19. Arise, O Jehovah; let not man1 prevail: let the nations be judged in thy sight. 20. Put them in fear, O Jehovah; that the nations may know that they are men.
There follows next the point to which the nations must be brought, namely, to acknowledge themselves to be mortal men. This, at first sight, seems to be a matter of small importance; but the doctrine which it contains is far from being trifling. What is man, that he dares of himself to move a finger? And yet all the ungodly run to excess as boldly and presumptuously as if there were nothing to hinder them from doing whatever they please. It is certainly through a distempered imagination that they claim to themselves what is peculiar to God; and, in short, they would never run to so great excess if they were not ignorant of their own condition. David, when he beseeches God to strike the nations with terror, that they may know that they are men,7 does not mean that the ungodly will profit so much under the rods and chastisements of God as to humble themselves truly and from the heart; but the knowledge of which he speaks just means an experience of their own weakness. His language is as if he had said, Lord, since it is their ignorance of themselves which hurries them into their rage against me, make them actually to experience that their strength is not equal to their infatuated presumption, and after they are disappointed of their vain hopes, let them lie confounded and abased with shame. It may often happen that those who are convinced of their own weakness do not yet reform; but much is gained when their ungodly presumption is exposed to mockery and scorn before the world, that it may appear how ridiculous was the confidence which they presumed to place in their own strength. With respect to the chosen of God, they ought to profit under his chastisements after another manner. It becomes them to be humbled under a sense of their own weakness, and willingly to divest themselves of all vain confidence and presumption. And this will be the case if they remember that they are but men. Augustine has well and wisely said, that the whole humility of man consists in the knowledge of himself. Moreover, since pride is natural to all, God requires to strike terror into all men indiscriminately, that, on the one hand, his own people may learn to be humble, and that, on the other hand, the wicked, although they cease not to elevate themselves above the condition of man, may be put back with shame and confusion.
1 "L'homme mortel." -- Fr. "Mortal man."
2 "Toute la fierte et arrogance." -- Fr. "All the pride and arrogance."
3 "Leur rage et insolence." -- Fr. "Their rage and insolence."
4 "Solo nutu." - Lat. "Enfaisant signe seulement du bout du doigt." -- Fr.
5 The Chaldee version reads fear, but the Syriac, Ethiopic, and Vulgate versions follow the Septuagint. The Arabic employs a word of nearly the same import, signifying a doctor or teacher of the law. In it is , "O Lord set a schoolmaster over them." Auguatine and Jerome, who adopted the reading of the Septuagint, render the words, "Set, O Lord, a lawgiver over them;" and it was their opinion that lawgiver means antichrist, to whom God in his wrath gave dominion over the nations. According to others, lawgiver means Christ. Dr Horsley reads, "O Jehovah, appoint thou a teacher over them." Ainsworth and Dr Adam Clarke adopt the same rendering, and view the words as a prayer that the nations may learn humility and piety, that they may know their accountability to God, and become wise unto salvation.
6 "Tous fleax de Dieu par lesquels est rembarre comme a grans coups de marteau." -- Fr.
7 The original word is
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