Psalm 11:5
The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.
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Psalm 11:5. The Lord trieth the righteous — God may think fit to try the fidelity of him whom he knows to be upright, by many adversities, that he may afterward give him the more illustrious testimonies of his approbation and love, as well as that he may thereby correct the remaining imperfections of his character, may purge away his dross, and more thoroughly refine him for his Master’s use. But the wicked, &c., his soul hateth — Whatever success the wicked, and he that delights in doing mischief, may have for the present, it is certain God abhors his conduct, and, unless he repent, he will, without fail, severely punish him for abusing his power to oppression and violent dealing.

11:1-7 David's struggle with, and triumph over a strong temptation to distrust God, and betake himself to indirect means for his own safety, in a time of danger. - Those that truly fear God and serve him, are welcome to put their trust in him. The psalmist, before he gives an account of his temptation to distrust God, records his resolution to trust in Him, as that by which he was resolved to live and die. The believer, though not terrified by his enemies, may be tempted, by the fears of his friends, to desert his post, or neglect his work. They perceive his danger, but not his security; they give him counsel that savours of worldly policy, rather than of heavenly wisdom. The principles of religion are the foundations on which the faith and hope of the righteous are built. We are concerned to hold these fast against all temptations to unbelief; for believers would be undone, if they had not God to go to, God to trust in, and future bliss to hope for. The prosperity of wicked people in their wicked, evil ways, and the straits and distresses which the best men are sometimes brought into, tried David's faith. We need not say, Who shall go up to heaven, to fetch us thence a God to trust in? The word is nigh us, and God in the word; his Spirit is in his saints, those living temples, and the Lord is that Spirit. This God governs the world. We may know what men seem to be, but God knows what they are, as the refiner knows the value of gold when he has tried it. God is said to try with his eyes, because he cannot err, or be imposed upon. If he afflicts good people, it is for their trial, therefore for their good. However persecutors and oppressors may prosper awhile, they will for ever perish. God is a holy God, and therefore hates them. He is a righteous Judge, and will therefore punish them. In what a horrible tempest are the wicked hurried away at death! Every man has the portion of his cup assigned him. Impenitent sinner, mark your doom! The last call to repentance is about to be addressed to you, judgement is at hand; through the gloomy shade of death you pass into the region of eternal wrath. Hasten then, O sinner, to the cross of Christ. How stands the case between God and our souls? Is Christ our hope, our consolation, our security? Then, not otherwise, will the soul be carried through all its difficulties and conflicts.The Lord trieth the righteous - That is, he "proves" them, searches them, tests the reality of their piety. His dealings with them are such as to test the genuineness of their religion, and are designed to show their sincerity and the real power of their religious principles. It is not for the purpose of destroying them, or punishing them, that he deals with them as he does, but it is to show the reality of their attachment to him. This language seems here to be used to show the feeling of the persecuted and afflicted author of the psalm. He understood the reason why these calamities were suffered to come upon him - to wit, as a trial of his faith; and therefore it was his duty to remain and bear these troubles, and not to attempt to escape from them by flight. He says, therefore, that these troubles in the case of the righteous were in strong contrast with the purpose of the divine dealings toward the wicked, on whom God would "rain" snares, fire, and brimstone. In their case his judgments were for the purpose of punishing and destroying; in the case of the righteous it was to "try" them, or to test the reality of their religion.

But the wicked - The wicked in general. All the wicked.

And him that loveth violence - Referring particularly here to those who were engaged in persecuting him who was the author of this psalm. They were contemplating acts of violence toward him Psalm 11:2; he says that all such persons were the objects of the divine displeasure, and would be appropriately punished.

His soul hateth - that is, "he" hates. God is often spoken of in language appropriate to man; and he is here referred to as having a soul - as he is elsewhere as having eyes, hands, or feet. The meaning is, that all such persons were the objects of the divine abhorrence, and that the divine dealings with them were not, as with the righteous, to "try" them, but to "punish" and "destroy" them. Knowing this, the persecuted author of the psalm, instead of fleeing, calmly committed himself and his cause to God.

5. The trial of the righteous results in their approval, as it is contrasted with God's hatred to the wicked. The Lord trieth the righteous; either,

1. He examines them, and knows them to be righteous, and consequently approveth, and loveth, and will preserve and bless them; which may be gathered from the contrary condition of the wicked, whom God is supposed to try, though that be not expressed, and upon trial finds them to be wicked, and therefore hates and punisheth them, as it follows. The like ellipsis of a whole sentence, see on Psalm 1:6. Or,

2. He trieth and exerciseth them and their graces by afflictions, or he corrects them for their sins; which is oft called trying, as Psalm 66:10 Zechariah 13:9 Jam 1:12 1 Peter 4:12. So this is spoken by way of concession, and to remove the offence which some men might take at David, whose person and cause they might be apt to condemn because of his troubles. Therefore he saith, God tries, i.e. chastens, even righteous persons; yet still he loves them, and therefore will in due time deliver them. But as for the wicked, let not them rejoice in my trials, for far worse things are appointed for them; God hates them, and will severely punish them.

Him that loveth violence; by which character he describes and brands his enemies, and aggravates their malice, because they chose and practised violence against him, not for any need which they had of it, (for David was a most peaceable and harmless man, and neither pretended nor endeavoured to do any more than to defend himself, and that, as far as was possible, without the offence or injury of any other man,) but merely from their love to injustice and violence, and their implacable hatred against goodness and good men.

His soul hateth; he hateth with or from his soul, i.e. inwardly and ardently.

The Lord trieth the righteous,.... As gold is tried in the fire, by afflictive providences; hereby he tries their graces, their faith, and patience, their hope, and love, and fear; and, by so doing, expresses his love to them, since this is all for their good: and therefore, when he suffers the wicked to go great lengths in persecuting and distressing them, this should not weaken, their confidence in him; he still loves them, and loves when he rebukes and chastises them;

but the wicked, and him that loveth violence, his soul hateth; that is, such who live in a course of sin and wickedness, and who not only do injury to the persons, characters, and properties of men, but love it, and delight therein, and also take pleasure in them that do the same: these God has a continued and inward aversion to; sin and wickedness being the abominable thing his righteous soul hates: and he shows his hatred to them, by not chastising them now, as he does his own people, but reserving everlasting punishment for them hereafter; see Proverbs 13:24.

The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.
5. Each half of the verse is to be completed from the other. God proves and approves the righteous: He proves and rejects the wicked.

trieth] Alloweth in P.B.V. means ‘approveth after trial.’ Cp. Romans 14:22; 1 Thessalonians 2:4.

his soul hateth] Cp. Isaiah 1:14. God’s soul is a bold expression for His innermost, essential nature, which cannot do otherwise than hate evil, and of necessity also the evil man, in so far as he surrenders himself to ‘love violence,’ deliberately choosing evil for his good. Cp. Micah 3:2; Romans 1:32.

Verse 5. - The Lord trieth the righteous. God tries the righteous, scrutinizing them with his penetrating glance, but a glance wherein there is protection and love. When he tries (or closely scrutinizes) the wicked, the result is different - the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. Psalm 11:5The words of David's counsellors who fear for him are now ended. And David justifies his confidence in God with which he began his song. Jahve sits enthroned above all that takes place on earth that disheartens those of little faith. At an infinite distance above the earth, and also above Jerusalem, now in rebellion, is a קדשׁ היכל קד, Psalm 18:7; Psalm 29:9, and in this holy temple is Jahve, the Holy One. Above the earth are the heavens, and in heaven is the throne of Jahve, the King of kings. And this temple, this palace in the heavens, is the place whence issues the final decision of all earthly matters, Habakkuk 2:20; Micah 1:2. For His throne above is also the super-terrestrial judgment-seat, Psalm 9:8; Psalm 103:19. Jahve who sits thereon is the all-seeing and omniscient One. חזה prop. to split, cf. cernere, is used here according to its radical meaning, of a sharp piercing glance. בּחן prop. to try metals by fire, of a fixed and penetrating look that sees into a thing to the foundation of its inmost nature. The mention of the eyelids is intentional. When we observe a thing closely or ponder over it, we draw the eyelids together, in order that our vision may be more concentrated and direct, and become, as it were, one ray piercing through the object. Thus are men open to the all-seeing eyes, the all-searching looks of Jahve: the just and the unjust alike. He tries the righteous, i.e., He knows that in the depth of his soul there is an upright nature that will abide all testing (Psalm 17:3; Job 23:10), so that He lovingly protects him, just as the righteous lovingly depends upon Him. And His soul hates (i.e., He hates him with all the energy of His perfectly and essentially holy nature) the evil-doer and him that delights in the violence of the strong towards the weak. And the more intense this hatred, the more fearful will be the judgments in which it bursts forth.
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