Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favorable no more?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Psalm 77:7-9. Will the Lord cast off for ever? — “The psalmist now relates the process of his meditations, and of that controversy which arose in his heart between faith and distrust.” Most commentators suppose that the psalmist’s distress and despondency were occasioned chiefly, if not solely, by public calamities. Thus Poole seems to have understood the passage. “Will the Lord cast off — His peculiar and chosen people? This does not seem to agree either with God’s nature, or with that everlasting covenant which he hath made with them. Is his mercy clean gone for ever? — Are all the stores of his mercy quite spent? Doth he now cease to be what he hath styled himself, The Lord, gracious and merciful? &c. Doth his promise fail for evermore? — Will he never make good those gracious promises in which he hath commanded us to hope? Hath God forgotten to be gracious? — Because he hath so long disused so to be? Hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? — So as they can never flow forth, no, not to his own people?” In the same light it is considered by Dr. Horne, who observes upon it, “While he (the psalmist) viewed the distressful scene around him, he found himself strongly tempted to question God’s love of the church; to think that he had finally rejected his people; that the promised mercy of redemption would never be accomplished; and that indignation had restrained the bowels of our heavenly Father, which no longer yearned toward his afflicted children. These were the thoughts suggested to a desponding soul by the desolations of Zion at that time; and the state of things in the world may possibly be such as to suggest the like thoughts to many in the Christian Church, before our Lord shall appear again for her final redemption.” But there does not seem to be any intimation in the Psalm that the author’s trouble and dejection arose from public miseries. Personal trials and temptations might, and it seems probable from the expressions here used, that they were at least the principal causes of his distress and despondency. Thus Henry: “This is the language of a disconsolate soul, now walking in darkness, and having no light, a case not uncommon even with those who fear the Lord, and obey the voice of his servant, Isaiah 50:10.” Especially, we may add, when exercised with afflictive and trying dispensations of providence, or assaulted with sore temptations. Even “God’s own people, in a cloudy and dark day,” and the rather if they have grieved the Holy Spirit, which should have witnessed their sonship, and have defiled their conscience by yielding to any known sin, in temper, word, or work, or to lukewarmness and sloth, or the spirit of the world, “may be tempted to make desperate conclusions about their own spiritual state, or the condition of God’s church and kingdom in the world; and, as to both, may be ready to give up all for gone. We may be tempted to think that God has abandoned and cast us off; that the covenant of grace fails us, and that the tender mercy of our God shall be for ever withheld from us. But we must not give way to such suggestions as these. If fear and melancholy ask such peevish questions, let faith answer them from the Scripture. Will the Lord cast off for ever? God forbid, Romans 11:1. No; the Lord will not cast off his” obedient “people, Psalm 94:14. Will he be favourable no more? Yes, he will; for though he cause grief, yet he will have compassion, Lamentations 3:32. Is his mercy clean gone for ever? No; his mercy endureth for ever; as it is from everlasting, so it is to everlasting, Psalm 103:17. Doth his promise fail for evermore? No; it is impossible for God to lie, Hebrews 6:18. Hath God forgotten to be gracious? No; he cannot deny himself, and his own name, which he hath proclaimed to be gracious and merciful, Exodus 34:6. Has his anger shut up his tender mercies? No; they are new every morning, Lamentations 3:22.” Thus Henry. To whose encouraging observations we may add, nearly in the words of Sherlock, that “whether the calamities which afflicted the psalmist were private to himself, or public to his people and country, yet as long as his thoughts dwelt on them, and led him into expostulations with God for the severity of his judgments, he found no ease or relief. He complained heavily, but what did he get by his complaint? Was he not forced immediately to confess the impropriety and folly of it? I said, This is my infirmity. He said very right. In complaining, he followed the natural impressions of passion and impatience: in acknowledging the folly of his complaint, he spoke not only the language of grace, but of sense and reason. But this good man, being well grounded in religion, was able so far to get the better of his doubts and fears as to pass a right judgment in his own case: and to call to his assistance the proper reflections which the great works of Providence administered for the support and confirmation of his hope and confidence toward God. Here then was his comfort; here the cure of all his grief. The scene around him was dark and gloomy; but, dark as it was, it was under the guidance and direction of the hand which had never failed the faithful, to deliver him out of all his troubles.”Will the Lord cast off his peculiar and chosen people? This doth not seem to agree either with God’s nature, or with that everlasting covenant which he hath made with them.
and will he be favourable no more? or bear good will, show kindness, be propitious, graciously accept, as the word (p) signifies; this question supposes that he had been favourable, and bore a good will, as the gracious purposes and kind intentions of his heart, the well stored covenant of his grace, and the mission of his Son to be a Saviour, show; that he has been propitious through the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ, and has accepted of the persons and services of his people, and indulged them with near communion with himself; but that now he is not, he having withdrawn the sense of his love, and the communications of his divine favours; and Unbelief says he will be so no more, and adds, I am cut off from before his eyes, and am as the slain, that are remembered no more; and shall go softly all my years, in the bitterness of my soul; but Faith says, he will be favourable again; that joy will come in the morning; that the Lord will hear, and be a light unto the souls of his people, though in darkness; and will bring to the light, and cause to behold his righteousness.Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)7. “For age after age will the Lord cast off?
And will he not once again shew favour?”
7. The emphasis is on for ever; lit. for ages to come, which are compared with the ages past (Psalm 77:5); a different word from that in Psalm 77:8, and Psalm 74:1. Cp. Psalm 85:5.
For ‘shew favour,’ cp. Psalm 44:3; Psalms 18; Psalm 85:1; Psalm 106:4.Verse 7. - Will the Lord cast off forever? The psalmist asked himself in the night such questions as these: Is it really to be supposed that God will cast off his people forever? And will he be favourable (or, gracious) no more? Surely such desertion is incredible. Psalm 94:1; Isaiah 43:8; Jeremiah 17:18, and the mode of writing הקטיל, Psalm 142:5, 2 Kings 8:6, and frequently; therefore et audi equals ut audias (cf. 2 Samuel 21:3). But such an isolated form of address is not to be tolerated; והאזין has been regarded as perf. consec. in the sense of ut audiat, although this modification of האזין into האזין in connection with the appearing of the Waw consec. cannot be supported in any other instance (Ew. ֗234, e), and Kimchi on this account tries to persuade himself to that which is impossible, viz., that והאזין in respect of sound stands for ויאזין. The preterites in Psalm 77:3 express that which has commenced and which will go on. The poet labours in his present time of affliction to press forward to the Lord, who has withdrawn from him; his hand is diffused, i.e., stretched out (not: poured out, for the radical meaning of נגר, as the Syriac shows, is protrahere), in the night-time without wearying and leaving off; it is fixedly and stedfastly (אמוּנה, as it is expressed in Exodus 17:12) stretched out towards heaven. His soul is comfortless, and all comfort up to the present rebounds as it were from it (cf. Genesis 37:35; Jeremiah 31:15). If he remembers God, who was once near to him, then he is compelled to groan (cf. Psalm 55:18, Psalm 55:3; and on the cohortative form of a Lamed He verb, cf. Ges. ֗75, 6), because He has hidden Himself from him; if he muses, in order to find Him again, then his spirit veils itself, i.e., it sinks into night and feebleness (התעטּף as in Psalm 107:5; Psalm 142:4; Psalm 143:4). Each of the two members of Psalm 77:4 are protasis and apodosis; concerning this emotional kind of structure of a sentence, vid., Ewald, ֗357, b.
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