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Jamieson, Fausset & Brown :: Commentary on Psalm 105

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The Book of Psalms

Commentary by A. R. FAUSSET

PSALM 105

Psa 105:1-45. After an exhortation to praise God, addressed especially to the chosen people, the writer presents the special reason for praise, in a summary of their history from the calling of Abraham to their settlement in Canaan, and reminds them that their obedience was the end of all God's gracious dealings.

      1. call. . . name-- ( Psa 79:6 Rom 10:13 ). Call on Him, according to His historically manifested glory. After the example of Abraham, who, as often as God acquired for Himself a name in guiding him, called in solemn worship upon the name of the Lord ( Gen 12:8 13:4 ).
      among the people--or, "peoples" ( Psa 18:49 ).
      deeds--or, "wonders" ( Psa 103:7 ).

      3, 4. Seeking God's favor is the only true mode of getting true happiness, and His strength ( Psa 105:4 ) is the only true source of protection (compare Psa 32:11 40:16 ).
      Glory. . . name--boast in His perfections. The world glories in its horses and chariots against the Church of God lying in the dust; but our hope is in the name, that is, the power and love of God to His people, manifested in past deliverances.

      5, 6. judgments. . . mouth--His judicial decisions for the good and against the wicked.

      6. chosen--rather qualifies "children" than "Jacob," as a plural.

      7. Rather, "He, Jehovah, is our God." His title, "JEHOVAH," implies that He, the unchangeable, self-existing Being, makes things to be, that is, fulfils His promises, and therefore will not forsake His people. Though specially of His people, He is God over all.

      8-11. The covenant was often ratified.
      word--answering to "covenant" ( Psa 105:9 ) in the parallel clause, namely, the word of promise, which, according to Psa 105:10, He set forth for an inviolable law.
      commanded--or, "ordained" ( Psa 68:28 ).
      to a thousand generations--perpetually. A verbal allusion to Deu 7:9 (compare Exd 20:6 ).

      9. Which covenant--or, "Word" ( Psa 105:8 ).

      10, 11. Alluding to God's promise to Jacob ( Gen 28:13 ). Out of the whole storehouse of the promises of God, only one is prominently brought forward, namely, that concerning the possession of Canaan ( Psa 105:11 ). Everything revolves around this. The wonders and judgments have all for their ultimate design the fulfilment of this promise.

      12-15. few. . . in number--alluding to Jacob's words ( Gen 34:30 ), "I being few in number."
      yea, very few--literally, "as a few," that is, like fewness itself (compare Isa 1:9 ).
      strangers--sojourners in the land of their future inheritance, as in a strange country ( Hbr 11:9 ).

      13. from one nation to another--and so from danger to danger; now in Egypt, now in the wilderness, and lastly in Canaan. Though a few strangers, wandering among various nations, God protected them.

      14. reproved kings--Pharaoh of Egypt and Abimelech of Gerar ( Gen 12:17 20:3 ).

      15. Touch not--referring to Gen 26:11, where Abimelech says of Isaac, "He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely be put to death."
      mine anointed--as specially consecrated to Me ( Psa 2:2 ). The patriarch was the prophet, priest, and king of his family.
      my prophets--in a similar sense, compare Gen 20:7. The "anointed" are those vessels of God, consecrated to His service, "in whom (as Pharaoh said of Joseph, Gen 41:38 ) the Spirit of God is" [HENGSTENBERG].

      16. God ordered the famine. God
      called for a famine--as if it were a servant, ready to come at God's bidding. Compare the centurion's words, as to disease being God's servant ( Mat 8:8, 9 ).
      upon the land--namely, Canaan ( Gen 41:54 ).
      staff of bread--what supports life ( Lev 26:26 Psa 104:15 Isa 3:1 ).

      17-21. Joseph was sent of God ( Gen 45:5 ).

      18. hurt with fetters-- ( Gen 40:3 ).
      was laid in iron--literally, "his soul" (see on JF & B for Ps 16:10), or, "he came into iron," or, he was bound to his grief (compare Psa 3:2 11:1 ). The "soul" is put for the whole person, because the soul of the captive suffers still more than the body. Joseph is referred to as being an appropriate type of those "bound in affliction and iron" ( Psa 107:10 ).

      19. his word came--His prophecy ( Gen 41:11-20 ) to the officers came to pass, or was fulfilled ( Jdg 13:12, 17 1Sa 9:6, explain the form of speech).
      the word of the Lord--or, "saying," or "decree of the Lord."
      tried him--or, "proved him," by the afflictions it appointed him to endure before his elevation (compare Gen 41:40-43 ).

      22. To bind--Not literally bind; but exercise over them absolute control, as the parallel in the second clause shows; also Gen 41:40, 44, in which not literal fettering, but commanding obedience, is spoken of. It refers to Psa 105:18. The soul that was once bound itself now binds others, even princes. The same moral binding is assigned to the saints ( Psa 149:8 ).
      teach. . . senators wisdom--the ground of his exaltation by Pharaoh was his wisdom ( Gen 41:39 ); namely, in state policy, and ordering well a kingdom.

      23-25. Israel. . . and Jacob--that is, Jacob himself is meant, as Psa 105:24 speaks of "his people." Still, he came with his whole house ( Gen 46:6, 7 ).
      sojourned-- ( Gen 47:4 ).
      land of Ham--or, Egypt ( Psa 78:51 ).

      25. turned their heart--God controls men's free acts (compare 1Sa 10:9 ). "When Saul had turned his back to go from (God's prophet) Samuel, God turned (Margin) him another heart" (see Exd 1:8, &c.). Whatever evil the wicked man plots against God's people, God holds bound even his heart, so as not to lay a single plan except what God permits. Thus Isaiah ( Isa 43:17 ) says it was God who brought forth the army of Pharaoh to pursue Israel to their own destruction ( Exd 4:21 7:3 ).

      26. Moses. . . chosen--both what they were by divine choice ( Psa 78:70 ).

      27. signs--literally, "words of signs," or rather, as "words" in Hebrew means "things," "things of His signs," that is, His marvellous tokens of power ( Psa 145:5, Margin). Compare the same Hebraism ( Psa 65:3, Margin).

      28-36. The ninth plague is made prominent as peculiarly wonderful.
      they rebelled not--Moses and Aaron promptly obeyed God ( Hbr 11:27 ); (compare Exd 7:1 - 11:10, with which this summary substantially agrees). Or, rather, the "darkness" here is figurative ( Jer 13:16 ), the literal plague of darkness ( Exd 10:22, 23 ) being only alluded to as the symbol of God's wrath which overhung Egypt as a dark cloud during all the plagues. Hence, it is placed first, out of the historical order. Thus, "They rebelled not (that is, no longer) against His word," refers to the Egyptians. Whenever God sent a plague on them, they were ready to let Israel go, though refusing when the plague ceased.
      his word--His command to let Israel go [HENGSTENBERG]. Of the ten plagues, only eight are mentioned, the fifth, the murrain of beasts, and the sixth, the boils, being omitted.

      29-31. He deprived them of their favorite "fish," and gave them instead, ( Psa 105:30 ) out of the water, loathsome "frogs," and ( Psa 105:31 ) upon their land tormenting "flies" (the dog-fly, according to MAURER) and "lice" (gnats, according to HENGSTENBERG).

      32. gave them--referring to Lev 26:4. "I give you rain in due season." His "gift" to Israel's foes is one of a very different kind from that bestowed on His people.
      hail for rain--instead of fertilizing showers, hail destructive to trees. This forms the transition to the vegetable kingdom. The locusts in Psa 105:34 similarly are destructive to plants.

      33. their coasts--all their land ( Psa 78:54 ).

      34. caterpillars--literally, "the lickers up," devouring insects; probably the hairy-winged locust.

      36. the chief--literally, "the firstlings." The ascending climax passes from the food of man to man himself. The language here is quoted from Psa 78:51.

      37. with silver and gold--presented them by the Egyptians, as an acknowledgment due for their labors in their bondage (compare Exd 12:35 ).
      one feeble person--or, "stumbler," unfit for the line of march. Compare "harnessed," that is, accoutred and marshalled as an army on march ( Exd 13:18 Isa 5:27 ).

      38. (Compare Exd 12:33 Deu 11:25 ).

      39. covering--in sense of protection (compare Exd 13:21 Num 10:34 ). In the burning sands of the desert the cloud protected the congregation from the heat of the sun; an emblem of God's protecting favor of His people, as interpreted by Isaiah ( Isa 4:5, 6; compare Num 9:16 ).

      42-45. The reasons for these dealings: (1) God's faithfulness to His covenant, "His holy promise" of Canaan, is the fountain whence flowed so many acts of marvellous kindness to His people (compare Psa 105:8, 11 ). Exd 2:24 is the fundamental passage [HENGSTENBERG]. (2) That they might be obedient. The observance of God's commands by Abraham was the object of the covenant with him ( Gen 18:19 ), as it was also the object of the covenant with Israel, that they might observe God's statutes.
      remembered. . . and Abraham--or, "remembered His holy word (that is, covenant confirmed) with Abraham."

      44. inherited the labour--that is, the fruits of their labor; their corn and vineyards ( Jos 21:43-45 ).

Psalm 138:2

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