O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people.
Verses 1-6. - The psalmist exhorts the seed of Abraham (ver. 6) to give thanks to God and call upon his Name (vers. 1-3); to make him known among the Gentiles (ver. 1b); to seek him and his strength (ver. 4); and to bear in mind his marvellous works (ver. 5). The "works" intended are those of his providential government of mankind, and especially those of his rule and government over his people Israel. Verse 1. - O give thanks unto the Lord (comp. Psalm 106:1; Psalm 107:1; Psalm 111:1; Psalm 136:1; Psalm 138:1). Call upon his Name; i.e. call upon him with prayer and praise, "according to his historically manifested glory" (Hengstenberg). Make known his deeds (or, "his doings") among the people; rather, among the peoples; i.e. the heathen nations (comp. Psalm 18:49; Psalm 57:9; Isaiah 12:4).
Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works.
Verse 2. - Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him; or," make melody unto him" (Cheyne); i.e. praise his Name (ver. 1) with song and music. Talk ye of all his wondrous works (comp. Psalm 119:37, 46), Those who are full of gratitude to God for all his mercies that he has vouchsafed them cannot refrain from speaking of his goodness when they converse with others.
Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.
Verse 3. - Glory ye in his holy Name (comp. Psalm 34:2, "My soul shall glory in the Lord'). As worldly men glory in their strength and riches, so the saints of God glory in God. Let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord (comp. Psalm 33:21).
Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore.
Verse 4. - Seek the Lord, and his strength: seek his face evermore. Turn to the Lord, not from him; seek his favour, his support, the light of his countenance.
Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth;
Verse 5. - Remember his marvellous works that he hath done (see ver. 2). These "wondrous works" are apter than anything else to stir up the heart to gratitude and thankfulness to God; and therefore they naturally lead on to the utterance of praise and thanksgiving. His wonders; or, "miracles" - τὰ τέρατα αὐτοῦ, LXX. - such as those touched on in vers. 27-36 and 39-41. And the judgments of his mouth. His sentences upon sinners, as upon the Egyptians (vers. 28, et seqq.) and upon the Canaanites (vers. 11, 44).
O ye seed of Abraham his servant, ye children of Jacob his chosen.
Verse 6. - O ye seed of Abraham his servant; i.e. "his faithful and obedient follower" (see below, ver. 42; and comp. Genesis 26:24; Galatians 3:9). Ye children of Jacob his chosen; rather, his chosen ones. The word is in the plural, and must be referred, not to "Jacob," but to "children."
He is the LORD our God: his judgments are in all the earth.
Verse 7. - He is the Lord our God; rather, he, Jehovah, is our God. The psalmist now commences the praise of Jehovah in his own person, acting as spokesman for his people; and first of all declares his Godhead; next, his universal dominion. His judgments are in all the earth; i.e. "his sentences, decrees, laws, have a universal range, and command the obedience of all men."
He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations.
Verse 8. - He hath remembered his covenant forever. Thirdly, the psalmist praises God's faithfulness. God entered into a covenant with Israel, and that covenant still holds good. He has not forgotten it, and will never forget it. It is the word which he commanded to a thousand generations (comp. Deuteronomy 7:9). Professor Cheyne concludes, from this passage, that the psalm was not written during the Captivity. But surely a captive in Babylon might have had faith enough to believe that God had not abolished, but only suspended, his covenant.
Which covenant he made with Abraham, and his oath unto Isaac;
Verse 9. - Which covenant he made with Abraham (see Genesis 15:18). A promise was given even earlier (Genesis 12:14, 15); but it is not spoken of as a "covenant." And his oath unto Isaac. The "oath" was originally sworn to Abraham (Genesis 22:16); but a further promise to "perform the oath" was given to Isaac (Genesis 26:3).
And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant:
Verse 10. - And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law (see Genesis 28:13). And to Israel; i.e. to Jacob, after he had given him the name of Israel (see Genesis 35:12).
Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance:
Verse 11. - Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan (see Genesis 13:15; Genesis 17:8; Genesis 26:3; Genesis 28:13). The lot of your inheritance; literally, the cord, or line, of your inheritance (comp. Psalm 78:55). The words are not found among the promises made to the patriarchs, but are perhaps regarded by the writer as implied in them. When the allotment of Canaan to the several tribes was made, recourse was doubtless had to the measuring line.
When they were but a few men in number; yea, very few, and strangers in it.
Verse 12. - When they were but a few men in number; literally, when they were men of number; i.e. when they could be easily counted. A few scores at the utmost, or, with their entire households, a few hundreds (Genesis 14:14; Genesis 33:1). Yea, very few, and strangers in it; i.e. "in the land of Canaan" (comp. Exodus 6:4).
When they went from one nation to another, from one kingdom to another people;
Verse 13. - When they went from one nation to another. Abraham "went from" Ur of the Chaldees to Haran of the Syrians, from Haran to Canaan, from Canaan to Philistia, and once as far as Egypt. Isaac and Jacob were also wanderers, though not to the same extent. From one kingdom to another people. Chaldea, Philistia, and Egypt were "kingdoms;" the Syrians and Canaanites, "peoples."
He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes;
Verse 14. - He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes. The reference is to the punishment inflicted on the Pharaoh of Abraham's time (Genesis 12:17), and on Abimelech of Gerar (Genesis 20:3, 7, 18).
Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.
Verse 15. - Saying, Touch not mine anointed; literally, mine anointed ones; i.e. those consecrated to my service, as were Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And do my prophets no harm (comp. Genesis 20:7; Genesis 27:27-29 and 39, 40; 49:3-27). The actual words of this verse do not occur in Genesis, but they express the lesson which God's dealings with Pharaoh and Abimelech taught the kings and peoples.
Moreover he called for a famine upon the land: he brake the whole staff of bread.
Verse 16. - Moreover he called for a famine upon the land. To "call for a famine" is the same thing as to create a famine. What God "calls for" immediately exists (see Genesis 1:3). "The land" intended is the land of Canaan. He brake the whole staff of bread (comp. Leviticus 26:26; Isaiah lit. 1). Bread is called a "staff," as the great support of life. (For the severity of the famine in Canaan, see Genesis 41:1; Genesis 42:5; Genesis 43:1.)
He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant:
Verse 17. - He sent a man before them, even Joseph. This is the real sense, though it is not fully expressed in the Hebrew. On the providential sending of Joseph into Egypt, see his own words, "God did send me before you, to preserve life" (Genesis 45:5). Who was sold for a servant (comp. Genesis 33:28, 36; Genesis 39:1).
Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron:
Verse 18. - Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron; rather, his soul entered into iron. In Genesis nothing more is said than that Joseph "was bound" in the prison (Genesis 40:3). But the psalmist knows what imprisonment was in those early times.
Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him.
Verse 19. - Until the time that his word came; i.e. "came true," "came to pass" (comp. Deuteronomy 18:22; Jeremiah 17:15). Joseph's "word came," when the chief butler was restored to favour, and the chief baker hanged (Genesis 40:20-22). The word of the Lord tried him. It is difficult to decide what "word of the Lord" is meant. Hengstenberg suggests "the promise of the possession of Canaan." But this had not been made to him. Dean Johnson thinks that there is an "implied promise" to Joseph himself in Genesis 37:5, 9, etc. - a promise that he should be raised to an eminent rank above his brethren, and that it was this promise which, during the time of his affliction, "tried" or tested him.
The king sent and loosed him; even the ruler of the people, and let him go free.
Verse 20. - The king sent and loosed him (see Genesis 41:14). Even the ruler of the people. Pharaoh, ruler of the Egyptians. Let him go free; i.e. made him a free man, instead of a prisoner and a slave.
He made him lord of his house, and ruler of all his substance:
Verse 21. - He made him lord of his house, and ruler of all his substance (see Genesis 41:40).
To bind his princes at his pleasure; and teach his senators wisdom.
Verse 22. - To bind his princes at his pleasure. The kings of Egypt were despots, and could imprison any subject. Joseph, as the Pharaoh's alter ego (Genesis 41:40, 44), would, of course, be able to do the same. And teach his senators wisdom. As being wiser than any of them (Genesis 41:38, 39).
Israel also came into Egypt; and Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham.
Verse 23. - Israel also came into Egypt; and Jacob. (For the conjunction of both names of the patriarch, see ver. 10. For the journey of the Patriarch from Canaan into Egypt, see Genesis 46:1-7.) Sojourned in the land of Ham; or, was a sojourner. As a "stranger" and a "sojourner," Jacob charged his sons not to bury him in Egypt, but in the land of Canaan, with his fathers (Genesis 49:29; Genesis 50:5). (For the use of the periphrasis, "land of Ham," instead of Egypt, see below, ver. 27; and comb. Psalm 106:22.)
And he increased his people greatly; and made them stronger than their enemies.
Verse 24. - And he increased his people greatly (comp. Exodus 1:7, 12, 20). And made them stronger than their enemies. So the Pharaoh who introduced the hard bondage, "The people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we" (Exodus 1:9).
He turned their heart to hate his people, to deal subtilly with his servants.
Verse 25. - He turned their heart to hate his people. Not by direct action on their heart, but by prospering Israel until their jealousy was stirred. To deal subtilly with his servants (comp. Exodus 1:10).
He sent Moses his servant; and Aaron whom he had chosen.
Verse 26. - He sent Moses his servant. The mission of Moses is related in Exodus 3:10-18; Exodus 4:1-9. And Aaron whom he had chosen. (For Aaron's mission, see Exodus 4:14-17.)
They shewed his signs among them, and wonders in the land of Ham.
Verse 27. - They showed his signs among them; literally, the matters of his signs; i.e. his long series of signs. Aaron showed the earlier signs generally (Exodus 7:10, 19, 20; Exodus 8:6, 17), Moses the later ones (Exodus 9:10, 23; Exodus 10:13, 22). And wonders in the land of Ham (comp. ver. 23 and Psalm 106:22).
He sent darkness, and made it dark; and they rebelled not against his word.
Verse 28. - He sent darkness, and made it dark (see Exodus 10:21-23). And they rebelled not against his word. If the "not" is to stand in this passage, it must be referred to Moses and Aaron. Professor Cheyne, however, following the Septuagint and Peshito versions, boldly cancels the "not."
He turned their waters into blood, and slew their fish.
Verse 29. - He turned their waters into blood, and slew their fish (comb. Exodus 7:20, 21).
Their land brought forth frogs in abundance, in the chambers of their kings.
Verse 30. - Their land brought forth frogs in abundance (Exodus 8:6). In the chambers of their kings (see Exodus 8:3; and comb. ver. 8).
He spake, and there came divers sorts of flies, and lice in all their coasts.
Verse 31. - He spake, and there came divers sorts of flies. The 'arob is now generally thought to be either the dog fly (κυνόμυια, LXX.) or some sort of beetle (see the comment on Exodus 8:21). And lice in all their coasts; rather, gnats (see on Exodus 8:17).
He gave them hail for rain, and flaming fire in their land.
Verse 32. - He gave them hail for rain (see Exodus 9:23). And flaming fire in their land; i.e. lightning, described in Exodus 9:23 as "fire that ran along upon the ground."
He smote their vines also and their fig trees; and brake the trees of their coasts.
Verse 33. - He smote their vines also and their fig trees. The hail "smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field" (Exodus 9:25; comb. Psalm 78:47). The sceptical objection that Egypt had no vines has long been given up. And brake the trees of their coasts. Hail, though it cannot "break" trees of any size, may do great damage to the leaves and the smaller branches.
He spake, and the locusts came, and caterpillers, and that without number,
Verse 34. - He spake, and the locusts came (see Exodus 10:13, 14). And caterpillars. Either a kind of locust, or the locust at one period of its growth. Not mentioned in Exodus. And that without number (see Exodus 10:14, 15).
And did eat up all the herbs in their land, and devoured the fruit of their ground.
Verse 35. - And did eat up all the herbs in their land, and devoured the fruit of their ground (comp. Exodus 10:15, "They [i.e. the locusts] did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left").
He smote also all the firstborn in their land, the chief of all their strength.
Verse 36. - He smote also all the firstborn in their land (see Exodus 12:29). The chief of all their strength (comp. Psalm 78:51).
He brought them forth also with silver and gold: and there was not one feeble person among their tribes.
Verse 37. - He brought them forth also with silver and gold (Exodus 12:35, 36; comp. 3:21, 22). And there was not one feeble person among their tribes; literally, there was not one that stumbled among their tribes, or among his tribes. Probably there were many feeble persons, who were carried on beasts of burden, or in carts, or by their friends. But all those who walked had strength given to them, and did not stumble by the way (comp. Isaiah 5:27).
Egypt was glad when they departed: for the fear of them fell upon them.
Verse 38. - Egypt was glad when they departed (see Exodus 11:1, 8; Exodus 12:31, 33). For the fear of them fell upon them. The Egyptians "were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men" (Exodus 12:33).
He spread a cloud for a covering; and fire to give light in the night.
Verse 39. - He spread a cloud for a covering. The "pillar of the cloud" is intended. It was a "covering" to the Israelites on the night of the passage of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:19, 20), and perhaps also to some extent in the wilderness, when it may have sheltered them from the sun's rays (Hengstenberg); but its main purpose was to direct them on their way (Exodus 14:21), to tell them when to move and when to step, and how long to stop (Exodus 40:36-38). And fire to give light in the night. By night the "pillar of the cloud" became a "pillar of fire," shedding a certain radiance around, and giving the people under all circumstances sufficient light (Exodus 13:21; Exodus 40:38).
The people asked, and he brought quails, and satisfied them with the bread of heaven.
Verse 40. - The people asked, and he brought quails; literally, they asked (comp. Exodus 16:3, 13; Numbers 11:31). And satisfied them with the bread of heaven. The "bread of heaven" is the manna, which was given to the Israelites continuously from their first encampment in the wilderness of Sin (Exodus 16:14, 15) to their first Passover in Canaan (Joshua 5:12). The quails seem to have been given only twice.
He opened the rock, and the waters gushed out; they ran in the dry places like a river.
Verse 41. - He opened the rock, and the waters gushed out (see Exodus 17:5, 6, and Numbers 20:8-11). They ran in the dry places like a river. A poetical exaggeration of Numbers 20:11, "The water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also."
For he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham his servant.
Verse 42. - For he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham; i.e. his covenant with Abraham to bring his seed into the Holy Land. His servant (comp. ver. 6).
And he brought forth his people with joy, and his chosen with gladness:
Verse 43. - And brought forth his people with joy, and his chosen with gladness. The "bringing forth" intended is that of the Israelites from the wilderness into Canaan. It was naturally attended with much "joy" and "gladness."
And gave them the lands of the heathen: and they inherited the labour of the people;
Verse 44. - And gave them the lands of the heathen (see Joshua 8-12.). And they inherited the labour of the people; rather, of the peoples (comp. Deuteronomy 6:10, 11).
That they might observe his statutes, and keep his laws. Praise ye the LORD.
Verse 45. - That they might observe his statutes, and keep his laws. This was God's purpose. How far Israel was from carrying it out appears from the historical books generally, and perhaps still more from the writings of the prophets (see 2 Kings 17:7-23; 2 Chronicles 36:14-17; Isaiah 1:2-23; Jeremiah 2:5-37; Hosea 4:1-18, etc.). Praise ye the Lord (comp. Psalm 104:35; Psalm 106:1, 48; Psalm 111:1; Psalm 112:1; Psalm 113:1, etc.).