Psalm 79:2
The dead bodies of your servants have they given to be meat to the fowls of the heaven, the flesh of your saints to the beasts of the earth.
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(2) In addition to references in Margin see Deuteronomy 28:26.

Saints.—Heb., chasîdîm. (See Note, Psalm 16:10.) Here with definite allusion to the Assdœans of 1 Maccabees 7.

Psalm 79:2-3. The dead bodies of thy servants — Either, 1st, Of thy faithful and holy servants, whom they used as cruelly as the worst of the people. Or, 2d, Of the Jews in general, whom, though most of them were wicked, he calls God’s servants and saints, because they were such by profession; and some of them were really such; and the Chaldeans neither knew nor regarded those that were so, but promiscuously destroyed all that came in their way; have they given to be meat to the fowls, &c. — By casting them out, like dung upon the earth, and not suffering any to bury them. This is the fourth of those calamities which are bewailed in this Psalm: and a dreadful one it is. For “to behold, or even imagine,” as Dr. Horne observes, “the heaps of slaughtered bodies lying unburied, and exposed to birds and beasts of prey, is inexpressibly shocking to humanity.” Their blood they shed like water — Plentifully and contemptuously, valuing it no more than common water; and there was none to bury them — Because their friends, who should have done it, were either slain or fled, or were not permitted, or durst not undertake to perform that office to them. 79:1-5 God is complained to: whither should children go but to a Father able and willing to help them? See what a change sin made in the holy city, when the heathen were suffered to pour in upon them. God's own people defiled it by their sins, therefore he suffered their enemies to defile it by their insolence. They desired that God would be reconciled. Those who desire God's favour as better than life, cannot but dread his wrath as worse than death. In every affliction we should first beseech the Lord to cleanse away the guilt of our sins; then he will visit us with his tender mercies.The dead bodies of thy servants ... - They have slain them, and left them unburied. See 2 Chronicles 36:17. This is a description of widespread carnage and slaughter, such as we know occurred at the time when Jerusalem was taken by the Chaldeans. At such a time, it is not probable that the Chaldeans would pause to bury the slain, nor is it probable that they would give opportunity to the captive Hebrews to remain to bury them. That would occur, therefore, which often occurs in war, that the slain would be left on the field to be devoured by wild animals and by the fowls of heaven. 2, 3. (Compare Jer 15:3; 16:4). Of thy servants; either,

1. Of thy faithful and holy servants, whom they used as cruelly as the worst of the people. Or,

2. Of the Jews, whom, though the generality of them were very wicked, he calleth God’s servants and saints, because they were all such by profession, and some of them were really such; and the Chaldeans did never know nor regard those that were so, but promiscuously destroyed all that came in their way. Given to be meat unto the fowls of heaven, by casting them out like dung upon the face of the earth, and not suffering any to bury them. The dead bodies of thy servants have they given to be meat unto the fowls of the heaven,.... For such there were, both at the time of the Babylonish captivity, and in the times of Antiochus, who were good men, and served the Lord, and yet suffered in the common calamity. Nicanor, a general of Demetrius, in the time of the Maccabees, seems to have been guilty of such a fact as this, since, when he was slain, his tongue was given in pieces to the fowls, and the reward of his madness was hung up before the temple, as in the Apocrypha:

"And when he had cut out the tongue of that ungodly Nicanor, he commanded that they should give it by pieces unto the fowls, and hang up the reward of his madness before the temple.'' (2 Maccabees 15:33)

the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth; this clause and the following verse are applied to a case in the times of the Maccabees, when sixty men of the Assideans were slain, religious, devout, and holy men, so called from the very word here translated "saints";

"Now the Assideans were the first among the children of Israel that sought peace of them:'' (1 Maccabees 7:13)

"The flesh of thy saints have they cast out, and their blood have they shed round about Jerusalem, and there was none to bury them.'' (1 Maccabees 7:17)

The {b} dead bodies of thy servants have they given to be meat unto the fowls of the heaven, the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth.

(b) The prophets show to what extremities God sometimes allows his Church to fall to exercise their faith, before he sets his hand to deliver them.

2. The horrors of a remorseless slaughter were aggravated by the disgrace of the corpses being left unburied, in accordance with the threats of the law (Deuteronomy 28:26) and prophets (Jeremiah 7:33; Jeremiah 8:2; Jeremiah 9:22; Jeremiah 15:3; Jeremiah 16:4; Jeremiah 19:7).

thy servants … thy saints] These titles are not meant to plead Israel’s merits, but Israel’s relationship to God in virtue of His covenant with them (Psalm 74:20; Psalm 50:5).Verse 2. - The dead bodies of thy servants have they given to Be meat unto the fowls of the heaven. A common incident of warfare (see the Assyrian sculptures, passim). The flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth; or, of the land. Hyaenas and jackals would dispute the flesh of the slain with vultures and crows. The rejection of Shiloh and of the people worshipping there, but later on, when the God of Israel is again overwhelmed by compassion, the election of Judah, and of Mount Zion, and of David, the king after His own heart. In the time of the Judges the Tabernacle was set up in Shiloh (Joshua 18:1); there, consequently, was the central sanctuary of the whole people, - in the time of Eli and Samuel, as follows from 1 Samuel 1:1, it had become a fixed temple building. When this building was destroyed is not known; according to Judges 18:30., cf. Jeremiah 7:12-15, it was probably not until the Assyrian period. The rejection of Shiloh, however, preceded the destruction, and practically took place simultaneously with the removal of the central sanctuary to Zion; and was, moreover, even previously decided by the fact that the Ark of the covenant, when given up again by the Philistines, was not brought back to Shiloh, but set down in Kirjath Jearm (1 Samuel 7:2). The attributive clause שׁכּן בּאדם uses שׁכּן as השׁכּין is used in Joshua 18:1. The pointing is correct, for the words to not suffice to signify "where He dwelleth among men" (Hitzig); consequently שׁכּן is the causative of the Kal, Leviticus 16:16; Joshua 22:19. In Psalm 78:61 the Ark of the covenant is called the might and glory of God (ארון עזּו, Psalm 132:8, cf. כבוד, 1 Samuel 4:21.), as being the place of their presence in Israel and the medium of their revelation. Nevertheless, in the battle with the Philistines between Eben-ezer and Aphek, Jahve gave the Ark, which they had fetched out of Shiloh, into the hands of the foe in order to visit on the high-priesthood of the sons of Ithamar the desecration of His ordinances, and there fell in that battle 30,000 footmen, and among them the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests (1 Samuel 4). The fire in Psalm 78:63 is the fire of war, as in Numbers 21:28, and frequently. The incident mentioned in 1 Samuel 6:19 is reasonably (vid., Keil) left out of consideration. By לא הוּלּלוּ (lxx erroneously, οὐκ ἐπένθησαν equals הוללוּ equals הילילוּ) are meant the marriage-songs (cf. Talmudic הלּוּלא, the nuptial tent, and בּית הלוּלים the marriage-house). "Its widows (of the people, in fact, of the slain) weep not" (word for word as in Job 27:15) is meant of the celebration of the customary ceremony of mourning (Genesis 23:2): they survive their husbands (which, with the exception of such a case as that recorded in 1 Samuel 14:19-22, is presupposed), but without being able to show them the last signs of honour, because the terrors of the war (Jeremiah 15:8) prevent them.

With Psalm 78:65 the song takes a new turn. After the punitive judgment has sifted and purified Israel, God receives His people to Himself afresh, but in such a manner that He transfers the precedence of Ephraim to the tribe of Judah. He awakes as it were from a long sleep (Psalm 44:24, cf. Psalm 73:20); for He seemed to sleep whilst Israel had become a servant to the heathen; He aroused Himself, like a hero exulting by reason of wine, i.e., like a hero whose courage is heightened by the strengthening and exhilarating influence of wine (Hengstenberg). התרונן is not the Hithpal. of רוּן in the Arabic signification, which is alien to the Hebrew, to conquer, a meaning which we do not need here, and which is also not adapted to the reflexive form (Hitzig, without any precedent, renders thus: who allows himself to be conquered by wine), but Hithpo. of רנן: to shout most heartily, after the analogy of the reflexives התאונן, התנודד, התרועע. The most recent defeat of the enemy which the poet has before his mind is that of the Philistines. The form of expression in Psalm 78:66 is moulded after 1 Samuel 5:6. God smote the Philistines most literally in posteriora (lxx, Vulgate, and Luther). Nevertheless Psalm 78:66 embraces all the victories under Samuel, Saul, and David, from 1 Samuel 5:1-12 and onwards. Now, when they were able to bring the Ark, which had been brought down to the battle against the Philistines, to a settled resting-place again, God no longer chose Shiloh of Ephraim, but Judah and the mountain of Zion, which He had loved (Psalm 47:5), of Benjamitish-Judaean (Joshua 15:63; Judges 1:8, Judges 1:21) - but according to the promise (Deuteronomy 33:12) and according to the distribution of the country (vid., on Psalm 68:28) Benjamitish - Jerusalem.

(Note: According to B. Menachoth 53b, Jedidiah (Solomon, 2 Samuel 12:25) built the Temple in the province of Jedidiah (of Benjamin, Deuteronomy 33:12).)

There God built His Temple כּמו־רמים. Hitzig proposes instead of this to read כּמרומים; but if נעימים, Psalm 16:6, signifies amaena, then רמים may signify excelsa (cf. Isaiah 45:2 הדוּרים, Jeremiah 17:6 חררים) and be poetically equivalent to מרומים: lasting as the heights of heaven, firm as the earth, which He hath founded for ever. Since the eternal duration of heaven and of the earth is quite consistent with a radical change in the manner of its duration, and that not less in the sense of the Old Testament than of the New (vid., e.g., Isaiah 65:17), so the לעולם applies not to the stone building, but rather to the place where Jahve reveals Himself, and to the promise that He will have such a dwelling-place in Israel, and in fact in Judah. Regarded spiritually, i.e., essentially, apart from the accidental mode of appearing, the Temple upon Zion is as eternal as the kingship upon Zion with which the Psalm closes. The election of David gives its impress to the history of salvation even on into eternity. It is genuinely Asaphic that it is so designedly portrayed how the shepherd of the flock of Jesse (Isai) became the shepherd of the flock of Jahve, who was not to pasture old and young in Israel with the same care and tenderness as the ewe-lambs after which he went (עלות as in Genesis 33:13, and רעה ב, cf. 1 Samuel 16:11; 1 Samuel 17:34, like משׁל בּ and the like). The poet is also able already to glory that he has fulfilled this vocation with a pure heart and with an intelligent mastery. And with this he closes.

From the decease of David lyric and prophecy are retrospectively and prospectively turned towards David.

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