Psalm 56:6
They gather themselves together, they hide themselves, they mark my steps, when they wait for my soul.
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(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.

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. Psalm 56:6This second strophe describes the adversaries, and ends in imprecation, the fire of anger being kindled against them. Hitzig's rendering is: "All the time they are injuring my concerns," i.e., injuring my interests. This also sounds unpoetical. Just as we say חמס תורה, to do violence to the Tפra (Zephaniah 3:4; Ezekiel 22:26), so we can also say: to torture any one's words, i.e., his utterances concerning himself, viz., by misconstruing and twisting them. It is no good to David that he asseverates his innocence, that he asserts his filial faithfulness to Saul, God's anointed; they stretch his testimony concerning himself upon the rack, forcing upon it a false meaning and wrong inferences. They band themselves together, they place men in ambush. The verb גּוּר signifies sometimes to turn aside, turn in, dwell ( equals Arab. jâr); sometimes, to be afraid ( equals יגר, Arab. wjr); sometimes, to stir up, excite, Psalm 140:3 ( equals גּרה); and sometimes, as here, and in Psalm 59:4, Isaiah 54:15 : to gather together ( equals אגר). The Ker reads יצפּונוּ (as in Psalm 10:8; Proverbs 1:11), but the scriptio plena points to Hiph. (cf. Job 24:6, and also Psalm 126:5), and the following המּה leads one to the conclusion that it is the causative יצפּינוּ that is intended: they cause one to keep watch in concealment, they lay an ambush (synon. האריב, 1 Samuel 15:5); so that המה refers to the liers-in-wait told off by them: as to these - they observe my heels or (like the feminine plural in Psalm 77:20; Psalm 89:52) footprints (Rashi: mes traces), i.e., all my footsteps or movements, because (properly, "in accordance with this, that," as in Micah 3:4) they now as formerly (which is implied in the perfect, cf. Psalm 59:4) attempt my life, i.e., strive after, lie in wait for it (קוּה like שׁמר, Psalm 71:10, with the accusative equals קוּה ל in Psalm 119:95). To this circumstantial representation of their hostile proceedings is appended the clause על־עון פּלּט־למו, which is not to be understood otherwise than as a question, and is marked as such by the order of the words (2 Kings 5:26; Isaiah 28:28): In spite of iniquity [is there] escape for them? i.e., shall they, the liers-in-wait, notwithstanding such evil good-for-nothing mode of action, escape? At any rate פּלּט is, as in Psalm 32:7, a substantivized finitive, and the "by no means" which belongs as answer to this question passes over forthwith into the prayer for the overthrow of the evil ones. This is the customary interpretation since Kimchi's day. Mendelssohn explains it differently: "In vain be their escape," following Aben-Jachja, who, however, like Saadia, takes פלט to be imperative. Certainly adverbial notions are expressed by means of על, - e.g., על־יתר ,., abundantly, Psalm 31:24; על־שׁקר, falsely, Leviticus 5:22 (vid., Gesenius, Thesaurus, p. 1028), - but one does not say על־הבל, and consequently also would hardly have said על־און (by no means, for nothing, in vain); moreover the connection here demands the prevailing ethical notion for און. Hupfeld alters פלט to פּלּס, and renders it: "recompense to them for wickedness," which is not only critically improbable, but even contrary to the usage of the language, since פלס signifies to weigh out, but not to requite, and requires the accusative of the object. The widening of the circle of vision to the whole of the hostile world is rightly explained by Hengstenberg by the fact that the special execution of judgment on the part of God is only an outflow of His more general and comprehensive execution of judgment, and the belief in the former has its root in a belief in the latter. The meaning of הורד becomes manifest from the preceding Psalm (Psalm 55:24), to which the Psalm before us is appended by reason of manifold and closely allied relation.
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