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Bible Commentaries

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Psalms 94

A.M. 2944. B.C. 1060.

The matter of this Psalm plainly declares the occasion of it to have been the oppressions and persecutions of God’s people by wicked and cruel enemies, against whom the psalmist prays for divine aid. The latter Greeks ascribe it to David, and it is thought to be an exact description of Saul and his courtiers, who abused their authority to all manner of oppression and violence, especially against David, without any fear of God, or thoughts that he would call them to an account, as he complains in several other Psalms, particularly the fifty-seventh, fifty-eighth, and fifty-ninth. He shows the danger and folly of persecuting the children of God, Psalms 94:1-11 . Gives the persecuted assurance that God would deliver them, Psalms 94:12-23 .

Verses 1-4

Psalms 94:1-4. O God, to whom vengeance belongeth To whom, as the supreme Judge of the world, the patron and protector of the righteous, and the declared enemy of all wickedness and wicked men, and to whom alone it belongs to take revenge on those who oppress thy people when they should protect them; show thyself Make thy justice conspicuous, by speedily avenging thine elect, and rendering a recompense to their enemies. Lift up thyself To punish thy proud enemies. Be exalted in thine own strength, and let those proud men, who have acted as if they thought none could control them, know that they have a superior. How long shall they utter Pour forth freely, constantly, abundantly, as a fountain doth water, (so יביעו , jabbignu, signifies,) and speak hard things Grievous, insolent, and intolerable words against thee and thy people; and all the workers of iniquity boast themselves Of their invincible power, and prosperous success in their wicked designs.

Verses 5-7

Psalms 94:5-7. They afflict thy heritage Those righteous persons whom thou hast chosen for thy portion or inheritance. They slay the widow, &c. Whom common humanity obliged them to spare, pity, and relieve. Yet they say, The Lord shall not see Their meeting with impunity and prosperity in their impious and barbarous practices makes them ready to doubt, or to deny, the providence of God in the government of his church and of the world. Neither doth the God of Jacob regard it Though there are such evident demonstrations of the divine interpositions in favour of Jacob, and of his watchful care over them as his people, yet, for all that, they fancy he does not regard, nor will call them to any account for their doings.

Verses 8-9

Psalms 94:8-9. Understand, ye brutish Hebrew, בערים , bognarim; ye who are governed by your lusts and appetites, as the word signifies; who have only the shape, but not the understanding, reason, or judgment of men in you, or are not directed and governed thereby; who, though you think yourselves the wisest of men, yet, in truth, are the most brutish of all people; he that planted the ear The word planted (Hebrew, נשׂע , notang) is very emphatical, signifying the excellent structure of the ear, or of the several organs belonging to the sense of hearing, and the wise position of all those parts in their proper places; shall he not hear? He must necessarily hear. The truth of the inference depends upon that evident and undeniable principle in reason, that nothing can give to another that which it hath not either formally or more eminently in itself, and that no effect can exceed the virtue of its cause. He that formed the eye, &c. By the word formed, (Hebrew, יצר , jotzer, concerning which see note on Genesis 2:7,) he seems to intimate the accurate and most curious workmanship of the eye, which is observed by all who write on the subject.

Verse 10

Psalms 94:10. He that chastiseth Or, He that instructeth, or teacheth, or reproveth (as the word יסר , jasar, often signifies, and is rendered Proverbs 9:7; Isaiah 8:11, &c.) the heathen, the Gentiles, or nations of the world: not only the Jews, but all other people, all mankind, as the next clause explains it; shall not he correct? He who, when he pleases, can and does punish the nations of the world, is he not able to punish you for your wicked speeches and actions? Or, He that reproveth, and therefore discerneth their evil words and works, shall he not discern and reprove yours, who sin against greater light, and more privileges and advantages, and whose sins therefore are more aggravated? He that teacheth man knowledge That giveth him understanding, and the knowledge of many excellent things by the light of nature; shall not he know Namely, men’s thoughts, as in the next verse, and of consequence their whole conduct? These words are not in the Hebrew text, but are easily understood out of the foregoing clause. The meaning of the verse, in substance, is, “He that instructeth the nations, and supplieth them with all the knowledge they have, can he want means of discovering what they are contriving and doing, or of finding them out? Will not he be able to trace them out in all their machinations?” Or, as Dr. Horne paraphraseth the words, “It is God who hath instructed the world, by his revelations, in religious knowledge, and, consequently, without all doubt, he cannot be ignorant of the use and abuse which men make of that unspeakable gift.”

Verse 11

Psalms 94:11. The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man This is an answer to the foregoing question, Shall not he know? Yes, he knoweth all things, yea, even the most secret things, as the thoughts of men; and in particular your thoughts, and much more your practices, which you supposed he did not see, Psalms 94:6-7. And he knows that they are generally vain and foolish; and that, while you applaud yourselves in such thoughts, you do not benefit, but only delude yourselves with them.

Verses 12-13

Psalms 94:12-13. Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest Not he that prospers in his wickedness is happy, but he whom the Lord chasteneth when he acts amiss, and thereby teaches to study and obey his law with the greater care and diligence. That thou mayest give him rest, &c. For the present and short troubles of the righteous prepare them for, and lead them to, true rest and blessedness, while the seeming felicity of the wicked makes way for those tremendous judgments which God hath prepared for them.

Verses 14-15

Psalms 94:14-15. The Lord will not cast off his people Though he may for a time correct, yet he will not utterly destroy, his true and obedient people, as he will their enemies, but will, in due time, put an end to all their calamities. But judgment shall return unto righteousness Although the world is now full of unrighteous judgments, and even God himself seems not to judge and administer things justly, because he suffers his people to be oppressed, and the wicked to triumph over them, yet the state of things will, at the proper season, be otherwise ordered; God will show himself to be a righteous judge, and will advance and establish justice in the earth, and especially among his people. And all the upright in heart shall follow it Namely, just judgment restored; they will all approve of and imitate this justice of God in all their actions, whereas the wicked shall still do wickedly, as is said Daniel 12:10, and in a land and state of uprightness will deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the Lord, Isaiah 26:10. Or, as אחריו , acharaiv, may be rendered, shall go after, or follow HIM, namely, the Lord, whose act it is to bring judgment to justice. While the wicked forsake God, these will cleave to him, as being confident that, how much soever he may suffer them to be oppressed for a season, yet he will, in due time, plead their cause, and bring forth their righteousness.

Verse 16

Psalms 94:16. Who will rise up for me against the evil-doers? Have I any friend that, in love to me, will appear for me? Hath justice any friend that, in a pious indignation at unrighteousness, will plead my injured cause? He looked, but there was none to save, there was none to uphold. On the side of the oppressor there was power, and therefore the oppressed had no comforter. God alone helped him, as he says in the next verse.

Verse 18

Psalms 94:18. When I said, My foot slippeth I am now upon the point of falling into mischief and utter destruction; thy mercy, O Lord, held me up A merciful, gracious, and powerful hand was immediately stretched out to support my steps, and establish my goings. Observe, reader, we are beholden, not only to God’s power but to his pity, for spiritual supports, and we are then prepared to receive those supports, when we are sensible of our own weakness and inability to stand by our own strength, and come to God to acknowledge it, and to tell him how our foot slippeth.

Verse 19

Psalms 94:19. In the multitude of my thoughts within me While my heart is filled with various and perplexing thoughts, as the original word signifies, and tormented with cares and fears about my future state; thy comforts delight my soul Thy promises, contained in thy word, and the remembrance of my former experience of thy care and kindness to me, afford me such consolation as revives my dejected mind.

Verse 20

Psalms 94:20. Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee? Wilt thou take part with the unrighteous powers of the world, who oppress thy people? Wilt thou countenance and support these tyrants in their wickedness? We know thou wilt not; but wilt manifest thy justice and displeasure against them. A throne has fellowship with God, when it is a throne of justice, and answers the end of its being erected; for by him kings reign; and when they reign for him their judgments are his, and he owns them as his ministers; and whoever resist them, or rise up against them, shall receive to themselves condemnation; but when it becomes a throne of iniquity, it has no longer fellowship with God. Far be it from the just and holy God that he should be the patron of unrighteousness, even in princes and those that sit on thrones; yea, though they be the thrones of the house of David. Which frameth mischief by a law Who devise wicked devices, and lay heavy burdens upon men by virtue of those unrighteous decrees which they have made in form of laws; or by false pretences of law. Or, against law, against all right, and the laws, both of God and men.

Verses 21-23

Psalms 94:21-23. They gather themselves against the soul of the righteous Against the life, as the word here rendered soul commonly signifies, and as the next clause explains it. They are not satisfied with the spoils of the estates of the righteous, but do also thirst after their lives. And condemn the innocent blood They shed the blood of those innocent persons whom they have wickedly condemned. Innocent blood is here put for the blood of innocent persons. But the Lord is my defence Let them decree what they please, and be too hard for all laws; the Lord, who hates unrighteousness, will be my defence; he, who hath long been very gracious to me, will secure me from their violence. He is the rock of my refuge In the clefts of which I may take shelter, and on the top of which I may set my feet, and be out of the reach of danger. He shall bring upon them their own iniquity The fruit and punishment of their iniquity. He shall deal with them according to their desert; and that very mischief which they designed against God’s people shall be brought upon themselves. He shall cut them off in their own wickedness Either in the midst of their sins, or by their own wicked devices, the mischief whereof he will cause to fall upon their own heads. The Lord our God The God of Jacob, of whom they said, he did not see, nor regard them, shall cut them off And they shall find themselves mistaken in their false views and expectations of impunity, to their sorrow; he shall cut them off out of the land of the living; shall cut them off from any fellowship with himself, and so shall make them completely miserable; and their pomp and power shall stand them in no stead.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 94". Benson's Commentary. 1857.