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An instructive Psalm of Asaph.
That the Word was given to the sons of Jacob, and confirmed by miracles, verses 1 to 7; but that their fathers and their sons receded, not living according to the same, verses 8 to 10; and that neither did the miracles in the wilderness do any thing, all which implied how the lord teaches and leads those whom he calls to his church, which miracles are recited, verses 11 to 31; that by reason of the miracles they were indeed converted, but only in word, and not from the heart, verses 32 to 37; that the lord pardoned them, verses 38 to 40; that they were again as it were converted, from the remembrance of the miracles in Egypt, which all implies a removal and dissipation of the hells from them, which are recited, verses 41 to 51; that thus the lord led them even to the land in which the church was, verses 52 to 55; that nevertheless they turned away, and worshipped another god, verses 56 to 58; that therefore they were left by the lord, and delivered up to their falses and evils, by their own choice, verses 59 to 64; and thus rejected, verses 65 to 67; that therefore a new church was established, which might worship the lord, and which the lord might teach, verses 68 to 72.
Verse 5. For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to make known to their sons. By Jacob and Israel is signified the church,—by Jacob the external church, and by Israel the internal church; by testimony also, and by the law, is signified the Word; by testimony, what there teaches the goods of life, and by law, what there teaches the truths of doctrine; inasmuch as they who are in the external church are in the good of life according to the truths of doctrine; and as they who are in the internal church, are in the truths of doctrine according to which the life is formed, therefore it is said of Jacob that it is a testimony, and of Israel that it is a law. AE 392.
Verse 8. And not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation which set not their heart right, and whose spirit was not steadfast with god. Inasmuch as heart signifies good, and spirit truth, both received in the life, therefore heart in the opposite sense signifies evil, and spirit, what is false; for, in many parts of the Word, as in the above passage, they have also an opposite sense; the heart and spirit are predicated according to this sense in the following passages in David: "A generation which set not their heart right, nor is their spirit steadfast with god," Psalm 78:8; and in Ezekiel, "Every heart shall melt, and every spirit shall be contracted," Ezekiel 21:13; and in Moses, "jehovah has aggravated the spirit of the king of Hesh-bon, and has hardened his heart," Deut 10:30; and in Isaiah, "Conceive chaff, bring forth stubble, fire shall devour your spirit," Isaiah 33:11; and in Ezekiel, "Woe to the foolish prophets who go away after their own spirit," Ezekiel 13:3; again, "That which ascends upon your spirit shall never come to pass," 20:32. From these considerations it is evident, that the whole life of man is understood by heart and spirit, and inasmuch as his whole life has reference to these two principles, namely, to good and truth, and, in a spiritual sense, to love and faith, therefore, by heart, and spirit, those two lives of man are understood; hence also it is that the heart and spirit signify the will and understanding of man, inasmuch as these two faculties with man constitute all his life, for man has no life but in those faculties, the reason is because the will is the receptacle of good and its love, or of evil and its love, and the understanding is the receptacle of truth and its faith, or of the false and its faith, and, as has been said, all things with man have reference to good and truth, or to evil and the false, and in a spiritual sense to love and faith, as may he seen in the "Doctrine of the New Jerusalem," NJHD 28 to 25. The ground and reason why by spirit, when predicated of man, is signified truth or the false, and his life from one or the other is because by spirit is properly understood the spirit which is in man, and thinks, and it thinks either from truths or from falses; but, as was said above, there are two things which constitute the life of man,— the understanding and the will; the life of the understanding is to think from truths or falses, and the life of the will is to affect or inflame with love those things which the understanding thinks. These two lives of man correspond to the two lives of his body, which are the life of the respiration of the lungs, and the life of the pulse of the heart; by this correspondence the spirit is united to the body with man, as may be seen above, AE 167, and in the work concerning "Heaven and Hell," HH 446, 447; for as much as there is such a correspondence, therefore spirit is so called from wind, as well in the original as in many other languages, wherefore, also to expire, is expressed by emitting the spirit., and this also in the Word; thus in David, "I have gathered their spirit, it has expired," Psalm 104:29. AE 183.
Verses 9, 10. The sons of Ephraim, who were armed shooters with the bow, who turned back in the day of battle; they kept not the covenant of god. By Ephraim is here signified as a bow, the understanding of truth, and by his sons the truths themselves, wherefore also they are called shooters with the bow, that is, combatants against evils and falses; in this case that they did not resist them, because not conjoined with the lord, is signified by their turning back in the day of battle, because they kept not the covenant of God; covenant is conjunction, and not to keep it, is not to live according to the truths and goods which conjoin. AE 357.
Verses 15, 16. He cleft the rocks in the wilderness, and made them drink as out of great depths; for he brought streams out of the rocks, and caused waters to run down like rivers. Rock denotes the lord, and waters, rivers, and depths thence denote truth derived from him. AC 2702.
In this passage depths denote waters in store; and waters in store denote the truths of faith in abundance; to make them to drink great depths out of the rock denotes the truths of faith without deficiency. AC 8278.
Verses 26, 27. He caused an east wind to blow in the heavens, and by his power he brought in the south wind; he rained flesh also upon them as dust, and feathered bird as the sand of the sea. That by the east wind are signified those things which are of lusts and phantasies thence derived, is manifest from the passages in the Word, where it is named; that by the flesh, which that wind brought, are signified cravings, and by the feathered bird the phantasies thence derived, is manifest from the Book of Moses, Numb 11:31 to 35, where it is written that the name of the place, where the people were smitten with the plague by reason of their eating flesh, was called the graves of cravings, because there they buried the people that lusted. AC 5215.
Verse 39. For he remembered that they were flesh, a breath that passes away and comes not again. Speaking of the people in the wilderness desiring flesh, that they were corporeal; who, by desiring flesh, represented that they only desired corporeal things, Numb 11:32, 33, 34. AC 574.
In the Word, the spirit is opposed to the flesh, since by the spirit is signified life from the lord, and by the flesh life from man, as in John, "It is the spirit which vivifies, the flesh profits nothing;" John 6:63; hence it is manifest, that spirit denotes life from the lord, which is the life of love and of faith to him from him, and that flesh denotes life from man, thus his proprium; hence it is said that the flesh profits nothing. AC 10283.
Verse 43. When he worked his signs in Egypt, his wonders in the field of Zoan. Signs and miracles are frequently mentioned in the Word; and by a sign is understood, that which indicates, witnesses, and persuades, concerning the subject of enquiry, but by miracle is understood that which excites, strikes, and induces astonishment; thus a sign moves the understanding and faith, and a miracle the will and its affection, for the will and its affection is what is excited, struck, and amazed, and the understanding and its faith is what is persuaded, indicated to, and for which testification is made. That there is such a difference between a sign and a miracle, may appear from this consideration, that the Jews, although they saw so many miracles performed by the lord, still asked of him signs; and also from this, that the prodigies performed in Egypt and in the wilderness are sometimes called signs and sometimes miracles, and also sometimes both; and moreover it is manifest from this consideration, that in every part of the Word there is a marriage of truth and good, consequently also of the understanding and will, for truth appertains to the understanding and good to the will, and hence also signs have reference to the things which are of truth, thus which are of faith and the understanding, and miracles to the things which are of good, thus which are of affection and the will: hence then it is evident, what is specifically understood by signs, and what by miracles, where-they are both mentioned in the Word; as in the following passages. Thus in Moses; "I will harden the heart of Pharaoh, that I may multiply my signs and my miracles in the land of Egypt," Exod 7:3; again, "jehovah gave signs and miracles great and evil in Egypt, in Pharaoh, and in every man of his," Deut 6:22; from these passages it is evident, that the prodigies performed in Egypt, and afterwards with the sons of Israel, are called signs and miracles, signs because they testified and persuaded, and miracles because they excited and induced astonishment; they agree, however, in this, that the things which excite and induce astonishment also testify and persuade, as those things which excite the will also persuade the understanding, or as those things which move the affection also move the thought by persuasion. AE 706.
Verses 45, 46. When he sent divers sorts of flies among them, which devoured them, and frogs which destroyed them; when he gave their increase to the caterpillar, and their labour to the locust. It is to be noted, that flying things in the Word, all signify intellectual things, and thence truths, and in the opposite sense falses; but the flying things of the lowest sort, which are insects, signify truths, and in the opposite sense falses, which are more ignoble and obscure, as those are which are proper to the sensual principle, for those, unless they be illustrated by interior things, are altogether in obscurity and darkness, being next to the body, and thence near to terrestrial things. AC 7441.
Verses 45, 46. When he sent divers sorts of flies among them, which devoured them, and frogs which destroyed them; when he gave their increase to the caterpillar, and their labour to the locust. Inasmuch as by locust is there signified the sensual principle, as what is false and evil, or what is the same thing, what is false and evil in the sensual man, therefore this is here signified by locust. AE 543.
Verses 47, 48, 49. When he destroyed their vines with hail, and their sycamore trees with great hail stones; when he gave up their cattle to the hail storm, and their flocks to the lightnings; when he cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation and trouble, by sending evil angels among them. Hail denotes the vastation of truth and good by falses derived from evil. AC 7553.
In this passage, by anger, wrath, and indignation, are meant punishments and damnation, into which man casteth himself, when into evils, for it is of divine order that goods have with them recompense, and hence it is that evils have with them punishments. AC 6997.
Verses 47, 48, 49. He destroyed their vines, etc. Inasmuch as hail signifies the false destroying the truths of the church, it is therefore said, he destroyed their vine with hail, and their sycamores with great hail-stones, for by vine is signified the spiritual truth of the church, and by sycamore, its natural truth; and inasmuch as by lightnings, is signified the love of evil, and its ardour for destroying the goods of the church, it is therefore said, he delivered up their cattle to the hail storm, and their flocks to the lightnings, cattle and flock signifying the evil affections or cupidities arising from evil love, and lightnings, the cupidity and ardour of destroying; by sending evil angels, is signified the false of evil from hell. AE 503.
Verse 51. When he smote all the first-born of Egypt, the beginning of strength in the tents of Ham. That Ham signifies the church corrupted, that is, those who make faith separate from charity the principle of religion, appears from David, "He smote all the first-born in Egypt, the beginning of strength in the tents of Ham:" Psalm 78:51: by the first-born of Egypt was represented faith without charity; that faith is called the first-born of the church, may be seen above, AC 352, 367; and that faith is thence called the beginning of strength, as here in David, may be seen in Genesis 49:3, where, speaking of Reuben, who, as the first-born of Jacob, representing faith, is called the beginning of strength; the tents of Ham signify worship thence derived: that tents signify worship may be seen above, AC 414, hence Egypt is called the land of Ham, Psalm 105:23, 27. Psalm 106:22. Such as were called Ham in the ancient church, inasmuch as they lived in the indulgence of all evil lusts, and made a talk of salvation by faith without respect to their lives, appeared to the ancients to be black, by reason of the heat of their lusts, whence they were called Ham. Hence it is that Ham is called the father of Canaan, because such are little concerned how a man lives, provided he only frequents the ordinances of the church, for they still insist on the expediency of some kind of worship, but then they use only what is external, rejecting that which is internal, and what is grounded solely in charity; hence Ham is called the father of Canaan. AC 1063.
Verse 55. He cast out the nations before them, and divided them an inheritance by line, and made the tribes of Israel to dwell in their tents. Lines in the Word also signify portions of inheritance and of land, inasmuch as by lines were made measurements. AC 9854.
Verse 60. Therefore he forsook the habitation of Shiloh; the tent in which he dwelt amongst men. Where tent signifies the same as temple, in which god is said to dwell, when present with man in love; hence man, who lived in holy worship, was by the ancients called a tent, and afterwards a temple. AC 1102.
Verses 60, 61. Therefore he forsook the habitation of Shiloh; the tent in which he dwelt amongst men: and delivered his strength into captivity; and his beauty into the hands of the enemy. By the habitation of Shiloh is signified the church which is principled in the good of love, and by the tent is signified the church which is principled in the truths of doctrine; hence it is evident what is signified by god forsaking the habitation of Shiloh, the tent in which he dwelt amongst men, namely that the goods of love and truths of doctrine were destroyed; by the strength which he delivered into captivity, is signified spiritual truth derived from celestial good, and by captivity, seclusion from the understanding thereof, and so destruction by falses; and by the beauty which he delivered into the hand of the enemy, is signified natural truth from spiritual, this being signified by beauty, and the destruction thereof by evils being signified by delivering it into the hand of the enemy. AE 811.
Verses 62, 63, 64. He gave up his people to the sword, and was wrath with his inheritance. The fire consumed his young men, and his maidservants were not given in marriage. His priests fell by the sword, and his widows made no lamentations. These words also relate to the devastation of the church by falses and evils; he gave up his people to the sword, and was wrath with his inheritance, signifies that the church perished by falses and evils; the sword signifies the destruction of truth by falses; a fire consumed his young men, signifies that self-love, and the pride of self-intelligence, destroyed the understanding of truth; the maidservants not being given in marriage, signifies that the affections of truth perished by the want of the understanding of truth; the priests fell by the sword, signifies that the goods of the church, which are the goods of work, of charity, and of life, were destroyed by falses. AE 863.
Verses 67, 68, 69. Moreover he refused the tabernacle of Joseph; and chose not the tribe of Ephraim; but chose the tribe of Judah, the mount Sion which he loves; and he built his sanctuary like high places, like the earth which he has established for ever. From these and many other passages it may be manifest what is signified in the Word by Judah, and that thereby is not meant the Jewish nation, inasmuch as this was very far from being a celestial church, but the worst of all nations in regard to love to the lord; but that such persons were still capable of representing the celestial and spiritual things of the lord's kingdom, may be seen AC 3479, 3480, and 3481; since in representations the person is not reflected upon, but only the thing which is represented. When, however, they did not remain in the rituals ordained by jehovah, but turned away from them to idolatry, they then no longer represented celestial and spiritual things, but things opposite, according to the lord's words in John, "You are of your father the devil, at the desire of your father you are willing to do;" John 8:44. AC 3881.
Verses 70, 71, 72. He chose also David his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds; from following the ewes giving suck, he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance; who fed them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands.
That to feed signifies to instruct may appear without further exposition, inasmuch as it is a custom derived from the Word to call those who teach, pastors, and those who are instructed, the flock; but the reason of this is not yet known, and therefore it shall be explained: in heaven, all things which appear before the eyes are representative, for they represent, under a natural appearance, the spiritual things which the angels think and with which they are affected, thus their thoughts and affections are presented before their eyes in forms such as are in the world, or in similar forms of natural things, and this by virtue of the correspondence, which is established by the lord between spiritual things and natural, concerning which we have treated in many places, particularly in the work concerning "Heaven and Hell", HH 87 to 102, and HH 133 to 115. It is from this correspondence that there appear in heaven flocks of sheep, lambs, and goats, feeding in green pastures, and also in gardens, which appearances exist from the thoughts of those who are in the goods and truths of the church, and who think thence intelligently and wisely; hence then it is, that in the Word mention is so often made of flock, also of pastures, of feeding, and of a pastor or shepherd; for the Word in the letter consists of such things as appear to the sight in heaven, by which are signified correspondent spiritual things. Inasmuch as it is known in the church that to feed signifies to instruct, pasture, instruction, and a pastor or shepherd, an instructor, we will only adduce a few places from the Word where these expressions are used, without further explication: thus in Isaiah; "In that day shall your flock feed in a broad meadow;" Is 30:23; again, "As a shepherd he shall feed his flock, he shall gather the lambs into his arms, he shall gently lead those that give suck;" Is 40:11; again, "He shall say to the bound, go forth, to them that are in darkness, be discovered; they shall feed upon the ways, and their pasture shall be in all high places;" Is 49:9. AE 482.PSALMS 78 Other translations - previous - next - meaning - Psalms - BM Home - Full Page