For the righteous LORD loves righteousness; his countenance does behold the upright.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)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.
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.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.
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 16:1; Psalm 36:8) he needs no other refuge. However well-meant and well-grounded the advice, he considers it too full of fear and is himself too confident in God, to follow it. David also introduces his friends as speaking in other passages in the Psalms belonging to the period of the Absolom persecution, Psalm 3:3; Psalm 4:7. Their want of courage, which he afterwards had to reprove and endeavour to restore, showed itself even before the storm had burst, as we see here. With the words "how can you say" he rejects their proposal as unreasonable, and turns it as a reproach against them. If the Chethb, נוּדוּ, is adopted, then those who are well-disposed, say to David, including with him his nearest subjects who are faithful to him: retreat to your mountain, (ye) birds (צפּור collective as in Psalm 8:9; Psalm 148:10); or, since this address sounds too derisive to be appropriate to the lips of those who are supposed to be speaking here: like birds (comparatio decurtata as in Psalm 22:14; Psalm 58:9; Psalm 24:5; Psalm 21:8). הרכס which seems more natural in connection with the vocative rendering of צפור (cf. Isaiah 18:6 with Ezekiel 39:4) may also be explained, with the comparative rendering, without any need for the conjecture הר כמו צפור (cf. Deuteronomy 33:19), as a retrospective glance at the time of the persecution under Saul: to the mountains, which formerly so effectually protected you (cf. 1 Samuel 26:20; 1 Samuel 23:14). But the Ker, which is followed by the ancient versions, exchanges נודו for גוּדי, cf שׁחי Isaiah 51:23. Even reading it thus we should not take צפור, which certainly is epicoene, as vocative: flee to your mountain, O bird (Hitz.); and for this reason, that this form of address is not appropriate to the idea of those who profer their counsel. But we should take it as an equation instead of a comparison: fly to your mountain (which gave you shelter formerly), a bird, i.e., after the manner of a bird that flies away to its mountain home when it is chased in the plain. But this Ker appears to be a needless correction, which removes the difficulty of נודו coming after לנפשׁי, by putting another in the place of this synallage numeri.
(Note: According to the above rendering: "Flee ye to your mountain, a bird" it would require to be accented נודו הרכם צפוז (as a transformation from נודו הרכם צפור vid., Baer's Accentssystem XVIII. 2). The interpunction as we have it, נודו הרכם צפור, harmonises with the interpretation of Varenius as of Lb Spira (Pentateuch-Comm. 1815): Fugite (o socii Davidis), mons vester (h. e. praesidium vestrum, Psalm 30:8, cui innitimini) est avis errans.)
In Psalm 11:2 the faint-hearted ones give as the ground of their advice, the fearful peril which threatens from the side of crafty and malicious foes. As הנּה implies, this danger is imminent. The perfect overrides the future: they are not only already in the act of bending the bow, they have made ready their arrow, i.e., their deadly weapon, upon the string (יתר equals מיתר, Psalm 21:13, Arab. watar, from יתר, wata ra, to stretch tight, extend, so that the thing is continued in one straight line) and even taken aim, in order to discharge it (ירה with ל of the aim, as in Psalm 54:5, with acc. of the object) in the dark (i.e., secretly, like an assassin) at the upright (those who by their character are opposed to them). In Psalm 11:3 the faint-hearted still further support their advice from the present total subversion of justice. השּׁתות are either the highest ranks, who support the edifice of the state, according to Isaiah 19:10, or, according to Psalm 82:5, Ezekiel 30:4, the foundations of the state, upon whom the existence and well-being of the land depends. We prefer the latter, since the king and those who are loyal to him, who are associated in thought with צדּיק, are compared to the שׁתות. The construction of the clause beginning with כּי is like Job 38:41. The fut. has a present signification. The perf. in the principal clause, as it frequently does elsewhere (e.g., Psalm 39:8; Psalm 60:11; Genesis 21:7; Numbers 23:10; Job 12:9; 2 Kings 20:9) in interrogative sentences, corresponds to the Latin conjunctive (here quid fecerit), and is to be expressed in English by the auxiliary verbs: when the bases of the state are shattered, what can the righteous do? he can do nothing. And all counter-effort is so useless that it is well to be as far from danger as possible.
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