|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
23:1-7 These words of David are very worthy of regard. Let those who have had long experience of God's goodness, and the pleasantness of heavenly wisdom, when they come to finish their course, bear their testimony to the truth of the promise. David avows his Divine inspiration, that the Spirit of God spake by him. He, and other holy men, spake and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. In many things he had his own neglect and wrong conduct to blame. But David comforted himself that the Lord had made with him an everlasting covenant. By this he principally intended the covenant of mercy and peace, which the Lord made with him as a sinner, who believed in the promised Saviour, who embraced the promised blessing, who yielded up himself to the Lord, to be his redeemed servant. Believers shall for ever enjoy covenant blessings; and God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, shall be for ever glorified in their salvation. Thus pardon, righteousness, grace, and eternal life, are secured as the gift of God through Jesus Christ. There is an infinite fulness of grace and all blessings treasured up in Christ, for those who seek his salvation. This covenant was all David's salvation, he so well knew the holy law of God and the extent of his own sinfulness, that he perceived what was needful for his own case in this salvation. It was therefore all his desire. In comparison, all earthly objects lost their attractions; he was willing to give them up, or to die and leave them, that he might enjoy full happiness, Ps 73:24-28. Still the power of evil, and the weakness of his faith, hope, and love, were his grief and burden. Doubtless he would have allowed that his own slackness and want of care were the cause; but the hope that he should soon be made perfect in glory, encouraged him in his dying moments.
Verses 6, 7. - The sons of Belial; Hebrew, belial; not a proper name, but a word signifying "worthlessness," and especially vicious worthlessness (see note on 1 Samuel 1:16). It is from this worthlessness that opposition arises to the just king, and he recognizes it as that which thwarts his efforts. The words may be rendered ?
"But the ungodly are as thorns, to be all of them thrust away;
For they may not be taken hold of with the hand.
And the man that would touch them
Must arm himself with iron and the staff of a spear;
And they shall be utterly burned with fire unto nothingness." The vicious worthlessness which opposes righteous government must be treated like thorns, too prickly and sharp pointed for gentle dealing. They must be torn up by an iron hook fixed to the end of a spear-handle, and then burnt. The word translated in the same place in the Authorized Version is rendered by Jerome "even to nothing;" and it is just the sort of phrase for which his authority is greatest; for he went to Palestine, and remained there several years, to study the language under Hebrew teachers on the spot. The Septuagint must have had a different reading, as it translates "their shame."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But the sons of Belial shall be all of them as thorns thrust away,.... Not like the tender grass that springs up, and flourishes after rain, and the sunshine upon that; but like thorns, useless, hurtful, and pernicious, and fit only for burning: this is true of wicked men in general, that cast off the yoke of the Lord, and become unprofitable, as Belial signifies; and of wicked governors in particular, who, instead of being helpful, are harmful to a commonwealth; and instead of being the joy and comfort of their subjects, and of giving pleasure to them, and making them cheerful and prosperous, give pain and trouble, and cause grief and sorrow; and are, if possible, to be thrust away, and deposed from government:
because they cannot be taken with hands; thorns cannot be handled and gently dealt with, but some instrument must be used to put them away with force; so wicked men, and especially wicked rulers, are untractable, and not to be managed in a gentle way, and therefore violent ones must be taken.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6. But the sons of Belial shall be all of them as thorns—that is, the wicked enemies and persecutors of this kingdom of righteousness. They resemble those prickly, thorny plants which are twisted together, whose spires point in every direction, and which are so sharp and strong that they cannot be touched or approached without danger; but hard instruments and violent means must be taken to destroy or uproot them. So God will remove or destroy all who are opposed to this kingdom.
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