Psalm 37:20
But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away.
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(20) As the fat of lambs.—It is now generally allowed that this should be rendered as the glory of the meadows, recurring to the image of Psalm 37:2. The next clause may then be either, they are consumed, with smoke they are consumed; or, they pass away, like smoke they pass away.

37:7-20 Let us be satisfied that God will make all to work for good to us. Let us not discompose ourselves at what we see in this world. A fretful, discontented spirit is open to many temptations. For, in all respects, the little which is allotted to the righteous, is more comfortable and more profitable than the ill-gotten and abused riches of ungodly men. It comes from a hand of special love. God provides plentifully and well, not only for his working servants, but for his waiting servants. They have that which is better than wealth, peace of mind, peace with God, and then peace in God; that peace which the world cannot give, and which the world cannot have. God knows the believer's days. Not one day's work shall go unrewarded. Their time on earth is reckoned by days, which will soon be numbered; but heavenly happiness shall be for ever. This will be a real support to believers in evil times. Those that rest on the Rock of ages, have no reason to envy the wicked the support of their broken reeds.But the wicked shall perish - The general sentiment here is the same as in Psalm 1:1-6, that the righteous shall be prospered and saved, and that the wicked shall perish. See the notes at Psalm 1:4-5. The word "perish" here would be applicable to any form of destruction - death here, or death hereafter - for it is equivalent to the idea that they shall be "destroyed." Whether the psalmist means here to refer to the fact that they will be cut off from the earth, or will be punished hereafter in the world of woe, cannot be determined from the word itself. It is most probable, as appears from other parts of the psalm, that he refers particularly to the fact that they will be cut down in their sins; that their lives will be shortened by their crimes; that they will by their conduct expose themselves to the displeasure of God, and thus be cut off. The "word" used, however, would also express the idea of destruction in the future world in any form, and may have a significance beyond anything that can befall men in this life. Compare 2 Thessalonians 1:8; Matthew 25:46.

And the enemies of the Lord - All the enemies of God; all who can properly be regarded as his foes.

Shall be as the fat of lambs - Margin, "the preciousness of lambs." Gesenius renders this, "like the beauty of the pastures." Prof. Alexander, "like the precious" (part) "of lambs;" that is, the sacrificial parts, or the parts that were consumed in sacrifice. De Wette, "as the splendor of the pasture." The Vulgate and the Septuagint render it: "the enemies of the Lord, as soon as they are honored and exalted, shall fail as if they were smoke." Rosenmuller renders it as it is in our common version. It is not easy to determine the meaning. The word rendered "fat" - יקר yâqâr - means properly that which is precious, costly, weighty, as precious gems; then, anything dear, beloved, or valuable; then, that which is honored, splendid, beautiful, rare. It is in no other instance rendered "fat;" and it cannot be so rendered here, except as "fat" was considered valuable or precious. But this is a forced idea. The word כר kar, properly and commonly means a "lamb;" but it also may the "pasture" or "meadow" where lambs feed. Psalm 65:13 : "the "pastures" - כרים kariym - are clothed with flocks." Isaiah 30:23, "in that day shall thy cattle feed in large "pastures" - where the same word occurs. It seems to me, therefore, that the interpretation of Gesenius, DeWette, and others, is the correct interpretation, and that the idea is, that the wicked in their pride, beauty, and wealth, shall be like the meadow covered with grass and flowers, soon to be cut down by the scythe of the mower, or by the frosts of winter. This image often occurs: Matthew 6:30; Psalm 90:5-6; Isaiah 40:6-8; James 1:10; 1 Peter 1:24.

They shall consume - The word used here means to be completed or finished; to be consumed or spent, as by fire, or in any other manner; to pine away by weeping, Lamentations 2:11; to vanish as a cloud or smoke, Job 7:9.

Into smoke - The meaning here is not that they will vanish as the fat of lambs does in sacrifice, but simply that they will pass away as smoke entirely disappears. All that there was of them - their wealth, their splendor, their power - shall utterly vanish away. This is spoken in contrast with what would be the condition of the righteous.

Psalm 37:20.It is applied to time, as vanishing and disappearing Job 7:6; and to the destruction or perishing of men; Jeremiah 16:4; Ezekiel 5:13. The idea is that of complete and entire consumption and destruction, so that none shall be left. Applied to future punishment, it means that the destruction of sinners shall be total and complete. There shall be no sinner who shall not be destroyed; and there shall be none destroyed whose destruction shall not be entire and total. The expression here refers to the heavy calamities which were about to come upon the guilty nation, but it is as descriptive of the future punishment that shall come upon the wicked.

20. While the wicked, however mighty, are destroyed, and that utterly, as smoke which vanishes and leaves no trace. Fat of lambs, which in an instant melteth before the fire. Consume into smoke, i.e. utterly and irrecoverably,

But the wicked shall perish,.... In a time of famine, in an evil day, and particularly at the day of judgment: for this is to be understood, not merely of being in bodily distress and want; nor of perishing by death, common to the righteous and the wicked; nor of being in a lost perishing condition, as all men by nature are, but of eternal perdition in hell;

and the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs, they shall consume; that is, either they shall consume away as the fat of lambs burnt upon the altar, which evaporates, or as lambs fattened on purpose to be killed, and so prepared for the day of slaughter; in like manner the wicked, who have waxed fat and kicked, will be destroyed; they being the enemies of God, yea, enmity to him, to Father, Son, and Spirit, to the Gospel and ordinances of Christ, and to his people, and will be treated as such. Some render the word, "like the excellency of pastures" (s); the grass of the field, which is cut down and withers presently; see Psalm 37:2;

into smoke shall they consume away, or "with" (t) it; that is, as it; see Psalm 68:1; or "in smoke" (u); in the smoke of eternal torments, or hell, as the Targum.

(s) "sicut pretiosum pratorum", Muis; so some in Piscator; "vel gloria", Michaelis. (t) "cum fumo", Gejerus, Tigurine version; so Ainsworth. (u) "In fumo", Montanus, Musculus, Michaelis.

But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD shall be as the {n} fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away.

(n) They will vanish away suddenly for they are fed for the day of slaughter.

20. Stanza of Kaph. The end of the wicked.

the enemies of the Lord] For His people’s enemies are His enemies. Cp. Psalm 92:9.

as the fat of lambs] A rendering derived from the Targum. But the consumption of the fat of the sacrifice upon the altar would be a strange simile for the evanescence of the wicked: and we must render as the excellency of the pastures, or, (R.V.) as the splendour of the meadows. The gay show of flowers, so quickly vanishing, is an apt emblem for the short-lived pomp of the wicked.

The force of the comparison is hardly realised in our moist northern climate, where verdure is perpetual. “But let a traveller ride over the downs of Bethlehem in February, one spangled carpet of brilliant flowers, and again in May, when all traces of verdure are gone; or let him push his horse through the deep solid growth of clovers and grasses in the valley of the Jordan in the early spring, and then return and gallop across a brown, hard-baked, gaping plain in June, … and the Scriptural imagery will come home to him with tenfold power.” Tristram’s Natural History of the Bible, p. 455. Cp. Psalm 37:2; Matthew 6:29-30; James 1:10-11.

they shall consume &c. Lit. they are consumed; in smoke (or, like smoke) are they consumed away. Smoke is in itself a natural figure of speedy and complete disappearance (Hosea 13:3): possibly, however, the idea of the preceding line is continued, and we are to think of “the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven” (Matthew 6:30). The perfect tense, as in Psalm 36:12, forcibly expresses the realising certainty of faith.

Verse 20. - But the wicked shall perish (comp. vers. 2, 9, 10, 15, 36); literally, for the wicked shall perish. The happiness of the righteous cannot be complete until the wicked are removed out of their way; since, so long as they continue in the world, they will be ever vexing the righteous and troubling them (Psalm 56:1). And the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs. So, many of the old commentators, as Aquila, Kimchi, and others; and among moderns, Rosenmuller, and Professor Alexander. But the bulk of recent critics translate, as the excellency of the pastures (Hupfeld, Kay, Hengstenberg, Canon Cook, Cheyne, Revised Version); i.e. the rich herbage which is burnt up by the heat of summer (comp. ver. 2). Both translations seem to be tenable; but the latter is perhaps preferable, since the consumption of the fat of lambs upon the altar is connected with the idea, not of rejection, but of acceptance. Into smoke shall they consume away (comp. Psalm 102:3). Psalm 37:20With כּי the preceding assertion is confirmed by its opposite (cf. Psalm 130:4). כּיקר בּרים forms a fine play in sound; יקר is a substantivized adjective like גּדל ekil evitcejda, Exodus 15:16. Instead of בעשׁן, it is not to be read כּעשׁן, Hosea 13:3; the ב is secured by Psalm 102:4; Psalm 78:33. The idea is, that they vanish into smoke, i.e., are resolved into it, or also, that they vanish in the manner of smoke, which is first thick, but then becomes thinner and thinner till it disappears (Rosenm׬ller, Hupfeld, Hitzig); both expressions are admissible as to fact and as to the language, and the latter is commended by בּהבל, Psalm 78:33, cf. בּצלם, Psalm 39:7. בעשׁן belongs to the first, regularly accented כּלוּ; for the Munach by בעשׂן is the substitute for Mugrash, which never can be used where at least two syllables do not precede the Silluk tone (vid., Psalter ii. 503). The second כּלוּ has the accent on the penult. for a change (Ew. 194, c), i.e., variation of the rhythm (cf. למה למה, Psalm 42:10; Psalm 43:2; עורי עורי, Judges 5:12, and on Psalm 137:7), and in particular here on account of its pausal position (cf. ערוּ, Psalm 137:7).
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