The deplorable condition of the people of God. (1-5) A petition for relief. (6-13)
Verses 1-5 God is complained to: whither should children go but to a Father able and willing to help them? See what a change sin made in the holy city, when the heathen were suffered to pour in upon them. God's own people defiled it by their sins, therefore he suffered their enemies to defile it by their insolence. They desired that God would be reconciled. Those who desire God's favour as better than life, cannot but dread his wrath as worse than death. In every affliction we should first beseech the Lord to cleanse away the guilt of our sins; then he will visit us with his tender mercies.
Verses 6-13 Those who persist in ignorance of God, and neglect of prayer, are the ungodly. How unrighteous soever men were, the Lord was righteous in permitting them to do what they did. Deliverances from trouble are mercies indeed, when grounded upon the pardon of sin; we should therefore be more earnest in prayer for the removal of our sins than for the removal of afflictions. They had no hopes but from God's mercies, his tender mercies. They plead no merit, they pretend to none, but, Help us for the glory of thy name; pardon us for thy name's sake. The Christian forgets not that he is often bound in the chain of his sins. The world to him is a prison; sentence of death is passed upon him, and he knows not how soon it may be executed. How fervently should he at all times pray, O let the sighing of a prisoner come before thee, according to the greatness of thy power preserve thou those that are appointed to die! How glorious will the day be, when, triumphant over sin and sorrow, the church beholds the adversary disarmed for ever! while that church shall, from age to age, sing the praises of her great Shepherd and Bishop, her King and her God.
Psalms 79:1-13 . This Psalm, like the seventy-fourth, probably depicts the desolations of the Chaldeans ( Jeremiah 52:12-24 ). It comprises the usual complaint, prayer, and promised thanks for relief.
1. (Compare Psalms 74:2-7 ).
2, 3. (Compare Jeremiah 15:3 , 16:4 ).
4. (Compare Psalms 44:13 , Jeremiah 42:18 , Lamentations 2:15 ).
5. How long--( Psalms 13:1 ).
be angry--( Psalms 74:1-10 ).
jealousy burn--( Deuteronomy 29:20 ).
6, 7. (Compare Jeremiah 10:25 ). Though we deserve much, do not the heathen deserve more for their violence to us ( Jeremiah 51:3-5 Zechariah 1:14 )? The singular denotes the chief power, and the use of the plural indicates the combined confederates.
called upon--or, "by"
thy name--proclaimed Thy attributes and professed allegiance ( Isaiah 12:4 , Acts 2:21 ).
8. former iniquities--literally, "iniquities of former times."
prevent us--literally, "meet us," as in Psalms 21:3 .
9. for . . . glory of thy name [and for] thy name's sake--both mean for illustrating Thy attributes, faithfulness, power, &c.
purge . . . sins--literally, "provide atonement for us." Deliverance from sin and suffering, for their good and God's glory, often distinguish the prayers of Old Testament saints (compare Ephesians 1:7 ).
10. This ground of pleading often used ( Exodus 32:12 , Numbers 14:13-16 ).
blood . . . shed--( Psalms 79:3 ).
11. prisoner--the whole captive people.
power--literally, "arm" ( Psalms 10:15 ).
12. into their bosom--The lap or folds of the dress is used by Eastern people for receiving articles. The figure denotes retaliation (compare Isaiah 65:6 Isaiah 65:7 ). They reproached God as well as His people.
13. sheep . . . pasture--(Compare Psalms 74:1 , 78:70 ).