New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary

Psa 75:1

For the Chief Musician. To the tune of Do Not Destroy. A Psalm by Asaph. A song-
This "Asaph" could be the Asaph of Hezekiah's time (Is. 36:3) who used the Psalms in the context of the events of the Assyrian invasion. The Asaph Psalms all have parts in them relevant to that context (Ps. 50, 73-83). Or the "Asaph" may have been the singers who were relatives of Asaph, prominent at the restoration (Neh. 7:44; 11:17,22). It could mean that the psalms were a part of a collection from the Asaphites, and the name "Asaph" was therefore simply used to identify the temple singers. And again, parts of the Asaph psalms also have relevance to the restoration. The fact the Asaph Psalms speak of elohim rather than Yahweh would support the idea that they were used in the exilic / restoration period. But Asaph was the "chief" of the Levites to whom David assigned the ministry of praise before the ark (1 Chron. 16:4,5). It seems he did compose his own Psalms, which were used by Hezekiah at his time (2 Chron. 29:30). So I would again suggest that all the Asaph Psalms were composed originally by David "for" [not necessarily "by"] Asaph, but were rewritten and edited for later occasions.

We give thanks to You, God. We give thanks, for Your Name is near. Men tell about Your wondrous works-
Literally, 'next to', 'neighbour / relative to'. This is how close God feels to the broken hearted and crushed; and conversely, how far He is from the self satisfied and self congratulatory, 'the strong' in secular terms. It is this feature of Yahweh which makes Him unique; no other God has this characteristic of 'nearness' (s.w. Dt. 4:7).

You are not alone, I am not alone; “For I am with you”. God is with us for us in His Son. Of course, we must draw near to Him (Ps. 73:28); and yet He is already near, not far from every one of us (Acts 17:27). David often speaks of drawing near to God, and yet he invites God to draw near to him (Ps. 69:18). Yet David also recognizes that God “is” near already (Ps. 75:1). I take all this to mean that like us, David recognized that God “is” near, and yet wished God to make His presence real to him. Truly can we pray David’s prayers. So often, prayer is described as coming near to God (Ps. 119:169 etc.)- and yet God “is” near already. Prayer, therefore, is a way of making us realize the presence of the God who is always present.

Psa 75:2

When I choose the appointed time, I will judge blamelessly-
I suggest later in this Psalm that the initial application was to the Assyrian encirclement of Jerusalem at the time of Hezekiah. "The appointed time" is a phrase used about the feasts, and there is reason to believe that God delivered Jerusalem at Passover time. This was the "set time to favour Zion" (Ps. 102:13 s.w.).

Psa 75:3

The earth and all its inhabitants quake. I firmly uphold its pillars. Selah-
"Inhabitants" of the earth / land quaking or "melting away" is the very phrase used about the inhabitants of Canaan melting away after the miracle at the Red Sea and its associated earthquakes (s.w. Ex. 15:15; Josh. 2:9,24). The implication that God was going to dramatically deliver His people, and then subdue the entire eretz promised to Abraham under them. Despite this quaking, the pillars of the land, as it were, would be held firm by God. His people would be preserved. But this great possibility and potential was not used by those who entered Canaan, nor was it used in Hezekiah's time; for instead of exalting Israel's God in the entire eretz, Hezekiah instead went the way of the surrounding nations

Psa 75:4

I said to the arrogant, Don’t boast!; I said to the wicked, Don’t lift up the horn-
This would refer to the proud, boastful words of Rabshakeh outside the walls of Jerusalem.

Psa 75:5

Don’t lift up your horn on high, don’t speak with a stiff neck-
This is addressed to the entity which has "horns" which Yahweh would break (:10). The Assyrian enemy of Judah is depicted as a beast with horns, and this symbology continues throughout the Bible. The beast is the latter day Assyrian. The proud speaker would likely refer to Rabshakeh speaking loudly and proudly about the failure of Israel's God to save from the Assyrians. This rebuke of the Assyrian was uttered on God's behalf by the faithful remnant within Jerusalem at that time.

Psa 75:6

For neither from the east, nor from the west, nor yet from the south, comes exaltation-
The implication therefore is that exaltation to safety and deliverance comes from the "north", literally "the hidden place", put here for "God". Another take is that the Psalm may have been written or applied to the time when Jerusalem was surrounded by the Assyrian armies. They had approached from the north. There was no good looking for help to come from the other points of the compass. All the nations to whom Judah had looked for help would not deliver her. "Exaltation" is used by David in Ps. 18:48 to mean deliverance from enemies.

Psa 75:7

But God is the judge. He puts down one, and lifts up another-
God right now puts down one and lifts up another– all of which He will also due at the last day (Lk. 14:10 alludes here). The essence of judgment is ongoing now; “we make the answer now”. God’s present judgment is often paralleled with His future judgment. Thus “The Lord shall judge the people... God judges [now] the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day... he will whet his sword; he has [right now]bent his bow, and made it ready.” (Ps. 7:8,11-13). We are come now “to God the judge of all” (Heb. 12:23); God is now enthroned as judge (Ps. 93:2; Mt. 5:34 “the heaven is God’s throne”). We are now inescapably in God’s presence (Ps. 139:2); and ‘God’s presence’ is a phrase used about the final judgment in 2 Thess. 1:9; Jude 24; Rev. 14:10.

Psa 75:8

For in the hand of Yahweh there is a cup, full of foaming wine mixed with spices. He pours it out; indeed the wicked of the earth drink and drink it to its very dregs-
This may have originated in David's thoughts about Saul, then reapplied to David's need for salvation from Absalom and Ahithophel, but, it becomes the intended appeal of the exiles for deliverance from Babylon, then Haman, and indeed from all their captors. "The wicked of the earth" is the term used for the Babylonians in Ez. 7:21. The imagery of Babylon being given a cup of wine to drink as judgment is developed in the later prophets.

Taking the cup of wine is a double symbol: of blessing (1 Cor. 10:16; 11:25), and of condemnation (Ps. 60:3; 75:8; Is. 51:17; Jer. 25:15; Rev. 14:10; 16:19). Why this use of a double symbol? Surely the Lord designed this sacrament in order to highlight the two ways which are placed before us by taking that cup: it is either to our blessing, or to our condemnation. Each breaking of bread is a further stage along one of those two roads.


Psa 75:9

But I will declare this forever: I will sing praises to the God of Jacob-
Eternal praise to the God who saved spiritually weak Jacob is how David perceived eternity. "Declaring" or showing forth praise of God's ways is what David did in this life (Ps. 71:17,18; 92:2,15 and often). But he imagines himself doing so "forever" (Ps. 75:9). This is an example of how we can live the eternal life now, acting now as we shall eternally do in the Kingdom. It is in this sense that the Lord Jesus in John's gospel offers eternal life right now; even though we shall die and only enter eternity at the resurrection of the body.

Psa 75:10

I will cut off all the horns of the wicked, but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up-
The power of Assyria and Israel's enemies generally has been likened to a wild beast, with the particular "horn" of :4,5 referring to Rabshakeh speaking loudly and proudly about the failure of Israel's God to save from the Assyrians. So the beast with many horns of later prophecy is envisaged here- as the Assyrian or Babylonian invader, with the various members of their coalitions as the horns. The idea of the horn of the righteous being exalted is used about what David envisaged happening for God's people in this life (s.w. Ps. 148:14), although the final fulfilment was to be at the last day, when the horn of the wicked is cut off (Ps. 75:10). But there are potential foretastes of the last day in this life. Jeremiah appears to struggle with the Psalms which taught that the horn of the righteous would be lifted up, lamenting that instead the horn of their enemies had been lifted up (s.w. Lam. 2:17). The truth was that the horn of God's people would only be lifted up if they were identified with the lifting up of the horn which was Messiah (Ps. 89:17,24). And because this didn't happen, their horn was not exalted.

Despite his undoubted physique stamina, David was a broken man, even quite early in his life, prone to fits of introspection; dramatic mood-swings (cp. 1 Sam. 24:14 with 25:6,22,34;), sometimes appearing a real 'softie' toward all men, ever reflecting God's grace; but hard as nails at others (consider Ps. 75:10 and the whole of Ps. 101); easily getting carried away: be it with excessive emotional enthusiasm for bringing the ark back, in his harsh response to Hanun humbling his servants, his over-hasty and emotional decision to let Amnon go to Absalom's feast when it was obvious what might well transpire, his anger " flaring up" because of incompetency (2 Sam. 11:20 NIV) etc.