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Bible Commentaries

Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Psalms 109

Psalms 109

The formal arrangement of this Psalm is very simple. It consists of three strophes, each of ten verses, and a concluding verse which gives the sum of the whole. “The Lord stands at the right hand of the needy man that he may deliver him from those who condemn his soul.” The ten is, according to the common rule, divided by a five.

In the first half of the first strophe, the Psalmist, after a short prayer, depicts the wickedness of his enemy; in the second half he prays that the appropriate punishment may fall upon him, in regard to his life, and in regard to his children. The first half of the second strophe invokes the divine annihilating energy upon his goods and his honour; the second half, corresponding to the first strophe, turns to the cause of this misery invoked upon him, and describes this as rooted in the divine justice, which recompenses like with like. As the two first strophes are occupied with judgments upon the wicked, with a formula at the end, formally shutting up the subject, the third is occupied with the deliverance of the miserable. The first half represents the greatness of his misery, and the second brings into view the divine assistance.

The situation is that of one who is in danger of losing his life by false accusations, one whom wicked enemies persecute to death by means of an unrighteous judgment; comp. especially Psalms 109:16, Psalms 109:20, and the conclusion, Psalms 109:31, which exactly describes the situation.

This situation, at the basis of which lie the relations of David, in the time of Saul, is to be strictly retained; comp. at Psalms 58. It constitutes the individual physiognomy of the Psalm; and to destroy it would require much more attention to be paid to the exposition than has hitherto been done. Still it is to be admitted, if not in a figurative yet in an individualizing sense. The Psalm belongs, as is manifest from its destination to the public worship of God ( to the chief musician), to those also whose lives are exposed to dangers arising from other causes.

The subject of the Psalm is the suffering righteous man; comp. Psalms 109:31. The Psalm may be applied directly to every individual in this situation. But that it may be referred, even according to the view of the Psalmist, also to the circumstances of the people, is obvious from its connection with Psalms 108, in which the people of God are introduced speaking. That the Psalmist had before his eyes at the same time the Davidic family, and especially Him in whom that family was destined to reach its summit, that the Psalm, as it proceeds from David as situated in the time of Saul, has him also for its object (as he existed in his seed), can admit of no doubt, if we compare the last verse of the Psalm with the first, and also with the ( Psalms 110:5) fifth of the Psalms 110. The points of contact are of such a kind that they leave no doubt as to the originality of the connection with each other of both Psalms, and moreover as to the fact that we have here before us, as in Psalms 101-103, a Davidic trilogy of Psalms. Here we have the help of the Lord imparted to his anointed in trouble, and there it is the glory of the Lord made known after deliverance: here he stands at his right hand to deliver him from those who condemn his soul, there his address is, “Sit thou at my right hand.”

This threefold reference of the Psalm has only the character of three rays, proceeding from the centre of the righteous man. The undeniable existence of this reference here throws a vivid light upon the other Psalms of David which describe the suffering righteous man; comp. at Psalms 69, Psalms 70, Psalms 71. The Psalms 102 Psalm in the preceding Davidic trilogy is analogous; for at first sight it seems destined only for the private use of the suffering righteous man; but in reality it serves another purpose.

The originality of the title which ascribes the Psalm to David, is confirmed by the corresponding titles of the two Psalms, between which the Psalm before us stands, and with which it is connected; by the brevity of the first verse, unexampled in the whole Psalms if the title be removed; by the number seven of the words of the first verse, corresponding to the seven divisions into which the Psalm falls, (six half strophes and a conclusion), divided as usually into a three and a four; the name Jehovah also, it may be noticed, occurs, in like manner, seven times, three times in the first ( Psalms 109:1-20), and four times in the second part. In favour of David being the author of the Psalm may be mentioned, besides the dependence of the Psalm upon the personal experience of David in the time of Saul, the view taken of the avenging justice of God, so characteristic of David, and also the fact, that the Psalm throughout is nearly connected with the other Davidic Psalms, which refer to the suffering righteous man, and that it comes into contact also in individual expressions with the Davidic Psalms, and only with such (comp. the exposition), and also in Psalms 109:17, with one expression of David’s, as ascertained from the historical books.

The reasons which have been adduced against the Davidic authorship are of no force. A great deal of weight has been laid upon the “exaggerated imprecations,” “history does not represent David as a man of this turn of mind, but rather of a magnanimous character.” But it has been repeatedly shown (last in the Introduction to Psalms 69), that the history represents David as also a person possessed of energetic faith in the avenging justice of God, and of lively desires for its execution; his magnanimity is so far from standing in opposition to this, that it is in this faith alone that it has its root. The assertion that the poetry is “too heavy and insipid for David,” proceeds partly from a dislike to the contents, transferred to the form which these contents assume, and partly from the imperfection of the exegetical efforts that have been made in interpreting the Psalm. Sentence of condemnation has been passed, while no reason existed on which that sentence could rest. A more correct verdict on the poetical character of the Psalm is to be found in Amyraldus. [Note: “I make bold, besides, to affirm, that the poet here exerted himself to the uttermost to compose a poem which should be the most eloquent of its kind. For he varies those his imprecations to such a great extent; some of them he sets forth under such a variety of forms, and with such different degrees of intensity; others he exhibits at such length and with such accuracy; he runs with care through all the topics which could furnish him with anything bearing upon his purpose; finally, he considers in such a variety of ways the curse of God, lest there should be, as it were, any one form of it which he does not imprecate upon his abandoned foe, that I have no doubt whatever he took very particular pains to render his poem, in this respect, altogether perfect.”]

The assertion of Grotius, “that there is nothing like this in the Gospels or in the Acts of the Apostles,” overlooks the circumstance, that alongside of the prayer; “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” which does not stand in the least in contradiction to our Psalm (for it is with consummated wickedness that the Psalmist has to do), there stands, in the preceding context, the oft-repeated woe which the Lord denounced against the Pharisees, and also the threatening of the dreadful judgments upon Judas and Judah, which contain in them a wish as assuredly as the will of Christ is in accordance with the will of God; it overlooks also the expressions of Paul, “The Lord smite thee, thou whited wall,” Acts 23:3, and “Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil, the Lord reward him according to his deeds,” 2 Timothy 4:14.

Several expositors, giving up the justification of the Psalm, have in vain endeavoured to find out some defence. The Psalm is either edifying or it is injurious in its tendency; it is either holy or abominable. We hold decidedly by the former alternative, after the example of the Apostle who found in this Psalm a prophecy of Christ, Acts 1:20. The man who considers the view which lies at the basis of our Psalm as objectionable, robs suffering righteousness of one of the chief fountains of consolation, and takes away from wickedness the bit and the bridle: the use of our Psalm even in this point of view is usually overlooked. That what has a holy meaning may be made an unholy use of cannot be brought as a ground of charge against it. [Note: Calvin: “Now as David did not speak except by the impulse of the Spirit, these imprecations are to be considered as if they were spoken by the voice of God from heaven, Thus, on the one band, in denouncing vengeance, he wounds and restrains all our wicked desires of injuring others, and, on the other, moderates our grief by administering that consolation which will enable us to bear injuries. And because it is not yet given us to distinguish between the elect and the reprobate, let us learn to pray for all who trouble us, to wish salvation to the whole human race, anxious even for individuals. Meanwhile this need not hinder us, provided our minds are pure and calm, from freely appealing to the judgment of God, in order that all the desperate may be destroyed.”]

Verses 1-10

Title. Ver. 1-10.

Title. To the Chief Musician, by David, a Psalm. Ver. 1. God my praise be not silent. Ver. 2. For they have opened the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of deceit against me, they speak with me with the tongue of lies. Ver. 3. And with words of hatred they surround me and fight against me without cause. Ver. 4. For my love they are my enemies and I am prayer. Ver. 5. And they shew me evil for good, and hatred for my love. Ver. 6. Place thou a wicked man over him, and let the enemy stand at his right hand. Ver. 7. When he shall be judged may he be found wicked, and may his prayer become sin. Ver. 8. May his days be few, may another take his office. Ver. 9. May his children become orphans, and his wife a widow. Ver. 10. May his children wander about and beg, and seek out of their ruins.—”God, my praise, be not silent,” in Psalms 109:1, is: thou who hast always given me abundant occasion to praise thee, be not now silent, that I may have here also a similar opportunity; comp. Psalms 109:30, “I shall praise the Lord exceedingly with my mouth, and in the midst of many I shall extol him.” The praise denotes here the object of the praise, as it does in the fundamental passage, Deuteronomy 10:21, “he is thy praise, and thy God who has done with thee this great and terrible thing which thine eyes behold;” comp. Psalms 22:3, Psalms 22:26, Psalms 44:8, and the dependent passage, Jeremiah 17:14, where it is recorded as the foundation of confidence of divine deliverance, “ for thou art my praise.” The representation of all that the Lord has already done for us, and the appeal to it, form a sure ground of answer, and a mighty quickening of hope. He cannot be unlike himself. On “be not silent,” comp. Psalms 28:1, Psalms 35:22. God is here called upon not to be silent in view of the words of the enemies threatening destruction.

The subject in Psalms 109:2 is, as always in what follows, “the enemies,” “the wicked.” It will not do to make the mouth the subject because פתח is always active. The mouth is that of the wicked, because they go forward by their words to destroy the miserable; and it is that of deceit, because, for the attainment of this object, they make use of false accusations, fictitious charges, to which also the expression “words with the tongue of lies,” refers. The situation in Matthew 26:59 corresponds exactly: “The high priests, and the elders, and the whole council sought false witness against Jesus that they might put him to death.”

The words of hatred, in Psalms 109:3, are malignant accusations. The נלחם with the accusative, only here, is to contend with. The swords with which they fight are their tongues; comp. Psalms 55:21, Psalms 57:4. The language used in the Psalm refers only to false accusations, not to deeds. On “without a cause,” comp. Psalms 35:7, Psalms 35:19.—“For my love they are enemies to me,” Psalms 109:4, found its full truth in Christ. As the Psalmist in the whole paragraph describes how he is treated, not how he feels, the expression, “I am prayer,” cannot mean, “I am quiet in it,” “I do nothing else than pray,” but only “they treat me so wickedly, or matters have come to that extremity with me, that I am wholly prayer” (comp. I am peace, Psalms 120:7) “I cry wholly for help;” comp. on תפלה at Psalms 90:1, and Psalms 69:13); David was wholly prayer when he went forth over the Mount of Olives weeping, and with his head covered, 2 Samuel 15:30. On the whole verse, and on Psalms 109:5, comp. Psalms 38:20, Psalms 35:12-13.— The singular in Psalms 109:6-19 refers, as it always does in similar cases, to the ideal person of the wicked. Place over him (comp. הפקיד With אל , Genesis 39:5, Genesis 41:34), as his superior, and judicial authority, for the righteous punishment of the shameful abuse of his judicial powers, his פקדה , Psalms 109:8; comp. Isaiah 60:17, 2 Chronicles 24:11;—comp. Psalms 41:1-2, where we find promised, deliverance in the day of distress from him who acts cunningly against the miserable, protection against the rage of enemies. The right hand comes into notice here not as the place which belongs to the accuser in a trial (comp. against this the Chris. p. ii. on Zechariah 3:1), but because, being the organ of action, it is the most suitable place for one to occupy, who is determined perseveringly to hinder or to assist another; comp. Psalms 109:31, where the Lord stands at the right hand of the needy man. Psalms 110:5 shows that the לימין על ( Zechariah 3:1, Job 30:12) is here not what oppresses, what hinders, the right hand from every exertion, paralyzes all efforts of the man laid hold of, but that it in reality resembles the לימין in Psalms 109:31, the only difference being that the ימין denotes here, as it often does, the right side. That the passage before us is the one from which the name of Satan, first used in Job, has been derived (the name in the Pentateuch is Asasel,—comp. Egypt and the Books of Moses) is evident from the literal reference in which the verse before us stands to the second fundamental passage of Satan, Zechariah 3:1; the enemy of our Psalm, a Psalm in which שטן occurs more frequently than it does anywhere else, is the worthy representative, the visible emblem of the Evil One. Many expositors (Luther: And may Satan stand at his right hand) perceiving the connection of our Psalm with Job 1 and Zechariah 3:1, but not understanding the manner and way of that connection, consider the שטן here as a proper name of the Evil One. But Satan is not elsewhere introduced in the Psalm; and a reference to him cannot therefore be adopted on forced grounds. On the other hand, we have to urge the want of the article which cannot occur in the very passage which makes mention of Satan, and which occurs only in the last passage of the Old Testament in which Satan is spoken of, 1 Chronicles 21;—terms which were originally appellatives, come in the course of time to be used as proper names. The reference to what precedes leads to the idea of a human enemy; the Psalmist had suffered by human wickedness, Psalms 109:2, and by human enmity, Psalms 109:4, and the punishment therefore should come in the same way. The הפקיד shows, especially when the פקדתו is compared, that it is the wicked and the enemies that are to be understood by the superiors set over.

The connection with Psalms 109:6 shows that the language in Psalms 109:7 refers to a human judgment (comp. Psalms 37:33, and the second clause), or if to a divine judgment, yet to such a one as is executed through the medium of the wicked and of the enemy, the unjust human judges; God’s way is to punish the wicked by means of the wicked, and unjust decisions are as really under his control as just ones. We must supply: he who has condemned me unjustly, has condemned my soul without a cause; comp. Psalms 109:31. May he go forth,—out of the trial. May his prayer be sin,—in its results, namely, increase his misery instead of granting him the deserved help; this is not a “shocking imprecation,” but a prayer according to the will of God; for the prayer of the wicked uttered without faith and repentance can have no other effect than this, it originates in sin and therefore it can come to nothing but sin; comp. Proverbs 28:9, “he that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination,” Isaiah 1:15, Psalms 66:17, and the passages quoted there.

In the expression, “may his days be few,” in Psalms 109:8 (מעתים is not an adjective but a substantive, fewnesses), we have expressed as a wish what in Psalms 55:23, “the men of blood and of deceit do not live out half their days,” is expressed as a fact. We must suppose added: as he intended to have shortened my days. The פקדה , ways oversight, ἐ?πισκοπή? , Acts 1:20, is the usual term for a superior office; and that this is the sense which it bears here is evident from the reference to פקדה in Psalms 109:6: the individual in office who abused his office for wickedness, shall by a wicked superior be punished in body and life, and shall thus lose his office. We have in the whole half strophe a regular progression of thought: the wicked man is set over him, Psalms 109:6, he is condemned, Psalms 109:7, sentence is put in execution, and another succeeds to his office, Psalms 109:8, then farther still, the punishment descends to his children, Psalms 109:9-10. The translation “his property” passes into the territory of the next strophe.

On “may his sons wander up and down,” Psalms 109:10, comp. Psalms 59:11, “let them wander by thy strength, i.e., in their children; they are put to death themselves there also. On “and beg,” compare Psalms 37:25. The object to the verb “seek” is easily supplied. Out of their ruins, where there is nothing but hunger and sorrow.

Verses 11-20

Ver. 11. May the creditor catch all that he hath, and may strangers plunder his labour. Ver. 12. May he have no one who may show him mercy, and may no one have compassion upon his orphans. Ver. 13. May his posterity be rooted out, and in the following generation may their name be blotted out. Ver. 14. Let the iniquity of his father be remembered by the Lord, and may the sins of his mother not be blotted out. Ver. 15. May they be continually before the Lord, and may he root out from the earth their remembrance.

Ver. 16. Because he remembered not to show mercy, and persecuted the poor and needy man, and the heart-broken, that he might put him to death. Ver. 17. And he loved cursing, and it comes upon him, and he had no pleasure in blessing, and therefore it is far from him. Ver. 18. And he puts on cursing like a garment, and therefore it comes like water into his inwards, and like oil into his bones. Ver. 19. May it be to him like the clothing which he has on, and a girdle which is always round him. Ver. 20. This is the reward of those who are enemies to me, from the Lord, and speak evil against my soul.

In the half strophe, Psalms 109:11-15, the Psalmist turns from the life of the wicked, and from his children, to his property, Psalms 109:11-12, and to his name and memorial, Psalms 109:13-15. The prayers and wishes rest upon the living conviction that the divine justice is a fire which does not rest until it has completely and entirely consumed what it has seized upon. The Pi of נקש in Psalms 109:11 occurs in Psalms 38:12, in the sense of to lay snares, to catch. The strangers are in opposition to the members of the family, Deuteronomy 25:5. The משך in Psalms 109:12, as in Psalms 36:10, Psalms 85:5, is to draw, to draw out to a length, to extend. According to the connection and the parallel, the extending of mercy is specially the respite granted to the debtor. The חנן , to be compassionate, in Psalms 37:21, in connection with giving, Proverbs 28:8, דלים חונן , is one who has pity in a way of charity upon the poor. The first clause of Psalms 109:13, according to the parallel passages, Isaiah 37:37, for a futurity has the man of peace, and Isaiah 37:38, the futurity of the wicked is cut off— comp. on אחרית never posterity, always end, at the passage—must be explained “may his futurity be rooted out, may he be violently robbed of futurity, to the extinction of his family and his name.” The second clause depends upon Deuteronomy 29:20, and the Lord shall blot out his name from under heaven,” comp. Psalms 9:8. The blotting out of the name follows the extinction of the family, comp. Deuteronomy 25:6. In another generation, after it has existed in the first generation among hunger and ruin, comp. Psalms 109:10. In the “ their name,” there lies a concealed plurality behind the unity. The not being blotted out of the ( Psalms 109:14) 14th verse is the cause of the being blotted out of the ( Psalms 109:13) 13th. The ( Psalms 109:15) 15th verse renders it evident that it comes into notice only in this point of view, and that the Psalmist still goes on to speak of the extinction of the name and the remembrance. On the visiting of the guilt of the fathers on the children (of similar character) comp. the Beitr. 3, p. 544, ss. The fundamental passage is Exodus 20:5. The unusual &#אל יהוה לפני occurs in Numbers 10:9; נגד in Psalms 109:15 of the Psalm before us.

On Psalms 109:15 comp. Psalms 9:6, Psalms 34:16. Luther: “Remembrance in Scripture does not imply that one is remembered, otherwise Judas, Pilate, and Herod would be always held in remembrance, but that one is extolled, praised, that there is a good report of him.”

The לא זכר in Psalms 109:16 stands in reference to the יזכר of Psalms 109:14. He persecuted the miserable man, not “the poet and such as him,” for everywhere in the Psalms the miserable is only one individual, but me the miserable one. The Psalmist strips off personality. The misery is not what is caused by others, but what is caused by the wicked. This is their guilt, that they will not cease by the sight of the misery of their victim, but are rather thereby instigated to complete their work; comp. at Psalms 69:26. The נכאה is the Part. Niph. of כאה , to be struck down; which root occurs also in Psalms 10:8, Psalms 10:10; it is allied to נכא , to be struck, comp. at Psalms 35:15.

In Psalms 109:17, several translate, “may it come,” and “may it be far from him,” and refer to the optatives in Psalms 109:19. But this reason is not quite decisive. Declarations and wishes are much more intimately connected than the common exposition assumes that they are, which sees here nothing else than arbitrary imprecations: the wish depends upon the state of existence, and grows out of it. And in this half strophe, which, as is manifest from the first verse, is intended to point out the judgments called down upon the wicked in his extremity, it is much more suitable that the form of declaration should be the prevailing one, and not that of wish. The optative construction, moreover, is altogether inadmissible. The fut. with the Vau Conv. never is, and cannot be, used as an optative. By “the curse” several understand the curse which strikes the wicked himself: the wicked loved this, inasmuch as he loved sin, which necessarily draws the curse after it; comp. Proverbs 8:36, “those who hate me love death.” Others by the curse understand the curses which he utters against the miserable man. The ( Psalms 109:28) 28th verse is decisive in favour of this latter view, “they curse, do thou bless so is 2 Samuel 16:12, where David, when Shimei curses him, says, “Perhaps the Lord will look upon my evil (the evil which has befallen me), and will requite me good for my cursing.” The same remark may be made of the blessing.

In the second clause of Psalms 109:18, allusion is made to the waters of cursing, which were given to those accused of adultery to drink, for the purpose of symbolizing the thoroughly pervading power of the curse; Numbers 5:22, “And this water that causeth the curse shall go into thy bowels,” comp. Numbers 5:24, Numbers 5:27. The figure employed there depends upon the symbol made use of here. Water, internally, stands in direct opposition to the garment surrounding the body externally; oil applied to the exterior, and also operating internally, stands as it were in the middle.

The point of resemblance between the curse and the clothing in Psalms 109:19, is, as the תמיד of the second clause shows, the continuance of it; and is thus different from that of the garment of Psalms 109:18.

Psalms 109:20 contains the epiphoneme; comp. Isaiah 17:14, Isaiah 54:17. On “of those who are enemies to me,” comp. Psalms 109:4; on “who speak wickedness,” Psalms 109:2-3. Against my soul,—who wish to take me, comp. “to put me to death,” in Psalms 109:16, Psalms 109:31, and the recompense in Psalms 109:8, Psalms 31:13, Psalms 40:14, Psalms 54:4, therefore those who seek to murder me by wicked accusations.

Verses 21-31

Ver. 21. And do thou, Jehovah, Lord, for me for thy name’s sake; because thy mercy is good, deliver thou me. Ver. 22. For I am miserable and poor, and my heart is pierced within me. Ver. 23. I must go hence like the shadow when it declineth, I am carried away like the locust. Ver. 24. My knees are weak through fasting, and my flesh deceives from want of oil. Ver. 25. I am become a reproach to them, they see me, they shake the head. Ver. 26. Help me, O Lord my God, deliver me according to thy mercy. Ver. 27. And may it be known that this is thy hand, thou, Lord, hast done it. Ver. 28. They curse, bless thou; they rise up, may they be ashamed; but may thy servant rejoice. Ver. 29. May my adversaries be clothed with shame, and may they be covered in their own disgrace as in a mantle. Ver. 30. I will praise the Lord very much with my mouth, and in the midst of many I will sing praise to him. Ver. 31. For he stands at the right hand of the needy man, that he may deliver him from those who condemn his soul.

And do thou, Psalms 109:21,

My only helper against those who speak against my soul. At “do to me,” the object is wanting:—several falsely: “act towards me,’’—עשה only means to make, to do, never, t o act; it is to be supplied here as in 1 Samuel 14:6, “perhaps the Lord will do to us,” from the common phrases “to do mercy,” or “to do good to any one:” this may be done much more easily here than in 1 Samuel 14:6, because the thing to be supplied is in reality contained in the clause, “for thy name’s sake:”— do to me for thy name’s sake what is suitable to thy name, to thy historically manifested mercy. Psalms 119:124 is exactly similar, “do to thy servant (mercy) for thy mercy’s sake;” and Jeremiah 14:7, “though our sins testify against us, do thou Lord for thy name’s sake (the work of thy name).” On the second clause comp. Psalms 63:3, and especially Psalms 69:16. The prayer here, reversing the order in the first clause precedes its basis: “because good is thy mercy,” being an explanation of “thy name’s sake.”

The first clause of Psalms 109:22 is literally from Psalms 40:17, comp. Psalms 69:29. My heart is pierced within me,—by the sword of pain; comp. Psalms 109:16, Psalms 55:4, “my heart trembles within me,” in deep pain, sore anguish.

On the first clause of Psalms 109:23 comp. Psalms 102:11, “my days are like a shadow that declineth,” like one about to disappear. The declining shadow occurs only in these two passages. The Niph. of הלך (a verb which properly has no Niph.) which occurs only in this passage, denotes a suffering, a forced going. The locusts, when the wind seizes them, are irresistibly carried off, and disappear without leaving a trace behind; comp. Exodus 10:19, Joel 2:20, Nahum 3:17. Such comparisons of the sufferer to small helpless creatures are peculiarly characteristic of David; comp. here Psalms 102:7, Psalms 11:1, Psalms 56:1. The fasting in Psalms 109:24 is never used of that want of eating which proceeds from want of appetite (as Maurer here: inedia ex aegritudine), but always of the exercise of penitence as practised by men when overwhelmed or when threatened with severe sufferings; comp. Gesen. in the Thes., and at Psalms 69:10, Psalms 35:13. The Psalmist had already, in his deep and long-continued misery, fasted himself thin and weak. The flesh deceives when, while it is in the best possible condition, it becomes invisible = not shining, not through emaciation, but because it is not attended to. The expression is similar to ἀ?φανί?ζουσι τὰ? πρό?σωπα ἀ?υτῶ?ν , they make their faces invisible, not shining, Matthew 6:16. Comp. כזב , to lie, used of waters that sink into the ground in Isaiah 58:11, and בגד , to be faithless, applied to a brook dried up, Job 6:15. The מן in משמן is not to be construed in a privative but in a causal sense, as is obvious from the corresponding word מצום . The expression “from oil” is an abrupt expression instead of “from want of oil.” The fasting makes the knees weak by its presence, and the oil makes the flesh not like what it should be by its absence. The common translation is, “my flesh is deficient in fatness;” Gesenius “deficit a pinguedine, contabescit, emaciatur.” But against this we may urge, (1.), the שמן always means oil, ointment, even in Isaiah 10:27, never, as Gousset has acknowledged, on דשן ; it occurs in the sense of oil, ointment, in Psalms 109:18; and a special reason for taking it in this sense in the passage before us arises from the usual contrast between the anointing with oil (comp. Deuteronomy 28:20, and Micah 6:15) and mourning and fasting; comp. 2 Samuel 14:2, “Mourn, and put on thy mourning apparel, and anoint not thyself with oil,” 2 Samuel 12:20, “and David rose up from the earth, and washed himself, and anointed himself, “and also the ( 2 Samuel 12:16) 16th verse of the same chapter, “And David sought God because of the child, and David fasted, Matthew 6:16-17.” 2. The כחש never signifies to take away, to become lean, but always to deceive; Job 16:8, the only passage to which an appeal has been made, is not to be translated my leanness rises against me,” but my deceit, the hypocrisy, of which by my sufferings I am apparently convicted. 3. The מן in משמן must be taken causally in accordance with מצום .

On the first clause of Psalms 109:25, comp. Psalms 22:6, Psalms 31:11. And I,—in this miserable condition, who ought rather to be an object of sympathy. On the second clause, comp. Psalms 22:7. The shaking of the head is there, as it is here, a denial of the existence of the sufferer, a declaration that his state is completely desperate.

On Psalms 109:27, comp. Psalms 59:13, “Annihilate them that they may no longer exist, and that it may be known that God is ruler in Jacob even to the ends of the earth.” Men may know (and thus learn to fear thee) that this my deliverance is thy hand, a work of thy hand, which exhibits the stupidity of the ungodly strengthened as it is in them by their exemption from punishment, as feebleness.

That in Psalms 109:28 we cannot translate, “may they curse, but only “they curse,” = “though they curse,” is manifest from the קמו . On “thy servant,” compare Psalms 19:11, Psalms 27:9.— On Psalms 109:29 compare Psalms 71:13. It is a resumption from Psalms 109:18 for the purpose of placing it alongside of the salvation of the servant of God with which alone this strophe is concerned. The comparison of the garmentמעיל a long robe, ποδή?ρης according to Josephus—intimates that they are to be covered with shame from head to foot.

On Psalms 109:30, compare Psalms 7:17 (also the conclusion of the Psalm), Psalms 9:1, Psalms 34:1, Psalms 69:30. On the second clause Psalms 22:22. The preceding prayers rise on the ground of the confidence. The promise of thanks is very appropriately added to these.

On Psalms 109:31 comp. Psalms 109:6, Psalms 16:8. On “his soul,” Psalms 109:20.

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Bibliographical Information
Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Psalms 109". Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms.