Why do you make us stray
From your ways?
Why do you harden our hearts,
So that we do not fear you?
For the sake of your servants!
For the tribes of your heritage!
Your holy people took possession
For a little while.
But now our adversaries
Have trodden down your sanctuary.
We have long been
Like those whom you do not rule.
We have long been
Like those who are not called
By your name.”
The prophet acknowledges that they are sinners. However, he seems to put the blame on Yahweh who let this happen. Yahweh seems to have let them stray from his ways and harden their hearts, so that they do not fear Yahweh any longer. This prophet wanted Yahweh to return for the sake of Yahweh’s servants and the tribal heritage. His people had possession of the sanctuary for a short time, but now Yahweh’s adversaries trampled down this holy place. In the end, he admitted that they have been too long without Yahweh’s rule. They have not called Yahweh by his name.
“According to their deeds,
So will he repay.
Wrath will come to his adversaries.
Requital will come to his enemies.
To the coastlands,
He will render requital.
Thus those in the west
Shall fear the name of Yahweh.
Those in the east,
His glory will come.
He will come
Like a rushing pent up stream.
The wind of Yahweh will drive it.
He will come to Zion as a Redeemer
To those in Jacob,
Who turn from transgression.
The judgment of Yahweh is coming. Yahweh will repay people according to their deeds. He will bring wrath to his enemies and adversaries, particularly the coastlands of the Mediterranean area. The people in the west will fear the Lord. Those in the east will see his glory. Yahweh will come like a windy pent up storm. Yahweh will come to Mount Zion as the redeemer for those Israelites who turn away from their transgressions.
“If favor is shown
To the wicked,
They still do not learn righteousness.
In the land of uprightness,
They deal perversely.
They do not see
The majesty of Yahweh.
Your hand is lifted up.
But they do not see it.
Let them see your zeal
For your people!
Let them be ashamed!
Let the fire
For your adversaries
Isaiah says that you cannot favor the wicked because they never learned righteousness. They are the perverse ones in the land of the upright people, since they do not see the majesty of Yahweh. Turning directly to Yahweh, Isaiah says that Yahweh’s hand is lifted up in judgment. However, the wicked ones do not even see it. They should see the zeal that Yahweh has for his people and be ashamed. These wicked adversaries should be consumed with God’s fire.
“Look on my misery!
I do not forget your law.
Plead my cause!
Give me life
According to your promise!
Salvation is far from the wicked.
They do not seek your statutes.
Great is your mercy!
Give me life
According to your justice!
Many are my persecutors.
Many are my adversaries.
Yet I do not swerve from your decrees.
I look at the faithless with disgust.
Because they do not keep your commands.
Consider how I love your precepts!
Preserve my life
According to your steadfast love!
The sum of your word is truth.
Every one of your righteous ordinances endures forever.”
This psalmist wanted to be rescued from his misery because he had not forgotten the law. He wanted a defense attorney and a redeemer. He wanted his life as Yahweh had promised. The wicked would not be saved because they did not seek Yahweh’s statutes. Yahweh’s mercy was great so that his justice would also help him. Although he had many persecutors and adversaries the psalmist did not swerve from Yahweh’s decrees. He looked at the unfaithful in disgust because they did not keep Yahweh’s commands. He, on the other hand, loved Yahweh’s precepts. He wanted his life preserved because of Yahweh’s love. The word of Yahweh is truth so that every one of his just ordinances would endure forever. So ends this section on the twentieth consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Resh.
“Yahweh is king!
Let the earth rejoice!
Let the many coastlands be glad!
Clouds and thick darkness are all around him.
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire goes before him.
Fire consumes his adversaries on every side.
His lightning lights the world.
The earth sees it.
The earth trembles.
The mountains melt like wax
Before the Lord of all the earth.”
Psalm 97 is another untitled psalm about the kingship of Yahweh. Yahweh is the king who rules the earth. The earth and the coastlands rejoice and are glad. Clouds and darkness are all around Yahweh. Righteousness and justice are the foundations of this throne. Fire consumes all his adversaries. His lightning strikes the world. The earth sees it and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before Yahweh, the Lord of all the earth.
“Have regard for your covenant!
The dark places of the land
Are full of the haunts of violence.
Let not the downtrodden be put to shame!
Let the poor and the needy praise your name!
Plead your cause!
Remember how the impious scoff at you all day long!
Do not forget the clamor of your foes!
Do not forget the uproar of our adversaries
That goes up continually!”
This psalm concludes with a call to God to rise up and help them. The psalmist reminded God about his covenant. There was violence in the land. The downtrodden, the poor, and the needy should not be put to shame. He wanted God to remember how the non-pious people scoffed at his name. Their adversaries were continually clamoring against God.
“It is not enemies who taunt me.
I could bear that.
It is not adversaries
Who deal insolently with me.
I could hide from them.
But it is you,
My familiar friend
I kept pleasant company with you.
We walked in the house of God with the throng.
Let death come upon them.
Let them go down alive to Sheol.
Evil is in their homes.
Evil is in their hearts.”
Now David derides his former friends. His enemies and adversaries have always taunted him and been mean to him. He understood that and could hide from them. The problem was that it was his former friends who were against him. These were his equals, his companions, his good buddies. He had great conversations with them. He enjoyed their company. They used to worship together in the Temple. This was the great betrayal. David may be thinking of the uprising of his son Absalom against him. His response to them was very stark. He wanted them dead. He wanted them to go to hell. He wanted them to go to Sheol, the underground place of death while still living. This was very harsh because he beloved that they had evil in their houses and hearts.
“I am ready to fall.
My pain is ever with me.
I confess my iniquity.
I am sorry for my sin.
Those who are my foes without cause are mighty.
Many are those who hate me wrongfully.
Those who render me evil for good
Are my adversaries.
However I follow after good.”
David said he was ready to fall because the pain was all over him. He confessed his iniquity and was sorry for his sins. However, his foes and haters were strong and would render him evil for good. Notice that he says “foes without cause” or “hate me wrongfully.” This seems to indicate it would not be wrong to be his foe or hater if they had a reason to do so. Anyway, his adversaries brought evil for good, while David always followed the good. Once again, even in his confession of sinfulness, there was self-righteousness to it.
“When evildoers assail me,
When they try to devour my flesh,
My adversaries and foes,
They shall stumble and fall.”
Straightforward, if the evildoers tried to attack David, they would stumble and fall. Even when his adversaries and foes tried to devour his flesh, they would fail. They had no chance of success.
“If I speak,
My pain is not assuaged.
If I forbear,
How much of it leaves me?
Surely now God has worn me out.
God has made desolate all my company.
God has shriveled me up.
God is a witness against me.
My leanness has risen up against me.
It testifies to my face.
God has torn me in his wrath.
God hated me.
God has gnashed his teeth at me.
My adversary sharpens his eyes against me.
Men have gaped at me with their mouths.
They have struck me insolently upon the cheek.
They mass themselves together against me.
God gives me up to the ungodly.
God casts me into the hands of the wicked.”
Job now turned to God who has worn him out. God has shriveled him up. God has witnessed against him. God has torn him up with his anger. God has hated him with gnashed teeth. Thus Job’s adversaries have sharpened their eyes against him. They have gaped at him. They have struck him on the cheek. They have gathered against him because God has given him over to the ungodly, the hands of the wicked.