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Tuesday, July 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 106

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Psalms 106:1-48.-Call to thanksgiving for God's mercy to His people-namely, such as always do righteousness. Israel, though remembering her unrighteousness, prays God to visit her with the gratuitous salvation which He gives to His people (Psalms 106:1-5); confession of the nation's sins in Egypt, entailing punishment (Psalms 106:6-12); in the wilderness (Psalms 106:13-33); and in Canaan, where their consummated sin led to the oppressive rule of the pagan (Psalms 106:34-43); but as God often heretofore regarded their affliction and cry, and remembered for them His covenant, so now He has begun to make them pitied by their captors: therefore they resume the prayer of Psalms 106:4-5, that God will gather them from among the pagan to thank His holy name forever (Psalms 106:44-48). The time is before the close of the captivity in Babylon, answering to the time of Daniel's prayer, at the beginning of the Medo-Persian dynasty (Daniel 9:1-27, to which our psalm is the lyrical echo, Hengstenberg.) The 'Hallelujah' at the beginning, and also at the close, marks this psalm third of the trilogy, Psalms 104:1-35; Psalms 105:1-45; Psalms 106:1-48.

This psalm solves the difficulty in the way of Israel's restoration (Psalms 105:45) - namely, that in order to regain Canaan according to God's covenant, they ought to have kept God's laws. Their unfaithfulness seems to deprive them of the help which nature (Psalms 104:1-35) and history (Psalms 105:1-45) assures them of. Here God's grace, pledged in His covenant of old, is shown to outweigh their sins: now that they repent and seek His grace, He will restore them to the praise of His grace forever. The Spirit overruled the words (1 Chronicles 16:34-36) which in David's time applied to the captive Jews whom the invading Edomites had taken (Psalms 60:1-12, title), to suit the nation in the Babylonian captivity, and still more in its present dispersion.

Verses 2-5

Who can utter the mighty acts of the LORD? who can shew forth all his praise? Praise ye the Lord - Hebrew, 'Hallelujah.' This connects our psalm with Psalms 105:45.

O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. The call to praise in Psalms 105:1-2; Psalms 105:5 was on the ground of the Lord's 'deeds, His wondrous works, and the judgments of His mouth;' here it is on the ground of His goodness and "mercy."

Verse 2. Who can utter the mighty acts of the Lord? who can show forth all his praise? The higher Yahweh is raised above our powers of adequately praising Him, the more earnestly ought we to give Him the best praise we can (Psalms 40:5; Psalms 71:15).

Verse 3. Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that doeth righteousness at all times - resuming from Psalms 105:45 the condition attached to the Lord's promise of blessing, (cf. Psalms 103:18; Psalms 101:1-8.) The same condition is recognized in Daniel's corresponding confession of sin about the same time, Daniel 9:4, "O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep His commandments."

Verse 4. Remember me, O Lord, with the favour (that thou bearest unto) thy people. The Psalmist, as representative of Israel, does not allow himself to be deterred by the consciousness of not having fulfilled the condition (Psalms 106:3) from seeking participation in the "mercy" of the Lord, which he had just praised (Psalms 106:1). God's "favour," not Israel's deserts, is his plea. "Remember me" is Israel's cry; because God seemed to have forgotten her. God's favour belongs to God's people by the right of His promise, and carries with it salvation; therefore she adds, "O visit me with thy salvation;"

Verse 5. That I may see the good of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, that I may glory with thine inheritance. The plea here is, notwithstanding all our past rebellion and perversity, we still are "thy chosen," "thy nation," and "thine inheritance" (Isaiah 43:20; Isaiah 45:4). This was Moses' plea in interceding for them when they had made the molten calf (Deuteronomy 9:29). "Nation" (Hebrew, Gowy (H1471)) is a term usually applied to the Gentile nations; but is sometimes (as Zephaniah 2:9) applied to Israel, when the usual Hebrew, `am (H5971), for the elect people, has preceded. If the term be intentional here, the meaning may be, Though we are to be classed with the nations by our sins, yet we are "THY nation."

Verse 6

We have sinned with our fathers, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly.

We have sinned with our fathers, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly. The same three verbs occur in the same order and connection in the prayer of Solomon at the dedication of the temple (1 Kings 8:47), from which our psalm derived this formula; also in the contemporaneous prayer, Daniel 9:5. The words, "with our fathers," express that the Jews in the Psalmist's day, with their fathers, formed together one corrupt mass. They followed their fathers, and so partook in their guilt. The terms, "sinned ... committed iniquity ... done wickedly," form a climax-Hebrew, chaaTaa' (H2400), `aawen (H5753), resha` (H7562): sinful error, iniquity, impious wickedness (Psalms 1:1).

Verse 7

Our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt; they remembered not the multitude of thy mercies; but provoked him at the sea, even at the Red sea.

Our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt. They understood them not because they did not wish to understand them. The fault was in the will, which blinded the understanding. In Psalms 106:7-33 the sins of the fathers of Israel-the generation of Moses' time-are detailed. Compare Psalms 78:8; Psalms 78:12. The sins of Israel in Canaan and their own sins are detailed in Psalms 106:34-43.

They remembered not the multitude of thy mercies - (Psalms 78:11 ; Psalms 78:42 .) but provoked (him) at the sea - by distrust and complaining (Exodus 14:11-12). They were fresh from having witnessed the gracious God's miraculous judgments on Egypt for their deliverance, yet they still distrusted His power and His love-a sin on the part of His people which most of all 'provokes' God.

(Even) at the Red sea. "The sea ... the Red sea" is the phrase (Exodus 15:4) in the song of Moses at the scene of Israel's deliverance. Close to the scene, and just after the act of their deliverance, they rebelled again, as they did before it (Exodus 15:22-24).

Verse 8

Nevertheless he saved them for his name's sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known.

Nevertheless he saved them for his name's sake - (Ezekiel 20:14.) The Father's name is in the Son; "for His name's sake" is therefore for the Son's sake (Exodus 23:21).

Verse 9

He rebuked the Red sea also, and it was dried up: so he led them through the depths, as through the wilderness.

He rebuked the Red sea - (note, Psalms 104:7.) so he led them through the depths, as through the wilderness - with no less safety than through the wilderness (Isaiah 63:13).

Verses 10-11

And he saved them from the hand of him that hated them, and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 12

Then believed they his words; they sang his praise.

Then believed they his words - (Exodus 14:31.)

They sang his praise - (Exodus 15:1.) This verse is not designed to praise Israel, but God, who constrained, by His overwhelming display of grace, even so unbelieving a people momentarily to 'believe' while in immediate view of His wonders, a faith which they immediately after lost (Psalms 106:13; cf. Psalms 106:24).

Verses 13-22

They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel:

-Three transgressions of Israel in the wilderness are detailed, rising in gradation of moral guilt, without respect to time:

(1) Their unbelieving impatience in demanding flesh (Psalms 106:13-15);

(2) Their joining Dathan and Abiram in the envious attack on Moses and Aaron, the consecrated servants of Yahweh (Psalms 106:16-18);

(3) Their direct affront to God Himself in forming a golden calf for worship. The sins of Israel in the wilderness are dwelt on at greatest length, because it was by them that the then existing generation forfeited Canaan, implying to their posterity, now captive in Babylon, that their exclusion from Canaan was due to the same cause.

Verse 13. They soon forgat his works - Hebrew, 'they hasted, they forgat.' The verbs, unconnected by a bull Mnevis as the prototype of the golden calf, and the offerings, dancings, and rejoicings of Israel to have been imitations of the ceremonial in honour of Mnevis ('Ancient Egypt').

Verse 20. Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass. There may be an allusion to the Egyptian usage of bringing a bottle of hay when they consulted Apis (Godwyn, 'Moses and Aaron,' 4:5). Yahweh seems to have been the ostensible object of worship, under the form of the cherub-like calf; because Aaron says, Exodus 32:4-5, "These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord (Yahweh)." The approximation to Egypt's idols was the more perverse, when it was so recently that 'upon their gods the Lord executed judgments' (Numbers 33:4). "Their glory," which distinguished them above other nations, was that Yahweh was peculiarly their God (Deuteronomy 4:7; Deuteronomy 10:21, "He is thy praise;" Romans 1:23; Jeremiah 2:10-13). God signified His presence with Israel by the Shechinah cloud of glory over the cherubim in the sanctuary. Though they meant to worship Yahweh under the symbol of the calf, yet, as any "similitude" is incompatible with His essence as Spirit (Deuteronomy 4:15-17; John 4:24), they really gave up Him (1 Kings 14:9), and were therefore given up by Him.

Verse 21,22. They forgat God their Saviour, which had done ... Wondrous works in the land of Ham - (Psalms 105:23; Psalms 105:27.) Here this strophe at its close reverts to what formed its beginning, Psalms 106:13.

Verse 23

Therefore he said that he would destroy them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, to turn away his wrath, lest he should destroy them.

Therefore he said that he would destroy them, (and this would have come to pass), had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, to turn away his wrath, lest he should destroy them. The length of this verse. as compared with the verses before and after it, implies its designed prominence as the central point of the psalm, separating the two former from the two latter strophes. "He said" - namely, to Moses (Deuteronomy 9:8; Deuteronomy 9:18). With God saying is doing; but His purpose, while it speaks wrath against sin, takes into account the mediation of Him of whom all human intercessors (as Moses) are the type, and to whose intercession they owe whatever efficacy there is in their intercessions (Exodus 32:11-14; Deuteronomy 9:18-19).

Moses his chosen - servant (Psalms 105:26).

Stood before him in the breach - as a warrior covers with his body the breach in the wall of a besieged fortress, and so bears all the brunt of the adversary's wrath. Our great Intercessor similarly bore the whole weight of the divine wrath laid on Him for us (Isaiah 59:16-17). Compare the same image, Ezekiel 13:5; Ezekiel 22:30, where see notes.

To turn away his wrath. The phrase is from Numbers 25:11. Compare Psalms 78:38. Moses' weapon in defending his people from wrath was intercessory prayer. God looked upon the people as represented by him. His purpose of wrath, while it was real, was subject to the qualification virtually implied in Exodus 32:10. When therefore Moses did not, 'let God alone,' but interceded, God withdrew His purpose of wrath. The fact that the nation, in the very beginning of its history, owed its deliverance from destruction to one man's mediation, showed how deeply-seated was their sin, and how little hope there could be now of salvation for them except in the mercy of God.

Verses 24-33

Yea, they despised the pleasant land, they believed not his word:

(1) The people's distrust of the Lord's word as to Canaan after hearing the spies' report (Psalms 106:24-27).

(2) The sin of the new generation in joining themselves to Baal-peor, and Phinehas' zeal (Psalms 106:28-31).

(3) The offence at Meribah (Psalms 106:32-33).

Thus there are seven transgressions specified in all. One in Egypt in the first strophe; in the wilderness, three in the second and three in the third strophe. These seven transgressions stand in sad contrast to the seven miracles of God in the people's behalf in Psalms 105:1-45. Compare Deuteronomy 32:6, "Do ye thus requite the Lord?" Compare Numbers 14:22, where their 'tempting God ten times' stands in ungrateful contrast to His ten times interposing for them by judgments on the Egyptians.

Verse 24. Yea, they despised the pleasant land - (Numbers 14:31.) Compare on the "pleasant land," or the 'land of beauty' (Hengstenberg), Exodus 3:8; Deuteronomy 11:11-15: cf. Jeremiah 3:19; Ezekiel 20:6; Daniel 8:9. Their sin was punished by the destruction of that generation (Numbers 14:28).

They believed not his word - in striking contrast to Psalms 106:12, "Then believed they His words." So short in duration was their faith. They believed the evil report of the faithless spies (Psalms 78:22; Psalms 78:32) rather than the word of the faithful God who had promised to give them the land. So according to their unbelief it was done unto them (Hebrews 3:18). They forfeited the good land into which belief would have brought them.

Verse 26. Therefore he lifted up his hand against them - rather, 'to them,' in swearing. Lifting up the hand was the solemn gesture in taking an oath, (Numbers 14:30, margin.)

To overthrow them in the wilderness - literally, 'to make them fall,' etc. Alluding to Numbers 14:29, "Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness ... from twenty years old and upward."

Verse 27. To overthrow their seed also among the nations. God's purpose to "make their seed to fall among the nations" (Hebrew: cf. note, Psalms 106:26) was not expressed at this time (Numbers 14:31-33), but was implied in the sentence then pronounced upon the fathers, as the children were about to follow in their steps. It was expressed on another occasion, Leviticus 26:38; Deuteronomy 4:25; Deuteronomy 28:32. "In the wilderness" is parallel to "among the nations" - namely, the Gentile nations (Hebrew, goim). 'The wilderness was not more destructive for the fathers than residence among the pagan shall be for their children' (Hengstenberg). Compare Ezekiel 20:35, "I will bring you into the wilderness of the people."

And to scatter them in the lands - (Leviticus 26:33.)

Verse 28. They joined themselves also unto Baal-peor - literally, 'they yoked [ tsaamad (H6775)]

Verses 34-43

They did not destroy the nations, concerning whom the LORD commanded them:

-From the fathers in the wilderness the Psalmist turns to the sons in Canaan. In the former half of the decade their sins are mentioned; in the second half the judgments of God upon them for their sins.

Verse 34. They did not destroy the nations - from want of faith, holy zeal, and whole-hearted energy; not from want of inclination because of compassion (Judges 1:21; Judges 1:27-36).

Concerning whom the Lord commanded them - (Exodus 23:32-33; Exodus 34:11-15; Judges 2:1-5).

Verse 35. But were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works - notwithstanding Joshua's warning (Joshua 23:12-13). Intermarriages with the pagan, as God forewarned them (Deuteronomy 7:3-4), and as afterward happened in Solomon's case, occasioned their being seduced to idolatry (Judges 3:5-7).

Verse 36. And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them - (Exodus 23:33; Judges 8:27.) The image is from birds caught in "a snare" to their destruction. Idolatry was Israel's snare or cause of destruction. So the term is used, Exodus 10:7.

Verse 37. Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils. Deuteronomy 32:17 is the only other place where the Hebrew term for "devils" occurs, or rather 'demons' (as there is but one devil; and the bad spirits under him are demons, plural). 'They sacrificed unto sheediym (H7700), (which were) no gods, gods which they knew not.' The sheediym answers by contrast to 'Elohiym (H430), the true God. Gesenius considers it as equivalent to Baalim, 'lords,' from the Arabic shud, 'to rule.' Compare Judges 2:11-12; 1 Corinthians 8:5, "god's many and lords many." However, the sense, "devils," or rather 'demons' (Septuagint) is sustained by Leviticus 17:7; 2 Chronicles 11:15; 1 Corinthians 10:20; Revelation 9:20. The root then is [shaadad], or shuwd (H7736), to destroy, appropriate to the idol Moloch, whose cruel worship consisted in human sacrifices. Destroying demons, fatal to the worshippers (cf. Psalms 106:38).

Verse 38. And shed innocent blood - in defiance of Deuteronomy 19:10.

Even the blood of their sons and of their daughters - the very abomination which showed the desperate corruption of the Canaanite, and which caused God to cast them out before Israel (Deuteronomy 12:31; Deuteronomy 18:10).

And the land was polluted with blood - forbidden in Numbers 35:33. Every precaution was taken in God's law to impress the conscience with a horror of bloodshed: so utterly alien is Yahweh's worship to that of Moloch.

Verse 39. Thus were they defiled with their own works, and went a-whoring with their own inventions. Spiritual fornication alienates the heart from God, and joins it to any idol (Leviticus 17:7; Numbers 15:39).

Verse 40. Therefore was the wrath of the Lord kindled against his people, insomuch that he abhorred his own inheritance - i:e., Israel; as the parallel, "His people," shows, Deuteronomy 9:29 (cf. Psalms 78:59; Psalms 78:62).

Verse 41 And he gave them into the hand of the heathen (J dg 2:14 ) Verse 41. And he gave them into the hand of the heathen - (Judges 2:14.)

And they that hated them ruled over them - according to God's prophetic threat, Leviticus 26:17.

Verse 42. And they were brought into subjection under their hand. On the phrase, cf. Judges 3:30. Their existing captivity in Babylon was the sad consummation.

Verse 43. Many times did he deliver them - during the period of the Judges and Kings (Judges 2:16; Nehemiah 9:26-37).

But they provoked him with their counsel - with their corrupt and perverse plans.

And were brought low for their iniquity - the crowning of their punishment, their being led away into captivity. So Leviticus 26:39 had foretold, "They that are left of you shall pine away in their iniquity in your enemies' land" (cf. Ezekiel 33:10), which was written in the Babylonian land of their captivity.

Verses 44-48

Nevertheless he regarded their affliction, when he heard their cry:

-Conclusion. The fact of God's having already begun to show mercy to the Jewish captives in Babylon (Psalms 106:44-46) is the ground on which the prayer is resumed from Psalms 106:4-5, in Psalms 106:47. That Psalms 106:44-46 refer to the captivity, and not to earlier times, is clear, because the Psalmist would otherwise be merely repeating the first clause of Psalms 106:43; whereas it is after he has said they were finally "brought low for their iniquity." Also Psalms 106:46 distinctly speaks of their being "carried captives," which can only refer to the Babylonian captivity (Psalms 137:3). The reference also is plain to Leviticus 26:32-39 and 1 Kings 8:46, which prophetically allude to that captivity.

Verse 44. Nevertheless he regarded their affliction - literally, 'He regarded (i:e., He was not regardless) in their affliction' (Exodus 2:25; Exodus 4:31).

Verse 45. And he remembered for them his covenant - according to His promise (Leviticus 26:41-42).

And repented according to the multitude of his mercies - as was promised in Deuteronomy 32:36 (cf. Isaiah 63:7). The Hebrew text reads singular, 'mercy' (cf. Psalms 106:7); to agree with which the Masoretes altered 'mercy' here into "mercies." It is the fullness of God's mercy, not the manifold manifestations of it, which are here meant (Numbers 14:19).

Verse 46. He made them also to be pitied of all those that carried them captives - according to Solomon's prayer, 1 Kings 8:50. This improved feeling toward the Jews through God's influence appears in Daniel 1:9; as Joseph similarly had his captivity improved by God's favour (Genesis 39:21). So Evil-merodach, king of Babylon, treated kindly Jehoiachin, king of Judah (2 Kings 25:27).

Verse 47 Save us O Lord our God and gather us from among the heathen God's mercy having begun Verse 47. Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the heathen. God's mercy having begun the deliverance of the people in spite of their sins, encourages the re-renewal of prayer for its completion. The prayer rests on the promise, Deuteronomy 30:3, which is here alluded to verbally. The prayer was answered in the return of the great body of the people in the first year of Cyrus-an event which evidently had not yet taken place when this psalm was written, for no reference here occurs to a return, as there does in Psalms 107:3. That psalm gives thanks for it, as this 106th Psalm promised God in the event of the prayer being granted.

To give thanks unto thy holy name, and to triumph in thy praise - (1 Chronicles 16:35-36). God's praise is the praise which He procures for Himself by His glorious deeds in behalf of His people (Psalms 48:10; Psalms 105:3.

Verse 48. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel ... and let all the people say, Amen. Hengstenberg translates, as in 1 Chronicles 16:36, "And all the people say, Amen." The people strike in, affirming the thanksgiving. This verse in his view is part of the psalm, not a mere doxology appended to the fourth book of Psalms; because it is not likely the response of the people would form the close of a book. Also, this conclusion of praise corresponds to the praise-beginning of the psalm (Psalms 106:1). It also accords with the conclusion of Psalms 104:1-35. Also this doxology differs from those at the end of Book I, Psalms 42:1-11; Book II, Psalms 72:1-20; Book III, Psalms 89:1-52; as "hallelujah" is there wanting, and the "Amen" is doubled. And the hallelujah at the close here corresponds to that at the beginning. This doxology, thus, which was a part of the psalm, was made also by the compiler to answer the second purpose of closing the 4th Book. Moreover, it closes the collection, Psalms 101:1-8; Psalms 102:1-28; Psalms 103:1-22; Psalms 104:1-35; Psalms 105:1-45; Psalms 106:1-48, comprising David's trilogy, Psalms 101:1-8; Psalms 102:1-28; Psalms 103:1-22, and the trilogy of the captivity, Psalms 104:1-35; Psalms 105:1-45; Psalms 106:1-48.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 106". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/psalms-106.html. 1871-8.
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