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This Psalm was doubtless composed upon the sad occasion of the destruction of Judea and Jerusalem, either by Antiochus, or rather by the Chaldeans; as may be gathered from 1Ma 7:16,17, where, in the relation of the persecution of Antiochus, the second and third verses of this Psalm are cited.
The psalmist, complaining of the desolation and ruin of Jerusalem, Psalms 79:1-4,
expostulateth with God about his long anger and jealousy, Psalms 79:5-7;
entreateth for the forgiveness of their sins, and speedy help and mercy, Psalms 79:8-12,
to the everlasting praise of his name, Psalms 79:13.
Are come, as invaders and conquerors. Into thine inheritance; into Canaan and Judea, which thou didst choose for thine inheritance. Defied, by entering into it, and touching and carrying away its holy vessels, and shedding blood in it, and burning of it. Heaps, made of the ruins of those goodly houses which they burned, or threw down.
Of thy servants; either,
1. Of thy faithful and holy servants, whom they used as cruelly as the worst of the people. Or,
2. Of the Jews, whom, though the generality of them were very wicked, he calleth God’s servants and saints, because they were all such by profession, and some of them were really such; and the Chaldeans did never know nor regard those that were so, but promiscuously destroyed all that came in their way. Given to be meat unto the fowls of heaven, by casting them out like dung upon the face of the earth, and not suffering any to bury them.
Like water; plentifully and contemptuously, valuing it no more than common water.
None to bury them, because their friends, who should have done it, were either slain or fled, or were not permitted, or durst not undertake, to perform that office to them.
We, who were their terror and scourge, are now neither feared nor pitied, but become the matter of their scoffs and reproaches. See Psalms 80:6; Psalms 137:7; Ezekiel 35:2,Ezekiel 35:12, &c.
Though we confess that we have deserved thy wrath, yet the heathen, by whom thou hast scourged us, deserve it much more, as being guilty of far greater impieties than we, living in gross ignorance and contempt of God and of his worship; and therefore we pray transfer thy wrath from us to them.
Jacob; the posterity of Jacob, whom thou didst love, and with whom and his seed thou madest a sure and everlasting covenant; whereby thou didst engage thyself to be an enemy to their enemies, Exodus 23:22. Besides, thou hatest cruelty, especially when the wicked devour those who are more righteous than themselves, Habakkuk 1:13.
Former iniquities; the sins committed by our forefathers, and by us, who have filled up the measure of their sins, for which we confess thou hast most righteously brought this desolating judgment upon us.
Thy tender mercies; upon which all our confidence is fixed; for merit and righteousness we have none. See Daniel 9:7,Daniel 9:9.
Prevent us; prevent our utter extirpation, which we have deserved, and have great reason to expect.
Brought very low; past the hopes of all human help, and therefore the glory of our deliverance will be wholly thine.
O God of our salvation; from whom we have oft received, and from whom alone we now expect, salvation.
Thy name; which is now obscured by the insolency and blasphemy of thine enemies, who ascribe this conquest to their idols, and triumph over thee no less than over thy people, as one unable to deliver them out of their hands. See Daniel 3:15.
Their God; he whom they served, and of whom they boasted. He is lost and gone, or grown impotent or idle.
Let him be known among the heathen, by the execution of his judgments upon them, according to Psalms 9:16.
In our sight; that we may live to see it, and praise thy name for it.
Of the prisoner; of thy poor people now in prison, or, at least, in captivity.
Those that are appointed to die, Heb. the children of death, i.e. which were either designed to death, or in manifest danger of it, as being wholly in the power of their cruel and barbarous enemies.
Sevenfold, i.e. either,
1. Abundantly, as this phrase notes, Isaiah 65:6,Isaiah 65:7; Jeremiah 32:18; Luke 6:38. Or,
2. Sensibly, so as it may come home to them, and fall heavily upon them in their own persons. Reproached thee, as impotent, or unfaithful, or unmerciful to his own people. So they intimate that this desire did not proceed from a revengeful mind, but from a due sense of God’s favour.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 79". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17