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Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible

Psalms 77

 

 

Verse 1

PSALM 77

THE ARGUMENT

This Psalm was composed upon the occasion of some sore and long calamity of God’s people; either the Babylonish captivity, or some other.

Either that Asaph who lived and prophesied in David’s time; or one of his successors long after him, called, as was usual, by his progenitor’s name.

The prophet showeth what great striving and combat (though by prayer and watching) he had with diffidence, Psalms 77:1-9. By the consideration of God’s wonderful works and former mercies, he is raised and strengthened, Psalms 77:10-20.

This verse seems to contain the sum of the whole Psalm, consisting of two parts, to wit, his earnest cry to God in his deep distress; and God’s gracious return to his prayers, by supporting him under them, and giving him assurance of a good issue out of them; of both which he speaks more distinctly and particularly, of the first from Psalms 77:2-10, of the latter thence to the end.


Verse 2

My sore ran: the hand in the Hebrew tongue, and Scripture use, is oft put for a blow or stroke given by the hand. Heb. My hand, or hands, (the singular number being frequently put for the plural,)

flowed or poured forth, i.e. spread abroad to God in prayer. This phrase he useth rather than were stretched out, which is frequent in like cases, to imply that his case was low and almost desperate, his spirits and strength quite gone, so that he was not able to stretch them out, as he had done.

In the night; which to others was a time of rest and quietness, but to me of torment.

My soul refused to be comforted; I rejected all those consolations which either my friends or my own mind suggested to me.


Verse 3

Yea, the thoughts of God, and of his infinite power, and truth, and goodness, which used to be very sweet and comfortable to me, were now matter of terror and trouble, because they were all engaged against me, and God himself, my only friend, was now very angry with me, and become mine enemy.

I complained unto God in prayer.

My spirit was overwhelmed; so far was I from finding relief by my complaints, that they increased my misery.


Verse 4

Thou holdest mine eyes waking, by those sharp and continual griefs, and those perplexing and tormenting thoughts and cares, which from time to time thou stirrest up in me.

I am so troubled that I cannot speak; the greatness of my sorrows stupifies my mind, and makes me both lifeless and unable to speak; nor can any words sufficiently express the extremity of my misery.


Verse 5

I have considered, if by that means I could get any comfort, the days of old, i.e. the mighty works of God done for his people in former times.

Days are put for events done in them, as Psalms 37:13 137:7 Obadiah 1:12 Micah 7:4.


Verse 6

I call to remembrance my song in the night, the many and great mercies and favours of God vouchsafed by him to me, and to his people, which have obliged me to adore him, and sing his praises not only in the day, the time appointed for that work. but also by night, as oft as they come into my mind.

My spirit made diligent search, what should be the cause of this strange and vast alteration, and how these sore calamities could come from the hand of so gracious and merciful a God as ours is, and what might be expected as to their continuance or removal.


Verse 7

Will the Lord cast off his peculiar and chosen people? This doth not seem to agree either with God’s nature, or with that everlasting covenant which he hath made with them.


Verse 8

Are all the stores of his mercy quite spent? Doth he now cease to be what he hath styled himself, the Lord gracious and merciful, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness? Will he never more make good those gracious promises upon which he hath commanded us to hope?


Verse 9

Hath God forgotten to be gracious, because he hath so long disused it?

Hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies, so as they can never flow forth, no, not to his own people?


Verse 10

I said; I thus answered these objections.

This is my infirmity; these suspicions of God’s faithfulness and goodness proceed from the weakness of my faith, and from the mistake of a diseased mind.

But I will remember; which words may be understood out of the following verse, as other words frequently are in like cases.

The years of the right hand of the Most High; the years wherein God hath done great and glorious works, which are oft ascribed to God’s right hand, as Psalms 17:7 20:6 45:4 118:15. But the word rendered years doth also signify changing, and accordingly this verse is by other learned interpreters, and may well be, rendered otherwise, without any such supplement as is in our translation, thus, And I said,

This is my affliction or grievance, ( the sum of all, and the chief cause of my trouble and anxiety, is this,)

the change of the right hand of the Most High; that right hand which formerly hath done such great and wonderful things for his people, is at this time not only hid in God’s bosom, and not drawn forth for their defence, but is also stretched forth against them, and is the principal cause of all our present miseries. I could bear the malice and rage of our enemies, from whom we could not expect better things, but that our gracious and covenanted God should forsake and persecute his own people, this is that which makes it intolerable.


Verse 11

And yet upon second and serious thoughts of what God had formerly done for his people, many times far above their expectations, I will take comfort in remembrance of them, because God is still the same that he was in power, and goodness, and love to his people, and therefore will pity and help us in this present calamity, as he hath oft done in others of the same nature.


Verse 13

Thy way, i.e. thy doings, or the course of thy providence, which is oft called God’s way; the various methods and causes of thy dealings with thy people.

In the sanctuary; is there contained and declared. As the prosperity of wicked men, so also the grievous calamities of God’s people, are great riddles and stumbling-blocks to the ignorant and ungodly world; but a full and satisfactory resolution of them may be had from God’s sanctuary, as is observed in the former case by this same Asaph, Psalms 73:16,17, and here in the latter. Or, is in holiness. So the sense is, God is holy, and just, and true in all his works; yea, even in his judgments upon his own people, as will evidently appear from the issue of them.

Who is so great a God as our God? And although our God at present suspends his power, and doth not put it forth to deliver his people out of the hands of their idolatrous enemies, who thence take occasion to blaspheme his name, and to exalt their idol gods above him; yet he is still infinitely superior in power, both to them and to their gods, and can and will in his due time rescue his people from them.


Verse 14

By the mighty effects of it here following.


Verse 15

Redeemed thy people, to wit, out of Egypt, after a long and hard bondage; which he here mentions to strengthen his faith in their present captivity.

Jacob and Joseph; whom he mentions, partly, as a most eminent portion of the sons of Jacob, branched forth into two numerous tribes; partly, because the sons of Joseph were born in Egypt, which Jacob’s other sons were not; and partly, because he laid the foundation of that redemption by bringing them into Egypt, and preserving and nourishing Jacob and his sons there, as a little child is nourished, as it is expressed in the Hebrew text, Genesis 47:12; in which respect he was a second father to them, and they might well be called his sons; without whose care (to speak humanly) there had been no such redemption, nor people to be redeemed.


Verse 16

The waters saw thee; they felt the visible effects of thy powerful presence.

They were afraid; and stood still, as men or beasts astonished commonly do.


Verse 17

The clouds poured out water, when the Israelites passed over the sea; in respect whereof the Israelites are said to have been baptized in the cloud (i.e. sprinkled with water poured forth from the clouds) and in the sea, 1 Corinthians 10:2.

Thine arrows; either hail-stones, or rather lightnings or thunder-bolts, which are called Gods arrows, Psalms 18:14 144:6.


Verse 18

This tempest is not particularly recorded in its proper place, yet it may well be gathered from what is said Exodus 14:24,25, and is in effect acknowledged by Josephus in his history. And this is no new thing in Scripture, for some circumstances of history omitted in the first and properest places to be supplied in following passages; whereof instances have been already given.


Verse 19

Is in the sea; or rather was at that time; thou didst walk and lead thy people in untrodden paths.

Are not known, because the waters suddenly returned and covered them.


Verse 20

Thou leddest thy people; first through the sea, and afterwards through the vast howling wilderness to Canaan.

Like a flock; with singular care and tenderness, as a shepherd doth his sheep. And therefore I hope thou wilt take care of thy poor dispersed and distressed flock, and bring them once again into their own land.

 


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Bibliography Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 77:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/psalms-77.html. 1685.

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