Psalm 140:2
Which imagine mischiefs in their heart; continually are they gathered together for war.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) Imagine . . .—Or, contrive, plot.

Gathered together.—This translation follows the analogy of Psalm 56:6. Others render, “dwell with wars.” But it is preferable to derive from a root meaning to incite: “They are continually stirring up wars.” It is the situation described in Psalm 120:7 and frequently; Israel would be at peace, but within and without are those ever trying to involve her in troubles.

140:1-7 The more danger appears, the more earnest we should be in prayer to God. All are safe whom the Lord protects. If he be for us, who can be against us? We should especially watch and pray, that the Lord would hold up our goings in his ways, that our footsteps slip not. God is as able to keep his people from secret fraud as from open force; and the experience we have had of his power and care, in dangers of one kind, may encourage us to depend upon him in other dangers.Which imagine mischiefs in their heart - Here the language is changed to the plural number in the Hebrew, implying that while there was one man who was eminent in his wickedness and his wrong-doing, there were many others associated with him, acting under his direction. The word "mischiefs" in the Hebrew means "evils; wickednesses." It was not a single purpose; the plan embraced many forms of evil - doing him wrong in every way possible.

Continually are they gathered together for war - They are organized for this purpose; they are constantly prepared for it. The word rendered "gathered together" properly means to sojourn, to dwell for a time; and it has been proposed by some to render this, "All the day they dwell with wars;" that is, they are constantly involved in them. But the word may mean also "to gather together," as in Psalm 56:6.

2-5. This character of the wicked, and the devices planned against the pious, correspond to Ps 10:7; 31:13; 58:4, &c. To execute those bloody enterprises which they had devised in the first clause of this verse. Which imagine mischiefs in their heart,.... This shows that not a single person barely is meant but more, as Saul's courtiers; who were secretly and continually meditating mischief against David, traducing him to Saul, and devising things to take away his life. Such were the Jews to Christ, who were always plotting to entangle him, or contriving to kill him; and so wicked men are ever devising mischief against the quiet in the land, which is very abominable to God; and rightly observed here, to prevail upon the Lord to preserve from them, Psalm 2:1;

continually are they gathered together for war; so Saul gathered together three thousand men, and went in pursuit of David, as an enemy, to take him. So Herod and Pontius Pilate joined together, though before enemies, in the prosecution of Christ; and Jews and Gentiles gathered together against him: so the saints, being in a warfare state, have their enemies, who often combine against them, and attack them, and will not suffer them to be at rest and peace; as sin, Satan, the world, and false teachers; see Psalm 120:7.

Which imagine mischiefs in their {b} heart; continually are they gathered together for war.

(b) That is, by their false accusations and lies, they kindle the hatred of the wicked against me.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. Who have devised evils in their heart] Secretly and deliberately.

continually &c.] Every day do they stir up strife: lit. wars. They are perpetually trying to pick a quarrel with me.Verse 2. - Which imagine mischiefs in their heart (comp. Psalm 28:3; Psalm 36:4; Psalm 62:3). Continually are they gathered together for war; rather, continually do they stir up wars (comp. Psalm 68:30; Psalm 120:7). And this God is by many not only not believed in and loved, but even hated and blasphemed! The poet now turns towards these enemies of God in profound vexation of spirit. The אם, which is conditional in Psalm 139:8, here is an optative o si, as in Psalm 81:9; Psalm 95:7. The expression תּקטל אלוהּ reminds one of the Book of Job, for, with the exception of our Psalm, this is the only book that uses the verb קטל, which is more Aramaic than Hebrew, and the divine name Eloah occurs more frequently in it than anywhere else. The transition from the optative to the imperative סוּרוּ is difficult; it would have been less so if the Waw copul. had been left out: cf. the easier expression in Psalm 6:9; Psalm 119:115. But we may not on this account seek to read יסוּרוּ, as Olshausen does. Everything here is remarkable; the whole Psalm has a characteristic form in respect to the language. מנּי is the ground-form of the overloaded ממּנּי, and is also like the Book of Job, Job 21:16, cf. מנהוּ Job 4:12, Psalm 68:24. The mode of writing ימרוּך (instead of which, however, the Babylonian texts had יאמרוּך) is the same as in 2 Samuel 19:15, cf. in 2 Samuel 20:9 the same melting away of the Aleph into the preceding vowel in connection with אחז, in 2 Samuel 22:40 in connection with אזּר, and in Isaiah 13:20 with אהל. Construed with the accusative of the person, אמר here signifies to declare any one, profiteri, a meaning which, we confess, does not occur elsewhere. But למזמּה (cf. למרמה, Psalm 24:4; the Targum: who swear by Thy name for wantonness) and the parallel member of the verse, which as it runs is moulded after Exodus 20:7, show that it has not to be read ימרוּך (Quinta: παρεπικρανάν σε). The form נשׁוּא, with Aleph otians, is also remarkable; it ought at least to have been written נשׂאוּ (cf. נרפּוּא, Ezekiel 47:8) instead of the customary נשׂאוּ; yet the same mode of writing is found in the Niphal in Jeremiah 10:5, ינשׁוּא, it assumes a ground-form נשׂה (Psalm 32:1) equals נשׂא, and is to be judged of according to אבוּא in Isaiah 28:12 [Ges. 23, 3, rem. 3]. Also one feels the absence of the object to נשׁוּא לשּׁוא. It is meant to be supplied according to the decalogue, Exodus 20:7, which certainly makes the alteration שׁמך (Bttcher, Olsh.) or זכרך (Hitzig on Isaiah 26:13), instead of עריך, natural. But the text as we now have it is also intelligible: the object to נשׂוא is derived from ימרוך, and the following עריך is an explanation of the subject intended in נשׂוא that is introduced subsequently. Psalm 89:52 proves the possibility of this structure of a clause. It is correctly rendered by Aquila ἀντίζηλοί σου, and Symmachus οἱ ἐναντίοι σου. ער, an enemy, prop. one who is zealous, a zealot (from עוּר, or rather עיר, equals Arab. gâr, med. Je, ζηλοῦν, whence עיר, Arab. gayrat equals קנאה), is a word that is guaranteed by 1 Samuel 28:16; Daniel 4:16, and as being an Aramaism is appropriate to this Psalm. The form תּקומם for מתּקומם has cast away the preformative Mem (cf. שׁפתּים and משׁפּתים, מקּרה in Deuteronomy 23:11 for ממּקּרה); the suffix is to be understood according to Psalm 17:7. Pasek stands between יהוה and אשׂנה in order that the two words may not be read together (cf. Job 27:13, and above Psalm 10:3). התקוטט as in the recent Psalm 119:158. The emphasis in Psalm 139:22 lies on לי; the poet regards the adversaries of God as enemies of his own. תּכלית takes the place of the adjective: extremo (odio) odi eos. Such is the relation of the poet to the enemies of God, but without indulging any self-glorying.
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