexity which appears in this Psalm, as it does in the thirty-seventh, and also in the Book of Job. Substantially it is the same problem ; but it is met differently. Iu the thirty-seventh Psalm the advice given is to wait, to trust in Jehovah, and to rest assured that iu the end the seeming disorder will be set right even in this world. The wicked will perish, the enemies of Jehovah be cut off, and the righteous will be preserved from evil, and inherit the land. Thus God suffers wickedness for a time, only the more signally to manifest his righteousness in overthrowing it. That is the first, the simplest, the most obvious solution of the difficulty. In this Psalm the c
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