Psalm 73:21
Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins.
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(21) Grieved.—Literally, grew sour; or, as we say, “was soured.”

Psalm 73:21-22. Thus my heart was grieved — I was disturbed, so as I have expressed, with envy and indignation at the prosperity of the wicked. Hebrew, יתחמצ לבבי, jithchamets lebabi, my heart was in a ferment, or, had wrought itself up into a ferment, namely, with unbelieving thoughts, and reasonings on the above-mentioned subject. And I was pricked in my reins — I was heartily and deeply wounded in my spirit. So foolish was I, and ignorant — Of what I might have known and which, if I had known it aright, would have been perfectly sufficient to have prevented or silenced the disquieting thoughts and perplexing reasonings which have given me so much uneasiness. I was as a beast before thee — A most stupid and sottish creature, as though I had not only been devoid of grace, but of reason too. For reason itself, informed by the Holy Scriptures, sufficiently discovered, that, all things considered, I had no sufficient cause to envy the prosperity of wicked men. I minded only present things, as the brutes do, and did not look forward to and consider things to come, as reasonable creatures ought to do. Before thee — In thy sight, or judgment, and therefore in truth, Romans 2:2, howsoever I seemed to myself, or others, to have some degree of reason and discretion.

73:21-28 God would not suffer his people to be tempted, if his grace were not sufficient, not only to save them from harm, but to make them gainers by it. This temptation, the working of envy and discontent, is very painful. In reflecting upon it, the psalmist owns it was his folly and ignorance thus to vex himself. If good men, at any time, through the surprise and strength of temptation, think, or speak, or act amiss, they will reflect upon it with sorrow and shame. We must ascribe our safety in temptation, and our victory, not to our own wisdom, but to the gracious presence of God with us, and Christ's intercession for us. All who commit themselves to God, shall be guided with the counsel both of his word and of his Spirit, the best counsellors here, and shall be received to his glory in another world; the believing hopes and prospects of which will reconcile us to all dark providences. And the psalmist was hereby quickened to cleave the closer to God. Heaven itself could not make us happy without the presence and love of our God. The world and all its glory vanishes. The body will fail by sickness, age, and death; when the flesh fails, the conduct, courage, and comfort fail. But Christ Jesus, our Lord, offers to be all in all to every poor sinner, who renounces all other portions and confidences. By sin we are all far from God. And a profession Christ, if we go on in sin, will increase our condemnation. May we draw near, and keep near, to our God, by faith and prayer, and find it good to do so. Those that with an upright heart put their trust in God, shall never want matter for thanksgiving to him. Blessed Lord, who hast so graciously promised to become our portion in the next world, prevent us from choosing any other in this.Thus my heart was grieved - literally, and more expressively, "was soured." The meaning is, that his heart was grieved, pained, dissatisfied. His mind was embittered, and he was rendered unhappy, by the views which he cherished about God, as doubting the wisdom and justice of his dealings with people - and about people, as being envious at their prosperity.

And I was pricked in my reins - The reins are often in the Scriptures represented as the seat of the thoughts or affections. See the notes at Psalm 7:9. The word rendered "pricked" means to sharpen, as a sword; and then, to pierce and penetrate as a sword does. The idea is, that these thoughts, so distressing and painful, seemed to be like a sharp sword penetrating to the seat of life.

21, 22. He confesses how—

foolish—literally, "stupid," and

ignorant—literally, "not discerning," had been his course of thought.

21 Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins.

22 So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.

23 Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand.

24 Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.

Psalm 73:21

The holy poet here reviews his inward struggle and awards himself censure for his folly. His pain had been intense; he says, "Thus my heart was grieved." It was a depp-seated sorrow, and one which penetrated his inmost being. Alexander reads it, "My heart is soured." His spirit had become embittered; he had judged in a harsh, crabbed, surly manner. He had become atrabilious, full of black bile, melancholy, and choleric; he had poisoned his own life at the fountain-head, and made all its streams to be bitter as gall. "And I was pricked in my reins." He was as full of pain as a man afflicted with renal disease; he had pierced himself through with many sorrows; his hard thoughts were like so many calculi in his kidneys; he was utterly wretched and woebegone, and all through his own reflections. O miserable philosophy, which stretches the mind on the rack, and breaks it on the wheel! O blessed faith, which drives away the inquisitors, and sets the captives free!

Psalm 73:22

"So foolish was I." He, though a saint of God, had acted as if he had been one of the fools whom God abhorreth. Had he not even envied them? - and what is that but to aspire to be like them? The wisest of men have enough folly in them to ruin them unless grace prevents. "And ignorant." He had acted as if he knew nothing, had babbled like an idiot, had uttered the very drivel of a witless loon. He did not know how sufficiently to express his sense of his own fatuity. "I was as a beast before thee." Even in God's presence he had been brutish, and worse than a beast. As the grass-eating ox has but this present life, and can only estimate things thereby, and by the sensual pleasure which they afford, even so had the Psalmist judged happiness by this mortal life, by outward appearances, and by fleshly enjoyments. Thus he had, for the time, renounced the dignity of an immortal spirit, and, like a mere animal, judged after the sight of the eyes. We should be very loth to call an inspired man a beast, and yet, penitence made him call himself so; nay, he uses the plural, by way of emphasis, and as if he were worse than any one beast. It was but an evidence of his true wisdom that he was so deeply conscious of his own folly. We see how bitterly good men bewail mental wanderings; they make no excuses for themselves, but set their sins in the pillory, and cast the vilest reproaches upon them. O for grace to detest the very appearance of evil!

Psalm 73:23

"Nevertheless I am continually with thee." He does not give up his faith, though he confesses his folly. Sin may distress us, and yet we may be in communion with God. It is sin beloved and delighted in which separates us from the Lord, but when we bewail it heartily, the Lord will not withdraw from us. What a contrast is here in this and the former verse! He is as a beast, and yet continually with God. Our double nature, as it always causes conflict, so is it a continuous paradox: the flesh allies us with the brutes, and the spirit affiliates us to God. "Thou hast holden me by my right hand." With love dost thou embrace me, with honour ennoble me, with power uphold me. He had almost fallen, and yet was always upheld. He was a riddle to himself, as he had been a wonder unto many. This verse contains the two precious mercies of communion and upholding, and as they were both given to one who confessed himself a fool, we also may hope to enjoy them.

Psalm 73:24

"Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel." I have done with choosing my own way, and trying to pick a path amid the jungle of reason. He yielded not only the point in debate, but all intention of debating, and he puts his hand into that of the great Father, asking to be led, and agreeing to follow. Our former mistakes are a blessing, when they drive us to this. The end of our own wisdom is the beginning of our being wise. With Him is counsel, and when we come to him, we are sure to be led aright. "And afterward." "Afterward!" Blessed word. We can cheerfully put up with the present, when we foresee the future. What is around us just now is of small consequence, compared with afterward. "Receive me to glory." Take me up into thy splendour of joy. Thy guidance shall conduct me to this matchless terminus. Glory shall I have, and thou thyself wilt admit me into it. As Enoch was not, for God took him, so all the saints are taken up - received up into glory.

Thus; so as I have above expressed; for this particle so taken, doth not belong to what he had now wisely and piously said in the next foregoing verses, but to what he had unadvisedly spoken in the former verses, as is evident from the following verse. Or, nevertheless, as this particle is oft used. Although I knew very. well that the prosperity of sinners would have a sudden and dismal end, yet I was so foolish as to be grieved at it.

I was pricked in my reins; was heartily and deeply wounded with disquieting thoughts, and tormenting passions, envy, and sorrow, and anger.

Thus my heart was grieved,.... Not with his own sins, nor with the sins of the wicked, but at their prosperity; for this is an account of himself, while under the temptation, and before he went into the sanctuary of the Lord; or when he was "leavened" (r), with the old leaven of wickedness, and envy, and indignation; he was in a ferment, so Plautus (s) uses the phrase for being in anger and wrath; he swelled, as what is leavened does, against God and his providence: or was "soured" (t); he was out of humour and angry with God, or was exasperated and provoked at the favours bestowed upon the wicked. Some render it "inflamed" (u), made hot; not with the love of God, and meditation upon it, but with wrath and indignation:

and I was pricked in my reins; disturbed and distracted in his thoughts, felt a great deal of pain in his mind, while he was considering the prosperity of the wicked; which was as a sword in his bones, and as an arrow shot into his reins; see Lamentations 3:13.

(r) "effervesceret fermenti instar", Tigurine version; "in fermento esset", Cocceius; so Ainsworth. (s) Casina, Acts 2. Sc. 5. v. 17. (t) Acescet Montanus; "quasi aceto acri perfundebatur", Vatablus. (u) "Inflammatum est", V. L.

Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins.
21. Thus] R.V. For. If this rendering is adopted, the connexion is with the general sense of the preceding verses:—‘I failed to perceive the truth until my eyes were opened in the sanctuary, for’ &c. But it is better to render:

When my heart grew sour,

And I was pricked in my reins,

I was brutish and Ignorant,

I became a mere beast with thee.

He confesses the folly of his former impatience. He had lowered himself to the level of a beast (Psalm 49:10), for what distinguishes man from the lower animals is his power of communion with God. Behçmôth, rendered beast, might be taken, as in Job 40:15, to mean ‘the hippopotamus,’ as an emblem for ‘a monster of stupidity,’ but the more general rendering is preferable. The reins (renes, the kidneys) were regarded as the seat of the emotions. Cp. Psalm 7:9.

21, 22. The Psalmist’s confession of his error.

Verse 21. - Thus my heart was grieved; literally, for my heart was grieved, or "was soured." The "for" refers to a suppressed phrase of self-condemnation, "But at the time I did not see all this - the solution did not present itself to me." I was too full of grief and bitterness to consider the matter calmly and dispassionately. And I was pricked in my reins; i.e. "a pang of passionate discontent had pierced my inmost being" (Cheyne). Psalm 73:21The poet calms himself with the solution of the riddle that has come to him; and it would be beneath his dignity as a man to allow himself any further to be tempted by doubting thoughts. Placing himself upon the standpoint of the end, he sees how the ungodly come to terrible destruction in a moment: they come to an end (ספוּ from סוּף, not ספה), it is all over with them (תּמּוּ) in consequence of (מן as in Psalm 76:7, and unconnected as in Psalm 18:4; Psalm 30:4; Psalm 22:14) frightful occurrences (בּלּהות, a favourite word, especially in the Book of Job), which clear them out of the way. It is with them as with a dream, after (מן as in 1 Chronicles 8:8) one is awoke. One forgets the vision on account of its nothingness (Job 20:8). So the evil-doers who boast themselves μετὰ πολλῆς φαντασίας (Acts 25:23) are before God a צלם, a phantom or unsubstantial shadow. When He, the sovereign Lord, shall awake, i.e., arouse Himself to judgment after He has looked on with forbearance, then He will despise their shadowy image, will cast it contemptuously from Him. Luther renders, So machstu Herr jr Bilde in der Stad verschmecht (So dost Thou, Lord, make their image despised in the city). But neither has the Kal בּזה this double transitive signification, "to give over to contempt," nor is the mention of the city in place here. In Hosea 11:9 also בּעיר in the signification in urbem gives no right sense; it signifies heat of anger or fury, as in Jeremiah 15:8, heat of anguish, and Schrder maintains the former signification (vid., on Psalm 139:20), in fervore (irae), here also; but the pointing בּעיר is against it. Therefore בּעיר is to be regarded, with the Targum, as syncopated from בּהעיר (cf. לביא, Jeremiah 39:7; 2 Chronicles 31:10; בּכּשׁלו, Proverbs 24:17, and the like); not, however, to be explained, "when they awake," viz., from the sleep of death (Targum),

(Note: The Targum version is, "As the dream of a drunken man, who awakes out of his sleep, wilt Thou, O Lord, on the day of the great judgment, when they awake out of their graves, in wrath abandon their image to contempt." The text of our editions is to be thus corrected according to Bechai (on Deuteronomy 33:29) and Nachmani (in his treatise שׁער הגמול).)

or after Psalm 78:38, "when Thou awakest them," viz., out of their sleep of security (De Wette, Kurtz), but after Psalm 35:23, "when Thou awakest," viz., to sit in judgment.

Thus far we have the divine answer, which is reproduced by the poet after the manner of prayer. Hengstenberg now goes on by rendering it, "for my heart was incensed;" but we cannot take יתחמּץ according to the sequence of tenses as an imperfect, nor understand כּי as a particle expression the reason. On the contrary, the poet, from the standpoint of the explanation he has received, speaks of a possible return (כּי seq. fut. equals ἐάν) of his temptation, and condemns it beforehand: si exacerbaretur animus meus atque in renibus meis pungerer. התחמּץ, to become sour, bitter, passionate; השׁתּונן, with the more exactly defining accusative כּליותי, to be pricked, piqued, irritated. With ואני begins the apodosis: then should I be... I should have become (perfect as in Psalm 73:15, according to Ges. 126, 5). Concerning לא ידע, non sapere, vid., Psalm 14:4. בּהמות can be taken as compar. decurtata for כּבהמות; nevertheless, as apparently follows from Job 40:15, the poet surely has the p-ehe-mou, the water ox, i.e., the hippopotamus, in his mind, which being Hebraized is בּהמות,

(Note: The Egyptian p frequently passes over into the Hebrew b, and vice vers, as in the name Aperiu equals עברים; p, however, is retained in פרעה equals phar-aa, grand-house (οἶκος μέγας in Horapollo), the name of the Egyptian rulers, which begins with the sign of the plan of a house equals p.)

and, as a plump colossus of flesh, is at once an emblem of colossal stupidity (Maurer, Hitzig). The meaning of the poet is, that he would not be a man in relation to God, over against God (עם, as in Psalm 78:37; Job 9:2, cf. Arab. ma‛a, in comparison with), if he should again give way to the same doubts, but would be like the most stupid animal, which stands before God incapable of such knowledge as He willingly imparts to earnestly inquiring man.

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