Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people.
Ps 105:1-45. After an exhortation to praise God, addressed especially to the chosen people, the writer presents the special reason for praise, in a summary of their history from the calling of Abraham to their settlement in Canaan, and reminds them that their obedience was the end of all God's gracious dealings.
1. call … name—(Ps 79:6; Ro 10:13). Call on Him, according to His historically manifested glory. After the example of Abraham, who, as often as God acquired for Himself a name in guiding him, called in solemn worship upon the name of the Lord (Ge 12:8; 13:4).
among the people—or, "peoples" (Ps 18:49).
deeds—or, "wonders" (Ps 103:7).
Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works.
Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.
3, 4. Seeking God's favor is the only true mode of getting true happiness, and His strength [Ps 105:4] is the only true source of protection (compare Ps 32:11; 40:16).
Glory … name—boast in His perfections. The world glories in its horses and chariots against the Church of God lying in the dust; but our hope is in the name, that is, the power and love of God to His people, manifested in past deliverances.
Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore.
Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth;
5, 6. judgments … mouth—His judicial decisions for the good and against the wicked.
O ye seed of Abraham his servant, ye children of Jacob his chosen.
6. chosen—rather qualifies "children" than "Jacob," as a plural.
He is the LORD our God: his judgments are in all the earth.
7. Rather, "He, Jehovah, is our God." His title, "Jehovah," implies that He, the unchangeable, self-existing Being, makes things to be, that is, fulfils His promises, and therefore will not forsake His people. Though specially of His people, He is God over all.
He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations.
8-11. The covenant was often ratified.
word—answering to "covenant" [Ps 105:9] in the parallel clause, namely, the word of promise, which, according to Ps 105:10, He set forth for an inviolable law.
commanded—or, "ordained" (Ps 68:28).
to a thousand generations—perpetually. A verbal allusion to De 7:9 (compare Ex 20:6).
Which covenant he made with Abraham, and his oath unto Isaac;
9. Which covenant—or, "Word" (Ps 105:8).
And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant:
10, 11. Alluding to God's promise to Jacob (Ge 28:13). Out of the whole storehouse of the promises of God, only one is prominently brought forward, namely, that concerning the possession of Canaan [Ps 105:11]. Everything revolves around this. The wonders and judgments have all for their ultimate design the fulfilment of this promise.
Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance:
When they were but a few men in number; yea, very few, and strangers in it.
12-15. few … in number—alluding to Jacob's words (Ge 34:30), "I being few in number."
yea, very few—literally, "as a few," that is, like fewness itself (compare Isa 1:9).
strangers—sojourners in the land of their future inheritance, as in a strange country (Heb 11:9).
When they went from one nation to another, from one kingdom to another people;
13. from one nation to another—and so from danger to danger; now in Egypt, now in the wilderness, and lastly in Canaan. Though a few strangers, wandering among various nations, God protected them.
He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes;
14. reproved kings—Pharaoh of Egypt and Abimelech of Gerar (Ge 12:17; 20:3).
Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.
15. Touch not—referring to Ge 26:11, where Abimelech says of Isaac, "He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely be put to death."
mine anointed—as specially consecrated to Me (Ps 2:2). The patriarch was the prophet, priest, and king of his family.
my prophets—in a similar sense, compare Ge 20:7. The "anointed" are those vessels of God, consecrated to His service, "in whom (as Pharaoh said of Joseph, Ge 41:38) the Spirit of God is" [Hengstenberg].
Moreover he called for a famine upon the land: he brake the whole staff of bread.
16. God ordered the famine. God
called for a famine—as if it were a servant, ready to come at God's bidding. Compare the centurion's words, as to disease being God's servant (Mt 8:8, 9).
upon the land—namely, Canaan (Ge 41:54).
staff of bread—what supports life (Le 26:26; Ps 104:15; Isa 3:1).
He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant:
17-21. Joseph was sent of God (Ge 45:5).
Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron:
18. hurt with fetters—(Ge 40:3).
was laid in iron—literally, "his soul" (see on Ps 16:10), or, "he came into iron," or, he was bound to his grief (compare Ps 3:2; 11:1). The "soul" is put for the whole person, because the soul of the captive suffers still more than the body. Joseph is referred to as being an appropriate type of those "bound in affliction and iron" (Ps 107:10).
Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him.
19. his word came—His prophecy (Ge 41:11-20) to the officers came to pass, or was fulfilled (Jud 13:12, 17; 1Sa 9:6, explain the form of speech).
the word of the Lord—or, "saying," or "decree of the Lord."
tried him—or, "proved him," by the afflictions it appointed him to endure before his elevation (compare Ge 41:40-43).
The king sent and loosed him; even the ruler of the people, and let him go free.
He made him lord of his house, and ruler of all his substance:
To bind his princes at his pleasure; and teach his senators wisdom.
22. To bind—Not literally bind; but exercise over them absolute control, as the parallel in the second clause shows; also Ge 41:40, 44, in which not literal fettering, but commanding obedience, is spoken of. It refers to Ps 105:18. The soul that was once bound itself now binds others, even princes. The same moral binding is assigned to the saints (Ps 149:8).
teach … senators wisdom—the ground of his exaltation by Pharaoh was his wisdom (Ge 41:39); namely, in state policy, and ordering well a kingdom.
Israel also came into Egypt; and Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham.
23-25. Israel … and Jacob—that is, Jacob himself is meant, as Ps 105:24 speaks of "his people." Still, he came with his whole house (Ge 46:6, 7).
land of Ham—or, Egypt (Ps 78:51).
And he increased his people greatly; and made them stronger than their enemies.
He turned their heart to hate his people, to deal subtilly with his servants.
25. turned their heart—God controls men's free acts (compare 1Sa 10:9). "When Saul had turned his back to go from (God's prophet) Samuel, God turned (Margin) him another heart" (see Ex 1:8, &c.). Whatever evil the wicked man plots against God's people, God holds bound even his heart, so as not to lay a single plan except what God permits. Thus Isaiah (Isa 43:17) says it was God who brought forth the army of Pharaoh to pursue Israel to their own destruction (Ex 4:21; 7:3).
He sent Moses his servant; and Aaron whom he had chosen.
26. Moses … chosen—both what they were by divine choice (Ps 78:70).
They shewed his signs among them, and wonders in the land of Ham.
27. signs—literally, "words of signs," or rather, as "words" in Hebrew means "things," "things of His signs," that is, His marvellous tokens of power (Ps 145:5, Margin). Compare the same Hebraism (Ps 65:3, Margin).
He sent darkness, and made it dark; and they rebelled not against his word.
28-36. The ninth plague is made prominent as peculiarly wonderful.
they rebelled not—Moses and Aaron promptly obeyed God (Heb 11:27); (compare Ex 7:1-11:10 and Ps 78:44-51, with which this summary substantially agrees). Or, rather, the "darkness" here is figurative (Jer 13:16), the literal plague of darkness (Ex 10:22, 23) being only alluded to as the symbol of God's wrath which overhung Egypt as a dark cloud during all the plagues. Hence, it is placed first, out of the historical order. Thus, "They rebelled not (that is, no longer) against His word," refers to the Egyptians. Whenever God sent a plague on them, they were ready to let Israel go, though refusing when the plague ceased.
his word—His command to let Israel go [Hengstenberg]. Of the ten plagues, only eight are mentioned, the fifth, the murrain of beasts, and the sixth, the boils, being omitted.
He turned their waters into blood, and slew their fish.
29-31. He deprived them of their favorite "fish," and gave them instead, [Ps 105:30] out of the water, loathsome "frogs," and (Ps 105:31) upon their land tormenting "flies" (the dog-fly, according to Maurer) and "lice" (gnats, according to Hengstenberg).
Their land brought forth frogs in abundance, in the chambers of their kings.
He spake, and there came divers sorts of flies, and lice in all their coasts.
He gave them hail for rain, and flaming fire in their land.
32. gave them—referring to Le 26:4, "I give you rain in due season." His "gift" to Israel's foes is one of a very different kind from that bestowed on His people.
hail for rain—instead of fertilizing showers, hail destructive to trees. This forms the transition to the vegetable kingdom. The locusts in Ps 105:34 similarly are destructive to plants.
He smote their vines also and their fig trees; and brake the trees of their coasts.
33. their coasts—all their land (Ps 78:54).
He spake, and the locusts came, and caterpillers, and that without number,
34. caterpillars—literally, "the lickers up," devouring insects; probably the hairy-winged locust.
And did eat up all the herbs in their land, and devoured the fruit of their ground.
He smote also all the firstborn in their land, the chief of all their strength.
36. the chief—literally, "the firstlings." The ascending climax passes from the food of man to man himself. The language here is quoted from Ps 78:51.
He brought them forth also with silver and gold: and there was not one feeble person among their tribes.
37. with silver and gold—presented them by the Egyptians, as an acknowledgment due for their labors in their bondage (compare Ex 12:35).
one feeble person—or, "stumbler," unfit for the line of march. Compare "harnessed," that is, accoutred and marshalled as an army on march (Ex 13:18; Isa 5:27).
Egypt was glad when they departed: for the fear of them fell upon them.
38. (Compare Ex 12:33; De 11:25).
He spread a cloud for a covering; and fire to give light in the night.
39. covering—in sense of protection (compare Ex 13:21; Nu 10:34). In the burning sands of the desert the cloud protected the congregation from the heat of the sun; an emblem of God's protecting favor of His people, as interpreted by Isaiah (Isa 4:5, 6; compare Nu 9:16).
The people asked, and he brought quails, and satisfied them with the bread of heaven.
He opened the rock, and the waters gushed out; they ran in the dry places like a river.
For he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham his servant.
42-45. The reasons for these dealings: (1) God's faithfulness to His covenant, "His holy promise" of Canaan, is the fountain whence flowed so many acts of marvellous kindness to His people (compare Ps 105:8, 11). Ex 2:24 is the fundamental passage [Hengstenberg]. (2) That they might be obedient. The observance of God's commands by Abraham was the object of the covenant with him (Ge 18:19), as it was also the object of the covenant with Israel, that they might observe God's statutes.
remembered … and Abraham—or, "remembered His holy word (that is, covenant confirmed) with Abraham."
And he brought forth his people with joy, and his chosen with gladness:
And gave them the lands of the heathen: and they inherited the labour of the people;
44. inherited the labour—that is, the fruits of their labor; their corn and vineyards (Jos 21:43-45).
That they might observe his statutes, and keep his laws. Praise ye the LORD.