Psalm 35:8-10

8. Let confusion of which he is not aware come upon him; and let his own net which he hath hidden catch himself: let him fall into it with confusion. 9. And my soul is joyful in Jehovah, it shall be glad in his salvation. 10. All my bones shall say, O Jehovah! who is like thee, that deliverest the poor from him that is stronger than he, the poor and miserable from him that spoileth him ?


8. Let confusion of which he is not aware come upon him. David again prays that God would cause to return upon the head of his enemies the mischief which they had directed against a just and an inoffensive man. The change from the plural to the singular number, even when the same subject, is spoken of, is, we know, a thing very common among the Hebrews. Accordingly, what is here said of one man is applicable to all David's enemies in general, unless, perhaps, we are rather inclined to suppose that allusion is here made to Saul or some one of his nobles. But as it is certain that the prayer which he here offers against Saul as the head extends to the whole body, in other words, to all his followers,1 it matters little in which way we understand it. The Hebrew word haws, shoah, sometimes signifies confusion, and sometimes destruction; and, therefore, many translate it, Let destruction, or desolation, or ruin, come upon him. The other rendering, however, seems more suitable, for he immediately adds, Let his own net which he hath hidden catch him, let him fall into it with confusion. The way in which others render it, Let him fall into destruction itself, is certainly forced and unnatural. But the meaning of the clause will be brought out very suitable if it is viewed as a prayer of David, that as the wicked settle down like wine upon the lees, in present enjoyments, and fear nothing, as if they were placed beyond the reach of all danger, some calamity which they think not of may suddenly come upon them like a tempest, and overwhelm them. It never for a moment occurs to them as at all possible that their stratagems and craft, their wicked practices, and all the snares which they lay for the good and the simple, turn to the destruction of themselves who have devised them. David, therefore, very properly desires that they may fall with confusion into the nets which they have laid; in other words, that they may be filled with amazement and terror when they are suddenly and unexpectedly visited with calamity. The more unbounded and extravagant the exultation of men is, through their vainly and foolishly imagining that they shall escape unpunished, the more are they filled with amazement and fear when calamity suddenly overtakes them. I have, however, no doubt that David here refers to some strange and extraordinary calamity. Let confusion, then, of which he thinks not, come upon him; that is to say, when he shall have persuaded himself that all goes well with him, and promised himself peace in his deceitful fascinations, then let unwonted terror strike him to the heart, and let him feel by his tumultuous fear that he is caught in his own snares.

9. And my soul is joyful in Jehovah. Others read this in the optative mood, May my soul rejoice in Jehovah, and may it be glad in his salvation. But instead of continuing to express his desires, David, in my opinion, rather promises in this verse that he will be grateful to God. This is still more evident from the following verse, in which extolling very highly the goodness of God, he says that he will celebrate the remembrance of it with every member of his body. While, therefore, some ascribe to fortune, and others to their own skill, the praise of their deliverance from danger, and few, if any, yield the whole praise of it to God, David here declares that he will not forget the favor which God had bestowed upon him. My soul, says he, shall rejoice, not in a deliverance of the author of which it is ignorant, but in the salvation of God. To place the matter in a still stronger light, he assigns to his very bones the office of declaring the divine glory. As if not content that his tongue should be employed in this, he applies all the members of his body to the work of setting forth the praises of God. The style of speaking which he employs is hyperbolical, but in this way he shows unfeignedly that his love to God was so strong that he desired to spend his sinews and bones in declaring the reality and truth of his devotion.

10. O Jehovah! who is like thee? Here he explains more fully the nature of his joy in the salvation of God of which he had spoken, showing that it consisted in his ascribing entirely to God the deliverance which he had obtained. Men, in general, praise God in such a manner that he scarcely obtains the tenth part of his due. But David, distinguishing him from all others, distinctly declares that the whole glory of his deliverance is due to him alone. And, certainly, we then only yield to God what belongs to him, when, investing him with his own power, we rest all our hopes on him. For what purpose does it serve, loudly to celebrate the name of God with our mouths, if we tear in pieces his power and goodness at our pleasure? David, therefore, in the true spirit of godliness, extols the greatness of God by this high encomium, that he is the guardian and defender of the poor, and rescues the needy and afflicted from the hand of those who oppress them; as if he had said, It is God's peculiar duty to succor the miserable. By these words we are taught to cling to the hope of better things in adversity; for the power and resources of our enemies, however great they may be, is no reason why we should lose our confidence, since God declares to us from heaven that he reigns expressly for the purpose of resisting the strong and powerful. If the children of this world, who employ their power in injuring and oppressing the weak, had the least degree of sound understanding, it would certainly serve to restrain their audacity, and prevent them proceeding farther in provoking the wrath of God.

1 "Qu'il fait yci contre Saul comme le chef, s'estend a tout le corps, c'est a dire, tous ses adherens." -- Fr.