Psalm 17:12
Like as a lion that is greedy of his prey, and as it were a young lion lurking in secret places.
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(12) Young lion.—Heb., kephir. The Hebrew has seven different names for the lion. Milton’s description of Satan naturally recurs to the reader—

“About them round

A lion now he stalks with fiery glare.”

17:8-15 Being compassed with enemies, David prays to God to keep him in safety. This prayer is a prediction that Christ would be preserved, through all the hardships and difficulties of his humiliation, to the glories and joys of his exalted state, and is a pattern to Christians to commit the keeping of their souls to God, trusting him to preserve them to his heavenly kingdom. Those are our worst enemies, that are enemies to our souls. They are God's sword, which cannot move without him, and which he will sheathe when he has done his work with it. They are his hand, by which he chastises his people. There is no fleeing from God's hand, but by fleeing to it. It is very comfortable, when we are in fear of the power of man, to see it dependent upon, and in subjection to the power of God. Most men look on the things of this world as the best things; and they look no further, nor show any care to provide for another life. The things of this world are called treasures, they are so accounted; but to the soul, and when compared with eternal blessings, they are trash. The most afflicted Christian need not envy the most prosperous men of the world, who have their portion in this life. Clothed with Christ's righteousness, having through his grace a good heart and a good life, may we by faith behold God's face, and set him always before us. When we awake every morning, may we be satisfied with his likeness set before us in his word, and with his likeness stamped upon us by his renewing grace. Happiness in the other world is prepared only for those that are justified and sanctified: they shall be put in possession of it when the soul awakes, at death, out of its slumber in the body, and when the body awakes, at the resurrection, out of its slumber in the grave. There is no satisfaction for a soul but in God, and in his good will towards us, and his good work in us; yet that satisfaction will not be perfect till we come to heaven.Like as a lion - Margin, "The likeness of him" (that is, "of every one of them") is "as a lion that desireth to ravin." The meaning is plain. They were like a lion intent on securing his prey. They watched the object narrowly; they were ready to spring upon it.

That is greedy of his prey - "He is craving to tear." Prof. Alexander. - The Hebrew word rendered "is greedy," means "to pine, to long after, to desire greatly." The Hebrew word rendered "of his prey," is a verb, meaning "to pluck, to tear, to rend in pieces." The reference is to the lion that desires to seize his victim, and to rend it in pieces to devour it.

And, as it were, a young lion - Hebrew, "And like a young lion."

Lurking in secret places - Margin, as in Hebrew, "sitting." The allusion is to the lion crouching, or lying in wait for a favorable opportunity to pounce upon his prey. See the notes at Psalm 10:8-10. There is no special emphasis to be affixed to the fact that the "lion" is alluded to in one member of this verse, and the "young lion" in the other. It is in accordance with the custom of parallelism in Hebrew poetry where the same idea, with some little variation, is expressed in both members of the sentence. See the introduction to Job, Section 5.

12. The figure made more special by that of a lion lurking. Like a lion that is greedy of his prey; when he is hungry, and therefore cruel. See Psalm 7:2 10:8-10.

Like as a lion that is greedy of his prey,.... Or "the likeness of him is as a lion" (i); meaning Saul, as Kimchi interprets it; or everyone of them that compassed them about, as Aben Ezra observes; sometimes wicked and persecuting princes are compared to lions, for their strength and cruelty; see Proverbs 28:15; so the devil is called a roaring lion, 1 Peter 5:8; and the antichristian beast is said to have the mouth of a lion, Revelation 13:2;

and as it were a young lion lurking in secret places; to leap upon its prey, and seize it at once, as it has opportunity; this denotes the secret and insidious method which the enemies of Christ take to do mischief; see Psalm 10:9.

(i) "similitudo ejus, vel cujusque est tanquam leonis", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius; so Musculus, Gejerus, Michaelis.

Like as a lion that is greedy of his prey, and as it were a young lion lurking in secret places.
12. Like as a lion &c.] Lit., He is like a lion that is greedy to raven. (Psalm 22:13). One of the pursuers (Saul, if the singer is David) is conspicuous for ferocity and craftiness. Cp. Psalm 7:2; Psalm 10:8-9.

Verse 12. - Like as a lion that is greedy of his prey; literally, his likeness [is] as a lion that is greedy to rend (comp. Psalm 7:2; Psalm 10:9; Psalm 57:4). And as it were a young lion (kephir, "a lion in the first burst of youthful vigour") lurking in secret places; rather, crouching. The attitude of the lieu when he is just preparing to spring. Psalm 17:12Psalm 17:10 tell what sort of people these persecutors are. Their heart is called fat, adeps, not as though חלב could in itself be equivalent to לב, more especially as both words are radically distinct (חלב from the root לב, λιπ; לב from the root לב, לף to envelope: that which is enveloped, the kernel, the inside), but (without any need for von Ortenberg's conjecture חלב לבּמו סגרוּ "they close their heart with fat") because it is, as it were, entirely fat (Psalm 119:70, cf. Psalm 73:7), and because it is inaccessible to any feeling of compassion, and in general incapable of the nobler emotions. To shut up the fat equals the heart (cf. κλείειν τὰ σπλάγχνα 1 John 3:17), is equivalent to: to fortify one's self wilfully in indifference to sympathy, tender feeling, and all noble feelings (cf. השׁמין לב equals to harden, Isaiah 6:10). The construction of פּימו (which agrees in sound with פּימה, Job 15:27) is just the same as that of קולי, Psalm 3:5. On the other hand, אשּׁוּרנוּ (after the form עמּוּד and written plene) is neither such an accusative of the means or instrument, nor the second accusative, beside the accusative of the object, of that by which the object is surrounded, that is usually found with verbs of surrounding (e.g., Psalm 5:13; Psalm 32:7); for "they have surrounded me (us) with our step" is unintelligible. But אשׁורנו can be the accusative of the member, as in Psalm 3:8, cf. Psalm 22:17, Genesis 3:15, for "it is true the step is not a member" (Hitz.), but since "step" and "foot" are interchangeable notions, Psalm 73:2, the σχῆμα καθ ̓ ὅλον καὶ μέρος is applicable to the former, and as, e.g., Homer says, Iliad vii. 355: σὲ μάλιστα πόνος φρένας ἀμφιβέβηκεν, the Hebrew poet can also say: they have encompassed us (and in fact) our steps, each of our steps (so that we cannot go forwards or backwards with our feet). The Ker סבבוּנוּ gets rid of the change in number which we have with the Chethb סבבוני; the latter, however, is admissible according to parallels like Psalm 62:5, and corresponds to David's position, who is hunted by Saul and at the present time driven into a strait at the head of a small company of faithful followers. Their eyes - he goes on to say in Psalm 17:11 - have they set to fell, viz., us, who are encompassed, to the earth, i.e., so that we shall be cast to the ground. נטה is transitive, as in Psalm 18:10; Psalm 62:4, in the transitively applied sense of Psalm 73:2 (cf. Psalm 37:31): to incline to fall (whereas in Psalm 44:19, Job 31:7, it means to turn away from); and בּארץ (without any need fore the conjecture בּארח) expresses the final issue, instead of לארץ, Psalm 7:6. By the expression דּמינו one is prominently singled out from the host of the enemy, viz., its chief, the words being: his likeness is as a lion, according to the peculiarity of the poetical style, of changing verbal into substantival clauses, instead of דּמה כּאריה. Since in Old Testament Hebrew, as also in Syriac and Arabic, כ is only a preposition, not a connective conjunction, it cannot be rendered: as a lion longs to prey, but: as a lion that is greedy or hungry (cf. Arab. ksf, used of sinking away, decline, obscuring or eclipsing, growing pale, and Arab. chsf, more especially of enfeebling, hunger, distinct from חשׂף equals Arab. ks̆f, to peel off, make bare) to ravin. In the parallel member of the verse the participle alternates with the attributive clause. כּפיר is (according to Meier) the young lion as being covered with thicker hair.
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