Psalm 105:16
Moreover he called for a famine on the land: he broke the whole staff of bread.
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(16) Called for a famine.—Comp. 2Kings 8:1; and in Ezekiel 14 we see how famine, with war and pestilence and noisome beasts, were regarded as Divine emissaries to be summoned and sent on His missions.

Staff of bread.Leviticus 26:26. (See, too, Note on Psalm 104:15.)

Psalm 105:16-18. He called for a famine — That is, he brought a famine upon the land. He brake the whole staff of bread — Bread, which is the staff or support of men’s lives. He sent a man before them — Who was to nourish them in the famine: sent him, by the direction of his secret providence, many years before the famine began. Such are the foresight and timely care of Divine Providence. Whose feet they hurt with fetters — Being unjustly charged with a most heinous crime. He was laid in iron — Hebrew, נפשׁו ברזל באה, the iron entered his soul, which seems to be added emphatically, to aggravate the misery of his imprisonment, and to show how grievous it was to his very soul. Undoubtedly the false accusation, which was the cause of his imprisonment, the injury which was done him, and the foul and public scandal which lay upon him, must have pained him extremely.105:8-23 Let us remember the Redeemer's marvellous works, his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth. Though true Christians are few number, strangers and pilgrims upon earth, yet a far better inheritance than Canaan is made sure to them by the covenant of God; and if we have the anointing of the Holy Spirit, none can do us any harm. Afflictions are among our mercies. They prove our faith and love, they humble our pride, they wean us from the world, and quicken our prayers. Bread is the staff which supports life; when that staff is broken, the body fails and sinks to the earth. The word of God is the staff of spiritual life, the food and support of the soul: the sorest judgment is a famine of hearing the word of the Lord. Such a famine was sore in all lands when Christ appeared in the flesh; whose coming, and the blessed effect of it, are shadowed forth in the history of Joseph. At the appointed time Christ was exalted as Mediator; all the treasures of grace and salvation are at his disposal, perishing sinners come to him, and are relieved by him.Moreover, he called for a famine upon the land - It was not by chance; not by the mere operation of physical laws, but it was because God "ordered" it. The famine here referred to, as the connection shows, was that which occurred in the time of Jacob, and which was the occasion of the migration into Egypt. There was also a famine in the time of Abraham Genesis 12:10; but the design of the psalmist here is to refer to that period of the Jewish history which pertained to their residence in Egypt, and to the dealings of God with the nation when there, as furnishing an occasion for gratitude. Genesis 41; 42.

He brake the whole staff of bread - That which supports life, as a staff does a feeble man. See the notes at Isaiah 3:1.

16. God ordered the famine. God

called for a famine—as if it were a servant, ready to come at God's bidding. Compare the centurion's words, as to disease being God's servant (Mt 8:8, 9).

upon the land—namely, Canaan (Ge 41:54).

staff of bread—what supports life (Le 26:26; Ps 104:15; Isa 3:1).

16 Moreover he called for a famine upon the land; he brake the whole staff of bread.

17 He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant:

18 Whose feet they hurt with fetters; he was laid in iron:

19 Until the time that his word came; the word of the Lord tried him.

20 The king sent and loosed him; even the ruler of the people, and let him go free.

21 He made him lord of his house, and ruler of all his substance:

22 To bind his princes at his pleasure; and teach his senators wisdom. 23 Israel also came into Egypt; and Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham.

The presence of God having remained with his chosen ones while they sojourned in Canaan, it did not desert them when they were called to go down into Egypt. They did not go there of their own choice, but under divine direction, and hence the Lord prepared their way and prospered them until he saw fit to conduct them again to the land of promise.

Psalm 105:16

"Moreover he called for a famine upon the land." He had only to call for it as a man calls for his servant, and it came at once. How grateful ought we to be that he does not often call in that terrible servant of his, so meagre and gaunt, and grim, so pitiless to the women and the children, so bitter to the strong men, who utterly fail before it. "He brake the whole staff of bread." Man's feeble life cannot stand without its staff - if bread fail him he fails. As a cripple with a broken staff falls to the ground, so does man when bread no longer sustains him. To God it is as easy to make a famine as to break a staff. He could make that famine universal, too, so that all countries should be in like case; then would the race of man fall indeed, and its staff would be broken for ever. There is this sweet comfort in the matter, that the Lord has wise ends to serve even by famine: he meant his people to go down into Egypt, and the scarcity of food was his method of leading them there, for "they heard that there was corn in Egypt."

Psalm 105:17

"He sent a man before them, even Joseph." He was the advance guard and pioneer for the whole clan. His brethren sold him, but God sent him. Where the hand of the wicked is visible God's hand may be invisibly at work, overruling their malice. No one was more of a man, or more fit to lead the van than Joseph, an interpreter of dreams was wanted, and his brethren had said of him, "Behold, this dreamer cometh." "Who was sold for a servant," or rather for a slave. Joseph's journey into Egypt was not so costly as Jonah's voyage when he paid his own fare, his free passage was provided by the Midianites, who also secured his introduction to a great officer of state by handing him over as a slave. His way to a position in which he could feed his family lay through the pit, the slaver's caravan, the slave market and the prison, and who shall deny but what it was the right way, the surest way, the wisest way, and perhaps the shortest way. Yet assuredly it seemed not so. Were we to send a man on such an errand we should furnish him with money - Joseph goes as a pauper; we should clothe him with authority - Joseph goes as a slave; we should leave him at full liberty - Joseph is a bondman: yet money would have been of little use when corn was so dear, authority would have been irritating rather than influential with Pharaoh, and freedom might not have thrown Joseph into connection with Pharaoh's captain and his other servants, and so the knowledge of his skill in interpretation might not have reached the monarch's ear. God's way is the way. Our Lord's path to his mediatorial throne ran by the cross of. Calvary; our road to glory runs by the rivers of grief.

Psalm 105:18

"Whose feet they hurt with letters." From this we learn a little more of Joseph's sufferings than we find in the book of Genesis: inspiration had not ceased, and David was as accurate an historian as Moses, for the same Spirit guided his pen. "He was laid in iron;" or "into iron came his soul." The prayer book version, "the iron entered into his soul," is ungrammatical, but probably expresses much the same truth. His fetters hurt his mind as well as his body, and well did Jacob say, "The archers shot at him, and sorely grieved him." Under the cruelly false accusation, which he could not disprove, his mind was, as it were, belted and bolted around with iron, and had not the Lord been with him he might have sunk under his sufferings. In all this, and a thousand things besides, he was an admirable type of him who in the highest sense is "the Shepherd, the stone of Israel." The iron fetters were preparing him to wear chains of gold, and making his feet ready to stand on high places. It is even so with all the Lord's afflicted ones, they too shall one day step from their prisons to their thrones.


He called for, i.e. he effectually procured, as this word is used, 2 Kings 8:1 Isaiah 47:1,5 56:7 Romans 4:17.

The whole staff of bread, i.e. bread, which is the staff or support of our animal lives. See Leviticus 26:26 Psalm 104:15 Ezekiel 4:16. Moreover, he called for a famine upon the land,.... On the land of Egypt; or rather on the land of Canaan, where Jacob and his sons sojourned; and which reached to all lands, Genesis 41:56 and calling for it, it came, being a servant at the command of the Lord; see 2 Kings 8:1.

He brake the whole staff of bread; so called, because it is the support of man's life, the principal of his sustenance: as a staff is a support to a feeble person, and which, when broke, ceases to be so. The staff of bread is broken, when either the virtue and efficacy of it for nourishment is taken away or denied; or when there is a scarcity of bread corn; which latter seems to be intended here; see Isaiah 3:1.

Moreover he called for a famine upon the land: he brake the whole {k} staff of bread.

(k) Either by sending scarcity or the strength and nourishment of it.

16. And he called] So 2 Kings 8:1; Amos 5:8; Amos 7:4; Amos 9:6; Haggai 1:11. Observe the emphasis upon direct Divine agency in Psalm 105:16,Verse 16. - Moreover he called for a famine upon the land. To "call for a famine" is the same thing as to create a famine. What God "calls for" immediately exists (see Genesis 1:3). "The land" intended is the land of Canaan. He brake the whole staff of bread (comp. Leviticus 26:26; Isaiah lit. 1). Bread is called a "staff," as the great support of life. (For the severity of the famine in Canaan, see Genesis 41:1; Genesis 42:5; Genesis 43:1.) The poet now begins himself to do that to which he encourages Israel. Jahve is Israel's God: His righteous rule extends over the whole earth, whilst His people experience His inviolable faithfulness to His covenant. יהוה in Psalm 105:7 is in apposition to הוּא, for the God who bears this name is as a matter of course the object of the song of praise. זכר is the perfect of practically pledges certainty (cf. Psalm 111:5, where we find instead the future of confident prospect). The chronicler has זכרוּ instead (lxx again something different: μνημονεύωμεν); but the object is not the demanding but the promissory side of the covenant, so that consequently it is not Israel's remembering but God's that is spoken of. He remembers His covenant in all time to come, so that exile and want of independence as a state are only temporary, exceptional conditions. צוּה has its radical signification here, to establish, institute, Psalm 111:9. לאלף דּור (in which expression דור is a specifying accusative) is taken from Deuteronomy 7:9. And since דּבר is the covenant word of promise, it can be continued אשׁר כּרת; and Haggai 2:5 (vid., Khler thereon) shows that אשׁר is not joined to בריתו over Psalm 105:8. וּשׁבוּעתו, however, is a second object to זכר (since דּבר with what belongs to it as an apposition is out of the question). It is the oath on Moriah (Genesis 22:16) that is meant, which applied to Abraham and his seed. לישׂחק (chronicler ליצחק), as in Amos 7:9; Jeremiah 33:26. To זכר is appended ויּעמרדה; the suffix, intended as neuter, points to what follows, viz., this, that Canaan shall be Israel's hereditary land. From Abraham and Isaac we come to Jacob-Israel, who as being the father of the twelve is the twelve-tribe nation itself that is coming into existence; hence the plural can alternate with the singular in Psalm 105:11. את־ארץ כּנען (chronicler, without the את) is an accusative of the object, and חבל נחלתכם accusative of the predicate: the land of Canaan as the province of your own hereditary possession measured out with a measuring line (Psalm 78:55).
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