15. And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.
15. Et nunc nos beatos dicimus superbos; etiam aedificantur qui faciunt iniquitatem, etiam tentant Deum et liberantur.
This verse is connected with the last, for the force of these words, "We have walked sorrowfully before God and have carefully kept his precepts," does not fully appear, except this clause be added -- that they saw in the meantime that the proud flourished and had their delights, as though they said, "We strive to deserve well of God by our services; he overlooks all our religious acts, and pours as it were all his bounty on our enemies, who are yet ungodly and profane." We now see how these verses are connected together, for God disappointed the Jews of the reward they thought due to them, and in the meantime bestowed on the impious and undeserving his kindness.
To call any one blessed, as we have before seen, is to acknowledge that God's blessing is upon him, according to what God had promised, "Behold, all nations shall call thee blessed." So a changed state of things is here set forth, for the Jews, when they were miserable, called others blessed; not that they willingly declared this, but envy forced them to complain of the cheerful and hamper state of the Gentiles, who were yet ungodly. And by the proud they meant all the despisers of God, a part being mentioned for the whole; and they were so called, because faith alone humbles us. Many unbelievers are indeed lauded for their humility, but no one becomes really humble without being first emptied of every conceit as to his own virtues. Some rise up against God, and rob him of what is his own, and then it is no wonder that they act insolently towards their neighbors, since they dare even to raise up their horns against God himself. And in many parts of Scripture the unbelieving are called proud, in order that we may know that we cannot be formed and habituated to humility until we submit to the yoke of God, so that he may turn us wherever he wishes, and until we cast aside every confidence in ourselves. 1
As well as, they said; for Mg, gam, is here repeated, and must be rendered "as well as," that is, "All who do iniquity as well as all who tempt God, are built up and are delivered. In the first place what is general is stated, and then what is particular, and yet the Prophet speaks of the same persons, for he first calls God's despisers iniquitous, and he afterwards says, that the same tempted God, which is more special. The sum of the whole is, -- that God's favor was conspicuous towards the despisers of the law, for they lived prosperously, and were also delivered, and found God their helper in adversity.
The verb, to build, is taken in Hebrew in the sense of prospering, and is applied to many things. When therefore any one grows and increases in honors or in riches, when he accumulates wealth, or when he is raised as it were by degrees to a higher condition, he is said to be built up. It is also added that they were delivered, for it would not be enough to acquire much wealth, except aid from God comes in adversity, for no one, even the most fortunate, is exempt from every evil. Hence to building up the Prophet adds this second clause, -- that God delivered the wicked from all evils, as though he covered them under his shadow, and as though they were his clients. With regard to the second verb, when he says that the ungodly tempted God, it is, we know, the work of unbelief to contend with God. The Prophet used the same word shortly before, when he said, "Prove me in this:" but God then, after the manner of men, submitted to a trial; here, on the contrary, the Prophet condemns that insolence which very commonly prevails in the world, when men seek to confine God, and to impose on him a law, and to inquire into his judgements: it is in short as though they had a right to prescribe to him according to their own caprice, so that he should not do this or that, and which if he did, to call on him to plead his own cause. We now then perceive what it is to prove or tempt God. It follows --