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Bible Commentaries

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Psalms 105

A.M. 2962. B.C. 1042.

The author of this Psalm was David, as is manifest from 1 Chronicles 16:8 , where we learn that the first part of it, at least, to the end of the 15th verse, was delivered by him to Asaph and his brethren, for the constant service of God in his tabernacle. It was composed after he had obtained several victories over the Philistines, 1 Chronicles 14:0 ., and after he had settled the ark of God in Zion. And it is most probable that he afterward enlarged it, (for, as Bishop Patrick asks, who else would presume to do it?) that it might be a more complete commemoration of all the mercies of God toward the Israelites, from the days of Abraham to their taking possession of the land of Canaan. Into this land, he shows, God had conducted them by so many miraculous providences, in several ages, (according to his faithful promise made to Abraham,) that it deserved their most hearty acknowledgments; to which he endeavours to excite them by a variety of expressions in the first five verses of the Psalm. It may therefore be properly termed, “A Psalm of thanksgiving to God, for his mercies to the people of Israel;” and it may serve to admonish the new people of God, as Theodoret speaks, that is, Christians, how much they ought to praise God for his goodness manifested in their redemption and salvation; and how dangerous a thing it is to be ungrateful to him for his benefits; a sin which provoked him to deprive the Jews of that fatherly care which he had taken of their ancestors. As, therefore, we are taught in the foregoing Psalm to praise God for the wonderful works of his common providence, with a reference to the world in general; in this we are directed to praise him for his special favours to his church. Here is the preface, Psalms 105:1-7 . The history itself in several articles; and God’s covenant with the patriarchs, Psalms 105:8-11 . His care of them in a strange land, Psalms 105:12-15 . His raising up Joseph, Psalms 105:16-22 . The increase of Israel in Egypt, and their deliverance out of it, Psalms 105:23-38 . His care of them in the wilderness, and their settlement in Canaan, Psalms 105:39-45 .

Verses 1-4

Psalms 105:1-4. Call upon his name Or, proclaim his name, as קראו בשׁמו , kiru bishmo, may be properly rendered: that is, proclaim the fame and glory of his works, as it follows. Make known his deeds, &c. Let each of you among his people, and even among the heathen, declare God’s mighty acts as he has opportunity; glory ye in his holy name Glory in the God whom you serve as the only true God, and a Being possessed of infinite power and goodness. For nothing can be so great an honour to you as that you are the servants of such a mighty Lord, who infinitely transcends all other beings. Let them rejoice that seek the Lord That seek an acquaintance and friendship with him; that seek to know, love, and serve him here, and to enjoy him hereafter above all the things of the world; seek the Lord and his strength That is, either, 1st, Seek him in his strength, namely, in his sanctuary, as some interpret the expression, or before the ark, which is called God’s strength: or, 2d, Seek his strength, that is, his grace or Spirit, to strengthen you against your enemies, to enable you to do and suffer his will, and to work in you that which is well pleasing in his sight. Many ancient versions read the clause, Seek the Lord, and be strengthened; and, certain it is, they who would be strengthened in the inward man, must derive strength from God by faith and prayer. Seek his face evermore That is, his favour, or the light of his countenance; seek to enjoy this to eternity, and therefore continue seeking it to the end of the time of your probation. Seek it while you live in this world, and you shall have it while you live in the other world: and even then you shall be for ever seeking it in an infinite progression, and yet be for ever satisfied with it.

Verses 5-7

Psalms 105:5-7. Remember the judgments of his mouth Either, 1st, The laws delivered from his mouth: Or rather, 2d, The plagues, or punishments, which he brought upon Egypt by his mere word or command. O ye seed of Abraham his servant Born in his house, his church, and being thereby entitled to the privileges of his servants, you are also bound to do the duty of servants, to consult your master’s honour, obey his commands, and do all that is in your power to advance his interest. Ye children of Jacob his chosen To whom he restrains the former more general expression, because the posterity of Jacob were the only branch of Abraham’s seed included in the covenant, and entitled to the blessings here mentioned. He is the Lord Hebrew, Jehovah, our God A Being self-existent and self- sufficient, having an incontestable sovereignty over us, and unquestionable power to protect and save us. We depend upon him; our expectation is from him; and we ought to be devoted to his service. His judgments are in all the earth Either, 1st, The fame of his judgments upon the Egyptians is spread over the face of the whole earth: Or, 2d, He executes his judgments upon all nations and people.

Verses 8-11

Psalms 105:8-11. He hath remembered his covenant for ever Or, will remember it; that is, practically, so as to perform and make it good. The word The promise; which he commanded Established, or appointed, to a thousand generations To all generations; a certain number being put for an uncertain. And his oath unto Isaac Wherewith he ratified the covenant with him, Genesis 26:3. And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law That it might be as firm and irrevocable as a law; saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan The patriarchs had no right to it, save by promise, and their seed were to be put in possession of it, not by the common ways of settling nations, but by miracles; God would give it them himself, and, as it were, with his own hand; and so that it should be, as their lot, assigned and measured out to them by God, even the lot of their inheritance To which they should have a sure title by virtue of their birth: it should come to them by descent, not by purchase; by the favour of God, and not by any merit of their own.

Verses 12-15

Psalms 105:12-15. When they were but few in number Hebrew, מתי מספר , methee mispar, men of number, so few as easily to be numbered, in opposition to what their posterity afterward were, as the sand of the sea without number: yea, very few The word כמעשׂ , chimgnat, thus rendered, signifies either small as to number, or as to regard and esteem. The meaning probably is, that they were insignificant and inconsiderable as to power, the fewness of their number being mentioned just before. And strangers in it Such were the patriarchs in the land of Canaan. They went from one nation to another Both in Canaan, where there were seven nations, and in Egypt. He reproved kings for their sakes Both verbally, and by his judgments. Saying, Touch not Hurt not, as the word נגע , nagang, is often used; mine anointed My prophets, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who are called God’s anointed, because they were eminently blessed of God, replenished with the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, in respect of which many persons are said, in the Scriptures, to be anointed, who never had any material oil applied to them; and because they were thus consecrated to be his peculiar people, and to be kings and priests in their families. And they are called prophets, because God familiarly conversed with them, and revealed his will to them, and by them to others.

Verses 16-18

Psalms 105:16-18. He called for a famine That is, he brought a famine upon the land. He brake the whole staff of bread Bread, which is the staff or support of men’s lives. He sent a man before them Who was to nourish them in the famine: sent him, by the direction of his secret providence, many years before the famine began. Such are the foresight and timely care of Divine Providence. Whose feet they hurt with fetters Being unjustly charged with a most heinous crime. He was laid in iron Hebrew, נפשׁו ברזל באה , the iron entered his soul, which seems to be added emphatically, to aggravate the misery of his imprisonment, and to show how grievous it was to his very soul. Undoubtedly the false accusation, which was the cause of his imprisonment, the injury which was done him, and the foul and public scandal which lay upon him, must have pained him extremely.

Verses 19-22

Psalms 105:19-22. Until the time that his word came Dr. Waterland renders the verse, Until the time that his saying came to pass, the word of the Lord purged him: and Green translates it, Until the time that his prediction had come to pass, and the word of the Lord cleared him. The meaning seems evidently to be, that notwithstanding his eminent prudence, innocence, and piety, he was detained in prison until the time that his word, or cause, came before the king, and was known; (so it is in our old translation;) or, until his word, or prediction, concerning the chief butler’s promotion, came to pass; for this was the means of Joseph’s enlargement and justification; since a person, guilty of the crime with which he stood charged, would not have been inspired to foretel future events. Can we find, said Pharaoh, such a man as this, a man in whom the Spirit of God is? Genesis 41:38. The word of the Lord tried him Either, 1st, Discovered him unto Pharaoh and his courtiers, and showed how innocent, holy, and wise a person he was, and thereby cleared him from those calumnies which had been cast upon him, and so prepared the way for his release, as it follows Psalms 105:20. Or, 2d, Tried his sincerity and constancy, (the word of the Lord being put for his commandment or decree,) tried him in the furnace of affliction, there refining and preparing him for his approaching exaltation to glory and honour. He made him ruler of all his substance Hebrew, בכל קנינו , of all his possession; that is, of his whole kingdom. To bind his princes By his commands; and, if they were refractory, to punish them. And teach his senators wisdom His wisest counsellors, whom he commanded to receive instruction from Joseph on all occasions.

Verses 23-24

Psalms 105:23-24. Israel also Jacob in person, with his children; came into Egypt Where he and all his were very comfortably and honourably provided for many years. Thus the New Testament church has a place provided for her, even in the wilderness, where she is nourished for a time, times, and half a time, Revelation 12:14. Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham Ham was the father of Mizraim, or the Egyptians, Genesis 10:6. And he, God, increased the people greatly According to the promise made to Abraham, that his seed should be as the sand of the sea for multitude; and made them stronger than their enemies More and mightier, according to Pharaoh’s confession, Exodus 1:9, than the Egyptians, who, of friends, were now become their enemies.

Verse 25

Psalms 105:25. He turned their heart to hate his people Not by putting hatred to his people into their hearts, which would not have been consistent, either with the holiness of his nature, or with the truth of his word; and which was altogether unnecessary, because they, like the rest of mankind, were corrupt by nature, and had the seeds of that, and all other evils, in their hearts; but by withdrawing the influences of that Holy Spirit, which they had long grieved, and done despite unto, and leaving them to their own mistakes, passions, and corrupt inclinations, which, of their own accord, were to take that course. Through this their innate depravity and wickedness it was, that God’s goodness to his people, in increasing their numbers and prospering their affairs, exasperated the Egyptians more and more against them; and though their old antipathy to the Hebrews (of which we read Genesis 43:32; Gen 46:34 ) had been laid asleep for a while, yet now it revived and broke out with more violence than ever. Formerly, they hated them because they despised them, now, because they feared them. They dealt subtly with them Used crafty counsels, and set their wits to work to find out ways and means to weaken and waste them, and prevent their increase. They made their burdens heavy, and their lives bitter; and slew their male children as soon as they were born, and took every method they could think of entirely to destroy them.

Verses 26-27

Psalms 105:26-27. He sent Moses, &c. “When the tyranny and oppression of Pharaoh were at the highest, and Israel cried unto Jehovah because of the bondage, he remembered his promise to Abraham, and sent Moses, with Aaron, to effect that mighty deliverance, which was to be the grand pledge and figure of our redemption by Jesus Christ.” They showed his signs among them Hebrew, דברי אתותיו , dibree othothaiv, the words of his signs; an emphatical expression. First they boldly declared the word and will of God concerning the several plagues, and then they actually inflicted them.

Verses 28-31

Psalms 105:28-31. He sent darkness, &c. This was one of the last plagues, though here mentioned first: God sent darkness, and, coming with commission from him, it came with efficacy; his command made it dark. And they rebelled not against his word That is, the people of Israel were not disobedient to God’s commands by Moses and Aaron, respecting killing the passover, and making preparation, in other respects, to leave Egypt. The old translation follows the LXX., and reads, They were not obedient to his word; which may be applied to Pharaoh and the Egyptians, who, notwithstanding the terror of this plague, would not let the people go; but there is no ground for this interpretation in the Hebrew, the reading of which, however, לא מרו את דברוו , Houbigant translates, His words were not changed, that is, “What God had commanded to be done was done.” Their land brought forth frogs That is, their country brought them forth; for they were produced by their rivers, Exodus 8:3. In the chambers of their kings Which entered into the chambers of Pharaoh, and his sons, and his chief nobles, and governors of provinces under him; such persons being often called kings in Scripture. And lice in all their coasts Or borders, that is, in all their land, even to the remotest parts or borders of it. For a further elucidation of the particulars contained in these and the following verses, to Psalms 105:37, see notes on Psalms 78:43-51.

Verses 37-39

Psalms 105:37-39. He brought them forth also with silver and gold Laden with the spoils of their enemies, which God, who is the absolute lord of all property, empowered them to ask and receive of them, and thereby, as a righteous judge, awarded them “the wages due to their great labours, the Egyptians being now willing and ready to furnish them with any thing required in order to dismiss them,” Exodus 12:33. There was not one feeble person among them Diseased or unable for his journey, although it was to be performed on foot; which, in so vast a body, and in a time of such mortality as it had been in Egypt, and among a people which had been so long and so dreadfully oppressed as the Israelites had been, was wonderful. Egypt was glad when they departed For God had so wonderfully owned them, and pleaded their cause, that the fear of Israel fell upon them, and they owned themselves baffled and overcome. He spread a cloud for a covering To protect them from the heat of the sun, which, in that hot and open country, would otherwise have been intolerable to them, especially in so long a journey: see on Psalms 88:14.

Verses 40-41

Psalms 105:40-41. The people asked, and he brought quails He speaks of the first instance of his giving quails, mentioned Exodus 16:13, which God sent them as a refreshment, graciously pardoning their sin in desiring them; and not of that second instance, recorded Numbers 11:31, when God gave them quails in judgment, which would not have been mentioned here among God’s favours vouchsafed to them. And satisfied them with the bread of heaven With manna, which came down from the air, commonly called heaven: see on Psalms 78:24-29. He opened the rock God, in his common providence, fetches water from heaven, and bread out of the earth; but for Israel, the divine power brought bread from the clouds and water from the rocks: so far is the God of nature from being tied to the laws and course of nature! And the waters gushed out And that not only once, but ran like a river, plentifully and constantly; and, it is thought by many, attended their camp in all their removes, as seems to be implied 1 Corinthians 10:4, where they are said to have drunk of the rock that followed them. Hence they complained no more of want of water till they came to Kadesh, Numbers 20:2, &c. To this instance of the divine goodness that promise alludes, I will give rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen, Isaiah 43:19-20: see on Psalms 78:15.

Verses 42-45

Psalms 105:42-45. For he remembered his holy promise They were unworthy and unthankful, yet he did these great things in their favour because he remembered his covenant, Psalms 105:8, and his holy promise, and would not suffer one iota or tittle of it to fall to the ground. Therefore he brought forth his people with joy Rejoicing greatly that God had so wonderfully appeared for them, and delivered them from that state of cruel and intolerable bondage, under which they had so long groaned; and his chosen with gladness Hebrew, ברנה , berinnah, with shouting, or singing, to see the difference he made between them and the Egyptians; who were drowned in the Red sea, while they were conducted safe through it on dry land. And he gave them the lands of the heathen Put them in possession of the country which he had promised them, many centuries before they existed, casting out seven nations to make room for them in that land. And they inherited the labour of the people The fruits of their labour; the towns and cities which they had builded, and the vineyards and oliveyards which they had planted. That they might observe his statutes, &c. He put them in possession of Canaan, not that they might live in luxury and pleasure, in ease and honour, and be conspicuous and glorious among the nations; not that they should regard Canaan as their paradise, and look no further; but that, being rescued from their enemies, formed into a people, placed under God’s immediate government and protection, and settled in peace and plenty, they might improve the opportunity thus afforded them of serving the Lord their God, in a due attendance upon all his ordinances, and a diligent keeping of all his commandments; and of securing to themselves, through the obedience of faith, an inheritance in an other country, that is to say, a heavenly. “And let all the children of the faithful Abraham,” says Dr. Horne, “whose lot hath fallen in a land flowing with milk and honey upon earth, reflect that God hath given them riches, and the leisure which riches procure, not for the purpose of indulging and corrupting themselves and others, but that they may glorify him, benefit their neighbours, and save their own souls; that they may observe his statutes, and keep his laws. Israel was delivered by Moses, and the church redeemed by Christ, that God might purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works, Titus 2:14.”

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 105". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/psalms-105.html. 1857.