Psalm 73:22
So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(22) Foolish.—Better, brutish.

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.So foolish was I, and ignorant - Such low and imperfect views did I take of the subject. The margin is, "I knew not." So the Hebrew: "And I am brutish, and know not;" that is, I did not understand the case; I had no correct views in regard to it.

I was as a beast before thee - Margin, as in Hebrew, "with thee." That is, in thy very presence; or, I was guilty of such foolishness in the very presence of my Maker. If it had been when I was alone, or when no one saw me, the folly would not have been so aggravated, and so much to be regretted, but it was when the very eye of God was upon me. Compare Isaiah 1:7; Jeremiah 7:30; Jeremiah 18:10; Psalm 51:4. When he says that he was as a beast, he means that he was stupid and senseless; he had no proper understanding of the case; he did not take any just views of it.

22. before thee—literally, "with Thee," in conduct respecting Thee. As a beast. Heb. beasts, which may signify a great beast; a most stupid and sottish creature, like one not only void of grace, but of reason too; for reason itself, especially assisted by the Holy Scriptures, did sufficiently discover 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 consider things to come, as reasonable creatures do, and 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. So foolish was I,.... To envy the prosperity of the wicked, which is of so short a continuance; to arraign the providence and perfections of God, and to conclude so hastily that there was nothing in religion:

and ignorant; or, "I knew not" (w); what he attempted to know, Psalm 73:16, nor the end of the wicked, till he went into the sanctuary of the Lord; nor the counsel and design of God, in his methods of providence towards wicked men:

I was as a beast before thee, or "with thee" (x); in the knowledge of the ways and works of God, even those of providence; see Psalm 92:5, unteachable, untractable, kicking against God and his providential dispensations; not behaving like a man, much, less like a saint; but even as the worst of brutes, as the behemoth in Job 40:15, for the same word is here used; he concluded that God, who saw all the wickedness of his heart, the workings and reasonings of his mind, which were so vain and foolish, could esteem him no other than as a beast; so the Targum,

"as a beast I am accounted with thee:''

the words may be rendered, "I was the veriest beast before thee"; there being no note of similitude in the text; the word for "beast" being in the plural number, may be used for a superlative; Plautus (y) uses the word "bellua", beast, for a stupid man.

(w) "nescivi", V. L. "non cognoscebam", Pagninus, Montanus; "nec sciebam", Piscator; "non noveram", Cocceius. (x) "apud te", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, &c. (y) Trinum. Acts 4. Sc. 2. v. 110.

So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a {l} beast before thee.

(l) For the more that man goes about by his own reason to seek out God's judgments, the more he declares himself a beast.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 22. - So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee. I had no more intelligence than the brute beasts; I was wholly unable to reason aright (comp. Psalm 32:9; Psalm 92:7; Proverbs 30:2). To such, doubt is become the transition to apostasy. The poet has resolved the riddle of such an unequal distribution of the fortunes of men in a totally different way. Instead of כּמו in Psalm 73:15, to read כּמוהם (Bצttcher), or better, by taking up the following הנה, which even Saadia allows himself to do, contrary to the accents (Arab. mṯl hḏâ), כּמו הנּה (Ewald), is unnecessary, since prepositions are sometimes used elliptically (כּעל, Isaiah 59:18), or even without anything further (Hosea 7:16; Hosea 11:7) as adverbs, which must therefore be regarded as possible also in the case of כּמו (Aramaic, Arabic כּמא, Aethiopic kem). The poet means to say, If I had made up my mind to the same course of reasoning, I should have faithlessly forsaken the fellowship of the children of God, and should consequently also have forfeited their blessings. The subjunctive signification of the perfects in the hypothetical protasis and apodosis, Psalm 73:15 (cf. Jeremiah 23:22), follows solely from the context; futures instead of perfects would signify si dicerem...perfide agerem. דּור בּניך is the totality of those, in whom the filial relationship in which God has placed Isreal in relation to Himself is become an inward or spiritual reality, the true Israel, Psalm 73:1, the "righteous generation," Psalm 14:5. It is an appellative, as in Deuteronomy 14:1; Hosea 2:1. For on the point of the uhiothesi'a the New Testament differs from the Old Testament in this way, viz., that in the Old Testament it is always only as a people that Israel is called בן, or as a whole בנים, but that the individual, and that in his direct relationship to God, dared not as yet call himself "child of God." The individual character is not as yet freed from its absorption in the species, it is not as yet independent; it is the time of the minor's νηπιότης, and the adoption is as yet only effected nationally, salvation is as yet within the limits of the nationality, its common human form has not as yet appeared. The verb בּגד with בּ signifies to deal faithlessly with any one, and more especially (whether God, a friend, or a spouse) faithlessly to forsake him; here, in this sense of malicious desertion, it contents itself with the simple accusative.

On the one side, by joining in the speech of the free-thinkers he would have placed himself outside the circle of the children of God, of the truly pious; on the other side, however, when by meditation he sought to penetrate it (לדעת), the doubt-provoking phenomenon (זאת) still continued to be to him עמל, trouble, i.e., something that troubled him without any result, an unsolvable riddle (cf. Ecclesiastes 8:17). Whether we read הוּא or היא, the sense remains the same; the Ker הוּא prefers, as in Job 31:11, the attractional gender. Neither here nor in Job 30:26 and elsewhere is it to be supposed that ואחשׁבה is equivalent to ואחשׁבה (Ewald, Hupfeld). The cohortative from of the future here, as frequently (Ges. 128, 1), with or without a conditional particle (Psalm 139:8; 2 Samuel 22:38; Job 16:6; Job 11:17; Job 19:18; Job 30:26), forms a hypothetical protasis: and (yet) when I meditated; Symmachus (according to Montfaucon), ει ̓ ἐλογιζόμην. As Vaihinger aptly observes, "thinking alone will give neither the right light nor true happiness." Both are found only in faith. The poet at last struck upon the way of faith, and there he found light and peace. The future after עד frequently has the signification of the imperfect subjunctive, Job 32:11; Ecclesiastes 2:3, cf. Proverbs 12:19 (donec nutem equals only a moment); also in an historical connection like Joshua 10:13; 2 Chronicles 29:34, it is conceived of as subjunctive (donec ulciseretur, se sanctificarent), sometimes, however, as indicative, as in Exodus 15:16 (donec transibat) and in our passage, where אד introduces the objective goal at which the riddle found its solution: until I went into the sanctuary of God, (purposely) attended to (ל as in the primary passage Deuteronomy 32:29, cf. Job 14:21) their life's end. The cohortative is used here exactly as in ואבינה, but with the collateral notion of that which is intentional, which here fully accords with the connection. He went into God's dread sanctuary (plural as in Psalm 68:36, cf. מקדּשׁ in the Psalms of Asaph, Psalm 67:7; Psalm 78:69); here he prayed for light in the darkness of his conflict, here were his eyes opened to the holy plans and ways of God (Psalm 77:14), here the sight of the sad end of the evil-doers was presented to him. By "God's sanctuaries" Ewald and Hitzig understand His secrets; but this meaning is without support in the usage of the language. And is it not a thought perfectly in harmony with the context and with experience, that a light arose upon him when he withdrew from the bustle of the world into the quiet of God's dwelling - place, and there devoutly gave his mind to the matter?

The strophe closes with a summary confession of the explanation received there. שׁית is construed with Lamed inasmuch as collocare is equivalent to locum assignare (vid., Psalm 73:6). God makes the evil-doers to stand on smooth, slippery places, where one may easily lose one's footing (cf. Psalm 35:6; Jeremiah 23:12). There, then, they also inevitably fall; God casts them down למשּׁוּאות, into ruins, fragores equals ruinae, from שׁוא equals שׁאה, to be confused, desolate, to rumble. The word only has the appearance of being from נשׁא: ensnarings, sudden attacks (Hitzig), which is still more ill suited to Psalm 74:3 than to this passage; desolation and ruin can be said even of persons, as הרס, Psalm 28:5, ונשׁבּרוּ, Isaiah 8:15, נפּץ, Jeremiah 51:21-23. The poet knows no other theodicy but this, nor was any other known generally in the pre-exilic literature of Israel (vid., Psalm 37; Psalm 39:1-13, Jeremiah 12, and the Job 1:1). The later prophecy and the Chokma were much in advance of this, inasmuch as they point to a last universal judgment (vid., more particularly Malachi 3:13.), but not one that breaks off this present state; the present state and the future state, time and eternity, are even there not as yet thoroughly separated.

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