PS 78 This psalm is a narrative of the great mercies God had bestowed upon Israel, the great sins wherewith they had provoked him, and the many tokens of his displeasure at them. Here is, The preface, ver. 1-8. The general scope of this psalm, ver. 9-11. As to the particulars, we are told, what God had done for them; how ungrateful they were for his favours; how God had justly punished them; and how graciously he had spared them, notwithstanding all their provocations, ver. 12-72. Maschil of Asaph.
Verse 1. My law - The doctrine which I am about to deliver. 2. Parable - Weighty sentences. Dark sayings - Not that the words are hard to be understood, but the things, God's transcendent goodness, their unparallel'd ingratitude; and their stupid ignorance and insensibleness, under such excellent teachings of God's word and works, are prodigious and hard to be believed. Of old - Of things done in ancient times.
Verse 5. Established - This is justly put in first place, as the chief of all his mercies. A testimony - His law, called a testimony, because it is a witness between God and men, declaring the duties which God expects from man, and the blessings which man may expect from God.
Verse 9. Ephraim - That Ephraim is here put for all Israel seems evident from the following verses, wherein the sins, upon which this overthrow is charged, are manifestly the sins of all the children of Israel, and they who are here called Ephraim are called Jacob and Israel, ver. 21, and this passage may refer to that dreadful overthrow related, 1 Sam. iv, 10, 11, which is particularly named, because as the ark, so the flight was in that tribe. And the psalmist having related this amazing providence, falls into a large discourse of the causes of it, namely, the manifold sins of that and the former generations, which having prosecuted from hence to ver. 60, he there returns to this history, and relates the sad consequence of that disaster, the captivity of the ark, and God's forsaking of Shiloh and Ephraim, and removing thence to the tribe of Judah and mount Zion. Bows - These are put for all arms.
Verse 12. Field - In the territory. Zoan - An ancient and eminent city of Egypt.
Verse 15. Wilderness - In Rephidim, and again in Kadesh.
Verse 16. Streams - Which miraculously followed them in all their travels, even to the borders of Canaan.
Verse 17. Wilderness - Where they had such singular obligations to obedience. This was a great aggravation of their sins.
Verse 18. Tempted - Desired a proof of God's power. Lust - Not for their necessary subsistence, but out of an inordinate and luxurious appetite.
Verse 22. Trusted not - That he both could, and would save them from the famine which they feared.
Verse 23. Heaven - Which he compares to a store-house, whereof God shuts or opens the doors, as he sees fit.
Verse 64. Priests - Hophni and Phinehas. No lamentation - No funeral solemnities; either because they were prevented by their own death, as the wife of Phinehas was, or disturbed by the invasion of the enemy.
Verse 66. Smote - Them with the piles. Reproach - He caused them to perpetuate their own reproach by sending back the ark of God with their golden emrods, the lasting monuments of their shame.
Verse 67. Refused - He would not have his ark to abide any longer in the tabernacle of Shiloh, which was in the tribe of Joseph or Ephraim.
Verse 68. Chose - For the seat of the ark and of God's worship.
Verse 69. Sanctuary - The temple of Solomon. Palaces - Magnificent and gloriously. Established - Not now to be moved from place to place, as the tabernacle was, but as a fixedplace for the ark's perpetual residence.