Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 9: Psalms, Part II, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
The greater part of this psalm is occupied with meditations, in which David encourages himself and others to hope in God, and fortifies his mind against the assaults of temptation. And as we are ever prone to be drawn away from God by the influence which worldly objects exert over our senses, perishing and evanescent as these are, occasion is taken to show the folly of this, and bring us to a single and entire dependence upon God.
To the chief musician upon Jeduthun, A Psalm of David.
The fact being ascertained that there was one of the chief singers who bore the name of Jeduthun, some have thought that this psalm was committed into his hands to be sung, (1 Chr. 9:16, 1 Chr. 16:38, 41, 1 Chr. 25:1) In the title to Psalm 39, it is sufficiently probable that the allusion is to some musician of that family. But this would not seem to be the case here; for the psalm is not said to be given to, but upon Jeduthun. This has led to the opinion that it formed the beginning of some song commonly known at that time. Still the Hebrew particle על, al, which we have rendered upon, means frequently for, to, or before; and it will consist with the words to suppose, that this psalm was put into the hands of the posterity of Jeduthun. 408
1. Nevertheless, my soul is silent towards God: from him is my salvation. 2. Nevertheless, he himself is my rock and my salvation, my high tower: I shall not be greatly moved.
1. Nevertheless, my soul is silent towards God. Should the translation I have followed be adopted, the psalm is to be considered as beginning abruptly, in the usual style of compositions of an impassioned kind. 409 Of this we have an instance in Psalm 73, where the prophet, who had been agitated with doubts, as we shall see more particularly afterwards, suddenly brings his mind to a fixed decision, and, in the way of cutting off all further subject of debate, exclaims, “Yet God is good to Israel.” And so it is, I conceive, in the psalm before us. We know that the Lord’s people cannot always reach such a measure of composure as to be wholly exempt from distraction. They would wish to receive the word of the Lord with submission, and to be dumb under his correcting hand; but inordinate affections will take possession of their minds, and break in upon that peace which they might otherwise attain to in the exercise of faith and resignation. Hence the impatience we find in many; an impatience which they give vent to in the presence of God, and which is an occasion to themselves of much trouble and disquietude. The Hebrew particle אך, ach, is often used in an exclusive sense, and has been rendered by some, only; it is also employed in an affirmative sense, and has been rendered truly, or certainly. But in order to arrive at its full meaning, we must suppose that David felt an inward struggle and opposition, which he found it necessary to check. Satan had raised a tumult in his affections, and wrought a degree of impatience in his mind, which he now curbs; and he expresses his resolution to be silent. 410 The word implies a meek and submissive endurance of the cross. It expresses the opposite of that heat of spirit which would put us into a posture of resistance to God. The silence intended is, in short, that composed submission of the believer, in the exercise of which he acquiesces in the promises of God, gives place to his word, bows to his sovereignty, and suppresses every inward murmur of dissatisfaction. The Hebrew word דומיה, dumiyah, which I have rendered is silent, some consider to be the noun; and it is of little consequence which translation we adopt.
The particle אך, ach, in the second verse, I would render in the same way as in the first. The believer triumphs in one encounter with temptation only to enter upon another; and here David, who appeared to have emerged from his distress, shows that he had still to struggle with remaining difficulties. We meet with the same particle no fewer than six times throughout the psalm. This, too, may explain the many titles which he applies to God, each of which is to be considered as a foil by which he would ward off the attacks of the tempter. The expression in the close of the verse, I shall not be greatly moved, implies his persuasion that he might be overtaken with afflictions, (for he was well aware that he could claim no exemption from the common lot of humanity,) but his conviction, at the same time, that these would not overwhelm him, through the good help of God. We shall find him saying afterwards, in so many words, I shall not fall; perhaps because he felt, as he advanced in prayer, that he had greater boldness in despising affliction. Or the expressions may be taken as synonymous in the two places. The truth itself is unquestionable. The believer may be overthrown for a time; but as he is no sooner cast down than he is raised up again by God, he cannot properly be said to fall. He is supported by the Spirit of God, and is not therefore really prostrated and overcome.
3. How long will ye continue mischief against a man? 411 ye shall be slain all of you: as a bowing wall shall ye be, and a fence which has been struck. 4. Yet they consult to cast him down from his elevations: they delight in lies: they bless with their mouth, and curse inwardly. Selah. 5. Nevertheless, my soul, be thou silent before God: for my expectation is from him. 6. Nevertheless, he is my rock and my salvation: my high tower; I shall not fall.
3. How long will ye continue mischief? The Hebrew word תהותתו, tehotethu, 412 which I have translated continue, or lengthen out, mischief, is rendered by some, to meditate, or imagine mischief, while others suppose an allusion to the putting forth of the tongue in sign of mockery. It has been rendered also, to rush upon, or assault. The sense of the passage seems to be, How long will ye meditate evil against a man, and persist in mischievous devices for accomplishing his ruin? He has in view the obstinate malice of his enemies, moving every stone for his destruction, and forming new plans daily for effecting it. The instruction to be learned from his experience is, that we should exercise patience, even when our enemies show unwearied cruelty in their attempts to destroy us, and are instigated by the devil to incessant artifices for our persecution. We may just advert to the meaning of the figure which is subjoined. Some think that the wicked are compared to a bowing wall, because it threatens every moment to fall to the ground, and they, upon every sin which they commit, tend more and more downwards, till they are precipitated into destruction. But it would seem as if the allusion were somewhat different. A wall, when ill built, bulges out in the center, presenting the appearance of nearly twice its actual breadth; but, as it is hollow within, it soon falls to ruins. The wicked, in like manner, are dilated with pride, and assume, in their consultations, a most formidable appearance; but David predicts that they would be brought to unexpected and utter destruction, like a wall badly constructed, and hollow in the interior, which falls with a sudden crash, and is broken by its own weight into a thousand pieces. 413 The word גדר, gader, which I have rendered, a fence, means, properly, an enclosure built of slight and insufficient materials; 414 and an epithet is added still more to express the violence and impetuosity of their fall. The Psalmist, then, would teach us that, high as our enemies may appear to stand, and proud and swelling as their denunciations may be, they shall be suddenly and signally overthrown, like a smitten wall.
4. Yet they consult to cast him down from his elevation I still would interpret the particle אך, ach, in an adversative sense. David, on the one hand, encouraged himself by determining to rest steadfastly upon the promise of divine favor; but, upon the other, he had before him the machinations of his enemies, characterised by cruelty, audacity, pride, and deceit. By all their attempts, as if he had said, they do nothing but precipitate their own fall; still such are the frenzy and the fury by which they are actuated, that they persist in their intrigues against me. He insinuates that their attacks were directed, not so much against himself as against God — agreeably to the picture which is given us of impiety by the poets in their fable of the Giants. 415 Nothing will satisfy the enemies of God but setting themselves above the heavens. David is to be understood as primarily speaking here of himself in the third person, but of himself as elevated expressly by the divine hand. Accordingly, though we might consider that God is the party directly intended, the scope of the words rather intimates that they aimed at the overthrow of one whom God had exalted, and desired to establish in honor. In thus attempting to thwart his purpose, they were really fighting against God. The clause which follows, they delight in lies, has reference to the same thing. Refusing to acknowledge his divine vocation, they persevered in following such corrupt designs, as could only recoil upon them to their own confusion, as the Psalmist exclaims,
“O ye sons of men! how long is my glory made matter of your reproach? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah.” — (Ps 4:2)
Or the expression may denote the hidden and deceitful measures which they adopted in their persecution of this saint of God; for it is immediately added, that they blessed with their mouth, but cursed inwardly Whatever may be the meaning, it is evident that David, contemplating all the treachery, intrigues, and wickedness of his enemies, supports himself by the single consideration, that his help was in God, and that every opposing instrumentality was therefore vain.
5. Nevertheless, my soul, be thou silent before God. Here there may appear to be a slight inconsistency, inasmuch as he encourages himself to do what he had already declared himself to have done. His soul was silent before God; and where the necessity of this new silence, as if still under agitation of spirit? Here it is to be remembered, that our minds can never be expected to reach such perfect composure as shall preclude every inward feeling of disquietude, but are, at the best, as the sea before a light breeze, fluctuating sensibly, though not swollen into billows. It is not without a struggle that the saint can compose his mind; and we can very well understand how David should enjoin more perfect submission upon a spirit which was already submissive, urging upon himself farther advancement in this grace of silence, till he had mortified every carnal inclination, and thoroughly subjected himself to the will of God. How often, besides, will Satan renew the disquietudes which seemed to be effectually expelled? Creatures of such instability, and liable to be borne away by a thousand different influences, we need to be confirmed again and again. I repeat, that there is no reason to be surprised though David here calls upon himself a second time to preserve that silence before God, which he might already appear to have attained; for, amidst the disturbing motions of the flesh, perfect composure is what we never reach. The danger is, that when new winds of troubles spring up, we lose that inward tranquillity which we enjoyed, and hence the necessity of improving the example of David, by establishing ourselves in it more and more. He adds the ground of his silence. He had no immediate response from God, but he confidently hoped in him. My expectation, he says, is from God. Never, as if he had said, will he frustrate the patient waiting of his saints; doubtless my silence shall meet with its reward; I shall restrain myself, and not make that false haste which will only retard my deliverance.
7. In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my hope, is in God. 8. Hope in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is our hope. Selah. 9. Nevertheless, the sons of Adam are vanity, and the children of men 416 a lie 417 when they ascend in the scales, they are found together lighter than vanity. 418 10. Trust not in oppression and robbery, and be not vain: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.
7. In God is my salvation One expression is here heaped upon another and this apparently because he wished to rein that infirmity of disposition which makes us so prone to slide into wrong exercise. We may throw out a passing and occasional acknowledgement, that our only help is to be found in God, and yet shortly display our distrust in him by busying ourselves in all directions to supplement what we consider defective in his aid. The various terms which he employs to express the sufficiency of God as a deliverer, may thus be considered as so many arguments to constancy, or so many checks which he would apply to the waywardness of the carnal heart, ever disposed to depend for support upon others rather than God. Such is the manner in which he animates his own spirit; and next, we find him addressing himself to others, calling upon them to enter upon the same conflict, and reap the same victory and triumph. By the people, there seems little doubt that he means the Jews. The Gentiles being yet unvisited by the true religion and divine revelation, it was only in Judea that God could be the object of trust and religious invocation; and it would appear, that by distinguishing the chosen people of the Lord from the surrounding heathen, he insinuates how disgraceful it would be in them not to devote themselves entirely to God, being, as they were, the children of Abraham, favored with the discovery of his grace, and specially taken under his divine protection. The expression, at all times, means both in prosperity and adversity, intimating the blameworthiness of those who waver and succumb under every variation in their outward circumstances. God tries his children with afflictions, but here they are taught by David to abide them with constancy and courage. The hypocrites, who are loud in their praises of God so long as prosperity shines upon their head, while their heart fails them upon the first approach of trial, dishonor his name by placing a most injurious limitation to his power. We are bound to put honor upon his name by remembering, in our greatest extremities, that to Him belong the issues of death. And as we are all too apt at such times to shut up our affliction in our own breast — a circumstance which can only aggravate the trouble and imbitter the mind against God, David could not have suggested a better expedient than that of disburdening our cares to him, and thus, as it were, pouring out our hearts before him. It is always found, that when the heart is pressed under a load of distress, there is no freedom in prayer. 419 Under trying circumstances, we must comfort ourselves by reflecting that God will extend relief, provided we just freely roll them over upon his consideration. What the Psalmist advises is all the more necessary, considering the mischievous tendency which we have naturally to keep our troubles pent up in our breasts till they drive us to despair. Usually, indeed, men show much anxiety and ingenuity in seeking to escape from the troubles which may happen to press upon them; but so long as they shun coming into the presence of God, they only involve themselves in a labyrinth of difficulties. Not to insist farther upon the words, David is here to be considered as exposing that diseased but deeply-rooted principle in our nature, which leads us to hide our griefs, and ruminate upon them, instead of relieving ourselves at once by pouring out our prayers and complaints before God. The consequence is, that we are distracted more and more with our distresses, and merge into a state of hopeless despondency. In the close of the verse, he says, in reference to the people generally, what he had said of himself individually, that their safety was to be found only under the divine protection.
9. Nevertheless, the sons of Adam are vanity. If we take the particle אך, ach, affirmatively, as meaning surely or certainly, then this verse contains a confirmation of the truth expressed in the preceding verse; and David argues by contrast, 420 that as men are lighter than vanity, we are shut up to the necessity of placing all our expectation upon God. It would agree well, however, with the contrast to suppose, that, under an impression of the little effect which the truth he had announced was calculated to have upon the people, (ever disposed to build upon fallacious hopes,) he exclaims, with a degree of holy fervor, Nevertheless, etc. According to this view, he is here administering a reproof to the blind infidelity so prevalent amongst men, and which leads them to deceive themselves with lying vanities rather than trust in the infallible promises of Jehovah. Having had occasion to discover such a large amount of vanity in the chosen seed of Abraham, he does not scruple to speak of the whole human family in general as being abandoned to lying delusions. The adverb יחד, yachad, together, intimates that all, without exception, are ready to find an occasion of turning aside. Such is the sweeping condemnation passed, not upon a few individuals, but upon human nature, declaring men to be lighter than vanity; and may we not ask what in this case becomes of boasted reason, wisdom, and free-will? It is of no avail to object, that believers are delivered from the deceit which is here condemned. If they owe their exemption from lying and vanity to the regeneration of the Spirit, this is to grant that they were subject to these in their natural state. The first man was created by God upright, but drew us by his fall into such a depth of corruption, that any light which was originally bestowed has been totally obscured. Is it alleged that there still remain in man such gifts of God as are not to be despised, and as distinguish him from all the other creatures, this is easily answered, by remembering, that however great these may be, he is tainted by sin, and therefore nothing to be accounted of. It is only when allied with the knowledge of God that any of the endowments conferred upon us from above can be said to have a real excellency; — apart from this, they are vitiated by that contagion of sin which has not left a vestige in man of his original integrity. With too much justice, then, might David say that all men are vanity and nothingness.
10 Trust not in oppression and robbery We are here taught that there can be no real trusting in God until we put away all those vain confidences which prove so many means of turning us away from him. The Psalmist bids us remove whatsoever would have this tendency, and purge ourselves of every vicious desire that would usurp the place of God in our hearts. One or two kinds of sin only are mentioned, but these are to be understood as representing a part for the whole, all those vain and rival confidences of which we must be divested before we can cleave to God with true purpose and sincerity of heart. By oppression and robbery may be understood the act itself of abstracting by violence, and the thing which has been abstracted. It is obviously the design of the passage to warn us against the presumption and hardihood of sin, which is so apt to blind the hearts of men, and deceive them into the belief that their evil courses are sanctioned by the impunity which is extended to them. Interpreters have differed in their construction of the words of this verse. Some join to each of the nouns its own verb, reading, Trust not in oppression, and be not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them. 421 Others connect the words oppression and robbery with the first verb, and make the second to stand apart by itself in an indefinite sense. It is of very little consequence which of the constructions we adopt, since both express the main sentiment; and it is evident that the Psalmist, in condemning the infatuated confidence of those who boast in robbery, appropriately terms it a mere illusion of the mind, with which they deceive or amuse themselves. Having denounced, in the first place, those desires which are plainly evil and positively wicked, he proceeds immediately afterwards to guard against an inordinate attachment even to such riches as may have been honestly acquired. To set the heart upon riches, means more than simply to covet the possession of them. It implies being carried away by them into a false confidence, or, to use an expression of Paul, “Being high-minded.” The admonition here given is one which daily observation teaches us to be necessary. It is uniformly seen that prosperity and abundance engender a haughty spirit, leading men at once to be presumptuous in their carriage before God, and reckless in inflicting injury upon their fellow-creatures. But, indeed, the worst effect to be feared from a blind and ungoverned spirit of this kind is, that, in the intoxication of outward greatness, we be left to forget how frail we are, and proudly and contumeliously to exalt ourselves against God.
11. God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this, that power belongeth unto God. 12. Also unto thee, O Lord: belongeth mercy; thou wilt certainly render to every man according to his work.
11 God hath spoken once. The Psalmist considered that the only effectual method of abstracting the minds of men from the vain delusions in which they are disposed to trust, was bringing them to acquiesce implicitly and firmly in the judgment of God. Usually they are swayed in different directions, or inclined at least to waver, just as they observe things changing in the world; 422 but he brings under their notice a surer principle for the regulation of their conduct, when he recommends a deferential regard to God’s Word. God himself “dwells in the light which is inaccessible,” (1Ti 6:16;) and as none can come to him except by faith, the Psalmist calls our attention to his word, in which he testifies the truth of his divine and righteous government of the world. It is of great consequence that we be established in the belief of God’s Word, and we are here directed to the unerring certainty which belongs to it. The passage admits of two interpretations; but the scope of it is plainly this, that God acts consistently with himself, and can never swerve from what he has said. Many understand David to say that God had spoken once and a second time; and that by this explicit and repeated assertion of his power and mercy, he had confirmed the truth beyond all possibility of contradiction. There is a passage much to the same effect in the thirty-third chapter of the book of Job, and fourteenth verse, where the same words are used, only the copulative is interposed. If any should prefer it, however, I have no objections to the other meaning — God has spoken once; twice have I heard this. It agrees with the context, and suggests a practical lesson of great importance; for when God has once issued his word he never retracts: on the other hand, it is our duty to ponder on what he has said, long and deliberately; and the meaning of David will then be, that he considered the Word of God in the light of a decree, steadfast and irreversible, but that, as regarded his exercise in reference to it, he meditated upon it again and again, lest the lapse of time might obliterate it from his memory. But the simpler and preferable reading would seem to be, that God had spoken once and again. There is no force in the ingenious conjecture, that allusion may be made to God’s having spoken once in the Law, and a second time in the Prophets. Nothing more is meant than that the truth referred to had been amply confirmed, it being usual to reckon anything certain and fixed which has been repeatedly announced. Here, however, it must be remembered, that every word which may have issued forth from God is to be received with implicit authority, and no countenance given to the abominable practice of refusing to receive a doctrine, unless it can be supported by two or three texts of Scripture. This has been defended by an unprincipled heretic among ourselves, who has attempted to subvert the doctrine of a free election, and of a secret providence. It was not the intention of David to say that God was tied down to the necessity of repeating what he might choose to announce, but simply to assert the certainty of a truth which had been declared in clear and unambiguous terms. In the context which follows, he exemplifies himself that deferential reverence and regard for the word of God which all should, but which so few actually do, extend to it.
We might just put together, in a connected form, the particular doctrines which he has singled out for special notice. It is essentially necessary, if we would fortify our minds against temptation, to have suitably exalted views of the power and mercy of God, since nothing will more effectually preserve us in a straight and undeviating course, than a firm persuasion that all events are in the hand of God, and that he is as merciful as he is mighty. Accordingly, David follows up what he had said on the subject of the deference to be yielded to the word, by declaring that he had been instructed by it in the power and goodness of God. Some understand him to say, that God is possessed of power to deliver his people, and of clemency imbuing him to exercise it. But he would rather appear to mean, that God is strong to put a restraint upon the wicked, and crush their proud and nefarious designs, but ever mindful of his goodness in protecting and defending his own children. The man who disciplines himself to the contemplation of these two attributes, which ought never to be dissociated in our minds from the idea of God, is certain to stand erect and immovable under the fiercest assaults of temptation; while, on the other hand, by losing sight of the all-sufficiency of God, (which we are too apt to do,) we lay ourselves open to be overwhelmed in the first encounter. The world’s opinion of God is, that he sits in heaven an idle and unconcerned spectator of events which are passing. Need we wonder, that men tremble under every casualty, when they thus believe themselves to be the sport of blind chance? There can be no security felt unless we satisfy ourselves of the truth of a divine superintendence, and can commit our lives and all that we have to the hands of God. The first thing which we must look to is his power, that we may have a thorough conviction of his being a sure refuge to such as cast themselves upon his care. With this there must be conjoined confidence in his mercy, to prevent those anxious thoughts which might otherwise rise in our minds. These may suggest the doubt — What though God govern the world? does it follow that he will concern himself about such unworthy objects as ourselves?
There is an obvious reason, then, for the Psalmist coupling these two things together, his power and his clemency. They are the two wings wherewith we fly upwards to heaven; the two pillars on which we rest, and may defy the surges of temptation. Does danger, in short, spring up from any quarter, then just let us call to remembrance that divine power which can bid away all harms, and as this sentiment prevails in our minds, our troubles cannot fail to fall prostrate before it. Why should we fear — how can we be afraid, when the God who covers us with the shadow of his wings, is the same who rules the universe with his nod, holds in secret chains the devil and all the wicked, and effectually overrules their designs and intrigues?
The Psalmist adds, Thou wilt certainly render to every man according to his work. And here he brings what he said to bear still more closely upon the point which he would establish, declaring that the God who governs the world by his providence will judge it in righteousness. The expectation of this, duly cherished, will have a happy effect in composing our minds, allaying impatience, and checking any disposition to resent and retaliate under our injuries. In resting himself and others before the great bar of God, he would both encourage his heart in the hope of that deliverance which was coming, and teach himself to despise the insolent persecution of his enemies, when he considered that every man’s work was to come into judgment before Him, who can no more cease to be Judge than deny himself. We can therefore rest assured, however severe our wrongs may be, though wicked men should account us the filth and the off-scourings of all things, that God is witness to what we suffer, will interpose in due time, and will not disappoint our patient expectation. From this, and passages of a similar kind, the Papists have argued, in defense of their doctrine, that justification and salvation depend upon good works; but I have already exposed the fallacy of their reasoning. No sooner is mention made of works, than they catch at the expression, as amounting to a statement that God rewards men upon the ground of merit. It is with a very different design than to encourage any such opinion, that the Spirit promises a reward to our works — it is to animate us in the ways of obedience, and not to inflame that impious self-confidence which cuts up salvation by the very roots. According to the judgment which God forms of the works of the believer, their worth and valuation depend, first, upon the free pardon extended to him as a sinner, and by which he becomes reconciled to God; and, next, upon the divine condescension and indulgence which accepts his services, 423 notwithstanding all their imperfections. We know that there is none of our works which, in the sight of God, can be accounted perfect or pure, and without taint of sin. Any recompense they meet with must therefore be traced entirely to his goodness. Since the Scriptures promise a reward to the saints, with the sole intention of stimulating their minds, and encouraging them in the divine warfare, and not with the remotest design of derogating from the mercy of God, it is absurd in the Papists to allege that they, in any sense, merit what is bestowed upon them. As regards the wicked, none will dispute that the punishment awarded to them, as violators of the law, is strictly deserved.
Jeduthun was first chosen to be one of the chief musicians in conducting the praises of the Jewish sanctuary when the ark was brought from Obed-edom to mount Zion. His sons were also appointed to preside over different departments of the vocal and instrumental worship in the tabernacle. He had six sons who were thus employed. Jeduthun and his family appear to have been eminent for their piety, and to have been endued with the spirit of prophecy.
“Sicuti patheticae sententiae ut plurimum defectivae sunt.” — Lat. “Comme nous scavons que les propos dits de quelque affection vehemente, le plus souvent sont imparfaits.” — Fr.
The import of the Hebrew word is “patient silence.” The Septuagint reads, “Ουχι τῶ Θεῶ ὑποταγήσεται ἡ ψυχή μου? “Shall not my soul be subject to God?” And doubtless the Psalmist intended to say that his soul was quiet, submissive, and subject; the rebellious affections being tamed and subdued. With respect to the translation of our English Bible, “Truly my soul waiteth upon God,” Dr Adam Clarke remarks, “I do not think that the original will warrant this translation.” He reads, “Surely to God only is my soul dumb;” which he thus explains: “I am subject to God Almighty. He has a right to lay on me what He pleases; and what He lays on me is much less than I deserve; therefore am I dumb before God. The Vulgate, and, almost all the versions, have understood it in this sense: ‘Nonne Deo subjecta erit anima mea? Shall not my soul be subject to God?’” With this agree the version and interpretation of Calvin.
“Ou, courrez-vous sus l’homme?” — Fr. marg. “Or, will ye make assaults upon a man?”
Hammond observes, that this verb “is but once used in the Scriptures, and so will not be easily interpreted but either by the notion which we find put upon it by the ancient interpreters, or else by the Arabic use of it.” The Chaldee renders it, raise tumults; the Syriac, stir up, instigate, incite, or provoke; the Septuagint and Vulgate, assail, or rush upon; and the Arabic, use violence or injustice Gesenius gives the sense of the Septuagint. Kimchi and Aben Ezra read, pravitatis cogitabitis “Abu Walid compares תהותתו with the Arabic תהתהתו, with t, not with th, which signifies to multiply words; and so he would have it, according to the use of it in that tongue, to signify speaking much against, backbiting, defaming, spreading evil reports of, lashing out with your tongues against, for hurt. What he thus observes of תהותתו, with t, not th, may have place also with the word, as we have it; for the root with ת, th also in Arabic signifies mentiri, to lie, and confusion, injustice, violence; which as well agree to his sense as that of the root with t.” When David says, against a man, and uses also the third person in the fourth verse, it is of himself that he speaks. “Against a man; i e., against me, a man like yourselves, whom common hmnanity obliges you to pity; a single man, who is no fit match for you.” — Poole’s Annotations
Isaiah has also made use of this image to express sudden and utter destruction, (Isa 30:13.)
In the East it is common for the inhabitants to enclose their vineyards and gardens with hedges, consisting of various kinds of shrubs, and particularly such as are armed with spines. They have also mounds of earth-walls about their gardens. Rawwolff describes the gardens about Jerusalem as surrounded by mud-walls, not above four feet high, easily climbed over, and washed down by rain in a very little time. Stone-walls are also frequently used. Thus Egmont or Heyman, describing the country about Saphet, a celebrated city of Galilee, tells us, “The country round it is finely improved, the declivity being covered with vines, supported by low walls. — Harmer’s Observations, volume 2, pp. 216-219. Doubdan describes some of these in the Holy Land as built of loose stones, without any cement to join them. The original word probably means some such “fence” as this. Indeed, it always appears to denote a wall of stones: sometimes in express contradistinction to the hedge, or thorny fence. — See Parkhurst’s Lexicon, on גדר
“Les Poetes profanes ont dit que les Geans delibererent de prendre les plus hautes montagnes et les mettans l’une sur l’autre, monter jusques au ciel, pour arracher Jupiter de son siege.” — Fr. marg. “It was said by the profane poets that the Giants formed a design of taking the highest mountains which they could find piling them one above another, scaling the heavens, and taking Jupiter by storm.”
כני ארם, beney Adam, the sons of Adam כני אים, beney ish, the sons of substance, or children of substantial men, as Dr Adam Clarke renders the phrase. “Adam,” says he, “was the name of the first man when formed out of the earth: Ish was his name when united to his wife, and they became one flesh. Before, he was the incomplete man; after, he was the complete man.” The phrases are rendered in our English version, men of low degree, and men of high degree — See note, p. 236, of this volume; and volume1, note 1, p. 100.
“Because they promise much, and rouse men’s expectations upon consideration of their great power and dignity, but are not able to perform, and generally deceive those who trust in them. In which respect lying is ascribed to a fountain, Jer 15:18; to wine, Ho 9:2; to the olive, Hab 3:17; when they do not give what they promise.” — Poole’s Annotations.
הכל”hebel The radical meaning of the term is, a breath The same word occurs in the first clause, intimating, that men of low degree are as unsubstantial as a breath; and here men of low degree, and men of high degree, when both are united, are described as lighter than a breath. See p. 78 of this volume, note 1. “Taking the infinitive with ל, lamed, to stand for the future, as it often does, the latter part may be literally translated, ‘They will ascend together in the balance more than vanity.’” — Arch Secker This strongly expresses how unavailing it is to trust in man. If men of low degree and men of high degree are put both together in one scale, and vanity in the other, the scale of vanity will preponderate.
“Cependant que nostre coeur est enserre et comme estouppd de douleur, jamais il n’en sort de prieres naifves et franchement faites.” — Fr.
“A repugnantibus ostendet David.” — Lat. Explained in the French version thus — “Montrera par un argument prins des choses repugnantes.”
The words are thus connected in our English version.
“Ad varias mundi inclinationes.” — Lat. “Selon les divers changements qu’on voit au monde.” — Fr.
“D’une pure douceur et support debonnaire dont il use, il fait qu’icelles soyent acceptees de lui,” etc. — Fr.