Psalm 74:1

O God, why hast thou cast us off for ever? why doth thine anger smoke against the sheep of thy pasture?

O God, why hast thou cast us off for ever?..... This the church supposed because of the prevalence, oppression, and triumph of the enemy, because of the hardships and afflictions she laboured under, and because of the hidings of the face of God from her, which unbelief interpreted of a casting off; see Psalms 77:7 when in reality it was not so, only in appearance, and according to a wrong judgment made of things; for God never did nor never will cast off, nor cast away, his people whom he foreknew, Romans 11:1,

why doth thine anger smoke against the sheep of thy pasture? the people of God are called "sheep", because subject to go astray, not only before conversion, but after; and because harmless and inoffensive in their lives and conversations; and because, though exposed to the insults and persecutions of men, and their butcheries and barbarities, and therefore called "the flock of slaughter", Zechariah 11:4, yet bear all patiently, as the sheep before her shearers is dumb; and because like sheep they are weak and timorous, unable to defend themselves; are clean, and so distinguished from dogs and swine; and are profitable, though not to God, yet to men, and one another; and like sheep are sociable, and love to be together: and they are called the sheep of the Lord's pasture; because he provides good pasture for them, leads them into it, and feeds them himself with Christ, the bread of life, the tree of life, and hidden manna; with covenant grace and promises, even the sure mercies of David; with discoveries of his love and grace, and with his word and ordinances; and yet these, when under afflictions and desertions, are ready to conclude that God is angry with them, yea, is very angry; that his anger burns against them, and his fierce wrath goes over them, signified by smoking; see Deuteronomy 19:20, alluding to men, who, when they are angry, become hot, as Kimchi observes, and their breath like smoke comes out of their nostrils.

{k} Bochart. Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 3. c. 29. col. 984.
{l} Vid. T. Bab. Gittin, fol. 56. 2.