Psalm 38:11
My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore; and my kinsmen stand afar off.
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(11) Sore is rather stroke, as in margin, or plague. His friends, looking on him as “one smitten of God,” and thinking “he must be wicked to deserve such pain,” abandon him as too vile for their society.

Kinsmen.—Render rather, as in margin, neighbours, or near ones.

Those who should have been near me stand aloof.

Psalm 38:11-13. My lovers and friends stand aloof — Either through neglect and contempt, or disdain of me. They that seek my life lay snares for me — That if my affliction or trouble do not kill me, they may destroy me some other way; and imagine deceits all the day long — They design mischief, but cover it with fair pretences. But I, as a deaf man, heard it not — I carried myself toward them as if I had no ears to hear what they said, either to me or of me, nor a tongue to answer or reprove them for their reproaches and calumnies. And he was thus silent, not for want of just answers to them, but to testify his humiliation for his sins, and his acceptation of the punishment which he had brought upon himself.

38:1-11 Nothing will disquiet the heart of a good man so much as the sense of God's anger. The way to keep the heart quiet, is to keep ourselves in the love of God. But a sense of guilt is too heavy to bear; and would sink men into despair and ruin, unless removed by the pardoning mercy of God. If there were not sin in our souls, there would be no pain in our bones, no illness in our bodies. The guilt of sin is a burden to the whole creation, which groans under it. It will be a burden to the sinners themselves, when they are heavy-laden under it, or a burden of ruin, when it sinks them to hell. When we perceive our true condition, the Good Physician will be valued, sought, and obeyed. Yet many let their wounds rankle, because they delay to go to their merciful Friend. When, at any time, we are distempered in our bodies, we ought to remember how God has been dishonoured in and by our bodies. The groanings which cannot be uttered, are not hid from Him that searches the heart, and knows the mind of the Spirit. David, in his troubles, was a type of Christ in his agonies, of Christ on his cross, suffering and deserted.My lovers - See the notes at Psalm 31:11. The reference here is to those who professed to be his friends.

And my friends - The word used here means properly an acquaintance, a companion, a friend, Job 2:11; Job 19:21; then, a lover, a friend, a neighbor. The phrase here would be synonymous with our word "kinsmen."

Stand aloof - They are unwilling to come near me; they leave me to suffer alone.

From my sore - Margin: "stroke." The Hebrew word means properly a stroke, a blow, Deuteronomy 17:8; Deuteronomy 21:5; then a stroke in the sense of calamities or judgments, such as God brings upon men: Genesis 12:17; Exodus 11:1. The meaning here is, that they stand aloof from him, or refuse to come near him, as if he were afflicted with some contagious disease.

And my kinsmen - Margin: "neighbors." The Hebrew word used here - קרוב qârôb - means properly near, nigh; spoken of a place, Genesis 19:20; then of time, Isaiah 13:6; then of kindred or affinity, Numbers 27:11; and then of friendship, meaning our intimate acquaintance - as we should say, those who are "near" to us, Job 19:14. The word would be applicable to neighbors or to warm personal friends.

11, 12. Friends desert, but foes increase in malignity. Either through neglect, and contempt, or disdain of me; or through delicacy and abhorrency from loathsome and sadding spectacles; or through fear of infection, or some other inconveniences.

My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore,.... As if it was a plague sore, lest they should be infected with it; or because they could not bear the stench of his wounds, and the loathsomeness of his disease, or to see him in his agonies, and hear his roaring and his groans, Psalm 38:2; or as taking his case to be desperate, as if he was just dying, and no help could be given him, Psalm 38:10; If it was the leprosy, as some Jewish writers have affirmed, the word translated "sore", being used for the plague of the leprosy, they were obliged by the ceremonial law to keep at a distance from him: but this rather seems to be voluntary, and to proceed from neglect and contempt. These "lovers" and "friends" were such for whom David had had an affection, and had been friendly to, and therefore it was ungrateful in them to act the part they did; and such who had pretended love and friendship to him in his health and prosperity, but now had deserted him, which is a common case; see Job 19:13. Afflictions try men's friends; and as that is a time when friendly visits are most wanting and most useful, so it is an aggravation of the affliction, and makes it the heavier when such are denied;

and my kinsmen stand afar off; that were near to him by the ties of nature or friendship.

My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore; and my {i} kinsmen stand afar off.

(i) Partly for fear and partly for pride, they denied all duty and friendship.

11. from my sore] R.V. from my plague. The word is specially used of the plague of leprosy (Leviticus 13:3, &c.). His friends treat him as a leper, standing over against him, within sight but at a distance. Even his near kinsmen falsify their name by standing afar off. (LXX. οἱ ἔγγιστά μου μακρόθεν ἔστησαν.)

Comp. Psalm 31:11-13; Psalm 69:8; Psalm 88:18; Job 19:13 ff.; Isaiah 53:4.

Verse 11. - My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore; or, from my stroke (comp. Psalm 39:10, where the same word is used). The psalmist feels himself to be "stricken, smitten of God" (Isaiah 53:4). He looks for comfort and sympathy to his friends, but they, with a selfishness that is only too common, hold aloof, draw away item him, and desert him (comp. Job 19:13, 14). And my kinsmen stand afar off; or, my neighbours. The stricken deer is forsaken by the rest of the herd (comp. Matthew 26:56, 58). Psalm 38:11(Heb.: 38:10-15) Having thus bewailed his suffering before God, he goes on in a somewhat calmer tone: it is the calm of weariness, but also of the rescue which shows itself from afar. He has complained, but not as if it were necessary for him first of all to make God acquainted with his suffering; the Omniscient One is directly cognisant of (has directly before Him, נגד, like לנגד in Psalm 18:25) every wish that his suffering extorts from him, and even his softer sighing does not escape His knowledge. The sufferer does not say this so much with the view of comforting himself with this thought, as of exciting God's compassion. Hence he even goes on to draw the piteous picture of his condition: his heart is in a state of violent rotary motion, or only of violent, quickly repeated contraction and expansion (Psychol. S. 252; tr. p. 297), that is to say, a state of violent palpitation (סחרחר, Pealal according to Ges. 55, 3). Strength of which the heart is the centre (Psalm 40:13) has left him, and the light of his eyes, even of these (by attraction for גּם־הוּא, since the light of the eyes is not contrasted with anything else), is not with him, but has become lost to him by weeping, watching, and fever. Those who love him and are friendly towards him have placed themselves far from his stroke (nega`, the touch of God's hand of wrath), merely looking on (Obadiah 1:11), therefore, in a position hostile (2 Samuel 18:13) rather than friendly. מנּגד, far away, but within the range of vision, within sight, Genesis 21:16; Deuteronomy 32:52. The words וּקרובי מרחק עמדוּ, which introduce a pentastich into a Psalm that is tetrastichic throughout, have the appearance of being a gloss or various reading: מנּגד equals מרחק, 2 Kings 2:7. His enemies, however, endeavour to take advantage of his fall and helplessness, in order to give him his final death-blow. וינקּשׁוּ (with the ק dageshed)

(Note: The various reading וינקּשׁוּ in Norzi rests upon a misapprehended passage of Abulwald (Rikma, p. 166).)

describes what they have planned in consequence of the position he is in. The substance of their words is הוּות, utter destruction (vid., Psalm 5:10); to this end it is מרמות, deceit upon deceit, malice upon malice, that they unceasingly hatch with heart and mouth. In the consciousness of his sin he is obliged to be silent, and, renouncing all self-help, to abandon his cause to God. Consciousness of guilt and resignation close his lips, so that he is not able, nor does he wish, to refute the false charges of his enemies; he has no תּוכחות, counter-evidence wherewith to vindicate himself. It is not to be rendered: "just as one dumb opens not his mouth;" כ is only a preposition, not a conjunction, and it is just here, in Psalm 38:14, Psalm 38:15, that the manifest proofs in support of this are found.

(Note: The passages brought forward by Hupfeld in support of the use of כ as a conjunction, viz., Psalm 90:5; Psalm 125:1; Isaiah 53:7; Isaiah 61:11, are invalid; the passage that seems most to favour it is Obadiah 1:16, but in this instance the expression is elliptical, כּלא being equivalent to כאשׁר לא, like ללא, Isaiah 65:1, equals לאשׁר לא. It is only כּמו (Arab. kmâ) that can be used as a conjunction; but כ (Arab. k) is always a preposition in ancient Hebrew just as in Syriac and Arabic (vid., Fleischer in the Hallische Allgem. Lit. Zeitschr. 1843, Bd. iv. S. 117ff.). It is not until the mediaeval synagogal poetry (vid., Zunz, Synagogal-poesie des Mittelalters, S. 121, 381f.) that it is admissible to use it as a conjunction (e.g., כּמצא, when he had found), just as it also occurs in Himjaritic, according to Osiander's deciphering of the inscriptions. The verbal clause appended to the word to which this כ, instar, is prefixed is for the most part an attributive clause as above, but sometimes even a circumstantial clause (Arab. ḥâl), as in Psalm 38:14; cf. Sur. lxii. 5: "as the likeness of an ass carrying books.")

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