Psalm 38:12
They also that seek after my life lay snares for me: and they that seek my hurt speak mischievous things, and imagine deceits all the day long.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
38:12-22 Wicked men hate goodness, even when they benefit by it. David, in the complaints he makes of his enemies, seems to refer to Christ. But our enemies do us real mischief only when they drive us from God and our duty. The true believer's trouble will be made useful; he will learn to wait for his God, and will not seek relief from the world or himself. The less we notice the unkindness and injuries that are done us, the more we consult the quiet of our own minds. David's troubles were the chastisement and the consequence of his transgressions, whilst Christ suffered for our sins and ours only. What right can a sinner have to yield to impatience or anger, when mercifully corrected for his sins? David was very sensible of the present workings of corruption in him. Good men, by setting their sorrow continually before them, have been ready to fall; but by setting God always before them, they have kept their standing. If we are truly penitent for sin, that will make us patient under affliction. Nothing goes nearer to the heart of a believer when in affliction, than to be under the apprehension of God's deserting him; nor does any thing come more feelingly from his heart than this prayer, Be not far from me. The Lord will hasten to help those who trust in him as their salvation.They also that seek after my life - This was a new aggravation of his affliction, that those who were his enemies now sought to accomplish their purposes against him with better hopes of success, by taking advantage of his sickness.

Lay snares for me - On the meaning of this phrase, see the notes at Psalm 9:15. The idea here is that they sought this opportunity of ensnaring or entrapping him so as to ruin him. They took advantage of the fact that he was weak and helpless, and of the fact that he was forsaken or abandoned by his friends, to accomplish his ruin. how this was done is not stated. It might have been by their coming on him when he was thus helpless; or it might have been by endeavoring in his weak condition to extort confessions or promises from him that might be turned to his ruin. An enemy may hope to succeed much better when the one opposed is sick than when he is well, and may take advantage of his weak state of body and mind, and of the fact that he seems to be forsaken by all, to accomplish what could not be done if he were in the enjoyment of health, or sustained by powerful friends, or by a public opinion in his favor.

And they that seek my hurt - They who seek to injure me.

Speak mischievous things - Slanderous words. They charge on me things that are false, and that tend to injure me. The very fact that he was thus afflicted, they might urge (in accordance with a prevailing belief, and with the conviction of the psalmist also, Psalm 38:3-5) as a proof of guilt. This was done by the three friends of Job; and the enemies of the psalmist may thus have taken advantage of his sickness to circulate false reports about him which he could not then well meet.

And imagine deceits - Imagine or feign deceitful things; things which they know to be false or unfounded.

All the day long - Constantly. They seem to have no other employment. See Psalm 35:20.

12. seek after my life—(1Sa 20:1; 22:23). Lay snares for me; that if my disease do not kill me, they may destroy me some other way.

Imagine deceits; they design mischief, but cover it with fair pretences. They also that seek after my life,.... His avowed and implacable enemies, whom nothing would satisfy but the taking away of his life: these came too near him; for these, he says,

lay snares for me, as Satan does for the souls of men, as the Jews did for Christ, and as wicked men do for the saints, Psalm 124:7;

and they that seek my hurt speak mischievous things; to the injury of his character and reputation:

and imagine deceits all the day long; contrive artful schemes to deceive; see Psalm 35:20.

They also that seek after my life lay snares for me: and they that seek my hurt speak mischievous things, and imagine deceits all the day long.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. Pitiless enemies beset him. Comp. Psalm 35:4; Psalm 35:26.

mischievous things] Lit. destructions. See note on Psalm 5:9.

imagine] Lit. meditate. Contrast Psalm 37:26; Psalm 37:30.Verse 12. - They also that seek after my life lay snares for me. To the desertion of friends is added the persecution of enemies, who take advantage of the debility and prostration caused by sickness to plot against the writer's life, to "lay snares for him," and devise evil against him. Those who assign the psalm to David suppose the devices described in 2 Samuel 15:1-6 to he referred to. And they that seek my hurt speak mischievous things, and imagine deceits all the day long; literally, speak malignity; i.e. calumniate me - bring false accusations against me (comp. 2 Samuel 16:7, 8). (Heb.: 38:2-9) David begins, as in Psalm 6:1-10, with the prayer that his punitive affliction may be changed into disciplinary. Bakius correctly paraphrases. Psalm 38:2 : Corripe sane per legem, castiga per crucem, millies promerui, negare non possum, sed castiga, quaeso, me ex amore ut pater, non ex furore et fervore ut judex; ne punias justitiae rigore, sed misericordiae dulcore (cf. on Psalm 6:2). The negative is to be repeated in Psalm 38:2, as in Psalm 1:5; Psalm 9:19; Psalm 75:6. In the description, which give the ground of the cry for pity, נחת, is not the Piel, as in Psalm 18:35, but the Niphal of the Kal נחת immediately following (root נח). קצף is anger as a breaking forth, fragor (cf. Hosea 10:7, lxx φρύγανον), with ĕ instead of ı̆ in the first syllable, vowels which alternate in this word; and חמה, as a glowing or burning. חצּים (in Homer, κῆλα), God's wrath-arrows, i.e., lightnings of wrath, are His judgments of wrath; and יד, as in Psalm 32:4; Psalm 39:11, God's punishing hand, which makes itself felt in dispensing punishment, hence תּנחת might be attached as a mood of sequence. In Psalm 38:4 wrath is called זעם as a boiling up. Sin is the cause of this experiencing wrath, and the wrath is the cause of the bodily derangement; sin as an exciting cause of the wrath always manifests itself outwardly even on the body as a fatal power. In Psalm 38:5 sin is compared to waters that threaten to drown one, as in Psalm 38:5 to a burden that presses one down. ככבּדוּ ממּנּי, they are heavier than I, i.e., than my power of endurance, too heavy for me. In Psalm 38:6 the effects of the operation of the divine hand (as punishing) are wounds, חבּוּרת (properly, suffused variegated marks from a blow or wheals, Isaiah 1:6; from חבר, Arab. ḥbr, to be or make striped, variegated), which הבאישׁוּ, send forth an offensive smell, and נמקּוּ, suppurate. Sin, which causes this, is called אוּלת, because, as it is at last manifest, it is always the destruction of itself. With emphasis does מפּני אוּלתּי form the second half of the verse. To take נעויתי out of Psalm 38:7 and put it to this, as Meier and Thenius propose, is to destroy this its proper position. On the three מפּני, vid., Ewald, 217, l. Thus sick in soul and body, he is obliged to bow and bend himself in the extreme. נעוה is used of a convulsive drawing together of the body, Isaiah 21:3; שׁחח, of a bowed mien, Psalm 35:14; הלּך, of a heavy, lagging gait. With כּי in Psalm 38:8 the grounding of the petition begins for the third time. His כּסלים, i.e., internal muscles of the loins, which are usually the fattest parts, are full of נקלה, that which is burnt, i.e., parched. It is therefore as though the burning, starting from the central point of the bodily power, would spread itself over the whole body: the wrath of God works commotion in this latter as well as in the soul. Whilst all the energies of life thus yield, there comes over him a partial, almost total lifelessness. פּוּג is the proper word for the coldness and rigidity of a corpse; the Niphal means to be brought into this condition, just as נדכּא means to be crushed, or to be brought into a condition of crushing, i.e., of violent dissolution. The מן of מנּהמת is intended to imply that the loud wail is only the utterance of the pain that is raging in his heart, the outward expression of his ceaseless, deep inward groaning.
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