Psalm 143:2
And enter not into judgment with your servant: for in your sight shall no man living be justified.
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(2) And enter not.—The Divine justice has just been invoked, and now the appellant suddenly seems to deprecate it. These verses really sum up the apparent paradox of the Book of Job, as also the expressions recall that Book. (See Job 4:17; Job 9:2; Job 9:32; Job 14:3, seq., Job 15:14; Job 22:4, &c) In one breath Job frequently pours forth pathetic protestations of his innocence, and dread lest God should take him at his word and arraign him for trial. Man, in his desire to have his character vindicated before man, appeals to the just Judge, but instantly falls back with a guilty sense that before that tribunal none can stand:

“For merit lives from man to man,

And not from man, O Lord, to Thee.

Shall . . . be justified.—This follows the LXX. Better, is just.

143:1-6 We have no righteousness of our own to plead, therefore must plead God's righteousness, and the word of promise which he has freely given us, and caused us to hope in. David, before he prays for the removal of his trouble, prays for the pardon of his sin, and depends upon mercy alone for it. He bemoans the weight upon his mind from outward troubles. But he looks back, and remembers God's former appearance for his afflicted people, and for him in particular. He looks round, and notices the works of God. The more we consider the power of God, the less we shall fear the face or force of man. He looks up with earnest desires towards God and his favour. This is the best course we can take, when our spirits are overwhelmed. The believer will not forget, that in his best actions he is a sinner. Meditation and prayer will recover us from distresses; and then the mourning soul strives to return to the Lord as the infant stretches out its hands to the indulgent mother, and thirsts for his consolations as the parched ground for refreshing rain.And enter not into judgment with thy servant - Do not deal with me on the ground of justice as toward "thee;" do not mark my own offences against thee, when I plead that justice may be done as between me and my fellow-men. While I plead that thou wouldst judge righteously between me and them, I am conscious that I could not claim thy needed interposition on the ground of any righteousness toward thee. There I must confess that I am a sinner; there I can rely only on mercy; there I could not hope to be justified.

For in thy sight - As before thee; in thy presence; by thee.

Shall no man living - No one of the race, no matter what his rank, his outward conduct, his gentleness, his amiableness, his kindness; no matter how just and upright he may be toward his fellow-men.

Be justified - Be regarded as righteous; be acquitted from blame; be held to be innocent. The meaning is, "I do not come before thee and plead for thy favor on the ground of any claim on thee, for I am conscious that I am a sinner, and that my only hope is in thy mercy." See the notes at Romans 3:20. Compare Job 4:17; Job 9:2, Job 9:20; Job 15:14-16; Job 25:4-6. This is a great and momentous truth in regard to man; it is the foundation of the necessity for a plan of salvation through an atonement - for some way in which man "may" properly be regarded and treated as righteous. Assuredly every man, conscious of what he is in himself, may and should fervently pray that God "would" not enter into judgment with him; that he would not mark his offences; that he would not judge him as strict justice would demand. Our hope is in the "mercy," not in the "justice" of God.

2. enter … judgment—deal not in strict justice.

shall no … justified—or, "is no man justified," or "innocent" (Job 14:3; Ro 3:20).

But when I appeal to thy righteousness, I do it only with respect to mine enemies, whose cause as well as their persons is worse than mine, but not in reference to thee, as if I could absolutely justify myself upon a severe trial at the tribunal of thy justice; for if thou shouldst rigorously examine all the passages of my heart and life, I dread the thoughts and consequences of it.

Be justified, to wit, upon terms of strict justice, without thy indulgence and infinite mercy. And enter not into judgment with thy servant,.... The house of judgment, as the Targum, or court of judicature; God is a Judge, and there is and will be a judgment, universal, righteous, and eternal; and there is a day fixed for it, and a judgment seat before which all must stand, and a law according to which all must be judged; but the psalmist knew he was but a man, and could not contend with God; and a sinful creature, and could not answer him for one of a thousand faults committed by him; and though his servant, yet an unprofitable one; his nature, his heart, his thoughts, words, and actions, would not bear examining, nor stand the test of the holy law of God; nor was he able to answer the demands of divine justice in his own person; and therefore pleads for pardon and acceptance through Christ and his righteousness, and entreats that God would not proceed against him in a judicial way, now nor hereafter;

for in thy sight shall no man living be justified; in a legal sense, so as to be acquitted in open court, and not condemned; that is, by the deeds of the law, as the apostle explains it, Romans 3:20; by obedience to it, by a man's own works of righteousness; because these are imperfect, are opposed to the grace of God, and would disannul the death of Christ, and encourage boasting; and much less in the sight of God; for, however men may be justified hereby in their own sight, and before men, in their esteem and account, yet not before God, the omniscient God; who sees not as man sees, and judges not according to the outward appearance, and is perfectly holy and strictly just; and none but the righteousness of Christ can make men righteous, or justify them before him; and this can and does, and presents men unblamable and irreprovable in his sight.

And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy {c} sight shall no man living be justified.

(c) He know that his afflictions were God's messengers to call him to repentance for his sins, though toward his enemies he was innocent, and in God's sight all men are sinners.

2. enter not into judgment with thy servant] Do not put me on my trial and pass sentence on me according to my deserts. For the phrase cp. Job 9:32; Job 14:3; Isaiah 3:14.

Thy servant is not a mere formal expression of humility: it denotes ‘one who is devoted to Thy service,’ and this relation is the ground of his plea. Cp. Psalm 143:12.

be justified] Rather, be righteous. Cp. Psalm 130:3, and many passages in Job, where the truth of man’s unholiness in the sight of God is emphasised, e.g. Job 4:17; Job 9:2; Job 15:14; Job 25:4. St Paul quotes this passage freely in Romans 3:20, Galatians 2:16, substituting πᾶσα σὰρξ, ‘all flesh,’ for πᾶς ζῶν.Verse 2. - And enter not into judgment with thy servant. The psalmist, having touched the point of abstract justice, shrinks from pressing it. He knows that he is not "righteous before God," and that his life and conduct "cannot endure the severity of God's judgment" (Art. XII.). He therefore "deprecates a strictly retributive treatment" (Cheyne). For in thy sight shall no man living be justified (comp. Psalm 130:3; and see also Job 4:17-19; Job 9:2; Job 15:14; Job 25:4). The prayer of the poet now becomes deep-breathed and excited, inasmuch as he goes more minutely into the details of his straitened situation. Everywhere, whithersoever he has to go (cf. on Psalm 143:8), the snares of craftily calculating foes threaten him. Even God's all-seeing eye will not discover any one who would right faithfully and carefully interest himself in him. הבּיט, look! is a graphic hybrid form of הבּט and הבּיט, the usual and the rare imperative form; cf. הביא 1 Samuel 20:40 (cf. Jeremiah 17:18), and the same modes of writing the inf. absol. in Judges 1:28; Amos 9:8, and the fut. conv. in Ezekiel 40:3. מכּיר is, as in Ruth 2:19, cf. Psalm 10, one who looks kindly upon any one, a considerate (cf. the phrase הכּיר פּנים) well-wisher and friend. Such an one, if he had one, would be עמד על־ימינו or מימינו (Psalm 16:8), for an open attack is directed to the arms-bearing right side (Psalm 109:6), and there too the helper in battle (Psalm 110:5) and the defender or advocate (Psalm 109:31) takes his place in order to cover him who is imperilled (Psalm 121:5). But then if God looks in that direction, He will find him, who is praying to Him, unprotected. Instead of ואין one would certainly have sooner expected אשׁר or כי as the form of introducing the condition in which he is found; but Hitzig's conjecture, הבּיט ימין וראה, "looking for days and seeing," gives us in the place of this difficulty a confusing half-Aramaism in ימין equals יומין in the sense of ימים in Daniel 8:27; Nehemiah 1:4. Ewald's rendering is better: "though I look to the right hand and see (וראה), yet no friend appears for me;" but this use of the inf. absol. with an adversative apodosis is without example. Thus therefore the pointing appears to have lighted upon the correct idea, inasmuch as it recognises here the current formula הבּט וּראה, e.g., Job 35:5; Lamentations 5:1. The fact that David, although surrounded by a band of loyal subjects, confesses to having no true fiend, is to be understood similarly to the language of Paul when he says in Philippians 2:20 : "I have no man like-minded." All human love, since sin has taken possession of humanity, is more or less selfish, and all fellowship of faith and of love imperfect; and there are circumstances in life in which these dark sides make themselves felt overpoweringly, so that a man seems to himself to be perfectly isolated and turns all the more urgently to God, who alone is able to supply the soul's want of some object to love, whose love is absolutely unselfish, and unchangeable, and unbeclouded, to whom the soul can confide without reserve whatever burdens it, and who not only honestly desires its good, but is able also to compass it in spite of every obstacle. Surrounded by bloodthirsty enemies, and misunderstood, or at least not thoroughly understood, by his friends, David feels himself broken off from all created beings. On this earth every kind of refuge is for him lost (the expression is like Job 11:20). There is no one there who should ask after or care for his soul, and should right earnestly exert himself for its deliverance. Thus, then, despairing of all visible things, he cries to the Invisible One. He is his "refuge" (Psalm 91:9) and his "portion" (Psalm 16:5; Psalm 73:26), i.e., the share in a possession that satisfies him. To be allowed to call Him his God - this it is which suffices him and outweighs everything. For Jahve is the Living One, and he who possesses Him as his own finds himself thereby "in the land of the living" (Psalm 27:13; Psalm 52:7). He cannot die, he cannot perish.
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