Psalm 66:18
If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) If I regard . . .—Rather, if I had seen evil (i.e., had had it purposely in view) in my heart, the Lord would not have heard me. One may not “be pardoned and retain the offence.” The reference may be either to the forming of wicked schemes, or to the complacent view of wickedness in others.

The protestation of innocence in this verse, being made by or for the community at large, marks a late period for the composition. (See Introduction, and Psalms 44, Introduction and Notes.)

Psalm 66:18. If I regard iniquity in my heart, &c. — God’s hearing and granting my petitions hath brought along with it a testimony of my sincerity in serving him, far more valuable than my kingdom; for, if I had been guilty of known iniquity, or had entertained in my heart a desire or intention to commit it, the Lord, who hates iniquity, would have denied my request. What the psalmist here observes merits our deep attention. From this, and many other passages in the Old Testament, we learn that the religion of the Holy Scriptures has always been the same in substance, and that in the time when various sacrifices and divers ceremonies were enjoined, the truly pious were persuaded that sincerity of heart and purity of intention, with a conscientious care to abstain from all known sin, were things absolutely necessary in order to their pleasing God, and being acceptable in his sight: and that without these, thousands of sacrifices and burnt-offerings, and the most scrupulous observance of outward ceremonies, were of no signification before him who searches the heart, and requires truth in the inward parts.66:13-20 We should declare unto those that fear God, what he has done for our souls, and how he has heard and answered our prayers, inviting them to join us in prayer and praise; this will turn to our mutual comfort, and to the glory of God. We cannot share these spiritual privileges, if we retain the love of sin in our hearts, though we refrain from the gross practice, Sin, regarded in the heart, will spoil the comfort and success of prayer; for the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination of the Lord. But if the feeling of sin in the heart causes desires to be rid of it; if it be the presence of one urging a demand we know we must not, cannot comply with, this is an argument of sincerity. And when we pray in simplicity and godly sincerity, our prayers will be answered. This will excite gratitude to Him who hath not turned away our prayer nor his mercy from us. It was not prayer that fetched the deliverance, but his mercy that sent it. That is the foundation of our hopes, the fountain of our comforts; and ought to be the matter of our praises.If I regard iniquity in my heart - literally, "If I have seen iniquity in my heart." That is, If I have indulged in a purpose of iniquity; if I have had a wicked end in view; if I have not been willing to forsake all sin; if I have cherished a purpose of pollution or wrong. The meaning is not literally, If I have "seen" any iniquity in my heart - for no one can look into his own heart, and not see that it is defiled by sin; but, If I have cherished it in my soul; if I have gloated over past sins; if I am purposing to commit sin again; if I am not willing to abandon all sin, and to be holy.

The Lord will not hear me - That is, He will not regard and answer my prayer. The idea is, that in order that prayer may be heard, there must be a purpose to forsake all forms of sin. This is a great and most important principle in regard to prayer. The same principle is affirmed or implied in Psalm 18:41; Psalm 34:15; Proverbs 1:28; Proverbs 15:29; Proverbs 28:9; Isaiah 15:1-9; Jeremiah 11:11; Jeremiah 14:12; Zechariah 7:13; John 9:31. It is also especially stated in Isaiah 58:3-7. The principle is applicable

(a) to secret purposes of sin; to sinful desires, corrupt passions. and evil propensities;

(b) to acts of sin in individuals, as when a man is pursuing a business founded on fraud, dishonesty, oppression, and wrong;

(c) to public acts of sin, as when a people fast and pray Isaiah 58:1-14, and yet hold their fellow-men in bondage; or enact and maintain unjust and unrighteous laws; or uphold the acts of wicked rulers; or countenance and support by law that which is contrary to the law of God; and

(d) to the feelings of an awakened and trembling sinner when he is professedly seeking salvation.

If there is still the love of evil in his heart; if he has some cherished purpose of iniquity which he is not willing to abandon; if there is any one sin, however small or unimportant it may seem to be, which he is not willing to forsake, he cannot hope that God will hear his prayer; he may be assured that he will not. All prayer, to be acceptable to God, must be connected with a purpose to forsake all sin.

18. If I regard iniquity in my heart—literally, "see iniquity with pleasure." If I regard, Heb. if I have or had seen, or looked upon, to wit, with approbation and affection, as Job 31:26 Habakkuk 1:13. Men look upon what they like, and turn away their face from what they loathe or hate.

Iniquity; any sin whatsoever, and especially idolatry, which is oft expressed by this word, to which the Israelites were very prone, and to which they had most powerful temptations from the examples, and counsels, and promises, and threats of the idolaters, in whose land and power they had been. And so this is a purgation of themselves from that crime, somewhat like that Psalm 44:20,21, and in general from those gross and reigning sins whereof they had been guilty formerly.

In my heart; if my heart was false to God, and did cleave to idols or to any wickedness, although I might for some prudential reasons forbear the gross and outward acts. Compare Psalm 44:17,18. If I had been guilty of that hypocrisy wherewith mine enemies charged me, and had been a secret favourer of wickedness when I pretended great piety. Or, If I did not cry unto God with my heart, but only howled for corn and wine, &c.; and whilst I cried to God with my tongue, my heart was set upon sin, or I desired only that which I resolved in my heart to spend upon my lusts.

Will not hear me; or, would not have heard me; as divers learned interpreters translate it; the future being put potentially, as is usual among the Hebrews. For God heareth not sinners, John 9:31, nor hypocrites, Job 27:8,9 Pr 15:29. If I regard iniquity in my heart,.... There was iniquity in his heart, as there is in every good man's heart, and a great deal too; it is full of it; and it should be regarded in some sense, so as to guard against it, and pray to be kept from it, that it may not break forth into action; and so as to loath it, abhor it, and be humbled for it; but not so as to nourish and cherish it, to take delight and pleasure in it: or "if I look upon it" (h), as it may be rendered; that is, with approbation of it, and satisfaction in it, and ordered his conversation according to it; or acted the deceitful and hypocritical part in prayer; or had any evil intention in his petitions, to consume on his lusts what he asked for;

the Lord will not hear me; for the Lord hears not sinners that delight in sin, and live in it; neither profane sinners nor hypocrites; see John 9:31.

(h) "si vidi", Pagninus, Montanus; "si aspexi", V. L. "si conspexi", Gejerus.

{k} If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:

(k) If I delight in wickedness, God will not hear me, but if I confess it, he will receive me.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18, 19. If I had regarded iniquity in my heart,

The Lord would not hear:

But verily God hath heard.

Hypocrisy disqualifies the suppliant, but he is confident that he is no hypocrite, and the answer to his prayer justifies him. There is no self-righteousness in this, but the simplicity of “a conscience void of offence toward God and men.” Cp. Hezekiah’s plea, Isaiah 38:3; and Psalm 17:1 ff; Psalm 18:20 ff; Job 16:17; Isaiah 1:15; Isaiah 59:2-3; 1 John 3:21; &c.; and Isaiah 1:13 (R.V.), “I cannot away with iniquity and the solemn meeting”; i.e. tolerate the union of religious observances and iniquitous conduct.Verse 18. - If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me. This is the inward conviction of every simple, unsophisticated soul. It is confirmed by numerous passages of Holy Writ (Job 27:9; Job 31:27; Proverbs 15:29; Proverbs 28:9; Isaiah 1:15; Zechariah 7:13; John 9:31, etc.). The character of the event by which the truth has been verified that the God who redeemed Israel out of Egypt still ever possesses and exercises to the full His ancient sovereign power, is seen from this reiterated call to the peoples to share in Israel's Gloria. God has averted the peril of death and overthrow from His people: He has put their soul in life (בּחיּים, like בּישׁע in Psalm 12:6), i.e., in the realm of life; He has not abandoned their foot to tottering unto overthrow (mowT the substantive, as in Psalm 121:3; cf. the reversed construction in Psalm 55:23). For God has cast His people as it were into a smelting-furnace or fining-pot in order to purify and to prove them by suffering; - this is a favourite figure with Isaiah and Jeremiah, but is also found in Zechariah 13:9; Malachi 3:3. Ezekiel 19:9 is decisive concerning the meaning of מצוּדה, where הביא במצודות signifies "to bring into the holds or prisons;" besides, the figure of the fowling-net (although this is also called מצוּדה as well as מצודה) has no footing here in the context. מצוּדה (vid., Psalm 18:3) signifies specula, and that both a natural and an artificial watch-post on a mountain; here it is the mountain-hold or prison of the enemy, as a figure of the total loss of freedom. The laying on of a heavy burden mentioned by the side of it in Psalm 66:11 also accords well with this. מוּעקה, a being oppressed, the pressure of a burden, is a Hophal formation, like מטּה, a being spread out, Isaiah 8:8; cf. the similar masculine forms in Psalm 69:3; Isaiah 8:13; Isaiah 14:6; Isaiah 29:3. The loins are mentioned because when carrying heavy loads, which one has to stoop down in order to take up, the lower spinal region is called into exercise. אנושׁ is frequently (Psalm 9:20., Psalm 10:18; Psalm 56:2, Isaiah 51:12; 2 Chronicles 14:10) the word used for tyrants as being wretched mortals, perishable creatures, in contrast with their all the more revolting, imperious, and self-deified demeanour. God so ordered it, that "wretched men" rode upon Israel's head. Or is it to be interpreted: He caused them to pass over Israel (cf. Psalm 129:3; Isaiah 51:23)? It can scarcely mean this, since it would then be in dorso nostro, which the Latin versions capriciously substitute. The preposition ל instead of על is used with reference to the phrase ישׁב ל: sitting upon Israel's head, God caused them to ride along, so that Israel was not able to raise its head freely, but was most ignominiously wounded in its self-esteem. Fire and water are, as in Isaiah 43:2, a figure of vicissitudes and perils of the most extreme character. Israel was nigh to being burnt up and drowned, but God led it forth לרויה, to an abundant fulness, to abundance and superabundance of prosperity. The lxx, which renders εἰς ἀναψυχήν (Jerome absolutely: in refrigerium), has read לרוחה; Symmachus, εἰς εὐρυχωρίαν, probably reading לרחבה (Psalm 119:45; Psalm 18:20). Both give a stronger antithesis. But the state of straitness or oppression was indeed also a state of privation.
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