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Psalm 55:12-15

12. Of a truth, it was not an enemy that cast reproach upon me, for then I could have borne it: 305305     “C’est, receu et soustenu le coup.” — Fr. marg. “That is, received and sustained the blow.” it was not an adversary that did magnify himself against me, for then I would have hid 306306     “C’est, donne garde.” — Fr. marg. “That is, been on my guard.” myself from him. 13. But it was thou, a man of mine own order, my leader, and mine acquaintance. 14. We sweetly exchanged our most secret thoughts; 307307     “The phrase, נמתיק סור, will literally be read, ‘We made our secret sweet.’ And so it may be an elegance to signify the pleasure of his friendship, or of communicating secrets to him.” — Hammond we walked into the house of God in company. 15. Let death seize upon them, let them descend alive into the grave for wickedness is in their dwelling, and in the midst of them.

 

12 Of a truth, it was not an enemy that cast reproach upon me He informs us of one circumstance which added bitterness to the injuries under which he suffered, that they came from the hands not only of his professed enemies, but of such as pretended to be his friends. Those mistake the meaning of נשא, nasa, who interpret it as if David had said, that he could patiently have borne the reproach of an open enemy. What he says is, that had an open enemy reproached him, he could then have met it, as one meets and parries off a blow which is aimed at him. Against a known foe we are on our watch, but the unsuspected stroke of a friend takes us by surprise. By adopting this view of the word, we shall find that the repetition in the verse is more perfect; reading in the one member, I would have met it; and in the other, I would have hidden myself When he speaks of the enemy magnifying himself against him, he does not simply mean that he used insulting language, but in general, that he summoned all his violence to overthrow him. The sum of David’s complaint in this passage is, that he was assailed by treachery of that secret description which rendered self-defense impossible. With regard to the individual whom he had particularly in view, when he preferred this accusation, I do not imagine that it was Ahitophel, for the psalm itself would not appear to have been written upon the persecution of Absalom. Whether it may have been some notorious traitor in the city of Keilah, it is impossible to determine. Not the least probable conjecture is, that it may have been some great man at court, whose intimacy with David was generally known. Possibly he may have had more than one in his eye, courtiers who had sacrificed former friendship to a desire of rising in the royal favor, and lent their influence to destroy him. These, with some more eminent person at their head, may be the parties aimed at. At any rate, we are taught by the experience of David, as here represented to us, that we must expect in this world to meet with the secret treachery of friends, as well as with undisguised persecution. Satan has assaulted the Church with sword and open war, but he has also raised up domestic enemies to injure it with the more secret weapons of stratagem and fraud. This is a species of foe which, as Bernard expresses it, we can neither fly from nor put to flight. Whoever might be the individual referred to, David calls him a man of his own order, for so the term ערך, erach, should, in my opinion, be translated, and not as some, his equal in estimation, or as by others, a man esteemed by him to be his second self. 308308    This is the sense put upon the Hebrew word ערך, erach, by the LXX., who read, “Σὺ δὲ ἄνθρωπε ἰσφ́ψυχε,” “But thou, a man whom I love and esteem as I do my own soul;” the word ἰσόψυχος signifying ἱσος ἐμὢψυχἦ, equal to my soul He complains of the violation of the common bond of fraternity, as none needs to be told that there are various bonds, whether of relationship, profession, or office, which ought to be respected and held sacred. He makes mention also of his having been his leader and commander, of their having enjoyed sweet interchange of secret counsel together, and of their having frequented the religious assemblies in company, — all of which he adverts to as circumstances which lent an additional aggravation to his treachery. The term רגש 309309     “Properly, a noisy crowd; hence, genr. crowd, multitude.” — Gesenius It is from רגש, ragash, to rage, to make a noise, tumult; of nations, Psalms 2:1. , regesh, does not seem to signify here the stir attending the convention of an assembly, but rather company, intimating, that he was his close companion when they went to the house of God. Thus he would inform us, that he was betrayed by one who had been his intimate associate, and to whom he had looked up as a leader, in matters not only secular but religious. We are taught by the Spirit to reverence all the natural ties which bind us together in society. Besides the common and universal one of humanity, there are others of a more sacred kind, by which we should feel ourselves attached to men in proportion as they are more nearly connected with us than others by neighborhood, relationship, or professional calling, the more as we know that such connections are not the result of chance, but of providential design and arrangement. Need I say that the bond of religious fellowship is the most sacred of all?

15 Let death seize upon them. He now denounces the whole faction, not the nation generally, but those who had taken a prominent part in the persecution of him. In imprecating this curse he was not influenced by any bad feeling towards them, and must be understood as speaking not in his own cause but in that of God, and under the immediate guidance of his Spirit. This was no wish uttered in a moment of resentment or of reckless and ill-considered zeal, and which would justify us in launching maledictions against our enemies upon every trivial provocation. The spirit of revenge differs widely from the holy and regulated fervor with which David prays for the judgment of God against wicked men, who had already been doomed to everlasting destruction. The translation, Let death condemn them, is forced, and so also is another which has been suggested, Let him appoint death a creditor over them. 310310     This is the sense in which Horsley understands the passage. He observes, that “the image here is not sufficiently expressed by the English word seize, though it is not impossible that our translators might intend to allude to the seizure of a debtor. But this is rather a kindred image than the same. The precise image in the original is the exaction of payment, not the seizure of the person.” His rendering is, “Let death exalt his claim upon them.” That which we have given is the most obvious and simple. In praying that his enemies may descend alive into the grave, it has been well observed, that he seems to allude to the punishment of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram; though I conceive that in imprecating sudden and unexpected ruin upon them, he adverts to the proud persuasion which they cherished in their prosperity, that they would escape the stroke of death. “Lord,” as if he had said, “in the infatuation of their pride they consider themselves to be exempted from the ordinary lot of mortality, but let the earth swallow them up alive — let nothing prevent their being dragged down with all their pomp to the destruction which they deserve.” The cause which he assigns for his prayer in the latter part of the verse, is another proof that he was not influenced by any personal resentment against his enemies, but simply denounced the just judgments of God upon such as persecuted the Church. Wickedness, he adds, is in their dwelling By this he meant that it could not but dwell where they dwelt and this he expresses still more fully when he adds, in the midst of them; intimating, that they inwardly cherished their wickedness, so that it was their inseparable companion, and dwelt with them under the same roof.


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