Psalm 81:16
He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied you.
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(16) Finest of the wheat.—See margin, and comp. Psalm 147:14. The construction of this verse is matter of difficulty. Properly we should render, And he fed them with the finest of the wheat, and with honey out of the rock satisfied thee. The change of person is harsh, though perhaps it may be illustrated by Psalm 22:27, &c, but the past tense seems out of keeping with the context. The conclusions of Psalms 77, 78 are hardly analogous. The pointing should be slightly changed to give, “And I would feed them also,” &c

Psalm 81:16. He should have fed them with the finest wheat — He would have made their country exceedingly fruitful and productive, especially of wheat and other grain, in the highest perfection. And with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee — That is, with all pleasant and precious fruits, and with all delights; as all necessaries may be expressed in the former clause under the name of wheat. Or honey may be here taken literally; for the land of Canaan abounded with excellent honey; and the bees used to be collected in the clefts and holes of the rocks, as in hives, and there made their honey in such plenty that it often flowed down upon the ground in considerable quantities: see Deuteronomy 32:13; 1 Samuel 14:25-26. 81:8-16 We cannot look for too little from the creature, nor too much from the Creator. We may have enough from God, if we pray for it in faith. All the wickedness of the world is owing to man's wilfulness. People are not religious, because they will not be so. God is not the Author of their sin, he leaves them to the lusts of their own hearts, and the counsels of their own heads; if they do not well, the blame must be upon themselves. The Lord is unwilling that any should perish. What enemies sinners are to themselves! It is sin that makes our troubles long, and our salvation slow. Upon the same conditions of faith and obedience, do Christians hold those spiritual and eternal good things, which the pleasant fields and fertile hills of Canaan showed forth. Christ is the Bread of life; he is the Rock of salvation, and his promises are as honey to pious minds. But those who reject him as their Lord and Master, must also lose him as their Saviour and their reward.He should have fed them also - He would have given them prosperity, and their land would have produced abundantly of the necessities - even of the luxuries - of life. This is in accordance with the usual promises of the Scriptures, that obedience to God will be followed by national temporal prosperity. See Deuteronomy 32:13-14; 1 Timothy 4:8; Psalm 37:11. Compare the notes at Matthew 5:5.

With the finest of the wheat - Margin, as in Hebrew, with the fat of wheat. The meaning is, the best of the wheat - as the words fat and fatness are often used to denote excellence and abundance. Genesis 27:28, Genesis 27:39; Job 36:16; Psalm 36:8; Psalm 63:5; Psalm 65:11.

And with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee - Palestine abounded with bees, and honey was a favorite article of food. Genesis 43:11; Deuteronomy 8:8; Deuteronomy 32:13; 1 Samuel 14:25-26; Isaiah 7:15; Ezekiel 16:13; Matthew 3:4. Much of that which was obtained was wild honey, deposited by the bees in the hollows of trees, and as it would seem in the caverns of the rocks. Much of it was gathered also from rocky regions, and this was regarded as the most delicate and valuable. I do not know the cause of this, nor why honey in high and rocky countries should be more pure and white than that obtained from other places; but the whitest and the most pure and delicate honey that I have ever seen I found at Chamouni in Switzerland. Dr. Thomson (land and the Book, vol. ii. p. 362) says of the rocky region in the vicinity of Timnath, that "bees were so abundant in a wood at no great distance from this spot that the honey dropped down from the trees on the ground;" and that "he explored densely-wooded gorges in Hermon and in Southern Lebanon where wild bees are still found, both in trees and in the clefts of the rocks."

The meaning here is plain, that, if Israel had been obedient to God, he would have blessed them with abundance - with the richest and most coveted productions of the field. Pure religion - obedience to God - morality - temperance, purity, honesty, and industry, such as religion requires - are always eminently favorable to individual and national prosperity; and if a man or a nation desired to be most prospered, most successful in the lawful and proper objects of individual or national existence, and most happy, nothing would tend more to conduce to it than those virtues which piety enjoins and cultivates. Individuals and nations, even in respect to temporal prosperity, are most unwise, as well as most wicked, when they disregard the laws of God, and turn away from the precepts and the spirit of religion. It is true of nations, as it is of individuals, that "Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is," 1 Timothy 4:8.

13-16. Obedience would have secured all promised blessings and the subjection of foes. In this passage, "should have," "would have," &c., are better, "should" and "would" expressing God's intention at the time, that is, when they left Egypt. With honey; either,

1. Metaphorically, with all pleasant and precious fruits, and with all delights, as all necessaries may be expressed under the name of wheat. Or rather,

2. Properly; this land of Canaan being commended for its excellent and plentiful honey; and the bees there did oft-times harbour and make their honey in the holes of rocks and such-like places, from which it flowed down upon the ground. See Deu 32:13 1 Samuel 14:25,26. He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat,.... Or the "fat of the wheat (y)"; see Deuteronomy 32:14, with the finest flour of it: the Targum is,

"with the best bread of wheat;''

with the best of wheat, and the best bread that can be made of it: Aben Ezra interprets it of the manna, which was better than the fat, or finest, of the wheat, being the corn of heaven, and angels' food, Psalm 78:24, but it rather respects what the Israelites would have been continued to be fed with in the land of Canaan, which was a land of wheat, Deuteronomy 8:8, and such who hearken to the Lord, and walk in his ways, are fed by him with the Gospel, which is comparable to wheat, and the finest of it, for its choiceness and excellency, for its solidity and substantiality, for its purity and cleanness, and for its being of a nourishing and strengthening nature, see Jeremiah 38:28, and especially Christ, the sum and substance of the Gospel, may be figuratively meant, with whom the saints are fed, and who is compared to a corn of wheat, John 12:24 for his preciousness and excellency, for his purity and fruitfulness, and for being the food of his people, the bread of life, for which he was prepared by his sufferings and death; which may be fitly expressed by the threshing, winnowing, and grinding of wheat, and then of kneading the flour, and baking the bread:

and with honey out of the rock would I have satisfied thee; the land of Canaan abounded with hills and rocks, in which bees had their hives, and from whence honey dropped to lower places; and hence the land is said to flow with milk and honey, Exodus 3:8, nor is it unusual in other places to find honey in rocks; at Guadaloupe, in the West Indies, we are told (z), honey was found in trees and caves of rocks. Aben Ezra interprets this of the water which flowed out of the rock at Horeb, which was sweeter than honey; but the former sense is best: the rock spiritually and mystically designs Christ, the Rock of salvation, 1 Corinthians 10:4, the honey out of the rock, the fulness of grace in him, and the blessings of it, the sure mercies of David, and the precious promises of the everlasting covenant; and the Gospel, which is sweeter than the honey or the honeycomb; and with these such are filled and satisfied, who hearken to Christ, and walk in his ways; for, as the whole of what is here said shows what Israel lost by disobedience, it clearly suggests what such enjoy who hear and obey.

(y) "ex adipe frumenti", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Musculus; "adipe tritici", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; so Cocceius, Gejerus, Michaelis. (z) P. Martyr. Decad. 3. lib. 9.

He should have fed them also with the {n} finest of the wheat: and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee.

(n) That is, with most fine wheat and abundance of honey.

16. Tense and person both present serious difficulties, and it seems necessary to emend the text of the first line, and read:

Yea, I would feed him with the fat of wheat,

And with honey out of the rock would I satisfy thee.

Him = Israel. The transition to direct address in Psalm 50:2 (‘thee’) seems harsh, but is not uncommon in Heb. The third person ‘them’ or ‘him’ in LXX, Jer., Syr., is probably only a correction to avoid it. We have here another reminiscence of Deuteronomy 32, vv13, 14. Cp. Psalm 147:14. To an obedient people God would fulfil His ancient promises of blessing. Cp. Exodus 3:8; Deuteronomy 7:12-13; Deuteronomy 8:6 ff.Verse 16. - He should have fed them also; rather, he should feed. With the finest of the wheat; literally, with the fat of the wheat (comp. Deuteronomy 32:14 and Psalm 147:14). And with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee; rather, would I satisfy thee. The expression, "honey out of the rock," is taken from Deuteronomy 32:13. It evidently means "honey of the best" - native honey, stored by the bees in clefts of the rocks. Of course, both the "wheat" and the "honey" are metaphors, which we are to regard as shadowing forth all temporal and spiritual blessings.

It is a gentle but profoundly earnest festival discourse which God the Redeemer addresses to His redeemed people. It begins, as one would expect in a Passover speech, with a reference to the סבלות of Egypt (Exodus 1:11-14; Exodus 5:4; Exodus 6:6.), and to the duwd, the task-basket for the transport of the clay and of the bricks (Exodus 1:14; Exodus 5:7.).

(Note: In the Papyrus Leydensis i. 346 the Israelites are called the "Aperiu (עברים), who dragged along the stones for the great watch-tower of the city of Rameses," and in the Pap. Leyd. i. 349, according to Lauth, the "Aperiu, who dragged along the stones for the storehouse of the city of Rameses.")

Out of such distress did He free the poor people who cried for deliverance (Exodus 2:23-25); He answered them בּסתר רעם, i.e., not (according to Psalm 22:22; Isaiah 32:2): affording them protection against the storm, but (according to Psalm 18:12; Psalm 77:17.): out of the thunder-clouds in which He at the same time revealed and veiled Himself, casting down the enemies of Israel with His lightnings, which is intended to refer pre-eminently to the passage through the Red Sea (vid., Psalm 77:19); and He proved them (אבחנך, with ŏ contracted from ō, cf. on Job 35:6) at the waters of Merbah, viz., whether they would trust Him further on after such glorious tokens of His power and loving-kindness. The name "Waters of Merı̂bah," which properly is borne only by Merı̂bath Kadesh, the place of the giving of water in the fortieth year (Numbers 20:13; Numbers 27:14; Deuteronomy 32:51; Deuteronomy 33:8), is here transferred to the place of the giving of water in the first year, which was named Massah u-Merı̂bah (Exodus 17:7), as the remembrances of these two miracles, which took place under similar circumstances, in general blend together (vid., on Psalm 95:8.). It is not now said that Israel did not act in response to the expectation of God, who had son wondrously verified Himself; the music, as Seal imports, here rises, and makes a long and forcible pause in what is being said. What now follows further, are, as the further progress of Psalm 81:12 shows, the words of God addressed to the Israel of the desert, which at the same time with its faithfulness are brought to the remembrance of the Israel of the present. העיד בּ, as in Psalm 50:7; Deuteronomy 8:19, to bear testimony that concerns him against any one. אם (according to the sense, o si, as in Psalm 95:7, which is in many ways akin to this Psalm) properly opens a searching question which wishes that the thing asked may come about (whether thou wilt indeed give me a willing hearing?!). In Psalm 81:10 the key-note of the revelation of the Law from Sinai is struck: the fundamental command which opens the decalogue demanded fidelity to Jahve and forbade idol-worship as the sin of sins. אל זר is an idol in opposition to the God of Israel as the true God; and אל נכר, a strange god in opposition to the true God as the God of Israel. To this one God Israel ought to yield itself all the more undividedly and heartily as it was more manifestly indebted entirely to Him, who in His condescension had chosen it, and in His wonder-working might had redeemed it (המּעלך, part. Hiph. with the eh elided, like הפּדך, Deuteronomy 13:6, and אכלך, from כּלּה, Exodus 33:3); and how easy this submission ought to have been to it, since He desired nothing in return for the rich abundance of His good gifts, which satisfy and quicken body and soul, but only a wide-opened mouth, i.e., a believing longing, hungering for mercy and eager for salvation (Psalm 119:131)!

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