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Psalm 75

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
God Abases the Proud, but Exalts the Righteous
MT Intro
For the choir director; set to Al-tashheth. A Psalm of Asaph. A Song
Thanksgiving For God's Righteous Judgment National Thanksgiving for God's Mighty Acts God the Judge The Universal Judge
75:1-5 75:1 75:1 75:1 75:1
  75:2-3 75:2-5 75:2-5 75:2-3
  75:4-5     75:4-5
75:6-8 75:6-8 75:6-9 75:6-8 75:6-8
75:9-10 75:9   75:9-10 75:9-10
  75:10 75:10    

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. It is difficult to know when the psalmist is speaking and when he is speaking for God.

1. Psalm 75:1 - obviously the psalmist

2. Psalm 75:2-3 - obviously God

3. Psalm 75:4-5 - could be either one

4. Psalm 75:6-8 - the psalmist

5. Psalm 75:9 - God (MT, "I")

B. God acts and then His acts must be recorded and explained (i.e., inspiration) to human authors to put this revelation into a form that can be passed on to future generations (i.e., oral, written, stories).

C. The Creator will require an account of every human creature's stewardship of the gift of life and revelation (cf. Ps. 19:1-6,7-11)! Justice will come one day!

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 75:1-5
 1We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks,
 For Your name is near;
 Men declare Your wondrous works.
 2"When I select an appointed time,
 It is I who judge with equity.
 3The earth and all who dwell in it melt;
 It is I who have firmly set its pillars.  Selah.
 4I said to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,'
 And to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up the horn;
 5Do not lift up your horn on high,
 Do not speak with insolent pride.'"

75:1 "We give thanks" This verb (BDB 392, KB 389, Hiphil perfect) is repeated twice for emphasis (note Ps. 107:1,8,15,21,31). The term in the Hiphil is used often (65 times) in the Psalter. It is translated mostly as "praise," but in Ps. 32:5 it is translated "confess."

NASB, NKJV,
NRSV"For Your name is near"
NJB, RSV,
Peshitta, LXX"we call upon your name"
JPSOA"Your presence is near"

The MT is followed by NASB. The UBS Text Project (p. 326) gives the second option a "C" rating (considerable doubt), but accepts it as the most likely original text.

The problem is, what does "and near Your name" mean?

1. we tell of Your presence with Your people in acts of deliverance

2. You (i.e., "Your name," which equals YHWH's personal presence) are near now and we can expect You to act (because of Israel's sin YYWH had not always delivered them)

3. we call on Your name and tell what You have done for the covenant people (two separate acts)

4. AB makes it a title for God, "O Near One," as it does

a. "the Exalted One" in Ps. 75:5a

b. "the Victor" in Ps. 75:6 (twice)

c. "the Eternal" in Ps. 74:9

d. "the Just One" in Ps. 74:10

AB claims there are twelve divine names in this Psalm.

▣ "Men declare Your wondrous works" As Israel taught her children about their ancestors and God's promises (cf. Deut. 4:9,10; 6:7,20-25; 11:19; 32:46), they were passing on the promises and their fulfillment in the next generation. These "wondrous acts" (BDB 810, KB 927, see Special Topic: Wonderful Things) were the powerful acts of deliverance, protection, and provision that Israel had experienced throughout her history.

This revelation of the character, promises, and faithful interventions of YHWH were a way to

1. keep Israel in faith

2. bring the nations to faith

The NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 284, lists the different words used to describe God's acts which reveal His character.

1. wonders, cf. Ps. 9:1; 26:7; 40:5; 75:1

2. work/acts, cf. Ps. 44:1; 73:28; 107:22; 118:17

3. glory, cf. Ps. 96:3

4. righteousness, cf. Ps. 71:15

5. loyal love, cf. Ps. 88:11

6. greatness, cf. Ps. 145:6

75:2-5 "When I select an appointed time" In these verses, God is the speaker. It is possible this relates to Ps. 74:22-23 (i.e., God pleading His case).

75:2 "I select an appointed time" This is a literary way of asserting God's sovereignty. He sets the time and place of all world events (i.e., Ps. 74:12-17; Deut. 32:8; Romans 9-11).

1. seasons - Gen. 1:14-18; Ps. 72:17; 74:16-17; 104:19; 136:7-8

2. worship days - Gen. 2:3; Exod. 20:8-11; Leviticus 23; Numbers 28-29

3. all things are appointed by God - Eccl. 3:1-11 (cf. Job 14:5; Ps. 31:15; Acts 17:31)

God's people do not understand His timetable. He delivers on His schedule, not His people's. Often judgment, even invasion, is His will! But one day He will set all things straight!

▣ "I who judge with equity" Two theological points are asserted.

1. God will judge the earth

2. He will do it fairly based on His revelation (cf. Ps. 9:8; 58:11; 67:4; 96:10,13; 98:9)

75:3 "The earth and all who dwell in it melt" The verbal (BDB 556, KB 555, Niphal participle, cf. Exod. 15:15; Jos. 2:9,24; 1 Sam. 14:16; Isa. 14:31; Jer. 49:23) denotes the fear of a population.

Not only people's hearts melt but the earth itself is affected by the presence of its Creator/Judge (cf. Ps. 46:6; Isa. 24:19-20; Amos 9:5; Micah 1:4; Nahum 1:5).

In the NT 2 Peter 3:10 predicts the dissolving of this planet (cf. Matt. 5:18; 24:35; Rev. 21:1).

There is a new heaven and a new earth coming. The new covenant of Jer. 31:31-34 will be fully implemented. The Bible describes this new age in terms of Garden of Eden imagery (compare Genesis 1-2 with Revelation 21-22).

▣ "It is I who have firmly set its pillars" This is a literary way of referring to the foundations of the earth (i.e., initial creation, cf. 1 Sam. 2:8; Job 38:4-6).

In Jonah 2:6 the "roots of the mountains" is also creation imagery. See my notes below from Jonah 2:6.

Jonah 2:6 "I descended to the roots of the mountains" The OT uses the physical direction "down" to describe Sheol (BDB 432, KB 434, Qal PERFECT, cf. Num. 16:30,33; Ps. 55:15; Isa. 5:14; 14:19). The term Sheol and "pit" (BDB 1001) are parallel (cf. Ps. 30:3). It is this metaphorical expression of Jonah's sense of approaching the underworld that makes his experience the object of Jesus' comment (cf. Matt. 12:40-41; Luke 11:30). Jonah believed he was going to die, but God had mercy on him! God's judgment was not His last word. There was purpose in the punishment.

The psalmist and the covenant people did not understand why they faced such difficulties when they knew their God was in control of all things! Even amidst chaos, invasion, and injustice God's sovereignty was stable and sure (cf. Revelation 4-5)! His timetable is geared to His larger redemptive purposes, not our immediate wants/desires/needs!

▣ "Selah" See note at Psalm 3:2 and Introduction VII.

75:4-5 The Creator speaks as the Moral Guide. YHWH's laws reflected His character. The ones who face His judgment were those who

1. boast - "do not boast," BDB 237, KB 248, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

2. wicked - "do not lift up your horn," BDB 926, KB 1202 (twice), Hiphil imperfects used in a jussive sense

3. prideful - "do not speak. . .," BDB 180, KB 210, Piel imperfect used in a jussive sense

It seems that "the wicked," (Ps. 7:4) of this Psalm are

1.  pagan nations who are attempting an invasion

2. arrogant Israelites (cf. Ps. 78:3,8-9,18-19)

75:4 "horn" This is an animal symbol of power and preeminence (see SPECIAL TOPIC: HORNS USED BY ISRAEL, cf. Ps. 75:10; 1 Sam. 2:1,10; Daniel 7-8).

75:5

NASB"pride"
NKJV, NRSV,
Peshitta"neck"
NEB, LXX"Rock"

The MT has "neck" (BDB 848). The REB has "rock." The two words are very similar (i.e., "rock" has one more consonant). Possibly REB reflects the usage of Job 15:26. The UBS Text Project (p. 326) gives "neck" a "C" rating (considerable doubt). The JPSOA has "in vainglorious bluster."

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 75:6-8
 6For not from the east, nor from the west,
 Nor from the desert comes exaltation;
 7But God is the Judge;
 He puts down one and exalts another.
 8For a cup is in the hand of the Lord, and the wine foams;
 It is well mixed, and He pours out of this;
 Surely all the wicked of the earth must drain and drink down its dregs.

75:6-8 This strophe reflects the universal presence of YHWH, much like Psalm 139 does, but here the context focuses on His judgment of the wicked (cf. Ps. 75:4-5).

Often the wicked seem to have the upper hand but God will set things straight (cf. Ps. 146:7; 1 Sam. 2:7; Romans 9; James 4:10). This divine action will be a reversal of expectations.

75:6 This verse is using Palestinian/Canaanite imagery to assert universality.

1. east - west

2. sunrise - sunset

3. desert (south) - mountains (or "uplifting") which would denote the north

75:8 "a cup" This is usually an idiom for human destiny and it is usually negative (cf. Isa. 51:17,22; Jer. 25:15-16,27-28). See full note at Ps. 11:6.

▣ "It is well mixed" This refers to the ancient method of mixing different types of fermented fruits and grains to form more intoxicating drinks. See Special Topic: Alcohol and Alcohol Abuse.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 75:9-10
 9But as for me, I will declare it forever;
 I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.
 10And all the horns of the wicked He will cut off,
 But the horns of the righteous will be lifted up.

75:9-10 This strophe is the closing words of the psalmist.

1. he will declare YHWH's wondrous deeds (cf. Ps. 75:1)

2. he will sing praises to the God of Jacob

3. he will affirm the reversal of YHWH's righteous judgment

This reflects a temple worship setting!

75:9 The MT has "I will declare" but the LXX and Peshitta have, "I will rejoice" (cf. NRSV). The difference is one consonant. The LXX is attempting to establish a synonymous parallelism between Ps. 75:9a and 9b.

75:10 "He will cut off" The MT has "I will." The UBS Text Project (p. 328) gives this an "A" rating.

This Psalm has several speakers. Possibly Ps. 75:9 is the psalmist and 75:10 is YHWH.

▣ "horns" Notice that this idiom can be used positively or negatively (see SPECIAL TOPIC: HORNS USED BY ISRAEL).

1. negatively - cf. Ps. 75:4-5,10a; Jer. 48:25; Lam. 2:17

2. positively -cf. Ps. 75:10b; 1 Sam. 2:1,10; Ps. 89:17,24; 92:10; 112:9

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. List the different speakers in this Psalm.

2. Does this Psalm magnify God as Creator or Judge?

3. Explain the imagery of

a. "pillars"

b. "horn"

c. "cup"

4. Does this Psalm look toward a temporal judgment or an end-time judgment?