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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Psalms 78



Verse 9

9. The psalmist has introduced his subject, and prepared the way for the admonitory rehearsal of God’s acts of sovereign authority toward the nation.

The children of Ephraim—The reader will remember that the sacred ark and tabernacle had abode at Shiloh, within the tribal limits of Ephraim, more than 300 years, from the time of Joshua (Joshua 18:1-10) until the time of Eli. 1 Samuel 1:3; 1 Samuel 1:9. The ark then passed from Shiloh and remained at Bethshemesh and Kirjath-jearim till David removed it to Zion. 2 Samuel 6. From this time the seat of the national worship was fixed within the tribal limits of Judah. The allusions of the psalmist are to the events recorded 1 Samuel 4, which should be read in this connexion. The tribe of Ephraim was specially reprehensible, because the ark being within its limits the Ephraimites were chiefly responsible for its protection; whereas it was by a military order that the priests brought it into the camp. The chief object of the psalmist being to show that the protectorship of the ark and national worship had passed, by the sovereign order of God, from Ephraim to Judah, he strikes at once and boldly into the heart of his theme, namely, the treacherous conduct of Ephraim in bringing the ark into the military camp, (1 Samuel 4:3-5,) by which they forfeited their rank as the ruling tribe. The allusion is to the events of 1 Samuel 4.

Armed, and carrying bows—Literally, Armed and shooting with the bow, as in Jeremiah 4:29. The description is that of an army advancing to battle and discharging its missiles as they advance.

Turned back— “Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent.” 1 Samuel 4:10

Verse 10

10. They kept not the covenant of God—As already stated, they had forsaken God, and God had now forsaken them, and this was the real cause of their cowardice, which is here set down as crime. We must understand Ephraim, not exclusively, but as the leading tribe, and responsible for the day’s disasters, especially for the capture of the ark, which had been taken from Shiloh contrary to the will of God.

Verse 12

12. As in Psalms 78:10-11, the psalmist had charged the defection of Ephraim to their forgetting God’s works and wonders of old, so now (Psalms 78:12) he takes up the nation’s history to show that, from first to last, God alone had been their deliverer and protector.

Zoan—The Greek Tanis, situated on the Tanitic branch of the Nile, about forty miles from the eastern frontier of the kingdom, on the beautiful low lands, as its name signifies. For its antiquity see Numbers 13:22. At the time of the Exodus it was the capital of Lower Egypt, and here Moses communed with Pharaoh. It figures largely in the prophets, but is now a heap of ruins. The field of Zoan denotes the Nome, or province of the city, or its suburban lands. Anciently a rich plain extended eastward from the city as far as Pelusium, nearly thirty miles.

Verse 13

13. Waters to stand as a heap—Or, as a mound, a piled up mass; or, as in Exodus 14:22; Exodus 14:29, as a wall, which implies also, as the history states, a defence. Compare Habakkuk 3:10. It is impossible, despite modern rationalism, to construe the Bible account into any thing less than a stupendous miracle. We must admit the miracle or abandon the history.

Verse 14

14. He led them—See Psalms 105:39

Verse 15

15. Rocks—The plural indicates that the psalmist compresses into one the two miracles, the first at Horeb in the first year after the exodus, (Exodus 17:6,) and the second in the fortieth year, at Kadesh, Numbers 20:1; Numbers 20:11.

Great depths—The Hebrew word signifies ocean depths, abyss, as in Genesis 1:2. Both at Sinai and Kadesh vast quantities of water were required; at the former place because of the length of their stay there, and at the latter because there were fewer natural supplies. This is specially true if we locate Kadesh, with Dr. Robinson, at Ain el-Weibeh in the Arabah, in the southeast limit of Palestine, though this feature of the case would be much relieved if we adopt Mr. Palmer’s hypothesis, and locate Kadesh at Ain Gadis, (“a name which, in meaning and etymology, is identical with the Kadesh of the Bible,”) seventy miles south by west from Ain el-Weibeh, in a region well cultivated in ancient times.

Verse 16

16. Caused waters to run down like rivers—An important circumstance for their ready supply at all times without inundating the camp. As in Psalms 78:15 the quantity of water is


mentioned, so is here its distribution, a point next in importance for the convenience of tents and flocks extending several miles down the valley es-Sheikh. The general approach of the Israelites to Sinai was from the northwest, and must, from the well-ascertained conformation of the land, have been through the broad wadies Feiran and es-Sheikh, which latter heads at the northeast base of Sinai. If we accept Jebel Mousa as the place of receiving the law, and the cleft at the “nether end” of Ras Sufsafeh as the point of its proclamation to the people, and the vast plain er-Rahah as the audience-room for assembling the people, (all which seems fully established,) then the rock in Horeb from which the waters flowed must have been somewhere along the base of Sufsafeh, or farther west at the mouth of Wady el-Lejah. Tradition locates it at the latter place. From thence the water would flow eastward along the base of Ras Sufsa-feh, where the winter torrent still flows, through a deep-cut channel, into Wady es-Sheikh, and thence through Wady Feiran into the Gulf of Suez. This whole distance of connecting valleys is about seventy miles. At the time of smiting the rock, the camp of Israel was at Rephidim, which we must locate, according to some, in the beautiful Wady Feiran, not far from where it unites with and receives the waters of es-Sheikh, twenty-miles from Horeb; or, according to others, in Wady es-Sheikh, twelve miles from the latter place; for God had said to Moses, “Go on before the people… and I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb.” Exodus 17:5-6. In obedience to this order, Moses probably took the shorter route, impassable for caravans, up the Nagb Hawa, a wild gorge leading into er-Rahah from the north. After smiting the rock the people advanced up the circuitous caravan route of Wady es-Sheikh, and encamped in its broad plains at Sinai, near to where it unites with the great plain er-Rahah. We may suppose that they also occupied the numerous neighbouring wadies, many of which were fertile. This section of the valley is called, in Scripture, “the desert of Sinai.” Exodus 19:1-2. They were now chiefly in a broad, open valley, in the bed of which flowed the copious brook or river from the rock Horebthe same that is alluded to Deuteronomy 9:21; Exodus 32:20. This stream continued to flow during all their stay at Sinai, about eleven months, Numbers 10:11-13. Comp. Exodus 19:1. During this time we must suppose that er-Rahah served as an audience room, where the people assembled to receive the law from Moses, who, for this purpose, is supposed to have stood in the notable cleft at the perpendicular front of Ras Sufsafeh. From this point, also, they beheld the awful scenes of Sinai, for it is said that for this purpose “they were brought forth out of the camp,” (Exodus 19:16-17,) a phrase which does not at all comport with their tenting in er-Rahah, but exactly suits their encampment in es-Sheikh and neighbouring valleys. From the plain er-Rahah the bluff of Ras Sufsafeh, the northern terminus of Horeb, rises abruptly about 2,000 feet. The bluff itself is divided by a deep chasm into two peaks, and so perpendicularly does it rise from the plain, that one can easily approach and touch the mount with his hand. See Hebrews 12:18, and compare Exodus 19:21; Exodus 20:18; Exodus 20:21; Deuteronomy 4:11. The plain er-Rahah is 4,000 feet above the sea, measuring over two miles in length by a third to two thirds of a mile in width, and is capable, by actual measurement, of furnishing standing room for 2,500,000 persons, allowing a square yard for each person, (Palmer,) and is hemmed in on all sides, except the broad gap of wady es-Sheikh on the southeast, by “lofty granite ridges, with shattered peaks a thousand feet high.” From these suggestions, assisted by the accompanying diagram and cuts, the reader may form some idea of the locality of the camp and miracles alluded to in the text. The rock of Horeb is mentioned by the apostle Paul as a type of Christ, (1 Corinthians 10:4,) from the miraculousness, copiousness, and the life-giving virtue, of its waters.



Verse 18

18. Tempted God— “They wished to put God to the proof, with a view to renounce him altogether, in case he should not give them what they wanted.”Hengstenberg. And this was at their first permanent halting-place after leaving Sinai. So soon (after three days’ march, Numbers 10:33) were effaced the awful impressions at the giving of the law!

Asking meat for their lust—The complaint began with the “mixed multitude” which had followed them out of Egypt. Numbers 11:4. The manna sufficed for temperate and healthful desert life, but meat was demanded as a luxury. The history says “they lusted a lust,” that is, they lusted inordinately. Blind appetite, in man or brute, is unreasoning, impatient, and rebellious.

Verse 19

19. They spake against God—And, in reply, “the wrath of God arose against them.” Psalms 78:21.

Can God furnish a table— “For one single meat could not content them, unless they might delight themselves in manifold plenty and variety.”Calvin.

Verse 20

20. Instead of gratitude and faith, as the fruit of former mercies, they doubtingly and complainingly challenge the power of God to further miracles.

Psalms 78:23-25 are a description of the abundance, suitableness, and miraculous method of their former supplies, and the ingratitude and causelessness of their complaints.

Verse 24

24. Manna—Hebrew מנ, (man,) according to Gesenius from the Arabic, which signifies a portion, gift, because it was an allotment bestowed from Heaven. But more probably, in the popular phraseology, (Keil and Delitzsch,) used for מה, (mah,) an interrogative, who? what? The Israelites did not know what to call it, and they exclaimed מנ הוא, What is this? (Exodus 16:15,) not “It is manna,” as in our English version. Josephus says, (Ant., book iii, chap. i, sec. 6,) “The Hebrews call it manna, for the particle man in our language is the asking a question, What is this?” and so the passage should read. In form and colour it is compared to coriander seed, globular, and of whitish colour. Numbers 11:7. It is not to be confounded with the manna now known in merchandise, nor with the Arabian manna, a resinous substance which exudes from the leaf of the tamarisk, or turfa, as described by Burckhardt (Travels in Syria, etc., p. 500) and other travellers, and called in Arabic mann. Ehrenberg discovered that this manna flows from the puncture of an insect. Its colour is a cloudy yellow, its taste like honey, and slightly aromatic. It falls in crystal drops from the trees, and is still gathered by the Arabs as a luxury. Though gathered in June, Lieutenant Welsted found the twigs in September retaining the sweetness of the gum. He says, in the best seasons the quantities gathered about Sinai may amount to $9,000 in value in the Cairo market. But the quantity necessary to sustain the Israelites for one week has been computed to be not less than 15,000,000 pounds. But neither in quantity nor quality does this compare with the Israelitish manna.

Corn of heaven—Poetical for manna.

Verse 25

25. Man did eat—Every “man,” without exception. There was no lack at any point to give cause to the complaint. See Exodus 16:16-18.

Angels’ food—So called because of its origin and of its excellent quality. The Septuagint has αρτον αγγελων, food of angels, and so the Vulgate, angelorum. So our English version; but the Hebrew word אבירים, (abeereem,) here rendered “angels,” is not the word for celestial beings, but simply denotes one that is physically strong, mighty, whether man or beast, as in Jeremiah 8:16; Lamentations 1:15, or figuratively, one that is noble, of high rank. If the former is adopted in the text (Hammond) it is a rebuke of their complaint of its being “light food,” unsuited to robust men, (Numbers 21:5;) if the latter, (Gesenius,) it denotes the high quality of their diet, as belonging to nobles, princes; and in either case is a reproof of their murmurings.

Verse 26

26. East wind—This refers to the second supply of quails, Numbers 11:31. For the first supply, see Psalms 105:40. According to the Hebrew text, two “winds,” from the east and south, were called into action jointly, meeting at the Israelitish camp. The history simply says, “a wind from the Lord.” According to Hebrew usage, a south “wind” might come from any point between southeast and southwest. The Septuagint and Vulgate have “southwest wind.” This would bring the quails migrating northward from southern Arabia, and the interior of Africa, directly over the camp, and being weary of wing, and baffled by an easterly “wind,” they would fall at the point required. It is not uncommon for quails to fly thus in large numbers, and, when weary, they are easily killed with a stick by Arab boys. In this case the miracle was in giving strength and direction to the “winds” to assist their flight to the given time and place, and then there to arrest it. The quail is a round and plump bird, about the size of the turtle-dove, (see on Psalms 105:40,) of low and heavy flight, much dependent on favorable “winds” in its migratory passages. In Numbers 11:31, “Upon the face of the earth” refers to their low flight over, or above, “the face of the earth.”

Verse 27

27. He rained flesh… as dust—That is, in profusion. The allusion is to the “dust” of the sirocco. In this same desert, further north, Dr. Robinson says: “At eleven o’clock the wind changed to the south, and blew a perfect tempest. The atmosphere was filled with fine particles of sand, forming a bluish haze; the sun was scarcely visible, his disk exhibiting only a dim and sickly hue. Often we could not see ten rods around us, and our eyes, ears, mouth, and nose were filled with sand.”

Feathered fowls—Hebrew, Birds of wing; which refutes the theory that locusts, not quails, are intended.

Verse 29

29. Were well filled—Hebrews, were satiated greatly. The language indicates excess, gluttony, and it lasted an entire mouth. The place was called Kibroth-hattaavahthe graves of greediness.

Verse 30

30. They were not estranged from their lust—Indulgence never cures unlawful appetites, nor awakens gratitude to God.

Verse 31

31. The wrath of God—It does not appear that the plague and mortality which broke out were wholly a natural result of their intemperance, but a direct judgment of God, which made their feasting a loathsomeness and terror.

Fattest of them—Not only the healthiest and most robust, but the chiefs, or, as in next line, the chosen… of Israel, which shows how strong and deep had been the disaffection.

Verse 32

32. They sinned still—Namely, at Kadesh, (Numbers 14;) and at their second arrival at Kadesh, thirty-eight years after, (Numbers 20;) in their murmur at the destruction of Korah and his company, (Numbers 16:41;) and later, in the Arabah, south of Mount Hor, (Numbers 21:4-9;) and in the valley of Jordan, (Numbers 25:1,) besides other instances of lesser note.

Believed not—Did not continue in faith. Their chastisements and their mercies were alike a “savour of death unto death.”

Verse 33

33. Their days did he consume in vanity—During the thirty-eight years of their wandering, after the sentence of Numbers 14:28-35, nothing is recorded of them except the conspiracy of Korah and his company, and a few camp stations. Vanity and trouble fill up the monotonous record. Psalms 90:9

Verse 34

34. When he slew them, then—The “when” and “then” are emphatic words. If we give a more uniform rendering to ו, (ve,) “then,” “and” “but,” in the English version, so as to preserve its relation to the contingent particle, אמ, (eem,) when, if, we get a clearer contrast between the character of God and that of his people as given Psalms 78:34-39. Thus: When he slew them, then they sought him, Then they turned and early sought God, Then they remembered that God is their rock, Then [they remembered] God Most High, their redeemer, Then they enticed him with their mouth; Then with their tongue they did lie unto him; Then their heart was not established with him; Then they were not steadfast in his covenant: But he, being merciful, purged their iniquity, And destroyed them not, And many a time he turned his anger away, And did not stir up all his wrath, And he remembered that they were flesh, A wind going that will not return.

Their repentance, being extorted by the pressure of their judgments, and not by conviction and godly sorrow for sin, was insincere, fickle, and false, and wrought out no reformation of life or true obedience. God, therefore, could govern them only with the rod and with terror.

Verse 41

41. Limited—See on Psalms 78:18-19. They either questioned God’s power, or prescribed to him what to do and what not to do.

Verse 43-44

43, 44. Field of Zoan—See on Psalms 78:12.

Rivers into blood—This was the first plague. Exodus 7:20-21. The plural, rivers, includes the Nile with its arms and canals. Isaiah 19:6-8; Ezekiel 29:3-5; Ezekiel 29:9-10. Whether the waters were literally changed to blood, or merely into the appearance of blood, (as 2 Kings 3:22-23,) is not known, but that they were chemically changed, and had the appearance of blood, is certain, for the effect was to kill all fish and water animals, and to render the water unfit for drink or use. Exodus 7:19. It also symbolized the vengeance of God for the innocent blood of his people, (Exodus 1,) and rebuked the Egyptian idolatry, which paid divine honours to the Nile, and considered it identical with Osiris and the highest God.


Verses 43-53

43-53. Having surveyed the wilderness life of the people, (Psalms 78:14-42,) the author now returns to the wonders of Egypt and the exodus, which he had already anticipated. Psalms 78:12-13

Verse 45

45. Divers sorts of flies—This was the fourth plague. Exodus 8:21. The English translation of ערב, (‘arobh,) here and Psalms 105:31, supposes a mixture of species, but the commonly accepted derivation of the word by modern critics does not justify this ancient interpretation, but denotes a species that stings like a scorpion and sucks blood. See Isaiah 7:18. Clark (Israel in Egypt, p. 22) would favour the common fly of Egypt, which is bad enough. Van Lennep (Bible Lands, page 323,) supposes “the destructive fly called tsaltsalya by the Abyssinians and tsetse in South Africa, which kills cattle and horses, and attacks men.” The Septuagint reads κυνομυιαν, dog-fly. The precise species is not known. Flies are terrible in Egypt and Palestine. Baal-zebub, lord of flies, was the god of Ekron, and was supposed to protect from flies.

Frogs—These were by the law “unclean” and “abominable,” (Leviticus 11:12-13,) and emblematic of the “spirits of devils.” Revelation 16:13-14. The vilest creatures were made the instruments of the humiliation and sufferings of the Egyptians.

Verse 46

46. Caterpillar… locust—If, as some suppose, the former word ( הסיל, hhaseel) denotes the larva, or caterpillar stage of the locust, then the latter word ( ארבה, arbeh,) must signify the winged locust: but if the former be taken for locust, the latter must be understood of some particular species, like the Acridium peregrinum, more terrible for its destructive habits. The Septuagint has ερυσιβη, blight, canker, and in Psalms 105:34, βρουχος, a species of locust without wings, or otherwise answering to the unwinged locust when it emerges from the caterpillar stage, at which time they are as destructive as in the mature state, moving along on the ground in vast numbers. In this state, Van Lennep say, “They are correctly pictured on a Babylonian gem.” See more on Psalms 105:34

Verse 47

47. Hail—Not uncommon in Egypt, but this, for severity, exceeded any hail tempest ever known. The miracle consisted in the unwonted severity of the storm, (Exodus 9:22-25,) and in its being foretold. Psalms 78:18.

Sycamore—Or fig mulberry, or wild fig tree, abounding in Egypt. Its leaves are like the mulberry, and its fruit like the fig, affording large supplies to the poor, and hence cultivated. 1 Chronicles 27:28.

Frost— The Hebrew word occurs nowhere else in Scripture, but as it is parallel to “hail” in the preceding member, the obvious climax of the verse would lead us to suppose icy hailstones of great weight, which destroyed animals, and even trees, where the common hailstone destroyed only the vine. See Joshua 10:11; Revelation 16:21. The marginal reading is “great hailstones.”

Verse 48

48. Hot thunderbolts—The word indicates balls, or streams, of fire, like red hot coals, as in Habakkuk 3:5; Song of Solomon 8:6. It was an unparalleled electrical phenomenon, even for an Egyptian climate. The narrative says, “The fire ran along upon the ground.” Exodus 9:23

Verse 49-50

49, 50. Evil angels—That is, good angels as the executioners of evil, as 2 Kings 19:34; 1 Chronicles 21:15. It is better to understand it thus than to personify the physical causes of the plague. The idea of wicked angels, Satanic agencies, is inadmissible here.

He made a way to his anger—Literally, He weighed a path for his anger. His judgments were by due measure, accurately weighed out, according to their sin and the moral ends to be served. See Leviticus 26:21-28.

But gave their life over— Their living ones. “Life” is to be taken in the concrete for things having life. It is parallel to soul in the previous member, which also should be taken concretely.

Verse 51

51. Smote all the firstborn—The last and effectual plague. The greatness of the judgment, and its singular feature in falling only upon the “firstborn,” marked it as a direct visitation of God. It struck down the chief of their strength, and another step might have extinguished the nation. The firstborn of beast included their sacred animals; the goat, ram, calf, sacred bull, crocodile, all were smitten, and their gods and worship brought into contempt.

Tabernacles of Ham—A poetical designation of Egypt, called Ham, (or the dark skinned race,) after its ancestor, (Genesis 10:6,) but otherwise in Hebrew always Mizraim, after the son of Ham, who settled the country. The ancients often designated nations according to their colour, the Hebrews after their ancestry. See on Psalms 105:23

Verse 53

53. Safely… they feared not—They had no cause of fear, for God was with them. Their exodus was not a flight in terror, but an orderly march. That their departure was a bold measure, humanly speaking, appears from all the facts in the case, and is thus recognised in the New Testament, Hebrews 11:27. But faith in God inspired them with superhuman courage.

Verse 54

54. Border of his sanctuary—The border of his holy place, that is, Canaan, so called because measured by line, limited and devoted for ever to the covenanted people for the moral ends of God’s great plan of redemption.

This mountain—Either parallel to “holy place,” in the previous hemistich, or the author anticipates himself, and the phrase is to be understood of the mountains of Judah, in which were Zion and Moriah, as the religious centre of the nation. See Psalms 78:68

Verse 55

55. Having reached the border of the sacred territory, the psalmist now passes rapidly over the settlement of the tribes, and hastens to his ultimate object, the moral causes of the removal of the ark and tabernacle from Shiloh to Zion.

Divided them an inheritance by line—The idea is, that God had originally determined everything involving the national destiny by his own sovereign authority, casting out the heathen and giving their land to Israel; dividing their tribal and family inheritances by accurate measurement. See the history, (Joshua 12-21,) and compare Psalms 44:1-3; Psalms 135:12. Should not, therefore, so grave a matter as the location of the ark and tabernacle be subject to his sovereign will?

Verse 56

56. Yet they tempted… God—Profiting nothing by the nation’s experience in the wilderness, the people now repeat the follies and incur the punishments of their forefathers. The Israel of Canaan and the Israel of the wilderness are alike. The complaint here recorded, is for sins committed after the death of Joshua. Judges 2:7-13. On “tempted,” see on Psalms 78:18, and Psalms 95:9-10.

Provoked—Properly, rebelled against. The idea is that of active antagonism. See on Psalms 78:8, and Psalms 107:11, where the same word occurs.

Verse 57

57. Turned aside like a deceitful bow—Hebrew, a bow of guile, not sending the arrow direct to the mark, owing to the unequal strength and elasticity of its parts. Hosea 7:16. Or, if we put the bow by metonomy for the archer, as in Isaiah 21:17 and elsewhere, it is one who purposely turns the arrow aside from the markunreliable, treacherous. The most common words for sin, both in the Old and New Testaments, ( חשׂא, αμαρτια,) are derived from verbs which literally signify to miss, to miss the mark. Faithlessness and deceit supply the fundamental idea.

Irregularities in worship, immoralities in life, the adoption of idolatry and heathenish customs, deface the history of the Israelites through the period of the Judges, to which Psalms 78:56-58 exclusively refer.

Verse 59

59. When God heard—A judicial hearing is intended. The cry of their sins had come before him, and judgment could no longer be delayed. See 1 Samuel 2:12-36

Verse 60

60. He forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh—Read the history, 1 Samuel 4. The tabernacle had been in Shiloh for three hundred years, from the time of Joshua. Joshua 18:1. It was, after the removal of the ark, taken to Nob, (1 Samuel 21:1-6;) thence, after the death of Samuel, to Gibeon, (1 Chronicles 1:3-4;) whence it was transferred by Solomon to the temple. 1 Kings 8:4; 2 Chronicles 5:5. The ark was returned by the Philistines to Bethshemesh, thence to Kirjath, in Judah, and thence to Zion by David. 2 Samuel 6. Neither ark nor tabernacle ever returned to Shiloh a blow from which the tribe of Ephraim never recovered.

Verse 61

61. His strength—The ark of the covenant, the most holy emblem of God’s power, holiness, and presence with his people. An obvious reference to the capture of the ark by the Philistines. 1 Samuel 4

Verse 62

62. He gave his people… unto the sword—Thirty thousand fell in the battle. 1 Samuel 4:10

Verse 63

63. The fire consumed their young men—Literally, The fire ate their young men. Such was the severity of the battle. So the same word, Psalms 27:2. No enemies of Israel were more cruel than the Philistines.

Their maidens were not given to marriage—Literally, Their maidens were not praised, or eulogized, as was the custom at their marriage. Bishop Mant versifies it:

“No nuptial song their maidens praised.”

In oriental custom it is a great reproach for a maiden to remain unmarried after twelve or thirteen years of age. The slaughter of thirty thousand youth plunged the tribes in deep mourning.

Verse 64

64. Their priests fell—Probably those who had, in great numbers, accompanied the ark into the camp with Hophni and Phinehas. 1 Samuel 4:11; 1 Samuel 4:17.

Their widows made no lamentation—As the bodies received no formal burial, the usual forms of funeral mourning were not observed. See Jeremiah 22:18

Verse 65

65. Then the Lord awaked—He had suffered their irreverent conduct to proceed without check to this extremity, that he might punish both Israel and Philistia by the consequences of their irreligion.

Verse 66

66. He smote his enemies in the hinder parts—The language admits of a twofold sense. First, that of wounding a retreating enemy in the backan ineffaceable disgrace. Secondly, of smiting them with the painful and loathsome disease called the hemorrhoidsas God did the Philistines. 1 Samuel 5:6-7; 1 Samuel 5:12; 1 Samuel 6:4, where see notes. The disease was reproachful both in its nature and severity, for the purpose was, as stated, to “put them to endless shame.”

Verse 67

67. Joseph—A patronymic for Ephraim. Genesis 48. The tabernacle of Joseph is the tabernacle as consigned to the care of the tribe of Ephraim, to which God now refuses for ever this honour.

Verse 68

68. But chose the tribe of Judah—This is the point to which the whole psalm has reference, and the ultimate object of the author. God, who had sovereignly led Israel out of Egypt, through the desert, into the Land of Promise, had himself transferred the ark and tabernacle to Zion, and placed the national worship under the protectorate of the tribe of Judah and the house of David.

Verse 69

69. He built his sanctuary… like the earth—This divine order in respect of his sanctuary is established as the order of the celestial spheres. The three closing verses are inimitably sweet and touching, both as a eulogy of David and a tribute of praise to God. The psalm is a monumental testimony to the reverence which the true Israel paid to the decrees and appointments of God, as the fundamental laws both of Church and State.


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 78:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

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