Psalm 77:5
I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times.
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Psalm 77:5-6. I have considered the days of old — The mighty works of God, wrought for his people in former times, if by that means I could get any comfort. I call to remembrance my song in the night — The many and great mercies and favours of God vouchsafed to me and his people, which have obliged me to adore him and sing his praise, not only in the day, the time appointed for that work, but also by night, as often as they came into my mind. My spirit made diligent search — What should be the reason of this strange and vast alteration, and how this sore trouble could come from the hand of so gracious and merciful a God as ours is, and what might be expected as to its continuance or removal. “A recollection of former mercies is the proper antidote against a temptation to despair in the day of calamity: and as in the divine dispensations, which are always uniform and like themselves, whatever has happened may, and probably will, happen again when the circumstances are similar; the experience of ancient times is to be called in to our aid, and duly consulted. Upon these topics we should, in the night of affliction, commune with our own hearts, and make diligent search, as Daniel did in Babylon, into the cause of our troubles, with the proper methods of shortening and bringing them to an end; by suffering them to have their intended and full effect in a sincere repentance, and thorough reformation.” — Horne.

77:1-10 Days of trouble must be days of prayer; when God seems to have withdrawn from us, we must seek him till we find him. In the day of his trouble the psalmist did not seek for the diversion of business or amusement, but he sought God, and his favor and grace. Those that are under trouble of mind, must pray it away. He pored upon the trouble; the methods that should have relieved him did but increase his grief. When he remembered God, it was only the Divine justice and wrath. His spirit was overwhelmed, and sank under the load. But let not the remembrance of the comforts we have lost, make us unthankful for those that are left. Particularly he called to remembrance the comforts with which he supported himself in former sorrows. Here is the language of a sorrowful, deserted soul, walking in darkness; a common case even among those that fear the Lord, Isa 50:10. Nothing wounds and pierces like the thought of God's being angry. God's own people, in a cloudy and dark day, may be tempted to make wrong conclusions about their spiritual state, and that of God's kingdom in the world. But we must not give way to such fears. Let faith answer them from the Scripture. The troubled fountain will work itself clear again; and the recollection of former times of joyful experience often raises a hope, tending to relief. Doubts and fears proceed from the want and weakness of faith. Despondency and distrust under affliction, are too often the infirmities of believers, and, as such, are to be thought upon by us with sorrow and shame. When, unbelief is working in us, we must thus suppress its risings.I have considered the days of old - Rather, "I do consider;" that is, "I think upon." This refers to his resolution in his perplexity and trouble; the method to which he resorted in examining the subject, and in endeavoring to allay his troubles. He resolved to look at the past. He asked what was the evidence which was furnished on the subject by the former dealings of God with himself and with mankind; what could be learned from those dealings in regard to the great and difficult questions which now so perplexed his mind.

The years of ancient times - The records and remembrances of past ages. What is the testimony which the history of the world bears on this subject? Does it prove that God is worthy of confidence or not? Does it or does it not authorize and justify these painful thoughts which pass through the mind?

4. holdest … waking—or, "fast," that I cannot sleep. Thus he is led to express his anxious feelings in several earnest questions indicative of impatient sorrow. I have considered, if by that means I could get any comfort, the days of old, i.e. the mighty works of God done for his people in former times.

Days are put for events done in them, as Psalm 37:13 137:7 Obadiah 1:12 Micah 7:4.

I have considered the days of old,.... Either the former part of his life, the various occurrences of it, how it had been with him in time past, what experience he had had of the divine goodness; so the Syriac version renders it, "I have considered my days of old"; or the preceding age, and what has happened in that, which his ancestors had acquainted him with; or rather many ages past, from the days of Adam to the then present time; at least it may include the Israelites coming out of Egypt, their passage through the Red sea and wilderness, the times of the judges, and what befell them in their days, and how they were delivered out of their troubles; as appears from the latter part of the psalm, and with which agrees the following clause:

the years of ancient times; or, "of ages" (n); of times long ago past; it is very useful to read the history of the Bible, with respect to ancient times, and so the ecclesiastical history of ages past, and observe the faith and dependence of the Lord's people upon him, and their deliverance out of trouble by him; which may be a means of strengthening faith in him, and of relief under present trials; but frequently the goodness of former times is only observed as an aggravation of the badness of the present ones, and of trouble in them; see Ecclesiastes 7:10, the Targum interprets the whole of happy days and times, paraphrasing it thus,

"I have mentioned the good days which were of old, the good years which were of ages past.''

(n) "annos seculorum", Pagninus, Montanus, Musculus, Piscator, Cocceius, Gejerus.

I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times.
5. I considered the days of old,

The years of ages past, (saying),

5. “Not pathetic only but profound also and of the most solid substance was that reply made by an old Carthusian monk to the trifler who asked him how he had managed to get through his life:—Cogitavi dies antiquos, et annos aeternos in mente habui.”

Verse 5. - I have considered; rather, I considered. In my perplexity, when I could no longer speak, I betook myself to meditation. I considered the days of old, the years of ancient times. He called to mind, i.e., God's doings in the past (comp. vers. 14-19). Psalm 77:5He calls his eyelids the "guards of my eyes." He who holds these so that they remain open when they want to shut together for sleep, is God; for his looking up to Him keeps the poet awake in spite of all overstraining of his powers. Hupfeld and others render thus: "Thou hast held, i.e., caused to last, the night-watches of mine eyes," - which is affected in thought and expression. The preterites state what has been hitherto and has not yet come to a close. He still endures, as formerly, such thumps and blows within him, as though he lay upon an anvil (פּעם), and his voice fails him. Then silent soliloquy takes the place of audible prayer; he throws himself back in thought to the days of old (Psalm 143:5), the years of past periods (Isaiah 51:9), which were so rich in the proofs of the power and loving-kindness of the God who was then manifest, but is now hidden. He remembers the happier past of his people and his own, inasmuch as he now in the night purposely calls back to himself in his mind the time when joyful thankfulness impelled him to the song of praise accompanied by the music of the harp (בּלּילה belongs according to the accents to the verb, not to נגינתי, although that construction certainly is strongly commended by parallel passages like Psalm 16:7; Psalm 42:9; Psalm 92:3, cf. Job 35:10), in place of which, crying and sighing and gloomy silence have now entered. He gives himself up to musing "with his heart," i.e., in the retirement of his inmost nature, inasmuch as he allows his thoughts incessantly to hover to and fro between the present and the former days, and in consequence of this (fut. consec. as in Psalm 42:6) his spirit betakes itself to scrupulizing (what the lxx reproduces with σκάλλειν, Aquila with σκαλεύειν) - his conflict of temptation grows fiercer. Now follow the two doubting questions of the tempted one: he asks in different applications, Psalm 77:8-10 (cf. Psalm 85:6), whether it is then all at an end with God's loving-kindness and promise, at the same time saying to himself, that this nevertheless is at variance with the unchangeableness of His nature (Malachi 3:6) and the inviolability of His covenant. אפס (only occurring as a 3. praet.) alternates with גּמר (Psalm 12:2). חנּות is an infinitive construct formed after the manner of the Lamed He verbs, which, however, does also occur as infinitive absolute (שׁמּות, Ezekiel 36:3, cf. on Psalm 17:3); Gesenius and Olshausen (who doubts this infinitive form, 245, f) explain it, as do Aben-Ezra and Kimchi, as the plural of a substantive חנּה, but in the passage cited from Ezekiel (vid., Hitzig) such a substantival plural is syntactically impossible. קפץ רחמים is to draw together or contract and draw back one's compassion, so that it does not manifest itself outwardly, just as he who will not give shuts (יקפּץ) his hand (Deuteronomy 15:7; cf. supra, Psalm 17:10).
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