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A Psalm of Asaph.

  1. Truly god is good to Israel,—to the pure in heart.
  2. But as for me, my feet were almost gone, my steps had all but slipped;
  3. When I was envious against the proud, and saw the peace of the wicked.
  4. For there are no bands until death, but their strength is firm.
  5. They are not in trouble as other men, neither are they plagued like other men.
  6. Therefore pride encompass them as a chain; violence covers them as an ornament.
  7. Their eyes stand out with fatness; the imaginations of their heart exceed all bounds.
  8. They scoff and speak evil; they speak proudly of oppression.
  9. They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue wanders through the earth.
  10. Therefore his people is turned here, and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them.
  11. Whence they say, how does god know, or is there knowledge in the most high?
  12. Behold, these are the ungodly; and being prosperous in the world they multiply riches.
  13. Truly then I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocence.
  14. For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.
  15. If I should say, I will speak as they, behold, I should act treacherously against the generation of your sons.
  16. Therefore I thought to know this, but it was painful in mine eyes.
  17. Until I went into the sanctuary of god, understood I their end.
  18. Surely, you do set them in slippery places; you do cast them down into destruction.
  19. How are they brought suddenly into desolation! They are utterly consumed with terrors.
  20. As a dream when one awakes, O lord, when you arisest you will despise their shadowy image.
  21. For my heart was embittered, and I was pricked in my reins.
  22. But I was foolish and ignorant; I was as a beast before you.
  23. But I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.
  24. You guide me in your counsel, and afterwards receive me in glory.
  25. Whom have I in the heavens but you? And there is none on earth that I desire besides you.
  26. My flesh and my heart are consumed; god is the rock of my heart and my portion for ever.
  27. For lo! they that are far from you shall perish; you will destroy all them that go a whoring from you.
  28. But it is good for me to draw near to god; I put my trust in the lord jehovih, to declare all your works.

The Internal Sense

It is wonderful to some that the wicked glory and prosper, verses 1 to 9; that the good thereby are seduced, thinking that goodness is of no avail, nor affliction, verses 10 to 14; but afterwards it is given them to know that the wicked are nevertheless vastated and consumed, verses 15 to 20, 27; that this they know not, verses 21, 22; but that the good are always supported and live with God, verses 23 to 26, 28.


Verses 13, 14. Truly I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocence; for all the day long have I been plagued and chastened every morning. To wash the hands in innocence is to testify that the person is innocent and pure from evils and falses; for washing the hands was also a testification of innocence, as may be manifest from this consideration, that Pilate washed his hands and said, I am innocent of the blood of this just one. Matt 27:24. AE 475.

To render the heart pure is to be purified interiorly; and to wash the hands in innocence is exteriorly. AC 10296.

Verse 21. My heart was embittered, and I was pricked in my reins; but I was foolish and ignorant. By these words is described the infestation of good by evil, and of what is true by what is false. AE 167.

Verses 22, 23, 24. I was foolish and ignorant, but I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand; you guide me by your counsel, and afterwards receive me in glory. Since by the right hand, when spoken of man, is signified the wisdom which is from the divine truth, therefore it is said, I am foolish and ignorant, you guide me by your counsel, and afterwards receive me in glory; to guide in counsel is by divine truth; and to receive in glory is to bless with intelligence; for glory, when spoken of the lord, signifies divine truth and divine wisdom; but when of man, it signifies the intelligence thence derived. AE 298.

Verse 26. My flesh. For the signification of flesh, see Psalm 16:9, Exposition.

Verse 27. You will destroy all them that go a whoring from you. That to commit whoredom, in the spiritual sense, signifies to imbue falses, as also to falsify truths, appears from several passages in the Word; the like was signified by the whoredoms of the sons of Israel with the daughters of Moab; for all the historicals in the Word involve and signify spiritual things, as may appear from the explication of Genesis and Exodus, which are called arcana coelestia; and inasmuch as the sons of Israel eating of things sacrificed to idols, and their whoredoms with the daughters of Moab, involved also such things; for what they signify, they also involve; therefore it was commanded that the heads of the people should be hung up to jehovah before the sun, and therefore Phineas the son of Eleazer thrust through a man of Israel and a Midianitish woman in a brothel, on account of which he was also blessed; and therefore also there were slain of Israel twenty and four thousand, as may be seen, Numb 25:1 to the end: such punishments and such plagues could by no means have been commanded solely on account of their eating of the idolatrous sacrifices, and committing whoredom with the women of another nation, unless they had involved wicked outrages against heaven and the church, which do not appear in the literal sense of the Word, but only in its spiritual sense; those wicked outrages which were involved, were, that they profaned at the same time the goods and truths of the church, which, as has been said above, was the appropriation of evil and the false.

That adulteries and whoredoms involve such things, appears from very many passages in the Word, where they are related; from which it is manifest, that by them are signified the adulterations of good, and the falsifications of truth, as in Ezekiel: "Jerusalem, you have confided in your beauty, and have played the harlot because of your fame, so that you have poured out your whoredoms upon all that passed by. You have committed whoredom with the sons of Egypt, your neighbours, great in flesh, and have multiplied your whoredom: you have committed whoredom with the sons of Ashur, when there was no satiety to you, with whom you committed whoredom: you have multiplied your whoredom even to Chaldea, the land of merchandize: an adulterous woman has received strangers under her own husband. All others give reward to their harlots, but you have given rewards to all your lovers, and have rewarded them, that they may come to you on every side in your whoredoms. Wherefore, O harlot! hear the word of jehovah," Ezekiel 16:15, 26, 28, 29, 32, 33, 35, and following verses. Who cannot see, that by whoredoms here mentioned are not understood whoredoms in a common natural sense?

For the church is here treated of, in which all the truths of the Word are falsified; these things are what are understood by whoredoms, for whoredoms in a spiritual sense, or spiritual whoredoms, are no other than falsifications of truth: Jerusalem, in the above passage, is the church; the sons of Egypt, with whom she committed whoredom, are scientifics and knowledges of every kind, applied in a sinister manner to confirm falses; the sons of Ashur, are fallacious reasonings thence derived; Chaldea, the land of merchandize, is the profanation of truth; the rewards which she gave to her lovers, are the vendings of falses; and from the adulteration of good by the falsification of truth, that church is called a woman adulterous under her own husband: again, "Two women, the daughters of one mother, have committed whoredom in Egypt; in their youth they committed whoredom; one committed whoredom under me, and chose for lovers the Assyrians her neighbours; she gave her whoredoms upon them, nevertheless she has not deserted her whoredoms in Egypt. The other has corrupted her love more than she, and her whoredoms above the whoredoms of her sister: she added to her whoredoms; she loved the Chaldeans; the sons of Babel came to her to the connection of loves, and polluted her by their whoredoms," Ez 23:2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 11, 14, 16, 17, and following verses. That by whoredoms are likewise here understood spiritual whoredoms, is evident from singular the things which are mentioned; two women, the daughters of one mother, are two churches, the Israelitish and the Jewish; their whoredoms with the Egyptians, the Assyrians, and Chaldeans, signify similar things to what were explained above; the connection of loves with the sons of Babel, is the profanation of good. Again, in Jeremiah, "You have committed whoredom with many companions, you have profaned the land with your whoredoms, and your wickedness: have you seen what averted Israel has done? she has gone away upon every high mountain, and under every green tree, and there have you committed whoredom: perfidious Judah also has gone away, and committed whoredoms, so that by the voice of her whoredom she has profaned the land; she has committed adultery with stone and with wood," Jer 3:2, 6, 8, 9; Israel is the church which is in truth, Judah is the church which is in good, for they represented these two churches; the falsifications of truth are signified by the whoredoms of Israel, and the adulterations of good by the whoredoms of Judah; to go away into every high mountain, and under every green tree, and commit whoredom, is to enquire into all the knowledges of good and truth, even from the Word, and to falsify them; to commit adultery with stone and wood, is to pervert and profane all truth and good: stone signifies truth, and wood signifies good. Again, "Run you to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and seek in the broad ways thereof, if you can find a man [vir], if there be any that does judgement that seeks the truth: when I fed them to the full they committed whoredom, and came by troops to the house of the harlot," Jer 5:1, 7; to run to and fro through the streets, and to seek in the broad ways of Jerusalem, is to see and explore in the doctrinals of that church; for Jerusalem is the church, and streets and broad ways are doctrinals; if you can find a man, if there be any that does judgement, that seeks the truth, denotes whether there be any truth in the church; when I fed them to the full, they committed whoredom, denotes, that when truths were revealed to them, they falsified them; such a church as to doctrine is the house of a harlot, into which they come by troops. Again, "Yours adulteries, your neighings, the lewdness of your whoredom, your abominations upon the hills in the field, have I seen: Woe to you, O Jerusalem! you will not be made clean," Jer 13:27: neighings denote profanations of truth, because a horse signifies the intellectual [principle] whore truth is; the hills in the field are the goods of truth in the church, which are perverted. Again, "In the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen an horrible obstinacy, in adulterating, and going in a lie," Jer 23:14. Again, "They have done foolishness in Israel, and have committed adultery with the wives of their companions, and have spoken my Word in my name as liars," Jer 29:23; to adulterate and to commit adultery, here manifestly denote to pervert truths; the prophets signify those who teach truths from the Word; for it is said, in adulterating, and going in a lie, and they have spoken my Word as liars: a lie in the Word signifies the false. Again in Moses, "Your sons were feeding in the desert forty years; and they carried about their whoredoms even till their bodies were consumed in the desert," Numb 14:33: that the sons of Israel were not consumed in the desert because they carried about their whoredoms, but because they rejected celestial truths, appears from this circumstance, that this was said to them because they were not willing to enter into the land of Canaan is signified heaven and the church, with its truths; and by Egypt are signified those things falsified, and turned into magic.

Again, in Micah, "All the graven images thereof shall be beaten to pieces, and all the rewards of whoredom shall be burnt in the fire; and all the idols thereof will I lay waste, for she has gathered them from the hire of the harlot, therefore to the hire of the harlot they shall return," Micah 1:7: graven images and idols signify falses, which are from man's own intelligence; the hire of a harlot, denotes the knowledges of truth and good, which they applied to falses and evils, and thus perverted. And in Hosea, "jehovah spoke to the prophet, take to you a woman of whoredoms and children of whoredoms, because the land has committed great whoredom in departing from jehovah," Hos 1:2; hereby was represented what was the quality of the church, namely, that it was wholly in falses. Again, "They have sinned against me, their glory will I turn into shame; they committed whoredom, because they have quite forsaken jehovah, whoredom, wine, and new wine, occupied the heart: your daughters commit whoredoms, and your daughters in law commit adultery," Hos 4:7, 10, 11. Whoredom, wine, and new wine are falsified truths. Whoredom is the falsification itself, wine is the interior false principle, new wine is the exterior false principle; the daughters who commit whoredom are goods of truth perverted; the daughters in law who commit adultery are evils conjoined with falses thence derived. Again in Isaiah, "It shall come to pass at the end of seventy years jehovah shall visit Tyre, and she shall return to her meretricious hire; she shall commit whoredom with all the kings of the earth upon the faces of the world; at length her merchandise shall be holy to jehovah," Is 23:17, 18. Tyre in the Word is the church as to knowledges of truth and good; the meretricious hire denotes the same knowledges applied to evils and falses by perversion; her merchandize is the selling thereof; to commit whoredom with all the kings of the earth, denotes with all and singular the truths of the church; the reason why it is said, that her merchandize and the meretricious hire shall at length be holy to jehovah, is because thereby are signified knowledges of truth and good by them applied to falses and evils, and man, by the knowledges themselves, viewed in their true nature and quality, may become wise, for knowledges are the means of being wise, and they are also the means of becoming insane, when they are falsified by applications to evils and falses; similar is what is signified where it is said that they should make to themselves friends of the unjust mammon, Luke 16:9; and by its being commanded that the sons of Israel should borrow from the Egyptians gold, silver and clothing, and take them away with them, Exod 3:22; 12:35, 36; for by the Egyptians are signified scientifics of every kind, which they applied to falsify truths. AE 141.

The Translator's Notes and Observations

Verse 5. They are not in trouble as a man; neither are they plagued like a man. It may be proper to inform the reader, that the two terms here rendered man, are expressed in the original Hebrew by distinct terms, the one having more respect to the voluntary faculty, and the other to the intellectual faculty; thus, that trouble has reference to the former, and plague to the latter.

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