Psalm 9:17


I. SALVATION IS ASCRIBED TO GOD. All deliverances are of God. There may be human means and instruments. There may be judges and saviours, such as Joshua (Nehemiah 9:27). But behind all is God. This holds true of all deliverances - national and individual - of the body, and of the soul. More especially is this true of the deliverance from our enemies, and of our redemption by Jesus Christ.

II. MANIFESTS THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD. God must act in agreement with his character. He cannot deny himself. Therefore in whatsoever deliverances God effects, we may be sure that his righteousness will shine resplendent. So it is of the salvation by Christ (Romans 1:16, 17). How vain to ask for help, if we are not willing to have it in God's way! How foolish to expect deliverance, save in the form that will glorify God's Name - his righteousness as truly as his mercy, his justice as well as his love!

III. FORESHADOWS THE FINAL JUDGMENT OF THE WORLD. Every judgment is a sign and pattern of the last judgment. There is no change with God. All through, and in everything he does, he has acted like himself. His Law will stand, His righteousness will be vindicated in the end as in the beginning. The cross of Christ itself prophesies of the just judgments of God. "If they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?" (Luke 23:31). God's people may await with confidence the result.

IV. CALLS FORTH THE HALLELUJAHS OF THE GOOD. There is the joy of trust (ver. 13); of gratitude (ver. 14), of hope (vers. 15-20). By faith we see the King in his beauty, and rejoice in his rejoicing. - W.F.









The wicked shall be turned into hell.
Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.
I. THE CHARACTERS SPECIFIED.

1. All those who wilfully violate the plain and positive precepts of God. Drinkers. Profane persons. Those who dishonour God's holy-day. The dishonest.

2. All the persecutors of the people of God.

3. All hypocrites and impostors in religion.

4. All must be denominated wicked who are unregenerate. Wickedness is not a superficial defect, but a profound radical principle, deeply rooted in the heart of man. The "nations that forget God" refers to heathen nations whose gods were idols. The wicked are described as they who "forget God" — in His character as Benefactor and as Sovereign. He forgets the all-prevailing presence of God, and he forgets the Word of God.

II. THE AFFIRMATION MADE CONCERNING HIM. "Turned into hell." Note, the place into which they shall he turned; "the manner how it will be done; and the certainty of the affirmation. "Hell" describes —

1. A place of punishment;

2. The nature of the punishment;

3. The exquisite sense of punishment the wicked will feel;

4. The companions of their punishment;

5. The perpetuity of it. "The wicked shall be turned into hell." This shall be done unexpectedly, suddenly, irresistibly. The certainty of the affirmation in the text may be inferred —

1. From the general consent of mankind;

2. From the justice of the moral governor of the universe;

3. From the moral unfitness of the wicked for any other situation;

4. And from the testimony of Holy Scripture.

(Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)

I. THE PLACE, OR STATE, HERE MENTIONED. "Sheol" is often put for "the grave." Not to be so understood in the text, because hell is here peculiar to the wicked, and the grave is common to good and bad. It signifies the place or state of the lost. It has two branches. The punishment of loss, and the punishment of sense. An eternal privation of the blessed and glorious presence of God, and all the joy, comfort, and happiness that is attending thereupon. The punishment of loss is further aggravated from a threefold consideration.

1. The possibility of preventing it, if there had been care taken about it.

2. The occasion of this loss, and the way of falling into it.

3. The beholding of others to enjoy that happiness which themselves are deprived of. The punishment of sense; which consists in the unspeakable torments inflicted upon soul and body forever and ever. Set forth by "unquenchable fire," because fire being one of those things which is most grievous to corporal sense, is therefore fittest to express this condition to us.

II. THE PERSONS ADJUDGED.

1. The comprehensive representation in the word "wicked." A word of great latitude and extent, including all open and notorious sinners. All close and reserved hypocrites. All carnal and unregenerate persons whatsoever.

2. The emphatic representation. "All the nations that forget God." The subjects of the punishment are "all the nations," all that prove to be wicked. There is ground for this in God's power and omnipotency. The importunity of sin and guilt makes for this likewise. The guilt fastened upon these subjects. That is, forgetting of God. Apply to the essence of God; the nature of God; the Word of God; the providence of God. Consider then, the doom and sentence passed upon all such persons as described; and use the passage as a caution and admonition. Look at our general state and condition in grace. Look to our particular life and conversation.

(T. Horton, D. D.)

I. ITS GERM. Forgetfulness of God. This is common. "Nations." Contrary to man's true nature, obligations, and circumstances.

II. ITS DEVELOPMENT. It leads to all kind of wickedness. Both Scripture and experience prove this. To forget God is to sin without restraint, without remorse, and without bounds.

III. ITS CONSUMMATION. It is "Hell." This is inevitable and certain. There the wicked are abandoned by God, without excuse, without resource, without hope, forever. Consider this ye that forget God.

(W. Forsyth, M. . A.)

Heaven and hell are opposite states of being or conditions of humanity. Heaven is a present possession, not a mere future blessedness; a temper of mind and heart rather than a special locality. Hell is the opposite of heaven. Does heaven mean the service and consciousness of the love of God? Then hell will prove the selfishness and degradation of separation from God. If we say that heaven is inward happiness and peace, we must also say that hell is dissatisfaction and unrest. Character is the standard which determines whether a man is in heaven or in hell. Theories (concerning hell) once held by almost the entire Church of Christ are honeycombed with doubt and disbelief, and, to a large extent, the very idea of a future punishment of the wicked is regarded as but little more than a delusion of superstitious fancy. What has brought about such a revolution of sentiment? Probably the frightful and unworthy distortions of the doctrine, as proclaimed by the various creeds and churches. In Scripture we find no sure ground for any belief in a material hell, but a distinct and unmistakable enunciation of the fact of a natural hell of cause and effect. That wilful wrong-doing will inevitably be followed by its just punishment is the teaching of every Bible reference to the fact. Evil deserves, and calls for, punishment. And death does not change character. After death we shall be as we were before death, or the future can have no possible meaning for us. The irresistible laws of the moral world steadily bring the punishment. I make no absolute statement concerning the great problem of retribution; I formulate no theory; but it seems to me there is a truer and nobler satisfaction to Divine justice than the tortures of the damned. I believe evil will be followed by fearful penalty, for every principle of right and law of God demands that it should. Further I may not go; for justice there can be none, where mercy is not. What God is I know. He is wise, and sees the best. I can, I will trust Him.

(George Bainton.)

Yes, so awful that it seems almost presumption to preach on them. But woe is unto us if we do not warn the sinner. The words show that God doth regard (Psalm 94:17).

I. THE CHARACTERS DESCRIBED.

1. The wicked. This means not all mankind, though all are wicked, but gross transgressors.

2. The nations that forget God. Practical atheists. How many do this?

II. THE FUTURE PORTION DECREED THEM. They "shall be turned into hell." There will be —

1. Tormenting pains.

2. A sleepless conscience.

3. Mutual reproaches.

4. Unrestrained and full-grown passions.

5. The certainty of eternal despair. Then come this very hour to Jesus.

(J. Jowett, M. A.)

I. LET US MEET SOME FALSE OPINIONS CONCERNING HELL AND ESTABLISH ITS REAL EXISTENCE. The Bible maintains it. But consider —

1. The ancient belief is found both in sacred and profane writers. We read of it in the Old Testament. Moses tells of the anger of God burning "unto the lowest hell." Homer speaks of Ajax sending men to hell. And other passages show that the ancients believed in hell.

2. Some deny the existence of any hell beyond the bounds of time, and assert that through God's love all mankind shall be saved. But this contradicts Scripture, and confounds the distinctions between right and wrong.

3. Others say that hell is here in our present sufferings and that there is no other, but that beyond the grave mankind will be glorified. But then, why should Christ die? What pardon do we need if we suffer all the penalty of our sin here? And our sufferings would be the cause of our salvation.

4. Some assert that conscience is hell. But conscience was not designed to be either man's full reward or penalty, but only his guide. It is a witness, a judge, and to some extent an executioner.

5. Others, that the grave is the only hell the Bible speaks of, and that there is no future punishment. But only in 1 Corinthians 15:55 can "hades" be consistently translated "grave." In all other places it means hell.

II. THE DURATION OF HELL ETERNAL. Some say that after a while the torments of the damned will be terminated, and the damned will then be saved. But this is to make hell the Saviour, and not Christ. And the word "everlasting" is the true rendering of Aionios. And how can a man be regenerated in hell; but unless he be born again he cannot enter the Kingdom of God? And for the protection of the righteous the wicked shall be shut off from them.

III. IN WHAT THE PUNISHMENT OF HELL CONSISTS.

1. The loss of all worldly good.

2. The society the lost will find there. Vile men and devils.

3. The lake of Fire. If this be figurative, then how awful must be the punishment which requires such a figure.

4. The loss of the glories of heaven.

5. And chief of all, of God Himself.

(W. Barns.)

"Does it not seem cruel to put a loved form in the grave damn and cold? A wife for instance, who has been shielded from every breath one week, the next she is left here in the rain and exposure." So we queried, and the answer taught us a lesson. "It is necessary to do so, for the good of the family and the community; it does seem cruel, and death, as it is the consequence of sin is always cruel, yet the putting away of the dead is kindness. Hell is God's cemetery for dead and corrupt men; it is for souls what graveyards are for bodies. It may seem cruel of God to put souls away, but being dead it is necessary, indeed it is kindness to the living members of His family."

(W. Luff.)

"All wickedness 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 forever. The true state, both of nations and the individuals of which they are composed, is to be estimated from one single circumstance, namely, whether in their doings they remember or forget God. Remembrance of Him is the well-spring of virtue; forgetfulness of Him, the fountain of vice.

(George Horne, D. D.)

And all the nations that forget God.
The time was when all the nations of the earth knew, and acknowledged, the only living and true God. This time, however, was of short duration. Soon after their separation from each other, they lost their religious traditions, grew vain in their imaginations, and degenerated into all kinds of idolatry. As the king of God's peculiar people, David viewed all the heathen nations as his personal enemies; and as a prophet of the true Church, he viewed all the heathen nations as enemies to the true God and the true religion. Hence it is, that he so often blends his enemies with the enemies of God, and speaks of both as exposed to both temporal and eternal ruin. The text is a description of all the heathen world, who are destitute of Divine revelation. To make it appear that the heathen will be finally lost, observe —

1. That God, many years ago, gave them up to judicial blindness and hardness of heart. Paul, speaking of the heathen, says, "God gave them up to a reprobate mind."

2. When God formed the seed of Abraham into a distinct national and visible Church, He shut the door against the heathen nations. The present heathen nations are as ignorant and wicked as the ancient heathen nations were.

3. When God sent Christ into the world to bring life and immortality to light, He directed Him to preach to the Jews, and not to the Gentiles.

4. When God sent the apostles to preach to heathens, He sent them to turn them from heathenism to Christianity.

5. God has told us that He intends to convert all the heathen nations, and that He intends to do it by the instrumentality of the Gospel. Improvement.(1) If God will not save the heathen who are destitute of the Gospel, then we have no reason to think He will save the Jews, while they disbelieve the Gospel.(2) If God will not save the heathen, then we have no reason to believe He will save atheists, deists, and those who deny the fundamental principles of Christianity.(3) He will not save any, under the Gospel, on the ground of their external obedience, morality, or virtue. It appears, from what has been said, that the heathen are in a deplorable and perishing condition.

(N. Emmons, D. D.)

? — That we forget is our commonest excuse for any omission, in great matters or in small. The excuse is put forward, not only as sufficient ground for pardon of our omission, but as one saving the credit of our intentions. In the text and elsewhere the people of God are warned that they will be held closely and severely responsible for forgetting God. There is no part of our mind's powers which we reckon to be less under our control than our memories. It does not follow because we have not the command, that therefore we might not, and ought not, to have it. What are our memories? The recalling of things that have made an impression on us. The impression may be made at once by some striking circumstance, or it may be the result of frequent and diligent attention to some particular object. The ministering of our memory to our thoughts will depend, therefore, upon what the character of our interests has been in the different stages of our life, for according to this will be the character of our impressions. It must be one of the trials of these who have lived sinful lives, and after turned to God, that their memories will recall to their involuntary thoughts the scenes and works of other days, and contaminate with them their after endeavours after holier reflections. The memory must and will be occupied. What is the great conclusion? That if our memories depend on our impressions, and we have not remembered the Lord our God, then we have not been impressed by deep thought of Him. The utter confusion of such a sentence comes upon us if we consider it more piecemeal. It means this, that upon each opportunity of becoming deeply impressed by the thoughts of God, we have remained unimpressed, and, therefore, forgetful of His greatness. Time would fail us, if we were to attempt to show how the sinful nature of man resists the varied impressions he might receive through the innumerable manifestations of the attributes of our Almighty Father. Memory is a minister of good to the good, of evil to the evil, for it is our former selves waiting upon us.

(Archdeacon Mildmay.)

Familiarity with the words of the Bible makes them lose their force to us. The Lord's Prayer, the Liturgy generally. But this is no argument against a form of prayer. If we are to give up a form because of this danger, then we may give up reading the Bible for the same reason. But formalism is our fault, not that of the form we use. And this familiarity tells upon the truth taught in text.

I. MEN'S FORGETFULNESS OF GOD. And yet we ought to fear, for if in David's day, when men were under the law, our text was true, how much more now in our state of greater privilege. See how we ward off the blow threatened by the idea that we are not of the number of those who forget God. This is true in a sense, for no one can quite forget God. Conscience will not let him. Not the infidel even, still less the profligate. The text, therefore, tells of something short of total forgetfulness. Who, then, are they who forget God?

1. Those who do not habitually remember Him. Such persons may be respectable before men.

2. Those who are afraid to do right because of the ridicule of the world.

3. Those who think that He will not punish sin.

II. THIS DANGER OF FORGETFULNESS presses on us all. And it is worse in us than in David, for we have the Holy Spirit given us in our baptism. If we call on Him He will help us to resist temptation. Pleading forgetfulness only adds to our fault if we fall. Therefore let us seek to remember God.

(F. E. Paget, M. A.)

Many ministers of Christ have been accused of taking pleasure in preaching upon this terrible subject of "the wrath to come." It were strange, indeed, if it were so. To preach Christ is our delight, the joy of our heart; but while it is bard to preach the terrors of the law, it were harder still to bear the doom which must rest upon the silent minister, the unfaithful watchman who did not warn the sinner, and whose blood must therefore be required at the watchman's hands. None ever spoke as did Jesus on this terrible theme; no preacher ever used figures of such glaring horror as did He. Upon such a subject we cannot afford to trifle. Must the eternal and holy Son of God offer up His life for us, and is the world to come a thing about which men can idly sport or dream? But this forgetting of God.

I. LET ME CHARGE THIS SIN UPON YOU. Gross sinners will receive their doom. God will not treat them with leniency; He will not wink at their follies, "the wicked shall be turned into hell." But observe their companions — "those who forget God." Now I charge this sin upon many. Sinner, thou forgettest —

1. God's infinite majesty;

2. His mercies;

3. His laws;

4. His presence;

5. His justice.

II. THE REASON OF THIS FORGETFULNESS.

1. It is because the thought of Him makes the sinner afraid. The guilty man always dreads the eye of the judge.

2. It is irksome to thee. Thy heart revolts. Thou sayest, "Why should I think of God?"

3. Such thinking and going on in sin are incompatible, and thou preferrest thy sins. Sin loved, God is abhorred.

III. YOUR EXCUSES FOR IT. You say —

1. A man is excusable if he has not had enough in early youth to impress God upon his memory. You, who have been trained by godly parents, cannot say that.

2. To think of God always is very hard. Have you ever made the attempt? How, then, do you know it is hard work? Your forgetting never caused you to weep. If it were not wilful and wicked forgetting you would repent of it. Everything around you reminds you of God, and what warnings many of you have had.

IV. I WOULD PERSUADE YOU TO REPENTANCE. I would plead — relying on the Holy Ghost.

1. By the terrors of the law. In hell the thought of God shall be as a dagger in your soul. "Son, remember," that was the word of Abraham to Dives in hell, and an awful word it was. But

2. By the mercies of God. He saith, "As I live, I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, but had rather that he should turn unto Me and live." There is hope for thee in Christ Jesus.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

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