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Bible Commentaries

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

Psalms 93

The Royal Throne above the Sea of the Peoples

Side by side with those Psalms which behold in anticipation the Messianic future, whether it be prophetically or only typically, or typically and prophetically at the same time, as the kingship of Jahve's Anointed which overcomes and blesses the world, there are others in which the perfected theocracy as such is beheld beforehand, not, however, as an appearing ( parusia ) of a human king, but as the appearing of Jahve Himself, as the kingdom of God manifest in all its glory. These theocratic Psalms form, together with the christocratic, two series of prophecy referring to the last time which run parallel with one another. The one has for its goal the Anointed of Jahve, who rules out of Zion over all peoples; the other, Jahve sitting above the cherubim, to whom the whole world does homage. The two series, it is true, converge in the Old Testament, but do not meet; it is the history that fulfils these types and prophecies which first of all makes clear that which flashes forth in the Old Testament only in certain climaxes of prophecy and of lyric too (vid., on Psalms 45:1), viz., that the parusia of the Anointed One and the parusia of Jahve is one and the same.

Theocracy is an expression coined by Josephus. In contrast with the monarchical, oligarchical, and democratic form of government of other nations, he calls the Mosaic form θεοκρατία , but he does so somewhat timidly, ὡς ἂν τις εἴποι βιασάμενος τὸν λόγον [c. Apion. ii. 17]. The coining of the expression is thankworthy; only one has to free one's self from the false conception that the theocracy is a particular constitution. The alternating forms of government were only various modes of its adjustment. The theocracy itself is a reciprocal relationship between God and men, exalted above these intermediary forms, which had its first manifest beginning when Jahve became Israel's King (Deuteronomy 33:5, cf. Exodus 15:18), and which will be finally perfected by its breaking through this national self-limitation when the King of Israel becomes King of the whole world, that is overcome both outwardly and spiritually. Hence the theocracy is an object of prediction and of hope. And the word מלך is used with reference to Jahve not merely of the first beginning of His imperial dominion, and of the manifestation of the same in facts in the most prominent points of the redemptive history, but also of the commencement of the imperial dominion in its perfected glory. We find the word used in this lofty sense, and in relation to the last time, e.g., in Isaiah 24:23; Isaiah 52:7, and most unmistakeably in Revelation 11:17; Psalms 19:6. And in this sense יהוה מלך is the watchword of the theocratic Psalms. Thus it is used even in Psalms 47:9; but the first of the Psalms beginning with this watchword is Psalms 93:1-5. They are all post-exilic. The prominent point from which this eschatological perspective opens out is the time of the new-born freedom and of the newly restored state.

Hitzig pertinently says: “This Psalm is already contained in nuce in Psalms 92:9 of the preceding Psalm, which surely comes from the same author. This is at once manifest from the jerking start of the discourse in Psalms 93:3 (cf. Psalms 92:10), which resolves the thought into two members, of which the first subsides into the vocative יהוה .” The lxx ( Codd. Vat. and Sin.) inscribes it: Εἰς τὴν ἡμέρην τοῦ προσαββάτου, ὅτε κατῴκισται ἡ γῆ, αἶνος ᾠδῆς τῷ Δαυίδ . The third part of this inscription is worthless. The first part (for which Cod. Alex. erroneously has: τοῦ σαββάτου ) is corroborated by the Talmudic tradition. Psalms 93:1-5 was really the Friday Psalm, and that, as is said in Rosh ha-shana 31 a, ומלך עליהן ( בשׁשׁי ) על שׁם שׁגמר מלאכתו , because God then (on the sixth day) had completed His creative work and began to reign over them (His creatures); and that ὅτε κατῴκισται ( al. κατῴκιστο ) is to be explained in accordance therewith: when the earth had been peopled (with creatures, and more especially with men).

Verses 1-2

The sense of מלך (with beside Zinnor or Sarka as in Psalms 97:1; Psalms 99:1 beside Dechî)

(Note: It is well known that his pausal form of the 3rd masc. praet. occurs in connection with Zakeph; but it is also found with Rebia in Psalms 112:10 (the reading וכעס ), Leviticus 6:2 ( גּזל ), Joshua 10:13 ( עמד ), Lamentations 2:17 ( זמם ; but not in Deuteronomy 19:19; Zechariah 1:6, which passages Kimchi counts up with them in his grammar Michlol); with Tarcha in Isaiah 14:27 ( יעץ ), Hosea 6:1 ( טרף ), Amos 3:8 ( שׁאג ); with Teb|=r in Leviticus 5:18 ( שׁגג ); and even with Munach in 1 Samuel 7:17 ( שׁפט ), and according to Abulwalîd with Mercha in 1 Kings 11:2 ( דּבק ).))

is historical, and it stands in the middle between the present מלך ה and the future מלך : ה Jahve has entered upon the kingship and now reigns Jahve's rule heretofore, since He has given up the use of His omnipotence, has been self-abasement and self-renunciation: how, however, He shows Himself in all His majesty, which rises aloft above everything; He has put this on like a garment; He is King, and now too shows Himself to the world in the royal robe. The first לבשׁ has Olewejored; then the accentuation takes לבשׁ ה together by means of Dechî, and עז התאזּר together by means of Athnach. עז , as in Psalms 29:1-11, points to the enemies; what is so named is God's invincibly triumphant omnipotence. This He has put on (Isaiah 51:9), with this He has girded Himself - a military word (Isaiah 8:9): Jahve makes war against everything in antagonism to Himself, and casts it to the ground with the weapons of His wrathful judgments. We find a further and fuller description of this עז התאזר in Isaiah 59:17; Isaiah 63:1., cf. Daniel 7:9.

(Note: These passages, together with Psalms 93:1; Psalms 104:1, are cited in Cant. Rabba 26 b (cf. Debarim Rabba 29 d), where it is said that the Holy One calls Israel כלה (bride) ten times in the Scriptures, and that Israel on the other hand ten times assigns kingly judicial robes to Him.)

That which cannot fail to take place in connection with the coming of this accession of Jahve to the kingdom is introduced with אף . The world, as being the place of the kingdom of Jahve, shall stand without tottering in opposition to all hostile powers (Psalms 96:10). Hitherto hostility towards God and its principal bulwark, the kingdom of the world, have disturbed the equilibrium and threatened all God-appointed relationships with dissolution; Jahve's interposition, however, when He finally brings into effect all the abundant might of His royal government, will secure immoveableness to the shaken earth (cf. Psalms 75:4). His throne stands, exalted above all commotion, מאז ; it reaches back into the most distant past. Jahve is מעולם ; His being loses itself in the immemorial and the immeasurable. The throne and nature of Jahve are not incipient in time, and therefore too are not perishable; but as without beginning, so also they are endless, infinite in duration.

Verses 3-5

All the raging of the world, therefore, will not be able to hinder the progress of the kingdom of God and its final breaking through to the glory of victory. The sea with its mighty mass of waters, with the constant unrest of its waves, with its ceaseless pressing against the solid land and foaming against the rocks, is an emblem of the Gentile world alienated from and at enmity with God; and the rivers (floods) are emblems of worldly kingdoms, as the Nile of the Egyptian (Jeremiah 44:7.), the Euphrates of the Assyrian (Isaiah 8:7.), or more exactly, the Tigris, swift as an arrow, of the Assyrian, and the tortuous Euphrates of the Babylonian empire ( Isaiah 27:1). These rivers, as the poet says whilst he raises a plaintive but comforted look upwards to Jahve, have lifted up, have lifted up their murmur, the rivers lift up their roaring. The thought is unfolded in a so-called “parallelism with reservation.” The perfects affirm what has taken place, the future that which even now as yet is taking place. The ἅπαξ λεγ . דּכי signifies a striking against ( collisio ), and a noise, a din. One now in Psalms 93:4 looks for the thought that Jahve is exalted above this roaring of the waves. מן will therefore be the min of comparison, not of the cause: “by reason of the roar of great waters are the breakers of the sea glorious” (Starck, Geier), - which, to say nothing more, is a tautological sentence. But if מן is comparative, then it is impossible to get on with the accentuation of אדירים , whether it be with Mercha (Ben-Asher) or Dechî (Ben-Naphtali). For to render: More than the roar of great waters are the breakers of the sea glorious (Mendelssohn), is impracticable, since מים רבים are nothing less than ים (Isaiah 17:12.), and we are prohibited from taking אדירים משׁברי־ים as a parenthesis (Köster), by the fact that it is just this clause that is exceeded by אדיר במרום ה . Consequently אדירים has to be looked upon as a second attributive to מים brought in afterwards, and משׁבּרי־ים (the waves of the sea breaking upon the rocks, or even only breaking upon one another) as a more minute designation of these great and magnificent waters ( אדירים , according to Exodus 15:10),

(Note: A Talmudic enigmatical utterance of R. Azaria runs: באדירים יבא אדיר ויפרע לאדירים מאדירים , Let the glorious One (Jahve, Psalms 93:4, cf. Isaiah 10:34; Isaiah 33:21) come and maintain the right of the glorious ones (Israel, Psalms 16:3) against the glorious ones (the Egyptians, Exodus 15:10 according to the construction of the Talmud) in the glorious ones (the waves of the sea, Psalms 93:4).)),

and it should have been accented: מים רבים אדירים משברי ים | מקלות . Jahve's celestial majesty towers far above all the noisy majesties here below, whose waves, though lashed never so high, can still never reach His throne. He is King of His people, Lord of His church, which preserves His revelation and worships in His temple. This revelation, by virtue of His unapproachable, all-overpowering kingship, is inviolable; His testimonies, which minister to the establishment of His kingdom and promise its future manifestation in glory, are λόγοι πιστοί καὶ ἀληθινοί , Revelation 19:9; Revelation 22:6. And holiness becometh His temple ( נאוה־קדשׁ , 3rd praet. Pilel, or according to the better attested reading of Heidenheim and Baer, נאוה ;

(Note: The Masora on Ps 147 reckons four נאוה , one ונאוה , and one נאוה eno d , and therefore our נאוה is one of the יז מלין דמפקין אלף וכל חד לית מפיק (cf. Frensdorf's Ochla we-Ochla, p. 123), i.e., one of the seventeen words whose Aleph is audible, whilst it is otherwise always quiescent; e.g., כּמוצאת , otherwise מוצאת .)

therefore the feminine of the adjective with a more loosened syllable next to the tone, like יחשׁב־לּי in Ps 40:18), that is to say, it is inviolable (sacrosanct), and when it is profaned, shall ever be vindicated again in its holiness. This clause, formulated after the manner of a prayer, is at the same time a petition that Jahve in all time to come would be pleased to thoroughly secure the place where His honour dwells here below against profanation.

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The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Bibliographical Information
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Psalms 93". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. 1854-1889.