Verse 22. So foolish was
- He, though a saint of God, had acted as if he had been one of the fools whom God abhorreth. Had he not even envied them? -- and what is that but to aspire to be like them? The wisest of men have enough folly in them to ruin them unless grace prevents.
And ignorant. He had acted as if he knew nothing, had babbled like an idiot, had uttered the very drivel of a witless loon. He did not know how sufficiently to express his sense of his own fatuity.
I was as a beast before thee. Even in God's presence he had been brutish, and worse than a beast. As the grass eating ox has but this present life, and can only estimate things thereby, and by the sensual pleasure which they afford, even so had the psalmist judged happiness by this mortal life, by outward appearances, and by fleshly enjoyments. Thus he had, for the time, renounced the dignity of an immortal spirit, and, like a mere animal, judged after the sight of the eyes. We should be very loath to call an inspired man a beast, and yet, penitence made him call himself so; nay, he uses the plural, by way of emphasis, and as if he were worse than any one beast. It was but an evidence of his true wisdom that he was so deeply conscious of his own folly. We see how bitterly good men bewail mental wanderings; they make no excuses for themselves, but set their sins in the pillory, and cast the vilest reproaches upon them. O for grace to detest the very appearance of evil!
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 22. So foolish was I, and ignorant, etc. Is not a cavilling spirit at the Lord's dispensations bad, both in its roots and fruits? What are the roots of it but
- pride, this lifteth up ( Hebrews 2:4 );
- impatience, or want of waiting on God to see the issues of matters; so in Jonah 4:8-11 ;
- forgetfulness who the Lord is, and who man is that grumbles at his Maker, Lamentations 3:39 , Romans 9:20 . And as for the fruits, they are none of the best, but bad enough. Men are ready to flag in duty, yea, to throw it off, Romans 9:13 , and Mal 3:14; yea, in the way to blaspheme God; see Job 2:9 Malachi 3:13 Revelation 16:9 . Thomas Crane, in "A Prospect of Divine Providence." 1672.
Verse 22. I was as a beast before thee. I permitted my mind to be wholly occupied with sensible things, like the beasts that perish, and did not look into a future state, nor did I consider nor submit to the wise designs of an unerring providence. Adam Clarke.
Verse 22. I was as a beast before thee. The original has in it no word of comparison; it ought to be rather translated, I was a very beast before thee, and we are told that the Hebrew word being in the plural number, gives it a peculiar emphasis, indicating some monstrous or astonishing beast. It is the word used by Job which is interpreted "behemoth," -- "I was a very monster before thee," not only a beast, but one of the most brutish of all beasts, one of the most stubborn and intractable of all beasts. I think no man can go much lower than this in humble confession. This is a description of human nature, and of the old man in the renewed saint which is not to be excelled. C.H.S.
Verse 22. Among the many arguments to prove the penman of the Scripture inspired by the Spirit of God, this is not the last and least -- that the penmen of holy writ do record their own faults and the faults of their dearest and nearest relatives. For instance hereof, how coarsely doth David speak of himself: So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee. And do you think that the face of St. Paul did look the more foul by being drawn with his own pencil, when he says, "I was a murderer, a persecutor, the greatest of sinners," etc? This is not usual in the writings of human authors, who praise themselves to the utmost of what they could, and rather than lose a drop of applause they will lick it up with their own tongues. Tully writes very copiously in setting forth the good service which he did the Roman state, but not a word of his covetousness, of his affecting popular applause, of his pride and vain glory, of his mean extraction and the like. Whereas, clean contrary, Moses sets down the sin and punishment of his own sister, the idolatry and superstition of Aaron his brother, and his own fault in his preposterous striking the rock, for which he was excluded the land of Canaan. Thomas Fuller.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 22. Our folly, ignorance, and brutishness. When displayed. What effect the fact should have upon us; and how greatly it illustrates divine grace.
- The psalmist's confession concerning the flesh.
- The faithful expressions of the spirit.
- The conclusion of the whole matter. See "Spurgeon's Sermons," No.