Psalm 34:21
Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate.
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(21) Desolate.—Better (as in margin), shall be found guilty, or condemned.

Psalm 34:21. Evil shall slay the wicked — Either, 1st, The evil of sin: his own wickedness, though designed against others, shall destroy himself. Or, 2d, The evil of misery. While the afflictions of good men shall have a happy issue, theirs shall end in their total and final destruction. They that hate the righteous shall be desolate — That persecute them and plot their ruin, which is an evidence they hate them, whatsoever they may pretend to the contrary. Dr. Kennicott translates this latter clause, The haters of the Just One, Jehovah shall make desolate; a prediction awfully fulfilled in the punishment of the persecutors of the Messiah, one of whose proper titles this was, Acts 3:14.34:11-22 Let young persons set out in life with learning the fear of the Lord, if they desire true comfort here, and eternal happiness hereafter. Those will be most happy who begin the soonest to serve so good a Master. All aim to be happy. Surely this must look further than the present world; for man's life on earth consists but of few days, and those full of trouble. What man is he that would see the good of that where all bliss is perfect? Alas! few have this good in their thoughts. That religion promises best which creates watchfulness over the heart and over the tongue. It is not enough not to do hurt, we must study to be useful, and to live to some purpose; we must seek peace and pursue it; be willing to deny ourselves a great deal for peace' sake. It is the constant practice of real believers, when in distress, to cry unto God, and it is their constant comfort that he hears them. The righteous are humbled for sin, and are low in their own eyes. Nothing is more needful to true godliness than a contrite heart, broken off from every self-confidence. In this soil every grace will flourish, and nothing can encourage such a one but the free, rich grace of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The righteous are taken under the special protection of the Lord, yet they have their share of crosses in this world, and there are those that hate them. Both from the mercy of Heaven, and the malice of hell, the afflictions of the righteous must be many. But whatever troubles befal them, shall not hurt their souls, for God keeps them from sinning in troubles. No man is desolate, but he whom God has forsaken.Evil shall slay the wicked - That is, his own wicked conduct will be the cause of his destruction. His ruin is not arbitrary, or the mere result of a divine appointment; it is caused by sin, and is the regular and natural consequence of guilt. In the destruction of the sinner, there will not be any one thing which cannot be explained by the supposition that it is the regular effect of sin, or what sin is, in its own nature, suited to produce. The one will measure the other; guilt will be the measure of all that there is in the punishment.

And they that hate the righteous - Another term for the wicked, or a term designating the character of the wicked in one aspect or view. It is true of all the wicked that they must hate the righteous in their hearts, or that they are so opposed to the character of the righteous that it is proper to designate this feeling as "hatred."

Shall be desolate - Margin, "shall be guilty." Prof. Alexander and Hengstenberg render this, as in the margin, "shall be guilty." DeWette, "shall repent." Rosenmuller, "shall be condemned." The original word - אשׁם 'âsham - means properly to fail in duty, to transgress, to be guilty. The primary idea, says Gesenius (Lexicon), is that of "negligence," especially in going, or in gait, as of a camel that is slow or faltering. Then the word means to be held or treated as faulty or guilty; and then, to bear the consequences of guilt, or to be punished. This seems to be the idea here. The word is sometimes synonymous with another Hebrew word - ישׁם yâsham - meaning to be desolate; to be destroyed; to be laid waste: Ezekiel 6:6; Joel 1:18; Psalm 5:10. But the usual meaning of the word is undoubtedly retained here, as signifying that, in the dealings of Providence, or in the administering of divine government, such men will be held to be guilty, and will be treated accordingly; that is, that they will be punished.

21, 22. Contrast in the destiny of righteous and wicked; the former shall be delivered and never come into condemnation (Joh 5:24; Ro 8:1); the latter are left under condemnation and desolate. Evil; either,

1. The evil of sin. His own wickedness, though designed against others, shall destroy himself. Or,

2. The evil of misery. When the afflictions of good men shall have a happy issue, theirs shall end in their total and final destruction.

That hate the righteous; that persecute them, and plot their ruin; which is an evidence that they hate them, whatsoever they may pretend to the contrary. Evil shall slay the wicked,.... Meaning either the evil they designed against the righteous shall return and fall upon their heads, to their own ruin; or the evil of affliction, which to them is the evil of punishment, both here and hereafter, from which they will have no deliverance in the end; though the righteous have from their afflictions, being not properly punishments, but chastisements for sin, and are but for a time; or else the evil of sin, which is the cause of death corporeal and eternal;

and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate; or "shall be guilty" (n); be found so; or "shall be condemned", or "damned", as the Targum renders it. All wicked men hate the righteous, both Jesus Christ the righteous, and his people; and that because they are righteous, and do not run into the same excess of wickedness with them, these will be arraigned at the day of judgment, and will be convicted of all their hard speeches which they have spoken against Christ and his members; and will be pronounced guilty, and will be punished with everlasting destruction.

(n) "rei fiunt", Cocceius; "reatum habebunt", Schmidt; "damnabuntur", Gejerus; "shall be condemned as guilty", Ainsworth.

Evil shall slay the {n} wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate.

(n) Their wicked enterprises will turn to their own destruction.

21. While the righteous is rescued out of all evils (Psalm 34:19), evil brings the wicked to his death. His evil ways work out their own punishment, and divine retribution overtakes him. (Romans 6:21; Romans 6:23.)

21, 22. shall be desolate] R.V. shall be condemned; or, marg., held guilty. Cp. Psalm 5:10.Verse 21. - Evil shall slay the wicked. His own misconduct shall bring destruction upon the wicked man-destruction of the body in many cases (Psalm 7:15, 16), in all, if he persists in his wickedness, destruction of the soul. And they that hate the righteous shall be desolate; rather, shall be held guilty (comp. Psalm 5:10, and the comment ad loc.). (Heb.: 34:12-15) The first main division of the Psalm is ended; the second (much the same as in Psalm 32:1-11) assumes more the tone of a didactic poem; although even Psalm 34:6, Psalm 34:9 have something of the didactic style about them. The poet first of all gives a direction for fearing God. We may compare Psalm 32:8; Psalm 51:15 - how thoroughly Davidic is the turn which the Psalm here takes! בּנים are not children in years or in understanding; but it is a tender form of address of a master experienced in the ways of God to each one and to all, as in Proverbs 1:8, and frequently. In Psalm 34:13 he throws out the question, which he himself answers in Psalm 34:14. This form of giving impressiveness to a truth by setting it forth as a solution of some question that has been propounded is a habit with David. Psalm 14:1; Psalm 24:8, Psalm 24:10; Psalm 25:12. In the use made of this passage from the Psalms in 1 Peter 3:10-12 ( equals Psalm 34:13 of the Psalm) this form of the question is lost sight of. To חפץ חיּים, as being just as exclusive in sense, corresponds אהב ימים, so that consequently לראות is a definition of the purpose. ימים signifies days in the mass, just as חיּים means long-enduring life. We see from James 3:2., where Psalm 34:13 also, in its form, calls to mind the Psalm before us, why the poet gives the pre-eminence to the avoiding of sins of the tongue. In Psalm 34:15, from among what is good peace is made prominent, - peace, which not only are we not to disturb, but which we are to seek, yea, pursue it like as the hunter pursues the finest of the herds. Let us follow, says the apostle Paul also, Romans 14:19 (cf. Hebrews 12:14), after those things which make for peace. שׁלום is a relationship, harmonious and free from trouble, that is well-pleasing to the God of love. The idea of the bond of fellowship is connected with the corresponding word eiree'nee, according to its radical notion.
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