Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Psalms 14:7

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

O that the salvation - Or, more literally, Who will give from Zion salvation to Israel? From Zion the deliverance must come; for God alone can deliver them; but whom will he make his instruments?

When the Lord bringeth back - For it is Jehovah alone who can do it. Jacob shall rejoice and Israel shall be glad. That is, according to Calmet, the remains of the kingdom of Israel and those of Judah, shall be rejoined, to their mutual satisfaction, and become one people, worshipping the same God; and he has endeavoured to prove, in a dissertation on the subject, that this actually took place after the return from the Babylonish captivity.

Many of the fathers have understood this verse as referring to the salvation of mankind by Jesus Christ; and so it is understood by my old MS. Psalter, as the following paraphrase will show: Qwa sal gyf of Syon hele til Israel? qwen Lord has turned a way the captyfte of his folk, glad sal Jacob, and fayne be Israel. Qwa bot Crist that ge despyse, qwen ge wit nout do his counsaile of Syon fra heven, sal gyf hele til Israel? that es, sal saf al trew cristen men, noght als ge er that lufs noght God. And qwen our Lord has turned o way the captyfte of his folk: that es, qwen he has dampned the devel, and al his Servaundes, the qwilk tourmentes gude men, and makes tham captyfs in pyne. Then glade sal Jacob; that es, al that wirstils o gayns vices and actyf: and fayne sal be Israel: that es, al that with the clene egh of thair hert, sees God in contemplatyf lyf. For Jacob es als mikil at say als, Wrestler, or suplanter of Syn. Israel es, man seand God.

Of the two chief opinions relative to the design of this Psalm:

  1. That it refers to Absalom's rebellion.
  • That it is a complaint of the captives in Babylon; I incline to the latter, as by far the most probable.
  • I have referred, in the note on Psalm 14:3, to that remarkable addition of no less than six verses, which is found here in the Vulgate, the Vatican copy of the Septuagint, the Ethiopic, and the Arabic, and also in St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, Romans 3:13-18, which he is supposed to have quoted from this Psalm as it then stood in the Hebrew text; or in the version of the Seventy, from which it has been generally thought he borrowed them. That they are not interpolations in the New Testament is evident from this, that they are not wanting in any MS. yet discovered; and they exist in all the ancient versions, the Vulgate, Syriac, Ethiopic, and Arabic. Yet it has been contended, particularly by St. Jerome, that St. Paul did not quote them from this Psalm; but, being intent on showing the corruption and misery of man, he collected from different parts several passages that bore upon the subject, and united them here, with his quotation from Psalm 14:3, as if they had all belonged to that place: and that succeeding copyists, finding them in Romans, as quoted from that Psalm, inserted them into the Septuagint, from which it was presumed they had been lost. It does not appear that they made a part of this Psalm in Origen's Hexapla. In the portions that still exist of this Psalm there is not a word of these additional verses referred to in that collection, neither here nor in the parallel Psalm 53:1-6.

    The places from which Jerome and others say St. Paul borrowed them are the following: -

      Romans 3:13; : "Their mouth is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit." Borrowed from Psalm 5:10. "The poison of asps is under their lips." From Psalm 140:3.

      Romans 3:14; : "Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness." From Psalm 10:7.

      Romans 3:15; : "Their feet are swift to shed blood." From Proverbs 1:16, or Isaiah 59:7.

      Romans 3:16-18; : "Destruction and misery are in their ways, the way of peace they have not known, and there is no fear of God before their eyes." From Isaiah 59:7, Isaiah 59:8.

    When the reader has collated all these passages in the original, he will probably feel little satisfaction relative to the probability of the hypothesis they are summoned to support.

    These verses are not found in the best copies of the Vulgate, though it appears they were in the old Itala or Antehieronymain version. They are not in the Codex Alexandrinus of the Septuagint; nor are they in either the Greek or Latin text of the Complutenstan Polyglot. They are wanting also in the Antwerp and Parisian Polyglots. They are neither in the Chaldee nor Syriac versions. They are not acknowledged as a part of this Psalm by Theodoret, Chrysostom, Euthymius, Arnobius, Apollinaris, the Greek Catena, Eusebius, of Caesarea, nor Jerome. The latter, however, acknowledges that they were in his time read in the churches. I have seen no Latin MS. without them; and they are quoted by Justin Martyr and Augustine. They are also in the Editio Princeps of the Vulgate, and in all the ancient Psalters known. They are in that Psalter which I have frequently quoted, both in the Latino - Scotico - English version and paraphrase.

    Of this version the following is a faithful copy, beginning with the third verse of the fourteenth Psalm: -

    Al tha helddid togyher; thai er made unprofytable:

    Thar es none that dos gude; thar es none til one.

    A grave opynnand, es the throte of tham.

    With thaire tunges trycherusly thai wroght

    Venym of snakes undir the lippis of tham.

    Qwhas mouth es ful of werying and bitternes:

    Swyft thaire fete to spil blode.

    Brekyng and wikednes in thair waies:

    And the way of pees thai knew noght:

    The drede of God es noght byfore the eghen of thaim.

    There is a good deal of difference between this, and that version attributed to Wiclif, as it stands in my large MS. Bible, quoted in different parts of the New Testament, particularly in 1 Corinthians 13:1, etc. I shall give it here line for line with the above.

    Alle boweden aweye to gydre: thei ben maad unprofitable:

    There is not that doith good thing, ther is not to oon.

    A Sepulcre opnyng is the throote of hem:

    With her tungis thei diden gylinly; or trecherously :

    The venym of eddris, that is clepid Aspis, under her lippis:

    The mouth of whom is ful of cursing, or worrying and bittrenesse:

    The feet of hem ben swift to schede out blood:

    Contricion or defouling to God, and infelicite or cursidnesse, the wayes of hem;

    And thei knewen not the weyes of pees;

    The dreed of God is not bifore her ygen.

    The words underlined in the above are added by the translator as explanatory of the preceding terms. It is worthy of remark that Coverdale inserts the whole of the addition in this Psalm, and Cardmarden has inserted it in his Bible, but in a letter different from the text.

    It is now time to state what has been deemed of considerable importance to the authenticity of these verses; viz., that they are found in a Hebrew MS., numbered by Kennicott in his catalogue 649. It is in the public library at Leyden; contains the Psalms with a Latin version and Scholia; and appears to have been written about the end of the fourteenth century and probably by some Christian. I shall give the text with a literal translation, as it stands in this MS., line for line with the preceding: -

    גרונם פתוח קבר

    An open sepulcher is their throat;

    יחליקיו לשונם

    With their tongues they flatter;

    לשונם תחת עכשוב חמת

    The venom of the asp is under their tongue;

    מלא ומרמה אלה פיהם אשר

    Whose mouth of cursing and bitterness is full;

    דם לשפוך רגליהם קלו

    Swift are their feet to shed blood;

    בדרכיהם רע ופגע רע מזל

    An evil aspect, and an evil event, in their ways:

    ידעו לא שלום ודרך

    And the way of peace they know not.

    עיניהם לנגר אלהים פחד אי

    No fear of God before their eyes.

    It would be easy to criticise upon the Hebrew In this long quotation. I shall content myself with what Calmet, who received his information from others that had inspected the Leyden MS., says of this addition: "Les seavans, qui ont examine ce manuscrit, y ont remarque un Hebreu barbare en cet endroit; et des facons de parler, qui ne sentent point les siecles ou la langue Hebraique etoit en usage." "Learned men, who have examined this MS., have remarked a barbarous Hebraism in this place, and modes of speech which savor not of those ages in which the Hebrew language was in use."

    If this be an interpolation in the Psalm, it is very ancient; as we have the testimony of Jerome, who was prejudiced against it, that it was read in all the churches in his time, and how long before we cannot tell. And that these verses are a valuable portion of Divine revelation, as they stand in Romans 3:13-18, none can successfully deny. See Rosenmuller, Kennicott, and De Rossi.

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    Oh that the salvation of Israel - Margin, “Who will give,” etc. The Hebrew literally is, “Who will give out of Zion salvation to Israel?” The word “Israel” refers primarily to the Hebrew people, and then it is used generally to denote the people of God. The wish here expressed is in view of the facts referred to in the previous verses - the general prevalence of iniquity and of practical atheism, and the sufferings of the people of God on that account. This state of things suggests the earnest desire that from all such evils the people of God might be delivered. The expression in the original, as in the margin, “Who will give,” is a common expression in Hebrew, and means the same as in our translation, “Oh that.” It is expressive of an earnest desire, as if the thing were in the hand of another, that he would impart that blessing or favor.

    Out of Zion - On the word “Zion,” see the note at Isaiah 1:8. It is referred to here, as it is often, as the seat or dwelling-place of God; the place from where he issued his commands, and from where he put forth his power. Thus in Psalm 3:4, “He heard me out of his holy hill.” Psalm 20:2, “the Lord … strengthen thee out of Zion.” Psalm 128:5, “the Lord shall bless thee out of Zion.” Here the phrase expresses a wish that God, who had his dwelling in Zion, would put forth his power in granting complete deliverance to his people.

    When the Lord bringeth back - literally, “In Yahweh‘s bringing back the captivity of his people.” That is, the particular salvation which the psalmist prayed for was that Yahweh would return the captivity of his people, or restore them from captivity.

    The captivity of his people - This is “language” taken from a captivity in a foreign land. It is not necessary, however, to suppose that any such literal captivity is here referred to, nor would it be necessary to infer from this that the psalm was written in the Babylonian captivity, or in any other particular exile of the Hebrew people. The truth was, that the Hebrews were often in this state (see the Book of Judges, “passim”), and this language came to be the common method of expressing any condition of oppression and trouble, or of a low state of religion in the land. Compare Job 42:10.

    Jacob shall rejoice - Another name for the Hebrew people, as descended from Jacob, Isaiah 2:3; Isaiah 41:21; Isaiah 10:21; Isaiah 14:1; Amos 7:2; et soepe. Prof. Alexander renders this, “Let Jacob exult; let Israel joy.” The idea seems to be, that such a restoration would give great joy to the people of God, and the language expresses a desire that this might soon occur - perhaps expressing the idea also that in the certainty of such an ultimate restoration, such a complete salvation, the people of God might now rejoice. Thus, too, it will not only be true that the redeemed will be happy in heaven, but they may exult even now in the prospect, the certainty, that they will obtain complete salvation.

    Cross References
    Oh, etc