My soul waits for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Watch for the morning.—Comp. Psalm 123:2 for another figure of the same earnest upward gaze. In the “watcher for the dawn” there may be an allusion to the Levite-sentinel whose duty it was to signal the first ray of dawn, and the moment for commencing the sacred rites of the Temple (Psalm 134:1), but the figure if general, as marking the impatience of a deeply agitated soul—a sufferer waiting for relief, a contrite sinner for forgiveness—is as striking as graceful. (See Deuteronomy 28:67.)Psalm 130:6. My soul waiteth for the Lord — This verse in the original is remarkably concise, forcible, and elegant. It is literally, My soul for the Lord, (namely, waiteth,) more than watchers for the morning, than watchers for the morning. The psalmist is thought to intend those that kept the night-watches in the city, or the priests or Levites who watched in the temple; who, being wearied with hard service and want of rest, earnestly desired and eagerly expected the break of day, that they might be discharged from duty. Or, as Dr. Hammond and some others interpret the words, he means those priests, or their officers, “who were peculiarly appointed from a tower to expect the first appearance of the break of day.” The repetitions in this and the preceding verse beautifully and forcibly express that ardent desire with which true penitents expect and long for the salvation of God.
I say, more than they that watch for the morning - Margin, which watch unto the morning. The translation in the text best expresses the sense. There is something exceedingly beautiful and touching in this language of repetition, though it is much enfeebled by the words which our translators have inserted, "I say, more than." The Hebrew is, "more than they that watch for the morning - watch for the morning," as if the mind dwelt upon the words as better expressing its own anxious state than any other words could do. Everyone who has been afflicted will feel the force of this; every one who has been under conviction of sin, and who has felt himself in danger of suffering the wrath of God, will remember how anxiously he longed for mercy, for light, for peace, for some indication, even the most faint, like the first ray which breaks in the east, that his soul would find mercy and peace.
watch for, &c.—in earnestness and anxiety.Psalm 119:148.
more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning; or, "more than the morning watchers, that watch for or until the morning" (h); than watchmen of cities, or the keepers of the wails, as Aben Ezra; those who are upon the last morning watch, and are looking out for the morning light; that they may go off from duty, and lie down and sleep: or than those that sit up with sick persons; who, being solitary and melancholy, as well as want sleep, long for the morning, that they may have some refreshment: or rather than the priests and Levites that watched in the temple, that waited for the morning, that they might be relieved by others; or else than those of that function, who were very diligent to observe the break of day, that they might enter upon their morning sacrifices; of which are many instances in the Misnah (i). So the Targum,
"more than they that observe the morning watches, which they observe to offer up the morning sacrifice:''
and Kimchi's paraphrase is,
"who rise in the morning watches to pray.''
The coming of Christ is said to be as the morning; and the light of God's countenance is comparable to the morning light; the discoveries of pardoning grace are through the bright shining of the sun of righteousness, and is the healing that is in his wings; and salvation and deliverance from any distress Is light that breaks forth as the morning: all and each of these are more desirable, and more to be waited for, than the natural light of the morning; see 2 Samuel 23:4, Hosea 6:3.My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)6. My soul (looketh) for the Lord,
More than watchmen (look) for the morning,
(Yea, more than) watchmen for the morning (R.V.).
More anxiously than the watchman longs for the dawn which is to release him from his duty does the devout Israelite long for the end of the night of trouble and the dawn of a happier day. The repetition of watchmen for the morning gives a touch of pathetic earnestness. Most commentators suppose that military sentinels are meant by watchmen; but the Targum renders, “My soul waits for Jehovah, more than the keepers of the morning-watch which they keep in order to offer the morning sacrifice,” understanding the allusion to be to the custom that one of the Levites who kept the night watch in the Temple was appointed to watch for the moment of the dawn, at which the daily sacrifice was to be offered. This explanation adds point to the comparison, for the Levites were watching with eager expectation for a dawn which would bring not merely release from toil but positive blessing, in the renewed assurance of God’s covenant mercy.
The P.B.V. before the morning watch, I say, before the morning watch, is derived from Münster’s ante custodes matutinos, ante custodes, inquam, matutinos. Coverdale’s original rendering, frô the one morn-ynge to the other, was taken from the Zürich Version, “von einer morgenwacht zur anderen.”Verse 6. - My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning; i.e. more eagerly, more anxiously, than even the night watchman, tired with his long vigil. Again the repetition adds force. Psalm 37:27): they become like "grass of the housetops," etc. שׁ is a relative to יבשׁ (quod exarescit), and קדמת, priusquam, is Hebraized after מן־קדמת דּנה in Daniel 6:11, or מקּדמת דּנה in Ezra 5:11. שׁלף elsewhere has the signification "to draw forth" of a sword, shoe, or arrow, which is followed by the lxx, Theodotion, and the Quinta: πρὸ τοῦ ἐκσπασθῆναι, before it is plucked. But side by side with the ἐκσπασθῆναι of the lxx we also find the reading exanthee'sai; and in this sense Jerome renders (statim ut) viruerit, Symmachus ἐκκαυλῆσαι (to shoot into a stalk), Aquila ἀνέθαλεν, the Sexta ἐκστερεῶσαι (to attain to full solidity). The Targum paraphrases שׁלף in both senses: to shoot up and to pluck off. The former signification, after which Venema interprets: antequam se evaginet vel evaginetur, i.e., antequam e vaginulis suis se evolvat et succrescat, is also advocated by Parchon, Kimchi, and Aben-Ezra. In the same sense von Ortenberg conjectures שׁחלף. Since the grass of the house-tops or roofs, if one wishes to pull it up, can be pulled up just as well when it is withered as when it is green, and since it is the most natural thing to take חציר as the subject to שׁלף, we decide in favour of the intransitive signification, "to put itself forth, to develope, shoot forth into ear." The roof-grass withers before it has put forth ears of blossoms, just because it has no deep root, and therefore cannot stand against the heat of the sun.
(Note: So, too, Geiger in the Deutsche Morgenlndische Zeitschrift, xiv. 278f., according to whom Arab. slf (šlf) occurs in Saadia and Abu-Said in the signification "to be in the first maturity, to blossom," - a sense שׁלף may also have here; cf. the Talmudic שׁלופפי used of unripe dates that are still in blossom.)
The poet pursues the figure of the grass of the house-tops still further. The encompassing lap or bosom (κόλπος) is called elsewhere חצן (Isaiah 49:22; Nehemiah 5:13); here it is חצן, like the Arabic ḥiḍn (diminutive ḥoḍein), of the same root with מחוז, a creek, in Psalm 107:30. The enemies of Israel are as grass upon the house-tops, which is not garnered in; their life closes with sure destruction, the germ of which they (without any need for any rooting out) carry within themselves. The observation of Knapp, that any Western poet would have left off with Psalm 129:6, is based upon the error that Psalm 129:7-8 are an idle embellishment. The greeting addressed to the reapers in Psalm 129:8 is taken from life; it is not denied even to heathen reapers. Similarly Boaz (Ruth 2:4) greets them with "Jahve be with you," and receivers the counter-salutation, "Jahve bless thee." Here it is the passers-by who call out to those who are harvesting: The blessing (בּרכּת) of Jahve happen to you (אליכם,
(Note: Here and there עליכם is found as an error of the copyist. The Hebrew Psalter, Basel 1547, 12mo, notes it as a various reading.)
as in the Aaronitish blessing), and (since "we bless you in the name of Jahve" would be a purposeless excess of politeness in the mouth of the same speakers) receive in their turn the counter-salutation: We bless you in the name of Jahve. As a contrast it follows that there is before the righteous a garnering in of that which they have sown amidst the exchange of joyful benedictory greetings.
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