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19

God, who is enthroned from of old,Selah

will hear, and will humble them—

because they do not change,

and do not fear God.

 


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19 God shall hear, and afflict them As the verb ענה, anah, which I have rendered afflict, signifies, occasionally, to testify, some understand David to say that God would rise up as a witness against them. The syntax of the language will scarcely, however, admit of this, as, in Hebrew, the letter ב, beth, is generally subjoined in such a case. There seems no doubt that the word signifies here to addict or punish, although this is rather its signification implicitly and by a species of irony; for, most commonly, ענה, anah, means to answer. Having said that God would hear him, he adds that he would answer him, in the way of avenging his cause, in the punishment of his enemies. The epithet, or descriptive title, which he applies to God, is one calculated to comfort the pious mind in times of trouble and confusion. Much of that impatience into which we are hurried arises from not elevating our thoughts to the eternity of God. Can anything be more unreasonable than that poor mortals, who pass away like a shadow, should measure God by their feeble apprehensions, which is to cast him down from his eternal throne, and subject him to the fluctuations of a changing world? As חלף, chalaph, may signify to cut off as well as to change, some have supposed that David here complains of the destruction of the wicked having been too long deferred; but this is not a probable interpretation. The term has been more properly rendered changes But even those who have adopted this rendering have varied in the sense of the passage. 315315     The reason of this difference arises from the ambiguity of the meaning of the original word, which signifies change simply, without reference to the kind of change. Of the two senses which our Author proceeds to state, the first is that adopted by the Chaldee, which reads, “Wicked men, who change not their very evil course, and fear not the sight of God, shall perish.” Dathe, while he admits the ambiguity of the word, follows the Chaldee. Gesenius gives the same interpretation. “But,” says Walford, “this reduces the passage nearly to an identical proposition; so that the probable meaning is, vicissitudes of fortune. These men had enjoyed great prosperity, and been subjected to few trials; they were therefore enamoured of this world and its pleasures, and gave themselves little regard about the will and authority of God. See Psalm 73:5, 6.” Some understand it to mean that no change to the better was to be expected in their character; that they were so bent upon evil as to be inflexible to repentance; so entirely under the influence of a cruel disposition, as never once to incline to humanity or mercy. Others, with more reason, consider that he refers, in the language of complaint, to the uninterrupted flow of their prosperity, which was such that they seemed exempt from the common vicissitudes of life. He represents them as being corrupted by this indulgence, and casting off from their minds every principle of fear, as if they were privileged with immunity from mortal ills. The copulative particle will thus carry the force of a consequence — they have no changes, and therefore they fear not God 316316     “That is,” says Williams, “they suppose they also shall live for ever; or, at least, that things will go on the same for ever. See 2 Peter 3:4. It is an undeniable truth, that the longer the wicked are left in the enjoyment of their pleasures, they are only hardened the more in their evil courses; and that where pride has the ascendancy in the heart, the effect of the Divine indulgence is to make us forget that we are men. In the connection between the two parts of the verse there is an implied censure of the infatuation of those who are led by their exemption from adversity to conclude that. they are a species of demigods; for, how insignificant is the course of human life when compared with the eternity of God? We have need to be upon our guard when under prosperity, lest we fall into the secure spirit which the Psalmist here alludes to, and even carry our exultation to the extent of a defiance of the Almighty.




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