The suggestion contained in the last addition made to the Hebrew inscription by the LXX. “Of Haggai and Zechariah,” brings this psalm within the post-exile period, the most likely time of its composition. The tone and tenor are what we should look for if Zerubbabel or Nehemiah were its author. Some great success had evidently just been gained (Psalm 138:1-5); but trouble still pressed on the community for whom the poet speaks—some work of pressing need was impeded, and Jehovah’s strong hand could alone bring it to completion. This would suit the times of Ezra and Nehemiah.
On the other hand, the achievement already performed may have been of a military kind, and the psalm may breathe the hopes of the Maccabæan period. The poetical form is nearly regular and the rhythm stately, as suits the subject.
Sing praise.—Rather, play.
For thou hast magnified—i.e., the promise made for help and deliverance has been fulfilled, and more than fulfilled. The psalmist often speaks of Jehovah’s name, or reputation, or honour being at stake. Here the poet can say that the praise won is even beyond what might have been expected. It is true this would have been expressed more in accordance with our expectation by “Thou hast magnified Thy Name above Thy promise;” but comp. Psalm 48:10 for a similar thought, and for the language comp. Tennyson’s:
“I am “become a name.”
The LXX. and Vulg. felt the difficulty too great, and render “Thy holy one,” instead of “Thy word.”
In my soul.—Or, at my desire.
For ways used of God’s mighty works in creation see Job 26:14; Job 40:19; of His action in history, Psalm 18:30; Deuteronomy 32:4. It seems against the parallelism to understand literally that the heathen kings would come to walk in God’s ways—i.e., in righteousness, and so praise Him, as in Micah 4:2. The meaning is that heathen monarchs will be compelled to acknowledge the glory of Jehovah.
Against the wrath.—Or perhaps, upon the wrath.
Forsake not.—Better, the works of Thine hands; do not leave them unfinished. (See for the same verb Nehemiah 6:3; Proverbs 4:13 : “let her not go.”)
The special intention of the prayer depends on the origin of the psalm. If it arose out of the troubles of rebuilding Jerusalem and reconstituting the state, it is intelligible and expressive. Or the reference may be to all Jehovah’s gracious intentions for Israel.