Psalm 73:19
How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(19) In a moment.—Literally, in a wink. (Comp. “In the twinkling of an eye.”)

Psalm 73:19-20. They are brought to desolation as in a moment — Their fall is wonderful, both for its greatness, and for its suddenness. They are utterly consumed with terrors — With the horrors of their own minds; or rather, with God’s judgments unexpectedly seizing upon them. As a dream when one awaketh — Their happiness is like that of a dream, wherein a man seems highly pleased and transported with ravishing delights, but when he awakes he finds himself deceived and unsatisfied. O Lord, when thou awakest — Arisest to punish them. Or rather, when they shall awake; namely, out of the pleasant dream of this sinful life, by death and the torments following. For the Hebrew is only בעיר, bagnir, in awaking, an expression which may be applied either to God or to them, as the context directs, and the latter application seems to agree best with the metaphor here before mentioned. Thou shalt despise their image — That is, all their felicity and glory, which, as indeed it ever was, so now shall evidently be discerned to be no real, or substantial and solid thing, but a mere image, or shadow, or vain show, which can neither abide with them, nor yield them satisfaction. Thus the word rendered pomp, Acts 25:23, is, in the Greek, φαντασια, a mere fancy and imagination. And Psalm 39:6, man is said to walk in a vain show; in the LXX., εν εικονι, in an image, the word used by these interpreters here. God is said to despise the image, when they awake, not really, for in that sense God ever did despise it, even when they were in the height of all their glory; but declaratively, things being often said to be done in Scripture when they appear or are manifest. The sense is, Thou shalt pour contempt upon them; make them despicable to themselves and others, notwithstanding all their riches; shalt raise them to shame and everlasting contempt. The LXX. render it, τον εικονα αυτων εξουδενωσεις, Thou shalt bring to naught, or make nothing of their image. God will render utterly contemptible even in their own sight, as well as in that of himself, of his holy angels, and the spirits of the righteous, those imaginary and fantastic pleasures for which they have lost the substantial joys and glories of his heavenly kingdom. For it is evident that what the psalmist here affirms, concerning the end of the wicked, cannot be understood, consistently with the rest of the Psalm, of their temporal destruction, but must be interpreted of their future wretched state in another world, which is often represented, in Scripture, by death and destruction; and so, indeed, these verses explain it. How are they brought to desolation in a moment, that is, the moment when they pass out of this life to another. It is then only that the wicked will be thoroughly awakened to see their misery, especially if they die without much pain or anguish, in a stupid, thoughtless way, as seems to be intimated Psalm 73:4. And here let us reflect, with Dr. Horne, If “the sudden alteration which death makes in the state of a powerful and opulent sinner, cannot but affect all around him, though they behold but one part of it; how much more would they be astonished and terrified if the curtain between the two worlds were withdrawn, and the other half of the change exposed to view! Let faith do that which sight cannot do;” let it show us, that the life of the ungodly is a sleep; their happiness a dream, illusive and transitory; at best a shadow, afterward nothing; and that, at the day of death, the soul is roused out of this sleep, the dream vanishes, and the sinner finds himself consigned to everlasting torments, “and then the ungodly, however wealthy and honourable, will surely cease to be the objects of our envy.”73:15-20 The psalmist having shown the progress of his temptation, shows how faith and grace prevailed. He kept up respect for God's people, and with that he restrained himself from speaking what he had thought amiss. It is a sign that we repent of the evil thoughts of the heart, if we suppress them. Nothing gives more offence to God's children, than to say it is vain to serve God; for there is nothing more contrary to their universal experience. He prayed to God to make this matter plain to him; and he understood the wretched end of wicked people; even in the height of their prosperity they were but ripening for ruin. The sanctuary must be the resort of a tempted soul. The righteous man's afflictions end in peace, therefore he is happy; the wicked man's enjoyments end in destruction, therefore he is miserable. The prosperity of the wicked is short and uncertain, slippery places. See what their prosperity is; it is but a vain show, it is only a corrupt imagination, not substance, but a mere shadow; it is as a dream, which may please us a little while we are slumbering, yet even then it disturbs our repose.How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! - How suddenly and unexpectedly does destruction come upon them! Nothing can be argued from their apparent prosperity, for there is no ground of security in "that," no basis for an argument that it will continue. The end must be seen in order to form a correct estimate on the subject, and that end may soon come. Compare the notes at Job 15:20-21.

They are utterly consumed with terrors - literally, "they perish; they are destroyed by terrors;" that is, by terrible things, or by things suited to produce terror in the mind. The idea is not that they are destroyed by their own fears, but that things come upon them which are suited to overwhelm the soul, and that by those things they are utterly destroyed. It is by this result that we are to determine in regard to the equity of the divine administration, and not by their prosperity and their apparent safety.

18-20. their end—future (Ps 37:37, 38), which is dismal and terribly sudden (Pr 1:27; 29:1), aggravated and hastened by terror. As one despises an unsubstantial dream, so God, waking up to judgment (Ps 7:6; 44:23), despises their vain shadow of happiness (Ps 39:6; Isa 29:7). They are thrown into ruins as a building falling to pieces (Ps 74:3). Their fall is wonderful, both for its soreness and for its suddenness.

Consumed with terrors; either, with the horrors of their own minds; or rather, with God’s dreadful judgments unexpectedly seizing upon them. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment?.... Very suddenly, which is often the case of wicked men, who cry Peace and safety, and sudden destruction comes upon them, 1 Thessalonians 5:3, so as in a moment were the punishment of Sodom and Gomorrah, of Pharaoh and his host, and of Korah and his company, Lamentations 4:6, the words are expressed with admiration, as wondering at the sudden and amazing turn of things:

they are utterly consumed with terrors: their destruction is not only sudden, but entire; it is like the breaking in pieces of a potter's vessel; a shard of which cannot be gathered up and used, or like the casting of a millstone into the sea, which will never rise more; such will be the destruction of antichrist; see Revelation 2:27 and this is done "with terrors"; either by terrible judgments inflicted on them from without; or with terrors inwardly seizing upon their minds and consciences; as, at the time of temporal calamities, or at death, however at judgment, when the awful sentence will be pronounced upon them; see Job 27:20.

How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are {i} utterly consumed with terrors.

(i) By your fearful judgment.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
19. How are they become a desolation in a moment!

They are at an end, they are consumed with terrors.

The word terrors, found here only in the Psalter, is a favourite word in Job in similar connexions (Psalm 18:11; Psalm 18:14, &c.).Verse 19. - How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! There is something very striking in the suddenness with which the prosperity of a wicked man often collapses. Saul, Jezebel, Athaliah, Epiphanes, Herod Agrippa, are cases in point, likewise Nero, Galerius, Julian. The first and second Napoleonic empires may also be cited. They are utterly consumed with terrors; literally, they perish; they come to an end through terrors (comp. Job 18:11; Job 24:17; Job 27:20). The 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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