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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 105

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-45

Psalms 105:0

1          O give thanks unto the Lord; call upon his name:

Make known his deeds among the people.

2     Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him:

Talk ye of all his wondrous works.

3     Glory ye in his holy name:

Let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord.

4     Seek the Lord, and his strength:

Seek his face evermore.

5     Remember his marvellous works that he hath done;

His wonders, and the judgments of his mouth;

6     O ye seed of Abraham his servant,

Ye children of Jacob his chosen.

7     He is the Lord our God:

His judgments are in all the earth.

8     He hath remembered his covenant for ever,

The word which he commanded to a thousand generations.

9     Which covenant he made with Abraham,

And his oath unto Isaac;

10     And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law,

And to Israel for an everlasting covenant:

11     Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan,

The lot of your inheritance.

12     When they were but a few men in number;

Yea, very few, and strangers in it.

13     When they went from one nation to another,

From one kingdom to another people;

14     He suffered no man to do them wrong:

Yea, he reproved kings for their sakes;

15     Saying, Touch not mine anointed,

And do my prophets no harm.

16     Moreover, he called for a famine upon the land:

He brake the whole staff of bread.

17     He sent a man before them,

Even Joseph, who was sold for a servant:

18     Whose feet they hurt with fetters:

He was laid in iron:

19     Until the time that his word came:

The word of the Lord tried him.

20     The king sent and loosed him;

Even the ruler of the people, and let him go free.

21     He made him lord of his house,

And ruler of all his substance:

22     To bind his princes at his pleasure;

And teach his senators wisdom.

23     Israel also came into Egypt;

And Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham.

24     And he increased his people greatly;

And made them stronger than their enemies.

25     He turned their heart to hate his people,

To deal subtilely with his servants;

26     He sent Moses his servant;

And Aaron whom he had chosen.

27     They shewed his signs among them,

And wonders in the land of Ham.

28     He sent darkness, and made it dark;

And they rebelled not against his word.

29     He turned their waters into blood,

And slew their fish.

30     Their land brought forth frogs in abundance,

In the chambers of their kings.

31     He spake, and there came divers sorts of flies,

And lice in all their coasts.

32     He gave them hail for rain,

And flaming fire in their land.

33     He smote their vines also and their fig trees;

And brake the trees of their coasts.

34     He spake, and the locusts came,

And caterpillars, and that without number,

35     And did eat up all the herbs in their land,

And devoured the fruit of their ground.

36     He smote also all the firstborn in their land,

The chief of all their strength.

37     He brought them forth also with silver and gold:

And there was not one feeble person among their tribes.

38     Egypt was glad when they departed:

For the fear of them fell upon them.

39     He spread a cloud for a covering;

And fire to give light in the night.

40     The people asked, and he brought quails,

And satisfied them with the bread of heaven.

41     He opened the rock, and the waters gushed out;

They ran in the dry places like a river.

42     For he remembered his holy promise,

And Abraham his servant.

43     And he brought forth his people with joy,

And his chosen with gladness:

44     And gave them the lands of the heathen:

And they inherited the labour of the people;

45     That they might observe his statutes,

And keep his laws.
Praise ye the Lord.


Contents and Composition.—While in Psalms 78:0 the former history of Israel was employed as a mirror of warning, and their relations during the march through the desert were in consequence fully described, the Psalm before us contains an exhortation to praise God and to seek the Lord, in faithfulness to the covenant, as a response to the faithfulness which Jehovah had displayed to the family of Abraham from the establishment of the covenant with him until their entrance into the Promised Land. It is a lyrical rather than a doctrinal treatment of the narrative presented in the Pentateuch. It follows the latter so closely that there is no trace of strophical structure. The limits of the groups are scarcely discoverable, for the essential events are disposed in the order of their occurrence, and a rhythmical movement is only discernible in the regular bipartite structure of the verses. The first fifteen verses are found again in the song which in 1 Chronicles 16:0 is said to have been sung when the ark was removed to Jerusalem. But it is shown to be a later compilation of the Chronicler, by the circumstance that the parts which are taken likewise from Psalms 96, 106 are, by the abruptness of the transitions, proved not to have belonged originally to the same composition. Besides, it contains an allusion to the Babylonish Exile; and even the doxology, which concludes the Fourth Book of the Psalms, is retained, as if it were a portion of the song itself. [See the addition in the Introduction to Psalms 106:0—J. F. M.]. We cannot determine the age of our Psalm more closely than to assign it a place later than the composition of the Pentateuch, and earlier than that of Chronicles. The opinion which infers the time of the Babylonish Captivity from the prevailing reference to the Egyptian period, is not to be relied on, especially as there is no definite indication of the custom, common both with the prophets and the poets, of comparing those periods. And the attempt (Rosenmüller following the older commentators) to separate a part, at least, of the Psalm, as the composition of David, from later additions, must be regarded as entirely at fault.

Psalms 105:1-6. Call with His name [E. V.: Call upon His name].—This expression, Genesis 4:26, includes two things, invocation and proclamation, or prayer and preaching. The whole of Psalms 105:1 reminds us of Isaiah 12:4.—Seeking and inquiring after Jehovah and His face (Psalms 105:4) are not to be restricted to visiting the temple and worshipping (De Wette, et al.). Nor is עז to be here, as in Psalms 78:61, taken to refer to the ark of the covenant (the older expositors following the Rabbins). The context demands a general application of the word. In Psalms 105:6, by a change in the pointing we could easily obtain the translation: his servants (Sept.), as in apposition to: seed of Abraham, and parallel to the following member: his chosen. But Psalms 105:42 (comp. Psalms 105:26), shows that by the servant of Jehovah is here meant Abraham. As his seed the Israelites were reminded of the fact that they held the same position as he did, and were encouraged to be mindful thereof by the fulfilling of the duties connected with that relation. And as children of Jacob, they were reminded that they occupied that position, not through hereditary succession, but by virtue of election.

Psalms 105:8-9. The Psalmist does not call upon his fellow-countrymen to be mindful of the covenant (Sept.), but he tells them of the faithfulness of God, who had (præterite) given an everlasting place in His memory to the covenant which was concluded with Abraham and confirmed to Isaac with an oath (Genesis 26:3; Genesis 22:16). Since דָּבָר here describes the covenant with reference to its establishment by the Divine word of promise, so צִוָּה is to be taken in its primary meaning, as in Psalms 111:9, and כָּרַת is to have the same application as in Haggai 2:5. The form יִשְׂחָק instead of יצחָק:. occurs also in Amos 7:9; Jeremiah 33:26.

Psalms 105:11; Psalms 105:15. The transition to the plural in Psalms 105:11 is to be explained by the considerations that Jacob-Israel is the designation of a nation as well as a proper name, and that the promises given to the patriarchs were made to him as being the father of the chosen race, to which, therefore, they really belonged.—The term prophets, applied to the patriarchs in Psalms 105:15, is taken from Genesis 20:7, where God Himself employs this word in connection with those prohibitions (Genesis 12:20, 26), to which allusion is here made. It is doubtful whether or not their appellation: anointed has any special reference, beyond the idea that they were men consecrated to God and endowed with Divine gifts.

Psalms 105:16-18. Support of bread [E. V.: staff of bread] as in Leviticus 26:26; Isaiah 3:1. Comp. Psalms 104:15. The selling of Joseph was explained by himself as a sending-beforehand by God (Genesis 45:5; Genesis 1:20). His being fettered is also mentioned in Genesis 40:3; it is therefore not a mere poetical filling out of the picture. It is doubtful whether בְּבֵרְזֶל=בַּרְזֶל=his soul (person) came into iron (most), or whether the iron, which, in the signification iron-fetter, might be regarded as feminine, according to the principle developed by Ewald, § 318, is not rather to be construed as the subject, and the whole clause taken in the sense in which it is said of water in Psalms 69:2, that it presses into the soul (Hitzig, Del.; as previously Vatablus, Sachs). We prefer the latter construction, since the periphrastic use of בֶפֶשׁ for person is very remote from the context. If temptations (Hengstenb.) had been intended they must have been expressed.

Psalms 105:19. His word cannot mean the word of God (most), but that of Joseph in the interpretation of the dreams, for all the preceding suffixes refer to him. The declaration [E. V., word] of Jehovah is, accordingly, not the promise of the possession of Canaan (Hengst.), nor the decree that Joseph should be tried (Clericus), but the revelation of God made to him (Aben Ezra), whose reliability he had to prove and attest in provings and trials of his own person. צרף never signifies glorifying and distinguishing (Rud., Rosenm.). For Ilam see on Psalms 78:51.

The description of the plagues of Egypt, after Exodus 1-12, follows the narrative there given more strictly than do Psalms 78:44 f. Here only the fifth and sixth are omitted, and the ninth, that of darkness, is placed first. A figurative explanation, according to which the whole period is supposed to be represented, during which God showed displeasure towards and inflicted misfortune upon them (Hengstenb.), is untenable. It is in accordance with the facts, and in general with the Old Testament mode of conception, to trace the hardening of the Egyptians to God.

Psalms 105:27. In such connections as this the word דִּבְרֵי serves to denote various kinds (Hitzig), so that it is not quite superfluous, as though it were a mere periphrasis (De Wette); nor is it to be regarded as relating to the prophetic words, by which the miraculous signs were announced beforehand (Clericus and others, Hupfeld). But if we were to read the singular שָׂם instead of the plural שָׂמוּ, as in Exodus 10:12; Psalms 78:43, we could translate, since God would then be the subject: He placed among them, or He laid upon them the words of His signs (Sept., Vulg.).

Psalms 105:28. The order of the sentences naturally suggests the reference of Psalms 105:28 b to the Egyptians, but, as they yielded to God’s command only after long resistance and repeated refusals, and only when finally compelled by His judgments, this mode of expression is not suitable to them. It is not advisable to assume that a question is asked, as there would then result a whole sentence of a very feeble character. The suppression of the negative (Sept., Syr.) is unjustifiable. So also is a change of the verb, which would replace: resisted, by: heeded (Hitzig). Most, therefore, refer this negative statement of obedience to the Israelitish leaders, and suppose a contrast to the conduct recorded in Numbers 20:24; Numbers 27:14.

Psalms 105:33 ff. [In Psalms 105:33 b. instead of: trees of their coasts, render: trees of their bounds, that is, within the bounds of their country.—J. F. M.]. The spreading of the cloud for a covering (Psalms 105:39) does not allude to protection against the enemy (Exodus 14:19 f.), but to the cloud which was (Numbers 10:14) a covering and shady bower to the Israelites (Isaiah 4:5).—Labor (Psalms 105:44) is used metonymically for its results, the acquisitions made by it (Isaiah 45:14).


1. God grants the knowledge of His nature through His name. Therefore must His people call upon His revealed name in prayer, and thus make it known, that they have not to do with unknown powers, but that they know well to whom they address themselves when they offer thanksgiving or prayer. And this known God must not be honored merely by their own acknowledgment; they must also make Him known to those who know Him not, and by means of preaching diffuse the knowledge of God throughout the world.

2. The world has many vain things, of which it boasts, over which it vexes itself, after which it inquires and pursues. The Church must boast in the holy name of God, meditate upon His wondrous works, inquire after Him before all else, seek Him above all else, in order that she may be confirmed in communion with Him, and be preserved and extended as His inheritance in the world. For to this has she been chosen and called by Him. But she has many enemies, who aim to cast her down from this position of high privilege.
3. The preservation of the Church in the world, as well as her establishment, is the cause, work, and glory of God. And God remembers His covenant and the oath by which He confirmed it. But the blessings of that covenant can be shared only by those who submit to its conditions. He, therefore, who would inherit the promises given to the patriarchs, must conform to the conditions of salvation which God has instituted for that end. The seed of Abraham are not to forget that Abraham was God’s servant, and that, although this designation is indeed a title of honor, it is yet no empty title; for God solemnly asks, if His chosen act worthily of it.
4. God’s judgments, as the Judge of the whole world, fall upon those nations who resist Him, and serve at the same time to deliver His church from the power of her oppressors. But these events are not to excite a false feeling of security, but call for gratitude, trust and obedience; and in displaying the severity of the divine wrath are to quicken the conscience and beget a salutary fear. For if God protects His people miraculously, cares for them graciously, and guides them faithfully, and, besides leading them through all dangers to the place whither He promised to bring them, exalts them above all other peoples, they must make it their aim to fulfil their part of the covenant obligations, and to testify, both in word and life, their gratitude for such benefits, blessings, and privileges.


We should testify our gratitude for God’s benefits: (1) by adoring His majesty; (2) by proclaiming His deeds; (3) by trusting to His guidance; (4) by obeying His commands.—God has delivered our nation so often in former times that we (1) should reproach ourselves for our ingratitude, (2) should be ashamed of our faintheartedness, (3) should grieve over our unfaithfulness.—God’s judgments upon the enemies of His Church: (1) as testimonies to His sway upon earth, (2) as the means of her preservation, (3) as a ground of hope in present distress.—The growth of God’s Church under affliction as being (1) after the typical history of Israel, (2) under the security given for God’s faithfulness to His covenant.—Many would like to share the honor of God’s servants, if they had only not to perform their service, or endure their trials.

Starke: When a man exhibits an ardent love to God, it is a living witness that be is His temple.—How can he glorify God rightly, who does not know by a living experience His name, deeds, and wonders? O, my soul! seek the Lord, so that thou mayest extol Him joyfully.—The more men turn away from God, the weaker they become, and the more they inquire after Him and draw near to Him in prayer, faith, and meditation, the more strength do they gain from Him.—If God always remains mindful of His promises to us, what is more reasonable than that we should never forget ours to Him?—The descend ants have as good a claim to, and as great a share in, the covenant of grace as their forefathers, with whom God established that covenant, provided only that they enter into it in faith.—Where there is prosperity, there is also envy and grudging; but he who has no friend but God cannot be harmed by the envy and enmity of the world.—The blood of true believers, poured out like water, has ever been a fountain of blessedness, from which spring forth the members of Christ.—The injury received by a pious man in one place is compensated by God in another with rich blessings: therefore guard against impatience and care for the body.—God has the hearts of His enemies in His power. If He takes their courage from them, He can deliver His own without a single stroke of His sword.—Let none despise the feeble or the poor: thou dost not know but that there are those among them who are in covenant with God, and whom He will yet employ for great things.—The history of the faithful patriarchs is a fit representation of the pilgrimage of believers, who have here no continuing city, but seek one to come.—In seasons of affliction, let us not look to men, but God,—upon Him who smites us, and not at the rod; it is not the rod that sends the pain, but He who employs it.—When calamities befall a whole nation, the pious must suffer with the wicked; yet God often proves to His children that His word abides sure: in the days of famine they shall be satisfied (Psalms 37:19).—The members of the invisible church must often dwell in the tents of Meshech; but they are more secure sometimes in the midst of such enemies, than among those who outwardly are members with them of the common faith.—With regard to God’s deeds of goodness, believers must guard against two errors: they must ascribe nothing to themselves or their deserts, for God performs these deeds for the sake of His word and covenant; and they must not receive such benefits as a matter of course, or misuse them. Assiduous striving after sanctification and renewing ends at last in a hallelujah, which all the perfect righteous ones shall sing in unison, to the glory of the Lord, throughout eternity.

Frisch: No more powerful consolation can be breathed into a troubled soul than the thought that God is eternally mindful of His covenant. Since the covenant is eternal, it cannot be annulled by death. Since it is a covenant of grace, thou needest not despond, even if thou hast perchance transgressed it.—Rieger: On the mercy of Christ we enjoy the blessing of Abraham; and God is ever mindful of His covenant, until He brings us into the Fatherland, and the city to which He has called us, and which He has prepared for us.—Richter: Canaan was intended as a school for Israel in view of the coming of Christ.—Guenther: The whole history of the Chosen People, before the time of Christ, is a type of the history of Christianity, and a representation of the experience of each believer; let us learn, then, what this special chapter of the history means for you and for me.—Taube: A call addressed to God’s people for the adoring remembrance of the mercy, displayed in God’s dealings towards the heirs of the promise, in order to strengthen their faith.—Godless and prayerless souls are also forgetful souls, who learn nothing from the deeds, wonders, and judgments of God; but he who seeks the Lord meets Him, for the strengthening of His faith, on all the paths on which he has promised that He will be found.—The rapture of deliverance excites grateful love, which knows that it is bound, by duty and obligation, to the Deliverer and Blesser, and which lives to please Him in all things.

[Matt. Henry: We are therefore made, maintained, and redeemed, that we may live in obedience to the will of God; and the hallelujah with which the Psalm concludes, may be taken both as a thankful acknowledgment of God’s favors, and as a cheerful concurrence with this great intention of them.—Has God done so much for us, and yet doth He expect so little from us? Praise ye the Lord.

Scott: We greatly mistake, if we do not rank afflictions among our mercies (Psalms 105:17-19), as they tend to prove the reality of our faith and love, to humble our pride, to wean us from the world, to quicken our prayers, to enlarge our experience of the Lord’s faithfulness to His promises, to encourage our dependence, to bow our hearts into submission, and to soften them into compassion for our brethren.—J. F. M.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Psalms 105". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/psalms-105.html. 1857-84.
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