Psalm 28:5
Because they regard not the works of the LORD, nor the operation of his hands, he shall destroy them, and not build them up.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) The works of the Lord, nor the operation of his handsi.e., His strict and even-handed justice, which the wicked forget or, deceived by appearances (Isaiah 5:19), ignore. For the contrast between “build up” and “pull down,” compare Jeremiah 42:10. This verse is in that prophet’s style (Jeremiah 1:10; Jeremiah 18:9).

Psalm 28:5. Because they regard not the works of the Lord — The providential works of God, both for and toward his church and people, by which works he manifests himself, declares his mind and will, and speaks to the children of men; and a serious observation of which would have made them afraid of opposing God’s people, or of attempting to obstruct God’s designs in their favour. It is justly observed by Henry here, that “a stupid regardlessness of the works of God is the cause of the sin of sinners, and so becomes the cause of their ruin.” Why do men question the being and attributes of God, but because they do not duly regard the operations of his hands, which declare his glory, and in which the invisible things of him are clearly seen? Why do men forget him, and live without him; nay, affront him, and live in rebellion against him, but because they consider not the instances of that wrath of his which is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men? Why do the enemies of God’s people hate and persecute them, and devise mischief against them, but because they regard not the works God has wrought for his church, by which he has made it appear how dear it is to him? See Isaiah 5:12.28:1-5 David is very earnest in prayer. Observe his faith in prayer; God is my rock, on whom I build my hope. Believers should not rest till they have received some token that their prayers are heard. He prays that he may not be numbered with the wicked. Save me from being entangled in the snares they have laid for me. Save me from being infected with their sins, and from doing as they do. Lord, never leave me to use such arts of deceit and treachery for my safety, as they use for my ruin. Believers dread the way of sinners; the best are sensible of the danger they are in of being drawn aside: we should all pray earnestly to God for his grace to keep us. Those who are careful not to partake with sinners in their sins, have reason to hope that they shall not receive their plagues. He speaks of the just judgments of the Lord on the workers of iniquity, ver. 4. This is not the language of passion or revenge. It is a prophecy that there will certainly come a day, when God will punish every man who persists in his evil deeds. Sinners shall be reckoned with, not only for the mischief they have done, but for the mischief they designed, and did what they could to effect. Disregard of the works of the Lord, is the cause of the sin of sinners, and becomes the cause of their ruin.Because they regard not the works of the Lord - What the Lord does in creation; in his providence; through His commands and laws; and by His Spirit. They do not find pleasure in His works; they do not give heed to the intimations of His will in His providential dealings; they do not listen to His commands; they do not yield to the influences of His Spirit. "Nor the operation of his hands." What He is now doing. The sense is essentially the same as in the former member of the sentence.

He shall destroy them - He will pull them down, instead of building them up. They expose themselves to His displeasure, and He will bring deserved punishment upon them.

And not build them up - He will not favor them; He will not give them prosperity. Health, happiness, salvation are to be found only in conformity with the laws which God has ordained. Neither can be found in violating those laws, or in any other method than that which He has ordained. Sooner or later the violation of law, in regard to these things, and in regard to everything, must lead to calamity and ruin.

5. Disregard of God's judgments brings a righteous punishment.

destroy … build … up—The positive strengthened by the negative form.

The works of the Lord, nor the operation of his hands, i.e. the providential works of God, both for and towards his church and people in general; the serious observation whereof would have made them afraid of opposing them, and desirous to join themselves with them; and for and towards me in particular, concerning whose succession to the kingdom God hath so expressly declared his mind and will, and to whom he hath given so many and such wonderful preservations, that they who will not acknowledge it, but continue to oppose it, may well be presumed to be guilty of rebellion against God’s will, and of the contempt of his providence.

He shall destroy them, and not build them up, i.e. destroy them utterly and irrecoverably, because they wilfully shut their eyes against the light of God’s word and works. Because they regard not the works of the Lord,.... Neither the work of creation, as if there was no first cause of all things; nor the work of Providence, taking no notice either of the judgments or of the mercies of God; as though they believed that God had forsaken the earth, and would do neither good nor evil; and still less the work of redemption, which in covenant, promise, and prophecy, was appointed for the Messiah to work out; and as for the work of the Spirit of God upon the soul, they had no notion of that, of the nature and necessity of it; the things of the Spirit of God being foolishness to them, and undiscernible by them; see Isaiah 5:12. Perhaps the psalmist may have some regard to his being anointed by Samuel, according to the will of God, and to the victory which he obtained over Goliath, and over others, which justly gained him great esteem among some, and created envy in others; and also the wonderful protection of him from time to time; the Chaldee paraphrase is, "because they do not understand the law of the Lord". It follows,

nor the operation of his hands; in which his hand was so very apparent, that nothing less could be said than that this was the finger of God; wherefore,

he shall destroy them, and not build them up; that is, they shall be irrecoverably lost; they shall be punished with everlasting destruction; there will be no help or remedy for them: some (s) understand this as a prayer, that God would destroy them in such a manner, and render it, "let him destroy them", &c. (t).

(s) Kimchi in loc. Vid. Aben Ezram in loc. (t) "destruat eos", Vatablus; so the Arabic version.

Because they regard not the works of the LORD, nor the operation of his hands, he shall {e} destroy them, and not build them up.

(e) Let them be utterly destroyed as in Mal 1:4.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. Atheists in practice if not in profession, they deny that Jehovah governs the world, and refuse to discern His working in creation, in providence, and in judgement. Unbelief lies at the root of all their sin. The works of the Lord and the operation of his hands stand in strong contrast to their work and the operation of their hands in Psalm 28:4. Compare the parallels to this and Psalm 28:4 in Isaiah 1:16; Isaiah 3:8-11; Isaiah 5:12; Isaiah 5:19; Isaiah 22:11.

he shall destroy them] Better with P.B.V. and R.V., he shall break them down. Cp. Jeremiah 24:6.Verse 5. - Because they regard not the works of the Lord, nor the operation of his hands. They do not note God's providential workings. If they did, they would see that judgment falls upon the wicked, and, seeing this, they would fear and abstain from evil. But they take no notice - God is not in all their thoughts. For this neglect and contempt of him, he shall destroy them, and not build them up. Self-encouragement to firmer confidence of faith. Joined to Psalm 27:12 (Aben-Ezra, Kimchi), Psalm 27:13 trails badly after it. We must, with Geier, Dachselt, and others, suppose that the apodosis is wanting to the protasis with its לוּלא pointed with three points above,

(Note: The ו has not any point above it, because it might be easily mistaken for a Cholem, vid., Baer's Psalterium p. 130.)

and four below, according to the Masora (cf. B. Berachoth 4a), but a word which is indispensably necessary, and is even attested by the lxx (ἑαυτῇ) and the Targum (although not by any other of the ancient versions); cf. the protasis with לוּ, which has no apodosis, in Genesis 50:15, and the apodoses with כּי after לוּלי in Genesis 31:42; Genesis 43:10; 1 Samuel 35:34; 2 Samuel 2:27 (also Numbers 22:33, where אוּלי equals אם לא equals לוּלי), which are likewise to be explained per aposiopesin. The perfect after לוּלא (לוּלי) has sometimes the sense of a plusquamperfectum (as in Genesis 43:10, nisi cunctati essemus), and sometimes the sense of an imperfect, as in the present passage (cf. Deuteronomy 32:29, si saperent). The poet does not speak of a faith that he once had, a past faith, but, in regard to the danger that is even now abiding and present, of the faith he now has, a present faith. The apodosis ought to run something like this (Psalm 119:92; Psalm 94:17): did I not believe, were not confidence preserved to me...then (אז( ne or כּי אז) I should perish; or: then I had suddenly perished. But he has such faith, and he accordingly in Psalm 27:14 encourages himself to go on cheerfully waiting and hoping; he speaks to himself, it is, as it were, the believing half of his soul addressing the despondent and weaker half. Instead of ואמץ (Deuteronomy 31:7) the expression is, as in Psalm 31:25, ויאמץ לבּך, let thy heart be strong, let it give proof of strength. The rendering "May He (Jahve) strengthen thy heart" would require יאמּץ; but האמיץ, as e.g., הרחיב Psalm 25:17, belongs to the transitive denominatives applying to the mind or spirit, in which the Hebrew is by no means poor, and in which the Arabic is especially rich.

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