Psalm 9:17
The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.
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(17) The wicked.—This is a most unfortunate rendering. The true translation is, the wicked shall return, as in LXX. and Vulg. (not “be turned”) to the grave, i.e., to dust, according to the doom in Genesis 3:19, or to the unseen world, as in Job 30:23; Psalm 90:1-3; or the verbs may be imperative, as in LXX. and Vulg., let them return. The verse is closely connected with the previous one. The wicked are bringing about their own destruction, and so witnessing to the righteous judgment of Jehovah. There is an intensity about the original word, lisheôlah, with its double sign of direction, “right down to the world of death.” And all.—Better, the heathen all, forgetters of God.

Psalm 9:17. The wicked shall be turned into hell — Either, 1st, Into the grave, which is often called שׁאול, sheol, into which persons are said to be turned, or to return, because they were made of, or taken out of, the dust, Ecclesiastes 12:7; or, 2d, Into the place of eternal perdition, which also is sometimes called sheol, as Proverbs 15:24, and elsewhere. For he seems evidently to speak here of those punishments which are peculiar to the wicked, whereas the grave is common to the good and bad: and, as in Psalm 9:8, he appears to speak of the last and general judgment of all the world, so this verse may be understood of the general punishment of all wicked persons and nations consequent upon that judgment; and, into this place men may be said to be turned back, or to return, because it is their own proper place, (Acts 1:25,) to which they belong, and from which they have their wicked qualities, as being of their father the devil. For as “all wickedness,” says Dr. Horne, “came, originally, with the wicked one, from hell; thither it will be again remitted, and they who hold on its side must accompany it on its return to that place of torment, there to be shut up for ever.” And all the nations — Whom neither their great numbers nor power can protect from God’s wrath; that forget God — That do not consider nor regard him, nor his precepts, nor his threatenings and judgments; but go on securely and presumptuously in their wicked ways. Observe well, reader, forgetfulness of God is the primary cause of the wickedness of mankind, and there are whole nations, immense multitudes of persons, that forget him, though he is their Maker, Preserver, and Benefactor, and the Being on whom they are daily dependant for all things, and who live without him in the world; of all whom hell will at last be the portion, the pit of destruction in which they, and all their comforts, will be for ever lost and buried. Consider this well, and turn to the Lord with all thy heart.

9:11-20 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.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.

17. shall be turned—or, "shall turn," retreating under God's vengeance, and driven by Him to the extreme of destruction, even hell itself. Those who forget God are classed with the depraved and openly profane.17 The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.

18 For the needy shall not alway be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.

Psalm 9:17

The justice which has punished the wicked, and preserved the righteous, remains the same, and therefore in days to come, retribution will surely be meted out. How solemn is the seventeenth verse, especially in its warning to forgetters of God. The moral who are not devout, the honest who are not prayerful, the benevolent who are not believing, the amiable who are not converted, these must all have their portion with the openly wicked in the hell which is prepared for the devil and his angels. There are whole nations of such; the forgetters of God are far more numerous than the profane or profligate, and according to the very forceful expression of the Hebrew, the nethermost hell will be the place into which all of them shall be hurled headlong. Forgetfulness seems a small sin, but it brings eternal wrath upon the man who lives and dies in it.

Psalm 9:18

Mercy is as ready to her work as ever justice can be. Needy souls fear that they are forgotten; well, if it be so, let them rejoice that they shall not alway be so. Satan tells poor tremblers that their hope shall perish, but they have here divine assurance that their expectation shall not perish for ever. "The Lord's people are a humbled people, afflicted, emptied, sensible of need, driven to a daily attendance on God, daily begging of him, and living upon the hope of what is promised;" such persons may have to wait, but they shall find that they do not wait in vain.

Into hell; either

1. Into the grave which is oft called sheol, into which they are said to be turned, or to return, because they were made of or taken out of the dust, Ecclesiastes 12:7. Or,

2. Into the place of eternal perdition; which also is sometimes called sheol, as Proverbs 15:24, and elsewhere. For he seems to speak here of those punishments which are peculiar to the wicked, whereas the grave is common to good and bad. And as, Psalm 9:8, he seems to speak of the last and general judgment of all the world, so this verse may be understood of the general punishment of all persons and nations consequent upon it. And into this place wicked men may be said to be turned back, or to return; either,

1. Because it is their own proper place, Acts 1:25, to which they belong, and from which they have their original and their wicked qualities, as being of their father the devil, John 8:44; in which respect the locusts (who are by all interpreters understood to be living men) are said to come out of the bottomless pit, Revelation 9:2,3. Or,

2. Because they had set themselves as it were in battle array against God, and were beaten back and driven from his presence into their graves, and into hell itself.

All the nations; whom their great numbers and power cannot protect from God’s wrath.

That forget God; that do not consider nor regard God, nor his precepts, nor his threatenings and judgments, but go on securely and presumptuously in their oppressive and wicked courses.

The wicked shall be turned into hell,.... Some render it, "shall return to the grave" (p), to the earth, the original dust from whence they came; but this is common to all men, to the righteous as well as the wicked; rather here signifies the place of torment, commonly called hell, where devils and damned spirits are; hither the souls of the wicked go immediately upon their departure from their bodies, Luke 16:23; and after the judgment is over, they will be remanded thither in soul and body; and their damnation is called the destruction of soul and body in hell; which will consist in an everlasting separation from God, and in a sense of his wrath and fiery indignation: and though this is true of all the wicked, yet here that wicked one, antichrist, and his wicked followers, are chiefly designed; even the beast and false prophet, who shall be cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone, Revelation 19:20;

and all the nations that forget God; which is not to be understood of the Pagan nations, though they may be said to forget God, since he is to be known by the light of nature, and yet they worship idols, the works of their hands; but the Papal nations, who adore the pope of Rome as God on earth, worship angels and saints departed, and images of gold and silver, and wood and stone. It may be applied to every wicked man who forgets there is a God who sees and knows all things, and to whom men are accountable; see Psalm 50:22.

(p) "revertentur ad vel in sepulchrum", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.
17. R.V. rightly:

The wicked shall return to Sheol,

Even all the nations that forget God.

Sheol is not hell as the place of torment. What is meant is that the career of the wicked in this world will be cut short by the judgement of God. Cp. Psalm 55:15, Psalm 63:9. But why ‘return?’ Man must ‘return’ unto the ground from which he was taken, to the dust of which he was made, to his elementary atoms (Genesis 3:19; Psalm 104:29; Psalm 90:3). A still closer parallel is to be found in the words of Job (Job 30:23) ‘unto death wilt thou make me return.’ Cp. too Job 1:21. The shadowy existence in Sheol to which man passes at death is comparable to the state of non-existence out of which he was called at birth. “From the great deep to the great deep he goes.” There Job will have no more enjoyment of life, there ‘the wicked’ will have no more power for evil.

that forget God] Cp. Psalm 50:22; Job 8:13, for the phrase, and Psalm 10:4 for the thought. Observe that it is God, not Jehovah; the nations could not know Him in His character of the God of revelation, but even to them “he left not himself without witness” (Acts 14:17), but manifested to them what they could know concerning Himself (Romans 1:18-23). Deliberate wickedness, especially as shewn in antagonism to God’s chosen people, implied a culpable forgetfulness of God.

17, 18. Stanza of Yod. Confident anticipation for the future, arising naturally out of the contemplation of Jehovah’s recent judgement.

Verse 17. - The wicked shall be tamed into hell; literally, shall be turned backwards to Sheol, or Hades; i.e. shall be removed from earth to the place of departed spirits. There is no direct threat of retribution or punishment, beyond the peens damni, or loss of all that is pleasing and delightful in this life. And all the nations that forget God; rather, even all the people (Kay). "The wicked" and "the people that forget God" are identical. Psalm 9:17(Heb.: 9:18-19) Just as in Psalm 9:8. the prospect of a final universal judgment was opened up by Jahve's act of judgment experienced in the present, so here the grateful retrospect of what has just happened passes over into a confident contemplation of the future, which is thereby guaranteed. The lxx translates ישׁוּבוּ by αποστραφήτωσαν, Jer. convertantur, a meaning which it may have (cf. e.g., 2 Chronicles 18:25); but why should it not be ἀναστραφήτωσαν, or rather: ἀναστραφήσονται, since Psalm 9:19 shows that Psalm 9:18 is not a wish but a prospect of that which is sure to come to pass? To be resolved into dust again, to sink away into nothing (redactio in pulverem, in nihilum) is man's return to his original condition, - man who was formed from the dust, who was called into being out of nothing. To die is to return to the dust, Psalm 104:29, cf. Genesis 3:19, and here it is called the return to Sheτl, as in Job 30:23 to death, and in Psalm 90:3 to atoms, inasmuch as the state of shadowy existence in Hades, the condition of worn out life, the state of decay is to a certain extent the renewal (Repristination) of that which man was before he came into being. As to outward form לשׁאולה may be compared with לישׁעתה in Psalm 80:3; the ל in both instances is that of the direction or aim, and might very well come before שׁאולה, because this form of the word may signify both ἐν ᾅδου and εἰς ᾅδου (cf. מבּבלה Jeremiah 27:16). R. Abba ben Zabda, in Genesis Rabba cap. 50, explains the double sign of the direction as giving intensity to it: in imum ambitum orci. The heathen receive the epithet of שׁכחי אלהים (which is more neuter than שׁכחי, Psalm 50:22); for God has not left them without a witness of Himself, that they could not know of Him, their alienation from God is a forgetfulness of Him, the guilt of which they have incurred themselves, and from which they are to turn to God (Isaiah 19:22). But because they do not do this, and even rise up in hostility against the nation and the God of the revelation that unfolds the plan of redemption, they will be obliged to return to the earth, and in fact to Hades, in order that the persecuted church may obtain its longed for peace and its promised dominion. Jahve will at last acknowledge this ecclesia pressa; and although its hope seems like to perish, inasmuch as it remains again and again unfulfilled, nevertheless it will not always continue thus. The strongly accented לא rules both members of Psalm 9:19, as in Psalm 35:19; Psalm 38:2, and also frequently elsewhere (Ewald 351, a). אביון, from אבה to wish, is one eager to obtain anything equals a needy person. The Arabic ‛bâ, which means the very opposite, and according to which it would mean "one who restrains himself," viz., because he is obliged to, must be left out of consideration.
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