Mark the perfect man - Him who is described above. Take notice of him: he is perfect in his soul, God having saved him from all sin, and filled him with his own love and image. And he is upright in his conduct; and his end, die when he may or where he may, is peace, quietness, and assurance for ever.
Almost all the Versions translate the Hebrew after this manner: Preserve innocence, and keep equity in view; for the man of peace shall leave a numerous posterity.
Bishop Horsley thus translates: "Keep (thy) loyalty, and look well to (thy) integrity; for a posterity is (appointed) for the perfect man." He comes nearer to the original in his note on this verse: "Keep innocency, and regard uprightness; for the perfect man hath a posterity:" "but the rebellious shall be destroyed together; the posterity of the wicked shall be cut off," Psalm 37:38.
Dr. Kennicott's note is," אחרית acharith, which we render latter end, is posterity, Psalm 109:13. The wicked and all his race to be destroyed, the pious man to have a numerous progeny, see his sons' sons to the third and fourth generation. See Job 8:19; Job 18:13-20."
I think the original cannot possibly bear our translation. I shall produce it here, with the literal version of Montanus: -
pax viro novissimum quia; rectum vide et, integrum cutodi שלוםנ לאישנ אחריתנ כינ ישרנ וראהנ תםנ שמר The nearest translation to this is that of the Septuagint and Vulgate: Φυλασσε ακακιαν, και ιδε ευθυτητα, ὁτι εστιν εγκαταλειμμα ανθρωπῳ ειρηνικῳ· Custodi innocentiam, et vide aequitatem; quoniam, sunt reliquiae homini pacifico. "Preserve innocence, and behold equity; seeing there is a posterity to the pacific man." The Syriac says, "Observe simplicity, and choose rectitude; seeing there is a good end to the man of peace." The reader may choose. Our common version, in my opinion, cannot be sustained. The Psalm 37:38; seems to confirm the translation of the Septuagint and the Vulgate, which are precisely the same in meaning; therefore I have given one translation for both.
The old Psalter deserves a place also: Kepe unnoyandnes, and se evenhede; for tha celykes er til a pesful man.
Mark the perfect man - In contrast with what happens to the wicked. The word “perfect” here is used to designate a righteous man, or a man who serves and obeys God. See the notes at Job 1:1. The word “mark” here means “observe, take notice of.” The argument is, “Look upon that man in the end, in contrast with the prosperous wicked man. See how the close of life, in his case, differs from that of a wicked man, though the one may have been poor and humble, and the other rich and honored.” The point of the psalmist‘s remark turns on the end, or the “termination” of their course; and the idea is, that the end of the two is such as to show that there is an advantage in religion, and that God is the friend of the righteous. Of course this is to be understood in accordance with the main thought in the psalm, as affirming what is of general occurrence.
And behold the upright - Another term for a pious man. Religion makes a man upright; and if a man is not upright in his dealings with his fellow-man, or if what he professes does not make him do “right,” it is the fullest proof that he has no true piety, 1 John 3:7-8.
For the end of that man is peace - DeWette renders this, Denn Nachkommen hat der Mann Friedens; “For a future has the man of peace.” So it is rendered by the Latin Vulgate: Sunt reliquiae homini pacifico. So the Septuagint. So also Hengstenberg, Rosenmuller, and Prof. Alexander. Tholuck renders it, as in our version, “It shall go well at last to such man.” It seems to me that the connection demands this construction, and the authority of Tholuck is sufficient to prove that the Hebrew will admit of it. The word rendered “end” - אחרית 'achărı̂yth - means properly the last or extreme part; then, the end or issue of anything - that which comes after it; then, the after time, the future, the hereafter: Isaiah 2:2; Micah 4:1; Genesis 49:1; Daniel 10:14. It may, therefore, refer to anything future; and would be well expressed by the word “hereafter;” the “hereafter” of such a man. So it is rendered “my last end” in Numbers 23:10; “latter end,” Numbers 24:20; “their end,” in Psalm 73:17. It “might,” therefore, refer to all the future. The connection - the contrast with what happens to the wicked, Psalm 37:36, Psalm 37:38 - would seem to imply that it is used here particularly and especially with reference to the close of life. The contrast is between the course of the one and that of the other, and between the “termination” of the one course and of the other. In the one case, it is ultimate disaster and ruin; in the other, it is ultimate peace and prosperity. The one “issues in,” or is “followed by” death and ruin; the other is succeeded by peace and salvation. Hence, the word may be extended without impropriety to all the future - the whole hereafter. The word “peace” is often employed in the Scriptures to denote the effect of true religion:
(a) as implying reconciliation with God, and
(b) as denoting the calmness, the tranquility, and the happiness which results from such reconciliation, from his friendship, and from the hope of heaven.
See John 14:27; John 16:33; Romans 5:1; Romans 8:6; Galatians 5:22; Philemon 4:7. The meaning here, according to the interpretation suggested above, is, that the future of the righteous man - the whole future - would be peace;
(a) as a general rule, peace or calmness in death as the result of religion; and
(b) in the coming world, where there will be perfect and eternal peace.
As a usual fact religious men die calmly and peacefully, sustained by hope and by the presence of God; as a univeral fact, they are made happy forever beyond the grave.
Jacob had ever been a man of deep and ardent affection; his love for his sons was strong and tender, and his dying testimony to them was not the utterance of partiality or resentment. He had forgiven them all, and he loved them to the last. His paternal tenderness would have found expression only in words of encouragement and hope; but the power of God rested upon him, and under the influence of Inspiration he was constrained to declare the truth, however painful. PP 237.1
The last blessings pronounced, Jacob repeated the charge concerning his burial place: “I am to be gathered unto my people: bury me with my fathers ... in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah.” “There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah.” Thus the last act of his life was to manifest his faith in God's promise. PP 237.2
Jacob's last years brought an evening of tranquillity and repose after a troubled and weary day. Clouds had gathered dark above his path, yet his sun set clear, and the radiance of heaven illumined his parting hours. Says the Scripture, “At evening time it shall be light.” Zechariah 14:7. “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.” Psalm 37:37. PP 237.3
Jacob had sinned, and had deeply suffered. Many years of toil, care, and sorrow had been his since the day when his great sin caused him to flee from his father's tents. A homeless fugitive, separated from his mother, whom he never saw again; laboring seven years for her whom he loved, only to be basely cheated; toiling twenty years in the service of a covetous and grasping kinsman; seeing his wealth increasing, and sons rising around him, but finding little joy in the contentious and divided household; distressed by his daughter's shame, by her brothers’ revenge, by the death of Rachel, by the unnatural crime of Reuben, by Judah's sin, by the cruel deception and malice practiced toward Joseph—how long and dark is the catalogue of evils spread out to view! Again and again he had reaped the fruit of that first wrong deed. Over and over he saw repeated among his sons the sins of which he himself had been guilty. But bitter as had been the discipline, it had accomplished its work. The chastening, though grievous, had yielded “the peaceable fruit of righteousness.” Hebrews 12:11. PP 237.4Read in context »
Now, in probationary time, we are all on test and trial. Satan is working with his deceiving enchantments and bribes, and some will think that by their schemes they have made a wonderful speculation. But lo, as they thought they were rising securely and were carrying themselves loftily in selfishness, they learned that God can scatter faster than they can gather. TM 336.1
“I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.” He who sees the end from the beginning, and who brings order out of confusion, is doing all things well. We will view another side of the picture: “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.” The word of God is offering all the preparation for eternal life. Our faith must be a faith that works by love and purifies the soul, not defies faith and practice. Do we believe the word of God? Are all who profess the truth faithful and true, steadfast to principle? Are we doing missionary work in the spirit of Christ? TM 336.2
There are men who stand in the pulpits as shepherds, professing to feed the flock, while the sheep are starving for the bread of life. There are long-drawn-out discourses, largely made up of the relation of anecdotes; but the hearts of the hearers are not touched. The feelings of some may be moved, they may shed a few tears, but their hearts are not broken. The Lord Jesus has been present when they have been presenting that which was called sermons, but their words were destitute of the dew and rain of heaven. They evidenced that the anointed ones described by Zechariah (see chapter 4) had not ministered to them that they might minister to others. When the anointed ones empty themselves through the golden pipes, the golden oil flows out of themselves into the golden bowls, to flow forth into the lamps, the churches. This is the work of every true, devoted servant of the living God. The Lord God of heaven cannot approve much that is brought into the pulpit by those who are professedly speaking the word of the Lord. They do not inculcate ideas that will be a blessing to those who hear. There is cheap, very cheap fodder placed before the people. TM 336.3Read in context »