"'Many times they have persecuted me from my youth,'
Let Israel now say,
'Many times they have persecuted me from my youth up;
Yet they have not prevailed against me.
The plowers upon my back;
They lengthened their furrows.'
The Lord is righteous;
He has cut in two the cords of the wicked.
May all who hate Zion
Be put to shame and turned backward;
Let them be like grass upon the housetops,
Which withers before it grows up;
With which the reaper does not fill his hand,
Or the binder of sheaves his bosom;
Nor do those who pass by say,
'The blessing of the Lord be upon you;
We bless you in the name of the Lord.'"
There is no people on earth as persecuted as the Jews. There is hardly a breathing space in all of history without wars, but the Jews have been a target more than any other people group time and again with vicious hatred from the pit. Can you imagine fitting each of your children with gas masks as they do in Israel today? Every child, male and female, knows that when they grow up they will serve a time in the military. We live in such a vast nation, we lose perspective of how close the enemies of Israel live, those who threaten to blow them off the face of the earth, those who send rockets now with plans to build the nuclear capabilities. So to say, 'Many times they have persecuted me from my youth,' is an understatement. This Psalm is probably from the time of returning from the Captivity with the wounds still fresh. "They have not prevailed!" is the marching chant back to Jerusalem, or "He has cut in two the cords of the wicked!" (Have you heard the song, "He's a Chain Breaker")
The Jews also represent the Church, as a double meaning in Scripture. The Church is under persecution now as never before in the Middle East as Christians are being tortured and killed for their faith by the millions. Yet, we are close to the time when more Christians will be persecuted for their faith in our own nation when we will have to choose this day whom we will serve, to obey God rather than man. Our values will not evolve. Our belief in the Word of God will not be swayed. Somehow that makes some people angry, family, friends, and others who are intolerant of any who do not cave.
"The church has been often greatly distressed by its enemies on earth. God's people have always had many enemies, and the state of the church, from its infancy, has frequently been an afflicted state. The enemies of God's people have all along used them vey barbarously. They tore them as the husbandman tears the ground with his plough-share. When God permitted them to plough thus he intended it for his people's good, that, their fallow ground being thus broken up, he might sow the seeds of his grace upon them, and reap a harvest of good fruit from them: howbeit, the enemies meant not so; 'they made long their furrows' ...aiming at the destruction of the church.
The saints have often had trials of cruel scourgings, and so it was fulfilled in Christ, who gave his back to the smiters. The church as been always graciously delivered by her friend in heaven
...Christ has built his church upon a rock, and the gates of hell have not prevailed against it, nor ever shall." (Matthew Henry)
"The plowers plowed upon my back;
they made long furrows."
History is an amazing truth to me. Our own country in the early days used the whip not only against slaves but against those who were found guilty in court. Hard to believe, but records have been found recording such against some of my relatives in the late 1600's and early 1700's. Some were slaves, some were free. Some were probably innocent and some guilty. One such couple were found guilty of a crime, the killing a neighbor's hog which meant both the husband and the wife were flogged, thirty-six for him, twenty-one for her, furrows plowed on the back. They were not the only who felt the whip that is seen in the records. No telling how much was unrecorded.
"They have afflicted me from my youth." Other terrible crimes were done in those dark days of slavery. A newspaper has been found which records the kidnapping of little children from their beds, though free, to be sold back into the slave market. These were in my extended family. Sadly, there is no follow up paper to say whether or not they were found and returned to their distraught parents. All this because of hatred of one group of people by another. But to look at me, no one would think that this could have happened to "my people." That, I contend is because we all are one people in the eyes of God only separated by being a sheep or a goat, "either for me or against me," in the words of Christ.
"Those who hate Zion, the church of God, hate God Himself: and all such must be dealt with as enemies, and be utterly confounded. 'Let them be as the grass upon the housetops, which withereth afore it growth up.' ...Babylon is utterly destroyed, no harvests grow near the place where it stood." (Adam Clarke)
"Neither do they which go by say,
'The blessing of the Lord be upon you:
As is described in the time of Ruth, "we find that it was customary, when the master came to them in the field, to say unto the reapers, 'The Lord be with you!' And for them to answer, 'The Lord bless thee! (Ruth 2:4)" (Adam Clarke) But since their harvest has come to nothing, no exchange of salutations occurred. The last thing the enemies of God want to say is "The blessing of the Lord be upon you," because "the enemies of the church, and of God's work, say not, for they wish it not." (Adam Clarke)
So be prepared to be hated by the enemies of Christ. Take up your cross and follow Him.