|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
74:18-23 The psalmist begs that God would appear for the church against their enemies. The folly of such as revile his gospel and his servants will be plain to all. Let us call upon our God to enlighten the dark nations of the earth; and to rescue his people, that the poor and needy may praise his name. Blessed Saviour, thou art the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. Make thy people more than conquerors. Be thou, Lord, all in all to them in every situation and circumstances; for then thy poor and needy people will praise thy name.
Verse 20. - Have respect unto the covenant. The "covenant" intended is probably that made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, whereby Canaan was assured to their descendants, as "the lot of their inheritance." Israel is being deprived of its inheritance, and dragged off into "dark places." Will not "respect for his covenant" induce God to interpose, and even now at the last gasp deliver his afflicted ones? For the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty. Israel is being dragged into "dark places of the earth" - benighted lands, where there is no glimmer of the light of God's truth - and lands, moreover, which are "full of habitations of cruelty," abodes, i.e., where captives taken in war are treated with harshness and violence.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Have respect unto the covenant,.... The Targum adds,
"which thou hast made with our fathers;''
meaning not the covenant of works, which being broken, no good thing was to be expected from it, not liberty, life, nor eternal salvation, but all the reverse; but the covenant of grace, made with Christ before the world was, and made manifest to Adam, to Noah, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to David, and others: this God has a respect unto, and does look unto it; he looks to the surety and Mediator of it, which is Christ, for the fulfilment of all conditions in it; to the promises of it, that they may be made good; to the blessings of it, that they be bestowed upon the persons to whom they belong; to the blood of it, for the delivering of the church's prisoners, and the salvation of them from wrath to come; and to the persons interested in it, that they be all called and brought safe to glory; and particularly to the things in it, respecting the glory of the church in the latter day, and increase of its members, and of its light, which seem chiefly designed here; and therefore it follows:
for the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty; many places of the earth are in gross darkness as to the knowledge of spiritual and divine things; even all those places which are inhabited by Pagans, Mahometans, and Papists, which make a great part of the globe; and in these dark places cruelty reigns, and especially in the antichristian states; wherefore the church pleads the covenant of God and his promises, that he would send forth his light and his truth, and cover the earth with the knowledge of the Lord, which is now covered with gross darkness, and under the tyranny and oppression of the man of sin.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
20. And the prevalence of injustice in heathen lands is a reason for invoking God's regard to His promise (compare Nu 14:21; Ps 7:16; 18:48).
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