Psalm 78:49

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 49. He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble. His last arrow was the sharpest. He reserved the strong wine of his indignation to the last. Note how the psalmist piles up the words, and well he might; for blow followed blow, each one more staggering than its predecessor, and then the crushing stroke was reserved for the end.

By sending evil angels among them. Messengers of evil entered their houses at midnight, and smote the dearest objects of their love. The angels were evil to them, though good enough in themselves; those who to the heirs of salvation are ministers of grace, are to the heirs of wrath executioners of judgment. When God sends angels, they are sure to come, and if he bids them slay they will not spare. See how sin sets all the powers of heaven in array against man; he has no friend left in the universe when God is his enemy.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 49. By sending evil angels. Evils come uncalled, but not unsent. Are they nor here called angels? they are sent; the word angel means a messenger. Not things only without life, but not living creatures neither, brute, nor men, nor Satan's self can hurt unless God bid. The three days' darkness in Egypt, how came it? "He sent darkness," saith David. Psalms 105:28 . So the hail, thunder, and lightning, the Lord sent them, saith Moses. The frogs, flies, lice, grasshoppers, and caterpillars, that infected Egypt, and the lions that slew the idolaters in Samaria ( 2 Kings 17:1-41 ), the text saith of them all, Dominus immisit, the Lord sent them. And for men -- "Am I come" (saith Rabshakeh) "without the Lord?" He bade me go. Yea, the devil, the arch evil angel, who seeks to devour, yet must be sent ere he can do ought. The lying spirit in the mouths of the false prophets longed to seduce Ahab; God must first bid; Egredere, go forth, and do so. The use of this is easy without my help: not to fear, doing well; not man, fiend, any creature, can hurt you, God not sending them. But sinning, to fear everything. The weakest creature can quell the mightiest man, if God bid, go. A mouse (saith the poet) will bite a wicked man. Be it proud Herod, great Antiochus; if God but ask the creatures, Quem mittam, which of you shall I send? the worm will answer, Ecce me, send me; I will devour him. And such poor, silly, despicable creatures are some of these evil angels in my text. He sent: what sent he? evil angels, the next thing in this Scripture.

Evil angels? Par dispar, a pair of words which seem not well matched. The latter may say to the former, Quid mihi et tibi, what have I to do with thee? Angels were the best and holiest of God's creatures. They all were good, very good, Moses saith; but angels kat exochn, excellently good. Then is evil here an evil epithet for angels. And is never read but here, and here (some think) not well translated. But the phrase of evil angels hath other meaning here: evil angels, i.e., the angels, i.e., the messengers of evil. It is in the Hebrew, not (~ykalm), but (ykalm); insomuch that some expositors think the psalmist means the words of Moses and Aaron; that they were sent from God to be the messengers of evil, i.e., all of the plagues that God would bring on Egypt. That sense I censure not, but follow not. The Greek Fathers have another -- that by the evil angels, are meant the evil spirits. Christ calls them angels too, thee devil's angels. Augustine likes not that sense. The most current exposition is as a Jewish writer speaks: the "evil angels" are the ten several plagues. Richard Clerke. (--1634.)

Verse 49. By sending evil angels among them. That the devil and his angels are so very evil, that for them everlasting fire is prepared, no believer is ignorant: but that there should be sent by means of them an infliction from the Lord God upon certain whom he judgeth to be deserving of this punishment, seemeth to be a hard thing to those who are little prone to consider how the perfect justice of God doth use well even evil things. For these indeed, as far as regardeth their substance, what other person but himself hath made? But evil he hath not made them; yet he doth use them, inasmuch as he is good, conveniently and justly; just as on the other hand unrighteous men do use his good creatures in evil manner: God therefore doth use evil angels not only to punish evil men, as in the case of all those concerning whom the Psalm doth speak, as in the case of king Ahab, whom a spirit of lying by the will of God did beguile, in order that he might fall in war; but also to prove and make manifest good men, as he did in the case of Job. Augustine.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

None.