Psalm 83:14
As the fire burns a wood, and as the flame sets the mountains on fire;
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(14, 15) These verses are rightly taken together. The figure occurs in Isaiah 10:17-18 (comp. Zechariah 12:6), but there as a metaphor; here as a simile. “Before the rains came the whole mountain side was in a blaze. Thorns and briars grow so luxuriantly here that they must be burned off always before the plough can operate. The peasants watch for a high wind, and then the fire catches easily, and spreads with great rapidity” (Thomson, Land and Book, p. 341). The mountains are pre-eminently the pastures. (Comp. Psalm 50:10; Psalm 147:8.)

83:9-18 All who oppose the kingdom of Christ may here read their doom. God is the same still that ever he was; the same to his people, and the same against his and their enemies. God would make their enemies like a wheel; unsettled in all their counsels and resolves. Not only let them be driven away as stubble, but burnt as stubble. And this will be the end of wicked men. Let them be made to fear thy name, and perhaps that will bring them to seek thy name. We should desire no confusion to our enemies and persecutors but what may forward their conversion. The stormy tempest of Divine vengeance will overtake them, unless they repent and seek the pardoning mercy of their offended Lord. God's triumphs over his enemies, clearly prove that he is, according to his name JEHOVAH, an almighty Being, who has all power and perfection in himself. May we fear his wrath, and yield ourselves to be his willing servants. And let us seek deliverance by the destruction of our fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.As the fire burneth a wood ... - The same idea is here presented under another form. No image of desolation is more fearful than that of fire raging in a forest; or of fire on the mountains. As trees and shrubs and grass fall before such a flame, so the prayer is, that they who had combined against the people of God might be swept away by his just displeasure. 14, 15. Pursue them to an utter destruction. The mountains; understand by a metonymy the woods or forests upon the mountains, which in those hot countries, when they had once taken fire, either by lightning, or by the design of men, or by any accident, did burn with great speed and irresistible violence. As the fire burneth the wood,.... Or "forest" (m); which is sometimes done purposely, and sometimes through carelessness, as Virgil (n) observes; and which is done very easily and swiftly, when fire is set to it; even all the trees of it, great and small, to which an army is sometimes compared, Isaiah 10:18, and as the flame setteth the mountains on fire; either the mountains themselves, as Etna, Vesuvius, and others; or rather the grass and trees that grow upon them, smitten by lightning from heaven, which may be meant by the flame: in like manner it is wished that the fire and flame of divine wrath would consume the confederate enemies of Israel, above mentioned; as wicked men are but as trees of the forest, and the grass of the mountains, or as thorns and briers, to the wrath of God, which is poured out as fire, and is signified by everlasting burnings.

(m) "sylvam", Montanus, Tigurine version, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, &c. (n) Georgic. l. 2. v. 310.

As the fire burneth a wood, and as the flame setteth the mountains on fire;
14, 15. As fire that consumeth a forest,

And as flame that burneth up mountains;

So shalt thou pursue them with thy tempest,

And dismay them with thy hurricane.

God’s wrath is a fiery blast which at once kindles and fans the flame (Isaiah 29:6; Isaiah 30:27; Isaiah 30:30; Isaiah 30:33), and pursues and consumes His enemies like a fire in the forest or on the mountains. “Before the rains came,” says Thomson (Land and Book, p. 341), “this whole mountain side was in a blaze. Thorns and briars grow so luxuriantly here that they must be burned off always before the plough can operate. The peasants watch for a high wind, and then the fire catches easily, and spreads with great rapidity.” Cp. Isaiah 10:16-19; Jeremiah 21:14.Verse 14. - As the fire burneth a wood, and as the flame setteth the mountains on fire. Cause them, i.e., to consume away and perish, as a burning forest, or as blazing brushwood on a mountainside. Instead of לב אחד, 1 Chronicles 12:38, it is deliberant corde unâ, inasmuch as יחדּו on the one hand gives intensity to the reciprocal signification of the verb, and on the other lends the adjectival notion to לב. Of the confederate peoples the chronicler (2 Chronicles 20) mentions the Moabites, the Ammonites, the inhabitants of Mount Ser, and the Me(unim, instead of which Josephus, Antiq. ix. 1. 2, says: a great body of Arabians. This crowd of peoples comes from the other side of the Dead Sea, מאדם (as it is to be read in Psalm 83:2 in the chronicler instead of מארם, cf. on Psalm 60:2); the territory of Edom, which is mentioned first by the poet, was therefore the rendezvous. The tents of Edom and of the Ishmaelites are (cf. Arab. ahl, people) the people themselves who live in tents. Moreover, too, the poet ranges the hostile nations according to their geographical position. The seven first named from Edom to Amalek, which still existed at the time of the psalmist (for the final destruction of the Amalekites by the Simeonites, 1 Chronicles 4:42., falls at an indeterminate period prior to the Exile), are those out of the regions east and south-east of the Dead Sea. According to Genesis 25:18, the Ishmaelites had spread from Higz through the peninsula of Sinai beyond the eastern and southern deserts as far up as the countries under the dominion of Assyria. The Hagarenes dwelt in tents from the Persian Gulf as far as the east of Gilead (1 Chronicles 5:10) towards the Euphrates. גּבל, Arab. jbâl, is the name of the people inhabiting the mountains situated in the south of the Dead Sea, that is to say, the northern Seritish mountains. Both Gebl and also, as it appears, the Amalek intended here according to Genesis 36:12 (cf. Josephus, Antiq. ii. 1. 2: Ἀμαληκῖτις, a part of Idumaea), belong to the wide circuit of Edom. Then follow the Philistines and Phoenicians, the two nations of the coast of the Mediterranean, which also appear in Amos 1:1-15 (cf. Joel 3) as making common cause with the Edomites against Israel. Finally Asshur, the nation of the distant north-east, here not as yet appearing as a principal power, but strengthening (vid., concerning זרוע, an arm equals assistance, succour, Gesenius, Thesaurus, p. 433b) the sons of Lot, i.e., the Moabites and Ammonites, with whom the enterprise started, and forming a powerful reserve for them. The music bursts forth angrily at the close of this enumeration, and imprecations discharge themselves in the following strophe.
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