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Bible Commentaries

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Psalms 78



Verse 1

Title. Mascbil = Instruction. The tenth of thirteen so named. See note on Title, Psalm 82, and App-65.

of Asaph = by, or for Asaph. Asaph was a "seer" or prophet (2 Chronicles 29:30). This Psalm is concerning the choosing a site for the Sanctuary. The seventh of the twelve Asaph Psalms. App-63.

ears. Hebrew text = ear. Some codices, with Aramaean and Syriac, read "ears".

Verse 2

I will open, &c. Quoted in Matthew 13:35.

parable . . . dark sayings. Compare Psalms 49:5. Same words. The Psalm has a moral: showing that Divine history contains more than appears on the surface.

Verse 3

known = come to know.

Verse 4

children = sons.

Shewing = Recounting.

the LORD. Hebrew. Jehovah. App-4.

wonderful works = wonders. Compare Psalms 77:11, Psalms 77:14.

Verse 5

commanded our fathers. Compare Exodus 10:2; Exodus 12:26, Exodus 12:27; Exodus 13:8-10, Exodus 13:14, Exodus 13:15. Deuteronomy 4:9; Deuteronomy 6:7, Deuteronomy 6:20, &c.

Verse 7

God. Hebrew. Elohim. App-4.

GOD. Hebrew El. App-4.

Verse 8

rebellious. Compare Deuteronomy 9:24; Deuteronomy 31:27.

spirit. Hebrew. ruach. App-9.

with. Some codices, with six early printed editions, read "toward".

Verse 9

Ephraim. The mention of Ephraim is not "perplexing". See explanation in next verse, and in the events of Judges 12:1-6; Judges 12:17, Judges 12:18 : viz. the introduction of idolatry. It is sin which is spoken of. See Psalms 78:57, "deceitful bow". Compare Hosea 7:16; Hosea 10:6-8.

carrying bows: i.e. though equipped as bowmen, yet were faithless. This is transferred to the moral application.

Verse 10

kept not. See note on Psalms 78:9.

Verse 12

Zoan. See note on Exodus 1:10.

Verse 13

divided. Compare Exodus 14:21.

as an heap. Compare Exodus 14:22; Exodus 15:8.

Verse 14

led them. Compare Exodus 13:21; Exodus 14:24; and note the correspondence of 13-16 with 52-55, in the Structure above.

Verse 15

clave. Hebrew. baka" (in Piel), implying repeated cleaving.

rocks. Hebrew. zur. Same word as in Ex. 17. The two events brought together here.

drink as out of. Some codices, with seven early printed editions, read "drink in the".

Verse 17

sinned. Hebrew. chata". t

he MOST HIGH. Hebrew. Elyon. App-4. Compare Psalms 78:35, and Psalms 77:10.

Verse 18

lust = soul. Hebrew. nephesh. App-13.

Verse 19

spake against. Compare Numbers 11:4-6.

Verse 22

trusted not = confided not. Hebrew. batah. App-69.

Verse 23

clouds = skies.

opened the doors. Figure of speech Anthropopatheia. App-6. Compare Genesis 7:11.

Verse 24

manna. Bread; not "the drops of the tarfu or tamarisk tree", as alleged. See John 6:31, John 6:49-51.

of heaven: i.e. from heaven; not from trees.

Verse 25

angels" food = bread of the mighty ones. Septuagint, Syriac, Arabic, Ethiopic, with Targums, render it "bread of angels". The "of" may be Genitive of Agent. See App-17.

Verse 27

rained. As in Psalms 78:24.

as the sand. Figure of speech Paroemia. App-6.

Verse 30

not estranged = not turned away from.

their lust. What they had longed for.

Verse 31

The wrath, &c. Compare John 3:36. Ephesians 5:6. Colossians 3:6.

Verse 32

For all this = In, or amid all this.

Verse 33

in vanity = in a breath. i.e. the whole generation of men quickly died out. Compare Numbers 14:29, Numbers 14:35; Numbers 26:64, Numbers 26:65.

Verse 35

THE HIGH GOD. Hebrew "El "Elyon . = EL MOST HIGH.

redeemer. Hebrew. ga"al. See note on Exodus 6:6; Exodus 13:13.

Verse 36

tongues. Hebrew = tongue (singular)

Verse 37

covenant. If that of Exodus 34:5-10, then note the reference to it in Psalms 78:38, below.

Verse 38

iniquity. Hebrew "avah. App-44.

destroyed = laid waste.

Verse 39

He remembered. Figure of speech Anthropopatheia. Compare "They forgat", Psalms 78:11.

flesh. Compare Genesis 6:3; Genesis 8:21. Psalms 103:14-16.

A wind. Hebrew. ruach. App-9.

Verse 40

How oft. Ten times at least in the first two years (Numbers 14:22).

Verse 41

turned back: i.e. again and again.

limited. Hebrew. tavah, to set a mark (Ezekiel 9:4), the only other occurrence of the Hiphil; hence, to set a limit.

the Holy One of Israel. This title occurs only three times in the Psalms: here (Psalms 78:41); in the last Davidic Psalm of the second book (Psalms 71:22); and in the last Psalm of this third book (Psalms 89:18).

Verse 42

They remembered not. Contrast Psalms 78:39, "He remembered".

delivered. Hebrew. padah, as in Exodus 13:13.

Verse 43

signs in Egypt. The Psalm, verses: Psalms 78:44-51, does not profess to give a list of the "ten plagues"; so that there is no ground for the assumption as to only a "Jehovist" document being known to the writer. He selects according to his special purpose. He names the first and the last, and omits the third (lice), fifth (murrain), sixth (boils), and the ninth (darkness).

Verse 44

turned their rivers. The first plague (Exodus 7:17, &c).

Verse 45

flies. The fourth plague (Exodus 8:21).

frogs. The second plague (Exodus 8:5, Exodus 8:6).

Verse 46

caterpiller = corn locust. A more specific word than Exodus 10:1-20. It occurs in Joel 1:4; Joel 2:25.

labour. Put by Figure of speech Metonymy (of Cause), App-6, for the fruit of labour.

Verse 47

destroyed = killed.

hail. The seventh plague (Exodus 9:18).

frost. Word occurs nowhere else. Probably = hailstones.

Verse 48

hot thunderbolts: or lightnings (Exodus 9:23).

Verse 49

sending = letting loose.

evil angels. In distinction from "demons". Compare 1 Timothy 4:1, where both are mentioned. Compare Exodus 12:23. 2 Samuel 24:16.

Verse 50

made = pondered, or weighed. Compare Proverbs 4:26; Proverbs 5:6, Proverbs 5:21. Contrast Isaiah 26:7.

soul. Hebrew. nephesh. App-13.

Verse 51

strength = strengths (plural) Manly vigour. Put by Figure of speech Metonymy (of Adjunct), App-6, for the firstborn. Compare Genesis 49:3. Deuteronomy 21:17. Psalms 105:36.

tabernacles = tents. Hebrew. "ohel. App-40.

Ham = Egypt. Compare Psalms 105:23, Psalms 105:27; Psalms 106:22.

Verse 52

wilderness. Compare Isaiah 63:11-14.

Verse 53

led = gently led. compare verses: Psalms 78:13-16.

overwhelmed. Compare Exodus 14:27; Exodus 15:10.

Verse 54

His sanctuary: i.e. Zion. See App-68.

this mountain: viz. the one in the writer"s view; not in "the memory of an exile in Babylon".

Verse 55

heathen = nations.

by line. Sometimes this is put by Figure of speech Metonymy (of Cause), for the inheritance itself which was measured off by it. Compare Psalms 19:4.

Verse 56

the MOST HIGH. Hebrew. "eth "Elohim "Elyon. App-4.

Verse 57

turned back. See the Structure (17-20 and 56-58).

a deceitful bow: disappointing the bowman. Compare Hosea 7:16.

graven images. Same word as Deuteronomy 7:5. Includes all images, whether carved, graven, or molten.

Verse 59

When God heard this, He. There is no "When" in the Hebrew Render: "God heard this, and He was wroth"

heard. Figure of speech Anthropopatheia. App-6.

Verse 60

tabernacle = habitation. Hebrew. mishkan. App-40(2).

Shiloh. Compare Judges 18:1, Judges 18:31; 1 Samuel 4:3.

men. Hebrew. adam.

Verse 61

strength. One of the names for the Ark of the Covenant (Compare Psalms 63:2; Psalms 132:8). See notes on Exodus 25:22. 1 Chronicles 13:3.

glory. Another name for the Ark (1 Samuel 4:22).

Verse 62

unto the sword. Compare 1 Samuel 4:10.

Verse 63

were not given to marriage = were not praised: i.e. had no marriage song.

Verse 64

priests. Compare 1 Samuel 4:11.

Verse 65

the LORD*. One of the 134 places where the Sopherim changed "Jehovah" to "Adonai". See App-32.

as one out of sleep. Supply Ellipsis (App-6) = "as one [awaketh] out of sleep".

Verse 66

the hinder parts = rear, or backward.

Verse 67

chose not. Ephraim did not lose inheritance, but lost precedence, which was transferred to Judah.

Verse 68

which He loved. The proof of which was the removal of the Ark to Zion.

Verse 69

Like the earth. Some codices, with two early printed editions, Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate, read (Beth = in) instead of (Kaph = like) = "In the land".

Verse 70

chose David. Compare 1 Samuel 16:11, 1 Samuel 16:12. This is the climax of the Psalm.

Verse 71

To feed = To shepherd.

To feed Jacob. Compare 2 Samuel 7:7, 2 Samuel 7:8.

His people. Some codices, with Septuagint and Vulgate, read "His servant".

Israel. Note the two names: Jacob, the natural seed; Israel, the spiritual seed. See notes on Genesis 32:28; Genesis 43:6; Genesis 45:26, Genesis 45:28.

Verse 72

skilfulness = discernment, or understanding.


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Bibliography Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Psalms 78:4". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

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