Verse 20. "Put them in fear " - µhl hrwm hwhy hty shithah Yehovah morah lahem, "O Lord, place a teacher among them," that they may know they also are accountable creatures, grow wise unto salvation, and be prepared for a state of blessedness. Several MSS. read arwm morre, fear; but teacher or legislator is the reading of all the versions except the Chaldee. Coverdale has hit the sense, translating thus: "O Lorde, set a Scholemaster over them": and the old Psalter, "Sett Lorb a brynger of Law abouen tham." That the nations may know themselves to be but men - wna enosh; Let the Gentiles be taught by the preaching of thy Gospel that they are weak and helpless, and stand in need of the salvation which Christ has provided for them. This may be the spirit of the petition. And this is marked by the extraordinary note Selah; Mark well, take notice. So the term may be understood.
"This whole Psalm," says Dr. Horsley, "seems naturally to divide into three parts. The first ten verses make the FIRST part; the six following, the SECOND; and the remaining four the THIRD.
"The FIRST part is prophetic of the utter extermination of the irreligious persecuting faction. The prophecy is delivered in the form of an epinikion, or song of victory, occasioned by the promise given in the fifteenth verse of the tenth Psalm; and through the whole of this song the psalmist, in the height of a prophetic enthusiasm, speaks of the threatened vengeance as accomplished.
"The SECOND part opens with an exhortation to the people of God to praise him as the Avenger of their wrongs, and the watchful Guardian of the helpless, and, as if the flame of the prophetic joy which the oracular voice had lighted in the psalmist's mind was beginning to die away, the strain is gradually lowered, and the notes of triumph are mixed with supplication and complaint, as if the mind of the psalmist were fluttering between things present and to come, and made itself alternately present to his actual condition and his future hope.
"In the THIRD part the psalmist seems quite returned from the prophetic enthusiasm to his natural state, and closes the whole song with explicit but cool assertions of the future destruction of the wicked, and the deliverance of the persecuted saints, praying for the event."
ANALYSIS OF THE NINTH PSALM
"This Psalm consists of five chief parts: " - I. David's thanksgiving, ver. 1, 2, amplified and continued till the tenth verse.
II. An exhortation to others to do the like, ver. 11, and the reason of it, ver. 12.
III. A petition for himself, ver. 13, and the reason of it, ver. 14.
IV. A remembrance of God's mercy in the overthrow of his enemies, for which he sings a song of triumph, from ver. 15- 19.
V. A prayer in the conclusion against the prevalence of the heathen, ver. 19, 20.
I. His profession of praise is set down in the two first verses, in which we may perceive: - 1. The matter of it, with the extent: All the marvellous works of God.
2. That he varies the synonyms. I will pratse thee; I will show forth; I will be glad and rejoice in thee; I win sing praise to thy name, O thou Most High! in which there is a climax.
3. The principle whence this praise flowed:
1. Not from the lips, but from the heart. 2. From the whole heart: "I will praise thee with my whole heart." This he amplifies from the cause, which is double:
1. That which outwardly moved him, and gave him a just occasion to do so; the overthrow of his enemies: "When my enemies are turned back;" who were not overcome by strength or valor, but by the presence and power of God.
2. They shall fall and perish at thy presence. Thou wast the chief cause of this victory; and, therefore, deservest the thanks. Of this the prophet makes a full narrative in the two next verses, setting God as it were upon the bench, and doing the office of Judge. 1. "Thou maintainest my right, and my cause." 2. "Thou sattest on the throne judging right." 3. "Thou hast rebuked the heathen." 4. "Thou hast destroyed the wicked; thou hast put out their name for ever." In a word, Thou art a just Judge, and defendest the innocent, and punishest their oppressors; and therefore I will praise thee.
3. And then, upon the confidence of God's justice and power, he exults over his enemies. O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end. Thy power of hurting and destroying is taken away; the fortified cities in which thou dwellest are overthrown; and their memory and thine are perished.
4. Next, to make his assertion clearer; to the enemies' power he opposes that of God; his kingdom to their kingdom. But the Lord, in the administration of his kingdom, is, 1. Eternal: "The Lord shall endure for ever." 2. His office to be Judge: "He hath prepared his throne for judgment." 3. He is a universal Judge: "He shall judge the whole world." 4. He is a just Judge: "He shall judge in righteousness; he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness." 5. He is a merciful Judge: "For the Lord will be a refuge for the oppressed; a refuge in times of trouble." 5. The effect of this execution of justice. His people are encouraged: who are here described, 1. By their knowing him: "They that know thy name." 2. By trusting in him: "Will put their trust in thee." 3.By their seeking him: "For thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee." II. An exhortation to others to praise God: "Sing praises to the Lord." The reason of this, 1. He dwells in Zion. 2. He works graciously there: "Sing praises to the Lord that DWELLS in Zion: declare among the people his DOINGS." 3. That will destroy their oppressors, and avenge their blood: "When he maketh inquisition for blood, he remembereth them; he forgetteth not the cry of the humble." III. A petition for himself: "Have mercy on me, O Lord; consider my trouble," &c.; for which he gives these reasons: - 1. That "I may show forth thy praise." 2. "ALL thy praise." 3. "In the gates of the daughter of Zion." 4. That I may do it with joyful lips.
5. Which I will do: "I WILL rejoice in thy salvation." IV. Then he sings forth his song of triumph ever his enemies: - 1. The "heathen are sunk down in the pit they have made." 2. "In the net which they hid are their own feet taken." 3. This is the Lord's work. Though wicked men did doubt before of his providence and justice; yet now "the Lord was known by the judgment which he executed." 4. For "the wicked was snared in the work of his own hands. Higgaion, Selah." Which is a thing exceedingly to be meditated upon, and not forgotten.
5. "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the people that forget God." 1. Their breath is in their nostrils, and die they must. 2. If they repent not, they shall suffer eternal punishment. 3. However this may be, God's goodness shall be manifested to the innocent: "The expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever." V. A prayer in the conclusion against the prevalence of the heathen, in which he shows great earnestness and faith: - 1. "Arise, O Lord; let not man prevail." 2. "Let the heathen be judged in thy sight." 3. "Put them in fear, O Lord!" Now they fear nothing, being in their height of prosperity. They are insolent and proud; manifest thy Divine presence to their terror. 4. For then they will know themselves to be but men-infirm and mortal creatures; and not insult over thy people, nor glory in their own strength and prosperity.
The original word has been translated teacher, lawgiver, governor. Then send them, 1. A teacher, who may make them wise unto salvation. 2. A lawgiver, who shall rule them in thy fear. 3. A governor, that shall tame and reduce to order their fierce and savage nature. Let the nations be converted unto thee. This will be the noblest triumph. Let their hearts be conquered by thy mercy. And thus the Psalm will conclude as it began, To the Conqueror, on whose vesture and thigh is the name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.