Psalm 34:20
He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.
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(20) Broken.—See John 19:36, N. Test. Commentary.

34:11-22 Let young persons set out in life with learning the fear of the Lord, if they desire true comfort here, and eternal happiness hereafter. Those will be most happy who begin the soonest to serve so good a Master. All aim to be happy. Surely this must look further than the present world; for man's life on earth consists but of few days, and those full of trouble. What man is he that would see the good of that where all bliss is perfect? Alas! few have this good in their thoughts. That religion promises best which creates watchfulness over the heart and over the tongue. It is not enough not to do hurt, we must study to be useful, and to live to some purpose; we must seek peace and pursue it; be willing to deny ourselves a great deal for peace' sake. It is the constant practice of real believers, when in distress, to cry unto God, and it is their constant comfort that he hears them. The righteous are humbled for sin, and are low in their own eyes. Nothing is more needful to true godliness than a contrite heart, broken off from every self-confidence. In this soil every grace will flourish, and nothing can encourage such a one but the free, rich grace of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The righteous are taken under the special protection of the Lord, yet they have their share of crosses in this world, and there are those that hate them. Both from the mercy of Heaven, and the malice of hell, the afflictions of the righteous must be many. But whatever troubles befal them, shall not hurt their souls, for God keeps them from sinning in troubles. No man is desolate, but he whom God has forsaken.He keepeth all his bones - That is, he preserves or guards the righteous.

Not one of them is broken - Perhaps there is a direct and immediate allusion here to what the psalmist had himself experienced. In His dangers God had preserved him, so that he had escaped without a broken bone. But the statement is more general, and is designed to convey a truth in respect to the usual and proper effect of religion, or to denote the advantage, in reference to personal safety in the dangers of this life, derived from religion. The language is of a general character, such as often occurs in the Scriptures, and it should, in all fairness, be so construed. It cannot mean that the bones of a righteous man are never broken, or that the fact that a man has a broken bone proves that he is not righteous; but it means that, as a general principle, religion conduces to safety, or that the righteous are under the protection of God. Compare Matthew 10:30-31. Nothing more can be demanded in the fair interpretation of the language than this.

20. bones—framework of the body. All his bones, i.e. all the parts and members of their bodies, which are synecdochically expressed by the bones, which are the stay and strength of the rest. God will not suffer any mischief to befall him; though he may be oft afflicted, yet he shall not be destroyed. But these words, though they are here spoken of the righteous men in general, of whom they are true in a metaphorical sense; yet they had a further meaning in them, being designed by the Spirit of God (which dictated to David, not only the matter, but the very words and expressions) to signify a great mystery, that none of Christ’s bones should be broken; to which purpose they are alleged, John 19:36.

He keepeth all his bones; not one of them is broken. This is literally true of Christ, in whom the type of the passover lamb had its accomplishment, and this passage also; see Exodus 12:46; and seems better to agree with him than with any of his members, since the bones of many of them have been broken by one accident or another; and especially many of the martyrs of Jesus have had all their bones broken upon the rack or wheel; wherefore, to understand these words of them might tend to create uneasiness and despondency in the minds of such who by any means have their bones broken; as if they were not righteous persons, this promise not being fulfilled in them: and to interpret this of the Lord's keeping the bones of his people in the grave, and in the resurrection putting them together again; this is no other than what will be done to the wicked; it seems therefore best to understand the whole of Christ; and it looks as if this passage was had in view as fulfilled in John 19:36; since a Scripture is referred to; but if it is interpreted of the righteous in general, it must be with a limitation; as that their bones are all kept by the Lord, and not one is broken without his knowledge and will; and that they are not broken finally, but restored again perfect and whole in the resurrection, and so will continue to all eternity: the phrase, without entering into particulars, may in general design the care of Providence over the righteous; with this compare Matthew 10:29. {m} He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.

(m) And as Christ says, all the hairs of his head.

20. As breaking the bones is a forcible metaphor for the torture of pain that racks the bodily framework (Psalm 51:8; Isaiah 38:13), or for cruel oppression (Micah 3:3), so keeping them denotes the safe preservation of the man’s whole being. See note on Psalm 6:2. This passage as well as Exodus 12:46 may have been present to the Evangelist’s mind as fulfilled in Christ (John 19:36). The promise to the righteous man found an unexpectedly literal realisation in the passion of the perfectly Righteous One.

Verse 20. - He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken. The "bones" are put for the entire frame, or body, of a man (comp. Psalm 6:2; Psalm 31:10; Psalm 32:3; Psalm 38:3; Psalm 42:10; Psalm 102:3). God "keepeth," i.e. watches over, keeps from harm, the entire persons of the righteous, letting no hurt touch them, but such as he permits and sees to be needful. In using the phrase, "not one of them is broken," the psalmist probably alludes to Exodus 12:46 and Numbers 9:12, taking the Paschal lamb as a type of innocence, and so of godliness. Psalm 34:20(Heb.: 34:17-22) The poet now recommends the fear of God, to which he has given a brief direction, by setting forth its reward in contrast with the punishment of the ungodly. The prepositions אל and בּ, in Psalm 34:16 and Psalm 34:17, are a well considered interchange of expression: the former, of gracious inclination (Psalm 33:18), the latter, of hostile intention or determining, as in Job 7:8; Jeremiah 21:10; Jeremiah 44:11, after the phrase in Leviticus 17:10. The evil doers are overwhelmed by the power of destruction that proceeds from the countenance of Jahve, which is opposed to them, until there is not the slightest trace of their earthly existence left. The subjects to Psalm 34:18 are not, according to Psalm 107:17-19, the עשׁי רע (evil doers), since the indispensable characteristic of penitence is in this instance wanting, but the צדיקים (the righteous). Probably the פ strophe stood originally before the ע strophe, just as in Lamentations 2-4 the פ precedes the ע (Hitzig). In connection with the present sequence of the thoughts, the structure of Psalm 34:18 is just like Psalm 34:6 : Clamant et Dominus audit equals si qui (quicunque) clamant. What is meant is the cry out of the depth of a soul that despairs of itself. Such crying meets with a hearing with God, and in its realisation, an answer that bears its own credentials. "The broken in heart" are those in whom the egotistical, i.e., self-loving life, which encircles its own personality, is broken at the very root; "the crushed or contrite (דּכּאי, from דּכּא, with a changeable ā, after the form אילות from איּל) in spirit" are those whom grievous experiences, leading to penitence, of the false eminence to which their proud self-consciousness has raised them, have subdued and thoroughly humbled. To all such Jahve is nigh, He preserves them from despair, He is ready to raise up in them a new life upon the ruins of the old and to cover or conceal their infinitive deficiency; and, they, on their part, being capable of receiving, and desirous of, salvation, He makes them partakers of His salvation. It is true these afflictions come upon the righteous, but Jahve rescues him out of them all, מכּלּם equals מּכּלּן (the same enallage generis as in Ruth 1:19; Ruth 4:11). He is under the most special providence, "He keepeth all his bones, not one of them (ne unum quidem) is broken" - a pictorial exemplification of the thought that God does not suffer the righteous to come to the extremity, that He does not suffer him to be severed from His almighty protecting love, nor to become the sport of the oppressors. Nevertheless we call to mind the literal fulfilment which these words of the psalmist received in the Crucified One; for the Old Testament prophecy, which is quoted in John 19:33-37, may be just as well referred to our Psalm as to Exodus 12:46. Not only the Paschal lamb, but in a comparative sense even every affliction of the righteous, is a type. Not only is the essence of the symbolism of the worship of the sanctuary realised in Jesus Christ, not only is the history of Israel and of David repeated in Him, not only does human suffering attain in connection with Him its utmost intensity, but all the promises given to the righteous are fulfilled in Him κατ ̓ ἐξοχήν; because He is the righteous One in the most absolute sense, the Holy One of God in a sense altogether unique (Isaiah 53:11; Jeremiah 23:5, Zechariah 9:9; Acts 3:14; Acts 22:14). - The righteous is always preserved from extreme peril, whereas evil (רעה) slays (מותת stronger than המית) the ungodly: evil, which he loved and cherished, becomes the executioner's power, beneath which he falls. And they that hate the righteous must pay the penalty. Of the meanings to incur guilt, to feel one's self guilty, and to undergo punishment as being guilty, אשׁם (vid., on 1 Samuel 14:13) has the last in this instance.
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