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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Psalms 105

 

 

Verse 1

O give thanks unto the LORD call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people.

Psalms 105:1-45.-God's holiness and power manifested in His past judgments to the seed of Abraham is their ground of hope and thanksgiving (Psalms 105:1-7); God remembers His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob forever, whereby, when they were few in Canaan, He promised it as their inheritance (Psalms 105:8-12); so He saved them amidst dangers (Psalms 105:13-15); He overruled the famine to Joseph's promotion from a prison to rule Egypt: so Israel came there (Psalms 105:16-23); then they were dealt subtilly with; but Yahweh multiplied them the more they were afflicted: by Moses and Aaron, with miracles, He delivered them (Psalms 105:24-28); the plaques on Egypt (Psalms 105:29-38); God guided and sustained Israel in the wilderness (Psalms 105:39-42); He gave them the pagan's lands that they might keep His laws (Psalms 105:43-45). Psalms 104:1-35 consoles Israel in affliction by His manifestation of power and love in nature; Psalms 105:1-45 in history. The promise singled out is that assuring Israel of possessing Canaan. The deliverance out of Egypt suggested to the Jews-probably now in their Babylonian captivity-that God would similarly deliver them out of Babylon. The promise of Canaan to their forefathers, when few and strangers there, gave hope that God would restore their covenanted possession. Psalms 105:23 links Psalms 105:1-45 with Psalms 106:22. The last verse-stating God's design in giving Canaan, that Israel might keep His laws-is the starting point to Psalms 106:1-48 (cf. Psalms 106:3.) The first fifteen verses are from David's psalm, 1 Chronicles 16:8-22. There they are a thanksgiving for the rest in Canaan which God gave, the sign of which was the bringing up of the ark to Zion. Here they are the ground of hope of restoration to Canaan (Psalms 96:1-13, introduction).

Call upon his name - Call upon Him according to His glory manifested in history. After the example of Abraham, who, as often as God manifested His attributes in interposing mightily in his behalf, called upon the Lord's name in solemn worship (Genesis 12:8; Genesis 13:4).

Make known his deeds among the people - Hebrew, 'the peoples' (Psalms 18:49). "His deeds" are His wonders whereby He hath "made Himself a glorious name" (Isaiah 63:14; Psalms 103:7).


Verse 2

Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 3

Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.

Glory ye in his holy name - (Psalms 34:2.) God's "holy name" guarantees the deliverance of Israel out of her present troubles, and is therefore mentioned as what ought to be the object of Israel's glorying; whereas the world glory "in chariots and in horses" (Psalms 20:7).

Let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord - i:e., that trust in Him (Psalms 69:6), even in the sorest distresses, such as the Jews were suffering in Babylon. See introductory notes (cf. Psalms 33:21).


Verse 4

Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore.

Seek the Lord, and his strength. Translate, 'Consult the Lord,' etc. The Hebrew [ daarash (Hebrew #1875)] is different from "seek" in the next clause of this verse, and in the latter clause of last verse. Here it is 'enquire of,' or 'ask of' with word; but [ naaqash (Hebrew #5367)] "seek" in the other two cases means to seek with sedulous effort, rather than with words or interrogation. In David's time, when the psalm was first composed, it referred to inquiries of God at the ark of the covenant (1 Samuel 14:18-19), 'the ark of Yahweh's strength' (Psalms 132:8; Psalms 78:61). Here in Psalms 105:1-45, in the Babylonian captivity, its reference (1 Chronicles 16:11) is to consulting God, so as to prove His strength, whether it will not help you even now as in days of old (Psalms 78:34).

Seek his face evermore - seek to have His face shining on you, as it shone upon Israel formerly (notes, Psalms 24:6; Psalms 27:8), Seek his favour and presence.


Verse 5

Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth;

Remember his marvelous works that he hath done - (Psalms 77:11; Psalms 78:4; Psalms 78:11-12).

And the judgments of his mouth. As "His marvelous works" are the miracles performed in Egypt, so "the judgments of His mouth" are the laws and statutes given at Sinai (Aben Ezra). Rather, as the parallelism between the two clauses requires, "the judgments of His mouth" are God's judicial decisions which He spake, and afterward executed against the Egyptians in behalf of Israel (Genesis 15:14; Exodus 3:20). His Word is sure. He always keeps His promise of judging or vindicating the cause of His elect against the adversary (cf. Ps always keeps His promise of judging or vindicating the cause of His elect against the adversary (cf. Psalms 119:13).


Verse 6

O ye seed of Abraham his servant, ye children of Jacob his chosen.

O ye seed of Abraham his servant - the ground of hope to the afflicted Jews: they are 'the seed of Abraham, God's servant' or client (Psalms 105:42), and are therefore heirs of God's promises to Abraham and Jacob (Romans 9:4).

Ye children of Jacob his chosen. The parallelism favours the Hebrew reading of our manuscript, whereby "His chosen," is genitive singular, and agrees with "Jacob." But the present Hebrew text has the plural agreeing with "ye children:" Psalms 105:43 accords with this (cf. Isaiah 43:20).


Verse 7

He is the LORD our God: his judgments are in all the earth.

He is the Lord our God. Translate, 'He, Yahweh, is our God.' He, as being 'Yahweh,' the unchangeable fulfiller of His promises to His people (Exodus 6:3-6), is still "our God," and will not therefore finally forsake us, low though our present condition be; just as He finally delivered our forefathers out of Egypt, after He had suffered them to endure hard bondage for a time.

His judgments are in all the earth - therefore the two world-power cannot finally prevail against Yahweh's people (Psalms 94:2).


Verses 8-12

He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations.

- He hath remembered his covenant forever, the word which he commanded - or 'ordained' as an unalterable "law" (Psalms 105:10): cf. Psalms 68:28). His "covenant" is (as the parallel word explains) His "word" of promise that Israel should be His chosen people, and should possess Canaan (Psalms 105:11; Psalms 105:42).

To a thousand generations - a verbal allusion to Deuteronomy 7:9 : cf. Exodus 20:6. Connect this clause, not with "which He commanded," but with "He hath remembered" - i:e., He hath remembered, and will remember to all generations His promise (cf. Luke 1:72-73).

Verse 9. Which (covenant) he made with Abraham, and his oath unto Isaac - (Genesis 26:3.) In this verse and Psalms 105:10 He views the covenant in relation to those who received it (Deuteronomy 29:13). In Psalms 105:11 He specifies its contents. On His covenanted word, cf. Haggai 2:5.

Verse 10. And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant - `that it might retain perennial vigour, like some solemnly-proclaimed decree' (Venema). Genesis 28:13; Genesis 35:12, are alluded to.

Verse 11. Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance. The "thee" refers to each one of the three patriarchs to whom severally the promise was addressed: the "your" refers to all three collectively. All the wonders and judgments specified have as their end the fulfillment of this one promise, as most calculated to give hope to the Jews then in Babylon, exiled from Canaan. See introductory notes; also Psalms 78:55.

Verse 12. When they were but a few men in number; yea, very few, and strangers in it. Bad as is our position as exiles in Babylon (the Psalmist implies), it is not worse than that of our forefathers at their first stay in Canaan, "very few, and strangers." They could of themselves do nothing to bring to pass the prophecy of their obtaining Canaan; but God, who gave the promise, fulfilled it: for "there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few" (1 Samuel 14:6). The allusion is to Jacob's words: "Among the Canaanites and the Perizzites, I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me and slay me." "Yea, very few" - literally, 'as a few:' like fewness itself (Isaiah 1:9).


Verse 13

When they went from one nation to another, from one kingdom to another people;

When they went from one nation to another - and so from one danger to another; now in Egypt, now in Syria, now in Canaan, again among the Philistines. "They" - namely, the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with their families; not the Israelites in the wilderness and Canaan. Though few in numbers, and homeless wanderers, they were shielded by God from destruction, and at last, in the person of their seed, were settled in possession of Canaan.


Verse 14

He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes;

He suffered no man to do them wrong; yea, he reproved kings for their sakes - Pharaoh of Egypt (Genesis 12:17) for Abraham's sake; Abimelech of Gerar for Isaac's sake (Genesis 20:3, etc.), to whom chiefly the allusion is.


Verse 15

Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.

(Saying), Touch not mine anointed - a verbal allusion to Genesis 26:11. "Mine anointed" is (Hebrew) plural, and is explained by "prophets" in the next clause.

And do my prophets no harm. The anointing is the sign of the communication of the Spirit. "Mine anointed" are therefore those vessels of honour whom God fills with His Spirit: the consecrated bearers of God's revelation, "in whom the Spirit of God is," as Pharaoh said of Joseph (Genesis 41:38). As the three classes, prophets, priests, and kings, used in later times to be anointed, so the patriarchs, to whom God revealed Himself, bare all three offices combined, and so are termed "mine anointed." So it shall be again in the last days (Isaiah 54:13; Joel 2:28-29; Zechariah 4:14, "the two anointed ones;" Revelation 1:6, "kings and priests unto God and His (Christ's) Father"). In Genesis 20:7, Isaac is termed by God "a prophet." Abraham received communications from God in the two forms usual in prophecy, vision and dream, (Genesis 15:1-21.) So Isaac at Beersheba; Jacob at Bethel, Mahanaim, and Jabbok. The world durst not touch the anointed ones of Yahweh with impunity.


Verses 16-23

Moreover he called for a famine upon the land: he brake the whole staff of bread.

-The circumstances leading to the bringing of the heirs of the promise into Egypt. The Providence of God, so far from allowing the promise to come to nought through this, overruled it to become the very means of accomplishing it (Genesis 45:5, end; 50:20, "As for you, ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good").

Verse 16. Moreover he called for a famine (cf. Haggai 1:11) - as a master calls for a servant ready to do his bidding. On the contrary, God says, Ezekiel 36:29, "I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you." Compare the centurion's words as to sickness being Christ's servant, ready to come or go at His call (Matthew 8:8-9).

Upon the land - Canaan, as well as Egypt, (Genesis 41:54-55; Genesis 42:1-38.)

He brake the whole staff of bread - (Genesis 41:56.) As a staff supports one's body, so bread sustains and 'strengthens' life (Psalms 104:15, end; Leviticus 26:26; Isaiah 3:1; Ezekiel 4:16).

Verse 17. He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant. As Israel in Egypt is elect people.


Verse 24

And he increased his people greatly; and made them stronger than their enemies.

And he increased his people greatly, made them stronger than their enemies - (Exodus 1:7; Exodus 1:9, "Behold (said the new Pharaoh to his people), the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we.")


Verse 25

He turned their heart to hate his people, to deal subtilly with his servants.

He turned their heart to hate his people. God judicially dealt with them according to their perversity, in order that they might afford the opportunity for displaying His glorious power in behalf of His people. God controls men's free acts (1 Samuel 10:9, margin; Exodus 4:21; Exodus 7:3; Exodus 9:16; Proverbs 16:4). It was God who "brought forth" Pharaoh and his chariots in pursuit of Israel (Isaiah 43:17; Psalms 51:4, note).

To deal subtilly with his servants. Carnal wisdom is devilish policy (Exodus 1:10; Acts 7:19). God "taketh the wise in their own craftiness" (Job 5:13). Contrast this state-craft of Pharaoh with Joseph's heaven-taught wisdom (Psalms 105:22).


Verse 26

He sent Moses his servant; and Aaron whom he had chosen.

He sent Moses ... and Aaron whom he had chosen. God's sovereign choice made them the fit instruments for His purpose (Psalms 78:70).


Verse 27

They shewed his signs among them, and wonders in the land of Ham. They showed his signs - literally, 'the things (Hebrew, words) of His signs;' i:e., whole series of His signs, (Psalms 78:43 : cf. the same Hebraism, Psalms 65:3, margin; 145:5, margin.) "Signs" are tokens of His power.


Verse 28

He sent darkness, and made it dark; and they rebelled not against his word.

He sent darkness, and made it dark. The second last plague is only alluded to (Exodus 10:22-23). The "darkness" is mainly figurative. Hence, there follows, as the result the "darkness" which comprises the whole series of ten plagues,

And they rebelled not against his word - any longer, as heretofore. This result did not follow the "darkness" in the limited sense of the one plague; but it did follow the whole ten, including the last-the destruction of the first-born. Compare Psalms 105:36-38. So "I create darkness" is used figuratively, Isaiah 45:7; Isaiah 50:3; Jeremiah 13:16; Amos 5:8. The darkness here stands at the beginning (not in the historical order that the particular plague of darkness stood), to mark how God's wrath hung over Egypt as a dark cloud during all the plagues. Upon God's sending each of the plagues, the Egyptians professed themselves ready to give up their rebellion against God's "word" ("Let my people Israel go, that they may serve me"); but not until the whole series was complete did they give up their rebellion. The other reading, plural, 'His words,' refers to His command, often repeated, to let Israel go.


Verses 29-38

He turned their waters into blood, and slew their fish.

-The three plagues omitted out of the ten are the murrain of the cattle and the boils, the fifth and the sixth, and the darkness, the ninth; the same which are omitted in the parallel psalm, Psalms 78:1-72.

Verse 29-31. He ... slew their fish. Their land brought forth frogs ... flies, and lice in all their coasts. He took away their favourite food, "fish," and sent odious "frogs," both in and out of the water; and besides, upon their land, "flies" (the dog-fly); "and lice" (or gnats) everywhere. Compare Psalms 78:44; Exodus 7:18-21; Exodus 8:3-4.

Verse 32. He gave them hail for rain, and flaming fire ... He smote their vines ... the locusts came, and caterpillars ... And did eat up all the herbs in their land. Thus all the food of the people was destroyed. Instead of the fertilizing showers which He 'gives' to His people (Leviticus 26:4), He gives Israel's foes "hail and flaming fire" (Psalms 78:48). "Caterpillars," - literally, 'the licker up' [ yeleq (Hebrew #3218)], devourers: the hairy-winged locust (Exodus 10:5).

Verse 36-38.-God's wrathful visitation passes from the food of man to man himself. Hence, the ninth plague, which interrupts this progression, is omitted. He smote all the first-born - (Psalms 78:51; Psalms 105:33.)

Verse 37. He brought them forth also with silver and gold - presented to them by the Egyptians as an acknowledgment due for their labours in their bondage; not obtained fraudulently, but by the Lord's special appointment (Exodus 3:21-22; Exodus 11:2-3). It was not through sense of justice in the Egyptians, but in fear, and in order to hasten their departure. Compare Exodus 12:35-36; Genesis 15:14.

And there was not one feeble person among their tribes , [ kowsheel (Hebrew #3782)] - 'not one stumbler,' unfit for the march through lassitude (Exodus 13:18). "The children of Israel went up harnessed (or, as Hengstenberg, strong) out of the land of Egypt" (Isaiah 5:27).

Verse 38. Egypt was glad when they departed; for the fear of them fell upon them - (Exodus 11:1; Exodus 12:33.) On "the fear of them," cf. Deuteronomy 11:25; Exodus 15:16.


Verse 39

He spread a cloud for a covering; and fire to give light in the night.

He spread a cloud for a covering - or protection during their marches. While they were encamped, the cloud rested over the tabernacle (Numbers 10:34). "The cloud of the Lord was upon (i:e., over) them by day, when they went out of the camp." The cloud afforded a grateful shade over the congregation against the sun. Compare, spiritually and metaphorically, Isaiah 4:5-6,

And fire to give light in the night - (Nehemiah 9:12; Numbers 9:16; Exodus 13:21; Psalms 78:14.)


Verse 40

The people asked, and he brought quails, and satisfied them with the bread of heaven.

He brought quails, and satisfied them with the bread of heaven - (Psalms 78:18; Psalms 78:22-27, "the grain of heaven ... angel's food;" Exodus 16:4.) On "satisfied," or filled them to repletion, cf. Exodus 16:3; Exodus 16:8; Exodus 16:12.


Verse 41

He opened the rock, and the waters gushed out; they ran in the dry places like a river. He opened the rock, and the waters gushed out; they ran in the dry places like a river - (Psalms 78:16; Psalms 78:20.)


Verse 42

For he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham his servant.

For he remembered his holy promise - the ground of His wonderful acts of long-suffering tenderness.

(And) Abraham his servant - rather, connected with "promise;" 'His holy promise to Abraham' (Genesis 15:14-18). His promise is that engaging the possession of Canaan to Abraham's seed, Psalms 105:8-9; Psalms 105:11. Exodus 2:24 is alluded to.


Verse 43

And he brought forth his people with joy, and his chosen with gladness:

And he brought forth his people ... with gladness - literally, 'with a shout of ovation' [ rinaah (Hebrew #7440)].


Verse 44

And gave them the lands of the heathen: and they inherited the labour of the people;

And gave them the lands of the heathen - (Psalms 78:55.)

And they inherited the labour of the people - Hebrew, peoples; namely, the fruits of their labour, their grain and vineyard (Deuteronomy 6:10-11).


Verse 45

That they might observe his statutes, and keep his laws. Praise ye the LORD. That they might observe his statutes (Deuteronomy 4:1; Deuteronomy 4:40; Psalms 78:7.) Thus, the two-fold reason for God's loving dealings with Israel was:

(1) Faithfulness to His covenant on His part;

(2) That they on their part might obey Him

Obedience on the part of Abraham in 'keeping the way of the Lord' appears in Genesis 18:19, as an object of the covenant made by God with him (Genesis 18:19). Disobedience on the Jews' part, the Psalmist implies, is the cause of their existing captivity in Babylon, and also of their forfeiture of the covenanted possession of Canaan. What ground of hope then remains? It is the purpose of the third psalm in the trilogy, Psalms 107:1-43, to solve this difficulty.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 105:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/psalms-105.html. 1871-8.

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