Verse 9. The Lord preserveth the strangers. Many monarchs hunted aliens down, or transported them from place to place, or left them as outlaws unworthy of the rights of man; but Jehovah made special laws for their shelter within his domain. In this country the stranger was, a little while ago, looked upon as a vagabond, -- a kind of wild beast to be avoided if not to be assaulted; and even to this day there are prejudices against foreigners which are contrary to our holy religion. Our God and King is never strange to any of his creatures, and if any are left in a solitary and forlorn condition he has a special eye to their preservation.
He relieveth the fatherless and widow. These excite his compassion, and he shows it in a practical way by upraising them from their forlorn condition. The Mosaic law made provision for these destitute persons. When the secondary fatherhood is gone the child falls back upon the primary fatherhood of the Creator; when the husband of earth is removed the godly widow casts herself upon the care of her Maker.
But the way of the wicked he turneth upside down. He fills it with crooked places; he reverses it, sets it down, or upsets it. That which the man aimed at he misses, and he secures that for himself which he would gladly have avoided. The wicked man's way is in itself a turning of things upside down morally, and the Lord makes it so to him providentially: everything goes wrong with him who goes wrong.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 9. The LORD preserveth the strangers. God has peculiar love for wanderers and pilgrims ( Deuteronomy 10:18 ), and Jacob was a stranger in a strange land when God showed himself to be the God of Jacob as his elect servant. --Thomas Le Blanc.
Verse 9. The Lord preserveth the strangers. They who do not belong to Babylon, nor to this world, but the true pilgrims in a strange land. --Robert Bellarmine.
Verse 9. He relieveth the fatherless and the widow. The olive tree is not to be twice shaken, the vineyard is not to be twice gathered, nor are the sheaves of corn left in the fields to be gleaned; all that belongs to the poor, to the widow and the orphan. It was allowable to pluck with the hand the ears of corn while passing through a neighbour's field ( Deuteronomy 23:25 ), though a sickle might not be used. The law cares most anxiously for widows and orphans, for "God is a father of the fatherless and a judge of the widows" (Ps 68:5). A widow's raiment might not be taken in pledge, and both widows and orphans were to be invited to their feasts. An institution specially designed for the protection and relief of the poor was the second tithe, the so called poor's tithe. The first tithe belonged to the Levites. What remained over was again tithed, and the produce of this second tithe, devoted in the first two years to a feast in the sanctuary at the offering of firstfruits, was devoted in the third year to a feast in the dwelling house, to which the Levites and the strangers, the widows and the orphans, were invited ( Deuteronomy 14:28-29 Deuteronomy 26:12-13 ). --G. Uhlhorn, in "Christian Charity in the Ancient Church", 1883.
Verse 9. The way of the wicked he turneth upside down. He overturns their plans, defeats their schemes; makes their purposes accomplish what they did not intend they should accomplish: The Hebrew word here means to bend, to curve, to make crooked, to distort; then, to overturn, to turn upside down. The same word is applied to the conduct of the wicked, in Psalms 119:78 : "They dealt perversely with me." The idea here is that the path is not a straight path; that God makes it a crooked way; that they are diverted from their design; that through them he accomplishes purposes which they did not intend; that he prevents their accomplishing their own designs; and that he will make their plans subservient to a higher and better purpose than their own. This is the eleventh reason why those who put their trust in God are happy. It is that God is worthy of confidence and love, because he has all the plans of wicked men entirely under his control. -- Albert Barnes.
Verse 9. The way of the wicked he turneth upside down. As the potter's clay, when the potter hath spent some time and pains in tempering and forming it upon the wheel, and now the vessel is even almost brought to its shape, a man that stands by may, with the least push, put it clean out of shape, and mar all on a sudden that he hath been so long a making: so is it that all the plots and contrivances of wicked men, all their turning of things upside down shall be but as the potter's clay; for when they think they have brought all to maturity, ripeness, and perfection, when they look upon their business as good as done, all on a sudden all their labour is lost; for God, who stands by all the while and looks on, will, with one small touch, with the least breath of his wrath, blast and break all in pieces. --Edlin, 1656.
Verse 9. The way of the wicked he turneth upside down. All the ten clauses preceding lift up the poor saint step by step, higher and higher. At one word suddenly, like Satan falling as lightning from heaven, the wicked are shown dashed down the whole way from the summit of pride to the depths of hell. --Johannes Paulus Palanterius.
Verse 9. The way of the wicked he turneth upside down. A striking illustration of the folly of counting God out of one's plans for life is given in the course of William M. Tweed, whose death is recently announced. Here was a man who sought wealth and power, and who for a time seemed successful in their pursuit. Apparently he did not propose to obey God or to live for a life to come. What he wanted was worldly prosperity. He thought he had it. He went to Congress. He gathered his millions. He controlled the material interests of the metropolis of his country. He openly defied public sentiment and courts of justice in the prosecution of his plans. He was a brilliant and therefore a dangerous example of successful villainy. But the promise of prosperity for the life which now is, is only to the godly. As William M. Tweed lay dying in a prison house in the city he once ruled, his confession of bitter disappointment was, "My life has been a failure in everything. There is nothing I am proud of." If any young man wants to come to an end like this, the way to it is simple and plain. "The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors." "The way of the wicked he turneth upside down." --American Sunday School Times, 1878.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 9. Observe the provision made in the Jewish law for the stranger. The way in which strangers were received by God. The truth that his chosen are strangers in the world. His design to gather in strangers in the latter days.
Verse 9. (centre clause). The claims of orphans and widows upon the people of God.
Verse 9. (last clause). Illustrated by Joseph's brethren, Haman, and others.