Title of the psalm. Maschil of Asaph - Not composed by that famous Asaph, who flourished in David's time, but by some of his posterity, who is called by their father's name, as this psalm speaks of the destruction of the temple and of Jerusalem, and of God's people by the Chaldeans.
2: Thy congregation - Thy people. Thine inheritance - The tribe of Judah, which thou hast in a special manner chosen for thine inheritance, and for the birth of the Messiah. Nor is it strange that he mentions this tribe particularly, because the calamity here remembered, did principally befal this tribe, and Benjamin, which was united with it.
3: Lift up - Come speedily to our rescue. Because - Because otherwise our destruction is irrecoverable.
4: Roar - In a way of triumph. Midst, &c. - In the places where thy people used to assemble for thy worship. Set up - Monuments of their victory.
5: Famous - The temple was so noble a structure, that it was a great honour to any man to be employed in the meanest part of the work, though it were but in cutting down the trees of Lebanon.
6: Axes and hammers - These words are not Hebrew, but Chaldee or Syriack, to point out the time when this was done, even when the Chaldeans brought in their language, together with their arms, among the Israelites.
8: Destroy them - All at once. So they intended, although afterwards they changed their council, and carried some away captive. Burnt up - All the public places wherein the Jews used to meet together to worship God every sabbath - day.
9: Signs - Those tokens of God's gracious presence, which we used to enjoy. The temple and ark, and sacrifices, and solemn feasts, were signs between God and his people. Prophet - Who can foretell things to come. Probably Ezekiel and Jeremiah were dead when this psalm was composed; and David was involved in civil affairs, and did not teach the people as a prophet. Knoweth - How long their captivity should continue.
11: Why - Why dost thou forebear the exercise of thy power? Bosom - In which thou now seemest to hide it.
12: King - It belongs therefore to thy office to protect and save me. Midst - In the view of the world.
13: Dragons - He means Pharaoh and his mighty men.
14: Leviathan - Pharaoh. The people - To the ravenous birds and beasts of the desert. These creatures are significantly called the people of the wilderness, because they are the only people that inhabit it.
15: The flood - Thou didst by cleaving the rock, make a fountain and a stream to flow from it, for the refreshment of thy people in those dry deserts. Driedst - Jordan and the Red Sea; for the sea itself; yea, a greater sea than that, is called a river, (Jon 2:3), where the Hebrew word is the same which is here used. And the same title is expressly given to the sea, by Homer, and other ancient writers.
16: The light - The moon, the lesser light.
17: Set - Thou hast fixed the bounds of the habitable world in general, and of all the countries and people upon the earth. And as this clause shews God's power over all places, so the next displays his dominion over all times and seasons.
18: Remember - Though we deserve to be forgotten, yet do not suffer our enemies to reproach the name of the great and glorious God.
19: Soul - The life. Turtle - dove - Of thy church, which is fitly compared to a turtle - dove, because simple and harmless, and meek, and faithful.
20: The covenant - Made with Abraham, whereby thou didst give the land of Canaan to him, and to his seed for ever. Dark places - This dark and dismal land in which we live.
21: Return - From the throne of thy grace, to which they make their resort.
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