14. Thou hast seen it; for thou considerest mischief and vexation,1 that thou mayest take the matter into thine own hand:upon thee shall the poor leave, for thou wilt be the helper of the fatherless. 15. Break thou the arm of the wicked and the evil man; thou shalt seek his wickedness, and shalt not find it.
14. Thou hast seen it; for thou, etc. Here David, suddenly kindled with a holy zeal, enters into conflict, and, armed with the shield of faith, courageously repels these execrable opinions; but as he could derive no advantage by making his appeal to men, he has recourse to God, and addresses him. As the ungodly, in the hope of enjoying unrestrained license in the commission of all kinds of wickedness, withdraw to the greatest possible distance from God,2 and through the dictates of a perverse mind, imagine themselves to be far beyond his reach; so, on the contrary, the faithful ought carefully to keep themselves aloof from those wild opinions, which are afloat in the world, and with minds lifted upward, to speak to God as if present with them. Accordingly, David, in order to prevent himself from being overcome by the blasphemies of men, very properly turns away his attention from them. There is added a reason in confirmation of the first sentence of the verse, namely, because God considers mischief and vexation. Since it is the peculiar province of God to take cognisance of all wrongs, David concludes that it is impossible for God to shut his eyes when the ungodly are recklessly and without restraint committing their outrages. Moreover, he descends from the general to the particular, which ought to be attentively marked:for nothing is easier than to acknowledge in general terms that God exercises a care about the world, and the affairs of men; but it is very difficult to apply this doctrine to its various uses in every-day life. And yet, all that the Scripture says concerning the power and righteousness of God will be of no advantage to us, and, as it were, only matter of meagre speculation,3 unless every one apply these statements to himself, as his necessity may require. Let us therefore learn, from the example of David, to reason thus:that, since it belongs to God to take notice of all the mischief and injuries which are inflicted on the good and simple, He considers our trouble and sorrows even when he seems for a time to take no notice of them. The Psalmist also adds, that God does not look down from heaven upon the conduct of men here below as an idle and unconcerned spectator, but that it is his work to pass judgment upon it; for to take the matter into his own hand, is nothing else than duly and effectually to examine and determine it as a judge.
It is, however, our duty to wait patiently so long as vengeance is reserved in the hand of God, until he stretch forth his arm to help us. We see, therefore, the reason why it is immediately added, Upon thee shall the poor leave. By these words David means, that we ought to give the providence of God time to manifest itself. The godly, when they are afflicted, may with confidence cast their cares into his bosom, and commit themselves to his protection. They ought not, however, to be in haste for the accomplishment of their wishes; but, being now disburdened, they should take their breath till God manifestly declare that the fit time of interfering in their behalf is come. The man, therefore, leaves upon God who betakes himself to his protection, and who, fully persuaded of his faithfulness in keeping what is entrusted to him, quietly waits till the fit time of his deliverance come. Some read the verb passively, The poor shall be left upon thee. The first reading, however, is more correct, and it agrees with the rules of grammar; only it is a defective form of expression, inasmuch as the thing which the poor leaves is not expressed. But this defect is common in Hebrew; and there is no obscurity in the thing itself, namely, that, when the godly commit themselves and their concerns to God by prayer, their prayers will not be in vain; for these two clauses are closely connected, Upon thee shall the poor leave, and, Thou shalt be a helper to the fatherless. By a metaphor he terms the person fatherless whom he had in the preceding clause called poor. And the verb being in the future tense denotes a continued act.
15. Break thou the arm. This form of expression just means breaking the power of the wicked. And it is not simply a prayer; it may also be regarded as a prophecy. As the ungovernable fury of our enemies very often makes us lose courage, as if there were no means by which it could be restrained, David, in order to support his faith, and preserve it from failing through the fears which presented themselves, sets before himself the consideration, that whenever it shall please God to break the power of the ungodly, he will bring to nothing both themselves and all their schemes. To make the meaning the more evident, the sentence may be explained in this way, -- Lord, as soon as it shall seem good to thee to break the arm of the wicked, thou wilt destroy him in a moment, and bring to nought his powerful and violent efforts in the work of doing mischief. David, indeed, beseeches God to hasten his assistance and his vengeance; but, in the meantime, while these are withheld, he sustains himself by the consolatory reflection, that the ungodly cannot break forth into violence and mischief except in so far as God permits them; since it is in his power, whenever he ascends into the judgment-seat, to destroy them even with his look alone. And certainly, as the rising sun dissipates the clouds and vapours by his heat, and clears up the dark air, so God, when he stretches forth his hand to execute the office of a Judge, restores to tranquillity and order all the troubles and confusions of the world. The Psalmist calls the person of whom he speaks not only wicked, but the wicked and the evil man, and he does so, in my judgment, for the purpose of setting forth in a stronger light the greatness of the wickedness of the character which he describes. His words are as if he had said, Wicked men may even be frantic in their malice and impiety; but God can promptly and effectually remedy this evil whenever he pleases.