Arise, O LORD; let not man prevail: let the heathen be judged in your sight.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Let not man prevail.—Better, let not mere man be defiant.Psalm 9:19-20. Arise, O Lord — Stir up thyself, exert thy power: let not man prevail — Consult thine own honour and let not men, Hebrew, weak, miserable, and mortal men, prevail against the kingdom and interest of the almighty and immortal God: shall mortal man be too hard for God, too strong for his Maker? Let the heathen be judged in thy sight — Let them be evidently called to an account for all the dishonour done to thee, and the mischief done to thy people. Impenitent sinners will be punished in God’s sight, and when their day of grace is over, the bowels even of infinite mercy will not relent toward them, Revelation 14:10. Put them in fear, O Lord: that the nations may know themselves to be but men — Subdue their proud and insolent spirits, strike a terror upon them, and make them afraid of thy judgments. God knows how to make the strongest and stoutest of men to tremble, and to flee when none pursues. That the nations may know themselves to be but men — Weak, miserable, and mortal men, and therefore altogether unable to oppose the omnipotent and eternal God. He speaks thus because wicked men, when they are advanced to great power and majesty, are very prone to forget their own frailty, and to carry themselves as if they were gods: and because it is much for the glory of God, and the peace and welfare of the world, that all, even the highest and haughtiest, should know and consider themselves to be dependant, mutable, mortal, and accountable creatures. Psalm 3:7.
Let not man prevail - Against thee and thy cause. The war waged against the psalmist he regarded as waged against God, and he calls upon him, therefore, to interpose and vindicate his own cause. The word rendered "prevail" is be strong; that is, let not man seem to be stronger than thou art, or let, him not succeed in his efforts in opposing thy cause.
Let the heathen be judged in thy sight - The nations to whom the writer had referred in the psalm, that were arrayed against him and against God. He desired that a just judgment should be passed on them, and that God would vindicate the righteous, and save them from the power of those who oppressed and wronged them.
let not man—(Ps 8:4).
20 Put them in fear, O Lord, that the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah.
Prayers are the believer's weapons of war. When the battle is too hard for us, we call in our great ally, who, as it were, lies in ambush until faith gives the signal by crying out, "Arise, O Lord." Although our cause be all but lost, it shall be soon won again if the Almighty doth but bestir himself. He will not suffer man to prevail over God, but with swift judgments will confound their gloryings. In the very sight of God the wicked will be punished, and he who is now all tenderness will have no bowels of compassion for them, since they had no tears of repentance while their day of grace endured.
One would think that men would not grow so vain as to deny themselves to be but men, but it appears to be a lesson which only a divine schoolmaster can teach to some proud spirits. Crowns leave their wearers but men, degrees of eminent learning make their owners not more than men, valour and conquest cannot elevate beyond the dead level of "but men;" and all the wealth of Croesus, the wisdom of Solon, the power of Alexander, the eloquence of Demosthenes, if added together, would leave the possessor but a man. May we ever remember this, lest like those in the text, we should be put in fear.
Before leaving this Psalm, it will be very profitable if the student will peruse it again as the triumphal hymn of the Redeemer, as he devoutly brings the glory of his victories and lays it down at his Father's feet. Let us joy in his joy, and our joy shall be full.Psalm 7:6;
let not man prevail; the man of sin, antichrist, that is, let him not always prevail; he is the little horn that was to prevail against the saints, and has prevailed, Daniel 7:21; but he shall not always prevail; this petition will be heard and answered; for though he shall cast down many thousands, he shall not be "strengthened" by it, Daniel 11:12; where the same word is used as here; the Lamb at last shall overcome him and his ten kings, his supporters, and all that shall aid and assist him, Revelation 17:14;
let the Heathen be judged in thy sight; that is, the antichristian nations that adhere to the man of sin, let them be judged and punished in the sight of God, the Judge of all the earth, whose eyes are as a flame of fire; compare with this Joel 3:12.Arise, O LORD; let not man prevail: let the heathen be judged in thy sight.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)19, 20. This stanza should begin with Kaph, but (if the text is sound) the similar letter Qoph is substituted for it. [Kaph is prefixed to Psalm 9:18 in Dr Scrivener’s text; but this verse belongs to the stanza of Yod.] It is a prayer for further and still more complete judgment upon the nations, that they may be taught to know their human weakness.
Arise, O Jehovah; let not mortal man wax strong:
Let the nations be Judged in thy presence.
Ordain terror for them, O Jehovah,
Let the nations know they are but mortal.
The word for ‘man’ (enôsh) denotes man in his weakness as contrasted with God (2 Chronicles 14:11; Job 4:17; Isaiah 51:7; Isaiah 51:12). ‘Strength’ is the prerogative of God (Psalm 62:11); though men and nations are apt to think that it is inherent in themselves (Psalm 52:7); and therefore the Psalmist prays that the proud antagonism of the nations may receive a salutary lesson. They are to be summoned to Jehovah’s presence and there judged.Verse 19. - Arise, O Lord (comp. Psalm 7:6, and the comment ad loc.). Let not man prevail; or, let not weak man prevail. The word used for "man," enosh, carries with it the idea of weakness. That "weak man" should prevail over God is preposterous. Let the heathen be judged in thy sight. If judged, then, as being wicked, condemned; if condemned, then punished - defeated, ruined, brought to nought (see ver. 5) Psalm 17:7. The gates of death, i.e., the gates of the realm of the dead (שׁאול, Isaiah 38:10), are in the deep; he who is in peril of death is said to have sunk down to them; he who is snatched from peril of death is lifted up, so that they do not swallow him up and close behind him. The church, already very near to the gates of death, cried to the God who can snatch from death. Its final purpose in connection with such deliverance is that it may glorify God. The form תּהלּתיך is sing. with a plural suffix just like שׂנאתיך Ezekiel 35:11, אשׁמתימו Ezra 9:15. The punctuists maintained (as עצתיך in Isaiah 47:13 shows) the possibility of a plural inflexion of a collective singular. In antithesis to the gates of death, which are represented as beneath the ground, we have the gates of the daughter of Zion standing on high. ציּון is gen. appositionis (Ges. 116, 5). The daughter of Zion (Zion itself) is the church in its childlike, bride-like, and conjugal relation to Jahve. In the gates of the daughter of Zion is equivalent to: before all God's people, Psalm 116:14. For the gates are the places of public resort and business. At this period the Old Testament mind knew nothing of the songs of praise of the redeemed in heaven. On the other side of the grave is the silence of death. If the church desires to praise God, it must continue in life and not die.
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