A fool gives full vent to his spirit,
but a wise man quietly holds it back.
Proverbs 29:8-11 describe the rage, havoc, and violence that accompany evil and folly. Such men set a city aflame (Prov 29:8), are abusive and rude in a dispute (Prov 29:9), hate people of integrity (Prov 29:10), and give full vent to every passion they feel (Prov 29:11). The ESV footnote for Prov 29:10b, “but the upright seek his soul,” means that the upright are concerned to vindicate the hated blameless man.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Paul begins his admonition with a negative action to avoid, followed by a positive action to develop. Paul addresses the responsibility of fathers in particular, though this does not diminish the contribution of mothers in these areas (see Proverbs 31). Obedient children are particularly vulnerable, so a domineering and thoughtless father’s actions would be discouraging to them (Col. 3:21). Parents play a crucial, God-ordained role in the discipleship of their children “in the Lord” (Eph. 6:1); see Deut. 6:1–9. Parental discipleship in the discipline and instruction of the Lord should center on the kinds of practices already outlined in Ephesians 4–5.
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Another allusion to Jesus’ teaching (Matt. 5:39). Feelings of revenge can be overcome by realizing that God will make all things right, and that he will visit his wrath on those who deserve it. “Burning coals” is quoted from Prov. 25:21–22. Most interpreters think Paul is teaching that the Christian is to do good to people so that they will feel ashamed and repent, and that sense is possible. But in the OT “burning coals” always represent punishment (2 Sam. 22:13; Ps. 11:6; 18:8, 12–13; 140:10), so another interpretation is that Paul is repeating the thought of Rom. 12:19: Christians are to do good to wrongdoers, recognizing that God will punish them on the last day if they refuse to repent. Overcoming evil with good will ordinarily include acts of kindness toward evildoers, but it may sometimes also include the “good” (13:4) of the civil government stopping evil through the use of superior force (military or police), as Paul explains in Rom.13:3–4.
God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.
The singers of this psalm see their requests as part of the larger picture: God is a righteous judge (Psa. 7:11), to whom all the peoples of mankind, and not just Israel, are accountable (Psa. 7:7, 8); thus his anger (Psa. 7:6) and indignation (Psa. 7:11) are directed against those who threaten his faithful ones (the righteous, Psa. 7:9; and the upright in heart, Psa. 7:10). In the Psalms, judging is more often than not a saving action, God intervening on behalf of the innocent and oppressed. (In English the word “judge” tends to focus more on condemning than on rescuing.) The particular deliverance, then, is part of God’s larger project of putting the whole world back to its right order (Psa. 7:9).
The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
The Lord’s proclamation of his name and the declaration of his character becomes a central confessional passage for the Old Testament (e.g., see Neh. 9:17, 31; Ps. 86:15; 103:8; Jonah 4:2; Joel 2:13). This confession describes the Lord’s gracious character in preserving Israel as a whole for the sake of God’s overall purpose and in sparing those individuals who look to him in true faith. Moses will argue these very words back to the Lord when he intercedes for the people after their rebellion following the spies’ report on Canaan (see Num. 14:18–19). The description emphasizes the merciful and gracious character of the Lord (see Ex. 33:19), whose steadfast love and forgiveness extends to thousands (probably of generations, cf. Deut. 7:9) in contrast to the few generations upon whom he visits iniquity. Moses will appeal to Israel’s need for the Lord’s gracious and merciful presence so that he might forgive them and take them as his inheritance (Ex. 34:9).
All commentary sections adapted from the ESV Study Bible.