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Or, for Asaph. Either it was composed by the prophet Asaph; or composed by David, or some other holy prophet of God, and committed to Asaph, or to his posterity; it being usual to put the parent’s name for his children, of which I have formerly given divers instances. The special. and immediate occasion of this Psalm was unquestionably some eminent deliverance vouchsafed by God to his people of Israel, and especially to Jerusalem, which the psalmist thought fit to celebrate; but which and when it was is both needless to inquire, and hard to determine.
A declaration of God’s majesty and gracious presence in his church, Psalms 76:1-5. At his rebuke the enemy spoils, and by his arm the meek are saved, Psalms 76:6-10. An exhortation to serve him with reverence, Psalms 76:11,Psalms 76:12.
God’s people do not worship an unknown God, as the Athenians did, Acts 17:23, but one who hath made himself known, not only by his word and ordinances, but also by the glorious effects of his wisdom and power on their behalf, and against their potent and malicious enemies.
Is great, i.e. famous and renowned, and greatly to be praised and admired.
In Salem; in Jerusalem, which was anciently called Salem, Genesis 14:18; Hebrews 7:1.
Zion; largely so called, as it includes Moriah, an adjoining hill, or another branch of the same hill.
There, i.e. in Judah, or at or near Jerusalem.
The arrows, Heb. the sparks; the sparkling arrows, bright and shining, swift and piercing, like sparks of fire. The bow, the shield, and the sword; both offensive and defensive weapons, so as they could neither hurt God’s people, nor save themselves from ruin.
The battle; the force and fury of the battle, and all the power of the army, which was put in battle-array.
Thou, O God; to whom he directeth his speech here, as also Psalms 76:6-8.
Than the mountains of prey; either,
1. Than the greatest kings and emperors of the earth, which in prophetical writings are oft compared to mountains, as Psalms 46:2,Psalms 46:3; Isaiah 41:15; Jeremiah 51:25; Habakkuk 3:6. And they are called mountains of prey, because then they generally were established by tyranny, and maintained by preying upon their own subjects, or other inferior kingdoms. Or,
2. (which amounts to the same thing) Than the most powerful enemies of thy people, upon whom they used and now desired and expected to prey; such persons being oft expressed by the name of mountains, as Psalms 144:5; Zechariah 4:7, &c.
Are spoiled of all that glory and advantage which they either had already gotten, or further expected, from the success of their present expedition, which they promised to themselves. They became a prey to those upon whom they hoped to prey.
Their sleep; even a perpetual sleep, as Jeremiah 51:39,Jeremiah 51:57, or the sleep of death, Psalms 13:3; called their sleep emphatically, as being peculiar to them and such-like men, and not that sleep which is common to the good and bad. Their death he seems to call sleep, because they were slain in the night, when they had composed themselves to rest and sleep, and so passed insensibly from one sleep to another. For it is thought by many that this Psalm was composed upon the occasion of that prodigious slaughter of the Assyrians in Judah, 2 Kings 19:35. None have found their hands; they had no more strength in or use of their hands against the destroying angel, than they who have no hands.
The chariot and horse; the men who rode upon and fought from chariots and horses, who fight with most advantage, and usually have most courage; and much more unable were their footmen to resist or avoid the stroke.
Stand in thy sight, to wit, to contend with thee. Standing is here opposed to flight or failing before the enemy. See Joshua 7:12; Daniel 8:4.
Thou didst execute judgment upon thine enemies by an angel sent from heaven; which is said to be heard, either because that was accompanied with terrible thunders and earthquakes, which was not unusual in the descent of an angel, as Matthew 28:2, and elsewhere; or because the fame of it was quickly spread abroad in the land, and in the world. The effect of this terrible judgment was, that the rest of the world were afraid to invade or disturb the land and people of Israel, and chose rather to sit still in their own territories.
When God arose to judgement; when God, who for a season had sat still, began to bestir and show himself against his enemies. Or, after God had risen, &c. Or, because God did arise, &c.
To save all the meek of the earth; to save all the godly persons (who are oft called meek ones, as hath been noted again and again) in Israel, for whose sakes God wrought this great deliverance, which reached to all the people of the land.
The wrath of man shall praise thee; the blasphemous speeches and furious attempts of thine enemies shall serve thy glory, and cause thy people and others to praise and magnify thee for that admirable wisdom, and power, and faithfulness, and goodness which thou shalt discover upon that occasion.
The remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain; thou shalt prevent and disappoint the succeeding malicious designs of thine enemies, who will meditate revenge for those shameful and terrible overthrows. Or,
the remainder of wrath thou shalt gird thyself with, i.e. put it on as an ornament, which the girdle was; thou shalt adorn thyself with it, as a conqueror doth with the spoils of his enemies.
Vow a sacrifice of thanksgiving; either at this time, for this wonderful deliverance; or hereafter, in all your future straits and troubles. Let this experience encourage you to make such vows to God with confidence of success. But when God hath accepted your vows, and given you the desired deliverance, forget not to pay your vows.
All that be round about him; either,
1. All the tribes of Israel, who have the benefit of this mercy. Or rather,
2. All the neighbouring nations on every side, to whom the fame of this mighty work of God shall come, I advise them for the future, if they love themselves, to cease from all hostilities against God or his people, and to submit themselves to the God of Israel.
Him that ought to be feared; whom though they do not love, yet they see and feel that they have great reason to fear and to seek his favour.
Cut off; as men do their grapes in time of vintage, as the Hebrew verb implies, to wit, suddenly, violently, and irresistibly. This is all which they shall get by opposing him, and therefore it is their wisdom to bring presents to him.
The spirit of princes; either,
1 Their courage. Or rather,
2. Their breath and life, as he did in the Assyrian army.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 76". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 13 / Ordinary 18