Psalm 62:3
How long will you imagine mischief against a man? you shall be slain all of you: as a bowing wall shall you be, and as a tottering fence.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) Imagine mischief.—This is the Rabbinical rendering of a word that occurs only here. The LXX. have “fall upon”; Vulg., “rush upon,” a meaning supported by an Arabic root meaning to storm or assault, and is so far preferable to Aquila’s and Jerome’s “plot against,” and Symmachus’ “labour in vain,” or Syriac, “act foolishly.”

Ye shall be slain.—The reading varies, the Tiberian school reading the verb passive, the Babylonian, active. The latter is supported by the ancient versions. The primary meaning is given to break, and we get:

How long will ye assault a man?

(How long) will ye try to break him down,

As if he were a bowing wall, a tottering fence.

The metaphor of the falling wall is common in Eastern proverbs. “The wall is bowing,” is said of a man at the point of death. “By the oppression of the headman, the people of that village are a ruined wall.”

Psalm 62:3. How long will ye — Mine enemies, (to whom he now turns his speech,) imagine mischief against a man — Against me, a man like yourselves, whom common humanity obliges you to pity; a single man, who is no fit match for you? Ye shall be slain all of you — The mischief which ye design for me shall fall upon your own heads. And accordingly Saul, and the generality of these men, were slain, 1 Samuel 31. As a bowing wall shall ye be — As suddenly and easily overthrown; as a tottering fence — The word fence, or hedge, does not fully express the sense of the original word, גדר, gadeer, “which means such a sort of partition, or wall, as, when it is decayed, is liable to fall and crush a man to death. In this view the similitude is, not that they should be in a ruinous condition, like a decayed wall, but that they should threaten destruction to all who came near them, as a falling wall does to all those who come within the reach of it; and as Isaiah expresses it, Like a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly in an instant, Isaiah 30:13.” — See Green.62:1-7 We are in the way both of duty and comfort, when our souls wait upon God; when we cheerfully give up ourselves, and all our affairs, to his will and wisdom; when we leave ourselves to all the ways of his providence, and patiently expect the event, with full satisfaction in his goodness. See the ground and reason of this dependence. By his grace he has supported me, and by his providence delivered me. He only can be my Rock and my salvation; creatures are nothing without him, therefore I will look above them to him. Trusting in God, the heart is fixed. If God be for us, we need not fear what man can do against us. David having put his confidence in God, foresees the overthrow of his enemies. We have found it good to wait upon the Lord, and should charge our souls to have such constant dependence upon him, as may make us always easy. If God will save my soul, I may well leave every thing else to his disposal, knowing all shall turn to my salvation. And as David's faith in God advances to an unshaken stedfastness, so his joy in God improves into a holy triumph. Meditation and prayer are blessed means of strengthening faith and hope.How long will ye imagine mischief against a man? - The original word here rendered "imagine mischief," from התת hâthath, occurs only in this place. It means, according to Gesenius (Lexicon), to break in upon; to set upon; to assail: "How long will ye break in upon a man?" that is, set upon him. So the Septuagint, and the Latin Vulgate. It does not refer to their merely forming purposes of mischief against a man, but to their making assaults upon him; to their endeavoring to take his life or to destroy him. The address here is to the enemies of David, and the language would apply well to the attempts made upon his life by Absalom and his followers. The question here is, "how long" they would continue to do this; how long they would show this determined purpose to take his life; whether they would never cease thus to persecute him. They had already done it long; they had showed great perseverance in this course of wickedness; and he asks whether it would never come to an end? Who these persons were he does not intimate; but there can be no great danger of mistake in referring the description to Absalom and his adherents.

Ye shall be slain all of you - Prof. Alexander renders this entire passage," Will ye murder (that is, seek to murder him) all of you (combined against a single person, who is consequently) like wall inclined (or bent by violence), fence (or hedge) crushed (broken down)." So, substantially, DeWette renders it. Those who thus interpret the passage give it an active signification, meaning that his enemies pressed upon him, like a wall that was bent by violence, or a fence that was likely to fall on one. The original word rendered "ye shall be slain," traatschuw - תרצחוּ terâtsechû, is in the active form (Piel), and cannot without violence be rendered in the passive, as it is in our translation. But the active form may still be retained, and a consistent meaning be given to the whole passage without the forced meaning put on it in the rendering by Prof. Alexander. It is not natural to speak of enemies as so coming on a man as to make him like a falling wall, or a tottering fence. The evident idea is, that they themselves would be as a falling wall; that is, that they would be defeated or disappointed in their purpose, as a wall that has no solid foundation tumbles to the ground. The meaning of the original may be thus expressed: "How long will ye assail a man, that ye may put him to death? All of you shall be as a bowing wall," etc. That is, You will not accomplish your design; you will fail in your enterprise, as a wall without strength falls to the ground.

As a bowing wall - A wall that bows out, or swells out; a wall that may fall at any moment. See the notes at Isaiah 30:13.

And as a tottering fence - A fence that is ready to fall; that has no firmness. So it would be with them. Their purposes would suddenly give way, as a fence does when the posts are rotted off, and when there is nothing to support it.

3. Their destruction will come; as a tottering wall they already are feeble and failing.

bowing wall shall ye be—better supply "are." Some propose to apply these phrases to describe the condition of "a man"—that is, the pious suffer: thus, "Will ye slay him," &c.; but the other is a good sense.

Ye, mine enemies, to whom now he turneth his speech.

Against a man, i.e. against me, a man like yourselves, whom common humanity obligeth you to pity; a single man, who is no fit match for you; a poor, contemptible, miserable, and impotent creature, as the word

man is oft used, as Psalm 9:20 82:7, &c., a dead dog, or a flea, or a partridge, as upon the same account he calleth himself, 1 Samuel 24:14 26:20, whom you cannot thus pursue without reflecting disparagement upon yourselves, as he there saith. Ye shall be slain all of you; the mischief which you design for me shall fall upon your own heads. And accordingly Saul and the generality of these men were slain, 1 Samuel 31.

As a bowing wall shall ye be, and as a tottering fence, i.e. as suddenly and easily overthrown as these are. How long will ye imagine mischief against a man?.... Against a good man, as the Targum; or against any Israelite, as Kimchi; or rather he means himself, a single man, a weak man, and an innocent one; which aggravated their sin, in devising his hurt, and contriving ways to take away his life, as did Saul and his courtiers; and, Absalom, and those that were with him. R. Jonah, from the Arabic language, interprets the word here used of putting or drawing out the tongue to a great length; that is, multiplying words, as lies and calumnies, in agreement with Psalm 62:4; but Jarchi, Aben Ezra, and Kimchi, explain it as we do, of devising mischief. The Targum is,

"how long do ye rage against a good man?''

Ye shall be slain all of you; this is a further aggravation of their folly, since it would issue in their own ruin; the mischief they devised for him would fall upon themselves. Some understand this , "by way of prayer"; as Aben Ezra, Kimchi, and Ben Melech,

"may ye be slain all of you:''

there is a double reading of these words; Ben Napthali, who is followed by the eastern Jews, reads them actively, "ye shall slay"; with which agree the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions; and so the Targum,

"ye shall become murderers all of you.''

Ben Asher, who is followed by the western Jews, reads passively as we do, "ye shall be slain"; and which is approved by Aben Ezra, Kimchi, and others;

as a bowing wall shall ye be, and as a tottering fence; which are easily and suddenly pushed down; and so these similes denote the easy, sudden, and certain destruction of those men; see Isaiah 36:13; though some connect the words with the men against whom mischief was imagined by his enemies, who was like a bowing wall and a tottering fence; and so are expressive of his weakness, and of the easy destruction of him; and read the words, "ye shall be slain all of you", in a parenthesis; but the former sense seems best.

How long will ye imagine mischief against a {c} man? ye shall be slain all of you: as a {d} bowing wall shall ye be, and as a tottering fence.

(c) He means himself, being the man whom God had appointed to the kingdom.

(d) Though you seem to be in honour, yet God will suddenly destroy you.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. How long] For the indignant remonstrance cp. Psalm 4:2, noting also the connexion of that verse with Psalm 62:4; Psalm 62:7; Psalm 62:9 of this Psalm. God is on his side; they cannot harm him; how long will they persist in the futile attempt?

will ye imagine mischief against a man?] This rendering, adopted from Jewish authorities by the scholars upon whom Coverdale largely relied, and passing on from him to the later versions, rests upon an impossible derivation. Render with R.V., following LXX and Vulg., will ye set upon a man. The corresponding Arabic word is said to be still used in Damascus in the sense of ‘to intimidate,’ ‘to threaten with violence.’

ye shall be slain] This is the reading of R. Aaron ben Asher, a famous Jewish scholar of the 10th century, whose authority was generally followed in the West. But the reading of his rival, R. Moses ben Naphtali, which makes the verb active (the difference is one of vowel points only) suits the context better. Render with R.V., that ye may slay him, or better still, returning to the primary meaning of the verb in connexion with the metaphor of the next line,

Battering him, all of you,

Like a toppling wall, like a tottering fence.

The blows of calamity have already taken effect, and they are eager to complete his ruin. Wycliffe gives a graphic rendering of the Vulg.; ‘a wal bowid, and a wal of stoon with out morter cast down.’ “The metaphor of the falling wall is common in Eastern proverbs. ‘The wall is bowing,’ is said of a man at the point of death. ‘By the oppression of the headman the people of that village are a ruined wall.’ ” (Aglen.)

all of you] In contrast to ‘a man’; fur though the Psalmist was not alone (Psalm 62:8) he was the principal object of attack. Cp. 2 Samuel 17:1 ff.Verse 3. - How long will ye imagine mischief agaiust a man? rather, How long will ye assault (or, set upon) a man? Attack him, that is - seek to do him grievous hurt, as ye are attacking me. Ye shall be slain all of you; rather, that ye may crush him, all of you together. The hope of the conspirators under Absalom was in their united strength. As a bowing wall shall ye be, and as a tottering fence. The words supplied in the Authorized Version should be omitted. It is David who is viewed by his enemies as a bulged wall (see Isaiah 30:15) or a tottering fence, which it requires only a strong push to throw down. The second part begins with a confirmation of the gracious purpose of God expressed in Psalm 61:5. David believes that he shall experience what he gives expression to in Psalm 61:5; for God has already practically shown him that neither his life nor his kingship shall come to an end yet; He has answered the prayers of His chosen one, that, blended with vows, resulted from the lowly, God-resigned spirit which finds expression in 2 Samuel 15:25., and He has given or delivered up to him the land which is his by inheritance, when threatened by the rebels as robbers, - the land to which those who fear the covenant God have a just claim. It is clear enough that the receivers are "those who fear the name of Jahve;" the genitive relation describes the ירשּׁה as belonging to them in opposition to those who had usurped it. Or does ירשּׁה here perhaps mean the same as ארשׁת in Psalm 21:3? Certainly not. נתן ירשּׁה ל is a customary phrase, the meaning of which, "to give anything to any one as his inheritance or as his own property," is to be retained (e.g., Deuteronomy 2:19). God has acknowledged David's cause; the land of Israel is again wrested from those to whom it does not belong; and now begins a new era in the reign of its rightful king. In view of this the king prays, in Psalm 61:7, Psalm 61:8, that God would add another goodly portion to the duration of his life. The words sound like intercession, but the praying one is the same person as in Psalm 61:2-5. The expression מלכּא משׁיחא (the King Messiah) of the Targum shows to whom the church referred the word "king" after the extinction of the Davidic dynasty. The exalted tone of the wish expressed in Psalm 61:7 (cf. Joel 2:2) favours this without absolutely requiring it (cf. עולמים, Psalm 61:5, Psalm 21:5, and the royal salutation, 1 Kings 1:31; Daniel 2:4, and frequently). There ought (as also e.g., in Psalm 9:8) not to be any question whether ישׁב in Psalm 61:8 signifies "to sit enthroned," or "to sit" equals "to abide;" when the person spoken of is a king it means "to remain enthroned," for with him a being settled down and continuous enthronement are coincident. מן in Psalm 61:8 is imperat. apoc. for מגּה (after the form הס, נס, צו). The poet prays God to appoint mercy and truth as guardian angels to the king (Psalm 40:12, Proverbs 20:28, where out of pause it is צּרוּ; cf. on the other hand Psalm 78:7; Proverbs 2:11; Proverbs 5:2). Since the poet himself is the king for whom he prays, the transition to the first person in v. 9 is perfectly natural. כּן signifies, as it always does, so or thus equals in accordance therewith, corresponding to the fulfilment of these my petitions, thankfully responding to it. לשׁלּמי is the infinitive of the aim or purpose. Singing praise and accompanying it with music, he will make his whole life one continuous paying of vows.
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