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Monday, July 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 105

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary


The first fifteen verses of this psalm are found in 1 Chronicles 16:8-22, and are there assigned to David on occasion of the second removal of the ark. It was a moment in the national history for a review of the mercies and faithfulness of God along the ages, keeping covenant with his people in all their changing conditions. It is not necessary to seek further for the date of the poem. The Septuagint makes it a praise-psalm by inserting “hallelujah” in the title. In its subject it is an exhortation to praise God and faithfully keep his covenant, urged by a rehearsal of his judgments in the accomplishment of his promises to Abraham and the fathers. The poet simply follows down the order of events, aiming at nothing beyond giving the history a lyrical form. The poetic form is exceedingly simple, and the verses, which are throughout distichs, may be grouped as follows: Psalms 105:1-6, an earnest exhortation to give thanks and sing unto God, and to speak of and remember his works; Psalms 105:7-11, a rehearsal of God’s faithful remembrance of his covenant with Abraham, to give to his seed the land of Canaan; Psalms 105:12-24, the providence of God to his people in their earliest history, prior to the exodus; Psalms 105:25-38, the ever wonderful story of the exodus; Psalms 105:39-45, the desert life of Israel and their settlement in Canaan. See also introductions to Psalms 96, 106

Verse 1

1. Oh give thanks This verse is the same as Isaiah 12:4. The one is copied from the other. Three particular modes of glorifying God are mentioned. The first is a personal offering to God of praise and thanksgiving; the second, prayer, as Genesis 4:26; Psalms 116:12; Psalms 116:17; the third to declare, teach, cause to be known among the people, (the nations) his deeds, Psalms 107:22

Verse 2

2. Sing With the voice.

Sing psalms The word denotes singing, with playing on an instrument as an accompaniment.

Talk ye Either publish, as in Isaiah 53:8, or meditate, as the word often means; for meditation is speaking to one’s self. Psalms 119:48; Psalms 119:78; Psalms 143:5

Verse 3

3. Glory ye Or, boast ye. Comp. Psalms 34:2; Galatians 6:14

Verse 4

4. And his strength “Strength,” here, is sometimes understood figuratively of the sanctuary, as in Psalms 78:61. Thus, to seek God’s “strength” is “to be earnest and constant in attending upon the public worship of Jehovah in the place where his ark, the symbol of his ‘strength,’ is deposited.” French and Skinner. But it is better to take it as in the English text. The “strength” of God was the refuge and defense of his people. See Psalms 27:1; Psalms 29:11; Psalms 68:34-35. It is parallel to seek his face that is his favour, in the next member.

Verse 5

5. Marvellous works… wonders The words are nearly equal, with perhaps a rising in the sense, as if he would say, “his wonders,” his miraculous tokens. The allusion is to the miracles of Egypt, the desert, and the settlement in Canaan. Psalms 78:4; Psalms 78:12.

Judgments His judicial sentences, as in Psalms 105:7. God’s words are all of the nature of law, and his providential ‘“works” are illustrative applications of law.

Verse 6

6. Abraham… Jacob He reminds them of their holy ancestry: they are the children of those whom God had called, and chosen, and loved; and he grounds the foregoing exhortation in these hallowed relations and memories.

Verse 7

7. He is the Lord our God Having earnestly exhorted them to faithfulness and zeal in the service of God by a rapid glance at his works, and by their holy lineage, the psalmist now proceeds to extol the mighty acts of God, and his marvellous patience and fidelity through all the ages of their history, as their highest incentive to obedience and faithfulness. The mention of Abraham and Isaac (Psalms 105:6) had already suggested the “covenant,” which he intimates in the “our God,” and expressly mentions Psalms 105:8

Verse 8

8. Covenant See Genesis 17:0; Genesis 22:16-18; Genesis 26:3-5; and Genesis 28:13-15. This was the foundation of their national, not less than their church, life and character, and of all the promises of God to them as a people. Compare Galatians 3:16-17.

Commanded Established with authority, as Psalms 111:9. This habit of appealing to the perpetuity and validity of the ancient covenant, and later of the covenant with David, is a remarkable feature of the faith of the Hebrews. It was their firm anchorage in perils, and their lifeboat in the wreck of the nation during the Babylonian captivity. See Psalms 89:2-4; Psalms 89:18-37; Micah 7:20.

Thousand generations Same as for ever in the first hemistich and Psalms 105:10. Deuteronomy 7:9. This “covenant” God had faithfully remembered, and the implied admonition to the people to remember it is at once delicate and forcible.

Verse 9

9. Oath See Genesis 22:16; Hebrews 6:13-18; Deuteronomy 29:12

Verse 10

10. For a law The covenant of Abraham was the fundamental law, or charter, of the Hebrew Church and commonwealth, as it is of the gospel. See Luke 1:68-75.

Everlasting covenant Literally so, as the nature of the subject requires us to understand it, for it contained the germ of gospel promise and doctrine. Galatians 3:8; Romans 4:13

Verse 11

11. Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan This geographical position and isolation of the Hebrew Church was, historically, an essential element and starting point of the covenant, which has been more particularly described Psalms 105:8-11. All divine revelation and manifestation are thus grafted into human history.

Verse 12

12. In Psalms 105:12-24, the psalmist touches the salient points of Hebrew history from the patriarchs to Moses.

Few The Hebrews, in the times of the patriarchs, numbered less than any of the seven nations who held possession of Canaan. Deuteronomy 7:7; Deuteronomy 26:5; Genesis 34:30.

Strangers Same as sojourners, Psalms 105:23; Genesis 35:27

Verse 13

13. From one nation to another From tribe to tribe among the original inhabitants of Canaan. The expression indicates not only an unsettled, but insecure, mode of life. The patriarchs sojourned among the Amorites, Hittites, Jebusites, Philistines, Canaanites, Perizzites, and were brought into contact with other tribes, besides their abode in Egypt.

Verse 14

14. Reproved kings The allusion is specially to Pharaoh and Abimelech. Genesis 12:17; Genesis 20:3

Verse 15

15. Anointed The “anointed” was the one set apart to a special purpose or office, whether as king, priest, or prophet, by pouring oil upon the head. In the Old Testament this anointing was a standing symbol of what we denominate, in New Testament times, the grace, gifts, and callings of the Holy Spirit. In the text it applies to the three Hebrew patriarchs.

Prophets Same as anointed. So called Genesis 20:7. The word here takes its radical sense one who speaks under a divine influence.

Verse 16

16. Famine Recorded Genesis 41:54-57.

Staff of bread That is, support of bread, their reliance for sustentation. This famine extended over Arabia, Palestine, Syria, and the surrounding nations.

Verse 17

17. He sent a man before them The whole story of Joseph and the famine was a link in the chain of providence for bringing the Hebrew family into Egypt, and sustaining them under the shadow of the then mightiest government of the earth till the full time should come for their settlement in Canaan.

Verse 18

18. Hurt with fetters The Egyptian laws were very severe against the crime of which Joseph was wickedly charged. “An attempt at adultery was to be punished with one thousand blows.” Delitzsch. Joseph’s punishment was much lighter. Potiphar probably doubted the story of his wife. Still, Joseph was put with the “king’s prisoners” in a “dungeon,” or pit, “bound,” as guilty of a state crime, (Genesis 39:20,) until he obtained favour of the “keeper of the prison,” and his condition was alleviated.

He was laid in iron Hebrew, his soul came into iron.

Verse 19

19. Until the time The trial of grace must come before the honour of reward.

His word came That is, His word came to pass, as 1 Samuel 9:6.

The word of the Lord The word which God revealed to him in prison and before Pharaoh. Genesis 40:12; Genesis 41:25.

Tried him The meaning is, that the interpretation which Joseph gave of dreams, while in prison, must come to pass, as a test of his supernatural knowledge, before he could gain the confidence of the king and rise above his reproach and suffering.

Verse 20

20. The king sent This was the beginning of his exaltation. It was from the pit, or dungeon, by the supreme authority.

Ruler of the people Same as “king” in preceding line.

Verse 21

21. The description of Joseph’s affairs which follows is best interpreted by the history. Genesis 41:39-44.

House… substance Comprehending his subjects and realm.

Verse 22

22. At his pleasure Hebrew, with his soul, a Hebraism for by his will. Absolute power.

And teach his senators wisdom He that could thus interpret dreams was justly placed over all wise men, magicians, necromancers, or astrologers, of the heathen. Compare Daniel 2:48; Daniel 4:9; Daniel 4:18

Verse 23

23. Israel… came into Egypt This, with its results, explains the wonderful story of Joseph, or of divine providence concerning him.

Land of Ham So called from Ham, the father of Mizraim, which latter settled Egypt. Genesis 10:6. Egypt is everywhere called “Mizraim” in the Hebrew Scriptures. Egypt is its Greek name.

Verse 24

24. Made them stronger than their enemies See Exodus 1:7-9, where they are said to be “more and mightier” than the Egyptians; that is, than native born Egyptians; probably, not more than the total population under the government. The defense of the nation rested with the native citizens. Not their numbers only, but the superior strength, of the Hebrews alarmed the Egyptians. At the time of the exodus the Hebrews are commonly computed to have numbered about two and a half millions, and up to the date of Exodus 1:8, they had political power. from this to Psalms 105:38 the events leading to the exodus are rehearsed.

Verse 25

25. He turned their heart God turned the heart of the Egyptians against Israel, not by a direct agency, but by being the occasion. The great increase of the Hebrews, which was of God, excited their jealousy, and brought on the oppression and persecutions which prepared Israel to leave Egypt without regret. Exodus 1:10, seq. Thus God often drops bitterness into our cup when we could not otherwise be weaned from it.

Verse 27

27. His signs Literally, the words of his signs; that is, the meaning of his miracles, which were the tokens of his supremacy and of his will.

Verse 28

28. Darkness This was the ninth plague. Exodus 10:21-23. The poet does not follow the historic order of the miracles. The causative form of the verb indicates a direct act of God. in producing this phenomenon, as distinct from ordinary natural darkness, fit emblem of the ignorance of the people and the wrath of God.

They rebelled not That is, Moses and Aaron, who are here to be considered the subject of the verb. Though reluctant to begin, (Exodus 3:4,) they had stood firm to the word of God through all this terrible scene.

Verses 29-36

29-36. For an explanation of these verses see notes on Psalms 78:44-51

Verse 34

34. Locusts… caterpillars These words must signify either different species of the locust family, or different stages of their propagation. The former seems quite probable, for the larva, or unwinged locust, does not fly, and could not be brought in by a “wind.” In Exodus 10:0, only the ארבה , ( arbeh, the common name for locust,) is mentioned, while in the text the arbeh and ילק , yelek, and in the parallel place, (Psalms 78:46,) the arbah and חסיל , hhaseel, are named. But neither yelek nor hhaseel is ever translated “locust” in our English Version, but the former always “caterpillar,” and the latter either canker-worm or caterpillar. The distinction is seen Joel 1:4: “That which the ‘locust’ ( arbeh) hath left hath the canker-worm ( yelek) eaten, and that which the yelek hath left hath the ‘caterpillar’ ( hhaseel) eaten.” These words may be used, in the text and Psalms 78:46, interchangeably for greater variety of diction, but it would rather seem, upon a comparison of all the places where they occur, that they denote different species of “locust,” which have not yet been clearly identified. This idea greatly aggravates the features of the judgment upon Pharaoh, as leaving the land absolutely waste and barren in their track.

Verse 37

37. With silver and gold God had promised Abraham (Genesis 15:14) that his descendants should “come out of Egypt with great substance;” and again to Moses, “When ye go ye shall not go empty.”

Exodus 3:21. The words “silver and gold” refer to Exodus 11:2; Exodus 12:35, where the Hebrew word is not “borrow,” but ask, require; and in Psalms 105:36, where the word is rendered lent, the Hiphil form of the verb means, to suffer to ask; literally, to cause to ask, that is, to lend a willing ear to the asker, and to grant his request. “No proof can be brought that the word means to lend, as is commonly supposed. The word occurs again in 1 Samuel 1:28, and there it means to grant or give.” Keil and Delitzsch.

Verse 38

38. Egypt was glad God had prepared Israel, by their bitter bondage, to leave Egypt without regret; and by his judgments on Egypt had made the Egyptians willing, even glad, that they should depart. Exodus 12:31-33. The Egyptian account of the affair was, according to Josephus, ( Con. App. 1: 26, 32,) that the Egyptians expelled them by force of arms on account of their leprosy, their hatred of the Egyptian gods, and their military invasion of the kingdom, and pursued them into Syria. Compare with this, for absurdity, the Pharisees’ story of the resurrection of Jesus, Matthew 28:11-15. But, contrariwise, the masses of the people took sympathy with the Israelites. Exodus 11:2-3; Exodus 12:36. See note on Psalms 105:37

Verse 39

39. He spread a cloud for a covering The “cloud” was for a screen from the sun’s heat by day, and for a light by night, and to indicate the times and directions of their marches. It was the standing symbol of God’s presence and protection. See note on Psalms 78:14, and compare Exodus 13:21-22; Nehemiah 9:12. Having reviewed the history of the exodus, the psalmist opens, in Psalms 105:39-41, a rapid survey of the wilderness life, which he sums up in the three miraculous wonders the cloud, food, and the supply of water.

Verse 40

40. Quails This would seem, by the order of events named, to refer to the first supply of quails, Exodus 16:12-13. For second supply, see on Psalms 78:26.

Bread of heaven Same as “angels’ food,” “corn of heaven,” manna. Psalms 78:24-25, where see note.

Verse 41

41. The rock The reference is particularly to Horeb, Exodus 17:6. See note on Psalms 78:16

Verse 42

42. This and the following verses form the conclusion of the psalm.

He remembered These wonders were in fulfilment of God’s covenant with Abraham, (Psalms 105:8-11,) and in reward of the patriarch’s fidelity.

Verse 43

43. Brought forth his people with joy A fitting type of the deliverances and triumphant joy of the spiritual Church. See Isaiah 35:10. And this joy should have remained with them through all their desert life. A joyful deliverance from sin, followed by rebellious, unbelief, murmurings, and discontent, can never recommend the religion of God and of Christ to a wicked world.

Verse 44

44. See on Psalms 78:55.

Inherited the labour Not the fields and vineyards only, but houses, cities, and all public works.

Verse 45

45. That they might observe his statutes This is the ultimate end of all the wonderful dispensations of God in calling and planting his Church; and in view of so glorious a result of the divine dispensation, and the admirable methods for securing it, we join the psalmist in his closing “hallelujah.”

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 105". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/psalms-105.html. 1874-1909.
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