Comfort and Warning Concerning the Offense Given by the Good Fortune of the Godless.
A psalm of Asaph, one of the choirmasters of David, 1Ch_6:39; 1Ch_25:2.
A Reflection upon the Apparent Good Fortune of the Wicked
v. 1. Truly, God is good to Israel, only good, nothing but kindness and mercy, even to such as are of a clean heart, for all members of the spiritual Israel have their hearts cleansed by faith, so that they are honest and straightforward in all their dealings with the Lord. This is the poet's comfort in spite of the description of the apparent happiness of the unbelievers which now follows.
v. 2. But as for me, his own person being set forward emphatically as an example, my feet were almost gone, almost he had stumbled and tottered; my steps had well-nigh slipped, he had been in great danger of losing his faith and giving way to doubt.
v. 3. For I was envious at the foolish, filled with anger at the proud boasting of the ungodly, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked, when he noted the fact that they were living in peace, that nothing bothered them, that they enjoyed everything their hearts desired, and made it a point to tell everybody about it.
v. 4. For there are no bands in their death, they are not plagued with sufferings which make them weary unto death; but their strength is firm, well nourished is their paunch, fatness being considered a sign of healthy strength, of stout vigor.
v. 5. They are not in trouble as other men, they do not experience the misery of the ordinary mortal; neither are they plagued like other men, they are not bothered with so many inconveniences, they do not run up against so many difficulties; they find ways and means to avert disaster.
v. 6. Therefore, because of their apparent immunity against life's usual troubles, pride compasseth them about as a chain, they lift up their necks proudly, they exhibit their pride like an ornament; v. lence covereth them as a garment, their whole nature is cruel and ruthless.
v. 7. Their eyes stand out with fatness, this again being a picture of vigor due to prosperity; they have more than heart could wish, literally, "are revealed the imaginations of their hearts," that is, their proud thoughts appear in their speech and in their acts.
v. 8. They are corrupt, given to mockery in their speech, and speak wickedly concerning oppression, in their ungodliness they speak oppression, they plan to keep the upper hand over the believers; scoffing at the idea of trust in God, they oppress all such as hold this trust. They speak loftily, down from the height of their pride, with nothing but contempt for the hopelessly old-fashioned believers.
v. 9. They set their mouth against the heavens, to blaspheme God, and their tongue walketh through the earth, with arrogant haughtiness, with meddlesome slander. Note: It is a composite picture which the psalmist draws in this paragraph, his object being not to portray the actions of each individual ungodly person, but to represent one wicked person as speaking for the mass of unbelievers on earth.
v. 10. Therefore his people return hither, the multitude of the godless ever rallying round such an arrogant declaimer of blasphemies and slanders; and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them, prosperity being drained by them as they eagerly grasp at success and its enjoyments, or, further multitudes being gulped down by them, those who are duped by them joining with the seducers in their blasphemous speeches and conduct.
v. 11. And they say, How doth God know? And is there knowledge in the Most High? They try to deceive themselves and others into the belief that God pays no attention to their wickedness in its various manifestations. They despise the wisdom of God in His eternal Word and arrogantly substitute the so-called assured results of scientific research.
v. 12. Behold, these are the ungodly, as here briefly characterized they are found at all times, who prosper in the world, boasting of their success; they increase in riches, they possess everything which this world has to offer; they believe that they are secure forever, without a care to disturb their happiness.