For the rod of the worked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous - Rod, here. may be taken for persecution, or for rule; and then it may be thus interpreted: "The wicked shall not be permitted to persecute always, nor to have a permanent rule." In our liturgic version this clause is thus rendered: "The rod of the ungodly cometh not into the lot of the righteous." "This," said one of our forefathers, "is neither truth nor scripture. First, it is not truth; for the rod of the wicked doth come into the inheritance of the righteous, and that often. Secondly, it is not scripture, for the text saith, 'The rod of the wicked shall not rest there.' It may come, and stay for a time; but it shall not be permitted to abide." This is only one, and not the worst, of the many sad blemishes which deform the Version in our national Prayer-book. In short, the Version of the Psalms in that book is wholly unworthy of regard; and should be thrown aside, and that in the authorized Version in the Bible substituted for it. The people of God are misled by it; and they are confounded with the great and glaring differences they find between it and what they findd in their Bibles, where they have a version of a much better character, delivered to them by the authority of Church and state. Why do not our present excellent and learned prelates lay this to heart, and take away this sore stumbling-block out of the way of the people? I have referred to this subject in the introduction to the Book of Psalms.
Lest the righteous put forth - Were the wicked to bear rule in the Lord's vineyard, religion would soon become extinct; for the great mass of the people would conform to their rulers. Fear not your enemies, while ye fear God. Neither Sanballat, nor Tobiah, nor Geshem, nor any of God's foes, shall be able to set up their rod, their power and authority, here. While you are faithful, the Lord will laugh them to scorn.
For the rod of the wicked - Margin, as in Hebrew, “wickedness.” The word “rod” - the staff, the scepter, the instrument of inflicting punishment - here means dominion, power, that condition in which the wicked are commonly found, as one of prosperity or power. God will not deal with the righteous as the wicked are often dealt with: that is, God will not give his people prosperity as he does them. The righteous will be afflicted, and will be placed in circumstances to keep them from putting forth their hands to iniquity; that is, from indulging in iniquity. They will be afflicted; they will be kept in the ways of virtue and religion by trial; they will not be left to act out the depravity of the heart as the wicked are.
Shall not rest upon - Permanently abide; or, be the constant condition of the righteous. They may be prospered, but they must expect that there will be changes, and that God will so deal with them as to keep them from putting forth their hands to iniquity.
The lot of the righteous - The righteous, considered as the “lot” or portion of the Lord. The language is derived from dividing a land by lot (compare Psalm 105:11; Psalm 74:2); and the idea is, that the “lot” pertaining to the Lord, or his “portion” among people, is the righteous.
Lest the righteous put forth their hands unto iniquity - Lest the effect of prosperity should be to lead them away from God - like the wicked. Hence, they are dealt with in a different manner. They are afflicted; they are thus kept under proper discipline, and their hearts and lives are made what they should be. The statement in this verse, therefore, accords with the uniform statements in the Scriptures, that prosperity is dangerous to the spiritual interests of people, and that, therefore, people are often afflicted in order that they may be led to seek higher interests than those which pertain to this life. The connection here seems to be, that God will defend his people, even as Jerusalem was defended by hills and mountains; but that the real welfare and prosperity of his people was not what the wicked seek - wealth and honor - but the favor of the Lord. Another meaning may, however, be suggested in regard to this verse, which to some may appear more probable than the one above. It is this: that the “rod” - the dominion of the wicked - of bad rulers - of a harsh and oppressive government - will not always be upon the people of God, lest, being crushed, they should be led to acts of iniquity; or lest, being kept from the free service of God, they should abandon themselves to sin.
“They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth forever. As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about His people from henceforth even forever.” “He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence: and precious shall their blood be in His sight.” Psalm 125:1-3; 72:14. AA 86.1
“The Lord of hosts shall defend them; ... the Lord their God shall save them in that day as the flock of His people: for they shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon His land.” Zechariah 9:15, 16. AA 86.2Read in context »