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2 Hear this, all people, Hearken, all dwellers on the earth.

3 Children of men, and sons of man, Rich and poor together.

4 My mouth shall speak fulness of wisdom, And the thought of my heart is understanding.

5 My ear I incline to the song, With the lute I open my riddle.

6 Why should I fear in the days of 14 This is their way, in whom folly evil,

When upon my heels iniquity is pressing,


And their sons hasten on after them.

7 Those who trust in their posses- 15 Like sheep they are sent down to sions,

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hell, and death will feed on them. Their form will waste, hell shall be

their dwelling.

Verily, God my soul will ransom
From hell, to take me to himself.

17 Fear not when one becomes rich, When the glory of his house in


18 For he takes away nothing at his death,

His glory goes not after him. 19 If he blessed himself in his lifetime.

And they praise thee, that thou doest well to thyself,

With their names named they their 20 Thou wilt come to the generation


And leave to others their posses


of the fathers,
Who forever see not the light.

13 Man in glory has no abiding-place; 21 Man in glory, yet without intelliHe is like the beasts which are dumb.


Is like the beasts, which are dumb.

In this rendering of the Psalm, the first four verses are introductory. The remaining verses are given in parallel passages; and, in place of verse 9, which is entirely omitted, as no part of the original Psalm, verse 12 is represented as double, so that there are eight verses in each column. Of these the third and the eighth in each column closely correspond, and are the emphatic verses. On one side we read that No one ransoms himself; on the other side, God will ransom my soul. On one side, it is Man in glory, with no abiding

place; on the other, Man in glory, with no understanding. And in all the parallel passages it is easy to trace a subtile contrast of expression and thought.

Psalm lxxx. is one of the most intelligible in our collection. Superficially read, there seems to be no difficulty in it. It recites God's doings with the ancient people, and the misfortunes which have come upon the vine planted by God's hand, and calls earnestly upon him to save and rescue his choicest work. Yet when we examine critically, we find passages in this very simple Psalm which are perplexing. What is meant by that verse, "Thou feedest them with the bread of tears; and givest them tears to drink in great measure"? Are we to understand the Psalmist as saying that tears are the beverage of this people in distress, that they literally drink their tears, a repetition apparently of the idea in Psalm xlii.? The 16th verse, too, seems to be out of place, to break the connection of the ideas, and to hinder the rhythmic movement. Why, moreover, should the vineyard be brought in, when Israel is not compared to a vineyard, but only to a vine? These difficulties Von Ortenberg gets rid of by the change of a few letters and the readjustment of a single sentence. And in his arrangement the beauty and consistency of the Psalm strikingly appear. He arranges the Psalm in five portions, of eight lines each, four of which have a similar refrain. The first of these is the direct appeal to God as the God of the fathers; the second recites the miseries of the people; the third shows what the vine was; the fourth shows what the vine is; and the fifth shows what the vine will be, if God will save it. As here arranged, the Psalm appears as a work of the nicest art, and yet beautifully clear and simple.


2 O Shepherd of Israel, give ear,

Thou who leadest Joseph as a sheep-flock!

Thou that sittest throned on the cherubim, shine forth

3 Before Ephraim, and Benjamin, and Manasseh!

Awake thy heroic strength,

And hasten to our aid!

4 God, restore us,

And let thy face shine, that help may come unto us!

5 Jahveh, God of Hosts, how long?

At enmity hast thou been with thy people's prayer!
6 In their tears hast thou made them to eat their food,
And the smallest portion to drink in their tears!
7 Thou madest us to our neighbors a mocking,

And our enemies set their scorn against us !
8 God of Hosts, restore us,

And let thy face shine, that help may come to us.

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And before the terror of thy face it falls to the ground. 15 God of Hosts, look down again from heaven, and see, And visit thy vine and protect it.

16 Be a protection to that which thy right hand planted, And to the shoot, which thou hast set so strongly!

18 Let thy hand guard the Man,

Thy right hand the Son of man!

19 Save us, and never may we turn aside from thee! Give us life, and we will magnify thy name!

20 Jahveh, God of Hosts, restore us,

And let thy face shine, that help may come to us!

This conjectural text-criticism is not, of course, to be commended as altogether safe. If one may allow his critical fancy this license, there is no end to the liberties which may be taken with the text. Yet it cannot be doubted that a very large proportion of the difficult passages in the Bible owe their obscurity to a false reading or a false transcription of the original text. That which makes sense out of what seemed to be nonsense may be arbitrary; yet, after all, it does service to those who would have the Scripture to be effective. We

are not of the class who find sanctification in the repetition of words without meaning, though those words be from the Scripture, and be arranged into "proper lessons." What possible religious benefit can come from repeating these words on the seventeenth day of the month?"I will think upon Rahab and Babylon, with them that know me. Behold ye the Philistines also, and they of Tyre, with the Morians; lo, there he was born." "The Lord shall rehearse, when he writeth up the people, that he was born there. The singers also and the trumpeters shall he rehearse. All my fresh springs shall be in thee." Will any parrot tongue which utters this glibly put meaning into it for any ear that hears? Neither for priest nor people can this have any intelligible sense. On the eleventh day of the month, at evening prayer, the people in Episcopal churches declare, with one voice, that their enemies "go to and fro in the evening, grin like a dog, and run about through the city." Can any who enunciate this tell us how a dog grins? Who would imagine that this expression is equivalent to the word howl, or that to "rehearse " the trumpeters is to number them?

It will not do for us to be too severe in our judgments of the rhymed Puritan versions of the Psalms, when such absurdities are upheld in the prose versions most commonly in use. Those who retain the Psalter in the English Prayer-book, hardly one Psalm of which does not in some particular, more or less important, misrepresent the original Hebrew text, may not complain of those who, in the absence of other aids, use their own sense of fitness to restore the text. It is singular that, among the propositions of liturgical revision, a new translation of the Psalter has not been made prominent. It has been urged that the prayers are too many, that the Litany is too long, that the Communion service needs alteration, and that one of the creeds might be spared; but comparatively little stress has been laid upon the restoration of intelligible sense to the words borrowed from the book of Hebrew piety. The Psalms, as they now are in the Prayer-book, neither represent what Christians ought to say, nor what David and the rest actually did say. They are neither the words of wisdom nor the words of piety. Our authorized version of the Bible VOL. LXXIII. 5TH S. VOL. XI. NO. II. 21

has a better Psalter; but here, too, the defects are patent, and the mistakes are numerous. Why should the people be continually mystified by those words of that eighty-fourth Psalm, so beautiful in the opening of public worship,—"In whose heart are the ways of them; who, passing through the valley of Baca, make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools," in which neither the idea nor the grammar of the Hebrew is observed ?

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What is most needed now for the understanding of the Psalms is not a fuller commentary, but a better text. This book is perhaps the most variously employed of all the books of Scripture, oftener read, and by more persons, than any other. We ought to have a Psalter for common use which shall make the meaning of the Psalms clear without any commentary. This book of the Bible, being chiefly for devotion, is the book which few are disposed to study. Criticism of the Psalms is very much like criticism of prayers. It hinders that reverent feeling which these sacred effusions should arouse and sustain. We cannot stop the flow of religious feeling, to inquire into the meaning of all this; the inquiry ought to be forestalled. As it is now, there is hardly a Psalm that a father can read with his children without pausing for comment, if they must follow it intelligently. We remember once to have heard in a prayer a famous, but somewhat pedantic, doctor of divinity interpret to the people as he went on the Greek and Latin phrases which rose so naturally to his lips, as the rush of his emotion carried him along. An analogous process is that which must make a didactic exercise of the morning family worship, and interpret David's prayers. It is the alternative now, whether to use words without meaning, or to lose the fervor of devotion in waiting to explain the words. We know one household in which the Psalter in its present form has ceased to be used in the family worship, as rather a hinderance than an aid; and the written words of uninspired men are preferred to the words of inspiration.

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