Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Psalms 9:17

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

The wicked shall be turned into hell - לשאולה lisholah, headlong into hell, down into hell. The original is very emphatic.

All the nations that forget God - They will not live in his fear. There are both nations and individuals who, though they know God, forget him, that is, are unmindful of of him, do not acknowledge him in their designs, ways and works. These are all to be thrust down into hell. Reader, art thou forgetful of thy Maker, and of Him who died for thee?

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

The wicked - All the wicked; all who come properly under the denomination of wicked persons. Doubtless the writer had particularly in his eye the enemies with whom he was contending, and in reference to whom the psalm wits composed; and he meant to say that they would be certainly punished. But what was true in regard to them, was true of all others of similar character, and the statement is therefore made in a universal form - all the wicked.

Shall be turned - Shall turn back, or be turned from their present course. The idea is, that they were now pursuing a certain course, but that they would be turned back from that, or would fail and retreat; and instead of going on to victory, would be defeated, and would sink into hell. The idea is essentially the same as that which is expressed in Psalm 9:3 above: “When mine enemies are turned back.”

Into hell - - לשׁאולה lishe'ôlâh - to Sheol, Hades, the grave, the world of departed spirits. This is the usual meaning of this word. See Luke 16:23, note; Isaiah 14:9, note; Job 10:21-22, note. Though the word, however, originally denoted the grave, the region of the dead, the world of departed spirits, yet it was also supposed that there was a distinction in the condition of the dead; and the word gradually came to denote the abode of the wicked portion of the dead, and hence, the place of future punishment. So it is undoubtedly used in Luke 16:23. It is clear

(a) that this cannot be understood here as referring to the grave in its ordinary sense, for the righteous will be as certainly consigned to the, grave, or will as certainly die, as the wicked;

(b) that it cannot refer to the invisible world, the abodes of the dead, in the ordinary sense of the term - for it is as true that the righteous will enter that world as that sinners will.

There must be some sense, in which the word is used here, different from that of the grave, or different merely from death as such. This sense can be only one of two - either:

(1) that the author means that they will be cut off by a sudden and violent death, considered as a calamity or as a punishment; or

(2) that he regarded the Sheol mentioned here as a place of punishment.

Calvin thinks it is not improbable that the former of these is intended; but it may be observed in regard to this,

(a) that this is not the language usually employed to denote that idea - the phrase, to be cut off, or cut down, being that which a writer intending to express that idea, would most naturally use - since the phrase, to be sent to Sheol, considered as the grave or the region of the dead, would express nothing special in regard to the wicked; and

(b) the spirit of the passage seems to demand the idea that the wicked referred to here would he consigned to a place of punishment, that they would be cut off as wicked persons, and treated accordingly.

This interpretation is strengthened by the other member of the parallelism, where it is said, “and all the nations that forget God;” since it is no more true that the nations “that forget God” will be “turned into the grave, or the world of departed spirits,” than it is that the nations that serve and obey him will. It seems to me, therefore, that this is one of the passages in which it is clear that the word Sheol had connected with it the idea of punishment beyond the grave - of a region where the wicked would be treated according to their deserts, and in a manner different from the treatment of the righteous; that although the general idea of that under-world was that it was a dark and gloomy place, yet that there was also the idea that the abode of the wicked there was far more gloomy than that of the righteous; and that it was regarded as a punishment to be consigned to that region. It is not necessary to suppose that they had the full idea attached to the word hell which we have, anymore than that they had the same full and clear idea of heaven that we have. Light has come into our world on all these subjects gradually, and there is nothing which requires us to suppose that the earlier sacred writers lind the same clear views which the later writers had, or that either of them knew all that is to be known. Compare 1 Peter 1:10-11.

And all the nations that forget God - All who are strangers to him, or who are ignorant of the true God. See the notes at Romans 2:12. From the character and prospective doom of those to whom the psalmist particularly referred in this psalm, he is led to make this general remark about all who sustain the same character which they did. Under the administration of the same God those of the same character would share alike, for “there is no respect of persons with him;” and it is the perfection of an impartial government to treat all of the same character in the same manner. If we can, therefore, ascertain how, under his administration, one sinner will be treated in the future world, we can infer how all of the same character will be treated; if we can learn how God will deal with one people, we can infer how he will deal with all. The statement here is, that all the wicked, of whatever nation, will be consigned to punishment in the future world. The phrase used here, “that forqet God,” denotes those who are not disposed or inclined to remember and honor him. The idea seems to be that though they might have known him, they did not choose to retain him in their knowledge, but gave themselves up to a life of idolatry and sin. Compare Romans 1:19-21, notes; Romans 1:28, note.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Those who believe that God is greatly to be praised, not only desire to praise him better themselves, but desire that others may join with them. There is a day coming, when it will appear that he has not forgotten the cry of the humble; neither the cry of their blood, or the cry of their prayers. We are never brought so low, so near to death, but God can raise us up. If he has saved us from spiritual and eternal death, we may thence hope, that in all our distresses he will be a very present help to us. The overruling providence of God frequently so orders it, that persecutors and oppressors are brought to ruin by the projects they formed to destroy the people of God. Drunkards kill themselves; prodigals beggar themselves; the contentious bring mischief upon themselves: thus men's sins may be read in their punishment, and it becomes plain to all, that the destruction of sinners is of themselves. All wickedness came originally with the wicked one from hell; and those who continue in sin, must go to that place of torment. The true state, both of nations and of individuals, may be correctly estimated by this one rule, whether in their doings they remember or forget God. David encourages the people of God to wait for his salvation, though it should be long deferred. God will make it appear that he never did forget them: it is not possible he should. Strange that man, dust in his and about him, should yet need some sharp affliction, some severe visitation from God, to bring him to the knowledge of himself, and make him feel who and what he is.