Verse 20. Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron. What a transition from tempest to peace, from wrath to love. Quietly as a flock Israel was guided on, by human agency which veiled the excessive glory of the divine presence. The smiter of Egypt was the shepherd of Israel. He drove his foes before him, but went before his people. Heaven and earth fought on his side against the sons of Ham, but they were equally subservient to the interests of the sons of Jacob. Therefore, with devout joy and full of consolation, we close this Psalm; the song of one who forgot how to speak and yet learned to sing far more sweetly than his fellows.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. See Psalms on "Psalms 77:1" for further information.
Verse 20. Thou leddest thy people like a flock, etc. From this verse the afflicted may learn many consolations. First, that the best people that be are no better able to resist temptation, than the simple sheep is able to withstand the brier that catcheth him. The next, that man is of no more ability to beware of temptations, than the poor sheep is to avoid the brier, being preserved only by the diligence of the shepherd. The third, that as the shepherd is careful of his entangled and briard sheep, so is God of his afflicted faithful. And the fourth is, that the people of Israel could take no harm of the water, because they entered the sea at God's commandment. Whereof we learn, that no danger can hurt when God doth command us to enter into it; and all dangers overcome us if we choose them ourselves, besides God's commandment; as Peter, when he went at God's commandment upon the water, took no hurt; but when he entered into the bishop's house upon his own presumption, was overcome and denied Christ. The Israelites, when they fought at God's commandment, the peril was nothing; but when they would do it of their own heads, they perished: so that we are bound to attend upon God's commandment, and then no danger shall destroy us, though it pain us. The other doctrine is in this, that God used the ministry of Moses and Aaron in the deliverance of his people, who did command them to do nothing but that the Lord did first bid. Whereof we learn that such as be ministers appointed of God, and do nothing but as God commandeth, are to be followed; as Paul saith, "Follow me, as I follow Christ." John Hooper.
Verse 20. Thou leddest thy people like a flock. Observe, the good shepherd leads his followers like sheep: First, with great solicitude and care, to protect them from wolves. Secondly, with consideration and kindness, for the sheep is a harmless animal. Thirdly, with a wise strictness, for sheep easily wander, and they are of all animals the most stupid. Thomas Le Blanc.
Verse 20. Leddest thy people. Our guiding must be mild and gentle, else it is not duxisti, but traxisti; drawing and driving, and no leading. Leni spiritu non dure manu, rather by an inward sweet influence to be led, than by an outward extreme violence to be forced forward. So did God lead his people here. Not the greatest pace, I wist, for they were a year marching that they might have posted in eleven days, as Moses saith. ( Deuteronomy 1:2 .) No nor yet the nearest way neither, as Moses telleth us. ( Exodus 8:18 .) For he fetched a compass divers times, as all wise governors by his example must do, that desire rather safely to lead, than hastily to drive forward. "The Spirit of God leadeth this people," saith Isaiah ( Isaiah 63:14 ) "as an horse is ridden down the hill into a valley;" which must not be at a gallop, lest horse and ruler both come down one over another; but warily and easily. Lancelot Andrewes.
Verse 20. By the hand of Moses and Aaron. He says not, Moses and Aaron led the people of Israel; but, Thou leddest the people, and that thy people, by the hand of Moses and Aaron. Great was the power of these two men; nevertheless neither of them was the shepherd of the sheep, but each was a servant to the one and only true shepherd, to whom the sheep exclusively belonged. Nor yet was either the leader of the sheep, but the shepherd himself was present and led his own flock, to whom these two acted as servants. There are therefore three things to be learned from this passage. First, the sheep do not belong to the servants, but to the true shepherd. Secondly, the true shepherd is the leader of his own sheep. Thirdly, the offices of Moses and Aaron was to attend to this duty, that the Lord's sheep should be properly led and pastured. So Christ himself leads the sheep, his own sheep, and for this work he employs the ministry of his servants. Musculus.
Verse 20. The psalmist has reached the climax of his strain, he has found relief from his sorrow by forcing his thoughts into another channel, by dwelling on all God's mightiest wonders of old; but there he must end: in his present intensity of passion he cannot trust himself to draw forth in detail any mere lessons of comfort. There are seasons when even the holiest faith cannot bear to listen to words of reasoning; though it can still find a support whereon to rest, in the simple contemplation, in all their native grandeur, of the deeds that God hath wrought. Joseph Francis Thrupp.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
- The subjects of divine guidance: thy people.
- The manner of their guidance: like a flock --
separated, united, dependent.
- The agents employed: by the hand; the Great
Shepherd leads by the hand of under shepherds. "May
every under shepherd keep his eye intent on Thee."
Verse 20. Church history.
- The church a flock.
- God seen as leading it on.
- Instrumentality always used.