11. He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten it:he hideth his face that he may never see it. 12. Arise, O Jehovah God, lift up thine hand:forget not the poor. 13. Why do the wicked despise God? He saith in his heart, Thou wilt not require it.
11. He hath said in his heart. The Psalmist again points out the source from which the presumption of the ungodly proceeds. Because God seems to take no notice of their wicked practices, they flatter themselves with the hope of escaping unpunished. As, however, they do not openly utter with their mouth the detestable blasphemy, that God hath forgotten their conduct, and hath shut his eyes that he may never see it, but hide their thoughts in the deep recesses of their own hearts, as Isaiah declares, (Isaiah 29:15) the Psalmist uses the same form of expression which he used before, and which he repeats a little after the third time, namely, that the ungodly say to themselves, in their hearts, that God takes no concern whatever in the affairs of men. And it is to be observed, that the ungodly, when all things happen to them according to their wishes, form such a judgment of their prosperity as to persuade themselves that God is in a manner bound or obliged to them.1 Whence it comes to pass, that they live in a state of constant security,2 because they do not reflect, that after God has long exercised patience towards them, they will undergo a solemn reckoning, and that their condemnation will be the more terrible, the greater the long-suffering of God.
12. Arise, O Jehovah. It is a disease under which men in general labor, to imagine, according to the judgment of the flesh, that when God does not execute his judgments, he is sitting idle, or lying at ease. There is, however, a great difference with respect to this between the faithful and the wicked. The latter cherish the false opinion which is dictated by the weakness of the flesh, and in order to soothe and flatter themselves in their vices, they indulge in slumbering, and render their conscience stupid,3 until at length, through their wicked obstinacy, they harden themselves into a gross contempt of God. But the former soon shake from their minds that false imagination, and chastise themselves, returning of their own accord to a due consideration of what is the truth on this subject.4 Of this we have here set before us a striking example. By speaking of God after the manner of men, the prophet declares that the same error which he has just now condemned in the despisers of God had gradually stolen in upon his own mind. But he proceeds at once to correct it, and resolutely struggles with himself, and restrains his mind from forming such conceptions of God, as would reflect dishonor upon his righteousness and glory. It is therefore a temptation to which all men are naturally prone, to begin to doubt of the providence of God, when his hand and judgment are not seen. The godly, however, differ widely from the wicked. The former, by means of faith, check this apprehension of the flesh; while the latter indulge themselves in their froward imagination. Thus David, by the word Arise, does not so much stir up God, as he awakens himself, or endeavors to awaken himself, to hope for more of the assistance of God than he presently experienced. Accordingly, this verse contains the useful doctrine, that the more the ungodly harden themselves, through their slothful ignorance, and endeavor to persuade themselves that God takes no concern about men and their affairs, and will not punish the wickedness which they commit, the more should we endeavor to be persuaded of the contrary; yes, rather their ungodliness ought to incite us vigorously to repel the doubts which they not only admit, but studiously frame for themselves.
13. Why doth the wicked despise God? It is, indeed, superfluous to bring arguments before God, for the purpose of persuading him to grant us what we ask; but still he permits us to make use of them, and to speak to him in prayer, as familiarly as a son speaks to an earthly father. It should always be observed, that the use of praying is, that God may be the witness of all our affections; not that they would otherwise be hidden from him, but when we pour out our hearts before him, our cares are hereby greatly lightened, and our confidence of obtaining our requests increases. Thus David, in the present passage, by setting before himself how unreasonable and intolerable it would be for the wicked to be allowed to despise God according to their pleasure, thinking he will never bring them to an account,5 was led to cherish the hope of deliverance from his calamities. The word which is here rendered despise, is the same as that which he had used before. Some translate it to provoke, and others to blaspheme. But the signification which I have preferred certainly agrees much better with the context; for when persons take from God the power and office of judging, this is ignominiously to drag him from his throne, and to degrade him, as it were, to the station of a private individual.6 Moreover, as David had a little before complained that the ungodly deny the existence of a God, or else imagine him to be constantly asleep, having no care about mankind, so now he complains to the same purpose that they say, God will not require it.