Verse 12. "Through God we shall do valiantly " - Through thee alone shall we do valiantly; thou alone canst tread down our enemies; and to thee alone we look for conquest.
THE author to whom Harmer refers in the note on the fourth verse, is one of the writers in a work entitled Gesta dei per Francos, fol. Hanoviae, 1611, 2 vols. And the places quoted by Harmer may be found in vol. i., p.
282; and as the passage is singular, and a good use has been made of it for the illustration of a difficult passage, I shall lay the words of the original before the reader: "Proxima ab hinc die sabbati clarescente, quidam Sarracenorum spe vitae in summitatem tecti domus praecelsae Solomonis ab armis elapsi, circiter trecenti, confugerant. Qui multa prece pro vita flagitantes, in mortis articulo positi, nullius fiducia aut promissione audebant descendere, quousque vexillum Tankradi in signum protectionis vivendi susceperunt. Sed minime misellis profuit. Nam plurimis super hoc indignantibus, et Christianis furore commotis, ne unus quidem illorum evasit." It is very properly added by Albertus, that the noble spirit of Tancred was filled with indignation at this most horrible breach of faith; and he was about to take a summary revenge on the instigators and perpetrators of this unprincipled butchery, when the chiefs interposed, and not only maintained the expediency of the massacre that had already been committed, but the necessity of putting all the inhabitants to the sword.
On this the savage fiends, called Christians, flew to arms, and made a universal slaughter of all that remained of the inhabitants. They drew out the prisoners, chopped off their heads, stabbed all they met with in the streets, and-but I can translate no farther; it is too horrible. I shall give my author's words, who was an ecclesiastic, and wrote down the account from eye-witnesses: "Concilio hoc accepto, (the determination of the chiefs to put all to the sword,) tertio die post victoriam egressa est sententia a majoribus: et ecce universi arma rapiunt, et miserabili caede in omne vulgus Gentilium, quod adhuc erat residuum, exsurgunt, alios producentes e vinculis et decollantes: alios per vicos et plateas civitatis inventos trucidantes, quibus antea causa pecuniae, aut humana pietate pepercerunt. Puellas vero, mulieres, matronas nobiles, et faetas cum puellis tenellis detruncabant, aut lapidibus obruebant, in nullis aliquam considerantes aetatem. E contra, puellae, mulieres, matronae, metu momentaneae mortis angustiatae et horrore gravissimae necis concussae Christianos in jugulum utriusque sexus debacchantes ac saevientes, medios pro liberanda vita amplexabantur, quaedam pedibus eorum advolvebantur, de vita et salute sua illos nimium miserando fletu et ejulatu solicitantes.
Pueri vero quinquennes aut triennes matrum patrumque crudelem casum intuentes, una miserum clamourem et fletum multiplicabant. Sed frustra haec pietatis et misericordiae signa fiebant: nam Christiani sic neci totum laxaverunt animum, ut non lugens masculus aut faemina, nedum infans unius anni vivens, manum percussoris evaderet. Unde plateae totius civitatis Jerusalem corporibus extinctis virorum et mulierum, lacerisque membris infantium, adeo stratae et opertae fuisse referuntur, ut non solum in vicis, soliis et palatiis, sed etiam in locis desertae solitudinis copia occisorum reperiretur innumerabilis. ' GESTA DEI Vol. I., p. 283.
This is one specimen of the spirit of the crusaders, and is it any wonder that God did not shine on such villanous measures! No wonder that the Mohammedans have so long hated the name of Christian, when they had no other specimen of Christianity than what the conduct of these ferocious brutes exhibited; and these were called Gesta Dei, the transactions of God! There are many difficulties in this Psalm; whether they are in general removed by the preceding notes, the reader must judge. The following analysis is constructed on the supposition that the Psalm speaks of the distracted state of the kingdom from the fatal battle of Gilboa, in which Saul fell, to the death of Ishbosheth, when the whole kingdom was united under David.
ANALYSIS OF THE SIXTIETH PSALM
Before David's time, and in the beginning of his reign, Israel was in a distressed condition; he composed and quieted the whole. Edom only was not vanquished. In this Psalm he gives thanks for his victories, and prays for assistance for the conquest of Edom.
There are three general parts in this Psalm: - I. A commemoration of the former lamentably distracted condition of the Israelites, ver. 1-3.
II. The condition of it under his reign much better, ver. 4- 9.
III. His thankfulness in ascribing all his victories to God, ver. 9-12.
I. In the first he shows that God was angry with Israel. On which he laments the effects of his anger. 2. And then prays for the aversion:
1. "O Lord, thou hast (or hadst) cast us off." 2. "Thou hast scattered us abroad; thou hast been displeased." 3. "Thou hast made the earth to tremble." 4.
"Thou hast broken it." 5. "Thou hast showed thy people hard things." 6.
"Thou hast given us to drink the wine of astonishment." Every syllable of which congeries will appear to be most true when we examine the history of the Israelites before Saul's reign, under his government, and upon his death; and the first entrance of David upon his reign; his wars with the house of Saul, until Ish-bosheth was taken out of the way.
All which wars, civil and external, with the calamities that flowed from them, he imputes to God's anger: "Thou hast been displeased," ver. 1.
2. And upon it he prays: "O turn thee to us again." Let us again enjoy thy countenance. 2. "Heal the breaches of the land." Close the wounds made by these contentions: they were not closed; for it adds, "It shaketh." II. And now the condition of it was much better; all being brought under one king, and he victorious over his foreign enemies.
1. "Thou hast now given a banner to them that fear thee." All Israel-all those that are thy servants, are brought to acknowledge thee, and fight under one standard; in effect, have received me as their sole king, their factions and parties being quieted.
2. "That it may be displayed." Set up, that Israel may know under whom to fight, and whose part to take.
3. "Because of thy truth." Who by this hast made it appear that it was no fiction nor ambition of mine to set up this standard; but a truth that I was by Samuel, by thy special appointment, anointed to be king; and I am now invested with the crown for the performance of thy truth and promise.
4. And the end is especially, that I should bring deliverance to thy servants: it was that "thy beloved may be delivered." That the godly and good men, and those that fear thee, living hitherto oppressed, and in these distractions kept low, might be delivered.
5. Which, that it may be done, he inserts a short ejaculation for himself and them: "Save with thy right hand, and hear thou me." And now he begins to commemorate the particulars that God had done for him, and the several victories he had obtained; also, in what manner he ruled this people. All which he prefaces with this oracle: - "God hath spoken in his holiness." He certainly and truly hath promised to save us: "I will be glad and rejoice in it." With much joy and gladness I will enter upon the kingdom, being confirmed by his promise, which I will administer in a different manner; my government shall be paternal to the Israelites, which are his people; but more severe to the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, and Syrians, because they are aliens to the commonwealth of Israel.
1. "I will divide Shechem, and mete out the valley of Succoth." I will bring under my power those places of Israel; and, as a true lord of them, I will divide and measure out what portions I shall think fit to the inhabitants.
2. "Gilead also is mine, and Manasseh is mine." The Israelites that followed the house of Saul are come into my power, and I will divide and apportion them also. Yet, as being mine, I will deal mildly with them.
3. Of Ephraim I shall make reckoning. Ephraim "shall be the strength of my head." As this tribe had more men than any other, so they were great soldiers; and these he esteemed as his lifeguard.
4. "Judah is my lawgiver." His chief counsel were of this tribe, in whom, with himself, was the legislative power, according to the prophecy of Jacob: "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, till Shiloh come." And thus, having showed his kingdom, and the administration over the Israelites, he passes to the strangers whom he had conquered, over whom he would carry a severe hand, putting them into a slavish subjection, and to base offices.
1. "Moab is my washpot." A servant to hold the bason, and to wash my feet.
2. "Over Edom I will cast my shoe." Trample on their necks.
3. "Philistia, triumph thou because of me:" which is either spoken ironically, as if he would say: "O Philistine, whom I have subdued, go, go triumph because I have conquered thee." Or else, "Triumph thou in the triumph I shall celebrate for my conquest; bear among the rest thy part, though unwillingly. Follow the train with acclamations, and proclaim me thy king." III. After the enumerations of his victories, and form of government, that no man should take this for a vain boast of his own strength, he thankfully ascribes all the glory to God, both of which he had done, and what he was yet to do. One people he had yet to conquer; and that could not be done except that God, who had hitherto gone out with his armies, would again vouchsafe to lead them; and, therefore, he asks: - 1. "Who will bring me into the strong city? who will lead me into Edom?" No question, had Joab, Abishai, &c., or any of his worthies, been by, they would have striven who should have performed this service. Every one would have said, "I will be the man." 2. But he prevents them all; and returns this answer to himself, that none but God should do it, and that he was persuaded that he would do it; even that God who was formerly displeased with them, had cast them off, but was now reconciled: "Wilt not thou, O God, lead us into the strong city which hadst cast us off? and thou, O God, bring us into Edom, which didst not go forth with our armies." 3. And to that purpose he prays, "Give us help from trouble." And he adds his reason, that nothing can be well done without God's assistance; for the strength, power, prudence, and skill of man, without God, are to little purpose: "Vain is the help of man." And he concludes all with this epiphonema: "In God we shall do great or valiant acts; for he it is that shall tread down our enemies." In war these two must be joined, and indeed in all actions. HE, we; GOD and man.
1. "We shall do valiantly," for God helps not remiss, or cowardly, or negligent men.
2. And yet, that being done, the work is his: "He shall tread down;" the blow and overthrow are not to be attributed to us, but to HIM.