Psalm 11:7
For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) His countenance.—Better, the upright shall behold His countenance. This beautiful religious hope finds its highest expression in the beatitude on the pure in heart. The beatific vision in Dante is its most glorious poetical development. By the vision of God the Hebrew poet means triumph of right and the acknowledgment of his innocence—light and peace after darkness and trouble, as in Job 33:26. (Comp. Psalm 17:15; Psalm 41:12.)

Psalm 11:7. For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness — This is mentioned as the reason why God punishes the wicked so dreadfully. It is because, being righteous, essentially righteous, himself, he cannot but love righteousness, which is his own image stamped on the faithful, by his own Spirit. He therefore must proportionably hate wickedness, and of course show his hatred to it before the whole intelligent creation, by punishing such as live and die in the commission of it. His countenance doth behold the upright — Namely, with an eye of approbation and paternal affection, his gracious providence watching continually over and taking care of them.

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.For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness - This would be more correctly rendered, "For Jehovah is righteous; he loves righteousness." The idea is, that God is himself righteous, and, consequently, he loves those who are righteous. He may be confided in, therefore, by the righteous as their friend, and being under his protection they have nothing to fear.

His countenance doth behold the upright - The word rendered "countenance" is, in the Hebrew, in the plural number; literally," his faces." It is not easy to account for this use of the plural, though it is common in the Scriptures. There may be an allusion to the fact that man seems to have two faces - one on the right side, and one on the left, two eyes, two cheeks, two nostrils, etc., as if made up of two persons. Applied to God, it has no other signification than it has when applied to man; nor should we seek to find anything mystical in the fact that the plural form is used. The term here, like the eyelids in Psalm 11:6, is equivalent to eyes, since the most remarkable feature of the countenance is the eyes; and the idea is, that God looks upon the upright; that is, he sees their dangers amid their wants; he looks upon them with favor and affection. Being thus constantly under his eye, and being objects of his favorable regard, they can have nothing to fear; or, in other words, they are safe. This, then, is the argument of the righteous man, in reply to the suggestion Psalm 11:1 that he should "flee" from danger. The argument is, that God would be his defender, and that he might safely rely on His protection. The wicked have everything to fear; the righteous, nothing. The one is never safe; the other, always. The one will be delivered out of all his troubles; the end of the other can be only ruin.

7. his countenance—literally, "their faces," a use of the plural applied to God, as in Ge 1:26; 3:22; 11:7; Isa 6:8, &c., denoting the fulness of His perfections, or more probably originating in a reference to the trinity of persons. "Faces" is used as "eyes" (Ps 11:4), expressing here God's complacency towards the upright (compare Ps 34:15, 16). This is given as the reason why God hateth and punisheth wicked men so dreadfully, because he loves righteousness, and therefore must needs hate wickedness and punish wicked men. Or, but, as this particle is oft rendered; for this seems to be added by way of opposition to what he now said concerning the state of wicked men.

His countenance doth behold the upright; to wit, with an eye of approbation, and true and tender affection, and watchful and gracious providence; which is oft signified by God’s beholding or looking upon men, as Exodus 2:25 Ezra 5:5 Psalm 25:18 33:18 34:15, &c.: as, on the contrary, God is oft said to hide or turn away his face or eyes from wicked men.

For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness,.... The Lord is righteous in himself, and in all his ways and works; and therefore righteousness, as it lies both in punishing the wicked, and in maintaining the righteous cause of his people, must be loved by him, it being agreeable to his nature: he loves to exercise righteousness in the earth, to administer it to and among men; this he delights in. He is well pleased with the righteousness of his Son, it being satisfactory to his justice, and that by which his law is magnified and made honourable; and he is well pleased with his people, as they are clothed with it: and he approves of their righteous actions, as they are done in obedience to his righteous law, in faith, from a principle of love, and with a view to his glory; these are acceptable to him in Christ;

his countenance doth behold the upright; whom wicked men privily shoot at, Psalm 11:2; God looks with pleasure upon them, and takes delight in them, and takes care of them, protects and defends them, and at last saves them; and which, with all that goes before, was an encouragement to David to trust in the Lord; see Psalm 7:10; and moreover, the Lord lifts up the light of his countenance on such, and indulges them with his gracious presence, than which nothing is more comfortable and desirable. Some choose to render the word, "their countenance" (y), meaning the trinity of Persons, Father, Son, and Spirit, who all have a gracious regard to such: others render the clause thus, "the upright shall see his face", the face of God; so the Chaldee paraphrase and the Arabic version; see Psalm 17:15.

(y) "facies eorum", Genebrardus, Vatablus, Gussetius; so R. Japhet in Aben Ezra, who compares it with Genesis 20.13.

For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
7. For Jehovah is righteous; he loveth righteous deeds;

The upright shall behold his face.

The character of Jehovah is the ground of the judgement which has been described; and the reward of the upright is contrasted with the punishment of the wicked.

Righteous deeds may denote the manifestations of Jehovah’s righteousness (Jdg 5:11; 1 Samuel 12:7), as well as the righteous acts of men. (Isaiah 33:15); but the context points to the latter meaning here.

The A.V. rendering of the second line gives a good sense:—He beholds the upright with favour. The P.B.V. follows the ancient versions in its rendering, ‘will behold the thing that is just.’ But usage and parallel passages are decisive in favour of the rendering of R.V. given above. The wicked are banished and destroyed; but the upright are admitted to the presence of Jehovah, as trusted courtiers to the presence of their sovereign (cp. Psalm 5:4-5; Psalm 15:1; Psalm 17:15; Psalm 140:13); they gaze upon that Face which is the source of light and joy and salvation (Psalm 4:6; Psalm 16:11; Psalm 44:3). It is one of the ‘golden sayings’ of the Psalter, ‘fulfilled’ in the revelation of the Gospel. See Matthew 5:8; 1 John 3:2; Revelation 22:4.

Verse 7. - For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness; rather, for the Lord is righteous; he loveth righteousness (see the Revised Version); literally, righteousnesses; i.e. good and righteous deeds. His countenance doth behold the upright. So the LXX., the Vulgate, Hengstenberg, Bishop Horsley, and ethers; but the bulk of modern commentators prefer to render, "The upright will behold his countenance." Either translation yields a good sense.



Psalm 11:7Psalm 11:7, which assumes a declaration of something that is near at hand, is opposed to our rendering the voluntative form of the fut., ימטר, as expressive of a wish. The shorter form of the future is frequently indicative in the sense of the future, e.g., Psalm 72:13, or of the present, e.g., Psalm 58:5, or of the past, Psalm 18:12. Thus it here affirms a fact of the future which follows as a necessity from Psalm 11:4, Psalm 11:5. Assuming that פּהים might be equivalent to פּחמים, even then the Hebrew פּחם, according to the general usage of the language, in distinction from גּחלת, does not denote burning, but black coals. It ought therefore to have been אשׁ פּחמי. Hitzig reads פּהים from פּיח ashes; but a rain of ashes is no medium of punishment. Bצttcher translates it "lumps" according to Exodus 39:3; Numbers 17:3; but in these passages the word means thin plates. We adhere to the signification snares, Job 22:10, cf. Job 21:17, Proverbs 27:5; and following the accentuation, we understand it to be a means of punishment by itself. First of all descends a whole discharge of missiles which render all attempt at flight impossible, viz., lightnings; for the lightning striking out its course and travelling from one point in the distance, bending itself like a serpent, may really be compared to a snare, or noose, thrown down from above. In addition to fire and brimstone (Genesis 19:24) we have also רוּח זלעפות. The lxx renders it πνεῦμα καταιγίδος, and the Targum זעפא עלעוּלא, procella turbinea. The root is not לעף, which cannot be sustained as a cognate form of להב, לאב to burn, but זעף, which (as 1 Samuel 5:10 shows) exactly corresponds to the Latin aestuare which combines in itself the characteristics of heat and violent motion, therefore perhaps: a wind of flames, i.e., the deadly simoom, which, according to the present division of the verse is represented in connection with אשׁ וגפרית, as the breath of the divine wrath pouring itself forth like a stream of brimstone, Isaiah 30:33. It thus also becomes clear how this can be called the portion of their cup, i.e., what is adjudged to them as the contents of their cup which they must drain off. מנת (only found in the Davidic Psalms, with the exception of 2 Chronicles 31:4) is both absolutivus and constructivus according to Olshausen (108, c, 165, i), and is derived from manajath, or manawath, which the original feminine termination ath, the final weak radical being blended with it. According to Hupfeld it is constr., springing from מנית, like קצת (in Dan. and Neh.) form קצות. But probably it is best to regard it as equals מנות or מנית, like גּלות equals גּלות.

Thus then Jahve is in covenant with David. Even though he cannot defend himself against his enemies, still, when Jahve gives free course to His hatred in judgment, they will then have to do with the powers of wrath and death, which they will not be able to escape. When the closing distich bases this different relation of God towards the righteous and the unrighteous and this judgment of the latter on the righteousness of God, we at once perceive what a totally different and blessed end awaits the righteous. As Jahve Himself is righteous, so also on His part (1 Samuel 12:7; Micah 6:5, and frequently) and on the part of man (Isaiah 33:15) He loves צדקות, the works of righteousness. The object of אהב ( equals אהב) stands at the head of the sentence, as in Psalm 99:4, cf. Psalm 10:14. In Psalm 11:7 ישׂר designates the upright as a class, hence it is the more natural for the predicate to follow in the plur. (cf. Psalm 9:7; Job 8:19) than to precede as elsewhere (Proverbs 28:1; Isaiah 16:4). The rendering: "His countenance looks upon the upright man" (Hengst. and others) is not a probable one, just because one expects to find something respecting the end of the upright in contrast to that of the ungodly. This rendering is also contrary to the general usage of the language, according to which פנים is always used only as that which is to be seen, not as that which itself sees. It ought to have been עינימו, Psalm 33:18; Psalm 34:16; Job 36:7. It must therefore be translated according to Psalm 17:15; Psalm 140:13 : the upright (quisquis probus est) shall behold His countenance. The pathetic form פנימו instead of פּניו was specially admissible here, where God is spoken of (as in Deuteronomy 33:2, cf. Isaiah 44:15). It ought not to be denied any longer that mo is sometimes (e.g., Job 20:23, cf. Job 22:2; Job 27:23) a dignified singular suffix. To behold the face of God is in itself impossible to mortals without dying. But when God reveals Himself in love, then He makes His countenance bearable to the creature. And to enjoy this vision of God softened by love is the highest honour God in His mercy can confer on a man; it is the blessedness itself that is reserved for the upright, 140:14. It is not possible to say that what is intended is a future vision of God; but it is just as little possible to say that it is exclusively a vision in this world. To the Old Testament conception the future עולם is certainly lost in the night of Shel. But faith broke through this night, and consoled itself with a future beholding of God, Job 19:26. The redemption of the New Testament has realised this aspiration of faith, since the Redeemer has broken through the night of the realm of the dead, has borne on high with Him the Old Testament saints, and translated them into the sphere of the divine love revealed in heaven.

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