Psalm 57:4-6

4. My soul is among lions;1 and I lie even among them that are set on fire,2 even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword. 5. Exalt thyself, O God: above the heavens: let thy glory be above all the earth. 6. They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down: they have digged a pit before me, into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves.


4. My soul is among lions. He again insists upon the cruelty of his enemies as a plea to prevail with God for his speedier interposition. He compares them to lions, speaks of them as inflamed with fury or implacable hatred, and likens their teeth to spears and arrows. In what he says of their tongue, he alludes to the virulent calumnies which are vended by the wicked, and which inflict a deeper wound than any sword upon the innocent party who suffers from them. David, as is well known, encountered no heavier trial than the false and calumnious charges which were levelled against him by his enemies. When we hear of the cruel persecution of different kinds which this saint was called upon to endure, we should account it no hardship to be involved in the same conflict, but be satisfied so long as we may bring our complaints to the Lord, who can bridle the false tongue, and put an arrest upon the hand of violence.

To him we find David appealing in the words that follow, Exalt thyself, O God! above the heavens: let thy glory be above all the earth. To perceive the appropriateness of this prayer, it is necessary that we reflect upon the height of audacity and pride to which the wicked proceed, when unrestrained by the providence of God, and upon the formidable nature of that conspiracy which was directed against David by Saul, and the nation in general, all which demanded a signal manifestation of divine power on his behalf. Nor is it a small comfort to consider that God, in appearing for the help of his people, at the same time advances his own glory. Against it, as well as against them, is the opposition of the wicked directed, and he will never suffer his glory to be obscured, or his holy name to be polluted with their blasphemies. The Psalmist reverts to the language of complaint. He had spoken of the cruel persecution to which he was subjected, and now bewails the treachery and deceit which were practiced against him. His soul he describes as being bowed down, in allusion to the crouching of the body when one is under the influence of fear, or to birds when terrified by the fowler and his nets, which dare not move a feather, but lie flat upon the ground. Some read, He has bowed down my soul. But the other is the most obvious rendering, and the verb Ppk, caphaph, is one which is frequently taken with the neuter signification. Although the Hebrew word spn, nephesh, rendered soul, is feminine, this is not the only place where we find it with a masculine adjunct.

1 "Mudge translates literally, 'I lie with my soul amidst lionesses.'" -- Arch. Secker. This agrees with the opinion of Bochart, who thinks that the animals here intended are lionesses, properly when giving suck to their young, a time when they are peculiarly fierce and dangerous. "Nor need we wonder," he observes, "that the lioness is reckoned among the fiercest lions; for the lioness equals, or even exceeds, the lion in strength and fierceness;" and this he proves from the testimonies of ancient writers.

2 Fry reads, "I lay down among children of men, who are flaming fire, or breathing flames." Ainsworth reads, "I lie among inflamers;" "meaning," says he, "fiery, fierce, and raging persons, that flamed with wrath and envy, and inflamed others. Of such David did complain to Saul, 1 Samuel. 24:40." French and Skinner read, "men of fiery spirit; and observe, that the Hebrew is flaming sons of men, i.e., violent men urging on my destruction." Mant observes, that it may either be "persons set on fire, that is, with rage and malice; or, perhaps, setters on fire, kindlers of mischief, incendiaries."