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noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.” Ezra iii, 12, 13.
The voice of gladness and the spirit of thanksgiving, however, prevailed, and the Levites and priests proceeded with the religious ceremonies and festivities of the occasion. Mournfully pleasant, the music of the Levitical choristers came swelling forth over the vast concourse. They were celebrating a triumph in the midst of ruins and of sad reminiscences. There, where the magnificent temple of Solomon once stood, where Jehovah was once worshipped by adoring thousands, there, amid the fragments of its demolished, forsaken altars, the very birds had nestled their young.
“Yea the sparrow hath found a house, And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young,
Even thine altars, O Lord of hosts.”—Psalm lxxxiv, 3. The happy days of Israel, too, arose to mind : days wherein the devout pilgrims, thrice in the year, came to “ Zion to appear before God.” Then were they happy. Then were the courts of the Lord “ amiable.” The returned exiles had come to Jerusalem as pilgrims. Their road had not lain through fertile valleys and along embowered vineyards, but through " the valley of Baca,” that is, “ of weeping." Yet he is blessed, who, by whatever path, or through whatever obstacles, makes his way as a devout pilgrim to Zion, there to worship at the shrine of the living God.
They could now say
“O the blessings of the man whose strength is in thee!
Psalmn lxxxiv, 5–7: Noyes' translation.
Such was the feeling of the returning exiles. Such were the deep breathings of their hearts for the restoration of the national worship, while, in the spirit of their pious forefathers, they again prepare to resume the temple worship. Read Ezra üi, 8-13.
ON LAYING THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE SECOND TEMPLE.
The Psalmist longeth for the communion of the sanctuary, 1, 2; he lamenteth the former desolations of the altar, 3; shoroeth how happy are those Levites who dwell in the Lord's house, 4, and those pious pilgrims who come to Jerusalem to worship, 5-7; and prayeth to be restored to such privileges, 8–12.
T To the chief Musician upon Gittith, [i, e., upon the harp of Gath, or in the
Gathic style.] A Psalm for the sons of Korah.
1 How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts ! 2 My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of
the LORD; My heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. 3 Yea, the sparrow hath found a house, And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay
Even thine altars, O LORD of hosts,
Blessed are they that dwell in thy house!
In whose heart are the ways of them ! 6 Who passing through the valley 'of Baca make it a
well; The rain also 'filleth the pools. 7 They go 'from strength to strength, Every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.
O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer;
"Or, of mulberry trees
make him a well, &c.
2 Heb. covereth.
3 Or, from company to
company. Prov. 4. 18.' 2 Cor. 8. 18.
10 For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand.
*I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God,
Than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. 11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
The LORD will give grace and glory;
From them that walk uprightly. 12 O Lord of hosts,
Blessed is the man that trusteth in thee!
4 Heb. I would choose rather to sit at the threshold.
c Isa. 60. 19.
ON LAYING THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE SECOND TEMPLE.
The Psalmist exhorteth to praise God, 1-4; to observe his great works, 5–7; to bless
him for his gracious benefits, 8-11; he voweth for himself religious services to God, 12–15; he declareth God's special goodness to himself, 16–20.
T To the chief Musician. A Song or Psalm.
Sing forth the honour of his name;
mies submit themselves unto thee. 4 All the earth shall worship thee, And shall sing unto thee; they shall sing to thy
name. Selah! Come and see the works of God; He is terrible in his doing toward the children of men. 6 He a turned the sea into dry land; They went through the flood on foot; There did we rejoice in him.
Heb. all the earth.
a Exod. 14. 21.
7 He ruleth by his power
forever; His eyes behold the nations; Let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah!
O bless our God, ye people, And make the voice of his praise to be heard; 9 Which 'holdeth our soul in life,
And suffereth not our feet to be moved! 10 For C thou, O God, hast proved us;
Thou hast tried us, as silver is tried. 11 Thon e broughtest us into the net;
Thou laidst affliction upon our loins.
We went through fire and through water;
I will go into thy house with burnt-offerings;
And my mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble. 15 I will offer unto thee burnt-sacrifices of 'fatlings, with
the incense of rams; I will offer bullocks with goats. Selah!
Come and hear, all ye that fear God, And I will declare what he hath done for my soul. 17 I cried unto him with my mouth,
And he was extolled with my tongue. 18 If I regard iniquity in my heart,
The LORD will not hear me; 19 But verily God hath heard me,
He hath attended to the voice of my prayer. 20 Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my
prayer, Nor his mercy from me!
3 Heb. putteth.
1 Isa. 61. 23.
* Heb. opened
Isa 1. 15. John 9. 81. James 4. 8.
INTRODUCTION TO PSALMS CXXIX AND CXXV.
When the captive Jews returned from Babylon, with the large immunities conferred on them by the royal edict of Cyrus, the favour in which they were held by the Persian monarch, and the extraordinary national benefits they were receiving, naturally excited the envy of the petty nations of Syria and Palestine. It must be remembered that all these nations, equally with the Jews, had suffered from the successive wars of the Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian conquerors, but they were not now, equally with the Jews, restored to their ancient privileges. This circumstance awakened in them a sinister opposition to the Jewish colony, which retarded their work for many years, and sometimes perilled their lives.
Among these opposers none were so bitter and so persevering as the Samaritans. To understand the origin of this people, and the ground of their hostility, we must turn back a little in the history of the Hebrew people. When Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, had completed the overthrow of the kingdom of Israel, by the taking of the city of Samaria, he transported the ten tribes into exile, and scattered them through the provinces of Assyria, Armenia, and Media, and colonized barbarian idolaters from those regions in their stead. 2 Kings xvii. Sennacherib succeeded Shalmaneser, and Esar-haddon, Sennacherib's son, succeeded his father. Isaiah xxxvii, 37–38. It was this Esar-haddon, called also Asnapper, who completed the transportation of the ten tribes, and brought in a more ample supply of barbarians from abroad, to occupy the soil of Israel. Ezra iv, 2, 9, 10. These long Assyrian wars, and the heavy deportations of the captive Israelites, so depopulated the country, that the wild beasts came down from the adjacent mountains of Lebanon and Hermon, and so overspread the land as to peril the lives of the barbarian colonists. Believing that the increase and havoc of these ferocious animals were a judgment sent upon them by the tutelar god of the land, in consequence of their ignorance of his worship, they sent to the Assyrian king desiring him to send them some person to teach