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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Psalms 77



Verse 1

Psalms 77.

The Psalmist sheweth what fierce combat he had with diffidence; and the victory which he had by the consideration of God's great and gracious works.

To the chief musician, to Jeduthun, A Psalm of Asaph.

Title. מזמור ףּלאס ידותון על למנצח lamnatseach al ieduthun leasaph mizmor.] Whoever was the author of this psalm, he was manifestly under a great dejection of mind when he penned it. He speaks of himself as deserted of God, and given up to be a prey to the sorrows of his own disturbed and tormented heart, see Psalms 77:2-3. What the particular grief was which gave rise to this mournful complaint, does not appear; but, whatever it was, the sting of it lay in this, that the Psalmist apprehended himself to be forsaken of God, and, without doubt, this is of all afflictions the most insupportable; a grief which no medicine can reach, which all the powers of reason cannot assist: for the soul refuses to be comforted: that the Psalmist speaks of the sorrows of a religious well-disposed heart, is manifest from the description that he gives of his conduct and behaviour under his distress. He was sorely troubled; but in the day of his trouble he sought the Lord. He was afflicted, but in his affliction he remembered God, Psalms 77:3. Whatever doubts he entertained as to his own condition, and the favour of God towards him, yet of the being, the power, and wisdom of God, he never doubted: this faith, which in his utmost extremity he held fast, proved to be his sheet-anchor, and saved him from the shipwreck, which the storms and tempests raised in his own breast seemed to threaten. See Bishop Sherlock's Discourses, vol. 2: p. 229 and the note on the last verse.

Psalms 77:1. I cried, &c.— My voice was unto God, and I cried: my voice was unto God, &c.

Verse 2

Psalms 77:2. My sore ran in the night, &c.— My hand was spread, or stretched out in the night, and remitted not. Houbigant. Green renders it, In the night mine eye trickled down without ceasing.

Verse 4

Psalms 77:4. Thou holdest mine eyes, &c.— Thou didst keep the watches of mine eyes. I was troubled, and spake not.

Verse 6

Psalms 77:6. I call to remembrance my song In the night I conversed with my heart, and my spirit made inquiry, saying,—Green.

Verse 9

Psalms 77:9. Hath God forgotten to be gracious It is worth our while to observe the train of thoughts which this afflicted good man pursued, and what were the reflections in which he rested at last, as his best and only comfort and support. Whether the calamities which afflicted him were private to himself, or public to his people and country; yet, as long as his thoughts dwelt on them, and led him into expostulations with God on the severity of his judgments, he found no ease or relief. A weak man cannot rightly judge of the actions even of a man wiser than himself, of whose views and designs he is not master: much less can any man judge of the ways of God, to whose counsels he is not admitted, and to whose secrets he is a stranger. The Psalmist complained heavily, Psalms 77:9. But what did he get by his complaint? Was he not forced immediately to confess the impropriety and folly of it? I said, This is my infirmity. He said very rightly. In complaining, he followed the natural impressions of impatience: in acknowledging the folly of his complaint, he spoke the language not only of grace, but of sense and reason. But this good man, being well grounded in religion, was able so far to get the better of his doubts and fears, as to pass a right judgment in his own case, and to call to his assistance the proper reflections which the great works of Providence administered for the support and confirmation of his hope and confidence towards God. See Psalms 77:11-12. Here then was his comfort; here the cure of all his grief. The scene around him was dark and gloomy; but, dark as it was, it was under the guidance and direction of the hand which had never failed the faithful, to deliver him out of all his troubles. See Sherlock as above. We may read the next verse, And I said, this my affliction is a change of the right hand of the most High; [i.e.] from a change of his conduct towards me: his right hand; which had formerly wrought miracles for the deliverance of his people, though now it was turned against them.

Verse 13

Psalms 77:13. Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary O God, in holiness is thy way. Houbigant and Mudge. That is, "Every thing which thou doest is conformable to thy sanctity, thy divinity: thy doing, thy conduct, is all divine, like thyself."

Verse 15

Psalms 77:15. The sons of Jacob and Joseph The people of the Jews are very properly styled the sons of Joseph, as well as of Jacob. For as Jacob was, under God, the author of their being; so was Joseph the preserver of it. The Chaldee paraphrast understood it thus; rendering it, The sons which Jacob begat and Joseph nourished. The allusion in this and the following verses, is to the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt; and the plain inference is, that the same goodness and power may be expected to afford the same salvation in the present despondency and distress. See Bishop Lowth's 26th Prelection for a critique upon this psalm.

Verse 19

Psalms 77:19. Thy way, &c.— Thy way was through the sea, and thy path through the great waters, though thy footsteps were not seen. "God walked before his people through the sea, though he left no footsteps of himself behind him."

Verse 20

Psalms 77:20. Thou leddest thy people like a flock The complaints of good men in the Scriptures of the Old Testament are of two sorts: one regards the national calamities of the Jews, the other the sufferings of particular men. The first (as well as the second) seems to have made a principal subject of the Psalmist's complaint in this psalm, as is probable from the conclusion, in which he reckons up the great things formerly done by God for the deliverance of his people; and concludes with one of the greatest: Thou leddest thy people like a flock, [through the Red Sea and through the wilderness, to the Promised Land,] by the hand of Moses and Aaron. His seeking comfort from a remembrance of God's great kindness to Israel, intimates that his sorrow was partly on account of their sufferings. See Bishop Sherlock as above.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, Among the several conflicts that we may endure, are those inward temptations, trials, and bodily pains, with which our spirit may be afflicted; but let us not despair of comfort and relief, when it stands here on record, I cried—and he gave ear unto me. We have here,

1. The Psalmist's fervent and incessant prayers in the day of his trouble. I cried with my voice, earnest and aloud, I sought the Lord, with eager importunity; my sore ran in the night, his heart bled with anguish; or, my hand was stretched out in the night in prayer to God, and ceased not. Note; (1.) In our distress we are especially called upon to fly to the compassionate bosom of our God, and pour out our complaints to him. (2.) If we would succeed, we must be both importunate and unwearied in our application.

2. His anguish was bitter, and he found no immediate relief. My soul refused to be comforted; laid hold on none of the promises; yea, when suggested to him, he thrust them from him as if they belonged not to him. I remembered God, and instead of finding relief from thence, I was troubled; his inexorable justice, and terrible majesty, fastened on his mind, and sunk him in deeper dejection. I complained of my sufferings, and my spirit was overwhelmed, as if my trials were too heavy to be borne. Thou holdest mine eyes waking; no balmy sleep brought for a time a truce of respite to his afflicted spirit: I am so troubled, that I cannot speak; his distress so unutterable, and his soul so dejected. Note; (1.) Under deep temptation we are apt to feed our own sorrows, and reject the consolations that God's word suggests to us. (2.) If we cannot speak but in groans, that is a language which God can understand, and will answer.

3. His melancholy fears occasioned great searchings of heart. I commune with mine own heart, and my spirit made diligent search into the cause of my distress, and where it would end; and, between hope and fear, reason with myself, Will the Lord cast off for ever? as he seems now to have forsaken me; and will he be favourable no more? Is his mercy, so often shown to me, clean gone for ever? Is there no more mercy, not a drop yet in store for me? doth his promise fail evermore? that no word of comfort shall again refresh my spirit? Hath God forgotten to be gracious? is it possible? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? so mused, so reasoned his dejected heart; and it speaks the strength of the temptation, which could cause him to question in the least degree truths so evident.

4. One beam of hope at last brightens up the prospect; he had gone far in his fears, much farther than he had any real cause for; now he stops short, and chides his unbelieving heart. I said, This is my infirmity, my lot of affliction, under which I ought not to complain; or rather my weakness and sin, ever to entertain a doubt of the love and compassions of my God: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High, that he is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, able to save to the uttermost, and therefore ever to be remembered and trusted. Note; (1.) We have already got, in a measure, out of our troubles when we begin to condemn our unbelief, and to cast our care upon God. (2.) There is no sin more besetting, none more to be lamented, than this dishonourable distrust of God's willingness to save.

2nd, Though we find not the immediate effect of the means of grace, we must not grow weary in using them: when we continue in God's way, we shall certainly succeed at last.

1. He continues to meditate on God's works and ways for the comfort of his soul. I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old; the great things he had done for his people of old, and the earnest of what he will do for them in future. I will meditate also of all thy work, of providence, redemption, and grace, for his own strength and consolation, and talk of thy doings, for the support and edification of others. Note; (1.) It becomes us often to remember the wonders of God's dispensations of providence and grace towards us, to awaken our greater thankfulness and gratitude. (2.) What he has done for our souls should be spoken of to his glory, and for the encouragement of others who may be in the like distress.

2. He acknowledges God's way to be holy. Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary, or in holiness; all his dispensations altogether righteous, and they who wait upon him in his sanctuary will see the reasons of them opened and made known to them. Note; Though we may not always be able to solve particular difficulties in God's dealings with men, yet this principle we must hold fast, that God is holy in all his ways, and just in all his works.

3. He magnifies God's power and grace, so eminently displayed in behalf of his people: Thou art the God that doest wonders; thou hast declared thy strength among the people, in those stupendous miracles wrought for their redemption out of Egypt. Afraid and troubled at the presence of God, the depths of the Red Sea were discovered, and its waters stood up as congealed into a wall of stone; the showering skies poured down torrents on the Egyptians, the thunders roared, the lightnings flashed, the earth quaked, and filled them with terror and dismay before the waters overwhelmed them; circumstances which, though not recorded in the Mosaic history, attended that fatal overthrow of Israel's enemies: whilst Israel, conducted by the way which God had opened through the sea, following his paths in these great waters, passed safely through; and then the sea returned to his strength, and no footsteps remained: thus, like a flock, God led them by the hand of Moses and Aaron, and brought them at last to the promised rest in Canaan. In all which he gloriously manifested his power and grace towards his people, and hath given his faithful followers everlasting cause to triumph in him: Who is so great a god as our God? Note; (1.) The redemption of Israel from Egypt, is typical of our redemption from the bondage of corruption. (2.) Like this passage through the sea, so are many of the works of God's grace and providence, incomprehensible to us; we can only stand on the shore and cry, O the depth! Romans 11:33. (3.) As God of old thus delivered his people, so will he ever lead, guide, and preserve his faithful ones; and they who trust in him shall not be disappointed of their hope.


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 77:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

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