Psalm 38:19
But my enemies are lively, and they are strong: and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied.
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(19) But mine enemies are lively.—See margin. But the parallelism and a comparison with Psalm 35:19 lead to the suspicion that the true reading is “without cause.”

Psalm 38:19-20. Mine enemies are lively — Hebrew, living; that is, thriving, flourishing, and prosperous. They that render evil for good — That hate and persecute me, not only without any injury or provocation on my part, but, as it were, in requital of the good I have done to them. Because I follow the thing that good is — Because I love and diligently practise justice and piety, which they hate, and which I exercised, as I had opportunity, in the punishment of such as they are. 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.But mine enemies are lively ... - DeWette renders this, "My enemies live and are strong." The word translated "lively" - חיים chayiym - means properly "living, being alive." The literal translation would be, "My enemies, being alive, are strong." The idea is, that while he was weak and apparently near to death, they were in the full vigor of life and health. They were able to engage in active efforts to accomplish their purposes. They could take advantage of his weakness; and he could not contend with them, for he was no match for them. In every respect they had the advantage of him; and he prays, therefore, for the divine interposition in his behalf.

And they that hate me wrongfully - Hebrew, "falsely." See Psalm 35:19.

Are multiplied - They are numerous. They are constantly increasing.

19, 20. Still, while humbled before God, he is the victim of deadly enemies, full of malice and treachery.

enemies are lively—literally, "of life," who would take my life, that is, deadly.

Lively, Heb. living, i.e. thriving, or flourishing, or prosperous, as life is used, Psalm 22:26 34:12, and elsewhere. But mine enemies are lively,.... Or "living" (q) or "live"; not in a spiritual sense; for they had no lively hope, nor living faith, but were dead in trespasses and sins; nor merely in a natural sense, or corporeally, so David was living himself; but in great prosperity and worldly happiness, and so were brisk and cheerful, and lived a merry and pleasent life;

and they are strong; not only hale and robust in body, but abounded in riches and wealth, which are the strength of wicked men;

and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied; that is, such as hated him without a cause, and made lies and falsehoods the reasons of it: these increased in numbers, or in their outward state and circumstances; see Psalm 73:4.

(q) "viventes", Pagninus, Montanus, Musculus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius.

But mine {n} enemies are lively, and they are strong: and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied.

(n) In my greatest misery they most rejoice.

19. mine enemies are lively] He contrasts their vigour with his own weakness. But the expression is somewhat strange; and a comparison of Psalm 35:19 suggests that we should read without cause, corresponding to wrongfully in the next line, in place of are lively. The Hebrew words are very similar (חייםחנם).

wrongfully] Lit. falsely. Their hatred is based on misconception and misrepresentation.Verse 19. - But mine enemies are lively, and they are strong. The psalmist goes back to the thought of his enemies, to whom he has made no answer, and whom he has not ventured to rebuke (vers. 13, 14). He remembers that they are full of life and strength; he calls to mind the fact that they are many in number; he puts on record the cause of their enmity, which is not his sin, but his earnest endeavour to forsake his sin and follow after righteousness (ver. 20); and then, in conclusion, he makes a direct appeal to God for aid against them - first negatively (ver. 21), and then positively in the final outburst, "Make haste to help me, O Lord my Salvation" (ver. 22). And they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied. This suits well the time of Absalom's conspiracy, when day by day more and more of the people forsook David and joined the party of his son. (2 Samuel 15:12, 13). (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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