Psalm 35:8
Let destruction come upon him at unawares; and let his net that he hath hid catch himself: into that very destruction let him fall.
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(8) Let destruction.—There is considerable difficulty here, and the ancient versions, by their variations, seem to point to some confusion in the text. The LXX., no doubt, are right in reading the pronouns as plurals, instead of singular. The word translated “destruction” means, primarily, a storm, or the crash that accompanies a storm (Proverbs 1:27), and if with the Syriac we might supply a clause, both parallelism and sense would be complete.

“Let men come upon him (them) unexpectedly.

Let the net which he had catch himself,

The pit which he (they) digged, let him (them) fall into it,

In ruin let him (them) fall into it.”

For “unawares,” see margin and Note, Song of Solomon 6:12.

Psalm 35:8-10. Let destruction come upon him — Upon each of thine and mine implacable enemies, of whom he had hitherto spoken. Or, rather, by this change of the plural number into the singular, he points at Saul, his chief and most implacable enemy. And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord — In and for his glory and service, which, by these means, will be advanced, and for his favour to me. All my bones shall say — My whole body, with all its members, as well as all the faculties of my soul, shall be affected with a deep sense of thy goodness toward me, and thereby shall set forth thy praise. The expressions are figurative, as where the bones are said to be vexed, and to rejoice, Psalm 6:2; Psalm 51:8, and the loins to bless, Job 31:20.

35:1-10 It is no new thing for the most righteous men, and the most righteous cause, to meet with enemies. This is a fruit of the old enmity in the seed of the serpent against the Seed of the woman. David in his afflictions, Christ in his sufferings, the church under persecution, and the Christian in the hour temptation, all beseech the Almighty to appear in their behalf, and to vindicate their cause. We are apt to justify uneasiness at the injuries men do us, by our never having given them cause to use us so ill; but this should make us easy, for then we may the more expect that God will plead our cause. David prayed to God to manifest himself in his trial. Let me have inward comfort under all outward troubles, to support my soul. If God, by his Spirit, witness to our spirits that he is our salvation, we need desire no more to make us happy. If God is our Friend, no matter who is our enemy. By the Spirit of prophecy, David foretells the just judgments of God that would come upon his enemies for their great wickedness. These are predictions, they look forward, and show the doom of the enemies of Christ and his kingdom. We must not desire or pray for the ruin of any enemies, except our lusts and the evil spirits that would compass our destruction. A traveller benighted in a bad road, is an expressive emblem of a sinner walking in the slippery and dangerous ways of temptation. But David having committed his cause to God, did not doubt of his own deliverance. The bones are the strongest parts of the body. The psalmist here proposes to serve and glorify God with all his strength. If such language may be applied to outward salvation, how much more will it apply to heavenly things in Christ Jesus!Let destruction come upon him at unawares - Margin, which "he knoweth not of." So the Hebrew. The meaning is, Let destruction come upon him when he is not looking for it, or expecting it.

And let his net that he hath hid catch himself - See the notes at Psalm 7:15-16. The psalmist prays here that the same thing may occur to his enemy which his enemy had designed for him. It is simply a prayer that they might be treated as they purposed to treat him.

7, 8. net in a pit—or, "pit of their net"—or, "net-pit," as "holy hill" for "hill of holiness" (Ps 2:6); a figure from hunting (Ps 7:15). Their imprecations on impenitent rebels against God need no vindication; His justice and wrath are for such; His mercy for penitents. Compare Ps 7:16; 11:5, on the peculiar fate of the wicked here noticed. Upon him, i.e. upon each of thine and mine implacable enemies, of whom he hath hitherto spoken.

Let destruction come upon him at unawares,.... Or a "storm" (r), such as is caused in the eastern countries by a south wind, very sudden, violent, and destructive (s): the singular number being here used, some Jewish commentators, as Kimchi, have thought Saul is particularly meant; and some Christian interpreters have been of opinion that Judas is intended: the imprecations here may be compared with those which respect him, Psalm 109:6. Though this may regard every one of the enemies of David, or of Christ and his people, whose ruin and destruction will come upon them unawares; see 1 Thessalonians 5:3;

and let his net that he hath laid catch himself; a figurative expression, agreeable to the allusion before made, and which is explained in the next clause;

into that very destruction let him fall, which he had designed and contrived for others; so Haman was hanged on the same gallows he had prepared for Mordecai; and so it often is in the course of Providence, that the wicked fall into the same calamity they have intended and endeavoured to bring others into; see Psalm 7:15.

(r) "tumultuosa calamitas", Cocceius; so Ainsworth; "tumultus", Vatablus. (s) See Thevenot, Tavernier, &c.

Let destruction come upon {f} him at unawares; and let his net that he hath hid catch himself: into {g} that very destruction let him fall.

(f) When he promises peace to himself.

(g) Which he prepared against the children of God.

8. Let his mischief recoil upon his own head. Cp. Psalm 7:15; Psalm 9:15; Psalm 57:6; and with the first line cp. Isaiah 47:11. Does the singular individualise each one of the enemies, or particularise one above all the rest, or speak of them collectively in the mass? It is less easy to decide here than in Psalm 7:2.

into that very destruction let him fall] R.V. renders, With destruction let him fall therein, retaining A.V. in the marg. But neither rendering is satisfactory; and it is possible (especially in view of the almost certain textual errors in Psalm 35:5-7) that the original reading was, and his pit that he hath dug, let him fall therein.

Verse 8. - Let destruction come upon him at unawares; i.e. let the evil happen to him that he designed against others. As he sought to catch others in traps of which they knew nothing (ver. 7), so let an unexpected destruction come upon him. And let his net that he hath hid catch himself (comp. Psalm 9:15, 16; Psalm 57:6; Psalm 141:10). It is the perfection of poetic justice when "the engineer" is "hoist by his own petard." Into that very destruction lot him fall; rather, for destruction let him fall therein; i.e. let him not only fall into his own trap, but let his fall prove his destruction. David's imprecations have always something about them from which the Christian shrinks; and this is particularly the case when he asks for his enemies' destruction. Psalm 35:8Psalm 35:7 also needs re-organising, just as in Psalm 35:5. the original positions of דחה and רדפס are exchanged. שׁחת רשׁתּם would be a pit deceptively covered over with a net concealed below; but, as even some of the older critics have felt, שׁחת is without doubt to be brought down from Psalm 35:7 into Psalm 35:7: without cause, i.e., without any provocation on my part, have they secretly laid their net for me (as in Psalm 9:16; Psalm 31:5), without cause have they digged a pit for my soul. In Psalm 35:8 the foes are treated of collectively. לא ידע is a negative circumstantial clause (Ew. 341, b): improviso, as in Proverbs 5:6; Isaiah 47:11 extrem. Instead of תּלכּדנּוּ the expression is תּלכּדוּ, as in Hosea 8:3; the sharper form is better adapted to depict the suddenness and certainty of the capture. According to Hupfeld, the verb שׁאה signifies a wild, dreary, confused noise or crash, then devastation and destruction, a transition of meaning which - as follows from שׁואה (cf. תּהוּ) as a name of the desolate steppe, from שׁוא, a waste, emptiness, and from other indications - is solely brought about by transferring the idea of a desolate confusion of tones to a desolate confusion of things, without any intermediate notion of the crashing in of ruins. But it may be asked whether the reverse is not rather the case, viz., that the signification of a waste, desert, emptiness or void is the primary one, and the meaning that has reference to sound (cf. Arab. hwâ, to gape, be empty; to drive along, fall down headlong, then also: to make a dull sound as of something falling, just like rumor from ruere, fragor (from frangi) the derived one. Both etymology (cf. תּהה, whence תּהוּ) and the preponderance of other meanings, favour this latter view. Here the two significations are found side by side, inasmuch as שׁואה in the first instance means a waste equals devastation, desolation, and in the second a waste equals a heavy, dull sound, a rumbling (δουπεῖν). In the Syriac version it is rendered: "into the pit which he has digged let him fall," as though it were שׁחת in the second instance instead of שׁואה; and from his Hupfeld, with J. H. Michaelis, Stier, and others, is of opinion, that it must be rendered: "into the destruction which he himself has prepared let him fall." But this quam ipse paravit is not found in the text, and to mould the text accordingly would be a very arbitrary proceeding.
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