Psalm 11:2
For, see, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow on the string, that they may privately shoot at the upright in heart.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) Privily.—See margin, which preserves the image of the archer lurking in a dark corner.

Psalm 11:2. For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, &c. — Many eminent commentators consider these also as the words of David’s friends, representing to him, as a motive for his flight, the extreme danger he was in, which they compare to that of a bird when a fowler, having already fixed his eye upon it, had fitted his arrow to the string, and lying close, was taking aim at it, intending to shoot it. Just so, they signified, Saul and his counsellors had laid their plot on a sudden to destroy David. See Patrick and Dodd.11:1-7 David's struggle with, and triumph over a strong temptation to distrust God, and betake himself to indirect means for his own safety, in a time of danger. - Those that truly fear God and serve him, are welcome to put their trust in him. The psalmist, before he gives an account of his temptation to distrust God, records his resolution to trust in Him, as that by which he was resolved to live and die. The believer, though not terrified by his enemies, may be tempted, by the fears of his friends, to desert his post, or neglect his work. They perceive his danger, but not his security; they give him counsel that savours of worldly policy, rather than of heavenly wisdom. The principles of religion are the foundations on which the faith and hope of the righteous are built. We are concerned to hold these fast against all temptations to unbelief; for believers would be undone, if they had not God to go to, God to trust in, and future bliss to hope for. The prosperity of wicked people in their wicked, evil ways, and the straits and distresses which the best men are sometimes brought into, tried David's faith. We need not say, Who shall go up to heaven, to fetch us thence a God to trust in? The word is nigh us, and God in the word; his Spirit is in his saints, those living temples, and the Lord is that Spirit. This God governs the world. We may know what men seem to be, but God knows what they are, as the refiner knows the value of gold when he has tried it. God is said to try with his eyes, because he cannot err, or be imposed upon. If he afflicts good people, it is for their trial, therefore for their good. However persecutors and oppressors may prosper awhile, they will for ever perish. God is a holy God, and therefore hates them. He is a righteous Judge, and will therefore punish them. In what a horrible tempest are the wicked hurried away at death! Every man has the portion of his cup assigned him. Impenitent sinner, mark your doom! The last call to repentance is about to be addressed to you, judgement is at hand; through the gloomy shade of death you pass into the region of eternal wrath. Hasten then, O sinner, to the cross of Christ. How stands the case between God and our souls? Is Christ our hope, our consolation, our security? Then, not otherwise, will the soul be carried through all its difficulties and conflicts.For, lo, the wicked bend their bow - These are to he regarded as the words of the persons referred to in the previous verse, who had advised the persecuted psalmist to flee to the mountains. In this verse reasons are suggested for that advice. The reasons are, that the enemy was preparing for an attack, and that at an unexpected moment the attack would be made unless he should effect his escape. Apprised of the danger, he might now make good his escape, and avoid the peril which was impending. The common weapon in war, as in hunting, was the bow and arrow. The process of preparing for the use of the bow consisted in bending it, and properly adjusting the arrow. The Hebrew word used here is "tread;" "the wicked tread upon the bow;" that is, with a view to bend it. The bow was made of steel, or strong wood, or pieces of ivory framed together, and it often required great strength - beyond the strength of the arm - to bend it so as to adjust the string. Hence, the "foot" was placed upon the center, and the two ends drawn near to each other.

They make ready their arrow upon the string - Hebrew, "they fit or fix the arrow upon the string." That is, they place the end of the arrow in the proper place upon the string of the bow.

That they may privily shoot at the upright in heart - Margin, as in the Hebrew, "in darkness." That is, that they may do it secretly or treacherously. They do not intend to do it in open day, or (as we should say) "in a fair fight;" but they mean to do it when their victim is not aware of their design. The phrase, "the upright in heart," may either denote their own conviction that those whom they designed so to attack were upright in heart - thus knowing that they were innocent; or it may be a statement of the advisers in the case, that those whom they counseled were thus upright - a statement on their part that the attack was made on the righteous. The latter is probably the true construction.

2. privily—literally, "in darkness," treacherously. For lo: these are the words, either,

1. Of David’s friends or enemies, confirming their former advice; which might suit with it, if that was the counsel of his friends; but not if it was (as it seems to have been) the counsel of his enemies; for these would never have called themselves

wicked, nor David and his men

upright in heart. Or rather,

2. Of David himself; who having directed his speech to his enemies, Psalm 11:1, now turns it to God, and pours out before him his complaints against his enemies, as his usual course is in this book. They do not only speak scornfully of me, as I have said, but, O Lord, they act against me with all their might and malice.

They make ready their arrow upon the string; they lay designs for my destruction, and they make all things ready to execute them.

Privily; out of their lurking holes: compare Psalm 10:8,9 64:5. For as some of his enemies did openly oppose him, so others did secretly undermine him, and with pretences of friendship seek to betray him.

At the upright in heart; at me and my followers, who have manifested our integrity both towards God and towards Saul, whom I have faithfully served and Spared when I could have taken away his life. For, lo, the wicked bend their bow,.... Are devising mischief, and making preparations to accomplish it;

they make ready their arrow upon the string; of the bow, and are just about to execute their wicked designs;

that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart; such as David, and those that were with him, were; they were men whose hearts were upright before God, and were of upright conversations before men, and so became the butt of the malice and resentment of wicked men; against these they formed evil purposes, delivered out bitter words, which were like sharp arrows of the mighty; threatened them with ruin and destruction, and took methods to bring about their designs and make good their words, in the most private and secret manner. Hence some of David's friends thought it most advisable for him to make his escape; adding,

For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. The words of the faint-hearted friends continued. They justify their advice by pointing to the treacherous intentions of remorseless enemies. Similar language is used figuratively of slander in Psalm 64:3-4; Jeremiah 9:3; but here it may be taken literally of intent to murder. Cp. 1 Samuel 19:1 ff. For the language cp. Psalm 7:12; Psalm 7:10.

privily] Lit. as R.V., in darkness. LXX, in a moonless night.Verse 2. - For, lo, the wicked bend their bow. The words are still those of the timid friends. "Lo," they say, "the ungodly are already bending the bow against thee" - preparing, i.e., to attempt thy life. They make ready their arrow upon the string; or, fit their arrow to the string. The last thing before discharging it. That they may privily shoot at the upright in heart; literally, that they may shoot amid darkness at the upright in heart (comp. 1 Samuel 19:1, 2, where, Saul having given orders to "all his servants, that they should kill David," Jonathan persuades him to hide himself "until the morning"). Now comes the confirmation of his cry to God: It is with Him entirely different from what the ungodly imagine. They think that He will not punish; but He does see (cf. 2 Chronicles 24:22), and the psalmist knows and confesses it: ראתה (defective equals ראיתה Psalm 35:22), Thou hast seen and dost see what is done to Thine own, what is done to the innocent. This he supports by a conclusion a genere ad speciem thus: the trouble which is prepared for others, and the sorrow (כּעס, as in Ecclesiastes 7:3) which they cause them, does not escape the all-seeing eye of God, He notes it all, to give it into (lay it in) His hand. "To give anything into any one's hand" is equivalent to, into his power (1 Kings 20:28, and frequently); but here God gives (lays) the things which are not to be administered, but requited, into His own hand. The expression is meant to be understood according to Psalm 56:9, cf. Isaiah 49:16 : He is observant of the afflictions of His saints, laying them up in His hand and preserving them there in order, in His own time, to restore them to His saints in joy, and to their enemies in punishment. Thus, therefore, the feeble and helpless (read חלכּה or חלכּה; according to the Masoretic text חלכה Thy host, not חלכה, which is contrary to the character of the form, as pausal form for חלכה) can leave to Him, viz., all his burden (יהבו, Psalm 55:23), everything that vexes and disquiets him. Jahve has been and will be the Helper of the fatherless. יתום stands prominent by way of emphasis, like אותם Psalm 9:13, and Bakius rightly remarks in voce pupilli synecdoche est, complectens omnes illos, qui humanis praesidiis destituuntur.
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