Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for ever more.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Psalm 37:27-29. Depart from evil and do good — Having therefore these glorious promises and privileges, let no man do any evil or unjust thing, to enrich or secure himself, nor abstain from any pious or charitable action, for fear of empoverishing himself thereby: but let every man live in a conscientious discharge of all his duties to God and men, committing himself and all his affairs to God’s fatherly care and providence, and confidently expecting his blessing thereupon. And dwell for evermore —
That is, he shall dwell for evermore in heaven, and for a long time on earth. See on Psalm 37:3. The Lord loveth judgment — That is, just judgment, or righteousness, as the word משׁפשׂ, mishpat, often signifies. That is, he loves it in himself: he loveth to execute it upon the wicked, and for the righteous: which he doth in the manner expressed in this Psalm. And he loves it in the righteous, whose justice, and piety, and charity he sees, approves, and will reward. And forsaketh not his saints — Hebrew, חסידיו, chasidaiv, his kind, merciful, and beneficent ones who exercise benignity and charity to others.
And dwell for evermore - That is, dwell in the land: meaning (in accordance with the general drift of the psalm) that righteousness will be connected with length of days and with prosperity; that its effects will be permanent on a family, descending from one generation to another. See the notes at Psalm 37:3.
28 For the Lord loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.
29 The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever.
Here we have the seventh precept, which takes a negative and positive form, and is the quintessence of the entire Psalm.
"Depart from evil, and do good." We must not envy the doers of evil, but depart altogether from their spirit and example. As Lot left Sodom without casting a look behind, so must we leave sin. No truce or parley is to he held with sin, we must turn away from it without hesitation, and set ourselves practically to work in the oposite direction. He who neglects to do good will soon fall into evil. "And dwell for evermore." Obtain an abiding and quiet inheritance. Short-lived are the gains and pleasures of evil, but eternal are the rewards of grace.
"For the Lord loveth judgment." The awarding of honour to whom honour is due is God's delight, especially when the upright man has been traduced by his fellow men. It must be a divine pleasure to right wrongs, and to defeat the machinations, of the unjust. The great Arbiter of human destinies is sure to deal out righteous measure both to rich and poor, to good and evil, for such judgment is his delight. "And forsaketh not his saints." This would not be right, and, therefore, shall never be done. God is as faithful to the objects of his love as he is just towards all mankind. "They are preserved for ever." By covenant engagements their security is fixed, and by suretyship fulfilments that safety is accomplished; come what may, the saints are preserved in Christ Jesus, and because he lives, they shall live also. A king will not lose his jewels, nor will Jehovah lose his people. As the manna in the golden pot, which else had melted, was preserved in the ark of the covenant beneath the mercy-seat, so shall the faithful be preserved in the covenant by the power of Jesus their propitiation. "But the seed of the wicked shall be cut off." Like the house of Jeroboam and Ahab, of which not a dog was left. Honour and wealth ill-gotten seldom reach the third generation; the curse grows ripe before many years have passed, and falls upon the evil house. Among the legacies of wicked men the surest entail is a judgment on their family.
"The righteous shall inherit the land." As heirs with Jesus Christ, the Canaan above, which is the antitype of "the land," shall be theirs with all covenant blessing. "And dwell therein for ever." Tenures differ, but none can match the holding which believers have of heaven. Paradise is theirs for ever by inheritance, and they shall live for ever to enjoy it. Who would not be a saint on such terms? Who would fret concerning the fleeting treasures of the godless?
Dwell, i.e. thou shalt dwell, as before, Psalm 37:3, to wit, in the land, as is expressed, Psalm 37:3, and afterwards in heaven.
For evermore; either properly; or for a long time, of which that word is oft used. Psalm 34:14;
and dwell for evermore; or "thou shalt dwell for evermore" (z); see Psalm 37:3; that is, in everlasting habitations, in the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, Luke 16:9. The Targum is, "that thou mayest dwell in everlasting life".Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for evermore.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)27. Once more the teacher addresses his disciple, as in Psalm 37:3 ff. The first line is identical with Psalm 34:14 a (see note): the second line is virtually a promise, and might be rendered so shall thou dwell &c. But as Delitzsch observes, the imperative retains its force in constructions of this type, as an exhortation to participate in the blessing by the fulfilment of the duty. Peaceable occupation of the land by successive generations is meant (cp. Psalm 37:29). The individual lives on in his descendants.
28 a. Cp. Psalm 33:5. For saints see note on Psalm 4:3.
28 c, d, 29. Stanza of Ayin. The verses are wrongly divided. It is evident from the regular structure of the Psalm that the last two lines of Psalm 37:28 together with Psalm 37:29 should form a stanza commencing with the letter Ayin. If the Massoretic text is sound, the Ayin is represented by the second letter of the word l’ôlâm, ‘for ever’,—the prefixed preposition l being disregarded, as is the prefixed and in Psalm 37:39. But a comparison of the LXX makes it all but certain that the first word of the verse has been lost, and a further corruption taken place in consequence; and that the original reading was:
 The LXX reads thus: εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα φυλαχθήσονται• ἄνομοι δὲ ἐκδιωχθήσονται (א B ἄμωμοι ἐκδικηθήσονται), καὶ σπέρμα ἀσεβων ἐξολοθρευθήσεται, ‘They shall be preserved for ever; but the lawless shall be driven out (א B, the perfect shall be avenged), and the seed of the ungodly shall be destroyed.’ The reading of the Sinaitic and Vatican MSS. appears to be a correction or corruption, and must be abandoned in favour of that found in (apparently) all other MSS., and supported by the Vulg., iniusti punientur. We have then the words ἄνομοι δὲ ἐκδιωχθήσονται, but the lawless shall be driven out, in addition to a rendering of the Massoretic text. These words might represent an original עַוָּלִים נִשְׁמְדוּ If the original reading (written defectively) was עולם לעלם נשמדו the unrighteous are destroyed for ever, the process of corruption is easily intelligible. עולם was omitted, either accidentally, from its resemblance to לעלם, or because the transcriber did not recognise a somewhat rare word, and supposed it to be an erroneous repetition. When once it had disappeared, the change of נשמִדו (destroyed) into נשמִרו (preserved) followed as a matter of course, ‘his saints’ in the preceding line being the only possible subject. The word עַוָּלִים does not occur elsewhere in the Psalter, but is found four times in the Book of Job, with which this Psalm is so closely connected. Cp. too the substantive עַוְלָה in Psalm 37:1. A case like this, in which the acrostic structure of the Psalm demands a correction for which the LXX supplies clear evidence, is a convincing argument for the temperate employment of the LXX for the correction of the Massoretic Text. This or some similar correction is adopted by most editors.
The unrighteous are destroyed for ever,
And the seed of the wicked is cut off.
With this reading a full stop must of course be placed after saints, and the couplet forms the antithesis to Psalm 37:29. The perfect tenses, as in Psalm 37:20 c, express the Psalmist’s conviction of the certainty of the event. Cp. Psalm 37:38. The addition in the P.B.V., the unrighteous shall be punished, comes from the LXX through the Vulgate. See note below.Verse 27. - Depart from evil, and do good. The same injunction is given, in exactly the same words, in Psalm 34:14. And dwell for evermore. This is to be understood as a promise, "If thou wilt depart from evil, and do good, then thou shalt dwell in the land for ever" (comp. ver. 3). Deuteronomy 15:6; Deuteronomy 28:12, Deuteronomy 28:44, which is rendered in Psalm 37:21 in the more universal, sententious form. לוה signifies to be bound or under obligation to any one equals to borrow and to owe (nexum esse). The confirmation of Psalm 37:22 is not inappropriate (as Hitzig considers it, who places Psalm 37:22 after Psalm 37:20): in that ever deeper downfall of the ungodly, and in that charitableness of the righteous, which becomes more and more easy to him by reason of his prosperity, the curse and blessing of God, which shall be revealed in the end of the earthly lot of both the righteous and the ungodly, are even now foretold. Whilst those who reject the blessing of God are cut off, the promise given to the patriarchs is fulfilled in the experience of those who are blessed of God, in all its fulness.
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