Psalm 79:5
How long, LORD? wilt thou be angry for ever? shall thy jealousy burn like fire?
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(5) How long, Lord?—The dominant cry of the Maccabæan age. (See Psalm 74:9.)

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.How long, Lord? - See Psalm 74:1, note; Psalm 74:10, note; and Psalm 77:7-9, notes. This is the language, not of impatience, but of anxiety; not of complaining, but of wonder. It is language such as the people of God are often constrained to employ under heavy trials - trials which continue so long that it seems as if they would never end.

Shall thy jealousy, burn like fire? - That is, Shall it continue to burn like fire? Shall it utterly consume us? On the word jealousy, see the notes at Psalm 78:58.

5. How long—(Ps 13:1).

be angry—(Ps 74:1-10).

jealousy burn—(De 29:20).

5 How long, Lord? wilt thou be angry for ever? shall thy jealousy burn like fire?

6 Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name.

7 For they have devoured Jacob, and laid waste his dwelling place.

8 O remember not against us former iniquities: let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us: for we are brought very low.

9 Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name's sake.

10 Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is their God? let him be known among the heathen in our sight by the revenging of the blood of thy servants which is shed.

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

12 And render unto our neighbours sevenfold into their bosom their reproach, wherewith they have reproached thee, O Lord.

Psalm 79:5

"How long, Lord?" Will there be no end to these chastisements? They are most sharp and overwhelming; wilt thou much longer continue them? "Wilt thou be angry for ever?" Is thy mercy gone so that thou wilt for ever smite? "Shall thy jealousy burn like fire?" There was great cause for the Lord to be jealous, since idols had been set up, and Israel had gone aside from his worship, but the Psalmist begs the Lord not to consume his people utterly as with fire, but to abate their woes.

Psalm 79:6

"Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee." If thou must smite look further afield; spare thy children and strike thy foes. There are lands where thou art in no measure acknowledged; be pleased to visit these first with thy judgments, and let thine erring Israel have a respite. "And upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name." Hear us the prayerful, and avenge thyself upon the prayerless. Sometimes providence appears to deal much more severely with the righteous than with the wicked, and this verse is a bold appeal founded upon such an appearance. It in effect says - Lord, if thou must empty out the vials of thy wrath, begin with those who have no measure of regard for thee, but are openly up in arms against thee; and be pleased to spare thy people, who are thine notwithstanding all their sins.

Psalm 79:7

"For they have devoured Jacob." The oppressor would quite eat up the saints if he could. If these lions do not swallow us, it is because the Lord has sent his angel and shut the lions' mouths. "And laid waste his dwelling place," or his pasture. The invader left no food for man or beast, but devoured all as the locust. The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.


No text from Poole on this verse.

How long, Lord, wilt thou be angry? for ever?.... That is, how long wilt thou be angry? shall it be for ever? see Psalm 85:4, for though what was done, or to be done, as before related, was or will be done by the enemies of the Lord's people, yet by his permission, and as a token of his anger and displeasure against them: at least it might be so understood, both by them and by their enemies; and hence this expostulation,

shall thy jealousy burn like fire? so jealousy does; its coals are coals of fire, Sol 8:6, there were, at the times referred to, such among the people, who did evil things, and provoked the Lord to jealousy and wrath: see the Apocrypha:

"And there was very great wrath upon Israel.'' (1 Maccabees 1:64)

"When this was done, and they had made a common supplication, they besought the merciful Lord to be reconciled with his servants for ever.'' (2 Maccabees 8:29)

How long, LORD? wilt thou be angry for ever? shall thy jealousy {e} burn like fire?

(e) Will you completely consume us for our sins, before you take us to mercy?

5. How long, Jehovah, wilt thou be angry for ever?

(How long) shall thy jealousy burn like fire?

As in Psalm 13:1, faith combines two questions into a self-contradictory expression. How long and for ever are characteristic words of Psalms 74 (Psalm 74:1; Psalm 74:10; Psalm 74:19). Cp. Psalm 80:4; Psalm 89:46.

Shall thy jealousy burn like fire] “Jehovah thy God is a devouring fire, a jealous God” (Deuteronomy 4:24). He cannot endure a divided allegiance, and must punish Israel for its sin. Cp. Deuteronomy 29:20; Zephaniah 1:18.

5–8. Prayer that God will cease to be angry with His own people and will punish their destroyers.

Verse 5. - How long, Lord? i.e. "How long, O Lord, is this condition of things to endure?" (comp. Psalm 6:5; Psalm 90:13; Revelation 6:10). An ellipse after "how long?" is common. Wilt thou be angry forever? (see Psalm 13:1; Psalm 74:12; Lamentations 5:20). Shall thy jealousy burn like fire? It was their worship of other gods that God especially visited on his people by the Babylonish captivity (see Jeremiah, passim). Psalm 79:5Out 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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