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INTRODUCTION TO PSALM 105
This psalm was penned by David, and sung at the time when the ark was brought from the house of Obededom to the place which David had prepared for it; at least the first fifteen verses of it, the other part being probably added afterwards by the same inspired penman, as appears from 1 Chronicles 16:1. The subject matter of the psalm is the special and distinguishing goodness of God to the children of Israel, and to his church and people, of which they were typical: the history of God's regard to and care of their principal ancestors, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, &c. and of the whole body of the people, in bringing them out of Egypt, leading them through the wilderness, and settling them in the land of Canaan, is here recited, as an argument for praise and thankfulness.
O give thanks unto the Lord,.... These are the words of David, either to the singers, or rather to the whole congregation of Israel, the seed of Abraham, and children of Jacob, Psalms 105:6 stirring them up to praise and thankfulness for their mercies, temporal and spiritual; for the Messiah they had hope and expectation of, typified by the ark now brought home; for the word and ordinances, and opportunities of waiting upon God in them; for heaven and happiness, figured by Canaan's land given them to enjoy. Or, "confess or celebrate the Lord" x; his greatness and goodness: his being and perfections; his sovereignty over all creatures: confess him as your Creator, Benefactor, covenant God and Father; or, "confess to the Lord" y your sins and transgressions committed against him, his great grace and kindness to you, and your unworthiness to receive any favour from him.
Call upon his name; as such may to advantage, who are thankful for what they have received from him; these may and ought to call upon him, or pray to him, in faith and fervency, with frequency and importunity, in the truth and sincerity of their souls; and at all times, especially in times of trouble. Some, as Aben Ezra, interpret it, proclaim his name, make it known to others; call upon them to serve and worship him. This sense is mentioned by Kimchi, and agrees with what follows:
make known his deeds among the people: which are the effects of his counsel, wisdom, power, and goodness; such as the works of creation and providence, and especially of grace, and salvation; and which were to be published among the Heathen, for the glory of his name: and indeed the Gospel, which is ordered to be preached to all nations, is nothing else than a declaration of what Jehovah, Father, Son, and Spirit, have done and do.
x חודו ליהוה celebrate Jehovam, Junius & Tremellius. y "Confitemini Domino", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, &c.
Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him,.... Both vocally and instrumentally, with the voice and upon instruments of music, as were used in David's time. Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, are to be sung now, even the song of Moses, and of the Lamb. The wondrous things God had done for his people were sufficient matter for a song; and these were to be put into one, to be transmitted to posterity: it was usual in ancient times to hand down the history of memorable events by a song.
Talk ye of all his wondrous works: all the works of the Lord are wonderful; what David elsewhere says of himself may be said of them, that they are wonderfully made, even the least and most inconsiderable of them; and especially his works of grace, when it is observed for whom they are performed, or on whom they are wrought; sinful creatures, enemies to God, and deserving of his wrath. These are to be talked of freely and frequently, in friendly conversation, in order to gain a further knowledge of them, and warm each others hearts with them, and to lead into adoring and admiring views of the love and grace of God in them; and all of them deserve notice, none should be omitted, all are worthy of consideration and contemplation; for so the words may be rendered, "mediate" z "on all his wondrous works" Here is a large field for meditation; and when the heart is in a proper frame for it, meditation on the works of God is sweet, pleasant, and profitable.
z שיחו "meditamini", Cocceius, Gejerus, Michaelis.
Glory ye in his holy name,.... In the knowledge of it, as proclaimed in Christ; in being called by his name, and in having the honour to call upon his name; in the holiness of it; and in Christ being made sanctification as well as righteousness, in whom all the seed of Israel are justified and glory; as they may also of interest in him, and communion with him.
Let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord; while he may be found, and where he may be found; who seek him in Christ, and under the guidance and direction of his Spirit; who seek him with their whole hearts, diligently and constantly. The Targum is,
"who seek doctrine from the Lord.''
Such may and should rejoice in him, and in him only; and that always, as they have reason to do, even in their hearts, since they that seek him find him; and whether it be at first conversion, or afterwards, or when he has for a time hid his face; it must be matter of joy to them, even to their very hearts, to find him whom they seek.
Seek the Lord and his strength,.... The ark, which is called his strength, and the ark of his strength, Psalms 78:61, because he had shown his great strength by it, in dividing the waters at Jordan, throwing down the walls of Jericho, and plaguing the Philistines because of it, when among them. This was a symbol of God's presence, before which he was sought by his people; and was a type of our Lord Jesus, the man of God's right hand, whom he has made strong for himself, and who is called his strength, Psalms 80:18. Some render it, and which Aben Ezra makes mention of, though he rejects it, "seek the Lord in his strength"; or "by it": God is to be sought in Christ; he is the way of access to him. Or the meaning is, seek strength from the Lord; spiritual strength; strength to assist in the exercise of grace, and discharge of duty; seek it from him, in whom are both righteousness and strength. The Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and Syriac versions, render it, "seek the Lord, and be ye strengthened". The way to gain an increase of spiritual strength is to seek the Lord by prayer, or in his ordinances; see Psalms 138:3. The Targum is,
"seek the doctrine of the Lord, and his law.''
seek his face evermore: his favour and lovingkindness; his smiling countenance, which beholds the upright; his gracious presence, and communion with him; which is always desirable, ever to be sought after, and will be eternally and without interruption enjoyed in another world.
Remember his marvellous works which he hath done,.... Which Aben Ezra interprets of the works of creation; rather they seem to design the works of Providence in favour of the children of Israel: best of all, works of grace done for his saints, none of which are to be forgotten; especially the great work of redemption and salvation, for the remembrance of which, under the New Testament, an ordinance is particularly appointed.
His wonders, and the judgments of his mouth: the above Jewish writer, by "wonders", understands the miracles in Egypt, the plagues inflicted on the Egyptians;
and by the judgments of his mouth, the laws and statutes given at Sinai: each of which were indeed to be remembered: but "his wonders" may take in all the wonderful things done in Egypt and in the wilderness, and in settling the Israelites in the land of Canaan; and "his judgments" may also intend the judgments which he threatened to bring upon the enemies of Israel, and which he did bring upon them as he said. The wonders of his grace, of his law and Gospel, his judgments and his testimonies, are not to be forgotten.
O ye seed of Abraham his servant,.... These are the persons all along before addressed; the Israelites, who descended from Abraham, were his natural seed and offspring, and who had reason to give thanks unto the Lord and praise his name, since so many and such wonderful things had been done for them; though all that were his natural seed were not the children of God; and such who have the same faith he had, and tread in the steps he did, are Christ's, and partakers of his grace; these are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise; and are under the greatest obligations to praise the Lord. Abraham is here called his servant, as also in Psalms 105:42, being a true worshipper of God; though sometimes his friend, which is not inconsistent; though this character, according to the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions, belongs to his seed, they rendering it in the plural, "his servants". It follows,
ye children of Jacob his chosen; this is added to distinguish the persons intended from the other seed of Abraham in the line of Ishmael; for in Isaac his seed was called, which were the children of the promise, and that in the line of Jacob, and not in the line of Esau; from whom they were called Israel or Israelites, a people whom the Lord chose above all people on the face of the earth; for the word "chosen" may be connected with the children as well as with Jacob. The whole spiritual Israel of God, whether Jews or Gentiles, all such who are Israelites indeed, as they appear to be the chosen of God, so they are bound to praise his name.
He is the lord our God,.... Here begin the arguments to excite to praise and thankfulness; and the first is taken from what God is, and is to us; he is Jehovah, the Being of beings, a self-existent Being, the author of all beings, but receives his own from none; being undivided, independent, and self-sufficient, invariably and unchangeably the same, which is, and was, and is to come; and who has a sovereign power and authority over all creatures, whose name alone is Jehovah; nor is that name applicable or communicable to any created being; and yet this Jehovah is our God, our God in covenant, our God in Christ; our God that has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ; our God that has regenerated, adopted, and justified us; that supplies all our wants, and will be our God and our portion for ever; and therefore worthy of all praise, honour, and glory.
His judgments are all the earth: not his laws and statutes, his word and ordinances, or the revelation of his mind and will as faith and worship, which are sometimes meant by his judgments; for these were not in all the earth, were only known to the people of the Jews at this time, Psalms 147:19, rather his judgments on the Egyptians, or his plagues upon them for refusing to let Israel go, the fame of which was spread throughout the world: and may take in all the judgments of God in other parts of the world, as on Sodom and Gomorrah, and especially the universal deluge, which destroyed the world of the ungodly; and by such judgments the Lord is known, Psalms 9:16 and for these he is to be praised; as they are expressive of his holiness and justice; as he will be for his judgments on antichrist, when they are made manifest,
Revelation 15:4. This may also respect in general God's government of the world, and his righteous judging in it; who is a God that judgeth in the earth, and governs it by his power and wisdom, and in righteousness; and this righteous Judge is our God.
He hath remembered his covenant for ever,.... Another argument of praise taken from the covenant of grace, in which he is our God, and of which he is ever mindful; he remembers his covenant ones, whom he perfectly knows, and never forgets them; he remembers his covenant promises to them, and allows them to put him in remembrance of them; he has respect unto his covenant, and the blessings of it, and bestows them on his people; gives them the sure mercies of David; and he remembers his love, which is the source and spring of all.
The word which he commanded to a thousand generations; that which is properly a covenant with Christ our head on our account, is a word of promise to us; a promise of grace and glory; a free promise, absolute and unconditional: and this he has "commanded", or ordered, decreed, and determined that it shall stand good, and be punctually performed, "to a thousand generations"; that is, for ever; for all his promises are yea and amen in Christ.
Which covenant he made with Abraham,.... Or made it known unto him, and showed him his particular interest in it; promised that he would be his God, that he would bless him; and that in his seed, the Messiah, that should spring from him, all nations of the earth should be blessed, Genesis 12:2, compare with this Luke 1:72.
And his oath unto Isaac: he made known to Isaac the oath which he swore to Abraham, and promised to perform it, Genesis 26:3, or concerning Isaac a; in whom his seed was to be called, and in whose line from him the Messiah was to come, the grand article of this covenant.
a לישחק de Isahac, Vatablus.
And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law,.... The son of Isaac, and the grandson of Abraham, to whom it was renewed and confirmed, Genesis 28:13. It is true of his posterity that go by his name, and even of all the spiritual Israel of God, to whom this covenant is confirmed and made sure: or "caused to stand" b, as the word is; by the faithfulness of God by his oath annexed to his word, and by the death of his Son: when this is said to be "for a law", the meaning is, not as if this covenant had the nature of a law, as the covenant of works had; indeed one of the articles of it is, that the law of God should be put into the inward part, and written on the heart; but this refers here not to men, but to God; and the sense is, that this covenant has the force of a law with respect to God, who of his condescending grace and goodness has hereby laid himself under obligation to do such and such things; which is marvellous grace indeed.
And to Israel for an everlasting covenant: for being remembered, commanded, repeated, and confirmed by the Lord, it can never be broken; and being well ordered, remains sure, and is as immovable as rocks and mountains, and more so: as it was made with Christ from everlasting, it will continue to be made good to his people to everlasting; and is a just reason for praise; it being the basis of faith and hope; the ground of joy, peace, and comfort here, and of eternal happiness hereafter.
b יעמידה "stare fecit", Vatablus.
Saying, unto thee will I give the land of Canaan,.... To each of the above persons, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to their posterity, the children of Israel. Not that the word "saying", as Gussetius c well observes, signifies that the words following it are expressive of the covenant, for that is expressed Psalms 105:7, the main article, sum, and substance of it, being this, that the Lord was their God; but it only signifies that this earthly promise was pronounced when that everlasting covenant was given, Genesis 17:7. Besides, this must be considered as typical of the heavenly inheritance; as that was a land of promise, so is this; it is the promise, the grand promise, which God has promised; as that was a land prepared and ready furnished with houses, fields, and vineyards, so is heaven a kingdom prepared by God the Father, and by the presence and mediation of his Son; as the Israelites passing through the wilderness met with many difficulties, and fought many battles, before possessed of it, so the people of God pass through the wilderness of this world, go through many tribulations, and fight the good fight of faith before they lay hold on eternal life; and as not Moses, but Joshua, led the people into the land, so not the law, but Jesus the Saviour, the great Captain of salvation, brings the many sons to glory; and as that was a land of rest after fatiguing travels, is heaven the sabbatism or rest for the people of God, a rest from all their toil and labour; and as the one was the pure gift of God, so is the other:
to thee will I give, c. And as the land of Canaan is here called "the lot of your inheritance", it being divided and distributed by lot to the children of Israel, who find each their proper share and portion,
Joshua 14:1 so heaven is an inheritance, not purchased, nor acquired, but bequeathed by the will of God comes through the death of the testator Christ, belongs only to children, and is, as inheritances are, for ever; this is also by lot, as the word is in Ephesians 1:11, not that it is a casual thing, for it is appointed by the Lord for his people, and they for that; it is what they are predestinated to, as in the aforementioned text; but it denotes that everyone shall have their part and portion in it.
c Ebr. Comment. p. 822.
When they were but a few men in number,.... Or "men of number" d, that might easily be numbered; see Genesis 34:30, when this covenant, promise, and oath, were first made to Abraham, he was alone, and had no child; and when his posterity were increased in Jacob's time, and sojourned in Egypt, they were but few, though greatly enlarged when they came out of it: in comparison of other nations, they were the fewest of all people, and therefore had this grant of Canaan, not for their numbers any more than their goodness. And this circumstance is mentioned to show the unmerited goodness of God unto them; see Deuteronomy 7:6. And so the Lord's people, to whom he gives the kingdom of heaven, are a little flock; they are only a few that find the way to eternal life, Luke 12:32.
Yea, very few; or "as a little thing" e: so were the people of Israel a little contemptible body of men in the eyes of others, and in comparison of them. And such are the saints in this world; "the filth of it", and the "offscouring of all things";
yea, things that are not; that scarce deserve, in the opinion of men, to be reckoned entities or beings. And strangers in it; as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, were, Hebrews 11:9, and so are the people of God, who are the heirs of the heavenly Canaan. These are strangers to the men of the world, who know them not; and the men of the world to them; with whom they have no conversation and fellowship in things sinful and criminal; for which they late despised by the world: yet these are the fellow citizens of heaven, and of the household of God, which shows his discriminating grace.
d מתי מספר "viros numeri", Montanus; so Vatablus, Gejerus, Michaelis. e כמעט "sicut parum", Montanus; so Vatablus; "aut exile aliquid", Gejerus; so Gussetius, p. 477.
When they went from one nation to another,.... From Chaldea to Mesopotamia; from thence to Canaan, and then into Egypt; and after that to Canaan again: which was the tour that Abraham took; and when in Canaan, and travelling from place to place there, might be said to go from nation to nation, since there were seven nations in that country.
From one kingdom to another people; from the kingdom of Palestine or Canaan to Egypt, which was a strange people; and of another language, as appears by the use of an interpreter between them, Genesis 42:23. So Isaac, Jacob, and his posterity, journeyed from one of these kingdoms to the other. Thus the children of God are pilgrims and strangers in this world; they are unsettled in it; they are travelling through it, and a troublesome journey they have of it; they are bound to another country, to which they belong; and their hearts are there beforehand; and they look upon this world as a strange place, and at best but as an inn; where they tarry but for a time, till they get to their own country, the better and heavenly one.
He suffered no man to do them wrong,.... Though strangers and unsettled, and moving from place to place; and few in number, and weak and defenceless. Thus the herdsmen of Gerar were not suffered to do any harm to Isaac and his herdsmen; but, on the contrary, the king of the place, with some of his chief men, sought an alliance, and entered into one with Isaac. Thus Laban was not suffered to hurt Jacob, nor the Sichemites to hurt him and his sons; the terror of God falling on all the cities round about, Genesis 26:20. The people of God are in this world exposed to the injuries of the men of it, being as sheep among wolves; and it is often in the power of their hands to hurt them, as it was in the power of Laban to hurt Jacob; nor do they want an inclination, there being a rooted enmity in the seed of the serpent to the seed of the woman: but God will not suffer them; though they would willingly, like Balaam, curse them, yet they cannot curse whom God has blessed; he will not suffer them to injure them.
Yea, he reproved kings for their sakes; as Pharaoh king of Egypt, and Abimelech king of Gerar; whom he reproved, both verbally and really, with words and stripes, Genesis 12:17. Kings are to be reproved by men, when they do amiss, as Herod was by John Baptist; and may expect to be reproved by the King of kings, when they do wrong, especially to his people; who are themselves kings and priests unto God, and are esteemed by him above the kings of the earth, and made higher than they.
Saying, Touch not mine anointed,.... Or, "mine anointed ones"; my Christs, as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, were, who, though not anointed with material oil, yet were all that, that such were, who in later times were anointed with it. They were prophets, priests, and kings; and which all met in one person, particularly in Abraham,
Genesis 20:7, besides, they were anointed with the oil of grace, with an unction from the Holy One, with the Holy Ghost, and his gifts and graces, as all true believers are: they are the Lord's Christs, or his anointed ones; which stand before him, and have the name of Christians from hence. These the Lord will not have touched, so as to be hurt; they are sacred persons: they are near unto God, in union with him;
and he that toucheth him toucheth the apple of his eye; so dear are they to him.
And do my prophets no harm; so Abraham is expressly called a prophet,
Genesis 20:7, and so were Isaac and Jacob; men to whom the Lord spoke familiarly in dreams and visions, as he used to do with prophets; and who taught and made known the mind and will of God to others, as well as foretold things to come; they being the Lord's servants, his prophets, they were revealed unto them, Numbers 12:7. These the Lord will have no harm done to them; he guards them by his power; he holds them in his right hand; and covers them under the shadow of his wing.
Moreover, he called for a famine upon the land,.... On the land of Egypt; or rather on the land of Canaan, where Jacob and his sons sojourned; and which reached to all lands, Genesis 41:56 and calling for it, it came, being a servant at the command of the Lord; see 2 Kings 8:1.
He brake the whole staff of bread; so called, because it is the support of man's life, the principal of his sustenance: as a staff is a support to a feeble person, and which, when broke, ceases to be so. The staff of bread is broken, when either the virtue and efficacy of it for nourishment is taken away or denied; or when there is a scarcity of bread corn; which latter seems to be intended here; see Isaiah 3:1.
He sent a man before them, even Joseph,.... Who, though but a lad of seventeen years of age when he was sold into Egypt, yet was a grown man when he stood before Pharaoh, and interpreted his dreams of plenty and famine to come; and advised him to lay up store in the years of plenty, against the years of famine; by which he appeared to be a wise man, as the Targum here calls him; see Genesis 37:3. Him God sent before into Egypt; before Jacob and his sons went down thither, to make provision for them, to support them in the time of famine, and preserve their lives. God is said to send him, though his brethren sold him out of envy; there being such a plain hand of Providence in this matter; and which is observed by Joseph himself over and over again,
Genesis 45:5, in which he was a type of Christ, in whom all provisions are made, and by whom they are communicated unto his people; who all receive out of his fulness, and grace for grace.
Who was sold for a servant: either "to a servant": as to Potiphar, as Aben Ezra, who was a servant of Pharaoh's; or rather to be a servant, as Joseph was in his house: he was sold for twenty pieces of silver, as Christ, his antitype, for thirty; the price of a servant,
Genesis 37:28, and who not only appeared in the form of a servant, but did the work of one: and a faithful and righteous servant he was to his Father, and on the behalf of his people.
Whose feet they hurt with fetters,.... For it seems Joseph was not only cast into prison, upon the calumny of his mistress; but had fetters put upon him, and his feet were made fast with them; and these were so close and heavy, as to pinch and gall and hurt him; which, though not mentioned in his history, was undoubtedly true; see
He was laid in iron: or "the iron" (or, as the Targum, "the iron chain") "went into his Soul" f; his body; it ate into him, and gave him great pain: or rather, as it is in the king's Bible, "his soul went into the iron chain"; there being, as Aben Ezra observes, an ellipsis of the particle ב, and which is supplied by Symmachus, and so in the Targum; that is, his body was enclosed in iron bands, so Buxtorf g. In all this he was a type of Christ, whose soul was made exceeding sorrowful unto death: he was seized by the Jews, led bound to the high priest, fastened to the cursed tree, pierced with nails, and more so with the sins of his people he bore; and was laid in the prison of the grave; from whence and from judgment he was brought, Isaiah 53:8.
f So Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus. g Lexic. "in voce" ברזל.
Until the time that his word came,.... Either the word of Joseph, interpreting the dreams of the butler and baker, till that came to be fulfilled; so the Syriac version, "till his word was proved by the event": or rather till the fame and report of that came to Pharaoh's ears, Genesis 41:13, or else the word of the Lord, concerning his advancement and exaltation, signified in dreams to him,
Genesis 37:7, as it follows:
the word of the Lord tried him: it tried his faith and patience before it was accomplished; and when it was, it purged him and purified him, as silver in a furnace, and cleared him of the imputation and calumny of his mistress; for, even in the view of Pharaoh, he appeared to be a man in whom the Spirit of God was, Genesis 41:38. Some think that Christ, the essential Word, is intended, who came and visited him, tried and cleared him.
The king sent and loosed him,.... That is, Pharaoh king of Egypt sent messengers to the prison, and ordered Joseph to be loosed, as soon as ever he heard the account which the chief butler gave of him, and of his skill in interpreting dreams.
Even the ruler of the people; or "peoples": the subjects of Pharaoh's kingdom being very numerous.
And let him go free, ordered his fetters to be taken off, and him to be set at liberty, to go where he pleased; or, however, that he might come to court, whither he was brought, and which was the end of his releasement; see Genesis 41:14, in this he was a type of Christ in his resurrection from the dead; who for a while was under the dominion of death, was held with the pains and cords of it, and was under the power and in the prison of the grave; but it was not possible, considering the dignity of his person, and the performance of his work as a surety, that he should be held here. Wherefore the cords and pains of death were loosed, and he was brought out of prison; God his Father, the King of kings, sent an angel from heaven, to roll away the stone of the sepulchre, and let the prisoner free; so that he was legally and judicially discharged and acquitted; as it was proper he should, having satisfied both law and justice; he was justified in the Spirit when he rose from the dead, and all his people were justified in him, for he rose again for their justification.
He made him lord of his house,.... That is, Pharaoh made Joseph lord chamberlain of his household; after he had him to court, and he had interpreted his dreams to him to his great satisfaction, and had given him such prudent advice to provide against the years of famine; see Genesis 41:33. So Christ, after his resurrection, was received up into heaven, and was made and declared Lord and Christ, Lord of all, having all power in heaven and earth given to him; particularly had the care of the church committed to him, which is the house of God, of his building, and where he dwells; where his children are born, brought up, and provided for. Here Christ is as a Son over his own house, as the owner and proprietor of it; here he is King, Priest, and Prophet; and is the provider for all in it, both of food and clothing:
of him the whole family in heaven and in earth is named, Ephesians 3:15, though he makes use of under stewards, to give to everyone their portion of meat in due season.
And ruler of all his substance, or "possession" h; lord treasurer of all his revenue, Genesis 41:40. Herein also he was a type of Christ, who, as God, is possessor of heaven and earth, being the Creator of them; but, as Mediator, he has all things delivered into his hands; all are at his dispose, to subserve the ends of his mediatorial office; he has all temporal things, gold and silver, riches and honour, to bestow upon men at pleasure; more especially all spiritual things are with him; the gifts of the Spirit, which he has without measure; and the fulness of all grace, which it has pleased the Father should dwell in him; the blessings of the everlasting covenant, and the promises of it; all the riches of grace, pardoning, justifying, and adopting grace, and all the riches of glory.
h קנינו "possessione sua", Pagninus, Montanus; so Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, &c.
To bind his princes at his pleasure,.... Not to lay them in prison, and bind them with fetters, as he had been bound; but to give laws unto them as he pleased, and bind and oblige them to observe them: for, according to his word, all the people of Egypt, high and low, rich and poor, were to be ruled; and, without his leave, no man was to lift up his hand or foot in all the land, Genesis 41:40. All Christ's people are princes, to whom he gives laws at his pleasure, as one having authority, though they are not grievous; and these he binds, obliges, and constrains his people by love to observe, and which they do. Jarchi's note is,
"this is an expression of love like that; and the soul of Jonathan was bound unto the soul of David: when he (Joseph) interpreted the dream, they all loved him.''
The Targum is,
"to bind his nobles as to his soul.''
And teach his senators wisdom; his elders, his privy counsellors: he made him president of his council; where he was a curb upon them, and restrained them from taking wrong or bad measures; so Schultens i, from the use of the word in the Arabic language, renders it, "to bridle", or restrain his senators; which conveys an idea agreeable to the preceding clause. Nor were these the only persons he taught; he not only instructed the nobles and courtiers in politics, but the priests and men of learning in the arts and sciences; and all, no doubt, in the mysteries of the true religion, as he had an opportunity. And this is the source of the wisdom of the Egyptians, which Moses was afterwards brought up in; and for which that people were so famous, that many of the ancient philosophers, as Pythagoras, Plato, and others, travelled thither to acquire it. This they had from Joseph, and his people that dwelt in their land. Christ's senators are his apostles and ministers, the elders that rule well, and labour in the word and doctrine: these are taught wisdom by him; the knowledge of divine and spiritual things; the words and doctrines of the wise are all from him, that one Shepherd; that they, as undershepherds and pastors, may feed others with knowledge and understanding.
i De Defect. Hod. Ling. Heb. s. 215.
Israel also came into Egypt,.... That is, Jacob, as afterwards expressed, who had the name of Israel, from his wrestling with God and prevailing. He came into Egypt, being invited by Pharaoh, and having heard of his son Joseph being alive, and of his exaltation.
And Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham: the same with Egypt; Mizraim, from whence Egypt has its name, being the son of Ham, Genesis 10:6. Hence Egypt is called by Plutarch k Chemia; and Diodorus Siculus l speaks of a city in Thebais, or Upper Egypt, which was called by the inhabitants Chemmis, interpreted by them the city of Pan; and Plutarch m mentions a place called Chennis, inhabited by Pans and Satyrs. The same is mentioned by Herodotus n, which he calls a large city of the Thebaic nome; a city of the same name is observed by Heliodorus o; and both Herodotus p and Mela q speak of an island called Chemmis, which the Egyptians represent as floating. In all which there are plain traces of the name of Ham, the same with Jupiter Ammon; or Amun, as Plutarch; worshipped in Egypt; and from whom all Africa was sometimes called Ammonia r, the country of Ammon or Ham. And Herodotus s speaks of a people called Ammonii, about ten days' journey from Thebes in Upper Egypt; who, according to him t, had their name from Jupiter Ammon, or Ham. And Pliny u makes mention of the oracle of Hammon, as twelve days' journey from Memphis, and of the Hammoniac nome; and the Egyptian priests are called Ammmonean w. Here Jacob was a sojourner, as all the Lord's people are in this world; they are sojourners, as all their fathers were; and their time here is a time of sojourning,
1 Chronicles 29:15. They are not natives of the place where they are; they are indeed so by their first birth, but not by their new birth; being born from above, they belong to another place, are citizens of another city; their house, estate, and inheritance, are in heaven: neither their settlement nor satisfaction are here; they do not reckon themselves at home while they are in this world; they are indeed in an enemy's country, in a cursed land; or that is nigh unto cursing, and its end to be burned. Such the land of Ham was, where Jacob sojourned.
k De Iside. l Biblioth. l. 1. p. 16. m Ut supra. (De Iside.) n Euterpe sive, l. 2. c. 91. o Ethiopic. l. 5. c. 9. & l. 6. c. 4. p Ut supra, (Euterpe sive, l. 2.) c. 156. q De Situ Orbis, l. 1. c. 9. r Stephanus de Urb. s Melpomene sive, l. 4. c. 181. t Euterpe sive, l. 2. c. 32, 42. u Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 9. w Sanchoniatho apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 1. p. 32.
And he increased his people greatly,.... God increased the people of Israel greatly in the land of Egypt; they went down few, and became a populous nation; only sixty six persons, besides Jacob's sons' wives; and when they came out from thence were six hundred thousand footmen; yea, they increased the more they were afflicted, Exodus 1:12. So the people of God in this world sometimes increase in number, and that even amidst the persecutions of their enemies; as the Christians did in the first times of the Gospel under the Roman emperors; and they increase in grace, in every grace, and oftentimes the more they are tried and exercised by afflictions.
And made them stronger than their enemies; in their bodies, being more healthy, strong, and robust; and which was seen, observed, and owned by their enemies, Exodus 1:9. So saints, being strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might, are a match for their enemies; are stronger than they, and are even more than conquerors through Christ, that has loved them.
He turned their heart to hate his people,.... Whom before they loved and esteemed: when Pharaoh and his servants heard of Joseph's father and brethren, they were greatly pleased, and invited them into Egypt; and, when come, placed them in the land of Goshen; but when a new king arose, and a new generation, which knew not Joseph, the hearts of these were turned to hate them. This is said to be of the Lord: not that he put any hatred into them, there was no need of that; there is enough of that naturally in every man's heart against good men, and all that is good: but he did not restrain that hatred, as he could have done, but suffered them to let it have vent; and moreover, he did those things which were an occasion of it, and which served to stir up their hatred; as increasing their numbers, and making them stronger and mightier than they, Exodus 1:9.
To deal subtilly with his servants; by putting them to hard labour, and using them with great rigour, in order to weaken their strength; by commanding the midwives to kill every son that was born; and by publishing an edict, to cast every male child into the river and drown it, and so hinder the increase of them. Thus the people of God have their enemies that hate them; that are subtle and cunning, wise to do evil, full of all subtilty and wicked craft; Satan, at the head of them, has his artful methods, wiles, stratagems, and devices: but the Lord is wiser than all, and knows how to deliver his people out of the hands of all their enemies, as he did the children of Israel; of which there is an account in the following verses.
He sent Moses his servant,.... Into Egypt, to deliver his people Israel out of the hands of the Egyptians; in which, as in other things, he approved himself to be a faithful servant to the Lord; of this mission of his, see Exodus 3:10. In this he was a type of Christ, who appeared in the form of a servant, and really was one; God's righteous servant as Mediator, though his Son as a divine Person; sent by him to redeem his people out of worse than Egyptian bondage, from sin, Satan, the law, its curse and condemnation.
And Aaron whom he had chosen; to go along with Moses, to be a mouth for him, and a prophet to him, Exodus 4:16, who also was a type of Christ, being a priest and good spokesman, chosen and called of God, a holy and an anointed one. The Targum is,
"in whom he was well pleased.''
They showed his signs among them,.... The Egyptians to whom they were sent; that is, Moses and Aaron did. In the original it is, "the words of his signs" x. They declared the words of God to them, that he would do such signs and wonders among them; or inflict such plagues upon them, in case they did not let Israel go: or they performed them according to the word of the Lord, as he commanded them, as well as taught the doctrines and instructions to be learned from them. The Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions render it in the singular number, though contrary to the Hebrew text, and understand it of God, "he put the words of his signs in them"; in Moses and Aaron; or gave them orders and power to perform them: he put them "in both", as the Arabic version has it; or, "he did his signs by them", as the Syriac version.
And wonders in the land of Ham; or Egypt, as in Psalms 105:23, meaning the miracles of the plagues, which are next particularly mentioned, though not all of them: the plagues of the murrain, and of the boils and blains, are omitted; the reason of which, according to Aben Ezra, is, because Pharaoh did not seek to Moses to remove them; and the other eight that are mentioned are not placed in the order in which they were done, the last but one being observed first.
x דברי אתותיו "verba signorum suorum", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Junius & Tremellius, &c.
He sent darkness, and made it dark,.... The land of Egypt; either he, God, or it, darkness, made it dark, or it was made dark; the Targum is,
"made them dark;''
that is, the Egyptians; darkness was a messenger of the Lord's, who forms the light and creates darkness; it came at his word and covered all the land, excepting the dwellings of Israel; even a thick darkness that might be felt, so that the Egyptians could not see one another, nor rise from their place for three days together; such as sometimes rises at sea, and is said to be so dark, that for five days together day and night are the same; this was the ninth of the ten plagues,
Exodus 10:21 and was an emblem of the darkness which is on the minds of men in an unregenerate state; who are covered with gross darkness, and are even darkness itself; which is universal as to persons, and the powers and faculties of their souls concerning divine things: and it also bears some resemblance to the darkness which will be in the kingdom of the beast upon the pouring out of the fifth vial, or plague, on spiritual Egypt, Revelation 16:10.
And they rebelled not against his word: the plague of darkness, and the rest of the plagues which God commanded; these, as they were his servants, were not disobedient to him, they came at his word; see
Psalms 105:31, so Jarchi interprets it; or else Moses and Aaron, who were sent of God to inflict those plagues, did not refuse to obey the divine orders; though Pharaoh threatened them hard, yet they feared not the wrath and menaces of the king, but did as the Lord commanded them. Aben Ezra, Kimchi, and Ben Melech, mention both these senses, but the latter seems most agreeable. The Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions, leave out the word "not"; and so some copies of the Vulgate Latin version, and Apollinarius in his metaphrase, "and they rebelled against his word"; that is, the Egyptians did not hearken to the word of the Lord, nor to the signs and wonders he wrought, but their hearts were hardened, and they would not let Israel go. But this is contrary to the original text; though Arama interprets it of them, that they did not rebel, but confessed this miracle, which being the greatest of all, as he observes, is first mentioned. Dr. Lightfoot y thinks it is to be understood of Israel, and of some special part of obedience performed by them; which he takes to be circumcision, which they had omitted in Egypt, at least many of them, and was necessary to their eating of the passover, which was to be done in a few days, Exodus 12:48 and it was a fit time to perform this service while darkness for three days was upon the Egyptians; in which they were shut up by the Lord, that they might not take the opportunity against his people, now sore through circumcision.
y Works, vol. 1. p. 707.
He turned their waters into blood,.... With which Egypt abounded; their streams, rivers, ponds, and pools, so that they had no water to drink; a just judgment upon them for shedding the innocent blood of infants, by drowning them in their rivers; this was the first of the ten plagues, Exodus 7:19, with this compare the second and third vials poured out on spiritual Egypt, whereby blood will be given to antichrist, and to the antichristian states, for they are worthy, having shed so much of the blood of the saints, Revelation 16:3.
And slew their fish; which showed that the miracle was real, that the waters were really turned into blood, since the fish could not live in them, as they might if it had been only in appearance; the rivers of Egypt abounded with fish, this was a principal part of their food, and therefore must greatly distress them; see Numbers 11:5.
Their land brought forth frogs in abundance,.... The land of Egypt, the moist, marshy, and watery places of it, the banks of the river Nile, out of the slime and mud of which these sprung; or, as Kimchi observes, wherever there were waters in the land there were frogs, for these came out of the streams, rivers, and ponds; this is the second plague, Exodus 8:3.
In the chambers of their kings; that is, they came into the chambers of their kings; not that they were produced there; they entered not only into the kneadingtroughs, and ovens, and bedchambers of the common people, but into the chambers of the king, and his sons, and his nobles, and princes of the land, who may be called in the plural number kings; see Isaiah 10:8, with these compare the three unclean spirits, like frogs, under the pouring out of the sixth vial, that will go forth to the kings of the earth, and gather them to the battle of the Lord God Almighty; by whom are meant the emissaries of Rome, priests and Jesuits; so called for their impurity and impudence, for their noise and loquaciousness, and for he ways and means they use to get into the cabinet councils of princes, and prevail upon them to do things which will issue in their ruin; see Revelation 16:13.
He spake, and there came divers sorts of flies,.... Or a "mixture" z of various insects, and, as some interpret it, of wild beasts; and so Kimchi says evil beasts are meant, which were raised up to go into all their borders; the Arabic version renders it "dogflies", after the Septuagint; :-, this was the fourth plague, Exodus 8:24.
And lice in all their coasts; this is the third plague, and what the magicians could not imitate, but were obliged to own the finger of God was in it, Exodus 8:16. God can make use of mean and despicable instruments to do his work; the weakness of God is stronger than men.
z ערב "mixtura insectarum", Pagninus, Montanus; "colluvies insectarum", Piscator, Gejerus, Michaelis; "mista bestiarum", Vatablus; "colluvies animalium", Junius & Tremellius.
He gave them hail for rain,.... Egypt, at least part of it, was not used to rain, but was watered by the overflowings of the Nile; but now it had hail for rain, and a grievous hail storm it was, such as was never seen in the land of Egypt before; hail being rare, if ever there, and so frost and snow a; this was the seventh plague, Exodus 9:18, compare with this the terrible storm of hail which will fall on men at the pouring out of the seventh vial on spiritual Egypt, Revelation 16:21.
And flaming fire in their land; for a storm of thunder and lightning went along with the hail; fire was mingled with it, and ran upon the ground, Exodus 9:23.
a Horat. Carmin. l. 3. Ode 26.
He smote their vines also, and their fig trees,.... So that they died; for in Psalms 78:47, it is said, he "killed" them; and it is not only used in common speech with us, but with classical writers b to speak of killing inanimate things, as trees, herbs, c. That is, the hail smote them, or God by the hail these are particularly mentioned because most useful, producing grapes and figs.
And brake the trees of their coasts: all the trees within the borders of their land, Exodus 9:25.
b "----interice messes", Virgil. Georgic. l. 4. "Neque herbas crescere et interfici", Ciceron. Oeconom: ex Xenophon, l. 3.
He spake, and the locusts came,.... A great army of them, and covered the land, that it was even darkened by them; and were such as had never been seen before, or ever were since; this is the eighth plague, Exodus 10:12, with these compare the locusts in Revelation 9:3.
And caterpillars, and that without number; of these no mention is made in Exodus; they seem to be one of the kinds of locusts, or a different word is here used for the same, and so Kimchi interprets it; some render it the white locust; it has its name from licking up the herbs and grass of the field; as the other name for the locust seems to be taken from its great abundance and increase.
And did eat up all the herbs in their land,.... As these creatures usually do, unless restrained, Exodus 10:5. And devoured the fruit of their ground; which the hail left, Exodus 10:15.
He smote also all the firstborn in their land,.... Both of men and beasts; the firstborn of the king on the throne, and of the maidservant behind the mill, and of the captive in the dungeon; this was the last plague, and which prevailed upon the Egyptians to let Israel go, Exodus 11:5.
The chief of all their strength; or the first of their strength; the same in different words as before, their firstborn; see Genesis 49:3.
He brought them forth also with silver and gold,.... That is, God brought forth the Israelites out of Egypt by means of the above plagues, laden with great riches, with jewels of gold and of silver, which they borrowed of the Egyptians at the command of the Lord; and so to be justified in what they did; and besides it was but just and equitable that they should be paid for their service and hard labour in Egypt for a long course of time; and this was the method in Providence they were directed to take to do themselves justice; and hereby was accomplished an ancient prophecy concerning them, that they should come out with much substance, Genesis 15:14, Besides, in the passages quoted, the words should be rendered of the Israelites that they "asked", and of the Egyptians that they "gave"; the Jews, some of them, say c that these were given not with the will of the Egyptians, and others say not with the will of the Israelites, but neither of them true. And so in like manner will the people of God, when rescued from the tyranny of the antichristian states, enjoy great riches and honour; see Revelation 17:16.
And [there was] not one feeble [person] among their tribes; though there were six hundred thousand footmen, Numbers 11:21, and though they had been used to hard and rigorous service in order to weaken their strength; and though they came from among a people plagued with diseases and deaths. This confronts a lying story told by some Heathen writers d, that the Israelites were driven out of Egypt because they had the itch, leprosy, and other diseases upon them. Aben Ezra and Kimchi interpret it, there was not a poor or necessitous man among them, for they abounded with gold and silver; compare with this the case of God's people in the latter day, Zechariah 12:8.
c T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 9. 2. d Justin. e Trogo, l. 36. c. 2. Tacitus, l. 5. 3. Lysimachus apud Joseph. contr. Apion. l. 1. s. 34.
Egypt was glad when they departed,.... The Egyptians, as the Targum; they were glad when the Israelites were gone, for whose sake they had been so much and so long plagued. So wicked men are glad to be rid of the company of good men, which is very disagreeable to them; so the Gergesenes were glad when Christ departed out of their coasts, which they requested he would. So the inhabitants of the earth will rejoice, be merry, and send gifts one to another, when the witnesses are slain, the two prophets that tormented them with their doctrines and religious lives.
For the fear of them fell upon them; their firstborn being slain, they looked upon themselves as dead men; and feared that, if the Israelites stayed, their lives must go next; and therefore being seized with a panic they were urgent upon them to depart; not out of any good will to them, but through fear of them, Exodus 12:33.
He spread a cloud for a covering,.... That is, the Lord spread one over their heads as an "umbrella", to protect them from the heat of the sun; this refers to the pillar of cloud, Exodus 13:20, though that seems to have been in an erect posture, and to go before the children of Israel to direct them in their journey, and not a covering to them. Kimchi says it was a covering to them when they rested, but not when they journeyed: but when they rested it only covered the tabernacle, not the people, for anything we read of it, Numbers 9:21, it looks as if there were more clouds than one, and indeed the Jews speak of many, and particularly make mention e of one that was over the heads of the Israelites, that the heat of the sun, and the hail and rain, might not have power over them; and of such use this cloud was, at least at certain times, if not always; a type of Christ, who is the covering and shelter of his people from the heat of the fiery law, of the flaming sword of justice, of the wrath of God, of the fiery darts of Satan, and of the fury of wicked men.
And fire, to give light in the night: this respects the pillar of fire which gave them light by night; an emblem of Christ, who is the light of his people, when it is a night season with them, as it sometimes is; a night of affliction and distress, of darkness and desertion, of temptation, of carnal security and sleepiness; when Christ arises as a light in darkness, and enlightens by his presence, by his Spirit, and by his word; as well as is as fire to warm, refresh, quicken, and comfort them when chill and cold, in such seasons.
e Vid. Targum in Cant. ii. 6.
The people asked, and he brought quails,.... The Targum is,
"they asked flesh, and he brought quails,''
or pheasants; some render it partridges, others locusts: that is, the people of Israel asked flesh of the Lord, and he gave them quails; which he did twice, first at the same time the manna was first given,
Exodus 16:13, and some years after that a second time, when the wrath of God came upon them and slew them while their meat was in their mouths,
Numbers 11:31, it is the first time that is here referred to, since it is mentioned among the benefits and blessings bestowed upon them; this was typical of the spiritual meat believers eat of, even the flesh of Christ, whose flesh is meat indeed. The quail was a fat and fleshy bird, delicious food, sent from heaven in the evening; so Christ came from heaven in the evening of the world, and gave his flesh for the life of his people, and on which they live by faith.
And satisfied them with the bread of heaven: the manna, called the corn of heaven; a type of Christ the hidden manna, who is soul satisfying food to believers; Numbers 11:31- :,
Numbers 11:31- :.
He opened the rock, and the waters gushed out,.... That is, God opened the rock, who before is said to spread the cloud, and bring the quails, for it was a miraculous affair; or Moses, by divine orders, which was done by smiting it, when waters flowed out in great abundance, sufficient to give drink to men and beasts, and which continued, Exodus 17:6. This was typical of Christ the Rock,
1 Corinthians 10:4, and of the opening of his side, from whence flowed blood and water, John 19:34 and of his being smitten with the rod of justice, and by the law of Moses, from whom flow abundance of grace, and the blessings of it, freely to all his people; John 19:34- :.
John 19:34- :.
They ran in the dry places like a river; and did not sink and soak into them, but continued their flow, and followed the Israelites, wherever they went; see 1 Corinthians 10:4.
For he remembered his holy promise,.... It was not owing to the goodness of this people, to their obedience to the divine will, to any worthiness or merit of theirs, that such signs and wonders were wrought for them in Egypt; and that they were brought out from thence in such a manner as they were; and were protected and so plentifully provided for in the wilderness; but it was owing to the grace and goodness of God, to his covenant and promise, which he sacredly and inviolably observed; the grace and covenant of God are the source and spring of all blessings of goodness; he is ever mindful of his covenant, and therefore sends meat to them that fear him, as he did to the Israelites, Psalms 111:5.
And Abraham his servant; or the promise he made to Abraham his servant; so the Targum,
"which "was" with Abraham his servant;''
that is, which holy word or promise was with Abraham, was spoken to him; and was with him, that he would give him and his seed the land of Canaan; and that though they should be afflicted long in Egypt, yet should come out from thence with great substance, Genesis 15:13, this he remembered, as he never forgets any promise of his, nor ever suffers his faithfulness to fail, nor his covenant to be broken. Hence it follows,
And he brought forth his people with joy,.... Or "therefore" f, in consequence of his promise, and the remembrance of it, he brought Israel out of Egypt with great joy to them, they coming out with so much health and wealth; having their liberty, and in hope of shortly being settled in a land flowing with milk and honey. And
his chosen with gladness: or "singing" g; especially when they had got through the Red sea, their enemies drowned, and they quite clear of them, Exodus 15:1. And when they are called "his chosen", this opens another source of those blessings to them, not only the promise and covenant of God, but their election of God, which was free and sovereign, to choose them above all people; not because they were better or more than others, but because he loved them; and hence he did all the above things for them. In like manner when God's elect are in the effectual calling, brought out of bondage to liberty, out of darkness to light, out of an horrible pit, and have their feet set on a rock; are brought to Christ and into his church, and have a place and a name there; it is with exceeding great joy and gladness to them; and to the church above shall they at last be brought with everlasting joy on their heads, Isaiah 35:10.
f ויוצא "ideo adduxit", Junius Tremellius, Michaelis. g ברנה "in ovatione", Montanus "cum jubilo", Tigurine version, Michaelis; "cum cantu", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius.
And gave them the lands of the Heathen,.... The countries of the seven nations that dwelt in Canaan; the Lord did it, who had a right to do it, being the possessor of heaven and earth; and who was provoked unto it by the sins of these Heathens, as well as promised it to his people the Israelites.
And they inherited the labour of the people; dwelled in the houses they had built, which they found full of all good things; enjoyed the vineyards and olive trees they had planted, and possessed the wells which they had dug, Deuteronomy 6:10. In like manner the heavenly Canaan is enjoyed by the saints without any labour of theirs; this inheritance is not of the law, nor of the works of it, it is the gift of God, Romans 4:14.
That they might observe his statutes, and keep his laws,.... All this the Lord did for them, to engage them by his goodness to them to observe the statutes he appointed them, and the laws he gave them; the contrary to which the Canaanites had done, which caused him to cast them out of the land; but on these his people he heaped benefits, thereby to influence them to a cheerful obedience to his will; and this was all he required of them, and the least that they could do, being so highly favoured by him. And this is the end of our spiritual and eternal redemption by Christ, and of our effectual calling by his grace and Spirit, that we be zealous of good works; live unto righteousness, live to him that died for us; glorify him with our bodies and spirits, which are his; and be holy in all manner of conversation.
Praise ye the Lord, all the Israelites ought to have done so, upon the remembrance of the manifold instances of the divine goodness to them, recorded in this psalm; and so the spiritual Israel of God ought to praise him for their redemption by Christ, out of a worse than Egyptian bondage, the bondage of sin, Satan, and the law; and for their calling into liberty, and to marvellous light; for their meetness for heaven, and right unto it; they should praise him now with joyful lips, as they will in the other world to all eternity.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Psalms 105". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent