Psalms 144:12 MEANING

Psalm 144:12
(12) That our sons.--This rendering of the relative, which so strangely begins this fragment, would be possible after Genesis 11:7; Genesis 13:16, &c, if a finite verb instead of participles followed; or it might mean "because," as in Genesis 30:18, &c, but for the same anomalous construction; or it might, as by the LXX., be rendered whose, if any antecedent for it could be discovered. But all these devices are plainly impossible, and there is nothing for it but to treat the passage which it introduces as a fragment of another poem quite unconnected with the previous part of the psalm. Render, we whose.

As plants.--The Hebrew word seems always to denote a young, vigorous tree lately planted. (See especially Job 14:9, aptly translated by the LXX. ????????. (For the comparison, comp. Isaiah 5:7; Psalm 1:3, Note, Psalm 128:3.)

Grown up in their youth.--The form here used is peculiar, but in another conjugation the verb is frequently used of bringing up children (see 2 Kings 10:6; Isaiah 1:2; Isaiah 23:4, &c.). as it is of the rain nourishing young plants (Isaiah 44:14). Here the poet must mean grown tall beyond their age, or the figure is somewhat tame. A suggestion to read, "reproductive in their youth," i.e., though young themselves, bringing up families, improves the poetry, and suits well the intention of this fragment of song and the general feeling of the Hebrew race. Comp. especially Psalm 127:4, "sons of youth" (Burgess).

Corner stones.--The word only occurs once besides, in Zechariah 9:15, where it is used of the corners of the altar. The derivation is from a root meaning to conceal, as is also the word rendered garners, in the next verse. Aquila and Symmachus, "angles."

Polished.--The Hebrew word means to hew, used, with one exception, of wood for fuel, but is cognate with a word used of stones, and in Isaiah 51:1 in the passive participle of a cave hewn in a rock. The exception is Proverbs 7:16, where the word is applied to tapestry.

After the similitude of a palace--i.e., like a large and stately building. There seems no reason to confine the reference to the Temple, as the LXX. and Vulg. do, though the absence of the article is not insuperably against this (Isaiah 44:28).

The explanations usually given of this passage make the resemblance to be either to caryatides carved at the angles of a palace, or to carved or variegated wood pillars in the corners of a spacious room. For the former there seems to be no authority in Scripture or known Hebrew usage. The latter has the support of Dr. J. G. Wetzstein, but seems far-fetched. It is far more according to Hebrew feeling to render the words simply, like hewn angles, the building of a palace; an image suggestive, like that of "the wall" in Song of Solomon 8:9 (see Note), of unassailable chastity and virtue. Perhaps the phrase "women of strength or of a strong fortification," in Ruth 3:11, may imply the same figure. Gratz alters to "daughters of a palace."

Verse 12. - That our sons may be as plants. The stanza which these words introduce is a very remarkable one, having nothing at all corresponding to it in the rest of the Psalter. It has been thought by some to be an antique document, quoted by the writer of the psalm, as suited for a festal occasion. Our translation makes it a picture of the condition to which the writer hopes that Israel may one day come; but the best recent critics see in it a description of Israel's actual condition in the writer's day. Professor Cheyne translates, "Because our sons are as plants;" and Dr. Kay, "What time our sons are as plants." Grown up in their youth; literally, grown large. The sons are compared to ornamental trees or shrubs, growing outside a building. That our daughters may be as cornerstones, polished (or, "carved") after the similitude of a palace. The daughters are like carved pillars, lighting up the angular recesses of the structure.

144:9-15 Fresh favours call for fresh returns of thanks; we must praise God for the mercies we hope for by his promise, as well as those we have received by his providence. To be saved from the hurtful sword, or from wasting sickness, without deliverance from the dominion of sin and the wrath to come, is but a small advantage. The public prosperity David desired for his people, is stated. It adds much to the comfort and happiness of parents in this world, to see their children likely to do well. To see them as plants, not as weeds, not as thorns; to see them as plants growing, not withered and blasted; to see them likely to bring forth fruit unto God in their day; to see them in their youth growing strong in the Spirit. Plenty is to be desired, that we may be thankful to God, generous to our friends, and charitable to the poor; otherwise, what profit is it to have our garners full? Also, uninterrupted peace. War brings abundance of mischiefs, whether it be to attack others or to defend ourselves. And in proportion as we do not adhere to the worship and service of God, we cease to be a happy people. The subjects of the Saviour, the Son of David, share the blessings of his authority and victories, and are happy because they have the Lord for their God.That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth,.... The Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Ethiopic, Syriac, and Arabic versions, read, "whose sons are as plants", &c. as if this and what follows were a description of the families, estates, substance, and outward happiness of wicked men, the enemies of David, the strange children he desired to be delivered from, agreeably to Job 21:7; and if the word "saying", or "who say", be supplied, as by some (o), and connected with "that our sons are", &c. they may express the vain boastings of these men, and explain what is meant by the vanity their mouth spake; as well as furnish out another reason for the repetition of the above requests, namely, for the sake of introducing those vain boasts to which the happiness of good men is opposed, who have an interest in God as their God, Psalm 144:15; but we with other versions take them to be a petition of the psalmist; that as he would deliver him personally out of the hands of his enemies, so he would bless his subjects with all prosperity and happiness in their families and estates; like a good prince concerned for the real welfare of his people, and wishes that their sons might be as plants, young, tender, well nursed, and taken care of, that were healthful, thriving, flourishing, and promising much fruit; so they might he of healthful constitutions, well educated in all useful knowledge, natural and religious, and grow both in wisdom and stature, and appear to be of promising parts for usefulness in the church and state; and especially that they might be the plants of the Lord, pleasant ones to him, and profitable to others; be planted in Christ, and in his house, and grow in grace and in the knowledge of him, and grow up to him their bead in all things. The Targum is,

"that our sons may be as plants of the dactyles (or palm trees, Psalm 92:12), nourished up in the doctrine of the law from their youth;''

see Psalm 128:3;

that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace; or "temple"; tall, beautiful, and in good proportion; children have their name in Hebrew from a word which signifies to "build" (p), because by them families are built up, Ruth 4:11; and by marriage divers families are connected together, so that they are as corner stones to them; thus Plautus (q) speaks of children as a building, and parents as the fabricators of them; laying the foundation of them, raising them up and polishing them, and sparing no cost to make them useful to the commonwealth: or "as corner pillars" (r), which support the house and continue in it; so they guide the house, take care of the affairs of it, and be keepers at home, 1 Timothy 5:14; and like such as are in temples or in kings' palaces, finely graved and beautifully polished, be adorned with grace and good works, particularly with modesty, meekness, and humility, 1 Thessalonians 2:9; and grow up into an holy temple in the Lord, being parts of the spiritual building, and being laid on the foundation, of which Jesus Christ is the corner stone. The Targum is,

"our daughters splendid and fit for the priests that minister in the midst of the temple.''

The Syriac version,

"their daughters as spouses adorned like temples.''

(o) So Schmidt. (p) "aedificavit, unde" & "filii et filiae". (q) Mostellaria, Acts 1. Sc. 2.((r) "sicut angulares lapides, aut columnae", Michaelis.

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