Psalm 79:11
Let the sighing of the prisoner come before you; according to the greatness of your power preserve you those that are appointed to die;
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(11) Appointed to die.—See margin. This expression, as well as the “sighing of the prisoners,” occurs, Psalm 102:20, of the sufferers in the Captivity.

Psalm 79:11-12. Let the sighing of the prisoner — Of thy poor people now in prison, or, at least, in captivity; come before thee — Be taken cognizance of by thee, and be as prevalent with thee as these prayers; according to the greatness of thy power — Hebrew, זרועךְ, zerognacha, of thine arm; with which no creature can contend; preserve thou those that are appointed to die — Hebrew, בני תמותה, benee temutha, the children of death, that is, which were either designed for death, or were in manifest danger of it, as being wholly in the power of their cruel and barbarous enemies. Thus, “next to those who had been slain, the case of such as groaned in captivity, lying bound in chains and fetters, under sentence of death, to be inflicted at the will of their cruel and insulting conquerors, is recommended to God.” And render unto our neighbours sevenfold — That is, either, 1st, Abundantly, as this phrase signifies, Isaiah 65:6-7; Jeremiah 32:18; Luke 6:38. Or, 2d, Sensibly, so that it may come home to them, and fall heavily upon them in their own persons. The reproach wherewith they have reproached thee — As impotent, or unfaithful, or unmerciful to thy people. As if he had said, “As they have reproached thee with weakness, so manifest to others their weakness, who are but sinful dust and ashes; as they have endeavoured to make thee contemptible, so let the world have just cause to despise them, who have thus presumptuously offended; according as it is written, Them that honour me, I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed,”

1 Samuel 2:30. And be assured, reader, however different the appearance of things may now be, this will certainly be found true in every instance at the last day.79:6-13 Those who persist in ignorance of God, and neglect of prayer, are the ungodly. How unrighteous soever men were, the Lord was righteous in permitting them to do what they did. Deliverances from trouble are mercies indeed, when grounded upon the pardon of sin; we should therefore be more earnest in prayer for the removal of our sins than for the removal of afflictions. They had no hopes but from God's mercies, his tender mercies. They plead no merit, they pretend to none, but, Help us for the glory of thy name; pardon us for thy name's sake. The Christian forgets not that he is often bound in the chain of his sins. The world to him is a prison; sentence of death is passed upon him, and he knows not how soon it may be executed. How fervently should he at all times pray, O let the sighing of a prisoner come before thee, according to the greatness of thy power preserve thou those that are appointed to die! How glorious will the day be, when, triumphant over sin and sorrow, the church beholds the adversary disarmed for ever! while that church shall, from age to age, sing the praises of her great Shepherd and Bishop, her King and her God.Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee - The sighing of him who is bound. The allusion here is, doubtless, to those among the Hebrews who had been taken captives, and who "sighed" not only on account of the sufferings which they endured in their bondage, but because they had been taken from their country and home. The meaning is, "Hear those sighs, and come for the deliverance of those who are thus held in captivity."

According to the greatness of thy power - Margin, as in Hebrew, thine arm. The arm is the symbol of power. It is implied here that great power was needful to deliver those who were held in captivity, power such as God only could exert - power which could be wielded only by an Omnipotent Being. It was the power of God only which could rescue them, as it is only by the power of God that sinners can be saved.

Preserve thou those that are appointed to die - Margin, Reserve the children of death. The literal meaning is, "Let remain the sons of death;" that is, Preserve those who are in such circumstances that death is impending, and who may be called the sons of death. This might apply to those who were condemned to death; or, to those who were sick and in danger of death; or to those who were prisoners and captives, and who were, by their sufferings, exposed to death. The prayer is that such might be suffered to remain on the earth; that is, that they might be kept alive.

11. prisoner—the whole captive people.

power—literally, "arm" (Ps 10:15).

Of the prisoner; of thy poor people now in prison, or, at least, in captivity.

Those that are appointed to die, Heb. the children of death, i.e. which were either designed to death, or in manifest danger of it, as being wholly in the power of their cruel and barbarous enemies. Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee,.... Such as were so in a literal or spiritual sense; and the sighs and groans of such are not hid from the Lord; they come up into his ears as did the sighing and groaning of the children of Israel when in Egypt, Exodus 2:23,

according to the greatness of thy power, preserve thou those that are appointed to die; not by the Lord, as all men are, but by men; who are under a sentence of condemnation, who are ready to die, being appointed to destruction, Proverbs 31:6, or are in danger of death, as Jarchi observes; the phrase is used in Talmudic writings; whose lives are exposed to danger, who are killed all the day long, and are accounted as sheep for the slaughter, Psalm 44:22, these it is desired the Lord would keep from dying, or cause them to remain in life; or not suffer their lives to be taken away from them, which he was able to do through "the greatness of his power"; though these words according to the accents belong to the preceding clause. The Targum, and so Jarchi, and other Jewish writers, render the words, "loose thou those", &c. mention being made before of prisoners, or of persons bound.

Let the sighing of the {i} prisoner come before thee; according to the greatness of thy power preserve thou {k} those that are appointed to die;

(i) Who though in respect to God they were justly punished for their sins, yet in consideration of their cause were unjustly murdered.

(k) Who were captives among their enemies and could look for nothing but death.

11. The same phrases recur in Psalm 102:20.

thy power] Lit. thine arm, a word which recalls the memories of a glorious past (Exodus 15:16; Psalm 44:3).

those that are appointed to die] Lit., the sons of death. It is not necessary to understand these expressions literally of prisoners sentenced to execution: more probably they denote the prison and the living death of exile (Isaiah 42:7; Isaiah 49:9; Isaiah 61:1).Verse 11. - Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee; or, the groaning, as in Exodus 2:24. The Babylonians treated their Jewish captives variously. Some, like Daniel and the "Three Children," were favoured, and exalted to high places. But the bulk of them were afflicted and oppressed (see Lamentations 1:3-5; Lamentations 5:18, etc.). But, whether well or ill treated, all sighed to return (comp. Psalm 137:1-6). According to the greatness of thy power preserve thou those that are appointed to die; literally, that are children of death, which may have the meaning assigned to it in our version, or may simply signify, "those whose death is imminent" - who cannot live long now that they are torn from their country. The phrase recurs in Psalm 102:20. Out of the plaintive question how long? and whether endlessly God would be angry and cause His jealousy to continue to burn like a fire (Deuteronomy 32:22), grows up the prayer (Psalm 79:6) that He would turn His anger against the heathen who are estranged from the hostile towards Him, and of whom He is now making use as a rod of anger against His people. The taking over of Psalm 79:6-7 from Jeremiah 10:25 is not betrayed by the looseness of the connection of thought; but in themselves these four lines sound much more original in Jeremiah, and the style is exactly that of this prophet, cf. Jeremiah 6:11; Jeremiah 2:3, and frequently, Psalm 49:20. The אל, instead of על, which follows שׁפך is incorrect; the singular אכל gathers all up as in one mass, as in Isaiah 5:26; Isaiah 17:13. The fact that such power over Israel is given to the heathen world has its ground in the sins of Israel. From Psalm 79:8 it may be inferred that the apostasy which raged earlier is now checked. ראשׁנים is not an adjective (Job 31:28; Isaiah 59:2), which would have been expressed by עונותינו חראשׁנים, but a genitive: the iniquities of the forefathers (Leviticus 26:14, cf. Psalm 39:1-13). On Psalm 79:8 of Judges 6:6. As is evident from Psalm 79:9, the poet does not mean that the present generation, itself guiltless, has to expiate the guilt of the fathers (on the contrary, Deuteronomy 24:16; 2 Kings 14:6; Ezekiel 18:20); he prays as one of those who have turned away from the sins of the fathers, and who can now no longer consider themselves as placed under wrath, but under sin-pardoning and redeeming grace.
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