|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
73:15-20 The psalmist having shown the progress of his temptation, shows how faith and grace prevailed. He kept up respect for God's people, and with that he restrained himself from speaking what he had thought amiss. It is a sign that we repent of the evil thoughts of the heart, if we suppress them. Nothing gives more offence to God's children, than to say it is vain to serve God; for there is nothing more contrary to their universal experience. He prayed to God to make this matter plain to him; and he understood the wretched end of wicked people; even in the height of their prosperity they were but ripening for ruin. The sanctuary must be the resort of a tempted soul. The righteous man's afflictions end in peace, therefore he is happy; the wicked man's enjoyments end in destruction, therefore he is miserable. The prosperity of the wicked is short and uncertain, slippery places. See what their prosperity is; it is but a vain show, it is only a corrupt imagination, not substance, but a mere shadow; it is as a dream, which may please us a little while we are slumbering, yet even then it disturbs our repose.
Verse 15. - If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children; or, if I had said (Revised Version). If, when these feelings assailed me, and the lot of the ungodly man seemed to me much better than my own, I had resolved to speak out all my thoughts, and let them be generally known, then should I have dealt treacherously with (Revised Version) the generation of thy children. I should have deserted their cause; I should have hurt their feelings; I should have put a stumbling block in their way. Therefore, the psalmist implies, he said nothing - a reticence well worthy of imitation.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
If I say, I will speak thus,.... Either as the wicked do, Psalm 73:8 or rather as he had thought in his own mind, Psalm 73:13, wherefore he kept it all to himself, and did not make known to others the reasonings of his mind, and the temptations he laboured under:
behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children; of whom care should be taken, above all things, that they be not offended, Matthew 18:6, or "should condemn"; as the Targum; or as Jarchi,
"I should make them transgressors, and wicked persons;''
should represent them as if they were men hated and rejected of God, because of their afflictions: the words may be rendered, "behold the generation of thy children, I have transgressed" (q); by giving way to the above temptation, which might have been prevented by considering the church, children, and people of God, and the care he has taken of them, the regard he has shown to them, and the preservation of them in all ages. The words are an apostrophe to God, who has children by adopting grace, and which appear so by their regeneration; and there is a generation of them in all ages; when one goes, another comes; there is always a seed, a spiritual offspring, to serve him, which is counted for a generation.
(q) "ecce generatio filiorum tuorum, praevaricatus sum", Pagninus, Montanus.
The Treasury of David
15 If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children.
16 When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me.
17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.
"If I say, I will speak thus." It is not always wise to speak one's thoughts; if they remain within, they will only injure ourselves; but, once uttered, their mischief may be great. From such a man as the Psalmist, the utterance which his discontent suggested would have been a heavy blow and deep discouragement to the whole brotherhood. He dared not, therefore, come to such a resolution, but paused, and would not decide to declare his feelings. It was well, for in his case second thoughts were by far the best. "I should offend against the generation of thy children." I should scandalise them, grieve them, and perhaps cause them to offend also. We ought to look at the consequences of our speech to all others, and especially to the church of God. Woe unto the man by whom offence cometh! Rash, undigested, ill-considered speech, is responsible for much of the heart-burning and trouble in the churches. Would to God that, like Asaph, men would bridle their tongues. Where we have any suspicion of being wrong, it is better to be silent; it can do no harm to be quiet, and it may do serious damage to spread abroad our hastily formed opinions. To grieve the children of God by appearing to act perfidiously and betray the truth, is a sin so heinous, that if the consciences of heresy-mongers were not seared as with a hot iron, they would not be so glib as they are to publish abroad their novelties. Expressions which convey the impression that the Lord acts unjustly or unkindly, especially if they fall from the lips of men of known character and experience, are as dangerous as firebrands among stubble; they are used for blasphemous purposes by the ill-disposed; and the timid and trembling are sure to be cast down thereby, and to find reason for yet deeper distress of soul.
"When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me." The thought of scandalising the family of God he could not bear, and yet his inward thoughts seethed and fermented, and caused an intolerable anguish within. To speak might have relieved one sorrow, but, as it would have created another, he forbore so dangerous a remedy; yet this did not remove the first pangs, which grew even worse and worse, and threatened utterly to overwhelm him. A smothered grief is hard to endure. The triumph of conscience which compels us to keep the wolf hidden beneath our own garments, does not forbid its gnawing at our vitals. Suppressed fire in the bones rages more fiercely than if it could gain a vent at the mouth. Those who know Asaph's dilemma will pity him as none others can.
"Until I went into the sanctuary of. God." His mind entered the eternity where God dwells as in a holy place, he left the things of sense for the things invisible, his heart gazed within the veil, he stood where the thrice holy God stands. Thus he shifted his point of view, and apparent disorder resolved itself into harmony, The motions of the planets appear most discordant from this world which is itself a planet; they appear as "progressive, retrograde, and standing still;" but could we fix our observatory in the sun, which is the centre of the system, we should perceive all the planets moving in perfect circle around the head of the great solar family. "Then understood I their end." He had seen too little to be able to judge; a wider view changed his judgment; he saw with his mind's enlightened eye the future of the wicked, and his soul was in debate no longer as to the happiness of their condition. No envy gnaws now at his heart, but a holy horror both of their impending doom, and of their present guilt, fills his soul. He recoils from being dealt with in the same manner as the proud sinners, whom just now he regarded with admiration.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
15. Freed from idiomatic phrases, this verse expresses a supposition, as, "Had I thus spoken, I should," &c., intimating that he had kept his troubles to himself.
generation of thy children—Thy people (1Jo 3:1).
offend—literally, "deceive, mislead."
Psalm 73:15 Parallel Commentaries
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