15. O Lord, thou knowest: remember me, and visit me, and revenge me of my persecutors; take me not away in thy long-suffering: know that for thy sake I have suffered rebuke.
15. Tu nosti, Jehova; recordare mei, et visita me, et ulciscere me a persecutoribus meis, ne in prorogatione (vel, protractione) irae tuae tollas me; cognosce sustinuisse me (id est, quod sustinuerim) propter to opprobrium.
The Prophet again turns to God, to shew that he had to do with the deaf. This breaking off in the Prophet's discourse has much more force than if he had pursued regularly his subject. Had he spoken calmly and in uniform order to the people, his address would have been less forcible, than by speaking to them as it were angrily and by severely reproving them, and then immediately by turning from them and addressing God as though bidding adieu to men. Of this we have spoken elsewhere, but it is well to remind you of what we have before noticed. We now perceive the design of the Prophet, in thus abruptly turning from the people to God, and then again from God to the people, even because he indignantly bore the loss of his labor, when the ears of almost all were closed, and when they had become so hardened that they had no fear of God, nor any regard for his teaching. As then the Prophet indignantly bore so great a wickedness, he could not but speak in a hasty manner.
According to this strain, he now says,
"Lord, bid fire to descend from heaven to consume them, as was done by Elias." (Luke 9:54)
But it is necessary not only to be moved by a pious zeal, but also to be guided by a right judgment: and this second requisite was possessed by the Prophet; for he did not let loose the reins to his own zeal, but subjected himself to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Since, then, these two things were united, -- a right zeal, to the exclusion of any private feeling, -- and the spirit of wisdom and a right judgment, it was lawful to ask for vengeance on the reprobate, as the Prophet does.
There is further no doubt but that he pitied the people; but he was in a manner freed from the influence of human feelings, and had put off whatever might have disturbed him and led him away from moderation. Though, then, the Prophet was thus emancipated and freed from every kind of perturbation, there is yet no doubt but that he prayed for final judgment on the reprobate; and yet, if there were any healable, he doubtless wished them to be saved, and also prayed anxiously for them.
In short, whenever the prophets were carried away by such a fervor as this, we must understand that they were fined by the Spirit of Christ; and we must know that, when they were thus fined, their whole zeal was directed against the reprobate, while they were at the same time endeavoring to gather together all that could be saved: and the same was the case with David; when he fervently implored destruction on his enemies, he no doubt sustained the person of Christ, as he was fined by his Spirit. (Psalm 35:4-6) Hence he turned and levelled all his vehemence against the reprobate; but, when there was any hope of salvation, David also, in the spirit of kindness, prayed for the restoration of those who seemed to have already perished. Now, then, when the Prophet says, "Thou knowest, Jehovah; remember me, and visit, me, and avenge me of my persecutors," he doubtless does not mean all his persecutors, but those who had been given up and devoted to destruction, and whom he himself knew to be reprobates.1
He afterwards shews what he meant by these words --
"When thou destroyest the wicked, involve me not with them." (Psalm 26:9)
The sum of the whole is, that the Prophet asks a favor for himself, that God would make a difference between him and the reprobate while he was protracting his wrath; that is, while he was not only taking vengeance on the impiety of the people for a short time, but also while he was adding calamities to calamities, and accumulating evils on evils, and while thus his fire burned for a long time, until the whole land was consumed: and this is the meaning which I prefer, though all the interpreters agree in another.2
It must further be noticed that the Prophet, in this prayer, did not so much consult his own advantage as the good of the people, -- that they might at length dread the dreadful judgment which was at hand. We have already stated how supine a security prevailed throughout Judea; and they also hoped, that if any calamity happened it would be for a short time, so that, having endured it, they might again live in pleasure and quietness. Hence the Prophet speaks of the
Grant, Almighty God, that as we cease not by our sins daily to provoke thy wrath against us, and are also ungrateful to thee and disobedient to thy heavenly doctrine, -- O grant that we may at length know what we have hitherto deserved, and become so displeased with our vices, that being really and from the heart turned to thee, we may above all things seek to be reconciled to thee and received into favor, so that thou mayest rule us by thy Holy Spirit, and confirm us in true obedience and godliness, until we shall at length enjoy that eternal felicity which has been prepared for us in heaven by Christ our Lord. -- Amen.
1 There are distinctions here made not allowed by the passage. To pray for vengeance on enemies was in accordance with the covenant made with Abraham, "I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee," Genesis 12:3. See also Genesis 27:29; Numbers 24:9. As they were the enemies of God's servant for delivering his word, they were the enemies of God himself; and they had already been wholly repudiated by God, and given up to judgment. - Ed.
2 The versions favor another view. The Septuagint omit the verb, and connect "long-suffering" with the previous clause, "Defend me from me persecutors, not in thy long-suffering;" that is, without delay, as the Targum literally expresses it. The Vulgate is, "Do not in thy patience take me;" the Syriac, "Do not according to thy long-suffering bring me out;" the Arabic, "Without delay;" it omits the verb, and connects the words with the former sentence like the Septuagint. The words may be thus literally rendered, --
Not in (or, according to) thy long-suffering receive me;
that is, under they care and protection: he deprecated delay. This is the purport of all the versions, and also of the Targum.
Venema divides the clause, --
Let there be no lengthening of thy wrath; receive me; Know that for thee I have borne reproach.
Blayney's version is hardly intelligible, --
Within the length of thine anger comprehend me not.
The meaning of which he says is, "Lengthen not thy resentment as to comprehend me within its limits."
Probably the rendering of Cocceius is the best, --
Do not through thy long-suffering take me away;
that is, "Do not bear long with my persecutors, and thus allow them to destroy me."
The verb here used seems simply to take; but it signifies sometimes to take away, and sometimes to take into favor, to take under protection. The most intelligent rendering seems to be as follows: --
15. Thou knowest, Jehova; Remember me, and visit me, And take vengeance for me on my persecutors; Through thy long-suffering towards them take me not away; Know that I have for thee borne reproach.
"Take me not away" means "Suffer me not to be taken away." He feared for his life if the vengeance he denounced on the people was not soon executed. See Jeremiah 15:18. - Ed.
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