Psalm 9:20
Put them in fear, O LORD: that the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah.
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(20) Put them in fear.—There is a difficulty about the reading. The LXX., Vulg., and Syriac read “place a lawgiver or master over them.” So Syriac, “law.” Hitzig conjectures, “set a guard upon them.” With the present reading apparently the rendering should be, put a terror upon them: i.e., “give such a proof of power as to trouble and subdue them.”

9:11-20 Those who believe that God is greatly to be praised, not only desire to praise him better themselves, but desire that others may join with them. There is a day coming, when it will appear that he has not forgotten the cry of the humble; neither the cry of their blood, or the cry of their prayers. We are never brought so low, so near to death, but God can raise us up. If he has saved us from spiritual and eternal death, we may thence hope, that in all our distresses he will be a very present help to us. The overruling providence of God frequently so orders it, that persecutors and oppressors are brought to ruin by the projects they formed to destroy the people of God. Drunkards kill themselves; prodigals beggar themselves; the contentious bring mischief upon themselves: thus men's sins may be read in their punishment, and it becomes plain to all, that the destruction of sinners is of themselves. All wickedness came originally with the wicked one from hell; and those who continue in sin, must go to that place of torment. The true state, both of nations and of individuals, may be correctly estimated by this one rule, whether in their doings they remember or forget God. David encourages the people of God to wait for his salvation, though it should be long deferred. God will make it appear that he never did forget them: it is not possible he should. Strange that man, dust in his and about him, should yet need some sharp affliction, some severe visitation from God, to bring him to the knowledge of himself, and make him feel who and what he is.Put them in fear, O Lord - From this it is evident that the enemies of the psalmist were bold, daring, confident in their own strength, and in the belief that they would succeed. He prays, therefore, that these bold and daring invaders of the rights of others might be made to stand in awe, and to tremble before the great and terrible majesty of God; that they might thus have just views of themselves, and see how weak and feeble they were as compared with Him.

That the nations may know - The nations particularly referred to in this psalm as arrayed against the writer.

Themselves to be but men - That they may see themselves as they are - poor, feeble creatures; as nothing when compared with God; that instead of their pride and self-confidence, their belief that they can accomplish any purpose that they choose, they may see that they are not like God, but that they are frail and feeble mortals. The psalmist seems to have supposed that if they understood this, they would be humbled and would desist from their purposes; and he therefore prays that God would interpose and show them precisely what they were. If men understood this, they would not dare to arrayy themselves against their Maker.

20. By their effectual subjection, make them to realize their frail nature (Ps 8:4), and deter them from all conceit and future rebellion. Subdue their proud and insolent spirits, and strike them with terror, or with some terrible judgment. But men, Heb. weak, and miserable, and mortal men, and therefore altogether unable to oppose the omnipotent and eternal God. This he saith, 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. See Isaiah 31:3 Ezekiel 30:7,8 Da 5:21.

Put them in fear, O Lord,.... Who are, a bold, impudent, fearless generation of men; who, like the unjust judge, neither fear God nor regard men, therefore the psalmist prays that God would inject fear into them, who only can do it; and this will be done at Babylon's destruction, when the antichristian kings, merchants, and seafaring men, will stand afar off for fear of her torment, Revelation 18:10;

that the nations may know themselves to be but men; and not God, and have no power against him; see Isaiah 31:3; the sense is, that the antichristian nations, who oppose themselves to Christ and his people, may know that they are but frail, mortal, miserable men, as the word (q) signifies; and that he who is at the head of them, the man of sin, is no other, though he exalts himself above all that is called God, 2 Thessalonians 2:4; or these words are a prayer for the conversion of many among the nations, and may be rendered, "put, O Lord, fear in them" (r); that is, the true grace of fear, "that the nations may know" themselves, their sin and guilt and danger, and know God in Christ, and Christ, and the way of salvation by him; for at the word "know" should be a stop, concluding a proposition, since the accent "athnach" is there; and then follows another, "they are men. Selah": destitute of the fear and grace of God, are capable of it, but cannot give it to themselves.

Selah; on this word; see Gill on Psalm 3:2.

(q) "mortales esse", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Gejerus; "homines miseri", Cocceius, Michaelis; "sorry men", Ainsworth. (r) "pone timorem eis", so Junius and Tremellius, Piscator, Pagninus, Montanus, Cocceius, Ainsworth.

Put them in fear, O LORD: that the nations may know themselves to be but {k} men. Selah.

(k) Which they cannot learn without the fear of your judgment.

20. Put them in fear] Lit. set terror for them: some awe-inspiring exhibition of power, such as were the wonders of the Exodus. (Deuteronomy 4:34; Deuteronomy 26:8; Deuteronomy 34:12; Jeremiah 32:21.) The rendering of LXX, Vulg., Syr., appoint a lawgiver over them, (reading môreh for môrah) is certainly wrong, though it is adopted by Luther and by some modern critics.

Verse 20. - Put them in fear, O Lord; literally, set fear to them; i.e. "make them afraid," either by striking a panic terror into them, as into the Syrians when they had brought Samaria to the last gasp (2 Kings 7:6, 7), or by causing them calmly to review the situation, and to see how dangerous it was to assail God's people (2 Kings 6:23). That the nations may know themselves to be but men. May recognize, i.e., their weakness; may remember that they are enosh - mere weak, frail, sickly, perishing mortals. Selah. Here this word occurs for the second time at the end of a psalm (see above, Psalm 3:8) - a position which militates against the idea of its signifying "a pause," since there must always have been a pause at the end of every psalm.

Psalm 9:20(Heb.: 9:20-21) By reason of the act of judgment already witnessed the prayer now becomes all the more confident in respect of the state of things which is still continually threatened. From י the poet takes a leap to ק which, however, seems to be a substitute for the כ which one would expect to find, since the following Psalm begins with ל. David's קוּמה (Psalm 3:8; Psalm 7:7) is taken from the lips of Moses, Numbers 10:35. "Jahve arises, comes, appears" are kindred expressions in the Old Testament, all of which point to a final personal appearing of God to take part in human history from which He has now, as it were, retired into a state of repose becoming invisible to human eyes. Hupfeld and others wrongly translate "let not man become strong." The verb עזז does not only mean to be or become strong, but also to feel strong, powerful, possessed of power, and to act accordingly, therefore: to defy, Psalm 52:9, like עז defiant, impudent (post-biblical עזּוּת shamelessness). אנושׁ, as in 2 Chronicles 14:10, is man, impotent in comparison with God, and frail in himself. The enemies of the church of God are not unfrequently designated by this name, which indicates the impotence of their pretended power (Isaiah 51:7, Isaiah 51:12). David prays that God may repress the arrogance of these defiant ones, by arising and manifesting Himself in all the greatness of His omnipotence, after His forbearance with them so long has seemed to them to be the result of impotence. He is to arise as the Judge of the world, judging the heathen, while they are compelled to appear before Him, and, as it were, defile before Him (על־פּני), He is to lay מורה on them. If "razor" be the meaning it is equivocally expressed; and if, according to Isaiah 7:20, we associate with it the idea of an ignominious rasure, or of throat-cutting, it is a figure unworthy of the passage. The signification master (lxx, Syr., Vulg., and Luther) rests upon the reading אמת, which we do not with Thenius and others prefer to the traditional reading (even Jerome translates: pone, Domine, terrorem eis); for מורה rof , which according to the Masora is instead of מורא (like מכלה Habakkuk 3:17 for מכלא), is perfectly appropriate. Hitzig objects that fear is not a thing which one lays upon any one; but מורא means not merely fear, but an object, or as Hitzig himself explains it in Malachi 2:5 a "lever," of fear. It is not meant that God is to cause them to be overcome with terror (על), nor that He is to put terror into them (בּ), but that He is to make them (ל( m in no way differing from Psalm 31:4; Psalm 140:6; Job 14:13) an object of terror, from which to their dismay, as the wish is further expressed in Psalm 9:20, they shall come to know (Hosea 9:7) that they are mortal men. As in Psalm 10:12; Psalm 49:12; Psalm 50:21; Psalm 64:6; Genesis 12:13; Job 35:14; Amos 5:12; Hosea 7:2, ידּעוּ is followed by an only half indirect speech, without כּי or אשׁר. סּלה has Dag. forte conj. according to the rule of the אתי מרחיק (concerning which vid., on Psalm 52:5), because it is erroneously regarded as an essential part of the text.
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