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Psalm 38:11-14

11. My friends and my companions stand away from my sore; and my kinsfolk stand afar off. 12. They also that sought for my life have laid snares for me; and they that sought after my hurt have talked of treachery, and imagine deceit daily. 13. But I, as a deaf man, hear not; and am as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth. 14. And I was as a man that heareth not, and in whose mouth are no reproofs.

 

11 My friends and my companions stand away from my sore Here David enumerates other circumstances to show the aggravated character of his misery, that he might excite the compassion of God. One of these is, that he finds no help or solace among men. In saying that his friends stand away from him, he means, that they cease from performing any of the offices of humanity towards him. This might happen either from pride or fear. If they withdrew from this poor afflicted man because they despised him, they were cruel and proud; and if they refused him their assistance for fear of being brought into odium, it was most unpardonable cowardice. But in the meantime, it augmented not a little the calamity of David, that even his friends and kinsfolk dared not to show any token of compassion towards him. It is, indeed, a very sore trial, when a man, who has had a great number of friends, comes to be abandoned by them all.

12 They also that sought for my life have laid snares for me, etc.. Here another circumstance is added, that the enemies of David laid snares for him, and talked about his destruction, and framed deceits among themselves. 5454     ”Et machine des finesses pour le surprendre.” — Fr. “And devised stratagems for ensnaring him.” The purport of what is stated is, that while his friends cowardly sit still and will do nothing to aid him, his enemies vigorously bestir themselves, and seek by every means to destroy him. He says that they seek his life, for as they were his deadly enemies and blood-thirsty men, they were not content with doing him some common injury, but furiously sought his destruction. He, however, here complains not so much that they assailed him by force of arms and with violence, as he accuses them of guileful conspiracy, which he designates in the first place metaphorically by the term snares, and afterwards adds in plain terms, that they talk about his destruction, and secretly consult among themselves how they might do him hurt. Now, as it is certain that David borrows not an artificial rhetoric from the bar, (as profane orators 5555     “Comme celles des orateurs profanes.” — Fr. do when they plead their cause,) in order to win the favor of God, but rather draws his arguments from the Word of God, the sentences which he here brings together for the confirmation of his faith we ought to appropriate to our own use. If we are altogether destitute of human aid and assistance, if our friends fail us in the time of need, and if others seek our ruin, and breathe out nothing but destruction against us, let us remember that it is not in vain for us to lay these things in prayer before God, whose province it is to succor those who are in misery, to take under his protection those who are perfidiously forsaken and betrayed, to restrain the wicked, and not only to withstand their violence, but also to anticipate their deceitful counsels and to frustrate their designs.

13 But I, as a deaf man, hear not, etc. The inspired writer here compares himself to a dumb and deaf man, for two reasons. In the first place, he intimates that he was so overwhelmed with the false and wicked judgments of his enemies, that he was not even permitted to open his mouth in his own defense. In the second place, he alleges before God his own patience, as a plea to induce God the more readily to have pity upon him; for such meekness and gentleness, not only with good reason, secures favor to the afflicted and the innocent, but it is also a sign of true piety. Those who depend upon the world, and have respect only to men, if they cannot avenge the injuries that are done them, plainly show by their loud complaints the burning rage and fury of their hearts. In order, therefore, that a man may quietly and patiently endure the insolence, violence, calumny, and deceit of his enemies, it is necessary that he trust in God. The man who is fully persuaded in his own heart that God is his defender, will cherish his hope in silence, and, calling upon him for help, will lay a restraint upon his own passions. Accordingly, Paul, in Romans 12:19, very properly says, that we “give place unto wrath” when, oppressed before the world, we nevertheless still repose on God. On the other hand, whoever gives loose reins to his passions, takes away as much as he can from God, to whom alone it belongs, the right of taking vengeance, and deprives himself of his assistance. It is indeed certain, that if David had obtained a hearing, he would have been ready to defend his own innocence; but perceiving that it availed him nothing, nay, that he was shut out and debarred from all defense of his cause, he humbly submitted, waiting patiently for the heavenly Judge. He therefore says that he held his peace, as if he had already been convicted and struck dumb. And it is indeed very difficult, when we are conscious of our own innocence, patiently and silently to bear an unjust condemnation, as if all argument had failed us, and we had no excuse or reply left us.


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