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Psalms 79:1 « A Psalm of Asaph. » O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance; thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps.
A Psalm ] Of like subject with Psalms 74:1-23 , bewailing the same calamity of the Jews, whether under Nebuchadnezzar or Antiochus is uncertain; but foreseen by Asaph, or described by some other prophet, and committed to some of Asaph’s successors to be sung. Cantant iusti etiam in adversis; as birds in the spring tune most sweetly when it raineth most sadly.
Ver. 1. O God, the heathen ] Ex abrupto orditur; q.d. Canst thou endure it? Is it not high time for thee to set in? Lo, they have filled the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel, Isaiah 8:8 , that is, O thou who art God with us, who givest with the Father, who prayest with the suitor ( Cum parte dater, inter nos petitor. Aug.), and who in all our afflictions art afflicted.
Thy holy temple have they defiled ] Spoliando, funestando, et omnia profana impiaque munera obeundo. See Psalms 74:7 .
They have laid Jerusalem on heaps ] In rudera, into an orchard keeper’s cottage, saith the Vulgate, οπωροφυλακιον (Sept.). An elegant hypotyposis.
Psa 79:2 The dead bodies of thy servants have they given [to be] meat unto the fowls of the heaven, the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth.
Ver. 2. The dead bodies of thy servants ] Either they denied them the honour of burial (which is reckoned among the τα νομιζομενα , the dues of the dead), or else they mangled their dead bodies, and exercised their rage upon them, as the Papists did upon Huss and Zwinglius, and many of the English martyrs. A barbarous practice, as Pausanias judged it in Herodot. Calliope, Nεκρω λυμαινεσθαι πρεπει μαλλον βαρβαροισιν , &c.
The flesh of thy saints, &c. ] Of thy beneficiaries, whose souls are with thee in heaven; these have not so much as a burying place on earth, but lie like common carrion, Morticina, like cattle that die of the murrain, and are most ignominously dealt with; and yet these are God’s saints, and, in some sense, martyrs.
Psa 79:3 Their blood have they shed like water round about Jerusalem; and [there was] none to bury [them].
Ver. 3. Their blood have they shed like water ] Contemptim vel abiecte. They made no more reckoning of it than of ditch water; and were ready to say, as Hannibal did when he saw a ditch full of men’s blood, O formosum spectaculum! O beautiful sight!
And there was none to bury them ] Either none to bury them at all, which the Jews accounted worse than death, Ecclesiastes 6:3 , and the Romans extreme cruelty, Immanitatis est Scythicae non sepelire mortuos (Sen. ad Martiam); or none to bury them cum ritibus, with the accustomed rites and ceremonies, as Jacob was buried, Genesis 50:1-13 , but not Jeconiah, Jeremiah 22:18 .
Psa 79:4 We are become a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and derision to them that are round about us.
Ver. 4. We are become a reproach to our neighbours ] To the Edomites, Philistines, Syrians, Tyrians, &c., who do now compose comedies out of our tragedies.
A scorn and derision to them that are round about us ] Quorum opprobriis, ludibriis, et contumeliis sumus expositi. This was more grievous to them than stripes or wounds, saith Chrysostom; because these being inflicted upon the body, are divided after a sort between soul and body; but scorns and reproaches do wound the soul only. Habet quendam aculeum contumelia, they leave a sting behind them, as Cicero observeth, Actio in Ver.
Psa 79:5 How long, LORD? wilt thou be angry for ever? shall thy jealousy burn like fire?
Ver. 5. How long wilt thou be angry? &c. ] Or, how long? wilt thou be angry for ever? The psalmist knew that the enemies were but God’s executioners; and that if he were but once pacified, they should soon be put out of office.
Shall thy jealousy ] viz. For our idolatry, Exo 20:3-5
Psa 79:6 Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name.
Ver. 6. Pour out thy wrath, &c. ] Even the full vials of it.
That have not known thee ] More than by the book of the creatures, wherein there is indeed a τογνωστον του θεου , something of God manifested, Romans 1:19-20 , even his eternal power and Godhead, rendering men without excuse, but nothing of his goodness and patience, leading them to repentance, Psalms 2:4 .
That have not called upon thy name ] A note of profaneness, Psalms 14:4 .
Psa 79:7 For they have devoured Jacob, and laid waste his dwelling place.
Ver. 7. For they have devoured Jacob ] As wolves and other ravenous creatures do the simple sheep.
His dwellingplace ] Or, his cottage, his sheepcote.
Psa 79:8 O remember not against us former iniquities: let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us: for we are brought very low.
Ver. 8. O remember not against us former iniquities ] Or, the iniquities of them that were before us, wherewith we also are justly chargeable; the sin of the golden calf, saith the Arabic here, an ounce whereof is in all our sufferings to this day, say the Jews. Alexander slew the Branchidae, and utterly destroyed their city, because their forefathers had long before endeavoured to betray Greece into the hands of Xerxes, ως προδοτας ανειλεν (Diodor. Curt. lib. 7).
Speedily prevent us ] Lest they come too late; for we are at last gasp.
Psa 79:9 Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name’s sake.
Ver. 9. Help us … for the glory of thy name] A speeding argument. God will do much for his own glory, his wife, as it were.
Purge away our sins ] Which nothing can do but tender mercy.
Psa 79:10 Wherefore should the heathen say, Where [is] their God? let him be known among the heathen in our sight [by] the revenging of the blood of thy servants [which is] shed.
Ver. 10. Where is their God? ] See Psalms 43:3 . So Turks at this day (when they have the better of Christians) cry, Where is the Christian’s God? We are the right Mussulmans, &c.
By the revenging of the blood of thy servants, &c. ] For the which make thou inquisition, and do justice.
Psa 79:11 Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee; according to the greatness of thy power preserve thou those that are appointed to die;
Ver. 11. Let the sighing of the prisoner, &c. ] It was lately in many places of this land a like difficult thing to find a wicked man in the enemy’s prisons or a godly man out of them. The sighs of such were shrill in God’s ears.
Preserve thou those that are appointed to die ] Heb. The children of death, those that being destined to destruction, seem to be as much in death’s power as children are in their parents’. The Arabic rendereth it, Redime filios occisorum, Redeem the children of those who are slain, lest the name of their parents be blotted out.
Psa 79:12 And render unto our neighbours sevenfold into their bosom their reproach, wherewith they have reproached thee, O Lord.
Ver. 12. Into their bosom ] Full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, Luke 6:38 . See Isaiah 65:6-7 Jeremiah 32:18 .
Wherewith they have reproached thee ] viz. In reproaching us, who do quarter arms, as it were, with thee.
Psa 79:13 So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will shew forth thy praise to all generations.
Ver. 13. So we thy people … will give thee praise] A service which the saints know to be so acceptable to God, that they commonly promise it, and accordingly perform it, Hosea 14:2 , engaging also their children, as here, to do the like.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 79". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17