Verse 4. Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge? They have no wisdom, certainly, but even so common a thing as knowledge might have restrained them. Can they not see that there is a God? that sin is an evil thing? that persecution recoils upon a man's own head? Are they such utter fools as not to know that they are their own enemies, and are ruining themselves?
Who eat up my people as they eat bread. Do they not see that such food will be hard to digest, and will bring on them a horrible vomit when God deals with them in justice? Can they imagine that the Lord will allow them to devour his people with impunity? They must be insane indeed.
They have not called upon God. They carry on their cruel enterprises against the saints, and use every means but that which is essential to success in every case, namely, the invocation of God. In this respect persecutors are rather more consistent than Pharisees who devoured widow's houses, and prayed too. The natural man, like Ishmael, loves not the spiritual seed, is very jealous of it, and would fain destroy it, because it is beloved of God; yet the natural man does not seek after the like favour from God. The carnal mind envies those who obtain mercy, and yet it will not seek mercy itself. It plays the dog in the manger. Sinners will out of a malicious jealousy devour those who pray, but yet they will not pray themselves.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 4. Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge? Conscience is a means to curb and restrain, control and rebuke corrupt nature, and the swelling forms of it. It is not there as a native inhabitant, but as a garrison planted in a rebellious town by the great Governor of the world, to keep the rebellion of the inhabitants within compass, who else would break forth into present confusion. David, speaking of the corruption of man by nature, after this question, Whether there be not some knowledge to discover their evil doings to them? yes, says he, Have they no knowledge, who eat up my people as bread Yes; and therefore ( Psalms 53:5 ) They are often in fear, God having placed this there to overcome them with fear; and by that to restrain them from many outrages against God's people, whom in their desires, and sometimes practice, they eat up as bread Therefore this knowledge is put in as a bridle to corrupt nature, as a hook was put into Sennacherib's nostrils (Isa 37:29) to rule and tame men, and overcome them with fear. If they had no knowledge they would eat up one another, and the church, as bread; but there is their fear, says he, that is, thence it comes to pass they are kept in awe Thomas Goodwin, 1600-1679.
Verse 4. Who eat up my people as they eat bread C'est, n'en font non plus de conscience, que de manger un morceau de pain. (That is, they have no more scruple in doing this than in eating a morsel of bread.) French Margin.
Verse 4. My people. David may call the serious his people, because of his regard for them, and because they were his supporters and friends. They adhered to him in all his afflictions. ("Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God," Ruth 1:16 .) Benjamin Boothroyd, 1836.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 4. How far knowledge is and is not a restraint upon ungodliness.
Verse 4. It is a sin not to call upon God.