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All the wicked of the earth you count as dross;

therefore I love your decrees.

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119. Thou hast made all the wicked of the earth to cease as dross. The meaning of this verse is similar to that of the preceding. By the similitude employed, there is described a sudden and an unexpected change, when their imaginative glory and happiness become dissipated in smoke. It is to be observed, that the vengeance of God against the wicked is not all at once manifested, so that they completely perish, or are exterminated from the earth; but as God, in rooting them out one after another, shows himself to be the judge of the world, and that he is purging the earth of them, it is not wonderful to find the prophet speaking of their destruction in this manner; for the Hebrew verbs often denote a continued act. As God, then, executes his judgments by little and little, and often suspends punishment until he see that the wicked abuse his long-suffering; it becomes us, on our part, to continue patiently waiting until, as a heathen writer observes, he compensate the delay of the punishment, by its severity when inflicted. It is abundantly evident, that the particle of similitude, as, is to be supplied before the word dross 440440     “Before the noun סגים, rendered dross, the particle כ, of similitude, is understood, so that the Psalmist says, ‘Thou hast entirely removed (made to cease) all the wicked of the earth as dross,’ which is removed from metals by fusion, or from corn by winnowing. The society of men is as a mass of metal in which the wicked are as rust and dross. The judgments of God, which are searching, will cause a separation of the dross from the metal, and thus He will destroy the one and preserve the other.” — Phillips Nor do I reject the opinion of those who assert, that the wicked are compared to dross, because, so long as they are mingled among the faithful as dregs, they infect and contaminate them; but when they are removed as scum, the purity of the godly shines forth with improved lustre. In the second place, the prophet adds, that the judgments of God were not without fruit in him, since they led him to love the doctrine of the law the more. Those who are not induced to commit themselves to the protection of God, whenever, by lifting up his hand, he shows that the world is governed by his power, must certainly be very perverse; but when, of his own good pleasure, he offers himself to us by his word, those who do not make haste to embrace so great a boon are stupid indeed. On the other hand, when he connives for a long time at the wickedness of men, devout affection, which should ravish us with the love of God’s word, languishes.