For my write-up today about Psalm 129, I'll post the Psalm in the King James Version (which is in the public domain), then I will transcribe my thoughts that I wrote in my notes, along with some parenthetical elaboration on my part.
1. A Song of degrees. Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth, may Israel now say:
2 Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth: yet they have not prevailed against me.
3 The plowers plowed upon my back: they made long their furrows.
4 The LORD is righteous: he hath cut asunder the cords of the wicked.
5 Let them all be confounded and turned back that hate Zion.
6 Let them be as the grass upon the housetops, which withereth afore it groweth up:
7 Wherewith the mower filleth not his hand; nor he that bindeth sheaves his bosom.
8 Neither do they which go by say, The blessing of the LORD be upon you: we bless you in the name of the LORD.
ramblings: v 2 says that they have attacked "me" from my youth, yet
they did not prevail. (The reason that I put "me" in quotation marks is
that Psalm 129 uses the first-person singular, yet it is probably about
foreign oppression of Israel rather than of a single individual, as v 5
seems to indicate. Sigmund Mowinckel says that this sort of thing
occurs often in the Psalms: a person speaks for the nation.) What does
the enemies not prevailing mean? W.O.E. Oesterley mentions Israel's national
independence, and yet vv 3-4 say that Israel's back has been plowed, and
that the wicked are binding "me" with cords. And yet, God has cut
those cords, and so, in a sense, notwithstanding their successes, the
enemies of Israel have not prevailed, at least not ultimately.
the Psalmist wishes for more: divine vengeance on the enemies, the ones
who hate Zion. He wants for them to experience shame, fruitlessness,
withering, and loneliness----as no one passing them by blesses them in
the name of the LORD. Why would these foreign enemies want to
be blessed in the name of the LORD, however, when the LORD is not even
their God? Maybe, by this point, the foreign enemies recognize the
power of Israel's God.
How could v 6 liken the foreign enemies to grass that dies before growing up, when these foreign enemies of Israel had
grown up, in the sense of being powerful and established nations? The
idea, at least in part, may be that there is a limit to how far these
nations can go, due to their lack of roots and good soil. At the same
time, v 6 says that they wither before they are plucked up. John Gill
says that their desire for happiness will never be realized.
Hebrew word in v 6 that the KJV and other versions translate as "groweth
up" actually means to draw or to take off. Brenton's translation of
the Septuagint says that the grass "withers before it is plucked up."
But Edward Cook's English translation of the Targum has that the grass
has withered before blossoming. Perhaps the grass would be plucked up
only after it had matured. Or could the idea in Psalm 129:6 mean that
the Psalmist hopes that the nations will decay before God steps in and
plucks them up by destroying them? Another view is that the Hebrew word's
meaning of drawing or taking off is consistent with the grass growing,
since the grass is extended, or drawn out, when it grows.)
Psalm 129 is raw, and it seems to lack love for enemies.