His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud: under his tongue is mischief and vanity.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Cursing and deceit.—From the connection of cursing with deceit (comp. Hosea 4:2, “swearing and lying “), we must understand perjury.Psalm 10:7. His mouth is full of cursing — Of oaths and blasphemies against God; of reviling and execration of other men, especially of those that are good, and those that stand in his way, and hinder his wicked designs; and, perhaps, also of oaths and imprecations against himself, by which he endeavours to gain credit, and to make his neighbours secure, and so to make way for the deceit and fraud here next mentioned. He sticks at nothing that may serve his ends: for he makes no conscience of calling for one curse after another upon himself to confirm those promises which he never intends to keep, or to swear that which he knows is false, that by these impious means he may deceive those who rely on his word or oath. Under his tongue — Under his fair and plausible speeches; is mischief — Mischievous wickedness lies hid, and vanity, or iniquity, as the word און, aven, is often rendered, or injury; the vexation or oppression of other men, which he covers with these fair pretences.Romans 3:14, not as a direct quotation, as if the psalmist referred to the point which he was arguing, but as language which expressed the idea that the apostle wished to convey. See the note at that passage.
And deceit - Margin, as in Hebrew, "deceits." The meaning is, that he was false and treacherous; and perhaps also that his treachery and fraud were accompanied with the solemn sanction of an oath, or an appeal to God, as is likely to be the case among fraudulent and dishonest people.
And fraud - The word used here - תך tôk - is now commonly supposed to mean rather "oppression or violence." See Gesenius' Lexicon. When this is attributed to his mouth, it means that what he says - what he requires - what he commands, is unjust, unreasonable, and oppressive.
Under his tongue - Perhaps alluding to the serpent, whose poison is concealed at the root of the fang or tooth, and therefore under the tongue. The meaning is, that beneath what the wicked say, though it seems to be harmless, as the tongue of the serpent does, yet there lies mischief and iniquity, as the poison is hidden beneath the serpent's tongue.
Is mischief - The word used here means properly labor, toil; then trouble, vexation, sorrow. The meaning here seems to be that there lies under the tongue that which gives or causes distress; to wit, wrong-doing; injustice to others.
And vanity - Margin, iniquity. This expresses the idea in the original word. Whatever he says is evil, and is fitted to produce trouble and sorrow, as the concealed poison in the mouth of the serpent causes pain and death.Of cursing; either,
1. Of oaths and blasphemies against God. Or,
2. Of reviling and execration of other men, especially those that are good; or those that stand in his way, and hinder his wicked designs. Or rather,
3. Of oaths and imprecations against himself, of which this word is used, Numbers 5:21 Deu 29:12,21 Ne 10:29; by which he endeavours to gain credit, and to make his neighbours secure, and so to make way for the
deceit and fraud which here follows. For this wretched man is represented both here, and in the succeeding verses, as one that doth not act with open violence and hostility, but with subtle and secret artifices, using all cunning insinuations, and flatteries, and lies, and, among others, oaths, of which an atheistical politician said, that men were to be deceived with oaths, and children with rattles or toys.
Deceit and fraud; two words signifying the same thing, to note the greatness and frequency of his deceits. Or one word may signify the deceit lurking in his heart, and the other the manifestation of it in external frauds and stratagems.
Under his tongue; either,
1. In his heart, which is under the tongue. Or rather,
2. Under his fair and plausible speeches the
mischief here following is hid and covered. Withal he seems to allude to serpents, whose poison lies hidden under the tongue or within their teeth.
Mischief and vanity; or rather, iniquity, as this word is oft rendered, or injury, the vexation or oppression of other men, which he covers with these fair pretences. Revelation 13:5;
and deceit and fraud; such as flattery and lying, which are both used by him with an intention to impose upon and deceive. The apostle, in Romans 3:14; renders both these words by one, "bitterness"; which may be said of sin in general, which is a very bitter thing; though it is rolled as a sweet morsel in the mouth of a wicked man, yet in the issue it is bitterness to him: and it is applicable to sinful words, which are bitter in their effects to those against whom they are spoken, or who are deceived and imposed upon by them: and, as they refer to antichrist, may have respect to the lies in hypocrisy spoken by him, and to the deceitfulness of unrighteousness, by which he works upon those that perish, 1 Timothy 4:2;
under his tongue is mischief and vanity; alluding to serpents, who have little bags of poison under their teeth; see Psalm 140:3; Kimchi and Ben Melech observe, that the heart is under the tongue, being lower than it, and so denotes the wickedness which that is full of, and devises continually, and is latent in it until discovered; and is mischievous iniquity, injurious to God, and the honour of his law, and to fellow creatures; and especially to the saints, whose persons, characters, and estates, are aimed at; but in the issue it is all vanity, and a fruitless attempt, being blasted by God, and overruled for good to him; see Isaiah 54:17;His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud: under his tongue is mischief and vanity.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)7. His sins of tongue; cursing,—which may include both malicious imprecation (Job 31:30, R.V.) and perjury (Psalm 59:12 : Hosea 4:2): deceits, the plural, as in Psalm 38:12, expressing their abundance and variety: oppression (Psalm 55:11, Psalm 72:14), which he advocates, or abets by false witness (Psalm 27:12, Psalm 35:11; Exodus 23:1).
Under his tongue, ready for immediate use, is a store of mischief and iniquity (Psalm 7:14). This is the usual interpretation; but it seems strange to regard ‘under the tongue’ as synonymous with ‘upon the tongue,’ and the use of the phrase in Job 20:12 suggests another explanation. Wickedness is there spoken of as a delicious morsel which is kept in the mouth to be enjoyed. (See Prof. Davidson’s note.) And similarly here the mention of the mouth as the organ of speech leads up to the thought of the tongue as the organ of taste. Mischief and iniquity are thoroughly to the wicked man’s taste. Cp. Proverbs 19:28, which speaks of iniquity as the wicked man’s favourite food: and Job 15:16.
The first half of the verse (according to the LXX) is woven by St Paul into his description of human corruption in Romans 3:14.Verse 7. - His mouth is full of cursing. (On the prevalence of this evil habit among the powerful in David's time, see Psalm 59:12; Psalm 109:17, 18; 2 Samuel 16:5.) And deceit and fraud; or, guile and extortion (Kay); comp. Psalm 36:3; Psalm 55:11. Under his tongue is mischief and vanity; rather, as in the margin, mischief and iniquity. These are stored "under his tongue," ready for utterance whenever he finds a fit occasion. Psalm 22:2, and before הרעתה in Exodus 5:22, in order that neither of the two gutturals, pointed with a, should be lost to the ear in rapid speaking (vid., on Psalm 3:8, and Luzzatto on Isaiah 11:2, נחה עליו).
(Note: According to the Masora למּה without Dag. is always Milra with the single exception of Job 7:20, and ימּה with Dag. is Milel; but, when the following closely connected word begins with one of the letters אהע it becomes Milra, with five exceptions, viz., Psalm 49:6; 1 Samuel 28:15; 2 Samuel 14:31 (three instances in which the guttural of the second word has the vowel i), and 2 Samuel 2:22, and Jeremiah 15:18. In the Babylonian system of pointing, למה is always written without Dag. and with the accent on the penultimate, vid., Pinsker, Einleitung in das Babylonish-hebrishce Punktationssystem, S. 182-184.)
For according to the primitive pronunciation (even before the Masoretic) it is to be read: lam h Adonaj; so that consequently ה and א are coincident. The poet asks why in the present hopeless condition of affairs (on בצּרה vid., on Psalm 9:10) Jahve stands in the distance (בּרחוק, only here, instead of מרחוק), as an idle spectator, and why does He cover (תּעלּים with orthophonic Dagesh, in order that it may not be pronounced תּעלים), viz., His eyes, so as not to see the desperate condition of His people, or also His ears (Lamentations 3:56) so as not to hear their supplication. For by the insolent treatment of the ungodly the poor burns with fear (Ges., Stier, Hupf.), not vexation (Hengst.). The assault is a πύρωσις, 1 Peter 4:12. The verb דּלק which calls to mind דּלּקת, πυρετός, is perhaps chosen with reference to the heat of feeling under oppression, which is the result of the persecution, of the (בּו) דּלק אחריו of the ungodly. There is no harshness in the transition from the singular to the plural, because עני and רשׁע are individualising designations of two different classes of men. The subject to יתּפשׁוּ is the עניּים, and the subject to חשׁבוּ is the רשׁעים. The futures describe what usually takes place. Those who, apart from this, are afflicted are held ensnared in the crafty and malicious devices which the ungodly have contrived and plotted against them, without being able to disentangle themselves. The punctuation, which places Tarcha by זוּ, mistakes the relative and interprets it: "in the plots there, which they have devised."
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