Psalm 74:9
We see not our signs: there is no more any prophet: neither is there among us any that knoweth how long.
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(9) We see not our signs . . .—It is natural to take this statement in direct contrast to what Psalm 74:4 (see Note) says of the heathen signs. While these abominations—rallying points of savage profanity—were visibly set up, the tokens of the invisible God’s presence, His wonders wrought for Israel, are no more seen.

There is no more any prophet.—This was the constant lament of the Maccabæan period (1 Maccabees 4:46; 1 Maccabees 9:27; 1 Maccabees 14:41), and suits no earlier time—at least none into which the rest of the psalm would fit. During the exile period Jeremiah and Ezekiel were prophesying, and the complaint took quite a different form then and probably for some time afterwards (Lamentations 2:9; Ezekiel 7:26). The full desolation of the situation is told in “Song of the Three Children,” Psalm 74:15; “Neither is there at this time prince, or prophet, or leader, or burnt offering, or sacrifice, or oblation, or incense, or place to sacrifice before Thee or find mercy.”

Neither is there among us any that knoweth how long.—This, too, carries us on past the time of Jeremiah, who had given an exact date for the termination of the exile. Probably (if the arrangement of the words is right) we have here another expression of a widely-spread feeling—a feeling which inspired the apocalyptic literature, which had for its object partly to answer this question, how long? But it has been suggested, as more in the Hebrew style, to end the clause with the word know, and make it directly parallel with the preceding (“there is neither a prophet nor one who knows”), and carry on the interrogative to the next verse, where its repetition would add much to the force of the question there put. (Burgess.)

Psalm 74:9. We see not our signs — Those tokens of God’s gracious presence with us, which we and our ancestors used to enjoy. There is no more any prophet — Either, 1st, Any public teacher. We have few or none left to instruct us in the law of God, and in divine things. Or, 2d, Any extraordinary prophet, who can foretel things to come, as the next words explain it. For as for Jeremiah and Ezekiel, they might be dead when this Psalm was composed; and Daniel was involved in civil affairs, and did not teach the people as a prophet; and the prophetical spirit, which sometimes came upon him, and made those great discoveries to him which we read in his book, might possibly at this time suspend his influences. Besides, it is not unusual, in Scripture, to say there is none of a sort of persons or things, when there is a very great scarcity of them. Bishop Patrick thinks what is here said respecting there being no prophet, to tell the Jews how long the captivity would last, is a proof that this Psalm was written toward the end of that captivity.

74:1-11 This psalm appears to describe the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Chaldeans. The deplorable case of the people of God, at the time, is spread before the Lord, and left with him. They plead the great things God had done for them. If the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt was encouragement to hope that he would not cast them off, much more reason have we to believe, that God will not cast off any whom Christ has redeemed with his own blood. Infidels and persecutors may silence faithful ministers, and shut up places of worship, and say they will destroy the people of God and their religion together. For a long time they may prosper in these attempts, and God's oppressed servants may see no prospect of deliverance; but there is a remnant of believers, the seed of a future harvest, and the despised church has survived those who once triumphed over her. When the power of enemies is most threatening, it is comfortable to flee to the power of God by earnest prayer.We see not our signs - The emblems of worship, or the national emblems or banners, which we have been accustomed to see. There are no signals or tokens of our nationality in the land. All have been removed by the invaders, and we see everywhere evidences of the presence of a foreign power. The marks of our own independency are gone. The nation is subdued and conquered.

There is no more any prophet - No one is raised up as the special messenger of God to assure us of his favor, or to take the lead in the national troubles. In times of danger God had been accustomed to send to them some special teacher who would declare his will, direct the nation what to do, and give encouraging assurances that the national troubles would cease, and that deliverance would come. They saw no such messengers of God now. This is not inconsistent with the supposition that this psalm was written before the captivity, and in the time of the Chaldean invasion, or with the supposition that Jeremiah was then alive, for the meaning may be, not that literally there was no prophet in the land, but that there was no one who had come from God as a special messenger of comfort and deliverance. Ruin had come upon them, and there were no indications of divine interposition in their behalf.

Neither is there among us any that knoweth how long - How long these calamities are to continue. No one can tell when they are to end. The prophetic office seemed to have ceased among them. It was renewed, however, after the captivity, in the case of Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, and Malachi.

9. signs—of God's presence, as altar, ark, &c. (compare Ps 74:4; 2Ch 36:18, 19; Da 5:2).

no more any prophet—(Isa 3:2; Jer 40:1; 43:6).

how long—this is to last. Jeremiah's prophecy (Jer 25:11), if published, may not have been generally known or understood. To the bulk of the people, during the captivity, the occasional and local prophetical services of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel would not make an exception to the clause, "there is no more any prophet."

Our signs, i.e. those tokens of God’s gracious presence which we and our ancestors formerly used to enjoy; either,

1. Miracles wrought for us, which are called

signs, Psalm 78:43 135:9. Or,

2. The ordinances of God, the temple, and ark, and sacrifices, and solemn feasts, all which were signs between God and his people.

Any prophet: either,

1. Any teacher. We have few or no teachers left to us. Or,

2. Any extraordinary prophet, who can foretell things to come, as the next words explain it. For as for Ezekiel and Jeremiah, they might be dead when this Psalm was composed; and Daniel was involved in civil affairs, and did not teach the people as a prophet; and the prophetical Spirit which sometimes came upon him, and made those great discoveries to him which we read in his book, might possibly at this time suspend his influences. Besides, it is not unusual in Scripture, to say that there is none of a sort of persons or things, when there is a very great scarcity of them. But others make this their great argument, that this Psalm speaks of that persecution in the time of Antiochus, when indeed there was no prophet at all.

How long; either,

1. How long their captivity should continue; for though seventy years were determined, yet there might arise doubts among them, as there now are among us, whence they were to be computed, which might make their end uncertain. Or,

2. How long they should lie under reproach, as it follows, Psalm 74:10, which they really did, and might foresee that they should, even after the expiration of their captivity, Nehemiah 1:3.

We see not our signs,.... Either such miracles as were formerly wrought to support the faith of God's people in distress, and for their deliverance out of it, as when they were in Egypt, and brought forth from thence; see Psalm 78:43 or rather their sabbaths and sacrifices, the passover and circumcision, and other ordinances and institutions of divine worship; which were signs of the presence of God with them, and of Christ, and blessings of grace, and good things to come by him; which ceased, or were interrupted in their captivity, and which the godly lament: or the signs of redemption, as Kimchi; and may be interpreted of the blindness and stupidity of the greater part of them, who could not discern the signs of the times, as before the destruction of the city and temple, Matthew 16:3 so after it, when these being destroyed, and they in the hands of the Romans, might easily have perceived that the sceptre was departed from Judah, and therefore Shiloh must be come, or the Messiah; who also must have been in his temple, and Daniel's weeks be up; but these signs they saw not, nor do they yet: and so though the signs of the latter day are upon us, we see them not, or at least very few take notice of them, and lament them; such as a very great departure from the faith of the Gospel, a neglect of Gospel worship and ordinances, coldness and lukewarmness in matters of religion, want of love to Christ and his people, a general sleepiness and security, a form of religion without the power of it, a name to live and be dead, and iniquity abounding even among professors of religion; besides the frequent signs in heaven and in earth; see Matthew 24:12,

there is no more any prophet; there were but few in the Babylonish captivity, and after Malachi there were none; there were none in the times of Antiochus; there were none till John the forerunner of Christ came; and in the latter day the two prophets that prophesy in sackcloth will be slain, and there will be no prophesying for a while, Revelation 11:7. Kimchi explains it, there is no prophet yet, and interprets it thus, Elijah the prophet is not yet come:

neither is there among us any that knoweth how long; the calamity will endure, and ere deliverance will come; how long the Babylonish captivity would continue was known, that it would be seventy years, and no longer; the prophets that searched after the time of salvation and redemption by Christ knew how long it would be to it; Daniel fixed the exact time of it; but how long the present times will last we know not, or how long it is to the end of wonders; or when will end the 1260 days of the reign of antichrist, of the church's being in the wilderness, of the holy city being trodden under foot by the Gentiles, and of the witnesses prophesying in sackcloth.

We see not our signs: there is no more any prophet: neither is there among us any that knoweth {f} how long.

(f) They lamented that they had no prophet among them to show them how long their misery would last.

9. our signs] The outward and visible symbols of our religion, such as sabbath and festival, which God “had caused to be forgotten in Zion” (Lamentations 2:6). The sabbath is spoken of as a sign in Exodus 31:13; Exodus 31:17; Ezekiel 20:12; Ezekiel 20:20. The words would of course be specially appropriate to the time at which Antiochus attempted to suppress all the distinctive ordinances of the Jewish religion (1Ma 1:45-46; 1Ma 1:60-61). Note the contrast with the ‘signs’ of hostile domination, Psalm 74:4.

there is no more any prophet] A characteristic of the Maccabaean age (1Ma 4:46; 1Ma 9:27; 1Ma 14:41): but the complaints of the exile are not dissimilar (Lamentations 2:9; Ezekiel 7:26); and even after the Return the angel in Zechariah’s vision (Zechariah 1:12) asks ‘How long?’

Verse 9. - We see not our signs. Some suppose "standards" to be meant, as in ver. 4, where the same word is used; but it is, perhaps, better to understand, with Dr. Kay, "Divine ordinances, which were standing signs of God's presence - as the tabernacle, the sacrifices, the sabbaths." There is no more any prophet. It has been said that this shows the psalm not to have been written on the occasion of the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, since Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel were, all of them, then living. But the writer only means to say that there are no prophets in Palestine, where he is residing. Jeremiah in Egypt, Ezekiel on the banks of Chebar, Daniel in Babylon, are nothing to him, even if he knows of their existence, and in no way fill up the gap whereof he complains. Neither is there among us any who knoweth how long. Jeremiah's prophecy of the seventy years (Jeremiah 25:11, 12) did net remove the doubt, since it was uncertain from what event the seventy years were to be counted. Jeremiah's prophecies, moreover, were not yet, in all probability, collected into a volume, and so may not have been known to the psalmist. Psalm 74:9The worst thing the poet has to complain of is that God has not acknowledged His people during this time of suffering as at other times. "Our signs" is the direct antithesis to "their sings" (Psalm 74:4), hence they are not to be understood, after Psalm 86:17, as signs which God works. The suffix demands, besides, something of a perpetual character; they are the instituted ordinances of divine worship by means of which God is pleased to stand in fellowship with His people, and which are now no longer to be seen because the enemies have set them aside. The complaint "there is not prophet any more" would seem strange in the period immediately after the destruction of Jerusalem, for Jeremiah's term of active service lasted beyond this. Moreover, a year before (in the tenth year of Zedekiah's reign) he had predicted that the Babylonian domination, and relatively the Exile, would last seventy years; besides, six years before the destruction Ezekiel appeared, who was in communication with those who remained behind in the land. The reference to Lamentations 2:9 (cf. Ezekiel 7:26) does not satisfy one; for there it is assumed that there were prophets, a fact which is here denied. Only perhaps as a voice coming out of the Exile, the middle of which (cf. Hosea 3:4; 2 Chronicles 15:3, and besides Canticum trium puerorum, Psalm 74:14 : καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν τῷ καιρῷ τούτῳ ἄρχων καὶ προφήτης καὶ ἡγούμενος) was truly thus devoid of signs or miracles, and devoid of the prophetic word of consolation, can Psalm 74:9 be comprehended. The seventy years of Jeremiah were then still a riddle without any generally known solution (Daniel 9). If, however, synagogues are meant in Psalm 74:8, Psalm 74:9 now too accords with the like-sounding lament in the calamitous times of Antiochus (1 Macc. 4:46; 9:27; 14:41). In Psalm 74:10 the poet turns to God Himself with the question "How long?" how long is this (apparently) endless blaspheming of the enemy to last? Why dost Thou draw back (viz., ממּנוּ, from us, not עלינוּ, Psalm 81:15) Thy hand and Thy right hand? The conjunction of synonyms "Thy hand and Thy right hand" is, as in Psalm 44:4, Sirach 33:7, a fuller expression for God's omnipotent energy. This is now at rest; Psalm 74:11 calls upon it to give help by an act of judgment. "Out of the midst of Thy bosom, destroy," is a pregnant expression for, "drawing forth out of Thy bosom the hand that rests inactive there, do Thou destroy." The Chethb חוקך has perhaps the same meaning; for חוק, Arab. ḥawq, signifies, like חיק, Arab. ḥayq, the act of encompassing, then that which encompasses. Instead of מחיקך (Exodus 4:7) the expression is מקּרב חיקך, because there, within the realm of the bosom, the punitive justice of God for a time as it were slumbers. On the כלּה, which outwardly is without any object, cf. Psalm 59:14.
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