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120. Psalm 120

In my distress I cried unto the Lord, and he heard me.

2Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue.

3What shall be given unto thee? or what shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue?

4Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper.

5Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar!

6My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace.

7I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war.

6. My soul 5858     My soul, for I. hath long dwelt with him who hateth peace. The Psalmist now shows, without figure, and, so to speak, points with the finger to those 5959    Et (par maniere de dire) monstre au doigt ceux,” etc — Fr. whom he had before indirectly marked out by the terms Mesech and kedar, namely, the perfidious Israelites, who had degenerated from the holy fathers, and who rather wore the mask of Israelites than were the true seed of Israel. 6060     “Aseavoir les Israelites desloyaux qui avoyent forligne’ des saincts Peres, et qui estoyent plustost des masques d’Israclites, que non pas une vraye semence d’Israel.” — Fr. He calls them haters of peace, 6161     In describing those among whom he was now living as haters of peace, and, in the next verse, as bent on war, the inspired writer probably still alludes to the Arab tribes he had specified in the 5th verse, who have, from their origin to the present hour, been eminently characterized by their hatred of peace and propensity to war. Dr. Shaw thus writes concerning these barbarous tribes as they are to be found in our own day, and their character and habits were the same at the time when this Psalm was written: “The Arabs are naturally thievish and treacherous; and it sometimes happens, that those very persons are overtaken and pillaged in the morning who were entertained the night before with all the instances of friendship and hospitality. Neither are they to be accused for plundering strangers only, and attacking almost every person whom they find unarmed and defenceless, but for those many implacable and hereditary animosities which continually subsist among them: literally fulfilling the prophecy to Hagar, that ‘Ishmael should be a wild man; his hand should be against every man, and every man’s hand against him.’” because they wilfully, and with deliberate malice, set themselves to make war upon the good and unoffending. To the same purpose he adds immediately after, that his heart was strongly inclined to seek after peace, or rather, that he was wholly devoted to it, and had tried every means in order to win their favor, but that the implacable cruelty of their disposition invariably impelled them to do him mischief. When he says, I peace, it is an abrupt, yet not an obscure expression, implying that he had not done them any injury or wrong which could give occasion for their hatred there having been always peace on his part. He even proceeds farther, asserting, that when he saw them inflamed with resentment against him, he endcavourcd to pacify them, and to bring them to a good understanding; for to speak, is here equivalent to offering conditions of peace in an amicable spirit, or to treating of reconciliation. From this it is still more apparent, how savage and brutal was the pride of David’s enemies, since they disdained even to speak with him — to speak with a man who had deserved well at their hands, and who had never in any respect injured them. We are taught by his example, that it is not enough for the faithful to abstain from hurting others: they must, moreover, study to allure them by gentleness, and to bend them to good will. Should their moderation and kindness be rejected, let them wait in patience, until God at length show himself from heaven as their protector. Let us, however, remember, that if God does not immediately stretch forth his hand in our behalf, it is our duty to bear the wearisomeness occasioned by delay, like David, whom we find in this Psalm giving, thanks to God for his deliverance, while, at the same time, as if worn out with the weariness of waiting for it, he bewails the long oppression to which he had been subjected by his enemies.


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