Psalms 129:3 MEANING

Psalm 129:3
(3) Furrows.--The Hebrew word only occurs once besides, in 1 Samuel 14:14, where the margin renders as here, furrow--a rendering which plainly there is not intelligible. "Half a furrow of an acre of land," as a space in which twenty men were killed, gives no clear idea to the mind. But Dr. J. G. Wettstein, in his excursus at the end of Delitzsch's Commentary, explains the ma'an to be the strip of ground which the ploughman takes in hand at one time, and round which consequently at the end of each furrow the plough turns. Delitzsch's "furrow-strip," therefore, more exactly reproduces the word, though here doubtless it is used with a poetic freedom and may be translated furrow. The double image, suggesting the lash given to a slave, and at the same time the actual and terrible imprints of oppression left on the country as well as the race, is as striking as poetry ever produced. It, in fact, combines two separate prophetic figures, Isaiah 1:6; Isaiah 51:23.

Verse 3. - The plowers plowed upon my back. A strong metaphor, which does not elsewhere occur. The idea is perhaps taken from the cruel treatment of captives in those days, who, in certain cases, were "put under saws and harrows of iron" (2 Samuel 12:31), or, as it is elsewhere expressed, "threshed with threshing instruments of iron" (Amos 1:3). They made long their furrows; i.e. "lengthened out their tortures."

129:1-4 The enemies of God's people have very barbarously endeavoured to wear out the saints of the Most High. But the church has been always graciously delivered. Christ has built his church upon a rock. And the Lord has many ways of disabling wicked men from doing the mischief they design against his church. The Lord is righteous in not suffering Israel to be ruined; he has promised to preserve a people to himself.The ploughers ploughed upon my back,.... "Sinners", as the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and Arabic versions, render it; such that plough iniquity, and sow wickedness, Job 4:8; which may be understood of their carrying Israel captive, when they put yokes and bonds upon their necks, as upon oxen when they plough, as Arama interprets it; or it may design the destruction of their high places, signified by the back, such as the temple, the royal palace, and houses of their nobles, burnt with fire; yea, it was predicted that Zion should be ploughed as a field, Micah 3:12; and the Jews say that Turnus Rufus, the Roman general, as they call him, did plough up Jerusalem. The Syriac version is, "they whipped" their whips or scourges; with which many of the Israelites were scourged in the times of the Maccabees, Hebrews 11:36. And the Messiah himself, who gave his back to the smiters, and was buffeted and scourged by them, Isaiah 50:6; and many of his apostles and followers, Matthew 10:17. The Targum renders it

"upon my body;''

and Aben Ezra says the phrase is expressive of contempt and humiliation, and compares with it Isaiah 51:23;

they made long their furrows; which signify afflictions, and the pain their enemies put them to, and the distress they gave them; as no affliction is joyous, but grievous, but like the rending and tearing up the earth with the plough; and also the length and duration of afflictions; such were the afflictions of Israel in Egypt and in Babylon, and of the church of God under Rome Pagan and Papal; but, as the longest furrows have an end, so have the most lasting afflictions. The Syriac version is, "they prolonged their humiliation", or "affliction"; Kimchi says the meaning is,

"they would give us no rest from servitude and bondage.''

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