With chains.--The Hebrew word is peculiar to this passage, and is derived by the Rabbis from a root meaning to bind. Modern scholars give "to prosper" as the meaning of the root, and render, he bringeth the captives into prosperity.
Rebellious.--As in Psalm 66:7; stubborn, refractory.
In a dry land.--Or, desert.
It is natural, remembering the connection between the imagery of Psalm 68:4 and parts of the great prophet of the Return, to refer its expressions to those who were left behind in Babylon when the restoration took place.
(7?10) We come now to the first of three unmistakable historic retrospects--the rescue from Egypt, the conquest of Canaan, and the establishment of Jerusalem as the political and religious capital. In these patriotic recollections the poet is naturally inspired by the strains of former odes of victory and freedom. The music especially of Deborah's mighty song (Judges 5), which, directly or indirectly, coloured so much of later Hebrew poetry (see Deuteronomy 33:2; Habakkuk 3) is in his ears throughout.
Wentest forth . . . didst march.--The parallel clauses as well as the words employed have, in the sound and sequence, a martial tread. The latter word, "didst march," is peculiar to Judges 5, Habakkuk 3, and this psalm.
Even Sinai itself.--Better, this Sinai. (See Note, Judges 5:5, where the clause completing the parallelism, here omitted, is retained, and shows us that the predicate to be supplied here is melted.)
"The mountain melted from before Jehovah,
This Sinai from before Jehovah, God of Israel."
The demonstrative "this Sinai" appears more natural if we suppose the verse, even in Deborah's song, to be an echo or fragment of some older pieces contemporary with the Exodus itself. Such fragments of ancient poetry actually survive in some of the historical books--e.g., Numbers 21:17-18; Exodus 15:1-19.
"God is he that joins, couples single ones into a couple, as one:''
some copies add,
"to build an house out of them;''
that is, a family; see Ruth 4:11. But it may be better interpreted of the fruitfulness and increase of the church with converts, under the Gospel dispensation, even from among the Gentiles; who were before solitary, or were alone, without God and Christ, and aliens from the commonwealth of Israel; but being called and converted by the ministry of the word, were brought into and placed in Gospel churches, or families; see Isaiah 54:1; and may be applied to particular persons, who, before conversion, may be said to be "solitary" or alone; living without God, the knowledge and fear of him, and fellowship with him, being alienated from the life of him through ignorance; and without Christ, and communion with him, he not dwelling in them, nor they in him; and also sensual, not having the Spirit, his graces and fruits; being destitute of faith, hope, and love: and, moreover, aliens from the people of God, having no society with them, being in a state of solitude and darkness, and under the power of sin and Satan; helpless and "desolate", as the word here used rendered, Psalm 25:16. But, in effectual calling, such are brought out of this dismal state, and being drawn with the cords of love by the Spirit, to the Father and the Son, and brought to a spiritual acquaintance with them, they are "set in families", or placed in Gospel churches; which, as families, have a master over them, who is Christ the Son and firstborn, of whom they are named; where are saints of various ages, sizes, and standing; some fathers, some young men, and some children; where are provisions suitable for them, and stewards to give them their portion of meat in due season, who are the ministers of the word; and laws and rules, by which they are directed and regulated, and everything is kept in good decorum;
he bringeth out those which are bound with chains; as Peter and others literally, Acts 12:5; or rather it is to be understood spiritually of such as are bound with the chains of their own sins, and are under the power of them, with the fetters of the law, in which they are held, and who are led and kept captive by Satan; those Christ the Son makes free, proclaims liberty to them, says to such prisoners, Go forth; and, by the blood of his covenant, sends them forth, and directs them to himself, the strong hold, as prisoners of hope; see Isaiah 61:1. The Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions render it, "he bringeth forth the prisoners with fortitude"; so Apollinarius, "with his great power and strength"; and the Syriac version, with prosperity; or in a pompous manner, as the Targum. But the words may be better rendered, "he bringeth forth the prisoners", either as Ainsworth, "into fit (and commodious) places", or rather, "into the conveniencies" or "commodities": that is, of life, such as prisoners are destitute of;
but the rebellious dwell in a dry land; meaning the Jews, to whom Christ came, and whom they rejected, reviled, hated, and would not have him to reign over them, and were a gainsaying and disobedient people; for which their land was smitten with a curse, and in the time of their wars became a dry land; when famine and pestilence were everywhere, and such tribulation as was never known, Isaiah 8:21. Moreover, the nations of the world, among whom they are dispersed, are a dry land to them; and even such places as are become fruitful through the preaching of the Gospel are no other to them, who neither do hear it, nor will they hear it; and they are like persons in a dry and thirsty land, vainly expecting a Messiah, who will never come. This may also be applied to all that obey not the Gospel of Christ, who will be punished with everlasting destruction from his presence, and shall not have a drop of cold water allowed them to cool their tongue. The allusion may be thought to be to the Jews, that murmured and rebelled against God, and vexed his Spirit in the wilderness, where their carcasses fell; and so dwelt in a dry land, and entered not into rest, or the land of Canaan. The Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions, render it, "in graves"; Apollinarius paraphrases it,
"he bringeth the dead out of the graves to light.''