Verse 3. Defend the poor and fatherless. Cease to do evil, learn to do well. Look not to the interests of the wealthy whose hands proffer you bribes, but protect the rights of the needy, and especially uphold the claims of orphans whose property too often becomes a prey. Do not hunt down the peasant for gathering a few sticks, and allow the gentlemanly swindler to break through the meshes of the law.
Do justice to the afflicted and needy. Even they can claim from you as judge no more than justice; your pity for their circumstances must not make you hold the scales unfairly: but if you give them no more than justice, at least be sure that you give them that to the full. Suffer not the afflicted to be further afflicted by enduring injustice, and let not the needy long stand in need of an equitable hearing.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. Asaph, who has written so much in the previous Psalms of the coming of Christ in the flesh, now speaks of his second coming to judgment. Josephus Maria Thomasius. 1649-1713.
Verse 3. It is said of Francis the First, of France, that when a woman kneeled to him to beg justice, he bade her stand up; for, said he, Woman, it is justice that I owe thee, and justice thou shalt have; if thou beg anything of me, let it be mercy. A happy place and people surely, where justice (as it seemeth), was not extorted, but dropt as kindly as honey from the comb; where there was no sale of offices, no exchanging of fees, no subtleties of delay, no trucking for expedition, no making snares of petty and penal statutes: where Justice had scales in her hand, not to weigh gold, but equity: where judges and magistrates were as Noah's ark, to take in weary doves, and as the horns of the altar, for oppressed innocency to betake himself unto; where lawyers, advocates, pleaders, did not call evil good, or good evil, bitter sweet, etc., where plaintiffs and accusers did not inform or persecute through malice, envy, or for advantage; where subordinate officers durst not help potent delinquents out of the briars, nor suffer poor men, tempest tossed in law, to languish in their business within ken of harbour for want of giving a sop to Cerberus, or sacrificing to the great Diana of expedition; where those setting dogs, such as base, promoting informers, were not countenanced, and severely punished upon any false, unjust, or malicious information. To close up all, where the magistrate owed justice to the people, and paid it; where the people begged for mercy and had it. William Price. 1642.
Verse 3-4. The touchstone of magistrates' justice is in the causes and cases of the poor, fatherless, afflicted, and needy, who are not able to attend long their suits of law, have no friends nor money to deal for them; to whom, therefore, the mighty should be eyes to direct them, and a staff to their weakness, to support and help them in their right. David Dickson.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 3. A plea for orphans.