Psalm 73:9
They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walks through the earth.
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(9) They set.—The last clause is repeated here under a figure more defined:

“They have set their mouth in [not against] the heavens,

While their tongue walketh through the earth.”

an image very expressive of a towering pride, vaunting itself to the skies, and trumpeting its own praises through the world.

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.They set their mouth against the heavens - Compare Revelation 13:6. Literally, "They set their mouth in heaven," or in the heavens. The idea is, they speak as if they were "in" the heavens; as if they were clothed with all authority; as if they were superior beings, and had a right to command the universe.

And their tongue walketh through the earth - It has no limit; it is as if it roamed over all the earth. They speak without any restraint of law, or propriety; without any regard to the command of God, or to what is due to people, In other words, they seem to set themselves above all law, and to act as if there were no one in heaven or in earth to control them.

8. They are corrupt—or, literally, "they deride," they speak maliciously and arrogantly and invade even heaven with blasphemy (Re 13:6), and cover earth with slanders (Job 21:7-14). Against the heavens, i.e. against God, blaspheming his name, denying or deriding his providence, reviling his saints and servants.

Walketh through the earth; using all manner of liberty, introducing and reproaching all sorts of persons, not caring whom they displease or hurt by it. They set their mouth against the heavens,.... Against God in heaven, see Daniel 4:26, against his being, saying, there is no God; against his perfections, thinking him to be such an one as themselves; against his purposes and decrees, replying against him, and charging him with insincerity, cruelty, and unrighteousness; and against his providence, either denying it, or affirming it to be unequal; and against his doctrines, ordinances, and ministers. Aben Ezra interprets it also of the angels of heaven, who are spoken against, when it is denied that there are any such beings, as were by the Sadducees; and blasphemed, when the worshipping of them is introduced. The Targum understands it of the saints of heaven, with which compare Revelation 13:6 it may be applied to civil magistrates, the higher powers, who represent on earth God in heaven; and there are some that despise dominion, and speak evil of such dignities:

and their tongue walketh through the earth: sparing none, high nor low, but injures all sorts of persons with their lies and calumnies. This denotes the unbridled liberty which wicked men take with their tongues; there is no restraint upon them, no stopping of them; see Psalm 12:5 the universal mischief they are continually doing, and the diabolical influence of their detraction and falsehood; like Satan, their tongues walk to and fro in the earth, doing all the injury to the credit and characters of men they possibly can.

They {d} set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth.

(d) They blaspheme God, and do not fear his power and rail upon men, because they esteem themselves above all others.

9. The A.V. gives a good sense: they blaspheme God and dictate to men. Cp. Daniel 7:25. But probably the R.V. is right in rendering,

They have set their mouth In the heavens.

The clause expands the words of the preceding verse “from on high.” They make an impious claim of divine authority, and dictate to men as though the earth belonged to them.Verse 9. - They set their mouth against the heavens. So Hupfeld and Canon Cook, who understand the expression of blasphemy; but most modern critics translate, "They have set their mouth in the heavens," and regard the meaning as nearly allied to that of the second clause of the preceding verse, "They speak as though they were inhabitants of the heavens." And their tongue walketh through the earth. Their tongue is always busily employed - boasting (ver. 3), lying, backbiting. Now follows the occasion of the conflict of temptation: the good fortune of those who are estranged from God. In accordance with the gloominess of the theme, the style is also gloomy, and piles up the full-toned suffixes amo and emo (vid., Psalm 78:66; Psalm 80:7; Psalm 83:12, Psalm 83:14); both are after the example set by David. קנּא with Beth of the object ion which the zeal or warmth of feeling is kindled (Psalm 37:1; Proverbs 3:31) here refers to the warmth of envious ill-feeling. Concerning הולל vid., Psalm 5:6. Psalm 73:3 tells under what circumsntaces the envy was excited; cf. so far as the syntax is concerned, Psalm 49:6; Psalm 76:11. In Psalm 73:4 חרצצבּות (from חרצב equals חצּב from חצב, cognate עצב, whence עצב, pain, Arabic ‛aṣâbe, a snare, cf. חבל, ὠδίς, and חבל σχοινίον), in the same sense as the Latin tormenta (from torquere), is intended of pains that produce convulsive contractions. But in order to give the meaning "they have no pangs (to suffer) till their death," להם (למו) could not be omitted (that is, assuming also that ל, which is sometimes used for עד, vid., Psalm 59:14, could in such an exclusive sense signify the terminus ad quem). Also "there are no pangs for their death, i.e., that bring death to them," ought to be expressed by להם למּות. The clause as it stands affirms that their dying has no pangs, i.e., it is a painless death; but not merely does this assertion not harmonize with Psalm 73:18., but it is also introduced too early here, since the poet cannot surely begin the description of the good fortune of the ungodly with the painlessness of their death, and then for the first time come to speak of their healthy condition. We may therefore read, with Ewald, Hitzig, Bttcher, and Olshausen:

כי אין חרצבות למו

תּם ובריא אולם

i.e., they have (suffer) no pangs, vigorous (תּם like תּם, Job 21:23, תמים, Proverbs 1:12) and well-nourished is their belly; by which means the difficult למותם is got rid of, and the gloomy picture is enriched by another form ending with mo. אוּל, here in a derisive sense, signifies the body, like the Arabic allun, âlun (from âl, coaluit, cohaesit, to condense inwardly, to gain consistency).

(Note: Hitzig calls to mind οὖλος, "corporeal;" but this word is Ionic and equivalent to ὅλος, solidus, the ground-word of which is the Sanscrit sarvas, whole, complete.)

The observation of Psalm 73:4 is pursued further in Psalm 73:5 : whilst one would have thought that the godly formed an exception to the common wretchedness of mankind, it is just the wicked who are exempt from all trouble and calamity. It is also here to be written אינמו, as in Psalm 59:14, not אינימו. Therefore is haughtiness their neck-chain, and brutishness their mantle. ענק is a denominative from ענק equals αὐχήν: to hang round the neck; the neck is the seat of pride (αὐχεῖν): haughtiness hangs around their neck (like ענק, a neck-ornament). Accordingly in Psalm 73:6 המס is the subject, although the interpunction construes it differently, viz., "they wrap round as a garment the injustice belonging to them," in order, that is, to avoid the construction of יעטף (vid., Psalm 65:14) with למו; but active verbs can take a dative of the object (e.g., אהב ל ,, רפא ל) in the sense: to be or to grant to any one that which the primary notion of the verb asserts. It may therefore be rendered: they put on the garment of violence (שׁית חמס like בּגדי נקם, Isaiah 59:17), or even by avoiding every enallage numeri: violence covers them as a garment; so that שׁית is an apposition which is put forth in advance.

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