Psalm 106:31
And that was counted to him for righteousness to all generations for ever more.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Psalm 106:31. And that was counted to him for righteousness — And although that action of his might seem rash, severe, and irregular, as being done by a private person, and a priest, and allowing the delinquents no space for repentance, it was nevertheless accepted and rewarded by God as an act of justice and piety, agreeable to his mind, and proceeding from a sincere zeal for his honour, and for the good of his people; and God gave a public testimony of his approbation of it, to be recorded to all generations, and the priesthood to be continued to Phinehas and his seed in all succeeding ages. Of all which see Numbers 25.106:13-33 Those that will not wait for God's counsel, shall justly be given up to their own hearts' lusts, to walk in their own counsels. An undue desire, even for lawful things, becomes sinful. God showed his displeasure for this. He filled them with uneasiness of mind, terror of conscience, and self-reproach. Many that fare deliciously every day, and whose bodies are healthful, have leanness in their souls: no love to God, no thankfulness, no appetite for the Bread of life, and then the soul must be lean. Those wretchedly forget themselves, that feast their bodies and starve their souls. Even the true believer will see abundant cause to say, It is of the Lord's mercies that I am not consumed. Often have we set up idols in our hearts, cleaved to some forbidden object; so that if a greater than Moses had not stood to turn away the anger of the Lord, we should have been destroyed. If God dealt severely with Moses for unadvised words, what do those deserve who speak many proud and wicked words? It is just in God to remove those relations that are blessings to us, when we are peevish and provoking to them, and grieve their spirits.And that was counted unto him for righteousness - See Numbers 25:11-13. Compare the notes at Romans 4:3. The meaning here is, that this was regarded as a "proof" or "demonstration" that he was a righteous man - a man fearing God.

Unto all generations for evermore - Hebrew, "To generation and generation forever." The record would be transmitted from one generation to another, without any intermission, and would be permanent. This is one of the illustrations of the statement so frequently made in the Scriptures (compare Exodus 20:6; Deuteronomy 7:9; Romans 11:28) that the blessings of religion will descend to a distant posterity. Such instances are constantly occurring, and there is no legacy which a man can leave his family so valuable as the fact that he himself fears God and keeps his laws.

31. counted … righteousness—"a just and rewardable action."

for—or, "unto," to the procuring of righteousness, as in Ro 4:2; 10:4. Here it was a particular act, not faith, nor its object Christ; and what was procured was not justifying righteousness, or what was to be rewarded with eternal life; for no one act of man's can be taken for complete obedience. But it was that which God approved and rewarded with a perpetual priesthood to him and his descendants (Nu 25:13; 1Ch 6:4, &c.).

And although that action of his might seem harsh, and rash, and irregular, as being done by a private person and a priest, and as allowing the delinquents no space for repentance, it was accepted and rewarded by God as an act of justice and piety agreeable to his mind, and proceeding from a sincere zeal for God’s honour, and for the good of God’s people; and God gave him a public testimony of his approbation to be recorded to all generations, and the priesthood to be continued to him and his in all succeeding generations, of all which see Numbers 25. And that was counted unto him for righteousness,.... Not for his justifying righteousness before God; for all the works of righteousness done by the best of men cannot justify them before him, much less a single action: but his executing judgment in the manner he did, or slaying the above two persons, was esteemed a righteous action by the Lord himself; who upon it caused the plague to cease, and likewise gave to Phinehas the covenant of an everlasting priesthood, and to his posterity; whereby the action had eternal honour put upon it, and was sufficiently secured from the calumny of men; who might condemn it as a rash action done by a private person, assuming the office of a public magistrate; and as being a cruel one, not giving the criminals time for repentance. But all this is set aside by the testimony of God himself, approving of it; and so it continues to be esteemed, as it is said it should,

unto all generations for evermore: whenever it is spoken of, it is spoken of with commendation, as a righteous action, as expressive of true zeal for the Lord of hosts. Moreover, the covenant made with him upon it, which confirmed the justness of it, that taking place in Zadok, a priest of his line, continued in it till the Messiah came, who is a Priest for ever: see Ezekiel 44:15.

And that was {s} counted unto him for righteousness unto all generations for evermore.

(s) This act declared his living faith, and for his faith's sake was accepted.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
31. The zeal of Phinehas was an act of faith. He was a true son of Abraham (Genesis 15:6): and his reward was “the covenant of an everlasting priesthood” (Numbers 25:12-13).Verse 31. - And that was counted unto him for righteousness (comp. Numbers 25:11-13, and see also Ecclesiastes 45:23, 24; 1 Macc. 2:26, 54). Unto all generations forevermore. The praise awarded to Phinehas, here and in Numbers 25, is an everlasting testimony to him, though the "everlasting priesthood" of Numbers 25:13 has passed away. The fact to which the poet refers in Psalm 106:24, viz., the rebellion in consequence of the report of the spies, which he brings forward as the fourth principal sin, is narrated in Numbers 13, Numbers 14. The appellation ארץ חמדּה is also found in Jeremiah 3:19; Zechariah 7:14. As to the rest, the expression is altogether Pentateuchal. "They despised the land," after Numbers 14:31; "they murmured in their tents," after Deuteronomy 1:27; "to lift up the land" equals to swear, after Exodus 6:8; Deuteronomy 32:40; the threat להפּיל, to make them fall down, fall away, after Numbers 14:29, Numbers 14:32. The threat of exile is founded upon the two great threatening chapters, Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28:1; cf. more particularly Leviticus 26:33 (together with the echoes in Ezekiel 5:12; Ezekiel 12:14, etc.), Deuteronomy 28:64 (together with the echoes in Jeremiah 9:15; Ezekiel 22:15, etc.). Ezekiel 20:23 stands in a not accidental relationship to Psalm 106:26.; and according to that passage, וּלהפיל is an error of the copyist for וּלהפיץ (Hitzig).

Now follows in Psalm 106:28-31 the fifth of the principal sins, viz., the taking part in the Moabitish worship of Baal. The verb נצמד (to be bound or chained), taken from Numbers 25:3, Numbers 25:5, points to the prostitution with which Baal Per, this Moabitish Priapus, was worshipped. The sacrificial feastings in which, according to Numbers 25:2, they took part, are called eating the sacrifices of the dead, because the idols are dead beings (nekroi', Wisd. 13:10-18) as opposed to God, the living One. The catena on Revelation 2:14 correctly interprets: τὰ τοῖς εἰδώλοις τελεσθέντα κρέα.

(Note: In the second section of Aboda zara, on the words of the Mishna: "The flesh which is intended to be offered first of all to idols is allowed, but that which comes out of the temple is forbidden, because it is like sacrifices of the dead," it is observed, fol. 32b: "Whence, said R. Jehuda ben Bethra, do I know that that which is offered to idols (תקרובת לעבדה זרה) pollutes like a dead body? From Psalm 106:28. As the dead body pollutes everything that is under the same roof with it, so also does everything that is offered to idols." The Apostle Paul declares the objectivity of this pollution to be vain, cf. more particularly 1 Corinthians 10:28.)

The object of "they made angry" is omitted; the author is fond of this, cf. Psalm 106:7 and Psalm 106:32. The expression in Psalm 106:29 is like Exodus 19:24. The verb עמד is chosen with reference to Numbers 17:13. The result is expressed in Psalm 106:30 after Numbers 25:8, Numbers 25:18., Numbers 17:13. With פּלּל, to adjust, to judge adjustingly (lxx, Vulgate, correctly according to the sense, ἐξιλάσατο), the poet associates the thought of the satisfaction due to divine right, which Phinehas executed with the javelin. This act of zeal for Jahve, which compensated for Israel's unfaithfulness, was accounted unto him for righteousness, by his being rewarded for it with the priesthood unto everlasting ages, Numbers 25:10-13. This accounting of a work for righteousness is only apparently contradictory to Genesis 15:5.: it was indeed an act which sprang from a constancy in faith, and one which obtained for him the acceptation of a righteous man for the sake of this upon which it was based, by proving him to be such.

In Psalm 106:32, Psalm 106:33 follows the sixth of the principal sins, viz., the insurrection against Moses and Aaron at the waters of strife in the fortieth year, in connection with which Moses forfeited the entrance with them into the Land of Promise (Numbers 20:11., Deuteronomy 1:37; Deuteronomy 32:51), since he suffered himself to be carried away by the persevering obstinacy of the people against the Spirit of God (המרה mostly providing the future for מרה, as in Psalm 106:7, Psalm 106:43, Psalm 78:17, Psalm 78:40, Psalm 78:56, of obstinacy against God; on את־רוּחו cf. Isaiah 63:10) into uttering the words addressed to the people, Numbers 20:10, in which, as the smiting of the rock which was twice repeated shows, is expressed impatience together with a tinge of unbelief. The poet distinguishes, as does the narrative in Numbers 20, between the obstinacy of the people and the transgression of Moses, which is there designated, according to that which lay at the root of it, as unbelief. The retrospective reference to Numbers 27:14 needs adjustment accordingly.

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