Verse 8. "The wicked walk on every side " - The land is full of them. When the vilest men are exalted; rather, As villany gains ground among the sons of Adam. See the Hebrew. The Vulgate has, "In circuito impii ambulant; secundum altitudinem tuam multiplicasti filios hominum;" which is thus translated and paraphrased in my old MS.: ] Trans. "In umgang wiked gos: eftir thy heenes thu has multiplied the sons of man." Par. Us thy kepes; bot wiked gas in umgang; that es, in covatyng of erdley gudes, that turned with the whele of seven daies: in the qwilk covatys, thai ryn ay aboute; for that sett nane endyng of thaire syn: and tharfor settes God na terme of thair pyne, but sons of men that lyfs skilwisly and in ryghtwisnes, thu has multiplied, aftir thi heghnes in vertus; aftir the heghnes of thi consayll, thou hast multiplied men bath il and gude; for na man may perfitely witt in erd, qwy God makes so many men, the qwilk he wote well sal be dampned: bot it es the privete of his counsayle, so ryghtwis, that no thyng may be ryghtwiser.
In this we find a number of singular exrpressions, which, while they elucidate the text, will not be uninteresting to the antiquary. Here, for instance, we see the true etymology of the words righteous and righteousness, i.e., right wise and right wiseness. For we have it above as a noun, "rightwisnes": as an adjective, "rightwis"; and as an adjective in the comparative degree, "rightwiser": and we should have had it as an adverb, ryghtwisely, had not the word "skilwisly" occurred to the author.
Righteousness is right wiseness, or that which is according to true wisdom.
A righteous man is one who is right wise; properly instructed in Divine wisdom, and acts according to its dictates; and among them who act rightwisely, there are some who act rightwiser than others; and nothing can be rightwiser than ever to think and act according to the principles of that wisdom which comes from above.
"Right, rectus, straight, is opposed to wrong, from [A.S.] injury, and that from [A.S.], to twist. As [A.S.] rehtan signifies to direct, so [A.S." - wrangen signifies to twist, or turn out of a straight or direct line. Right is straight, and wrong, crooked. Hence the righteous man is one who goes straight forward, acts and walks by line and rule; and the unrighteous is he who walks in crooked paths, does what is wrong, and is never guided by true wisdom. Such a person is sometimes termed wicked, from the Anglo-Saxon [A.S.], to act by witch-craft, (hence [A.S.] wicca, a witch,) that is to renounce God and righteousness, and to give one's self to the devil, which is the true character of a wicked man. Let him that readeth understand.
"The vilest men are exalted " - Were we to take this in its obvious sense, it would signify that at that time wickedness was the way to preferment, and that good men were the objects of persecution.
ANALYSIS OF THE TWELFTH PSALM
"There are four parts in this Psalm: " - I. A prayer, and the reason of it; ver. 1, 2.
II. A prophecy of the fall of the wicked ver. 3, whose arrogance he describes, ver. 4.
III. God's answer to the petition, with a promise full of comfort, ver. 5; ratified, ver. 6.
IV. A petitory, or affirmative conclusion: Keep them; or a confident affirmation that God will keep them from the contagion of the wicked, ver. 7, of which there were too many, ver. 8.
"I. The prayer, which is very short, for he breaks in upon God with one word, h[wh Hoshiah! Help! Save, Lord! ver. 1. For which he gives two reasons: " - 1. The scarcity of good men: "For the godly man ceaseth," &c. There is neither piety nor fidelity among men.
2. The great abundance of the wicked, the licentious times; the perfidiousness, hypocrisy, and dissimulation of the men among whom he lived. "They speak vanity every one with his neighbour," &c.; ver. 2. They take no care to perform what they promise.
II. The prophecy. This shows the end of their dissembling: "The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips;" ver. 3. These are described, 1. As proud boasters: "With our tongues will we prevail," &c.
2. As persons restrained by no authority: "Who is the Lord over us?" ver. 4.
III. God's answer to the petition, Help, Lord! is it so that the wicked are so numerous, so tyrannous, so proud, and so arrogant? 1. "I will arise, saith the Lord." 2. I will not delay: "Now I will arise;" ver. 5.
3. "I will set him in safety (my followers) from him that puffeth," &c.
4. I am moved to it by his sighs and groans: "For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy," &c.; ver. 5.
I. And of this let no man doubt: "The words of the Lord are pure words." There is no more fallacy in the words of God than there is impurity in silver seven times refined; ver. 6.
IV. A petitory, or affirmative conclusion: Thou shalt keep them, O Lord; or, O keep them! The overflowings of wickedness are great.
1. Keep them. For unless God keep them they will be infected.
2. Keep them from this generation. For they are a generation of vipers.
3. Keep them for ever. For unless thou enable them to persevere, they will fall.
4. And keep them. For the power, pride, and influence of these impious men are very great. 1. "The wicked walk on every side." As wolves they seek whom they may devour. 2. And wickedness is the way to preferment: "The vilest men are exalted;" ver. 8.
Thy people call on thee for help; they know thou canst help, and therefore are they confident that thou wilt help, because they know that thou art good.