3. For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?
3. Quid enigma si quidem fuerunt increduli? Num incredulitas eorum fidem Dei faciet irritam?
4. God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.
4. Ne ita sit; quin sit Deus verax, omnis autem homo mendax; quemadmodum scriptum est, ut justificeris in sermonibus tuis, et vincas quum judicaris. 1
The first clause contains the primary axiom of all Christian philosophy; the latter is taken from Psalm 114:11, where David confesses that there is nothing certain from man or in man.
Now this is a remarkable passage, and contains a consolation that is much needed; for such is the perversity of men in rejecting and despising God's word, that its truth would be often doubted were not this to come to our minds, that God's verity depends not on man's verity. But how I does this agree with what has been said previously -- that in order to make the divine promise effectual, faith, which receives it, is on the part of men necessary? for faith stands opposed to falsehood. This seems, indeed, to be a difficult question; but it may with no great difficulty be answered, and in this way -- the Lord, notwithstanding the lies of men, and though these are hinderances to his truth, does yet find a way for it through a pathless track, that he may come forth a conqueror, and that is, by correcting in his elect the inbred unbelief of our nature, and by subjecting to his service those who seem to be unconquerable. It must be added, that the discourse here is concerning the corruption of nature, and not the grace of God, which is the remedy for that corruption.
The application then of this passage is the following: Since all the sins of mortals must serve to illustrate the glory of the Lord, and since he is especially glorified by his truth, it follows, that even the falsehood of men serves to confirm rather than to subvert his truth. Though the word
2 Whenever there is a material agreement between the Greek and the Hebrew, we ought not to make it otherwise. If the verb
Commentators, both ancient and modern, have differed on the meaning of the verb in question. Pareus, Beza, Macknight, and Stuart, take it In an active sense; while Erasmus, Grotius, Venema, and others, contend for the passive meaning. Drusius, Hammond, and Doddridge render it, "when thou contendest in judgment," or, "when thou art called to judgment:" and such a meaning no doubt the verb has according to Matthew 5:40, and 1 Corinthians 6:1, 6. But in this case regard must be had, especially to the meaning which Corresponds the nearest with the original Hebrew. Some have maintained that "in thy judgment"
Against thee, against thee only have I sinned;
And the evil before thine eyes have I done;
So that thou art justified in thy words,
And clear in thy judgments.
Pareus connects the passage differently. He considers the former part of the verse parenthetic, or as specifying what is generally stated in the previous verse, the third; and with that verse he connects this passage: so that the rendering of the two verses would be the following, --
3. For my transgression I acknowledge, And my sin is before me continually, --
4. (Against thee, against thee only have I sinned, and the evil before thine eyes have I done,) That thou mightest be justified in thy saying, And clear in thy judgment.
This is certainty more probable than what Vatablus and Houbigant propose, who connect the passage with the second verse, "Wash me thoroughly," etc. But the sense given by Calvin is the most satisfactory -- Ed.