Psalm 73:20

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 20. As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image. They owe their existence and prosperity to the forbearance of God, which the psalmist compares to a sleep; but as a dream vanishes so soon as a man awakes, so the instant the Lord begins to exercise his justice and call men before him, the pomp and prosperity of proud transgressors shall melt away. When God awakes to judgment, they who despise him shall be despised; they are already "such stuff as dreams are made of," but then the baseless fabric shall not leave a wreck behind. Let them flaunt the little hour, poor unsubstantial sons of dreams; they will soon be gone; when the day breaketh, and the Lord awake as a mighty man out of his sleep, they will vanish away. Who cares for the wealth of dreamland? Who indeed but fools? Lord, leave us not to the madness which covets unsubstantial wealth, and ever teach us thine own true wisdom.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 18,20. Their banqueting house is very slippery, and the feast itself a mere dream. Thomas Adams.

Verse 20. As a dream when one awaketh. The conception is rather subtle, but seems to have been shrewdly penetrated by Shakespeare, who makes the Plantagenet prince (affecting, perhaps, the airs of a ruler in God's stead) say to his discarded favourite --

"I have long dreamt of such a kind of man,
So surfeit swelled, so old and so profane,
But being awake I do not despise my dream." Henry IV.

For as it is the inertness of the sleeper's will and intellect that gives reality to the shapes and figments, the very sentiments and purposes that throng his mind; so it seems, as it were, to be the negligence and oversight of the Moral Ruler that makes to prosper the wicked or inane life and influence. So Paul says, in reference to the polytheism of the ancient world: "and the times of this ignorance God winked at." Acts 17:30 . C. B. Cayley, in "The Psalms in Metre." 1860.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 18-20. The end of the wicked is,

  1. Near: Thou hast set, etc. It may happen at any
    time.
  2. Judicial: Thou bringest, etc.
  3. Sudden: How are they, etc.
  4. Tormenting: They are utterly consumed, etc.
  5. Eternal: Left to themselves; gone from the mind of
    God; and disregarded as a dream when one awaketh. No
    after act respecting them, either for deliverance or
    annihilation.

Verse 20. The contemptible object: -- a self righteous, or boastful, or persecuting, or cavilling, or wealthy sinner when his soul is called before God.