Psalm 40:14
Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil.
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40:11-17 The best saints see themselves undone, unless continually preserved by the grace of God. But see the frightful view the psalmist had of sin. This made the discovery of a Redeemer so welcome. In all his reflections upon each step of his life, he discovered something amiss. The sight and sense of our sins in their own colours, must distract us, if we have not at the same time some sight of a Saviour. If Christ has triumphed over our spiritual enemies, then we, through him, shall be more than conquerors. This may encourage all that seek God and love his salvation, to rejoice in him, and to praise him. No griefs nor poverty can render those miserable who fear the Lord. Their God, and all that he has or does, is the ground of their joy. The prayer of faith can unlock his fulness, which is adapted to all their wants. The promises are sure, the moment of fulfilment hastens forward. He who once came in great humility, shall come again in glorious majesty.Let them be ashamed and confounded together - See at Psalm 35:4, note; Psalm 35:26, note. This may be understood here rather as a confident expectation than a wish or desire. It implies the certainty that they would thus be ashamed and confounded; that is, that they would not be successful, or would be foiled in their purposes. But understood as a wish or prayer, it could not be improper. There is no sin in the wish that the wicked may not be successful in their plans, and may not be suffered to injure us. As the language of the Messiah it was in every way an appropriate prayer that the purposes of those who would defeat his design in coming into the world might be foiled - for on the execution of that design depended the salvation of a lost race.

That seek after my soul to destroy it - That seek after my life; that would destroy me. That is, they seek to kill me; they would take my life before the full time is come. As understood of the Messiah, this would refer to the times when his life was in danger, as it often was, before the full period had arrived for him to die: John 7:6; Matthew 26:18. The purpose of his enemies was to take his life; to prevent the spread of his doctrines; to cheek him in his work. The taking of his life at any time before the full period had arrived, or in any other way than that in which he had purposed to lay it down, would have been a defeat of his work, since in the plan of salvation it was contemplated that he should die at a certain time, and in a certain manner - that he should die at the time which had been predicted by the prophets, and in such a mode as to make an atonement for sin. All this would have been defeated if, before that time came, he had been put to death by stoning, or in any of the numerous ways in which his life was threatened.

Let them be driven backward, and put to shame, that wish me evil - Turned backward, as they are who are unsuccessful, or are defeated. Compare John 18:6.

14, 15. The language is not necessarily imprecatory, but rather a confident expectation (Ps 5:11), though the former sense is not inconsistent with Christ's prayer for the forgiveness of His murderers, inasmuch as their confusion and shame might be the very means to prepare them for humbly seeking forgiveness (compare Ac 2:37). Let them be ashamed, for the disappointment of their hopes and designs.

My soul, i.e. my life, as Exodus 4:9 1 Samuel 20:1. Let them be ashamed and confounded together,.... As they will be at the last day, when they shall see him whom they have pierced come in the clouds of heaven, in his own and his Father's glory, and in the glory of the holy angels;

that seek after my soul to destroy it; that is, his life, as did Herod in his infancy, and the Scribes and Pharisees, chief priests and elders of the people of the Jews, frequently, and at last accomplished what they sought after;

let them be driven backward; as those were who came with Judas into the garden to apprehend him, John 18:6;

and put to shame that wish me evil: as did the Jews, who sought all opportunities to ensnare him, and that they might have to accuse him to the Roman governor; and who earnestly desired his crucifixion, and vehemently wished his death; see Psalm 41:5.

Let them be {l} ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil.

(l) He desires that God's mercy may contend for him against the rage of his enemies.

14. The whole verse is a repetition, with variations, of Psalm 35:4; Psalm 35:26 (cp. Psalm 38:12); and v. 5-17 recall v. 21, 25, 27, 10 of the same Psalm. Together and to destroy it are omitted in Psalm 70:2.

let them be driven backward &c.] Render, as in Psalms 35;

Let them be turned back and brought to dishonour

That delight in my hurt.

Contrast Psalm 35:27 with the last line.Verse 14. - Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward, and put to shame, that wish me evil. The remainder of the psalm from this point is detached later on in the Psalter, and becomes a separate psalm - the seventieth. Whether the detachment was the work of David or another, is uncertain. The differences between the two versions are slight (see the comment on Psalm 70.). The present verse repeats almost exactly Psalm 35:4 and 26. It is again repeated, with slight variations, in Psalm 71:13. The connection of the thoughts is clear: great and manifold are the proofs of Thy loving-kindness, how am I to render thanks to Thee for them? To this question he first of all gives a negative answer: God delights not in outward sacrifices. The sacrifices are named in a twofold way: (a) according to the material of which they consist, viz., זבח, the animal sacrifice, and מנחה, the meal or meat offering (including the נסך, the wine or drink offering, which is the inalienable accessory of the accompanying mincha); (b) according to their purpose, in accordance with which they bring about either the turning towards one of the good pleasure of God, as more especially in the case of the עולה, or, as more especially in the case of the הטּאת (in this passage חטאה), the turning away of the divine displeasure. The fact of the זבח and עולה standing first, has, moreover, its special reason in the fact that זבח specially designates the shelamı̂m offerings, and to the province of these latter belongs the thank-offering proper, viz., the tôda-shelamı̂m offering; and that עולה as the sacrifice of adoration (προσευχή), which is also always a general thanksgiving (εὐχαριστία), is most natural, side by side with the shalemim, to him who gives thanks. When it is said of God, that He does not delight in and desire such non-personal sacrifices, there is as little intention as in Jeremiah 7:22 (cf. Amos 5:21.) of saying that the sacrificial Tra is not of divine origin, but that the true, essential will of God is not directed to such sacrifices.

Between these synonymous utterances in Psalm 40:7 and Psalm 40:7 stands the clause אזנים כּרית לּי. In connection with this position it is natural, with Rosenmller, Gesenius, De Wette, and Stier, to explain it "ears hast Thou pierced for me" equals this hast Thou engraven upon my mind as a revelation, this disclosure hast Thou imparted to me. But, although כּרה, to dig, is even admissible in the sense of digging through, piercing (vid., on Psalm 22:17), there are two considerations against this interpretation, viz.: (1) that then one would rather look for אזן instead of אזנים after the analogy of the phrases גּלה אזן, חעיר אזן, and פּתח אזן, since the inner sense, in which the external organs of sense, with their functions, have their basis of unity, is commonly denoted by the use of the singular; (2) that according to the syntax, חפצתּ, כּרית, and שׁאלתּ are all placed on the same level. Thus, therefore, it is with this very אזנים כרית לי that the answer is intended, in its positive form, to begin; and the primary passage, 1 Samuel 15:22, favours this view: "Hath Jahve delight in whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices as in one's obeying the voice of Jahve? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, to attend better than the fat of rams!" The assertion of David is the echo of this assertion of Samuel, by which the sentence of death was pronounced upon the kingship of Saul, and consequently the way of that which is well-pleasing to God was traced out for the future kingship of David. God - says David - desires not outward sacrifices, but obedience; ears hath He digged for me, i.e., formed the sense of hearing, bestowed the faculty of hearing, and given therewith the instruction to obey.

(Note: There is a similar expression in the Tamul Kural, Graul's translation, S. 63, No. 418: "An ear, that was not hollowed out by hearing, has, even if hearing, the manner of not hearing." The "hollowing out" meaning in this passage an opening of the inward sense of hearing by instruction.)

The idea is not that God has given him ears in order to hear that disclosure concerning the true will of God (Hupfeld), but, in general, to hear the word of God, and to obey that which is heard. God desires not sacrifices but hearing ears, and consequently the submission of the person himself in willing obedience. To interpret it "Thou hast appropriated me to Thyself לעבד עולם," after Exodus 21:6; Deuteronomy 15:17, would not be out of harmony with the context; but it is at once shut out by the fact that the word is not אזן, but אזנים. Concerning the generalizing rendering of the lxx, σῶμα δὲ κατηρτίσω μου, following which Apollinaris renders it αὐτὰρ ἐμοί Βροτέης τεκτήναο σάρκα γενέθλης, and the Italic (which is also retained in the Psalterium Romanum), corpus autem perfecisti mihi; vide on Hebrews 10:5, Commentary, S. 460f. transl. vol. ii. p. 153.

The אז אמרתּי, which follows, now introduces the expression of the obedience, with which he placed himself at the service of God, when he became conscious of what God's special will concerning him was. With reference to the fact that obedience and not sacrifice has become known to him as the will and requirement of God, he has said: "Lo, I come," etc. By the words "Lo, I come," the servant places himself at the call of his master, Numbers 22:38; 2 Samuel 19:21. It is not likely that the words בּמגלּת ספר כּתוּב עלי then form a parenthesis, since Psalm 40:9 is not a continuation of that "Lo, I come," but a new sentence. We take the Beth, as in Psalm 66:13, as the Beth of the accompaniment; the roll of the book is the Tra, and more especially Deuteronomy, written upon skins and rolled up together, which according to the law touching the king (Deuteronomy 17:14-20) was to be the vade-mecum of the king of Israel. And עלי cannot, as synonymous with the following בּמעי, signify as much as "written upon my heart," as De Wette and Thenius render it-a meaning which, as Maurer has already correctly replied, עלי obtains elsewhere by means of a conception that is altogether inadmissible in this instance. On the contrary, this preposition here, as in 2 Kings 22:13, denotes the object of the contents; for כּתב על signifies to write anything concerning any one, so that he is the subject one has specially in view (e.g., of the judicial decision recorded in writing, Job 13:26). Because Jahve before all else requires obedience to His will, David comes with the document of this will, the Tra, which prescribes to him, as a man, and more especially as the king, the right course of conduct. Thus presenting himself to the God of revelation, he can say in Psalm 40:9, that willing obedience to God's Law is his delight, as he then knows that the written Law is written even in his heart, or, as the still stronger expression used here is, in his bowels. The principal form of מעי, does not occur in the Old Testament; it was מעים (from מע, מעה, or even מעי), according to current Jewish pronunciation מעים (which Kimchi explains dual); and the word properly means (vid., on Isaiah 48:19) the soft parts of the body, which even elsewhere, like רחמים, which is synonymous according to its original meaning, appear pre-eminently as the seat of sympathy, but also of fear and of pain. This is the only passage in which it occurs as the locality of a mental acquisition, but also with the associated notion of loving acceptance and cherishing protection (cf. the Syriac phrase סם בגו מעיא, som begau meajo, to shut up in the heart equals to love). That the Tra is to be written upon the tables of the heart is even indicated by the Deuteronomion, Deuteronomy 6:6, cf. Proverbs 3:3; Proverbs 7:3. This reception of the Tra into the inward parts among the people hitherto estranged from God is, according to Jeremiah 31:33, the characteristic of the new covenant. But even in the Old Testament there is among the masses of Israel "a people with My law in their heart" (Isaiah 51:7), and even in the Old Testament, "he who hath the law of his God in his heart" is called righteous (Psalm 37:31). As such an one who has the Tra within him, not merely beside him, David presents himself on the way to the throne of God.

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