Verse 11. As upon the former count, so upon this one; a witness is forthcoming, who has been listening at the keyhole of the heart. Speak up, friend, and let us hear your story. He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it. This cruel man comforts himself with the idea that God is blind, or, at least, forgetful: a fond and foolish fancy, indeed. Men doubt Omniscience when they persecute the saints. If we had a sense of God's presence with us, it would be impossible for us to ill treat his children. In fact, there can scarcely be a greater preservation from sin than the constant thought of "Thou, God, seest me." Thus has the trial proceeded. The case has been fully stated; and now it is but little wonder that the oppressed petitioner lifts up the cry for judgment, which we find in the following verse: --
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 11. He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten. Is it not a senseless thing to be careless of sins committed long ago? The old sins forgotten by men, stick fast in an infinite understanding. Time cannot raze out that which hath been known from eternity. Why should they be forgotten many years after they were acted, since they were foreknown in an eternity before they were committed, or the criminal capable to practice them? Amalek must pay their arrears of their ancient unkindness to Israel in the time of Saul, though the generation that committed them were rotten in their graves. 1 Samuel 15:2 . Old sins are written in a book, which lies always before God; and not only our own sins, but the sins of our fathers, to be requited upon their posterity. "Behold it is written." Isa 65:6. What a vanity is it then to be regardless of the sins of an age that went before us; because they are in some measure out of our knowledge, are they therefore blotted out of God's remembrance? Sins are bound up with him, as men do bonds, till they resolve to sue for the debt. "The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up." Hosea 13:12 . As his foreknowledge extends to all acts that shall be done, so his remembrance extends to all acts that have been done. We may as well say, God foreknows nothing that shall be done to the end of the world, as that he forgets anything that hath been done from the beginning of the world. Stephen Charnock.
Verse 11. He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it. Many say in their hearts, "God seeth them not," while with their tongues they confess he is an all seeing God. The heart hath a tongue in it as well as the head, and these two tongues seldom speak the same language. While the head tongue saith, "We cannot hide ourselves from the sight of God," the heart tongue of wicked men will say, "God will hide himself from us, he will not see." But if their heart speak not thus, then as the prophet saith ( Isaiah 29:15 ), "They dig deep to hide their counsel from the Lord;" surely they have a hope to hide their counsels, else they would not dig deep to hide them. Their digging is not proper, but tropical; as men dig deep to hide what they would not have in the earth, so they by their wits, plots, and devices, do their best to hide their counsels from God, and they say, "Who seeth, who knoweth? We, surely, are not seen either by God or man." Joseph Caryl.
Verse 11. The Scripture everywhere places sin upon this root. God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it. He hath turned his back upon the world. This was the ground of the oppression of the poor by the wicked, which he mentions, Psalms 10:9-10 . There is no sin but receives both its birth and nourishment from this bitter root. Let the notion of providence be once thrown out, or the belief of it faint, how will ambition, covetousness, neglect of God, distrust, impatience, and all other bitter gourds, grow up in a night! It is from this topic all iniquity will draw arguments to encourage itself; for nothing so much discountenances those rising corruptions, and puts them out of heart, as an actuated belief that God takes care of human affairs. Stephen Charnock.
Verse 11. He hath said in his heart, etc. "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil." Ecclesiastes 8:11 . God forbears punishing, therefore men forbear repenting. He doth not smite upon their back by correction, therefore they do not smite upon their thigh by humiliation. Jeremiah 31:19 . The sinner thinks thus,: "God hath spared me all this while, he hath eked out patience into longsuffering; surely he will not punish." He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten. God sometimes in infinite patience adjourns his judgments and puts off the sessions a while longer, he is not willing to punish. 2 Peter 3:9 . The bee naturally gives honey, but stings only when it is angered. The Lord would have men make their peace with him. Isaiah 27:5 . God is not like a hasty creditor that requires the debt, and will give no time for the payment; he is not only gracious, but "waits to be gracious" ( Isaiah 30:18 ); but God by his patience would bribe sinners to repentance; but alas! how is this patience abused. God's longsuffering hardens: because God stops the vials of his wrath, sinners stop the conduit of tears. Thomas Watson.
Verse 11. He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it. Because the Lord continues to spare them, therefore they go on to provoke him. As he adds to their lives, so they add to their lusts. What is this, but as if a man should break all his bones because there is a surgeon who is able to set them again?... Because justice seems to wink, men suppose her blind; because she delays punishment, they imagine she denies to punish them; because she does not always reprove them for their sins, they suppose she always approves of their sins, But let such know, that the silent arrow can destroy as well as the roaring cannon. Though the patience of God be lasting, yet it is not everlasting. William Secker.
Verse 11-13. The atheist denies God's ordering of sublunary matters. "Tush, doth the Lord see, or is there knowledge in the Most High?" making him a maimed Deity, without an eye of providence, or an arm of power, and at most restraining him only to matters above the clouds. But he that dares to confine the King of heaven, will soon after endeavour to depose him, and fall at last flatly to deny him. Thomas Fuller.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 11. Divine omniscience and the astounding presumption of sinners.