Rebuke the company of spearmen - קנה חית chaiyath kaneh, the wild beast of the reed - the crocodile or hippopotamus, the emblem of Pharaoh and the Egyptians; thus all the Versions. Our translators have mistaken the meaning; but they have put the true sense in the margin.
Rebuke the company of spearmen - Margin, “the beasts of the reeds.” This is in the form of a prayer - “Rebuke;” but the idea is, that this “would” occur; and the meaning of the whole verse, though there is much difficulty in interpreting the particular expressions, is, that the most formidable enemies of the people of God, represented here by wild beasts, would be subdued, and would be made to show their submission by bringing presents - by “pieces of silver,” or, with tribute. Thus the idea corresponds with that in the previous verse, that “kings would bring presents.” The rendering in the margin here expresses the meaning of the Hebrew. It “might” perhaps be possible to make out from the Hebrew the sense in our common translation, but it is not the “obvious” meaning, and would not accord so well with the scope of the passage. On the word rendered “company,” which primarily means an animal, see the notes at Psalm 68:10.
It is applied to an army as being formidable, or terrible, “like” a wild beast. The word rendered “spearmen” - קנה qâneh - means “a reed” or “cane;” “calamus.” Compare the notes at Isaiah 42:3; notes at Isaiah 36:6. This phrase, “the beast of the reeds,” would properly denote a wild beast, as living among the reeds or canes that sprang up on the banks of a river, and having his home there. It would thus, perhaps, most naturally suggest the crocodile, but it might also be applicable to a lion or other wild beast that had its dwelling in the jungles or bushes on the banks of a river. Compare Jeremiah 49:19; Jeremiah 50:44. The comparison here would, therefore, denote any powerful and fierce monarch or people that might be compared with such a fierce beast. There is no particular allusion to Egypt, as being the abode of the crocodile, but the reference is more general, and the language would imply that fierce and savage people - kings who might be compared with wild beasts that had their homes in the deep and inaccessible thickets - would come bending with the tribute money, with pieces of silver, in token of their subjection to God.
The multitude of the bulls - Fierce and warlike kings, who might be compared with bulls. See the notes at Psalm 22:12.
With the calves of the people - That is, the nations that might be compared with the calves of such wild herds - fierce, savage, powerful. Their leaders might be compared with the bulls; the people - the multitudes - were like the wild and lawless herd of young ones that accompanied them. The general idea is, that the most wild and savage nations would come and acknowledge their subjection to God, and would express that subjection by an appropriate offering.
Till every one submit himself with pieces of silver - The word here rendered “submit” means properly to tread with the feet, to trample upon; and then, in the form used here, to let oneself be trampled under feet, to prostrate oneself; to humble oneself. Here it means that they would come and submissively offer silver as a tribute. That is, they would acknowledge the authority of God, and become subject to him.
Scatter thou the people that delight in war - Margin, “He scattereth.” The margin expresses the sense most accurately. The reference is to God. The psalmist sees the work already accomplished. In anticipation of the victory of God over his foes, he sees them already discomfited and put to flight. The mighty hosts which had been arrayed against the people of God are dissipated and driven asunder; or, in other words, a complete victory is obtained. The people that “delighted in war” were those that had a pleasure in arraying themselves against the people of God - the enemies that had sought their overthrow.