Psalm 143:12
And of thy mercy cut off mine enemies, and destroy all them that afflict my soul: for I am thy servant.
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(12) Comp. Pss. xviii, 40, 54:7.

143:7-12 David prays that God would be well pleased with him, and let him know that he was so. He pleads the wretchedness of his case, if God withdrew from him. But the night of distress and discouragement shall end in a morning of consolation and praise. He prays that he might be enlightened with the knowledge of God's will; and this is the first work of the Spirit. A good man does not ask the way in which is the most pleasant walking, but what is the right way. Not only show me what thy will is, but teach me how to do it. Those who have the Lord for their God, have his Spirit for their Guide; they are led by the Spirit. He prays that he might be enlivened to do God's will. But we should especially seek the destruction of our sins, our worst enemies, that we may be devotedly God's servants.And of thy mercy ... - Thy mercy to me; thy mercy to the world. The destruction of the wicked is a favor to the universe; just as the arrest and punishment of a robber or a pirate is a mercy to society, to mankind; just as every prison is a display of "mercy" as well as of "justice" - mercy to society at large; justice to the offenders.

And destroy all them that afflict my soul - Cut them off; render them powerless to do mischief.

For I am thy servant - Not as a matter of private feeling - not for personal revenge - but because I am in thy service, and it is only by being delivered from these dangers that I can honor thee as I would. It is thine own cause, and I ask that they may be cut off "in order" that the service which I might render thee may be unembarrassed.

12. God's mercy to His people is often wrath to His and their enemies (compare Ps 31:17).

thy servant—as chosen to be such, entitled to divine regard.

Of thy mercy; out of thy mercy to me, whose life they seek.

And of thy mercy cut off mine enemies,.... Which, though an act of vindictive justice, and terrible righteousness to them, would be an act of grace and mercy to him, who thereby would be delivered from them: or, "for thy grace" (b); for the sake of it, for the honour of it, do this; those being, as Cocceius thinks, despisers of the grace of God;

and destroy all them that afflict my soul; by their persecutions, reproaches, and blasphemies. These clauses, with those in Psalm 143:11, are read in the future tense, "thou shalt quicken--bring out--cut off--destroy", in the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and Arabic versions; and so may be considered as a prophecy of what would be the case of David and his enemies, or of the Messiah and his, here typified; as well as a prayer for those things;

for I am thy servant; by creation, by redemption and grace; and by office, being set upon the throne for the service of God and his people, and therefore pleads for his protection and help; and the rather, as he was the servant of God; and not they, his enemies, as Kimchi observes.

(b) "propter misericordiam tuam", Pagninus; "propter benignitatem tuam", Musculus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "pergratiam tuam", Cocceius, Gejerus, Michaelis.

And of thy mercy {m} cut off mine enemies, and destroy all them that afflict my soul: for I am thy {n} servant.

(m) Which will be a sign of your fatherly kindness toward me.

(n) Resigning myself wholly to you, and trusting in your protection.

12. And in thy lovingkindness wilt thou cut off my enemies,

And destroy all them that distress my soul,

For I am thy servant.

The prayer for ‘life’ is characteristic of Psalms 119 : see note on p. 705: cp. Psalm 138:7. The plea for thy name’s sake is found in Psalm 25:11, and often elsewhere. With thou wilt bring my soul out of distress cp. Psalm 142:7.

12. Cp. Psalm 54:5, “Cut them [my enemies] off in thy truth”; Psalm 94:23. Such a prayer breathes the spirit of the Old Testament and not of the Gospel. It is a harsh and discordant conclusion to a Psalm full of humble penitence, patient resignation, and persevering faith. But the enemies who are relentlessly persecuting Jehovah’s servant to the death are the enemies of Jehovah; they are traitors to His kingdom who have forfeited their right to live; they give no quarter and deserve none themselves; if they triumph, Jehovah’s faithfulness to His promises would seem to have failed and his lovingkindness to have been exhausted or defeated (Psalm 77:8-9). For such hardened and impenitent offenders nothing remains but extermination.

for I am thy servant] And therefore entitled to claim Thy protection. Cp. Psalm 143:2; Psalm 86:2; Psalm 86:4; Psalm 86:16; Psalm 119:17, and often.

Verse 12. - And of thy mercy cut off mine enemies. In thy goodness towards me, remove those enemies whose conduct towards me has been described in vers. 3, 4. And destroy all them that afflict my soul. This is David's ordinary prayer with respect to his enemies, whom be counts as God's adversaries, and the persecutors of faithful Israel (see Psalm 5:10; Psalm 7:9; Psalm 10:15; Psalm 28:4, 5; Psalm 35:4-6, 8, etc.). For I am thy servant. Entitled, therefore, to thy special care and protection (comp. Psalm 27:9; Psalm 69:17; Psalm 86:2, 4, 16; Psalm 116:16, etc.).

Psalm 143:12In this second half the Psalm seems still more like a reproduction of the thoughts of earlier Psalms. The prayer, "answer me speedily, hide not Thy face from me," sounds like Psalm 69:18; Psalm 27:9, cf. Psalm 102:3. The expression of languishing longing, כּלתה רוּחי, is like Psalm 84:3. And the apodosis, "else I should become like those who go down into the pit," agrees word for word with Psalm 28:1, cf. Psalm 88:5. In connection with the words, "cause me to hear Thy loving-kindness in the early morning," one is reminded of the similar prayer of Moses in Psalm 90:14, and with the confirmatory "for in Thee do I trust" of Psalm 25:2, and frequently. With the prayer that the night of affliction may have an end with the next morning's dawn, and that God's helping loving-kindness may make itself felt by him, is joined the prayer that God would be pleased to grant him to know the way that he has to go in order to escape the destruction into which they are anxious to ensnare him. This last prayer has its type in Exodus 33:13, and in the Psalter in Psalm 25:4 (cf. Psalm 142:4); and its confirmation: for to Thee have I lifted up my soul, viz., in a craving after salvation and in the confidence of faith, has its type in Psalm 25:1; Psalm 86:4. But the words אליך כסּיתי, which are added to the petition "deliver me from mine enemies" (Psalm 59:2; Psalm 31:16), are peculiar, and in their expression without example. The Syriac version leaves them untranslated. The lxx renders: ὅτι πρὸς σὲ κατέφυγον, by which the defective mode of writing כסתי is indirectly attested, instead of which the translators read נסתי (cf. נוּס על in Isaiah 10:3); for elsewhere not חסה but נוּס is reproduced with καταφυγεῖν. The Targum renders it מימרך מנּתי לפריק, Thy Logos do I account as (my) Redeemer (i.e., regard it as such), as if the Hebrew words were to be rendered: upon Thee do I reckon or count, כסּיתי equals כּסתּי, Exodus 12:4. Luther closely follows the lxx: "to Thee have I fled for refuge." Jerome, however, inasmuch as he renders: ad te protectus sum, has pointed כסּיתי (כסּיתי). Hitzig (on the passage before us and Proverbs 7:20) reads כסתי from כּסא equals סכא, to look ("towards Thee do I look"). But the Hebrew contains no trace of that verb; the full moon is called כסא (כסה), not as being "a sight or vision, species," but from its covered orb.

The כסּתי before us only admits of two interpretations: (1) Ad (apud) te texi equals to Thee have I secretly confided it (Rashi, Aben-Ezra, Kimchi, Coccejus, J. H. Michaelis, J. D. Michalis, Rosenmller, Gesenius, and De Wette). But such a constructio praegnans, in connection with which כּסּה would veer round from the signification to veil (cf. כסה מן, Genesis 18:17) into its opposite, and the clause have the meaning of כּי אליך גּלּיתי, Jeremiah 11:20; Jeremiah 20:12, is hardly conceivable. (2) Ad (apud) te abscondidi, scil. me (Saadia, Calvin, Maurer, Ewald, and Hengstenberg), in favour of which we decide; for it is evident from Genesis 38:14; Deuteronomy 22:12, cf. Jonah 3:6, that כּסּה can express the act of covering as an act that is referred to the person himself who covers, and so can obtain a reflexive meaning. Therefore: towards Thee, with Thee have I made a hiding equals hidden myself, which according to the sense is equivalent to חסיתּי, as Hupfeld (with a few MSS) wishes to read; but Abulwald has already remarked that the same goal is reached with כסּתי. Jahve, with whom he hides himself, is alone able to make known to him what is right and beneficial in the position in which he finds himself, in which he is exposed to temporal and spiritual dangers, and is able to teach him to carry out the recognised will of God ("the will of God, good and well-pleasing and perfect," Romans 12:2); and this it is for which he prays to Him in Psalm 143:10 (רצונך; another reading, רצונך). For Jahve is indeed his God, who cannot leave him, who is assailed and tempted without and within, in error; may His good Spirit then (רוּחך טובה for הטּובה, Nehemiah 9:20)

(Note: Properly, "Thy Spirit, רוּח הטּובה, a spirit, the good one, although such irregularities may also be a negligent usage of the language, like the Arabic msjd 'l-jâm‛, the chief mosque, which many grammarians regard as a construct relationship, others as an ellipsis (inasmuch as they supply Arab. 'l-mkân between the words); the former is confirmed from the Hebrew, vid., Ewald, 287, a.))

lead him in a level country, for, as it is said in Isaiah, Isaiah 26:7, in looking up to Jahve, "the path which the righteous man takes is smoothness; Thou makest the course of the righteous smooth." The geographical term ארץ מישׁור, Deuteronomy 4:43; Jeremiah 48:21, is here applied spiritually. Here, too, reminiscences of Psalms already read meet us everywhere: cf. on "to do Thy will," Psalm 40:9; on "for Thou art my God," Psalm 40:6, and frequently; on "Thy good Spirit," Psalm 51:14; on "a level country," and the whole petition, Psalm 27:11 (where the expression is "a level path"), together with Psalm 5:9; Psalm 25:4., Psalm 31:4. And the Psalm also further unrolls itself in such now well-known thoughts of the Psalms: For Thy Name's sake, Jahve (Psalm 25:11), quicken me again (Psalm 71:20, and frequently); by virtue of Thy righteousness be pleased to bring my soul out of distress (Psalm 142:8; Psalm 25:17, and frequently); and by virtue of Thy loving-kindness cut off mine enemies (Psalm 54:7). As in Psalm 143:1 faithfulness and righteousness, here loving-kindness (mercy) and righteousness, are coupled together; and that so that mercy is not named beside towtsiy', nor righteousness beside תּצמית, but the reverse (vid., on Psalm 143:1). It is impossible that God should suffer him who has hidden himself in Him to die and perish, and should suffer his enemies on the other hand to triumph. Therefore the poet confirms the prayer for the cutting off (הצמית as in Psalm 94:23) of his enemies and the destruction (האביד, elsewhere אבּד) of the oppressors of his soul (elsewhere צררי) with the words: for I am Thy servant.

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