Psalm 130:3
If you, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) If thou.—The word rendered “mark” is “watch” in Psalm 130:6. If “Jah” were to watch for men’s lapses, as one watches for the dawn, nothing but signal punishment could follow. So Job (Job 10:14; Job 14:16) actually believed God did watch; while the prophets Jeremiah (Jeremiah 3:5) and Amos (Amos 1:11) use the word of the strict care taken that the consequences should follow the sin. It is a fact worthy of attention, that misfortune provokes at this crisis, in this people so profoundly religious, not murmurings against the Divine dealings, but a sense of deep contrition.

Psalm 130:3-4. If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities — Observe them accurately, and punish them severely, as they deserve; O Lord, who shall stand? — In thy presence, or at thy tribunal. No man could acquit himself, or escape the sentence of condemnation, because all men are sinners. To stand is a judicial phrase, and imports a man being absolved or justified upon a fair trial. But there is forgiveness with thee — Thou art able and ready to forgive repenting sinners; that thou mayest be feared — Not with a slavish, but a filial fear and reverence, This mercy of thine is the foundation of all religion, without which men would desperately proceed in their impious courses, without any thought of repentance.130:1-4 The only way of relief for a sin-entangled soul, is by applying to God alone. Many things present themselves as diversions, many things offer themselves as remedies, but the soul finds that the Lord alone can heal. And until men are sensible of the guilt of sin, and quit all to come at once to God, it is in vain for them to expect any relief. The Holy Ghost gives to such poor souls a fresh sense of their deep necessity, to stir them up in earnest applications, by the prayer of faith, by crying to God. And as they love their souls, as they are concerned for the glory of the Lord, they are not to be wanting in this duty. Why is it that these matters are so long uncertain with them? Is it not from sloth and despondency that they content themselves with common and customary applications to God? Then let us up and be doing; it must be done, and it is attended with safety. We are to humble ourselves before God, as guilty in his sight. Let us acknowledge our sinfulness; we cannot justify ourselves, or plead not guilty. It is our unspeakable comfort that there is forgiveness with him, for that is what we need. Jesus Christ is the great Ransom; he is ever an Advocate for us, and through him we hope to obtain forgiveness. There is forgiveness with thee, not that thou mayest be presumed upon, but that thou mayest be feared. The fear of God often is put for the whole worship of God. The only motive and encouragement for sinners is this, that there is forgiveness with the Lord.If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities - If thou shouldst observe, note, attend to, regard all the evil that I have done. The Hebrew word means properly to keep, to watch, to guard. The word, as used here, refers to that kind of vigilance or watchfulness which one is expected to manifest who is on guard; who keeps watch in a city or camp by night. The idea is, If God should thus look with a scrutinizing eye; if he should try to see all that he could see; if he should suffer nothing to escape his observation; if he should deal with us exactly as we are; if he should overlook nothing, forgive nothing, we could have no hope.

Who shall stand? - Who shall stand upright? Who could stand before thee? Who could hope to be acquitted? This implies

(1) that the petitioner was conscious of guilt, or knew that he was a sinner;

(2) that he felt there was a depth of depravity in his heart which God could see, but which he did not - as every man must be certain that there is in his own soul;

(3) that God had the power of bringing that to light if he chose to do it, so that the guilty man would be entirely overwhelmed;

(4) that he who urged the prayer rested his only hope on the fact that God would not mark iniquity; would not develop what was in him; would not judge him by what he saw in his heart; but would deal with him otherwise, and show him mercy and compassion.

Every man must feel that if God should "mark iniquity" as it is - if he should judge us as we are - we could have no hope. It is only on the ground that we may be forgiven, that we eau hope to come before him.

3. shouldest mark—or, "take strict account" (Job 10:14; 14:16), implying a confession of the existence of sin.

who shall stand—(Ps 1:6). Standing is opposed to the guilty sinking down in fear and self-condemnation (Mal 3:2; Re 6:15, 16). The question implies a negative, which is thus more strongly stated.

Mark iniquities; observe them accurately, and punish them severely, as they deserve. Who shall stand in thy presence, or at thy tribunal? No man can acquit himself, or escape the sentence of condemnation, because all men are sinners, Ecclesiastes 7:20 Jam 3:2. To stand is a judicial phrase, and notes a man’s being absolved or justified, upon an equal trial, as Psalm 1:5 Romans 14:4, where it is opposed to falling. If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities,.... Or "observe" (f) them. Not but that God does observe the sins of men: he sees all the evil actions of bad men done in the dark, which cannot hide them from him; and all the iniquities of good men, so as to correct and chastise for them, but not with his eye of vindictive justice. Or "keep" (g) them; should he keep a watchful eye over them, make strict inspection into them, enter into a critical examination of them, and of all their aggravated circumstances; should he keep them in mind and memory, retain them in the book of his remembrance; should he lay them up, and keep them sealed among his stores, in order to be brought to light, and brought out as charges another day, and to the condemnation of men; should he set them before him in the light of his countenance, and not cast them behind his back and into the depths of the sea; should he visit for them in a way of wrath, or enter into judgment on account of them, with men in their own persons; demanding satisfaction for them at their own hands, without any regard to the sacrifice and satisfaction of his Son; all a man's righteousness, repentance, humiliation and tears, would stand him in no stead, would not answer for him, or atone for his sins; still his iniquities would remain marked before God; the consequence of which would be eternal damnation, Jeremiah 2:22;

O Lord, who shall stand? Not one; since all are sinners. The Arabic version adds, "before thee"; in his presence; in the house and courts of God, there to minister before him; to pray and praise, to preach and hear: or at his bar hereafter, with any boldness and confidence; so as to litigate the point with him in his court of judicature, before angels and men, and so as to carry the cause; the wicked shall not stand in judgment, Psalm 1:5. Or who can stand before his vindictive justice, or bear his wrath and vengeance? No one can. See Nahum 1:6, Malachi 3:2.

(f) "observaveris", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Musculus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Michaelis. (g) "Serves", Cocceius; "servaveris", Muis.

If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, {b} who shall stand?

(b) He declares that we cannot be just before God but by forgiveness of sins.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. If thou, Jah, shouldest mark iniquities] Shouldest observe them and keep them in remembrance, instead of blotting them out of Thy record. Cp. Psalm 79:8. The same word is used of God’s ‘observing’ the sinner (Job 10:14; cp. Job 14:16-17), and of ‘keeping’ anger (Jeremiah 3:5; cp. Psalm 103:9). The P.B.V., “If thou, Lord, wilt be extreme to mark what is done amiss,” is one of Coverdale’s boldly beautiful paraphrases.

Lord] Adônai, as in Psalm 130:2, implies that the servant is addressing his Master.

who would stand] Before Thee in judgement. No one could maintain his innocence: all must inevitably be condemned as guilty at the bar of Divine justice. Cp. Psalm 1:5; Psalm 76:7; Psalm 143:2; Ezra 9:15. This verse is virtually a confession of sin and a plea for pardon.Verse 3. - If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities. The Prayer-book paraphrase gives the true sense, "If thou, Lord, shouldest be extreme to mark what is done miss." If thou didst not "hide our transgressions" and "cover up" half our sins - then, O Lord, who shall stand? (comp. Psalm 76:7, "Who may stand in thy sight when once thou art angry?"). Elsewhere it is said that the enemies have driven over Israel (Psalm 66:12), or have gone over its back (Isaiah 51:23); here the customary figurative language חרשׁ און in Job 4:8 (cf. Hosea 10:13) is extended to another figure of hostile dealing: without compassion and without consideration they ill-treated the stretched-forth back of the people who were held in subjection, as though it were arable land, and, without restraining their ferocity and setting a limit to their spoiling of the enslaved people and country, they drew their furrow-strip (מעניתם, according to the Ker מענותם) long. But מענה does not signify (as Keil on 1 Samuel 14:14 is of opinion, although explaining the passage more correctly than Thenius) the furrow ( equals תּלם, גּדוּד), but, like Arab. ma‛nât, a strip of arable land which the ploughman takes in hand at one time, at both ends of which consequently the ploughing team (צמד) always comes to a stand, turns round, and ploughs a new furrow; from ענה, to bend, turn (vid., Wetzstein's Excursus II p. . It is therefore: they drew their furrow-turning long (dative of the object instead of the accusative with Hiph., as e.g., in Isaiah 29:2, cf. with Piel in Psalm 34:4; Psalm 116:16, and Kal Psalm 69:6, after the Aramaic style, although it is not unhebraic). Righteous is Jahve - this is an universal truth, which has been verified in the present circumstances; - He hath cut asunder the cords of the wicked (עבות as in Psalm 2:3; here, however, it is suggested by the metaphor in Psalm 129:3, cf. Job 39:10; lxx αὐχένας, i.e., ענוק), with which they held Israel bound. From that which has just been experienced Israel derives the hope that all Zion's haters (a newly coined name for the enemies of the religion of Israel) will be obliged to retreat with shame and confusion.
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