|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
77:1-10 Days of trouble must be days of prayer; when God seems to have withdrawn from us, we must seek him till we find him. In the day of his trouble the psalmist did not seek for the diversion of business or amusement, but he sought God, and his favor and grace. Those that are under trouble of mind, must pray it away. He pored upon the trouble; the methods that should have relieved him did but increase his grief. When he remembered God, it was only the Divine justice and wrath. His spirit was overwhelmed, and sank under the load. But let not the remembrance of the comforts we have lost, make us unthankful for those that are left. Particularly he called to remembrance the comforts with which he supported himself in former sorrows. Here is the language of a sorrowful, deserted soul, walking in darkness; a common case even among those that fear the Lord, Isa 50:10. Nothing wounds and pierces like the thought of God's being angry. God's own people, in a cloudy and dark day, may be tempted to make wrong conclusions about their spiritual state, and that of God's kingdom in the world. But we must not give way to such fears. Let faith answer them from the Scripture. The troubled fountain will work itself clear again; and the recollection of former times of joyful experience often raises a hope, tending to relief. Doubts and fears proceed from the want and weakness of faith. Despondency and distrust under affliction, are too often the infirmities of believers, and, as such, are to be thought upon by us with sorrow and shame. When, unbelief is working in us, we must thus suppress its risings.
Verse 4. - Thou holdest mine eyes waking; literally, thou boldest the watches of mine eyes; i.e. preventedst me from obtaining any sleep. I am so troubled that I cannot speak; literally, I was perplexed and did not speak. The perplexity was probably caused by an inability to understand God's ways. Why had he afflicted his people? Was the affliction always to continue? Was Israel cast off?
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Thou holdest mine eyes waking,.... Or, "the watches", or rather "keepers of the eyes" (m); the eyebrows, which protect the eyes; these were held, so that he could not shut them, and get any sleep; so R. Moses Haccohen interprets the words, as Jarchi observes; and so the Targum,
"thou holdest the brows of my eyes;''
a person in trouble, when he can get some sleep, it interrupts his sorrow, weakens it at least, if it does not put a stop to it; wherefore it is a great mercy to have sleep, and that refreshing, Psalm 127:1, but to have this denied, and to have wearisome nights, and be in continual tossing to and fro, is very distressing:
I am so troubled that I cannot speak; his spirits were so sunk with weariness, and want of sleep in the night, that he could not speak in the morning; or his heart was so full with sorrow, that he could not utter himself; or it was so great that he could not express it; or his thoughts were such that he dared not declare them; or he was so straitened and shut up in himself that he could not go on speaking unto God in prayer.
(m) "vigilias", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Tigurine version; "palpebras oculorum meorum", Musculus, Cocceius; "palpebras quasi custodias oculorum", Michaelis.
The Treasury of David
4 Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
5 I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times.
6 I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.
7 Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more?
8 Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore?
9 Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah.
"Thou holdest mine eyes waking." The fears which thy strokes excite in me forbid my eyelids to fall, my eyes continue to watch as sentinels forbidden to rest. Sleep is a great comforter, but it forsakes the sorrowful, and then their sorrow deepens and eats into the soul. If God holds the eyes waking, what anodyne shall give us rest? How much we owe to him who giveth his beloved sleep! "I am so troubled that I cannot speak." Great griefs are dumb. Deep streams brawl not among the pebbles like the shallow brooklets which live on passing showers. Words fail the man whose heart fails him. He had cried to God but he could not speak to man, what a mercy it is that if we can do the first, we need not despair though the second should be quite out of our power. Sleepless and speechless Asaph was reduced to great extremities, and yet he rallied, and even so shall we.
"I have considered the days old, the years of ancient times." If no good was in the present, memory ransacked the past to find consolation. She fain would borrow a light from the altars of yesterday to light the gloom of to-day. It is our duty to search for comfort, and not in sullen indolence yield to despair; in quiet contemplation topics may occur to us which will prove the means of raising our spirits, and there is scarcely any theme more likely to prove consolatory than that which deals with the days of yore, the years of the olden time, when the Lord's faithfulness was tried and proved by hosts of his people. Yet it seems that even this consideration created depression rather than delight in the good man's soul, for he contrasted his own mournful condition with all that was bright in the venerable experiences of ancient saints, and so complained the more. Ah, sad calamity of a jaundiced mind to see nothing as it should be seen, but everything as through a veil of mist.
"I call to remembrance my song in the night." At other times his spirit had a song for the darkest hour, but now he could only recall the strain as a departed memory. Where is the harp which once thrilled sympathetically to the touch of these joyful fingers? My tongue, hast thou forgotten to praise? Hast thou no skill except in mournful ditties? Ah me, how sadly fallen am I! How lamentable that I who like the nightingale could charm the night, am now fit comrade for the hooting owl. "I commune with mine own heart." He did not cease from introspection, for he was resolved to find the bottom of his sorrow, and trace it to its fountain head. He made sure work of it by talking not with his mind only, but his inmost heart; it was heart work with him. He was no idler, no melancholy trifler; he was up and at it, resolutely resolved that he would not tamely die of despair, but would fight for his hope to the last moment of life. "And my spirit made diligent search." He ransacked his experience, his memory, his intellect, his whole nature, his entire self, either to find comfort or to discover the reason why it was denied him. That man will not die by the hand of the enemy who has enough force of soul remaining to struggle in this fashion.
"Will the Lord cast off for ever?" This was one of the matters he enquired into. He painfully knew that the Lord might leave his people for a season, but his fear was that the time might be prolonged and have no close; eagerly, therefore, he asked, will the Lord utterly and finally reject those who are his own, and suffer them to be the objects of his contemptuous reprobation, his everlasting cast-offs? This he was persuaded could not be. No instance in the years of ancient times led him to fear that such could be the case. "And will he be favourable no more?" Favourable he had been; would that goodwill never again show itself? Was the sun set never to rise again? Would spring never follow the long and dreary winter? The questions are suggested by fear, but they are also the cure of fear. It is a blessed thing to have grace enough to look such questions in the face, for their answer is self-evident and eminently fitted to cheer the heart.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. holdest … waking—or, "fast," that I cannot sleep. Thus he is led to express his anxious feelings in several earnest questions indicative of impatient sorrow.
Psalm 77:4 Parallel Commentaries
Psalm 77:4 NIV
Psalm 77:4 NLT
Psalm 77:4 ESV
Psalm 77:4 NASB
Psalm 77:4 KJV
Bible Hub: Online Parallel Bible