Psalm 64:3
Who whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words:
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(3) For the figure in this and the following verse, see Psalm 10:7; Psalm 11:2; Psalm 52:2; Psalm 57:4; Psalm 59:7.

“’Tis slander.

Whose edge is sharper than the sword.”


For the ellipse in “they bend (literally, tread) their arrows,” see Psalm 58:7.

64:1-6 The psalmist earnestly begs of God to preserve him from disquieting fear. The tongue is a little member, but it boasts great things. The upright man is the mark at which the wicked aim, they cannot speak peaceably either of him or to him. There is no guard against a false tongue. It is bad to do wrong, but worse to encourage ourselves and one another in it. It is a sign that the heart is hardened to the greatest degree, when it is thus fully set to do evil. A practical disbelief of God's knowledge of all things, is at the bottom of every wickedness. The benefit of a good cause and a good conscience, appears most when nothing can help a man against his enemies, save God alone, who is always a present help.Who whet their tongue like a sword - Who sharpen their tongue; that is, they utter words that will cut deep, or penetrate the soul. The idea is that of slander or reproach - the same idea which we have in Shakespeare (Cymbeline):

"'Tis slander;

Whose edge is sharper than the sword."

This comparison is a favorite one with David. Compare Psalm 52:2; Psalm 57:4; Psalm 59:7.

And bend their bows ... - That is, they prepare for this - as they make ready to shoot who bend their bows, and fix their arrows on the string. The idea here is, that this was deliberate, or was the result of counsel and purpose. It was not an outbreak of mere passion and excitement; it was by fixed design and careful preparation. See Psalm 11:2, note; Psalm 58:7, note.

Even bitter words - We apply the same term bitter now to words of malice and reproach.

3, 4. Similar figures for slander (Ps 57:4; 59:7).

bend—literally, "tread," or, "prepared." The allusion is to the mode of bending a bow by treading on it; here, and in Ps 58:7, transferred to arrows.

Bend their bows to shoot their arrows; of which phrase See Poole "Psalm 58:7". Bitter words; slanderous and pernicious speeches against me. Who whet their tongue like a sword,.... Use cutting, wounding, killing, and devouring words; on which they set an edge, and make them keener and keener to hurt and ruin the characters and reputations of good men, and grieve and distress their minds;

and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words; such are the these doctrines of heretical men, which are roots of bitterness, that defile some and trouble others; such are the oaths and curses of profane sinners, whose mouths are full of cursing and bitterness; and such are the blasphemies of antichrist against God, against his tabernacle, and against them that dwell therein; and such are the hard speeches spoken by ungodly sinners against Christ and his people; these are like arrows shot from a bow, and full of deadly poison. The Targum is

"they stretch out their bows, they anoint their arrows with deadly and bitter poison.''

There seems to be an allusion to fixing letters in arrows, and so shooting or directing them where it was desired they should fall and be taken up; so Timoxenus and Artobazus sent letters to one another in this way, at the siege of Potidaea (a): and after the same manner, the Jews say (b), Shebna and Joab sent letters to Sennacherib, acquainting him that all Israel were willing to make peace with him; but Hezekiah and Isaiah would not allow them to.

(a) Herodot. Urania, sive l. 8. c. 128. (b) Derash R. Aba in Kimchi in Psal. xi. 2.

Who whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even {d} bitter words:

(d) False reports and slanders.

3. Who whet] R.V., who have whet. For the comparison see Psalm 55:21; Psalm 57:4; Psalm 59:7.

and bend &c.] Render, They have aimed as their arrow a bitter scheme. For the peculiar phrase see Psalm 58:7. Dâbâr seems to mean scheme as in Psalm 64:5, rather than speech, or words. So the LXX πρᾶγμα πικρόν. Bitter = hurtful or venomous. Is the idea that of a poisoned arrow? The Targ. paraphrases, “They have anointed their arrows with deadly and bitter venom.”Verse 3. - Who whet their tongue like a sword (comp. Psalm 55:21; Psalm 57:4; Psalm 59:7). And bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words (comp. Psalm 11:2; Psalm 57:4). Calumny was what David especially feared, and what actually brought about his downfall (see 2 Samuel 15:2-6). The "bitterness" of his enemies is further emphasized by the speeches and curses of Shimei (2 Samuel 16:5-13). This strophe again takes up the כּן (Psalm 63:3): thus ardently longing, for all time to come also, is he set towards God, with such fervent longing after God will he bless Him in his life, i.e., entirely filling up his life therewith (בּחיּי as in Psalm 104:33; Psalm 146:2; cf. Baruch 4:20, ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις μου), and in His name, i.e., invoking it and appealing to it, will he lift up his hands in prayer. The being occupied with God makes him, even though as now in the desert he is obliged to suffer bodily hunger, satisfied and cheerful like the fattest and most marrowy food: velut adipe et pinguedine satiatur anima mea. From Leviticus 3:17; Leviticus 7:25, Grussetius and Frisch infer that spiritualies epulae are meant. And certainly the poet cannot have had the sacrificial feasts (Hupfeld) in his mind; for the חלב of the shelamim is put upon the altar, and is removed from the part to be eaten. Moreover, however, even the Tra does not bind itself in its expression to the letter of that prohibition of the fat of animals, vid., Deuteronomy 32:14, cf. Jeremiah 31:14. So here also the expression "with marrow and fat" is the designation of a feast prepared from well-fed, noble beasts. He feels himself satisfied in his inmost nature just as after a feast of the most nourishing and dainty meats, and with lips of jubilant songs (accus. instrum. according to Ges. 138, rem. 3), i.e., with lips jubilant and attuned to song, shall his mouth sing praise. What now follows in Psalm 63:7 we no longer, as formerly, take as a protasis subsequently introduced (like Isaiah 5:4.): "when I remembered...meditated upon Thee," but so that Psalm 63:7 is the protasis and Psalm 63:7 the apodosis, cf. Psalm 21:12; Job 9:16 (Hitzig): When I remember Thee (meminerim, Ew. 355, b) upon my bed (stratis meis, as in Psalm 132:3; Genesis 49:4, cf. 1 Chronicles 5:1) - says he now as the twilight watch is passing gradually into the morning - I meditate upon Thee in the night-watches (Symmachus, καθ ̓ ἑκάστην φυλακήν), or during, throughout the night-watches (like בּחיּי in Psalm 63:5); i.e., it is no passing remembrance, but it so holds me that I pass a great part of the night absorbed in meditation on Thee. He has no lack of matter for his meditation; for God has become a help (auxilio, vid., on Psalm 3:3) to him: He has rescued him in this wilderness, and, well concealed under the shadow of His wings (vid., on Psalm 17:8; Psalm 36:8; Psalm 57:2), which affords him a cool retreat in the heat of conflict and protection against his persecutors, he is able to exult (ארנּן, the potential). Between himself and God there subsists a reciprocal relationship of active love. According to the schema of the crosswise position of words (Chiasmus), אחריך and בּי intentionally jostle close against one another: he depends upon God, following close behind Him, i.e., following Him everywhere and not leaving Him when He wishes to avoid him; and on the other side God's right hand holds him fast, not letting him go, not abandoning him to his foes.
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