9. Let the malice of the wicked come to an end I beseech thee and direct thou the righteous:for God who is righteous, proves [or searches] the hearts and the reins. 10. My defense [or shield] is in God, who saves the upright in heart. 11. God judgeth the righteous, and him who despiseth God, daily.
9. Let the malice of the wicked come to an endow I beseech thee. David, in the first place, prays that God would restrain the malice of his enemies, and bring it to an end; from which it follows, that his affliction had been of long duration. Others suppose that this is rather a dreadful imprecation, and they explain the Hebrew word rmg , gamar, somewhat differently. Instead of rendering it to cease, and to come to an end, as I have done, they understand it to make to cease, which is equivalent to destroy or to consume.1 Thus, according to them, David wishes that God would cause the mischief which the wicked devise to fall upon their own heads: Let the wickedness of the wicked consume them. But, in my opinion, the former interpretation is the more simple, namely, that David beseeches God to bring his troubles to a termination. Accordingly there follows immediately after the corresponding prayer Direct thou the righteous, or establish him; for it is of little importance which of these two readings we adopt. The meaning is, that God would re-establish and uphold the righteous, who are wrongfully oppressed, and thus make it evident that they are continued in their estate by the power of God, notwithstanding the persecution to which they are subjected.--For God searcheth the hearts. The Hebrew copulative is here very properly translated by the causal particle for, since David, without doubt, adds this clause as an argument to enforce his prayer. He now declares, for the third time, that, trusting to the testimony of a good conscience, he comes before God with confidence; but here he expresses something more than he had done before, namely, that he not only showed his innocence, by his external conduct, but had also cultivated purity in the secret affection of his heart. He seems to set this confidence in opposition to the insolence and boasting of his enemies, by whom, it is probable, such calumnies had been circulated among the people concerning him, as constrained him in his deep affliction to present his heart and reins to be tried by God. Perhaps, also, he speaks in this manner, in order to divest them of all those plausible but false and deceitful pretenses, which they made use of for the purpose of deceiving men, and if they succeeded in doing this they were satisfied.2 He shows that, although they might triumph before the world, and receive the applause of the multitude, they, nevertheless, gained nothing, inasmuch as they would, by and by, have to make their appearance before the judgment-seat of God, where the question would not be, What were their titles? or, What was the splendour of their actions? but how it stood as to the purity of their hearts.
10. My shield. It is not wonderful that David often mingles meditations with his prayers, thereby to inspire himself with true confidence. We may go to God in prayer with great alacrity; but our fervour, if it does not gather new strength, either immediately fails or begins to languish. David, therefore, in order to continue in prayer with the same ardour of devotion and affection with which he commenced, brings to his recollection some of the most common truths of religion, and by this means fosters and invigorates his faith. He declares, that as God saves the upright in heart, he is perfectly safe under his protection. Whence it follows, that he had the testimony of an approving conscience. And, as he does not simply say the righteous, but the upright in heart, he appears to have an eye to that inward searching of the heart and reins mentioned in the preceding verse.
11. God judgeth the righteous etc. Others read, God is a righteous Judge, and God is angry every day. The words will certainly admit of this sense; but as the doctrine is fuller according to the first reading, I have preferred following it, as I see it is more approved of by the most learned divines, and, besides, it is more suitable to the subject which David is now considering. As Saul and his accomplices had, by their calumnious reports, so far succeeded in their wicked design as to have produced a general prejudice against David, so that he was condemned by almost the whole people, the holy man supports himself from this one consideration, that whatever may be the confusion of things in the world, God, notwithstanding, can easily discern between the righteous and the wicked. He, therefore, appeals from the false judgments of men to Him who can never be deceived. It may, however, be asked, How does the Psalmist represent God as judging every day, when we see him delaying punishment frequently for a long time? The sacred writings certainly most justly celebrate his long-suffering; but, although he exercises patience long, and does not immediately execute his judgments, yet, as no time passes, yea, not even a day, in which he does not furnish the clearest evidence that he discerns between the righteous and the wicked, notwithstanding the confusion of things in the world, it is certain that he never ceases to execute the office of a judge. All who will be at the trouble to open their eyes to behold the government of the world, will distinctly see that the patience of God is very different from approbation or connivance. Surely, then, his own people will confidently betake themselves to him every day.