Against Tyrants in the Church.
The psalmist, whose name is not given, appeals to God in view of the oppression of the adversaries, who included not only the enemies from without, but also the tyrants within the external organization of the Church. V. 1. O Lord God, to whom vengeance belongeth; O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, show Thyself. The statement yielding all judicial power to the Lord alone is followed by the request that He should shine forth, make known His judicial authority by inflicting a righteous punishment upon the oppressors. V. 2. Lift up Thyself, arising, as from an indifferent attitude, Thou Judge of the earth, in the almighty exaltation of His judicial power; render a reward to the proud, punishing the arrogant pride of the adversaries. V. 3. Lord, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph? Note the force of the figure of repetition in emphasizing the insolence of the wicked and the increasing impatience of the believers in awaiting the interference of the Lord. V. 4. How long shall they utter, bubbling and sputtering, and speak hard things, spouting arrogance against the Lord, and all the workers of iniquity boast themselves, exalting themselves as though the Lord would not or could not keep them in check? V. 5. They break in pieces Thy people, O Lord, crushing the believers by their tyranny, and afflict Thine heritage, the Church of God being known by this designation, and the affliction including every form of oppression and hindering of the work of the Church. V. 6. They slay the widow and the stranger and murder the fatherless, such outrages being reported from almost every period of the Church’s history. V. 7. Yet they say, The Lord shall not see, would deliberately ignore their wickedness, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it, that they might continue their insolent outrages unpunished. The psalmist now turns to the wicked in a sharp rebuke of their folly. V. 8. Understand, ye brutish among the people, on a level with the irrational beasts on account of their folly; and ye fools, when will ye be wise? For the arrogant behavior of the wicked showed a lack of ordinary common sense, of the simplest form of observation. V. 9. He that planted the ear, giving it its position and causing it to function as one of the senses of the body, shall He not hear? Would the wicked actually be so dense as to think that this Creator of the sense of hearing could not hear their insolent taunts? He that formed the eye, fashioning it to serve for the sense of sight, shall He not see? Did the tyrants believe that their acts of oppression were really unnoticed by the omniscient God? V. 10. He that chastiseth the heathen, punishing entire nations for their sins, shall not He correct? punishing the enemies for their wicked deeds. He that teacheth man knowledge, shall not He know? Before Him, the Source of all wisdom and knowledge, nothing is hidden. V. 11. The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, He is familiar with even the inmost workings of tile minds of men, that they are vanity, all their objects and intentions by nature being vain. Cp. 1 Cor. 3, 20. V. 12. Blessed is the man whom Thou chastenest, O Lord, correcting him in the manner in which a father chastises his child, and teachest him out of Thy law, giving him true understanding out of His eternal Word, v. 13. that Thou mayest give him, as a consequence of the saving knowledge thus gained, rest from the days of adversity, those of real evil, of being rejected from the face of the Lord, until the pit be digged for the wicked, until they receive their well-deserved punishment, the result being the relief of the faithful. V. 14. For the Lord will not cast off His people, the believers being His in spite of the present oppression, neither will He forsake His inheritance, His Church. V. 15. But judgment shall return unto righteousness, the latter being bound to be vindicated and set upright once more; and all the upright in heart shall follow it, eagerly hailing the restoration of right and justice after such a long period of oppression. V. 16. Who will rise up for me, in behalf of the petitioner, taking his part, against the evil-doers? Or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity? This rhetorical question emphasizes the answer given in the next verse. V. 17. Unless the Lord had been my Help, upholding and defending him in the midst of his troubles, my soul had almost dwelt in silence, namely, in that of death. V. 18. When I said, in a complaint and prayer to tile Lord, My foot slippeth, when there was danger of his falling as a result of the enemy’s oppression, Thy mercy, O Lord, held me up, sustaining him in the midst of all dangers. V. 19. In the multitude of my thoughts within me, as worries and anxious cares multiply in his heart, Thy comforts delight my soul, reassuring and refreshing it for cheerfully enduring the afflictions of this life. V. 20. Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with Thee, the judgment-seat of destruction, the tribunal of wicked rulers being allied with God, their boast being that God Himself sanctioned their oppression, which frameth mischief by a law? by abusing the divine right for iniquitous procedure, by using the name and Word of God as a cloak for their oppression. It has often been the case that tyrants quoted the Bible in support of their attacks on the Church, trying to defend their unjust measures by appealing to Holy Writ. V. 21. They gather themselves together against the soul of the righteous, planning his destruction, and condemn the innocent blood, laying the penalty of the law upon the believers with a show of right. V. 22. But the Lord is my Defense, a Fortress against such attacks; and my God is the Rock of my refuge, protecting the believer against all enemies. V. 23. And He shall bring upon them their own iniquity, paying them back in their own coin, and shall cut them off in their own wickedness, destroy them for all the evil done by them; yea, the Lord, our God, shall cut them off. This psalm is clearly written for all periods of the Church’s history and will therefore give consolation to the believers whenever they are beset by difficulties and persecutions.