PSALM 77 OVERVIEW
Title. To the Chief Musician, to Jeduthun. It was meet that another leader of the psalmody should take his turn. No harp should be silent in the courts of the Lord's house. A Psalm of Asaph. Asaph was a man of exercised mind, and often touched the minor key; he was thoughtful, contemplative, believing, but withal there was a dash of sadness about him, and this imparted a tonic flavour to his songs. To follow him with understanding, it is needful to have done business on the great waters, and weathered many an Atlantic gale.
Divisions. If we follow the poetical arrangement, and divide at the Selahs, we shall find the troubled man of God pleading in Psalms 77:1-3 , and then we shall hear him lamenting and arguing within himself, Psalms 77:4-9 . From Psalms 77:10-15 his meditations run toward God, and in the close he seems as in a vision to behold the wonders of the Red Sea and the wilderness. At this point, as if lost in an ecstasy, he hurriedly closes the Psalm with an abruptness, the effect of which is quite startling. The Spirit of God knows when to cease speaking, which is more than those do who, for the sake of making a methodical conclusion, prolong their words even to weariness. Perhaps this Psalm was meant to be a prelude to the next, and, if so, its sudden close is accounted for. The hymn now before us is for experienced saints only, but to them it will be of rare value as a transcript of their own inner conflicts.
Verse 1. I cried unto God with my voice. This Psalm has much sadness in it, but we may be sure it will end well, for it begins with prayer, and prayer never has an ill issue. Asaph did not run to man but to the Lord, and to him he went, not with studied, stately, stilted words, but with a cry, the natural, unaffected, unfeigned expression of pain. He used his voice also, for though vocal utterance is not necessary to the life of prayer, it often seems forced upon us by the energy of our desires. Sometimes the soul feels compelled to use the voice, for thus it finds a freer vent for its agony. It is a comfort to hear the alarm bell ringing when the house is invaded by thieves.
Even unto God with my voice. He returned to his pleading. If once sufficed not, he cried again. He needed an answer, he expected one, he was eager to have it soon, therefore he cried again and again, and with his voice too, for the sound helped his earnestness.
And he gave ear unto me. Importunity prevailed. The gate opened to the steady knock. It shall be so with us in our hour of trial, the God of grace will hear us in due season.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. Whenever, and by whomsoever, the Psalm may have been written, it clearly is individual, not national. It utterly destroys all the beauty, all the tenderness and depth of feeling in the opening portion, if we suppose that the people are introduced speaking in the first person. The allusions to the national history may indeed show that the season was a season of national distress, and that the sweet singer was himself bowed down by the burden of the time, and oppressed by woes which he had no power to alleviate; but it is his own sorrow, not the sorrow of others under which he sighs, and of which he has left the pathetic record. J. J. Stewart Perowne.
Verse 1. In the beginning of the Psalm, before speaking of his sorrows, he hastens to show the necessary and most efficacious remedy for allaying sorrow. He says that he did not, as many do, out of their impatience of grief or murmuring, either accuse God of cruelty or tyranny, or utter blasphemous words by which dishonour might fall upon God, or by indulging in sorrow and distrust hasten his own destruction, or fill the air with vain complaining, but fled straight to God and to him unburdened his sorrow, and sought that he would not shut him out from that grace which he bountifully offers to all. This is the only and sure sovereign remedy which most effectually heals his griefs. Mollerus.
Verse 1. I cried. To the Orientals the word q[c presented the idea of a crash, as of the heavens sending out thunders and lightnings. Whence beyond other things he metaphorically says, he cried for sorrow;... shaken with a tempest of thoughts he burst out into an open and loud sounding complaint. Hermann Venema.
Verse 1. Even unto God with my voice. The repetition here is emphatic. The idea is that it was an earnest or fervent cry. Albert Barnes.
Verse 1. (last clause). At the second knock, the door of grace flew open: the Lord heard me. John Collings.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 1. The benefit of using the voice in private prayer.
Verse 1,3,5,10. Note the wise man's progress out of his soul trouble.
I cried. I remembered. I considered. I said.
WORK ON THE SEVENTY-SEVENTH PSALM
"An Exposition upon the Seventy- seventh Psalm, made by the constant Martyr of Christ, Master John Hooper, Bishop of Gloucester and Worcester." In the "Later Writings of Bishop Hooper." (In Parker Society's Publications, and also in the "British Reformer's" series of the Religious Tract Society.)