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A commentary on the book of Psalms (Volume 2) online

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move the rod, when it has answered the end pro-

" 66. And he smote his enemies in the hinder
parts ; he put them to a perpetual reproach."

The former clause of this verse may be rendered,
'^ And he repulsed, or drove his enemies back;" as
Psalm ix. 3. " When mine enemies are turned
back;" the Hebrew word being the same, in both
places. But as that part of the sacred history is
here alluded to, in which the Philistines are said to
have been plagued with " emerods," or " hemor-
rhoids," while the ark was amongst them, the pas-
sage is generally rendered, as in our translation, and
supposed to intend that particular plague. This
much, however, is certain, that Dagon fell before
the ark, which his worshippers were glad to send
back, w.*-^ acknowledgments of the vengeance in-
flicted on lem by the superior power of the GTod
of Israel, who could punish where, and when, and
liow he pleased. See 1 Sam. v. vi. ^

" 67. Moreover, he refused the tabernacle, of
Joseph, and chose not the tribe of Ephraim; 68.

Ps. 78.] ^29

But chose the tribe of Judah, the Mount Sion
which he loved. 69. And he built his sanctuary
like high palaces, like the earth which he hath es-
tablished for ever.'*

The ark, after its return, went no more to Shiloh,
which was in the tribe of Ephraim, the son of Jo-
seph, but was brought first to Kiriathaim, 1 Sam.
vi. 21. a city of the tribe of Judah, and from thence,
aftei? a short stay at the house of Obed Edom, to
Mount Sion, 1 Chron. xiv. and xv. which was the
chosen and highly-favoured mount : where was af-
terwards erected, by Solomon, a magnificent and
permanent habitation for the God of Jacob, during
the continuance of the old dispensation ; a resem-
blance of that eternal temple, in which all the ful-
ness of the Godhead hath since dwelt bodily. The
divine presence removed at this time to the tribe of
Judah, because out of that tribe, after the rejection
of Saul, came the great representative, as well as
progenitor, of King Messiah.

" 70. He chose David also his serv^t, and took
him from the sheepfolds. 71. From following the
ewes great with young, he brought him to feed
Jacob his people, and Israel his inhefitatite. 72.
So he fed them according to the integv'* of his
heart, and guided them by the skilf of his


The call of David, .pfold to a throne

teacheth us, th?*' ^wed himself faith-

ful in s worthy of promo-

r. '^noitant cares; that the

uue discharge of high

230 [Ps. 79.

offices, are best learned at first in an inferior station,
especially if it be one that will inure to labour and
viffilance ; and that kings are to consider themselves
as " shepherds ;" which consideration would per-
haps teach them their duty better than all the pre-
cepts in the world. From the last verse, relative
to David's manner of conducting himself after his
advancement, we learn, that integrity and discretion,
when they meet in the same person, form a complete
Ruler, and one fit to represent that blessed person,
who entered, like his father David, through sufier-
ings into his glory; who governeth his church in
wisdom and righteousness; and of whom it is said,
by the evangeUcal prophet, " He shall feed his flock
like a shepherd, he shall gather the lambs with his
arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently
lead those that are with young.'* Isa. xl. 11.


Sixteenth Day. — Morning Prayer,

ARGUMENT. — The argument of this Psalm is nearly the same
with that of the Ixxivth. The church, persecuted and afflicted,
sets forth, 1 — 3. the sacrilegious devastation, and cruel slaugh-
ter, made by the enemy, with, 4'. the reproach occasioned
thereby ; 5—7. she prayeth for redress and deliverance ; 8, 9.
confesseth, and entreateth forgiveness of the sins, which had
brought these calamities upon her ; and then, 10 — 12. asketh
a removal of her reproach and misery; promising, 13. endless
gratitude and praise for the same. We meet with passages of
this Psalm, Jer. x. 25. 1 Mace. vii. 17. but when it was com-
posed, is not known.

" 1. O God, the heathen are come into thine in-
heritance, thy holy temple have they defiled : they
have laid Jerusalem on heaps,'*

Ps. 79.]


Three deplorable calamities are here enumerated
by the faithful; the alienation of God's inheritance,
the profanation of the sanctuary, and the desolation
of the beloved city. When we represent, in our
prayers, the sufferings and humiliation of the church,
we take an effectual method of awakening the com-
passion, and recalling the favour of heaven. Every
redeemed soul is the inheritance, the temple, the
city of God. When sin enters, and takes posses-
sion, the inheritance is alienated, the temple defiled,
and the city desolated.

" 2. The dead bodies of thy servants have they
given to he meat unto the fowls of heaven, the flesh
of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth. 3. Their
blood have they shed like water round about Je-
rusalem : and there was none to bury t/iem"

That horrible carnage, which attends the siege
and capture of a city, is the fourth of those calami-
ties, bewailed in our Psalm. To behold, or even to
imagine, heaps of slaughtered bodies lying unburied,
and exposed to birds and beasts of prey, is inexpres-
sibly shocking to humanity. But with what uncon-
cern are we accustomed to view, on all sides of us,
multitudes " dead in trespasses and sins,'* torn in
pieces, and devoured by wild passions, filthy lusts,
and infernal spirits, those dogs and vultures of the
moral world? Yet to a discerning eye, and a think-
ing mind, the latter is by far the more melancholy
siffht of the two.


" 4. We are become a reproach to our neigh-
bours : a scorn and derision to them that are round

about us."


232 [Ps. 79.

A fifth calamity, incident to an afflicted church,
is to become, like captive Israel, the " scorn and
derision" of infidels, who fail not, at such seasons,
to reproach her, and blaspheme her God. We
know how to answer those, who reproach us with
our sufferings, for so their predecessors reproached
our Master ; but what shall we say, if we have giv-
en the enemy occasion to reproach us with our sins?
The only real disgrace of religion is the wickedness
of its professors.

" 5. How long. Lord? Wilt thou be angry
for ever? Shall thy jealousy burn like fire ?'*

Parched, and exhausted, amidst the flames of
persecution, we behold Sion panting for the comforts
of redem.ption. The extent and continuance of her
troubles cause her to fear a total extermination ; and
by the questions here asked, she tacitly reminds
God of his promises not to give her up, and destroy
her " for ever," on account of Messias, whom she
was, in the fulness of time, to bring forth.

'' 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."

This, though uttered in the form of a wish, or.
prayer, is to be considered, like many other passages
of the same nature, as a prediction of what would
afterwards come to pass. Pagan ambition and
cruelty were often employed to chastise offending
Israel; but were themselves, notwithstanding, justly
punished in their turn, by other powers raised up

Ps. 79.]


for that end. That relation in which the church
stands to God, causes him, upon her repentance, to
appear in her behalf, and to execute vengeance on
her oppressors, who " know him not, nor call upon
his name." " We are thine," saith Isaiah, "thou
never bearest rule over them, they were not called by
thy name:" Ixiii. 19. The church, for her sins, may
deserve to suffer; but her enemies are not therefore
without guilt, nor will they escape without punish-

*' 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."

Affliction hath then wrought its intended effect,
when it hath convinced us of sin, and led us to
repentance; when brought back by it, like the re-
turning prodigal, to the house and presence of our
heavenly Father, we acknowledge our guilt as the
cause of our misery, and entreat forgiveness of the
one, in order to obtain a release from the other; not
pleading our o^vn merits, but the mercies of God
our Saviour, and the glory of his name.

*' 10. Wherefore should the heathen say. Where
is their God ? let him be known among the heathen
in our sight, bi/ the revenging of the blood of thy
servants which is shed; or, let the vengeance of thy
servants' blood that is shed, be known among the
heathen that is in our sight."

It is for " the glory of God's name" to deliver

2S4f [Ps. 79.

his church ; hecause, while she is in trouble, that
name is blasphemed by the enemy, as if he wanted
either power or will, to prevent or remove the calami-
ties of his servants. Prayer is therefore here
made by the faithful, that God, not to gratify any
vindictive spirit of theirs, but to vindicate his own
attributes, would break the teeth of the oppressor,
and work a public and glorious salvation for his
chosen; at beholding which, the very adversaries
themselves might possibly be converted,

" 11. Let the sighing of the prisoner come be-
fore thee : according to the greatness of thy power,
preserve thou those that are appointed to die."

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. The Christian, though he
may at present be subject to none of these external
calamities, forgets not that he is often persecuted,
and led captive by his own desires, and bound in the
chains of his sins; that the world to him is a prison;
that sentence of death is passed upon him, and he
knoweth not how soon that sentence may be exe-
cuted. How properly, therefore, and how fervently
may he, at all times pray, " O 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."

Ps. 79.]


That is, As they have reproached thee with weak-
ness, 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 presump-
tuously offended; according as it written, " Them
that honour me, I will honour; and they that de-
spise me, shall be lightly esteemed." 1 Sam. ii. 30.
And, however diflPerent the appearance of things may
now be, this will certainly be found true, in every
instance, at the last day.

" 13. So we thy people, and sheep of thy pas-
ture, will give thee thanks for ever: we will show
forth thy praise to all generations."

Such is the resolution of a church, under perse-
cution; and such ought to be the practice of every
church when delivered out of it, and restored to the
favour and protection of her God. The same is the
duty of every soul, with regard to afflictions and
mercies of a private kind. But how glorious will be
the day, when triumphant over sin and sorrow, over
every thing that exalteth and opposeth itself, the
church universal shall behold the adversary dis-
armed for ever; while she herself, placed in pastures
of joy, and led to the waters of eternal comfort,
shall, from age to age, incessantly sing the praises
of her great Shepherd and Bishop, her King and
her God!

236 [Ps. 80.


ARGUMENT.— The church, still in captivity, 1 — 3. crieth
unto God for help and redemption ; 4 — 7. complaineth of her
grievous afflictions ; 8 — 13. describeth her former exaltation,
and present depression, under the beautiful figure of a Vine ;
14 — 16. retumeth again to her supplications, and 17 — 19.
prayeth for the advent of Messiah, to quicken and comfort her,
vowing all loyal obedience, adoration, and praise to him, as the
author of her salvation.

" 1. Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that
leadest Joseph like a flock ; thou that- dweliest be-
tween the cherubims, shine forth."

The Christian church is now become the " Israel"
of God : Jesus Christ is the " Shepherd" .of this
Israel, who leadeth his people " like a flock;" he
dw^lleth in the midst of them by his Spirit, as of
old he dwelt in the holy places, " between tlie che-
rubims." Let us beseech him to hearken to our
prayers, and to manifest the glory of his power, in
our defence and deliverance.

*' 2. Before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh,
stir up thy strength, and come aiid save us."

God is entreated to go forth, in his strength and
his salvation, before the tribes of Israel, as formerly
in the wilderness. Ephraim, Benjamin, and Ma^^
nasseh, are particularly mentioned, perhaps because,
according to the established order, those three
tribes immediately followed the ark and cherubim,
the symbols of the divine presence. See Num. ii. 18.

Ps.80.] 237

*' 3. Turn, or, restore us again, O God, and cause
thy face to shine; and we shall be saved."

This verse is a kind of chorus, occurring three
times in the course of our Psalm. It implies, that
the church is in captivity, from which she prayeth
to be " restored" to her former freedom and pros-
perity: that she expecteth such restoration, not
from any might or merit of her own, but from the
grace and mercy of her Saviour; as well knowing,
that her night can be turned into day, and her
winter give place to spring, only by the sun of righ-
teousness rising, and causing his face to shine upon
her desolations. This ought, therefore, to be the
wish and the prayer of every persecuted church, and
of every afflicted soul.

'' 4. O Lord God of hosts, how long wilt thou
be angry against the prayer of thy people?"

The sins of a people may for a time " separate
between them and their God, and hide his face from
them that he^will not hear;" Isaiah lix. 2. he may
" cover himself with a cloud, that their prayers
should not pass through ;" Lam. iii. 44. and seem
to reject even the devotions of his distressed ser-
vants, while he is proving the strength of their faith,
and the sincerity of their repentance. But if the
former be strong, and the latter sincere, they will
continue to ask, till they have obtained; nor cease
to knock, till the door be opened.

" 5. Thou feedest them with the bread of tears,
or, of weeping; and givest them tears to drink in
great measure."



[Ps. 80.

There cannot be a more striking picture of Sion
in captivity ! Her bread is dipped in tears, and her
cup is filled to the brim with them : no time is free
from grief and lamentation. They who sin, must
submit to penance; which if a man doth not impose
on himself, God will impose it on him: whereas, if
we judged ourselves, we should not be thus judged
of the Lord. The church hath appointed seasons,
and given directions for this purpose; but who ob-
serves either the one, or the other?

** 6. Thou makest us a strife unto our neigh-
bours ; and our enemies laugh among themselves.'*

Israel, when forsaken by her God, was a prey,
for which all the neighbouring nations contended,
exulting over her, and scoffing at that condition, to
which, not their counsels, or armies, but her own
iniquities, had reduced her. Hence let us learn,
how to form a just estimate of the real state both of
communities and individuals. Righteousness alone
exalteth man; sin is his reproach, and will be his

*' 7. Turn us again, O God of hosts, and cause
thy face to shine, and we shall be saved. See
above, ver. 3. 8. Thou hast brought a vine out of
Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted

God is reminded of the favour once shown by
him to the church of Israel, and of that prosperity
which she once enjoyed. She is compared to a
" vine," removed, from the unkindly soil of Egypt,
to the happier regions of Canaan, and there plant-

Ps. 80.] 239

ed by Jehovah, in the place of nations extirpated
for their unfruitfuhiess. The vine is a plant weak
and lowly, and needing support; when supported,
wild and luxuriant, unless restrained by the prun-
ing-knife ; capable of producing the most valuable
fruit; but, if barren, the most unprofitable among
trees, and fit only for the flames. In all these re-
spects it is a lively emblem of the church, and
used as such by Isaiah v. 7. by Ezekiel xv. xvii.
xix. and by our Lord himself. Matt. xxi. 33. The
Christian church, after her redemption, by the
death and resurrection of Jesus, was planted in
the Heathen world, as Israel had been in Canaan;
and the description suits the one as well as the other.


9. Thou preparedst room before it, and didst
cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land.
10. The hills were covered with the shadow of it,
and the boughs thereof tu^r^ like the goodly cedars;
or, and the goodly cedars xvere covered with the
boughs thereof."

As the vine striketh its roots deep into the soil
prepared for it, and then diffuseth its numerous
branches all around, covering the fertile hills, by the
sides of which it is planted, or running up the lofty
cedars, to the bodies of which it is joined; such was
the growth and fruitfulness of the Israelitish church ;
but much greater was that of the church Christian.
Her roots were fast fixed in the hearts and affections
of the faithful, and her boughs shot forth abundant-
ly; they often felt the knife, but increased under it,
both in number and vigour; till, at length, she over-
shadowed the Roman empire with her branches, and

240 [Ps. 80.

replenished the earth with her fruit, grateful to God
and man.

** 11. She sent out her boughs unto the sea, and
her branches unto the river."

This relates to the extent of Palestine, which
was occupied by the tribes of Israel, even from the
Mediterranean " sea," westward, to the " river"
Euphrates, eastward. This was promised, Deut. xi»
24. " From the river Euphrates to the uttermost
sea shall your coast be;" and fulfilled in the days
of Solomon. See 1 Kings iv. 21. Psalm Ixxii. 8.
To the Christian church the wholq earth was the
land of promise, and the Gospel was preached to all
nations. " I will give thee," saith Jehovah to
Christ, " the heathen for thine inheritance, and the
uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession."
Psalm ii. 8.

" 12. Why hast thou then broken down her
hedges, so that all they which pass by the way, do
pluck her?"

The Psalmist, having described the exaltation of
Israel, under the figure of a vine, proceeds, under
the same figure, to lament her depression. She is
now represented as deprived of the protection of
God, the counsels of the wise, and the arms of the
valiant; of all her bulwarks and fortifications, and
whatever else could contribute to her defence and
security; so that, like a vineyard without a fence,
she lay open, on every side, to the incursions and
ravages of her neighbouring adversaries; who soon
stripped her of all that was valuable, and trod her
under foot.

Ps. 80.] ^41

" 13. The boar out of the wood doth waste it,
and the wild beast of the field doth devour it."

Fierce, and unrelenting, her heathen persecutor
issued, at different times, from his abode, like a
" wild boar" out of the forest; resolved not only to
spoil and plunder, but to eradicate and extirpate her
for ever. Nor let the Christian church imagine,
that these things relate only to her elder sister.
Greater mercies, and more excellent gifts, should
excite in her greater thankfulness, and call forth
more excellent virtues; otherwise, they will serve
only to enhance her account, and multiply her sor-
rows. If she sin, and fall after the same example
of unbelief, she must not think to be distinguished
in her punishment, unless by the severity of it.
She may expect to see the favour of heaven with-
drawn, and the secular arm, instead of supporting,
employed to crush her; her discipline may be anni-
hilated, her unity broken, her doctrines perverted,
her worship deformed, her practice corrupted, her
possessions alienated, and her revenues seized; till
at length the word be given from above, and some
antichristian power be unchained, to execute upon
her the full vengeance due to her crimes. Unclean
desires, and furious passions, are the enemies of
the soul, which deface her beauty, and devour all
the productions of grace, in that lesser vineyard of

'' 14. Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts:
look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this
vine; 15. And the vineyard which thy right hand
hath planted, and the branch that thou madest
strong for thyself."

242 [Ps. sa

The church, thus distressed and desolated, offer-
eth a prayer for the return of the divine favour, and
for a gracious visitation from on high ; she beseecheth
God to look down, with an eye of pity, from heaven,
on the vineyard which his own hands had " planted,"
and on that royal branch, the family of David, in
particular, which he had raised and established for
himself, to accomplish his eternal purpose of saving
mankind by Messiah, who was one day to spring
from the root of Jesse, The Chaldee Paraphrast
expounds "the branch," of Messiah himself,-—
an^TVD K::b)2 bif, " on King Messiah, whom thou
hast established," &c. So do the Rabbles, Aben
Ezra, and Obadiah, cited by Dr. Hammond. And
the Lxx, instead of supposing the p " a son," to
refer to " vine," and so signify a " branch," which
in the Hebrew style, is " a son of the vine," have
rendered the passage, iTn vlov uy^^cottov, " on the
son of man;" an expression actually used by the
Psalmist, two verses below. To the advent of this
Son of Man, Israel was ever accustomed to look
forward, in time of affliction: on his second and
glorious advent, the Christian church must fix her
eye, in the day of her calamities.

" 16. It IS burnt with fire: it is cut down, at-
dug up: they perish at the rebuke of thy counte-

The sad estate of the vineyard is yet again set
forth, to excite the compassion of heaven. As to
the latter clause of this verse, if it be rendered, as
our translators have rendered it, in the present time,
it seems to relate to the Israelites, and the destruc-
tion made amongst them by the wrath of God. If

Ps. 80.] 243

it have a future rendering, " they shall perish at the
rebuke of thy countenance," it may be supposed to
predict the fate of the adversaries, when God should
deliver his people out of their hands.

" 17. Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right
hand, upon the son of man, *mliom thou madest
strong for thyself."

These phrases, " the man of thy right hand,"
and " the son of man," if at all applicable in a lower
and subordinate sense, to a temporal king of Israel,
considered as a representative of Messiah, are most
certainly, in their full and prophetical acceptation,
intended to denote King Messiah himself.* As-
sured of his coming, the church prayeth, that the
" hand," the protection, and the power of Jehovah
might be " upon" him, over him, and with him in his
great undertaking, finally to deliver her out of all
her troubles, and to " lead her captivity captive."

" 18. So will not we go back from thee: quicken
us, and we will call upon thy name."

The end of our redemption is, that we should
serve him who hath redeemed us, and " go back"
no more to our old sins. That soul which hath been
" quickened" and made alive by Christ, should live
to his honour and glory ; that mouth which hath
been opened by him, can do no less than show forth
his praise, and " call upon his saving " name."

* " Virum dexterae tuae :" Davidem a te designatum et confirma-
turn regem, et in ejus figura Christum. Sossuet.

244 [Ps. 81.

" 19. Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts;
cause thy face to shine, and we shall be saved."—
See verse 3.


ARGUMENT, — This Psalm, whensoever, or by whomsoever
composed, was, probably, intended to be sung at the feast of
trumpets, as also at any other feast time. It contains, 1 — 3.
an exhortation duly to observe the festivals of the church, 4, 5.
as God had appointed, who is introduced expostvdating with
his people, on account, 6 — 10. of his mercies, and, 11, 12.
their ingratitude, and in 13 — 16. under the form of a most af-
fectionate Avish, renewing his promises, on condition of their

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