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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Psalms 28:4

 

 

Requite them according to their work and according to the evil of their practices; Requite them according to the deeds of their hands; Repay them their recompense.

Adam Clarke Commentary

Give them - Is the same as thou wilt give them; a prophetic declaration of what their lot will be.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Psalms 28:4". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/psalms-28.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Give them according to their deeds - Deal righteously with them. Recompense them as they deserve.

And according to the wickedness of their endeavours - Their designs; their works; their plans.

Give them after the work of their hands - Reward them according to what they do.

Render to them their desert - A just recompense. This whole verse is a prayer that God would deal “justly” with them. There is no evidence that there is anything of vindictiveness or malice in the prayer. In itself considered, there is no impropriety in praying that “justice” may be done to the violators of law. See the general introduction, section 6.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Psalms 28:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/psalms-28.html. 1870.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

"Give them according to their work, and according to the wickedness of their doings:

Give them after the operation of their hands;

Render to them their desert.

Because they regard not the works of Jehovah,

Nor the operation of his hands,

He will break them down and not build them up."

This is a fourfold plea that God will deal with the wicked as they deserve. The plea is that God will execute justice upon the wicked enemies: (1) according to their work; (2) according to their wickedness; (3) after the operation of their hands; and (4) according to what they deserve. Such could be nothing less than absolute justice. Addis' notion that this was David's prayer, "for vengeance,"[11] misses this point altogether. Kidner properly discerned the genuine import of these words as follows:

"Nothing stings so sharply as injustice, and nothing should; so these verses are not simply vindictive, but they put into words the protest of any healthy conscience against the wrongs of the present order, and the conviction that a day of judgment is a moral necessity."[12]

In the Book of Revelation, the souls of the martyrs are represented as crying to the Lord, "How long, O Master, the Holy and True, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood upon them that dwell upon the earth" (Revelation 6:10). This also, like the passage before us, cannot be considered a sinful cry for personal vengeance, because the `martyrs' in that passage are reckoned among the redeemed. Theirs was a cry for the execution of justice, which is identical with what this passage has. As Rawlinson noted, "David here exhibits a moral nature uncorrupted by contact with the world of his day."[13]

The rewarding of evil men according to their conduct and according to what they deserve is retribution; and Rawlinson commented that, "Nothing satisfies the moral feelings of humanity except exact retribution." The passage here is a prayer for that very thing.

Now and then in the record of sordid human behavior, God has provided examples of retribution against persons of extreme wickedness.

ILLUSTRATION. The gospels carry the story of Herodias' wicked persecution of John the Baptist in which she contrived through her voluptuous dancing daughter Salome to receive "The head of John the Baptist on a platter." Behold the retribution which heaven meted out to Herod Antipas, Herodias and Salome as a direct result of their hell-born actions:

(1) Herod lost his throne. Aretas, whose daughter Herod had divorced in order to marry Herodias,[14] declared war on him and drove him out of his kingdom.

(2) Both Herod and Herodias were banished by the Roman Senate to Lyons for their shameful deeds, "Where they both perished miserably,"[15] in disgrace.

(3) And the dancing girl, Salome? What happened to her? "She died by a remarkable visitation. She fell through some treacherous ice over which she was passing and fell through it in such a manner that her head was caught while the rest of her body sank into the water, with the result that her head was practically severed by the sharp edges of the broken ice."[16] The dancing girl who received the head of John the Baptist yielded up her own head on the cutting edges of the treacherous ice.

One may indeed see the hand of God in such visitations; and the prayer of David here that all wicked men may receive "what they deserve" justifies our expectation that all wickedness shall eventually receive exactly the punishment it deserves, whether in this life or in the world to come. Regarding David's prayer here, "There is no evidence that there is anything of vindictiveness or malice in his prayer. It is a prayer for justice."[17]

"He will break them down and not build them up" (Psalms 28:5). "David, in these lines, is a prophet."[18] The grounds of this fate which God announced through David is listed in the preceding lines, "They regard not the works of Jehovah, nor the operation of his hands." The wicked men in view here appear as unbelievers, "Who have shamefully refused to recognize David as God's anointed, through whom God promised to establish an `eternal kingdom' (2 Samuel 7)."[19] In this light, Absalom and his fellowconspirators were servants of Satan himself, who was determined to prevent any such promise's fulfilment.


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James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Psalms 28:4". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/psalms-28.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Give them according to their deeds,.... According to the demerit of them, which is death, even death eternal;

and according to the wickedness of their endeavours; for though wicked men do not always succeed; yet their want of success does not excuse their wickedness;

give them after the work of their hands; see 2 Timothy 4:14;

render to them their desert; what their iniquities, in thought, word, and deed, deserve: such petitions are not contrary to that Christian charity which the Gospel recommends; nor do they savour of a spirit of revenge, which is condemned by the word of God; for it should be observed, that these things are said with respect to men given up to a reprobate mind; and that the psalmist does not seek to avenge himself, nor to gratify his own mind; but he sought the glory of God, and moreover spoke by a prophetic spirit, knowing what was the will of God in this case; see Psalm 28:5; and therefore these petitions of his are not to be drawn into an example in common and ordinary cases.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Psalms 28:4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/psalms-28.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

d Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavours: give them after the work of their hands; render to them their desert.

(d) He thus prayed in respect to God's glory and not for his own cause, being assured that God would punish the persecutors of his Church.

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Psalms 28:4". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/psalms-28.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

The imprecation is justified in Psalm 28:5. The force of the passage is greatly enhanced by the accumulation of terms describing their sin.

endeavours — points out their deliberate sinfulness.


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 28:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/psalms-28.html. 1871-8.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

4.Give them according to their works. Having thus requested God to have a regard to his innocence, the Psalmist thunders forth a curse against his enemies. And the accumulation of words shows that he had groaned long and grievously under the burden before he broke forth to desire such vengeance. He intimates that the wicked of whom he speaks had transgressed not once, nor for a short time, nor in one way, but that they had proceeded so far in their constant evil doings, that their audacity was no longer to be endured. We know how troublesome and grievous a temptation it is to see the ungodly proceeding without measure or end, as if God connived at their wickedness. David, therefore, wearied as it were with continual forbearing, and fainting under the burden, implores God, at length, to restrain the wantonness of his enemies, who of late ceased not to heap wickedness upon wickedness. Thus we perceive that there is nothing superfluous in this verse, when to works he adds the wickedness of their doings, and the work of their hands, and thrice petitions that they may receive the reward which they have deserved. Add to this, that he at the same time bears testimony to his own faith, to which boasting hypocrites often compel the children of God, while by their deceit and cavils, they impose upon the judgments of the world. We see how men who are distinguished for wickedness, not content with impunity themselves, cannot abstain from oppressing the innocent by false accusations, just as the wolf, desirous of making a prey (597) of the lambs, according to the common proverb, accused them of troubling the water. David is therefore compelled by this exigency to call upon God for protection. Here again occurs the difficult question about praying for vengeance, which, however, I shall despatch in few words, as I have discussed it elsewhere. In the first place, then, it is unquestionable, that if the flesh move us to seek revenge, the desire is wicked in the Sight of God. He not only forbids us to imprecate evil upon our enemies in revenge for private injuries, but it cannot be otherwise than that all those desires which spring from hatred must be disordered. David’s example, therefore, must not be alleged by those who are driven by their own intemperate passion to seek vengeance. The holy prophet is not inflamed here by his own private sorrow to devote his enemies to destruction; but laying aside the desire of the flesh, he gives judgment concerning the matter itself. Before a man can, therefore, denounce vengeance against the wicked, he must first shake himself free from all improper feelings in his own mind. In the second place, prudence must be exercised, that the heinousness of the evils which offend us drive us not to intemperate zeal, which happened even to Christ’s disciples, when they desired that fire might be brought from heaven to consume those who refused to entertain their Master, (Luke 9:54.) They pretended, it is true, to act according to the example of Elias; but Christ severely rebuked them, and told them that they knew not by what spirit they were actuated. In particular, we must observe this general rule, that we cordially desire and labor for the welfare of the whole human race. Thus it will come to pass, that we shall not only give way to the exercise of God’s mercy, but shall also wish the conversion of those who seem obstinately to rush upon their own destruction. In short, David, being free from every evil passion, and likewise endued with the spirit of discretion and judgment, pleads here not so much his own cause as the cause of God. And by this prayer, he farther reminds both himself and the faithful, that although the wicked may give themselves loose reins in the commission of every species of vice with impunity for a time, they must at length stand before the judgment-seat of God.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Psalms 28:4". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/psalms-28.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Psalms 28:4 Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavours: give them after the work of their hands; render to them their desert.

Ver. 4. Give them according to their deeds] God loveth to retaliate; and David, out of a public and prophetic spirit (not from private revenge, or troubled affections), taketh thus upon him to imprecate.

And according to the wickedness of their endeavours] They were therefore old, habituated, irreclaimable sinners whom he thus cursed, and against such this and such like imprecations are still in force.

Give them after the works of their hands] Because they regard not the works of thine hands, Psalms 28:5. Par pari, saith Aben Ezra here.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 28:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/psalms-28.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Psalms 28:4. Render to them their desert Their own rendering; as they have rendered to others. This verse would be translated better in the future: Thou wilt give them, &c. See the next verse.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 28:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/psalms-28.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

David useth these imprecations, partly, to vindicate himself from the slanders of his enemies, who reported him to be as wicked as they were, only more close and cunning therein; which, if he had been, he had bitterly cursed himself; which it could not reasonably be presumed that he would do; partly, from his great and long experience of their implacable and incorrigible malignity, not only against him, but against God, and his declared will, and against all truly good men, and that covered with pretences of piety to God, and of peaceableness towards their neighbours, Psalms 28:3, which made their wickedness more inexcusable and detestable; partly, by the instinct and direction of God’s Spirit, by whose inspiration he uttered this as well as the rest of the Psalm; and partly, that hereby he might provoke them to repentance; for this curse belongs only to those who shall obstinately persist in their wicked courses. Add to all this, that as verbs of the imperative mood are oft used by the Hebrews for futures, so these may not be proper imprecations, but predictions of their destruction.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 28:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/psalms-28.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

4. Give them according to their deeds—The prayer of this verse is only that justice may obtain, not for purposes of private revenge, but of public safety. The character and designs of David’s enemies must be considered.

The nation was in the tumult of rebellion and the whirl of revolution. He was the king and father of his people; and for their sakes, and for righteousness’ sake, he prays for that interposition of penal judgment which alone could save the nation.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 28:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/psalms-28.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Psalms 28:4. Give them according to their deeds, &c. — It is fit that they should suffer as they have acted, and reap the fruit of their manifold wickedness. Give them after the work of their hands, &c. — Dispense a reward to them according to their works, and deal with them as they have dealt with others. This verse would be better translated in the future; Thou wilt give, &c. For this prayer is evidently a prophecy, that God will, sooner or later, render to all impenitent sinners according to their deserts: see the next verse, and note on Psalms 5:10.


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Bibliography
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 28:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/psalms-28.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Power and magnificence. The sacraments of confirmation and the blessed Eucharist, or the wonderful propagation of the Church, amid violent persecutions. (Berthier)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Psalms 28:4". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/psalms-28.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

them. Note the Figure of speech Repetitio (App-6), for emphasis deeds = deed, or work.

endeavours = practices. work. Some codices, with Aramaean, Septuagint, and Vulgate, read "works" (plural)


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Psalms 28:4". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/psalms-28.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavours: give them after the work of their hands; render to them their desert.

Give them. "Them:" the wicked, enemies. God repays men in kind, making their sin their punishment, and the mischief which they plotted for others to recoil on themselves (Matthew 7:2; cf. the case of Haman, Esther 7:10).


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 28:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/psalms-28.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(4) Give them according to their deeds.—The justice of the lex talionis was deeply impressed on the mind of Israel, and we need not wonder to find its enforcement made the subject of prayer. A general notice of the imprecations of the Psalms will be found in the General Introduction (VI.). Here it is enough to remark that there is no indication of personal animosity or vindictiveness. The poet, even if expressing his own feelings, was identified with devout Israel, to whom it was natural not only to expect from Jehovah the manifestation of judgment which could alone remove the conditions that were so unfavourable to the true religion, but also to pray that He would at the same time vindicate Himself and justify those faithful to Him. (Comp. for the general thought Isaiah 3:8-11.) In the actual course of God’s providence, the retribution is often very accurately apportioned to the evil deed, and the Bible contains many strong instances—e.g., that of Adonibezek (Judges 1:5; Judges 1:7).


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Psalms 28:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/psalms-28.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavours: give them after the work of their hands; render to them their desert.
Give
5:10; 59:12,13; 69:22-24; Jeremiah 18:21-23; 2 Timothy 4:14; Revelation 18:6
and
2:1-5; 21:10; Ezekiel 38:10
the work
62:12; 103:10; 109:17-21; 103:3,4; Romans 2:6-8; 11:22
render
Ezra 9:13

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Psalms 28:4". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/psalms-28.html.

Ver. 4. Give them according to their conduct, and according to the wickedness of their actions: give them according to the work of their hands; make good to them their portion. This is the second petition of the Psalmist. The first was, "that the Lord would not punish him with the wicked;" the second, which is here, is, "that He would not let the wicked go unpunished." Them, that is, the wicked and evil-doers, particularly my enemies. The objection which has been taken against this prayer of the Psalmist, and so many others of a similar kind, is most assuredly an ungrounded one, inasmuch as the Psalmist prays that God would do nothing more than what He necessarily must do according to His own nature. "He practises the jus talionis according to His own righteousness. Justice reverberates: the unrighteous blow which I aim at another recoils, according to the moral government of the world, back upon myself." Compare Matthew 7:2. On גמול compare at Psalms 7:4.


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Bibliography
Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Psalms 28:4". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/psalms-28.html.

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