Psalm 58:11
So that a man shall say, Truly there is a reward for the righteous: truly he is a God that judges in the earth.
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Psalm 58:11. So that a man shall say, &c. — These administrations of Divine Providence shall be so evident and convincing, that not only good men shall be sensible thereof, but any man that sees them; yea, even such as were apt to doubt of God’s providence shall, upon this eminent occasion, be ready to exclaim, Now I see that religion is not a vain and unprofitable thing, and that there is a God who at present observes and governs, and, when he sees fit judges the inhabitants of the earth; and will hereafter judge the whole world in righteousness, and recompense every man according to his works. 58:6-11 David prayed that the enemies of God's church and people might be disabled to do further mischief. We may, in faith, pray against the designs of the enemies of the church. He foretells their ruin. And who knows the power of God's anger? The victories of the Just One, in his own person and that of his servants, over the enemies of man's salvation, produce a joy which springs not from revenge, but from a view of the Divine mercy, justice, and truth, shown in the redemption of the elect, the punishment of the ungodly, and the fulfilment of the promises. Whoever duly considers these things, will diligently seek the reward of righteousness, and adore the Providence which orders all thing aright in heaven and in earth.So that a man shall say - That is, every man shall say, or people everywhere shall see this. This expresses the result of a close observation of the divine dealings among people. The conclusion from those dealings is,

(a) that there is, on the whole, a reward for the righteous on earth, or that righteousness tends to secure the favor of God and to promote human happiness; and

(b) that there is a God - a just Being presiding over human affairs.

A reward for the righteous - Margin, as in Hebrew, "fruit for the righteous." That is, righteousness will produce its appropriate "fruits," as trees that are cultivated will reward the cultivator. The idea is, that there is a course of things on earth, even with all there is that is mixed and mysterious, which is favorable to virtue; which shows that there is an "advantage" in being righteous; which demonstrates that there is a moral government; which makes it certain that God is the friend of virtue and the enemy of vice; that he is the friend of holiness and an enemy of sin. Compare the notes at 1 Timothy 4:8.

Verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth - Or, Truly there is a God that judges in the earth. In other words, the course of things demonstrates that the affairs of the world are not left to chance, to fate, or to mere physical laws. There are results of human conduct which show that there is a "Mind" that presides over all; that there is One who has a purpose and plan of his own; that there is One who "administers" government, rewarding the good, and punishing the wicked. The argument is, that there is a course of things which cannot be explained on the supposition that the affairs of earth are left to chance; that they are controlled by fate; that they are regulated by mere physical laws; that they take care of themselves. There is a clear proof of divine interposition in those affairs, and a clear proof that, on the whole, and in the final result, that interposition is favorable to righteousness and opposed to sin. No man, in other words, can take the "facts" which occur on the earth, and explain them satisfactorily, except on the supposition that there is a God. All other explanations fail; and numerous as it must be admitted are the difficulties that meet us even on this supposition, yet all other suppositions utterly fail in giving any intelligible account of what occurs in our world. See this argument stated in a manner which cannot be confuted, in Bishop Butler's Analogy, part i. chap. iii.

10, 11. wash … wicked—denoting great slaughter. The joy of triumph over the destruction of the wicked is because they are God's enemies, and their overthrow shows that He reigneth (compare Ps 52:5-7; 54:7). In this assurance let heaven and earth rejoice (Ps 96:10; 97:1, &c.). And these administrations of God’s providence shall be so evident and convincing, that not only good men shall be sensible thereof, but any man that sees them, yea, even such as were apt to dispute or doubt of God’s providence, shall upon this eminent occasion break forth into such exclamations as this: Now I see that religion is not a vain and unprofitable thing, and that there is a God who doth now observe and govern, and, when he sees fit, judgeth the inhabitants of the earth, and will hereafter judge the whole world in righteousness, and recompense every man according to his works. So that a man shall say,.... Any man, and every man, especially, that is observing, wise, and knowing; he shall conclude, from such a dispensation of things, from God's dealing with the wicked after this manner:

verily, there is a reward for the righteous; or "fruit" (k) for them: they have the fruits of divine love, the blessings of an everlasting covenant; and the fruit of Christ, the tree of life, which is sweet unto their taste, as are the benefits of his death, his word and ordinances; and the fruits of the Spirit, his several graces wrought in their souls; and the fruits of righteousness, the effect of which is peace; and is a reward they receive in, though not for keeping the commands of God; and they gather fruit unto eternal life, which is the recompence of reward, the reward of the inheritance, the great reward in heaven, which remains for them; and which they shall have, not for their own righteousness's sake, but for the sake of Christ's righteousness; from which they are denominated righteous persons, and which gives them a right and title to it: so that this is a reward, not of debt as due to them, and to be claimed by them on account of any thing they have done; but of grace, streaming through the blood and righteousness of Christ;

verily, he is a God that judgeth in the earth; that there is a God is known by the judgments that he executeth; and that he judgeth in the earth, and is the Judge of all the earth, who will do right, may be concluded from the vengeance inflicted on wicked men; and he will one day judge the world in righteousness, by him whom he has ordained to be Judge of quick and dead. The words in the Hebrew text are in the plural number, , "gods that judge": which Kimchi and Ben Melech say is on account of honour; or as they, with Aben Ezra, interpret it, of the angels: but these are not judges in the earth; rather it is expressive of a trinity of Persons in the Godhead, Father, Son, and Spirit. The Father is the Judge of all, though he does not execute judgment; but has committed it to the Son, who is Judge of quick and dead; and the Spirit judges, reproves, and convinces the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment.

(k) "fructus", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, &c.

So that a man shall say, {k} Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth.

(k) Seeing God governs all by his providence, he must put a difference between the godly and the wicked.

11. So that a man shall say] Rather, So that men shall say: the mass of men, who are neither ‘righteous’ nor ‘wicked,’ but as it were spectators of the conflict between the righteous and the wicked.

Verily] This particle expresses the recognition of a truth which has been obscured or questioned: ‘after all,’ ‘surely.’ Cp. Psalm 73:1.

a reward] Lit. fruit. Cf. Isaiah 3:10. Their patient continuance in well-doing bears its harvest in due time (Galatians 6:9).

verily he is a God] Better, Verily there is a God (R.V.). Contrary however to the general usage when God is spoken of, the predicate is in the plural: and perhaps Elôhîm is meant to be taken somewhat more vaguely, in parallelism and contrast to the judges of Psalm 58:1-2—the contrast holds whether çlîm, ‘gods,’ is read in Psalm 58:1 or not—as Divine Powers. But the reading is not above suspicion. The LXX and Syr. have that judgeth them, i.e. does the righteous justice (Psalm 43:1), the final m being read as the pronominal suffix, not as the sign of the plural[27].

[27] They must have found שׁפטם written defectively and read shôph’tâm not shôph’tîm.

For like confidence in the final manifestation of God’s judgement see Psalm 7:11 ff.; Psalm 9:7 ff., Psalm 9:19; Psalm 11:4 ff.; and cp. Luke 18:7 ff.Verse 11. - So that a man shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous. God's righteous judgment being seen in the punishment of the wicked, men will no longer doubt of the ultimate reward of the godly. God must, by his very nature, be more inclined to reward goodness than to punish wickedness. Verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth; rather, verily there is a God, etc. (see Revised Version). Elohim is joined with a plural here, because the speakers are men generally, not only Israelites.

After this bold beginning the boldest figures follow one another rapidly; and the first of these is that of the serpent, which is kept up longer than any of the others. The verb זוּר (cogn. סוּר) is intentionally written זור in this instance in a neuter, not an active sense, plural זרוּ lar, like בּשׁוּ, טבוּ. Bakius recognises a retrospective reference to this passage in Isaiah 48:8. In such passages Scripture bears witness to the fact, which is borne out by experience, that there are men in whom evil from childhood onwards has a truly diabolical character, i.e., a selfish character altogether incapable of love. For although hereditary sinfulness and hereditary sin (guilt) are common to all men, yet the former takes the most manifold combinations and forms; and, in fact, the inheriting of sin and the complex influence of the power of evil and of the power of grace on the propagation of the human race require that it should be so. The Gospel of John more particularly teaches such a dualism of the natures of men. חמת־למו (with Rebia, as in John 18:18) is not the subject: the poison belonging to them, etc., but a clause by itself: poison is to them, they have poison; the construct state here, as in Lamentations 2:18; Ezekiel 1:27, does not express a relation of actual union, but only a close connection. יאטּם (with the orthophonic Dagesh which gives prominence to the Teth as the commencement of a syllable) is an optative future form, which is also employed as an indicative in the poetic style, e.g., Psalm 18:11. The subject of this attributive clause, continuing the adjective, is the deaf adder, such an one, viz., as makes itself deaf; and in this respect (as in their evil serpent nature) it is a figure of the self-hardening evil-doer. Then with אשׁר begins the more minute description of this adder. There is a difference even among serpents. They belong to the worst among them that are inaccessible to any kind of human influence. All the arts of sorcery are lost upon them. מלחשׁים are the whisperers of magic formulae (cf. Arabic naffathât, adjurations), and חובר חברים is one who works binding by spells, exorcism, and tying fast by magic knots (cf. חבר, to bind equals to bewitch, cf. Arab. ‛qqd, ‛nn, Persic bend equals κατάδεσμος, vid., Isaiah, i. 118, ii. 242). The most inventive affection and the most untiring patience cannot change their mind. Nothing therefore remains to David but to hope for their removal, and to pray for it.
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