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Psalm 63:9-11

9. And they, whilst they seek my soul to destroy it, shall go into the lowest parts of the earth. 10. They shall cast him out 435435     “יגירהו,” here rendered, they shall cast him out, “from נגר, signifies in Hiphil, they shall cause to be poured out, or shall pour out The word is ordinarily applied to water, 2 Samuel 14:14; Lamentations 3:49. But here, by the immediate mention of the sword, it is restrained to the effusion of blood; and being in the third person plural, in the active sense, it is, after the Hebrew idiom, to be interpreted in the passive sense, ‘They shall pour out by the hand of the sword;’ i e. ‘They shall be poured out by the sword,’ the hand of the sword being no more than the edge of the sword.” — Hammond Dr Adam Clarke gives the same version: “They shall be poured out by the hand of the sword Heb. That is, their life’s blood shall be shed either in war, or by the hand of justice.” But נגר, nagar, also signifies metaphorically to give over into ones hands, to give up, as in the phrase, הגיר על ירי חרב, “to deliver any one up to the sword.” See Ezekiel 35:5; Jeremiah 18:21. And the Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate, Aethiopic, and Arabic versions, Gesenius and Hare here read, “They shall be delivered to the sword.” Horsley translates, “They would shed it;” and observes, that it signifies “my life; for נפש, which is of the doubtful gender, is the antecedent of the masculine suffix הו.” to the edge of the sword: they shall be a portion for foxes. 11. But the king 436436     “I, who am king by God’s anointing, 1 Samuel 15:12, 13.” — Ainsworth. , shall rejoice in God; and every one who swears by him shall glory: for the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped.


9. And they, whilst they seek, etc. Here we find David rising to a more assured confidence, and triumphing as if he had already obtained the victory. And there is every reason to believe, that though he had escaped his difficulties, and was in circumstances of peace and prosperity when he wrote this psalm, yet he only expresses what he actually felt at the critical period when his life was in such imminent danger. He declares his conviction that the enemies who eagerly sought his life would be cut off; that God would cast them headlong into destruction; and that their very bodies should be left without burial. To be the portion of foxes, 437437     Under the Hebrew word שועל, shual, here rendered fox, was comprehended, in common language, the jackal, or Vulpes aureus, golden wolf, so called in Latin because its color is a bright yellow; and in this sense שועל, shual, has been generally interpreted here, because the jackal is found in Palestine, and feeds on carrion. Both of these circumstances are, however, also applicable to the fox, and, moreover, Bochart has made it probable that the specific name of the jackal (the θῶς of the Greeks) in Hebrew was אי, aye, the howler, being so called from the howling cry which he makes particularly at night. The term occurs in Isaiah 13:22; 34:14; and Jeremiah 50:39; where איים, ayim, is rendered, in our version, “the wild beasts of the islands,” an appellation very vague and indeterminate. At the same time, it is highly probable that shual generally refers to the jackal. Several of the modern oriental names of this animal, as the Turkish chical, and the Persian sciagal, sciachal, or schachal — whence the English jackal — from their resemblance to the Hebrew word shual, favor this supposition; and Dr Shaw, and other travelers, inform us, that while jackals are very numerous in Palestine, the common fox is rarely to be met with. We shall, therefore, be more correct, under these circumstances, in admitting that the jackal of the East is the Hebrew shual These animals never go alone, but always associate in packs of from fifty to two hundred. They are known to prey on dead bodies; and so greedy are they of human carcases, that they dig them out of their graves, and devour them, however putrescent They have been seen waiting near the grave at the time of a funeral eagerly watching their opportunity of digging up the body almost as soon as it was buried. “I have known several instances,” says a traveler quoted by Merrick, “of their attacking and devouring drunken men, whom they have found lying on the road, and have heard that they will do the same to men that are sick and helpless. I have seen many graves that have been opened by the jackals, and parts of the bodies pulled out by them.” They visit the field of battle to prey upon the dying and the dead, and they follow caravans for the same purpose. It is usual with the barbarous nations of the East to leave the bodies of their enemies, killed in battle, in the field, to be devoured by jackals and other animals. When the Psalmist, therefore, says that his enemies would become a portion for foxes, the meaning is, that they would be denied the rites of sepulture, which was deemed a great calamity, — that they should be left unburied, for jackals and other wild beasts to prey upon and devour. is the same thing with being left to be torn and devoured by the beasts of the field. It is often denounced as one judgment which should befall the wicked, that they would perish by the sword, and become the prey of wolves and of dogs, without privilege of sepulture. This is a fate which the best of men have met with in the world, — for good as well as bad are exposed to the stroke of temporal evil; — but there is this distinction, that God watches over the scattered dust of his own children, gathers it again, and will suffer nothing of them to perish, whereas, when the wicked are slain, and their bones spread on the field, this is only preparatory to their everlasting destruction.

11. But the king will rejoice in God. The deliverance which David received had not been extended to him as a private person, but the welfare of the whole Church was concerned in it, as that of the body in the safety of the head, and there is therefore a propriety in his representing all the people of God as rejoicing with him. Nor can we fail to admire his holy magnanimity in not scrupling to call himself king, overwhelming as the dangers were by which he was surrounded, because he laid claim to that honor by faith, though yet denied him in actual possession. In saying that he would rejoice in God, he refers to the gratitude which he would feel; at the same time, in extolling the divine goodness shown to him, he views it as it affected the common body of the faithful. 438438     “Sed extollit Dei gratiam, quia ad piorum omnium conservationem pertineat.” — Lat. “Mais il exalte et magnifie la grace de Dieu envers in d’autant qu’elle s’etendoit a la conservation de tous les fideles.” — Fr. As was already remarked, the safety of God’s chosen people, at that time, was inseparably connected with the reign of David and its prosperity — a figure by which it was the divine intention to teach us, that our happiness and glory depend entirely upon Christ. By those who swear in the name of the Lord, he means in general all his genuine servants. The act of solemnly calling upon God to witness and judge what we say, is one part of divine worship: hence an oath, by the figure of speech called synecdoche, is made to signify the profession of religion in general. We are not to imagine from this that God reckons all those to be his servants who make mention of his name. Many take it into their lips only to profane it by the grossest perjury; others outrage or slight it by entering into trifling and unnecessary oaths; and hypocrites are chargeable with wickedly abusing it. But those whom David refers to are such as swear by the Lord, considerately and with reverence, and whose hearts respond to what they declare. This appears more clearly from the contrast which follows in the verse, where he opposes those who swear by the name of God to those who speak lies, understanding by that term, not only treacherous and deceitful men, but men who profane the name of God by falsehoods of a sacrilegious kind.

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