Render to them a recompense, O LORD, according to the work of their hands.
Whatever the feelings in the prophet's heart may have been, at all events he lays down something like a principle on which he expects God will act in dealing with the wicked. It is not because he hates them, or because they have hurt him, that he wants them to suffer, but because they have done wrong. Further, he wants to see them dealt with according to the wrong they have done. Perhaps we ought to look at this question of recompense apart from its being made a matter of prayer. One would not like to think of it as a desirable petition in any prayer, that the wicked might be dealt with according to their wickedness. God's law will secure all that is necessary, and we may trust the working of that law. Men will be recompensed according to the work of their hand, only this expression, "the work of their hand," must be taken with a very liberal meaning. What the heart of the wicked purposes, his hand generally carries out to some extent, and yet many qualifications must be made. To go literally according to the work of the hand would be to deal too severely in some instances, too leniently in others. We have to infer the heart from the hand, and our calculation of motives is a very rough and ready one. Human law, trying to be just and adequate, is not unfrequently unjust and cruel. We are so under the influence of things seen and temporal that a punishment only looks real when we can see it in operation, manifest to all. Our confidence should rather be that God has so made things by their very nature that a wicked heart becomes a miserable one. Whatsoever a man sows, he reaps. But then there is also another thing to be considered, and that is that God makes room for repentance. He who sows repentance will reap forgiveness and renewal of heart. We cannot undo the works of our hands, but God can bring good out of evil. - Y.
Parallel VersesKJV: Render unto them a recompence, O LORD, according to the work of their hands.