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A psalm for Asaph. O God, the heathens are come into thy inheritance, they have defiled thy holy temple: they have made Jerusalem as a place to keep fruit.

PSALM LXXVIII.  (DEUS VENERUNT GENTES.)

The Church in time of persecution prayeth for relief.  It seems to belong to the time of the Machabees.


Ver. 1.  Asaph, who might live during the captivity.  C.

 

--- If the ancient (H.) Asaph, or David, composed this psalm, it must be considered a prediction of the ruin caused by Nabuchodonosor, or by Epiphanes.  Bert.  T. v.

 

--- The author of 1 Mac. (vii. 17.) accommodates it to the sufferings of those (C.) whom Alcimus destroyed; or rather the prophet had them also in view as well as Christian martyrs.  H.

 

--- He cannot speak of the last ruin of Jerusalem, since it would have been improper to pray for its restoration.  S. Aug.

 

--- Fruit.  A mean village, (M.) as Isaias (i. 8.) had threatened.  Heb. "a heap of stones," (S. Jer.) in the field.  Mic. i. 6.  Such was the condition of Jerusalem under Nabuchodonosor (C.) and Ephiphanes.  1 Mac. i.  Bert.

 

--- Catholics have been persecuted in every country, and forced to use mean houses for divine worship.  W.



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2 They have given the dead bodies of thy servants to be meat for the fowls of the air: the flesh of thy saints for the beasts of the earth.

Ver. 2.  Saints.  The Assideans, who were the most esteemed for piety, 1 Mac. ii. 42.  In the worst of times, there were always some pious Israelites, and the generality of them were less wicked than their enemies, who exercised a horrid barbarity in refusing them burial, after destroying vast numbers.  2 Par. xxxvi. 17.  C.

 

--- This was done at least under Epiphanes.  1 Mac. vii. 16.  H.

 

--- Persecutors have hung the bodies of martyrs on poles to be the food of birds, (W.) as the missionary priests were treated in England not long ago.  Heb. is here rather inaccurate, (H.) "to the wild beast of the earth itself;" (Mont.) lechaitho arets, being put forth léith, earts, (Houbig.) as Prot. themselves translate.  H.


3 They have poured out their blood as water, round about Jerusalem and there was none to bury them.


4 We are become a reproach to our neighbours: a scorn and derision to them that are round about us.

Ver. 4.  Us.  The Idumeans, &c. are hence blamed by the prophets.  Ezec. xxv. 12.  Abd. 10.  C.

 

--- Christ and his disciples have been treated with scorn, (Bert.) being styled Galileans, Papists, &c.  W.


5 How long, O Lord, wilt thou be angry for ever: shall thy zeal be kindled like a fire?

Ver. 5.  Zeal, or jealousy, as God has the greatest affection for his people, and resents their infidelity as a kind of adultery.  C.

 

--- Sin is the source of misery.  W.


6 Pour out thy wrath upon the nations that have not known thee: and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name.

Ver. 6.  Name.  Their ignorance was of course culpable.  Bert.

 

--- This prayer is prophetical, (S. Aug.) or insinuates that those infidels were still more deserving of punishment.  Bert.

 

--- By destroying Israel, the number of God's worshippers would be lessened.  C.

 

--- Yet this consideration would not hinder God from chastising them; and it is not absolutely true that pagans are always more guilty.  Those who know the will of their master, and do it not, shall suffer many stripes.  Having the true faith, they may, however, (H.) be sooner converted.  W.



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7 Because they have devoured Jacob; and have laid waste his place.

Ver. 7.  They have devoured.  So Pagnin ventured to translate the Heb.  But Montanus substitutes the singular, though it be evidently incorrect, (H.) and contrary to all the ancient versions and the parallel passage, (Jer. x. 25.) as well as to MS. 3. Lambeth 435, &c. (Kennicott) v being lost at the end of acol.  Houbig.

 

--- Place.  Heb. also, "beauty," the ark or temple.  C.


8 Remember not our former iniquities: let thy mercies speedily prevent us, for we are become exceeding poor.

Ver. 8.  Former iniquities, which we and our fathers have committed.  The Hebrews generally pray for the remission of their parent's faults.  Lam. v. 7.  Bar. iii. 5.  Dan. ix. 5.  C.

 

--- But here the penitents' own transgressions may be meant.  Bert.

 

--- God is ready to pardon such.  W.



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9 Help us, O God, our saviour: and for the glory of thy name, O Lord, deliver us: and forgive us our sins for thy name's sake:

Ver. 9.  Help.  The necessity of grace, and the co-operation of free-will, are here plainly asserted.  S. Aug.


10 Lest they should say among the Gentiles: Where is their God? And let him be made known among the nations before our eyes, By the revenging the blood of thy servants, which hath been shed:

Ver. 10.  Their God.  Let him rescue his people.  Cicero (pro Flacco) speaking of the Jewish nation, says, "How dear it was to the immortal gods, appears from its being overcome, enslaved," &c.

 

--- Shed.  He speaks not of revenge; (C.) but in order that chastisement may open the eyes of the infidels, that they may be converted.  Euseb.

 

--- Let none suspect that thou disregardest thy people.  The event will evince the contrary.  W.


11 let the sighing of the prisoners come in before thee. According to the greatness of thy arm, take possession of the children of them that have been put to death.

Ver. 11.  Put.  Chal. "consigned."  C.

 

--- Protect the successors of the martyrs.  W.


12 And render to our neighbours sevenfold in their bosom: the reproach wherewith they have reproached thee, O Lord.

Ver. 12.  Bosom.  Punish them severely C. in this world.  S. Jer.

 

--- Many of the surrounding nations were subdued by Nabuchodonosor, five years after he had conquered the Jews.  Joseph. x. 10.  Jer. xlix. 7. &c.


13 But we thy people, and the sheep of thy pasture, will give thanks to thee for ever. We will shew forth thy praise, unto generation and generation.
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