Psalm 85:3
You have taken away all your wrath: you have turned yourself from the fierceness of your anger.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
85:1-7 The sense of present afflictions should not do away the remembrance of former mercies. The favour of God is the fountain of happiness to nations, as well as to particular persons. When God forgives sin, he covers it; and when he covers the sin of his people, he covers it all. See what the pardon of sin is. In compassion to us, when Christ our Intercessor has stood before thee, thou hast turned away thine anger. When we are reconciled to God, then, and not till then, we may expect the comfort of his being reconciled to us. He shows mercy to those to whom he grants salvation; for salvation is of mere mercy. The Lord's people may expect sharp and tedious afflictions when they commit sin; but when they return to him with humble prayer, he will make them again to rejoice in him.Thou hast taken away all thy wrath - That is, formerly; on the occasion referred to. Thou didst so deal with thy people as to make it evident that thou didst cherish no anger or displeasure against them.

Thou hast turned thyself ... - Margin, "thine anger from waxing hot." Literally, Thou didst turn from the heat of thine anger. His indignation was withdrawn, and he was again at peace with them. It is this fact, drawn from the former history of the people, which constitutes the basis of the appeal which follows.

3. To turn from the "fierceness," implies that He was reconcilable, though All thy wrath; those calamities which were the effects of thy just wrath conceived against us. Thou hast taken away all thy wrath,.... Or "gathered" (n) it; sin occasions wrath, and the people of God are as deserving of it as others; but the Lord has gathered it up, and poured it forth upon his Son, and their surety; hence nothing of this kind shall ever fall upon them, either here or hereafter; and it is taken away from them, so as to have no sense, apprehension, or conscience of it, which before the law had wrought in them, when pardon is applied unto them, which is what is here meant; see Isaiah 12:1,

thou hast turned thyself from the fierceness of thine anger; the anger of God is very fierce against sin and sinners; it is poured forth like fire, and there is no abiding it; but, with respect to the Lord's people, it is pacified by the death of his Son; or he is pacified towards them for all that they have done, for the sake of his righteousness and sacrifice; and which appears to them when he manifests his love and pardoning grace to their souls; see Ezekiel 16:63.

(n) "collegisti", Montanus, Gejerus, Michaelis.

Thou hast taken away all thy wrath: thou hast turned thyself from the {c} fierceness of thine anger.

(c) Not only in withdrawing your rod, but in forgiving sins, and in touching our hearts to confess them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. Thou hast taken away] Lit. withdrawn, or drawn in, the wrath which was let loose against us.

from the fierceness of thine anger] Poured out upon Israel for its sin. See Jeremiah 30:24; Lamentations 1:12; Lamentations 4:11. Cp. Exodus 32:12.Verse 3. - Thou hast taken away all thy wrath. Forgiveness of sins implies the cessation of wrath, though it does not necessarily imply the cessation of punishment. Thou hast turned thyself from the fierceness of thine anger. This expresses the meaning better than the marginal rendering. This second half takes up the "blessed" of the distichic epode (epoodo's) of the first, and consequently joins member to member chain-like on to it. Many hindrances must be cleared away if the poet is to get back to Zion, his true home; but his longing carries the surety within itself of its fulfilment: blessed, yea in himself blessed, is the man, who has his strength (עוז only here plene) in God, so that, consequently, the strength of Him to whom all things are possible is mighty in his weakness. What is said in Psalm 84:6 is less adapted to be the object of the being called blessed than the result of that blessed relationship to God. What follows shows that the "high-roads" are not to be understood according to Isaiah 40:3., or any other passage, as an ethical, notional figure (Venema, Hengstenberg, Hitzig, and others), but according to Isaiah 33:8 (cf. Jeremiah 31:21), with Aben-Ezra, Vatablus, and the majority of expositors, of the roads leading towards Zion; not, however, as referring to the return from the Exile, but to the going up to a festival: the pilgrim-high-roads with their separate halting-places (stations) were constantly present to the mind of such persons. And though they may be driven never so far away from them, they will nevertheless reach the goal of their longing. The most gloomy present becomes bright to them: passing through even a terrible wilderness, they turn it (ישׁיתהו) into a place of springs, their joyous hope and the infinite beauty of the goal, which is worth any amount of toil and trouble, afford them enlivening comfort, refreshing strengthening in the midst of the arid steppe. עמק הבּכא does not signify the "Valley of weeping," as Hupfeld at last renders it (lxx κοιλάδα τοῦ κλαυθμῶνος), although Burckhardt found a [Arab.] wâdı̂ 'l-bk' (Valley of weeping) in the neighbourhood of Sinai. In Hebrew "weeping" is בּכי, בּכה, בּכוּת, not בּכא, Rnan, in the fourth chapter of his Vie de Jsus, understands the expression to mean the last station of those who journey from northern Palestine on this side of the Jordan towards Jerusalem, viz., Ain el-Haramı̂je, in a narrow and gloomy valley where a black stream of water flows out of the rocks in which graves are dug, so that consequently עמק הככא signifies Valley of tears or of trickling waters. But such trickling out of the rock is also called בּכי, Job 28:11, and not בּכא. This latter is the singular to בּכאים in 2 Samuel 5:24 (cf. נכאים, צבאים, Psalm 103:21), the name of a tree, and, according to the old Jewish lexicographers, of the mulberry-tree (Talmudic תּוּת, Arab. tût); but according to the designation, of a tree from which some kind of fluid flows, and such a tree is the Arab. baka'un, resembling the balsam-tree, which is very common in the arid valley of Mecca, and therefore might also have given its name to some arid valley of the Holy Land (vid., Winer's Realwrterbuch, s.v. Bacha), and, according to 2 Samuel 5:22-25, to one belonging, as it would appear, to the line of valley which leads from the coasts of the Philistines to Jerusalem. What is spoken of in passages like Isaiah 35:7; Isaiah 41:18, as being wrought by the omnipotence of God, who brings His people home to Zion, appears here as the result of the power of faith in those who, keeping the same end of their journeyings in view, pass through the unfruitful sterile valley. That other side, however, also does not remain unexpressed. Not only does their faith bring forth water out of the sand and rock of the desert, but God also on His part lovingly anticipates their love, and rewardingly anticipates their faithfulness: a gentle rain, like that which refreshes the sown fields in the autumn, descends from above and enwraps it (viz., the Valley of Baca) in a fulness of blessing (יעטּה, Hiphil with two accusatives, of which one is to be supplied: cf. on the figure, Psalm 65:14). The arid steppe becomes resplendent with a flowery festive garment (Isaiah 35:1.), not to outward appearance, but to them spiritually, in a manner none the less true and real. And whereas under ordinary circumstances the strength of the traveller diminishes in proportion as he has traversed more and more of his toilsome road, with them it is the very reverse; they go from strength to strength (cf. on the expression, Jeremiah 9:2; Jeremiah 12:2), i.e., they receive strength for strength (cf. on the subject-matter, Isaiah 40:31; John 1:16), and that an ever increasing strength, the nearer they come to the desired goal, which also they cannot fail to reach. The pilgrim-band (this is the subject to יראה), going on from strength to (אל) strength, at last reaches, attains to (אל instead of the אל־פּני used in other instances) Elohim in Zion. Having reached this final goal, the pilgrim-band pours forth its heart in the language of prayer such as we have in Psalm 84:9, and the music here strikes up and blends its sympathetic tones with this converse of the church with its God.

The poet, however, who in spirit accompanies them on their pilgrimage, is now all the more painfully conscious of being at the present time far removed from this goal, and in the next strophe prays for relief. He calls God מגנּנוּ (as in Psalm 59:12), for without His protection David's cause is lost. May He then behold (ראה, used just as absolutely as in 2 Chronicles 24:22, cf. Lamentations 3:50), and look upon the face of His anointed, which looks up to Him out of the depth of its reproach. The position of the words shows that מגנּנוּ is not to be regarded as the object to ראה, according to Psalm 89:19 (cf. Psalm 47:10) and in opposition to the accentuation, for why should it not then have been אלהים ראה מגננו? The confirmation (Psalm 84:11) puts the fact that we have before us a Psalm belonging to the time of David's persecution by Absalom beyond all doubt. Manifestly, when his king prevails, the poet will at the same time (cf. David's language, 2 Samuel 15:25) be restored to the sanctuary. A single day of his life in the courts of God is accounted by him as better than a thousand other days (מאלף with Olewejored and preceded by Rebia parvum). He would rather lie down on the threshold (concerning the significance of this הסתּופף in the mouth of a Korahite, vid., supra, p. 311) in the house of his God than dwell within in the tents of ungodliness (not "palaces," as one might have expected, if the house of God had at that time been a palace). For how worthless is the pleasure and concealment to be had there, when compared with the salvation and protection which Jahve Elohim affords to His saints! This is the only instance in which God is directly called a sun (שׁמשׁ) in the sacred writings (cf. Sir. 42:16). He is called a shield as protecting those who flee to Him and rendering them inaccessible to their foes, and a sun as the Being who dwells in an unapproachable light, which, going forth from Him in love towards men, is particularized as חן and כבוד, as the gentle and overpowering light of the grace and glory (χάρις and δόξα) of the Father of Lights. The highest good is self-communicative (communicativum sui). The God of salvation does not refuse any good thing to those who walk בּתמים (בּדרך תמים, Psalm 101:6; cf. on Psalm 15:2). Upon all receptive ones, i.e., all those who are desirous and capable of receiving His blessings, He freely bestows them out of the abundance of His good things. Strophe and anti-strophe are doubled in this second half of the song. The epode closely resembles that which follows the first half. And this closing ashrê is not followed by any Sela. The music is hushed. The song dies away with an iambic cadence into a waiting expectant stillness.

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