Psalm 109:17
As he loved cursing, so let it come unto him: as he delighted not in blessing, so let it be far from him.
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(17, 18) Let.—The optatives in the English are wrong. These verses express facts, and the imprecation follows in Psalm 109:19. Render—

He loved cursing; and it comes;

He delighted not in blessing; and it departs;

Yea, he clothed himself in cursing as with his cloak,

And it came like water into his bowels,

And like oil into his bones;

May it be, &c.

Comp. the proverb, “Curses, like chickens, always come home to roost.”

The fabled shirt of Nessus, which ate into the mighty form of Hercules, has suggested itself to commentators in illustration of this image. In a good sense the same figure is a favourite one with the Hebrews. (See Isaiah 11:5.)

Psalm 109:19 has struck most commentators as an anticlimax, and the quotation theory is supported by this fact. But imprecations show their impotence in this way; the angry soul can never be quite “unpacked with curses;” the language of passion exhausts itself too soon, and a violent speech often dies away in unintelligible mutterings or even gestures of rage.

Psalm 109:17-20. As he loved cursing — To curse others, as appears from the blessing here opposed to it, and from the next verse; to wish and to procure mischief to others; so let it come unto him — Hebrew, תבואהו, teboeehu, it shall come unto him; the mischief in which he delighted, and which he both wished and designed to others, shall fall upon himself. As he delighted not in blessing — In desiring and promoting the welfare of others; so let it be, &c. — Hebrew, תרחק, tirchak, it shall be far from him — He shall never meet with the blessing of those righteous courses which he always hated and avoided. As he clothed himself with cursing — As his very business was to slander others everywhere, taking a pride in the mischievous effects of his wretched lies; so let it come — Hebrew, ותבא, vatabo, it shall come, into his bowels, like water — He shall feel the miserable fruit of his wickedness spreading itself, like the water he drinks, to every artery and vein; and sticking as close to him as oil unto the bones. As the garment which covereth him — It shall compass him on every side as a garment; he shall be involved in perpetual misfortunes and miseries, and never be able to shake them off. And as a girdle wherewith he is girded continually — He shall be surrounded with, and entangled in, straits and difficulties, without any possibility of being extricated from them. Observe, reader, “They who reject Christ, reject the fountain of blessing, and choose a curse for their portion; and this portion, when they have finally made their choice, will certainly be given to them in full measure.” We see here that “the curse which lighted on the Jewish nation is resembled, for its universality and adhesion, to a garment which covereth the whole man, and is girded close about his loins; for its diffusive and penetrating nature, to water, which, from the stomach passeth into the bowels, and is dispersed through all the vessels of the frame; and to oil, which imperceptibly insinuates itself into the very bones. When that unhappy people pronounced the words, His blood be on us, and on our children, then did they put on the envenomed garment which has stuck to and tormented the nation ever since; then did they eagerly swallow down that dreadful draught, the effects whereof have been the infatuation and misery of upward of seventeen hundred years! Now, if such, in this world, be the reward of Christ’s adversaries, and of those who speak evil against him, what will hereafter be the vengeance inflicted on those who crucify him afresh, and put him again to open shame? Hebrews 6:6. And what will be the operation of the sentence, Go, ye cursed, upon the bodies and souls of the wicked? How will it at once affect all the senses of the former, and all the faculties of the latter, with pain, anguish, sorrow, and despair! Think on these things, O sinner! tremble and repent.” — Horne.

109:6-20 The Lord Jesus may speak here as a Judge, denouncing sentence on some of his enemies, to warn others. When men reject the salvation of Christ, even their prayers are numbered among their sins. See what hurries some to shameful deaths, and brings the families and estates of others to ruin; makes them and theirs despicable and hateful, and brings poverty, shame, and misery upon their posterity: it is sin, that mischievous, destructive thing. And what will be the effect of the sentence, Go, ye cursed, upon the bodies and souls of the wicked! How it will affect the senses of the body, and the powers of the soul, with pain, anguish, horror, and despair! Think on these things, sinners, tremble and repent.As he loved cursing ... - As he loved to curse others; as he seemed to have a pleasure alike in the act of cursing and in the feeling which prompts to cursing, let him see what it is; let it come upon him in its fullness. He has chosen this as his portion; let it be his. This, in the original, is in the indicative mood, and not, as in our version, in the optative form: "He loved cursing, and it has come upon him; he did not delight in blessing, and it is far from him." Still, the connection would rather seem to require that we should understand this as a prayer, and not as an affirmation, for the object of the whole seems not to be to state what had come upon him, but what the psalmist wished might come upon him.

As he delighted not in blessing ... - As he had no pleasure in wishing that others might be happy, or in any measures which would tend to promote their happiness, so let everything that could be regarded as a blessing be put far from him; let him know nothing of it.

17-19. Let his loved sin, cursing, come upon him in punishment (Ps 35:8), thoroughly fill him as water and oil, permeating to every part of his system (compare Nu 5:22-27), and become a garment and a girdle for a perpetual dress. Cursing; either,

1. Cursed or sinful courses. Or rather,

2. To curse others, as appears from the blessing here opposed to it, and from the next verse; to wish and to procure to others, and especially to me.

In blessing; in and promoting the welfare of others, which indeed an eye-sore and torment to him.

As he loved cursing, so let it come unto him,.... Judas loved that which brought a curse upon him, sin; and so he may be said to love the curse; just as sinners are said to love death, Proverbs 8:36. He was desirous of and sought after it, to bring Christ to an accursed death; and which he accomplished and pleased himself with; and therefore it was a just retaliation upon him that the curse should light on him, and he himself come to a shameful and ignominious death. The Jews loved the cursing law, the flying roll, called the curse in Zechariah 5:2, which curses every transgressor of it: they boasted of it, rested in it, and sought for righteousness by it; and submitted not unto, but despised, the righteousness of Christ; and therefore it was but just they should come under the curse of the law: they imprecated the curse on them and their children, saying, "His blood be upon us and them", Matthew 27:25 and which accordingly came upon them, and remains to this day.

As he delighted not in blessing, so let it be far from him; Judas delighted not in the good will and good wishes of any to Christ, as appears from his dislike of the ointment being poured on his head by the poor woman, in John 12:4, and so the Jews were displeased at the children, and at the disciples in the temple, blessing Christ, pronouncing him blessed, and wishing blessings to him, Matthew 21:15, yea, they delighted not in their own blessedness, or in that which only could give it to them; they delighted not in Christ, who was sent to bless them, but despised and rejected him; nor in the Gospel, which is full of blessings; and particularly not in the doctrine of justification by Christ's righteousness, which commonly makes a man blessed: yea, in a sense, they judged themselves unworthy of everlasting life; and therefore it was but a righteous thing that blessing should be far from Judas and the Jews, as it was; even temporal, spiritual, and eternal blessings: yet there have been a sort of heretics (e), that have highly praised and commended Judas, as doing a brave and noble action in betraying Christ, whereby the work of salvation was hastened.

(e) Epiphan. contra Haeres. l. 1. Haer. 38.

As he loved cursing, {i} so let it come unto him: as he delighted not in blessing, so let it be far from him.

(i) Thus the Lord gives to every man the thing in which he delights so that the reprobate cannot accuse God of wrong, when they are given up to their lusts and reprobate minds.

17. And he loved cursing, and it came to him;

And delighted not in blessing, and it was far from him:

Verse 17. - As he loved cursing, so let it come unto him; rather, so it came upon him (Revised Version), or so it shall come upon him (LXX., Cheyne). The one of David's enemies who "loved cursing" most was Shimei (2 Samuel 16:5-12). As he de lighted not in blessing, so let it be far from him; rather, so it was, or so it will be, far from him. Psalm 109:17He whom he persecuted with a thirst for blood, was, apart from this, a great sufferer, bowed down and poor and נכאה לבב, of terrified, confounded heart. lxx κατανενυγμένον (Jerome, compunctum); but the stem-word is not נכא (נכה), root נך, but כּאה, Syriac bā'ā', cogn. כּהה, to cause to come near, to meet. The verb, and more especially in Niph., is proved to be Hebrew by Daniel 11:30. Such an one who without anything else is of a terrified heart, inasmuch as he has been made to feel the wrath of God most keenly, this man has persecuted with a deadly hatred. He had experienced kindness (חסד) in a high degree, but he blotted out of his memory that which he had experienced, not for an instant imagining that he too on his part had to exercise חסד. The Poel מותת instead of המית points to the agonizing death (Isaiah 53:9, cf. Ezekiel 28:10 מותי) to which he exposes God's anointed. The fate of the shedder of blood is not expressed after the manner of a wish in Psalm 109:16-18, but in the historical form, as being the result that followed of inward necessity from the matter of fact of the course which he had himself determined upon. The verb בּוא seq. acc. signifies to surprise, suddenly attack any one, as in Isaiah 41:25. The three figures in Psalm 109:18 are climactic: he has clothed himself in cursing, he has drunk it in like water (Job 15:16; Job 34:7), it has penetrated even to the marrow of his bones, like the oily preparations which are rubbed in and penetrate to the bones.n In Psalm 109:19 the emphasis rests upon יעטּה and upon תּמיד. The summarizing Psalm 109:20 is the close of a strophe. פּעלּה, an earned reward, here punishment incurred, is especially frequent in Isaiah 40:1, e.g., Psalm 49:4; Psalm 40:10; it also occurs once even in the Tra, Leviticus 19:13. Those who answer the loving acts of the righteous with such malevolence in word and in deed commit a satanic sin for which there is no forgiveness. The curse is the fruit of their own choice and deed. Arnobius: Nota ex arbitrio evenisse ut nollet, propter haeresim, quae dicit Deum alios praedestinasse ad benedictionem, alios ad maledictionem.
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