View Psalms 78 in the note window.
This psalm is a narrative of the great mercies God had bestowed upon
Israel, the great sins wherewith they had provoked him, and the many
tokens of his displeasure at them.
The preface, ver. 1 - 8.
The general scope of this psalm, ver. 9 - 11.
As to the particulars, we are told, what God had done for them; how
ungrateful they were for his favours; how God had justly punished
them; and how graciously he had spared them, notwithstanding all their
provocations, ver. 12 - 72.
Maschil of Asaph.
1: My law - The doctrine which I am about to deliver.
2: Parable - Weighty sentences.
Dark sayings - Not that the words are hard to be understood, but the
things, God's transcendent goodness, their unparallel'd ingratitude; and
their stupid ignorance and insensibleness, under such excellent teachings
of God's word and works, are prodigious and hard to be believed.
Of old - Of things done in ancient times.
5: Established - This is justly put in first place, as the chief
of all his mercies. A testimony - His law, called a testimony,
because it is a witness between God and men, declaring the duties which
God expects from man, and the blessings which man may expect from God.
9: Ephraim - That Ephraim is here put for all Israel seems
evident from the following verses, wherein the sins, upon which this
overthrow is charged, are manifestly the sins of all the children of
Israel, and they who are here called Ephraim are called Jacob
and Israel, ver.(21), and this passage may refer to that dreadful
overthrow related, (1Sa 4:10,11), which is particularly named, because
as the ark, so the flight was in that tribe.
And the psalmist having related this amazing providence, falls into a large
discourse of the causes of it, namely, the manifold sins of that and the
former generations, which having prosecuted from hence to ver.(60), he
there returns to this history, and relates the sad consequence of that
disaster, the captivity of the ark, and God's forsaking of Shiloh and
Ephraim, and removing thence to the tribe of Judah and mount Zion.
Bows - These are put for all arms.
12: Field - In the territory. Zoan - An ancient and eminent city
15: Wilderness - In Rephidim, and again in Kadesh.
16: Streams - Which miraculously followed them in all their travels,
even to the borders of Canaan.
17: Wilderness - Where they had such singular obligations to
obedience. This was a great aggravation of their sins.
18: Tempted - Desired a proof of God's power. Lust - Not for their
necessary subsistence, but out of an inordinate and luxurious appetite.
22: Trusted not - That he both could, and would save them from the
famine which they feared.
23: Heaven - Which he compares to a store - house, whereof God shuts
or opens the doors, as he sees fit.
25: Angels food - Manna, so called, because it was made by the
ministry of angels.
26: South wind - First an eastern, and afterwards a southern wind.
27: Fowl - But God took away from them the use of their wings, and
made them to fall into the hands of the Israelites.
31: Mightiest - The most healthy and strong, who probably were most
desirous of this food, and fed most eagerly upon it.
33: Vanity - In tedious and fruitless marches hither and thither.
Trouble - In manifold diseases, dangers, and perplexities.
34: Returned - From their idols.
Enquired - Speedily sought to God for ease and safety.
35: Redeemer - That God alone had preserved them in all their former
exigencies, and that he only could help them.
36: Lied - They made but false protestations of their sincere
resolutions of future obedience.
42: Hand - The glorious works of his hand. Enemy - That remarkable
day, in which God delivered them from their greatest enemy, Pharaoh.
45: Flies - These flies were doubtless extraordinary in their nature,
and hurtful qualities. And the like is to be thought concerning the frogs.
46: Labour - The herbs which were come up by their care and labour.
47: Sycamore - trees - Under these and the vines, all other trees are
comprehended. This hail and frost destroyed the fruit of the trees, and
sometimes the trees themselves.
49: Evil angels - Whom God employed in producing these plagues.
51: Ham - Of the Egyptians, the posterity of Ham, the cursed
children of a cursed parent.
54: Holy place - The land of Canaan, separated by God from all
other lands. Mountain - The mountainous country of Canaan; the word
mountain is often used in scripture for a mountainous country.
57: Deceitful bow - Which either breaks when it is drawn, or shoots
awry, and frustrates the archer's expectation.
59: Heard - Perceived or understood, it is spoken of God after the
manner of men.
60: Shiloh - Which was placed in Shiloh. Among men - Whereby he
insinuates both God's wonderful condescension, and their stupendous
folly in despising so glorious a privilege.
61: His strength - The ark, called God's strength,(1Ch 16:11), because it was the sign and pledge of his strength
put forth on his people's behalf. Glory - So the ark is called, as
being the monument and seat of God's glorious presence.
Enemies - The Philistines.
64: Priests - Hophni and Phinehas. No lamentation - No
funeral solemnities; either because they were prevented by
their own death, as the wife of Phinehas was, or disturbed
by the invasion of the enemy.
66: Smote - Them with the piles. Reproach - He caused them to
perpetuate their own reproach by sending back the ark of God with
their golden emrods, the lasting monuments of their shame.
67: Refused - He would not have his ark to abide any longer
in the tabernacle of Shiloh, which was in the tribe of Joseph
68: Chose - For the seat of the ark and of God's worship.
69: Sanctuary - The temple of Solomon. Palaces - Magnificent
and gloriously. Established - Not now to be moved from place to place, as
the tabernacle was, but as a fixed place for the ark's perpetual residence.