Psalm 56:6
They gather themselves together, they hide themselves, they mark my steps, when they wait for my soul.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) They hide themselves.—Better, they set spies.

Mark my steps.—Literally, watch my heels. (See Psalm 49:5; Psalm 89:51.)

56:1-7 Be merciful unto me, O God. This petition includes all the good for which we come to throne of grace. If we obtain mercy there, we need no more to make us happy. It implies likewise our best plea, not our merit, but God's mercy, his free, rich mercy. We may flee to, and trust the mercy of God, when surrounded on all sides by difficulties and dangers. His enemies were too hard for him, if God did not help him. He resolves to make God's promises the matter of his praises, and so we have reason to make them. As we must not trust an arm of flesh when engaged for us, so we must not be afraid of an arm of flesh when stretched out against us. The sin of sinners will never be their security. Who knows the power of God's anger; how high it can reach, how forcibly it can strike?They gather themselves together - That is, they do not attack me singly, but they unite their forces; they combine against me.

They hide themselves - They lurk in ambush. They do not come upon me openly, but they conceal themselves in places where they cannot be seen, that they may spring upon me suddenly.

They mark my steps - They watch me whatever I do. They keep a spy upon me, so that I can never be sure that I am not observed.

When they wait for my soul - As they watch for my life; or, as they watch for opportunities to take away my life. I am never secure; I know not at what time, or in what manner, they may spring upon me. This would apply to David when he fled to Achish, king of Gath; when he was driven away by him; and when he was watched and pursued by Saul and his followers as he fled into the wilderness. 1 Samuel 21:1-15; 22.

5, 6. A vivid picture of the conduct of malicious enemies. They gather themselves together; after they have severally employed their thoughts against me, they meet together to compare their thoughts, and to put them in execution.

They hide themselves; they lurk secretly, either that they may pry into all my most private actions, or that they may surprise me with mischief unawares. Compare Psalm 10:8 Proverbs 1:11.

They mark my steps, i.e. all my goings and doings, that they may find some occasion to reproach or entangle, and so destroy me.

My soul, or life, to wit, to take it away from me. They gather themselves together,.... And meet in some one place, to contrive ways and means to do hurt, and then assemble together again to put them in execution; as did the Jews with respect to Christ, Matthew 26:3. Aben Ezra supposes a various reading without any reason; and that, instead of which Jarchi renders "they lodge", and the Septuagint, and the versions following that, "they sojourn", it should be read "they assemble in troops": because they were many: but the sense is, "they stay" (x), or continue in some certain place:

they hide themselves; the Targum adds, "in ambush": they lay in wait, and caused others to lie in wait for him, in order to take him; as did Saul and his men, and the servants of the king of Gath;

they mark my steps; they observed where he went, that they might seize him; or they observed his heels, as the old serpent did the Messiah's, that he might bruise them; or they watched for his halting, as Jeremiah's familiars did for his;

when they wait for my soul; to take away his life, to destroy him; see Psalm 119:95; they wanted not a will to do it, they only waited for an opportunity. The Targum is,

"as they waited, they did to my soul:''

or rather, "after they had hoped for my soul" (y): when they had entertained hopes of taking him, this animated them to do the above things.

(x) "Commorabuntur", Montanus; "simul ipsi morantur", Vatablus; so Gussetius, p. 166. (y) Vid. Gusset. Ebr. Comment. p. 361.

{e} They gather themselves together, they hide themselves, they mark my steps, when they wait for my soul.

(e) As all the world against one man, and cannot be satisfied unless they have my life.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. they hide themselves] I.e., lie in wait for me; or according to the Kthibh, set an ambush. Cp. Psalm 59:3; Psalm 10:8-9.

they mark my steps] Like hunters tracking their game. “Go, I pray you,” said Saul to the men of Keilah, “and know and see his place where his haunt (lit. foot) is” (1 Samuel 23:22-23).

when they wait &c.] R.V., even as (marg. inasmuch as) they have waited for my soul; have been watching their opportunity to take my life. Cp. Psalm 119:95.Verse 6. - They gather themselves together, they hide themselves; or, "they gather themselves together; they set an ambush." They mark my steps, when they wait for my soul; literally, they, even they, mark my steps; i.e. they themselves, grand as they are, condescend to be spies, and track my footsteps. In spite of this interruption and the accompanying clashing in of the music. אשׁר .ci with its dependent clause continues the ויאנם, more minutely describing those whom God will answer in His wrath. The relative clause at the same time gives the ground for this their fate from the character they bear: they persevere in their course without any regard to any other in their godlessness. The noun חליפה, which is used elsewhere of a change of clothes, of a reserve in time of war, of a relief of bands of workmen, here signifies a change of mind (Targum), as in Job 14:14 a change of condition; the plural means that every change of this kind is very far from them. In Psalm 55:21 David again has the one faithless foe among the multitude of the rebels before his mind. שׁלמיו is equivalent to שׁלמים אתּו, Genesis 34:21, those who stood in peaceful relationship to him (שׁלום, Psalm 41:10). David classes himself with his faithful adherents. בּרית is here a defensive and offensive treaty of mutual fidelity entered into in the presence of God. By שׁלח and חלּל is meant the intention which, though not carried out as yet, is already in itself a violation and profanation of the solemn compact. In Psalm 55:22 the description passes into the tone of the caesural schema. It is impossible for מחמאת, so far as the vowels are concerned, to be equivalent to מחמאות, since this change of the vowels would obliterate the preposition; but one is forbidden to read מחמאות (Targum, Symmachus, Jerome) by the fact that פּיו (lxx τοῦ προσώπου αὐτοῦ, as in Proverbs 2:6) cannot be the subject to חלקוּ. Consequently מ belongs to the noun itself, and the denominative מחמאות (from חמאה), like מעדנּות (from עדן), dainties, signifies articles of food prepared from curdled milk; here it is used figuratively of "milk-words" or "butter-words" which come from the lips of the hypocrite softly, sweetly, and supplely as cream: os nectar promit, mens aconita vomit. In the following words וּקרב־לבּו (וּקרב) the Makkeph (in connection with which it would have to be read ukerob just the same as in Psalm 55:19, since the - has not a Metheg) is to be crossed out (as in fact it is even wanting here and there in MSS and printed editions). The words are an independent substantival clause: war (קרב, a pushing together, assault, battle, after the form כּתב mrof eh with an unchangeable â) is his inward part and his words are swords; these two clauses correspond. רכּוּ (properly like Arab. rkk, to be thin, weak, then also: to be soft, mild; root רך, רק, tendere, tenuare) has the accent on the ultima, vid., on Psalm 38:20. פּתיחה is a drawn, unsheathed sword (Psalm 37:14).

The exhortation, Psalm 55:23, which begins a new strophe and is thereby less abrupt, is first of all a counsel which David gives to himself, but at the same time to all who suffer innocently, cf. Psalm 27:14. Instead of the obscure ἅπαξ γεγραμ. יהבך, we read in Psalm 37:5 דרכך, and in Proverbs 16:3 מעשׂיך, according to which the word is not a verb after the form ידעך (Chajug', Gecatilia, and Kimchi), but an accusative of the object (just as it is in fact accented; for the Legarme of יהוה has a lesser disjunctive value than the Zinnor of יהבך). The lxx renders it ἐπίῤῥιψον ἐπὶ κύριον τὴν μέριμνάν σου. Thus are these words of the Psalm applied in 1 Peter 5:7. According to the Talmud יהב (the same form as קרב) signifies a burden. "One day," relates Rabba bar-Chana, B. Rosh ha-Shana, 26b, and elsewhere, "I was walking with an Arabian (Nabataean?) tradesman, and happened to be carrying a heavy pack. And he said to me, שׁקיל יהביך ושׁדי אגמלאי, Take thy burden and throw it on my camel." Hence it is wiser to refer יהב to יהב, to give, apportion, than to a stem יהב equals יאב, Psalm 119:131 (root אב, או), to desire; so that it consequently does not mean desiring, longing, care, but that which is imposed, laid upon one, assigned or allotted to one (Bttcher), in which sense the Chaldee derivatives of יהב (Targum Psalm 11:6; Psalm 16:5, for מנת) do actually occur. On whomsoever one casts what is allotted to him to carry, to him one gives it to carry. The admonition proceeds on the principle that God is as willing as He is able to bear even the heaviest burden for us; but this bearing it for us is on the other side our own bearing of it in God's strength, and hence the promise that is added runs: He will sustain thee (כּלכּל), that thou mayest not through feebleness succumb. Psalm 55:23 also favours this figure of a burden: He will not give, i.e., suffer to happen (Psalm 78:66), tottering to the righteous for ever, He will never suffer the righteous to totter. The righteous shall never totter (or be moved) with the overthrow that follows; whereas David is sure of this, that his enemies shall not only fall to the ground, but go down into Hades (which is here, by a combination of two synonyms, בּאר שׁחת, called a well, i.e., an opening, of a sinking in, i.e., a pit, as e.g., in Proverbs 8:31; Ezekiel 36:3), and that before they have halved their days, i.e., before they have reached the half of the age that might be attained under other circumstances (cf. Psalm 102:25; Jeremiah 16:11). By ואתּה אלהים prominence is given to the fact that it is the very same God who will not suffer the righteous to fall who casts down the ungodly; and by ואני David contrasts himself with them, as being of good courage now and in all time to come.

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