Psalm 38:20
They also that render evil for good are mine adversaries; because I follow the thing that good is.
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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 render evil for good - They whose characteristic it is to return evil for good, are opposed to me. This implies that those who were now seeking his ruin had been formerly benefitted by him. They were persons who cherished no grateful recollection of favors bestowed on them, but who found a pleasure in persecuting and wronging their benefactor. Compare Psalm 35:12-16. "Are my adversaries." Are now opposed to me; have become my enemies.

Because I follow the thing that good is - This properly means, Because I follow the good. The Hebrew word rendered "because" - תחת tachath - means properly the lower part; what is underneath; then, below; beneath. The idea here is, that the "underlying reason" of what they did was that he followed good, or that he was a righteous man; or, as we say, This was "at the bottom" of all their dealings with him. Sinner as he felt he was (and as he acknowledged he was) before God, and true as it was that his "sickness" was brought upon him by God for his sinfulness, yet the reason why "men" treated him as they did, was that he was a friend of God - a religious man; and their conduct, therefore, was sheer persecution. We may, with entire consistency, be very humble before God, and acknowledge that we deserve all that He brings upon us; and yet, at the same time, we may be sensible that we have not wronged men, and that their conduct toward us is wholly undeserved, is most ungrateful, is sheer malignity against us.

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.

They render evil for good; they hate and persecute me, not only without any injury or provocation on my part, but as it were in requital of the good which I have done to them.

Because I follow the thing that good is; because I love and diligently practise justice and godliness, which they hate, and which they take to be a reproach to them, and which I did exercise, as I had opportunity, in the punishment of such as they are. Compare John 15:19 1Jo 3:12.

They also that render evil for good are mine adversaries,.... See Gill on Psalm 35:12;

because I follow the thing that good is; or "follow good"; a good God, whom his soul followed hard after, Psalm 63:8; the good Shepherd of the sheep, who led him into green pastures, whither he followed him, Psalm 23:1; the good Spirit of God his guide, whom he walked after, Romans 8:1; good and holy men of God, whom he took for examples and copied after; and every good work, which he pursued with eagerness and pleasure; and all this drew upon him the hatred of his adversaries.

They also that render evil for good are mine adversaries; because I follow the thing that {o} good is.

(o) He would rather have the hatred of all the world, than fail in any part of his duty to God.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
20. Yea, and rewarding evil for good

They are adversaries unto me, for my following of good.

Not, in return for my pursuit of good in general, but, in return for the good I have striven to do for them. The point is their base ingratitude. Cp. Psalm 35:12-13, note.

Verse 20. - They also that render evil for good are mine adversaries (comp. Psalm 35:12). Because I follow the thing that good is; literally, because I follow good. Psalm 38:20(Heb.: 38:16-23) Become utterly useless in himself, he renounces all self-help, for (כּי) he hopes in Jahve, who alone can help him. He waits for His answer, for (כי) he says, etc. - he waits for an answer, for the hearing of this his petition which is directed towards the glory of God, that God would not suffer his foes to triumph over him, nor strengthen them in their mercilessness and injustice. Psalm 38:18 appears also to stand under the government of the פּן;

(Note: The following are the constructions of פן when a clause of ore than one member follows it: (1) fut. and perf., the latter with the tone of the perf. consec., e.g., Exodus 34:15., or without it, e.g., Psalm 28:1 (which see); (2) fut. and fut. as in Psalm 2:12, Jeremiah 51:46. This construction is indispensable where it is intended to give special prominence to the subject notion or a secondary notion of the clause, e.g., Deuteronomy 20:6. In one instance פן is even followed (3) by the perf. and fut. consec., viz., 2 Kings 2:10.)

but, since in this case one would look for a Waw relat. and a different order of the words, Psalm 38:18 is to be regarded as a subject clause: "who, when my foot totters, i.e., when my affliction changes to entire downfall, would magnify themselves against me." In Psalm 38:18, כּי connects what follows with בּמוט רגלי by way of confirmation: he is נכון לצלע, ready for falling (Psalm 35:15), he will, if God does not graciously interpose, assuredly fall headlong. The fourth כּי in Psalm 38:19 is attached confirmatorily to Psalm 38:18: his intense pain or sorrow is ever present to him, for he is obliged to confess his guilt, and this feeling of guilt is just the very sting of his pain. And whilst he in the consciousness of well-deserved punishment is sick unto death, his foes are numerous and withal vigorous and full of life. Instead of חיּים, probably חנּם, as in Psalm 35:19; Psalm 69:5, is to be read (Houbigant, Hitzig, Kster, Hupfeld, Ewald, and Olshausen). But even the lxx read חיים; and the reading which is so old, although it does not very well suit עצמוּ (instead of which one would look for ועצוּמים), is still not without meaning: he looks upon himself, according to Psalm 38:9, more as one dead than living; his foes, however, are חיּים, living, i.e., vigorous. The verb frequently ash this pregnant meaning, and the adjective can also have it. Just as the accentuation of the form סבּוּ varies elsewhere out of pause, ורבּוּ here has the tone on the ultima, although it is not perf. consec.

(Note: As perf. consec. the following have the accent on the ultima: - וחתּוּ, Isaiah 20:5, Obadiah 1:9, and ורבּוּ, Isaiah 66:16; perhaps also וחדּוּ, וקלּוּ, Habakkuk 1:8, and ורבּוּ (perf. hypoth.), Job 32:15. But there is no special reason for the ultima-accentuation of רכּוּ, Psalm 55:22; רבּוּ, Psalm 69:5; דּלּוּ, Isaiah 38:14; קלּוּ, Jeremiah 4:13; שׁחוּ, Proverbs 14:19; Habakkuk 3:6; חתּוּ, Job 32:15; זכּוּ, צחוּ, Lamentations 4:7.)

Psalm 38:21 is an apposition of the subject, which remains the same as in Psalm 38:20. Instead of רדופי (Ges. 61, rem. 2) the Ker is רדפי, rādephî (without any Makkeph following), or רדפי, rādophî; cf. on this pronunciation, Psalm 86:2; Psalm 16:1, and with the Chethb רדופי, the Chethb צרופה, Psalm 26:2, also מיורדי, Psalm 30:4. By the "following of that which is good" David means more particularly that which is brought into exercise in relation to his present foes.

(Note: In the Greek and Latin texts, likewise in all the Aethiopic and several Arabic texts, and in the Syriac Psalterium Medilanense, the following addition is found after Psalm 38:21 : Ce aperripsan me ton agapeton osi necron ebdelygmenon, Et projecerunt me dilectum tanquam mortuum abominatum (so the Psalt. Veronense). Theodoret refers it to Absalom's relation to David. The words ὡσεὶ νεκρὸν ἐβδελυγμένον are taken from Isaiah 14:19.)

He closes in Psalm 38:22 with sighs for help. No lighting up of the darkness of wrath takes place. The fides supplex is not changed into fides triumphans. But the closing words, "O Lord, my salvation" (cf. Psalm 51:16), show where the repentance of Cain and that of David differ. True repentance has faith within itself, it despairs of itself, but not of God.

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