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4

As for what others do, by the word of your lips

I have avoided the ways of the violent.


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4. As for the works of men, by the word of thy lips. Interpreters explain this verse in different senses. Some thinking that the letter ב, beth, which commonly signifies in or by, is taken for against, render it thus: As for the works of men which they practice against thy word. But I rather incline to the opinion of others who consider that there is here commended a right judgment of the actions of men which is formed according to the rule of the word of God. There are some shrewd and ingenious persons who carefully mark the works of men, but they do not judge of them according to the word of God. What we have as yet said does not, however, fully give us the sense of the passage. We must still consider what the Psalmist means when he speaks of the paths of the destroyer. 349349     Or, the paths of the violent. Literally of him who, by violent means, makes a breach in, or breaks down a wall or fence, the word פריף, pharits, being derived from פרף, pharats, to break down, or break through. It is referred by Calvin to the violent and wicked conduct of his enemies towards him. Some think he refers to the men of his own company, who, if he had not restrained them, would have instantly rushed like robbers to commit depredation; since being reduced to the greatest distress, and seeing no prospect of an alteration to the better in their affairs, they were become bold through despair; and we know how sharp a spur necessity is in goading men forward in any course. But this exposition seems to me to be forced, and therefore I rather refer the words to his enemies. Farther, there is a diversity of opinion among interpreters with respect to the meaning of the word watched or observed. Some understand it in this sense, that David had done his duty in strenuously opposing outrageous men, and those who were wickedly engaged in the work of disturbing the repose and tranquillity of their fellow-men. 350350     “De troubler le repos et la tranquillite des autres.” — Fr. Others understand it thus, that he was careful to distinguish between good and evil, or right and wrong, that he might not be corrupted by bad examples, 351351     “Afin de n’estre point corrompu par mauvals exemples.” — Fr. but avoid them, and, on the contrary, practice those things which he saw to be agreeable to the word of God. But David, I have no doubt, had a different meaning, and intended to declare, that although wicked and malicious men provoked him to evil, he had, nevertheless, been always restrained by the word of God, so that he kept himself from exercising violence and inflicting injuries, or from rendering evil for evil. 352352     “or have kept me from the paths, etc. or observed the paths, viz., so as to avoid them.” — Poole’s Annotations. He therefore tells us, that whatever may have been the works of men, he had been always so devoted to the word of God, and so hung, as it were, upon his mouth, that he could not think of allowing himself, when provoked by the injuries his enemies inflicted on him, to act towards them as they acted towards him. We know how severe a temptation it is, and how difficult to overcome, to disregard the manner in which men behave themselves towards us, and to consider only what God forbids or commands us. Even those who are naturally inclined to gentleness and humanity, 353353     “Car mesme ceux qui sont de nature enclins a debonnairete.” — Fr. who desire to do good to all men, and wish to hurt nobody, whenever they are provoked, burst forth into a revengeful mood, carried away by a blind impetuosity; especially when we see all right and equity overthrown, the confusion so blinds us, that we begin to howl with the wolves. If, therefore, we would have a good rule for governing ourselves, when our enemies, by their mischievous actions, provoke us to treat them in a similar manner, let us learn, after the example of David, to meditate upon the word of God, and to keep our eyes fixed upon it. By this means our minds will be preserved from ever being blinded, and we shall always avoid the paths of wickedness, seeing God will not only keep our affections under restraint by his commandments, but will also train them to patience by his promises. He withholds us from doing evil to our neighbors, 354354     “De real faire a nos prochains.” — Fr. not only by forbidding us, but by declaring, at the same time, that he will take into his own hand the execution of vengeance on those who injure us, 355355     “Qu’il prendra en main la vengence contre ceux qui nous outragent.” — Fr. he admonishes us to “give place unto wrath,” (Romans 12:19.)




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