Psalm 81:15
The haters of the LORD should have submitted themselves to him: but their time should have endured for ever.
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(15) Submitted.—See Note, Psalm 18:44.

Himi.e., Israel; Jehovah’s enemies being also Israel’s enemies.

Their timei.e., Israel’s. One of the sudden changes of number so frequent in Hebrew poetry. As a nation Israel would continue to live and prosper.

81:8-16 We cannot look for too little from the creature, nor too much from the Creator. We may have enough from God, if we pray for it in faith. All the wickedness of the world is owing to man's wilfulness. People are not religious, because they will not be so. God is not the Author of their sin, he leaves them to the lusts of their own hearts, and the counsels of their own heads; if they do not well, the blame must be upon themselves. The Lord is unwilling that any should perish. What enemies sinners are to themselves! It is sin that makes our troubles long, and our salvation slow. Upon the same conditions of faith and obedience, do Christians hold those spiritual and eternal good things, which the pleasant fields and fertile hills of Canaan showed forth. Christ is the Bread of life; he is the Rock of salvation, and his promises are as honey to pious minds. But those who reject him as their Lord and Master, must also lose him as their Saviour and their reward.The haters of the Lord - The enemies of the Lord, often represented as those who hate him - hatred being always in fact or in form connected with an unwillingness to submit to God. It is hatred of his law; hatred of his government; hatred of his plans; hatred of his character. See Romans 1:30; John 7:7, John 15:18, John 15:23-25. Compare Exodus 20:5.

Should have submitted themselves unto him - Margin, yielded retained obedience. Hebrew, lied. See the phrase explained in the notes at Psalm 18:44. The meaning is, that they would have been so subdued as to acknowledge his authority or supremacy, while it is, at the same time, implied that this would have been forced and not cordial. No external power, though it may so conquer as to make people outwardly obedient, can affect the will, or subdue that. The grace of God alone can do that, and it is the special triumph of grace that it can do it.

But their time - The time of his people. They would have continued to be a happy and a flourishing nation.

Should have endured for ever - Perpetually - as long as they continued to be obedient. If a nation were obedient to the will of God; if it wholly obeyed his laws; if it countenanced by statute no form of sin; if it protected no iniquity; if it were temperate, just, virtuous, honest, there is no reason why its institutions should not be perpetual, or why it should ever be overthrown. Sin is, in all cases, the cause of the ruin of nations, as it is of individuals.

13-16. Obedience would have secured all promised blessings and the subjection of foes. In this passage, "should have," "would have," &c., are better, "should" and "would" expressing God's intention at the time, that is, when they left Egypt. The haters of the Lord; all the haters and enemies of God’s people, as the neighbouring nations were; whom he calls haters of God, partly because they hated the Israelites for God’s sake, and for the singularity of their religious worship, as the heathen oft declared; and partly to show the strict league and union which was betwixt God and them, by virtue whereof God had declared all their friends and enemies to be his own, which was a great aggravation of their wickedness.

Should have submitted themselves unto him; should have professed and owned their subjection to him. For the phrase, See Poole "Psalm 18:44". Their time, i.e. Israel’s time; the relative belonging to the remoter antecedent; as it is in many other places of Scripture, whereof I have formerly given instances. By their time he means either,

1. Their happy time, as life is oft put for a happy life or State, as Psalm 34:12 49:18 Deu 4:1 5:33, &c. Or,

2. The duration of their commonwealth. Endured for ever, i.e. lasted for a very long time; whereas now their latter and doleful end is hastening towards them. The haters of the Lord should have submitted themselves unto him,.... Or, "lied unto him" (h); feignedly submitted to him, flattered him, pretended friendship to him, and entered into a league with him; either Israel, mentioned Psalm 81:13, our God, whom and whose worship and people they hated; as every natural man is an hater of God, and all that is good, and enmity itself unto him; but these shall all submit to Christ, sooner or later, in one way or another, and acknowledge him Lord, and that he is superior to them, and themselves not a match for him; as Julian the emperor when wounded, said, Thou hast overcome me, O Galilean:

but their time should have endured for ever; which Jarchi and Aben Ezra interpret of the calamities and vengeance that should come upon the haters of God, who will be punished with everlasting destruction; their worm will never die, nor their fire be quenched; it is everlasting, and the smoke of their torment will ascend for ever and ever; in which sense the word is used, Isaiah 13:22 or rather this is to be understood of the time, or happy state and condition, of the Israelites, which would have been of long continuance, had they hearkened to the Lord, and walked in his ways; particularly, they would have long enjoyed the land of Canaan, which was given to Abraham and his seed for an everlasting possession, and which they held by the tenure of their obedience, Genesis 17:8, and so all truly gracious souls, that hearken to the voice of Christ, and walk in his ways, are in a happy state, which will endure for ever; they are blessed with all spiritual blessings, and those are for ever; the heavenly land of Canaan they shall dwell in for ever; their mansions or habitations in Christ's Father's house are everlasting; their house, not made with hands, is eternal in the heavens; their estate, possession, and inheritance is an eternal one; it is incorruptible, and fades not away; their being with Christ is for ever; and their happiness is often expressed by eternal life and eternal glory.

(h) "mentientur", Montanus; "mentiti fuissent", Vatablus; "mentirentur", Musculus, Cocceius, Gejerus; "mendaciter se dedissent", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

The haters of the LORD should have submitted themselves unto him: but their time {m} should have endured for ever.

(m) If the Israelites had not broken covenant with God, he would have given them victory against their enemies.

15. The haters of Jehovah should come cringing unto him,

So that their time should be for ever.

Unto him may mean to Jehovah or to Israel; but apparently the latter. Jehovah’s enemies are the enemies of His people, and He would force them to pay homage, however reluctantly (Psalm 66:3 note), to Israel; that so Israel’s time of prosperity might know no end, the nation’s life never fail.Verse 15. - The haters of the Lord. Israel's enemies are always spoken of as God's enemies also (comp. Psalm 3:2, 7; Psalm 9:3; Psalm 68:1; Psalm 79:6, 7, etc.). They "hate" Jehovah (Psalm 21:8; Psalm 83:2), not merely as Israel's Protecter, but as the Source of all good, whereas they delight in evil. Should have submitted themselves unto him; rather, should submit themselves, or "should yield feigned obedience" (Authorized Version, margin). But their time (i.e. Israel's time) should have endured forever; rather, should endure. It is a gentle but profoundly earnest festival discourse which God the Redeemer addresses to His redeemed people. It begins, as one would expect in a Passover speech, with a reference to the סבלות of Egypt (Exodus 1:11-14; Exodus 5:4; Exodus 6:6.), and to the duwd, the task-basket for the transport of the clay and of the bricks (Exodus 1:14; Exodus 5:7.).

(Note: In the Papyrus Leydensis i. 346 the Israelites are called the "Aperiu (עברים), who dragged along the stones for the great watch-tower of the city of Rameses," and in the Pap. Leyd. i. 349, according to Lauth, the "Aperiu, who dragged along the stones for the storehouse of the city of Rameses.")

Out of such distress did He free the poor people who cried for deliverance (Exodus 2:23-25); He answered them בּסתר רעם, i.e., not (according to Psalm 22:22; Isaiah 32:2): affording them protection against the storm, but (according to Psalm 18:12; Psalm 77:17.): out of the thunder-clouds in which He at the same time revealed and veiled Himself, casting down the enemies of Israel with His lightnings, which is intended to refer pre-eminently to the passage through the Red Sea (vid., Psalm 77:19); and He proved them (אבחנך, with ŏ contracted from ō, cf. on Job 35:6) at the waters of Merbah, viz., whether they would trust Him further on after such glorious tokens of His power and loving-kindness. The name "Waters of Merı̂bah," which properly is borne only by Merı̂bath Kadesh, the place of the giving of water in the fortieth year (Numbers 20:13; Numbers 27:14; Deuteronomy 32:51; Deuteronomy 33:8), is here transferred to the place of the giving of water in the first year, which was named Massah u-Merı̂bah (Exodus 17:7), as the remembrances of these two miracles, which took place under similar circumstances, in general blend together (vid., on Psalm 95:8.). It is not now said that Israel did not act in response to the expectation of God, who had son wondrously verified Himself; the music, as Seal imports, here rises, and makes a long and forcible pause in what is being said. What now follows further, are, as the further progress of Psalm 81:12 shows, the words of God addressed to the Israel of the desert, which at the same time with its faithfulness are brought to the remembrance of the Israel of the present. העיד בּ, as in Psalm 50:7; Deuteronomy 8:19, to bear testimony that concerns him against any one. אם (according to the sense, o si, as in Psalm 95:7, which is in many ways akin to this Psalm) properly opens a searching question which wishes that the thing asked may come about (whether thou wilt indeed give me a willing hearing?!). In Psalm 81:10 the key-note of the revelation of the Law from Sinai is struck: the fundamental command which opens the decalogue demanded fidelity to Jahve and forbade idol-worship as the sin of sins. אל זר is an idol in opposition to the God of Israel as the true God; and אל נכר, a strange god in opposition to the true God as the God of Israel. To this one God Israel ought to yield itself all the more undividedly and heartily as it was more manifestly indebted entirely to Him, who in His condescension had chosen it, and in His wonder-working might had redeemed it (המּעלך, part. Hiph. with the eh elided, like הפּדך, Deuteronomy 13:6, and אכלך, from כּלּה, Exodus 33:3); and how easy this submission ought to have been to it, since He desired nothing in return for the rich abundance of His good gifts, which satisfy and quicken body and soul, but only a wide-opened mouth, i.e., a believing longing, hungering for mercy and eager for salvation (Psalm 119:131)!

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