Verse 5. "Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them " - This is generally supposed to mean his house full of children, as his quiver if full of arrows; but I submit whether it be not more congenial to the metaphors in the text to consider it as applying to the wife: "Happy is the man who has a breeding or fruitful wife;" this is the gravida sagittis pharetra "the quiver pregnant with arrows." But it may be thought the metaphor is not natural. I think otherwise: and I know it to be in the Jewish style, and the style of the times of the captivity, when this Psalm was written, and we find the pudendum muliebre, or human matrix, thus denominated, Ecclus. xxvi. 12: katenanti pantov passalou kaqhsetai, kai enanti belouv anoixei faretran. The reader may consult the place in the Apocrypha, where he will find the verse well enough translated.
"With the enemies in the gate. " - "When he shall contend with his adversaries in the gate of the house of judgment." - Targum. The reference is either to courts of justice, which were held at the gates of cities, or to robbers who endeavour to force their way into a house to spoil the inhabitants of their goods. In the first case a man falsely accused, who has a numerous family, has as many witnesses in his behalf as he has children. And in the second case he is not afraid of marauders, because his house is well defended by his active and vigorous sons. It is, I believe, to this last that the psalmist refers.
This Psalm may be entitled, "The Soliloquy of the happy Householder: - The poor man with a large loving family, and in annual expectation of an increase, because his wife, under the Divine blessing, is fruitful." All are blessed of the Lord, and his hand is invariably upon them for good.
ANALYSIS OF THE HUNDBRED AND TWENTY-SEVENTH PSALM
The Jews were at this time very busy in rebuilding their temple, and the houses and walls of their city; and the prophet teaches them that without the assistance of God, nothing wiil be blessed or preserved, and that their children are his especial blessing also. This the prophet shows by these words repeated, nisi, nisi, frustra, frustra, and proves it by an induction.
I. In civil affairs, whether in house or city.
1. "Except the Lord build the house," &c. God must be the chief builder in the family; his blessing and help must be prayed for, for the nourishment of wife, children, servants, cattle, &c.
2. "Except the Lord keep the city," &c. And so it is in kingdoms and commonwealths. The Jews had now a trowel in one hand, and a sword in the other, for fear of their enemies: but the prophet tells them that the Lord must be their protector and keeper, else their watch, magistrates, judges, &c., would be of little value.
And this he illustrates by an elegant hypothesis of an industrious man who strives to be rich, but looks not to God.
1. "He riseth early." He is up with the rising of the sun.
2. "He sits up late." Takes little rest.
3. "He eats the bread of sorrow." Defrauds himself of necessary food.
His mind is full of anxiety and fear: but all this without God's blessing is vain: "It is vain for you to rise up early," &c. On the contrary, he who loves and fears God has God's blessing: "For so he gives his beloved sleep," in the place of fear and distraction.
II. The prophet then sets down the blessing a man possesses in his children. In reference to their birth, 1. "Lo, children are a heritage," &c. They are alone the Lord's gift.
2. As regarding their education: being brought up in the fear of the Lord, they become generous spirits: "As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man," &c. enabled to do great actions, and to defend themselves and others.
And the benefit will redound to the father in his old age.
1. "Happy is the man that hath," &c. Of such good children.
2. "He shall not be ashamed," &c. He shall be able to defend himself, and keep out all injuries, being fortified by his children. And if it so happen that he has a cause pending in the gate, to be tried before the judges, he shall have the patronage of his children, and not suffer in his plea for want of advocates: his sons shall stand up in a just cause for him.