A solemn call to praise and serve the Lord. (1-7) His gracious dealings with Israel. (8-23) Their deliverance from Egypt, and their settlement in Canaan. (24-45)
Verses 1-7 Our devotion is here stirred up, that we may stir up ourselves to praise God. Seek his strength; that is, his grace; the strength of his Spirit to work in us that which is good, which we cannot do but by strength derived from him, for which he will be sought. Seek to have his favour to eternity, therefore continue seeking it while living in this world; for he will not only be found, but he will reward those that diligently seek him.
Verses 8-23 Let us remember the Redeemer's marvellous works, his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth. Though true Christians are few number, strangers and pilgrims upon earth, yet a far better inheritance than Canaan is made sure to them by the covenant of God; and if we have the anointing of the Holy Spirit, none can do us any harm. Afflictions are among our mercies. They prove our faith and love, they humble our pride, they wean us from the world, and quicken our prayers. Bread is the staff which supports life; when that staff is broken, the body fails and sinks to the earth. The word of God is the staff of spiritual life, the food and support of the soul: the sorest judgment is a famine of hearing the word of the Lord. Such a famine was sore in all lands when Christ appeared in the flesh; whose coming, and the blessed effect of it, are shadowed forth in the history of Joseph. At the appointed time Christ was exalted as Mediator; all the treasures of grace and salvation are at his disposal, perishing sinners come to him, and are relieved by him.
Verses 24-45 As the believer commonly thrives best in his soul when under the cross; so the church also flourishes most in true holiness, and increases in number, while under persecution. Yet instruments shall be raised up for their deliverance, and plagues may be expected by persecutors. And see the special care God took of his people in the wilderness. All the benefits bestowed on Israel as a nation, were shadows of spiritual blessings with which we are blessed in Christ Jesus. Having redeemed us with his blood, restored our souls to holiness, and set us at liberty from Satan's bondage, he guides and guards us all the way. He satisfies our souls with the bread of heaven, and the water of life from the Rock of salvation, and will bring us safely to heaven. He redeems his servants from all iniquity, and purifies them unto himself, to be a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Psalms 105:1-45 . After an exhortation to praise God, addressed especially to the chosen people, the writer presents the special reason for praise, in a summary of their history from the calling of Abraham to their settlement in Canaan, and reminds them that their obedience was the end of all God's gracious dealings.
1. call . . . name--( Psalms 79:6 , Romans 10:13 ). Call on Him, according to His historically manifested glory. After the example of Abraham, who, as often as God acquired for Himself a name in guiding him, called in solemn worship upon the name of the Lord ( Genesis 12:8 , 13:4 ).
among the people--or, "peoples" ( Psalms 18:49 ).
deeds--or, "wonders" ( Psalms 103:7 ).
3, 4. Seeking God's favor is the only true mode of getting true happiness, and His strength ( Psalms 105:4 ) is the only true source of protection (compare Psalms 32:11 , 40:16 ).
Glory . . . name--boast in His perfections. The world glories in its horses and chariots against the Church of God lying in the dust; but our hope is in the name, that is, the power and love of God to His people, manifested in past deliverances.
5, 6. judgments . . . mouth--His judicial decisions for the good and against the wicked.
6. chosen--rather qualifies "children" than "Jacob," as a plural.
7. Rather, "He, Jehovah, is our God." His title, "JEHOVAH," implies that He, the unchangeable, self-existing Being, makes things to be, that is, fulfils His promises, and therefore will not forsake His people. Though specially of His people, He is God over all.
8-11. The covenant was often ratified.
word--answering to "covenant" ( Psalms 105:9 ) in the parallel clause, namely, the word of promise, which, according to Psalms 105:10 , He set forth for an inviolable law.
commanded--or, "ordained" ( Psalms 68:28 ).
to a thousand generations--perpetually. A verbal allusion to Deuteronomy 7:9 (compare Exodus 20:6 ).
9. Which covenant--or, "Word" ( Psalms 105:8 ).
10, 11. Alluding to God's promise to Jacob ( Genesis 28:13 ). Out of the whole storehouse of the promises of God, only one is prominently brought forward, namely, that concerning the possession of Canaan ( Psalms 105:11 ). Everything revolves around this. The wonders and judgments have all for their ultimate design the fulfilment of this promise.
12-15. few . . . in number--alluding to Jacob's words ( Genesis 34:30 ), "I being few in number."
yea, very few--literally, "as a few," that is, like fewness itself (compare Isaiah 1:9 ).
strangers--sojourners in the land of their future inheritance, as in a strange country ( Hebrews 11:9 ).
13. from one nation to another--and so from danger to danger; now in Egypt, now in the wilderness, and lastly in Canaan. Though a few strangers, wandering among various nations, God protected them.
14. reproved kings--Pharaoh of Egypt and Abimelech of Gerar ( Genesis 12:17 , 20:3 ).
15. Touch not--referring to Genesis 26:11 , where Abimelech says of Isaac, "He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely be put to death."
mine anointed--as specially consecrated to Me ( Psalms 2:2 ). The patriarch was the prophet, priest, and king of his family.
my prophets--in a similar sense, compare Genesis 20:7 . The "anointed" are those vessels of God, consecrated to His service, "in whom (as Pharaoh said of Joseph, Genesis 41:38 ) the Spirit of God is" [HENGSTENBERG].
16. God ordered the famine. God
called for a famine--as if it were a servant, ready to come at God's bidding. Compare the centurion's words, as to disease being God's servant ( Matthew 8:8 Matthew 8:9 ).
upon the land--namely, Canaan ( Genesis 41:54 ).
staff of bread--what supports life ( Leviticus 26:26 , Psalms 104:15 , Isaiah 3:1 ).
17-21. Joseph was sent of God ( Genesis 45:5 ).
18. hurt with fetters--( Genesis 40:3 ).
was laid in iron--literally, "his soul" or, "he came into iron," or, he was bound to his grief (compare Psalms 3:2 , 11:1 ). The "soul" is put for the whole person, because the soul of the captive suffers still more than the body. Joseph is referred to as being an appropriate type of those "bound in affliction and iron" ( Psalms 107:10 ).
19. his word came--His prophecy ( Genesis 41:11-20 ) to the officers came to pass, or was fulfilled ( Judges 13:12 Judges 13:17 , 1 Samuel 9:6 , explain the form of speech).
the word of the Lord--or, "saying," or "decree of the Lord."
tried him--or, "proved him," by the afflictions it appointed him to endure before his elevation (compare Genesis 41:40-43 ).
22. To bind--Not literally bind; but exercise over them absolute control, as the parallel in the second clause shows; also Genesis 41:40 Genesis 41:44 , in which not literal fettering, but commanding obedience, is spoken of. It refers to Psalms 105:18 . The soul that was once bound itself now binds others, even princes. The same moral binding is assigned to the saints ( Psalms 149:8 ).
teach . . . senators wisdom--the ground of his exaltation by Pharaoh was his wisdom ( Genesis 41:39 ); namely, in state policy, and ordering well a kingdom.
23-25. Israel . . . and Jacob--that is, Jacob himself is meant, as Psalms 105:24 speaks of "his people." Still, he came with his whole house ( Genesis 46:6 Genesis 46:7 ).
sojourned--( Genesis 47:4 ).
land of Ham--or, Egypt ( Psalms 78:51 ).
25. turned their heart--God controls men's free acts (compare 1 Samuel 10:9 ). "When Saul had turned his back to go from (God's prophet) Samuel, God turned (Margin) him another heart" (see Exodus 1:8 , &c.). Whatever evil the wicked man plots against God's people, God holds bound even his heart, so as not to lay a single plan except what God permits. Thus Isaiah ( Isaiah 43:17 ) says it was God who brought forth the army of Pharaoh to pursue Israel to their own destruction ( Exodus 4:21 , 7:3 ).
26. Moses . . . chosen--both what they were by divine choice ( Psalms 78:70 ).
27. signs--literally, "words of signs," or rather, as "words" in Hebrew means "things," "things of His signs," that is, His marvellous tokens of power ( Psalms 145:5 , Margin). Compare the same Hebraism ( Psalms 65:3 , Margin).
28-36. The ninth plague is made prominent as peculiarly wonderful.
they rebelled not--Moses and Aaron promptly obeyed God ( Hebrews 11:27 ); (compare Exodus 7:1-11:10' and Psalms 78:44-51 , with which this summary substantially agrees). Or, rather, the "darkness" here is figurative ( Jeremiah 13:16 ), the literal plague of darkness ( Exodus 10:22 Exodus 10:23 ) being only alluded to as the symbol of God's wrath which overhung Egypt as a dark cloud during all the plagues. Hence, it is placed first, out of the historical order. Thus, "They rebelled not (that is, no longer) against His word," refers to the Egyptians. Whenever God sent a plague on them, they were ready to let Israel go, though refusing when the plague ceased.
his word--His command to let Israel go [HENGSTENBERG]. Of the ten plagues, only eight are mentioned, the fifth, the murrain of beasts, and the sixth, the boils, being omitted.
29-31. He deprived them of their favorite "fish," and gave them instead, ( Psalms 105:30 ) out of the water, loathsome "frogs," and ( Psalms 105:31 ) upon their land tormenting "flies" (the dog-fly, according to MAURER) and "lice" (gnats, according to HENGSTENBERG).
32. gave them--referring to Leviticus 26:4 . "I give you rain in due season." His "gift" to Israel's foes is one of a very different kind from that bestowed on His people.
hail for rain--instead of fertilizing showers, hail destructive to trees. This forms the transition to the vegetable kingdom. The locusts in Psalms 105:34 similarly are destructive to plants.
33. their coasts--all their land ( Psalms 78:54 ).
34. caterpillars--literally, "the lickers up," devouring insects; probably the hairy-winged locust.
36. the chief--literally, "the firstlings." The ascending climax passes from the food of man to man himself. The language here is quoted from Psalms 78:51 .
37. with silver and gold--presented them by the Egyptians, as an acknowledgment due for their labors in their bondage (compare Exodus 12:35 ).
one feeble person--or, "stumbler," unfit for the line of march. Compare "harnessed," that is, accoutred and marshalled as an army on march ( Exodus 13:18;,Isa 5:27 Exodus 13:18;,Isa 5:27 ).
38. (Compare Exodus 12:33 , Deuteronomy 11:25 ).
39. covering--in sense of protection (compare Exodus 13:21 , Numbers 10:34 ). In the burning sands of the desert the cloud protected the congregation from the heat of the sun; an emblem of God's protecting favor of His people, as interpreted by Isaiah ( Isaiah 4:5 Isaiah 4:6 ; compare Numbers 9:16 ).
42-45. The reasons for these dealings: (1) God's faithfulness to His covenant, "His holy promise" of Canaan, is the fountain whence flowed so many acts of marvellous kindness to His people (compare Psalms 105:8 Psalms 105:11 ). Exodus 2:24 is the fundamental passage [HENGSTENBERG]. (2) That they might be obedient. The observance of God's commands by Abraham was the object of the covenant with him ( Genesis 18:19 ), as it was also the object of the covenant with Israel, that they might observe God's statutes.
remembered . . . and Abraham--or, "remembered His holy word (that is, covenant confirmed) with Abraham."
44. inherited the labour--that is, the fruits of their labor; their corn and vineyards ( Joshua 21:43-45 ).