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The cry of the godly remnant in Israel to Jehovah in the time of trial that precedes the coming of Christ to establish order and blessing through the judgment of evil.
(vv. 1-2) The theme of the psalm is stated in the first two verses. The godly realizing that the blessing of Israel, as of the world, can only be brought about by the judgment of evil, look to God to redress the wrongs of His people, and to execute judgment upon the wicked. The wicked, in the place of power, have lifted themselves up in pride against God and His people. Now the godly appeal to God to shine forth and lift Himself up, and thus intervene in a direct and manifest way.
(vv. 3-7) The grounds on which this appeal is based are clearly stated. First, the triumph of the wicked calls for the intervention of God. In the place of power they treat others with arrogance and insult while boasting in themselves. Secondly, their persecution of God's people calls for the intervention of God. They crush God's people and afflict God's inheritance. Thirdly, their defiance of God Himself calls aloud for God to intervene. The impiety of the wicked leads them to say, “The Lord shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it.”
(vv. 8-11) A solemn warning is addressed to the unbelieving mass of the nation, who are in alliance with the wicked, as to the folly and evil of their way. They are addressed as the “brutish among the people.” The people are the people of Israel, among whom there are found a great number who pursue their way like brutes, without reference to God, and like fools, gratify their lusts without fear of God. The folly of their course is exposed. He that planted the ear shall He not hear the hard and insolent speeches of the wicked? He that formed the eye, does He not see the violence and unrighteousness of the wicked? He that instructest the nations, shall He not correct if they are heedless of His instruction? He that teacheth man knowledge, does He not know the vanity of man's thoughts?
(vv. 12-13) The godly soul learns, in the hour of trial, that, as ever, God uses the time of trial for the blessing of His people. Thus he can say, “Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord.” Looking beyond those through whom the trial may come, he sees the chastening hand of God in the trial. Thus he can say, “thou chastenest”: “thou teachest”: “that Thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity.”
“Thou chastenest” is the admission that behind the hand of those who trouble God's people there is the hand of God dealing with His people. “Thou teachest” is the acknowledgment that through chastening God teaches His people, not only what is in their hearts but the grace, the goodness, and the holiness of His own heart, so that distrusting themselves they may rest in God. Thus God's chastening is often God's way of teaching; and divine teaching leads to divine rest - “That thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity.”
(vv. 14-15) Feeling the terrible evil of the world, there may be the attempt on the part of the godly to put things right, only to find that all such attempts will end in weariness and heart-breaking disappointment. When, however, by the chastening and teaching of God, the ways of God are seen in allowing evil to triumph for a time while the godly suffer, the submissive soul finds rest. It is then seen that though the wicked crush God's people (v. 5), yet God will not cast off His people (v. 14); and though the wicked afflict God's heritage (v. 5), yet God will not forsake His inheritance (v. 14). Further it is seen that the time is not far off when “judgment shall return unto righteousness.” Now judgment and righteousness are too often divorced. Power and authority have been put into the hands of the Gentiles, but they have abused the power by separating righteousness from judgment. This was manifestly so at the judgment seat of Pilate where judgment was with Pilate but righteousness with the holy Prisoner. The day is coming when “judgment will return unto righteousness.” Judgment will be exercised in righteousness, and the upright in heart will follow the judgment. They will approve and justify the judgment of evil.
Thus the heart finds rest from the evil, not by seeking to deal with it, but by submitting to God in the trial in the confidence that God will not cast off His people, and, in His own time will deal with the evil.
(vv. 16-19) If, however, there is quiet submission in the presence of evil, the question may arise, “Who will rise up for me against the evil doers? Who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?” The answer is that such have the help of Jehovah (v. 17); the loving-kindness of Jehovah (v. 18); and the comforts of Jehovah (v. 19). The godly can say in the presence of evil, “He is my help”: in the presence of temptation, His loving-kindness held me up: when harassed by anxious thoughts His comforts delighted my soul.
But for His help we should have lapsed into silence in the presence of evil. We should have raised no testimony for God and allowed our hearts to become narrowed and our tongues dumb. But for His mercy our feet would have slipped into evil. But for His comforts our souls would have been overwhelmed with anxious thoughts.
(vv. 20-23) The godly soul realizes that it is impossible that there can be any fellowship between the throne of iniquity and a holy God. Hence God must judge the wicked; for it is manifest that God cannot allow that with which He cannot be joined. Thus in the time of trial the soul learns of rest in the consciousness that God is his defence against the wicked, his refuge in the storm, until the time comes when He will deal with evil and cut off the wicked.
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Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Psalms 94". "Hamilton Smith's Writings". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17