20. Shall the throne of iniquities have fellowship with thee, framing molestation for law? fd38 21. They will gather together against the soul of the righteous, and condemn the innocent blood. 22. But Jehovah has been my fortress; and my God for the rock of my confidence. 23. And he shall repay their own iniquity upon them, and shall cut them off in their wickedness; Jehovah our God shall cut them off.
20. Shall the throne of iniquities have fellowship with thee? He again derives an argument for confidence from the nature of God, it being impossible that he should show favor to the wicked, or sanction their evil devices. With God for their enemy, how could they escape being destroyed? The words have greater force from being thrown into the form of a question, to show how completely opposed all sin is to the divine nature. The term throne is used, because those against whom the present charge is brought were not common robbers or assassins, who are universally recognized as infamous, but tyrants who persecuted the Lord’s people under color of law. These, although occupying the throne which has been consecrated to God, have stained and polluted it with their crimes, and therefore have nothing in common with it. The meaning is brought out more clearly in the subsequent clause of the verse, where they are declared to be persons utterly estranged from God, who frame molestation for law, or, as the Hebrew word qj, chok, signifies, decree of law, or statute order. The Psalmist aims at those profligate judges who, under pretense of pursuing the strict course of office, perpetrate the worst species of enormities. Judges of this abandoned character, as we know, with no other view than to retain possession of a specious name for integrity, invent various excuses to defend their infamous oppressions. The meaning of the Psalmist is apparent then; and it is this, that honorable as a throne may be, so far as the name goes, it ceases to have any worth or estimation with God when abused by wicked men; for iniquity can never meet with his approbation.
21.They will gather together against the soul of the righteous. As the Hebrew word ddg, gadad, or dwg, gud, fd39signifies to collect forces or a band of men, the Psalmist evidently intimates that he had to do with leading persons of influence, and not with those merely in private station. The term implies too, that it was not merely one or two private individuals who persecuted him, and others of the Lord’s people, but a public convention. Melancholy and disgraceful must the state of matters have been, when the wicked thus ruled in lawful assembly, and those who formed the college of judges were no better than a band of robbers. The case becomes doubly vexatious, when the innocent victims of oppression are not only injured, but have a stigma fixed upon their character. And what more unseemly spectacle, than when the whole course of judicial administration is just a foul conspiracy against good and innocent men? fd40 The instance here recorded should prepare us for a like emergency, if it chance to occur in our own day, when the wicked may be permitted, in the providence of God, to mount the seat of judgment, and launch destruction upon the upright and the righteous, under color of law. Intolerable as it might seem at first sight, that persons innocent of any crime should meet with cruel persecution, even from the hands of judges, so as to be loaded with ignominy, we see that God tried his children in other times by this double species of oppression, and that we must learn to bear submissively not only with unrighteous violence, but with charges most injurious to our character, and most undeserved. fd41
22. But Jehovah has been my fortress. The Psalmist declares, that great as were the extremities to which he had been reduced, he had found sufficient help in the single protection of God; thus passing a new commendation upon his power, which had been such as alone, and unaided, to put down the mightiest endeavors — all the force and the fury of his numerous enemies. He does more than say that God was a fortress, where he might hide with safety, and from the top of which he could bid defiance to every assault. Having congratulated himself upon the divine protection, he proceeds to denounce destruction upon his enemies; for it is to be considered as God’s special prerogative to make the evil which his enemies devise against his people recoil upon their own heads. The mere defeating, and frustrating their attempts, would afford no inconsiderable display of divine justice; but the judgment of God is far more marvellously manifested when they fall into the pit which they themselves had prepared, when all the subtle plans which they have adopted for ruining the innocent end in their being destroyed by their own craftiness, and when having done their utmost, they fall by their own sword. We are slow to believe that this shall be the issue, and accordingly it is said twice — he shall cut them off — the Lord our God shall cut them off. It may be noticed also, that the Psalmist in using the expression our God, holds out a ground of encouragement to the faithful, reminding us of what he had said above, that God will not forget his own inheritance, even his people whom he has brought unto the faith of himself.
The inspired penman of this psalm, whoever he was, fd42 in exhorting the Jews to praise God in solemn assembly, states two grounds why God should be praised; the one, that he sustains by his power the world which he created, the other, that he had of his free grace adopted the Church into a gracious relationship with himself. As many take God’s praises into their lips in a hypocritical manner, he exhorts the people at the same time to be sincere, serious, and devoted in the service, and to show by the tenor of their life that they had not been chosen in vain. The more effectually to guard them against hypocrisy, he mentions that their fathers from the beginning had been of a stubborn spirit, and chargeable with ingratitude to God; and he takes notice of the dreadful punishment which fell upon them, and which might well deter their children from following in the footsteps of their rebelliousness.