|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
79:1-5 God is complained to: whither should children go but to a Father able and willing to help them? See what a change sin made in the holy city, when the heathen were suffered to pour in upon them. God's own people defiled it by their sins, therefore he suffered their enemies to defile it by their insolence. They desired that God would be reconciled. Those who desire God's favour as better than life, cannot but dread his wrath as worse than death. In every affliction we should first beseech the Lord to cleanse away the guilt of our sins; then he will visit us with his tender mercies.
Verse 5. - How long, Lord? i.e. "How long, O Lord, is this condition of things to endure?" (comp. Psalm 6:5; Psalm 90:13; Revelation 6:10). An ellipse after "how long?" is common. Wilt thou be angry forever? (see Psalm 13:1; Psalm 74:12; Lamentations 5:20). Shall thy jealousy burn like fire? It was their worship of other gods that God especially visited on his people by the Babylonish captivity (see Jeremiah, passim).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
How long, Lord, wilt thou be angry? for ever?.... That is, how long wilt thou be angry? shall it be for ever? see Psalm 85:4, for though what was done, or to be done, as before related, was or will be done by the enemies of the Lord's people, yet by his permission, and as a token of his anger and displeasure against them: at least it might be so understood, both by them and by their enemies; and hence this expostulation,
shall thy jealousy burn like fire? so jealousy does; its coals are coals of fire, Sol 8:6, there were, at the times referred to, such among the people, who did evil things, and provoked the Lord to jealousy and wrath: see the Apocrypha:
"And there was very great wrath upon Israel.'' (1 Maccabees 1:64)
"When this was done, and they had made a common supplication, they besought the merciful Lord to be reconciled with his servants for ever.'' (2 Maccabees 8:29)
The Treasury of David
5 How long, Lord? wilt thou be angry for ever? shall thy jealousy burn like fire?
6 Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name.
7 For they have devoured Jacob, and laid waste his dwelling place.
8 O remember not against us former iniquities: let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us: for we are brought very low.
9 Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name's sake.
10 Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is their God? let him be known among the heathen in our sight by the revenging of the blood of thy servants which is shed.
11 Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee; according to the greatness of thy power preserve thou those that are appointed to die;
12 And render unto our neighbours sevenfold into their bosom their reproach, wherewith they have reproached thee, O Lord.
"How long, Lord?" Will there be no end to these chastisements? They are most sharp and overwhelming; wilt thou much longer continue them? "Wilt thou be angry for ever?" Is thy mercy gone so that thou wilt for ever smite? "Shall thy jealousy burn like fire?" There was great cause for the Lord to be jealous, since idols had been set up, and Israel had gone aside from his worship, but the Psalmist begs the Lord not to consume his people utterly as with fire, but to abate their woes.
"Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee." If thou must smite look further afield; spare thy children and strike thy foes. There are lands where thou art in no measure acknowledged; be pleased to visit these first with thy judgments, and let thine erring Israel have a respite. "And upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name." Hear us the prayerful, and avenge thyself upon the prayerless. Sometimes providence appears to deal much more severely with the righteous than with the wicked, and this verse is a bold appeal founded upon such an appearance. It in effect says - Lord, if thou must empty out the vials of thy wrath, begin with those who have no measure of regard for thee, but are openly up in arms against thee; and be pleased to spare thy people, who are thine notwithstanding all their sins.
"For they have devoured Jacob." The oppressor would quite eat up the saints if he could. If these lions do not swallow us, it is because the Lord has sent his angel and shut the lions' mouths. "And laid waste his dwelling place," or his pasture. The invader left no food for man or beast, but devoured all as the locust. The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. How long—(Ps 13:1).
be angry—(Ps 74:1-10).
jealousy burn—(De 29:20).
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