Psalm 64:7
But God shall shoot at them with an arrow; suddenly shall they be wounded.
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(7, 8) The meaning of these verses is clear. In the moment of their imagined success, their deeply-laid schemes just on the point of ripening, a sudden Divine retribution overtakes the wicked, and all their calumnies, invented with such cunning, fall back on their own heads. But the construction is most perplexing. The text presents a tangled maze of abrupt clauses, which, arranged according to the accents, run: And God shoots an arrow, sudden are their wounds, and they make it (or him) fall on themselves their tongue. The last clause seems to pronounce the law which obtains in Divine judgment. While God orders the retribution it is yet the recoil of their own evil on the guilty. In these cases,

“We still have judgment here, that we but teach

Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return

To plague the inventor; this evenhanded justice

Commends the ingredients of our poisoned chalice

To our own lips.”


Flee away.—The verb (nādad) properly means to flutter the wings like a bird (Isaiah 10:14).

Psalm 64:7. But God shall shoot at them — Though I can neither search out nor prevent their subtle devices, yet God can, and will certainly do it, for he ordains his arrows against persecutors, Psalm 7:13, and his arrows will hit more surely, and fly more swiftly, and pierce more deeply than theirs do or can. They have many arrows, but they are only words, though bitter, and the curse causeless shall not come: but God has one arrow that will be their destruction; his curse, which is never causeless, and therefore shall come. Suddenly shall they be wounded — That is, their wound by it will be a surprise upon them, because they were secure, and not apprehensive of any danger.64:7-10 When God brings upon men the mischiefs they have desired on others, it is weight enough to sink a man to the lowest hell. Those who love cursing, it shall come upon them. Those who behold this shall understand, and observe God's hand in all; unless we do so, we are not likely to profit by the dispensations of Providence. The righteous shall be glad in the Lord; not glad of the misery and ruin of their fellow-creatures, but glad that God is glorified, and his word fulfilled, and the cause of injured innocence pleaded effectually. They rejoice not in men, nor in themselves, nor in any creature, or creature enjoyments, nor in their wisdom, strength, riches, or righteousness; but in Christ, in whom all the seed of Israel are justified and glory, and in what he is to them, and has done for them.But God shall shoot at them with an arrow - That is, Instead of their being able to carry out their purposes of shooting the arrows which they had prepared against others, God will shoot his arrows against them. The tables will be turned. They themselves will experience what they had intended to inflict on others. God will deal with them as they intended to deal with others. The sentiment here is substantially the same as in Psalm 7:15; see the notes at that passage. It is also in accordance with what we often find in the writings of David, when in the close of a psalm he expresses a confident expectation that the prayer which he had offered in the beginning would be heard, or rejoices in the assurance that he had been heard. The idea, also, is involved in this part of the psalm that God will deal with men as they purpose to deal with others; that is, according to their true character. Compare the notes at Psalm 18:25-26.

Suddenly shall they be wounded - Margin, their wound shall be. The Hebrew is, "Suddenly shall be their wounds." The idea is, that the wounds in the case would be theirs; and would be inflicted suddenly. The blows which they thought to give to others would come on themselves, and this would occur at an unexpected moment.

7. The contrast is heightened by representing God as using weapons like theirs.7 But God shall shoot at them with an arrow; suddenly shall they be wounded.

8 So they shall make their own tongue to fall upon themselves: all that see them shall flee away.

9 And all men shall fear, and shall declare the work of God; for they wisely consider of his doing.

10 The righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and shall trust in him; and all the upright in heart shall glory.

Psalm 64:7

"But God shall shoot at them with an arrow." They shoot, and shall be shot. A greater archer than they are shall take sure aim at their hearts. One of his arrows shall be enough, for he never misses his aim. The Lord turns the fables on his adversaries, and defeats them at their own weapons. "Suddenly shall they be wounded." They were looking to, surprise the saint, but, lo! they are taken at unawares themselves; they desired to inflict deadly wounds, and are smitten themselves with wounds which none can heal. While they were bending their bows, the great Lord had prepared his bow already, and he let slip the shaft when least they looked for such an unsparing messenger of justice. "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." The righteous need not learn the arts of self-defence or of attack, their avenge went is in better hands than their own.

Psalm 64:8

"So they shall make their own tongue to fall upon themselves." Their slander shall recoil. Their curses shall come home to roost. Their tongue shall cut their throats. It was both sword, and bow and arrow; it shall be turned against them, and bring home to them full punishment. "All that see them shall flee away." Afraid, both of them and their overthrow, their former friends shall give them wide space, lest they perish with them. Who cares to go near to Herod when the worms are eating him? or to be in the same chariot with Pharaoh when the waves roar round him? Those who crowded around a powerful persecutor, and cringed at his feet, are among the first to desert him in the day of wrath. Woe unto you, ye liars! Who will desire fellowship with you in your seething lake of fire?

Psalm 64:9

"And all men shall fear." They shall be filled with awe by the just judgments of God, as the Canaanites were by the overthrow of Pharaoh at the Red Sea. Those who might have been bold in sin shall be made to tremble and to stand in awe of the righteous Judge. "And shall declare the work of God." It shall become the subject of general conversation. So strange, so pointed, so terrible shall be the Lord's overthrow of the malicious, that it shall be spoken of in all companies. They sinned secretly, but their punishment shall be wrought before the face of the sun. "For they shall wisely consider of his doing." The judgments of God are frequently so clear and manifest that men cannot mis-read them, and if they have any thought at all, they must extract the true teaching from them. Some of the divine judgments are a great deep, but in the case of malicious persecutors the matter is plain enough, and the most illiterate can understand.

Psalm 64:10

"The righteous shall be glad in the Lord." Admiring his justice and fully acquiescing in its displays, they shall also rejoice at the rescue of injured innocence yet, their joy shall not be selfish or sensual, but altogether in reference to the Lord. "And shall trust in him." Their observation of providence shall increase their faith; since he who fulfils his threatenings will not forget his promises. "And all the upright in heart shall glory." The victory of the oppressed shall be the victory of all upright men; the whole host of the elect shall rejoice in the triumph of virtue. While strangers fear, the children are glad in view of their Father's power and justice. That which alarms the evil, cheers the good. Lord God of mercy, grant to us to be preserved from all our enemies, and saved in thy Son with an everlasting salvation.

God shall shoot at them; though I can neither search out or prevent their subtle devices, yet God can and will certainly do it.

Suddenly; shortly and unexpectedly. But God shall shoot at them with an arrow,.... With one or other of his four judgments; famine, pestilence, sword, and wild beasts, Ezekiel 14:21; which he brings upon wicked men; and may be compared to arrows, as they are, Ezekiel 5:16; because they move swiftly. The judgment of wicked men lingereth not, though it may seem to do so; and because they often come suddenly and at an unawares, when men are crying Peace, peace; and because they are sharp and piercing, penetrate deep and stick fast, and wound and kill; they are not arrows of deliverance, unless to the Lord's people, who, by his judgments on the wicked, are delivered from them; but destroying ones, 2 Kings 13:17; when God draws the bow and shoots, execution is done. This is said in opposition to what wicked men do, Psalm 64:3; and in just retaliation; they shoot at the perfect, and God shoots at them;

suddenly shall they be wounded; with the wound of an enemy, with the chastisement of a cruel one, with a deadly wound that shall never be healed; not with the arrow of God's word, but with the stroke of his hand; which comes suddenly, falls heavy, and makes the wound incurable.

But God shall shoot at them with an arrow; suddenly shall they be wounded.
7. Therefore God shoots at them with an arrow;

Suddenly are they smitten.

The peculiar idiom of the Heb. in this and the following verses conveys the idea that this judgement is the immediate consequence of their conduct, and though still future, is as certain as though it were already historical fact. Lit. So God hath shot … they have been wounded … and they have been made to stumble … and all men have feared, and they have declared … and understood &c.: Note the parallelism of this verse to Psalm 64:4, They aim their arrows at the righteous, unseen, as they fancy, by man, and unregarded by God; but swift retribution overtakes them unawares. Cp. Psalm 7:12 ff. R.V. follows the Massoretic accents in attaching with an arrow to the second line; but the balance of the clauses is in favour of dividing the verses as A.V. does, and the parallel with Psalm 64:4 is more striking if ‘suddenly’ occupies the same emphatic position at the beginning of the second line as there. Note how their punishment is described in terms of their crime (Psalm 64:4-5).

7–10. They may scheme, but in the midst of their schemes the arrow of divine judgement pierces them: by this exhibition of God’s justice all men are warned, and the righteous are encouraged.Verse 7. - But God shall shoot at them with an arrow. But God will interpose. As they have shot with their arrows at the righteous (ver. 3), so with his arrow shall God shoot at them. Suddenly shall they be wounded. The first word, "suddenly," may belong equally well either to the preceding or to the following clause. The result is all that is important. Not the righteous, but they themselves, shall receive the wound; literally, their wound shall be. The Psalm opens with an octostich, and closes in the same way. The infinitive noun שׂיח signifies a complaint, expressed not by the tones of pain, but in words. The rendering of the lxx (here and in Psalm 55:3) is too general, ἐν τῷ θέεσθαί με. The "terror" of the enemy is that proceeding from him (gen. obj. as in Deuteronomy 2:15, and frequently). The generic singular אויב is at once particularized in a more detailed description with the use of the plural. סוד is a club or clique; רגשׁה (Targumic equals המון, e.g., Ezekiel 30:10) a noisy crowd. The perfects after אשׁר affirm that which they now do as they have before done; cf. Psalm 140:4 and Psalm 58:8, where, as in this passage, the treading or bending of the bow is transferred to the arrow. דּבר מר is the interpretation added to the figure, as in Psalm 144:7. That which is bitter is called מר, root מר, stringere, from the harsh astringent taste; here it is used tropically of speech that wounds and inflicts pain (after the manner of an arrow or a stiletto), πικροὶ λόγοι. With the Kal לירות (Psalm 11:2) alternates the Hiph. ירהוּ. With פּתאם the description takes a new start. ולא ייראוּ, forming an assonance with the preceding word, means that they do it without any fear whatever, and therefore also without fear of God (Psalm 55:20; Psalm 25:18).
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