Psalm 73:11
And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11-14) The mutual relation of these verses has been the subject of many conflicting opinions. The following is the arrangement that seems preferable—

“And people say, How shall God know?

And does the Most High take notice of it?

Lo! there are wicked men, And yet, always at ease, they amass riches.

It is in vain then that I have kept my heart pure.

And washed my hands in innocence;

For I have been plagued every day,

And my punishments (come) every morning.”

—this reflection being put into the mouth of the public who are onlookers at the career of these timeservers. But the poet immediately goes on to disclaim it for himself.

Psalm 73:11. And they say — Namely, the ungodly, described in the preceding verses, (verse the 10th coming in by way of parenthesis,) or the people confederate with them, or that fall back to them. For these and such like opinions and speeches are often ascribed to the carnal and wicked in Scripture, but never to any good man. Some such expressions as this were indeed charged on Job by his friends, but, although he had used many intemperate speeches, he utterly disowned such as these. How doth God know? Is there knowledge, &c. — As if they said, Since blasphemers of God and enemies of all goodness are crowned with so many blessings, how is it credible that there is a God who sees and orders the affairs of this lower world? For if God did know these things, and concerned himself with affairs here below, he certainly neither could nor would suffer them to be thus managed.

73:1-14 The psalmist was strongly tempted to envy the prosperity of the wicked; a common temptation, which has tried the graces of many saints. But he lays down the great principle by which he resolved to abide. It is the goodness of God. This is a truth which cannot be shaken. Good thoughts of God will fortify against Satan's temptations. The faith even of strong believers may be sorely shaken, and ready to fail. There are storms that will try the firmest anchors. Foolish and wicked people have sometimes a great share of outward prosperity. They seem to have the least share of the troubles of this life; and they seem to have the greatest share of its comforts. They live without the fear of God, yet they prosper, and get on in the world. Wicked men often spend their lives without much sickness, and end them without great pain; while many godly persons scarcely know what health is, and die with great sufferings. Often the wicked are not frightened, either by the remembrance of their sins, or the prospect of their misery, but they die without terror. We cannot judge men's state beyond death, by what passes at their death. He looked abroad, and saw many of God's people greatly at a loss. Because the wicked are so very daring, therefore his people return hither; they know not what to say to it, and the rather, because they drink deep of the bitter cup of affliction. He spoke feelingly when he spoke of his own troubles; there is no disputing against sense, except by faith. From all this arose a strong temptation to cast off religion. But let us learn that the true course of sanctification consists in cleansing a man from all pollution both of soul and body. The heart is cleansed by the blood of Christ laid hold upon by faith; and by the begun works of the Lord's Spirit, manifested in the hearty resolution, purpose, and study of holiness, and a blameless course of life and actions, the hands are cleansed. It is not in vain to serve God and keep his ordinances.And they say - His people say. The connection demands this interpretation. The meaning is, that his people, as they return again and again to this subject Psalm 73:10, are constrained to put this question. They are compelled by these facts to start such painful inquiries about God; and distressing as the inquiries are, and as are the doubts which they involve, these thoughts will pass through their mind, even though to avoid giving needless pain to those who have no such perplexities and difficulties they keep these thoughts to themselves, Psalm 73:15.

How doth God know? - That is, How can these facts be reconciled with God's omniscience? How can it be that he sees all this, and yet suffers it to occur, or that he does not interpose to prevent it? Is it not a fair inference from these facts that God does "not" see them, and that he is "not" an Omniscient Being? Can it be explained, can it be believed, that God sees all this, and that he calmly looks on, and does nothing to prevent it? If he sees it, why does he not interpose and put an end to it? These perplexities were not confined to the psalmist. They are such as have been felt by good people in all ages; and no one yet has been able to furnish a solution of them that is wholly free from difficulty.

And is there knowledge in the Most High? - Can there be in God a knowledge of these facts? Are we not driven to the conclusion that he must be ignorant of them? for, if he knew them, would he not interpose to prevent them? How "can" it be consistent with the idea that he "knows" them, and "sees" them, that he does "not" interpose, and that he suffers these things to take place without any attempt to check such evils? Who, even now, can answer these questions?

10-12. Hence God's people are confounded, turned hither (or back) and thither, perplexed with doubts of God's knowledge and care, and filled with sorrow. They; either,

1. The godly. Or rather,

2. Those wicked ones, whose words and actions he hath been hitherto describing, or the people confederate with them. For these and such-like opinions are oft ascribed to the wicked in Scripture, but never, as far as I know; to any good man. And Job, though he used many intemperate speeches, and though some such expressions as this were charged upon him by his friends, as Job 22:13, yet he utterly disowned them. Is there knowledge in the Most High? seeing these cursed and impudent blasphemers of God, and enemies of all goodness, are crowned with so many blessings, how is it credible that there is a God who sees and orders the affairs of this lower world? for if God did know these things, certainly he neither could nor would suffer them to be thus managed.

And they say, how doth God know?.... Owning there is a God, but questioning his knowledge; for the words are not an inquiry about the way and manner of his knowing things; which is not by the senses, as hearing and seeing; eyes and ears are improperly ascribed to him; nor in a discursive way, by reasoning, and inferring one thing from another; for he knows things intuitively, beholding all things in his own eternal mind and will: but they are a question about his knowledge itself, as follows:

and is their knowledge in the most High? they acknowledge God to be the most High, and yet doubt whether there is knowledge in him; and indeed the higher with respect to place, and at the greater distance he was from them, the less they imagined he knew of affairs below; see Job 22:13 for the knowledge called in question is to be understood of his providential notice of human affairs, which they thought he did not concern himself with, as being below his regard; see Ezekiel 9:9 and therefore concluded that their acts of oppression and violence, and their insolent words against God and men, would pass unobserved, and with impunity. If these are the words of good men, of the people of God under affliction, they are to be considered as under a temptation from their affliction, and the prosperity of the wicked, to call in question the providence of God in the government of the world, and his love to them, which is sometimes expressed by his knowledge of them, Psalm 1:6.

And they {f} say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High?

(f) Thus the flesh moves even the godly to dispute with God concerning their poor estate, and the prosperity of the wicked.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
11. The speakers in this verse are not ‘the wicked,’ but the deluded mass of their followers described in Psalm 73:10. They adopt the language of their leaders, and question God’s knowledge of their doings in particular, and even His omniscience in general. Cp. Psalm 10:4; Psalm 10:11; Psalm 10:13. The names of God—El, the Mighty One, ‘Elyôn, the Supreme Ruler of the Universe—are chosen so as to accentuate the blasphemy of their scepticism.

Verse 11. - And they say, How doth God know? Their wickedness breeds scepticism in them. They wish God not to know, and therefore begin to question whether he does or can know (comp. Psalm 10:4, 11, 13). And is there knowledge in the Most High? Does God concern himself at all with the things that take place on earth (comp. Psalm 94:7)? IS not man too weak and contemptible to attract his attention? Psalm 73:11The persons speaking are now those apostates who, deluded by the good fortune and free-thinking of the ungodly, give themselves up to them as slaves. concerning the modal sense of ידע, quomodo sciverit, vid., Psalm 11:3, cf. Job 22:13. With וישׁ the doubting question is continued. Bצttcher renders thus: nevertheless knowledge is in the Most High (a circumstantial clause like Proverbs 3:28; Malachi 1:14; Judges 6:13); but first of all they deny God's actual knowledge, and then His attributive omniscience. It is not to be interpreted: behold, such are (according to their moral nature) the ungodly (אלּה, tales, like זה, Psalm 48:15, Deuteronomy 5:26, cf. המּה, Isaiah 56:11); nor, as is more in accordance with the parallel member Psalm 73:12 and the drift of the Psalm: behold, thus it befalleth the ungodly (such as they according to their lot, as in Job 18:21, cf. Isaiah 20:6); but, what forms a better connection as a statement of the ground of the scepticism in Psalm 73:11, either, in harmony with the accentuation: behold, the ungodly, etc., or, since it is not הרשׁעים: behold, these are ungodly, and, ever reckless (Jeremiah 12:1), they have acquired great power. With the bitter הנּה, as Stier correctly observes, they bring forward the obvious proof to the contrary. How can God be said to be the omniscient Ruler of the world? - the ungodly in their carnal security become very powerful and mighty, but piety, very far from being rewarded, is joined with nothing but misfortune. My striving after sanctity (cf. Proverbs 20:9), my abstinence from all moral pollution (cf. Proverbs 26:6), says he who has been led astray, has been absolutely (אך as in 1 Samuel 25:21) in vain; I was notwithstanding (Ew. 345, a) incessantly tormented (cf. Psalm 73:5), and with every morning's dawn (לבּקרים, as in Psalm 101:8, cf. לבקרים in Job 7:18) my chastitive suffering was renewed. We may now supply the conclusion in thought in accordance with Psalm 73:10 : Therefore have I joined myself to those who never concern themselves about God and at the same time get on better.
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