Psalm 78:65
Then the LORD awaked as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man that shouts by reason of wine.
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(65) That shouteth . . .—For the boldness of the image which likens God to a giant warrior exhilarated with wine we may range this with the picture in Psalms 60 (See Notes.)

Psalm 78:65-66. Then the Lord awaked as one out of sleep, &c. — “While, by his permission, the Philistines were chastising his people for their sins, he held his peace, and seemed unconcerned as one asleep: but when due chastisement had brought the delinquents to themselves, the cries of penitent Israel awakened, as it were, and called forth the zeal of the Lord of hosts, to vindicate his honour, and deliver his servants; and then the vigour of his operations was such, as might be compared to the alacrity and courage of a mighty champion, when, refreshed and inspirited by wine, he attacks his adversaries, and bears all down before him. And he smote his enemies in the hinder parts — With the disease of the emerods, which was both painful and shameful. He put them to a perpetual reproach — He caused them to perpetuate their own reproach, by sending back the ark of God with their golden emerods, the lasting monuments of their shame. 78:56-72 After the Israelites were settled in Canaan, the children were like their fathers. God gave them his testimonies, but they turned back. Presumptuous sins render even Israelites hateful to God's holiness, and exposed to his justice. Those whom the Lord forsakes become an easy prey to the destroyer. And sooner or later, God will disgrace his enemies. He set a good government over his people; a monarch after his own heart. With good reason does the psalmist make this finishing, crowning instance of God's favour to Israel; for David was a type of Christ, the great and good Shepherd, who was humbled first, and then exalted; and of whom it was foretold, that he should be filled with the Spirit of wisdom and understanding. On the uprightness of his heart, and the skilfulness of his hands, all his subjects may rely; and of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end. Every trial of human nature hitherto, confirms the testimony of Scripture, that the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, and nothing but being created anew by the Holy Ghost can cure the ungodliness of any.Then the Lord awaked as one out of sleep - literally, as one sleeping; that is, as one who is asleep suddenly arouses himself. The Lord seemed to have slept, or to have been inattentive to what was occurring. Suddenly he aroused himself to inflict vengeance on the enemies of his people. Compare Psalm 7:6, note; Psalm 44:23, note.

And like a mighty man - The allusion is probably to a warrior.

That shouteth by reason of wine - The proper idea here is that of singing, or lifting up the voice in exultation and rejoicing; the idea of a man who sings and shouts as he is excited by wine, and as he presses onward to conflict and to victory. It is not uncommon in the Scriptures to compare God, as he goes forth to accomplish his purposes on his enemies, with a warrior. See Exodus 15:3; Psalm 24:8.

65. (Compare Ps 22:16; Isa 42:13). Awaked as one out of sleep; for God, by giving up not only his people, but his ark, to the contempt and insolency of the Philistines, might seem to be asleep, and insensible of his own honour and interest, till by a sudden and unexpected blow he convinced his enemies of the contrary.

Shouteth by reason of wine; whose spirit and courage is revived and inflamed by a liberal draught of generous wine; which comparison is no more injurious to the Divine Majesty than that of a thief’s coming in the night, to which Christ’s second coming is compared, 1 Thessalonians 5:2. Then the Lord awaked as one out of sleep,.... He seemed to be asleep, while he suffered the ark to be taken, and the Israelites to be slain; and he may be said to awake when he exerted his power in smiting the Philistines, and causing their idol to fall before his ark; see Psalm 7:6,

and like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine; who having taken a free draught of generous wine, not to excess, goes forth with great courage and cheerfulness to meet his adversary, shouting as he goes, being sure of victory; which must be applied to God with decency, consistent with the glory of his majesty, and the perfections of his nature; and seems designed to express his power and readiness to help his people, and avenge himself on his enemies; see Isaiah 42:13.

Then the Lord awaked as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man that {q} shouteth by reason of wine.

(q) Because they were drunk in their sins, they judged God's patience to be slumbering, as though he were drunk, therefore he answering their beastly judgment, says, he will awake and take sudden vengeance.

65. While His people were at the mercy of their enemies He seemed to be asleep. Cp. Psalm 44:23, note.

that shouteth &c.] Cp. Isaiah 42:13-14. “The daring figure of God’s awaking as from sleep, and dashing upon Israel’s foes, who are also His, with a shout like that of a hero stimulated by wine, is more accordant with Eastern fervour than with our colder imagination; but it wonderfully expresses the sudden transition from a period, during which God seemed passive and careless of His people’s wretchedness, to one in which His power flashed forth triumphant for their defence.” (Maclaren). Many modern commentators follow the LXX, Targ., and Jer., in rendering like a giant who has been overcome with wine. This gives a good parallelism to the preceding line, but the verb does not occur elsewhere in this sense, and bold as are the similes of the Psalmists, this would be scarcely seemly.

65–66. At length Jehovah took pity on His people, and delivered them from their adversaries.Verse 65. - Then the Lord awaked as one out of sleep (comp. Psalm 7:6; Psalm 35:23; Psalm 73:20). God is said to "awake," when, after a time of inaction, he suddenly exerts his Almighty power, to the discomfiture of his enemies. That God never really slept was the profound conviction of the Israelites generally (see 2 Kings 18:27; Psalm 121:3, 4). And like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine (comp. Zechariah 10:7; Isaiah 42:13). When these plagues rose to the highest pitch, Israel became free, and removed, being led by its God, into the Land of Promise; but it continued still to behave there just as it had done in the desert. The poet in Psalm 78:49-51 brings the fifth Egyptian plague, the pestilence (Exodus 9:1-7), and the tenth and last, the smiting of the first-born (מכּת בּכרות), Exodus 11:1, together. Psalm 78:49 sounds like Job 20:23 (cf. below Psalm 78:64). מלאכי רעים are not wicked angels, against which view Hengstenberg refers to the scriptural thesis of Jacobus Ode in his work De Angelis, Deum ad puniendos malos homines mittere bonos angelos et ad castigandos pios usurpare malos, but angels that bring misfortune. The mode of construction belongs to the chapter of the genitival subordination of the adjective to the substantive, like אשׁת רע, Proverbs 6:24, cf. 1 Samuel 28:7; Numbers 5:18, Numbers 5:24; 1 Kings 10:15; Jeremiah 24:2, and the Arabic msjdu 'l-jâm‛, the mosque of the assembling one, i.e., the assembling (congregational) mosque, therefore: angels (not of the wicked ones equals wicked angels, which it might signify elsewhere, but) of the evil ones equals evil, misfortune-bringing angels (Ew. ֗287, a). The poet thus paraphrases the המּשׁחית that is collectively conceived in Exodus 12:13, Exodus 12:23; Hebrews 11:28. In Psalm 78:50 the anger is conceived of as a stream of fire, in Psalm 78:50 death as an executioner, and in 50c the pestilence as a foe. ראשׁית אונים (Genesis 49:3; Deuteronomy 21:17) is that which had sprung for the first time from manly vigour (plur. intensivus). Egypt is called חם as in Psalm 105 and Psalm 111:1-10 according to Genesis 10:6, and is also called by themselves in ancient Egyptian Kemi, Coptic Chmi, Kme (vid., Plutarch, De Iside et Osiride, ch. 33). When now these plagues which softened their Pharaoh went forth upon the Egyptians, God procured for His people a free departure, He guided flock-like (כּעדר like בּעדר, Jeremiah 31:24, with Dag. implicitum), i.e., as a shepherd, the flock of His people (the favourite figure of the Psalms of Asaph) through the desert, - He led them safely, removing all terrors out of the way and drowning their enemies in the Red Sea, to His holy territory, to the mountain which (זה) His right hand had acquired, or according to the accents (cf. supra, p. 104): to the mountain there (זה), which, etc. It is not Zion that is meant, but, as in the primary passage Exodus 15:16., in accordance with the parallelism (although this is not imperative) and the usage of the language, which according to Isaiah 11:9; Isaiah 57:13, is incontrovertible, the whole of the Holy Land with its mountains and valleys (cf. Deuteronomy 11:11). בּחבל נחלה is the poetical equivalent to בּנחלה, Numbers 34:2; Numbers 36:2, and frequently. The Beth is Beth essentiae (here in the same syntactical position as in Isaiah 48:10; Ezekiel 20:41, and also Job 22:24 surely): He made them (the heathen, viz., as in Joshua 23:4 their territories) fall to them (viz., as the expression implies, by lot, בגורל) as a line of inheritance, i.e., (as in Psalm 105:11) as a portion measured out as an inheritance. It is only in Psalm 78:56 (and not so early as Psalm 78:41) that the narration passes over to the apostate conduct of the children of the generation of the desert, that is to say, of the Israel of Canaan. Instead of עדוריו from עדוּת, the word here is עדוריו from עדה (a derivative of עוּד, not יעד). Since the apostasy did not gain ground until after the death of Joshua and Eleazar, it is the Israel of the period of the Judges that we are to think of here. קשׁת רמיּה, Psalm 78:57, is not: a bow of slackness, but: a bow of deceit; for the point of comparison, according to Hosea 7:16, is its missing the mark: a bow that discharges its arrow in a wrong direction, that makes no sure shot. The verb רמה signifies not only to allow to hang down slack (cogn. רפה), but also, according to a similar conception to spe dejicere, to disappoint, deny. In the very act of turning towards God, or at least being inclined towards Him by His tokens of power and loving-kindness, they turned (Jeremiah 2:21) like a vow that misses the mark and disappoints both aim and expectation. The expression in Psalm 78:58 is like Deuteronomy 32:16, Deuteronomy 32:21. שׁמע refers to their prayer to the Ba(a4lim (Judges 2:11). The word התעבּר, which occurs three times in this Psalm, is a word belonging to Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 3:26). Psalm 78:59 is purposely worded exactly like Psalm 78:21. The divine purpose of love spurned by the children just as by the fathers, was obliged in this case, as in the former, to pass over into angry provocation.
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