Psalm 17:13
Arise, O LORD, disappoint him, cast him down: deliver my soul from the wicked, which is thy sword:
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(13) Disappoint.—Rather, go to meet, as a champion defending some one.

Which is thy sword.—This thought, making the wicked God’s weapons of wrath (Isaiah 10:5), is arbitrarily introduced by the Authorised Version, and is quite out of keeping with the context. Translate “with thy sword,” either understanding a preposition, or treating the accusative as an adverb of manner; as an adverb of time and place it is common. Similarly in the next verse, “with thy hand from men of the world.”

Psalm 17:13. Arise, O Lord, disappoint him — Hebrew, קדמה פניו, kadmah panaiv, prevent his face; that is, Go forth against him, and meet and face him in battle, as enemies are wont to do. Or, prevent the execution of his mischievous designs against me: stop him in his attempt, and give him the first blow. The wicked, which is thy sword — Or thy hand, as it follows, Psalm 17:14, that is, thy instrument to execute vengeance upon thine enemies, or to chastise and exercise thy people; for which latter reason the Assyrian is termed God’s rod, Isaiah 10:5, as being raised up and appointed for the correction of God’s people, Habakkuk 1:12. The sense therefore is, Do not punish me by this rod: let me fall into thy hands, and not into the hands of wicked men, 2 Samuel 24:14. The words, however, may be rendered, Let thy sword deliver me from the wicked: thy hand, O Lord, from men: Psalm 17:14, from those men, who are of this world: the sword and hand of Jehovah being frequently used to denote his power and vengeance.

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.Arise, O Lord - See the notes at Psalm 3:7.

Disappoint him - Margin, "prevent his face." The marginal reading expresses the sense of the Hebrew. The word used in the original means "to anticipate, to go before, to prevent;" and the prayer here is that God would come "before" his enemies; that is, that he would cast himself in their way "before" they should reach him. The enemy is represented as marching upon him with his face intently fixed, seeking his destruction; and he prays that God would interpose, or that He would come to his aid "before" his enemy should come up to him.

Cast him down - That is, as it is in the Hebrew, make him bend or bow, as one who is conquered bows before a conqueror.

Deliver my soul from the wicked - Save my life; save me from the designs of the wicked.

Which is thy sword - The Aramaic Paraphrase renders this, "Deliver my soul from the wicked man, who deserves to be slain with thy sword." The Latin Vulgate: "Deliver my soul from the wicked man; thy spear from the enemies of thy hand." So the Septuagint: "Deliver my soul from the wicked; thy sword from the enemies of thy hand." The Syriac, "Deliver my soul from the wicked, and from the sword." DeWette renders it, "Deliver my soul from the wicked by thy sword." Prof. Alexander, "Save my soul from the wicked (with) thy sword." So Luther, "With thy sword." The Hebrew will undoubtedly admit of this latter construction, as in a similar passage in Psalm 17:10; and this construction is found in the margin: "By thy sword." The sentiment that the wicked ARE the "sword" of God, or the instruments, though unconsciously to themselves, of accomplishing his purposes, or that he makes them the executioners of his will, is undoubtedly favored by such passages as Isaiah 10:5-7 (see the notes at those verses), and should be properly recognized. But such a construction is not necessary in the place before us, and it does not well agree with the connection, for it is not easy to see why the psalmist should make the fact that the wicked were instruments in the hand of God in accomplishing his purposes a "reason" why He should interpose and deliver him from them. It seems to me, therefore, that the construction of DeWette and others, "Save me from the wicked "by" thy sword," is the true one. The psalmist asked that God would interfere by his own hand, and save him from danger. The same construction, if it be the correct one, is required in the following verse.

13-15. disappoint—literally, "come before," or, "encounter him." Supply "with" before "sword" (Ps 17:13), and "hand" (Ps 17:14). These denote God's power.13 Arise, O Lord, disappoint him, cast him down: deliver my soul from the wicked, which is thy sword:

14 From men which are thy hand, O Lord, from men of the world, which have their portion in this life, and whose belly thou fillest with thy hid treasure: they are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes.

Psalm 17:13

"Arise, O Lord." The more furious the attack, the more fervent the Psalmist's prayer. His eye rests singly upon the Almighty, and he feels that God has but to rise from the seat of his patience and the work will be performed at once. Let the lion spring upon us, if Jehovah steps between we need no better defence. When God meets our foe face to face in battle, the conflict will soon be over. "Disappoint him." Be beforehand with him, outwit and outrun him. Appoint it otherwise than he has appointed and so disappoint him. "Cast him down." Prostrate him. Make him sink upon his knees. Make him bow as the conquered bows before the conqueror. What a glorious sight will it be to behold Satan prostrate beneath the foot of our glorious Lord! Haste, glorious day! "Deliver my soul from the wicked, which is thy sword." He recognizes the most profane and oppressive as being under the providential rule of the King of kings, and used as a sword in the divine hand. What can a sword do unless it be wielded by a hand? No more could the wicked annoy us, unless the Lord permitted them so to do. Most translators are, however, agreed that this is not the correct reading, but that it should be as Calvin puts it, "Deliver my soul from the ungodly man by thy sword." Thus David contrasts the sword of the Lord with human aids and reliefs, and rests assured that he is safe enough under the patronage of heaven.

Psalm 17:14

Almost every word of this verse has furnished matter for discussion to scholars, for it is very obscure. We will, therefore, rest content with the common version, rather than distract the reader with divers translations. "From men which are thy hand." Having styled the ungodly a sword in his Father's hand, he now likens them to that hand itself, to set forth his conviction that God could as easily remove their violence as a man moves his own hand. He will never slay his child with his own hand. "From men of the world," mere earthworms; not men of the world to come, but mere dwellers in this narrow sphere of mortality; having no hopes or wishes beyond the ground on which they tread. "Which have their portion in this life." Like the prodigal, they have their portion, and are not content to wait their Father's time. Like Passion in the "Pilgrim's Progress," they have their best things first, and revel during their little hour. Luther was always afraid lest he should have his portion here, and therefore frequently gave away sums of money which had been presented to him. We cannot have earth and heaven too for our choice and portion; wise men choose that which will last the longest. "Whose belly thou fillest with thy hid treasure." Their sensual appetite gets the gain which it craved for. God gives to these swine the husks which they hunger for. A generous man does not deny dogs their bones; and our generous God gives even his enemies enough to fill them, if they were not so unreasonable as never to be content. Gold and silver which are locked up in the dark treasuries of the earth are given to the wicked liberally, and they therefore roll in all manner of carnal delights. Every dog has his day, and they have theirs, and a bright summer's day it seems; but ah! how soon it ends in night! "They are full of children." This was their fondest hope, that a race from their loins would prolong their names far down the page of history, and God has granted them this also; so that they have all that heart can wish. What enviable creatures they seem, but it is only seeming! "They are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes." They were fat housekeepers, and yet leave no lean wills. Living and dying they lacked for nothing but grace, and alas! that lack spoils everything. They had a fair portion within the little circle of time, but eternity entered not into their calculations. They were penny wise, but pound foolish; they remembered the present, and forgot the future; they fought for the shell, and lost the kernel, How fine a description have we here of many a successful merchant, or popular statesman; and it is, at first sight, very showy and tempting but in contrast with the glories of the world to come, what are these paltry molehill Joys. Self, self, self, all these joys begin and end in basest selfishness; but oh, our God, how rich are those who begin and end in thee! From all the contamination and injury which association with worldly men is sure to bring us, deliver thou us, O God!

Disappoint him, Heb. prevent his face, i.e. go forth against him, and meet and face him in battle, as enemies use to do. Or, prevent the execution of his mischievous designs against me; stop him in his attempt, and give him the first blow.

Which is thy sword; or, thy hand, as it follows, Psalm 17:14, i.e. thy instrument to execute vengeance upon thine enemies, or to chastise and exercise thy people; for which reason the Assyrian is called God’s rod, Isaiah 10:5, as being ordained for correction, Habakkuk 1:12. The sense is, Do not punish me by this rod; let me fall into thy hands, and not into the hands of wicked men, 2 Samuel 24:14. Or, by (which preposition is understood Psalm 2:12, and oft elsewhere) thy sword, i.e. by thy power.

Arise, O Lord,.... See Psalm 3:7;

disappoint him, or "prevent his face" (k); be beforehand with him, and so disappoint him, when he is about to seize his prey; who is comparable to the lion, or to the young lion; meaning the chief of his enemies, it may be Saul;

cast him down; everyone of them that set themselves to cast down others to the earth. Jarchi's note is,

"cut off his feet,''

that he may bow down and fall;

deliver my soul from the wicked, which is thy sword; so Jarchi, Aben Ezra, Kimchi, and Ben Melech, render the words; that is, from wicked men, whom God makes use of as instruments to afflict and chastise his people: so the Assyrian monarch is called the "rod" of his anger, with whom he scourged his people Israel, Isaiah 10:5. Compare with this Psalm 22:20. The words are rendered by some, "deliver my soul from the wicked by thy swords" (l); meaning not the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God by which Christ was delivered from the wicked one, when tempted by him in the wilderness; but the avenging justice of God, the sword of the Lord, which, being whetted and taken hold on, and used by him, brings vengeance on his enemies, and salvation to his people; see Deuteronomy 32:41. The Targum paraphrases the clause thus,

"deliver my soul from the wicked, who deserves to be slain by thy sword.''

(k) "praeveni faciem ejus", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Musculus, Gejerus; "anticipa faciem ejus", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (l) "gladio tuo ab improbis", Junius & Tremellius; Gejerus; so Ainsworth.

Arise, O LORD, {k} disappoint him, cast him down: deliver my soul from the wicked, which is thy sword:

(k) Stop his rage.

13. Arise, O Lord (Psalm 3:7), confront him, meet him face to face as he prepares to spring (or, as R.V. marg., forestall him), make him bow down, crouching in abject submission (Psalm 18:39). The same word is used of the lion in repose, Genesis 49:9; Numbers 24:9.

13, 14. from the wicked, which is thy sword: from men which are thy hand] This rendering, which is in part that of Jerome, is retained in R.V. marg. For the thought that God uses even the wicked as His instruments see Isaiah 10:5, where the Assyrian is called the rod of Jehovah’s anger. But R.V. text is preferable: from the wicked by thy sword; from men, by thy hand. Cp. Psalm 7:12.

Verse 13. - Arise, O Lord (comp. Psalm 7:6; Psalm 9:19; Psalm 10:12; Psalm 44:26, etc.). Having described the character of the wicked man, and pointed out his ill desert (vers. 9-12), the psalmist now invokes God's vengeance upon him. "Right" requires equally the succour of the godly and the punishment of the ungodly man. Disappoint him, cast him down; literally, get before him, bow him down; i.e. intercept his spring, and bow him down to the earth (see Psalm 18:39). Deliver my soul from the wicked. This will be the result of the interposition. When the ungodly are cast down, the righteous are delivered out of their hand. Which is thy sword. 4. true statement (see Isaiah 10:5), but scarcely what the writer intended in this place, where he is regarding the wicked as altogether opposed to God. It is best to translate, with the Revised Version, Deliver my soul from the wicked by thy sword. Psalm 17:13The phrase קדּם פּני, antevertere faciem alicujus, means both to appear before any one with reverence, Psalm 95:2 (post-biblical: to pay one's respects to any one) and to meet any one as an enemy, rush on him. The foe springs like a lion upon David, may Jahve - so he prays - as his defence cross the path of the lion and intercept him, and cast him down so that he, being rendered harmless, shall lie there with bowed knees (כּרע, of the lion, Genesis 49:9; Numbers 24:9). He is to rescue his soul from the ungodly חרבּך. This חרבך, and also the ידך which follows, can be regarded as a permutative of the subject (Bצttcher, Hupfeld, and Hitzig), an explanation which is commended by Psalm 44:3 and other passages. But it is much more probable that more exact definitions of this kind are treated as accusatives, vid., on Psalm 3:5. At any rate "sword" and "hand" are meant as the instruments by which the פּלּט, rescuing, is effected. The force of פּלּטה extends into Psalm 17:14, and mimatiym (with a Chateph under the letter that is freed from reduplication, like ממכון, Psalm 33:14) corresponds to מרשׁע, as ידך to חרבּך. The word ממתים (plural of מת, men, Deuteronomy 2:34, whence מתם, each and every one), which of itself gives no complete sense, is repeated and made complete after the interruption cause by the insertion of ידך ה, - a remarkable manner of obstructing and then resuming the thought, which Hofmann (Schriftbeweis ii. 2. 495) seeks to get over by a change in the division of the verse and in the interpunction. חלד, either from חלד Syriac to creep, glide, slip away (whence חלדּה a weasel, a mole) or from חלד Talmudic to cover, hide, signifies: this temporal life which glides by unnoticed (distinct from the Arabic chald, chuld, an abiding stay, endless duration); and consequently חדל, limited existence, from חדל to have an end, alternates with חלד as a play upon the letters, comp. Psalm 49:2 with Isaiah 38:11. The combination מחלד מתים resembles Psalm 10:18; Psalm 16:4. What is meant, is: men who have no other home but the world, which passeth away with the lust thereof, men ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου τούτου, or υίοὶ τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου. The meaning of the further description חלקם בּחיּים (cf. Ecclesiastes 9:9) becomes clear from the converse in Psalm 16:5. Jahve is the חלק of the godly man; and the sphere within which the worldling claims his חלק is החיּים, this temporal, visible, and material life. This is everything to him; whereas the godly man says: טּוב חסדּך מחיּים, Psalm 63:4. The contrast is not so much between this life and the life to come, as between the world (life) and God. Here we see into the inmost nature of the Old Testament faith. To the Old Testament believer, all the blessedness and glory of the future life, which the New Testament unfolds, is shut up in Jahve. Jahve is his highest good, and possessing Him he is raised above heaven and earth, above life and death. To yield implicitly to Him, without any explicit knowledge of a blessed future life, to be satisfied with Him, to rest in Him, to hide in Him in the face of death, is the characteristic of the Old Testament faith. חלקם בחיים expresses both the state of mind and the lot of the men of the world. Material things which are their highest good, fall also in abundance to their share. The words "whose belly Thou fillest with Thy treasure" (Chethb: וּצפינך the usual participial form, but as a participle an Aramaising form) do not sound as though the poet meant to say that God leads them to repentance by the riches of His goodness, but on the contrary that God, by satisfying their desires which are confined to the outward and sensuous only, absolutely deprives them of all claim to possessions that extend beyond the world and this present temporal life. Thus, then, צפוּן in this passage is used exactly as צפוּנים is used in Job 20:26 (from צפן to hold anything close to one, to hold back, to keep by one). Moreover, there is not the slightest alloy of murmur or envy in the words. The godly man who lacks these good things out of the treasury of God, has higher delights; he can exclaim, Psalm 31:20 : "how great is Thy goodness which Thou hast laid up (צפנתּ) for those who fear Thee!" Among the good things with which God fills the belly and house of the ungodly (Job 22:17.) are also children in abundance; these are elsewhere a blessing upon piety (Psalm 127:3., Psalm 128:3.), but to those who do not acknowledge the Giver they are a snare to self-glorifying, Job 21:11 (cf. Wisdom Job 4:1). בּנים is not the subject, but an accusative, and has been so understood by all the old translators from the original text, just as in the phrase שׁבע ימים to be satisfied with, or weary of, life. On עוללים vid., on Psalm 8:3. יתר (from יתר to stretch out in length, then to be overhanging, towering above, projecting, superfluous, redundant) signifies here, as in Job 22:20, riches and the abundance of things possessed.
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