102:8 All day long my enemies taunt me;
those who mock me use my name in their curses. 1
A song of ascents, 3 by Solomon.
then those who build it work in vain.
If the Lord does not guard a city, 5
then the watchman stands guard in vain.
1 tn Heb “by me they swear.” When the psalmist’s enemies call judgment down on others, they hold the psalmist up as a prime example of what they desire their enemies to become.
3 sn The precise significance of this title, which appears in Pss 120-134, is unclear. Perhaps worshipers recited these psalms when they ascended the road to Jerusalem to celebrate annual religious festivals. For a discussion of their background see L. C. Allen, Psalms 101-150 (WBC), 219-21.
4 sn The expression build a house may have a double meaning here. It may refer on the surface level to a literal physical structure in which a family lives, but at a deeper, metaphorical level it refers to building, perpetuating, and maintaining a family line. See Deut 25:9; Ruth 4:11; 1 Sam 2:35; 2 Sam 7:27; 1 Kgs 11:38; 1 Chr 17:10, 25. Having a family line provided security in ancient Israel.
5 sn The city symbolizes community security, which is the necessary framework for family security.