Psalm 78:36
Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied to him with their tongues.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Psalm 78:36-37. Nevertheless, they did flatter him with their mouth — As if they thought, by mere fair speeches, to prevail on Him who searches the heart, and requires truth in the inward parts, to revoke the sentence gone out against them, or remove the judgment under which they suffered. And they lied unto him with their tongue — They made glorious but false professions and protestations of their sincere resolutions of future obedience. For their heart was not right with him — All their confessions and petitions were but hypocritical and forced, and did not proceed from hearts truly upright and grieved for their former offences, and firmly resolved to turn unto the Lord. Neither were they steadfast in his covenant They discovered their hypocrisy, by their apostacy from God, as soon as their danger was past.78:9-39. Sin dispirits men, and takes away the heart. Forgetfulness of God's works is the cause of disobedience to his laws. This narrative relates a struggle between God's goodness and man's badness. The Lord hears all our murmurings and distrusts, and is much displeased. Those that will not believe the power of God's mercy, shall feel the fire of his indignation. Those cannot be said to trust in God's salvation as their happiness at last, who can not trust his providence in the way to it. To all that by faith and prayer, ask, seek, and knock, these doors of heaven shall at any time be opened; and our distrust of God is a great aggravation of our sins. He expressed his resentment of their provocation; not in denying what they sinfully lusted after, but in granting it to them. Lust is contented with nothing. Those that indulge their lust, will never be estranged from it. Those hearts are hard indeed, that will neither be melted by the mercies of the Lord, nor broken by his judgments. Those that sin still, must expect to be in trouble still. And the reason why we live with so little comfort, and to so little purpose, is, because we do not live by faith. Under these rebukes they professed repentance, but they were not sincere, for they were not constant. In Israel's history we have a picture of our own hearts and lives. God's patience, and warnings, and mercies, imbolden them to harden their hearts against his word. And the history of kingdoms is much the same. Judgments and mercies have been little attended to, until the measure of their sins has been full. And higher advantages have not kept churches from declining from the commandments of God. Even true believers recollect, that for many a year they abused the kindness of Providence. When they come to heaven, how will they admire the Lord's patience and mercy in bringing them to his kingdom!Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth - The word rendered "flatter" means properly "to open;" and hence, "to be open; to be ingenious or frank;" and then, to be easily persuaded, to be deluded, to be beguiled; and hence, also, in an active form, to persuade, to entice, to seduce, to beguile, to delude. The meaning here is, that they attempted to deceive by their professions, or that their professions were false and hollow. Those professions were the mere result of affliction. They were based on no principle; there was no true love or confidence at the foundation. Such professions or promises are often made in affliction. Under the pressure of heavy judgments, the loss of property, the loss of friends, or the failure of health, people become serious, and resolve to give attention to religion. It is rarely that such purposes are founded in sincerity, and that the conversions apparently resulting from them are true conversions. The Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate render the phrase here, "They loved with their mouth."

And they lied unto him with their tongues - They made promises which they did not keep.

36. lied … tongues—a feigned obedience (Ps 18:44). They made glorious but false professions and protestations of their sincere resolutions of future obedience, if God would spare them. Nevertheless, they did flatter him with their mouth,.... In prayer to him, they only drew nigh to him with their mouths, and honoured him with their lips; they showed much love to him and his ways and ordinances hereby; but their hearts were not with him, but after their lusts; they made fine speeches and fair promises, but their hearts and mouths did not agree; they spoke with a double heart, thinking and endeavouring to "deceive" the Lord, as the word (b) here used signifies; but he is not to be deceived, nor will he be mocked; the Targum is,

"they allured (or persuaded) him, with their mouth;''

they attempted to do so; the Syriac and Arabic versions are, "they loved him with their mouth"; professed great love and sincere affection to him, when they had none:

and they lied unto him with their tongues; to lie unto men is bad, but to God is worse; and it is a most vain and foolish thing, since there is not a word in the tongue of any but is known to him.

(b) "quamvis conarentur eum decipere", Junius & Tremellius; "attamen decipiebant eum", Cocceius.

Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
36. But they flattered him with their mouth,

And lied unto him with their tongue (R.V.).

As though God were a man who could be deceived by hypocrisy. Cp. Isaiah 29:13.

According to the Massoratic reckoning, this is the middle of the 2527 verses of the Psalter, but it must be remembered that the titles of the Psalms are frequently reckoned as verses in the Hebrew text (Introd. p. xvi).Verse 36. - Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth. The Revised Version is simpler and better, But they flattered him with their mouth. All that they said or did when alarmed by some judgment of God's was a mere pretence - an attempt to "flatter" and cozen God, and so win his favour. And they lied unto him with their tongues. They offered him a lip service, which was a "lie," a mere semblance of real religion. Passing over to the giving of the quails, the poet is thinking chiefly of the first occasion mentioned in Exodus 16, which directly preceded the giving of the manna. But the description follows the second: יסּע (He caused to depart, set out) after Numbers 11:31. "East" and "south" belong together: it was a south-east wind from the Aelanitic Gulf. "To rain down" is a figurative expression for a plentiful giving of dispensing from above. "Its camp, its tents," are those of Israel, Numbers 11:31, cf. Exodus 16:13. The תּעוה, occurring twice, Psalm 78:29-30 (of the object of strong desire, as in Psalm 21:3), points to Kibroth-hattaavah, the scene of this carnal lusting; הביא is the transitive of the בּוא in Proverbs 13:12. In Psalm 78:30-31 even in the construction the poet closely follows Numbers 11:33 (cf. also זרוּ with לזרא, aversion, loathing, Numbers 11:20). The Waw unites what takes place simultaneously; a construction which presents the advantage of being able to give special prominence to the subject. The wrath of God consisted in the breaking out of a sickness which was the result of immoderate indulgence, and to which even the best-nourished and most youthfully vigorous fell a prey. When the poet goes on in Psalm 78:32 to say that in spite of these visitations (בּכל־זאת) they went on sinning, he has chiefly before his mind the outbreak of "fat" rebelliousness after the return of the spies, cf. Psalm 78:32 with Numbers 14:11. And Psalm 78:33 refers to the judgment of death in the wilderness threatened at that time to all who had come out of Egypt from twenty years old and upward (Numbers 14:28-34). Their life devoted to death vanished from that time onwards בּהבל, in breath-like instability, and בּבּהלה, in undurable precipitancy; the mode of expression in Psalm 31:11; Job 36:1 suggests to the poet an expressive play of words. When now a special judgment suddenly and violently thinned the generation that otherwise was dying off, as in Numbers 21:6., then they inquired after Him, they again sought His favour, those who were still preserved in the midst of this dying again remembered the God who had proved Himself to be a "Rock" (Deuteronomy 32:15, Deuteronomy 32:18, Deuteronomy 32:37) and to be a "Redeemer" (Genesis 48:16) to them. And what next? Psalm 78:36-37

(Note: According to the reckoning of the Masora this Psalm 78:36 is the middle verse of the 2527 verses of the Psalter (Buxtorf, Tiberias, 1620, p. 133).)

tell us what effect they gave to this disposition to return to God. They appeased Him with their mouth, is meant to say: they sought to win Him over to themselves by fair speeches, inasmuch as they thus anthropopathically conceived of God, and with their tongue they played the hypocrite to Him; their heart, however, was not sincere towards Him (עם like את in Psalm 78:8), i.e., not directed straight towards Him, and they proved themselves not stedfast (πιστοί, or properly βέβαιοι) in their covenant-relationship to Him.

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