Psalm 109:10

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 10. Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg. May they have neither house nor home, settlement nor substance; and while they thus wander and beg may it ever be on their memory that their father's house lies in ruins, -- let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places. It has often been so: a race of tyrants has become a generation of beggars. Misused power and abused wealth have earned the family name universal detestation, and secured to the family character an entail of baseness. Justice herself would award no such doom except upon the supposition that the sin descended with the blood; but supreme providence which in the end is pure justice has written many a page of history in which the imprecation of this verse has been literally verified.

We confess that as we read some of these verses we have need of all our faith and reverence to accept them as the voice of inspiration; but the exercise is good for the soul, for it educates our sense of ignorance, and tests our teachability. Yes, Divine Spirit, we can and do believe that even these dread words from which we shrink have a meaning consistent with the attributes of the Judge of all the earth, though his name is LOVE. How this may be we shall know hereafter.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 10. Let his children be continually vagabonds. The word used in the sentence pronounced upon Cain, Genesis 4:12 . Compare Psalms 59:11 Psalms 59:15 . --William Kay.

Verse 10. Let them seek, etc. Horsley renders this clause, Let them be driven out from the very ruins of their dwellings, and remarks that the image is that of "vagabonds seeking a miserable shelter among the ruins of decayed or demolished buildings, and not suffered to remain even in such places undisturbed."

Verse 9-10. When we consider of whom this Psalm is used there will be no difficulty about it. No language could be more awful than that of Psalms 109:6-19 . It embraces almost every misery we can think of. But could any man be in a more wretched condition than Judas was? Could any words be too severe to express the depth of his misery -- of him, who, for three whole years, had been the constant attendant of the Saviour of mankind; who had witnessed his miracles, and had shared his miraculous powers; who had enjoyed all the warnings, all the reproofs of his love, and then had betrayed him for thirty pieces of silver? Can we conceive a condition more miserable than that of Judas? And this Psalm is a prophecy of the punishment that should overtake him for his sin. S. Peter, in the Acts of the Apostles, quotes part of this psalm, and applies it to Judas: he applies it as a prophecy of the punishment he should suffer on the betrayal of the Son of God.

It is probable that in this psalm, when it uses the word children, it does not mean those who are his offspring by natural descent, but those who resemble him, and who partake with him in his wickedness. This is a common meaning of the word sons, or children, in Holy Scripture. As where our blessed Lord tells the Jews, Ye are of your father the devil, he could not mean that the Jews were the natural descendants of the devil, but that they were his children because they did his works. Again, when they are called Abraham's children, it means those who do the works of Abraham. So in this psalm, where it is foretold that fearful punishment should happen to Judas for the betrayal of his Lord, and should be extended to his children, it means his associates, his companions, and imitators in wickedness. --F.H. Dunwell, in "A Tract on the Commination Service", 1853.

Verse 10, 12-13. It is for public ends that the psalmist prayed that the families of the wicked might be involved in their ruin. These are very terrible petitions; but it is God, not man, who has appointed these calamities as the ordinary consequences of persistence in wickedness. It is God, not man, who visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, to the third and fourth generations. It is because this is the ordinary portion of the transgressors, and that thus in God's wonted way his abhorrence of the transgressions of his enemies might be marked, that the psalmist prays for these calamities. He asks God to do what he had declared he would do, and this for public ends, for he says: "I will greatly praise the Lord with my mouth; yea, I will praise him among the multitude. For he shall stand at the right hand of the poor, to save him from those that condemn his soul", Psalms 109:30-31 . --R.A. Bertram, in "The Imprecatory Psalms", 1867.

Verse 10-13. Many penurious fathers are so scraping for their children, that they ravish the poor children of God; but the hand of the Lord shall be against their young lions. Nahum 2:13 . They join house to house, and field to field, but their children shall be "vagabonds and beg", "seeking their bread out of their desolate places." How many a covetous mole is now digging a house in the earth for his posterity, and never dreams of this sequel, that God should make those children beggars, for whose sake their fathers had made so many beggars! This is a quittance which the sire will not believe, but as sure as God is just the son shall feel. Now if he had but leave to come out of hell for an hour, and see this, how should he curse his folly! Sure, if possible, it would double the pain of his infernal torture. Be moderate, then, ye that so insatiately devour, as if you had an infinite capacity: you overload your stomachs, it is fit they should be disburdened in shameful spewing. How quickly doth a worldly minded man grow a defrauder, from a defrauder to a usurer, from a usurer to an oppressor, from an oppressor to an extortioner! If his eyes do but tell his heart of a booty, his heart will charge his hand, and he must have it, Micah 2:2 . They do but see it, like it, and take it. Observe their due payment. Let the extortioner catch all that he hath: they got all by extortion, they shall lose all by extortion. They spoiled their neighbours, strangers shall spoil them. How often hath the poor widow and orphan cried, wept, groaned to them for mercy, and found none! They have taught God how to deal with themselves; let there be none to extend mercy to them. They have advanced houses for a memorial, and dedicated lands to their own names, Psalms 49:11 ; all to get them a name; and even in this they shall be crossed: In the next generation their name shall be quite put out. --Thomas Adams.