Psalm 64:8
So they shall make their own tongue to fall upon themselves: all that see them shall flee away.
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Psalm 64:8-9. They shall make their own tongue, &c. — The mischief of their hard speeches, and threats, and crafty counsels against me, shall be turned against themselves. All that see them shall flee away — Partly through abhorrence of them, and partly through fear of being involved in their destruction. Some think this was fulfilled in the death of Saul, when not only his army was dispersed, but the inhabitants of the neighbouring country were so terrified with his fall, and with that of his three sons, that they quitted their cities and fled, 1 Samuel 31:7. And all men shall fear — A great number of those who shall see this event shall be affected with a holy awe of God upon the consideration of it, and shall fear and tremble because of his judgments; shall fear being found persecutors of God’s people. And shall declare the work of God — His admirable work of divine wisdom, power, and faithfulness; they shall speak one to another, and to all about them, of the justice of God in punishing persecutors. For they shall wisely consider of his doing — Learning wisdom by the folly and misery of these persecutors, and avoiding those evil courses which brought ruin upon them. There is need of consideration and serious thought, rightly to take up such a matter of fact, and need of wisdom to put a true interpretation upon it. What God does is well worth our considering, Ecclesiastes 7:13. But it must be considered wisely, that we do not mistake the design of it, and the instruction it is intended to convey.

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.So they shall make their own tongue to fall upon themselves - In Psalm 64:3, their tongue is represented as a sword; and here, keeping up the figure, the tongue, as a sword, is represented as falling on them, or as inflicting the wound on themselves which they had intended to inflict on others. This might be rendered, "And they have cast him down; upon them is their own tongue;" or, "Upon them their own tongue has come." That is, someone would cast them down, and they would fall as if smitten by their own tongue like a sword. It is not said who would do this, but the most natural interpretation is that it would be done by God. The idea is, that the instrument which they had employed to injure others would be the means of their own ruin.

All that see them shall flee away - Compare Psalm 31:11. That is, they shall flee in consternation from those who are so fearfully overthrown. They shall see that God is just, and that He will punish the wicked; and they will desire to escape from a ruin so dreadful as that which comes upon the ungodly. The idea is, that when God punishes sinners, the effect on others is, and should be, to lead them to wish not to be associated with such people, but to escape from a doom so fearful.

8. their … tongue to fall, &c.—that is, the consequences of their slanders, &c. (compare Ps 10:2; 31:16).

all that see … away—Their partners in evil shall be terrified.

The mischief of their hard speeches, and threats, and crafty counsels against me shall be turned against themselves.

Shall flee away; partly through abhorrency of them, and partly through fear of being involved in their destruction.

So shall they make their own tongue to fall upon themselves,.... The evil things they have wished for, threatened unto, and imprecated on others, shall come upon themselves; the curses they have cursed others with shall come upon themselves; the pit they have dug for others, they fall into. So Haman, to whom some apply the psalm, was hanged on the gallows he made for Mordecai; and the accusers of Daniel, to whom others apply it, were cast into the same den of lions they procured for him; and Babylon, who has been drunk with the blood of the saints, shall have blood given her to drink.

all that see them shall flee away; not being able to help them, nor to bear the horrible sight, and fearing the same judgments should fall on themselves; see Numbers 16:34. Or, "they shall move themselves" (d); shake their heads in a way of derision, as Jarchi interprets it; or skip for joy, as the word is rendered in Jeremiah 48:27; and then it must be understood of the righteous; who, seeing the vengeance on the wicked, rejoice, as in Psalm 52:6; though, as they are afterwards particularly mentioned, others seem to be designed. The word is used for lamenting and bemoaning one's self, in Jeremiah 31:18; and so may be applied to the friends of the wicked lamenting and bemoaning their ruin, and their being bereaved of them, Revelation 18:9.

(d) "amovebunt se", Montanus; "commovebuntur", Vatablus.

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

(h) To see God's heavy judgments against them, and how he has caught them in their own snares.

8. So they shall make their own tongue to fall upon themselves] An untenable rendering of an obscure sentence. It is best to render, substantially as R.V., And they are made to stumble, their own tongue being against them. Lit. they make him stumble: the plural subject to the verb suggesting, as in Psalm 63:10, the idea of mysterious agents in God’s service, and the singular object regarding ‘the enemy’ (as in Psalm 64:1 b) collectively as a body. For the sense cp. Psalm 140:9; Psalm 7:15 f (note that v. 12 f are parallel to v. 7 here); Psalm 57:6. Their tongue, the weapon with which they sought to destroy others, is turned against themselves. Ahithophel’s fate may serve for illustration. Possible, but less satisfactory, is the rendering of R.V. marg.: So shall they against whom their tongue was make them to stumble. The context does not hint that their victims become their executioners.

shall flee away] For fear of sharing their fate (Numbers 16:34). But the right rendering certainly is, All that see their desire upon them shall wag the head, in scornful triumph, as Jeremiah 48:27, R.V.; cp. Psalm 22:7. See Psalm 52:6 ff.; Psalm 54:7; Psalm 59:10, and for the light in which such expressions of satisfaction are to be regarded see note on Psalm 58:11.

Verse 8. - So they shall make their own tongue to fall upon themselves; rather, so shall they be made to stumble; their own tongue shall be against them. The tongue, which they "whetted like a sword," shall be the principal means of bringing them into trouble (see 2 Samuel 17:1-23). All that see them shall flee away; rather, shall wag the head (Cheyne, Revised Version) in derision. Psalm 64:8Deep is man's heart and inward part, but not too deep for God, who knoweth the heart (Jeremiah 17:9.). And He will just as suddenly surprise the enemies of His anointed with their death-blow, as they had plotted it for him. The futt. consec. that follow represent that which is future, with all the certainty of an historical fact as a retribution springing from the malicious craftiness of the enemies. According to the accentuation, Psalm 64:8 is to be rendered: "then will Elohim shoot them, a sudden arrow become their wounds." Thus at length Hupfeld renders it; but how extremely puzzling is the meaning hidden behind this sentence! The Targum and the Jewish expositors have construed it differently: "Then will Elohim shoot them with arrows suddenly;" in this case, however, because Psalm 64:8 then becomes too blunt and bald, פּתאם has to be repeated in thought with this member of the verse, and this is in itself an objection to it. We interpunctuate with Ewald and Hitzig thus: then does Elohim shoot them with an arrow, suddenly arise (become a reality) their wounds (cf. Micah 7:4), namely, of those who had on their part aimed the murderous weapon against the upright for a sudden and sure shot. Psalm 64:9 is still more difficult. Kimchi's interpretation, which accords with the accents: et corruere facient eam super se, linguam suam, is intolerable; the proleptic suffix, having reference to לשׁונם (Exodus 3:6; Job 33:20), ought to have been feminine (vid., on Psalm 22:16), and "to make their own tongue fall upon themselves" is an odd fancy. The objective suffix will therefore refer per enallagen to the enemy. But not thus (as Hitzig, who now seeks to get out of the difficulty by an alteration of the text, formerly rendered it): "and they cause those to fall whom they have slandered [lit. upon whom their tongue came]." This form of retribution does not accord with the context; and moreover the gravely earnest עלימו, like the הוּ-, refers more probably to the enemies than to the objects of their hostility. The interpretation of Ewald and Hengstenberg is better: "and one overthrows him, inasmuch as their tongue, i.e., the sin of their tongue with which they sought to destroy others, comes upon themselves." The subject to ויּכשׁילהוּ, as in Psalm 63:11; Job 4:19; Job 7:3; Luke 12:20, is the powers which are at the service of God, and which are not mentioned at all; and the thought עלימו לשׁונם (a circumstantial clause) is like Psalm 140:10, where in a similar connection the very same singularly rugged lapidary, or terse, style is found. In Psalm 64:9 we must proceed on the assumption that ראה ב in such a connection signifies the gratification of looking upon those who are justly punished and rendered harmless. But he who tarries to look upon such a scene is certainly not the person to flee from it; התנודד does not here mean "to betake one's self to flight" (Ewald, Hitzig), but to shake one's self, as in Jeremiah 48:27, viz., to shake the head (Psalm 44:15; Jeremiah 18:16) - the recognised (vid., Psalm 22:8) gesture of malignant, mocking astonishment. The approbation is awarded, according to Psalm 64:10, to God, the just One. And with the joy at His righteous interposition, - viz. of Him who has been called upon to interpose, - is combined a fear of the like punishment. The divine act of judicial retribution now set forth becomes a blessing to mankind. From mouth to mouth it is passed on, and becomes an admonitory nota bene. To the righteous in particular it becomes a consolatory and joyous strengthening of his faith. The judgment of Jahve is the redemption of the righteous. Thus, then, does he rejoice in his God, who by thus judging and redeeming makes history into the history of redemption, and hide himself the more confidingly in Him; and all the upright boast themselves, viz., in God, who looks into the heart and practically acknowledges them whose heart is directed unswervingly towards Him, and conformed entirely to Him. In place of the futt. consec., which have a prophetic reference, simple futt. come in here, and between these a perf. consec. as expressive of that which will then happen when that which is prophetically certain has taken place.
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