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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Psalms 79

Verse 1

Psalms 79:0.

The Psalmist complaineth of the desolation of Jerusalem: he prayeth for deliverance, and promiseth thankfulness.

A Psalm of Asaph.

Title. ףּלאס מזמור mizmor leasaph. This psalm was probably occasioned by the destruction of the Jewish nation by Nebuchadnezzar. The author describes in it the calamities of the times, and prays God to put an end to them at length. As the prophet Jeremiah lived at this time, and as more than one whole verse of it (see Psalms 79:6-7.) is found in Jer 10:25 it is not unlikely that it was written by him.

Verse 8

Psalms 79:8. O remember not against us former iniquities This may probably have an especial reference to those first sins which this people had been guilty of, after their coming out of Egypt. Such was their idolatry in respect to the golden calf, of which God tells them, In the day that I visit, I will visit this sin upon thee; i.e. this particular sin of theirs. See Exodus 32:34. Accordingly, the Jews have a received maxim, that there is no visitation or punishment in Israel, in which there is not some visitation or infliction for the calf.

Verse 10

Psalms 79:10. Let him be known among the heathen Make thyself known among the nations. Green.

Verse 12

Psalms 79:12. And render, &c.— This seems to respect the Edomites chiefly. See Psalms 137:0.

REFLECTIONS.—In this world the church of Christ is in a militant state: many are the troubles of the righteous; and whither can they so properly carry their complaints, as to him who is able to save them from the hands of their enemies? We have,

1st, The sorrowful complaint of the Israelites.
1. They are invaded, and their country laid waste. O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance, where God himself abode, and his Israel dwelt by his gift. Thy holy temple have they defiled, by entering it, and setting up their abominations there; and this was a bitter grief to the righteous, to whom this temple was dearer than all they held beside. They have laid Jerusalem on heaps; burnt and desolate, and the inhabitants buried in the ruins. Note; The church of God may be sometimes brought to a very low state of misery, but shall rise as a phoenix from her ashes.

2. They were slain and exposed. The dead bodies of thy servants, who fell in the common calamity; for in national judgments it is often seen that the righteous perish with the wicked: or, in hatred to their memory, their enemies dug up their bodies from the graves; these they have given to be meat unto the fowls of the heavens, and the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth.

3. They were reviled. We, the few survivors, are become a reproach to our neighbours: they insult over our fall: Psalms 137:7 a scorn and derision to them that are round about us, who mock at our pretended relation to God, and our professions of expected relief. Note; It is no new thing for the people of God to be loaded with reproach, and turned into ridicule by their ungodly neighbours.

2nd, We have the requests of God's people, under the pressure of their heavy afflictions.
1. They beg that God would avenge their quarrel in the punishment of their oppressors. Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen; which is not to be considered as an imprecation of private revenge, but of public justice, their evil character provoking the wrath of God, as it is added, that have not known thee, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name. Note; (1.) They who live in ignorance of God, and neglect of prayer, will assuredly be visited with his wrath. (2.) Though God permit his faithful people to be oppressed and harassed for a while, he will speedily avenge them of their persecutors.

2. They intreat him not to remember either their own former iniquities, or those of their forefathers, now also visited upon them; but that their consciences might be purged from guilt, and then they hope the sufferings, which were the effects of their sins, would cease. Note; The blood of Jesus alone can purge the conscience; to this therefore the sinner must apply.

3. They importunately pray for speedy deliverance, pleading the greatness of the affliction, and the glory of God concerned in their salvation. Let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us; for sinners have no merit to plead, nor hope but in God's unbounded love. Their case required speedy relief, or they were undone; for we are brought very low, or weak, sin being the disease of the soul, and inevitably mortal, unless the Lord interpose to heal. Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name, and deliver us. All other help they knew was vain; and their own strength but weakness: therefore they cast their care upon him, as every perishing sinner must do, trusting his promises, as the God of their salvation, and pleading his own glory, the most prevailing argument; for his name would be dishonoured by their enemies, if they were suffered to prevail and triumph with impunity. Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is their God? whilst in the salvation of his faithful people a large revenue of praise would accrue to him; and the deeper their distress, the more would he be magnified in their deliverance. Note; (1.) Our greatest extremity is frequently God's opportunity. (2.) The reproaches cast upon God should be a greater grief to us, than any reproaches cast upon ourselves. (3.) When our distress is so great that we can only speak in sighs and groans, even that is a language which God will hear and answer.

4. They engage to render their hearty thanks for such mercy shewn them, So we thy people, and sheep of thy pasture, in which blessed relation they comforted themselves in confidence of speedy help, will give thee thanks for ever; the voice of prayer exchanged for praise, and their sighing turned into songs of joy. We will shew forth thy praise to all generations; recording the wonders of his grace, and ministering matter of thanksgiving to their grateful posterity. Note; (1.) Praise is the tribute that we owe for mercies; and, though ever paying, we must own ourselves poor, even in thanks. (2.) Our experience of divine grace and Providence should be transmitted to the succeeding ages, to engage their trust in God, and excite their praises.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 79". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.