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Psalms 74:1 « Maschil of Asaph. » O God, why hast thou cast [us] off for ever? [why] doth thine anger smoke against the sheep of thy pasture?
A Psalm of Asaph ] Concerning the Babylonish captivity, saith Kimchi; which either was here foretold by David’s Asaph, or bewailed by another of that name, who lived at that very time, when the Jews groaned under those grievous calamities.
Ver. 1. O God, why hast thou cast us off for ever? ] The greatness of their grief and diuturnity of their misery draw from them such expressions of discontent, as if they were doubtful of an utter dereliction.
Why doth thine anger (or thy nose) smoke against the sheep of thy pasture?] Anger is a fire, and in men or other creatures enraged a smoke seemeth to go out of their nostrils. Xenophon saith of the Thebans, when they are angry they breathe fire. This, then, is spoken of God after the manner of men.
Psa 74:2 Remember thy congregation, [which] thou hast purchased of old; the rod of thine inheritance, [which] thou hast redeemed; this mount Zion, wherein thou hast dwelt.
Ver. 2. Remember thy congregation, which thou hast purchased ] His complaints end not in murmuring and grunting against God; but in humble petitions, so intermingled with sighs and groans, as that his speech is not so plain and perfect as at other times. That which he mainly urgeth is the covenant, that hive of heavenly honey, as one calleth it.
The rod of thine inheritance ] Inheritances were wont to be measured out by rods and perches. Assyria is the work of God’s hands, but Israel (as a further favour) is his inheritance, Isaiah 19:25 .
Psa 74:3 Lift up thy feet unto the perpetual desolations; [even] all [that] the enemy hath done wickedly in the sanctuary.
Ver. 3. Lift up thy feet unto the perpetual desolations ] i.e. Make haste to help, accurre, advola, as Genesis 29:1 . Or, lift up thy feet, viz. to tread down thy enemies. A metaphor from combatants, Qui elevant pedes et passus, ut violentius in hostem invehantur. Some have rendered it, The loftiness of thy feet is perpetually ( i.e. irreparably) desolated, understanding thereby the temple, that place of God’s feet, Ezekiel 43:7
All that the enemy hath done wickedly in the sanctuary ] Or, every one that hath done evil to his enemy in the sanctuary, whither he fled for safety.
Psa 74:4 Thine enemies roar in the midst of thy congregations; they set up their ensigns [for] signs.
Ver. 4. Thine enemies roar ] When they give the onset, or after the victory; our roaring boys are so called by a woeful prolepsis, here, for hereafter.
They set up their ensigns for signs ] They set them up upon the very temple (as if they had conquered God himself), those their trophies and monuments of victory, Posuerunt signa sua, signa (Kimchi). Some refer us for the sense of these words to Ezekiel 21:21 ; others render them thus, They have brought in their signs, or profane pictures, for the sacred signs; and so have polluted these holy places (R. Solom.). Besides what Antiochus did (concerning which see the books of Maccabees and Josephus) in aftertimes, the arms of Rome were set upon the temple, and a swine engraven over the gate; this was the abomination of desolation foretold by our Saviour, Matthew 24:15 .
Psalms 74:5 [A man] was famous according as he had lifted up axes upon the thick trees.
Ver. 5. A man was famous according as, &c. ] i.e. Time was when the workmen got them a name, by cutting down and fitting the timber for this building the temple, renowned throughout the whole world for costly and choice materials, for curious and exact workmanship, for spiritual employment, and for mystical signification; never was there the like edifice.
Psa 74:6 But now they break down the carved work thereof at once with axes and hammers.
Ver. 6. But now they break down the carved work thereof ] The Chaldeans did with military violence, and afterwards the Romans under Titus, who could not preserve it from the soldiers’ fury, though he desired so to have done, as some historians have told us. Now, if the enemies’ rage were so great as is here described against the outward marks of religion, how much more should our zeal kindle against the most costly or curious monuments of idolatry and superstition? Zisca, the valiant Bohemian, overthrew three hundred monasteries with their idols, and among the rest the famous monastery called the king’s court, a mile from Prague, in the walls whereof the whole Bible was most exquisitely written in letters of gold.
Psa 74:7 They have cast fire into thy sanctuary, they have defiled [by casting down] the dwelling place of thy name to the ground.
Ver. 7. They have cast fire inlo thy sanctuary ] Heb. They have sent thy sanctuary into the fire. So the French Papists, under the conduct of the Guises, dealt by the public meeting houses of the Protestants there, and particularly by that church at Lyons which was called Paradise, Hoc apud Ethnicos erat horrendum. The heathens observed of such as destroyed temples that they commonly came to some fearful end, by thunderbolts or otherwise.
Psa 74:8 They said in their hearts, Let us destroy them together: they have burned up all the synagogues of God in the land.
Ver. 8. Let us destroy them together ] "Them," that is, the saints; let us prey upon them, as hawks do upon doves: or "them," that is, the temples and schools; these the devil ever sought to destroy, as contrary to his kingdom; and so he doth still by the Turks and Papists and other heretics.
They have burnt up all the synayoyues ] These were a kind of chapels of ease to the temple at Jerusalem, and in these the people met frequently, on the sabbath especially, for holy exercises, as we do in our churches. The good centurion built one of these, Luke 7:5 . See James 2:2 .
Psa 74:9 We see not our signs: [there is] no more any prophet: neither [is there] among us any that knoweth how long.
Ver. 9. We see not our signs ] Those testimonies of God’s special favour, the public ordinances, together with the legal ceremonies, which was then Christ in figure, q.d. we are utterly benighted as to thee-ward.
There is no more any prophet, &c. ] Hence some conclude that this psalm was written about the end of the Babylonish captivity, when there was Chathimath Chazon, a sealing up of prophecy, as Daniel 12:9 , unless it were so that they had prophets, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, &c., but took no notice of them, through extremity of calamity, as Isaiah 59:10 .
Neither is there among us any ] The want of the word, the stopping of the true ministers’ mouths, &c., should touch us to the quick.
Psa 74:10 O God, how long shall the adversary reproach? shall the enemy blaspheme thy name for ever?
Ver. 10. O God, how long shall the adversary reproach? ] When they had none to tell them how long their miseries should last, they could turn them to God to inquire (such is the boldness of faith), and withal to require of him speedy help, since himself else were likely to suffer in his glory, as a God not able to help and befriend his people.
Psa 74:11 Why withdrawest thou thy hand, even thy right hand? pluck [it] out of thy bosom.
Ver. 11. Why withdrawest thou thy hand ] Some by hand understand the left hand, and so both hands are withdrawn, yea, held behind ( retrovertis ), after the manner of those that have little to do, and less to care for.
Out of thy bosom ] Another posture to the same purpose, Proverbs 19:24 ; Proverbs 26:15 .
Psa 74:12 For God [is] my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.
Ver. 12. For God is my Kiny of old ] He is the same yesterday, today, and for ever. I doubt not, therefore, but he will see to the safety of his loyal subjects.
Working salvation in the midst of the earth ] i.e. Openly, and to the view of all. Jerusalem is in the midst of Judaea, and Judaea is in the midst of the earth; the very centre and navel of the habitable world, say the Fathers; it joineth those of the east to the west by the midland sea, and those of the north to the south by the same sea, running out as far as the Lake of Maeotis, very far north, and by the Red Sea descending very low into the south. This country, therefore, God seemeth purposely to have espied out, as himself speaketh, that therehence he might send abroad salvation into all parts. And hereabout some gather from Joel 3:2 . Christ will sit to judge the world at the last day, Psalms 50:1-2 .
Psa 74:13 Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength: thou brakest the heads of the dragons in the waters.
Ver. 13. Thou didst divide the sea, &c. ] "Thou" in this and the following verses is emphatic and exclusive, q.d. thou, and none but thou.
Thou brakest the heads of the dragons ] Or crocodiles. So he calleth Pharaoh’s chieftains, who were Satan’s swordmen, and with him had their heads broke at the Red Sea.
Psa 74:14 Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, [and] gavest him [to be] meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness.
Ver. 14. Thou brakest the heads of leviathan ] i.e. Of Pharaoh himself. See Isa 26:1 Ezekiel 29:3 . Egypt is situated between two seas; and a great part of it overflowed by the river Nile. Pharaoh, therefore, is fitly compared to the master fish, and his captains to crocodiles.
And gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness ] i.e. To the birds and wild beasts, who fed upon the dead carcases of the Egyptians cast upon the shore; the Israelites having first taken the spoil of them, whereby they were provided of many necessaries for their voyage toward Canaan.
Psa 74:15 Thou didst cleave the fountain and the flood: thou driedst up mighty rivers.
Ver. 15. Thou didst cleave the fountain and the flood ] i.e. Fontium et torrentium scatebras et latebras, thou didst set the rock abroach once and again, Exodus 17:6 Numbers 20:11 , rescissis ipsius naturae legibus.
Thou driedst up mighty rivers ] Jordan (wherein some say met two great rivers, Jor and Dan), whereunto the Chaldee here addeth Arnon and Jabbok, whereof see Numbers 21:14 Deuteronomy 2:37 .
Psa 74:16 The day [is] thine, the night also [is] thine: thou hast prepared the light and the sun.
Ver. 16. The day is thine, the night also is thine ] He had argued with God, and strengthened his own faith from God’s extraordinary works; and now he doth the like from his ordinary works in nature, with the alternate course thereof, wherein appeareth a kind of image of the seasonable driving away of calamities, and turning all things into a desired state, Psalms 30:5 Lamentations 3:23 .
Thou hast prepared the light and the sun ] i.e. That first light scattered abroad the heavens, but afterwards gathered into the sun, as into a vessel. By light some understand here the moon, that other great luminary; it being the manner of the Hebrews, nomen generis restringere ad speciem deteriorem.
Psa 74:17 Thou hast set all the borders of the earth: thou hast made summer and winter.
Ver. 17. Thou hast set all the borders of the earth ] Securing it from the overflowings of the sea, and appointing to the several nations the bounds of their habitations.
Thou hast made summer and winter ] Plasmasti ea. Now thou, that hast done all this and more for mankind in general, wilt thou be wanting to thy Church?
Psa 74:18 Remember this, [that] the enemy hath reproached, O LORD, and [that] the foolish people have blasphemed thy name.
Ver. 18. Remember this ] Forgetfulness befalleth not the Lord; nevertheless he giveth us leave to be his remembrancers, and not to keep silence when he is concerned, Isaiah 62:6 .
That the enemy ] See Psalms 74:10 .
And that the foolish people have blasphemed thy name ] This irketh the saints worse than their own particular sufferings. The Egyptians, out of their respect to their Mercurius Trismegistus , would not rashly pronounce his name; no more would the Grecians their god Jupiter, no, not when they sware by him. Should not we be much more tender and respective of the holy and reverend name of our God, taking it ill when by any it is blasphemed?
Psa 74:19 O deliver not the soul of thy turtledove unto the multitude [of the wicked]: forget not the congregation of thy poor for ever.
Ver. 19. O deliver not the soul of thy turtledove ] Turturillae tuae, that groaneth unto thee; being not more innocent, chaste, mild, simple, and sociable, than weak, shiftless, and unable to defend herself from those beasts of prey. Turtur minimus censetur in columbarum genere (Arist.). Optatus observeth, that no fowl is more preyed upon by hawks, kites, &c., than the dove. Columbea mas et foemina dormiunt et pascuntur eodem in loco (Arist. Hist. Anim. lib. 8, c. 3); yet are there still more doves than hawks or kites for all that. So the Church increaseth, notwithstanding all persecutors, Patitur et non rapit (Kimchi).
Unto the multitude ] Or, to the beast, the wild company. The same word is put here also immediately for the congregation or lively flock of Christ.
Psa 74:20 Have respect unto the covenant: for the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty.
Ver. 20. Have respect unto the covenant ] This the Church knew to be her best plea; and, therefore, she so plieth it.
For the dark places of the earth are full of cruelty ] That is, saith Basil, those places where men are in the darkness of ignorance, not knowing God, are full of ambition and tyranny. Others make this the sense, We can hide ourselves nowhere but the persecutors ferret us out.
Psa 74:21 O let not the oppressed return ashamed: let the poor and needy praise thy name.
Ver. 21. O let not the oppressed, &c. ] Contusus non revertatur confusus, let him not take the repulse, be disappointed of his expected help from heaven.
Psa 74:22 Arise, O God, plead thine own cause: remember how the foolish man reproacheth thee daily.
Ver. 22. Plead thine own cause ] For if we miscarry, thou art sure to suffer among the proud Chaldees as an impotent God.
Remember how the foolish man, &c. ] See Psalms 74:18 .
Psa 74:23 Forget not the voice of thine enemies: the tumult of those that rise up against thee increaseth continually.
Ver. 23. The tumult of those that rise up against thee increaseth daily ] Heb. ascendeth, viz. up to heaven, as John 1:2 , there is no ho with them. Mundi laetitia est impunita nequitia, If the Lord take them not a link lower, as we say, they will grow intolerably insolent.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 74". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
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