Psalm 77:9
Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
77:1-10 Days of trouble must be days of prayer; when God seems to have withdrawn from us, we must seek him till we find him. In the day of his trouble the psalmist did not seek for the diversion of business or amusement, but he sought God, and his favor and grace. Those that are under trouble of mind, must pray it away. He pored upon the trouble; the methods that should have relieved him did but increase his grief. When he remembered God, it was only the Divine justice and wrath. His spirit was overwhelmed, and sank under the load. But let not the remembrance of the comforts we have lost, make us unthankful for those that are left. Particularly he called to remembrance the comforts with which he supported himself in former sorrows. Here is the language of a sorrowful, deserted soul, walking in darkness; a common case even among those that fear the Lord, Isa 50:10. Nothing wounds and pierces like the thought of God's being angry. God's own people, in a cloudy and dark day, may be tempted to make wrong conclusions about their spiritual state, and that of God's kingdom in the world. But we must not give way to such fears. Let faith answer them from the Scripture. The troubled fountain will work itself clear again; and the recollection of former times of joyful experience often raises a hope, tending to relief. Doubts and fears proceed from the want and weakness of faith. Despondency and distrust under affliction, are too often the infirmities of believers, and, as such, are to be thought upon by us with sorrow and shame. When, unbelief is working in us, we must thus suppress its risings.Hath God forgotten to be gracious? - Has he passed over mercy in administering his government? Has he ceased to remember that man needs mercy? Has he forgotten that this is an attribute of his own nature?

Hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? - The original word here rendered "tender mercies" refers to the "bowels," as the seat of compassion or mercy, in accordance with a usage common in Hebrew. See Psalm 25:6, note; Isaiah 16:11, note; Isaiah 63:15, note. Compare Luke 1:78 (in Greek); Philippians 1:8; Philippians 2:1; 1 John 3:17. We speak of the "heart" as the seat of affection and kindness. The Hebrews included the heart, but they used a more general word. The word rendered "shut up" means "closed;" and the question is whether his mercy was closed, or had ceased forever. The psalmist concludes that if this were done, it must be as the result of anger - anger in view of the sins of people.

4. holdest … waking—or, "fast," that I cannot sleep. Thus he is led to express his anxious feelings in several earnest questions indicative of impatient sorrow. Hath God forgotten to be gracious, because he hath so long disused it?

Hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies, so as they can never flow forth, no, not to his own people?

Hath God forgotten to be gracious,.... He has not, is it possible that he should? as the Targum; it is not; he cannot forget the purposes of his grace and mercy, nor the covenant and promises of it, nor people the objects of it; and much less can he for his grace and mercy itself, so agreeable to his nature, what he delights in, and which he has proclaimed in Christ:

hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies?; as an avaricious man shuts up his hand, and will not communicate liberally; or as the sea is shut up with doors, that its waters may not overflow; no, the mercies of God are not restrained, though unbelief says they are, at least queries if they are not, Isaiah 63:15, but Faith says they flow freely through Christ, and the people of God are crowned with lovingkindness and tender mercies; God gives liberally, and upbraideth not; and though he may hide his face in a little seeming wrath for a moment, yet with great mercies will he gather, and with everlasting kindness will he have mercy.

Selah. See Gill on Psalm 3:2.

Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9. Has He forgotten or deliberately abandoned those attributes which He once proclaimed as the essence of His Nature (Exodus 34:6)? Cp. Habakkuk 3:2, “In wrath wilt thou remember mercy.”

Verse 9. - Hath God forgotten to be gracious? Can God, who forgets nothing and no one (Isaiah 49:15), have forgotten his own nature, which is to be "merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness" (Exodus 34:6)? Assuredly not. The higher nature in the psalmist, as Professor Cheyne observes, expostulates with the lower one. Hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Has he shut them up, "as in a closed hand" (Kay, Canon Cook)? (comp. Deuteronomy 15:7). Psalm 77:9He calls his eyelids the "guards of my eyes." He who holds these so that they remain open when they want to shut together for sleep, is God; for his looking up to Him keeps the poet awake in spite of all overstraining of his powers. Hupfeld and others render thus: "Thou hast held, i.e., caused to last, the night-watches of mine eyes," - which is affected in thought and expression. The preterites state what has been hitherto and has not yet come to a close. He still endures, as formerly, such thumps and blows within him, as though he lay upon an anvil (פּעם), and his voice fails him. Then silent soliloquy takes the place of audible prayer; he throws himself back in thought to the days of old (Psalm 143:5), the years of past periods (Isaiah 51:9), which were so rich in the proofs of the power and loving-kindness of the God who was then manifest, but is now hidden. He remembers the happier past of his people and his own, inasmuch as he now in the night purposely calls back to himself in his mind the time when joyful thankfulness impelled him to the song of praise accompanied by the music of the harp (בּלּילה belongs according to the accents to the verb, not to נגינתי, although that construction certainly is strongly commended by parallel passages like Psalm 16:7; Psalm 42:9; Psalm 92:3, cf. Job 35:10), in place of which, crying and sighing and gloomy silence have now entered. He gives himself up to musing "with his heart," i.e., in the retirement of his inmost nature, inasmuch as he allows his thoughts incessantly to hover to and fro between the present and the former days, and in consequence of this (fut. consec. as in Psalm 42:6) his spirit betakes itself to scrupulizing (what the lxx reproduces with σκάλλειν, Aquila with σκαλεύειν) - his conflict of temptation grows fiercer. Now follow the two doubting questions of the tempted one: he asks in different applications, Psalm 77:8-10 (cf. Psalm 85:6), whether it is then all at an end with God's loving-kindness and promise, at the same time saying to himself, that this nevertheless is at variance with the unchangeableness of His nature (Malachi 3:6) and the inviolability of His covenant. אפס (only occurring as a 3. praet.) alternates with גּמר (Psalm 12:2). חנּות is an infinitive construct formed after the manner of the Lamed He verbs, which, however, does also occur as infinitive absolute (שׁמּות, Ezekiel 36:3, cf. on Psalm 17:3); Gesenius and Olshausen (who doubts this infinitive form, 245, f) explain it, as do Aben-Ezra and Kimchi, as the plural of a substantive חנּה, but in the passage cited from Ezekiel (vid., Hitzig) such a substantival plural is syntactically impossible. קפץ רחמים is to draw together or contract and draw back one's compassion, so that it does not manifest itself outwardly, just as he who will not give shuts (יקפּץ) his hand (Deuteronomy 15:7; cf. supra, Psalm 17:10).
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