6. Break their teeth, O God! in their mouth: break the jaws of the lions. 7. Let them flow away like waters, let them depart: let them bend their bow, and let their arrows be as broken.18. Let him vanish like a snail, which melts away; like the untimely birth of a woman, which does not see the sun. 9. Before your pots2 can feel the fire of the thorns, a whirlwind shall carry him away, like flesh yet raw.
In the next verse, and in the several succeeding verses, he prosecutes the same purpose, employing a variety of apt similitudes. He prays that God would make them
1 There is nothing in the original for, "Let their arrows be;" it is a supplement made by Calvin in the French version. There is some difficulty in the last member of the verse. Many interpreters refer it to God, who bends his bow against the ungodly. This agrees with the Septuagint, Vulgate, Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic versions. But Symmachus and others refer it to ungodly men, who study, indeed, to hurt the godly, but without effect. "This seems," says Dathe, "to be the most natural connection: in the 6th verse the sacred writer addresses God himself in the second person; and there is here described the unsuccessful issue of the endeavors of the wicked against the righteous." "I am persuaded," says Rogers, "that some word, the name of something with which the wicked, perishing under the Divine vengeance, were compared, is lost in the Hebrew." -- Book of Psalms in Hebrew, volume2, p. 213.
2 "Ou, vos espines." -- Fr. marg. "Or, your thorns."
3 "Break their teeth in their mouth" is most probably a continuation of the metaphorical illustration taken from serpents and adders immediately before, whose poison is contained in a bag at the bottom of one of their teeth, and who are disarmed by being deprived of this tooth which conveys the poison. This the charmer sometimes does after he has brought them out of their retreats by music. When the serpent makes its appearance, he seizes it by the throat, draws it forth, shows its poisoned fangs, and beats them out. To this beating out there seems to be here an allusion. "This mention of teeth," says Hammond, "fairly introduces that which follows concerning the lion, whose doing mischief with that part is more violent and formidable, and so signifies the open, riotous invader, the violent and lawless person; as the serpent's teeth, the more secret, indiscernible wounds of the whisperer or backbiter, which yet are as dangerous and destructive as the former, by the smallest puncture killing him on whom they fasten."
4 The original word for snail occurs only in this instance in the whole Bible. The LXX. render it
5 "Si reputamus quantum temporis inani fiducia devorent," etc. Literally, "If we consider how much time they devour in their vain-confidence," etc. The French version adheres to this translation of the mere words. "Si nous regardons combien ils devorent de temps par leur vaine confiance." We have hazarded the more free translation given in the text, because this seems one of those instances where the brevity of the Latin idiom demands explanation, in order that the idea may be intelligible in any other language.
6 This verse has been deemed one of the most difficult passages in the Psalter, and has greatly perplexed commentators. Bishop Horsley reads --
"Before your pots feel the bramble,
In whirlwind and hurricane he shall sweep them away."
He supposes that the language is proverbial, and that the Psalmist describes the sudden eruption of the divine wrath; sudden and violent as the ascension of the dry bramble underneath the housewife's pot. Walford reads --
"Before your cooking vessels feel the fuel;
Both the green and the dry a whirlwind shall scatter."
The passage is supposed by this author and others to contain an allusion to the manners of the Arabs, who, when they want to cook their food, collect bushes and brambles, both green and withered, with which they kindle a fire in the open air. But before their culinary vessels are sensibly afflicted with the heat, a whirlwind not unfrequently arises and scatters the fuel. And this strikingly expresses the sudden and premature destruction of the wicked. Fry gives a somewhat different explanation. He reads --
"Sooner than your vessels can feel the blazing thorn,
The hot blast shall consume them, as well the green as the dry."
And he observes, that "