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impossible to account for it on any theory, except that the titles formed part of the original Psalms, and were handed down with them from the days of David and the Kingdom. Again, the general omission of titles, more especially of those denoting authorship, in the later books tends to confirm our high, opinion of the care and scrupulousness of the original editor of the Psalter in its present form; for were they due, as the Dean of Peterborough supposes, to 'caprice,' or were they 'the fruits of conjecture, or of dimmer and more uncertain traditions, it would certainly be remarkable that this capricious editor had not exercised his ingenuity and power of guessing a little more, and given us a few additional conjectures, even if he had exhausted his stock of dim and uncertain traditions. Thus the existence of so many 'orphan Psalms' is of itself an indication that they were not prefixed carelessly and at random; and their position generally in the later books of the collection is an argument for the antiquity of the inscriptions which occur so much more frequently in the earlier ones.
Once more, an examination of the titles themselves gives us a further argument for their antiquity. Not to mention that the title prefixed to Ps. xviii. is identical in form with 2 Sam. xxii. 1, and that others refer to well-known incidents in the life of David, we find that in some cases they have preserved independent historical notices, that could not by any possibility have been mere happy conjectures of a late editor, drawn from a careful study of the Books of Samuel. Such are the following :
Ps. vii.-Shiggaion of David ; which he sang unto the LORD concerning the words of Cush the Benjamite.
Ps. xxxiv.-A Psalm of David, when he changed his behaviour before Abimelech : who drove him away, and he departed.
Ps. lx.-Michtam of David, to teach; when he strove . with Aram-naharaim and with Aram-zobah, when Joab re
1 The arguments in the text are perhaps confirmed by a reference to the use of the term. Selah,'—undoubtedly a musical direction of some kind, whatever its precise significance may be. The term occurs no less than seventy times in the course of the Psalter, but never once in an 'orphan Psalm. It is frequent in the first three books, is never found in the fourth, and only four times in the fifth, and these four times in liturgical Psalms attributed to David, viz., cxl. and cxliii. Outside the Psalter it only occurs twice-in the hymn of Habakkuk (iii.). The inference is, that Selah, like the titles, is of extreme antiquity, and belongs only to the Psalms before the Captivity, when David's arrangements for the Psalmody were still in existence.
turned, and smote of Edom in the Valley of Salt twelve thousand.
In all these cases the very difficulty and originality of the title is a strong evidence of its authentic character; and it should never be forgotten that in common fairness the titles should be trcated as a class: that they stand or fall together : that the external evidence is the same for all;/ and that therefore we are not at liberty to accept those few that seem to commend themselves to our judgment, and reject others that, so far as the evidence is concerned, stand on precisely the same footing. If we accept the statement that David sang Ps. vii. concerning the words of Cush the Benjamite, then we are bound also to believe that Ps. li. is, as it professes to be, 'a Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. The evidence for both statements is one and the same, and we have no more right to treat them differently than we should have to take two verses of the New Testament, both supported by full external evidence of MSS. and Versions, and, while we accept one of them because its contents commend themselves to our judgment, reject the other because of difficulties and apparent contradictions in it. It is, of course, perfectly possible that occasionally a 777? may have been misplaced, or carelessly written by a scribe who had already copied out several Davidic Psalms, but (as we have already seen) many of the titles consist of whole verses, and not of single words, and therefore their presence or absence must be intentional, and cannot be set down to the score of carelessness and inadvertence.
Upon the whole, then, we may set down the results of our inquiry as follows:
(1) There is no evidence that the titles are due to the caprice of a late editor, or to dim and uncertain traditions.
(2) That they have the same amount of evidence from MSS. and Versions as the rest of the Old Testament.
(3) That they were treated as an integral part of the Psalter, and so a portion of Holy Scripture as far back as we can trace the history of the text. . And the conclusion at which we arrive is this : That we have no right to apply a different method of treatment to them from that which we apply to the rest of the Old Testament: that we are not at liberty to reject them at our pleasure any more than we are to reject texts elsewhere that present difficulties or seem to involve contradictions. There seems to be no middle course : either the whole of the text of the Old Testament must be subjected to the knife of the critic, and those parts that fail to commend themselves to his judgment must be erased ; or the whole text, as presented by MSS. and Versions, must be accepted by him as that which he is to explain and interpret, but not to mutilate and disintegrate. Either course is plain and simple, but there is no position between the two. It is uncritical to accept the text of the whole Psalm when you have carefully cut out the first verse!
1 The variations in the MSS. are but trifling. The following are all that are noticed by Davidson in his Hebrew Text revised from critical sources:—Ps. xliii. is attributed to David in a few MSS.; xlvii. to David in one (Cf. LXX., Alex.); lxvi. to David in one; lxvii. to David in a few MSS. ; lxxii. omit Solomon, five MSS.; cviii. is given to Asaph, instead of David, in six MSS.; cxxii. omit David, two MSS., LXX. Targ. ; cxxiv. omit David, two MSS., LXX. ; cxxxiii. omit David, two MSS., and LXX. (Ed. Rom. insert Alex.).
The question has often been asked, and never yet answered, Why am I bound to accept the title of David's elegy in 2 Sam. i. 18? 7077 R-Sy naan? non nung 7737 793} if I am at liberty to reject that of Ps. 1x. : 148 793717 ompp2; or what right have I to refuse to excise the words of Isaiah xxxviii. 915mm mu iniņa 17an: 3 pin oņp 3 if I claim the
We repeat it; there is no iniddle course between unlimited license and the acceptance of the Psalm titles as they stand as a portion of the text of the Old Testament; and we are the more earnest in enforcing this, because it is so little recognised at the present day, and because the treatment of the subject in our modern Commentaries is eminently inadequate. Things have come to such a pass that the external
1 This should, perhaps, be rendered For the children of Israel to learn by heart. Kasheth from the book of Jasher. See the speaker's Commentary, in loc.
2 Michtam of David, to teach &c.
3 The writing of Hezekiah, the King of Judah, when he had been sick, and was recovered of his sickness.
4 Michtam of David, when Saul sent and they watched the house to kill him.
5 A Prayer of Habakkuk, the prophet upon Shigionoth. 8 A Prayer of Moses, the man of God.
evidence is barely noticed, and the critic claims in these verses a license that he dares not claim elsewhere, and demands liberty to accept or reject at his pleasure, in accordance with the dictates of what he is pleased to term “internal evidence.' And what is the character of this internal evidence of which we hear so much? Is it such that we can with any confidence commit ourselves to its guidance, discarding what all must allow to be the most ancient traditions? If so, it will surely lead all commentators to the same result. We may fairly ask for something like a consensus of interpreters before we trust ourselves to it; but this is precisely what we cannot have. We will take Ps. lxviii. as an example. The title tells us that it is by David ; a statement repeated by the Targum, LXX., Aquila, Syriac and other Versions. This we are now told carries no authority; and we are bidden to discard the tradition, and tax our ingenuity to discover a fitting occasion for this ‘Titan among Psalms,' as it has not inaptly been called. We turn to the Commentators to seek their help.
It is reckoned by some to the later (Gesenius, Ewald, Hupfeld); by others to the latest (Rudinger, Reuss, Olshausen); by others still to the most ancient monuments of Hebrew poetry (De Wette, Böttcher, Hengstenberg, Hitzig, and Delitzsch)'!.... 'It has been actually placed in the times of the Maccabees (Olshausen), especially with reference to the consecration of the Temple, 1 Macc. v. (Rudinger), in the time of the rule of the Ptolemies or the Seleucida (Reuss), in the period of the Exile, or shortly afterwards (Ewald, Köster, Hupfeld), in the time of the struggle of Josiah with the Egyptian king, Necho (Thenius), of Hezekiah with the Assyrians (Kimchi, Böttcher), of the confederate kings Jehoshaphat and Joram with Moab and Edom, 2 Kings jii. (Hitzig), and in the time of Solomon (De Wette)'!! What can we think of a method of criticism that in the hands of eleven Commentators leads to seven different results !
To show that the example given is not a solitary one, we subjoin a few more. Ps. xiv. we read in our Bibles is a Psalm of David ; but we are assured by Olshausen that it belongs to the Maccabean period, by Ewald that it was written during the Babylonish Captivity; and while Hitzig would make us believe that it comes from Jeremiah, the Dean of Peterborough tells us that there is nothing in the Psalm which can lead us to fix its date or authorship precisely.' Ps. xxvii. is also, according to the title, of Davidic authorship. This again Hitzig would persuade us is due to the fertile pen of Jeremiah, while Olshausen finds in it two Psalms, both of
1 Moll, in Lange’s Bibelwerk.
the Maccabean date. Ewald for once is in agreement with Olshausen, in so far that he sees in this two Psalms, only he would place them both in the time of the Kingdom, the first half (ver. 1-7) shortly after the reign of David, and the second (ver. 8-16) in the century before the Babylonish Captivity, and De Wette regards the whole poem as 'a general Psalm of lamentation of some Hebrew in later times. We give one more instance: Ps. xc. that ' Psalm of Eternity,' the ‘Prayer of Moses, the man of God.' This is placed by Ewald after the time of David, in the days of the Monarchy; by Köster and Maurer during the Babylonish Captivity; and by Hitzig in the age of the Maccabees! Verbum sap. To those of our readers who are tempted to try this method of fixing the date of the Psalms from internal evidence, we can only repeat the often-quoted advice to bachelors about to marry-Don't!
The examples given above sufficiently prove the uncertainty of the method now so much in vogue, and show that if it is to supersede the appeal to the historical evidence of the titles, we are to be left to the caprice of the individual critic, who constantly needs the caution of Bishop Butler, that 'suppositions are not to be looked upon as true, because not incredible,'' and the sober reminder of the same judicious writer, that 'mere guess, supposition, and possibility, when opposed to historical evidence, prove nothing, but that historical evidence is not demonstrative.'? But we would not be misunderstood. It is not meant to assert that internal evidence is of no value whatever. It has its legitimate use, only in the case of the Psalms this is reduced to a minimum (1) by the fact, that in the majority of them we have historical evidence of their dates ; and where this is the case, we have no right to proceed in disregard of it, for the office of internal evidence is to decide either in the absence of such historical testimony, or in those cases where it is insufficient or counterbalanced by opposing evidence from without: and (2) by the fact that only fragmentary accounts of Jewish history have come down to us. It is often taken for granted that the Psalms must all have been originally composed for some occasions of which we have full details in the series of historical books from Samuel to Esther; but there seems to be no reason why this should be so. Even in the life of David, which is more fully recorded than any other, there must have been countless incidents worthy of giving birth to Psalms of which no traces have been preserved, and in the
1 Analogy, pt. 1. c. iii.
• 2 Ib. pt. II. c. vii.