Psalm 94:8
Understand, you brutish among the people: and you fools, when will you be wise?
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(8-10) The reality of a Divine Providence is proved both from nature and history—from the physical constitution of man and the moral government of the world. The psalmist’s question is as powerful against modern atheism, under whatever philosophy it shelters itself, as against that of his day. Whatever the source of physical life or moral sense, their existence proves the prior existence of an original mind and will.

Psalm 94:8-9. Understand, ye brutish — Hebrew, בערים, bognarim; ye who are governed by your lusts and appetites, as the word signifies; who have only the shape, but not the understanding, reason, or judgment of men in you, or are not directed and governed thereby; who, though you think yourselves the wisest of men, yet, in truth, are the most brutish of all people; he that planted the ear — The word planted (Hebrew, נשׂע, notang) is very emphatical, signifying the excellent structure of the ear, or of the several organs belonging to the sense of hearing, and the wise position of all those parts in their proper places; shall he not hear? — He must necessarily hear. The truth of the inference depends upon that evident and undeniable principle in reason, that nothing can give to another that which it hath not either formally or more eminently in itself, and that no effect can exceed the virtue of its cause. He that formed the eye, &c. — By the word formed, (Hebrew, יצר, jotzer, concerning which see note on Genesis 2:7,) he seems to intimate the accurate and most curious workmanship of the eye, which is observed by all who write on the subject.94:1-11 We may with boldness appeal to God; for he is the almighty Judge by whom every man is judged. Let this encourage those who suffer wrong, to bear it with silence, committing themselves to Him who judges righteously. These prayers are prophecies, which speak terror to the sons of violence. There will come a day of reckoning for all the hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against God, his truths, and ways, and people. It would hardly be believed, if we did not witness it, that millions of rational creatures should live, move, speak, hear, understand, and do what they purpose, yet act as if they believed that God would not punish the abuse of his gifts. As all knowledge is from God, no doubt he knows all the thoughts of the children of men, and knows that the imaginations of the thoughts of men's hearts are only evil, and that continually. Even in good thoughts there is a want of being fixed, which may be called vanity. It concerns us to keep a strict watch over our thoughts, because God takes particular notice of them. Thoughts are words to God.Understand, ye brutish among the people - See Psalm 73:22. The meaning here is, "You who are like the brutes; you who see and understand no more of the character and plans of God than the wild beasts of the desert." The meaning is, that they did not employ their reason in the case; they acted like beasts, regardless of the consequences of their conduct - as if God would treat people as he does the beasts; as if there were no retribution in the future world.

And ye fools, when will ye be wise? - How long is this stupidity to continue? When will you attend to the truth; when will you act as immortal beings; when will you suffer your rational nature to lead you up to just views of God? It is implied that this folly had been manifested for a long period, and that it was time they should arouse from this condition, and act like people. With what propriety may this language be addressed still to the great mass of mankind! What numbers of the human race are there now, who in respect to God, and to the purpose for which they were made, evince no more wisdom than the brutes that perish! Oh, if people were truly wise, what a beautiful world would this be; how noble and elevated would be our now degraded race!

8. ye brutish—(Compare Ps 73:22; 92:6).8 Understand, ye brutish among the people; and ye fools, when will ye be wise?

9 He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see?

10 He that chastiseth the heathen, shall not he correct? he that teacheth man knowledge, shall not he know?

11 The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity.

Psalm 94:8

"Understand, ye brutish among the people." They said that God did not note, and now, using the same word in the original, the Psalmist calls on the wicked to note, and have regard to the truth. He designates them as boors, boarish, swinish men, and well was the term deserved; and he bids them understand or consider, if they can. They thought themselves to be wise, and indeed the only men of wit in the world, but he calls them "boars among the people": wicked men are fools, and the more they know, the more foolish they become. "No fool like a learned fool" is a true proverb. When a man has done with God, he has done with his manhood, and has fallen to the level of the ox and the ass, yea, beneath them, for "the ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib." Instead of being humbled in the presence of scientific infidels, we ought to pity them; they affect to look down upon us, but we have far more cause to look down upon them. "And ye fools, when will ye be wise?" Is it not high time? Ye know the ways of folly, what profit have ye in them? Have ye no relics of reason left? no shreds of sense? If as yet there lingers in your minds a gleam of intelligence, hearken to argument, and consider the questions now about to be proposed to you.

Psalm 94:9

"He that planted the ear, shall he not hear?" He fashioned that marvellous organ, and fixed it in the most convenient place near to the brain, and is he deaf himself? Is he capable of such design and invention, and yet can he not discern what is done in the world which he made? He made you hear, can he not himself hear? Unanswerable question! It overwhelms the sceptic. and covers him with confusion. "He that formed the eye, shall he not see?" He gives us vision; is it conceivable that he has no sight himself? With skilful hand he fashioned the optic nerve, and the eyeball, and all its curious mechanism, and it surpasses all conception that he can himself be unable to observe the doings of his creatures. If there be a God, he must be a personal intelligent being, and no limit can be set to his knowledge.

Psalm 94:10

"He that chastiseth the heathen, shall not he correct?" He reproves whole nations, can he not reprove individuals? All history shows that he visits national sin with national judgment, and can he not deal with single persons? The question which follows is equally full of force, and is asked with a degree of warmth which checks the speaker, and causes the inquiry to remain incomplete. It begins, "He that teacheth man knowledge," and then it comes to a pause, which the translators have supplied with the words, "shall not he know?" but no such words are in the original, where the sentence comes to an abrupt end, as if the inference were too natural to need to be stated, and the writer had lost patience with the brutish men with whom he had argued. The earnest believer often feels as if he could say, "Go to, you are not worth arguing with! If you were reasonable men, these things would be too obvious to need to be stated in your hearing. I forbear." Man's knowledge comes from God. Science in its first principles was taught to our progenitor Adam and all after advances have been due to divine aid; does not the author and revealer of all knowledge himself know?

Psalm 94:11

Whether men admit or deny that God knows, one thing is here declared, namely, that "The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity." Not their words alone are heard, and their works seen, but he reads the secret motions of their minds, for men themselves are not hard to be discerned of him, before his glance they themselves are but vanity. It is in the Lord's esteem no great matter to know the thoughts of such transparent pieces of vanity as mankind are, he sums them up in a moment as poor vain things. This is the sense of the original, but that given in the authorised version is also true - the thoughts, the best part, the most spiritual portion of man's nature, even these are vanity itself, and nothing better. Poor man! And yet such a creature as this boasts, plays at monarch, tyrannises over his fellow worms, and defies his God! Madness is mingled with human vanity, like smoke with the fog, to make it fouler but not more substantial than it would have been alone.

How foolish are those who think that God does not know their actions, when the truth is that their vain thoughts are all perceived by him! How absurd to make nothing of God when in fact we ourselves are as nothing in his sight.

You who, though you think yourselves the wisest of men, yet in truth are the most brutish of all people; for the Hebrews oft express their superlatives in this manner, as Proverbs 30:30 Song of Solomon 1:8, &c. You that have only the shape, but not the understanding, of a man in you. Understand, ye brutish among the people,.... Or the most brutish and stupid of all people; especially that profess themselves to be the people of God, or Christians, as the Papists do; and who seem to be the persons here addressed: "brutish"; to murder the servants of the Lord, and drink their blood, till inebriated with it; stupid to the last degree to think that hereby they did God good service: hence the pope, the head of them, is represented both in his secular and ecclesiastical power by two beasts; the one rising out of the sea with seven heads and ten horns, a monster in nature, most like a leopard, his feet as a bear's, and his mouth as a lion's, having the fierceness and cruelty of them all; and the other coming out of the earth with two horns like a lamb, but spake like a dragon, Revelation 13:1, the exhortation to these brutish creatures supposes them to be without understanding, like the beasts by whom they are represented; or, however, that they did not make use of those intellectual powers which God had given them; had they, they would have learned more humanity to their fellow creatures, and more religion towards God; they would have known more of him than to have said and done what is before declared; wherefore they are called upon to "consider" (so the word (b) is sometimes rendered, Psalm 50:22) the reasonings about it to be laid before them:

and ye fools, when will ye be wise? "fools" they are to worship stocks and stones, the images of the Virgin Mary, and other saints; to give into the gross atheism they do; to disbelieve the omniscience of God and his providence, at least to behave as though they did; and think to do the vilest actions with impunity; wherefore it would be their wisdom to relinquish such stupid notions, and do no more such foolish and wicked actions.

(b) "animadvertite", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

Understand, ye brutish among the people: and ye fools, when will ye be wise?
8. Understand] Consider. Those Israelites are addressed who lack the spiritual discernment to realise that in spite of the temporary triumph of the wicked Jehovah still rules (Psalm 92:6; Psalm 73:22).

when will ye be wise?] When will ye understand? a word used of the intelligent consideration of God’s working in Psalm 14:2; Psalm 64:9; Psalm 106:7.

8–11. From pleading with God the Psalmist turns to argue with those of his fellow-countrymen who are tempted to agree with their oppressors, and to think that Jehovah is wanting either in power or in will to defend them.Verses 8-11. - The appeal to Israel. The oppressors thought that their conduct would not be observed by God, or would not be taken into account. The psalmist appeals to them not to be so brutish and foolish (ver. 8), and argues, from the first principles of natural theology, that God must see and hear (ver. 9). If he chastises the heathen, why should he not also punish them (ver. 10)? Verse 8. - Understand, ye brutish among the people (comp. Psalm 92:6). That there were among God's people some so "brutish" as to suppose that God either did not see or did not regard their misdoings, appears also from Psalm 10:11, 13. And ye fools, when will ye be wise? When will ye put away your folly, and allow Wisdom to enter into your hearts? She is always crying in the streets: when will ye consent to listen (comp. Proverbs 1:20-23)? The first strophe prays that God would at length put a judicial restraint upon the arrogance of ungodliness. Instead of חופיע (a less frequent form of the imperative for הופע, Ges. ֗53, rem. 3) it was perhaps originally written הופיעה (Psalm 80:2), the He of which has been lost owing to the He that follows. The plural נקמות signifies not merely single instances of taking vengeance (Ezekiel 25:17, cf. supra Psalm 18:48), but also intensively complete revenge or recompense (Judges 11:36; 2 Samuel 4:8). The designation of God is similar to אל גּמלות in Jeremiah 51:56, and the anadiplosis is like Psalm 94:3, Psalm 94:23, Psalm 93:1, Psalm 93:3. הנּשׂא, lift Thyself up, arise, viz., in judicial majesty, calls to mind Psalm 7:7. השׁיב גּמוּל is construed with על (cf. ל, Psalm 28:4; Psalm 59:18) as in Joel 3:4. With גּאים accidentally accord ἀγαυός and κύδεΐ γαίων in the epic poets.
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