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3when I am afraid,

I put my trust in you.

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1 Be merciful unto me, O God! for man swallows me up 330330     The verb here translated swallows me up, is rendered by French and Skinner, panteth after me. It is literally draweth in the air. It thus implies the intense desire of David’s enemies to get him into their hands, and to destroy him. It would be difficult to determine whether he speaks here of foreign or domestic enemies. When brought to King Achish he was as a sheep between two bands of wolves, an object of deadly hatred to the Philistines on the one hand, and exposed to equal persecutions from his own fellow-countrymen. He uses the indefinite term man in this verse, though in the next he speaks of having many enemies, the more forcibly to express the truth that the whole world was combined against him, that he experienced no humanity amongst men, and stood in the last necessity of divine help. The term daily would suggest that he refers more immediately to Saul and his faction. But in general, he deplores the wretchedness of his fate in being beset with adversaries so numerous and so barbarous. Some translate שאף, shaaph, to regard, but it is more properly rendered to swallow up, a strong expression, denoting the insatiable rage with which they assailed him. I have adhered to the common translation of לחם, lacham, though it also signifies to eat up, which might consist better with the metaphor already used in the preceding part of the verse. It is found, however, in the sense to fight against, and I was unwilling to depart from the received rendering. I shall only observe in passing, that those who read in the second member of the verse, many fighting with me, as if he alluded to the assistance of angels, mistake the meaning of the passage; for it is evident that he uses the language of complaint throughout the verse.

3. In the day that I was afraid, etc. In the Hebrew, the words run in the future tense, but they must be resolved into the praeterite. He acknowledges his weakness, in so far as he was sensible of fear, but denies having yielded to it. Dangers might distress him, but could not induce him to surrender his hope. He makes no pretensions to that lofty heroism which contemns danger, and yet while he allows that he felt fear, he declares his fixed resolution to persist in a confident expectation of the divine favor. The true proof of faith consists in this, that when we feel the solicitations of natural fear, we can resist them, and prevent them from obtaining an undue ascendancy. Fear and hope may seem opposite and incompatible affections, yet it is proved by observation, that the latter never comes into full sway unless there exists some measure of the former. In a tranquil state of the mind, there is no scope for the exercise of hope. At such times it lies dormant, and its power is only displayed to advantage when we see it elevating the soul under dejection, calming its agitations, or soothing its distractions. This was the manner in which it manifested itself in David, who feared, and yet trusted, was sensible of the greatness of his danger, and yet quieted his mind with the confident hope of the divine deliverance.