Matthew Poole's Commentary
A Psalm of Asaph. O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance; thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps.THE ARGUMENT
This Psalm was doubtless composed upon the sad occasion of the destruction of Judea and Jerusalem, either by Antiochus, or rather by the Chaldeans; as may be gathered from /APC 1Ma 7:16,17, where, in the relation of the persecution of Antiochus, the second and third verses of this Psalm are cited.
The psalmist, complaining of the desolation and ruin of Jerusalem, Psalm 79:1-4, expostulateth with God about his long anger and jealousy, Psalm 79:5-7; entreateth for the forgiveness of their sins, and speedy help and mercy, Psalm 79:8-12, to the everlasting praise of his name, Psalm 79:13.
Are come, as invaders and conquerors. Into thine inheritance; into Canaan and Judea, which thou didst choose for thine inheritance. Defied, by entering into it, and touching and carrying away its holy vessels, and shedding blood in it, and burning of it. Heaps, made of the ruins of those goodly houses which they burned, or threw down.
The dead bodies of thy servants have they given to be meat unto the fowls of the heaven, the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth.Of thy servants; either,
1. Of thy faithful and holy servants, whom they used as cruelly as the worst of the people. Or,
2. Of the Jews, whom, though the generality of them were very wicked, he calleth God’s servants and saints, because they were all such by profession, and some of them were really such; and the Chaldeans did never know nor regard those that were so, but promiscuously destroyed all that came in their way. Given to be meat unto the fowls of heaven, by casting them out like dung upon the face of the earth, and not suffering any to bury them.
Their blood have they shed like water round about Jerusalem; and there was none to bury them.Like water; plentifully and contemptuously, valuing it no more than common water.
None to bury them, because their friends, who should have done it, were either slain or fled, or were not permitted, or durst not undertake, to perform that office to them.
We are become a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and derision to them that are round about us.We, who were their terror and scourge, are now neither feared nor pitied, but become the matter of their scoffs and reproaches. See Psalm 80:6 137:7 Ezekiel 35:2,12, &c.
How long, LORD? wilt thou be angry for ever? shall thy jealousy burn like fire?No text from Poole on this verse.
Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name.Though we confess that we have deserved thy wrath, yet the heathen, by whom thou hast scourged us, deserve it much more, as being guilty of far greater impieties than we, living in gross ignorance and contempt of God and of his worship; and therefore we pray transfer thy wrath from us to them.
For they have devoured Jacob, and laid waste his dwelling place.Jacob; the posterity of Jacob, whom thou didst love, and with whom and his seed thou madest a sure and everlasting covenant; whereby thou didst engage thyself to be an enemy to their enemies, Exodus 23:22. Besides, thou hatest cruelty, especially when the wicked devour those who are more righteous than themselves, Habakkuk 1:13.
O remember not against us former iniquities: let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us: for we are brought very low.Former iniquities; the sins committed by our forefathers, and by us, who have filled up the measure of their sins, for which we confess thou hast most righteously brought this desolating judgment upon us.
Thy tender mercies; upon which all our confidence is fixed; for merit and righteousness we have none. See Daniel 9:7,9.
Prevent us; prevent our utter extirpation, which we have deserved, and have great reason to expect.
Brought very low; past the hopes of all human help, and therefore the glory of our deliverance will be wholly thine.
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.O God of our salvation; from whom we have oft received, and from whom alone we now expect, salvation.
Thy name; which is now obscured by the insolency and blasphemy of thine enemies, who ascribe this conquest to their idols, and triumph over thee no less than over thy people, as one unable to deliver them out of their hands. See Daniel 3:15.
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.Their God; he whom they served, and of whom they boasted. He is lost and gone, or grown impotent or idle.
Let him be known among the heathen, by the execution of his judgments upon them, according to Psalm 9:16.
In our sight; that we may live to see it, and praise thy name for it.
Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee; according to the greatness of thy power preserve thou those that are appointed to die;Of the prisoner; of thy poor people now in prison, or, at least, in captivity.
Those that are appointed to die, Heb. the children of death, i.e. which were either designed to death, or in manifest danger of it, as being wholly in the power of their cruel and barbarous enemies.
And render unto our neighbours sevenfold into their bosom their reproach, wherewith they have reproached thee, O Lord.Sevenfold, i.e. either,
1. Abundantly, as this phrase notes, Isaiah 65:6,7 Jer 32:18 Luke 6:38. Or,
2. Sensibly, so as it may come home to them, and fall heavily upon them in their own persons. Reproached thee, as impotent, or unfaithful, or unmerciful to his own people. So they intimate that this desire did not proceed from a revengeful mind, but from a due sense of God’s favour.
So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will shew forth thy praise to all generations.No text from Poole on this verse.