|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
73:1-14 The psalmist was strongly tempted to envy the prosperity of the wicked; a common temptation, which has tried the graces of many saints. But he lays down the great principle by which he resolved to abide. It is the goodness of God. This is a truth which cannot be shaken. Good thoughts of God will fortify against Satan's temptations. The faith even of strong believers may be sorely shaken, and ready to fail. There are storms that will try the firmest anchors. Foolish and wicked people have sometimes a great share of outward prosperity. They seem to have the least share of the troubles of this life; and they seem to have the greatest share of its comforts. They live without the fear of God, yet they prosper, and get on in the world. Wicked men often spend their lives without much sickness, and end them without great pain; while many godly persons scarcely know what health is, and die with great sufferings. Often the wicked are not frightened, either by the remembrance of their sins, or the prospect of their misery, but they die without terror. We cannot judge men's state beyond death, by what passes at their death. He looked abroad, and saw many of God's people greatly at a loss. Because the wicked are so very daring, therefore his people return hither; they know not what to say to it, and the rather, because they drink deep of the bitter cup of affliction. He spoke feelingly when he spoke of his own troubles; there is no disputing against sense, except by faith. From all this arose a strong temptation to cast off religion. But let us learn that the true course of sanctification consists in cleansing a man from all pollution both of soul and body. The heart is cleansed by the blood of Christ laid hold upon by faith; and by the begun works of the Lord's Spirit, manifested in the hearty resolution, purpose, and study of holiness, and a blameless course of life and actions, the hands are cleansed. It is not in vain to serve God and keep his ordinances.
Verse 1. - Truly God is good to Israel; i.e. verily, in spite of appearances to the contrary, which had for a time made the writer doubt. It is suggested that the triumph of Absalom may have been the circumstance that shook Asaph's faith. Even to such as are of a clean heart; i.e. to the pious in Israel, who are the true Israel. God is really on their side, though he may seem for a time to favour the wicked. (On the need of a pure heart, see Psalm 24:4.)
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Truly God is good to Israel,.... To Israel, literally understood; in choosing them to be his people above all people on earth; in bringing them into a good land; in favouring them with many external privileges, civil and religious; in giving them his word, statutes, and ordinances, as he did not to other nations: or, spiritually understood, the Israel whom God has chosen, redeemed, and called by his special grace; verily of a truth, God is good to these; there is abundant proof and evidence of it; See Gill on Psalm 34:8,
or "only" God is good to such; though he is good to all in a providential way, yet only to his chosen and redeemed ones in a way of special favour; the goodness others share is but a shadow of goodness, in comparison of what they do and shall partake of; they are blessed with blessings indeed, and are only blessed; so this particle is rendered in Psalm 62:2, or "but", or "notwithstanding" (b), God is good, &c. that is, though he suffers the wicked to prosper, and his own people much afflicted, yet he is good to them; he supports them under their afflictions, and makes all to work for their good; gives them grace here, and glory hereafter;
even to such as are of a clean heart; this character excludes the carnal Israelites, who were pure in their own eyes, but not cleansed from their filthiness, and describes the true Israel of God, and explains who are meant by them, such as are pure in heart, inwardly Jews, Israelites indeed, in whom there is no guile; this is not natural to men, their hearts are by nature unclean, nor is it in their power to make them clean: this is God's work, he only can create a clean heart, and renew a right spirit; which is done by the sanctifying influences of his grace, and by the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus, and thus purifying their heart's by faith; yet so as not to be free from all impurity of spirit, but as to have a conscience purged from the guilt of sin, and to have the heart sincere and upright towards God.
(a) Sept. "Asaph ipsi", Pagninus, Montanus; "Asapho", Gejerus; so Ainsworth. (b) "attamen", Tigurine version, Piscator, Gussetius, Michaelis.
The Treasury of David
1 Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart.
"Truly," or, more correctly, only, "God is good to Israel." He is only good, nothing else but good to his own covenanted ones. He cannot act unjustly or unkindly to them; his goodness to them is beyond dispute, and without mixture. "Even to such as are of a clean heart." These are the true Israel, not the ceremonially clean but the really so; those who are clean in the inward parts, pure in the vital mainspring of action. To such he is, and must be, goodness itself. The writer does not doubt this, but lays it down as his firm conviction. It is well to make sure of what we do know, for this will be good anchor-hold for us when we are molested by those mysterious storms which arise from things which we do not understand. Whatever may or may not be the truth about mysterious and inscrutable things, there are certainties somewhere; experience has placed some tangible facts within our grasp; let us, then, cling to these, and they will prevent our being carried away by those hurricanes of infidelity which still come from the wilderness, and, like whirlwinds, smite the four corners of our house and threaten to overthrow it. O my God, however perplexed I may be, let me never think ill of thee. If I cannot understand thee, let me never cease to believe in thee. It must be so, it cannot be otherwise, thou art good to those whom thou hast made good; and where thou hast renewed the heart thou wilt not leave it to its enemies.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ps 73:1-28. Of Asaph—(see Introduction). God is good to His people. For although the prosperity of the wicked, and the afflictions of the righteous, tempted the Psalmist to misgivings of God's government, yet the sudden and fearful ruin of the ungodly, seen in the light of God's revelation, reassures his heart; and, chiding himself for his folly, he is led to confide renewedly in God, and celebrate His goodness and love.
1. The abrupt announcement of the theme indicates that it is the conclusion of a perplexing mental conflict, which is then detailed (compare Jer 12:1-4).
Truly—or, "Surely it is so."
clean heart—(Ps 18:26) describes the true Israel.
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