This psalm, which is plainly an expression of thankfulness for recovery from a dangerous, and nearly fatal, sickness, does not in a single line or word bear out the title, which suggests either the dedication of the site of the future temple (2 Samuel 24; 1 Chronicles 21) or of the citadel on Zion (2 Samuel 5:11), or of the rededication of the palace profaned by Absalom. On the other hand, the fact that the psalm is, in the Jewish ritual, used at the Feast of Dedication, the origin of which is to be found in 1 Maccabees 4:52 seq., suggests that the title may have been appended after the institution of that feast, in order to give an historical basis for the use of the psalm. The reason of its choice we must look for in the feelings produced by the first successes in the war of independence. After the sad period of humiliation and persecution, the nation felt as the writer of this psalm felt—as if saved from the brink of the grave. Thus the psalm is in application national, though in origin and form individual. Who the author was, it is vain to conjecture; the tone and even the language suggest Hezekiah or Jeremiah. (See Notes.) The parallelism is not strongly marked.
That I should not go down to the pit.—This follows a reading which is considered by modern scholars ungrammatical. The ordinary reading, rightly kept by the LXX. and Vulg., means from these going down to the pit, i.e., from the dead. (Comp. Psalm 28:1.)
And give thanks.—Better, and sing praises to his holy name. (See margin.) Possibly Exodus 3:15 was in the poet’s mind. (Comp. Psalm 97:12.)
“For a moment (is) in his anger,
Life in his favour;
In the evening comes to lodge weeping,
But at morning a shout of joy.”
Some supply comes to lodge with the last clause, but the image is complete and finer without. It is thoroughly Oriental. Sorrow is the wayfarer who comes to the tent for a night’s lodging, but the metaphor of his taking his leave in the morning is not carried on, and we have instead the sudden waking with a cry of joy, sudden as the Eastern dawn, without twilight or preparation. Never was faith in the Divine love more beautifully expressed. (Comp. Isaiah 54:7-8.)
I shall never be moved.—Better, I shall never waver.
Thou didst . . .—The fluctuation of feeling is well shown by the rapid succession of clauses without any connecting conjunctions.