Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
Maschil of Asaph
1 Give ear, O my people, to my law:
Incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth in a parable:
I will utter dark sayings of old:
3 Which we have heard and known,
And our fathers have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their children,
Shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD,
And his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.
5 For he established a testimony in Jacob,
And appointed a law in Israel,
Which he commanded our fathers,
That they should make them known to their children:
6 That the generation to come might know them,
Even the children which should be born;
Who should arise and declare them to their children:
7 That they might set their hope in God,
And not forget the works of God,
But keep his commandments:
8 And might not be as their fathers,
A stubborn and rebellious generation;
A generation that set not their heart aright,
And whose spirit was not steadfast with God.
9 The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows,
Turned back in the day of battle.
10 They kept not the covenant of God,
And refused to walk in his law;
11 And forgat his works,
And his wonders that he had shewed them.
12 Marvellous things did he in the sight of their fathers,
In the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.
13 He divided the sea, and caused them to pass through;
And he made the waters to stand as a heap.
14 In the daytime also he led them with a cloud,
And all the night with a light of fire.
15 He clave the rocks in the wilderness,
And gave them drink as out of the great depths.
16 He brought streams also out of the rock,
And caused waters to run down like rivers.
17 And they sinned yet more against him
By provoking the Most High in the wilderness.
18 And they tempted God in their heart
By asking meat for their lust.
19 Yea, they spake against God; they said,
Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?
20 Behold, he smote the rock that the waters gushed out,
And the streams overflowed;
Can he give bread also?
Can he provide flesh for his people?
21 Therefore the LORD heard this, and was wroth:
So a fire was kindled against Jacob,
And anger also came up against Israel:
22 Because they believed not in God,
And trusted not in his salvation.
23 Though he had commanded the clouds from above,
And opened the doors of heaven,
24 And had rained down manna upon them to eat,
And had given them of the corn of heaven.
25 Man did eat angels’ food:
He sent them meat to the full.
26 He caused an east wind to blow in the heaven:
And by his power he brought in the south wind.
27 He rained flesh also upon them as dust,
And feathered fowls like as the sand of the sea:
28 And he let it fall in the midst of their camp,
Round about their habitations.
29 So they did eat, and were well filled:
For he gave them their own desire;
30 They were not estranged from their lust:
But while their meat was yet in their mouths,
31 The wrath of God came upon them,
And slew the fattest of them,
And smote down the chosen men of Israel.
32 For all this they sinned still,
And believed not for his wondrous works.
33 Therefore their days did he consume in vanity,
And their years in trouble.
34 When he slew them then they sought him:
And they returned and inquired early after God.
35 And they remembered that God was their Rock,
And the high God their Redeemer.
36 Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth,
And they lied unto him with their tongues.
37 For their heart was not right with him,
Neither were they steadfast in his covenant.
38 But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not:
Yea, many a time turned he his anger away,
And did not stir up all his wrath.
39 For he remembered that they were but flesh;
A wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.
40 How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness,
And grieve him in the desert!
41 Yea, they turned back and tempted God,
And limited the Holy One of Israel.
42 They remembered not his hand,
Nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy:
43 How he had wrought his signs in Egypt,
And his wonders in the field of Zoan:
44 And had turned their rivers into blood;
And their floods, that they could not drink.
45 He sent divers sorts of flies among them, which devoured them;
And frogs, which destroyed them.
46 He gave also their increase unto the caterpillar,
And their labour unto the locust.
47 He destroyed their vines with hail,
And their sycamore trees with frost.
48 He gave up their cattle also to the hail,
And their flocks to hot thunderbolts.
49 He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger,
Wrath, and indignation, and trouble,
By sending evil angels among them.
50 He made a way to his anger;
He spared not their soul from death,
But gave their life over to the pestilence;
51 And smote all the firstborn in Egypt;
The chief of their strength in the tabernacles of Ham:
52 But made his own people to go forth like sheep,
And guided them in the wilderness like a flock.
53 And he led them on safely, so that they feared not:
But the sea overwhelmed their enemies.
54 And he brought them to the border of his sanctuary,
Even to this mountain, which his right hand had purchased.
55 He cast out the heathen also before them,
And divided them an inheritance by line,
And made the tribes of Israel to dwell in their tents.
56 Yet they tempted and provoked the most high God,
And kept not his testimonies:
57 But turned back, and dealt unfaithfully like their fathers:
They were turned aside like a deceitful bow.
58 For they provoked him to anger with their high places,
And moved him to jealousy with their graven images.
59 When God heard this, he was wroth,
And greatly abhorred Israel:
60 So that he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh,
The tent which he placed among men;
61 And delivered his strength into captivity,
And his glory into the enemy’s hand.
62 He gave his people over also unto the sword;
And was wroth with his inheritance.
63 The fire consumed their young men;
And their maidens were not given to marriage.
64 Their priests fell by the sword;
And their widows made no lamentation.
65 Then the LORD awaked as one out of sleep,
And like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine.
66 And he smote his enemies in the hinder parts:
He put them to a perpetual reproach.
67 Moreover he refused the tabernacle of Joseph,
And chose not the tribe of Ephraim:
68 But chose the tribe of Judah,
The mount Zion which he loved.
69 And he built his sanctuary like high palaces,
Like the earth which he hath established forever.
70 He chose David also his servant,
And took him from the sheepfolds:
71 From following the ewes great with young he brought him
To feed Jacob his people,
And Israel his inheritance.
72 So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart;
And guided them by the skilfulness of his hands.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
CONTENTS AND COMPOSITION.—The superscription (comp. Introd., § 8, No. 3) and also the introduction (Psalm 78:1–8) give us to understand that the history of God’s dealings with His people are to be narrated in apophthegmatic style for the instruction and edification of succeeding generations, and that, especially, His judgments, inflicted upon Israel for their ingratitude and unfaithfulness, are to serve as a warning to them. The several examples of these, which are presented, sometimes in epic style, with a certain diffuseness, are divided into two groups. The former (Psalm 78:9 ff.) relates events which transpired after the Exodus during the march through the wilderness, and concludes with a general reflection upon them (Psalm 78:34–39). The latter begins with an exclamation over the frequency of Israel’s transgressions, and places them in sharp contrast with God’s acts of deliverance from their residence in Egypt, until the people were led like a flock by His chosen servant David. In both of them the rejection of the tribe of Ephraim is brought strongly out in contrast with the choice of that of Judah, and the removal of the sanctuary from Shiloh to Zion. We cannot, however, infer anything from this in favor of the assumption that the Psalm presupposes the schism of the kingdoms, or indeed, contains hostile allusions to the Samaritans, and that it is therefore to be dated as late as possible. For the discord between Ephraim and Judah is much older than the separation, and there is so little to be determined from hostile side-glances, that Ephraim’s sin is rather to be regarded as representing that of the whole people. To go back to the time of David (Muntinghe) and to ascribe the composition to the celebrated Asaph, is impossible only for those who assign the Pentateuch to a later age, for the latter, with the exception of Leviticus, is made use of in ail parts of the Psalms. We can certainly conclude nothing from the circumstance that the Psalm closes with the leading of the people by David, for the preceding one concludes with a reference to the leading of Moses and Aaron. But the opinion is just as untenable that such events were not recognized as marking great epochs until long after (Calvin). The expressions in Psalm 78:69 need not be referred to the lofty magnificence of Solomon’s temple, much less to a later time. The literal agreement of Psalm 78:64 with Job 27:15, alluding to mourning for the dead, Gen. 23:2, decides in general nothing, and makes as little against the priority of Psalm 78:41 as the Divine title “Holy One of Israel,” so frequent in Isaiah does (Compare Caspari, Zeitschrift für luth. Kirche und Theologie, 1844, No. 3). The application of Psalm 78:2 to Christ’s manner of teaching, Matth. 13:35, which does not, at any rate, prove that God or Christ speaks in the person of the Psalmist (Stier after the ancients), agrees well, on the other hand, with the circumstance that Asaph is termed already in the Old Testament the Seer (2 Chron. 29:30). Neither is this, indeed, decisive; for the name Asaph does not occur in Matthew, the citation being only made as the words of a prophet generally, on which account some MSS. with the Clementine Homilies ascribe this passage to Isaiah. In all points there is here wanting certain historical ground. Even the strongest argument against so early a composition, that all of the historical literature which was written for practical ends, was an offspring of later reflection in the unfortunate times in which the destruction of the kingdom was either threatened or accomplished (Hupfeld), is not altogether incontestable, for the whole biblical conception of history is not merely religious, and therefore practical, but is moulded in the spirit of the Theocracy and its Messianic aspect. [The hypothesis of the composition in the time of David and by Asaph “the seer,” is defended by Hengstenberg. He is followed by Alexander and most commentators. Perowne inclines to the supposition of a later origin on account of the triumphant tone employed in the conclusion, when speaking of Ephraim. All that can be said is that the probabilities are very strongly in favor of the view generally maintained. The subject is of more than ordinary interest as an argument for the genuineness of the Pentateuch is directly deducible from this hypothesis, if well established.—There is properly no strophical division as suits the semi-narrative style adopted.—J. F. M. ]
[In Psalm 78:1 the word translated law in our version should have its original meaning, instruction. In Psalm 78:8 instead of: stubborn, should be: faithless or disloyal.—J. F. M.]
Psalm 78:9. The sons of Ephraim.—The whole of this verse has something strange in this connection. The expressions would lead one to understand an actual flight, perhaps an act of treachery in battle. Some therefore refer this (comp. Schnurrer in Comment, theol. ed. Velthusen, I. 76 ff.) to the defeat under Jeroboam (2 Chron. 13.) But this is unsuitable because there it is a defeat, while here it is a crime that is described. Others understand some flight of Ephraim to be here adduced as an example of defection. But the supplying of the particle “as” of comparison before the sentence (Luther, Geier, and others) is linguistically impossible. The sentence could, logically, be better completed thus: Ephraim’s sons (were like) archers armed with bows, who turned back (Venema, Köster, Olsh., De Wette). We would then have a figurative designation of desertion and unreliableness like the deceitful bow in Psalm 78:57. But even so there is felt the need of the particle of comparison and then of the relative. And with what event is the defection to be connected? Is it that of the ten tribes (De Wette and others) when they separated from Judah? This is untenable, because it is the sins of the people against God in times before David that are spoken of. Let this be admitted, and the figurativeness of the expression relating to the turning back of those armed with bows be still maintained. Then the thought is clear, that the Ephraimites, in spite of their supply of arms, and efficiency in their use, proved themselves recreant and cowardly in defending and leading the cause of God (Delitzsch). But how comes the Psalmist to mention Ephraim in this place, where he has been speaking of the unfaithfulness of the fathers? Is Ephraim viewed as representing the whole people, perhaps on account of their predominance in the time of the Judges (Hengst.)? Or on account of the presumption with which Ephraim was upbraided, Judges 8:12 [12:3?—J. F. M.] (Geier)? This is possible neither according to the words employed nor according to the facts. For the rejection of Ephraim and the choice of Judah form just “the cardinal point towards which the whole historical retrospect is directed,” Psalm 78:67 f. If we are not, therefore, to regard these words and those that follow as a later insertion (Hupfeld, Hitzig), which is somewhat arbitrary, then we have only to hold the opinion that the verse contains a pragmatic preparation for the rejection of Shiloh and Ephraim as mentioned later (J. D. Michaelis) and at the same time to bear in mind how much the Asaph-Psalms have to do with the tribes of the sons of Joseph.
Psalm 78:12. Zoan. Ancient Egyptian Zane, called by the Greeks Tanis, on the eastern shore of the arm of the Nile afterwards named, a very ancient (Numb. 13:23) residence of the Pharaohs. It is often mentioned by the prophets in the later occasions of contact with Egypt, not merely because it was the most easterly portion of that country, and that which lay nearest to the Hebrews, (Is. 19:11, 13; 30:4; Ezek. 30:14), but because it came directly into view as the residence of Pharaoh before which Moses wrought his miracles. Brugsch (Aus dem Orient 2:45), has no doubt that Moses directed his glance at the colossal sitting-statue of Rameses II. now in the pillar-court of the Royal Museum in Berlin, which was consecrated to the Baal-temple at Tanis after the expulsion of the Hyksosdynasty and was set up before its entrance. Ebers [Egypten und die Bücher Moses I. 274) says: “In ancient times this country, cleared by the Phœnicians, the best agriculturists of the world, irrigated by the Egyptians, the most skilful of all canal-makers, was the granary of half the world, and even under the Arabs, a golden meadow interspersed with villages and covered with broad fields of corn.” It is yet, for the time, uncertain, whence the Hebrew appellation of Egypt (Mizraim) is derived, whether it comes from an Egyptian root, (Reinisch, Sitzungsberichte der Wiener Akad. 1859, p. 379), or has a Shemitic origin (Ebers, p. 71 ff.). The Nile valley itself (though not its inhabitants) is called on Egyptian monuments, cham=black. This refers to the color of the ploughed land. For the same reason Syria, Phœnicia, and Palestine are called in the hieroglyphics tesr=red (Ebers, p. 55 f.).
Psalm 78:24 f. Manna is in Ps. 105:40 after Ex. 16:4 called “bread” here “corn” of heaven: the latter scarcely without allusion to its form, and “bread of the strong,” for which the ancient versions put directly “angels’ bread,” as in Wisdom of Solomon 16:20. This does not mean that it is the food of the angels or prepared by angels (Stier after the old expositors) but that it descends from heaven (Chald.), the abode of the angels. The angels are called, as in Ps. 103:20, the strong heroes. This explanation is to be preferred to the other: bread of the great, the nobles (Schnurrer, Rosenmueller, De Wette, Gesenius). The sense of every one is recommended for אִושׁ by Ex. 16:16 ff. But on account of the contrast this word may also mean: Man (Chald., Delitzsch, Hitzig).
Psalm 78:38, 41. And he, full of compassion. This verse, and before it, Deut. 28:58, 59; 29:8, were recited when there were being administered to criminals the forty stripes save one which Paul according to 2 Cor. 11:24 had received five times (Delitzsch). According to the Rabbinical numeration this verse is the middle of the 5896 stichs of the Psalter, and Psalm 78:36 the middle one of its 2527 verses (comp. Buxtorf, Tiberias 1620, p. 133). [Psalm 78:41. Perowne: הִתְווּ; “the Hiphil occurs again in Eze. 9:4, in the sense of putting a mark on (the forehead). So it was taken by the Chald. here, and this has been explained in two ways (1) They put limits (marks) to the power of God, or (2) as Hengst., Del. and others, they branded with reproach. But it is better to connect it with the Syriac, meaning: “pœnituit, eum doluit.” Perowne, therefore, translates “troubled.” So Dr. Moll in his translation, “grieved.”—J. F. M.].
Psalm 78:47. Vines—It is still remarked altogether erroneously by many expositors (by Hupfeld and Hitzig last) that the vine is named before other natural productions, according to a Canaanitish and not an Egyptian point of view. It is even said that Egypt had but little vine-culture—since none were permitted to drink wine (De Wette). It is just in Egypt that wine stands in the first rank of the liquors presented to the divinity (Ebers, p. 323). And there is a distinction made between the different sorts, choice and common, red and white, domestic and imported. The temple inscriptions at Dendera show also that a festival, the “full-drinking feast,” was celebrated in honor of Hathor, the goddess of lust and love, the “mistress of inebriety” Dümichen. (Bauurkunde von Dendera und Tempelinschriften, p. 29 f.). That wine was regarded as a necessity, even of the lower classes, appears from a note which an officer of Rameses II. in the fifty-second year of his reign, made on the back of a papyrus, and which gives the amount of rations of bread and wine distributed by him to the workmen. (Ebers., p. 326).
Psalm 78:49. Evil angels.—Strictly: angels of the evil, that is, angels bringing misfortune (Delitzsch). Linguistically it is admissible to translate: angels of the wicked=wicked angels (Sept., Targ., Symmachus, Rabbins and most). Hengstenberg cites a sentence of Jac. Ode (de angelis p. 731 f.) deum ad puniendos malos homines mittere bonos angelos et ad castigandos pios usurpare malos. But even Hupfeld, who contends against this, as being too strict a distinction, referring to Judges 9:23; 1 Sam. 16:14: 1 Kings 22:21 f; 1 Chron. 21:1; Job 1:7, acknowledges finally that they have their name: bad, not from their dispositions, but from their influence. The death of the first-born was (Ex. 12:13, 23), effected by the destroyer (Heb. 11:8). The word in question may denote the Angel of Jehovah in His attribute of Avenger (2 Sam. 24:16), but may also be taken as a collective (1 Sam. 13:17).
Psalm 78:54–61. To this mountain—This expression, in accordance with its position as being in apposition, and according to Ex. 15:17, is to be understood of the Holy Land as a mountainous country. Deut. 1:7, 20; 3:25; Is. 11:9. (Aben Ezra, Hitzig, Hupfeld, Delitzsch), but is not to be explained as a prophetic allusion to Zion (Hengst). In Psalm 78:59. Israel is to be taken in the narrower sense=Ephraim. This is proved by the parallelism with Shiloh, Psalm 78:60, and the contrast to Judah, Psalm 78:67 (comp. Jer. 7:12 f.). Shiloh was in the time of the Judges the chief seat of the Sanctuary (Josh. 18:1 ff.; 21:2; 1 Sam. 1:4.) After the Ark of the Covenant had fallen into the hands of the Philistines, the tabernacle was not brought back to Shiloh, but was taken at first to Nob (1 Sam. 21:2); and after Saul had placed that city under ban was brought to Gibeon (1 Kings 3:4), while the ark after its restoration to Israel was deposited in Kirjath jearim (1 Sam. 7:2). The ark is called in 1 Sam. 4:21, as here, כָּבוֹד [glory, Psalm 78:61, M.] as the place where God manifested His majesty and glory, Comp. Ps. 132:8.
Psalm 78:65 f. That shouteth by reason of wine. This cannot allude to the battle-cry of a warrior (Hupfeld), when he is roused up from intoxication (Chald.), for intoxication is not spoken of in the text and wine is not parallel to sleep. The allusion must therefore be to the enkindling of the fire that animates the breast of the warrior, to his rapid change from a state of rest to action, and to the increased elasticity of his frame from the use of wine (J. H. Michaelis, Hengst., Del.). Following another derivation and comparing with Prov. 29:6,1 we might translate: who allows himself to be overcome by wine (Schnurrer, De Wette, Stier, Hitzig). Yet this meaning existing in the Arabic is not established in Hebrew, and is less suitable in this connection. Böttcher explains: who recollects himself. In Psalm 78:66 there is no allusion make to striking back (Geier, Hengst., Hupfeld) but to the disgrace inflicted upon the Philistines and recorded in 1 Sam. 5:6 (Targ., Sept., Vulg., Luther, Del., Hitzig).
Psalm 78:69 ff. Like high, etc. In the Hebrew we have only an adjective=high, elevated. The following explanations have been given: Like high palaces (Aben Ezra, Kimchi), or mountains (Calvin, Köster, Hengst.,) or the heights of heaven (Isaaki, Stier, Hupfeld, Del.). The latter seems most natural=excelsa (Job 21:22), and there is no need of uniting the two Hebrew words, and reading כִּמְרוֹמִים in order to gain this meaning (Hitzig). But on account of the general nature of the expression and the absence of the article it is still doubtful whether heaven and earth are parallel, and that with reference to their firmness and duration, surviving all changes even to the end of the world. It appears, however, as if that were only expressed in the second member, while in the first there is presented the pre-eminent exaltation, the grandeur of the sanctuary as established by God. At all events the mode of expression favors the hypothesis of the early composition of the Psalm, because the threatening of the destruction of the Temple appears already in the earliest prophets. [In Psalm 78:71עָלֹות means literally the suckling ones, that is the ewes. It has been misunderstood in Is. 40:11, in the same way.—J. F. M.].
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. The history of former times, especially of God’s dealings with His people and their conduct, should serve to instruct and warn succeeding generations, and should, therefore, in accordance with God’s will and word (Ex. 10:1, 2) be handed down by the parents to their children. “The terms parable and enigma applied to these events have reference to the fact, that everywhere in sacred history there lies a concealed background of instruction; that it is prophecy turned backward, that throughout it the mutato nomine de te fabula narratur prevails; that between all the lines are the words “let whosoever reads understand,” which call upon us to penetrate through the shell to the kernel, from the grapes of history to press out the wine of instruction” (Hengstenberg). “The highest view which can be taken of history is that in which its events are regarded as parables of God addressed to men” (Novalis).
2. Many things occur in the world which are as unexpected, and appear as strange, as once to God’s people appeared the rejection of Israel and the exaltation of Judah. And yet in the one case as in the other there is a visitation of God to be recognized. But there are many who will not be warned. They may hear recounted the judgments of God upon those of old, and concur in the opinion that they were inflicted justly. Yet none the less do they follow their footsteps; and thus there is perpetuated an ungrateful and faithless generation, concerning which God has to complain, that He has displayed His wonders to it in vain.
3. The more exalted the position, and the more signal the privileges which God confers upon a man or a nation, the greater is the responsibility and the more heinous the guilt, if the influence thereby gained leads other men also into false paths and brings them into conflict with God’s commands and promises. And there follows thereupon also a more dreadful punishment. For God will not abandon His design because those called first do not walk worthy of their vocation. He rejects the faithless and chooses for Himself other servants and in this He manifests the same ways of dealing as when He took David from tending his father’s flock, that he might feed the flock of God.
4. He who will ask something of God, must see to it that it be done in faith. For even the unbelieving and disobedient ask many things from Him and the Lord does not deny them. But the fulfilment of their wishes proves their destruction, for God’s judgments are thereby executed upon them. God also will be entreated, but will not be tempted. “To tempt God, means: to doubt whether He is God. It is characteristic of unbelief that it is wilfully ignorant of that by which God had before made proof of His Divinity, and acts towards Him, as though He now for the first time were giving evidence of it.” (Hengstenberg). Tempting God, therefore, is no less a falling away from faith than it is discontentment with and murmuring against Him. “Biblical History is a prophecy which in all ages is fulfilled in every man’s soul.” (Hamann).
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
God teaches us even by His actions; but we are to understand, apply, and proclaim them.—The problems of history are solved when we contemplate the dealings of God.—We should always and in all things have regard both to the severity and to the goodness of God.—Forgetfulness of God’s goodness and the ungrateful reception of His favors are the causes of many sins.—God punishes unbelief and disobedience not only among the heathen but also among His own people.—The making known of God’s deeds is (1) A good custom of God’s people of old. (2) The will of God enjoined upon us. (3) The best means of glorifying Him.—God endures the proof well, when He is tempted, but it fares ill with those who undertake to do it.—He who would truly trust in God, must from the heart believe on Him; for he who believes thus, does not doubt.—Murmuring against God is as much opposed to faith as tempting God is.
STARKE: How pleasing it is to God, that we hear His word, take it to heart and live in accordance with it! for it saves us from all that would harm the soul.—The best inheritance which parents can leave to their children, and the best art which they can teach them, is the knowledge of the glorious deeds of God and how to glorify His majesty.—It is an unadvised demand, that God should perform still more of His wonders, as if men would then have more faith, Luke 16:27 f. The example of Israel testifies to the opposite.—When God manifests His name especially in renowned cities and countries, He does it not because He slights other places, but because the outward splendor of such places is a fitting means of spreading His glory far and wide.—Unbelief is the denial of God, yea, the greatest sin of all, because from it result all other sins.—All creatures are ready at all times to execute God’s commands. Man alone contends against His Creator. Is that not to be deplored? Is. 1:5; Jer. 8:7.—To seek God in distress is right and necessary, but if we do so that we may be freed from trouble, and are unwilling to forsake sin, we then dishonor God and lead ourselves the more deeply into sin.—If God punishes others, it should stir us up to repentance. He can find us out too, and visit us.—God sends not only exalted spirits or angels when He would punish men. He can do it also by means of feeble worms.—God proceeds gradually in the inflictions of His judgments, so that when men will not amend their ways after more gentle punishments, He keeps sending them more severe ones, which touch them more closely still.—Where God’s word is taught in its simplicity and purity, there let men hold fast to it and live according to its holy precepts, that He may not remove it from them.—What God has erected for His dwelling, shall stand forever according to His purpose.—He who is faithful in lesser matters, is employed by God in greater ones: experience confirms this not only in things temporal but in things spiritual also.—Luke 16:10.
SELNECKER: Contempt of God’s word, pride and arrogance have never been of any benefit, and have always resulted in evil.—MENZEL: God will not have these histories forgotten, but will have parents impress them well upon their children; and they will learn from them, (1) To recognize God’s glory and power, (2) to fear that God and trust in Him.—FRISCH: To tempt God is nothing else than to demand from Him an exhibition of His utmost power, or an indication of His purposes with regard to us.—RENSCHEL: God tries us with both hands, the hand of mercy and the hand of anger and punishment, and when men will not follow the one, He urges them with the other.—OETINGER: How obedience or disobedience were always attended by God’s blessings or judgments, and how He did not punish according to its desert, the greater sin that always followed great blessings, but so ordered Ephraim’s punishment that the whole nation came to enjoy new blessings on Zion under David’s reign.—THOLUCK: Unbelief is so deeply rooted in men’s hearts that when God performs wonders on earth they doubt whether He does the same in heaven, and when He performs them in heaven, they tauntingly ask whether He can perform them on earth too.—GUENTHER: God can punish even by riches and affluence.—In faith in the word of prophecy let us diligently search that great Book of God, the history of the world, that we may discover the signs of the times, and that the Lord may enlighten our eyes unto eternal salvation!—SCHAUBACH: The righteous judgments of God repeat themselves in the world’s history. Can it be that we have a reprieve, so that the punitive justice of the Lord shall not be inflicted upon us?—TAUBE: In the description of the plagues we gain a twofold view of God’s government, first, that everything subserves God’s plans in His ways and judgments; secondly, that God proceeds gradually in the severity of those judgments.
[MATT. HENRY: Those cannot be said to trust in God’s salvation as their felicity at last, who cannot find in their hearts to trust in His providence for food convenient in the way to it.—Those hearts are hard indeed, which will neither be melted by the mercies of God, nor broken by His judgments.
SCOTT: Severe afflictions have been necessary to recover us from our backslidings, and though we were not mere hypocrites in returning to the Lord, yet we soon forget the salutary lesson, if our hearts have perhaps been sincere, they have not been steadfast with Him.—J. F. M.].
[The reference to Prov. 29:6, is hardly justifiable as יָרון there also is to be taken from רנן—J. F. M.]
Maschil of Asaph. Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth.