Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
This Psalm instructs and consoles. It teaches that earthly advantages
are not reliable for permanent happiness, and that, however prosperous
worldly men may be for a time, their ultimate destiny is ruin, while
the pious are safe in God's care.
1-3. All are called to hear what interests all.
world--literally, "duration of life," the present time.
4. incline--to hear attentively
(Ps 17:6; 31:2).
parable--In Hebrew and Greek "parable" and
"proverb" are translations of the same word. It denotes a
comparison, or form of speech, which under one image includes
many, and is expressive of a general truth capable of various
illustrations. Hence it may be used for the illustration itself.
For the former sense, "proverb" (that is, one word for several) is the
usual English term, and for the latter, in which comparison is
prominent, "parable" (that is, one thing laid by another). The
distinction is not always observed, since here, and in
"proverb" would better express the style of the composition (compare
Pr 26:7, 9;
Joh 16:25, 29).
Such forms of speech are often very figurative and also obscure
Hence the use of the parallel word--
dark saying--or, "riddle" (compare
open--is to explain.
upon the harp--the accompaniment for a lyric.
5. iniquity--or, "calamity"
of my heels--literally "my supplanters"
or oppressors: "I am surrounded by the evils they inflict."
6. They are vainglorious.
7-9. yet unable to save themselves or others.
8. it ceaseth for ever--that is, the ransom fails, the price is too
9. corruption--literally, "pit," or, "grave," thus showing that "soul"
is used for "life"
10. For he seeth--that is, corruption; then follows the illustration.
wise . . . fool--
Pr 1:32; 10:1).
--die--all meet the same fate.
11. Still infatuated and flattered with hopes of perpetuity, they
call their lands, or "celebrate their names on account of (their)
12. Contrasted with this vanity is their frailty. However honored,
abideth not--literally, "lodgeth not," remains not till morning, but
suddenly perishes as (wild) beasts, whose lives are taken without
13. Though their way is folly, others follow the same course of
14. Like sheep--(compare
are laid--or, "put," &c.
death shall feed on--or, better, "shall rule"
them--as a shepherd (compare "feed,"
have dominion over--or, "subdue"
them in the morning--suddenly, or in their turn.
their beauty--literally, "form" or shape.
shall consume--literally, "is for the consumption," that is, of the
from their dwelling--literally, "from their home (they go) to it,"
that is, the grave.
15. The pious, delivered from "the power of the grave."
power--literally, "the hand," of death, are taken under God's care.
16-19. applies this instruction. Be not anxious
&c.), since death cuts off the prosperous wicked whom you dread.
18. Though . . . lived, &c.--literally, "For in his life he blessed
his soul," or, "himself"
(Lu 12:19, 16:25);
he has had his portion.
men will praise . . . thyself--Flatterers enhance the rich fool's
self-complacency; the form of address to him strengthens the emphasis
of the sentiment.
The folly is more distinctly expressed by "understandeth not,"
substituted for "abideth not."