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ON THE PUBLICATION OF THE DECREE OF CYRUS, PERMITTING THE JEWS TO RETURN TO THEIR OWN LAND.
The Psalmist acknowledges the favour of God in the deliverance of his people from captivity, 1–3; he prayeth that it may be complete, 4–7; he comforteth himself in the goodness and faithfulness of God, 8–9; and in the return of righteousness and plenty, 10-13.
To the chief Musician. A Psalm for the Sons of Korah.
1 LORD, thou hast been 'favourable unto thy land, Thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob. 2 Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, Thou hast covered all their sin. Selah!
3 Thou hast taken away all thy wrath,
Thou hast turned 'thyself from the fierceness of thine
4 Turn us, O God of our salvation!
And cause thine anger toward us to cease.
5 Wilt thou be angry with us forever?
Wilt thou draw out thine anger to all generations?
6 Wilt thou not revive us again,
That thy people may rejoice in thee?
7 Show us thy mercy, O LORD,
And grant us thy salvation.
8 I will hear what God the LORD will speak;
For he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints;
But let them not turn again to folly.
9 Surely fhis salvation is nigh them that fear him,
That glory may dwell in our land.
1 Or, well pleased, Psa. 77.7.
a Jer. 80. 18. and 81. 28. Ezek. 39. 25. Joel 8. 1.
2 Or, thine anger from wax
ing hot, Deut. 13. 17.
b Hab. 8. 2.
© Hab. 2. 1.
d Zec. 9. 10.
e 2 Peter 2. 20, 21.
f Isa. 46. 18.
8 Zech. 2. 5. John 1. 14.
10 Mercy and truth are met together,
And righteousness shall look down from heaven.
i Isa. 45. 8.
h Psa. 72. 8. Isa. 32. 17. Luke 2. 14.
k James 1. 17.
INTRODUCTION TO PSALMS CVII, CXI, CXII, CXIII, CXIV, AND CXVI.
On the arrival of the first colony of returning Jews at Jerusalem, under the conduct of Zerubbabel, as they surveyed the ruins of their city, and beheld the magnitude of the work before them, "the chief of the fathers" offered liberally of their substance for the rebuilding of the temple. Their first care, however, was to search out their ancient lands and places of residence throughout all the cities of Judah, and to prepare for themselves and their families a temporary abode. Their lands and vineyards also required a brief attention, and having made these hasty arrangements for their own subsistence, they immediately turned attention to their ruined city and temple. On the seventh month (September) of the same year of their arrival in the land, "the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem." Here a melancholy prospect was presented to their view. The Chaldeans had completely demolished the walls of the city, levelled the temple, palace, and houses of the nobility to the ground, destroyed their altars, and burned their city with fire. One confused heap of desolation covered the site of their once proud and beautiful metropolis. The mind can scarcely conceive the feelings of those venerable fathers, as their eyes wandered over these fields of undistinguish
able ruins, and recalled the ancient splendour and glory of Zion. But home, country, national pride, and, above all, veneration for the religion of their ancestors, inspired them with zeal to undertake the appalling labour of reviving their nation from its ashes.
In resuscitating their city from its ruins they began with their temple edifice. But as even this would involve considerable delay, and as the services of religion were important, they first reared their "altar" before they prepared to lay the foundations of the temple. Religion was the basis of their commonwealth, and the source of all their national greatness and prosperity. The Jews had long been "without a sacrifice and without an ephod." Their captivity had humbled their pride, and effectually cured them of all their idolatrous propensities. They now sought with zeal to restore and establish the pure system of Moses, and to follow the light of their faithful prophets. Mournful, indeed, among these heaps of desolation were their first attempts to revive the altar of daily sacrifice. Yet, here, amid the blackened ruins of their temple, they now assembled to pay their earliest vows to Jehovah their sovereign.
The great altar, in the temple of Solomon, stood in the middle of the second court, or "holy place," directly before the portal of the "holy of holies." Here were offered the daily sacrifices, morning and evening, and all other sacrifices, ordinary and extraordinary, made by fire. The most constant and important services of the sanctuary, were performed upon this altar. The exiles, therefore, carefully sought out the place where it formerly stood, and rebuilt it before the foundation stones of the temple were laid.
"Then stood up Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God. And they set the altar upon his bases; for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the Lord, even burnt offerings morning and evening. They kept also the feast of Tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the custom, as the
duty of every day required; and afterward offered the continual burnt offering, both of the new-moons and of all the set feasts of the Lord that were consecrated, and of every one that willingly offered a freewill offering unto the Lord. From the first day of the seventh month began they to offer burnt offerings unto the Lord. But the foundation of the temple of the Lord was not yet laid." Ezra iii, 2–6.
In the restoration of their religion, the returned exiles beheld with rapture the germ of the future nation; and in accepting their sacrifices Jehovah renewed his covenant, and restored them to the dignity of their ancient privileges. This, then, was an epoch in their restoration which we may well suppose was celebrated with joyful thanksgiving; and for a while they suspended all public work to give attention to their different festivals, and to the services of the altar.
Psalm cvii is applicable to this date, with peculiar marks of internal evidence. It was sung just after the restoration from bondage, verses 2, 3; at a joyful public assembly of the nation, verse 32; at an occasion of public sacrifice and thanksgiving, verse 22; after they had begun to till the land and receive its fruits, verses 35-37; before they had builded their city, verse 36. Everywhere, recent deliverance from trouble, and recent restoration to national blessings are intimated. Verse 13,
"For he hath broken the gates of brass, And cut the bars of iron in sunder,"
is exactly parallel to, and a quotation of, Isaiah xlv, 2,
"I will break in pieces the gates of brass, And cut in sunder the bars of iron;"
and refers to the taking of Babylon by Cyrus. (Vide Introduction to Psalm cii, &c.) Read Ezra iii, 1-7.
ON THE ERECTION OF THE GREAT ALTAR AT JERUSALEM, AFTER THE RETURN OF THE EXILES.
The Psalmist exhorteth the redeemed captives to praise the Lord, 1-3; he compareth their former condition to that of weary travellers, 4–9; to captives, 10–16; to sick men, 17-22; to mariners in a storm, 23-31; he calleth upon the assembly of elders, and the congregation, to praise the Lord, 32; because he had restored their land to fruitfulness, 33–37; and increased their herds, 38; and broken the power of their oppressors, 39, 40; and blessed the families of Israel with increase and lovingkindness, 41-43.
10 give thanks unto the LORD, for a he is good,
For his mercy endureth forever.
2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,
Whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;
3 And gathered them out of the lands,
From the east, and from the west,
From the north, and 'from the south.
4 They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way, They found no city to dwell in.
5 Hungry and thirsty,
Their soul fainted in them.
6 Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, And he delivered them out of their distresses.
7 And he led them forth by the right way,
a Mat. 19. 17.
1 Heb. from the sea.
That they might go to a city of habitation.
8 O that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, And for his wonderful works to the children of men! 9 For dhe satisfieth the longing soul,
And filleth the hungry soul with goodness.