“They will come with dread
When their sins are reckoned up.
Their lawless deeds
Will convict them to their face.”
The unjust impious ones will come with dread to the judgment of God. Their sins will be reckoned against them. Their lawless deeds will convict them right to their face. This is pretty simple. The unjust lose.
“Let us oppress the righteous poor man!
Let us not spare the widow!
Let us not regard the gray hairs of the aged!
But let our might be our law of right!
What is weak proves itself to be useless.”
Unlike Qoheleth in Ecclesiastes, this author believed that the impious would do wicked deeds. These impious ones wanted to oppress the righteous poor people (πένητα δίκαιον), take advantage of the widows (χήρας), and not respect the aged (πρεσβύτου) with their gray hair. For them, might and strength was only the law (νόμος) to prove who was right. The weak were useless. Only the strong survive.
Let us enjoy the good things that exist!
Make use of creation to the full
As in youth.
Let us take our fill of costly wine!
Let us take our fill of perfumes!
Let no flower of spring pass us by.
Let us crown ourselves
With rosebuds before they wither.
Let none of us fail to share in our revelry.
Everywhere let us leave signs of enjoyment.
Because this is our portion,
This is our lot.”
Once again, following the advice of Qoheleth in Ecclesiastes, we should enjoy life and not worry because all is vanity. These impious people want to enjoy all the existing good things, the use of all creation as they had done in their youth. They wanted to enjoy costly wine, perfumes, and the flowers of spring. They should be crowned with rosebuds as well as share in their revelry. They should enjoy themselves because this was their portion and lot in life.
The insolent rise up against me.
A band of ruthless men seek my life.
They do not set you before them.
You are a God merciful and gracious.
You are slow to anger.
You abound in steadfast love.
You abound in faithfulness.
Turn to me.
Be gracious to me.
Give your strength to your servant.
Save the child of your serving girl.
Show me a sign of your favor.
Thus those who hate me may see.
May they be put to shame.
You have helped me.
You have comforted me.”
This psalm ends with David asking God to be merciful and gracious because impious people were after him, seeking his life. Yahweh was slow to anger and full of steadfast love. He wanted Yahweh to save him with his strength. He wanted a sign of Yahweh’s favor. He wanted his haters put to shame. He was relying on Yahweh, who had helped and comforted him.
How the enemy scoffs!
An impious people revile your name.
Do not deliver the soul of your dove
To the wild beasts!
Do not forget
The life of your poor forever!”
This was a cry to Yahweh. He had to remember his dove. The enemy was scoffing at them. These impious people were reviling the name of God. They did not want to be sent to the wild beasts. Asaph, the psalmist, wanted Yahweh to remember and not forget the poor people of his chosen ones.
“Now I urge those who read this book not to be depressed by such calamities. You ought to recognize that these punishments were designed not to destroy but to discipline our people. In fact, it is a sign of great kindness not to let the impious alone for long, but to punish them immediately. In the case of the other nations, the Lord waits patiently to punish them until they have reached the full measure of their sins. However, he does not deal in this way with us. So that he may not take vengeance on us afterward when our sins have reached their height, he never withdraws his mercy from us. Although he disciplines us with calamities, he does not forsake his own people. Let what we have said serve as a reminder. We must go on briefly with the story.”
Here is a little editorial note of the biblical writer. In fact, he used the first person singular “I.” He did not want the reader to be depressed by these incidents. These punishments came to the Jewish people in order to discipline them, not to destroy them. With other nations, the Lord waited until they were totally sinful before he punished them. God’s mercy was always with the Jews, even when they were sinful. Although he disciplines the Jews, he never abandons them. Now that the author has put in this little reminder, he was going to continue on with the story. This is a rare look at the perspective of this biblical author. The Jews were unique in that God was merciful, no matter what.