by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
For it is written in the book of Psalms,
Here Paul returns to reporting what Peter said in his address to the other disciples. Peter refers them to a prediction, which is no doubt Psalm 69:25—“Let their habitation be desolate; and let none dwell in their tents.” Without a doubt, this is the prediction to which Peter refers in Acts 1:16—“Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus." The intermediate verses (Acts 1:18-19) are probably the words of Luke, not of Peter and should doubtless be in a parenthesis. It is not likely that Peter would introduce a narrative like this, which they were all familiar with, in an address to the disciples. The Hebrew in Psalm 69.25 is, “Let their habitation (Hebrew: fold, enclosure for cattle; tower, or palace) be desolate, and let none dwell in their tents.” This quotation is not made literally from the Hebrew, or from the Septuagint. The plural is changed to the singular, and there are some other slight changes. The Hebrew is, “Let there be no one dwelling in their tents.” The reference to the tents is omitted in the quotation. The term “habitation,” in the Psalm, evidently means the dwelling-place of the enemies of the writer of the Psalm. It is an image that expresses their overthrow and defeat by a just God: “Let their families be scattered, and the places where they have dwelt be without an inhabitant, as a reward for their crimes.”
If the Psalm was originally written David, about the Messiah and His sufferings, the expression here was not intended to denote Judas in particular, but one of Christ’s foes who was to meet the just punishment of rejecting, betraying, and murdering Him. The change, therefore, which Peter made from the plural to the singular, and the application to Judas especially “as one of those enemies,” agrees with the intention of the Psalm, and is a change which the circumstances of the case justified and required. It is an image, therefore, of judgment and desolation coming upon His betrayer—an image to be literally fulfilled with the betrayal by Judas and his subsequent suicide.
Let his habitation be desolate,
The Arabic and Ethiopic versions render it, "his city"; meaning, perhaps, the city of Jerusalem; which did become desolate, and was utterly destroyed in 70 A.D.
David, who wrote the Psalm which Peter has quoted, knew what it was like to be betrayed by another. When he was a fugitive from Saul, he was betrayed by a man named Doeg (See 1 Samuel 21-22), and many innocent people died as a result. David may have penned these very words in reference to this betrayer.
and let no man dwell therein:
“And let no man dwell therein;” or, in his habitation. The psalm (ps. 69), out of which these words are quoted, is a psalm concerning the Messiah, and there are many passages in the New Testament that contain quotes from that psalm and apply them to the Savior. For example, John 2.17 quotes Psalms 69.9. What the psalmist says about the enemies of the Messiah in general, is applied by the apostle Paul to Judas in particular. In the Hebrew text, in Psalm 69:25 the words are in the plural number, "let their habitation be desolate, and let none dwell in their tents"; and refer to all the enemies of Christ, the chief priests, elders of the people, Scribes and Pharisees, who made a deal with Judas to give him a certain amount of money to betray Christ into their hands; and who delivered him to the Roman governor, by whom, at their instigation, he was crucified. But Christ’s enemies must include Judas, since he betrayed Him to them; and therefore the prediction can be rightfully applied to Judas, as well as those others who had a hand in Christ’s death, whose house was to be left desolate, and were left desolate, as our Lord predicted— “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate” (Matt 23:38; KJV).
and his bishoprick let another take.
“And his bishopric let another take” is quoted from Psalm 109:8, “Let his days be few, and let another take his office.” This is called “a Psalm of David,” and is of the same class as Psalm 6:1-10, and Psalm 42:1-11. This class of Psalms is commonly supposed to have expressed David‘s feelings in the disastrous times of the persecution by Saul, the rebellion of Absalom, etc. They are also expressive of the condition of a suffering and persecuted Messiah, and many of them are applied to Him in the New Testament. The general principle on which most of them are applicable is, not that David personified or typified the Messiah which is not stated anywhere in Scripture, and which can be true in no intelligible sense; but that he was placed in circumstances similar to the Messiah; was surrounded with similar enemies; was persecuted in the same manner. Therefore, they express “general sentiments” as just as applicable to the case of the Messiah as to David. They were placed in similar circumstances. The same help was needed. The same expressions would convey their feelings. The same treatment was proper for their enemies. It was on this principle that David deemed his enemy, whoever he was, unworthy of his office, and desired that it should be given to another. In like manner, Judas had rendered himself unworthy of his office, and it was appropriate to give his bishopric, or office, as an apostle, to another. He was stripped of his office, as a bishop, or overseer, when he died a violent and infamous death, by his own hand. He was replaced by Matthias, who was fully invested in the office of apostle of Jesus Christ.
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