<> O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance; thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps.
Verse 1. - O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance (comp. Psalm 74:2; Psalm 78:62). Israel - alike the people and the land - is "God's inheritance." Thy holy temple have they defiled. The Babylonians defiled the temple by breaking into it, seizing its treasures and ornaments (Jeremiah 52:17-23), and finally setting fire to it (Jeremiah 52:13). They have laid Jerusalem on heaps. This was certainly not done either by Shishak or by Antiochus Epiphanes; but was done, as prophesied (Jeremiah 9:11; Jeremiah 26:18; Micah 3:12), by the Babylonians.
The 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.
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.
Their blood have they shed like water round about Jerusalem; and there was none to bury them.
Verse 3. - Their blood have they shed like water round about Jerusalem. During the long siege (eighteen months) the number slain in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem would be very large. And there was none to bury them (compare the prophecy of Jeremiah, Jeremiah 14:16). The population being for the most part carried into captivity, and but few left in the land (Jeremiah 52:15, 16), the bodies of the slain lay unburied, the few left not being able to bury them. Compare the preceding verse.
We are become a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and derision to them that are round about us.
Verse 4. - We are become a reproach to our neighbours (comp. Psalm 44:13; Lamentations 2:15; Lamentations 5:1. The "neighbours" intended are the nations in the vicinity of the Holy Land - the Syrians, Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, etc. Their attitude towards Israel under the circumstances may be gathered from what is related of the Edomites in Psalm 137:7. A scorn and derision to them that are round about us. It was not so much the "reproaches" of their enemies that vexed and grieved Israel, as the jeers and scoffs which they heard on every side (comp. Lamentations 1:7, 20; Lamentations 2:15; Lamentations 3:62, 63).
How long, LORD? wilt thou be angry for ever? shall thy jealousy burn like fire?
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).
Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name.
Verse 6. - Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee. It is not the heathen that had never heard of God who are intended, but those who, having heard of him, had refused to "know" him (comp. Exodus 5:2), as was the case with all the nations round about Canaan. And upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy Name. Now that we are punished, go on to punish those who have persecuted us, and who are at least as guilty as ourselves. "The prayer rests," as Hengstenberg remarks, "upon what God does constantly. Judgment begins at the house of God; but it proceeds thence to those whom God has employed as the instrument of his punishment. The storm of the wrath of God always remains to fall at last upon the world at enmity with his Church."
For they have devoured Jacob, and laid waste his dwelling place.
Verse 7. - For they have devoured Jacob, and laid waste his dwelling place. This and the preceding verso occur also, almost word for word, in Jeremiah 10:25. It is difficult to say which writer has quoted from the other.
O remember not against us former iniquities: let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us: for we are brought very low.
Verse 8. - O remember not against us former iniquities; or, the iniquities of our forefathers (so Professor Cheyne and the Revised Version); comp. Leviticus 26:45, "I will remember to them the covenant of their ancestors" - where the same word (רִאשֹׁגִים) is used. Let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us; or, come to meet us (Kay, Cheyne). For we are brought very low (comp. Psalm 111:6; Psalm 142:6).
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.
Verse 9. - Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy Name. The calamities suffered have not extinguished all faith or hope. God is still the God of Israel's salvation, i.e. the God from whom alone salvation can be obtained and may be expected. He is entreated to come to Israel's aid, not for their sakes, as they are wholly undeserving, but for his own glory (comp. Exodus 32:12; Numbers 14:13; Deuteronomy 9:28; and Exodus 32:27). And deliver us, and purge away our sins; literally, make atonement for our sins (Exodus 30:15); i.e. "cancel them" (Cheyne), or "forgive them" (Hengstenberg, Kay). For thy Name's sake (comp. Psalm 23:3; Psalm 25:11; Psalm 34:3; Ezekiel 36:22).
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.
Verse 10. - Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is their God? (so Joel 2:17). A triumph over a foreign nation was always regarded in the ancient world as a triumph over their gods. Their gods were bound to protect them, and, if they did not, must either have been absent or powerless (comp. 2 Kings 18:33-35; 2 Kings 19:12). Let him be known among the heathen in our sight by the revenging of the blood of thy servants which is shed; rather, let there be shown forth among the heathen in our sight vengeance for the blood of thy servants that has been shed; or, in other words, "Let an evident judgment, visible to us, fall upon the heathen who have shed the blood of our brethren, thy true servants." An immediate judgment is prayed for; but it did not please God to send the judgment till after the expiration of a long term of years.
Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee; according to the greatness of thy power preserve thou those that are appointed to die;
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.
And render unto our neighbours sevenfold into their bosom their reproach, wherewith they have reproached thee, O Lord.
Verse 12. - And render unto our neighbours sevenfold into their bosom their reproach, wherewith they have reproached thee, O Lord. (For the "reproach" intended, see ver. 10.) The whole passage means, "Punish them seven times as much as thou hast punished us." Then their reproach will be seven times as great.
So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will shew forth thy praise to all generations.
Verse 13. - So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture (see Psalm 74:1; and comp. Psalm 78:52). Will give thee thanks forever. When thou hast punished our enemies, and delivered us, we will give thee thanks perpetually, and show forth thy praise to all generations. An instance of identical parallelism.