Psalms 129


The Jews give an account of the afflictions which they have

passed through, 1-3.

And thank God for their deliverance, 4.

The judgments that shall fall on the workers of iniquity, 5-8.


This Psalm was written after the captivity; and contains a

reference to the many tribulations which the Jews passed through

from their youth, i.e., the earliest part of their history, their

bondage in Egypt. It has no title in any of the Versions, nor in

the Hebrew text, except the general one of A Psalm of Degrees. The

author is uncertain.

Verse 1. Many a time have they afflicted me] The Israelites had

been generally in affliction or captivity from the earliest part

of their history, here called their youth. So Ho 2:15: "She shall

sing as in the days of her youth, when she came up out of the land

of Egypt." See Jer 2:2, and Eze 16:4, &c.

Verse 2. Yet they have not prevailed] They endeavoured to

annihilate us as a people; but God still preserves us as his own


Verse 3. The plowers plowed upon my back] It is possible that

this mode of expression may signify that the people, during their

captivity, were cruelly used by scourging, &c.; or it may be a

sort of proverbial mode of expression for the most cruel usage.

There really appears here to be a reference to a yoke, as if they

had actually been yoked to the plough, or to some kind of

carriages, and been obliged to draw like beasts of burden. In this

way St. Jerome understood the passage; and this has the more

likelihood, as in the next verse God is represented as cutting

them off from these draughts.

Verse 4. The Lord-hath cut asunder the cords of the wicked.] The

words have been applied to the sufferings of Christ; but I know

not on what authority. No such scourging could take place in his

case, as would justify the expression,-

"The ploughers made long furrows there,

Till all his body was one wound."

It is not likely that he received more than thirty-nine stripes.

The last line is an unwarranted assertion.

Verse 5. Let them all be confounded] They shall be confounded.

They who hate Zion, the Church of God, hate God himself; and all

such must be dealt with as enemies, and be utterly confounded.

Verse 6. As the grass upon the housetops] As in the east the

roofs of the houses were flat, seeds of various kinds falling upon

them would naturally vegetate, though in an imperfect way; and,

because of the want of proper nourishment, would necessarily dry

and wither away. If grass, the mower cannot make hay of it;

if corn, the reaper cannot make a sheaf of it. Let the

Babylonians be like such herbage-good for nothing, and come to


Withereth afore it groweth up] Before shalak, it is

unsheathed; i.e., before it ears, or comes to seed.

Verse 8. Neither do they which go by say] There is a reference

here to the salutations which were given and returned by the

reapers in the time of the harvest. We find that it was customary,

when the master came to them into the field, to say unto the

reapers, The Lord be with you! and for them to answer, The Lord

bless thee! Ru 2:4. Let their land become desolate, so that no

harvest shall ever more appear in it. No interchange of

benedictions between owners and reapers. This has literally taken

place: Babylon is utterly destroyed; no harvests grow near the

place where it stood.


The intent of the prophet in composing this Psalm is to comfort

the Church in affliction, and to stir her up to glorify God for

his providence over her, always for her good, and bringing her

enemies to confusion, and a sudden ruin.

It is divided into three parts:-

I. The indefatigable malice of the enemies of the Church,

Ps 129:1, 3.

II. That their malice is vain. God saves them, Ps 129:2, 4.

III. God puts into the mouth of his people what they may say to

their enemies, even when their malice is at the highest.

I. "Many a time have they afflicted me," &c. In which observe,-

1. That afflictions do attend those who will live righteously in

Christ Jesus.

2. These afflictions are many: "Many a time," &c.

3. That they begin with the Church: "From my youth." Prophets,

martyrs, &c.

4. This affliction was a heavy affliction: "The plowers plowed

upon my back," &c. They dealt unmercifully with me, as a

husbandman does with his ground.

II. But all their malice is to no purpose.

1. "Yet they have not prevailed against me." To extinguish the


2. The reason is, "The Lord is righteous." And therefore he

protects all those who are under his tuition, and punishes their


3. "The Lord is righteous," &c. Cut asunder the ropes and chains

with which they made their furrows: "He hath delivered Israel,"


III. In the following verses, to the end, the prophet, by way of

prediction, declares the vengeance God would bring upon his

enemies which has three degrees:-

1. "Let them all be confounded," &c. Fail in their hopes against


2. "Let them be as the grass," &c. That they quickly perish.

Grass on the housetops is good for nothing: "Which withereth afore

it groweth up," &c. Never is mowed, nor raked together.

3. "Neither do they which go by say, The blessing of the Lord,"

&c. No man says so much as, God speed him! as is usual to say to

workmen in harvest: but even this the enemies of the Church, and

of God's work, say not, for they wish it not.

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