Psalm 21:12
Therefore shall you make them turn their back, when you shall make ready your arrows on your strings against the face of them.
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(12) Therefore.—Literally, for thou shalt put them shoulder (pones eos dorsum, Vulg.). Upon thy strings thou shalt aim against the face of them. Ewald renders: “Shalt strike them back;” but the English version seems to explain rightly To “give the neck of an enemy” (Psalm 18:4) is a similar form of expression.

Psalm 21:12. Therefore shalt thou make them turn their back — That is, flee away at the first sight of thee. Or, thou shalt set them as a butt to shoot at, as the like phrase is used Job 7:20; Job 16:12. When thou shalt make ready thine arrows, &c., against the face of them — Or, against them, the word face being often redundant. “The judgments of God are called his arrows, being sharp, swift, sure, and deadly. What a dreadful situation, to be set as a mark and butt, at which these arrows are directed! View Jerusalem compassed by the Roman armies without, and torn to pieces by the animosity of desperate and bloody factions within. No further commentary is requisite upon this verse. Tremble and repent, is the inference to be drawn by every Christian community under heaven, in which appear the symptoms of degeneracy and apostacy.” — Horne. 21:7-13 The psalmist teaches to look forward with faith, and hope, and prayer upon what God would further do. The success with which God blessed David, was a type of the total overthrow of all Christ's enemies. Those who might have had Christ to rule and save them, but rejected him and fought against him, shall find the remembrance of it a worm that dies not. God makes sinners willing by his grace, receives them to his favour, and delivers them from the wrath to come. May he exalt himself, by his all-powerful grace, in our hearts, destroying all the strong-holds of sin and Satan. How great should be our joy and praise to behold our Brother and Friend upon the throne, and for all the blessings we may expect from him! yet he delights in his exalted state, as enabling him to confer happiness and glory on poor sinners, who are taught to love and trust in him.Therefore shalt thou make them turn their back - Margin, "Thou shalt set them as a butt." The word back also is rendered in the margin "shoulder." The word translated "therefore" means in this placer or, and the rendering "therefore" obscures the sense. The statement in this verse in connection with the previous verse, is, that they would not be able to "perform" or carry out their well-laid schemes, "for" or "because" God would make them turn the back; that is, he had vanquished them. They were going forward in the execution of their purposes, but God would interpose and turn them back, or compel them to "retreat." The word rendered "back" in this place - שׁכם shekem - means properly "shoulder," or, more strictly, the "shoulder-blades," that is, the part where these approach each other behind; and then the upper part of the back. It is not, therefore, incorrectly rendered by the phrase "thou shalt make them turn "the back."" The expression is equivalent to saying that they would be defeated or foiled in their plans and purposes.

When thou shalt make ready thine arrows upon thy strings - Compare the notes at Psalm 11:2. That is, when God should go forth against them, armed as a warrior.

Against the face of them - Against them; or, in their very front. He would meet them as they seemed to be marching on to certain conquest, and would defeat them. It would not be by a side-blow, or by skillful maneuver, or by turning their flank and attacking them in the rear. Truth meets error boldly, face to face, and is not afraid of a fair fight. In every such conflict error will ultimately yield; and whenever the wicked come openly into conflict with God, they must be compelled to turn and flee.

12. turn their back—literally, "place them [as to the] shoulder."

against the face of them—The shooting against their faces would cause them to turn their backs in flight.

Turn their back, i.e. flee away at the first sight of thee, whereby also they will be a fit mark for thine arrows. Or, thou shalt set them as a butt to shoot at, as the like phrase is used, Deu 7:10 Job 7:20 16:12. Against the face of them; or, against them, the word

face being oft redundant. Therefore shall thou make them turn their back,.... Or flee and run away to private places, to hide themselves from the wrath of God and of the Lamb, though to no purpose; or "make them turn behind thy back": God will turn his back upon them, and be negligent and careless of them, and not regard them when they cry in their misery and destruction. Some Jewish interpreters (e) understand it of their being put together on one side, in one corner, and be separate from the people of God; to which sense the Targum inclines, rendering the word for "back" the "shoulder", which sometimes signifies unanimity and union, Zephaniah 3:9; and thus, being all together by themselves, the wrath of God shall be poured forth upon them, and they shall be destroyed at once: so the Christians were, by the providence of God, brought out of Jerusalem before its destruction; and the saints will be called out of Babylon before its fall; and the goats, the wicked, will be separated from the righteous, and set together at Christ's left hand; for they shall not stand in the congregation of the righteous: but the best sense of the words is, "thou shalt set them for a butt" or (f) "heap"; or, as it is in the Hebrew text, a shoulder; a butt to shoot at being so called, because it is earth heaped up like a shoulder; see Job 16:12; and to this agrees what follows:

when thou shalt make ready thine arrows upon thy strings against the face of them; that is, direct the arrows of his wrath and vengeance right against them; see Psalm 7:11.

(e) Kimchi & Ben Melech in loc. (f) "ponis eos metam", Cocceius; "humerum", Pagninus, Montanus, Gejerus; "velut tumulum", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

Therefore shalt thou make them {h} turn their back, when thou shalt make ready thine arrows upon thy strings against the face of them.

(h) As a mark to shoot at.

Verse 12. - Therefore shalt thou make them turn their back; literally, their neck (comp. Psalm 18:40). The meaning is simply, "Thou shalt put them to flight." When thou shalt make ready thine arrows upon thy strings against the face of them. The Authorized Version, by supplying "when" and "thine arrows," expresses what the psalmist has left to the intelligence of the reader. The psalmist says, "Thou shalt put them to flight; thou shalt make ready upon thy strings against the face of them, no doubt meaning that the discharge of arrows would produce the hasty flight, but not saying it. (Heb.: 21:6-7) The help of God turns to his honour, and paves the way for him to honour, it enables him-this is the meaning of. Psalm 21:6 - to maintain and strengthen his kingship with fame and glory. שׁוּה על used, as in Psalm 89:20, of divine investiture and endowment. To make blessings, or a fulness of blessing, is a stronger form of expressing God's words to Abram, Genesis 12:2 : thou shalt be a blessing i.e., a possessor of blessing thyself, and a medium of blessing to others. Joy in connection with (את as in Psalm 16:11) the countenance of God, is joy in delightful and most intimate fellowship with Him. חדּה, from חדה, which occurs once in Exodus 18:9, has in Arabic, with reference to nomad life, the meaning "to cheer the beasts of burden with a song and urge them on to a quicker pace," and in Hebrew, as in Aramaic, the general signification "to cheer, enliven."
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