Such confidence and faith must appear to the world strange and unaccountable. It is like what his fellow-citizens may be supposed to have felt (if the story is true) toward the man of whom it is recorded that his powers of vision were so extraordinary that he could distinctly see the fleet of the Carthaginians entering the harbour of Carthage, while he stood at Lilybaeum, in Sicily. A man seeing across an oceans and able to tell objects so far off, he could feast his vision on what others did not see. Even so does faith now stand at Lilybaeum and see the long tossed fleet entering safely the desired haven, enjoying the bliss of that still distant day, as if it had already come.
It is a Psalm for "times of trouble" (v1) like the preceding. In it we again hear the cry, "Arise" addressed to the Lord, as in the preceding. Here too man is felt as the oppressor. So much does it resemble the previous that the Septuagint reckoned it a continuation. There is however an obvious difference. The ninth dwells on the ruin of the ungodly, and the tenth upon their guilt.
Both Psalms are in some measure alphabetic but in an irregular manner. Perhaps this was intended to teach us not to lay too much stress upon this type of composition. God occasionally employs all the various ways in which men are wont to express their thoughts, and by which they are wont to aid the memory in retaining them.
Three parties are presented to our view in succession. god - the wicked - the righteous.
- God (v1), is seen standing far off, covering his eyes from the painful sight, being of purer eyes than to behold iniquity.
- The wicked (v2-11) seen in all their ungodliness and unprincipled selfishness, practising evil as if no eye regarded.
- The righteous (v12-14) calling God's attention to these scenes and raising the cry for interposition.
Then a v16 and onward the scene suddenly changes. God has come near, the arm of the wicked is broken. In the Hebrew, the first clause is a prayer, "break the arm of the wicked and evil man" and the next seems to be the response to that prayer. "yes it shall be broken" "and you shall seek out his wickedness and find none."
His extirpation shall be complete (Jer 1:20). The Lord is King! He has heard the desire of the humble. He has judged the fatherless and oppressed. He has acted to then as Othniel and Gideon and Samson and other judges of Israel did when they brought down the foe and set things to right in the land.
Our Master, in the days of his flesh, might see all that is here described verified before him. He saw the buyers and sellers making gain in the courts of the Temple and probably fulfilled Zech 11:5 "Blessed be the Lord; for I am rich" even as it is said, v3: "whoever makes gain blesses God for it, and yet despises Jehovah."
In the Sadducees he saw before him men of whom it might be said: there is no God in their thoughts (v4). Their ways were firm (v5). They feared no adversity, saying (as the Prayer-book version graphically renders v6), "Tush! I shall never be cast down." The Pharisees and Scribes and Elders furnished abundant exemplification of "mischief is under his tongue" (v7) - the storehouse, or cellar, that seemed to lie under their tongue ever providing their lips with plans and suggestions of evil.
Their lying in wait, as a lion in his covert, most vividly paints the plots entered into against Christ, and against his disciples afterwards. At the same time, "the servant is not above the master," - the members of Christ have ever met with the same treatment, and found the world lying in the same wickedness.
Any member of Christ can use this Psalm who feels earth's unholiness and atheism, and who is at all like Lot in Sodom, "his righteous soul vexed from day to day by their unlawful deeds." It will be well fitted for those who are on earth when Antichrist practises and prospers before his final overthrow.
In short, it is so comprehensive, that whether used by Christ or his people, whether in the days of the First Coming or the days that precede and usher in the Second it may be said to be - The Righteous detailing earth's wickedness in anticipation of earth's deliverance.