Blessed be the LORD, who has not given us as a prey to their teeth.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth - The figure is here changed, though the same idea is retained. The imago is now that of destruction by wild beasts - a form of destruction not less fearful than that which comes from overflowing waters. Such changes of imagery constantly occur in the Book of Psalms, and in impassioned poetry everywhere. The mind is full of a subject; numerous illustrations occur in the rapidity of thought; and the mind seizes upon one and then upon another as best suited to express the emotions of the soul. The next verse furnishes another instance of this sudden transition.
7 Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped.
"Blessed be the Lord, who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth." Leaving the metaphor of a boiling flood, he con-pares the adversaries of Israel to wild beasts who desired to make the godly their prey. Their teeth are prepared to tear, and they regard the godly as their victims. The Lord is heartily praised for not permitting his servants to be devoured when they were between the jaws of the raging ones. It implies that none can harm us till the Lord permits: we cannot be their prey unless the Lord gives us up to them, and that our loving Lord will never do. Hitherto he has refused permission to any foe to destroy us, blessed be his name. The more imminent the danger the more eminent the mercy which would not permit the soul to perish in it. God be blessed for ever for keeping us from the curse. Jehovah be praised for checking the fury of the foe, and saving his own. The verse reads like a merely negative blessing, but no boon can be more positively precious. He has given us to his Son Jesus, and he will never give us to our enemies.
"Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers." Our soul is like a bird for many reasons; but in this case the point of likeness is weakness, folly, and the ease with which it is enticed into the snare. Fowlers have many methods of taking small birds, and Satan, has many methods of entrapping souls. Some are decoyed by evil companions, others are enticed by the love of dainties; hunger drives many into the trap, and fright impels numbers to fly into the net. Fowlers know their birds, and how to take them; but the birds see not the snare so as to avoid it, and they cannot break it so as to escape from it. Happy is the bird that hath a deliverer strong, and mighty, and ready in the moment of peril; happier still is the soul over which the Lord watches day and night to pluck its feet out of the net. What joy there is in this song, "our soul is escaped." How the emancipated one sings and soars, and soars and sings again. Blessed be God many of us can make joyous music with these notes, "our soul is escaped." Escaped from our natural slavery; escaped from the guilt, the degradation, the habit, the dominion of sin; escaped from the vain deceits and fascinations of Satan; escaped from all that can destroy; we do indeed experience delight. What a wonder of grace it is! What a miraculous escape that we who are so easily misled should not have been permitted to die by the dread fowler's hand. The Lord has heard the prayer which he taught us to pray, and he hath delivered us from evil. "The snare is broken, and we are escaped." The song is worth repeating; it is well to dwell upon so great a mercy. The snare may be false doctrine, pride, lust, or a temptation to indulge in policy, or to despair, or to presume; what a high favour it is to have it broken before our eyes, so that it has no more power over us. We see not the mercy while we are in the snare; perhaps we are so foolish as to deplore the breaking of the Satanic charm; the gratitude comes when the escape is seen, and when we perceive what we have escaped from, and by what hand we have been set free. Then our Lord has a song from our mouths and hearts as we make heaven and earth ring with the notes, "the snare is broken, and we are escaped." We have been tempted, but not taken; cast down, but not destroyed; perplexed, but not in despair; in deaths oft, but still alive, blessed be Jehovah!
This song might well have suited our whole nation at the time of the Spanish Armada, the church in the days of the Jesuits, and each believer among us in seasons of strong personal temptation.
who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth; the teeth of wicked men are like spears and arrows, like swords and knives, to devour good men; their passions are strong, and their desires very vehement after their ruin; and, if suffered, the saints would fall an easy prey to them: but God will not give them up to them, either to Satan the devouring lion, or to any of his emissaries; nay, when they have seized them, and got them in their mouths, they shall be snatched from them, as the lamb out of the mouth of the lion and the bear by David; see Psalm 57:4, 1 Peter 5:8.Blessed be the LORD, who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)6. a prey to their teeth] For the figure cp. Psalm 7:2.
6–8. Thanksgiving and confidence for the future.Verse 6. - Blessed be the Lord, who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth. We are not devoured - we are not "swallowed up" - thanks to the interposition of the merciful and gracious Lord, to whom therefore praise and blessing are due. Psalm 62:3, something great (vid., Bצttcher, Lehrbuch, ֗624). The subjectivizing, intensive להּ accords with Psalm 120:6 - probably an indication of one and the same author. בּוּז is strengthened by לעג, like בּז in Ezekiel 36:4. The article of הלּעג is restrospectively demonstrative: full of such scorn of the haughty (Ew. ֗290, d). הבּוּז is also retrospectively demonstrative; but since a repetition of the article for the fourth time would have been inelegant, the poet here says לגאיונים with the Lamed, which serves as a circumlocution of the genitive. The Masora reckons this word among the fifteen "words that are written as one and are to be read as two." The Kerמ runs viz., לגאי יונים, superbis oppressorum (יונים, part. Kal, like היּונה Zephaniah 3:1, and frequently). But apart from the consideration that instead of גּאי, from the unknown גּאה, it might more readily be pointed גּאי, from גּאה (a form of nouns indicating defects, contracted גּא), this genitival construction appears to be far-fetched, and, inasmuch as it makes a distinction among the oppressors, inappropriate. The poet surely meant לגאיונים or לגּאיונים. This word גּאיון (after the form רעיון, אביון, עליון) is perhaps an intentional new formation of the poet. Saadia interprets it after the Talmudic לגיון, legio; but how could one expect to find such a Grecized Latin word (λεγεών) in the Psalter! dunash ben-Labrat (about 960) regards גאיונים as a compound word in the signification of הגּאים היונים. In fact the poet may have chosen the otherwise unused adjectival form גּאיונים because it reminds one of יונים, although it is not a compound word like דּביונים. If the Psalm is a Maccabaean Psalm, it is natural to find in לגאיונים an allusion to the despotic domination of the יונים.
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