Verse 16-18. See Psalms on "Psalms 10:18" for further information.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 18. To judge the fatherless and the oppressed, etc. The tears of the poor fall down upon their cheeks, et ascendunt ad coelum, and go up to heaven and cry for vengeance before God, the judge of widows, the father of widows and orphans. Poor people be oppressed even by laws. Woe worth to them that make evil laws against the poor, what shall be to them that hinder and mar good laws? What will ye do in the day of great vengeance when God shall visit you? he saith he will hear the tears of the poor women, when he goeth on visitation. For their sake he will hurt the judge, be he never so high, he will for widows' sakes change realms, bring them into temptation, pluck the judges' skins over their heads. Cambyses was a great emperor, such another as our master is, he had many lord deputies, lord presidents, and lieutenants under him. It is a great while ago since I read the history. It chanced he had under him in one of his dominions a briber, a gift taker, a gratifier of rich men; he followed gifts as fast as he that followed the pudding; a hand maker in his office, to make his son a great man, as the old saying is, "Happy is the child whose father goeth to the devil." The cry of the poor widow came to the emperor's ear, and caused him to slay the judge quick, and laid his skin in his chair of judgment, that all judges that should give judgment afterward, should sit in the same skin. Surely it was a goodly sign, a goodly monument, the sign of the judges skin. I pray God we may once see the sign of the skin in England. Ye will say, peradventure, that this is cruelly and uncharitably spoken. No, no; I do it charitably, for a love I bear to my country. God saith, "I will visit." God hath two visitations; the first is when he revealeth his word by preachers; and where the first is accepted, the second cometh not. The second visitation is vengeance. He went to visitation when he brought the judges skin over his ears. If this word be despised, he cometh with the second visitation with vengeance. Hugh Latimer, 1480-1555.
Verse 18. Man of the earth, etc. In the eighth Psalm (which is a circular Psalm, ending as it did begin, "O Lord our God, how excellent is thy name in all the world!" That whithersoever we turn our eyes, upwards or downwards, we may see ourselves beset with his glory round about), how doth the prophet base and discountenance the nature and whole race of man; as may appear by his disdainful and derogatory interrogation, "What is man that thou art mindful of him; and the Son of Man, that thou regardest him?" In Ps 9:19-20, "Rise, Lord; let not man have the upper hand; let the nations be judged in thy sight. Put them in fear, O Lord, that the heathen may know themselves to be but men." Further, in Psalms 10:18 , "Thou judgest the fatherless and the poor, that the man of the earth do no more violence."
The Psalms, as they go in order, so, I think they grow in strength, and each hath a weightier force to throw down our presumption.
- We are "men," and the "sons of men," to show our descent and propagation.
- "Men in our own knowledge," to show that conscience and experience of infirmity doth convict us.
- "Men of the earth," to show our original matter whereof we are framed. In Psalms 22:1-31 , he addeth more disgrace; for either in his own name, regarding the misery and contempt wherein he was held, or in the person of Christ, whose figure he was, as if it were robbery for him to take upon him the nature of man, he falleth to a lower style, at ego sum vermis et non vir; but I am a worm, and no man. For as corruption is the father of all flesh, so are the worms his brethren and sisters according to the old verse --
"First man, next worms, then stench and loathsomeness, Thus man to no man alters by changes."
Abraham, the father of the faithful ( Genesis 18:27 ), sifts himself into the coarsest man that can be, and resolves his nature into the elements whereof it first rose: "Behold I have begun to speak to my Lord, being dust and ashes." And if any of the children of Abraham, who succeed him in the faith, or any of the children of Adam, who succeed him in the flesh, thinketh otherwise, let him know that there is a threefold cord twisted by the finger of God, that shall tie him to his first original, though he contend till his heart break. "O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord" ( Jeremiah 22:29 ); that is, earth by creation, earth by continuance, earth by resolution. Thou camest earth, thou remainest earth, and to earth thou must return. John King.
Verse 18. The man of the earth. Man dwelling in the earth, and made of earth. Thomas Wilcocks.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS