The psalmist's troubles and temptation. (1-10) He encourages himself by the remembrance of God's help of his people. (11-20)
Verses 1-10 Days of trouble must be days of prayer; when God seems to have withdrawn from us, we must seek him till we find him. In the day of his trouble the psalmist did not seek for the diversion of business or amusement, but he sought God, and his favor and grace. Those that are under trouble of mind, must pray it away. He pored upon the trouble; the methods that should have relieved him did but increase his grief. When he remembered God, it was only the Divine justice and wrath. His spirit was overwhelmed, and sank under the load. But let not the remembrance of the comforts we have lost, make us unthankful for those that are left. Particularly he called to remembrance the comforts with which he supported himself in former sorrows. Here is the language of a sorrowful, deserted soul, walking in darkness; a common case even among those that fear the Lord, ( Isaiah 50:10 ) . Nothing wounds and pierces like the thought of God's being angry. God's own people, in a cloudy and dark day, may be tempted to make wrong conclusions about their spiritual state, and that of God's kingdom in the world. But we must not give way to such fears. Let faith answer them from the Scripture. The troubled fountain will work itself clear again; and the recollection of former times of joyful experience often raises a hope, tending to relief. Doubts and fears proceed from the want and weakness of faith. Despondency and distrust under affliction, are too often the infirmities of believers, and, as such, are to be thought upon by us with sorrow and shame. When, unbelief is working in us, we must thus suppress its risings.
Verses 11-20 The remembrance of the works of God, will be a powerful remedy against distrust of his promise and goodness; for he is God, and changes not. God's way is in the sanctuary. We are sure that God is holy in all his works. God's ways are like the deep waters, which cannot be fathomed; like the way of a ship, which cannot be tracked. God brought Israel out of Egypt. This was typical of the great redemption to be wrought out in the fulness of time, both by price and power. If we have harboured doubtful thoughts, we should, without delay, turn our minds to meditate on that God, who spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, that with him, he might freely give us all things.
Psalms 77:1-20 . affliction, when ready to despair, the Psalmist derives relief from calling to mind God's former and wonderful works of delivering power and grace.
1. expresses the purport of the Psalm.
2. his importunacy.
my sore ran . . . night--literally, "my hand was spread," or, "stretched out" (compare Psalms 44:20 ).
ceased not--literally, "grew not numb," or, "feeble" ( Genesis 45:26 , Psalms 38:8 ).
my soul . . . comforted--(compare Genesis 37:35 , Jeremiah 31:15 ).
3-9. His sad state contrasted with former joys.
was troubled--literally, "violently agitated," or disquieted ( Psalms 39:6 , 41:5 ).
my spirit was overwhelmed--or, "fainted" ( Psalms 107:5 , Jonah 2:7 ).
4. holdest . . . waking--or, "fast," that I cannot sleep. Thus he is led to express his anxious feelings in several earnest questions indicative of impatient sorrow.
10. Omitting the supplied words, we may read, "This is my affliction--the years of," &c., "years" being taken as parallel to affliction (compare Psalms 90:15 ), as of God's ordering.
11, 12. He finds relief in contrasting God's former deliverances. Shall we receive good at His hands, and not evil? Both are orderings of unerring mercy and unfailing love.
13. Thy way . . . in the sanctuary--God's ways of grace and providence ( Psalms 22:3 , 67:2 ), ordered on holy principles, as developed in His worship; or implied in His perfections, if "holiness" be used for "sanctuary," as some prefer translating (compare Exodus 15:11 ).
14-20. Illustrations of God's power in His special interventions for His people ( Exodus 14:1-31 ), and, in the more common, but sublime, control of nature ( Psalms 22:11-14 , Habakkuk 3:14 ) which may have attended those miraculous events ( Exodus 14:24 ).
15. Jacob and Joseph--representing all.
19. waters . . . , footsteps--may refer to His actual leading the people through the sea, though also expressing the mysteries of providence.