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We will not ride upon horses:
Such is a specimen of the affecting and earnest appeals of Hosea and Micah to the kingdom of Israel at this crisis of their history. Similar admonitions and exhortations also were addressed to Judah, in all which the lofty strains of Isaiah at this time coincide. Meanwhile, the messengers of King Hezekiah pass through the land to awaken the people to a just appreciation of their danger and their present duty. “And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, to keep the passover unto the Lord God of Israel. . . . So the posts went with the letters from the king and his princes throughout all Israel and Judah, and according to the commandment of the king, saying, ‘Ye children of Israel, turn again unto the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and he will return unto the remnant of you, that are escaped out of the hand of the kings of Assyria. And be not ye like your fathers, and like your brethren, which trespassed against the Lord God of their fathers, who therefore gave them up to desolation, as ye see. Now be ye not stiff-necked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves unto the Lord, and enter into his sanctuary, which he hath sanctified forever; and serve the Lord your God, that the fierceness of his wrath may turn away from you. For if ye turn again unto the Lord, your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that lead them captive, so that they shall come again into this land: for the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him.”
“So the posts passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh even unto Zebulun: but they laughed them to scorn, and mocked them. Nevertheless, divers of Asher and Manasseh and of Zebulun humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem. Also in Judah the hand of God was to give them one heart to do the commandment of the king and of the princes, by the word of the Lord.” Read 2 Kings xvi, xvii and xviii, 1–8.; 2 Chronicles xxviii, xxix and xxx, 1–12; Micah iii to vii; Isaiah xvii.; Hosea vii to xiv.
Psalm lxxx appears to have been written on occasion of Hezekiah's efforts to reform the state of religion in the two kingdoms. The first verse recognises Jehovah as abiding “between the cherubim,” and this supposes the temple to be yet standing when the Psalm was penned. “Ephraim and Manasseh” are spoken of as representative tribes of Israel, and “Benjamin” as the representative tribe of the kingdom of Judah, (verse 2.) which implies that these kingdoms are still in existence. The general allusions in the Psalm to the wasted and desolated state of the Hebrew family, represented under the figure of a “vine,” and of their declension in religion, exactly fits the times of Hezekiah; while the earnest and sublime appeal to God for help, coincides with the spirit and efforts of the reformation going on under the auspices of the good king. The eye of the Psalmist is on the distracted and devastated state of the country, upon which the “wild boar out of the wood” had committed his lawless depredations. (Verse 13.) This “wild boar,” the fiercest and most destructive of wild animals, was the haughty Assyrian monarch. In the ancient Greek version the title of this Psalm reads, “A Psalm concerning the Assyrian,” evidently referring to Shalmaneser. Calvin, Hengstenberg and Alexander consider the Psalm as chiefly directed to the kingdom of Israel as distinct from Judah. This sufficiently coincides with the occasion and place we have assigned it in this arrangement. Patrick places the Psalm in the reign of Hezekiah, after the invasion of Sennacherib, and considers it as a complaint of the ruinous state of things after all his efforts to reform the people. As they would substantially agree, we have felt at liberty to use them as authority for the present designation of the occasion of the Psalm.
ON THE DEPLORABLE STATE OF ISRAEL AT THE TIME OF THE REFORMATION OF RELIGION BY HEZEKLAH.
The Psalmist in his prayer complaineth of the miseries of God's people, 1–6; he prayeth for the return of the Divine favour, 7; he rehearseth God's former mercies and judgments toward his people, 8–13; he prayeth for the restoration of his people, 14–19.
T To the chief Musician upon Shoshannim-Eduth, [i. e., upon the lily-shaped instrument, a lyric song.] A Psalm of Asaph.
1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel! Thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; Thou" that dwellest between the cherubim, shine forth. * Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh stir up thy strength, And 'come and save us. * Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine; And we shall be saved. 4 O LORD God of hosts! How long 'wilt thou be angry against the prayer of thy people? * Thou feedest them with the bread of tears; And givest them tears to drink in great measure. * Thou makest us a strife unto our neighbours; And our enemies laugh among themselves. 7 Turn us again, O God of hosts' And cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved. * Thou hast brought "a vine out of Egypt: Thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it. * Thou “preparedst room before it, a Exod. 25.20, 22. * Heb. wilt thou smoke. b Isa. 5.1, T. Jer. 2. 21. Ezek. And didst cause it to take deep root, And it filled the land. 10 The hills were covered with the shadow of it, And the boughs thereof were like 'the goodly cedars. 11 She sent out her boughs unto the sea, And her branches unto the river. 1° Why hast thou then broken down her hedges, So that all they which pass by the way do pluck her? 13 The boar out of the wood doth waste it, And the wild beast of the field doth devour it. 14 Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts; Look "down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine, 15 And the vineyard which thy right hand hath planted, And the branch that thou madest strong for thyself. 16. It is burned with fire, it is cut down: They perish at the rebuke of thy countenance. 17 Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, Upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself. 18 So will not we go back from thee: Quicken us, and we will call upon thy name. 19 Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts! Cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.
* Heb. come for salvation Psa. 74.1. 15. 6. and 17. 6. and 19. 10. to us. * Exod. 23. 28. Jos. 34. 12.
INTRODUCTION TO PSALM XLIV.
PSALM OF KORAH.
In the preceding Introduction we saw Hoshea, the wicked king of Israel, and Hezekiah, the good king of Judah, both subjected to tribute to the kings of Assyria. We saw, also, Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, watching with a jealous eye the movements of both these Hebrew monarchs. Hezekiah, basing all his hopes of prosperity upon the blessing of God, earnestly endeavoured to reform the state of religion, and bring both kingdoms to an acknowledgment of the institutes of Moses. For this purpose he sent messengers through both kingdoms, and to the kingdom of Israel he sent especially written letters. Hoshea, indeed, permitted his messengers to pass peacefully through his dominions, but gave no heed to his admonitions. His own plans were very differently laid. As a whole, the efforts of Hezekiah in the kingdom of Israel were a failure. Three years later Hoshea joins affinity with the king of Egypt, and throws off the Assyrian yoke. This drew again the Assyrian army into the country, who now completed the overthrow of the kingdom of Israel and reduced it to an Assyrian province, in the sixth year of Hezekiah's reign. Five years the Assyrian army remained in the Phoenician territory, warring with the Tyrians. But notwithstanding the impending terror of the Assyrian arms, upon the death of Shalmaneser Hezekiah “rebelled against the king of Assyria and served him not.” This act brought upon Hezekiah the most serious troubles of his reign. At the same time it furnished an occasion for an illustrious display of the piety of the king and of the providence of God toward the nation.
Sennacherib, who succeeded Shalmaneser, was an imperious and haughty monarch, and immediately marched a powerful army into Palestine, laying waste the country and subjugating the cities of Judah. The Prophet Isaiah had foretold the invasion of Sennacherib, after the revolt of Hezekiah, in language which was calculated to alarm the king, and engage him to put his kingdom in a state of defence. It was a moment of