|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
78:9-39. Sin dispirits men, and takes away the heart. Forgetfulness of God's works is the cause of disobedience to his laws. This narrative relates a struggle between God's goodness and man's badness. The Lord hears all our murmurings and distrusts, and is much displeased. Those that will not believe the power of God's mercy, shall feel the fire of his indignation. Those cannot be said to trust in God's salvation as their happiness at last, who can not trust his providence in the way to it. To all that by faith and prayer, ask, seek, and knock, these doors of heaven shall at any time be opened; and our distrust of God is a great aggravation of our sins. He expressed his resentment of their provocation; not in denying what they sinfully lusted after, but in granting it to them. Lust is contented with nothing. Those that indulge their lust, will never be estranged from it. Those hearts are hard indeed, that will neither be melted by the mercies of the Lord, nor broken by his judgments. Those that sin still, must expect to be in trouble still. And the reason why we live with so little comfort, and to so little purpose, is, because we do not live by faith. Under these rebukes they professed repentance, but they were not sincere, for they were not constant. In Israel's history we have a picture of our own hearts and lives. God's patience, and warnings, and mercies, imbolden them to harden their hearts against his word. And the history of kingdoms is much the same. Judgments and mercies have been little attended to, until the measure of their sins has been full. And higher advantages have not kept churches from declining from the commandments of God. Even true believers recollect, that for many a year they abused the kindness of Providence. When they come to heaven, how will they admire the Lord's patience and mercy in bringing them to his kingdom!
Verse 31. - The wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them (comp. Numbers 11:33, "While the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord smote the people with a very great plague"). By "the fattest of them," we are to understand the strongest and healthiest. And smote down the chosen men of Israel; rather, the young men, as in the margin, "the ripened youths" (Cheyne). Here, again, the author adds touches which he has not obtained from the Pentateuch.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The wrath of God came upon them,.... Either by causing fire to come down from heaven, or by suffering them to be surfeited by excessive eating, or by sending a plague among them; see Numbers 11:33,
and slew the fattest of them; such perhaps who had been most guilty of the sin of gluttony, and had fed the most inordinately upon the flesh that was sent them; or this designs the chief among their princes and nobles, though not only them, but them as well as the common people; so the Targum,
"and slew their mighty ones:''
or the words may be rendered, "and slew them among their fatness", or "fat things" (o); while they were feeding on their feast of fat things, the fat quails, which were brought among them, in such plenty; for the quail is a very fat bird, as Kimchi observes (p):
and smote down the chosen men of Israel; or the young men, as the Targum, who were within the twentieth and fiftieth year of their age; who were chosen and fit for war within that time, as well as were the choicest for comeliness, strength, and service; or "made" them "to bow" (q) to death and the grave; whose power they could not withstand, though in the prime and vigour of youth, and while they were freely and heartily feeding upon the food they lusted after.
(o) "in opimis ipsorum", Cocceius; "inter pinguedines eorum", Michaelis. (p) In Sepher Shorashim, rad. (q) "incurvavit", Pagninus, Montanus.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
31. slew … fattest—or, "among the fattest"; some of them—
chosen—the young and strong (Isa 40:31), and so none could resist.
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