Verse 15. Again, he wishes that his father's sins may follow up the transgressor and assist to fill the measure of his own iniquities, so that for the whole accumulated load the family may be smitten with utter extinction. A king might justly wish for such an end to fall upon an incorrigible brood of rebels; and of persecutors, continuing in the same mind, the saints might well pray for their extinction; but the passage is dark; and we must leave it so. It must be right or it would not be here, but how we cannot see. Why should we expect to understand all things? Perhaps it is more for our benefit to exercise humility, and reverently worship God over a hard text, than it would be to comprehend all mysteries.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 15. Let them be before the Lord continually. The fearful punishment of sinners is, to be always under the eye of an angry God: then the soul of the sinner is dismayed at its own deformity. --Le Blanc.
Verse 15. Let them be before the Lord continually. Lafayette, the friend and ally of Washington, was in his youth confined in a French dungeon. In the door of his ceil there was cut a small hole, just big enough for a man's eye; at that hole a sentinel was placed, whose duty it was to watch, moment by moment, till he was relieved by a change of guard. All Lafayette saw was the winking eye, but the eye was always there; look when he would, it met his gaze. In his dreams, he was conscious it was staring at him. "Oh", he says, "it was horrible; there was no escape; when he lay down and when he rose up, when he ate and when he read, that eye searched him." --"New Cyclopaedia of Illustrative Anecdote", 1875.
Verse 15-19, 29. Strict justice, and nothing more, breathes in every petition. Cannot you say, Amen! to all these petitions? Are you not glad when the wicked man falls into the ditch he has made for another's destruction, and when his mischief returns upon his own head? But you say, "These petitions are unquestionably just, but why did not the psalmist ask, not for justice, but for mercy?" The answer is, that in his public capacity, he was bound to think first about justice.
No government could stand upon the basis of forgiveness, justice must always go before mercy. Suppose that in the course of the next session Parliament should decree that henceforth, instead of justice being shown to thieves, by sending them to prison, they should be treated charitably, and compelled to restore one half of what they stole, what would honest men say about the government? The thieves would doubtless be very complimentary, but what would honest men say? Why, they would say the government had altogether failed of its function, and it would not live to be a week older. And just so, the psalmists were bound first of all to seek for the vindication and establishment of justice and truth. Like the magistrates of today, they considered first the well being of the community. This they had in view in all the calamities they sought to bring upon wrong doers. --R.A. Bertram.