Psalms Chapter 73:1-5,12, 13-20, 25-28 Antique Commentary Quotes

John Calvin
Psa 73:1
As to the author of this psalm, I am not disposed to contend very strongly, although I think it probable that the name of Asaph was prefixed to it because the charge of singing it was committed to him, while the name of David, its author, was omitted, just as it is usual for us, when things are well known of themselves, not to be at the trouble of stating them. How much profit we may derive from meditation upon the doctrine contained in this psalm, it is easy to discover from the example of the prophet, who, although he had been exercised in no ordinary degree in true godliness, yet had great difficulty in keeping his footing, while reeling to and fro on the slippery ground on which he found himself placed. Nay, he acknowledges that, before he returned to such soundness of mind as enabled him to form a just judgment of the things which occasioned his trial, he had fallen into a state of almost brutish stupidity. As to ourselves, experience shows how slight impressions we have of the providence of God. We no doubt all agree in admitting that the world is governed by the hand of God; but were this truth deeply rooted in our hearts, our faith would be distinguished by far greater steadiness and perseverance in surmounting the temptations with which we are assailed in adversity. But when the smallest temptation which we meet with dislodges this doctrine from our minds, it is manifest that we have not yet been truly and in good earnest convinced of its truth.

Besides, Satan has numberless artifices by which he dazzles our eyes and bewilders the mind; and then the confusion of things which prevails in the world produces so thick a mist, as to render it difficult for us to see through it, and to come to the conclusion that God governs and extends his care to things here below. The ungodly for the most part triumph; and although they deliberately stir up God to anger and provoke his vengeance, yet from his sparing them, it seems as if they had done nothing amiss in deriding him, and that they will never be called to account for it. On the other hand, the righteous, pinched with poverty, oppressed with many troubles, harassed by multiplied wrongs, and covered with shame and reproach, groan and sigh: and in proportion to the earnestness with which they exert themselves in endeavoring to do good to all men, is the liberty which the wicked have the effrontery to take in abusing their patience. When such is the state of matters, where shall we find the person who is not sometimes tempted and importuned by the unholy suggestion, that the affairs of the world roll on at random, and as we say, are governed by chance? This unhallowed imagination has doubtless obtained complete possession of the minds of the unbelieving, who are not illuminated by the Spirit of God, and thereby led to elevate their thoughts to the contemplation of eternal life. Accordingly, we see the reason why Solomon declares, that since “all things come alike to all, and there is one event to the righteous and to the wicked,” the hearts of the sons of men are full of impiety and contempt of God, (Ecc_9:2;) — the reason is, because they do not consider that things apparently so disordered are under the direction and government of God.

Some of the heathen philosophers discoursed upon, and maintained the doctrine of a Divine Providence; but it was evident from experience that they had notwithstanding no real and thorough persuasion of its truth; for when things fell out contrary to their expectation, they openly disavowed what they had previously professed. (151) Of this we have a memorable example in Brutus. We can hardly conceive of a man surpassing him in courage, and all who intimately knew him bore testimony to his distinguished wisdom. Being of the sect of the Stoic philosophers, he spake many excellent things in commendation of the power and providence of God; and yet when at length vanquished by Antony, he cried out, that whatever he had believed concerning virtue had no foundation in truth, but was the mere invention of men, and that all the pains taken to live honestly and virtuously was only so much lost labor, since fortune rules over all the affairs of mankind. Thus this personage, who was distinguished for heroic courage, and an example of wonderful resolution, in renouncing virtue, and under the name of it cursing God, shamefully fell away. Hence it is manifest, how the sentiments of the ungodly fluctuate with the fluctuation of events. And how can it be expected that the heathen, who are not regenerated by the Spirit of God, should be able to resist such powerful and violent assaults, when even God’s own people have need of the special assistance of his grace to prevent the same temptation from prevailing in their hearts, and when they are sometimes shaken by it and ready to fall; even as David here confesses, that his steps had well nigh slipped? But let us now proceed to the consideration of the words of the psalm.

Albert Barnes
Psa 73:1
Truly God is good to Israel – That is, to his people; to the righteous; to those who serve him. That is, God is the “real” friend of the righteous. He has not forgotten them. He does not abandon them. He is not indifferent to them. He is not the friend of wicked people; and the administration of his government is not in favor of wickedness. After all that seems to indicate this, after all that troubles the mind in regard to his dealings, it is a truth that God is the friend of righteousness, and not of wickedness, and that there is advantage in his service. To see the force of what is said here by the psalmist we must realize that the train of thought in the psalm had passed through his mind, and that his perplexities had been relieved in the manner specified in the psalm. The margin here is “yet;” “yet God is good to Israel.” This word “yet” would, in this place, be a happy translation. The psalmist then would be represented as having been engaged in meditating on the subject and in looking at all its perplexities, and then he says, “Yet God is good; notwithstanding all the difficulties in the case, it is nevertheless true that he is the friend of his people – the friend of righteousness.”

Even to such as are of a clean heart – Margin, as in Hebrew, “clean of heart.” See Psa_73:13. The reference is to those who are truly righteous, for all true righteousness has its seat in the heart. See Psa_51:10.

John Calvin
Psa 73:2
2.As for me, etc.Literally, it is, And I: which ought to be read with emphasis; for David means that those temptations, which cast an affront upon the honor of God, and overwhelm faith, not only assail the common class of men, or those who are endued only with some small measure of the fear of God, but that he himself, who ought to have profited above all others in the school of God, had experienced his own share of them. By thus setting himself forth as an example, he designed the more effectually to arouse and incite us to take great heed to ourselves. He did not, it is true, actually succumb under the temptation; but, in declaring that his feet were almost gone, and that his steps had well nigh slipped, he warns us that all are in danger of falling, unless they are upheld by the powerful hand of God.

Albert Barnes
Psa 73:2
But as for me – literally, “And I.” The meaning is, “And I, who so confidently now trust in God, and believe that he is good, was formerly in a far different state of mind; I was so hesitating, so troubled, and so doubtful, that I had almost entirely lost confidence in him as a wise and just moral governor.”

My feet were almost gone – I was just ready to fall. Of course, this refers to his state of mind. In regard to his faith or confidence in God, he was like a man standing in a slippery place, and scarcely able to remain upright.

My steps had well nigh slipped – The expression rendered “well nigh” means “like nothing,” or “as nothing;” that is, in reference to firmness it was as if there was “nothing” left. There was nothing which would keep him from slipping. The word rendered “slipped” means “poured out.” That is, in his going he was like water poured out, instead of being like something solid and firm. The idea is, that his faith seemed to be all gone. He was like a falling man; a man who had no strength to walk.

John Calvin
Psa 73:3
3.For I envied the foolish Here he declares the nature of the temptation with which he was assailed. It consisted in this, that when he saw the present prosperous state of the wicked, and from it judged them to be happy, he had envied their condition. We are certainly under a grievous and a dangerous temptation, when we not only, in our own minds, quarrel with God for not setting matters in due order, but also when we give ourselves loose reins, boldly to commit iniquity, because it seems to us that we may commit it, and yet escape with impunity. The sneering jest of Dionysius the younger, a tyrant of Sicily, when, after having robbed the temple of Syracuse, he had a prosperous voyage with the plunder, is well known. “See you not,” says he to those who were with him, “how the gods favor the sacrilegious?” In the same way, the prosperity of the wicked is taken as an encouragement to commit sin; for we are ready to imagine, that, since God grants them so much of the good things of this life, they are the objects of his approbation and favor. We see how their prosperous condition wounded David to the heart, leading him almost to think that there was nothing better for him than to join himself to their company, and to follow their course of life. By applying to the ungodly the appellation of foolish, he does not simply mean that the sins which they commit are committed through ignorance or inadvertence, but he sets their folly in opposition to the fear of God, which is the principal constituent of true wisdom. The ungodly are, no doubt, crafty; but, being destitute of the fundamental principle of all right judgment, which consists in this, that we must regulate and frame our lives according to the will of God, they are foolish; and this is the effect of their own blindness.

Adam Clarke
Psa 73:3
I was envious at the foolish – I saw persons who worshiped not the true God, and others who were abandoned to all vices, in possession of every temporal comfort, while the godly were in straits, difficulties, and affliction. I began then to doubt whether there was a wise providence; and my mind became irritated. It seems to have been a maxim among the ancient heathens, Θεου ονειδος τους κακους ευδαιμονειν, “The prosperity of the wicked is a reproach to the gods.” But they had no just conception of a state of future rewards and punishments. Besides, man could not bear prosperity. If men had uninterrupted comforts here, perhaps not one soul would ever seek a preparation for heaven. Human trials and afflictions, the general warfare of human life, are the highest proof of a providence as benevolent as it is wise. Were the state of human affairs different from what it is, hell would be more thickly peopled; and there would be fewer inhabitants in glory. There is reason to doubt whether there would be any religion upon earth had we nothing but temporal prosperity. Indeed, all the following verses are proofs of it.

Albert Barnes
Psa 73:3
For I was envious at the foolish – The word “foolish” here refers to sinners. It may either refer to them as foolish, or as proud, insolent, vain – for so the word is elsewhere used. See Psa_14:1.

When I saw the prosperity of the wicked – More literally, “the peace of the wicked.” The reference is not so much to their prosperity in general as to their peace; their conscious safety; their freedom from trouble; and especially their calmness, and their freedom from suffering, in death. From all this he was led for the moment to doubt whether there was any advantage in religion; whether God was just; and whether he befriended the righteous anymore than he did the wicked.

John Calvin
Psa 73:4
4For there are no bands to their death.The Psalmist describes the comforts and advantages of the ungodly, which are as it were so many temptations to shake the faith of the people of God. He begins with the good health which they enjoy, telling us, that they are robust and vigorous, and have not to draw their breath with difficulty through continual sicknesses, as will often be the case with regard to true believers. Some explain bands to death, as meaning delays, viewing the words as implying that the wicked die suddenly, and in a moment, not having to struggle with the pangs of dissolution. In the book of Job it is reckoned among the earthly felicities of the ungodly, That, after having enjoyed to the full their luxurious pleasures, they “in a moment go down to the grave,” (Job_21:13.) And it is related of Julius Caesar, that, the day before he was put to death, he remarked, that to die suddenly and unexpectedly, seemed to him to be a happy death. Thus, then, according to the opinion of these expositors, David complains that the wicked go to death by a smooth and easy path, without much trouble and anxiety. But I am rather inclined to agree with those who read these two clauses jointly in this way: Their strength is vigorous, and, in respect to them, there are no bands to death; because they are not dragged to death like prisoners. As diseases lay prostrate our strength, they are so many messengers of death, warning us of the frailty and short duration of our life. They are therefore with propriety compared to bands, with which God binds us to his yoke, lest our strength and rigour should incite us to licentiousness and rebellion.

Albert Barnes
Psa 73:4
For there are no bands in their death – The word rendered “bands” here means properly “cords tightly drawn,” Isa_58:6; then, pains, pangs, torments – “as if” one were twisted or tortured with pain, as a cord is closely twisted. The word occurs only in Isa_58:6, and in this place. The fact which is here referred to by the psalmist, and which gave him so much uneasiness, was that which so often occurs, that when the wicked die, they do not seem to suffer in proportion to their wickedness; or there seem to be no special marks of the divine displeasure as they are about to leave the world. They have lived in prosperity, and they die in peace. There is no uncommon agony in death; there is no special alarm about the future world. They have enjoyed this world, and a sinful life seems now to be followed by a peaceful death. They do not even suffer as much in death as good people often do; – what then is the advantage of piety? And how can we believe that God is just; or that he is the friend of the righteous; or even that there is a God? Of the fact here adverted to by the psalmist, that the wicked do thus live and die, there can be no doubt, and that fact has given perplexity to good people in all ages of the world.

But their strength is firm – Margin, as in Hebrew, “fat.” That is, They are not emaciated and weakened by disease, but they go down to death apparently from good health, and without wasting disease. See the notes at Job_21:23-26.

John Calvin
Psa 73:5
5.They are not in the trouble that is common to man.Here it is declared that the wicked enjoy a delightful repose, and are as it were by special privilege exempted from the miseries to which mankind in general are subject. They also are no doubt involved in afflictions as well as the good, and God often executes his judgments upon them; but, for the express purpose of trying our faith, he always places some of them as it were upon an elevated stage, who appear to be privileged to live in a state of exemption from calamities, as is here described. Now, when we consider that the life of men is full of labor and miseries, and that this is the law and condition of living appointed for all, it is a sore temptation to behold the despisers of God indulging themselves in their luxurious pleasures and enjoying great ease, as if they were elevated above the rest of the world into a region of pleasure, where they had a nest for themselves apart.

Albert Barnes
Psa 73:5
They are not in trouble as other men – Margin, “In the trouble of other men.” Literally, “In the labor of man they are not;” that is, they are exempt from the common burdens and troubles of humanity, or those which pertain to man as man. There seems to be some special interposition in their favor to save them from the common calamities which come upon the race.

Neither are they plagued like other men – Margin, “with.” Literally, “And with mankind they are not afflicted,” or smitten. The calamities which come so thickly and heavily on the race do not seem to come upon them. They are favored, prospered, happy, while others are afflicted.

John Calvin
Psa 73:12
12.Behold! these are the ungodly.The Psalmist here shows, as it were by a vivid pictorial representation, the character of that envy which had well nigh overthrown him. Behold! says he, these are wicked men! and yet they happily enjoy their ease and pleasures undisturbed, and are exalted to power and influence; and that not merely for a few days, but their prosperity is of long duration, and has, as it were, an endless course. And is there anything which seems to our judgment less reasonable than that persons whose wickedness is accounted infamous and detestable, even in the eyes of men, should be treated with such liberality and indulgence by God? Some here take the Hebrew word עולם, olam, for the world, but improperly. It rather denotes in this passage an age; and what David complains of is, that the prosperity of the wicked is stable and of long duration, and that to see it last so long wears out the patience of the righteous. Upon seeing the wicked so tenderly cherished by God, he descends to the consideration of his own case; and as his conscience bore him testimony that he had walked sincerely and uprightly, he reasons with himself as to what advantage he had derived from studiously devoting himself to the practice of righteousness, since he was afflicted and harassed in a very unusual degree. He tells us that he was scourged daily, and that as often as the sun rose, some affliction or other was prepared for him, so that there was no end to his calamities. In short the amount of his reasoning is this, “Truly I have labored in vain to obtain and preserve a pure heart and clean hands, seeing continued afflictions await me, and, so to speak, are on the watch to meet me at break of day. Such a condition surely shows that there is no reward for innocence before God, else he would certainly deal somewhat more compassionately towards those who serve him.” As the true holiness for which the godly are distinguished consists of two parts, first, of purity of heart, and, secondly, of righteousness in the outward conduct, David attributes both to himself. Let us learn, from his example, to join them together: let us, in the first place, begin with purity of heart, and then let us give evidence of this before men by uprightness and integrity in our conduct.

Albert Barnes
Psa 73:13
Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain – That is, There is no advantage in all my efforts to become pure and holy. It does not assist me in obtaining the favor of God; and it would be just as well to live a sinful life – to indulge in the pleasures of sense – to make the world my portion. Nothing is to be gained by all my painful efforts at self-discipline; by all my endeavors to become righteous. It would have been as well for me – or better – if I had lived a life of sin like other people. The righteous obtain from God fewer blessings than the wicked; they have less happiness and less prosperity in this world; they are subjected to more trouble and sorrow; and to all else there must be added the struggles, the conflict, the warfare, the painful effort “to be” pure, and to lead a holy life, all of which is now seen to be of no advantage whatever. Such thoughts as these were not confined to the psalmist. They are thoughts which will start up in the mind, and which it is not easy to calm down.

And washed my hands in innocency – That is, It has been of no use that I have washed my hands in innocency. The word “innocency” here means “purity.” He had washed his hands in that which was pure; as, pure water. To wash the hands is emblematic of innocence or purity. See the notes at Psa_26:6.

Albert Barnes
Psa 73:14
For all the day long – Continually. All my life.

Have I been plagued – Smitten; afflicted; troubled. My life has been a life of trial. I have not known prosperity.

And chastened every morning – Margin, as in Hebrew, “My chastisement was.” That is, my sufferings – my trials – have been repeated with every returning morning. Each new day has brought some new form of affliction, designed to rebuke and punish me. I never have found exemption from trial even for a single day. So different is my lot from the lot of wicked people, who know nothing of this, and who are always prospered and happy. See the notes at Job_7:18.

John Calvin
Psa 73:15
15.If I should say, I will speak thus.David, perceiving the sinfulness of the thoughts with which he was tempted, puts a bridle upon himself, and reproves his inconstancy in allowing his mind to entertain doubts on such a subject. We can be at no loss in discovering his meaning; but there is some difficulty or obscurity in the words. The last Hebrew verb in the verse, בגד, bagad, signifies to transgress, and also to deceive. Some, therefore, translate, I have deceived the generation of thy children, as if David had said, Were I to speak thus, I should defraud thy children of their hope. Others read, I have transgressed against the generation of thy children; that is, Were I to speak thus, I would be guilty of inflicting an injury upon them. But as the words of the prophet stand in this order, Behold! the generation of thy children: I have transgressed; and as a very good meaning may be elicited from them, I would expound them simply in this way: Were I to approve of such wicked thoughts and doubts, I would transgress; for, behold! the righteous are still remaining on the earth, and thou reservest in every age some people for thyself. Thus it will be unnecessary to make any supplement to complete the sense, and the verb בגדתי, bagadti, I have transgressed,will read by itself, and not construed with any other part of the verse. We have elsewhere had occasion to observe, that the Hebrew noun דור, dor, which we have rendered generation, is properly to be referred to time. The idea which David intends to convey is now perfectly obvious. Whilst worldly men give loose reins to their unhallowed speculations, until at length they become hardened, and, divesting themselves of all fear of God, cast away along with it the hope of salvation, he restrains himself that he may not rush into the like destruction. To speak or to declare here signifies to utter what had been meditated upon. His meaning, therefore, is, that had he pronounced judgment on this subject as of a thing certain, he would have been chargeable with a very heinous transgression. He found himself before involved in doubt, but now he acknowledges that he had grievously offended; and the reason of this he places between the words in which he expresses these two states of mind: which is, because God always sees to it, that there are some of his own people remaining in the world. He seems to repeat the demonstrative particle, Behold! for the sake of contrast. He had a little before said, Behold! these are the ungodly; and here he says, Behold! the generation of thy children.It is assuredly nothing less than a divine miracle that the Church, which is so furiously assaulted by Satan and innumerable hosts of enemies, continues safe.

Albert Barnes
Psa 73:15
If I say, I will speak thus – If I should resolve to give expression to my feelings. If I should utter all that is passing in my mind and my heart. It is implied here that he had “not” given utterance to these thoughts, but had confined them to his own bosom. He knew how they might be regarded by others; how others might be led to feel as if no confidence was to be placed in God; how this might suggest thoughts to them which would not otherwise occur to them, and which would only tend to fill their minds with distress; how such thoughts might unsettle the foundations of their faith, their peace, their hope, and their joy.

I should offend against the generation of thy children – The word rendered “I should offend,” means to treat perfidiously, or in a faithless or treacherous manner. Then it means, “to deal falsely with.” And this is the meaning here; “I should not be “true” to them; I should not be “faithful” to their real interests; I should do that which would be equivalent to dealing with them in a false and perfidious manner.” The idea is, that he “ought” not to say or do anything which would tend to lessen their confidence in God, or which would suggest to their minds grounds of distrust in God, or which would disturb their peace and hope. This was alike an act of justice and benevolence on his part. Whatever might be his own troubles and doubts, he had no “right” to fill their minds with doubts and distrust of God; and he felt that, as it was desirable that the minds of others should not be harassed as his own had been, it could not be kind to suggest such thoughts.

This, however, should not forbid anyone from mentioning such difficulties to another for the purpose of having them removed. If they occur to the mind, as they may to the minds of any, however sincere and pious they may be, nothing can make it improper that they should be laid before one of greater age, or longer experience, or wider opportunities of knowledge, in order that the difficulties may be solved. Nothing can make it improper for a child to have recourse thus to a parent – or a member of a church, to a pastor. If, however, these doubts can be calmed down otherwise, it is better that they should be mentioned to no one. Some little additional strength may be given them even by dwelling on them long enough to mention them to another, and by putting them in such a form that they would be understood by another; and the true way is to go to God with them by prayer, and to spread them out before the mercy-seat. Prayer, and a careful study of the word of God may calm them down without their being suggested to any human being. At any rate, they should not be suggested at all to the young, or to those with fewer advantages of education, or of less experience than we have had, on whom the only effect would be to fill their minds with doubts which they could not solve – and with thoughts tending only to perplexity and unbelief – such as would never have occurred to themselves.

John Calvin
Psa 73:16
16.Although I applied my mind to know this.The first verb חשב, chashab, which he employs, properly signifies to reckon or count, and sometimes to consider or weigh. But the words which follow in the sentence require the sense which I have given, That he applied his mind to know the part of Divine Providence referred to. He has already condemned himself for having transgressed; but still he acknowledges, that until he entered into the sanctuaries of God, he was not altogether disentangled from the doubts with which his mind had been perplexed. In short, he intimates that he had reflected on this subject on all sides, and yet, by all his reasoning upon it, could not comprehend how God, amidst so great disorders and confusions, continued to govern the world. Moreover, in speaking thus of himself, he teaches us, that when men are merely under the guidance of their own understandings, the inevitable consequence is, that they sink under their trouble, not being able by their own deliberations and reasonings to arrive at any certain or fixed conclusions; for there is no doubt that he puts the sanctuaries of God in opposition to carnal reason. Hence it follows, that all the knowledge and wisdom which men have of their own is vain and unsubstantial; since all true wisdom among men — all that deserves to be so called — consists in this one point, That they are docile, and implicitly submit to the teaching of the Word of God. The Psalmist does not speak of unbelievers who are wilfully blind, who involve themselves in errors, and are also very glad to find some color or pretext for taking offense, that they may withdraw to a distance from God. It is of himself that he speaks; and although he applied his mind to the investigation of divine subjects, not only earnestly, but with all humility; and although, at the same time, he contemplated, according to his small measure, the high judgments of God, not only with attention, but also with reverence, yet he confesses that he failed of success; for the word trouble here implies unprofitable or lost labor. Whoever, therefore, in applying himself to the examination of God’s judgments, expects to become acquainted with them by his natural understanding, will be disappointed, and will find that he is engaged in a task at once painful and profitless; and, therefore, it is indispensably necessary to rise higher, and to seek illumination from heaven.

Adam Clarke
Psa 73:16
When I thought to know this – When I reviewed the history of our fathers, I saw that, though thou hadst from time to time hidden thy face because of their sins, yet thou hadst never utterly abandoned them to their adversaries; and it was not reasonable to conclude that thou wouldst do now what thou hadst never done before; and yet the continuance of our captivity, the oppressive hardships which we suffer, and the small prospect there is of release, puzzle me again. These things have been very painful to me.

Albert Barnes
Psa 73:16
When I thought to know this – When I endeavored to comprehend this, or to explain it to myself. The idea is that he “thought” on the subject, or “meditated” on it with a view to be able to understand it. He did not express his opinions and feelings to others, but he dwelt on them in his own mind; not to find additional difficulties, not to confirm himself in opposition to God, and not to find new occasions for distrusting the divine government, but to understand exactly how this was. It was his object to seek and understand “the truth.”

It was too painful for me – Margin, “It was labor in mine eyes.” The Hebrew word rendered “painful,” means properly labor, toil, a burden; and the idea is, that the question was a burden – was too weighty for his weak powers.

John Calvin
Psa 73:17
By the sanctuaries of God some, even among the Hebrews, understand the celestial mansions in which the spirits of the just and angels dwell; as if David had said, This was a painful thing in my sight, until I came to acknowledge in good earnest that men are not created to flourish for a short time in this world, and to luxuriate in pleasures while in it, but that their condition here is that of pilgrims, whose aspirations, during their earthly pilgrimage, should be towards heaven. I readily admit that no man can form a right judgment of the providence of God; but he who elevates his mind above the earth; but it is more simple and natural to understand the word sanctuary as denoting celestial doctrine. As the book of the law was laid up in the sanctuary, from which the oracles of heaven were to be obtained, that is to say, the declaration of the will of God, and as this was the true way of acquiring profitable instruction, David very properly puts entering into the sanctuaries, for coming to the school of God, as if his meaning were this, Until God become my schoolmaster, and until I learn by his word what otherwise my mind, when I come to consider the government of the world, cannot comprehend, I stop short all at once, and understand nothing about the subject. When, therefore, we are here told that men are unfit for contemplating the arrangements of Divine Providence until they obtain wisdom elsewhere than from themselves, how can we attain to wisdom but by submissively receiving what God teaches us both by his Word and by his Holy Spirit? David by the word sanctuary alludes to the external manner of teaching, which God had appointed among his ancient people; but along with the Word he comprehends the secret illumination of the Holy Spirit.

By the end of the wicked is not meant their exit from the world, or their departure from the present life, which is seen of all men — for what need was there to enter into the sanctuaries of God to understand that? — but the word end is to be regarded as referring to the judgments of God, by which he makes it manifest that, even when he is commonly thought to be asleep, he only delays to a convenient time the execution of the punishment which the wicked deserve. This must be explained at greater length. If we would learn from God what is the condition of the ungodly, he teaches us, that after having flourished for some short time, they suddenly decay; and that although they may happen to enjoy a continued course of prosperity until death, yet all that is nothing, since their life itself is nothing. As, then, God declares that all the wicked shall miserably perish, if we behold him executing manifest vengeance upon them in this life, let us remember that it is the judgment of God. If, on the contrary, we do not perceive any punishment inflicted on them in this world, let us beware of thinking that they have escaped, or that they are the objects of the Divine favor and approbation; but let us rather suspend our judgment, since the end or the last day has not yet arrived. In short, if we would profit aright, when we address ourselves to the consideration of the works of God, we must first beseech him to open our eyes, (for these are sheer fools who would of themselves be clear-sighted, and of a penetrating judgment;) and, secondly, we must also give all due respect to his word, by assigning to it that authority to which it is entitled.

Adam Clarke
Psa 73:17
Until I went into the sanctuary – Until, in the use of thy ordinances, I entered into a deep consideration of thy secret counsels, and considered the future state of the righteous and the wicked; that the unequal distribution of temporal good and evil argued a future judgment; that the present is a state of trial; and that God exercises his followers according to his godly wisdom and tender mercy. Then light sprang up in my mind, and I was assured that all these exercises were for our benefit, and that the prosperity of the wicked here was a prelude to their destruction. And this I saw to be their end.

That this Psalm was written during the captivity, there is little room to doubt. How then can the psalmist speak of the sanctuary? There was none at Babylon; and at Jerusalem it had been long since destroyed? There is no way to solve this difficulty but by considering that מקדשי mikdeshey may be taken in the sense of holy places – places set apart for prayer and meditation. And that the captives had such places in them captivity, there can be no doubt; and the place that is set apart to meet God in, for prayer, supplication, confession of sin, and meditation, is holy unto the Lord; and is, therefore, his sanctuary, whether a house or the open field. Calmet thinks by holy meditations a view of the Divine secrets, to which he refers, Psa_73:24, is here meant.

Albert Barnes
Psa 73:17
Until I went into the sanctuary of God – The word “sanctuary” we now apply to a place of public worship; and, thus understood, the passage here would mean that he learned the truth on the subject only by the statements and disclosures made there in regard to the divine plans and dealings, and the results of human conduct. This interpretation makes good sense, and is in itself true, but it is not the idea in the original. The word “sanctuary” in the Old Testament, in the singular number, is applied to the tabernacle, or the temple, or, more especially to the most holy place in the tabernacle or the temple; the place of the unique dwelling of God. Thus understood the idea would be that he learned the solution of the mystery “there.” But these were not places of instruction, and it cannot be supposed that the reference is to either of them. The word in the original is in the plural number – sanctuaries – things that God regarded as holy; and the meaning seems to be, that the only solution of the case was to be learned from those things which pertained to God’s most holy and secret places; or in those places which were nearest to him, and where he most clearly manifested himself. The difficulty was not to be solved by any mere human reasoning – by the powers of man, away from God; it was to be learned in the presence of God himself, and in the disclosures which He made about his divine plans and purposes. The psalmist had tried his own powers of reason, and the subject was above his reach. The only solution of the difficulty was to be obtained by a near approach to God himself. There the mystery could be solved, and there it was solved. The “end” of all this, as disclosed by God, would determine why, it was permitted, and would remove the perplexity of the mind.

Then understood I their end – literally, their after things; that is, the things which will occur to them hereafter. That solves all the difficulty. There will be a judgment hereafter, and dark as things may now appear, it will be seen in the end, or in the result, that exact and equal justice will be done to all.

John Calvin
Psa 73:18
18.Surely thou hast set them in slippery places.David, having now gone through his conflicts, begins, if we may use the expression, to be a new man; and he speaks with a quiet and composed mind, being, as it were, elevated on a watchtower, from which he obtained a clear and distinct view of things which before were hidden from him. It was the prophet Habakkuk’s resolution to take such a position, and, by his example, he prescribes this to us as a remedy in the midst of troubles — “I will stand upon my watch,” says he, “and set me upon the tower,” (Hab_2:1.) David, therefore, shows how much advantage is to be derived from approaching God. I now see, says he, how thou proceedest in thy providence; for, although the ungodly continue to stand for a brief season, yet they are, as it were, perched on slippery places, that they may fall ere long into destruction. Both the verbs of this verse are in the past tense; but the first, to set them in slippery places, is to be understood of the present time, as if it had been said, — God for a short period thus lifts them up on high, that when they fall their fall may be the heavier. This, it is true, seems to be the lot of the righteous as well as of the wicked; for everything in this world is slippery, uncertain, and changeable. But as true believers depend upon heaven, or rather, as the power of God is the foundation on which they rest, it is not said of them that they are set in slippery places, notwithstanding the frailty and uncertainty which characterises their condition in this world. What although they stumble or even fall, the Lord has his hand under them to sustain and strengthen them when they stumble, and to raise them up when they are fallen. The uncertainty of the condition of the ungodly, or, as it is here expressed, their slippery condition, proceeds from this, that they take pleasure in contemplating their own power and greatness, and admire themselves on that account, just like a person who would walk at leisure upon ice; and thus by their infatuated presumption, they prepare themselves for falling down headlong. We are not to picture to our imaginations a wheel of fortune, which, as it revolves, embroils all things in confusion; but we must admit the truth to which the prophet here adverts, and which he tells us is made known to all the godly in the sanctuary, that there is a secret providence of God which manages all the affairs of the world. On this subject my readers, if they choose, may peruse the beautiful verses of Claudian in his first book against Ruffinus.

Albert Barnes
Psa 73:18
Surely thou didst set them in slippery places – Not in a solid and permanent position; not where their foothold would be secure, but as on smooth and slippery rocks, where they would be liable any moment to fall into the foaming billows. However prosperous their condition may seem to be now, yet it is a condition of uncertainty and danger, from which they must soon fall into ruin. In their prosperity there is nothing of permanence or Stability; and this fact will explain the difficulty.

Thou castedst them down into destruction – They are placed, not in a permanent condition, but in a condition from which they will be cast down to destruction. Ruin is before them; and the end will demonstrate the justice of God. Nothing can be determined from their present condition as to the question which caused so much perplexity, but in order to a proper solution we must wait to see the end. As an illustration of this, see the interesting account of the interview between Solon of Athens, and Croesus, the rich king of Lydia, as given in Herodotus, book i., 30-33.

John Calvin
Psa 73:19
19.How have they been destroyed, as it were in a moment! The language of wonder in which the Psalmist breaks forth serves much to confirm the sentiment of the preceding verse. As the consideration of the prosperity of the ungodly induces a torpor upon our minds, yea, even renders them stupid; so their destruction, being sudden and unlooked for, tends the more effectually to awaken us, each being thus constrained to inquire how such an event came to pass, which all men thought could never happen. The prophet, therefore, speaks of it in the way of interrogation, as of a thing incredible. Yet he, at the same time, thus teaches us that God is daily working in such a manner as that, if we would but open our eyes, there would be presented to us just matter for exciting our astonishment. Nay, rather, if by faith we would look from a distance at the judgments of God daily approaching nearer and nearer, nothing would happen which we would regard as strange or difficult to be believed; for the surprise which we feel proceeds from the slowness and carelessness with which we proceed in acquiring the knowledge of Divine truth.

When it is said, They are consumed with terrors, it may be understood in two ways. It either means that God thunders upon them in such an unusual manner, that the very strangeness of it strikes them with dismay; or that God, although he may not lay his hand upon his enemies, nevertheless throws them into consternation, and brings them to nothing, solely by the terror of his breath, at the very time when they are recklessly despising all dangers, as if they were perfectly safe, and had made a covenant with death. Thus we have before seen David introducing them as encouraging themselves in their forwardness by this boasting language, “Who is lord over us?” (Psa_12:4.) I am rather inclined to adopt the first sense; and the reason which leads me to do so is, that when God perceives that we are so slow in considering his judgments, he inflicts upon the ungodly judgments of a very severe kind, and pursues them with unusual tokens of his wrath, as if he would make the earth to tremble, in order thereby to correct our dullness of apprehension.

Albert Barnes
Psa 73:19
How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! – How suddenly and unexpectedly does destruction come upon them! Nothing can be argued from their apparent prosperity, for there is no ground of security in “that,” no basis for an argument that it will continue. The end must be seen in order to form a correct estimate on the subject, and that end may soon come. Compare the notes at Job_15:20-21.

They are utterly consumed with terrors – literally, “they perish; they are destroyed by terrors;” that is, by terrible things, or by things suited to produce terror in the mind. The idea is not that they are destroyed by their own fears, but that things come upon them which are suited to overwhelm the soul, and that by those things they are utterly destroyed. It is by this result that we are to determine in regard to the equity of the divine administration, and not by their prosperity and their apparent safety.

John Calvin
Psa 73:20
20.As it were a dream after a man is awakened.This similitude is often to be met with in the Sacred Writings. Thus, Isaiah, (Isa_29:7,) speaking of the enemies of the Church, says, “They shall be as a dream of a night vision.” To quote other texts of a similar kind would be tedious and unnecessary labor. In the passage before us the metaphor is very appropriate. How is it to be accounted for, that the prosperity of the wicked is regarded with so much wonder, but because our minds have been lulled into a deep sleep? and, in short, the pictures which we draw in our imaginations of the happiness of the wicked, and of the desirableness of their condition, are just like the imaginary kingdoms which we construct in our dreams when we are asleep. Those who, being illuminated by the Word of God, are awake, may indeed be in some degree impressed with the splendor with which the wicked are invested; but they are not so dazzled by it as thereby to have their wonder very much excited; for they are prevented from feeling in this manner by a light of an opposite kind far surpassing it in brilliancy and attraction. The prophet, therefore, commands us to awake, that we may perceive that all which we gaze at in this world is nothing else than pure vanity; even as he himself, now returning to his right mind, acknowledges that he had before been only dreaming and raving. The reason is added, because God will make their image to be despised, or render it contemptible. By the word image some understand the soul of man, because it was formed after the image of God. But in my opinion, this exposition is unsuitable; for the prophet simply derides the outward pomp or show which dazzles the eyes of men, while yet it vanishes away in an instant. We have met with a similar form of expression in Psa_39:6, “Surely every man passeth away in an image,” the import of which is, Surely every man flows away like water that has no solidity, or rather like the image reflected in the mirror which has no substance. The word image, then, in this passage means what we commonly term appearance, or outward show; and thus the prophet indirectly rebukes the error into which we fall, when we regard as real and substantial those things which are merely phantoms created out of nothing by our imaginations. The word בעיר, bair, properly signifies in the city. But as this would be a rigid form of expression, it has been judiciously thought by many that the word is curtailed of a letter, and that it is the same as בהעיר, bahair; an opinion which is also supported from the point kamets being placed under ב, beth. According to this view it is to be translated in awakening, that is, after these dreams which deceive us shall have passed away. And that takes place not only when God restores to some measure of order matters which before were involved in confusion, but also when dispelling the darkness he gladdens our minds with a friendly light. We never, it is true, see things so well adjusted in the world as we would desire; for God, with the view of keeping us always in the exercise of hope, delays the perfection of our state to the final day of judgment. But whenever he stretches forth his hand against the wicked, he causes us to see as it were some rays of the break of day, that the darkness, thickening too much, may not lull us asleep, and affect us with dullness of understanding. Some apply this expression, in awaking, to the last judgment, as if David intended to say, In this world the wicked abound in riches and power, and this confusion, which is as it were a dark night, will continue until God shall raise the dead. I certainly admit that this is a profitable doctrine; but it is not taught us in this place, the scope of the passage not at all agreeing with such an interpretation. If any prefer reading in the city —in the city thou wilt make their image to be despised, — the meaning will be, that when God is pleased to bring into contempt the transitory beauty and vain show of the wicked, it will not be a secret or hidden vengeance, but will be quite manifest and known to all, as if it were done in the public market place of a city. But the word awaking suits better, as it is put in opposition to dreaming.

Albert Barnes
Psa 73:20
As a dream when one awaketh – Their prosperity is like the visions of a dream; the reality is seen when one awakes. A man in a dream may imagine that he is a king; that he dwells in a palace; that he is surrounded by flatterers and courtiers; that he walks in pleasant groves, listens to the sounds of sweet music, sits down at a table loaded with the luxuries of all climes, and lies upon a bed of down. He may awake only to find that he is encompassed with poverty, or that he is on a bed of languishing, or that he is the miserable tenant of a hovel or a dungeon. The reality is when he awakes. So it is in regard to our present condition on earth. The reality is seen when the dream – the gorgeous dream – of life is over.

So, O Lord, when thou awakest – The Hebrew expression here – בעיר ba‛iyr – occurs in more than fifty other places in the Scriptures, and is in all these places translated “in the city.” This interpretation, however, would be quite unmeaning here, and the probability is that the expression is a form of the verb עור ‛ur, “to awake, to arouse;” and the idea is not, as in our version, that of “God’s” awaking as if he had been asleep, but it refers to the dreamer when he shall awake. It is, literally, in the awaking; that is, when the dream is over.

Thou shalt despise their image – The image that floated before their imaginations in the dream of life. Thou wilt pay no attention to it; there is no reality in it; it will at once vanish. In the future world, God will pay no regard to the dreams of human life, to the outward show, to the appearance; but the affairs of eternity will be regulated by what is real – by that which constitutes the character of the man. By that, and not by the vain dreams of the world, will the destiny of people be determined. We are to look at “that” in determining the question about the government of God, and not at what “appears” in the brief dream of life.

John Calvin
Psa 73:25
25.Whom have I in heaven but thee?The Psalmist shows more distinctly how much he had profited in the sanctuary of God; for being satisfied with him alone, he rejects every other object, except God, which presented itself to him. The form of expression which he employs, when he joins together an interrogation and an affirmation, is quite common in the Hebrew tongue, although harsh in other languages. As to the meaning, there is no ambiguity. David declares that he desires nothing, either in heaven or in earth, except God alone, and that without God, all other objects which usually draw the hearts of men towards them were unattractive to him. And, undoubtedly, God then obtains from us the glory to which he is entitled, when, instead of being carried first to one object, and then to another, we hold exclusively by him, being satisfied with him alone. If we give the smallest portion of our affections to the creatures, we in so far defraud God of the honor which belongs to him. And yet nothing has been more common in all ages than this sacrilege, and it prevails too much at the present day. How small is the number of those who keep their affections fixed on God alone! We see how superstition joins to him many others as rivals for our affections. While the Papists admit in word that all things depend upon God, they are, nevertheless, constantly seeking to obtain help from this and the other quarter independent of him. Others, puffed up with pride, have the effrontery to associate either themselves or other men with God. On this account we ought the more carefully to attend to this doctrine, That it is unlawful for us to desire any other object besides God. By the words heaven and earth the Psalmist denotes every conceivable object; but, at the same time, he seems purposely to point to these two in particular. In saying that he sought none in heaven but God only, he rejects and renounces all the false gods with which, through the common error and folly of mankind, heaven has been filled. When he affirms that he desires none on the earth besides God, he has, I suppose, a reference to the deceits and illusions with which almost the whole world is intoxicated; for those who are not beguiled by the former artifice of Satan, so as to be led to fabricate for themselves false gods, either deceive themselves by arrogance when confiding in their own skill, or strength, or prudence, they usurp the prerogatives which belong to God alone; or else trepan themselves with deceitful allurements when they rely upon the favor of men, or confide in their own riches and other helps which they possess. If, then, we would seek God aright, we must beware of going astray into various by-paths, and divested of all superstition and pride, must betake ourselves directly and exclusively to Him. This is the only way of seeking him. The expression, I have desired none other with thee,amounts to this: I know that thou by thyself, apart from every other object, art sufficient, yea, more than sufficient for me, and therefore I do not suffer myself to be carried away after a variety of desires, but rest in and am fully contented with thee. In short, that we may be satisfied with God alone, it is of importance for us to know the plenitude of the blessings which he offers for our acceptance.

Albert Barnes
Psa 73:25
whom have I in heaven but thee? – literally, “Who is to me in the heavens?” That is, There is no one there that in my love for him can be compared with thee; no one who can do for me what thou canst do; no one who can meet and satisfy the needs of my soul as thou canst; no one who can be to me what God “is” – what a God “must” be. After all my complaining and my doubts there is no one, not even in the heavens, who cant supply the place of “God,” or be to me what God is; and the warm affections of my soul, therefore, are “really” toward him. I feel my need of him; and I must and do find my supreme happiness in him. What would even heaven be to me without God? who there, even of the angels of light, could supply the place of God?

And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee – That is, Thou art all-sufficient; thou dost meet and satisfy the needs of my nature. All my happiness is in thee; no one on earth could be substituted in thy place, or be to me what thou art as God.

John Calvin
Psa 73:26
26.My flesh and my heart have failed. Some understand the first part of the verse as meaning that David’s heart and flesh failed him through the ardent desire with which he was actuated; and they think that by it he intends to testify the earnestness with which he applied his mind to God. We meet with a similar form of expression elsewhere; but the clause immediately succeeding, God is the strength of my heart,seems to require that it should be explained differently. I am rather disposed to think that there is here a contrast between the failing which David felt in himself and the strength with which he was divinely supplied; as if he had said, Separated from God I am nothing, and all that I attempt to do ends in nothing; but when I come to him, I find an abundant supply of strength. It is highly necessary for us to consider what we are without God; for no man will cast himself wholly upon God, but he who feels himself in a fainting condition, and who despairs of the sufficiency of his own powers. We will seek nothing from God but what we are conscious of wanting in ourselves. Indeed, all men confess this, and the greater part think that all which is necessary is that God should aid our infirmities, or afford us succor when we have not the means of adequately relieving ourselves. But the confession of David is far more ample than this when he lays, so to speak, his own nothingness before God. He, therefore, very properly adds, that God is his portion. The portion of an individual is a figurative expression, employed in Scripture to denote the condition or lot with which every man is contented. Accordingly, the reason why God is represented as a portion is, because he alone is abundantly sufficient for us, and because in him the perfection of our happiness consists. Whence it follows, that we are chargeable with ingratitude, if we turn away our minds from him and fix them on any other object, as has been stated in Psa_16:4, where David explains more clearly the import of the metaphor. Some foolishly assert that God is called our portion, because our soul is taken from him. I know not how such a silly conceit has found its way into their brains; for it is as far from David’s meaning as heaven is from the earth, and it involves in it the wild notion of the Manicheans, with which Servetus was bewitched. But it generally happens that men who are not exercised in the Scriptures, nor imbued with sound theology, although well acquainted with the Hebrew language, yet err and fall into mistakes even in first principles. Under the word heart the Psalmist comprehends the whole soul. He does not, however, mean, when he speaks of the heart failing, that the essence or substance of the soul fails, but that all the powers which God in his goodness has bestowed upon it, and the use of which it retains only so long as he pleases, fall into decay.

Adam Clarke
Psa 73:26
My flesh – faileth – I shall soon die: and my heart – even my natural courage, will fail; and no support but what is supernatural will then be available. Therefore, he adds:

God is the strength of my heart – Literally, the rock of my heart.

And my portion – Allusion is here made to the division of the promised land. I ask no inheritance below; I look for one above. I do not look for this in the possession of any place; it is God alone that can content the desires and wishes of an immortal spirit. And even this would not satisfy, had I not the prospect of its being for ever, לעולם leolum, “to eternity!’

Albert Barnes
Psa 73:26
My flesh and my heart faileth – Flesh and heart here seem to refer to the whole man, body and soul; and the idea is, that his powers of body and mind failed; were spent; were exhausted. This seems to have been said in an “ideal” sense, or by anticipation. He does not mean to say that his strength then had actually failed, but he seems to have placed himself by imagination in the situation where his strength “would” be all gone – in sickness, in weakness, in sorrow, on the bed of death. He asks himself now what would be his strength then – what would be the object of chief interest and love – on what he would rely; and he answers without hesitation, and with entire confidence, that he could rely on God, and that He would be his portion forever. Even then, when heart and flesh should fail, when all the powers of mind and body should be exhausted, the love of God would survive, and he would find strength and joy in Him.

But God is the strength of my heart – Margin, as in Hebrew, “rock;” the rock on which my heart relies; that is, my refuge, my defense. See the notes at Psa_18:2. Compare Psa_61:2.

And my portion for ever – The source of my happiness. Not wealth, then; not honor; not earthly friends; not fame – will be my reliance and the ground of my hope; but that which I shall regard as most valuable – my supreme joy and rejoicing – will be the fact that God is my friend and portion. With all the doubts which I have had in regard to the rectitude of his government, I am sure that when I come to die, I shall cling to him as my hope, my joy, my all. My last refuge – my sufficient refuge – is God. When people come to die, they have “no other refuge” but God. Nothing that they can accumulate of this world’s goods will meet their needs then, for God only can give strength and comfort on the bed of death. Of each and all, however vigorous they may now be, it will be true that “flesh and heart” will “fail;” of each and all it is true that when this shall occur, none but God can be the portion and the strength of the soul.

John Calvin
Psa 73:27
27.For, lo! they who depart from thee shall perish.Here he proves, by an argument taken from things contrary, that nothing was better for him than simply to repose himself upon God alone; for no sooner does any one depart from God than he inevitably falls into the most dreadful destruction. All depart from him who divide and scatter their hope among a variety of objects. The phrase to go a whoring is of similar import; for it is the worst kind of adultery to divide our heart that it may not continue fixed exclusively upon God. This will be more easily understood by defining the spiritual chastity of our minds, which consists in faith, in calling upon God, in integrity of heart, and in obedience to the Word. Whoever then submits not himself to the Word of God, that feeling him to be the sole author of all good things, he may depend upon him, surrender himself to be governed by him, betake himself to him at all times, and devote to him all his affections, such a person is like an adulterous woman who leaves her own husband, and prostitutes herself to strangers. David’s language then is equivalent to his pronouncing all apostates who revolt from God to be adulterers.

Adam Clarke
Psa 73:27
They that are far from thee shall perish – The term perish is generally used to signify a coming to nothing, being annihilated; and by some it is thus applied to the finally impenitent, they shall all be annihilated. But where is this to be found in the Scriptures? In no part, properly understood. In the new heavens and the new earth none of the wicked shall be found; for therein dwells righteousness – nothing but God and righteous spirits; but at the same time the wicked shall be in their own place. And to suppose that they shall be annihilated, is as great a heresy, though scarcely so absurd, as to believe that the pains of damnation are emendatory, and that hellfire shall burn out. There is presumptive evidence from Scripture to lead us to the conclusion, that if there be not eternal punishment, glory will not be eternal; as the same terms are used to express the duration of both. No human spirit that is not united to God can be saved. Those who are Far from Thee shall perish – they shall be lost, undone, ruined, and that without remedy. Being separated from God by sin, they shall never be rejoined; the great gulf must be between them and their Maker eternally.

All them that go a whoring from thee – That is, all that worship false gods; all idolaters. This is the only meaning of the word in such a connection. I have explained this elsewhere.

Albert Barnes
Psa 73:27
For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish – All that are estranged from thee; all who are not thy friends. They will certainly be destroyed. For them there can be no hope. This is the fact which solved the difficulty of the psalmist in regard to the divine dealings with people, Psa_73:3-7. The fact that there will be a righteous judgment, in which God will deal with people according to their deserts, made all plain. Compare Psa_73:16-20.

Thou hast destroyed – That is, Thou wilt certainly destroy. The psalmist places himself in the future, and speaks of this as if it were already done. It will be so certainly done that he could speak of it as if it were already accomplished.

All them that go a whoring from thee – The relation of God to his people is often compared in the Scriptures with the marriage relation (compare Ps. 45); and a departure from Him is compared with a want of fidelity to the marriage contract. See Mat_12:39; Mat_16:4; Jer_3:8-9; Jer_5:7; Jer_13:27; Eze_23:37; Rev_2:22 :

John Calvin
Psa 73:28
28.As for me, it is good for me to draw near to God.Literally the reading is, And I, etc. David speaking expressly of himself, affirms that although he should see all mankind in a state of estrangement from God, and wandering after the ever-changing errors and superstitions of the world, he would nevertheless study to continue always in a state of nearness to God. Let others perish, says he, if their headstrong passions cannot be restrained, and they themselves prevented from running after the deceits of the world; but as for me, I will continue steadfast in the resolution of maintaining a sacred communion with God. In the subsequent clause he informs us that we draw near to God in a right manner when our confidence continues firmly fixed in him. God will not hold us by his right hand unless we are fully persuaded of the impossibility of our continuing steadfast and safe in any other way than by his grace alone. This passage is worthy of notice, that we may not be carried away by evil examples, to join ourselves to the wicked, and to act as they do, although even the whole world should fall into unbelief; but that we may learn to gather in our affections from other objects, and to confine them exclusively to God. In the close, the Psalmist intimates that after he shall have devoted himself to God alone, he shall never want matter for praising him, since God never disappoints the hope which his people repose in him. From this it follows, that none curse God or murmur against him, but those who willfully shut their eyes and involve themselves in darkness, lest knowing and observing his providence, they should be induced to give themselves up to his faithfulness and protection.

Adam Clarke
Psa 73:28
It is good for me to draw near – We have already seen that those who are far off shall perish; therefore, it is ill for them. Those who draw near – who come in the true spirit of sacrifice, and with the only available offering, the Lord Jesus, shall be finally saved; therefore, it is good for them.

I have put my trust in the Lord God – I confide in Jehovah, my Prop and Stay. I have taken him for my portion.

That I may declare all thy works – That I may testify to all how good it is to draw nigh to God; and what a sufficient portion he is to the soul of man.

The Vulgate, Septuagint, Ethiopic, and Arabic, add, in the gates of the daughter of Sion. These words appear to make a better finish; but they are not acknowledged by any Hebrew MS.

Albert Barnes
Psa 73:28
But it is good for me to draw near to God – That is, It is pleasant; it is profitable; it is the chief good. For myself, happiness is to be found in that alone; there I find what my nature pants for and desires. Others find, or attempt to find, happiness in other things; my happiness is found in God alone. This is the result to which the psalmist came after all his perplexity. With all his doubts and difficulties, his real desire was to be near to God; his supreme happiness was found there.

I have put my trust in the Lord God – I have truly confided in him; he is my portion and the sole ground of my reliance. The doubts which he had had were not, after all, real doubts about the claim of God to confidence. There was an underlying trust in God in the midst of all this. He had not desired to cherish such doubts; he did, on the most calm reflection, still trust in God.

That I may declare all thy works – That I might make known thy doings toward the children of men. I have desired rightly to understand thee and thy government, that I might vindicate thy name, and assert thy claim to the love and confidence of mankind. His doubts and perplexities had not really been because he was an enemy of God, or because he desired to cherish doubts in regard to him, but because, when appearances were against the equity of the divine government, he wished to see how the things which occurred could be explained consistently with a proper belief in the goodness and justice of God, in order that he might go and explain the matter to his fellow-men. Such perplexities and doubts, therefore, are not really inconsistent with true love for God and genuine confidence in him; and it is well when such doubts are made the means of enabling us more clearly to explain the divine dealings – it is well when, under all such doubts and difficulties, we can still find evidence that we truly love God.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s