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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Psalms 77

Verses 1-20

Title. To the chief musician, to Jeduthun. A psalm of Asaph. There is an uncertainty, whether Jeduthun were a master of music, or whether the name designate an instrument, or some air or term of music. The thirty ninth psalm by David, bears also the name of Jeduthun.

Psalms 77:1-2 . I cried unto God In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord. My sore ran in the night. There is no mention of any sore in the original. The literal reading is “My hand was stretched out in the night [in prayer] and ceased not.” I cried, I prayed, but no answer; the morning broke, but no ray of light to my fainting mind; the sun rose on the earth, but no sun of righteousness shone on me. Oh what sighs, what tears, what labouring thought: what profound researches of the mind! My spirit made diligent search: Psalms 77:6.

Psalms 77:7 . Will the Lord cast off for ever? Is his mercy clean gone? Must I groan and sigh in darkness all my days? Am I cast off for my sins, and doomed to perish at last? Are all my prayers sent back empty? Are all the intercessions of the saints on my account disregarded?

Psalms 77:10 . I said, this is my infirmity, to distrust and doubt. I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High, when he rode on the cloud; when he divided the sea, and drove asunder the nations. The God who once delivered his people, can yet deliver me.

What was this case of Asaph? Answer, a nervous gloom, a milder species of melancholy, superinduced by some grief of heart, and which preyed on the mind. If otherwise, it might be great heaviness through manifold temptations.

What are the best remedies? Answer, the kindest treatment that circumstances will allow. A temperate diet, and cooling medicines, attended with air and exercise. Especially let the good man be undisturbed in prayer, for that eases the heart of all its grief. Let him be prompted always to remember the years of the Most High, looking at the brightest traits of providence and grace, and accustomed to dwell on the promises of God. I mention kind treatment, because those nuances and discouragements fall on persons of fine sense and exquisite feelings with the greater severity. A young gentlemen of a catholic family, being sorely buffeted, though able to attend his professional duties, fell for two months under great depression, and uttered his heart in the following lines.

Ah, who can tell my soul’s distress? Who can conceive my wretched plight? All day by hell how sore opprest, By dreams and visions of the night!

While on the bed my body lay, Ere balmy sleep had closed my eyes; Anon, my soul a hunted prey, Sees hosts of hellish hounds arise.

Alas, my soul was sore opprest, While ghostly foes their malice spent; No hope of ease, no thought of rest, Nor earth, nor grave a prospect lent.

In ruins laid, my soul sweat blood, In agonies of dire despair; I cried aloud, my God, my God, My dearest Saviour, hear my prayer.

But yet my soul disdains to flee, Or hide from Satan’s furious blast; I claim the promised victory, To vanquish all my foes at last.

Psalms 77:13 . Thy way, oh God, is in the sanctuary. Thy counsel is deep and high; thou redeemest thy people, and confoundest all thy foes. Zion has but to trust, and await the openings of thy righteousness. On the ground of covenanted mercy, the sons of Jacob have claims on their father’s God.

Psalms 77:16 . After the word selah, Psalms 77:15, a forte, or enlivened chorus of music struck up; for the true sublime and beautiful with which this psalm closes required vivacity. The waters saw thee, oh God, the waters saw thee; they were afraid; the depths were troubled. In like manner, or in his own gracious way, the Lord will yet arise to succour the tempted, and wipe away the tears from Zion in the day of her oppression.


“Good men should not think their case singular, when they are oppressed with trouble and melancholy. Asaph’s was indeed a mournful case; he had wearisome days, restless nights, weeping eyes, and a comfortless soul. He was tempted to make a desperate conclusion about his own state, and the mercy and faithfulness of God. Those who are in such afflicted circumstances, should recollect what others have endured, and draw no rash conclusions about their real characters. Let them remember that despondency of spirit and distrust of God is an infirmity, and therefore endeavour to suppress it.

Such afflicted persons should give themselves to prayer. In the day of my trouble, says the psalmist, I sought the Lord; and the gospel rule is, if any be afflicted, let them pray; not seek for business and recreation to divert their minds, though they are useful in their places, but continue in prayer. “Let them not think,” as Mr. HENRY expresses it, “to drink away, or laugh away, their melancholy apprehensions, but pray them away.” Let them not cease their petitions, though they may for a long time be discouraged, and have very little hope of success: at length God will incline his ear, and their souls shall be comforted.

Those who are afflicted should think of God’s works; his works of wonder for his people, and his works of kindness for themselves. Let them recollect what God has done, both for their bodies and souls in time past, as an encouragement to trust in him, and to hope that he will not forsake them. It seems that Asaph did not find relief in this thought, therefore he set himself to consider what God had done for his people of old, and then he found relief. This shows the usefulness of scripture history; and of how much importance it is that we make it familiar to our minds, and meditate upon it. It shows also that we should apply those histories to our own case. What God hath wrought for the church, may and ought to be improved for the comfort of particular believers. Though God’s way be in the sea, and his path in the deep waters, let us trust him when we cannot trace him, and follow him, though we know not whither he leads us; and we shall find that all the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth to such as fear him, and keep his covenant and his statutes.”

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Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 77". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.