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113

I hate the double-minded,

but I love your law.


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113. I have hated crooked thoughts. Those who are of opinion that the word סעפום seaphim, the first in the verse, and which is rendered crooked thoughts, is an appellate noun, translate it, those who think evil; 436436     In the Chaldee, it is “vain thinkers;” and thus the meaning would be, “I hate men that think evil, that devise wicked devices, or that have false and evil opinions, opposite to God’s law, or tending to seduce men from it.” but it is more correct to understand it of the thoughts themselves, 437437     It signifies thoughts in Job 4:14, and 20:2; and opinions in 1 Kings 18:21: and these may be either good or evil, their character being determined by the context of the passage in which the word occurs. and this interpretation is very generally adopted. The noun סעף, saeph, properly signifies a branch, but it is applied metaphorically to the thoughts, which, growing out of the heart, as branches from the trunk of a tree, spread themselves in every direction. As there is no doubt that in this passage the term is taken in a bad sense, I have added the epithet, crooked, which the etymology of the word requires. 438438     The sense of the text also requires that the word for thoughts should here be taken in a bad sense, for the Psalmist affirms that he hates them, and sets God’s law in opposition to them. Various epithets have been supplied to describe the character of these thoughts, such as “crooked,” by Calvin, “vain,” by our English version, and “high minded,” by Luther. Ainsworth supplies wavering, observing, that the original term denotes the top branches of trees, which are figuratively applied to the thoughts or opinions of the mind, to denote that they are wavering and uncertain, as 1 Kings 18:21; or to persons distracted with their own cogitations. Poole remarks, agreeably to Calvin’s interpretation, that the thoughts, or opinions, or devices of men differing from, or opposite to God’s law, may be intended, since, in the next clause, God’s law is opposed to them, and as some, both Jewish and Christian, expositors understand the Hebrew word. As the branches of a tree shoot out transversely, entangled and intertwined, so the thoughts of the human mind are, in like manner, confusedly mingled together, turning and twisting about in all directions. Some Jewish interpreters understand it of the laws of the heathen, which, they say, were cut off from the law of God, as branches from a tree; but although this is ingenious, it has no solidity. I therefore keep by the more simple explanation, That the crooked inventions of the human heart, and whatever the wicked devise, according to their own perverse understandings, are set in opposition to the law of God, which alone is right. And, assuredly, whoever would truly embrace the law of God, must, necessarily, as his first business, divest himself of all unhallowed and sinful thoughts, or rather go out of his own nature. Such is the meaning, unless, perhaps, preferring another metaphor, we understand סעפום, seaphim, to signify high thoughts, since the verb סעף, saaph, is taken for to lift up. Now we know that no sacrifice is more acceptable to God than obedience, when we entertain low thoughts of ourselves; and thus our docility begins with humility. But as this exposition may seem also far-fetched, I pass from it. Let what I have: said suffice us, That since God acknowledges as the disciples of his law those only who are well purified from all contrary imaginations, which corrupt our understanding, the prophet here protests that he is an enemy to all crooked thoughts, which are wont to draw men hither and thither.




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