9. For, lo! thine enemies, O Jehovah! for, lo, thine enemies shall perish; all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered.1 10. But my horn shalt thou exalt, like the horn of an unicorn:2 I have been profusely anointed with fresh oil.3 11. And mine eyes shall see it on mine enemies: mine ears shall hear it upon those who rise up against me, upon those who persecute me.
9. For, lo! thine enemies, O Jehovah! From what was already said in the verse preceding, the Psalmist concludes it to be impossible that God should not overthrow his enemies. This, as I have already observed, clearly shows that it was his design to establish our faith under the strong temptations to which it is subjected, and, more especially, to remove that offense out of the way, which has disturbed the minds of many, and led them astray; -- we refer to the prosperity of the wicked, and its effect in attaching a certain perplexity to the judgments of God. As our faith is never called to a more sharp and arduous trial than upon this point, the Psalmist delivers the truth, which he announces with much force of expression, using both exclamations and repetition. First, he declares the destruction of God's enemies to be as certain as if it had already taken place, and he had witnessed it with his own eyes; then he repeats his assertion: and from all this we may see how much he had benefited by glancing with the eye of faith beyond this world to the throne of God in the heavens. When staggered in our own faith at any time by the prosperity of the wicked, we should learn by his example to rise in our contemplations to a God in heaven, and the conviction will immediately follow in our minds that his enemies cannot long continue to triumph. The Psalmist tells us who they are that are God's enemies. God hates none without a cause; nay, so far as men are the workmanship of his hand, he embraces them in his fatherly love. But as nothing is more opposed to his nature than sin, he proclaims irreconcilable war with the wicked. It contributes in no small degree to the comfort of the Lord's people, to know that the reason why the wicked are destroyed is, their being necessarily the objects of God's hatred, so that he can no more fail to punish them than deny himself.4
The Psalmist, shortly afterwards, shows that he intended this to be a ground of comfort and hope under all cares, griefs, anxieties, and embarrassments. He speaks under the figure of oil of enjoying Divine blessings, and by green or fresh oil is meant, such as has not become corrupted, or unfit for use by age. It is noticeable that he appropriates, and improves for his own individual comfort, that grace of God which is extended to all the Lord's people without exception; and would teach us by this that mere general doctrine is a cold and unsatisfactory thing, and that each of us should improve it particularly for himself, in the persuasion of our belonging to the number of God's children. In one word, the Psalmist promises himself the protection of God, under whatever persecutions he should endure from his enemies, whether they were secret, or more open and violent, that he may encourage himself to persevere with indefatigable spirit in the world's conflict. We may judge from this how absurd is the opinion of the Rabbin, who conjectured that Adam was the author of this psalm5 -- as if it were credible that his posterity should have set themselves up in rebellion against him.
1 Hammond reads "separated," and supposes that this may be a judicial phrase, denoting the discrimination made betwixt men, as that which will be effected betwixt the sheep and the goats at the last day. Matthew 25:32 -- "All the nations shall be gathered together or assembled before him" as a judge, "and, ajforiei~ aujtouv ajpj allh>lwn, he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd, ajfori>zei, separates the sheep from the goats." For this interpretation we have the authority of the Chaldee, which paraphrases the clause thus, "In the world to come the workers of iniquity shall be separated from the congregation of the just." If this sense is admitted, the passage corresponds with these words in the fifth verse of the first psalm, "The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous." The LXX., however, render the original word,
2 The horn is worn over all the East, and is the symbol of strength and power. It adorns the heads of all princely personages in Oriental mythology. Large horns, representing the glory of deity, are planted on the heads of their idols, or placed in their hands. The horn is therefore frequently employed in Scripture as the emblem of power and authority; and when the Psalmist affirms that God would exalt his horn, it expresses his assurance of victory over his enemies. As to the animal meant by "the unicorn," great variety of interpretations has obtained both among ancient and modern critics. The most probable opinion is that of Bochart, who, supporting himself by numerous quotations from Arabian and other Eastern writers, concludes that the
3 "The verb in the Hebrew expresses much more than a superficial unction, viz., a penetration of the whole substance of the man's person by the oil. See Parkhurst's Lexicon, under
4 "Qu'il faut necessairement qu'ils soyent hays de Dieu, lequel ne se peut renoncer soy mesme."
5 These Rabbins say that Adam composed it immediately after the creation before the Sabbath. The Chaldee paraphrase entitles the psalm, "A hymn or song which the first man spoke concerning the Sabbath-day." But had it been a composition of Adam's, one would think it should have been placed at the head of this collection of psalms. Besides, there were no musical instruments at that time for this psalm to be sung upon, (see verse 3;) for Tubal was the father of them that handle the harp and organ; nor, as Calvin observes, had Adam numerous enemies and wicked men who rose up against him, to which reference is made in verses 7, 9, 11. We may therefore justly regard the Jewish tradition, which ascribes the composition of this psalm to Adam, as fabulous, having no other foundation but the invention and fancy of some of their Rabbins.