Psalm 73:23
Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand.
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Psalm 73:23. Nevertheless — Notwithstanding all my temptations, and my gross folly in yielding to them; I am continually with thee — In thy favour and under thy care. Although I gave thee just cause to cast me off, yet thou didst continue thy gracious presence with me, and kindness to me. Thou hast holden me by thy right hand — Hast upheld me, that my faith might not fail, and I might not be overthrown by this, or any other temptation. “The remainder of the Psalm contains the most dutiful and affectionate expressions of a mind perfectly at ease, and reposing itself with comfortable assurance on the loving-kindness of the Lord, of which it had thus experienced a fresh instance in its support under the late temptation, and complete victory over it.” — Horne.

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.Nevertheless, I am continually with thee - I am kept by thee in the land of the living; I am permitted to abide in thy presence; I am allowed to hope in thy mercy. Notwithstanding my low and unworthy views, notwithstanding my doubts about the justice of the divine administration, notwithstanding my envy at the prosperity of the wicked, and my spirit of complaining against God, I am not driven away from God; I am not banished from his presence, or cut off from his favor. Well may we marvel when we reflect on our thoughts about God, that He has not risen in his anger, and banished us from his presence forever and ever.

Thou hast holden me by my right hand - Thou hast not left me. Thou hast stretched out thy hand to keep me. Thou hast been to me as, a Protector and Friend. Thou hast not been angry at my unkind and ungrateful thoughts; thou hast not banished me eternally from thy presence.

23. Still he was with God, as a dependent beneficiary, and so kept from falling (Ps 73:2). Nevertheless; notwithstanding all my temptations, and my gross folly in yielding to them.

I am continually with thee; either,

1. In a way of duty. Yet I did not depart from thee, nor from thy ways; but did at last conquer them, and firmly cleave unto thee by faith. Or rather,

2. In a way of mercy and favour, of which he speaks in the next clause of this and in the following verse. Although I gave thee just cause to east me off, yet thou didst continue thy gracious presence with me, and thy care and kindness to me. And this phrase, with thee, seems to have some emphasis in it, as being opposed to the other with thee, Psalm 73:22. I was a beast with thee, such was my folly and wickedness; and yet I was in favour with thee, such was thy goodness: thou didst pardon and cure it.

Thou hast holden me by my right hand, that my faith might not fail, and I might not be overthrown by this or any other temptations.

Nevertheless, I am continually with thee,.... Upon the heart of God, in his hands, under his eye, under his wings of protection and care, and not suffered to depart from him finally and totally; he could not be disunited and removed from him by the above temptation; nor was he left to cast off the fear of the Lord, and to forsake his worship and service; nor altogether to lose his love and affection for him, which still continued; see Psalm 73:25, or "I shall be always with thee" (z); not now, for though the saints are always in union with the Lord, yet they have not always communion with him; but hereafter, in heaven, to all eternity:

thou hast holden me by my right hand; as an instance of condescension, respect, and familiarity; see Acts 23:19, as a parent takes his child by the hand, and learns it to go, so the Lord takes his children by the hand, and teaches them to walk by faith in him, Hosea 11:3 or in order to keep them from falling, and bear them up under temptations and exercises; as well as to lead them into more intimate communion with himself in his sanctuary, and to raise them up out of their low estate to an exalted one; see Isaiah 45:1, and likewise to put something into their hands, to supply their wants, and fill them with his good things; see Ezekiel 16:49.

(z) "ego jugiter futurus sum", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "itaque ego in posterum semper tecum ero", Michaelis.

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

(m) By faith I was assured that your providence always watched over me to preserve me.

23. Nevertheless] Lit., But as for me, I am &c. Render, Whereas I am &c. He contrasts his real position of fellowship with God with his former delusion and also with the insecurity of the wicked.

thou hast holden &c.] Better as R.V., thou hast holden my right band. Cp. Psalm 63:8.

23–26. The positive solution of the Psalmist’s perplexity: the only true and abiding happiness is to be found in fellowship with God.

Verse 23. - Nevertheless I am continually with thee; i.e. "nevertheless, I have not fallen away, but have kept always my hold upon thee;" and, on thy part, thou hast holden me by my right hand; i.e. thou hast upheld me and prevented me from slipping (comp. Psalm 18:35; Psalm 89:21; Psalm 119:117). Psalm 73:23But he does not thus deeply degrade himself: after God has once taken him by the right hand and rescued him from the danger of falling (Psalm 73:2), he clings all the more firmly to Him, and will not suffer his perpetual fellowship with Him to be again broken through by such seizures which estrange him from God. confidently does he yield up himself to the divine guidance, though he may not see through the mystery of the plan (עצה) of this guidance. He knows that afterwards (אחר with Mugrash: adverb as in Psalm 68:26), i.e., after this dark way of faith, God will כבוד receive him, i.e., take him to Himself, and take him from all suffering (לקח as in Psalm 49:16, and of Enoch, Genesis 5:24). The comparison of Zechariah 2:12 [8] is misleading; there אחר is rightly accented as a preposition: after glory hath He sent me forth (vid., Kצhler), and here as an adverb; for although the adverbial sense of אחר would more readily lead one to look for the arrangement of the words ואחר תקחני כבוד, still "to receive after glory" (cf. the reverse Isaiah 58:8) is an awkward thought. כבוד, which as an adjective "glorious" (Hofmann) is alien to the language, is either accusative of the goal (Hupfeld), or, which yields a form of expression that is more like the style of the Old Testament, accusative of the manner (Luther, "with honour"). In אחר the poet comprehends in one summary view what he looks for at the goal of the present divine guidance. The future is dark to him, but lighted up by the one hope that the end of his earthly existence will be a glorious solution of the riddle. Here, as elsewhere, it is faith which breaks through not only the darkness of this present life, but also the night of Hades. At that time there was as yet no divine utterance concerning any heavenly triumph of the church, militant in the present world, but to faith the Jahve-Name had already a transparent depth which penetrated beyond Hades into an eternal life. The heaven of blessedness and glory also is nothing without God; but he who can in love call God his, possesses heaven upon earth, and he who cannot in love call God his, would possess not heaven, but hell, in the midst of heaven. In this sense the poet says in Psalm 73:25 : whom have I in heaven? i.e., who there without Thee would be the object of my desire, the stilling of my longing? without Thee heaven with all its glory is a vast waste and void, which makes me indifferent to everything, and with Thee, i.e., possessing Thee, I have no delight in the earth, because to call Thee mine infinitely surpasses every possession and every desire of earth. If we take בּארץ still more exactly as parallel to בּשּׁמים, without making it dependent upon חפצתּי: and possessing Thee I have no desire upon the earth, then the sense remains essentially the same; but if we allow בארץ to be governed by חפצתי in accordance with the general usage of the language, we arrive at this meaning by the most natural way. Heaven and earth, together with angels and men, afford him no satisfaction - his only friend, his sole desire and love, is God. The love for God which David expresses in Psalm 16:2 in the brief utterance, "Thou art my Lord, Thou art my highest good," is here expanded with incomparable mystical profoundness and beauty. Luther's version shows his master-hand. The church follows it in its "Herzlich lieb hab' ich dich" when it sings -

"The whole wide world delights me not,

For heaven and earth, Lord, care Inot,

If I may but have Thee;"

and following it, goes on in perfect harmony with the text of our Psalm -

"Yea, though my heart be like to break,

Thou art my trust that nought can shake;"

(Note: Miss Winkworth's translation.)

or with Paul Gerhard, [in his Passion-hymn "Ein Lmmlein geht und trgt die Schuld der Welt und ihrer Kinder,"

"Light of my heart, that shalt Thou be;

And when my heart in pieces breaks,

Thou shalt my heart remain."

For the hypothetical perfect כּלה expresses something in spite of which he upon whom it may come calls God his God: licet defecerit. Though his outward and inward man perish, nevertheless God remains ever the rock of his heart as the firm ground upon which he, with his ego, remains standing when everything else totters; He remains his portion, i.e., the possession that cannot be taken from him, if he loses all, even his spirit-life pertaining to the body, - and God remains to him this portion לעולם, he survives with the life which he has in God the death of the old life. The poet supposes an extreme case, - one, that is, it is true, impossible, but yet conceivable, - that his outward and inward being should sink away; even then with the merus actus of his ego he will continue to cling to God. In the midst of the natural life of perishableness and of sin, a new, individual life which is resigned to God has begun within him, and in this he has the pledge that he cannot perish, so truly as God, with whom it is closely united, cannot perish. It is just this that is also the nerve of the proof of the resurrection of the dead which Jesus advances in opposition to the Sadducees (Matthew 22:32).

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