Psalm 68:6
God sets the solitary in families: he brings out those which are bound with chains: but the rebellious dwell in a dry land.
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(6) Solitary . . .—This might refer to the childless (comp. Psalm 113:9), but it is better, in connection with the next clause, to think of the exiles scattered and dispersed, and who are by the Divine arm brought home.

With chains.—The Hebrew word is peculiar to this passage, and is derived by the Rabbis from a root meaning to bind. Modern scholars give “to prosper” as the meaning of the root, and render, he bringeth the captives into prosperity.

But.—Literally, only.

Rebellious.—As in Psalm 66:7; stubborn, refractory.

In a dry land.—Or, desert.

It is natural, remembering the connection between the imagery of Psalm 68:4 and parts of the great prophet of the Return, to refer its expressions to those who were left behind in Babylon when the restoration took place.

(7–10) We come now to the first of three unmistakable historic retrospects—the rescue from Egypt, the conquest of Canaan, and the establishment of Jerusalem as the political and religious capital. In these patriotic recollections the poet is naturally inspired by the strains of former odes of victory and freedom. The music especially of Deborah’s mighty song (Judges 5), which, directly or indirectly, coloured so much of later Hebrew poetry (see Deuteronomy 33:2; Habakkuk 3) is in his ears throughout.

Wentest forth . . . didst march.—The parallel clauses as well as the words employed have, in the sound and sequence, a martial tread. The latter word, “didst march,” is peculiar to Judges 5, Habakkuk 3, and this psalm.

Even Sinai itself.—Better, this Sinai. (See Note, Judges 5:5, where the clause completing the parallelism, here omitted, is retained, and shows us that the predicate to be supplied here is melted.)

“The mountain melted from before Jehovah,

This Sinai from before Jehovah, God of Israel.”

The demonstrative “this Sinai” appears more natural if we suppose the verse, even in Deborah’s song, to be an echo or fragment of some older pieces contemporary with the Exodus itself. Such fragments of ancient poetry actually survive in some of the historical books—e.g., Numbers 21:17-18; Exodus 15:1-19.

68:1-6 None ever hardened his heart against God, and prospered. God is the joy of his people, then let them rejoice when they come before him. He who derives his being from none, but gives being to all, is engaged by promise and covenant to bless his people. He is to be praised as a God of mercy and tender compassion. He ever careth for the afflicted and oppressed: repenting sinners, who are helpless and exposed more than any fatherless children, are admitted into his family, and share all their blessings.God setteth the solitary in families - Margin, as in Hebrew, in a house. The word rendered solitary means properly one alone, as an only child; Genesis 22:2, Genesis 22:12, Genesis 22:16; and then it means alone, solitary, wretched, forsaken. See the notes at Psalm 22:20. The word rendered "families" would be more literally and better translated as in the margin, houses. The idea then is, not that he constitutes families of those who were solitary and alone, but that to those who are alone in the world - who seem to have no friends - who are destitute, wretched, forsaken, he gives comfortable dwellings. Thus the idea is carried out which is expressed in the previous verse. God is the friend of the orphan and the widow; and, in like manner, he is the friend of the cast out - the wandering - the homeless; - he provides for them a home. The meaning is, that he is benevolent and kind, and that they who have no other friend may find a friend in God. At the same time it is true, however, that the family organization is to be traced to God. It is his original appointment; and all that there is in the family that contributes to the happiness of mankind - all that there is of comfort in the world that depends on the family organization - is to be traced to the goodness of God. Nothing more clearly marks the benignity and the wisdom of God than the arrangement by which people, instead of being solitary wanderers on the face of the earth, with nothing to bind them in sympathy, in love, and in interest to each other, are grouped together in families.

He bringeth out those which are bound with chains - He releases the prisoners. That is, He delivers those who are unjustly confined in prison, and held in bondage. The principles of his administration are opposed to oppression and wrong, and in favor of the rights of man. The meaning is not that he always does this by his direct power, but that his law, his government, his requirements are all against oppression and wrong, and in favor of liberty. So Psalm 146:7, "The Lord looseth the prisoners." Compare the notes at Isaiah 61:1.

But the rebellious dwell in a dry land - The rebels; all who rebel against him. The word rendered dry land means a dry or arid place; a desert. The idea is, that the condition of the rebellious as contrasted with that of those whom God has under his protection would be as a fertile and well-watered field compared with a desert. For the one class he would provide a comfortable home; the other, the wicked, would be left as if to dwell in deserts and solitudes: In other words, the difference in condition between those who are the objects of his favor, and those who are found in proud rebellion against him, would be as great as that between such as have comfortable abodes in a land producing abundance, and such as are wretched and homeless wanderers in regions of arid sand. While God be-friends the poor and the needy, while he cares for the widow and the orphan, he leaves the rebel to misery and want. The allusion here probably is to his conducting his people through the desert to the land of promise and of plenty; but still the passage contains a general truth in regard to the principles of his administration.

6. setteth the solitary in families—literally, "settleth the lonely" (as wanderers) "at home." Though a general truth, there is perhaps allusion to the wandering and settlement of the Israelites.

rebellious dwell in a dry land—removed from all the comforts of home.

Setteth the solitary in families; such as were single and solitary he blesseth with a wife and children, as he did Abraham. Houses are oft put for posterity, as Exodus 1:21 Ruth 4:11 2 Samuel 7:11.

Bringeth out those which are bound with chains; he setteth captives and prisoners at liberty, as he did the Israelites, &c.

The rebellious; those who rebel against God, as the Egyptians did.

Dwell in a dry land; are deprived of all true comfort, and plagued with manifold calamities. God setteth the solitary in families,.... Which the Jewish writers generally understand of an increase of families, with children in lawful marriage; see Psalm 113:9; an instance of which we have in Abraham and Sarah; from which single or solitary ones, when joined in marriage, sprung a numerous offspring, Isaiah 51:2. And to this sense the Targum paraphrases the words;

"God is he that joins, couples single ones into a couple, as one:''

some copies add,

"to build an house out of them;''

that is, a family; see Ruth 4:11. But it may be better interpreted of the fruitfulness and increase of the church with converts, under the Gospel dispensation, even from among the Gentiles; who were before solitary, or were alone, without God and Christ, and aliens from the commonwealth of Israel; but being called and converted by the ministry of the word, were brought into and placed in Gospel churches, or families; see Isaiah 54:1; and may be applied to particular persons, who, before conversion, may be said to be "solitary" or alone; living without God, the knowledge and fear of him, and fellowship with him, being alienated from the life of him through ignorance; and without Christ, and communion with him, he not dwelling in them, nor they in him; and also sensual, not having the Spirit, his graces and fruits; being destitute of faith, hope, and love: and, moreover, aliens from the people of God, having no society with them, being in a state of solitude and darkness, and under the power of sin and Satan; helpless and "desolate", as the word here used rendered, Psalm 25:16. But, in effectual calling, such are brought out of this dismal state, and being drawn with the cords of love by the Spirit, to the Father and the Son, and brought to a spiritual acquaintance with them, they are "set in families", or placed in Gospel churches; which, as families, have a master over them, who is Christ the Son and firstborn, of whom they are named; where are saints of various ages, sizes, and standing; some fathers, some young men, and some children; where are provisions suitable for them, and stewards to give them their portion of meat in due season, who are the ministers of the word; and laws and rules, by which they are directed and regulated, and everything is kept in good decorum;

he bringeth out those which are bound with chains; as Peter and others literally, Acts 12:5; or rather it is to be understood spiritually of such as are bound with the chains of their own sins, and are under the power of them, with the fetters of the law, in which they are held, and who are led and kept captive by Satan; those Christ the Son makes free, proclaims liberty to them, says to such prisoners, Go forth; and, by the blood of his covenant, sends them forth, and directs them to himself, the strong hold, as prisoners of hope; see Isaiah 61:1. The Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions render it, "he bringeth forth the prisoners with fortitude"; so Apollinarius, "with his great power and strength"; and the Syriac version, with prosperity; or in a pompous manner, as the Targum. But the words may be better rendered, "he bringeth forth the prisoners", either as Ainsworth, "into fit (and commodious) places", or rather, "into the conveniencies" or "commodities": that is, of life, such as prisoners are destitute of;

but the rebellious dwell in a dry land; meaning the Jews, to whom Christ came, and whom they rejected, reviled, hated, and would not have him to reign over them, and were a gainsaying and disobedient people; for which their land was smitten with a curse, and in the time of their wars became a dry land; when famine and pestilence were everywhere, and such tribulation as was never known, Isaiah 8:21. Moreover, the nations of the world, among whom they are dispersed, are a dry land to them; and even such places as are become fruitful through the preaching of the Gospel are no other to them, who neither do hear it, nor will they hear it; and they are like persons in a dry and thirsty land, vainly expecting a Messiah, who will never come. This may also be applied to all that obey not the Gospel of Christ, who will be punished with everlasting destruction from his presence, and shall not have a drop of cold water allowed them to cool their tongue. The allusion may be thought to be to the Jews, that murmured and rebelled against God, and vexed his Spirit in the wilderness, where their carcasses fell; and so dwelt in a dry land, and entered not into rest, or the land of Canaan. The Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions, render it, "in graves"; Apollinarius paraphrases it,

"he bringeth the dead out of the graves to light.''

God {d} setteth the solitary in families: he bringeth out those which are bound with chains: but the rebellious dwell in a {e} dry land.

(d) He gives children to those who are childless, and increases their families.

(e) Which is devoid of God's blessings, which before they had abused.

6. God maketh the solitary to dwell in a house;

He bringeth out prisoners into prosperity;

But the stubborn dwell In a parched land.

The verse describes general principles of God’s dealings with men, yet with special allusion to the establishment of Israel in Canaan, to their liberation from the bondage of Egypt, and to the fate of the rebels in the wilderness: and again, if the Ps. is rightly placed in the Exile, to the second Exodus from Babylon, and the reestablishment of the Israelites in their ancient home, while the faithless and rebellious part of the people will be left in the dreary and inhospitable heathen land, unwatered by the streams of divine grace (Psalm 63:1). Rebellious or stubborn has been understood by some to refer to the heathen, but the usage of the word (which is applied to the ‘stubborn and rebellious son’ in Deuteronomy 21:18; Deuteronomy 21:20) suggests rather that refractory Israelites are meant, as in Psalm 78:8. Stubborn rebellion against Jehovah’s will was characteristic of the whole course of Israel’s history; and it is hinted not obscurely that as of old the rebels perished in the wilderness instead of entering Canaan, so now the murmurers in Babylon, of whom it is plain from Isaiah 40-66 (e.g. Psalm 65:2) that there were many, will be left there to their fate. The solitary or desolate (Psalm 25:16) are the homeless and friendless. Cp. Isaiah 58:7; and (though the word is different) Lamentations 1:1.Verse 6. - God setteth the solitary in families; or, in a home; i.e. gives "solitary ones" - outcasts, wanderers - a home to dwell in. The reference is to the settlement of the nomadic Israelites in Canaan. He bringeth out those which are bound (see Psalm 146:7, "The Lord looseth the prisoners;" and compare the many references to the "bondage" of Israel in Egypt). The Exodus is glanced at, but not exclusively. God "brings men out" from the tyranny of worldly oppressors, of ghostly enemies, and of their own lusts and sins. With chains; rather, into prosperity (Hengstenberg, Kay, Cheyne, Revised Version). But the rebellious dwell in a dry land. Rebels against God are not "brought out." They are left to dwell in the "dry land" of their own impenitence and self-will (comp. Numbers 14:29-35). The joyous prospect of the conversion of heathen, expressed in the same words as in Psalm 67:5, here receives as its foundation a joyous event of the present time: the earth has just yielded its fruit (cf. Psalm 85:13), the fruit that had been sown and hoped for. This increase of corn and fruits is a blessing and an earnest of further blessing, by virtue of which (Jeremiah 33:9; Isaiah 60:3; cf. on the contrary Joel 2:17) it shall come to pass that all peoples unto the uttermost bounds of the earth shall reverence the God of Israel. For it is the way of God, that all the good that He manifests towards Israel shall be for the well-being of mankind.
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