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3. For my days are consumed like smoke
Hammond reads, “My days are consumed in the smoke.” “The Syriac,” says he, “read, in smoke, and so the sense will best bear, either my days or time of my life, כלו, consume and wither in smoke, as Psalm 119:83, a bottle in the smoke, afflictions have
had the same effect on me as smoke on those things which are hung in it, dried me up, and deformed me: or perhaps כלו, end or fail, or consume in smoke, (as when any combustible matter is consumed, smoke is all that comes from it, and so it
ends in that;) and to that the latter part of the verse may seem to incline it, ‘And my bones, or members, or body, are burnt up,’ that being all one with consumed.”
and my bones are burnt up as a hearth.
Hammond reads, “are burnt up as dry wood.” “As for כמוקד, that is added,” says he, “the interpreters differ in the understanding of it. The word coming from יקד, accensus est, may be either the place where the fire is, or the pot which is heated by the flame of the fire, or the wood which is set
on fire. The Syriac seems to take it in the first notion, rendering it, ‘my bones are grown white as the hearth,’ for so the
chimney or hearth doth with the fire constantly burning on it. The Chaldee reads, ‘as one of the stones that is set under
the pot or caldron.’ But the LXX. read, ὡσεί φρύχιον, ‘as dry wood,’ and the Latin, sicut cremium, ‘as dry combustible wood,’ and that is most applicable to the matter in
hand; the bones or members of the body, their being burnt up as dry wood denotes the speedy exhausting of the radical
moisture, which soon ends in the consumption of the whole. And then the whole verse fitly accords, ‘My days are withered away
in the smoke,’ or perhaps ‘end in smoke, my bones are burnt up like dry wood.’”
4. My heart is smitten, and withered like grass, because I have forgotten to eat my bread. 5. By reason of the voice of my groaning, my bones cleave to my flesh.
“Tienent a ma peau.” — Fr. “Cleave to my skin.” Flesh is more literal; but see Psalm 119:120, and Job 19:20.
6. I have become like a pelican
The pelican is a bird of the desert, to which frequent allusion is made by the sacred writers. Its Hebrew name קאת, kaath, literally means, the vomiter, being derived from the verb קוא, ko, to vomit It has a large pouch, or bag, suspended from its bill and throat, which serves both as a repository for its food, and as
a net for catching it. In feeding its
young ones, whether this bag is loaded with water, or more solid food, it squeezes the contents of it into their mouths,
by strongly compressing it upon its breast with its bill, an action which might well explain the origin of the name given
to it by the Hebrews. It is a bird of solitary habits, and is said by Isidore to live “in the solitude of the river Nile:”
indeed, it generally builds its nest in mossy, turfy places, in the islands of rivers or lakes, far from the abode of man.
It is here
described as living in the wilderness, a circumstance not inconsistent with its natural fondness for water; for lakes,
as well as fountains, are to be found in the most desert parts. And although a water-fowl, it sometimes retires to a great
distance from the water, where, in some remote and concealed situation, it may hatch its young with greater security. Its
huge pouch, which is said to be capable of containing near the size of a man’s head, seems to be given to it for the purpose
being provided with a supply of food for itself and its young ones when at a distance from the water. Bochart thinks
that קאת, kaath, here means the bittern His chief reason for this opinion
is, that the Psalmist compares himself to the two birds specified, on account of his groaning, and that, therefore,
both of them should have a mournful cry. But he finds that natural historians make no mention of this as a property of the
pelican, whereas they all agree that the bittern, by inserting its bill in the mud of the marsh, or plunging it under water,
utters a most disagreeable cry, like the roaring of a bull, or the sound of distant thunder. But the Psalmist may not so much
his groaning to the plaintive cry of these birds, as compare his situation to their solitary condition. Sorrow, when
pungent, drives the sufferer to solitude, and, on this occasion, the inspired bard, under the overwhelming pressure of grief,
seems to have become weary of society, and, like the pelican, or the owl, to have contracted a relish for deep retirement.
Shaw’s Travels, volume 2, page 302; Paxton’s Illustrations of Scripture, volume 2, pages 247-250.
of the wilderness; I have become like an owl
The owl, it is highly probable, is the bird here intended. The original word כוס, kos, which is evidently derived from the
verb כסה, kasah, to hide, is applied, with much propriety, to denote that bird, which constantly hides itself in the day-time, and comes abroad only
in the evening, or at night. כוס, kos, is followed in construction by חרבות, charaboth, which comes from חרב, charab, to be destroyed, or laid waste; (Isaiah 60:12; Jeremiah 26:8; Zephaniah 3:6) and signifies a waste or desolate place, as the ruins of an uninhabited house. The proper translation, then, should be,
not the owl of the desert, but the owl of the desolate or ruined buildings, which exactly corresponds with the habits of this bird; for such ruinous places, as is well known, are its ordinary haunt,
where, in undisturbed solitude, it may utter its melancholy howlings. The allusion in Gray’s celebrated Elegy may illustrate
the language of the text, —
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