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63. Psalm 63

O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;

2To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.

3Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.

4Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.

5My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:

6When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.

7Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.

8My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.

9But those that seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth.

10They shall fall by the sword: they shall be a portion for foxes.

11But the king shall rejoice in God; every one that sweareth by him shall glory: but 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.


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