|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 6. - Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; or, is as a chain about their neck (Revised Version) - makes them stiffen their neck, and hold their head aloft. Not being afflicted, they regard themselves as favourites of Heaven, and are therefore puffed up with pride, which they show in their gait and bearing. Violence covereth them as a garment. Pride and self-conceit naturally lead on to violence, which becomes so habitual to them that it seems like their ordinary apparel (comp. Psalm 109:18, 19). The violence of the great ones in Israel is continually denounced, both by psalmists and prophets (see Psalm 11:2; Psalm 55:9; Psalm 58:2; Psalm 72:14, etc.; Isaiah 1:15; Isaiah 3:15; Isaiah 59:3-7; Hosea 4:1, 2; Amos 3:10, etc.).
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Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain, Which was the sin of the devils, and of our first parents, and of Sodom, and is the sin of antichrist; and which, of all sins, is most hateful to God; this arises from, at least is increased by, outward prosperity. Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked; pride and fulness of bread went together in Sodom; and, where it is predominant, it binds as a chain; such who are under the power of it are slaves unto it, they are chained and fettered by it, and it possesses them wholly; it shows itself in the several members of their bodies, in their eyes and feet, their walk and gait, and in their conduct and behaviour, and in the several actions of their lives, and is rightly called "the pride of life"; or rather they bind it about themselves as a chain, fancying it to be an ornament to them, what sets them off, and makes them look great in the eyes of others; whereas the reverse is what is of great price, and in high esteem with God and good men; namely, the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit:
violence covereth them as a garment; wicked men that are prosperous and proud are generally oppressive to others; and are very often open in their acts of violence, which are as openly done and to be seen of all men, as the clothes upon their backs; and frequently the clothes they wear are got by rapine and oppression, so that they may properly be called garments of violence; see Isaiah 59:6.
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