|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
106:13-33 Those that will not wait for God's counsel, shall justly be given up to their own hearts' lusts, to walk in their own counsels. An undue desire, even for lawful things, becomes sinful. God showed his displeasure for this. He filled them with uneasiness of mind, terror of conscience, and self-reproach. Many that fare deliciously every day, and whose bodies are healthful, have leanness in their souls: no love to God, no thankfulness, no appetite for the Bread of life, and then the soul must be lean. Those wretchedly forget themselves, that feast their bodies and starve their souls. Even the true believer will see abundant cause to say, It is of the Lord's mercies that I am not consumed. Often have we set up idols in our hearts, cleaved to some forbidden object; so that if a greater than Moses had not stood to turn away the anger of the Lord, we should have been destroyed. If God dealt severely with Moses for unadvised words, what do those deserve who speak many proud and wicked words? It is just in God to remove those relations that are blessings to us, when we are peevish and provoking to them, and grieve their spirits.
Verse 28. - They joined themselves also unto Baal-peor (see Numbers 25:3). The exact expression used in the Pentateuch is repeated. It signifies a mystic union, such as was supposed to exist between a heathen god and his worshippers, and to be kept up by sacrificial meals and the like. "Baal-peor" - i.e. "the Lord of Pehor" - is probably identified with Chemosh. And ate the sacrifices of the dead. The corresponding phrase in Numbers (Numbers 25:2) is, "the sacrifices of their gods," who were "dead," as opposed to the true living God.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
They joined themselves also unto Baalpeor,.... Or to the idol Peor, as the Targum. Baal, which signifies Lord or master, was a common name for an idol in many countries; wherefore, to distinguish one from another, an additional name was used. Baalzephon was the god of the Egyptians; Baalzebub the god of the Ekronites; and here Baalpeor the god of the Moabites: for the fact referred to was committed when the children of Israel were on the borders of Moab, and when Balak sent for Balaam to curse them; who at last advised him to draw them to commit fornication with the daughters of Moab; who might then prevail upon them to commit idolatry, which would bring the wrath of God upon them. And in this he succeeded. The above idol had its name of Peor either from the obscene actions done in the worship of it, too filthy to be related, and which, it is thought, are referred to in Hosea 9:10. It seems to be the Priapus of the Heathens. Or, as others, from a mountain of this name, where was the house or temple in which it was worshipped: hence we read of Mount Peor, and of Bethpeor, Numbers 23:28. So Suidas (t) says, Baal is Saturn, and Peor the place where he was worshipped. Or else from some great man of this name, Lord Peor; who being of great fame and note among the Moabites, for some extraordinary things done by him, was deified and worshipped after his death; as was common among the Heathens. To this idol the Israelites joined or "yoked" themselves, as the word (u) signifies: they withdrew themselves from the yoke of the true God, whose yoke is easy, and put their necks under the yoke of an idol; which was to be unequally yoked: or they were tempted unto it; they committed spiritual whoredom with it, which is idolatry; they left their first and lawful husband, to whom they were married, and joined themselves to an idol, and cleaved to it. The phrase is expressive of their fellowship with it, and with the idolatrous worshippers of it; they devoted and gave up themselves to the worship of it; just as the true worshippers of God are said to join themselves to him, Jeremiah 50:6, they were, as the Septuagint renders it, initiated into the rites and mysteries of this idol.
And ate the sacrifices of the dead; which were offered up to this lifeless statue. So idols are called the dead, in opposition to and distinction from the living God, Isaiah 8:19. Or they partook of the feasts which were kept in honour of their dead deified hero, Lord Peor; see the history in Numbers 25:1. These were sacrifices offered to the Stygian Jupiter, or Pluto, called by the Phoenicians Mot (w), the same with Chemosh, the god of the Moabites; and who also was Baalpeor, according to Jerom (x).
(t) In voce (u) "conjugati sunt", Vatablus; "subdiderunt sese jugo", Gejerus. (w) Sanchoniatho apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 1. p. 38. Vid. Castell. Annot. Samar. p. 13. in vol. 6. Lond. Polyglott. (x) Comment. in Esaiam, fol. 26. H.
The Treasury of David
28 They joined themselves also unto Baal-peor, and ate the sacrifices of the dead.
29 Thus they provoked him to anger with their inventions; and the plague brake in upon them.
30 Then stood up Phinehas, and executed judgment; and so the plague was stayed.
31 And that was counted unto him for righteousness unto all generations for evermore.
"They joined themselves also unto Baal-peor." Ritualism led on to the adoration of false gods. If we choose a false way of worship we shall, ere long, choose to worship a false god. This abomination of the Moabites was an idol in whose worship women gave up their bodies to the most shameless lust. Think of the people of a holy God coming down to this. "And ate the sacrifices of the dead." In the orgies with which the Baalites celebrated their detestable worship Israel joined partaking even in their sacrifices as earnest inner-court worshippers, though the gods were but dead idols. Perhaps they assisted in necromantic rites which were intended to open a correspondence with departed spirits, thus endeavouring to break the seal of God's providence, and burst into the secret chambers which God has shut up. Those who are weary of seeking the living God have often shown a hankering after dark sciences, and have sought after fellowship with demons and spirits. To what strong delusions those are often given up who cast off the fear of God! This remark is as much needed now as in days gone by.
"Thus they provoked him to anger with their inventions: and the plague brake in upon them." Open licentiousness and avowed idolatry were too gross to be winked at. This time the offences clamoured for judgment, and the judgment came at once. Twenty-four thousand persons fell before a sudden and deadly disease which threatened to run through the whole camp. Their new sins brought on them a disease new to their tribes. When men invent sins God will not be slow to invent punishments. Their vices were a moral pest, and they were visited with a bodily pest: so the Lord meets like with its like.
"Then stood up Phinehas, and executed judgment: and so the plague was stayed." God has his champions left in the worst times, and they will stand up when the time comes for them to come forth to battle. His righteous indignation moved him to a quick execution of two open offenders. His honest spirit could not endure that lewdness should be publicly practised at a time when a fast had been proclaimed. Such daring defiance of God and of all law he could not brook, and so with his sharp javelin he transfixed the two guilty ones in the very act. It was a holy passion which inflamed him, and no enmity to either of the persons whom he slew. The circumstances were so remarkable and the sin so flagrant that it would have involved great sin in a public man to have stood still and seen God thus defied, and Israel thus polluted. Phinehas was not of this mind, he was no trimmer, or palliator of sin, his heart was sound in God's statutes, and his whole nature was ablaze with zeal for God's glory, and therefore, though a priest, and therefore not obliged to be an executioner, he undertook the unwelcome task, and though both transgressors were of princely stock he had no respect of persons, but dealt justice upon them as if they had been the lowest of the people. This brave and decided deed was so acceptable to God as a proof that there were some sincere souls in Israel that the deadly visitation went no further. Two deaths had sufficed to save the lives of the multitude.
"And that was counted unto him for righteousness unto all generations for evermore." Down to the moment when this Psalm was penned the house of Phinehas was honoured in Israel. His faith had performed a valorous deed, and his righteousness was testified of the Lord, and honoured by the continuance of his family in the priesthood. He was impelled by motives so pure that what would otherwise have been a deed of blood was justified in the sight of God; nay, more, was made the evidence that Phinehas was righteous. No personal ambition, or private revenge, or selfish passion, or even fanatical bigotry, inspired the man of God; but zeal for God, indignation at open filthiness, and true patriotism urged him on.
Once again we have cause to note the mercy of God that even when his warrant was out, and actual execution was proceeding, he stayed his hand at the suit of one man, finding, as it were, an apology for his grace when justice seemed to demand immediate vengeance.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
28-30. sacrifices of the dead—that is, of lifeless idols, contrasted with "the living God" (Jer 10:3-10; compare Ps 115:4-7; 1Co 12:2). On the words,
joined themselves to Baal-peor—see Nu 25:2, 3, 5.
Baal-peor—that is, the possessor of Peor, the mountain on which Chemosh, the idol of Moab, was worshipped, and at the foot of which Israel at the time lay encamped (Nu 23:28). The name never occurs except in connection with that locality and that circumstance.
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