Matthew Poole's Commentary
O LORD God, to whom vengeance belongeth; O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew thyself.THE ARGUMENT
The matter of this Psalm plainly declares the occasion of it to be the oppressions and persecutions of God’s people by wicked and cruel tyrants and enemies, against whom he prays for the Divine aid.
The psalmist, calling to God for justice, Psalm 94:1-4, complaineth of tyranny and impiety, Psalm 94:5-7; teacheth fools God’s providence, Psalm 94:8-11; showeth the blessed effects of affliction, Psalm 94:12,13; and a promise of his presence with the afflicted, Psalm 94:14,15. He is their support, Psalm 94:16-23.
As thou art the supreme Judge of the world, the Patron and Protector of the righteous, and the declared enemy of all wickedness and wicked men.
Lift up thyself, thou judge of the earth: render a reward to the proud.Lift up thyself; either,
1. Ascend thy tribunal to pronounce the sentence. Or,
2. Arise from thy seat, and bestir thyself to punish thy proud enemies, as it here follows.
LORD, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph?No text from Poole on this verse.
How long shall they utter and speak hard things? and all the workers of iniquity boast themselves?Utter; or, pour forth freely, constantly, abundantly, as a fountain doth waters, as this Hebrew word signifies.
Hard things; grievous, and insolent, and intolerable words against thee and thy people; blasphemous, malicious, contemptuous, and minatory words.
Boast themselves; boast of their invincible power, and prosperous success in their wicked designs.
They break in pieces thy people, O LORD, and afflict thine heritage.Those righteous persons whom thou hast chosen for thy portion or inheritance.
They slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless.Whom common humanity obliged them to spare, and pity, and relieve.
Yet they say, The LORD shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it.Their impunity and prosperity in their impious and barbarous practices make them ready to doubt of or to deny the providence of God in the government of his church and of the world. The God of Jacob; so they call him sarcastically; he who taketh that name to himself, but hath no regard to his people, but gives up his Jacob to the spoil, and to the rage of their enemies.
Understand, ye brutish among the people: and ye fools, when will ye be wise?You who, though you think yourselves the wisest of men, yet in truth are the most brutish of all people; for the Hebrews oft express their superlatives in this manner, as Proverbs 30:30 Song of Solomon 1:8, &c. You that have only the shape, but not the understanding, of a man in you.
He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see?Planted: the word is very emphatical, signifying the excellent structure of the ear, or the several organs or instruments belonging to the sense of hearing, and the exact position and firm settlement of all those parts in their proper places; which is justly admired by all that understand it.
Shall he not hear? he must necessarily hear. The truth of the inference depends upon that evident and undeniable principle in reason, that nothing can give to another that which it hath not either formally or more eminently in itself, and that no effect can exceed the virtue of its cause.
Formed; by which word he seems to intimate the accurate and most curious workmanship of the eye, which is observed by all that write upon that subject.
He that chastiseth the heathen, shall not he correct? he that teacheth man knowledge, shall not he know?He that chastiseth the heathen, shall not he correct? He who, when he pleaseth, can and doth punish the Gentiles or nations of the world, is he not able to punish you for your wicked speeches and actions? Or, He that instructeth or teacheth (as this word signifies, Proverbs 9:7 Isaiah 8:11, &c.) the nations, (not only the Jews, but all other people, all mankind, as this clause is explained by the next, he that teacheth man knowledge.) shall not he correct or reprove? and therefore must not he discern and know all your hard speeches and wicked actions? Thus the consequent seems to be put for the antecedent, as is frequent in Scripture, and that not without emphasis, to imply that God does not know their sins with a simple or speculative knowledge, but so as to proceed upon that knowledge to judge and punish them.
He that teacheth man knowledge, by giving him understanding, and the knowledge of many excellent things by the light of nature, shall not he know? to wit, men’s thoughts, of which see Psalm 94:11; and their words and actions, of which he spoke Psalm 94:6,7. These words are not in the Hebrew text, but are easily understood out of the foregoing clause. And the like defects we find elsewhere, as 2 Samuel 5:8, compared with 1 Chronicles 11:6, especially in vehement commotions of the mind, when a man’s passion stops his speech, as it is here, and Psalm 6:3, and in other authors.
The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity.This is an answer to the foregoing question, shall not he know? Yes, he knoweth all things, yea, even the most secret things, as the thoughts of men; and in particular your atheistical thoughts, and much more doth he know your wicked practices, which you said he did not see, Psalm 94:6,7. And he knows that they are generally vain and foolish, and that whilst you mock God and applaud yourselves in such thoughts, you do not relieve, but only delude yourselves with them.
Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O LORD, and teachest him out of thy law;And whereas these ungodly persons esteem themselves the only happy men, and conclude thy people to be of all men the most miserable, because of the manifold persecutions and afflictions which they commonly suffer, and upon this account dispute against thy providence, so far is their opinion from the truth, that the contrary is most certain, that as their prosperity is a real mischief to them, so those afflictions of good men which are accompanied with Divine instructions are great and true blessings to them, themselves being judges.
That thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit be digged for the wicked.For their present and short troubles prepare them for, and lead them to, true rest and blessedness, whilst the seeming felicities of the wicked make way for those tremendous judgments which God hath prepared for them.
For the LORD will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance.Though God may for a time correct his, people, yet he will not utterly destroy them, as he will their enemies, but will in his time put an end to all their calamities.
But judgment shall return unto righteousness: and all the upright in heart shall follow it.But although the world is now full of unrighteous judgments, and even God himself seems not to judge and administer things justly, because he suffers his people to be oppressed, and the wicked to triumph over them, yet the state or things shall be otherwise ordered, God will declare himself to be a righteous Judge, and will advance and establish justice in the earth, and especially among his people.
Follow it, to wit, just judgment restored; they will all approve of it, and imitate this justice of God in all their actions, whereas the wicked will still do wickedly, as is said. Daniel 12:10, and in a land and state of uprightness will deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the Lord, as it is Isaiah 26:10. Otherwise, shall follow him, to wit, the Lord, expressed Psalm 94:14, whose act is to bring judgment to justice. Whilst the wicked forsake God, these will cleave to him, as being confident that, howsoever he may suffer them to be oppressed for a season, yet he will in due time plead their cause, and bring forth their righteousness.
Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?To defend and help me. I looked hither and thither, and called to my friends for their help, saying,
Who will, & c.? but none of them appeared, but God alone helped me, as he saith in the next verse.
Unless the LORD had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence.In the place of silence, to wit, the grave. Compare Job 3:17,18 Psa 88:12 115:17.
When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O LORD, held me up.My foot slippeth; I am now upon the point of falling into mischief and utter destruction.
In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.In the multitude of my thoughts; whilst my heart was filled with various and perplexing thoughts, as this Hebrew word signifies, and tormented with cares and fears about my future state.
Thy comforts; thy promises contained in thy word, and set home by thy Spirit upon my soul, and the remembrance of my former experiences of thy care and kindness to me. Compare Psalm 119:50,76.
Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law?Wilt thou take part with the unrighteous powers of the world, who oppress thy people? It is true, they partake of thy name, being called gods, Psalm 82:1, but I know thou wilt not afford them thy protection and patronage, but wilt manifest thy justice and displeasure against them. This seems to have been one of those comfortable thoughts wherewith the psalmist delighted his soul, as he now said.
Which frameth mischief; who devise wicked devices, and lay heavy burdens upon men that are more righteous than themselves.
By a law; either by virtue of those unrighteous decrees which they have made in form of laws; or by false pretences of law. Or, against law; against all right, and the laws both of God and men.
They gather themselves together against the soul of the righteous, and condemn the innocent blood.Against the soul; against the life, as the soul commonly signifies, and as the next clause explains it. They are not satisfied with the spoil of their estates, but do also thirst after their lives.
Condemn the innocent blood; they shed the blood of those innocent persons whom they have wickedly condemned. Innocent blood is here put for the blood or life of an innocent person, as it is also 1 Samuel 19:5 Matthew 27:4.
But the LORD is my defence; and my God is the rock of my refuge.No text from Poole on this verse.
And he shall bring upon them their own iniquity, and shall cut them off in their own wickedness; yea, the LORD our God shall cut them off.Their own iniquity, i.e. the fruit and punishment of their sins.
In their own wickedness; either in the midst of their sins; or by their own wicked devices, the mischief whereof he will cause to fall upon their own heads.
The Lord our God; the God of Jacob, of whom they said that lie did not see nor regard them, but now they find the contrary proved to their cost.