Psalm 21:7-10

7. For the king trusteth in Jehovah, and through the goodness of the Most High, he shall not be moved. 8. Thy hand shall find out all thy enemies, thy right hand shalt find out those that hate thee. 9. Thou shalt put them as it were into a furnace of fire, in the time of thy anger; Jehovah1 in his wrath shall overwhelm them, and the fire shall consume them. 10. Thou wilt destroy their fruit from the earth, and their seed from among the children of men.


7. For the king trusteth. Here again the pious Israelites glory that their king shall be established, because he relies upon God; and they express at the same time how he relies upon him, namely, by hope or trust. I read the whole verse as one sentence, so that there is but one principal verb, and explain it thus:- The king, as he places by faith his dependence on God and his goodness, will not be subject to the disasters which overthrow the kingdoms of this world. Moreover, as we have said before, that whatever blessings the faithful attribute to their king, belong to the whole body of the Church, there is here made a promise, common to all the people of God, which may serve to keep us tranquil amidst the various storms which agitate the world. The world turns round as it were upon a wheel, by which it comes to pass, that those who were raised to the very top are precipitated to the bottom in a moment; but it is here promised, that the kingdom of Judah, and the kingdom of Christ of which it was a type, will be exempted from such vicissitude. Let us remember, that those only have the firmness and stability here promised, who betake themselves to the bosom of God by an assured faith, and relying upon his mercy, commit themselves to his protection. The cause or the ground of this hope or trust is at the same time expressed, and it is this, that God mercifully cherishes his own people, whom he has once graciously received into his favor.

8. Thy hand shall find. Hitherto the internal happiness of the kingdom has been described. Now there follows, as it was necessary there should, the celebration of its invincible strength against its enemies. What is said in this verse is of the same import as if the king had been pronounced victorious over all his enemies. I have just now remarked, that such a statement is not superfluous; for it would not have been enough for the kingdom to have flourished internally, and to have been replenished with peace, riches, and abundance of all good things, had it not also been well fortified against the attacks of foreign enemies. This particularly applies to the kingdom of Christ, which is never without enemies in this world. True, it is not always assailed by open war, and there is sometimes granted to it a period of respite; but the ministers of Satan never lay aside their malice and desire to do mischief, and therefore they never cease to plot and to endeavor to accomplish the overthrow of Christ's kingdom. It is well for us that our King, who lifts up his hand as a shield before us to defend us, is stronger than all. As the Hebrew word aum, matsa, which is twice repeated, and which we have translated, to find, sometimes signifies to suffice; and, as in the first clause, there is prefixed to the word lk, kal, which signifies all, the letter l, lamed, which signifies for, or against, and which is not prefixed to the Hebrew word which is rendered those that hate thee; some expositors, because of this diversity, explain the verse as if it had been said, Thy hand shall be able for all thine enemies, thy right hand shall find out those that hate thee. Thus the sentence will ascend by degrees, -- Thy hand shall be able to withstand, thy right hand shall lay hold upon thy enemies, so that they shall not escape destruction.

9. Thou shalt put them as it were into a furnace of fire.2 The Psalmist here describes a dreadful kind of vengeance, from which we gather, that he does not speak of every kind of enemies in general, but of the malicious and frantic despisers of God, who, after the manner of the giants3 of old, rise up against his only begotten Son. The very severity of the punishment shows the greatness of the wickedness. Some think that David alludes to the kind of punishment which he inflicted upon the Ammonites, of which we have an account in the sacred history; but it is more probable that he here sets forth metaphorically the dreadful destruction which awaits all the adversaries of Christ. They may burn with rage against the Church, and set the world on fire by their cruelty, but when their wickedness shall have reached its highest pitch, there is this reward which God has in reserve for them, that he will cast them into his burning furnace to consume them. In the first clause, the king is called an avenger; in the second, this office is transferred to God; and in the third, the execution of the vengeance is attributed to fire; which three things very well agree. We know that judgment has been committed to Christ, that he may cast his enemies headlong into everlasting fire; but, it was of importance distinctly to express that this is not the judgment of man but of God. Nor was it less important to set forth how extreme and dreadful a kind of vengeance this is, in order to arouse from their torpor those who, unapprehensive of danger, boldly despise all the threatenings of God. Besides, this serves not a little for the consolation of the righteous. We know how dreadful the cruelty of the ungodly is, and that our faith would soon sink under it, if it did not rise to the contemplation of the judgment of God. The expression, In the time of thy wrath, admonishes us that we ought patiently to bear the cross as long as it shall please the Lord to exercise and humble us under it. If, therefore, he does not immediately put forth his power to destroy the ungodly, let us learn to extend our hope to the time which our heavenly Father has appointed in his eternal purpose for the execution of his judgment, and when our King, armed with his terrible power, will come forth to execute vengeance. While he now seems to take no notice, this does not imply that he has forgotten either himself or us. On the contrary, he laughs at the madness of those who go on in the commission of every kind of sin without any fear of danger, and become more presumptuous day after day. This laughter of God, it is true, brings little comfort to us; but we must, nevertheless, complete the time of our condition of warfare till "the day of the Lord's vengeance" come, which, as Isaiah declares, (Isaiah 34:87) shall also be "the year of our redemption." It does not seem to me to be out of place to suppose, that in the last clause, there is denounced against the enemies of Christ a destruction like that which God in old time sent upon Sodom and Gomorrah. That punishment was a striking and memorable example above all others of the judgment of God against all the wicked, or rather it was, as it were, a visible image upon earth of the eternal fire of hell which is prepared for the reprobate:and hence this similitude is frequently to be met with in the sacred writings.

10. Thou shalt destroy their fruit from the earth. David amplifies the greatness of God's wrath, from the circumstance that it shall extend even to the children of the wicked. It is a doctrine common enough in Scripture, that God not only inflicts punishment upon the first originators of wickedness, but makes it even to overflow into the bosom of their children.4 And yet when he thus pursues his vengeance to the third and fourth generation, he cannot be said indiscriminately to involve the innocent with the guilty. As the seed of the ungodly, whom he has deprived of his grace, are accursed, and as all are by nature children of wrath, devoted to everlasting destruction, he is no less just in exercising his severity towards the children than towards the fathers. Who can lay any thing to his charge, if he withhold from those who are unworthy of it the grace which he communicates to his own children? In both ways he shows how dear and precious to him is the kingdom of Christ; first, in extending his mercy to the children of the righteous even to a thousand generations; and, secondly, in causing his wrath to rest upon the reprobate, even to the third and fourth generation.

1 This is rendered according to the pointing in the French version. According to the pointing in the Latin version, Jehovah is joined to the preceding clause thus:-- "In the time of thy anger, O Jehovah!"

2 French and Skinner's translation of these words is the same, and so also is that of Rogers. This last author observes, "The common interpretation, Thou shalt make them like a fiery oven, etc., is not very intelligible. I consider rwtk as put by ellipsis for rwntbk Thou shalt place them as it were [in] a furnace of fire." -- (Rogers' Book of Psalms, in Hebrew, metrically arranged, vol. 2:p. 178.) Poole takes the same view. Calvin, however, in his French version, gives a translation much the same as that of our English version:"Tu les rendras comme une fournaise de feu en temps de ta cholere." "Thou shalt make them like a furnace of fire, in the time of thy anger." This is exactly the rendering of Horsley, in which he is followed by Walford. "It describes," says the learned prelate, "the smoke of the Messiah's enemies perishing by fire, ascending like the smoke of a furnace. 'The smoke of their torment shall ascend for ever and ever.'" "How awfully grand," says Bishop Mant, "is that description of the ruins of the cities of the plain, as the prospect struck on Abraham's eye on the fatal morning of their destruction:'And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and lo! the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace.'"

3 The allusion is to the fabulous giants of heathen mythology, who waged war against heaven.

4 "Mais qu'il le fait mesme regorger au sein des enfans d'iceux." -- Fr. See Isaiah 65:6, 7.